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I'm very pleased to announce the winners of each Javyar's Tales competition here. Please see the posts below for the winning author's tale and a list of the runners-up.

 

February '07 Tale topic: Love

Winner: JasraLantill for "First Love, Last Embrace"

 

March '07 Tale topic: Betrayal

Winner: Jae Onasi for Love's Treachery

 

May '07 Tale topic: Mayday--Dramatic Rescue

Winner: JediAthos for Death of a Prophecy

 

June/July '07 topic: Bounty Hunters

Winner: machievelli for Divided Bounty

 

July/August '07 topic: Pratfalls

Winner: Tysyacha for Lord Malak's Jaw-Dropping Day

 

August/September '07 topic: The Great Fall

Winner: Bee Hoon for Frozen.

 

October/November '07 topic: Redemption

Winner: igyman for A Reason to Kill

 

December '07 topic: How Malak Lost His Jaw

Winner: True_Avery for Gray Code: Way of the Sith

 

January '07 topic: Mandalorian Wars

Winners: machievelli for Dxun Memories and Sabretooth for Healing the Enemy

 

February '08 topic: The Things We Do For Love

Winner: Writer for The Fate of the Galaxy Hacker

 

April '08 topic: The Little Things that Make Us Happy

Winner: Bee Hoon for Popsicle Bliss.

 

May '08 Topic: What would you be willing to sacrifice and why?

Winner: ForceFightsWMe12 for The Blackest of Angels

 

June '08 topic: It Deserved to be Alive

Winners: Tysyacha for Recollection: They Deserve to be Alive and Ztalker for The Beauty and the Wookie

 

July-August '08: Secrets

Winner: True_Avery for Two Roads

 

September '08: Origins

Winner: Inyri for You're Only Young Twice

 

October '08: Breaking the Rules!

Winner: Tysyacha for Starship of Fools

 

November '08: Decisions

Winner: CommanderQ for In the end

 

December '08: Secrets of the Holidays

Winner: Chevron 7 locke for Christmas on the Ebon Hawk

 

January '09: What is a Hero?

Winners: Salzella for Good Hero/Bad Hero and Mr_BFA for Not For Me

 

February '09: Essence of the Dark Side

Winner: Bee Hoon for Silence

 

March '09: Farewells

Winner: Kado Sunrider for A Father's Love

 

April '09: Conclave

Winner: Writer for Conspiracy, Betrayal, Destiny

 

May '09: That Special Tune

Winner: vanir for Intention

 

July '09: Navigational Error

Winners: Writer for Haven and Black Knight of Keno for From Error to Destiny

 

August '09: The Horrors of Loss

Winner: vanir for Whole lotta loss

 

September '09: Getting the crystals

Winner: machievelli for Heart of Stone

 

October '09: How does it feel?

Winner by default: Hallucination for Untitle 2: This time I'm trying to win by default

 

November '09: Getting to Know Each Other

Winner: Writer for A World Overturned

 

December '09/January '10: In the Face of Darkness, Joy

Winner: Kyvios for A Name Never Known

 

February'10: The Ship, The Ship

Winners: Writer with Freedom and machievelli with Sleeping Dragons by machievelli

Edited by JediMaster12
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The winner and runners-up were determined by readers' votes, and without further ado, here they are. :)

 

First Place with 12 votes:

JasraLantill for "First Love, Last Embrace"

 

Second Place was a tie with 8 votes each:

Sabretooth for

"Is this Love?"

and

Emperor Devon for Love is a Lie

 

Third Place with 6 votes:

stingerhs for A Rose in the Daisies

 

If you're saying to yourself "Jae got 9 votes--what's up?", it's because I decided on the topic and didn't feel like it was fair for it also to be an eligible entry for placing. Here's the link for the fic:

Forgiveness and Redemption

 

Congratulations to the rest of the writers who entered. You can check out links to their entries in the Tale for February: Love thread.

 

Here's Jasra's entry as it appeared in the contest. Enjoy!

 

----------------------

 

"First Love, Last Embrace"

 

----------------------

 

“Morgana? Morgana! Can you hear me?”

 

~~~~~~~~

 

“Can you hear me out there?” the melodic voice of Morgana Nasiri’s mother drifted into the hallway from the living room.

 

“Yes, Mother,” eighteen-year-old Morgana called over her shoulder as she removed her cloak from the hook near the front door and put it on. “And, yes, I did finish my school work, and, yes, I’m going out.”

 

“Out?” asked the resonating voice of her father from the next room. “Out where?”

 

“Dad, I told you,” Morgana replied, hurrying to fasten the cloak’s clasp around her neck. “Aldie’s party.”

 

As she stopped to check her reflection in the mirror, she heard her father say, “But it’s already past 2200. It’s too late to go now.”

 

“Dad….” Morgana moaned. “It is not.” She pinched her cheeks to redden them, and then fumbled through her handbag to find a red lipstick.

 

“Party’s probably already started,” her father persisted. “Bet people are already leaving.”

 

As Morgana smoothed the lipstick across her lips, she heard her mother say, “Oh, leave her alone, Rhyen. Besides, you did promise she could go to the party after she finished her schoolwork.”

 

“That was before I knew that it was being held at that new nightclub,” Rhyen hissed back.

 

“She’s young and wants to be with her friends.”

 

“But, Cali, I just want to….”

 

“She’s a good girl. Let her have some fun once in a while.”

 

Morgana clicked the cap back on the lipstick, then smacked her lips together. Then, she paused. There was complete silence in the next room, and she braced herself for bad news.

 

“Just remember what time your curfew is, young lady!” her father finally called to her.

 

Morgana released the breath she was holding. “I’ll be back by one, dad, I promise!” Still in front of the mirror, she frowned slightly, then gathered her long dark hair in her hands, pulled it up from the confines of the cloak, and arranged it so that it fell in loose, soft waves around her shoulders. She smiled, pleased with the results, then called out a hurried “Bye!” and exited the apartment.

 

The streets of Thani were well-lit and crime was rare in this well-to-do section of the city, as the streets were regularly patrolled by the Telos Security Force. Nevertheless, she avoided the temptation to take any shortcuts to hasten her journey and kept to the main thoroughfares. She looked down at the chrono around her wrist, then quickened her pace, rounding the next corner so fast that…

 

“Oh!” she gasped as she collided head on with a young TSF officer coming the other way. “I’m so sorr…”

 

“No, I’m sorry,” the officer interrupted, steadying her by briefly holding her arm. “Are you alright, miss?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Morgana said hurriedly. “I’m sorry. I should’ve been watching where I was going instead of looking at my chrono. I’m late to meet some….” She looked up at him. “…one.”

 

He was sharply dressed in the uniform of the Telos Security Force, but a rakish shock of soft brown hair peeked out from underneath his hat. He appeared to be just slightly older than she was; tall, but not too tall; fit, as he filled out his uniform well, but not overly muscular; and had just enough stubble on his face to make him look that little bit roguish. But, by far his best feature, a pair of the most lovely, deep brown eyes that she had ever seen, surrounded by thick, dark lashes, and sparkling with fiery bronze flecks. She stared into those eyes for what seemed to her like several moments, then said, “Erm… are you alright?”

 

The officer chuckled lightly. “Don’t worry about me, miss. I’m fine. Besides, I get danger pay for a reason,” he added with a wink.

 

“Danger pay?” She bit her lower lip, then grinned while she unconsciously wrapped a lock of hair around her little finger. “I look dangerous to you?”

 

His brow raised as he slowly appraised her. “No,” he said finally. Then his lips parted into a smile. “You look absolutely lethal.”

 

Morgana felt her cheeks flush, and she looked away for a moment, not knowing whether to thank him for the compliment, or be offended by his directness.

 

“Sorry,” he apologised. “Say, do you mind if I ask where you were going in such a hurry?”

 

“The library. To meet some friends. Girl friends,” she added, quickly.

 

At this, he raised an eyebrow. “The library, huh?” He checked his chrono. “Wow, you really are running late,” he marvelled. “It closed hours ago.”

 

She giggled at his remark. “Not ‘in’ the library. ‘At’ the library. On the front steps.”

 

“Ah…,” he said, nodding. “I see. And then?”

 

She frowned slightly. “And then, what?”

 

He eyed her dubiously. “C’mon…. You can’t tell me that a beautiful girl like you is just going to meet some friends on the steps of the library and just… what, sit around and marvel at the architecture?”

 

She grinned shyly. “No.”

 

“Well?”

 

Morgana wasn’t sure that she wanted to tell him where the party was that she and her friends had been planning to go to. After all, even though he was handsome, and a TSF officer, he still was a perfect stranger. “Well, if I don’t get going soon, there won’t be any friends there for me to meet.”

 

He nodded. “Fair enough if you don’t want to tell me,” he said, as if reading her mind. “But I could give you an escort, you know. To the library, that is. After all, it’s my duty as a TSF officer to protect the citizens of Telos. Especially from fast, corner-wheeling lethally-beautiful pedestrian-bumpers. It’s in the manual.” He winked. “Page three.”

 

She grinned at his joke, then lowered her eyes while she ran a thoughtful tongue across her lips. “Well,… I was meeting my friends so that we could go to a party together,” she admitted. “At that new place…the Seventh Level. You know it?”

 

He nodded. “It’s not worth the all the hype, but it’s okay. Good music, though I’d stay away from the fried….” He paused, then shook his head. “Never mind. You’re probably not going for the food, are you? They’ve got a good bar, a great dance floor, live music… you’ll like it.”

 

“Well….” She twirled a strand of her hair around her finger. “I’d ask you to go with me, but my father’s always warned me about strangers. And I don’t even know your name.”

 

“Oh! Sorry!” He offered his hand to her as if intending a handshake, but when she grasped it, he lifted her hand to his lips. “Officer First Class Carth Onasi,” he said, then brushed the back of her hand with a tender, gentle kiss. “A pleasure to meet you…erm…?”

 

“Morgana Nasiri.”

 

“Morgana Nasiri,” he repeated softly. “I knew you’d have a beautiful name.” He kept hold of her hand, and tucked it in the crook of his opposite arm. “Shall we go?”

 

She again stared at those entrancing eyes of his for a long moment, and then clasped her other hand over his. “Let’s.”

 

~~~~~~~~

 

“Morgana, look at me. Look at my eyes, sweetheart. C’mon, look!”

 

~~~~~~~~

 

“Look, you just let me worry about what I can and cannot afford,” Carth said firmly to Morgana, as the waiter was showing them to their table. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “We’ve been going out for over a year now, and I think we deserve to celebrate. And this is your favourite restaurant, isn’t it?”

 

Morgana smiled softly. It was her favourite restaurant—situated on the very top floor of one of Telos’ highest buildings, it commanded a view of the cityscape through its panoramic windows that was second to none. She had come here often with her parents, but being as Carth was still only a junior TSF officer, Morgana worried that he was trying to impress her by competing against her parent’s wealth, and putting himself into debt in the process.

 

As the waiter seated them at a table for two by the window, she looked out at the sparkling cityscape spread out far below them and said, “Yes, this is my favourite restaurant. But still, Carth, I would have been just as happy grabbing a bite at the Seventh Level.”

 

Carth grinned. “You know, I actually thought about that,” he admitted, “being as it was where we had our first coincidental date.”

 

“Coincidental?” Morgana shook her head. “I don’t believe in coincidence, Carth. It was fate and destiny that brought us together.”

 

“Fate, huh?” He smiled and gazed into her eyes. “That’s a romantic notion.”

 

Morgana smiled. “Well, think about it…me being late, then bumping into you on the street, and then not meeting my friends because they decided on the spur of the moment to go someplace else, which left me alone, with you, fruitlessly waiting for them to arrive? There were too many variables for that to have been just all coincidence.” She let out a tiny sigh of longing and stared dreamily into those chocolate brown eyes of his. “It was fate.”

 

“Well, maybe so,” Carth conceded. “Fate, luck, whatever brought us together, I’m grateful for having had the opportunity.” He reached across the table and took up her hand in his. “You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, Morgana.”

 

Morgana flashed a bashful smile.

 

“I’m serious,” he said. “You’re like… like….” He gazed out the window, then nodded to one of the more conspicuous buildings of Thani—the Republic Building, lit up like a beacon in the night with brilliant white and blue lights that seemed to set it apart from any of its metropolitan neighbours. “See that spotlight at the top of the Republic Building? That’s what you are: a beautiful, dazzling white light—impressive, inspiring, and strong. My guiding light. I could never live without you now.”

 

Morgana smiled again. “You’re pretty resourceful,” she said to him coyly. “I’m sure you’d survive.”

 

“Survive? Well, sure I could ‘survive,’” Carth reluctantly agreed. “But there’s a big difference between surviving and living.”

 

Carth was spared from going into any more detail by the arrival of a chilled bottle of Membrosia. The waiter poured out two measured glasses, and set one down in front of each of them.

 

As the waiter quietly departed, Carth lifted his glass. “A toast,” he said. “To the most stunningly beautiful girl in the universe.”

 

He clinked his glass against hers, and took a sip, nodding at Morgana to do the same. But as she raised her glass to her lips, she noticed something ‘odd’ in the bottom of it—a ring with a rather large gemstone. As she gasped in surprise, Carth asked her what was the matter.

 

“There’s a ring in my glass,” she said, frowning slightly with confusion.

 

“Really?” Carth leaned over and took a peek. “Hmm. So there is.” He smiled at her, then used his fork to fish it out of the flute. He carefully placed it on his napkin and gently dried it off, then held it up near the candle flame to study it. The gem, a brilliantly clear blue diamond, glittered and sparkled with fiery flecks, reminding Morgana of the sparkle she had seen in Carth’s eyes the very first time they had met. And then those same eyes looked up at her. “Looks like it might fit you, too,” he said, rising from his seat. “Shall we find out?”

 

He crossed over to her, knelt beside her, and then presented her with the ring. “Morgana,” he said in a serious, but soft tone. “You changed my life since the very moment I met you. You’re kind, and beautiful, and intelligent and… and….” He suddenly paused and tiny wrinkles of distress began to appear on his brow.

 

Morgana sat on the edge of her chair in anticipation of Carth ‘popping the question’. She had been steadily dating him for over year now, and she had been secretly hoping that this moment would come. “And?” she prompted.

 

“And….” Carth sighed with dismay and shook his head as he looked down at the floor. “Oh, Morgana, I’m sorry.”

 

Her mouth slowly dropped. “You’re s-sorry?” Oh no! she thought. Had Carth suddenly changed his mind about proposing to her?

 

“I had it all planned…the reservations, the seat by the window, the Membrosia and now….” He sighed with despair. “Now I’ve just gone and messed it all up by forgetting the speech I’ve been rehearsing for the past week, telling you how wonderful you are and how lucky I am, and ...”

 

Morgana exhaled with relief, and stifled a nervous laugh. “And how happy you are that fate has brought us together?” she suggested for him.

 

He looked up at her, and seeing her grinning, he began to smile as well. “Yeah, something like that. But, better though,” he said, giving her a wink. “I mean, there was a ‘how much I love you’ part and a ‘how beautiful you are part,’ and… well, never mind. I’m sorry I messed it up. I’m just not a great speechmaker. I’m more an ‘action’ sort of guy. So….” He cleared his throat. “Morgana,” he began again, “will you do me a very big honour and consent to be my wife? Will you marry me?”

 

Morgana felt tears of joy welling up in her eyes as she nodded then choked out the word, “Yes,” before cupping his face in her hands and kissing him. “Of course I will.”

 

Carth was beaming as he slid the ring over her finger. “It’s a perfect fit,” she said, as she flexed her hand to catch the light on the multi-faceted gemstone.

 

“Must be fate then,” Carth said.

 

“Must be.” Morgana smiled. “And the ring… Carth, it’s beautiful.” Then her eyes narrowed a bit. “And expensive. You really shouldn’t have. You can’t afford it.”

 

“You know I’d do anything for you. I don’t care about the money, I only care about you. I love you, Morgana. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“You just hang on, sweetheart. Just hang on. Help’s on the way.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Oh, Mother, I don’t need any more help!” Morgana said, as she primped herself in front of the mirror. “Stop fussing. The dress is fine.”

 

“It’s still just a little bit wrinkled here in the back. Hold on, I’ll get the steamer.”

 

“Mother!” Morgana rolled her eyes, as her mother darted away, muttering something about the dressmaker’s reputation.

 

“She just doesn’t stop, does she?” Morgana said to her bridesmaid, Keri.

 

“Well, you’re her only child,” said Keri. “She wants everything to be perfect, and I suppose it’s only natural for a mother to be nervous on her daughter’s wedding day.”

 

“I thought I was the one that was supposed to be nervous.”

 

Keri raised an inquisitive brow. “And are you?”

 

“No, not at all.” But as Keri’s look of doubt intensified, Morgana gave her friend a lopsided grin. “Yes!” she admitted.

 

“Here we are!” Morgana’s mother called as she re-entered the room, clothes steamer in hand. “Oh, and I have good news, girls. The groom has finally arrived.”

 

“You doubted that he would?” Keri asked.

 

“You never can tell with men and weddings,” said her mother as she steamed out a wrinkle in the wedding gown’s train. “They are both so unpredictable.”

 

“I would never doubt Carth,” Morgana said with conviction. “Not for a moment. He loves me. And I love him.”

 

“Sometimes, love is not enough,” her mother replied between steam puffs.

 

“It is for us,” Morgana replied.

 

“Ach, just wait until you have children,” her mother cautioned. “Then you’ll find out what true love is.” She stood back and looked at her daughter’s dress. “There. That’s better.” She set the steamer down and then circled around to stand in front of her daughter. “Ah, you look absolutely stunning! The most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen!” Her mother wiped a tear away. “Oh,” she said on the brink of crying. “My baby is all grown up…”

 

“Oh, Mother, don’t you start again,” Morgana pleaded. “If you start, then I’ll start, and then Keri will start….”

 

“We’d all better start,” Keri interrupted. She was standing at the window. “Start down, that is. Listen!”

 

The slow soft music that had been drifting up from the garden outside through the open windows suddenly stopped. A bell began to ring—the signal for all the guests to be seated as the ceremony was about to start.

 

“That’s our cue!” Morgana’s mother said excitedly. “They’re ready.” With her eyes brimming with tears, her mother looked at her daughter. “You look so beautiful. I wish your father was here to see you. He would have been so proud.”

 

Morgana clasped her mother’s hand. “I know, Mom. I know.”

 

“C’mon, Mor,” said Keri, as she affixed Morgana’s veil on her head. “You don’t want to be late to your own wedding, do you?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Here. Take my hand, Morgana. Hold on to it.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“…hold, from this day forward until death do you part?” asked the Justice.

 

“I will,” said Carth, as he slipped a golden band on Morgana’s hand.

 

“And do you Morgana Nasiri, take this man, Carth Onasi, to be your husband, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to have and to hold, from this day forward until death do you part?”

 

Under her veil, Morgana smiled at Carth. “I will.”

 

“I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The Justice smiled at the both of them. “You may kiss the bride.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Please, Morgana. Just stay with me. You can’t go! Not yet! Not now!”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“I’m sorry, Morgana,” Carth said. “But I have to go. It’s my job. And, anyway, being selected for pilot training in the Republic Navy is a really big promotion. I thought you’d be happy for me. For us.”

 

“I am happy for you,” Morgana said. “It’s just… well….” She sighed. “I suppose it’s just fate and destiny again, isn’t it? You’re destined to be a Republic pilot, and I’m… erm….” She shrugged. “Not.”

 

“Fate and destiny, huh?” Carth snorted lightly. “You know that sounds pretty close to the philosophy about the Force that the Jedi believe in. We had a class about them today. Well, more of an information session than a class, really—you know, just in case we happen to run into Force Sensitives in the course of our training.”

 

“Are you planning to run into any?” Morgana asked, concerned.

 

“No, it’s just one of those classes that they have to give everyone so that our superiors can tick the box and say we’re all educated on the subject. It’s not likely that I’ll ever meet one. I mean, have you?”

 

Morgana thought a moment. “No,” she said finally. “But then again, I’m not joining the Republic Navy.” She frowned slightly. “You know, I think my father’s great–great-great uncle was one.”

 

“A Navy pilot?”

 

“No, a Jedi.”

 

“Really?” Carth said, staring into her eyes. “Well, that’s interesting. According to our class Force Sensitivity is likely to run in families.”

 

“Oh? Well, maybe our son will be a Jedi,” Morgana said wistfully, as she absently laid a hand across her belly.

 

Carth did a double take. “Huh? Did you say…. I mean, did I hear you say, ‘son’?”

 

Morgana took pause, then began to grin.

 

“Like a ‘son’ son?” Carth stammered. “A baby?”

 

Morgana giggled. “I got the news from the clinic this afternoon.” She gazed into his eyes. “You’re going to be a father.”

 

“Well, that’s… that’s… that’s great!” Carth beamed with joy. “A son! Wow!” Then his grin began to fade. “Erm… are you feeling okay? You want me to get a pillow or something for you, or something to eat, drink… a doctor?”

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

“Medic! I need a medic over here now! Just keep looking at me, sweetheart. I know it hurts, but help’s coming.”

 

~~~~~~~~~

 

“I know it hurts, Morgana, but now’s the time to …pu-ush!” the Doctor said, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically.

 

“You’re a man!” Morgana snapped at him between panting breaths. “You can’t possibly know how much this hurts!”

 

The doctor merely nodded his head. “If I had a credit for every time a patient said that to me…. Okay, c’mon, Morgana, just keep up with your breathing, and give me one more really big pu-ush!”

 

A few gasps and grunts later, there was the sound of a baby’s cry. And a moment after that, Morgana was presented with a healthy, wrinkly baby boy wrapped up in a white blanket.

 

“Oh, you’re just perfect, aren’t you, little one,” Morgana cooed over her newborn infant, the pain of the last few hours nearly forgotten. “Where’s my husband?” she asked the nurse standing near her. “Is he here yet?”

 

As if on cue, a harried-looking Carth dressed in a Republic naval uniform was ushered into the delivery suite. “I’m so sorry, Morgana,” he apologised as he hurried over to her side and grasped her beckoning hand. “I came as soon as I could, but you know how my Captain is about….” He paused mid-sentence and a bright smile began to appear as he stared at his newborn son.

 

“Carth,” Morgana said, “meet your son, Ga….”

 

“Dustil,” Carth finished for her.

 

“What?” Morgana blinked her eyes. “I thought we agreed on naming him Gavin?”

 

“Yeah, but now that he’s here, he doesn’t quite look like a Gavin to me,” Carth said.

 

Morgana grinned as she looked down at her son. “No, I suppose not.”

 

Carth chucked the baby gently under the chin. “Dustil? Dustil?” he called out in a light sing-song voice.

 

********

 

 

Carth’s heart had dropped when he had arrived at the scene. The entire planet had practically been obliterated by Saul Karath’s traitorous bombing raid, and Carth and the rest of his Republic rescue team had arrived too late to stop it. The only thing they could do now was search for the few people that had survived in the scattered pockets on the outskirts of the cities, like this one.

 

He had dug like a madman through the rubble that was once his home until he had finally come across Morgana. She was badly injured, semi-conscious, and needed urgent medical attention. Problem was, there were too few medics and too many injured. All he could do was stay with her and try to keep her conscious until help arrived.

 

“Hey, has anyone seen a young boy around here?!” Carth called out to the few shell-shocked survivors that were making their way to the rescue shuttles. “A teenager with dark hair? Anyone?!”

 

Morgana moaned. “Morgana?” Carth lifted her head and placed his flight jacket under it like a pillow. “Morgana! Can you hear me?”

 

Her eyes slowly fluttered open. “Morgana, look at me. Look at my eyes, sweetheart. C’mon, look!”

 

Morgana blinked a few times, her full dark lashes caked with dust and grit.

 

“You just hang on, sweetheart,” Carth said to her. “Just hang on. Help’s on the way.” He picked up her hand—bruised, and limp, and cool. “Here. Take my hand, Morgana. Hold on to it.” He felt her fingers twitch, but she was too weak to actually grasp.

 

“Please, Morgana. Just stay with me. You can’t go! Not yet! Not now!” He hit the button on his comlink. “Medic! I need a medic over here now!” He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. “Just keep looking at me, sweetheart. I know it hurts, but help’s coming.”

 

Survivors were now making their way to the shuttles, some on their own accord, some with support from others, and some on stretchers. Carth shook his head. Why? he thought. Why did this have to happen? Why were the former heroes of the Republic, the ones who had vanquished the Mandalorians, now turning on their own? What kind of evil was making good men turn so bad?

 

Morgana coughed, spluttering up blood in the process. “I’m cold, Carth,” she whispered hoarsely.

 

“Morgana, honey, hang on,” he said to her. “Hey!” he screamed into his comlink. “Where’s the damn medic! I need some help over here, now!” He placed his arms around her and lifted her head to lie on his chest, then covered her with his flight jacket. “It’ll just be a few more minutes, sweetheart.” He rocked her and began to smooth her hair, once lustrous and soft, now clotted with blood and debris. “Save your strength. Don’t try to talk anymore. Just stay still and….”

 

“Hold me.”

 

“I am holding you, sweetheart,” Carth said, his voice just about to crack. “I’m holding you and not letting you go. Not ever.”

 

Morgana tried to smile. Bright red blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. “Do you remember the day we first met?” she asked groggily.

 

Carth gave her a tight lipped grin. “The Seventh Level. Yeah, I remember.”

 

“That was a good night out,” she said, smiling reminiscently. “You were right. The music was good.”

 

“The only music I remember was your laugh,” Carth said softly. He leaned in close to her face, kissing her lightly on the lips.

 

“You were late bringing me home,” she said. “My father was furious.”

 

“Yeah, well, he got over it. Just like you’re going to get over this.”

 

“Are my rings still there?” she asked. “I don’t want to lose them.”

 

Carth lifted up her hand to show her. “They’re right here.”

 

“That was sneaky of you to put that one in the glass.”

 

“Hey, I knew you liked surprises.”

 

“I wish you could have stayed home with us more. With me and Dustil.”

 

“Where is Dustil?” Carth asked her. “I couldn’t find him. Is he here?”

 

“He went to his friend’s house,” Morgana said. She frowned a bit. “He was supposed to clean his room before he went.” She began choking, gasping for breath as she coughed up more blood.

 

Carth looked over his shoulder, his eyes squinting to see through the smoky haze and chaos all around him for a sign of any medical personnel in the vicinity. “Medic!” he screamed. “I need a medic here now!”

 

“Shh….” Morgana hushed him. She swallowed. “It’s alright, love. It’s just fate.”

 

“No.” Carth shook his head. “No, you hang on! You’ll be fine, once a doctor gets here.”

 

“I love you,” she whispered. “I love you both. He was such a… beautiful… baby.”

 

“I love you, too, Morgana, but you are not going to die on me! Not now!”

 

Morgana grinned, and then let out a soft, final sigh.

 

“Morgana?” Carth bent closer to her, straining to hear another breath. “Morgana! Don’t you do this to me!”

 

But he knew it was too late when he looked into her eyes. The spark was gone. The flame extinguished. But the grin on her face remained--a last testament of her love for him.

 

Carth’s vision began to blur, and he gave his wife one last, tender kiss. “Goodbye, my love,” he whispered, and then he buried his face in her hair. And wept.

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Here are the winners for March's Tale. The topic, decided by JasraLantill, was betrayal.

 

First Place with 14 votes:

Love's Treachery by Jae Onasi

 

Second Place with 11 votes:

Beneath the Surface by Emperor Devon

 

Third Place with 9 votes:

[Fic] A Reason by beehoon

 

Congratulations to the winners and kudos to everyone who entered! The rest of the entries can be found here.

 

Here's the winning tale.

 

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Love's Treachery

 

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“Nayama?” Jolee called out as he walked into their house. “I’m home!” The Jedi slipped off his brown robe and moved to hang it up when his hand froze in mid-air. The darkness slithered around him, sensual fingers begging him to give in to their embrace. His other hand moved instinctively to the lightsaber dangling from his belt.

 

“Jolee.” The darkness evaporated at the sound of her voice, a rich velvet that enfolded him and held the promise of much more.

 

He turned to her, a wide, bright smile lightening his deep brown face, and he inhaled every millimeter of Nayama as if he’d never met her before. Her long, silky black hair that begged to be stroked. The brazen spark in her bronze eyes. He gave into the siren call of her full lips and pulled her into his arms for a long kiss, feeling her curved bounty melt against him.

 

She wrapped her arms around his neck, breaking free of his lips to catch her breath. “We have to talk.”

 

“If it’s about how much I love you, absolutely.”

 

“I’m serious.”

 

“So am I.”

 

Nayama searched Jolee’s eyes, and a smile slowly crept up her lips. “I met someone very interesting a few weeks back. A man who has a different view on politics. You’d be intrigued by his ideas. I want you to come with me to meet him.”

 

“I hate politics, love.”

 

“This is different. He wants to bring a new ‘Golden Age’ to the galaxy. Bring order to all the chaos and idiotic bickering in the Senate. Stop all the crazy planetary wars that just eat up resources that could be used for better things—new hyperspace routes, better defense designs, improved medical care. He makes a lot of sense, Jolee.”

 

“‘Golden Age’? Oh, Force, Nayama, you’ve been talking to Exar Kun’s people?”

 

Nayama’s smug smile crept higher. “Oh, not just Exar Kun’s people, Jolee. Exar Kun himself.”

 

Jolee’s eyes widened, and his arms stiffened around her. “Exar Kun? Do you have any idea how dangerous that man is? And his ideas?”

 

“About as dangerous as a gizka,” Nayama laughed. “I was completely safe the whole time—he has wonderful security.”

 

“Pfft. Wonderful security to protect him from getting killed.”

 

Nayama traced a finger down the length of his jaw and kissed him again. “Come with me, please. I’ve joined his cause. I’ll be leaving for the Outer Rim tomorrow. I told him all about you and how you’ve been training me. He said he could use a man with your skills. He wants to give you your own command.”

 

“I’m a Padawan, Nayama. There are hundreds of people with far better skills than mine. Can’t you see what he’s doing? Blowing fodder-dust your way.”

 

“I see him offering you a chance to climb to the top of his organization, be a leader of something great. You’ll never get that with the Jedi.”

 

“I don’t want to be a leader in an evil organization.”

 

“Not evil, Jolee. Enlightened. I’ve seen his plans. He’ll be the greatest leader the galaxy has ever seen. Please, Jolee, come with me.” She nestled against him and laid her head on his chest. “I don’t want to be without you. If we combine our skills, we’ll rise to the top. The galaxy could be ours one day. Exar Kun can’t live forever.”

 

Jolee cradled her head against him. “Do you realize what you’re doing? What you’re asking? You’re asking me to betray everything for a psychopath with delusions of grandeur. Betray the order, betray the oath I swore to it. Betray everything good in the universe. He wants to take over the galaxy, not save it, Nayama. I can’t do that. I can’t betray billions of people.”

 

Nayama’s eyes narrowed as she looked up at him. “You’d betray your own wife? Our love? What about your oath to me? You’d choose people you don’t even know across an entire galaxy over me? I thought I meant more to you than that.”

 

“Don’t say that, please. No one’s ever meant more to me than you. No one ever will. I love you. Exar Kun will get destroyed by the Republic and the Jedi, and no one who’s with him is safe. I don’t want to lose you. If you join him, you’ve just signed your death sentence. I’m begging you, Nayama, don’t leave me. I couldn’t bear to see you get killed.”

 

Nayama broke free from his embrace. “Do you really think that little of my skills?”

 

“Force, no! You’re as brilliant as you are gorgeous. We’ll have to go to the temple at Coruscant soon for more training, in fact. There’s not much more I can teach you now.”

 

Nayama snorted. “Those pretentious snobs wouldn’t let you train me before. Why would they let me train now?”

 

“I’ll convince them.”

 

“They won’t take me. And you know why? It’s because they’re afraid of my power. Don’t you see, Jolee? They preach all the time ‘There is no fear’, but they’re scared to death of what could be for both of us. Why do you think you haven’t been promoted to Knight yet?”

 

“I’m not ready.”

 

“No, they say you’re not ready. Any idiot can see you’re better than half the Jedi out there.”

 

“There’s a big difference between knowing a skill in your head and knowing it with your hands, your feet, your heart.”

 

“Humph. I think they’re nothing but hypocrites and liars. Exar’s promised to take my training further than they ever could. And yours, too, Jolee,” she purred, slinking up to him, draping her arms around his neck again. “Come with me, dearest. Exar’s promised we can be together.”

 

“He’d promise someone his mother’s heart if it would get him what he wants.”

 

Nayama frowned. “That’s not fair. He’s always been honest with me.”

 

“Has he? Has he told you how he plans to take over the galaxy? Has he told you what using dark side powers does to you? Has he been honest about how bad it’ll be for people to lose their freedom?”

 

“He’s not going to take away their freedom. He’s just going to enforce order to make the galaxy more productive,” she sniffed.

 

Jolee broke away from her to put his arms on her shoulders. His concerned eyes met her fiery ones. “Look at me! He’ll be just like every other Sith that has flown the galaxy. He won’t stop at order. He’ll only stop at complete domination. Do you want people living like those poor souls did under the Ukatis king? Do you really want to be an Enforcer again? That’s what you’ll become again if you do this.”

 

“I am not going to be an Enforcer again. I resent you saying that. It’s clear where your true love is, and it’s obviously not me. In fact, maybe I should just leave tonight. You let me know when you decide to join me. I’ll always take you back, Jolee. I love you too much not to forgive you for your lack of priorities.” Nayama turned and started to stalk off.

 

“Nayama—wait!” Jolee grabbed her arm.

 

She turned back and smirked. “Why Jolee, have you changed your mind already?”

 

“I’m not going to let you do this. I love you too much to let you destroy yourself. You’re staying right here, damn it!”

 

Black fury stormed across her face, igniting her eyes. “I’m what?”

 

“You heard me. You’re staying here. With me.”

 

She burst out laughing. “Your precious Force persuade may have worked when you kidnapped me off Ukatis. It doesn’t work now. I’ve been your wife long enough to be immune to it. You’re going to have to accept the fact that I love you enough to do what’s best for both of us, and that’s being on the winning side. Now, let me go.” She pulled hard to free her wrist.

 

Jolee held tight, and called on the Force to bring calm. He smiled gently. “I can’t let you go. I love you too much to let you get yourself killed in Exar Kun’s foolishness.”

 

“Let go, Jolee,” she said, her voice a quiet dagger.

 

“I can’t. I won’t.”

 

Nayama glared at him. “You will.” She pulled her lightsaber off her belt.

 

Jolee’s breath quickened as he pleaded, “Don’t do this, Nayama. You can walk away from Kun right now. The Republic needs you, the Order needs you. I need you.

 

She chuckled without mirth, hefting the lightsaber up and down. “Exar said it might come to this.”

 

Jolee closed his eyes to fight the watering, despair making his heart ache. He held her wrist gently, even after he heard the snap-hiss of her lightsaber jumping to life.

 

“Let me go before I kill you,” she snarled.

 

“I can’t let you go, love,” Jolee choked out against the sadness that strangled his throat.

 

Nayama whirled her saber and slashed at him. He ducked, rolled, and came up with the twin blades of his saber lit. She snapped off furious blows, driving Jolee back against a wall, pressing against his lightsaber to push his blade into his body. She brought her face so close to his that he could feel her hard breathing brush him. “Exar said if I can’t bring you back alive, I should bring you back dead.”

 

“Exar’s an idiot.” Jolee kicked out her feet from under her. She fell awkwardly but rolled just as Jolee drove his saber down towards her arm. She jumped back to her feet, and attacked again. Jolee blocked the blows with grim efficiency, heart racing as fast as his blades. She raised her blade to strike his head, and Jolee saw the opening. He snapped his blade up, slicing through her saber. It flew out of her hands, sparking and smoking. Jolee pointed the end of his lightsaber at her heart.

 

Nayama looked at her hands briefly, then slid her eyes from the tip of the blade back up to his eyes. She slowly smiled her contempt. “You can’t kill me, can you.”

 

Jolee’s chest heaved, but not from exertion. The tears streamed, and he shook his head.

 

“You betray me and the Order both. You’re doing very well today.”

 

“Just go.” Jolee pointed at the door.

 

Nayama regarded him a moment longer, turned, and walked out. Jolee walked over to the window to watch her leave. He watched until her speeder was out of sight, and leaned heavily against the frame. “I’ll never betray your love, Nayama. Never,” he whispered to the empty house.

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  • 1 month later...

Here are the winners for May '07 Tales. The topic was "Mayday: Dramatic Rescues."

 

First Place with 9 votes:

Death of a Prophecy by JediAthos

 

Second Place with 8 votes:

Holovid Moments by beehoon

 

Third Place with 4 votes:

Reckoning and Rescue by Tysyacha

and

I Couldn't Leave You by Topsite

 

Congratulations to this month's winners and to all the writers! The other entrants' tales can be found here.

 

 

Here's the winning tale:

 

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Death of a Prophecy

 

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*My thanks to JediMaster12 for Beta reading, and editing this entry

 

Mira had the trail this time, she was sure of it. She had been tracking her Master, Gaven Darkil, better known to the galaxy as the Jedi Exile, for more than a year now. Now, on the planet Calindar on the edge of known space she was certain she had a solid lead on his location.

 

The only problem with being on Calindar was that she’d been stuck on the planet for months now. When she arrived she found a group of human and alien colonists that were barely surviving thanks to a group of Mandalorians that had been terrorizing them. It reminded her very much of another time, when she first began traveling with Gaven, and she couldn’t stand by and watch them be eradicated.

 

She had begun slowly at first, fighting off their raiding parties, and ambushing their patrols. Now, she was tracking their leader, a man named Zimm, and she was approaching what she believed was their base of operations in a network of caves above the colony.

 

As she entered the cave entrance Mira drew her blue lightsaber from her belt, and held it at the ready. The further she moved into the caves, the more she sensed something was wrong. She was not meeting any resistance, and she knew she had not killed all the Mandalorians. Then, she felt it…the Dark Side. Sith? Here? It couldn’t be, but she knew what she sensed, and her senses were always right. Then, she heard the voice:

 

“You should not have come here young Jedi.”

 

“Just when I thought I wasn’t going to have any company,” Mira replied dryly

 

The voice rang out with laughter throughout the cavernous room, and Mira searched the dimly lit space trying to pick out her adversary. She was desperately wishing that she had Visas or Brianna with her. Hell, even Atton would help at this point, but they were all back on Dantooine at the enclave.

 

“Jedi are so predictable,” the voice chided “always poking around where they shouldn’t.”

 

“Right, I’ll have to get them to work on that when I get back to Dantooine.”

 

“Oh,” the voice replied “you’ll not be leaving here Jedi…not alive anyway.”

 

She’d had enough, time to throw some light on this place. Mira lit her lightsaber and the blue blade hummed to life and immediately lit up the space. At the exact moment, she realized why she had felt the Dark Side of the Force as she entered the cave, and she wished she had stayed in the village. In the space surrounding her, dressed in black robes, and some in armor, Mira counted fifteen dark Jedi. They held various weapons from vibroblades to lightsabers and even a few blasters, and standing on the far side of the open space clad in black from head to toe was a man who could only be Zimm. She understood now, the Mandalorians had been a cover. They kept the colonists away while Zimm ran his little Sith training ground up in these caves. Mira couldn’t believe she had been so stupid, and now she was trapped with the choice of either surrender or fight before her.

 

“The Mandalorians were a good cover Zimm; I didn’t get it until now.”

 

He laughed at her again “You have no idea what you’re dealing with foolish girl.”

 

“Yeah, I’ve heard that before, and I’ve killed Sith before. Plenty of them.”

 

“Sith,” he spat “what you dealt with were not Sith.”

 

The surprise must have showed on Mira’s face because Zimm smiled. “Oh I know all about the ‘Sith’ you faced. They were not Sith, not really. I follow the teachings of the True Sith, and now we shall see how you do against the true power of the Dark Side of the Force. Kill her!”

 

Mira didn’t wait for the dark apprentices to attack her. Raising her arm, she fired a concussion rocket from her wrist launcher at the nearest group sending bodies sprawling as it impacted on the ground in front of them. That was the only shot she was able to get before they were upon her like kath hound feeding on a kill. Mira let the Force flow over her as Gaven had taught her, and let it guide her lightsaber as she deflected each new attacker’s blow. She needed to regain control of this fight or Zimm’s prediction of her death might actually come true.

 

Mira stretched out her hand and pushed with the Force out to both sides. The wave of Force energy caught several of her attackers off guard and sent them flying across the room, but even more of them resisted the attack. She faced the remaining group and went to work. Her lightsaber hummed through the air as she began to cut into the nearest foes as they challenged her.

 

On and on she fought, but she realized that she was not making much progress and she was still heavily outnumbered. This was not going to end well for her, she knew. Maybe if she surrendered she could find a way out of this mess, but she had a feeling that they would kill her anyway. So this was it, this is where her life would end, and she had been so close to finding her Master. Well, if she was going down she was going to take them with her. She’d fire her remaining rocket straight up. that would bring the whole place down on them. If someone is going to pop out of the air and rescue me, now would be a great time, she thought.

 

Suddenly, she felt another presence, not the Dark Side, but not true light either. Then she heard the lightsaber ignite and her unknown rescuer sprang to the attack. It was a woman Mira saw, strikingly beautiful, and deadly at the same time, at least to the Sith anyway. Her lavender twin bladed lightsaber whirled like a carnival ride as she attacked from behind the dark Jedi.

 

Mira didn’t know who she was, and right now she didn’t care. Mira fought with a renewed sense of life within her, and together she and the new arrival beat back foe after foe. There were only a few of the Sith left when Zimm’s voice boomed out.

 

“Enough!!”

 

“What’s the matter Zimm,” the newcomer asked “Did I ruin your fun?”

 

“I don’t know who you are Jedi, but this is where you will die!”

 

“I doubt that very much” the mystery Jedi replied “but you can try.”

 

Zimm growled with a ferocity Mira had seldom heard, even from the Sith she had faced with Gaven. Lightning jumped from his fingers directed at her rescuer, but the woman calmly raised her lightsaber and absorbed the deadly shock. Mira watched a stunned look come across Zimm’s face as the woman glared back at him.

 

“Is that the best you can do?” she questioned

 

Zimm growled again and a lightsaber jumped to his hand. It gave off the glow of a deadly blood red color. The Sith master attacked the woman, and she immediately defended and countered his attack. Mira decided she should return the favor the woman had done and went after Zimm as well. Together the two Jedi battled the Sith around the open space feeding off each other. Zimm was more powerful than any Sith Mira had fought, his attacks dripped with anger and hatred, and he defended himself with speed Mira had only seen from Jedi Masters.

 

Truth be told Mira did very little to help in the battle. Zimm was clearly no match for the mysterious woman, and eventually the Sith made a fatal mistake. After a particularly vicious attack Mira saw that he had overextended himself and could not defend against the woman’s whirling twin bladed attack. Her blades whipped around as she feinted toward his legs, and he moved to defend realizing too late what she was doing. She reversed her attack, and beheaded the Sith. Both his head, and his body dropped to the floor of the cave as the remaining dark Jedi watched their master die.

 

“You killed the Master,” one of them stammered

 

“I will give you a choice,” she replied “You can lay down your weapons, and leave this cave and this planet, or you can fight.”

 

They offered no reply except to drop their weapons and run past the two Jedi. They would never trouble the colonists on Calindar again. The woman turned and looked at Mira, “For a Jedi, you are reckless.”

 

As Mira looked in the woman’s eyes, a hint of recognition popped into her head, as if she had seen the woman somewhere before. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it though, and so she replied:

 

“Yeah, well I’m still new at the Jedi thing, but thank you. You saved my life.”

 

The woman nodded “You’re welcome. I had been watching Zimm and his little cult for a long time. I was planning on eliminating them myself when the opportunity arose.”

 

“Was he what he claimed?” Mira asked

 

“Yes, Zimm was a master of the True Sith teachings, but all his anger, and hate were more than he could control. Why are you here Jedi? Did the Council send you?”

 

“No,” Mira replied, “I’m sort of looking for someone.”

 

“I see…well, good luck with your search, and try and stay out of trouble.”

 

“Wait, you’re leaving?”

 

“Yes, I have work to do.”

 

She turned to leave, but Mira stopped her again “Hey, I don’t even know your name!”

 

The woman turned back to her and smiled.

 

“My name…is Revan.”

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  • 1 month later...

The winner of the June/July '07 'Bounty Hunter' Tales was machievelli with his story, Divided Bounty. It received 14 votes. Congratulations, machievelli!

 

Second place with 12 votes was:

The Hunt by Jae Onasi

 

Third place with 11 votes was:

Accidental Hunter by JasraLantill

 

Kudos to everyone who contributed. Other stories and the poll can be found here.

 

 

Here's the Tale as it originally appeared in TJC.

 

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Divided Bounty

 

Reputation is rumor, pure and simple. People talk. They speak of what you have done, or are supposed to have done. But is it true?

 

Looking at Sela, Callum Dorrt was reminded of that old saw. The bounty hunter before him had a reputation; all of them do. Hers had been formed in just three years. She never missed a bounty, always delivered no matter how hard. Relentless. He had to admit she at least dressed the part. Skin tight leathers, blaster low on her hip, vibroblade on her other hip.

 

But looking at her, he knew it was all jet wash. She looked like a dancing girl; lithe pretty with a face that claimed she didn’t have a thought in that well formed head.

 

On the other hand Callum knew what he had done, and had all the proofs he needed. He had betrayed men of good faith on two worlds, set up deals for them, and betrayed their causes for money. He had stolen the livelihood from the poor on another world, claimed to help those of another while setting them up to become nothing more than slaves of an Imperial Moff. Just to round out his life he had caused the murder of a Black Sun Vigo, though that had never been proven, and ordered a bounty placed on a woman that had scorned his affections.

 

At 30 he reveled in the fact that there were five bounties on him, but none were worth the effort to collect. Maybe eight or nine thousand Imperial Credits all told. But Guild rules didn’t allow you to split a bounty. If you hunted someone, you had to deliver him to just one client. That made the maximum you could collect for someone like Dorrt was what 4000? Which is why his guard force here on Tanager was only seven men and his Brisl hound pack. Good enough if someone like Boba Fett wasn’t after you.

 

So he wasn’t impressed by reputations.

 

He ran his hands over the case she had delivered. The bounty had been a simple one. One of his employees, another girl, had run with some of his art collection. What he wanted was his art back, and her head on a platter. The box was here, but…

 

“The head?”

 

She motioned him away from the case, touching the pore-coded lock. It hissed, opening as the pressure was equalized. She lifted the lid, pulling a layer of packing foam free, and carefully removed what looked like a serving tray from a core world restaurant. She smiled, eyes gleaming as she presented it to him. He looked at it, then ripped the lid off it. Tana’s dead eyes looked up at him. Her head had been removed with surgical precision right at the shoulder line so her neck protruded below.

 

“As specified in the wording of the bounty.” Sela said softly.

 

He still wasn’t impressed. He turned to his desk, and pulled out the bag. “Four thousand, as agreed.” She lifted the bag from his hand, tucking it into her bodice.

 

“A pleasure.” She bowed, and turned. She opened the door, and that was when the stun field blasted her into unconsciousness. Two of his men standing ready outside the door caught her as she fell.

 

Callum paced over, pulling the money; his money from where she had placed it. “Yes, a pleasure.” He touched the face. Maybe… No, she was worth nothing alive. “Deal with her as you see fit.”

 

“Can we…” The man’s eyes were eager, but he blanched at the calm face his employer gave him.

 

“By all means, indulge yourselves.” Dorrt replied. “But she dies before dawn.”

 

*****

 

The last of the three suns began to set, and the Brisl hound keeper sighed as he moved down the line of cages. Brisl were native of a world so dangerous that man took one look and decided that dying may be the end of life, it didn’t mean you have to go looking for it.

 

They were pack hunters with bristling gray and brown striped fur, standing a meter at the shoulder, and moved like lightning. Their jaws were strong enough to crack the thigh bone of a Corellian Megateer, or reduce an armored man’s limbs to paste crushed between flattened sheets of metal. On their homeworld they fed on the Kasalio beasts, twenty metric tons of meat horn clawed feet and bad attitude. But a pack could take that behemoth.

 

One was a danger, but six were death on 24 legs to anything living that was smaller than a cargo shuttle.

 

The keeper had not fed them yet. They were only fed in the morning, thirty kilos of rich red meat every day. In fact they ate better than the guards or their master did. Of course if you fed them anything but meat they became… upset. The keeper had replaced an idiot that had tried to skim money by cutting their diet. Which is how he had become part of it.

 

The hounds looked at him with that cold ‘are you dinner?’ look they had with anything not of their kind. He keyed the sonic shield nervously. They shied back from that. Besides, he was in the walkway, not out where they could just take a quick snack. As the last of the light died, he popped the hatch that led to the grounds. With Brisl a fifteen meter wall with no tree within 20 meters obligatory. Any lower, and they could leap it, and they were excellent climbers. Which is why the inside of that wall was as smooth as man could make it.

 

The pack leader oozed out like a shadow moving with a light, paws landing silently even on the blowing leaves. She sniffed the air, and the keeper stiffened. She acted like…

 

The Brisl growled deep in her throat, like an engine’s gears grinding on an uphill grade, and all six of them raced toward the tree line. The keeper keyed his com link. “I think someone is on the grounds.” He reported as the Guard Captain came online.

 

“Brisl loose?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then we’ll find out who when we check their DNA from the droppings.” The Captain replied, dismissing the intruder.

 

Burt the keeper felt uneasy. Everyone knew Dorrt kept Brisl. Only a fool would- He spun trying to decipher the sound he had just heard from those trees. There was the snarl of an attacking Brisl, then… a whimper of pain? But no sound of blaster or bark of a projectile weapon. Could anyone have taken one of the Brisl that quickly and silently? He shook his head. Nothing living could walk through that hell ground at night and live.

 

Suddenly there were more snarls. He backed toward the house as yelps of surprised pain followed, whimpering, then… silence. He lifted the com link again, then paused. Something hot was running down his shirt, and he looked at the rich red flood from his neck in surprise. There was a hole in his throat, and another in the back of it. He touched the holes in wonder as he fell to his knees. What kind of thing could… He fell forward, dead before he discovered the answer.

 

*****

 

Lasna, report.” The Guard Captain snarled into his com link. The damn keeper was still outside. That meant the perimeter was breached, and until he found out what the hell had happened, they could not seal it. He keyed in the guard room. “Hansa, Brel, Brisl run, now.”

 

“But we just got the girl ready!” Brel came back plaintively.

 

“Think with your big head for once, you barve. You want to tell Dorrt getting wet is more important than his life? You’ll be breakfast for the Brisl if that happens. Zip up and move it. And tell those other damn fools to get into position.”

 

“But there isn’t an alarm!”

 

“My gut says we should have alarms. Now stop questioning my orders Brel, and move!” He jogged down the hall, turning into the last corridor as the two guards joined him. They weren’t the best men, just the best available on this stinking mudball. The Captain considered again asking his boss to hire some decent security men. Yeah, with what? The guy was so tight with his money you needed a tractor beam to get it away from him!

 

The door to the outside opened, and the Captain stared at the body. Whatever had done this had gotten past a Brisl hunting pack without an alarm. To hell with the money! If he lived through the night he’d beat the boss over the head with it! The three men moved forward, automatically falling into a triad back to back formation. The Captain knelt. Two holes almost exactly the same size both carotids and jugular slice as neat as you please. “What the hell did that?”

 

“Selachi dart.” A voice replied, as they frantically turned, the intruder dropped into the center of the formation.

 

*****

 

Dorrt snarled as one of his guards burst in. He pushed the woman aside, standing as he threw on the robe. “What means this?”

 

“Captain Baolart ordered us on alert. The Brisls went straight from the cage into the attack. We can’t get hold of Lasna. Or Baolart and the team with him.” The man wasn’t the sharpest blade in the arsenal, but he was willing and killed without compunction. Dorrt considered how often the Captain had told him they needed better men. But what in the name of the gods could go through a Brisl back whole or even still able to move?

 

He stared at the naked slave girl in disgust. “Get out of here. Back to your quarters!” The woman grabbed her clothes, running frantically past the guard. There was a yelp from down the hall, then an ominous silence.

 

“Cal! Danno! It’s on the top floor! Just took out a slave!” The guard stood there, weapon at the ready, com link at his lips. “Damn it you two report!”

 

Dorrt spun, clawing in his end table. He pulled out the hold out blaster. Then he spun back around. The guard was moving forward slowly. Weapon trained on the door. He flinched, and the projectile gun stuttered, bullets ripping into the walls. Then the man flew forward, something silvery about the size of a man’s index finger punching through his spine and neck. That came from-

 

Dorrt turned, and a hand caught his. He screamed as that hand was crushed to paste as if caught in a blast door. The blaster squeaked as that same pressure reduced it into shards. He looked, and his jaw dropped.

 

“Sela?” The woman looked as if she had gone through everything. Teeth and claws had ripped the flesh of one arm. There was a smoking hole through her stomach that had to be from a blaster. Yet her face was serene. She released his hand, and he felt something shoot into his face. He gasped as he collapsed into darkness.

 

*****

 

His head felt like it had been in a drum beaten by a madman. Doort tried to stretch, but found he was restrained. He opened his eyes, tearing from the sudden burst of light. Then his jaw dropped again. Sela stood there, slightly bruised. And beside her, the nightmare battle torn Sela also stood.

 

“Most of the idiots I work for at least consider the rep before they do something stupid.” Sela said. “You set a new record for stepping on your crank.” She dabbed at her lip, where there was a trickle of blood. “Five years as a slave. Ha! I took worse beatings from the orphanage I lived in before that. All in all, Dorrt you were pathetic.

 

“But I admit you are valuable.”

 

“How…” He motioned toward the silent damaged Sela.

 

“Never heard of HRDs? Human Replicant Droids. Droid combat chassis, with cloned flesh over the frame. Hard to recognize, and unless you’re good, even harder to stop.”

 

“But she looks like you.”

 

“When I was a slave, my master decided he liked me so much he wanted a pair. So he had my dear Sela Yah made. Not only my twin, but a hidden bodyguard no one would expect. Try 9 million to have two of me. But he fouled up. You see, to pretend to be me, she had to have my memories. He didn’t care if I ended up a drooling lump. After all he didn’t keep me around for conversation. So he had my memory duplicated and dumped in her braincase.”

 

She walked over, touching the HRD with a loving hand. The droid looked at her, it’s own hand coming up, duplicating the gesture exactly. “When she woke up, she was me, just me with an armored skeleton and hardwired skills at assassination and defense. That night she took care of the master, and freed all of his slaves.

 

“We ransacked his estate before we left. Every slave had enough to get home and compensation. We took his ship and renamed her Subtlety. But HRDs are hard to maintain. Takes a lot of money to keep them in fighting trim. Upgrades, and a bacta tank for repairs to rthe biological components.” She kissed the HRD gently. “Go get in the tank, love.”

 

“Will you be okay? Sela Yah asked.

 

“Yes. I just want to tell our friend what is in store for him.” The HRD nodded, and paced out.

 

“Yes what will you do?” Dorrt sneered. “There are five bounties, but even if you could collect on all of them it wouldn’t pay for the bacta tank you have!”

 

“Oh I know I can’t sell you to all five.” Sela replied. “Guild rules are quite clear. But you didn’t remember the codicil did you?” He looked at her confused. “All of the contracts are for you alive. And there are ways around the rule if the customers agree.”

 

*****

 

Guri stepped into the office, standing patiently in front of the desk. Prince Xizor, Imperial noble and head of the Black Sun cartel slid the chip he was working on into it’s sleeve flipping it into the out box. “Is there a reason for this?”

 

“A bounty hunter named Sela Astirilo wishes to speak with you. She has already been checked for weapons. But she asked me to show this to you before she came in.” Guri handed him a chip. He looked at it curious then slid it into a reader. He watched for several moments, then leaned back, fingers steepled.

 

“Send her in.”

 

Sela walked in, bowing low to the crime lord. “You have seen the record, my lord?”

 

“Yes. Once I find this Callum Dorrt, he is dead. No one kills one of my men.”

 

She held up a second chip. “My lord, if I may? I think he is more valuable alive.” She explained. The Faleen stared at her for a long moment, then slowly he smiled. “I like it.”

 

*****

 

Five people or groups had placed bounties. It took a while to contact them all, but when Sela had, she gave them all the same offer she had made to Xizor. All agreed, because while not exactly within the rule of what the Bounty Hunter Guild thought, it was really all they had wanted.

 

Between them, Sela left with almost sixty thousand credits. It would have been more if she had not refused the bounty from the parents. She would not leave them destitute.

 

Sela Yah piloted with her usual skill. Sela sat beside her. “Well that gives us what seven months we don’t have to work?”

 

“Six months, four days eleven hours at current expenditure levels.” Sela Yah replied.

 

“Then we have enough for some fun.”

 

“Five months perhaps eight days then.” Sela Yah replied. “After all you have a very expensive idea of fun.”

 

“Hey, I had to think of a way to make that idiot not only pay for what he’d done. But pay off as well.”

 

*****

 

The newly promoted Vigo enter Prince Xizor’s office. The Faleen looked up, then stood. “Welcome Jakka. I am picking your new territory right now, but I wanted to show you something. A glimpse into what I will do to betrayers.” He motioned toward a door to the side, and opened the door.

 

Jakka stared in horror. There was a man in there, or at least part of one. All for limbs had been cut off leaving stumps less than 200 millimeters long. The head lolled back, and the man tried to scream, but without a tongue, there was no sound.

 

“A present from a rather remarkable and vicious bounty hunter. There were already five bounties on him when he came to my attention. Seems he killed one of my Vigos a few years ago. I was ready to merely torture him to death, but she showed me a better way. He walked on two deals, stole and betrayed faiths, and his words sent a girl to her death.” Xizor smiled slowly. “But everyone can only be satisfied when they get what they want, and with my help, she was able to offer them that.

 

“After all, a lot of people wanted a piece of him. And they got it.”

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  • 1 month later...

Congratulations to the winner of the July/August "Pratfall" Tales, Tysyacha. Her entry, Lord Malak's Jaw-Dropping Day received 12 votes.

 

Coming in second place with 9 votes was Boba Fett: Menacing Hunter or Imbecile with Cool Stuff? by Grace

 

Third place goes this month to Galactic Comedy Central: The Daily Korrbolt by JediMaster12, who received 6 votes.

 

The other stories and the poll for this month can be found here. Thank you to everyone who entered!

 

Here's the Tale as it originally appeared:

 

-------------------------------------------------------

 

As the old cliche stated time and time again, even Sith Lords had "one of those days" occasionally. It all started, Lord Malak supposed, with his morning glance in the mirror on one dark day...

 

He noticed that the purplish sections of his pasty pate looked a little more purple than usal, with more than just a few extra wrinkles. Uggh. Varicose veins. I must send to Kamino for a new set of scalp vessels, or maybe I'll just decapitate a lazy servant and use his instead. By the Force, I'm getting old. Time to gargle. Lord Malak methodically filled a small cup with a rinse of sterile Jedi blood plasma and swished. Glurglurglurglurg...slursh! CLUNK!

 

Lord Malak sighed. His jaw had fallen off into the sink, along with the rinse.

 

"MMMGGGGGHHH!", he roared, calling for one of his more menial minions to assist him. With fast, panting breaths, an incompentent peon named (oddly) Llluuukkke rushed to the task. "Yes, Master?" he cried, saluting. "What is it?"

 

Lord Malak closed his eyes, shook his head slowly, and pointed to his jaw.

 

"Oh. Right." Without bothering to scrub and sterilize the parts, Llluuukkke (I did it!) hastily screwed Lord Malak's missing metallic mandible back on.

 

"You FOOL!" Malak boomed.

 

"GUGAGGGHHH!" Llluuukkke flailed his arms in the air and kicked his legs as he performed his morning calisthenics in the grip of a Force Crush. Remarkably effective in raising the heart rate, that method was. Better than any other.

 

"NEXT time, scour every inch of my galactinium jaw with extra bacta fluid antiseptic. Otherwise, YOUR scalp veins will become MY exclusive property."

 

Llluuukkke just nodded his head in a quick series of six knee-jerk reflexes and hurried off to prepare his Master's breakfast. Planet Puffs--Malak's favorite. They were the bite-sized pieces of his military victories, processed and fortified with enriched fluor and 12 essential vitamins and minerals. Ahh! Tasty as always. Malak relished every bite of his ashen-colored cereal. It was manufactured on the three giant food-processing planets that catered especially to small children in the galaxy--Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose.

 

Today he'd add Taris to the box. He was running rather low on Planet Puffs.

 

"Minion, prepare the men for the annihilation of Tar--" skitter, skitter, skitter, slurrrsssshhhh! This time, not only had Malak's jaw dropped into his cereal bowl, but his precious Planet Puffs were spilling out all over the floor of the ship! Sith Lords HAD to have every part of a nutritious breakfast! Without another word, Lord Malak severed Llluuukkke's jaw and tried to mesh it onto his own face. There was too much slippage, though, and too small of a fit.

 

"Hmph." He motioned for a medical droid to reattach his old jaw--properly.

 

"Now," he said. "Fetch Saul Karath." The droid, after retrieving a smoking and odiferous part from its posterior compartments, beeped and rolled away.

 

"Yes, Lord Malak?" Finally, someone who made some sense. With a large jaw.

 

"Prepare all battleships for our annihilation of Taris."

 

Saul Karath looked doubtful. "But that will take hours, Lord Malak."

 

Lord Malak reached out a finger and tickled Saul's chin and lower jaw. "And I'll take YOURS if you don't see about obeying my orders, Lieutenant."

 

Saul saluted and finally understood why that one medical droid kept losing smoldering, smelly parts. He set about positioning the Sith fleet for battle.

When all stations were ready, Saul gave the signal.

 

Spots of light poured onto the Taris surface--red and green and yellow and--

 

"I WANTED the people of Taris to taste the sting of their DEATHS, Lieutenant Karath, not The Rainbow!" Malak snarled. "Those are SKITTLES, schutta!"

 

Saul Karath suddenly found himself in the grip of a Force Choke (on his own phlegm), and after recovering his composure, he flipped a large lever from the CANDY setting to CARNAGE. He hoped the Tarisians were enjoying their last meal (however full of artifical colors, flavors, and 1% fruit juice it was).

 

At last, all was ready, and Taris soon became a rather appetizing ball of ash.

 

Very soon, however, all seemed lost, for Calo Nord (who always looked like he put way too much zinc oxide on his nose and too much collagen in his lips), Lord Malak's best bounty hunter, brought a report: "The Jedi Bastila has escaped, sir."

 

*********************************************************

 

Sixteen bolts, sixteen nuts, myriads of screws, and a few levers. All polished, all primed, and all placed into precise piston pockets. All perfect.

 

And, for the third time, all unhinged.

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  • 4 months later...

The winner for the August/September Tales was Bee Hoon for her fic entitled Frozen.

 

Second place was tied, and it went to both machievelli for The Path to Darkness and Emperor Devon for For the Greater Good.

 

The other fics and poll can be seen in the August/September '07 Tales. Congrats to Bee Hoon, machievelli, and Emperor Devon:

 

 

Below is Bee Hoon's entry.

 

-----------------------------------------

 

There is wakefulness. There is sleep. I am weak in sleep. The voices invade even this last refuge.

 

They are metallic. The words are distorted, growing in volume and strength.

 

I must not sleep.

 

* * *

 

“Mistress!”

 

“Calm yourselves. I am all right.” Do they see the fine tremor in my hands? No need to, really. The dark circles under my eyes give me away surely enough.

 

“But mistress, you just fell…” Her voice trailed away when I glared at her. “Please mistress, let us tend to you. You’ll have bruises. Will you eat something? You haven’t eaten in days!”

 

“No.” Even I was surprised at the tone of my voice. “I am going to meditate. Just make sure that I am not disturbed.”

 

“As you wish, mistress. I will inform my sisters” She looked hurt, but I did not feel anything. I could not.

 

“What happened to you?” It had been like a slap across the face, when she had said that. The memory of it was one of the few things that could silence the cacophony of ugly words that clawed at my mind, but I choose them over that clear voice anytime.

 

The door shuts behind me. Extraordinary is a word. Yes. She liked that word. I shall forget that word.

 

Am I going mad? To silence the babble, I am silencing myself. In silencing myself, I am…

 

I am…

 

“You are weak.”

My hands clenched, the green tracery of veins under the pale skin becoming even more prominent. “I am strong enough to learn your secrets, and to use them against you.”

 

“Know thine enemy?” The voices broke into harsh laughter, grating at my ears, my nerves, the very essence of my being. Scraping away, fine pieces of me lost in the noise.

 

“Stop it! Please stop it!” I was crying by now, pressing my hands over my ears, crushing the fragile cartilage against my head, crouching down in the middle of the cold, cold meditation hall. They’re around me, inside my head. “I’m strong enough! I am!”

 

“Why are you doing this?”

 

* * *

 

Silence. I shall sa...savour it. Yes. That was the word. Savour.

 

No. Not this. I don’t want to remember.

 

You came back from the war. Why? You should have died! Maybe then I would have been able to lie to myself, tell myself that it was Revan, yes, yes, it was Revan who forced you to go war.

 

But now you’re standing before me, and the echo screams in my ears. The wound is bleeding. You are the wound, Lei. It cannot be. There is no being that exists like this. You are unnatural. You are ruined. I can’t see you like this.

 

I turn and stumble away, blinded by tears and…fear.

 

And then you said that. “Why are you doing this?” How can I answer? I heard what you left unspoken. I, of all people, should forsake you now. I left you there, standing at the Jedi landing pad, the condemning eyes of a hundred Jedi on you, and I did not look back.

 

* * *

 

The madness has passed. I’m just so cold. Numbed and frozen.

 

I wish I could do it all over again. I’d have said yes when you asked me to go with you to fight the Mandalorians. I would not freeze, whether with rage or terror, nor would I have struck you and branded you traitor. The word hurt you more than the blow did. I saw it in your eyes.

 

I told you not to do it. I warned you against it. And when you returned as the wound, there was not even the cold comfort of knowing that I was right.

 

* * *

 

“Atris, I must speak with you.”

 

“Kavar, this isn’t a good time.” That was a severe understatement. She had been exiled. I had wanted them to execute her. She’d be better off dead. I’d be better off if she was dead. It was a chilling thought, but to the numbness that comes after pain, it had a certain logic.

 

He grabbed me by the shoulder and spun me around to look at him, his sharp blue eyes probing mine. “What’s wrong with you? Won’t you even speak with her before she leaves?”

 

I shook him off coldly. I’m safe now. I’ll never trust anyone again.

 

“It’s not her fault that you refused to go with her! And it’s not her fault that she was forced into a corner, where she had only death or more death as her choices. We were not there. We failed them, Atris. All the Masters did. Because we were afraid of going to war again!” His voice was rising, as was the colour in my cheeks. Lies! Filthy lies!

 

“I wanted to go with her. But I chose the Order over her. And now… if not for the Sith, I would follow her to keep her safe, as I should have. But I can’t leave now.” I could feel his anguish. He loved her.

 

Did I?

 

His voice had fallen to a whisper by now. “And you wanted her dead because of her wound. Because you wondered whether you might have spared her that fate, if only by taking it upon yourself.”

 

* * *

 

Pull yourself together, Atris.

 

Atris?

 

No, I’m not Atris anymore. That foolish woman died on Coruscant that day. I killed her. All it took was a turn, a step away, and she began her slow death.

 

I’m stronger than she was. I’m strong enough.

 

Stand up. The lightsaber-- ignite it. Their knowledge will be mine. They will fall by my hand.

 

Like the Jedi did?

 

* * *

 

The echo travels, never reaching its destination and it takes all of us with it, tears us out of our bodies as the screams die on our lips. It is what we fear the most, a death without the Force, disconnected from everything. The blind ones die with us all but one, and the shade walks the dead planet’s surface and claims her for his own…And she stands over my corpse and cries out, “What happened to you?”

 

I break out of the vision with a sharp gasp. I’ve sweated through my robes, my body preparing itself for flight. There would be no fight. Just the horrible emptiness that cut sharper that any blade could.

 

I leave the meditation chamber and head straight for my quarters, stepping into the shower and letting the cold water shock me back into sensibility. It’s all lies, because the traitor was in it. Therefore, it cannot be a vision of the truth. The exile is nothing now.

 

But, perhaps I should mention it to them. And I suppose that I should stay away from Katarr.

 

When I step out of my quarters, Kavar is in the courtyard, watching Dantooine’s twin moons with a strange expression shadowing his handsome features. Since she left, he has become increasingly subdued, seemingly robbed of that innate happiness he once possessed. He is staring at the night sky, his thoughts carefully clouded.

 

He notices me when I clear my throat.

 

“Eh? Oh, Atris. Is something the matter?”

 

Tell him! I freeze again, the same way I did when she asked me to come with her and I could not find the strength.

 

I duck my head and say, “No. Nothing at all.”

 

* * *

 

“It is such a quiet thing, to fall. But far more terrible is to admit it.”

 

But I’ve always tried to act for the good of everyone. For the good of the Jedi.

 

It makes sense that as the last Jedi Master, I should remain hidden. She would be good bait for the Sith, an exile whom they would lose interest in once they realized that she had lost her connection to the Force.

 

Wasn’t it? She wouldn’t get hurt, would she? Even if they did harm her, perhaps they’d give her the death that she must surely crave, release from the abhorrent echo that resonates at the core of her being.

 

Kavar was wrong. I could never have spared her that fate. She betrayed me, and now it is time for me to take up the mantle as Betrayal’s Mistress, she who has been betrayed and betrayed in turn. I let the Jedi die at Katarr, and now I will ensure that the Sith meet the same fate.

 

She is in the way. The fool cannot hope to understand what I am doing. I will remove her before I deal with the Sith fleet that orbits the planet. It is within my capability. I am sure of it.

 

Her death will be as painless as I can make it, because I am not a cruel person. I am sure that her last breath will be a sigh of relief, and I will be freed of her voice forever.

 

There is no death, there is the Force.

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The Tales winner for the October/November contest was igyman for his entry A Reason to Kill. The topic was 'Redemption'.

 

Second place went to At the Trayus Core by Tysyacha.

 

Third place was for Mistakes by Darth Stephanie.

 

The poll can be seen here.

 

Here is igyman's fic to enjoy.

 

One hour earlier.

 

The path of the Dark Side is a treacherous one, at best. I should know. I walked that path once, when I thought ends justified the means. I was betrayed by my closest friend, so I took another path. A path to right the wrongs. I chased visions and clues across the galaxy and in the end I found what I was looking for.

 

The thick door opened to reveal a huge observation chamber. I slowly walked in and saw him immediately. He was standing at the center of the room, enjoying the flashes of red and green turbolaser bolts that flew around from and to every possible direction, some destroying their targets and some missing them completely. The two swarms of little fighter ships mixed into one big storm, a few larger ones stood at each side, exchanging shots on occasion. The lead ships stood behind, like queen bees, giving instructions to their drones.

 

I approached, summoning my lightsaber hilt from the belt to my hand. Chances are this won’t end nicely. He turned around, revealing the pale skin and yellow eyes above the metallic jaw.

 

’’You are here at last.’’ He sounded almost like a machine. His voice echoing terribly under the metal. ’’I suspected my apprentices would not be a match for you.’’

 

’’And you know why I’m here.’’ I said calmly.

 

’’You think you can stop me.’’ He replied, backing away a few steps and igniting his lightsaber. The long red blade emerged, bathing me in its bloodthirsty glow. ’’You have grown both willful and powerful, perhaps even more powerful than you were during your reign as the Dark Lord, but so have I.’’ He started circling, his hand held out and his red blade pointed at me. I followed, maintaining the distance between us, pointing my own lightsaber at him, as its green blade emerged from the hilt.

 

’’You underestimate me. After all, I have made it this far.’’ I said, trying to reduce his confidence. I honestly had no idea which one of us would be walking out of there alive.

 

’’I don’t think so.’’ He replied as confidently as before. ’’This can only end in one way – according to the ancient Sith tradition the apprentice must defeat the master.’’

 

He stopped circling and made his move, charging at me with his weapon prepared to deliver the killing blow, but he was blocked off by my own blade. He backed away a few steps once again, confidently twirling his blade from one hand to the other and back again. I felt him preparing to strike again, so I assumed a defensive stance. He pushed me away with the Force, surprising me completely. It was dumb luck that I didn’t drop my blade in the process and as I saw him charging at me again, I quickly jumped back to my feet and met his blade with my own. As we both pushed our blades towards one another, struggling to prevail, I summoned the Force, making him land on his back a few meters in front of me. Just to return the favor.

 

’’Why did you betray me?’’ I shouted as I walked toward him. I had to know. I needed a reason for this fight, for my revenge. A more personal reason than the ones I had so far.

 

’’The strongest must rule, if the Sith are to survive!’’ He replied as he rose back to his feet. Wasting no time, he attacked again, swinging his blade at me, each time from a different direction. ’’I am the strongest now, Revan, not you! So, as histories and traditions teach us, the apprentice must eventually destroy the master.’’

 

He attacked again. I blocked and then quickly countered, trying to catch him off balance. I swung my blade from the left, right, up and down, making him slowly back away.

 

’’You failed once before, Malak. Are you so certain this time will be different?’’ I probed further, trying to split his concentration.

 

’’I never truly got the respect I deserved, after betraying you from afar. They acknowledged me as the Dark Lord, addressed me as such, but amongst themselves they insulted me, saying I was too afraid to face you in close combat, saying I was weak, comparing me to you, just as they did when you, the Great Darth Revan, were their leader.’’ His machine-like voice echoed across the chamber. ’’No more! This time I will prove once for all that I am worthy of my title. I will end your pitiful existence and prove that I am the one true Dark Lord of the Sith!’’

 

And there it was. Even though I remembered nothing of my life as Darth Revan, his words produced the effect I was waiting for. He was my best friend and he betrayed me because of petty jealousy and his own ambition. The stars were ours, but he wanted them to be his.

 

I got angry. I detached myself from every other emotion and connected with the Force on a deeper level. I became like an animal in its natural habitat, using every milimeter of my surroundings to my advantage. This room became my jungle and Malak was the trespassing hunter.

 

I charged and just when he’d have expected me to strike, I jumped over him, whirling my blade defensively, and landed behind him, forcing him to turn around and perform his defense move quicker and with less time to think about what next. I swung again and again, performing the most astonishing moves he’s ever seen. He held his ground quite effectively, but I could notice the fatigue slowly crawling up on him. I continued to jump around and over him, making my every next attack more and more difficult.to defend against. Our blades met time and again, producing white flashes and sizzling noises each time they touched each other’s surface, until he suddenly tripped, using his last bit of strength to push me away with the Force, effectively disorienting me.

 

’’Do you really think I can be defeated that easily?’’ His machine-like voice threatened as he rose back to his feet. ’’Take a look around you.’’ I heard him say as I rose back to mine. ’’Do you see the bodies?’’

 

I evolved again from animal to man and did as he asked, noticing quite a few bodies floating in strange looking pods, held in mid-air by some kind of energy field. I was so focused on him that I completely failed to see them before. I knew Malak would reveal their terrible purpose soon enough.

 

’’They are Jedi who fell when I attacked Dantooine. Gathered by my minions and kept barely alive for one purpose --’’ Malak interrupted his speech to drain the closest suspended body of the Force. ’’-- to feed the Star Forge and to feed me.’’

 

’’Release them at once!’’ I shouted, knowing it was in vain.

 

’’Release them? The only way to do that is to kill them and I won’t allow their deaths to have no purpose. They will become one with the Force only when they fulfill the function I gave them.’’ Malak said righteously.

 

That was the exact moment it hit me – So far I have pursued this quest across the galaxy because I considered it an imposed obligation that must be fulfilled and I wanted to kill Malak simply for imposing it on me. I would never have been here, if he wasn’t so damn ambitious, or if his shot was, at least, effective enough to kill me. They all demanded it of me – Vrook, Zhar, all of them. ’’The council gave you a chance to redeem yourself by destroying Malak.’’ Bastila’s words. And I did want redemption, but to have it this way, by killing, my reasons had to be pure. That’s when I discovered the true reason for the necessity of Malak’s death, to spare the galaxy of the horrors he would bestow upon it, should his conquest succeed.

 

’’Don’t worry, Revan, you’ll join them soon enough, your power feeding me as I conquer the galaxy.’’ Malak added.

 

I renounced all the previous reasons I had and embraced this newly discovered one. Then I made my move.

 

I threw my lightsaber at the closest suspended body, jumping away in a completely different direction. I suspect those Jedi would have welcomed my act as merciful, compared to what Malak intended to do to them. I landed near another Jedi and summoned my lightsaber back to me. I swung it and sent this Jedi to the Force as well. Just as Malak was realizing my plan I cut down another suspended Jedi. Malak started chasing me, but it was in vain. Soon enough all his backups were destroyed and Malak was left to face me with only one Force jolt powering him. He charged.

 

Our blades clashed, once again producing the familiar white flash. This was it, there would be no more pauses, no more conversations. This fight would end only when one of us was dead. So we played our little dance of death, each of our moves performed perfectly, each of us straining himself to the maximum, pushing the limits of our physical and mental constitution. If we had an audience, I think they would have said this was the most beautiful combat they’ve ever seen. But one of us had to lose.

 

Malak was getting tired again. It became more and more difficult for him to block my attacks and he produced more and more openings for me. The fight continued, with a slightly slower pace, until his defenses faltered and I managed to destroy his lightsaber, kicking him to the ground as a proof of victory. A slightly premature proof.

 

Malak used what’s left of his strength for one last desperate attempt to defeat me. Not even trying to get up, he held out his hand and blue bolts of lightning came out of his fingertips, rushing to meet me. I quickly raised my lightsaber and the blue bolts were instantly blocked off by its green blade. But Malak wouldn’t stop until he has completely drained himself. Blue lightning kept trying to push me back, but I continued forward, slowly approaching Malak, each step felt a kilometer long. That’s when he managed to get up, but it was far too late. I plunged my blade into his chest and he fell back to his knees as I pulled it out, coughing, gasping for air.

 

’’You... you won.’’ He said. ’’You are the stronger after all. You are the one who... deserves to be the Dark Lord, but I wonder, Revan... if our roles were switched, if the Jedi found me, would I have been able to get back to the Light as you did.’’ He coughed again, breathing more heavily after each word.

 

’’Who knows?’’ I replied calmly. ’’Maybe it would be possible, but you chose your own path, Malak, a path of conquest, death and destruction.’’

 

’’Yes... and now, only at its end do I realize...’’ He took one last breath, ’’I am nothing.’’ Then he exhaled and was no more.

 

It was over. They all wanted it. Demanded it. Said it was the only way and I listened. I did what they wanted. His lifeless body laid at my feet. I killed him. But have I redeemed myself? Truly redeemed myself?

 

In everyone else’s eyes, I most definitely have. And as for my own? I looked upon my former friend’s lifeless body once again. I had many reasons to kill him, but only the one I last discovered mattered. The demands of Jedi, of the Republic, of all the people I’ve met and all those that accompanied me on my journey meant nothing. If you want to redeem yourself by killing, your reason for that act must be completely selfless and the person must be completely deserving of death. It won’t make killing right, but it will make it acceptable. Anything less and you’re just another murderer, killing to satisfy your own selfish desires and ambitions.

 

The enormous space station started to tremble. The Republic was gaining ground and managed to deliver blows to the Star Forge itself. I had to leave, but when I did, it was with relief and one last realization - although the Dark Side will always remain a part of me, I know I am now truly a follower of Light.[/indent]

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Congratulations to True_Avery, who was the winner of the December Tales competition for her fic Gray Code: Way of the Sith. The topic for this contest was "How Malak Lost His Jaw".

 

Sabretooth came in second place with his fic Unconquerable.

 

Third place went to Jae Onasi for The Smile.

 

True_Avery's submission required multiple posts due to length, so I have linked it instead of posting it here as normal. The poll can be viewed here.

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  • 9 months later...

Congratulations to the winners of the January Tales competition who tied with 4 votes each: machievelli with Dxun Memories and Sabretooth with Healing the Enemy.

 

Second place went to three participants who received 2 votes each: The Art of War: Opposites Attract by JediMaster12, Liberation by JediAthos and Bitter by Bee Hoon.

 

Tied for third place are Diego Varen for Prelude and Salzella for Fire with Fire.

 

The poll can be viewed here.

 

As it was a tie, I did not post the winning entries, but the links are provided!

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Congratulations to Writer, who won for The Fate of the Galaxy Hacker which received 6 votes.

 

In second place is lord-nihilus for Darth Nihilus Chapter # 1:Hunger for life, which received 3 votes.

 

The poll can be viewed here.

 

And here is Writer's fic in all its glory :D Enjoy!

 

The Fate of the Galaxy Hacker

 

 

 

Casey Vale awoke slowly, with the faint memory of having been shot with a stun blast from behind. Her whole body ached and her head was spinning... best not try at sitting up just yet. It took several moments for her head to clear enough and, though she still had a splitting headache, she managed to prop herself up against the nearest wall. Only then, she opened her eyes.

 

She was in a holding cell, which caused only momentary confusion. Slowly, the events before the stun blast came into focus. The planning and execution of the Galaxy Hacks, and the subsequent two weeks of the Empire hunting the Galaxy Hacker, the arrest, and being placed in a holding cell, awaiting a trial. A smile mixed with a grimace on Casey’s lips, amusement mixed with her pain. It had been a fun month, hadn’t it? She had no further time to ponder the events; the door on the other side of the little white room slid open.

 

“You’re awake,” the Imperial interrogator said, entering flanked by two Stormtroopers. Casey rolled her eyes and immediately regretted it, as it made the room spin.

 

“You knew that,” she croaked, her mouth dry from the length of time she’d been unconscious... and the stun blast. “Or you’d not be here now.”

 

The man gave her a tight-lipped smile. “Point taken. You know how this works.”

 

“Not that I’ve...” Casey began. She made an attempt at clearing her dry throat, and coughed. “Can I... water... please?”

 

With a nod, the interrogator stepped forward with a glass of water and Casey drank it gratefully.

 

“That’s better,” she said appreciatively. “Now, where was I? Oh, that’s right. Yeah, I know how this works, though I’ve never actually been through it before.”

 

“Why did you do it?” the man asked, squatting down to her eye level.

 

“What’s your name?” Casey asked curiously in return. With an odd smirk, the man shook his head.

 

“It doesn’t work that way,” he said. Casey mimicked his grin.

 

“Why not?” she needled. “You know my name.”

 

He laughed. “Half the galaxy knows your name. And what you’re famous for.”

 

Casey grinned. “So what’s the problem with one little hacker knowing your name? What are you famous for?”

 

“I’m famous for nothing,” the man replied. “And if you must insist, I’m not entirely opposed to confessing. My name is Jattic. Jattic Lukan.”

 

Casey smiled pleasantly. “Nice to meet you, Jattic Lukan. Ask your questions.”

 

“Why did you do it?” Jattic asked. Casey cocked her head curiously.

 

“Do what?” she asked, feigning innocence. Jattic frowned.

 

“Don’t play ignorant,” he said. “The Galaxy Hacks. Incom Corp., CEC, KDY, and all them? They all lost a massive amount of information. And then, there’s the shipping companies, the cruise lines, the military, and all them... losing star charts, coordinates, and whatnot. And the anti-Empire messages on all those viewscreens and holoprojectors... all comes down to a simple little question: why?”

 

“Can they prove without a doubt that I’m the Galaxy Hacker?” Casey demanded. “How much proof did they really dig up?”

 

“That’s the thing about the Empire,” Jattic said, standing once more. “We don’t need undeniable proof unless the Galaxy Hacker strikes again. Just answer the question, will you? It’ll make this easier on both of us.”

 

“It’s not an easy question,” Casey answered after a moment of thought. “Why? Better to ask ‘why not’, perhaps? But that doesn’t really have an easy answer either.”

 

“Did you know you’d get caught?” Jattic asked next, wondering for a moment if even Casey knew entirely why she pulled such an outrageous hacking job.

 

“Only if I wanted to be,” Casey said quickly. “Force knows, I had enough money to duck and run for the Outer Rim and keep on dodging the Imperial bloodhounds.”

 

“So you wanted to be caught?” Jattic was intrigued. “Why?”

 

“Did I say that?” Casey laughed. Jattic smiled faintly.

 

“You implied it. ‘Only if I wanted to be,’ you said. Well, you got caught, which implies you wanted to be. Why?”

 

“What is it you want to hear?” Casey asked him. “Some blatant lie about how it’s an easy way to expose myself as a hacker so the Empire can give me government hacking jobs? Some long monologue about how the Empire is wrong and this growing Rebel Alliance that people are starting to whisper about should overthrow it?” She snorted. “You’ll get none of that from me.”

 

Jattic nodded. “And what will I get?” Casey was silent and Jattic decided it was time to move on. He gestured to the Stormtroopers and they left him alone with Casey. “Your friend Sean wanted to see you.”

 

A smile of longing touched Casey’s lips and Jattic knew that Sean Casey meant something to Casey Vale. Meant a lot.

 

“He would,” she murmured. “Damned stubborn, that one. Before I went to my parents’ house to be ‘collected’, I sent him a message.”

 

“Told him what you were doing,” Jattic filled in. “Admitted the Galaxy Hacks were your doing.”

 

“Oh, he already knew that,” Casey chuckled. “Sean’s a smart one.”

 

“In school, your peers and some of your teachers called the two of you ‘Sean Casey Vale’, or ‘SCV’. You were very close. What happened? And more importantly, why shouldn’t we arrest Sean Casey as another suspect in the crime?”

 

“You mean, why should you let him go?” Casey shot back. “I know you’re already holding him.”

 

“Alright then,” Jattic allowed with a nod. “Why should we let him go?”

 

“Because he had nothing to do with it,” Casey replied evenly. “You guys know that, even. He’s got a job. Legit. Security consultant, you know? It’s partially by his efforts that you all made the connection that the Galaxy Hacker was me.” With an expression that bordered on frustration and guilt, the young woman added, “And he’s already suffered enough... what with me for a friend...”

 

“That bothers you,” Jattic observed. “Fascinating. You ran the most devastating hack in the galaxy to date and the emotional stress on Sean Casey of being your friend is what bothers you?”

 

Casey was silent, but Jattic could see tears welling up in her eyes. In an odd way, he felt sorry for her. But he had to shake that off. This girl had caused some serious damage to some major companies and they wanted blood. Their bloodlust was only slightly sated by the fact that all the information she’d taken had been returned just hours before her arrest.

 

“And your family?” Jattic pressed, hating himself for the fact that the interrogation had to go on. “You realize you’ve done a great deal to ruin your entire family’s reputation... your father, your mother, your brother.”

 

At that, Casey shot him a teary glare, and in a shaky voice she demanded, “What do you want from me? A confession? Do you want me to say that I was heartless enough that I didn’t think of them? That I was only thinking of my career and what I could or could not do?”

 

“So you thought of them,” Jattic cut in hurriedly. “I didn’t mean to suggest that you didn’t.”

 

Through her tears, Casey managed a smile. “You’re not like most interrogators.”

 

A faint smile from Jattic. “I’ve been in the business a long time. Long enough that they tend to let me do and say what I want. Most importantly right now, Casey, I’m an open ear.”

 

“I’m not much of a closed mouth, am I?” Casey choked out. Jattic crossed the room and sat next to her, in much the same manner as a friend might have done.

 

“What do you have to hide?” he asked. “You did something terrible. Then, you undid the damage, sent all the information back. Empire won’t execute you; they want to hire you... after you serve a total of twelve years in prison...”

 

“They know they can’t keep me in prison,” Casey groaned. Jattic nodded.

 

“That they do,” he conceded. He smiled faintly. “They held the trial without you there... an odd practice. I’m not even sure how that sits on a legal standpoint. Twelve years, you got. And you have to wear this...” He held out a slim silver band, “... on your upper arm. Left or right, you choose.”

 

Casey stared at the band. “And then what?”

 

“And then, you travel,” Jattic replied. “You travel with four guards and the armband. Like you said before, they can’t keep you in a prison. Hell, you’ve escaped from this holding cell three times already, haven’t you?”

 

Casey’s laughter was choked with sobs and Jattic put a comforting arm around her.

 

“I’ve signed on as one of your guards, Casey,” he said. “Like I said before, they pretty much let me do whatever I want. And one of these days, you’ll work up the courage to tell me exactly why you gave up friends, family, technology... everything you loved... traded it all for a prison sentence that you knew wouldn’t be spent in prison.”

 

He squeezed her shoulders and stood. “I’ll let you think on that, and in an hour, I’ll bring your other guards around to meet you. Max Lukan’s one of ‘em. My brother... a riot, you’ll love him. Katera Vincent, a friend of ours. She’s got to be the most unpredictable person you’ve ever met... and Garreth Tober. Don’t really know him, but we’ll keep an eye on him, make sure he’s cool, alright?”

 

Casey wiped the tears from her cheeks and stood. “Why are you telling me all this?”

 

Jattic laughed. “This is the fate of the Galaxy Hacker...you’re spending twelve years with four roommates,” he said. “Thought you might like to know something about your roommates. ‘Cuz that’s what we’ll be, Case. Roomies. Whatever you’re after in this imprisonment, count on us to make it happen, okay?” He grinned. “Be back in an hour.”

 

Casey watched him go, unsure of what she thought. She understood now why he was such a good interrogator. He’d broken through the barriers, got her crying, got her to admit without words that she’d been arrested willingly, that the Galaxy Hacks were just a piece of a greater puzzle. She’d come so near to telling him what she was after... and then he’d run off. In one second, Casey was cursing her own lack of fortitude, and in the next she couldn’t help but wonder how serious Jattic had been about his offer for help. She supposed she’d find out soon enough.

 

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

One month later...

 

 

Dear Sean,

 

You’ve probably never received a letter actually written out by hand. That’s alright... this is the first I’ve ever done. It’s got an odd feel to it... not sure if I like it yet or not. Anyway, I hardly took on this chore to discuss the chore itself, did I? I’d better get straight to the point then.

 

Sean, I just want to tell you I’m sorry. I know this whole thing had to have been hard on you. After all, the Galaxy Hacks came out of the blue. I mean, I’d always joked about it, sure... but we both knew I never meant for the plan to be more than a private joke. Jattic (one of my guards) told me that you’ve been interrogated seven times since I got arrested and five in the two weeks before. You don’t deserve this, but I didn’t have a choice. One day, I hope you can understand that.

 

I’m not going to give you any details because then they’ll really get on your case. But just know that there’s a reason behind my actions. And it’s a damned good one. I know that’s not going to make you feel better... it doesn’t really even make me feel better. I just... it had to be said. Tell my parents and my brother I’m sorry. I am sorry, Sean.

 

All my love,

 

Casey

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

 

“You know, when I got that for you, I didn’t actually count on you using it,” Jattic remarked with a chuckle as Casey shut the notebook in which she’d been writing. It had been Casey’s birthday a couple of days earlier and he’d presented it to her then with a laugh, a grin, and a ‘Happy Birthday from all of us’. Casey shrugged and held up her left arm, the silver band plainly visible just below the end of her short sleeve.

 

“It’s my only source of thought outlet now,” she replied. “Can’t get on the tech thanks to this thing...”

 

“It’s temporary, Case,” Jattic offered comfortingly. “Though you’ll probably say it’s not temporary enough. Two years, max. Then, you’ll start getting supervised tech time.”

 

“Makes me feel loads better,” Casey muttered sarcastically. Jattic grinned and shook his head.

 

“Look at you!” he protested. “You’re like a sulking little kid. Come on, now. Cheer up... what were you writing, anyway?” He quickly added, "Not that I'm being nosy... just... you know..."

 

For a moment, Casey did not reply. She did know. Technically, Jattic was supposed to keep track of everything that went on, everything she said, everything she did. If he were really and truly taking his job seriously, he'd have demanded to read what she'd written. But Jattic wasn't like that. And neither were Max and Katera, and Garreth certainly wouldn't bother. Finally, Casey said, “Nothing... just a letter to a friend.”

 

Jattic smiled knowingly and nodded. “Will he ever see the letter?”

 

With a sad smile, Casey admitted the truth:

 

“Probably not.”

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The winner of April's contest is Bee Hoon with 9 votes for her fic Popsicle Bliss.

 

Second place goes to Inyri for Just The Way You Are, which received 7 votes.

 

Three people tied for third place with 5 votes each: It's Just a Little Thing by Jae Onasi, Or Danger May Befall by Darth InSidious and Story Number One WHOOHOO by Samuel Dravis.

 

Curious souls can find the poll here.

 

Below is Bee Hoon's entry. Enjoy!

 

***

 

When he finally spotted the two children sitting in a gazebo, the Padawan heaved a sigh of relief. “There you are! I’ve spent the entire day looking for the two of you.”

 

The two children sized the Padawan up, their faces unusually grave for such young ones, while he did the same to them. The boy standing in front of the girl protectively was a couple of years older than her, with sandy hair and hazel eyes. The honey-skinned girl was sitting on the balustrade with her feet on the bench, and peeking over his shoulder. She was about 5 or 6 years old, with very dark hair and eyes.

 

There was a long silence, during which Kavar resisted the urge to examine them through the Force. It was generally considered poor etiquette among the Jedi, unless you were willing to subject yourself to similar scrutiny.

 

“He’s very tall,” the girl observed.

 

“Not as scary as Master Vrook though,” the boy replied.

 

Kavar chuckled at that, and his annoyance dissipated a little. “So, I presume that you are Revan,” he nodded at the boy, “and you are Lei?” he inclined his head at the girl.

 

The girl said, “No, I’m Revan.”

 

The boy said nothing, but he smirked a little. His friend gave Kavar an utterly earnest look, but the Padawan was unconvinced. He merely sighed, flipped open a datapad and handed it to them

 

As they were poring over it, they whispered to each other continuously. Kavar found his curiosity quite unreasonably stoked, and he tried to eavesdrop on their conversation.

 

“Look, they mention the time you locked Malak in the storeroom…”

 

“At least I didn’t hide in Atris’ library while cutting class. Of all places…!”

 

Kavar reached forward and pulled the datapad out of Revan’s hands. The boy scowled at him, his short-cropped hair glowing like a halo in the golden light of the Coruscanti afternoon. He looked like a rather petulant angel as he said, “We’re not following you back, you know. You might be Sith.”

 

The two of them exchanged glances, and Kavar sensed an argument that he was not privy to…which was odd. Finally, Revan shrugged and Lei said triumphantly, “See, I told you that he was okay! He’s all bright. Definitely not a Sith.”

 

“What?” Kavar was horrified. He hadn’t even felt them reaching out through the Force.

 

The girl frowned a little, a very small wrinkle appearing between her eyebrows. “What what?” she asked, genuinely confused.

 

Waving his hand expansively, the Padawan exclaimed, “How did you do that? I didn’t even sense you looking at me!”

 

“Oh. That.” She looked at him dubiously. “How come no one else can do this?”

 

“’Cuz you’re special!” Revan said with a grin, and he gave Lei’s hair an affectionate tug, for which he was rewarded with a scowl.

 

“Don’t talk nonsense!” Turning to Kavar, she said, “Come on, I’ll show you.”

 

He hesitated, but took the proffered hand, his own large one swallowing it up, and plunged straight into a sensory overload. Afterwards, he could only compare it to suddenly being shown what colour was after having lived in a monochrome world, or jumping into a fourth dimension. Looking at both of them was overwhelming. Revan’s flame was unbearably bright, and Kavar sensed that he would burn brighter still as he matured. Lei was indistinct, her own life bound to the Force so tightly that she seemed inseparable from it. When she drew her hand away, Kavar was reeling, and the world slowly returned to normal, although it now seemed drab and dingy by comparison.

 

Revan took Lei’s hand and pulled her down gently. “C’mon Lei, let’s go. I don’t wanna go back to the Temple.”

 

She winced a little as she stood, and she sat down again promptly. “It still hurts a lot.” Pulling off her right boot, she pulled her foot into her lap and rubbed her obviously swollen ankle. The doleful look on her doll’s face was enough to melt Kavar. Kneeling in front of her, he touched the ankle gently and probed the injury with the Force. The sprain was pretty bad, and he didn’t dare to risk healing it as he would probably do it all wrong and leave her with a permanent limp.

 

“What happened to you?” Kavar’s voice was gentle.

 

“There was this kid, and he wasn’t very nice…”

 

Revan interjected fiercely, “He called her stupid and then pushed her down the slide!”

 

“So, erm, yeah. That’s what happened.” They exchanged meaningful glances, and looked vaguely guilty.

 

“Are you sure that’s all that happened?”

 

“Weeeeell…” she shifted uncomfortably, and avoided Kavar’s sharp blue eyes.

 

“I’m listening.”

 

She exhaled loudly. “Okay, I’ll tell you if you promise not tell anyone. We…lifted him.”

 

“Just a bit,” Revan added, looking not the least bit repentant.

 

“He did scream a lot when we made him do cartwheels in the air though,” she said thoughtfully.

 

Kavar wasn’t really sure that his eyebrows could ascend any further without merging into his hairline.

 

Revan shrugged noncommittally. “I dunno why he screamed so much. It seemed like fun.”

 

“Yeah! Revan, let’s try it! Me first!” she tugged at the boy’s sleeve while wearing such a pleading look that even Vrook—that old fart—would have wavered if that look had been directed at him.

 

“I dunno if I could keep you up, especially since you’d forget to hold yourself up,” he said uncertainly. At least one of them had some sense, Kavar thought wryly.

 

She redirected the aforementioned look at Kavar, but he steeled himself and said sternly, “We’re all going back to the temple now.”

 

Their noisy protests ranged from “Master Vrook is meaaaan” to “There’s nowhere to play hide and seek without getting scolded”, and of course, Lei’s ultimate proclamation that “They don’t have any lime popsicles in the temple!”

 

“And I can’t walk back anyway, so I’m just going to stay here,” she finished triumphantly.

 

Kavar sighed the sigh unique to the long-suffering; a dramatic, drawn-out sigh which sounded thoroughly martyred. “I’m going to carry you back,” he said.

 

“Piggy-back?” she actually sounded hopeful.

 

Rolling his eyes, Kavar crouched in front of her, and she clambered on gleefully. Revan hovered around her, still reluctant to return to the temple, but unwilling to leave her. She seemed to have forgotten all her apprehension about going back, although Kavar was not complaining.

 

He supposed that he would have to read them the riot act about appropriate use of the Force, and began mentally reviewing it. It should only be used to do good, their duty was to protect people, a Jedi should always be in control, there is no emotion, there is…

 

“Ow!”

 

The only reply he received was a muffled giggle and a not-so-muffled snigger.

 

“What was that for?!”

 

“For fun,” Lei said innocently.

 

Kavar sputtered, “Fun?!”

 

“Yeah. Your Padawan braid is so cute. I think it needs to be pulled some more,” and she proceeded to do so.

 

“Don’t—Ow! Stop it, you little scamp!”

 

“We’re not scamps, we’re scoundrels! Right, Revan?”

 

Revan bowed with a flourish, and struck a pose. “Arrr! We be space pirates!”

 

Kavar didn’t bother waiting for Revan, but strode on while muttering to himself. Revan had to run to catch up with them, and when he did, he said to Lei, “You can pull my Padawan braid anytime! Once I get one, anyway.” Punching Kavar on the arm playfully, he grinned at him and said “You should learn to lighten up! Lei will teach you how.”

 

“And to do that, we need lime popsicles! Now now now!”

 

“No!”

 

In unison, they began singing, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream…”

 

To his credit, Kavar did endure it for five full minutes before caving in. “All right! All right! We’ll get some ice-cream.”

 

10 minutes and 3 credits later, they were sitting on a bench and licking their lime popsicles. The looks on their faces bespoke utter bliss, and Kavar had to admit that simply sitting back and enjoying the sour-sweet popsicle was more enjoyable than anything he had done for a long time. Even if the weather was a bit chilly for ice-cream.

 

He hadn’t realized that he had spoken aloud until Lei yanked on his braid gently and said, “Spoilsport!”

 

He batted her hand away and said jokingly, “Hey, if you keep doing that, it’s going to drop off.”

 

“That would be kinda cool.”

 

Horrified blue eyes met serious dark ones, and she nodded empathetically. Revan slung his arm around her, and his smile was that of a person resigned to some awful, inevitable fate. “You get used to it after a while. Sort of.”

 

They finished off their popsicles, and Kavar brought them back to the temple...slowly. The two of them kept stopping to point out things, and their constant commentary was surprisingly amusing.

 

When they finally arrived, he handed them over to Master Vandar, who healed the ankle while Revan peppered him with questions about healing. After that, as Kavar turned to leave, Lei pulled at his sleeve. “Wait, I’ve got something to tell you.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“It’s a secret. Come nearer, I’ll whisper it.”

 

He bent his head close to hers, and she tugged his braid sharply. Revan grabbed her hand and they fled, the sound of their laughter echoing through the marble halls.

 

“I see that you’ve met the little rascals as well.” He turned to see Atris smiling at him. She raised an eyebrow when she saw his face, and asked diplomatically, “Kavar, are you aware that your lips are green?”

 

“No, but I’m not surprised for some reason.”

 

“Your tongue is too.”

 

He grinned and said, “Lime popsicles. Who would have guessed?”

Edited by Bee Hoon
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Blatantly ripped off from Jae's post in the poll thread :p

 

Congratulations for the May contest go to:

 

First place: The Blackest of Angels by ForceFightWMe12, which received 7 votes.

 

Tie for second: He Was My Second Chance by Tysacha, and An Interesting Tale With A Hint of Juma, Please! by Mr_BFA with 4 votes each.

 

Third place: Wake Up by Ztalker with 3 votes.

 

Click here to view the poll.

 

This is the winning story by ForceFightsWMe12. Enjoy! :D

 

Never before could I remember seeing the Temple as empty as it was tonight.

 

The war was over – that much had been verified three months ago, when an armistice was signed – and yet…my spirit wasn’t at rest. Many of the Masters and Knights were as of yet on reassignment – working throughout the galaxy to begin the long road of reconstruction. The Mandalorians had wrought far more damage on the Republic than many would have thought possible, given their numbers and their minority in the face of the grand armada that the Republic had at its disposal, and many planets were left broken and in ruin. But the Jedi were playing their part, helping to restore those planets and reassure the people…but not me. I had been forbidden from leaving Coruscant – from leaving the Temple, even – but I was not given the reason why…and thus the reason for my agitation.

 

It was the third night of my sleeplessness that I found myself wandering the dark, empty halls of the vast headquarters of the Jedi. It was a home, once, to me and to thousands of Padawans and students. But that had changed. Since the beginning of the war, it had become more of a fortress – a stubborn one, an inactive one, but a fortress nonetheless. The Jedi had never full engaged in the war, and so talk of battle plans were rarely ever heard in its desolate halls…but the easy spirit of knowledge and learning had evaporated in the light of our leaving. The students were solemn, the masters grave. Though none of them had lifted a finger towards supporting the front lines, the echoes of war wound constantly through the empty air of these cold, unfeeling corridors…the very stone seemed to glare hatefully at me as I passed through on my restless way, almost as if the building itself was reproving me for doing what I had to do…for defending it, its inhabitants, and everything it stood for. This Temple, this place that was once a sanctuary had forever closed its doors to me. I was no longer the Padawan who had learned in its classrooms. I was a new person, a different Jedi…and an alien.

 

Though every corridor and room I had passed was dark and uninhabited, there ahead of me was a beam of blue-white light streaming out across the flagstones – and it was this beacon that brought me from my revere. A frown furrowed my brow, for it was late – and there was only one person that I could imagine staying up until this hour. And sure enough, it was the Archives that I found myself on the threshold of – and there was a single lone figure sitting at one of the work stations, a curtain of short, dark hair hiding her face from me. My footsteps were silent.

 

“Have you noticed what time it is?”

 

“The sun is just rising on Dantooine. It can be considered a reasonable enough hour to work there, don’t you think?”

 

Ah…of course. Nothing seemed to startle her anymore – she probably knew of my approach long before I had even realized that I was not alone in my insomnia. She didn’t look up from her work – the small stacks of datapads lay at her right, her own personal pad sitting beneath her hand as she took notes both there, and in a portable computer station that was sitting directly before her. Her right hand scratched notes across the screen of her datapad, the curling, elegant script that I knew so well carrying a new jaggedness about it – almost as if the movement of her hands were impatient, as if she weren’t working nearly as quickly as she would have liked. Her left hand held her head, her palm pressed to her temple beneath the sheet of midnight-black locks, the position making it impossible to discern her features from where I stood. But I didn’t need to see her face to know with whom I spoke. Over the many years I’ve spent by her side, I had become so in tune with her presence that regardless of where I was – a few feet away, or in a different system entirely – she was always blip in the back of my mind, a reminder that I could never ignore…not that I would ever want to.

 

“And I’m sure that it’s happy hour on Tattooine as well – but you don’t see me heading out to the cantinas to drink my sorrows away at this hour, do you?” I took the seat across from her, from where I could see the ghost of a smile flicker across her thin lips. Her skin was pale – paler than usual, it seemed, in the blue glow of the computer screen before her and the datapads beside her. It was a rather…eerie sight.

 

“Not that you would be able to, even if you meant to.” she answered. Still she did not look up at me. “How long have they decided to lock you up for?”

 

“I don’t know that you can really call it being ‘locked up’, but…they haven’t given me a definite date. It feels like they’re stalling – deciding to keep me ‘safe and sound’ here until they can figure out what to do with me.”

 

“Until they can figure out what to do with any of us, you mean.” she murmured as she scribbled down another note on her datapad, her eyes scanning the computer screen rather than watching what her hand was doing.

 

“Well, I doubt that they’re going to try and punish the very people that saved the Republic.” I answered, my hands toying gently with the leather band I wore on my left arm, the beads hanging from the straps glowing slightly with the power stored inside. My eyes idly watched the movements of my fingers, though I paid very little true attention. If she wasn’t going to look up at me, then I wouldn’t ask her to. Even so, my eyes flicked up to look at her – even for a second – only to note that the small smile she had borne until now had disappeared. She was typing away at the computer now.

 

“I wouldn’t quite call us saviors just yet.” she answered, her voice low – little more than a whisper. Even with the silence around us – complete, save for the hum of the workstations around us – it was difficult to hear her…a factor that made me wonder whether or not she had meant for me to hear it at all.

 

An uncomfortable silence fell between us. She continued with her work, her eyes careful to avoid even the smallest of flicks up to mine, her hands moving quickly as she diligently went about her work – which, as of yet, was a mystery to me. However, as I watched, the suspicions I had been drawing over the past week or so were beginning to stir themselves. I recognized this pattern of behavior, a detail that had my stomach sitting uneasily. Sure enough, as she shifted the pile of datapads to pick out another, one slid off the top of the pile and clattered to the table top before me. The data entry accessed was one of a starchart.

 

For the first time since I’d entered the room, her dark blue eyes flashed up to meet mine – and even through the glare of the light that reflected off the lenses of her square-rimmed glasses, I could see that her look was not an entirely kind one. She quickly launched forward out of her chair to snatch the datapad away from me – though I could tell from the look in her eyes that she knew it was already too late. She knew that I had seen the contents of the datapad, and that I had drawn my own conclusions about the subject of her research. Even so, she said nothing…and for several moments, neither did I.

 

She returned to her work as if nothing had happened to disrupt it, and I leaned back in my chair, steepling my fingers. I looked at her, my brown eyes studying her features. For several long minutes, the silence overwhelmed us…and then, compelled by the new tension that electrified the air, I broke it with a question. “You’re leaving again, aren’t you?”

 

The rhythmic tapping of the keys stopped as her hands paused their typing. Her eyes didn’t move…and neither did her lips. She stared straight ahead…but I could see that she wasn’t watching the screen, or reading anything she had written. Her eyes were empty and hollow…almost as if she were trying to decide how to respond. Finally, her words came. “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And she went right on typing.

 

Her indifference sparked a flare in me – though what emotion it was exactly, I had know idea. I pushed myself out of my seat, no longer able to sit still. I paced away from her. “Don’t give me that – I’m not a fool.” I answered, and though my voice was flat, there was no anger in it. “You’re not eating, you’re barely sleeping – I hardly see hide nor hair of you all day, and when I do, you’re here, lost amongst your datapads and holobooks!” I turned to face her, my body waking up more and more every second. I had been in a fog up until then – but now, I felt as if I were once again aboard one of the flagships, preparing for a battle that I was standing right on the edge of. My senses heightened, my muscles warmed. “Don’t think that I don’t recognize it – you were the exact same way on Dantooine, before you left for the Wars! You did your research then, too. You became distant, unwell – and yet, the same fire lights your eyes now as it did then!”

 

Her eyes were carefully directed at the screen all during the time that I spoke, her work continuing on as if she didn’t hear me…but at these last words, she stopped and looked up. Her gaze was softer now than it had been a moment ago. It beckoned me closer, regardless of whether she meant it to or not, and I was powerless to resist. Slowly, I began to return to her side.

 

“My job isn’t done.” she answered, her voice quiet and faint as it had been before. Her voice was like a lullaby to me, her gaze a sedative – and even as my spirit settled itself, I cursed her for the effect she had on me…had always had on me. “The might be over, and the Mandalorians might no longer be a real threat – but there is more sitting on the horizon, and I fear that the Republic – weak as it is – won’t be able to stop it.”

 

I frowned as I looked at her, uncertain of what she meant. “More? More like what?”

 

She shook her head, and averted her eyes from me once more. “I can’t be certain. There’s just…a hunch, call it, I don’t know. It’s like…every time I cast my senses out to the edges of the galaxy, it’s as if there’s a cloud, a fog that I can’t see past – and I don’t like it. I’ve never felt it before now, and it has me at ease.”

 

“And what do you plan to do about it?” I asked, the words coming out hotly – perhaps a bit harsher than I had intended. I stood directly beside her now. “Go out and fight it by yourself? Explore the Outer Rim and beyond for its source on your own?”

 

“Of course not.” she answered, her voice turning sharp in response to my tone. She turned and began typing again.

 

“Then what?”

 

“The Republic needs to be defended.”

 

“And just how do you think you’re going to do that? The fleet is still suffering – we have no army left! The Jedi have already shown that they won’t support another war. The economy is struggling – there’s no money left to spend on defenses that seems pointless to create now!”

 

Silence…and then, “We both know that there’s another way to raise an army, Azrael.”

 

I was immobilized for a second, her words catching me off guard. However, the meaning of what she said was hardly lost upon me. “No.”

 

“You know that it’s the only way—”

 

“No! No, no, no!” I paced away a moment, my jaw set, fingers clenched into fists. Finally, I turned on her. “You know why the Star Forge has been erased from the records! You know why no one is supposed to know of its existence! It’s power—”

 

“Could mean the difference between the life and death of the Republic!” she stood from her chair, crossing to where I stood. Though her words were assertive, her face was gentle, touch soothing. She set her hands gently on my upper arms, the warmth of her skin tangible through the thin fabric. “You have to understand that what I sense is no ignorable thing! It’s true that I don’t know what it is, and it’s true that I can’t be certain what it means – but I can’t just sit around and wait until this new enemy decides to show itself!”

 

“How do you know that there even is an enemy??” I asked sharply in return. “I sense nothing, the Masters sense nothing – how can you be sure that you aren’t just—” I bit my tongue, cutting my sentence short. It didn’t matter – she knew what words were waiting on my lips.

 

“That I’m what? Not just dreaming again?” Her voice was a snarl now; her small fingers tightened around my arms. “The Jedi Masters are blind! They were blind to the threat of the Mandalorians, and they’ll be blind to this one too! Until it’s too late – because once this enemy decides to strike, there will be no defenses left for the Republic! You said it yourself! The Fleet is devastated, our defenses crushed because of the Wars! It wouldn’t take much for an enemy of the Republic to come sweeping in and finish what the Mandalorians started!”

 

“Then we’ll find a way to rebuild! We’ll find defenses somewhere! But the Star Forge is not the answer!”

 

“And why not?? It can save us—”

 

“It will destroy you, Revan.”

 

“You don’t honestly think me that weak, do you?”

 

I stood silently for several seconds, my hard glare matching hers unwaveringly. “The Republic won’t believe you.”

 

“Then let them rebuke me.”

 

“The Jedi won’t approve.”

 

“Then let them reprove me.”

 

“Your followers will think you mad.”

 

“Then let them wonder about me. I am not afraid, Azrael – I know full well the path that lies ahead of me. But I am not without allies.”

 

I pushed her away, breaking her hold on me. “What allies?? The Republic will think you’re a traitor if you abandon them now! If the Jedi learn of your destination, you’ll be ostracized, cast out – exiled!

 

“I have single-handedly saved the Republic – and I did it without the Jedi’s approval!” her voice was raising with every word she spoke. True anger burned in her eyes now as she glared at me. “Do you honestly think that I’m worried of what the public will think?? I’ve been a poster-girl long enough for blind fools that know not what stands ten feet ahead of their vision! If the good of the Republic rests solely on my shoulders, then I will not be the one to shrug it off!!”

“You’re willing to give up everything you’ve worked for until now??” I shouted right back, my fists shaking as I tried to calm myself – unsuccessfully, of course. “The work that’s claimed thousands of lives – millions, even! Your friends, your followers – men and women who followed faithfully in your wake, thinking you would lead them to a victory for the greater good, even if it meant giving their lives – you’re just going to throw it all away because of some hunch?

 

“If I don’t act, then all of that is forfeit anyway.”

 

“And your life? You do realize that your enemies still live – that they still plot for your death, every minute of the day? If they learn you are traveling alone—”

 

“I have risked life and limb far more times than I can count and have come out on top.”

 

“Then what of your soul?” The words hung in the air like the toll of a bell, the deep tones reverberating in both of our ears with a feeling of such foreboding that it took me a moment to continue what I was saying. “You know just as well as I do that the Star Forge is a place of great evil – you know of the legends! It’s devoured more souls than any other object of the Dark Side. If you go, you risk losing yourself!”

 

Silence again as we stared each other down across the empty space of the few feet that separated us. I prayed silently to myself that she would listen – oh, for the love of the Force, please let her listen! – but as the minutes grew longer, I knew that my prayers would go unanswered. Her eyes were defiant. There was no gentleness left…I could tell that what had grown between us was shattered now – there was no kindness, no attachment, no affection in those eyes now. I was one of them – I was against her…an enemy.

 

“If it is the price for the future of the Republic…” she said slowly, her voice low and dangerous, “Then so be it.”

 

I gritted my teeth, shaking my head violently. My eyes closed, my head hung...for I knew that I was defeated. But there was still one chance left – and despite my growing surety of her answer, I couldn’t stop myself from trying. “I won’t go with you.”

 

“I never asked you to.”

 

And there it was. The final blade through the heart. I opened my eyes to look at her, my eyes hard as I fought all emotion out from them. Even so, I could feel tears burning to escape me. I couldn’t turn back now – there was only one thing for it. I had to turn around. I had to leave her. But…there was only one question repeating in my mind. Am I strong enough?

 

“In that case…” I said, my voice low and words slow. “I wish you luck on your endeavors.” She said nothing in response. Slowly, so achingly slowly, I turned around…and left the woman I loved behind.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

I watched him go, more pain in my heart than ever before. I was surprised that he had actually left me…and I was even more surprised at myself. Did I really just watch him walk away? Did I really…did I really just let him walk out of my life…forever?

 

But…no. I couldn’t dwell on that now. I lied to myself, saying that he would come around, he would change his mind…anything to stop myself from realizing that he really wouldn’t be coming with me this time. My research was finally nearing its completion, my plans were falling into place – there were only five more pieces of data left for me to collect, and it was data that even the Jedi did not hold. With slow movements, I pulled my glasses from the bridge of my nose and stored them away, loading the files onto my datapad and storing that away as well. I didn’t bother to clean up the other datapads – I merely wiped the workstation clean of any memory of my research and any searches I had run before turning my attentions to the future.

 

The arrangements were made. I could leave tonight – I could leave that very minute…and in the growing darkness, I knew that I would have to. My fingers closed over the thin sheet of metal that had been sitting at my right hand side…and as I lifted it, I stared into the face that had been mine for the past several years. There was a feeling of darkness as I looked upon it now, a sense of doom that echoed through the darkness around me…but this symbol was mine – it had become my identity. And now, it would be mine again.

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The winners for June '08 are Tysyacha for Recollection: They Deserve to be Alive and Ztalker for The Beauty and the Wookie, both with 2 votes each!

 

Second place goes to Flamehart and Writer for their collaboration on The Little Wooden Memory Box, which received 1 vote.

 

The poll is right here.

 

Once again, I will not post the winning entries as there are two, but click on those links! :p

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Congratulations to True_Avery for winning July-August's competition's for Two Roads! The entry received 9 votes.

 

In second place is Bee Hoon for The Missing Number, which received 8 votes.

 

igyman came in third with 7 votes for Insomnia.

 

The poll can be viewed here.

 

And here is the winning entry. Knock yours socks off!

 

Two Roads

 

revan1fj2.jpg

 

It was an odd feeling of disarray… Like someone was randomly hitting pieces of a musical instrument. The music being created was truly nauseating. A mind that was usually so organized; Usually so pin point accurate and hitting the mark whenever possible was now spewing forth chaos into ever part of her body. It gave her a huge migraine.

 

There she stood; the former Dark Lord of the Sith. The former savior of the republic… twice. So many formers, yet seemingly no present to anchor themselves upon. Who was she? Was she Revan, the Dark Lord of the Sith? Was she Revan, the High Admiral of the Republic fleet? Was she Revan, the savior of the republic? Or were they all one in the same, the person she was staring at in the reflection being the only inconsistency.

 

In the mirror that inconsistency stared right back at her as she stood there, leaning against the sink in the small apartment bathroom. It was cold, and had the damp feeling in the air that only a bathroom can. But, to be fair, the shower had been running for a few minutes now. She just had not bothered going in at all. The steam was starting to fog up the glass, and she could not help but compare that ever closing window of clear glass to her own current feelings.

 

She stood there as the calming sound of running water helped her concentrate. As the minutes passed, the glass fogged up and her casual robes dampened. She had the urge to wipe the mirror clean, but did not want to look at herself anymore. There was nothing to look at but a shell with too many people trying to claim it as their own.

 

She had finally put herself into a corner. Finally lost her balance; forced to decide which side of the wall to fall on. She had dodged the issue for so long that it was no surprise to her that it all came back to haunt her one last time. There was no room to be frustrated anymore. No room for anything else but choice.

 

A choice between life, and lives. A choice between the subjective, and the attempted objective. She could be selfish, or she could be selfish. There were no other choices anymore.

 

She could not help but be angry at her own incompetence.

 

Problem after problem had come before her many forms many times. Revan would know what to do. Revan would have already done something… Revan would have never let this happen. She knew that. But, she still did not know is she really was Revan or not. As far as she could tell, she was simply Avery. Or, so she thought before she found out her memories, beliefs, and everything she was doing was a front for something bigger than her.

 

Revan was coming back. Revan was taking over again, and she did not know if she was losing or not. From the memories that were slowly trickling back, another part of her was waking up. She was rubbing her eyes and wondering why someone else was in her own body. Revan was talking to her… whispering to her in her sleep.

 

But, there can only be one at the top. On one side of the wall was Revan, and everything she had done and was planning to do. Then there was her side. The side that wanted to ignore the other side and move on. One side was naïve, and the other was cynical. That was the choice, and she was going to have to make it tonight.

 

She backed away from the sink and the fogged mirror to rest against the metal wall, lost in thought. Her hand moved down to rest on her belly, reaching out with the Force to feel the choice she was trying to make. The mistake, or gift that had been presented to her. The fork in the road, each leading to a different life. She knew that once she made the choice, there would never be a point of return. It was just one of those choices in life…

 

Her mind started to wander into different places. She wondered if her mother ever felt this way; backed against the wall, forced to make a choice. Is that the thought a mother is supposed to have about this? If they do not, have they already made the choice? By even seeing the crossroad, had she made up her mind anyway? Maybe she had. Maybe now she was just stalling.

 

It was an all or nothing choice. She had known that from the first time she had lain down with him. On hindsight, it was an incredibly stupid thing to do. She had already known what had to be done, but she selfishly ran through doors like a child. Revan would not of had this problem.

 

As she held her belly, the Force told her no lies. She felt her own life force, but mingled with it something else. ..

 

Very small.

Very faint.

Very helpless.

 

Couldn’t she just break the wall and have both sides? Did she not deserve that? She wished she did, but knew she did not. The decision had already been made, but she did not want to accept it. The air was getting warmer and damper, her long black hair being weighed down by the accumulating water vapor. She wanted to let the weight pull her down to the floor. She wanted to lay down and open up.

 

Shouldn’t she be crying right now? She wondered that. No tears fell down her face. No desire to throw herself down and bawl presented itself. It was as if her logic, emotions, opinions, and every other part of herself had already made the decision a long time ago, but a lasting desire was keeping her… down.

 

Maternal. Female. Woman. Girl.

 

In the midsts of it all… After all she had gone through… After all that Revan had gone through… She was still female. That was the part of her that was fighting back against all the logic and emotions that were presenting themselves. It was an irrational feeling that felt that it could transcend every part of her. It desperately wanted to win, but was too blind to realize that it had already lost.

 

Nearly an hour had past, and soon her window of opportunity would close. The choice was now fully before her and would be made regardless of any illusion of free will. Which life to take? She knew it was a foolish question to ask. She knew what she had done… what Revan had done during the wars. The lives that had been taken, given, sacrificed in the name of the goal. She knew herself and what she had done, and already knew what to do.

 

“I’m sorry,” She said to the empty room, “You have to go now… I have to go now. Neither you, nor I deserve to be here any longer.”

 

She reached out with the Force and touched the choice that was in her. She reached into emotions to grasp that man’s face and everything attached to it. She reached in and grasped the chains to the only person that could do the right thing. She gripped herself one last time and knew that it was time to go…

 

She grasped them, closed her eyes… then crushed all within her grasp. In one moment she knew she had made her choice. In one moment she knew this life she had tried to manufacture for herself was over. It was never her place to find love. It was never her place to care for a life. Her place was separate from the world of others. She knew it was her duty to do more and to grasp more than her own selfish thoughts.

 

fistlh9.jpg

 

It was over. The choice had been made, and that life was lost. There was no going back.

 

She pulled her hand away from her belly and walked forward, staring at the foggy mirror. She reached a hand up and wiped the water off, seeing her own reflection staring back at her. It was odd that one moment was enough for her to look back at herself and know it was her. To know that she was in control again.

 

She snapped her fingers and the shower stopped, the door to the bathroom opening as well as she walked back into the empty apartment. It was dark, but she could see well enough to made her way to a cheap desk. She opened it up, pulled out a small piece of paper and pen, and wrote one word. She stared at it for a moment, letting the word flow through her. She turned and placed the note on the bed, then grabbed a communicator that had been sitting on her discarded robe. She chose the com channels of her crew, but left out two people in her message:

 

“Pack your things and meet me on the Ebon Hawk in an hour. We are leaving,” She stated, then turned the communicator off.

 

An hour later, she walked, fully robed, through the doors of the hanger bay. Before her was the Ebon Hawk, sitting in a bask of white-blue light. Her crew stood by the lowered ramp, looking at her anxiously as she approached.

 

“Get on. We’re leaving.” Revan said simply, walking past them without a glance up the ramp and into her ship.

 

She could hear their questions, but ignored them. She headed down the dark corridors of the Hawk to end up at the cockpit, sitting down in the pilot seat and switching buttons on to prepare for departure. She could hear someone hurrying down the corridor to her as she prepared the ship.

 

“Avery, Bastila and Carth aren’t here yet!” Mission exclaimed, running through the doorway into the cockpit.

 

“I know.” Revan replied, switching more buttons on as the Engines hummed to life.

 

“You… You know?” Mission asked slowly. “Then why are we leaving without them?”

 

“Because I cannot take them were I am going.” Revan replied.

 

Mission paused for a moment before continuing. “And… where are you going?” She questioned.

 

“Where do you want to go?” Revan asked, looking over the computer screens in front of her.

 

Mission thought his over for a moment. “Where… What do you mean?”

 

“Where do you want to go?” Revan asked again, pressing a few buttons to open up the Navi-computer by her seat.

 

“I don’t-” Mission started.

 

“I am asking you where you want me to drop you off, because you cannot come with me either.” Revan said sternly.

 

“I want to stay here! With you, Carth, Bastila, Big-Z and everyone else!” Mission said, her temper flaring.

 

“I am not an option in this situation. Make your choice, or I’ll make it for you.” Revan said coldly, the Engine’s now at a ready hum.

 

Mission tried to talk, but was too surprised to pull the words up. “You… you don’t want me here anymore? Ave… what happened? Do you want to talk?”

 

Revan paused, leaning back in the pilot chair to look out at the Coruscant cityscape before her. “I had a choice, and I made my decision. Now I have to go.”

 

“What… choice?” Mission asked nervously.

 

“Avery, or Revan.” Revan replied simply.

 

Mission stepped backwards a few steps, the answer causing her heart to beat faster. “You… you chose Revan?”

 

“Of course I did.” Revan answered.

 

Missions voice faltered as she tried to find words to describe what she was feeling. “But… Carth. And Malak! And everything we did!” She seemed to be torn between frustration and anger. “You can’t just-”

 

The ship jerked as Revan pulled on the stick, causing the Hawk to slowly rise in the air. “I’m not in the mood right now, Mission. Make you choice, or get the hell out of my face.” Revan said with almost no emotion as the ship sped out of the hanger bay.

 

“You… you can’t… Carth and Bastila are-!” Mission beggd.

 

“I said tell me where you want to go or get the hell out of my face, Mission.” Revan replied said coldly.

 

Mission stared at her friend for a moment. “Ave… what happened?” Mission asked in earnest.

 

Revan did not say anything as the ship sped up into the sky. Within minutes, the stars of Space could be seen in all directions, the sound of the engines dying to a low hum as the Hawk soared into open space. Mission stayed in the doorway the whole time, however.

 

“Ave…” Mission spoke up again.

 

“I had to make a choice, Mission. I had to.“ Revan started “I had to choose between two different lives, but in the end there was only one option…” She paused again to sit back in the pilot chair. “I had to finish what I had started.”

 

“Why?” Mission asked, stepping back into the cockpit.

 

“Because the wheels were already turning. Because I had sacrificed billions of lives to get where I am today, and to get things where they are at this moment.” Revan sighed deeply, moving her hair out of her face with one hand. “Because Revan is not only a person… She is a plan. An ideal. She is an ideal that needed billions of lives to succeed, and it would be an incredible insult to every single one of them if Revan were to not finish what she had started.”

 

Mission was confused for a moment, but allowed it to sink in. “And… what is that?”

 

“Exactly what I’ve been doing all along… and all alone.” Revan said. She did not say to leave, but there was a finality in her tone that told Mission that she would get nothing more out of her. Revan did not hear Mission leave, but knew she had. She knew she was alone again, and that there was no going back.

 

She was silent for a long time.

 

She knew what she had done. She knew what she had to do. What she did not know was…

 

Why she couldn’t stop crying.

 

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Carth opened up door to the dark apartment. He looked around and called for Revan’s name, but to no reply. He reached to switch on the light, but then something caught his eye. He walked over to the bed and picked up the single, small piece of paper that had been left behind. He read the single word and knew what had happened…

 

fingersfa9.jpg

 

“Goodbye”

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Inyri wins September's contest with 10 votes for You're Only Young Twice!

 

Sabretooth is in second place with 5 votes for Centrifuge!

 

Writer takes third place with 3 votes for Eagle's First Flight!

 

Here is the poll.

 

The winning entry as it appears in the original thread:

 

It was a quiet day. As quiet as Coruscant ever got. Ships carrying all sorts of cargo went about their business, delivering a variety of goods. One shuttle was carrying particularly precious cargo. It was carrying children.

The shuttle had seen more of the galaxy than the majority of its occupants, having traveled from the core worlds to the outer rim and back again. It had but one purpose: to gather Force sensitive children and bring them to Coruscant to be trained in the ways of the Jedi.

On this trip the shuttle was filled to the brim with promising young children, some as young as three with the oldest barely reaching eight. Two little girls near the middle of the shuttle did their best to hide themselves from prying eyes.

"I want to go home," the first little girl whined, her arms wrapped around her shins. She buried her face behind her legs.

"Me too," the other girl agreed, much more composed than her sister, "but Momma said we're going some place better."

"Mommy and Daddy don't want us anymore," the first girl muttered, squeezing out a few tears for emphasis.

The conversation was cut short as the shuttle broke through Coruscant's upper atmosphere. The two girls clutched each other tightly as the shuttle lurched from side to side. With one last clank it came to a halt, now resting safely on the hangar floor.

"Alright boys and girls," said a very young and very eager Jedi, "we have arrived at your new home."

"Let's hide," the first girl suggested. "Maybe they'll take us back."

"Don't be silly," her sister said, getting up and walking toward the Jedi. After a moment of indecision the little girl decided she had no interest in being a Jedi. As the other children filed out of the shuttle she found a conveniently placed bulkhead and ducked behind it, hoping no one would notice her absence. The shuttle was sure to return to her homeworld and then she could go home!

Finally the shuttle was empty. The little girl poked her head out from behind the bulkhead.

"Are you hiding, little one?" asked a man's voice. The girl retreated back behind the bulkhead. "Do not be afraid."

"I want to go home," she said stubbornly, on the verge of tears.

"I understand your fear, young one, but you mustn't hide," the voice replied. "Please come out."

Young as she was, the little girl realized she could not go home. She timidly stepped out from the shadows to face the voice. It was that of a young Twi'lek man in Jedi robes. With him was another Jedi. The Twi'lek's voice was soothing and she felt better in his presence.

"What is your name?" the Twi'lek asked, kneeling down in front of her.

"Kay," she replied softly.

"I am pleased to meet you, Kay," he said to her with a warm smile. "My name is Zhar."

"Kay, why did you hide?" the other little girl asked from behind the two Jedi.

"I was scared!" Kay exclaimed, running toward her sister and gripping her arm tightly. "Don't leave me again!"

"Hmm, sisters," Zhar mused to his companion. "Twins, no less."

"Should we separate them?"

"I believe they are too old now to be torn apart," Zhar replied, deep in thought. "They will be stronger together."

"Are you sure?" the other Jedi asked, frowning slightly. "The Jedi teachings clearly state-"

"Exceptions can be made," Zhar told him, waving his hand dismissively. "I sense these two will be strong in the Force, much moreso together than apart."

Zhar watched as the two girls followed the rest of the children, hand in hand. They had a long journey ahead, but they had already taken their first steps in the Force. Together.

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Once again, Tysyacha claims victory with Starship of Fools, which received 9 votes.

 

Coming in second is Sabretooth with six votes for No Rules for Gods.

 

Third place is a tie between three participants: Rift by Endorenna, A Graceful Exit by Inyri and In The Head by Bee Hoon.

 

The poll is not here. It is there! :p

 

And here comes the winning entry!

 

 

"There she is, Padawans! The Bismuth Beam. Isn't she marvelous?" Master Zhar Lestin gestured proudly toward the Jedi Order's latest stealth fighter, as sleek as a kath hound's fur and as fast as the onset of a Hutt's intestinal difficulties! Indeed, she was the grandest vessel that Padawans Danae, Krulin, Antah, and Gruuntzi (technically not a Padawan, being a reformed Gamorrean guard who now worked for the Jedi Enclave) had ever seen. They looked at the ship, then at each other, and--!

 

Master Zhar furrowed his slick Twi-lek eyebrow. "Don't even think about it," he said. "I can tell what all of you are pondering through the Force. This vessel is meant for covert operations, not freewheeling joyrides. If any of you even attempt what I strongly suspect you are going to, then you will face severe punishment. That ought to be enough to dissuade you, since you are Jedi and not merely members of the common crowd here on Dantooine. Good day, Padawans, and may the Force be with you." Master Zhar gave his students a quick and dismissive nod, leaving them alone with the Bismuth Beam. They all stared, stared some more, and then...

 

"Phfft!" snorted Gruuntzi. "Phfft, phfft, phfft," he said, doing an "armpit solo."

 

"I agree," smiled Krulin, at least as much as a Rodian could smile. "Does Master Zhar not trust us? I find that strange."

 

Padawan Danae rolled her eyes and laughed ruefully at her three comrades. "I don't," she said. "This is a very important ship, you know, and I know that all of us were thinking of taking it for the exact same kind of joyride he mentioned. Let's not break the rules, friends--I hate cleaning refreshers."

 

"Come on!" laughed Padawan Antah, who was the best "crack pilot" out of all the lower-ranking Jedi in the Order. "I've been dying to take this thing for a spin ever since I saw it about sixty seconds ago. Are we men--and aliens," she added quickly, nodding towards Krulin and Gruuntzi--"or are we gizka? If we don't take this chance, we'll regret it for the rest of our lives!"

 

"If we take this chance, we'll regret it for the rest of our lives," said Danae.

 

Padawan Antah grinned. "Last one in is a pile of bantha dung!" she cried, and the four of them scrambled aboard the Bismuth Beam as fast as their scrawny little legs (and not-so-scrawny-little legs in Gruuntzi's case) could carry them. Once aboard, they all fastened their safety harnesses with the hurried glee of small children, and then Padawan Antah counted down. With a blazing whooosshh of fire, oxygen, and Force energy, the Bismuth Beam launched into the air with the speed of a podracer!

 

"Oh, Force!" cried Padawan Krulin, holding his scaly hands tightly over his quivering mouth. "Could you please not do that, Padawan Antah? I just ate not too long ago." Padawan Antah, either not hearing Krulin or not wanting to hear him, winked and turned the fighter's stealth systems on. She then proceeded to do approximately ten consecutive barrel rolls in the air over the lush and rolling hills of Dantooine. Padawan Krulin also had something "lush and rolling" at the moment, too--his sensitive stomach, which proceeded to relieve itself of its mushy green insectoid contents.

 

"Ewww!" cried Padawan Antah, revolted and delighted all at once. "Can't you learn to wait an hour, at least, before going on a starship after eating?" She howled with laughter, and Padawan Krulin groaned with pain. Danae, being the kindest and most compassionate one out of the unruly bunch, sent waves of stability and healing through the Force. Krulin nodded, relieved.

 

"Now that that particular mess is all over," Padawan Antah said even though it was all over the ship--"where's our first stop?"

 

Gruuntzi suggested the nearest cantina, which everyone thought was a great idea except for Krulin, who was in the mood for neither food nor liquor at the moment. Nevertheless, he was promptly outvoted by Antah and Gruuntzi. Danae still had her reservations, warning everyone that "Jedi do not fall prey to the excesses of drunkenness," but after a retort from Padawan Antah that she, Danae, didn't have to get drunk, Danae relented, feeling a bit peckish at the moment despite the green stuff she still "pecked" at on her tunic. They selected Kunterbunter's, the wildest cantina on all of Dantooine!

 

"That place?" asked Padawan Danae, raising her own eyebrow in much the same manner as Master Zhar had, but again, she was promptly outvoted. The Force works in mysterious ways, she thought to herself, and perhaps this is my chance to show my friends the error of their ways! That plan was quickly shoved by the wayside once the three Jedi Padawans and one Jedi Enclave guard heard the grand prize for Kunterbunter's Klugging Kontest: one thousand credits for the one who could drink the most liquor! Gruuntzi beat his chest, grunting with virile pride, and proceeded to climb the bar counter. The other three politely asked for shots of juma juice, wanting to let their Gamorrean friend "give it all he had"! The crowd chanted:

 

"Klug! Klug! Klug! Klug! Klug!" Gruuntzi, thinking this was child's play, polished off at least fifty consecutive mugs of Kunterbunter's hardest distilled spirits on top of disgusting shots of liqueur, ale and juma juice combined! When he had finished, the Gamorrean guard let out the biggest, loudest belch that anyone at the cantina had ever heard. The crowd, after they had finished holding their noses when the smell of Gamorrean liquor breath dissipated, cheered and hoisted Gruuntzi up into the air on their biggest barstool (it took almost the whole crowd to balance him up there, too!)

 

Needless to say, Gruuntzi got the thousand credits, and now it was time for the next event of the evening, sponsored by Padawan Krulin in higher spirits. His favorite hobby (when he was allowed to pursue a hobby at the Enclave) was drawing--specifically naughty sketches and caricatures lampooning everyone and everything on Dantooine. Thus, he bought some cans of red lacquer from a cheap-sundries store along with four massive paintbrushes.

 

"It's time to make this town BEAUTIFUL!", he cried, raising his can and brush high. "Paint away, my Jedi comrades! Let's let Dantooine know how great we are!" Energized by the laughter and liquor (after all, they'd all had some at Kunterbunter's, not just Gruuntzi), Antah, Gruuntzi himself, Krulin, and Danae smiled and proceeded to do just that--paint. They painted brick walls, cracked walls, sidewalks, fences, trees, bushes, windows-- anything that they possibly could, decorating it with slogans of "JEDI RULE!" and "SITH STINK!" When they were finished, they threw their empty cans of lacquer into some more bushes, splattering them, with the brushes following behind. Then they laughed and laughed until they feared their sides would split!

 

Now it was Padawan Antah's turn to have some fun, at Danae's expense:

 

"Hey!" Antah cried, pointing at a space slug in the distance surrounded by several flunkies. "I dare you to dance for him."

 

Danae couldn't believe it. "Krogga the Hutt?" She almost fainted!

 

"I'll give you five hundred credits to do it," said Antah, winking. "I've been saving up for a luxury trip to Ahto City on Manaan, but watching this will be even better than watching the Selkath try to get a tan! Come on, Danae."

 

"Oh, all right," grumbled the stalwart Padawan and approached Krogga.

 

"No, no, no!" cried Antah, waving up some flimsy garment that looked like it was made out of flimsi writing material. "Not in your Jedi robe--this!" Danae looked like she was about ready to kill her fellow Padawan, but then the expression on her face shifted abruptly--from fury to wry humor. Danae ducked behind the nearest wall of an abandoned building, changed clothes, and emerged to the stares of Krogga the Hutt's flunkies, who pointed eagerly. Emboldened (and enliquored), Padawan Danae threw herself into a whirling, twirling dance, making sure to show off all the features of her human female anatomy for Krogga the Hutt to see. When she was done, she found a small crowd had gathered, and not just the flunkies belonging to the "space slug". Credits came flying Danae's way, and she found she'd earned close to the five hundred that Antah had promised her for fulfilling the dare. Danae grinned. "Pay up," she told Antah, and Antah groaned and grimaced. The latter Padawan had expected Danae to dance, but not at all like that!

 

"Let's go, guys," grumbled Antah. "We don't want to make Master Zhar any more suspicious than he already is!" Nodding, the other three followed her toward the Bismuth Beam and climbed aboard, trying to clean all the insect vomit off of their seats first. Dejected, the four ejected themselves right out into the middle of the Jedi Enclave--and Master Zhar's stare!

 

Blah-blah I should kick you all out of the Jedi Order blah-blah. Blah, blah decency, blah, blah honor, blah, blah you've all completely disgraced yourselves. Then blah, blah, what? Second chance? "Katorzhnie raboty," said Master Zhar to the four.

 

"Katorzhnie raboty?" they all cried. "What the kriff is tha-a-aaat?"

 

Gruuntzi had to give up his thousand credits that he'd won as the winner of Kunterbunter's Klugging Kontest to the Jedi Order as a charitable donation. Not only that, but he also had to spend quite a lot of his unpaid time going to local educational facilities on Dantooine and teaching the young children there about the dangers and repercussions of Klugging as much as he had.

 

Krulin had to take up gallons upon gallons of industrial-strength cleaning solvent and scrub all the red lacquer off of all the places he and his three friends had defiled with it, since Krulin himself was the originator of that particular brilliant idea. It took him forty-two days to get it all off! Not only that, but he also had to go to the educational facilities with Gruuntzi and tell the little children about the public nuisance and disgrace graffiti presented.

 

Danae, the daring dancer, had to surrender the thousand credits she'd earned from Krogga the Hutt and the gathering crowd that had come to watch her perform. Another charitable donation! Her job was to launder all the Jedi garments of the Enclave for as long as it took Krulin to scour off all the graffiti in town. For forty-two days, she washed Jedi unmentionables! She also went to the educational facilities and talked to hormone-ridden teenagers about modesty, abstinence, chastity, and the need for all three.

 

As for Antah: she did not get to take that luxury trip to Ahto City on Manaan. Instead, during her vacation time, she was set to washing and polishing not only the vessels of the Jedi Order, but the Dantooine and Coruscanti military as well. Master Zhar thought that her "unorthodox" piloting of the Bismuth Beam deserved remediation as well, so she was sent to the beginning of piloting class and made to take her training over! Playing with fake pilot controls wasn't exactly Antah's idea of a good time.

 

Katorzhnie raboty. Hard labor--that's what you get for breaking rules! :)

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  • 1 month later...

November '08 Decisions has the Winner of CommanderQ's In the end

 

Second place goes to Mr_BFA's Death of the Force

 

Third goes to Chevron 7 locke for The Choices we Make

 

Poll Results here

 

 

Here is the winning entry:

 

Prison 19

Kessel Asteroid System

Five Years before the Battle of Yavin

0300

 

 

"Ready, Aim, FIRE!" Said the Chief Guardsman as he waved the firing squad to execute the prisoner lined up against the bloodstained wall.

 

The squad fired, and the prisoner twitched with the impact. He then slowly crumpled to the ground, leaving four red marks on the wall behind him.

 

The Chief Guardsman did an about face and looked at the large prison in front of him.

 

"Let's grab the next inmate and complete their sentences."

 

The group of heavily armed guardsman walked into the prison, looking for the next "Death Row" victim.

 

The prison was filled with the sounds of fear, agony, and anger as the guardsman walked down the prison corridors. Amongst the chaos, though, a lone middle-aged inmate, remained silent in his cell. The shadow of his cell's bars spread shadows over his face.

 

Why did you do what you did? the man thought.

 

He countered it with, You needed the money, you took the goods and you left. I was trying to survive...

 

The man hung his head in shame, Do I have anything to leave behind that is worth remembering? Besides the shame of what has happened?

 

Suddenly, the man in the next cell broke the lonely man out of his trance.

 

"Hey, you! Do you want your bread, cuz' I'm hungry and you ain't eating."

 

The man nodded and gave the plate to the man on the other side of the bars.

 

The other man took it greedily, "So, uh, you look kinda' like your thinkin' too hard? You need some fellow inmate council? By the way, the names Jeb."

 

The man nodded again, "Hello Jeb, I'm simply contemplating the future and the past of my life, what drove me here."

 

Jeb shrugged, "What's teh' think about? You're here, that's where you are, now make the most of it. I've been here long enough to think."

 

Jeb gestured to his graying hair and slightly wrinkeled face, he still looked like he belonged on some dark street in Nar Shadaa.

 

The man smiled, "I fear that my sentence will not be as long as yours my friend."

 

Jeb sat back on his bunk and groaned a bit, "Well, ifit makes you feel an' better, then I'll compare you to the one of the BEST crime lords in the history of crime: Gelikor Straku."

 

The man smiled, "I'm familiar with Gelikor."

 

Jeb continued, "Gelikor had NO heart, he was simply a cold, calculating, effecient criminal. You know what happens when you get all those pretty words with one criminal, you get trouble."

 

The man spoke again, "No, he had a heart, it's just a matter of how he used it, what made him what he was, in that way alone was he heartless."

 

Jeb rolled his eyes, "What are you? Some sorta' wise guy?"

 

The man turned his head slowly away from Jeb, "You could say that, at least wise in my own way. My question is, what did I leave behind me that was worthwhile, what made life worth living the way I did."

 

Jeb snorted, "Well, friend, I've got to eat this bread, have fun thinkin'."

 

The man sat alone, tortured by his thoughts of why?

 

I was trying to survive when that happened, when I did the first crime, when I was at my lowest...I cracked, thought the man, I should've known that by taking the path that I took to survive, I doomed myself to a path of self-destruction.

 

These thoughts churned around and around in his mind, not letting him rest. Suddenly, the Guardsman walked up the corridor again, hauling another unfortunate prisoner. The prisoner gave a good fight, but it was futile and in vain, for there was no more escapes for the prisoner, not here.

 

There was a time when I did what was good, but then, everything fell apart, the world I lived in crumbled under war and suffering. And in a desperate effort to survive, I turned toward what was no longer good. My brother tried to help me, but he couldn't, the Jedi couldn't help me out of my choice of lifestyle, thought the man, He went in the right direction, I didn't...

 

Jeb stirred, "Okay, seeing the look on your "troubled" face, I think you need some help?"

 

The man looked at Jeb, "That would be appreciated, but I think I have come to my own conclusion. Everything that I have done was not well thought about and resulted chaotically in the outside world, I haven't helped anyone. I have left no legacy of good on the galaxy, as is our duty to do so."

 

Jeb sat back down, "So you thought of all that in such a short amount of time, eh? Well, Gelikor never did any thinking neither, like you. You both have ended up in the same pile with the bad guys, I imagine that you didn't want to become these bad guys?"

 

The man nodded, "I guess the reason I did the things I did was to survive, in my own opinion, but it became more then that. Eventually, it engulfed everything good in my life as I used these survival tactics more often. Then it became more like an addiction to the dark side of things."

 

Jeb leaned back into his small chair, staring at the Guardsmen fighting the struggling criminal. "So, have you come to terms with your past, unlike Gelikor the Horrible."

 

"Yes," the man said, "I believe that I have accepted the truth of my actions finally, I feel better, but I have much remorse for my actions. I guess I'll never know the true reason, but I know enough to realize the crime. I thank you, Jeb, for these last words."

 

Jeb looked confused, "Last words? What?"

 

Suddenly, the guardsmen opened the door to the man's cell.

 

The Chief Guardsmen looked victorious as he walked towards the man," Gelikor Straku, your time has come to pay for the crimes of a lifetime."

 

The whole prison went quiet as everyone realized who the man was.

 

Straku stood, "Remember Jeb, that we have only so many choices in our one life, make the right ones, and think, thinking can help you some, but the choice still has to be made. Goodbye."

 

And that began the last walk of one of the last Great Crime Lords of the Galaxy. What was he thinking on that final walk? Could he been thinking of what he left behind, or what he did in the dark times? Or maybe he has come to terms with everything and is preparing for the end? What happened as he left his cell is up to you reader. If you had been in his position what would you have done and thought? Perhaps, though, we have all realized that choices bend one's path to the future, and I'm pretty sure I want to make the right choice. What about you?

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  • 1 month later...

The last topic of 2008 is Secrets of the Holidays, and thus the last winner of the year is Chevron 7 locke with Christmas on the Ebon Hawk.

 

Jedi_Man and LordOfTheFish and tied for second place with their fics History, part 1 and The End of the Beginning respectively.

 

The poll can be found here.

 

Here is the winning entry, enjoy! :)

 

Christmas on the Ebon Hawk

 

 

 

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the Ebon Hawk, the only thing stirring was a mischievous blue twi'lek.

 

Mission Vao was having some of the best fun of her life.

 

At everyone else's expense of course.

 

It was like Carth had once told Revan after one of Mission's practical jokes: while we sleep, the twi'lek has fun at our expense.

 

Revan had simply laughed that little pun off and had gone to bed.

 

She had woken up with a pillow filled with live gizka.

 

Revan had never underestimated Mission Vao after that little stunt.

 

Many others had fallen victim to Mission's various little pranks.

 

After Bastila had used the force to trip her up on Taris, Mission had managed to alter her lightsaber so instead of a yellow blade, it emitted a hot pink blade. The enraged Jedi had tried to switch the color back to yellow for days afterward.

 

Canderous had once commented that they should leave her on Dantooine with the Jedi, He had gone to bed after polishing his beloved heavy repeating rifle, when he had woken up, his beloved gun had vanished from sight. He had eventually found it hidden under the fresher but it had been covered in grease and dirt. The big mandalorian had spent days restoring his beloved gun to its former glory.

 

Carth Onasi had made the mistake of calling her “kid,” he had gone to the fresher, but once he sat down, a sonic grenade had blown the fresher to pieces with Carth still on it. He had charged out of the bathroom covered in water and other less mentionable fluids.

 

Jolee Bindo had once woken up with a blond wig strapped to his head. It had been a strange morning that day; Jolee had chased Mission all over the ship before she managed to escape his notice by hiding in a cargo container.

 

Mission had even managed to get Juhani caught up in her practical jokes, Juhani had insisted that she didn't purr when she was sleeping, one night she had gone to bed and Mission had placed a recording device next to her for the entire night. The next morning, everyone on the ship could hear a strange purring noise over the intercom all day. No matter what they had tried to do, they couldn't shut it off, Juhani's face had turned beet red when she heard her purring over the intercom.

 

Even HK-47 wasn't safe from Mission. HK had insisted that the “annoying little blue meatbag” would never try and get him. The assassin droid powered down for the night and during that time, someone had painted a target on his back with the caption “Meatbag” under the target. To add further insult to injury, Mission had had a little fun with his vocabulater: Whenever HK had tried to threaten her; the only sound that came out was the croaking of a gizka.

 

T3-M4 was the only one she hadn't pranked. It was only a matter of time though...

 

Zaalbar had once woken up with his hair done in curls; this had caused Zaalbar a great deal of frustration as he tried to undo the damage. Finally, the wookie had been forced to resort to cutting off the offending curls.

 

Mission smiled to herself as she snuck through the Ebon Hawk, leaving little surprises for the others to discover when they woke up.

 

 

A few hours later.

Mission Vao went to bed, smiling as she thought of what was going to happen when the crew opened their gifts tomorrow morning.

 

 

Christmas day:

The majority of the crew was in the main hold tearing open their various gifts as Mission walked into the room. She could see that none of the gifts that she gotten the crew had been opened yet. She smiled to herself as Carth began to unwrap her gift.

 

“To Carth from Mission Vao, well that's very sweet of you missio-Hey” Carth abruptly jumped back as a gizka jumped out at his face. “That's not funny Mission!”

 

“What's the matter Carth? Don't tell me you’re afraid of a gizka.”

 

I'm not afraid of gizka...It just startled me is all.”

 

“Sure...Carth.”

 

 

 

Nearly an hour later, everyone had opened the gifts Mission had been kind enough to give them.

 

Juhani had received a squeaky gizka toy, Juhani had seemed angry, but then she had snuck out to play with it.

 

Jolee had received a wig that made it look like he had dreadlocks, Although Mission had meant for it to be more of a joke gift, Jolee was proudly wearing his new wig around the ship constantly.

 

Bastila had revived a small book that had been written by Mission herself. The book was titled: How to make friends and lose the snooty Jedi attitude.

 

Needless to say, Bastila had not been pleased.

 

Zaalbar had received a massive sack of holiday treats that Mission had picked out her him herself.

 

Revan had received a festive holiday hat that sang when you pushed a button.

 

T3-M4 had gotten a droid shock arm, the little droid seemed delighted, and had immediately zapped Carth with the shock arm on low power.

 

HK-47 had received something that had made his eye's flash with joy.

 

An Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope.

 

The joyful droid had immediately wished to run outside the ship and test it out, but Revan and Canderous had managed to subdue him before he reached the exit.

 

Speaking of Canderous...the mandalorian had received a holiday themed blaster that shot alternating red and green blaster bolts. He had promised he would give it a shot when the next opportunity came up.

 

Soon after the gifts had been opened and the wrapping had been disposed of, the drinks had come out and soon, most of the adults were drunk. Now, as the drunken ones slept and the twi'lek slept soundly, none of them had the idea that one of their number would be pranking the prankster before the next morning.

 

As everyone slept and snored quite soundly, they were awaken quite suddenly by the young twi'lek's loud screaming.

 

Mission Vao screamed like a little girl as she fled from her cabin.

 

What was she running from you ask?

 

Someone had put a holo-picture of Jolee Bindo up in her bunk, she had been twisting and turning waiting for sleep to come, and then she saw a holo-picture of Jolee Bindo in the buff waving at her.

 

For hours afterward, the crew had tried to find out who had done it. No one knew how they had even gotten an image of Jolee in the buff.

 

HK-47 saved the image of Mission running away in his memory banks.

 

Merry Christmas meatbag,

 

The droid couldn't help it; Christmas put him in a festive mood.

 

Oh...and a Happy new year

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  • 4 weeks later...

February '09 had the cool topic of "Essence of the Dark Side".

 

In first place with 10 votes is Bee Hoon for Silence.

 

JAvatar80 takes second place with 8 votes for They will pay....

 

Coming in third with 3 votes is The Split by Kyvios.

 

The poll can be found here.

 

Here is the winning entry.

 

 

A/N: Sooooo I actually just wrote the second part, and then decided that it needed background, and then debated whether or not I should post the background because it might ruin the atmosphere.... @_@ Make me happy and completely separate the two parts in your mind, k? Because we need that atmosphere ;P

 

Yeah, I know that I think too much. In any case, this is not really new or groundbreaking, but I was inspired by the plight of women in Congo.

 

Read it. Talk about it. It has to stop.

 

* * *

 

“You think you are Sith?” his voice asked mockingly. “Indeed, I am unfit to be your master because I do not believe in wanton slaughter and most certainly because I do not throw tantrums and subsequently attempt to murder you. You have much to teach me, my friend.”

 

No one was really surprised when Malak didn’t answer. He was crouched like a wounded terantatek, with the coiled tension of an animal that was cornered and two breaths away from lashing out. One shaking hand was pressed to the gaping wound where his jaw had been before Revan…removed it. The Dark Lord let in the medical and cleaning droids, silently noting that he wasn’t usually as messy as he was this time.

 

“Get out.”

 

Malak obeyed, footsteps heavy with silenced agony and rage. In Revan’s opinion, muting Malak’s garrulous voice had been a rather desirable side-effect.

 

The young woman shrank back in the corner, wishing she could slink out under his notice yet somehow fearful of doing so.

 

“You’re still here?”

 

She swallowed hard. “Yes, my Lord.”

 

“Your service has been noted. Stay away from Malak; he will not forget this incident.”

 

“I understand.”

 

Revan said nothing, looking out of the window instead at the ravaged world below. She wondered whether she should leave, and was about to do so when he spoke again.

 

“What do you understand by the Dark Side?”

 

Her confusion was evident and her knee-jerk response was not unexpected, “Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength…”

 

“I asked what you understand by the Dark Side. The Dark Side and the Sith are often confused for each other but they are not the same thing. Yet if you wish to truly become a Sith, you must first understand the Dark Side.”

 

She had prostrated herself already, even though his back was to her. “Yes, master.”

 

“Answer me.”

 

“I do not know, master.”

 

“Do you know why we fight?”

 

“To destroy the Republic, my Lord.”

 

The masked face inclined itself slightly. “Perhaps. But why?”

 

“I do not know.”

 

“And no one can teach you. I will only tell you this: you already have the key. You are discharged. Go to the Outer Rim, and beyond if necessary. When you have found the truth, I will be waiting.”

 

* * *

Years later

 

They were always silent at first. There is something about voiceless, bottled pain that makes it all the more unbearable to look it—perhaps because it was too reminiscent of that first woman lying on the dusty road. Her clothes had been caked with dried blood, to the point that her skirt would have been able to stand by itself, yet my fingers had come away moist with a dark, warm stickiness. The smell hit me then, and I realize that she also was incontinent.

 

I touched her face.

 

Too weak. Can’t run Can’t fight. My baby is dead. He was dying anyway. The soldiers took me. And then with guns. They fired the gun. Bleeding. It hurts. Blood on the dried grass. Nowhere to go.

 

A tear slid down my face—silkily, sultrily—and onto hers. It traced a dark path across the laterite dust on her cheek. She did not stir. Salt and dust blanched her thick lashes, a painfully beautiful contrast with her ebony skin.

 

Hurts. All dead now. Hurts.

 

She was going mad; probably because the only lucid part of her could only ask “Why?”

 

Why this senseless cruelty?

 

Why attack us?

 

Why rape us?

 

She knew the truth—that there really was no reason, only that she was weaker than they were, and this was how they shamed them all. The truth is a terrible thing, a maddening thing. The truth was why she had finally given up in the midday sun, flies waiting for her to die before they laid their eggs in her flesh. She passed away without a whisper or a sigh. She merely was not. May the Force be with you, I whispered. The thought that the Force could allow such a thing to happen paralysed me, and then the Force was nothing to me.

 

And so that was how it ended, and how it began. In…silence.

 

Revan was right, after all.

 

Tears did not bring her back. Emotion did not bring her back.

 

A low hum was a speeder full of soldiers. I did not leave her side. I did not glance at it bearing down on me.

 

I would never be weak.

 

They would never be weak.

 

I would teach them strength.

 

The ghost of the woman looked at me in sorrow as she faded, her beautiful face no longer marred by swollen bruises and broken cheekbones.

 

The speeder’s engine roared as they revved it. I could hear them whooping hysterically. I straightened the woman’s limbs before I stood up. If I had known her name, I would have said it.

 

Because I can move faster than they thought I could. Because I had a lightsaber. Because this was for her.

 

The lightsaber plunged into the side of speeder as I braced myself. It spun in fast, tight circles. Almost all the soldiers had fallen out by the time it exploded. Almost.

 

Death by fire was more merciful than what the others received.

 

When it was over, I buried her body, returning her to the earth that she had loved. I laid their guns over her grave.

 

I understand now, Revan.

 

I understand why you walked that path. You turned anger into strength and broke us all upon your will.

 

One day, I too will die. I will think of her as that one last breath hisses out between my teeth, and wonder if she found anything after death. Until then, I will lead the silent ones, for she was but one of many.

 

Passion gives me strength.

 

We will never be weak again

Edited by Bee Hoon
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  • 4 weeks later...

March '09 had an excellent crop of stories with the topic "Farewells" :)

 

Kado Sunrider takes top honouurs with 18 votes for A Father's Love.

 

Mr_BFA and Adavardes are tied for second with 16 votes each for the stories There is no death; there is the Force. and Eternity respectively.

 

Third place goes to Kyvios for Letting Go, which garnered 12 votes.

 

The poll can be found here.

 

Here is the winning entry, enjoy!

 

 

My contribution to ToJC for the month of March '09. Enjoy!

 

A Fathers Love

*~*~*

 

Peace is a lie...

 

The shrieking laughter of his master echoed through the chamber as his hands sent millions of watts of energy coursing into his sons convulsing body.

 

There is only passion...

 

His master had paused, asking questioningly if the boy had had enough. Pain at his sons torment welled up inside the armored body that he no longer knew he had.

 

There is no emotion...

 

His robotic arms lifted his master bodily into the air. Terrible pain swept through him as the electric currents were redirected onto his face.

 

Through passion, I gain strength...

 

The power of the love for his son gave him the last inkling of strength needed to hurl his Master into the power core.

 

There is no passion, there is serenity...

 

He collapsed onto the railing, his vision was playing tricks on him. One moment he saw the loving look on his sons face, the next Padme's face the day of their wedding.

 

There is no chaos, there is harmony...

 

He was being dragged through the shaking and convulsing passages of the Death Star. None of the personnel even stopped to question the young man who was dragging their fallen leader towards the hangar.

 

Through victory, my chains are broken...

 

He was talking to me, saying he would save me. I told him he already had. I had but one last thing to say to him. He removed the helmet, and I knew, I had precious minutes to live.

 

"Tell Leia... I love her... Tell her.."

 

There is no death, there is the Force...

 

He was pleading for me to stay, to survive, but my mission was done, my prophecy fulfilled. My duty done. I had restored balance.

 

The Force shall free me...

Edited by Bee Hoon
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  • 1 month later...

April's topic was 'Conclave' and the winning entry was Writer's Conspiracy, Betrayal, Destiny with 12 votes.

 

Adavardes' Galactic Economics was second with 6 votes.

 

Darth_Yuthura's The Last Casualties of the Mandalorian Wars was third with 4 votes.

 

The poll is here.

 

Here is the winning entry:

 

Conspiracy, Betrayal, Destiny

 

 

A small circular table occupied the center of the small, dark room, and ten chairs were spaced evenly around its perimeter. Four of the seats were occupied and the occupants were carrying on hushed conversations with one another, waiting restlessly. Finally, one of them stood.

 

“Where’s Jenner?” he asked the others. Their conversations ceased and they stared at him for a moment.

 

“Jenner’s dead,” one of them finally said. “Got a bit aggressive with one of the Clones, so it shot him.” The one who spoke grimaced and shook his head. “Where did you pick him up, anyhow, Karras? I said he was a risk, right from the start.”

 

Idrin Karras did not immediately reply. When he did, he ignored the question entirely. “We’re also missing Prasanna. If they don’t make it soon, this meeting will be for nothing. I don’t have all the time in the world.”

 

“Prasanna said he was bringing someone else,” one of the other four said. Suddenly, there was a solid, rhythmic knocking at the door. Karras glanced at the door as one of the others rose to answer it. Light flooded the room through the doorway and the man named Slade Prasanna stood there. Prasanna was a covert operative employed by Imperial Intelligence, but he had saved their little conspiracy a number of times already, and thus earned their trust.

 

“I’ve brought someone with me,” he said. “And since I know it’s taken you a long time to trust me because of my job description, I need you all to promise you’ll hear her out before immediately sentencing yourselves to death at her hands, alright?”

 

Karras tensed. “Who did you bring?”

 

Slade moved through the doorway and a feminine figure a foot shorter than Slade’s six foot frame stepped into view. Karras recognized her instantly and clenched his teeth. The door was closed behind her and she stepped into plain view of all the conspirators. Most had no idea who she was and so when she introduced herself as “Aryn Vexxlin,” none of them took her seriously.

 

There were myths about a woman named Aryn Vexxlin. They claimed she was anything from a goddess to a bored multi-trillionaire, and that she had designed a fighter so strong that it could defeat a Star Destroyer’s shields and spear completely through the Destroyer’s widest section without the fighter even getting a scratch. Only Idrin Karras took her seriously.

 

“I know damn well who you are,” he growled. “And that’s not your name.”

 

A faint smile traced her lips and played through her rich brown eyes. “And how would you know? The name you know me by could be the alias, Major.”

 

“Keeping your name a secret’s all well and good,” one of the others said. “But to pick Aryn Vexxlin as your alias? You’re either arrogant or foolish.”

 

Slade chuckled. “She’s neither.” He turned to face her. “And I really think you should give them the name they all know to be a real person.”

 

The woman laughed. “Very well then, but I can assure you that none of you will like it. It’s Reibe Vailar.”

 

This time, the whole table tensed and several of them were on their feet with blasters pointed at her.

 

“Traitor,” Karras growled, recalling security footage from four years earlier in which a hooded and cloaked figure claiming to be Reibe Vailar pledged her allegiance to the Emperor.

 

She was unmoved. “I care very little for what you think of me, Mr. Karras, or any of the rest of you, for that matter. When it comes right down to it, your little conspiracy needs me.”

 

“She’s right,” Slade said over the grumbling of the group. “Karras, you may think you have access to Palpatine as a member of his security taskforce.”

 

“Danna Viss, newly appointed senator of Naboo,” Reibe said, identifying yet another member of the conspiracy. “Do you really think your position in the Senate will get you close to Palpatine?” She scowled. “The Senate is a joke, a puppet theatre and Palpatine knows there are members within the Senate who want his life. No, Senator, he will not let you near him.”

 

“And as for the rest of us,” Slade said, “we have Soven Thrace and Katta Dunn, both captains in the Imperial Navy, and me, a covert agent. None of us has direct access to Palpatine except Reibe.”

 

A long, tense silence blanketed the room. Then, Reibe said, “I don’t expect you to trust me, but I do expect you to think this through logically. Logically, Karras, the closest you’ll get to Palpatine is the security room. Logically, Prasanna won’t even get close. Logically, Thrace and Dunn...”

 

“We know,” Karras growled. “Logically, we’d all be dead.”

 

“And your little conspiracy would be for nothing,” Reibe concluded. “Show me the plan.”

 

Reluctantly Karras showed her their written plans. She made a few slight modifications to include herself and was satisfied. Due to her involvement, the plan was accelerated, and they would get into position in three days.

 

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 

 

But Reibe found herself unable of sleeping the next three nights. Nightmare after nightmare presented itself to her unconscious mind; every fiber of her being told her that, though Palpatine was a menace to the galaxy, the Force had other plans for him. After nearly four-thousand years of life, Reibe Vailar was not one to ignore the will of the Force. The night before the plan was to go through, she meditated.

 

“Show me,” she demanded. “Show me the path of Palpatine’s downfall.”

 

Instantly, she was overwhelmed by a scattering of images. There was the face of a young man, the destruction of a massive space station, several other unfamiliar faces, a second space station and... Reibe gasped as the images slowed... and suddenly, she was there. She watched as Vader stumbled to his feet, hefted Palpatine over his head, and hurled him down a shaft nearby. Reibe moved to its edge and watched as the Emperor fell to his death, down a shaft so deep that she could not see its end.

 

The images changed then to the fates of each member of the conspiracy. Dunn and Thrace were gunned down from behind; Karras was choked to death by Vader. Viss was taken by Imperial scientists and brainwashed to become the Empire’s ideal senator. Slade Prasanna was strangely absent...

 

Coming back to reality, Reibe released a heavy sigh. Karras had been right to doubt her intentions. She could not counteract the will of the Force; she’d tried many times in the last four thousand years and had since given in to being its agent. This conspiracy had to fail so that the Emperor’s demise could take place at the hands of a Skywalker. This was the way of things.

 

But there was still the matter of Slade Prasanna’s absence she could work with...

 

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 

 

Reibe Vailar strode through the halls of the Senate with an expression of grim determination on her face, and Darth Vader stalking along several paces behind her. As she passed the security room, she locked eyes with Idrin Karras and nodded. He immediately turned to work on disabling the cameras where she was heading and it was much too late for him by the time he heard Vader’s mechanized breathing.

 

Next, Reibe’s gaze met Danna Viss. The young senator smiled faintly and turned away to find two Stormtroopers there to restrain her. Terror flooded her and she screamed out, “Traitor!” and then she was carried away and Reibe allowed herself a moment to feel sorry for the poor young woman. In three days, Danna Viss would be spouting Imperial propaganda with the best of them.

 

Reibe faced Soven Thrace and Katta Dunn a few minutes later. Thrace asked her if she was ready and she nodded. They turned to lead her further into the Senate and she pulled a small blaster from its concealed holster and shot both of them square in their backs. With a heavy sigh, she pressed on, finally entering Palpatine’s office.

 

“The conspiracy is finished,” she told him. “All members are dealt with.”

 

Palpatine nodded. “Well done, Hunter. You may go.”

 

Reibe left in a hurry, for though she had told Palpatine that the conspiracy was over, she didn’t doubt for a second that Slade Prasanna was out there somewhere and it wouldn’t be long before he discovered her treachery. She had to find him before that happened.

 

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

 

 

She found him a week later in the wreckage of a covert op he’d been assigned to, cradling a dead young woman in his arms. Upon realizing that he wasn’t alone, he stared at her and she observed the tears in his eyes.

 

“Someone who meant something to you,” she said softly. Scowling Slade let the young woman’s head rest and took up a blaster rifle.

 

“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t blow your brains out,” he snapped. “I have pretty good intel that says you betrayed us, and I’m almost certain that’s what got me assigned to this mission.”

 

“If you shoot me down here and now, I can assure you that you will die,” Reibe said. “Play this right, Prasanna. In a year, you’ll have your own ship, and you’ll be sabotaging operations like this, but you have to trust me. Palpatine’s path is a lot longer than our little conspiracy wanted to make it.”

 

“Destiny,” Slade spat, throwing the rifle aside. “Was it the will of your precious Force that my little sister had to die here?”

 

Reibe shook her head. “I didn’t see that coming. I’m sorry for your loss, but you have to overcome it. Be strong, Slade. I didn’t foresee your death, which means the Force has other plans for you. Follow your instincts and live.”

 

She turned to leave and as she exited through a hole in the wall, she told him, “We will meet again.”

 

Glaring at her back, Slade growled, “You’d better hope not, traitor.”

 

And that was the day he made up his mind to leave Imperial Intelligence.

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  • 1 month later...

May had the topic of 'That Special Tune'. vanir takes top honours for Intention with 15 votes and Adavardes gets an honourable mention for Tick Tock with 12 votes. Click here to see the poll.

 

Here is the winning entry, enjoy! ^_^

 

(song lyrics courtesy of Tool)

 

The diminutive Jedi Master still had regular things to do like prepare a meal and clean up after himself. Sure there were dozens of Padawans who would gladly take these pressures off his hands but such a thing was hardly to be an active part of life, the thought of having others running around doing small personal tasks on his behalf was just silly, he wasn't any sort of invalid. Plus he quite enjoyed chopping vegetables and mixing sauces to a relaxing melody.

 

Pure as we begin

Pure as we come in

 

Music was soothing, one of the most enlightened endeavours of sentients. And it was interesting to contemplate the meloncholy often found.

 

Pure as we begin

Pure by will alone

 

The earliest sapient cultures develop music right alongside religion, astronomy and housing construction, these integral elements of civilisation are so closely tied you can barely pick them apart in the mind's eye.

 

Pure as we begin

Here we have a stone

Gather, place

Shelter turned to home

 

The most ancient artefacts of musical instruments, diatonic scales, religious sanctuary and complex structure can be found within centuries of each other among histories spanning hundreds of thousands of years.

 

Pure as we begin

Here we have a stone

Throw to stay the stranger

Swore to crush his bones

 

With warfare right in there with them.

 

Move by will alone [/ we're not alone]

 

Thus the art of culture is learned.

 

Spark becomes a flame

Flame becomes a fire

Light the way or warm this

Hope we occupy

 

Spark becomes a flame

Flame becomes a fire

Forge a blade to slay the stranger

Take whatever we desire

 

It was as if as subject to their own poor destinies sapients held no concept of consequence, but all is not what it seems. Some always know. Someone is always watching.

 

Move by will alone [/ we're not alone]

Pure as we begin

 

[guitar]

 

It was interesting. As he listened, continued chopping vegetables, the Master smiled to himself as if answering the lyricist. Yes, he thought, someone like me is always watching.

 

Just then he sensed something. The approach of something dangerous. Something wrong.

 

Pure as we begin

Move by will alone

Leave as we come in

Pure as light, return to one

 

Sometimes prophecy was in the strangest places, he thought. There was a knock at the door.

He put down the knife and sighed. Walked over to the door, pressed the entry key.

The door slid open.

A Padawan was standing there looking perfectly innocent, just a regular, youthful human. Full of life, wanting to become a Jedi Knight.

"Master Yoda, may I speak with...oh I'm sorry. I'm interrupting something..."

 

Move by [we're not alone]

 

"Felt your approach I did. Return to the training hall, be there shortly I will."

 

[end]

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