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Old 04-10-2006, 05:42 PM   #37
machievelli
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Jedi Council

Carth

We expected a couple of hours, but it wasn’t until noon the next day that Bastila finally signaled for us to let her back aboard.

“I have spoken briefly with the Council. Danika, they have requested an audience with you. We should go at once.”

“An audience, and not even a command performance? And making it for someone that isn’t even a Jedi? That’s pretty unusual for Jedi under even the best of circumstances.” I was gathering up my weapons. “Any idea what this is about Bastila?”

“I am sorry, Carth, but I can’t tell you, and you are not invited. I ask you to please just trust in the force and the Council.”

I glared at her, then threw the holstered weapons back down. “The same force and Jedi council that gave us Revan and Malak? What type of spice have you been sniffing?”

She looked at me until I looked away. “I don’t like being left out of the loop, but I’m not looking to get you in trouble with the council, Bastila. We’ll do things your way, this time.”

“Come, I will escort you to the council chamber.”

Danika shrugged helplessly. She had changed into some clothes we had brought aboard, but she still carried the Echani Brand and a holstered blaster. I watched them off the ship, then went to find something to beat on, or fix.

Danika

Stepping off onto the surface of Dantooine for the first time was like slipping into bed as a child. Everything felt comfortable and soft. I almost hugged myself. The docking area was cleared except for two Blba trees. These had been dethorned by the council, because the natural life cycle of the tree included the local carnivorous snails, and they were a pest in dwellings.

Bastila and I walked together, pacing in rhythm. The dreams about her had stopped, but I still felt uncomfortable. It was like someone had taken my life and turned it into an entertainment drama without my consent. She was more silent than usual. I wanted to ask her why, but I felt she would refuse to answer.

The entryway had a massive blast door and the hall beyond jogged sharply right then left at the other end. Simple safety precautions. If a ship exploded, it might blow the door to hell, but even if the door stood open as it did now the hall would act as a blast channel to slow it before it reached the living areas.

Everywhere there was a bustle of movement. Children streamed in laughing crowds from room to room, shepherded by older men and women in Jedi garb, the ubiquitous robes they always wore. I later discovered that while it looked crowded, it wasn’t. There were fifty of the order here, About fifteen Masters, the same number of young students, and the remainder were Padawans.

There was room for three times that number.

Padawan is an indistinct title. A trained Jedi, but one who wasn’t yet considered a master. Most of them were still in training, just learning the basics of their craft. I would only learn the nuances of the title much later.

We came into the courtyard, and the massive Blba tree there rose ten meters over our heads.

“You there, Padawan!” A sharp voice called. I looked to the speaker She was a woman younger than Bastila. She stormed over to me glaring. “Why are you not robed? Do you mock the honored traditions of our order?” Bastila shook her head wryly and walked on, leaving me to the girl.

“I don’t know what you mean.” I replied. “I am not a Padawan. I am a guest, Danika Wordweaver. I am here with Bastila.”

“Bastila! I have heard of her. They say she has already mastered the art of battle meditation. Remarkable in one so young. Though I have also heard that she has a foolish pride in that accomplishment.” Since she was about three years younger than Bastila, I took that more as envy than anything else.

“But as for you. You claim you are not a Jedi? I find this hard to believe. The Force is strong within you, I can feel its presence. If this is some kind of jest take heed! The masters will not allow the order to be ridiculed.”

“I didn’t even know what the word Padawan meant before I came here.” I replied. “I have no reason to jest with you, or lie to you.” I let a touch of irritation creep into my voice.

She sensed it, and regarded me with hooded eyes. “Please forgive the abruptness of my greeting.” I could tell from her tone that the apology was pro forma. “It was harsh and perhaps unfair. My master often warns me I must learn to control my emotions. I see I have much left to learn. I wish you a pleasant stay among us, Guest Danika. May the Force be with you.”

I nodded, and walked on. I wouldn’t let some child irritate me. Bastila rejoined me. “I could have used a little help there.”

“Why? You handled it well. And Belaya does need to learn to control her temper.”
“You know her?”

“Know of her. She just became a Padawan last year. They want to have her more seasoned before releasing her on the galaxy.”

“Maybe they should marinate her instead.” Bastila choked back a giggle. Suddenly in my mind the dreams came back in full force. What was happening?

There were four Masters awaiting us. Two were human, one Twi-lek, the last a race I had never seen before. He was short, not even a meter tall, green skinned, with wide mouth, expressive eyes, and ears that flicked about as he talked. Vandar Tokare’s race has been among the Republic for as long as the Jedi order has existed, but no one knows what their race is called, or where they are from. All of his answers were the same as every one of the race since they had joined us. He said they called themselves the people, which means exactly nothing. If you look up the root languages of the Republic, you will see ‘the people’ is what all of them call themselves, with minor variations. He said they came from the planet Dirt, which also means little. Every version of language and race throughout the Galaxy calls their home planet ‘the dirt from which we came’. But he spoke Basic, slightly changed by the way his mind worked, and never spoke his native tongue.

The Twi-lek motioned for us to join them. The council room was large enough to hold everyone of the order on Dantooine at present. They were standing, not seated as if in judgment. But somehow I knew they were judging me.

“Ah, so you are the one that rescued Bastila. It is appropriate that you are here for this discussion.” His voice was deep and mellifluous. His basic clean and precise. “After all, we had been discussing your rather... special case. I am Zhar Lestin of the Jedi Council. With me are Master Vrook Lamar, Master Vandar Tokare, and of course the chronicler of our Academy, Master Dorak. Padawan Bastila I am sure you already know.” I nodded to each in turn. Vandar watched me as if I was an amusing pet, but it didn’t bother me as much as you might think. Vrook glared at me as if I had come in half dressed. Dorak merely looked at me coolly. I later found that he had a perfect photographic memory, and would record exactly what happened afterward. They all stood there, as if waiting for me to speak.

“What does the Council wish of me?” I asked.

Zhar motioned to Bastila. “Bastila tells us you are strong in the Force. Under the present circumstances, we have been considering you for Jedi training.”

My mind reeled. “Strong in the Force?”

“Master Zhar speaks out of turn perhaps.” Master Vrook bit off. “We need indisputable proof of your strong affinity to the force before we would even consider you for training.” I looked to Vrook. If anything his animosity was growing. For a moment, I thought maybe he actually hated me but I set that thought aside. I had known drill instructors in boot camp that were the same, always angry, never satisfied. When everything went to hell, it was them you thanked because they were the ones that never allowed any slack.

“Proof!” Bastila was outraged. “Surely the entire Council can feel the strength of the Force in this woman! And I have already related the events that took place on Taris.”

Vrook shook his head. “Perhaps it was simple luck.”

Master Vandar looked up at the man. “Master Vrook, we both know that there is no luck. There is only the Force. We all feel the power that flows from this woman, even though it is wild and untamed. Now that this power has manifested itself, can we safely ignore it?”

Vrook was adamant. “The Jedi training is long and hard, even when working with the open mind of a child. Teaching a child is hard, how much harder will it be with an adult mind already set in its ways?”

“Masters, I consider this a great honor.” I said. They all looked at me as if they expected the next word to be ‘but’. “I do not know if I am ready for this, but if you believe I can learn, I will try my best.”

“There is no try. You do or do not.” Vandar piped.

“Master Vrook, traditionally the Jedi do not accept adults for training, this much is true.” Dorak interjected in his dry pedantic way. “There however have been exceptions in the history of our order. In each it has come down to one such as her.” He motioned toward me. “A special case.”

“I agree with master Dorak.” Vandar said. “The times are hard, and we must be ready to face that. Many of our own students across the galaxy have left to learn the ways of the Sith instead. The order needs numbers, and if the recruits must be older than is customary, we must consider the need. To stand against Malak we must have strength. Since Revan died-”

“Are you certain Revan is truly dead?” Vrook roared. He glared at Bastila, who looked away. “What if we were to undertake training this one, and the Dark Lord should return?”

Vandar looked up at the man calmly. “Such is not for the ears of anyone save the Council, Master Vrook. Bastila, take your companion back to the ship. Tomorrow morning we will speak with her again.”

Bastila bowed wordlessly. I echoed the bow and followed.

“I thought Revan was dead.”

She merely shook her head.


Acceptance

The room was stone, the separate blocks locked together in a manner that suggested not only cutting, but the Force as well somehow. Doors opened, and air screamed into it as the pressure equalized. Two figures entered, and I wafted toward them. One was huge, head shaved, and male. The other was smaller, slimmer, wrapped in a flowing robe, with a mask. I felt a chill. Revan! That meant the other, young, handsome, unblemished, was Malak.

“Can you feel it, Revan?” Malak raised his arms as if embracing the entire room. “I can feel the Dark side here, stronger than you have ever imagined!”

“We do not have time for this.” Revan replied. Her voice sounded familiar somehow. “If the text we read is correct, there is a key to the survival of the Republic in this place. That is why we are here.”

“Yes. Forgive me, my old friend.”

Revan waved forward. “Come. It is beyond that door.” I turned unbidden, and there was a door that looked like a solid block. “Yes, it is here.” She whispered. Her hands came down, and I felt the force run through them, slamming into the door. It began to open-


I snapped upright in my bed. I knew the room they had been on was just a few kilometers away from where I was. How I don’t know. They had sought something of great strength. To protect the Republic, Revan had said. But Malak had felt only the Dark side there. They had instead found something that had brought about the war we were fighting. Something so steeped in the darkness that no sane person would consider using it. But Revan had not cared.

I couldn’t get to sleep after that. When I finally arose, Bastila was already gone. Carth and Canderous were off getting the supplies we had requested, Mission and Zaalbar were back in the engine with T3 kibitzing. I drank my morning tea, and tried to wake up. The meeting was- I looked at the chrono. Supposed to be in a few minutes.

I stepped out into the crisp morning air. A lifter had just landed, and droids were moving crates from it. Carth saw me, and shook his head. “This morning is getting stranger by the minute. The quartermaster didn’t even quibble about what we needed. That‘s a switch. Then Bastila left looking like she’d seen a ghost. She did say you should go to the Council chamber without her when you got up. I think it’s important.” He snorted. “So you shouldn’t keep them waiting.”

“Did she say anything else?”

“No she didn’t. She didn’t look well as I recall. For that matter, neither do you. Are you alright?”

“I had a rough night.” I told him. I walked away.

The Council was already there, as was Bastila. They stopped talking as I walked in, and Zhar motioned for me to join them.

Vandar looked up at me. “Bastila has told us of a most unusual development. She claims you and she shared a dream. A vision of Malak and Revan in one of the ancient ruins right here on Dantooine.” He tapped his cane on the ground for emphasis. I was stunned. I had thought I was alone in that dream!

Dorak coughed delicately. “These ruins have long been known. After all, the Academy has been here since Master Vodo-Siosk Baas established it a century ago. It has been believed all this time that they were merely ancient burial mounds. But it seems that they are more than that if Revan and Malak found something of such power there.”

“Yes.” Suddenly the dream returned in full force. “They were looking for something. Something they had read about in the ancient records here.”

“Bastila has described this shared dream to us in great detail. We feel that this is more than a mere dream. It is a vision. The Force is acting through you, and at the same time, is working through Bastila as well.” Vandar continued.

I looked at Bastila. She looked haggard. I must have looked as bad. “I see no answer than to trust in your wisdom, Master.”

“You and Bastila share a powerful connection to the Force. Through the Force, you also share a powerful connection to each other.” Zhar took up the narrative. “This is not unheard of. Connections such as this can form between master and apprentice. Between friends who learn together, between lovers even.” I blushed at that. I hadn’t told them about the earliest dreams. “But it is rare for them to form so quickly.”

“From what we see whatever dangers lie ahead, we can no longer ignore the destiny that brought you and Bastila, to us at this time together.” Vandar said softly. He looked up at Vrook who was ignoring him. That man’s eyes were locked on me.

“Then you are saying that we are joined together somehow. That a bond I do not understand has been formed.” I said, still reeling. Suddenly I heard the words again, but now it was Bastila’s voice. Bond with me.

“You and she are linked as is your fates by this bond as you call it. But this is something we can use. This link may be what is needed to defeat Malak and the Sith.” Vandar explained.

“But don’t let thoughts of power and glory fill your head.” Vrook snapped. “Such thoughts are sure paths to the Dark side. The way of the light is long and hard. It is like climbing a mountain. Sure you can stay at the bottom, but that is the Dark side in all its strength. Sure you can climb up a way, then give up, but that can lead to the Dark as well, for the Dark never gives up on dragging you down. Or you can fall as many have. To reach the light you must climb and never allow yourself to make a mistake that sends you crashing down again. Are you ready for such an undertaking?”

“I can only do my best not to fail.“ I looked at Master Vandar. After his first comment, I had found another way to say it.

He looked up at me with a twinkle in his eye. “You must understand that there is little choice in this decision. For you, or for us. Across the Galaxy our numbers dwindle at an alarming rate. We have had to send many Jedi on quests to find that which we can use to stop Malak and the Sith. Most have not returned.

“The Sith as well know what we must do. They hunt our brothers like animals, striking from ambush, or by assassination wherever they are found. We feel that it is only a matter of time until they discover this hidden refuge, and destroy it as well.” I suddenly pictured the hell rain I had witnessed, seeing the Academy falling in ruins, the Jedi in windrows, unable to strike back from the ground. I was terrified by it.

“Others of our order have fallen from the light, or turned from it willingly.” Vrook’s face was a mask, and again I felt his hate directed at me. “They have given their allegiance to Malak and the Sith.”

“Jedi leave the order to join them?”

Vrook snorted. “Where do you think the Dark Jedi within their ranks come from? The lure of the dark side, of learning rapidly what we know must be taught more slowly calls to these weak ones. Malak’s power grows as more planets fall to his armies, make agreements to surrender, or swear themselves ally. And those of our order who cannot stand the chance of losing run to him instead of fighting.”

“Yes.” Zhar cast a warning glance at Vrook. “If Malak is not stopped, the Republic will fall. The Sith will never stop trying to hunt us down, for in all the Galaxy, only the light can confront the darkness. If the Jedi are no more, the Galaxy will fall into the dark times before the Republic existed again. A time of Darkness and tyranny that has not been seen for a thousand generations.”

They all looked thoughtful at that. Vandar broke the silence. “The Council has decreed that if you are willing to undertake it, you have a mission that can be handled only by you and Bastila. You must investigate the ruins you dreamt of once the Council deems you ready.”

“Yes.” Dorak said. “Perhaps you will find something there, some clue, that can explain how Revan and Malak were corrupted. Perhaps a way to stop Malak at last. As you go, I shall be going through the ancient archives of the order. You say they found the clues that led them there in our own records. If it is there, I shall find it!”

“I’m ready to go now.“ I considered what weapons I would need. Bastila could cover my back with her lightsaber and Force abilities. I was considering taking T3 with us when Vandar interrupted my thoughts. “Your bravery does you credit, but an untrained person in the force, entering such a place would be a danger we will not countenance. First you must be trained in the ways of the Jedi. You must learn to resist the darkness within you, which resides within all of us. Otherwise you are doomed to fail before you have even begun.”

I wanted to scream that there wasn’t time. That Malak would be knocking on the door with a 100-megawatt turbo laser before I learned enough to help! But part of me knew that like any weapon, I had to take this Force in me and learn to control it before I destroyed myself with it. “While I worry about how long this will take, I accept your judgment, Master Vandar.”

He looked at me with that knowing look. I knew that somehow he had been watching my mind wrestling with the two constraints of time and necessary training. He seemed pleased with my decision. He motioned toward Zhar.

“We must begin your training at once. You have a destiny that awaits you that we must prepare you to face. The fate of the entire galaxy may rest on your shoulders.”

“I just hope she is ready for it.” Vrook growled.


Leviathan

Admiral Karath approached Darth Malak. The dark lord merely watched the stars beyond the clearsteel screen.

“The Star Forge is running at 200% My lord. It has exceeded every expectation.”

“Except mine.“ Malak said. “Have we discovered how Bastila escaped Taris yet?”

“Carth Onasi and a Republic soldier we have not yet identified aided her. Onasi is a decorated war hero, and a legendary warrior. During the Mandalorian wars he was honored many times for his bravery.”

“Malak looked back at the Admiral. “From your words, I believe you know this man personally.”

“I do my lord. I was his mentor in many things. When I still served the Republic he was the command pilot of my ship.” He waved around him.

“Interesting. How were you able to gain this information?” He asked softly. Unsaid was the addition when my own sources could not.

“I have an eyewitness to their escape aboard. As you know, a dozen of the faster vessels were able to get away. One of those that did not was brought aboard. The pilot had a great deal to say about Bastila and her companions. He is Calo Nord, the bounty hunter. He was present when Bastila acquired the ship they escaped in.”

“Bring him to me.”

Nord looked as if he had not even been injured. He strode down the deck, and stood, arms crossed facing the Dark Lord. “Dark Lord Malak.”

“A Jedi and a war hero. It seems you’re lucky to be alive, Nord.”

“Nothing I couldn’t handle. I had more problems keeping your bombardment from killing me than they represented. But I‘m hard to kill.”

“Nord has offered to help us capture the young Jedi, for a heavy bounty of course.”

“But there is another reason.” Malak said.

“Yeah. Canderous Ordo betrayed me, and only missed killing me because of some debris that hid me when I was knocked out. I want some payback, and he’s probably still with them.”

“I will even pay you for this Mandalorian’s head, Nord. I want the Jedi alive if at all possible. Her companions mean nothing to me. Dispose of them.”

Karath held the datapad that had just been delivered. “My Lord Malak, Forgive me. There is something else. The tapes of the attack on our base were finally cleaned up, and there is something there I believe you will be interested in.”

“I trust you are not wasting my time, Admiral.”

Karath handed him a datapad, and Malak keyed it. There was no outward sign, but Karath could feel the temperature of the room drop as he did.

“Who knows of this?”

“Myself, My lord, you, Calo Nord, and Commander Beck of the scan department.”

Malak strode over to a com console. “I want visual communication with commander Beck.” He ordered. The screen lit with the face of a homely young man. “Scan department, Beck.”

Malak lifted his hand, and Beck clutched his head, moaning. He screamed, then his head exploded. Malak cut the communication channel, turning to face Calo Nord. “The orders are changed. You will capture Bastila if at all possible. Carth Onasi you can deal with as you choose, but this other one, this Danika Wordweaver, you will guarantee she dies. She must die.” He waved toward the now blank screen. “That is how I deal with incompetence. Fail me and die, Nord.”

“I’ve never failed before, Lord Malak.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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