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Old 08-14-2009, 06:44 PM   #1
Darth_Yuthura
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Join Date: May 2008
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Posts: 1,585
Current Game: KOTOR III
Conscience Pt.1

This is to replace the first submission of the 'horrors of loss' that I submitted. There is a second part that will be about the same length coming up in addition to what I submit here.

Okay, this is an unofficial chapter that is based from 'Shrouded in Darkness.' It is not going to be found in the story, but it will be based on the main character being Yuthura Ban and first person perspective.

It starts out with Yuthura being asked to investigate the murder of a friend of a friend's son. That friend is named Adam Morton and he just knows Yuthura by name and little more.

---------

I brought Adam and his wife, Jennifer, to the Temple’s morgue, a part of me hoping that the victim wasn’t their child. The other part of me knew that there was no mistake, but it was always that glimmer of hope which you clung to in the most hopeless of times which kept you going. Unfortunately that hope only worked when there was something left to cling to. In times such as these, hope only made the ultimate truth that much more painful.

When the door opened before them, Jennifer gasped as though her little boy had been laying dead in front of them. All she saw was the bed with a white sheet covering the body. She buried her head into Adam’s chest and came to the brink of weeping. “I can’t do this, I’m sorry.”

He held her in his arms. “It’s alright, love. I’ll do it.”

She nodded erratically, her neck seemingly twitching more than nodding. “Thank-you” she whispered.

He kissed her on the forehead and gently pushed her away. She turned around and went back outside, her sobs intensifying just before the door sealed behind her.

Adam nodded to me and I lead him to the bed where the body lay. The coroner, Dr. Anderson stood by the bed and asked if he was ready to see for himself. When he nodded, she pulled the sheet away to reveal his dead son's face.

I saw from the expression on Adam’s face that it tore him up inside. I could tell that it was his son, just by his reaction, but then I saw his furrowed brow return to normal and he became stoic again. With a deep breath, he whispered “That’s him. It’s Jake.” He looked up to Dr. Anderson and nodded.

She looked at him with great sadness, appearing more hurt than the boy’s father, and then pulled the sheet back over the head of the body.

Adam kept himself very composed, but I could see the little gestures that he couldn’t quite keep hidden which showed just how hurt he really was. He blinked rapidly and his breathing became controlled. I could hear the inhale that came before he looked up to Dr. Anderson. “Was he... was he abused?”

She gently shook her head. “There’s no evidence to suggest that he was molested.”

Although it provided little comfort to hear, Adam nodded, taking little satisfaction in knowing that his son didn’t suffer before he died. “How did he die?”

“Suffocation. He was strangled to death.”

He nodded, closing his eyes to keep himself composed. “Is there anything else?”

“I’m afraid there’s not much forensic evidence to show who was responsible. The body was found in a garbage chute, but we are running tests on the trace elements that were on his clothes, but... we will do our best to bring the one who did this to justice.”

Adam stared at the cloth over the body and sighed in distress. “I’ll hold you to that.” He forced in another breath and looked up to Dr. Anderson. “Is that all you needed?”

Dr. Anderson nodded. “We just needed you to identify the body. I’m sorry for your loss.”

He nodded and turned back to tell Jennifer the dreadful news. I proceeded to follow, but doctor Anderson didn’t want me to leave just yet. I watched as Adam hesitated at the door and then proceeded slowly into the hallway. I could tell just by the way he walked that seeing Jennifer break into tears was the last thing he wanted to see, which was why he was slow to go through.

When the door closed behind him, Dr. Anderson gestured me to the body and pulled back the sheet again. “Yuthura, there’s something else that I think you should see.”

I had been distracted; I was thinking more about how stoic Adam was that I could barely tell that he had just lost a son. I turned to her. “Does that happen often?”

“Often, yes. Husbands and fathers usually feel the need to show strength to their loved ones during times like these.”

“But it was unnerving to see him so controlled.”

“This is coming from a Jedi? I’m sure that it ripped his soul in half to see his child just now. He hid his true feelings just now, but they’re still there.”

“Suppressing them is only going to make it worse. I don’t know if he can handle knowing the one responsible is still out there. He’s like a ticking time bomb.” I stated

“I know, but there’s something that I didn’t share with the local authorities that I think I should show you.” She gestured to the neck. “The cause of death was suffocation, but I found no obstructions in his throat or lungs.”

I looked down at the boy and thought about how he was killed. I then mimicked wrapping my hands around the neck. “So he was strangled. What’s so odd about it?”

She looked up to me and then gestured to the neck again. “If you mean... that someone grabbed him around the neck with their hands to cut off his breathing, there would have been some obvious bruising where he gripped the boy. There also aren’t any signs of defensive wounds.”

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as I examined the child and saw nothing that would suggest how someone gripped his neck without leaving any signs of it. “What are you suggesting?”

She waited for me to raise my head before answering. “I’m not suggesting anything. Jake was killed by a Jedi.”

--------

I had to admit that I found it rather hard to believe a Jedi would have been responsible for such an act as murder. I had considered that it might have been some other cause than a Force-user, but after seeing all other possibilities by Dr. Anderson... I guess that the internal bruising at the lower section of the esophagus left no other possibilities. Nothing else could explain how someone could suffocate a person like that.

Dr. Anderson said that she could stall explaining the situation to the authorities, but that news would eventually get out that a Jedi was responsible for a murder. As much as it narrowed down the list of potential suspects, I wasn’t keen to finding out who murdered that boy.

Of course I knew just how hard it must have been for Adam and Jennifer to lose their child and I knew that as long as the killer roamed free, they wouldn’t be able to lay their son to rest. I felt that I had to find out who was responsible and bring him to justice. I wish that I could take credit for finding the most likely suspect, but someone else found a connection which lead to a padawan... a former student of mine from Korriban.

It was for that reason that I agreed to meet with this student. I just had to make it seem like I wasn’t there to accuse him. Eric Masters was about as old as I had been when I was first accepted by the Jedi, but unlike me, he had been on Korriban for at least one year before ever being introduced to the Jedi. The only reason that he was accepted was because the Jedi were desperate for new recruits, and were willing to accept older and more less favorable candidates. This was the first time since Korriban that I spoke with him over lunch.

-------

“So I’ve heard that you were having difficulties since returning to the Jedi... that’s not surprising. This way of life is much different from anything on Korriban.”

He downed the last of his drink and allowed his thoughts to drift into the past as he set the glass down. “Yeah, I was taken by surprise at just how pathetic these people really were. Master Uthar had always told us to never to underestimate the Jedi and yet... I never saw how anyone could take them seriously.”

“Then why are you here?” I asked.

“Because I want to learn to use the Force. The Sith didn’t teach me to use the Force yet and I had hoped that I could start by now, but my master won’t even allow me to practice with it.”

“Well I went through the same thing when I was your age. It was almost three months before my own master taught me just to levitate a book.”

“Well I want to be able to do that.” he reached out for a bottle that was laying on a table across the room. I turned my head when I saw that nothing happened. “Being able to pick up objects... that’s just so amazing. I want to learn how to do that, but my master won’t allow me to even try.”

I focused my mind on the bottle and brought it to the table without extending my arm to grab it. That took a little more skill to do than to extend my arm, imagining the Force like it was an extension of my arm. When I took the bottle and set it on the table for him, I could almost see the fascination in his eyes at what I had done and felt content to believe that he didn’t have the means to commit the murder.

Still I wanted to talk to the boy. “Don’t worry; you’ll learn to do it soon enough. I know what it’s like to be told ‘be patient,’ but it’s part of the training. You may not appreciate it now, but in time, you’ll understand why they did it. I won’t lie to you; you are being held back, but it’s because they don’t want people using the Force just for fun. So they are careful with when they teach it and to whom. If you behave yourself and... just comply with what they demand, your master will get around to it earlier than later.”

He picked up the bottle with his hand and stared at the contents for a moment before setting it down again. “No he won’t. He’s already made up his mind about me and was just waiting until I did something wrong so he could have me expelled.”

“That’s not true. Look at me; they’ve accepted me. And they had much more reason to get rid of me than you.”

He stood up and pushed his chair back under the table. “They already blame me for my friend’s death. I guess that the Sith wouldn’t have bothered finding the truth either; they’d just have killed whomever they suspected. I guess I should be glad that the Jedi don’t exercise capital punishment.”

“Did you?” I asked.

He turned around. “Jake was my friend. I don’t know why they think I killed him.”

I’ve heard that excuse all too many times, but I entertained the possibility because I sensed no deception from him. “I guess that I am curious as to how you two became friends.”

“He was fascinated that I was a Jedi. He wasn’t Force-sensitive, but he was willing to do a lot of things for me. I guess I liked having someone who would lie for me, someone I could manipulate... I guess I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

I shook my head. “I get what you’re saying; he was someone you could use for a patsy.”

He nodded. “Yeah, it’s not exactly something that I wanted to tell the Council, but I didn’t kill him. I had no reason to kill someone I found useful. But someone in the local authorities contacted the Council and connected me to him for a crime that we pulled about a week ago. They didn’t hesitate to accuse me of killing Jake once they found out that I used to be a Sith.”

I raised my head and realized that something was wrong. “If you’ve been accused, then why aren’t you in a holding cell?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “This is a crime that took place outside the Temple. Republic law and Jedi rules don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. They’ve got a meeting this afternoon to discuss an extradition of me to be handed over to Republic authorities. I’m not in a holding cell now, but I will be soon enough. They’re just going to turn me over and I’m going to be sentenced just because I’m a Sith. I guess that if we were still on Korriban, I would have just been killed, so it really doesn’t matter to me what they should decide.”

I would have stopped him again, but our talk reminded me much of the way they would have pinned the blame on me for the same reason. I also felt that I needed to know more about the extradition that he spoke of before I could eliminate him as a suspect.

-------

Following my talk with Eric, I went over his records since he was with the Jedi and came to an unfortunate discovery: the records were sealed. At first I didn’t take his word for it, but sealed records meant that the Council were hiding something. I could only conclude that they were sacrificing Eric to make their problems go away.

I found that the extradition was supposed to take place later that day and I had about four hours to find the truth before he was in a Republic holding cell. I thought that was rather brash of them to just make a judgment without knowing the facts. Eric didn’t yet know how to strangle a person with the Force, so he couldn’t have committed the crime.

As I went through the records to find who instructed Eric over the last few months, I came to a very unexpected truth... Adam, the victim’s father... was Eric’s master. I remembered many times when I had to solve a puzzle and found a major connection. Despite being introduced with many more questions than answers, this connection was significant. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was what I needed to continue my investigation.

---------

I had approached Adam again, this time while he was in the Temple. He had been hunched over a computer station, trying to get some work done, but clearly preoccupied with other matters. “You know you could have told me that you were a Jedi back in the morgue. It would have answered some questions I have for you.”

He turned his head over his shoulder to acknowledge me and then turned back to his console. “You never asked. I didn’t want to tell.”

I sat in the chair beside him and rotated it so that this would be more like a face-to-face conversation. “So you are a Jedi and you do have a family?”

He continued working on his console, but answered my question. “Yes. I wanted it kept hidden, but with Jake’s death... they know the truth now.”

As if losing his son wasn’t bad enough, hearing that he lost more was disheartening. It just seemed strange how after loosing something so great, losing even more after that just didn’t seem to hurt so much. He was visibly saddened, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell that he lost a son just by watching him. Being exiled from the Order wouldn’t have been as traumatic, but it still was a significant thing. Then I realized that he just said the Council knew the truth. “So what happens now... with you?”

His typing halted as he sighed. “Nothing. The Council said that... ‘because of my dedication and years to the Order,’ they did not believe I deserved such extreme punishment.”

“So they will let you stay?”

“Yeah. They even said that Jennifer and I could continue.” He answered.

As he resumed his work, I almost forgot the reason why I came to him. “There’s something that I needed to speak with you about. Do you know Eric Lensure?”

His typing stopped very abruptly this time. “Yes, I have been training him. He was once a student of yours, I was told.”

“Well he’s the one who I was investigating that lead me back to you.”

He looked directly at me, blinking more rapidly as he spoke. “You have reason to believe Eric killed Jake?”

“Possibly. The coroner said that Jake was Force-choked by a Jedi, but I don’t think Eric has yet learned to do that. Can you confirm that?”

He shook his head, not entirely sure that it was so. “I’d never trained him to that extent. I’ve never actually seen him levitate an object, yet alone... my god, Jake...”

“Wait, if you don’t know for certain, then we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.” I advised.

His breathing became much more intense. He had great anxiety at the thought that Eric had killed his son and didn’t know what to do. “I can’t think of any other explanation. Who else here would have done it?”

I placed my hands upon his shoulders to calm him. “Just keep calm. I think that I can find out his abilities if you give me a chance. If he hasn’t yet learned Force levitation, then he couldn’t have done it.”

“Yes... you’re right. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

I could tell that Adam was under a lot of pressure and that he only spoke those words out of self-restraint. I knew that he genuinely didn’t believe in what he spoke because the anxiety that came when someone close may have betrayed you was so intense that it dominated your every thought. I wasn’t sure which outcome to expect. Eric was once a Sith, which meant he very likely could have deceived his master and lied to me about his abilities. At the same time, he was Adam’s padawan and he didn’t need another devastating loss so soon after Jake.

------

Eric had been packing his meager possessions and didn’t seem to acknowledge me when I entered his quarters. Adam came along, but stayed outside in the hallway for me to get back to him on the outcome. In order to properly conduct my experiment, I didn’t give him any warning. I took my lightsaber and threw it at Eric when he finally looked up to me.

Because I didn’t activate it, I had no reason to assume it would hurt him if he told the truth. When he saw the solid metal object coming at his head, the boy instinctively used the Force to protect himself. He held it level for a moment before realizing that he did exactly what I wanted him to do.

I extended my arm out and took back the weapon from him with the Force and pulled the lightsaber back to my hand. “So you can levitate objects. You told me and your master that you couldn’t.”

Fear became clearly apparent on his face. He knew that he was caught and couldn’t escape this one. He looked up to me, close to tears.

“You killed Jake?” I said more as a statement than a question.

After hearing those words, Adam came in to confront his padawan. The way he walked wasn’t indicative of rage, but of a grieving father. I remembered how enraged Adam was back in the morgue at the thought of seeing his son’s murderer brought to justice, but what he felt in that moment was pure grief. He held back his tears, but it was his controlled breathing and pausing in speech that gave away just how hurt he really was. “Eric... the truth will come out eventually. I can help you, but... I need to know what happened.”

Eric began crying, sobbing just before the tears streamed down his cheeks. I had to admit that I found it odd to see a Sith that would show such weakness so easily, which was why I believed he genuinely felt remorse for what he had done. “Master... I didn’t want to do it. I did something... something that would have gotten me expelled from the Order and Jake found out.”

“What? What did you do?”

Eric’s head sagged from guilt, blinking rapidly as tears continued rolling from his eyes. He seemed ashamed of what he had done and didn’t want to admit his guilt, as if the spare Adam the pain of the truth. “Do you remember the fire in Jake’s school a while back? The one that killed three people? I started it.”

Adam wasn’t quite sure whether to be enraged or relieved to hear the truth. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing to hear about more deaths that were caused. “What happened?”

“Jake was doing a project of some kind and I did something to it which I wasn’t supposed to. That’s how he figured out that it was me.” Eric continued as tears began to pour from his eyes.

Adam had been blinking rapidly, as if too scared to ask what happened next, so he asked “Why didn’t you come to me about this?”

“I didn’t intend to tell anyone, but Jake told me that he knew what I did. He had something that would prove it was me who started the fire and told me that if I didn’t do what he asked, he’d give it to the police and then the’d expel me from the Order.”

“What things?” I asked.

He started sobbing more intensely “Stealing. He wanted me to rob people and give it to him.”

Adam’s expression turned into one of shock. I didn’t know exactly what it was that surprised him so greatly, but I expected that I would soon find out. “Wait... are you saying that this latest incident... you were stealing a ceremonial sword because Jake demanded that you take it?”

“Yes. I mean... at first he didn’t ask for much, but he said that if I got that old sword for him, he would not ask for anything again.”

I interrupted the two, mainly because I didn’t believe him and felt that I needed to know more than Eric was letting on. “Hold on, what old sword?”

Adam answered. “Eric had been accused of stealing a valuable sword two days ago. They had been some security camera records that showed both of them with the sword.”

“I stole many other things and gave them to Jake; I never kept anything for myself!” Eric cried.

Adam’s jaw hung open, as if he actually believed all that. I knew that he had to be lying, which was why I brought up my concerns. He just shook his head. “Jennifer said that police had searched through Jake’s room and found a few thousand credit’s worth of loot that we didn’t buy. I haven’t found anything like that in Eric’s possession.”

“Of course you wouldn’t. He wouldn’t leave something like that around for anyone to find.” I answered.

“But if he’s telling the truth...” he turned around. “Eric... why did you do it? Why did you kill Jake?”

He sobbed more intensely than before. “When they found out that it was me, I thought it was because Jake told the police. I didn’t know... I didn’t know.”

Adam looked away, realizing that his son was only killed because of a misunderstanding. It didn’t make it any easier to learn it was done by someone close to him, but the truth was finally out.

I stared at Eric and realized that maybe this whole thing could have been a mistake and that there was not going to be any thoughts of vengeance for this murder. If Eric had only known that Jake wasn’t the one who revealed the truth, maybe he would have still been alive. Maybe if everything Eric said was the truth... there was a lot that had to be verified, but it looked like I had come to the bottom of this case. I wish I could take some satisfaction in knowing who was responsible, but this was likely to be a very very bittersweet resolution, one way or another.

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Old 08-14-2009, 07:15 PM   #2
Darth_Yuthura
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Current Game: KOTOR III
Conscience Pt.2

Part two: Horrors of Loss. This is the continuation of the second submission.
-----

It turned out that everything Eric told us was true. I investigated police records and found that Eric was wanted for the theft of an ancient sword from a collector. Not long after that conversation with Eric did Adam have a meeting with the Council. Although I wasn’t invited, I wanted to speak on Eric’s behalf, given that I had once instructed him. The truth was that I just wanted an excuse to be in the Council chamber so that they would not be allowed to discriminate against him because he was a Sith.

Adam told me that the meeting was meant to discuss what would become of Eric. Obviously with everything that’s happened in the last day and a half, there was a lot to discuss with Adam.

“What is she doing here?” Master Vrook barked.

Adam briefly looked back to me and then answered for me. “If this meeting is to discuss my padawan’s future, I think that it would be wise to include any input that Yuthura might have to offer. She had instructed him before he was admitted to the Jedi and I’d like her here as a character witness.”

If I had said that, they would have known that to be a lie. The truth was that I barely knew Eric while he was on Korriban and really knew nothing worth adding to the records, but I wanted to stand up for Eric if he genuinely felt remorse for what he had done. I almost couldn’t help feeling the way Revan did when I turned on him. I just felt that Eric was a victim in this and that he wouldn’t have behaved like a Sith had he not been coerced by Jake.

“Very well, if you wish her to be present, then I have no objections.” Vrook answered. “Adam Morton, before we begin, I just want to offer our condolences for the loss of your son.”

Being reminded of Jake again, Adam’s diverted his eyes downward, as if he’s heard those words all too often. His voice was equally down. “Thank-you.”

“This is the reason why the code forbids marriage and forming attachments. Such liabilities can leave a Jedi emotionally crippled such as what just happened.” Vrook resumed.

“Yes sir.” Adam said compliantly.

“Normally such acts are punishable by exile, but given as you’ve done your duty in spite of your private life... we see no reason to carry that out. Furthermore you need not have to keep your family secret from the rest of the Order.”

“Thank-you, sir.”

“However there is another matter that we must tend to in regards to your padawan. We have received a request yesterday from local authorities to give Eric Lensure extradited into their custody. We gave us some very convincing evidence that connected with a major crime and have decided to grant their request.”

“I’ve recently spoken to Eric about that and he had admitted to killing Jake. I also learned that my son had been extorting him for the last two months.”

Zhar had been behooved by what he just heard. “What? You mean that Lensure is responsible for a murder as well?”

I stepped forward. “Are you saying that’s not the reason why you’re extraditing Eric?” They stared at me, wondering why I asked that question. “I was working with local authorities to find out who killed Jake Morton.”

Zhar stood up and approached me. “I would like to have a word with you... outside.”

I did as I was told and went into the hallway just outside the chamber with Zhar close behind. I folded my arms and waited for him to explain what was going on.

“This news of Eric Lensure being responsible for Adam’s son is disturbing. We had no idea that he was a murderer.”

I tilted my head to the side. “If that’s so... then what are you extraditing Eric for?”

He didn’t answer; he just brushed me off again. “I would like you to give me all that you know about this murder and inform the local authorities who you’re working with that I’ll be taking over for you.”

I sneered at the twi’lek master for so callously demanding to be the greatest authority on everything. It was almost insulting to me because Alfred asked me to tend to the matter personally and there I was being told that it was not my responsibility anymore. “There is nothing else to take over for. I found the killer and he confessed...”

“I have my own investigation going on and either you can answer to me, or I can take over for your investigation. I think you would find it easier if you just connect me with the precinct you’re working with.”

After the moment I needed to acknowledge his logic, I sighed and reached into my pocket to grab the datapad which connected me to the police and morgue data base. “This will have all the information you’re probably interested in. If you want to take responsibility, then it’s yours.”

He took the pad from me and logged on for a brief moment to verify that it was authentic. After a simple thank-you, he just turned around and went back into the Council chamber, all the while tapping erratically through the files on the device. I couldn’t help feeling ignored, but he didn’t invite me back in with him.

--------

I waited outside for Adam to conclude his business, which only took about another minute after Zhar walked off. When I was about ready to just go back to my life again, he and Master Vrook walked out together while in mid conversation.

“I will ask for them to postpone the hearing for tomorrow while Master Zhar goes over the new evidence. If you speak on his behalf, we might be able to convince them to reduce the sentence to a few months.”

“What about after that?” Adam asked.

“If he wishes to return to the Order, and he’s sincerely willing to do what it takes to become a Jedi, we’ll welcome him back. I would just recommend that another master train him.”

“Yes. I would just like to put this whole thing behind us, but it would be terrible to see another life lost.”

Vrook sorta glared at me and then back to Adam, as if to silently warn him about me before turning around to head back to the Council chamber.

When the door closed behind him, I asked Adam if he was alright.

“I don’t know. I had always thought that I knew Jake as any father would know his son, but when I look back on all the times I wasn’t there for him... I thought that I could continue to do my duty as a Jedi and also make the time for my family, but I let so much slip by.”

I got in front of him to make eye contact. “You can’t blame yourself for what Eric did. If he had been more open to you in the first place, it might not have come to this. Still... standing up for him now takes a lot.”

He sighed and looked in another direction. “I loved Jennifer. But I also knew that my gift couldn’t go to waste, which was why we kept the truth from the rest of the Order. I had taken young padawans and trained them outside the Temple so that I could be with her and Jake a little more.”

He paused for a moment and I asked another question that I couldn’t figure out. “Why did you take Eric... wouldn’t you have wanted to train Jake to use the Force?”

“Jake wasn’t Force-sensitive. One in a thousand children of Jedi decent don’t feel the Force. It was because of that Jennifer and I didn’t have another child. It would have invoked favoritism among them, so we intended to make him our sole responsibility. I thought he and Eric were close friends, which was why I left them to... just be boys. In my attempt to compliment both my life as a Jedi and as a husband and father, I failed at both.”

When he walked away, I had wanted to comfort him; but knew that he just wanted somewhere to grieve by himself. Considering all he had been through in the last two days, it was a relief to see him finally give in to his feelings.

When a volcano begins to awaken after years of being dormant, many breathe a sigh of relief when it stops venting and returns to being dormant. Such people probably assume that it just went back to sleep and that it had become peaceful again, but they often don’t realize that the venting actually had been relieving the enormous pressure that had the mountain ready to erupt in the first place. If the people were afraid of the damage a volcano would cause, than they obviously would have had more reason to be afraid. The calm demeanor of a dormant volcano is offset by how violent the eruption becomes.

Adam wasn’t a volcano, but seeing him in such a terrible state was a relief. It was as though he were under a lot of pressure and found a way to ease the tension in a controlled manner. He still had much pain and anger to deal with, but it seemed as though he would not erupt all at once.

I made no mistake: Adam lost a son and the situation was far from stable with Eric. The only difference was that the healing process had begun and the damage had been contained to only the loss of one boy. The wounds inflicted upon everyone else could heal.

-----

The hearing over Eric’s extradition was rescheduled to the next day and I wanted to be there in case Adam needed someone to talk to. The event took place in a courtroom, where a Jedi representative would officially turn Eric over to the Republic authorities. Jedi aren’t usually given over to local authorities, but what Eric did unofficially got him expelled. There were a lot of rules and regulations that I couldn’t figure out, but we were just there for tradition’s sake.

I sat next to Adam, who had been behind the bench where Eric was supposed to sit. We spoke for a short while before the hearing began. “I must say that I’m surprised you would stand up for him to receive a much lighter punishment. I would have imagined you’d want nothing more to do with him.”

He sighed and rested his head upon his wrist. “I lost a child. I would not want to see another lost due to a life in prison. He still has to serve time for what he stole, but his cooperation will reduce that sentence.”

“You know that... being Eric’s master doesn’t make you responsible for what he did. He and Jake both took actions which lead to this outcome which could have been avoided.”

He looked at me for a few seconds, trying to rationalize his reasons for requesting a lighter sentence for the very one who murdered his son. He started blinking as he began to speak, likely trying to explain it to himself than to me. “Jake probably grew up wanting his father and I deprived him of that. Eric had a hard life. What he did wasn’t entirely his fault and I can understand that this whole thing was tragic and could have been avoided. I am now doing this so we can avoid another conflict like this.”

“Still it is a noble thing that you’re doing. I think that if he is allowed to continue training, he’ll become a credit to the Order. I also hope that you can heal from the loss of your son if you think this helps Eric.”

He blinked back more tears and nodded. “Jake’s dead. Nothing I can do will change that. The last thing I would want is to throw away another life if it could be saved. Maybe then... it might make it easier to know that Jake didn’t die for nothing.”

I could hear the pain in Adam’s voice. Although he hid his grief, I could tell that he had still been suffering from the loss of his son. Thinking of how composed he had been in his grief, I almost thought I understood how someone could suffer a terrible injustice and be able to let it go. I did not believe I could ever forgive Omeesh for what he did for me, but I almost came to think that was what I should have done. The pain and hate I felt for the injustice committed against me and my friends... those were all behind me and nothing I could do would change what happened. The best thing was just to accept it and move on.

-----

Shortly after the hearing began, Master Zhar had entered the chamber and stood behind the Jedi representative. “I’m very sorry, Your Honor, but we made a mistake. The deal we made to Eric Lensure and the Republic court in regards to the murder charge is withdrawn.”

The judge directed his attention to Zhar. “Hearings have begun. I can’t dismiss this midway through...”

“We made a mistake. I had evaluated the evidence and discovered that Eric had lied to us. The artifact he stole was in Jake’s possession shortly before he was killed, but he intended to return it to its rightful owner.”

“What do you mean ‘intended’?” the judge asked.

“Jake returned the artifact to the wrong address and it had just been recovered. We also found that all the activities in which Jake Morton participated in... he had deposited credits into bank accounts to pay for whatever was stolen.”

Adam’s jaw dropped as he heard Zhar speak. “What are you saying?”

“We believe that Jake returned the artifact and that Eric killed him after he discovered it was gone. We also found that the stolen property found in Jake’s room didn’t have any of his prints on it, but it was thoroughly touched by Lensure. He planted that evidence to cover up the truth.” Zhar continued.

Shock became clearly visible on Adam’s face as he rose to his feet and addressed Eric. “I believed you.” He slowly walked towards him, anger becoming more and more apparent. “I defended you.”

Master Zhar stepped in the way to protect Eric, who’s expression hadn’t changed, even after his lies had been revealed. He didn’t seem to care that he had destroyed a life, which only seemed to intensify Adam’s pain. He still appeared in shock, but I saw that look of a berserker manifest itself. I couldn’t blame him; I wanted to kill Eric and I wasn’t the one who lost a son to him.

Sometimes a volcano could appear most peaceful moments before it exploded, even when the catastrophic reaction deep beneath had been surging for hours. In that brief moment before eruption, that strange behavior not indicative of an explosion might not be apparent. Those who recognized continuous low-frequency vibrations, the symptom that precedes an eruption, don’t have to see the volcano explode before deciding to run.

That shock I saw in Adam and knew that it was going to escalate into something terrible. His voice had been almost normal until I took a hold of Adam’s arm to keep him back. It was that little act of restraint which made him lose all control. “You lying little Bastard!”

The judge pounded her grapple. “Order in the court!”

When he continued towards Eric, I tightened my grip and extended my other arm over his shoulder. Adam’s voice intensified to a deafening scream. “You murdered my son!”

When he tried to brush me aside, Master Zhar took Adam by the opposite shoulder to hold him back. Even with two people holding him back, Adam wouldn’t let them stop him from getting to Eric. He fought me and Zhar, but couldn’t overpower us both. The screams of his rage and pain echoed throughout the chamber as he shouted in a language that I couldn’t understand. The two-syable curse which he started chanting just seemed so much worse than anything I could understand. It was as though the message he wanted to convey was so terrible that no words could possibly express his rage.

There was a saying that nothing was as frightful as the resolve a parent had for his child. I once heard it said that the scream of a grieving father were more intimidating than the loudest war drum. I couldn’t verify the second part of the statement, as I’ve never heard a war drum; but I knew it to be true.

I was nearly paralyzed by just how much anger and pain I heard in Adam’s voice as he shouted with all the rage he had restrained until that moment. I wasn’t even the one he wanted to kill and I was terrified. I could barely see any fear in Eric’s eyes, which I just couldn’t believe. That boy had to be out of his ****ing mind not to be afraid then.

As Zhar helped me restrain him, there came a point when Adam stopped resisting and allowed me to guide him out of the courtroom. He started sobbing, but hadn’t shed any tears as his breathing became increasingly erratic. Eventually he turned around and hunched against a wall and I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

“I can’t believe this is happening...!” he weakly exclaimed. “I can’t breathe... I can’t breathe.”

“I’ll help you outside. Get some air.”

He slapped me away and placed his hands upon his knees, struggling to stand. “Jake... Jake... I’m so sorry. He murdered him... Jennifer... I’m so sorry!

I got beside and helped him to stand up straight when a guard approached. “Do you need a doctor?”

“Just give him some room.” I answered and then whispered to Adam it would be alright. Obviously that was a lie, as things had yet to become worse.

Out of the courtroom came Eric escorted by an armed guard. Passing by Adam, Eric deviated from his path to speak to his former mentor. “Master, I’m sorry for your loss. I really am.”

As the guard pulled Eric back to walking towards the exit, I saw Adam’s grief begin to turn back into rage. “You’re not sorry. You cannot be if you don’t feel for anything!”

I gently tried to pull Adam away from staring at Eric, but then I noticed his head directed at the first guard’s weapon. I didn’t know why I hadn’t acted when I saw what was going through his mind; maybe because I didn’t expect that he would do the same thing I would... but he extended his arm and the weapon was in his hand. Less than a second later, the gun was pointed at Eric and the trigger had been pulled.

By the time I reacted it was already too late, but I got hold of the arm with the gun and pinned Adam against the wall. With help from the guard, I wriggled the weapon from his grip until it fell to the floor. The guard had already started cuffing Adam, even as he collapsed to his knees with his face pressed against the wall.

I looked up to confirm that Eric was dead and realized that Adam had lost much more than his son to that monster.

--------
(Three days later)
--------

I’ve often wondered if Jedi were above the law. We enforced it, but when we did terrible acts, we escaped punishment. Adam had murdered a boy, but the consequences of his trial were either exile or forgiveness. Any other murderer would have been put on trial for 20 years or to gamble it all to escape punishment with reasonable doubt.

I could not speak such words, as I had my own crimes which I escaped. I was called before the Council to speak what I had witnessed when Adam killed Eric and I had been convinced that he acted out of grief and anger for what Eric did. And because he sought out only the one who was guilty, he did an irrational act which likely wouldn’t happen again.

Master Vrook claimed that as Adam maintained his composure from the time he saw his dead son to when he shot Eric, that it was not grief which drove him to murder, but revenge. I found it absolutely absurd to believe that what he did was a ‘carefully planned execution.’ I admit that I wanted to kill Eric when I found out what he had done. It wasn’t that Eric simply murdered Jake, but that he sought to cover up the truth by tarnishing Jake’s memory.

I knew that the question I was presented wasn’t whether Eric deserved to die, but that Adam didn’t have the right to kill him. Even when I would have answered that no one had that right, I defended Adam throughout the course of his trial. It was because of Eric that Adam acted, so I rationalized that Eric forfeited his right to life when he killed Jake.

It was just terrible, no matter how things played out that day. If Eric lived, he would have killed again and Adam would have always had that unresolved sense of justice until the day he died. It would have been so much better if Eric hadn’t been lying to us, but... it just wasn’t what happened.

-------

When I saw Adam after his trial was over, he thanked me for my contribution to his side of the argument. Master Vrook still was bitter at the outcome and approached him. “You seem pretty satisfied.”

He turned around and folded his arms across his chest. “Satisfied? That’s not exactly the word I would use to describe how I feel right now. If you think that I’m satisfied to lose my son only to kill the one responsible and get away with it; then you’re even more naive than I ever would’ve imagined.”

Vrook frowned at him and then at me. “So you admit that you got away with it. You escaped the punishment you deserve. Surly you must feel something for that.”

“If it pleases you so, I’ll admit that I’m glad Jennifer didn’t have to suffer the loss of a husband as well.”

“Except that would have been because of you, not him.”

I spoke up. “Say that when someone deliberately does something to hurt you and you may not be so quick to judge. That’s something you’ve never been faced with... Master Vrook.”

Vrook snarled and just about turned away before remembering one other thing. “I just have one question and I want the truth. Nothing you say at this point will make any difference. When did you decide to kill Eric?”

Adam stared at Vrook for a long moment and then to me. “When Zhar said that Eric had manipulated the truth. When I knew what he was, I knew that I would kill him. It was just a matter of finding the right time and place... and I did.” He faced Vrook again. “You were right. What I did was a ‘care fully-timed execution.’ I was always in control.”

My jaw dropped, only to a limited extent. The thought of how enraged he seemed compared to how he actually felt... I just couldn’t imagine someone able to maintain himself after what Eric did. “You manipulated us just like Eric had?”

“There is just one significant difference: Eric would have killed again. I won’t.”

When Adam turned away, I had been left with a very uncomfortable thought. He had played me just as Eric had with him, but what intimidated me was that he thought it was alright for him to do so. That sounded much like the way I rationalized one vile act which lead me to taking many more after that.

What made me even more uncomfortable was the thought that I would have defended him, even if I had known that he was just playing me before the trial. He was the victim; not Eric... yet I knew that it was wrong to murder for any reason. And that’s exactly what Adam did... even if it was done against another murderer. I could try to justify that Eric would have killed again, but that wasn’t self defense back there.

I looked back to see Master Vrook watching me sort out what had happened just then instead of ridiculing me like I expected him to do. He then nodded to me as though to silently say ‘I think you understand now.’ I didn’t know what he meant by that, but it made me feel as though I had learned the lesson in all this. The problem was that I didn’t know what lesson he meant.
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Old 08-15-2009, 01:57 PM   #3
Darth_Yuthura
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Vienna
Posts: 1,585
Current Game: KOTOR III
Pt. 2
---------
I had to admit that I found it rather hard to believe a Jedi could have committed a murder. I had considered that it might have been some other cause than a Force-user, but after seeing all other possibilities presented by Dr. Anderson... I guess that the internal bruising at the lower section of the esophagus left no room for doubt. Nothing else could have suffocated a person like that.

Dr. Anderson said that she could stall explaining the situation to the authorities, but that news would eventually get out that a Jedi was responsible for a murder. As much as it narrowed down the list of potential suspects, I wasn’t keen to finding out who murdered that boy.

Of course I knew just how hard it must have been for Adam and Jennifer to lose their child and I knew that as long as the killer roamed free, they wouldn’t be able to lay their son to rest. I felt that I had to find out who was responsible and bring him to justice. I wish that I could take credit for finding the most likely suspect, but someone else found a connection which lead to a padawan... a former student of mine from Korriban.

It was for that reason that I agreed to meet with this student. I just had to make it seem like I wasn’t there to accuse him. Eric Masters was about as old as I had been when I was first accepted by the Jedi, but unlike me, he had been on Korriban for at least one year before ever being introduced to the Jedi. The only reason that he was accepted was because the Jedi were desperate for new recruits, and were willing to accept older and more less favorable candidates. This was the first time since Korriban that I spoke with him over lunch.

-------

“So I’ve heard that you were having difficulties since returning to the Jedi... that’s not surprising. This way of life is much different from anything on Korriban.”

He downed the last of his drink and allowed his thoughts to drift into the past as he set the glass down. “Yeah, I was taken by surprise at just how pathetic these people really were. Master Uthar had always told us to never to underestimate the Jedi and yet... I never saw how anyone could take them seriously.”

“Then why are you here?” I asked.

“Because I want to learn to use the Force. The Sith didn’t teach me to use the Force yet and I had hoped that I could start by now, but my master won’t even allow me to practice with it.”

“Well I went through the same thing when I was your age. It was almost three months before my own master taught me just to levitate a book.”

“Well I want to be able to do that.” he reached out for a bottle that was laying on a table across the room. I turned my head when I saw that nothing happened. “Being able to pick up objects... that’s just so amazing. I want to learn how to do that, but my master won’t allow me to even try.”

I focused my mind on the bottle and brought it to the table without extending my arm to grab it. That took a little more skill to do than to extend my arm, imagining the Force like it was an extension of my arm. When I took the bottle and set it on the table for him, I could almost see the fascination in his eyes at what I had done and felt content to believe that he didn’t have the means to commit the murder.

Still I wanted to talk to the boy. “Don’t worry; you’ll learn to do it soon enough. I know what it’s like to be told ‘be patient,’ but it’s part of the training. You may not appreciate it now, but in time, you’ll understand why they did it. I won’t lie to you; you are being held back, but it’s because they don’t want people using the Force just for fun. So they are careful with when they teach it and to whom. If you behave yourself and... just comply with what they demand, your master will get around to it earlier than later.”

He picked up the bottle with his hand and stared at the contents for a moment before setting it down again. “No he won’t. He’s already made up his mind about me and was just waiting until I did something wrong so he could have me expelled.”

“That’s not true. Look at me; they’ve accepted me. And they had much more reason to get rid of me than you.”

He stood up and pushed his chair back under the table. “They already blame me for my friend’s death. I guess that the Sith wouldn’t have bothered finding the truth either; they’d just have killed whomever they suspected. I guess I should be glad that the Jedi don’t exercise capital punishment.”

“Did you?” I asked.

He turned around. “Jake was my friend. I don’t know why they think I killed him.”

I’ve heard that excuse all too many times, but I entertained the possibility because I sensed no deception from him. “I guess that I am curious as to how you two became friends.”

“He was fascinated that I was a Jedi. He wasn’t Force-sensitive, but he was willing to do a lot of things for me. I guess I liked having someone who would lie for me, someone I could manipulate... I guess I shouldn’t be telling you this.”

I shook my head. “I get what you’re saying; he was someone you could use for a patsy.”

He nodded. “Yeah, it’s not exactly something that I wanted to tell the Council, but I didn’t kill him. I had no reason to kill someone I found useful. But someone in the local authorities contacted the Council and connected me to him for a crime that we pulled about a week ago. They didn’t hesitate to accuse me of killing Jake once they found out that I used to be a Sith.”

I raised my head and realized that something was wrong. “If you’ve been accused, then why aren’t you in a holding cell?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “This is a crime that took place outside the Temple. Republic law and Jedi rules don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. They’ve got a meeting this afternoon to discuss an extradition of me to be handed over to Republic authorities. I’m not in a holding cell now, but I will be soon enough. They’re just going to turn me over and I’m going to be sentenced just because I’m a Sith. I guess that if we were still on Korriban, I would have just been killed, so it really doesn’t matter to me what they should decide.”

I would have stopped him again, but our talk reminded me much of the way they would have pinned the blame on me for the same reason. I also felt that I needed to know more about the extradition that he spoke of before I could eliminate him as a suspect.

-------

Following my talk with Eric, I went over his records since he was with the Jedi and came to an unfortunate discovery: the records were sealed. At first I didn’t take his word for it, but sealed records meant that the Council were hiding something. I could only conclude that they were sacrificing Eric to make their problems go away.

I found that the extradition was supposed to take place later that day and I had about four hours to find the truth before he was in a Republic holding cell. I thought that was rather brash of them to just make a judgment without knowing the facts. Eric didn’t yet know how to strangle a person with the Force, so he couldn’t have committed the crime.

As I went through the records to find who instructed Eric over the last few months, I came to a very unexpected truth... Adam, the victim’s father... was Eric’s master. I remembered many times when I had to solve a puzzle and found a major connection. Despite being introduced with many more questions than answers, this connection was significant. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was what I needed to continue my investigation.

---------

I had approached Adam again, this time while he was in the Temple. He had been hunched over a computer station, trying to get some work done, but clearly preoccupied with other matters. “You know you could have told me that you were a Jedi back in the morgue. It would have answered some questions I have for you.”

He turned his head over his shoulder to acknowledge me and then turned back to his console. “You never asked. I didn’t want to tell.”

I sat in the chair beside him and rotated it so that this would be more like a face-to-face conversation. “So you are a Jedi and you do have a family?”

He continued working on his console, but answered my question. “Yes. I wanted it kept hidden, but with Jake’s death... they know the truth now.”

As if losing his son wasn’t bad enough, hearing that he lost more was disheartening. It just seemed strange how after loosing something so great, losing even more after that just didn’t seem to hurt so much. He was visibly saddened, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell that he lost a son just by watching him. Being exiled from the Order wouldn’t have been as traumatic, but it still was a significant thing. Then I realized that he just said the Council knew the truth. “So what happens now... with you?”

His typing halted as he sighed. “Nothing. The Council said that... ‘because of my dedication and years to the Order,’ they did not believe I deserved such extreme punishment.”

“So they will let you stay?”

“Yeah. They even said that Jennifer and I could continue.” He answered.

As he resumed his work, I almost forgot the reason why I came to him. “There’s something that I needed to speak with you about. Do you know Eric Lensure?”

His typing stopped very abruptly this time. “Yes, I have been training him. He was once a student of yours, I was told.”

“Well he’s the one who I was investigating that lead me back to you.”

He looked directly at me, blinking more rapidly as he spoke. “You have reason to believe Eric killed Jake?”

“Possibly. The coroner said that Jake was Force-choked by a Jedi, but I don’t think Eric has yet learned to do that. Can you confirm that?”

He shook his head, not entirely sure that it was so. “I’d never trained him to that extent. I’ve never actually seen him levitate an object, yet alone... my god, Jake...”

“Wait, if you don’t know for certain, then we shouldn’t jump to conclusions.” I advised.

His breathing became much more intense. He had great anxiety at the thought that Eric had killed his son and didn’t know what to do. “I can’t think of any other explanation. Who else here would have done it?”

I placed my hands upon his shoulders to calm him. “Just keep calm. I think that I can find out his abilities if you give me a chance. If he hasn’t yet learned Force levitation, then he couldn’t have done it.”

“Yes... you’re right. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

I could tell that Adam was under a lot of pressure and that he only spoke those words out of self-restraint. I knew that he genuinely didn’t believe in what he spoke because the anxiety that came when someone close may have betrayed you was so intense that it dominated your every thought. I wasn’t sure which outcome to expect. Eric was once a Sith, which meant he very likely could have deceived his master and lied to me about his abilities. At the same time, he was Adam’s padawan and he didn’t need another devastating loss so soon after Jake.

------

Eric had been packing his meager possessions and didn’t seem to acknowledge me when I entered his quarters. Adam came along, but stayed outside in the hallway for me to get back to him on the outcome. In order to properly conduct my experiment, I didn’t give him any warning. I took my lightsaber and threw it at Eric when he finally looked up to me.

Because I didn’t activate it, I had no reason to assume it would hurt him if he told the truth. When he saw the solid metal object coming at his head, the boy instinctively used the Force to protect himself. He held it level for a moment before realizing that he did exactly what I wanted him to do.

I extended my arm out and took back the weapon from him with the Force and pulled the lightsaber back to my hand. “So you can levitate objects. You told me and your master that you couldn’t.”

Fear became clearly apparent on his face. He knew that he was caught and couldn’t escape this one. He looked up to me, close to tears.

“You killed Jake?” I said more as a statement than a question.

After hearing those words, Adam came in to confront his padawan. The way he walked wasn’t indicative of rage, but of a grieving father. I remembered how enraged Adam was back in the morgue at the thought of seeing his son’s murderer brought to justice, but what he felt in that moment was pure grief. He held back his tears, but it was his controlled breathing and pausing in speech that gave away just how hurt he really was. “Eric... the truth will come out eventually. I can help you, but... I need to know what happened.”

Eric began crying, sobbing just before the tears streamed down his cheeks. I had to admit that I found it odd to see a Sith that would show such weakness so easily, which was why I believed he genuinely felt remorse for what he had done. “Master... I didn’t want to do it. I did something... something that would have gotten me expelled from the Order and Jake found out.”

“What? What did you do?”

Eric’s head sagged from guilt, blinking rapidly as tears continued rolling from his eyes. He seemed ashamed of what he had done and didn’t want to admit his guilt, as if the spare Adam the pain of the truth. “Do you remember the fire in Jake’s school a while back? The one that killed three people? I started it.”

Adam wasn’t quite sure whether to be enraged or relieved to hear the truth. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing to hear about more deaths that were caused. “What happened?”

“Jake was doing a project of some kind and I did something to it which I wasn’t supposed to. That’s how he figured out that it was me.” Eric continued as tears began to pour from his eyes.

Adam had been blinking rapidly, as if too scared to ask what happened next, so he asked “Why didn’t you come to me about this?”

“I didn’t intend to tell anyone, but Jake told me that he knew what I did. He had something that would prove it was me who started the fire and told me that if I didn’t do what he asked, he’d give it to the police and then the’d expel me from the Order.”

“What things?” I asked.

He started sobbing more intensely “Stealing. He wanted me to rob people and give it to him.”

Adam’s expression turned into one of shock. I didn’t know exactly what it was that surprised him so greatly, but I expected that I would soon find out. “Wait... are you saying that this latest incident... you were stealing a ceremonial sword because Jake demanded that you take it?”

“Yes. I mean... at first he didn’t ask for much, but he said that if I got that old sword for him, he would not ask for anything again.”

I interrupted the two, mainly because I didn’t believe him and felt that I needed to know more than Eric was letting on. “Hold on, what old sword?”

Adam answered. “Eric had been accused of stealing a valuable sword two days ago. They had been some security camera records that showed both of them with the sword.”

“I stole many other things and gave them to Jake; I never kept anything for myself!” Eric cried.

Adam’s jaw hung open, as if he actually believed all that. I knew that he had to be lying, which was why I brought up my concerns. He just shook his head. “Jennifer said that police had searched through Jake’s room and found a few thousand credit’s worth of loot that we didn’t buy. I haven’t found anything like that in Eric’s possession.”

“Of course you wouldn’t. He wouldn’t leave something like that around for anyone to find.” I answered.

“But if he’s telling the truth...” he turned around. “Eric... why did you do it? Why did you kill Jake?”

He sobbed more intensely than before. “When they found out that it was me, I thought it was because Jake told the police. I didn’t know... I didn’t know.”

Adam looked away, realizing that his son was only killed because of a misunderstanding. It didn’t make it any easier to learn it was done by someone close to him, but the truth was finally out.

I stared at Eric and realized that maybe this whole thing could have been a mistake and that there was not going to be any thoughts of vengeance for this murder. If Eric had only known that Jake wasn’t the one who revealed the truth, maybe he would have still been alive. Maybe if everything Eric said was the truth... there was a lot that had to be verified, but it looked like I had come to the bottom of this case. I wish I could take some satisfaction in knowing who was responsible, but this was likely to be a very very bittersweet resolution, one way or another.

--------

It turned out that everything Eric told us was true. I investigated police records and found that Eric was wanted for the major theft involving an artifact sword.

Not long after that gut-wrenching conversation did Adam have a meeting with the Council. Although I wasn’t invited, I wanted to speak on Eric’s behalf, given as I had once instructed him. The truth was that I just wanted an excuse to be in the Council chamber so that they would not be allowed to discriminate against him because he was a Sith.

Adam told me that the meeting was meant to discuss what would become of Eric. Obviously with everything that’s happened in the last day and a half, there was a lot to discuss with Adam.

“What is she doing here?” Master Vrook barked.

Adam briefly looked back to me and then answered for me. “If this meeting is to discuss my padawan’s future, I think that it would be wise to include any input that Yuthura might have to offer. She had instructed him before he was admitted to the Jedi and I’d like her here as a character witness.”

If I had said that, they would have known that to be a lie. The truth was that I barely knew Eric while he was on Korriban and really knew nothing worth adding to the records, but I wanted to stand up for Eric if he genuinely felt remorse for what he had done. I almost couldn’t help feeling the way Revan did when I turned on him. I just felt that Eric was a victim in this and that he wouldn’t have behaved like a Sith had he not been coerced by Jake.

“Very well, if you wish her to be present, then I have no objections.” Vrook answered. “Adam Morton, before we begin, I just want to offer our condolences for the loss of your son.”

Being reminded of Jake again, Adam’s diverted his eyes downward, as if he’s heard those words all too often. His voice was equally down. “Thank-you.”

“This is the reason why the code forbids marriage and forming attachments. Such liabilities can leave a Jedi emotionally crippled such as what just happened.” Vrook resumed.

“Yes sir.” Adam said compliantly.

“Normally such acts are punishable by exile, but given as you’ve done your duty in spite of your private life... we see no reason to carry that out. Furthermore you need not have to keep your family secret from the rest of the Order.”

“Thank-you, sir.”

“However there is another matter that we must tend to in regards to your padawan. We have received a request yesterday from local authorities to give Eric Lensure extradited into their custody. We gave us some very convincing evidence that connected with a major crime and have decided to grant their request.”

“I’ve recently spoken to Eric about that and he had admitted to killing Jake. I also learned that my son had been extorting him for the last two months.”

Zhar had been behooved by what he just heard. “What? You mean that Lensure is responsible for a murder as well?”

I stepped forward. “Are you saying that’s not the reason why you’re extraditing Eric?” They stared at me, wondering why I asked that question. “I was working with local authorities to find out who killed Jake Morton.”

Zhar stood up and approached me. “I would like to have a word with you... outside.”

I did as I was told and went into the hallway just outside the chamber with Zhar close behind. I folded my arms and waited for him to explain what was going on.

“This news of Eric Lensure being responsible for Adam’s son is disturbing. We had no idea that he was a murderer.”

I tilted my head to the side. “If that’s so... then what are you extraditing Eric for?”

He didn’t answer; he just brushed me off again. “I would like you to give me all that you know about this murder and inform the local authorities who you’re working with that I’ll be taking over for you.”

I sneered at the twi’lek master for so callously demanding to be the greatest authority on everything. It was almost insulting to me because Alfred asked me to tend to the matter personally and there I was being told that it was not my responsibility anymore. “There is nothing else to take over for. I found the killer and he confessed...”

“I have my own investigation going on and either you can answer to me, or I can take over for your investigation. I think you would find it easier if you just connect me with the precinct you’re working with.”

After the moment I needed to acknowledge his logic, I sighed and reached into my pocket to grab the datapad which connected me to the police and morgue data base. “This will have all the information you’re probably interested in. If you want to take responsibility, then it’s yours.”

He took the pad from me and logged on for a brief moment to verify that it was authentic. After a simple thank-you, he just turned around and went back into the Council chamber, all the while tapping erratically through the files on the device. I couldn’t help feeling ignored, but he didn’t invite me back in with him.

--------

I waited outside for Adam to conclude his business, which only took about another minute after Zhar walked off. When I was about ready to just go back to my life again, he and Master Vrook walked out together while in mid conversation.

“I will ask for them to postpone the hearing for tomorrow while Master Zhar goes over the new evidence. If you speak on his behalf, we might be able to convince them to reduce the sentence to a few months.”

“What about after that?” Adam asked.

“If he wishes to return to the Order, and he’s sincerely willing to do what it takes to become a Jedi, we’ll welcome him back. I would just recommend that another master train him.”

“Yes. I would just like to put this whole thing behind us, but it would be terrible to see another life lost.”

Vrook sorta glared at me and then back to Adam, as if to silently warn him about me before turning around to head back to the Council chamber.

When the door closed behind him, I asked Adam if he was alright.

“I don’t know. I had always thought that I knew Jake as any father would know his son, but when I look back on all the times I wasn’t there for him... I thought that I could continue to do my duty as a Jedi and also make the time for my family, but I let so much slip by.”

I got in front of him to make eye contact. “You can’t blame yourself for what Eric did. If he had been more open to you in the first place, it might not have come to this. Still... standing up for him now takes a lot.”

He sighed and looked in another direction. “I loved Jennifer. But I also knew that my gift couldn’t go to waste, which was why we kept the truth from the rest of the Order. I had taken young padawans and trained them outside the Temple so that I could be with her and Jake a little more.”

He paused for a moment and I asked another question that I couldn’t figure out. “Why did you take Eric... wouldn’t you have wanted to train Jake to use the Force?”

“Jake wasn’t Force-sensitive. One in a thousand children of Jedi decent don’t feel the Force. It was because of that Jennifer and I didn’t have another child. It would have invoked favoritism among them, so we intended to make him our sole responsibility. I thought he and Eric were close friends, which was why I left them to... just be boys. In my attempt to compliment both my life as a Jedi and as a husband and father, I failed at both.”

When he walked away, I had wanted to comfort him; but knew that he just wanted somewhere to grieve by himself. Considering all he had been through in the last two days, it was a relief to see him finally give in to his feelings.

When a volcano begins to awaken after years of being dormant, many breathe a sigh of relief when it stops venting and returns to being dormant. Such people probably assume that it just went back to sleep and that it had become peaceful again, but they often don’t realize that the venting actually had been relieving the enormous pressure that had the mountain ready to erupt in the first place. If the people were afraid of the damage a volcano would cause, than they obviously would have had more reason to be afraid. The calm demeanor of a dormant volcano is offset by how violent the eruption becomes.

Adam wasn’t a volcano, but seeing him in such a terrible state was a relief. It was as though he were under a lot of pressure and found a way to ease the tension in a controlled manner. He still had much pain and anger to deal with, but it seemed as though he would not erupt all at once.

I made no mistake: Adam lost a son and the situation was far from stable with Eric. The only difference was that the healing process had begun and the damage had been contained to only the loss of one boy. The wounds inflicted upon everyone else could heal.

-----

The hearing over Eric’s extradition was rescheduled to the next day and I wanted to be there in case Adam needed someone to talk to. The event took place in a courtroom, where a Jedi representative would officially turn Eric over to the Republic authorities. Jedi aren’t usually given over to local authorities, but what Eric did unofficially got him expelled. There were a lot of rules and regulations that I couldn’t figure out, but we were just there for tradition’s sake.

I sat next to Adam, who had been behind the bench where Eric was supposed to sit. We spoke for a short while before the hearing began. “I must say that I’m surprised you would stand up for him to receive a much lighter punishment. I would have imagined you’d want nothing more to do with him.”

He sighed and rested his head upon his wrist. “I lost a child. I would not want to see another lost due to a life in prison. He still has to serve time for what he stole, but his cooperation will reduce that sentence.”

“You know that... being Eric’s master doesn’t make you responsible for what he did. He and Jake both took actions which lead to this outcome which could have been avoided.”

He looked at me for a few seconds, trying to rationalize his reasons for requesting a lighter sentence for the very one who murdered his son. He started blinking as he began to speak, likely trying to explain it to himself than to me. “Jake probably grew up wanting his father and I deprived him of that. Eric had a hard life. What he did wasn’t entirely his fault and I can understand that this whole thing was tragic and could have been avoided. I am now doing this so we can avoid another conflict like this.”

“Still it is a noble thing that you’re doing. I think that if he is allowed to continue training, he’ll become a credit to the Order. I also hope that you can heal from the loss of your son if you think this helps Eric.”

He blinked back more tears and nodded. “Jake’s dead. Nothing I can do will change that. The last thing I would want is to throw away another life if it could be saved. Maybe then... it might make it easier to know that Jake didn’t die for nothing.”

I could hear the pain in Adam’s voice. Although he hid his grief, I could tell that he had still been suffering from the loss of his son. Thinking of how composed he had been in his grief, I almost thought I understood how someone could suffer a terrible injustice and be able to let it go. I did not believe I could ever forgive Omeesh for what he did for me, but I almost came to think that was what I should have done. The pain and hate I felt for the injustice committed against me and my friends... those were all behind me and nothing I could do would change what happened. The best thing was just to accept it and move on.

-----

Shortly after the hearing began, Master Zhar had entered the chamber and stood behind the Jedi representative. “I’m very sorry, Your Honor, but we made a mistake. The deal we made to Eric Lensure and the Republic court in regards to the murder charge is withdrawn.”

The judge directed his attention to Zhar. “Hearings have begun. I can’t dismiss this midway through...”

“We made a mistake. I had evaluated the evidence and discovered that Eric had lied to us. The artifact he stole was in Jake’s possession shortly before he was killed, but he intended to return it to its rightful owner.”

“What do you mean ‘intended’?” the judge asked.

“Jake returned the artifact to the wrong address and it had just been recovered. We also found that all the activities in which Jake Morton participated in... he had deposited credits into bank accounts to pay for whatever was stolen.”

Adam’s jaw dropped as he heard Zhar speak. “What are you saying?”

“We believe that Jake returned the artifact and that Eric killed him after he discovered it was gone. We also found that the stolen property found in Jake’s room didn’t have any of his prints on it, but it was thoroughly touched by Lensure. He planted that evidence to cover up the truth.” Zhar continued.

Shock became clearly visible on Adam’s face as he rose to his feet and addressed Eric. “I believed you.” He slowly walked towards him, anger becoming more and more apparent. “I defended you.”

Master Zhar stepped in the way to protect Eric, who’s expression hadn’t changed, even after his lies had been revealed. He didn’t seem to care that he had destroyed a life, which only seemed to intensify Adam’s pain. He still appeared in shock, but I saw that look of a berserker manifest itself. I couldn’t blame him; I wanted to kill Eric and I wasn’t the one who lost a son to him.

Sometimes a volcano could appear most peaceful moments before it exploded, even when the catastrophic reaction deep beneath had been surging for hours. In that brief moment before eruption, that strange behavior not indicative of an explosion might not be apparent. Those who recognized continuous low-frequency vibrations, the symptom that precedes an eruption, don’t have to see the volcano explode before deciding to run.

That shock I saw in Adam and knew that it was going to escalate into something terrible. His voice had been almost normal until I took a hold of Adam’s arm to keep him back. It was that little act of restraint which made him lose all control. “You lying little Bastard!”

The judge pounded her grapple. “Order in the court!”

When he continued towards Eric, I tightened my grip and extended my other arm over his shoulder. Adam’s voice intensified to a deafening scream. “You murdered my son!”

When he tried to brush me aside, Master Zhar took Adam by the opposite shoulder to hold him back. Even with two people holding him back, Adam wouldn’t let them stop him from getting to Eric. He fought me and Zhar, but couldn’t overpower us both. The screams of his rage and pain echoed throughout the chamber as he shouted in a language that I couldn’t understand. The two-syable curse which he started chanting just seemed so much worse than anything I could understand. It was as though the message he wanted to convey was so terrible that no words could possibly express his rage.

There was a saying that nothing was as frightful as the resolve a parent had for his child. I once heard it said that the scream of a grieving father were more intimidating than the loudest war drum. I couldn’t verify the second part of the statement, as I’ve never heard a war drum; but I knew it to be true.

I was nearly paralyzed by just how much anger and pain I heard in Adam’s voice as he shouted with all the rage he had restrained until that moment. I wasn’t even the one he wanted to kill and I was terrified. I could barely see any fear in Eric’s eyes, which I just couldn’t believe. That boy had to be out of his ****ing mind not to be afraid then.

As Zhar helped me restrain him, there came a point when Adam stopped resisting and allowed me to guide him out of the courtroom. He started sobbing, but hadn’t shed any tears as his breathing became increasingly erratic. Eventually he turned around and hunched against a wall and I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

“I can’t believe this is happening...!” he weakly exclaimed. “I can’t breathe... I can’t breathe.”

“I’ll help you outside. Get some air.”

He slapped me away and placed his hands upon his knees, struggling to stand. “Jake... Jake... I’m so sorry. He murdered him... Jennifer... I’m so sorry!

I got beside and helped him to stand up straight when a guard approached. “Do you need a doctor?”

“Just give him some room.” I answered and then whispered to Adam it would be alright. Obviously that was a lie, as things had yet to become worse.

Out of the courtroom came Eric escorted by an armed guard. Passing by Adam, Eric deviated from his path to speak to his former mentor. “Master, I’m sorry for your loss. I really am.”

As the guard pulled Eric back to walking towards the exit, I saw Adam’s grief begin to turn back into rage. “You’re not sorry. You cannot be if you don’t feel for anything!”

I gently tried to pull Adam away from staring at Eric, but then I noticed his head directed at the first guard’s weapon. I didn’t know why I hadn’t acted when I saw what was going through his mind; maybe because I didn’t expect that he would do the same thing I would... but he extended his arm and the weapon was in his hand. Less than a second later, the gun was pointed at Eric and the trigger had been pulled.

By the time I reacted it was already too late, but I got hold of the arm with the gun and pinned Adam against the wall. With help from the guard, I wriggled the weapon from his grip until it fell to the floor. The guard had already started cuffing Adam, even as he collapsed to his knees with his face pressed against the wall.

I looked up to confirm that Eric was dead and realized that Adam had lost much more than his son to that monster.

--------
(Three days later)
--------

I’ve often wondered if Jedi were above the law. We enforced it, but when we did terrible acts, we escaped punishment. Adam had murdered a boy, but the consequences of his trial were either exile or forgiveness. Any other murderer would have been put on trial for 20 years or to gamble it all to escape punishment with reasonable doubt.

I could not speak such words, as I had my own crimes which I escaped. I was called before the Council to speak what I had witnessed when Adam killed Eric and I had been convinced that he acted out of grief and anger for what Eric did. And because he sought out only the one who was guilty, he did an irrational act which likely wouldn’t happen again.

Master Vrook claimed that as Adam maintained his composure from the time he saw his dead son to when he shot Eric, that it was not grief which drove him to murder, but revenge. I found it absolutely absurd to believe that what he did was a ‘carefully planned execution.’ I admit that I wanted to kill Eric when I found out what he had done. It wasn’t that Eric simply murdered Jake, but that he sought to cover up the truth by tarnishing Jake’s memory.

I knew that the question I was presented wasn’t whether Eric deserved to die, but that Adam didn’t have the right to kill him. Even when I would have answered that no one had that right, I defended Adam throughout the course of his trial. It was because of Eric that Adam acted, so I rationalized that Eric forfeited his right to life when he killed Jake.

It was just terrible, no matter how things played out that day. If Eric lived, he would have killed again and Adam would have always had that unresolved sense of justice until the day he died. It would have been so much better if Eric hadn’t been lying to us, but... it just wasn’t what happened.

-------

When I saw Adam after his trial was over, he thanked me for my contribution to his side of the argument. Master Vrook still was bitter at the outcome and approached him. “You seem pretty satisfied.”

He turned around and folded his arms across his chest. “Satisfied? That’s not exactly the word I would use to describe how I feel right now. If you think that I’m satisfied to lose my son only to kill the one responsible and get away with it; then you’re even more naive than I ever would’ve imagined.”

Vrook frowned at him and then at me. “So you admit that you got away with it. You escaped the punishment you deserve. Surly you must feel something for that.”

“If it pleases you so, I’ll admit that I’m glad Jennifer didn’t have to suffer the loss of a husband as well.”

“Except that would have been because of you, not him.”

I spoke up. “Say that when someone deliberately does something to hurt you and you may not be so quick to judge. That’s something you’ve never been faced with... Master Vrook.”

Vrook snarled and just about turned away before remembering one other thing. “I just have one question and I want the truth. Nothing you say at this point will make any difference. When did you decide to kill Eric?”

Adam stared at Vrook for a long moment and then to me. “When Zhar said that Eric had manipulated the truth. When I knew what he was, I knew that I would kill him. It was just a matter of finding the right time and place... and I did.” He faced Vrook again. “You were right. What I did was a ‘care fully-timed execution.’ I was always in control.”

My jaw dropped, only to a limited extent. The thought of how enraged he seemed compared to how he actually felt... I just couldn’t imagine someone able to maintain himself after what Eric did. “You manipulated us just like Eric had?”

“There is just one significant difference: Eric would have killed again. I won’t.”

When Adam turned away, I had been left with a very uncomfortable thought. He had played me just as Eric had with him, but what intimidated me was that he thought it was alright for him to do so. That sounded much like the way I rationalized one vile act which lead me to taking many more after that.

What made me even more uncomfortable was the thought that I would have defended him, even if I had known that he was just playing me before the trial. He was the victim; not Eric... yet I knew that it was wrong to murder for any reason. And that’s exactly what Adam did... even if it was done against another murderer. I could try to justify that Eric would have killed again, but I knew that what happened wasn’t self defense.
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:41 PM   #4
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