Lousro fluttered up an overgrown staircase, his toydarian wings struggling against the damp air. As he crested the stairs he saw Ao with his comm out. “Oh, has Tate gotten in contact with us?”
Turning to face his master, naoutolan tentacles whipping from the movement, Ao fumbled with the comm. “Master Rohao, I just hung up. Do you want me to call him back?”
“No, just send him a holo saying we’re going to be out of contact again. We’re going to explore a little.” Lousro stopped hovering and hopped a few times toward Ao. “We’re going to find the source of Dark Side corruption here, and maybe put a stop to it. Are you up to that task?”
“Do you think I am?”
Lousro shook his head slightly. “That’s not the point. I want you to evaluate yourself. I’ll be going in regardless, I want to know if you believe you will return intact if we encounter Dark Side forces.”
A long pause followed Lousro’s comment as Ao thought about his ability and the task his master had described. As he focused on the Force, opening himself up to better evaluate himself he heard a calling from beneath the surface of Dagobah. It felt like two pieces of himself were down there, waiting to be reunited with him. “Master, do you feel something below us, calling?”
“What do you mean?”
“When I opened up to the Force I felt something, do you feel a call from below?”
Closing his eyes and searching through the Force Lousro was able to find the calling that was speaking to Ao. Under the dual calling, he heard another call. One that resonated with the crystal in his shield. He pulled a bracelet off of his left wrist and set it on the ground. Activating the bracelet with the Force Lousro motioned to Ao to examine the energy shield that emerged from the emitter. “What can you tell me about this energy shield? Start with the simple and expand upon it.”
“It’s a buckler energy shield.” Ao began, getting closer to the shield. “It has a strange, almost amber reflection to it.” Pausing, Ao grabbed a small stick and touched the shield with it. The stick began smoldering, too damp to burst into flames. “Woah, It’s not a standard energy shield, it’s like a wide bea-” Ao stopped short, realization washing over his face.
A grin tugged at the ends of Lousro’s mouth, slightly pulling his trunk up. “Yes, it’s powered by a kyber crystal.”
“Is this why you don’t use a lightsaber? You have a hilt, but no crystal in it.” He stared at the hilt on Lousro’s hip that he had only glimpsed flashes of before.
Lousro nodded, “that’s part of it. I built this from a design I found in my travels, and modified it quite a bit. What can you sense from the crystal?”
The sensation of examining a kyber crystal through the Force was not exactly new to Ao, he had studied a few as a youngling, but this was the first time he had done so by himself. He found a kind of a thread linking the crystal to his master, and a similar, less defined thread was spread between himself and Lousro. A third, newer thread was emanating from Lousro to below the ground. There were a few that led off where Ao couldn’t reach in the Force. Focusing on the one that went below the surface of Dagobah he noticed two other threads reaching down to a similar spot. When he followed those threads back he realized that they were linked to himself. Delving into the threads a little deeper he felt raw, positive emotion binding the objects and beings together. He let out a gasp as his focus was lost.
Lousro had been following his padawan’s travel through the Force, shadowing him. He wasn’t sure exactly what Ao Kreel had seen, but he had come to a similar realization a long time ago. He spoke aloud, breaking the silence that had fallen in the swamp after Ao’s gasp. “Remember, while we are discouraged from making attachments by the council the attachments they mean are ones that will hamper our duty as Jedi. They don’t mean to cut yourself off from those who support you in your duty, but instead to choose your attachments wisely.”
“Yes, Master Rohao,” Ao said, quietly. He looked like he wanted to say more but didn’t know how to articulate it.
The shield floated into the air and disengaged, it’s rainbow sheen disappearing into the bracelet. It landed in Lousro’s hand and he motioned in the general direction of the ship. “Come, I’ll comm Tate and have him try to triangulate our relative position. I’ll be able to get back here easily, but this swamp seems to actively trick followers.
Nodding, Ao followed behind Lousro. He was still following the threads towards the calling from below. When he had followed the connection down from his master, jumped to the pair of bright lights, and back up to himself he realized he was sensing two kyber crystals calling to him.