Not switching to DTV
Join Date: May 2003
Location: just past the pot o' gold
Current Game: TrackMania Nations
The first time Jast fought the Vessa simulation, her eyes narrowed in recognition. Then, she laughed and approached, lightsaber still clipped to her belt.
“I know you,” she said pleasantly. “You’re that lucky Jedi kid who killed me not long ago.”
Jast drew his saber. “I called on my anger, seeking revenge. You won’t find me so impulsive this time.”
“Oh?” Tanith chuckled, raising an eyebrow. “Well, you won’t find me so foolishly arrogant this time.”
“You calling yourself arrogant?” Jast wondered, smiling. “Come on, already. We both know you hate my guts because I managed to do something that even a three-hundred year old couldn’t do. I killed you.”
Tanith’s dark blade sprang to life. “How can I hate you?” she asked. “You didn’t kill me. You gave me new life.”
Startled at this revelation, Jast didn’t even see her strike coming and in seconds the simulation reset itself. Ten tries later, he had gotten no further. Still determined to win, he tried a different tactic.
“If you can’t beat ‘em,” he said, shrugging slightly as Tanith glared incredulously at him. He assumed she knew the rest of the saying.
“Join them,” she completed, confirming his assumption. “The Sith have a form of the phrase also. If you can’t beat them, join them... until you can.”
And she ended his holographic life without a second thought. Finally feeling defeated, he muttered, “I give up.” Instantly, the simulation ended and Reibé entered the room.
“Now you see why it’s so important for us to work together,” she said. Jast nodded slowly.
“Yes, Master,” he grumbled, refusing to look at her.
“I am not your master, Jast Kevannis,” she told him sharply. “Do not say it again.”
Feeling very childish and uncooperative, Jast sneered and in an attempted innocent tone, he wondered, “Mother?”
Reibé was not amused. “I am not your Master, not your mother, not your aunt, cousin, grandmother, or caretaker. Bar training and age, you and I are nearly identical.”
“I’m a man,” Jast objected, still being stubborn. Reibé used the Force to slam him into the wall behind him.
“You’re a childish brat,” she snapped. “You thought you could defeat a woman you killed once before. Now that you’ve failed, you throw a fit and evade the contact we’ve worked so hard to build with you.”
Jast glared at the floor, but said nothing.
“Jast, look at me,” Reibé ordered. When he did not comply, she slammed him against the wall again. “Look at me!”
Obediently, his eyes rose to meet hers. Then, tears formed and he collapsed. Reibé allowed him to settle to the ground and went to him, taking his head in her lap.
“I know what it’s like to loose a person you care so much about,” she said softly. “There were once ten Sith Hunters. We were a family. I was their mother, in a way, but we never referred to it as such. We were all brothers and sisters. Now, only six of us remain. Four times, I’ve had to deal with loss.”
“It’s different,” Jast whispered. “I loved her.”
“You still do,” Reibé reminded him. “And while Tanith Vessa took her from you, you cannot let her loss take your logic, your mind. If you do that, none of us will survive and Vessa will achieve what the Sith have desired most for as long as I can remember... galactic domination.”
Jast closed his eyes, seeking to calm his emotions. Slowly, he opened his dark blue eyes. “We can’t let that happen,” he concluded. Reibé shook her head in agreement.
“Let’s rejoin the others,” she encouraged. Together, they stood and left the room.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Over the next week, the Sith Hunters and Jast continued to train. Thanks to several more long discussions with Reibé, he was able to let go of his anger and desire for revenge. Finally, he allowed himself to let go of his rage of loosing Tarika and realized he had been angry with himself more than with Tanith. If only he’d been quicker to attack, perhaps he could have saved her life. Now, he realized he could not have done anything different.
Meanwhile, Tanith was learning better how much power she really had now that she’d come back to life. The Dark Side surrounded her, keeping her safer than any protection might come close to. If she got shot, the Dark Side healed her before she could fall to the ground. If she broke an arm or a leg, the Dark Side corrected the shattered bone in a matter of seconds. With a surprised laugh, she realized there was nothing she couldn’t do.
With that realization, she decided it was time to move against the Jedi... and the Republic.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
When the Sith Hunters learned of Tanith’s increasing movements on the Outer Rim, their training and testing increased in both time and intensity. They had to be ready. After a month of testing themselves against the more powerful Tanith Vessa program, they felt as if they were getting somewhere. Then, reports came in of Vessa walking through a literal firestorm of blaster bolts and coming out the other side unharmed. Disturbed, the Sith Hunters altered their simulation to include this strange behavior and began to realize that killing the Dark Lady would not be an option.
“We must come up with another option,” Aysana said during one of their many discussions. “If we cannot kill her, there must be another way to end her rampage before it’s too late.”
“The Sith are getting altogether too powerful,” Cannus agreed. “With an invulnerable leader...”
“Everyone is vulnerable somehow,” Reibé snapped, agitated. “Even Tanith Vessa. We just don’t know how.”
“I’d give anything to see her in action before we have to face her,” Biral murmured, glancing around the table at her companions. Craig shook his head thoughtfully.
“We may not have that option,” he said. “She’s moving Coreward at an increasingly rapid pace. We can’t observe and train for much longer.”
“Judging her current rate of conquer, she’ll be to Coruscant within three months,” Jast observed, looking over data of Vessa’s recent conquests. “The Jedi are growing increasingly agitated, realizing they can’t do anything about it.”
“Cut off the head, the snake dies,” Reibé muttered. “What’s her weakness?”
“Look...” Jast murmured. He had found a holo-recording of the previously discovered feat of walking unharmed through a hail of blaster fire. He watched in partial horror as Tanith was struck by several bolts. She staggered slightly, but regained her balance and pressed forward. As quickly as her skin was singed, it repaired itself. Blast after blast slammed into her, but none of them left a lasting mark.
“The Dark Side,” Reibé whispered, staring in awe at the playback. “It’s healing her, repairing any damage done.” A slight shiver ran through her. “There’s nothing we can do against that...”
“Isn’t there?” Jokemaster asked mysteriously. Craig gave him an odd look and returned his eyes to the playback. Then, something like understanding flashed across his face.
“If the Dark Side heals her,” he murmured. Then, the flash crossed all of their faces and they whispered in unison.
“... then she must be separated from it.”