Renfry was floored. She had no idea that the galaxy was so... massive let alone that a single world contained so many people. Sure, she'd heard stories and seen pictures, but seeing was believing. The fact that she was told this wasn't even the largest of the worlds out there left her nearly dazed.
She'd left the ship that she'd... liberated on Dathomir, and began walking the streets of Corellia. Her garb earned her all sorts of strange looks from the locals, but most didn't know what to make of her and therefore left her alone. Her eyes darted around to each of the new sites and sounds. She had an understanding of the most basic technology, but most of what was here were items she had never seen before. There were so many... lights everywhere too. That was kind of annoying.
Eventually, she made her way into an open air bazaar. People were selling all sorts of items from clothing to food to jewelry that looked valuable. She tried not to look too star struck as she looked at all the things that were available and tried to ignore the skeptical gazes that everyone seemed to be giving her. Were they really all that skeptical? Or was she just that out of place here? Or perhaps it was the small sword that she had at her hip. Unusual by most anyone's standards, and it drew more attention than a blaster.
Takai hadn't been this far coreward in quite some time. Really it had been since she had busted out of a Free Worlds Alliance prison ship. Yeah, that was the reason. Still she missed the buzz and hubbub of the area, all the chaos of a Nar Shaddaa crowd with at least a 98% less risk of getting kidnapped and harvested for organs. The appeal really lay in not getting your organs sold on the black market.
The last time Takai had been to Corellia she had been wearing her beskar'gam. In lieu of that she wore an armored flight suit, and she sure did attract a lot less attention for it. It was strange being in such a place without her iron skin, and truthfully she missed its insulating presence. Walking among the aruetiise without it had been a harrowing experience when she first experienced it in the prison, and it had taken her time to get used to it outside that.
It still felt strange, especially among this large a crowd.
"One Coronet kabab... actually make that two." Takai told the street vendor, a surly looking dug who grimaced a smile at her as she stopped him midway through handing her the meat and grabbed another. Placing her credit chit on the counter and taking the food, Takai did enjoy being able to get food whenever she wanted now. It had been quite the pain, never being able to eat in public. Now she could just walk up to a street vendor and order food.
Takai had come to the market looking for a blaster rifle. Not one of those gunstore blaster rifles that they sold to civilians, but something a little more dangerous. Something that wasn't exactly legal most likely. Good thing she didn't give a kark about laws. Instead she ended up with two kababs and no rifle. Much tastier but much less deadly. So far she hadn't managed to figure out the black market here on Corellia and it was a bust.
But at least I have food. She thought to herself as she munched a kabab and eyed the crowd. There were all types here and she hardly stuck out with her cool spacer armor, an electrostaff slung over her shoulder, and a blaster on her hip. Even the vibroblade at her back wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
But a sword.
Takai's eyes were drawn to sword on the hip of an outlandishly dressed woman. She wasn't the only one. Takai could see the side glances to outward gawking stares of the crowd. She looked completely out of place, and completely lost in a new world. Takai knew the feeling. Judging from her dress she was probably some outworlds tribal who had never seen civilization before.
Hopefully she figures it out. The spare thought was regarded to the woman as she walked on by and Takai continued to munch on the kabab, enjoying the local flavor of Corellia while wondering if swords were legal there.
Renfry was still just walking along, looking at all the varied food when something struck her as... unusual. The Force was flowing differently, Bending around something or someone that wasn't her. Of course, in a crowd like this, telling who it was wasn't so simple, but it made Renfry stop in her tracks and look around with a frown.
She reached out to feel the world around her, trying to figure out if this was all in her head, but it certainly wasn't. No, there was definitely someone here who was bending the Force - intentional or not - toward themselves.
One of those off-world cults? Jedi and Sith, she thought they were called. She started walking along in the general direction of whoever it seemed to be emanating from.
She spotted a woman who looked like a spacer of some sort with a large staff on her back. Melee weapons were typically Force-using weapons, weren't they. So, of course, Renfry did the logical thing and started following the woman. No way that could go wrong. @Arclight
Takai had let the swordswoman pass mostly out of her mind as she carried on her shopping. Or rather looking for a front shop that would have what she was looking for in the back.
It wasn't long however before she felt a nagging in the back of her head. The hairs of her neck felt like they were standing on end.
Someone was watching her. She was sure of it.
Continuing to browse and eat her kabab, she finished one, tucking the sharp metal stick in an underhand grip up along her wrist. Passing a stall with a few hanging mirrors, she caught a glimpse of the same swordswoman in the crowd as the mirror turned. Expect she no longer looked lost.
She was looking at Takai.
Alarm bells rang in Takai's head. Bounty Hunter. The thought crossed her mind as she ducked into a large tent filled with hanging rugs from all over the galaxy, or so the sign boasted. Something about the bounty hunter angle didn't quite add up. The initial lost look on the woman's face.
Doubling around a rug with a colorful floral design, Takai watched the entrance while keeping herself mostly hidden from view.
The woman didn't really seem to notice her as she ate, though she would have sworn that she saw her cast a glance in Renfry's direction. The woman couldn't decide if she was simply playing dumb or actually hadn't noticed.
She decided that the best course of action would be to ask her. Worst case scenario, a fight ensued. Probably not, though, right? Though weren't these cultists the ones who had wiped out her people all those years ago?
Suspicion and a bit of fear suddenly coursed through her as she realized how poorly this might go. She gritted her teeth together and frowned, setting her determined spirit to get this done. She wasn't going to be intimidated by anyone.
The woman made her way into one of the tents and Renfry followed.
Excuse me, she said, making her way straight over to the woman. At this point, she was completely unaware of the potential stabbing that may ensue, but she was still a bit cautious as she approached. @Arclight
The possible assailant came through the tent right behind Takai. Gripping the rug with her free hand, free of a sharp pointy object hand anyways as she managed to smear the sauce covered kabab all over the rug as she prepared to toss it over the woman.
And then she blinked in surprise.
Since when were bounty hunters so polite?
"Uhh. Yeah?" She replied, only a little dumbfounded. Her body tensed, ready to spring into action at the slightest hint of provocation. Kabab stick gripped tightly in hand behind her body and the cover of the hanging rug, she was ready to commit to action if this woman's politeness turned out to be a ruse. "What do you want?"
"Sect?" Her eyes widened in surprise. Did this woman think she was in some kind of cult? Takai didn't have long to think about it before she was being screamed at from behind.
"Osik." She swore as her eyes went to the sauce smeared rug. Whats worse was the furry threads poking out of the once perfectly good kabab. Turning to the screeching woman, Takai had to look up to even see the woman in the eyes.
"How much?" She asked, murder in her eyes as she stared down the woman. The woman cowed for a second before coming back twice as loud and angry.
"500 credits." The woman stated, hands on her hips. It took Takai all of half a second to spot the price tag and call bullshit.
"500?! This tag says 400, and its got sauce all over it. I'll give you 250." She spat back, venom in her voice as she pondered just stunning the woman and making a run for it. She tried to keep an eye on the swordswoman as well, hoping she wasn't a bounty hunter who was about to put a blaster bolt in her back.
Renfry was taken off guard by the other woman coming up to them and beginning to yell. Granted, it did appear that the cultist had gotten sauce all over the rug, so she wasn't sure she could blame the woman.
You'll take 250 to have it cleaned, she said, waving her hand and making the woman take the deal so that the pair could be left alone. Of course, assuming that the mandalorian was also a trained Force users, she assumed this would go over without any issue.
The truth was, she was just curious about getting to actually find out something about these other sects. Surely they had teachings that the nightsisters didn't have access to. Surely there were things she could learn from them. Surely the woman wouldn't be at all freaked out by the Force. Surely. @Arclight
Great. What the kriff am i gonna do with a rug.Was all Takai could think before the cult-accuser waved her hand and magicked all the problems away. All the problems except 250 credits. And now she wouldn't even get a rug. Whatever she had done though, it made her mind prickle in uncomfortable ways.
"I'll take 250 to have it cleaned." The tall heavyset vendor agreed in an eerie monotone, seemingly sapped of her will.
All Takai could do was stare, blinking. Then she snapped out of it. Handing the rug vendor the credits, Takai was quick to get out of there before more questions were asked. Grabbing the woman who had been following her roughly by the arm she dragged her out of the shop.
"What the kriff was that?! Are you some kind of sorcerer?" Now it was her turn to accuse the woman. Her mind raced. She had heard of this magic before, the Jedi, the Sith. She had never seen it in action before though, the way they could just rob someone of their will and make them do what they wanted. Takai wasn't sure how she felt about it.
Renfry was surprised when the woman abruptly grabbed her arm and dragged her out of the tent. At first, she thought they were going to have to fight and that she had, in fact, misjudged the situation, but instead the woman just began demanding to know what it was that Renfry had just done. A sorcerer?
Renfry's face betrayed her confusion and surprise.
What do you mean "what was that"? she asked, face scrunching up. Surely this woman knew how to influence someone's mind with the Force. It was one of the simplest techniques taught to new trainees when they... oooooooh. It suddenly clicked in her mind why the woman had been so confused about her question and why she was so baffled to see the Force used now.
She didn't know. The thought was somehow oddly depressing to Renfry. The thought of carrying around so much potential, power, and an entirely different way to interact with the world only to not be able to access it or use it.
You don't know what you are, do you? she asked after another moment, eyebrows rising a bit in surprise. Cryptic questions were always such a helpful way to "answer" a question. @Arclight
"I don't know what I am? I know exactly what I am." Takai huffed, anger in her voice. Sure she didn't have her armor, it had been stripped from her along with her identity. Sure, she had been asking herself all sorts of weird questions lately. But that didn't change the fact that she was who she was.
"I'm a Mandalorian." She said proudly. She wasn't some sorcerer that could twist peoples thoughts and force them into submission with her mind. She had her fists for that. She was a warrior. A survivor.
She was also a lost person who had suddenly been feeling all sorts of strange things about the world around her that didn't make any karking sense.
She was filled with questions.
"What are you, some kind of Jedi?" She asked with a glare in her eyes. She had half a mind to hold the point of her kabab under the woman's chin and demand that she spilled everything, but held off for the time being. So far this outlander hadn't done anything threatening to her. Just twist someone's mind in front of her. Takai knew she would have to be on her guard.
Renfry was definitely not convinced that the woman knew what Renfry was talking about despite the woman's assurances that she knew what she was.
Then she proceeded to talk about something that Renfry had never heard of before. She anticipated Jedi or Sith as those were the names she commonly heard associated with off world Force users, but Mandalorian was not one of them.
A Manda-what? she asked, frowning. That's... I've never heard of your sect before, she said, though she immediately kicked herself for having admitted it aloud.
No I'm not a Jedi, she spat incredulously. She wouldn't admit that she didn't really know what the Jedi actually believed, but she knew she wasn't one, right?
Your sect. The mandas, are you allies to the Jedi? she asked, trying to piece the information together without looking like she was totally incompetent. @Arclight
There she went on about sects again, like the Mandalorians were some Jedi cult. I mean technically they were in some ways a religious order. A creed. But they weren't some cult of magic sorcerers. "You've never heard of a Mandalorian? What kinda backwater are you from?" Takai asked incredulously. Sure the Mandalorians had nearly gone extinct a few times in the last century, but plenty of people still knew about them to some extent or another.
"Allies? With the Jedi? Ha!" She had to laugh. They weren't exactly enemies anymore but...
"Let's just say we have a... complicated history with the Jedi." Yeah, that was it. Takai glanced around and realized that they were getting quite a few stares as they conversed/argued in public right outside a rug stand.
"Look, we're attracting a lot of attention," gesturing around at the growing amount of strange looks that they were getting. "I'm pretty sure you're not here to kill me or throw cuffs on me, so why don't we go somewhere a little quieter, somewhere with ale, and you can tell me all about what you think I am." Alcohol, that's what she needed to wrap her head around all this. And somewhere where she didn't have to worry about attracting the local authorities.
Renfry looked extremely unhappy to be asked what backwater world she was from. It showed on her face, and she was about to have it out with the woman until she started getting better information. Though mention of Mandas and Jedi having a complicated history just pointed further to the Mandas being a Force-wielding sect.
When the woman mentioned that Renfry wasn't here to kill her she looked puzzled again.
Kill you? Why would I want to do that? You haven't done anything to me, she said. The galaxy really was a strange place, wasn't it? Not quite what she had expected, and she couldn't decide yet if she liked it better or worse than what she had anticipated.
Still, the woman's proposal seemed reasonable to the nightsister, and she nodded.
Fine, but then you're going to tell me about your Mandas, she said, She was about to lead the way when she realized she had no idea where they would go.
Instead, she decided to follow the Manda until they reached an establishment that looked far from reputable. People were urinating in the alley, vomiting in the street, and generally looking like they'd injected or snorted anything that they could get their hands on. Renfry tried not to let her face scrunch up in disgust, but she couldn't help herself.
After the two had managed to get a booth, Renfry immediately launched into the barrage of questions.
So tell me about your Mandas. What history do you have with the Jedi? What is your training like? she immediately began, totally ignorant to the fact that they were still very much not on the same page. @Arclight
The woman looked confused once again. Especially at the mention of her trying to kill Takai.
"I mean you were following me. Sword," Pointing to the weapon sheathed at her side. Was she being paranoid? "Maybe I'm a bit paranoid. Part of the whole 'manda' thing maybe."
Am I being paranoid. She wondered as she lead the way to a crummy looking dive, tossing the skewer that she had been hiding into a public bin. For how paranoid she seemed, she was more comfortable in a place like this filled with scum that she would have no qualms with putting a blaster bolt in than a normal bar with... normal people. She shuddered at the thought. "Mandalorians." She corrected. "The Manda is the Oversoul, the gods, the people. The final destination. Where our souls go when we die in battle."Oh gods. We do sound like a cult.
"We aren't some sect or magic cult. We are the Mando'ade, the Children of Mandalore." She couldn't help the pride in her voice. Even ostracized as she was at the moment, she held pride with her people and their culture. "We once fought legendary wars against the Jedi sorcerers. War is in our blood and we train from childhood for it. Those of us born into the creed anyways."
Takai didn't often talk of her people. She knew the legends and stories and trusted their truth, but they were just that. Legends and stories. And Takai was no historian. She figured she had said enough about her people for now and it was time she got something in return. "So. What is it that you think I am?" She said with a small mocking smirk on her face.
Renfry frowned and cast an exaggerated glance at the Manda's blaster and electrostaff.
So who are you here to kill? she asked, taking the next logical step to that line of thought. She hadn't thought the woman was out to kill anyone, but if the only people to carry weapons in the galaxy were those intent on killing, then that must have been the answer.
She listened as the woman explained how her people - servants of the Manda - were definitely not a religious order. No, not at all. Renfry wasn't particularly buying that.
You fought the Jedi? Why? she asked curiously. Were the Children of Manda also conquerors as the Jedi had been? Enforcing the will of some empire as the Jedi enforced the will of the Republic?
Well, you're a wielder of the Shadow, of course, she said as if it were blatantly obvious.
I can tell, she added. Even if the other woman didn't know it yet, Renfry knew.
It surrounds us all. Mirrors us like a Shadow. Some can touch it, but most cannot. Can all your people touch the Shadow? she asked. It didn't sound like they were all capable from the words she said. @Arclight
"I'm not here to kill anyone." She said defensively as the woman looked at her weapons. "But I also refuse to be anyone's prey. Weapons are integral to my people, a necessary part of our religion."Definitely not selling the whole "not a cult" thing.
"We fought the Jedi because... well... " She stopped. Why had they fought the Jedi? She was no historian. "Because they were the enemy." She said with finality. It was flimsy but whatever. "Aruetti. Outsiders who stood in the way of our crusade with their magic. Worthy foes. A challenge for our warriors."
"The Shadow?" She questioned as the woman explained. Their ale arrived and Takai gave the server a credit chit. Sipping the thin stuff she blanched at the watery taste.
"You think I'm some sort of sorcerer?" She had to laugh. "That I can touch this 'Shadow'." She reached out with her foot and stomped on her own shadow cast on the floor with a smirk. "If there is such a thing, my people would not touch it, no. We wouldn't dare sully our souls with shadow magic that reaches out and tears the will from others."Like you just did. She scowled thoughtfully to herself.
"What else can this 'Shadow' do?" Her own curiosity got the better of her as she thought back to the few fights she had been in. "Does it aid you in battle, whisper of dangers in your ear?" She asked, toying with divulging her own strange experiences. She didn't want this woman's Shadow. But maybe she didn't have a choice.
Renfry tried not to look too smug as the woman defensively said that she wasn't out to kill anyone. She also found it humorous that the woman said that weapons were part of their religion and they fought anyone who was an "outsider." This was too ripe an opportunity for Renfry to pass up.
Yes, I can see all the differences between the Children of Manda and a religious sect, she said, subtly - or not so subtly - poking fun. There was almost no way to convince Renfry at this point that the Mandos were not a religious sect. Even if they weren't wielders of the Shadow.
You are, whether you have been taught or not, she insisted. A moment's pause caused her to wonder at what the woman said. Your religion forbids you from touching the Shadow? she asked, puzzled. Sully their souls? That was an odd thing to think. They were all connected by the Shadow. No exceptions.
Yes, it does. And it can alter the world around you. It connects us all together and wraps around all of us. It has many uses, she said. She started wondering if she should be trying to sell this to the woman or simply accept that she didn't want anything to do with it. But she could practically sense the curiosity in this woman whose name she now realized she didn't even know.
Perhaps you'd like to go somewhere for a demonstration? she asked curiously. Renfry knew better than to go flaunting her powers in crowds, but that didn't mean there weren't places on world where it was safer.
Okay so maybe they were a religion. Takai couldn't not notice the smug expression on the woman whose name she did not yet know as she spoke. But they weren't some sect of sorcery wielding weirdos. Just Blaster wielding weirdos who never took off their armor.
"Well... No. Not exactly." There were no rules against it exactly. "But our history tends to put us at odds with those that can touch this... Shadow." Not recent history in particular, but the sentiment was there. It certainly made Takai uncomfortable to see it in action.
Takai certainly wasn't entirely sure how comfortable she was with some reflection of the world that tied everyone and everything together. Binding. Penetrating. "Perhaps I will see this demonstration. But if you try to control my mind like you did that woman..." She left the threat unfinished. She wasn't sure what she would do, but it wouldn't be pleasant.