The commons area cleared out slowly in the aftermath of my fight with Jurin. Servants came to clean up the mess I had made and to take away Jurin’s remains. Overall, the damage was minimal. The door from the classroom upstairs was going to need to be replaced, and some chairs and tables had been knocked over in the course of the fight. I was rather pleased with myself over that bit. The injury to my arm and my pride were another matter however.
My left arm was burned from where the shield generator had burned out. I suspected Jurin had enhanced his lightsaber swing with a bit of Force lightning in order to overload the bracer. Luckily I had reinforced them with lightsaber resistant materials for just such an occassion. Unfortunately the electrical overload had damaged the circuitry and that had burned my arm. I shall have to talk to the technicians about that.
Meanwhile one of the Academy medics had arrived and was busily trying to treat my arm. This was proving difficult for him as he was hesitant to touch me without my permission.
(Medic) My Lady, may I ask that you sit down for a moment please so that I may remove the device and tend to you?
(Valerie) Fine, do what you need to.
We sat down on one of the couches nearby. He gently removed the bracer and began to apply ointment to the burn wound. I ignored the sting as my attention was focused elsewhere.
Kira had managed to manipulate me into killing Jurin, that much was clear. How much he doctored the evidence was unclear at this point and in my mind of little consequence. It would be best to not underestimate him again. At least I only got a burn to my left arm and a hit to my pride for my hubris. The burn would heal shortly and my pride can be salvaged. Trying to reclaim my losses out of his hide was going to be counterproductive at best.
The medic finished applying the bacta ointment to my arm after several minutes. I told him to send the remains of the bracer to my residence and flexed my arm a few times. Motion was stiff, especially around the wrist, but I would still be able to fight with it if need be. Forcing myself to be ambidextrous in my fighting styles was going to pay off. I promptly dismissed the medic and headed for my Father’s training room.
Inside I could see Father informing Kira about the process of creating a lightsaber. He had already covered the basics of assembly some time ago, so now he was covering the importance of crystals. Kira’s Force training was still too rudimentary to handle natural crystals or loaner crystals with any degree of control. This was evident back when he and I first started trying to spar, the lightsabers he used would burn out quickly or even fail to ignite properly. With his life now on the line from numerous potential rivals seeking to replace him as my Father’s apprentice, getting him a lightsaber was the only way he was going to survive for long.
No choice left but to grow a crystal specifically attuned to Kira then. That would give him enough of a grasp on the crystal that he should be able to maintain it. At least, that is what I assume Father was planning. There was enough going on that was unorthodox here that I couldn’t take anything for granted.
I went to one of the weapons lockers and retrieved a replacement bracer and put it on. There was definitely some agitation around the wrist from wearing it, and the medic would probably protest the move too. Tightening the last strap sent of shot of pain up and down my forearm, but I did my best to ignore it.
While Father lectured Kira, I took out my lightsaber and stared at it idly for some time. Kira had snickered and insisted the color of the blade was indicative I was repressing something when he saw it during our first practice match. The beating I gave him for that put him in medical for the nearly a week. Father lectured me about that for some time afterwards. Kira did treat me with a great deal more fear and respect after that though.
If Kira manages to pull this off then I may end up with a sparring partner after all. That would be nice. Kira’s utter lack of skill will be a hindrance, but I get the feeling he will get better fast. Fighting me can be such a motivating factor.
Suddenly I realized Father was speaking to me.
(Father) Valerie, are you done with classes for today?
(Valerie) Yes, although none were scheduled today anyway. I was going to work on my practice exercises this afternoon.
(Father) Those can come later, in the meantime I want you to help Keldav get his things and escort him to our residence.
Ah, Father feared someone would try and take advantage of Kira’s weakness while the crystal formed. It would be easier to protect and watch over him at the residence than here. It would be interesting to see if Kira permanently moved in or if this was strictly temporary. That would definitely provide insight as to where Father thought Kira was going in all this.
(Valerie) Understood, come along Kira.
I could tell Kira was nervous as he fell behind me. It was also obvious that he was looking me over from behind from what I could sense. There were some things which still made him typical at least. I would have normally glared, but he was nervous enough already. Best to let him stew for a bit and draw whatever conclusions he will.
Once in his quarters he began to pack what possessions he had into a duffle bag. He didn’t have much: some training tools, a few sets of clothing, and a datapad. He did look at me for several seconds before reaching under his bed and pulling out a blaster and putting it in his bag as well.
His bag packed, we left his quarters and headed outside. The commons went silent as we passed on our way. I could sense more than a few wanted to try their hand at Kira now that Jurin was out of the way, but dared not while I was with him. Protecting Kira was going to get old fast. No choice about it though.
We had to wait for the hovercar to arrive outside. I could tell Kira was having difficulty with the morning sun. He was shielding his eyes with one hand while trying to cover as much skin as he could with the robe he was wearing.
(Valerie) What are you doing? Not used to a little sun after being indoors for so long?
(Kira) I’m an albino remember? Sunburn real easy and eyes are unable to filter light as readily ring a bell?
(Valerie) Are you getting smart with me?
(Kira) You have to ask?
(Valerie) I would have thought you smarter than provoking me after what you pulled.
(Kira) Why don’t you go ahead and get the thrashing over with? I know it’s coming.
Ah, he was of the opinion I was going to revenge my pride over his manipulating me to kill Jurin. He wanted to get it over with so he was provoking me. He must not like the sense of impending doom then. He understood so little.
(Valerie) That’s what I said, did you not hear me?
(Kira) Oh, going to let the wait drive me nuts then.
(Valerie) Jurin was someone that needed to die anyway for his foolishness. You just accelerated the schedule is all.
(Kira) Well I guess Sith killing each other is supposed to be routine.
(Valerie) Yes, and you’ve at least demonstrated you can do that much.
Kira glared at me for that one. It was hard to tell why though. His thoughts were unclear on the matter.
The hovercar pulled up shortly thereafter. The chauffeur loaded his bag into the trunk and we got in ourselves. Seeing Kira once again shielding his eyes against the sun, I had the windows darken some.
(Kira) Thanks. How’s the arm doing?
(Valerie) It’s none of your concern.
I found myself absently rubbing my arm during the ride back to the residence, much to my annoyance. Luckily he didn’t see me do it as he seemed transfixed on the scenery outside the car. We arrived at the residence and I could see one of Thelos’s holo-orbs floating out in the plaza to meet us as we got out of the car.
(Thelos) Welcome back, my Lady. I heard you were injured earlier, shall I send for a medic to check on you? I must admit a certain concern for the quality of work the Academy medics provide.
(Valerie) That will not be necessary Thelos.
(Thelos) You will also be pleased to note that I have already informed the technicians of the deficiency in your bracer. A new design will be ready soon, and they will not make the same mistake again.
(Valerie) Good, I don’t like getting burned by fried electronics.
(Thelos) May I assume then that this is the young man your father spoke of this morning?
(Valerie) Yes, this is Kira Keldav, Father’s new apprentice. Kira, this is the residence’s computer system: Thelos.
(Thelos) Greetings Master Keldav and congratulations. If you need anything during your stay here, please let me know.
(Kira) Nice to meet you I guess.
(Thelos) Allow me to show you to your quarters here on the estate. Right this way please.
I watched Thelos grab Kira’s bag with a manipulator and lead him off to the main house. Something about the whole exchange seemed off somehow, but I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly. My thinking was interrupted when a voice called out and startled me.
(Voice) So that’s the new guy is it? Seems a bit on the weak side if you ask me. Did I startle you?
I could recognize the voice without even turning to look, is was Father’s former apprentice, Master Faer Rote. I really didn’t need this now.
(Valerie) And what are you doing here Faer? I thought you were doing assassination jobs for hire these days.
(Faer) My my, such hostility. If you must know, I am here as requested by your father.
(Valerie) Father asked for you?
(Faer) Yes indeed, it seems he’s concerned with that runt alive long enough to be useful. So he asked me to come and help keep an eye on him.
(Valerie) And how do we know you haven’t received payment to land a hit on him?
(Faer) You don’t, although angering Master Soung is not high on my list of things I would like to do. While I do enjoy coin, I am a Valen, little Val.
(Valerie) I thought I told you not to call me that.
(Faer) Sorry sorry. You’re all grown up now aren’t you? You even have your own pretty pink…
Faer didn’t get a chance to finish that sentence as my fist connected with his face. The punch sent him flying backwards, but he righted himself in mid-air and landed on his feet with a skid. He was holding the side of his mouth gingerly.
(Faer) My, you do have some strength. You’d best watch that temper though.
(Valerie) Temper? I am not sure I understand what you mean. You are still alive aren’t you?
His eyes narrowed at that before his cheery mask came back.
(Faer) Cute, well I best get settled in. Looks like I am going to be here for a while watching that kid.
So Father had asked Faer to come keep watch over the place while Kira was here? That did not bode well. It implied Father expected more attempts on Kira’s life in the near future. The residence should be well protected from any of the other students having delusions of grandeur. So if not a rival student, a teacher then? A teacher or Master could certainly pose a threat to Kira even in here. But why would they bother?
Probably more politics and posturing going on between the Masters at the Academy again. More than a few were upset with the family’s habit of making troublesome but talented students disappear from the rosters. One of them might even think of getting even with Father by eliminating his apprentice.
Faer, for all his faults and greed, could at least be counted on as a fellow Varen. He occasionally needed reminding of that, but he would stand with Father on this. What was disgusting about it was that Faer had probably asked Father for payment to do this. Ungrateful, greedy bastard.
Enough of that.
It looked like the technicians had finished repairing my speeder bike. The fresh coat of paint had finished drying even. The black and red color scheme was quite catching. I would do well to request their services in the future should I need them again. I really wanted to take it out over the sea for a test ride but couldn’t leave before Father returned.
I saw that Thelos was setting up the furnace out back and decided to have a look. Looked like Father had sent instructions ahead to prepare for making Kira’s crystal. One of the holo-orbs noticed me and floated over. He asked me if I needed anything and also informed me that Gab Kilnes would be ready to assume her duties the day after tomorrow. I had forgotten about her in all the fuss this morning. I shall have to think of something for her to do once she starts her duties.
I heard a door slam behind me and saw Mother stomping out into the gardens away from the house. I really didn’t want to hear whatever had annoyed her this time, but she failed to give me the choice.
(Mother) The nerve of that ingrate! I do not understand why your father chose to apprentice that brat!
(Valerie) What has Kira done?
(Mother) Keldav? No, I’m talking about Faer dear.
(Valerie) Faer? What has he done?
(Mother) Stepping in like he owns the place, making demands of the servants, and disrupting the dinner plans.
(Valerie) He was always like that Mother. Did you really think he’d be any better now?
(Mother) I thought he would have learned proper respect for his patrons and their household. He could learn a thing or two from that Keldav kid.
From Kira? Faer must have really gotten on Mother’s nerves for her to declare something like that. Maybe Father bringing him here wasn’t a good idea after all.
Father came home a hour later and started the furnace up. He brought Kira out and began teaching him the process to make his own crystal. This was going to be a twelve hour process once started and it was agreed that Faer, Mother and I would take shifts keeping watch while Father assisted Kira. Mother went first, Faer went second, and I was third. Before my shift I ate a quick meal and had some rest.
My dreams were troubled as I slept, although I could not remember them when I woke up later that night. My arm had healed nicely and no longer was stiff in the wrist anymore. It would still take a while for the destroyed flesh to regrow, but the bacta had fully integrated into my system in the meantime. Another three days and it should be fully healed.
I pulled back my hair into a tail and grabbed a quick snack before heading outside to relieve Faer. I found him on the roof of the tool shed in a sensory trance.
(Valerie) How goes it?
(Faer) Something has been stalking around the perimeter off and on all night. Whatever it is has cloaked itself well.
(Valerie) Haven’t been able to corner it?
(Faer) No, I’ve been concerned whatever it is might be a lure to pull me away from the watch. So I’ve sat tight and not strayed far from the furnace.
(Valerie) And how is that going?
(Faer) Surprisingly well. Looks like it was a rough start, but the process seems to be getting smoother for the kid. That pattern feels a bit weird, but Master Soung doesn’t seem to be concerned about it.
(Valerie) Have you spoken with him about the prowler about?
(Faer) No, I figured it best to let him focus on the kid. I doubt he has missed sensing it though.
(Valerie) Well, it’s my turn at the watch now. Go do whatever it is you do these days.
(Faer) Suit yourself, although I think I may take this opportunity to see if I can’t flush out whatever is out there.
I watched as Faer slipped off into the night and then assumed the stance for my own sensory trance. Slowly the world and Force around me came into focus. I could feel the energies swirling around the furnace as the crystal slowly took form. It appeared to be over two thirds complete now. I also could sense something felt odd about the pattern but couldn’t discern what.
No matter, there was a prowler out there and I would do well to find him. It took a great deal of focus, but I could sense the occassional flare of Force potential from time to time. Faer was trying to hide his signature with markedly less success than whatever it was. I could feel a game of cat and mouse begin to take shape as the two danced out there in the darkness of the night.
They had been at it for about a half hour when suddenly I felt a great burst of Force potential. Looked like whatever it was had ambushed Faer and was trying to kill him. Faer could take care of himself, and if he died, it was his own fault for getting trapped like that. Besides, I had to stay here an protect against this being a ruse to lure away the defenders. I powered on my bracers and prepared myself for combat.
The attack came shortly thereafter. The only warning I got was a brief image of a lightsaber about to got through my chest only a moment before. A quick leap up and backwards got me behind my opponent while dodging the attack. Looking at my attacker I was stunned to see Jurin in front of me with a grin on his face.
(Jurin) You look surprised to see me again, Valerie. And here you came to see me yesterday morning. How could I not repay the favor?
(Valerie) What? How? I smashed your skull!
(Jurin) Now that would be telling now wouldn’t it? Just understand that I am far more talented than you realize.
He was obviously alive, so that ruled out a Force ghost. Possession did not change the appearance of the possessed. Wait, he looks like he has lost weight from yesterday. It was possible the weight of the brains I smashed in was equal to the weight he has lost since then. A regenerator? It was possible, although even they took longer than a day to regrow lost body parts. Plus the loss of the head was still fatal.
All internal debate of his nature came to an abrupt halt as an intense pain shot up and down my left arm. It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep from losing my stance, but I wasn’t going to be able to use my left arm in this state. What was happening? I know he didn’t land a hit on me just now, so why did my arm feel like it was on fire?
(Jurin) Now, that is better. Can’t have you using those fists of yours without restraint. You really should be more careful about how you treat yourself.
More careful? When did he get a chance to hit my arm? it should be fine after the treatment from yesterday. Wait, he did wound me yesterday! But how could he be manipulating the burn from the electronics? That was treated with the bacta and should be well on it’s way to…
The bacta. He had either contaminated the bacta before the fight and planned to lose, or he has found some way to manipulate bacta with the Force.
He came to the attack while I was debating what to do. His arms seemed to stretch as he swung his lightsaber around trying to hit me. That was odd to watch. It almost felt like his Force pattern was shifting in sync with the changes in his body. A changeling? I had heard of such things, but assumed them to be purely legends and myths.
Breaking bones and smashing tissue wasn’t having much effect on him. The flesh and bone seemed to reform as quickly as I could damage it. Plus that reach of his was getting really difficult to fight around with only one good arm. I had left my own lightsaber in my room again and was beginning to regret it. Attacking with Force lightning wasn’t going to work well when he can use the lightsaber to ground it out.
My best bet was to attack his lightsaber directly. If I could destroy it, then Force lightning could do enough tissue damage to put a stop to this.
His attacks were getting harder and harder to dodge effectively as he shifted more and more mass to his arms for increased reach. His ability to shift like this was adding a whole new level of complexity to predicting his moves accurately. Finally the move I had been waiting for arrived when Jurin launched an over head swing meant to cleave me from head to toe.
It took more effort than I wanted to admit to dodge backwards fast enough to miss that blade. Racing forward I smashed my right fist into the lightsaber and shattered it to pieces in his hand. I enjoyed the look of shock in his face as he realized what had happened.
The pain in my left shoulder was the only warning I got as his arm raced out and pierced it like a spear. I was hurled to the ground by the force of the blow and grunted in pain as the spear burrowed into the ground, pinning me there.
(Jurin) I’ll finish killing that weakling and show your Father that even beat his precious daughter can be beaten within an inch of her life. Don’t worry, I won’t kill you now. But I will make sure you learn proper respect.
(Valerie) My Father will never train a filthy degenerate changeling like you.
(Jurin) Hmm, now is that anyway to talk to someone with your life in his hands? You really need a lesson in proper manners with your betters. Besides, I don’t want the apprenticeship anymore.
He ground his arm into my shoulder, causing fresh pain and blood to flow from the wound. I wasn’t going to lose consciousness, but my options were limited to say the least with both of my arms incapacitated. No choice then.
Hitting him with lightning was easy given the fact he was currently impaled in my shoulder. Sadly that meant I was hit by the shock as well, but I was prepared for it at least. The agony of it all was intense, and I could tell I had hurt him from that attack. Problem was, I had taken all I could and he was still standing.
(Jurin) Pity, I had hoped to spare your life as a token for your father. No matter.
He reared up and formed another spear with his other hand, preparing for a final thrust to kill me. Suddenly he stopped and was looking at his chest with a look of shock on his face. It took my eyes a moment to register what I was seeing.
Coming out of a hole in his chest was something transparent surrounded by a violet corona. Jurin’s clothing glowed flourescently, as if illuminated by a black light. Then I heard the hum of a lightsaber.
(Kira) Now, now, the first mistake was picking a fight with Valerie. The second was not coming immediately after me. And the third was exposing what you are too quickly.
(Jurin) Bastard, I’ll kill you.
Kira then proceeded to slice Jurin in half at the torso with a quick flick of his wrist. The upper half of Jurin fell to the ground next to his lower half.
(Kira) Now, from what I remember of the lessons. You will be unable to rejoin due to the damage from the burns. The part I also need to be concerned about is the one still able to think and talk. I assume that would be this half with the head then?
Kira finished off Jurin swiftly. Turning to me he cut and pulled out the remains of Jurin’s arm and pulled me to my feet. I ended up leaning on him more than I wanted to, but my body was too weak.
(Kira) Consider us even Valerie.
(Kira) You killed Jurin for me, and I killed him for you now. So we’ll call it even.
I wanted to punch him. Too bad neither of my arms was working.
We found Faer outside the residence. He was still alive, but had lost both his legs in the fight with Jurin. It would take time for those to be reattached and that meant he was staying with us for a while longer. More bacta treatments for me as well for the shoulder and neural tests for the lightning attack. Never mind the scrapping off the contaminated stuff off my left arm and reapplying fresh bacta.
Oddly Kira ended up getting burns on his hands and face from somewhere. It puzzled us for some time before we figured out his lightsaber glowed in the ultraviolet and so he was getting sunburns. Thelos ordered sunscreen to be stocked regularly for the future.
As I rested from the treatments, I pondered what I had witnessed. An ultraviolet lightsaber? I had never heard of such a thing, and neither had Father. Father was convinced it reflected something fundamental about Kira’s personality, but I remained unconvinced. After all, that same logic would say things about me I refused to believe.
Two lightsabers, both unique as far as I could tell. What were the odds of both of them coming together like this? If something was directing the fates, what did it signify? These thoughts troubled me as I fell to sleep again.
I dreamt of two legendary warriors dueling each other under a summer sun.