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Thread: A Journey To Remember

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Thread Semi-Open A Journey To Remember

    Following the annual Convergence and its attached festivities on Kiffu, Lorenza had spent a couple of weeks at the Temple, working on upgrades for her ship, the Peregrina. Given how her role often consisted in traveling to acquire goods of various kinds for the Seeker, she always did her best to ensure that her freighter remained in perfect shape. She had had opportunities to go for a newer transport a couple of times, but she liked the reliable Barloz class, especially as she could fly it solo, not even having to bother with a droid. She enjoyed time away and the solitude of space, so she could do as she pleased, including studying and training.

    She had been happy when told that her next errand was lined up. She loved Kiffu, but had never allowed herself to become fully part of the community. There was something missing about who she was, besides the obvious fact she wasn't Kiffar herself. She didn't know where or how she would find it, for she couldn't help musing over the possibility it had to do with her untrained potential. She had gained freedom from her imperial life, and yearned to become more deeply embedded on Kiffu, but she still wore self-imposed chains, even though she preferred avoiding such thoughts.

    Her current destination was a known one: Dantooine. In the past few years she had worked for the Seeker, she usually visited the planet quarterly. She usually visited the Okiaru village, where local farmers had plenty of supplies of Vincha, Tritacale, and Kibla Greens. That visit had her travel to another village though, for the season hadn't been so kind for Tritacale, and Lorenza wanted to make sure that she brought some back to Kiffu.

    She didn't mind the detour, for the Temple rarely had firm deadlines for her travels, for they knew she would return in a timely manner. Save for the Convergence, which wouldn't happen for another year now, most of her errands were on a flexible timetable.

    After a few days on Dantooine, Lorenza decided to use the couple more she could afford to linger, to go hunt Iriaz. She hadn't brought back any from her previous visit, and she wanted to do better this time. So, she went by speeder to a more remote area of the region, and continued by speeder until she could set up camp in an isolated cave. As such, she would be able to at least bring any kill back there and take care of it in between.

    It was early morning when she gathered her weapons and pack, and headed into the wilderness. As much as the creatures could be docile, she knew they could get quite fierce when attacked. She liked the challenge, and it brought her back to some memories from her old life, where she had attended military school and went on field trips to learn better.


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    Akaan prowled through the lavender grasses of Dantooine near the edge of a biba tree forest. Kal and Ka'ra, his eight year old twins, copied his movements as they stalked in his footsteps, their energy bows slung across their backs.

    A herd of iriaz had come through here recently. He held up a closed fist and the twins huddled up close next to him, their faces eager.

    "Look," he said softly, pointing down at the droppings the creatures had left in their wake. "What does this tell us?"

    Kal narrowed his eyes, his red hair long enough on top to be slicked back, except it fell into his face as he studied the ground. Ka'ra, her matching hair bound back in three braids, only gave the excrement a passing glance.

    "We are on the right path," she said quickly. "The iriaz came through here recently."

    "Are you sure it was recent?" her father asked.

    "The smell is lingering," said Kal at last. "And the droppings are still soft." He squished a round lump between his fingers to prove the point.

    "Good. And wipe your hand, Kal." Akaan smiled at his children, and waited for Kal to clean up. He had lived the first twelve of his years as a native of Iziz City, living in the slums. After his parents had died of a pox, he had run out into the Wilds in search of the Mando'ade. It was said they would take in any orphans who wished for a better life, and it had been true. His former name had been Theolodius, and while he still held the name in his heart in memory of his birth parents, Akaan was the name given to him by his adoptive family.

    Now pushing forty cycles, Akaan rarely thought of those first, hardscrabble years in the slums. Life among the Mando'ade was also hard, but in a different way. Your fate was always in your own hands in the Wilds.

    On Dantooine, their surroundings were far more forgiving. Taking his children on a hunt in these grasslands was not certain death, though danger could always lurk in unexpected places.

    "Take the lead, Ka'ra," Akaan said. "Find us the herd."

    A smirk on her face, Ka'ra elbowed her brother as she passed him and crept through the grasses, her father and twin in her wake.



    oh what a tangled web I weave


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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    While she had grown up in urban settings, and could still adjust to such places with decent ease, Lorenza preferred quieter and more open spaces. Military field trips had made her appreciate the wilderness. It also brought her peace of mind, and being by herself in nature helped her let her latent potential run free, without the incessant comparison with others, as her soul often did back on Kiffu. She knew that her self-deprecation was responsible for limitations she struggled with.

    Blending with her surrounding, both with her chosen piratical attire, and the lightness but precision of her movements, she had been walking most morning at this point. One of the trails had turned cold by now, and the distant sound of a speeder had made her roll her eyes for someone might have had a successful hunt, but had scared much of the remaining game by bringing a motored vehicle too deep into the hunting lands. That irked her. She might be too hard on herself; but at least she wasn't some lazy and obnoxious pest.

    She took a brief pause and had a quick snack from a ration bar and some dried fruits she had picked at the local market before heading out for a few days into the open spaces.

    The moment she resumed her trek, she felt something tug at her perceptions. As raw as her gifts were, the years on Kiffu had honed them just a tad, enough that she could discern a few living beings, potentially hunters, further away, where her path was taking her.

    It was possible they were following a trail that would converge near a lake; but there was no reason for her not to continue in her chosen direction. After all, there normally was enough game for many people if finding a herd of Iriaz.

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    Ka'ra made her way forward, as silent as a wraith, Kal making a little bit more noise as he tried to mirror her footsteps. Akaan had a harder time keeping low than the twins did, but he was no stranger to the hunt.

    And this time the plants weren't trying to kill them.

    The faint trail they were following led out of the grass toward a lake, and the twins hunkered down just before the edge of the tall grass, their father beside them. The herd was spread out a bit in front of them, some iriaz drinking, others cropping the vegetation nearby with efficiency.

    Akaan touched Ka'ra's shoulder, pointing out a large buck, and then did the same for Kal and another likely creature. "Once one goes down, the herd will spook. You have to coordinate."

    The twins nodded, drawing their energy bows and activating them silently as they took aim on their respective iriaz. Ka'ra counted down from three, and they loosed their deadly projectiles in unison.

    Ka'ra's hit her buck in the neck, Kal took his in the belly. The herd sprang into action, dashing off around the lake, the wounded buck screaming and floundering into the grasses.

    Akaan jumped up. "Come on, we have to catch it."

    Kal was already running out into the clearing and following the blood trail into another part of the lavender grasses, his sister close on his heels.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza followed the trail until she could see the herd from afar. She wasn't close enough to take any good shot at them, also keenly aware that once any would go down, the rest would scatter, thus requiring her to be strategic in her choice of target.

    The brunette had her bow in hand, an arrow already ready ready; but she knew that aiming before several other meters would be foolish. So she kept the weapon low and moved with light steps, blending with the foliage and a nearby group of trees and bushes.

    She felt something in the distance, and she couldn't shake the feeling it had to be other hunters; but she couldn't see them. And her gifts were still quite raw, even after years spent on Kiffu. After all, she had always felt like an outsider there, save for some scattered moments when she forgot she had placed most limitations onto herself rather than them being the fruit of external forces.

    She was almost within range when a large buck suddenly screamed and stormed off. She barely registered that another had been shot down because the wounded buck was coming her way, covering distance too fast for her taste.

    Without hesitation, she raised her bow and aimed to finish him in the throat. The massive iriaz fell to the ground, only a short distance from her. She knew that it wasn't her kill for she had only got the fatal shot; so she waited for whoever was behind this to come to retrieve it, her eyes soon falling upon a small group coming her way, an adult and some youth it appeared.

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    Ka'ra stopped dead in her tracks when they reached the downed iriaz, her father nearly running into her. Kal had eyes only for his kill, carefully closing the distance until he could put his hand on the beast's chest. No movement.

    The boy closed his eyes to thank the creature for its sacrifice, while Akaan quickly saw what Ka'ra's sharp eyes had caught. A second wound on the iriaz. None from their clan were hunting this direction today, so a native of Dantooine must be nearby.

    <"Mind your tongues,"> he said quickly in Mando'a, catching the wave of the tall grass as it was parted by an approaching figure. When she stepped out into the clearing made by the fallen beast he took in her appearance.

    Not Dantooine, he decided immediately.

    "My son wounded this iriaz," Akaad began, his Basic clear, but accented in a strange way that was not easy to place. If one was good with accents they might think it similar to the lilt from the Onderon system, which was in and of itself obscure, but centuries of isolation had twisted their Mando'a, and the resulting accent, into it's own language. Someone familiar with the modern language would be able to understand and communicate, but it would not be easy for casual passersby to recognize.

    Ka'ra smiled at the woman and walked over to her twin, standing near him.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza arrived in the clearing, weapon still in hand, but lowered. She took in the sight of the small group and took a few more steps forward, her shoulders dropping just a tad, but her bow was still in her hands until she was sure that the people wouldn't try to attack her. She had seen hunters take offense, violent offense, at someone interfering with their kills, even when their target tried to kill someone else.

    When the man, the father, spoke up, she couldn't tell where the accent was from. She had traveled to several parts of the galaxy, but the Lorrdian couldn't place this one. It wasn't so surprising really, given the extensive amount of planets and civilizations that populated the known universe.

    At least, she was used to strange accents and could understand it clearly. As his daughter smiled to him, she finally put her weapon away, nodding to them.

    "This iriaz belongs to your son. I only defended myself from being trampled over."

    It was a no brainer for her to let go of that kill. She was curious about the family before her, for she understood it had to be such a case; and was unsure whether they would speak more or go their separate way at once.

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    Akaan simply nodded, adjusting his position so he could see both his twins and the stranger at the same time. Ka'ra was helping Kal roll the iriaz onto its back, holding apart the hind legs as he readied his knife. Not a vibroblade, as it would be easy to cut too far, or too quickly with such a blade.

    The boy unconsciously bit his lower lip as he studied the curve of the beast's belly, trying to remember where to cut. Akaan was about to step in and point when his son leaned in and began, sliding the sharp knife from the iriaz's anus to its sternum. Kal was cutting too deeply, enthusiastically, and Akaan couldn't help the amused twitch of his mouth as he knew what could happen.

    Experience was the best teacher. He folded his arms and turned his head slightly toward the woman. "The herd is big, more than enough for us all."

    A hissing sound emanated from the iziaz's belly, and Kal's face creased with confusion and then horror as the beast's stomach erupted into his face. Ka'ra squealed in spite of herself and let go of the legs as she backed out of the splash zone, causing the carcass to roll toward Kal. His knife had cut into the guts, so instead of a neat field dressing where the entrails spilled out mostly intact into the grass, the eight-year-old was covered in stomach contents and an odious mess slopped out of the iriaz.

    Akaan stepped up and pulled on the legs, rolling the iriaz away from his son, who was blinking and gasping, wiping his face with one of his hands. "I think you cut into the stomach," Akaan said dryly.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza observed the family process with acute interest. Scattered memories of her own youth and family came back to mind. It had been years since her decision to leave the Empire had ostracized her from them. She knew it was for the best; but the scene before her reminded her of that in a bittersweet fashion.

    She had been building a life on Kiffu in the past years; and she hoped to continue make it a permanent affair; but at the same time, she had been longing for more, for a way to make herself worthier of being with the Kiffar, and especially in the presence of the Great Lady.

    She spot how the boy was likely going to end splattered the way he used his weapon to cut through his prey. She said nothing for it wasn't her place; instead returning her attention to the adult.

    "I have been on Dantooine several times; but have rarely wandered in this part. Thank you for the information about the herd."

    She was thinking of bidding her goodbyes, not wishing to interrupt much longer when the boy ended covered into stomach content. Hopefully he'll remember the lesson.

    "The local Iriaz are definitely well-fed," she remarked.

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    "There is a lot of grass," Akaan said simply, tossing a cloth to his son and squatting to finish field dressing the kill.

    As he bent, a silvered mythosaur emblem on a cord dangled from his neck, and he paused for a moment to tuck it back under his shirt. Kal and Ka'ra crouched around him, watching his deft strokes as he removed the remainder of the guts from the carcass.

    The woman did not leave while he cut, so Akaan spoke to her without looking up from his work. "You do not live nearby?"
    Last edited by Lilaena De'Ville; Feb 7th, 2021 at 12:00:07 PM. Reason: ttt

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Having lived with the Kiffar for the past few years, learning about their culture and traditions, Lorenza was attentive to every detail she could glean about strangers. Her Lorrdian ability to read body language with more depth than most other humanoids helped her get a better understanding as well.

    She felt in some strange limbo right now for the hunter didn't appear hostile to her; but just as she seemed unable to just walk away at once, wasn't sure what to make of her presence.

    Leaving was the logical choice; but something in her soul nudged her to stick around just a little longer.

    "No, I regularly visit Dantooine for supplies, mostly vegetables. When I have some time, I usually trek away from town and hunt Iriaz."

    She paused for a moment, thinking about the Great Lady, which brought a smile to her face.

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    The female hunter was not moving on, rather she was standing and watching as Akaan finished his quick dismemberment of the iriaz. Kal and Ka'ra were oblivious, the former still trying to wipe gastric juices from his clothes and the latter readying to tie up the meat in an easy to transport bundle.

    Akaan wiped his knife and hands on the grass and stood, facing the woman. "It is surprising we have not run into you before, then, if you often hunt in this area."

    "Our village is nearby," piped up Kal, scrubbing a handful of grass across his chest and missing the warning look his father shot him.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza silently cursed herself for not having taken her leave yet. She felt like she was simply trespassing now even though these were open territory in terms of hunting based on her previous experience on Dantooine. She couldn't explain why she had felt pulled to keep this moment going. It was a weird intuition that she was tempted to second guess now.

    Before she could course-correct, the adult spoke to her again, and she took in that the kid added their village was nearby, which she hadn't realized as she normally kept more West of where she had been tracking the Iriaz. The warning look the father gave the boy wasn't lost on her observant nature either.

    "I visit Dantooine a few times a year to purchase vegetables and other goods for my employer,"
    she replied, having no reason to lie. "I generally make time to hunt a few Iriaz myself before leaving. And I normally do that West from here."

    She paused and took one step back.

    "I probably should leave you to your hunting lesson. I have already taken enough of your time and I still have to find other Iriaz."

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    "Of course," Akaan said. "Good hunting--"

    "Do not forget mine," Ka'ra interrupted, jerking her head back the way they'd come. "Kal's ran away to here, but mine was a clean shot."

    "Go find it," Akaan told his daughter. "We will be done here soon."

    Ka'ra grinned at his permission to run off by herself, and wasted no time doing exactly that. Akaan looked back up at the stranger, and nodded as the woman took her leave and disappeared into the long grasses. An interesting encounter.

    Kal leaned in enthusiastically to help cut the meat, and Akaan was soon preoccupied trying to make sure the boy did it correctly.

    Meanwhile, Ka'ra jogged through the grass, bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet as she retraced their steps to where they'd first encountered the herd. The wounded iriaz had run farther than she remembered, and it took a while to find her own kill. The grasses were flattened ahead where the grazing creatures had stomped them flat, and she remembered to enter the area carefully, crouching down beneath the tops of the grass and edging into the clearing.

    There was a strange, wet sound ahead of her, and Ka'ra caught the coppery scent of blood in the air. A greenish grey bulk was crouched in front of her, the dead iriaz under it, and Ka'ra unslung her energy bow from her back. Nothing was going to take her kill away, not if she could help it.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza bowed her head and let the family to their devices, letting her instinct and her knowledge of the land guide her towards what she hoped would be at least a couple of Iriaz to take down and prepare to bring back to the Great Lady. One could hope at least.

    The pilot was surprised that she had encountered other people during this adventure in the wilderness. After several trips here, it was the first time it had happened. She mused over it for a while, letting her mind run wilder than usual, for she had learned that her overthinking had often been more of an impediment than anything else, especially back on Kiffu where she still struggled to carve a space for herself, feeling like she didn't truly deserve to become part of the people living at the temple, even though she dutifully and wholeheartedly served the Seeker, having uncanny affection for her despite the distance that most commonly separated them.

    She was looking for other trails when she suddenly saw something that brought her to a halt. She had only seen these once in the past, during her second trip to Dantooine and the memories brought a cold shiver to her spine. She hadn't learn much about the gift she had discovered at a young age and that could have got her in trouble in her birth world; but she knew when to trust it, and all her senses were now on alert, especially as she could see the path head to where another kill had occurred.

    Where Ka'ra had gone, she realized before turning on her heels and heading into that direction. It didn't take her long to reach the spot, right in time to witness the Graul charge at the girl.

    "Go for his eyes," she shouted, knowing that it would attract attention. While she had her own bow, she knew she was better in such a situation with her vibroblades, and she already had one in hand. All she could hope was that the girl would trust her, even though she was a stranger. The Graul tended to be deaf or at least extremely hard of hearing and blinding them was one of the few ways to survive, besides running away, and she didn't think Ka'ra was the kind to do that.

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    She’d stuck an arrow right into the beast’s back, which had made it rear up on its hind legs and turn on her. Ka’ra took a step back and drew another arrow, trying to control her breathing as it closed the distance. It was huge, as big as a boma back home, and the girl felt a stab of fear.

    ”Go for his eyes!”

    The graul turned its head toward the sound and Ka’ra shifted her aim to match, loosing the arrow. It whistled through the air and sunk deeply into the creature’s cheek, just below the eyeball. The graul roared in pain, skidding to a halt as it clawed at its own face, breaking off the arrow and deciding on its next charge.

    Ka’ra didn’t wait, diving into the long grass and running as fast as she could away from where she’d heard the voice. Maybe the graul would lose sight of her and head toward the distraction.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza watched as the arrow hit the beast right under his eye. She knew that her loud voice would have its attention. She sensed more than she saw, the girl run away, which was her goal. She had dealt with a Graul before and even had a couple of scars to prove it.

    The beast charged at her and she had little time to adjust her aim before she threw one of her vibroblade and pierced one eye. The howl that shattered the atmosphere was loud enough to demolish her own skull but she found her center and threw another blade, getting the other eye.

    The Graul that had stopped a few meters from her charged blindly, clawed hands swapping at the pilot, and Lorenza felt a large one scrape her shoulder, just enough to damage flesh and muscle without leaving permanent damage, although her arm was excruciating to use for now.

    Groaning, she forced herself to keep her focus, and she leaped away, not gracefully at all but she just wanted to survive and down the beast. She didn't know whether Ka'ra would still be around and helping to take the beast down now that it was lost and confused.

    Dancing around the beast, she needed enough space to use her bow to shoot the now deaf beast at the throat.

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    The roar of the graul split the air, and Kal dropped the meat he had been wrapping with a start, his father leaping to his feet. He looked at Akaan with wild eyes.

    The elder Mandalorian gripped Karl’s shoulder. “Come.”

    They abandoned the meat and ran through the grasses toward the sound, and toward where Ka’ra had gone.

    ***

    The graul swiped blindly at Lorenza, then reared back as another arrow sprouted out of its side. A second arrow quickly followed, just catching it in the chest as it spun around, and then Ka’ra was running again, circling around the area the iriaz had trampled.

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    TheHolo.Net Poster Lorenza Dalenak's Avatar
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    Lorenza managed to avoid the swipes and her senses alerted her of the swift change right before arrows hit the beast. The one in its chest almost brought it to its knees, which meant a fantastic shot. The pilot caught sight of Ka'ra running around, having indeed returned.

    She stilled herself and pushed through the pain, breathing through it as she grabbed her bow and armed it, letting her instincts take over as she shot twice at the beast, the arrows piercing its neck. After what had felt like forever but was only several long seconds, the graul collapsed on the ground, gurgling until it exhaled one final time.

    Wincing at the sharp pain in her elbow, Lorenza lowered her weapon, looking at the girl.

    "You okay?"

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    Ka’ra nodded. “I am okay.” She walked cautiously out of the grass and approached the woman.

    The young Mandalorian slung her bow on her back and unwound the fabric wrappings from one of her arms. "You are injured. Let me help you."

    Akaan burst into the clearing, shell gun in hand, and took in the scene quickly. Kal appeared a few seconds later, energy bow at the ready, as the twins' father carefully appraised the corpse of the graul.

    "Cuyir gar shupur'yc?"* he called to his daughter.

    "Nayc,
    " Kara answered, already wrapping up the woman's injury. "This one helped kill the beast."

    Akaan came closer, thumping his closed fist against his chest. "I am in your debt, then. I am called Akaan."


    *are you injured

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