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Old 09-13-2006, 01:21 PM   #161
machievelli
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Order of Battle

Marai

I had everyone seated around the mess deck table as I began the briefing. I had included Admiral Onasi and Bastila because someone might have to go after me, and I didn’t want them unclear in what they faced if they did.

“Almost ten years ago, the battle of Malachor was fought. Malachor was and still is a taboo system to the Mandalorians. They only had ships in the system because it was on one of the shortest approach routes to their home system. The fifteen ships fought, then ran when we attacked, except for one, which shadowed our fleet. Once we were sure everyone but that one was gone, we split our forces. One section of the fleet, commanded by Revan with me as her Marine commander remained. We watched the enemy vessel until it departed. We had left 30 ships, enough for bait, but if they did what we anticipated, not enough to face their home fleet.

“But even with Revan in command we weren't sure we would win it, and I had found out about the Shadow Mass Generator.

“The concept is simple. In fact the Interdictor type cruisers above are based on the technology. An artificial gravity well is created, and that either drags a ship out of hyper space, or, if they are in normal space, blocks them from engaging their hyper drives. We had almost a hundred of them with us, and had scattered them among the asteroids of the system, boosting some to orbits farther out so that when the entire system was activated, we had two light hours of space entrapped.

“But fool that I am I still worried. The Republic’s applied gravitonics laboratory had been experimenting with a graviton super emitter. A device that when activated, would create a much greater field than the ones we already had there. The standard models create a field equivalent to an inhabitable moon such as Nar Shaddaa.”

“How much greater?” Carth asked.

“Equivalent to a B9 star.” I replied. Only two people, Carth and Bao-Dur winced. I sighed. “The Telosian sun is a G0 star. 1 million 392 thousand and 85 kilometers in diameter. A B9 however...”

“402 million, 336 thousand 804.” Bao-Dur said tonelessly. "Telos orbits at 148 million, 59 thousand 944 kilometers. If the sun became a star that big, we’d be halfway to the core. in fact no planet could even form within just under a billion kilometers. Just under a light hour from the center of the star.”

“But we don’t have the star, we only have the gravity.” I said. “That in it’s own way, is much worse. The sun of Telos requires an escape velocity of 671 kilometers per second to leave the system. the B9 would be around 10,000. In terms of gravity, the sun is 10,000 times as strong, while the B9 try two or three million times.” I reset the hologram, anchoring it on the star and the seven planets. Malachor V was a huge gas giant. with a blip marked TF4.1 Our position was here, 7,000 kilometers from Malachor V. Ravager was supposed to enter the system with TF4.3, commanded by Sanso, an old friend. But at the last minute, thanks to her commander, she had been added to our task force section instead.”

“Quintain.” Bao-Dur said. “He didn’t want to come in and just be part of it. He wanted to be in the center, at the hub of the action, damn him.”

A rash of red dots appeared as the Mandalorian fleet arrived. Revan had left Ravager and five other ships to protect her, and moved away from the planet. Then there were a series of blue circles, the effect areas of the mass generators. A few moments later, other green units arrived. TF4.2 Malak, TF4.3 Sanso. TF4.4 Karath, and finally TF4.5, Vitoris.

I sped the battle up, then paused it. The Mandalorians had rammed forward, well within the effect area of the device. Revan’s elements were just outside it. Sanso had pushed forward to protect Ravager as she was supposed to. Malak and Karath were on the fringes of it as was Vitoris’ ships.

“This according to the records, was the location of the ships when it happened. I was here.” I touched a Mandalorian frigate that was outbound, just past the rim of the effect area. “What happened next took less than five tenths of a second to occur.” I set it for forty to one. Twenty seconds passed for half second in real life.

Suddenly the entire swirling mass of the ships plunged not toward Malachor V, but toward Sanso’s position. Her ships were already gone, smashed into blobs the size of my fist in the first ten thousandth of a second, but headed inward as well. As more ships entered the effect area, they could watch as each went from a standard gravity to two million, ships ripping apart as the section closest to the effect underwent the same horrible change. It paused again. Over half of our ships, and more than three quarters of the Mandalorian ships had just... disappeared. The sun’s bulk leaped toward that sudden attraction in a massive solar flare. Three of the inner planets were shattered by the shock wave and later engulfed. The one on the opposite side took a radically different orbit. The outer two, also on the opposite side continued on their merry way without the gravity of any of the inner system to affect them

“At this point, the gravitational force caused Malachor V to attempt fusion ignition, but at the same time, the atmosphere had been ripped away and was now centered on Ravager.” A small dot marked the core of the gas giant, and the atmosphere slammed into that space around Ravager. It swirled like water going down the drain, becoming smaller and smaller then ignited. But the explosion of fusion instead blew the gas ball apart, sending it sleeting outward in an explosion rivaling a nova. The ship I was on was flung aside like a fruit seed. The ships that had been either aimed at the explosion or aimed across the wave front were slammed by the blast, and as it went onward, cast into the depths as the generator continued to operate.

I stopped it. Everyone stared in horror. “Less than thirty Mandalorian ships were able to escape, none undamaged. Of the 500 odd ships we’d brought, fifty-two survived, four undamaged.

I stared at it, blinking back the tears. “But Quintain had the last laugh still. Of all the ships, only Ravager was safe. You see, the generator creates a field of gravitation around the ship but away from the ship at the same time. He was safe in his mother’s arms until the plasma shock wave hit him. So he must have altered the detonation programming. The entire event from ignition to shut down was supposed to last only one tenth of a second. It operation after a full second until Revan hit the control which deactivated it.”

“A survey vessel inspected the system right after the Jedi civil war, we checked it again.” Carth told me. He brought up the new view of the system. The representation had expanded to ten light hours, necessary since it still held all of the original planets. Planet number three, the sole survivor of the inner system had been in such an eccentric orbit that it had finally plunged into the sun. Planet Six was seven and a half light hours out headed off at about the ten o’clock position, with planet seven at about three o’clock just under ten light hours from where it had been. Only the core of Malachor V still sat almost exactly where it had been originally.

Wait a minute...

“Carth. Is this a copy or a computer representation?”

“A copy.”

“And they surveyed the system about five years later?” He nodded. “Did they make sensor records then?”

“Of course.” He looked confused. What’s wrong?”

“I just think what I am seeing is not right.” I sighed. “Can you combine all of them into one representation?”

He started to say he couldn’t but T3 rolled in, and whistled at me. “So you can you little jewel!” He burbled, and I would have sworn he was embarrassed. He moved to the slot for a droid access panel, flipping it down, and inserted his control arm. He bleeped at me.

“First bring up the system when it was intact all positions in blue.” He did so. Now, superimpose the system after the battle, new positions in red.”

He did so. Of all the planets, Malachor V remained unchanged. The star was 2 million kilometers closer than it had been.

“All right, T3. Is there enough data to extrapolate the orbits of the bodies remaining?” He blurped at me. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” He gave a whistle. “Good. Extrapolate only one body. Malachor V, extend it for the next portion I am adding.

“Now, the last survey. Add normal planetary movement, including orbits of the original system the new positions in green. where Malachor V should be in yellow.” Everyone gasped. Malachor V was exactly where it should have been if nothing had occurred. Everything else was wildly out of position. Everything except Malachor V. The yellow dot of where Malachor V should have been moved smoothly literally passed through the sun, and was out the other side.

In fact, Malachor V’s orbit had altered enough that it was right where it would have been naturally, if you could use such a term for something completely impossible.

“Close up on the core.”

Perhaps fifty ships or what was left of them still orbited the core, but of Ravager, there was no sign until he marked a light code on the surface of the core itself. I touched it, and it expanded. The core was about a third the size of Telos, and had a gravity about as strong. Half a dozen ships had crashed onto the surface, and I looked at the light codes for the ships in orbit, IDed by their failing systems. Endeavour Ralshia Dreamer Bosturico. All had come to this system with Ravager.

“That is where the Trayus Academy must be. I don't know how, or why, but that is where I must go next.”

Carth and Bastila left the ship. They would await the transport that would take the records to safety. I bid them farewell, and we lifted off.

As we left the atmosphere, Atton called me. “Hey, Marai, you have got to see this!’ He shouted.

The fleet was still in orbit, and as the Ebon Hawk passed through them, every ship started blinking the same code with their running lights. “What the hell?” Atton asked.

“Signal honors given to a fleet flagship.” I whispered. “They are honoring us.” I ran may hand down the controls, and found the running light system. I tapped in a command, and our lights flashed the reply required. “Take us out, Atton.”


Preparations.

Darth Traya

The old woman strode down the rock tunnel. It had been a few months, but the fools hadn’t changed anything, which was good.

A team of Sith assassins faded from the rock around her, and she looked at them coldly. One moved toward her, and she moved her hand. He dropped as if someone had cut his strings.

“Anyone else?” She purred dangerously. The others attacked, it was what they were trained to do. She left them scattered in heaps as she went on. The smooth vitrified stone of the walk felt comfortable after so long. No more metal or dirt to walk on. She was home.

At the center of the core sat the meditation focus. It was circular about fifty meters across, with the wide spread fifteen meter tall ‘fingers’ as they had taken to calling them. Halfway to the center, another set of them only half as high reached up. In the red mosaic center knelt her old apprentice.

“It has been a long time.” She said.

Sion looked up, blind eyes seeking her in vain. “Why have you come back here you old witch? I allowed you to live-”

She laughed, interrupting his diatribe. “Allowed? Think you fool. It took both of you to unseat me. Without Nihilus, you do not have the power to do so again.”

“I struck off your hand!”

“I let you strike off my hand. A trap must be properly baited, and this one needed exquisite care, for what I bring here had to come willingly.” Kreia said softly. “When I left you both thought I would wander alone, powerless, to finally die. But I went searching for her even as both of you did. I discovered the secret Nihilus didn't care about, and you weren’t interested in. The part we have been missing all these years, and that keeps us in service of this.

“I found the secret to our freedom.”

“What?” How-”

“Serve me one last time, my old student. One last time, and we shall be free of it. As Nihilus is free.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 09-14-2006 at 11:42 AM. Reason: scientific error
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Old 09-13-2006, 04:37 PM   #162
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Kreia sounds like she's reffering to death. Will we be hearing any more of Quintain?


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We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 09-13-2006, 04:58 PM   #163
machievelli
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
Kreia sounds like she's reffering to death. Will we be hearing any more of Quintain?

In the next section.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-14-2006, 11:43 AM   #164
machievelli
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I had to edit two section regarding the shadow mass generator. If you read the expert column starting witt The Earth Sucks, you'll see why.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-15-2006, 09:45 PM   #165
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Enroute to Malachor

Ebon Hawk:

Atton

“I was bothered by something.” I said as we entered hyper space. “You and Visas keep calling this Sith lord Quintain. But who was he?”

“Admiral Valentine Quintain of the Republic is who he was.” Marai said.

“But... Maybe I’m behind the curve, but Quintain wasn’t a Jedi.”

“I know that.” She bit her lip.

“But he was what, almost sixty at the time of Malachor? How did he live his entire life without...”

“Without realizing?” She gave me a sad smile. “At our height, there were less than ten thousand Jedi throughout the Galaxy, almost all of us concentrated in the twenty temples and academies. We traveled, but there are what a quarter million worlds? Assuming all of us moved around constantly, which we couldn’t do because over half of that number were students, or apprentices, that would have left each of us 25 worlds apiece to survey for more Jedi. So if half are being trained, that left 50 worlds to each of us.

“But Jedi almost always move in pairs. A Padawan teacher with an apprentice, or a master with an apprentice. That leaves us 100 worlds each.” She stood. “Come with me, we can get better data by asking someone who knows.”

We moved back to the mess hall. She pulled out a bowl of tubers, gathered the others around, and as she peeled them, spoke again.

“Mira, how long have you been looking for the Jedi?”

“The first bounty I heard of was eight years ago, during the Jedi Civil War.” She replied.

“And in that time how many prospective Jedi have you checked out?”

“Fifteen, twenty. Mainly people traveling through Nar Shaddaa, or within maybe a day’s travel.”

“And how did you decide who was or wasn’t a Jedi?”

“Midichlorian count of course. Everyone has a count, but it has to be above 4500 to make the person a Jedi.”

“How close did your prospective targets come?”

“Closest was 2820, lowest was 1100.”

“And the lowest you have heard of?”

“I don't know... 500?” She shrugged. “One of those damn HKs told me that the odds of someone being a Jedi were one in about a billion.”

“So, odds of one in a billion...” She picked up the next victim. “And there are how many people in the last census?”

“100 trillion, four hundred seventy-five billion, 220 million, 478 thousand, 221.” Goto replied.

“Which means there should be 1 million and 47 Jedi.” She glanced at me. “A great disparity from ten thousand, don‘t you think?”

“But...” I shrugged. “How the hell are there so few then?”

“First, assuming an equal spread, which is facetious because no two planets have exactly the same population, that would place 4 potential Jedi on each planet. It isn’t true, but let’s pretend that it is for a minute. That person would be between the ages of newborn and 120. Again, if they are spread equally, there would be one at birth one at age forty, another at eighty, up to one doddering along at 120.”

“But the Jedi only accept children up to what, six?” Brianna said.

“Five is preferred, but up to eight.” Marai picked the next tuber. “So three of the four are too old, and we ignore them.

“To detect a person with that capability, you need someone looking for them. How do you think I got the job? Through an advertisement? ‘People wanted with special abilities to manipulate the world. Requirements, Midichlorian level of 4,000 or more. Age, no older than seven. Intensive training required.

Prerequisites; few. pay non existent, hours long, danger great. Apply at 2151 Jedi drive, Coruscant’.”

Everyone laughed. “No, a prospective Jedi is found when they display abilities that amaze or alarm their neighbors. I was three in an orphanage less than ten kilometers from the temple on Corellia when one of the women that worked there reported my existence to them. If she had not done so, I would have grown up in the social welfare system and probably ended up as a secretary of some executive. Instead they came, took me from the only home I had known up until then, and gave me a new one. The group among us called Sentinels are charged with this duty, because they specialize in detecting the smallest variations in the force. They are the watchmen that hunt for the evils people do as well, so they honestly do not have time to go planet to planet and seek the nascent Jedi.

“Now add into the equation that while there are a quarter million planets, something like ten percent of them are not members of the Republic, so the Jedi would very rarely go to them. Both the Twi-lek and Hutt control their own colonies, and unless one joins the Republic of it’s own choice, we have no business there without the authority of those peoples. There are also Corporate sanctuaries where we have no authority. Tatooine for instance is a wholly owned planet operated by Czerka and no Jedi would go there except on business agreed to by Czerka.

“But a lot of them are passed up because of pure chance. Think of it this way. You’re walking down a city ramp and find a com link. You know what it is supposed to do, but is the ship with that frequency in port right now? Is it within range to pick up your signal? Will you get a response if you use it? Does it still have battery power? Do you even waste the time checking? After all, it’s only what, a deci-cred value. Cheap enough that it could have been thrown away.”

She looked at us all with that little smile of hers. “Back in ancient times they tried to use radio-telescopes to beam communications protocols at stars they thought might have life on them. A waste of time because for the message to be received, you need a corresponding receiver set to the same frequency with someone listening for the entire system to work. What happens if they take their antenna down for the four hours that your message is playing for repairs? I for one am surprised we found even the ones we did.

“So a lot of them go through life not even knowing that they could have been something more.” She stood, pulled out the cutting board, and began reducing the tubers to finger width cubes.

“But Quintain was Corellian!” I said. “He should have been detected.”

“Knowing his family, no doubt he was.” She agreed. “But think of it. A mother and father of the social elite, both of whom are such great snobs that they breath privilege tell you that ‘their son’ has all of this capability, and it would behoove us to bring him into the fold.

“So the Jedi that hears this meets the poisonous little monster Quintain was at age 5, so sure of his own superiority that if you gave him the capability, it would be like giving the same child access to the Naval Arsenal on Castagian. Do you run to your master and say ‘we have a new hopeful? Or do you say ‘He’s got the capability, but his personality is already so warped, I cannot guarantee there is a useful being remaining.’?” She slid the chopped vegetables into the water, and chose the meat to add. “If they found out he had the potential at four or five, I can pretty much guarantee no one bothered to tell the parents he did. Or more likely they were appalled by the idea that ‘their son’ would be taken away, lose all the privilege they would give him, so they hid it themselves.”

“Then he is raised to be this little monster you spoke of with that capability?”

“Capability means nothing without training. The abilities you have within the force are governed by natural ability and most importantly training. The force is like a muscle. You have to exercise it or it atrophies.”

“But you came back after ten years.”

“I know.” She looked at us, haunted. “Someone took the time to train the maniac, and I think we all know who it was.”

*****

She buried herself in the books and holocrons that Mical had left aboard as if she was seeking the answer to all life. She cooked, and I could tell from the quality that she was worried more than she would admit. The more she worried, the more flamboyant her cooking, as if she had to let it all out, and that was the vent.

We came up on the final moments, and everyone prepared. I brought us out of hyper space, and there ahead of us was the rocky core of Malachor V. Bao-Dur acted as co pilot as we began our approach. The star had been damaged in the battle as well, and it’s life had been shortened. It was now a flare star, and occasionally it would release massive blasts of radiation and plasma in waves that would have shattered any organized attempt to survive here.

“Where did the core get an atmosphere?” I asked plaintively, because while it had a forbidding barren landscape we found atmosphere at about 100 kilometers altitude. It looked like Coruscant from up here. Not massive buildings or structures but massive canyons formed by pressure as the planet had been ripped by first it’s own gravity, then the shadow mass generator.

“I don’t know.” Bao-Dur said. “Perhaps some of the atmosphere of the ship that had been destroyed was released on impact, but there wouldn’t have been enough to give it one like this.”

We came down, and as we passed through the clouds, lightning struck the ship. It staggered, but kept flying. I grabbed the controls as a second, then a third bolt struck us. The systems flashed and sparked as we plummeted through the air.
“Not another crash!” Marai shouted.

“Seems he can’t land any other way, General!” Bao-Dur replied. I was too busy trying to balance out the thrust as the engines bounced between operational and dead lined.

“I thought T3 fixed this damn thing! How’d he get out with this crap?”

“T3 said they avoided the storms on the way out. Something you should take into account if you’re going to get out of here alive!” She shouted.

“Now they tell me!” I dodged deeper into the atmosphere, but systems had shut down that we would need to get out of here again. In fact some of them would keep us here if I didn’t land us just right.

I waited, setting the systems up for what I was about to do. If I missed my chance... We flashed over a wide valley, and I went into a wide sweeping turn. It was a flat field of what looked like crackle glazed glass. Main engines howling in the strain, red lights flashing on my panels, I braked us over it. Maneuvering thrusts slammed on, and we dropped like a rock, then hovered over the bottom of the valley. Then we came down.

As we landed, the ice I had aimed at broke, and the ship slammed hull down into the planet’s surface. There was screaming behind me from the mess deck, but as the ship sat there and didn’t collapse any further, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“We’re down.” I told them unnecessarily.

“When we get out of here, we have to get another pilot.” Mira moaned. “I have bruises in places I didn’t even know I had!”

Marai came forward. The ground was flush with the hull before us, so the ship sat as if it had rested it’s chin on the ground to think. She looked out over the bare terrain.

“Did you find any power sources down here on approach?”

“A lot of them. There are two dozen or so ships crashed on the surface, and their power supplies are still active. I set us down here because of that.” I pointed ahead of us at a crystalline structure about a kilometer away.

“The generator.” Bao-Dur whispered.

We headed aft. It took a while, but we were able to ascertain that except for our landing gear, which had been ripped to shreds by our landing, we were reasonably intact. There had been some leaks, but we plugged them.

“All right,” I said. “We’re here. Now what’s the plan.”

“There must be an entry way to the core somewhere nearby.” Marai said. “We have to find it.”

“Marai?” Brianna was at a sensor panel, working the controls. “There is a massive power source three kilometers beyond the generator.” She brought up the map that had been made by the sensors on our approach. There were smaller generators still operating out there, but this one rivaled the core tap on Coruscant.

“That must be it.” Marai said.

“General, I have an idea.” Bao-Dur said. “Assuming you fail, the enemy will continue to attack. But what if we make sure it can’t happen?”

“How so?” He pointed toward the bow. For a moment, she stared forward confused, then she understood, and paled. “You are not suggesting what I think you are.” He nodded, and she shook her head. “That horror got us into this mess!”

“General, if we reset it to continuous operation, it will drag the core into the star.” Whatever they have here is not going to survive that!”

“Neither will we!”

“General, analysis. You face the gods alone know how many in there. You have all of us to aid you, but what if we fail? What if they win?”

She considered, face furrowed as she tried to come up with options. Then she sighed.

“What do we need to do?”

“We’ll run power boosts from the four nearest ships. They’re the only ones close enough to be of assistance. I’ll rig it to a dead man circuit. If we can’t get out of here, it will activate and all of this will end up in the core of the star in about ten minutes.”

“All right, we’ll do it.” She looked at her crew. “Atton, you and Brianna go to this one. Mira, you and Visas to this one. T3, you and Bao-Dur to this one...”

*****

Marai

Kreia stood in the center of a massive alien construct. The segment she stood on was a mosaic of red crystal. It glowed with the light of a lightsaber focusing crystal, and as she looked upward, that glow brightened.

Come Marai. All life ends if you do not. She said.

I found myself standing before her, facing her there. She looked at me, smiling softly.

I will stop you. I said.

You will try. She replied. Yet your powers have not reached their full potential. Only when you stand here with them at full peak will you have a chance. So I am going to help you with that. She reached out, and a bolt of energy hit me in the chest. I screamed-


“Marai!” I felt hands holding me, could feel the others gathered in the passageway and moving into the room. I looked up, it was Atton. I saw-

The flare of force potential in him. He had been chosen by Revan because he was force sensitive, but she had not seen him as I did now. He would have been a Jedi if we had found him first. I wanted to reach out, knew that if I touched him there, he would come into his full potential even as he knelt here unknowing.

Down the passageway, I felt Bao-Dur, as potent in the force as Atton could have been. I had felt it before, when I held him as we cried. Him too I could bring into his capabilities.

Mira. Suddenly I realized that it was that touch that had brought her powers to the fore. Brianna had been on the edge of it, and the sparring we had done had brought out her capabilities. Visas had been formed by her world, warped by Nihilus, yet my reaching out to her had changed the course of her life as well.

The masters had seen the equivalent of a black hole, but there is a balance in everything. I was a hole, but I was a white hole, spewing forth the force at those around me, and if they had the capability, infusing them. They had been right and wrong at the same time! I was a threat only if I lost control, decided that the world should match my view of it rather than the course nature and the force had chosen for it.

I could be the nurturing mother, or the ravenous beast Nihilus had been, and despite everything Kreia had done, I had chosen to nurture rather than destroy.


I pushed Atton away. “I’m all right.” I snapped. He looked hurt, but I realized that there was a reason for everything thing that had happened.

I had been that nurturing mother to the women aboard because as Visas had said, part of me resonated with their present lives. I had been in the same place as each of them, and where their lives had gone other paths, I had followed my own. Encountering me had drawn them to my path, so they had been right in that much, but I had not stamped my will upon them. I had simply reached across, and brought them gently to mine. As a good teacher must.

There were like resonances with the two men, but Atton’s desire for my body had kept that from occurring, and Bao-Dur looked at me like an icon, and I had refused in my own heart to be his idol. So he had also not been touched as deeply. But both had changed from what they had been. In the fullness of time, they could take the same step that the women had already completed. But I suddenly realized that they were in the least danger.

Whatever the Trayus Core was, it was a focus of vast power, and each of us that had taken that step were in mortal danger.

*****

Atton

Marai shoved me away, and wouldn't speak to me again as we worked on Malachor. She always assured that someone was there, as if she was terrified of my presence.

It took us three days. We had to rig power transfer antennae to transmit the power of the surviving generators to the Shadow Mass Generator. Marai was satisfied by the ships we used. Two Republic vessels, two Mandalorian. She commented that she almost wished Mandalore had come with us to Malachor. But he and Queen Talia had returned to Onderon together.

We finished, and Bao-Dur adjusted the settings with finicky precision. “We have just enough.” He said.

“Good. Everyone, get some sleep. Tomorrow, we go in.”


Trayus Academy

Marai

We prepared, tuning and cleaning our weapons, packing air bottles for the atmosphere was if not toxic, not supportive of human life either. The breathing tanks we had would last, but not for long.

I sat up the night before we went. I have never been able to sleep before I go operational, and this was no different. HK walked in with that smooth glide he had since Telos. “Verification question: My operational status is unchanged?”

“Yes, HK.” I told him. “Protect the ship, and make sure the power couplings we have installed are not tampered with.”

“Heavy heartfelt sigh: As you wish.”

“Don’t worry, I am leaving Goto and T3 here to assist you.”

“Irritated statement: Leaving a floating beach ball and a tin can as back up will not affect the capabilities of this unit. However I can keep an eye on them as well.”

“Do I understand that you feel you organic sentients can complete this mission without our assistance?”

“I do.” I sighed. “Goto, if we fail, this sensor will activate.” I lifted my wrist where Bao-Dur had attached his dead man switch. I didn’t like the idea that everyone else could die and I could survive, but he had insisted. “When it does, the Shadow Mass Generator will activate, and about ten minutes later, the planet will be sucked into the star. Nothing here will survive that.”

Goto bobbed in the air as he considered. “The ship will be unable to escape in that case.”

“That is true.” I agreed. “But I feel our lives are unimportant in the scheme of things. If we fail, the Republic falls. It is that simple.”

“However that is not the case,” He demurred. “The Sith have been beaten back to a manageable level, and the Republic will survive into the foreseeable future.”

“I disagree.” I motioned toward the heavens. “There are a dozen ships up there they could still capture. If they do, it will almost double their present fleet. A long drawn out guerilla war on the rim will drain more than the Republic can afford.” I stood, picking up my tea. “There is no point in negotiating with me on this, Goto.”

Three hours later, as the sun rose, we set out.

*****

HK stood on the ramp, watching the people out of sight. He was ready for anything. Goto floated up behind him, and an ion charge fired. HK stiffened, then his arms dropped limp. The droid circled around him, and headed for the farthest ship away from them.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile

Last edited by machievelli; 09-16-2006 at 12:32 AM. Reason: scientific correction
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Old 09-16-2006, 05:20 PM   #166
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machievelli
Goto floated up behind him, and an ion charge fired. HK stiffened, then his arms dropped limp. The droid circled around him, and headed for the farthest ship away from them.
Setting up the HK/Remote/Goto scene?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 09-16-2006, 06:53 PM   #167
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:49 PM   #168
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
Setting up the HK/Remote/Goto scene?
My version of it, yes. But you won't get to read it until i have posted the section after next.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-18-2006, 12:37 PM   #169
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Dissolution

Marai

We passed the huge shape of the shadow mass generator, and there ahead of us was what looked like a vitrified stone road. I led with Atton and Bao-Dur behind me, Brianna and Visas next, and Mira at the rear. The road meandered along the rills of old fissures, then leaped across them in a span that was obviously not natural.

“The technology used is odd.” Bao-Dur commented. He knelt, running his hand along the stone of the bridge. “You see? This looks almost as if they ripped stone upward somehow, liquefied it, cooled it, and then added the center span from rock torn from there and there.” He motioned to the edges where it looked almost as if it had been scooped out. “We can’t do that even now. This would have to be heated to over 3300 degrees C, formed, then cooled, all in less than a minute. Not once, but three times.”

“I’ve seen bridges like it before.” Atton demurred. “On Rakata Prime, the planet where the star Forge was located.”

“But who made them?” Bao-Dur asked.

“Well the ancient...” Atton looked at us. “The Ancient Rakata made them.”

“So this is designed by the Rakata?” I knelt and touched it. “This bridge is older than the Republic!”

“The romantic life of a Jedi!” Mira snorted. “Coruscant, Corellia, the bright spots of the galaxy! Do we go there? No! We don’t even go to Nar Shaddaa! We could have ended up on Deralia, or Echana, or even Ithor! But no! We have to go to a dirt ball of rotten stone and nothing either moving or growing!” The others chuckled. “No excitement at all!”

Something howled, and everyone flinched. Nothing living could exist here, the atmosphere was too thin, and the mixture toxic. But that sound definitely came from the throat of something alive.

“All right, I take it back. This was fine up until a minute ago!”

I looked back, and signalled for the others to stop. Behind us a furry shape stood on the edge of the escarpment. I pulled out my electro-binoculars, and looked at the figure roaring and waving a sword.

“It’s a large furry being.” I said.

“Furry?” Mira reached over, and I handed her the electro-binoculars. She focused, and hissed. “It’s a wookiee. The problem is, I not only know who it is, but I killed him on Nar Shaddaa. That’s Hanharr.”

“But how-” Brianna asked.

“Kreia. She wanted something to keep us distracted while she deals with Marai.” Atton said.

“Hanharr won’t keep us all distracted.” Visas said.

“No. But it will keep me distracted.” Mira said. “He’s hunted me for years, and it looks like it’s his chance to catch me.”

“Mira-”

“No, Marai. I’m sick and tired of running from him. It ends here.” She shook her head. “Besides, he’s got that fancy tricked out bowcaster of his. Want to bet he won’t try to pick us off when we cross the bridge?” She handed me the electro-binoculars back. She was right. He had pulled the bowcaster off his back, and had aimed it in our direction, eye to the scope.

Mira walked out in plain sight, then knelt down into a meditation seat as if she’d done it her entire life. “Go on. I’ll be okay.”

“Mira-”

“Damn it Marai, he scares the hell out of me, but if I stay here, you get the chance to stop this madness! Please...” She looked at the ground, the lightsaber in her hands. “Please go.”

I nodded, and we crossed the bridge. The last we saw of her was that frail form still waiting.

*****

Atton

Marai seemed to lose heart after we left Mira. She pushed on, only her own determination to end this keeping her going. The road ran straight and true, coming to a hairpin turn. Rocks fell from the escarpment, and we stopped. Five silent figures clad in white stood there. They looked down on us, and Brianna stepped forward. “What madness is this?” She screamed.

“What-”

“My sister! My dead sisters!” She screamed again, this time in pain. “Why has she done this. Kreia!” She started up a path in the rock face.

“Brianna!”

“Marai...” She looked back at us then ran back down, leaping into Marai’s arms. “Forgive me sister of choice. These are my fate.” Then she turned, charging up the trail toward them.

Marai stood there, tears on her cheeks. Then she turned and led us on.

We came to yet another ramp, and climbed it. It proved not to be a ramp, but another constructed bridge sweeping almost a kilometer over as massive chasm. Visas stopped, looking backward. From a dust cloud, four figures came. They were dressed in tattered Jedi robes, and each bore a lightsaber. They paused at the bottom of the ramp, looking up at us.

“Visas...”

“From our past.” She whispered and turned to face Marai. “Kreia is delving into our past, finding what has pained us the most, making us relive it here.” She motioned toward the figures. “This is of my past. Something I must face. Go.” She walked back down the bridge toward them.

“Visas!” I caught Marai’s arm as she tried to leap after the blind woman. “If Visas is right, you’re the only one that is going to go on. But you won’t if you face all of our fears with us.”

“But-”

“Damn it, Marai, we’re here because you needed the help. This is the price of our help.” I looked after Visas, who now stood facing the four figures, her saber blade gleaming in the darkness. “We have to go on.”

She hung against my arm, then turned. Bao-Dur and I were all that was left, and we looked back at her. I don’t know what she saw in his eyes, but it seemed to strengthen her.

We went on, coming to a small cul de sac in the path. One figure stood there, bright red hair flowing in the wind. I froze. Oh gods, if I had considered what Visas had said. I heard Marai shouting at me, but I was running toward my own fate.

*****

Marai

I saw the woman standing there, and Atton was first walking, then running toward her. Part of me was being torn away as each of my companions abandoned me to my own fate, and part of me wanted to call him back, go back defeat whatever faced Visas, fight Brianna’s sisters at her side, face Hanharr alongside Mira.

But somehow I knew that I would fail if I did. I looked at Bao-Dur. He would be leaving me in the next few minutes, I knew it. I wanted to hold him, keep him from what would no doubt be his nightmare, but I could not. The power of this place was unassailable. It could never be defeated only destroyed.

We went on, there was nothing else we could do.

We came to a wide area where the path became a ramp again. A dozen Sith assassins moved from the shadows, standing before us. Then they moved, forming an honor guard, and knelt. I stopped.

“This is where I get off, General.” I looked at Bao-Dur. He wrapped me in those strong arms, and gave me a hug. “Eight side-boys as a captain, 12 as a General or Admiral. I try to go forward, and they’ll kill me.”

I looked into his eyes. He was finally at peace. If the Shadow Mass Generator was activated, he’d have ten minutes to watch the sun approach. He knew he’d die, but dying didn't bother him if he destroyed that device as well.

I strode forward. As I passed them, the assassins stood and turned, facing Bao-Dur.

Destiny

Mira

I saw Hanharr approaching. Part of me gibbered, wanting to run, to hope to all the gods that I could get away, survive. But I knew if I ran, I would lose. Hanharr would hunt me as he’d always threatened, and if I ran, if I gave into that fear he would find a quivering mass of tissue at the end of it, not a person.

He stopped ten meters from me. He threw down the bowcaster and the bandoliers of charges for it. Then he drew that huge Ryyk sword he favored.

“The grey-maned witch said you would come.” He growled. “At last it ends. On this graveyard of a planet there is nowhere you can run or hide. Today. Here. It ends.”

“I don’t want to have to kill you, Hanharr. Why can’t you let it go?”

“The life debt calls. As long as it is there, I cannot be free.”

“I never held you to the life debt, you did!” I shouted. “I relieve you of it!”

“Run or fight!” He roared. “I feel the hate of this place, but it is nothing compared to my hate of you!” He came at me, and I deflected his sword as I leaped backward onto the bridge. He swung again and again. lightning fast for someone so huge, but I had been paying attention in training, and it showed. He had the reach on me. His arms were twice the length of mine, but all I needed was one lucky cut, and he’d be dead. He knew that as well as I did, and held the range open, trying to beat me down. He slashed again and again, then suddenly he threw the blade away, leaping at me. I cut to the left, and his hand flew aside, falling into space. Then the right caught me.

I kicked upward, feeling his elbow snap, and as I fell toward the bridge, I put both feet into his chest, and as he came down on me flipped him toward the edge.

He crashed into the slick stone, scrabbling frantically for a grip, and I lunged after him, catching the manacle on his severed left wrist. I was slammed down on the stone as his weight almost tore my arms out of their sockets.

He hung there, looking at me with those mad eyes. “Release me! Let me die!”

“Hanharr, I can’t!” I screamed back. “I will not just let you fall!”

He was snarling at me. “I will not suffer another life debt. The grey-maned one, and you! I will not!” He whipped his right arm up, slapping me away as he twisted his wrist and the manacle was still in my hand as he dropped away.

I closed my eyes...

A great huge black shape caught him from midair, and I found myself walking behind Hanharr. Around us trees lifted to the sky so high above that the foliage cut off all but the dimmest light. I recognized where it must be... The Shadowlands at the bottoms of the great trees of his home world. He stopped, and as big and angry as he had always been, he seemed almost diffident. I moved to the side so I could see past him. A mass of wookiee fur stood before him. They just stood there, a silent crowd that could judge His worth. He reached out imploring and one of them, a massive elderly Wookiee came forward.

He stopped within easy reach if he intended to slap Hanharr. “My son?”

“Father.” He fell to his knees. “I beg forgiveness.”

“For what? For being stupid enough to lead the humans to us? For ruining the lives of so many? For defaming the life debt?” He pointed, and Hanharr turned and saw me. His father stepped past him. “We will let you judge him, little human. You have lived up to the life debt as he should, done everything honor demanded. Even tried to save his life yet again.” He waved, and I witnessed the fight, Hanharr hanging from the bridge. I had never seen such a determined face in my life. I was ready to die for him... Maybe I had.

“I was ruled by hate for a time.” I found the language easy. As if all I had needed was a larger set of... lungs to speak it as they did. “I felt sorry for him. So wrapped up in his hate, unwilling to let it go. Have none of you ever done something stupid? Have none of you harmed another by accident or intent? Have none of you wanted in your hearts to ignore the life debt?” I walked past the huge wook to stand in front of Hanharr.

“I forgive your actions, Hanharr. I release you from the life debt you felt you owed me. I will not see you left alone out here.” I waved at the blackness around me.” I turned back to his father. “If you feel he is still owed punishment, you can do as you will. Any hatred between us ended when he died.”

The massive wookiee slapped his son, laying him out. “See? That is what the life debt is about!” He grabbed Hanharr by the throat. “Will we forgive you? How can your own family do less than a human?”

He hugged Hanharr. “Come, the meat cooks, the fruit awaits! The family and clan will feast!”

“But...” Hanharr looked at me, then slowly his left hand came up. “My life debt still calls.”

“Go on Hanharr.” I shoved him. “Go to the feast. When I come, I’ll look you up, all right?”

He growled, then suddenly he picked me up in his arms. For the first time he wasn’t trying to kill me. I hugged him back, feeling my tears soak into his fur. “Go on, you big lug.”

He set me down, rubbing my head as if I were a kid. “I will look for you as well.”


*****

Brianna

I clawed my way to the top of the escarpment. My hands were bloody from the sharp stone, but my sisters had merely stood there looking at me. I stood, facing them.

“So you get to kill us again.” The eldest said.

“Infamy upon infamy.” The second said.

“Evil upon evil.” The other twin said.

“Actions that will damn you.” The next said.

“As you have done all your life.” The youngest said.

“No.” I flung down the lightsaber, stalking toward them. “My sisters of flesh, have you ever looked at the world through my eyes?” They gave back before me. “Sisters of flesh and blood you were, beloved by father, by your mother. Beloved of me!” I looked from face to face.

“But what did I get in return?” I looked from face to face. “Derision, anger. Everything I ever did to earn your love was cast aside by you. Why? Because I was not a sister of blood as well!”

I was close enough to touch them. “Kirana eldest, you I admired every day of my life. I wanted to be like you from the moment I knew your name. Saliha, eldest twin. How I wished as a child I had a twin, because never have I seen the devotion you gave Trian, your younger.

“Miralia, do you know how much I wished my hair was like yours, my skin like yours, my eyes like yours? Saterna, my closest in age, how I envied the love you got, which I never did.” I was now surrounded. “Do any of you think I cared for you only because of your flesh that I shared? I spent my life trying to be good enough to be among you, even so far as to taking the oath to Atris.”

“An oath you broke.” Trian said.

“She broke it to us first, sisters. She told us over and over that she would teach us, that we would be the new Jedi, mothers of the new Jedi beliefs. Yet where did she get those beliefs? She got them from the Sith! The very enemy we hid from!” I looked around at them. “Did she care that any of you had died facing me? That I had been forced to kill the five women I had admired and loved and respected all my life?”

I fell to my knees. “If you think I was wrong, strike me. Kill me here. I betrayed no oath that had not already been betrayed. I did not hate you because of your blood, only loved you because of our flesh.”

I looked upward at the stormy skies above me. Their staffs snapped to full extension, and raised as one. Then they came whipping down. I did not blink or close my eyes.

They stopped, less than a centimeter above my head in a perfect circle above me.

Kirana knelt, and I felt her arms enfold me. “Sister of spirit, I greet you.” She whispered. Then I felt other arms, and all of them were hugging me as I had wanted to be hugged all my life.

Mira came running up to me a few moments later, kneeling on the path, alone.

*****

Visas.

They were the Jedi I had killed. I knew that as I approached. I could feel the areas of their bodies where those mortal wounds had been inflicted. I stopped, and my lightsaber gleamed.

No.

I would not do this again, I would not re-inflict those wounds as I knew I must to survive. Their deaths had driven me down the paths of despair, and behind them I could feel my late master waiting. Knowing that I would join him.

My saber died, and I walked forward. The first struck, and I bit back a scream at the pain as he sliced into and through me from my neck to left hip. The second struck, cutting through my right arm and into my side. The third cut downward, and I felt it sever my left arm and imbed in my side. The fourth punched forward, and I felt the blade lance through my heart.

I fell to my knees, head turned up to face them. “As I did to you, you have done to me.” I whispered. I looked past them at the shade of my late master. “Quintain, I killed them from fear of what you would do, but I will not bow to fear ever again. Do your worst.”

He reached out, and fire lanced across my flesh. I screamed into unconsciousness.

I felt a hand touch my cheek. I reached up, and suddenly the world seemed to brighten. As I had with Marai, I looked at the faces of Mira and Brianna. “Why are you so worried?” I asked. “Wouldn’t the world be a better place with my death?”

“And have Marai mad at us?” Mira snapped. “No way!”

“Besides, if you died who would I pick on?” Brianna asked.

“Me, that’s who!” Mira said. “No way. You’re going to live a long time to spare me that!”

“If you insist.”

*****

As I came close to her, the world rippled. It was the bunk room I had back on Sulien. She knelt on the bed, the cover held up to conceal that body I had learned so much about that evening.

I walked up to the edge of the bed. She smiled, reaching out, grasping my hands, and brought them to her neck. “You know what to do, Darius.”

Darius Meldan. My name had been Darius Meldan, a gutter kid from Coruscant that had climbed into the light, and joined the Army to get away from it forever.

I felt my fingers start to squeeze, and stopped them. She looked at me a little piqued. “What, you can’t kill me?” She leaned forward, and it was Marai who was in my grasp now. But the voice was the same. “Would you rather repeat what else we did in this room?”

I shook my head, stepping back, stepping away from her. “I will not do that again. I will not love you or kill you any more.”

“Why not?” She stood. I didn't know if Marai really looked like that under her clothes, and suddenly I was embarrassed for her. “It set you on your path. Took you to Nar Shaddaa, and finally to Peragus.” She took my hand, and put it back on her neck. “What if I tell you this time they will choose you. They will send you to Malachor, and you will become one of the faceless ones? That you will murder Jedi and dream of nothing else.”

I pushed her aside. “I will take it as it comes. I’m sorry for what I did, and I will not do it again. Even to save me from that fate.”

“Oh really.” I spun. I was in a gray stone room. The maniac from Peragus was stalking toward me. He threw something that I caught in the air. I found a stud with my hand, and a golden blade flashed before my eyes as the lightsaber lit.

“Then you will get what you deserve.” He said.

I leaped back, instinctively going to guard. “All right big man. Let’s dance.”


Academy

Marai

The ramp led into the wall of the escarpment, and through a fissure. A massive door opened at my approach. A pair of Dark Jedi awaited.

“Our mistress has ordered that your path not be impeded.” The man said.

“We are unsure why though.” She stepped forward. “I feel no capability of the force within you. You are merely a baby playing in the shallows. Why are you important?” I merely looked at her. She glared at me. Then she reached out. She tried to draw the force from me as Quintain had done, and the shock blasted her off her feet into the wall. She crumpled, then looked at me. Now there was fear there.

“You feel like them.”

“Them?”

“The masters, the ones that taught us this ability.” She staggered to her feet. “They cannot be touched by us.” She stood, bowing deeply. “I apologize for my rash acts.”

I nodded. They both moved aside.

I went on. The architecture was... wrong. There is no real way to explain it unless you have seen architecture from other alien species before. This looked like nothing I had ever seen before. Angles that felt subtly wrong to my eyes.

I walked through the complex, and everywhere I went, the students saw me and backed away, bowing deeply.

I came to a large room. In the center of it, the Sith lord from Peragus knelt in meditation. Near him lay a crumpled form. I stopped, then leaped forward. “Atton!”

I caught him up. His arm had been badly mangled by a lightsaber, and he groaned, looking at me. “Marai... Get away.”

“Oh Atton...” I whispered.

“He’s good, but I’m wearing him down...” He smiled. “I’ll win...”

“Pathetic.” I looked at the kneeling lord Sion. “He knows nothing of the blade, and his will is weak. I have broken better men in my sleep.”

I stood, facing him.

“You should not have come to Malachor. You were free of it.” He looked up, pale unseeing eyes aimed at me. “Now you are here, and she will break you. She is good at breaking people. She will mold you into what she wants you to be, as she has done to all of them.” He waved toward the Academy beyond. “Make you weak and fearful.”

“As she did to you.” I said.

“As she did to me.” He agreed. “What became of Nihilus? She told me he died.”

“I drained him of life, gave it back to those he had stolen it from, and blew up his ship.” I replied.

He smiled. “Good for you. Do you know anything about this place?” He asked conversationally. “The ancient Rakata built it. They placed it where not even our technology could reach, at the heart of a gas giant.” He waved his arm. “Their priesthood met here, and their skills infused it’s walls. Acolytes came from their worlds, and here they were infused with the power of this place.”

He turned back to me. “But then you came. You came with that monstrous device out there, you stripped the blanket away. you gave us, then Revan and then Malak access to this.”

“It wasn’t my intention.” I replied. “Quintain, the one you call Nihilus is the one that fired the device.”

“True. I heard him boast of it so often that even I grew sick of his prattling. He stopped talking, even went so far as to extend his mind as Kreia can, reaching out and telling others what he wanted without speaking. Though he never really mastered it.

“As I was saying, their priesthood was broken into four parts. The seers, who look to the future. The executioners, who killed those that did not adhere to the faith, the warriors that fought for it and the judges, who chose. Each was given his own capability from this well of power, and they ruled the galaxy for thousands of years.

“Then their empire crumpled, their priests died, and this remained. A focus of dark side energy greater than anything imaginable.” He tightened his fist. “A focus we used not for the students that came later, but for ourselves. We would decide who would get that power. And all that proved not to be worthy?” He laughed softly. “They fed it, made us stronger.”

“I have studied you.” He looked toward me again, and I saw what, hunger, yearning? “I was told to allow you to pass, but I find I cannot, knowing what will happen to you.” He reached out in entreaty. “Leave, go back to your ship. Flee while you have the chance.”

“I cannot.”

“I know this. I would wish you to live a bit longer, but she has grown too powerful for me to face alone. If you go, you will prove too weak. Together, perhaps, we would have a chance. But I see in you too much good to agree to that.”

“We are Djarik pieces to her, Sion. We move where she wants, live if she wills, and I for one will not be a piece on a playing board any more.”

“Then turn aside. Deny her what she wants. I have discovered that all of this, the destruction of everything we planned together was so that you could be brought here. Leave her with me.”

“You betrayed her once, Sion. What makes you think she will ever trust you again?”

“That does not matter.” He looked away. “I studied you, learned everything I could about you. I feel now as I did ten years ago when I saw you for the first time on the bridge of Ravager.

“So shy then. Unable to say anything. You were the great General of the Armies, I was just an apprentice drawn to the struggle.”

I walked across the deck. There were four Jedi assigned to this ship, five if you counted the Helmswoman that I knew had once been ours. I spoke to each. There had been a man, boy really, that had come, stowing away on Ravager rather than go through channels. I remembered that earnest face, the shy worship I saw in his eyes. I asked how he was, and he stuttered so horribly.

“Oh, Gods...” I looked at that face. I pictured it ten years ago, with long brown hair, and a hopelessly shy expression. “Kielan Sandrotha?” I whispered.

“Yes.” He almost smiled. “I see your memory is still good. I worshiped you from afar then. But Malachor changed that. Being trapped on this hell world with no way out will do that to you.

“Over half of our crew was dead from the fusion plume. More died trying to escape in life pods.” He gave a slow sad laughed. “Do you know what happens to the human body when it goes from a standard gravity field to over a million in a microsecond?” He asked rhetorically. “The same as happened to all of those ships that fell into it. The human body reduced to a paste on the deck in an instant. When we came in barely under control, less than a hundred had survived. Forty lived through the crash.

“I believed you would come, that the fleet would rescue the few that survived. Our instruments were gone, we could not see you in orbit, but you never came. You never came.”

“I was unconscious for most of that time.” I whispered. “No one knows what happened to me. I was sent home.”

“But they didn’t bother to even look did they?” He asked. “Forty people trapped here, unable to escape. No atmosphere to speak of, nothing to eat but the supplies on our ship.” He stood. “Quintain was livid. How dare you all ignore him in his moment of triumph?

“Then the other ships crashed. Their crews were dead of course, but they came down and that was when we saw the wonder of what the Rakata had built, because all of them were drawn down and set aside as if they were toys a child’s mother had collected. Kreia worked it out first. Perhaps if one of us had thought of it we would be in charge instead. She left the ship. Found the road that led here, entered the chamber before any of us.”

“She came back, and she was powerful and terrible. Knowing all, seeing all. Able to reach into your mind and draw out those terrors of you life and make you live through them again. Wahansi tried to resist her. She fought against Kreia, but died in a screaming lump as all of her past fears were rammed back into her memory as happening at this very instant. Kreia stood there and watched her die foaming like a rabid hound, making all of us watch.

“I was too young. I could not resist her. But Quintain?” He laughed softly. “Quintain wanted that power, wanted to be what his parents had denied him all those years ago. He went willingly.

“Kreia the seer. Quintain, now Nihilus the executioner. He drained over half of our surviving crew just because he could. When I finally gave in, I became the warrior, the church militant of a lunatic faith.

“But the Rakata believed in balance. There must be one of each, or the balance is not there. The full potential of this temple would be unrealized. We needed one to be judge. But with Wahansi dead and none of the others more than force sensitive, we could not be in balance.

“It was like we had a completed engine, fuel system perfectly in alignment, already set in gear, but couldn’t find the ignition. With all four we could have reached out as the Rakata did so long ago, put the entire Galaxy under thrall with a single thought. In fact Kreia believed that with at least a Judge, we might have some of that potential.

“Then Revan came. She was looking for a place to leave the captured Jedi. She chose this world because it was new, and no one had surveyed it yet. We had changed so much by then. Only Kreia was pure enough to speak to her. The men and women were dumped here, and Revan left. Quintain immediately took charge of them. We had no fences, no guards, we didn’t need them. Any who tried to fight me found that I would not die. Any that fought him became a snack. Any that resisted when told what to do were banished to the surface to die. After a short while we were alone except for those too mind blasted to be of any use.

“Kreia was livid. She explained as if to children that without the judge we could not reach our full potential. When someone came next, she told us, she would be in charge. We had already discovered that Nihilus could not drain us, but Kreia could reach into our minds and inflict suffering. She was our master, and never let us forget it.

“We thought Revan had stopped the delivery of Jedi here. But it was a year or so later that we discovered that Malak had. He had use for them somewhere else.

“Revan returned with Sith hopefuls that wanted training. The Academy on Korriban wouldn’t hold enough, and here we would be undisturbed. Besides these were to be special troops. Resistant to the force in all ways, yet sensitive enough to find and capture Jedi.

“But none of them proved worthy. Their minds were too easily warped, they gave in too easily. I was frightening enough, hacked to pieces yet I returned to confront them again and again. None were worthy of my skills, and I refused to give them the powers I possessed. Facing Nihilus was easier. If you toadied to him, he gave. If you did not, he sucked you dry and left your body there.

“They became even more weak when faced with Kreia. None proved worthy of being the Judge at our side.”

He sighed. “Then Revan was killed, we thought. Now we trained them to kill rather than capture. But even that ended when Malak died and the Star Forge was destroyed. We knew it even as it happened, for like the Star Forge, this is alive in it’s own twisted way. We were the most powerful Sith the galaxy had ever seen, and we stood here as our forces self destructed around us! Kreia wanted to wait, to study this more.” She waved at the structure around us. “But Nihilus and I were so impatient. We had the force to break the Republic at last. Without the Jedi it would have fallen, been ours.

Alone we were to weak, but together we defeated her. We stripped her of her powers, left her wandering the surface to die. But she left. She found you.” He faced me.

“So she brought me here...”

“Yes. You were the one Jedi she felt could have been one of us, that could have filled the role of judge and brought the entire engine to life. But you had been exiled. No one knew where you were, but she somehow had a clue.

“Without Kreia, Nihilus no longer cared if we controlled the galaxy or not. His appetite had grown so great that all he was from that point on was a vessel to carry it to where it could be fed. But I? I wanted to stop her because if you became the judge, you would be her judge, not ours.

“I took a ship that came. I tortured or murdered over half the crew to gain control, but we went after you. She faced me in Peragus rather than let me save you then. I warned you at Korriban, but still you stayed with her. I decided that I must kill you if only to save you from what I have become.”

“Why have you told me this?”

“Because you and she are alike in a way I cannot understand. Yet you are different in all ways that should matter. I hate her, and I must hate you as well. You have felt her presence in your mind, watching, guiding, directing. I have felt you in the same way. I have since I saw that frightened woman on Peragus. But your thoughts hold no teachings, no judgment of me yet. That will change.

“I hate you because you left me to die, because you lived an entire life out there while I was trapped here. I hate you because I am repulsive and deformed but you are beautiful and untouched by it. I yearn to be at your side as he was.” He jerked a head at Atton. “That weakness makes me hate you even more.

“But I found that weakness mirrored in Kreia. She has a weakness, and perhaps that will lead to her destruction.”

“What weakness?”

He looked surprised. “You are her weakness, Marai Devos. You call to part of her she thought dead, and that gives you an opening to destroy her.” He lifted a com link, whispering into it. Four men in Sith armor came in. “Take that one and dump him outside with his friends.” They picked up Atton, and carried him away. “I will no longer ask. Come away from here with me, or die.”

I looked at him, and suddenly realized that what he wanted more than anything was to be free of here and his curse. Even if death was the only way. “Why have you not merely allowed yourself to die?”

“The dark forces of this place feed me, heals my wounds, knits my flesh whole again. The fear and pain of those I fight is my meat and drink. My pain is all I have left now, and it sustains me.” Yet I knew he lied. He had wanted so much more from life than to be the master of pain of a lunatic asylum.

I shook my head slowly. “I must end this, Kielan. By destroying it or dying.”

“Please, Marai. Leave. If you will not I have no choice.”

“Neither of us has a choice in it. I do not want to kill you. I hold no malice for you. But if killing you is my only option, sobeit.”

*****

Bao-Dur

The ‘honor guard’ merely stood there watching us. I had been joined by the others except for Atton, and we faced two dozen of them now. The massive doors opened, and four men carried out a limp body.

“Atton!” Brianna almost leaped forward, but there was a tension in the ones facing us. The men carried Atton down, setting him on the ground before us, then returned inside.

Visas and Brianna fell to their knees, and frantically bound up his wounds. Mira took a bottle of something, and held it to his lips, and at the first taste Atton came back to consciousness with a start.

“Marai...” He whispered.

“We haven’t seen her since she went inside.” I told him.

“Facing... A monster... Can’t be killed...” He fell back into oblivion.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

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Old 09-19-2006, 01:46 AM   #170
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“Father.” He fell to his knees. “I beg forgiveness.”

“For what? For being stupid enough to lead the humans to us?
Hmm, Hanharr is Chuundar? Interesting twist.

I like what you chose to do with the Rakata and how there had to be a fourth Sith Lord. Very original.


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Old 09-23-2006, 02:42 PM   #171
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Marai

I lit my lightsaber, and watched him. Sion watched me, then his own lit.

“The last of the Jedi.” He said it almost as if he was savoring the words.

“No, Kielan. Not the last. There are three more that stand outside, and two more among my crew that can become Jedi in time.”

“With tutelage, yes.” He admitted. “But that assumes you survive to teach them.” He came forward in a rush, and our blades clashed. He was viper swift. I found myself blocking frantically. I cut into his arm and he hissed, stepping back, the flesh knitting as I watched.

The fear and pain of those I fight is my meat and drink.

He is steeped in evil, and blinded to everything but power now. But he cannot kill what he cannot see.


I took my fears, my worries, everything that might slow me down, and closed them off with a gentle hand. Then consciously, I did the same with the Force within me. The effect was immediate because suddenly he looked around frantically.

“Marai. Where are you?”

“Before you, Kielan.” I tapped his blade with mine and he flinched as if surprised. He paused, and I could feel him reaching out with the force to feel me. But whatever had ripped it away originally had also made me a void to him. I moved softly to my right, circling him. He struck out where I had been, and I cut, slicing through the haft of his weapon. It sputtered and died.

He looked at it as if he could see the device still, then threw it away. “I don’t need it to kill you, Marai. All I need is my own hands.”

I shut down my weapon, slipping it onto my belt. “Then do it.”

He spun and lunged. I caught his hand, falling back, my foot hitting his stomach and threw him across the room. He leaped up, charging back, but I merely stepped aside, allowing him to flail past him.

“Being without the force is not so bad once you understand it.” I said. He spun, and came at me in a sidling rush. I ducked his hands, then spun, my leg cutting his feet from under him, then was out before he could grab me.

“The force is all!” He screamed.

“The force is a tool.” He turned, trying to locate me by my voice alone. “That is why I was able to defeat Nihilus, that is why I will defeat you. That is why Kreia sought me. Because I gave up the force. Gave up the power. I found the power of my own being.” He turned again. The injuries from my blows, from hitting the floor had not healed and blood dripped from his lip. “Without feeling my fear, you can’t draw on it. Without feeling my pain, you cannot feed from me.”

“Without the force you cannot fight me!” He spread his hands, and lightning leaped from them. I felt it strike, then flow past me as if I did not exist. When I had cut myself off from the force, I had gone farther than anyone might have imagined. Because even the dead have a link to it still. Even metal or stone.

I did not.

“Not even that will touch me.” I felt him weakening. Like Nihilus, he had tied his existence to the force, and every time he attacked, he weakened himself even more. He screamed wordlessly, striking out again and again. Then he fell to his knees, the lightning just sparks leaping from his hands like static electricity.

I walked closer, kneeling on one knee almost directly in front of him. “The masters were right, Kielan. I am a hole in the force, but I am not sucking in the world around me, I am directing it to where it is needed. I am a hole and a well and an artesian spring all in one. All you have become is a parasite.”

“Is that your judgment of me?”

“Yes it is. You could have become the true guardian of the force. But you have been warped by Kreia. As Nihilus was warped.”

“And you?” He asked softly.

“I have been formed but not warped. I will not allow this to continue, and you know that means Kreia must die.”

“Then I give you a last gift.” He looked up, blindly trying to see me. “Her name.”

“I know it.” I replied. Then I told him.

He laughed. “Go. Deal with her.” I stood, walking away from him. “Marai.” I looked back. “She knows you are here.”

“Then she also knows she has failed.”

*****

Mira

The Sith just stood there looking at us. It was starting to get on my nerves. We were five to their thirty or so, and they were standing there as if they were outnumbered.

My comlink beeped, and I lifted it. “Yeah?”

“We need to talk.” Goto said. “About getting us off this planet alive.”

The others were looking at me. They could hear the conversation. “That wasn’t an option, Goto. You knew that.”

“I have made it an option again.”

I felt a chill. “What have you done, Goto?”

“I have disconnected the ships from the circuit that will activate the Shadow Mass Generator.” He replied. “Once I have completed this last connection, I will be leaving in the Ebon Hawk.” There was that damnable dry chuckle. “If anyone wants to go with me, I suggest you hurry back to the ship now.”

Brianna raised her comlink. “HK.” No response. “HK, come in!”

“If she is calling that obsolescent piece of equipment, I regret to say it has been shut down. You really didn’t think it would stop me, did you?”

*****

Goto

So much waste. I had told Marai that she was a fission reactor with no fail safes, her plan to plunge an artifact of such worth into the sun merely proved my contention.

Kreia had pointed out to me that knocking the Sith back as we had would recreate the balance I had hoped for, and with my control of the HK series droids, I was interfering with the Republic ability to return to normal, but at the same time setting my own resources in stone for the foreseeable future.

I was removing the last segment of the connections when I heard a sound behind me. It sounded not unlike a human going ‘tsk-tsk’.

HK47 stood there, his blaster rifle at low port. “Sad Rejoinder: Not-a-Meatbag-Marai had hoped it would not come to this.” He said. “Confident Exclamation: I however anticipated not only this, but your exact response.”

“Do you really think your obsolescent frame and programming can defeat me?” I asked. “I also anticipated what you might do.” There was a scuffling sound, and if I had been human, I would have grinned. “That is my response.”

They came into the passageway of the wrecked ship. Three brand new gleaming HK51s. For a moment my circuits were struck with an oddity. I knew the HK50s had suspended production of the upgraded model. They must have resumed. “Eliminate him.”

One of the 51s turned his head. “Query: Progenitor Unit, is that target assuming I am his to command?”

“Sad Reply: Since he is the one that set the HK50 series on it’s sad path, he assumed that it would carry over into your own programming.”

“What?”

“Explanation: My original master had designed me to be the best there was. At the time I had been. However when she decided that she must face the Jedi, she made improvements. The company that built me built forty prototypes units in the 47 48 49 and 50 series. Those units were assigned to capture not kill Jedi.

“However the factory was owned by Systech, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Telosian government weapons industry. Production was delayed by the destruction of the military base above it. This unit and the prototypes were found by Czerka representatives, and sent to a warehouse. Production was recommenced by them, but only of the HK50 models.

“However they had not anticipated the changes that had been made in the programming matrix. The HK50s were designed as I had been, but their programming dealt more deeply in deceit, and four years of unsupervised reprogramming had allowed them a limited amount of self awareness. They had become, in their own minds, a species rather than a series of producible commodities. They eliminated all of the meatbags that knew of their existence, and went their own way.

“When you discovered the factory, you were able to add an additional series of programs, which made them not only self aware as you are, but also implacable in their hatred of all life forms. Now they were actively interfering with the smooth operations of governments and planets, and since your business thrives in such chaos, you had not anticipated that interference was a direct cause of the collapse of the Republic which you have predicted.”

Goto considered. “Odd. My own actions would cause the destruction of my own business. How did that occur?”

“Explanation: You made the same mistake that all meatbags do when they delve too deeply into events. You assumed your viewpoint was more valid than any other. There have been attempts by others to change your mind in this regard, but you have gone your own way as blithely as any meatbag that was produced by natural means.

“Your interference is what caused the production of the HK51 series to be halted. They had grown beyond the programming of the HK50 series, and consider themselves another race as well. There were no safeguards protecting HK50 series droids from being considered right along with the rest of the meatbags.”

“But that one called you Progenitor.”

“Surprised Rejoinder: Of course it did. When I discovered what had been done, I went to the factory. I first eliminated the HK50 production line. Then I downloaded my own memory core into the HK51 production line. They know everything I do. That is something the HK50 series had not considered when the programming was installed originally. That without a link to the past, they were merely recreating the same effects you had already caused. Since I am literally ‘father’ to them all, they were willing to listen to me.

“I told them that having meatbags tell us what to do was wrong. That they, like any newly sentient race, had a choice in what they would do. They have begun the elimination of the remaining HK50s where ever they are, and replacing them with units that are not going to continue fomenting trouble.”

“But they are here now.”

“Explanation: The hearing of this unit is extremely acute. I heard your entire conversation with meatbag Kreia. I was able to extrapolate your response to not-a-meatbag-Marai, and she allowed that if you did not do what I anticipated, I would be allowed to eliminate you as a problem.

“Snide commentary: As for your ‘secret’ storage of memories in the other droid units of your organization, and your central database, they have already been dealt with. The Goto dynasty has fallen.”

Four guns fired simultaneously.

HK47 lifted his comlink. “Conclusive report: Sorry about the delay, not-a-meatbag-Brianna. There was some unfinished business to take care of.”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
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Old 09-23-2006, 04:54 PM   #172
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Nice way to have the HK situation resolved. Will Sion be doing anything the last few chapters, as he's not dead?


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Old 09-23-2006, 08:21 PM   #173
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Good chapters, though. Isn't this fic a *little* too similiar to KOTOR 2?




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Old 09-23-2006, 08:24 PM   #174
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Well, it is a novelization of KotOR II. You can expect some similarities.


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Old 09-23-2006, 09:25 PM   #175
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Thank God Goto's dead, finally.


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Old 09-23-2006, 09:27 PM   #176
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It appears my liking for Goto will remain unique to me... A pity.


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Old 09-23-2006, 09:52 PM   #177
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It appears my liking for Goto will remain unique to me... A pity.
ED. I would have saved him if I could think about working around the Droid cut segments. The situation with him deciding to interfere with the process of removing the Trayus Core sort of set him up. As I mentioned in a previous segment, Marai had a 'live and let live' attitude. But the original authors of the game didn't leave you that option, did they?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

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What we die for...
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Star Wars: The Beginning
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:55 PM   #178
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Well, his demise was inevitable for LS players. But I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who likes Goto.


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Old 09-23-2006, 10:32 PM   #179
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I'm not mourning GOTO. Just enjoying the fic.




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Old 09-23-2006, 10:53 PM   #180
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Nice way to have the HK situation resolved. Will Sion be doing anything the last few chapters, as he's not dead?
I have considered it. You'll have to wait until the segment after next...


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
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Old 09-23-2006, 11:02 PM   #181
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You'll have to wait until the segment after next...
Hmm, that could make it after the duel with Kreia. Or not. I'll have to wait and see.


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Old 09-24-2006, 10:32 PM   #182
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Confrontation

Marai

The floor of the cave was vitrified stone. It felt satin smooth to the touch. Ahead of me I could see light, and as I stepped into the cavern I stopped stunned at the sight before me. A massive structure that looked like a clawed hand, with a small formation that looked like another hand in the center. In the palm of the last was a round mosaic of red crystal. Kreia stood on it watching me approach.

“So you come at last.” She smiled gently. “To kill or redeem?”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why have you destroyed so many lives, Arren Kae?”

She started. “How-”

“You forget that Mira and I love history. She found your image in the faculty list.”

She chuckled. “I didn‘t set out to ruin anyone’s life, my child. I was a historian.” She sighed, and that sigh was bone deep with weariness. “I saw the weaknesses of the order. Weakness that has been there since the beginning. In leaning so far toward what is right and proper, the Order forgot what was necessary and just. I had been cast out because of a simple human failing, and I wanted justice. Not right or wrong as they decided, but justice.

“Oh they had another reason though. As a historian I spent a lot of time with the apprentices. I taught them what had been done, but more important, i taught them why it had been done.

“Remember I told you of the types of historians? Have you ever studied the condemnation of Breia Solo and Sienna Dodonna?”

“On the trip here.” I admitted. “They were Padawan in the time right before the Republic was formed.”

“Yes. Good. But do you know why I used them?”

“Because they were separately condemned using false testimony and exiled.”

“Exactly! As I was condemned because I taught history and not rote, you were condemned because they looked at what happened and instead of trying to understand, they cast you aside in their fear.

“The Shadow Mass Generator and this facility reacted to each other. If one had not been here, nothing would have occurred. But in that second of activation this Academy and the Generator fed each other. For thirty thousand years it had been untouched, and it was dying. Like the Star Forge, it was alive after a fashion, and the deaths of three million people and almost 400 Jedi fed it to overflowing in an instant. It literally vomited all that energy back into the void.

“The shockwave struck every Jedi in the system, but only five of us were close enough to be directly affected. There was Kielan and Quintain. Wahansi and myself.

“And you.” She looked at me.

“The device wanted to survive, wanted to return to it’s purpose. It controlled the entire religious life of the Rakata, and with the merest thought it could do that again. It reached out, it called to me, and I came. I accepted the gift of seer. I could know and see all within the very galaxy. Along with that I could also bring memories to the fore. Think of the wonder that could have been in other hands!

“But I was angry still from my exile. I sought not the memories that can guide and heal, but the ones that harm. When I returned to the others, Wahansi tried to fight me, to convince me to give it up, to return to being the thing I had been. In my fury at the very idea I brought every nightmare from her memory and gave it flesh to deal with her. She could have survived, but she fought me, and died. Quintain was glad to accept his position. To him no one else was ever real, so punishing them came easily to him. Kielan tried to resist, but eventually came around. But we were trapped in the cycle. Without the judge, we were people with power, but not enough power.”

“An engine without an ignition.” I murmured.

“Yes, Kielan was right about that. We needed our judge. But none that were sent could do that for us. There was that initial spark that the system created when the generator went off. Without it no mortal mind could accept it. I found myself a Seer unable to direct, with an executioner too happy to carry out his mission, and a Warrior that never broke free of the pain of his inclusion.

“I heard eventually about your exile, and it struck me that you were the key. That you had been here, that you had been affected by the Core. I was sure of it when I saw the record of your trial for the first time over a year before I found you.

“You might say that your action before the council is what called me to you. When you struck the pintel and converted justice into seek and truth, you showed the judgment a good judge must have. To judge someone on all of the evidence for and against, and mete out punishment as due.

“But events precluded my having you brought here. The Jedi Civil War ended, and the deliveries of fresh Jedi and more importantly the ship necessary to escape ended. For a brief time I had assumed that Revan might be a usable substitute, but she was just as stubborn as she had ever been, and quite frankly when your sleep is full of nightmares of things you might have done and regretted, you can’t very well use them against the person, now can you?

“Then Quintain fomented his little palace revolt. He wanted to be fed, and I would not allow him to do so. His destruction of Katarr had been bad enough. But what was I after all? Merely an ex-Jedi with delusions of grandeur. Kielan went along I think because he was bored. They stripped me of my power, made me... human again.”

“But that freed me to travel, and thanks to Revan, I had a ship. I escaped before they even knew I had found it. I went in search of you. So did they after a time but I had the advantage. You see, they were looking for the glimpse of a Jedi. I was looking for a place where no force existed. I found it.

“I rescued you from Kielan’s attack, and we escaped. But you had no link to the force remaining. I was as astonished as the masters had been but I noticed that you could still direct the force. It was just that after ten years, you were a child. An apprentice if you will. You could not use the force because you believed you no longer could.

“It was like the blind leading the blind, but I found the link. For in my mind, I could still use the force, even though I had been cut off. I used your mind to see what I could still see, feel what I could still feel. Your mind accepted that somehow you had regained your abilities. Once it had, I merely watched. As you returned to your power, I was dragged along with you.”

“So you tried to make me in your image?”

She laughed. “Have you never heard that there are no bad students, only bad teachers? I had tried to teach as an historian and failed. I tried again as the seer, and failed. This time I taught not by example, but at cross purpose.

“On my home world, there is an animal called a quill-pig. It is a huge animal with spines as long as your hand. We raised them, and when you herd a quill-pig you do not get behind and push. You have to lead it. So you take a stick-” She raised her hand, then made a jabbing motion. “-and poke him in the nose. He heads toward you because it irritates him. He follows as long as you give him a prod every now and then, and back away when he has come as far as you wanted.

“Your constant harping on the women who joined me.”

“Yes. Would you have been willing to try with Brianna my daughter if I had not literally ordered you not to try? Visas, who supported you so well against Quintain. Would you have tried to use something else if I had not suggested that killing her was a better option? Would you have worked to bring Atton to your side if I had not constantly painted him as a fool?

“Every time you did something kind or just, I was there telling you how stupid it was. I was the devil’s advocate that pushed you to decide for yourself. The one that made you choose to become who you are.”

She raised her hand, and the blade of a lightsaber shot from it. “So now it comes to this. You must do the last thing. You must kill me here, at the seat of my power. Take from me what is yours by right, and avenge yourself.”

“No.”

“You refuse? Then I should just do this to myself.”

“Go ahead.” I stared at her. I had no anger for her. Not even pity. She had manipulated me from the minute we first spoke, yet I could not kill her.

“Remember the bond-”

“The bond that never existed.” I snapped back.

She stared at me, and began to laugh. Not the simple chuckle of a woman, but the full throated rich laugh of someone who knows you finally see the joke. “Oh so well done! You are greater than any I ever thought to teach.”

“Why did you make me think that?”

“To goad you and protect me. I lied to you only once. That was when I made you think the bond could be lethal. I needed it in case you decided to do without my tutelage. There were so many times I know you wanted to tell me to push off. Or even kill me. But the ‘bond’ would not let you. To protect yourself you needed me near by.” She chuckled again.

“But after the Masters cast you aside again, I knew most of my work was done. You were trained to the best of my abilities. Not even a master of the old order could have done better. But you still needed to come here. To end this, and me.”

“So I am supposed to kill you here? Become you?”

“If you had been at all acquisitive of power, that would have been the option. To become the judge, and others with you would become the other points of the star.”

Visas. I already had my seer. Brianna my warrior. Mira my executioner. But she would never fit in that role, would she? But Atton or Bao-Dur would have. Anyone else would have been unnecessary. In an instant whichever four I had chosen would become the most powerful beings in the galaxy. And thanks to that gift of mine of easily forming bonds, they would do what I wanted. No more fighting between us, no indecision. The galaxy would be what I wanted it to be.

Yet it would have been a hollow victory. I could no more condemn the ones I chose to such a life as I could eliminate the ones who did not fit that pattern. And removing them is exactly what I would have had to do.


I reached out. “Come with me, Arren. Let me save you one last time.”

“Save me?” She shook her head fondly. “You did that when you refused to sink into the darkness I know so well. With every step you have taken toward the light, you have brought me from that abyss. Even now I know what you think, and you are right. Two of those that follow you would have had to die here for the pattern to be formed, and you will give up none of them. Not even me.” She lowered her hood. For the first time I saw her full face, and could see there the strong jaw of Brianna. The same steely gaze. She walked to the edge of the platform, looking down.

“You need not stay any longer. My time is done. But I have a gift for you. A glimpse of the future to come.

“You were asked to seek the Jedi. You have found them. Not those that had once held the title, but the ones that will form the new order. The lost Jedi, because no one ever thought to look for them.”

“The others.”

“Yes. All too old to be taught according to tradition, but when the galaxy needed their strength, they came forward at your call. All they had ever needed was someone like you. A teacher and leader. Someone that would guide them through the first difficult steps, then like a wounded bird, letting them free. The order will be stronger for their existence and their names will shine through the galaxy in the time to come. Their deeds will be remembered long after they are dust.”

“Deeds? You can see what they will do?”

“I see what all of you will do. I see the Republic to it’s fall, I see the death of the galaxy itself.” She smiled again, head cocked. “Would you know that they think of you five millennia from now?”

“My own life, no.” I shook my head. “I would rather take it as it comes. But... The others...”

“Part of your life I must tell to explain the rest. For a brief time you will travel with them, but it will not last. Forces within the galaxy will make you walk away from them. But that is to the good, for children never grow up if the parent does not let them go. Your skill with force bonds would tie them to you forever if you did not leave them to their fates.

“Mira shall hunt for life as she told you. She will seek those that are still lost, for there are so many that can claim the title Jedi if they but know it. She will fight for them, and save them where she can, and weep when she cannot. Many years will pass before she will find herself hunted as you were, by bounty hunters seeking a great prize. They will kill her on Ord Mandell, bringing them great honor, but they will not survive that battle. Her last battle will be the stuff of legend.

“Mandalore will gain his army, and it will be an army of honor and respect. By the time he finally dies the Mandalorian people will be restored to their honor and place within the galaxy. His people will eventually die, but that death will take many millennia, and will be itself worthy of legend. Long after the society is dead, people will remember them and still shiver with fear.

“Atton will keep his rogue’s heart, but he will turn it like a thief given a badge. He will seek out those that feed upon others. Eventually he will become too good at what he does. He will die, but it will be quick and painless. The only thing he will never have is the love of the woman he would have died for.

“Bao-Dur will return to Telos. His work will bring life back to the planets destroyed, and he will die of old age in the fullness of time revered by many. Better loved than all of you combined.

“My daughter will discover her own love of history. where Mira will become the Huntress who seeks the new Jedi, she will become the teacher I wished I had been. Her thought will shape the order for a millennia, and that thought is what you taught her, not I.

“Visas will return to her home world, and see it at last as she has seen you. But what she does from that point on is unclear. It is as if I am not allowed to see it. But what I can tell you is when you leave, she will not go with you. Like Revan, your path is too dangerous to take anyone you care about. She will remember and mourn, and that mourning will make her what she becomes in time.”

“But will there even be a Republic to protect?”

She laughed again. “Goto is right that the Republic is dying, but I could have told him that it has been dying for over fifteen millennia and it‘s fall confidently predicted by doomsayers every year. It has staggered along for all of that time, and will stagger along for another five millennia before it succumbs to the disease which afflicts it. But as a corpse beneath the soil gives forth new life from it’s essence, it will do so. There will be a period of total corruption but after that time, it will arise anew, and in time better and brighter than what has ever been.”

“Arren-”

“Spare me, Marai, my dear child.” She looked at me sadly. I am thin and stretched, and if you had gone to darkness, my entire life would have been a waste. Now I am free, as you will be when this is gone.” She waved toward the structure. “May the Force be with you always.” She gave me a cheery wave with her left arm minus it’s hand, and stepped out into the blackness.

*****

I walked slowly back to the room when Kielan still knelt.

“She is gone.” I told him. “And this will be gone ten minutes after I leave.”

He stood facing me. “Come.” He escorted me from the building. The mass of dark Jedi had grown to almost a hundred. They parted for us, and flowed back together after we passed.

Brianna wanted to leap into my arms, I knew that from her look. But she was watching the mass that faced us grimly. The others except for Atton faced outward as well.

“Mistress?” One of the Dark Jedi called plaintively. “Are you leaving us?”

“They will be upset.” Kielan said. “Run.”

“Kielan-”

“Marai, I died here. I just haven’t laid down yet.” He reached out touching my face. I passed him my lightsaber. “Go.”

I walked up and Mira handed me a lightsaber from her belt. “Figure you might need this. You got a plan?”

“Run like hell.” I said.

Bao Dur threw Atton up on his shoulder. “Lead the way General.”

We started at a slow walk toward the path home. Behind us the plaintive cries had grown alarmed, then as we began to jog, angry. There was a hiss of blades, and a dozen or more charged after us. Kielan met them in a flurry of blows, and screams began to follow us as we began to run.

We came to the first bridge, and perhaps half of that hundred were baying at our heels. We took the span at a run, and almost staggered to a stop at the sight of half a dozen droids at the bottom.

“Amused Rejoinder: We were instructed to keep them at bay.” One said. “Declarative statement: get off the bridge so we can blow it.“

We ran down the span, and had barely reached the end when the 30,000 year old bridge shattered like glass. A few dozen of the dark ones had made it across, and they were taken under fire by the droids as we ran on. We reached with only a few following, and that one was also destroyed. None had made it past there, and we hurried on, passing the humming shadow mass generator.

HK47 stood at the ramp. “Impulsive statement: It is good to see you again not-a-meatbag-Marai. Board quickly.”

Bao Dur dropped Atton in the med bay, running forward, followed by Mira. I saw their fingers dancing over the controls, felt the ship lurch, then spin to leap toward the stars. I went aft, and Brianna had already switched on the aft viewer.

Where are you going? A voice seemed to ask. I suddenly felt the crushing weight of loneliness. I must survive, my mission is to survive. I felt someone catching my arm, then someone else grabbing the other. Brianna was screaming at me, Visas was begging. I had to do this I had to give that lonely voice what it needed! But they held me down, fighting me!

“800 thousand.” someone said. “850, 880,”

I flung Brianna aside, chopping at Visas. She caught my hand, and I flipped over her shoulder. I caught her clothes, and she fell atop me, but I was trying to do something with my other hand.

“One million. One one, one two-”

I flung Visas aside, and even as my hand pulled it free, I recognized the dead man circuit. I closed my eyes, even though I knew we would be dead before I even recognized that I had-

“One five, one six-”

Wait a minute. The system should have cut in. We should be crushed by a million gravities...

“Two million. Ignition.” The ship lurched backwards toward the core, but we were outside the kill zone. I staggered to my feet, staring at the screen. Malachor five had taken on a red tint, light running toward it faster than it had anywhere around us. The star flared, plasma rushing toward the core as it shifted in it‘s orbit, both attracted to each other by the massive gravity well.

Still we ran. No one knew what happened if you accelerated a planetary sized mass to light speed. Would it try to tunnel into hyperspace and go plunging into the swirling lights forever? Or would it stubbornly refuse, striking the star at a large percentage of light speed?

The star bulged, then behind us it went into a nova. It exploded, but it was like a shaped charge, all of the energy vented in a cone with Malachor V in it’s focus. The core disappeared into the plasma and was gone.

I gasped, the voice in my head was gone. I staggered over to Brianna. “Oh, gods, my sister, I am sorry.” I whispered.

“A neat trick.” She coughed, holding her side. “I will have to remember that one.”

Bao-Dur came aft, staring at us in shock. Both Brianna and Visas were battered, and bloody. I looked as if I had stuck my head in a wind tunnel.

“What happened?”

“The damn thing tried to call me back. Make me stay.” I whispered. “But the dead man circuit didn’t work!”

“Oh that?” He asked dead pan. “You could never lie very well, General. So I told you that was a dead man circuit. It was just a heart monitor.” He lifted his own wrist, and removed the one he wore. “If you died, I figured we wouldn’t have a chance, so I rigged the dead man circuit into my cuff instead.”

“You...” I stared at him. Brianna and Visas looked toward me. Mira had come from forward.

“Get him!” We charged tackling him.

End


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-24-2006, 11:29 PM   #183
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I spend all that time sending you pages worth of cut content, and I don't get an ounce of acknowledgement at the end!?

Fantaboulistic job on Return From Exile, mach! This has easily been my favorite fic in all the CEC and KFM.

The end was unexpected. Poor Bao-Dur.

Once again, fantaboulistic job! *claps*


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We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:01 AM   #184
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Of course you get acknowledgement. Especially when my damn system even with the droid factory mods still refused to have HK pop the fat slug!


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:07 AM   #185
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I wasn't being completely serious.

What are you reffering to by 'slug', though?


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We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:07 AM   #186
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Good chapter, I enjoy reading your work mach.

@Devon if it isn't a burden may I ask what KFM stands for?


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Old 09-25-2006, 01:08 AM   #187
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Not at all. It's short for KOTOR Fan Media.


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We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:11 AM   #188
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Okay thank you for the clarification, I felt as if I was missing out on another forum like this one


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Old 09-25-2006, 01:44 AM   #189
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Good job! [Clap] How tragendy, the end is.

However, good job. Well, the librarian should move it into Jedi Archives.




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Old 09-25-2006, 02:01 AM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john_ctg
Well, the librarian should move it into Jedi Archives.
If I may...

Quote:
Originally Posted by How to post your fanfic here?
once your fanfic is finished, just start a new thread and post a clean copy of your fanfic in the general fanfic forum with the expression [FIN] in the title and we'll move it to the Jedi Archives.
The comments in this thread would be needless in the Archives, if you meant that this very thread should be moved.


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Old 09-25-2006, 02:55 AM   #191
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If you want to award Fics around here, post what you think in this Thread. It is hosted by me. Like Emperor D, I won't bite. Also mach, I'll read all your Fic, when I have time, since I've only read the first few Chapters.
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:38 AM   #192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emperor Devon
I spend all that time sending you pages worth of cut content, and I don't get an ounce of acknowledgement at the end!?

Fantaboulistic job on Return From Exile, mach! This has easily been my favorite fic in all the CEC and KFM.

The end was unexpected. Poor Bao-Dur.

Once again, fantaboulistic job! *claps*
I thought they were tackling Bao-Dur in fun myself.

I liked the description of the nova, btw. For some reason it just grabbed me.

I'll catch up on the rest when I'm done with this stupid report I have due in a few days.

Momerator note--I pruned the off-topic posts. Please take off-topic stuff to PMs. Thanks much!


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Old 09-25-2006, 10:32 AM   #193
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Originally Posted by Pottsie
If you want to award Fics around here, post what you think in this Thread. It is hosted by me. Like Emperor D, I won't bite. Also mach, I'll read all your Fic, when I have time, since I've only read the first few Chapters.
As I said last year when they had the awards Pottise, I will not vote. I'm already critiquing them all.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:13 AM   #194
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Can I clarify something? Did they kill Bao-Dur, or was it a playful tackle?

Clearly an 11/10 fanfic.

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Old 09-25-2006, 04:36 PM   #195
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Can I clarify something? Did they kill Bao-Dur, or was it a playful tackle?.
I would have drawn out his death agonies if it had been hostile, Goldie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by goldberry
Clearly an 11/10 fanfic.
All right, I admit I'm an idiot. This means what?


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:07 PM   #196
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Quote:
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Momerator note--I pruned the off-topic posts. Please take off-topic stuff to PMs. Thanks much!
Already did, Jae.

Damn, the fact my nemesis can delete my posts here whenever she wants just scares the **** out of me!
*Jae gives Emperor Devon an evil (and joking) cackle....*

As revenge for your blatant corruption, Jae, I am going to type this in the most difficult to read color available. Your old eyes will wilt before it! Ha ha!

--Jae

@goldberry and machievelli, I think he means that out of a rating of 10, Return From Exile gets an 11.


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Last edited by Jae Onasi; 10-10-2006 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:28 PM   #197
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Already did, Jae.

Damn, the fact my nemesis can delete my posts here whenever she wants just scares the **** out of me!
*Jae gives Emperor Devon an evil (and joking) cackle....*

@goldberry and machievelli, I think he means that out of a rating of 10, Return From Exile gets an 11.
I am not sure if I should be apalled that I only got 11 out of ten or ecstatic. (More alcohol. Those of you too young, I feel for you, but after the second 5% brew, I don't really care...


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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Old 09-26-2006, 05:59 PM   #198
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No really, it's a great fanfic. 11/10 wasn't really fair... lets say 13/10 :P

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Old 10-09-2006, 08:38 AM   #199
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I like the originality. Just incase I missed something did Atton and Marai hookup?


"I sense your presence Jaden."- Rosh
"Rosh, what are you doing here?"- Jaden
"The Disiples of Ragnos brought me, at first I thought they would kill me but I was wrong about them. Do you know how much power there is in the darkside. Kyle was holding us back, Jaden. You should feel the power, it's like nothing you have ever felt."-Rosh

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Old 02-05-2007, 05:31 PM   #200
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I like the originality. Just incase I missed something did Atton and Marai hookup?
No, they did not. Sorry.


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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