KOTOR III: TRET'YE SRAZHENIE (THIRD BATTLE)
Chapter III: There Is No Death...
Even though the Jedi were reported to be some of the wisest beings in the galaxy (if not the
wisest), they were not reported to be infallible. Jedi made mistakes, and sometimes they even fell to the Dark Side and became Sith. This is why many on Dantooine and other planets still did not trust them, despite all the good they had done in the past. They had helped quell political unrest that caused entire worlds to teeter on the verge of war; they had eliminated powerful crimelords that held massive metropolises in an iron chokehold. They had even risen to confront the threat of Dark Jedi and their Sith Masters, and still there were those who considered the Jedi to be fools at best and subversives at worst. There was always that risk, which non-Force users were so quick to point out, that any Jedi could fall or perish.
Jedi Master Bao-Dur knew this risk full well, and that is why he was not going to send his own Padawan, Zakal, along with Becca Solis and Galon Klivian on a cryptic mission. Not unless he had proof that it was absolutely necessary to do so--real, tangible proof which he could sense with the Force, if not his own two eyes. Master Visas had visions, certainly, visions which none of the rest of them could even begin to comprehend, but it was this very nature of her revelations which troubled him. How were Padawans Solis and Klivian, along with Zakal, supposed to know what to do and where to go if all they had to go on was some vague notion of a 'disturbance in the Force' or some such phenomenon? Such disturbances were quite real, to be sure, and merited attention, but did this one really warrant the intervention of three vulnerable lower-ranking Jedi? Bao-Dur knew in the core of his very being that he would question Visas as carefully as he had when he'd first met her...
This time, he met Visas in the courtyard of the Jedi Enclave, along with Becca, Galon, and Zakal. The Master, of course, was meditating silently.
Bao-Dur cleared his throat. "Ahem. Padawan Zakal has told me, along with Padawans Solis and Klivian, that you're sending them on a mission." He sunk to the ground and sat cross-legged opposite Visas. "Is this true?" he asked.
"Indeed," said the Miraluka slowly, "and it will be a critical one. There is an unchecked growth, an all-enveloping Force presence, that I sense. It threatens to creep closer to where we are, and if it does, all is lost."
"Wait," said Bao-Dur, holding up a massive hand clad in a black mechanic's glove. "What is this Force presence? Is it Sith? Who or what's causing it?"
"I don't know," replied Visas, "but as I skirt the very edges of it with my consciousness, I sense that it is an ancient power, older than any of us can imagine. It's strange, but I can feel no taint of the Dark Side upon it. That, of course, makes no sense, because if it weren't of the Dark Side or the Sith, why would I feel so threatened by it? The truth stands, however, and the truth is that this presence is growing. Its strength lies in its very subtlety--it is spreading fast, but none of the space it touches seems to be aware of it." She folded her hands in her lap, bracing herself against the unknown.
makes no sense," mumbled Zakal. "How can space--deep, empty space--be aware of anything? As far as I can understand from what you've said, it hasn't spread to any worlds with any people on it, so why is this presence a threat? Why should we go investigate it? I don't understand."
Becca's face grew hot and red at her friend's brash words. She had always known that Zakal didn't like Visas; however, she was completely taken aback by this tactic of almost confronting the Jedi Master to her veiled face. When Becca's own Master, Sentinel Mira, told her to do something, Becca did it--without question or second-guessing. Who did Zakal think she was, almost insulting one of the most venerated Jedi at the Enclave? Before she could open her mouth to blurt out a retort, Padawan Galon Klivian spoke first:
"Master Visas? If this threat, this Force presence, is so serious, then why send us to confront it? We're only Padawans. Why don't you yourselves go, you Masters, and leave us behind to teach the Younglings and run things at the Enclave?" Becca nodded her head at her friend's response: this seemed reasonable enough, and it was a far better question than 'how can deep, empty space be aware of anything?' She waited tensely for Visas' reply.
that's spreading, this satiation--
seems to grow more powerful and more intent on locating other presences who are well-versed in the Force. Not to feed upon them, as the Lord of Hunger did, but to consume them in another way--to make them part of it.
That's why I'm only probing this presence at a distance with the powers of my mind. It's too much of a risk for me to delve deeper, because I've tried, and every time I do the power threatens to engulf my mind. I simply can't, Padawan. That's why I'm sending the three of you. You may know how to use the Force with intensity and skill, but you do not yet know its higher mysteries. It is my hope that you will be able to locate this presence and destroy it without its even knowing you are coming. Will you do this, Padawans?"
Zakal shook her head. "I'm out," she said. "I'm not going on any old mission until you tell me exactly
what this thing is and how it's spreading."
"Zakal!" It was Bao-Dur's turn to be shocked, and he rose to correct her.
"No, wait," cried Becca, surprised at the words that were falling out of her mouth at the very moment where she should have been supporting Bao-Dur. After all, wasn't she the more reasonable one, despite all of her practical jokes? "Can't you go a little
deeper into the presence? I mean, just a slight bit deeper, so that we can at least figure out where it's coming from?"
Visas stiffened. "I will try." She clenched her hands into fists and fought the overstimulation of her senses, shutting her sightless eyes against pain.
"What do you see, Master Visas?" asked Galon. "Through the Force, I mean?"
"It is...centralized," gasped the Miraluka, hissing through clenched teeth. "It emanates from a single...source...though I cannot sense where right now."
Zakal bit her lip, suddenly afraid for the one Master in the Enclave that she did not fully trust. "Can you give us more? That's not nearly quite enough."
"Is it coming from a planet?" asked Becca. "Is the single source a planet?"
"How can we destroy a planet?" fumed Zakal, but she fell silent when she saw that the Miraluka's veil was becoming drenched with sweat and tears.
"It is...as large as that, but somehow...much smaller." Visas held her breath.
"What?! Come on! Visas, stay with me! You can do it!" Bao-Dur rushed over to his colleague's side, trying to steady her trembling and rapidly-weakening body. "What is it? What's it doing? What does it want? We have to know!"
"I--I can't," replied the Miraluka, suddenly gasping for a ragged breath. "It's coming--find it--someone has to find it--"
shouted Bao-Dur. "You have
to go deeper. How can we locate this Force presence if we don't even know what it is?!"
Visas steadied herself against a wave of all-consuming pain, gritting her teeth in the sheer terror of her agony. The presence was so strong that it physically lifted her body up from where it sat on the Enclave courtyard grass, and the three Padawans gaped in astonishment. Bao-Dur shut his eyes and tried to pull her back down with his concentration in the Force, but it was to no avail. The wail from the Miraluka's lips was that of the damned, that of a mother struggling to give birth but knowing that the labor would doom both herself and her child. Becca slapped her hands over her ears, praying that she was not hearing what she heard, but this too was useless.
The Miraluka suddenly plummeted to the ground with a sickening thud,
and the others rushed over to tend to her. Becca was the one first and nearest to Visas, and so she heard the Master's final words, softly rasped:
"Venture to a stainless world...where there is nothing at all, save for light."
Becca became dimly aware of the tears staining her own burning cheeks.
"It was your fault."
"You're the one who pushed her so hard. You're
the one who forced her to go deeper when she told us how dangerous it was. You're to blame, and you won't even admit it! I can't believe I ever followed you as my Master!"
Bao-Dur, in a rare display of the emotion other sentients said he lacked, gathered his Padawan to him in a fatherly embrace. "We Jedi do not cast blame," he said somberly, his voice betraying his deep sorrow when, as a rule, he was supposed to have forsaken all such passions. "Rather, we take responsibility. It is I who pressured Visas, and I will bear this grave mistake. However, it is this presence that caused her heart to fail, and her mind."
"I...I should also take blame," Zakal replied, "for doubting her, and for doubting the seriousness of what we're facing. You wished to correct me, but I did not listen to your correction. Now..." She tried not to dissolve.
"Now," announced Galon Klivian, "we must all
take responsibility for locating this Force presence and destroying it. We're going on this mission whether we want to or not, because we're Jedi, and our duty is quite clear."
Becca nodded, adding, "There is a reason Visas chose me...chose us." It had nothing to do with practical jokes, this reason, and everything to do with the Force. The four of them left the Enclave to prepare the Jedi funeral rites.
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
Four hands clasped together as Visas' burning body vanished into eternity.