The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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07.24.2012 , 03:08 PM |
Submission #3: Exploration (I swear, I'm done now!!)
Old Stomping Grounds
JK (Esma and Scouge...the continuing saga)
spoilers for end of Chapter 3; Tython quests
Esma groaned as Satele Shan's voice carried over the low murmurs of the milling Councilors. Scourge paused in his exit of the room and raised one eyebrow at her.
"I would like to speak with you," the Grand Master said. Master Orgus had it right, the Council did too much talking. It had taken half the day to get through the briefing, and now, with the glorious exit door in sight....
"Of course," she said, ignoring Scourge's unspoken irritation with her acquiescence. "I'll be right back," Esma muttered to him, before following Satele to the far end of the room.
"I am concerned, Esma," Satele said quietly, "lately you have been more....chaotic. I fear you are treading closely to the Dark side, and your association with Lord Scourge may be to blame. It may be time to sever the connection. The Emperor is dead, after all."
Esma glanced over at where Scourge was standing at ease near the door, making the departing Jedi Masters uncomfortable, legs apart, hands clasped behind his back. He looked directly into her eyes from across the room, a challenge in the curl of his lip.
She looked back at Satele calmly. "Master Shan, I appreciate your concern. I will not lie and say that I am as true to the Jedi path as I once was, but I have been tested many times. I can assure you that I will not now, or ever, fall to the Dark side."
"I see," Satele said thoughtfully. "Please consider returning to Tython to work with the Masters here. You are strong in the Force, but you are walking a dangerous path."
"I will keep your kind offer in mind," Esma said, bowing slightly.
"Please do," Satele said, her words heavy with underlying meaning, "I would hate to have you exiled from the Jedi."
Esma stiffened and then bowed again and turned to stalk from the room and its inhabitants. Scourge followed her out and onto the upper balcony where she braced her arms on the railing and surveyed the lazily spinning holocron that dominated the central atrium and its small satellites with a certain amount of venom.
"I can feel the anger inside you." Scourge was so close she could feel his breath on the back of her neck as he bent down to whisper in her ear. "Very nice, I approve." A shiver hit her hard.
She turned around to face him, which put her close enough that they began to get more than a few curious looks. She glared at him, steadfastly ignoring how much she wanted to pull his head down and kiss him till they were both senseless. "Well, unlike some people, I refuse to throw a tantrum when I get mad."
Scourge's dark chuckle filled the atrium, drawing every eye. Esma gave him a dirty look and leaped the balcony as she used to do as a padawan, drawing a censorious glance from a Jedi older than dirt and probably twice as dry. She made for the exit, needing to get out of this place.
Tython was as beautiful as ever, the green forests and calm gray stone deeply imbued with the Force. Scores of padawans sparred or sat in attentive lessons. She took a deep breath of the clean air.
"I understand there are ruins here, from a time before the Jedi," Scourge said behind her.
"I'm not ever turning to the Dark side," she said, ignoring his statement while continuing to survey the view.
"And yet you are not entirely Jedi anymore, are you?"
She turned and met his eyes directly, "I know who I am. It is enough."
"You have strength," he said approvingly. He stroked his face tendrils thoughtfully, "We shall see if it is enough to keep you from the Dark side's grasp." It was almost criminal the way his voice slid along her nerve endings. Dark side's grasp, indeed.
"So," she said, turning to point as her skin heated, "that's the road to Kaleth."
"I would like to see it."
She began to walk down the road, no point in driving on such a beautiful day. Scourge caught up with her, his long legs eating the distance easily. It quickly became apparent that the padawans running up and down the road on various tasks had not been told there was a semi-tame Sith Lord wandering around in their midst. Their reactions ranged from confusion as they glanced from her to him and back again, to something close to abject terror. Scourge did not help matters by sneering at them.
"Bah! Brainwashed fools, blindly following the orders of their Masters. Not a thought of their own in their heads."
Esma opened her mouth, but then closed it. Scourge slanted an amused look in her direction. "They're not all like that," she muttered.
"'Not all like that'," he mocked, "such a spirited defense."
Esma ignored him, picking up her pace. His chuckle followed her down the mountain path. The tall broken stone walls of Kaleth were still being guarded by ancient droids, although they posed little challenge now.
"I trained here," she said, running her hand along one of the stones. She looked back to where Scourge was standing in the middle of the clearing, watching her with heat in his eyes. She hid a grin as she surveyed the ancient space.
The two of them wandered the ruins, Scourge examining the ancient devices, pausing to record and read inscriptions. They rounded a corner and spotted a padawan deep in meditation near a green stone. As they watched, he stood and lifted his hand toward a large boulder nearby. They could see him tremble and shake from effort, but the boulder remained unmoved.
"I remember this test," Esma said quietly to Scourge, "the boulder is supposed to be unmovable."
"What is the point of such a test?" Scourge asked in a low tone.
"It is meant to teach them to persist in spite of failure," she murmured, feeling sorry for the young man who was clearly not doing well. His shoulders were slumped in defeat.
Scourge snorted, "Blind persistence is foolish. You must change tactics in the face of failure, something the Jedi have never been good at."
The young padawan was clearly exhausted. He looked around the clearing listlessly until suddenly his head popped up.
"What is he..." Esma muttered, trying to see what had captured his attention. The young man sprinted out of sight briefly and then returned with a large branch. He wedged one end of the branch under the stone, took a breath, and pushed down with both muscle and Force. She began to chuckle when the boulder slid from its position.
"You say you undertook this test," Scourge said, watching the young padawan thoughtfully.
"What was the result?"
"I moved it," she said simply.
Scourge's lips stretched in a slow smile as he watched her head deeper into the ruins.
"You coming? It looks like there's a datacron up on this cliff, and I don't think there's anyone up there," she called with a challenging grin, her hand on her hip.
Scourge's smile became distinctly wolfish as he stalked Esma through the ruins.
My jk and Scourge actually did go datacron hunting on Tython last night. The baby toonlets running around are so CUTE!! (Scourge didn't think so.)
aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?
My Name is Solomon Crae
The Man in the Box