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Old 05-17-2006, 10:27 AM   #137
machievelli
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Star Forge

Admiral Varko walked toward the Dark Lord. Malak was busy with something, and turned as the new commander of his fleet approached. Varko stopped, stunned in horror at the sight. Malak’s lower jaw was gone, scar tissue flowing in a spray across his neck and head. His upper teeth incongruously were neat and white. Where his throat had been Malak had a small device attached below a vocal prosthesis. Tubes ran from the device to a sack of pureed vegetables. As he watched the contents lowered as the food was pumped into his stomach.

Varko averted his eyes, and saw satisfaction in Malak’s eyes.

“You have something to report, Admiral?” Even as the food level dropped, Malak could still speak thanks to the prosthesis.

“The Star Forge is operating at 300 percent of the original projected levels as you commanded My Lord. The ships are being launched from its pores at the rate of two full sized frigates a day.”

“I told you all long ago that you have no idea of how well the Star Forge would perform.” Malak said, disconnecting the empty bag, and selecting another of pureed meat. “What of the fleet?”

“The fleet is still gathering, My Lord. We have almost a thousand ships here now, and more arrive every day. We eagerly await your instructions!”

“Patience Admiral. My new Apprentice is almost ready. Once she is the combination of our fleet and Bastila’s battle meditation will spell the end of the Republic. When she returns from the planet, have all commanders deliver plans for a stroke straight at Coruscant.”

“Is that wise, My lord?” Varko asked. “The Republic fleet will...” His eyes brightened. “Of course. The Republic must gather all of its ships for one titanic battle! We can crush them in an afternoon!”

“So glad you approve, Admiral.” Malak turned back toward the building floor. “Now leave me to my lunch in peace.”


The One

Danika

The next morning, we moved down the hill to the ship, delivering the parts we had found. Carth promised to have them installed and ready within the day, and I led Canderous and Jolee toward the other path leading to the One. Canderous carried the small box which we had gotten on Korriban, and I considered what I intended to do. According to the Mando, the One had several dozen warriors. This would not be an easy fight we faced.

The path led onto a small beach, and ahead of us were a dozen Rakata and a pair of Rancor. When they saw us, the Rakata formed a skirmish line, the two Rancor at the ends. It spoke of some experience with the large beasts. If we fought, the Rancor would charge in from the sides, breaking any formation a party might try. If enough strength went to the wings of the formation, the Rakata could cut through the middle. I realized that the eyestalks on the side of the head aided their depth perception. Their feet had wicked claws on them, and increased depth perception made them lethal weapons.

They halted five paces away. “You have been to the Elder encampment! You must die, as the One has ordered!”

“I come with a gift for the One.” I motioned, and Canderous set the box down beside me, stepping back. His blaster was aimed at the Rancor to our left.

They paused, and the leader of the Rakata considered what I had said. “You have been here before, creature. Why should the One agree when you have betrayed his trust before?”

“I was injured, and have lost all memory of having met him.” I admitted. “Do you punish those that fail without knowing why?”

“Sometimes he punishes them because he would wish to.” The officer admitted.

“Then take us to the One and let him decide.”

Again the pause. “Bring them.” He ordered. We moved toward the building the One’s people occupied. Behind us the Rancor snuffled curiously, but followed their trainers when commanded. I breathed a silent sigh of relief.

The doors had to be opened manually. If my plan succeeded, the Rakata would begin their long climb to civilization again. If it failed, I would die. But the Ebon Hawk would be free to fly again.

The One’s encampment was larger than the Elders, and one section looked to be an arena. A walkway crossed it with heavy gates installed so that once you were on it, you could not retreat. Tiered seats would allow the Rakata to watch as warriors were forced to battle over a man made lake full of what looked like vicious predatory fish. Both gates stood open today, and we walked across, surrounded by our guards. The Rancor kept trying to pull to the rear, but their handlers prodded them to follow us instead.

Beyond the arena was another huge area with cages. Each cage held a Rancor. No, all but one. In that one stakes had been pounded into the earth, and bodies hung from them. The scouts the Elders had spoken of.

A large Rakata stood there, and I could feel the Force flowing over him. It was a dark presence. An evil steeped from the ground itself that fed it.

“I said they were to die!” He screamed.

“My lord, she claims that she has no memory of your previous meeting.” The officer reported.

“Lies, all lies!” He screamed.

“She also bears a gift.” He added.

“A gift?” The One looked at me. “What kind of gift?”

I held the box, advancing toward him. “A gift from the past of your race. One that was made before the Infinite Empire fell.” I said, setting it down. “And a message from that time.”

He looked at me, then at the box. I could feel his lust for it warring with his caution. He waved me away, storming forward to pick it up. A finger touched
the tip of the pintel, then he froze as if stunned.

“Now!” My team went into a triangular formation, facing outward. Our guards moved forward, but paused at a whistle. The Mando came out of stealth fields,
surrounding those that faced us.

“Betrayer!” The officer screamed.

“Wait.” I said. Give this a few minutes before you attack, or he,” I motioned toward the still body of the One, “Is who I will kill first.”

The threat held them in place. As we stood there, a pair of the Mando ran to the gate on this end of the walkway, and closed it. Beyond that other Rakata were gathering.

The standoff continued, and I began to worry. It had taken only a few minutes from the time I was ensnared to my release according to Carth. How many was a few?

Behind me I heard a gasp, and looked at the One. The box was in his hand still, and he gently put it down. “As promised.” He said. He looked at the guards standing around us. “Stand down.” He ordered.

I could see that the force around him had changed. It was still dark, but not as much as before. He was looking at his hands in wonder, then at us. “You have freed me. Why?”

“This is your home world, and these are some of your people.” I said. “Would you join with them and others to make things right again?”

“I have a chance to fix what I caused?” He clapped his hands. “Tell me more.”

I told him of the Elders, and of the people that followed the One. He listened intently. “So they have little or no military force of their own, and no access to our computers, is that what you say?”

“Yes.”

“Then maybe they need someone that can help them in that regard. You.” He pointed at the officer. “Take the wounded Elder scout to the Elder bastion. You are not to harm him in any way. Ask to be admitted. Tell them that I shall come and make an alliance with them. I will come with this one directly.” He motioned toward me, “Go.”

Three Rakata ran to the cage holding the living scout, and carried him away.

“Makiel!” I shouted.

“Chu!”

“You will stay here for a time. Assist this one in consolidating his power. They have guns taken from downed ships. Either place them in defense, or destroy them.”

“Chu!” Half of the Mando came up, saluted the Rakata, and took positions around him as bodyguards. The Rakata watched them warily.

I faced the Rakata. “You know how fierce these warriors are. They will be among you until your leader says otherwise.” I ordered them. “Treat them as you have others, and you will die. You will no long consider other people as food. If you are not sure, ask one of them,“ I motioned toward the Mando, “As to what is or is not food. You must learn to join civilized peoples again, how to fight well for your race. They will teach you for they are masters of it.” I turned to the person occupying the One’s body. “We will escort you to the Elders now.”

“My thanks for my rescue and another chance. May I know your name?”

“I am called Danika Wordweaver.”

“I was called Brashieel and shall be again.” He extended a hand, palm upright toward me. I placed my hand against his. “I promise to be worthy of that chance.”




Elders

Jolee

We entered the Elder’s encampment, and Brashieel bowed to them. They spoke too rapidly for me to follow, and Danika merely stood there. Finally Brashieel stepped aside.

“You have done as we asked, and brought this one from our past to aid us as well. Our scout has told us of the way you freed him, and this alliance will help us convince other small tribes to join in rebuilding our society. We are in your debt.”

“Will you help me enter the temple then?” Danika asked.

“Helping us rescue our person proves that you have changed, Revan, but you have lied to us before. Can we trust you with such power yet again?” He looked to the other Elders. “We must discuss this in private. When we are done, we shall summon you. Please feel free to look over our people and our works.”

The Elders walked away. Brashieel walked over to stand with us. “Like all politicians and priests they must talk until they are bored of it before deciding anything. During our conversation, they told me that there is one computer they can still use. Would you see it?”

“Please.”

The Rakata led us through a bewildering array of rooms. There weren’t many of the Elders to be seen, and I understood how relieved they were that this small war was over. In one room, a researched named Ll'awa was trying to discover what within them caused the Force to dissipate. He was ecstatic when Danika informed him that Brashieel’s body could use the Force.

“We have tried to create methods of bringing out the Force in our people. But our knowledge is still limited. It is said that the main computer within the Temple has more data on our DNA than any we have yet accessed, but that might be a myth. Please.” He turned to Brashieel, “Could we have samples to test?

“I have promised to take these ones to the computer room.” Brashieel demurred.

“I will have someone lead them for you.” Ll'awa said, signaling an assistant. The young Rakata led us into the depths of the encampment, stopping at a door where a single Rakata knelt in meditation.

“This is Keeper Orsaa. He will assist you.” Our guide motioned toward the other Rakata, and left again.

Orsaa looked up. “Well met yet again, Revan. I am glad that you have returned. He stood, towering over us. “I could not believe that you had betrayed us, regardless of what the council decided. I am the keeper of our history and the sole computer that remains for our use. When you were here last, you had many questions for me. I have heard of the destruction of your memories, but I hope some of what we spoke of remains?”

Danika shook her head. “I wish I could remember.”

Orsaa chuckled. “There is no need to apologize. While it pains me that all I have taught you is gone, I am an old being, and old beings enjoy repeating themselves.”

Danika snorted trying to keep from laughing, her eyes moving toward me. “So I have discovered. I do have questions yet again for you.”

“Yes, or course. You must forgive me if what I tell you suddenly seems familiar. We discussed the history of my people at great length when you were last here. I will endeavor to enlighten you in any way I can.”

“Tell me of the beginnings of the Rakata Empire.”

“Long ago, we discovered that we could combine both what you call the Force, and material objects into a single object. We made great weapons and buildings such as the temple that rests beyond. We soon grew bored with seeing the same stars, and the same planet, and created ships of metal and force combined, with what you would call hyper drives that fed upon the force itself. We went outward from our world. Everywhere we went we found other more primitive societies. But instead of helping them advance, teaching them what we knew, those early Rakata decided instead to conquer them. Those we did not destroy became our slaves.

“Back then, we commanded the force as easily as you command metals now. Something we never learned, because the Force was in abundance. Combined with our technology, we were irresistible. Soon we spread across this galaxy, and we called our works the Infinite Empire in our hubris.

“But it was discovered in the fourteenth millennia of our empire that our children had become weaker in the force, and some were unable to feel it at all. Instead of heeding this warning, we taught ourselves how to make the hyper drives and engines that ran our ships in a more mundane manner. Yet that first weakening in our grasp of the Force became the first sign of our collapse.”

“How did the Empire collapse”?

“We were a corrupt people, using our powers and technology to smash those that opposed us. How, some reasoned, were we different if another Rakata had something you needed? Some began treating other Rakata as we had the so-called lesser races. But in corruption you find greed and honor in equal measure. Those that strived to hold the Empire together, and those that feared that the Force would vanish for all time, and would grab for what they could at whatever cost. Natural opponents.

“Our Empire was built on slaughter and force. We began using the same means upon ourselves. It began to collapse as our own people fought for what they wanted. Plagues sprouted up, and each plague seemed to weaken our hold on the Force just that much more. As we weakened our slaves began to revolt. Our weapons devastated planets in an attempt to halt this. You told me before of a planet named Tatooine where our ships still lie. This was one such.

“Here on our own hidden home world the fighting between rival factions escalated. Warlords fought to control all, and succeeded only in our own slaughter. Many of the weapon designs were taken and placed in the Temple so only the priests could gain them again, but always there were more. Biological weapons were released, nuclear and anti-matter fire devoured cities. Only those that had hidden themselves had even a remote chance of survival. Our empire collapsed into ruins in less than a century. The Glory of what we called Infinite lies now only in rust, dust, and bones.

“Then came the fleets captured by those we had oppressed, come to repay us in kind, or slaughter those that remained. The greatest of all our priests, L’Wass entered the temple, and a great scream came from it. Then the ships fell like stars from the sky, crashing everywhere. But it cost him to use the Force that last time. He staggered from the temple, and died.

“Since then ships have crashed here as other peoples beyond our star rediscovered us. Finally you came, and filled us with hope.” He looked sad. “Now if you could just free us from this great prison.”

“I will do what I can.” Danika replied softly. “Now, I was told you still had a computer?”

“Of course, you have forgotten that as well.” He turned, and opened the door that he knelt before. Beyond was a small room. “Enter.”

The console was dark with age. Danika paced toward it, standing before the system. She hunted for a moment, then touched a control.

“User verification.” We turned around. Before us stood a small hologram about a meter tall of a Rakata. “Species is not Rakata. Access to auxiliary archives not permitted for slave races. Restricted only to Rakata and approved servants.”

“I come in the name of the Rakata people.” Danika said. Then she spoke in their language. The machine replied in kind. “You have been programmed with the Basic language.” She said. “Use it for those with me.”

“Order accepted. Downloading information on access to the temple as requested. However only the Rakata race can so access the temple. While you speak the language, the intonation and timbre is incorrect. This was a security system activated when the defense field was placed around the system.”

“Understood.” She handed me a data pad. “Access data files.”

“Accessing. State topic of interest.”

“I am looking for information about the Ancient Rakata.”

“Accessing. Retrieval complete. All such information in full is within the Temple itself. There are only synopses in this system. Access to the main temple was cut during the siege of the planet over 30,000 years ago.”

“How do I enter the temple?”

“As stated, a Rakata must speak the codes necessary. The force field around the temple will stop any attempt to enter it without authorized access. Anyone within the temple can shut the field down, but from without, the codes must be used. This was to assure that renegades would not use the data within the computer inside. The code is a ritualistic chant in an ancient poetical meter. This is detailed in full in the book held by the Keeper of Knowledge.”

“Tell me of the Star Forge.”

“Error, no such data is within this system.”

She shook her head. “Tell me of the Ancient Rakata. Historical overview.”

“Accessing. Retrieval complete.” A glowing ball similar to one of the Star Maps glowed in mid air. “The Infinite Empire covered the Galaxy, and at it’s height consisted of 500 planets, ten billion Rakata, and over a trillion slaves. However corruption set in, and the Empire was weakened by a series of civil wars. Before the first of these Civil Wars, the first mutation of a great plague struck the Rakata.”

“Wait, the Rakata say that there were a series of plagues.”

“It would be more correct to say mutations of a specific virus. Just as your race speaks of a ‘common’ cold that strikes even those that suffered it before.”

“Where did you get that analogy?”

“From the one called Revan who accessed this system five years before.”

“Continue.”

“The origins of the plague are unknown. Perhaps it was a naturally occurring virus of one of the planets conquered during the expansion. Possibly it was created by one of the slave races. It has even been suggested that the Rakata themselves made it as a weapon. It killed only Rakata, and those that were infected and did not die discovered that they could no longer access what you call the Force, and this lack of ability was passed on to their progeny. Carried by their own ships, it spread to every corner of the Empire before it was stopped.

“The empire began to collapse, slowed by creating technology that could mimic what their original ships could do. But as slave revolts tore through the Empire, the Race retreated back to their home world. However even here they were not safe. Millions died in the civil wars that struck them, more died as the plague mutated to strike the race again and again.

“That history ended over 30,000 years ago. Now my creators have devolved into scattered primitive tribes that still fight each other to gather what they need to survive.”

“So sad.” She whispered. “If they had tried to do good-”

“They would have still had civil wars.” I said. “Look at the Galaxy now. The Sith and the Mando could have been members of the Republic. But instead they fight to conquer. The nature of most species hasn’t changed.”

She nodded sadly. A Rakata came running up. “The Elders ask for your presence.”


'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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