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Afterimages: Dawn


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JennyFlynn
01.30.2017 , 12:53 PM | #151
Oh I enjoyed this chapter very much. Praven's appearance and the eye A'tro is keeping on Angral, her thought that perhaps the Knight Rhys'ven will take care of him... had to laugh at the part about Ravage too and her protective instincts kicking in.

I feel bad for all three of them though, A'tro especially locking everyone out of her life because of the Emperor and what he might make her do. Can't be easy to push your husband and daughter away like that and that was a rough talk they had but I admire Saryn's strength and persistence too. Can't wait for more.
--------{---({@ Defiant Devotion | | Defying Destiny @}}>---}-------

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Lunafox
01.30.2017 , 01:06 PM | #152
Lovely chapter. I love A'tro's voice, she's very true to what I imagine of the SW. I feel badly for her though, as Jenny said, it's not easy to push away family, but I can understand her reasoning. Her daughter is very tenacious, I quite like her as well, and of course the parts about Ravage. I love me some Ravage. Looking forward to what the future brings.

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Vesaniae
02.22.2017 , 03:02 PM | #153
*brushes a light coating of dust off the thread* I really did not intend for it to be this long between chapters, but life seems to enjoy throwing extenuating circumstances at me. Hopefully there won't be too much more of that, or I may not achieve my goal of finishing this in the next couple of months. As always, thank you so much to everyone who has stuck with me through the long, long journey that is this fic. You're all wonderful. <3

Meanwhile, Rhysven's tale continues down familiar paths...


Fifty-One
Jedi Temple Ruins, Coruscant
35 ATC



The air in the ruins of the Jedi Temple seemed to carry a weight beyond the physical realm. It hung somber and still in the spaces between cracked walls and shattered pillars, muffling the footsteps of the two Jedi walking through the halls. You are not unwelcome, the Temple seemed to say, but you must show respect.

“This place feels like a mausoleum,” Kira Carsen said softly, her eyes darting from shadow to shadow. Sunlight filtering through the broken roof was the only source of illumination, sunlight that was growing increasingly sparse as the planet rotated towards night.

They were going to get ambushed. She just knew it.

“A mausoleum?” her companion echoed. “I don’t know if I agree with that.” Rhysven’s eyes were everywhere but the shadows as he swiveled his head around, clearly trying to take in as much of the Temple as possible. “The ancient Jedi…I can almost feel them. Watching us. Guiding us.”

“Hopefully they’ll give us a heads-up if they spot any Imperials lurking around a corner,” Kira muttered.

Either Rhysven hadn’t heard, or he chose to disregard her comment. “It’s a shame that the Temple is still in such poor condition. I thought there had been some repair efforts.”

“From what I heard, they had trouble getting funding from the Senate. We have a perfectly good temple on Tython, so why divert credits that could be used to rebuild the rest of Coruscant? Or something like that.” Kira shook her head. “Anyway, they did finally start rebuilding, but a series of accidents got the project shut down a few months ago. Guess now we know who to thank for that.”

“Imperial sabotage,” Rhysven said darkly. “In retrospect, it seems a little obvious.”

“These things usually do.”

“One would think the Jedi would have sensed Sith involvement.”

“Nobody sensed this coming,” Kira pointed out, gesturing at the ruins. “Sith are crafty bastards.”

“After everything we’ve gone through with Tarnis…” Rhysven murmured. “I’m going to have to agree.”

They continued on in silence. Despite her best attempts to keep her focus on their surroundings, Kira’s eyes kept drifting back to Rhysven. There was something inherently interesting about him, like a puzzle to which she only had a few pieces. She wasn’t about to let that stop her from putting together what she could, however.

He was some kind of prodigy, wasn’t he? Brought into the Jedi at sixteen, or so Master Kiwiiks had said. And now he was a Knight after only four years of training, which was nothing short of amazing. Kira had to admit, she was a little jealous. It must be nice to have everything come so naturally.

Then again… she thought, noting the faint line between his brows and the subtle but distinct set of his jaw. How much of his calm and collected demeanor was an act? The fate of Coruscant is resting on his shoulders right now. And mine too, but I’m just the sidekick. He’s the keystone. All the pressure is on him.

Kira found she was no longer jealous.

“So,” she said. “You think Tarnis knows we’re coming?”

“I’m operating under that assumption, yes.” Rhysven did not look at her as he answered, instead keeping his eyes forward. Ahead, the hallway opened up into a vast atrium—the primary site of the Sith’s attack more than thirty years ago.

“Sounds like a solid assumption to me. He’ll probably have men down here, too.”

“Then we’ll deal with them, too.” There was a definite note of tension in his voice.

Kira watched him carefully. “Ever fought a Sith before?”

“When would I have done that?” Rhysven muttered waspishly, then pressed his lips together into a tight line. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

“It’s fine,” Kira drawled. “I’ve heard worse.”

“We will find Tarnis and we will stop him by any means necessary.” He took a deep breath, then let it out. “We can take him. There are two of us.”

“Hopefully there aren’t any other Sith skulking around.”

Rhysven grimaced. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“That’s what I’m here for.” Kira smiled sweetly. “To assume the worst and hope I’m wrong.”

“That’s… I…” Rhysven trailed off as they emerged into the atrium. Signs of the recent reconstruction efforts were clearly evident: the vast space was cleared of rubble, and a few heavy construction vehicles were still parked around the site.

He slowed his pace as they stepped out into the open. “Something’s not right,” he said softly. “I sense lifeforms.”

Kira stretched out with the Force, extending her senses over the surrounding area. The Temple’s innate presence became even more tangible, rumbling steadily in her mind like the engines of a starship in hyperspace. She focused harder, and more presences became distinguishable from the background. There were a dozen or so of them, little embers of life—and another, farther away, that pulsed with darkness.

She looked at Rhysven. “He’s here.”

He nodded. “Ready?”

“Doesn’t matter at this point, does it? We’re out of time.”

Rhysven squared his shoulders and removed his lightsabers from his belt. “Stay close and try not to let them flank us.”

“Sure thing.” Kira let her Force senses return to their normal state. It was time to focus on the real world. She followed Rhysven farther into the atrium, drawing her lightsaber as she did so.

They had made it only a few meters when six soldiers in blatantly Imperial armor came charging at them from around the other side of a toppled pillar.

Rhysven’s blades flared to life, yellow and green. “Think there’s any point in asking them to surrender?”

One of the troopers unslung a rocket launcher from its harness on his back and sent a missile screaming towards them. Kira leaped to one side, noting Rhysven going in the opposite direction. She rolled, wincing as the missile slammed into the ground where they had been standing, and let her momentum carry her to her feet.

She looked across the fresh crater to Rhysven. “I don’t think they’re open to surrendering, no.”

“It’s a shame,” he said, and then he was hurtling through the air towards the Imperials in a Force-powered leap.

“Six down,” Kira commented a short time later. “Nice of them not to send their full force at us at once.”

Rhysven was already hastening through an archway that led to a smaller room off the atrium. Kira jogged after him. Sure enough, the remaining Imperial troops were waiting for them inside.

How did they smuggle themselves onto Coruscant, anyway? Kira wondered as they battled. I guess this place isn’t as impregnable as we always thought. She spared a glance for the Temple interior around them, still scarred by a battle from decades ago. How quickly we forget we aren’t invincible...

The last Imperial was dealt with. Rhysven’s every movement bespoke intense focus as he stalked down a short hallway and into the room where their quarry waited. Adrenaline danced along Kira’s nerves as she followed a few steps behind. Her grip on her lightsaber tightened of its own accord.

Lord Tarnis stood before a holoterminal projecting the images of four men who were obviously Sith. Two humans, one who might have been human under his eerie mask, and a Pureblood who looked like he could bench press the other three with ease. Tarnis himself had clearly wasted no time changing from his Republic doctor disguise into more traditional Sith robes. Kira briefly wondered how long he’d had those stashed away, and whether he had needed to iron them first.

“I’m departing Coruscant now, Father,” Tarnis said. “The Planet Prison deploys in minutes. The Republic will have no choice but to surrender.”

The Sith at the center of the group of holoimages smiled. “And the Dark Council will have no choice but to recognize our triumph. Every last one of them will bow to me when this is done.”

“This is the beginning of a new age,” Tarnis said eagerly. “Our age.”

“I wouldn’t count on that,” Rhysven announced as he stepped over the threshold and into the room.

“What’s this, Tarnis?” the masked Sith murmured. “A loose end? For shame.”

Tarnis slowly turned. “Have you come to die, Jedi?”

“Not today,” Rhysven said.

Kira just smiled.

“You’ve interfered enough!” Tarnis snapped. A red lightsaber blazed to life in his hand.

“Channel your rage, my son,” the older Sith urged. “Don’t let this Jedi steal your moment of victory.”

I recognize him, Kira realized. From history holos. That’s Darth Angral. The mastermind behind the Sacking of Coruscant. And Tarnis is his kid? Uh oh.

“Your blood flows through my veins, Father,” Tarnis said. “I cannot fail.”

He looked from one Jedi to the other, then lunged for Kira.

She was ready for him, bringing her lightsaber up to guard as he attacked in a series of swift, intense strikes. Guess he decided I was the weak link. Rude. She deflected his attacks and moved to riposte, but he was ready for her, angling his blade towards an opening in her defense—

Rhysven was there, his lightsabers whirling towards Tarnis’ side in a strike that would have laid him open from stem to stern had the Sith not pivoted out of the way. Lightning crackled from his free hand only to dissipate against Rhysven’s left blade while he brought the other around in a rapid arc to clash against Tarnis’ saber. Tarnis disengaged and took a step back, his stance wary.

He had no more than a moment before Rhysven was on him again, driving him back another step towards the holoterminal. Kira darted forward, spinning her double bladed saber towards Tarnis in a flanking attack. Now he had four blades to defend against. His eyes darted back and forth. There was no confidence in his demeanor now.

Kira saw the opening as Rhysven was taking it. Green and gold flashed, and Tarnis fell. His lightsaber clattered against the floor a moment later. Rhysven sighed faintly and bowed his head, lowering his lightsabers to his sides.

It was only then that Kira noticed the holoterminal was still transmitting.

Darth Angral quivered, his breathing visibly quickening its pace. His eyes were wide, his mouth twisting into a snarl. “Jedi filth,” he hissed, the words seeming to have been dredged from the darkest depths within him. “You’ve killed my son.”

“He’ll die for this, Master,” the Pureblood said. “I’ll see to it personally.”

Angral’s eyes fixed on Rhysven. “You have no idea what you’ve unleashed, Jedi. There is no place in the galaxy to hide from my wrath.”

Rhysven raised his head and calmly looked at Angral. “I do not fear you.”

“I will inflict unimaginable suffering on your people,” Angral growled. “Billions will die because of you.”

The fourth, hitherto silent Sith spoke. “We already control your secret weapon facilities. All that power is ours, now.”

“My son’s death,” Angral said, “will be avenged upon the entire Republic—and you will bow down before I let you die.” He pointed at Rhysven. “Tell your pathetic masters that Darth Angral has returned. This time, there will be no mercy.”

The holoimages vanished.

“Well,” Kira said into the ensuing silence, “that was…awkward.” She took a deep breath. “So, uh, about the Planet Prison.”

Rhysven started, then casually drove both lightsabers into the console beside the holoterminal. “I think that should do it.”

“Classy. Looks like we saved Coruscant, then.”

Rhysven extinguished his lightsabers and replaced them on his belt, frowning off into the distance as he did so. “One crisis solved, but we seem to have embroiled ourselves in an even worse situation.”

“Darth Angral,” Kira stated. “Such a charmer. I miss him already.” She shook her head. “We should probably get back to the Senate tower and tell everyone the good news.”

“And the bad,” Rhysven said grimly. He turned and started for the exit. “Let’s go.”


As you can see, I'm essentially doing a highlight reel of the JK storyline, here. If it a) furthers the plot; b) furthers Rhys' character; c) deviates from the game due to the AU or d) is just a part I really like, then it stays. Otherwise, I skip it because if I were to recap the entire JK line in detail we'd be here for the next five years.
There's always lightning.

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JennyFlynn
02.24.2017 , 04:01 AM | #154
I won't complain seeing excerpts of the Jedi Knight story line here, it is by far my favorite and I enjoy your take on the various segments. True to what they are but with a very fluid personal touch as well that shows us more about Rhys and who he is. Nicely done.
--------{---({@ Defiant Devotion | | Defying Destiny @}}>---}-------

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Vesaniae
08.23.2017 , 07:21 PM | #155
So, uh...it's been a while.

Life got in the way, as it does, and I wound up taking a break from writing for a while. I'm back now, though, so the adventures shall now recommence! It's somehow been two years since I started this thread. I promise I shall do everything in my power to make sure that you won't have to wait nearly that long for the story to end. (There is an end, by the way; I've got it all planned out. Now for the doing.)


Fifty-Two
Dark Council Chamber, Korriban
35 ATC



It had long been Darth Ravage’s opinion that the majority of the Dark Council’s meetings served no real purpose other than to waste his time. He attended most of them anyway, however, because he was just paranoid enough to worry that if he didn’t go, he might miss something important—or worse, something interesting. Besides, with the Empire at peace, he had nothing better to do.

The most recent call for the Council to assemble had been very impromptu. Most of the other members had declined to attend at all, citing scheduling conflicts, but Ravage had made the effort and shown up. He was glad that he had done so, for unlike most meetings, he had a feeling that this one was going to be both interesting and important. A rare combination.

There were only two other members of the Council present. Darth Pherebus sat nearest to the door. She had a datapad on her lap and appeared to be absorbed in the contents. Ravage could never tell whether her disinterest was an act. If it was, it was highly convincing. Directly across from him, Darth Nox lounged with one elbow resting on the arm of her chair and her face propped against her hand as if it were all she could do to stay awake. Her dress that day was lavender, and while the fabric covered her from chin to toes it was tight enough to leave very little to the imagination.

Darth Angral stood in the center of the chamber, his expression darkening as his gaze went from one empty seat to the next. Nox had already publicly disavowed his actions against the Republic, which was a grave insult, but to be ignored completely by most of the Council was an even graver one.

“You all know why I have come here today,” Angral declared. “It is my intention to embark upon a campaign of destruction against the Republic unlike anything they have ever seen.” His brows drew together. “And yet this Council has publicly denounced me, condemned my actions!”

“I told the Republic you are acting without our sanction because that is precisely what you are doing,” Nox said.

“And why should that be so? The Republic is our greatest enemy. I have the means and the will to bring about their end.”

“What you have is whatever we decide you have.” Nox examined her nails. “And you do not have the right to mount a full-scale invasion.”

“This is not an invasion,” Angral stated. “This is an extermination. With the Republic’s own superweapons at my disposal, I can destroy them with ease.”

“Thus far, I have yet to see any evidence that you are actually capable of keeping those weapons.” Nox shook her head. “No, I think it’s only a matter of time before you lose the rest as you did the Planet Prison, and then you’ll come crawling back to us to beg for troops. You will not get them then. You are not getting them now.”

“It’s been twenty years,” Angral snapped. “How much longer do you intend to prolong this pointless stalemate? The Empire is stronger than it has ever been. Let us take the fight to the Republic and crush them once and for all!”

Not wanting to let Nox do all the talking, Ravage spoke up. “This has nothing to do with destroying the Republic and we all know it. Even Pherebus knows it, and she’s not even listening.”

Pherebus did not look up from her datapad, but a small smile crossed her face.

Angral sighed. “Might not a Sith slay two enemies with one stroke of his lightsaber?”

“He might. He might also stay his blade and do what he’s told for once in his life.” Ravage crossed his arms. “You want to avenge yourself upon that Jedi, be my guest. Have him assassinated, have him kidnapped and brought to Dromund Kaas for you to play with, I don’t care. But you will not instigate open war with the Republic in the process.”

Angral’s jaw tightened. “I swore I would see the Republic burn in retribution for that wretched Jedi’s actions. I will not back down because the Dark Council is afraid to face battle!”

“You’re grieving,” Nox purred. “I suggest you take some time to come to your senses.”

“Come to my—!” Angral appeared to hold back his next words with monumental effort. He took a breath and continued in a voice fraught with tension. “Consider the position in which I find myself.” He looked at Ravage. “What would you do if you had been forced to watch your son cut down by Jedi butchers?”

Ravage shrugged. “Nothing amounting to the effort you are currently expending.”

“You’re a cold man, Ravage,” Angral said. “I can respect that.”

Nox laughed. “What utter nonsense.”

“If you actually respected me, you’d listen when I tell you to stand down.” Ravage sighed.

“It’s far too late for that.”

“Of course it is,” Ravage muttered. “And since you’re part of my sphere of influence, it’s my resources you’ll be recklessly squandering for the sake of your precious vengeance.”

“I have support across all the spheres of influence. The Sith are slipping through the Council’s fingers and there is nothing you can do to stop it. A leashed tuk’ata that senses prey can only be held back by its handler for so long.”

“A beast that will not obey must be broken or put down,” Nox drawled. “Which would you prefer?”

Angral turned towards her. “If the handler is too squeamish to utilize the beast’s full potential, she should not be surprised when it turns on her and tears out her throat.”

Nox’s omnipresent smile widened. “Perhaps the beast should growl less and bite more. I have yet to see evidence that it actually possesses teeth.”

Before Angral could respond, the door to the chamber opened. The Emperor’s Wrath stepped inside.

“I apologize for my lateness,” Darth A’tro said quietly. “I was occupied with other business when I received word of this meeting. I came as soon as I could.” She made no move to take her seat, instead remaining standing just inside the door as it closed behind her.

Ravage directed a questioning frown across the room at Nox, who met his eyes and winked.

Oh, he thought, feeling annoyed in spite of himself. So this is one of her little schemes. I should have guessed. But to what end?

“Lord Wrath,” Angral said with considerably more deference than he showed the other members of the Council. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“Is it really?” Nox murmured dryly.

“Angral,” A’tro said. Her expressionless face could have been a mask. “I expect you’re here to make your case for war.”

Angral nodded. “The Force speaks to me, Wrath, and it calls for blood. Surely this sham of a peace has gone on long enough. Is it not the Emperor’s will that we destroy the Republic in his name?”

A’tro’s eyes gleamed like two yellow suns. “The Emperor’s will is that you obey.”

Angral drew himself up. “This is not the first time I have found myself stymied by the Emperor’s supposed plans. The Treaty of Coruscant, which tore my great triumph from my grasp—”

“We know all about Coruscant,” Ravage interrupted loudly. “You’ve only brought it up at every possible occasion for the past thirty years. Let it go, already.”

Angral’s lip curled. “How convenient you would have us forget that time, Ravage—forget that you only have your seat on the Council because I allowed it.”

Ravage met Angral’s scornful expression with one of his own. “If you wanted this seat, you should have taken it when you had the chance instead of flouncing off in a fit of pique.”

“It was Baras who stymied me then.” Angral’s hand drifted towards his lightsaber. “He met his end in due time. As will everyone who stands against me.”

“You didn’t kill Baras.” Ravage gestured towards A’tro. “She did. Because Baras committed treason—as you seem rather close to be doing yourself.”

Angral cast a defiant look around the chamber. “Twenty-three years ago, Baras declared himself to be the Voice of the Emperor. The Wrath struck him down for his lies, as he deserved. And yet in all this time, no true Voice has emerged, has it?”

A’tro’s eyes narrowed. “I suggest you consider your next words very carefully.”

“Threatening me, Wrath? Is that the Emperor’s will, or yours?” Angral shook his head. “The Emperor has been silent for a very long time. Who is to say he even still lives?”

“He’s immortal,” Nox pointed out.

“So it is said. When was the last time he appeared to the Dark Council? He has not; he conveys his will through his Wrath. But we have only her word that the wishes she relays are truly his.”

A’tro’s lips peeled back from her teeth in an expression halfway between smile and snarl. “The Emperor does not suffer defiance from his servants.”

“Prove it, then.” Angral drew his lightsaber with a flourish. “I do not fear you—and I do not fear the specter you have conjured of the Emperor’s displeasure.”

“You’re a lunatic.” Nox sounded almost impressed. “If, by some miracle, you actually fight the Wrath and win, do you really think we’ll let you walk out of here alive?”

“This is no longer your affair, Nox.” Angral spat her name like a curse.

“No, I suppose it isn’t.” Nox leaned back in her chair and twirled a lock of her hair around one finger. “Do go on, then.”

Even as the words left Nox’s mouth, A’tro’s lightsabers were in her hands. She bore down on Angral like a hurricane. The older Sith defended himself with expert skill, deflecting her flurry of blows on his single blade. He counterattacked, moving with a speed that only a master of the Force could muster.

Angral had the advantage in height and reach, and Ravage could see him trying to muster those advantages to turn the tide of the duel in his favor, but to no avail. His every strike was met by a perfect defense, his every opening ruthlessly exploited. A’tro seemed to almost be wielding ten blades instead of two, matching Angral’s speed and surpassing it. She was utterly graceful in her deadliness, a virtuoso of combat.

Despite the scene unfolding before him, Ravage’s gaze wandered of its own accord across the room. Nox watched the duel unfold with one eyebrow raised and her scarlet lips pursed in a thoughtful expression. There was no doubt in his mind that everything was proceeding according to her plan, whatever it was. Every being in the Empire was a string on some great cosmic instrument, and she played them all in a melody that only she could hear.

A’tro made another vicious strike. Angral’s parry was too slow. His lightsaber was wrenched out of his grasp and clattered on the floor.

Ravage tensed, watching.

Angral stretched out a hand towards his fallen blade. A’tro swung at him with her right lightsaber, extinguishing the blade mid-swing. The hilt connected with his jaw with a crack. Angral wavered, defiance burning in his eyes, and A’tro hit him again. He fell to his knees and stayed there.

“I trust I’ve made my point,” A’tro said. She wasn’t even breathing hard.

“Do it, then,” Angral seethed. “Finish me.”

“No.” A’tro deactivated her other lightsaber and put both weapons back on her belt.

Surprise and confusion had Ravage halfway out of his chair before he realized it. “What are you—”

“Silence,” A’tro commanded.

The dismissal stung at his pride, but he was not about to defy her. Not after what he’d just witnessed. He lowered himself back into his seat. Nox, he noticed, was still playing with her hair, looking utterly unruffled by the turn of events. What were she and A’tro doing? Was this still part of the grand design?

A’tro stretched out a hand. Angral’s lightsaber left the floor and settled itself in her grasp. She studied it for a moment, one brow-ridge arching, then extended the hilt towards Angral. He stared blankly at it, then slowly took it.

“You are not worthy of death at my hands,” A’tro told him. “But you may yet earn that honor. When you leave here, you will be considered a traitor to the Empire. You will not be aided in your quest for retribution, but you will not be hindered either. Burn the Republic with your rage—and when it is finished, you will be reunited with your son.”

Angral looked at the lightsaber in his hand. Then he looked up at the Wrath. Then he got to his feet and walked out of the chamber without saying another word.

“That went well,” Nox commented.

“So you did plan this,” Ravage said accusingly. “I knew it.”

“There’s no need to sound so indignant. This will all work out for the best, you’ll see.” Nox rose to her feet and strolled towards the exit. “Do come along and I’ll explain.”

Ravage sighed to himself and followed. As he walked, he glanced back through the open Council chamber door and saw that Pherebus was still in her seat, reading. Did she even notice the fight? he wondered.

He put Pherebus out of his mind as Nox rounded a corner and stopped just ahead. The Force alerted him to A’tro’s presence as she came up behind him, and the three Sith formed a conspiratorial clump against one wall of the corridor.

“No cameras,” Ravage said in a low voice. “No Honor Guards within earshot. Now explain to me why you let Angral walk out of that room alive.”

Nox smirked her most irritatingly smug smirk. For twenty years, she’d been manipulating everyone. Manipulating him. He hated it. He hated her.

No, you don’t, whispered the treacherous little voice deep in his mind.

No, Ravage reluctantly agreed with himself. I don’t.

“If I had killed him,” A’tro said, “someone else would only have taken his place as the figurehead for the traditionalist faction. Better the enemy you know.”

“I do know Angral, yes,” Ravage snapped. “I’ve known him longer than either of you. He’s going to turn right around and start a civil war! And the Republic will not hesitate to take advantage of it.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Nox sounded entirely too pleased with herself. “A’tro may have humiliated him, but I think right now the foremost enemy in Angral’s mind is still the Jedi who killed his son. Now, he’ll take his faction and go on the offensive. They will break themselves on the Republic and we won’t have to lift a finger to deal with them.”

“But why go this far?” Ravage demanded. “If you never intended to kill Angral, why bother fighting him in the first place?”

“To hurt his pride,” A’tro said flatly. “Now, he’ll begin to question himself and his abilities. He may not admit it, even to himself, but he will fear me, now, and he will avoid facing me again if at all possible.”

“A man like Angral only knows of one way to heal his wounded ego,” Nox murmured. “Find something weaker than himself, and crush it. That something is clearly not us, so he will turn to the Republic. All we will have to do is sit back and watch.”

“You don’t know that for certain,” Ravage protested.

“Nothing in life is ever certain.” Nox’s demeanor became serious. “This was a gamble, I admit. I am confident, however, that things will go the way I expect.”

Ravage sighed. “I hope you’re right.”

“If you’ll excuse me,” A’tro said, “I have a few things I must attend to before I leave Korriban.” She inclined her head and walked away.

Ravage looked at Nox. “She’s changed, you know.”

“I know. I can only hope that it doesn’t interf—no. Never mind. That line of thought is best left unpursued.” Nox shook her head. “Might I suggest that you put your fleets on the alert, in case Angral does try anything?”

“Do you take me for an amateur? I saw to it days ago.”

“Just checking.” Nox looked past him and raised an eyebrow. “Company.”

Ravage turned to see the familiar figure of his favorite apprentice coming towards them.

“My lords,” Elaedrin Myn said, bowing respectfully as she drew within earshot. “Pardon me for disturbing you. I thought you ought to know Darth Angral just went past me like a mynock out of hell.”

“Yes, we’re aware,” Ravage said.

“Ah. Of course.” Elaedrin suddenly seemed to have trouble making eye contact. “You, uh, didn’t want me to stop him or anything, right?”

Ravage shook his head. “Angral is no longer our concern.”

Elaedrin’s eyebrows went up. “I see.”

“Word will get out soon,” Ravage said. “I want the rest of my power base briefed before that happens. I trust you can handle it?”

“Yes, my lord. Straightaway.” Elaedrin bowed again and set off back down the hall.

“She’s an eager little thing, isn’t she?” Nox remarked.

“Sometimes I think I prefer former Jedi to those who were born Sith. They have more to prove, so they work harder.”

“A’tro would agree with you, I think.” Nox pursed her lips. “You’re right about this not remaining secret long. I think we both ought to return to Dromund Kaas, and soon.”

Ravage nodded. “I can offer you a lift, if you’d like.”

“Me, travel with you? I think not. People will talk.” Nox chuckled. “Besides, I have a few calls to make, and I’d rather they weren’t overheard. I’ll see you later.” She waved, then left in a swirl of lavender silk.

Ravage watched her until she vanished around a corner. Then he sighed to himself and went on his way.


Small continuity note - Darth Angral passing up a seat on the Dark Council after the Sacking of Coruscant is mentioned in his codex entry in the game; since this happened to match up perfectly with my headcanon of when Ravage joined the Council I decided to take things to their logical conclusion.
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Kitar
08.23.2017 , 07:45 PM | #156
It was a very pleasant surprise to see this thread updated this evening. I enjoyed it and looking forward to more.
*grabbing a blanket to get comfy and wait for the next update*

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Vesaniae
08.26.2017 , 04:44 PM | #157
Thank you, Kitar I'm glad to be working on this again.

Fifty-Three
Aboard Defender-class starship
35 ATC



Hyperspace was a psychedelic blur outside the viewport. Rhys watched it for a few moments, entranced by the pulsating glow, then shook his head and turned to face the other way. He couldn’t hide on the bridge forever, no matter how much he might want to.

He made a superficial adjustment to the drape of his robe and headed for the main cabin. The vessel was new, the latest iteration on the iconic Defender-class design that the Jedi had been using for decades, and to Rhys’ admittedly unknowledgeable eye it looked quite impressive. The fact that he had been entrusted with such an advanced—and surely expensive—piece of hardware only drove home the extent of the responsibilities that now rested upon his shoulders.

He knew that the ship was a sign of how much faith Var Suthra and Satele had in his ability to succeed, but that did little to alleviate his worries. Yes, he had saved Coruscant, but he was still painfully inexperienced. Even if he managed to accomplish his mission and stop Angral, it was unlikely that he could do so without making any mistakes. How many lives would those mistakes cost?

There is no emotion, Rhys reminded himself. There is peace.

The Jedi Code didn’t make him feel better, but repeating it gave his mind something to focus on as he entered the ship’s largest room, a circular chamber dominated by a holoterminal at its center. On the far side of the room was a semicircle of seating around a small table. Kira was all but lounging at one end of the seating in a display of nonchalance that Rhys was starting to realize was her default mode.

“Hi,” Kira said, moving her feet from the table to the floor. “Nice ship, isn’t it?”

“It certainly seems capable.” Rhys circumnavigated the holoterminal and tentatively took a seat at the end of the semicircle opposite Kira.

“It’s fast, it’s shiny, it’s got that new ship smell…” Kira inhaled with exaggerated satisfaction. “Mmm. Anyway. What’s up?”

“Well, I…thought we should talk.” Rhys folded his hands together in his lap as his fingers tried of their own accord to start fidgeting. “Master Satele has assigned us together for this mission, and I wanted to talk about how that should work.”

Kira nodded. “Right. I’m your Padawan now, basically.”

“And you’re all right with that?”

One of Kira’s eyebrows went up. “Why wouldn’t I be? Angral has to be stopped, and I want to help however I can. Also, technically speaking, I volunteered for this. Satele just gave the go-ahead.”

“I know,” Rhys said, feeling more awkward by the second. “I just wanted to make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

“I do, actually. Better than you might think.” For the first time since Rhys had met her, Kira’s demeanor was utterly serious. “I may only be a Padawan, but I’ve been around the galaxy a few times. I know what’s what. And if you think that being my master means that you have to coddle me, or protect me, I’d like to put an end to that idea right now.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—I’m sorry.” Rhys took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You are more than capable of protecting yourself. You proved that on Coruscant. I didn’t mean to give the impression that I thought otherwise. But for all intents and purposes, you are my Padawan now, and that means you’re my responsibility. I wanted to be sure that you were comfortable with that, and with me.”

“If I weren’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Okay. That’s good.” Rhys took another deep breath and tried to resist the urge to apologize again. “I know we don’t really know each other very well, but I think we made a good team on Coruscant and I hope we can continue that trend in the future.”

Kira’s face softened, and she smiled. “I’m sure we will. You keep calling the shots and I’ll follow your lead, Master.”

Rhys winced involuntarily. The title felt uncomfortable, as if he were a picture someone was trying to shove into the wrong size frame.

Kira’s eyebrow crept back up her forehead. “Everything okay?”

“Yes, I suppose so.” Rhys sighed. “Well, yes and no. Do you think you could—I know you’re technically my Padawan now, but I would really feel better about this if you didn’t call me Master. It just doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”

“It is, though,” Kira pointed out. “You’re a Knight. You’re going to have to get used to the title, especially from non-Jedi.”

“I’ve only been a Knight for a few weeks. I had what must have been the galaxy’s shortest Padawanship…” Rhys ran a hand through his hair. “This has all happened so fast.”

“Hey, if it makes you feel better for me to not call you Master, then I won’t. I’ve never been big on authority figures, anyway.” Kira smiled self-deprecatingly.

“Thank you,” Rhys said with feeling. “I don’t want this to be a dictatorship. You have an opinion on something, you tell me.”

Kira’s smile widened into a grin. “You may come to regret that decision.”

“I’m not allergic to sarcasm,” Rhys said lightly. “And the fact is, I’m horribly inexperienced. I need all the help I can get.”

“Inexperienced or not, you still managed to save Tython and Coruscant practically single-handed. I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit.”

“I got lucky,” Rhys muttered.

Kira shook a finger at him. “Any Jedi worth their stuff will tell you there’s no such thing as luck. You’ve got the Force on your side—and like it or not, you’re kind of a hero, now. Sorry.”

“Am I so obviously uncomfortable with all of this?”

“Fairly obviously, yes.” Kira leaned towards him. “Listen. The fact that you don’t want to be in this position is exactly what has me convinced that you’re where you should be. Humility is a key Jedi trait, or so Master Kiwiiks always wound up reminding me. You’re going to be fine.”

“Thanks,” Rhys mumbled, feeling his face flush. “Stars, this conversation was not meant to turn into you having to reassure me about my leadership abilities. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kira said smoothly. “Like I said, a little doubt is healthy.”

In spite of himself, Rhys started to feel oddly reassured. “Thank you. I mean it.”

Kira shrugged one shoulder. “I always figured if the Jedi kicked me out for having too much fun, I could make a good living as a motivational speaker.”

Rhys looked at her—really looked at her, with both his eyes and the Force—and had the sense of standing on the edge of a very deep pool. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a Jedi quite like you. Not that that’s a bad thing.”

“I’m, uh…a bit of an unusual case,” Kira murmured. “Let’s just say I came into the Order a bit later than usual and leave it at that. Of course, so did you, if what I’ve heard is true?”

Rhys nodded. “Master Shariana Dasu found me when I was sixteen. But…” He hesitated. We’re going to be working together. She should know. “I don’t actually remember anything before that, so my life effectively begins with the Jedi.”

Kira frowned. “You’re going to have to elaborate on that one.”

“I’m from a mining colony in the Outer Rim,” Rhys explained. “Four years ago, it was destroyed in an industrial accident. I wouldn’t have survived if Master Shariana and her Padawan hadn’t arrived on the scene when they did. But, as a side-effect of my injuries, I’ve effectively lost my entire life before that point. My earliest memory is waking up on Master Shariana’s ship. Which means there are probably things about the galaxy that I used to know, that I should know, but I might not know anymore, so I might need you to fill in some gaps for me from time to time.”

“Those must have been some serious injuries if you don’t remember anything at all.” Kira sounded concerned.

“A combination of blunt force trauma to the head and oxygen deprivation, or so I’m told. But I’m fine now,” Rhys added hastily. “Master Shariana is one of the Jedi’s greatest healers, and thanks to her I’m good as new.”

“Except for your memories.”

“Except for those, yes.” Rhys sighed. “Please don’t worry about me. You’ve seen for yourself, I’m perfectly functional.”

“If you say so, then I believe you,” Kira said, although she did not seem entirely convinced.

“I’m glad someone finally does,” Rhys muttered.

Silence ensued. Kira drummed her fingers on the empty seat next to her. Rhys studied the backs of his gloves, which had suddenly become very interesting.

“I think I’ll—” Kira began abruptly.

“I’m going to—” Rhys started at the same time.

They both stopped and looked at each other. The bubble of tension that had been rapidly condensing around them broke, and Rhys smiled.

“I’m going to go check in on T7,” he said.

“Sounds good.” Kira stood up. “I’m going to scope out the crew quarters, maybe take a na—I mean, uh, meditate.”

Rhys’ smile widened. “You do that, Padawan.”

“Okay, hold on.” Kira put her hands on her hips. “If I can’t call you Master, you can’t call me Padawan. It’s not fair.”

“I was just teasing, Kira,” Rhys murmured contritely.

“That’s better.”

Rhys laughed softly, realizing as he did that he could not remember the last time he’d done so. “In all seriousness, I’m glad you’re here. I think this partnership is going to work out well.”

“Me too.” Kira grinned at him. “Let’s go save the galaxy.”
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Vesaniae
08.29.2017 , 05:52 PM | #158
Fifty-Four
The Citadel, Dromund Kaas
35 ATC



The sound of loud chimes from her apartment’s security system jerked Saryn Zaraine out of her deep meditation. She put a hand to her head as her bedroom spun around her, mumbling an archaic Sith profanity.

Why, oh why, she wondered with groggy irritation, do people have to bother me?

“Fine,” she muttered, climbing to her feet and moving over to the security monitor. “Who thinks they’re so deserving of my time that—”

The monitor showed Darth Nox smiling up into the camera outside the apartment door.

Ah, Saryn thought. The revelation did little to improve her mood, but at least she could take consolation in knowing that Nox would not disturb her for something that wasn’t important.

Probably.

She headed into the main room and opened the door. “My lord Nox,” she said in her best tone of polite deference. “To what do I owe the honor?”

“Just a friendly visit, dear.” Nox’s smile held more warmth than enigma. “May we come in?”

We…? Saryn glanced out into the hall. Nox’s Pureblood apprentice, Xalkory, stood a respectful distance away. Oh. I should have noticed him. I need to be more mindful of the present.

“Of course,” Saryn said, stepping out of the way of the door. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

Nox strolled inside, the long skirt of her dress swirling around her as she walked. She wore a shade of blue so dark it was almost black, which made Saryn uneasy. Nox liked to wear dark colors when she was anticipating having to commit violence.

Xalkory prowled in after his master like a leashed vine cat. His armor was of a traditional styling, but white rather than red or black in an extension of Nox’s deliberately non-traditional aesthetic. His face, however, was classical Sith, as harshly angular as Korriban itself with dramatic ridges set in red skin that told a tale of ancestry unmarred by human genes for many generations. Saryn had no doubt that he was a capable apprentice, but she also had no doubt that Nox liked to trot him out to impress people, like using one’s prized antique dishes for a fancy dinner party.

And he is an antique, in a certain sense, Saryn reflected, since blood purity doesn’t hold the weight it once did. Nox does love her trophies, though, and he’s much prettier than her Dashade, for all they serve the same basic function…

Nox’s voice cut into her thoughts. “Saryn, my dear, forgive me for imposing on you like this; I know you like to meditate at this time of day. I’m afraid this matter can’t wait, however.”

“It’s quite all right,” Saryn murmured. “I wasn’t seeing anything useful, anyway. What can I do for you?”

“Actually, it’s more a question of what I am going to do for you.” Nox raised an eyebrow. “Have you heard about the most recent…development…with Darth Angral?”

“It’s my understanding that he’s taken his supporters and left Imperial space.”

“Correct.”

“So we’re to be at war, then?”

Nox pursed her lips. “I don’t believe the Republic is ready to reignite full hostilities. Not yet. And without the Dark Council’s backing, Angral lacks the resources to push them over that edge, but that won’t stop him from trying.”

“Do you think he’ll be able to do much damage?”

“Perhaps. We’ll just have to wait and see.” Nox shook her head. “As you might imagine, Angral is quite unhappy with the Dark Council right now. While I’m fairly confident that he will focus his anger on the Republic, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he will attempt to strike out at the Empire in retaliation.”

“Is that why you’re toting him around?” Saryn asked, gesturing to the silent Xalkory.

“As a matter of fact, yes—though not for the reasons one might expect.” Nox laughed quietly. “I have no fear of Angral and his minions.”

“That doesn’t mean you should get comfortable,” Saryn said. Complacency had been the downfall of many great Sith throughout history.

“Oh, I’m not, rest assured. I still have much to do before I reach that point.” Nox glanced at Xalkory out of the corner of her eye. “No, I’m not ‘toting him around,’ to use your delightful turn of phrase, for my protection. I’ve brought Xalkory here for you.”

Saryn stared at her. “I beg your pardon?”

“Saryn, I witnessed your mother personally thrash Angral on the Council chamber floor. It was quite a fight. I doubt he’ll ever want to come within a parsec of her again—but he will not forget, and he will want revenge. A’tro is beyond his reach, but her family is not.” Nox smiled pleasantly. “Since it is in my best interests to keep my strongest ally happy, and because I am quite fond of you personally, I’m assigning Xalkory to act as your bodyguard until all of this is over.”

“What?” Saryn spluttered. “But—I—you can’t—” She took a deep breath and started over. “I appreciate the gesture, my lord, but I assure you it is unnecessary. I can protect myself.”

Nox gave her a solemn look. “Consider your mother, dear. She’ll be worrying about you, even if she won’t admit it. It will put her mind at ease if you have a nice strong Sith watching your back.”

“What about my father?” Saryn demanded. “He’s not even a Sith. Are you sending someone to protect him as well?”

“I hardly think that’s necessary. Your father is surrounded by our strongest military forces. His security is, frankly, much better than yours.”

“Are you implying that I’m weak?”

“Not at all. Everyone needs someone to look out for them in times like these.”

“Who looks out for you, then?” Saryn asked obstinately.

Almost everyone,” Nox amended. “I’m special.”

Saryn scowled. “How am I supposed to do my research with him breathing down my neck?”

“I’m sure you’ll manage just fine. He could even help. He’s quite bright, you know. And if nothing else, he can do your heavy lifting.”

“If I wanted a research assistant, I’d have one,” Saryn snapped. “My projects are secret for a reason. I can’t just—”

“Why, Saryn,” Nox murmured, “you’re not suggesting that my apprentice is untrustworthy, are you? Because if you were, that would hurt my feelings.”

“Respectfully, my lord, I don’t believe you have any feelings,” Saryn said waspishly.

Nox sighed wistfully. “You’re quite right, of course. Still, feelings or lack thereof aside, you are taking him. You have no choice in this matter.”

Saryn gritted her teeth. “Fine.”

Nox beamed. “It won’t be as bad as all that. You’ll see. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m fashionably late for a meeting with Moff Pyron.” She gave an artful wave and departed.

Saryn tried very hard not to sigh.

“Very well then,” she said coolly, turning towards Xalkory. “It seems we’re stuck with each other for the time being.”

Due to his status as Nox’s apprentice, they had seen one another often enough over the past seven years, but this was the first time the two of them had actually been alone in a room together. They had not had a conversation since their initial meeting on Korriban, and Saryn had never had any interest in changing that; Xalkory hardly seemed the sort of intellectual with whom she normally preferred to associate.

“Indeed.” He gave a polite bow that did nothing to mollify her indignation. “I’m at your service.”

“So you are. Whether I want you or not.” Saryn managed to look down her nose at him even though he was much taller than her sixty-five inches. “Don’t think you can impress me.”

“No?” One brow-ridge went up. “Most beings find me very impressive.”

Ugh. Nox would encourage an arrogant streak. She looked him up and down. “I’m sure they do. I, however, still remember when you came stumbling in after your final trial on Korriban looking like something that had been chewed up and spat out. And believe me, I am more than capable of reducing you to that state again if you give me a reason.”

“Lady Saryn, I am here to protect you,” Xalkory said mildly. “There is no need for threats.”

“Protect me,” Saryn scoffed. “What a joke. You, Nox, my mother—you all see me as a helpless little girl.”

“I won’t speak for my master, but I certainly don’t—”

“I wasn’t finished!” Saryn seethed. She knew she was going too far, that her temper was rapidly slipping beyond the bounds of her control, but she was past caring. “I have walked the halls of the ancients whose unholy geometry drove lesser minds mad and emerged unscathed. I have summoned Sithspawn from the dark ether using rituals of my own invention. I have murdered and schemed like a Sith twice my age and I have done so without flinching. I am more than capable of seeing to my own safety without having you latched onto me like a misbegotten barnacle!”

“I’d prefer to think of myself as more of an orbalisk than a barnacle,” Xalkory said lightly. “Sure, I’ll be attached to you, and it might be uncomfortable, but in the end, you may actually benefit from it.”

“Have you always been this glib, or did you pick it up from Nox?”

“Oh, a little of both, I think. Besides,” he added, his tone losing its flippancy, “what exactly do you expect me to do? I’ve been given a direct order by my master, and I’m sure you know that defying her is…unhealthy.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Nox would never hurt you. You’re like a son to her.”

“Be that as it may, I won’t risk it. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

“Wonderful,” Saryn muttered. “Just wonderful. I suppose Nox expects me to keep you at my side at all hours of the day and night?”

Xalkory nodded. “Within reason, of course. I won’t invade your privacy.”

“How courteous.” Saryn sighed. “The inconvenience of this situation continues to grow. Did Nox even consider the logistics before dumping you in my lap? I’m neither prepared nor equipped to feed and house two people in this apartment!”

“Rest assured that I am very low maintenance.” A hint of a smile passed over his face. “Also, I can cook, if that changes your feelings on the matter.”

Saryn arched a brow—though half human, she still had ridges instead of eyebrows—and tried not to roll her eyes at the absurdity of it all. “A bodyguard who doubles as a personal chef. It must be my lucky day.”

“All right, look,” Xalkory said. For the first time since the conversation began, he sounded almost irritated. “I know you aren’t happy about this. I understand. But getting testy with me will not make me go away. Far be it from me to tell you what to do, but can we not at least attempt to be civil towards one another? It will make this entire business much easier.”

“By assigning you here, your master has insulted my abilities and turned my routine upside down,” Saryn said tightly. “I think I am justified in being, as you put it, testy.”

“Yes, but that’s not my fault, is it?” Xalkory waved a hand around. “Darth Angral is out there right now engaging in treasonous actions. I’d love to be hunting down his supporters, but instead I’m here. Because Nox wants me to be here, and so I am. How either of us feels about it doesn’t matter. Until this is over, we’re stuck with each other.”

He was right, and she knew it. She cringed inwardly as she imagined the reprimand she would get from her mother if A’tro knew she had allowed her control over her temper to lapse in such a fashion. Peace was a lie, as the Sith Code said, but passion was also a lie. True strength in the dark side came from feeling nothing at all.

Despite her best efforts, Saryn was still a ways from such mastery. She would have to try harder.

“Very well,” she said curtly. “I suppose we both have no choice but to make the best of this arrangement. I will attempt to refrain from taking it out on you.”

“I appreciate your graciousness in this matter.” Xalkory punctuated the statement with a polite bow.

“Yes, well…anyway.” Saryn shook her head. “I suggest for the time being you make yourself comfortable. I must return to my meditations, which will occupy me for the next several hours.”

“Pardon me for asking,” Xalkory said hesitantly, “but since you mention it, and I’ve always been a bit curious…are the rumors true? Are you really a seer?”

“Yes.” Saryn frowned. “What, did you think it was propaganda or something?”

“Maybe a little,” he admitted. “After all, getting Force visions every now and then is one thing, but true foresight is very rare, isn’t it?”

“Rare and decidedly less convenient than one might imagine.” Saryn clasped her hands behind her back and settled into lecture mode. “Since you’ll be spending quite a bit of time with me, I may as well explain to you how my ‘gift’ works.”

“You don’t have to—”

“It’s no trouble, really.” Saryn took a deep breath. “Imagine the Force is an ocean. Most Force-sensitives are floating on the surface. They can dip their hands down into the water and feel its power, but it takes effort to fully immerse themselves. Forceblinds ride the ocean too, for all things are connected to the Force, but they’re in boats. They can’t feel the touch of the water.”

Xalkory nodded slowly.

“Some Force-sensitives, however, have a different kind of connection. They float deeper in the water, almost completely beneath the surface at all times. These are the truly powerful Sith and Jedi. There are an even rarer few, however, who are capable of opening their eyes underwater—and seeing the whole of the ocean laid out before them.”

“That’s you?”

“That’s me. Essentially, the Force grants me visions at random. I’ve learned to induce the visions through deep meditation—which is what I was doing when someone interrupted me—”

Xalkory looked slightly abashed.

“—but I still have no control over what exactly I see,” Saryn continued. “Furthermore, the future is not set; it is constantly being defined and redefined by the actions of every single being in the galaxy. So in addition to not being able to look for specifics, I have no idea if what I see is actually going to happen.” She put her hands on her hips. “Any questions?”

Xalkory shrugged one shoulder. “Makes me glad I know how to swim.”

“That’s really not what you were meant to take away from that.”

Another shrug. “I’m just saying. An ocean, like the Force, is as capable of causing death as it is of sustaining life. Without the proper skills, you’ll drown.”

“A deeper conclusion than I would have expected,” Saryn admitted. Maybe he’ll be capable of some interesting conversation after all…

One corner of his mouth turned upwards. “Was that a pun?”

…then again. “Never mind that,” Saryn said quickly. “The point is that the more time I spend meditating, the more fragments of possible futures I’ll see, and the more likely it is that I’ll find something useful.”

“Far be it from me to keep you from it, then.”

“Quite,” Saryn said stiffly. “You can just…keep yourself busy, I suppose. Just don’t touch my books. They’re antiques.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”

“Good.” She walked out of the room without giving him a chance to say anything else.

In her bedroom, she settled herself on the floor, closed her eyes, and steadied her breathing, trying to quiet her racing mind. It was more difficult than usual. She could sense Xalkory’s presence in the other room, and anxious fretting that he might ignore her orders and touch her precious books kept distracting her from her contemplative state. Finally, however, her mind tipped over the edge. Her awareness of the physical world faded and the images began, fragments of uncertain destiny parading before her mind’s eye.

Imperial warships burned in the depths of space, outmaneuvered and cut apart by a seemingly infinite fleet of unfamiliar vessels. Fire turned to mist that swirled around the imposing figure of a Sith Lord, light glinting off a mask that was eerily blank. The masked Sith faded away and she saw a shrouded figure seated upon a great throne. A man in Jedi robes emerged from the shadows and moved to strike at the enthroned figure, but Saryn’s mother appeared between them and caught the blow instead. She fell silently into the darkness.

The visions subsided. Saryn regained awareness of her body to discover that a dull ache had begun behind her eyes. She sighed wearily and began massaging her temples. Variations of that last image had been popping up in her visions over and over again for the past month. Sometimes, as she had just seen, the Jedi struck down A’tro. Other times A’tro killed the Jedi. And on one occasion, she had seen the figure on the throne devour them both.

Saryn had never tried to change anything before. She was not sure that she could. But perhaps if nothing else, she could still save her mother.

Enough meditating for today, she decided. I have work to do.
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Vesaniae
09.06.2017 , 05:47 PM | #159
Fifty-Five
Republic Orbital Station, Ord Mantell
35 ATC



As he stepped off the shuttle onto the orbital station, Rhys began to feel a distinct sense of unease. The feeling only intensified as he made his way through the station. By the time he reached the turbolift leading to the airlock where his ship was docked, unease had blossomed into palpable adrenaline.

Beside him, T7-01 emitted a series of beeps. Jedi heartbeat = accelerated // Something = wrong?

“I don’t know,” Rhys said. “I think the Force is trying to tell me—”

The door to the turbolift opened. A human who was unmistakably Sith stood in the middle of the airlock walkway, flanked by a pair of Imperial soldiers. The three of them formed a triangle around Kira, who emanated an air of defiance despite her bound hands and bloodied face.

A chill settled in Rhys’ stomach. His lightsabers seemed to jump into his hands of their own accord. Before he could make a move, however, the Sith had his own crimson blade leveled at Kira’s throat.

“So, your master was here all along,” the Sith mused to her. “Well played, Padawan. Your lies convinced even Darth Angral.”

Kira grinned insolently. “Why thank you.”

Rhys took a breath, held it, and let it out. “I will give you one chance to surrender,” he said in a voice that sounded much calmer than how he felt.

“Surrender?” The Sith laughed. “Don’t be absurd. I hold the power here, not you. You’re in no position to make demands.”

“I wasn’t demanding anything. Just giving you an opportunity to resolve this peacefully.” Rhys edged closer, assessing the battlefield. He’d take out the soldiers first. One strike each, quick and clean. “If you refuse to take that opportunity…”

“A threat? I’m almost impressed.” The Sith smirked. “But you won’t attack me. Not while I hold this girl’s life in the palm of my hand.” He lifted his lightsaber closer to Kira’s neck. “Sith Intelligence noticed her wandering the station and alerted my master. Darth Angral came from twenty parsecs away for a personal interrogation.”

“I told him you were on Corellia,” Kira said smugly. “Suckers.”

She’s still acting like her usual self, Rhys tried to reassure himself. They can’t have hurt her that badly.

It’s still my fault.


“The situation will be rectified soon enough now that the truth is out,” the Sith said. “Jedi, I will give you the same offer you extended me a moment ago: lay down your weapon and surrender. If you refuse, your Padawan dies. And we wouldn’t want that, now would we?”

“He’s bluffing,” Kira said calmly. “He can’t kill me. Angral’s orders.”

“Foolish girl,” the Sith hissed. “You should have stayed quiet and spared yourself further pain—”

“First it was ‘talk or we’ll hurt you,’ now it’s ‘shut up or we’ll hurt you.’” Kira shook her head. “Make up your damn mind.”

Rhys took advantage of the Sith’s distracted state to advance further.

Enough,” the Sith growled. He cracked the hilt of his lightsaber against Kira’s jaw. She gasped and fell to one knee.

The Sith turned to Rhys. “I’ll never understand what drives you Jedi to throw away your lives. Is it some misguided sense of duty?”

From the ground, Kira met Rhys’ eyes and mouthed a word that he interpreted as distraction.

I can do that,
Rhys thought. He looked at the Sith. “What drives you Sith to be so afraid of death? Is it because you understand, deep down inside, that the elevation of the self above others means that you will only leave behind as much as you put into this life, a sum total of zero—”

Kira stretched out her hands and channeled a Force push that blasted the Sith off his feet. The soldiers opened fire. Kira rolled out of the way as Rhys leapt forward, deflecting their shots away from her, and dispatched them both with two neat slices. The Force whispered of danger behind him, and he turned back around just in time to face the Sith, who was advancing on him with rage in his eyes.

Before Rhys could move, a series of blaster shots rang out and the Sith fell to the floor. T7-01 rolled forward, pistol attachment smoking faintly, and gave a disapproving whistle.

“Thanks,” Rhys said. “I owe you one.”

T7 = happy to help

Rhys turned to Kira and broke the stun cuffs on her wrists with a quick swipe of the Force. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah.” She waved away the hand Rhys offered and staggered to her feet. “Nice diversion, there. Who knew philosophy could be so usef—” She broke off with a hiss of pain, stumbling in midstep.

Rhys all but jumped up beside her and put a steadying arm around her shoulders. “Easy,” he said anxiously. “Don’t push yourself too far.”

Kira closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I think…one broken rib. Maybe two. Just help me to the medbay and I can patch myself up.”

Rhys began gently steering them towards the ship. T7 passed them and extended an arm to interface with the ship’s security panel, opening the hatch and lowering the boarding ramp. Another extended arm gently held Kira’s lightsaber, presumably retrieved from the dead Sith behind them.

“I’m sorry,” Rhys whispered. “I should have gotten here sooner.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Kira said firmly. “I knew what I was signing up for. Besides, if you’d shown up earlier, you would have run into Angral, and I don’t think we’re ready for that battle yet.”

“You don’t know that for certain.” Guilt crept in from the shadows and settled deep inside him. “I could have stopped him here. I could have ended all of this right now.”

“Or Angral would have killed you and all of this would have been for nothing. We’re both alive and that’s what matters.”

They reached the boarding ramp.

“If anyone should be apologizing, it’s me,” Kira continued, her voice sounding strained but still wry. “I mean here I am, practically my first day on the job, and I’ve turned into some kind of—ow—distressed damsel…”

“Not your fault,” Rhys said shortly. “Angral is a Sith Lord; what were you supposed to do?”

“So only you’re allowed to blame yourself, huh? That doesn’t seem fair.” Kira shook her head. “Never mind. How was the Imperial listening post?”

“It was full of Imperials,” Rhys said, grateful for the change in subject. “We, uh, handled it. T7 grabbed the data from their computers and we got out as fast as we could.” Just not fast enough.

“Good. Because I have some real bad news.”

“There’s never any other kind, is there?” Rhys muttered.

“Sure doesn’t seem like it.” Kira paused at the top of the stairs leading down into the lower hold. “Angral left with an Imperial admiral to refit a battle cruiser. I think they have some kind of new weapon.”

“What kind of a new weapon?”

T7 = scanned Tarnis + Angral design schematics, T7 warbled from beside the holoterminal. Desolator world-killer weapon = attaches to battle cruiser

“Of course it does,” Kira sighed. She looked at Rhys. “I can make it to the medbay on my own. You need to call General Var Suthra and warn him, now.”

Rhys hesitated. “Are you sure you’ll be all right?”

“Don’t worry about me.”

“That didn’t answer my question.”

“I’ll be fine. As soon as I take some pain meds.” Kira started to pick her way down the stairs. “I’ll be back in action before you know it.”

Rhys tried his best to believe her as he headed for the holoterminal. Despite his best efforts, the worm of guilt gnawing at his insides refused to leave. Train and protect her as if she were your own Padawan, Satele had said. Their mission had barely begun and he’d already failed on both counts. What kind of Jedi was he if he couldn’t even manage that?

Worse, he knew it was only the beginning. How many more people will suffer because of me? he wondered. How much blood and pain will be the price of victory?

Rhys was a Jedi. He would give everything he had, everything he was, to save the Republic. He only wished that others would not have to do the same.
There's always lightning.

Eiter's Avatar


Eiter
09.06.2017 , 07:27 PM | #160
Just wanted to chime in with how much I enjoy this story, and how happy I am that it continues.
I'm not much of a commenter, but as an example: The fact that you devote an entire chapter, and an early one at that, to just two people standing in a hallway talking, and still make it a good read... That's a mark of good writing skills, right there.