Omega and Draken had just finished reviewing the newest batch of Ar’Kell recruits. Then they moved out of the Ar'Kell Wing and toward the interior of the massive Varnusan Palace. Outside, through the palace windows, the setting sun cast the sky in orange and red, turning the clouds pink. "Hey look at the pretty sky," Omega said dreamily.

            "Yeah, mondo cool man," Draken shot back. "So man. I need to ask ya. What's your favorite band? Personally, I like the Glitterstim Spice Girls."

            "Not me," Omega replied. "The Back Street Bothans are buff, baby."

            Draken frowned, his mouth twisting to one side. "But Master Xar said the Glitterstim Spice Girls were the official Division band; how can you not dig 'em? They're such babes..." Draken asked, a confused look on his face.

            "Come on dude, they stink royally."

            Draken snorted. "I can't believe I'm hearing this. I could get you for treason on this. I'm embarrassed to even have you as a Aedile."

            "So you dig that 'ziggy‑zig’ crap?!"

            "You betcha! And don't you diss the Grand Master's group! He even has all their albums on mp3!"

            "Diss this!!!" Omega yelled, launching himself toward his Quaestor.

            The friendly yet intense scuffle that ensued could be heard throughout the entire section of the palace. Eventually Draken summoned on his greater ability in the Force and threw Omega across the room, where the impetuous youth sat nursing his wounds. Omega glared at Draken with rage‑filled eyes.

            "The Glitterstim Spice Girls are gay!"

            "So are the Back Street Bothans, and so are you!!"


            "You're fired, Omega! I'm gonna to have you sentenced to solitary and I'm gonna play 'Wannabe a Smuggler' a thousand times until you scream 'I love the Glitterstim Spice Girls! Guards!"


The NI Runon, Volume 4:

The Search for Mittens



            Jedi Templar Havoc stood on the carpeted floor of the Grand Master's Chambers, wishing he could be anywhere but there at the current moment. Xar paced back and forth in front of him, silently contemplating the dire news which Havoc reluctantly presented.

            "We... We lost, sir. Black Ops has taken heavy losses. There were just too many of the Rebels, sir. They launched a surprise attack on the Escort Carrier Liberator. I fear New Republic forces are in control of the Vonsam System."

            Xar paused and turned to look at him darkly. "Are you telling me that a dozen members of the New Imperium's most elite force of Jedi have been defeated by the New Republic?”

            "That’s... what I'm saying, sir..." Havoc stammered, eyes downcast.

            Xar resumed his pacing. "That is what I thought. I could barely make it out in between all the excuses." He sighed heavily. "I am most disappointed, Havoc. I am afraid you must be removed as head of Black Ops."

            "I understand, sir, and I concur," Havoc said in a low voice. He'd expected that.

            "Your career is far from over, of course. You have usefulness elsewhere. I understand you are considering taking the vacant Aedile spot in Ar'Kell since Omega left?"

            Havoc nodded silently.

            "Very well. We must strike back at the New Republic forces for this outrage. They insist on the notion that we are the enemy. So be it, then. But I cannot risk any more of the Division’s valuable capital ships..." He grinned maliciously. Havoc caught a note of anger in his voice. "Our houses need a bit of exercise. I will call a meeting of the Houses and their capital ships. Together we will strike back at them..."

            "Uhh... But sir..." Havoc began. "The Houses are in the middle of a mock-war on each other..."

            "Never interrupt me when I am talking, Havoc," Xar bit out, his voice tense with anger.

            Havoc opened his mouth to apologize, but then thought better of it and kept it shut.

            "This time we will devote three capital ships to this little war..." The Grand Master's voice was full of anticipatory glee. "And it will provide a good training ground for our Jedi. You are dismissed, Havoc. Call the meeting. Tell them to come immediately."


Varanus Templar


            Varanus Templar had just finished cleaning the officers’ toilet. It stank of cheap beer and cheaper tobacco. "This has to be the worst job in the Division. Maybe that was why Draken gave it to me." Only hours before he had lost his temper with the Quaestor of Ar'Kell. He hadn't meant to but Draken was getting annoyed with all the AWOLs. It wasn't his fault, after all two novices had just graduated and there was a party, it wasn't like he could say no. The party was going fine, they had had to use the officers’ toilet because there was nowhere else. Anyway it had just reached its height when in stormed Omega Kira. He didn't seem to mind, well not that much, but then he heard the music, it was the Glitterstim Spice Girls’ latest hit. He went absolutely mental and started thrashing the place. Everyone just sank into the corners and tried not to be noticed. Besides what could a group of initiates, novices and hunters do against the former Aedile of House Ar'Kell.

            When the dust settled everyone had managed to leave, except him. Then Draken walked in. Varanus probably would have gotten of pretty lightly only Draken had remembered his earlier outburst. That was why he was there when Havoc walked in.

            "Report to general assembly immediately."

            "Y‑Yes Sir, I'll just go change..." stammered Varanus.

            "NOW novice!" snapped Havoc.

            Varanus wouldn't really have minded only he was still in overalls which were soaked in beer and other stains. When he entered general assembly he knew that it was going to be one of those days. Everyone was in full dress uniform, everything was polished and pressed and here he was in dirty overalls which smelled of beer and other less pleasant odors. It wasn't long till people began staring and smiling.

            "Hey Var. Over here," called a familiar if rather amused voice. It was Amleth Uiara, a friend who had recruited Varanus into the Division shortly after himself. "What in the name of the Force happened to you. Didn't you hear the announcement earlier."

            "No I was in the toilet..."

            "What, swimming? Listen I heard that the Black Ops got a thrashing so the Grand Master has taken the matter up personally. I think that there is some kind of full mobilization going on." He didn't have time to say more because then a hush fell over the crowd like a dark veil of ominous dread as Xar Kerensky, Grand Master of the New Imperium’s Jedi Division stepped up to the podium. He was a striking figure standing alone clad all in black which was further emphasized by the gleaming, faultless bone white marble of the wall.

            He slowly turned his head to take in all gathered there with his steady gaze and steely grey eyes. They were cold and austere betraying no thoughts from the mind of their owner. They seemed to bore straight through you, down to your very soul. Slowly he began to speak:


GM Xar


            "My fellow Jedi, the Unified Galactic Republic has struck a deadly blow to forces both ours and to the New Imperium in the Vonsam System. The battle even now rages for control of the Naroon Quadrant. Therefore, to show that we are no easy prey, and to support the other NI forces in the Quadrant, I am asking each of our houses to devote their capital ship in this effort. These ships will coordinate with other New Imperium forces and together all our houses will prevail against the New Republic."

            He looked around the room, searching the eyes of the occupants, looking for their support. "Who will fight to defend us from the enemy?!"

            A raucous applause of affirmation filled the room. Xar raised his hands, smiling and yelling support for the NI, as well. The New Republic was about to find an unwelcome surprise.


Jarak Maldon

Xar’s Office


            "...yes and one with extra cheese. Thank you." Xar said.

            "Do you really think the New Republic Ambassador is going to like 36,473 Pizzas delivered to his house and put on his tab?" Havoc asked.

            "This is war!"

            "Ok... whatever you say sir."

            "What was that?"


            "Better... much better! Is the fleet ready to depart?"

            "Yes... all ships ready."

            "Good... ready my shuttle."

            "Sir," An apprentice said, "Message coming in from Andra Prime. Its the office of Jarak Maldon on long distance... something about him being turned into a gungan and wishing you luck."

            "Gungan? Haha! Figures, I knew that new experiment would change him into one of the stupidest creatures in the galaxy."

            "Well... some Gungans invented advanced weapons and..." Havoc interrupted.

            "What did I say about interruptions?"


            "Well now, I should be the one wishing him luck! Those floppy ears could attract even freakier female bands to him, do you know what it is like to be chased by the Glitterstim Spice Girls, Havoc?"

            "No sir, I don't."

            "Thank the Force for that! Uhh... I really do not want to get up out of my comfy chair here, just tell him thanks."

            "Yessir." The man said.

            "Excellent! Now let us thrust at the heart of the enemy! Now... do we have any gum?"

            "Gum sir?"

            "Yes, GUM!"

            "Uh... no sir. New Republic has but an embargo on all gum products."

            "Dang! I want my gum! New objective: Liberate all freighters carrying any gum or gum based products!"



Varanus Templar


            Havoc slowly bowed and made his way hastily out of the room. "There is something definitely wrong with the Grand Master. I just hope that it isn't like what happened to Mathis and Vynd a while back."

            Havoc paused to look out over the city of Varnus. Dusk was settling and the populace was scuttling along the myriad of small winding streets hurrying home to the warmth of their respective homes.

            "I wondered what has happened to Vynd Archaron."


Neres Warjan


            After the meeting, in which the Grand Master told them to prepare their Capital Ships ready to Battle, Jedi Crusader Neres Warjan walked into the Hangar, in which his Shuttle was waiting for his return.

            On the ramp of the Shuttle was waiting one of the new Initiates. Sightly nervous he asked Neres, "Any orders, Sir?".

            "Yep, tell the Pilot that he should fly as fast he can back to Castle Tanefang, and then call our Aedile to tell him that he should prepare the `Dark Knight` for Battle. We have to win a war against the so‑called `Republic`."

            "Ahm, and our Aedile is..."

            Neres takes a deep breath. "NiksaVel, boy, NiksaVel. Remember it this time."

            As the Shuttle made the jump into Hyperspace, Neres said to himself, "I've got a good feeling about this."


Gui Sun Paan



                    ‑‑‑‑Meanwhile, in Xar's Throne room.‑‑‑‑‑

            "Yes, master. I will destroy as many of them as I can." Varanus got an evil look on his face.

            "Excellent my apprentice, you have grown much in a short amount of time. I am pleased to know that I have you as my apprentice.”

            "Thank you, master. May I ask, if I can join the attack on the New Republic?" he inquired hopefully.

“Very well,” Xar nodded. “I do not see why not.”

 The young apprentice bowed to his master and then set about his task. "The New Republic will not win, as long as I am alive." he thought as he left the throne room


Varanus Templar


            The young apprentice opened the door to his chamber. To fight the New Republic he was going to be prepared. He went to his Glitterstim Spice Girls poster and released a hidden catch with the Force. The hatch slid back to reveal a vast and impressive array of weapons. He reached in and clipped his saber to his belt. This was followed by a brace of vibro‑knives around his shoulders and a belt of thermal detonators. Finally a large blaster across his back. He took one last look in the mirror, turned around, and promptly fell over form the weight. "Maybe less would be more. That’s the last time I listen to Beli about being prepared."

Then Draken popped into the room with a stern look on his face. “There you are, Varanus.”




            Draken had caught Varanus Templar not cleaning toilets, and doubled his workload.

            "See this?" Draken had said, pointing at a section of an ancient parchment map of the Royal Palace, "This is the Southwest Wing. It wasn't touched in the Imperial attack, and in fact has been sealed off for over forty years. You're going to be the first person in there in almost half a century, and you're going to look for toilets to clean."

            That's how Templar ended up where he was, and he looked around at where he was, awestruck. He stood in the midst of a vast cathedral ‑ it stretched out before him as far as the eye could see, then branched off in two directions. Where the chamber split into three, someone had placed a huge pedestal ringed by small fountains. Templar walked towards this pedestal, looking to his left and right, not at all concerned about toilets. Gargoyles sat on a ledge near the ceiling. The walls were lined with thick tapestries, emblazoned with the history of this world. Feeling there was something to be seen, Varanus pulled one of the tapestries aside; behind it was a small cell, perhaps a prayer cubicle? One of the walls was adorned with the head of a dragon and two tusks.

            Varanus's inspection was cut short by a scream. He immediately fingered his weapon and glanced around him; it was too hard to tell where the sound had come from as it echoed throughout the chamber. "Hello?" Varanus called tentatively. "Do you need help?" There was another scream, louder, more frantic. Varanus reached out through the Force, but found only a delocalized sense of rage, pain, and an abysmal hopelessness. He began running, looking for the source of the sound. "I'm coming!" he shouted. "Let me know where you are!" But there was no sound.

            At last, he came to a door at the end of the room. In one fluid motion, he sliced an inverted V into the door and kicked it down. It opened into a smallish courtyard. Vynd “Delta 1” Archaron was standing in the middle of the courtyard, looking disheveled and wearing nothing but a towel.

            "Um, D1. Hi," Varanus said.

            "You heard," Vynd said, sounding slightly surprised.

            "What are you ... Why ...?"

            "That was my early morning yell of horror," Vynd said. "I emit one or two every morning, but you're the first person who's heard."

            "I thought you were out finding Kurt or yourself or something like that," Varanus said, still as confused as you, dear reader, must be.

            Vynd brushed past Varanus into the cathedral, then walked with a quick stride towards some point further within the temple. "Xar had given me a ship ‑ that idiot Malphunoc refused to get the Angel reassembled ‑ anyways, he gave me a ship and said goodbye. I was about to take off when I realized that I hadn't had a hot shower for 18 months. So I went looking for a shower, started taking one, then realized I'd forgotten shampoo."

            "Uh‑huh," Varanus said, following as best he could.

            "So I went looking for some, and ended up locked outside, in that little courtyard. After about two weeks, I gave up attempting to escape and decided to live out the rest of my life as best I could. Screw the shampoo now."

            "I see," Varanus lied. "Why didn't you use your key card to get back in?"

            "I tried," Vynd said. He took something out of a fold in his towel and handed it to Varanus. It was a card, and read, "RAVENSPYRE. Present this card in the cafeteria to receive your meal."

            “Oh.” Varanus mused. “But… Wasn’t Osiris with you? What happened to him?”

            “I don’t know.”


            "I found a Beliblian falcon chick," Vynd continued. I named it Frightful and trained it to catch food for me." They had come to one of the prayer cubicles. Vynd swept the tapestry covering it aside, stepped inside, pulled the tapestry back, and tossed his towel over the bar the tapestry hung on. The cubicle began filling with hot, steamy water.

            "Did you catch anything?" Varanus asked.

            "Are you going to talk to me while I'm naked?" Vynd asked.

            Varanus shrugged. "It's either that or clean toilets."

            "I see," Vynd said. "Some of the toilets here look like they haven't been used in forty years. Try to flush one, and a dianoga jumps out. Anyways, to answer your question, yes, Frightful did catch something. It was our first day of hunting. I saw something furry moving on the ledge surrounding one of the buildings that enclosed the courtyard. I took off Frightful's hood and let her go. She grabbed the prey‑creature and flew away. I never saw her again."

            "Ouch," Varanus said.

            "That's only the beginning," Vynd said. "After catching her prey, she flew overhead and I got a good look at it. It was Mittens."

            Varanus felt as if he had just been gutted with a lightsaber. This was the most horrible thing he could imagine. If D1 said the Death Star was outside and getting ready to shoot Varnus, it would be less disturbing. "Maybe you should stay in the courtyard," he said when he had found his voice. "Xar knows Mittens is missing, but he thinks he's just exploring the Palace. If he finds out his cat's dead ..."

            "Don't worry about it," Vynd said. "He's my bestest buddy. I can handle him. I'll tell him over a pack of bubblegum. You think I should be wearing shower shoes?"

            Varanus Templar didn't answer, he just shook his head and walked away. Had he not been shaking his head ‑ had he been looking upwards ‑ he might have seen a furry creature perched on top of one of the gargoyles.


            Mittens cocked his head, deep in thought. "So, Xar will soon think I am dead," he thought. "If that is the case, he will not suspect that it was I who poisoned his gum. I must relay this news to Frightful ... It could mean yet another victory for the New Republic Animal Intelligence Division!"


Varanus Templar


             Frightful took to full flight. This latest information from Mittens was brilliant. The mind‑control device implanted in his brain which he directly controlled. He swept round the palace one last time and set off into the sunset.


            Down in the practice yard Omega was drilling himself. He thought best with a lightsaber in his hand. His thoughts were directed to the problem of lightsaber crystals being pulled out of place by the Force. He was concentrating so hard that he did not notice the Beliblian falcon fly overhead. His thoughts were suddenly and rudely interrupted by a large, rather sticky bird dropping. "That's it. Now I'm really pissed!" Omega looked up to see Frightful flying away in the distance. At last Omega had definite target, he summoned the Force. Omega felt the power flow through as Force Lightening coalesced at his finger‑tips.


            High above Frightful lazily glided along on currents of air. All of a sudden a flash of light preceded a massive bolt of lightning as it slammed into it's tail feathers. Beliblian Falcons like being vaporized as much as the next invertebrate. With Frightful destroyed his control of Mittens ended.

            Mittens slowly licked himself then set off to find his owner, he was hungry.


            Varanus Templar followed Vynd trough the Southeast wing at a distance, out of respect (and because D1 was incessantly mumbling to himself about shampoo). They both suddenly turned the corner to walk straight into Xar, Mathis and a rather annoyed looking Omega. The trio let out a combined gasp the two latter in surprise the former in anger. "What in the Core are you doing here? I thought I gave you an assignment?" asked the Grand Master. Vynd gave them the account of his life for the past two weeks while though omitting the facts about Mittens and Frightful. At the end of it Xar said, "Good work, but what happened to Osiris?”

“I don’t know. I guess he took the ship and left without me.”

“Hmm,” Xar mused. He turned to Varanus. “Have I not seen you before?"

            "Y‑Yes sir, I clean the toilets"

            "Ah, now I remember. Thank you, I have not seen the toilets so clean in ages."

            "Why thank you Grand Master, When you think of poop think of me." replied the novice with pride. The four other men paused and stared at Varanus as he suddenly realized what he had said.

            Things would have got very embarrassing had not Xar sensed another being close by. "Mittens? It is Mittens?!! Quick everybody follow me. The group of five ran over to a nearby sewer grating. Peering down using his Force enhanced sight Xar clearly saw Mittens lying down on some flotsam. "How are we going to get him up?”

            “Somebody is going to have to go down there and get him" said Mathis.

            "Yeah but who?" replied Vynd.

            "Well..." said Omega with a smile on his face "...when you think of poo..."

            All eyes turned to Varanus as he tried to get a better view of Mittens. "No. NO WAY"


                    (15 seconds later)


            "Man, this place stinks!" exclaimed Varanus As he waded over to Mittens. Just as he was about to pick him up Xar shouted. "Wait! Do you have any cat food?"

"Cat food?, why?" Replied the unsuspecting Novice as he reached to pick up Mittens. "Too late!" cried Mathis "Shall I call the medical staff?"

            "You'd had better," laughed Omega.

            "Well since you are enjoying yourself so much, go down and help him," said Xar vindictively. "Now!"


            A few days later Mathis was presenting his report in the Grand Master's chambers. "The body of an Apprentice was close by, horribly scratched and bitten.”

            "Hmm. Why was he down there so near Mittens? It does not make sense. By the way how is Omega and the Apprentice doing?"

"All right, Omega's almost healed but the Apprentice is still a long way of from recovering."

             "Thank you that is all" replied Xar. Mathis left the room and Xar turned round to see Mittens on the window staring intently at him. The mind control device had been recovered from Mittens, tests had shown that it is was from the New Republic. "Do not worry my purty lil' pussy we will find your attackers. Then I will destroy them."

            Xar looked out over the city as the fog from the river rolled in and the city settled in for the night.