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Carja Prtah

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Carja Prtah was a street urchin that grew up in the alleys of Corellia. He was frequently bullied by older miscreants and was forced to learn to fight at a young age. He befriended the elderly keeper of a holo-theater who would often give him food from the theater out of pity for the poor boy, and many times Carja was allowed free admission to many of the holodramas. He immersed himself in the fantasies, as they were his only escape from the horrors of his real life.

Carja's favorite holos were those portraying the fanciful martial arts of the Echanis and the brutal war tactics of the Mandalorians. Prios Wihou, the theater's keeper, began to allow Carja to stay in the theater at night to keep him off the streets. Carja immersed himself in the holos. He began mimmicking everything he saw on the viewscreens late at night when no one was around. He thus augmented his natural fighting abilities picked up fighting on the mean streets of Corellia. He mixed the graceful dance of blades of the Echani with the ruthless tactics of the Mandalorians. His battle prowess on the streets was unmatched. He would often disassemble ancient mops and brooms from Prios' cleaning closet with which to practice the quarterstaffing techniques seen in his beloved holos, earning the older man's ire more than once.

Being an orphan, Carja had no idea of his birthday, heritage, or family. Prios celebrated Carja's birthday on the anniversary of the day he found the boy scavenging the theater's dumpster for an evening meal. He brought the urchin in from the cold and shared his own meager rations with him. The two formed a father/son bond.

On Carja's eighteenth birthday, Prios presented him with a gift two inches longer than the young man was tall. Pulling the old cloth from the gift, Carja stood gape mouthed in awe. It was an Echani Ritual Brand! Prios had saved for months in anticipation of this event and was not disappointed. The polearm had twin Echani blades, one on each end. They were thin, but not weak; nearly indestructible. It was a sculpture of deadly beauty, perfect balance displayed in a cortosis and durasteel blend.

Carja's tough exterior broke only momentarily when he nearly burst into tears and hugged the older man. He quickly remembered himself and drew back. Prios swallowed the lump in his throat and coughed blaming the dust and his allergies. He apologized that it was second-hand noting the unusual scoring and the name "Yusanis" inscribed on it. Carja still thanked him profusely, assuring him such a minor detail hardly mattered to him. Prios begged a performance from Carja as thanks. He amazed Prios with his athletic prowess and agility.

Carja was not known for his patience. He was not happy to eek out a meager existence as the man he knew as his father was. He began taking on small bounties from bondsmen on “bail-jumpers” and soon became quite addicted to his new profession. Normally the sight of his double bladed weapon made his mark quake in fear and give in. Growing more confident in his abilities, he began to accept more dangerous bounties.

One particularly violent mark ambushed him without warning setting him on his heels. He quickly regained his footing and was forced to accept the “dead” value of the “dead or alive” bounty when the target became too violent to subdue. The bounty was still high enough to increase Prios and his standard of living significantly.

Excitedly, he returned to the theater and burst through the door… only to find it burning in flames, and a helpless Prios trapped beneath a burning support beam. Oblivious to the danger and the burning building around him he ran through the flames to the older man's aid. Gritting through the instant pain and melting flesh, he grabbed the beam and heaved, not thinking it would move, but hoping it would budge enough to free Prios. He felt a faint stirring deep inside as he threw the beam across the theater. Too worried about his father figure to stop and be amazed, he scooped Prios near lifeless body and ran out the front door as the interior of the theater collapsed.

In the street in front of the theater Carja held Prios in his arms cradling the man in last seconds of life. Prios' eyes fluttered as he look at Carja. "I am proud of you, son," were his last words. With that, his breath left him, and Carja gently closed Prios' eyes. Heartbroken, he could only sob uncontrollably in the streets, taking comfort only in the dark hatred and rage that rose within him. A rage and hatred, he decided, that could only be satisfied with vengeance taken upon those who had robbed him of his only family. He focused all the hate, pain, and passion that racked his body, looked skyward and screamed to the top of his lungs. Electricity nearly the intensity of lightning shot from his eyes. Long scars immediately took jagged formation down his cheek bones and met at the point of his chin.

Carja lay in the streets, flesh charred but not caring. He could no longer see. He could no longer care. He could no longer live.

As he lay there, a speeder stopped beside the two bodies. He tried to look, to see his salvation or damnation. He saw neither, he saw nothing. He only heard a high pleasing voice as he blacked out, and hoped that death would take him.

Carja awoke, much to his dismay, sometime later. He didn't not know where he was. He blinked his eyes, and tried to gauge his surrounding. "Damn," he thought, "I'm blind."

He heard the high pleasing voice again. "Are you awake?" she asked as she pressed a soothing kolto patch to the side of his burning face.

"No," he replied sarcastically as he filled with self-pity, and was immediately ashamed. Prios had not raised him that way. "I'm sorry," he apologized.

"Don't worry," she soothed. "So," she continued, "What's your name?"

"Carja," he responded, "Carja Prtah. You?"

"Shoji Thul. Pleased to meet you Caraja. So I take it the Echani sword we found next to you wasn't yours? It was inscribed with the name Yusanis, but all the database searches provided the same result, a thousand year old Echani general killed at the hands of a dark Jedi. You don't appear to be that old."

"It was a gift from my fa-, my friend, Prios."

"The man we found you with. I am very sorry. We were unable to save him."

Caraja quashed the lump in his throat. "I know."

"Those burns on your face; they aren't from the fire, but they are very fresh. How did you come by them?"

"I don't know," he lied. "So," Carja said, eager to change the subject, "what's the verdict. Do I have to live?"

"You'll be fine," Shoji assured him. "But I doubt you'll regain the use of your eyes. I wanted to ask you about that, though. My father's company has been wanting to test an ocular replacement treatment. If you'll agree to be our test specimen, we'll administer the treatment with no charge."

"Why not? Couldn't hurt. Might help. What's the catch?"

"It might hurt. It will require extensive reconstructive surgery including the removal of the bridge of your nose and your eye sockets. In addition, you nose will be useless, though we will leave it intact for cosmetic purposes, and two "auxillary nostrils" will be drilled into your sinus cavity above the visor we will be implanting in the removed portion of your face. "

"Lovely," Carja gritted. "I've always been a ladykiller. I'll get 'em all now. Anything else I should know?"

Shoji hesitated before proceeding. "Well, this is a prototype. We are not sure how you body will react with it, though it is based on the technology of other widely used prothesises. You will be happy to know, however, that this is military technology. You will be able to see well in to the infrared spectrum. You will also have other light spectrums at your disposal."

Carja winced as he tried to sit up in the bed. "You got yourself a guinea pig."

"Wonderful!" Shoji exlcaimed. "You will not regret this. Do you have any other questions?"

"Any other parts of me broken or unusable?"

"You'll be very sore for a couple of days from extreme muscle exertion, but you should be fine. By the way, what did you do tear your muscles so badly?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Try me," Shoji coaxed.

"I threw a molten durasteel beam accross the theater. It was lying on top of Prios."

"I believe you. For some reason, as ridiculous as it sounds, I do believe you."

Over the next week Carja recovered fully. A few immersions in kolto tanks helped relieve the pain of the extensive burning and to heal the burn scars.

Shoji informed him that the procedure would take place in another week and that he was free to stay at the medcenter, free of charge until then. Carja took full advantage of the rehabilitation facilities in regaining his strength and fighting trim, despite being blind. Shoji was thoroughly impressed.

The day of the operation, Carja was laying on a sterilized bed and being administered sedatives and tranquilizers by Shoji. She patted his shoulder, "I'm glad to see you recovered so quickly from your initial injuries. Hopefully, you'll recover from the operation."

Carja stiffened, "Hopefully!?! Hey what are you doi..." He trailed off with the hiss of a hypodermic spray and faded peacefully to sleep.

When he awoke, Carja had a splitting headache. His brain was assaulted with a bright spot. Unable to comprehend what was going on, he tried to blink, to no avail. He tried to rub his eyes, and realization dawned on him. Carja slowly remembered what had happened. He saw bolt upright, felt Shoji lay a reassuring but firm hand on his arm his head snapped around to face her. All he could make out was a non-descript, however shapely, humanoid form displayed in red, yellow, and orange hues.

Carja's rage and hatred rose from within again and his hand reflexively flashed to Shoji's throat. "What the hell did you do to me!" he yelled, trying to strangle a response from her.

Instead of trying to pry free from his grasp Shoji tapped the screen on her datapad. A sharp needlelike pain shot through Carja's brain. He screamed and fell from the bed.

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