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Forceblind


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Quifand
03.08.2013 , 12:37 PM | #21
CHAPTER 14: Dreams

CORAN WAS back in their hideout. It was the same dream state from before, except his teammates were no longer appearing from thin air.

Yet.

“Well, least I’m not dead,” Coran muttered to himself, trying to put the pieces together. Last he remembered, he had sat down behind the controls of the ship on some wild instinct. His mind had been yelling at him to stop, that he had no idea how to fly a ship, and then, it had all gone blank.

That was when he’d come back here. Again.

He’d tried yelling and kicking and screaming. He’d even found his spare blaster he’d always kept under his bed and shot up the room. But, no matter what he did, as soon as he turned away for even a second it would all fix itself. It was starting to get annoying.

Suddenly, inexplicably, the room shook back and forth violently, as if a ground quake was happening. It lasted only a few seconds before stopping rather suddenly.

“What the-“ Coran began, but he didn’t get very far before a loud, otherworldly voice cut him off.

“You are a fool.” It echoed, the sound reverberating around the small, enclosed space.

Not responding, Coran drew his weapon and began to check the room, searching for the source of the sound. The voice, unperturbed, continued to speak to him.

“I should not have had to intervene, yet I did. Your plan failed to succeed. If this continues, I may require a new host.”

Giving up his attempt to hunt down the voice, Coran sent several rounds into the ceiling, hoping to at least disturb whomever was talking to him.

“Your weapon does nothing, fool. Perhaps you are even less intelligent than I thought you were.”

“Who are you?” Coran finally snapped, sending another volley of bolts into the ceiling.

“Ah,” The voice said, finally sounding pleased, “Finally, an intelligent question.” With a trickle, like sand through a sieve, a figure appeared behind Coran. It had glowing skin that breathed a soft blue smoke, and wore a tan robe, similar to that of the Jedi Order. It appeared in the shape of a human, but every time Coran tried to look him in the face, all he saw was a conglomerate of thousands of different faces and expressions from thousands of different people.

“I,” It said, having a body at last, “Am the essence, the idea, the force that is Balance.”

“So what?” Coran asked, giving the “spirit” a skeptical look.

“So what?” The spirit mocked, sounding insulted, “I am Balance, I am the difference between the light and the dark. I am the force that evens the world. I am an attribute of the almighty Force! I am perhaps one of the most powerful beings you will ever meet!” The spirit sounded very proud of itself at this, puffing itself up in a huff of anger. Coran swore it grew several inches.

Coran shook his head lightly, still very confused. “And what does that mean? Why are you here? Just explain this all to me!” He shouted the last bit, waving his hands all around.

The spirit stayed absolutely still, as if thinking intently, before finally speaking, pacing slowly back and forth as though contemplating great sums.

“Imagine,” It began, and the room was swept away as though it were dust, revealing a black nothing.

“The galaxy is destroyed.” As the words were spoken, a map of the galaxy spanned out from nothing, moving through and past Coran. The thousands of tiny bright lights, miniature stars, began to wink out, one by one, until only on remained. The light flickered briefly, and then vanished, consumed by darkness. “Life is gone. Nothing exists. An extreme, perhaps, but your race seems to thrive on extremes.”

The spirit came into view now, its form glowing slightly to reveal to Coran the hundreds of thousands of dead stars, of black holes, of nothing that was there. “What I do is to Balance the galaxy.”

A single point of light appeared in front of the spirit, and, before long, it had begun to spread as the galaxy began to illuminate itself. “I bring light where there is dark, but do assume that makes me good, kind, merciful. Because, just as I bring light, I also bring the darkness.”

The galaxy began to glow. The stars shone brighter and brighter, until Coran could barely look at them. Then the light started to fade. Able to see again, Coran watched as the spirit passed its hands over huge sections of bright stars, to leave them black and empty.

“I am Balance.” The spirit stated once more as the galaxy vanished and the room returned to its previous state.

Coran couldn’t help but chuckle. Smart people, things, spirits, were always the same. They always ducked the karking question, every time.

“So what?” Coran asked again, now opening laughing in a hysterical manner. “Why are you here?”

“Hmm…” The spirit mused, examining Coran curiously, “I had thought that would explain it. Obviously you need things spelled out more clearly.”

Once more, the room vanished, leaving Coran with a sense of vertigo. Hard to stand straight when you can’t see a floor. On the far side of what had once been the room, a web of shadows began to grow. There was no light to create them; they just appeared from the air, a darkness that consumed any light.

“There is a darkness coming. Not the Empire, of course, I have something planned for them. Not the Sith, no, their nature is too chaotic. This… this is something far more precise.” The spirit was in deep thought, staring at the deepening shadows with, Coran was surprised to see, was worry.

“No creature, however powerful, could create this. No, this is something far worse. Chaos.” The spirit spoke the last word with great meaning, though Coran felt he was missing something.

“Chaos?” He repeated, forming the word into a question.

“Of course,” Sighed the spirit, sounding somewhat annoyed. “You wouldn’t know, this is all above your level of thought.”

The web had congealed now, into a great spiral, a gaping maw of darkness.

“If I exist,” The spirit began, stretching out his hand towards the maw, “This aspect of the Force… then there must be others. It’s a given, a certainty, a fact, though it makes no sense whatsoever.”

The spirit touched the maw. A single bright point of light bloomed from where he touched it, spreading across the maw. Dark and light flowed together, forming thousands of different mixes, thousands of shades.

“I am the grey.” It spoke slowly, calmly, any trace of pride gone, “So there must be a light, and a dark, and thousands of others for the thousands of shades of grey that exist in-between.”

“So what is that?” Coran asked, gesturing towards what was left of the maw. “Dark? Or just some shade of it?”

“I do not know.” The spirit spoke, quietly, as the room faded back to its original mold. The old sewer junction.

“So let me get this straight.” Coran spoke, plopping down on a chair. “You are here because you need me to get rid of a giant, scary, black, web? Right… just great…” Holstering his weapon, Coran ran his hands through his hair and let out a deep sigh.

“You are correct, surprisingly. Though your terminology is… rather weak.” The spirit confirmed, still staring dully at the spot where the maw had been.

“Why me?”

“A question, that, perhaps,” The spirit began, turning to face Coran, “does not need to yet be answered.”

“Ok, then,” Coran said angrily, “Then at least tell me why I should help you?”

I assumed it was obvious.”

Shaking his head fiercely, Coran replied, “Whether the universe is light or dark is not my problem.” Coran stood, pointing forcefully at the spirit for effect, “My problem is my team; Kaarn, Alia, and Gurkgren. One of them is still down on Corellia. I’m going to get him, and then go live my life. Your ‘balance’ is not my problem.”

“Gurkgren is dead, fool.”

“What?”

“He fell trying to kill the traitor, Michael, you didn’t know?”

“I haven’t had the chance to find out because I’m still stuck in here with you!!” Coran shouted at the top of his lungs, anger sparking. He flipped the table, kicked the chairs, shooting the place up until he had no more ammo. Still, the place returned itself to normal. Anger muted, Coran finally sat down against the wall.

“That was unnecessary.”

“Shut up and leave me alone.”

“I still require your services. Or, if nothing else, your body as a host.”

“Then take it!” Coran shouted, throwing his used pistol at the spirit. “Since you seem to think I have no other purpose in life except to do what you want!”

“Hmm… No regard for your own life? Acceptable, but I have other ways of making you work.”

A layer of dust spun up from the ground, and a body was formed from it, lying prone on the ground. Finding it hard to see who it was from his angle, Coran stood and moved over to the body.

It was Alia.

A smoking hole in her heart, her body lay cold and motionless. Dead.

“Alia…” Coran murmured.

“She will die, whether you help me or not. It is her fate.”

“Why are you showing me this?” Coran said quietly, unable to take his eyes off of Alia.

“Because, I know a way to save her.”

“How?” Coran asked, standing up and meeting the spirit in his congealed mess of a face, determination in his eyes.

“Agree to help me, and I will tell you.”

“Fine,” Coran gave in, “I’ll do it. Now how can I save her?”

“You understand,” The spirit began gravely, “That if you go back on this deal I will kill her myself.”

“I understand,” Coran said, slowly, looking back down at Alia’s lifeless features.

“Then a deal is a deal.”

“How do I save her?”

“She will die taking a round for you. A shot straight to the heart. To save her, you must abandon her. When you touch down on Nar Shaddaa, after you complete my tasks there, then you must leave her behind. That is the only path in which she survives.”

“So,” Coran asked dully, knowing the answer to his question, “I have to leave her to save her.”

“Indeed.”

They sat there in silence for a few minutes, neither having anything to say. Until Coran decided to ask a question that had been nagging at him.

“What was this about Nar Shaddaa?” Asked Coran, his face colorless, his voice dry.

“Go there, and I will tell you.”

With that, the room, and the spirit, went up in a flash of dust. The darkness crept back in. Before he knew it, Coran was awake.

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Quifand
03.10.2013 , 09:19 PM | #22
CHAPTER 15: Illum

“WE’RE HERE,” Goll communicated, mentally, through the small hawk-like Mantis. Natalya, who was in the lower quarters, woke as the mental wave hit her.

“Uck…” Natalya groaned, straightening up in her altogether uncomfortable bed. They’d been in transit for several days now. Goll hadn’t spoken, or thought, a word to her since they boarded. He had let Natalya in peace to think over what had happened before they had left. What had happened to Katie.

How Natalya had killed her.

She knew what Goll wanted her to feel. Release. Purification. Clean. Fresh. But she felt exactly the opposite. Her hands felt like there was a permanent stain on them. Every time she tried to sleep she could only see Katie’s figure, a perverted form, a twisted body hung in the air. She would wake back up and spend hours just sitting there.

Worst of all, Natalya couldn’t touch the Force. Well, she could, but, again, not really. She could still feel the Force, the everyday waves and eddies that flowed through it. But she couldn’t manipulate it. Not without hearing the snap of Katie’s neck. The clear crisp sound would snap not only Katie’s neck, but Natalya’s concentration.

The mental ripple came again from Goll, and Natalya pulled herself out of bed.

Dressing herself and collecting her thoughts, she moved up to the top level of the ship, where Goll sat in meditation. The controls for the ship moved on their own, controlled by impulses from Goll’s mind.

“We will land in a few minutes, prepare yourself. I have been told the cold is rather bracing.”

Natalya didn’t answer. There was no need.

“Sit, apprentice. There are things I must discuss with you before we land.” Natalya didn’t sit, but turned to look at Goll’s motionless form. A jerk of Force energy threw Natalya into a nearby chair.

“Isn’t that better?” Again, Natalya didn’t speak. Her anger had laid dormant for days, but now, so close to Goll, the man who’d forced her to kill Katie, she felt hate welling up in her gut. She could barely look at Goll without imagining his head, his body, twisted and broken.

“I will make this quick, apprentice. I believe in self-taught exercises, so I will give you as little instruction as possible.” Goll still hadn’t moved, and the notion had reality had been gone for so long that Natalya couldn't tell if Goll was speaking, or just projecting his thoughts.

“When we land on the surface, I will drop you off at a specific set of coordinates with a holocom and your bags. You will set up your own camp nearby and live off the land. This will be a test to see if the Force wishes you to live. For only with the help and guidance of the Force will you survive here. I will, occasionally, call you to give you your next task. That is how it will work here. I wish you luck, my apprentice.”

Natalya hadn't realized it, but, looking out the view pane, she saw the harsh ice covered world of Illum rushing up to meet her. It was white. Covered in… snow? Natalya had never seen snow before, not with her own eyes.

The ship landed.

“I will see you soon, apprentice.” Goll had spoken as he watched Natalya leave. Then he had left.

The first thing Natalya noticed was the wind. The cold wasn’t bad, it would seep in over time, but it wasn’t bad. But the wind… that cut into her.

Dropping her bags on the snow covered ground, Natalya looked slowly around. “Well,” she muttered, “Home sweet home.” Then she started walking.


----------



The snow offered quiet. Quiet offered time. For contemplation. The monotony of Natalya’s march helped. She wasn’t sure what she thought about as she walked for hours. At one point it was anger, another point it was thanks.

Her emotions were all over the place, her inner serenity she would use to use to escape from the calamities of day-to-day life had been shattered when she had killed Katie.

Katie.

Her mind went there too. Back to the compound on Draethos, even. The hot summer days. The years of training. The soft bed she’d go back to every night.

Soft.

Warm.

Natalya had to shake her head to keep herself awake, to keep herself focused. She wasn’t sure what she was looking for, what she was waiting for. All she knew was that she had to keep walking. But how did she know? How did she know anything at all? How could someone think in the cold?

“The Force…” Natalya mumbled through cold lips. That was where her feeling came from. The Force was guiding her.

That thought kept her going until she found the cave.

Hours after being dropped on the planet, bundled in layers of clothes frozen by Illum’s constant blizzards, and half-dead from walking, Natalya had found the cave. It was half covered in a snow-drift and looked as though it was nearly a straight drop down, but it promised warmth and shelter.

Natalya dropped down into the cave. There was about a five or six foot drop down, but nothing too bad. The cave itself was huge. A vast chamber, it didn’t have any connecting passages, but it was a very large, very substantial, room. The celling was about eight or nine feet high, though how that worked given the six foot drop Natalya had gone through to come into the chamber she wasn’t sure.

As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the chamber, she began to make out details. She saw the standard stalagmites and stalactites stretching up and down in the chamber like teeth. There were beds of crystals, for which Illum was known for, crisscrossing the room, but, for some odd reason, their light had died out.

“Odd…” Natalya muttered, reaching out with a feeble tendril of the Force. Even though her connection was weak, pathetically so, she still had to withdraw the tendril when she felt the massive darkness the cave held. The Force was dark here, very dark. Natalya had only been unable to sense it because of her loose connection to the Force.
Something awful had happened here. Someone dark had lived here.

That was when Natalya saw the bones.

Pearly white, shimmering like stars, they were half coated in ice in one corner of the room. They were picked completely clean. One of the bones, not yet covered in ice, still had meat on it.

Fresh meat.

A loud thump shook the ground tremendously around Natalya, knocking her to the ground.

“RAARGH” A great white wampa cried, very angry at the intruder, having just come back to its den.

Natalya, reflexively, threw a Force wave towards the creature; it barely staggered the wampa, serving more to anger it further than to help anything. Scampering to her feet, Natalya ran to the other side of the room, choosing to flee. The wampa, although its foot speed was slow, caught up to Natalya in a matter of moments, its long stride out pacing Natalya’s.

With a powerful swipe, Natalya was flung against the far wall. She slammed into it hard, cracking the ice and just barely managing to stay conscious. Stars spinning in front of her eyes, Natalya coughed riotously, trying desperately to catch her breath. Through flickering vision, she saw the wampa racing towards her, anger in its eyes.

Natalya sunk herself into the Force. Her wounds grew less painful and she could breathe again.

But all she could see was Katie.

The broken body. The twisted neck. The lifeless eyes.

“NO!” Natalya shouted, letting the waves of the Force engulf her, sinking deeply into the ocean. Trying to escape. Waves of Force energy spun off of her, shattering the wampa’s charge and knocking the great creature back several paces.

Roaring in frustration, the wampa tried to fight its way back up to Natalya, but the energy rolling off of her kept it back.

Meanwhile, Natalya was still fighting herself. Her own guilt. The deeper she went into the Force, the more vivid the images were.

She could smell Katie’s distinctive perfume, a peachy scent she would create from a flower. She could see each individual hair on her head, the blonde color left to grow naturally. She could see the lone droplet of blood running down the neck, the only indication of her injuries.

It was too much.

With a tremendous rush of energy that sent spider webs of cracks up and down the walls of the cave, Natalya fell down onto the ground. Her connection to the Force had shattered, leaving her tired and worn.

Through half-closed eyes Natalya saw the wampa move in on her. It was a giant shadow obscuring the light.

Resigned to her fate, Natalya didn’t resist as the wampa laid one razor sharp talon on her neck, tracing the jugular down. Tired as she was, she noticed this odd behavior. Wild animals didn’t savor their kills.

Barely aware, she heard, as though from a great distance, the crackle, the buzz, the hum of some device. A lightsaber? The shadow, the wampa, disappeared, moving away.

Her vision was nearly gone, she was on the verge of passing out. But, still, Natalya saw the lone figure, a beam of light in its hand, driving out the shadow. Goll, she thought.

As she slipped into unconsciousness, she was not to know that the figure was not Goll.

It was a Jedi.

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Quifand
03.14.2013 , 09:38 PM | #23
CHAPTER 16: Recoil

MICHAEL WOKE to the blue atmosphere of a kolto tank. It felt awful. It was like being engulfed in gelatin that smelt like a wet bantha. Very unpleasant.

But, at least he couldn’t feel the screeching pain from his injuries.

Both legs had broken under the weight of the Trandoshan, Gurkgren. Burn marks pock marketing his body from the splash of the blaster volleys sent at Gurkgren. A blaster wound existed deep in his left arm from where a scared officer had missed.

Finally, to add insult to injury, or, to be more exact, injury to insult, there were three deep scars crossing his face, leaving deep red canyons in the geography.

Those, even with the numbing properties of the kolto, still hurt.

Michael tried to look outside the glass, see what was going on. He saw people rushing about, nurses checking desperately the screens nearest to Michael. He heard the faint sound of an alarm? No, not an alarm. A warning?

“Doctor!” He barely heard one of the nurses yell. ”His pulse is going too high! He’s going into shock!”

Shaking his head, Michael tried to hit the glass, to try and tell them he was alright.

All that the staff heard was frantic gurgling and bubbling.

“Give him a sedative, and a more powerful one this time. He is going to need at least a week to recover.”

A week? Michael thought dully, as the sedatives kicked in.

But he couldn’t do that.

He still had a job to finish.


----------



“This was inexcusable.” Darth Arctis spoke, staring out the topmost window of a small waiting chamber just before the Correllian Council’s place of meeting. The Commander, John Holmes, had gone inside to speak with the Council before letting the Darth in to make her speech.

“I understand, master,” Vain spoke, quietly, as she kneeled over Vain, checking his pulse and the state of the, although minor, healing trance she’d put him under. As he was not Force-sensitive, the trance would act only as an accelerant for the body’s natural healing properties, nothing more.

“You very well may have screwed up the most important task you have ever been assigned.”

“What? Guard duty?” The sarcasm was more than evident. It was angry, bitter.

The Darth spun on Vain, eyes blazing, and Vain could tell how close she was to snapping.

“Thank your gods that we are surrounded by enemies, else I would cut you down for a statement like that.”

Smiling to herself, Vain enjoyed her moment of power. “Don’t make threats, master, that you cannot keep.”

“And you would do well not to make enemies you cannot handle.”

The two women stood, facing one another, hands on their saber hilts, when Holmes came back through the door, smoking a large pipe.

“Whoa there,” He said, hand going to his gun. “No fights, ladies. As much as I’d love to see you two spill each other’s guts, you’d leave a stain.”

The two women, not appreciating the interruption, glared pointedly at Holmes. “Stay out of matters that do not concern you.” Arctis breathed, and Holmes could have sworn the temperature in the room dropped several degrees.

“Master, don’t you have a job to do?” Vain spat angrily, turning back to the prone form of Ardun.

“Do not dare tell me what to do!” Arctis snapped, her voice a roar.

From peepholes in the ceiling and machinery in the lamps, several fully automatic machine guns whirred to life. No rounds were fired, but the implication was easy to interpret.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Holmes said, easily, arrogantly. “We’ve… prepared for your visit, you see. Now, if you don’t mind, the Council does not like to be kept waiting.”

The Darth bared her teeth and passed by Holmes into the antechamber beyond him, whispering in his ear as she passed, “You will regret not treating me with respect.”

“I’m sure I will.” Holmes muttered, closing the door behind Arctis, leaving her to her deliberations with the Correllian Council.

Locking the door with a few brief clicks, Holmes then closed the secondary door, sealing the Sith in the room. Corellians weren’t stupid. None of the Council was actually in the building. The Sith was sealed in an airtight room bristling with weapons, with only a few holotrancievers so the Council could speak to her.

Holmes still thought this was a bad idea. He knew the Council was just hoping to work this to their own benefit and had no intentions of actually joining the Empire… but…. It still didn’t sit well with Holmes.

The men and woman on the Council were not superb human beings. They were corrupt, evil, and backstabbing. That was politics, you got used to it. But there was always that chance, however slim, that they might decide that the Empire could offer them more. That the grass was greener on the other side.

That was what scared Holmes.

A groan came from the other side of the room. Turning, Holmes saw the other Sith, the apprentice, kneeling over one of the soldiers, green vapor passing between them like a poisonous fog. The man, the soldier, it seemed, had just woken up.

“Hey,” Holmes said, moving over to them, gun drawn, “Does he need a med center?” Holmes could care less about what happened to Sith and Jedi, they usually deserved what came from him, but that man… that man was a soldier, and he deserved respect for that. Soldiers were soldiers, no matter what side of the conflict.

“No,” Vain said quietly, personality muted, “His injuries are mostly healed.”

“You sure about that, Sithy?” Holmes asked, cautiously stepping back and aiming his pistol, just in case.

“Put your pistol away, I’ve had enough fighting for one day.” She sounded tired, exhausted. Depressed.

Slipping his pistol back in its holster, Holmes kneeled down on the other side of the soldier, looking curiously at the Sith. “A Sithy who doesn’t want to fight? Didn’t know they existed.”

“You know,” Vain said, staring down at the soldier, Ardun, “I’ve been hearing that a lot lately.”

“So,” Holmes asked, gesturing at Ardun, “What’s his story? Never heard of Sith healing their wounded.”

“It’s a rare technique. Most Sith never learn it. Those who do never use it on anyone but themselves.”

“Still doesn’t explain why you helped him.”

“I… I’m not sure why I helped him.”

“You sure? The way you’re looking at him, I could guess.”

Head snapping up, Vain glared at Holmes.

“That’s better,” Holmes said, smiling smugly, “Anger on a Sith is so much easier to deal with than remorse.”

“Don’t change the subject. What did you mean, you could guess?”

“Really?” Holmes gave a sharp bark of laughter. “I saw the security footage. That man stopped you from slaughtering my officers. And you didn’t kill him. He must mean a hell of a lot to you for you to forgive that.”

“Do not assume!” Vain shouted, standing up. “He simply has information I require.”

“Then why haven’t you tortured him?”

“I don’t-“

“Know? Yea, you do know, you just don’t want to admit it.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Yes you do.” Smiling broadly, Holmes sat down in one of the room’s lush chairs. “Not much of a Sith, are you?”

“So you keep saying.”

“Admit it. You have feeling for that man.”

“His name is Ardun.”

Holmes let out a loud chuckle. “Yea, because Sith always use their subordinate's names.”

Sighing, Vain sat down across the room from Holmes, Ardun lying on the ground between them. “I don’t understand it. I barely even know him.”

“Life’s funny like that.”

“You know much about this?”

“Had a wife. Had a kid. Yea, I know a bit.” Holmes looked down as he said this, breath catching in his throat.

“Divorce?”

“No.” Looking back up, Holmes met Vain’s eye. All she could see was depths of hatred. “They were killed. My wife, Cynthia, died in childbirth. Don’t even know how long ago anymore. Days just seem to blur together. I fell apart. My son left me, became a spacer. He came back to Corellia about thirty years ago. Then he was murdered. I never…” Holmes choked up a little bit. “I never said sorry.”

“I’m sorry…” Vain said, quietly, looking back down at Ardun. “It seems the war has done that to a lot of people.”

“Well.” Holmes said, the word almost a question, “What about you, what’s your story?”

For a heartbeat, Vain felt a vein of anger. Her training on Korriban came back, and she felt a sudden impulse to kill Holmes. But she suppressed it. Holmes deserved an answer.

“Don’t know where I came from. Don’t know who my parents were.”

“Are,” Holmes corrected, grinning lightly at Vain, his aged face humored.

Vain couldn’t smile back. “Hope won’t help.”

“When you’ve lived as long as I have,” Holmes spoke, pulling back out his pipe and taking a whiff. “You’ll find that isn’t true. But, please, continue.”

Nodding, Vain continued. “As I said, I don’t remember anything of my childhood. My first memories were the Academy. Blood… violence… anger… hate. That was all I knew. I had my first kill at six years old. He was a human. A nice boy. I liked him.”

“They mean business, those Sith. That sounds like hell.”

“It was…” Vain bowed her head lost in memories. There were many words to describe what she felt, but there was only one that truly described it; red. “I couldn’t take it… I tried to run away. And… I… I figured things out.” Vain stumbled over that phrase, as though she wasn’t sure what to say.

Holmes had seen it before; she was lying. But, he decided not to call her on it. Getting a Sith to reveal this much was impressive, he didn’t want to push his luck.

“What do you mean, figured things out?”

“I learned… uh….” Vain was still hesitant, “Force techniques.”

“Ok…” Holmes said, backing off.

“Yea… it changed me. Hate didn’t come as easily, and, as you know, hate is crucial to the Sith.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“I managed to trick and deceive my way to the top of my class, and Arctis chose me as her apprentice. That’s how I ended up here.”

“But that doesn’t explain that heart of gold you’ve got.” It was a question and a fact, all in one. Holmes’ detective brain was working, playing for time and trying to find fit pieces of the puzzle together.

“I think,” Vain began, standing up from her chair. “I should take Ardun back to the rest of the squad. I have no wish to be here when Arctis returns.” She lifted Ardun up with a quick gesture and moved towards the elevator.

“I’ll tell her,” Holmes said, following her to the elevator. “It was good talking with you. Nice to know there’s some good on the other side.”

“But will that thought ever stay your hand? When the war truly breaks out?” Vain asked, and, in retrospect, Holmes realized that she was asking a very different question.

Should I kill someone who’s good?

“Yes.” Holmes said, putting a hand on Vain’s shoulder. Vain didn’t even flinch. She respected Holmes. “Because, when it comes down to it, sparing a life is always the right thing to do.”

Simply nodding, Vain was about to respond when the elevator door shut between them, sending Vain down to the bottom floor.

“Good luck, Sithy.” Holmes muttered, still staring at the doors. “Here’s to you.” And with that, Holmes took a puff of his pipe and sat down to wait for the Council to be done.

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Quifand
03.20.2013 , 10:44 PM | #24
CHAPTER 17: Hyperspace

“HE’S AWAKE,” Alia shouted to Kaarn, who was busy trying to fix the damage their ship had suffered during their escape from Corellia. She left the rest of her statement, the resigned "again" out.

“How long was I out?” Coran muttered, sliding out of the large bed Alia had put him in. Everything hurt. His lungs burned, his muscles ached. He’d felt as though he’d run a marathon and back.

“Only a few hours.” Alia said, sitting Coran back down on the bed and picking up a med kit from the ground. “Now, hold still, I need to run some tests.”

“I’m fine,” Coran protested weakly, trying to push Alia’s hands away.

“They why can’t you even push me away?”

“Tired?” Coran suggested, looking hopefully up at Alia.

“Uh-uh, I’m running my tests. Not sit still or I’ll have to run them again. “

Giving in, Coran kept his body still as Alia ran several tests with the med kit, checking Coran’s physical health. A minute or so in, Kaarn showed up, covered in grease with a small manual in hand.

“Doesn’t make sense…” He muttered, turning the manual upside down as if that would help him understand it.

“What doesn’t?” Coran asked, getting a warning glare from Alia.

“No talking either.”

“C’mon!”

“No talking!”

Brooding, Coran shut him mouth. Kaarn, who was laughing hysterically in the corner of the room, decided to humor Coran. “It’s this ship manual. It used to be a new copy, with details and instructions on how to do all these minor fixes, but someone’s scrawled all over it. It was probably this ship’s engineer, which is good, because his notes will be more accurate, But….” Kaarn drifted off again, staring at the manual as if it would magically tell him the answer.

“But what?” Alia asked, anticipating Coran’s question. Smiling thankfully, Coran sat, quietly.

“But he wrote them in Huttese…”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Alia asked, turning in disbelief to Kaarn.

“Na, take a look.” Kaarn said, offering the manual to Alia.

“No, no,” She protested, “I believe you.” She paused for a moment as she finished running the tests on Coran, frowned at the results, and then addressed Kaarn again. “Did you run it through the holo-net? Try to get a translation?”

Kaarn was shaking his head before she even finished talking. “I did, but it has to be some odd dialect of Huttese. All the translations I got were gibberish. Nonsense about lights and greys and a giant web.”

Coran looked up curiously when Kaarn said this, but quickly disregarded it. He still wasn’t sure his dream hadn’t been a hallucination.

“Well,” Alia said, turning back to Coran, “This is weird.”

“The results? Or the Huttese?” Coran asked, standing back up on shaky legs.

“The results…” Trailed Alia, walking over to Kaarn and showing him the data pad.

“Hmm…” Kaarn muttered, giving the data pad a concerned look. “You’re right. That is weird.”

“Ahem!” Shouted Coran, trying to get some attention, “Do I get to hear what’s wrong with me?”

“Nothing’s wrong.” Alia spoke, shaking her head. “The readings just don’t make any sense.” Handing the data pad to Coran, she grabbed a seat on the bed.

The data pad, having recorded the test results from the med kit Alia had been using earlier, showed several graphs up on the screen. There were heart monitors, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc., anything a medical officer would need. It even showed a graph of recent physical strain put on the body, for use in accidents where the victim was unconscious.

That was where Coran noticed the oddity.

The med kit reported high levels of stress over the past two hours.

When Coran had been out cold.

Not just that, but it also reported an improbable amount of brain waves coming from Coran during that two hour period. There is a certain level of activity the brain cannot surpass, but the med kit was reporting incredibly, impossibly high readings.

Almost as if there had been two people in Coran’s head.

“… odd… “Coran said, stuttering lightly.

“You’re an awful liar.” Alia s*****red, smiling at Coran. “You know why it’s reading that way, don’t you?”

“It’s not important.”

“Oh, lord,” Alia cried, rolling her eyes and throwing up her hands, “Must you refuse to let us help you every time we try?”

“Maybe you should stop trying!”

Looking back and forth between Coran and Alia, who were now staring each other down, Kaarn decided to leave them to it. “I’m going to go run some more translations…” He then rushed out of the room.

“You know I’ll never stop trying, don’t you?” Asked Alia, running hands through tousled hair and sitting down, her exhaustion showing.

“When was the last time you rested?” Coran asked, noticing the exhaustion in her eyes.

“Not since before the heist… I was busy keeping an eye on you.”

Smiling, Coran sat down on the bed with her, “You were worried.”

“Oh don’t mock me. We were just angry at each other a second ago, and now you’re flirting with me?” Alia started laughing, “You really need to work on-“

“Alia…” Coran said, cutting her off. Turning to him, the smile fading from her face, Alia gave him an odd look. Almost a longing look.

“Yea, what?”

“Can we stop fighting for a second?”

“We weren’t fighting.”

“Alia…”

“Alright.”

The two sat there, in silence, the only sounds the faint rocking of the ship and the occasional clank from the engineering section.

"Just tell me what's wrong." Coran asked of Alia, wanting a serious answer.

“Why do you keep cutting us off?” Alia asked, quietly. She gave Coran a look of such sadness, he felt guilty looking away.

“Because… at the end of the day… it’s just me.” It was the truth, at least to Coran.

That was when Alia promptly punched Coran. “Don’t be an idiot.” She pulled out a small chrono from her pocket and started flipping through planets. Eventually she found one; Draethos, and showed the chrono to Coran.

It read; 00:01

“The end of the day.” Alia said, putting her chrono away, “And guess what? I’m still here.”

Coran couldn’t help but smile. “That doesn’t count.”

“Then what does?”

An echo, a memory, flickered through Coran’s head.

To save her, you must abandon her.

“I’m going to go help Kaarn.” Standing up, Coran made for the door.

“What the hell? Don’t just blow me off!” Snapped Alia, moving after Coran. But he closed the door before she got through it. Snarling in frustration, Alia went back down to the bed. She could have just opened the door, easy as that, but, for some reason, that didn’t appeal to her. She was a little too frustrated with Coran to go talk to him.

So she took her fury out on the pillow instead.

The poor, poor pillow.


----------



Striding down the hall of the ship, towards the left side, where they had taken the most damage, Coran’s mind wandered.

To save her, you must abandon her.

He couldn’t get those words out of his head. They were a mind-numbing plague, a curse, a-

To save her, you must abandon her.

“Shut up…” He muttered mildly to himself as he finally reached his destination.

Covered in a fine layer of dust, his hair greasy in spots, Kaarn turned to face Coran, a pair of large bug-eyed goggles on his face.

“Oh, no!” Kaarn said quickly, backing into the wall. “Don’t bring me into this! Go back and deal with Alia!”

“How’d you-?” Began Coran incredulously, giving his furry friend an odd look.

“Why else would you be here?” Kaarn cut him off, throwing his hands up in exasperation. “It was either you two started making out on the bed or one of you showed up over here after a fight.”

“We can’t be-“ Coran began, before he was again cut off.

“Yes…” Kaarn said, putting his goggled head in his hands, “Yes, you guys are really that predictable.”

“Got’cha.” Muttered Coran, turning back out the door from whence he came.

“What are you doing?” Asked Kaarn, who was giving Coran an odd look, similar to the one Coran had given him a few moments ago.

“Leaving…” Coran said slowly, wondering what Kaarn didn’t understand.

“Why? Just because I complain about your problems doesn’t mean I won’t listen. Sit. Tell! We Bothans love a good gossip.”

“And who are you going to gossip about this to?” Coran asked, grabbing a seat next to Kaarn.

“Oh, no one,” Kaarn waved the point away, “It’s the idea behind it, really. So, spill, what’s up?”

“You sure you want to know?”

Kaarn gave him a look, “I’ll stab you with this.” He said seriously, holding up a hydrospanner.

Smiling in spite of himself, Coran gave in. “Fine, fine…” He sighed lightly, “How do I begin?”

“Well, start from the beginning. Don’t leave out anything, even stuff I already know. Ok?”

“Ok then. If I remember right, it was a storm three years ago; and we’d just exfiltrated from one of the outlying banks in the area...”

“Yea. You’re right. That’s when we first saw her. Alia.”

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Quifand
03.20.2013 , 11:02 PM | #25
I feel I must apologize. It's not a big thing, but I feel I should apologize nonetheless, more so for being stupid enough to make this paticular mistake in the first place.

So I was surfing the forums the other day, and I came across a thread about the Dark Council. Naturally, I was interested, I have included one in my little fan-fic, Darth Arctis, and I wanted to see if she was there. She was, course, I did my research... fairly well. It links to a Wookiepedia reference, so I check it out.

Sadly in SW:TOR's current timeline she's dead. Not a big deal, I mean, I was going to write her out soon enough anyway; too much of a stereotypical Sith by my count.

I'm about to exit out of the webpage when one word pops out at me.

"male"

Whoops.

Darth Arctis is a guy. My bad...

So, as I said, not a big deal. I mean, explains why Arctis was always annoying to write, he was pissed I'd gotten his gender wrong. I don't blame him, I'd be annoyed too.

So, anyway, not a big deal, but I felt I should apologize nonetheless.

Sorry
Forceblind

Know who I am? Really? Well, I didn't see that coming...

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Quifand
03.27.2013 , 12:20 PM | #26
CHAPTER 18: Eyes Wide Open

NATALYA WOKE with a splitting headache and the taste of blood in her mouth. Her body was leaden with exhaustion. But, strangely, she was not cold. If anything, she was warm.

Really warm.

Picking herself up, she examined her surroundings. She was in a small cave, lit only from the glow of the crystals around her. But these crystals were not grey and dark like the ones before. These were bright pastels, extraordinary colors. Reds, blues, greens, purples, whites, browns, the room was illuminated by thousands of different shades of thousands of different colors. Natalya was on a thick woolen blanket, spread out like a bed on the ground.

A similar setup was on the other side of the room.

“Hmm…” Natalya muttered, eyes focused on the second setup. There was another person here, there had to be. Why else would there be a second bed?

Pulling her body to its feet, Natalya stumbled slightly. Her legs still felt weak, and her head swam slightly as she wavered back and forth; a swaying body.

“Careful there, your body hasn’t fully recovered.” A voice said from behind Natalya.

Natalya screamed in response.

Sprinting across the floor, she spun around and tried to send a wave of Force energy at the intruder, who was dressed in a plain brown robe, the hood up. But she couldn’t, the Force refused to listen to her.

“Work!” She shouted hysterically at her hand, feeling tears coming down her face. She was going to die; this man was going to kill her.

“What are you doing?” The man asked, not at all disturbed by the recent turn of events.

“Shut up!” Natalya shouted, pushing her hands out towards the man, a vain attempt to use the Force once more.

“Calm down.” The man spoke, quietly, softly. He began taking steps towards Natalya. “I’m not here to hurt you. I saved your life, don’t you remember?”

Natalya scrambled away from the man until she was pinned in one of the corners, nowhere to run.

“Oh, by the Force, you’re persistent, aren’t you? I’m here to help you, blasted woman.” The man groaned, putting his hands on his hips in exasperation. “Is this how you treat people who try to help you?”

“Just leave me alone!” Shouted Natalya, shoving her head inside her robe, hoping it would all just go away.

“Okay.” The man replied, putting his hands up in defeat. He turned around and went back to the twin beds. Pulling some tools out of his robe, he went about making a fire. Despite herself, Natalya watched him curiously. She’d never met anyone outside of the Master’s Order before. She was scared as hell, but there was a morbid sense of curiosity there too.

Eventually the man got a fire started. He sat on the opposite side of it from Natalya, so he could keep an eye on her, and to leave a spot open if she wanted to join him. He took off his hood, and Natalya finally got a good look at his face.

He was old. He hadn’t sounded old, but he was. He was human, with receding black hair and wrinkles around his eyes and lips. He must have smiled a lot when he was younger. His eyes were a stark green, and he only had one ear. Though from her angle, Natalya couldn’t quite tell what had happened to the other ear, she was fairly certain that there was only one.

She was so busy examining this man’s face, she didn’t notice the food he had been cooking until she smelt it.

Stew.

Her stomach roiled and groaned as she smelt the decadent flavor, and it was all she could do to keep herself still.

After a few minutes of cooking, the man grabbed a bowl and served himself some of the food, pouring out the stew in a slow deliberate motion. Staring straight at Natalya, he licked his lips, slowly and steadily, before digging in.

Natalya couldn’t take it. She stood up, and began to slowly walk over to the fire. On her way, she grabbed a particularly long icicle and held it before her in a threatening manner.

The man cocked one long grayish black eyebrow at that.

“Are you going to skewer me and cook me up? Is that it?”

Ignoring him Natalya sat down next to the fire, enjoying the warmth, and pointed the icicle across the fire at the man. “Give me some of that.” She said slowly, trying to use her most threatening voice, like Goll always sounded when he talked. “Or I will kill you with this.”

The man smiled broadly. “With what?”

Natalya frowned at the man, “With this!” She shouted, brandishing her icicle. The weight seemed… less somehow. That was when she looked at her icicle. It had melted into a small stub.

Perhaps putting the icicle over the fire hadn’t been the best idea.

Natalya got back to her feet and began retreating slowly. The man rolled his eyes and quickly pulled out another bowl. Natalya stopped, her eyes on the bowl. Moving decisively, the man filled the bowl to the brim and pulled out a spoon. Reaching around the fire, he set both items right next to each other in Natalya’s spot. Then he resumed eating.

Over the course of the next few minutes, Natalya moved slowly to the stew, before finally, after around eight minutes, she reached it. Abandoning her caution, she sat and dug into the stew. The man, having finished his stew, stopped to watch her eat. She was ravenous, and gulped down the soup like it was her only meal for weeks. With a minute of two, she was done.

Eying her up, the man finally spoke, “Want some more?” he asked, keeping a cautious eye on her.

Natalya nodded vigorously and handed him her bowl. He filled it back up and she gulped it right down. She had three helping before she was finally done. Setting the bowl on the ground, she looked across the fire and found the man staring at her.

“Ready to talk?” The man asked, tired.

Natalya looked away. She couldn’t answer this man, he could be dangerous! But then why would he have helped her, fed her, given her shelter? This argument went back and forth for several minutes inside Natalya’s head before she finally decided to speak.

“Sure.” She said, deciding on brevity.

“So, what’s your name?”

“Natalya.”

“Is that it?”

“Yes…” Natalya wasn’t sure what he meant.

“No family name?”

“Family name?”

The man stared at her, his expression that of complete confusion. “Never mind,” he spoke slowly, his expression never changing, “Let’s move on. I asked you a question, now it’s your turn.”

Natalya hesitated; this was nothing like the compound. When you talked with the elders at the compound, they asked the questions and all you did was respond. There was no back and forth. But, strangely, she liked this new way. She liked the power it gave her.

“What’s your name?” She asked, going for the obvious question, since she was not quite sure what she wanted to know about this man.

“Darren Lewis.” He paused, letting his name sink in, before asking his question. “What are you doing on Illum?”

“Um…” Natalya muttered. She wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to say to that. “Training exercise?” She had phrased it as a question, but Darren took it as an answer. “What are you doing here?” She snapped back, unable to think of a new question.

“Study.” He replied, keeping his answer as short as hers, “Who sent you on the training exercise?”

“My master. What are you studying?”

“The Force, life, morality, it’s really more of an introspection on my life. Where is you master?”

“I don’t know. You can use the Force?”

Darren chuckled, “I’d hope so. Wouldn’t be much of a Jedi if I couldn’t use the Force. What about you? I saw you use the Force, but, just a minute ago, you seemed at a loss to even push me a few feet away, yet you nearly destroyed the cave I found you in.”

“I don’t know what you’re asking.”

Darren sighed. “Natalya, I just want to know the truth. If you keep hiding things from me, I’m not sure I can let you stay here.”

“Then I’ll leave.” With that, Natalya stood and made for the exit.

“You sure?” Darren asked, turning to face her.

“Absolutely.” And Natalya left the small cave, leaving Darren alone. A thousand and one thoughts spun through his mind. Where was her coat, her gear, her weapons? Where was she going to stay, what was she doing out here?

“You’re going to let her leave?”

“Of course not.” Darren said, not disturbed by the bodiless voice. “But I should know what I’m getting into first.”

“You didn’t with me.”

Darren smiled, “No, no I didn’t. But I was younger then. And you were my love. She… she is a lost soul.”

“So help her.”

“I tried, didn’t you see? She wanted to leave.”


“Yes, you weren’t pushy with your questions at all. Couldn't have been that that scared her off, could it have?”
Sarcasm seemed to drip from thin air.

“Always have to have the last word, don’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Fine, I’ll be back.” And, with that, Darren left the cave after Natalya.

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Ventessel
03.27.2013 , 07:41 PM | #27
I just started reading this, and it's clear that you have a lot of interesting ideas. I'm rather curious to see where this goes, but am torn between continuing to read and finishing Chapter Eight of my own fic. How far are you planning on continuing this story?
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

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Quifand
03.27.2013 , 08:21 PM | #28
Quote: Originally Posted by Ventessel View Post
I just started reading this, and it's clear that you have a lot of interesting ideas. I'm rather curious to see where this goes, but am torn between continuing to read and finishing Chapter Eight of my own fic. How far are you planning on continuing this story?
Haha, thanks. I have been told I'm an interesting person. Though whether the people I'm talking to are serious or just commenting on my bright orange shoes I have yet to tell. Here's hoping its the former.

As for the story... I'm hoping to finish it in its entirity, and that could take a while. How far am I planning to take it? Hmm... well, though I'm not sure on what details you're looking for, let me say this. So far I'm only about a fourth of the way done with what I hope will be the final project. Maybe even a third of the way done, depending on certain elements. So, plan on this being a rather long endeavour. At the current rate I'm pumping stuff out, it should conclude towards the middle of summer to the start of fall. But that's tenative, don't quote me on that.

Hope that answered your question. If you still can't decide between the two, flip a coin. Always works for me

By the way, thought I'd mention; I like the way your fic is going. The allusion to Assassin's Creed 3 made me chuckle, and I'm liking that paticular character even more than the one in the game. Nice writing.
Forceblind

Know who I am? Really? Well, I didn't see that coming...

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Ventessel
03.27.2013 , 10:13 PM | #29
Quote: Originally Posted by Quifand View Post
Haha, thanks. I have been told I'm an interesting person. Though whether the people I'm talking to are serious or just commenting on my bright orange shoes I have yet to tell. Here's hoping its the former.
Well, that could go either way. An interesting person might wear interesting shoes.

Quote: Originally Posted by Quifand View Post
As for the story... I'm hoping to finish it in its entirity, and that could take a while. How far am I planning to take it? Hmm... well, though I'm not sure on what details you're looking for, let me say this. So far I'm only about a fourth of the way done with what I hope will be the final project. Maybe even a third of the way done, depending on certain elements. So, plan on this being a rather long endeavour. At the current rate I'm pumping stuff out, it should conclude towards the middle of summer to the start of fall. But that's tenative, don't quote me on that.

Hope that answered your question. If you still can't decide between the two, flip a coin. Always works for me
I think it was one of your earlier comments in between chapters that initially caught my attention, when you said that the project had ballooned as you thought of more ideas and hadn't even gotten them off the planet yet. It reminded me how a lot of things I've started working on grew to epic proportions in my mind, but the actual writing struggled to keep up with the new ideas. Not saying that your own story is doing that, but just that I thought back to some of my own experiences and wondered what you envisioned for this story.

Quote: Originally Posted by Quifand View Post
By the way, thought I'd mention; I like the way your fic is going. The allusion to Assassin's Creed 3 made me chuckle, and I'm liking that paticular character even more than the one in the game. Nice writing.
Wait... I never played Assassin's Creed 3, haha. Which allusion are you thinking of?
The Heir to ChaosAdded Chapter Sixteen-- 17 APR 2013
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” ~ George Orwell

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Quifand
03.28.2013 , 12:10 PM | #30
Quote: Originally Posted by Ventessel View Post

I think it was one of your earlier comments in between chapters that initially caught my attention, when you said that the project had ballooned as you thought of more ideas and hadn't even gotten them off the planet yet. It reminded me how a lot of things I've started working on grew to epic proportions in my mind, but the actual writing struggled to keep up with the new ideas. Not saying that your own story is doing that, but just that I thought back to some of my own experiences and wondered what you envisioned for this story.
Ah, I see what you meant now. You do have a point, my ideas for the end are, perhaps, not to scale quite yet. But I look at it this way... that with words, there are no limits to what you can do. Besides, if it does prove too difficult, I can study the works of other authors for reference, many of them may have thought of approaches that would work far better than my own.


Quote: Originally Posted by Ventessel View Post
Wait... I never played Assassin's Creed 3, haha. Which allusion are you thinking of?
One of your characters, Haytham Kenway, has the exact same name as one of the primary antagonists in Assassin's Creed 3. It's odd because the two even have similar personalities and descriptions, to a point. Funny... guess it is a small world after all.
Forceblind

Know who I am? Really? Well, I didn't see that coming...