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Fight or Flight

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
01.26.2014 , 01:30 PM | #1


Nestled away upon the astral void, amongst countless other specks of dust and rock, a planet drifted and turned as it had for millennia, untouched and unbothered. The green marble basked in the hot radiance of the system's lambent star as its backside wallowed in the cold darkness. Not a single one of its occupants walked upon two legs amongst its bountiful hills and forests. It was a place of nature, not a single piece of civilization gracing its graceful beauty. Not yet.

But as the great war expanded, so did its reach.

The previously untouched and unseen world soon found itself beset by armed forces. Republic and Imperial boots would march upon its surface. Jedi and Sith would meet, ready to clash until their dying breath. The forces met by happenstance, or perhaps fate, two scout ships encountering one another above the luscious world. The beautiful orb served as a backdrop as the opposing vessels exchanged fire. Laser batteries charged and released their destructive bolts, passing by one another as they headed toward their target.

The scout ships were struck by one another's cannon fire, wracking each other's shields, piercing one another's hulls. The ships floated above the untouched world, but that was not where they would remain. Maintaining only the loosest semblance of control, the two ships descended upon the planet, passing through the atmosphere with a trail of smoke and fire behind them.

They hadn't the power to continue their exchange, focusing entirely on surviving the upcoming emergency landing, but neither would let the other leave their sights. Even as the bellies of their ships touched the ground, even as they dug in and slid across the terrain, kicking up dirt and ripping trees from their roots, they kept the other's position firmly in mind.

Eventually, the vessels came to a stop, shaken but intact. The previously untouched world now found two scars etched unto its surface. Two scars. Two ships. Two sides preparing to meet. The survivors release their respective emergency calls before scrambling out of their small crafts. Each faction had only a single squad to their name, each led by a powerful warrior.

The Jedi and Sith rallied their soldiers, pushing them toward the other's crash site. Boots sunk into the beaten and battered terrain as the two sides converged. The white armor plates of the Republic troopers were soon sullied by the dirt kicked up by their storming feet. The black suits of the Imperial were similarly coated as they marched through the bent trees that stood between the two ships.

The two sides could see the rustling shadows of the converging forces across from them. The soldiers raised their rifles as they struggled to keep their footing amongst the world's natural overgrowth. The Jedi and Sith, however, glided over the rough terrain with fervor and grace, sabers at the ready as they drew ever closer to one another. Red and blue beams of plasma cut through the shadowed haze, serving as beacons to guide the two forces toward their inevitable meeting point.

The moment the shadows turned to figures, the two side found themselves standing at a small clearing. No trees. No hills. Just flat grasslands. The soldiers could see the pillars of smoke from the abandoned ships reaching over the treetops. But the Jedi and Sith had only one thing on their minds. Leaping into the clearing, the opposing Force-users charged one another as their forces kept to the rear. Utilizing the relative bastion of the forestry, the soldiers maintained their cover as they exchanged fire across the clearing.

Compact bolts of energy soared past the Jedi and Sith as they met in the center of the flatland with a clash of blades. The beams of plasma sparked as they connected, time and time again, blaster fire passing over their shoulders. Battle had befallen the previously unburdened world.

The Jedi and Sith fought with a grand display of martial technique, utilizing equal parts strength and dexterity. They would converge, press against another before leaping back, recalculating for their next convergence. The blades swirled and swung with such speed as to create streaking arcs of light.

The soldiers continued to release their volleys. The bolts of exchanged fire blew holes into the two side's natural cover, splintering and shattering the trees they sat behind. Those who found themselves in the open quickly hustled to another form of cover, ducking under the ever constant blaster fire sent their way.

Time progressed, and the two sides didn't seem to be making a dent on each other, merely exacerbating their presence on the previously unburdened world, kicking up dirt and grass, blowing apart trees. Meanwhile, the Jedi and Sith stood at the center of it all, battling tirelessly and without pause. Their bodies and minds were trained for war, and the spirits fueled their unceasing battle. But the time would come when they would cease.

Amidst the encroaching dusk, the Jedi and Sith noticed a change in the air. The pillars of smoke billowing from their crashed vessels had widened and expanded. It soon became clear that the burning wreckages had spread their flames to the surrounding trees. The winds had conspired against the invaders. The smoke was steadily being pushed toward the clearing from both sides, the air converging on the site of battle.

The world was already turning dark. With the intrusion of the smoky fog, the soldiers had lost sights on their opponents and fellows. All they could see was the enduring beams of light standing in the middle of the clearing, each a sizable distance apart.

Advantage. Disadvantage.

The soldiers knew their battle depended on their leader outlasting their rival. The surviving Jedi or Sith would run over the opposing forces without an equal to contend with. Under cover of foggy darkness, the soldiers emerged from their bastion amongst the cracked trees. With soft steps, they inched ever closer to the center of the clearing, the two beams of light serving as beacons to guide them. Fire from too far away and their plan and their positions would be revealed. Get close enough, plant a bolt in their target's back, and the battle would be won. But no solution so simple, so elegant, could hope to succeed in the soiled atmosphere they had created.

The two sides fired their rifles too early. The Jedi and Sith intercepted and deflected the bolts with ease, sending them back into the murky fog. More bolts followed, hoping to drown them in a torrent of blaster fire. The Force-users turned their attention away from each other to focus on the opposing soldiers. Though they never lost sight of their targets, the troopers had trouble following them. The red and blue beams of light glided through the smoky haze, drawing ever closer as none of their bolts seemed to be finding their targets.

A scream howled out as the first soldier was cut down. Then another. Within the chaotic fog, there would only be death and destruction. The small squads had no hope of taking down their targets. Under the cover of darkness and haze, some had hoped to flee, but they could not escape the Force-users' supernatural senses. Only their weapons visible, the troopers could only watch as the beams of plasma danced across the clearing with murderous grace. Soon there would none left to watch.

The sounds of blaster fire released their last echo. Almost as quickly as it had arrived, the smoke began to dissipate, pulling away from the clearing. The Jedi and Sith were left standing amongst the fallen bodies of soldiers. The flatland had been stained with death, and only the two remained standing. As the night befell them, the red and blue of their lightsabers shined brighter than ever, their wielders basking in the deadly glow.

Once more the Jedi and Sith set their sights upon one another. Raising their weapons, raising their guards, there was nothing for them to do but resume their battle. Under the cloak of night, the two warriors clashed, the sparks from their sabers lighting the clearing for an instant before releasing it back to the darkness. The beams of light touched for a moment before separating, repeating the process countless times as the hours progressed. The smoky haze obscured the stars above, leaving the warrior trapped in a dark void in which they were the only sources of light. In the distance, only the faintest of glows from the spreading flames and ashes could be seen.

The Jedi and Sith fought, unwavering, unceasing, untiring. The only two forms of sentient life on the planet and they were dedicated to snuffing the other one out.

Soon, the morning was upon them. They had battled through the night without pause, drawing upon the Force to bolster their resolve. The flames in the distance had subsided. The smoky fog was replaced by a morning mist. As the world around them shifted and changed and adapted, the two warriors remained the enduring constant.

The Jedi, white robed.

The Sith, black robed.

White, black. Light, dark. Blue, red.

The sounds of fury and battle echoed throughout the clearing, the warriors releasing cries and howls along each swing of their weapon. But the powerful figures could not overpower one another. They were trapped in an unending battle which neither could win.

As morning turned to day, the fighters expected the arrival of the accompanying light. But it never came. A heavy field of clouds had gathered, dark and angry. The first droplet to fall from the sky landed on the tip of the Jedi's lightsaber, evaporating in an instant. More began to fall, and soon, the two warriors found themselves standing beneath a torrent of rain. As their robes grew heavy and wet, as droplets turned to steam upon their sabers, the Jedi and Sith did not break their focus. They danced upon the muddying ground, stomping and turning over grass as they clashed time and time again. The ground was soon slick, each step the Jedi and Sith took needing to be utterly calculated.

The rain persisted. Soon, the combatants were covered to their waist in muck kicked up by their maneuverings. A slurry of mud and blood. The fluids of the of fallen and bisected soldiers had slowly been spilling into the ground, unhampered by their cauterized wounds. As the battle persisted, its participants were ankles deep in death. But they continued undeterred, unwilling to cease so long as the other stood. But some elements were beyond their control.

The Jedi and Sith charged one another, wading through the wet muck. Placing all of their energy behind their next swing, the warriors connected their blades one last time. The lightsabers clashed and locked, sparking with energy as they pressed against one another. But soon, they grew brighter than their wielders thought possible before promptly fizzling out. Gone were the beams of blue and red plasma. All they possessed were the cold hilts in their hands.

Whether by chance or fate, the lightsabers had simultaneously failed. Perhaps their power cells were depleted. Perhaps the constant rain overloaded them. The warriors did not know, but they futilely shook their weapons, pressing and prodding all manners of knobs and dials. Neither would be coming back to life. The Jedi and Sith had no weapons, but they were not unarmed.

The Sith gave a primal shove, hands releasing a shockwave of telekinetic energy that washed over the Jedi. The target stumbled backward in the muck, but remained upright. The two powerful figures traded blows once more, lashing out at each other with energies invisible to all but them. Without laying a hand on their opponent, they continued to battle, battering one another with focused blasts of the Force. As the rain fell, it impacted against the flowing fields of telekinetic energy, forming outlines upon the invisible waves before being batted away. The warriors kicked up streams of the dirt slush around their feet, guiding it toward their opponent.

Soon, the combatants were covered head to toe in the muck. Gone was the Jedi in white robes. Gone was the Sith in black robes. In their place were two warriors soiled with the stains of death. Through the gray haze of the rainfall, time had lost its meaning. How many minutes or hours the fighters continued to battle they did not know. Nor did they care. Their focus remained solely on bringing the other down. But as tireless as their spirits might have been, even the most powerful of Force-users could reach their limit. Eschewing their sabers, the warriors were forced to draw upon an ever dwindling resource. The Force was infinite. They were not.

Even as their bodies grew weaker, the blasts they endured shook them less and less. Their power was leaving them. As was the rain. The last droplet sent its last ripple through the wetland and all had fallen silent. Silent, except for the electronic chirp that that emanated from beneath the Sith's robes. The Sith pulled out a handheld comm, battered and grimy, but still working, if only barely. The holder released a low cackle as a message began to play, believing it to be a response to the previously dispatched emergency signal.

All was paused as they listened to the message. The cackle quickly subsided and the smirk turned to a dismayed frown as the regal voice on the other end of the comm revealed there would be no rescue. The Sith had been abandoned. Left alone. Forgotten. Teeth gritted, the Sith's hand clenched tighter and tighter around the device until it cracked.

The warriors returned their focus toward one another. The battle was not yet over. However, they could no longer affect anything beyond the reach of their hands. Thus, their hands did reach.

The combatants dove into the muck, digging through the muddy water. Their fingers fished around the bodies of fallen soldiers, searching for something to use. The Jedi surfaced with a blaster in hand. Dripping with water and caked in mud, the rifle released only a single bolt. Each subsequent pull of the trigger elicited nothing, the weapon spent.

The singular bolt soared just over the Sith's head, sending dark figure fumbling deeper into the muck, muddy water invading every fiber of the Sith's robes. The Jedi tossed the spent rifle aside, charging the fallen Sith. The Force had abandoned them both. All that remained was the paltry strength left in their bodies. The Jedi tackled the Sith, sending them both into the deathly water. Gone was the martial training. Gone was the discipline and art. All that remained was life and death.

The two warriors lashed out with wild fists and kicks, flailing about in the water, neither even taking the time to stand up. Flesh impacted against flesh as they battered one another amidst the splashing muck. Over and over they turned, neither gaining the upper hand for more than a moment. Finally, one got their hands around the other's neck, and plunged them beneath the water's surface.

The one on top tightened their grip, using what remained of their strength to keep the other's head below the muck. The surfaced figure was so soiled, so stained, that they had become indistinguishable from their opponent. But as the one below threatened to drown, they found their own purchase around the aggressor's neck and clenched with all their might. Slowly, both warriors were losing their breath, unable to breath, growing weaker by the second. But that just meant neither could finish the other off. Both of their hands slipped. The aggressor fell to the side and the other lifted their head from below the water's surface.

The two writhed and choked, hoping each breath would not be their last. Both sat, and sunk, in the soiled wetland. Their hands and feet were buried as they tried to steady themselves. Neither had the strength to stand. They were immobilized. Spent. But still the other remained firmly in their sights. Each was battered and bruised, almost broken. Each was stained, head to toe in mud and blood. And as they drew their bated breaths, as they stared into each other's eyes, only now did they see the other's face. It was swollen and dirty, but it was a face nonetheless. Despite neither possessing a helmet or mask, they had each considered the other as faceless as the soldiers they accompanied. No longer.

All they had cared about was ending the other's life and only now did they begin to question why.

They were enemies. But why?

They hated each other. But why?

Because they were told to, long ago. They knew nothing of each other besides the idea of what they might represent. Someone of light. Someone of darkness. And now, they were neither. All around them was the stew of death, sunken bodies of soldiers they had marched into battle. All around them was destruction, their mere presence taking its toll on the previously untouched, unburdened, unseen world. Dirt and grass had turned into a grimy muck. Once tall trees had been beaten down and splintered, turned to ash.

They had been given a mission. To eradicate the other. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else warranted thought. Everything was pointless other than their goal. Only now did the two survivors realize it was just as pointless as everything else. They fought, killed, and died at the word of another. They were forced to act not of their own wants and desires, but those of others. They were each tools to be utilized and cast aside when no longer useful.

No one was coming for the Sith. No one was coming for the Jedi.

They were alone, stuck with each other. Tired and at the end of their reach. For the first time, it was up to them choose what happened next. No masters looking over their shoulders. No governments giving them orders. They had survived for this long, unable to kill the other. But not unwilling.

They had been given free will, the choice to do what they wanted to do. Looking at each other, seeing their opponent soiled and covered with muck, they realized they were all but identical. A thought that brought them no solace. They didn't want to be the same. Their entire being depended on them being different from the other. That was why they fought. That was why they sacrificed. If they were the same, that meant it was all for naught. Pointless.

They were left with a choice. Use their free will to end the other, on their own terms rather than because it was expected of them? Or continue to survive? They had both crashed. Both of their crafts resembled little more than battered scraps of metal. But between the two, there just might have been enough spare parts to make repairs. Would they fight, as they always had, as others always would? Or would they cooperate, turning their back on all that had been instilled in them since joining their respective orders?

Stay? Or leave?

Fight? Or Flight?

*Author's Note*
Spoiler
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BenduKundalini's Avatar


BenduKundalini
04.16.2014 , 09:26 PM | #2
Origin of Symmetry!!!

Seeing that this JEWEL got zero comments just made me feel a lot better about my own stuff.
It's so good it's crazy. And just like the two contenders, here action does not lose one inch to insight.

The idea of the perfect duel symmetry is excellent - though far fetched, it makes for a mythological canvas, something right out the innards of the Bhagavad-Gita or some other ancient legend about gods battling with no end...

The muck, as a character, is pure genius, and I really didn't see the build-up coming. On the other hand I could see the whole fight perfectly well, right down to the combatants skidding when resisting their counterpart's telekinetic bursts, and the rain disintegrating on the sabers.

As soon as they were mired in the mud and that it was evident they were in a gridlock, it was impossible for me not to think of the trench warfare of WWI. And of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's insight about it in Wind, Sand and Stars: the "winner" would merely be the one to rot last.

If you haven't already seen it, you'll probably love a film called No Man's Land. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283509/

On the other hand, beyond their belonging to a clan, these beings belong to absolute essences, channel them, breathe them in and out. The dark side is fueled by hate, fear, cruelty, agression, and murder, the light side is fueled by grace, compassion, communion, and care for life. Jedi and Sith are the living embodiment, in a simplified fairy tale of good vs evil, of these very very different realms. So they're not just cannon fodder, victims of historical circumstances, leading to a conflict where, as the rolling titles of Episode III state, you have "heroes on both sides". That would go for the troopers, their families, etc.
Jedi and Sith are in sync with something that's beyond a given clan, or the accident of birth, they're in symbiosis with ethics incarnated - pure evil or pure good. They chose it. They went through trials - on the one side you have to purposely seek cruelty, harm for the sake of harming, purge yourself of all humanity so as to go to the next level. On the other side you get to learn that the more you advance in selflessness, the more power you get, the greater will be the fall if you ever let yourself slip.

Nevertheless, speaking of that verb, I'll very gladly let this one slip - your tale is just that good. A Tao of sorts. Geometrical to the core.

It could be interesting, as a separate piece, to see how the two opposites adress having to work hand in hand. Enemy Mine style? Does it take not too long, with things begrudgingly ok until the very milisecond the project is completed and killing off the other one/ readying yourself for an attack? Does it take weeks, months, years, so that they start growing on each other, one side "seducing" the other, and pulling him to the dark, or the light side, or both becoming "gray" jedi? Muck Jedi? Does escape never happen, and they feel Cast Away, and the other guy becomes Wilson?

I loved also the perspective of a little marble in space, untouched, suddenly finding itself with two scars on its surface. I myself made a similar comment about Taris. It's good to remember the bigger picture, and it is great to see things from the perspective of a classic SW opening scene in the periphery of some planet.

After this I started reading the adventures of Torrid Squadron. You are a truly gifted - and hard-working! - writer!

Do take care of your talent.

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
04.30.2014 , 09:53 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by BenduKundalini View Post
Origin of Symmetry!!!
...
Do take care of your talent.
Many thanks for the extremely kind words. I can't say how thrilled I was to have something of mine receive such analysis. It's good to see I succeeded in writing more than a simple action piece.

I wanted to write a story about bipolar symmetry, in which both sides slowly degenerate and drift closer and closer until they are indistinguishable from each other. Another thing I was particularly proud of was the fact that I made no mention of gender throughout the story. Whether the Jedi and Sith were men or women was an assumption the reader had to make themselves.

Quote: Originally Posted by BenduKundalini View Post
It could be interesting, as a separate piece, to see how the two opposites adress having to work hand in hand. Enemy Mine style? Does it take not too long, with things begrudgingly ok until the very milisecond the project is completed and killing off the other one/ readying yourself for an attack? Does it take weeks, months, years, so that they start growing on each other, one side "seducing" the other, and pulling him to the dark, or the light side, or both becoming "gray" jedi? Muck Jedi? Does escape never happen, and they feel Cast Away, and the other guy becomes Wilson?
Even though the main characters are pretty much nothing more than a set of robes each, I'll admit this piece was inspired by another pair of characters. In some of my stories, I'll get around to mentioning an organization of assassins whom employ a pair of Force-users who have turned their back on their respective Orders to become contract killers. A Jedi and Sith, unable to kill each other, who decide to go into a business where they and they alone dictate the use of their power. Should I get around to writing about them, they'll likely be only tangentially related to this isolated piece, but the connection will be there nonetheless.
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BenduKundalini's Avatar


BenduKundalini
05.01.2014 , 07:24 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Osetto View Post
Many thanks for the extremely kind words. I can't say how thrilled I was to have something of mine receive such analysis. It's good to see I succeeded in writing more than a simple action piece.

I wanted to write a story about bipolar symmetry, in which both sides slowly degenerate and drift closer and closer until they are indistinguishable from each other. Another thing I was particularly proud of was the fact that I made no mention of gender throughout the story. Whether the Jedi and Sith were men or women was an assumption the reader had to make themselves.

Even though the main characters are pretty much nothing more than a set of robes each, I'll admit this piece was inspired by another pair of characters. In some of my stories, I'll get around to mentioning an organization of assassins whom employ a pair of Force-users who have turned their back on their respective Orders to become contract killers. A Jedi and Sith, unable to kill each other, who decide to go into a business where they and they alone dictate the use of their power. Should I get around to writing about them, they'll likely be only tangentially related to this isolated piece, but the connection will be there nonetheless.
I know, I wish I had received in-depth response to my stuff, but now I do realize there's simply to much stuff in these pages and not enough time to read...

I've read No Lords, No masters (and I found the style quite different from this or Torrid Squadron, took me a while to realize it was penned by the one same guy) and it's not them so I'm guessing The Misfits? Haven't read a line yet.

I found myself musing about writing somthing for these boards today, just posted it in the Short Fic Challenge, It's 3.00 am and I started roughly 12 hours agoand forgot to eat or do anything else. Talk about cravings!!!

PS nice work on the generic gender. I really had pictured two men. But then again, pretty much the only named female Jedi we've seen on screen is Aayla Secura and that's for 10 seconds before she's shot. I thnik episodic memory plays a role here - towards which, for me at least, cartoons/video games count little.