A Heritage of Power 3: Jay's Story 2:
A Padawan To Be

by Fur and Fantasy
PG-13 for Violence
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"*Master Essani?*" Jay's mind-voice was soft and low as he carefully brushed against hers when he was fairly sure she wasn't busy. That he used her rank was a warning to his favorite Jedi and frequent companion that the almost-teen had something very serious on his mind. Even with the great improvement he'd managed in his shielding in two years under the guidance of the Temple, how core the subject to him echoed clearly to her. "*When you have a moment to talk?*" He asked, adding an image of his favorite koi pond in the gardens.

"*I'll be there, Jay,*" the kushiban replied, wondering what the issue would be. She waited for the report being given by Jolani and her ithorian Padawan to end before she reached out to Master Shan's mind.

"*I'll have to leave you and the others alone for the next appointments,*" she explained to him. "*I have to go check on Jay.*"

"Understood," the Dobie nodded. "It all looks like routine business; I'll make sure you get a summary of anything important."

"*Thank you, Master Shan,*" the kushiban nodded respectfully, stood and trotted out to the pond before the next meeting could start. It didn't take her long to find the kit staring into the calm water and its moving splotches of color.

"*Is there something wrong, Jay?*" She asked him, settling down next to him, her fur tinged a light grey with concern.

"Wrong, not really," he looked up at her and smiled weakly. "I just need ... I guess I want to know if I'm making a good choice."

"*About what?*" She asked, moving a bit closer to nuzzle his shoulder reassuringly and felt him lean into the contact.

"Being a Jedi, and when to accept my Gift and face the Demon." He took a deep breath. "How long are Jedi expected to be field agents before they can settle down?"

"*There's no real rule about that,*" Essani admitted. "*Many Jedi are called on by the Council so long as they are able. But others spend almost their entire careers in the Temple, unless they are called on for a specific duty. Much of it depends on circumstances, and the duties the Jedi takes on. You're reaching the age where you have to choose, aren't you?*"

"Yeah," he nodded. "What I was thinking was to hold off on taking on my family Gift until I was almost ready for my Trials, but hold off on taking them so I can have my Master there while I learn how to control the Demon and my Gift, and only take the Trials when that's worked out well enough that I'm safe to go out alone."

"*I think that's a very wise decision, Jay,*" she said with a mental smile and felt as much as saw him relax.

"Do you have any idea who my Master will be?" He asked softly, a half look at her not even beginning to conceal who he wanted.

"*I had rather been hoping to take you on myself,*" Essani confirmed for him. "*It's been a long time since I've had a Padawan. Though I've received word that Jedi Parn is returning soon, and may be interested in the position himself.*"

Jay nodded and thought about that, his affection for the Panther mixed with an understanding of what they both were really like.

"It wouldn't be the smartest thing," he admitted quietly. "He brings out the worst parts of me."

"*In what way?*" Essani asked curiously.

"The aggression, the making choices for others ... we're alike in a lot of ways, ways I don't want to encourage in myself." He glanced over at her. "I know it doesn't come across a lot, but my family is mostly warriors. It's in my blood, but the bloodlust and rage and killing rush isn't something I like. I don't like to fight. And fighting is meditation to Doruth."

"*I understand, Jay,*" Essani reassured him. "*And you know you don't have to be a warrior. I think you'd be a fine scholar, in the field or otherwise.*"

"I'd prefer it," he smiled and nuzzled her, grateful that he really could be a Jedi without being the combat specialist. "I like creating things, fixing things. Just 'cause I'm good at breaking things, doesn't mean I like doing it."

"*That's fine Jay,*" the kushiban chuckled, returning the nuzzle. "*It's rare for somebody to realize that as young as you are. You will still have to learn to be competent with a lightsaber, and to defend yourself and those around you, but many Knights dedicate their training to other pursuits once they have reached that level.*"

"Oh, I have no intention of being anything less than extremely competent at getting out of the trouble I get into," Jay chuckled slightly. "I'm not so arrogant as to believe it won't come for me just because I'm in a different galaxy. Seeking it out just isn't the path I want for my life." He shifted to nuzzle her. "But I'd like to be a Jedi, and help with what I'm good at."

"*And you don't mind a Master who's small, fluffy, and looks like dinner on most worlds in the known galaxy?*" Essani said, chirping as her fur passed through an unusual shade of pink before returning to it's normal white.

"Not at all," Jay smiled warmly at her. "I haven't seen that shade before."

"*You'll probably see it more often as my Padawan,*" Essani explained. "*I've got an unusual sense of humor. Just don't ask questions if I'm that shade and running,*" she winked.

"Right," he grinned, the glint in his eyes a reminder that he was already well known for getting away with pranks and jokes that would have most skinned, largely because no one could prove he'd done it.

"*Just remember that the people you'll be pranking now can figure out it was you,*" Essani said with a mental grin, the pink color returning to her coat as she snuggled up against Jay's side.

"Not that well," he snickered. "Or they aren't bringing it up."

"*That's the funny thing,*" she chirped. "*Somehow, the further you get, the less likely they are to do more than roll their eyes. By the way, I'll have to teach you to understand kushiban one of these days.*"

"Cool," Jay grinned, delighted to pick up a rare language.

"*So, you're feeling better about your choice now?*"

"Yeah," he nodded a bit shyly. "I was pretty sure it was a good one, just ... wanted a second opinion."

"*I'm glad you trust me that much,*" Essani said, nuzzling him lightly. "*You've taken to the training very well,*" she added and got a real smile for it, his cheeks lightly flushed under his dark fur.

"So is there a ceremony or something, or does everybody just know I'm yours now?" Jay asked, taking them back to the core that had begun the discussion.

"*I tell Master Shan later, make sure there are no objections from the Council. Which is more a formality than anything else; they haven't refused a Master choosing their Padawan from among the students in centuries. From there it's entered into the records by Master Kareth and news will get out quickly enough.*"

"Do I get to actually move in with you now?" He asked with a hopeful look for no longer spending most of his nights in her quarters but technically living with three others in the student dorms.

"*Yes, you do,*" Essani chirped softly with a mental chuckle. "*Which will make it a little easier on you, I'm sure.*"

"Less walking at least," he chuckled and ducked his head. "Probably a lot less teasing too."

"*Are they still giving you trouble about that?*" Essani asked, looking at him. She'd done her best to put down the rumors of what they might be doing; regardless of how mature Jay's mind was, she saw no reason to let anybody think there was anything going on that wasn't.

"Not that we're fooling around," he shook his head with a chuckle. "But about being the rabbit's pet, and needing my fluffy security blanket to sleep, some." He shrugged, putting it as just part of life though it did sting and did little to help his self-control or desire not to become the fighter most of his kin were. "I do sleep a lot better with you." He repeated what they both knew too well. "I think I still cloak myself when I'm in my room."

"*Unfortunately we can't stop all of it,*" she said, rubbing his back telekinetically until he purred in pleasure. "*And yes, you do, according to your roommates. You are going to want to work on that in the future. After all, I won't always be able to share a bed with you.*"

"I know," he smiled at her. "For all sorts of reasons. It's just one of those reflexes I have when I don't feel very safe. I've got a lot of those to work on, along with my studies." His grin widened a bit. "I am looking forward to really starting on this phase of life."

"*And I'm looking forward to helping you with it,*" the kushiban said approvingly, nuzzling him lightly. "*It's good that you're sticking with your training.*"

Jay hummed softly, a simple tune from a childhood that seemed several lifetimes removed and fading from his memory. Still, this took him back to vivid and warm memories of his mother singing him to sleep before he could walk. He wasn't even aware when two of his roommates came in to see him packing his things.

"So, we're losing another Cat?" A familiar voice said in heavily accented basic. "What's the matter, your owner decide to trade you in for another kitten?"

A slight shiver ripped down Jay's spine as he kept the growl to himself at Navik's taunts.

"No one owns me." He replied instead.

"Wouldn't know it to watch you," the Rodian teased. "'S a shame, really."

"Nah, then I couldn't be Master Essani's Padawan."

"Like that would ever happen," Navik laughed, the sound grating through his two-toned voice.

"I hope you didn't have any creds on it, 'cause it just did." He smirked at the leathery green-skinned biped.

Jay's smirk almost changed to a grin as he heard a half-squawk of surprise in rodese. It didn't take long for Navik to catch himself though, and decide on a new angle of attack.

"Shouldn't be surprised," he sneered, or at least came as close to a sneer as he could with his snout. "After all, fitting that you'd end up with a Master that'd be dinner in half the galaxy. Not like you're going to end up being more."

"No, I'm going to be a Jedi, and you're going to the Reassignment Council." Jay pointed out with a bit of a sneer. "Or didn't they tell you you've only got a few weeks left to find a Master."

"If a katchutak like you can find one but I can't, better to go back to Rodia where the strong are welcome!"

"You aren't strong, Navik." Jay pointed out calmly. "You're undisciplined, Force-weak and can't even beat a katchutak; at anything."

Even Jay's barely-trained senses felt the spike of rage that flushed through the young Rodian. It gave him just enough warning to duck to the side before the shorter but stockier alien took a swing at him.

"You know better than that," he dropped into a loose defensive posture, sure that a Knight wouldn't be far behind such a blatant disturbance. "Show you've got some potential and calm down before the Knight arrives."

As much as Jay had hoped to calm Navik down, his words only seemed to further provoke him. Navik lunged for him again, a clumsy body-rush that Jay easily deflected, sending the Rodian tumbling to the ground. Navik rolled to his back and tried to get up, but the weight of two other students rushing into the room to pin him down held him in place.

One of them, a lean Caracal fem from the next room, looked up at Jay as she leaned down, putting her weight on Navik's arms to hold him down.

"What'd you say to him this time?" She asked him, grunting as Navik tried to force her off, a string of muttered rodese curses escaping from his snout before the Wolf straddling his waist wrapped his large paw around it.

"A good deal less than he said to me," he settled from his defensive posture, though he never lost track of exactly what Navik was trying to do.

"Well apparently it was enough," Miya muttered. "You've never managed to get him going this well before."

"Well, I am a Padawan now," he shifted and rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "To Master Essani. Kinda pissed him off."

"I'm sure she'll be thrilled to hear about this," the Caracal said dryly as one of the Knights finally arrived. The two of them got off of Navik, who rolled to his knees, breathing hard as he looked up at the Lion who had just arrived.

"The four of you, come with me," the Knight said firmly.

"Yes, sir." Jay nodded and followed where he could keep an eye on Navik as they were led to explain just how this had happened to one of the Masters.

Master Alarin looked at Jay with his usual stern expression as the kit walked into his office. The older Ram had been in charge of discipline in the student's quarters for some time, and Navik was no stranger to the room.

Jay was a somewhat rarer visitor, and was always to be been found in conjunction with a fight with a much better known troublemaker.

"I want you to explain what happened," he said. He'd already gotten what he could from the others who were nearby, though Navik was waiting to speak to him yet. He wanted to hear Jay's version of things first; he was pretty sure he knew what the Rodian's would sound like.

"I was packing to move to my Master's quarters when Navik came in and asked if my owner had decided to trade me in," he recounted, his anger at the words easily sensed by the Ram, though the kit showed no signs of it. "I told him that no one owned me, he said that you wouldn't know by watching me, and that it was a shame. I replied that if I was I couldn't be Master Essani's Padawan. He said that it would never happen. I told him I hoped he didn't have a bet on that, because it had just happened. He came back that it wasn't a surprise that I'd end up with a Master that was dinner in half the galaxy and I'd end up being the same." His anger flared again at the insult to his Master, and someone he cared about.

"I said that I'd be a Jedi, and he'd go to the Reassignment Council." Jay paused, uncomfortable repeating the next words. "He said that if a katchutak like me could find a Master but he couldn't, it was better to go back to Rodia where the strong are welcome. I told him he wasn't strong, that he's undisciplined, Force-weak and can't even beat a katchutak at anything. Then he took a swing at me and I avoided getting hit until Miya and Rurik pinned him down and Knight Emrys showed up."

"I see," Master Alarin said quietly, checking on Jay's reassignment and nodding when it was confirmed that it was in progress. The Ram looked Jay in the eyes. "Do you feel you handled the situation appropriately?"

"I could have handled it better," he admitted quietly. "I know Navik enjoys bating me and just about everyone else and that was all he was doing."

"Good," Master Alarin nodded. "You are right, on both counts. How could you have handled it better?"

"I could have simply not replied. He doesn't do more than talk." He ran over the events in his mind and cringed a bit internally at how many times he had basically lost control of the situation. "I lost control of myself when I mentioned not betting on it. I started to bait him back then. Something I know I can beat him at."

"Your decision to defend yourself is not being questioned, and the way you handled it was understandable," the Ram explained, his voice and expression softening. "But you're right; you shouldn't have returned the baiting, whether or not you can beat him at it. You handled yourself admirably once the fight started, but in the future you should think twice about how you respond. Better to keep a fight from starting than to be the victor."

"Yes, Master," Jay inclined his head, knowing the truth of that very well and agreeing with it, even when he didn't manage to follow it.

"I do have one more question for you, Jay," Master Alarin said. "When Miya was explaining what had happened, she said that when she commented that Navik didn't usually get as upset as he clearly was, you said that you were Master Essani's Padawan, as though that justified it somehow. What did you actually mean by that? She agreed that it would have been very unusual if that was how you meant it."

"I think that was what made him so mad; that I not only had been accepted by a Master, but by a prestigious one, when it is unlikely that he'd be accepted by any of them."

"Which may well be the case," Master Alarin nodded. "Thank you, Padawan. If you would like, you can return to finish packing; I'll speak with Navik and determine what to do with him."

"Thank you, Master." He smiled slightly and let the spike of pleasure at having the title applied to him wash through him and bowed before he turned and left, passing a still irate Navik who glared at him and was pointedly ignored.

"*Master?*" Jay's mental voice called to her politely from outside her quarters with a backpack on his shoulder full of his Jedi things and the sleek black carrying case for his personal computer, one of his few real possessions, hooked to his belt.

"*Come in, Jay. Or Padawan, if you prefer,*" Essani said, moving a number of crystals up onto a shelf before hopping out of her 'bed' and approaching the door to greet him as he stepped in and took in the changes she'd wrought in a scant few hours.

"*Jay, honestly,*" he smiled warmly at her and set his pack down as the door slid shut behind him. "I'm proud of the title, and who made it so, but I'm still me. You've been busy." He added as he took in the shift of things to accommodate a second long term resident in her comfortably full quarters.

"*It was overdue for a cleaning,*" Essani chirped with a chuckle, backing up to let him walk around. "*Your quarters will be where they usually are, by the way. Haven't changed that much.*"

"Thank you," he looked at her with a warm fondness that very few ever saw. "For everything in the last two years," he added and reached down to gently scritch her ears.

"*You're welcome,*" she rurred, enjoying the scritching as her fur turned golden. "*Mmm ... I understand you had one more little run-in with Navik before you managed to move out.*"

"Yes," he sighed and picked up his pack to get his clothes put away before they needed to be un-wrinkled. "I kind of lost my temper this time too. He's very good at knowing what to say to get under your skin."

"*Yes, he is,*" Essani agreed. "*It's a pity too; we were hoping that he'd be able to take to the training better. I know Master Alarin already spoke to you about how it worked out, so I won't give you the same lecture,*" she said with what felt like an almost maternal mental smile. "*Once you have your things put away come back out here, I have something for you.*"

"Oh?" He blinked in surprise, but took no less care in hanging up his clothes and putting all the various folded items away.

"*There is some tradition to becoming a Padawan, Jay,*" Essani chuckled as he came out of the second room. "*Just not necessarily formal tradition.*"

"There are a lot of those," he grinned a bit.

"*Yes, there are,*" she agreed. "*I understand you've been a little frustrated working with the training 'sabers so far?*"

"Yeah," he made a sound was nearly a snort. "It doesn't feel right working with toys."

"*I understand Jay, but given how dangerous a real one can be, it's preferable to having most of our students maim themselves in training,*" she said seriously, making the same argument she had when he first 'fixed' his first training 'saber.

"I remember," he said softly, still remembering the reprimand that had kept his training 'saber largely unmodified since.

"*However, as a Padawan, it's tradition for your Master to give you a real one to train with until you build your own. Which I hope you'll wait at least a month before doing,*" she added with a chuckle as one of the drawers of a nearby desk opened and the familiar handle floated up and over to Jay's hands.

He took it from her telekinesis with an almost reverential seriousness and respect.

"You built it." He murmured as his fingers ghosted over the 'saber's hilt. "For me."

"*Yes Jay,*" she nodded. "*You had very good timing, actually. I only finished it a few days ago.*"

He let focused his mind and Gift and let it go to stand without being touched between his hands and the deep sea-blue blade snapped to life with his mind taking it all in as much as his eyes.

Essani could feel him do the odd way the Force flowed around and through him as he claimed the 'saber as his own and understood it on a level that few others could manage. She watched him and his reactions, fascinated as always by the unusual talent for making the Force work in ways that few other Jedi thought were possible.

He was completely calm and focused when the blade disappeared and he took the hilt in one hand and hooked it on his belt.

"Thank you, Master." He smiled slightly and bowed, his respect in the actions sincere.

"*You're welcome, Jay,*" she said, inclining her head towards him. "*If you're ready, we can begin some of your more advanced training now.*"

"So, think you're ready for this?" Doruth asked, settling down in the Kalrass' cockpit next to Tes. "After all, you don't exactly have the world's best relationship with the Hutt."

"And you do, Jedi?" She chuckled and grinned up at him. "Seriously," her expression went to steel, "I don't let pack mates go into a bad situation without backup. It's hardly the most dangerous thing I've done."

"Understood," he nodded with a smile. "So, want to go over what we've got on this operation once more before we head down?"

"Always," she smiled and leaned over to kiss him firmly.

"Mmm ... don't distract me," he smirked after returning the kiss. He reached out and brought up the mission profile on the Kalrass' computer.

"Okay, we've got a Hutt running slaver operations on the third world in the Xagobah system. Seems the Senators in the area aren't too crazy about it, but they're not willing to put their own security forces on the task. Probably can't afford to out-bribe the Hutts."

"So they hand it to the Jedi, who don't use bribes." She chuckled softly. "Still no word on who's in charge?"

"We use 'em, but not exclusively," Doruth chuckled. "And no. All we have is that they're based on Nar Shaddaa, heading out here to try and make enough to make a bid for power. Which narrows it down to about three-quarters of the Hutt in the galaxy. The Council would like us to shut down the slavers, and if possible round up the people in charge to face charges."

"So are we actually going to talk first, or just make things go boom?" She cocked her head with a grin.

"Talk first, boom later if necessary," Doruth chuckled. "Which it probably will be. But we're not just going to hack our way through this, or the Hutt, either. The planet's pretty damn swampy; if necessary we blow the supports for their landing point. Let's face it, they'd make a lot more money running spice out of Kessel than they would rebuilding their port after it gets swallowed up."

"Particularly knowing it would just go boom again." She nodded seriously. "Want me to hide my 'saber during the talks?"

"Well, since we're officially here as negotiators from the Council, it's up to whether or not you mind being mistaken for a Jedi yourself. Shouldn't work against us too badly, might even keep some of the Hutt's men a little less confident if they think they've got two Jedi to deal with."

"I don't mind," she grinned and kissed him again. "It's why I wore the 'saber I had in the open before I met you for meetings. And now I'm actually dressed like one and walking next to one."

"Which always helps," he chuckled. "Hey, Tes... you have any ideas for who you'll be working with, as a Custos?"

It earned him a rather stricken look mixed with shock.

"Who else would I be working with?" She demanded, her teeth bared and hackles raised.

"Woah, sorry!" He said, raising his hands slightly and felt her start to calm down, though it took a few moments for her to settle. "I wasn't sure if you wouldn't want to find somebody else, maybe another Wolf."

"Doruth ..." she reached out to scritch his jaw and settle her fur. "Wolves don't throw pack mates out. We mate for life. We pass our skills and territory down to our pups. I may find a Wolf or two to run with us if you accept them, but not another mate."

"All right," he smiled, reaching over to help settle her fur, rubbing her shoulders once that was done. "I wasn't about to throw you out, Tes, or leave, or whatever you thought I had in mind. I just remembered you said once that your mate would have to be another Wolf... I'm a little short in that department," he chuckled slightly. "Though a Custos/Jedi team and mates aren't quite the same thing, at least not officially."

"We'll sort that out later," she kissed him gently, and then licked his nose a bit playfully. "A lot's happened in the last two years we both still need to catch up with."

"We'll sort that out after kicking this Hutt back to Nar Shaddaa," Doruth grinned, kissing her again. "Mmm ... just hope it can still get off-world without its spaceport, if necessary. Hate to think some poor swamp fish would end up eating one of those things."

"Anything with that little sense of the edible deserves an upset stomach." Tes snickered and shook her fur out. "Ready?"

"Ready," he nodded, bracing in the seat as the Kalrass set down. "Let's go see if they're willing to be reasonable."

"*Doruth, we're in trouble.*" Tes' mind touched his for the first time as she slid the hood of her robes a little further forward to cover her face. She didn't have a trace of any reaction on the outside as they walked into the Hutt's den and got a good look at the giant slug, but he could feel her distress. "*That's Jenaba.*"

"*The Hutt whose partner you took apart? Maybe we'll get lucky and it won't mind any more.*" Doruth managed to keep his own reactions from showing, waiting while the twi'lek 'major domo' explained their cover story; Jedi who needed to employ the Hutt's smugglers for the Order's purposes.

The scent of money, especially paid by the Order, had been more than enough to get them an audience.

"You may approach Jenaba the Hutt with your request," the grey-skinned twi'lek explained, smiling the toothy, condescending smile so common to its criminally inclined kin that always managed to put Doruth on edge.

The Panther stepped forward, his face emotionless even as he judged their odds of getting out of this alive. They were vastly outnumbered, if it came to a fight, and the forces here weren't random mercenaries; they were the Hutt's personal bodyguard, with a couple seasoned bounty hunters who were earning a paycheck by kidnapping the local sentients.

Their odds weren't good.

Doruth looked at the protocol droid next to the massive Hutt, and decided not to tip too much of his hand. He could understand what it said easily, but better to fake it for now.

"Tell your master that we have been sent by the Council to discuss a matter of business with his eminence. It is regarding his current operations on this planet."

The droid did its job, repeating his words in the garbled sounds of its master and waited for Jenaba to reply before turning to the Jedi.

"You did not mention this when requesting an audience." The droid informed them, managing to even convey the annoyance and distrust the Hutt had for them.

"True. However, it was mentioned that the Order wished to discuss business. It would, of course, be impossible for the Jedi to be associated with the force behind an illegal slaving operation."

The droid barely got a chance to do its work.

"Jenaba the Hutt is involved in no such thing." It protested loudly.

"Not knowingly, we're sure," Doruth agreed, a statement both sides knew was just as much a lie as the Hutt's denial. "However, while slavery is legal within Hutt Space, taking slaves from this system, this planet in particular, is not legal within the Republic. We are sure that it is merely a misunderstanding, and are willing to offer the great Jenaba an alternative business arrangement in exchange for ceasing these operations."

"Speak, Jedi." The Hutt considered him calculatingly.

Doruth was rather surprised that they were still talking, honestly. He'd half expected to be thrown out by now, or involved in a rather large fight. Still, he wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to get out of this without violence being necessary.

"If Jenaba will stop taking slaves from Republic space, particularly this sector, the Order is ready to offer his eminence first refusal when they need to employ independent smugglers or... services... that he is prepared to offer. A not insignificant amount of business, and far less costly than continuing operations here."

He could all but see the calculations running through its head. What that offer was really worth, how long it was likely to last, the profit margin here, the cost of abandoning operations and the cost of continuing.

"Agreed, if you leave the female." It focused on Tes' robed form and the sharp tension that suddenly ran across it. "We have unfinished business."

"That is not an option," Doruth said simply, keeping the emotion out of his voice, and forcing back the surge of anger that threatened to reignite the darkness inside him. He very intentionally kept his hand away from the hilt of his lightsaber. He was not going to be the one to attack first.

"*And I won't let them take you,*" he reassured Tes, feeling as much as knowing she was very close to making the first strike and only his wishes were holding her back.

"*Run?*" She asked, willing and ready to fight but accepting it was his choice until one of them was attacked.

Doruth could feel the tension in the guards. Jenaba's mind was closed; like most successful Hutts its will was strong enough to resist his own, but its employees were another issue.

"*Run,*" he agreed, knowing as well as she did that they were about to have a very large problem. For a brief second he was incredibly proud of her for doing as he said without hesitation, knowing it went against just about everything she believed in and wanted.

He barely heard the Hutt's gurgling order to kill them, but Tes' snarl of pain was as clear as the distinctive sound of her lightsaber flaring to life and the blaster fire that rained down around them.

His own 'saber was blazing within a split-second, blaster bolts flying through the room at random as he and Tes deflected as many of them as they could. He moved in behind her, his blazing blue lightsaber flashing through the air as he tried to protect them both.

A part of him was practically screaming to kill the Hutt; cut off the head and let the rest of its organization die. But he forced the reaction back, knowing that it wouldn't be enough to keep them alive.

Centering himself mentally, he summoned the Force, pushing it out in a wave that threw most of the Hutt's guards off-balance. The two of them bolted through the opening it created, a defensive retreat that carried them back towards the sealed entrance.

"When we get there, cut through, I'll cover you," he told her.

"Right," she nodded, her focus on moving and staying alive until they reached the door. She didn't check to see if she was covered, she just began to cut threw the heavy metal door. A process that went faster than it would have for Doruth thanks to the higher-powered blade Jay provided her to replace the one she had surrendered to the Council.

It was an edge that Doruth was grateful for as his own blade flashed through the dimness of the corridor, blocking blaster bolts and cutting down mercenaries who got too close to them. The similarity between their first battle together and this one was striking, though he didn't have much time to reflect on it.

Only to hope he didn't run across another mercenary with armor that would shut down his lightsaber. If that happened now, it would probably get the two of them killed.

He snarled as a lucky shot grazed his side, the pain straining his control and bringing the darkness surging to the surface. He threw his hand up; calling on the power of the Force ... but at the last second, caught himself, and used the destructive telekinetic 'push' to destroy the Rat's blaster, instead of its chest.

"We're through!" Tes shouted, hurrying out of the building, followed closely by Doruth. The Panther turned and grabbed her, dragging her off into the swamps away from the Kalrass.

"Trust me?" He asked her, panting, trying to ignore the pain lacing through his side with every word, breath, and step.

"Always," she nodded, covering her own pain with a level of experience he simply didn't have, for all he had better self-control.

"Good," he said, gripping her tightly and taking a deep breath she mimicked. He threw them both into the swampy muck of Xagobah, sealing his muzzle against hers as they sank, grateful beyond words that she calmed and relaxed against him after a moment of terrified shock. He carefully shared his air with her as he willed the Force to open a small 'bubble' around their heads, filled with real bubbles from the surface that brought them unpleasantly fragrant, but breathable, oxygen.

He could only pray that their pursuers would think they'd drowned after falling.

"*Now what?*" She asked silently to preserve their air supply.

"*We wait,*" he answered, rubbing her back reassuringly and keep his senses open to the disturbances in the force created by each of the mercenaries. After what felt like an eternity, he sensed them going back to the base, satisfied that their quarry had fallen prey to the swamp - and, better yet, that if they were ever found it would look like an accident.

Just in time too, they were running out of air for real. Doruth drew an arrow pointing 'up' on her back with his finger, before he started to swim for the surface, staying close enough that he could feel if she was having trouble with it herself. He could tell she was using more Force that she should have needed, but she still broke the surface only a moment after him.

It was her Force signature that got his attention the most of everything about her in that moment. It was wavering, off ... and she was sick with fear that dieing in battle hadn't even come close too.

None of which she gave any outward indication of as they worked to the shore.

Once they were there, he pulled her out, looking at her worriedly. He hadn't noticed before, but he could tell now that she was hurt a hell of a lot worse than he was, and not all of her wounds had been cauterized by what had caused them.

"Think you can get back to the ship?" He asked her, unable to hide his concern, knowing already that the stay in the muck had probably left her wounds infected with whatever diseases might be living in it.

"Yes," she gritted her teeth, leaving it unsaid that there simply wasn't another choice.

"Give me a moment," he said, swallowing hard and focusing. He'd called on the Force a lot by now, and it had exhausted him. But he was damned if he was going to have her move like this for all she was willing. He closed his eyes, driving out the mental fatigue, the anger he felt at himself for letting things go this badly ... and, hardest of all, the fear that getting them away from their pursuers might have killed Tes in the long run by exposing her wounds to all manner of infections.

"If I've ever needed the help, I need it now," he murmured softly, using what talent he had at healing to try and fix the worst of the damage.

"*It'll be okay,*" she murmured against his mind as the Force eased the worst of her pain. Her instincts took over to calm her mind as she rose to the challenge of being the Alpha again without a thought. "*We need to go before they take our ship.*"

"Right," he nodded, standing up. "We have to move fast, but we landed far enough out they probably don't know where to look off-hand."

Tes nodded and didn't voice her doubts about that as they headed out, senses sharp for both native and non-native threats.

The two of them made it back to the ship as quickly as they could, with only a few tense moments waiting for searchers to go by. They found the Kalrass with a couple guards outside of it. A rock thrown into the swamp-waters behind them provided the distraction necessary to capture them and tie them up. Once they were on the ship, Doruth hurried into the supply bay for a medkit while Tes worked the grime and swamp goo from her fur and robes in the sonic shower.

"There," he said, smiling weakly at the naked shewolf trying to get her fur clean with more difficulty than usual. "That wasn't too bad, was it?"

"No, but we have a spaceport to trash and a planet to get the hell off of." She took a deep breath of almost clean-smelling air. "Let's get this goop out of our fur, tend to wounds and get the job done."

"Right," he nodded, "and you to a bacta tank," he added softly, moving to help her clean up and start working on her wounds. "Before any of these wounds go septic."

"I know," she admitted quietly and didn't fight the assistance, for once not feeling aroused at his touch. "I felt it while we were still under the swamp. Nasty stuff lives here. I still should have a couple weeks before I'll need much more than a good antibiotic and some basic medical care."

"Could be worse," he said, thankful that he'd read up on first aid during the past couple years. "Dagobah has things living on it that don't stop at the physical. Just a few systems away and we wouldn't be taking the time to finish the job." He finished up, closing the medkit.

"I don't think I want to know," she admitted as she shook her fur out one more time to find it acceptably clean.

"Well, that's the best I can do for now," he told her.

"Your turn," Tes said firmly and worked his filthy robes off. "I know you were hit at least once."

"Only felt the one," he admitted, helping her undress him. The blaster bolt had singed his fur, and would probably leave a scar when it healed, but it was the only semi-serious injury he had.

It didn't keep Tes from going over the much more numerous minor ones until she was satisfied he wasn't just trying to tough it out. It wasn't as if he didn't need the time to get his fur and robes fit to walk around in anyway.

"I don't suppose you can just tell me how to place those charges, can you?" He asked, wincing as she cleaned out a cut he'd gotten on the way back.

"I can, but you are not about to go out there alone." She said firmly, giving him one of the few real looks at what her full authority felt like to have focused on him. It was the first time he really comprehended that Alpha-ship among Wolves wasn't just about strength. There was a definite force of will and personality that made things happen too and for all she was submissive to him, she had lost none of it to her choice. "I am not that badly injured."

"No, you're not," he admitted. "Doesn't mean I like it. You can be sure they'll step up security once they realize we're not dead."

"Which isn't going to help them, because we're going to blow that spaceport first." She growled lightly in pure determination. "And we brought plenty of detonite to blow it sky high."

"I hope that's enough," he said, standing and moving to pull out a clean set of robes. He considered them for a bit, and then shook his head. "Might as well stick with the other ones, they'll blend in better. Hell, they've got half the swamp in them yet. So, demolitions is your gig," he said, looking back at her. "How are we going to go about doing this?"

"The gist is to set a directional charge on each support, angled up to cause extra damage and set to cut all the supports in the same direction so the spaceport will slid off them even faster." She explained as they got dressed in their somewhat clean robes. "If we have the time, a few charges underneath to cause more damage would be a good addition. Set off remotely."

"Any ideas on how we get in there? I don't think we want to fly the ship right up to them, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how we're going to move the charges fast enough otherwise. Unless I keep it in the air while you place them, so we can get moving before they come after us."

"I don't suppose you're any good at speed-running?" She asked, leaning against a bulkhead.

"I usually use it for jumps, but yeah," he nodded. "Though I won't be able to do too much of it for a while yet. And it'd still leave you without any way in, unless you've picked up a few tricks I don't know about yet."

"I trained hard while you were meditating, Jedi." She chuckled a bit. "It's not my best skill, but I'm good for a few bursts. Still, it sounds as if sneaking in with the Kalrass after dark, unless you'll have recovered by then."

"Might be, but it's not certain. Maybe not the best time to mention it, but I've never tried anything like that stunt in the swamp before; it took a hell of a lot to keep us breathing."

"Option two," she looked at him steadily. "Pretend to leave. Get them to relax. Then take out the port."

"That would be the least likely to involve another fight," he nodded, thinking it over. "Though it involves more time. Option three," he suggested. "How sturdy are those supports likely to be against ship-grade blasters?"

That raised an eyebrow, but got a nod. "They'd probably shred after a shot or two in the right places unless he sunk a lot into anti-sabotage methods. It didn't look to be the sturdiest construction to me. And since Jay got free reign to upgrade while I was at the Temple, they're probably a lot better than most."

"Then I'd say that's our best bet. The Kalrass' guns were pretty good before he tinkered with them, they should do the trick now. Not the torpedoes you were drooling over on the Gurath," he chuckled, "but they'll blow the supports. I take the guns, you take piloting?"

"Works for me," she nodded, not really hiding her relief that they weren't going back into the swamp or wait for a week or two.

"We had to try and negotiate first, Tes," Doruth said easily. "If it hadn't been Jenaba, it might have actually worked. Think you're up to piloting it now, before they realize that we might try something like this and get their own speeders running?"

"I can fly," she nodded and settled her robes before heading up to the bridge. "You did a good job on the healing," she smiled at him sideways slightly and began the pre-flight check even before she sat down.

"Only fair," he chuckled a little grimly, taking his own seat and starting up the targeting programs. "After all, I'm the one who dragged you into this."

"I seem to remember it starting by you getting me out of getting killed," she cracked a grin a him with a warning he wasn't going to be allowed to take blame for things he wasn't to blame for. "From there it's been my choice."

"You also wanted to just carve the Hutt up before we tried talking," he chuckled. "Oh well. You get us in there, we'll find out if Hutts float."

"Agreed," she nodded as the main engines powered up. "We do have a problem for later." She said quietly as they darted forward at just above, and occasionally below, tree level. "The environmental shield generator is malfunctioning. Sabotaged more likely. We're good for atmosphere, but we aren't going home."

"Just dandy," he muttered. "And we can't even go to a more civilized planet for repairs with that out. Maybe we'll be able to take something from the wreckage for repairs." He checked the hyperspace transceiver while they approached the spaceport, praying they'd at least be able to send a distress call once this was over with. He breathed a sigh of relief and thanked the Force when it seemed to be good.

"We're going to have to." She said simply.

"Most likely," he nodded. "That or get a distress call to the Xagoban government; our transceivers are working, they just seem to have wanted us on-planet until they were sure we were dead. At least they won't have to go through hyperspace, should be able to get help in a couple days at worst...."

"Assuming we aren't shot down," she added with a grim chuckle as the spaceport's metallic form rose out of the swamp in a glaring spot of civilization on an otherwise uncivilized world.

"That happens and we don't have to worry about getting off the planet," Doruth pointed out grimly. "You have the stress points uploaded to the computer, right?"

"Yes," she nodded as they dropped even lower, intent on slipping under the platform and blasting it out of existence before they were spotted.

"Loading to targeting overlay," he murmured, gripping the controls for the guns. Each set of shots came just a split-second after Tes heard the controls click to manual, the computer doing most of the targeting work, but Doruth's own intuition working to find the weakest of the weak points. By the time they pulled away, the spaceport's alarms were already screaming, even as the port itself started to fall apart.

"Get us clear, I'll cover any pursuers," Doruth said simply, keying the computer to send a coded distress call to the capitol of the system.

She didn't even reply, simply swung them up above the treetops and pushed the engines to full power, sending them darting away almost faster than the eye could follow to find a secluded spot to set down until a rescue ship came in a few days.

A Heritage of Power 3: Jay's Story 2: A Padawan To Be

PG-13 for Violence
Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

48 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written January 14, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Kat, Kushiban, Panther, Rodian, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Relationship (Established), Violence

Pairings: Doruth Parn (M Panther)/Tes Ramaris (F Wolf)

Blurb: Interlude. Two years at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant has taught Jay and Tes many things; he wants to be a Jedi, she's picked up enough skills to actually go out on missions with her mate now that Knight Parn is back on the active roster.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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