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Old 03-03-2009, 08:43 PM   #41
HIGH ON PIE 14
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My sincere apologies for my lateness. I've been swamped these past few weeks with the College search and all.

I have finished reading this fic and I have to say that I found Genda to be one of the most compelling protagonists I have seen.

As Rev said, I think you captured the Mandalorians and their attitudes and mannerisms well. I am sorry that there will be no more of this.

~HOP



Viva La Resistance!
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Old 03-12-2009, 12:04 PM   #42
Darth_Yuthura
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I made a statement that this fiction will end, but have decided that it was just better to go back and make the proper changes rather than just throw it away. I have started revising this story and will continue updating once I've gotten some deficiencies out.

The plot up to this point will remain largely the same, but with some alterations to phasing and minor issues. I'm changing course of the plot where it currently stands, but not what I've already done, so you don't have to reread anything.

I'm sorry about making a bold statement and not backing it. I'll get an update ready at the same time I insert the revised version by the end of the week. I just want to say I appreciate all those who commented on this. If those who just read, I'm just as satisfied.
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:35 PM   #43
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Yay, it won't die in the dark abyssmal hole where fictions go to die....

I look forward to anything that you post/revise!

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Old 03-17-2009, 01:15 PM   #44
Darth_Yuthura
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Chapter 12: Victory at Any Cost

Here's another story line to add to the mix. Yuthura eventually returns to Sleheyron, but other than that, no spoilers to Shrouded in Darkness.

-----------

-----(Sleheyron: 4 years ago)-----

A violet twi’lek prepared a pitcher of a favorite beverage for Doray the Hutt and a guest. She looked around and saw no one watching before reaching to her headband and slipping a small packet hidden by the ribbon around her lekku. After tearing it open and dumping the contents into the pitcher, she heard a servant shouting at her in twi’lek.

Although he spoke the language of her species, she wasn’t fluent in that tongue. At first, she assumed she had been seen, but realized that he had simply been rushing her to get the master his drink. Obediently, she grabbed the pitcher and carried it briskly to her intended victims.

The powder that had been added still had not fully dissolved and floated visibly on the surface of the liquid. She had not expected that the liquid was so thick or that the powder wouldn’t dissolve so poorly. She knew she had to mix it in somehow. She would have used her hand if she had to, but there were too many people around and no way to shake the container without drawing attention.

He didn’t know it, but Doray had actually purchased a trained Jedi masquerading as a slave. She concentrated on the liquid and all she had to do was disturb it just enough to immerse the course particles and disintegrate all the powder, but that delayed her long enough for the Hutt to insult her for being an ‘utterly incompetent servant.’ It struck her like a nerve, but the former slave knew that the worst thing would have been to unleash a burst of lightning at him.

“I’m sorry, Master. It won’t happen again.” she sincerely spoke as she rushed to pour the contents into the large goblets before Doray and the other Hutt. It was expected of servants to test food or drink for poison, so she also took a sip from Doray’s goblet before presenting it to him.

He grabbed it from her, greedily and grabbed her by the collar. “I expect nothing but excellence from those who serve me. You are new, so I will spare the punishment this time, but the next time will result in shock lashes. Do I make myself clear?”

When he let her go, the seemingly frightened woman bowed with her hands together and kindly replied. “Yes, Master. Forgive me.” Although she wanted nothing more than to kill Doray, she restrained her anger, knowing it was going to happen anyway.

She then turned around to leave. Along the way, she encountered an orange Twi’lek who carried the main course, a Hutt delicacy that just so happened to form a deadly poison when it was combined with the powder she added to the drinks. Because either ingredient on its own was harmless, she had no worry about herself or the other servant.

Her escape had been easy and she walked away knowing that only Hutts died that day.

-----(The Present)-----

Yuthura Ban turned around when she heard the explosion of the power installation behind her. That one station was a critical power conduit for almost 5% of Sleheyron’s energy distribution. There was more than enough energy on provide, but no way to channel it to the many factories and mining facilities in that region of the planet.

Although the blackout was only expected to last for a few days, a week at most, she took satisfaction in knowing it spared tens of thousand of slaves at least a few days of oppressive labor. More importantly, it hindered the economic production that funded the slave trade, among other operations on Sleheyron.

Yuthura marveled at the perfect darkness around her for nearly an hour before her comlink activated. “I had you not to contact me if it’s an emergency.” Yuthura’s Twi’lek was still imperfect, but she had improved significantly since before.

The young Twi’lek named Alora Amersu heard Yuthura’s grammar mistake that contradicted the statement she just made, but knew exactly what she meant. “I sabotaged the aft antigravity boosters, but they’re bowing up and using direct lift to continue their ascent.”

Direct lift was the term used when a ship directed the thrust of its primary engines to gain altitude by lifting the bow of its ship and directing its engines downward. Most transport ships used antigravity alone to ascend, keeping themselves level while the primary engines only accelerated the ship forward. It was not customary for massive ships to lift their bow in order to gain altitude without antigravity boosters, but it was extremely dangerous for nonmilitary transports. In order to haul the greatest amount of cargo, containers were often not properly secured for anything beyond the acceleration and deceleration of takeoff and landing. If there had been any volatile cargo onboard, it was at risk of exploding.

The mission Alora had been sent on was intended to cripple a transport ship carrying fuel and force it to land at a surface-based star port, but the problem Alora encountered was twofold. She had set a bomb on the ship which was intended to detonate after the vessel had landed, bringing devastation to the star port. Because the ship was meant to land and not crash, she could not accomplish her mission by sabotaging another system. There was was also the danger of the ship exploding if the fuel tanks weren’t up to code... which they likely weren’t.

Knowing this, Yuthura made her next orders without even considering an alternative course of action. “Just set the detonator and secure an escape pod. I’ll catch up with you after you set down.”

Alora, on the other hand, had already considered another plan and just wanted to run it by her master. “I’ve got an idea that I think would work.”

“Look, you only had a two-minute window to sabotage the antigravity boosters. Even if your plan would work, there’s no telling where the ship would be forced to land. I don’t want that ship to explode at the wrong facility, or with you on it. Is that understood?”

After a moment of silence, she answered. “It won’t.”

When Alora cut the signal, Yuthura had been disturbed by those last words. Whatever her apprentice was up to, she knew she wouldn’t like it. Alora was smart, but she often put herself into danger when maybe she should have avoided it altogether. What Yuthura loved about Alora was that she reminded her so much of the kind of freedom fighter Sleheyron needed in the spirit of every slave. She would rather have surrendered than just let a hostage die. She would have considered the rights of one to be worth as much as that of a society’s. Alora, once a slave like her master, was strong with the Force, but the young Twi’lek had something about her that attracted Yuthura’s attention even before she had a mitochlorian test.

----(two years ago)----

At first, Yuthura thought Alora was just a rebellious little Twi’lek who always got in trouble... she had the shock lashes on her back to prove that. A part of Yuthura liked the spirit within the little girl, who she thought wouldn’t be ordered about, but when another slave named Femi was to receive punishment, Alora stepped forward and admitted to committing the act. Yuthura knew that wasn’t so, as she had witnessed Femi in the act.

Although Yuthura would not have pointed a finger at another slave, she stood up for Alora. Despite Yuthura, the girl kept admitting that she did the act and Femi lied as well. Yuthura was outraged to hear Femi shift her blame onto Alora like that, but someone had to be punished.

When she found both of them together after Alora received 10 shock lashes, Femi had been cleaning the wounds on the other’s back. Yuthura didn’t know who to address first, Femi for shifting blame away, or Alora asking for it. She soon found out what went on.

“This was the third time that Femi would have been disciplined this week. The master would have fed her to his Kell Dragon, but instead...” she gestured to the newest marks on her back. ”...I just got this.”

Femi smiled at Yuthura with tears in her eyes. “She saved my life.”

Yuthura gestured Femi to leave and she took over with cleaning the blood off Alora’s back. The red Twi’lek turned her head around, pulling a lekku from her shoulder and it dangled over her back. Yuthura gently took the sensitive headtail and wrapped it around her neck.

“I wanted to thank you for trying to defend me, but... I just didn’t want her to die.” Alora said.

“She didn’t act like much of a friend, I think. I wouldn’t have shifted blame from myself to another slave like that.”

“She was afraid. Femi didn’t want to die and she did whatever she could to live. I might have done the same in her place.”

Yuthura took the wet cloth and dunked it in the bowl of hot water again and applied a plentiful amount on her back. Shock lashes were made to be very painful because they cut into flesh and satyred the wound to a limited extent. Burned flesh and coagulated blood could seal an open wound, but it was easily disturbed, which was why some of them kept bleeding.

“Still, that was very kind of you.”

Alora turned her head just far enough for Yuthura to catch just one of her eyes. “All we have are each other. We may belong to Master Natja, but we still have at least that much control. It’s important to remember that while he may own our flesh, we ultimately are the ones who decide how we act. If Femi was willing to disobey Master Natja at the risk of torture to herself, then maybe she would think twice about bringing torture to a friend.”

Yuthura detested Alora’s naive attitude about slavery. Her first words got her attention, but the last words about a master only owning her flesh didn’t apply to everyone. Yuthura knew firsthand that there were some Hutts who weren’t interested in buying slaves for her services. Some just wanted slaves for the sole purpose of poisoning their souls and making them know who they belonged to.

Yuthura’s former master, Omeesh was one such Hutt who cherished subjecting his slaves to torture and death. He took great joy in breaking them by driving them to their only means of escape, being either death or insanity. Slaves such as Alora would have stood no chance against a master such as Omeesh, but there was something about her that caught Yuthura’s attention. For a slave as young as her, Alora seemed wiser than her years; but beyond that was an innocence that had been edged with steel.

---

Yuthura had intended to steal information while posing as a slave for Natja the Hutt and then to kill him after she had completed her goals. A part of her wanted to see the Hutt die for his part in a major slave-trading syndicate, but her interest had not been so much for killing a Hutt as it was in the young, red Twi’lek she encountered. Having obtained a sample of her blood, Yuthura tested it and confirmed that Alora was, indeed, Force-sensitive. Not wanting to risk anything, Yuthura discretely escaped Natja’s palace and legally bought Alora from her master shortly after that.

Yuthura intended to continue in her quest to fight slavery on Sleheyron, but wanted to train Alora’s as a Jedi when she found the opportunity. Unfortunately, the demands of fighting slavery on an entire planet were so great that Alora’s training often came second.

--------(Present)---------

When Yuthura got her mind back on the matter at hand, she found herself listening for distress signals from her airspeeder. Alora had been expected to leave her ship via escape vessel and Yuthura to track her location from its distress beacon. The comlink devices they used worked only a moment ago, but had a very limited range. Given that the ship had been attempting to achieve orbit, Yuthura waited for Alora’s signal from the air.

Just then, she saw a massive explosion that she knew was the cargo ship over the horizon. It came as such a surprise because the bomb not only was supposed to explode for another 10 minutes, but that the ship should have been in orbit by then.

When Yuthura realized that the ship exploded at the target star port, the last thing on her mind was that Alora accomplished her part of the mission. She still hadn’t received her escape pod’s distress signal. When she thought she had lost her apprentice, Yuthura grabbed her comlink and activated it. “Yuthura to Alora? Alora? Alora, please respond!”

When she received static, Yuthura seriously believed Alora had to have been killed, but realistically knew that she couldn’t make such a conclusion without so much as a body. ‘What body?!’ she thought.

When she realized that there were plenty of reasons to explain what happened, which didn’t involve death, Yuthura turned towards the plume of flame. Just because there was no signal didn’t mean that the beacon exploded with the ship. Maybe Alora dropped her comlink? Maybe the Hutt escape pods had defective homing beacons? Whatever the reason, she had to know what happened.

For nearly five minutes, Yuthura observed the sight of the dock in flames. There were no working lights from the blackout, but the fires were so intense that she could make out several of the buildings that had been collapsed, the remains of destroyed ships, and warehouses that were also set ablaze. She just looked at the carnage, horrified at the sight of what Alora sacrificed herself for.

Yuthura thought it had to be futile, but she took the comlink device and tried it one more time. “Yuthura to Alora? Alora, please respond.”

She got static, but then heard a return signal, despite being garbled. “...please repeat.”

Yuthura let out a sigh of relief, almost dropping the device when she let every muscle in her body relax. With utter joy, she brought her comlink to her lips. “Alora, where are you?”

“I’m in an escape pod. Aren’t you tracking me?”

“No. I didn’t get a signal...” Yuthura checked the communications system again, this time, there had been many other distress calls, but eventually found Alora’s escape pod. “I am now. I wasn’t when the ship went down.”

“I ejected pretty low. I must have been over the horizon when the ship went down.”

Yuthura checked her screen and set to hone in on Alora’s signal. “It’s alright. Sit tight, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

---------

When she started her war against the Hutts of Sleheyron, Yuthura took over the palace of the late Jemba the Hutt. His death being unknown to the rest of Sleheyron, she kept it secret and used his resources against the other Hutts. Although his credits had long since been depleted, his palace continued to serve as the base of operations for Yuthura and her apprentice.

On their way back, Alora described how she managed to pull off her part of the mission by taking control of the bridge and ramming the target. Yuthura expressed her concern, as the crew were armed and that Alora could have been injured. Her apprentice just kept silent.

Shortly after their arrival, Yuthura logged onto the main computer terminal to evaluate the extent of the damage she and Alora brought to Sleheyron that night. When she saw just how well Alora did, she couldn’t help but chuckle. That was their first mission together and she was amazed how much more two Jedi working together could do. “I take it back. It turns out that ship severed two major transportation lines that were buried deep underground. I wasn’t expecting those to be destroyed, but you actually did better than I originally expected. Good work.” Yuthura turned around to realize Alora wasn’t there.

Yuthura and her apprentice had a peculiar relationship that didn’t seem to follow any known pattern she’d ever seen with any pair such as them. While Yuthura had trained her to use the Force, Alora was anything but disciplined. Yuthura didn’t think nor treat her like a child, but the young teen certainly acted like one when it came to... trivial things.

Although she had been given a private room, Alora slept most of the time on ledges, from hanging lamp emplacements, and suspended power conduits running along the ceiling. In her waking hours, Alora behaved like a tree-dwelling creature, jumping with the Force, seemingly spending more time in the air than on the floor. Yuthura tolerated it only because it was the closest thing to training that the little girl would do without having to be asked.

Yuthura had wondered if did the girl a favor or not by training her to use the Force. She was far from any padawan, or any Twi’lek girl she’s ever known. Of course, the Order wouldn’t have accepted such a girl as Alora unless she started taking life more seriously. Yuthura saw potential within her, but just didn’t see any need to knuckle down on the girl as she seemed to be content only knowing the basic Force techniques.

When she noticed that Alora wasn’t in any of her usual hiding places, Yuthura knew of one that the little one went to when to when she was troubled. It was at the pinnacle of the palace, which was not accessible to anyone from the inside. There were no stairs, lifts, or ladders that could be climbed to that point; but it was easy for a Jedi to reach.

When she got to the roof, Alora had been laying upon a decorative horizontal outcrop stretching over a chasm where the palace bordered the planet’s natural landscape. Yuthura approached and sat on the roof just behind the outcrop. In the distance was the system’s sun barely piercing through a column of volcanic ash and smoke that had been ejected from a nearby volcano.

It was a serial landscape the two gazed upon. The sky was gray other than the yellow beams of light that penetrated the otherwise perfectly black sky. The light from the sun seemed intense, but the air around was just as hot under a canopy of ash as in the glare of clearest day. The plume of smoke ahead was poisonous and anyone with an ounce of sense would have taken shelter. The only thing that kept Alora and Yuthura from doing that was the environmental shield that bordered between the volcano and the palace. Behind those shields were the only habitable areas on the planet. Everything else on the planet yielded valuable resources, but almost everything about the planet was hostile to life, on both sides of the shield.

Yuthura knew that Alora was aware of her presence, but she didn’t make any kind of acknowledgment. “What’s on your mind?”

Alora kept her head fixed forward and made no other movement. “I killed a lot of people today, haven’t I?”

Yuthura had often addressed that issue with her, but when Alora found herself on the opposite side of the fence she’s used to being on... she extended her arm to touch one of her exposed legs. “You did what I asked of you. You have no death on your conscience.”

“Yes, I do. You said I could just leave, but I didn’t. I went to the bridge and I killed the crew. Then I redirected the ship’s course, knowing it was going to blow up.” Alora sighed and moved her opposite arm to use as a cushion for her head. “Did you do any of that?”

Yuthura didn’t have anything she could think of that could justify what she asked of Alora. Instead of trying to take blame away, she felt that Alora had to realize what fighting slavery required. “What we did was to cripple a major port of trade on this entire planet. What we did was to cut off a significant source of funding by which the Hutts could use to buy more slaves. We didn’t free anyone today, but we prevented thousands like us from being restrained by chains. That is worth something, I think.”

Alora just kept staring at the volcano. On almost any other planet, such natural events might have been worth watching, but eruptions were almost as common on Sleheyron as thunderstorms on Dantooine. She just stared into the fires as though mesmerized.

Yuthura felt that she couldn’t afford to have an apprentice with something weighing on her conscience. She also determined that she couldn’t just teach a padawan without really expecting anything from her. Her passive approach didn’t help her or the one she trained. “Alora, there is much more to the Force than I’ve taught you. I think it’s time that you build a lightsaber.”

Alora perked her head up and around, clearly interested in what Yuthura had proposed. “Are you serious? You mean it this time?”

Yuthura crouched near the edge of the roof and held out her saber for display. Alora seemed drawn to it enough to move from the outcrop to the roof. “Throughout their history, the Jedi have called this a tool. Make no mistake; this is a weapon, that’s all that it ever can be. I would not entrust such a thing to you unless I know I can count on you.”

Alora took the saber she had been offered and activated the violet blade. After staring at the blade of light for a long moment, she looked to Yuthura and saw an expression that the young Twi’lek had not seen before. It was almost as if she had always been regarded as a child, but suddenly looked at as an equal.

“You know the basics about the Force, but you can be much more. If you want to go all the way and become a full Jedi, much would be expected of you. I would be hard on you, but understand that I would only do it if you don’t have the discipline that is required. If you don’t want me to be on you, then you have two option...” She looked down to the lightsaber. “You can push yourself so I wouldn’t have to, or...” She slowly took the lightsaber back and withdrew the blade. “...you don’t have to be a Jedi. You don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want to. I think you’re old enough to make this choice for yourself.”

Alora kept looking at the saber, her mind more fixed on the proposal than the weapon. “I want to make something clear: I would help you if your fight is against slavery. I will not help you commit mass slaughter like you made me do last night.”

Yuthura placed her hands upon her shoulders. “I will not make you do anything like that again, but I can’t promise you that I won’t do it, myself. It’s the only way we can expect to drive the Hutts off this planet. I will do it with or without you, but it would be more difficult to do it alone.”

Alora dropped her head and sighed as though she knew what had to be done, but feared what she had to become in order to free as many innocents as possible. It was not possible for her or Yuthura to defeat an evil as terrible as the Hutts without becoming as vile and relentless as them. She knew that Yuthura had the gaul that was required to fight, but she secretly hated her for it. Her hatred of slavery was the only thing that drove her, but Alora felt that hatred was key to breaking the chains that bound millions of innocent lives to the whims of their owners.

Alora looked into Yuthura’s eyes. “It is better to die than to live forever as a slave. Anyone who takes a life forfeits their own. It’s evil... and I want to help you stop it.”

Yuthura had mixed feelings about what she heard. She remembered Alora before she found the Force and knew that she would never be a Jedi. She had not been set on the path of a Sith, but Yuthura knew that Alora would have become like her... and that was not something she wanted. She liked Alora as she was, but knew that the only way to get her help was to poison what would have made her a great Jedi. For the purpose of fighting slavery on a planetary scale, Alora couldn’t hesitate to bring harm to the innocent.

On the other end of the scale, Yuthura remembered a time when she had been willing to do whatever was necessary to accomplish her goals. She remembered her time as a Sith Master, justifying everything that she did for the purpose of fighting slavery. For that, she needed to acquire power. To acquire power, she couldn’t be held back by any moral obligations. Destroying those morals required forgetting what she valued. Once that happened, any and all power she took was for herself... not her cause. Through that came an endless cycle that would have doomed her had it not been disrupted.

In that moment, she thought of Revan. All that he needed to do was ask ‘has anything changed?’ Even then, it was only when he showed her the very mercy that she wanted Alora to lose that Yuthura lived. The thought disturbed her, but she felt that her moral ambiguity and Alora’s was a small price to pay if they could save millions from a life of servitude.

Yuthura reached into her pocket and took out a red lightsaber crystal. It was the same crystal she used in her lightsaber while she was a Sith. Although she was not superstitious, it made her uncomfortable offering something like a Sith’s crystal to one who she wanted to save. She knew that by offering her that crystal, she ensured Alora would become like her; but from her sacrifice would come the freedom of potentially millions.

Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 03-17-2009 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:14 PM   #45
Darth_Yuthura
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Chapter 8: (Revised Version)

I know everyone's wanting to know what happens next, but I have made a significant plot change that starts at chapter 8. Everything from that point is going down a different plot line. First part of this chapter is the same, but after that is completely original.

----------

Early the next morning on the Ebon Hawk, Tashi awoke with an unpleasant feeling in her stomach. Since losing the twins, she had an uncomfortable, but bearable ache that had been growing worse. When she heard activity outside their quarters, she approached Alayna with the hope she could treat it. Genda continued to sleep.

Tashi was very uncomfortable laying on the medical bed with the mother of her lover poking and prodding. She would have had no issues with a stranger, but Alayna... she wasn’t a stranger, yet she certainly didn’t know the woman examining her. Tashi didn’t know it, but Alayna had the same reservations with her son’s loved one.
After an evaluation of a blood chemistry test, Alayna had a confounded expression, turned to Tashi, and reluctantly asked a medical question. “Tashi... have you recently been pregnant?”

She looked her in the eye. “Yes. And I was induced into labor two days ago.”

Alayna crossed her arms, but looked away as she hesitated again. “Was Minoru the father?”

“Minoru?” Tashi asked.

“I’m sorry. I meant... that was the name I knew him by. Was he the father?”

Tashi gave a very stern expression,. “Yes. I carried twins.”

She nodded. “I wish you had told me yesterday. We could have rescued them while we were there. Now we can’t turn around and go back for them.”

“I was induced three months early. I was told that they are being kept alive in an artificial womb. Even if we knew where to find them, they would have died if they were taken.”

Knowing she made the wrong implication to Tashi, Alayna tried to rectify her error. “I was just asking. You could have skipped a battery of tests if you told me that in the first place. I wasn’t...” She sighed. “I guess that I did imply something, but it’s only because I don’t really know either of you.”

“Well if it makes you feel better, I wasn’t allowed to be with anyone else for all the time I was with him, so there was no chance they could have belonged to anyone other than him.”

“Well after you gave birth, the surgeon very crudely patched you up. I only hope they weren’t as hard on... my grandchildren.” She crossed her arms with the datapad still in her hand and an interesting smile at the thought. “I’m a grandmother.” she whispered.

Tashi smiled. “How old are you... if I may ask?”

Alayna put her eyes back on the datapad in her hand, but kept smiling. “Forty-one.”

“I had hoped not to tell you, given that there was nothing that could’ve been done. I was hoping that in a few months, about the time they were mature enough... you could possibly go back for them?”

“I’ll see what I can do, but until then...”

“Thank-you. As for now, how long would it be before Genda and I could...”

Alayna sighed again, not fond of the thought of the two being intimate. “Are you talking about when you could expect to be pregnant again, or just for the sake of it?”

She shrugged her shoulders.

“When I’m through with you, you would be medically fit, but not Genda with that wrist. It would be a few weeks before you can expect to become pregnant again.”

Alayna went back to check the medical instruments and referencing the computer console. Although she had been trained in medicine, Alayna consistently needed to brush up on the procedures she didn't often perform. Tashi noticed that look which Alayna showed whenever the subject of she and Genda came up. “Look, I know you asked me not to say anything again, but I really get the impression that you have a problem with me. I almost imagine you telling me of the wickedness of my ways. I admit that I had some influence on him, but it was always Genda who seduced me... not the other way around.”

“Please! I’m not...” Alayna calmed herself and explained the source of her concern. “Jedi can’t have families. They aren’t supposed to fall in love. Emotional attachments make it difficult for one to harness the power of the Force. Tashi, there’s going to come a time when Genda’s going to have to choose between either you or becoming a Jedi. Frankly, the Order is going to need people like him if we are to endure. I wanted to teach him the ways of the Force, but if he maintains a strong emotional bond with you... that just can’t happen.”

“You want me gone?”

“No. It’s that...” She sighed. “He cares for you... very dearly. The last time I felt his presence in the Force was shortly before we arrived, I heard his thoughts... that was rare for one who has received no training.”

“I thought you have been seeking him over the last few days.” Tashi inquired.

“The first time he tapped into the Force was under a moment of extreme stress. It was raw, untamed, instinctual... all I knew was that it was a cry of distress. As we got closer, I could sense him, but could not pinpoint his exact location. There were a few moments when he brushed the surface, but not enough for me to triangulate that he was on Sleheyron. Then there came a point when he harnessed the Force with such mastery... it was when you were in danger and he knew that he had to save you.” She looked down, almost in shame. “Even after getting shot in the arm, he did not allow his concentration to be broken, knowing that you would have been lost if he did.” She smiled an rubbed Tashi on the shoulder. “All that mattered to him was you.”

As Alayna went back to prepare an injection, Tashi had been grinning, but still had been confused about something. “Wait, you said that emotions got in the way of tapping into... the Force. If Genda did so because of me... wasn’t that driven by emotion?”

Alayna injected Tashi with the hypo spray. “There are two ways in which a Jedi can harness the Force. One way is through strict discipline, selflessness, denial, and through bringing stability to the Galaxy; that’s what the Jedi emphasize. The other method is one in which is easier, but ultimately more dangerous for both the Jedi and those around her.” She kneeled to be at eye-level with Tashi. “What Genda did for you was very admirable and brave, but it was driven because he didn’t want to lose the one he loved. Had that happened... losing you would have been devastating to him.”

“He wanted his freedom more than anything, but when he had it, he came back for me. More often, it was me worrying for him... every time he went in to the arena, I was afraid he wouldn’t come back. The first time I was in real danger, it was him worrying for me more than himself.” Tashi grinned as she spoke of her joy.

“Well if he became a Jedi, it would mean having to deal with that indefinitely... worrying for him.” They stared at each other for a long moment. “Would you be able to do that for the rest of your life?”

Tashi couldn’t answer that. She didn’t want to hold back Genda from becoming a Jedi, but she wanted to be with him. She wanted to be with him because she still felt her life belonged to him. First for giving her the rights to her body, then for her freedom, not to mention her life.

As Alayna got an instrument ready which could repair the damage to her uterus, Tashi had been uneasy about the idea. “Actually, can this wait until we get there?”

“I suppose it could, but it’s better that this is done sooner than later. There are open wounds that should have been dealt with after you gave birth and I would not suggest waiting. If you want, I could give you a sedative.”

Tashi nodded. As Alayna got it ready, her patient described what it was like where she was laying. “It’s strange. I’ve been completely exposed in front of people I didn’t even know. I’ve been used for whoring many times, but for some reason... I’ve never felt so uncomfortable as I do now.”

Alayna smiled. “Believe me, the feeling is mutual. I don’t like the idea of examining my son’s wife’s... are you two... married?”

Tashi shook her head. “We never had a formal ceremony. I’m still officially his slave, but he hasn’t treated me as such for a long time.”

“Well I assure you that I’m just as uncomfortable with going into places of my daughter that only a lover should be.”

Tashi and Alayna shared another tender moment as the former slave had been touched by what she had been called. “You consider me... a daughter? I thought that you didn’t want me and Genda to...”

She smiled. “Genda doesn’t have to be a Jedi. In fact, I think he would prefer more to be with you than anything else. I already know what his answer would be.” She lifted the hypo spray out of the socket in the console and got ready to inject Tashi. “He’ll want to be with you.”

Before she injected the sedative, Tashi took hold of her wrist. “Actually, you don’t have to do that. I know you’re going to work on me anyway, so it really doesn’t matter whether I’m awake or not.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well I’m sure you would prefer I remove my own clothing.” She leaned up out of the bed and removed the lower piece of her undergarment from under her patient gown and then laid back on the bed to allow Alayna to operate.

“If you don’t mind, there should still be some of the babies’ cells left behind. May I search for some of those cells while I’m at it?”

Tashi just shrugged her shoulders. “I guess you would like to know for sure that Genda is the father. Of course.”

Alayna overlooked Tashi. “I believed what you told me. That wasn’t the reason, though. I wanted to see if they, too are Force sensitive.”

“Force sensitive?”

“It’s the term we use for life forms who are able to manipulate the Force and become Jedi. Only about half a percent of a population are Force-sensitive, but it runs strong in bloodlines. That is why Genda can become a Jedi and why I believe your children could as well.”

Tashi turned her head in wonder at whether that’s what Faso meant by her creating ‘inbred’ warrior slaves. “And if they are, will they only be half as strong powerful as their father? I assume that I’m one of the 99% who don’t have it.”

“Force-sensitivity isn’t like a physical trait that an offspring shares with both parents. They usually have the same abilities of the dominant Jedi parent, but sometimes take on unexpected advantages from the other. Genda and I... we’re different from most others. Don’t ask me why, I just know we are unique among other Jedi. I would just like to see if the same goes true for your children. By the way, what did you have? Sons? Daughters?”

Tashi looked away with a dreadful feeling. “Sons, I think. They didn’t actually tell me.”

Alayna readied the instrument and Tashi turned her head away. “I can determine that when I do the DNA test. Alright, this won’t hurt, but it will be... uncomfortable.”

---------

When Alayna removed the instrument, she breathed a sigh of relief. She knew that what Tashi and Genda did should have been their own business, but because some heartless surgeon got involved, she had to in order to repair any long-term injury. “Alright. How do you feel now?”

Tashi slowly sat up. “Much better. Thank-you.”

“I’ll let you get dressed and then I would like to run the tests when you’re out.”

When Alayna opened the door, Tashi said “If you’re anxious to test the cells, you can do so now. I don’t mind.”

“I can wait a few more minutes.”

“What I meant to say was that I would like to know now... if you don’t mind.”

Alayna nodded and came back in to take the tissue samples she got from the vacant womb and placed them in a vial to run through a medical device in the wall next to the bed. While that was going on, Tashi had begun changing behind Alayna. She hadn’t expected that Tashi would change in her presence, but she didn’t say anything and kept her eyes forward. It seemed likely to her that the former slave was not accustomed to the right of privacy. She didn’t glance back until she knew Tashi had been fully clothed.

When the test finally returned a result, Alayna and Tashi hit their heads as they both tried to view the same screen. Tashi stepped back and bowed her head humbly. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been so clumsy.”

Alayna rubbed her left temple and then put her hand under Tashi’s chin to gesture her to stand up straight. “You’re not a slave anymore. Don’t worry about such a trivial thing.”

Tashi stood up and nodded. “I’m sorry... I just... Genda wasn’t harsh about that kind of thing, but I had to keep in the habit.”

Alayna smiled and rubbed Tashi’s shoulder. “You’re going to have to break that habit. There’s no slavery in the Republic. You won’t be punished for a minor act... or a more serious one for that matter. I realized that this may be difficult, but I want you to accept that you are your own person. Do you understand?”

“That’s what Genda’s often said. I was his property, yet he treated me like a person. He was really the first to make me feel like I mattered.”

Alayna turned around and looked at the screen for a second before looking back to Tashi. “Two sons... not identical.”

Tashi had a grim expression at the results. “Thank-you. What about... Force-sensitive?” Alayna checked the screen again, more time than before. Tashi realized that Alayna had come to a conclusion, but seemed too stunned to respond. Tashi got beside her. “Alayna?”

She lifted her head. “One’s Force affinity is much higher than Minoru... Genda’s. The other’s... is that much lower.” When she looked at Tashi, Alayna explained what was so odd. “Twins often have similar mitochlorian levels, or the difference would be very minute. This is very peculiar.”

“What does that mean?” asked Tashi.

“I don’t know.” Alayna stepped back and bowed to Tashi. “Please excuse me, I need to check the database. Is there anything else you require?”

Tashi’s eyes lit up. “A database? May I be allowed to...?”

Alayna gestured her to follow. “Of course. I’ll show you how to access it while I get my readings.”

--------

As a skilled slave, Tashi naturally had an interest in learning and understanding the world around her. When she had been introduced to the Ebon Hawk’s massive database, it had become an entire galaxy that she knew nothing about. Access to data terminals on Sleheyron was restricted, but she cherished every moment she had to access literature, information, and knowledge.

When Genda found her on the terminal that allowed her to access almost all the knowledge in the computer core with no restrictions, he understood how much it meant for her. Although she would have left the console upon his request, Genda tried to interact with her while she poured over the seemingly endless stream of words, images, and holovids. After a while, he realized that her attention was on the words on the screen and that he had been second on her mind.

In the long months they spent together, he had never really been in that position before. Then he realized the position she had been in since she had become his slave; confined to one set of quarters over the course of a year and a half with minimal connection to the outside world. Although she may have loved him, she needed to have access to books and knowledge to expand her mind. After being starved of such things for so long, having such a wealth of it open to her must have been one of the greatest feelings in the galaxy for her. He decided that it was best to just let her go about the experience on her own.

He also felt that he needed to talk with Alayna again, so he went to her quarters. He found her and discussing something with Visas that he couldn’t understand. Unknown to him, the subject they spoke of could have been significant to the future of the Galaxy. When he stood in the doorway, Alayna’s attention went from her discussion with Visas to her son. “I’m sorry, if I’m interrupting...”

“No, not at all.” She put her datapad aside and stood up, turning her gaze to Visas. “I think we can take a break. I’ll get back to you.”

Visas stood up. “I’ll take my leave now.”

“No, you don’t have to...”

Ignoring Alayna, the Miraluka simply turned to the doorway and tramped out of the compartment. Genda had to step aside, knowing enough to not be in the way of one as powerful as a Jedi. It was very clear that she had been irritated, but Alayna had been surprised at what she just did. Visas was not the kind to use passive aggressive behavior and it left Alayna more concerned than Genda.

He turned around to her after Visas was out of earshot. “I’m sorry. Did I do something wrong?”

“No, not at all. Visas just isn’t the most sociable person you will find. Don’t worry about it. Please come in.”

Genda slowly moved into her quarters. “I wanted to ask you some questions... you never really told me much about your past. I was hoping to know more about you... if that’s alright with you.”

Alayna put her hand on his shoulder and gestured him to one of the beds. When they were sitting, she gazed upon the brace on his left wrist. “How’s your arm?”

“It still hurts, but by no means as much as it did before.”

“The drug I injected you with is the most potent one I could give with the least side effects. If you need something stronger, I could give it to you.” She suggested.

“It’s alright. I’ve managed worse.” He lifted the seemingly lifeless limb, wrist hanging with no support at all from the severed tendons. “I’ve never gotten an injury like this before. I once suffered a shattered femur, but had been put into a kolto tank without the need for a major surgery. So how long will I have to have this on?”

Alayna scrutinized the wrist and came to realize that the injury might have been too severe to heal. “I told you that your wrist could be saved. I’m not a surgeon, so I might be wrong. Just be prepared that you may lose that hand.” He glanced at it, but his attention was drawn back to his mother. “If that’s so, I will see to it that you get a cybernetic replacement. It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing. I do seriously hope that they can restore your natural hand.”

“Thanks. However, could we get back to the original subject, please?”

“Excuse me?” she replied.

He sighed in frustration. “Whenever I ask you about your past, you change the subject. I admit that I hadn’t noticed when you talked about the Force the first time. The second time, you got me to talk about Tashi and what happened since I became a gladiator. You’ve never told me about what lead you to have me, or my father, or why you want to be my mother now.”

Alayna let out a long exhaled breath and rested her head upon her wrists, which were settled upon her knees. Genda accepted that it must have been a difficult thing for her and kept his silence for as long as it took for her to give a response. “When I was exiled from the Jedi Order, I was in utter ruin. I had lost my tie to the Force, I lost so many of whom I cared for, and I was branded a war criminal. After being thrown out, I sunk to the lowest depths of what a human could reach. For roughly a decade, I forgot everything that once mattered to me. The truth is that your origins... it’s not something I wish to discuss. I will say this much: if you want someone to blame for what lead you to Sleheyron, that person was me. Your father, Spratt Gabriel was his name, had found me broken and tried to save me.” She sighed and stood up, collecting her thoughts.

“What happened to my father?” Genda asked, implication obvious in his tone.

Not turning around, Alayna spoke to the bulkhead in front of her. “I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you’re wondering. I abandoned him shortly before you were born.” Alayna inhaled sharply and directed her words closer to her son, but not facing him in the eye. “The reason why I did was because I was afraid that I would recover from a loss I suffered. A chance to cope with the way things were for me... I was filled with so much anger and hate for a wrong that had been done to me... I didn’t want to resume life and accept my loss. It was self-destructive, but when I began to realize that I might have been able to accept my situation and live a normal life... I left because I didn’t want that.”

Genda stood up and put his hand on her shoulder, pulling her around to see tears in her eyes. “Alayna... Mother... if you had to leave, why did you not leave me with my natural father? What was wrong with him that you felt the need to give me to a foster father instead?”

Alayna looked away with guilt. “I just took the path of least resistance. It was easier to just leave you with Jason than to go back to Spratt. Whatever was best for you... it just didn’t matter to me at the time.” As she sobbed, Alayna forced out the words “I’m sorry” only as loud as a whisper before hiding the tears from her son.

Genda had trouble accepting the truth he had been given, but the sobbing she couldn’t hold back seemed to genuinely show just how painful it was for her to admit her guilt. A part of him was shocked at just how easily his life could have gone down another path. If she had given the most minute concern for him, she could have at the very minimum informed his natural father where he was. As much as he wanted to be angry at his mother, the sobbing he saw seemed to come from a pain greater than anything he could inflict with weapons or words. He also realized that the woman in front of her wouldn’t have felt so much pain unless she cared so greatly. He wrapped his undamaged right arm around her and she held that arm like she would have a child.

“If you hate me, you have every reason to harbor such feelings. I just hope you believe me when I say that you don’t hate me anymore than I hate myself. I was... so grateful to find you alive... yet everything that you suffered through back there... I just want to make reparations for what I’ve done.”

Genda hated what he lived through over the course of the last five years as a gladiator, six and a half as a slave. Hearing Alayna admitting that she was responsible for the path that lead him to Sleheyron gave him something he wanted for many years... someone to blame, someone to be angry at, someone to hate. Had he known that on Sleheyron, Genda would have damned his mother with all his heart and soul. As much as he wanted to condemn Alayna for what she had done, hearing his mother take responsibility for sins that weren’t hers left him feeling more sorry for her than anything else.

He embraced his mother with the arm over her shoulder and whispered into her ear “You weren’t responsible for that. Please don’t think that I blame you for everything that’s happened in the last five years.”

She sniffled when she heard him say that, but only because it was the first step in the healing process for him. Despite what he said, it did not alleviate her guilt. “I’m so sorry for happened to you. I can’t change what I did, but I can make a difference now; both for you and for Tashi.”

“Thank-you.” he whispered.

“I acknowledge that you are an adult; capable of leading your own life without me. I’m not asking to be your mother again, I don’t ask that you forgive me, I only ask that you let me help you and Tashi to get your lives back in order. I just need to know that you’ll be alright.”

Genda extended his wounded left arm around her back, despite the pain to embrace her. She didn’t smile, as she felt more relief than joy in that moment. “I am now. Just so long as Tashi and I are free, that’s all that matters. Thank-you for helping us escape that place.”

A moment after that, T3 entered came to the doorway and reported that they were approaching Coruscant.

------------

Shortly upon his discharge from surgery, Genda returned to his hospital room with an anxious Tashi awaiting him. Upon his arrival, they held onto each other with all their strength. They saw that there were a few hours before Alayna said they were expected to return. The two of them sat on the hospital bed and Tashi curled beside Genda. “I never really did thank you for saving my life. Oh, and I have a surprise for you.” She held back her hair and turned to show Genda the back of her neck, free of the numerous branding tattoos that once she wore.

He grinned with much joy at what he saw. “I have never seen such a beautiful neck in my life. How does it feel?”

She rubbed the skin, still sore after the procedure that removed both the ID chip and tattoos that identified her as an experienced slave. As glad she was to have them removed, Tashi couldn’t help but feel that all she had worked for before that had been lost. Even after being sold to another master, a new tattoo on the back of the neck had been a thing to take pride in. Even at 33, she had more tattoo ‘badges’ than most slaves had in a lifetime.

“It feels... like... I guess I’m glad you’re pleased at least.” she answered.

Genda was puzzled. “You’re not?”

“What am I supposed to feel?” she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess nothing. You’re your own master now.” He pulled her closer and whispered into her ear. “Which means that if I say ‘I command you to take off your clothes and sleep with me now,’ what would you do?”

Tashi folded her arms and looked away with barely any enthusiasm when she answered. “I would do it, only it would be by choice; not because I’m obligated to do it.”

Genda gently placed his hand under her chin and redirected her head towards him. “Aren’t you excited that you no longer have to do anything against your will? I’m not your master anymore, you never again have to worry about being punished for no reason at all, being called property, having your feelings matter to more than just me.” He placed his hand on her stomach. “Seeing your children grow up, meeting your grandchildren.”

She sighed. “Grandchildren? I never thought of that, but my oldest daughter may already be a mother, herself.”

He thought for a moment. “Nenya? She’s only fourteen, isn’t she?”

Tashi nodded. “I had hoped she would’ve qualified to be educated for skilled duties. That way, I would have been able to raise her for a little longer, but five was when they decided she was qualified to be a basic servant. She likely would have started being used as an incubator by now.”

Genda placed his hand over hers. “Is there any way to track her or the others?”

She shook her head. “No. You risked too much for me, let alone for children that are not even yours. Don’t get any ideas.”

Genda’s hand went towards the collar of her robe and he slowly pulled it away to reveal some of her cleavage. “Too late.” She stared at him with a stern expression and his hand stopped where it was. Without any words, he reset her robe the way it was.

Then a laugh burst out of her as she took joy in defying him. “Alright, I admit that this does have its advantages. I could torment you now because you can’t touch me if I don’t give you permission, can you?”

“Nope. Your body is yours and yours alone.”

She rolled on her side and curled up next to Genda. “Thanks to you, I belong to myself...” She appeared to start unraveling his robe, but then reset it and patted his chest before she rolled off the bed, chuckling. “...and not you, buster!”

Genda seemed disappointed, but then smiled proudly. “I saved your life.”

Her smile vanished, but then she went over to lock the door and turned around. “Alright, I can’t beat that. I actually have something for you. It’s not as great as what you gave to me, but I think you’ll like it.” She pulled off the wrapping that she wore over her surprise and then Tashi posed for him.

Genda couldn’t help but laugh out loud radiantly. “You got another one?”

Tashi had on a new outfit to replace the one that she had on Sleheyron. She spun herself around to show both front and back. “Is it alright?”

He stared at her for a moment before sighing and closing his eyes. “I was expecting that you’d never have to wear one of those again.”

She strolled around the bed and put her hand under his chin to direct his attention back to her. “I’ll have you know that I got this for you. I think that after saving my life, this would show you how much I appreciate it.”

Genda couldn’t help but smile, but shifted his eyes back to hers. “Your gratitude would have been enough.”

She pushed him back on the bed and crawled on top of him. “I think that as you saved my life, you deserved something a little better than ‘thank-you.’”

Genda gestured to her outfit. “This?”

Tashi stepped back and looked at herself, realizing that what she had on really wasn’t all that much, but then thought of something a little more. She came up and whispered into his ear. “You’re right. Tell you what: I will follow one order without question whenever you ask it of me. Any time, any reason, any place, and I’ll obey it.”

He rubbed her back and whispered as he kissed her. “Be your own master. That’s my order.”

She released an exasperated sigh and then started removing his robe. “I meant something real. For instance: I’ll wear this outfit whenever you ask it of me. This is the only thing I would ever do against my will for you. Anything else you ask of me would require my consent. Does that sound fair enough, or would you prefer that I just say ‘thank-you’?”

Genda scoffed and reached for her collar to bring Tashi’s head down to his. “Your gratitude would have been enough, but if you insist... you do give the greatest gifts.”

Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 03-27-2009 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:19 PM   #46
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Chapter 9: Rehashing Old Mistakes (Revised)

This is to replace where the old chapter has Alayna setting something up for the New Order, she simply confronts her past in order to figure out where she made her mistakes and what is to be the future of the Jedi Order.

--------

Alayna and Visas walked to the entrance of the Jedi Temple, once the pinnacle of the Jedi, but has since laid in ruin like the rest of the Order. The last time Alayna had seen it was almost twenty years ago... although the shell remained, the beating heart has long since been lost.

After joining Revan to protect those she loved only to have them turn their backs on her when she needed them most... it hurt her worse than being severed from the Force. The love and concern she held for the Order, which was more dear than her own life, had since been poison in her veins.

She remembered the last time she laid her eyes on the massive structure; she remembered that she desired to see the Order die for what they did. If she had known then that her wish would have come true, her parting might have been easier. As she looked upon the Temple twenty years later, it hurt more than ever before. Her mind wasn’t so much on the injustice committed against her as it was on the loss and the waste of it all.

People often said that revenge didn’t ease pain, but Alayna didn’t believe it was that simple. Her exile wasn’t the fault of the Order, but of a much smaller group who were also responsible for Revan’s rise to power. Although Masters Vrook, Atris, and even Kavar made the implication that she brought everything upon herself, Alayna knew that it was the High Council who had the power and they were the ones who turned their backs on her.

However, the Order’s demise wasn’t the revenge Alayna wanted. She desired more for the Jedi to have accepted her back as a sister-in-arms, even when the Force had returned to her. More than that, she would have wanted the Council to have done the right thing before Revan stood against them under a banner the rest of the Order would have followed. They should have known that what they did was supposed to represent that of the Order. When they disregarded the opinions of the other Jedi, they stopped following them... and they were right to do so.

It was for that reason Alayna wasn’t with the others at the birth of her new Order.

----
(six years earlier)
----

“Alayna, I don’t understand. Why do you think you have to leave?” Mical asked.

Alayna looked out a nearby window, which revealed a starry sky and two moons as their orbits nearly aligned in front of one another. From their perspective, the larger moon was about to be eclipsed by the smaller one. It was at about that time when the shadow of the closer moon was cast upon the more distant globe... revealing that the closer of the two crescent-shaped objects was much smaller than the one behind. She gestured to the sky. “Mical.”

He and she planned that night so they could watch a fairly rare event on Dantooine. It was not a perfect eclipse where there would have been two full moons, one in front of the other, because Dantooine would have eclipsed them both... that event spurred less awe than what the two of them were watching. What they saw was one moon partially eclipsing another. From the eyes of the viewer, the smaller moon looked larger, but its shadow upon the more distant moon showed its true size.

Mical looked closely to see that there indeed was a shadow upon the more distant moon. “Fascinating. To think that this is really happening... that those are moons we see. And yet, they seem so small.”

She chuckled. “If you’re not convinced, we could take the Ebon Hawk and see just how small they really are. Or maybe we could watch the shadow from the orbit of one? It would be just as real there as it is from Dantooine.”

Mical turned his attention away from the sky and back to Alayna. “I suppose that this must not be anything special to you, but I find this a breathtaking event. To me, it shows much more than either one alone. From here, you can clearly see that although they look to be right next to each other, I can see the larger moon... closer and the smaller just being further away.”

“But you already know that.”

“Yes, I know... but it’s different to actually see it. I know that hydrogen and oxygen atoms together form water, but I can never look to such a small scale and KNOW or see their electrons being shared. I just have to trust that that’s how it works. Many things just don’t seem... real or understood if we can’t see it with our eyes. Without that shadow, I see just two objects in a night’s sky, but now I see everything... the star, where we are, where the moons are.”

Alayna tried to imagine what he said and realized that when you had one object against a blank background or a ship orbiting a planet, they may not seem to be so large or moving so fast, but once you have another, a point of reference, you have so much more. “Yes, I can almost see Dantooine as if I were looking up at the sun being eclipsed by the small moon. I understand what you mean.”

He smiled brilliantly. “What’s your favorite kind of natural event? In all your travels, what have you seen that you found most amazing? A supernova, gas giant, asteroid belt, comet?”

She crossed her arms and really thought of the question. She had seen many celestial bodies and events, but one stood out in her mind. Although looking much like a solar eclipse, what she said meant much more to her. “You may find it strange, but what really fascinates me is a planetary nebula.”

“Sounds interesting. Why do you think it strange?”

She scoffed. “Because you don’t know what I’m talking about. If you saw one, it would appear to be a blue ring around a void. The only odd pattern you would notice is an aura that doesn’t resemble that of a star’s corona.”

He made an interested sound. “What causes them?”

She smiled. “Sometimes, when a star becomes a super giant, it doesn’t go supernova, but will shed much of its atmosphere. When that happens, it ejects a fraction of its total mass and that creates a shell of gas that surround a now, more intense star.” She paused a moment. “The result is a star that burns so hot that it emits ultraviolet instead of light energy.”

“So you end up with a neutron star? That’s why you have a hollow center.”

“No. A neutron star or singularity don’t emit, they don’t allow energy to escape. The planetary nebula only LOOKS hollow, but only because we can’t see ultraviolet radiation. A ship’s sensors would pick it up as the intense star that it is, but we could look right at it and not know it was there. The ring around the star is the UV radiation fluorescing off the perimeter as less intense light energy.”

He took a moment to envision what it must have looked like.

“Think of it like a glass sphere. It’s apparent around the edges, but appears hollow in the center. That’s why it looks like a blue ring.”

“It’s just that what’s inside is beyond what our eyes can see.” He said with a smile.

She shrugged her shoulders. “That’s it. That’s the kind of celestial body that fascinates me most.”

He leaned against the wall and stared at Alayna. “I think it suits you.”

“How so?”

“You... I can’t see you through the Force, but I can see the radiant energy all around you. Maybe you’re to the Force as a planetary nebula is to our eyes.”

She frequently received compliments from Mical, so Alayna smiled, but didn’t really believe he had any idea what he was talking about. He was more to her than just a friend, but because he was a Jedi in training, she had to restrain her feelings for him and teach him to do the same. Although he was pleasant to be around, Mical sucked up to her a little too often for reasons that she didn’t believe were true. Despite that, he was the most qualified of her group to lead the way to the future for the new Order.

She looked up at the moons. “I think I’m more like that smaller moon up there. Although it seems to be larger, it’s only because it’s closer. Right now, what’s more important to us is to reestablish the Jedi Order.” She sighed. “But there is something more important than that... ensuring the Republic remains intact.”

“That is why we need you to stay. The Jedi are more than protectors of the peace. They were a symbol of hope. They rallied everyone in the Republic like Bastila’s battle meditation. In a way, you are like her, but on a scale of the Republic, not just an army.”

She crossed her arms and turned away. “The Jedi Order is dead... and it deserved to die. What I set out for was to establish a new Order completely.”

“Deserved to die? That sounds a bit harsh coming from you. Yes, there have been many missteps, but they have kept the Republic alive countless times since the birth of the Republic. I don’t see why you have to leave.”

“When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. The Jedi have reached the pinnacle of their decadence shortly before the war with Exar Kunn, but since then, they tried to maintain the traditions of the past when the future dictated that they become more dynamic in their ways.” She turned around. “The Order had become too arrogant and believed in their own superiority to the extent that went beyond arrogance.”

“You’re doing the same thing now. What do you think the others will think of your decision? I’ll tell you what I think; they’ll want to go with you... or they’ll want you to stay here. That’s where you belong.”

Alayna started crying and Mical held her in his arms. She knew he loved her, but had to let go of those feelings. “I can’t stay. The reason why is that I want this new Order to reflect upon all of you. Each one of you have strengths and greatness about you that aren’t typical of a Jedi. If I stay, you would rebuild the Order as I want... not as you think it should be. I’m a relic of that past that I don’t want to influence the Republic’s future.” When he tried to speak, she stopped him. “I also have an important mission that must take priority over the rebuilding of the Order: I must search for whatever threatens the Republic and deal with them.”

“Revan?”

She gave him an odd look. “I don’t know how much he really has discovered, but if I find him, we would know exactly who we are fighting. If that should happen, I need to be able to call upon the Order and trust that they will be ready to protect the Republic when the time comes.”

He looked down in great sadness. “Have you told any of the others?”

She shook her head. “When I’m gone, the others are going to need a leader to follow; someone they can count on.” She looked him directly in the eye. “It’s a heavy responsibility... one that can’t be taken lightly. Because the decisions he makes could impact the fate of trillions of lives.”

Mical’s face lit up as he came to the realization of what he was being offered, but he grew pale at the fear of what it meant. It left him speechless.

“They would follow you if I asked it of them, but I need to know if you are up to the responsibility. Not only do you have to guide the others, but you must respect their feelings. This is a community... you have ultimate control, but you cannot push them if they don’t agree with your decision. All you can do is convince them, but if you stand alone, you must yield to the majority. All of you must work together and it will be your responsibility to maintain their unity when you are in conflict.” She went up and held his hands within hers. “I don’t expect an answer right now. You will need time if you wish to accept this great responsibility, but if you have any doubt in your mind... whomever does this must have utter confidence in himself and in the relationship with those he leads.” She looked to the moons as the shadow started waning from the most distant moon.

Mical held onto her from behind and rested his neck next to her head and upon her shoulder. “We’ve trusted you this far and you’ve not lead us astray. As much as I wish you to stay, I will respect whatever you do next...” He pulled her around to face him. “...but if you wish me to do this, then I ask that you take your own advice. I am not the only one who is against this. If you leave, you will find yourself alone again. It has always been in others that you demonstrated your strength... and it was within you that we found the best of ourselves.” He moved his head within centimeters of hers. “I will understand if you feel the need to go on alone, but I do hope you change your mind. If not... I can only do my best... and I will... for you.”

Tears of bittersweet joy came to her eyes as she heard those words. They showed he cared for her so greatly that he was willing to let go... that meant much to her, but also meant losing just that much when she was off on her own. She embraced him and whispered into his ear. “I have only one other request.”

“Of course, anything.”

She pulled back. “You will be the foundation of a new Jedi Order. I want its spirit to reflect upon that of all who are a part of it. If you encounter conflict with others, remember that it can be just as possible that the Order to change for them as it is for an individual to change to a society. When I return, I want to take my rightful place as only an individual among a society. Promise me that.”

He smiled, on the brink of tears, himself. “I promise.”

--------
(Present)
--------

Alayna and Visas stood just outside the High Council Chamber at the pinnacle of the Temple. Beggars and scavengers were all that resided within the once-hallow structure. Those that the two of them encountered just ignored them as the ancient halls were open to anyone. Dust, insect webs, and the carcasses of sentient beings seemed to be littered everywhere while many of the high-tech devices, even the lighting, barely functioned. They had to take the stairways up nearly a hundred stories, but they arrived at that once-sacred location.

Alayna wasn’t as acute as seeing in the dark as Visas, so she simply followed the Miraluka, who guided her around the obstacles that littered the halls. When they reached the entrance to the Council chamber, Alayna used the Force to pull the first pair of doors open and saw light seaming through the second pair of doors at the end of the tunnel.

When she reached the second pair of doors, Alayna couldn’t help but stare at the beam of light that spilled through the seam of the doors. There were no working lights or windows in the tunnel and she knew that the light was from Coruscant’s sun, through the chamber’s windows. The sight seemed to leave her with the impression that beyond the doors was an unconquerable light that was the Jedi. She knew the thought was ridiculous, as there were many events that one could say symbolize something greater. That light at the end of the tunnel? In brightest day, in darkest night? Could that light have symbolized hope? Whatever it meant, if anything, the moment ended when Visas opened the doors for her.

Within a second, Alayna saw that beam of light erupt into a blinding flash as the rising sun spilled its intense rays into that dark place. If there were symbolism in that moment, Alayna was content to think it was the transition from almost perfect dark to utter radiance. Just a minimal effort was all that it required to overpower the darkness, but it depended on one’s choice.

When her eyes adjusted to the light, Alayna eventually stepped into the chamber and gazed upon the center stone first, not simply because it was the most prominent feature of the room, but because Alayna wanted to see if the Jedi had the gaul to replace the stone she stabbed the last time. As she saw the words ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ were present, she kneeled beside it to find the stone had simply been repaired and not replaced. Her hand extended to touch the words that had been restored, the scar from her lightsabers barely visible, and her fingernails scratched them as she formed a fist.

Visas was in the corner of her eye and Alayna thought she deserved and explanation. “They healed the stone, but they never did their hearts.” She slowly stood up, her eyes fixed on the false symbols. “That was all I wanted... just to be with them again. Then when they turned their backs on me, I hated them... with every fiber of my being.”

Visas stayed in place while Alayna turned her attention elsewhere. “Do you still?”

Alayna leaned upon Master Kavar’s seat and looked at the others, imagining how the others may have looked at her, had they lived in that moment. She could almost see each of them still frowning upon her, even Kavar. When she thought of Kavar and what she could have done to earn back his respect, Alayna faced that it really didn’t matter what he [i]would[i/] have thought. She sat in the empty chair and let her head fall back, staring at the ceiling. “They’re all dead. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Yet it still hurts you?”

Alayna nodded. “I know that the best thing would be to just leave the past behind and go on, but the future doesn’t seem any more enticing.”

“Except that the future remains yet to be written. Why do you feel it prudent to wander among the ruins of our past instead of planning for the future?”

Alayna gestured Visas to sit in the seat next to her. Despite being abandoned for years, there was remarkably little dust that had collected in the Council chamber; but Alayna brushed off what dust there was on that chair. “The Order had stood for thousands of years. I never would have imagined that this place could lie in ruin as it is. When I left Mical and the others to rebuild, I wanted nothing of the Jedi to live on. I wanted them to start their own Order which would not bear the flaws of this one.”

“We still don’t know what happened to them.”

Alayna stood up and looked out one of the massive windows upon the cityscape of Coruscant. She knew that they most likely were dead, but wondered if even one of her companions were among the billions who resided on the planet. She felt that they were alive, but realistically had no reason to assume any of them were aboard the air speeders that flew by. She could almost imagine Mira intimidating someone down there for credits. She thought that Mical was in the lower levels, protecting what was left of the Order. Then she forced the thoughts out of her mind, knowing that it was her imagination and nothing else.

What wasn’t her imagination was the friend behind her had stood beside every decision she’s ever made, even when she didn’t agree. Alayna looked back to Visas, realizing that she had never given reason for doubt, and rubbed her shoulder. “I’ve never really told you how much I appreciated having you with me over these last few years. You’ve always been there when I needed a friend. For that... I thank you.”

Visas smiled, something she rarely did, and stood up to her friend to show her respect. “I told you that my life was yours to do with as you willed. I am glad that I have proven my worth to you. I am... glad that there hasn’t been a need to sacrifice myself to protect you, although I still would do that if the need came.”

Alayna sighed and returned to the seat next to Visas. “And you know what I would ask of you if the need, indeed came?”

Visas scoffed and smiled, turning her head away. “You would have me not throw myself in the path of a stray blaster shot, even if it would save you.” Before Alayna could ask her next question, Visas held her hand up to keep her friend silent. “And I would respect your wishes. I know how you have felt about my loyalty and I still mean what I said that I follow you because it is by my choice, not your will.”

Alayna nodded, but with little confidence. She didn’t know for sure if the Council were right or wrong about what they said about her the last time they spoke. Although Visas helped her realize that it could just as easily have been her influence over her friends as it was that she commanded them through the Force, Alayna had never fully been able to accept the truth. A part of the reason she abandoned her other companions was because she didn’t want to know.

When she lifted her head back up to the center stone, Alayna recognized what drove her back to that place of pain. “I know that this is the wrong time for soul-searching, but I really came here because I needed to know...”

Visas sighed, the kind that came after being confronted by the same trivial question or motivation too many times. “Alayna, why does it really matter? I’m not saying that it’s not worth trying to understand, but what would the truth bring you? Why does its absence cause you such conflict?”

Alayna let her head fall upon her knees and she realized the folly of it all, but just had to come to the right conclusion. “That’s not what I meant. I can’t see the way things have turned out and think that all this...” she gestured to the Temple around them “...that any alternative outcome could have been this bad.”

“You shouldn’t torture yourself with what might have happened. You of all people would realize how much hinges upon the most minute choices. Your choice to join Revan. Their choice not to fight in the Mandalorian wars.”

Alayna shook her head. “Those are not simple choices. It would be like choosing the light or darkside. There may have been two very different outcomes, but it’s not like flipping a coin that one could do that.”

Visas looked at her directly. “Not always. It was a simple choice that could have lead your son to a very different life. It was the betrayal of a single Jedi that lead to me loosing everything on Katarr. Did I demand that you bring justice to Atris for the murder of my world?”

Alayna never really thought of it, but Visas would have had every reason to despise Atris as Genda for her over the pain they lived through. Both their lives could have been drastically changed had the simplest acts been taken. She smiled, but only because she misunderstood. “You’re wise, I’ll admit that. However, even that’s not what I was referring to.” She sighed. “I’m not happy with the way everything’s turned out. Ever since I defied the Council, my life’s never seemed to get put back in order. Finding the Force again was... significant, but I just can’t see any outcome anymore that could possibly end up good.”

Visas knew that what Alayna said was something she had known long ago and shouldn’t have been disturbing her, but there was a point in reiterating the state of the present. She knew that Alayna was driven to try and save the Galaxy, but simply felt that more was expected of her than she could provide.

“I made so many mistakes in my life. I kept thinking that my choice to support Revan when he stood up to the Mandalorians was so absolute, so right... I never really considered that they might have been right.” She stood up and looked at the center stone again. “They were right that there was a hidden threat; that I have no dispute.” She started pacing as she accounted for other factors. “The Mandalorians were attacking the Republic. They wouldn’t get involved and Revan offered a solution. We couldn’t have waited any longer... we barely defeated them.”

“Then it seems that you knew what had to be done. If you couldn’t have waited any longer, then you have no reason to believe you made a mistake.” Visas assured.

“Yeah, I helped Revan and that lead me to Malachor V. If I hadn’t, it would have meant a trillion or more casualties. Even if conventional tactics were followed, we would have lost most of our fleet.” Alayna’s posture showed her frustration growing. “If that had happened, Revan wouldn’t have had anything left for his war against the Republic. I wouldn’t have been exiled, they would still be alive...” Alayna stared at the stone again and she felt the urge to destroy it. Although she only knocked it to the floor, the impact was enough to fracture the stone in three places. “Damnit!”

Visas quickly stood up and came to her. “Peace, Alayna.”

“Just...!” Alayna shouted before restraining herself. “There had to have been other options. I just can’t see how anything else could have been worse than this.”

“Alayna...”

“I know.” she whispered. “I just wanted them to take me back. I just wanted everything they stood for to live on.” She turned and looked at the 12 empty chairs. “This would have resulted no matter what action I took.” She took out the very same lightsabers that she plunged into the stone almost 20 years ago and set them at the base where it once stood. "The Order is dead... and I helped kill it." Before she could let go of the weapons, Alayna felt the same pain that came the last time she was there. She sobbed just as horrifically as before.

Visas kneeled beside her and allowed Alayna to cry on her shoulder. After Katarr died around her and Visas had nothing to take comfort in, but was instead taken by the very evil that took everything which ever mattered from her. Visas knew the pain Alayna felt and did what she could to ease it so that she wouldn't leave suffering like the last time.

-------

Nearly an hour later, Visas calmed her friend to the extent that she stopped crying. Alayna had never truly confronted what weighed on her mind for so long, but at long last, she realized how much she missed the Jedi. Her anger towards the Council wasn’t for her exile directly, but because they created a buffer between her and the Order she loved. First when they refused to oppose the Mandalorians and leading her to join Revan. The second was when they exiled her so shortly after her tie to the Force had been lost. Then when the dust finally settled, even after finding the Force at long last, Alayna found nothing left of the Order survived.

Part of the reason why she left her companions to rebuild the Order without her was because it was painful to constantly be reminded that the Order was gone. Those few weeks she spent helping the others on Dantooine constantly reminded her of how much was absent from before the Mandalorian Wars. Being on the Outer Rim with only Visas at her side seemed like exile again, as if there were still an Order, even if she were not a part of it. Finding Dantooine abandoned after only a few short years seemed like a grim realization that she would never see the great Order she once belonged to... only the ailing remnants struggling to survive as long as she lived.

“I have wondered why you decided to leave. It seemed to me that the last thing you would have wanted was to leave your friends behind.” Visas inferred.

Alayna nodded and stood up to look at the pieces of the center stone she had destroyed. “I guess that I really loved the Order and what it stood for. If you lose something, you can do one of two things: you learn to accept the loss, or you start over again.” She sighed and let her head drop. “I should have known they couldn’t do it on their own. I shouldn’t have left them behind.”

“So what will you do now?”

Alayna turned around and sat on the floor, wrapping her arms around her knees. “That’s what it always seems to come down to, isn’t it? What do I intend to do?” She sighed in disgust. “I’m tired. I don’t want to start over again, yet I know that if I don’t; whatever is left would be lost forever.” After an uncomfortable moment of having Visas stare at her, Alayna looked out one of the windows and saw the traffic moving about just as it always has. Despite the Republic being on the verge of collapse and the Order dead, everyone around just went about their life as though nothing were the matter. Alayna came to realize that the Galaxy didn’t really hinge upon what she did... if it had, everything would have died long ago.

Alayna remembered a time long ago when she had been little more than an average Jedi knight who’s only real responsibility was protecting the innocent whenever she could. That in itself was a huge responsibility, since a single life was significant. But just because there were trillions of lives out there didn’t bring down the value of any one. When the Mandalorians made it known that they were coming, somehow it seemed folly to regard one individual as important as a hundred.

Still Alayna couldn’t escape the reality that if that one individual were one she cared about, it wouldn’t have mattered how many others were on the opposite end of the scale. She then stood up and looked upon the fractured center stone with only a sad feeling. No reason or justification for why she felt so down... just sadness.

Although she appreciated Alayna’s feelings, Visas felt that it was more important that she do something about the conflict at hand rather than what she was doing. “Alayna?”

Distracted, she raised her head instinctively. “Yes?”

Visas sighed with frustration. “What is our next move?”

“There is one friend who’s location we do know: Canderous. Dxun is our next destination. He might know what happened to the others. Even if he doesn’t, I could use his council.” Alayna extended her hand and pulled her lightsabers from where they had been and took one in her hand, but suspended the other in the air for a moment before it floated back to the base where it had originally been. Alayna looked to Visas after slipping the saber into the hilt at her belt. “I have every intent to come back for that. When I do, it will be when this Temple is ready to accept Jedi again.”

Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 03-26-2009 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:41 PM   #47
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Yay, updated chapters. Interesting how you changed them, I like it. Keep up the great work, and I will try to stay caught up, lol

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Old 04-04-2009, 09:20 AM   #48
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Chapter 10: (Revised)

I've got another chapter complete, but have to connect this one to the next. This is part one of chapter 10 and will post chapter 11,12, and 13 once they're all in order. In those chapters, Genda will have an interesting interaction with Bralor in the Battle circle. (No nothing like that)

-------

Genda and Tashi were an odd couple, but the two came to develop feelings for one another under extraordinary circumstances. Genda didn’t realize it, but Tashi understood that his love for her likely wouldn’t last once they were off Sleheyron. She was his first love, but he didn’t realize that she had been in love before and didn’t expect to stay with him for the rest of her life. He went to great lengths to rescue her from Faso, which was why she wouldn’t leave him. Although not his slave anymore, she felt that he needed all the support she could provide if he expected to become a Jedi.

Of course, from what she read of the Jedi, Tashi knew that there would have come a time when they had to part ways. She learned that Alayna had issues because Genda had

Tashi had once served as a pleasure slave. Despite her skills, Tashi’s trainer believed she had difficulty adapting to strange conditions, or performing unexpected duties. Without warning, she had been pulled out of training early and placed in a Hutt’s palace, believing that she had been sold for a purpose other than what she had been trained for.

Over the course of a month, she learned what it was like for her body to belong to a master, the fear of physical punishment, and the need to adapt to a new environment without having it disrupt her duties. When her first Hutt master determined that she had been appropriately broken, she was returned to complete her training. Although it was miserable, she learned some of a slave’s most important lessons that she carried the rest of her life.

Genda didn’t want to admit it, but he was thoroughly obliged for what Tashi had given him. When he held the top piece of her new costume and realized why Hutts gave their slaves such ridged outfits: they were impossible to keep on. The Republic had rules for modesty, but scantily-clad slaves covered JUST ENOUGH to be legal. Yet those ridged outfits constantly malfunctioned... which allowed them to get away with because the slaves were the ones who didn’t properly cover themselves.

Just then, Tashi yanked it from him and attempted to put it back on. Genda got behind her and fitted it from the back. “So where exactly did this come from anyway?”

“Alayna gave me a hundred credits to spend as I wished, I found this on the network and had it delivered. I know they overcharged me, but I wanted it to be a surprise when you were out of surgery.”

“I love it...” He put his head beside hers and looked down at her breasts. “...and you will wear it whenever I ask?”

She took her hand and pushed him away by the face before grabbing the old robe Alayna had given her. “Yes, but don’t forget that it’s just a gesture. If you abuse it, you’ll lose it.”

He shrugged his shoulders and grabbed his own robe that had been thrown on the floor. “Fair enough. I know how much you hate that kind of thing anyway.”

“True, but that’s not what I meant. I’ve done some reading on the Jedi... you should as well. Did you know that they aren’t allowed to have families or children?”

Genda didn’t take what she said as seriously as he should have, considering that he was born of a Jedi. “Not allowed? Why is that?”

Tashi crossed her arms, diligently as if to encourage Genda to come to the answer on his own. She had acted as Genda’s confidant among her other duties, but felt it was important for him not to depend on her all the time for answers to questions he could answer on his own. Although Tashi had come to accept that Genda wasn’t as interested in developing his brain as maybe he should, she believed it was because he didn’t expect to live long enough to make use of his newfound knowledge. Now that Alayna offered to train him as a Jedi, Tashi knew that Genda had to change the way he went about seeking knowledge.

When he got her silence, he came to a different conclusion. “I’m sorry. That’s something I should ask Alayna.”

Tashi sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “No, that’s something that you should seek out on your own. I found the answer to that within an hour of reading through the ship’s library.”

Genda mistook her manner for being playful when she had been very serious about what she said. “Well I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the same interest in history as you. I just have one question. Do you know the answer, or is this some kind of joke?”

Tashi turned away and looked out the window at the traffic going by the hospital. Without facing Genda, she started explaining what she thought. “Genda...”

“Minoru.” he corrected.

She sighed again and faced him. “Minoru... you didn’t have to worry about seeking knowledge on Sleheyron, but you should consider going back to school to catch up on what you didn’t have access to in the last six years. It’s better late than never.”

He nodded simply to gesture that he heard what she said, but didn’t really take what she said seriously. “I know, I will. I just want to take a breather. This is the first time in all those years where I can just relax and not have to worry about anything for a while. I just want to enjoy freedom for a while without any restrictions and when I’m ready, I’ll...”

When he paused to think, Genda closed his eyes to shut out any visual distractions and Tashi knew he didn’t know what to do next. “I’m not an expert on the workings of the rest of the Galaxy. I have no idea what to do next, but the difference between us is that I’m trying to learn what’s out there and you’re just following someone else’s lead with no idea where she is going.”

“Alayna saved us from Sleheyron. I think that we can trust her at least a little.”

“Perhapse, but I’d much rather get a better idea what’s going on before we are committed to anything. I think that you’d be best finishing your schooling before you even consider trying to become a Jedi.” she suggested.

Genda had not come to appreciate the learning experience in his few years before Sleheyron and didn’t think about returning to school as much as becoming a Jedi. He didn’t take Tashi’s advice as seriously as maybe he should. “Oh forgive me, but I’m not a book leach like you. I’m not as smart as you, but I don’t pretend to be. Whatever I have to do, I will be prepared when the time comes. I always have.”

Tashi sighed with disgust and pushed him away. “In that case Mr. to-be Jedi, you should know more about it than a non-Force sensitive like me. Tell me, how old is... correction: was the Jedi Order?”

Genda’s expression clearly displayed his confusion. “Was?”

Tashi turned around again. “Yes, was. Surely you would have known that it had collapsed a few years ago. It was as old as the Republic, but is gone now. How long ago was that?”

Genda stared at her for a long while before he silently said he didn’t know.

“That is very basic knowledge. I wasn’t even aware of that a week ago, but I learned that and much more in only a few days of pouring through the ship’s library. Do you really think that if you don’t know something as basic as that, you are ready for whatever’s out there?”

“Why would that be important for anything other than a test? The Republic is thousands of years old, what does it matter one or ten thousand? I know it’s ancient.”

Tashi lashed out at him upon what he stated. “I’m trying to help you! You’re not stupid... you just have been deprived the privilege of schooling for some of your most critical years. If you don’t take what I say seriously, you should just give up all hope of becoming a Jedi right here!” She tapped his forehead fairly hard to emphasize her point. “Of all the muscles in your body, this is the one that really matters the most. You’re the one who tells me how important it was to exercise what part of the body was weakest, because that’s what yields the most improvement. You may have all the others in top condition, but this one is your weakest... and the most important one.”

He grabbed her wrist when she tried to tap his forehead again. “I get the point, you don’t have to bite my head off. Or don’t you remember that your brain was one of the reasons I chose you? Do you think I don’t appreciate your lust for learning?”

She pulled her wrist out of his grip. “Well I have respected that you had more important things to do on Sleheyron than developing your mind, but I really disliked how you didn’t want me to teach you what I knew when it really would have mattered.”

“What?”

Tashi became more confrontational. “I offered to tutor you on Sleheyron. It would have given me something to do and it would have helped you for the current situation. Now I don’t have as much enthusiasm to do that... there’s an entire galaxy out there and not enough time to see it all.”

Before she turned her back, Genda embraced Tashi only to realize how disgruntled she really was. “I’d really like to do that with you... I’d like to be with you and we could share the experience together.”

She sighed and pushed him away, crossing her arms as if to display how frustrated she was. “It’s not as simple as that. Many of the subjects I read about are beyond your comprehension. I am willing to help you through, but it is a significant hindrance for me to have to brush you up on basics that I could have a long time ago.”

Genda gently let go of her and turned to look out the window again. His attention wasn’t on what was outside, but more to remove his presence from Tashi. He never had to concern himself with meeting her standards as a person, but once she had no longer been bound to him as a slave; Genda realized that a gulf had existed between them that he was never aware of. Tashi cared for Genda, but he had never really acknowledged that she had been miserable living as his personal servant. It was not because of him, but because she didn’t have the duties that exercised her mind like what was expected from past masters. Although she appreciated what he did for her in the end, Tashi still had hard feelings about being deprived of the duties that she was trained for.

He turned around to see her back still facing him. “I’m sorry that I never had revenues for you to process, or investors for you to work with, or reports for you to file. I know that you were not the kind to be locked up in a cage... for that, I am sorry.”

Tashi shook her head, but didn’t look back. “Don’t start with that again. We both made mistakes in the last two years. The best thing is to move forward and not look back. I’m glad at the way things turned out and would not complain because things could have been very different. If I sound harsh, it’s only because it’s the first time I can truly speak my mind without fear of being punished.”

He gently touched her shoulder. “Look, your life is yours to do with as you will. Don’t feel that just because I saved it that I expect you to stay with me. If you want to leave, you may do so. I am not your master to any degree.” he painfully forced out his next words. “And I will respect your feelings, whatever they are.”

She placed her hand on top of his, which rested upon her shoulder. “I’m not saying I’m leaving. You’re the only friend I have and I’m not going to just abandon you. Just realize that a lot has changed and that the future may not turn out as you may have expected. You are going to live... that is something that I never thought would’ve happened. And I’m grateful for that.”

“What about... us?”

She maintained an uncomfortable silence. Tashi secretly knew that their feelings couldn’t last if he were to become a Jedi, but she didn’t want to tell him so bluntly. “I love you, Gen... Minoru. That is why I’m pushing you now. I could not call myself your friend if I just let you do what you want. If you don’t want to be a Jedi, don’t choose it because of me... if you want to learn the ways of the Force, then you must accept that it will require educating yourself for what you lost as a child. I’m willing to help you with that, but you will have to push yourself because I can’t.”

He slowly turned her to face him. “You’re the greatest thing in my life. You’re so beautiful, but what I love most is up here.” He gently touched her left temple. “...and in here.” Then put his hand over her heart. Just as she began smiling, his hand was over the metal bikini under her robe. “And what you’ve got on.”

She laughed out loud. “I’ll bet that’s what you love the most!”

He smiled playfully. “Yeah, but I don’t think my mother would approve.”

Almost as though she were a part of the conversation, Alayna entered the room without even knocking. “No, she wouldn’t... but whatever you two do is your own business.”

Genda and Tashi stepped away from the other as if to accept punishment from their master.

Alayna sighed and looked away. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just barged in. Visas and I need be underway and I wanted to know if you two would be accompanying us.”

Genda stared at Tashi and to Alayna for a long moment and then just nodded dumbly.

Alayna gestured them to follow. “Then please come with me. We’ve got a three-day journey ahead of us.”
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Old 05-06-2009, 03:02 PM   #49
Darth_Yuthura
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Chapter 10: pt2

Aboard the Ebon Hawk, Alayna and Visas both sought solitude while Tashi started working with Genda and a data pad. It had been years since he’s been in school and he had difficulty resuming from where he left off. Tashi felt that it was important for him to complete his education, but accepted that he didn’t appreciate the learning experience as she had. It was for that reason that she let him go when he took the data pad and told her that he’ll get around to reading it later. Of course, she expected that he would have just tossed it somewhere and forgotten about it.

He didn’t exactly throw it aside, but he skimmed through the content that covered lightsaber fighting techniques. Most of the material seemed to correspond with the training he received on Sleheyron, so he didn’t really find anything as interesting as the lightsabers that Jedi wielded. He had wondered what Alayna and Visas carried with them, but never realized that they were swords that were made of pure energy.

Alayna had been in the aft compartment tinkering with one of the sub light engines. There was always something on the Ebon Hawk that needed fixing, but it wasn’t always obvious. Alayna often found it took her mind off matters to work on the ship’s systems before they became a problem, but after having essentially overhauled the ship already; she just started over again.

A part of her wanted to get closer to her son, but the part of her that knew he didn’t need a mother kept her away. It seemed difficult to see her son, who had become an adult without her, without remembering all the waste and the loss that came from it all. It was as though she lost those years where she never held him in her arms, watched him grow up, took responsibility when he got in trouble, or to really appreciate that she had the responsibility to that one child and that no one else could fill that role. If that weren’t bad enough, Alayna knew that nothing she did could make up for what was lost.

Her mind had frequently drifted away from what she had been doing when she considered how much weight came from the simplest acts she took in the past. So much had gone wrong in her life and Alayna wished that there were a means of escape from it. So much of her hard work and dedication throughout the last two decades had often been unraveled by the simplest mistakes she made. It didn’t seem to matter how right she felt she was, there just seemed to be no other outcomes that could have turned out better than the way things were.

She might not have gone with Revan to fight the Mandalorians. She might have decided to keep Genda and stay with Spratt, but it would have been more painful to learn to live without the Force than just continue drifting from place to place. Maybe if she gave Genda to his father... he must have suffered as well because of her... he might not have been used as a gladiator by the Hutts. Maybe if she stayed with Mical and the others to rebuild the Order, there might have been dozens of students lined up to be trained.

While she reset a cluster of circuits, her back had been turned towards her son when he entered the compartment. “Minoru.”

“How did you know?” he asked.

When the circuits were in their proper place, she reset the panel that covered them. “The pattern of your footsteps. Tashi still hesitates, waiting for me to see her before I invite her to come in. Visas would have come in, stood where you are now, and waited for me to finish here before I addressed her. You... hesitated at the door and reluctantly approach me just now.”

“I thought you would have... ‘sensed me’?”

“That, too.” She turned her attention from the panel to where it belonged. “However, it is important to rely more on our more physical senses than the Force. It does us credit, but it often works best in conjunction with our eyes and minds. One could rely on the Force, alone; but it’s best to augment it with something that we can always rely upon.” She gestured to the engine she was working on. “I’m not the greatest mechanic, but I find it’s good to practice more on my weakness than prove my strengths.”

He scoffed. “You’ve been talking with Tashi, haven’t you?”

“About what?”

He felt a sense of dread at those words. If it were just Tashi, it might have been easier to dismiss her concern. As it seemed that both had come to the same conclusion, it wasn’t as easy to just brush off her concern. “Tashi had scolded me while we were in the hospital for not burying myself in literature like her.”

Alayna leaned herself against the engine, not really expecting for a pleasant conversation ahead. “Did this... just come up?”

He shook his head. “She offered to help me with my reading skills on Sleheyron, but now says it’s inconvenient for her to do so now. All things considered, I don’t know why she’s suddenly agitated... she’s always known I’m not as bright as her.”

Alayna clasped her palm against her forehead and quietly muttered something under her breath. “Did you receive any schooling?”

“Yes... for as long as I was on Telos.”

She pulled her hand away. “How many years did you miss?”

He scoffed and turned his back to her. “Oh please, I’m not going back to school. Can’t you teach me to levitate things? That’s something I’d rather learn instead.”

Alayna couldn’t help but remember from her time in the Temple on Coruscant when she saw raw initiates who were so fascinated by the power of the Force that all that went with it didn’t so much as enter their minds. She hadn’t anticipated that Genda would have been one such as that. What passed through her mind after that was what usually happened to such students: they either learned discipline, or they were rejected before they received basic Force training.

“Why would you want to learn to do that?”

He looked at her as if she just asked the most obvious of rhetorical questions. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“I meant why? What would you do with it?” she asked.

“Lots of things. I’ve already done it once and tried doing it again, but... I don’t remember how. Would you please show me?”

Although Alayna was used to the convenience of picking up objects from a distance, she knew the awe and the envy of people who couldn’t harness the Force. To those who weren’t Force-sensitive, it was easy enough to accept that they didn’t have such power. To a Force-sensitive, it was harder.

Alayna knew that if she refused to train him, Genda would not have taken it easily. Genda had the potential, but if she denied him training; he would believe she had deprived him of the wonders of the Force. Although he’s only scratched the surface of its potential, he didn’t think of the hard work and anguish that would have come from training; he only thought of the marvels that came after it.

“You’re not ready yet.”

“Not ready? Of course I am; I’ve done it before. I know I can do it again.”

She unfolded her arms and sat down on the hyperdrive motivator, or rather the vessel that insulated the reactor from the crew. It wasn’t made to be sat on, but Alayna used it as a bench and gestured Genda to sit next to her. When he did, she looked upon his anxious expression, knowing that it would quickly turn to disappointment. “The Force is not something to be trifled away. It is a powerful gift, but its mastery is founded upon years of discipline and it demands patience. If you want me to teach you to harness that power, you must first prove to me that you are capable of completing the training that I would place upon you.”

“Of course.”

She shook her head. “No, not ‘of course.’ This is not a decision that should be made lightly. Jedi training is long and difficult. It will require years of hardship, strict discipline, and...”

“And?”

Alayna struggled to utter her words. She knew that her last demand would have been asking too much, but she did not want him to get too engrossed in the prospect of becoming a Jedi before knowing what it would mean. “Strong emotions like anger, jealousy, love... they are to be avoided.”

“Avoided? Why?” he asked.

“Strong emotions disrupt training and can be dangerous if not properly restrained. Usually, only children are accepted because their minds aren’t fully developed. For an adult... it becomes much more difficult.”

“Please, just let me try. I’ll do whatever it takes.”

Again, she saw that impatience that she didn’t want to in him. “There’s more... children who are accepted for training are separated from their family. Any emotional ties that they share with others... are not allowed.”

Genda stared at her as he slowly came to the realization of the matter. From the look in her eyes, he could tell how serious she was. “What does that mean?”

“Emotional entanglements can be dangerous. They impair rational thoughts, trigger outbursts and instinctively use your power against others, or bring harm upon those you care about. Every padawan must receive considerable training in emotional control and self-restraint, but it takes years for some students before they could safely wield the Force.” She gently placed her hand upon his shoulder. “That’s one of the sacrifices that must be made before you could start learning the ways of the Force. It requires that you purge yourself of emotion. Anger and hate are the worst, but even love can lead to unforetold dangers.”

“Wait... are you telling me... that Tashi and I...?”

She gently shook her head. “Not if you want to become a Jedi.”

Genda stood up and his mind ventured into deep thought. He tried to remember his experience on Sleheyron and when he grasped the Force just long enough to save Tashi, but he had not felt it since. “That... doesn’t make sense. When it happened... I felt that I couldn’t loose her... and I did whatever I could to save Tashi. It was because I loved her that I did what I did. In fact... I remember other times when I was angry and that I... did what shouldn’t have been possible...”

Alayna stood up and pulled him around to face her. “There are two methods by which to manipulate the Force. One is through emotional restraint, but there is another that does the opposite. They are considered dark Jedi, or Sith. What you did was for a good cause, but that power... it’s dangerous and I don’t want you to use it like that again.”

“I won’t. If you will train me, I’ll do anything you ask... please teach me how to use your power.”

She sat back on the hyperdrive motivator and looked away from Genda. “So are you saying that you would like for me to find Tashi a decent home for herself? Once she’s settled there, you can come with me and Visas. You two would part ways forever, but you’ll not have to worry about her safety again. Is that what you want?”

Genda almost collapsed from the decision that had been presented to him, but just backed into the engine behind him. The temptation to wield the Force was great, but the price Alayna demanded was high. “No, I care for her. I don’t want... you can’t seriously mean... you mean that I have to choose between being a Jedi or being with Tashi?”

Alayna saw that Genda truly cared for Tashi and that the best thing for him would have been to live a normal life. The thought almost gave her relief, as training Genda would have been extremely difficult and he genuinely cared for Tashi. A part of her also wanted for him not to be put in danger because of the life of a Jedi.

She stood up and rubbed his shoulders, smiling. “If you really love her, then you shouldn’t abandon a loved one. She is going to have a difficult time adapting to life as a Republic citizen and she’ll need someone to help her through it.” She exhaled and turned away. “I also think that you would be much happier with her.”

He grabbed her by the shoulder, rather firmly. “You said that you wanted to make up for all those years I was on Sleheyron. You said that you owed me more than you could ever repay... I want to learn your power. Please... don’t deny me this.”

Alayna realized that what she did would drive a wedge between her and Genda, but she knew that she couldn’t let her personal feelings interfere with a decision such as that. “Minoru... Genda... nothing would’ve made me happier than to train you, but I cannot do what you ask of me. Becoming a Jedi... it has to be your life. Learning to use the Force comes at a high price and those who ignore their teachings often lose much more than their lives. I have many enemies... and if any one of them learned about you, they would go after you.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You are my son and if someone wanted me dead, they would go after you first. If you were to become a Jedi, it would also make Tashi a target. That is why Jedi don’t allow close emotional ties... we put our lives into danger all the time and if we don’t shield our hearts from those we care for...” As she spoke those words, Alayna noticed that Genda had become very distressed by something. “What?”

Genda had actually been reminded of the reason why Tashi was put in jeopardy. “On Sleheyron, she almost died because of me.”

“Tashi?”

He nodded. “Faso took the twins from her because of me; because he wanted to hurt me.”

“The same thing would happen again if you were to become a Jedi. It would put her at risk and it would put you at risk for me.”

“I don’t want to be a Jedi. I just want to learn how to levitate objects.” he declared.

Alayna sat down again, looked away, and very casually asked what he intended to do with that power.

“What?”

She turned her attention back onto him. “Yes. Once you’ve learned how to use your power, what would you do with it?”

Genda could think of many ways it would have been great to have the Force, but most of them were for very trivial purposes. He couldn’t come up with an answer that really made sense, but he spoke of why he wanted it. “Well... if I had it then, I would have used it back on Sleheyron.”

“That would have been a good reason, but now you’re free. Why would you still want that?”

“Why do you keep asking me that? Your power is awesome and I want to learn how to do it.”

She stood up and laid her palms against his shoulders. “But for what purpose? Power is a means, not an end. The Force is not just some convenience you use to make your life easier. Its power is great and it must be used responsibly. If you’re asking just for the sake of it, I’m sorry, but that’s just not enough.”

His mouth hung open in frustration before brushing her hands away. “You’re unbelievable. Why did you give me hope only to destroy it again?! Why the hell did you ever come back into my life?!”

Alayna tried to grab him before he turned away, but Genda slapped her arm away and stormed out of the engine compartment. Visas had gotten into the doorway just before Genda, only to be knocked out of the way with his shoulder.

Alayna was embarrassed at what he did and rushed over to help her friend off the floor. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Visas asked as she accepted Alayna’s hand and was pulled to her feet.

“For what he just did. I expected more from Minoru.”

“You’re not responsible for his actions. He’s an adult, not a child.”

Alayna sighed and leaned her back against a bulkhead. “I was. I was his mother and I was the one who didn’t take responsibility for him. I know that he’s an adult, but I still feel that... what he does reflects upon me.”

“In what way? I can understand how a parent could be criticized for not bringing up their child properly, but you’ve had very little influence on who he has become. I know that and don’t hold anything against you.”

Alayna heard Genda and Tashi conversing in their quarters and tried to listen, but couldn’t make out their words. All she could hear was that Genda had been on the verge of tears. After his shouting died down, she turned her attention back to Visas. “You were right; Minoru’s not ready for training. I just told him.”

“It was for the best. There is so much anger and pain within him; the kind that would weigh upon a man his whole life. He may be angry now, but that will pass. And even if it doesn’t, you know that the fate of the galaxy is far more important.”

Alayna’s heart sunk upon hearing those words. She slid down to the deck almost as though her heart weighed her to the floor. “When you hear such words, it’s easy to believe you could never think such nonsense. I never realized just how much I could love him.” She forced in another breath and blinked back as many tears as she could. “I can’t have him here anymore. I need to forget him, but I can’t just abandon him again.”

Visas kneeled beside her. “So what do you intend to do?”

Alayna blinked back more tears, but couldn’t hold them all back. “The right thing. He’s learned to take care of himself and as soon as we find a suitable home for them... they will be in a much better place than they were before. And I’d feel better knowing that they’re safe.”

Visas made a concurrent hum. “Maybe he’ll find a home for himself on Dxun?”

“That... actually may be a good place for him. They would accept him, even being half Mandalorian, and he is already a very skilled fighter.” she chuckled. “And it would be a place where I could keep track of him. That’s a great idea.”

“If he wants that... and if she would stay with him.”

Alayna turned her head aside and rested it upon her wrist and went into deep thought. A part of her hated to see them depart so soon, yet she didn’t want to grow even more attached to them. Another part of Alayna knew that her attachment to Genda would have only caused more hardships when that was the last thing she wanted for him.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:03 PM   #50
Darth_Yuthura
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Chapter 11: Dxun

I think I already posted this and deleted it, but have modified it from its original form. So I'll call this a new, pre posted chapter.

-------

Dxun was the jungle world where remnants of the Mandalorian Empire have united under the standard of Mandalore. Although their numbers still measured in the thousands, Alayna remembered a time when there were only dozens. Although they fought to the death with one another for most of their history, both the Mandalorians and the Jedi maintained a weak, but stable alliance.

Alayna couldn’t escape the irony of two powerful dominions that were the Mandalorian Empire and the Jedi Order should shatter only a few years apart from one another. Although 20 years was an insignificant span of galactic time, Alayna could barely remember the time of relative peace that had been destroyed by the actions of one person; the Jedi, Revan. Ironically, he was also the one responsible for uniting the efforts of those longtime enemies.

Alayna slowly walked down the boarding ramp and was greeted by several Mandalorians. They were armed with blaster rifles, not simply for ceremonial purposes, but because they rarely walked without their weapons at hand. One figure stood out by his metallic armour, not adjunct with special designations or color. The helmet he wore was the symbol that allowed him to rally so many followers so quickly. Although she couldn’t see his face, Alayna knew it was still Canderous who wore the helmet. Few knew his real name, but even Alayna had to address him as Mandalore, like everyone else.

Alayna had Visas standing beside, but slightly behind her as the Mandalore greeted them. “It has been some time Jedi.”

“Yes it has.” She glanced in the direction of the new settlements in the distance. “I see you’ve been gathering followers since last we spoke.”

He sighed through his vocabulator. “That as may be, it’s still not a tenth the number who are still selling out their service as mercenaries. As dishonorable that is, we cannot afford to slay everyone who turns their back on us. Maybe with you around, things may change for the better.”

Alayna made a sound of acknowledgment. Genda and Tashi stood at the edge of the ramp as to not set foot on Duxun’s soil. She turned around to introduce them. “Visas, I assume your men will give her and my passengers the same respect they would me.”

“I want to make something clear to you, Jedi: respect is not given. It must be earned. We will provide protection so long as all your... guests stay within the boarders of the citadel. If they leave, they do so at their own risk and we are not obligated to save them if they are foolish. In addition, they will also have to provide for themselves or work for their provisions. Is that understood?”

Alayna crossed her arms. “These two are not Jedi and I would like them placed under your protection. If anything happens to them, I will hold you personally responsible.”

“And another thing: I’m the boss here, not you. For having your little Jedi-get-together, my debt to you has been paid. If you want these two safe, you shouldn’t have brought them to Dxun.”

Genda came up from behind and touched Alayna’s shoulder to get her attention. “It’s alright. I can watch out for both of us. Or we can stay with the ship.”

Alayna turned her attention back to Canderous. “Could you at least give them an escort to show them where to restrict their activities if they wish to look around?”

Canderous sighed again and turned his attention to another Mandalorian. “I assume you two know your way around. Dragus will show you two the areas where our boarders are secure, but there are places that are not safe from the wildlife on this moon. If you should encounter a beast...”

“I know. Bomas are attracted to loud noises. Zalgeths react to movement. Any others I should know about?” Genda finished.

They both turned to Genda, Alayna the more surprised of the two. “How much do you know about Dxun?”

“Only about some of the creatures. Not much more.” Genda answered.

Tashi got in front of him. “There are fierce animals here?”

Dragus took over. “Almost everything about this moon is deadly. In the settlement, you’re safe from the vegetation, but you’ll have to still watch out for beasts. If one should penetrate our boarders, we will deal with them. Otherwise, stay as far away, or you’ll either be dinner or infected with disease.” He gestured for them to follow.

Genda looked to Alayna and she nodded. “If you want to stay on the ship, but you can stay in relative safety with the Mandalorians if you wish.”

Dragus waved them to follow. “Follow me.”

----------

In the primary war room, Mandalore, Alayna, and Visas gathered to speak for the first time since they parted company six years earlier. In the years afterward, Alayna and Visas found many Mandalorians who were told of the settlement on Dxun and the establishment of a new Mandalore. Those that didn’t believe a Jedi were directly confronted by Mandalore himself. Those that still fought for honor returned with him. Those that didn’t were simply left to their activities.

Although Alayna had opened communications with Mandalore in the last few days, they did not directly establish a two-way conversation. For her services to the Mandalorians, Mandalore agreed to allow Alayna to organize a Jedi conclave on Dxun in the hope of uniting any surviving Jedi under one standard.

“So you just, without any idea where to start, decided to go out and search for Revan? Did you find anything at all?”

Alayna sighed and nodded. “We even know where he and the True Sith are. The problem is we can’t get to them.” Alayna and Visas took a moment to sit down. Mandalore knew she was going to explain why, so he didn’t ask. “I’m convinced that the True Sith are concentrated in the Abyss nebula.”

“The Abyss?” Canderous scoffed. “So much for that.”

“Well the nebula is navigable, but the range of sensors are so limited that it would take centuries to survey it if there are indeed worlds among the ionized gasses.”

“Even if there were, how could any be habitable? There are no stars, let alone planets.” Mandalore stated.

“I don’t know. We discovered an unusual planet orbiting a white dwarf star at the outskirts of the nebula.”

“Narayan? Yes, that world was one we conquered at one time. It was inhabitable, but it couldn’t have received enough light from its star to support life. There were also some strange citadels that were made of a seemingly indestructible material. My people tried to determine what it was about them that we could duplicate for our armour, but we couldn’t so much as analyze their properties.”

Visas continued. “It was the atmosphere of that planet that seemed to baffle us more. It supports life such as ours, but it receives much of its energy from the nebula. Unlike a star, the energy from the Abyss nebula significantly fluctuates and should have periodically suffered mass extinctions.”

“Well that’s all fine and interesting, but what does that have to do with Revan?” Canderous mocked.

“Those structures you spoke of are made from dark Force energy, but it has not corrupted the native inhabitants. We believe that they are what maintain the environment on that world. If that is so, then it could mean there are other planets within the nebula as well... planets that don’t orbit any stars, yet can sustain life.”

“So what does that mean for us?”

Alayna shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea. We couldn’t just dive in without any orientation. We studied the temples on Narayan, but could not learn anything that would suggest how to proceed. Over the last two years, we’ve been following whatever leads we could to try and find Revan instead, but he doesn’t want to be found and we hit another dead end.”

“Great. You know where the True Sith are, but they’re in a place you can’t reach. Revan knows the way in, but he is inside and didn’t even bother to tell us how to follow. For one as brilliant as Revan, he is just as foolish.”

Alayna leaned her head back. “We have done everything we could to find the source of the threat, but I decided that if we couldn’t do any more good trying to learn of our enemy; the only option I saw we had was to come back and help fortify the Republic as much as possible until I see reason to return to the Outer Rim.”

He nodded. “Well I can’t confirm anything about an attack on Dantooine, but I have not heard from any of your friends for some time. In the times that I did, things weren’t going so smoothly for them. I’ve also been aware of other Jedi across the Galaxy not associated with your group. I’ve also contacted the settlement on Dantooine and they say the Enclave was vacant... not that it was destroyed.”

“I don’t believe a Jedi would resort to an orbital assault. Was there any sign of an attack?“ Visas asked.

“Hey, if you want to see it for yourself, then go there. No one goes into that facility anymore.” Mandalore suggested.

“Alright. The point is that all we have accomplished for the Jedi has been torn down again. If there are any other survivors, we must all unite for the same cause and do whatever we can to regroup and decide how to proceed.”

Mandalore crossed his arms. “Are you sure this is worth your effort? I found that most Jedi are too rigid and not likely to deviate from your traditions... your rules... I think you’d have more trouble getting other Jedi to back your cause than just training new members.”

“Maybe. But I think that with the majority of the Council dead and so few of us remaining, they will have to realize that we must not rebuild the Order, but establish a new one completely. Many of the survivors abandoned the Order in the first place because they did not believe in what they represented. In creating a new Order, it will be us, its founding members, shaping it rather than forcing members to follow a rigid set of rules that lead to the destruction of the original.” Alayna explained.

“How do you expect that they will follow you? You are not regarded much higher than Revan most other Jedi, I’ve heard.”

“It won’t be me...” She turned and got right in front of Mandalore. “We need an arbitrator for this... I want you to be that leader.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You’ve got no stake in what we, the Jedi establish for this new Order. All that matters to you is that it is in both our interests to work together and a united group of Jedi survivors is your goal. That way, there would be no prejudice against anyone else. I and Visas would back you and hopefully, others would be willing to do so as well.” Alayna explained.

Mandalore was so surprised by the gesture that he spent several moments pacing around before turning around to face Alayna. “I don’t know how to handle Jedi even...”

“I would help you with that. I just need you to be a neutral party of which the others could follow. I’m not that person. Revan could have been, but not me. I want it to be you.”

Mandalore looked at Alayna for a long time before looking to Visas, remembering when the three of them were on the Ravenger; saving Telos. It seemed so long ago, yet the Galaxy was almost exactly where it was then, aside from the size of his army multiplying by a hundred times... significant to him, but still less than a hundredth the number Mandalore, the Ultimate once commanded. At that point, he was willing to take all the help he could get and agreed.

----------

Tashi and Genda walked alongside each other whenever they could, but most often having to walk single-file as Dragus lead them down some very narrow trails. He showed them the boarders of the security network where a force field could easily kill them if they wandered into it by accident.

Tashi often asked Genda about the kind of creatures he’s faced in the arena, but he focused his advice more on how to avoid them. She didn’t like constantly being reminded that she was expected to run if they were in danger while he would likely have run in the opposite direction. She knew not to go against his advice, but wished he would follow the same advice he gave to her.

At some point in the ‘tour,’ the three of them came into view of the battle circle. When Genda asked about how the Mandalorians trained, Dragus said it was open only to ‘real’ warriors and that few humans could challenge a Mandalorian hand-to-hand.

“But you’re half-Mandalorian. Surly you...” Tashi said before being shushed by Genda.

After a moment of being stared at by Dragus, he finally spoke. “Traditionally, we’ve discouraged inter-species mating, but because there are so few of us; any descendant of a Mandalorian is welcome to join us. As far as Mandalore is concerned, they are every bit a warrior as those with pure Mandalorian blood.”

“You don’t sound convinced.” Genda inferred.

Dragus hesitated to answer. “There are many who don’t agree with Mandalore. There is debate as to whether those with thinning blood become inferior with each generation, or they simply weren’t brought up as warriors like we have. If you are Mandalorian, you would be accepted, but don’t expect welcome from many.”

Tashi was very saddened to hear that. “Are you considering living with these people?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. I never really considered anywhere.”

Dragus suggested “If you were to prove yourself a warrior, that might earn respect, despite your bloodline. We respect strength, skill, and cunning more than anything else.” He gestured. “Why don’t you take part in the battle circle?”

Genda watched two Mandalorians fighting with different kinds of weapons... one melee and one blaster. “Tell me about this... is it training or a fight to the death?”

“It is forbidden to kill or seriously injure an opponent within the Battle Circle. It is meant to provide the best of what you get in battle, but nothing beyond training is allowed. Once an opponent steps out of the circle or surrenders, the match ends. Each battle depends upon what the opponents agree to before they even enter the circle. The challenger chooses the conditions and the one being challenged chooses the weapons.”

Genda looked to Tashi, who had never seen him train in the last year. “I guess I could see how well that goes.”

“There is no dishonor if you should stand down, but the sooner in battle you do, the less respect you’ll get; just don’t push yourself beyond your limits. You must also abide by the rules, or you will dishonor yourself and will be banned from the circle if you use an illegal weapon, don’t honor your opponent's surrender, or if you bring severe harm to your opponent inside or outside the circle. The only purpose is for training and we all must honor that tradition. Do you understand?”

“That’s all?” Genda asked.

Dragus gestured them to follow. “That is all, but there is nothing less than what I’ve told you. If you don’t abide by that, you are not allowed to enter the circle. Mistakes happen, but this is meant to allow battle under strict regulations so that both can train without fear of death or injury. We hold that in the highest regard.”

Genda smiled a little. On Sleheyron, the training was not anything like the arena, but it was not meant to suit each gladiator. Although there were deaths on rare occasion, there were often injuries that required medical attention long before they actually were treated.

Tashi was curious as to what he was going to face, but because he wanted to train, there wasn’t that much fear. She did have reservations about him facing Mandalorians, but she believed he had to be very capable. She didn’t believe many Mandalorians could have been able to fight as many times as Genda in the arena and still live. She was anxious, but didn’t say anything while Genda waited his turn.

When the next match was over, Dragus spoke with the sergeant of the battle circle, Bendeck, who approached Genda. Genda was shorter than the average Mandalorian, so just Bendeck’s height would have been intimidating enough, but Genda knew by his tone that he was disliked. “A half Mandalorian? If you are to participate in the battle circle, you are going to go up against veterans of the Mandalorian Wars. Are you prepared to do battle and abide by the rules we stated?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “How do I start?”

“I would suggest you start with Jarva. He’s our youngest and least experienced recruit, but he’s just a boy. If you wish want to start with an official participant, you could start out as a challenger.”

“Okay... how do I make a challenge?” Genda asked.

“You just make the challenge... Scroggins!” He shouted. From the crowd of faceless warriors came one wearing yellow armour. “Would you accept a challenge from this newcomer?”

“Why me?”

“You were the first name on the top of my head with some measure of honor.” He faced Genda. “Scroggins is about your age; do you want to make a challenge?”

“Alright, let’s start.”

“Then we’ll fight with just fist and foot. Nothing else.”

“Just fist and foot! Scroggins verses...” He faced the challenger.

“Genda.”

“Scroggins challenged by Genda! Step into the battle circle!”

Genda did as he was told, but he started slipping off his fiber armour vest as Scroggins got in a defensive stance. When the sergeant shouted them to begin, Genda shouted “Hold! Let me remove my armour.”

Bendeck stated “Armour is always permitted.”

Genda turned his attention from Scroggins to Bendeck. “If we’re wearing armour, then what’s the point?”

Scroggins made his complaint known. “What’s wrong? Are you looking for an excuse to get out of the battle circle? Just say so.”

Genda had turned around again and refastened his vest piece. Before Bendeck could shout for them to begin, he made the challenge first “Defend yourself!”

Genda went for Scroggins and the two collided with each other; Genda lowered himself to grab his opponent’s legs. Scroggins was running fast enough that he was tripped up and fell onto his chest. Genda pivoted off his knee and landed on top of his enemy to grab a leg with one arm and a shoulder with the other. Despite being pinned, Scroggins resisted. “Stay down! Stay down!”

After a few seconds, Bendeck shouted the match had ended in favor of Genda. “That is why armour is not restricted. You always make a sacrifice in speed and agility as you wear heavier protection. In defeating Scroggins, you have earned a small measure of honor.” He gestured two more combatants to enter the circle and for the last two to leave. “Next challenge is Bralor challenged by Thayer.”

Genda addressed Bendeck once he was out of the circle “I’d like to challenge Bralor after this.”

“Bralor is a champion of a previous day. He and most others would be too much for you to handle anyway. Just find someone and ask them... don’t come to me every time you need someone to hold your hand.”

Genda didn’t appreciate the comment and his ego got the better of him. Before he could talk back, Tashi grabbed his shoulder and he stopped there. When the two were out of earshot of the others, he complained to her. “This is unbelievable! They think of me as inferior, yet they don’t have the courage to fight me on equal terms!”

“Calm down. That was just one fight... and you won.”

He sighed and nodded. “I’m sorry. I guess that I’ve just gotten used to being treated with respect back on Sleheyron. No one would have talked to me like that.” He exhaled deeply. “Now I’m just going to be like everyone else again.”

Tashi knew that Genda was not saddened due to the other Mandalorians, but by his rejection as a Jedi. “Don’t you remember when you were in public’s eyes all the time? You were put up against impossible odds because you were a celebrity... you hated it.”

“Yes, it would have been nice... then.” He turned his attention to the opening, where untouched jungle grew beyond the force field. “You know a month ago, if I knew we would be standing here, free... nothing would have made me happier. Now I feel... small.”

She stared for a long moment before rubbing the side of his face. “But don’t you feel at least that much better to have your freedom again? I know you’ve wanted that more than anything. Is a ‘normal’ life really so bad?”

He sighed. “A normal life? A Jedi is as far beyond a normal life as a normal life is beyond that of a gladiator. As great it is to be free again, I cannot help wondering how much more I could have been if she had...” Genda said with anger becoming more apparent.

“So you can’t levitate objects. As remarkable as that was, what’s there to miss?”

He shook his head. “It wasn’t like that. In that moment...” He extended his hand out towards a vibrosword laying in the grass nearby. “...it felt like I transcended something. When I held that grenade in the air, it wasn’t thought, but something else entirely.”

“The Force?”

He nodded as he continued trying to move the sword with a power he couldn’t influence. “In that moment... it was like something opened itself to me. It was like I could feel the world around me like I felt my body.”

“Do you have any idea how strange that sounds?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I know how it may seem, but I felt as though my body was just a part of something much greater. I could feel you, the droid as it moved to try and kill you. I could even feel Faso somewhere in the palace, his guards, and... the more I lost myself to it, the more I felt I could control it all.”

Tashi stared, smiling at him as if mesmerized. “That must have been some vision.”

“It wasn’t a vision. It was like...” He sighed. “There is nothing I can compare it to. Nothing I’ve ever experienced was like that moment when I destroyed those droids. All I know is whatever it was, it felt... wonderful.”

Tashi didn’t know anything about the Force, but what Genda described sounded like a drug or pleasure. A part of her felt sorry that Alayna would not train him to use such power, but another was relieved that he would not become any more than ‘just a man.’ The more popular he became on Sleheyron, the less comfortable it was to be in his presence. As their future took shape, Tashi realized that what may have been best for him conflicted with what she wanted. Being a slave all her life, Tashi was not used to believing what she wanted mattered to anyone... even herself. All she felt she could do was let events unfold as they had to.

When Genda dropped his arm after not moving the sword, Tashi rubbed his shoulders to comfort his sense of loss. Before she could speak, a Mandalorian came up from behind them. “You said you wanted to challenge me?”

Genda turned around to see Bralor had an interest in him. “I don’t mean to... I just wanted to see how I compared to a full-blooded Mandalorian. Dragus said that I might earn their respect if I fought in the Battle Circle.”

“That may be true, but one could just as easily be dishonored or laughed upon. We believe you earn honor through battle... risking your life to fight for a greater purpose. The battle circle only earns serious respect if you have actually participated in battle and if you beat champions of previous days. Many here have the skills to fight, but have not yet tasted real battle. That is why we have two levels of champions; one is of those who mastered the skills for war, but are not honored as champions. The other is for those who have proven themselves when they did not know whether they would come back after a real battle. You may find some of our most skilled fighters forget their training and become scared when they see live shots meant for them.”

“I know what you mean. You can’t put much faith in a raw recruit, even if they seem capable. Some never get used to the actual thing. The best way to overcome that is to make them feel just as important as the other members of the group. When their lives are in danger, they just do whatever they can to stay alive. If they see a friend in danger, some throw themselves in the line of danger. It’s not courage so much as fear of being branded a coward by their friends, but it’s just as admirable.”

Bralor nodded. “If you want to prove yourself in the battle circle, just wait for your chance to accept a challenge when it’s offered. After that very brief fight of yours, you’ve shown that you are skilled. Odds are that others will challenge you the more times you prove yourself in the circle. The more challenges you get, the more often you can choose the weapons or conditions to your favor. You will not get respect for beating just one champion, but working your way up the chain. Just be patient.”

He nodded. “Thanks. I will. How far up the chain are you?”

“I’m a champion. You won’t get the chance to face me or others who have actually been in battle unless you’ve fought and proven yourself a champion of a previous day... that’s the official title you get.”

Tashi addressed Bralor. “Genda has already been through that... many times. Does that mean he’s already a ‘champion of a previous day’?”

“The conditions needed for the title are very strict. The conditions are that another champion who had witnessed you fight and believes you are worthy of the title has to verify your deeds. That I’m afraid isn’t flexible. We honor the traditions of separating trainees from veterans of war.”

Genda crossed his arms and stared walking away before Tashi held him back. “I assure you that he is more than worthy. Please just give him a chance.”

“I’m not calling you a liar, but our traditions are very strict. Unless you can find a champion who would sponsor you, you can only fight our recruits.” He looked around to see no one was watching. He then moved to Genda’s ear. “I think it might interest you to know that the Jedi you came with is a champion. She might be willing to sponsor you... if she finds you worthy.”

Genda’s face lit up with expectation. “Thanks for telling me.”

“Just be careful. You shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew. You could easily embarrass yourself if you challenge someone you can’t beat. I would suggest you fight and earn the honor you need from recruits so you can call the weapons and conditions. Otherwise, you will always fight on the champion’s terms.”

Genda smiled. “Thank-you. I’ll do that.”

Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 06-22-2009 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 06-22-2009, 08:57 AM   #51
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------(seven years ago)------

“You’re wrong. The Force is stronger with me now than it’s even been.” Alayna declared.

“You can feel the the Force, but you cannot feel yourself.” Vrook stated.

“He’s right; it’s the strength of your companions that you control. You must have noticed by now how your strength grew as the number of those you traveled with grew. Only when you opened yourself to others again did you find the Force after all those years in exile. We still do not sense anything from you, yet your control of the Force grows ever stronger. How can one who is dead to the Force harness its power?” Zez Kai Ell asked.

“You don’t know that! You never understood what happened to me; how could you make such conclusions?!” Alayna screamed.

“Because there can be no other explanation. You appear to us as a wound in the Force... a void... yet your surroundings fluoresce with its power. We can see no other explanation other than that you draw your power from those around you. Like the Sith we face, you are a parasite upon the Force, siphoning from the life energy of everyone around you.” Vrook stated.

“That’s called a Force Bond.”

“A Force bond is a symbiotic relationship; both sides benefiting in the exchange. You benefit from your companions... that is obvious. What do you give them in return?” Vrook asked.

Alayna opened her mouth as if to respond, but found that she could not answer that question. Her companions risked their lives many times. She only saved them after she put them into danger in the first place. There was nothing she gave them, Alayna thought.

“The more attachments you make, the more powerful you become. When Koonda was secured, I witnessed how you agonizing over the deaths of people you’ve only just met as if you had grown up with them.” Vrook resumed.

She scoffed. “So you’re going to use even that against me? That I cared?! They died under my leadership. They would not have followed me if I did not care for the well-being of those I commanded... and they would be right to do so.”

“You felt their loss so dearly because their deaths detract from your strength. But it goes beyond that with you... where these Sith we now face feed upon the death of others, you are like the opposite. You feed upon life and those you prey upon do not even realize your control over them.” Zez Kae Ell said.

“What’s worse is that even you do not realize it. We sought to conceal ourselves from the Sith, but you have gathered so many so strong in the Force that you cannot hide from the enemy anymore.” Kavar explained.

“Even as we speak, the Sith are on their way to Dantooine. You would have eventually lead them to us; but we had not anticipated that you would have revealed our presence so quickly. It is ironic that we had been ready to engage our enemy all these years, waiting for it to reveal itself. Now that it has... we are now ill-prepared to stand against it.”

“Then why have we gathered if not to fight them?” Alayna asked. As they looked at her, the Council silently said what she dreaded more than anything. In fear, she backed away. “No! You can’t be serious! I thought you wanted to rectify your past mistakes!”

Vrook sealed the door behind her. “Our final judgment remains, exile. You must leave, but you must leave without your tie to the Force. It is a punishment reserved for only a few, but as long as you can feel the Force, you are a threat both to yourself and everyone around you.”

Alayna nodded defiantly. “I will leave... but I will not submit to this.”

“This must be done. You are a danger to everyone around you.”

Kavar approached her. “I’m sorry, Alayna, but this is necessary.”

Alayna backed away from her longtime friend. “I don’t believe any of you... I can’t afford to! Either I prove you wrong and we go from here, or you prove yourselves right and we all die!” When Vrook raised his hand to put her into a stasis trance, Alayna took her lightsabers in each hand, but did not activate them. A part of her knew it was futile, but there seemed nothing else she could do other than resist and hope they would kill her before stealing the Force from her life. Alayna trembled and could barely stand, let alone fight. “I don’t want to fight, but I will not allow you to do this.”

Master Vrook, Kavar, and Zez Kai Ell all focused their effort to put Alayna in a stasis trance as quickly as they could. By the time she activated her lightsabers, Alayna had already been incapacitated, falling to the ground. As the three approached her to perform the severance, the doors behind were forced open and the hooded woman that Alayna knew then as Traya moved in to defend the helpless Jedi.

“She’s had enough of your dissembling!” She raised her hand and the three masters were thrown away like rag dolls. “She is under my protection and you will not harm her. You will not harm her ever again.” The old woman removed her hood to show her face.

“You?!” Vrook shouted when he reached his feet.

“What have you done to her?” Kavar demanded, anger in his voice.

“I? I have done nothing. It was this one who clung to life after the Force had abandoned her. It was Alayna Xanatos who learned to live in its absence. I merely taught her to hear it again.”

“Is this true... outcast? Do you not realize that she represents everything you claim to believe in?”

Barely conscious, Alayna raised her head to face the Council one last time. “I had no choice. You abandoned me. I knew who she was long ago, but...” Tears streamed down her cheeks as Alayna confessed to the crime Vrook accused her of. “I was desperate. I knew it was wrong, but... I couldn’t live without the Force.”

“I take it back. You are not simply misguided. You are every bit as dangerous as Revan ever was!”

Traya kneeled beside Alayna and stroked her hair. “You’re wrong, Vrook. Beat a Kath hound enough and it will eventually stop howling. It may even do tricks for you.” She stood up and confronted Vrook. “It took a decade before she turned against everything she valued... how long would you have lasted?” She raised her arm.

Vrook grabbed his lightsaber, but before he activated it, he dropped to the ground and screamed as if being eviscerated. The other masters moved to stop her, but Vrook had stopped screaming and she lowered her hand.

“That was but a taste of the horror she was forced to live with. I was hoping you would have lasted longer, but I did not come to administer pain... it is a far greater victory to make an enemy see through your eyes than to close theirs forever.”

“She is... difficult to see. She is like a shadow of the Exile.” Zez Kai Ell observed.

“Yes. Like her, the Force was stripped from me, but where it was forced upon me, she made a choice. What Alayna turned away from was the corruptive forces of Malachor V. It was because she feared what she would become that Alayna chose to sever herself from the Force rather than drown in the power of the darkside.”

Vrook was slow to get up, but he snarled at Traya as she spoke. “Don’t talk to us about the Darkside. All you have trained spread more evil across the Galaxy than Exar Kunn, himself.”

Traya gazed upon the three scornfully. “Even after witnessing everything you were entrusted with crumble into oblivion... if you want to blame me, then fine. Blame me!Blame Revan! Blame those who fought in the Mandalorian wars! Blame everyone except Vrook Lamar!” She turned her gaze across the room and away from them. “The blame was always ours, the masters. The difference between you and me was that I had the wisdom to see the flaws of our teachings... flaws that we would have passed on to our apprentices and theirs’ long after without knowing it.” She turned back to face the masters. “How could you ever hope to address the threat you faced? Zez Kai Ell, did you seriously believe that living on Nar Shadaa all those years would have compensated for your sin against Alayna? When she stood before you, begging your forgiveness, you should have defended her. To hell that she disobeyed the Council! To hell with what they decided! You knew she was suffering, yet you abandoned her and the Jedi. Even then, you were not beyond redemption. On Nar Shadaa, there was suffering all around, yet you blinded yourself to all that happened there. In ignoring their cries for help, you stopped being a Jedi and have no right to judge anyone here today.”

Zez Kai Ell ignited his lightsaber.

“As for you, Kavar... how could you ever hope to expect trust from your followers when one such as you would not stand for those dearest to you? Through such actions did your Order lose the cohesion that bound all Jedi to one another. You reaped the benefits of her sacrifices, but ignored Alayna when she needed you most. Before you judge her treachery, you must first pay for yours. When an enemy strikes at you, it hurts... but it at least is expected. When a friend turns their back on you, or worse... turns on you, it hurts more than to lose the Force.”

Kavar got in a battle stance after igniting his weapons.

Alayna weakly crawled to her hands and knees and weakly cried “Please... no more bloodshed.”

“With all the death you caused to get here, what does another matter anymore to you?” Vrook said as he ignited his saber as well.

“And you, Lamar, are the most hypocritical of them all. If you believed the Jedi shouldn’t have entered the Mandalorian Wars, you would have at least chosen a side. When Revan entered the war, it should have been your duty to go against him... you did nothing. Only after he dealt with the Mandalorian threat did you declare him a traitor and a rebel. You criticized one who gave you an answer to a threat, yet you provided no alternative of your own. Revan did what had to be done, yet even now, you believe that it was he who caused the destruction of your precious Order.” She moved closer to the three masters. “Only when your own interests were at stake did any of you act. You took refuge in your temples, commanding other Jedi to risk their lives for you like Fascists. Alayna Xanatos commanded authority because she put her followers before herself. ‘I’m always in front of you.’ Those are the words of a natural leader.” She put her right hand and the stump of her left wrist on her hips. “As instructors, we were to hold ourselves to a higher standard than that of our students. As you would pass judgment on her, I have come to pass judgment on you all.”

“This is your only warning: surrender now, or you will receive no mercy from us.” Kavar demanded.

“I am not here to fight. I had hoped you would have learned something since you cast us out, but I see that you would have sacrificed Alayna yet again. If you had learned the teachings born of the Mandalorian Wars... of all wars of all tragedies that screamed across the Galaxy... you might have saved yourselves from this fate! You, who have forever seen the Galaxy through the Force... see it through Alayna’s eyes.” She extended her hand one last time.

As their screams echoed throughout the chamber, the three finally understood the agony that they left Alayna to face alone, if only for a moment before they fell dead.
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:57 AM   #52
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Not realizing there where a load of chapter before your latest, I'd just like to say how good your writing is.

I seriously enjoyed reading it, I could almost feel the emotion portrayed through the writing. You deserve, if not a cookie, a pat on the back and a round of applause.
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:14 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Insignia_Enithma View Post
Not realizing there where a load of chapter before your latest, I'd just like to say how good your writing is.

I seriously enjoyed reading it, I could almost feel the emotion portrayed through the writing. You deserve, if not a cookie, a pat on the back and a round of applause.
Thank-you. You have no idea how good it feels to get compliments such as this.

This is my first fiction told from a third person perspective and I had no idea how well I could portray emotion under those conditions. I generally favor first person for the emotional response that I could portray, because I could put the reader in that character's place more easily; but that means the story is limited to only that character.
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:42 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by Darth_Yuthura View Post
Thank-you. You have no idea how good it feels to get compliments such as this.

This is my first fiction told from a third person perspective and I had no idea how well I could portray emotion under those conditions. I generally favor first person for the emotional response that I could portray, because I could put the reader in that character's place more easily; but that means the story is limited to only that character.
I know also as a author in the making the effects of compliment on the morality and determination to continue to write. I didn't think 3rd person emotions could be done so well... maybe I should stop writing stuff in 1st all the time...
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Old 06-22-2009, 11:45 AM   #55
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Chapter 12: Conflict

Genda had taken on several Mandalorian recruits with varying degrees of success. Some matches were quick while others were rather difficult. Genda had never faced an opponent with a melee shield and was perplexed when he saw a deflector screen that keep a vibrosword from harming his opponent.

The same screen that prevented physical objects from hitting the wearer protected him by redistributing the force of an impact. To follow the user’s movement, a number of projectors had to be placed along the body armour, but didn’t protect the wrists or fingers. There was enough room open at the hands to permit a blaster pistol to be held, but the screen didn’t extend beyond that.

When he raised his stun blaster to fire at Genda, the Mandalorian just stood in one place to get a clear shot. Genda took a hit to the chest, but the intensity of the blast was just enough to inflict intense pain. When he swung the sword and hit the shield, Genda was surprised by what he was up against. Before the opponent could fire again, Genda hit his opponent’s arm away to keep the blaster sight off of him.

The major benefit that a melee shield provided was that it didn’t restrict a soldier’s dexterity, but it couldn’t do any more than distribute the force of an impact. The emitters at the wrist and elbow took the impact of Genda’s sword and the Mandalorian couldn’t get a clear shot. He attempted to hit Genda with the other hand, but the shield protecting him also prevented him from delivering an effective punch. And in the struggling, Genda kept the sight of the enemy pistol from finding his body.

When Genda realized that the shield didn’t extend over the Mandalorian’s feet, he realized the best way to attack his opponent. Stepping on one foot and swinging his sword for the other startled the Mandalorian and he backed out of bounds from the Battle Circle.

When Bendeck called the battle in Genda’s favor, he sounded as though genuinely stating that Genda was truly the winner. “An excellent match. It is highly discouraged to leave the Battle Circle or to throw your opponent out, but getting him to step out of bounds on his own earned you much credit. I must say that you did well this day. You may continue to challenge others again, but you won’t earn any more honor unless you fight a champion of a previous day.”

“Why don’t recruits train against Champions, if I may ask?”

“That only applies to the Battle Circle. You may do so at any time, but no one who hasn’t tasted battle are qualified to earn further honor through the Battle Circle. When a Champion is willing to sponsor you, then you may do so. Until then, you’ve fought well this day.”

Genda felt better after it was over. He remembered the first times he trained on Sleheyron and how he his peers treated him. It took a long time before he was given respect. By then respect didn’t matter that much anymore, as he knew how capable a fighter he had become. As he found himself among full-blooded Mandalorians, he wondered if he survived because of his genes or his skills.

It was late in the day, but Tashi watched Genda in action for the first time she’s known him. It was strange that in all the time she’d known him, Tashi never really saw him fight in the arena. She felt better knowing that he wasn’t fighting to the death, but it was still unpleasant to watch him take punishment. When he finally stepped out of the battle circle, she was relieved and glad to see him smile. “You heard that? It sounded to me like respect.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I must admit I feel a little better knowing that I wasn’t just a champion on Sleheyron. That may mean something to the rest of the Galaxy. I was almost expecting to be beaten a few times.”

“You were amazing. I’ve always wondered how good you really were.”

He shook his head. “There’s one thing that comes from having a perfect record; each victory gets harder because you know it’s only a matter of time before you’re beaten. At least I proved to them that a ‘half-blood’ can show them a thing or two.”

Tashi noticed something else was bothering him. “Is that what that was about? What does it matter what these troglodytes think of you?”

He sighed and tilted his head back, watching the clouds drift across the sky. “I don’t know what to do. I mean... we’re free now, but I don’t know where to go now. I don’t know how we’re supposed to make a living. All I’m good at anymore is fighting and killing.”

She reluctantly nodded. “And that’s something these people look highly upon. Is that something you’re interested in?”

He shook his head and looked back to her. “Faso... when he threw me into the arena... I just did what had to be done to survive. I didn’t give the other slaves a second thought. As I became better and better at killing, Faso loved me more and more... for making him credits.” He sighed. “Do you know how many have died because of me? Slaves... who impaled themselves upon my blade because of the whips of their masters from behind. And they cheered because of it.”

“That was wrong.”

“And yet it never stopped. Faso kept throwing me in and it didn’t matter what happened to me, so long as I gave him the greatest return on his investment... that’s all I ever was. Just property to do with as he desired.”

“That’s over now.”

“No, it’s not! Billions more are still under the brutal heal of their masters and no one is ever going to help them.”

She held his shoulders in an effort to comfort the troubled youth. “Genda, I wish you would stop. There’s the way things should be and the way things are. That’s how it is and you can’t do anything to change that.”

He continued staring elsewhere. “Yes, I can. I must. I hate the Hutts... they must not be allowed to deprive another of their right to live. If I’m able to fight, then I must fight them.”

“Would you get a hold of yourself? If you’re foolish enough to go back, you’d just be captured again. And after that, you’ll be right back where you were six years ago.” She scoffed. “In fact, it probably would have been better if you had just died the first time you were thrown into the arena!”

Tashi turned and walked off, leaving a stunned Genda behind. Alayna had been watching Genda’s last fight from another location and heard the conversation he and Tashi shared. When she was out of earshot, Alayna came up from behind. “You have some skill with a blade.”

Genda turned around, still bitter at Alayna for refusing to train him to use the Force. “Yeah, I didn’t want to die. I knew that to survive, I had to train as hard as possible. That’s the only reason why I’m still alive; because I committed myself more than everyone else.”

Alayna recognized by his tone what he really wanted to say. Although unspoken, she could tell that he blamed her for everything that’s happened on Sleheyron. Although she believed it just as much as Genda, she wouldn’t let herself be bullied in that way. She replied with a gentle tone. “It’s over now. You’re alive. Tashi is alive. You have your lives back... thanks to you.”

“Yeah, it’s because I can’t seem to count on anyone else.” He folded his arms across his chest in an aggressive manner.

“Do you still blame me for what happened to you on Sleheyron?”

“No...” he sighed, knowing that he didn’t sound very convincing. “It’s just... You said that you wanted to take responsibility as my mother. Did you mean that?”

She kept silent for a long moment until he looked into her eyes. “I do.”

“Then why do you deny me this?” he said, referring to becoming a Jedi.

She stared into his eyes, almost as if to study why he wanted that power so much. She had seen many children chosen to train as Jedi and most were simply so fascinated by the power that they could hardly think of anything else. A few who had been bullied saw the Force as a means to hurt them back. There were no rules written in stone that listed the restrictions for selecting a person to train them to use the Force, but children usually were the most suited to learn the ways of the Jedi. It was not so much a matter of age, but how malleable the mind was is to accepting new ideas.

Alayna remembered how she felt when she thought of training Genda. Almost as though she found a way to make up for everything that’s happened, training him may have presented her with an opportunity to become his mother again. It had been nearly two decades since they shared each other’s breaths, felt each other’s heartbeat, and yet she cared for him deeply.

She remembered a time when she used to think she understood love, but Alayna faced that she never really understood how powerful a mother’s love could be. Having him back again made her feel emotions that gave her great joy... and seeing how he’d grown up and developed without her was painful. She knew that it was wrong of her as a Jedi to have those feelings, but it was her feelings as a mother that she made her choice.

“Genda, please believe me when I tell you... nothing would have given me greater joy than to train you; to see you become a Jedi and use the Force. But I’m afraid for what might happen to you if I did.”

“What are you talking about? Is it dangerous?”

She sighed and realized that they weren’t in the best place for that kind of conversation. At least one Mandalorian had been watching the two speak while passing by. “This isn’t the right place to speak of that. Why don’t we go back to the Ebon Hawk and I'll explain to you my reasons for it.”
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Old 06-26-2009, 12:55 PM   #56
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Chapter 12A:

When she and Genda gathered in the Ebon Hawk’s cargo hold with T3, Alayna asked the droid to replay the recording of her trial by the Jedi Council.

Genda looked at the holo projections light up before facing Alayna. “Your trial?”

“Yes. The Force can lead to wondrous possibilities, but it also has an ugly side that few ever consider. I know that you are disappointed with me, but... I hope that you can... understand my reasons a little better by knowing more of how you came to be.”

“I was born because of this?”

“Please... just watch.”

The little droid generated a projection of the members of the High Council and a much younger version of Alayna as she entered the field of view. Genda noticed that Alayna had a look about her unlike anything of the woman he knew. “You...? You look different somehow.”

“This happened just after my tie to the Force had been severed. I was devastated, broken, and suffering terribly. When one becomes dependent on the Force, losing it can be worse than death. In the recording, Master Vrook began by calling the woman in the recording ‘Alexandra.’ When Genda looked to her, she spoke over the recording. “That was my name once. After this, I wanted nothing of that life or of myself. I had also made many enemies and didn’t want anyone to find me.”

They watched as she went back and forth with each Council member, Alayna explaining everything that Genda wouldn’t have known. She felt it was important for him to understand what she’d been through. As the recording began to draw to its close, Alexandra showed desperation and panic as the Council gave her their verdict. “Please! I was just trying to save as many lives as possible.”

“You only returned because you lost your connection to the Force. There was no other reason.” The projection of Vrook declared.

“No... yes. But I would have returned anyway to face your judgment.” Alexandra answered.

Alayna spoke to Genda. “I was lying when I said I was wrong to go to war. I would have confessed to anything just to get them to help me. They couldn’t tell, but I would have returned, if only to justify why I defied them.”

“Are they... did they help you?”

Alayna just stared at the projection of her in tears, feeling that way every time she watched the recording, but having shed all the tears she had long ago. Genda could almost see the pain within her as it was 18 years ago as she stared at herself and whispered, “No.”

The way she spoke that one word seemed to indicate to Genda the hidden strength that Alayna possessed. He didn’t really understand what was going on, but he saw something more about Alayna than he ever had before. He turned to watch the rest of the recording as Alexandra broke down in tears. “Please! Exile me, imprison me if you must, but don’t leave me like this!”

“You’ve shut us out and now shut yourself out to the Galaxy. For your crimes, you are fortunate to be leaving here at all.”

Alayna spoke again. “I would gladly have accepted any kind of punishment, so long as they healed my connection to the Force. I hated them for what they did... why they did it. Two of the people here were my friends. None of them stood up for me.”

“There is one last thing: Surrender your lightsabers.” Vrook said.

“I already gave you everything I had! How dare you ask yet for more?!” Alexandra screamed.

“That was the final insult to me. The lightsaber is the most important possession of a Jedi. I was a stain to their reputation and they just... didn’t care anymore.” Alayna said.

The recording continued. “You will not carry the symbols of the Jedi away from this place. Give them up, or we will take them from you.”

Alexandra walked out of the holocamera’s range after answering that they had to stop her. When Kavar stood up, Alayna asked T3 to fast forward to the last minute. “Master Kavar was my friend and he didn’t want me to leave, but wouldn’t explain why he didn’t defend me. He said that all our long years... would I have trusted him if he said it was for a good reason.” she turned to Genda. “I know that we are not that close. I assure you that the last thing I would want is to hurt you further... which is why I don’t want to see something like this happen to you... or worse.”

Genda stared at the hologram of Alexandra ignite her lightsabers and drive them into the center stone. “When you have healed the stone and your hearts, maybe one day, I will return.”

Alayna said one last bit about her words. “I destroyed the words ‘Truth’ and ‘Justice’ for they were deprived of me that day.”

As the holo recording died out at Alayna’s request, Genda had started crying. Partly it was for his mother, but also for something that had been deprived of him. She let him cry on her shoulder and held onto him. “The Force is not always the gift it is thought to be. The sadness you feel... and maybe the resent you must feel for me will pass. I’ve never gotten over what happened to me that day.”

“Please... I want to learn to use the Force. I want to know what you feel. I want to have your strength.”

Alayna had heard such words before, but never did anyone say they wanted to know what she ‘feels.’ That had caught her attention. “What would you do with it? What makes you desire so much for this power?”

“I want to go back and save our children. Faso took them from Tashi... he forced them from her. I want to go back and save them. He would only have them fight like me to entertain. To people who don’t care what happens to their slaves... who treats them like property.”

“I can do that instead.” She pulled him away. “And I will... if that’s what it takes.”

“No. I have to do it. I would not ask anyone else to risk their life for them.”

Alayna saw great resolve in him as he spoke those words. “Minoru... we will get them back. I think that if we simply made a good enough offer, we could save them without risking anyone.”

He didn’t give her a confident stare. “Do you have any idea how much he would ask for them?”

“A fortune, I know. But if that’s what it takes to get them back safely, it’s worth it to me.”

Genda simply stared at Alayna, partly amazed at how much Alayna was willing to give for the safe return of their children; but a part of him was not satisfied to hear that Alayna would give Faso everything that he wanted for his children. “Alayna... you cannot possibly be able to buy them from Faso. He once said that he regretted not selling me when I was in my prime. He said that I lost value, as I didn’t entertain crowds anymore, but that Tashi...”

As he spoke, they were interrupted by a Mandalorian who had was at the foot of the boarding ramp. “Jedi, Mandalore demands your presence immediately.”
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Old 07-10-2009, 03:44 PM   #57
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Chapter 13: The Darkest of Truths

Alayna did as she was told and reported to Canderous. He had been on the comm system speaking with Visas on the other end. Alayna had not known Visas was outside the settlement, so she was surprised to see her on the screen. “Visas... what’s wrong? Where are you?”

Mandalore gestured her to take his seat and took his leave. “I’ll let you two catch up on the gossip, but try to make it brief. I’ve got some real work to do.”

When the door was sealed behind him, Visas answered the question she was asked. “Forgive me for leaving the settlement without your permission, but I felt it was important to find out what happened to the others on Dantooine.”

“You’re there now?”

“Yes. A freighter was en route to Raxus Prime and the crew said they could make a slight detour to deposit me here.” Visas answered. “I’ve been through the enclave and there was no indication of an attack. It looks as though it’s been abandoned for some time.”

Alayna sighed and closed her eyes as she heard the confirmation that all their efforts from five years ago was indeed lost. “I figured as much. There never was much hope.” She lowered her head and let the news sink in. A part of her was relieved to hear that the enclave wasn’t attacked, or that her companions were dead. And yet it gave her little comfort to not know exactly what happened to them. If Visas found dead bodies, then it could have given Alayna some measure of conclusion. It was a terrible thing not knowing whether someone was dead or not.

Alayna didn’t like losing friends, but not knowing what happened to them left open the possibility that they might still be alive. As much as she would have wanted to see them again, Alayna assumed that they were dead. All that Visas had done was give Alayna hope, but hope was all that she was left with.

“Alayna... they could still be alive. I haven’t done a thorough search yet.”

She sighed a breath of great sadness. “Visas, I appreciate your concern, but we’re no better off than before. If they had died, I would have sensed it. Did you think that I wouldn’t have returned if I wasn’t sure?”

Visas’ brow had been obscured by a tiara, but even that didn’t hide her reaction. The way Alayna spoke to her was much like the way that her old master would have. Nonetheless, she did answer. “There is a reason for why I’m contacting you now. I found a personal message for you.”

“A message? What did it say? Who from?” she anxiously asked.

“I did not view it myself. The message was specifically for you and I chose to respect your privacy. I thought you would want to see it as soon as possible, which is why I have it ready to transmit at your request. Would you like me to upload it to you now, or would you rather wait until I return to see it?”

Alayna hesitated for a moment before realizing how important it was to know what became of her friends. She found that ever since the Council told her that she was a wound in the Force, it had become much too painful to be with them. She also felt that it might have been easier just to leave the past behind and not look back, but Alayna knew that doubt would forever gnaw at her. “Please send me the message.”

Visas’ fingers swept across the controls to input the proper command to send it. Unlike a being with eyes, Visas kept her head fixed where it was instead of looking down to her fingers, where eyes normally would be drawn to. Alayna still marveled at how Visas could read the controls with only the Force. Alayna could barely distinguish shapes, let alone digital signals. “I will continue to investigate the ruins. It may not matter to you, but I think it’s important to know what happened to the others.”

“Of course... thank-you for contacting me. If you don’t mind, I would like to see that message in private. Otherwise, you may view it yourself.”

“Thank-you. You may contact me on this same channel if you need to get back to me.” Visas answered. “They had restored the communications systems here before they left.”

“Left?” Alayna asked. “There’s more going on than you’re telling me.”

“I haven’t finished investigating yet. When I have more to report, I’ll get back to you. I just wanted to transmit that recording. I hope that it gives you some peace.”

Before Alayna could could respond, the transmission was cut and a new screen came up with the template for a holographic recording. It was addressed to Alayna and created almost three years ago. She stared at the screen for a long moment as she tried to build up the courage to play it. A gut-wrenching feeling came to her and she literally couldn’t stand, the feeling in her legs completely numb. She managed to pile herself into a chair, dreading what was impending. She didn’t know what she was going to learn, but she knew it had to be bad.

When she extended her arm to the controls and tapped the panel, the holographic projector behind her came to life and she pivoted her chair to watch. It was Mical who made the recording and his figure was projected above the imager. He looked like hell, not just physically, but down to the saddest look he had ever given her. Of course he had been staring into a holo camera while doing the recording, but she knew that he was looking into her eyes three years later.

Sighing deeply, shaking his head, Mical looked up again. “This message is for Alayna Xanatos. I hope that it is you who finds this.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I still remember when we first met, almost twenty years ago. I was only a child then, but I felt as though I could see my future as a Jedi and you as my master. When you left for war, and I confronted the reality that I was just a foolish child with too much imagination.”

He turned his attention away from the holo imager and folded his arms over his chest. “But no matter how much I tried to get on with my life, I just felt that I was meant to have been with you. It just seemed that our destinies were intertwined, but that fate just wasn’t on our side.” He turned his attention back towards Alayna and slowly smiled brilliantly. “But on that day you found me...” he gestured around. “...in this very chamber in fact, I realized that was exactly how I was meant to be with you. Not as your student, but as your friend.”

After a pause, he looked down and his expression turned grim. “Those two months, I’ll never forget. I record this in the event that you should return here. In the months after you left, I tried my best to hold the Order together, but...” he sighed and looked up “...my best wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t good enough. What’s worse is that I knew it when you asked me to take your place all those years ago. I had not understood your reasons for leaving, yet you had never lead us astray...”

As she listened to Mical speak, Alayna felt a pain within her intensifying as he complimented her ever so highly. She couldn’t believe that after all she had done, that he could still give praise for the responsibility she handed him. By that point, she knew that the others simply went their separate ways. And if Alayna’s companions broke apart without her

Mical’s words disrupted her thoughts. “...I had hoped in time that I would, but I’m afraid I acted too late. I should have known better than to assume that I could effectively instruct the others, even though I wasn’t a master, myself. I should not have taken it on faith that we could rebuild the Order without you. Alayna... I am sorry that I now leave you a shattered Order. I should not have accepted a responsibility that I could not handle two years ago. But I have and now I believe the best course of action is for the remaining three of us to pursue our own paths. Brianna is going to take responsibility for securing all the Jedi artifacts on Telos and to keep a watchful eye on Atris. Alastria is going to be working with Admiral Onasi to locate other surviving Jedi. As for me... I am going to come looking for you. Revan is important, but so are you. I only hope that I find you before you find this message. Otherwise I urge you to resume the role you left behind and gather the others again.”

As he drew to his close, Alayna began to cry. A part of her wanted nothing more than to run away from the responsibility that was upon her, but in the back of her mind echoed the words of the Council from five years ago. It was the primary reason why she parted with her friends after that, but Alayna still had not known that she was in denial. Mical’s words seemed to drive the cold, hard truth into her like a Pontite crystal.

“It was not for restoring the Order that we gathered; it was you. It was for you that I wanted to learn the ways of the Force. It was because... it because I love you that I follow you now... even if I am not likely to return...”

Alayna couldn’t bear to hear anymore and slapped her hand down upon the control panel, deactivating the hologram. She was mortified; more so than she had ever been in her life. The horrible sensation in her gut left the tormented Jedi hunched over the control panel, barely able to hold herself up as she prostrated to her knees.

Alayna’s thoughts became flooded with so much emotion, so much chaos, and so much disorientation that she felt trapped in a maelstrom of torment. Alayna didn’t know exactly whom she felt sorry for, whether it was herself, Mical, or anyone else she ever called ‘friend;’ but his words of affection cut deep into her soul. It was as though she lived in denial for so long that that accepting the truth was as difficult as accepting that 2+2=5.

Alayna had not contacted her friends since she departed, five years ago, but she had known that the new Jedi Order was gone. Since returning to Republic space, she had actively sought to avoid learning the truth, knowing both outcomes were going to be bad. Confirming that her friends had been killed would have been painful, but what Alayna discovered instead tormented her more greatly.

It was rather ironic that she wouldn’t have wanted any of her companions to die, Bao-Dur, Mira, Atton... and yet it was learning that they lived that caused her such anguish... confirming that she dominated them and that they stopped following her after they parted ways. Alayna had been breathing heavily, almost to the point of hyperventilation. Alayna couldn’t deny it anymore and openly admitted the truth to herself. “They were right.” she whispered, ever so gently.

Somewhat unconvinced, she gasped another breath much more sharply and repeated herself, this time with utter defeatism in her tone. “They were right all along, but I can’t... I just can’t!”

As Alayna broke into tears, she realized that it was simply impossible to live a normal life without bringing devastation upon other people’s lives. It was her connection to the Force that caused such destruction, and yet Alayna knew that she could never bring herself to live without it again. She had come to depend upon it much more than before, but even if she could, Alayna would never sever her own tie to the Force.

---------

Safely navigating the jungle trails of Dxun at night was nearly impossible, even for the most seasoned Mandalorian warrior. There was already an abundance of predators and hazardous rooted organisms in daylight, but the shroud of darkness only intensified the danger. The wildlife on Dxun were mostly predators, but few beasts that seemed to have a comparative advantage over any of the others. Most predators and their prey could tell when the other was close, even in the dark; so stealth wasn’t something either could rely on. The vegetation had grown so wild that some species could eat cannoks whole, spread pollen that infected victims in order to evolve, everything about the planet was hostile.

Regardless, Alayna hadn’t the least bit of concern as she treaded through the jungle without any fear of the dangers around her. She was in so much emotional turmoil that she hardly noticed that an intense storm had developed. She had already been drenched by the downpour of rain, but it only became more intense. In the distance she could see a source of light. It didn’t seem to lead in the direction of the Mandalorian settlement, but it was clearly artificial. She just assumed that it was and followed that one bright light amongst nearly perfect shadow. She didn’t activate her lightsaber because certain beasts were attracted to bright light; she could see well enough through the Force to make her way to the source of the light.

It was a Mandalorian bunker that served as a weapon cache during the war. Apparently it had been renovated for a new use within Canderous’ settlement, which explained why it was alive with power. Alayna sighed in frustration, as she didn’t find the settlement, but was relieved to find shelter from the rain. Just having a roof over her head seemed so much nicer than not, so she took refuge within.

She saw some machinery inside that would have suggested sensor and/or communications equipment, a portable power generator, and crates of rusted junk that weren’t worth salvaging. The lighting inside was very dim, but they activated when Alayna entered the bunker and flickered as they struggled to stay alive with power.

Alayna let loose her hair and wrought it out as much as she could, her cloak before wrapping herself back in it, peeled her boots off, and then collapsed near the machine that generated the most excess heat. It felt so good to be out of the rain, despite being chilled to the bone; but it wasn’t long before doubt began to gnaw at her again.

Alayna had thought much about those few months she spent with Darth Trayus, or Kreia she had called the old woman. She remembered that in their last few moments together, Trayus spoke of the future and utterly believed in her prophecies. She just couldn’t imagine the Trayus might have been wrong. She remembered how foolish the Council were to trust so much on Master Vandar’s ‘vision’ when the Republic was crumbling to the Mandalorian war machine. After her experience in the last few years, she knew she was right... because she did exactly that by ignoring her better judgment and suffered for it.

As she recalled everything the Council said on that fateful day they died, Alayna had remembered what Visas spoke of which made her dismiss their judgment. She had explained in great detail why she and her friends traveled with Alayna... they all did so by choice. Each one of them seemed to have a valid reason for following her which hadn’t been influenced by the Force. She wanted nothing more than to believe that the Council were wrong yet again, but it just seemed as though it would have been easier to have just surrendered a long time ago. She didn’t have to go to the Mandalorian Wars, lose the Force, and get it back only to become a parasite upon others.

Alayna had often put her life in danger in order to protect the innocent, but there was something different about the situation she found herself in. She had lived 10 years without the Force, but it flowed through her again like never before. When the last of the Jedi Council told her what she was and that she was a danger to all life, Alayna had shut them out without having considered that they were right. She feared living without the Force again, yet the guilt she felt became excruciating. Alayna didn’t want to control others as she has. She just wanted the right to feel the Force again, but she realized that her gift came at too high a price.

Having survived without it for ten years, Alayna knew that she could not bring herself down to such mediocrity again. Even if she could sever her own tie to the Force, Alayna didn’t think that she could. For the sake of all life, she unclipped her lightsaber and stared at it for a painfully long moment. Some of the droplets of water which collected on the metal agglomerated around her fingers and streamed down to her wrist.

Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she slowly brought the weapon to her chest. Just having it to her heart brought her fear to another level that she didn’t expect. Panting with irregular and intense breaths, Alayna didn’t want to die, but living without the Force again just seemed so much worse.

----

What felt like an eternity to Alayna had actually been only minutes and her panting returned almost to normal breathing. She slowly moved her thumb over the trigger and touched the plate, just enough to feel the texture. Before she applied pressure, Alayna heard activity outside and it drew enough of her attention that she moved her thumb away. A few seconds later, she heard panting and footsteps splashing mud that were drawing closer.

When the footsteps hit the duracrete, they produced the sound that came only from booted feet, but she barely took notice. It wasn’t until she heard her name spoken in a familiar voice that she opened her eyes and twisted her head just enough to glance upon him and turned away again. “Get out of here, Minoru.” she spoke ever so softly.

He drew in a little closer, just enough to see the lightsaber. “Alayna, what are you doing?”

“Please.” she whispered.

Finding Alayna as she was bewildered Genda. She was so wise and poised that it didn’t seem she would ever resort to something like that. He didn’t do as she commanded, but cautiously treaded closer. “Alayna... Mother... you don’t want to do this.”

She closed her eyes and gently shook her head. Her face had already been damp, but Genda saw the tear that streamed down her cheek among the droplets of condensation. She forced in another breath and whispered back “Believe me, I don’t want this.”

He stepped up to Alayna and kneeled before her. “Would you please put that away?”

She held the lightsaber tighter in her grip. She didn’t wish to kill herself right in front of her son, but as she tried to grasp her situation, she was left wondering why Genda ventured that far into the jungle. “Hold on... why are you here? How did you find me??”

“I... don’t know. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just felt that I had to leave the settlement. I guess that I was lucky to find you.”

Hearing those words, Alayna wailed. “I drew you to me!” Having her own son under her control seemed like another dagger through her heart. She became so distraught that all the muscles in her body yielded. The lightsaber slipped from her grip and rolled onto the floor.

Genda took the weapon and moved it beyond her reach. It gave him little relief, as Alayna sprawled upon the floor, sobbing in agony. He didn’t know why she was so upset, but knew when someone was willing to take their own life... it had to be bad. He kneeled beside the woman he had known only for about a week, but held her as though they had been together for a lifetime. “Mother... what’s wrong?”

His touch seemed to comfort her more than anything in that moment. It was truly the first time he opened up to her as a son to his mother and it made her heart ache to realize just how much she had lost. Alayna lifted her face from the floor to look into her son’s eyes. “I’m so sorry I brought all this upon you. If I had known where you were, I swear I would have gone back for you.”

Although he didn’t doubt her sincerity, he knew that wasn’t why she sought death. “It’s alright. Everything ultimately worked out in the end.”

She shook her head. “You remember the reason I said I wouldn’t train you? I said that once you learn to feel the Force, you come to depend on it.”

He gently nodded.

She closed her eyes and forced herself to admit it to herself and to him. “I leave a trail of broken lives wherever I go. When I act, others follow. Through the Force, I manipulate people into doing my bidding without them being aware of it.”

“What? You mean that Visas... she’s your slave?” He said, repulsed.

Alayna shook her head erratically. “It’s not like that. I can’t control it. If I could, I would do anything to stop it... I can’t.” She looked into his eyes. “I just can’t!”

He brushed his hair back, which was drenched by rain and thought for a moment. “Is that why you’re doing this?”

She took a few deep breaths before giving him an answer, but not to the question he posed. “The only other solution is to sever my tie to the Force.” She shook her head as more tears came. “I can’t go through that again.”

Genda didn’t know that much about the Force, but Alayna had warned him about becoming dependent on it earlier that day. What she had been going through might have been exactly the reason why she didn’t want to train him. “Look, I don’t know what you’re going through, but whatever it is, you don’t deserve to die.”

She shook her head. “I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was doing it to protect you, and everyone around me.”

“Did you just come to this conclusion? How do you know that to be true?”

“About five years ago, I was told by the last survivors of the High Council that I was a wound in the Force... that’s a bad thing. They said that I was a threat to everyone around me and they tried to sever my tie by force.” She sighed, stood up to move towards the doorway, and folded her arms as she watched the rain, despite almost being pitch dark outside.

Genda went to stand beside her. “What happened after that?”

“Someone intervened in order to save me. I thought they were wrong and I never doubted myself, but I just learned that my friends weren’t dead.” She looked to Genda and remained silent for a long moment. “I traveled with a group of friends who formed a strong team when they worked together, but when I left, they fell apart.”

Genda looked at her with a degree of confusion. “Why did you leave them? I know that you were looking for someone, but why did you leave and never return? Visas told me that you didn’t even keep in contact with them.”

Alayna gently shook her head. “You wouldn’t understand.”

Genda believed what she said, but still wanted her to share it. “You don’t sound too sure of it yourself.”

Alayna stared at him for a long moment before letting herself sag against the edge of the doorway. “No, I suppose I really don’t. Sometimes, Jedi can see glimpses of the future. When confronted with such precognitive visions, we tend to let them dictate our future instead of using our own good judgment.”

He gently put his arm around his mother and helped lower her to the floor, him sitting beside. “What was supposed to happen?”

She exhaled deeply. “I really have no idea where to go at this point. When the High Council told me about what I did to others, I dismissed it out of hand. Visas had told me why my friends followed me and I believed her, but now...”

Genda stared at Alayna for a long moment as it was the first time he ever saw her in utter bedlam. She always seemed to display modesty and humility, but otherwise always seemed to know what to do and never seemed to doubt herself. To see her in ruin like she was in the holo recording was difficult for him to witness. “Why don’t we go back? I don’t know anything about the Force, but I know there must be another way. You’re in despair. Whatever you’re going through, you must think that death would allow you to escape all that... it won’t.”

Alayna looked at Genda, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“There was a time on Sleheyron that I felt I couldn’t live knowing that it was only a matter of time before I was killed in the arena. When Tashi told me that she was pregnant... it was one of the worst moments of my life. I could not escape because I knew my death wouldn’t help Tashi or the child. It was like I was trapped and had no escape but to stay alive.”

She looked back to him with tears over his experience. “I’m so sorry.”

“No, there’s a point to this. For five years, I’ve lived each day thinking I was going to die the next time. That in itself was bad enough when I had to worry about my own survival, but when Tashi told me; I started worrying more for her than for myself.”

Alayna smiled. “That’s sweet of you.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “She’s a special woman.”

“You know... I really don’t know all that much about you two. If it’s a private matter, I won’t ask again...”

“What would you like to know?” He asked.

“How did you come to be her master?”

“My own master, Faso, allowed me to have a personal servant. I liked Tashi, but she was one of the more expensive slaves, but since I made Faso so much money for him, he just did it to keep me happy.”

“How long ago was that?”

He sighed and leaned his head back to think. “About a year... two maybe.”

Nervously, she asked “When were you two... intimate?”

He had an odd smile on his face. “That first night.”

Alayna looked away, a bit uncomfortably. “Oh... I didn’t know it was like that.”

He hesitated. “Well Faso gave her to do with as I pleased and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I didn’t believe I was cruel or anything, nor that it wasn’t of her consent... That went on for about a month; eventually she got pregnant.” He sighed. “She terminated it early.”

“I’m sorry.”

He shook his head. “She went behind my back to do it and I realized that it was because... she didn’t want a child, not with me. I originally had some false sense that we had something, but realized that she was only doing her duty and nothing more. After that, I had a word with Tashi to make it clear that I didn’t want her to do anything against her will. Of course, she said she understood that I was the master and that her feelings were irrelevant.”

Alayna looked down, saddened of the reminder that slaves were trained to believe they weren’t people. “What did you tell her?”

“I just stopped giving her orders. She assumed it was only a jest, but eventually she told me which of her ‘duties’ she disliked intensly. Tashi made it clear that I could ask anything from her, but at least she let me know her true feelings about certain things before carrying them out.”

“Are you just talking about intimacy, or were there other issues?”

He chuckled. ”There was one big thing. Faso paid a premium for Tashi, but he didn’t even bother to provide any decent clothes for her. She had a gold bikini when she was bought, but it was solely for asthetics and not comfort. After that, I saw to it that she was provided with other garmets and I gave her free will to dress as she wanted. I also told her that she had the right to complain if I gave her an order she didn’t approve of.”

“But did you continue treating her as a servant? You can treat someone very, but they would still be...”

“She had nothing else to do, but it changed our relationship as she became more of a confidante after that. In a way, Tashi’s advanced age allowed her to have an edge over me, as I often trusted her wisdom more than my own.” He folded his arms over his chest and closed his eyes to think back to that horrible time in his life. "She kept me going when all I wanted to do was end it all. She had become more to me than just a servant. I am alive only because of her and that's why I can't leave her. If that's what it takes to become a Jedi, then I would choose to remain with her."

Alayna smiled and held him close to her. “You have done very well for yourself in my absence. Once you’re established yourselves, it may be best that I still not be a part of your life.”

“Why? Are you just going to kill yourself then?”

Alayna blinked back her tears as it reminded her of the reason she intnded to take her life. “No. I think I’ll be alright. I guess that I was hit hard by recent events, but I think I'm over the worst of it." She looked outside and sighed deeply. "We should wait until morning before we head back."

Genda shrugged his shoulders. "Well... that at least gives us some more time to talk things over."

Last edited by Darth_Yuthura; 07-10-2009 at 04:00 PM.
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