Smurths and Smithies Chapter 14 Based on a true story.
“…The man you need is Patrick Gitchell, of the Jedi order. He can help you unravel certain mysteries of… well, for now we’ll say mysteries of the Force.”
The hologram of Daniel Snell ended and I switched off the datapad. I sat back with a bewildered sigh, unsure what to do with the instructions I’d just received. If I was even going to consider following up on this I needed money. Over the subspace radio I contacted my brothers.
“I sent Taylor to you to stash and cash the treasure. Has he arrived?”
“Well, yes and no…,” Jordan replied, “The Bloody Maiden arrived on autopilot. An escape pod was jettisoned somewhere along the way.”
“Somewhere along the way where?” I asked.
“Jordan accidentally messed up that data in the ship’s computers. We have no idea,” Ethan told me.
I frowned, “Ethan, I’m too far away, would you mind?”
Ethan smacked Jordan upside the head.
Continuing, I told them what I needed, “Transfer three million of my credits to my traveling account, and hold onto the rest. Ethan, I need you to meet me on Yavin IV. I need your help.
Looking ill at ease, Ethan asked, “Is this need of my help a passing fancy, or a deep abiding need.
“It’s a deep abiding need,” I replied, knowing Ethan’s dislike of Yavin’s native lizards, ysalimarris, after a nasty little encounter a couple years back, “And bring this stuff with you as well.”
From the SmurthBane’s computer I sent him a list of all the damaged systems and hardware. Before he could ask I told him to take the cost of the items out of my share. He was so particular about his money.
* * *
A starship appeared in the sky above Mustafar, not long after the Lady of the Night and the Veiled Perfection left the planet. This new arrival was a Lamda class shuttle, if you know what that is. The occupants of the shuttle didn’t remember the type of the craft they were flying; all they knew was that it had the capabilities they needed, and, more importantly, it was comfortable. They didn’t like coming to this universe, so damned if they were going to travel through it in a ship that was anything less than comfy.
The shuttle had simply appeared. It didn’t uncloak, it didn’t arrive from anywhere. It just appeared, already on a landing approach that brought it to touch down outside the abandoned mining facility, next to the starfighter known as the ChefMetro. When the boarding ramp lowered from the underside of the Lamda Class Shuttle three humans exited the spacecraft. They were human because they preferred to be human. Their clothing was typical Core World civilian.
As they passed the ChefMetro, the second one stopped and read the lettering.
“ChefMetro,” he chuckled derisively, “So juvenile. I suppose it’s expected from a Smithy.”
The third human laughed, but the first one glowered.
“These juveniles from Smith House will get us all thrown in jail if they accidentally kill someone. We’re lucky no one has died yet.”
The other two shrugged guiltily and followed the first, now obviously the leader, where they recovered Zach’s lightsaber from his lifeless hand. It was dismantled and its crystal removed. The humans handled the crystal gingerly as if fearing it would sprout limbs or explode, and the one who had laughed at the name of Zach’s ship took the crystal and fitted it into an oddly shaped datapad. Once the datapad was activated, light burst through the crystal, illuminating the room with purple light that faded to white as the color was drained from the crystal. When the crystal was left completely transparent it was removed from the datapad.
“This is so wrong,” the third human grimaced as he dropped the crystal onto Zach’s still form. And then the crystal did indeed sprout legs.
“Nasty little bugger’s on its back,” observed the first human, now obviously the leader.
The legged crystal righted itself, keening and crying piteously in a terribly high pitch and moving about unsteadily like a newborn, still blind kitten searching for its mother. The three humans, however, were unmoved with pity and did not attempt to pick up the crystal. In fact, they kept their distance quite carefully.
With a sudden, angry squeak the legged crystal skittered over Zach’s chest, up his neck, around his chin and wriggled between his lips into his mouth.
“Disgusting.” All three turned their faces away as Zach’s body vanished in a blast of wind.
“Can we leave now?” asked the second human, eyeing with distaste the spot previously occupied by Zach’s remains.
“No,” replied the leader, “Ian was shot down somewhere on this planet, so we have to find him. And Ray and Chad were ambushed on Castell by the Smurths so we have to hurry there before their crystals go active.”
The other two cursed and turned to leave, but their leader halted them, “Hold on! We still don’t know why the Smurths and Smithies came here. The president told us to find out.”
“Weren’t they tracking Jesse?” My name was spat out like a curse.
“The Lady of the Night was tracking Jesse, but the Veiled Perfection came after killing Ray and Chad. They found something on Castell that brought them here. Now hurry up, we still have to travel to Castell.”
A minute or so later they entered the control center where Shawn and Crow had fought the Smurth hunters and their trandoshan hirelings. Ignoring the dead reptiles scattered in pieces about the room the three checked the consoles, surprised that the room had power.
“There’s a generator wired in over here.”
“Bring up the security recordings,” ordered the first human.
The second tapped at a control panel, “Can’t. Hard drive has been fried.” He indicated two scorched holes in the computer bank. “Someone knew what they were doing.”
“Wait, there’s a back up recording of about five hours,” said the third, “I’ll bring it up on screen as soon as I find one that isn’t smashed.”
The fight had left most of the wall mounted screens shattered by blaster fire. In a moment one flared to life, showing the security recording. They fast-forwarded ahead till Shawn entered the room, his left arm hanging limp, broken above the elbow in the crash. After glancing around the room the Smith House president found something of interest on a screen. The camera angle made it impossible to tell what he found on the screen, but it led him to activate a hologram on the center console. His viewing of the hologram recording was interrupted by a party of trandoshans, led, or rather, urged onward by a Smurth. With annoyed efficiency Sawn paralyzed the entire group with a Force stasis-field, then stunned the Smurth, switched the setting on his lightsaber and dispatched the trandoshans.
There was a lull in the action where Shawn activated ion shields in the room’s doorways, sealing himself in, and then fiddled with the computer, apparently without accomplishing anything if his scowl and gesturing with his undamaged arm were anything to go by. The action picked up again when Crow arrived. When they attempted to reactivate the ion shields after letting Crow into the room a circuit was blown and the shields could not be raised. Crow accomplished the task Shawn had failed at and then sank two blaster shots into the computers. Before they could leave, more trandoshans and Smurths arrived. Fighting ensued.
“Shut it off.”
“Hang on, back it up… Right there. Crow threw something out that door.”
“It was his datapad. They found something they didn’t want the Smurths to have; probably that hologram. He got rid of it just before being overwhelmed. Odd that Smurths would take prisoners at a time like this.”
* * *
Yavin IV. Covered in jungles, interspersed with the ruinous remains of civilization, it was the homeworld of the New Jedi Order. I’d spent a little over two years with the academy, training in the ways of the Force and lightsaber, learning from Jedi Master Renaldo Jaksen. I still had friends among the other apprentices, or hoped that I did, but they were not who I needed to see. I needed to see Master Jaksen and ask him a few questions.
I met Ethan at an abandoned temple and loaded the hard currency into the SmurthBane’s cargo hold. He unloaded the ship parts I needed and then while I began repairing the damage inflicted on my ship, he proceeded to the Jedi Academy on foot. After removing the dented armor where it had been struck by Seth’s ship the Blade of Light, I started work on the damaged weapon cooling system beneath. Just as I finished with the cooling system and began work on the optics for the targeting computer, I heard Ethan, I assumed, return.
“Did you get in to see Master Jaksen?” I asked without looking up. Biazzzzzz…. a short purple lightsaber hummed to life next to my ear.
“They tell me the Dark Side claimed you on Kashyyyk. They tell me you went mad, slaughtered the Trandoshan envoy, and blew up the spaceport just to cover your escape. I argue that this is not possible; you are a NoFreakin and would never act so irrationally. I talk long and hard to convince Masters Skywalker and Katarn not to send Jedi to bring you in. Now tell me what they say is not true.”
“Master Jaksen… I…” I started to answer but the Tintinna Jedi, who only stood at .9 meters tall, interrupted with more authority than a Wookie who would have a word with you concerning a joke you made about a walking rug.
“If you lie, I will know. Choose your words carefully; be sure they match your feelings.”
Cautiously I peeked over my shoulder at the rodent-like features of Jedi Master Renaldo Jaksen. Several paces behind him Ethan stood, hands spread wide in a gesture of helplessness and apology.
“Master, the negotiations were sabotaged by Tiffany of the Smurths. She wanted Meryl to join the ranks of Smurthwaite. Somehow she convinced the Trandoshans to attack me… though it wouldn’t be hard. Trandoshans are such stupid…”
The lightsaber flicked and singed my hair, “Get on with it.”
I got on with it, “I escaped the Trandoshan ambush and fled to my ship. But they knew where the SmurthBane was docked…”
Again I was interrupted, “SmurthBane?”
“I renamed the SithBane, Master.”
This was met with a bit of a chuckle, “Ah yes, the SithBane you called it, called yourself too... Such vanity and bravado you did display. I see little has changed, you coming here like this. Now continue.”
“I headed for the spaceport…” Memories, vivid details came to me, as if I was watching a movie and I related the events as they replayed in my mind’s eye.
An explosion. A trip-mine went off as I entered the hanger where the SithBane was docked and I was thrown against the wall. When I came to, fires had started all over the hanger; shrapnel had ruptured a refueling tank and being mostly constructed of wood high in the trees of Kashyyyk the spaceport would burn easily. A trandoshan entered the hanger, led by a woman I didn’t recognize at the time, Tiffany. She looked around, pointed and gestured in my direction before leaving, and the trandoshan advanced on me, vibrosword drawn.
Fighting to stay conscious I attempted to stand, and managed it, leaning heavily against the wall at my back. My enemy quickened his advance as I raised my right hand to Force-pull my lightsaber from where it lay by the entrance. Waves of pain made concentrating difficult; my right shoulder had been shredded by the trip-mine. Before my lightsaber reached my hand the trandoshan’s vibrosword bit into my arm, lodging in the bone. With a jerk the lizard man wrenched away his sword and my arm was pulled from its socket.
Even with my Jedi-training I doubt I could have survived were I not a NoFreakin. A small part of my mind was still fully conscious and could concentrate on the Force though the rest of my being was in agony. I know at that point I took on an orange aura as I used the Force to steal life energy from the reptile man. It sank to its knees as the loss of energy overwhelmed it. My saber returned to my left hand and I slashed the head from the trandoshan.
“My own arm was gone, lost in a fire or fallen through a burnt hole I don’t know,” I continued, though by now Master Jaksen had deactivated his lightsaber. “So with Force-pull I tore away the trandoshans arm.”
Master Jaksen objected, “That is misuse of the Force.”
“Using a lightsaber to cut it away would have burned the end closed and it would not have attached to my shoulder,” I replied in defense.
The memories still played before my eyes, very clear. So clear in fact that it was unnatural, as if the memory were being placed in my mind. Strange…
“Clinging to life by a thread I got myself into the SithBane. After engaging the auto-pilot with an ‘injured-pilot’ code I pulled my flight mask on and then with my elbow smashed open the bacta tank in the life support system. With the scaled arm held in place of my lost limb I channeled the Force to bind and repair my new arm. Bacta flooded the cockpit as my ship left Kashyyyk, and I blacked out.”
I finally turned to face my former master. Since he hadn’t chopped my head off I could safely assume he believed my story.
“Then you have returned to rejoin the Academy?” Renaldo asked.
“No, Master. Smith House is scattered, but not destroyed. I must do what I can to restore the brotherhood. A man named Daniel Snell is working to help the Smithies, but all he has told me is to seek out a Jedi Knight named Patrick Gitchel. Do you know where I can find him?”
“Hmm…,” the Tintinna closed his eyes and raised his chin, “Much anger I sense in you, but as always, tempered, restrained because you are a NoFreakin. And much sadness, disappointment with who you have been these past three… ah, coming up on four years now.”
Sighing, irritated at his insight I pressed him for an answer. He shrugged and replied.
“The academy has not heard from Patrick in quite some time. He last went to settle a dispute on Nar Kreeta. Some village elders have gone missing after meeting with the local hutt crime lord.”
Somehow this seemed familiar. This mission had been completed before by someone, I was sure of it. But I let it pass. (1)
“Then I’ve gotta go…” I turned to leave but he caught me by my pant leg. I looked down at him, frowning.
“Wait. I knew already that Smith House has been scattered, its men lost or killed. I have reinforcements for you. They are not yet well trained, but already I can tell that they are too independent and strong-willed to spend their lives keeping the peace.”
“Time is of the essence, Master. I’m leaving as soon as I finish my repairs. While Smith House needs new blood, I am unable to take charge of these men. It would only put them in needless danger,” I replied, biting my lip. It was a pity Shawn wasn’t around to lead them. I made what I hoped was a wise decision.
“Send them to Tatooine. Let them retake Smith House on Tatooine if they wish to join us. There is no hurry; if they need more training give it to them. There is no point in wasting lives. If they need weapons and gear Smith House has holdings on Drall. Hang on, I’ll radio and see if anyone is there.”
I climbed into the SmurthBane’s cockpit and turned on the radio, not hopeful that anyone would answer.
“Smith House on Drall, is anyone home?” Silence. “Smith House on Drall, is…”
“Jesse is that you?!” Marshal sounded a bit frantic.
“It’s me. What’s your status?”
A new voice took over, “Totally ****ed!” Dustin really had a way with words. “Nearly everyone is missing. Erik, Sebastian, Frank and Kris have checked in, but no one else. We know Goosen and Ian were killed on Mustafar. Chad and Ray were ambushed and killed on Castell, the Smurths knew about the smuggling run, same as they knew about your trip to BesGas Three..”
“Hold up, man, I’m tired of bad news at the moment. If got some good news for you. When we went to rescue Shawn we picked up a hologram from Daniel Snell. He’s sent me to find a Jedi named Gitchell,” I told him.
His reply surprised me, “Yea, I decrypted the datapad we picked up on BesGas Three and it gave instructions for finding that hologram. It’s why both the Lady of the Night and the Veiled Perfection went to Mustafar. Ray and Chad would have brought back a copy of those instructions if they hadn’t been… well, killed.”
A shiver went through my spine as it always did when I witnessed how the Force moved us. Clearly the Force did not mean for the Smurths to find Daniel Snell. That gave me hope.
“We told Kris all of this and he’s given the order; we’re supposed to do whatever we can to find Snell,” Marshall told me, “You were lucky to catch us here; we only stopped by for supplies.”
“Kris is acting as president?”
“Shawn hasn’t been heard from,” he replied.
With a grimace I forbore to tell him of Shawn and Crow falling to the Smurths on Mustafar. I assumed they were dead, but we didn’t need a dead president at the moment. We needed to regroup, so I gave him what other info I could, “Zach bought it at the point of Sam’s lightsaber, but I know that Jonathan, Reichard, and Trevor all escaped the battle. I can find Trevor if I need to, but I’ve no clue about the others.
“And here’s the best news. We’ve got new recruits from the Jedi Academy. Stay put and they’ll come to you inside the next cycle.”
Marshal spoke again, “That’s awesome man. We could use the help and retake Smith House on Tatooine.”
“Seems we think alike. I had that idea, too. I’ll send the new men and contact you when I know more about Snell or Gitchell.”
I switched off the radio and hopped out of the SmurthBane. A hint of smile was on Master Jaksen’s face, you could tell it was a smile and not a grimace because his whiskers quivered.
“I will send the new men to Drall when they believe they are ready. Now let me see your sabers.”
With a growl at the delay he was causing me, I handed them over to my master to be examined. “Your blue saber is the same as I remember, except for the stun setting. It has served you well then.”
“It has. I would recommend the design to any Jedi.”
Nodding he activated the red lightsaber. The long red saber looked almost comical in the hands of the meter tall rodent. Almost comical. Like Yoda before him, Jaksen was a force to be reckoned with. “No stun setting on this. How did you acquire Desann’s lightsaber?”
“My brother Jordan got it for me. I don’t know how he got his hands on it.”
He deactivated the blade and handed both lightsabers back to me, “A formidable pair of weapons. But you must not wield this crimson and blue combination for long. It is contrary to the ways of the Force.”
Bowing, I took back the lightsabers, replying, “I’ve felt this as well. Why, Master, is crimson and blue forbidden?”
“That, young Smithy, you must learn for yourself.”
The final and entirely canon version of what happened to Jesse on Kashyyyk took some time to decide upon.
In reality, Renaldo Jaksen was a political refugee that took refuge in Smith House's basement for a while. He was good shrew (the little furry kind) who found his way into our pantry. Then, fearing that his enemies would harm the house that sheltered him, he did bravely go on his way. We took him to a flower bed along Claflin north of campus and released him.
(1) Jedi Academy, mission to Nar Kreeta.
And if you can't figure why crimson and blue is forbidden, you're no friend of mine.
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