To Catch a Coyote, Part 1

Brant walked away from the BBA pet class as quietly as he had come. The edge of his robe was soggy where a kath hound had kept gnawing on it, and little imprints of its hoofs were all over his legs and torso where it had kept jumping up on him. He had sensed the beast was only excited to get out of its cage, so Brant hadn’t been particularly hard on it despite the bad behavior.

He knew what that felt like, after all.

Continue reading “To Catch a Coyote, Part 1”

Yin and Yang

Frustrations and anger pounded on his senses. His desire to master Lii’s form fought with the fear that there was something wrong here, something heretical, and both Brant’s senses wrestled with a further inkling that he was scraping the nose of a whale. Like a monster underwater, there was power here, in what Lii did, something altogether unlike what the Sith Academy had taught him.

Lii’s demeanor was very… Jedi-ish, to Brant. Lii spoke of calm and focus, yet he also spoke of reaching that state through emotions, rather than lack thereof like a Jedi might. It stuck in Brant’s mind like a wrench jabbed into the interior of an engine. How was one calm and emotional at the same time?

As Lii bade him, Brant scraped his memories for a time he had been in a similar state. Emotions, Brant knew well. He knew the heart-racing thrill of skimming a starfighter over the surface of an enemy capitol ship, the hit-the-roof terror of a punitive Overseer turning his way with lightning on their hands, the mind-stopping fury of a rival gloating over him as he lay on the dueling ring floor with blood in his mouth.

But these were not the things Lii sought, for they were not also calm. Continue reading “Yin and Yang”

The Dream

“What does that button do?”

“That’s the throttle.”

“And that one?”

“The landing gear.”

“And THAT one?”

The old Mandalorian sighed and rolled his eyes. “That’s the ejector switch, for the seat you’re sitting in right now.”

The little boy’s blue eyes went wide. “Whoa…”

Continue reading “The Dream”

Rain of Darkness

It was raining when Brant set down just outside of Dewlight. It was always raining on Auratera now, the clouds thick and black as if they were made up of something other than water vapor. Brant turned up his collar, wishing he had thought to bring a hat. His presence in Dewlight was supposed to be a secret, so he didn’t dare wear a Sith’s robe and hood, though he gloomily reflected that, too, would have been suitable for the constant downpour.

Gamely pushing past his distaste for the wet, Brant spent most of the first day scoping out the small city. He visited the governmental buildings, asked to see a record or two under the plea of historical interest, even signed on for a tour of the President’s Palace — anything, in reality, to get closer to his mark, though the actual assassination would have to come later.

Continue reading “Rain of Darkness”

To Find a Master

Brant spat blood on the plating of the Nar Shaddaa streets, glaring at the retreating back of his master. He should have expected that punch. He really should have. Did he think just because he had somehow snagged the attention of a Dark Councilor, he would not be above more beatings? Brant cursed in Mando’a. Of course that would have been too easy…

Continue reading “To Find a Master”

Beasts and Birds

So, obviously the crows and sparrows here aren’t like Earth’s crows and sparrows because this is Star Wars; I just didn’t want to go hunting down an appropriate name for them. I picture these ones something like an archaeoptryx.

Author’s Note

Brant watched the birds scrabble in the courtyard. It was midday, and the Academy preparers had just finished putting together the slop normally fed to the Acolytes. Typically the scraps and cuttings went into the incinerator, transported there by an astromech droid, but the droid was getting old, and it would leak and drop pieces of food across the courtyard as it rattled along, and the birds would come to fight over them.

Today, along with the usual sparrows, had come some great crows and a vulture. All the sparrows scattered when the crows came down to snatch up their meals, and the crows scattered before the vulture. Yet there were a few among the sparrows who didn’t take off when the bigger birds came, but instead chose to hop about just out of their reach. When the crows weren’t looking, they’d dart in to snatch at the food, cleverly backing out again once they tasted of it.

Yet there was one in particular who seemed to make it his mission to antagonize the crows before flying off. Whenever a crow settled, its lizard-like tail draped calmly over the balcony rail as it ate, the sparrow would dart to it and, nip, sink its tiny teeth into the crow’s gray, feather-bared tail.

Continue reading “Beasts and Birds”

Last Night

This one takes a darker turn after the events in “The Mettle of a Mandalorian”. It might be a tough read, but it seemed important to me, both to show the developing bond between these two, as well as the nature of trauma. It carries references to “The Crucible of Korriban” and “The Mirages of Tatooine”.

Author’s Note

Kellaro’s face was gray, but his leg was grayer. Brant banged into his ward in the infirmary, expecting mayhem or murder after his brother’s frightened holocall in the middle of the night, but it was just Kellaro lying there, propped up in his pillows, and rubbing, rubbing, rubbing at his leg like it was one of the djinn lanterns from the stories.

Brant groaned, rubbed his eyes as he relaxed back against the door. “Whatever’s going on, it’s way too early for this,” he muttered. He squinted at Kellaro between his fingers. “So what’s the matter, exactly? Bad dream? Too much spice?”

“My leg,” said Kellaro tensely. Continue reading “Last Night”

The Mettle of the Mandalorian

Some of this echoes “Battle Over Odessen” for how Keel’ath handles the news his sons have gone MIA. It takes place sometime after “The Middleman”, but Vette is chilly towards Brant once again, due to a fight that took place offscreen that I have yet to write.

I made the decision to use the crew’s last names here, a difficult choice in any kind of fiction where both names are given. Kellaro is the one exception because he doesn’t have a last name, as Mako doesn’t have one, and Keel’ath left his behind long before the twins were born.

Author’s Note

“Wait, where’s Kellaro?”

Jorgan just eyed Brant and said nothing as he carried Dorne past, one arm of hers slung around his broad Cathar shoulders. Brant stood by — was forced to, as M1-4X rumbled past, also carrying a trooper in its arms. Once the droid was out of the way, Brant tailed the Cathar, snapping:

“Answer me, cat! Where is the major?”

“He fell,” the Cathar finally said, but only after he had gently laid Dorne onto one of the beds in the medical bay. Continue reading “The Mettle of the Mandalorian”

Sketches of Lightsabers

Two shorts regarding the mismatched lightsabers of Brant and Lathril. The first short takes place shortly after “The Mirages of Tatooine”, while the latter occurs sometime after “A Jedi’s Failing”.

Author’s Note

The lightsaber sang as he cut through the air with it. It had been the property of a Jedi’s, and like most such lightsabers, he picked it up expecting it to scream in agony, until it either cracked or submitted to his will, like his red lightsaber had done those years ago on Dromund Kaas. He was putting the weapon through its paces now, testing its fortitude now that it had been through one battle in his hands already. Merce wasn’t sure what to think of the results so far; the blade remained stubbornly blue.

Some lightsabers like this remained defiant for years, Merce knew, their cries of a harsh pitch, ping-ponging around in his head like a childhood ditty he couldn’t forget. Like all things conquered by the Sith, though, eventually they would crack and bleed, red staining the blade and attuning the kyber crystal inside them forever to the Dark Side.

This lightsaber, though, truly sang with joy in his hands. It loved to move, cutting arcs and dodging in and out of his legs and arms like a dancer, moving with a grace all its own that he didn’t have to force. When Merce ignited both ends, he could almost make an entire world for himself, spinning the double-bladed weapon in figures about his head or to either side in a classic defensive stance; it created a curtain of song, that he could use to cut out the harshness of the world around him.

Though he had been expecting a battle of wills, it had become almost meditative as he spun through his exercises. He could sense their energies merging, like any properly broken-in lightsaber should do with its wielder, but unlike his old lightsaber, this was not a subjugating of the kyber, but almost a freeing. It was like the music he had once heard on Vette’s little hijacked holocom: full of Sith-like passion, but also something greater and grander, like the dance of planets around a star or the stars around the center of the galaxy. He had no name for it, but he recognized it even so, like an old grandmother he had only met once as a child, and he could sense the lightsaber waving back at him, coy and smug in his recollection.

He could not hide his pleasure from Vette as he finally shut off the lightsaber and joined her by the fire, but at least she seemed to know better than to ask questions about it. Their relationship had improved markedly since their crossing of the Dune Sea and his recovery from the terrible Tusken poison. Merce didn’t want to think about why, because in thinking about why, he also remembered how, and that spiked him with fear and shame that he had been so disarmed up front of her.

No, he preferred the dance of the lightsaber, because even while it pulled him into dangerous mental territory, where no Sith was ever meant to go, it was also unquestionably deadly.