The Dozen-and-Two Defenders, Part Four: Justice Unsatisfied

After too long of a break, I bring you what remains of the Dozen and Two Defenders saga!

Neesh Shodu could see almost 360 degrees, thanks to the Rodian’s large, multifaced eyes.

All the Jedi Knight could see was the ceiling, and a sea of Yuuzhan Vong.

Still, he kept his target in mind and his lightsaber in his hand, and he moved. And when a Jedi Knight moves, they move. In seconds, Neesh had cut through nearly a quarter kilometer of Yuuzhan Vong. He barely noticed the red blood dripping from various cuts on his arms, now-bare chest, and face as he glided through the enemy. Then, as he passed through the most of them, he faced something that apalled him at the most basic level, something that enraged him in some ways even worse than the enemy he was hunting.

Clambering toward him on four crustacean-like legs was a Vagh Rodiek– a mindless creature who, once, was a green-skinned Rodian hunter not unlike Neesh himself. The abomination sported deadly-sharp quills on its hand and back, and waved half-meter blades of solid bone in front of it as it charged toward the Jedi.

user posted image Neesh leaped nimbly to the left, barely avoiding a scythe blade to the chest. Sensing an opportunity, he expertly drew his blaster pistol- one he hadn’t slung since his return to the Jedi Order a month earlier- and fired three shots. One went wide, one slammed into the war beast’s shoulder blade, and one was diffused and scattered by the quills on its back. The Vagh Rodiek spun ninety degrees to the right, surprisingly maneuverable for such an awkward creature, and slapped the blaster from Neesh’s hand. Backed against the wall, the former bounty hunter was running out of options. Slashing out desperately, he cut deeply into the Vagh Rodiek‘s left “arm”, eliciting a screech that was both unnervingly Vong-like and disturbing bestial at the same time.

Neesh took the opportunity while the creature was stunned to leap over its head, barely avoiding the creature’s whole blade as he took up a position behind it. He landed on the opposite wall, holding on with his empty hand as he slipped toward the open corridor, and slashed at the war beat’s back. The thing howled again, this time swinging hard enough to disarm the Jedi and send him flying down the corridor.

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Neesh was lost. He stared down the corridor he had came from, only now becoming aware of all the blood he was losing. He had no idea where his lightsaber was; without its light, the corridor was nearly pitch. The Vagh Rodiek was just now getting its bearings, and as it swiveled to rush him, Neesh noticed something else.

Neesh recognized the human in the corridor where he came from, somewhat vaguely. He was a crime lord, a member of the Cortosis Crime Cartel whom Neesh had heard of or encountered from time to time. His name was… well, he was largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, and the group was as secretive as Black Sun. Try as he might, the Rodian couldn’t remember the human’s name.

His appearance wasn’t the only thing Neesh recognized, however. He was the Force presence.

The one who had Vandap.

Neesh saw red for a moment, and screamed as viscerally as his Rodian vocal cords were capable of. His eyes went dark as he unleashed his emotions. When he opened his eyes, the Vagh Rodiek was dead- its skin was blackened and charred, and the air smelled of ozone. The Jedi didn’t pause to consider the implications, however, as he called his lightsaber to his hand and gave chase, knowing through a beacon in the Force where the only human opponent he had on the ship had gone to hide.

Kyp Durron and Angel Voyelle arrived just in time to hear a blood-curdling Rodian scream. They knew without a doubt that it was their squadron-mate Neesh, and they came into view just in time to see a blinding flash of white-blue light. Angel looked at her companion, nervously awaiting confirmation of her fears, but the Jedi Master only stared grimly ahead. The young mother turned her own face forward as she witnessed her wingmate sprinting through a “door” (she winced as she realized it was some sort of internal sphinctre) and disappear.

The two followed, running. They weren’t moving quite as fast as Neesh, but they didn’t want him to go far outside their sight, either. They arrived outside the metal walls of a ship that seemed extremely out of place here, just in time to hear the distinctive humming of a lightsaber and see a faint orange glow coming from the opening over the still-extended ramp.

The Juhani pilot kept her blaster high as she ran aboard, not far behind her squadron leader. While she, like the other members of the Dozen And Two Avengers, took a proactive approach to fighting the war, she couldn’t deny that Neesh’s actions today were scaring her. It seemed like he was posessed by something other than fighting spirit. Kyp seemed to have noticed as well, although he didn’t seem too concerned about how Neesh found his motivation to kill Vong.

Still, Angel and Kyp both found themselves speechless, unsure if they should interfere, as their Rodian friend lunged forward. His orange lightsaber hummed and hissed as it lanced through the human male’s- Peace Brigade, she assumed- chest. The human shuddered, and as he began to cough and sputter the Cathar realized he had been vocalizing. She stared in horror as Neesh, also vocaliziing in rage, deactivated his lightsaber and pulled it out of his corpse. Despite being on a ship, Angel could feel a powerful gust of wind, and a shiver passed down her spine.

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Neesh still stood by the human’s twitching form, and he was obviously the focus of the storm. Angel could almost picture him, standing like this, using the Force to ransack the office of one of his bounty hunting targets a year earlier. She had never seen him this angry, though, and if she wasn’t too frightened to move, she would edge herself closer to the Jedi Master on the other side of the entryway.

Neesh howled in pain and rage, obviously unable to find whatever he was looking for, and slammed his fist on the floor. Kyp walked over to him, slowly, and placed a hand on his shoulder.

Confident that the Jedi Master had issues in order, Angel stepped quietly down the ramp. She didn’t smile as she leveled her blaster at the nearest Yuuzhan Vong, but her heart lifted all the same.

This was an enemy she could beat- and one she enjoyed fighting.

Jedi Master Kyp Durron meditated in silence. While he was not normally one for the inactive meditation of Master Skywalker and his followers, lately, it seemed he needed the mental clarity.

Sometimes he worried about Neesh; sometimes, he felt Neesh was the team’s greatest asset.

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In the weeks since Kubindi, the Rodian Jedi Knight had been training almost constantly. When he wasn’t running simulator exercises, he was training with a remote or dueling with another of the Dozen’s Jedi. He was quickly becoming one of the Jedi Order’s foremost duelists, realizing a talent he had always had, but not focused on as exclusively as many similarly talented Jedi. Almost like a one-man commando squad, Neesh had proven himself a master sniper, a skilled fighter ace, a lightning-fast gunslinger, and a master of the Fast Style of lightsaber combat.

Yet every time Kyp reflected on Neesh’s improvement, his mind flashed back to Kubindi, watching Neesh destroy a monster created by the Yuuzhan Vong with Force Lightning, and executing a crime lord on the spot. He had to wonder… was there something wrong about a determination to kill the enemies of the galaxy? Should he be lecturing Neesh on the dangers of the Dark Side? Or were Light and Dark distinctions a luxury the Jedi could not afford during this troubled time?


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