Chapter 1: Loss Edit
Jace smiled as he knelt down, handing a piece of chocolate to a young boy. The child smiled back at him, crooked teeth matching his once white hat, now covered in dirt and filled with holes. He turned and ran away towards a small group of kids, just as dirty and poor looking as him. Jace's smile remained, but it hid a small amount of sadness behind it. He felt a hand on his shoulder as he looked up.
"Help who you can, Jac'ika. That's all you can hope for," Ethan said, his gray hair reflecting the little sunlight that was left. Jace got up, forcing Ethan to shift his weight onto his cane instead of Jace. Outside of his SPARTAN armor, Ethan needed at least some assistance to get around after nearly three hundred fifty of combat and fighting.
"I know Et'buir. C'mon, we need to catch up with the others," Jace said, walking slowly with his grandfather. They, with Ethan's children Aurora and Caden, as well as their spouses Loran and Clara, were in a city outside of Kaven Base, helping out the poor in the city's slums. As they caught up, Jace handed off Ethan to Clara and Aurora before moving up to talk with his father, Caden, and his Uncle Loran.
"First time in a while we've actually gotten outside without killing something in a while. Not so bad, right?" Loran asked the pair, leaning two handed onto his lightsaber pike as to lessen the toll on his still youthful legs.
"It could definitely be worse. But a few nice words and a chocolate bar isn't going to do much for these kids," Caden answered, watching as two children argued over the last piece of candy. He used the Force from afar, breaking the bar in two. They both grabbed their piece from the air in awe, staring at it and then at Caden.
"Yeah, well, its giving some good to the world. That's all that matters," Jace added. A reflection shown above him as he watched the children. He reached into his jacket pocket and fumbled around, searching for another candy bar. As he searched, he felt a sound wave ripple through the air, forcing his hairs to jolt upwards. The candy bar fell to the ground as the children ran away, and his hand found the grip of his pistol in a fraction of a second.
Jace dropped to one knee as he slid behind a car, pistol drawn. Loran and Caden stayed where they were in the street, Caden with his sabers drawn and Loran with his pike ignited. Caden turned back to see Aurora and Clara both with their weapons drawn as two young adults knelt behind them, circling Ethan who was laying on the ground clutching his cane. On the rooftops above, a man sprinted from where Jace had seen the reflection and made his way across to other buildings, jumping the small gaps in between.
"Jace, secure the area! I'm going after him!" Caden yelled as he Force jumped upwards, climbing up the wall of the building until he reached the roof.
"I'll follow your old man, make sure he takes the guy alive," Loran called to Jace before sprinting after Caden. Caden ran across the rooftops, quickly gaining ground on the sniper. They got closer to the end of the street, and with it, the end of the rooftops. As they neared the end, the sniper jumped forward wand turned midair, firing his rifle back at Caden once. The bullet clipped his bicep, but did not stop him. Caden reached out to grab the man with the Force, but he fell below his sight line and below the building roof before he could. A moment later, a small speeder rose above the rooftop, the sniper sitting in the passenger's seat. He held up a new weapon and fired once, a grenade heading towards Caden and the building. The Jedi dove backwards, narrowly missing being hit by the explosion. He regained his balance as Loran caught up, but by then, the speeder was at full speed flying away
Caden tightened his grip on his saber hilts. His eyes shot open again as he turned around quickly as sprinted back towards where they had been. He jumped off the roof and landed near the others, who had surrounded Ethan. He pushed through a number of civilians to get to the inner group, where Aurora knelt next to their father, holding his hand. Caden knelt down as well, looking over his body. A hole was in his neck, bleeding profusely.
"Et'buir...Et'buir, say something. Anything," Caden pleaded, tears quickly coming to his eyes. Ethan's eyes were white and cloudy as he slowly blinked and moved his gaze towards Caden.
"Cad'ika...remember...You are a fine man...and a great warrior. You and your sister...must do what you were born to do...do what you think is right...and save the people from the evils of the galaxy. Protect the many...do...what you were born to do, Cad'ika...," Ethan said exhaustively. Caden nodded furiously as Ethan's eyes continued to gloss over. As they did, Caden's grew wide.
"No...no no no...don't do this to me. Et'buir, don't you dare die on me!" Caden said louder and louder, until he was screaming. He felt the heartbeat in Ethan's hand grow fainter with each beat until it quickly disappeared. Caden's free hand curled into a fist as tears ran down his face. He slammed his fist into the ground, breaking the concrete and blowing a wind outwards into the crowd. The civilians stepped back in fear as Clara knelt down behind him and put her arms around him as he cried.
Chapter 2: Vengeance Edit
Jace stood next to his father in the rain, others surrounding the hole in the ground. They watched as the coffin was lowered into the earth, Ethan's body within. Caden had said nothing in the hours they had been at the funeral, not even to say a eulogy. As the coffin hit the ground and dirt began to fall onto the wood, Caden spoke up softly, but did not raise his eyes from the grave.
"Come, Jac'ika. We have someone to meet soon," Caden said, throwing up the hood of his cloak, covering over his Jedi robes. He turned and began to walk away. Jace took one last look at the grave before turning and following his father.
A few minutes later, Caden walked onto a small ship, beckoning Jace to follow him. Jace did and entered the cabin of the ship as Caden entered the cockpit. In the cabin stood two stands, one displaying Jace's black Mandalorian armor and his weapons. The other held Caden's silver and gray armor, as well as some of his own weaponry. Jace felt the ship take off and begin moving out of the atmosphere quickly. Jace slid into the cockpit and sat next to his father.
"Cad'buir, where exactly are we going?"
"We're going to get some payback, Jace. Simple as that," Caden responded, setting the ship to auto-pilot.
"Payback? You found the people who did this?"
"Maybe. If not, they are related at least. I found the hit put out on him, followed that back to a pirate group. Located the base, and now we are about to even the score," Caden said, his tone becoming more angry as he went on. Jace shrugged it off to the situation and nodded.
"Well then, better get ready. We need to take out some bad people. Just like granddad said, right?"
"Yes, Jac'ika, yes. Destroy the evils surrounding us, and wipe them out. All of them," Caden said, getting up and dropping the cloak off of his back and letting his black and red Jedi robes be free. "Suit up. The trip won't be exceptionally long." Jace nodded and watched as his father left the room to prepare for battle.
Jace looked down from the cliff overlooking the pirate outpost, Caden kneeling next to him. There were many small tents around the so called 'base', as well as fire pits and racks hanging dead animals. It appeared more like a campground than an actual base. To Jace, that just made it simpler.
"Seems straight forward, does it not?" he asked his father. Caden's eyes stared into the base below, unwavering. "Cad'buir?"
"It is. This will be easy to win. But we must ensure none get away," Caden said. Jace noted the dark tone of the statement, but agreed with it to an extent. Caden rose up and drew his two sabers, tightening his grip on them. Jace slid his two double bladed sabers off of his back after looking at the base one more time, noting the close quarters between the tents. Jace looked back at Caden, waiting for the cue to engage. Caden took a step forward and fell off of the cliff, landing below. Jace jumped down after him, using his jetpack to lessen the fall. He landed as blaster bolts came towards him, only to be swatted away by Caden's red sabers. Jace ignited his own blades, glowing dark green, as Caden shot Force lightening into an attacker.
The pirate screamed as he was electrocuted, only to be thrown into one of his comrades. Caden pulled another forward, stopping him with his blade entering his torso. Caden tossed the man aside as he continued forward, swatting away blaster bolts with ease and annoyance. As he walked into the center of the base, Jace circled around and fought inwards from the base's side.
Jace cut through a number of pirates, clearing tents on his way. He entered one and instinctively ducked under a knife coming at his head. He swung upwards, cutting the man in half. He glanced around the room as the man fell and saw a woman in the corner, grasping a pair of children. Jace's eyes widened at seeing the small family in the tent. Suddenly, Jace could hear everything around him. He heard screams from across the camp and raced out of the tent, heading towards the sounds.
He turned a corner and saw Caden cut through a woman and the rifle she was holding. He let out a strong Force push to his side, demolishing a tent. Jace saw a small body fly away with the tent.
"Cad'buir! Cad'buir, be careful! There are families here!"
Caden continued on, slashing through fighters and destroying tents as he passed. Jace swung his sabers around, cutting through pirates and mercenaries with fluid like motions as he fought towards his enraged father. He cut through another enemy before jumping upwards, lifted by his jetpack. He landed behind Caden before swinging around a deflecting a blaster bolt back where it came from, burning through the shooter's helmet. Jace turned back to Caden, unable to not see what was on the ground.
There were two young children, which did not look to be any older then ten, laying on the ground. Each had a large burn mark across their chest, made from a lightsaber. Even though each lay dead with a weapon in their hands, the sight couldn't not shake him. He slung both of his sabers onto his back and ran up behind Caden. He grabbed his shoulders and turned him around.
"Cad'buir! Cad'buir, dammit, what are you doing! Those are kids!"
"They were armed and have lived lives of piracy! They were too dangerous to be left alive!" Caden yelled in response to his son. As his voice stopped, he looked over at another mercenary aiming at them. Caden raised his hand, the soldier rising into the air in unison. Caden closed his fist as the man began to choke. Jace shook his father to bring his attention back. Caden threw the man through the sky as he turned back.
"Are you crazy? I know they're dangerous, I know they were armed, but we are not here to commit genocide!" Jace said as he drew one of his pistols. He raised his left arm and blind fired to the side, killing yet another soldier. Caden shook his head and pulled away from his son, hooking his lightsabers onto his belt.
Caden bent down and focused, eyes glued shut. He slowly raised up, Force gripping onto the tents around him. All the tents around the camp began to raise up, leaving those dwelling within them without shelter. As the dozens of tents floated into the air, those around the camp stopped and stared in awe. Caden began to move them all together, creating a clump of debris above the camp.
The members of the camp began to group together, hoping to find safety in their numbers. Their luck did not change from what it was moments before. Caden threw the ball of debris into the group, crushing and mauling the pirates with tons of metal, wood, and fabric. The ball broke apart as it rolled through the crowd of individuals, leaving most either dead or injured. Caden quickly ripped his sabers from his belt again and flung them outwards, blades igniting as they went. The sabers spun through the air, slicing through many of the survivors as the blades circled back towards Caden. As they returned, Caden caught them out of the air and lowered them back onto his belt.
Whoever remained began to run away as fast as their legs allowed them. Caden pulled one last soldier into the air with the Force, the man screaming as he was pulled up. Caden shot a ball of lightning at the man, bringing more screams from his mouth. His fist closed one last time, and new sounds added to his screams. Jace heard as bones broke within the pirates body, snapping and breaking as Caden crushed him. As the man's body crumpled, three blaster bolts hit his back, ending his suffering. Caden dropped the body as he looked over at Jace, blaster smoking as he held it in the air. Caden turned and began to walk back to where they had come from, staring at Jace as he walked by. Jace saw hate in his father's eyes, which were surrounded by dark and tired shadows below. Jace followed his father, watching as a small number of women and children ran away from the camp. He sighed, prepared for a long, silent shuttle trip back home.
Chapter 3: Verrat Edit
Aurora sat on the grass, eyes closed as she meditated. Her lightsaber floated in front of her, both sides torn apart as she motioned the pieces back together slowly and methodically. Her nose twitched once, then again, then again once more. She sighed as the soft wind blew her hair into her face. She wiped it away with one hand and let out a long breath as she attempted to refocus. She connected the last piece of her blade's hilt back together. She pulled it towards her and let it fall into her hand, skin slightly searing against the cool metal. She smiled at her work for a moment before looking at the blue sky.
She felt her body shake for a moment before sound rumbled through the atmosphere, the shockwave blowing dirt into the air around her. She coughed and covered her eyes as the dust settled. As it did, she looked back and saw smoke coming from one of the Squadran's command buildings. She gripped her saber hilt and sprinted towards the blast, leaving her second blade laying on the ground, still in a state of dismantlement.
As she approached the building, she saw smoke spew from one of the upper floor's broken windows. There was a red tint within the smoke, but not from fire. A small piece of metal emerged from the smoke, holding up the red source. Caden floated down on the slew of wreckage, his pair of red sabers disarming as he descended. Aurora saw his black and red robes covered with soot and smoke as his uncovered arm leaked blood from a cut. Caden stepped off of the platform as he neared the ground and began to walk away, unmindful of those around him. Aurora strode up besides him as he walked, sirens emitting from both the building and incoming firefighting speeders.
"Caden? Cad'ika, what just happened in there? You're hurt," Aurora spoke, touching his bare arm near his injury.
"It's fine, just shrapnel," Caden responded in a deathly monotonous tone, hand clutching the life out of his lightsaber hilts.
"Alright, but what happened up there? Why did the building just explode?" she asked again, this time with increased urgency and force. Caden continued on, ignoring his younger sister like they were a pair of young children again. Aurora's annoyance swelled up more and more as each step passed. She threw her arm out to the side, still clutching her dual bladed lightsaber. Both her arm and the metal hilt pressed up against Caden's shoulder and chest, running the width of his body. He halted and looked down at her arm.
"Caden. Tell me what happened. Now," Aurora demanded. Caden merely glanced over at her, head still down towards the dirt.
"There was a disagreement," he stated, deadpan and cold.
Aurora kept her glare strong, unwilling to accept any less than perfect responses. Caden inhaled and angrily continued, his emotions beginning to fester and emerge near the surface.
"There was a tip on people who may have been involved with dad. I wanted to take people there and make them pay. They refused."
"So you explode the entire wing of the building? Caden, you are acting crazy!" Caden's head shot up from the dirt, eyes wide and burning.
"Do you not care? Et'buir is dead! Dead! And they may have been responsible. Do you not care enough to avenge your own father?" Caden exploded as he turned towards his sister. Aurora's arm dropped from his chest as she felt his words stab at her.
"You think I don't care? He was my father! Our father! Of course I want the people responsible for taken care of, but that does not give me the right to destroy everything in my way. Or nearly slaughter an entire village of people," Aurora shot back, her meditations minutes earlier now being for naught.
"They were part of it! They deserved what was coming to them!" Caden screamed back, parts of his veins becoming visible.
"I know some were part of it. Caden, that was a village of two hundred. Two, two of them were all that were involved, and they were just the getaway drivers. I spoke to Jace when you got back from that mission. Of the two hundred people in that village, there were only fifty people there who were soldiers. Fifty. And of them, again, only two were guilty. Jace did defeat his fair share of pirates, but guess what? He only attacked pirates. There were one hundred seventy-three casualties at that village, including all fifty of the mercenaries. That means you, you, not Jace, attacked one hundred twenty-three innocent civilians. Women, children, families, you went after them simply because they were there. You destroyed their home, and now you just harmed your own. This is your home, Caden. Kaven Base is still your home."
"They...were not...innocent. None of them!" Caden screamed back at his sister, nostrils flaring outwards and widening as far as his eyes had already done. Aurora stepped back from her brother, unbelieving of what he was saying. She glanced down slightly and felt as her own eyes slowly opened wider and wider. She had not noticed as he had descended, but up close, it was obvious. Blood was splattered across the pants and belt of his robes, as well as over his boots. The dark red blood, now dried after being outside of their host bodies and exposed to the chilled air, blended in with both the black fabric of his robes as well as its red accents.
Aurora looked back up at her brother after what had felt like eons. She saw them walking up behind him. Three guards, carbines drawn, were about twenty feet behind him, crosshairs locked on their obvious target. Aurora looked back down again, knowing her brother sensed them behind him. Even when furious and emotionally distraught, his connection to the Force was still incredibly strong. If he was paying even the slightest attention, he would have felt them there. Aurora's eyes drifted to his hands, which still gripped his lightsabers from when he had descended from the building's upper levels. His thumbs rested on the hilts' activation buttons, moving back and forth, almost unnoticeable in both speed and distance.
"Caden...listen to me. Give me your lightsabers...before you do anything rash and stupid," Aurora calmly prodded, gentleness and worry both occupying her voice. She prayed as she walked a verbal tight rope, hoping not to trigger his powder keg mind. As she prayed, she knew it hopeless.
"Commander Caden Ferran, you are under arrest. Put your hands in the air or you will be fired upon," said one of the guards as he walked forward towards Caden's rear. Aurora's heart sank as the man neared arm's reach.
Caden's left arm exploded into red light as his saber ignited. In one fluid move, he spun and let go of the blade, letting it fly past the approaching guard. In the same motion, his now free hand gripped onto the barrel of the man's rifle and pushed it up towards the sky as two bullets flew from the chamber. Caden's right fist came and pushed up into the guard's stomach before igniting red itself, his second blade ejecting from the unfortunate soldier's spine.
Aurora looked behind the pair to see the other two guards. One laid on the ground, the only motion being his helmeted head rolling away from its body. The last guard sat on his knees, gasping and clawing at the hilt of the blade sticking out of his chest. Caden threw the guard he was holding to the side, ripping his blade out sideways. As he pulled his other blade back to him, the kneeling guard finally fell to the dirt, and Caden resumed his walk. Aurora looked at her brother and held her arm out and spun her blade in her hand. As she finally settled it in her hand, she ignited both ends of her lightsaber, one at a time. Caden stopped and waited for a moment, not looking back.
"Brother...it is time you came with me," Aurora said. Caden finally glared back over his shoulder, both blades still burning in his hands.
"Sister, you have never beaten me. Today is not the day it starts. Walk away, now," Caden responded.
"My duty is to ensure that you don't," Aurora shot back.
"Don't make me destroy you."
"You can try, brother," Aurora said. Sparks emitted from her gripping fist as lighting enveloped both glowing blades of her saber. As the sparks stopped shooting from her fingers onto her blade, Caden jerked around and threw his sword towards Aurora. The Jedi Knight leaned backwards as she pushed her blade up, connecting with Caden's and deflecting it away as lighting shot back from one to the other. Caden jumped into the air as he caught his second saber and held them both over his head, ready to strike as he dropped back to the ground.
Aurora felt the impact through her whole body as she caught Caden's blades on either side of her hilt. The red and blue light clashed on both sides of her head, her pupils shrinking as she squinted to block the blinding light. She pushed her brother off of her and spun her lightsaber around in her left hand, collecting herself. Caden came back towards her, sabers coming at her from both sides as she blocked and flipped over the burning blades of light again and again.
Caden swung both blades together as hard as he could, aimed right at the left side of his sister's head. Aurora held her saber with both hands and held it straight up, barely connecting with the incoming swords. They held there, locked in combat for a moment. Aurora heard Caden quickly exhale a breath over the humming and crackling of their blades. As soon as the breath was heard, Caden spun around on the sole of his left foot, his right heel rising. Aurora attempted to disengage from their sword lock, but cursed at her mind as she felt herself be simply a step slow. She had pushed off and away from Caden's lightsabers, but still felt his kick on her cheek.
As she stumbled backwards, she glimpsed Caden coming after her again. Aurora felt her back tingle as a chill found its way to her spine. Aurora planted one foot and spun around, one side of her blade cutting through the dirt. As her spin neared completion, she drug her hilt upwards, the dirt cutting blade rising up from below. Aurora saw a flash as it rose up towards Caden's body.
She had become accustomed to many smells. Her lightsaber, for instance, burned the air around it. She recognized the smell everytime it came around, still able to pick it out, but she knew it enough that it never bothered her. Some smells, however, never would become accustomed to her. Burning flesh was a horrid smell to her. Being a soldier, burning flesh was an unfortunate thing she had to smell more than she wished. Even more so due to her weapons of choice, Force lightning imbued lightsabers.
The smell was filling her nose now. Not a huge amount, but some.
Her eyesight focused back on her brother. A burn went from the waist of his robes up to the shoulder, and a streak sat across his face. Her blade must have barely skimmed his skin, as the brown streak on the left of his face did not look either deep or enough to incapacitate Caden. The cut on his chest and stomach did not seem to have found the body.
Caden stumbled back, holding a hand to his eye and cheek as he turned away sideways, his covered eye facing his sibling. Aurora, kneeling, lowered her lightsaber slightly and began to get up. Before she saw a movement, it seemed to have already happened. Caden threw his left hand and blade away from his face, slashing his opponent across her stomach. As his momentum slowed, Caden attacked again, his right blade this time cutting through the air, and then, Aurora. His red sword cut into her right knee, shredding the tendons and ligaments. Aurora fell to the ground in pain, her lightsaber deactivating as it fell from her hand and into the dirt.
Aurora's grunts, as well as the wind which had just picked up again, filled her own ears just enough to make Caden's words muffled. She heard mumbles, but made out one line. Shuttle Terminus, ready for pickup. She opened her eyes, tears blurring her vision, as Caden deactivated his blades and walked away. The dirt flew upwards as a dropship neared the ground. Even when blurry, she recognized it as a shuttle from the Jericho, both his ship and the one his unit was based out of. She watched helplessly as he entered the dropship and it floated into the sky, returning to orbit where the cruiser was waiting. Aurora let her head drop back down into the dirt as sirens neared closer and closer to her.
Chapter 4: The Next HunterEdit
Sparks hit the floor as Katalena entered the gray, dimly lit workshop. Burnt metal filled the air as she walked towards the sparks and sounds of metal being ground down. She saw Jace standing in the corner, holding something to a metal grinder. His jacket lit up in the sparkling light, his helmet hiding his head from shrapnel.
Since moving to the planet Kahn about two-thirds into the Ancient Reaper War, Jace's workshop was a place where he could escape. He was tasked with not only running some of the Coalition's most dangerous special operations, but he was also in charge of protecting both the planet's secret location and the city of Bastion in the valley below. Inhabited almost entirely of refugees unaccepted by their host countries during and after the war, the planet was outside of all government influences. Jace's Zeta Wing base, which was said to be a simple militia outpost, was technically Coalition, but was unknown to nearly all those outside of Zeta Wing.
Katalena placed her hand on Jace's shoulder as he pulled the unknown metal from its grinder. He slid his helmet off and placed it on the table and turned to her, forcing a smile upon his face.
"Jace...something happened back on Earth, and I think you should know...," Katalena said, but Jace shook his head.
"I know, sweetie, I know. I heard what happened," Jace responded sadly, leaning back against the machine. Katalena placed her hand on his chest and sighed.
"I know. I got the updates on your aunt from Clara, but-," Katalena started to say, but watched as Jace's eyes light up as she spoke about his aunt. He must have not heard this part. "She is expected to make a recovery. Your father...your father was too far away from her when he struck to inflict fatal injuries. Her surgery is believed to be successful, and her leg should be able to heal. He only severed some tendons and ligaments ." She saw Jace's expression soften at the news of her injuries being not critical. She put her arms around Jace and embraced him. They sat there for a few moments, quiet before Jace spoke up.
"I need to do it, Kata. Only I can do it," he said cryptically. She pulled away slightly and looked at him quizzically. "My dad is out there doing terrible things right now. It isn't him. But that doesn't mean he is innocent. He has to be stopped."
"What are you saying, Jace?" Katalena asked, letting go of Jace as he turned. He picked up the the metal he had been working on, which turned out to be one of his gauntlets and hand armor. Jace slid his hand into the armor and flexed his hand. As he flexed, Katalena thought she saw small, sharper edges on the tips of his fingers.
"I'm saying that he has to be stopped...and he will be stopped. I need to end this...by any means necessary, if I have to," Jace walking towards a body shaped sandbag a few feet away. Katalena heard tension in his voice as he spoke, getting worse as he went on. He stopped in front on the human sandbag and swung his hand at its stomach. His hand slid by easily as the sound of fabric ripping tore through the room and sand poured onto the floor. Jace turned back towards Katalena, his hand held up towards his face as he inspected the armor. Light illuminated the small blades installed on the fingertips as Jace exhaled, sadness the only visible emotion on his face.
"...by any means necessary...," Jace got out one last time before Katalena walked over and pulled him close.
Jace walked through the building that he grew up within, the walls and rooms feeling bare, save for a feeling of dread. It appeared as though nobody was home, the only noise being Jace's boots on the floor. He entered the basement, searching for anything that could lead him to where his father had left for. He stood over a desk, small stacks of holograms, papers, and data sheets littered across it. Jace placed his helmet on an open spot as he began to shuffle through the stacks of information. As the minutes past, he heard a noise approach behind him. He looked back to see his mother standing there in the doorway, hair disheveled.
"Jace? You're home?" Clara asked, her arm across her chest and holding onto her other bicep nervously. Jace turned and took a step towards his mother, a sad smile on his face.
"Yes ma'am. I'm sorry, I did not think anybody was home," Jace explained as Clara returned a small smile.
"No, it is okay. I just got home. I visited your aunt at the recovery station," Clara said as she fully walked down the stairs and into the room.
"I heard she was doing well, right?"
"She is getting there. Physical injuries were substantial, but not life threatening. The mental trauma...well, you can see how they are with me," Clara said as she moved some stray hairs away from her eyes.
"What do you mean, you look as great as always," Jace said, chuckling. Clara smiled as she looked towards the ground, her son's attempt working at least slightly. Jace's smirk died down as he moved on. "I wish I was home for different reasons."
"Yes, yes...I know, sweetie. What are you looking for down here? Nothing down here but dusty documents and some old equipment," Clara said. As she did, the pair heard metal scraping from the other side of the room. Jace's hand shot to one of his sidearms, ready to draw it as they turned towards the noise. Two red lights lit up from the dark corner as the scraping continued. A moment later, the droid walked out.
"Offended. Very offended. This unit is dusty, but not nearly the age of you," Wolf said, the robot's joints creaking as it walked forward. Jace and Clara looked at it, amazed it was still around. During the Ancient Reaper War, Wolf had been severely damaged, to the point where they believed Caden had disposed of the remains. But, however, here it stood. Jace let his hand fall off of his pistol as both he and his mother relaxed.
"Wolf? You're operational?" Clara asked, having gotten familiar with it over her years with Caden.
"Affirmative. Systems are 67% fully operational, 22% partially operational," Wolf replied as he listed his diagnostics.
"If you are operational, why were you not let out of here?" Jace asked. Wolf turned his head from Clara to Jace, but as he stopped, his head twitched back and forth, sparking, before settling back to normal.
"Damage has yet to be completely repaired, numerous vital systems are not fully operational, and upgrades were being installed-potatoes-Humanoid Weak Points; Knees, Eyes, Neck...," Wolf said before he trailed off onto what seemed as random tangents. They were all quiet for a moment before Wolf began again. "Vocal Cohesion systems at 48%...random words may unfortunately happen at times."
Jace and Clara nodded as he spoke. Jace looked the robot up and down, just now noticing how much of the black stealth paint had been chipped and peeled, as well as what looked like rust eating away at some of Wolf's shoulder armor. Wolf tried to take another step towards the pair, its shoulders creaking and the robot limping heavily. Wolf's front left leg gave way, its head slamming onto the floor as it struggled to quickly get up.
"Inquiry...where is Ferran Commander?" Wolf asked as he resumed standing, giving up on movement. Clara held her fist up to her mouth, lightly biting down onto her index finger. Jace noticed and placed his hand on her shoulder as he turned his head back to Wolf.
"You don't know? He...is not here, right now...," Jace answered. Wolf stared at him blankly for a moment before answering.
"...entering Hellcat Squadran and Coalition wireless mainframes...hacking completed...firewalls bypassed...downloading public files...downloading classified files...downloading eyes only files...downloads completed...Ferran Commander privately wanted on 1,502 counts of murder, attempted murder, arson, evading authorities, terrorism, theft, desertion, trespassing, and treason...situation understood. I am...sad," Wolf stated, his voice changing ever so slightly.
"Yeah...that's basically it," Jace responded.
"Angel Erachi, how did this happen?" Wolf asked. Jace's head turned at the name Wolf used as Clara looked up from the floor, taking her hand away from her mouth as tears welled in her eyes.
"Excuse me? What...what was that name you used?" she asked.
"Designation: Angel Erachi. Vocal Usage for Renner, Clara. Original Designation: Renner Commander. Overwritten by Commander Ferran, Caden," Wolf explained, reading off his coding to the intergenerational pair. Tears began to fall down Clara's cheeks without pause and she stared at the robot.
"...Angel Erachi...," she whispered under her breath as her voice began to choke up. Jace pulled his mother closer to him as she cried. "He was always knew how to find a soft spot on a girl..."
"Keyword: Spot. Playing audio recording 21191/8...Awe yes, that's the spot Cad-," Wolf began to play before Clara yelled out.
"Stop! End the recording!" she yelled.
"Ending audio file. My apologies, Angel Erachi," Wolf stated, actually sounding apologetic. Clara wiped away her tears and looked at Jace before motioning him towards the robot. Jace let got of his mother and knelt down in front of Wolf.
"Wolf, listen...I need to find my father. Do you have any files in your head that can help me get him and bring him home?"
"Affirmative. Accessing system upgrade 0061, tracking of all personal and vital equipment deployed to the Jericho. Tracking initiated...all personal and equipment found," Wolf replied. Jace looked back at Clara, both of their eyes wide. Jace turned back to Wolf.
"Where are they, Wolf? Where?" Jace asked.
"Coordinates of Ferran Commander transmitted to Ferran Commander's helmet."
"Wait, what? You sent him his own coordinates?"
"Negative. Coordinated transmitted to your helmet, Ferran Commander," Wolf said. Jace sighed.
"Wait...you refer to both me and my father as Ferran Commander?" he asked.
"Affirmative. Profile: Ferran, Caden. Captain of HSS Jericho and Commander of Hellcat Squadran Shocktrooper Unit 0981, alias Valkyrie. Profile: Ferran, Jace. Commander of Hellcat Squadran Special Operations Unit 01/138, alias Zeta Wing. Both referenced as Ferran Commander."
"Okay...can you refer to us as different names, please?" Jace asked. Wolf's red eyes flickered for a second as he stayed quiet. Once they relit, he spoke.
"Young Ferran Commander, request granted. Retransmitting Senior Ferran Commander's coordinates to Young Ferran Commander's helmet," Wolf said as the inside of Jace's helmet lit up on the table behind them. Jace got up and retrieved it, looking at his mother. His look told her all that could be said. He walked by her and jumped up the steps and left out through the home's front door. Once he was outside a voice stopped him.
"Young Ferran Commander, halt!" Jace turned around to see Wolf standing in the doorway. "What are you to do when you find Senior Ferran Commander?" Jace felt his throat tighten as the sun nearly blinded his eyes.
"I'm...I'm going to try and bring him home, Wolf. If not...then I will do what I have to do," Jace explained.
"Young Ferran Commander, this unit has a request. May it accompany you to find Senior Ferran Commander?" Jace felt pure disbelief at the favor asked of him.
"Wolf, what? Can you even keep up? Or do anything if you could?" Jace asked.
"Minor repairs needed for acceptable speed and mobility. Combat Simulations, Targeting Systems, Threat Analysis Computers, and Weapons Systems all 100% operational." Jace stood there for a moment, long enough that Wolf opened his shoulder pods, revealing the barrels of the guns embedded within.
"Isn't your programming to protect him, though? How do I know you will not shoot me if we fight?" Jace asked.
"Retrieving Main Priority Files. Protect Individuals: Clara Renner, Aurora Ferran, Loran Bendak, Keryn Renner, Jace Ferran. Protect Civilian population within combat zones. Protect Caden Ferran. Protection of Senior Ferran Commander is overridden by other objectives. Worries are unneeded." Jace sighed, but conceded.
"Okay, okay. I'll do what I can for you on the shuttle ride there. Come on, let's go," Jace said, before another noise, this from the side of the house, grabbed his attention. A white and gray speeder bike flew out and hover between them.
"Rapid transport is best for both of us. The speeder was left by Ferran General when he retired to Mandalore," Wolf said, referencing Jace's ancestor, Ryan Ferran. Jace walked forward and got on, Wolf hopping on behind him and digging its claws into the seat. Jace revved the engine as he sped off towards the base's starport, both afraid to start and eager to finish.
Chapter 5: Through the Heart Edit
Jace felt the shuttle decelerate as they neared the planet's atmosphere. They descended onto the ocean world of Lehon, an ancient world of hatred and evil whose bright blue and dark green appearance lied to all unknowing visitors. Jace shook his head, bewildered at why his father would bring his forces here. Yes, the world's original inhabitants, the Rakata, fed off of violence and the evil that was the dark side of the Force, but they were long extinct. All that may be there were scavengers hunting for any ancient technology, or the possible dark side adept in search of a mysterious holocron. Either way, there was likely no one there that would warrant Caden to come out so far from the civilized galaxy in order to stop, even while on his delusional 'crusade'.
The ship shook as they entered the atmosphere, black void changing to blue skies. Wolf sat silent, bare metal shining after it had been ground down, even some adhesives ensuring other pieces held together properly. No, Jace's repairs were far from perfect, but they would be enough for the time being. As the shuttle's landing gear slid out from their holdings, screens and sensors started to blur and twitch. Whatever technology still worked on this planet, millennia old or not, was still doing its job for the most part. It mattered not, though. Jace saw the Jericho, Caden's cruiser, landed on the far side of an island, ancient temples and ruins on the hills above it. The shuttle quickly and quietly set down about a mile away from the ruins as to not draw any attention.
The landing ramp dropped as Wolf dove out of the ship, head it the air as he surveyed the surroundings. Jace followed behind, helmet in hand as he looked at the lush, tropical island around him. Due to his Skulblakan Hybrid powers, any connection he would have had to the Force was tremendously diminished. However, he did not need any other-worldly powers to feel the darkness that penetrated every grain of sand and blade of grass he stood on. A chill worked its way up his spine as he slid his helmet on, shutting himself in from the outside world.
The pair hiked their way through the sandy, tropical forest without issue. No guards, no sensors, nothing at all until they came within close proximity to the cruiser. A handful of guards patrolled the area around the ship, coming and going from around the corners of the ancient ruins. Many came in and out of one of the larger and more intact temples.
"There. That is where I want to go," Jace said, with none of the noise escaping his helmet. Wolf was connected to it, able to see and hear everything Jace did and able to listen to everything he said, allowing Jace to keep the helmet's speakers muted. Wolf's communications were also confined to the helmet's inner ear pieces, allowing them to keep their presence even more of a secret. Oh how I love modern technology, Jace thought to himself.
"Young Ferran Commander, I have analyzed the guards movements. A new guard exits the temple every 32.6 seconds, while a window of 15.2 seconds exists where no known line of sight is on the temple stairway," Wolf explained. "Estimated time to clear the area without visual contact is just over 14 seconds."
"So we are cutting it pretty close, huh?"
"Estimated chances of remaining undetected are-"
"Wolf, rhetorical. I don't need the math."
"Thank you, Wolf," Jace said as he shook his head. They snaked their way through the ruins, avoiding any and all guards they could have encountered. Their unknown presence was key. If they were found, Jace feared that not only would his father run, but troopers that Jace had grown up knowing would have to be injured, or worse, killed.
They reached the stones right in front of the stairway and waited as the guard walked down towards them. Jace waited for Wolf's call on when to sprint. It was only a few seconds, but the waiting felt like an eternity. He felt as the sweat crawled down his face. Jace inhaled sharply as his ear piece clicked on. He had pushed off of the ground seemingly before Wolf had even said to run. They shot up the stone stairs, their metal boots and paws scratching the rubble beneath their feet. They scrambled around the corner and into the temple's safety. At least now, nobody outside would be able to see them.
"No alarms triggered. We have successfully infiltrated the temple," Wolf stated. Jace refused to let any feeling of relief fall over him. He knew they had only gotten halfway to where they needed. His hands slipped onto the grips of his pistols, but before he drew them, he let go. He raised his palm and began to wander into the maze of hallways, ready to fire Skulblakan crystals at need be. They were a part of who he was. They were a part of his heritage, a part of his life he had not fully embraced until this moment. He felt...stronger, now, for some reason. He would worry about it later, though, as he returned to the task at hand; hunting his father.