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igyman 06-12-2007 06:23 AM

[FIN] Inner Darkness Chronicles
 
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Inner Darkness Chronicles

Home




Alone at last. Today's classes are done and I can finally get some well deserved rest. Well deserved... The fatigue is starting to get to me, I am repeating myself without even realizing it. Aaahhh, bed, sweet bed. If only the Jedi Temple wasn't such a huge structure, if only I was already in my room. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I want to be in my room at all.


The classes I had today didn't differ much from the ones I've had so far. It was the same story over and over again, the Masters simply used different words. The message, the point was the same though. Beware of the Dark Side. The Masters spoke of the Jedi's calling, of the Jedi Code and its importance. They ranted endlessly about the dangers of feelings. A Jedi needs to control them, they said, lest they drag him to the Dark Side. The Light is the only true path according to them, the Darkness is deceiving and perverse. My own Master said to me once that a good Jedi can't allow himself to feel, because feelings, he said, prevent a Jedi to achieve his true potential. They prevent him to become a true emissary of the Light.


I have pondered often on my Master's words, mostly when we were out on a mission, but the more I think about them the more they sound like a load of rubbish. My Master also said that the Jedi protect the innocent and pure hearted and punish the evil, thus reducing the influence the Dark Side has on the galaxy. Yet more... rubbish. I have went on dozens of missions with my Master and I have yet to see a person with a pure heart, how my Master so eloquently decided to put it. Sure, the bandits and crime lords we put away are the worst scum of the galaxy, but even those we are supposed to deem innocent are in fact far from it.


I have felt it in them. Every time me and my Master talked to someone. I have felt the little white lies coming out of their mouths. There were so many lies that the person who speaks them doesn't even know the difference between them and the truth. Ah, how sad it is that the great Jedi Masters don't care about those lies, since I doubt they can't feel them, if I, a mere Padawan, can.


I couldn't always feel what I can now. My senses sharpened over time. Now I don't even need to concentrate to know what hides in a person's heart. All it takes is a look, but most of the time I don't like what I see. It is truly saddening, the amount of darkness that exists here, on Coruscant alone. I dare not think about its true proportions in our galaxy.


The darkness is here. Even the city streets are filled with it. I have seen it. Every person I look at, while walking down one of the many busy streets of Coruscant... Every mind I peak into, even in the mind of a child, I see nothing but darkness. Lately the feeling has become even more terrifying. I don't just feel their darkness anymore, I can see it, manifesting itself to me in forms of horrifying visions.


Ah, I am finally at my own door. A good night sleep will clear things up for me. It has helped, so far. I am not entirely sure about this time, though. Another terrible vision makes me uneasy as I walk into my room. I look through the huge window and instead of a bright and vibrant city with blue skies and beautiful tall buildings, I see a... perverse and ruined place, with blood red sky and black skyscrapers engulfed in flames. Strange dark creatures fly in flocks between them, carrying rotting corpses and dropping them on the masses in the streets. The screams I hear next drop me on my back.


From my bed I stare at the ceiling of my room and watch it dissolve into nothingness as it reveals the blood red sky once again. This isn't the first vision of its kind that I've had, but it's definitely the most intense. I can actually hear a whisper amongst the screams, calling to me. So far I have managed to ignore the call, but now...


My eyes are opened. I have always considered myself different than the other Padawans and now I know why. Now I know why everything felt so unnatural to me. I have kept my strange power and my visions a secret, I thought it was a curse, but it was in fact the greatest of blessings. The Jedi Masters... the worst bunch of hypocrites. They preach the suppression of feelings and yet they themselves don't suppress them, they simply hide them well from others. I realize now that the Light the Order preaches is something completely unnatural to most living things. Every single heart has a small seed of darkness inside and it is up to us to decide how big it will grow. Even the wisest Jedi Masters have it, but they aren't letting it sprout. I know, I have seen it deep in their hearts.


I can't stay in this palace of lies anymore. I quickly pack my things and sneak out through the back entrance of the Temple. Good riddance to all you hypocrites! I walk away slowly, losing myself in the crowded street and as I stand there, in the mass of mutilated beings, I look to the red sky to see the flock of black demons fly once more between the burning skyscrapers. A smile makes its way to my face, a feeling I haven't experienced in a long time. I feel... at home.

igyman 06-12-2007 06:23 AM

Inner Darkness Chronicles

Shopping




The Middle City is a very interesting place. Lots of different and intriguing people. When it comes to residential areas, Coruscant is divided into three sections: the Upper City, with all its glamour – politicians, corporates and the rest of the capital's ''elite'' and, of course, who could forget the righteous Jedi; the Lower City is a complete opposite, down there you can find the poorest of the poor and the worst of the scum, beggars, thieves, smugglers and pretty much everyone who has less than enough credits, or a beef with the law. Black and white. This is why I find the Middle City so interesting. It represents a border between the two. A gray area where the opposites melt together.

Indeed, you can see pretty much everyone here. A representative from absolutely every layer of this great society. And they all mingle together. I swear, I've seen the most unbelievable of combinations. Politicians and smugglers, beggars and thieves, assassins and... pretty much everyone. This is why I love the place so much. It shows the truth to me. Keeps me sharp. Careful.

The Middle City marketplace is probably my favorite part of the place. Everything can be bought here, from the most expensive deathsticks, to the latest in clothing, or transportation and to the most sophisticated weapons. Heck, there are people here who sell things as obscene as dead rats. Strangely enough, there are just as much people who actually buy those things. So why do I love this place so much? Most of the people here are criminals, the place is dark, you can see all sorts of disgusting things here and, on top of it all, the place smells like grilled gizka. Oh, yes. One of the finest delicacies here. Personally, I never found that particular food appealing.

The reason I love the marketplace so much is the purpose I use it for. The mixture of people from every part of Coruscant makes it a great hiding place. From who, you would ask. Well, from the Jedi, of course. You see, the good old benevolent Jedi don't like it very much when one of their own decides to give them the finger, so they send out patrols to find the person in question and bring them back for a cup of conversation with the Jedi Council. It's been more than a century since the last great Sith threat was defeated and yet they still live in fear of the Dark Side. Or so they say. I've heard of a few cases during my own stay at the Jedi Temple, cases similar to my own in the way that they decided to leave the Order without saying goodbye. After their enlightening talk with the Council, the persons in question were either stripped of their powers and let go; sent to the Jedi's own psychiatric ward, which I doubt practiced anything related to psychiatry; or they would suddenly ''see the light'' and return to the Order.

None of the offered options seems very appealing to me, which is why I'm here. The Jedi's untrained senses are blinded by the energy mixture of the Middle City, while my own senses feed off that same energy, they sharpen themselves almost with no effort from me and point out the patrols in the crowd easily. Yes, the Jedi are portrayed to me in a very unique image. And it's not very pretty. Unfortunately, after almost three months of failing to find me, the number of Jedi patrols has increased significantly. They are nothing, if not persistent.

This brings me to the second reason of my today's visit to the Middle City marketplace. As I have mentioned before, this place offers a variety of the most sophisticated and most elegant weaponry. Yes, yes, I know, I don't need a weapon, I have my lightsaber, right? Wrong! In order to sever all ties to the hypocritical Jedi I got rid of everything that came from them. The clothes and their famed weapon. I threw it all into the huge garbage refining section that occupies the very surface of the planet. Everything, except for the credits. What can I say, I need the money.

Now, let's get back to the business at hand. Weapons. Probably the most demanded commodity on the gray market. And it comes in so many sizes, shapes, even colors. Long ranged, short ranged, melee, or weapons of mass destruction, believe it or not, it's all here, for the right price. But, blades are what I'm looking for. I guess, it's logical, considering I've been trained most of my life to use a blade in combat. However, I always like to try new things, which is why, out of all the beautiful and elegant energy and vibroswords, a pair of knives has caught my eye.

Oooooo, how elegant they are. Their bronze handles, each with a small dark blue diamond at the bottom and beautiful carvings all over the rest of them. Blades out of pure silver with double, razor-sharp edges and even more stunning markings grow out of the handles and show their slightly curved shape, widening by a few milimetres halfway through and then joining in a pointy peak. Of course, both daggers have been processed with that brand new transparent cortosis liquid solution, making them extra strong and enabling them to keep that luxurious appearance. They are perfect.

Unfortunately, the same can most definitely not be said for the salesman. Ordinary people would see him as a sweaty, unshaved and overweight, middle aged human, wearing clothes that look like they've been stolen from a senator's trash can. They'd describe this person as a typical slimy dealer. I, on the other hand, have a very different view on the world. My description of this guy would be much, much worse. Thanks to my little gift of seeing through the surface, this guy appears to my eyes as a rotting, charred demon with a rodent's face and glass-like red eyes. Oh yes, my vision has evolved, courtesy of the time spent in the streets and little to no alone time. The rest of his body appears to me no differently than any other person's – dead flesh, with an open rib cage, showing the man's heart. This is still the crucial distinction – the aura around the heart. It shows to me as glowing smoke and with this person it's gray. Fitting to the spirit of the Middle City.

The rodent-faced salesman names his enormous price for the weapon I desire. Not even a double amount of the credits I currently possess would be enough to satisfy his greed. Luckily, I still use those tricks I learned from the Jedi. And I must say I do enjoy toying with the minds of this kind of people. It's pretty much the only pass time I can afford. After a minute, or two Rodent Face is suddenly willing to generously give me the daggers. I, of course, accept his kind offer, take the weapons and leave. And none too soon, for two Jedi patrols have decided to sweep the marketplace. I see them clearly, their hearts glow with purple smoke. No doubt this represents their aim to hide the seed of darkness within them.

The Middle City favors me once again and allows me to lose myself in the crowd before the patrols spot me. Now that the shopping's done and the pursuers evaded I can at last go to my charming new home and get some desired alone time.

igyman 06-12-2007 06:24 AM

Inner Darkness Chronicles

Nightmares




Dreams. Every living thing experiences them, yet none have ever understood their true significance, or their true purpose. No one probably ever will. There are people who say that dreams are a great way to escape reality. In a dream you can be anyone you want to be, do anything you want to do and be anywhere you want to be. So, yes, even I could agree that dreams are a way to escape. But reality? If people knew what I knew, if they saw what I saw, they would know that the only thing they were escaping from in their dreams was a well made mask, a lie. It's ironic, don't you agree? Running away into a lie and not even realizing that what you are running from is an even more terrible lie.

Then again, dreams can sometimes turn into the most perverse of nightmares. As for me, if an ordinary person were to interpret my dreams, they would name each of them a nightmare. I know better, or at least I think I do. I think my dreams are quite ordinary, compared to the things I see each day. They simply don't allow me to forget what a harsh place our reality truly is.

I am awake. Lying on my back and staring at the ceiling of my little lair. I like to joke that way. What I call a lair is actually one of many abandoned apartments that represent the residential part of Coruscant's Middle City. After I left the Order and lost myself in the crowds of the Middle City, the first thing I did was find a place to live. What I mean actually is eat and sleep, but let's not get into semantics. What is important is that the place has exactly what I need – a bed, a bathroom and a small dining table. Besides that, the place has plenty of room and no windows.

I finally make myself get up, I've had enough sleep for today. I take my precious daggers, the ones I so recently acquired from the rodent-faced tradesman in the Middle City market, from under my pillow and place them back on my belt. I slowly make my way to the bathroom, still a bit woozy from the long sleep. A look on the broken mirror shows me that my little power is still working. My face, the face of a young human male with short black hair and blue eyes starts to morph as the small neon light flickers, it turns into a demonic representation of myself – a face with small horn-like ridges growing from the lower part of its forehead, teeth that change their color from a clean and healthy white into a rusty yellow color and eyes that turn from those of a human to those of a snake. The first time I witnessed this transformation I was truly shocked, but now I'm used to it. It only serves as a daily reminder that my unique power still works. Besides, as soon as I splash my face with water, its image in the mirror returns to that of a human.

I put on my dark green cloak and as I hide my face under its hood I exit my window-lacking apartment. Time for a quick visit to the market. A man's got to eat, right? And for me the Middle City market is currently the only affordable food source.

When you're in my position – on the run from the Jedi Order – you realize that stealth is your greatest ally and you teach yourself to utilize that skill as good as the best of spies and assassins. Even when you're hidden in a crowd of people you have to be extremely cautious and aware of your surroundings, otherwise you become an easy prey for your hunters. And let's not forget that eyesight is not the Jedi's only method of detection.

Unfortunately, sometimes you can take every precaution possible and that still wouldn't be enough. That is my case today. The Jedi are far from stupid and during the last four weeks, four weeks since I got my new weapons from Rodent Face, their patrols have doubled the time they spend in the market. It should have been obvious to me that I have been sensed by them back when I was acquiring the daggers, but I have made an oversight and allowed myself to fall into an ambush.

As soon as I've stepped foot in the market I noticed four patrols approaching, one from each side and each patrol consisted of three Jedi Knights. The aura of glowing purple smoke around their hearts easily revealed them to me. There was only one thing to do and I did precisely that – I ran.

This wasn't the first time the Jedi patrols found me and I knew that the key to losing them was to enter the dark and filthy service tunnels that stretched through most of Middle City. The Jedi are formidable foes, but even their minds could be temporarily distracted by the numerous sounds the empty tunnels produced. The sound of steam being released from the valves, water running through the pipes, the poor lighting of the place should have been enough to distract the patrols long enough for me to escape them, but these four patrols were more persistent than I expected.

I kept running and running until I reached a large ventilation control room. The only light in this chamber was coming through the large deactivated fan on the tall ceiling. I paused to survey my surroundings and to try to sense the progress of the Jedi patrols. I sensed them coming my way, but I sensed something else, something that was already here, something that embraced its inner darkness completely. It claimed this chamber as its domain and I was trespassing. The Jedi patrols were getting closer and I quickly and silently hid in the shadows of the chamber. The twelve Jedi slowed down as they entered the chamber, obviously doing what I did earlier, getting a feel of their surroundings. They too sensed the danger that lurked here and spread out, igniting their lightsabers. A terrifying scream echoed across the room. The Jedi have angered its inhabitant. Their fate was sealed now.

A huge wraith leaped from the catwalk above and slaughtered two unsuspecting Jedi. The other ten turned to their fallen comrades, but saw nothing except two corpses. They were definitely distracted and if I was a bit smarter I would have sneaked out while they and the creature were busy with each other and ran as far away from that place as I could, but I wasn't that smart. I was curious. I wanted to see what creature could possibly be so dark. Two more Jedi fell as the attacker sneaked from behind and slit their throats with its bare hands. Stealth is its ally. The remaining Jedi tried their best to remain calm and focused, but the fast and stealthy silhouette was too much for them. It defeated them in the next few minutes, killing all but one. It obviously wanted to enjoy its victory by slowly finishing off this last, heavily injured Knight.

The Jedi crawled to the center of the chamber, the part that was directly under the large ceiling fan and thus the part that was best lit. The Jedi must have thought that this creature feared the light, he must have thought he would live long enough to inform the Order via comlink of what has transpired here. He didn't get that chance. The creature finally showed its face and after seeing its next action, it didn't take me long to realize what I was up against. The creature appeared as an extraordinarily tall human, with pale skin and very little equally depigmented hair on his head. Soon that visage transformed into a more horrible one, again courtesy of my little gift. He appeared to me as a huge ghoul, his beating heart displayed to me in the middle of the open rib cage, but there was one distinction. There was no aura of glowing smoke emanating from the monster's heart. Instead the heart was pumping out a black fluid, very much like tar, that poured down and colored most of the organ into that black color.

The ghoul grabbed the poor Jedi and drained him of the Force, leaving an empty shell with an expression of horror on his victim's dead face. That was the moment I realized what this thing was. Back in the Jedi Temple every Padawan is told this story, the story of Tel Angor and the Order of the Silver Jedi, who tried to destroy the Dark Side. Tel Angor was the most prominent member of this secretive Jedi sect and due to an experiment of theirs gone terribly wrong he was transformed into a creature that fed on the Force, that drained it from its victims with the touch of its hands. He became a Force Vampire. Angor was the only documented case of a Force Vampire, but it is obvious now that the Silver Jedi survived him and attempted the experiment again. Failing. Such irresponsibility.

Luckily for me the monster was now distracted with draining the rest of the Jedi corpses and provided me with an opportunity. I knew I could never sneak out unnoticed, so I waited for this moment of weakness and threw one of my daggers straight at the vampire's head. It hit the spot and the monster fell down. Now I had to work fast. There was no guarantee that the monster was dead, so I sped up my pace using the Force, grabbed the dagger I threw and ran like hell. The finest of the Silver Jedi couldn't defeat Tel Angor and I surely couldn't hope to defeat this specimen. Fortunately his lair was far behind me when I heard the horrifying scream, assuring me that the monster survived.

Dreams are a great way to escape the cruel reality. My dreams were never about escape, not until now. The encounter has left a profound impact on me and not a pleasant one. The darkness this creature was bound with was nothing natural, nor was the creature itself. A freakish consequence of a failed experiment. I needed to... I wanted to forget everything, even for a short while and tonight in my dream of a bright and blissful place I escaped reality for the very first time.

igyman 06-12-2007 06:25 AM

Inner Darkness Chronicles

Origins




I am in a dark hallway. I am running from something, something unseen. I feel... fear. When I look back the fear only intensifies, so I keep running and running. Suddenly I hear a horrifying scream. I can't help but look back again, despite the fear, but every time I do it, the scream becomes louder. It's closing in. The light at the end of the hallway seems further and further away, all the while the source of the scream seems to be getting closer. I put in one last effort and run like hell, but it's not enough. I feel a hand grabbing my shoulder and then... I wake up.

This is the fifth time in the last month. I've been having the same dream ever since the encounter with the Force-draining monster. It slaughtered the Jedi that were pursuing me and fed on their energy like a vampire. I escaped by catching it in a momentary lapse, a second-worth of distraction and I managed to wound it enough for it to lose consciousness for a minute or two. Just enough for me to leg it out of its lair.

Every time I wake up after that nightmare, I spend a few minutes simply staring at the ceiling. It takes me that long to realize that it was indeed a dream, again, and that I am still in my dark and dusty refuge in Coruscant's Middle City. After that I usually get up and go on with my day, such as it is, but this time...

Something's different. I can't quite place it, but something doesn't feel right. It's not exactly a warning by the Force, but more of a gut feeling. You know, that sixth sense some people that aren't Force-sensitive claim to have. I grab my two knives and as quietly and carefully as I can, I sneak into what's supposed to be the living room-slash-dining room of my... apartment. As I approach the entry door to my place the feeling intensifies and then I see the most horrifying thing – the head of the Force vampire, severed and displayed to me as a trophy. The expression on its face wasn't one of fear, it was anger. I quickly turn full circle, convinced that someone else is here, but I see no one. Then, just as I approach to examine the gruesome head, I hear a thump and fall down. The blackness engulfs me.

I start to come to, obviously some time after, but something feels strange. When the wooziness dies down a bit, I realize what's wrong. My hands are tied behind my back and I'm hanging upside down, like a piece of meat. In my own home. My weapons... who knows where they are. Then I hear footsteps. A slender figure walks into my field of vision. It observes me for a few seconds and then, after expressing a single short remark – ''Awake already?'' – in a whispering, hissing voice, it kicks me in the face and I return to the blackness. In that few seconds before my captor kicked me, I wondered why I couldn't feel the Force. I got my answer just half a second before the kick. A creature resided on my captor's shoulders and, despite the lack of lighting in my home, its silhouette was enough to reveal that it was a ysalamir.

Some time later, I began to slowly wake up. Actually, I can thank the slight city breeze for that. I still couldn't see anything but blackness, but my hearing was working. I distinguished two voices. From the sounds of it, I was obviously the topic of their conversation.

''Delivered, as I promised.'' I heard the first voice say. It wasn't very loud and it sounded like hissing. I knew at that moment that it was my captor talking.

''Excellent work. Your reputation is well deserved.'' The second voice answered. Something about it sounded familiar, as if I'd heard that voice before, but I was still to woozy to place it. All I knew for sure was that the voice was that of a man.

My vision slowly returned and I saw once again the slender figure of my captor, but couldn't see well enough who he was talking to. Mind you, I am using ''he'' in the most general meaning. In truth, all I could determine about my captor was that the person was a bounty hunter and a very good one, obviously. The person knew my weakness and exploited it by bringing a ysalamir, the animal that generates a mysterious field which surpresses the Force. Brilliant. I had no idea if it was a man, or a woman. The hissing voice revealed very little and as for the figure, well... I'd say too skinny to be a man, but lacking some curves to be a woman. Maybe it's a species I haven't heard of before. Who knows? I couldn't see the face, since a black helmet with reflecting dark blue vision glass obscured it. The rest of the bounty hunter's outfit was a sleek overall with the appearance of leather, but considering the line of work this person was in, I'd say it was some special fibermesh.

My vision cleared up just as the bounty hunter collected the payment for my capture and left. I surveyed my surroundings and realized that I was back in the Upper City. This was a roof of a middle-sized building, judging from the strength of the wind. The bounty hunter and its ysalamir were gone and I started to feel the Force again.

''Well, well.'' The man responsible for hiring the bounty hunter said, ''We've finally caught you. You gave us quite a run for our money, my old Padawan.'' And it was crystal clear now. The one who hired the bounty hunter was my Master. ''Though I must thank you for discovering that Force Vampire. He was yet another we were anxious to find. And we have finally taken care of him.'' My Master added.

I've already said that the Jedi are not what they once were. The Order was never perfect, but at least the Jedi of the Old Republic were honorable. The new Jedi weren't nearly as nice as the old ones. At least they had some idea of honor when they were under the leadership of the Skywalkers. The Skywalker family was known to have a relationship with the Dark Side, but they've always managed to resist it. I guess that by resisting they were protecting the Order aswell. Unfortunately I live in a time depraved of Skywalkers. I guess that when the last of them perished, the Order became extremely voulnerable to the Dark Side and that voulnerability produced the Jedi of today.

My Master's face had changed since last I saw him. The Bothan's hair started to turn gray and a new scar decorated his right cheek, starting just milimeters under the eye. No doubt a mark left by the Force Vampire. His look was also different. His eyes showed anger, torment and hapiness, all at the same time. I've always said he was interesting.

As I rose to my feet I noticed something on his lightsaber hilt. An insignia. A silver crescent with its tips pointed downwards, and a pair of ignited lightsabers crossed at the handles beneath it. I should have known. My Master was a member of the Order of the Silver Jedi. So the sect managed to survive both Tel Angor and Palpatine and all the other threats that came after, but they've obviously changed too and not for the better. My connection to the Force was now completely reestablished and my unique sight started working again. The skies turned blood red, the birds became black leathery demons and my Master, though still distinguishable as a Bothan, now looked like a living dead.

''I see by the expression on your face that your gift has developed.'' He said, managing a smile of satisfaction, ''So our time searching for you has not been wasted. Good.'' He added.

By we he meant the Silver Jedi. I remember thinking it at that moment. ''Yes indeed.'' He confirmed it, ''Your unique ability can be of great use to us.'' My Master's greatest strength has always been his power over the mind. I didn't have to speak for him to know what I was thinking. I wondered what kind of experiments would they want to perform on me. I had a pretty good idea why my ability interested them so much – they obviously thought it a great way of detecting the Dark Side, but to go to the lengths of hiring a bounty hunter to find me showed something more than the intent of bringing me into the fold and using me for detection pruposes.

''Your power is unique for our times.'' My Master said, ''And as such it must be carefully studied and controlled.'' There it was. Control. ''Do you know why you of all people have that power?'' He asked. He got me there, I had no idea. ''Your family, Padawan. Their roots run back more than four thousand years to a now extinct race that perceived the world solely through the Force. Their homeworld was destroyed by a great evil and all were killed. Fortunately their genes managed to survive. We don't know which of them was responsible for continuing the bloodline, but we know it happened with a human counterpart. That's probably the reason for the dormant genes and the dormant power. And make no mistake, their power was a great gift and we are fortunate that it manifested now in you, though in a somewhat altered form. It is your duty to come with me and allow the Order, no, the galaxy to benefit from that gift.''

Cheap slogan. Too cheap for my Master. I am very disappointed. For the sake of argument, I did ask what would happen if I refused and at that point he showed his true face and the true face of the Silver Jedi. When he said there's no choice and ignited his silver bladed lightsaber, I knew that the Silver Jedi themselves were now tainted by the Dark Side. How deliciously ironic. To be infected by what you sought to eradicate.

My hands were still restrained, but now that the Force was with me once again, it was only a matter of time before I got rid of the restraints. And so I did and it happened so quickly even my Master couldn't believe it. I threw the metal restraint at him with one hand and as he swung his blade to destroy it I used the other hand to push him with the Force as hard as I could. And he flew. Right off the rooftop. I had no idea if he would survive, or not, but I felt he deserved at least a short farewell, so before I turned around and left, I took a look down at his falling body and simply said: ''Goodbye, Master Vasyq.''

igyman 06-12-2007 06:25 AM

Inner Darkness Chronicles

Hope




Darkness. My life is filled with it. Everything I see… filled with it. At moments I can’t help but think that there’s no hope. How could there be one, in a world so driven by lies? Or is life all about proving to oneself that darkness is the natural way of things? This is what I first suspected back when I decided to leave the Jedi Order and so far it seemed to be true. Darkness does seem to be the natural way of things. There are, of course, those gray areas, like the Middle City was, where light and dark meet and coexist. That’s the confusing part.

I used to be a Jedi, but now I’m more of a scholar, an observer. I look at the behavior of all creatures and study it. I compare what they say to what they do and all that to what’s in their hearts. Yes, thanks to my power the truth is never concealed from me. One look and I’ll know how trustworthy a person is.

I have to admit that I haven’t done much observing in a long time. Not since the encounter with my former Master. Not since I pushed him off the roof. Two months have passed since that day. Two months since I learned the truth of the Silver Jedi and about the origins of my unique ability. And for those two months I have been living, if it can be called that way, in the deepest and darkest caves beneath Coruscant. I couldn’t return to my dusty apartment, the Jedi knew where it was and they would probably have found me soon enough, if I decided to seek another abandoned apartment in the Lower City. This seemed to be the only option.

If there’s one thing I can say about these caves, it’s that they’re quiet and, surprisingly, not as dark as I first believed. There were crystals, some smaller and some larger, that appeared to grow out of the cave walls. They lit the tunnels with a soft blue light. I often pondered what made these crystals glow, for this property is seen in a very small number of crystals and most of those crystals are used for lightsabers. I sensed no Force in these crystals however.

There were darker tunnels too, with one or two glowing crystals every dozen meters, but these were usually not longer than a hundred meters or so. Strangely enough, the tunnels were empty. A worm, or an occasional rat now and then, but no larger beast has ever crossed my path. I wondered why this was so. I got my answer only a few days later.

I was walking, almost blindly, through one of those darker tunnels. This one was a bit longer than I expected, but I found no cause to be alarmed. I walked and walked and suddenly I saw a bright light just at the end of this section of the tunnel. It stood there for a second and then disappeared around the corner. Now this was indeed the most interesting thing I experienced in months and I decided I would not let it slip so easily. So I ran.

I tuned in all my senses and used all the skill in the Force I possessed in order not to end up colliding with a wall while chasing for the elusive light. It was quick. The light disappeared behind a few more dark corners and then I made an incredible discovery. The long lightless tunnel reached its end and lead into a huge underground chamber. This chamber was much more lit by the glowing crystals than any of the tunnels, or chambers I’ve been in so far. And the most interesting part – there were people there!

Yeah, from what I could see there were dozens of people living there. It appeared that most of them were humans, but I did recognize a few Zabraks, Twi’Leks and even Ithorians walking around. What was this place, I wondered, and what happened to that elusive light that lead me here?

I decided not to show myself to the local residence. I still had no idea who they were, or why were they living down here, but I made a few assumptions and I wished to verify them before I did anything else. Also, I still had no idea if the Silver Jedi, or the rest of the Order for that matter, were on to me and I had no intention of attracting attention. The most important thing was that I finally had someone to study.

As the days passed I learned more and more about this small community. From their conversations I discerned that they were outcasts. People too poor even for the Lower City and people too sick of the violence and dishonesty that ruled the surface. They appeared to have no material possessions, except for the rags they were wearing and the blankets they used to keep themselves warm while they slept. Occasionally they made small campfires to keep them warm when it proved too cold. They must have found an abundant source of wood, roots perhaps, obviously the consequence of that Yuuzhan Vong invasion that happened so long ago.

As interesting as all this sounded, there was something that especially intrigued me. In order to observe these people I took up residence about a hundred meters into that dark tunnel. In my opinion it was far enough to avoid detection. As it turned out I was wrong. Every morning, or at least I think it was morning, somewhere halfway to the underground settlement I found a small roasted animal. Probably the most luxurious meal in this place and it was left for me. Someone knew I was here and I was determined to find out who.

I was awake through what I expected was the night. You never can tell after you’ve spent so much time underground, not seeing the sky. This time I waited, as if in ambush, only ten meters away from the spot where I usually found my food. I was eager to see my benefactor. I waited and waited, my patience failing and then returning, more than once. It was worth the wait, for what I would see next would change me forever.

The elusive bright light appeared in the corridor. It approached slowly towards the spot, glowing stronger and stronger as it came closer to me. Suddenly, a shape started to form, a distinguishable silhouette. When it approached the designated spot I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a little human girl. In this dark tunnel she appeared to me as a bright benevolent specter, but I could see that she was far from supernatural.

The little brown haired girl put the roasted animal on the ground, turned away and slowly went back the way she came. I was speechless. This raised so many questions, shook so many of my beliefs. I needed time to realize what it all meant. I took the roasted rat and backed away.

The next ‘’morning’’ couldn’t come soon enough. I waited again at the same spot for the little girl. She came. Again at the same time as yesterday and again with a small roasted rat for me. She put it on the ground and turned around, but I just couldn’t let her leave like that. I wanted to know more.

‘’Who are you?’’ The words slipped out of my mouth, as if in reflex. The little girl turned back towards me again, not even a bit scared. It was more like happiness. It frightened me.

‘’Lillianna’’ The little girl said, ‘’but my friends call me Lills.’’ Her innocent squeaky voice echoing in my head, two words in particular – my friends.

‘’Why would you want to help me?’’ I started probing. My inquisitive nature slowly taking over.

‘’I just thought you might be hungry.’’ She said quickly. I couldn’t believe it was that simple.

‘’How do you know you can trust me?’’ I probed further. ‘’Aren’t you afraid I might do something… bad?’’

‘’You don’t seem bad to me.’’ She said. ‘’I’ve seen you in the far tunnels and you never did anything bad.’’

‘’I like to explore the caves’’, she added as if knowing what my next question would be. ‘’There’s not much else to do down here, so when I’m tired of playing with my friends I explore the caves.’’

‘’Alone? You’re not afraid some underground beast will attack you?’’

‘’There are no beasts here, silly.’’ She said, managing a small giggle. ‘’Only us.’’

‘’And who exactly are you?’’ I asked my final question.

‘’Outcasts.’’ She said, ‘’My daddy said so. He grew up here, you know. My mommy too.’’ She sounded so sad when mentioning her parents. I could only discern that they are no longer alive.

‘’They liked to explore too.’’ She added, obviously recognizing the expression on my face. ‘’They went to explore the tunnels on the other side and the cave fell on them.’’ The sadness returning.

I decided to stop asking questions for now. Lills turned around again, inviting me to follow her and I did. I was eager to learn more about this community, but I didn’t yet know why. She made two or three steps before a dark figure descended from the ceiling right in front of her. There was something familiar about the figure, I noticed as it grabbed the little girl and put a knife under her throat.

‘’I really hate when I have to hunt for the same person twice.’’ The figure said with a hissing voice and I recognized it then. The bounty hunter that captured me and brought me to my former Master. I honestly didn’t expect to see this individual again.

‘’What do you want?’’ I demanded, the bitterness in my voice revealing both the disappointment that the Order found me again and the anger that it happened now.

‘’Come peacefully and I’ll let the girl go.’’ The hissing voice replied coldly. ‘’Otherwise…’’ the bounty hunter didn’t finish the sentence, I knew the end when the grip around the knife tightened.

So many thoughts went through my mind in the next few seconds. Both important and unimportant ones. Who is this hunter? How can I see so well in the dark? When will the Silver Jedi stop hunting me? Why isn't my vision affected by the ysalamir? Soon one thought alone remained. I can’t let anything happen to Lills. The thought repeated itself in my head.

I considered my options. The bounty hunter still had the ysalamir on his shoulders, protecting him, or her from any direct Force attacks. There was no guarantee that he would let Lills go, if I surrendered, so that was out of the question. One option remained. One weakness I could exploit – overconfidence. The bounty hunter thinks he’s completely protected from Force attacks, but what he hopefully doesn’t realize is what I’ve already concluded and that is the fact that I can’t use the Force to attack him directly, but there is another way to get him. Something the ysalamir can’t prevent. I concentrate, my vision amplifies and I see my surroundings clearly, then I turn my attention to a single object on the ground. A fist-sized rock.

‘’Well, what’s it gonna be?’’ The hissing voice demanded and then, with the speed of a bullet the rock hit the bounty hunter straight in the back of the head. He never expected that. The slender figure fell to the floor, releasing Lills from his grip and losing consciousness. The ysalamir decided to leave his place on the hunter’s shoulders and walked away into the darkness of the tunnel.

I restrained the hunter’s hands and feet, using his own equipment and started to drag his unconscious body farther away from the outcast community. ‘’Don’t worry. I’ll be back.’’ I told Lills. ‘’I’m just taking him away to make sure he doesn’t find this place again.’’ In truth I didn’t want her to see me kill him. That’s when I realized what I’ve found here, deep under the surface. That’s when I knew why the girl glowed with a bright light in my vision. She was untainted. There was no small seed of darkness in her heart, waiting to sprout. Only light. I never encountered a person like her on the surface of Coruscant, or any other planet I visited in my Jedi days. I had to protect her and the community that raised her from any who would corrupt them. I had to preserve their… purity of heart. It is such a rare thing to find in the universe nowadays. I had to protect Lills because she gave me hope. Hope that one day there will be more people like her in this galaxy.

She slowly turned around and started back to the outcast settlement. Suddenly she turned around again and asked: ‘’What’s your name?’’

I dropped the unconscious bounty hunter at that instant. My name. My name? I haven’t heard it spoken in so long I almost forgot what it was. I grabbed the bounty hunter by the wrists again and said: ‘’Darren. Darren Syn.’’



The End


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