SWTOR: Jedi, bred for war?
This is my first attempt to write in the exciting new era of The Old Republic.
Constructive criticism is welcomed.
The planet was on the edge of known space and it had once been a lush world, now it was but a shell of what it once was, a necropolis. The only habitable area the deep underground cave systems that were not touched by noxious fumes that made up the atmosphere. The hooded figure that haunted my past chose this planet well, it reflected his personality with crystal clarity to his prisoners. From the brief snippets of knowledge that escaped the murky veil of sleep I knew he was dangerous man, quick to explode into sudden fiery rages. He had a strange quality about him, his very presence whispered of stories of hunger and loss which only escaped as moans and soft whispers on the back of his breath. In the dark dream I have returned to my childhood, surrounded by children just like me. We fought over the little food we were given, vicious brawls that ended in death. After such battles for survival he would murmur to us about a role that only best of us could play.
We looked up from tending our bloodied scrapes and fierce bruises and stared in to his deep eyes, which reflected the cruel red light of the glow crystals that cast the only light of this dark dream. We were forced to huddle together for warmth during the bitingly cold nights and despite this companionship we were could only trust ourselves so that we could be the chosen to fulfil our master’s plans. I was not the strongest nor the fastest but I knew that I had the greatest mind of all the boys, I longed to escape, to endlessly travel the stars that my master spoke of.
I always awoke drenched in sweat, the image of the hooded man burned into my head. These dreams had haunted me ever since the beginning of the war almost twenty-eight years ago. I didn’t know of the dreams origin but sometimes, in that moment between reality and sleep I knew of the evil that lurks inside of me, biding it’s time to strike.
The Sacking of Coroucant:
“Master Tindor, Master Tindor, help!” *
Within the space of seconds I had shaken off the haunting tendril of my dreams and was out the door, my glowing blue saber in my hand and the coarse hand of my teenage Padawan clasped firmly in the other. I tried to take stock of the situation and found the problem was glaringly obvious, fire. How could this be? The Jedi were always given the best equipment for the job, whether it involved a simple ice-tech sprinkler system for the temple or an Aratech armoury filled with enough weapons to start a small revolution.
I searched around desperately as the flames continued to crackle and roar, searching for something, anything that could help. I had lived in this section of the temple’s living quarters *for my whole life, excluding *the many recent years spent sleeping in trenches and bunkers on the front line of the Great Galactic War. The once familiar environment of my home was marred by thick smoke and deadly orange flame. I could see no way of escape; the smoke had completely disorientated me.
The brief moments it had taken to survey the situation had taken their toll, my eyes watered and my lungs screamed in agony. Suddenly the presence of my young charges hand changed from a tight grip to a strong pull, Andri had somehow found an escape route! I followed him without complaint, he was a tough guy who had more than proved his trust over the last year in which I had been his mentor. We began to run, still hand in hand, my saber starting to crackle furiously as the flames met with the blue blade. At that point I put my head down and ran though the ferocious heat, being lead by my Padawan. Fire covered me and I felt my weak human skin begin to peel and burn. After what felt like a trip to the mid-rim without a hyperdrive I burst through the flames with a guttural grunt of pain.
We had made it; I recognised the corridor we were in. Somehow Andri had found the weakest point of the flames and led me directly through it towards the door that lead to safety. *He waved his hand to shut the door just as we stumbled through it. I thanked the stars that he was a Sonitan, a near-human species known for their mining skills because of their ability to pick up heat waves with their pointed ears. That was how he led us both to freedom.
I didn’t have time to thank my teenage Padawan however I knew that I owed him my life, I could have easily succumbed to the flames. I pulled that thought from my head as I focused on scanning the blazing rooms around me for survivors. I didn’t detect anyone else alive in the simmering rooms that we had just run from but I knew from my many years at war that wounded or dying *force sensitive’s were known to shield their force signature, purely as a defensive instinct.
I reached for my comlink, already attempting to recall which signal number activated the temple’s fire systems. I patted air for a moment before realising that my comlink was in my quarters, along with everything else I owned, I was only dressed in my pyjamas. I was not looking forward to the embarrassment that would undoubtedly form from this blasted fire. Come to think of it, how could the fire have even started? The entire temples structure was built with fire resistant alloys. That’s when the feeling hit me, the brief respite had stopped the insane beat of my heart, so I could feel it. This was not a simple fire coupled with an unfortunate tech malfunction that caused my current problem. This was something far more sinister.
The emptiness clutched at my stomach so badly that I bent over in pain. Andri barley looked up from his position leaning against the smooth metal wall. He could feel it too. Usually the temple was teeming with powerful force aurora that swirled through the halls and revitalised everyone. The gardener’s flora grew high, the scientist’s experiments were a success, the animals always teemed with energy and the healers touch always soothed. As Jedi we aided each another by contributing our energies into each other. Now suddenly all that help was gone, leaving only a shallow emptiness.
Finally Andri found his breath through the thick smoke
“The Sith, they did this,”
Trickery, a true tool of the Sith. Just the night before I imagined a galaxy with no war as I breathed in the cool night air. Reports had come in that the setup for the negotiations on Alderaan had gone well and that although the offer of peace had come out of the blue we were all holding our breaths for a settlement.
As pained thoughts spun through my head I dropped to my knees, breathing heavily. That’s when I heard the snap-hiss of a lightsaber. Looking up, all I saw was a crimson blade, black robes and deep yellow eyes.
A fight was brewing. * *
Please forgive me if I'm being unclear, but I'd like to compare your story to Kreia's words.
Both are hauntingly beautiful. As I hang on every word Kreia speaks in KOTOR 2, trying to decipher what she really means by what she says, the descriptions in your story thrill me. They make me wonder how you'll keep turning ordinary and mundane things into riveting ones. Something commonplace--a fire, even an unexpected one--becomes chilling here.
However, there are times when Kreia simply makes no sense to me, and neither do sentences like this: "The the only habitable area the deep underground cave systems that were not touched by noxious fumes that made up the atmosphere". I know what you're trying to say here, and you're trying to say it artfully, but something's missing. I might have put: "THE only habitable area WAS the deep underground cave systems..."
Fear not. Sometimes, I make terrible mistakes when I'm writing my own stories, and I always go back and double-check what I've written after a little time has passed.
My personal writing style is simpler than yours--meaning that I use a simpler vocabulary and simpler descriptions--What draws me to your writing are the brushstrokes of art. I especially like this bit: "We fought over the little food we were given, vicious brawls that ended in death. After such battles for survival he would murmur to us about a role that only [the] best of us could play".
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I mean that, too.
Thank you, it really means a lot to me to hear feedback on my writing. I agree that that sentence is a bit clumsy, I'll try to more throughly check the next few chapters for similar mistakes.
Once again, thank you and hope you keep on reading :)
(2) First Strike
I leapt up quickly, sinking into the defensive stance of the Makashi saber form, which was my most polished style and the one I trusted most in a melee. At first I intended to stay put and let my enemy strike first, goading him with my constant gaze but the hooded figure quickly discovered a gaping hole in my defence, a human teenager leaning against the durasteel walls coughing himself into a smoke induced stupor.
The figure began to run towards my young charge, so I ran to meet him before his blood red blade would singe Andri’s sandy blonde hair. In the moments that preceded that first strike I stared into my opponents eyes, searching for some kind of weakness. All I saw was a shrouded figure, presumably male and human but even that I was unsure of due to the dark hood that obscured his face.
Before I could formulate anything more on the thought of somehow surviving this surreal mess our blades me in a clash of sparks and colours. Attempting to get a quick killing blow I stabbed forward in an attempt to disembowel the man which was easily countered by a quick step to the left. He swung at my right while I was still being carried forward by my own momentum. I leapt back while simultaneously bringing by blade up to block the strike. I blocked the attack but it had quite a bit of power behind it was so I lost my balance and staggered backwards. The moment of my weakness was brief but it was certainly enough. I quickly found that having a black boot implanted with force into your chest is certainly not up there with a trip to Hologram Fun World.*
I flew backwards, crashing into the red hot steel door of my quarters with a groan of agony, the metal searing through my skin almost hurt as much as the fierce pain stemming from the bruises already forming on my chest.
My eyes stung from the pain but I got up quickly, countering the expected red blade that was already heading for where I was slumped only a moment before. I was in a bad position; with my back to the burning metal it would be fatal for me to give any ground over to my opponent. I desperately swung my blade in a unsuccessful attempt to break the figures calm facade.
By now I knew that his style was a furious variation of Djem Sho, meaning that despite all of my efforts he was probably trying to fool me with attacks filled with power and rage and then jauntily snake in a light strike which would lead to me breathing in smoke on the floor with a cauterised wound through a major artery. This damn Baay Shfat was toying with me!
Only *a nanosecond after I made this discovery he made his move, a quick slice to my lower abdomen while I was recovering from a fierce attack that forced my saber out from it’s defensive position just below my centre of gravity. I was expecting the devious move however and blocked more through animal ferocity than actual skill. My opponent was surprised, his shock emanating past his dark aura, he was obviously used to this being his killing move. I used this to my advantage using an attack of the ancient art of Teräs Käsi, or in spacer’s terms a dirty kick to the groin. I wasn’t sure if my opponent was human but it sure did the trick. Now it was his turn to stagger backwards, leaving me ample opportunity to regain lost ground. I was on the offensive and barley began to contemplate whether to spare this foreign invader when a green blade appeared through his chest, eliminating my moral predicament entirely. As suddenly as it appeared the saber withdrew from sight and moments later I saw Andri’s gaunt features through the thick smoke.
I spluttered out
“We have to get out of here,”
Andri nodded his head but then looked over the corpse with a dull look in his eyes. He bent down, tenderly scavenging a comlink from the utility belt of our slain foe. I glanced behind me, now raring to go, the flames had *spread and were licking at my *heels. Yet Andri was still bending over the body!
For reasons unknown to me he removed the pitch-black hood from the attacker. I found that the figure was indeed human and male but in fact only *a child of perhaps around seventeen years, much like Andri except for dark brown hair that was much more like my own. Apart from the child’s startling amber yellow eyes and pale skin his chiselled features were unmarred. Andri gingerly closed the boys eyes with the tanned skin of his hand contrasting with the pale of death that was already forming on the Sith’s body.
There was no more time for this; every second was bringing us closer to a fiery death. I began to run and sensed that Andri was following me. I had a faint idea where I was but my memory of the temple was weak, I’d been on the front lines without returning home for nearly a decade now. Andri took the lead, his memory of living here as a child was only clouded by a few years of The Great Galactic War.
Finally we emerged from the smoke, breathing in sweet air that that didn’t clog up our airways. I found however that I far preferred the smoke and fire that obscured my vision from the terrible truth that I now stared at with horror in my eyes.
Nothing could have prepared us for this, not even my dark past... * *
Another thrilling chapter! Two questions: What are the asterisks for? Also, did you mean a "mortal" predicament in the sentence where you have "eliminating my moral predicament entirely"? Moral predicaments are my favorite thing to write about--intrigue and temptation--and mortal ones seem to be yours. :) Regardless, I can't wait to read more. Bravo!
Chapter 3: Descent
The famed room of a thousand fountains was spread out before me but all I could see were bodies, they were everywhere. Most I didn’t recognise, just clumps of a wasted life spread out before me like grains of sand lost in the wind of a terrible storm. We’d put up a fight, that was clear to see, rubble was strew all over the place, almost as casually as the bodies of my friends, colleagues and teachers. My eyes only rarely glimpsed dark mounds of robes, it truly showed that the best fighters amongst us were on the front lines, probably believing even now that they’d soon be coming home to a safer galaxy. I let out a soft sob, letting the tear trickle down my soot stained face. How could I have possibly slept through this slaughter?
The fountains that had stood proud for generations had stopped working this place of serene beauty had been replaced by the grim touch of death and judging from the warmth of the bodies surrounding me the struggle had ended only recently, I could have helped fight! About a pace behind me Andri let out a cry himself. It was not like him to break, usually he was so strong.
It took a second for my anguished brain to compute that the cry was of alarm, not sadness.My moment of weakness had endangered us both. Damn it! I had to stay strong.
Blaster-fire rang through the air, fast and deadly.
By some instinct I threw myself off to the left, hoping a commando roll would absorb most of the impact. Not so however in reality. I landed on my shoulder with a fierce crack. Pain spread through me about as fast as rakghoul disease at a Rodian nudist colony, sending a thick fog over my tired brain.
I knew I was helpless; the hurt was too intense to put up even a faint struggle. All I could do was stare at the three metallic feet of what I now recognized as a Sith war droid Mark II. So much for the foolish notion that I would go down in a blaze of glory. When I was sure that my fate was confined to a blaster bolt to the face, something that sounded vaguely like hyperspace com static whizzed through the air, followed by an ear splitting explosion. Andri was always so much better at manipulating the force than I was, for me to fry the droids complex circuitry from within would have been as difficult as stealing candy from and underfed Hutt, impossible, while the young man I was meant to be teaching made it seem easy.
His blasted habit of saving my life was becoming worryingly commonplace.
We had to move fast, an exploding droid would undoubtedly attract far to much unwanted attention. Andri hauled me up from the jarring coldness of floor with a strong grip. Every movement was a struggle but I was determined not to slow us down. Our heavy footsteps echoed through the vast halls as we stumbled past the many bodies of our friends, spurred on by shouts and *the eventual sounds of pursuit from behind us. I knew they would catch us eventually, I needed to find a place to hide but the once familiar confines of my home were scarred by debris.
My eyes searched with a desperate hunger, I could not die now. The presence of Andri beside me had disappeared. I slowed down and glanced back. Just a few metres behind me he had tripped over face first over the remains of a once grand pillar.
How could he have been so careless? My brain whispered at me to keep on running, to just abandon him to his own fate. Self perseverance took a brief moment to lose a battle of wills with my Jedi beliefs. I ran over to him, nearly tripping over some rubble myself.
I had no time for sympathy
He let out a low groan but regained his senses quickly; rising back to his feet. The sound of pursuit grew ever louder. My feet pushed me forward but yet again I did not feel my padawans presence beside me. I turned around angrily, about to snap. But his demure expression stopped me as he pointed off to his right. I can’t believe I had missed it. It was the quarters of the head librarian, a perfect sanctuary, and I had ran straight past it.
The door closed behind us with a soft hiss that unfortunately did not go unnoticed by the room’s inhabitants. Apparently brief safety was far too much to ask for. Andri let out a huttese curse that not even I knew the meaning of but I imagine that if I searched it up on the holonet I would probably get arrestd.
Before my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room my senses told me that there were three of them, shrouded in the darkness of their cloaks with their sabers in easy reach. Only two of them had noticed us, the other seemed busy cackling as he held his blood red saber to the throat of a withered figure.
We moved with a practiced efficiency that had formed from watching each other’s backs for over a year now. I knew that Andri was ready for the trials of knighthood but I didn’t want to lose him, such a fluid team was too valuable to lose on the battlefield just for a change of titles. He didn’t mind, with him at the tail end of his teens he wasn’t interested in toting around a padawan, he had the talent but not the responsibility. I figured if the treaty got signed I would have to give him up but if we survived this mess I suppose we would still be fighting side by side as the war raged on.
Surprise was evident on both of the Sith’s faces as we cut them down. Sure, I would be pretty surprised if I had turned around from a lovely bout of torture to be confronted by two soot stained figures, both covered in so many bruises it looked like we were pregnant toydarians minus the wings plus coloured blades that whispered of a cauterized death. They both fell to ground like a sack of carbonite but their companion seemed to grasp this quick change with a cold measured brutality.
He turned, nonchalantly holding up his weapon to the neck of a figure I now recognized, miraluka Agnitio Solor, the chief librarian of the temple whom also held a senior position in the ExplorCorps.
“Drop your weapons, Jedi scum,”
Andri glanced at me nervously. I gave a nod, reluctantly thumbing the deactivate switch and dropping the cylinder to the ground with a defeated clunk. Andri followed my example, continuing to glance my way with animal desperation in his eyes as if I could somehow tell him what to do. I had no way of getting out of this. Even if I had meditated for days I couldn’t have formulated a plan that could have got all of us out alive. Then it hit me, no wonder Andri was so nervous.
Before I had even met him he had spent a year under the tutelage of his previous master, a female twilek named Sariea Sekla. She and Andri were about to catch a shuttle home to Coroucant after a successful negotiation on the planet Noitiai Togen. The pair were exhausted, they had just helped stabilize an entire planet that was on the brink of civil war. That’s when a rag-tag group of insurgents stormed the spaceport and started taking hostages. There were far too many to resist, Sariea managed to avoid detection but Andri got captured trying to protect a sobbing little girl whose mother had been killed. The leader of the insurgents had done his homework, he knew that Jedi travelled in pairs and threatened to kill Andri if Sariea didn’t give herself up. She surrendered and was mowed down before Andri’s eyes. Only moments later the republic TacResponse team that Sariea had called hit the spaceport with an EMP and took back the area with no civilian casualties.
So Andri was left on his own. The council sent him to the Manos sector, where I was about to lead a squad behind enemy lines to extract a Sith civilian that contacted us to say that excessive amounts of credits could loosen his tongue concerning the coordinates of the regions Sith fleet. We worked well together, he wasn’t my first padawan and I knew from experience that he would slow me down, at least for the first few months especially considering his grief. I was quickly proved wrong, I had nothing to teach him, indeed he ended up teaching me.
Yet here we were in a situation that was so similar to the death of his master that he was reduced to a nervous wreck with the subtlety of a bantha after a few too many sips of juma juice.
The Sith licked his lips, revelling in the joy that two more would fall to his power on this monumental day
“You are so weak, you know, your pathetic code holds you down. But I can see into your thoughts , you live for battle, don’t you? Really you no different from me, from us,”
He moved his head forward and licked the sweat from Agnito’s neck, clearly relishing every moment.
“Now Jedi, I will make you one of us,”
In a dramatic motion he pointed a gloved finger at me. Just thinking of the absurdity of it all my eyebrows rose into a comical arch of disbelief.
“If you’re trying to convert me to the dark side you should consider laying off the chewing of spice cookies,”
I was trying and failing to make light of the situation however the Sith didn’t seem to hear me, his gaze fixed eerily upon my face. I took a step forward, not quite sure why. I felt dizzy and something warm and comforting seemed to be calling to me. Somehow, collapsing to the floor was right. The voice of reason that had faded into the back of my mind knew that it certainly wasn’t however. I tried ever so briefly to fight it. I failed and collapsed to the floor, seeing only shades of grey. Faintly I could hear Andri’s cry of alarm before I felt no more.
The darkness had made it’s decent.
I'm getting more and more interested as the story goes on. Your writing sometimes reminds me of Traya, with riddles and elusivity (Is this even a word? Anyways, it means elusive).
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