Council of the Old Republic
STAR WARS: COUNCIL OF THE OLD REPUBLIC
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
After the redemption of DARTH REVAN and the destruction of the Star Forge, but before the destruction of Katarr, the JEDI COUNCIL finds itself in turmoil. Several of its students, ranked as PADAWANS and JEDI KNIGHTS, are beginning to question the teachings of the Jedi Order and their own place within it. Ordinarily, the Council does not forbid such questioning, but in this time of vulnerability and chaos in the galaxy, the Council feels that what it needs within its ranks is unity around its doctrines, not division. How will they deal with their students--and their own conflicted emotions and reasons for being Jedi--while the galaxy finds itself in such flux?
JEDI KNIGHT Vtorym V'stalt knew that her feelings, especially those for fellow Knight Jacob Marek, were wrong. She had been trained better than this, more strictly than to allow her emotions to conquer her this way! Still, she was not fully enslaved by them, all of her base passions. She was still a Jedi, and Jedi swore to serve and protect the galaxy. When they took this oath as Knights, they were to understand full well that romantic relationships would remain forbidden to them forever. Still, there were Jacob's kind eyes, and his smile and laugh. His arms were always open, as was his good-natured yet stalwart heart. Even in the most serious and grave of circumstances, Vtorym could always see the innocent child within the man, and that child's desire for justice and peace to win. She herself felt the same way, but she also felt that together, she and Jacob could become a nearly unstoppable force against the still-lurking threat of the Sith...No! Such thoughts truly led to the Dark Side, as they contained underlying hints of arrogance and lust for power. Vtorym sighed and re-focused her thoughts upon her training...
"No, V'stalt! That is not the correct stance to begin the Juyo form!"
Vtorym coughed slightly. "I apologize, Master." She re-adjusted her body.
"Good. I expect you to remember that next time, as I will not be so lenient."
Lenient? Vtorym would not describe Master Vrook Lamar that way...
Jedi Master Vrook had housed suspicious about Knight Vtorym V'stalt and her fellow Weapon Master, Knight Jacob Marek, since they were both Younglings at the Enclave. Both of them had sweet natures and were compassionate and loving children, but Vrook knew that such emotions, if unchecked, could lead to folly. As a Youngling himself, he had been taught under strict Masters, and he was grateful for their instruction. None of them had allowed sentimentality or their own personal feelings to cloud their judgment in any situation, knowing that in the heat of battle, one mistake or lapse of concentration could be fatal. V'stalt and Marek had been children back then, yes, but sooner or later, all children had to grow up. Either the two had to renounce their feelings for one another that were more than those of friendship, or they had to move on--leave the Order. Why couldn't the other Masters see?
"Vtorym?" he asked. "Are you all right? Why aren't you concentrating fully?"
"I...seem to be distracted, Master. Again, I'm sorry. I'm not feeling well."
"Indeed? Perhaps you should rest after our training session has concluded."
"I will." She sighed and lowered her lightsabers. "Thank you, Vrook."
He sighed and prepared to initiate another round of the Juyo form. Vtorym was phenomenally mature in her understanding of the galaxy and of other people, of the underlying motivations of the Sith. Why couldn't she extend such maturity to the deceptions of so-called "romantic love", even after thirty-five years?
Sam Nevar meditated in the training room, Trying to wash away the emotions that went through him. So many, like a rainbow, and the Sith would use it wrongly. He tried and tried, but they would only diminish, never disappear.
Sam sat up, Master Kavar had entered, followed by Lonna Vash. They would teach him some of the finer points of lightsaber dueling.
" Sam, time for your lesson." Lonna Vash said. Kavar nodded, both of them pulling out their lightsabers.
"Come with me," Master Vrook said, beckoning to his student with a gloved hand. "I think I heard Masters Vash and Kavar nearby. If my suspicions are correct, they're with Knight Nevar in the Training Room, wanting to show him the finer points of lightsaber dueling, as I have been doing with you." He winked at Vtorym. "Perhaps by watching Sam, you'll learn something about your own technique as well as his. Do you wish to observe?"
"Indeed," Vtorym told Master Vrook, "for Sam Nevar is even better at some of the higher forms of combat than I am." She and the older Jedi bowed to one another, concluding their own dueling session, and went towards the larger and more spacious Training Room.
"Lonna?" Vrook bowed to Vash, a stately Jedi Master with light streaks of gray in her hair. "Kavar?" Kavar bowed humbly at the waist to Vrook, who was beginning to bald in comparison to the younger man. Kavar had a full head of wheat-colored curls. "I see you are both here with Knight Nevar. Hello, Samuel," Vrook said with a slight smile on his face. "Are you all here to begin a training session?" The Masters nodded. "May Knight V'stalt and I observe? We're hoping to learn something from you, and perhaps at the end of this round of training, we can teach you what we've learned." Vrook sat and waited.
"Sam?" asked Vtorym. "I'll leave it up to you if you'll let me watch, though Master Vrook is intent on viewing a display of your skills." She snickered. "Don't let him distract you!"
"Lena, come here."
Atris called out to Lena Vark, who was swinging her lightsaber around the room. She was practicing the Niman form. The Dueling Chambers were spacious enough for Lena to pretend she was being surrounded by many enemies. Lena turned off her lightsaber. She pocketed it and looked at Atris curiously.
Atris was holding out a cube holocron.
"Are you aware of what this is, Lena?"
Lena looked at it. It was full of inscriptions that Lena was not familiar with.
"Is that a.."
"It is a holocron indeed. This holocron, in particular, is that of Jedi Master Kraklan. He was the first to influence the Force to heal people. But this technique was reversed by the perverse minds of the Sith. They used it to drain life from other beings. Do you understand what I am trying to teach you, Lena?"
Lena sensed a bit of anger when Atris said Sith.
"Every act of good has an evil counterpart, master."
"Very good, Lena. You may resume training. I have to get this holocron back to the Archives."
Sam looked at Vtorym. " It's fine with me."
Vtorym smiled at Sam, and Sam gave a nod back. He looked at the Masters in front of him. They had indefinitely more knowledge on lightsaber dueling than him, but he had more combat experience. He wondered which would come out hte victor.
" Come at us, and don't hold back." Kavar said.
Sam pulled out the training lightsaber, no need to take anyones arm off. The cyan blade soothed him, he took a moment to look at it before lunging at Kavar.
Kavar was waiting for him. He sidesteped, nearly avoiding a devestating blow, and returned his own attack.
Sam blocked and jumped behind Lonna, trying to swipe her side, but she too had anticipated Sam's moves, bending at the waist and bringing her lightsaber closer to Sam's knee. He kicked it out at the last second, knocking the blade from Lonna's hand.
Didn't see that coming, huh? Sam said smuggley as he tapped her left knee.
Lonna stepped out of the ring, she had lost, fair and square, now it was a duel between master and student...
Jacob was in his quarters meditating, or at least trying to. Control! You must learn control! He could hear from Master Vandar in his head. Any other Jedi would be annoyed with it, but he knew that it was with very good reason. He was extremely strong in the Force, but couldn't control his own power. Whenever he tried to lift something with Force, he always ended up flinging it across the room. When he tried to feel the living Force, he always felt too much of it and either fainted or got a nasty headache. At least he didn't have trouble in lightsaber combat, quickly mastering the Soresu form and making short work of most training droids. Realising that he'd only end up hurting himself more if he tried to meditate, he left his quarters and went to find to find Vtorym. He never felt out of place or awkward around her, though if the Council knew why...
Master Vrook gazed admiringly at Sam and how he'd made such quick work of Master Vash in the mock lightsaber duel. He turned to his own student, a hint of a mischievous gleam in his eye. "Knight V'stalt," he said, "are you the sort that enjoys a good wager from time to time?" Despite her better judgment telling her not to nod in the affirmative, Vtorym did so. "Good. Perhaps you'd like to place a bet on which Jedi is going to win this round: Sam or Kavar?"
Vtorym turned her head to face Vrook. "What do I get if I win, Master?"
"The rest of today and the beginning of tomorrow free from any training."
"And if I lose?" This offer of respite intrigued her. Maybe she could go see...
"If you lose, you must face Sam in the ring, and if you lose there, myself."
The younger Jedi Knight took a deep breath. It was foolish to duel both a student and a Master, one right after the other, but she nodded anyway. Vtorym had always thought herself as less than Master Vrook, even though according to the tenets of the Jedi, they were equal human beings. As for Sam, she was worried about losing to him, because she had reached the rank of Weapon Master. Losing to him would mean not only defeat, but humiliation.
"Very well, then. I predict Master Kavar will win, if only by a slim margin."
Vrook smirked. "The lady has made her wager. Knight Nevar--Kavar? Begin!"
Sam lashed out, his blade connecting with Kavars. They stayed that way, not moving, barely breathing for a second...Then they repelled off eachother. He looked at Kavar, pacing around the circle, matching every step of Kavars with his own. Kavar jumped forward, nearly landing a blow. Sam leaped in the air looking at the point were he would land, Kavar had feinted him, bringing his lightsaber around to exact a finishing blow.
Sam reached out with the force, time slowing to a crawl. He reached for Kavar's lightsaber, His hand was loose on it enough that it could be plyed from his hands... Sam did such, Kavar's lightsaber flying out of his grasp, landing in Sam's.
Kavar kneeled. " I know when I'm beat" Sam knew this ploy, He would pretend that he would surrender then he'd lash out.
Sam tapped his on the shoulder with the lightsaber. " I win, Master... It seems that you have gotten slow with your old age" Sam said jokingly. Then he noticed something, He was tired. That had been what Kavar had been doing. He had heard about Vtorym's bet and Vrook's bet and used the force to tire him... It had worked.
Sam handed the lightsaber back to Kavar and kneeled to take a breather, as he sat he noticed the smug smile on his face...
"Well," said Master Vrook. "That was a most--unexpected ending to this little session. It appears, my good student, that you have both won and lost. Thus, I give you the rest of the day and the beginning of tomorrow off, but not before you face Knight Nevar."
Vtorym nodded, itching to test her skills against one as polished as Sam. As a Weapon Master, Vrook was trying to teach her the finer points of the Juyo form, although with an added bonus of Master Flurry. Skorost', he called this one, for speed. After waiting for Sam to recover his breath and composure, the female Knight struck.
Sam barley had time to jump out of the way, He was slower and more tired than he had ever been. But he could still at least come to a draw, if he's lucky.
Sam tried something, he let some of his emotions in, just a little envy, a little anger. He used something similar to what Kavar used, slowly draining away at Vtorym's power, slowly enough that she didn't notice it, then he siphoned it back to him. It was enough that he wouldn't faint or something in the middle of the fight. Then, the dam of his emotions just broke, Anger and Fury coming in large heaping waves... It was wonderful and horrifying at the same time.
Sam lashed out, everything was a blur, he coudln't tell whether or not Vtorym was even noticing his changed mood. But he knew he'd win, he always did.
"The sort that enjoys a good wager from time to time? Why, Vrook, I didn't think you would be falling to the dark side so soon."
Atris laughed. She loved making jokes with the other council members.
"Anyway, if certain Jedi Masters are finished getting their rears handed to them by students, I wouldn't mind if my padawan take a shot at Sam."
Vtorym noticed, all right. She noticed that the flurry of her two glowing lightsabers was weakening, faltering against the onslaught of Sam and his single blue blade, slicing and sure, cutting through the air with an anger and fury most uncommon to practice duels. The look in Sam Nevar's eyes was that of a champion, yes, but also something more. Jedi had trained themselves to master their emotions, to subdue them, to beat them into submission through the sheer power of their own will. Sam's expression told a story that words would have been too much to convey: I will win, the eyes said, at any cost. Yield now, or I assure you there will be consequences. She held her ground.
Suddenly, the female Jedi Knight felt a slash to her arm. With a yelp of pain, she backed away from the duel and clutched her arm to her chest, cradling a cauterized wound.
"I surrender!" she cried, fear suddenly filling her eyes. "You win, Knight Nevar. Finis!"
Master Zhar and Grieg where meditating on their quarters, after a long meditation Zhar turned to Grieg.
"Grieg, Go to the hangar and prepare our ship, I will need to go to the council to tell them of out next mission"- Zhar ordered the padawan
"Yes master"- Grieg told Zhar, then he looked at his T1-H6 unit "Come T1, we need to check the ship"
Master Zhar headed his way to the Council chamber while Grieg and T1 headed to the hangar bay of the academy, Grieg knew that his master and him where send to Nar Shaada where they where they are suppose to investigate a Bounty Hunter called Trike Colen, it is believe that he might have some information valuable for the jedi's.
Master Vrook turned to stare at Sam, his eyes full of righteous anger. "What was that? Did you suddenly forget that this was a practice duel, Knight Nevar, and not a real one?"
"It was my fault, Master," replied Vtorym, stepping hastily between the two men. "I did not properly defend myself from Sam's attacks, and therefore I lost--and was injured."
"The blame is not yours," replied Vrook. "You did your best with the combinations of Master Flurry and the Juyo form that I have taught you, called Skorost'. Someone else did not control their temper in the course of the practice duel, and it wasn't you." The older Jedi looked to the young man, his eyes full of a questioning insistence. "Sam? Are you going to try your hand at dueling Lena Vark, Atris' Padawan? If so, I sincerely wonder if Lena will end up with the same kind of wound that Knight V'stalt suffered."
Vrook stepped off the training mat. He had always had a low opinion of weaker Jedi, particularly those who could not properly control their anger, and this time he would see whether Knight Nevar, known as 'The Bloodied', could find enough restraint within himself to duel Lena and not injure her. This was going to be an interesting pairing...
( I was gonna let you win, actually, to show that no good comes from going to your emotions, but this provides a story...)
Sam had opened his mouth to answer, but none came out. Vrook was already leaving, and Vtorym left before he could apoligize.
He turned off his lightsaber, walking over to the wall. He sat with his back to it, and tears filled his eyes. He never could control his emotions. HE had tried what his form was known for (i forgot which one it is), He would release his emotions, just a little... But it suddenly gave way, all of it, he coudln't control it. Now he was crying, he had no control over any of it.
Kavar said" Sam, I fear that because of me you may have given way. You were so eager to win, you wouldn't let my little help for Vtorym stop you. But Isense something else, som-"
" Someone who broke the dam, I know. Someone purpoely caused me to go full blown rage... I fear it may happen again." Sam said, sniffing and wiping at his tears, it all started alleviating.
" Don't worry about Vrook, He was always strict, very correspondent to the ways of the Jedi. Young ones such as your self should be given some leniency..." Kava comforted him.
Jedi Knight Jerek Kerent continued stacking the multiple volumes of archived history, just as his master, Master Dorak, had ordered him to do.
It was a simple job, quiet, easy, but to a man like Jerek, it made little difference to anything, asides from the archive volumes. He didn't like the job much, but he'd done things like this ever since being allowed to return to the order 4 months ago. He had returned from his years of war, participating in both the Mandalorian Wars, and had even fought for the Republic in numerous battles against the Sith in the Civil War. But he had done such things on his own accord, and not by the will of the Council. For that, he was exiled. But luckily, his old master still had faith in him, though Jerek feared it was misplaced.
Master Dorak walked into the room.
"You are doing well, Jerek, more then half of the volumes are stacked and logged. After this, you can go about the temple, perhaps seek out your fellow students, and get back into the way of things here....I think the others would like that."
Jerek nodded, "Yes, Master. I shall do that."
He had always been very closed to everyone, not sharing his experiences, and often remaining bitter and disgruntled, but not to the point between the light and the dark. He just didn't talk to anyone. There wasn't really anyone who could relate to him as it was. They were all very naive when it came to the things that Jerek had seen, fought, and committed during his many years at war. He doubted anyone would listen anyway.
He grabbed the next volume for stacking, but he stopped, noticing the title.
The Battle of Voya N'uun: The Republic's First Stand.
He held it there for a second, and then opened it, reading it's contents.
He had been at Voya N'uun. He had fought every minute of it. He knew the details like it was yesterday. And he wished he could forget it, but he found it impossible.
He reached a section that he found incorrect,"Master Dorak, this section is not accurate. Mand'alor's troops did not strike at the center as planned, they flanked and wiped out the right-handed platoon. I was there, I know."
Master Dorak raised an eyebrow as Jerek handed him the volume. He looked at it.
"You are indeed correct, I'll have to edit that....good catch, Jerek. You have the makings of a find Archivist indeed...."
Jerek smiled, but felt old memories flooding back. The force probably echoed his sadness like a beacon.
Dorak sensed it, "You are done for today, go, go see the others. They are probably training together right now. It would be good for you. Keep your mind off of such things, relax."
Jerek nodded, "Yes, Master, thank you."
With that, he left the archives, off to find the others.
Jacob then walked into the room, seeing the aftermath of the bout. "Everything alright here?" He asked, getting slightly nervous at the sight of Master Vrook, even though controlling his anger wasn't his problem, controlling his power was. As such, he was hesitant to even use the Force unless absolutely necessary. He was tempted to go to Vtorym and see to her wound, but remembered that they were trying to keep their feelings secret from the Council.
Vtorym walked over to Jacob, almost forgetting to be careful and keep her tone calm and measured instead of almost-giddily excited. "Yes, everything's fine," she said, "all but this electrically-induced abrasion on my arm. Sam Nevar and I were having a little practice duel with our training sabers, and I accidentally got hit." She rolled her blue eyes in a merry ain't that the way the Force rolls? way. "Master Vrook was watching, and it's really no big deal." She smiled at her secret love, willing him to believe her. Vtorym was not one to blame others for something they really couldn't control. That was Vrook's job, not hers, and so she'd leave the lecturing to her Master.
Master Vrook cleared his throat. "I suspect that we're done for today," he said coolly, "or at least for the moment. You can go visit the commissary if you like."
His student looked at Knight Marek. "Shall we? After that training duel, I'm starving!"
Jerek reached the training room, just in time to see the others leave. He did catch a little on where they were going though. And food was good.
He turned around, heading down another hallway, a quiet shortcut to the commissary.
He quickly made it there, before the others, and immediatley began setting up a plate of food. He liked being early, there was just something about it...
Vtorym smiled as she saw her fellow Jedi. "Jerek! Hi!" She and Jacob were walking together into the commissary, which was suffused with the succulent aroma of bantha steaks. "Mmm...seems like the chef droids have recently gotten an upgrade! Fantastic!" She didn't care for the slightly-overcooked vegetable fare that they usually served at the Temple. Meat and bread were far more to her taste, as she needed the protein and energy. Some of the more tradition-bound Jedi were averse to killing animals, even for food, and Vtorym respected their decision. Let them eat all of the boiled kaleroot!
Once she, Jacob and Jerek had sat down at a table with their own personal choice of comestibles, Vtorym asked, "So, Jerek, how is your archivist position coming?" She winked. "I suppose stacking datapads and cataloguing holocrons isn't your idea of fun..."
Jerek chuckled, "Well, to be honest, yeah, I've done things that were much much more fun. But I think I'm getting used to it, it's quiet, so that's a good part."
He smiled and took a bite from his Bantha steak. He chewed it, and thought as he did. He swallowed and looked at Jacob and Vtorym.
"So, how are things with you guys?"
Not many in the order completely understood Jerek and his methods, but he understood things that many could never understand. He could do the same with his senses. Though Jacob and Vtorym didn't know, Jerek was pretty sure that there was something happening between the two. They hid it well, but to Jerek, it just seemed so obvious. But luckily, Jerek was considerate, and decided to keep their secret. Of course, this was unbeknownst to them, but that's the way Jerek liked to operate.
"Oh, we're fine," replied Vtorym, not sensing that Jerek meant anything untoward. "I really wish that Jacob would have been around to see my display of Skorost' today in the Training Room against Sam Nevar. I lost the practice duel, but that's because Sam and his own lightsaber technique were quite cunning. You know what Master Zhar says--smarts beat speed any day! That's how I got this little burn on my arm. I wasn't expecting his counterstrikes, especially in the midst of all my Master Flurries!" She laughed a little, but there was an undercurrent of unease to her giggles.
"Anyway," she said, sipping her energy drink--she hated caf and its bitter taste--"did you find anything in the Archives that was even remotely interesting?" Despite her combat-oriented focus as a Weapon Master, Vtorym was quite the avid reader, if perusing holocrons and datapads could be called reading. "Please don't tell me the one about the mating habits of cannoks again. That one was absolutey disgusting, Jerek!"
The comment made Jerek laugh aloud, something he didn't do that very much. He understood why Jacob liked her.
"No, no, no more Cannok mating habits, that was indeed disgusting. Heh, well, I keep finding inconsistencies in the volumes containing military history. They always mess up the major details, I don't know why, but that's about it. So, Sam beat you...again? It's true that smarts do beat speed, therefore you'll have to adapt a bit. Trust me, I know...."
He sensed something curious about Vtorym.
"Are you okay? You seem...nervous?"
"Nervous?" asked Vtorym. "Oh, no, it's just..." She could tell there was no fooling Jerek. "Listen--the reason Sam beat me was that he let his emotions flow through his body too quickly, too strongly, too--It's hard to explain. What he did was use his anger to influence his form, and he looked like he wanted to beat me no matter what the cost. If you see Sam, please don't confront him about this. After he'd hit me on the arm, he felt terrible about it, and Vrook absolutely tore him a new one. My Master didn't exactly yell at Sam, but...you know how he is." Vtorym suddenly blushed. "It's not his fault. Not entirely." Was it only Vtorym's imagination, or did Jerek look like he knew this all too well?
"Hmmm..don't worry, I won't confront him on it. And yes, we all know how Master Vrook is on everyone, it wears us all down eventually..."
Another question came to his mind as he cut another piece of his food.
"Was there anything else, it doesn't seem that it's just Sam bothering you..."
Sam tried to meditate. It was too hard. He'd killed people before, gang members trying to hurt innocent people. He had no time to negotiate.
But he never hurt a friend, or fellow Jedi. He was angry, just a little. What ever had caused the dam of emotions to burst, it must be evil. Sam got angrier, but then he was calm. All seemed... peaceful.
He stepped out of the room. He was hungry, needed a snack, maybe a bofa treat. He walked into the commisary and saw Vtorym. She looked at him, and gave a slight smile. She was still holding her arm.
Sam's arm twitched once, then he walked to the food buffet and stacked up on steak and mashed potatoes. He sat all the way across the room, he needed space to think.
No one got up to confront him. He was glad.
Grieg reached the hangar and did all the checking to the ship, he waited a few minutes for his master but Master Zhar did not came.
"Hmm master Zhar is taking way too much time, I'm going to get something to eat, T1 stay here"- Grieg said to the droid.
Grieg went then to the commissary to get some food and maybe some fruits for the way to Nar Shaada, there he saw some familiar faces around the table, Master Dorak's apprentice was there, he decided to pass and ask them if they have seen Master Zhar.
"Greetings fellow friends, by any coincidence, have you seen Master Zhar? I can't seem to find him any where." The devaronian padawan asked.
Jerek smiled at Vtorym, he decided he wouldn't push the subject too far, as he didn't want to if it wasn't the right time for them.
He looked at the Devaronian, Grieg, as he remembered. He was still getting to know everyone around here, it would seem.
"I think my Master wanted to speak to yours, they may be near the Archives. But I don't know, I hope it helps."
That brought another thought to his mind. He had talked more today then he had in a week. For some reason, he found himself able to be open with Vtorym, perhaps it was because she was very much in an experience that no one, except Jacob, was in.
Perhaps the Council would accept him once again. But war often changes things...
Vtorym suddenly noticed that most of their fellow students in the Jedi Temple had finished their lunches and were carrying their trays up to the front of the commissary so the kitchen droids could sanitize them. As for herself, she wasn't quite ready to leave her bantha steak behind. Why did the others have to hurry so, to rush through their meals and their training with the urgency of soldiers primed for combat? Then again, what were Jedi if not soldiers who had been trained to use the Force? She sighed.
"Listen," she said to Jacob and Jerek softly. "I've been having some unsettling dreams lately. They're about us, or at least representations of us, facing the Council. Have either of you noticed that the Masters seem to be more on edge than usual? Maybe it's because they are not sure whether the one known as 'Revan' will stay on the path of the Light, or maybe it's something else. Whatever the case may be, these dreams are telling me that we shall face a trial soon--you, Jacob, you, Jerek, I, the Devaronian, and a Twi'lek called Lena Vark. The Council seems to have singled us out in the dreams."
After a pause, she said, "We may not be the only ones. The Council may be aiming to test all of us, if the dreams come to me through the Force and not mere stress!"
She shook her head as Jacob and Jerek stared. "Who knows? Maybe I'm just crazy."
Jerek raised an eyebrow and sighed.
"These...these visions tell you this?"
He thought for a moment.
"Then you are most certainly not crazy. Perhaps heeding this message would be wise..."
He took another bite and the meal was finished. He looked at Vtorym and her plate of food.
".....unless those visions are because you eat too many Bantha Steaks before bedtime...."
He smiled, hoping they got the joke, he didn't crack too many of those usually.
Vtorym chuckled. "Trust me," she said, "I'm not planning on taking a nap very soon."
She finished the last of her Bantha steak and took her tray up to the front of the commissary. A kitchen droid took it deftly, spun it around on its mechanical arm like a circle of flatbread dough, and sprayed it clean in a matter of seconds. The Jedi smiled.
She noticed that Jerek and Jacob had fallen into line behind her. "Am I just lucky," she said, "or are the droids bored and wanting to show off their--erm--extracurricular sorts of talents?" Vtorym suddenly wished she had another lunch tray for the droid to wash.
Suddenly, the Temple's comm system crackled to life: "Attention, Knights and Padawans. Report to your Masters immediately after you finish for an important announcement."
For some reason, the hackles on the back of the Echani Jedi's neck began to rise.
The silence of his thoughts were broken by the announcement. Sam looked at his plate, it was empty.
Hmmm, went straight through me. Sam thought amusingly. He got up and put the tray into the cleaning receptacle. He ran towards his room, to get his lightsaber, A jedi should never be caught with out one. He then left for Kavar's room.
" You rang?" Sam said in a deep voice as he entered.
"Yes," replied Master Kavar. "If you would, please sit and meditate with me."
Once he had levitated and crossed his legs in the traditional Lotus form, he looked at his curious Jedi Knight student with an expression of hope and despair mixed into one longing gaze. "I am concerned about something," Kavar said. "You may wonder why we Masters caused the whole Temple to snap to attention, but this is serious--and possibly suicidal. There is something--a presence in the Force--that seems to be bleeding the life out of the galaxy, slowly but surely. We do not know what it is, but we intend to find out. The reason I called you here, Sam, is to inform you of this, and to ascertain your interest in being on a..." He paused. "We must be careful. I must be careful, you see."
Sam sat and meditate with Kavar.
" Please, Master, you can tell me." Sam said. He wondered what Kavar was talking about. A mission, maybe just some more help around the temple.
" What ever it is, I am ready to hear it." Sam said eagerly.
"Death is but a natural occurance, where a bridge form's between the living and the deceased. The code state's in a simple manner that there is no death, but there is the force. Such teaching's are implicated under the wrong manner of speaking, but they carry great weight."
The room was filled with an eery silence. Every second was the effect of millenia, as the living force fluctuated about Sev's being. His form, so irrevocably bound to a meaningless existance, sat in complete silence. Cross-legged amidst the chamber, an ebony curtain flung across every dark avenue, Sev was alone. Yet he was not . . .
"All so dark, every turn but another path into the ultimate abyss."
The door flicked open slightly as a fragile form slid through it's physical boundries, into a darkened corner. Her eye's focused upon the lone male in the center of the room. The confinement's of the physical world were nothing to her, as she felt purely through the force.
"You have come far my pupil, so far. Your understanding of the force is beyond even my own knowledge, such is the way of thing's." The male considered slightly, his breathing slow.
"Rank is not a measure of skill, but of understanding."
She nodded as she drew the hood from her eye's and draped it around her shoulder's.
"The living occurance is simply a matter of what is and will be, do you understand?"
"Yes Master Stusea, I understand."
"I am . . . impressed. The last time a pupil of mine came so far . . ."
Her voice trailed off as memories flew across her vision.
"I will not fall my Master, lest the force will's such a thing, in which I have no control."
Aleco considered his word's and knew now that she had learnt something.
"It wasn't your fault, it wasn't his . . . it was the will of the force."
She smiled faintly as she withdrew from his quarter's, her mind becoming overcome by emotion. A quick combination of focus and will drew the emotion's from her frail mind and cast them into the shadow.
Upon hearing the message, Jacob quickly left the mess hall to speak with Master Vandar. "Sit down, there is much we need to discuss." Vandar said as Jacob entered his quarters. "About what?" Jacob asked, wanting to be certain what he was getting into. "The Force is undoubtedly strong in you, but you have difficulty controlling your own power. You could be a great Jedi if you master your power, and I fear there is little more you can learn from me. Perhaps if you took a more hands-on approach, you might be better able to control your ability." Vandar explained. "What do you mean?" Jacob inquired, a number of emotions swirling in his head.
Master Vrook gazed at Vtorym with a mixture of fatherly love and patriarchal disdain. If his suspicious were correct, his student was one step above a garishly-dressed little streetwalker in the alleys of Coruscant, but far, far below a true Jedi Knight. No matter. More serious concerns pressed, at least for the moment. He would deal with the subject of Jacob Marek if and when the time came. For now...there was the disturbance to find.
"Can you feel it?" he asked Vtorym. "Listen to the Force. What do you sense, Vtorym?"
"Fear," she replied, "and desperation, and a wild sort of--hunger? Am I right, Master?"
Vrook nodded. "Something or someone is out there," he said coldly, "and we Jedi need to try and find out what it is. We're the only ones who can even sense such a thing. Am I right in trusting you, Knight V'stalt? Am I wise to tell you this? Only time will tell, I fear, because I've sent students on missions before and had them fail more miserably than you could ever know. I don't want to send you on a strike team and have you fail, too."
Vtorym's icy gaze hardened. "I will not fail, Master. The Force shall help me not to."
Vrook shook his head. "Such arrogance! Do I really want to send you on this mission?"
Jerek heard the announcement and placed the uncleaned tray down on a nearby counter, immediatley leaving to see Master Dorak. When announcements like this came, you had to go right when they you got them.
Master Dorak was sitting near one of the Archive's many tables. He seemed to be reading one of the volumes of information, but he was perfectly aware when Jerek walked into the room.
"It is good to see you so promptly, Jerek, we have much to discuss."
"Of course, Master, this must be extremely important to announce it to everyone."
Master Dorak nodded,"Yes it is. Very Important. Maybe even more important then the Redemption of Revan, but we'll see."
Jerek sat opposite from Dorak.
"Can you not feel it? Stretch out your feelings. Go farther then Coruscant, farther then the entire system. Feel the outer reaches...."
Jerek sighed and closed his eyes, stretching his senses into these outer reaches.
And then it came.
A torrent of fear, anger, and confusion.
And something much darker, much more filled with darkness that no words could describe.
Jerek snapped back.
Master Dorak smiled, "It is good that you still master the ability to sense these things, Jerek."
Jerek smiled as well,"Sensing that, my best guess is, we have to investigate?"
Dorak nodded, "You are correct. You and many of the other Knights and Padawans are to go together to find the source of this new terror, whatever it may be. This will be your final test, I'm sure."
Jerek nodded as well, "Only Knights and Padawans?"
"Yes. Only those. From what I remember, this is what you do your best at?"
Jerek smiled, "Yes Master. Your memory serves you well."
"I can feel it . . . like a gaping chasm, the yawning rupture spread thin across the entire outer rim . . . it feel's so empty, so lifeless . . . but wait . . . there is a hunger, a primal fury that is . . ."
His voice trailed off as he sensed the empty gap in the force.
"A rupture, a wound, it was slowly growing bigger . . . big enough to even lead to . . . no, it was far too early to make such a premature guess. Something of that magnitude . . ."
Pain wracked every fibre of his being as a masked figure reached out to him, calling and . . . he sought for something, he sought for him . . . a great hunger, all but a mask and a figure . . . it revoked all his ties to the force for but a second, then the great fury receded. Sev focused slowly, trying to recover from such a monumental feeling. He had been cut off from the force for but a second and it had struck him harder than any blade or weapon ever could.
This . . . figure was but a representation of the true problem, perhap's connected to it. The creature was hunger, it was like looking into a great rift and never looking away. The masked visage stared at him, it's eye's filled with a manic desire. Voice's uttered unintelligible syllloble's of a language even more ancient than time itself. Even these rumour's of a force known as the truth Sith paled in comparison to the threat this one posed.
It would devour the force, everything, then itself . . . simply recalling these image's sent the Jedi into a new level of pain, a new level of utter agony. He had not the strength nor the desire to attempt such again and swiftly departed from the pitch-black chamber. The voice seemed to follow him, echoing throughout every avenue of the force. It stretched around him, ensnaring him indefinetly as it closed in for the kill. The force killed him of mind and soul, but it was an illusion.
He staggered about the Enclave, desperately trying to dispell, to do away this new force. A moment later he returned to the physical world, to see a small crowd of Padawan's gathered around him, each sharing a concerned expression. He rose from the floor and pulled his hood over his head, already having suffered enough humiliation--enough pain, for one day.
He moved into a darkened corner and drew his hood away, a bucket of sweat running down his face, his breathing growing more ragged. He searched for something, just one avenue for escape. He remembered a Jedi, Vtorym.
He willed what he never thought possible, as he sent through the force a very shockwave into his unwitting target. He needed help, he needed someone, somebody. She was the first to cross his memory, his battling mind. He wondered what death would be like as he collapsed to the floor . . .
Vtorym, in Master Vrook's private quarters, suddenly collapsed to her knees in agony.
"What is it?" snapped Vrook sharply. "Knight V'stalt! What's happening? What's wrong?"
When the swimming red haze of her vision began to reform itself into familiar shapes and shadows that she recognized, she stood up. "Someone's been wounded. Badly." Without waiting for her Master, a serious yet understandable breach of protocol under these circumstances, she fled from the chamber, Vrook on her heels, his lightsaber ignited.
When the two reached what Vtorym believed to be the source of the pain, the raw disturbance in the Force, both Master and student were dumbfounded. Knight Sev Kershaw lay on the floor, half-curled into a fetal position, with not a scratch on him.
"Kershaw!" Vrook snapped. "Are you half-dead? Asleep? Stand up this instant, you fool!"
Vtorym, however, knelt down beside him. "Shhh," she said. "Knight? It's me...Vtorym..."
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