The Flying Forge sped through hyper space, emerging from the vortex of swirling stars and blue streaks as the YT 2000 freighter entered Nar Shaddaa space. Rii’A ran a gloved hand through her golden hair, the glow of lights from the consoles reflecting off of her knightly armor.
Flipping a switch, a small hologrid appeared to her side, as it constantly zoomed in and focused on different areas, the scanner halted on a loan signal, then the grid proceeded to zoom out, she had found him at last. Tobias Flynn, the man she had found crashed near the barracks, half dead. He was in the commerce district, and so was that boy who had taken his comm. link.
Perhaps the child could be trusted, perhaps not, if Tobias was hiding on Nar Shaddaa, he had nothing of value for the child to take, correct. Rii’A also believed the child to be genuinely concerned for the man’s well being, that was what made her believe the boy Cody could be trusted.
* * *
Rii’A could still remember it, it was her night to be on guard of the barracks, then, like a meteor, she saw the wreckage of a ship falling from the sky in flames, crashing in the forest near her location and lighting up the sky as the vessel burned.
She informed the other knights of her order, and she took a squad of five with her. The all women knight brigade rushed to the scene, carrying their cortosis blades as well as placing equipment on their speeder bikes to put out any fires that the crash started. What the saw was shocking.
The ship, a large YT 2000 freighter, had driven itself into the ground, the thrusters has shut off, fire and smoke billowed from every vent and exhaust port. Rii’A was amazed the ship had managed to hold together for that long. As the lady knights began to work on putting out the fires, it was then that Rii’A noticed something in the cockpit. Plumes of smoke were seeping through the cracks in the glass canopy, and a man sat inside the cockpit, clearly unconscious.
Rii’A rushed towards the canopy, climbing onto it and smashing the glass, covering her face as smoke billowed out. She coughed and gagged, attempting to not breath in the smoke. She held her breath, she had to get the man out, see if he was even alive, if he had been breathing in that much smoke, his lungs had to have been rendered useless!
She grabbed him by his right arm, she couldn’t get a good look at him through the billowing clouds and having to squint her eyes just to keep it out. As she placed her hand on his arm, she felt it come undone and disjointed. His arm was obviously broken. She grunted in disgust at the feeling of the flesh not held together by the bone. Not hesitating, she put her arms around his midsection, and slung him over her shoulder, as she made her way out of the cockpit.
Rii’A coughed as she carried the unconscious man away from the burning ship and back to the speeder bikes, her breath hoarse and ragged, and eyes watering from being in such a thick cloud of smoke. The other women finished putting out most of the fires, and were proceeding to the inside of the ship in an attempt to quell the fires inside. Leaving Rii’A outside with the pilot, alone.
She lay him down on the ground, he was in terrible shape. His body riddled with cuts and scrapes, clothes torn to shreds, and he was soaked in sweat, and dirty blood. His long disheveled brown hair covered most of his face, Rii’A ran her hand across in an attempt to brush it off his face. She tried to keep herself from vomiting when she saw his face more clearly.
His face was mangled, like the rest of him, his coloring was pale and he was soaked in blood, streaming from his nose, and his mouth, and his ears. A crescent shaped scar was upon his right cheek, and a small stream of blood tricked down from his right eye. But when she looked at his left, she saw nothing but a gruesome injury surrounded by burned flesh and more blood.
His right arm, the one that was broken, was splayed out on the ground in many unnatural positions. If he was alive, if he’d ever recover from these injuries, the bones in his right arm would surely never heal properly. This man would be crippled for life. And this assessment was simply based on his physical injuries, Rii’A had no way of knowing how damaged he was internally.
Rii’A cringed at the thought of such a life, living but being unable to do anything for yourself, losing your dignity and ability to live normally due to malformed injuries that never recovered properly.
He started to stir, trying to say something, Rii’A quickly reached over to her bike, grabbing a canteen and attempted to pour water into his mouth.”It’s alright, my sisters and are here, there is nothing to fear sir.” She reassured him.
Taking another look at him, she looked at his clothes, or rather, what was left of them. A tattered tunic, gauntlets, remainders of two tabards, a blue crystal tied around his neck, and a rusty beaten handle strapped to his belt. Could this man have been a—?
“Master Jedi, please, tell me what happened?” Rii’A asked him as she did her best to sit him up, to try and apply some of the first aid equipment she had on her bike.
The man mumbled something, it was hard to understand, perhaps he couldn’t speak. These injuries were beyond her abilities to stabilize him with a simple first aid kit. He needed real medicine, a trained doctor, perhaps a whole team of trained doctors.
Rii’A pulled a comm. link from her pocket and spoke into it.”My sisters I must leave you, the pilot is in critical condition, I need to take him to the medical center.”
The woman who responded reassured Rii’A that they had the fires almost under control an were now searching the ship for the cause of the crash. It could be salvaged.
* * *
Rii’A remembered the ride to the medical center. Her hands clothed in her metal gauntlets, gripping the handles of her speeder bike, with the Jedi leaning against her back, his consciousness had faded again. She made greater haste to the center.
When she arrived, she took him off the bike, and once again slinging him over her shoulder she entered the medical center, greeted by a host of baffled hospital patrons and medical staff.”Please! Somebody get an emergency team here, quickly!” she commanded.
It wouldn’t be until some hours later, how many hours exactly, Rii’A did not know, she had lost count. Leaned against a wall, her sword on her belt, her arms crossed, her armor stained by the smoke and by the Jedi’s blood. She had taken the Jedi’s weapon and the crystal for safe keeping.
A physician came down the hallway, a grieved expression on her face as she stopped at Rii’a.”Lady knight, may I have a word?” she asked.
“How is the Jedi? Is he alright? Is he alive?” Rii’A asked, she was worried, worried the poor Jedi had died before she could bring him to surgery
“He’ll live.” The doctor began, she withdrew a datapad and began to skim her finger down a long list.”He’ll live, but, I don’t know how to describe this, by all accounts, he should be dead.”
She listed off the number of injuries they had found on him. His right arm had been broken in multiple places, the doctors had even speculated that parts of the bone had completely disintegrated or fell through deep cuts on his arm. The surgical team had to implant a network of braces and cables along the remaining pieces of bone inside of his arm. The bone would never heal or grow back properly, not even bacta would fix that.
Several organs had to be replaced, and he had to be given a new eye.
He was suspended in a bacta tank now, letting the medicine work its magic on him. He had wounds that would never heal, scars that would never go away.
The doctor put her datapad away and returned her gaze to Rii’A.”What concerns us most is his psychological condition, whatever he’s been through, I can only imagine what it has done to his psyche.”
Rii’A looked at her concerned, almost in disbelief. True, Rii’A, in her career as a royal knight, had never once encountered one of the famed Jedi of the Galaxy, but the tales of their prowess of both mind and body made it almost impossible for her to believe that a Jedi could have their mind virtually broken. “What do you mean?”
The doctor sighed, like she was talking to an uneducated child.”With those kinds of injuries, the multiple fractures, blood loss, burns, and the readings we’ve been getting from the brain scans, I’d be surprised if that Jedi had even a fraction of his sanity left.” And with that, the Doctor bowed her head to Rii’A, and took her leave.
Rii’A remembered the months that would follow, after every day of training at the barracks, every day of patrolling the realm, she would return to the medical center.
The Jedi fascinated her, if he survived, and if he was stable, she wanted to know more about the Jedi Knights, wanted to learn from them. Rii’A herself had never felt a connection to the mystical power of the force, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want the understand the ways of the Jedi, their morals, their code, their teachings.
She’d always visit the Jedi’s quarters, he was always asleep, his face marred by scarring and various machines monitoring his brain patterns. Not much would happen on these visits, Rii’A would simply sit and watch, as if she expected that he would awaken. Sometimes Rii’A would bring along ‘entertainment’, means to pass the time as she would watch the Jedi until night came. Simple things really, datapads containing epic tales of Jedi, of the Rebellion, of the Empire, of the Republic. She would also bring along the crystal that had been tied to his neck, as well as the lightsaber she had taken from his belt, to keep his weapon safe.
Today, once again, Rii’A came to the medical center, and once again, she went straight for the Jedi’s quarters.
Something was wrong this time.
The alarms in the medical center were blaring, security and hospital staff were running amok in the hallways, guiding patients and visitors to safety. There was chaos, panic, and disorder. Rii’A took her blade in hand and rushed into the hospital. She stopped a doctor who was running away from a corridor, it was near the ward where the Jedi rested.
“Doctor! What’s going on?” Rii’A demanded an answer, her sword in hand, if there was a threat to the hospital, she was going to deal with it.
“It’s the Jedi!” the doctor shrieked.” He’s awake, he’s gone mad!”
“What?” Rii’A stammered in disbelief.
All this panic and fear… the Jedi was causing it?
“We were coming in to collect the data on his brain activity from the machines and he suddenly woke up.” The doctor began.” When we tried to help him he suddenly attacked us and ran off! The security force has managed to corner him in the atrium!”
Leaving the doctor, Rii’A took off, her braided hair bobbing along with each step as her armor clattered together with each step, each motion. She followed the signs and the broken machinery and comatose security guards, eventually arriving at the atrium. The doors hung open, one was hanging from its hinges.
She walked in. The atrium was a lush environment, meant to simulate the world outside, for patients who were unable to leave the medical center. Artificial trees abound and various walk ways and streams could be seen throughout the large chamber.
She ventured in further, her sword in hand, the Jedi’s weapon tethered to her belt.”Master Jedi!” She called
“Master Jedi! Please, I only wish to talk to you.” She called again.
Still no answer.
“My name is Rii’A Leoni of the Royal Knights, I come in peace, please, show yourself.”
There was still silence, then Rii’A shifted around, she heard a noise, rustling grass, snapping twigs. The sound of heavy breathing, it sounded almost feral.
The Jedi burst forth from the brush, dressed in a hospital gown and some of the machinery hanging from his body, he rushed at her. He let out a battle cry as he dove at her and tackled Rii’A to the ground.
He had her pinned, her sword had been knocked aside, the attack was so sudden. She looked up into the Jedi’s eyes, staring into eyes full of blind rage and pure hatred, there was a brief moment where Rii’A swore she saw the Jedi’s pupils change from their dark brown to an eerie gold, then back to their natural color. “You dare!” The Jedi growled.”YOU DARE!” he yelled into her face, Rii’A felt some saliva peck her cheek as she squinted in the face of his yelling.
“WHY! WHY HAVE YOU FOLLOWED ME! WHAT MORE COULD YOU TAKE AWAY FROM ME TIBERIUS!” He yelled, looking up from Rii’A, he called out this ‘Tiberius’ person, a man who was clearly not there.
“All those people, the Gamallians, my apprentice. Why! WHY MAKE THEM SUFFER! LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE TO ME! YOU FORCED MY HAND IN THIS TIBERIUS!” He roared, still pinning Rii’A to the floor.
Then, suddenly, his mood shifted, tears were streaming out of his real eye, blood was trickling out of his other eye socket, now occupied by the prosthetic eye. His hands clutched his head, and the Jedi began to sob uncontrollably.”No! Please no! Please! Stop screaming! No! No more! I didn’t mean to! I’m sorry! Please! Please make it stop!”
He rolled off of Rii’A, and curled up in a ball, his sobbing only grew louder, almost unbecoming of a warrior. Was this man even a Jedi?
“My head, the voices… make the voices stop! Tell them I didn’t mean to kill them!” He raised his hand, a with a swipe of it, several trees were uprooted and fell to the ground.
Rii’A watched astonished.
The Jedi’s arm then recoiled, and he soon grabbed his head again, pulling on his own hair. He looked up, and screamed at the fake sky, then almost immediately began convulsing on the ground, and began to vomit uncontrollably.
Then Rii’A remembered the doctor’s words. That whatever had happened to the Jedi, had obviously destroyed his mind.
“The force! Why is it doing this to me!” The Jedi gagged.”Lyon! Lyon help me! I’m so sorry!”
Rii’A crawled over to him, just as a bunch of security guards entered the room, weapons in hand, all set to stun. Rii’A shooed them away and managed to sit the Jedi up.”Please. Please calm yourself sir.” She said to him in a calm reassuring tone.
The Jedi stopped convulsing as soon as he felt Rii’A’s gloved hands on him, looking at her through messy hair, his eyes red from tears.”W-Where am I? What’s going on?” He was like a frightened child now, despite the fact that he looked to be at least somewhere in his twenties, like she was.
“You crashed some months ago. You’ve been asleep for at least five months master Jedi.” She said.
He recoiled when she called him a Jedi.”No! No! I’m not a jedi! I don’t deserve to be one! I’m not worthy to be called a Jedi!” he was about to get riled up again.
In that instant, Rii’A tried to calm him again, throwing her arms around him and embracing him, warmly, to make him not feel threatened anymore.”It’s alright. You’re safe now.” She whispered in his ear.
The Jedi’s arms fell to his sides, his mouth hung open, and the tears began to flow again. And then, almost on impulse, the Jedi hugged her back, tightly, like he was scared to let her go. He buried his face in her shoulder, tears running down her armor.
“My name is Rii’A Leoni, what’s your name?” She had to start somewhere, it seemed like she and the Jedi would be getting to know each other for a long time.
At least that’s the way it felt with how he was holding her.
“D…” He stopped, she couldn’t hear the name he mentioned, knowing he stopped himself.”Tobias… Tobias Flynn.” He sobbed in her shoulder.