In The Land Of The Barabel!

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Selona 18th 3632 bby


Nar Shaddaa, orbit.


Karter had been held up in orbit for hours by the pirates-in-all-but-name who actually controlled Nar Shaddaa at the behest of Hutt Gangsters. Their cruiser had forced the ship to stay in orbit while they checked his claims of a pre-arranged meeting with a mid level Hutt Gangster he had done business with on Brentaal. The Hutt in question, Rejekk The Hutt, was not among the most powerful. His ownings and interests were modest. But he was not without his weight either. Someone would get punished if they crossed him. Rejekk, it turned out, unlike a lot of Hutts, understood the value of restraint but was nonetheless rather vicious when crossed. But he was strangely cautious also. Karter liked that about Rejekk, interestingly enough. 


Karter had been stewing in the co-pilots seat for the past fifteen minutes, waiting for clearance. He was quaking with rage at being held up for so long, unable to do anything about his current situation as he waited.


Finally, a ping on the comms caught his attention. "You've been cleared to land. Your arrangement with Rejekk will not be disrupted. But a warning first: WE may have beneficial arrangements with Rejekk, but other crews in orbit might not. Keep it in mind and be prepared to negotiate in the future," the voice of the male captain on the other end warned.


"Understood," he said, turning to Kal in the Pilot's seat. "Pilot in slowly. And let me do the talking. I've done business with Rejekk once before. Don't let people brush against you...there are pickpockets everywhere. We'll likely be under observation the moment we enter the compound. After we land, prepare the weapon shipments we stole: Not good to enter a crimelord's lair without a gift. I'll talk price for them and then find out about this assignment he wanted me for. Above all show respect. Show no fear. They smell fear and will use it as weapon of intimidation," he instructed his new employee.

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Kal nodded, pressing a few buttons and easing on the thrusters. The silver handles helped ease up on the piloting, which was good, but also more so for him to see the planet with its blinking golden lights on the planet's surface. In all honesty, this was his first time heading for Nar Shaddaa and already he felt at home here. Maybe he could do the job of a smuggler, but that would mean he would have to kill Jedi... great. But which Jedi would he kill?


"And if they don't negotiate? What then, Karter?" Kal asked, softly but loud enough for his Dark Jedi employer to hear. It was a good question, but even that didn't ease his confusion and nervousness. Sure, he would get the shipment ready for selling, but just what were they facing? What did the Rejekk look like? Come on, he knew he recognized species... but not all of them. Oh boy. Just what was he getting himself into?

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"I don't think they won't negotiate on a relatively insignificant matter such as the weapons we stole. But if they decide to be stupid, be ready to shoot. You ever seen those ridiculously violent action holos where, like, people are all flying around, dual wielding blaster pistols and like, for whatever reason, when some one draws a pistol or opens fire, white little birds end up flying around super dramatic and shavit? Yeah, uh, don't do that. You will die. Painfully. Super painfully. Find cover and shoot from cover. Dual wielding is possible but it requires training I haven't had time to impart yet. Or if you can run and shoot, move from cover to cover. But, don't pull a weapon until I do. Oh, and, uh, you're gonna want to wear some armor. I got a stolen police vest with some durasteel plating. I think it'll fit you. Left it in your room this morning. It'll protect your chest, but not much else. Remember, follow my lead," he explained before getting up out of the co-pilot's seat. He headed to his quarters retrieving his own, personal red lightsaber. He had grown used to his weapon, had become one with it. He knew it now better than he knew the back of his own hand.


He hid it up the sleeve of his own black jacket, getting into a lotus position and meditated, focusing on his rage and hatred towards the Jedi, shutting the door to his quarters with telekinesis. He had used the tip of his blade previously to trace a sign on its surface, in case Kal forgot his rule.


It read, in large, jagged letters, KNOCK FIRST!

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Kal nodded. "Understood." Well, if he was to get somewhere in life as a smuggler, this would have to do. Taking his time, as much time as there could be, he set the ship in autopilot and charged off towards his cabin. He sighed. Well, he made a little effort in decorating his room, with some pictures of his friends, who he abandoned and stunned back home. It wasn't the best reminder, but it would do. At least, he knew what would happen if he returned home to Alderaan... he would be in trouble for sure.


The police uniform certainly gave way to a more durable asset. Besides, the given color choice, which was black, the uniform fortunately had that vest. Well, at least Karter was sensible there. He strapped on the clothes, checked the suit twice to make sure his chest wasn't too bulky and returned to the cockpit. In haste, he flipped the autopilot switch to manual control. Good. That was done. Now, he needed to find the docking bay and reach the planet's surface, beforehand. He looked above his head. It had gone from inky black to a swelling on sunlight.


Well, this was it. This was where his smuggling expertise would come in handy. He looked around for his employer. Surely, Karter would want to know they had arrived. "Karter, we're here." They were in the docking bay. He pressed the button for the landing gear. The ship docked with ease. He sighed. So far, so good. Now on to get those weapons.

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Karter rose from his meditation, properly focused now that he had immersed himself in his hatred. He exited his quarters, face concealed under his hood. He exited the ship, finding a Rodian in green combat armor escorted by bodyguards.


"Rejekk will see you now, please follow us," the Rodian ordered them.


Karter followed, calling out to Kal. "There's a cart next to the weapon cases, load them on and follow me."




Rejekk's compound on Nar Shaddaa was deep in the urban center, an unassuming, converted and reinforced black office building about six stories high with gold tinted transparisteel windows. Karter and company were led past the security checkpoint at the front lobby.


Karter took note of the surroundings in the interior. Creamy pastel walls and ceiling with amber running lights and a gold marble floor. The dozens of guards armed with slugthrowers caused Karter to realize Rejekk had told them about him.


Fine. He could deal.


The black doors ahead, giant and carved with simple engravings slid open revealing Rejekk the Hutt resting on a golden sofa, flanked by a golden protocol droid and two gold painted Twi-lek slaves wearing VERY little. Karter was reminded of that senator he had once rescued with Arkanus. He almost smiled but crushed the good memory. He had to focus on the now. Focus on the hate.


The room was vast, filled with pilferred museum pieces from the Great Sith War. Ancient armor, mostly. 


"Mighty Rejekk, good to see you," Karter said with proper deference. He sweapt a hand behind him. "I bring you a minor gift. Sonic pistols, custom jobs from an Alderaanian palace. One of a kind.


The Hutt spoke slowly. Karter sensed Rejekk seemed pleased.


"Rejekk thanks you for your gift. He is prepared to offer you twelve thousand for the whole thing."


Hmmph, not what Karter had been expecting but he could deal. He still had one more play though.


Karter removed the lightsaber of the Jedi he had slain on Alderaan from his jacket. He flashed the blade on. It was yellow in color.


Rejekk's eyes widened. He spoke quicker now to his droid.


"Mighty Rejekk is prepared to offer you twenty four thousand credits for your rare, yellow bladed saber."


"Done," Karter confirmed.


"Rejekk is also prepared to offer you access to his markets as a gesture of gratitude," the droid continued. "Provided of course you are willing to accept his mission."


"Of course. I and my employee stand ready to serve your interests."


Rejekk spoke quicker in Huttese.


"Mighty Rejekk wishes you to journey to an obscure planet of great danger known as Barab 1. It is an irradiated wasteland and uninhabitable in the daytime, and just barely tolerable at night. Severe torrential downpours. Vicious predators. You will be delivering a shipment of blaster cannons and grenades to a strong tribe of Barabel, so that they may wipe out a rival tribe. Complete this task, and you will be greatly rewarded. Not only with credits, but with something relevant to your situation..."


Karter raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"


Rejekk snapped his stubby fingers, and a small cylinder was brought out, and the droid opened it.


Karter stared at the drawing. It was a drawing of a curved hilt lightsaber.


"I presume you have the scematic that goes with that drawing. One question...how? The Jedi guard such knowledge jealousy."


"You are aware of the recent bombing of Tython?" The droid inquired. 


Karter had heard something about that. Satele Shan herself had been killed in it. And while he hoped his brother had survived, and maybe Brison, though his feelings towards her were VERY mixed, along with Inoy, for the rest, he merely regarded it as divine punishment from God, their Karma for destroying the Confederacy.


To be honest, he had considered abandoning his crusade against the order then and there, but the Order needed to understand why such a thing had been rendered to their doorstep. It wasn't enough that Karma had exacted its wrath for the Jedi's hubris...the last confederate survivor had to render his own wrath before he was satisfied that the Jedi had been sufficiently punished.


"I am," Karter answered. "I presume you managed to steal it?"


"Not quite. When the wretched Jedi Order fled their temple, many attempted to carry multiple documents with them. Some were lightsaber schematics. When they were all captured, inside men who had managed to insert themselves into the teams responsible for cataloging all seized contraband and equipment seized documents also. As some were relatively unsecured, photos were taken before put into storage as originally intended. This was one of those documents," the droid finished. "As Rejekk is aware of your nature as a Dark Jedi, he is prepared to reward you with this should your mission on Barab be successful."


Karter bowed. "I accept your mission. When do I leave?"


"As soon as possible. Rest first, and avail yourself of our resident merchants on the second floor," the droid answered as cases of credits were dropped at Karters feet by surrounding guards.


It was time to go shopping.

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Kal left the craft to the Hutt. They were in good hands now, but it was sad to see his family heirlooms (yes, he was including the rifles) be sold to anyone, particularly a Hutt. As far as he could remember, he didn't exactly have any love for the Hutts. They were the one creature he couldn't stand, particularly for his own reasons. They were selfish. They knew hardly nothing about self-sacrifice. All they cared about was money.


From his past, there had been a fallout once between his parents and the Hutts. The arrangement was over the one Hutt, who Kal hardly recalled its name, taking about three crates filled with the ceremonial rifles for a low sum. He already could sense it was a bad thing to do, let alone seek out this Hutt. His parents did raise the price and ended up with a good amount of money, but why were his parents selling weapons to the Hutts in the first place? To keep an alliance between them. He admitted he loved his parents and his family, but there were some things even he wish he could have done better. it was no wonder he left Alderaan in the first place.


"Karter, do we really have to barter with Hutts?" Kal asked, the minute they were away from Rajekk's ears. "Couldn't we have sold the rifles to someone better? I know my parents sell their rifles at much higher prices. They're a specialty weapon, true, but... I have my own faults with the Hutts. My parents sold weapons to them. The same weapons you sold to this Hutt. its one reason why I left Alderaan. But to do this again... don't you think we've picked the wrong buyer?"

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Mr. Vonnar, in a perfect world, we probably could have, but the truth is the very people who would buy weapons illegally are often the very same people you would never be comfortable turning your back on," Karter answered. And frankly, Crime is part of the culture when it comes to the Hutts. Also, the Hutt is my only real contact here. All other prospects are much more cutt throat and dangerous. You gotta start small when you're a criminal," Karter went on, heading up a carpeted flight of stairs to the second floor. "Aim too high, too soon, try and screw anyone before you're ready and you'll likely be found in a gutter or worse. In short, all crime, no matter who you engage with in the committing of it, is dangerous. You aware that in doing what we just did we broke enough laws that if it had been a core world, we would probably be behind a nice, painful force field?" he asked, hauling the case full of credits upward. "Seems your family liked to get dirty occasionally. Hipocrisy takes many forms, it seems."


Karter reached the second floor and saw a bunch of mercenaries and other shady types examining weapons and armor behind the counter of a number of merchants, some Twi'lek, some Muun, some human.


"Remember, keep close, stay quiet unless you need to speak to me and don't talk to anyone else," he reminded Kal.


Karter made his way past the other criminals. He spotted one merchant, a tall, lordly Muun in gray robes, bidding him forth.


"Welcome! We sell to anyone approved by Rejekk!" he said happily.


"And if he makes back some of the money he paid out just now, so the better," Karter noted. 


The Muun seemed to cop to it. "You will find my merchandise worth it, I assure you. I even have some stuff we managed to smuggle off Tython after the Senate torched it."


"What sort of stuff?" Karter asked.


"Some of the salvage crews in the Republic kicked a few things our way. Stealth equipped ships landed a few days later to get some of the choicier tidbits in the ruins. Bits of armor, crystals. The same thing happened after the temple was destroyed on Coruscant during the sacking. Very difficult to pull that last one off, the Imperial presence was intense. Fortunately some in the Republic are a lot more malleable to our temptations," the merchant said with a grin.


"Sounds like you and Rejekk associate with Exchange or Black Sun on occasion."


"Arms length, really. But profitable. Here, let me show you..."


The Muun gestured behind him and Karter stared at a large, cylindrical machine about two thirds his height.


"A geo-compressor. We found it with a note tagged to it that said 'Confiscated'.


Karter instantly understood its importance. Brison had explained to him how synthetic crystals were made in detail. Who better than she to explain it?


"How much?" He asked. 


"Twenty-five hundred, plus an orange synth we found in the ruins thrown in for free," The Merchant replied. "We also uncovered more military minded equipment from the dead soldiers killed in the attack."




The Merchant retrieved a case and opened it.


There was a gauntlet with some kind of nozzel like attachment mounted on it.


"A wrist mounted flame projector ripped from a dead Republic Commando's hand."


"Convenient Rejekk would make all this available the day I come in," Karter noted.


"Rejekk sees great potential in you. Potential to advance himself but he knows investment potential," the Merchant explained. 


"I guess. How much?"


"A thousand credits, plus two hundred for the micro fuel tanks needed to use it properly," the merchant replied.


Karter turned to Kal. "Best stock up on something if you're going to."

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Kal observed the merchandise with interest. Okay, what was he going to buy? He was a smuggler, he might as well start owning up to it... but then, he needed to look for something he could use. Something useful. Something that wouldn't draw too much attention and yet, still would be important... wait. There was a rebreather. He hadn't had one of those before... not in a long time anyway.


"How much for the rebreather?" Kal asked the merchant.


"For that. 1,000 credits," the merchant told him.


"No problem," Kal said, handing to the merchant the 1,000 credits. He grinned sheepishly Karter's way. He knew what he was doing... at least, for the moment.


"Here you are. Finest rebreather available," the merchant said, passing to him a rather fancy rebreather.


"Does it work properly?" Kal asked, testing the rebreather, barely spending a minute with the thing wrapped around his nose and mouth.


"It'll work fine. What else do rebreathers do?" the merchant told him.


Kal right away took it off. It seemed all right. At least he could breathe in it. "Now, let me see. What else to find?" He hoped he didn't take too long or annoy Karter with his shopping. Still, it was worth the trip.

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Karter let Kal get a feel for how the market worked while he went around to see what else was available.


"Remember, we are on a budget, and need to save enough for fuel purchases. Lets try and keep costs down, we're almost at five thousand already,' he said quietly, though he took a look at other weapons. Didn't hurt to be prepped.


"What's that?" Karter asked, pointing to a interesting looking short, stocky slug thrower with a banana type clip. It looked short...too short to be a carbine.


"That is a SMG. The blueprints for it were stolen from Blastech about a year back, got sold on the market, and have enjoyed steady purchase rates ever since," the Muun answered.




"Nine millimeter. Going price is three hundred and fifty credits, plus sixty credits for three, forty round clips of ammunition."


"Done," Karter said, backing off. "Have everything I ordered delivered to the ship. I'd get weapons if I were you, Kal. Might come in handy. I'll be waiting downstairs," Karter said, heading to the staircase after paying out for everything ordered.


As he walked down stairs, the Demon chose to take the opportunity to bubble up from his psyche and annoy him. As always, the Demon bore the appearance of Cyra's sith form, a scantily clad, curvaceous woman with light brown skin, jet black hair that went down to her back, and glowing, all red eyes.


"See you've managed to find some other poor young man oblivious to what kind of person you are. Inoy had the benefit of being good hearted. Kal...he's just naive. Once he catches on to how crazy you REALLY are, he'll ditch you," The Demon mocked.


"Kal wants independence," Karter said under his breath as he headed down the steps. "He robbed his own home, thats how badly he wanted out: being a criminal was preferable to a life of doing what everyone told him. I ccan work with that as long as I play my cards carefully."


"He's a simpering moralizer," the Demon sneered. "He's skittish as is. I'm telling ya', you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Only reason you refuse to listen is because you desperately wanted someone to talk to who wasn't trying to kill, arrest, or coerce you into an even more warped point of view."


"I needed an actual assistant."


"Liar," the Demon said. "Why can't you just admit it? Your cause is utterly hopeless. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are completely unprepared, and with a bad cause to start with," the Demon protested. "At first, perhaps, you may make some small headway, but as your resources run out, cut off from the amenities of both sides you shun, as your enemies grow more determined, you will be driven to the absolute bottom that any adept can face. In the end, unless you let go of your pride, and beg your loved ones for forgiveness you must see in the end that you will fail."


"Better to die fighting than live as a slave to the Force like my brother," Karter snapped. "Or Cyra."


The Demon looked at him sadly before vanishing.

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Kal looked once more at the weapons. There were so many blasters, of different shapes and sizes - some color styles he quite enjoyed - that it was hard to pick which one. That is until he saw the lilac-blue sonic blaster. It certainly looked unique and lightweight when he picked it up, as if it hadn't been properly modified or was in its beginning roots. He turned his gaze to the seller, intent on buying the blaster.


"Um, how much for the sonic blaster?" Kal asked him.


"For that blaster, five hundred credits. It hasn't been modified. Just came out and new for its class," the seller told him.


Kal pulled out his credits, passing them to the seller. "Here you are. And I didn't buy too much either." Lucky him, the holster came with the blaster. Deciding to test it out, he strapped the holster to his waist, before plucking the blaster out and shooting it at something.




"Wow," Kal said, delighted to see the blaster worked.


"Hey! What are you trying to do, huh?" the seller asked, completely beside himself.


"Whoops. Sorry there," Kal said, slotting his blaster back into its sheath. He turned to Karter with a warm smile, "So, I did good, eh?"

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The Dark Jedi face-palmed himself.


"Mr. Vonnar, you've just discharged a fire-arm among gangsters. Never do that. Please. You'll draw so much attention to yourself. It's like saying 'Here I am! Shoot me immediately!'" He answered sarcastically. "Super fun time for everyone!"


As if to validate his point he pointed behind Vonnar, showing a bunch of mercs with their hands on their guns, staring nervously in their direction. 


"Its ok! He's new! And he's...eager! Like, super-duper eager! Y'all can...like...relax now! Sorta."


The mercs stared for a moment at both of them, shrugged, and took their hands off their weapons.


"That being said it looks like you are doing well so far, gotta be more low key though. Never show all your cards, Kal. Keep 'em guessing. Its not good to strike before you are ready. Not good at all. Now, off we go back to the ship. We've got some prepping to do for Barab, and I don't want you going in completely unprepared," Karter instructed, turning from him and heading for the exit.




As the merchandise was loaded on to the ship, about eight crates of deadly weapons disguised as ration shipments for Sapientarian relief, along with radiation suits as a fail safe for Barab's surface, so too had come all the Karter had ordered, which he had Kal loading aboard for all of it, of course. Not because he was abusing his position as captain, but to teach Kal discipline, toughen him up by getting his hands rough. His skill with a pistol was obvious, but he was clearly a parlor shooter who had obviously never been intended to apply the skill save in self defense, to say nothing of what a life of easy living had done. The boy needed to develop ambition, tenacity, general surly thuggishness if he was to make it as a smuggler. Karter felt bad, messing a perfectly innocent person up potentially, but it wasn't as though he twisted Kal's arm: Everyone found their way to be a bastard when it suited them. And besides, Karter had crossed a serious line on Brentaal, one he was still having nightmares over. He got shakes sometimes when he thought of that drained civvie's aged face. Turning Kal into a hoodlum would probably be the last thing that would cause him to lose sleep in the end. Maybe.


As he had made certain Kal was busy, He had loaded the only thing in that shipment that truly mattered, the Geo-Compressor, into his personal quarters, checking the quality of the orange Synth that had come with it, and quietly began to meditate with it. 


To focus himself, he recalled the feeling of rage and hatred when he had seen that holo of the Jedi killing his former comrades, and he let that loathing infuse him as he meditated, letting it seep into the crystal's recesses.


There was another form of hatred he had grown to rely on. The hatred of the self.


He hated himself for what he was doing, hated himself for failing Uriek. Hated himself for being so weak Brison abandoned him. Brison...


The flashes of the aged civilians face came across his mind, but he steeled himself for them, using it to empower himself. To disregard that level of suffering. He had to punish the Jedi for Uriek. Had to. Do or die, succeed or fail, there was no happy ending. 


Slowly, the crystal began to internalize all that self loathing, to become it. It would take a few hours to infuse it completely.


Everything in him hurt, and nothing dulled it. The revenge was what mattered now. In truth, Karter had nothing left. His life as an officer of the law was utterly irrelevant now. He could be honest...he hadn't believed in society for a long time...didn't even think it was worth conquering, as the Sith did.


He just wanted his revenge, and then whatever happened afterward, he didn't care. He'd be perfectly happy to lay down and die, hash it out with the devil as to what circle he belonged in. Probably the one reserved for betrayers. Not that the betrayed had given him any incentive or decent argument to stay on their side.


After about three hours, when he was pretty certain Kal had had more than enough time to load everything and then rest up, he exited his quarters.


"Mr. Vonnar, I presume you've had a long enough break. Its time to take off. Prep the engines. I'll punch in the coordinates to Barab One. Once we're in transit, I start prepping you for what to expect. I've heard of these Barabel...and trust me, you're gonna want to practice, because the Barabel aren't affected by normal blasters," he explained, heading to the co-pilot's seat.

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Kal saluted. "You've got it, sir." Sir? Saluting? Was he asking for trouble? Then again, being a smuggler might not be such a bad life... as long as he didn't kill any Jedi. That was the last thing that crossed his mind. Who knew? Maybe he could find his own way to becoming a smuggler, even if it wasn't the typical way to go about it.


Still, he took the pilot's seat, before Karter said another word. Oh, what did Kal know? Karter, his employer, would likely lecture him again... no, no. He mustn't anger this fellow. That would be bad. What was he supposed to do again? Oh, that's right! Barabel. Well, he hoped the locals were friendly. Still, the red shapes were starting to scare him. He was over the fear, sure, but maybe someday he would afford a ship of his own. One that didn't creep oneself out, even in the darkness.


"Strapped in and ready for flight," Kal said, pressing the right buttons. And... yes! They were locked into the ship's coordinates. "Let's see what this ship'll do." They were off into the air in no time.

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"Did...did he just salute you?" The Demon asked as it appeared out from nowhere out the corner of his eye. "He totes just saluted you. You're a captain, baby!"


He ignored the red-eyed woman who wasn't there as they begin take-off proceedures. As they lifted off and were soon heading into space, Karter began entering the hyperspace coordinates he had been given for Barab One.


The world turned to a blueish white streak as the ship lurched into hyperspace.


As Karter checked the controls, he turned to look at Kal. The boy was at juxtaposition with his actions. What WAS Vonnar's end game? He wanted to be a smuggler, be free...but to what end? Was he thinking to get rich? Get famous? It was likely neither would happen. Smugglers lived job to job, and being famous was the kind of attention you DIDN'T want...at least, not if you were a good smuggler.


Whatever Kal wanted, he had wanted it bad enough that he had stuck around with a Dark Jedi, even after learning he was working for a Dark Jedi. Had the rich life been really that bad or was he that naive as to how dangerous his new boss was?


Perhaps he shouldn't be quite so perplexed. After all, he himself had gotten disenfranchised by normalcy in the end. Was it really so hard to believe that was all Kal was? A guy who had one day realized his cage was just that?


Or was he seeing too much of himself in Vonnar? Was he just projecting, like he had with Inoy? He honestly couldn't tell.


Either way, he needed to sharpen his new lackey. Make him more than a useful pilot.


Karter put the ship on auto-flight. They had a while before they reached Barab. 


"Mr. Vonnar, follow me," Karter ordered heading for the lounge area of the ship. "We're going to have a couple of shooting lessons for you. You know how to fight in self defense, but I'm going to show you how to go on the offensive. It probably won't be of much help on Barab One, as the Barabel's hide is too thick for ordinary blasters but since your little purchase conveniently ignores that weakness, the training will prove useful nonetheless," he explained, having been wanting to do something like this since first acquiring Vonnar's services, and having set up a few items, such as an ordinarly laser pistol at a weakened setting for Vonnar to use during shooting. But the targets he would have Vonnar trying to hit would be very, very small...and fast moving...



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"Okay," Kal nodded his approval, taking the blaster Karter had on hand.


Yes, he knew he should be friendly to his Dark Jedi friend, since he was his employer. At the same time, he remembered a fragment of a couple of articles he read in his parents' control room back on Alderaan. Something about a man named Karter and the fact that he was wanted. Kal himself could admit, at that time, he wouldn't harm Jedi, but he was specific to just that. Also, if all worked according to plan, there may have been another way this could all go down. Sure, he was asking to be a smuggler, but he knew his end game, as did his family. This was only the beginning of unraveling the mystery behind Karter. And it started now...


Oh, he needed to focus. Right then! There was the target. And bam! He was off.


"Whoops," Kal said, sheepishly. Had he done that on purpose? Or was he here to annoy Karter? Remember the plan. Remember why I'm a smuggler, Kal thought. He smiled. "Did I do it right?" He knew it did it wrong, but oh well. Fair was fair.

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"Your reflexes are too slow," Karter critiqued the young man, lifting a small metal ball with telekinesis and hurling it at a speed that while it would hurt if it connected, wouldn't be fatal, right at Kal's chest.


"Shooting small, fast moving targets, is a difficult but worthwhile skill. When you get good at shooting small targets moving quickly, you get better at shooting larger ones with wide profiles and moving slower. Its reflexes, split second decision making, and a general willingness to go for lethal shots that will make you a marksman with pistols. Always go for the chest, to be practical, head if you're good, and have high confidence."


To demonstrate, Karter took small metal spheres from a table, a weakened laser pistol for himself and hurled them Kal's way.


His reflexes kicked in and the world seemed to slow down as he took careful aim, as they fell through the air around Vonnar, but not near Kal himself. Three in all.


He targeted them, and a lifetime of shooting paid off, targeting each, firing in split seconds, the laser scouring each of the spheres, one above Kal's head to the right of him, the other hit as it descended past Kal's left arm, the last hit inches before it hit the floor between Kal's legs.


"When you get reflexes like that, that is the moment you become dangerous with guns. Me, I got good due to a lifetime of practice. You will probably not reach this point for a while, but the more you practice, the closer you get. Lets start with one sphere."


Karter hurled another at him with telekinesis at a higher speed. He would up the difficulty as Kal progressed, even though this was learning kind of fast as it was.


The Demon suddenly appeared next to Kal, sipping on what appeared to be a milkshake. "Careful, Karter. He might be a normal, but you know better than most how dangerous a normal man is. How hard they can be to put down. Careful you don't make him too good...you might regret it later on, molding the poor boy in your image..."


Karter maintained a stoic expression, taking comfort only in the fact Kal couldn't see her.

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Kal managed to raise an eyebrow. Karter definitely looked like he was talking to someone. Who didn't matter. Were all Dark Jedi like this? Oh, right. The target. Remember what he had to do... and...




He was hitting the target, but then at the same time he hoped to confuse Karter. No, maybe that would make him mad. But then...


"So, tell me, what made you become a Dark Jedi?" Kal asked, in-between shots. "Was it a worthwhile trip? Or do you Jedi become dark and light all on your own?" To be honest, he was intrigued by the Light Jedi over the Dark, but he didn't want to risk giving that away if Karter grew suspicious of him. Throughout his life, he always saw the Jedi as those woven through the Force, guided by the Light and find the afterlife a pleasant place. Being around Karter already gave him a different perspective, but he had to remember the plan. He wasn't just an ordinary smuggler.... well, his shooting could use some work. Or maybe he was just goofing off again. Oh well. Might as well gain some practice while he was here... and he was perhaps upsetting Karter... or rather choosing to annoy him. He smirked again with great effort. "So, how did I do?"

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"It wasn't an instant thing...some hatreds take a long time to form. To be justified. Me? I did not hate the Order originally. I was indifferent to it. And then...my brother was born..."


Karter was not certain why he was answering...perhaps he needed to voice the reasoning behind his recent decisions out loud, see if someone, anyone could understand why he hated the Order...even if they could not sympathize.


"He was just a child when he grew that tree with his mind by accident. It was a beautiful tree, full of flowers...but the act sealed his fate. The Force runs strong in my family, who, even if we did not give children to the order, used our innate talants to hunt Darksiders. It is a foolish loyalty. And it has brought us nothing but pain and suffering. And when the Jedi of Tython came, for my family refuses Green Jedi recruiters due to long standing and ancient prejudices, my father at first refused to give him to the order, as he had with me...but...my mother had other ideas. My brother was stronger in the Force than I was. Nobody pulls off a technique like that at that age normally. My sensitivity to the Force didn't begin until I was much older. When I had...done things..."


Karter paced about, spinning his simple laser pistol with a deftness that was truly a sight. The trigger guard seemed to glide around his finger as though it were in orbit.


"Taking my brother was the start of it all, I suppose. The start of it...but not the end of it. As I told you when we first met, the Jedi are NOT the good guys in all this. They killed my comrades themselves or had soldiers and bounty hunters do it for them...all because we didn't want to obey their every silly rule. They talk about peace and tolerance, but the moment you step out of line...they bring the hammer down. Encounter enough of them yourself, look past their facade, and you will see only a dogmatic zealot. The younger ones, the padawans aren't so bad...most of them still have their independence...but the older ones are insufferable. Might as well be drones. And hypocritical ones at that. They look down on your profession...and yet, when times are rough, some become willing to overlook your criminal activity in exchange for being able to get somewhere undetected. They talk about wanting to protect ordinary people yet devorce themselves from a normal life. How can you protect someone if you can't relate to their situation?" 


Karter stopped, turning to Kal. The Demon was still behind Vonnar. "Definitely cocky. Arrogant. Coincidentally all these things describe you as well," the hallucination cooed, blinking all red eyes while smiling mischievously. Kal then asked how he did.


Karter looked at the two spheres he had managed to shoot. "Well your hand-eye coordination is excellent if nothing else."


Karter then looked at Vonnar. "You ask if it was worth it? The Dark Side? Here, let me enlighten you: It ends poorly for every Darksider, regardless of their standing or power. They either die in battle, die alone, or die betrayed. People like me don't get happy endings. Does it have benefits? Yeah. It makes you stronger, faster, able to endure more, and for longer. Gives you access to lethal abilities..."


Karter looked at an empty can nearby and held out his hand. He focused, and after a few short seconds it exploded from the inside.


"Now, imagine if that had been your arm," Karter explained.


He then looked at a bucket nearby and focused. He strained, struggling to recall how it had felt when Ryleya had shocked him. He used his hate to focus that memory of pain, make it leap outward. He strained, throwing his rage at that humiliating moment into his fingers, smelling ozone suddenly. He struggled to let it out, taking deep breaths.


And then he focused on the pain he had felt when he realized Brison had abandoned him. The rage and heartbreak surged into his chest, then his arm.


It was a small bolt, nothing impressive. But it blew the bucket backward.


"You get the idea," Karter said after a moment, wincing as he felt a scorch mark on his hand. "Is it worth it? If you want revenge and don't care about the afterward...you bet your rich boy ass its worth it."

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"Hmm." Kal grunted with slight satisfaction. The Dark Jedi was good with his skills, but that moment of pain in Karter's arm concerned him. That's what it felt like to be a Darksider. Though he didn't show it, somehow he knew that Karter needed to let whatever was going on inside of him out, or else risk bottling it up. And bottling up emotions was never a good thing. He sighed, reasoning that maybe it was for the best to let Karter have his alone time when he needed it.


He must be in a lot of pain, Kal thought. He felt sure his reasons were sound.


"Well, I may not be a Darksider," Kal spoke in turn, "but if there's one thing I've learned, while spending time in my family's palace, you don't give up on people, especially when they need you." He nodded, making his point sound. He may be naive and a bit senseless at times, but if humility stood tall... well, he'd take it. It was what he did best and he wasn't about to waste it on just anyone. He was with Karter for a reason and he knew the challenge he would face now. But how to admit the truth would be a harder task to endure.

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Karter looked at him, let out a harsh, dry, but ultimately unfeeling chuckle. 


"Where were you on Uriek when we needed you?" He asked sarcastically. "You may not like giving up on people. Hell, you may risk all for them. Risk death to preserve their secrets. It still won't stop most of them from abandoning you when the going gets tough. Sooner you learn that, sooner you know to expect it."  He needed to meditate. "Keep practicing, Mr. Vonnar. I'll be in my quarters. After you are done, tell me how close we are to Barab One. Take us in once you find a space to land but whatever you do, do NOT land during daytime. Only night. The sun will cook us. And make sure you don't bother with regular blasters, take that sonic and put on your radiation gear," he ordered, heading into his quarters, picking up that orange synth and meditating further on it, forcing more of his hate into the small crystal. He then took out the holoprojector and played it again, watched that Jedi kill what was left of his comrades on Deralia, watched his movement's with the double bladed lightsaber, studying how he manuvered it around his body, studied that strange homing projectile he comjured, how he absorbed energy, a skill Brison knew well. His fury swelled in him as he heard the Jedi's words at the end of it. The gall behind them.


He had been thinking of this man, thinking of those words deep down as he slew that Jedi on Alderaan.


More wisdom. That was what he had said. That Jedi's words had gotten his brethren killed. Ha. Take that.


He'd think of those words every time he killed another Jedi, from now on. The focus of his hate would eat those words, wherever he was, even if it was hell.


He shut it off, his rage stoked, and closed his eyes, withdrawing to the Dark Side in him.

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Kal grumbled as he returned to his room. The sonic blaster was right there, sitting on his bed. He would need that for what lay ahead. Quietly, he strapped the blaster to his belt, departing the room in seconds. Well, he thought, it won't be much longer. But then.... wait a minute. Radiation suit? Radiation suit?! Would they really need one where they were heading? Well, there was no point in denying they would.


Well, he wasn't disturbing Karter now. Might as well leave him alone for a while. Still, he wanted to prove his stealth and even so... oh this mission was important. He knew he couldn't abandon the plan. The plan was the most important rite of passage that he needed. He couldn't keep this a secret for long, but he had to. To protect himself. To protect his family. That's what counted right now.


At last, he left his room and made his way to the cockpit. Well, there was no sense in delaying much longer. They would move out of hyperspace soon. In three.... two.... one. They were there. The Barabel planet was before them. Now to get the radiation suit and strap in, before they landed.


"Karter, we're here!" Kal called, knowing without a doubt the Dark Jedi would find his way to the radiation suits, like he said. It was his ship after all. No turning back now, he thought while grabbing his gear. Whatever lay ahead for him.... well, he would wait and see, wouldn't he?

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