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Thread: The Calm

  1. #21
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    Guan Yu's face appeared onscreen, replacing the tiled display of bounty reports, and he cheerfully ejaculated, "SITE SEVENTEEN IS ONE OF NUMEROUS CUSTOM WAYPOINTS MASTER FOOK HAS PROGRAMMED IN MY NAVCOMPUTER! IT IS NOT SO MUCH AN END POINT AS IT IS A ROUTING DESTINATION. IT IS LOCATED AT - bip-kssssshhhh..."

    The booming voice cut out, both speech and lips censored by static and pixilation, though Guan Yu himself did not appear to notice. Instead, he continued to static away, his head bobbing, eyes twinkling, until he reached the end of what were presumably a series of coordinates, or landmark references. "-THERE IS NOT MUCH TO SEE, THERE, BUT IT IS WELL OUT OF THE WAY OF STANDARD TRANSIT LANES, AND CAN BE EVER SO PEACEFUL!"

    "Thanks, G-Dawg. Why don't you hit dat sleep mode, let the autopilot carry us?" Fook spoke without looking over, his eyes remaining on Loki for the duration. Onscreen, Guan Yu nodded, then faded out, and his status changed from active to offline, before the holovision went into power save mode. "We're going somewhere I'm taking you, and that's all you really need to know. Now, hungry?"

  2. #22
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    It seemed that, in the time it had taken Loki to shrug off his bandoliers and remove the cumbersome utility belt, Fook had prepared a small banquet of steamed dumplings, complete with a variety of dipping sauces, immaculately laid out on the table in front of him. In reality, the 87 hour rotation of Nar Shaddaa had finally caught up with him, and, now safely removed from its ever-present sense of threat, he fell asleep where he sat. To wake up to a sight such as the feast Fook had laid out for them was the closest thing he'd come to a stay at a luxury hotel. The smell overcame him like a symphony, and he sighed happily.

    "Li Ho Fook, I have certainly missed your cooking."

    While they ate, they discussed in detail the sum of Loki's criminal-catching endeavours on the Smuggler's Moon, deviating occasionally to discuss the work that had kept Fook himself busy in the meantime. Conversation was casual enough, interspersed with moments of criticisms, suggestions, or advice from Fook where it was relevant; the insight betrayed his experience. Fook understood how the galaxy worked in ways that Loki feared he may never comprehend.

    Little time was wasted on the details of the Palliduvan hotel thief, as it was as low-key and dull as imaginable, which, at the time, had been entirely the point. Loki had not wanted his first solo mission to be some guns-blazing extravaganza. His biggest regret of the mission was that he'd paid for two nights' stay, just to secure his cover. When confronted, the thief did not attempt to run, confessed, and came in without fuss.

    Then there was the droid spy, smuggled from Nal Hutta. The mission parameters had not identified a droid as the spy guilty of stealing Hutt secrets, but when his investigations brought him across the cargo manifest of a suspicious ship, and he discovered a droid had been a part of that cargo, he recalibrated his own limited imagination. As a droid engineer, Loki learned long ago not to underestimate droids, and it was that experience that allowed him to disable the droid by overloading a simple turbolift interface when the droid attempted to access it. Thereafter, a quick spot of reprogramming directed the droid straight to its unsuspecting owner. Two for the price of one.

    The most complicated of his jobs was the Lasat weapons dealer, wanted for selling disruptors. His actions had led to escalating violence between rival gangs, the Green Zone Dragonsnakes and the Red Zone Firekrakens, and local authorities had contracted the guild to intervene and expediate a resolution. This time, Loki elected to dispense with the overt deception and speak a language gang thugs could understand: violence. First, he watched, studying their movements, until patience and good fortune allowed him the opportunity to intervene in an altercation; the attack on the Dragonsnake spice drop was easily fended off, he then tapped the comm of a bloodied and dazed Dragonsnake before returning him to his comrades. He ingratiated himself with the Dragonsnakes, and after three days of pointless busywork, he discovered the time and location of another spice drop from the tapped comm. He leaked the information to the Firekrakens and ensured he was present for the drop. Once again, he helped repel with Firekrakens and earned the trust of his fellow Dragonsnakes.

    At last, they invited him to a weapons trade; he kept his head down, did as he was told, except for the tracker he attached to the case of traded credits, that he did of his own accord. The weapons dealer was found working out of an old speeder factory, his henchmen were dispatched without incident, and the dealer was brought in alive. It was his biggest paying job while on Nar Shaddaa, but by no means, his most dangerous. That rare accolade was reserved for Shiobi Sunweaver, the Mirialan assassin wanted for the murder of a ranking officer within the local military, a man by the name of Rova Gome, infamous for rumours of corruption and accepting bribes from Rubella the Hutt.

    "The pay was reasonable," Loki explained, dipping one of the neat savoury parcels into a rich dark sauce, "And a challenge was guaranteed. What I had not expected, however, was the night I accepted the job, Shiobi Sunweaver found me."

    Loki took a bite, relishing the combination of vegetables and minced meat within. Once more, he complimented the chef, then proceeded to tell the story of how he had been jumped by the Mirialan assassin on his way back to The Old Sail Barge.

    "And I heard a distant sound, like a ping. I noticed a sharp pain in my thigh, I looked down, and there was a dart in my leg. My whole leg was numb, in seconds. Completely useless..."

    Next on the menu was a dumpling filled with a kind of seafood paste and shredded greens. It was plunged into a bowl of spicy orange sauce.

    "And I took cover, behind the wreckage of some old speeder bike..."

    Crispy golden vegetables, next, with a creamy red sauce. That was Loki's favourite, for sure.

    "...shots fired... lured her out..."

    Then a juicy red meat dumpling dipped in a green sauce full of seeds.

    "Delicious... she was fast, and far to accurate... undoubtedly Force sensitive..."

    Lastly, there was one filled with... was that soup? This time, the sauces were ignored.

    "...she became reckless... too close... disarmed her, of course..."

    Loki was studying his soup dumpling with fascination.

    "You truly are a culinary mastermind, Li Ho Fook..."

    He finished it off with a bite.

    "I took her out with a stun blast, in the end. She is scheduled to be executed, tomorrow morning."

    He gave a shrug.

    "Unless Rubella the Hutt decides she wants her assassin back. If there is one thing I have learned about law and order, on Nar Shaddaa, it is that it is only as lawful and orderly as the Hutts wish for it to be."

  3. #23
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    "The galaxy be like that, yo," the Wah nodded. He ate at a slower pace than Loki, selecting fewer dumplings, as he possessed a smaller stomach, but relishing his cooking all the same. "Things is how thems in charge dictates, feel me? Nar Shaddaa, Hutt Space in general, Alliance, Empire, independent systems. Know them limits, and you'll know where you can edge up against to get your prey. Before you go steppin', gots to read the signs. Know them ways, dawg."

    His chopsticks picked up a dumpling and dipped it delicately in the darkest of the sauces, before tapping its lower edge against the rim of the dish to wick off extra sauce so that it would not drip on the table en route to his mouth, where the whole thing vanished. "You're good with that urban shit. Good with reading criminals. That's floss, homie. That's why I started you there. Hell, this playa figures you'd be hella tight in most independent joints. Probably some Alliance space, too. But I'm not clearing you for Empire yet. That shit is a mad whack, and them rules? Them rules is different, yo. You gots to level up before you get them jobs. Yo, even I don't like them jobs."

    A piece of crunchy vegetable followed, with a sip of tea to wash it down.

    "That leg shit, the tranquilizer. If you focus hard enough, you can use the Force to clear that shit, dawg. But in the field, you don't often get that prime focus, feel me? Learn to carry a muscle stim. Them tranq darts is legal in most hoods, I've been hit by more than a few. I pack two stims, these days, just in case. And why my armor has a plasteel layer, to keep that shit from penetrating in the first place. But if I done laid this knowledge on you ahead of time, you wouldn't appreciate it so much. Now that you done felt it, I'm guessin' my advice done sunk in."

    Fook glanced over at a small corner of the holovision, displaying something in an obscure language - if it was a language at all.

    "You trust me, L-Dawg?"

    The question came out of nowhere, and his beady black eyes came back to lock onto Loki's, while he lifted another dumpling to his mouth and chomped down on it.

  4. #24
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    While he listened to Fook, Loki was presented with a thought he had not even considered before: bounties, in Imperial space. Despite all of the wonderful combination of exotic flavours he had just been treated to, the very idea left a bitter taste in his mouth. He could never carry out bounties for those Imperial bastards; though he did not consider himself a Jedi, anymore, that did not mean he had cut away his dignity in the process of finding a new life amongst the stars. His silent objections remained, for the time being, silent.

    Fook then elaborated on his engagement with the assassin, dispensing more useful advice. What interested him most was the fact that he knew how to counteract poison using the Force. It was something Loki had learned long ago, back when he and his brother hunted and explored across the plains of Maridun, where toxins came in no short supply, courtesy of its rich variety of flora and fauna. It was a classic Jedi technique, and a demonstration of control and understanding one's own body and the Force that flowed through it. That a common bounty hunter had such knowledge gave birth to a host of new questions - that was not the sort of thing one figured out, on their own. Li Ho Fook had training. And his words of wisdom rang true of Loki's own experience: as useful as those Jedi techniques were, in a fast and furious firefight down a narrow alley, a stim would have been his preference, too.

    So, while questions were stockpiled, ready to be later fired, he listened. What came next, however, Loki could not have prepared for. There were always connotations when someone asked a question like that, it was loaded with an unuttered caveat. 'Do you trust me? Because...' And then an explanation as to why an affirmation of trust was suddenly and unexpectedly required. That was how it should be done. The gentle climb in his eyebrows was all the surprise he cared to express, however, because:

    "I do," he answered, plainly. His entire time spent with Fook had been nothing but one demonstration of trust, after the next, such was the way when you spent time with anyone. Theirs, however, was a bond also forged in combat. And, for Loki, that resonated on a whole other level.

    "However, you cannot suddenly ask a question like that, without being asked in return, 'Why?'"

  5. #25
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    The Wah's eyes remained fixed on Loki's, unwavering in their gaze. "Becuase, G," he answered, leaning back in his seat. "We's goin' somewhere, and I'm not tellin' you where it is. And I'm askin' you to trust me, and not figure it out. You dig? You ain't gonna know how we got there, and only I decide when we leave. But if you don't trust me enough for that, home-slice, lay it on me now, and I'll redirect dig?"

  6. #26
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    "This is beginning to sound very dramatic." Loki said, weary, "Li Ho Fook, there are million worlds with a million names I may never know in my lifetime. If it is important to you that I do not know the name or location of this place, very well. However, I draw the line at you holding me hostage at this undisclosed location for an unspecified length of time. I've been captive at the mercy of another, before, and have no desire to relive that experience, ever again. So, approximately, are we talking a day? A week? A month?"

  7. #27
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    The mounting tension was broken by a broad smile and chuckle, Fook's pearly white fangs gleaming as he laughed. "L-Dawg, I'm takin' you to chill, not to be no prisoner. If I wanted you hostage, G, you'd already be in the cell, dig?"

    Selecting one more dumpling, he dipped it in its sauce, shaking his head. "I'm feelin' a week. Maybe week and a half. Unwind, chill, max and relax, feel me? Shit, the tired is written all over you like a holoboard, playa. You gots to understand the importance of down time, dawg."

    Popping the dumping into his mouth, he chewed and spoke around it, shrugging. "Who knows? Maybe the Grandmaster's got more knowledge to lay on your dumb self, just needs the right hood."

  8. #28
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    He considered Fook's answer with grim sobriety. There was truth to what he said, so palpable he could feel it bleeding into his very muscles - the fatigue. His time on Nar Shaddaa had taken its toll, without him realising it. Until now. He gave a nod and sat upright, to rest the back of his head against the soft crushed velvet. A week. Maybe two. That was acceptable.

    A thought occurred to him, then, and he studied the diminutive bounty hunter, with narrowed eyes.

    "Are we going on vacation?"

  9. #29
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    "Dawg, vacations is five-star hotels, hot tubs, beaches, massages, someone else doin' all the cooking, and fine-ass ladies, feel me?" Fook arched one of his small, white eyebrows. "There's a beach where we goin', but you ain't gettin' none of the rest of that shit, homeboy. This be a retreat, not a vacation."

  10. #30
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    Loki gave a nod. Inwardly, he wrestled with concepts of a vacation and a retreat, and found himself at a loss. He had experienced some bastardised version of a vacation while undercover with Taataani Meorrrei on Ando. As he understood it, a vacation was an excuse to be as unproductive and indulgent as possible, doing a whole lot of nothing and calling it fun. And, tactically, he understood the definition of a retreat, which begged the inevitable question: what in the galaxy were they retreating from? Perhaps Fook was going into hiding. It was not unreasonable to imagine that in a bounty hunter's line of work, one might make powerful enemies, and it would be wise to have the ability to drop off the radar, as it were. It also explained his need for secrecy.

    For the time being, Loki considered the mystery sufficiently unravelled. Though, if he was going to continue associating with Li Ho Fook, there would be a conversation in their future about the kinds of enemies he might make, as a by-product of their work. Content, for the time being, he rose, cleared the table, and washed up.

    "If there are no hotels or massages for me to look forward to, then I am going to need my rest," he said, at last, barely stifling a yawn. "Only now do I realise just how much that wretched world has taken from me."

    Fook was gracious enough to need no further prompt. With the seating area cleared, he lowered the table, and rearranged the cushions into his old familiar bed. By comparison to Nar Shaddaa, it was a five-star experience. Though there were excellent sheets available, he could resist the encroaching grip of fatigue no longer. And, with his boots already removed, he wasted no time sluggishly scrambling onto the newly-formed bed and collapsed in a state of instant unconsciousness.

  11. #31
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    His head shaking at the human sprawled out on the 36th Chamber's second bed, Fook just sighed and grumbled, "Your tall-ass self best not drool on that velvet, holmes." With that, he spared a glance at the changing glyphs in the corner of his holoscreen.

    "Yo, G-dawg, put on some stimcaff, yo. The strong shit."

    "ENGAGING! I SHALL LET YOU KNOW WHEN IT IS BREWED!" Guan Yu's voice boomed.

    Fook's ears twitched, and he looked back to ensure it hadn't woken Loki. No, at this point the 36th Chamber could take direct turbolaser fire and that kid would still be out cold. Pulling a sheet over his unlikely protégé, the wah then scooped up all of his shed jewelry and deposited it in his own bedroom, before taking to the helm. From his gold and purple, leopard-print pilot's seat, he kicked back and watched the galaxy fly past in the swirling, smearing colors of hyperspace. How different everything would be had such travel never been unlocked, he wondered. Humans wouldn't be running rampant all over everything, wars would be smaller, and he would probably be at home, married, with kids, and some sort of normal, traditional job. While it held some appeal, Fook wouldn't trade it for all the things he'd seen, all the experiences he'd had. But it was a pleasant daydream, and he became enamored in envisioning what his wife would look like, what her voice would sound like upon his ears, what her body would feel like against his own as they-

    "SIR? MASTER FOOK?" Guan Yu's voice cut through the best bit of his daydream, and Fook blinked as reality washed back over him like some torrential rain on a backwater swamp planet.

    "Dag, fuck Dagobah," he mumbled, reaching up to rub his eyes, then adjust himself. "What is it, G?"

    "YOUR STIMCAFF, SIR. IT'S READY."

    "Oh, cool, cool," the wah nodded.

    "NO, IT'S QUITE HOT, I ASSURE YOU!"

    "Dawg, that ain't what I-"

    "YOU SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR THE STRONG STIMCAFF. YOU DIDN'T CARE FOR IT WHEN I MADE IT ICED, THAT ONE TIME, SO IT IS HOT. IF YOU WANTED ICED STIMCAFF, YOU SHOULD HAVE SPE-"

    "G," Fook held up a staying paw. "Not what I meant by cool. I'll come back and get some in a moment, dig?"

    "AH, I SEE. MY APOLOGIES, MY SUBPROCESSES STILL BECOME CONFUSED FROM TIME TO TIME. IT'S MOST DISTRESSING, YOU KNOW."

    "S'all good, G. S'all good." Easing himself out of his seat, the bounty hunter padded back into the living quarters and poured himself a human-sized portion of stimcaff. "G, disable tracking, cease data logging, but keep the set course. Also, reduce volume to half."

    "SHOULD I SHUT MYSELF DOWN FOR THE EVENING, AS WELL?"

    "Nah, I could use the company for a bit. Otherwise I'm just gonna think about her," Fook replied, returning to the cockpit.

    "YOU KNOW I COULD TAKE YOU HOME, IF YOU REALLY WANTED, SIR. IF YOU WOULD TELL ME WHERE IT IS, I COULD PLOT A COURSE."

    Shaking his head, Fook sat back in his seat and took a sip of his stimcaff. Black and strong, just how he liked it. "Not happening, G. And I thought I programmed your ass to not offer me that."

    "THE LOCK ON MY PROGRAMMING STATES THAT I CANNOT ASK IF WANT TO GO TO YOUR HOME PLANET. I BELIEVE YOU WILL FIND THAT I ONLY STATED THAT IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE. PERHAPS THIS IS SPLITTING HAIRS, BUT I WORRY ABOUT YOU AT TIMES."

    A soft smile warmed the wah's face as the stimcaff warmed his belly, and he stared out at the stretch of hyperspace beyond his viewshield. "I appreciate it, G. You're a good friend, holmes."

    "AT THE VERY LEAST I COULD RUN ANOTHER SEARCH ON THE HOLONET FOR PORNOGRAPHY FEATURING YOUR RACE. I AM CERTAIN I WILL FIND SOMETHING EVENTUALLY!"

    "Woah there, G! Homies don't just go offerin' shit like that!"

    "YOU TOUCHED YOURSELF AFTER APPEARING TO BE LOST IN THOUGHT. TYPICALLY WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU WISH TO VIEW-"

    "Dawg! Chill!" Fook blurted.

    "APOLOGIES, I WAS JUST TRYING TO BE THOUGHTFUL. I WAS ABLE TO FIND SOME MOST CURIOUS CONTENT FOR MASTER LOKI WHEN HE ASKED."

    It took all his focus not to spray a mouthful of stimcaff all over his viewshield and control panel, as Fook had just taken a sip of stimcaff. Choking it down, he coughed and sputtered, before glaring wide-eyed at the visage of Guan Yu on one of cockpit screens. "Yo! What? Aw, hell naw, G, you showed that sucka-ass Jedi that X-rated shit?"

    "HE WAS PERFORMING A SEARCH FOR IT ON A TABLET, SO MERELY OFFERED ASSISTANCE. I BELIEVE I SAID, 'IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE ATTEMPTING TO VIEW PORNOGRAPHY. CAN I BE OF ASSISTANCE?' AND HE AGREED. WHAT HE WATCHED WAS MOST INTERESTING, INDEED! DID YOU KNOW THAT-"

    "Fuck!" Fook spat. "Shit shit shit! G, don't tell me any more! That sucka is a minor, dig? You know how much shit I'll be in if folks find out I gave a minor access to that shit? Protocol update: You tell no one about anything Loki watched, if it's adult material."

    Guan Yu's face fell, realizing he'd made a mistake. "UNDERSTOOD, SIR. MY APOLOGIES, YOU SAID I SHOULD BE A GOOD HOST, SO I WAS ONLY TRYING MY BEST TO BE HELPFUL. PROTOCOL HAS BEEN UPDATED. SHOULD I PREVENT HIM FROM ACCESSING SUCH MATERIAL GOING FORWARD?"

    "Pssh, like you can keep a teenager from accessing that shit. Nah, he can do what he wants. I just don't need to know about it, dig? And neither does anyone else."

    The next few hours passed with little incident. Fook closed the cockpit door and lowered the cabin lights so that Loki could sleep soundly, not bothered by music playing in the cockpit. All the while, the glyphs on each of the screens changed, moving from four columns, to three, then two. As it reached one, the wah smiled. "G'night, G. I'm shutting you off, taking us in manually from here. You're going into full system shutdown, now. Disable all data logging, full delete of all tracking and navigation data from the last fifteen hours. And... when I bring you back online, maybe you can search for that kind of thing again, okay? Just don't blurt it out if you find something, dig? Small text alert to my wrist comm, got it?"

    Guan Yu nodded with a smile, his traditional hat being replaced with a sleeping cap on screen. "GOOD NIGHT, SIR. ENJOY YOUR SECLUSION."

    Fook only smiled, then reached out to uncover a master switch, before flicking it off. Guan Yu faded from the screen, replaced by an astronavigation display, while the 36th Chamber dropped out of hyperspace, surrounded by nothing but stars. A new set of coordinates was entered, and the small craft was eased into hyperspace once more, where it remained for two more hours, until at last emerging near a large planet. There, the wah dipped his ship's nose into a descent, manually balancing shields and heat dissipators as it pushed through the atmosphere, before cruising over one of its continents, finally touching down, and powering off - completely.

    When Loki awoke, he would find himself somewhere quite different from the banquette bed of the 36th Chamber. Instead he would be lying on a futon, in the main living area of a small, simple house. Its walls were made of wood and whitewashed daub, its ceiling made up of simple, baked clay tiles. A mild sea breeze wafted through the open, glassless windows, some of which offered a view of a simple garden out back, while others looked upon a vista of forest. There were no electric lights to be seen, or electric anything, for that matter. Everything was low-tech, including Fook, who had shed his typically flashy clothing for traditional, simple rustic clothing, and who sat napping against a wooden post next to the fire pit. From the position of the sun, it was mid-morning - if this planet could be counted on to have something of a 24-cycle, at least.

  12. #32
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    When Loki stirred, the silence crystallised around him like a prison, oppressive and impenetrable. He bolted upright with a gasp. His wide-eyed gaze swept his surroundings, everything strange and unfamiliar. But there was Fook. When he spotted the small Wah sleeping, he started to breath again. Underneath him his arms were stiff, electrified, and his chest heaved with every laboured breath. A few moments passed in the extraordinary silence, with nothing but the throb of his racing pulse in his ears, and in the silence, his fractured thoughts started to fill in the blanks to make sense of this new alien environment. One hand rose up and clutched at the small bump beneath his shirt, where the cool crystal kissed his damp skin. He closed his eyes, exhaled, and as his mind stilled at last, he stood.

    Underfoot, the wooden floor was silent and unyielding. It had been constructed with care. And, careful to remain quiet, Loki made his way across what appeared to be a humble living space, to take a look out of the nearest window. Before him, a garden, thick and overgrown, and vibrant with wild flowers at its edges. Amongst the turmoil, however, neat rows of handsome crops sitting in the hard baked soil. Loki took another deep breath, drinking in the fresh air like the first gulp of water on a hot day. The tension of whatever that was - a bad dream? - it seeped from his muscles at once. He felt like he could deflate into a puddle. Then, taking one glance back to check if Fook was still asleep, he stepped outside into the morning sun.

  13. #33
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    The transition from planed wooden planks to smooth stone flags underfoot was nearly seamless as Loki stepped out the back door of the small house, yet the simple confines of the house gave way to a sprawling vista beyond once he'd ducked through the slightly low door. The back wall of the garden was hemmed in by a jutting mass of stone, rising up from the cliffside the rustic house perched upon, and the crash of waves far below echoed as a soft rumble. To the south, beyond a short wall of mortar and cobble, the land fell away to deliver a commanding view of a shoreline which curved out to the west, and and of the inland forest which was echoed to the north. Gone was the frantic rush and bombardment of noise of Nar Shadda, and the subtle vibrations of a starship in transit could not be felt, replaced by the solid reality of true gravity, and the silence of an undisturbed world. Beyond the sound of the sea, there was only the rustle of wind through the trees, and creak of limbs as they swayed, with the occasional chirp of a bird. And beyond that? Silence.

    Silence, and then the popping of joints as Li Ho Fook woke from his morning nap, and stood behind Loki in the doorway, stretching his body, and working out some stiffness.

    "Mornin', sleepyhead," he said, after his mouth expanded in a yawn of his own, baring his jaws in the relative dark of the doorframe. "Not a bad view, huh?"

  14. #34
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    Though the soft patter of Fook's approach had not gone unnoticed, Loki's attention remained fixed upon the sight before him. After all, Fook he had seen before; this was something new. His gaze was drawn to the horizon, where the sky met the sea, and traced a line inland, across the sweeping shore, up into the rolling forest, and further still, where hills and valleys shimmered in the tranquil sunlight. His mind was already wandering and his imagination ready to run wild.

    The sound of Fook's voice broke his reverie, and seeped like rainwater into his thoughts, parched for answers.

    "What is this place?" he said, his voice hoarse from lack of use. "How did I even get here?"

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    Fook's paws clasped behind his back and he padded out into the sunlight of his garden. Its surrounding wall would be comically low to Loki, but once Fook was there, everything appeared to be of proper scale.

    "This is my retreat. My world," he replied. Behind him, his bushy, ringed tail bobbed and swayed, keeping itself just above the ground, not quite touching it. "I mean, not the world I'm from, but... this one is mine, now. You and I? We're the only two sentient beings here, as far as I can tell."

    Black eyes squinting in frustration at the state of the weeds and overgrowth, the wah pulled his paws back forward and he squatted down to begin tearing out unwanted growth from the sun-dried topsoil. "As for how you got here, I carried you off the ship. You were out cold. Can't be overexerting yourself like that; it leads to poor judgment calls, and openings someone can take advantage of. Proper sleep is important, even while hunting."

    Beside him, a small pile of weeds was forming, while the start of one row of tubers began to emerge clearly.

  16. #36
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    "Hmph." Loki responded, folding his arms. The thought of being carried to bed, like an infant, did not sit well with him. What was even more peculiar was the notion that he'd been fatigued enough to suffer such an indignity. His eyes narrowed in thought, as he considered the dregs of some kind of sedative still coursing through his veins. Given the present company, it was not an entirely unthinkable scenario and it was one which provided refuge from the mental image of him being cradled, softly sleeping, from the 36th Chamber. For the sake of diplomacy, however, he conceded to Li Ho Fook's unsavoury narrative.

    "It appears I underestimated the toll of my exertions on Nar Shaddaa."

    There was something else Fook said that struck him as unusual. His world. The very idea of it took root and from it blossomed myriad new questions. But, given the extraordinary secrecy with which they arrived here, Loki refrained from pursuing any such line of questioning for the time being. Such a bold claim it was. There had to be someone else, somewhere; a settlement, a family, an explorer. And yet, Fook gave him no reason to doubt his words. Gone was the outlandish swagger and the shameless ego-stroking, instead this was someone far more reserved, and practical. There was something else, too. Loki was almost sure of it.

    He continued to marvel at his surroundings, with particular attention being paid to the house; a humble, almost utilitarian establishment, that was nonetheless comfortable and built with a keen eye for detail.

    "This is your home? Did you build it?"

  17. #37
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    "Yes, shortly after I got the 36th Chamber," Fook nodded. His gaze remained upon his garden, and he moved along, deftly clearing weeds and unwanted growth with his fingers and claws.

    "It took some time, and no small amount of work, but I built it myself. Though, clearly I had to purchase some of the materials. I'm not exactly a potter, so ceramic roof tiles were something I had to buy, instead of make. And the furniture, of course. Some of the art, as well. Containers, fabrics, that sort of thing. But everything I did buy, I tried to get as close as I could to how it would be where I'm from."

    Dusting his paws off after half a row of weeding, he stood, looking back to admire his simple home. "It's not perfect, but it's mine. And it helps me to clear my head. Unwind. Regain perspective. That sort of thing." His eyes finally reached Loki. "Something tells me that a man who has been so on-the-move as yourself could use a bit of that, right now."

  18. #38
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    As naturally as he could, Loki broke eye contact with Fook to inspect the house, once more.

    "It's beautiful. Your home. This whole place."

    And, despite that beauty, and the tranquillity of those surroundings, there was something that had Loki on edge. It was probably just the shock of waking up somewhere so far removed from the 36th Chamber. That in itself was disorienting. But Fook's insinuation hit too close to home, and his guard was up now. He took cover amongst the overrun rows of half-buried tubers, hunkering low, he emulated Fook's handiwork, plucking at the weeds.


    "On Ossus, there is a settlement of Gossam refugees, up in the mountains. Miwu Shanma. The Gossam have a rich culture, steeped in tradition. Their ways are old ways. And, when it was time for me to... unburden myself of my Jedi life, I escaped to Miwu Shanma. I am reminded of it, here."

    Then, bracing himself with fingertips planted upon the firm topsoil, he addressed the bantha in the room:

    "What has happened to your voice?"

  19. #39
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    A low, playful chuckle rumbled from the wah's throat before he made his reply. "I was wondering when you'd realize that. The Grandmaster is a character, a face. One of many. But I don't need him here. He doesn't live here. Nothing of that life lives here. Even Guan Yu. He's not here. It's just me. And, well, now you, for a little while."

  20. #40
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    From his crouched position, Loki twisted to face Fook, at once. His expression was creased with a suspicion that said, in no uncertain terms, that he was not convinced by this explanation.

    "Are you trying to tell me that this is the real you?"

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