[M21 - Danoor - FF] New Jedi Order | Chapter 1.1 - Escape into Darkness

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Stories of the New Jedi Order



Build by @The British Brixter


Crash-landing at the edge of the galaxy! The Jedi arrival on ATOR HOLLOS is rougher than expected, attracting unwanted attention from a gang of scavengers calling themselves the Immortals. Master Kyle Katarn is captured, but gives the other Jedi their chance to escape . . .




(Scene above already judged in previous post.)
Previously . . .

While their comrades dragged Kyle Katarn away, the rest of the raiders charged the crashed Jedi ship. They were too late: Kyle's last action, that final push with the Force, put the Jedi and initiates beyond their reach. The crashed ship went sliding off the cliff, and thanks to a precision use of the Force, its single remaining engine ignited in a bloom of light. The ship lurched into open air, and the engine carried them away like a bird with a broken wing.
Blaster fire scattered against the hull. The passengers held on for dear life, watching through the hole as the cliff, the raiders, and Master Katarn grew smaller and smaller, and were finally swallowed by the fog.

The single engine could not keep the ship on a straight path for long. Soon it dipped under the weight of the freighter, its power waning, its thrust struggling. It became weaker and weaker, taking them lower and lower, getting closer and closer to the tops of the tall trees of the forest below. Then they felt the bottom of the freighter sweep against the tops of those trees. They sunk lower; the ship smashed against them, its mass of durasteel knocking them aside. For a few brutal seconds it was like they were in the storm again, buffeted by the violence outside. At any moment they might be ripped apart and crushed.
Finally the ship scraped against the ground, flying up on its nose as it met resistance. The freighter plowed across the forest floor, tearing a trench through the trees until finally, slowly, pathetically, it slid to a halt.

There was silence. The students and adults were battered, bruised, unkempt. They looked at each other in shock.

A bird cawed somewhere in the distance.

One of the lucky initiates who had never left his restraints was the first to come to his senses. He undid his harness and hurried, dizzily, to the opening, where he ooked out carefully to see only trees and fog. The light was fading. Night would come soon.

"I . . . I think we're okay!" he called back to the others.

Aemos, shaken but sturdy, scowled and rose to his feet.
"That is what we hoped last time we crashed," he growled.
He moved the student aside and stepped out onto solid ground. With sharp eyes, he surveyed the area.
One-by-one, the others followed suit. Noko held her staff, Asa leaned against the side of the ship, blaster in hand. Jun held his saber ready, unlit, lest he give them away.
Ma-Riki pointed around with a slingshot, one eye squeezed shut. She cocked her head, her right ear twitching as she listened intently.

"Nothin'," she declared, with a nod. She stowed her slingshot in her satchel. The initiates slowly clambered out of the wreck, one-by-one. Gradually, everyone was able to relax.
Enjoying the moment of peace, the Lannik shaman breathed in the air of the forest. She let out a satisfied sigh.

"Good to be back in the woods, eh! Not in space anymore. Space is weird-weird. The woods, on the other hand: weird in a way Ma-Riki likes. Mist-dripped and sodden. Earthy, moldy, alive."

Asa raised an eyebrow at her. "I don't get you, woman."

"Nor shall you ever!" she replied, cackling to herself.

Aemos turned seriously to the others, his tone authoritative. "Now is not the time to rest. We must find the Monastery quickly. We are at risk in the open. Our crash site will be easily tracked by any who wish us harm."

"This forest could go on for hcotes and hcotes," Noko sighed. "We should find shelter somewhere close, first. It could take days of walking to find the Monastery. Did anyone happen to see it during our descent?"

"I was too worried about seeing myself inside out," groaned Jun. He winced at Asa, baring a doggish grin. "Hey, Ace: stand-up job back there. Can't believe we're not dead."

Asa's breathing was labored, and his forehead was slick with sweat. Nonetheless, he smiled back at the ragged duelist. "I aim to please."

"Did I not tell you he would get us here safely?" Noko asked, looking pleased to have her confidence in her husband proven right. It quickly faded as she turned her attention to their less than stellar situation. ". . . Well, alive. Is anyone injured? Is anything broken?"

They set about creating a makeshift shelter. Ma-Riki sniffed out a concealed hollow ten minutes away from the crash site where they moved the injured to lay down to rest. They split into two groups--those staying at the hollow—Jun and Ma-Riki—and those going back to salvage the mangled ship—led by Aemos and Noko.

Jun stayed at the Hollow to stand guard with Ma-Riki.

"Let me treat the injured!" She offered. "They'll be spic-span as quick as can be. My elixirs work!"

Aemos turned his imposing glare on the diminutive woman. She didn't back down even one iota.

"You're not to touch any student until we return, witch. Swear it!"

Noko stepped between them, something she felt she was bound to do a lot in the near future.

"Aemos," she warned. She turned to the short, frowning woman. "For the time being, please wait for one of us to return with supplies, Ma-Riki."

Ma-Riki crossed her arms. She did not appreciate the snub.

Noko pulled Jun and Aemos outside the Hollow for a private conversation about the issue.

"Luke sent her with us for a reason. She might be able to help. I believe she deserves our trust."

Aemos would not be swayed. "While Master Skywalker has my utmost respect, enough variables have been introduced to this ruinous situation. She will not touch a Jedi or a student," the Hybolon insisted. "We will minister to the injured with the medical supplies from the ship. We shall prioritize their retrieval."

Aemos kept watch, the tall Hybolon stalking the edges of the clearing created during their crash. His brow was furrowed, his posture tense.

Night was descending fast. They could waste no time. He sensed shadows darting between the trees. The mist swirled around them, as though watching. His gnarled face wrinkled, his brow furrowed as he stared out into the darkness.

From behind him, the sound of a voice. A presence he only now sensed. Moving quickly, he unsheathed his sword.

"Greetings, greetings!" called an unfamiliar voice, echoing in the dark forest.

The initiates and Noko dropped what they were holding to unsheath their own weapons. As one, they turned from the ship wreck toward the mysterious new arrival.

The stranger raised his hands in peace, confronted with so many weapons. "Oh," he said. "I mean no harm, I mean no harm."


From what could be seen in the moonlight, the man was elderly, dark-skinned, his face surrounded by an enormous mane of bushy salt-and-pepper hair. He wore robes that covered most of his body, and gripped a walking stick in his left hand. It was capped with an ornamental carving. Pearl, or Ivory.

Aemos stared at him, confused as to why he had not sensed him sooner. He pointed with the tip of his sword.

"Begone," he rumbled. "Or you will regret coming here."

Noko jogged up beside him, a gentle hand touching the side of his outstretched weapon. "Aemos, please," she said quietly. "We're outsiders; hostility will be met with hostility. You know this."

Aemos steeled his nerves and backed down. Noko took his place.

"Greetings," she called. "We've had . . . bad luck with strangers today. Who are you?"

The old man chuckled under his beard. "An old hermit, an old hermit. These woods are my home. You've knocked down many of my . . . of my trees!"

Noko looked back at the path of destruction the crashing ship had created, and bowed to the man. "You speak true. Our circumstances were desperate. I am sorry; I take no pleasure in causing this planet harm. We would like to help restore what our vessel destroyed, if help can be given."

"Jedi Imani," Aemos muttered beside her. "We have limited time."

But the hermit waved away the concern. "No, no . . . the planet will take care of itself. It will take care of itself. This is not some fragile little garden, stranger. It is the mighty woods of Ator Hollos! The forest has a heart of its own. Many things live here. Prideful things, wicked things. Wicked things. Things that do not take insult so easily."

With sharp eyes, he looked over the wreckage, the tired and bloodied students, the two weary teachers in front of him. He bowed his head, clasping both long-fingered hands over the head of his stave.

"But I feel your words are honest. You bear no malice. You are not evil. Just running from something, yes? It's not your fault you didn't look where you were going. Look where you were going. Difficult to do when on the run."

"This is not the introduction we would have preferred," Noko admitted. "We hope to do good here. I hope that we bring far more to Ator Hollos than we have taken in our hurry to preserve our lives."

"Not all things can be preserved," said the old man, eyes sparking keenly under bushy brows. "Trying to preserve can bring upon worse things than simply letting go.
Many apologies, many apologies, I'm being rude. For my part, I am called Oku; a simple hermit of the woods. Of the woods. And who are you, strangers? We do not often get visitors to Ator Hollos."

Noko looked aside to Aemos. Her fellow teacher narrowed his eyes.

The old hermit waited patiently for them to decide what to say.

Finally, Noko decided there was little point in concealing the truth. It would come out eventually. It was important that they create a reputation for honesty and trustworthiness. Trust begat trust.

"We are members of the Jedi Order. I am Nokori Imani, this is Aemos Suurm-Xachus. These others are initiates of our Order."

The man acted as though she'd said nothing besides her name. The word 'Jedi' apparently meant nothing to him, though his ignorance might have been feigned.

"Finely met! I know not of your order, but hermits know little outside their realms. Welcome to Ator Hollos, Jedi Order." He looked at them closely in the half-dusk. "Tell me . . . is your order a peaceful order? Ator Hollos has conflict enough, I am sorry to say. Conflict enough."

"We are defenders of peace," Aemos said, his voice reverberating through the clearing. "We are allies of the Force. It runs deep within this planet."

Oku shrugged. "Does it, indeed? I've seen no Force here, but perhaps it is one of those invisible things? An invisible thing."

"It . . ." Aemos paused, apparently thrown off. ". . . Tends to be."

"Ah, well!" the old man clicked his tongue. "I have my own share of things for which others call me mad! I did not come to meet you to judge what forces you choose to worship. You choose to worship."

"We are looking for a Monastery on the mountain called the Grandmother. Do you know of it?"

"I do," Oku nodded, regret pulling at his face. "I am sorry to say you are quite far away from your monastery. It is a day's walk in that direction," he said, pointing south with his stave. "You best wait out the night before starting. Perhaps you will join me at my home. At my home."

Noko glanced back at the watching initiates. Some mistrusting, some hopeful, some afraid.

She bowed her head to the hermit. A kind offer, but not one worth risking at the moment. "I believe we are too many to fit into your home, and it is best we continue our work here. But we are most grateful for your offer."

"Ah, the more the better, I feel. But do as you will! I will bother you no longer. No longer. Farewell, Jedi Order! Peace watch you."

"May the Force be with you," Noko replied, bowing again.

The hermit called Oku tilted his head at this, and smiled beneath his beard. He turned and hobbled off into the dark shadows of the trees, gathering his robes around him. The Jedi and initiates watched him until he disappeared into the mist.

Noko sensed distress in the others.

"Do not fear, students," she said, still watching the spot where the hermit had vanished. Her cloak hung over her shoulder, her staff loosely in hand. Her words were firm, but her expression was unsure.

Aemos' face darkened. He would leave nothing to chance. "It is time to leave," he muttered.


The grim Jedi turned to the initiates. "Students, gather what can be carried. We move quickly."

They turned ten minutes into five. Aemos and Noko had to corral the students as some fell along the way, or risked getting lost in the fog. Aemos growled to keep them quiet, as they shouted to one another or cried from stress. Both Jedi teachers' heads were on swivels, eyes out for any other danger.
They sensed it at the same time. As did a few of the students.

A flash of blue in the fog ahead, illuminating the movement of beasts.

Jun was shouting and waving them off with his lightsaber while Asa fired his blaster. Ma-Riki helpfully flung rocks from her slingshot. A pack of creatures were assaulting the camp in the hollow. 

Noko and Aemos unsheathed their weapons. Noko's lightsaber snap-hissed as it erupted from the blade, throwing brilliant green around her. 
The light illuminated more beasts just to their left, galloping to reinforce their pack.

The things, seeing the light, turned to the two Jedi and their gaggle of students, encircling them, snarling and snapping teeth. As large as bears, they were insectoid-mammalian-difficult-to-understand horrors. They dripped with the dark side. The Jedi could feel it in their bones.

One howled--a withered sound that forced unnatural dread into the hearts of any who heard it. An initiate screamed, and the sudden sound provoked one of the things to lurch towards her.
Rushing between them came Aemos, throwing the student to the dirt and raising his blade to fend off the threat.

It stepped back and sized up this new meal, then snapped forward, its head unraveling on a longer-than expected neck. Tentacles on its snout flicked against Aemos' face. He felt stingers leave welts against the skin under his eye. The Hybolon roared and pushed with the Force, sending the creature head-over-tail, tumbling back into the darkness.

One of the initiates deployed his own force attack, warding off a flanking attack from a lone creature to their rear.\

The light from Noko's blade appeared to irritate the creatures. Jun's blade had driven several in retreat, where they were caught between him and Noko. Sensing their greater numbers, they shook off their wounds and launched towards the smaller human with savage purpose.
Noko's face betrayed no emotion, even as three of the things leapt towards her. Asa shouted from the hollow, but she was fully calm.

Which made her sudden flurry of attacks more jarring.

Obscured by the dark and the fog, the students couldn't see her form clearly. Noko blurred into a vicious leaping dance of sweeping strikes, both with her lightsaber blade and the haft of her staff. Many of her attacks seemed ineffective until one realized their purpose wasn't to land, but to maneuver; herding each creature into a disadvantageous position for a final blow three moves later. Finally, she brought her saber down in a firm, deliberate cut, loping off the head of the last of the four.

Jun dispatched his final opponent as well, heaving with breath and bringing his weapon back into a defensive posture. Two more more lay smoking at his feet.

The rest of the pack snarled and spat, and turned and returned to the darkness, their howling echoing into the sky.

Noko deactivated her lightsaber and checked on the initiates, hurrying everyone into the Hollow.

"Good work, Jedi Jin-Wa," she told Jun with a smile.

Aemos merely rumbled.

Jun deactivated his lightsaber and wiped his forehead with his sleeve.
"It's what I do," he shrugged.

Noko turned back to look into the darkness. "Those things, did you feel them in the Force?"

The other two obviously knew what she meant.

"Dark as tar," Jun nodded, his expression sober.

"Some twistedness begat their corruption," Aemos mused. "They were unnatural."

Once they'd all gathered in camp, a few students volunteered to stand watch with Asa's blaster so the teachers could explain their encounter at the crash site with Oku to the others.

Ma-Riki was more disappointed than anything. "I can't believe me missed it! Always a joy to meet new people, friend OR foe. Crazy people in forests are unfairly viewed as suspicious. Though . . ." she rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Maybe it is fair, after all. I just remembered a few crazy people I've met in forests who could certainly not be trusted."

Jun folded his arms inside the sleeves of his robes. "You're not thinking of yourself, are you?"

She looked at him like he was odd for changing the subject. "Not right now, which is unusual. Why do you ask?"

Aemos shook his head. He had little patience for the two of them at this moment. He was strained enough with keeping conscious of the initiates, most of whom blundered and shouted and whimpered far too much for his preference. He rubbed at his eyes. His hand, he noticed, trembled.

"I think it wise that we travel south at first light. We will die if we stay out here any longer."

"You sure about that?" Jun frowned. "I've got to tell you, not sure this lot are ready for the trek. Bit risky if we don't have an exact location."

Noko stood against the wall of the hollow, beneath a tangle of roots. She flexed her mechanical hand, testing its servos. "Separating from one another poses risks of its own. Our strength is in our numbers."

"The girl is right!" Ma-Riki agreed. Any time she lowered her voice, it turned to gravel. "Strength in numbers, that is the way of the wild."

"This whole endeavor is doomed before it has begun," spat Aemos. "The loss of initiates is becoming an inevitability, whatever we do. We must accept that now."

Noko stared at him. "I disagree. Are we not equipped to protect less than twenty people?"

"They are slow, loud, foolish," Aemos glared. He paced, upset and angry. "We cannot protect them if they will not cooperate. Your husband is wounded, we cannot rely on any help from him. He is as much a liability as the rest. And this woman," he gestured to Ma-Riki, who preemptively shot him a glare. "Is as likely to eat us as help us."

"Despicable. You need one of my elixirs."

Jun winced. He looked as though he was going to regret what he was about to say. "He ain't wrong." Seeing Noko's raised eyebrow, he hurried to justify himself. "Look, I'm just saying this is a tough situation, that's all. Katarn left us in the lurch."

Noko's voice took on an edge. "He followed the will of the Force. It was Master Katarn who told us to stay together. He and Luke trusted the three of us to take care of our students."

"Master Katarn is gone!" Aemos roared. He looked aside at the watching initiates, cleared his throat, and returned to a mutter. "Our chances of success have dwindled precariously in his absence."

Noko stepped forward, jaw set. Suddenly, she seemed as tall as Aemos.
"Master Katarn trusted the Force," she said. "And so should you. At the very least, you should trust him. He knew what he was doing. If you come apart at the seams without him, you're failing him *and* these students. Your fear is uncontrolled. The worst threat to this mission right now is your weakness."

The Hybolon visibly tensed. His eyes widened. "How *dare* you--"

Asa decided it was best to join the conversation. He hobbled in-between them on his makeshift crutch, waving his free hand peaceably.

"Woah woah woah, let's all be pals. Nobody kill nobody. You know things aren't great as is, right? We've gotta figure out how to get to that monastery. We gotta get these kids someplace safe."

There was a moment of tense quiet. The two Jedi stepped away, and things calmed down.

"How about we take five?" Asa suggested.

That seemed like the right thing to do. They dispersed: Asa spoke quietly to Noko while Aemos left to bring in the other initiates to sleep. Jun leaned against the wall and stared into the distance. Ma-Riki smiled at something in her head; more than anything, amused.

They had a long walk tomorrow.


Continued . . .



Because Harrison pulled heavy lifting on the main scene for this post, I attributed it to him on the submittal form. I built the scene below, but don't bother judging it; a lot of it is repurposed from the previous post.



Thanks for looking!

Edited by RocketBoy

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On 1/25/2022 at 3:53 PM, The British Brixter said:

Heyyy! Was wondering when this would show up, great Editing Sam! And good job with the story so far.


Thanks for building it! And thanks for reading. We're almost there!

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