The First Jedi 1:
Mating Rites

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

Master B'lyn breathed deeply of the Force-rich air of her life-long post at the Jedi's Valley Outpost on Evidran 3. After almost a century she was intimately familiar with the ebb and flow of the Force here, and today the eddies were clear.

The Ka-Karur breeding time was at hand.

Ever since their numbers had recovered to a level they were comfortable with some two decades ago, this time every five years had been one of the most interesting. They'd returned to the system of having to jockey for rank, only the highest-ranking members of the flocks having the right to a place in the hatching grounds. One to three of the females in each flock laying a clutch of eggs that would hatch into a hand of soft-feathered babies for each female that the entire flock raised.

Holstering her lightsaber, more for the sake of appearance than anything else, she stood from her meditation and prepared to go out to meet the others. It was expected of her, after a fashion, even though she never participated for several obvious reasons. It was a place of honor that she held in every mating and hatching time that never failed to warm her heart a little.

A four and a half year old Ka-Karur, fully grown but not yet sexually mature, greeted her at the mediation room door with an excited chirp.

"Dances-the-Sun asks for your presence, Master B'lyn." He told her politely. "The mating challenges are ready to begin."

"Lead the way then," the Twi'lek smiled at Brings-Jedi. "It wouldn't do to be late."

The youngster clicked his tongue in amusement and happily turned on his heel and headed down the hall, his youthful long legged stride kept in check out of respect for the elder Jedi he was with and the familiarity of two years of piloting B'lyn to various events she was expected to attend.

"Watches-the-Stars is curious if there is any more news from Speaker-to-the-Senate." He warned her.

"There isn't anything new, but I'll let her know myself," B'lyn chuckled. "I'm used to the routine by now."

"I think she wants to check it out herself." Brings-Jedi snickered and opened the speeder door for her. "She is one of the curious types."

"Believe me, I understand," B'lyn smiled and slipped into the passenger seat with a grace that belied her full century of life. "Besides, she's just worried about your grandfather. He hasn't been back since Speaks-with-Jedi retired."

"I know." He said softly and went silent as he walked to the far side of the speeder and the modified driver's seat. "It is strange to have him gone so long."

"Well, I can't say for sure, but I suspect he'll be paying us a visit in a few months," B'lyn smiled as the speeder lifted off. "The Senate should be on recess for a while soon."

"That would be fun." He clicked with a nod and watched with endless fascination as the world spread out below them during the short trip to the largest hatching ground in the Jedi Gorge flock's territory, the one that had once belonged to the Creeping Wind. "He would like seeing all the hatchlings."

"The thing he asks about most is how they're doing," B'lyn nodded. "How does the turnout look this year? I'm afraid I've been too busy to keep track of which flocks are visiting lately."

"Great Salt Lake left a few days ago," he began with the most recent. "Two of their youngsters are staying and Walks-on-Fire and Creeps-in-Water went with them." He glanced at the wrinkled purple skin of the most respected member of his society. "So you think there will be one this time?" He asked softly.

"There may be," B'lyn said, considering the last few hatches. "There haven't been any sensitives among your people strong enough to be considered for training yet, but the last generation had some that were close. Ultimately, it's up to the will of the Force, and to whether or not any sensitives get the chance to have hatchlings of their own this time."

"Sky-Dancer probably will." He commented with a grin at her. "She is old enough, and she is determined."

"That she is," B'lyn chuckled, thinking about the strong Ka-Karur. Even after all these decades among them, she still slipped and called them Night Raptors. It had been three years before Kills-the-Sun had finally brought it up, with great politeness, that they really preferred to be called Ka-Karur, and not the translation.

B'lyn's mind drifted back to Sky-Dancer. The fourteen-year-old was probably the strongest sensitive they'd had so far, enough so that after a few years to see her development, B'lyn had half-wondered if she might not have underestimated her. Assuming that Sky-Dancer and other sensitives near her strength maintained their independence from the Jedi as they quite happily had so far, the Ka-Karur would likely have a tradition of their own in a few generations. Much knowledge had flowed from the Jedi about the Force and things one may be able to do with it, and it had led to quite a revelation in how the Ka-Karur viewed the division of their gifted members, but had little practical effect on the society.

It was interesting too, when she'd finally realized that the easiest way to find the weak sensitives was to find out who was known for their memory, and with that, their status as those with special skills. It was yet another indication that they would likely develop a tradition of their own in time.

She might even live long enough to see it begin in earnest, rather than just a few questions that would stew in their minds until they bore fruit.

It would be interesting to watch happen, if she had the chance. Still, she wanted to be sure to keep at arm's length of anything like that. It was hard enough as it was, to remain somewhat detached and objective. Her main saving grace was their culture, one that embraced her presence while still doing things their own way, in their own time, and making it work.

It was largely testament to that basic culture that they could be exposed to so many things and not lose themselves. In the half-century after her first arrival they had faced enough to crush most races, and yet here, less than a century later, despite the constant Jedi presence that they experienced and accepted, their lives had returned to what they were before.

Even their numbers were back to what they had been and were growing in the previous pattern that the world could sustain for a hundred millennia or more.

She smiled at the riot of color visible as they settled for a landing. It was very strange, those first few times she'd witnessed their mating time. For a ten-day the glistening black of their feathers was transformed into a rainbow of gemstone colors, both genders intent on outdoing their competitors in appearance even before the challenges began. It was the only time she'd ever seen them prance and try to attract the attention of the opposite gender. It was the only time that they did not try to blend in with the jungle around them.

The displays were fascinating, as was the variety they used in how they dyed and colored their obsidian feathers to bring out natural shapes and even carvings they made in the hard forms. She'd been shocked the first time, wondering what had happened and how. The Ka-Karur had learned how to find all manner of dyes on their world that would work on the crystalline material their feathers were made of, and if you hung around long enough, you could frequently tell where a given Raptor had spent the majority of their formative years from simply by the colors and patterns that were most prominent in their mating display.

"Welcome, Jedi Master B'lyn." Dances-the-Sun approached her and bowed deeply, resplendent in a stunningly simple gold display that had earned her the name and her first turn at the hatching grounds three decades before. "I am honored a Kadin-Ra will witness our next generation becoming."

["I wouldn't dream of missing it, Dances-the-Sun,"] B'lyn smiled, bowing politely. ["You're looking well."]

["Thank you."] The sleek, glittering gold female crooned with a distinct bit of pride. Even now, the perfect golden glitter was something only she had managed to create. ["Come, relax and watch who wins the right to breed this cycle."]

"I'll do that," B'lyn nodded and followed Brings-Jedi to the collection of four-year-olds, young adults, researchers, Jedi and female Ka-Karur who weren't interested in breeding this cycle, or had simply decided to spare themselves the humiliation of competing against their betters this time.

"You look very well, B'lyn." A somewhat younger woman of Trandoshan descent smiled before her attention was back on the subject of her visit; the Ka-Karur mating rituals and sexual culture.

"Thank you, Senaali," B'lyn nodded to the green-scaled saurian researcher before joining her in her focus on the highly organized and strongly ritualized trials that Dances-the-Sun was about to begin. It never ceased to amaze her how a society that was so relaxed about most things suddenly became very tightly controlled when combat within the flock became eminent.

["Three will lay eggs this cycle."] The flock leader set the odds as all attention focused on her glittering golden form. ["Jedi Master B'lyn," she turned to focus on their most honored guest. ["As Kadin-Ra, you have first rights to a place."]

B'lyn stood and bowed to the leader with a fluid grace. ["I am honored, flock of the Jedi Gorge. I give that place to those younger than I this cycle."] She spoke the words she had at every such gathering since she had turned fifty and the first wrinkles had appeared on her face.

"What was that about?" Senaali whispered when B'lyn sat back down.

"A Kadin-Ra is a White One, an ancient Night Raptor whose feathers have turned white. They are incredibly rare and have a right to breed at any hatching ground they are at without challenge. For me, it's just a technicality as an honorary Ka-Karur. She offers, I say no thank you and they move on. If a real Kadin-Ra was here, they could accept or refuse depending on their wishes."

"For both genders?" The long-faced saurian asked curiously. "I thought the females chose the males they'd breed with."

"They do, but not many would not want a Kadin-Ra as a sire." The purple Twi'lek smiled fondly as a round of strutting and pronouncement of notable ancestors and personal accomplishments among the females began. "When they compete, a white pelt is the only thing forbidden to mimic; the color is an honor that is difficult to overemphasize and allowed only by earning it in years survived."

Senaali considered that, her forked tongue snaking out to taste the air instinctively as she worked that bit of information into the rest she had gathered in the past year.

"Why is it they only do this once every five years, Master?" A young Jedi, a steel gray Twi'lek approaching the age where she'd find a Master of her own, asked.

"The same reason only a few breed each time. It is a population control method." B'lyn answered smoothly, used to this little one's questions. "As they proved in the years after the invasion, they are capable of tripling or more their population each time they breed. Once a viable population is reached, that is not conducive for survival to continue to reproduce as quickly as possible."

"Oh," the Twi'lek said, understanding far better than her response indicated. She watched along with the others, no other questions coming just yet.

B'lyn paid close attention to the intense, twist and jab centered aerial display that Sky-Dancer was putting on as her first skill-based trial to break into the select few who would breed this time. There was no doubt that the young Ka-Karur was drawing on the Force with a centered, goal-focused concentration that was impressive for her age, no matter her training.

It was almost unthinkable that anybody else would outperform her, at least not enough to keep her out of the breeding grounds. She wasn't quite good enough to make Jedi, but it would be fascinating to see if she took on an apprentice of her own from among the less sensitive Ka-Karur. It would fit in with their existing traditions in healing, deep-sea fishing, leadership, history-keepers ... every skill they considered worth passing on.

"Incredible." A small feline of indeterminate breeding murmured, his large grey eyes wide at the display that would have been impressive anywhere.

"The Force, even in the hands of those not trained in its use, is very powerful," B'lyn observed with a nod, watching as her younger friend showed just how she had earned her name, bounding with unnatural grace from one branch to another in lazy, slow, beautiful arcs of color and motion interspersed with blindingly fast moves than could be mistaken for teleportation if you weren't watching her carefully.

"No one trained her at all?" The kitten looked a bit surprised. "Isn't that dangerous, Master B'lyn?"

"We watched, to make sure she didn't stray to the Dark Side, but it is not our place to keep a people from finding their own way to the Force, kitten," she explained. "Though we will make sure that, should a hatchling have the strength to become Jedi, that he or she has the chance to do so."

"Did she ever start that way?" He asked in an awed whisper that someone could learn to do the acrobatics on display without any help.

"No," she shook his head lightly, her wrinkled lekku adding a silent negative. "The Ka-Karur are not inclined to it, and their sensitives are no exception."

Everything froze at the heavy thump as Sky-Dancer dropped her use of the Force to land with the full impact of her weight and momentum and she stood to her full height to demand a review from her leader.

["Most impressive, Sky-Dancer."] Dances-the-Sun accepted the display with a neutral posture that didn't hide just how impressed she really was and just how uneasy most of the females now were of this competitor that wouldn't normally be given a second glance for another decade. ["You are accepted into the competition."]

"Most impressive, for one of her youth," B'lyn observed quietly as the next competitor began with a simple rendition of her legacy as a healer that within the competition was just as impressive as anything a sensitive could do. She wondered if Sky-Dancer's skills would be as useful in the next rounds, when it was more than just a display, though it was likely to be. They did not often have time to develop non-useful skills, and display was not really considered useful despite its presence here.

"How can that win against her?" The kitten piped up again.

"They are displaying their skills, why they should be allowed a chance to breed," B'lyn explained. "A Healer's skills are just as valued as Sky-Dancer's, especially after they lost most of them."

"But a sensitive might pass on the talent. A healer is just training, Master." The kitten countered politely, exercising his new knowledge of biology in debate for the first time.

"Healers are more than just training." A fourteen-year-old Ka-Karur answered from the kittens other side. "It requires a talent for the training to be of any use, the same as Jedi training."

"He's right, you know," B'lyn pointed out with a smile. "Could you be one of their Healers, even with the training? I don't think so, little one," she said, reaching down to ruffle his short, blond and brown striped hair lightly. "Are you not involved in the competition this gathering, Limb-Leaper?"

"With this competition?" He clicked in a bit of humor. "I'll save the humiliation for another year, or head to another flock. There are too many gifted ones around here for a simple hunter to have a chance."

"Well, good luck to you, however you decide to handle it," B'lyn smiled. "And remember, you might be a simple hunter, but without you the flocks would have quite a bit of trouble."

"They don't let us forget it," he nodded seriously. "But when it comes to breeding, we still the lowest ranking adults around."

"You'll find a place some time," B'lyn reassured him as she watched the third contestant, another mild sensitive trained as a Rememberer, wrap up her presentation. "I'm sure of it."

"Oh, yes." He nodded, and then snapped his attention to a very senior hunter that was willing to try her luck when her younger compatriots weren't. "I never thought she'd actually do it."

"Let's see how she does then," B'lyn murmured. "Dark-Crystal-Runner has always been quite determined. That may be enough to tip the scales her way."

"Sky-Dancer will no doubt gain a place." Kystal-Catcher, a female B'lyn remembered breeding last cycle added. "She's far too strong in the Force not too given she's already stated her choice in Shadow-Walker. The first Jedi is too great a prize not to allow such a pair to breed now that she is old enough to."

"It is not guaranteed, even if they do," B'lyn cautioned the huntress. "Though I would be surprised if their children were not at least as strong as they are, it's true." Normally, she would have questioned the suggestion that the Ka-Karur were making decision based on whether or not a Jedi hatchling might result, but Sky-Dancer stood enough of a chance on her own that she wasn't worried about it.

"Nothing is guaranteed," Kystal-Catcher nodded seriously. "But even you have agreed that such gifts often follow bloodlines, just as our other talents do. It is why such things are considered here, and not just intelligence and hunting skill."

"Very true," B'lyn nodded. "There are those who might not take it well if they didn't have a hatchling that was strong enough, but it can take a long time. I won't be surprised if they do have one though."

"If not, they are still very good providers and will lay fine additions to the flock." She clicked and fell silent as Dark-Crystal-Runner wrapped up her presentation with a pointed reminder that hunters were who kept the flock going.

["All have been heard and seen."] Dances-the-Sun called out, looking at each female who had chosen not to compete. ["Do any others wish to joint the competition?"]

Long moments passed as the leader made very sure that no one had or would change their minds.

["It is set."] She called out. ["Five females will compete; Sky-Dancer, Dark-Crystal-Runner, Young-Remembers-the-Past, Peace-Maker and Dances-the-Sun. Have your chosen your mates?"] She turned to the females competing for breeding rights.

["I have. Shadow-Walker."] Sky-Dancer nodded towards the small, long-legged, long-feathered male her own age that was decked out as brilliantly as any, though with an emphasis on the richer, darker gemstone shades that matched his natural Force-talent.

B'lyn looked at Shadow-Walker, nodding slightly in approval. Even if he hadn't been a sensitive, he'd have been a good match. Being one, he was an incredibly good match. If something happened to keep her from breeding this cycle, it would be a shock, but likely only make her more determined the next time around. A time when her age would be closer to the usual time someone got to breed.

She had to admit, she admired these people for the fairness that this was done with. Those that bred one cycle rarely even tried to the next, not even the leaders. Mates were not always who they chose to breed with, if there was a good reason to choose another. If one lived long enough, even the lowest-ranking hunter would be given the chance to contribute to the genetic pool, and it had been this way even before the invasion and numbers made it critical to do so.

["I have chosen to be impressed by those competing."] Dark-Crystal-Runner answered next, a statement that was repeated by the other three.

["So it will be."] Dances-the-Sun accepted the choices. ["Who among the males seeks to impress us?"]

A number of voices spoke up with varying degrees of certainty. One of them in particular managed to get the others to quiet down enough he could be heard clearly.

["Shapes-Wood-and-Stone wishes to join the competition,"] a male in his early teens said. He was painted brightly, wearing several crystal ornaments he'd crafted recently in addition to incredibly intricate work on his own body.

["Accepted."] Dances-the-Sun nodded to him and the youth stepped forward.

["Shadow-Walker will compete."] He called out in the momentary silence that followed, his bearing much more certain than most his age would dare.

["Accepted."] The leader nodded to him.

["Speaks-with-Animals."] A much older male stepped forward, his name reflected in the stylized designs embossed on his feathers, and was accepted into the circle of competitors.

["Runs-with-the-Wind,"] another said, his feathers painted a dozen shades of bright blue. He was among the youngest males to step in so far; B'lyn didn't really think he'd last that long, though he had to have spirit to even try.

["March-of-Dreams."] A deep male voice rumbled as an elder stepped forward, his feathers tipped in white from age and his Force-aura strong, demanded acknowledgement and received it.

["Mist-Walker-of-the-Forest."] Another, somewhat younger but still seasoned male claimed his place.

["Tames-Shuropia,"] another male announced, one of the few who had actually started to try and domesticate the local animals, to cut down on how much hunting they really needed to do. After the last ten years or so of trying, he was having remarkably good luck at doing just that.

["Dreams-of-the-Future."] A twenty-four year old male spoke confidently, his talent for precognition making many wonder if he knew something they didn't.

["Any others?"] Dances-the-Sun looked around when no one took the opportunity to step forward. ["Good. Eight males will compete for three females and the opportunity to sire the next generation. Now we will determine who the three are."]

The males gathered, stepping back slightly as they grouped together to watch the next stage of the competition, the five females who would be involved all standing confidently as they waited for the signal to start.

["Sky-Dancer, against Dances-the-Sun."] The leader called out and stepped forward into the circle for the combat portion of the challenges.

The other Ka-Karur stepped into the circle as well, posturing and posing as they circled each other. This was as much a dance as a fight, choreography as much as combat. Actually causing a serious injury to the other would be as bad as losing the fight; the goal was to prove your superiority, not that you were simply a better killer. It was a test of endurance, agility, self-awareness and perception -- picking out what the other was going to do and countering it.

When your entire body was a potentially lethal weapon, it took far more skill to not hurt your opponent badly than it did to kill them.

She heard the kitten just behind her gasp at the fast, furious exchange of blows and blocks. It was no doubt the first time he'd seen two Ka-Karur fight. For herself, B'lyn couldn't help but think of watching two skilled Jedi duel.

She could practically tap out the rhythm of traded blows by now, familiar with the Ka-Karur fighting style after decades of living with and near them. She couldn't help but smile slightly as she picked up a slight difference from Sky-Dancer, a shift in the normal movements and blows that was uniquely hers for now. Something her opponent wasn't quite as familiar with, or with how to counter, as the usual methods that were used.

Everything went still between one breath and the next, shock rippling among the gathered Ka-Karur, when Dances-the-Sun grunted and lay still in surrender when she landed from a grab and flip she hadn't even seen coming. Even she seemed surprised to find herself on the ground.

["You have this round, Sky-Dancer."] Dances-the-Sun spoke the traditional end of the contest.

There was a ripple of celebration through parts of the gathering, Ka-Karur who were glad for Sky-Dancer's victory, and others who had enjoyed the spectacular, if somewhat brief, contest. Dances-the-Sun quickly righted herself, bowing her head respectfully to the victor before moving off with a slight limp to officiate the rest of the contests.

The rest of the matches were fought in a round-robin style; Dances-the-Sun had withdrawn, but the others all faced off against each other with a level of organization that would have surprised anybody who thought of the Ka-Karur as uncivilized. By the time they were done, Sky-Dancer had clearly earned her place, along with Peace-Maker and the real surprise, Dark-Crystal-Runner. Each match had been spectacular, and none of the females had made a poor showing, even in matches they might have lost.

The males began next; their contests were little different, but did not lead to any true disqualifications. Their intent was to impress those doing the choosing, and the winners stood a better chance, but in the end, it wasn't about their ranking. The three females with a place on the hatching ground chose based on their own criteria.

There was some combat, but it was more like a combination of the entire contest the females had gone through. Speeches of their qualifications, demonstrations of their skills and abilities, some brief sparring to display their prowess. In the end, while all eight of the males were still in the running, it was fairly clear that three had done better than the others; Dreams-of-the-Future, Speaks-with-Animals, and Runs-with-the-Wind. Shadow-Walker had done well, but not as well as they had.

["I choose Shadow-Walker."] Sky-Dancer called out. With the focus of her breeding known to be for Force-sensitivity, no one could blame her. He may not have done as well overall, but he was unquestionably the strongest male sensitive there.

Dark-Crystal-Runner, second in the ranking among the females, took her time in choosing, looking the options up and down. Unlike the other two, this was not her first breeding, and her age had seen a great many things in four different flocks.

["I choose Dreams-of-the-Future and Mist-Walker-of-the-Forest."] She eventually called out to the surprise of several bystanders.

["I choose Speaks-with-Animals,"] Peace-Maker said after considering those who hadn't been chosen yet.

["Very well."] Dances-the-Sun nodded in acceptance of the choices, watching as the chosen males went to their females and began the long, careful process of grooming each other into blackness and become familiar with each other before the tricky, and occasionally painful, process of siring the next generation.

The First Jedi 1: Mating Rites

PG-13

28 KB, Story is Complete, Series is in Progress
Written October 15, 2005 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Ka-Karur (Night Raptor), Twi'lek

Contents: Furry. Gen.

Pairings: None

Notes: Set in the A Heritage of Power universe. Not really a sequel to Raptors of Evidran, but it does come after 90 years after Raptors of Evidran ends.

Blurb: Generations of Night Raptors, the Ka-Karur, have come and gone while B'lyn has been in residence at the Valley Outpost on Evidran 3. Now into old age, she is seeing the beginnings of an independent tradition in the handful of the stronger sensitives they have produced, and hatchlings nearly strong enough for the Jedi.

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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