Era of Rebellion - Navigation

Kit Gwynne and Sarah Riggs-Shute.
One year after the Battle of Yavin (36:5:18) in the Corulus system: Vengeance.
Lieutenant Bernard Dunford, Inquisitor Jorad, Yun-Jai Kerr, and Colonel Mark Veller.

First off, Mark disliked things he couldn't explain. Sure, on the battlefield, odd things happened, but *this* was totally out of his nicely ordered universe. He could handle being held kidnapped and held helpless, bound to a chair, shackled with stun cuffs. It sucked, but things like this happened. He could handle seeing Lieutenant Dunford bleed out from the poorly done interrogation. Again, things like this happened. They could rationally be explained as a result of being drugged and kidnapped.

But having someone come out of nowhere to stop the killing thrust of a lightsaber? This defied logic. And yet, there it was, the blue blade humming in front of him, holding Jorad's red blade at bay. Not that Mark did not appreciate the reprieve, but still. Things like that did not just happen.

When the blaster bolts were deflected, Mark was officially lost. Gone was any ability other than observing the fight, though a very distant part of his mind did manage to analyze it, noting the weaknesses and openings and recoveries of both sides.

Jorad begin to gesture and fear filled his mind. He swore he could feel the malevolent energies and knew they were directed at him. High Inquisitor Thanor had done a similar gesture in the fateful duel. There was no escaping this. He almost gave into that urge to struggle out of his bonds, but then, this Jedi, whom he had yet to get a clear view of his face, had gone into a full attack which ended with the Jorad unconscious in a heap.

What in the galaxy was happening here!? There was something about that last exchange of lightsabers that bothered Mark. Something in how the Jedi moved. His attention, however, was distracted by the Jedi deactivating his lightsaber and going back over to Dunford's dying body. With an intense concentration that Mark could see it was best not to interrupt, Mark saw him start tending to Dunford's wounds.

Mark was ignored by the man as the wires were removed with extreme care, and wounds healed. Mark could only stare in astonishment. Whatever the man was doing, it was as if Dunford was recovering in a bacta tank. Slowly, the novelty faded and Mark found himself with lots of time to think. There were plenty of wires to remove thanks to Jorad's enthusiastic application.

He kept an eye on Jorad collapsed on the floor, but Jorad showed no sign of recovering from the blow to the head. Not used to enforced inactivity, Mark struggled to calm his thoughts and body. He had no wish for and errant muscle movement to trigger the stun cuffs.

Finally, Mark took to the mental exercise he used before combat. Taking two fast breaths then switching to deep and slow breaths, Mark closed his eyes and began the ritual to calm his thoughts.

It took him a lot longer than usual to achieve the calm he usually felt. Every time he was close, his anger at why he was having to do this would return and shatter his concentration. Or he would remember to check on Jorad and that anger was particularly hard to shove back.

Eventually he made it, his breathing becoming more regular. Now he could really think on the events of the last day. Shore leave had started well, the days of rest had allowed his body to heal the leftover aches and pains from the High Inquisitor's punishment. Dunford had relaxed and Mark felt it was the time to ask him more questions. Then, disaster. An Inquisitor had kidnapped them with the intent of making Mark forswear his oaths. He reviewed the incident and wondered if it would have been better to agree, then somehow inform High Inquisitor Thanor and let her sort it out.

He let out a sigh, not that it mattered now. Done was done. And Mark was still in the dark as to exactly why Jorad had been willing to risk High Inquisitor Thanor's wrath. He got that he was special. Of course he was. He was one of the Imperial Elite, that automatically made him special. That he had worked his way up to a command position only confirmed that position among the elite. He remembered High Inquisitor Thanor telling him he was not ready for certain knowledge. His ignorance and the unwillingness of others to enlighten him was getting tiresome.

Both Jorad and this Jedi had mentioned the Force. He tried remember any schooling about the Force, but pretty much came up blank. Jedi were not popular in his school district nor with him, so he never studied much about them. He worried a bit on what the High Inquisitor would think of this escapade. In trying to predict her reaction, he realized he needed to know what Dunford wanted to do now. His secret was out among the Inquisitorius and would eventually get back to the High Inquisitor. Mark would not blame Dunford if he wanted to disappear and take his chances. But if he did that, he would need a convincing cover story that held up under the scrutiny of no body.

Then, there was this man who was somehow healing Dunford, this... Jedi. There was something about him Mark could not place. Something he felt he should know.

He had let his mind drift, remembering the caf that started the whole chain of events. Caf like the stuff served on his home planet, a place he had left with no regrets and never returned to. A hand on his shoulder and a voice in his ear broke his meditation. His eyes went slightly wide. He knew that voice. If he had not been thinking of his home planet, he would have missed it. But he knew the man releasing him.

Nodding at the words, Mark felt relief at finally being free of the cuffs, not trusting his voice. He stood from the chair stiffly, doing a few stretches and squats to get some blood flowing again. He glanced over at Dunford and the Jedi, then back at Inquisitor Jorad. Anger bubbled up at the man lying unconscious on the floor for what he had put both him and Dunford through the past few hours.

He took a few steps towards Jorad's unconscious from, wanting nothing more than to end his torturer's life. He noted the Jedi moving towards him and stopped, considering his options. Then he spotted the stun cuffs on the floor. With a swift motion, he picked them up. Then went over to Jorad's prone form and rolled him onto his stomach. It was short work to cuffs Jorad's hands behind his back. Mark stood back up, satisfied for the moment. Let Jorad have a taste of his own medicine for a few. Jorad would face Death at Mark's hands, but the man would be conscious for it.

There was a low groan that eased from the unconscious Inquisitor followed by a soft stir as Mark rolled him onto his stomach to fasten the stun cuffs. It was apparent that Jorad was coming around after hours of cold senselessness. Eyelids fluttered briefly as he started to finally awake. The blow to his head with a stun saber had taken significant time to recover from. Had he received the strike from a traditional lightsaber, he would not be alive. The process of waking naturally caused his body to unintentionally jostle which unfortunately aggravated the stun cuffs and sent a massive shock through his still weakened and vulnerable body. Jorad was not even fully conscious enough to scream in agony, instead his appendages involuntarily convulsed as the electricity surged through him causing further activation of the stun cuffs in a severe cascade of electrocution. The end result was an Inquisitor that was rendered fully unconscious again but whose muscle seizures continuously activated the stun cuffs since the man was not awake to restrain his own movements.

Once Kerr had released Mark, he directed his attention once again to the battered form of Dunford, analyzing his injuries and debating if it was safe to move him yet. While he was busy tending to the Lieutenant, concerned eyes caught Mark moving towards the downed body of the Inquisitor with what initially appeared to be an intent to harm. His diagnostics of Dunford was momentarily paused as he stood from his position but halted his advance when he noticed Veller consider an alternative to murder. Kerr nodded his silent approval to the stun cuff option. Grateful that Mark compromised, he turned and knelt back down by Dunford's side. It was mere moments later when he heard the telltale sign of stun cuffs heavily discharging and he shot back up to his feet with a look of alarm. Yun-Jai didn't have time to wonder if Mark had done that on purpose as he rushed over to the shaking mass that was Jorad. The stun cuffs had the potential to continuously discharge when placed on the highest setting, and with enough electricity surging through the body, the heart could go arrhythmic and the captive would die.

It would be foolish to touch Jorad while current was pouring into his body, but Kerr did not need to physically place his hands on the man to stop his repetitive convulsing. The Jedi calmly extended out a right hand towards Jorad and suddenly his arms and legs fell still allowing the stun cuffs to finally slow their onslaught and deactivate the shock. He bent down to examine the binders and his assumptions were supported, they were on an extremely high setting. The irony would likely be lost on the Inquisitor since he would wake up with terrible aches in addition to the ones he received in their duel and not know why. Kerr keyed in a new lenient stun cuff setting which would be far more forgiving for a waking prisoner. Satisfied that this was a fitting conclusion to their confrontation, he stood and directed his attention to Mark. "Help me with your friend over there. He is safe to move and it is time we left."

Eyes drifted down to the Inquisitor at their feet before his gaze sought Veller's again. "I doubt he will further pursue you now. He will likely have other more pressing matters on his mind when he wakes." Yun-Jai was fully knowledgeable on what ship Mark served and from whence he came. Just the threat alone of Mark reporting these events back to the Interrogator should be enough to cause Jorad to make a speedy escape after he came to. It was somewhat of a missed opportunity for the Jedi, as normally he would take this chance to have a meaningful conversation with the Inquisitor and try to guide him free from the darkness that enslaved him. Jorad was just as much a prisoner of the dark side as he was to those stun cuffs, but Jorad also willingly made his choice years ago, after living a moral and virtuous life that he freely abandoned. Mark had yet to have that opportunity, he had yet to make his choice and thus deserved that chance. There was always still hope for the Inquisitor, but for now, Kerr's efforts were focused on showing Mark a more honorable path he could take.

When Jorad's movements caused the cuffs to activate, a hunger deep inside was satisfied. It felt good to have his tormentor suffering as he had suffered. Watching him spasm unconscious, Mark felt no mercy for the man who planned an agonizing death for Dunford and himself.

Then the Jedi was next to him, somehow stilling the man and then adjusting the cuffs. When the cuffs didn't go off again, Mark knew the power was variable. Mark narrowed his eyes, realizing Jorad had set them intentionally high just to cause him pain. He wanted to turn them back up again to make Jorad suffer.

The Jedi spoke, interrupting his thoughts. Yes, Dunford. His being alive made him once again Mark's responsibility. Then the Jedi looked at him and Mark's inner turmoil shifted. He felt the student once again, striving to understand what was being taught.

Not trusting his voice, Mark nodded and went to Dunford's other side, lifting him up so the two of them could take him off the ship. Hopefully, anyone observing them would think they were helping a fellow tourist back to his bed after a hard night of partying.

Despite what the Jedi said, Mark did not believe this was the last he would see of Jorad. It might take a while, but Mark had mocked and insulted him. Such things were not forgotten nor laid to rest. Besides, Mark had his own score to settle with the man.

For the moment, he put aside the questions he had for this... Jedi who just happened to have been his teacher of twenty years ago. Questions and their answers could wait until they were on safer ground.

He was about to start heading out when something else caught his eye. Jorad's lightsaber. It had fallen to the floor nearby. Taking a few seconds, Mark picked it up. It made for a decent short baton if they came across other adversaries. Mark felt better being armed in some fashion and once again took up the burden of Dunford, nodding towards the door. Time to get out of here while the going was still good.

With Mark's assistance, they managed to attentively carry the dead weight of the Lieutenant from the cargo hold without excessively aggravating his many injuries. The progress was slow and took some cooperation, but eventually they made their way from the Inquisitor's quadjumper aptly named Vengeance. Kerr knew where Dunford and Veller were staying, but he decided to feign ignorance for the time being, and allowed Mark to lead them in their journey back to the luxury condo. They were very far from their destination, and due to the slow pace, Kerr had plenty of time to silently ponder his severe predicament. Inquisitor Jorad capturing them had put a huge kink in his plans, basically forcing Kerr to intervene to save their lives, and thus exposing his true nature. It was terribly unfortunate that he was so vulnerable now and it completely changed his plans. It was very concerning that either Mark or Bernard could at any time communicate his identity and whereabouts to their flagship that was docked in orbit above the planet. If that were to happen, his capture would be almost definitive. Yun-Jai's personal craft was a kilometer away, and the Interrogator would be able to mobilize an overwhelming interference before he could even return to his ship.

Kerr was taking an immense risk now by staying and he debated if he should take his hasty retreat once he aided in returning Dunford to safety. His eyes washed over the limp form of the man they carried, appraising his condition while deep in thought. The injuries Dunford sustained had been traumatic, but after the healing session, he could be easily treated in any standard bacta tank, so the Jedi's assistance in that regard was no longer necessary. There was nothing dire that needed his immediate attention, but if he left now, he would again be abandoning Mark due to the threat of an Inquisitor pursuing him, just like he had been forced to do so many years ago. Kerr had no idea Mark remembered him from his childhood. Kerr had disguised himself even back then and did not realize he performed a signature move Mark happened to recognize. Things would have been so much easier if Jorad had not gotten involved. Yun could have effortlessly and covertly discussed matters with Veller over a cup of caf and slowly feel his way from there. But this ... it was too abrupt and abrasive ... his cover blown too spectacularly. Despite the heroic rescue, he was concerned Mark would take it as an act of duty to report him, let alone trust him enough to consider his arguments.

Despite the dangers, there was no guarantee that his life would be forfeit if he should be captured this day. He would eventually need to confront the High Inquisitor anyway, be it either physically or philosophically, perhaps both, but preferably not on her terms, and preferably not at this moment of his life when other matters called to him. But if he were to be taken captive today, he would acknowledge it was the will of the Force and use it as an opportunity. A soft sigh eased from him as he debated how he should address Mark and if he should introduce himself at all. He couldn't use his real name, that was too dangerous, and he couldn't use his alias, Mark would recognize it immediately from years ago. This moment was already terribly awkward due to the silence and the refusal for either party to address the bantha in the room. Perhaps a bit of reflection to get the juices flowing. As long as there was open dialogue, there was a chance for reconciliation. "What would an Inquisitor wish with two tourists? I hope you didn't owe him money, or court his girlfriend." Kerr said in a slightly light hearted fashion, attempting to test the waters. He had not talked to Mark in many years. It was likely this was no longer the boy he once knew.

It took a little bit for Mark to get his bearings. He was loath to engage a taxi as he really did not want to leave a traceable trail. As a result, it took a long time to get to the relative safety of the beach house. He was grateful for the silence, not only because he did not want to talk about things in public, but also because he was not sure what his reaction should be.

Mark had a dilemma and it was a huge one. Jedi. There was not a single word that encompassed his opinion of Jedi. His mother revered the Jedi, calling them the guardians of the Republic and saw no evil in them. She defended their practices of taking young children from their parents, stating that for a Jedi to be successful, the training had to start at that young an age. Mark was certain if somehow he had been chosen, his mother would have been proud to have lost her son to the Jedi.

His father, if he had any opinions on the Jedi, did not voice them. There was no argument that would sway his mother. When Mark disagreed with her on this, she would just sadly state he did not understand and continue in her belief.

Mark saw the Jedi as part of the problem that kept him in poverty. If the Jedi cared, like his mother said they did, then why were they not making the rich obey the laws and give everyone the same opportunity? From his position at the bottom of the heap, he saw just how much those at the top of the heap respected the laws. They did not.

There had been a small hope of a scholarship to get him out of the slums. He had worked for it despite all odds and earned it. Yet, because he had done better than some of the pampered sons, he had been denied the reward of his efforts. Because he came from the wrong parents or did not any money. Even now, this thoughts burned with anger at the system that condemned him to a short life in the slums.

The Jedi were nowhere to be found to enforce the law. Mark had a hard time overcoming that anger. The Empire had offered a position based on his abilities, on his merit. He had taken it and given his loyalty to the system that had lifted him out of poverty.

But, his thoughts came around to the man helping him with Dunford, he had saved Mark's life and somehow brought Lieutenant Dunford back from the brink of death. And, if Jorad was to be believed, he was Jedi. Turning the man over to the Interrogator seemed to be a poor repayment of the debt of two lives saved. Whether or not Dunford would agree was still to be seen, but Mark was the senior officer.

Besides, if Dunford did turn this Jedi in, he would have to face the High Inquisitor and Dunford had gone to a lot of effort to avoid that. Mark was pretty sure Dunford would take the route that meant the least amount of contact.

But, that did not leave Mark in the best of positions either as he did have to face the High Inquisitor. What to tell her? "Say, on the shore leave you were so generous with, guess what happened? Got kidnapped by another Inquisitor, almost killed but was it not nice of this Jedi to step in and save two of your officers? Oh, what happened to the Jedi? I let him go." Mark repressed a shudder at the High Inquisitor's response. He did not think that conversation would go all that well.

His thoughts were interrupted by the Jedi's questions. Mark looked at the man with an almost incredulous look at the inanity of the questions before realizing he was, as they say, testing the waters. He was saved from answering by noticing they were almost to the beach house.

Pointing to the house only a few hundred yards away, "Over there is where we are staying," he said, "Easier to talk there once we get my friend to bed," he started heading to the house. Mark looked over at the Jedi, speaking softly, but directly, "I have some questions, Master Roste," he said, "that I hope you can answer."

Yun-Jai's eyes widened in surprise when Mark acknowledged him by his alias. The abruptness of the reveal was a shock to his system, but after a moment, a soft small smile of acceptance replaced his astonishment and he silently nodded to the other in compliance. Discussing matters with his former student was his sole purpose for being here afterall. It was apparent that fate would have him completely stripped and unmasked before Veller, and no secrets were too sacred. He would just have to play with the cards he was dealt, even if his entire hand was exposed for all to see. Kerr was at a terrible disadvantage but he also had a great deal of resolve to see this through.

He realized that Mark could easily have him captured, but he also had hope that the boy he once knew, who was full of integrity and virtue, still existed and could be reasoned with. The Mark he remembered deserved a chance to pull himself out of the bleak tar pit before it slowly engulfed him. This was his brand of remedy for the sickness that had overtaken the populace, and he would continue to save the galaxy one soul at a time, both medically and spiritually, until the point in which the Force called him home.

"You always were perceptive." A little pride beamed for his former student.

Inquisitor Jorad moaned softly as he began to come around from unconsciousness, but his slight shivers and rustles did not set off the stun cuffs this time due to their lowered setting. Another groan eased from him as eyes rolled under lids that slowly lifted revealing a blurry world of grays and blacks. It only took a second before eyes fully snapped open with the recollection slamming into him of the previous events. With a shout of bewilderment and anger, he shot his body up into a kneeling position but the quick jolt disturbed the stun cuffs enough to send a painful charge through his arms. Jorad yelped with surprise and affliction, the energy aggravating his already sore muscles from their heavy spasms earlier. "What the brix..." He strained his neck as eyes darted behind him to see the binders, realizing that he had been cuffed and that the intensity had been set at a lower setting. He figured that was probably the Jedi ... his mind paused for a moment ... *The Jedi?!* He sputtered a gasp as he scrambled to his feet, setting off the cuffs again causing him to stumble over himself and crash into the side of the bulkhead. Once again, the cuffs discharged due to the jostle and a surge pulsated into his body. He screamed in pain and frustration.

His lightsaber should do quick work of these damn cuffs! Jorad searched for his weapon frantically while half crawling, half dragging his body on the floor. He must have dropped it around here somewhere... After awhile he realized it was gone and in a rage, he screamed into the empty cargo hold. "They took my lightsaber!? Those bugsluts!!" Panting, he struggled to his feet once again with the instant knee-jerk reaction to chase after them ... but then it dawned on the Inquisitor that *another* Inquisitor might very well be on her way to collect him as he fumbled around like an idiot. It was highly possible that Mark reported the entire incident to the Interrogator. He couldn't be sure how long he was passed out, but if he was out of it for only a little while, he may still have a chance of escaping the High Inquisitor's wrath. "The hell with this!" He didn't even have time anymore to try to remove the cuffs, he needed to get off of this planet now! Distraught and distressed, Jorad hurried to the cockpit but was having a terrible time using his useless arms pulling the appropriate levers and activating the right buttons.

"Come on!" He growled in heated agitation as he floundered around in a flustered fashion. He didn't have direct use of his arms, and in his contested dispute with the controls, he inflicted himself again and again with a steady jolt from the cuffs, each shock contorted his form and rendered his efforts useless until he collapsed to the deck exhausted and wheezing. Desperation was starting to take hold of him, as he recklessly attempted to pull his arms under his body and up over his legs so at least he could use his fingers to grip, but the motion continued to administer agony with every exertion. Finally, he had freed his arms from behind him and he wearily stood to prep his ship for departure. He would escape this day, but many a night would plague him for fear of retribution by High Inquisitor Thanor.

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