Chapter 7
Gates


"What in the blazes was that? This is getting to be too much," Snteil says as his head starts to swim from the events of the past few minutes.

Suddenly remembering seeing the approaching stormtroopers and their last order before jumping through the arch, Snteil indicates the archway, "Hey, bud. Those blasted troopers were chasing us. Don't suppose you can shut this thing back off again, can you?"

Whipping around to face the glowing archway, Kurrelgyrre places his hand on the cool stone surface. The glow begins to fade instantly and has completely disappeared after several seconds, taking the curtain of light with it to reveal the gray stone wall behind it.

Once the archway has fully deactivated, the Jedi turns to look over the room with Snteil. Searching for any kind of markings or writings on the walls or the archways reveals nothing. If there was anything here in the past, it is gone now.

"Okay," adds Snteil. "That was all very strange. I wish there was someone we could ask without having to worry about being chased by stormtroopers." Snteil looks around the room and continues, "Well, it would seem that we have some free time now, since they apparently don't know how to activate the archways. Speaking of which, how did you know how to do that?"

"I didn't!" Kurrelgyrre instantly replies. "It was just . . . instinct."

A moment of silence fills the room, then KG says, "Here, let me look at that object you found. I suspect that it may be a Jedi holocron. Perhaps it will give us a key to this mystery."

"What, this thing?" Snteil asks as he pulls out the object in question and tosses it to KG.

Kurrelgyrre carefully catches the object and studies it for a moment. Thinking back to his time at the Jedi Academy, he recalls a lesson taught by the holocron owned by Luke Skywalker. Remembering how it was activated, KG sets the object on the floor and mimics what Luke did years before.

Just as Kurrelgyrre finishes the routine, a dim light appears in the center of the dodecahedron and gradually increases in brightness over a few seconds. Finally, a blue holographic image of a female feline humanoid wearing Jedi robes forms above the object. The hologram briefly looks around the room, then down at Kurrelgyrre and Snteil.

"Greetings," the hologram says in perfect Basic with a light and melodious voice. "I am Taka Ran, the gatekeeper for this holocron. How may I be of service?"

"Greetings, Master Ran," the Wookiee reverently responds. "I am Kurrelgyrre, Jedi Knight, and this is my friend Snteil Seit.

"We seek knowledge and your wise counsel. We wish to know what this room is and how the Force activates the portals. We also seek information on the whereabouts of Jan Tolbara."

"I do not know this Jan Tolbara of which you speak," Taka begins. "And for that, I do apologize. You speak as if he is missing. I hope you find him soon."

KG nods in appreciation, "He is my teacher . . . and a dear friend."

"As for this room," she continues as she looks around the room again, slower this time as if she is studying its various aspects, "the architecture is unfamiliar to me. If I may ask, which planet are you on?"

As Kurrelgyrre begins to tell the story of how he and Snteil got to this point, Snteil mentions quietly in the background, "Don't forget to mention that weird transporting device, not that portals to other dimensions is any less weird."

Moments pass as KG relates the recent events of their adventure.

". . . and that leads us here, to a room that appears to be a portal to many places. I don't even know if we're on the same world, or if any of these rooms might lead to other worlds.

"What knowledge might you have for a Jedi seeking wisdom?"

Taka pauses for a few seconds, appearing to be lost in thought. Afterward, she replies, "I do recall reading about Halkiir in some historical texts. It mentions that there was an ancient civilization that lived there many millennia before the formation of the Republic. They died off from some unknown force, but rumors exist of ancient structures and artifacts that remain hidden on Halkiir. It appears that the rumors are true.

"To be perfectly honest, I do not know if you are still on Halkiir or not. I have heard legends of the people of ancient Halkiir having advanced transportation technology . . ."

Under his breath, Snteil adds, "Yeah, I think we can confirm that legend . . ."

Taka continues without pausing, "and their influence stretched to various parts of the galaxy during the height of their civilization. These gates around you, if they are still active, should lead to other worlds. Where they go, I do not know, so I should warn you that using them may be perilous. Perhaps, one of them leads to your lost friend.

"As for this other transporting device you mentioned, Snteil," she adds as she turns to face the Sullustan. "Can you describe it for me? Is it Halkiirian?"

"I can only assume that it is," Snteil states before describing what he saw.

After hearing the description, Taka replies, "I would like to see this room, if you have a chance to go there again.

"Meanwhile, are there any other questions I can help you with today?"

After a bit of thought, Kurrelgyrre asks, "Taka, I think it goes without saying that we Wookiees carry much rage. Have there been other Wookiee Jedi? And if so, what techniques did they use to control their rage?"

After a few seconds of silence, Taka answers, "When I was alive, seeing a Wookiee away from their homeworld was rare. One who has joined the Jedi Order was even rarer. I have heard stories, but I have seen one only once. I did not have the chance to converse with him personally.

"However, I would speculate that the techniques he used would involve meditating on the Force to overcome his basic instincts and control his rage. I'm sorry that I do not have a better answer for you.

"Perhaps, someone else may have some knowledge on that topic. One moment, please."

The image of Taka Ran disappears for a brief second and is quickly replaced by another being in Jedi robes: a Sullustan.

"I am Aril Nep, Jedi Knight," the Sullustan introduces. "What do you need?"

KG turns to Snteil and whispers, "Buddy of yours?"

Snteil makes a nervous laugh, "Sullustan Jedi are not unheard of . . . but they're not exactly common, either. His name doesn't sound familiar to me."

Kurrelgyrre repeats the same questions he asked Taka Ran to Aril Nep regarding the room and its purpose.

Aril bows his head for a brief moment as he listens to Kurrelgyrre relay the questions once again. He ponders the questions for a few seconds more before answering, "I'll be perfectly honest. I do not know anything about it."

At this point, Kurrelgyrre asks for advice regarding Wookiee rage.

A few seconds pass before Aril replies, "All I can say from my own experiences is trust in the Force and let It guide your feelings. If I may ask, Kurrelgyrre, what techniques do you use now?"

Kurrelgyrre tells Aril about the techniques he uses, to which Aril comments, "Sounds like you have things well set up for yourself."

"Tell me, Aril, what other personalities lie within the holocron?"

"That, I do not know. The gatekeeper is the only one who knows everyone on this holocron."

Humbly, Kurrelgyrre asks, "May I speak to the gatekeeper?"

With a nod, Aril folds his arms over his chest as his image dissipates. A second later, Taka returns to the display.

"Hello again, Taka," KG interjects. "I was not aware you are the gatekeeper of this holocron.

"Tell me, what other personalities reside in the holocron?"

"Besides me," begins Taka, "there are two others within the holocron. Do you mind if I ask why you need to know? Is there a seed of doubt regarding my abilities as gatekeeper?"

KG looks towards Snteil, raising an eyebrow and looking slightly annoyed, before continuing, "Not at all. I merely wish to know as much as possible about the holocron and all the personalities within it."

"I see," Taka acknowledges with a quick nod. "Unless you have any more questions for me, I will retire for now."

With that, Taka's image disappears, and the holocron shuts down.

"What a piece of junk!" Kurrelgyrre cries. "You know, Snteil, I thought this was a great find. Imagine our own holocron. Now we get a hostess with 'tude. Wouldn't even let me speak to the third personality.

"I think we should drop this off with Skywalker whenever we get the chance. He can deal with a defective holocron."

Snteil merely nods his head slightly in response.

"You know," KG states as he looks about the room. "I think it might be good if we explored one of these other doorways."

Kurrelgyrre turns around to face the nearest wall and stretches out with his feelings. Locating the closest one with a Force signature, he walks to it and places his hand on it. The same routine takes place, with the archway glowing blue and the drop in temperature. After several seconds, the barrier of light is visible within the archway.

"I hope you know what you're doing." Snteil says as he steps into the portal.

With an uncharacteristic grin, KG replies, "Trust me," and walks through the portal as well.

Snteil and Kurrelgyrre step through the portal and emerge at what looks like a small set of ruins next to a forest. At first glance, the ruins appear to be of a small stone building, and very little remains of its structure. Beyond the ruins, a wide grassy plain extends as far as the eye can see to the right, and a thick forest begins just to the left. The midday sun, a tiny white disk in the sky, shines brightly. A cool breeze blows gently across the plains, providing a cool relief to the rising temperature.

"If we wait until night and show the holocron the stars," Snteil asks, "will it be able to tell us what planet we're on?"

KG replies, "Perhaps it can tell by the ruins."

Setting the holocron on the floor, KG touches it like he did before. After a few seconds, the image of Taka Ran appears once more.

"Greeting, Kurrelgyrre," begins Taka. "Good to see you again. How may I be of assistance?"

"Hello again, Taka Ran. We have traveled through another portal in the portal room to this world, yet we know not which world it is. Ruins surround us.

"Does this place look familiar at all?"

Taka silently looks around the ruins for a long moment. Finally, she turns back to her eager audience and answers, "I'm sorry. They do not look at all familiar to me."

Snteil inquires, "If we waited until nightfall and showed you the night sky, would you be able to determine what system we are in? Or at the very least, what part of the galaxy?"

"Astronomy is not my strong point," Taka answers candidly. "I am better with diplomacy. However, somebody else within the holocron may be able to assist you better. You could summon us again at nightfall, if you wish, and we could attempt to help you then."

"Thank you, Taka." KG states as he shuts the holocron off and puts it in his bag.

"Well, what now? I guess we can poke around these ruins some. Or, maybe we go through and try another portal."

"There are twelve different portals," says Snteil. "It'd be nice to get some sort of bearing on where they go, so we can figure out what's going on. I think we should at least wait until nightfall to see if we can get some sort of reading off the stars to get a set of coordinates for ourselves and hopefully figure out where we are.

"In the meantime, we might as well check out the ruins."

Several minutes are spent searching through the ruins, only to find nothing of interest. Afterwards, Kurrelgyrre and the Sullustan step through the portal and return to the previous location.

After stepping through the portal back to the gate room, KG is able to determine that some gates are operational, while others are not. In fact, the portal immediately to the left as the two step through has a signature. Total count of all the archways that are "active" is eight.

Turning and activating the gate next to the one he just walked through, KG waits for Snteil to step into the room and then enters the new archway once it fully opens.

The pair finds that beyond the gate is a desert. A hot, dry wind blows past, carrying bits of dust and sand with it. The view reveals the rocky, debris-strewn top of a hill overlooking a barren, sandy wasteland. The hilltop is covered in numerous dirty, odd-shaped stones, some of them flat and geometrically regular.

All that can be seen in all directions, other than the debris at the top of the hill, is desert.

Kurrelgyrre looks over the scene and states dryly, "I don't do deserts."

"Yeah, this is no good," Snteil answers. "Sullustans and deserts don't mix."

With nothing to follow, Snteil and Kurrelgyrre walk back through the gate.

Arriving back in the gate room, the duo moves to the next operating archway, activate it and walk through.

Emerging on the other side reveals darkness, with the only light coming from the archway itself. The air is cool and stagnant, and no wind can be felt. What can be seen appears to be a cave. Gray stone makes up the floor, the low ceiling and the cavern wall against which the gate stands. A few stalactites can be seen reaching toward the floor within the illuminated area. The only sound that can be heard is a low hum, which seems to come from the gate.

After a moment, the gate shuts down, leaving KG and Snteil in total darkness, with only their breathing breaking the silence.

"Now this is much more like it," Snteil says with obvious comfort in his voice.

KG ignites his lightsaber, using the fiery blade to illuminate the cave.

The new light source brightens the cave once again, forcing Snteil to flinch and blink for a few seconds since his eyes had already adjusted to the darkness. The stone walls, now gray with a reddish hue from the light, frame a small chamber no more than six meters wide. Shadows cast by the stalactites stretch across the ceiling and down the far wall to a large pile of rock and debris that appears to block the only exit from this room. Smaller stones lay scattered about the cavern floor covered with a thick layer of dust.

"Sorry about the light, bud," Kurrelgyrre says. "But, I can't see in the dark like you can. I'll move over this way to ease your pain."

"Thanks." Snteil replies while he moves closer to the cave-in.

KG continues, "By the way, don't quit your day job. You'd make a lousy therapist."

Snteil's only response is a big, sheepish grin.

"You know, I have to wonder if this cave-in was natural or man-made. It makes me wonder if the people of this world tried to keep something out, or if the people who built these gates tried to keep something from coming through."

"I don't know. Let me take a closer look."

Kurrelgyrre muses as Snteil conducts his investigation, "This gate system could be very bad if it fell into the wrong hands.

"If the Imperials make the connection that Jedi can operate the gate, then no Jedi will be safe in the galaxy. And if Jan is already in their hands . . ."

"If it's any consolation, big guy," Snteil interjects, "those Imperials looked just as surprised as we were that you got that portal to work. Although if they DO have Jan, they may have now figured out that they need some sort of Force-sensitive individual to activate them.

"So, that probably wasn't much of a consolation. Sorry, bud."

"We will need to stop the Imperials' research. They cannot be allowed to have access to this gate system. I could see where the gates can be beneficial to the galaxy, but if they are to be used for evil, I would rather they be destroyed."

After surveying the scene of the incident, Snteil concludes that the cave-in occurred naturally.

"Do you think we can dig out without causing a cave-in?" asks KG.

Snteil shrugs and replies, "I don't know. With my know-how and your lightsaber, we could try at least. Or, we could just move on to the next one."

"I think I'd rather err on the side of caution here," Kurrelgyrre states. "We may be able to get through okay, but maybe not. No reason to do anything that would potentially get us killed.

"Let's see what's in the other portals first. Then, we can always come back."

As the Wookiee rises to his feet, he continues, "Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder about the point of all of this. While I find this portal system fascinating, it isn't getting us to Jan Tolbara any faster."

With that, KG activates the door again, and then goes to the next one in line.

KG activates the fourth gate in line and walks through, with Snteil close behind. Upon arrival, they drop a full meter to the slightly damp, stone floor. Looking around, they find themselves in a small, dark and musty room with black stone walls, floor and ceiling. Each of the walls appears to have a large amount of hieroglyphics carved into them. A large horizontal niche wraps around the room along the top of the walls and down the narrow corridor that leads through the room to the right. A dim light appears to be coming from down the corridor ahead.

After a minute, the gate deactivates, showing that the room is dimly lit from a miniscule shaft in the ceiling.

Something does not feel right about this location.

KG ignites his lightsaber again in order to get more light and mutters to himself, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

The light from Kurrelgyrre's lightsaber seems to brighten the room somewhat, but the black walls give a feeling that the light does not help much.

Both Kurrelgyrre and Snteil are slowly growing more and more uneasy while they stay in this room.

"Buddy," Snteil adds, "I'm not liking this at all. I think we need to leave."

Without hesitation, KG answers, "Yeah, I think you're right."

As Kurrelgyrre utters his statement, he and Snteil hear soft whispers in their ears that seem to be coming from all directions. The whispers sound like thousands of voices chanting in discord that quickly and steadily increase in volume.

Kurrelgyrre turns toward the gate in time to see a bipedal form drop to the floor in front of the gate. From the light of KG's lightsaber, he and Snteil see that the creature stands over two meters in height with grayish skin which seems to barely cling to its thin frame. Its face appears to be contorted and deformed, with empty sockets where its eyes should be. It flexes its spindly fingers that stretch out from its withered hand.

The voices are now pounding inside Snteil's and Kurrelgyrre's head, and it becomes clear that the voices are chanting repeatedly, "Jedi! Jedi! Jedi!" The chanting continues relentlessly, making it hard to concentrate.

The creature growls in the Wookiee's direction and starts to move slowly toward him, when a second one drops from the alcove to the floor not more than two meters to KG's right. Next to the doorway nearest the gate, a third drops from its place in the ceiling-high groove within the wall, and a fourth lurches around the corner of the other exit in the chamber. It stops in its tracks, stares coldly at Snteil, rolls its gray lips back and bares its rotting teeth at the Sullustan.

As KG prepares himself for battle, he tells Snteil, "I've seen these things before. They're not pleasant."

The ghoul standing in the far doorway rushes toward Snteil and slashes at him. The first swing comes dangerously close to connecting with the Sullustan's face, but the second attack that quickly follows goes wide.

The creature standing in front of the gate lunges at Kurrelgyrre with his clawed hands before him. The wind from the first attack blows against KG's face, the two swipes at the Jedi fall short and are avoided by their intended target.

Kurrelgyrre, despite the uneasiness flooding over him, quickly ripostes with his lightsaber at the monstrous form before him. The first swing comes very close to hitting, but both are dodged by the ghoul.

Snteil, as he inches his way back to the gate, quickly draws his blaster, sets it on multifire and lets loose a volley of shots at the creature in front of him. The chanting that pounds in his head hampers his ability, and all three shots fly wide and hammer into the stone wall.

The ghoul to KG's right converges on the Wookiee and attacks as well. His first claw brushes through the Jedi's fur, but his second attack meets only air.

The assailant staring hungrily at Snteil suddenly moves rapidly at his intended target and claws at the pilot, but the former bounty hunter dodges the attacks.

The ghoul in front of Snteil roars at his prey and attacks again with bared claws. The Sullustan struggles to avoid the assault and manages to duck under the ghoul's swings.

The creature before Kurrelgyrre sneers at the Jedi and steps closer while his clawed hands thrust ahead violently. KG steps back just enough to dodge the first attack, allowing the second to fly harmlessly in front of him.

In response, Kurrelgyrre slashes at the ghoul with his lightsaber. The ghoul evades the first attack and retreats a step in anticipation to avoid the second slice through the air.

Attempting to focus his mind and adjust his aim, Snteil fires another barrage of blaster fire at the monster looming before him. The first two shots are on target, forcing the ghoul to quickly move to stay away from the damaging energy bolts, but the third shot slams into the stone wall, showering the corridor with dark stone powder. After letting off his volley, Snteil moves closer to the gate to where he is just out of reach of the cold, dark wall.

The other ghoul stalking Kurrelgyrre moves around to flank the Wookiee and attacks. Sensing the movement, KG barely sidesteps the two attacks as the jagged claws nearly cut into his back.

The fourth fiend pushes past his compatriot, approaches Snteil with teeth bared and savagely slices at the Sullustan. Snteil ducks away from the blows, causing the ghoul to carve gashes into the stone next to the gate. The monster turns, frustrated from the near miss and roars in Snteil's face. The putrid breath instantly nauseates Snteil, and he fights to keep from vomiting.

The creature from the corridor wheels around to find Snteil and lunges at him. One claw rips through Snteil's sleeve, but the other only cuts through the air.

The ghoul between Kurrelgyrre and the gate cocks his arm back and thrusts it forward, slamming into KG's chest and sending the Wookiee reeling back to crash into the wall behind him.

KG, barely keeping his senses from the sudden impact and the chanting that continues to assail his conscious mind, slashes at the other ghoul that used to be behind him. Not expecting the attack, the creature leans back to avoid the energy blade just in time.

Snteil draws a bead on the ghoul that recently attacked him and fires three shots. The creature avoids the first shot but is not lucky enough, as the other two blaster bolts burn into its chest and knock the ghoul to the stone floor. Stealing a second, Snteil takes one more step toward the wall and, taking a chance, slaps his hand against the archway and wishes for it to activate.

The second fiend flanking Kurrelgyrre steps around the lightsaber and claws at the Jedi's head with both hands. Seeing the incoming attack, the Wookiee ducks under the claws in the nick of time.

The one remaining ghoul against Snteil dives at his prey and knocks him to the ground. The ghoul opens his maw to reveal its rotting, serrated teeth and roars in defiance into Snteil's face.

Barely keeping the contents of his stomach in, Snteil takes advantage of the opportunity and punches the ghoul in the face with his other hand.

As Snteil's fist connects with the ghoul's jaw, the archway begins to glow.

Before the Sith ghoul has a chance to compensate for Kurrelgyrre's evasion, the Wookiee Jedi whips his lightsaber around at the beast before him while remaining crouched. The first blow comes dangerously close to gutting it, but KG compensates and swings around again. The blade of lethal energy glides through the ghoul's body with little resistance. A look of grotesque shock appears on the creature's face before both parts of the corpse drop to the stone floor. KG rises, whirls his lightsaber back into a defensive position and stares defiantly at his one remaining opponent, despite the strong chant pulsating in his ears.

The ghoul stares hungrily back at the Wookiee, cautiously takes two steps toward him and savagely attacks. Both hands slash at Kurrelgyrre, nearly piercing the flesh of his arm and forcing him to dodge the razor claws.

Snteil, pinned under the other remaining ghoul, struggles to break free of his foe. The fiend's grip, although too strong at first, weakens at the right moment, and Snteil wriggles free from the ghoul's grasp. In response, the ghoul attempts to regain his hold on the Sullustan, but Snteil moves too quickly for it and avoids the creature's efforts.

The archway brightens to fully illuminate the room, shining its bright blue light down both corridors as the gate begins to open.

The monster facing the Wookiee sneers at his prey and lashes out again with his claws. The first attack causes Kurrelgyrre to dodge it, but the ghoul swings wildly through the air with his other hand.

Kurrelgyrre quickly counterattacks. His first strike nearly severs the ghoul's arm, but it pulls back at the last instant. KG's second swing is easily avoided.

Moving back a little further from his opponent, Snteil quickly fires his blaster at the ghoul. The ghoul slams himself into the floor to avoid being hit by the shots as they fly over him into the wall.

The Sith ghoul raises his head to stare angrily at Snteil, its eyes burning with hatred. He bares his teeth, roars at his quarry and pounces at the former bounty hunter. The ghoul lands mere centimeters in front of Snteil and slashes at him. The Sullustan blocks each attack with his arms and moves back to give himself a little more room.

The gate on the wall completes its activation, opening the way back to the other side.

The fiend fighting Kurrelgyrre flashes a look of sheer anger from the near miss and lunges at the Wookiee, thrusting its claws on one hand at KG's face while trying to cut under his arm with his other. Seeing the attack coming, KG dodges the assault on his face while blocking the blow coming from below with the hilt of his lightsaber.

Kurrelgyrre returns the favor and attacks, but the ghoul evades both attempts.

Snteil, growing tired of the ghoul's antics, takes careful aim with his blaster and fires. The first shot burns deep into the creature's chest. Without a sound, the Sith ghoul draws his last breath and slumps to the stone floor just below the gate.

As the Sullustan breathes a sigh of relief, he looks at the archway to see it ready and waiting for him to jump through. He takes a second to glance at his friend to find him still engaged against the one remaining ghoul. At that moment, he believes he hears a distant roar through the strong chanting in his ears.

As Snteil rises to his feet, the creature stalking Kurrelgyrre hisses at his intended prey and lunges at the Wookiee, its claws slicing through the air as it approaches. The first of the slashes to come within range takes a patch of fur back with it, but KG easily evades the second attack.

Seeing an opportunity, Kurrelgyrre roars at the ghoul and attacks with his lightsaber, driving it back as it works to avoid the deadly blade. KG takes advantage of the beast's retreat and bolts for the gate.

The ghoul attempts one last time to hit the passing Jedi, forcing Kurrelgyrre to dodge the incoming claw.

Standing by the gate, Snteil fires his blaster at the fiend to cover his companion. The first shot at the turning ghoul forces him to move away quickly. But, the second shot slams into its chest, throwing him back a few meters to the far side of the room.

The Sullustan turns in time to see Kurrelgyrre dive through the gate. As Snteil looks back at the remaining ghoul across the room, he sees three others turning the corner to gaze evilly at him. Snteil's eyes widen at the prospect of more of the foul creatures bearing down at him. Before the ghouls can react, the former bounty hunter vaults through the gate as it begins to close.

The two cohorts slide across the nexus room as they pass through the gate. Snteil slaps the arch as he flies through the opening, and the gate closes behind them.

Kurrelgyrre and Snteil lie on the floor to relax and catch their breath, glad to hear the pounding chant in their ears replaced with the sound of air gently blowing across their prone bodies.

The silence is broken a few seconds later, when a familiar voice calmly says, "So nice of you two to finally join us."

KG lets out a growl that says, "I am not in the mood to be messed with. With that, he turns to look at whoever it is that is greeting him."

Snteil rolls over and aims his blaster toward the source of the voice. The sight of a dozen Imperial stormtroopers, all aiming their blaster rifles at the duo, causes the Sullustan to pause. Snteil's jaw drops open at the sight of the blonde-haired Jarok, leader of the Xyber Corps, standing at the center of the assembly of the armored troops. The sight of Jarok's gloved right hand holding his currently deactivated lightsaber astonishes the Sullustan, leaving him speechless.

Jarok, after seeing Snteil brandish his blaster pistol at him, shows an expression of mock pain on his face, turns his hands outward and says, "Now, is that any way to treat an old friend?"

"Jarok, you're looking well," Snteil says with mock diplomacy. "Nice glove."

As Snteil finishes his comment, his blaster pistol is ripped out of his hands to fly through the air and land gently in Jarok's left hand.

"Thanks," answers Jarok. He looks down at the blaster for a brief second and continues, "Nice blaster."

"You like it?" Snteil rambles. "I do, too. I mean, sure it's rather cliché, being the infamous "Han Solo blaster" and all. But really, it's a very handy weapon, reliable, sturdy. Accuracy is a little on the weak side, though. But if you've got the talent, there's no problem. I mean . . ."

Snteil stops as he realizes that Jarok is staring an icy gaze at him.

"Now, Kurrelgyrre, I am not here to fight you today. Actually, I am here to escort you elsewhere. Somebody else wants to see you.

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is that you peacefully surrender and come quietly with us. I'd prefer the easy way."

"Of course, you would," interrupts Snteil. "You're probably rather attached to your other hand as well."

A grimace forms on Jarok's face upon hearing the remark before he replies with an edge in his voice, "And, you will probably feel the same way about your consciousness, if you keep it up."

Jarok noticeably calms himself, turns back to Kurrelgyrre and continues, "What will it be, gentlemen?"

KG rises to his feet. "Where, pray tell, do you intend on 'escorting' us? And who wants to see us?"

A smile forms on Jarok's face as he replies confidently, "You have an appointment with the admiral.

"We don't want to keep him waiting," continues the mercenary as he beckons in the direction of the archway leading back to Halkiir. "Shall we go?"

Kurrelgyrre looks over to Snteil with a look of "play along" on his face and replaces his saber back on his belt.

"Very well," replies the Wookiee. "We'd be happy to meet with the admiral. Will his daughter be joining us?"

Raising an eyebrow, Jarok answers, "His daughter? I didn't know he had one."

"I doubt he'd admit having a daughter anyway."

With obvious interest, Jarok asks, "Why is that?"

"Let's just say that the admiral's daughter is living a lifestyle that isn't exactly up to her daddy's standards. That's my understanding, at least.

"Somehow, I have a feeling she's wrapped up in all of this."

As Kurrelgyrre starts to walk by, Jarok hands Snteil's blaster to one of the nearby stormtroopers, clears his throat and holds his empty hand out to the Wookiee as if expecting something to be handed to him.

"Snteil," he adds, "your rifle as well. We don't want to disappoint the admiral."

"I don't think so," KG states as he gives Jarok a look that says that this is not up for debate. "You have my word of honor that I will not draw my lightsaber so long as no harm befalls me or my friend."

"I believe you," Jarok responds. "But, it's not me that gave the order. It's the admiral. If I don't do it, these stormtroopers will, and they will do it the hard way. Trust me. It's better this way."

Kurrelgyrre pauses for a moment, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath. Using a Jedi calming technique, KG replies, "Very well. But, nothing better happen to my lightsaber. I'm entrusting that you will take good care of it."

KG reluctantly hands it over to Jarok. Then, he takes off his silver bowcaster, slung on his back, and hands it to a stormtrooper hard enough to cause the Imperial trooper to recoil from the impact.

"Here you go, sparky. Take good care of that. Be sure to give it a polish."

KG turns to face Jarok again and continues, "Let's go pay a visit to the good admiral, shall we?"