Subject: [FFML] [RN/SW]Honor of the Matukai
From: Matthew
Date: 11/11/2005, 9:29 AM
To: FFML


Honor of the Matukai
By: Matthew De Mouy

Disclaimer:  The following is piece of work that was produced 
voluntarily for free
consumption.  It uses characters and universes that do not belong to the 
author, namely
the characters from Ranma 1/2 in the Star Wars universe in the KotoR 
era.  The author
feels it is only fair warning to point out Akane will not be in any 
scenes with Ranma, nor
will they be getting together.

The Matukai are a Force using group that originated in the Hero's Guide. 
  To my
knowledge they are only mentioned descriptively in the Hero Guide and 
with a brief
description on Matukai items in KOTOR2.  As such some of the information 
you will
find in here had to be created by the author, although efforts were made 
to keep things in
the proper spirit.  They are also one of the very few Force using groups 
that doesn't have
its roots in either the Jedi or the Sith, yet has a solid grasp on the 
Force.  I had to almost
completely create the Jal Shey stuff from scratch because I couldn't 
find any real data on
their order, just for your information.

C&C is appreciated, although not required.

----------
----------

It is a time of great conflict 4,000 years before the Battle of Yavin. 
The Republic Fleet
under the command of the Jedi Knight Revan has returned as the basis of 
an armada of
conquering Sith.  Their numbers swelled by defectors, and raw recruits 
the Sith numbers
and forces seem all but unstoppable.  The Jedi's assault on the flagship 
of the Dark Lord
of the Sith, Darth Revan, has only made things that much worse.  Instead 
of the tactical
calculating Revan, the ruthless Darth Malak has taken the helm of the 
Sith war machine.
The Jedi and their dark counterpart however do not possess a monopoly on 
the Force, nor
are the repercussions of the war limited to them...



  Ranma slid his gaze down from the star studded sky.  The beauty of the 
stars and the
intellectual exercise of spotting constellations however would have to 
wait.  For now was
the time to spar.  An exercise respected in the traditions of the 
Matukai Order as it
allowed students to learn off one and another.

  "Are you going to make a move or stand there all day?"  His opponent 
impatiently
demanded.  Ryouga Hibiki was still technically an apprentice of the 
Matukai Order.  To
easily did he become flustered and upset, and to impatient was he for 
the Master to
promote him to Adept.  The Master had felt it best that Ryouga receive 
assistance from
another student as he had already received the basic instruction.

  "Patience, Ryouga.  Your thrashing will come soon enough."  Ranma 
responded in
good humor.

  Focusing the Force through his body refined by the various harsh 
lessons of the Master
Ranma took up his normal stance.  This was to say he put his hands in 
the pockets of his
robes and took on a casual air.  The Master was often amused by this 
stance, as it was a
show that often the stance itself was not an overly big factor in a 
fight, and by not taking
a traditional stance one could hide their intentions.

  Ranma casually sidestepped Ryouga's debladed Wan-Shen.  The Wan-Shen 
was the
traditional weapon of a Matukai.  Each was unique to its user, but all 
followed the lines
of some sort of staff with a blade.  With the Force guiding Ranma's body 
and movements
Ryouga could not hope to hit him while being ruled by his impatience and 
lack of
control.

  Still moving Ranma jumped and actually landed on the part of Ryouga's 
Wan-Shen he
was holding between his hands.  The resulting momentum and shock 
unbalanced Ryouga,
and as Ranma hopped back off Ryouga could not hope to arrest his fall.

  "Control Ryouga, it's all about control.  You know I wouldn't be able 
to do that so
easily if you could manage to maintain your cool."  Ranma said to the 
prone Ryouga.
His voice was free of the tones of bragging, but instead colored by the 
helpful tones of a
friend showing concern.

  Ryouga pulled himself up, but his expression was one of upset.  "Every 
frickin time."
He grumbled as he stomped off.

  Ranma stared sadly as his fellow pupil and friend left.  It had went 
so well initially.
They were rivals, but they looked out for each other.  As they advanced 
in the traditions
of the Matukai though, Ryouga began to fall behind.  While the trials 
had given him an
amazing amount of endurance, Ryouga's performance had been less then 
stellar.  He did
not have the patience for the slow moving meditation, or the holding of 
the proper poses
both key to the training and way of the Matukai.

  Ranma jumped as he felt a hand fall on his shoulder.

  "It would serve you well to be more mindful of the present Adept 
Saotome."  Came a
female voice Ranma knew as belonging to their Master.

  "I am sorry, Master.  It just seems Apprentice Hibiki doesn't fit in 
here."  Ranma said
with the proper amount of reverence.

  "Perhaps.  It is however his choice to remain, and he would not be the 
first student I
have seen that required more time to sort themselves out."

  --------

  Ryouga kicked a piece of trash he had found around as he walked along. 
  It wasn't fair.
Ranma had left him in his dust.  The Master insisted on him doing forms 
_slowly_.  He
just knew she _had_ to be holding him back.

  When he had heard of the Matukai Ryouga had been quick to want to join 
them.  They
were strong, capable, and tough.  They also didn't hold themselves aloof 
like the Jedi
with their unnecessarily constrictive code and regulations.  He had 
respected them and
had wanted to be one.

  Not paying attention to where he was going Ryouga kept kicking his 
piece of trash.  His
frustration building with every passing moment he stopped.  With one 
swift movement he
used a full powered overhead blow with his Wan-Shen to smash the 
offending piece of
trash to bits.

  When he heard someone clapping Ryouga finally became aware of his 
surroundings.  A
female in dark robes was the source of the noise and he had somehow 
managed to arrive
at the starport.

  "Uhh... who are you?"  Ryouga asked after a few minutes.

  "I am a seeker, a finder, a messenger who spreads the truth.  There 
are aspects of the
Force that contain great power.  The Jedi would deny this power to 
anyone else, while
fearing to use it themselves considering it to quick, to easy.  To prone 
to letting
apprentices challenge the ruling orders authority and supposed wisdom. 
Any that learn
the truth behind their lies are ruthlessly hunted down and quietly 
removed.  Even you of
the Matukai must know they only barely tolerate your order as long it is 
not a threat to
their authority and power.

  We of the Sith know the truth behind the Jedi Orders lies, the power 
they would deny to
everyone else lest it challenge them.  We however have become too strong 
for the Jedi to
silence, to numerous to be quietly removed.  Thus it is now we can 
spread the truth.  If
you come with me you can learn the power the Jedi would deny you.  We 
can show you
how to truly harness the Force, if you let us."

  Power, the word resonated in Ryouga's skull.  Ranma.  Ryouga's lips 
began to curl
cruelly at the thought of finally having the power to defeat his rival.

  Akane Tendo smiled from within the hood of her robes.  Her Master had 
sent her here
to Callamar to oversee the transfer of supplies from this world's 
well-developed
agricultural base.  To bring back a Matukai, ripe to be turned with 
her...  Her Master
would be pleased.

  "Follow me."  She said now only using a little bit of mental Force 
trickery to enhance
her abilities at persuasion.

  -----------

  Ryouga faced a human whose entire head was tattooed in a way very 
similar that
common among the Matukai.  The Matukai who were into that practice 
however did not
usually shave themselves bald and have their entire face so adorned. 
No, the mark of
mastery for a Matukai only covered part of the forehead and the sides of 
the eyes.

  "I trust your trip was successful, young one?"  He said, the question 
obviously directed
towards the female accompanying him.

  "Yes, Master Uthar.  I was able to convince the Callamar authorities 
it was to their
benefit to sell us supplies."  She said with just the necessary tone of 
reverence.

  "That is good.  And who is this you bring before me?"

  "He is a Matukai who wishes to learn our ways, Master Uthar."

  The man now turned to him and looked at him with an intentness that 
seemed to strip
everything away.  Finally addressing him in a fatherly tone he said,  "I 
sense much anger
in you.  That is good.  Harness it, use it, and it will give you a power 
greater then any you
have ever known."

  Turning to his companion he said, "Will you see to arranging his 
quarters, Akane?"

  "Yes, Master Uthar."

  -----------

  Ranma emerged from his quarters, robed and ready for the day.  Some of 
the older
Adepts were already instructing some of the newer Apprentices in some of 
the more basic
katas in the practice field.

  "Adept Saotome?"

  Ranma turned to see the aged visage of the Master.  While she was 
beginning to get on
in years, she had lost neither her spunk nor edge.  As the occasional 
session where she
showed off the power of a fully trained Matukai, by taking on several 
Adepts once
attested to.  Right now her face was contorted by a look of concern.

  "Yes Master?"  Ranma asked with a bow.

  "Come with me.  There is something I must tell you."

  -----------

  "Are you sure?!  You know how prone he is to getting lost."

  "I would not be telling you this if I was not sure, Adept Saotome." 
The Master said
with a sigh.  "Ryouga is gone and I feel that he has fallen into a dark 
place.  As the
closest thing he had to a friend you deserve to know."

  "I'll rescue him then."  Ranma declared decisively.

  "Do what you must.  You have learned you lessons well, and there is 
little more you can
learn here, Adept Saotome.  Remember though that a Matukai no matter how 
strong, how
tough, or how fast they may be is not immortal and your friend may not 
wish to be
saved."

  -----------

  Ranma followed Ryouga's trail.  Ryouga might have a bad sense of 
direction, but he
had quickly learned how to pick up Ryouga's trail.  While the Master 
might speculate
that Ryouga's ability to appear in odd places was tied somehow to the 
Force guiding his
movements, Ryouga always walked.  Thus in turn he left a trail that 
could be picked out
easily enough if one knew what to look for.

  Finally reach the end of the trail Ranma found himself within an empty 
landing pad.
Dock security was relatively lax around here, so unless a landing pad 
was actually
occupied or a VIP was on their way no one really cared if you wandered 
around the pads.
Noting the pad number, Ranma decided he needed to have a chat with the Dock
Authorities.

  -----------

  Ranma entered the Dock Officer's office only to find the on duty 
officer fitfully snoring
in a chair.  A quick look around confirmed that security, as usual, 
wasn't present.
Reaching into a concealed pouch sewn into the inside of his robes Ranma 
pulled out
some equipment that was considered illegal in more systems that anyone 
bothered to
keep track of, and was just as readily available.  While he rather would 
rather not dwell
on his past, Ranma had to admit his life before joining the Matukai did 
give have some
useful perks, besides the Matukai emphasized being flexible.

  The security system on the computer proved to be the predictable joke 
one would
expect on a world like this.  Easily bypassing it Ranma did a quick 
search.  There was
only one ship that had used that particular pad in the past week. 
Apparently the person
had been some sort of VIP who was going to talk to the planetary 
authorities.  Records on
the ship, it's captain, and related data had been deleted, but the 
system hadn't been
updated so it was nothing to restore the data.  These country bumpkins 
probably thought
they'd done a good job of hiding the evidence though.

  Finishing his download Ranma stored his ill begotten data disk along 
with his
equipment back in his robes.  Ranma scanned the office one more time to 
insure he
hadn't been watched or missed anything that might be incriminating. 
Looking at the still
unconscious Dock Officer Ranma debated with himself for a few minutes 
before deciding
to indulge himself.  Afterall, the guy was practically asking for it.  A 
rapid set of
precisely controlled taps, and the snoring Dock Officer's forehead now 
featured a set of
bruises that spelled out "Sleeping On Duty" in clear easy to read 
Galactic Basic.  The
Dock Officer continued to snore away undisturbed as with a swish of 
green robes Ranma
was gone.

  -----------

  Ranma pulled down the hood of his green over robes as he scouted out 
the local catina.
As such things went this establishment was most certainly sub par by 
galactic standards,
although apparently the drinks were particularly good.  The main thing 
going for it was
its close proximity to this star port.  Few would bother going all the 
way to next city over
to merely get a drink.  While what passed for planetary administration 
was there, their
local drinking places weren't much better

  While his clothes might draw more attention, particularly with the 
hood up, people
would focus on them more instead of on anything identifiable.  Plus in 
the dim interior of
the catina its residents would be less likely to be able to see his face 
anyway.

  There was really only one vessel presently on this planet he could use 
to get off
Callamar anytime soon according to the computer systems, the Baker's 
Justice.  It was a
rare class of ship that had seen service mostly in use by the 
Mandalorians.  A type of
attack craft only about twice the length of a starfighter although a lot 
more bulky.  That
length actually became its height when in flight, presenting a somewhat 
larger frontal
target profile then many preferred.  Steps however had been taken in its 
design to aid in
deflecting shots, and it had devastating firepower, as befit a 
Mandalorian ship.  With the
Mandalorians scattered only a bounty hunter would privately own such a 
craft, and a
good one at that.

  Pulling out a small portable holo-projector Ranma slid his ill 
begotten data card into it.
He took a moment to dwell on the figure of his adversary, before 
switching to an image
of the owner of the Baker's Justice.  Pausing he took the time to rotate 
the projector and
look at it from several different angles.  After gaining confidence he'd 
be able to pick her
out Ranma shut off the holo-projector and put it away.  Well at least 
she was cute.

  -----------

  Ukyo Kounji was a bounty hunter by trade.  She had been captured by 
the Mandalorian
forces early in the war when they had invaded the world of Butuan.  The 
Mandalorians
were both worse and better then most people in the Republic considered 
them.  Times
like now she almost wished they'd won.  At least that would have kept 
away the five
previous would be suitors.

  Honestly, it wasn't like she was even dressed in something that could 
be considered
feminine.  What did she have to do, bind her chest so these losers would 
leave her alone?

  There were only two worthwhile things about this particular mudball. 
The alcohol and
some special ingredients she used in her cooking that were hard to find, 
not to mention
expensive, anywhere else.  Taking another sip from her tankard of 
frothing beer she idly
noted a robed and hooded figure enter.  The locals seemed to regard it 
with some measure
of respect and fear.  Lucky it.

  As the figure began to approach her Ukyo reached down and checked to 
make sure her
blaster could be easily drawn.  Casually resting a hand on it, the other 
ready to pull a
spatula out of her bandoleer she waited.  As it gained further 
definition in the
establishments dim interior she could make out the distinctive green 
robes of a Matukai.
While not anywhere as big an organization as the Jedi or the Sith you 
could often find
them if you looked hard enough.  She'd heard tales about a group of them 
being on this
rock.  If rumor could be trusted then you could trust one about as much 
as you could trust
anyone.

  "I want to hire you to help me find someone."  Came a male voice from 
within the
robes.

  Direct, to the point, and with a job offer.  Things were looking up.

  "How much?"  She asked with a level tone.  Best to let the customer 
place the first bid
on these type of things.  You could haggle price after you had a feel 
for the details and
how much they were willing to pay.

  "5,000 Republic Credits.  Half in advance, but only if I come along 
for the ride."

  Ukyo subtly straightened.  It wasn't a large bounty as such things 
went, but for an
individual it was a respectable amount.  Unless this man was actually 
representing some
organization he was plainly very serious about finding this person.

  "You have my attention."  Ukyo said with a level voice, subtly 
signaling it was time to
get down to business.

  As the figure pulled up a seat he pull his hood back up some.  While 
it still difficult to
make out exact features in the darkened interior of this building, she 
could at least make
out his face.

  Placing a holo-projector of the type commonly available throughout the 
galaxy on the
beaten up table he manipulated its controls.

  "This is the person I want you to help me find.  His name is Ryouga 
Hibiki."  Again
manipulating the control the man changed it to another image this time a 
long range
shuttle she remembered leaving as she was coming in.  "I've been able to 
track him to
this ship.  The job will be completed when I have both where he has 
gone, and the means
to reach him."

  Ukyo nodded to herself, it seemed straightforward enough and the trail 
was still fresh.
"What's the catch?"

  "Other then I'm going with you, there is no catch.  I need transport 
and assistance in
tracking him down.  By the time I could get transport off this rock 
through normal
channels it will have been to long.  I can make myself useful if you're 
worried about
that."

  Seemed reasonable enough, she'd been here enough to know what he said 
was true.
Except for the bulk transports carrying supplies transports ships only 
came here rarely.
By the time one the next one arrived the trail would be most certainly 
cold.  "Okay,
you've hired yourself a bounty hunter."

  -----------

  Ryouga tugged at the collar of the dark robes he had been given.  His 
old Matukai robes
had been confiscated.  They said he could get the back after he became a 
full fledged
Sith.  As he entered the chamber he found an instructor had setup a line 
of boxes.  The
students who were present stood in front of a box.  Ryouga quietly took 
his place in front
of one towards the end.

  "Thus it is necessary that we first show you our way of channeling the 
Force before you
can truly be considered trainees of this Academy."  The Instructor 
finished what had been
a long lecture Ryouga hadn't been present for a good part of.  "Let's 
start with..."  The
Instructor paused with a hand holding his chin as he scanned the 
students contemplating
who to choose.

  As Ryouga felt the Instructor's gaze begin to linger on him, he knew 
he had been
picked out.

  "Hibiki isn't it?  Master Uthar informed me you would be joining us. 
Seems as how
you are new here I would like to gauge for myself how far along you are. 
  You see that
box in front of you?"

  "Yes."  Ryouga said a little meekly.

  "Reach out feel the Force with your mind."  The instructor commanded.

  Ryouga did a less then graceful move with his arms trying to center 
himself.

  "Now focus on that box, imagine it is the thing you hate absolutely 
the most in the
world.  Feel the rage build in you, stoke it into a inferno."

  Ryouga began to breathe through his mouth as the anger built.

  "Now direct your rage at your enemy."

  The box shattered as it was smashed against the far wall.  Ryouga felt 
as if he had just
managed to see true power and felt a craving to see more.

  The instructor turned his attention back to the class.  "Now let's see 
if the rest of you
can do half as well."

  Ryouga for the first time since joining the Matukai truly felt 
successful.  Picking out an
unattended box he began to focus on it.

  -----------

  "There are two rules on this ship that shall not be violated.  First, 
the seat in the
refresher will be down and clean when you are done with your business. 
Second, try to
take advantage of me and they'll never find your body.  Understood?" 
Ukyo said with a
voice the allowed for no debate.

  "Yes, Captain."  Ranma said in a resigned voice.  What did she think 
he was?

  "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you."  Ukyo said tapping her foot.

  "Yes, Captain!"

  "That's better.  Now I run a tight ship, and as much as you might wish 
to help if you
aren't dead certain what you're doing don't do it.  I don't need to be 
cleaning up your
messes."  Tapping a control on an electronics ridden armband Ukyo opened 
a comm
channel.

  "T2-S9 this is your captain.  Get the ship ready for liftoff, we're 
leaving."

  Ranma noticed several seeker drones come out of hiding and hover 
towards the now
opening hatch.  Obviously this was someone who took securing their 
vessel very
seriously.  Those particular models carried both lethal firepower and 
what passed for a
solid intellect.

  Ranma watch as Ukyo ducked under a cluster of maneuvering thrusters 
built into the
craft chin before pulling herself bodily into the narrow hatch, and the 
hallway beyond.
Entering the cramped interior of the ship Ranma followed Ukyo's lead of 
using D-rings
built into what was presently the floor to help pull himself along.  The 
passage was to
narrow to allow him to stand anyway, and it helped get up the slight 
incline.

  Finally reaching the main cabin Ranma felt himself suddenly go 
weightless.  A quick
scan revealed six rooms set into the wall, and a door leading to a 
refresher unit which was
probably only compatible with humans.  The cabin a few square meters of 
floor space,
which was presently wall space.  Another D-ring lined passageway clearly 
led to the
bridge.

  Kicking off the "floor" Ukyo flew to the "roof" and manipulated one of 
the door
controls.  The door swiftly opened revealing what was more of a closet 
then anything
else.  A sleeping bag was affixed to the far wall, and there was a 
locker set flush into the
side wall.  Other then that there was just barely a little more room 
then necessary to be
able to turn around.

  "This will be you cabin.  Do you need to retrieve any luggage before 
we leave?"  Ukyo
said after tossing an electronic key towards Ranma.

  "No, I have everything."  Ranma stated simply kicking off towards his 
"cabin."  "That
ship was transporting one Akane Tendo."  He said as he tossed a copy of 
the data card he
had sliced from the Dock Officer's computer towards Ukyo.

  Catching the card Ukyo slotted into a port on her armband.  "You're 
pretty slick.  There
was a bounty on information relating to this Akane Tendo."  Ukyo 
commented as a small
holo of Akane appeared from her armband.  "I'll check to see if it's 
still open."

  "What about the destination of those shipments?"  Ranma asked.

  "Jaksar is a world that the Sith have been using as one of their 
supply depots.  Except
for it just so happening to be near several critical worlds it has no 
strategic value and
there's nothing worthwhile there.  Do you really think she'd take your 
friend there?"

  "I don't know." Ranma said after stashing his over robes in his locker.

  Ukyo noted that he wore simple off white clothes under the robes. 
Some type of
metallic cylinder dominated the back of a utility belt and a blaster 
pistol was strapped to
his right leg.

  "I didn't think Matukai used blasters."  Ukyo commented.

  "Most don't."  Ranma stated simply.  Kicking off from his cabin 
towards the bridge he
said, "So are we going to look into this other bounty or not?"

  ----------

  "You think you're something, Hibiki?"  Came a rather annoying voice.

  Looking back Ryouga noted the speaker appeared to be of more coreward 
descent.

  "Why?  Do you lack something?"

  The other trainee struck out with a fist, and felt it impact something 
that felt more like
Durasteel.  He stared numbly at his fist when Ryouga's fist came up and 
sent him flying.

  Just then an instructor came rushing in.  "What happened here?"

  Before Ryouga could say anything the other trainee cried out, "He hit me."

  "Really?!  What's your side of the story, Hibiki?"

  "He tried to provoke me, and attacked first."  Ryouga tried to explain.

  "I sense you speak the truth.  Take pride in your actions, you will 
find no recriminations
here.  It is the way of the Universe that the weak envy the strong's 
strength and seek to
humble them to their level.  The Sith do believe it is the 
responsibility of the strong to
hide their strength and play along with the weak to appease them."

  Turning towards the other trainee he said.  "You on the other hand 
have proved yourself
unworthy of the Sith.  Trainee Hibiki you may dispose of this weakling 
as you will.
Show him no mercy, he doesn't deserve it."

  "I can't stand picking on the weak, sir."  Ryouga said doubtfully.

  "Showing others mercy is a path to self-destruction.  Others merely 
wish to use your
power for their benefit.  If you show them compassion they'll just use 
you to further what
they want.  In doing so you take on their problems, their conflicts 
taking away that which
makes them grow.  Thus they become stagnant and weaker."

  Murray Cole stared in fear, which quickly turned to relief as the 
instructor left.

  ----------

  Ranma groggily pealed himself out of his sleeping bag.  By the time 
Ukyo had checked
the bounty, arranged the meeting, and gotten landing clearance it had 
been bordering on
nightfall as far as the ship and thus her captain were concerned.  Thus 
they were presently
cruising through hyperspace at reduced velocity so they could get plenty 
of shuteye
before they got there.

  Keying open the door Ranma entered the main cabin, which now was under 
a artificial
gravity just slightly above what was comfortable, if you weren't using 
the Force to
enhance your bodies performance, and moved swiftly towards the refresher 
unit.
Thanking the Force that it was presently unoccupied Ranma entered and 
proceeded to
empty an uncomfortably full bladder.  Sleepily looking around he noted 
that as expected
the unit was not set up for use by multiple species.  As a matter of 
fact it was the most
compact and cramped full-fledged refresher unit he'd ever seen.

  Pulling his pants back up and cleaning his hands Ranma keyed open the 
Refresher door.
A seeker hung menacingly in front of him and alarm klaxons seemed to be 
ringing in his
head from some directed sound source.  Turning around Ranma noted that 
the seat was
still up.

  ----------

  A female instructor was overseeing the Training Room as Ryouga entered.

  Turning to him she asked, "Are you lost, or looking to get some 
training in?"

  Not willing to admit he had gotten turned around coming back from the 
restroom
Ryouga said, "Training."

  The instructor stared at him intently before shrugging.  "We have 
convicts shipped in
here to allow our students to help refine their techniques on."

  "Convicts?"  Ryouga asked.

  "Convicted murderers, rapists, you get the idea.  Instead of them 
executing them locally
they send them here.  They are something of a limited resource so you're 
limited to three
for this week."  The instructor explained.

  Ryouga paused.  These were clearly criminals who deserved to die if 
they'd been
convicted the lowest of the low, the kind of scum who clearly needed to 
be brought to
justice.  He mentally battled with himself a moment between backing out 
and admitting
he was lost or going through with this.

  Finally he said, "Actually I'd like to know the way back to dormitory."

  Nodding with a smirk the instructor gave him the appropriate directions.

  ----------

  Madoi was a relatively unimportant planet.  As one of the minor trade 
centers it saw
plenty of traffic, but the colony world itself didn't really have much 
offer.  The
establishment that was the preset meeting place resembled many similar 
ones common
throughout the galaxy.  These watering holes were universally places for 
someone or
something to come in, relax, and have a drink.  They also tended to have 
a sort of
underground culture of their own.

  As they entered they were assaulted by the body odor of creatures from 
a hundred
worlds, and the numerous chemical concoctions they considered a pleasant 
intoxicant.  A
holographic stage had a recording of some Bith band playing to the 
accompaniment of
holographic Twilek dancing girls.  Ukyo herself personally found these 
displays
distasteful.  For the life of her she couldn't figure out what was so 
particularly attractive
about them.  They had weird skin colors and two hunks of fat hanging off 
the back of
their head instead of hair.

  A quick scan revealed only one figure in the dignified robes of the 
Jal Shey, their
contact.  Taking a seat Ranma put down his holo-projector and 
manipulated the controls
so it displayed the figure of Akane Tendo.

  "Yes that's her."  Said the woman.  Her voice was tired, and filled 
with resignation.
"What is she up to now?"

  "It appears she's joined the Sith.  This was taken on Callamar, where 
she apparently
was arranging for several shipments of produce.  My friend here's best 
friend apparently
was... convinced to go along with her."  Ukyo explained.

  The woman sighed with resignation and pulled back the hood of her 
robes.  "Then it is
as I feared.  The more I think about it the more I realize I always 
knew, I just wasn't
willing to admit it."

  "Come again?"  Ranma asked.

  "A Matukai?"  She said noting the distinctive tattoo forming a kind of 
artificial
eyebrow, with legs curling down to the sides of the eyes on Ranma's 
face.  "That would
make sense.  I fear that if my sister is involved your friend is already 
lost, but I get ahead
of myself.  Why have you come here?"

  "I intend to save him."  Ranma said.

  The woman had a bitter smile on her face.  "Then allow me to tell you 
a story.  There
once was a man with three daughters, all strong in the Force.  They 
lived in a sector of
the galaxy that was beneath the Republic's notice.  Thus it was that 
they were not
dragged off to Coruscant, to be instructed in the ways of the Jedi.  One 
day however a
member of the Jal Shey Order happened to be passing through, and 
discovered the girls.
The man pleaded with the Jal Shey for them to trained so they could be 
something
greater, and the Jal Shey agreed.

  The middle daughter, lets call her Nabiki, however was lazy and lagged 
behind her
other sisters.  One day the youngest asked her, "Nabiki, why shouldn't 
we use our
passions?  Mommy made cookies with the passion of her love and they were 
always
good."

  The middle daughter did not know how to answer this question, so 
simply informed the
youngest that their teacher would not approve.  Many years would pass, 
and eventually
finished with his lessons and in need elsewhere the teacher left. 
Everything always
seemed to conspire to go in the youngest's favor except for one thing. 
The oldest
daughter who had taken on the role of housekeeper and mother after their 
real mother's
death had attracted the favor of a man that the youngest was enamored with.

  One day much to everyone's surprise the oldest died.  The cause of 
death appeared to
have been caused by a heart attack, despite the girl's young age and 
good health.  Oddly
most passed it off merely as an odd accident.  It wasn't long after that 
the youngest began
openly seeing the man.  There was talk they would marry, and her father 
was most
pleased.

  The couple however became more and more reclusive.  The man's medical 
career, once
so promising closed down.  It wasn't until one of the youngest's friends 
came by and
found the house abandoned except for the man that anyone realized there 
was anything
wrong.  The man's mind had been destroyed so that he could barely even 
take care of
himself or muster any will of his own.  The youngest however had 
disappeared, and she
was not seen again.  As the years went by people began to question some 
of the things
they'd done, and the remaining middle daughter tried to put the pieces 
back together of
what happened."

  "Mind control powers, huh?"  Ranma commented idly.

  "It would appear so."  The woman replied.

  "So did the middle daughter blame herself for the youngest?" Ukyo 
asked, keeping the
question tactful.

  "The youngest was always prone to fights, rivalry, and fits of anger. 
  Everyone said it
was just a stage and that she'd grow out of it.  No one bothered to 
really discipline her
instead praising her for one thing or another.  After a period of time 
it appeared they were
right, she ceased becoming physically violent and outwardly angry."

  "But you don't believe she actually stopped."  Ranma observed leaning 
back in his
chair.

  "No, I believe she found what she thought was a better way striking 
where they had no
defense, and no one could see.  I believe she fell to the Dark Side at 
some early date and
none of us suspected it until it was to late.  She only truly slipped up 
once, when she
found something in her way she couldn't just manipulate.  Yet even then 
everyone had
become so conditioned that the suspicion of foul play never arose until 
she had left."
Ranma allowed himself a smile as he noted her slip up.

  "Do you have anything that could help us?"  Ranma asked.  As far as he 
was concerned
he'd heard enough history.

  "Most likely she took your friend to Korriban, a world that should 
have remained lost.
There is a Sith Academy in that dark place.  Korriban has consumed many 
Jedi, and a
planet full of Sith is not to be taken lightly."

  "I'm not going to leave him behind."  Ranma said levelly.

  "So you intend to save him?  Fight through hundreds of armed Sith and 
just turn your
friend back to the way he was?"

  Ranma sighed.  "How much?"

  As Ukyo turned to Ranma with a look of confusion the woman named her 
price.  "200
credits."

  "And that gets me?"  Ranma asked.

  "This amulet that belonged to me dear departed elder sister."  She 
explained.

  Ranma made an annoyed sound.

  "About that bounty you posted."  Ukyo mentioned

  "Oh yes, here's one hundred credits and the amulet."

  "The bounty was for five hundred credits."  Ranma observed.

  -----------

  "Is something wrong?"  Ukyo asked as they left the Catina.

  "Couldn't you feel it?!"  Ranma said exasperated quickly whirling 
around.  As his brain
caught up with his mouth he said, "Great, now _I'm_ making a fool of 
myself."

  "Do I at least get a hint?"  Ukyo asked as Ranma went back to 
purposefully striding on.

  "She is Jal Shey."  Ranma said as if that should be enough.  "We need 
to get moving."

  ----------

  Ryouga sat in his room gathering and refining his rage, his 
depression, and his pain as
he focused it.  He could feel it, the plane of true power he had been 
denied.  Finally he
could _see_.

  ----------

  Ukyo found Ranma practicing some katas in the main gallery as she came 
down from
the bridge.  They were now on course to a planet were she had some 
contacts that could
help them to be able to travel in Sith space without getting shot at 
every step of the way.

  "Echani forms?"  She asked.

  "No."  Ranma shifted into another kata.  "This is a Echani form."

  "So you feel like talking yet?"  Ukyo asked.

  Ranma sighed.  "The Jal Shey were Jedi that decided to break away 
because they
viewed their counterparts as to aggressive and caught up in the mystical 
aspects.  They go
to the extremes of using the Force with one's mind trying to 
intellectually understand it.
They also are a bunch of arrogant scum that have an unnatural knack for 
convincing other
people their view is right and they're wise.

  That one stunk of greed and self-absorption.  Even in simple 
negotiations she was trying
to use mental influence of her own."  Ranma slightly sped up his forms 
as he talked
before bringing them back under control.

  "It seems a little more personal then just that."  Ukyo commented.

  Suddenly an alarm claxon began to blare.  Ukyo's eyes bugged out in 
realization.

  "We've been interdicted."

  Ukyo made a run for the bridge, strapping herself into her seat.

  "T2-S9, what do we have?"  She said as she brought weapon systems, and 
combat
shields online preparing for battle.

  The utility droid beeped a response dutifully as Ranma made his way 
into the bridge
and commandeered a seat.

  "The Blue Thunder is interdicting us and we have six fighters in 
bound?"  Ukyo asked.

  T2-S9 beeped in confirmation.

  "Now that's just insulting."  Ukyo flipped a switch and suddenly the 
cockpit was filled
with a type of aggressive music that seemed oddly appropriate.

  "The warship is holding station, fighters are closing."  Ranma 
commented reading the
scopes.

  "Well we'll just have to go greet them won't we?"  Ukyo commented as 
she brought the
ship around so it was on an attack vector.  Manipulating several 
controls the rapidly
growing specks of the Sith fighters became highlighted on the viewport 
as targeting
systems locked onto them.

  Ranma heard the roar of the Justice's guns as they stitched out at 
extreme range towards
the incoming fighters laying down a track of red fire.  Checking the 
scopes Ranma saw
one of the fighters disappear.

  As the range further closed Ranma saw a pair of missiles streak out. 
Regaining their
bearing the remaining Sith fighters began to open fire.  While 
technically Ranma could
not hear the actual sound of these bolts in space, all modern craft 
carried a built in system
that simulated the sound thus not depriving the pilot of a valuable 
sense, and promoting
situational awareness.

  Ukyo jinxed the Justice as the bolts got closer.  Those bolts that 
actually did manage to
hit just spanged off the deflectors.  Focusing on one group as she 
pulled the Justice out of
a complex evasion pattern she opened fire.  At this range the first 
fighter was immolated
before he knew what hit him.  His partner tried to evade, but the 
tracking system and gun
traversal capacity were too much for him.

  As Ukyo pulled the Justice around the last remaining Sith fighter took 
a place on their
tail.

  "You think that's going to save you, sugar?"  Ukyo commented, just 
managing to keep
the vast majority of the bolts from impacting.

  Ranma suddenly felt the normal comfortable forward thrust of the 
engines disappear
replaced a strong sense of spinning.  Staring as the star field seemed 
to be spinning
impossibly fast he heard the roar of the Justice's guns and felt the 
remaining fighter cease
to exist, its pilot in a state of stunned disbelief.

  Feeling the engines brake their spin it finally occurred to Ranma what 
was going on.
He had heard about this.  The Republic had their ships designed so they 
mimicked the
way the moved in atmosphere in space.  It was said to cut down on 
training time.
Mandalorian ships were not however limited by such things, and their 
pilots were known
to be able to pull seemingly impossible maneuvers because of it.  From 
what he had
heard the Republic had experimented with trying the same thing, but 
found it took
considerable training before not simulating atmospheric flight became a 
real asset.

  Ukyo let out a whoop of triumph as the comfortable forward thrust of 
the engines
returned.  Looking at the chronometer Ranma noticed it had taken only an 
amazingly
short time to immolate the enemy fighters and get back to getting out of 
here.

  "The Sith warship is opening fire."  Ranma observed as an alarm 
started beeping.

  "Sithspit."

  While it was possible to evade a warship concentrating entirely on a 
vessel such as this,
when it had all its guns oriented towards, you filling all of 
surrounding space with
colored death the chances of success went to almost zero.  Ukyo oriented 
the vessel so
the top of their ship was facing towards the Sith warship as they tried 
to make an escape
from its interdiction field weaving a complex pattern through the storm 
of colored death.
This way their smallest, properly sloped cross-section faced the enemy 
as they made as
direct a line as possible for the limit of the interdiction field.

  Ranma gritted his teeth as a bolt hit the rear deflector.  As Ukyo 
pulled through a
maneuver that exposed more of the Justice's backside it was hammer by a 
cluster of
turbolaser fire crippling the rear deflector.  Ranma physically pulled 
back, arms askew, as
another red bolt deflected off the deflector screens right in front of 
the viewport.

  Ranma could only watch mesmerized as another cluster of red bolts 
headed for them.
As Ukyo tried to keep them from getting overwhelmed they scored a 
glancing hit on the
Justice's rear taking out the rear deflector and causing damage.

  "We're losing power."  Ranma reported, as the console in front of him 
started beeping
and displaying damage reports.

  "Sithspit.  I'm going to have to put her down."  Ukyo said, changing 
course.

  The Blue Thunder stopped firing as if in acknowledgement to fact they 
were now
limping towards the planet instead of trying to escape.  For that they 
could be thankful.

  ----------

  "Amazing, simply amazing."

  Captain Rehan Forn looked on with distaste as his "commander" 
continued his antics.
The fool's actions had already cost him six good men today alone.  If it 
had been the
"Furikan militia" he might not have cared, as much, but to have his own 
men pointlessly
sacrificed like this made him really begin to wish he could just space 
this excuse for a
human being and get on with his job.

  Of course, if he did get spaced his father would stop providing 
support and heads would
roll.  This obviously was what they were talking about when they said 
"some people are
alive, just because it is illegal to kill them," Rehan thought to 
himself.  The worst part of
it was that the Sith really did not really need said support, but some 
female Dark Jedi had
arranged it.  Then proceeded to arrange his ship to be under the loser's 
command
investigating this hellhole of a planet.  Which was only made worse by 
the way his men
were forced to sacrifice themselves to capture samples of the dangerous 
local fauna.

  "You said the captain was female, right?"  His superior asked.

  "Yes.  A human female named Ukyo Kounji, a bounty hunter."  Rehan said 
trying to
keep things short and to the point.  It usually kept his "commander" 
reasonably quiet,
which was to say the rants were a lot shorter.

  "Then she has earned the honor to consort with me."  The sicko declared.

  Rehan allowed himself a brief incident of what might be considered open
insubordination.  "Why would she want to, my lord?  You shot down her ship."

  As the fool proceeded to launch an extensive rant, Rehan regretted 
opening his mouth.

  ----------

  Murray Cole peaked around the corner.  His adversary appeared 
vulnerable, deep in
meditation.  It was the time to strike.

  Trying his best to sneak up on his opponent, he ignited his 
lightsaber.  Bringing up the
blade he brought it down quickly in a swing that would decapitate his 
adversary.

  Murray stared in open shock as his blow was blocked by what looked 
like an axe with a
segmented handle.  "How?" he stuttered out.

  "How could I _not_ be aware of you?"  Ryouga said as he got up from 
his meditative
pose, keeping his weapon between him and his opponent.

  Ryouga disengaged his weapon before delivering a short heavy blow to 
his opponent's
head.  As Murray blocked, his voice full of false confidence, he said 
"You can't defeat
me.  I have a lightsaber.  I am a Sith!"

  Ryouga coldly noted his opponent had apparently not caught on that his 
weapon had a
Cortosis weave built into it.  That however did not change the fact his 
adversary was
trying to kill him with a weapon quite capable of doing so.  Pulling 
back from the lock,
Ryouga feinted a heavier blow, and then delivered a quick blow with the 
back of his Wan
Shen as Murray moved to counter.

  As the metal sunk into flesh, brain case, and finally brain at the 
right temple, Murray
paused looking shocked.  After a moment passed, a thin trail of blood 
dripping down
from his forehead onto the thirsty stone, his stunned expression gave 
way to one of the
hysteria that was clearly evident in his eyes and voice as he declared, 
"I am invincible."

  Ryouga looked at his opponent in disgust and dismay.  He hadn't 
realized...  Suddenly
Murray was quickly slashing with his lightsaber, and Ryouga was forced 
to pull back to
avoid being dissected.  The blade however impacted on the Wan Shen's 
shaft driving it in
further, causing Murray to cry out.  Panting Ryouga realized he did not 
have a choice.
Rushing forward he ripped his Wan Shen clear before delivering a 
decapitating blow that
managed to get through.

  He panted heavily as he saw the head try to breathe like a beached 
fish before going
still.  Still in shock at what at happened he could only stare.  The 
instructor's words
echoed in his head.  The weak will seek to humble you to their level... 
  Showing others
mercy is a path to self-destruction.  And here before him lay the proof.

  He felt the anger build, and it gave him clarity.  This was not 
picking on the weak, it
was justice.  Justice the Sith rightly wanted to bring to the Jedi for 
what they had done.
The Jedi who had stood by and done nothing while countless billions were 
slaughtered by
the Mandalorian's advance, and the Republic they defended which had sat 
on its hands
until the Mandalorians hit their member worlds.  The Jedi Order which 
stole children
from their mothers, so they could indoctrinate them from infancy, and 
would reject
anyone old enough to think for themselves.  Truly the Sith had the right 
idea.

  ----------

  Repulsorlift units built into rear of the Baker's Justice provided 
most of the control as it
began to land.  Helped by bursts from maneuvering thrusters located 
throughout the ship
it put down on its side in a smooth controlled fashion landing in an 
open clearing.

  Ranma felt the harness biting into him as they hung from their seats. 
  Reaching towards
the center of his chest he unbuckled himself before using the straps to 
swing around
behind his seat.

  "Show off."  Ukyo commented as she followed him down the D-ring lined 
passage to
the hatch.

  ----------

  "We have the parts, but it's going to take a week to make proper 
repairs."  Ukyo
commented after assessing the damage.

  "Can't you just patch it?"  Ranma commented doing his own casual 
assessment from
the side.

  "With a warship hunting us, we're going to need full power to get out 
of here.  A patch
job to that relay just isn't going to cut it."  Ukyo said shaking her head.

  Tapping a button on her armband she said, "T2-S9 you're in charge of 
the ship.  We're
going to scout out the area to make sure we're safe here."

  Ranma followed her into the foliage.

  ----------

  "Seems kind of marshy around here."  Ranma commented looking 
distracted as if trying
to listen to something he could barely hear.

  "No bugs though."  Ukyo commented.  "Well, I don't see evidence of 
anything
particularly dangerous.  Let's get back to the ship."

  Tapping another control on her armband she followed a holographic 
arrow pointing
back towards the ship.  She however failed to notice Ranma's agitation 
as he kept looking
around searching for something that just managed to elude his senses.

  Suddenly the arrow wavered and disappeared in static.  There was the 
sound of an
explosion, and the tweet of blaster cannons firing.  A series of chirps 
emitted from
Ukyo's armband before being drowned out in static.

  "No way.  We were only gone..."  Ukyo paused as she read her 
chronometer, it
indicated only a few minutes had passed.  "Oh great.  They no doubt 
already reported
they'd found the ship.  This place is going to be swarming with Sith in..."

  A bestial roar rang out as a three meter tall charged out of the 
underbrush.  Ukyo fired a
shot at the things head blowing off a sizeable piece of flesh, but it 
only made it madder.
Realizing the thing was to close to be messing around with Ukyo ran, 
getting ahead of
Ranma as they fled from the thing.  Its wide tusked head seemed to lack 
any sort of eyes,
ears, nose, or other obvious means of tracking them, but still it 
pursued them.

  Ukyo noticed a coming valley up ahead as they continued to flee.  Its 
expanse covered
by dozens of disorderly little pools.

  "The Dark Side is particularly strong down there."  Ranma commented 
apparently not
exactly strained by the pace.

  Looking at the dense vegetation on either side Ukyo commented, "Do we 
have a
choice?"

  "Not really."  Ranma said as they began to make their way down the 
path down the
valley the creature not far behind.  "Find cover.  It's after me."  Well 
if he insisted.

  Stopping, Ranma turned around and pulled the cylinder from the back of 
his belt.  Ukyo
heard the distinctive sounds of an extendable weapon deploying, along 
with the
distinctive hum of a vibroblade.  Diving bodily into some underbrush she 
heard the
creature roar and the distinctive sound of something being hit _hard_. 
Just as she turned
around inside her cover, pulling her blaster out ready to take a full 
power shot when the
opportunity presented itself, she saw her companion flying through the 
air his short
trajectory intersecting a nearby pool.

  The beast plodded the remaining distance to the pool leaning over it 
seeming to study it,
but avoiding contact.  Ukyo jumped back as Ranma suddenly shot out of 
the pool driving
something that looked like a spear through the creature's skull far 
enough it protruded
more from the top then from the bottom.  Rolling as he landed behind the 
creature Ukyo
could see Ranma pull out a blaster and shoot the thing blowing out a 
sizeable chunk of
flesh.  Predictably this seemed to just make the thing madder still.

  Ukyo, forgot about her blaster, as she just stared as Ranma ran around 
the valley
jumping around in a bizarre show of acrobatics, always just getting out 
of the things
grasp as he kept shooting it.  She couldn't decide which was more 
bizarre, that the thing
just would not die or Ranma's antics.  Finally, Ranma landed on top of 
the things head
and ripped the spear from the creature's skull, before pointing the 
blaster down into the
resulting hole and firing a three shot burst.  As the things hands came 
up he jumped off
landing a fair distance behind the creature.  It staggered clumsily for 
a moment as it took
a step to turn around, before finally collapsed.

  As Ukyo approached she could see Ranma eject a spent magazine before 
pulling
another from within his robes and slamming it home.  With a florish he 
holstered his
blaster, before picking up the "spear."

   "Ewww, Gross"  Ranma commented, after examining the residue left on 
the weapon,
making a face.  The entire weapon was coated with dark blood and clumps 
of what
probably had been the thing's brain were stuck to it.

  "You're pretty good with a blaster."  Ukyo commented as Ranma went 
over to a nearby
pool.

  "Martial arts alone can't keep you from getting killed."  Ranma 
commented kneeling in
front of the pool and washing the crud off the weapon, changing to color 
of the pool to a
slightly darker hue.  Now that it was clean Ukyo could clearly see it 
had a segmented
nature to it, as was to be expected with an extendable weapon.  A press 
of a button and
the entire thing compacted down the familiar cylinder in a fraction of a 
second.  Ranma
stowed it back in its place within his sopping wet robes.

  Shifting gears his equipment now properly back in its place Ranma 
paused, looking
confused as if he had entered a room and knew instinctively something 
was out of place.
Ukyo became concerned when for a minute he seemed to zone out. 
Something seemed
inherently off about Ranma, and given their present situation that could 
be a very bad
thing.  She'd heard stories of what the Sith were capable of, and most 
certainly didn't
want to confirm it first hand.  Ranma had afterall said this place was 
strong in the Dark
Side.  Apparently returning to reality all Ranma said was, "Oh."

  Looking around he began gathering up wood.  Considering that Ranma's 
robes were
soaked through this seemed a logical enough course of action.  Whatever 
it was, was
probably nothing.  If this place had truly begun to effect her companion 
surely he'd not
be acting so docile.

  As they finally set a fire, Ranma looked at her intently as if trying 
to gauge something.
She could guess what he was thinking.  Of course, it wasn't like she 
hadn't seen a naked
guy before.

  His face and voice agitated by embarrassment Ranma said,  "Ukyo 
there's a favor I
need to ask."

  While she had a pretty good idea she still asked, "What kind of favor?"

  Ranma finished moving closer to the fire and putting his dark green 
over robes on a
framework they'd constructed near the fire.  What was underneath was a 
sopping wet off-
white material.  As Ranma turned around Ukyo finally took a good look as 
opposed to
averting her gaze.

  "Ukyo when we get out of this can you teach me how to be a woman?"

  Ukyo just stared too stunned to speak before, in a way that didn't 
allow for argument,
saying, "Explain.  Now."

  "Sith Alchemy, probably the result of that dip in the pool."  Ranma 
said quietly shyly
looking down and away like some nervous school girl.

  "You seem to be taking this all amazingly well."  Ukyo deadpanned.

  "Matukai are taught to be flexible."  Ranma said with a hint of pride, 
still not looking at
her.

  "Riiight."  Ukyo deadpanned.

  They sat in front of the fire for a few minutes before Ranma seemed to 
get antsy.

  Reaching up to the elastic collar of her shirt she pulled it away from 
her chest and
looked down.

  "You know, they aren't as interesting as I thought they'd be."  Ranma 
commented.

  Ukyo didn't comment.

  Letting the collar resume its proper shape Ranma held her breasts as 
if weighing them.
Looking over at Ukyo she asked, "Hey Ukyo, do you think I have bigger 
breast then you
do?"

  Ukyo did a reasonably good job of keeping herself under control.  "Maybe."

  Pulling her pants down Ranma bent over looking at her nether regions. 
  "So that's what
that looks like."

  Ukyo grabbed Ranma's head by the pigtail with one hand and her pants 
with the other
pulling both up.

  "Is there a problem?"  Ranma asked innocently.  As a matter of fact 
she looked
completely innocent, curious instead of perverted.

  "Cut the strip tease, okay?"  Ukyo said.

  "Oh, okay."  Ranma said as she turned her head to the side.

  Ukyo paused not feeling entirely sure why this entire situation seemed 
particularly
grating to her.  Certain elements she could easily understand, but others...

  "Hey Ukyo, can you tell me about this 'that time of the month thing' 
I've heard about,
girl to girl? "

  Ukyo stared.  'I'm not having this conversation.  I'm not having this 
conversation.'
Ukyo kept repeating to herself.

  ----------

  Ryouga stood before Master Uthar.  He had been summoned before him 
although he
had not been given a reason.

  As Master Uthar stood from his usual meditative pose he held out the 
familiar cylinder
of a lightsaber.  "You have earned this, young one.  You have shown that 
you recognize
our way that of strengthening ourselves through conflict, and avoiding 
the weakness of
showing others mercy in following the true nature of the universe and 
being what we
were meant to be."

  Ryouga regarded the cylinder disinterestedly arms crossed.  "I do not 
need it."

  "Perhaps you refer to your Wan Shen, young one?  It will not be taken 
from you, but I
assure you that you will find this graduation present most useful."

  "Graduation present?"  Ryouga asked as he uncrossed his arms.

  "Yes, your progress has impressed me, and I welcome you as a Sith into 
our academy."
Uther said nodding as he held out lightsaber again.

  Taking the cylinder Ryouga nodded.  "Thank you.  I don't know what to 
say."

  "Of course, there are some exams before you will be considered a full 
Sith, so keep up
the good work."  Master Uthar said before assuming his usual meditative 
pose, the
conversation effectively over.

  ----------

  Ukyo wasn't sure what to make of her companion as she put her robes 
back on.

  Part of her was convinced her friend must have fallen into the Spring 
of Drowned
Airhead, who was killed in a very tragic story that involved said 
airhead getting on her
companions nerves to the point they ditched her in the pool.  The other 
part thought that
was plain stupid.

  She started to tap the buttons that would activate a indicator to lead 
them back to the
Justice before remembering the events leading up to this bout of 
weirdness.  If the ship
was still there it would have been seized by the Sith, and they'd just 
be waiting for them
to come back for it.

  Ukyo slammed her fist into a tree in frustration.  "This is not 
happening to me."  She
said almost as a sob.

  "It'll be okay."  Her companion said trying to console her.

  "Okay?!  Okay?!  What part of us being stranded here isn't getting 
through your thick
skull?!  Don't you get it?!  They have our ship, damn it!  And the worst 
part is I'm not
sure which would be worse, having them capture and torture us, or 
becoming the local
wildlife's chew toy!"  Ukyo paused, breathing labored after finishing 
her outburst clearly
agitated.

  "Well look on the bright side, now it's just us girls so you don't 
have to worry so much
about me taking advantage of you."  Ranma said cheerfully, putting on a 
dazzling smile.

  Ukyo felt the strong urge to strangle her companion, before feeling it 
go out as she
realized the futility of it all.  "Oh forget it, we're dead anyway." 
Ukyo said as she felt
apathy begin to overcome her.

  Ranma looked sadly at her companion as she walked off dragging her 
feet as she
trudged along.  If only she could come up with something to cheer Ukyo 
up.  Suddenly
Ranma got an idea.  Making sure her companion wasn't about to get 
herself lost, Ranma
bound off.

  Ukyo looked back, noticing her companion was no longer behind her. 
She paused a
moment before going back to trudging along.

  ----------

  Ukyo kept trudging along.  It didn't matter anymore.  She was as good 
as dead.  With
no ship they weren't going to escape.  That left being captured or a 
death caused by the
local wildlife.  Capture by the Mandalorians had not been a pleasant 
experience, although
she had learned many things from it.  She knew enough from what she had 
heard of the
Sith to know she didn't want to be captured by them.

  A blur moved in the corner of her eye.  Rapidly turning around Ukyo 
drew her blaster
and fired.  A creature that bore a strong resemblance to a cat lay 
twitching in its death
throes after it hit the ground.

  "I have _not_ been through all this, just to be killed by _you_!"  She 
declared giving the
creature a quick kick, sending its corpse flying in the process. 
Whirling around Ukyo
sensed she was surrounded.

  ----------

  Ranma looked around the inside of the cave.  It seemed perfect.  As 
far as she could tell
it was abandoned, and she had explored its entire length.  Looking an 
ocher colored gem
reflecting the sunlight she pressed a button that just extended the 
blade of her Wan Shen.
As it hummed she chipped away at the surrounding rock before pulling the 
gemstone
free.

  Suddenly she heard the distinctive sound of a blaster shot ringing 
out.  Remembering
Ukyo Ranma rushed out stowing the crystal in her pocket.

  ----------

  The sound itself hadn't lasted long enough for Ranma to get a proper 
bearing off of it,
but she didn't need one.  Tracking Ryouga down routinely had honed her 
tracking skills
to the point she could pick up Ukyo's trail from where she remembered 
her last being and
follow it.  Eventually making her way to a clearing she spied a pair of 
female sentries.
Approaching them she waved the universal sign for wanting to talk, a 
white flag.

  Ranma couldn't be sure if they recognized the signal, wanted her to 
put her pants back
on, or they just had orders to bring her before a higher authority, but 
they escorted her
into the village.  Eventually they brought her before a woman with a air 
of authority.  She
was taller then her with dark purple hair, something not unheard of in 
humanoid species
although certainly not common.  The woman emitted a series of chirps as 
Ranma pulled
her pants on.

  Ranma looked at her with head tilted before saying, "My friend came by 
here, have you
seen her?"

  The woman emitted an agitated series of chirps grabbing a pair of 
sticks with large
metal spheres on them and waving them menacingly.  It was clear she was 
picking a
fight.

  "I guess I could spar with you."  Ranma said disarmingly, hands in her 
pockets as she
leaned slightly back casual as could be.

  The woman chirped waving a stick clearly indicating she wanted Ranma 
to follow.
Dutifully following Ranma found herself at the base of a large log 
suspended by ropes.
The woman jumped on to the log impatiently.  Ranma followed suit. 
Fights on a log
usually followed a rather standardized set of rules, knock the other 
person off and win.
There otherwise tended to be little point bothering with the entire 
exercise, at least when
it was already setup like this.

  The woman waved one of the sticks while emitting a proud sounding 
series of chirps,
before charging forward.  Ranma simply leaned out of the path of the 
woman's first blow
before moving forward in a burst of speed and sending her flying with a 
standing vertical
kick.

  Just as the woman got back up from the surrounding forest floor, a 
small old creature
that looked like it may have once been a frog hopped onto the log 
emitting a series of
chirps, with a air of command.  A figure was shoved forward through the 
crowd that had
formed to watch the fight.  As it finally emerged Ranma was able to make 
out that it was
a male human, in a Sith uniform.  The old looking creature emitted a 
series of chirping
sounds.

  "You want me to translate?"  The male said apparently able to make 
sense of the chirps.

  The old creature emitted a short series of chirps, which Ranma suspect 
amounted to it
saying "yes."

  "You can speak Basic just fine, why do you need me, ghoul?"  The male 
said, before
getting smacked by a pair of nearby females.

  The creature emitted a short burst of chirps in explanation.

  "Don't you understand?  I love her."  The male said, but all the 
surrounding females just
regarded him coldly.

  The old creature emitted a series of chirps clearly agitated.  Ranma 
in one quick,
smooth motion drew her blaster, set it to stun, pointed, and fired. 
Shampoo let out a cry
of surprise before falling off the log, the sword in her hand dropped 
from nerveless
fingers.

  "There's dishonor in being caught unaware, but not in defeat, right?" 
  Ranma said
simply as she maintained her focus on the old creature and smoothly 
holstered her
blaster.

  "Shampoo."  The man said pitifully after overcoming his shock.

  Ranma sighed.  This whole situation was beginning to get on her 
nerves.  "Would
someone please explain what the meaning of all this is?  And maybe what 
planet this is,
because it wasn't on our charts."

  The old creature emitted a series of chirps, and the male looked 
thoughtful before
explaining.  "This is Moriban.  In the distant past a Sith Lord, came 
here and conducted
extensive experiments in Sith Alchemy.  We believe he may have been one 
of the
greatest masters of Sith Alchemy in history of its use.  These 
tribeswomen you see here,
the Joketsu as I call them, are the descendants of the servants he 
brought with him.  You
have defeated Shampoo, their present champion, and my love."

  The old creature emitted a series of chirps.

  The male paused a moment adjusting a pair of glasses in thought before 
translating,
"She says, the penalty for this stain on the champion's honor is death."

  The old creature's eyes went big when Ranma's arm became a blur and 
the humming
blade of a fully extended Wan Shen appeared scant centimeters above her 
head.  "I just
came here to save my friend, but if I have to _kill you_ to do it, I 
will."  Ranma said
coldly.

  The creature emitted a series of chirps not taking her eyes off of Ranma.

  "She says that the old laws don't apply to you, that you have magic. 
I believe she
means by that you can use the Force.  She says to tell you your friend 
will be returned to
you, and to spare her."

  A bound Ukyo was brought to the forward of the crowd.

  "Give her back her weapons, and equipment."  Ranma said, an edge in 
her voice.

  The creature emitted a series of chirps and they were carried to Ukyo 
after her bonds
had been cut.  Turning to the male the creature emitted further chirps.

  "She asks if that is all?"  He translated.

  Ranma paused a moment before tapping a control retracting her Wan Shen 
back into its
usual cylindrical form.  "Yes."

  The creature emitted one loud squawk and the strange tribal women 
rapidly disappeared
into the foliage, taking their champion and the male with them.

  Ukyo paused a moment after strapping her gear back on as Ranma made 
her way
towards her.  After a moment of silence she quietly said, "Thanks."

  "Don't mention it!" Ranma said thumping her on the back.  Ukyo winced, 
but smiled.
"I found a place we can stay."  Ranma said enthusiastically.

  ----------

  Ranma paused on their way back.

  "Uhm... Ukyo I need to..."

  Ukyo could tell from her companion's body language what she needed to 
do.  Waving a
hand she said, "Go on.  I'll wait here."

  "Thanks," Ranma said as she ran off.

  ----------

  Ranma pulled her pants slightly down as she found an appropriate tree. 
  Then did a
double take as she realized she was missing a critical piece of 
hardware.  She paused for a
moment before pulling her pants further down and squatting.  Then paused 
as she
realized she was commanding a group of muscles to release that didn't 
exist on this body.

  Using her Matukai training she centered herself before diving into 
herself to find the
appropriate muscle group.

  ----------

  Shampoo sat nestled in the boughs of a tree observing her adversary as 
she tried to go.
The matriarch had been clear.  Now would be the best time to strike 
while her opponent
was lulled into a false sense of security.  Sensing that her opponent 
was now more out of
it she silently as possible pulled the string of her bow back holding 
the shaft of the
poisoned arrow notched there.  Taking a bead on her opponent she allowed 
her breathing
to stop as she steadied herself and released the arrow.

  She stared in shock as her adversary seemed to accidentally fall just 
in time to avoid the
arrow.  Now was the time to withdraw.

  ----------

  Ranma pulled herself off the ground rubbing her abused rear.  She had 
suddenly had a
premonition of danger, and had allowed her body to do what it needed to 
avoid it.  She
just wished it had been a little more cogniscent of the surroundings.

  Now knowing the proper muscles, she quickly did her business, noticing 
an arrow stuck
in the tree in front of her.  It appeared she wasn't out of trouble yet.

  ----------

  Ukyo surveyed the interior of the cave.

  "Well it looks okay, but the entrance seems kind of big with all the 
critters."  She
commented.

  "Don't worry, I found some rocks we can use to block up the entrance." 
  Ranma said
smiling.  Ukyo looked at her companion oddly for a moment before shrugging.

  ----------

  Lieutenant Arrigin oversaw his troops scouting of the area.  They had 
managed to
capture the vessel intact, but so far the crew had managed to elude them.

  Private Uln signaled he had found something.  Approaching Arrigin 
could make out
what appeared to be the remains of a fire.

  "What do you think?"  Arrigin asked.

  "It could have been them, or it could have been the locals, sir. 
Seems pretty odd for it
to have been going when it was, either way.  Frankly I'm just glad it 
isn't an ambush,
after they dragged off Specialist Mousse who knows what they'd do?"  Uln 
said the
shaking of his helmet the only visible indication of his agitation.

  ----------

  Ryouga had decide to forgo a shirt after finally getting tired of 
messing with the collar
of the clothes he had been issued.  Entering the training room, he was 
distracted from his
intention to try out his new lightsaber on a live opponent, by the 
flashy display of another
student firing what appeared to be purplish lightning from his hands at 
convicts in cages
lining one side of the wall.

  Walking up to the on duty instructor he asked, "How do I do that?"

  The instructor paused before saying, "Force Lightning?  Well if you're 
willing to wait
until the other student is done I'll show you.  It's ideal for those 
times when you want to
torture your opponent as you destroy them instead of killing them 
cleanly.  We reserve
the child molesters, rapists, and what not for students to practice it 
on.  Do try to not go
too overboard."

  Ryouga paused momentarily unsure.  No, this was justice they rightly 
deserved and a
power he should not be denied.

  ----------

  Roasting some kind of fish she had managed to catch over a small fire, 
Ranma looked
over at Ukyo thoughtfully before saying.  "Have I told you about my 
friend Pixy?"

  Ukyo looked startled out of some reverie she was having staring out of 
the fire.  She
paused before saying, "No."

  "Well Pixy isn't her real name, but we all call her that.  She's the 
youngest member of
our monastery, and a feisty little thing.  I remember this one time we 
were in town there
were these two big guys, I mean tall brawny guys, who were arguing about 
something.
And here comes little Pixy and tells them that fighting is bad.  Well 
the two guys just
kind of stop and stare at her a few moments, before looking sheepish and 
apologizing to
each other."  After getting no response Ranma said, "Well I guess you 
just had to be
there."

  "So explain this whole Force thing. I've heard rumors, but what makes 
you Matukai, as
opposed to Jedi or whatever?"  Ukyo asked without preamble

  "Well...  There are basically three advanced schools of Force users. 
The Jedi, the Sith,
and the Matukai.  In order to use the Force a certain state of focus and 
level of control
must be achieved.  How this focus is achieved is the main dividing 
factor.  The Jedi use
primarily their minds in a sort of quasi-meditative state, although they 
often use a body
movement to help reinforce their control.  The Sith are basically Jedi 
that have decided to
use their passions.  The Matukai train their bodies to use the Force, 
through martial arts."

  "So the difference is just what your focus is?"

  "Partially, the Master had some interesting opinions on that."

  "Care to share?"  Ukyo said  looking interested.

  "She said that you could learn a lot about any particular sect of 
Force users by just
knowing what focus they used.  Take the Sith for example, she said that 
the way to
disrupt a Sith's focus would be to disrupt whatever passion they were 
using.  Anger of
course is the most common as even you should recognize the inherent 
power and ease of
use.  Thus if you break a Sith's rage, say by him feeling compassion, 
he's left himself
wide open.  So of course, naturally the Sith would abhor that which 
leaves themselves
wide open with their focus.

  The Jedi are the exact same way.  They need to have their mind in a 
state of reasonable
calm to use the Force.  Thus they can be disrupted by strong emotions, 
and anything that
breaks their concentration.  Thus the Jedi Masters dictate you will 
basically suppress your
emotions.  It's gotten so bad the stuck ups even deny that a Jedi feels 
several emotions."
Ranma shook her head before continuing.  "Their philosophy is dictated 
by their focus.
The Master even hypothesized that all the concepts of various sides of 
the Force was just
a bias from the lens the observer viewed the Force through due to their 
focus.  Different
focuses let you see different parts of one greater whole.  She liked to 
talk about it with the
Adepts, and ask us various odd questions that occasionally she'd use to 
give us an insight
into ourselves."

  "You didn't say anything about the Matukai." Ukyo observed.

  "Breaking the focus of a Matukai, particularly for an extended period, 
is rather difficult.
You could say that's our edge.  They're better at manipulating the Force 
because they
have more conscious control over it, but our focus is a lot harder to 
break.  By
emphasizing flexibility we compensate for getting hung up on things 
which can disrupt
our focus."

  "So how are you doing?"  Ukyo asked after a moment.

  "It's just not really hit yet."  Ranma admitted, while staring off 
into space.

  ----------

  As night approached and the temperature plummeted Ranma felt the heat 
leaving her
body and moving away from her limbs to her torso in a much more 
pronounced way then
normal.  It made sense in a way given what a female body was supposed to 
be able to do
that a male one could not.  Subtly using the Force and control of her 
own body Ranma
increased the amount of heat being produced by her body to compensate. 
Looking over
at Ukyo she could see she was shivering.

  "We can share my robe."  Ranma offered trying to keep her voice and 
expression
cheerful.  Hypothermia was no joke.

  Ukyo paused for a moment pondering the offer before nodding her head. 
  Taking off her
robe Ranma covered both of them with it as they huddled together inside 
the rock of the
cave, thankful it had retained the heat from the earlier fire.

  "So what can you tell me about these mind control power you Force 
users are supposed
to have?"  Ukyo asked after a moment unable to get to sleep.

  "Well for starters there isn't just one approach.  The normal way is 
to do this kind of
wave you use the Force with to temporarily induce a hypnotic state. 
Then you basically
give them a verbal command.  That's kind of the poor man's version, 
though."  Ranma
looked distant and disturbed for a moment, before finally saying.  "The 
heavier stuff is
exactly what it sounds like."

  "You seem rather disturbed about that."  Ukyo observed.

  "Shouldn't I be?  Have you never wanted to hurt or even kill someone 
and done it in
your head?  Have you ever wanted someone to acknowledge you were right, 
because you
thought you were?  If you control the Force with your mind the ability 
is right there,
always right there.  How can anyone truly resist the temptation to abuse 
it, ever?  What
happens if they get sick or in severe pain or something and they do 
something and that
makes it easier to abuse it the next time, and that much easier the time 
after that, and..."
Ranma paused before finishing quietly.  "That's why you can't trust 
Jedi, because their
ideals are too high for anyone to truly achieve.  At least the Matukai 
have a safety on it
and most of our stuff is just using it with our bodies."

  "Can you use that trick to help me get to sleep?"  Ukyo asked after a 
moment, it
becoming clear Ranma had said her piece on the issue.

  "Are you sure you want me to?"  Ranma asked hesitantly, clearly not 
that comfortable
with the idea.

  "I asked didn't I?"

  "Okay."  Putting a hand on Ukyo's shoulder Ranma concentrated for a 
moment before
saying, "Sleep."  In response to which Ukyo proceeded to pass into a 
deep sleep.
Leaning against Ukyo, Ranma set about getting to sleep herself.

  ----------

  Ukyo became aware as hundreds of little points of light peaked through 
the rocks and
illuminated the small cave.  Opening her eyes she realized that over the 
course of the
night she had somehow ended up embracing her companion, who was now 
snuggled up
against her.  It occurred to her that Ranma was actually smaller as a 
girl.  She pet the
other girl's dark hair slowly, as Ranma slept peacefully.  Ranma looked 
so vulnerable
like this.  Ukyo felt part of her feel the need to protect the smaller girl.

  Finally disengaging herself Ukyo got up and moved the rocks they had 
setup to function
as the cave's door.  Crawling out of the cave, she spent a few minutes 
admiring the
sunrise.  After a moment Ukyo looked critically at the water bladder 
stashed in with the
usual gear she carried around.  If her Mandalorian survival training had 
taught her
anything it was the need to have drinkable water.  Boiling the blood of 
animals was one
of the better tricks as you got extra protein and salt with your fluids. 
  Of course,
apparently with the way Matukai used the Force they considered the 
otherwise harmful
bacteria in water that had not been disinfected to be free protein.  Or 
at least that was
what Ranma said when she just went and drank the water the fish had been 
swimming in
yesterday.

  Ukyo decided she would have to ask if those powers would help with 
determining what
plants and animals were edible and which ones weren't.  With their ship 
captured,
effectively marooning them on this planet it was time to dig in their 
heels and insure they
could survive for an extended period.  None of their other problems 
would matter if they
starved to death after the first week, or died of dehydration after a 
few days.

  Taking stock of the supplies on her Ukyo decided it would be best to 
go ahead and get a
head start on setting up some traps and snares to catch the local 
wildlife.  Water could
wait, for now, and it would probably be best to wait for Ranma to wake 
up before doing
too much with potentially edible plants.  Of course, she could collect a 
few of the more
promising looking samples, while setting up her traps.

  ----------

  Ranma noticed that Ukyo seemed more alive as she left the cave the 
next morning.

  "So why aren't the Matukai helping the Republic in this war?"  Uky 
asked cheerfully,
without preamble.

  "Matukai don't really train to fight, per say."  Ranma said a little 
sheepish.

  "But they practice martial arts and you have those Wan Shen things." 
Ukyo insisted.

  "We use martial arts to learn to use the Force."  Almost to quietly 
for Ukyo to hear she
finished.  "Wan Shen are really meant to be tools that can double as 
weapons.  In a real
fight someone would just pull a blaster.  We can't block those, we 
aren't even trained to
deal with them.  All we can do is hope the skills we've developed with 
the Force are
sufficient to keep us alive."

  "So in other words you can look cool, but it has little practical value."

  "Well they are good at keeping us alive in survival situations." 
Ranma piped in
innocently arms behind her back.

  "Come here."  Ukyo pounced on her companion, who emitted an eep but 
didn't
struggle.  Ukyo rubbed her knuckles on her companion's skull a few 
minutes before
letting her go and saying, "You can just be too nice sometimes.  Is that 
resistance stuff of
yours good enough you could test the edibility of plants?"

  "I think so, why?"  Ranma asked naively.

  "Well I have some things for you to try out then."  Ukyo declared as 
she pulled out a
bag.

  ----------

  Surprisingly almost half of even the promising looking fruits turned 
out so poisonous
Ranma had to forcibly expunge and neutralize the toxins from the minimal 
quantities she
had put in her mouth to test them, instead of being able to avoid 
serious ill effects by just
spitting them out.  The few species of flora that actually turned out to 
be safe enough for
consumption by a normal person now had numerous specimens piled up 
inside the cave.
Even these were not without residual chemicals that could have 
detrimental effects from
sustained consumption.  Ukyo felt it was probably better to have Ranma 
test any plant
before taking a bite herself after finding out just how much of the 
promising looking stuff
was poisonous.  At least Ranma had ways to survive and deal with it, 
she'd just be dead,
incapacitated, or seriously ill.

  The one rabbit-like creature Ukyo had managed to catch in time for 
lunch, possessed a
hard exoskeleton and was so downright vicious it was hard to believe the 
thing was a
herbivore.  The fact it had pronounced claws and sharp teeth only 
further made the
animal seem an abomination.

  "This reminds me of one of my outings with Ryouga."  Ranma said as the 
little animal
was being roast on a spit, its dead body still twitching around.

  "Really?  How so?"  Ukyo asked as she tried to decide whether the 
thing actually had
some kind of well-protected secondary nervous system or it just 
naturally squirmed
around this much after it died.  Part of her wanted to blast the thing a 
few times, to make
sure it was dead, but that would mess up the meat, and she felt like 
having some meat
with her lunch.  Especially as they hadn't yet found any vegetable type 
plants they could
use.

  "Well the thing you have to understand about Ryouga is that he has a 
bad sense of
direction.  So one day me and Ryouga were supposed to run some errand or 
another to
some place he had been before.  I was focusing on something, I forget 
what, so I wasn't
checking on where Ryouga was going.  Next thing you know we're lost and 
it's getting
dark.

  At this point Ryouga decides we're somewhere in the deep uninhabited 
remote
wilderness.  So we go and catch a rabbit.  Well he smacks the thing on 
the head and its
squirming and screaming like crazy.  So here I am thinking this thing is 
really doing the
chicken running around with its head cut off thing to the extreme, when 
what does he do?
He starts petting it, and then I find out the big guy didn't have the 
heart to actually hit it
hard enough to do anything.

  So morning comes, and guess where we are?  In Tesee's rabbit farm on 
the outskirts of
town.  Well Ryouga, turns out to be attached to his new friend and turns 
around and pay's
Tesee for it.  Him and that rabbit were like best buds until a year ago 
when it went up and
died on him.  Ryouga wasn't the same for a month afterwards, insisted 
that it get an
honorary Matukai burial and everything."  Ranma finished shaking her 
head in
amusement.

  ----------

  Ranma perched herself over the watering hole Wan Shen in hand.  The 
most difficult
part of this was waiting in a way so as to not disturb the fish, and 
making sure to
compensate for the water bending the light.  As a particularly hearty 
specimen passed by
she fingered a control causing it to be speared.  This would make a good 
dinner.

  ----------

  As dusk approached Ukyo and Ranma snuggled together under the thick 
green cloth.

  "Could you?"  Ukyo asked quietly.

  "Okay."  Reaching out a hand, Ranma concentrated a moment before 
saying, "Sleep."

  Snuggling up against her unconscious companion Ranma felt a feeling of 
inner warmth
as she decided she had found a friend she could put her trust in.

  ----------

  "So do you have any good stories?"  Ranma asked over their breakfast 
of fish and
scavenged edible plant matter.

  Ukyo paused a moment looking thoughtful before saying, "I have plenty 
of stories, but
I'd rather forget most of them.  As would the galaxy, I think."  She 
said with a sigh
clearly having a brief bout of melancholy.

  "What makes you say that?"  Ranma asked.

  "I fought for the Mandalorian Clan Fett in the war."  Ukyo stated 
before clarifying.
"They captured me, trained me, and I ended up fighting for them.  I was 
with them until
almost the end, though."

  "I'm sorry, I..."

  "Don't worry about it."  Ukyo said with a sigh.  "Thing is I'm more 
affected by
abandoning my squad at the end then the devastation I wrought.  I can 
still remember my
first time out.  The Mandalorians send the raw recruits out in Basilisks 
to soften up a
target's defenses ahead of everybody else.  It gives them a chance to 
prove themselves
without being overshadowed by the more experienced members of the clan, 
and it weeds
out those who don't make the cut.

  I can remember it so clearly, hanging above a world just seeming to 
awaken as its
defenses come online.  The euphoria of flying through the guided 
munitions and beams at
full burn, before flipping and coming to a hover above the ground with 
scant meters to
spare.  We crippled their defenses, and then we crushed them.  I can't 
even remember
what the planet was anymore, but I've flown that mission a hundred times 
in my
dreams."

  ----------

  Colonel Cutton read a report that had just come in to the local base 
they had established
on this planet.  The present Sith overseeing the research on this planet 
had just signaled in
that he was going to join in the search for the missing crew of the 
Baker's Justice.  Cutton
couldn't help but consider this a little odd.  He hadn't known Yun that 
long, but what he
did know was that the lad didn't take well to what he considered common 
work.  He was
constantly looking for something to test himself against, which was why 
for the past
month he'd been somewhere in the jungle.  In between transmissions to 
fetch this or
capture that they couldn't even be sure if he was alive or dead.  The 
only thing he could
figure is their quarry was more dangerous then they appeared in some way 
that had
caught the lad's interest.

  Cutton stood up and walked to the heavily reinforced window behind his 
desk.  At least
the bigger critters had decided to stop vaporizing themselves on the 
base's shield.  Cutton
sighed as he saw some of his soldiers shooting some creature that had 
managed to burrow
under their defenses.  He hated this planet.

  ----------

  A figure jumped into Ranma and Ukyo's path covered in dark robes.

  "I'm Yun.  I've never met a Matukai before, but based on your Order's 
reputation I have
high expectations."  Yun declared confidently brandishing his crimson 
bladed lightsaber
in a standard guard position.

  "Then prepare to face the ultimate anti-Sith technique developed 
through the years by
the wisdom of the Matukai."  Ranma declared in a grandiose manner as she 
palmed her
holoprojector.  Taking care to not look at it directly she touched a 
special switch as she
brought it out.

  "It's so cute."  Yun said as his lightsaber dropped out of guard position.

  Trying to maintain her own best innocent cute act Ranma moved as 
quickly as she
could up to the Sith, before knocking him out with one chop.  The 
overwhelming power
of Pixy's cuteness, in a holo taken of her in a costume that had stunned 
multiple people
with its cuteness back when, had rendered his focus null and his 
attention elsewhere.

  "The Matukai's ultimate anti-Sith technique is that?"  Ukyo deadpanned 
after Ranma
turned it off.  She had barely seen Ranma move, but the "technique" 
itself was so...

  "It works."  Ranma said simply, before admitting.   "Well at least it 
works if you can
exploit their focus and attention being disrupted for like a second.  If 
the distraction wore
off they probably just be madder for you trying."

  "You know what they're going to do if he reports back about this, 
right?"  Ukyo said.

  "I can picture it now.  It's so sad, and it will just make them that 
more vulnerable to it."

  ----------

  Asuza Shiratori ran around in circles.  They were burning her 
collection of valuable
cute stuff.  The collection she had spent decades acquiring.

  "How dare you."  She said finally stopping in front of the pair of 
Sith soldiers
overseeing the incinerator.

  They paused a moment, and looked at each other before picking her up 
and tossing her
bodily into the incinerator.

  ----------

  "You have a weird mind."  Ukyo commented.  "Who was that girl anyway?"

  "No clue.  So what do we do with him?"  Ranma asked pointing at the 
comatose Sith.

  "I say kill him.  If he gets back he'll report our relative position, 
and we won't have long
before they capture us."  Ukyo said, her voice flat.

  Ranma paused a moment before saying.  "I have a better idea."

  ----------

  Shampoo climbed down from her perch to inspect the still unconscious 
Sith, who her
adversary had tied up to a tree with a excessive amount of vines. 
Looking at his scribbled
on face she paused a moment before drawing her sword, and cutting the 
male's head off.
It was the duty of the strong to cull the weak.  Picking up her own 
piece of charcoal she
wrote what once may have been Sith characters on the male's forehead 
before placing his
head under his feet.

  ----------

  "See."  Ranma whispered after the purple haired amazon left.  "She's 
been following
me around since I defeated her."

  "I guess her tribe doesn't value honesty."  Ukyo observed.

  ----------

  Ranma paused in the bushes as she approached the watering hole to 
catch some more
fish and refill the bag containing water in need of or in the process of 
being disinfected.
The Force told her to wait, so she did.

  With a cry that tore through the sky a giant winged, and clearly 
predatory, creature
landed.  It's red eyes, fangs, vicious claws, and general demeanor made 
it seem more
demon then a animal.  Just as it bent down to take a drink however, 
tentacles shot out
from the underbrush grabbing and restraining it.  Ranma just looked on 
in stunned
disbelief as what was clearly a plant pulled the giant predator into a 
gapping maw that
was slowly exposed as surrounding plants were forced out of the way. 
The plant fired
what looked like a spread of poison darts, stunning the struggling 
creature, before finally
pulling it into its maw.  As the sound of meaty chewing echoed through 
the clearing as
Ranma decided it was probably best to find some other watering hole to 
use for the time
being.

  ----------

  "I'm a gorilla."  Ranma declared in a voice that one would be hard 
pressed to take
seriously, before beating on her chest and laughing.

  "What's that supposed to be?"  Ukyo asked looking amused.  Dinner had 
already been
prepared, eaten, and cleaned up after.  They were just keeping 
themselves occupied
before turning in.

  "Ancient technique for reducing stress and promoting good health. 
Come on why don't
you try?"  Ranma said pausing her gorilla imitation.

  "No, I'm fine."  Ukyo said waving her off.

  "Come on you'll feel better afterwards."  Ranma insisted.

  "Okay."  Getting up so she was standing next to Ranma she assumed a 
similar pose.
"I'm a gorilla."  She declared imitating the inflections Ranma had 
chosen and copied the
maneuver, while Ranma joined her.

  ----------

  Ranma watched as the roasting fish crackled near the fire.  They were 
almost ready to
eat, and then they could break the morning fast.  After she was sure 
they were ready she
hand a skewer to Ukyo before taking the other one for herself.

  "Feel like talking some more about the war?"  Ranma asked quietly 
after a moment.

  "Well I could tell you about my ship.  We usually worked in groups, 
but it was our job
to eliminate the fighter screens around enemy capital ships quickly and 
efficiently.
There's nothing quite like firing a spread of concussion missiles and 
watching entire
squadrons just disappear off the board.  If we had any missiles left 
after we took out the
fighters we'd use them to hit targets of opportunity on the enemy 
capital ships.  Which
isn't to say we weren't hitting them hard with our guns or proton 
missiles if they didn't
have one of their deflectors weaken or go out.

  There is one thing you can't deny after fighting with Mandalorians, 
they kick ass.
Those ships are designed so that they crew six, but one person can fly 
the thing all by
themselves.  Usually we just had three shifts of two people, although I 
heard some of
other ships worked with two shifts of three.  In the last days of the 
war when it started to
become clear the Republic could win, I stole the ship while the rest of 
my crew was
elsewhere...  I betrayed their trust.  I... I can still hear them in my 
dreams."  Ukyo said
clearly becoming emotional.  "The worst part is the other people in my 
clan that I've met
forgave me for what I did.  I don't deserve forgiveness for what I did. 
  They relied on me,
trusted me, and I betrayed them so utterly..."

  Ranma felt helpless not sure what she could do as she watched Ukyo 
breakdown in
front of her.  After a few moments she walked over and gave Ukyo a hug, 
unable to think
of anything better.  As Ukyo began to calm down Ranma suggested they 
take a walk.

  ----------

  Suddenly getting a premonition of danger Ranma pulled off her over 
robes and raced
between Ukyo and what turned out to be a small swarm of poison darts 
setup to fire when
something tripped an almost invisible tripwire.  Due to their 
construction, and the
minimal amount of momentum they possessed the darts ended up getting 
stuck in the
thick cloth.

  A sound like an animal growling emerged from the bushes.  Ukyo jumped 
back as an
object was tossed out hitting Ranma and causing a cloud of something to 
surround her.
There was the distinctive hum of a vibroblade, a meaty thump, then 
silence.

  As the cloud dispersed she could see Ranma standing in her under robes 
looking at a
familiar purple haired amazon who was nailed to a tree by Ranma's Wan 
Shen.  It
appeared to be driven straight through what was probably the heart, 
although it was hard
to tell as Ranma's over robe obstructing her view as it hung on the Wan 
Shen's shaft.

  The amazon chirped in what sounded like defiance, with her face 
contorted in disbelief,
as blood ran down darkening Ranma's over robes.

  "You can't poison me that easily."  Ranma said, her voice filled with 
resignation.

  The purple hair girl seemed to understand what Ranma was saying and 
slumped a little,
letting out a final chirp that sounded sad and resigned.

  "I'm sorry, it had to be like this."  Ranma said as she watched the 
life fade from the
purple haired girl's eyes.

  Slowly and carefully Ranma pulled her Wan Shen out of the corpse 
letting it down with
as much respect and dignity as she could.  A quick inspection of her 
over robe made it
clear the piece of clothing was ruined.  Wiping the blood off her Wan 
Shen onto it, she
retracted and stowed her weapon.  Ranma took a few minutes to forcibly 
shake her over
robe to knock the darts out of it and then proceeded to wrap the purple 
haired girls corpse
in it.  Picking it up she respectfully carried it to a area where the 
rock was relatively flat,
and set about burying the girl under a pile of stone.

  Ukyo looked on quietly while Ranma did this.  She had, had to bury 
enough friends and
enemies herself.  It was the honorable thing to treat the dead with 
respect, and those who
did not were below scum.

  Finishing a silent prayer over the grave Ranma took her Wan Shen out 
again, and
extended it.  Depressing a control and rotating the last segment on the 
bladed side she
slowly retracted the weapon's blade.

  "What are you doing?"  Ukyo asked, after a moment.

  "There's been enough killing.  She pursued me this far merely because 
I defeated her.
Killing any more of them will probably just stir them up that much 
more."  Ranma said in
resignation as she pulled out a cap and installed it, making it so her 
weapon now looked
like nothing more then a common extendable quarterstaff.

  ----------

  Cologne observed the burial of her descendant with detachment, hidden 
within the trees.
She could have the body retrieved later.  For now, there were other ways 
to strike at
someone.

  ----------

  "So what now?"  Ukyo asked as they huddled together shivering as the 
temperature
plummeted.

  "Well..."  Ranma made some adjustment using the Force and control over 
her own body
and proceeded to begin producing an excess of heat.

  Ukyo became concerned as she felt her companion heat up to almost 
feverish
temperatures warming her in the process.  "Are you okay?!"

  "Don't worry."  Ranma waved a hand, the movement showing signs of 
tiredness.  "I'll
be okay."

  "Don't strain yourself."  Ukyo insisted.

  "I'm not."  Ranma said slowly.  "It just wears you out after a while."

  Ukyo paused for a moment before deciding to trust in her friend to 
take care of herself.
Whatever all this was doing to her she was doing to keep both of them 
alive, and was
clearly determined to do so.  To harass her further would serve no good 
purpose, and at
this point all she really could do was trust her friend and keep an eye 
on her.

  ----------

  Akane regarded her servant with a sigh.  It was so _boring_ after 
someone broke to her
will.  They became so dependant upon you it was simply to inconvenient 
to keep them
alive.  Reaching out a hand she used the Force to strangle her newest 
servant.  She would
just have to ensnare a new one.

  Ignoring the sound of breaking cartilage Akane's thoughts drifted to 
her newest love
interest, Uthar Wynn.  He was the one.  He would be perfect after she 
corrected a few of
his more annoying habits.  Like not recognizing her womanly traits by 
calling her,
"young one."

  ----------

  Lieutenant Arrigin of the Sith cruiser Devestator, stood with his men 
in the shiny full
body armor of the Sith outside the cave that was supposed to house their 
quarry.  A
messenger from the local tribe of warrior women had approached the base, 
and told them
tales of their quarry.  Most of it likely fabricated or exaggerated for 
their benefit.

  Now he and his squad were positioned where they could catch their 
quarry early in the
morning, while they were still in the process of waking up.  Scanning 
the trees Arrigin
gave an order to make sure that all weapons were set to stun as dawn 
began to break.
This had better not be an ambush, Arrigin though to himself.

  The first person to emerge from the cave looked like many a street 
ruffian that could be
found on various planets.  Except for her odd choice in melee weapons, 
likely due to
idolizing the Echani there wasn't anything requiring extra attention. 
As tired and out of it
as she looked he doubted she would give them any trouble.  The urchin 
looked sheepishly
as a second girl emerged from the cave, her bounty hunter gear clearly 
marking her as the
more dangerous of the pair.

   "I am Lieutenant Arrigin, surrender and you will not be harmed."

  "Yeah, right.  I've heard all about what you do with your prisoners." 
  The bounty hunter
declared coldly.  While at least half the rumors were in fact true on 
standard Sith
interrogation techniques, the other half being propaganda either from 
the Sith to
intimidate or the Republic to demonize, the commander had different 
plans for this pair.

  "He means it."  The urchin said quietly clearly giving differing 
command decisions to
the bounty hunter.  Arrigin decided to keep quiet so as to allow this to 
play out.  It would
make matters that much easier if they came along willingly.  It wasn't 
like they couldn't
stun them before they could draw, but with all the animals around it was 
more convenient
to have the prisoners travelling on their own feet, and as soon as possible.

  "What do you mean?  He means it?"  The bounty hunter asked turning 
towards her
companion, futily trying to keep her voice low enough they couldn't pick 
it up.

  "Call it an instinct."

  The bounty hunter spent a few moments glancing back and forth between her
companion and his patrol before she took off her gun belt and a 
bandoleer of what
appeared to be spatulas, holding them out in a sign of surrender.  A 
second later her
companion unbuckled her utility belt holding it out.  Knowing better 
then to let his guard
down, Arrigin signaled one of his soldiers to cautiously move in and 
confiscate their
weapons while the rest of the patrol covered him.

  "You will take good care of them."  The urchin said, as Sergeant Konn 
confiscated her
weapons.

  "Don't worry, I will take good care of them."  Konn replied.

  ----------

  After being searched, and taken on a shuttle up the main ship they 
were brought before
the Captain of the ship.

  "I am Captain Forn of the Sith cruiser Devestator, and I must 
apologize for this entire
incident.  Of course you probably know this ship better as the..." 
Captain Forn trailed
off, unable to come up with the proper name.  "What is he calling my 
ship now?"  He
asked a nearby tech.

  "The Blue Thunder, sir."

  "Ah yes, the Blue Thunder."  Captain Forn deadpanned, clearly 
unimpressed with the
name.    "My commander has got it into his head that we should waste 
resources by
keeping an interdiction patrol running, despite this being a system we 
want to keep secret.
The end result is this system is the worst kept secret it Sith space. 
Luckily for you,
you're both girls.  I could explain why, but it's probably best you see 
for yourselves."
Turning around he led the way as a pair of Sith soldiers took up the rear.

  "It's so big."  Ranma commented, her voice and disposition such she 
came across as a
complete airhead.  Ukyo inwardly cringed, she was doomed.

  A tall handsome man in an elaborate costume stood at the center of the 
bridge surveying
the expanse of stars.  Turning around he said, "Greetings, I am Tatewaki 
Kuno, Heir of
the Carridian [Furkian?/Furikan] system.  You two have proven worthy of 
consorting
with my greatness."

  Ukyo crossed her hands over her chest.  "Why would I want to consort 
with you?  You
dragged my ship here, shot it down, made me have to survive a week on 
that hellhole
thinking I was stranded, and now you expect me to want to consort with 
you?!"  Ukyo
declared clearly pissed off.

  A sound of suppressed snickering could be heard from the crew pits.

  "But I'm Tatewaki Kuno."  He said as if that made all the difference.

  Ukyo's eyebrow began to twitch before she lunged forward putting him 
in a chokehold.
Pulling a small shiv from the inside of her mouth she put it up against 
Kuno's throat.

  "I'll kill him."  She declared, maneuvering him so he was between her 
and the people
who were armed.

  Ukyo felt something cold run up and down her spine.  The crew's 
reaction was wrong,
they were surprised, but...

  "My lovely dame..."  She sent the fool into unconsciousness with a 
blow to the head.
The crew paused a moment as if to make sure the commander was actually 
unconscious
before breaking out in applause, crying "Kill him."  It completely 
covered the sound of
several objects rolling up to the lip of the crew pits, and falling down 
before continuing
on their merry way.

  "Go right ahead."  Captain Forn said calmly from across the bridge. 
"You have no idea
how we've suffered under him."

  Ukyo stood uncertain.  This wasn't how it was supposed to go.  This was...

  "Hey, its time to go, Ukyo."  Called out the familiar voice of her 
companion.

  Ranma stood leaning casually against a bridge console pointing a pair 
of blasters at the
Captain.  The Sith soldiers who had been guarding the bridge lay in a 
heap.  As the crew
in the bridge pits began to focus on this new threat they were torn to 
shreds by several
grenades going off in their midsts.  This left the Captain, Ukyo, and 
Ranma the only
people on the bridge not dead, dying, or unconscious.

  The Captain slowly put his hands behind his head.  "Very clever, so 
where were you
intending to go from here?"

  Ranma tossed a blaster to Ukyo, who caught it allowing the unconscious 
Tatewaki
Kuno to slide to the floor.  Walking past the captain she relieved him 
of his sidearm
before moving to another console.  Rapidly typing she said, "Well in 
about two minutes
this ship is going to have an emergency lockdown.  Anyone who is still 
out, except the
three of us, will be stunned by your battle droids.  I'm presently 
purging your system of
all the data related to us including internal holo logs, and sending a 
tapeworm to the local
base computer.  So the plan you could say is for you to allow us to 
escort you to the
armory were we will retrieve our gear, your droid shop where we will 
retrieve our droids,
and then finally to the hangar were you will see us off."

  "And what incentive do I have to help you?"  Captain Forn asked stoically.

  "Other then not dying?  You just lost your bridge crew, and have had 
your ship taken
over.  I thought you were looking for a legitimate excuse to get rid of 
your commander."
Ranma commented coldly.  "I think the better question is, what is my 
incentive to not
activate your automatic self-destruct while I'm at it?"

  ----------

  Akane felt a life under her influence go out.  A quick mental 
inventory revealed it to be
Kuno, who she had put in the Moriban System to study its secrets.  With 
a start she
realized this would make her look vulnerable and worthy of attack once 
word of it got
out.

  She became acutely aware of all the Sith surrounding her, lying in 
wait to increase their
power and influence.  Her mind control powers took time to do more then 
suggest with
this bunch.  Regarding the lightsaber on her belt she realized she 
couldn't remember
when she had last practiced with it.

  ----------

  Ranma shucked her clothes off as she entered the refresher unit.  Ukyo 
had already had
her turn at the shower, claiming first dibs as captain of the ship. 
Ranma sighed as she
entered the cramped shower stall.  Being personally responsible for the 
death of the
thousands of people who had been on that ship didn't sit well with her. 
  Ranma allowed
herself to hit the wall of the stall in frustration, making sure to 
prevent the Force from
being involved.

  She felt sullied and unclean.  Sure, she'd killed before, but never 
before had her
opponent seemed so helpless.  It had always been clear they were going 
to kill you,
before.  This time she could have left them alive, could have gotten 
away without
destroying the ship.  That the Sith fleet would have been after them, or 
the ship could
have turned around and went after them again, if they hadn't was small 
solace to her
more of just a mental justification then anything else.  She'd been on 
ships enough to
know just how many something that big held, and that most crewmembers 
just went
about their usual routines, and weren't even related to the combat 
detail.  Thus it didn't
change how she felt, but maybe a good shower would bring some solace. 
Reaching for
the sprayer that would dispense hot water she pushed the trigger 
mechanism dousing
herself in hot water.  Soaping herself up she paused as she reached for 
her chest before
screaming.

  ----------

  Ukyo sat languidly in her command chair, in a pair of shorts and a 
t-shirt, staring at the
blue chaos that was hyperspace through the viewport.  It was good to be 
off the hellhole
of a planet.  She had set course for Carmalia after a brief discussion 
with Ranma.  The
Sith hadn't repaired the damage to their ship and she insisted the short 
jump to Carmalia
to fix it was necessary, wouldn't add to much time to the trip.  They 
were presently
running on a backup circuit at reduced power, but she didn't want to 
push her luck with
it.  There was no tertiary backups for that system, and having your 
sublights cut out in
enemy territory was never fun.  Either you were killed, captured, or 
your buddies would
mercilessly harass you about it until you obtained better dirt on them.

  As she leaned back with her hands behind her head just as she began to 
let her eyes slip
closed she heard a scream.

  "T2-S9, you're in charge."  Ukyo said as pulled herself out of her 
chair and flew down
the corridor.  She could hear his beep of confirmation as she entered 
the main cabin.  A
quick scan of the surroundings revealed that her companion was neither 
in the main cabin
or her quarters, which left the refresher unit.  Quickly entering a 
override code.  Entering
the refresher unit she quickly was able to figure out that Ranma was in 
the shower stall.

  "Are you okay?"  She called out.

  "Don't come in here."  Came back what sounded like Ranma's voice but 
off somehow.

  Pulling back the partition Ukyo found a male Ranma standing there, who 
backing away
managed to hit the triggering mechanism for the cold water dispenser 
dousing him, now
her.

  ----------

  "So it appears you change gender depending upon the temperature of the 
water you're
doused in."  Ukyo commented after some experimentation with Ranma 
sitting in the stall
with a towel covering his/her lap.

  She waved her hand in front of his face after getting no response and 
noticing Ranma's
shell-shocked expression.

  "Anybody home."  She said lightly tapping Ranma on the head with her 
knuckles.

  "Huh?  Wha?"  Ranma said.

  "You seem a little out of it."  Ukyo commented.

  "Oh?  I guess so."  Ranma said disinterestedly.

  "I thought you would be happy to be able to change back."  Ukyo said 
trying to be
supportive.

  "That's just it, don't you see?  As long as I thought I had just been 
transformed so I was
stuck as a girl I could deal with it.  I could put up a good front, 
while I came to terms with
it and possibly eventually got used to operating from the other side. 
Now...  Now I'm
just some kind of freak."  Ranma curled up into the fetal position as he 
finished.

  Ukyo sat with her back towards him having put away the water 
dispensers.  "Well
you're a Matukai right?"

  Her response was a mumbled yes.

  "And Matukai are supposed to be flexible, right?"

  Ranma mumbled something.

  Tilting her head to the side Ukyo said.  "So why don't you show some 
of that flexibility
here?  You've lived enough years as a man to know how they think, why 
not continue
what you were doing?  Learn more about being a woman, while in the 
process learning to
deal with your curse."

  Ranma made a dismissive sound.

  "Oh come on.  It's not like I'm asking you to be one or the other. 
I'm just asking you to
be yourself and accept what you are now, which means sometimes you're a 
woman and
sometimes you're a man.  You know you're going to have to learn to deal 
with it and be
able to function."

  There was no vocal response, but she could feel that she had her 
companions attention.

  "How about this?  We extend our stay at Carmalia to at least a day, 
and let you get
yourself sorted out?  You aren't going to be any use if you go to 
Korriban and you're an
emotional wreck."

  "Thanks."  She heard Ranma say quietly as he got up.  As he left the 
stall Ukyo reached
back and pulled down the cold water dispenser taking careful aim she 
doused her
companion, who jumped at getting hit with cold water, squealing.

  "Let's keep it just girls for now, okay?"  Ukyo said as she put the 
dispenser back in the
stall.

  ----------

  Ranma felt herself become aware in what looked like a forest.  Turning 
around she saw
a pack of wolves.  Her attention zoomed in on one that was injured, and 
she somehow
knew she was responsible.  She also was somehow aware of the 
overwhelming hunger of
the wolves.

  The rest of the pack surrounded the injured one, keeping their 
distance lying in wait.
The injured one made a show of looking intimidating with its fur 
completed fluffed out
and its hackles raised.  Finally one of the pack moved forward, but 
quickly retreated
when the injured one made a show of viciousness in a clear show of 
cowardness.  A wolf
behind the injured one took this as its opportunity to pounce and soon 
the entire pack was
ripping the injured one to shreds.

  Stripping the corpse bare they turned to her.

  Ranma awoke in cold sweat breathing heavily, taking a moment to 
realize where she
was before deciding it might be a good time to get some training time in.

  ----------

  Ukyo docked the Baker's Justice with what was clearly a large 
spacestation.  Among
the usual com traffic containing docking instructions was another 
transmission.

  "How's my old buddy doing?"  Came a human voice in crisp Mandalorian.

  "Friend from the war."  Ukyo explained in response to Ranma's 
questioning look.
Pressing the talk button Ukyo responded in Mandalorian, "I've just 
managed to escape a
hellhole of a planet, and my ship needs repairs."

  There was a pause before the voice responded, "I hope they came out 
worse then you
did."

  "It was a Sith warship, called the Devestator, and now it's a debris 
field."

  After a pause the voice responded, "How did you manage that?"

  "Well, I had some help from a friend.  I'll introduce you later." 
Ukyo said finishing
docking maneuvers.

  ----------

  "You're a lot cuter and shorter then I thought you'd be.  You look 
like something
someone would just eat up."  Said a large man bearing the tattoo of one 
of the
Mandalorian clans.

  "That what makes her so dangerous."  Ukyo said giving a wink.  "So, 
how long to fix
my ship?"

  Looking over a diagnostic uploaded to his datapad Arvid, pondered its 
contents for a
few minutes before saying, "Five hours.  I do however have some other 
jobs I'm working
on, so if you're in a particular hurry it's going to cost you extra. 
Otherwise I'll have it
ready by tomorrow morning.  You might as well go ahead and wheel out the 
cart."

  Ukyo nodded saying, "I'll do that.  So how have things been here?"

  "Quiet.  With the way the Sith keep hitting ships though I have plenty 
of work.  If it's
not some scamp wanting better protection, it's someone limping into 
system needing
repairs."

  "Well it was good to see you, Arvid."  Ukyo said, shaking his hand.

  "Guess I'll be seeing you later then.  Don't be a stranger now." 
Arvid said walking off.

  "Cart?"  Ranma asked.

  "Well yes, the bounties don't exactly line themselves up at your 
convenience, you
know.  So I run a yattai every now and then.  Speaking of which, we need 
to get you
some new clothes."

  Ranma looked down at somewhat tattered clothes that were now more 
brown and green
then off-white, before looking up and asking, "Why?  We're not trying to 
impress
someone are we?"

  Ukyo paused a moment before saying, "Yes, we are.  Don't worry, 
together with our
combined cuteness we'll reel in enough customers to turn a nice profit."

  ----------

  "Hey look at me.  I'm an arrogant overrated martial artist."  Ranma 
commented
facetiously sticking her tongue out at the mirror as she modeled some 
robes common
among the Echani.

  Ukyo exited the nearby dressing room in a cute, yet highly practical 
outfit.  That she
had already bought, after going through her own selection process.  "Are 
you sure you
weren't born a girl?  How many outfits have you tried on so far?"

  "You're just jealous."  Ranma said twirling around.

  Ukyo sighed.  Oh sure, it had been a little difficult to get Ranma 
shop for clothes
initially, but once she had gotten into it...  "I'll get you two outfits 
here, and that's it.
Hurry it up.  We have a schedule to keep, and I have customers that 
aren't paying me to
fill their stomachs because you're holding us up."  Ukyo finally aid 
tapping her foot.

  "Oh, phooey."  Ranma said before picking out two outfits from a rather 
sizeable pile
and making a line for the dressing room.

  ----------

  Ranma stood to the side in the cute dress she had picked out as Ukyo 
opened a
compartment built into the wall of the main cabin.

  "I didn't know those compartments were there."  Ranma commented, 
looking over
Ukyo's shoulder as she pulled the partially disassembled cart out.

  Not looking up from guiding it to the ramp Ukyo stated simply, "That's 
because you
haven't spent much time on this ship.  Supplies, cleaning equipment, and 
other things are
all within their own appropriate compartment.  This one was meant for 
extra cargo, which
we usually used to carry spare parts or extra missiles during the war. 
Now I use it to
store my yattai.  Come on."  Ukyo's voice came from the bottom of the 
ramp as she
finished.

  ----------

  "Get your hot, delicious Okanomiyaki, right here!  Today only!"  Ukyo 
declared like a
regular street hawker.

  Ranma hung her data pad on her belt as she picked up several plates to 
deliver to
customers.  They had set up in a food court that already had the tables 
and chairs set up.
All manner of creatures had come in and a significant number of them had 
decided to
partake of their offerings.

  Putting the plates in front of their appropriate customers Ranma 
pleasantly said, "Enjoy
your meal."  All the while making sure to smile and be as pleasant as 
possible.
Otherwise Ukyo was going to have a fit, and give her another little 
lecture on customer
service.

  ----------

  Ranma sat languidly in a chair after the crowd finally dispersed and 
people went back to
their normal routine.  It had been just hustle and bustle since they set 
up, her taking
orders, serving, and taking the payment, Ukyo constantly cooking.

  "Is it like this everytime?"  Ranma asked as Ukyo disassembled her yattai.

  ""What's the problem, all that training not prepare you for working in 
a restraunt?"
Ukyo asked.

  "I never told you about Callamar's Spring Festival, did I?"

  "Not that I can remember.  I've heard about the festival though."

  "Well it's actually a rather involved thing.  Four musicians are 
chosen from our order
each year to play four instruments relating to clouds, thunder, rain, 
and wind.  It is said
that the reason that particular part of Callamar is so fertile and her 
crops so productive is
because of our presence there, and the festival."

  "So that's why they're so respectful towards your Order."  Ukyo observed.

  "Well the Jedi do send their less successful member to help maintain 
crops, and we do
use the Force to try to bring things into balance.  Of course, in 
addition to that and a few
other ceremonies where we try to ensure good crops, there is this entire 
festival around it.
Most of the stuff is from the locals, but we maintain a few booths 
including a small
restraunt to sell goods and raise funds.  The thing is I've never been 
felt up, hit on, and
harassed like this.  It just made me feel downright gross inside." 
Ranma clarified.

  Ukyo felt sheepish.  "Well now that you're a girl part of the time, 
you'll have to learn to
deal with that kind of attention, so it was a good learning experience, 
right?"  Ukyo said
hoping her companion would go have her attention redirected.  She hadn't 
really meant to
expose Ranma to that, and didn't feel like admitting it if she didn't 
have to.

  "I guess."  Ranma said looking doubtful.

  ----------

  Ranma, now male, walked the streets of Carmalia in a functional unisex 
outfit Ukyo had
bought him in addition to the dress.  They felt kind of weird after so 
long wearing the
more traditional robes of a Matukai, but he had his utility belt and his 
weapons, so he
didn't feel naked.  Allowing his mind to wander Ranma realized that 
while he might not
appreciate everything about his curse, it was something he could live 
with.  Afterall he
had already spent most of his as a guy, and he had been willing to adapt 
to being made a
full time girl, so it wasn't that big a deal to change back and forth. 
Not that he was really
comfortable with the notion just yet, but he knew he could live with it.

  Pausing in front of a refresher unit, he realized living with it might 
not be as simple or
straightforward as it at first seemed.

  ----------

  "Well, hello there."  Arvid declared as Ukyo and Ranma entered his 
workshop.  "Don't
worry, my techs are installing the parts now."

  As Ranma turned slightly Arvid got a good look at the cylinder 
strapped to her back.
"Echani, right?"  He said pointing.

  Realizing what he was pointing at Ranma pulled it out and depressed a 
button extending
both sides.  Suddenly realizing she hadn't set it back for lethal combat 
yet she removed
the cap and made the necessary adjustments.

  "Nice."  Arvid comment appreciatively.  "We Mandalorians usually tend 
to be a little
dismissive of Echani stuff, because they have a habit of not having 
sufficiently powered
weapons, or sufficiently protective armor.  Not to mention half of their 
stuff's so fragile it
would flat out breakdown on the battlefield.  That there, on the other 
hand, is a nice
weapon.  Clearly Echani, and shows what they can do when they put their 
minds to it."

  "Thanks, I had an Echani weaponsmith, who was an old friend of mine, 
help me make it
before he passed away.  You certainly seem to know a lot about weapons." 
  Ranma said.

  "That's because it's my business to know a lot about them.  Kind of 
hard to repair
something if you've never even seen the thing intact.  Besides it pays 
to at least know
what the major ones are and the associated styles.  Know what I mean?" 
Arvid asked
winking.

  "So how much is it going to be this time?"  Ukyo interjected, calmly 
standing off to the
side half paying attention to all the activity going on around her.

  "Well it is just a relay, and a small armor patch.  300 Republic 
credits or the equivalent
should do it.  Anymore then that and I'd be ripping you off, considering 
your droid did
half the work."  Arvid said grinning.

  A tech came over as Ranma and Ukyo left.

  "Do you think those two are more then friends, sir?"  He asked 
innocently, cleaning
some grunge off his hand with a rag.

  "Sure, they are.  Can't you tell they're buddies?  Those two have been 
through enough
hell they instinctively rely on each other.  It's a wonderful thing to 
see."  Arvid said
beaming.

  "Actually I meant..."

  Arvid cut him off.  "Get your mind out of the gutter, and back to work 
before I fire you.
People these days.  You can buy a 2 credit whore on any planet in this 
galaxy, but the
universe will only let you have a few buddies if you're lucky.  I'd 
rather have one buddy I
can count on, when the credits are down, then all the whores in the galaxy."

  ----------

  Akane stood before Master Uthar.

  "It is good to see you again, young one.  Ryouga wished to speak with 
you."  Uthar said
simply, unreadable as always.

  Making her way towards Ryouga's room Akane kept her guard up, which 
saved her life.
Ryouga silently dropped down from the ceiling behind her, and only the 
fact she was
already on guard allowed her to parry an otherwise lethal blow. 
Internally cringing at the
force that had been behind the blow Akane declared confidently, using as 
strong a
command voice with as much suggestion as she could muster, "You cannot win."

  "No longer will your words crawl within my skull." Was her only 
response as Ryouga's
eyes burned with hate.  This was not good.

  Wincing as she parried another blow that seemed stronger then it 
should be, she used
one of the techniques she kept in reserve for times like this.  Reaching 
into her opponents
mind she grasped the fears she could find there and inflamed them.  For 
a moment it
seemed to work as her opponent lost his focus.  Just as she moved to 
take advantage, she
felt his power flare.

  "You will regret that."  Ryouga declared coldly.

  ----------

  Master Uthar calmly maintained his meditative pose as a scream range 
out and was
suddenly silenced.  It appeared that Ryouga had succeeded.  Internally 
he smiled,
Ryouga's progress was most impressive, he would make a good Sith.

  ----------

  Ukyo stared at the barren walls of her cabin.  The thought of this 
trip being over filled
her melancholy.  She had a strong impulse to start planning some way to 
extend the trip,
some excuse.  She had several, that however was bad for business.

  Opening her locker she reached towards the back and pulled out a 
well-shielded case.
Opening the case using the built in fingerprint ID lock she pulled out a 
small
holoprojector.  With a press of the button it activated bringing up 
pictures from before
everything had went to hell.  She smiled as it transitioned to a holo of 
her making her first
okanomiyaki.  Under her dad's watchful eye and guidance the little Ukyo 
went about
getting the ingredients just right.  It had been so long since she had 
actually sung that
song her father had taught her.  Nowadays she just made them to order. 
The war had
touched everyone in its own way, for her father it had cost him his life.

  As it cycled through other scenes it came to dwell on one with one of 
her old childhood
friends on Butuan.  Good old Ran, she'd called him that ever since he 
ran out, when it
came to pay for his meal.  Of course, she had tracked him down and 
dragged him back.

  Something nagged at the back of her mind.  Freezing the image she took 
a good look at
her childhood companion.

  ----------

  Ranma went through his Matukai drills.  Getting sloppy now, at the end 
wasn't going to
help him.

  "Hey Ran, when are you going to start paying for your meals?!"

  Instinctually Ranma responded, "What do I look like the Bank of 
Coruscant?"  As his
conscious mind caught up with his mouth he froze in mid move.  That 
response had been
so ingrained he had responded without thinking.  Now if he could only 
remember who
that was.  Drawing a blank he sheepishly turned around.  "How do I know 
you again?"

  "I'm the bounty hunter you hired to get you to Korriban to help you 
save a friend."
Ukyo said, managing to keep a straight face.

  "Come on, give me a hint here.  Do you know how many worlds I've been 
dragged
across?"  Ranma said exasperated.  It really wasn't fair, it really 
wasn't.  When you have
been to over a hundred worlds and met tons of sentients on each it 
became hard to keep
track of it all.  Meanwhile when they finally managed to remember you, 
they expected
you to share their epiphany.

  "Ultimate Okanomiyaki, Butuan."

  Ranma scrunched his brow.  "Wait...  You don't mean you're Hunter..." 
  Ranma
laughed nervously.

  "What is it?" Ukyo asked.

  "Well you see uhm..."  Ranma realized he was just going to have to say 
it.  "With the
way you acted back then I got it into my head you were a boy.  Heh, 
heh."  Ranma
laughed nervously.

  "I guess I did give that impression."  Ukyo said looking sheepish.

  "Well then might Hunter, you have caught me at last, so what do you 
want?"  Ranma
said as he did a mock bow.

  Ukyo smiled, before affecting a mock-serious tone.  "I order you to 
tell me what you've
been up to."

  "Well, Hunter that is a long story, that involves more planets, 
people, and stories then I
could relay in one telling."  Ranma said.

  "Okay, okay enough."  Ukyo said finally laughing.  "So how did you end 
up becoming
a Matukai?"

  "Well my father's luck finally ran out and he got caught by no less 
then a Jedi.  The Jedi
recognized the potential in me and so I was brought before a Jedi 
council.  As they were
trying to negotiate an association with the Matukai they decided I would 
be turned over
to them for training as I was to old to be a _proper_ Jedi.  The Jedi 
who found me though,
taught me the basics of the way of the Jedi, before I went to the 
Matukai.  Of course, in
the end the Matukai weren't interested in being associated with the Jedi 
and I just ended
up staying with them and learned their way.  That was years ago."  Ranma 
said shaking
his head.

  "Your dad was always getting himself into trouble.  Good to see you 
turned out okay.
So where's the old codger now?"

  "I don't know really.  Probably still locked away in a cell somewhere. 
  I'm just lucky I
never got directly involved in his more outlandish schemes, so I was 
clean enough not to
get dragged in.  It's funny really, he always made such a big deal out 
of learning martial
arts, and when he got caught I end up getting hooked up with Force users 
who use the
martial arts to develop their talent.  You know I wonder what happened 
to that Jedi, now
that I think about it."

  "Probably dead the way things are going."  Ukyo said.

  "No, I don't think so.  I'm pretty sure she is still alive.  I think I 
would know if she
wasn't."  Ranma trailed off.

  "Sorry."  Ukyo apologized.

  "Forget about it.  So how were you were captured by the Mandalorians? 
  I know they
hit Butuan shortly after we left, but..."

  Ukyo seemed lost in thought for a moment.  "They killed dad, and I was 
captured as
they raided the world.  I suppose you find it strange I'd fight for them 
after they did
that...  I doubt you can know what it is like.  I knew my dad would have 
wanted me to
survive, and so I did.  The Mandalorians can come across as harsh, but 
as time went on
the clan became my family, they trusted in me, and in the end I betrayed 
their trust.  That
leaves a mark.  Since then I've just been trying to make my way in the 
universe.  It's
funny, way back then you always said I was just destined to be a bounty 
hunter.  Now I
am one.  Seems like forever and yesterday doesn't it?"

  "Yeah."

  ----------

  The Baker's Justice smoothly set down within the enclosed landing pad, 
before the roof
irised closed.

  On board Ranma finished putting on an attractive dress, before 
slipping her Wan Shen
down the front.  As Ranma shivered at the cold piece of metal between 
her breasts, she
made the mental note to see about correcting that.

  Climbing down from the cockpit Ukyo commented, "You sure about this?"

  Tying her lush, brushed out hair with a bow to gather it back behind 
her head, Ranma
commented, "It'll work."

  "Maybe, but do you really think these Sith types will fall for that?"

  Ranma looked petulant putting her hands on her hips.  In a 
mock-serious yet cute tone
she said, "Are you saying cute little Ranko cannot flirt a guy into 
being alone with her for
two seconds?"

  "No, I'm saying cute little Ranko may end up with more then she 
bargained for when
she tries to take advantage."

  "Don't worry, I'll be careful."  Ranma said piling on cuteness. 
"Besides cuteness
inherently inspires a kind of compassion which wrecks the focus of these 
guys."  Ranma
finished as she slid down to the hatch.

  Ukyo said a silent prayer for her friend.  Hopefully whatever powers 
existed would
watch out for him in this dark place where she had to walk.

  ----------

  Ranma felt lecherous eyes on her from when she paid the docking fee 
till she found the
local bar.  While on many levels it left her feeling disgusted, it 
clearly meant she was on
the right track.  This bar was quite Spartan, neglecting many of the 
excesses common in
such establishments.  It also was well lit unlike many of its 
contemporaries.  It was
however, where the local students going to the Sith Academy tended to 
hang out.
Something she had managed to convince several males along the way to 
tell her.

  Ranma subtly adjusted her dress as she entered the establishment.  A 
part of her wasn't
wanting to admit she was doing this.  The other part was telling it to 
shut up, necessity
knows no law.

  Picking out a Sith student that was closer to her size she made her 
ways towards him.

  "Hi, I'm Ranko."  Ranma said doing her best to act as adorable as 
possible.

  "Yush Balu."  Ranma could tell from the body language he had the guy's 
attention.

  "You know what?  I've always adored strong men."  Putting on her best 
nervous shy
girl making an admission act Ranma continued. "Could you...  I mean... 
Could we go
someplace private?"  Ranma kept up the nervous looking down act up, 
waiting for a
reply.  She didn't even need to fake the embarrassed blush, just tweak 
it to give the
proper impression.

  "Sure I know just the place."  Yush declared confidently.

  Following submissively Ranma kept projecting the emotions she wanted 
to be picked
up.  The Sith student eventually led Ranma to a rather secluded area of 
the Dredsen
colony.

  "So do you want me to do you from behind or..."

  He was cut off as a Wan Shen smashed into the side of his skull, from 
behind, sending
him into unconsciousness.

  "Pervert."  Ranma said coldly.

  ----------

  Ranma finished tying up the now stripped student with space tape.  The 
tape's exact
origins were shrouded in legend, but by in the present there were 
hundreds of uses that
had been developed for the stuff, among them tying up lecherous 
perverts. (1)

  With an evil grin Ranma pulled down the last piece of cloth she'd left 
on the pervert
and strapped his thing down with a length of space tape before pulling 
the boxers back
up.  That'd teach him.  Trying to get a girl he'd just met to do it with 
him just because she
wanted to be alone with him, who was he fooling?

  Picking him up she dumped him in a nearby empty cargo container before 
sealing it.
She'd unseal it when she came back.  Of course, if she didn't come back 
the sicko had
better hope someone bothered to check it's contents before he ran out of 
air in the next
few hours.  Of course, if he used the Force he could probably get 
himself out of there.
Well it wasn't big deal afterall.

  Gathering up the student's clothes and possessions she made for the 
nearest refresher
unit.

  ----------

  Ranma made some final adjustments to the dark robes as he exited the 
refresher unit.
Ranma stuffed his Wan Shen down his front.  Due to the nature of the 
clothes it wasn't
really obvious.  Ranma took the time to examine the lightsaber he had 
taken.  It didn't
really look like much.  While he admittedly was no expert it looked kind 
of crude
compared to the ones he'd seen before.  Putting it up his left sleeve 
Ranma stowed it in a
holster he had found on the guy.  Ranma couldn't figure out why the guy 
had went to all
the trouble, but it suited him just fine.

  Pulling out the guy's student ID and some equipment Ranma made a few 
modifications.
The picture part was now covered with a properly sized picture of 
himself.  As long as no
one looked particularly closely at it everything would seem to be in 
order.  Ranma looked
mournfully at the stuff he was going to have to leave behind.  It had 
cost a quite a few
credits to buy that outfit and the related accessories.  He couldn't 
prematurely take the
stuff back to the ship though, or someone would catch on really quick 
what he was up to.

  Hitting upon an idea he took the various accessories and put them 
inside the dress
before folding it up and stuffing it down his front.  Checking himself 
in a nearby mirror
and finding that there were still no tell-tell bulges Ranma assumed a 
air of confidence as
he proceeded on.

  ----------

  Ranma casually strode out the exit from the colony leading to the Sith 
Academy.  Oddly
it appeared that there was only one Sith Trooper acting as a guard to 
the entrance.  Of
course, it was quite possible they figured no one would be stupid enough 
to try anything
requiring more guards.  This was afterall the academy for a bunch of 
Sith, who would
like nothing better then to expose people to things worse then death.

  Striding up to the entrance Ranma confidently flashed his stolen ID.

  "You can pass."  The guard said with disinterest.

  Entering the Academy Ranma took a few minutes to allow his eyes to 
adjust to the dark
interior.  Ranma paused as he focused on his senses reaching out, 
searching.  In this place
of dark power his senses seemed dulled, but he could still make out the 
familiar presence.
Making sure to continue to maintain his air of confidence and belonging, 
Ranma
confidently strode down the hallways.

  What he found was his old friend, but he was different.  Now being 
able to focus his
senses more clearly he could feel the darkness in him.  Ranma moved 
closer before
jumping so as to land on Ryouga's head.  He used the Force to lighten 
his weight when
he did this, so it had not yet actually caused any of his victim's 
physical problems.

  "Hey there, Ryouga."  He said basically bent over backwards to look in 
his friends face
while maintaining his perch on Ryouga's head.

  When Ryouga finally opened his eyes they regarded him coldly.  "You 
were a fool to
come here."

  Ranma felt something constrict around his throat as he was picked up 
bodily and
slammed into the far wall sending chunks of rock flying.  Ranma got up 
unsteadily to his
feet.  If it hadn't been for his Matukai training he'd have been well 
and thoroughly dead
from that attack. (2)  As was, he was more disoriented then anything else.

  Ryouga however wasn't about to give him the time to recover.  Smoothly 
getting to his
feet he extended his right arm.  Some kind of dark energy gathered in 
Ryouga's hand
before shooting out in coruscating bolts from his fingers.  Ranma only 
had a split second
warning before the bolt reached him, just enough to realize he couldn't 
dodge them.
Ranma felt the attack tearing at his very essence convulsing his body 
with pain, and
disrupting his body's attempt to counter by fortifying itself with the 
Force.  Through the
pain he could make out Ryouga slowly walking forward.  An old lesson 
suddenly came
back to him clarified by the pain.  The old Jedi had once told him that 
it was possible to
use the Force to repel and counter attacks using the Force.  Stretching 
a hand forwards
against the onslaught Ranma used the Force clarified in his mind through 
the pain and
tried to repel the attack.  Ranma felt the intensity lessen as bolts 
began to repel back off
his hand. (3)

  Ranma felt himself stumble as the storm finally let up.  That had 
taken more out of him
then he wanted to admit.  Before he could get himself together he felt a 
hand clamp down
on his skull.  With Force amplified blows he was smashed into walls, and 
the floor until
he could no longer tell the difference.

  Ranma suddenly felt something which felt almost like a spear drive 
into his back
breakings ribs and driving them into his lung.  It took a moment as he 
felt them being
grounded in to realize he was now on the floor pinned down by Ryouga's boot.

  Ranma heard the distinctive snap-hiss of a lightsaber igniting.  "Now 
you will die."
Boomed Ryouga's voice.

  The spinning in Ranma's head lessened enough he could make out that 
somehow his
Wan Shen had gotten knocked free and lay a few meters in front of him. 
Stretching out
both physically and with the Force he called it to him.  Not bothering 
to look he activated
the extension mechanism and felt it jump out of his hands as it pushed 
off the floor.  He
had the distinct impression of a blade just passing over his neck as the 
weight on his back
disappeared.

  Rolling away Ranma got unsteadily to his feet.  He could now see 
Ryouga crimson
lightsaber in hand, his Wan shen had driven itself through Ryouga's gut 
and he could see
the blood dripping from where it protruded on the other side.

  "You are hard to kill."  Ryouga commented regarding the shaft through 
his gut with an
odd look of disinterest as if seeing something done to someone else. 
Ranma felt mental
feelers reach out for his mind.  "You... You came here to turn me?" 
Ryouga let off a
hollow laugh.  "As if you are any different from me."

  "What are you talking about?"  Ranma asked, cautious.

  "Look at all that you did to get here.  Can you not feel it?!  Under 
your excuses the seed
has already begun to grow.  Reach out, seize it, and realize your true 
power!"

  "No...  I'm not like that.  I didn't..."

  "Mean to kill all the people you did to get here?  Mean to force your 
view of what is
right on others?  Let go of the lie, Ranma.  Realize the truth as I have 
and stop holding
yourself back in a web of lies."

  Ranma could feel the power calling to his, the dominating strength. 
It was just within
his grasp, waiting for him to seize it.

  Ryouga grinned.

  "No."  Ranma said slowly.  "You may have learned a few tricks, but you 
aren't
stronger.  I can feel it.  It is you who is in a web of lies.  It is you 
that is destroying
himself for false promises of power.  My soul might be tainted, but that 
doesn't mean I
have to try to destroy myself as you are doing.  Let it go Ryouga, you 
don't need to
destroy yourself this way."  Ranma smiled in friendship, and began to 
see the darkness
around his friend crack.

  Just then though, another student came around the bend seeing the pair 
of them.
Glancing in the intruder's direction Ranma realized he was out of time. 
  As Ranma
looked back at Ryouga he saw his opportunity had been lost.

  "No, it is you who is trying to deprive me of my power to save 
yourself!"  With this
declaration Ryouga tore Ranma's Wan Shen from his gut in a spray of 
blood, before
hefting it in one hand and giving it a mighty throw towards Ranma's chest.

  Ranma dodged out of the way thankful his Matukai training had provided 
techniques to
let him keep going with an injury such as this.  Ranma dashed down the 
hall dodging a
blow from the student's lightsaber before decapitating him in mid outcry 
quick drawing
the lightsaber he had up kept up his sleeve.  Ranma paused for a moment 
looking back,
entertaining the thought of trying once more, but it was too late, 
before dashing away.

  ---------

  Ukyo opened the hatch as Ranma limped towards the ship.  Rushing over 
she took his
arm over her shoulder as she helped him inside.

  "What happened?"  She asked, looking at her clearly drained companion.

  "I lost.  Don't worry.  I'll be fine."  Ranma got out, clearly having 
problems breathing.

  "We're getting out of here."  Ukyo said after she helped Ranma into to 
cockpit and a
chair, before manipulating the ships controls.

  Ranma sighed, then winced as he lay back in the chair.  It had been 
too close.  If that,
that wellspring of the Force, hadn't went tearing through the Sith ranks 
he had to admit to
himself he would probably be dead.  Closing his eyes trying to focus his 
powers more on
healing his severely aggravated injury, he felt a familiar presence. 
Ryouga was alive, that
much he could clearly tell.

  ----------

  Ryouga heard a voice as if at a great distance, "Awaken."

  The first thing he became aware of was the horrible pain of his 
insides destroying
themselves.

  An old woman stood over him, her face obscured.  "Use the pain you 
feel to heal the
wound, Sion."

  ----------

  Ranma sat in his room.  After all that he had been through these 
rather simple quarters
seemed like a high quality luxury suite.  It had been a week since they 
had come here.
Ranma opened the drawer on the little table next to his desk.  Side by 
side sat two metal
cylinders.  Ranma regarded both of them.  One belonged to a Sith, that 
was probably a
former Sith by now, and the other he had been constructing himself 
scavenging parts
from the other lightsaber when necessary.

  With his Wan Shen for all intents and purposes lost he felt almost 
naked.  His Wan
Shen had required the cooperative effort of an old Echani weaponsmith he 
had known on
Callamar who had long since passed away.  The manufacture of such a 
weapon by
himself was beyond his means, so he had decided to substitute.

  The secrets to making a lightsaber weren't that big a secret to begin 
with and his brief
brush the Jedi Order had allowed him to learn them.  It had required a 
week and
occasionally checking off the other one in his possession to actually 
make one properly.
Finishing up a few final adjustments through the Force Ranma took the 
oval cross-
sectioned handle in hand before pressing the recessed control stud. 
With a snap-hiss an
ocher blade jumped into existence humming with a life of its own.  He 
had ended up
using the crystal he had picked up on the world that had transformed 
him, by making it so
he changed gender with water.  It seemed appropriate, and he wasn't 
about to use the
crystal from that Sith saber.  Ranma waved his hand near the blade, and 
did some other
checks he had heard about to make sure it was functioning properly. 
They all checked
out.

  "So are you a Jedi now, Ran?"  Came Ukyo's voice from the door.  He 
hadn't seen her
since they had come here so he could recover.

  "No, I just don't have the connections or funds to make another Wan 
Shen the way I
want it."  Ranma explained thumbing the control stud and making the 
blade disappear
from existence.  "Besides the Jedi seem to get by with these things 
okay."  Ranma said
jokingly.

  "Well I could use another hand on ship to help me out."  Ukyo offered.

  "Sounds good to me."

  [END]

  1) Space Tape is from one of the Star Wars novels I've read.  It's 
basically just a better
duct tape.

  2) Remember RotS and what Tyrannus did to Obi?

  3) Do note what he's doing is the same thing Luke does in RotJ.  Of 
course, in the
movie you really have to be paying attention to notice the bolts that 
are actually being
reflected back.  It's much clearer what he's up to in the novel.

  Author's Notes: To be perfectly honest it was my original intent to 
have Ranma's
confrontation with Ryouga end with Ranma's death.  As I worked more with 
crafting the
story though I began to come up with things that I felt would work 
better by keeping him
alive.  The original ending was however for Ranma to die when Ryouga had 
him under
his boot, while Ryouga declared his new identity.

  I hope you enjoyed the fic if got this far.  Do not hesitate to e-mail 
concerns or
suggestions in regards to the fic or otherwise put up a review.

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