Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

Chapter 67: Perspective Matters

As the night went on, Jinx and Hexx left to find a place to sleep on Wyndaam’s ship as Bando tirelessly worked the sensor systems. However, both of them were kept awake by recurring nightmares of ferocious cold, howling winds, screams of agony, and blood red crystals.

To deal with the insomnia, Hexx donned his armor and went for a job, exploring the ship and taking in the motley ex-slave crew. In the process, he noticed a particular branding mark on a series of young, attractive Twi’Lek females in the very painful location of between the lekku. As he got closer, he realized where he recognized the symbol: it was designed by his CZ droid when he adopted the alias of Nyko Kalen. He recoiled in disgust as he realized the depravity his clone was perpetrating in his hijacked alias, and fled the deck to a less-populated location, cruising by the sensor station near the bridge as he sought solitude.

Jinx, thinking it was a Force vision similar to what they had before, sought out Wyndaam for guidance. After searching the bridge and sensor stations – and passing a jogging Hexx – he discovered the Wyndaam was located in the VIP bridge tower. Making his way into the tower, he discovered the area had been converted into an apartment, with a sleeping infant guarded by 2 B2 battle droids in one room, and a sleeping dark haired woman in the other. Heading down the corridor to the observation deck, he found Wyndaam in a makeshift observatory, staring intently at Ilum in nothing but a silk robe. Realizing how different yet still similar Hexx and Wyndaam are, Jinx discussed the visions with Wyndaam, who confirmed that he was affected by them as well and presumed it was coming from Ilum. After explaining to Jinx that a military solution was not possible and chastising him for thinking like a Stormtrooper, Wyndaam relayed a tale from his mentor regarding Sith lightsaber crystal’s crimson hue: they were normal crystals once, vibrant shades of Blue and Green, but were corrupted and twisted by the Dark Side and gained more of a red hue the deeper the corruption ran. Showing Jinx a sample of crystals he took from the cavern under a microscope, Wyndaam confirmed that the blue shards were showing an indigo coloration and posited a horrible hypothesis: Ilum itself was being corrupted. With that notion in mind, Wyndaam instructed Jinx to find Hexx and prepare for a journey to Ilum: before they confront the source, they need to confront themselves.

Jinx found Hexx in the makeshift cantina on the ship, sipping water in a corner. After acquiring their gear, they met Wyndaam in the hangar bay, carrying a large clanking pack, and departed for Ilum. As they cruised around Ilum, they noticed the weather was worsening gradually, at first appearing naturally but with a dark and malicious undercurrent. As Wyndaam communed with the Force, he guided the ship to a cavern complex deep in the side of an ice mountain. As Hexx expressed doubts on the plan, Wyndaam told him that sometimes they need to take a breath, concentrate, and take a leap of faith.

Landing in the cavern, they explored the deepest part first, and discovered a room full of Adegan crystals…all blood red. Upon stepping in the room, Jinx and Hexx immediately started arguing and punching each other. As Wyndaam separated them and they left the room, Hexx stormed off to find another section of the cave and Jinx realized the negativity of that room. Wyndaam instructed Jinx to follow Hexx, and proceeded to use the Force to collapse the tunnel.

Jinx and Hexx explored the caverns, and came across a fork in the passageway. In order to cover more ground, Jinx went left and Hexx went right.

Jinx found himself in a dead end, cold and cavernous room. As he examined it, his eyes were drawn to a pool of water with a light blue glow. As he examined it, he slipped and fell into the water and was quickly dragged down by a strong current. Shedding his armor, he struggled to swim towards the source of the blue glow, but found himself unable to move forward. Concentrating on the words Wyndaam told him previously, he stopped swimming and called out to the Force, using his telekinetic skills to pull the item to him before he lost consciousness.

Hexx found himself in another dead end cavern, but this cavern had a series of spiked stalactite and stalagmite formations. He was prepared to leave, when he noticed a light green glow from across the room. Using his agility and ingenuity with his vibroblades, he made his way to the cavern shelf holding the green glow. Realizing there was no way to use his grapple line, and the slope of the shelf was against him, he remembered Wyndaam’s words. Taking a deep breath and concentrating on his actions, he leapt at the shelf, covering a far greater distance than he thought possible. Scrambling to keep a foot hold, Hexx was able to grab the crystal from it’s perch in the wall before taking a tumbling fall down to the sharp floor.

As they both came too, they quickly noticed their cirumstances were changed. Jinx found himself with a blue crystal in his hand, laying in a pool of water less than 3 inches deep, with his armor strewn about the cavern and another passageway in the back that he trudged down. Hexx found himself on his back on a gravel cave floor, looking around to see a few small mounds of gravel on the cave floor and a small alcove where he found the green crystal. Spotting the passageway near the alcove, he cautiously made his way through the passageway.

Both of them found themselves in a small cave room, where Wyndaam was waiting for them next to an old item, either a piece of machinery or an altar. Wyndaam explained to them that using the Force requires them to change their current perspectives and how they view things: some things that look insurmountable from one angle may appear far easier from a different one. Calling out each of their crystals, Wyndaam instructed them on using the forge to construct a lightsaber, and dumped out the contents of the bag: odds and ends, knicks and knacks. Wyndaam took Jinx’s book on constructing a lightsaber, and destroyed it, explaining that there is no manual on constructing a lightsaber; they need to following the guidance of the Force.

Leaving the room, Hexx and Jinx went through the components, trying to find the items that spoke the most to them the piles of focus emitters, power cells, grips, and hilt materials. Hexx then attempted to construct his lightsaber first. As Jinx looked on in disbelief, Hexx quickly assembled his lightsaber, but noticed he was in a deeply focused trance and surmised he was tapping into his unique Force skills to sharpen his focus. As Hexx completed his blade and sat back, mildly exhausted, Jinx attempted to replicate the approach. Finding himself stymied, with the pieces not fitting together even though he was following the same steps, he stepped back and started using his telekinetic skills to assemble the lightsaber, finding it went far smoother that way.

With their blades in hand, Jinx and Hexx turned and saw Wyndaam leaning up against the wall, with a wry grin on his face. They examined each other’s lightsabers, and saw how unique each blade was. Jinx’s hilt was slightly curved and resembled a pistol grip, with the snap-hiss ignition sound having a vague ting of a blaster bolt being fired as the blue blade came to life. Hexx’s hilt was slightly elongated, similar to Wyndaam’s, designed for a two handed grip, that closely resembled a flight control stick on the old Y-Wing and Z-95s he was found of flying, with the activation button on the bottom of the saber. As he ignited his saber, a green blade emerged, with the ignition sounds resembling an engine roaring to life.

As they stood in a bit of awe at their accomplishments, Wyndaam ignited both ends of his polesaber, with bright yellow blades emerging to the snap hiss sounds tinged with almost a humming melody. Explaining that they had the proper tools to fix Ilum now, they departed the cavern to seek out the source of what is ailing Ilum…and possibly what corrupted Kantor.

As they were discovering themselves on Ilum, Bando noticed that both of them were gone. Going through what he recalled hearing and piecing together information, he was drawing conclusions regarding their activities when he was sent a comm from a J.Hest from one of the Recuscant-class destroyers politely summoning him. Realizing that Jinx slipped off the ship, he took a shuttle to the other ship.

Noticing the markings on the ship – some from battle, some intentional, and from a mix of alien species – he made his way through the ship’s corridors. As a bit of an oddity he realized that the corridors had no atmosphere, and he was needing to slightly activate his magnetic boots to compensate for poor gravity. Making his way through the airlock to the chambers for the living crew members, he came across a sight that both intrigued and disturbed him.

A group of individuals were chanting/singing around a circle, with the sounds of violence coming from the middle. As he examined the crowd, he noticed it was a mix of humans and aliens, primarily Zabrak. Most everyone had scars, either ritual or combat, and tattooes, with a myriad of hairstyles and piercings. It took him a minute, but he determined what was off about them: Half of the humans in attendance were clones of Jhorin!

Noticing their high degree of individualization – no sets of tattooes, scars, piercings, or hairstyles were identical nor complying with Imperial protocols – he kept scanning the room, paying attention to the fight in the middle. Noticing it was ritualistic but exceptionally brutal, and hearing some of the side conversations in an unknown language led Bando to one conclusion: he was on a ship crewed by Mandalorians.

Making his way to the bridge and being stopped by a clone of Jhorin in full Mandalorian armor, he was sent to the engineering section to speak with the “weird one”. Upon arriving, he noticed the engineering section was highly automated and was running power allocation models. Spying the models, he quickly realized the Mandalorian philosophy was highly entrenched: Life Support was one of the lowest prioritized systems in all the models.

Finding the “weird” Jhorin in the lower section of the engineering hold, he was strucked by how different he seemed: entirely hairless, with minimal tattooes, scars from manual labor, and built more like a barrel, he was an imposing brute of a man. As they conversed, he discovered that this version of Jhorin enjoyed building things more than shooting things, and seemed to be their engineer. Gleaning information from him about Kantor’s cloned army, he discovered that no version of Jhorin on the ship was sensitive to the Force, and there memories were all slightly altered in minor ways.

Asking to why he was there, Jhoriin took him to “the boss” on the bridge. Coming face to face with a very pretty dusky skinned and dark haired woman, in rancor leather combat armor, pouring over details on a holomap. After exchanging pleasantries and gleaning conclusions regarding why they were there, including the fact that the woman was Mandalorian and potentially affiliated with the Exchange in some fashion, the woman offered Bando a deal: in exchange for services rendered and tying up loose ends in the galactic core worlds for her, and in exchange she would call in favors amongst the other High Captains and acquire a ship for their usage.

After accepting her agreement – noticing she was right in that he didn’t have a very strong hand to play – Bando left with Jhoriin to head back to his ship. Before leaving, Jhoriin took Bando back to his workshop to give him a gift of his own making. Taking a leap of faith and allowing him to disassemble his hand with the electro-shock, Bando waited patiently as Jhoriin did something in a separate room. Looking around, it took him a few moments, but he noticed what was making the area so troubling: there was A LOT of beskar iron laying about in ingot and raw forms. As Jhoriin came back, he reassembled Bando’s hand. Running a quick diagonostic, he noticed new tech installed on the palm and fingertips.

Inquiring with what Jhoriin did, he explained that if they were going to investigate Ilum and deal with Kantor, he needed an edge to counter the Force skills of his potential opponents. The glove had a strong magnet powered by the same source as the electro-shock feature that would make disarming him particular difficult. He also gave Bando a weapon of his own crafting, modeled after weapons of old: a Beskad blade.

The blade was heavy, with an edge that wasn’t particular sharp, and slightly curved. As Bando swung it about, he decided to strike a railing in the workshop. The thud and vibration were underwhelming, and as he mocked it to Jhoriin, he was instructed to not strike beskar with beskar. Taking a second look at the blade, he was able to confirm that the entire sword, from hilt to crossguard to blade, was made of solid beskar iron. Realizing the utility of the weapon – namely, it’s ability to stand up to a lightsaber – he thanked Jhoriin and departed for Wyndaam’s ship, with both of them joking that he was going to need to come to the Dimwits rescue soon, as it was never a good idea to allow them to roam free without adult supervision.

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