Gray Jedi Ch. 11 "Entering the Jedha system now," Serra said. "Any sign we've been followed?" "Doesn't appear so, but I'm gonna keep the cloaking systems up to be on the safe side," Malik replied.
"There's NaJedha. Its largest moon is our destination." "Did the holocron give any indication of the specific location of the kyber mines?" Malik asked.
"No, it was pretty cryptic," Serra shrugged. "All it said was 'we are one with the Force, and the Force is with us'. Nothing specific." "Sounds like something known only to the Jedi Council. These kyber crystals are one of the most heavily guarded secrets of the Order. I suppose we ought to start looking in the Holy City?" Malik offered. "It's as good a place as any to start our search." "Morning," said Rex, entering the cockpit.
"Morning, Rex… whoa!" Malik gasped. "Huh? What's… holy crap!" Serra agreed. "Whatcha think? Ya like it?" Rex asked with a grin. Rex's hair had grown longer in his time with Malik and Serra, and he had also decided to stop shaving.
A full beard was beginning to come in, giving him a bit of breathing room in being instantly recognized as a clone, and he had further disguised himself by dying his hair blonde. Even though his beard had a ways to go before it was fully-grown and his hair was basically just a buzz cut, the changes were quite striking. One would have to look very close to determine that he was a clone. "It's kind of shocking, but I have to admit… blonde looks good on you," Serra said.
"To be fair, you're kinda partial to blondes," Malik teased her, pointing to his own blonde hair. "True enough," Rex agreed. "Did the dye job in the shower this morning.
I figured I ought to try and blend in a bit more so I'm not noticed so easily. A stray clone wandering around out of uniform is bound to attract unwanted attention." "Good thinking, Rex," said Malik. Jax and Laranth soon arrived as well, having been roused by the ship's alert of their arrival in the Jedha system.
Laranth appeared quite chipper, but Jax seemed quieter than usual to Malik's eye, maybe even a little grumpy. Both were appropriately surprised by Rex's new look, but Jax gave a nod of approval, having dyed his own brown hair pitch black a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Serra continued to guide them towards the Jedha moon. "Scope isn't picking up any Imperial presence in the system.
We're probably safe to deactivate the cloaking device," Malik offered. "Agreed. I think we'll actually be able to dock in a hangar for once!" Serra laughed. "The Empire has no interest in a secluded desert moon inhabited by monks and pilgrims, after all." "Hopefully, we can keep it that way," Malik mused.
"Remind me again why we're here?" Jax asked. Malik replied, "Last night, Serra and I were reviewing the holocrons we managed to swipe from the vault. One of them detailed the locations of the Jedi Order's kyber crystals. We all know of the ice caves on Ilum, but there is apparently a vast mine of raw kyber crystals somewhere on this moon. Its exact location isn't detailed, so I can only assume the Jedi Council has kept it a secret for safety purposes.
In any case, it's safe to think that the Ilum caves are relatively well protected from intruders, and may even have some Jedi hiding out in them, but we don't know what protections the mines on Jedha might have. If we can find them, we may be able to strengthen their defenses and ensure the crystals remain hidden from the Empire." "Wow… if the Emperor were to find out where kyber crystals grew, he would be one step closer to preventing the Jedi from ever returning," Laranth gasped.
"Exactly. If there is anything we can do to prevent that from happening, we have a responsibility to do so," Malik nodded. "But where do we look? It's a vast moon; the mines could literally be anywhere," said Jax. "We're thinking we ought to start with the Holy City.
It's about the only heavily populated area of the moon," Serra mentioned. "I know we don't have much to go on, but I feel like we need to at least look for them." "I agree," Rex said, ending his long silence.
"I don't know much about these kyber crystals, but if they have any sort of significance to the Jedi, it's only a matter of time before the Emperor tries to wipe them out for good. He doesn't just want to make sure the Jedi never return; he also wants to create a mindset amongst the citizens of the galaxy that will keep them from questioning him.
Eradicating all traces of the Jedi Order makes it clear who's really in charge." "Good point," Jax nodded. As Serra broke through the atmosphere, the group could see Jedha City ahead of them, situated atop a grand mesa. Far from the expansive metropolis that was Coruscant, it gave the feel of a small town community. Vendors and merchants lined the streets, and the entire city felt like a large marketplace. In the center of it all was a large rock formation with doors built into the sides.
"What is that?" Laranth asked in wonder. "I believe that is the Church of the Force," Malik replied. "Many pilgrims who believe in the Force travel to this moon from across the galaxy. I wonder if the monks in the church know anything about the kyber mines?" "Could be. We'll start our search there." Picking up the comlink, Serra said, "Come in, tower.
This is the Middle Way, requesting permission to land. Over." "Copy that. Permission granted to land in hangar 1138. Over." "Understood. Thank you, tower. Over and out." As the ship landed, Malik turned to the rest of the crew. "Gonna be cold, so better bundle up. This may be a desert moon, but it's also an eternal winter out there." Checking the supply closet, Jax said, "Not much available. We've got some simple cloaks that'll do for now, but we're gonna need more durable cold weather gear than this." "We should be able to find something more suitable in the market," Laranth remarked.
"Good call. You three head to the market to gear up while Serra and I check out the Church of the Force," Malik replied. "Will do. We'll meet you there when we're finished," Rex said. "But how are we to pay? We have almost no money to our names," Laranth said.
"I'll get you some petty cash from our safe. A… friend of the Jedi Order helped us out shortly after Order 66," Serra answered, thinking of Bail Organa. "He outfitted us with supplies and even gave us a sizable amount of emergency funds.
We have plenty, just don't spend too much," she said with a wink. "We'll pay you back," Jax said. "We're in this together, Jax," Malik replied.
"We were in your debt, now you're in our debt… if we keep score like that, this'll go on forever. Let's just say that we're friends and crewmates and leave it at that. No debts to be repaid." Jax sighed at seeing the stubbornness in Malik's eyes. "Fine. You win." ***** "Wow… this is amazing," Serra gasped, gazing up at the structure they were about to enter.
"Yep, the Church of the Force. Let's check it out." Pushing open the large doors, Serra and Malik soon found themselves inside a large sanctuary. Torches lined the walls to provide dim lighting, allowing them to see a large number of benches around the room. At the front stood a simple altar bearing the emblem of the Jedi Order. On the wall behind the altar was a banner displaying the Jedi Creed. "Welcome, travelers," came a deep voice. The two Jedi turned to see a tall human male approaching them.
He had tanned skin and dark black hair tied back into a ponytail, along with a moustache and beard on his face. A simple black robe adorned his body, giving him the appearance of a holy man. "Hello. My name is Malik, and this is my wife, Serra." "Well met, Malik and Serra. I am Baze Malbus, one of the Guardians of the Whills," the man replied with a smile. "Guardians of the Whills?" Serra inquired.
"We are the keepers and protectors of this sacred temple," Baze replied. "Though none of us are sensitive to the Force, it is nonetheless a guiding presence in our lives. Pilgrims travel from across the galaxy to visit our humble abode and learn the ways of the Church of the Force." "Wow, you must meet so many different kinds of people here," Malik said.
"Indeed. The Force touches all peoples across all races and walks of life." "I happened to notice the emblem of the Jedi on your altar up there. Does that mean that the Jedi come here too?" Malik asked. "We have met the occasional Jedi Knight over the years, but I have not known a Jedi to come here in quite some time. I surmise it is because they have had their hands full with the war," Baze replied. "From what I have heard, the Jedi were defeated and have gone into hiding," came a voice from a nearby hallway.
Malik and Serra turned to see a man of about thirty joining them. He wore the same black robes as Baze and also had tanned skin, but his face was clean-shaven and his hair was cut very short. As he came into view, both Jedi immediately noticed why he walked carefully with a staff: the man was blind. Yet in spite of this handicap, he moved with grace and confidence, never once doubting where he was. "Ah, good of you to join us, Chirrut. May I introduce our traveling visitors, Malik and Serra?" Baze said.
"A pleasure, my friends. I am Chirrut Îmwe of the Guardians of the Whills." "We're glad to be here, Chirrut," Serra replied. "Did you say that you received news of the Jedi all the way out here?" "Not so much news as it was rumors," Chirrut chuckled.
"Many traders and pilot pass by here to replenish their supplies, and whispers have circulated as to the fate of the Jedi. Some say the new Emperor has eradicated them for a massive takeover attempt. Others say the Jedi managed to escape and are in hiding, waiting for an opportunity to strike back." "I have heard those rumors," Malik grinned.
"Of course, if the Jedi had managed to survive, I suspect some are resourceful enough to hide in plain sight." Chirrut cocked his head at this, seeming to detect something in Malik's voice.
He walked up to the man with a huge smile on his face and placed a hand on Malik's shoulder. "We are one with the Force," Chirrut said.
Remembering the holocron, Malik replied, "And the Force is with us." With a hearty laugh, Chirrut dropped his staff and wrapped Malik in a hug. Malik coughed at this, realizing the blind man was stronger than he let on. "I just knew the Jedi would live on!" Chirrut exclaimed. "Yes, yes, now keep your voice down, you fool," Baze chuckled. "Of course, I apologize," Chirrut said, composing himself.
"What just happened?" Serra asked. "Serra, you remember the cryptic message from the holocron?
We are one with the Force and the Force is with us? When Chirrut here said the first half of it, I figured out that it had to be some sort of password," Malik replied. "Wait, does that mean you know something about… the kyber crystals?" Serra inquired of Baze and Chirrut. "In fact, we Guardians of the Whills are the protectors of the kyber mines," Baze grinned. "How do you know of them? You must have the permission of the Jedi Council to come asking about them." "Unfortunately… the Jedi Council is no more," Malik replied.
"The Emperor made them his top targets to be eliminated in his power grab, knowing they would be the greatest threat to his authority.
To our knowledge, none survived. We managed to salvage a holocron from the Jedi Temple, which told us of the existence of kyber crystals here on Jedha." "We thought we should come here to ensure they had been given ample protections.
Can't risk the Emperor getting his hands on them," Serra agreed. "I can assure you they are in capable hands, but if you wish to see for yourselves, I would be honored to show you," Chirrut said. "Thank you," Serra replied. At that moment, the main doors opened once more, and Jax, Laranth, and Rex entered the sanctuary. Having discarded their simple cloaks, the three were now properly geared up for cold weather.
Laranth now wore a black form-fitting leather coat with a turtleneck and a knitted headband to keep her head and the base of her lekku warm. Jax had opted for a brown pilot's jacket, adding a scarf around his neck for additional warmth. As for Rex, he now wore a thick hunter's coat and a hat that concealed his ears and the back of his head, further allowing him to hide the fact that he was a clone defector. "Good timing, guys," Malik said. "We've come to the right place. Chirrut, Baze, these are our friends, Jax, Laranth, and Rex.
They're on the run with us." "Well met," Baze said, extending a hand to Rex. "Indeed. Welcome to the Church of the Force," Chirrut agreed, shaking Laranth's hand. "Why thank you," Laranth replied. "Oh, you… you are…" "Blind?" Chirrut grinned.
"It is alright; I take no offense to the truth. And judging by your accent, I would venture a guess that you, my dear lady, are Twi'lek, yes?" "A rather easy guess," Laranth giggled. "Perhaps, but further, I would say that you are… of the plains of Ryloth. Perhaps… a green Twi'lek, am I right?" "Oh my, you are!" Laranth gasped, blushing at the attentions of the handsome monk.
"If I may, we should be going if we wish to reach the mines well before nightfall," Baze said in a hushed voice. "Of course. Come," Chirrut agreed, leading the group out the door. ***** As the group strolled through the streets of Jedha City, Malik couldn't shake the feeling that they were being followed. He had not picked up on anything with his own eyes, but his instincts were screaming that something was amiss. A quick glance at Serra indicated that she also felt something. "Chirrut, is someone tailing us?" Malik whispered.
"I believe so," he replied. "From the southeast." Catching a glimpse over his shoulder of a hooded individual, Malik nodded and gestured for the group to separate. Malik and Serra went one direction, Laranth and Chirrut another, Jax and Baze yet another, and Rex another still. Turning down a nearby alley, Malik kept an eye out for the stranger and saw him on the other side of the street. He didn't appear to be after any of the Jedi, but he was drawing close to Rex.
Before Malik could warn him, the stranger had grabbed Rex and tossed him into another abandoned alley. "Shit! Rex is in trouble!" Malik cursed.
Serra ran right behind him as Malik converged on the alley, finding a tall, dark-skinned human male with a blaster drawn on Rex. "Time for retribution, Imperial scum," he muttered. "Drop the weapon. You're outnumbered," Malik commanded. Rex's assailant looked over his shoulder at Serra and Malik, followed soon by the rest of their party. "Stay out of this.
This is between me and the clone," he growled. "You did a pretty good disguise job, but I'd recognize a clone anywhere," he continued, turning his attention back to Rex. "Son, do not make us kill you," Jax said, a firm hand on the hilt of his lightsaber. "Jax, I can handle this," Rex said, waving him off. Looking up, he continued, "It's good to see you again, Saw." "SHUT UP! How do you know my name?!" the young man demanded. "Know you? I trained you!" Rex laughed.
"I trained you, your sister, and your group of ragtag rebels on Onderon. Hearing of your efforts to beat back the Separatists made this old soldier so proud, Saw Gerrera." "Captain Rex?!" "That's me." "You are still a blasted clone!
That means you serve the Empire now, and my purpose in this new galaxy is to kill Imperials by the dozen!" Saw seethed. "I defected!" Rex protested. "I figured out something bad was going to happen to the Jedi, so I removed my inhibitor chip that prevented me from disobeying orders. I'm a fugitive now." "It's true," Serra said, placing a gentle hand on Saw's elbow. "If your fight is with the Empire, he's not your enemy. Put the gun down." "I'm just supposed to believe you?" Saw pressed.
"I need you to trust me, as Steela did," Rex replied. Choking up at hearing his sister's name, Saw's hand began to shake as he slowly lowered his weapon back into its holster. "When I heard the reports of the Clone Army turning on the Jedi," Saw managed, "I knew there was no way the Jedi had betrayed the Republic." "You're right about that," Rex said, rising to his feet. "The Emperor had it planned from the beginning. Every last clone soldier had a secret program embedded within them that would force them to turn on the Jedi.
All Palpatine had to do was give the order. As far as I've seen, I'm the only one that managed to resist, and only because I removed my chip a few months ago." "He's telling the truth. All of us are fugitives from the Empire, except these two," Malik said, pointing at Baze and Chirrut. "He's still the same old Captain Rex." "Rex, I… I almost killed you!" Saw realized. "I could've shot you!" "Ah, it's alright. No big deal," Rex laughed. "Nothin' I haven't faced every day for the last several years!" "Still…" "Tell ya what?
Let's you and me go have a drink. That's the usual custom when former teammates meet up again, right?" "Yeah… yeah, sounds good!" Saw agreed. "Will you guys be ok without me for a while?" Rex asked. "Shouldn't be a problem. Our destination is about a quarter day's ride into the desert, so we should be back late tonight," Chirrut replied. "Perfect. Saw and I will be at that tavern we passed a little while back," Rex said. ***** "It's them. I'm sure of it." "Hmm… the Twi'lek for sure, but the humans look a bit different from their mug shots.
No beards on the guys, one of 'em has black hair instead of brown…" "Still, it's them." "What about that one? I suppose he could be the clone defector, but then he might not be.
Hard to tell." "If I can get just a bit closer, I'll confirm for certain that's him. After all, who would know better than me?" "You're right about that, my friend. Look, they're splitting up." "I'll stay on the clone.
You tail the rest. Do not engage until we're certain we have the advantage. Let's not waste the element of surprise." "Well, look at you. Fast learner, you are." "I was raised by the best…" ***** Baze Malbus piloted the skiff with precision across the surface of Jedha.
Though the sun was high in the sky, the air was cold and dry, keeping everyone alert throughout their journey to the kyber mines. While Malik, Serra, and Jax sat on a bench seat on one side of the skiff, Laranth sat close to Chirrut on the other side. "You must be very strong with the Force," she remarked.
"You walk everywhere with such confidence, despite your blindness." "You are kind, but also incorrect," Chirrut grinned. "My entire life, I have been unable to touch the Force, no matter how hard I have tried." "What? Are you saying you are not Force-sensitive?" Laranth asked. "That is correct." "But how? How are you able to move with such grace?" "Because I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me," Chirrut replied, repeating his mantra.
"Even though I cannot call on the Force of my own choosing, I am still touched by it every day. Through the will of the Force, my other senses have increased several times over, allowing me to hear even the smallest disturbances around me." "And determine what color Twi'lek you're speaking to by her accent," Laranth giggled. "Precisely." Across from them, Jax gave a derisive snort at seeing Laranth growing fond of the blind man.
She whipped her head around and glared at him in warning, but said nothing otherwise. Unknown to either of them, Chirrut heard everything, confirming a suspicion he already had. At that time, the skiff began to slow as it approached a mountainous area.
"We're here," Baze said, piloting them into a small cave. "I'll stay here and keep watch. Chirrut, can you show them what they need to see?" "Absolutely. Here, everyone grab a pack of supplies. We're going underground, so it will get extremely cold.
Each backpack has a personal emergency heater should you need it." Once everyone had their gear, Chirrut led the group down a set of carved stairs within the cave. Though the Jedi had to remain on alert to keep up in the dark, even with lamps, Chirrut pressed on without hesitation.
He was, after all, a man living in eternal darkness; a cave did nothing to frighten him. Soon, the group reached a large stone door. "Here it is. Stand back, please," Chirrut said. Reaching out with his hands, Chirrut began to feel for the engraving on the surface of the door.
Malik and Jax shined their lights in his direction and saw that he was twisting a trio of stone circles, each within the previous one. After several minutes of making sure everything was aligned, Chirrut pressed the circles into the door, causing the ridges on them to light up and form the emblem of the Jedi. A moment later, the door whooshed open. "Follow me, my friends, and be careful not to touch anything," Chirrut said, beginning to work his way through the winding tunnels.
"Great idea: the blind leading the blind. What could go wrong?" Malik remarked, eliciting nervous laughter from the group. "Of course, as Master Kenobi would say, 'Who is truly blind? The blind man leading, or the blind womp rats following'?" Serra replied. "In fact, I have heard him use that precise saying," Chirrut chuckled. "Master Kenobi was one of the Jedi that helped us redesign our defenses a few years ago. He and Master Yoda arrived one day and told us that a great war had just begun and that the Sith were on the rise once more.
They were the last Jedi we had seen until today." "Must have been right after the First Battle of Geonosis," Jax realized. "Indeed.
Be careful where you step, my friends. Our modifications are specifically designed to ensnare Force-sensitive individuals, and the Sith in particular," Chirrut warned. "Wow… what is this?" Laranth whispered. "It looks like a carving of… a kyber crystal!" "That's really intricate," Jax agreed, stepping up close behind her to get a better look.
"Huh… there's some writing at the bottom, but it's covered in dust." As Jax began to wipe away the dust, Chirrut shouted, "Don't touch that!" It was too late. Jax's touch had triggered a trapdoor beneath him and Laranth, sending them down a chute.
They slid down a short ways before the chute deposited them into a square holding cell of some kind. All four walls were made of solid metal, with only a single door and a small window to see out of.
"Ah!" "Laranth, you alright?" Jax asked, landing on top of her. "Yes… yes, I'm fine," she replied, realizing his body weight was on top of her and their faces inches apart. Laranth rather liked that. "Um…" "Oh, sorry!" Jax said, rolling off of her. "Quite alright," she said with a tiny smile.
"Guess we should have listened to Chirrut's warning not to touch anything." "Guess so. All right, lemmie see if I can get us out of here," he sighed. Jax drew his red-bladed lightsaber and stabbed at the door, attempting to cut open an exit. To his utter shock, the door resisted him, bearing not so much as a scratch.
He tried once again with greater force, but the door still rebuffed him. "What the hell?" "Are you ok?" Laranth asked. "Yeah, but whatever this cell's made of, there's no cutting through it." "Perhaps there is a more subtle way." Placing her hand on the door, Laranth reached out with the Force, attempting to undo the latch.
For several minutes she worked, but found no success. At last, she slumped down on the ground, panting from exertion. "It's no good… the metal resisted my attempts to undo the latch." "What kind of cell is this?" Jax wondered.
"One specifically designed to hold Jedi…" ***** Malik and Serra tried to get to them in time to help, but Jax and Laranth were already long gone, the trapdoor sealing itself shut.
Malik attempted to open it with the Force, but found it impossible to move. "Chirrut, what gives?!" Malik demanded. "It is a safeguard," the monk explained. "They have fallen into one of our holding cells for intruders. The cells, as well as the trapdoors, are made of Mandalorian iron." "Wait, how the hell did you find Mandalorian iron?!" Serra demanded.
"That stuff is the most durable metal in the galaxy; it's the only thing able to withstand the strength of a lightsaber!" Continuing down the tunnel, Chirrut smiled and began to explain, "There was a pilgrim who came to visit us several years ago, well before Obi-Wan's visit at the start of the war.
He was a Mandalorian who had come seeking to understand the ways of the Force. This struck us as quite odd, as most Mandalorians do not value the Force. As I spoke with him, it became clear that he was disillusioned with the constant civil war on his home world. The ruling class was peaceful, yet filled with corrupt bureaucrats and politicians concerned only with their own power. Conversely, the traditionalist outcasts were nothing but bloodthirsty warmongers.
Were they to gain power, they would turn the Mandalorians into nothing but conquerors. For decades, this man worked with a group of likeminded individuals in an effort to find a middle path, but to no avail. The ruling class saw them as naïve and shut them out of all political discussions, while the traditionalists saw them as weak and not 'true Mandalorians'." "What happened to him?" Serra asked.
Chirrut continued, "As you can imagine, the poor man was frustrated at being shunned by everyone on Mandalore. As such, he began to search for a better way to live his life, leading him to the Church of the Force, and eventually to us.
After seeing how we lived and the peace we had attained through our dedication to the Force, even being unable to use it of our own accord, the man expressed a desire to join us as a Guardian of the Whills. Of course, in order to join our brotherhood, one must make a sacrifice of some sort. As his sacrifice, this man gave us a large supply of Mandalorian ore, as well as the knowledge and means to process it into Mandalorian iron.
At first, we did not realize how great a sacrifice this was, but he went on to explain that the ore is perhaps the most valuable natural resource produced by Mandalore. Moreover, the knowledge of how to process it into iron is a carefully guarded secret that outsiders are not permitted to know.
Thus, we designated one of our brothers to learn the secrets of this process and, for the protection of our newest member, swore the entire group to silence on this matter. By the time the war started, the man had grown old and passed peacefully, at last content with his life. I know he would have approved of our decision to use some of the ore to protect the kyber mines." "That's incredible," Serra smiled. "Seems like we're constantly running into people searching for a middle way," Malik agreed.
"That's something Serra and I have been grappling with of late. But we're getting off topic. Are Jax and Laranth safe?" "They are fine. Come, we'll find them down this way," Chirrut said. "Ok, so I get using Mandalorian iron to prevent escape with a lightsaber. But why couldn't Malik open the trapdoor with the Force?" Serra asked.
Chirrut replied, "That was Master Yoda's doing. He accompanied Obi-Wan on his visit at the start of the war. As we were working the ore into Mandalorian iron to reinforce our traps and defenses, he had the idea to enhance them with a special technique that allows the metal to resist the Force. I do not pretend to understand it all, but he mentioned that it was an extreme extension of the Living Force." "The part of the Force that resides in all of nature," Malik said.
"Precisely! On the surface, one might think the Living Force does not touch Mandalorian iron. It is, after all, a highly processed metal. But as Master Yoda explained, it was once ore, and thus, a part of the Living Force as an earthen substance. As we made the sheets of metal to construct our traps and holding cells, Master Yoda performed a technique on each of them that greatly enhanced the power of the Living Force within it. This resulted in a material that could not only withstand a lightsaber, but also resist most conventional uses of the Force, particularly the Dark Side." "Meaning the only escape for a Jedi or Sith is once you release them!" Serra realized.
"That's brilliant!" "Well, this is Master Yoda we're talking about," Malik chuckled. "Indeed. Come, the holding cells are located several floors below us. This way," Chirrut said. "Yeah, we probably ought to go let them out," Serra agreed.
Malik said thoughtfully, "I guess we should… but then again…" "Why wouldn't we let them out?" Chirrut asked, detecting something in Malik's voice. "You see, Jax and Laranth have been friends for years, but never more than that due to the Jedi Code.
With the fall of the Order, they still haven't come to terms with… everything," Malik explained. "But some forced time alone might be just what they need to, er, sort things out, shall we say?" "Malik, you devious bastard," Serra giggled. "So, they have been friends for many years, yet still refuse to address their feelings for each other?" Chirrut asked. "That is simply unhealthy! I don't need eyesight to see that they're in love." "Is that why you were putting the moves on Laranth earlier?" Serra asked knowingly.
"But of course. Perhaps it will be just the motivation they need!" Chirrut laughed. "Malik? Malik, do you copy?" "Speak of the devil," Malik chuckled. Pulling up his comlink, he replied, "Copy, Jax. You two alright?" "Yeah, we're ok, just stuck in a room of some kind. Looks like a holding cell." "Chirrut was just filling us in. You won't be able to break out; that's Mandalorian iron all around you, further enhanced by Master Yoda.
Don't try to bust out; you'll only get hurt. Just sit tight." "Will do. Just get us outta here, please." "We'll be there as soon as we can, but we've run into some unexpected cave-ins and can't take the most direct route.
Chirrut says it'll probably be a couple hours at least. It's also getting pretty late; we may need to bed down at some point." "Dammit… you're sure you can't get through?" "Don't think so. If we try to blast through with the Force, we could cause the entire tunnel to collapse. I'm sorry, Jax." "Hey, not your fault. We're the ones who touched what we weren't supposed to!" "Roger that.
You two stay warm, ok?" "Will do. Out." "Cave-in? You, my friend, are an evil genius," Chirrut marveled. "They'll thank us one day," Malik smirked.
***** "Looks like we're stuck for a while," Jax sighed. "How are the supplies looking?" Rummaging through their backpacks, Laranth replied, "We've got some basic gear and a couple of energy bars, so we should be fine until they can get us out.
Let's see… a pair of blankets, an expanding instant sleeping pad, and… there they are! The personal heaters Chirrut mentioned!" "Sweet, let's fire 'em up," Jax smiled, knowing it was only going to get colder.
"Here you go." Jax and Laranth each clipped their device to their jackets. The heaters were no larger than a slice of bread, but they instantly enveloped their bodies in radiant warmth. But after a few seconds, the devices began to spark before shutting off altogether.
"What happened?" Laranth asked. Examining his heater, Jax replied, "Shit. The charge overheated and caused the device to short." "Now what?" "Let's make camp. That should help keep us warm for a little bit." Reaching into their backpacks, Laranth pulled out a rectangular piece of fabric and laid it on the floor. She then pressed a button on the side, causing the fabric to inflate and expand, forming a mattress large enough for two people.
Adding a simple blanket, she began to worry if their meager accommodations would be enough to keep them from freezing to death. "I hope Chirrut will be able to find us," Laranth sighed. "I think he knows exactly what he's doing," Jax replied with a bit of derision in his voice.
"What is that supposed to mean?" she replied with a questioning look. "Nothing," Jax huffed. "You two just seemed pretty friendly on the ride over here, that's all. Between him and Rex, I'm glad you're making new friends." "Oh, wow. Now, I get it. Jax Pavan, the cool and calculating Jedi… is jealous!" "Nope. No jealousy here," Jax lied. "Look, if you just wanna run off and meet all these new guys in spite of all our years of friendship, be my guest.
I sure as hell don't want you to spend your time with me if you think it's a waste." "That's bantha fodder, Jax, and you know it!" Laranth spat in anger.
"You've known for years how I feel about you. You just haven't been man enough to admit it yourself and do something about it! You talk about a waste? That is a waste, Jax Pavan!" "I keep to the Code!" Jax shouted back. "The Code?! What Code?! The Jedi Order is no more; we must find our own way in life. Look at Malik and Serra! They are married, yet do you think them any closer to the Dark Side than we?" "One could argue they are," Jax growled.
"One would have to be out of his mind to make such an argument!" Laranth countered. "Their path is different from the teachings of the Order, but the result is the same. They strive for the Light Side, for peace, and for justice. They are on the side of life, yet you think them tainted for the mere fact that they have devoted their lives to each other as well?" "They're selfish and shortsighted.
Good people, yes, but not worthy to call themselves Jedi," Jax fumed. Laranth sighed in frustration. "You are a cold, heartless man, Jax Pavan. I cannot believe you would ever be so stubborn." "Then maybe you should go find some guy to break your oath with!
It's exactly what your people are known for!" he yelled. Wounded to the core, she lashed out in retaliation. "Fine, I will! It'll be best for me to find a real man anyway!" "FINE!" The pair retreated to opposite corners of the cell, alone with their respective thoughts. For Jax, he knew he had screwed up. His stubborn adherence to the Jedi Code was one thing, but to insult Laranth in such a callous way?
He couldn't blame her if she never wanted to see his face again after something like that. Even so, his true feelings for her would not subside. And as self-righteous as he tried to remain on the outside when confronted with Malik and Serra's decision to marry, he was as conflicted as ever on the inside. As he began to question everything he had ever been taught, one thing was certain: he had to make amends with Laranth.
If he didn't do that now, he might never see her again. Swallowing his pride, he walked over to the beautiful Twi'lek, her back turned and sobbing into her hands. "Laranth… I'm sorry," Jax choked out. "How could you?" Laranth managed through her tears. "I didn't mean what I said," Jax said, hanging his head in shame.
"Then why say it?!" "Because… you were right. I was hurt, afraid, and yeah, jealous." "I was right? What a surprise," Laranth sneered, still refusing to face him. "Why should I believe you wouldn't do this again? Why should I ever wish to speak to you again after tonight?" "I certainly don't deserve it," Jax admitted.
"But at least I finally have some clarity." When she didn't reply, he continued, "We've always been taught that singular love is forbidden, because it's rooted in selfish pleasure. Then the Jedi Order falls and we run into Malik and Serra. Lo and behold, they've gotten married and remain true to the Light Side. It causes a traditionalist like me to question everything he's ever been taught. When it seemed like everything I knew was slipping away, instinct took over.
I reacted out of fear… the very thing that leads to the Dark Side." Sniffling, she said, "Yes, you did." "Laranth, I am so sorry. I know I can't ever take back what I said; that's now my burden to bear. But the last thing I want is to lose you in the process." "Why?" she asked with indifference. "It's not like anything more than friendship will ever come of our association, so what reason is there for me not to move on with my life?" Jax sighed, deciding she had to know the truth.
"Because… I love you, Laranth. I love you, and I always have." Laranth gasped a bit at this. All this time, she thought the truth would never come out of him, that he would take his true feelings for her to his grave. Yet here, in this cold dark mine, he finally told her how he felt. "Those are… three words I never thought I'd hear you say," she whispered.
"I know. I wouldn't blame you if you said you never want to see me again, but you deserved to hear the truth before that," Jax replied. Turning, he continued, "I'll leave you alone." "Jax, wait." As Jax turned to face Laranth once more, he saw that she had turned as well. In front of her chest, her lekku were crossed twice, forming a rough image of the infinity sign. To anyone who knew anything about the Twi'leki language, this gesture meant one thing, and one thing only. "I love you too, Jax.
And… I'm sorry, too. I shouldn't have said you weren't a real man." Accepting her into his arms, Jax replied, "I forgive you.
Can you forgive me?" "Already done," Laranth said, resting her tear-soaked face on his shoulder. "And… well, it's none of my business who you choose to be friends with. If you do want a relationship with Rex or Chirrut… it's not my place to object." Giggling, Laranth answered, "Jax, you really are dense.
There's only one man I'd even consider breaking the Jedi Code for, and that's you." "Even after everything I-" Before Jax could finish his sentence, Laranth had already wrapped her hands around his neck and mashed her lips against his. Looking back, she hadn't intended to be so forceful, but there was an enormous amount of pent-up emotion in that first kiss.
At last, she was able to release her feelings for this man that she had desired for so long. Jax was flustered at first, understandably so, but soon found Laranth's passion to be impossible to resist.
In those moments, any latent fears or hesitations he might have harbored melted away, giving way to his deepest feelings of affection for this incredible woman. They kissed for quite some time, enjoying the simple sensations of intimacy within each other's arms. While Jax was just trying to keep up, Laranth had no intentions of holding her desires back. She soon hopped up into his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist and grinding her hips against his pelvis. She gasped a bit at feeling his hardening cock through his pants.
Even if this embarrassed Jax, he had no chance to show it, as it was all he could do to wrap his arms around Laranth's waist to keep them both from falling, at least for a few seconds. After a couple of unsteady steps, he allowed his body to fall backwards onto the mattress on the ground, taking her with him. "Smooth!" she giggled, now straddling his waist.
Jax again had no opportunity to reply, as Laranth had already launched another oral assault on him. She now began to probe his lips with her tongue, which didn't surprise him as much as he expected, considering the circumstances. Deciding to go with it, Jax allowed her entry, savoring the sensations of her tongue dancing with his. He could understand why this was forbidden under the Jedi Code; attachments were impossible to avoid in such an intense experience.
A few minutes later, Laranth at last released him, panting and smile as she gazed into his eyes.
"Jax, you may of course tell me if we are moving too quickly, but… I wish to make love to you. Please, love me." By now, Jax Pavan had lost all ability to resist Laranth. Her warm eyes, sweet face, and feeling of the soft, green skin of her cheek resting on his face were too much. Still, he had to make certain of one thing. "Laranth, if we do this, it's not just a one-time fling. Obviously, we're both new to this whole romantic love thing, but I know I love you. I just want to be sure-" "You are the only man for me," Laranth whispered with a smile.
"Love without commitment is hollow; even in my disagreements with the Code, I have always believed this. Knowing that you feel the same way is more than I could have ever dreamed of, Jax." They kissed once more, sealing their dedication to each other.
Even with the dropping temperatures in the cavern, neither seemed to notice, at least not until they were almost entirely nude. Still, Jax managed to catch a glimpse of Laranth's slim, athletic form before she bounded under the blanket. Her naturally perky breasts were even more so in the cold conditions, bringing his already erect cock to painfully hard levels. He soon slipped into bed with her, pulling the covers up as high as possible to keep them warm.
Laranth barely noticed the chill now; she was far too distracted by the strong chest she now ran her hands over. As she began to kiss him passionately once again, Jax's hands wandered around to the back of her head. "Oh, Jax… how did you know?" Laranth purred. "Know what?" "Among female Twi'leks, our lekku are quite sensitive," she giggled, gesturing to her head tails. "The base in particular is considered an incredible erogenous zone." "I'm sorry, I'll-" "Don't stop.
Ever." Laranth continued to grind her body against his, feeling his twitching cock poking at her leg. Deciding they had waited long enough, she swung her leg over and straddled him once more, pressing his head against her entrance. Laranth felt a twinge of pain as she lowered herself onto his length, but she was far too aroused to care at that point.
Jax's eyes bulged at the incredible sensation of her moist pussy enveloping him, and he knew then that he never wanted to be without this woman in his life. At long last, he gave in to his feelings for Laranth and began to thrust his length within her. "Oh, Jax…" "I love you, Laranth." "And I love you." Sooner than either had anticipated, they climaxed together. Laranth was in complete bliss, but Jax wasn't sure what to think, as he had never even experienced an orgasm before in his life.
Despite this uncertainty, Jax's Jedi training began to give way under the intense chemical reaction occurring in his brain, bringing his affections for Laranth to the forefront of his mind. He had no idea if this was the will of the Force or not, but he knew he wanted to wake up next to this woman every morning from that day forward. Soon, Laranth's body rolled to his side and she nestled herself in the crook of his arm.
Before long, they were sound asleep. ***** "How's things on your end?" "All quiet. I tracked their skiff to a series of caverns out in the desert. They've gone underground; only one of the monks is above ground with their skiff." "Any chance you could get the jump on them?" "Not likely, but I might be able to slip a bug into their skiff; maybe that'll tell us what they're doing out here in the middle of nowhere.
What about your target? Is he the clone?" "Without a doubt. It's definitely CT-7567, also known as Rex. Crazy thing is, I read a report that he'd been killed on Mandalore." "With his war record, I've no doubt he's resourceful enough to have faked his death, especially if he defected." "Agreed.
Don't engage your targets yet. I'll see if I can capture the clone and use him as bait. If we can get the Jedi to rush into a rescue mission, that should provide just the chance we need to capture the lot of 'em." "Roger.
Signing off for now; I'll keep you posted." "Copy." "Oh, and good work, Boba." "Thanks, Dengar."