Call of the Force

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Call of the Force

Post by Zaarek » Wed Oct 23, 2019 2:32 pm

Part One

Long lanky shadows danced across the sprawling sandscape as the YT-2400 maneuvered towards the ground. Battling the violent wind and incendiary clouds of whipping sand was nothing new for the retired bounty hunter. Lok had been his destination more times than he could count. It was his home. From his birth until the present, Zarek’s heart was with the desert planet. The large transport rocked from side to side as it neared the flat desert ground. A sudden gale jolted the ship, forcing its pilot to take a firm hold of the controls. The Reclaimer II was pushed alarmingly close to the surface, making the weather’s unpredictable actions increasingly dangerous. With a quick flick, Zarek ignited the starboard side’s repulsor jets, sending the YT into a near spin. From the west, a large cloud blanketed the shadows sprawled over the ground. Zarek instantly understood that the gusts were only a precursor to the impending sandstorm. Jaws clenched and knuckles white on the controls, Zarek took in a long, deliberate breath.

While the thoughts racing through his head abated, time seemed to come to a crawl. His eyes fluttered open as though they had been closed for minutes, not in the lifting phase of a blink. From outside the viewport he could see individual grains of sand, hundreds of thousand of them, recklessly bouncing off one another on their intermittent course. Thousands ricocheted off the view-port glass, producing a subtle echo that filled the cabin. His eyes fully open now, the former Jedi hunter watched in bewildered reverence as the phenomenon unfolded. Consciously, he knew the storm raged, as violent now as it was moments ago. Regardless, an essence of peace poured over him.

Learning to surrender had been demanding. A life spent subjecting himself to rigorous physical and mental training had enabled Zarek to overcome great obstacles. He had become powerful, in his own right, by what he thought was his own aspiration. Through it all, a life spent learning to control aspects of his body had only served to display his ignorance when his real training began. His past now served as a harsh reminder of the consequences of following his own desires. Of all his lessons, one that Zarek valued most, and most thought upon, was that nothing was beyond the power and the will of the Force. This moment was distinctive of that concept. Zarek exhaled, and the whirling clouds of sand accelerated, as though a gate had been opened and millions of tiny specs had been set free from captivity. Instantly the ship rocked, forcefully dipping its port side towards the ground.

Zarek smiled. Without a thought, he throttled the port-side repulsors. The bulky freighter swayed from side to side twenty meters above the dirt. Its pilot toggled the starboard and port side repulsor jets, vaguely observing the training facility as the sandstorm embarked on the settlement. He didn’t have to see a thing to know what he felt. Kaskutal was void of life. After locking down the boots of the YT and readying his combat droid unit, Zarek made his way to the cargo bay lift. His pace slowed nearly eight meters from the controls that lowered the lift doors. A soft chuckle exuded from his nose as the Kima rubbed against his leg. Both of his traveling companions were eager to be off of the ship. Korva was fervently bouncing around the cargo bay as he routinely did when it was time to depart. Suddenly the nearly empty bay echoed an aggressive, metallic spinning tune as the Droideka’s rotating blasters warmed up. The combat model prepared for whatever battle was surely raging just beyond the cargo bay doors. The droid’s antics were just another departure routine the apprentice Force adept had become accustomed to. He chuckled once more, as he always did, and continued to the controls.

“You know the drill. Stay close,” he assured Korva and Seph. The droid adjusted, and positioned itself behind the two animals, who were now just behind Zarek.

The bouncing and bounding had ceased and the droids whirling blasters were calm as Zarek took in a deep breath and stretched out his hand. His fingers pressed the two adjacent red buttons, producing a loud hiss from the hydraulic lift. The sound was instantly drowned out as the massive door lowered, and the ripping torrent of the sandy tempest entered the cargo bay. Instinctively his eyes narrowed, bracing for immediate blindness. His hand was still outstretched while he shook his head and chuckled at himself. He was, after all, still an apprentice. A series of deep breaths paced the group to the Antarian training facility. An attempt to position the YT-2400 as close to the building as possible had been moderately successful, and only thirty meters separated the group from shelter.

The technique that protected the party from the piercing sand and wind was one they had practiced, albeit under less severe conditions. Both the Gurr and the Kima looked beyond the bubble as each fury of sand battered against it and bounced off into obscurity. The echo of the gale powered sandstorm reverberated through the guard of the Force bubble, encouraging a cautious and timid approach from Zarek’s four-legged companions. He smiled reassuringly, his outstretched hands steadying the temporary shelter.

“We’re almost there,” he informed them. They ignored the message, peering here and there through something they surely had no concept of. Within moments the group was within the confines of the Antarian base. Zarek took a moment to catch his breath while an eager investigation of the facility probed his thoughts. Deep breaths entered and exited his lungs, his gaze swiveling as he inspected the lobby. Jacobus had done much in his absence. Instantly guilt filled his heart. He knew Jacobus had another calling. He had followed him here for a reason, and found a purpose. Still, Zarek had to follow the path the Force had set before him, and it had taken him away from the estate, for a time. His breaths settled, and he straightened his posture. Whatever had come of Kaskutal, and the rangers, Zarek knew he had to be back here. The Force had guided him back, and had he finally learned to listen to its calling.

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