SW: TOR: FRICTION
Part Eleven of an Old Republic Tale by MsFicwriter
THE GNARLS, TYTHON, THREE DAYS LATER
(Author's Note: "The Gnarls" is a playable area in the SW:TOR MMORPG.)
If Master Karos wanted me to prepare for war, then prepare I did, subjected to grueling fourteen-hour-per-day regimens. Most of these hours were spent fighting, either against Karos in the Jedi Temple's Training Room or against the Flesh Raiders, native inhabitants of Tython. These were monstrous, carnivorous creatures that would devour anything in their path--including one another, if there were no other sources of food available. As of late, they had begun to prey upon the peaceful citizens of this planet, including the Jedi. For the past three days, I'd been charged with "liquidating their numbers", so to speak.
"They are a menace," Master Karos had said, "and must be eradicated."
I couldn't help but give a little start at this assignment. To eradicate
meant not only to kill, but to tear the Flesh Raiders apart at the root. This would mean locating all of their brood females and slaying them: in short, extinction. When I mentioned that perhaps they could be brought to reason instead of slaughtered outright, my interim Master had told me not to be so naive. The Flesh Raiders, although they stood upright and had the capability of using tools and weapons, were not fully sentient. They were only driven by the desires of animals: hunger, thirst, sleep, and mating. However, since they were cannibals, they were also hounded by the need to slay their own kind.
"Flesh Raiders are much like the Sith," Karos stated. "Thus, go and exterminate them."
"Hold," I countered, holding up a hand in protest. "Unlike the Sith, the Flesh Raiders have no way of examining their actions, if what you say is true. That would mean that killing them would serve no purpose, except to keep the people of Tython safe. It seems cruel to me to wipe them out, as dangerous as they are." Oddly enough, something occurred to me just then, which was totally unrelated to the current mission for me. "Besides, don't both of us have other concerns? What about the Sith holocron, and Tamara?"
"My former student's trial is tomorrow at 1900 hours," Master Karos replied coolly. "She will face the Jedi Council and answer for her actions against you. As for the holocron, the deeper I delve into its mysteries, the more volatile it is becoming. I do not wish to have you exposed to it any longer. The Dark Side is potent, especially for Padawans."
"I understand, but have you learned anything new? Are you sure that the voice you heard speaking to the holocron was Tamara's? It was quite faint when I heard it."
"True, but this malevolent object we discovered carries her distinct signature in the Force. I'm sorry, but the evidence against her is clear." Master Karos raised an eyebrow. "Besides, why are you defending her? I thought you and she were bitter rivals, Yllari."
"We were," I answered, "but I don't want to see her exiled or imprisoned. Jedi give a second chance to those who have fallen, and who've seen the error of their ways."
"I don't believe Tamara has. As far as I know, she is still intent on finding Revan, the Dark Lord who was indeed given a second chance. She insists that her course of action is the right one, despite the dangers of venturing out into the Unknown Regions." She sighed. "Why have I allowed you to distract me from briefing you on your assignment? Both Tamara and the Sith holocron can wait. The Flesh Raiders can't, and they won't once they sense prey." Scowling visibly, Master Karos asked, "Do you understand? You must remember: who is the Master, and who is the Padawan?" Her words hung in the air. "Who is the student, and who is the teacher? Do you possess more wisdom than I?"
"No." I bowed my head. "I'll head into the wilderness of the Gnarls immediately."
"Good. See to it that you take a hunting partner along--if he's well enough."
As it turned out, Qyzen Fess was itching for excitement, and another chance to prove his worth to the Scorekeeper. I insisted, however, that he wear extra pieces of protective gear and serve as a sniper instead of a juggernaut. I didn't want him fighting toe-to-toe with the Flesh Raiders, and I told him so. Even though I disagreed with Master Karos on almost every point of her teachings, she had embedded a certain piece of wisdom deep within me: In the galaxy, everyone and everything has its proper place. It is best if all of us attempt to fulfill our place in every way we can. If not, the galaxy is lost.
Qyzen, as an injured warrior, had a stronger (and safer) place at a distance.
"I am not insulted,"
he said after a pause. "Your plan is sssound."
Thus, the Trandoshan and I ventured out into the wild landscape of the Gnarls. We met the slavering Flesh Raiders and spilled their blood, despite my sharp reservations and Qyzen's infirmity. I discovered that my companion in the hunt preferred headshots: quick, clean, and ruthlessly efficient, just like him. As for me, I tried not to let the flashes of my twin silver blades blind me, or the heat of battle sear me, as I slashed the creatures' bodies. War was not the Jedi way; neither was wanton slaughter. However, innocent people were being killed and eaten, so the Flesh Raiders' deaths were perfectly justified. Still, the more of them that fell before me, the more fearful and angry I became. Was this
what Master Karos had intended for me? Surely not.
There is no emotion; there is peace. Emotion is a path to the dark side.
I had to learn to slay my foes as Qyzen did, without compunction--only the prowess that came with years of brutal experience, and something more...
Gritting my teeth, I dropped my saberstaff unceremoniously upon the ground, splattered with blood. As I clapped both of my hands to my temples, I shut my eyes and tried to listen to the anguished plea I heard:
Mission...terribly wrong. Sith on all sides...ambushed...abducted. PAIN.
Qyzen, spotting me from his vantage point, crept to my side as skillfully as a predator, but with the protective air of a malraas cat eyeing her young cub.
"What is it?"
"Master Yun," I said, my eyes watering suddenly. "I heard him call out through the Force, and in great distress. He has been captured by Sith forces..."