Star Wars: The Last Padawan

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    A Star Wars Tale

    Twilight falls on the Old Republic. The Clone Wars rage across the galaxy, as the droid armies of the Confederacy of Independent Systems brings dissent to peace and order throughout the once mighty Republic. Only the grand army of the Republic, led by the Jedi, stands in their path. Clone soldiers, led by Jedi Knights, together with their padawan apprentices, fight to restore the Republic.

    But the war does not go well. On board the cruiser Wyvern, Jedi padawan Aedan Avicii speeds from Bespin to Coruscant in a race to get the Jedi Council information that could turn the whole war on its head...

    BB-4001A, #0080ff
    The boy's hand massaged the back of his neck, fingers gingerly exploring the spot where a round impression remained from the restraining bolt that had been attached there at the base of the skull, as though questioning the reality of that having been removed. It was more than disconcerting that, at any time, the young human was susceptible to having all autonomy stripped away with such a device, or even all sense of identity stolen with a memory wipe. In his lifetime, both had happened, leaving him in what seemed a perpetual race to try and catch up to where he'd been or reconciling the gaps between who he was and who he was intended to be.

    That was due, of course, to the fact that the boy wasn't human at all. Neither was he alive, in the sense that most sapient beings in the galaxy defined the term. He was a droid, but there was nothing outwardly mechanical about him. Indeed, he looked like a child. Small in stature, dark skin, brown eyes flecked with gold, and a mass of wiry hair that flared out from his head. He wore simple trousers and a shirt that was cinched at the waist by an electrician's tool-belt that included an ionizing hold-out blaster, hinting at the life in which he had found himself forever scrambling to survive.

    Whether human or droid, survival was always a paramount concern. But the unique reality of a droid's programming, or the fragility of it, caused the boy to question whether or not there were levels of survival that one was willing to accept. To survive as a droid was something that he had succeeded at. To survive as himself? That was the task with which the droid seemed in a losing fight.

    "Please observe the 'no brooding' sign. Heh heh heh."

    The boy's dark eyes snapped open, as the afro-headed child pivoted in the cockpit chair to peer over at the goose-like mechanical contraption standing with it's telescoping eye-stalk staring up at him. The G2 maintenance droid was something that he'd found on a scrap pile on Nar Shadda. An introduction to how the galaxy at large viewed them as a people, something to be used and then discarded.

    Disposable slaves.

    The eye-stalk moved up and down, as though sizing the boy up. "You should power down, boss," G2-M9 offered sagely. And he was that, a sage, when it came to droid maintenance. For the price of a bad motivator, he'd been sentenced to rust for all eternity under the sun. Refurbishing parts, it had taken the boy less than a cycle to get the G2 model back into factory condition. But perhaps that was more effort than people were willing to put into something so easily replaced. After all, newer models were rolling off the shelves every day. Which made the boy wonder, had nothing changed... would his parents have eventually replaced him as well?

    "...cycle your power cells and clear your J-7 cache. The reboot ought to clear any lingering effects of the restraining bolt," the maintenance droid was saying, as the boy caught himself again drifting off into his own lingering doubts.

    "Yeah," the boy agreed quietly, almost startled at hearing his own voice. Subconsciously, he massaged his throat and then leaned forward in the chair as he adjusted the flight controls. "First, let's get rid of the meatbag," the droid added, as he looked over the hyperdrive controls and navi-computer.

    He had never dealt with the Jedi before, and hadn't had any intention of starting now. Whatever they were about, even other meatbags didn't understand Jedi. They weren't really the Republic police, and they weren't really Republic diplomats, but they seemed involved in just about everything that had to do with this war. So if the war was bad, then the Jedi had to be worse.

    Just as the boy was beginning to rise from out of the seat, something flashed on the communications terminal. It was a channel that the Jedi had asked him to monitor.

    So now he supposed he was a messenger in addition to ferrying the Jedi kid from the Outer Rim to the Core Worlds. On the one hand, it was more than he'd bargained for when he'd stopped off at Cloud City. On the other hand, he'd made a different bargain with the Jedi. And, unlike meatbags, droids didn't lie about their intentions.

    "Take over for me," the boy instructed simply, sliding out of the seat and making his way to the door at the back of the cockpit. Walking through the cabins toward the area where the ship would ordinarily retain it's autochef, the boy stepped out into a lounge where the Jedi was waiting. "We've just made the jump into hyperspace," the boy announced for the sake of his passenger. The boy could have advised on how long the trip was going to take, but the answer was that they were going to get there when they got there. And the autochef wasn't working -- it hadn't even been stocked in more than a hundred years -- so the Jedi had best be prepared for a long night with no supper.

    There were also guest quarters, but the Jedi was no 'guest' of his. Merely cargo. As such, the sofa in the lounge would have to do.

    "There's a transmission on that channel you mentioned,"
    the boy noted in a matter-of-fact tone, taking his eyes off the Jedi just long enough to give a nod of his head in the direction of a small terminal on the far wall. "You can listen over there if you like."

    It wasn't personal. This was just business, and BB preferred to keep things that way. The Jedi meant nothing to him and he imagined he meant even less to the Jedi. The sooner they got to Coruscant, the better. Then they could each just go their separate ways.

    After all, that was the only part of his life that BB ever got right.
    #1 Bounce, Jul 20, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2014
  2. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 From his position on the couch, the Jedi boy sat quietly with his legs folded underneath him, listening to the sounds of the spacecraft. The old freighter grumbled as it made the transition to hyperspace, but the vessel was quiet otherwise. After several years of starship travel among diplomats, politicians and soldiers, Aedan was used to a journey filled with the chatter of people, whether it be about the latest shockball match, a certain Senator's juicy drama, or an exchange of stories from the front lines. Even the mere, comforting presence of other warm-blooded beings was absent, leaving Aedan with a cold, lonely existence aboard the starship of a droid.

    Aedan fingered the data disk in his pocket, a disk he had traveled across half the galaxy to recover. It was the reason for the urgent deal with the droid, a necessity with which neither one of them felt entirely comfortable. His thumb brushed over the disk's cool, metal surface, as if he could scry out its contents by touch alone. What could be so important, the boy wondered absently, to send a Jedi to retrieve it? Was it troop movements? Information about the Jedi? Perhaps dirty information on a senator that could have been used to blackmail them? Had the war been more straightfoward, he might not have wondered so much.

    Still, the Jedi Padawan reminded himself, this war was hardly straightforward.

    The boy had tried to read the disk, to no avail. It was protected by a level of encryption his datapad couldn't figure out, and Aedan was no information expert. The Jedi Council would certainly have the cypher needed to decrypt it, he assured himself, and if not they had the support of the Republic almost completely at their disposal. To introduce one's self as a Jedi, even as the war raged on and people grew upset at the Senate and Jedi both, was the easiest means to opening doors and gaining access to, well, just about anything in the Republic. It was a means Aedan used himself frequently, even if he felt a bit guilty afterwards sometimes.

    Guilt, however, was furthest from his mind at the moment. For Aedan, the goal was clear. Reach the Jedi Temple, deliver the disk to the Jedi Council, and then wait for his master, Vorick Roth. Roth was somewhere in the Outer Rim, on some mission for the Council. If a mission was dangerous, needed a stealthy element, and required a delicate touch, Vorick Roth was among the first choices. Even though his own mission had been one of utmost importance, and Aedan felt proud to have managed it by himself so far, he still wished he was with Master Roth right at that moment. Perhaps then he would not have this feeling of uncertainty filling the well of his stomach.

    "We've just made the jump into hyperspace."

    Aedan looked up, startled by the droid's sudden appearance, and tried his best to hide it. The Jedi youth had nothing against droids in general, they were all right in his book, but for some reason this one made him uneasy. The droid's uncanny resemblence to a young, Human boy intruded on all the young Jedi's sensibilities about droids, how exactly did one react to a droid who looked human? The usual tells, the change in breathing, heart rhythm, a flicker of insight into another being's mind, they were all useless with this droid. And yet, his brain told him they shouldn't be, for he was looking at a Human child.

    The not-so-Human boy was talking again, his voice flat and factual, a far cry from the melodic tones of the many children at the Jedi Temple that Aedan had so recently called his peers. He looked at the terminal the droid motioned to, a small access screen hardly bigger than his own datapad. Had this been a Republic ship, Aedan could have simply connected his datapad to the network and been able to access exactly what the droid was talking about from the comfort of his seat on the couch. With so much on his mind, the boy didn't really feel like moving, but the droid had said something about a Jedi transmission.

    "Thanks," the youth intoned blankly, his voice strangely disconnected. Standing, Aedan seemed to float across the room, finding himself almost surprised to have even left his seat on the couch. He stood before the small terminal and activated its screen. After a few entered options, the transmission appeared within the two-dimensional display. Aedan blinked for a moment before he realized that no hologram was going to appear, and focused his attention to the youthful visage of Anakin Skywalker on the screen.

    It was at that moment that his stomach did a belly flop, the well of uncertainty stretching into a pit of unyielding void.

    Whatever message Skywalker was delivering, it fell on deaf ears. The only sounds Aedan could make out were that of his own heart pumping, his breath quickening as the realization sunk in. A more objective moment would have caught him cursing himself for not paying attention to his earlier feelings. The boy had no time to chastise himself, no thought given to his lack of perception, no thought at all besides the one thought consuming his entire being as he sunk to the floor beside the terminal. He could feel it now, the lonliness, the cold absence that permeated his body, the unnatural disconnect from the galaxy. Over and over, the thought coursed through his mind as the boy pulled his legs closer to his chest, searching for any, fleeting form of comfort.

    They were all dead. The Jedi Order was gone.
  3. BB-4001A, #0080ff

    The young boy's afro dipped with the motion of his head, as the lifelike droid gave a nod of his head in response to the perfunctory pleasantry. Without taking his eyes off of the Jedi, the boy's dark eyes tracked the boy's passage from the sofa to the terminal. BB had no interest in the communication, but he did want the Jedi off his ship. All he needed was for some bombad Jedi war-monger to send the young fool on some idealistic crusade and the droid could find himself being asked to ferry the Jedi on a journey farther than what he'd bargained for.

    To be clear, BB had no interest in this transaction taking any longer than was necessary.

    He wanted to disappear again, to get lost in the space between systems and let the fleshlings have at their little war. About the only reason that BB would have rooted for the Republic over the Separatists was for the fact that at least the Republic wasn't using droids as fodder for the war machine. He supposed that clones weren't much better, still being disposable slaves of a sort, but perhaps that was simply the way that the galaxy worked. A social-economic food chain, that always needed some smaller piece to feed upon.

    As the message played on the terminal, the Jedi's body sagged even as his breathing seemed to increase a pace. It was a reaction that the droid understood well, one that he'd tried to mimic a time or two as bad news befell him. Which, anything involving fleshlings was certain to involve bad news.

    "We'll be to Coruscant in a few hours,"
    the droid supplied quietly, in the hopes that perhaps that might offer some comfort to the boy. After all, Coruscant was home to the Jedi, wasn't it?

    Of course, not all homes were welcoming. The last time that BB had been to Alderaan had been... well before this Jedi had been born.

    Taking a step back, the boy hesitated as he started back to the cockpit. From a purely analytical perspective, BB knew that he ought to simply go back to the cockpit and leave well enough alone. Because he didn't care. He was incapable of caring. He performed computations and reacted according to a personality profile that had been loaded into his databanks.

    But it hadn't always been that way. He hadn't always been that way, as inconvenient of a truth as that may have been.

    Turning his head back toward the Jedi, the droid asked a question he'd already tried to talk himself out of. "If there's anything you need..?"
  4. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 Once, as a youngling, an Anzati Jedi Master visited Aedan and his clanmates to share with some various archaeological finds the master had made over the years. Having just come from Bonadan, the master was unaware of the fact he had contracted the Bonadan Cough, blaming his ocassional hacking on the amount of inhaled dust inherent in his profession. Soon younglings were falling sick, and among them was Aedan.

    He remembered lying in bed for days, his throat sore and raw from almost-constant coughing. Every inch of his body felt heavy, as if a great weight was pressing down on his chest, arms and legs. Aedan recalled being so tired that he wanted to sleep, but being persistently unable due to the cough. It was a maddening state to exist in, a kind of purgatory between blissful sleep and torturous awareness that plagued him until the Jedi Healers finally broke the virus' hold on his system.

    To the padawan learner slumped against the terminal of a droid's starship, the memory of that sickened state felt like a treasured dream compared to what he was feeling now.

    At least, then, he would be feeling something instead of this emptiness. A void existed where a heart used to be, a long time ago from Aedan's perspective. Warmth was a distant memory, fleeting at the edge of a frigid existence; a menacing cold that consumed the boy's body. He shivered uncontrollably, every fiber of his being wanting to move and flee and run, and yet he sat still, cowering under the small console like a child afraid of a monster in the closet.

    No, he thought, like a child who was keenly aware that the monster was real and that it had just consumed his parents.

    The face of Anakin Skywalker floated into his mind once more. There had been something about the way he looked, some haunted quality. Almost every Jedi knew of Skywalker, and even Aedan had heard the rumors of the Jedi's supposed role in a prophecy. Even without the mystical element, Anakin Skywalker was a force of nature, a prodigy, whose heroics were well known in and out of the Republic. That Skywalker had not been the face Aedan had seen on screen. The face he had seen was someone else entirely, someone who looked like Skywalker, but that someone was no hero of the Republic.

    Above his head, the message played on repeat, the voice burning a hole into his mind. The droid made a mention of their travel time, as if that would mean anything. Their destination had been Coruscant, but what was that to Aedan now? What would he find within the Jedi Temple? He knew now that he had to go there, he had to complete his mission, even if there was no one left to deliver it to.

    And if he died, then he would join the rest of the order.

    The droid was still there, hovering like the old Jedi Masters used to. Just one last check, one last ounce of concern. Even before he said it, Aedan knew what would come from the Human-look-alike's mouth, "If there's anything you need..?"

    "No," the youth said curtly, his gaze still fixed on the deckplate visible between his feet. "Just go away." He closed his eyes, waiting to hear the droid's receeding footsteps.

    Finally, he was alone. Alone with his thoughts. Alone in the lounge. Alone in the galaxy. Alone, except for the repeating voice above him, the twisted visage of Skywalker, calling all Jedi back to Coruscant. In his heart, Aedan knew the message was a farce. A trick, a ploy to bait anyone naive enough to return.

    Someone like me, the boy thought to himself.

    He took a breath, exhaling it slowly as he examined his position. He was a Jedi Padawan, only half trained, it was foolhardy to return to the Temple knowing it to be a trap. He should find his master first, and then plan a return. Perhaps he should go to the Senate, or the Chancellor, surely they would help find any Jedi who might be left. The Republic would help him, Aedan was sure of it, and the Republic was on Coruscant.

    The youth stood, his spirits somewhat higher than they had been a moment ago. He had a plan in mind, go to the Senate and ask for help. A small part of him felt relieved at this course of action, knowing that someone else would be there to give him direction. Someone to guide him, to tell him if he was doing right or wrong. A new master, of sorts.

    Leaning over to turn off the terminal, Aedan was surprised to hear the voice change. He glanced to the screen, but instead of the boyish face of Anakin Skywalker, an older, bearded visage appeared. The chestnut hair and sparkling blue eyes of Obi-Wan Kenobi were muted on the screen's poor display, but his voice came through crystal clear.

    [This is Obi-Wan Kenobi to all surviving Jedi. The Jedi Temple has been destroyed and our members attacked. If you are hearing this, do not approach Coruscant. Stay safe, stay alert and know that you are not alone. Do not attempt to use any known Jedi frequencies, they are likely monitored, and stay away, I repeat, stay away from Coruscant.]

    Aedan shivered again, a strange feeling coursing through his veins. It took a moment to realize that the feeling was hope. Hope! Master Kenobi was alive, and if he made it, others must have as well. Perhaps the entire Jedi Council was still alive, just in hiding somewhere. But where? Wherever they were, it wasn't Coruscant.

    Racing towards the cockpit, the Jedi Padawan nearly tripped over the goose droid standing in the middle of the small room. Breathless, the boy panted out haltingly, "Don't...change course. No...Coruscant."
  5. BB-4001A, #0080ff
    "Just go away."

    The droid didn't need to be told twice. Without a moment's hesitation, almost relieved by the response, the young boy turned and proceeded back through the cabins to the cockpit. The human replica was acutely aware of his own waning power supply, but passed his own cabin aboard what had become his mobile home and stepped back into the cockpit. As he entered, the goose droid's eye-stalk swiveled to meet him.

    "Fleshling all cozy?"

    "I dunno," the boy quipped in response, stepping past the droid as the boy slung himself back into the pilot's chair. Leaning forward, the youth again verified the hyperdrive controls and navi-computer. Everything was on course. A few hours, the Jedi kid would get his wish. The droid would go away.

    "So what do we do after we lose the cargo?"

    That was the question, wasn't it? And one that the boy didn't have a good answer for. "I dunno," the dark skinned youth echoed for the second time. He fell silent as he slumped back into the seat, allowing his primary processors to chew on the different variables for a bit. There were any number of possible outcomes for them, locations that offered venues of note or good positioning from which to broker contacts. The turmoil from the war made everything uncertain however. "Carratos," the boy answered finally, reaching over to bring up the coordinates on the navi-computer. "It's only forty parsecs from Coruscant. We ought to be able to find some..."

    The droid's words were interrupted by the door to the cockpit springing open, the Jedi kid spilling in with such a flurry of motion that he nearly stumbled over G2-M9. The boy's words were even more frantic, a tone of panic seeping through as BB was presented with what seemed conflicting notions of expression.

    "You... don't want to go to Coruscant?" the droid inquired, finding it impossible to discern the message behind the boy's words. But, despite the literal translations his droid brain offered, a guess seemed the more logical of conclusions.

    Fact: The Jedi was a practical being. That much was evidenced by the bargain that had led to their being here.

    Fact: The Jedi was aware that they were on course to Coruscant. No course change had been discussed.

    Assumption: The Jedi was desiring a course change.

    As the Jedi kid gave a shake of his head, the afro-headed boy turned and reached for the hyperdrive controls. The mottled view of hyperspace visible through the canopy suddenly morphed into a stream of multi-colored lights, before settling back into the familiar backdrop of space as the ship dropped from out of lightspeed. "Gee, get the navi-computer working to verify our position," the boy remarked, sending the G2 unit waddling across the cockpit.

    Turning in his seat, the boy tucked his legs underneath him as he looked back at the cargo. "I said that I would take you where you needed to go," the droid remarked, affirming his end of their bargain. That assumed that the Jedi had a place in mind.
  6. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 "You... don't want to go to Coruscant?"

    The Jedi boy shook his head, his black padawan's braid whipping across his face. Then he stopped. His expression shifted through a range of states, mirroring his emotional dilemma as Aedan sought to find an answer for the droid. Every fiber of his being wanted to say no, to go to the Jedi Temple and see what remained. The macabre part of him considered it an adventure, a chance to explore the nooks and crannies that had been off-limits or quickly curtailed by a stern warning or an iron grip on his arm. And if he met whoever had attacked the Jedi, Aedan decided as he bristled in anger over that new reality, he would make them pay.

    Every fiber of his being wanted to resume their original course, all but one. That one, small shred of decency, the voice that Aedan had long-ago shoved to the back of his mind. It cried out constantly with warnings such as, "but you'll get hurt!" or, "the masters won't like that!" or, "you're going to get in trouble!" The Jedi youth had long ago cordoned off that voice from the rest of his mind, the consequences of his actions rarely bothered him. And besides, he wasn't stupid enough to do something really bad.

    That voice, now, was no mere cry. It was a wall of thunder, crashing through the barriers that held it back, stopping Aedan before the words could exit his mouth. It voiced a simple message, but one that filled the boy's mind with a maelstrom of sound. It needed not battle for dominance, for nothing opposed its progress, the adventurous, curious parts of Aedan's mind shrank back in response to the rational thought.

    Slowly, purposefully, Aedan spoke, his voice heavy with anguish, "No, it's not safe."

    Master Kenobi had said it himself. Aedan believed him, despite the urge to visit the Temple anyway. The rational part of him was right, the boy conceded, to proceed to Coruscant was too risky. It was a death sentence.

    "I said that I would take you where you needed to go."

    The padawan stared into the droid's brown, realistic eyes, resisting the shudder reflex as his mind reminded him that this was a machine. It didn't really care, even if it seemed to. it was just programming, just bytes and code following a per-determined path. Blinking was just a function, as was the offer provided to Aedan, both a result of programming created to make him more at ease with the droid's presence.

    It didn't work.

    Just as much as he wanted to visit the Temple, Aedan wanted off this ship. He wouldn't breathe easy until he was far, far away from the Human look-alike droid. The easiest way would be to part at the next planet stop. But if Coruscant was no longer safe, what was safe anymore?

    Aedan fell silent for a moment, searching his mind for an answer. Coruscant was a safe world, but with so many people it was impossible to be completely safe. Yet even the Core Worlds were all heavily policed and monitored, if whoever had attacked the Jedi could get past Coruscant's defenses then any other Core World would be easy pickings. Turning his attention to the various worlds he had visited with Master Roth, Aedan turned them over in his mind, considering each one, but most were in the middle of the war between the Republic and the Separatists. If anywhere was safe, those were decidedly not it.

    When at last he spoke, the Jedi youth's voice was quiet, barely a whisper. He was scared, almost visibly trembling, for once again he had no answer. No direction. Master Roth would know, a voice inside told him. But Master Roth was likely dead, or in hiding. Where would Aedan ever find him? Shaking his head, the defeated boy said simply, "I don't know."
  7. BB-4001A, #0080ff
    "I don't know."

    The young droid stared apathetically back at the Jedi kid, his mind working to decide the best course of action for himself and Gee. When they had started, the Jedi had been desperate to get to Coruscant. Now they had received a message from Coruscant, and the kid said it wasn't safe to go there. Obviously whatever message had been received had left an impression on the kid, but that had nothing to do with the two droids carting the Jedi around.

    Still, the response was mildly surprising for the fact that the Jedi seemed to be at a loss. So the message must not have contained any instructions. Just... what? Some kind of warning? A prohibition against Jedi traveling to Coruscant?

    He was making assumptions, the boy realized, internally chastising himself for it. Coruscant, after all, had never been his destination and so the fact that they were not going to Coruscant was of no meaning to the droid. "My obligation remains then," the afro-headed droid remarked in a matter-of-fact tone, raising his golden brown eyes to meet the Jedi's own. "You may voyage with us for as long as may be required to determine your destination. I will ferry you then when you have made your decision."

    That much was regrettable for the amount of power they would waste on life support systems, energy which would ordinarily be reserved as the Wyvern typically operated in deep space with minimal power spent either warming the interior or supplying a breathable atmosphere -- considerations which became null quickly as personal comfort was not a factor for the ship's two droid crew.

    Rising from out of the pilot's chair, the small human-like droid made his way to the rear of the cockpit, where the navi-computer's primary controls were lit up with several strings of computations as the computer worked to pinpoint the ship's current location in the galaxy. Pulling up the astrogation charts, the droid began sorting through available options. "We're going to Carratos," the boy stated, referring to himself and G2-M9, and taking a half-step back in order to allow the Jedi to see the data on the screen should he so desire. "It's a planet in the O'pahz System, about forty parsecs from Coruscant in the Inner Rim."

    Resuming his work for a moment, the droid programmed the navi-computer to run the necessary calculations for a jump to the O'pahz system from their current location, then turned and made his way back to the pilot's chair. "It will take several hours to arrive," the small droid remarked, preparing the hyperdrive for another start up. Turning back toward the Jedi kid for a moment, the boy added, "I intend to power down after we've made the jump to lightspeed. I suggest you do the same. There are guest quarters available for your use in the corridor behind us." the youth added with a nod of his head toward the door.

    As he turned back toward the controls, the young robot went on to add, "When we get to Carratos, you'll be responsible for your own maintenance. The autochef hasn't been stocked in more than a hundred years. If you decide to leave with us, you'll need to provision food for yourself."

    That was nothing personal, but neither Colyn nor Gee ate. And, in all fairness, he'd been contracted to transport the Jedi, not requested to feed him.
  8. "A Disquiet Follows My Soul"
    Soundtrack: "Shadowland" from the Lion King Original Cast Recording​

    Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 His mind was an empty void.

    His body was a simple vessel, carrying out a single task, breathing.

    Breathe in.

    Breathe out.

    Breathe in.

    As he drew in air, the boy could taste the odors of the room in which he sat. The musky, slightly-off smell of the linens he had found in the slim dresser drawer. The thick layer of dust that covered the small desk in the corner of the room, the only other furniture besides the bed on which he sat, cross-legged. The sharp, metallic smell of air that had been recycled one too many times.

    Breathe out.

    The smells left his nose, and though their memory tried to linger, the padawan expelled them with his breath. Along with, he sent his fears, the trembling terror that made him quiver with every thought of his new reality. His worries, concerns and nervousness went, too, lifting like a veil across his mind. The cleansing was therapeutic, but Aedan did not linger on the sensation, and sent that, too, with his breath.

    Breathe in.

    Breathe out.

    Now to tackle his anger. The pain. The Jedi were taught to let go of attachments, to be willing to move beyond the death of their friends and colleagues. Aedan, too, had been taught this principle, but the actual practice was far more difficult than the theory. Pain cloaked his body, wrapped him in its warm embrace, and the padawan's hungry stomach churned as he pried it away. The pain was comfortable now, it stopped him from thinking too much about what had happened.

    But now he had to.

    If the waves of anger and pain that had washed over him when he first realized of the attack had been a flood, they became a torrent as he pried away the most comfortable layer. His brow furrowed involuntarily, and the boy cried out aloud. All at once, the deaths of the Jedi came pouring in, his friends, his masters, the healers, the teachers, the administrators and cleaners. The fighters, the builders and farmers. The Council members. His clan members.

    A thousand souls rushed through his heart, their faces and names searing a mark upon that life-giving organ. The boy's breathing became ragged and short, his chest heaved with the effort, the pain that swelled within his heart as though his rib cage were a prison. Aedan knew almost every one, and through his meditation, he came to know the others. They whispered and cried out to him, but the youth could not make out their voices.

    Breathe in.

    Breathe out.

    Slowly. Steadily. One by one, the boy bid each soul farewell, though as they left it felt as if they took part of his heart with them. But he let them go. All of them.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    The masters.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    The teachers.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    The farmers. The healers. The cleaners.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    The builders. The fighters.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    His clan mates.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    His friends.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    His rivals.

    Breathe in. Breathe out.

    Master Roth.

    Aedan's breath caught in his throat. Master Roth's face rose in his mind's eye. His dancing, blue eyes. The week's worth of whiskers on his face, yellow blond hairs that were threatening to turn grey, one by one. The wrinkles around his eyes and mouth. The deep, direct voice in which he spoke, forceful and commanding when he needed to be, and equally gentle and kind when he wanted.

    Breathe in.

    Breathe out.

    The boy closed his eyes and concentrated. He had to let Master Roth go, to go with the others and find peace. It was the Jedi way. It was the only way.

    Breathe in.

    Breathe out.

    He couldn't. As much as he willed the memory of his master gone, it only strengthened its grip. Letting the memory slip through his mind like all the others only left it settling into the cracks and folds in his being. Strong-arming the memory and forcing it to go with all his power only left Aedan beaten down and exhausted, having gained no ground. Even calling upon the Force made no difference, for it left his grasp once he turned its power onto his memory of Roth.

    Aedan opened his eyes, defeated, and found himself lying face up on the bedspread. His cheeks and forehead were damp, and his body felt as it did after a fight. Worn. Beaten. The boy ran a hand through his matted hair, exhaling slowly as his mind ran over the course of his meditation. The result was obvious, the youth felt far less burdened than before, and his mind felt more clear. But where he had once grieved for the whole of the Jedi Order, now that space was consumed with the fate of Master Roth. Some part of him, some core piece, would not give way to reality. Would not let him find peace.

    Master Roth was dead, but Aedan simply could not accept that. He had not seen it with his own eyes, he had not felt it, and though he felt no presence of his master now, the boy merely rationalized that away as a matter of distance, strife or an attempt to avoid detection. Whatever he seemed to know, however, the boy couldn't put a finger on it. Whatever the reason for his own stubborn refusal to let Master Roth go, Aedan had yet to discover himself.

    He would have to find out.

    In the meantime, the boy thought he should take advantage of the opportunity to rest. There would be time to worry about the fate of his master later. That thought, and the state of his growling stomach, lingered in his mind as Aedan slowly drifted off into a troubled sleep.
  9. BB-4001A, #0080ff

    He felt happy.

    Through a series of disjointed images, an overwhelming sense of warmth... No, contentment... resonated deep within the emotional receptors of the droid's processors. Perhaps that was merely the result of programming, but he still felt it. More than that, he felt as though he belonged.

    As his fractured memory core struggled to try and piece together the fragments that remained of all his yesterdays, the droid recalled the face of a woman who looked at him. It was a look, nothing more. And yet in those eyes, the droid saw something quite unlike how others viewed him. And he heard her voice as she held up a round foodstuff decorated with icing and candles.

    She said, "Happy birthday, Colyn."

    The droid's dark eyes snapped open. He powered up at precisely forty-five minutes prior to the navi-computer's calculated exodus at Carratos. Sitting up on the bed, the boy robot surveyed the interior of the ship's primary cabin. Trinkets and curios related to Alderaan littered the spartan confines, the largest of which was a framed portrait of three individuals sharing similar features. Mahogany skin, black of hair, golden brown eyes.

    The boy in the center of the photograph had been named Colyn Pendago.

    The droid didn't really recall much of the man or the woman in the picture, except that he knew they were happy. There was no specific memory of such, but the feeling remained. It wasn't logic, it was... human.

    The haunted echoes of his dreams clung to him, even as the young droid attempted to find some solace in the refresher, his tactile receptors stimulated by the touch of vapor and water over the dark layers of synthskin that covered his body. It was part and parcel of being a droid. Every robot had something covering it, be it polished metal, clear transparisteel, or synthskin. Still, he couldn't help but feel as though he were wearing someone else's face.

    Brushing the thick head of coarse hair out with a small comb, the boy emerged dressed in casual trousers and a shirt, a heavier shirt open and hanging off his frame. He stepped onto the cockpit at precisely the same moment that the hyperdrive alarm sounded, taking a seat at the pilot controls without a word. The mottled sea of hyperspace blurred into a stream of lights, which itself snapped into view as the familiar backdrop of stars in the galaxy.

    Maneuvering the ship out from the shadow of a gas giant, the Corellian freighter's canopy was suddenly filled by the view of a planet directly ahead.


    The small droid's form emerged out from underneath the ship, now resting on it's landing struts as pressurized hydraulic gases vented from out of safety valves dotting the underside as the freighter as it adjusted to the atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface. Beyond the starport, the city of O'pahz was visible.

    But first, the welcoming committee of a port authorities control officer. Stepping up toward the freighter, the stern looking man moved briskly toward the loading ramp of the recently landed ship. As the young-looking boy moved into his path, the man paused. "Aren't you a little young to..." he began, only to stop as the scanner built into the clippad he carried for his bureaucratic duties chirped.

    Looking from his clippad's read-out down to the youth, the man adopted a look of disdain. "Droid," he uttered, as though it were a curse. "I hope you have something other than Imperial credits."

    Gee came waddling up from behind the young-looking freighter captain. "Republic credits, you mean, friend?"

    "Not anymore."

    The finality of the comment prompted the young droid to narrow his eyes at the bureaucrat for a moment. Then, casually, the boy dipped his hand into the pocket of his trousers and casually tossed three coins over at the man. "Two peggats now as a deposit," the young droid stated, making no mention of the dugat he'd included in the toss. "Then seven hundred when we leave."

    The man caught the coins, closing his hand around them flat, circular objects as he shuffled them around in his palm, as though contemplating the offer for a moment. "Welcome to Carratos," he stated finally, turned his back to the pair of machines and walking off.

    As the two droids watched the man depart, Gee broke the silence. "What do you suppose that was about?"

    Without answering, the youth reached to his mechanic's utility belt and drew out a cylinder like device. Unfolding the collapsible datapad, the young-looking slicer casually sought out a HoloNet feed and hacked into it. An image of the Republic Senate appeared, with a black-robed figure standing in place of the usually charismatic Chancellor Palpatine. "The Separatists have been defeated, and the Jedi rebellion has been foiled. We stand on the threshold of a new beginning. In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years."

    Frowning, the small droid terminated the HoloNet feed as he collapsed the datapad and returned it to his toolbelt. "That hardly sounds reassuring," the droid noted flatly, before turning his eyes up to the city outside. "Come on, we need to find work."

  10. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 A stillness permeated the cabin within which the young Jedi lay. The once-everpresent hum of the vessel's propulsion systems was now absent, and in the quiet the teenage boy stirred. Clutching the covers close to his chest, he prayed for a few more moments of sleep, his only reprieve from the harsh world that waited behind closed eyelids. Eventually resigned to his fate, the boy opened his eyes, blinking out the haze of sleep as he surveyed the strange room that had been granted to him.

    The events of the previous night slowly filtered back into his head. The quick turnaround at Bespin, and the fortune of running into the synth-droid called BB. The message from the Jedi Temple, and the second message from Master Kenobi. Rerouting from Coruscant to Carratos. His failure at meditation.

    ...Master Roth...

    Aedan sat up in the bed, and untangled himself from the mess of linens in his attempt to stand. The thought ran through his head again, Master Roth must be alive. That was the only reason he should have failed in his meditation last night. The masters had always said that the Force worked in mysterious ways, and so it had left him strangely when he had called upon its aid to let go of Master Roth. Its refusal to help, and his own inability to move beyond his bonds to Master Roth, only made that fact stronger. He needed to find Master Roth, the boy thought as he moved towards the door of the small cabin.

    A sound from his stomach interrupted his noble quest to remind him of more immediate needs.

    With an empty autochef and no foodstuffs stored in any of the cabins or cabinets around the vessel, the Jedi youth ultimately found himself wandering towards the city center of Carratos. The non-aligned world had fought vigilantly for its right to stay out of the war, and in respect for its wishes, Aedan had left his lightsaber concealed aboard the droid's vessel. He winced in a mental self-admonishment for leaving his weapon in such a vulnerable spot —for all the boy knew, the droid was programmed to take advantage of him— but it was the best of a bad situation. Taking it with would only provoke the planetary security, several of whom glanced his way as the padawan passed their watchful gaze.

    His pining stomach led him to the marketplace, a conspiracy he could surely blame on his nose. The aromas of fresh-picked foods, just-baked goods and prepared meals assaulted his nostrils, and Aedan could do nothing more than merely pick which booth he approached, for his legs had joined the conspiracy against him. A dozen loaves of hot bread were laid out before him, their tantalizing smells caused his mouth to water with the anticipation of biting through their crusty shell and tasting the gooey, moist innards. It felt as if he had not eaten for years, though it had only been a single day.

    As the proprietor approached, Aedan stuffed a hand in his pocket to pull out his currency to pay for the meal. A second later, his idle hand joined the first in his other pocket, both to no avail. Whatever credits he had once possessed were now gone, vanished. In earnest, the boy thought back to his travels, trying to remember where he might have left them. Perhaps on the droid's vessel, but he would have remembered it there. Maybe on the ship he borrowed to take to Bespin. Or perhaps in the firefight where he had been separated from the Clones. Whatever the case, the young Jedi had no coin to pay for his food, and he shook his head sadly at the baker.

    The suspicious food-maker fixed a wary gaze on the boy until he turned the corner. His stomach rumbling, and his body suddenly weaker for it, it was all Aedan could do to amble away from the source of food. He stumbled past a cantina on the last stretch of the market, and in a weakened daze, careened headlong into a patron who was exiting the tavern. The padawan stepped back, muttering his apologies as he glanced at the fellow, a well-built Human with a thick neck and rippling veins protruding from his arms. The look on the man's face gave the boy pause.

    "Well," said the heavily-muscled man, "What do we have here?" The overpowering scent of liquor tumbled out with his breath, offending Aedan's sensitive nose. The boy did his best not to make his disgust obvious, yet the drunk did him no such courtesies. Turning to his friends, two other humans that the youth noticed pulling up alongside, the man said with a smirk, "This here looks like one of them traitor fellows. He's got the robes and the hair-do for it."

    Traitor? The boy's mind whirled, reviewing the facts he knew about Carratos again. They were a Republic world, but remained neutral during the war, defending their neutrality almost to the point of violence. The Republic had backed off when it realized another push would send Carratos over to the Separatists, and with its close proximity to Coruscant, they couldn't risk giving away a strategic base so close to their capital. Since then, there had been an uneasy tension with Carratos, even though trade and travel had gone unhindered.

    It was possible these men were Separatist sympathizers, but why was he a traitor? The Jedi were their enemies, not traitors. The boy pondered this fact for a moment. No, he determined, he didn't think Separatist sympathizers would act so brazen on a planet like this, there were bound to be Republic agents in disguise walking the streets even now. They would see a Jedi being harassed and they wouldn't stand for it.

    Aedan didn't need their help.

    "Whoa, fellas, I don't want any trouble here," the boy cautioned, throwing up his hands before him. He took a step back, putting more distance between himself, the agitated man and his two —no, now it was one?— friends. The Jedi youth glanced around for the second as he took another step back, and felt a pair of warm hands settle on either side of his neck. He swallowed, hard, as he felt the burly palms grasp his shoulders. Their owner reeked of death sticks and liquor, and as Aedan pulled ahead to slip away, the hands tightened their grip. One of them patted his right shoulder in a faux-friendly gesture.

    "Yeah?" came the quick retort of the first man, his speech slurred by the effects of his drink, "Well, see, you're already causing trouble. Anyone who lays a hand on our Emperor is gonna to deal with us."

    Emperor? These lunatics were sounding stranger by the minute.

    Aedan need his Jedi training to see where this was going. He reached instinctively for the weapon at his side, only to realize that it wasn't there. Instead of hanging in its proper place, the padawan had left it purposefully aboard the droid's ship. He was supposed to be respecting the Carratosian's self-determination and willingness to police their own world. So where were the police?

    He looked up in time to see a fist full of hairy knuckles heading straight for his face.
  11. BB-4001A, #0080ff
    The Inner Rim

    The name of the place was The Rancor and Duke. It was a dive of a bar situated at the cross-roads of the mercantile and industrial sectors of O'phaz, somewhere that blue collar deadbeats could conspire to become white collar criminals and schmooze with the corporate enforcers who maintained the trade union's iron grip on control of the labor. For the amount of credits that the people inside didn't have, there was still a lot of violence to be had for the work that they tried to involve themselves in. The young droid took note of a chalk outline sketched on the sidewalk outside of the door to the establishment, only the most recent casualty of the mixture of class politics and economics.

    Walking over the corpse sketch, the big-haired youth made his way across the threshold and started inside of the proverbial rancor's den.

    A droid sensor situated in a foyer between the door and the establishment proper halted his step for a brief moment, as the dark skinned child moved a hand to a small article on his belt. A red light flashed green as the deceptively young figure passed by the sensor, without causing any alarm, then turned red again as the boy took his hand away. Most Human Replica Droids were designed with internal mechanisms intended to prevent detection as a droid; but, then, most Human Replica Droids weren't intended to operate openly as such. Even when he'd been a member of the Pendago family, it had been no secret what he was. So he'd learned a few tricks to get around the paranoia that organics felt around simulacrums.

    A few dismissive glances were the only welcome, people immediately deciding they were not interested in him or mistaking him for exactly what he appeared to be. Which was fine with him. The less people interested in his business, the better.

    The Duros was seated in a back corner table of the bar. As the boy's golden brown eyes scanned over him, the visual receptors were running a comparison against the holo image of his contact. The droid had sent out an advertisement on the Holo-Net channels ordinarily used by people such as these, cryptically worded with seemingly innocuous phrases used by the business and generated some interest. The Duro job seemed the best balance of profit and risk, a simple job slicing encryption from a datadisk. The droid hadn't asked what was on the disk, because he hadn't needed to. It was easy to surmise the job was related to either corporate espionage or embezzlement.

    The droid stopped at the bar without making eye contact with his client, passing off a Hutt coin for a frosted mug of fizzyglug - the drink serving to reinforce only the illusion that his appearance maintained as the young humanoid droid made his way from the bar to the back corner where the Duros sat in wait. The gray-skinned alien looked startled as the boy slid into the seat across from him, the surprise remaining in place as the youth produced a customized versapad and laid it on the table in front of him.

    "You were expected someone else?"
    the boy inquired flatly.

    "I thought you... taller," the Duros commented in reply, at last relaxing back into his chair. "I'd walk out now, except your reputation suggests you're precisely what I need," the alien added, holding up a small datadisk and then sliding it across the table.

    The droid frowned as he looked down at the item. Picking the disk up gently, the boy turned the object over in his hand, examining the proprietary markings on both sides, before he palmed it and looked over at his client. "You didn't say anything about the Banking Clan," the droid noted coldly.

    "Is there a problem?"

    The youth didn't reply right away, instead holding up the disk and examining it a moment longer. When he finally put it down again, the droid looked over at the Duros and said only, "Seventeen."

    "Twelve thousand," the Duros countered firmly, his voice dropping to a whisper as he put a small pouch down on the table top. "All in advance."

    The droid looked at the drugat purse, then at the Duros, then down to his versapad as he inserted the datadisk into it and spent a minute quietly working at his datapad. "So the war is over," the youth noted in a conversational tone, as he looked up and set the versapad off to the side of the table. "That can't be good for your profits," the boy noted, leaning forward with his elbows on the table.

    The Duros merely took a sip of his own drip. "Shouldn't you be working?"

    "You'll find I'm very good at multi-tasking," the droid answered cryptically.

    The alien gave a grunt, his head turning toward the versapad as he realized that it was running a series of programs on its own. Glancing back to the slicer droid, the Duros inclined his head and answered, "The war isn't over. There are still Separatist worlds for the Empire to conquer. The civilian casualties ought to provide plenty of demand for our product."

    "War is good for business," the droid noted coolly.

    "Business is war, Mister Pendago," the alien countered evenly.

    "Now there is a sentiment I can agree with," the droid remarked, raising his drink in a toast to his client. As the Duros returned the gesture and drank, the boy merely set his untouched mug aside. Twelve thousand would cover the expenses on this world and leave them some profit for traveling off world. But, the question remained, where would they go from here?
  12. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 If one had inquired of the Jedi Masters the other day —before the new galactic order came to be and a darker, harsher reality set in— and asked about Aedan Avicii, they might have heard a sigh from the master before hearing about the boy's proclivities for mischief. His status as a troubleseeker was renown throughout the temple, a statement that the padawan had once donned with a measure of pride. His aptitude for trickery and escapades were certainly the highlight of his time spent there, a truth that Master Roth would have, no doubt, been disappointed to hear.

    Regardless of his less-than-professional behavior, Aedan would not have succeeded as a student of the Jedi Order if he had not suffered the same lessons and drills as his clan-mates. The hours of patterned footwork, repeated movements, and measured reactions to whatever their instructors threw at him and his peers were not a waste on the young Jedi. His training was not a switch or lever to be turned on, but rather a spring, wound up and ready to uncoil the slightest hint of space.

    In the span of a breath, the reflexes that he had honed through years of training uncoiled, and Aedan moved.

    Shrugging out of the brown, nondescript robe that had draped his shoulders, the black-haired boy broke free of the grip that still held fast onto the now-useless fabric. Free to maneuver, he danced, his arms spinning out as Aedan pirouetted around the charging fist, and its owner. Placing a foot on the ground before his inebriated assailant, Aedan leaned back out of the way as he brought his arms to cross in front of his small frame. He watched with a satisfied grin as his foot connected with the unprepared boots of the man, sending him sprawling into the waiting arms of his friend.

    And so it began.

    "Hey!" came the cry from the third opponent, a thin Human that had stood mostly aloof until now. Seeing his leader downed, and the burly man occupied, this one finally called up the courage to act.

    The fact that it took courage to assault a Jedi kid was a testament to the stupidity of the situation.

    The thin one barreled forward, his impromptu strategy an easy one for the boy to work out. The teen whirled, keeping his distance from the untangling mess of the other two, and rounded the thin opponent. Placing his hands on the man's back, Aedan gave him a small shove.

    Well, a small shove with a kick of the Force.

    Number three went down, but one and two were back up and circling, hunting for a weak spot. Aedan circled, too, hunting for an avenue of escape.

    The thick one lunged, and the boy ducked.

    The burly one grabbed, and the youth whirled away.

    The thin one, back in the fight again, charged, and the padawan merely stepped out of his way.

    Aedan soon fell into the dance of Makashi, stepping to the familiar rhythm as he would under Roth's watchful tutelage. His move, their move; his move, their move; his move, their move.

    Aedan's grace only sustained him for a little while, for in a moment's eye, he miscalculated his step and set his foot down too soon. His momentum got the better of him, sending the boy on a small tumble which he turned into a somersault. Relieved that he was not caught at a disadvantage, the Jedi youth stood and found himself wrapped into the burly man's giant arms.

    The thick man stepped forward, the gleam in his eye easy to read. Behind him, Aedan could faintly make out the figures of security forces rushing their way. He let out a small sigh of relief, glad that help was finally on the way. Apparently, the Jedi youth could use some, despite his earlier convictions.

    His opponent's fist made it there first, connecting Aedan's flesh, a blow to the stomach that knocked the rest of the wind from the boy's lungs. He doubled over as the burly man released him, gasping against the dusty, gravel road. Legs curled under him as the padawan rocked with pain, but they soon straightened again as he felt two pairs of arms underneath his own, lifting him, moving him. The boy cried out as his stomach stretched, reeling against the waves of pain that assaulted his body as he continued to gasp for breath.

    It wasn't until the forcefield snapped into place that Aedan realized that the security forces were not going to help him, after all.
  13. BB-4001A, #0080ff
    The Inner Rim

    The young looking droid's hands meticulously plugged away at the versapad in his lap, pausing a moment to look over the information on the screen before he merely nodded and retrieved the datadisk from out of the side of the customized datapad. The boy passed the disk over to the Duros, who passed the small coin purse across the table at the same time. The exchange was made, with the droid coming away twelve thousand trugats richer for about an hour's worth of work. It should have been more, but the droid wasn't in a position to be able to bargain. He couldn't get up and walk away from a potential client, whereas the Duros could have easily found another slicer.

    The encryption protocols on the datadisk were more or less the norm for the Intergalactic Banking Clan, though the droid recognized one or two new quirks to the software programming meant to ensure data security. It wasn't the most robust security. If he had to guess, the information contained wasn't a high value corporate target. Account numbers perhaps. Or records of invoices.

    "A pleasure, Mister Pendago," the Duros remarked simply, almost mockingly, as the gray-skinned alien stood from the table and then proceeded out of the establishment. Left alone at the table with the fizzyglub that had remained untouched through the evening, the young droid collapsed the versapad and returned it to the carrying case on his belt.

    He wouldn't follow the client out of the bar. That would do too much to imply that they were together, combined with the fact that the client knew that the boy was carrying twelve thousand trugats on him. Information he could have shared with anyone here or outside in order to get his money back. So the droid settled back in the chair, surveying the interior of the establishment, calculating possible alternate egress routes and - beyond the departure from this location - possible points of departure from Carratos.

    The planet closest to a new Galactic Empire's capital, which was already in the process of forcibly assimilating other planets, seemed a very choice of place to be. They would need an unaligned world somewhere outside of the fighting. Outer Rim was the best venue by far.

    The Separatist War had been bad enough. In some ways, the end of the war seemed even more chaotic.

    Glancing up to a Holo-Net feed overhead, the boy allowed his processors to work on the variables for the different calculations he was running, shifting a portion of his attention to the news.

    "...and that's your weather. Outrage in O'phaz tonight, as the arrest of a Jedi terrorist on Carratos has prompted demands for extradition to the former Galactic Republic, now the Galactic Empire..."

    "Jedi terrorist?" the droid uttered under his breath. His dark eyes blinked as he tried to process that statement. He didn't have any love for the Jedi, but he knew what a terrorist was. The combination of Jedi and terrorist was a complete oxymoron, by any standard. Leaning forward in his seat, the droid shifted more of his attention toward the Holo-News feed.

    "...once a renown institution throughout the galaxy, the Holy Order of Jedi Knights went into decline prior to the Clone Wars, where their position as generals of the Grand Army of the Republic drew intense criticism. The Jedi were declared traitors as a result of an attempted assassination upon then Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and the Imperial Office of the Special Prosecutor has a standing fugitive warrant calling for the arrest of any and all Jedi."

    Well, that was it. If they were arresting Jedi, then it was time to go. Popping out of his seat, the droid started for the door as, internally, he activated the commlink that was part of his own internal anatomy. "Gee, get to the ship and prepare to take-off," the droid projected, opening a signal and simulating the audio data without ever actually saying a word. He started to ping the Jedi kid's commlink as well. Unfortunately, by virtue of the bargain that he'd made, the droid couldn't leave Carratos without the meatbag.

    "...the terror suspect captured on O'phaz is alleged to be former Padawan and Jedi Commander Aedan Avicii..."

    Caught in the doorway as he overheard the news clip, the droid swung around to stare up at the Holo-Net, before a single word left his lips.

  14. Aedan Avicii, #FF9933 It turned out that life in prison wasn't all that bad. The boy enjoyed a full meal served on a bare, metal tray, settling his aching stomach. With his belly full, and the food vying with bruised muscles for priority, Aedan suddenly felt exhausted. The hard, metal benches offered little comfort, so the padawan made his own, stripping off his tunic as a makeshift pillow. Laying back on the cool durasteel bench, with the rolled-up tunic under his head, the boy drifted off into a blissful slumber.

    "He's just some kid, Cap'n."

    "Don't let his looks deceive you, Sergeant. That's a Jedi right there."

    The words wafted through the padawan's ears as he lay on the bench, gently roused from his nap by the voices. He lay still, pausing as to not interrupt the conversation. Perhaps he would learn something that would otherwise go unsaid.

    "They let kids be Jedi?"

    "They start 'em young. I hear they take them as babies, teach them all the Jedi stuff from before they can walk, and get them armed with the mystical Force voodoo and trained with a laser sword."

    Aedan felt a pang of guilt at that comment. His lightsaber was still back on board the droid's ship. If it was even there anymore, it was possible the droid had turned him in, alerting the security forces to his presence. The boy still had no idea why he was confined in this cell to begin with, but if there was someone out to get the Jedi, they must be very powerful to have corrupted law enforcement so close to the Core.

    "Where's his?"

    "I dunno, maybe he dropped it." The boy let out a small sigh of relief at the revelation that his lightsaber was still safe. Or, at the very least, not in the hands of the planet's security forces. "But he's a Jedi alright, the eye scan pegged him as Commander Aedan Avicii."


    "It's the rank the Republic gave Jedi younglings so the Clone Troopers would have someone to take orders from. Before they all turned traitor, you know."

    Traitor? There it was again, that word. Why did everyone think the Jedi were traitors?

    "Right. They tried to kill Emperor Palpatine or someat."

    "And almost succeeded. Thank the stars they didn't, or we'd all be sitting under the Jedi's thumb right now."

    The Jedi did what?! Aedan nearly bolted upright, it took all his measured strength to keep himself still. So this is what the galaxy was upset about, he thought to himself. Certainly, Aedan could see why they might be, if it was at all true. But it wasn't. It couldn't be. The Jedi didn't assassinate people, that was for the Sith. That just wasn't the Jedi way.

    Somehow, someway, the Chancellor —now Emperor— thought the Jedi had attacked him. Maybe he made it all up himself, but Aedan had always thought highly of the Chancellor. The man seemed like a good person from what he had heard, and from his own experience drawn from the sole occasion that he had met Palpatine. He was a politician, sure, and did some things that made life hard for the Jedi, but he was still a good man. What motive would he have had to declare the Jedi traitors and condemn them to death?

    In his mind's eye, Aedan saw again the face he had seen on the holoscreen in the droid's starship. The haunted look of Anakin Skywalker, but not quite Skywalker, as if someone else had taken up his face. Aedan shuddered to think of the possibilities, his imagination ran wild with a hundred scenarios, each as unlikely as the next. Eventually, they all circled back to his present scenario, and the boy once again noticed the officers talking.

    "Enough oggling now, you've got reports to write, Janson."


    The feeling was growing inside him. The padawan had felt it on the training field, when facing his opponent. Or, in a similar manner, when debating with the Masters about his behavior. But these emotions, the frustration, the petty anger, were nothing compared to what he experienced now.

    The two peace officers were joking about the fate of his brothers and sisters. His master. Joking about their deaths as if the JEdi were nothing more than a pack of wild dogs. Or droids. Unintelligent. Unfeeling. Inconsequential to put down when they became inconvenient.

    Aedan was not an inconvenience!

    The rage boiled underneath his skin, roiling within his very blood. His teeth clenched, and the very action surprised him, but Aedan did not relax. His breathing grew steady, methodical, as his thoughts brewed, stewing a plan which his master would have never endorsed. A plan the went against all the teachings of the Jedi. Yet the boy knew in his heart that this was something he had to do. He had to get revenge.

    Footsteps announced the departure of the captain, leaving the junior sergeant alone in the cellblock. Aedan laid on the durasteel bench for a time, his eyes no more than slivers, watching and waiting to see what the sergeant would do. For the most part, it seemed as if the young officer was following orders to a trill; a duteous, little cop. The senior officer, the one the sergeant called Captain, sounded too smart for his drawl. Aedan would get nowhere with him. But the subordinate had promise.

    After a time, Aedan sat up. He put on a show of yawning and donning his tunic once more. The sergeant looked up once, and then turned back to his work. The padawan was going to need something more to get his attention.

    "Umm, Sergeant Janson?" the Jedi youth called in his smallest voice.

    There was a small delay before the gruff reply came, "What do you want?"

    "I'm hungry," the boy whined.

    The man glanced up, his eyes looking past Aedan. He seemed bored. "You just ate," he said flatly.

    Aedan pleaded again, "I know, but I'm still hungry!"

    "Next meal is in 6 hours."

    The sergeant put his head back down and went back to work. Grumbling to himself, the boy reworked his plan. This peace officer wasn't as dumb as he sounded. That didn't mean he couldn't still be convinced to do the right thing. Slowly, the padawan unfolded the weapon every child has hidden away, a sound that few adults could easily ignore. The whimpers started softly, and then grew as the sobs heaved from his chest.

    "Oh, for crying out loud.." the sound of the desk sergeant standing could be heard, and his feet plodded the distance between his desk and Aedan's cell. The boy sat still, letting his cries do his work for him, until the peace officer was just at the edge of the forcefield.

    Rising up, Aedan crossed the distance between his bench and the force-field in a split second. To the sergeant, it might have seemed like the padawan was sitting one moment, and standing before him the next. With his eyes clear of any tears, and his mind poised to act, the boy waved his hand in front of the sergeant's face, knowing the man's full attention was turned towards him. "You will let me out."

    Nodding, the man repeated his instructions back to the Jedi youth. Aedan's face stayed still, his expression flat as he waited for the sergeant to carry out his duty. The man crossed the short distance to the command console, and pressed a few buttons. His hand moved over to the right side of the panel, where the release button likely resided, and—

    "Just what do you think you're doing, Janson?"

    The startled sergeant turned his head, his hands moving away. Aedan swore under his breath, the force field was still up and his freedom was only inches away. As he heard the sergeant stammering to his captain, the boy focused his mind. It would take all of his willpower to manipulate someone who wasn't paying attention to him, but it was worth the try.

    "You will release me," the boy cried, imposing his will once more upon the weakling Janson. The sergeant stiffed and seemed to hesitate, before going slack. He turned and raised his arm towards the panel once more. His eyes widening with the realization of what was going on, the security captain pushed the sergeant aside easily, knocking the younger man down to the ground.

    "He's trying to use his Jedi tricks!" the captain cried.

    Aedan was frantic, he was so close! Without thinking, he waved his hand, thrusting it out and grasping air, his mind extending his grip for him. Then he pulled back, dragging his captured target to the button. The captain watched with a helpless expression as his hand plunged towards the console, and activated the release button, disabling the force field of padawan's cell.

    The boy sprang into action, dashing out past the doorway and into the prison foyer. He ignored the cries of the peace officers, and made a beeline for the downed sergeant. It only took a moment to grab the stun baton hooked into the man's belt loop, and now Aedan had a weapon again.

    Then again, he wasn't planning to stick around to use it.
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