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Old 10-20-2011, 04:28 PM   #1
MsFicwriter
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SW: TOR: A Living Instrument

SW: TOR: A LIVING INSTRUMENT
Part Eight of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter

(Author's Note: If I don't grasp you by the throat and squeeze here in this chapter, I'm not doing my job right. That said, onward with our story. Mood Music: "The Man's Too Strong" by Dire Straits http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVdB-UKfxD4)

JEDI TEMPLE, TYTHON, AFTER THE EXPEDITION

"Padawan Yllari. Come take a look at this, if you would." Master Karos beckoned me forward in a low voice. Within the sterile, antiseptic depths of the Jedi Temple laboratory, she had pored over the malevolent artifact we found since 1300 hours. Now she'd made a breakthrough, or so it seemed. "Sit." Her frame, tall and tense, remained almost motionless as she pushed a durasteel chair forward with the Force. Confused, I slid into it. "Have you ever examined a Sith holocron before, or studied any of its properties?"

"No. What I have learned about them comes only from our Jedi archives."

"I thought as much. They're absolutely perilous to dissect, for two reasons. One: They are created and utilized by the Sith, and have been for centuries. Ordinarily, an object that an evil being uses is not evil in and of itself. However, a holocron is different. Slowly lower your head toward the shell of this one, which I have painstakingly removed. What do you notice?" The pyramid-shaped outer covering of the holocron was unlike any other I'd seen before. It was definitely rigid-looking, yet translucent and--flexible?

"The shell is...malleable, even though it might not appear to be that way," I said hesitantly. "Somehow, it looks both rock-hard and gelatinous. Is that what you've discovered, or are my eyes playing tricks on me?"

"You are correct. This is no optical illusion. We Jedi use many materials to protect the instruments we hold dear: transparisteel, durasteel, and others. The exterior of this holocron, on the other hand, is constructed of something else entirely. I've taken microscopic samples of it, down to the molecular level. Do you know what the Sith, in their depravity, have used here?"

When I answered with nothing but an anxious flick of the eyes, she said:

"Flesh. The skin we live in is what they have repurposed to contain their essence. It's fitting. Do you know why, Padawan?"

I forgave her this momentary lapse of nomenclature. She should have addressed me as "Padawan Yllari", since I was not her own apprentice. However, the queasy feeling in my stomach that had suddenly welled up made me forget everything else except Master Karos' question. "If our bodies encase bone, muscle, blood and organs," I answered slowly, "then the Sith have used their own bodies in forming their holocrons--to encase their souls."

"Exactly. Not all holocrons are this way, made of such organic components. This one is. I don't know which denizen of the Sith composed it, but rest assured he or she was powerful. No mere soldier or minion would feel the need to remove a part of themselves to build this artifact. The consciousness inside it is depleted. See this tiny drop of liquefied gray matter?" I did. "It was once red and glowing inside the holocron, and in vapor form as well. Nothing can be gleaned from an extinguished consciousness--except a faint echo."

"What kind of echo?" I asked.

"Listen," Master Karos said gently. "I'm certain that the Force will tell you what it told me, if indeed the vibrations remain." I closed my eyes, fell completely silent, and plunged into an otherworldly darkness: a void without light, sound, air or stability...

"Where is he?" a nearly-inaudible voice asked. Female. Familiar.

Hissssss. Unlike Qyzen Fess' comforting speech, this sound terrified me.

"If you can't tell me where he is, then why am I listening to you?"

A low rumble, deep in the "throat" of the gray matter, made my ears twitch.

"Fine. I need to find him, but you're not much help. You're sure?"

Another sibilance. "I could be exiled for this. You know that, right?"

Silence.

I couldn't believe what I'd just heard. "That's Tamara, right?" A dismal nod from Master Karos. "It can't be! Why would she do this, and whom is she trying to find? A Sith Lord?"

"Former Sith Lord," she snapped. "A redeemed Darth Revan, if you must know, and now vanished. Tamara was always fascinated by his story. I indulged her for too long. Whenever she asked me about him and where he had gone, I answered every one of her questions. The pursuit of knowledge is noble. Still, there came a point where I suspected she was going too far. She was putting Revan, a mere phantom, ahead of her training and the immediate realities of the galaxy. Yet when I pressed her, urging her to stop, she told me she would not. Tamara seems to think that finding him is of the utmost importance, and meanwhile the Republic's on the brink of open war! And a holocron?!"

She whirled on me. "My Padawan used a living instrument to find 'the truth', when it will only lead her down a blind alley. She did not know that the instrument was using her. Now do you see why I need a new student?" Stepping backward for a moment, she shook her head rapidly. "I'm sorry. I let my feelings take hold, and my reason lapse. It will never happen again." Karos let out a slow sigh. "For this transgression, the Council and I will have no choice but to let her go. However, exile's not what I have in mind."

My heart sank. "Imprisonment?"

Master Karos nodded. "In this case, we have no other choice. If we banish her from the Order and let her leave, she will try to find Revan and find nothing but death and the icy vacuum of space instead. That's the most likely case, so we must keep Tamara safe."

"There's a world of difference between safe and saved," I blurted out.

More silence. I shouldn't have said that, but there was no way I could retract it.

"You are dismissed." I felt myself tumbling into that void again, helpless to resist...

Last edited by MsFicwriter; 10-25-2011 at 07:50 PM.
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