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General Chat => Fan Fiction and Art => Topic started by: TheDutchman on February 16, 2018, 02:17:19 PM



Title: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 16, 2018, 02:17:19 PM
I just wanted to give my thanks to all of the friends who helped in making this happen  ;D
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Kazic's lightsaber
(https://thumb.ibb.co/nt1nd7/IMG_20180214_083059.jpg) (https://ibb.co/nt1nd7)
Anson's lightsaber

Prologue

They had gathered around the medcouch, the atmosphere somber.  The body lying upon the bed was a shell of the man that he’d been, but Kazic Ovarug had lived over 1,000 years.  He knew that he’d been dying for almost 10 of those but the swiftness of the debilitating illness that struck had surprised even him.  In the last month alone he’d lost close to 20 kilograms.  Ironic that the same ancestry that was responsible for his long life was also the reason that he was now dying.  But, looking around the room, his gray lips cracked a smile; he was surrounded by his family which, in truth, was more than he deserved.

Slowly he turned his head towards his son.  “Father…I…” Zearic stopped, half-laughing, half-coughing, “…I passed my Test.  I…made maenowan.  Finally.”  He looked into Kazic’s red eyes, his own watery and bloodshot.  He knew that his death would hit his son hardest.  By the Maker he’d gotten big…

His rasping voice a whisper, Kazic wheezed,  “…Proud of you…son…proud…”  And for a moment, the Anzat’s red eyes cleared, penetrating and full of wit, “…About time…” Kazic quietly laughed, his entire body convulsing as he began to cough uncontrollably.

“Here Grandfather!  Drink…” Jorya gently held the cup of water to his lips, the water running from his mouth.  Seeing this, her large blue eyes began to cry anew.  Racking sobs shook her body as she tried to suppress her tears in vain.  Kazic laid a withered hand upon hers.

“…’S OK, Dear One.  Don’t cry…for this old…man.  He’s…proud to have…seen you grow…into a beautiful young woman.”  Kazic smiled again.  “…Just glad that I…could witness…your sixteenth…Life Day…”  He coughed, worse this time.  When he was finally able to see again, he saw that both his son and granddaughter were crying openly.  …No, Dear Ones, no… His sorrow was for their suffering but his lamentation was for himself …Not…yet...needs must…tell…

Kazic’s eyes fixed upon the shortest person in the room.  Weakly, he gestured to D’Aylanna bidding her to sit by him.  Quietly, he whispered to his Nur’us, his daughter-in-law.  “Nur’us…please send…Zearic and Jorya away…I needs…must…” His voice quieted as he attempted to reinforce himself with the Force.  Instead, he felt it flow from D’Aylanna strengthening him.  Simultaneously, she turned her head speaking softly to her husband and daughter.

Shakal, Dear One, Master Kazic has asked that you both retire; neither of you have eaten and he would not have you starve on his behalf.”  Kazic smiled.  …Bless you, Nur’us he thought.  Sensing his wife’s motives his son nodded and, approaching Kazic he leaned over to kiss the Anzat on his forehead, careless of the matted thinning white hair upon Kazic’s brow.

“I love you, Father.”  Zearic's usually deep voice cracked.  Jorya gently but passionately threw her arms around her grandfather, kissing his face while tears flowed freely down her face.  Echoing her own father, she told Kazic how much she loved him and that she would bring him a hot chocolate when she returned.  Gently stroking her lekku, Kazic smiled up at Jorya’s tear-streaked face and nodded.  Then, with one final look, Zearic and Jorya left the room leaving D’Aylanna and Kazic alone.

Feeling stronger thanks to D’Aylanna’s Force ministrations, Kazic’s voice was clearer and more forceful that it had been for awhile.  “Nur’us you will one day be Arbiter, if not Kage…” Kazic stared at the Hapan woman, and unspoken understanding between them.  “It is important that you know the truth…”  Kazic took a deep breath, expecting the question that D’Aylanna would ask.

“And what truth would that be, Father?” Her regal bearing was not marred by the tear falling down her dark cheek, her head cocking slightly while the light played off of her midnight blue hair.

Smiling knowingly, Kazic intoned, “The Vhal’Dan Civil War.  Everything surrounding it.  Especially the records.  The Archives are wrong…” Kazic winced in pain, his emaciated face twisting his pure white moustaches and beard as he coughed again.

Patiently with her hand on the Anzat’s, D’Aylanna spoke when his coughing quieted.  “…In what way, Father?”  Her clear dark eyes stared into Kazic’s red.

“…I…you see, I altered them, changed them.  Even…erased some of the records.”  Kazic’s face suddenly looked angry, the emotion giving more life to his visage since he’d fallen ill.  “…At first, I told myself that I was protecting the Vhal’Dan…or that I was ensuring success for the Order and posterity...but now…” He closed his eyes, his face falling.  “…Now I know it was because I wished to hide my shame…”  Tears began to form in Kazic’s red eyes.  “…and my failures.”  But once he’d spoken the last, he inhaled deeply, looking into D’Aylanna’s eyes with the strength of conviction and forcefulness.

“…Speak Father.  I will hear all you have to say.  And remember.” D’Aylanna said gently, her small delicate hands firmly holding Kazic’s as she continued to strengthen him with the Force.

At first Kazic said nothing.  But as he began, his voice deep and strong, his words flowed unhindered and clear as the Anzat related tales of the past that no one living but him would know, events that told of the truth of the matter concerning the Civil War.  And D’Aylanna listened.

And Kazic remembered…

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The small retinue of Singers that followed the Kage had been surprisingly silent while Arbiter Anson D’Aklon and Master Gray Kazic Ovarug told of the organization and agency of the Gray Jedi of the Vhal’Dan Order.  And while Kage Li’I’Mack asked the occasional question, she was for the most part introspective.

“Intriguing gentlemen.  And you say that the Vhal’Dan have followed this format unadulterated since before the Ruusan Reformation?”  The tall lithe Kage halted her deliberate pace, causing both men to stop short, Anson’s light gray robes gusting outward.  Beside him, Kazic made no pretense of hiding his grin as the shorter man looked caught unawares.  But Anson’s face broke out in a wide grin, his handsome clean-shaven face bowing in deference before Kage Li’I’Mack.

“That’s correct Kage.”  Anson’s tenor-like voice was strong and assured as he sincerely described the differing ranking system between the Jedi Order and the Vhal’Dan.  “We Gray have determined that each level should be broken down into two ranks apiece.  For instance, an initiate is still referred to as ‘padawan.’  But once assigned a custodian, they become a Teidowan.  But then the next rank is that of Gray Knight.  However, even though they are referred to as ‘knights’ Gray Knights are still considered in need of further training and supervision before the conferral of full Knighthood.  This rank is known as ‘Koawan.’”  Anson’s rich brown eyes included all of the Singers around the Kage before he locked his again on her lavender eyes.  “Once a Koawan has reached the next level of training, they may either attempt the first Test for Maenowan if they do not wish to take any apprentices.  However, should they wish to teach, then the Koawan will take the test for Silver Knight.”

At this time Kazic spoke up.  “You see Kage that those Gray Jedi who wish to participate in the upper ranks of the Order must have experience at teaching.  All Silver Knights can become Maenowans but not all Maenowans were Silver Knights; only those that took apprenticeships can do so.”  The Kage’s beautiful face looked insightful as she absorbed the details.  For a split second she gave Anson an appreciative look before locking her eyes onto his.

“Pray, Arbiter, do continue.”  And while it could have been Kazic’s imagination, he thought that the Kage’s full purple lips almost smiled while she looked at Anson.  Regardless, the Kage was not some “frivolous waif” batting her eyelashes.  No, this was an incredibly powerful, intelligent, and determined woman who had more than earned her position.  Still...she and Anson were also human… Kazic smiled inwardly, thinking of Saani and the first time he’d seen her.  …Ah Saani… he mused.  As he remembered their first time meeting, he also recalled that she’d slapped him.  …Now why had she done that again…?  But Anson’s voice shattered his reflections bringing him swiftly back to the present.

“Thank you Kage.  As my esteemed colleague Master Kazic reminded me, the first master rank is that of ‘Maenowan.’  Should a Knight wish to confine their studies of the Force to themselves personally, they take the Test for maenowan absent any apprenticeships.”  Anson smiled again, his handsome angular face seeming to mirror the beauty of M’Tzigon’s M’Skigon Mountains.  “However, if one has taken on the role of teacher then a Maenowan can submit their intentions to the Council of Balance to become a Gray Jedi Master.  It is only these masters—“

“And not maenowans…” Kazic provided, slipping his comment in between Anson’s breaths, the Anzat’s dark gray robes gently waving against his dark boots in the comfortable breeze.

“—and not maenowans—that are allowed to apply for election of Kage.”  Anson cast his eyes to Kazic in mock-seriousness before returning his gaze to Kage Li’I’Mack, an easy smile still upon his face.

“Or Arbiter I take it?”  The Kage’s shrewd lavender eyes held Anson’s, a slight turning of her lips played upon her mouth.  Taking the joke for what it was, Anson laughed, the valley echoing as he did so.

Once again bowing his head in deference, he said easily, “Yes Kage, you are correct.  As Arbiter the office requires that a Gray Jedi have attained the rank of ‘Jedi Master.’  After all, it is the purview of the Arbiter to judge any Jedi regardless if they be petitioner or defendant.”

“Ah” Kage Li’I’Mack said lightly.  “And here I thought that such responsibility was under the domain of the Maker alone.”  Her soft beautiful face remained impassive, the silence around the group conspicuous.  And then suddenly, laughter.

Anson’s full bellied laugh was infectious and soon everyone within the group was all following likewise.  Before he’d even stopped, Anson spoke around his own chuckles.  “Touche Kage.  I bow to your wisdom.” He said sincerely.  Graciously taking the win, Kage Li’I’Mack smiled broadly, her eyes softening.

“I can see why Kage Arkady supported your candidacy for Arbiter.  If all your Gray Jedi are as astute and sagacious as you Master Anson then I can see a long and advantageous alliance between the Mak’Tor and the Vhal’Dan.”  With this pronouncement, the Singers surrounding the Kage moved to congratulate the two Gray Jedi.  But even as he smiled and shook the hand of every Singer, Anson had only eyes for Li’I’Mack.

            <<<<< >>>>>

As the hyperspace tunnel cast a blue illumination through the canopy, both men considered their time on M’Tzigon an unmitigated success.  Once locking in the coordinates to the navi-computer, Kazic withdrew to the ship’s lounge to join his friend.

Already sitting on the comfortable couch, Anson pointed to a steaming cup by Kazic’s seat.  “Well brother I can honestly say that that planet could qualify as Paradise.”  Cradled in his muscular arms, Anson had a book open.  For Kazic, to see something as archaic as a book only served to deepen his curiosity.  As he cocked his head to the side to get a better look, Kazic’s hair fell out of the topknot on his head.  Sighing, he retied his hair and—after a seconds worth of consideration—smoothed his close cut moustache and beard that surrounded his mouth.

Kazic was darkly handsome, his deep gray skin and jet-black hair indicative of his race.  As was his large, flared-nostril nose but it suited his broad face.  And while Anson was slightly wider, Kazic still had about ten centimeters on him.  Still, he had to admit that Anson was better looking; in fact, it was a running joke between the two old friends.

Which was why when Kazic saw the title of the book Anson was reading, he laughed.  “’How To Learn To Sing: 4 Easy Steps?!’  Anson, I don’t think that you need to impress the Kage if her looks were any indication to go by, brother.”  The Anzat sat, drinking the cup that Anson had filled for him while kicking his leg up on the armrest.  He closed his red eyes, enjoying the rich almost cloying sweetness of the hot chocolate as he slowly drank it.

“Ah but a gentlemen never kisses and tells.” Anson smiled mysteriously.  “But I will tell you one thing: those Mak’Tor sure have good genes.”  When he looked at Kazic, Anson’s face had adopted an innocent set upon it.  “You know, for their skill as Singers.”

“Of course.” Kazic intoned flatly, winking at Anson.

“See that’s the problem with you Anzati: always have your minds in the gutter.”  Anson’s smile merely widened causing Kazic to laugh.  But after he fell silent, the human Arbiter continued.  “On a serious note, I have to talk to you concerning two items of note.  First, I received a holovid from Arkady.”

That was unusual; during this mission both men had been corresponding exclusively with the Council itself, never once the Kage.  Kazic sat up, his red eyes concerned.  “Trouble?”

Anson inhaled slowly.  “…Not exactly.  Apparently, upon our arrival on Galtea you’re to ready yourself for departure, Arkady has chosen you to lead an expedition team to Yavin 4.  According to rumor, there is a sizeable cache of Force artifacts there.”  Anson closed his book and ran his hands through his wavy brown hair.

Kazic stared, expressionless.  “Me?”  He flatly intoned.  “Why?”

Anson didn’t so much as hesitate.  “Because Arkady knows that he can trust you completely.  Kaz…it’s possible that the Force artifacts are…Massassi.”  The human Arbiter’s face looked carved in stone.

Kazic sat back.  “Ah, wonderful.”  He shook his head.  “Damned Sith…”  Then he paused.  “You said ‘two.’  What’s the second thing you need to tell me?”  Kazic absentmindedly stroked his short beard and moustache, a habit that Saani had called him on whenever he was expecting bad news.

“Yeah, it’s bad.”  Anson said also recognizing his Anzat friend’s idiosyncrasy, his own hands flexing as if holding his lightsaber.  “One of the things that Li’I’Mack and I talked about was concerning the Mak’Tor settlement on Vyth.”

Kazic shook his head.  “Never heard of it.”

“I’m not surprised; I hadn’t either.  Anyway, the Kage told me that the Mak’Tor on M’Tzigon had lost all contact with the Vyth colony.  No holofeeds, squeaks, not even a warning fire.  Nothing, Kaz.  Nothing at all…”  Anson leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees.  “But that’s not the worst of it: a single ship with a lone child landed at the M’Skigon Spaceport a week ago.  The astromech kept repeating some warning so some such.  And the girl is…well, she’s kriffing frightened.  And the only thing that the search teams found—besides the girl—was a lightsaber that she wouldn’t let go of and blood from multiple sources…”

Kazic looked introspective.  “Blood…and a lightsaber.”  He leaned forward, his topknot falling again causing him to curse.  Deliberately tying his statim—one of the few Anzati accessories he wore—tight around his hair, he continued.  “Anything else?”

Anson looked up.  “Just one.  The Mak’Tor have quarantined Vyth; they aren’t even confirming coordinates, much less offering to take us…”  He sat back on the couch, a poleaxed expression upon his face.  “I don’t know Kaz…something like that gets me thinking…”  The Arbiter’s voice trailed off as he became introspective.

“…And you happen to know all of this because…?”  Kazic left the question in the air.

Anson adopted one of his best innocent faces.  “I told you Kaz: I’m a gentleman.  You need to stop thinking such thoughts.”  But even as he joked, Anson’s face soon fell, again lost in thought.

Himself reflective, Kazic also wondered what could cause such a calamity.  The Singers of the Mak’Tor produced some incredibly powerful Force-users but they were small, only about a hundred or so...

The Vhal’Dan were over 5,000 strong and everyone a warrior, almost to a being.  Still, Kazic hadn’t lived almost 400 years by embracing apathy or becoming blasé simply because he himself didn’t understand something.  He desperately wanted to get to the showdown of this proverbial sabacc hand…

But he had a job to do; his Kage had assigned him a task which he would complete.  He just hoped that whatever he found on Yavin 4 wouldn’t be anything like whatever had been at Vyth…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on February 16, 2018, 02:44:45 PM
Hey Dutchman!  Amazing beginning!  I come away thinking that Li'I'Mack might be related to a certain Vice Admiral who had an association with Leia Organa some centuries later... :)

Great beginning my friend.  Compelling characters and as always a mystery to solve, and one that is compelling enough to the modern day that the dying Master feels the need to pass it on to the woman he feels will become Kage one day.  But what could be so compelling?

time will tell.  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on February 16, 2018, 04:25:12 PM
Good start...ties back to your 'regular guys' so its not completely out there and makes one wonder what he could be so ashamed of.  Sets up Kazic and Anson well and how they relate to each other...still much to learn but then this is just the prologue!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 16, 2018, 05:26:21 PM
The tugging strings of mysteries, and yet it feels almost as though jealousy is too easy a call, distraction to something developing deeper.  A civil war, the title portends, perhaps literal brother against brother, a sect humbling itself with blood spent in folly...  I look forward to seeing where this will take us, as it reflects from one time, to another, and throws light to the shadow of times sometimes seemingly blurred.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 16, 2018, 06:26:27 PM
The tugging strings of mysteries, and yet it feels almost as though jealousy is too easy a call, distraction to something developing deeper.  A civil war, the title portends, perhaps literal brother against brother, a sect humbling itself with blood spent in folly...  I look forward to seeing where this will take us, as it reflects from one time, to another, and throws light to the shadow of times sometimes seemingly blurred.
That's it, LSG is right: we've GOT to have Illyiss do ALL of our chapter synopses!

This is better than "SW:Shakespeare!"

Wonderful Illyiss, superlative even!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 16, 2018, 06:41:54 PM
That's it, LSG is right: we've GOT to have Illyiss do ALL of our chapter synopses!

This is better than "SW:Shakespeare!"

Wonderful Illyiss, superlative even!

*bows* Thank you.  I just calls it as I sees it.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 21, 2018, 07:34:41 PM
Special thanks to LSG for the dialogue assist  ;)

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(https://thumb.ibb.co/dZv06S/Temple_of_Exar_Kun.jpg) (https://ibb.co/dZv06S)

Chapter 1: Chance Encounters

“…Do you think she’s indigenous, Master?” The teidowan human asked anxiously, her cheeks still round with youth.

Kazic didn’t speak for a moment, distracted by the presence of the daen nosi.  He wondered what it could mean but he at least knew that it was centered around…her.  Crossing his arms, the dark gray sleeves of his robes rustled slightly in the breeze, the surrounding jungle’s heat momentarily relaxing its grip.  Kazic began to stroke his black mustache and beard, completely ignoring the sun beating down upon him.

“…No, Teidowan Fayar.  Not unless she’s a resurrected Massassi Sith slave.”  The tall Anzati turned to his apprentice, a grin playing upon his gray lips.  “…Unless, Kasah, you’re telling me she went into the Temple and walked through the wall, disappearing.”  Hearing the levity in her Master’s voice, Kasah relaxed as she smiled.  Winking at the short, blonde teenage human, he turned his attention back to the girl in the distance, her red hair distinctive against the jungle’s backdrop of moist greenery.

The girl.

Kazic and his small team of Gray Jedi had arrived a little more than a week ago, focusing their search on the Temple of Exar Kun.  Mistakenly assuming that the disturbance that he’d felt in the Force had originated from the Temple, Kazic was adamant that the team remain in contact at all times.  They searched the enormous Temple grounds, the rich, blue water causeways in stark contrast to the black obsidian megalithic constructs, often times obfuscating now submerged entrances.  Nevertheless, soon their exploring and patience yielded some surprising results: a primordial Massassi artifact and, amazingly, two ancient Jedi relics.  Still, Kazic wondered just where were all of the Force-related objects that the Kage had intimated about?  But even as they continued to search for the small cache, the disturbance in the Force remained…elusive.

And then the daen nosi had appeared.  At first Kazic had assumed it was the proximity of the ancient Sith Lord’s Temple but he was soon disabused of that.  During the third night of the expedition, one of the koawans had noticed that his food locker had been ransacked, the day’s rations gone.  The next night, some of the robes that Kasah had hung to dry as a result of a plunge into one of the causeways had been absconded with.  Even as these unsettling events continued, each time one of the younger Gray Jedi would whisper about “Exar Kun’s shade,” Kazic would flatly remind them that a dead person—Sith or not—would have no need for food and clothing.

But it was when Maenowan Jorol Qui-Xot noticed that his vibroblade was missing that Kazic finally put forth the personal effort to get to the bottom of the “Temple ghost” as the younger Jedi called it.  Besides: as Kazic concentrated on the disturbance that he’d felt and the daen nosi, he noticed that in fact, the foci converged into a single point.  Kazic knew that virtually no one alive could equal his mental ability, much less surpass it.  And the daen nosi were never wrong.  Ever.

And with that in mind, he decided that he would spend the 6th night on Yavin 4 on watch, his potent Force Detection flowing outward as it blanketed the entire area.  As bait, Kazic had left a large package of foodstuffs along the camp perimeter.  Using but a fraction of his attention, he was able to discern every disparate life-sign, along with its location and range.  Sitting comfortably surrounded by his dark robes in complete darkness, his multiple senses were completely alert, his awareness operating on a metaphysical level as well as physical.  Even as his senses collected the overabundance of information from his surroundings, Kazic was able to appreciate the purity of the jungle ecosphere, the myriad night-sounds intermingling with the almost absolute darkness of the night.  …Beautiful…

Soon, he was rewarded by his persistence.  Sensing a being far different than any of the local beasts, he opened his red eyes that were now adjusted to the darkness, his ability to see in the infrared active.  Careful to shield his eyes from the ambient light of the camp, Kazic remained motionless, his vantage perfect to witness just who—or what—the culprit could be.

Against the jungle canopy, the being’s heat signature was immediately distinguishable.  …Small…Bipedal, bisymmetrical…but not human… Kazic thought.  …The circulatory system is far too effective… The being crept into the perimeter of the camp, careful not to touch any constructed material almost as if…afraid to do so.  Making virtually no sound at all, the being suddenly stopped, head up and alert, cocked to side as if listening for something.

Kazic knew that he hadn’t made a sound nor had he moved, yet the being looked directly at him.  Quickly making a decision, he slowly rose from his crouched position, palms outward, as he adopted a non-threatening posture.  Part of him wanted to laugh: how “non-threatening” could a 191 centimeter, 99 kilogram shadow be?  Expectantly, the being stepped back on the verge of fleeing, their wiry frame tight like a coiled spring.  Grimacing, the Anzat stopped, careful not to startle the being.  This close, Kazic could see that the being was short and thin.  …A…girl…? Unhurriedly, he removed his hooded robe, folding it carefully before slowly placing it at his feet.  Then he withdrew, backing away from the girl.  Finally, with deliberate, careful movement, Kazic sat upon the ground and crossed his legs, folding his arms atop his knees.

For a long time, the girl did not move.  As Kazic waited, he could hear her soft breathing almost as slow as his own.  In the dark, the Anzat arched his eyebrow in interest. …Fascinating…  He wondered what kind of creature would have such a respiratory biology so similar to his own.

And just as he thought the girl would bolt, fleeing deep into the tropical underbrush, she instead advanced, one tentative foot in front of the other.  Making no movement whatsoever, Kazic just stared, his gaze never wavering.  As the girl finally came upon his discarded robes, she finally stopped.  A minute passed and she slowly sank to her knees, reaching out with her left hand to clutch at the robes, standing as soon as she had them in hand.  But instead of immediately running, she again stared straight at Kazic.  And just as silently as she came, she retreated back into the jungle.

Left to his own thoughts, Kazic’s introspection was all-consuming, so much so that he neglected to notice when the reflected light of the Yavin gas-giant shone upon him.  Even more amazing, he could see as the daen nosi collected around the area that the girl had been, churning around the ground creating eddies that only he could see.

Slowly, Kazic rose to his feet wondering just what this portended.

            <<<<< >>>>>

The next night, Kazic sat just past the perimeter, the light of camp casting its illumination upon him.  Even so, the Gray Master calmly meditated, his lidded eyes still seeing clearly into the dark surrounding environment.  As with the previous evening, the girl silently approached, careful of where she stepped.

But unlike the previous night, she responded to Kazic immediately.  Heading straight for him, she stopped several meters away from where the Anzat was seated.  And again, she slowly crouched, resting upon her heels.  Instead of a robe, this time she grabbed a package of foodstuffs with a water filter.  As she looked at him, Kazic gave a disarming smile.  Gesturing to the food, the Anzat then made offering motions to the girl.  And finally Kazic saw her face clearly in the light from the camp.  Youthful, she must have been five or so years younger than Kasah.  …So, a human preteen… he deduced.  She had shrewd light eyes and vivid red hair, her skin tanned on her face and arms but Kazic could see from her neck that she had alabaster skin.

And she did likewise to Kazic, her eyes perceptive but still full of controlled fear.  Silently she looked him up and down before snatching the food package.  Even as she did so, her eyes never left his, and a…an itch began to form on his nose.  Controlling his hands, he remained motionless, his face impassive save for the small smile that was reflected within his eyes.  And a moment later she left, swallowed by the jungle, the night-sounds uninterrupted from her passing.

But it was the next morning that Kazic got another surprise: waiting outside the constructed tent that he slept in, a collection of delicious berries had been artfully arranged on a bark bowl.  As Kazic ate the fruit, he casually felt around with the Force, scanning the jungle with his eyes.  Sure enough, he found her just beyond the jungle’s edge.  Smiling knowingly, he made plans for tonight’s “exchange…”

            <<<<< >>>>>

For the next three nights, Kazic and the girl conducted their ritual trades: foodstuffs for local exotic fruit, clothes for cleverly crafted utensils, and—on the last night—a leather belt for a finely crafted wood totem, one that had three women carved in low relief.  Its craftsmanship was exquisite, Kazic noticed, each woman signifying a different aspect.  One had a bow and arrow in her hands, the woman standing in front of a crescent moon.  Another woman held a mirror in one hand and a flower in another, her bare breasts exposed.  The third stood in front of an olive tree, a snake hanging from one of the branches while she held what looked like an…owl?  Kazic was amazed; he’d heard of such creatures having lived in days passed but, aside from holovids, he’d never seen one.  The Anzat shook his head; the totem was clearly indicative of an ancient pantheon.  The fact that the girl had such knowledge… Kazic wondered just where she’d gained such; he’d been alive over 400 years but he had never come across a system—much less a planet—that had such a theology as the one represented on the carved iconography of the wooden talisman.

Truly, it was a mystery that perplexed Kazic.  But he knew what he could do to help assuage his curiosity.

On the fourth night, he prepared a meal in front of a comfortable fire, two place settings evident so as to make his intentions plain.  He was not disappointed; the girl soon appeared for their nightly ritual, her intelligent eyes inquisitive and clearly pleased at the sight.  Sitting on the opposite side of the fire, Kazic smiled and offered for her to sit.  Hesitating only briefly, she slowly sat on her heels, tentatively picking at the assorted food that was laid out before her.  Soon, she was contently eating and drinking, her demeanor more relaxed compared to what the Anzat had previously witnessed. …Now… Kazic thought.

“Thank you for your gifts.”  He spoke softly, sincerely.  The sound of his deep voice startled her, her chewing halting.  But only for a moment; it was as if she was unused to hearing speech but she evidently knew what it was.  And, more importantly, she understood.  A small smile appeared upon her lips, her aqua-colored eyes reflecting her good mood.

Emboldened, Kazic continued, venturing a guess.  “You are not from…around here?”  His red eyes were soft, kind, his tone was gentle and compassionate.  Kazic reclined on his elbow, crossing his black boots while he stretched out his long legs.

The girl’s smile disappeared, her eyes lowering as sadness began to radiate from her.  “…no.”  Her voice was just above a whisper, soft and timid.  She was silent for so long, Kazic was about to ask another question when she suddenly spoke.  “…the night here is odd…that big, red moon… home doesn’t look that way…darker here…”  Her voice trailed off as her red hair obscured her face.

Kazic felt her fear but writhing below that, a sense of loss beyond expression.  “…Darker?  You mean…the stars…by your home…they were…brighter than here?”  He sat up, intently looking at the girl.

She gave a slight nod, her head still bowed.  “Brighter…much brighter…”

…So…closer to the Core…  “How did you get here?” Kazic’s gentle voice softly hung in the air, the girl finally looking at him as tears began to fall down her cheeks.  Her lips trembling, she again whispered.

“…The…evil things came…in carts of metal…that could fly.  They…took my entire village…”  Even as horrified as she was, the wonder in her voice was evident as she spoke in hushed tones concerning the prospect of flight.  Almost immediately, Kazic knew what that signified.  …Her family enslaved…poor girl… he thought as he ran his big hands through his black hair, the leather ends of his statim coarse against his palm.  Mistaking his gesture, the girl’s voice became shrill.  “I…I’m not lying!  They could fly!  And they had sticks that could spit lightning!”  She was getting upset, her fists balled as if she expected an altercation.

Holding his hands up in what he hoped was a calming gesture, Kazic quickly spoke.  “I believe you, Little One.  Please, worry not…” Again he spoke very gently as he attempted to placate her.  Sitting back down, her breathing somewhat ragged, the girl seemed to accept Kazic at his word.  When he was sure that she had calmed down, Kazic continued, “Your people have no ships, no machines…no ‘metal carts,’ of your own?”

She thought for a moment, her face scowling as she tried to best interpret Kazic’s question.  "We had forty blacksmiths…and I helped make the scaffolds and pump for a mine one summer!"  She smiled triumphantly, pride radiating from her, her posture straightening.

“I see…” Kazic said as gently as possible, the girl was obviously clever…but through no fault of her own completely ignorant of the nature of the galaxy in which she found herself.

He sighed inwardly…saddened to imagine what they must’ve suffered…a pre-spaceflight species set upon by these so called "evil things," most likely slavers or pirates…they would’ve had no way of fighting back and no understanding of what was happening to them…he closed his red eyes, ashamed that these things still occurred.  He balled his fists, his anger rising.  …Damned slavers… Even after 400 years, Kazic could not countenance any society that dealt in that retched institution.

It was both ironic and tragic: being stranded on this moon was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to this girl…as hard as life here must be…had she remained in slavery….his heart broke for those of her kind that had not been so fortunate.  

Before he knew that he’d made up his mind, Kazic spoke, his voice full of conviction and empathy.   “Little One…we’re staying here for another month…then we’ll be returning home…our home.  Until then, please feel free to visit us any time you wish, use it as an opportunity to learn from us…” Kazic paused, again surprised at the realization that he’d already knew what he intended to ask before tonight’s trade.  “…And consider whether you would like to come with us when we go.”  He gave a fatherly smile as she continued to stare at him.

 He felt a sudden brush against him in the Force, rapid and probing…strong…unusually strong… Shocked, Kazic kept his face impassive while deciding what to do: block the Force Probe or…lower his defenses… Unmoving, he chose the latter, siting patiently as the girl Delved into the depths of his mind, seeing his thoughts, reading his intentions…

All the while, as Kazic patiently endured, a thought percolated from the depths of his mind.  …Perhaps it was not simply luck that brought us together… The girl smiled, her eyes alight with newfound hope.  Kazic felt her presence within his mind withdraw, a not altogether uncomfortable feeling considering.

Red eyes met aqua as they both looked at one another, a bond having formed of trust.

“Thank you, Kazic.”  Her voice shook with gratitude and relief.  She was no longer alone.

And Kazic realized that—somehow—she’d…left a part of that yearning, that worry of being lonely within his mind, indelibly now a part of himself.  …Incredible… He thought, again marveling at how strong she was in the Force.

“And what is your name, Little One?”  Kazic wondered again just what agency had brought them together.

“Aresaea.” The girl replied, her face full of wonder.  Kazic could empathize.  He could feel it as well: the daen nosi rested upon them both, converging as they did so.  He knew that they belonged together, like family.

And the daen nosi were never wrong.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 21, 2018, 10:41:13 PM
When you go seeking, you must also be open to being found, or miss what is waiting, alone.  When being found, there are many languages, some common to all beings, in all places.  Will you answer with fear, will greed be your message?  Patience and compassion will take you farther, and fill more than coffers, though with things less tangible, and in so doing multiple stories may converge, and become something new, an epic in the making, long before time fades it to just tales of old...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on February 21, 2018, 11:10:36 PM
Absolutely Awesome, very well done slow tentative introduction, and amazing treatment of his new character Aresaea and her….unique…qualities.  I think this really also brings out just what kind of a man Kazic is, patient, curious and compassionate -  a better Jedi than some of other Jedi who lived in this era....for now at least when you contrast that to how he appears in the Prologue or even the Zearic interlude...a lot changes in 400 years.

Some of the cooler little takeaways….
“Kazic knew that virtually no one alive could equal his mental ability”
Needs to get out more?

“And the daen nosi were never wrong.  Ever.”
This may be true…but his interpretation of what it means and the direction it is heading is a whole other thing…very nice subtle bit of foreshadowing…

“how “non-threatening” could a 191 centimeter, 99 kilogram shadow be”
Pretty good question!!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 22, 2018, 12:22:08 AM
“how “non-threatening” could a 191 centimeter, 99 kilogram shadow be”
Pretty good question!!!

6'3", 218.  Not too threatening.  Then again, I'm 6'4", and even if I got down below 10% body fat, I'd still be in at 250 ish... (I am no where near that light, but working on it LOL)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 22, 2018, 05:10:55 AM
6'3", 218.  Not too threatening.  Then again, I'm 6'4", and even if I got down below 10% body fat, I'd still be in at 250 ish... (I am no where near that light, but working on it LOL)
Allow me to quote the eponymous Captain in the otherwise forgettable movie "Hook:"

"To a ten year old, I'm huge."  ;D


But I hear you Illyiss: I'm 6' and 298lbs.  :P  ;)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on February 22, 2018, 08:30:52 AM
6'3", 218.  Not too threatening.  Then again, I'm 6'4", and even if I got down below 10% body fat, I'd still be in at 250 ish... (I am no where near that light, but working on it LOL)

LOL  I'm 6'4" and at last weigh-in (Sunday morning) I was at 370.  And I am a black belt and instructor at my dojo.  So I teach, and I have learned to move.  But when we spar...  I see the fear.  It takes some time for the little ones to learn that they can trust me, that I won't hurt them and only want them to learn.

And to me, they're almost all "little ones".  :-)

So I can really relate to this approach.  His patience was rewarded...

And we find another Aethan.  I loved the totem.  This one has learned the lore of her people well, and replicated it for her own comfort and to prevent the memory's decay.  This has the beginnings of a truly special story. 
:-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 22, 2018, 04:28:16 PM
LOL  I'm 6'4" and at last weigh-in (Sunday morning) I was at 370.  And I am a black belt and instructor at my dojo.  So I teach, and I have learned to move.  But when we spar...  I see the fear.  It takes some time for the little ones to learn that they can trust me, that I won't hurt them and only want them to learn.

And to me, they're almost all "little ones".  :-)

So I can really relate to this approach.  His patience was rewarded...

And we find another Aethan.  I loved the totem.  This one has learned the lore of her people well, and replicated it for her own comfort and to prevent the memory's decay.  This has the beginnings of a truly special story. 
:-)

Yeah, you and I are of a similar size, and I too am very familiar with even average adults being uncertain, especially if I am going someplace with a serious look on my face.  I was mostly going for tongue-in-cheek, because I KNOW I have a skewed perspective.  Then again, as a kid, size never intimidated me either, but being a headstrong ginger will do that to you...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 23, 2018, 04:28:27 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/cWSci7/Aayla_Kaarko_SWREP34.png) (https://ibb.co/cWSci7)

Chapter 2: Homecoming

Galtea.

Home of the Vhal’Dan Order, the planet was a verdant and pastoral world where agriculture and science combined, producing a veritable cash crop for the Gray Jedi.  Funding the Order in its entirety, Galtea’s exportation of foodstuffs had made the Vhal’Dan incredibly wealthy, to say nothing of the fact that any Jedi of the Order never need worry where their next meal was coming from.  There were reasons that the Vhal’Dan numbered over 5,000 Jedi, although Galtea had many other benefits.

Located on the very limits of Known Space, the planet was virtually left alone.  Aside from Galtea’s galactic position, it had the distinct provenance of being located in a rare triangulation of three massive pulsars, which limited hyperspace travel to one point of egress.  And while each of the pulsars emitted a deadly barrage of radiation across the sector, the Galtea System was unique in that the planet’s primary star had a heliosheath that protected the system from such.

In fact, it was due to these pulsars that the area known as the Marcol Void existed: spanning a distance of almost 30 lightyears, the Void was aptly named in that there was virtually no baryonic matter within that expanse.  Put simply, the combined solar wind of the pulsars pushed everything away.  As such, ships had been known to—successfully—achieve blind hyperspace jumps without fear of collisions.

Of course, there was always a chance of a lightspeed impact occurring but the odds were such that it was considered “safe” to attempt blind jumps within the Void.

Not that Kazic need have worried; with the coordinates fed into the navi-computer of his light expedition freighter, the Sojourner, he easily piloted the ship through the hyperlane, emerging in real space at the system’s boundary.  Consisting of five planets, three of which were habitable, the Galtea System was as secure as could be.  Ensuring that fact, the Vhal’Dan had stationed a Golan II Defense Platform at the hyperlane terminus, its powerful gravity-well generator casting a planetary shadow across the hyperlane.

In short: no one could get in nor leave that the Vhal’Dan did not want.

As Kazic fed the final orbital insertion data into the navi-comp, he could finally relax and relish the idea of making planetfall, especially this homecoming.  His wife, Saani, was also returning from assignment which—combined with his own success—warranted some much-deserved time alone.  Well…not necessarily alone per se, but definitely some “alone time.”  The Anzat smiled as he stroked his black moustache and beard.  Kazic had of course told Saani about Aresaea…but not exactly at length.  And while he felt confident that he knew his wife as much as any spouse could, he knew that there was always the possibility of hurt feelings.  Especially ever since Saani had lost…

Kazic shook his head, not wanting to dwell upon the past.  Not that he could change it, he remembered some advice that his own master, Maenowan Stryka Annix, had once imparted: “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way.”  Kazic smiled, the memory of the Gray Shifala female Jedi suddenly foremost on his mind.  A wry look upon his gray face, Kazic wondered if he would ever be the Jedi Master—and later Kage—that Stryka had been.  His smile turned into a broad grin: …Well, from one formidable woman to another… Regardless, he was eagerly looking forward to seeing his wife.

As the Sojourner landed at Cibuss Spaceport, Kazic delegated the tedium to the koawans and teidowans.  Collecting Aresaea, he exited the craft and, after a short walk, boarded the hyperloop to Vhal’Uhladv, the Gray Jedi’s capital city.  While in transit, the red haired girl stared wide-eyed at the sights that she beheld: from the large stretches of blue grasslands to the reddish-orange deciduous forests her eyes marveled at the plethora of colors.  Then as she saw the crystal clear waters of Lake Olucem’m to the towering Cthodral Mountains, her mouth hung agape at the spectacle of the  “new.”  But if she was amazed by what natural wonders she’d seen, Aresaea was completely dumbfounded at the sight of the city proper.

Vhal’Uhladv.  A technological utopia, the soaring scintillating spires of the kilometers-tall buildings gleamed silver in the bright light of the white star.  Webs of monorails connected most buildings, often at altitudes of thousands of meters.  Even with a moderate footprint of just over 3,000 square kilometers, the population density was such that the city proper allowed for vast personal housing without compromising privacy.  And while not every person within the city was a Jedi, one and all they were associated to the Vhal’Dan in one way or another.  The entire Medical Corps alone was over 10,000 strong, their innovations in cybernetics, medicine, and bacta production the result of their dedication.

But for Kazic, Vhal’Uhladv was home.  Admittedly he was often times gone but here was where Saani and he had been married and shared their residence.  When the hyperloop came to a stop, the doors opened, divulging waves of humanity upon the 547th floor.  And, finally approaching an inconspicuous door, Kazic thumbed it open, inviting Aresaea into the vast apartment.

It was three levels and it ran the entire width of the side of the building, one of the perks of being a married Gray Jedi Master.  But to Kazic, it had seemed a little…lonely, given that it was only Saani and himself.  As the young red-haired girl explored the rooms, Kazic smiled wistfully, suddenly grateful for company, especially one that could appreciate the enormity of the apartment in a way that only a child could.  

Slowly he walked up behind her, Aresaea’s face virtually plastered to the transparisteel window, the vantage from Kazic’s apartments an incredible vista overlooking Lake Olucem’m.  “Have you ever seen such a sight, Aresaea?” Kazic asked rhetorically.

Surprising him, she took his question at face value.  “…Not like this.  But when Father and Uncle would drill holes in the ground on the mountain top for mining, sometimes we could see our village’s lake like this…” Her aqua eyes affixed on the panoramic view in front of her, she did not see Kazic smile sardonically.  Then he sobered.

“‘Drill holes…’ Aresaea…do you mean ‘in-situ leaching?’” Kazic asked crossing his arms, naming the mining process that he thought the girl described.

She turned her head to look directly at Kazic, her mouth working as she sub-vocalized the new term.  Simultaneously, the Anzat felt her attempt to Delve him again; during the voyage home, this had become a regular occurrence between the two whenever someone (usually Kazic) used a term or turn of a phrase that Aresaea was unfamiliar with.  While he knew that he should be more circumspect, Kazic felt their bond of trust strengthen each and every time.  Still, a small part of him took a mental note and filed it away in his memory.  Absorbing the knowledge from his mind, Aresaea’s Delve withdrew as she turned back to stare out the window.  “…Yes, Kazic.  ‘In-situ leaching.’”  Her voice and demeanor were completely innocent, unaware that she had—once again—unilaterally acted absent of permission.

Sighing, Kazic tried not to sound pedantic.  “Aresaea…we’ve discussed this.  You must not automatically do that, especially to people that you do not know.”  His patient tone was reflected in his manner as well as the Force.  He smiled tolerantly.  “Little One, I must needs teach you for your own good.”  He took a knee so as to look directly into her eyes, readjusting his lightsaber hilt to a more comfortable position.  “Aresaea.  Do you remember what I had taught you?”  

Staring unwaveringly into Kazic’s eyes, the girl spoke in a monotone voice, reciting verbatim.  “‘It is not only rude but criminal to use the…Force against another in such a manner, in fact, tantamount to assault.’  Yes, Kazic, I remember.  But you’ve opened yourself to me already.”  She tilted her head to the side, her red hair falling over one of her eyes.  “Doesn’t that mean that you already gave me permission?”

Kazic was impressed.  She had made amazing progress, usually in fits and starts, with understanding—if not necessarily practicing—accepted social mores and norms.  But sometimes she interpreted things…quite literally and to a fault.  

But Kazic was nothing if not patient.

Explaining why her actions were mistaken, she nodded in understanding after the Anzat had clarified.  “Oh…I see.  Thank you Kazic for helping me.”  And like that, the problem solved (for her), Aresaea focused again on sightseeing and exploration.  Shaking his head in amusement (and some small wonder), the Gray Jedi Master went to unpack his luggage in his and Saani’s bedroom, the sounds and presence of life filling the apartment with a warm and comfortable ambiance.

Admittedly, one that Kazic had never expected since…well, quite some time.

            <<<<< >>>>>

It was night by the time that Sanni K’aval, Gray Jedi Master of the Vhal’Dan, Second Speaker of the Council of Balance finally returned home.  Her first act upon opening the door was to kick off her boots and rub her bare blue feet on the syncloth covering the floor of the vestibule.  Luxuriating in the experience, Saani let the Force flow through her, from her, ever outward until it reached her husband of almost 40 years.  Kazic smiled as soon as he felt his wife in the flows, a ritual that they’d adopted decades ago.  So much more than Delving, the connection that they shared was incredibly intimate.  Others may wonder and worry about the state of their relationship, Kazic thought, but what he and Sanni possessed was beyond description.  

He rose from the couch in the conservatory to join his wife, lingering for a moment as the comforting light of the Aurora Australis shone through the transparisteel wall, illuminating the room with hues of magenta and amber.  He’s always loved astronomy, even as a youngling.  He could still remember the sense of wonder when he realized that he would be able to go beyond the stars that he would stare at.  And someone to share the experience with.

Walking casually down the stairs, Kazic saw Saani performing her usual relaxation itinerary, starting with slowly rubbing her feet on the soft, fleecy carpet as she attempted to decompress from the tribulations of the day.  Looking at her husband as he descended the stairs, she smiled up at him, staring into his red eyes with her purple. …By the Maker she’s beautiful… Kazic thought as he took her in his arms, deeply kissing her blue lips.  She was tall for a Twi’lek, if shorter than him by almost 18 centimeters but she still possessed all of the benefits of her species: muscular yet slender, Saani was over 60 but still looked to be in her early 30s.  Theirs had been a wonderful marriage, full of life experiences, adversity, and intimacy.

K’ompo, why do you still have your tunic on?  I would have thought that you would have put on something more relaxing, appropriate for home.”  Her chiding was said with a smile as she looked up to her husband.  Her fingers traced the ridge of his pronounced brow as he tenderly stroked her lekku in return.  “Or is something the matter, Kazic?”

Even though Saani had asked the last in mock-seriousness, Kazic sighed, holding her at arms length.  “Kanp’a, did you forget?  I brought Aresaea to the apartment.”  Saani stared deep into Kazic’s eyes, her face unreadable; even the Force was of no help to him.

Suddenly, Saani gave a deep smile, the kind that Kazic loved witnessing.  “No, silly.  I’ve been looking forward to meeting her since you first told me!”  Saani looked past him, gazing into the atrium to one side and the livingroom on the other.  “Where is she, K’ompo?”  Saani’s voice echoed her eagerness, the light in her eyes making her face that much more beautiful.

Saani K’aval had always wanted to be a mother to Kazic’s children.  And in the beginning of their marriage, they’d tried despite the risks that a mixed Anzati offspring could encounter.  But the Vhal’Dan Medical Corps was able to assist, new innovations being discovered each week it seemed.  And while it had taken them two years, in their sixth year of marriage, Saani had become pregnant.  Both parents were ecstatic and they prepared to share of themselves with the new life that Saani carried.

But then the worst came to pass.  During the final quarter and to the horror of everyone involved, Saani went into premature labor.  Despite the advantages that Vhal’Dan technology gave, the girl fetus was stillborn and Saani herself almost died.  Given the choice between losing his wife and a hysterectomy, Kazic did not hesitate.  And while Saani understood, she still carried the scars upon her body of that fateful decision.

And, when she thought he was asleep, the scars on her mind as well.

And so when Saani’s entire demeanor changed, her excitement and inquisitiveness in equal parts, Kazic knew that he could truly relax for the first time since asking his wife if she was accepting of his idea to bring Aresaea home with him.  Gently putting a hand upon her shoulder, he replied, “Kanp’a, she is in our bed, fast asleep.”  He gave a wry laugh.  “Saani, it was all that I could do to keep up with her and the infinite number of questions that she asked.”  He started walking up to their bedchambers, arm-in-arm with his wife.

As they climbed the stairs, Saani began to run her fingers through Kazic’s thick black hair, the coarse leather of his statim in direct contrast to his topknot.  “Tell me about her, Kaz.  I still can’t believe that she was living on Yavin 4 all alone.”  

“Indeed.  She is incredibly intelligent, full of vigor and vim.  And while she was slightly underweight, she had no signs whatsoever of malnourishment.”  Kazic shook his head slightly.  “It’s odd, Kanp’a but given the arduous existence that someone alone—much less a child—would endure, she is remarkable physical shape.”  His voice trailed off as he became somewhat morose and brooding.

But his wife elbowed him in mock rebuke.  “Well, I’m sure that you took care of that little bother, feeding her like a herglic.  I swear Kazic you think that everyone has your appetite.”  Saani laughed, blowing away the clouds of doubt he sometimes carried.  But he was still felt introspective.

“I know, I know.  It’s just that…well, regardless of what she looks like, she’s not human.”  Kazic stopped short of the stair landing, turning to regard his wife.  “Saani, she went through the entire apartment.  I mean all of it.  And not just what you would expect of a human child.  Preteen.” Kazic shook his head, correcting himself.  “Aresaea is young but…Saani, I caught her reading books on Fourth-Dimensional Geometry, Ancient Massassi lore, and Odjina’s ‘Treatise Confirming the Maker.’”  He clasped his wife’s shoulder.  “Saani, she was reading the ‘Collected Poems of Illyiss.’  Kanp’a even I have to research some of the verbage that the intrepid philologian uses in his works.  She read the entire book.”  He paused for effect.

Saani stood there as she assumed an amused look upon her face.  “Kazic.  She’s a child.  So what if she can read and comprehend texts about polymathy.  Isn’t that what the Vhal’Dan do?”  She put her hands around her husband’s neck.  “Did she spend the entire time reading?”  Her purple eyes held a mischievous look within them.

Slowly Kazic answered.  “…No.  She…ran around the apartments, taking in the sights.  And then outside.  And then—” Saani unexpectedly cut him off.

“See?  An exuberant, gregarious child.”  Her wry grin silenced his concerns, at least for the moment.  …And you still have yet to tell her about Aresaea’s strength in the Force… Kazic thought but quickly pushed it towards the back of his mind.  Saani was right: this was a time to be celebrating and welcoming.  He could be responsible later.

Besides, he could tell that his wife was truly excited, a happiness that he thought she’d never have, ever.  And to Kazic, that was worth more than seeing all of the stars in the galaxy.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on February 23, 2018, 06:09:10 PM
Does my word selection really cause such vexation and the need for learning? *chuckles*  Again, I am humbled and honored, you as well do me a magnanimous obeisance.  ;)

Once again, the Aethans show the magnitude of their evolved advantages, with this glimpse into the curiosity of the advanced mind play of a child, pre-teen ( ;) ), is a refreshing, and fun addition to the lore.  I wonder, where will this lead, and how does she play into the later events we are already delved well into elsewhere... 

Not to undervalue this revelation fest of the Vhal'Dan, the prosperous home world, the natural beauty it clearly shows at this stage, yet we know that later the Vhal'Dan find M'tzigon to be the paradise...  Queries flaring to life and rushing out into expanses of waiting, wondering at the connections that bring the two disparate ideas into union...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on February 23, 2018, 07:50:49 PM
Galtea certainly sounds like a beautiful world…however given the title of the series is civil war…don’t expect it to stay that way for much longer….Some strong natural defences in terms of its position in the galaxy…
“it had the distinct provenance of being located in a rare triangulation of three massive pulsars, which limited hyperspace travel to one point of egress.”
Hmm only one way in also means only one way out….
What a deep connection Saani and Kazic have…makes one wonder if it can theoretically be developed between any two force users who grow accustomed to each other, or are some relationships more empowered to serve as a bridge than others?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 24, 2018, 05:31:55 AM
Does my word selection really cause such vexation and the need for learning? *chuckles*  Again, I am humbled and honored, you as well do me a magnanimous obeisance.  ;)

Once again, the Aethans show the magnitude of their evolved advantages, with this glimpse into the curiosity of the advanced mind play of a child, pre-teen ( ;) ), is a refreshing, and fun addition to the lore.  I wonder, where will this lead, and how does she play into the later events we are already delved well into elsewhere... 

Not to undervalue this revelation fest of the Vhal'Dan, the prosperous home world, the natural beauty it clearly shows at this stage, yet we know that later the Vhal'Dan find M'tzigon to be the paradise...  Queries flaring to life and rushing out into expanses of waiting, wondering at the connections that bring the two disparate ideas into union...
Galtea certainly sounds like a beautiful world…however given the title of the series is civil war…don’t expect it to stay that way for much longer….Some strong natural defences in terms of its position in the galaxy…
“it had the distinct provenance of being located in a rare triangulation of three massive pulsars, which limited hyperspace travel to one point of egress.”
Hmm only one way in also means only one way out….
What a deep connection Saani and Kazic have…makes one wonder if it can theoretically be developed between any two force users who grow accustomed to each other, or are some relationships more empowered to serve as a bridge than others?

Let's just say that you both are picking up on foreshadowing for the future  ;D

And nicely done!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on February 24, 2018, 10:46:14 AM
Amazingly descriptive!  But as Illyiss said, this isn't holding with what we've seen of the Vahl'Dan in the "present".

And I loved the nod.  "Odjina’s ‘Treatise Confirming the Maker.’” indeed!  ;-)  Probably the book that got them expelled from the Jedi Order.  LOL

I love the scene, but I have a bad feeling about this...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDrunkenConsular on February 25, 2018, 07:13:10 PM
The Collected Poems of Illyiss must indeed be a marvelous time!

I greatly enjoyed this one so far, can't wait to see where it goes!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 04, 2018, 11:24:34 PM
Just catching up on this, and it is glorious. A few things from the last chapters. An Aethan could easily be a bad sign, but the use of that totem was masterfully done. Like the others have said, the "Collected Poems of Illyiss" was a great nod. I love when you directly incorporate the rest of us into your stories. Also I agree with Karm, "Odjina's Treatise Confirming the Maker" could definitely be part of the reason for the Mak'Tor expulsion.

But this particular line I though was very very good. "Don't look back; you're not going that way". While meant in some ways as a joke, the truth to that statement cannot be denied. Very well done.


Also, y'all make me feel small. 5'11" and ~180lbs (though admittedly, I've not quit growing yet).  :D


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 05, 2018, 12:20:19 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/hwORYS/5187_12_Council_jpg_610x0.jpg) (https://ibb.co/hwORYS)

Chapter 3: Troubled Horizons

****************************************
Vhal’Dan Congress
Baransu no Kage: Arkady Cyne
 Arbiter: Anson D’Aklon
  Council of Balance:
  1st Speaker: Kazic Ovarug
  2nd Speaker: Saani K’aval
  3rd Speaker: Pytir Danisen
  4th Speaker: J’Nessah Raanh
  5th Speaker: Corvus Watashi
  6th Speaker: Auryn Kerosin’e
  7th Speaker: Sarith Tovar
****************************************

“And you say that Kimar had the truth suppressed?  That the situation is much more…dire than reports would indicate?” Kage Arkady’s inquisitive tone held no antagonism, just plain curiosity.  

“That’s correct Kage.”  Anson’s clear voice rang in the Hall of Balance, the handsome Arbiter having come directly from his mission to Coruscant to gather intel on a reported attack on the Jedi.  There’d even been rumors that the Temple itself had been penetrated, the Order decimated.  The truth turned out to be far more intriguing, if confusing.  Anson continued.  “While I was on-planet, the locals were fervent with gossip, much of it having the taste of truth while some…even if they were rumors, I think that it should act as a compass for the Vhal’Dan.  The level of violence was beyond what Coruscant has known since the New Sith Wars and the Ruusan Reformation.”  The tanned, muscular Jedi master paused for effect.  “I believe that it is time for the Order to implement war-time procedures.”  Looking around the Council, seven sets of eyes staring directly at Anson, the Arbiter glared at them each in turn before turning his brown eyes towards the Kage.  “We need to fully militarize, suspending any and all activities not specifically dedicated to our defenses.”

Even as a restricted session, the collected Vhal’Dan Gray masters were present; as such, the spectators numbered over 700.  While they only whispered, the amassed murmurs of the entire audience sounded loud in the Hall of Balance, the gathered masters interested and worried considering the news that the human Arbiter had brought.  Which is exactly what Anson had intended.

And Arkady knew it.  Grim determination on his face, the Kage spoke.  “Even if your ‘suggestion’ wasn’t out of line with the decorum of this august body, the fact that you think that this no longer merits further investigation is proof that you’ve already made up your mind, Arbiter.”  Like a cool salve on a burn, the Kage’s deliberate tone and calming words quieted the assemblage.  “Master Anson, I would invite for you to remain after these proceedings are completed.”  Unlike the Arbiter, the Kage was an expert at circumspection and tact but every single master in attendance recognized the chastisement for what it was, subtle or no.

That included Anson.  Red-faced, the Arbiter’s jaw clenched, the muscles of his jowls rippling in the soft light of the Hall.  Regardless, he sat and nodded his head at Arkady, deferring to his Kage.  Magnanimous in victory, the Kage turned to the seven gathered Gray masters that made up the Vhal’Dan Council of Balance.  “Speakers, I would recommend that we table these talks until we have a Congressional closed session consisting of the Council, the Arbiter, and myself alone.”  Arkady’s blue eyes were piercing as his gruff voice echoed within the Hall.

As First Speaker, Kazic stood.  In theory, “First Speaker” was supposed to be just that: first to talk among equals.  The reality of the matter was that the position was really just a half-step below that of Arbiter; some even whispered that—in Kazic’s case—his standing as First Speaker put him at equal footing with Anson.

Kazic disabused everyone of those notions.  He’d made it clear to every single person that he was subordinate to Anson in his capacity of Arbiter and that he had no designs to ascend to the office…at least while his friend occupied it.  His red eyes intent upon Arkady, Kazic intoned, “Kage, Arbiter, fellow Council members.  I call this session to a close.  Go in Balance.”  As the assembled masters departed—some more reluctant than others—the seven Speakers of the Council sat in collective silence.  As soon as the doors closed, leaving only the nine members of the Vhal’Dan Congress, all of the Jedi began speaking, voices rising, often trying to talk over one another.  Only two people did not speak: Arkady and Anson.

Both men sat staring at one another upon the raised central dais, not maliciously but then again not genially either.  And as the Speakers of the Council descended into a cacophony of shouting, the Kage finally stood, speaking a single word amplified with the Force.  “ENOUGH.”

After the noise of the arguments, the silence was deafening.  “We are supposed to represent the best that the Vhal’Dan has to offer.  Please at least try to act like it, Speakers.”  The Kage only paused briefly, reasonably certain that the Council had been suitably castigated.  He slowly inhaled, continuing.  “Now.  After everything that Anson has told us, from Vyth to Coruscant, the Jedi deaths, the civilian terrorism, and even Kimar’s desperate measures, I would ask that you listen to the Arbiter in full.  Then, and only then, will I hear from each of you in turn.”  Arkady looked at Anson.  “Arbiter?”

Anson looked up from steepled fingers, his raptor-like gaze looking around.  Finally he stood, first stepping down from the dais and then slowly pacing around the semi-circular arrangement of chairs.  “Kage, Speakers, I cannot stress to you the…brutality of the violence that Coruscant is overwhelmed by, the savagery that the Jedi encountered.  We’ve all seen battles, some of us have even experienced war…” He nodded to Arkady, Kazic, and Saani before continuing, “…but what I saw on Coruscant was beyond gruesome.  The Jedi were killed indiscriminately, often times dying before they knew that they were under attack.  Numerous guerrilla attacks, usually from the most unlikely of persons.  There were even known pacifists that had somehow been turned into indiscriminate killers!”  That last especially hit home, Anson could tell.  “The Jedi made a critical error: hubris.”  Anson’s face was impassive but his eyes held passion.  “They thought that they were prepared.  They thought that they understood the ‘rules’ of war.  It was a slaughter.  And Kimar would have everyone believe that he was in control over everything at all times.  This is nothing but a bold-faced lie.”  Anson directed his eyes straight at the Kage.  “The Jedi forgot: the only ‘rule’ in war is to kill your enemy, in any way, at any time, so that your enemy is no more.”

Anson stared again at each master in turn.  “The Jedi thought that they were infallible, that their dogma somehow elevated them past such mortal concerns.  But they died just as easily and just as quickly as porgs to the slaughter.”  Finally, he looked at Arkady.  “And the most unbelievable rumor that I heard whispered in the bowels of the underlevels: they were set upon by a small group of incredibly powerful Force-sensitives.  The Jedi’s numbers counted for nothing!” The last came out as a shout, one that evidently surprised even the Arbiter.

Collecting himself, Anson’s voice became much softer.  “Earlier this year, Master Kazic and myself were on a mission to establish favorable relations with the outcast Mak’Tor Order.  To say that we were successful is an understatement.  But it was during that time that I first learned of the Massacre at Vyth.”  The only Vhal’Dan that knew of Vyth were the ones currently in the Hall but no one else.  “Kage Li‘I’Mack was emphatic: the Mak’Tor of Vyth had been killed by two extremely powerful Sith, the sole survivor a girl who could barely be counted as a ‘youngling!’”  He shook his head, a strange look upon his face.  “…extremely powerful…”

Anson’s head sank, his chin resting upon his chest, his next words quiet as if speaking to himself.  “I don’t know what is worse to contemplate – that the attacks on Vyth and Coruscant were carried out by the same group…or if it was two different groups…”  Recalling himself to the present, his jaw firmed in conviction.  “…Either way we must be prepared!  Research and history is important but with something out there that has already attacked both the Mak’Tor and the Jedi where they felt strongest…well, the time for peaceful endeavors is over!”  Anson’s voice rose in exclamation and assurance, eyes scrutinizing every Speaker before settling finally upon the Kage.  “Kage, the Vhal’Dan must be as strong as possible to repel this threat.  I vote that anything that does not aid us towards that end should be considered superfluous, including some personal liberties.  The survival of our Order supersedes the needs of the individual.”  Slowly rising from his seat, Arkady spoke in a measured, soft voice.

“Thank you Arbiter.  Now, I would have each of your opinions concerning this event.  Anson is convinced that they are related but offers no such proof aside from the fact that the attacks were allegedly perpetrated by Force-users of unbelievable power.  Furthermore, he demands that we reform the Vhal’Dan as a police state.”  The short, bald man looked at Kazic, addressing him.  “First Speaker, what say you?”

Standing his full height, Kazic spoke slowly.  “Kage…I think that the Vhal’Dan should make preparations.”  The Anzati master held up his hands to his fellow Council members to prevent the disputes he knew to be coming.  “But conditionally: we should not neglect our duties as researchers or educators.  We are Gray, first and foremost; warriors second.  As such, we should continue in those capacities, moreso now than ever as the Jedi Order sits on unstable foundation.  Furthermore, I believe that the Arbiter is correct in cultivating a strong alliance with the Mak’Tor; I have seen the results from their Singers and they are extraordinary to say the least.”  

Kazic then looked at the Speakers who had voiced opposition to Anson’s call to militarization.  “But let us not forget: we are warriors.  We should never fall into the same trappings of complacency that have laid the Jedi low.  I vote that we prepare ourselves and not just ‘nominally.’  Let us work our apprentices in their training, giving our adept Jedi mastery.  Let us stay vigilant against this unknown foe while we continue to improve in the ways of the Force.  Moreover, let us see to it that Galtea is secure; in fact, I vote that we quadruple the Golan Defense presence at the hyperlane terminus.”  Kazic received many sounds of assent with each point, growing in volume with every suggestion.

But then, deliberately, the Anzati master went rigidly still, crossing his arms.  “But I cannot—will not—support full militarization in that such a directive would impugn upon the individual liberties of our Jedi.  And I, for one, refuse to allow the Vhal’Dan become a ‘reactionary rabble afraid of it’s own shadow’ as Kimar has seen fit to do with the Jedi.  We are strong because of our freedoms.  And we should always remain so, especially in the face of adversity.”

As he sat down, he saw that several Speakers had been persuaded…while others had not.  And going down the list—from 2nd Speaker to 7th Speaker—each one was given an opportunity to address the matter from their point of view.  Saani K’aval.  Pytir Danisen.  J’Nessah Raanh.  Auryn Kerosin’e.  Corvus Watashi.  Sarith Tovar.  And while they voiced disparate views using different contentions and differing words, they fell alongside the two most common positions: Anson’s call for full martial implementation or Kazic’s recommendation for moderation.  The ballots cast, the Kage called out the results.

Reading the names from the poll upon his datapad, Arkady’s strong voice resounded throughout the Hall.  “For militarization: Arbiter Anson D’Aklon, 3rd Speaker Pytir Danisen, 4th Speaker J’Nessah Raanh, 6th Speaker Auryn Kerosin’e.  For moderation: 1st Speaker Kazic Ovarug, 2nd Speaker Saani K’aval, 5th Speaker Corvus Watashi, 7th Speaker Sarith Tovar.”  As he finished, the Speakers looked from one another to the Arbiter and finally to the Kage.

A tie.

Which meant… “In such an event, I, Kage Arkady Cyne, shall cast the deciding vote.”  The stature of the short human was belied by his immense presence and strength in the Force.  “I vote for moderation.  The Vhal’Dan will make the necessary preparations Master Ovarug has proposed; please see to it, Speakers.”

Looking around the chamber, the Kage nodded, intoning.  “This concludes these deliberations.”  While the Council members remained for several moments to discuss some of the minutiae of the proceedings, Anson left without so much as a word or a backwards glance…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Alone in his quarters, Anson sat cross-legged in his Meditation Vestibule.  He’d doffed his light gray robes, wearing only a sleeveless tunic and pair of hakama, exposing his muscular arms and calves.  And while not necessary for the ceremony, he’d lit several candles, the sole sources of illumination around the room.

His brow furrowed, Anson’s concentration deepened as he attempted to wade in the currents of the Force, hopefully granting him elucidation and knowledge.  Checking his anchor a final time—a holopic of him, Kazic, Saani, and Anson’s former teacher, Master Varel’Zo—Anson began Flow-walking in the hope of gaining insight from the future.

As a young teidowan, Anson had been apprenticed to Master Gray Varel’Zo, a rare Aang-Tii in the Vhal’Dan.  And while his mental Force abilities weren’t as strong as say Kazic’s, Anson had demonstrated an almost singular talent with Flow-walking.  The Force ability allowed one to see into the depths of the past or even glimpse the far-flung future.  Flow-walking was alike to Force Precognition but also vastly dissimilar: it allowed the practitioner to witness events of either the past or the present but they could not alter the events directly.  Instead, Flow-walking allowed the perception of the walker themselves to change, to be influenced.

Anson gave an inward smile in remembrance of learning that.  He’d asked Master Varel’Zo how that was any different from Force Precognition whereas the venerable master cryptically replied, “Exactly.”

But Anson wanted, no needed, answers.  The others could be forgiven for not recognizing the sinister implications of the news that he brought, but he’d been especially wounded by Kazic’s apparent unfaithfulness.  How could he side with that blind fool Arkady?  And against him, his own brother-in-arms?!  Gritting his teeth, Anson focused upon his task, searching the currents as they swept him ever onward in Time.

Coalescing from the streams, he searched for anything that affected the Vhal’Dan collectively.  And while murky at first, portraits and scenes began to emerge showing him what he wanted to know.  And to his horror, he saw that he was right to be concerned.

A panorama of violence assaulted his eyes, the sounds of explosions, the cries of pain, the lamentation of death pierced his ears, the pain of loss and frustration filled his mind as ever faster each sight filled him with dread.  

The Vhal’Dan would be—had been—attacked, killed, annihilated.  Galtea would be—had been—destroyed, nothing left of either the beautiful ecosystem nor the majestic cities.  As Anson flowed from one current to another, his mind raced at the possible cause. …Those…incredibly powerful Force-users… It must be them, he knew it to be them.  He must—

Suddenly, a blinding flash of complete and utter black stillness diverted his Flow, the currents bisecting as they strove to run around the Void.  Even as Anson looked beyond into the Future and saw…nothing…nothing at all…he knew that there was now a fork in the Flow of Time.  And while he could not see exactly the ways, he knew—knew—that in one Flow, the Vhal’Dan would survive, greatly diminished but they would survive, a small but indelibly stronger Order; while in the direction of the other Flow lay…oblivion.

…No… He thought, anger, fear, and aggravation filling him.  …No…it cannot be… Either loss or…extermination…?!  And always in the center of everything: the Void.  Anson knew that the Void represented…something paramount, something…colossal.

But he knew not what, nor what it portended.

With a soul-jarring sensation, Anson opened his eyes, inhaling as if he’d finally broke the surface of the lake he’d been swimming—drowning—in, taking great gulping breaths of air.  Slowly, he willed his heart to stop hammering in his chest, the sweat pouring from his face from exertion.  Looking around the room to find some semblance of familiarity, of peace.  As he eased his breathing, he began to calm down.

And, in time, clarity came to him.  He needed to talk to those Council members that had voted with him.  He would have to be careful.  Deliberate.  Protracted.  But certain.

He knew how to save the Vhal’Dan, even if only a remnant remained, it would be he—Arbiter Anson D’Aklon—who would save them.

And as he thought, plans within plans began to take shape, always towards that future that guaranteed that the Vhal’Dan survived.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 05, 2018, 12:43:59 PM
I love the imagery you've invoked in this passage.  The split council, the tie-breaking vote, the personal betrayal ... all leading to a fateful decision.
And humming  in the background, the question: Was the decision the cause?  Or the effect?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 05, 2018, 01:19:02 PM
This is quite possibly the best chapter you have ever written. Maybe not the favorite, but I think truly your best to date (at least from what I've read so far. I've yet to catch up on the other stories). You can feel the desperation in Anson's voice as he speaks to the council. He knows what needs to be done, even if not exactly how. I have to say, as much as people thought it was "boring" and "slow" and "annoying" and a "waste of time" for the prequels to have all the politics in them, I disagree. I thought it was awesome to see how the Republic worked, and it was interesting as well. Yes it was all of those things at times, but it was also a major part of what the Republic was at that time. It was definitely necessary. And so seeing that same type of thing here was wonderful. It may not be the exciting part of SW, but it is still a major part of it. And you portray in incredibly. But then immediately going into Anson's meditation, and explaining the Flow-walking, and showing what he sees, and how he can influence the Vahl'Dan to either survival or extinction was wonderfully done. Well done.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 05, 2018, 04:27:39 PM
Don’t stare into the void lest it stare into you maybe?

Always in motion is the future….Flow walking is very dangerous (just ask Jacen Solo…)…especially for events you are going to play a part in…you’re knowledge of the future changes how you react in the present…again changing the future…a race you can never win and a puzzle you can never solve…If Anson is relying on this kind of technique to probe the future...

For now the vote is tied…but future events may push that balance…and as per the laws of physics the more one side pushes…the more the other will push back.

Cool inclusion of the Aang Tii btw...a very different perspective.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 05, 2018, 04:45:51 PM
LOL   This flow walking sounds a little like creating a "fixed point in time" in Dr. Who....   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 05, 2018, 07:52:10 PM
So here we have the danger of a council of individualists, leading a group of the same; that in a vote so split, those not on the winning side cling to their cause, and not yield to the victor.  Without the unity of acceptance, a crack will form, and perhaps from that crack, division, and from division, conflict.  Fear is a strong motivator, to be certain, but as a strong emotion, it counters reason, suppresses rational thought, and leads those in it's grips to ever increasing acts to fight it off...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 06, 2018, 05:21:03 AM
This is quite possibly the best chapter you have ever written. Maybe not the favorite, but I think truly your best to date (at least from what I've read so far. I've yet to catch up on the other stories). You can feel the desperation in Anson's voice as he speaks to the council. He knows what needs to be done, even if not exactly how. I have to say, as much as people thought it was "boring" and "slow" and "annoying" and a "waste of time" for the prequels to have all the politics in them, I disagree. I thought it was awesome to see how the Republic worked, and it was interesting as well. Yes it was all of those things at times, but it was also a major part of what the Republic was at that time. It was definitely necessary. And so seeing that same type of thing here was wonderful. It may not be the exciting part of SW, but it is still a major part of it. And you portray in incredibly. But then immediately going into Anson's meditation, and explaining the Flow-walking, and showing what he sees, and how he can influence the Vahl'Dan to either survival or extinction was wonderfully done. Well done.
Thanks TR!  I have to say: politics doesn't have to be boring and I agree with you  :)

Don’t stare into the void lest it stare into you maybe?

Always in motion is the future….Flow walking is very dangerous (just ask Jacen Solo…)…especially for events you are going to play a part in…you’re knowledge of the future changes how you react in the present…again changing the future…a race you can never win and a puzzle you can never solve…If Anson is relying on this kind of technique to probe the future...

For now the vote is tied…but future events may push that balance…and as per the laws of physics the more one side pushes…the more the other will push back.

Cool inclusion of the Aang Tii btw...a very different perspective.

Yes LSG, Nietzsche would definitely be interested in Anson (and wonderful, indeed ironic, joke  ;)).

Thanks!  The Aang-Tii are interestingl and criminally underutilized IMO  ;)

I love the imagery you've invoked in this passage.  The split council, the tie-breaking vote, the personal betrayal ... all leading to a fateful decision.
And humming  in the background, the question: Was the decision the cause?  Or the effect?
...Which of course is the heart of contention  ;). Thanks Karm!

So here we have the danger of a council of individualists, leading a group of the same; that in a vote so split, those not on the winning side cling to their cause, and not yield to the victor.  Without the unity of acceptance, a crack will form, and perhaps from that crack, division, and from division, conflict.  Fear is a strong motivator, to be certain, but as a strong emotion, it counters reason, suppresses rational thought, and leads those in it's grips to ever increasing acts to fight it off...
...And this is why I need to include more passages from the "Collected Works of Illyiss"

Just...sublime sir  ;)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 06, 2018, 06:05:31 AM
Thanks TR!  I have to say: politics doesn't have to be boring and I agree with you  :)
Yes LSG, Nietzsche would definitely be interested in Anson (and wonderful, indeed ironic, joke  ;)).

Thanks!  The Aang-Tii are interestingl and criminally underutilized IMO  ;)
...Which of course is the heart of contention  ;). Thanks Karm!
...And this is why I need to include more passages from the "Collected Works of Illyiss"

Just...sublime sir  ;)

Apparently, I need minor funding to be able to write a bunch of these and keep you all supplied.  LOL ;)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 06, 2018, 09:29:31 AM
Apparently, I need minor funding to be able to write a bunch of these and keep you all supplied.  LOL ;)
Now that's a fund that I would GLADLY contribute to!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDrunkenConsular on March 06, 2018, 09:39:47 AM
This is getting very interesting!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 09, 2018, 09:32:42 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gKPMsn/Kalikori.png) (https://ibb.co/gKPMsn)

Chapter 4: Legacy and Lore

“And these are the artifacts that you say…she found?” Anson’s incredulous tone mirrored his disbelief.  His arms crossed across his chest, the Arbiter looked askance at the collected items on the metallic table in the well-lit, hi-tech chamber.

“I did.  Aresaea has been nothing short of amazing.” Kazic said, some small pride in his voice, the Maker knew why.  “Anson, she taught me that this particular Corusca gem…” Kazic indicated a dull, lusterless round obsidian rock.  “…is in fact a type of holocron.  But not at all like the current variety.  Here.”  Kazic picked up the black glass globe, offering it the Anson who tentatively took it in his hands.  The Arbiter’s brown eyes squinted as he concentrated, staring intently at the round, black stone.

“Sorry Anson; not like that.  Here, let me show you.” Kazic said easily.  Cupping the stone in both hands, Kazic’s red eyes lidded, speaking a spidery language that Anson did not recognize.  “Yrrt cnnyl dssq’a.”  As soon as the last syllable had left his gray lips, the stone glowed a preternatural green, projecting two cones of light that coalesced into two holographic images, both human males.  One had a pale face that was covered with a helmet, his body adorned with heavy armor; the other, a strong, handsome, young man with long black hair.  Where the armored man was wide, the young man was slender.  Something about their appearance tickled Anson’s memory but nothing to elicit anything exact.  “Those two are Freedon Nad and Gav Daragon.” Kazic smiled conspiratorially as if reading his friend’s thoughts.

Anson looked stunned.  “You…you mean…those two are…the lost apprentices of…Naga Sadow?!” Anson’s eyes were almost as round as the holocron that he held in his fingers, which now gleamed with a dark radiance.

“Yes.” Kazic’s eyes flashed, reflecting the smile upon his lips. “Anson…this also details the Fall and Rise of Exar Kun.”  He clapped his friend on the back.  “Or at least part of it.  And only a part of that has been properly translated.  But think of the possibilities!”  Anson looked at his friend, trying to recall the last time that he’d been so excited.  It served to remind him of better times, cutting through his anger and softening the hard edges of his face.  Briefly he smiled, putting a hand upon the taller master’s dark-gray clad shoulder.

“You are right brother: this is indeed an incredible find.”  But a nagging thought crept from the depths of his mind.  “Kaz…how did that girl know how to access this holocron…or for that matter, how’d she even know that this was a holocron?  You’re one of the most learned Jedi scholars that I know and—by your own admission—she taught…you.”  His emphasis on the last word was deliberate, as was his intense stare into the taller master’s eyes.  “Kazic, these questions deserve answers.  And the girl needs to answer them.”  Anson’s soft voice was incongruous with the intensity within his eyes.

Kazic had crossed his arms, an expressionless mask fixed upon his face.  “…I agree that this situation presents a mystery.  And I have asked on several occasions.  Anson, her people are naturally gifted.  Why can’t you accept that?  You accept me, your brother, and the Anzati are likewise gifted in the For—” But Anson irritably cut him off, his voice terse.

“No, Kazic!  Not like you!  She’s better than you, better than all of us!  She’s dangerous!”  Anson’s voice rose until he was shouting, the other occupants of the lab all staring at him.  Conscious of the attention that he’d attracted, the Arbiter lowered his voice, stepping closer to the Anzat.  “Kazic…what if the girl suddenly decides that she would rather exert her power for gain instead of learning?”

A wry grin spread on Kazic’s face.  “…Where to begin?  What keeps you from using the Force to enslave non-Force-users?”  Anson stared to protest but Kazic rolled right over him.  “The Vhal’Dan are over 5,000 strong and yet we’ve never done something so…reviling.  Furthermore, Aresaea is a girl, one who is in need of our assistance.  Yes, I brought her here and I’d gladly do it again.”  Kazic’s smile suddenly dropped, his face losing all traces of humor.  “But most of all: she’s a person.  She’s not property, or a slave, or a prisoner.  I will not allow you to treat her as such.  Liberties such as what we enjoy are sacrosanct and I will not take that freedom from anyone.  Not her.  Not you.  Not one Vhal’Dan Jedi.”  He glared at Anson.  “No one.”

Anson met Kazic, stare for stare.  “You should have joined the Sons of Kessel.” He said derisively.  Still, the shorter man didn’t press the issue but neither did he back down.  “Kazic…one of these days you’ll have to make a hard choice.  I just hope that you won’t be in the ‘zero angle’ when you do.”  With that, Anson left the lab.

For a moment, Kazic stood perplexed as to the vehemence in his friend’s attitude.  He knew that things had been strained between them as of late, going back to the Congressional vote.  Part of him agreed with Anson’s diligence in wanting to militarize, but he absolutely refused to do so at the cost of people’s personal freedom; he’d experienced his share of slavery a few hundred years ago.  He’d be damned if he would willingly endorse that, much less subject others to such.  Why was Anson so intransigent on this point?  Surely he could see why Kazic’s own experiences with slavery would influence his position against the war footing that Anson so desperately strove for…

“Master Kazic, are you still investigating the p’Lan’Tr?” Maenowan Jorol Qui-Xot asked, using the name provided by Aresaea.  The slender human anthropologist was one of the project leaders on ancient Massassi culture and artifacts, an outstanding swordsman, and—including his husband Tsarvung Xot—one of Kazic’s closest friends.  So much so that Aresaea split her time between staying with Kazic and Saani, and Jorol and Tsarvung.  His easy smile lit up his handsome dusky face, his dark eyes reflecting the good humor that seemed to be a permanent fixture in his moods.

Kazic blinked himself to the present, handing the black orb over to his friend, the p’Lan’Tr now lusterless again.  “Sorry, Jorol.  Daydreaming.”  He turned to leave but stopped short, slowly turning to face the maenowan.  “Jorol…when Aresaea stays with you and Tsarvung…well, has she ever done anything…dangerous?”  Kazic’s gray brow was furrowed as he absentmindedly stroked his short, black mustache and beard, a sense of controlled worry just below the surface.

Jorol adopted a concerned look.  “Aresaea?  Dangerous?” The tall human smiled as he straightened imagined creases in his immaculate off-white robes.  “Kazic, she plays with all three of our children.  I doubt that Tsarvung would allow her to do that if he’d seen her doing anything ‘dangerous.’”  He put a hand upon the Anzat’s shoulder.  To anyone looking, they were a picture of contrasts: Jorol in light robes, Kazic in dark.  “I’ll give you that she’s highly intelligent, inquisitive, and remarkably gifted.  But…dangerous?  No my friend.  And I trust her around my family, which is everything that you should need to tell you whether or not I consider her ‘dangerous.’”  Jorol’s smile deepened as Kazic’s serious face broke into a grin.

“Duly noted my friend.  Never mind me, I’ve been working too much.”  Kazic glanced at the chronometer on the wall.  “And on that note, I’m late for Saani and home.  Please give my regards to your husband, Jorol.”  Clapping the slender maenowan on his back as he exited, Kazic made his way to the lab entrance and out to the monorail that would drop him off at his shared home with his wife.

            <<<<< >>>>>

As Saani and Aresaea sat around the comfortable, low round table in the conservatory, Galtea’s sun was slowly setting on the eastern horizon, the blue of the day giving way to the gorgeous red and purple of dusk.  Between the two was a holoprojector, the transcription from “Apotropaic,” a selection from “The Complete Works of Illyiss” floating between them.  Both sat on the floor, Saani with her feet tucked underneath her while Aresaea sat on her heels.

Saani read:
   Born of dust, forged in fire, finding
   Love, purified but transient within
   Life fulfilled and evanescent, too soon,
   Death rewarded but unacknowledged
   His lament inconsolable, his comportment
   Desolate he rejoins with sentiment.

   Rebirth unsolicited, she rages to
   The Heavens weep and for them he
   Agonizes, regretful and repentant as
   She supplants his nemesis, all of
   His own making, just rewards unwarranted
   Their mutual perdition.


As Saani stopped to take a breath, the girl spoke.  “Saani…I am not sure that I understand this piece.  I recognize the use of dual sestets as a dynamic and divergent change but…what does it mean?”  Aresaea’s aqua eyes looked inquisitive, expectant that the Twi’lek woman would be able to provide an answer.

Saani smiled wryly.  “Ari…I appreciate that you put so much faith in me but, admittedly, I don’t know either.  That’s why scholars, poets, and philiologians the galaxy throughout hotly debate Illyiss’ exact meanings in his verses.”  Slowly stroking her blue lekku, Saani closed her eyes.  Not from exasperation but rather because she felt a happiness that she had thought that she would never know.

In the months since Kazic had brought the girl back to Galtea, Saani and Aresaea had created a fast and lasting bond, close enough that they both began to think of the other as family.  With most others—Kazic, Jorol, and Tsarvung being the exceptions—Aresaea was decidedly guarded against them.  But with Saani, she had opened up, blossoming as both a teenager and, more importantly, as an integral part of Saani and Kazic’s family.  

Saani had noted that Aresaea inferred that in Saani and Kazic’s marriage, he was supposed to defer to her.  The Twi’lek woman thought it the height of humor when Kazic had interrupted Saani during a dinner only to be sternly reprimanded by Aresaea for disrespecting his Mistress.  The shocked look in her husband’s red eyes had been priceless.  Ever the endurable and polite man, Kazic had immediately apologized to Saani, bowing his head as he hid an amused grin.  Regardless, that seemed to assuage Aresaea’s somber mood.  It was later on at night when they were alone in their bed that Saani and Kazic had a good laugh concerning the incident.

But it also allowed Saani a window into the girl’s mind and her expectations.  Aresaea had never given a name to her species, much less her planet, but it was evident to Saani that they must have been a matriarchal culture.  The wooden totem that she’d given to Kazic further reinforced that theory.  And while Aresaea had not referred to Saani as “mother,” she knew that the girl viewed her as the materfamilias.

Likewise, Saani had begun to regard Aresaea as…if not necessarily a daughter, then certainly as her ward.  

Her…family.

Unconsciously, Saani stroked an almost faded scar on her abdomen.  Abruptly standing, she could tell that she’d surprised Aresaea, the girl’s eyes going wide, the air suddenly electric and oppressive.  A slight consolatory smile upon her blue lips, Saani gently placed her hands on the girl’s head.  “Sorry Ari…I didn’t mean to startle you.  But, please, come with me.  I have something else I’d like to show you.”  Helping Aresaea to her feet, they both walked into the large entertaining room of the apartments.  Over on one of the display cases, Saani stopped, opening the transparisteel lid and withdrawing a small, wooden object.

“…This, Ari, is my family’s Kalikori.  It’s been in my family for centuries.”  Saani held the object gently, reverently.  It was about 40 centimeters tall and half as wide.  Arranged in roughly a “T” shape, two lengths of strung beads hung from either end of the top wooden bar, multiple Twi’leki glyphs, paintings, carvings covering almost the entire surface area of the artifact.  “This—” Saani indicated an intricate carving on one of the larger beads hanging on the right side, “—represents Kazic’s and my marriage.”  Saani smiled fondly as tender recollections filled her mind.

“…Saani…I can feel your memories…do you…will you…open yourself to me?  Please?” Aresaea’s voice was quiet yet eager.  Saani looked down and smiled at her, nodding warmly.  As she had with Kazic, Aresaea Delved into Saani’s mind, sharing in her remembrance of the past: her long, deliberate courtship that Kazic endured, persistent in his intentions, the beautiful wedding done according to Twi’lek custom, the passionate nights foll—

Saani recoiled, her face contorted in shock and embarrassment; she had not meant to…share those memories.  Her breathing was heavy.  “Ari…that, that was my fault.  But you must remember that there are memories that are private.  They are inviolable and not to be…examined.”  She shuddered a bit as her breathing returned to normal.  

“I am sorry Saani.  I promise that I will not look at your private thoughts without your permission.”  Her voice was inoffensive and childlike.  Aresaea was still getting used to such things as “privacy” and “personal space.”  Saani couldn’t be definite but she was fairly certain that whatever culture Aresaea grew up in, it was much more communal.  And although the girl was reticent to share much about her past, Saani also suspected that her people had a kind of…group mind in the Force.  It wasn’t unheard of but Saani hadn’t had any experiences outside those exceptions that she’d read about during her anthropology studies.

Slightly shaking her head and recalling herself to the present, Saani continued, “Anyway…Ari, this Kalikori is my family’s legacy.  It has seen such events as the New Sith Wars, the Ruusan Reformation, and even the Treaty of Coruscant.  It has been passed down from parent to child for almost 50 generations… It…it is priceless.”  Saani became wistful.  As she stared at the totem, her fingers gingerly caressed the wood reverentially.

“…Saani?”  Aresaea’s voice sounded timid.  “…Who will you give your Kalikori to since you and Kazic have no children?”  It was an innocent question, asked innocuously.  Yet to Saani, it was a lightsaber to her heart.

Fighting back tears, Saani turned her head hoping to hide her crying from the girl.  “…Saani?  What…what’s wrong?”  Aresaea’s voice was full of concern, one of the only times she ever showed such emotions.  Wiping her eyes quickly, Saani exhaled slowly, controlling her tears.

“It…it’s ok Ari.  It’s ok.”  Saani put the Kalikori back into the display case, a lingering look as she stared at the totem.  “Come on Ari, let’s see if Kazic can meet us for dinner.”  Putting her arm around the girl, Saani led them out of the apartments, still trying to smother the melancholy that threatened to overwhelm her.  Slowly, she started feeling more herself.

And with that, she focused on Ari and herself, her spirits buoyed as Aresaea smiled, asking, “Saani…can we eat at the Skysitter?  I love the view there!”  And as the girl ran towards the monorail, Saani couldn’t help but smile, thankful for these past months despite the political upheaval that Anson still tried to facilitate.  

Anson.  She couldn’t help but be concerned about the way that the Arbiter had acted upon seeing Aresaea.  She’d seen the way that he’d looked upon the girl when Kazic had returned from Yavin 4.  He seemed to immediately distrust her, Maker knew why though… It was as if what he’d seen at Coruscant had made him xenophobic to anyone NOT a member of the Vhal’Dan.  

Saani shook her head, ruminating on what the Arbiter’s news portended.  Like Kazic, she agreed that the Vhal’Dan should practice vigilance but was absolutely against Anson’s requirement to forego personal freedoms for “the good of the Vhal’Dan Order.”  Pursing her lips, Saani thought that such was the intention of many a despot.  And while she did love Anson like the brother that Kazic considered him to be, she hoped that the Arbiter would not stray down such a slippery slope…

Regardless, she was her husband’s biggest supporter and he hers.  They would not allow the Vhal’Dan to fall into such a state.  And she would not allow anyone to come to take Ari.  Not Anson.  Not Arkady.  No one.

No one.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 09, 2018, 09:58:06 AM
An intuitive young lady, strong in the Force, child-like, pure, bonding to love and compassion, while others within the Val'dan seem to be sinking in a mire of insular paranoia.  It may be though, that Arnor's mind is making the connection between Aresaea and the Aethans who wrought such destruction of Coruscant, though it seems that a bit of both is nearer the truth.  And words enigmatic from a poet long passed, so we presume, that seem to confound, but yet ring like echoes of beloved Romeo, and his Juliet...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 09, 2018, 10:53:41 AM
Nice touch, I love the way we can learn about these folks through Aresaea's eyes.  But I cannot help feel that she's going to end up being the center of this.  The catalyst or trigger...

:-/


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 09, 2018, 01:20:30 PM
Another great chapter. Well done. I'm not sure that I am okay with the black stone being called a p'Lan'Tr. It is too similar the Tolkien's Palantir stones. But other than that, a very well written chapter. It is always good to see a bit of history and culture mixed in with the rest of the story.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 09, 2018, 02:08:10 PM
Great  chapter...lots of insight into the character s especially Saani she want to share the kalikori but still finds it so painful..she probably went a bit to soon in her own excitement. Anson too..he has some legitimate reason for concern if a girl is teaching a 300 year old anzat how to use a device...and We...she's very much the outside influences that is dragging some issues within the Vhal Dan into the light..as Karm said a catalyst albeit unwittingly. Loved the offhanded you should've joined the Sons!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 15, 2018, 02:58:47 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/h1zNQH/Quinlan_Vos_01.jpg) (https://ibb.co/h1zNQH) (https://thumb.ibb.co/jr6rKc/Volfe.jpg) (https://ibb.co/jr6rKc)
Chapter 5: Flashpoint

“Good Ari, good!”  Saani’s voice was encouraging as she watched the teenager block several swift attacks from Kazic’s teidowan, Kasah Fayar.  Smiling at the compliment, Aresaea blew a lock of her red hair out of her face, her practice saber at the ready.  She had donned a variant of the same practice tunics that the other Vhal’Dan teidowans wore.  And anyone looking would think that she was just that.

But as Kazic knew so well, such looks could be deceiving.

“Now Kasah, how do you best an opponent who is stronger than you; worse, expectant and fully prepared?”  Kazic softly asked from behind the short young woman, his arms crossed casually.  Intently, his red eyes scrutinized the two as they slowly circled one another.

Careless of her long, blonde hair that had fallen from her hairclip, Kasah’s eyes were intent on Aresaea, both young women with sabers at the ready.  And if there was a centimeter of difference in height between the two, it would take a more discerning eye than Kazic’s to notice.  But the Anzati master knew that Ari was several kilograms heavier, despite her looks and—more importantly—she was exponentially stronger in the Force than Kasah.  In fact, with the exceptions of Saani and Kazic himself, Ari was the strongest Force-user in the entire building, and by quite a fair margin.

But strength did not necessarily translate to skill; Kasah took Kazic’s rhetoric to heart.  In a flurry of motion, the blonde teidowan swung several precision attacks, testing, probing, always searching for an opening.  And Ari was good, very good: her defense had vastly improved over the months, her green practice blade seemingly impenetrable.  And Ari never needed to be shown anything twice before she absorbed it.  But Kasah was adept; she’d been practicing for far longer and such experience was its own capital in a duel such as this one.  The two locked their sabers, neither gaining advantage at first, but Kazic knew that—given time—Ari would emerge the victor in such a contest.  Kasah must have surmised that as well for she quickly disengaged, putting a full saber-length between her and Ari before she attacked again.

Even as Ari defended, she began to fall into a pattern…one orchestrated by Kasah’s saberwork.  And although the opening was miniscule, to a proficient saber practitioner it was an invitation.  Kasah’s sudden riposte was lightning-quick, stabbing in the center of the opening, the practice blade connected to Ari’s exposed ribs on her left side, the red-haired girl flinching from the mild shock of the blade.

Clapping echoed throughout the salle as many of the students and instructors had been watching, impressed by both of the girls’ swordplay.  Kasah went up to Ari, both smiling as they congratulated one another.  Saani put a hand on both of their shoulders.  “Kasah, excellent saberwork!  I can see that Master Kazic has been training you hard.  And Ari: it’s amazing how much you’ve improved!” Saani’s smile split her face as she complimented both of them.  Turning her head, she saw that Kazic was approaching, lightsaber in hand.

“Kasah, I am proud of you.  I want for you to try your hand with Koawan Teke Ando; see if you can’t teach him a lesson in Makashi.”  Nodding to Ari in farewell, Kasah gave a soft “Yes, master” before squaring off with the taller koawan.  Addressing Aresaea, Kazic said, “Ari, I know how quickly you learn but I would like for you to get used to an opponent who does not follow patterns.”  Slowly stretching his arms, Kazic ignited his practice saber, performing a few easy practice swings before adopting a low, modified, Iron Horse stance.  Used to Kazic’s proactive methods, Ari walked towards the center of the circle, the snap-hiss of her lightsaber prefacing her kata as she settled into readiness.  Smiling, the Anzati master…moved.

With speed belying his size, Kazic opened with a savage overhead blow, switching at the last moment with a cut towards Aresaea’s neck.  Adroitly, the girl deflected, intent on following through with her own attack.  But before she could reposte, Kazic’s blade was scything towards her again, his movements so quick that even with the aether she had to focus.  She could hear his words: that he would not follow patterns.  As she was surrounded by the aether, Kazic’s rapid attack seeming to slow as her senses compensated as a result.

However, Kazic’s master swordplay was still pressing her regardless.  His saber seemed to be in multiple places at once; attacking high, low, then a quick up-chop that he followed with a brutal overhead slice.  On several occasions, he’d try to trap her blade against her, almost succeeding twice as he maneuvered towards her flanks as he momentarily locked blades, only to flow into another attack, his strikes always deliberate, powerful, and none the same.

And still Kazic moved.

Ari noticed that with every other opponent that she’d faced, they would eventually tire, fatigue beginning to impair their performance.  But Kazic had not tired; he didn’t even seem to be winded.  She knew that she couldn’t outlast him so she must…how had Saani put it?  “Make the opportunity.”  Yes, that was it.  Saani had told her before that if the occasion did not present itself, then one must make it so.

Ari would “make her opportunity.”

Kazic’s assault was relentless, his offense merciless, his technique impeccable.  But Ari thought that she could almost see an opening.  Plus…and she knew that she wasn’t supposed to know this but…she knew of a trick that she’d seen the Guardians do.  Before she went to exploit Kazic’s apparent flaw, she focused the aether to push against—into—Kazic’s mind.

That did something; Kazic’s red eyes squinted, his flow momentarily interrupted.  And in that interim, Ari struck.  Her green blade pulsed, her aim both strong and true.  Expectantly, she started to smile, her practice saber stabbing directly at the Anzati master’s thorax.

Somehow, suddenly, she was facedown on the floor, her back and shoulders stinging.  It took a moment for Ari to realize that Kazic had somehow shifted, completely avoiding her thrust while pivoting and then striking her below her shoulders.  Even before she moved to rise, Saani was beside her.

“Ari!  Are you ok?” The Twi’lek’s voice was full of concern tinged with worry.  As she was helped to her feet, Saani started to rub her back while her Force Healing flowed into Ari.

Almost in unison with his wife, Kazic closed down the practice saber, asking, “Ari, are you hurt?  I’m sorry, I had not intended to use my full speed.”  His gray brow furrowed in apprehension, his own big hand on her other shoulder, gently rubbing Ari as his voice became gentle.  “I…had not expected that, Ari.  I apologize.”  Suddenly, a wry grin started spreading across his face and Kazic looked at Aresaea from underneath his brow.  “…I guess that we both received lessons in the unexpected.”  

Ari reflexively Delved the Anzati Gray Master, feeling his sincerity in the aether, as well as his embarrassment in accidentally hurting her.  She could feel his self-reproach as his worry for her grew as she remained silent.  “I’m ok Saani,” Ari told the Twi’lek first—as was proper—quickly followed by, “I’m not hurt Kazic.”  Echoing the truth in her words, she filled the aether with her earnestness, projecting her well being into Saani and Kazic’s minds.

Looking around, Ari stopped, abruptly noticing that instead of only Saani and Kazic, she’d accidently included everyone within the salle.  Every single Gray Jedi was staring at her, some amazed, others fearful, all astonished.  Except one.

Anson stood in the doorway, his muscular arms crossed in front of his chest.  The look on his face was that of a judge…or an executioner.  As his brown eyes assayed the scene before him, Anson’s gaze settled upon Kazic and Ari.  Once Anson began walking towards them, quiet talking resumed but they all drew away from Kazic, Saani, and Ari, creating a conspicuous void around them.

Saani grabbed Ari gently, holding her protectively while Kazic stood straight.  As Anson stood before the Anzati Master, the air between them felt electric, both men staring impassively at one another.  When Ari looked into Saani’s face, she saw a woman in control.  But in the aether…

…Ari could feel the aether around Saani…roiling, like a wave cresting, an instant before crashing down.  With Kazic it was different; he had enveloped himself in the aether as if wading into a raging river…but the waters around him were suddenly…tranquil.  But Anson…Anson’s presence in the aether was the most troublesome.

The human Arbiter was at the center of a cyclone, the calm eye contradicting the raging storm around him.  But most remarkably, Anson was incredibly strong in the aether.  Not as strong as a Guardian, but he was stronger than either Saani and Kazic…

But all of this was in the aether; to everyone else, the ambience of the salle was calm, almost idyllic.  “So…” Anson’s steady voice filled the silence surrounding the four of them as he slowly doffed his light gray robes, exposing his sleeveless tunic and tanned skin.  “Aresaea, I see that Kazic and Saani are teaching you saber techniques.”  He walked over to where Saani and Ari were standing, stopping just short of them.  “And I hear that you’re a quick learner.”  His smile didn’t reach his eyes.  “Much like Kazic.  But even an old dog can learn new tricks, eh?  You clearly surprised him whatever you did…”  His gaze never once wavered from the girl’s aqua eyes and she could sense that he knew more than he let on.

The Arbiter was not a particularly tall man yet he seemed to loom over all present, including Kazic.  And while he wasn’t threatening, he was certainly intimidating.

Quietly, Ari spoke.  “…I…I tried an ae…a Force Thorn.”  Normally she was not timid.  But the look on Anson’s face and his aura in the aether…she’d seen the same emanating from a Guardian before.  This was a dangerous man.

Anson did not so much as blink.  “A…Force Thorn you say?  How interesting.  How does it work, Aresaea?”  Stiff-backed, the Arbiter’s voice was almost gentle, but Ari thought she could detect a hint of condescension.  She felt Saani grab her hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze.  It helped.  Somewhat.

“It…pierces into someone’s mind and if they can use the…Force, it ‘bleeds’ it off, weakening them.”  She saw the look in Kazic’s eyes and mistook it for anger at her.  “It’s only temporary with no lasting harm; it would’ve just…distracted(?)…I think that’s the right word…”  She trailed off as she realized that Kazic wasn’t directing his ire at her…

He was angry at Anson.

Ari didn’t know how either Anson or Kazic could stand so calmly under the withering gaze that each man was giving the other, but she was glad that she didn’t have to talk anymore about the Aetheric Thorn; she had been all but forgotten by Anson.

“As I said: interesting.  So Kaz…how about a sparring session between you and me?  It’s been far too long, don’t you think?”  The Arbiter chuckled but there was no humor in the sound or in his brown eyes.  “What do you say?”  But even as the last word left his lips, Anson was moving towards the center of one of the training areas.

Sighing, Kazic followed, his practice saber in hand until he stopped directly opposite Anson.  Both men were completely silent, performing a few practice swings while everyone stood staring.  These two were among the best swordsmen to grace the Vhal’Dan in a long time.  They both looked almost bored as they settled on their respective spots until suddenly they both just…stopped.

Then, as if lightning had struck, the two men attacked simultaneously.  Each combatant was lost in a burst of motion, the blades of their lightsabers casting both illumination and shadows across the crowd, across their faces.  Anson’s green-white blade and Kazic’s blue-white blade moved faster than anything that Ari had ever seen since Home.  Watching these two, she was sure that they could give the Guardian a good fight, perhaps even a draw.  Perhaps…

Smiling, Anson’s face looked predatory.  Instead of the normal swordplay that everyone else had been practicing, Anson and Kazic were locked in a tactical lightsaber bout, both attempting to gain advantage, neither achieving it.  Strike, parry, riposte; feint, lunge, disengage.  And all the while, they would occasionally throw or deflect a Force Push but to little effect as they were both so closely matched.

Flowing from his defensive position, Kazic suddenly and quickly began a quick succession of rapid attacks, even connecting with a leg sweep that took Anson down to the mat.  Immediately kicking up back onto his feet, Anson’s own offense stalled and was suddenly hard-pressed against Kazic’s onslaught.  On three occasions Ari thought that Kazic had the Arbiter for sure…only to have the human parry, finally stopping Kazic’s attack.  

Anson was no longer smiling.  In fact, he was no longer calm but instead had a dogged bent upon his face, his single-minded intent focused to a razor’s edge.  Around each other they circled, trading strikes, blocks, and Force attacks.  And still neither man seemed to pull ahead.  And as they locked their sabers, Anson took a step forward, his face bare centimeters from Kazic’s.

Suddenly, Kazic blinked, a howling sound following.  Involuntarily, the Anzati Master grabbed his head while he desperately kept his other hand upon his saber.  Attacking with renewed vigor, Anson’s saberwork became less refined and more brutal.  Hammering at Kazic’s defenses, the human Arbiter knocked his lightsaber high and wide.  Everyone, including the Arbiter, thought that Anson had won.  But as he tried to exploit the opening that he’d caused, Anson got yet another surprise: intent on a “killing blow” Anson’s blade stopped suddenly, Kazic’s parry barely intercepting the Arbiter’s.  The look of pure astonishment on Anson’s face served only to remind the human just whom he faced.  Gritting his teeth with conviction, Anson’s offensive went from brutal to savage.

It was testament to Kazic’s swordsmanship that he was able to hold Anson off as long as he did but soon the metaphysical attack that Anson had employed was taking its toll: Kazic failed to follow up on an advantageous move, so focused was he on his own defense.  But, in the end, it was ultimately futile.

Again locking sabers, Anson’s right fist quickly jabbed out, taking Kazic on his chin.  Now completely stunned, the Anzati Master faltered, leaving himself completely open to the Arbiter’s sudden Force Push.  Hitting him square on, Kazic flew backwards, crashing into the far wall with a bone-jarring crunch.  “Kazic!”  Saani’s yell echoed through the salle as she ran up to her dazed husband.  Everyone else, including Ari, stood astonished.  As she administered weaves of Force Healing, Saani turned her head towards Anson, a scowl on her face.  “Are you insane?  What’s wrong with you Anson?!”

Even in the face of her accusation, Anson shrugged it off.  Slowly retrieving his robes, he stopped briefly in front of Ari.  “I told you: even an old dog can learn new tricks.  Thank you, Aresaea.  Your instruction has been most educational.  You truly are the teacher that Kazic considers you.”  And with that, Anson left the salle without a backwards glance.

Slowly, Kazic regained his feet.  Thanks to his wife’s Healing—and his own Anzati physiology—his injuries were considerably less than they would normally be.  Saani laid a gentle hand upon her husband’s cheek, love and worry radiating from her blue face.  “K’ompo, are you OK?”  The fact that she’d used the Twi’leki masculine term of endearment in public was proof that Saani was well and truly agitated.  

“…Yes, Kanp’a…” Kazic nodded painfully, smiling down into his wife’s purple eyes.  Then his gaze shifted, focusing on the girl behind Saani.  

“Ari?  What’s wrong?”  Kazic sank to one knee so that he was virtually level with the girl’s eyes.  Still slightly unsteady, the Anzati Master rested one elbow upon his bent knee.

Her aqua eyes wet with unshed tears, Ari was silent.  But as soon as Saani came and wrapped her arms around her shoulders, Ari began to cry.  While tears ran down her cheeks she did not sob, making no noise aside from her breathing.  “I…I’m sorry Kazic.  I…I didn’t know that he’d seen, that he would…do that… I just…just wanted to…”  Ari’s voice trailed off as she bent her head, large tears dropping to the floor.

Aside from the diminishing pain, Kazic’s face was full with sympathy.  “Ari…” His finger tenderly cupped her chin, raising her eyes so that he could look directly into them.  “You have nothing to apologize for.  You did nothing to be ashamed of; not now and not since you’ve been with Saani and I.”  The Anzat had a kindly look about him, his demeanor patient.  “Do not ever blame yourself for someone else’s actions.  You did nothing wrong.”

As Ari looked into Kazic’s eyes, he could feel the tentative touch with the Force on his mind.  With a quiet breath, Kazic opened himself to Ari’s Delve, her face beginning to relax as a result.  Saani tenderly rubbed the girl’s back, both as encouragement as well as comfort.  Feeling Ari withdraw the Force, Kazic saw that she was smiling contentedly.

“…Thank you Kazic…” Ari’s voice sounded small.

Getting to his feet, Kazic gathered Saani and Ari to him.  He was still angry at Anson, even if he didn’t show it, nor had he focused on that when Ari had Delved him.  But he knew that things could not be the same between them.  The Arbiter had crossed one line too many for him to dismiss what had occurred.  Next time, Kazic would be ready, or so he told himself.  Looking at his wife and then to Aresaea, his anger was soon replaced by contentment.

“Let’s go home.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 15, 2018, 03:35:07 PM
Anson, so set on force of arms, shows how much he is driving himself into dark, muddied waters, and like the top dog in a street gang, takes the facade of a friendly sparring match to the level of demonstration of his power, prowess.  All the while, poor Ari, who was only trying to impress the man who is clearly a father figure, now feels the sting of having her trick used to devastating effect on one she cares about.  Will the civil war come from Anson sparking it directly, or will he push the young Aethan to protect her new found family, and draw the line of division for him...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 15, 2018, 06:43:49 PM
A good training sequence until Anson made it something more...he is very on edge one would think he could talk it out with his friend KAzic...yet their opposing view points from the prior chapters are becoming chasms rather than helpful differences in eprspective...will be interesting to see where the other Vhal dan are at after witnessing that...how long till Kage Arkady brings them into beat them back into co-operation....unless of course he ignores it which could be worse....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 16, 2018, 07:00:53 AM
Interesting.  Anson sees Ari as a danger, because of her knowledge and abilities.  So he sets out to take the "force thorn" (bravo on that one, Dutchman!) and applied it full force to Kazic.  I believe he was trying to make a point.  But the point I see is not that Ari is dangerous, but that Anson is. 

Knowledge and skill are not dangerous in themselves.  It is the application of skill - or misapplication - that causes danger.

And so the event horizon is crossed and the slide down the slippery slope begins...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 16, 2018, 08:39:18 AM
I'm so glad that all of you hit upon that fact: Anson IS intransigent BUT for a darned good reason; I also want to show that he's a true believer (more on that later).  Illyiss...apropos sentiments (as always  :)) in eloquence!  LSG: nice call about Arkady; you are, of course, right  ;)

And thanks Karm!  Glad you liked the Aetheric/Force Thorn; I really wanted to showcase such skills and the fact that Anson could pick them up with a single viewing as testament to his skill...and the fact that, as you say, it's a slippery slope that he's now rushing headlong to...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 20, 2018, 04:25:18 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/mkuN0H/screenshot_swtor_coruscant_by_liantefuinion_d517kdc.jpg) (https://ibb.co/mkuN0H)

Chapter 6: Chasms, Creations, and Concerns

“And just what in the blue hells was that about?” Arkady’s gruff, irate voice was incongruous with his stately manner; such an outburst was a rarity for the Kage as he seldom lost his temper.  “For the Maker’s sake, more than half of the koawans and ALL of the teidowans are talking about the duel between the Arbiter and the First Speaker.”  The small man rose from his chair grabbing a datapad as he rounded his desk.  “Someone even recorded the session complete with commentary, copying As It Happens…  This is NOT fodder for some Coruscanti Holowitter feed!”  Arkady virtually yelled the last sentence, his normally serene aura completely dispelled as he practically shoved the datapad in each man’s face.

Standing in front of the short, bald man were Anson and Kazic, both towering over their Kage but seemingly smaller as a result of his chastisement.  Standing rigidly at attention, neither man said anything.  Arkady stared straight into both of their eyes.  Slowly, his blue eyes relaxed as he regained his composure.  “Gentlemen…I know that these are trying times, especially after what Anson delivered us from Coruscant.  And we’ve had differing opinions on how best to proceed.  Our Congress has spoken, the vote tallied, recognized, and so entered.”  His eyes became raptor-like.  “But we must not let this divide us, much less cause us to devolve into a spectacle.”

Arkady sighed.  “Our vigilance has made headway: our system is secure with almost a half-dozen Golan 2s at the hyperlane terminus.  Global defenses for Galtea, Lus’phor, and Nux’x have all been upgraded, including their planetary shields.”  The Kage named the three habitable planets of the system, all within easy reach even under sub-light velocities.  “Our battlemasters and Force-sages are hard at work with new techniques, including battle-melds for our Jedi.  Perhaps most notable, is that our Armorers have developed a new nano-tech, carbon-fiber armor weave that is similar to beskar but much more practical, cost-wise.”  The Kage looked at both men, not speaking for quite some time.  “This signifies more than just a change in thought; the Vhal’Dan are organizing for war…but even now, some considerations must never be compromised.  And our honor is one of them.”

Turning his back, he returned to his place behind his desk.  “Gentlemen…that will be all.”  Arkady turned his attention to one of his other datapads, seemingly engrossed.  But as both Anson and Kazic were about to walk through, the Kage’s voice echoed from behind them.  “Anson…”  The Arbiter turned at the mention of his name, his light gray robes swaying.  “…Don’t ever presume that Kazic’s silence amounts to an admission of guilt.  Or proof that I won’t know who is the responsible party.”  Arkady had not looked up once from the datapad he was studying.

Walking smaller, Anson turned and exited, pacing ahead of Kazic as both men left the Hall of Balance.  Kazic called out to him, but Anson kept walking, leaving the Anzati Master calling after his retreating shadow.  As he stood unmoving, his almost-black robes casting its own shadow in the morning sun, the Anzati Master’s mind kept going back to a thought that he’d been pondering for some time.  Shaking his head, Kazic strode towards the monorails, hoping to speak to Jorol…

            <<<<< >>>>>

“Now, gently slide the crystal into the housing.  Careful, you don’t want the kyber crystal to touch the focusing activator.  Good, Ari, good…”  Saani’s soft voice patiently directed as Ari sat cross-legged on the floor of the conservatory.  In front of her, the lightsaber components floated individually from the assembled pieces, demonstrative of Ari’s precision in the Force.  Sitting across from her, Saani’s face reflected her reassuring smile.  The Twi’lek woman was also sitting comfortably on the floor, amazed by Ari’s nascent skill at lightsaber construction.  Both women looked determined and poised.

Her aqua eyes keenly focused, Ari fabricated the three parts separately—emitter, furnace, and hilt—simultaneously, her face placid and calm.  Then, spinning in unison, the three sections came together, fusing together and coming to rest on Ari’s upraised palm.  With a final inspection using her eyes—and the aether—the girl resolutely ignited the completed saber.

The brilliant amethyst blade burst to life, extending from the emitter a full meter.  Rising, Ari adroitly swung the weapon, getting used to the heft and balance, as she went through some of the katas for practice.  The purple blade was an extension of her arm, of her will.  It was perfect.

“Wonderful Ari!  I can’t believe that this is your first attempt at lightsaber construction!”  The taller Twi’lek woman rubbed the girl’s shoulder encouragingly, smiling down at her ward.  “Ari, may I please see it?”

Without hesitation, Ari closed down the weapon, handing it over to Saani, her own face beaming.  “I…I’m glad that you like it Saani.  When you suggested that I tried building my own lightsaber, I was…eager to do so.”  Looking down, some of her red hair fell out of place.

“Well…this is just…amazing, Ari.  I am very proud of you.”  Saani’s face exuded joy as she examined the saber.  Suddenly smiling fondly, Saani looked intently into Ari’s eyes.  “Ari…this construction looks very similar to my lightsaber.”  She left the unasked question to linger.

Almost bashful, Ari lowered her head.  “I…I wanted to honor you for taking me into your house, for teaching me here on Galtea…”  Again, the girl got uncharacteristically quiet.

Saani’s face could not look more pleased.  “Oh Ari…it’s been both a pleasure and a blessing to have you here as mine and Kazic’s family.”  She wrapped her arms around the girl hugging her close.  When she withdrew, Saani could tell that the girl was preoccupied.  “Ari, what is it?”

Ari didn’t speak at first, stepping away from Saani.  “I…I have a surprise.  Let-me-go-get-it!”  She said, combining her words again as she tended to do when she was excited, or preoccupied.  Saani stood in the conservatory, both slightly amused and curious.  She wondered what “surprise” Ari had in store…

She didn’t have to wait long.  Ari returned from her rooms on the second floor, fresh and calm despite having run the entire way and back.  But when she stopped in front of Saani, she seemed suddenly tentative, her arm behind her as if hiding something in her hand.  “Saani, I…well, I…”  She coughed, starting over.  “I know that you said that you and Kazic couldn’t have children.  That…that was one of the reasons that I wanted to talk to your gods.  And even though I didn’t get an answer, I thought that…maybe, that I could help…”  Slowly, Ari moved her arm from behind her back, offering the item in her hand to Saani as she did so.

It was a medallion, 5 centimeters in diameter.  Amazingly, it had been seemingly carved out of chiilak wood, notoriously hard and displaying a gorgeous panoply of different colored strata, deep espresso browns, light grays, rich blues, and vibrant purples.  And impressed in low relief within the wood was the image of a naked feminine figure with a bulging belly holding some roses as well as a bird that looked as if it had alighted upon her finger.  As Saani gazed at it, she couldn’t be certain if the figure’s eyes were purple or blue, changing from one moment to the next.

“…Well, I thought that if the gods on Galtea can't help you have babies then…maybe mine can." Ari added hopefully.  When Saani said nothing, Ari quickly continued.  “See Saani?  Its…its Aephrodaea.  The Mother.  She…she looks after all women, not just mothers… Saani?”  Ari’s voice was concerned upon seeing tears flow down the Twi’lek woman’s face.

Speechless, Saani stared down at the medallion, tenderly running her fingers across the striated wood, the incredibly lifelike tableau frozen in perfection.  Saani raised her eyes, looking deep into Ari’s.  The girl’s face looked perplexed and slightly anxious.  “…Saani?”

Without warning, Saani enveloped the girl in her arms, drawing Ari to her in a fierce hug.  Exultant, weeping, grateful, sentimental; Saani sobbed while she laughed, embracing Ari as she said a silent prayer of thanks to the Maker…

            <<<<< >>>>>

After chiming the door, Kazic had only to wait a moment before it opened.  Greeting him was one of the largest humans he’d ever seen.  Smiling, Kazic stepped into an enfolding hug from the man as his host invited him in.  “Tsarvung!  It’s good to see you.  How’s the University?”  Falling in beside the human, Kazic unconsciously adjusted his gait to match the taller man’s.

Tsarvung Xot-Qui, Chair of Antiquities at the University of Vhal’Uhladv was one of the most accomplished scientists on Galtea.  While not a Jedi, he was associated with the Vhal’Dan: it was his department that had volunteered to assist in the cataloguing and research of the Force-related artifacts that the Order came across and needed help with.  He’d also fought alongside Kazic and Saani in the battles of the Horos Spine Incident on Andoa, both men saving each other’s lives on more than one occasion.  It was also where Tsarvung met his future husband, then Koawan—later Maenowan—Jorol Qui.  

The two married shortly thereafter, moving to Galtea where they both went to work for the Anthropology Department at the “U of V.”  Within a very short time, they had children, all three of which—Kazic affectionately admitted—were the very example of “wonder kids.”  That was one of the main reasons that Kazic and Saani had asked Tsarvung and Jorol if they would help to look after Ari.  That, and if Kazic had to choose any relationship (outside his own) that was beyond reproach, it was Tsarvung and Jorol’s marriage.

Entering into the expansive living room, the telescoping outer transparisteel wall open to outside, the panorama a gorgeous sunset within the sky.  Outside the view, Kazic could see some of the newer buildings under construction, several near one of the entrances to the Stryka Annix Botanical Gardens.  Sitting together with his two daughters, Syrena and D’arial, Jorol was helping the young teenager girls with their multivariable calculus.  Looking up, the dusky-faced maenowan smiled warmly.  “Kazic!  To what do I owe the surprise, my friend?”  Before the Anzati Master could answer, Jorol spoke gently to his daughters.  “D, Sy, continue with your multiple integrations.  I must talk to the First Speaker.”  Briefly kissing them both on their heads, he moved from the table to join his husband in his open bar.

Tsarvung handed Jorol a cup of steaming liquid, kissing his husband as he handed Kazic his hot chocolate.  Smiling his thanks to Tsarvung, Kazic addressed Jorol.  “Where is Arnis?” Kazic asked after their son.

Both men looked at one another smiling.  “He is visiting Stryka Annix as a ‘junior member’ of the archaeological fellows.”  Tsarvung said, beaming.  

Jorol rubbed Tsarvung’s back, adding, “We’re positively ecstatic!  Arnis possibly taking after Tsar?  I couldn’t be happier.”  Jorol had even told Saani years ago that their son had more than a passing interest in anthropology.  As soon as the Vhal’Dan Youth League had tested Arnis, he’d already qualified for placement in Extracurriculars.

“Incredible…” Kazic mused.  “Congratulations, to you both.  And I heard about D’arial and Syrena; both accepted as teidowans!  To whom are they apprenticed?”  Kazic smoothed his topknot unconsciously.

Jorol barked a laugh.  “Maenowan El’kar Sanhga and Koawan Xian Teroalaas.  I think they might be in trouble, especially El’Kar; she’s apprenticed D’arial.”  The men all glanced knowingly at the black-haired girl; she was particularly headstrong but also incredibly gifted in the Force.  And while she was obstinate with almost everyone else, she would always obey Jorol, no matter how soft spoken and pleasant he was.  Kazic shook his head; he could only hope to be as good a father figure as both of his friends.  Speaking of which…

“Jorol, Tsar, I wanted to ask you some advice of the paternal persuasion.”  Both men suddenly sobered, attentive and silent.  “As you know, Ari’s been with us for some time and I…well, I wanted to host her a celebration.  Now, I’ve asked about her Life-Day and she claims that her people are…well, just not that interested in such.”  He hid a private smile, thinking of Ari’s absolute belief in rebirth, somewhat…nullifying celebrating one’s Life-Day as a (and he remembered well her solemn intonation) “…limited way of thinking of existence…” Still, Kazic had spoken to Saani and they’d agreed that they should throw Ari some kind of party.

After listening to both men exchange a number of ideas—all good, Kazic had to admit—the Anzati Master was quiet for some time, stroking his beard and mustache.  It was Jorol who noticed first.  “…But that’s not really what’s bothering you, is it?”  Smiling sympathetically, the dark maenowan went over to Kazic, putting his hand upon his shoulder.  “Kazic…what’s this really about?”

Kazic smiled sardonically.  “Am I that transparent?” He had a gleem in his red eyes.

Jorol gave his husband a knowing look before answering.  “No, no…but, well…Ari herself noticed that you were…distracted.  ‘Perplexed’ I believe was the exact word that she used…”  His dark eyes were consolatory.  “Now: what’s this really about my friend?”

Kazic looked to both of his friends before answering, still stroking his beard.  “…I am worried—especially worried—for Saani and Ari and that…well someone will come looking for Ari.”  He knew that they considered the other “family” and knew that chances were that one or, more likely, both would be hurt by separation.

But Kazic was at a complete loss as to what he should (or even could) do.  It was Tsarung that spoke next.

“Ari’s been with us for…what, about a year?”  Saying nothing, Kazic nodded his head.  “In that time, I know that you’ve searched, even though you didn’t really don’t know what you were looking for… Kazic, in all of that time, have you seen, heard, or saw anything related to Ari or her people?”

Kazic slowly shook his head.  “Nothing.  Maker knows I’ve looked…but…”  He sighed, looking both men in their eyes.  “…I sometimes wonder if I really—really—tried.  I don’t need to tell you both what a wonder it’s been to have Ari in our house.  To see Saani around the girl is reward enough for me…”  Kazic lowered his head, ashamed.  “…And perhaps that’s the problem.  How hard have I looked?  I’d given anything…everything(!), to see Saani happy.  And having Ari with us…”  Closing his eyes, Kazic let his despondency wash over him; he’d finally vocalized what he’d whispered to himself for all this time.  He worried that he’d not been honest to himself.

Worse: honest to Ari and Saani.

Feeling hands upon both his shoulders, he glanced up seeing sympathy in both of his friends’ eyes.  This time, Jorol did the talking.  “My friend, you’ve given Ari something that she herself did not have and yet desperately needed: a home.  Better still, Saani has shared in that gift, no matter what the rewards are towards you both, your motives were—and are—more than laudable.  Those are not the actions of a selfish person.”  Jorol’s smile helped to bouy Kazic.  “Maybe Ari’s people come for her tomorrow, maybe in a year, maybe never.  Regardless, Saani, Ari, and you belong together.  At least for whatever time you have.”

Jorol put his arm around his husband, leaning upon him.  “Kazic, Tsar and I know that all good parents raise their children to leave them.  Such is life but how beautiful it can be!”  Jorol’s dark eyes pierced right into Kazic’s.  “My friend…despite whatever you fear, you and Saani have been doing precisely that.  And—Maker be praised!—it has been done well.”  Laughing his contagious laugh, all three men soon joined in, the goodwill permeating the house and those within…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As he waited for the holovid to establish a connection, Anson still wasn’t sure about how he felt.  Arkady was right to castigate him, he should not have acted so impetuously but, admittedly, he was still worried about whatever had happened on Coruscant, even all these weeks later.  But he knew that the Kage was wrong: the so-called “defensive measures” that the Order had adopted amounted to nothing more than half-measures.  Then, before he could pull on that particular thread, a beautiful visage appeared before him via the holoprojector.  For the first time in weeks, Anson smiled happily.  “Lee!  It’s so good to see you.”

The Mak’Tor Kage smiled.  “Arbiter…of course you would know when I’m off-planet.”  Her face suddenly relaxed as she looked fondly at him.  “Anson, how are you, my dear?  I’ve missed you.”  Her lavender eyes were bright, reflective of her affectionate smile.  “You’ve been too long away from M’Tzigon.”

Anson’s smile became bittersweet.  “…I know, Lee.  I’m sorry but given everything that I learned from Coruscant, I’ve been trying to fortify Vhal’Dan…space…”  He trailed off, noticing the peculiar look that Li’I’Mack had on her face.  “…What is it, Lee?”

“…I admit that I have no verification—yet—but…well, rumors have spread along the hyperlanes…”  The Mak’Tor Kage’s purple eyes were intense, even in the holofeed.

“…Please tell me, Lee.”  Anson’s voice was firm, resolute.  Unconsciously, the corded muscles in his arms began to flex, his jowls rippled as he clenched his teeth.

Li’I’Mack’s face looked haunted as if she were recalling a personal horror.  Which she was.  “Anson…it concerns Grand Master Kimar and the Jedi Temple…”

And as they talked throughout the Galtean night, Anson knew that he would have to get ahold of his agent on Coruscant, Master Jorl’Taf.  And he knew—knew—that he was right.

This is what he needed to save the Vhal’Dan…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 20, 2018, 06:11:17 PM
Ouch Anson got taken to task….hopefully he sees the irony that being so belligerent is not saving the Vhal Dan but dividing them when they need unity the most.  The shockwaves of other galactic events are starting to hit Galtea… Loved the description of Anson in that moment “Unconsciously, the corded muscles in his arms began to flex, his jowls rippled as he clenched his teeth”  this is a man on edge, his senses absolutely primed for any threat...this has its advantages…but it could also leave him too primed up and open to interpreting ambivalent stimuli as threatening.

”Ari’s absolute belief in rebirth” might not quite be rebirth of the type Kazic imagines…more akin to…Resurrection…like her little medallion her Goddesses are much more visceral in the way they operate than he/Saani probably appreciate…

In turn Ari is very much becoming the daughter Saani and Kazic never had…to both their joy and their pain which was beautifully shown in this chapter – I can imagine building a sabre is something Saani would’ve wanted to do with her own children and KAzic worried someone will come looking for her and break them up…the flip side is Ari almost acting as a reminder of what Saani couldn’t have herself, the pain of that makes her cling more tightly to adoptive child she does have.

Lots of emotional layers here – drama doesn’t need action and explosions as you’ve clearly shown here!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 21, 2018, 09:37:08 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with LSG.  This was a great chapter with amazing character development!  I worry about Anson.  He's developing the mindset of the Zealot, and that almost never ends well - for anyone.

And he's obviously VERY close to Li'I'Mack.  Hmm.....    ;-)   Makes me wonder just how tied into this conflict the Mak'Tor may become. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 21, 2018, 11:44:20 AM
Anson, along with Kazic, called to task for the display of division, the message clear; the Kage knows who is responsible, but that he holds them both accountable for repairing this division.  Even as Kazic reaches out to his long time friend, Anson is too wrapped in his pride, his obsession, to accept the gesture.  Kazic, reaching out to friends with his own personal concerns, and is reassured, but is his concern of someone coming for his family ONLY about someone from outside doing so?  The whole order seems to be poised on the edge of fear, which unrecognized, is a perilous precipice indeed.  Meanwhile, in counterpoint, we have Ari and Saani with a touching series of moments, re-enforcing Ari's powerful connection to the Force/Aether, and the compassion she has within her.  Add to that now, that Anson is about to have the very source of his paranoia stoked, fuel and action fanning it to a fearful conflagration.  The tipping point, and leaning ever so slowly beyond it...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 21, 2018, 02:11:50 PM
Kazic, reaching out to friends with his own personal concerns, and is reassured, but is his concern of someone coming for his family ONLY about someone from outside doing so?

Very good point...it might not be someone from outside who comes for Ari....does Kazic even realize the true source of his concern....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 21, 2018, 02:17:49 PM
Very good point...it might not be someone from outside who comes for Ari....does Kazic even realize the true source of his concern....

That is my wonder as well.  I think he is worried about her people coming for her, but I think that he is missing the deeper source of his fear, or is just unwilling to admit to it, I don't think he wants to believe that anyone inside the order would want to do her harm...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 21, 2018, 02:20:24 PM
Very good point...it might not be someone from outside who comes for Ari....does Kazic even realize the true source of his concern....
That is my wonder as well.  I think he is worried about her people coming for her, but I think that he is missing the deeper source of his fear, or is just unwilling to admit to it, I don't think he wants to believe that anyone inside the order would want to do her harm...

All I can say is: you guys are good  ;)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 29, 2018, 08:07:30 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/nCMGUc/Screenshot_2012_08_01_10_53_54_774380.jpg) (https://ibb.co/nCMGUc)

Chapter 7: Impetus, Part I

They lay together in their bed, nothing but a sheet covering them both, if barely.  The autumnal night of Galtea was refreshing even against their bare skin, the portal to their bedroom adjacent balcony open.  As Kazic traced his finger up his wife’s spine and along her right lekku, he smiled at the memory of their wonderful night.  He must have unconsciously halted because Saani’s drowsy whisper interrupted his ruminations.

“…Don’t stop…” She purred, her toes flexing as she lifted her leg, the blue skin glistening in the full moonlight.  She tilted her head so as to put her other lekku within his reach.

Quietly chuckling, Kazic complied, gently stroking first one and then the other lekku.  “Kanp’a…I’ve been thinking…”  His deep voice was quiet, tender.  His hand gently massaged Saani’s lekku and shoulders.

Closing her eyes, she whispered in a contented voice, “…What’s that K’ompo…?”  Her fingers grasped the rumpled sheets, her dark blue fingernails digging into the bed.  “…Oh that’s good…”

Grinning, Kazic looked appreciatively at his wife.  “…Well Kanp’a…as I said…I think that maybe…we should formally adopt Ari…”  His smile widened considerably as his wife turned, sitting up on her elbow.

“…Wha…I mean, you’ve ‘thought’ about it?”  Saani’s voice was questioning with an undercurrent of anticipation.  If she had been lethargic before, she was completely alert now.

“It’s been foremost upon my mind, Kanp’a.  And I think that it’s best for all involved…”  Seeing Saani’s eyes widen in surprise, he noticed a…yearning underneath.  Kazic’s smile widened further, adding, “…And, let’s face it Saani…Ari is already family…”  Kazic didn’t think that his gray lips could smile any wider.

Her eyes large and full of unshed tears, Saani practically jumped into her husband’s embrace as they wrapped their arms around one another, laughing as they gently rocked back and forth atop the bed…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Even in the darkness of her rooms, Ari could see the assorted fauna that decorated her quarters.  She could feel the ambient temperature changing, decreasing slightly from a pleasant 18.9 degrees to a not uncomfortable 17.8 degrees.  She could hear the four monorails closest to the Gardens District that they lived by, including an industrial tramway carrying commodities, supplies, and munitions.  But she was only aware of this in the most vague of senses.  No, what she was focused on was what percolated through the aether around her.  Or, more specifically, from Kazic and Saani to her.

While she did not know exactly what was being said, she could easily deduce from the emotions that they were feeling—sharing—that they were discussing…her.  In and around and throughout the apartments that she had come to consider a home, one with Saani and Kazic, she felt the tides and eddies within the aether, a sensation not unlike a…warm, comfortable blanket after being left out in the cold.  No, Ari thought, shaking her head.  That’s what she would have likened it to back Home.  Now, she was much more…erudite.  It was as if she were floating in an anti-grav spa, comforting, pleasurable, wonderful.

Ari smiled one of her rare smiles.  While these Vhal’Dan could sense and utilize the aether, they weren’t really…aware of it as they should be.  As she was.  If they were…well then, they would know the absolute joy of shared adoration and how truly marvelous it could be.

Like now.

Wrapped in the warmth of Saani and Kazic’s affection—and now along with her own feelings for them—Ari felt a contentment that she’d not felt since…before she’d been taken.  No, this wasn’t Home…but it was her home, at least while Saani and Kazic were here.

Cuddling deeper in her pillows, she finally slept a deep, dreamless sleep.  She did not have to wonder what the feint sounds of the night portended.  She did not have to fear where her next meal came from.  She did not have to question “Why,” knowing that she would never be told the answer.  No longer was she plagued by the nightmares of her abduction, or the violence of the crash, or even the loneliness of Yavin.  

Not while she had Saani and Kazic.

            <<<<< >>>>>

The noontime sun of Galtea was both radiant and warming, the sunlight streaming through the transparisteel wall of the R&D Department, illuminating all of the Force artifacts that lay virtually untouched upon the sterile tabletops.  Except one table.  The sunlight was unable to penetrate the congregated bodies of scientists, administrators, and Jedi as they crowded around the table and—more importantly—the teenage girl speaking about the object upon the table.  Rapt, every single person there hung on every word, every explanation, every enigma solved.

“This was one of the specialized Corusca gems that Naga Sadow had devoted to his plans for eternal life.”  Ari’s voice resounded through the laboratory, each person in attendance completely captivated by what she was saying.  “It took him the better part of his decades-long exile on Yavin 4 but…he was finally able to devise a method of suspended animation that had no adverse affects.”  She punctuated her last sentence with holding aloft the orb in her hand.  “It was through this gem that he was able to freeze time for almost 600 years.  For all he knew, it might have worked longer—perhaps until the end of time—but he was awakened by the man who would become his second apprentice: Freedon Nadd.”

Collective whispers arose from the crowd.  Almost all of the Vhal’Dan had read about Freedon Nadd but this…well, this was new.  “Excuse me young lady but you’re saying that this…jewel is not only responsible for extending life but is—somehow—the provenance of Naga Sadow, one of the most frightful and powerful Sith Lords ever to have ruled the galaxy?!”  The incredulous voice of the sub-chair of Antiquities sounded almost flippant…if one would care to describe such a venerable and respected scholar as sounding.  Everyone turned from Aresaea to focus on the elder gentleman who challenged the girl.

Messer Subiah Fuqua had held a position within the University for over twenty-four years, 5 of which he acted in his capacity as one of the heads of the college.  And in that time, he’d written a thorough dissertation on the Yavin Massassi, publishing what would become the definitive accepted theories of the ancient Sith.  Or rather, what had been conjectured up until now.  And Aresaea’s information had all but invalidated much of his hypotheses so he was understandably upset.  As with too many people in their capacity as an “authority,” their egos were often times next to said positions.

It also didn’t help that he was one of Anson’s staunchest supporters in addition to being a powerful maenowan, although he’d never become a Gray Master; he’d never taken any apprentices nor done any teaching to teidowans.

Ari’s face did not show her dislike for the man, even though she knew that he would fight for his perspective despite being completely wrong.  “Yes, yes it is.”  Was all she said.  And, looking around the room, she could tell that almost everyone there needed only that: her word.  She knew with certainty that Saani and Kazic not only believed her but accepted her knowledge as fact.

Stupefied, Fuqua sputtered a bit before attacking from another angle.  “Young lady…how do you even claim to know this?!”  Ari thought that his eyes were beady and small.  The shaver-worms on Yavin would have feasted on them long ago if he’d gone there… Instead, she slowly inhaled and continued.

“He told me.”  The room went silent and no one moved a muscle.  If Ari thought that Fuqua’s eyes couldn’t open any wider, she was mistaken.  Unfortunately, she noticed that almost everyone in the crowd had likewise reacted.  She mentally berated herself, suddenly aware of Saani and Kazic’s alertness in the aether.  And one of Kazic’s admonitions came back to her as she now realized just what he meant: “Don’t tell people of her abilities to hear people in the aether (well, he said ‘Force’ but she nevertheless always thought of the aether first).”  

She could feel the currents of the aether change; it felt…charged wasn’t quite the right word.  Frenetic?  No, more…serious… And as Ari contemplated the fundamental shift within the room, Kazic and Saani moved beside her, gently but firmly extricating her from the center of the crowd, making apologetic sounds while they left.

“Excuse us please, sires, siras.  My wife and I have to explain some things to our ward; her command of Galactic Basic is still far from perfect.  I shall find out exactly what Aresaea intended to communicate as soon as we’re able to work through the misunderstanding.”  Kazic’s words disarmed most, giving a plausible explanation that the crowd had expected.

As they exited the building, boarding the monorail to their apartments, none of them so much as spoke.  But then, they didn’t need to: Ari had come to recognize many specific moods within the aether, at least as far as both Saani and Kazic were concerned.  Still, the ride was not exactly pleasant either.

As Kazic ushered Saani and Ari through the door, he deliberately secured the door, engaging the locks that Kazic seldom bothered with.  After a brief moment to collect himself, he joined the two women in the conservatory.

The bright Galtean sun shone beautifully through the transparisteel windows, the high clouds stark white against a blue sky that drew the eyes ever onward towards the horizon.  But Kazic only saw two things: Saani and Ari.  “Ari…you must be more careful; you cannot tell others of your talents, especially those that you and you alone possess.  Too many people would be frightened and, as such, would…lash out.  Specifically at you.”  Kazic’s patient tone was underscored by a hint of apprehension.

Saani had a comforting hand gently rubbing Ari’s back.  “Ari, Dear One, Kazic’s right.  I know that Professor Fuqua angered you but you must always be on your guard.”  Ari looked as if she were about to talk but Saani cut her off with a raised hand.  “I know that he was wrong.  And you were right.  But he is a man who takes such as a personal affront, to say nothing of the fact that he already is suspicious of you.”  Saani sat next to the girl, slowly stroking her red hair.  “Ari…there are sometimes necessary…fictions that people must deal with in regards to others, especially to people that are not…friendly.”

Ari’s face assumed a blank look, one that she normally had whenever she was absorbing new information.  “…So I must…lie…to some people?”  Saani was about to further explain herself when Kazic suddenly cut in.

“Yes.”  His tone was deadly serious.  “That’s precisely what you have to do sometimes, Ari.”  He sighed, crossing his arms.  “…Ari, let me show you exactly what I mean.”  And once again, Kazic opened his mind to her.  As she had on numerous occasions, Ari Delved him, the familiarity of doing so had become second nature.  A moment later, Ari closed her eyes, leaning against Saani.

“…I, I understand.  Thank you Saani; thank you Kazic.  I’m sorry.”  When she opened her aqua eyes, they were clear, intelligent, and full of understanding.

Saani and Kazic exchanged a patient look.  “Don’t be, Dear One.”  Saani remarked, giving Ari a hug.  But Kazic was silent, an introspective look tinged with worry upon his gray brow.  “What is it, Komp’o?  What’s on your mind?”

“Well, it’s—”  Suddenly the room’s holofeed chimed, indicative of an incoming message.  Kazic answered after a slight pause.  “Hello?”

The projected disembodied head turned to the Anzati Master.  It was Bhorja Travikx, one of Anson’s koawans.  “Excuse me, First Speaker, Second Speaker?  I’m sorry to interrupt but I must inform you that an emergency session of Congress has been called.  The Kage implores you both that you make haste to the Hall of Balance.”

Again, Saani and Kazic looked at one another, the unspoken questions put aside until afterwards.  “I understand koawan.  Speaker Saani and myself are en route and will be there shortly.”  Kazic’s business-like tone was mirrored in his entire demeanor, even as he signed off.  “Ari please excuse Saani and I.  We have government business to attend to.”

Ari nodded her understanding, at least seemingly placated from before thanks to her Delve with Kazic.  As Saani and he left their apartments towards the main hyperloop leading to the Hall of Balance, Kazic had the disturbing realization that the daen nosi had suddenly returned…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 29, 2018, 08:10:26 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/iYOX2x/Volfe_Karkko_CSWE.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iYOX2x)

Chapter 7: Impetus, Part II

Projected in the middle of the Council chambers, there were several different views showing the same event: the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.  A couple of holofeeds were shaky and unfocused, as if recorded by an amateur or from a personal device while others showed the building in crystal clarity.  One and all they’d recorded what looked like an earthquake hitting the Temple, large cracks in the duracrete running up the entire structure, right into and up through the central spire.

A quiet collective gasp resounded through the hall, seemingly loud despite that there were only nine Vhal’Dan in attendance: the Kage, the Arbiter, and the seven Speakers of the Council of Balance.  And while many faces remained impassive, some Speakers had a look of dread already cast upon them.  Seventh Speaker Sarith Tovar had a hand over her mouth while Third Speaker Pytir Danisen’s teeth were clenched so hard that the grinding could be heard throughout the entire Hall.

Then, as the holofeed continued, the Temple’s central spire lit up, an arcane purple, blue and white glow that rivaled the coming dawn in radiance.  This time there was no quiet gasp; there was outright shock as disbelieving yells echoed throughout the chamber.  For several seconds the blinding light remained, slowly dimming allowing not only the darkness of night to return but also a shadowy afterimage that was seemingly burned into the holofeed itself.  Then the image changed showing disparate views: the mass destruction, civil unrest, and millions upon millions of people panicking, not knowing where they ran to but only that they needed to escape.  The images changed again: multiple lists containing hundreds, thousands of names scrolling across the feed, a lone, shared epitaph following every single one.

“DECEASED.”

As the holofeed looped, Anson stood, not even bothering with turning the images off.  Indeed, as the light played across his face, producing shadows and harsh edges, he stood resolute, his voice filled with conviction.  “And that is not all.  There is now a definitive Force Nexus surrounding Coruscant that can be felt even as far as the Outer Rim.  But this…vergence in the Force is the most upsetting component arising from the events on Coruscant.  My agent there, Master Jorl’Taf, explicitly stated that all Force-sensitives within the area were inundated by the explosion, many of them succumbing to unconsciousness.”

Then, slowly, deliberately, he switched to a new holofeed.  This one showed a hallway from the perspective of a high mounted camera, likely security footage.  But as the seconds crept by, two figures entered the feed.  Both were wearing what appeared to be black, crystalline armor.  Even on the grainy recording, the light seemed to…dim around the armor.  But for several frames, the feed was almost crystal clear and the two figures’ faces were distinctly visible.  Anson paused the feed, manipulating the image to zoom in on the exposed faces.

They both were tall handsome men, one with light short hair, the other with a closely shaved head and stubble on his muscular jaw.  They looked similar, possessing virtually identical looks upon their faces, dangerous and deadly serious.  When Anson spoke next, his voice was calm and carried throughout the Hall.  “From the intel gathered, the taller man was identified as the ‘Sith of Cygnat.’  But that’s not the worst of it.  The other is one of Grand Master Kimar’s own: Jedi Knight Valens.  And while there are conflicting reports concerning a cohort of others supporting them, it is these two that facilitated what people are now referring to as the ‘Night of Madness.’”

Anson walked from his chair and around the semi-circle arrangement of the Speakers, looking at each in turn.  “Look at them.  They are responsible for the destruction of Coruscant, for millions of deaths, for a lasting Dark Side presence in the Force that will span decades, if not centuries!  And even if the most outlandish figure is to be believed, these two accomplished this with only a small consortium.”  Anson let that sink in.

“And they brought the Jedi to their knees.  THEY KILLED GRAND MASTER KIMAR!"  The Arbiter’s voice rang throughout the Hall.  Suddenly he adopted a pedantic pose.  “I’m reminded of the words of Kage Stryka…”  Kazic thought that Anson had been deliberate in choosing his old master to make a point but he remained silent, wondering where Anson was going with this.  “…‘A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.’”  Anson stared straight into Kazic’s red eyes.  “I can tell you now after this so-called ‘Night of Madness’ that Kage Stryka was wrong: a millions deaths are a tragedy beyond reckoning.”

Kazic’s face remained inexpressive but within he was seething.  So, that had been Anson’s intent: to undermine his master and—by extension—him.  He patiently crossed his arms, knowing that Anson had not yet finished.  “This must never happen to the Vhal’Dan.  And if this can happen to the Jedi in the very heart of their Temple on Coruscant, then it can most assuredly reach us here on Galtea!  The survival of our Order is at stake.  The time for half-measures is over!”  Kazic knew that Anson’s theatrics were intended to evoke an emotional response.  And, as he looked around at his fellow Speakers, he saw that Anson was succeeding.

Suddenly, Anson turned to Arkady, addressing the small man in the same authoritative tone he’d been using.  “Kage!  I insist that we vote again upon the measure of militarization, suspending at least some individual liberties to ensure that the Vhal’Dan are at their strongest!”  Having said that, the Arbiter sat, on his chair, his face full of conviction.

Rising, the Kage’s face was calm as was his voice when next he spoke, choosing to ignore Anson's infringement upon decorum. “The Arbiter has recalled the initiative for militarization and suspension of ‘non-critical’ liberties.  Speakers: cast your vote.”  Arkady sat, a hint of a frown upon his face.  And as every Speaker entered their vote, Kazic noticed that the only one to look at him—besides Saani—was Corvus, the Fifth Speaker.  And he knew…

Arkady stood, the ballot tallied.  “For militarization: Arbiter Anson D’Aklon, 3rd Speaker Pytir Danisen, 4th Speaker J’Nessah Raanh, 6th Speaker Auryn Kerosin’e, 7th Speaker Sarith Tovar.  Against: 1st Speaker Kazic Ovarug, 2nd Speaker Saani K’aval, 5th Speaker Corvus Watashi.”  Both Saani and Corvus’ eyes mirrored the disappointment in his own.  Kazic turned his head to Sarith.  He had to hand it to Anson; he knew that the Seventh Speaker had a cousin in the CSF and exactly what footage to show her.  …Dammit… Kazic morosely thought.  …Now I know what the daen nosi portended…

The Kage’s voice echoed throughout the Hall.  “The vote for militarization has passed.  The Vhal’Dan will make the necessary preparations Arbiter D’Aklon has proposed; please see to it, Speakers.”  Looking directly at Anson, the Kage flatly stated.  “This concludes these deliberations.”  

And while those Speakers that had voted with Anson gripped his hand in congratulations, Arkady joined Kazic, Saani, and Corvus.  The Kage spoke in hushed tones.  “…I will do what I can to blunt Anson’s initiative on certain points but…well, even I cannot go against a majority Congressional vote.”  His gruff voice sad, Arkady was about to leave when Kazic stopped him.

“It’s not your fault Arkady.  Congress has voted.  I would be a hypocrite to go against the Council only to champion the republic that serves the Vhal’Dan.  I will do all that I can to ensure that our liberties remain intact.  Our freedom is tantamount to our survival and I will not stop fighting for it.”  And while Saani, Corvus, and Arkady all agreed, Kazic knew it would not be easy.  But he believed in the system that the Vhal’Dan had put in place and he believed that he could correct what he saw as nothing more than an error in judgment caused by an emotional knee-jerk reaction.

He never could have guessed just how wrong he would be nor that the cost would be numbered in countless deaths.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 30, 2018, 04:50:37 AM
Politics...the art of the possible...and Anson D'Aklon has just made his plans very possible. This is the essence of the balance between freedom and vigilance played out, they are both right, Anson has very real evidence there is a very dangerous threat out there...yet if they lose their freedoms what are they actually protecting but their lives? Interesting that the Kage is at best lukewarm about this though.

Have to say I loved Subiah Fuqua, the academic seeing his life's work denigrated by an upstart kid who says she talked to a long dead Sith Lord...Though its an interesting question, if they did believe her what would the Vhal Dan do with the techniques she might be able to show them based on Naga Sadows work?

Anyway I have to hand it to Dutchman once again, I am truly honored for the substantial level of crossover to LotA built in here, and the almost disturbingly precise senses Ari possesses, frankly I think you do a better job on detailing some aspects of these events and characters than I did!   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on March 30, 2018, 08:03:04 AM
The Vhal'Dan have been manipulated into presiding over a court of emotion, and against all that they should know of making decisions based on emotion, while initially emotionally effected by such news, they have had their hand forced.  Anson, I wonder how long he delayed his presentation to prepare his assault, for assault it was, using the speakers' own compassion and fears as weapons against them, has cemented his order down a path I wonder if he realizes the implications.  If he does not, then he is lost and adrift in his own fear and pathos driven need to protect.  Perhaps even being manipulated himself.  If he does realize, then he has fallen, and is willingly driving the Vhal'Dan into changing, becoming a different order, irreparably effected by his machinations...

Meanwhile, Ari has just found fully the feeling of home she has missed since violence and greed descended upon her people, ripping them from their home, and one another, will have scant time to know the peace that has settled into her sleep so recently.  With her clearly advanced command of the Force (which she knows as the Aether, and more deeply, directly than any Jedi grasp), I fear will become a target, she already has potential enemies, and through that, either a point around which lines draw, or in reaction to some yet unknown event, become the catalyst, or worse, the weapon...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 30, 2018, 10:18:21 AM
Politics...the art of the possible...and Anson D'Aklon has just made his plans very possible. This is the essence of the balance between freedom and vigilance played out, they are both right, Anson has very real evidence there is a very dangerous threat out there...yet if they lose their freedoms what are they actually protecting but their lives? Interesting that the Kage is at best lukewarm about this though.

Have to say I loved Subiah Fuqua, the academic seeing his life's work denigrated by an upstart kid who says she talked to a long dead Sith Lord...Though its an interesting question, if they did believe her what would the Vhal Dan do with the techniques she might be able to show them based on Naga Sadows work?

Anyway I have to hand it to Dutchman once again, I am truly honored for the substantial level of crossover to LotA built in here, and the almost disturbingly precise senses Ari possesses, frankly I think you do a better job on detailing some aspects of these events and characters than I did!   

Ah, LSG, I think you may have hit the nail on the head.  I can easily see Anson wanting to take Ari into custody with the primary intent of delving her for as much of just this sort of information she might possess.  I am curious: What liberties are considered "non-critical"?  I suspect that list of non-essential liberties (are there any such thing?  Oy...) will end up being very important indeed...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 30, 2018, 02:16:21 PM
The Vhal'Dan have been manipulated into presiding over a court of emotion, and against all that they should know of making decisions based on emotion, while initially emotionally effected by such news, they have had their hand forced.  Anson, I wonder how long he delayed his presentation to prepare his assault, for assault it was, using the speakers' own compassion and fears as weapons against them, has cemented his order down a path I wonder if he realizes the implications.  If he does not, then he is lost and adrift in his own fear and pathos driven need to protect.  Perhaps even being manipulated himself.  If he does realize, then he has fallen, and is willingly driving the Vhal'Dan into changing, becoming a different order, irreparably effected by his machinations..

Based on Anson previous behaviour I think it's the emotional path that he is justifying rationally after feeling...the problem is the evidence is actually supporting and feeding his emotion. The road to hell is paved with good intentions...the road to repression paved with appeals to saving freedom. Having said that need to remember the others who voted with him are Gray masters capable one would hope of seeing through such emotion. Fascinating situation Dutch has created here - he should have done the politics in episode 1 !


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 30, 2018, 03:06:31 PM
Thanks guys!  I'm glad that this translates as more than just a "red vs blue" issue (or worse, setting up Anson as a Straw Antagonist).  I really wanted to show that BOTH sides have merits.  Anson is a man of passion whereas Kazic is more logic.  And they're both right...and both wrong.

Fascinating situation Dutch has created here - he should have done the politics in episode 1 !
Higher praise I could not have asked for my friend  :D.  Thank you!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 31, 2018, 11:56:55 AM
Thanks guys!  I'm glad that this translates as more than just a "red vs blue" issue (or worse, setting up Anson as a Straw Antagonist).  I really wanted to show that BOTH sides have merits.  Anson is a man of passion whereas Kazic is more logic.  And they're both right...and both wrong.

Well, you've done it masterfully.  Well done!  Its an interesting situation, and one that doesn't have a good answer.  I easily find echoes of the debates that were kicked around in 2002-2003 about the Patriot Act after 9/11.  Many of the same issues were brought out and, largely, not dealt with.  This is more urgent and therefore moving faster but the parallels are interesting.  I feel sorry for Anson, more than anyone else.  He's going to end up knowing he destroyed the very thing he was trying to save - and maybe not even really understanding why...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 31, 2018, 05:32:05 PM
I feel sorry for Anson, more than anyone else.  He's going to end up knowing he destroyed the very thing he was trying to save - and maybe not even really understanding why...

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
-Oscar Wilde the Ballad of Reading Gaol


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 31, 2018, 11:14:38 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/iukJaS/sam_brown_sleeping_quarters_finalupdate2.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iukJaS)

A Brief Intermezzo

“…So the Vhal’Dan militarized?”  D’Aylanna’s voice was quiet yet probing, filling the pause in Kazic’s tale while she continued her Force Healing.

The wasted Anzati Master inhaled, a hissing sound between gritted teeth.  Nodding, he continued.  “Yes; even moreso than the Order had been prior to the Ruusan Reformation.  Our R&D had taken several steps forward, giving us some of the best tech our Jedi could equip.  Most wore their armor even in the City and everyone carried their main lightsaber, a shoto, at least two vibroblades… Some even had blasters strapped to their persons…”  Kazic wheezed a laugh.  “…So uncivilized…”  His laugh degenerated into a coughing fit, each one contorting his body before he finally rasped an uneasy breath.

D’Aylanna smoothed his white hair from his brow, her small, delicate hands gentle, her eyes full of concern.  “…Kazic, what of Anson’s call to do away with ‘non-critical’ personal freedoms?  What does—did—that even mean?”  Her stroking hand seem to help calm Kazic’s coughing fit, giving him strength.  His red eyes stared into hers.

“…Well, at first it was just a simple curfew for non-Jedi.  No one really seemed to mind.  Next, all Vhal’Dan Jedi—regardless if they were teidowan or master…or even Speaker…had to have Congressional permission for any and all missions.  This then filtered down to all Galtean citizens.  Soon, our lives became very regimented, schedules a ‘routine part of our day.’”  He suddenly went very quiet, Kazic’s lips pulled up in a grimace.  “…But after a couple years, when most of the Vhal’Dan had come to…accept the seemingly little changes as a small expense for our safety, Anson proposed a new Initiative: that Congress would implement an Ident Program where every single citizen would be surgically implanted with a datanode that kept track of…well, everything.  Location, vitals, even our damned food habits.”  Kazic sneered, disgust clearly evident upon his face.

“…And…did the Vhal’Dan Congress pass this…measure?”  D’Aylanna asked, her normally steady voice trembling slightly with an undercurrent of shock and revulsion.

Kazic’s eyes stared straight into the Hapan Master’s dark eyes.  “No…not that Anson didn’t try… Maker knows that the Arbiter recalled the Initiative a number of times… No…but it was close, so close…”  Kazic’s eyes lost focus as his mind relived the memories of the past, as vivid as if he were experiencing them for the first time.

After a moment, D’Aylanna spoke to him, interrupting his ruminations.  “Kazic…KAZIC!  What about Aresaea?  What happened to her?”  The small woman’s face was intense, her skirts rustling as she stood over the Anzati Master.

Again, Kazic’s eyes became razor-focused.  “Aresaea…?  Ari?  Well, I made absolutely certain that she was never alone; she was always accompanied by either Saani, Jorol, Tsarvung, or myself.  If we had an off-world mission, Ari would always come with us.  And while I could trust Arkady to keep Ari safe should the need arise, I knew that the best way to avoid anything bad from happening was to ensure that nothing occurred in the first place…”  Kazic smiled fondly.  “Ari… She grew into a fine young woman, not only beautiful but incredibly powerful in the Force… She…she was the strongest Force-user on Galtea, even moreso than Anson or myself and even Arkady claimed that she would do things that he found…incredible…”  Kazic’s smile melted, his expression suddenly pained.  “Saani and I…we counseled caution, to never let anyone know the depths of her prowess in the Force…but after a time…people started remarking.”  A single tear slowly slid down his face and he closed his eyes.  “Oh Dear One…”

Pressing her blue lips together in shared empathy, D’Aylanna’s expression saddened, both her hands suddenly gripping Kazic’s withered fingers.  “…Kazic…what ever happened to Aresaea?  Did…did Anson take her?”

Kazic’s eyes opened, his face suddenly fierce and angry.  “No…well, yes.  I mean…I mean that everything changed when, returning to Galtea from a short jaunt to the Karideph System, Ari…saw something, something that suddenly revitalized her search for her People.”  Kazic’s voice dropped to a bare whisper, his eyes full of regret.  “…She’d…accepted that Saani and I were her home, her family… But even as the years went by, part of me…suspected—knew—that it was…inevitable.  Ari…was a…light shining in the galaxy, a wondrous radiant soul… Saani and I knew that she…would eventually have to leave…for us to have to say ‘goodbye…’ But…we were not prepared for the eventuality.  Or the events that led to her leaving…”  Kazic’s voice once again became a whisper.  “…Or the storm that followed…”

And as Kazic spoke, D’Aylanna sat intently listening to his every word, the secret history of the Vhal’Dan revealed as the venerable Anzati Master continued…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on April 01, 2018, 11:17:14 AM
Oh I like the reveal that it's all a story being told from Kazic's point of view.  Yes, that is a dangerously slippery slope of freedoms surrendered, and very on point for what we are facing today in the world.  I do hope we will be getting more of the tale.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 01, 2018, 02:03:32 PM
As a narrative device this was very neatly done. Brought back to 'present' day of the prologue whilst also adding in a time skip - as a single time narrative it would've been possible but a bit harder to do give the serious issues involved here we are left with the impression that the tension and characters traits and opinions gradually harden without having to see it piece by piece.  Also works as a good break between the "Impetus' and.... whatever comes next....
As to the context itself...how quickly people adapt to a new order....and Ari...well as Kazic said she burns too brightly to conceal...what will that light....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 02, 2018, 07:22:24 AM
As a narrative device this was very neatly done. Brought back to 'present' day of the prologue whilst also adding in a time skip - as a single time narrative it would've been possible but a bit harder to do give the serious issues involved here we are left with the impression that the tension and characters traits and opinions gradually harden without having to see it piece by piece.  Also works as a good break between the "Impetus' and.... whatever comes next....
As to the context itself...how quickly people adapt to a new order....and Ari...well as Kazic said she burns too brightly to conceal...what will that light....

Echoing LSG.  This was great!  I love the literary device, and it is well applied here.  And the foreshadowing of the next part of the narrative is perfect.  Just enough to confirm our suspicions without giving anything away.  Love it!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 03, 2018, 04:10:12 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/bGFYEx/Black_obelisk_1.jpg) (https://ibb.co/bGFYEx)

Chapter 8: Contact

Even before the door had fully opened, Ari ran into the apartments.  Kicking off her boots, she slowly rubbed her bare feet on the syncloth carpet of the Atrium as she slowly stripped herself of the carbon-nano armor that she wore, tossing the pieces seemingly haphazardly on one of the chairs in the brightly lit room, plants of all colors creating a beautiful panoply of colors that seemed to belong in a natural forest setting.  Combined with the pleasant piney aroma, the apartment’s Atrium was truly a marriage between “indoor” and “outdoor” décor.  Saani had designed it for Ari as a surprise for her 16th birthday over a year ago.

While Ari luxuriated in comfort, she pulled her long red hair down out of the ponytail she’d travelled with on her journey from the Karideph System, truly feeling like herself for the first time since she’d had to help Kazic manage the trade of Galtean foodstuffs for the servo-neuro motors that Karideph exported.  It had been as boring a trip as it sounded.  But she knew why Kazic had asked for her to go with him and she didn’t begrudge him his caution…although she’d missed the Swoopduel between her friend Ishara D’ahn and that sleemo Xyxxin Ckrwal.  Inhaling and then slowly letting out her breath, she waded into the aether as she projected outward, just like she’d learned from Saani.  Feeling the Twi’lek woman on the third floor, Ari joined her aura with Saani’s in the intimate ritual that she’d learned from her foster parents.  It also evinced Ari of memories of Home, of the communal shared mind within the aether.  Smiling, Ari was happy to be back in her home.

“…Damned ridiculous procedures…” Kazic muttered under his breath as he finally entered the apartments, having contacted the Kage informing him of their success as well as to receive any further updates concerning their latest itinerary.  Thankfully, the Council had given Kazic a 66-hour liberty as a reward.  “…Thank the Maker we’ve three whole days to our own devices…”  The tall Anzati Master began to divest himself of his own armor, carefully hanging the pieces on the mannequin in the large foyer.  Not even looking at Ari, his amused voice carried through the atrium.  “Dear One…please don’t leave your kit in the Atrium again; you know how Saani prefers we keep them ‘on the ready.’”  And almost right behind the last word, Ari felt Kazic join Saani and herself in the aether, his strong, reassuring presence comforting.

“Ah, K’ompo, Dear One, I’m so glad you’re back.”  Saani walked down the central staircase joining the two of them within the Atrium.  She must have recently returned from her own assignment as she still had on her utilities.  First kissing Ari upon her cheek and then Kazic on his lips, she gathered them both to her.  “Guess who has a three-day pass and three tickets to the new Science Holo-Exhibition projected straight from the Corellia Coronet City Convention Centre?  I’ll give you both three hints: she’s incredibly intelligent, astonishingly beautiful, and sublimely humble.”  Winking a purple eye at Ari, Saani reached up to pull at Kazic’s topknot, releasing a cascade of thick, black hair.

His own face breaking out in a broad grin, Kazic laughed, turning to Aresaea.  “Dear One!  I hadn’t realized that you’d gotten us tickets!”  His tone dripped with amusement while Saani slapped his shoulder good-naturedly.  “But I think that we should still ask Saani to tell us so we don’t ‘steal her thunder.’”  They all walked up the flight of stairs heading towards their respective sleeping quarters.

Ari, for her part, was thrilled; she’d been anticipating the next showcase from the Corellia Science Institute out of Coronet City but knew that she’d have to wait for the Holo-Exhibition.  Vhal’Dan Law had restricted such extra-curricular productions in that they required Congressional approval prior to presentation.  But—as Saani was wont to say—“Rank hath its privileges.”  Instead of having to wait the usual six-month interim period that Galtean citizens normally had to endure, Saani’s position as Speaker allowed for her to cut that time in half.  Regardless, Ari couldn’t wait to see it.  “I’ll be ready in an hour!  Thanks Saani!”  She hugged the shorter Twi’lek woman before disappearing in her own rooms.

Kazic chuckled as he and Saani entered their own bedrooms.  Taking off his own utilities, shirt, and trousers, he headed towards their own bedroom-adjacent refresher.  “I’d heard en-route to Galtea that you’d been successful with the Karideph Trade negotiations.”  Saani’s voice came from behind him.  “But I’ve been out of the loop as far as Galtea is concerned.  What is the latest news, K’ompo?”  Her words were momentarily muffled as she drew her small-shirt over her head as she passed him, disappearing in the adjoining closet.  Kazic programmed the shower, the hot, nearly scalding water inundating him almost immediately.  While the hot water didn’t matter particularly to him, thanks to his Anzati heritage, Kazic knew that Saani would absolutely love the heat.

“The latest news, Kanp’a, is that Anson’s most recent attempt to implement the Ident-Mandate was a stalemate, broken once again by Arkady’s ‘No’ vote.’”  The steam from the hot water began to rise, obfuscating the room beyond.  “Anson even tried to argue that your ‘No’ vote in absentia wasn’t valid so you know that he’s getting desperate.”  Kazic quietly laughed at the memory of that particular…argument.  But he quickly sobered; it had been close, damned close…

Kazic suddenly felt the soft touch of his wife’s arms around his waist as she silently joined him in the shower.  Just as he’d suspected, the hot water helped to relax her.  He turned towards her, enveloping her in his arms, her blue skin glistening in the water.  Almost coyly, she looked up at him from underneath her eyelids.  “…Ari did say that she’d be an hour or so…and I can’t think of a better way to start our ‘liberty’ than…”  Saani’s voice cut off as Kazic kissed her deeply upon her dark blue lips, clearly of like mind with his wife…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As they’d made the circuits around the Holo-Exhibition, Ari’s behavior reminded Kazic of the first couple months that they’d been together: everything held such…wonder.  And like that (comparatively) wide-eyed girl he’d come to love, teenage Ari kept them all at a frantic pace as she attempted to consume all of the displays within the exhibition.  And, Kazic had to admit, she was making a herculean effort in doing so, smiling across at Saani whenever the two stole glances at one another whenever they came to another shared hobby.

From the ancient Alderaan Abstractions to Corellian Realism to Mak’Tor Aural Compositions, the Holo-Exhibition ran a wide range of Art.  There was even a collection of pre-Migration Miralukan Tapestries that caught Ari’s full attention.  “…All of the weave is patterned after the artist’s aura in the Force…”  Ari explained, feeling a kind of…kinship.  After all, the eyeless Miraluka had heightened senses in the aether, reminiscent of her own People…

Feeling Ari’s nostalgia, both Kazic and Saani enveloped her in a hug, buoying Ari while their collective feelings surrounded each other in the Force.  Saani gently stroked Ari’s back while Kazic held both women.  After a moment, Ari nodded her thanks.  “…I’m OK, really Saani, Kazic…”  Clearing her throat, she stared straight ahead, her eyes suddenly focusing on…something.

“…By the goddesses…”  Ari pulled away, walking hurriedly away.  Saani and Kazic looked at one another, more than a little concerned.  They could feel Ari’s emotions spike, eagerness surrounded by astonishment…with just a slight undercurrent of fear.  They both quickly moved to follow.  As they came to stand next to Ari, Saani had eyes only for her ward; Kazic scrutinized the display.

Comprised of 120 sculptures, many of them rather…explicit (some conservative groups threw around admonitions such as “pornographic”), half had the visages of different women but the other half was clearly the featured subject of the presentation.  And above the vast selection was the holo-banner reading “The Arts of Aphrodaea.”

Aresaea knew what such entailed; she knew it to be a message, one from her People, one for her People.  “Ari…that is a…familiar naming convention of yours.”  It was not a question that Kazic asked, his red eyes shrewd and piercing.  Nodding, Ari turned her head to look Saani directly in her eyes.  And she saw in them understanding…and mitigated joy.  …Saani knows… Ari’s thought came unbidden.

“…Ari…we’ll help you contact them.  Even if it takes the authority of the ‘First and Second Speakers’ to give us travel authorization, you know that Kazic and I will do everything that we can to help.”  Saani’s purple eyes were full of compassion and love.  She put her forehead against Ari’s while squeezing her shoulder.

Ari laughed, cutting it off abruptly.  “No Sa…I mean, thank you.  But you don’t need to do that; we don’t even have to leave Galtea.  I was young, very young but I…remember a way to contact my People through the Force.”  Briefly, Ari looked at the art display, wistful yet…eager.  Kazic spoke from behind her.

“…Would you like to see the rest of the holo-exhibit Ari or…”  His gray lips were turned up in the corners.  He already knew what she wanted, what she needed.  Hugging the tall Anzat, she put her arms around both of her foster parents’ waists, her voice almost pleading.

“Please take me home; I’ve got to prepare.”

            <<<<< >>>>>

Having taken Ari home, Kazic was suddenly pinged on his comm, calling him to the R&D Department at the University.  Saani stayed in the apartments, looking over some of the other Initiatives on her datapad that were the purview of the Second Speaker, leaving Ari to her own designs.  Alone in the conservatory, Ari saw Galtea’s sun setting upon the horizon, the ruddy disk turning the cloudy, blue sky into a deep purple.  …It’s going to rain tonight… She thought, aware of the high percentage humidity.  Shaking her head, she playfully admonished herself.  What did that matter?  Her People were out there, the message as clear as the transparisteel wall of the conservatory.  Why was she hesitating?  Of course, she already knew the answer as she asked herself.  Two reasons: the first that she was reluctant to leave Saani and Kazic; and second…

…What if…there was no answer?

She shook her head.  …Well, sometimes you’ve got to roll a hard twelve… She thought to herself, using one of Kazic’s sayings.  She hadn’t really appreciated what he had meant by that until now.  …And you’re still stalling… Smiling wryly, Ari closed her eyes, fully enveloping herself in the aether.

As it always was, she could feel the ebb and flow.  There was no “destiny” in the aether…but there was a legacy within the tides, inexorably pulling them all, leading to a future, one for her People, the Vhal’Dan, Saani, Kazic.

Her.

As much as she could remember (she’d been so young when she’d lost Uncle, younger still when he had taught her the ways of the aether), she projected…outward.  There was no length, no width, no depth in the aether.  There was no space, no time.  The aether allowed for her to be heard across the galaxy, for there were no barriers within the aether.

And so, Ari focused on establishing contact, for her People to hear, to see her message.  [I am here!  By the three goddesses, I am here!  Aresaea, of the People!]  She repeated, over and over again.  [I am here!  By the three goddesses, I am here!  Aresaea, of the People!]  She could feel herself wading deeper into the aether; she had to be careful now, else she…lose herself.  [I am here!  By the three goddesses, I am here!  Aresaea, of the People!]  

She knew that she should not go any further but she was desperate for an answer.

[I AM HERE!  BY THE THREE GODDESSES, I AM HERE!  ARESAEA, OF THE PEOPLE! PLEASE!  I AM HERE!!]  

But nothing happened.  There was no voice answering her, no confirmation of her sending, no response of her inquiries.

Nothing.

Slowly, she curled into a fetal position, the pain of defeat, the loss of hope, and the anger of frustration inundating her as Ari slowly beat her closed first on the floor.  And even as her tears washed over her cheeks, sobs racking her body, her repeated blows upon the syncloth began to show wear under the strain of her enhanced strength and genetically denser tissues.  

Even as Saani entered her room to investigate the booming sounds that Ari’s repeated strikes upon the floor made, Ari continued to cry, her aqua eyes watery, red, and full of pain.  

Wrapping her in her tender embrace, Saani said nothing, only pulling Ari close as she sobbed ever harder.  Quietly, Saani began to sing a Twi’leki lullaby, rocking Ari gently in time with her singing.  And slowly—slowly—Ari’s sobbing stopped, her face relaxed, her fist stopped pounding on the noticeably dented floor.  Exhausted, Ari slipped into sleep, Saani ever vigilant by her side, repositioned herself to get as comfortable as the floor would allow as the Twi’lek woman settled in for the night.

            <<<<< >>>>>

“…So once again, Ari was correct?”  Kazic’s tone was equal parts proud, amazed, and frightened.  No, not frightened; terrified.  And, for once, the appearance of the daen nosi were not to blame, or at least, not all to blame.  He, Maenowan Jorol Qui-Xot, and Sire Tsarvung Xot-Qui were standing over a small, black stone plinth with ancient Massassi writing adorning every square centimeter.  It was about 25 centimeters tall, shaped like an obelisk.  Aside from that, it was absolutely unremarkable and innocuous.  

And one of the most dangerous weapons in the galaxy.

Messer Subiah Fuqua had done the initial translations:

      “Carelessness of the Offspring,
      Our Sith Master Naga
      Present to Him this
      Toy of affectation and
      Fire of the Void.”


From this, Professor Fuqua had postulated that the plinth was…nothing more than a child’s offering to one of the ancient Massassi deities.  Even in CorSec Collegiate institutions (whose curriculum in Humanities was severely deficient), Professor Fuqua’s conclusions were taught as gospel.

Until Ari had gone over the interpretations, finding that almost all of it was out of context.  And while it had taken her the better part of a week (versus Fuqua’s timetable of years), Ari was able to provide a concise translation:

   “Incautiousness will spawn,
   Lord Naga’s dowry
   Within the Mind
   Agate, Power of
   Destruction in Nothingness.”


And despite the archaic composition of the Massassi language, Ari had deduced that it was instead a weapon, one that—upon further investigation with Jorol—brought shivers down Kazic’s spine.  And Jorol and Tsarvung had finally confirmed, calling Kazic immediately…and the reason for his presence there, now.

The device was a Thought Bomb.

“Who else knows about this?”  Kazic quietly inquired as his fingers stroked his black goatee, his eyes focused on both men.

“Outside this room?  The Kage, the Arbiter, the Council, and Professor Fuqua.  And, of course, Aresaea.”  Tsarvung’s deep voice intoned.  Unconsciously, he placed a large hand upon his husband’s dark fingers.  Jorol looked up, smiling assuredly at the taller man.

“Assume Saani is aware as well, knowing Ari.”  Kazic unconsciously ran a hand through his hair, slightly pulling on his topknot.  “Let’s keep it that way.  Give this to Arkady and ask him to lock it up in the Kage’s Vault.  That should keep it as safe as possible.”  Kazic’s quick response belied the consternation that he felt.  The Kage’s Vault was one of the most secure depositories in the galaxy but…Kazic knew that nothing was foolproof.  And if a Thought Bomb should fall into the wrong hands…

While there were many reasons that the Ruusan Reformation was enacted, a large part of the Act was a direct result of the Thought Bomb that all but destroyed Ruusan.  The daen nosi recalled Kazic from his ruminations.  All he knew is that he would be damned before he allowed such a device to be used on the Vhal’Dan.

He just prayed to the Maker that he hoped that his caution would be enough…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Inhaling swiftly, Ari awoke with a start.  Her senses quickly focused on her surroundings as she willed her body to relax.  She could feel Saani’s comforting touch, her arm around Ari as she still slept upon the floor that they’d both passed out on.  The Galtean sun was just peaking over the west horizon, the morning rays sliding across the far wall as the sunlight began to illuminate the room.  But that was not what had woken Ari up.

Not wanting to wake Saani, Ari did not stir, even as her heart continued to hammer within her chest.  Taking assessment of the situation, Ari noticed a couple of abnormalities: in addition to her increased heart-rate, there was sweat upon her brow, and yet she felt chilled.  Normally, her body was better adapted to atmospheric conditions, better than even Kazic’s.  But the environment had had nothing to do with her body’s reactions.

It had been her dream.  Or rather, what came directly afterwards.  It had been three words, soft yet relentless in their persistence, ringing within her head and throughout the aether.  And again, she felt the anticipation that she’d felt as soon as her eyes fell upon “The Arts of Aphrodaea” Holo-Exhibit.  Three words.

We are coming.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 03, 2018, 05:22:24 PM
So...   The passionate Arbiter, in possession of a thought bomb, is faced by a potential invasion by extremely powerful force users...

Oh yeah.  Nothing bad could POSSIBLY happen...   :o


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on April 03, 2018, 07:18:12 PM
Tears.  This has an ending of tears written all over it.  Lots of tears.  Probably more blood than that. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 03, 2018, 07:40:10 PM
Tears.  This has an ending of tears written all over it.  Lots of tears.  Probably more blood than that. 
If I ever make a book of "Schisms"  THIS^^ is what I'm going to put on the inside jacket where the brief synopsis goes  ;)

So...   The passionate Arbiter, in possession of a thought bomb, is faced by a potential invasion by extremely powerful force users...

Oh yeah.  Nothing bad could POSSIBLY happen...   :o
...Annddd THIS^^ on the back  :D

But...yeah


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 04, 2018, 12:08:18 AM
This was great...I love the little details, that is your greatest strength i think - the 66 hours of freedom which indicates just how strict things are...not say 3 days...exactly 66 hours...and i'll bet they are being timed...
Anson trying to twist the vote for the ident-mandate shows his desperation.

And yet...and here is the best part that integrates all the threads...Anson has just all but been completely justified as Aresaea has just invited in the very thing Anson was afraid of through the front door.  Not only that but by fixing the translation she had identified the vry weapon that could cause Ansosn vision of oblivion for the Vhal'Dan to come true in an instant what else was his vision but beholding  Power of/Destruction in Nothingness..  Its just such a brilliantly done twisted situation that justifies and condemns all of them in some way.

This is a slow burn culmination of so many threads, but they remain twisting and writhing, don't need big battles for a massive pay off this is the kind of unpredictable twisted stuff i love to read. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 04, 2018, 06:18:51 AM
This is a slow burn culmination of so many threads, but they remain twisting and writhing, don't need big battles for a massive pay off this is the kind of unpredictable twisted stuff i love to read. 

Ditto!  Dutchman, you've got the touch!  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on April 04, 2018, 11:56:17 PM
Agreed. Out of all of us, you integrate details the best. And you can describe things so vividly, it is incredible. You feel what they feel, hear what they hear. And most of all, you are drawn in to the story until you become one with it. Well done.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 09, 2018, 10:59:41 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/k7JuUx/karkko08.jpg) (https://ibb.co/k7JuUx)

Chapter 9: Menace and Misunderstanding

Now…
The purple blade arced through the air, stopping bare centimeters from Kazic’s face.  Once again, he was amazed at the strength of the blow, the speed of the swing.  He knew that if he wasn’t wrapped in the Force, his opponent would have quickly bested him.  But his biggest surprise had not come from any physical attack.  He’d felt the pressure against his mind, deluging him with first illusions then a brutal form of Force Suppression and, when those were not effective, simultaneous metaphysical attacks as he defended against the small girl’s viper-quick saber assault.  

He knew that he was among the strongest mental Force-users that he’d ever met.  It was taking everything for him just to defend, to blunt the attacks meant to sear his mind, to effectively lobotomize him.  And her strength in the Force was…astounding.  But he was holding his own, if barely.

Suddenly, he saw the red haired girl smile, as if reading his thoughts.  “Oh so you’re done with me playing with you?  Good…”  Her smile turned predatory.  “I’ve seen A LOT of things lately that I thought were disgusting—Aqualish erotica, Herglic food fixations, even hairless Wookie grease-wrestling, but I’ve never seen something as revolting as your face!”  She seemingly (and effortlessly) redoubled her efforts, her purple blade in five places at once, his defenses sorely pressed.

He knew that she was taunting him, toying with his emotions while distracting him.  Kazic discerned that he would have to do something…drastic.  But…everything that he’d lived for, everything within his entire being was against doing…that.  No, he would rely on the Force as his ally.

His Ataru was virtually flawless…but it seemed as if this girl had mastered the Form, incredible as that was.  Kazic had been alive for more than 400 years, most of that time training, studying, absorbing from as many battlemasters and saber practitioners as he could.  And, he could admit without ego, that he’d accomplished much, certainly he could be counted among those celebrated warriors, even besting several of them.

This girl was better, stronger, and even more…savage, able to extemporize seemingly at whim.  Her assault suddenly penetrated his defenses, her blade connecting with his armor while concurrently attacking his mental safeguards.  Thank the Maker, both his armor and his mind held but…if he hadn’t been wearing his armor…or mentally prepared… Kazic knew that he would have to change things up, and quickly.

Back flipping, he switched to a Niman variant that he’d learned from Master Stryka.  Very few of her apprentices had even attempted to learn it, such was its complexity.  He flowed into the offensive forms that Master Stryka had taught him, telling him that—aside from her—he was the only one to gain mastery in it.

“Good!  I was beginning to think that this would be over too soon!  Now I see that you’re more than just a barely-trained, unimaginative gormin like the rest of these Jedi!”  If the girl’s smile had been predatory before, she practically beamed with brutal voraciousness now.  

As their blades met, blue on purple, the air began to hum from the violence of their combat.  Kazic didn’t sweat, such was the legacy of his Anzat ancestry.  Additionally, his resilience was far beyond that of a human’s.  But even he was beginning to feel the effects of prolonged saberwork, the toxins in his body becoming too much for even his superior physiology to compensate for.  Again, he tried a desperate attack, one that he normally would not have even contemplated, much less attempted.  Hoping to distract, Kazic’s offensive became a furious flurry of strikes, seemingly leaving an ever-widening opening to exploit.  But it was not so much an invitation as it was bait.  One that the girl saw and took.

As the girl’s saber came within reach, he quickly switched hands with his saber, using his now empty hand to grab the girl’s wrist, arresting her swing and creating a small opening.  Her eyes widened in surprise while his saber had a clear path towards her exposed body.  But even as his saber arced towards her, she broke free of his grasp.  …How in the hell…?! His saber hissed through the air, “merely” burning through the clothes that she was wearing, although the plasma blade must have connected against some tissue as he could smell burnt flesh as well as seeing a momentary spasm of pain in her face.

She was no longer smiling.  All humor left her demeanor.  “That…hurt.”  Her lips spread in a rictus grin.  “I haven’t felt that kind of pain for…quite some time.”  Her stance changed, something resembling Juyo but more…aggressive.  “Let me show you now, you frellik-faced farbot!”  And she attacked.  Her saber seemed a solid cloud of plasma; her punches and kicks felt like a gorog’s; her metaphysical attacks those of brute, crushing force, not the subtle, piercing assaults she’d been continually using.

If Kazic had been hard-pressed before, he was completely inundated now.  In just under a minute, the girl had struck his armor no less than three times.  Worse: she’d scored a glancing cut across his forearm, shattering the vambrace and burning his arm.  And his head felt as if it were stuck within a vise.  Again, he tried a desperation attack: Electric Judgment.  

The yellow Lightning surprised the girl, coalescing as a plasma cloud that surrounded her, dancing all along her face and skin, scorching burns forming where the arcing contacted the skin.  But then, she smiled.  “Lightning, eh?  So that’s the way you want to play it, Frellik-face?”  She didn’t sound pained; she sounded angry.  And it was then that Kazic knew that he had run out of luck.

Closing down her purple blade, blue Lightning began to surge from her hands, up her arms, sheathing her upper body in a bluish-violet hue.  And with speed that even Kazic’s Force-enhanced eyes couldn’t fully track, the girl hurled the Lightning at him.  First, it overwhelmed his own (comparatively) meager Lightning, subsuming the electric cloud surrounding him and absorbing it, his aura going from yellow to violet.  He’d been hit by Sith Lightning before; this was nothing like it.  Every single fiber, every individual cell felt as if it was being flash-boiled, energy coursing through his body causing his muscles to violently contract, micro-tears forming along soft tissues as the girl poured her Lightning into him.  And while he was able to stand under the onslaught for a short time, he was soon on his knees, now eye-to-eye with the girl.  And as the violet glow from her Lightning played across her face, turning her red hair almost black, her eyes held an almost sadistic humor in them.

“Wow Frellik-face!  Every time I’ve done this, it just usually vaporizes the kriffing bastich that I use it against!  For as ugly as you are, your skill with the aether is not insignificant!”  She punctuated the last with a concentrated blast of Lightning causing Kazic to go from one knee down to all four limbs.  And as she did, she stepped forward, standing almost right on top of the Anzati Master.

Overcome by pain, the crushing weight of the girl’s rage fueling her metaphysical assault, and his own desperation, Kazic’s primal instincts overrode the logical side of his mind.  Pure impulse driving him, the Anzat (who’d forgotten the name Kazic) sprang up from the ground, enveloping the girl, completely ignoring the Lightning passing through his body.  His red eyes had gone completely black, all signs of sapience gone.  His hands latched onto the girl’s arms, bringing her face-to-face with him.  And even though she was still stronger than the Anzat, the girl could not shake him off.

Mindlessly, the Anzat put his face nose-to-nose with the girl’s, real concern finally showing upon her face.  And, for one of the rare times in his life, Kazic’s tentacle-like proboscises extended from his cheeks, slathering across the girl’s cheeks, searching out her nostrils and mouth.  Disgust and fear replaced concern causing the girl to inadvertently scream out, her strong hands and legs attempting to shove the Anzat away.  Meanwhile, she redoubled her metaphysical assault…but for naught; for all intents and purposes, “Kazic” was no longer there.  And while she managed to do significant damage to Kazic’s body, her efforts to remove him were futile.

If the cognizant parts of Kazic’s mind and personality were in control, the girl would have easily divested herself of the Anzat.  But pain and the Anzati threat responses had stripped Kazic of such; in his place was a monster, the likes of which had spawned countless stories of terror told across countless planets and cultures.  And all told of the relentless, inexorable dreaded beast that fed upon the brain of its victims, the so-called “soup.”

It was this that Kazic’s proboscises sought now.  And as one of them slowly found the girl’s open nostril, the other quickly followed suit.  Panicked, the girl let out a primal scream of anger, defiance, and fear.  But it was too late.

Suddenly, Kazic was pulled off of the girl, thrown bodily against the far wall, colliding with the transparisteel wall with a sickening crunch as several of his bones broke.  He didn’t so much as grimace, the pain not registering as Kazic had succumbed to the Anzati mindlessness in the pursuit of the soup.  And even as he slid to the ground, his bones were reforming, his tissues healing.  He attacked the man he faced now.

He was shorter than Kazic by about 10 centimeters, his light hair short, framing a face seemingly sculpted of adamantium.  Even as he helped the girl up, he kept his eyes on Kazic, not even blinking when the mindless Anzat attacked.  The man sidestepped in a flurry of motion, too fast for the eye to see, grabbing Kazic’s outstretched arm, pivoting and throwing him down to the ground.  Kazic’s arm broke in three places, half a dozen ribs shattering, along with his jaw as it connected with the ground.  Both of his scapulas then broke in two as the man projected a crushing weight with the Force (not that he thought of it in such terms).  Furthermore, the man kicked out with his heel, pulverizing Kazic’s femur in multiple places, the fractured bone ripping through the flesh of his thigh.  Finally, the man kicked with his other boot, splintering Kazic’s pelvis.

Still, the Anzat fought on.

Face impassive, the man clouted Kazic with a powerful Force Push causing his head to snap to the side.  The suddenness and ferocity of the motion caused the blood supply to momentarily restrict itself from reaching the Anzat’s brain, finally knocking him unconscious.  All the while, the man’s face had remained completely expressionless although he slightly exhaled a sigh.

He ignited the lightsaber in his hand, the green blade casting shadows all along the apartment’s walls creating a labyrinthine array of silhouettes.  And just as he was about to cleave the Anzat in two, a powerful voice shook the entire room.

STOP!

            <<<<< >>>>>

Then…
“…And so we have a stalemate.  In such an event, I, Kage Arkady Cyne, shall cast the deciding vote.”  The short, gruff Kage looked around the Council as he made his pronouncement.  “I vote against the measure that all non-Vhal’Dan citizens of Galtea must either swear the oaths or submit to monitored biometrics.  This session is adjourned.”  As Arkady stepped down to retire to his Office, Anson approached Kazic and Saani as they were quietly speaking.

“Kazic, this is a mistake.  We need to safeguard the Vhal’Dan against those whose allegiance of which we are uncertain.”  Anson’s deep brown eyes weren’t angry, just…intense.

Kazic sighed before answering, stroking his black goatee while the muted light within the Hall of Balance cast soft shadows across his armor and atop his brow, making his red eyes appear to glow.  The physiological effects were one of the reasons that such myths persisted regarding Anzati possessions, devilry, and bewitchment.  Still, the look on Kazic’s face would have done little to dispel the myths; indeed, the ferocity of his visage would have only added to it.

“No Anson.  At best, the measure is a slippery slope that would serve to alienate and stir unrest.  At worst…wholesale fascism.  I will never endorse such.”  Kazic crossed his arms, the armor of his vambraces making a dull noise as he did so.  “Not now.  Not ever.”

Anson took a step towards Kazic, seemingly looming over the Anzat, quite a spectacle given that Anson was almost 15 centimeters shorter.  The handsome Arbiter’s tone was quiet, almost genial but his eyes told another story.  “I know what you’re really about.  Aresaea.”  He didn’t quite smile.  “She is not one of the Vhal’Dan.  She’s never been inducted into our Order; never even considered it.  Yet…we have amongst us a…person of dubious loyalty.”

Just as Anson was wont to flare hot, his anger a raging furnace, Kazic’s temperament went in the opposite direction.  Icily, the Anzati Master spoke softly.  “She is not only loyal—as you say—to the Vhal’Dan, Ari is family.  And you do her a disservice to suggest otherwise.  Say what you will but know this: I will never question my ward’s fidelity.  Ever.”  Kazic’s eyes had adopted a half-lidded look of indifference, however, he felt anything but: he wanted to release the storm that Anson and his faction had induced in the Anzat…but he was still in control of himself.  Barely.

Anson’s smile hardened.  “Perhaps.  But know this: one day, one day very, very soon, don’t be surprised to find that we’ve come for Aresaea, for the good of the Vhal’Dan.  Maybe later…or possibly even today.  But I will be coming.”  He moved to join his confederates but turned his head to the side, pausing for a moment.  “Sometimes Kazic I wonder if you truly have the best interests of our Order at heart…”  And without a backwards glance he gathered his retinue and walked from the Hall.

For once, Kazic’s collected nature was washed away by the fury of Anson’s threat.  He couldn’t care less what the Arbiter thought of him; let Anson question his loyalties all that he wanted.  But to threaten Ari…

K’ompo, let it go.  You’re better than this.”  Saani’s quiet reassuring tone echoed her demeanor as she grasped his big hand, holding it in hers.  “Look, I have to join Corvus at the Ship Manufactory in the Inez Commercial District but I’ll join you at home later tonight.”  She told Kazic, gesturing at the Fifth Speaker.  She briefly kissed her husband.  “I love you.”  Then she turned to join the Devaronian Speaker.

“Love you too, Kanp’a.”  But, try as he might, his anger not only persisted but intensified.  All the way from the Hall of Balance, the ride on the hyperloop, and even as he approached and entered the door of his apartments, Kazic’s fury would not relent.  Upon opening his door, he almost expected to see Anson already there waiting for him.

He knew something was wrong the moment he entered his apartments.  As the Force flowed from him, he didn’t find anything amiss.  But Kazic had learned long ago to trust his senses.  And, frankly, he was too angry to let anything go.

“Come out now you cowards.  I know that you’re here.”  He had his saber in hand, ready to ignite.  And even as his Force-enhanced senses told him of the various minutiae in the environment, he still had difficulty locating the lone intruder.  …There… Kazic was finally able to lock onto the figure.  Incredibly, he was still having difficulty tracking the intruder, as if they were…deliberately obfuscating his efforts.  That in and of itself was amazing; Kazic’s mental Force abilities were among the strongest of the Vhal’Dan.  Nevertheless…

He ignited his lightsaber, the blue blade washing the apartments in cold illumination.  And for the first time, he saw that the intruder was a small girl.  He started; he should have been able to easily sense her this close.  At worst, his infravision should have seen her body’s ambient heat in the dark but her body didn’t register at all differently from her surroundings…

“I’m taking Aresaea.  You will give her to me.  Now.”  Her voice was playful, imperious, and contemptuous.  She had a saber in her hand that had yet to be ignited but the girl’s eyes gleamed with provocation.

Kazic shook his head, incensed at the girl’s tone.  “The hell you will.”  And with that, he attacked.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Now…
Something in the voice made the man stop.  He turned his head towards young woman who’d yelled.  Immediately he knew, his questions flooding through the aether and receiving answers in kind.  He closed down his lightsaber.

“Aresaea.  This is Kiraea; it was she who found you here.  I am Valens.”  His face relaxed a little but it still looked as if carved from durasteel.

Ari ran forward but not to either Kiraea or Valens, as he’d suspected.  Instead she quickly kneeled in front of the unconscious broken body belonging to Kazic.  Ari began to direct Healing flows into Kazic but she knew that her efforts were too minor, her skill not up to the task.  “…Guardian…I…I’m sorry, he didn’t know!  Please, please help him!”

Both Valens and Kiraea exchanged glances, an entire discussion passing in a single look.  Desperate, Ari instinctively joined them in the aether, showing the two everything that she’d encountered, and not just on Galtea.  Everything.  Nodding slightly understanding that there was much more here than met the eye, Valens bent over the Anzat.  And—to his eyes—he could easily see the splintered lines, the Shatterpoint almost completely ruined.  Expertly, he smoothed the broken lines, joining the fractures and straightening the pattern, rebuilding it and once again making it whole.  And when he was finished, Kazic lay before them, still unconscious but now restored, uninjured, and healthy.

“Kiraea, you should be more careful next time you wish to play with your opponent.  They might end up surprising you.”  Valens’ tone was quiet yet compelling, the red haired girl smirking as she took the rebuke without comment.

Meanwhile, Ari grabbed Kazic in a fierce embrace, her eyes wet with tears.  “Thank you!  Thank you Guardian!”  She put her head against Kazic’s forehead.  “Kazic!  It…it’s ok!  Please wake up!  Please…”  Slowly she rocked the Anzat as she held his body to hers in her lap.  And slowly, Kazic’s eyes opened, blinking as he focused first on Ari and then on Valens.

“…Ari?  Dear One?  …I…I would not let him take you.  Anson… No matter the cost…you…I… I will never let them harm you…”  The Anzat quieted, drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes speaking.  Every time Kazic talked, Valens listened intently, his piercing eyes taking in everything.  Making a decision, Valens kneeled by Kazic, gently Delving him.

And Valens saw, he saw everything.  Letting out a breath, he stood looking down at Ari as she cradled Kazic in her lap.  And he knew.  He had not attacked Kiraea to dissuade her from taking Ari with them; rather Kazic had thought that Kiraea was going to convey Ari to this…Anson.

Her eyes still red with tears, Ari looked up at Valens.  “Guardian…will, will he be OK?”

And—as he had for many lifetimes—Valens knew with conviction that what was required was something…more.  Only this time, Valens hoped, this time…he would not have to fight.

He looked at the young woman, her aqua eyes pleading and he knew he was right.  “Yes.  Yes, he will be.”  He knelt by Ari, his face relaxing.  “And I will make certain of it.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on April 09, 2018, 11:56:13 AM
Twists, turns, surprises, OH BOY!  Kazic stood up to Kiraea, for a good bit, and the Aethans, who seem ready to do what they believe is the good, and right thing.  Oh I fear that what happens next will be exactly the event Anson will sieze upon...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 09, 2018, 04:47:54 PM
Bad timing….
That was a brilliantly vicious fight - really pushed Kazic past the point of rationality…the effect of his primal survival and soup seeking instinct laid bare was intense and horrifying…that’s gonna have some serious personal repercussions for him I reckon…I’m not sure what’s going to worry him more…that he lost control or that even after losing control he still got smashed.

But yeah Kazic was lucky Valens was there…had he not been Kiraea wouldn’t have felt safe enough to ‘toy’ with him and gone straight for the kill…a curious question as to whether she would’ve won that…probably by hammering him down with lighting from the get go…and then she always had her fire to fall back on…but not as easy a win as she might’ve thought (and know doubt she’ll wear her helmet next time…)

Nonetheless Kazic is in a dangerous situation when the most level headed person he has to ‘negotiate’ with is Valens – who has just watched him no doubt very carefully give his all in a fight…and then healed him...then delved him...umm yeah not a strong platform to speak from...

But yeah if Ari just showed them everything too…Anson + Thought Bomb + Kiraea...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 11, 2018, 10:52:22 AM
Yeah, my thoughts as well, LSG.  Valens knows about the Thought Bomb.  And frankly, that's maybe the one weapon that could really decimate the Aethans.  They will feel compelled to take it away from the Vhal'Dan.  And Anson will try to use it.

This is not going to end well....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Illyiss on April 11, 2018, 11:31:44 AM
Yeah, my thoughts as well, LSG.  Valens knows about the Thought Bomb.  And frankly, that's maybe the one weapon that could really decimate the Aethans.  They will feel compelled to take it away from the Vhal'Dan.  And Anson will try to use it.

This is not going to end well....

"This can only end in tears."


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 18, 2018, 02:00:06 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/evKKgn/ximage01_jpg_pagespeed_ic_p2k_Tq_OEi_A.jpg) (https://ibb.co/evKKgn)

Chapter 10: Negligible Senescence

Saani knew that something was immediately amiss as soon as she’d entered the apartments.  However, this time Ari was ready to answer at least some of the questions that invariably arose.  And while Saani trusted her ward implicitly, she was nevertheless wary concerning the two…guests that Ari named as “her People.”  

Upon first glance, Kiraea could have easily been mistaken as Ari’s sister, so alike in appearance were they.  Indeed, even as the evening wore on, Saani noticed Kiraea’s almost singular attention towards Ari; they could have been long-lost siblings the way that she carried on.  Ari, for her part, was no less determined: she was practically welded to the other young woman, speaking so quickly that Saani could only pick out every word in five…reminding the Twi’lek of when Ari first came to live with her.  It was as endearing as it was bittersweet.

Saani knew that the borrowed time that she and Kazic had had with Ari was swiftly coming to an end.  But she also understood that now Ari would finally have—feel—a home that being among one’s people could provide.  And, for that at least, Saani was thankful for Kiraea.  But there was another reason for her growing trepidation, one that her husband inadvertently gave voice to as he walked into the conservatory on slightly unsteady legs, interrupting the two young women and their speed-talking.  Pausing to hold Saani, Kazic then turned his attention to the only other person in the room with them.

“…You…you’re…him.  The…warrior…Kimar’s…murderer…”  Even as he spoke, Kazic’s weak voice gained strength, an odd look in his red eyes.  His tone was not accusatory, merely…matter-of-fact.  “…Jedi Knight…Valens.  But…not just a Jedi…”

Standing like a statue off to the side along the transparisteel wall, Valens’ face was hidden in the shadows.  Against the backdrop of the dancing lights of the Aurora Austrinas in the sky, he appeared to be bathed in the magenta hue, giving his features a decidedly…preternatural quality.  And although Kazic was taller, Valens seemed to loom large over even the Anzat.  It was quite the trick, Saani had to admit…except that she could feel the presence of the man radiating off of him.

“I was never a Jedi.  And I did not murder Kimar.  He deserved death.”  Valens’ quiet voice broached no argument.  He stared at Kazic with eyes that held no anger; like the Anzat, Valens’ tone was matter-of-fact.  

Kazic’s face was impassive.  “…While I can’t pretend to know…I cannot say that I’m surprised.”  Kazic offered one of the large viewing chairs to Valens, taking a seat opposite it.  The two men looked at one another with interested eyes.

“…What did you do to me?  I have…some idea of what occurred…” a look of disgust briefly flashed across Kazic’s face, indicative that he was aware of the implications of the events, “…but I…well, let’s just say that…this is not what I expected to wake up to.”

“I could not allow you to…attack…” only the briefest of pauses signaled that Valens knew exactly what Kazic was referring to, “…Kiraea the way you were and I stopped you.  But before I was about to kill you, Ari intervened.  She told me about you, what you’d done for her, and what you meant—mean—to her.  I was able to repair the damage.”  Valens back was completely rigid even sitting.

Kazic lowered his head, exhaling slowly.  He turned towards Kiraea.  “…I…apologize for attacking you absent cause.  When you said that you were here to take Ari, I thought that Anson had sent you.”

Kiraea’s face split in a smile.  “That’s alright Frellik-face.”  She looked at Ari and then focused on Saani.  “Ari tells me that you’re quite the swordswoman.  I’d like for you to show me.”  Kiraea’s hint to leave Valens and Kazic alone was about as subtle as a Hutt’s laugh.

K’ompo I’ll show our guest our training salle.  Ari, would you please make Kiraea some of that…delicious drink that you made for us?”  Kazic inwardly smiled.  Ari’s “drink” was so sweet that it was cloying, so spicy that it made Saani’s eyes water.  Kazic suspected that Kiraea would love it as much as Ari did.  After a moment, the women left, leaving Kazic and Valens facing one another amidst the display of the Galtean Southen Lights.  

Kazic looked at Valens, unable to discern…anything regarding the man, except one.  Even used to Ari’s strong presence, this man was of another order of magnitude stronger… Kazic was a tall and broad man, experienced and strong in the Force; still he felt terribly small compared to Valens.  Yet this was not intimidation, this was a relaxation of concealment, being as he was rather than hiding his presence as he had been at first.  Kazic trembled at the thought of what Ari’s people might be capable of were they to turn that power to war.  His ruminations were cut short as Valens surprised him by speaking.

 “Thank you for everything you have done for Aresaea.  I have not met many people who…I did not have to fight or consider an enemy.”  His face was hard, not from anger or emotion, just from life’s experiences.  “I would offer you a reward as recompense.  Would you like credits?”  His voice was steady, all business.

“There is no need; having Ari here as our family is more than reward enough.”  Red eyes met blue.  Almost imperceptibly, Valens seemed to shake his head.  And although his body did not relax, his tone became more congenial.

“Again: you have my thanks.  I can see what Aresaea means to you and your wife.  And that’s before even taking her own accounts into consideration.  Imagine my surprise when she told me that she’d found family not of the People.”  Valens’ face looked haunted, the shadows that played across his face having nothing to do with the cosmic display in the darkened sky.  “She’s the first we’ve found that was not…had not been…they were in…bad shape.”  His voice was soft but his intonation was passionate, almost vehement.  “We’ve found so few…and there are so few of us left to begin with…”  His eyes stared straight into the past, the horrors that he’d witnessed and experienced painting his face with the agony of remembrance.  He suddenly locked his eyes onto Kazic’s.  “I don’t know why I tell you this now…I’ve never spoken of it to ‘Others.’”  Kazic caught the deliberate delineation of those whom were not of his People.  “…Perhaps I trust Aresaea’s choice of ‘Family.’”

“Perhaps you’ve just carried it so long that you’ve found one instance where you can relax.”  Kazic offered.  Valens stared, suddenly grinning after a moment.

“It’s possible.  Regardless, Aresaea was right: she is among ‘Family.’  You have done for her what…very few others have done for our People in my experience.”  Valens’ face turned inquisitive.  “Have you met Jedi Master Soryu or Kage Odjina?”

Kazic started at the names.  “I’ve never met the man but I’ve heard of Kage Odjina.  Extremely powerful Singer of the Mak’Tor.  But Master Soryu…I met him almost 60 years ago on Coruscant.  Even then I was amazed at his strength within the Force, eclipsed only by his strength of character… You knew them?” Kazic inquired.

“I did…many great men and powerful warriors have fallen in recent years Kazic…” Valens replied, his gaze suddenly shifted to the Anzat’s red eyes, though a head shorter he seemed to stare down at him.  “We must be careful not to join them…”

Kazic sat back, introspective.  He thought of everything that Valens had said, everything that he represented…everything that he’d done.  As if reading Kazic’s thoughts, Valens spoke.  “You…disapprove of my actions on Coruscant?”

Slowly Kazic inhaled.  “Honestly…I…don’t know what to think.”  He squared his shoulders.  “And with neither condemning nor condoning, I am no one to judge you; I have lived long enough to know that I do not know everything.”  Slowly, Kazic gave a small, sardonic smile.  “Besides…would it matter?”

Valens remained impassive.  “No.”  Still, he seemed to accept the rest at face value.  For long moments, neither man spoke, both lost in their respective thoughts that, perhaps unsurprisingly, virtually mirrored the others.  Sensing this, they both stood having come to an understanding that only two people who had gone through their Trial by Fire could feel.  They looked upon the interplay of light as the solar particles interacted with Galtea’s magnetosphere, producing a soft green hue.

“Valens…please keep her safe.  As you said: she’s family.  I would suggest that we keep your presence…quiet.  Others will not have such…Olympian views.”  The Southern Lights changed from green to an almost violent purple.  “And far too many will be afraid of you and Kiraea…”  Valens nodded, the look on his face suggested that Kazic had just told him that “water was wet.”  Nevertheless, as the night wore on, they spoke of the necessary finalizations that Ari would need for her departure.

And—at least another few days—for Saani, Ari, and Kazic to make their goodbyes.

            <<<<< >>>>>

In the Vhal’Uhladv Crystal Processing Station where the raw kyber crystals from Lus’phor were refined, Kazic was engaged in a conversation with Third Speaker Pytir Danisen when the Anzati Master finally saw Anson.  More and more, the Arbiter had been busy across Galtea with planetary security, if not completely off-planet altogether.  It was the first time that Kazic had seen Anson outside of a Congressional Meeting and, remarkably, alone.  Making his excuses to Pytir, Kazic approached the human Arbiter.

“Anson.  A moment, please.”  Kazic’s quiet voice was almost drown out by the drone of machinery.  The shorter man paused, clearly uncertain as to what he was being addressed for.  Anson turned, squaring his shoulders while he casually hooked his thumbs in the belt of his armor, the light playing off of the surface of the nano-carbon plating.

“Kazic, I don’t have a lot of time for whatever tedium you want to yammer at me concerning—”

“You were right.”

“—your precious freedo… What?”  Anson’s brown eyes squinted, his head wanting to look around as if to see if he was being ambushed.  Kazic’s posture mirrored his calmness, his armored arms limp at his side.  The Anzati Master’s gray face was completely composed, his eyes half-lidded.

“I want for you to know that you were right.  About Coruscant.  About the Jedi.  Maybe even about the Vhal’Dan.”  Kazic stared at the floor.  “You were right.”

Anson stood stunned, his jaw working but no words forthcoming.  “…But…what…”  He suddenly focused intently on Kazic.  “…Why now?  After all of this time, why—”  But he was cut off.

“You were right…and it made no difference whatsoever.  Nor would it, regardless of how much you prepared.  If they came, intent on killing, you would be dead.  You.  Me.  Everyone.”  Kazic barked a humorless laugh.  “Oh, no doubt there would be casualties, perhaps even heavy losses but…it would not matter.  At all.”  He said the last as if speaking to himself.  Kazic’s eyes lost the glazed-over look that he’d adopted, suddenly piercing and raptor-like upon Anson.  “You need to reinstitute the freedoms that you’ve suppressed in the name of ‘safety.’  Every.  Single.  One.”  Kazic pivoted as if to leave but halted, turning his head, exposing the left side of his face.  “For what it’s worth, brother…I’m sorry for having disregarded your concerns.  That is my burden to bear and one—now among several—that I will have many a sleepless night contemplating…”  He looked as if he were going to say something more but then slightly shook his head and strode off joining Sire Maanikx Brohmi, the plant manager.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Alone again in his Meditation Vestibule, Anson sat kneeling upon his heels, the weave of his hakama almost coarse against his skin.  His torso was shirtless, the muscles of his well toned and tanned body in perfect symmetry, tense and corded.  Inhaling slowly, Anson felt himself wade into the stream of Time as he opened himself to his Flow-walking.  Master Varel’Zo had taught him well.

As the current of Time carried him forward, he witnessed new sights that his previous Walk had not shown him…but one and all, they were different iterations upon the same event.

A cataclysm.  The surface of Galtea was rent in explosive scars, scorched with fire, drenched with blood.  And, at the end of his Walk the same, black horrific aftermath that had haunted him, fueling his nightmares, waking or otherwise.

The Void.

Anson’s eyes shot open, his body drawing in great, deep gulps of breath, his body drenched with sweat.  ...Still…!  Even now…?! He thought.  But his mind was drawn to earlier, to the odd conversation that he’d had with Kazic.  He had not thought as much of it before, just that the Anzat was trying another tactic…enough to bother, like a small splinter, but now…

…Now…could his focus have been wrong?  Was that Anson’s mistake?  He’d been so engrossed with the threat from without…what if he’d…ignored what he had secretly suspected for years now?  What…what if that…girl…was somehow…involved with those two dangerous Force-users that had been the cause of Coruscant’s Night of Madness as it was now known as?  

Anson calmed himself, making plans.  He knew what he needed to do, the proof that he sought.  He didn’t smile; he took no pleasure in what he planned to do.  But, unlike the Jedi on Coruscant, Anson would do what was necessary.

The Vhal’Dan deserved to survive.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 18, 2018, 02:23:57 PM
An excellent entry.  I loved the way Kazic and Valens shared a moment, born in the Fire they had both experienced.  And the fact that Valens is able to recognize the gift of the way Ari was treated warmed my heart.

And Anson...   More and more he's creating the very thing he fears.  In his attempt to end a war before it starts, he's creating a war that didn't exist.  He's the very thing he fears - the real cause of the destruction of his home.

Dutchman, this is amazing.  Well thought out and detailed.  Thank you for sharing it!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 18, 2018, 05:53:36 PM
I can only echo Karm, a very poignant moment of two galaxy weary soldiers...they both fought, killed, made a lot of mistakes...yet somehow both know they will make many more.  Yet Kazic interaction with Ansosn was the most interesting, we was right, completely right, yet completely wrong at the same time...this is the painful irony at the heart of this story encapsulated.


Valens warning (prophecy?) about great men falling - “We must be careful not to join them…” might've been better suited to Anson at this point. Faced with Kazics admission he sees it as a trick and tries to look ahead again - As Yoda cautioned always looking to the future, never on where he was and what he was doing.
 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 19, 2018, 06:44:21 AM
I find it interesting that both Anson and Kazic use different forms of precognition techniques.  Anson's flow walking and Kazic...  I can never remember the term, but it reminds me of ley lines...

But my point: they both look into and try to interpret a future that is fluid and unsettled.  And while its clearer with Anson both men are guilty of setting up their own self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Perhaps the reason for Kazic's death-bed confession?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 19, 2018, 09:00:58 AM
I find it interesting that both Anson and Kazic use different forms of precognition techniques.  Anson's flow walking and Kazic...  I can never remember the term, but it reminds me of ley lines...

But my point: they both look into and try to interpret a future that is fluid and unsettled.  And while its clearer with Anson both men are guilty of setting up their own self-fulfilling prophecies. 

Perhaps the reason for Kazic's death-bed confession?
The daen nosi my friend  ;)

Actually, you've hit on a very subtle thread I've been including in this and how such precognition is a double-edged sword.  And you've hit on another point for Kazic's confession...but I don't want to ruin the surprise  ;D

I can only echo Karm, a very poignant moment of two galaxy weary soldiers...they both fought, killed, made a lot of mistakes...yet somehow both know they will make many more.  Yet Kazic interaction with Ansosn was the most interesting, we was right, completely right, yet completely wrong at the same time...this is the painful irony at the heart of this story encapsulated.


Valens warning (prophecy?) about great men falling - “We must be careful not to join them…” might've been better suited to Anson at this point. Faced with Kazics admission he sees it as a trick and tries to look ahead again - As Yoda cautioned always looking to the future, never on where he was and what he was doing.
 
SO TRUE^^


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on April 19, 2018, 10:42:01 PM
Wow, that was awesome. Backlit by the Southern Lights, Valens and Kazic talk. That is all. It was cool to see Valens like this. Almost a different side than we have ever seen before. But like LSG said, his talk with Anson was the most interesting, and not only that, but what Anson does with it. I'm scared for Galtea and the Vhal'Dan, but we know they survive. One thing that I really like is how you are explaining why Kazic would have Anson's saber when he first meats Zearic, and what his connection to the saber is. It isn't just something to remember him by, it is an object that has a deep meaning to Kazic, and there is some emotions attached to it. We got a sense of it in that interlude, but that was all. It is good to see it getting fleshed out.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 20, 2018, 10:54:46 AM
I feel that I would be remiss unless I gave proper credit: LSG deserves writing credit as he wrote a fair bit of this chapter, which I've included almost verbatim.  So, this is dedicated to LSG  ;)
**************************************************
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gKXu1n/Kallus_Caught_in_Explosion.png) (https://ibb.co/gKXu1n)

Chapter 11: Beyond the Pale

The week had passed quickly.  Surprisingly—or perhaps not, given that Ari wanted to take with her the possessions accumulated over four years—there was quite a bit to pack and store for the voyage with her People.  And while she’d almost finished, she still needed to get some of her things from Jorol and Tsarvung’s home.  

But before she left, she stopped Saani and Kazic, an eager expression upon her face.

Ari held out both hands; in each were two small marbles…to call them black was an understatement…their nature was misty to Kazic's infravision, the edges not fully defined.  Blue sparks of energy flickered from each of Ari’s fingers and onto each marble in turn…her fingers moved with rapid grace performing operations and changes that were too complex and quick for Kazic to follow…yet he could feel the basic premise of what was occurring…it was some kind of Force based programming.

“Here,” she handed one to him and one to Saani,

“What is it?” Saani inquired slightly shocked at the weight of the small sphere.

“It’s a…” Kiraea tickled at the back of Ari’s mind in the beat between words she argued with the older women about what she could and couldn’t tell them…of course Ari would do what Kiraea said, she was a Guardian, but she was still allowed to argue her case.
 
“A communications device…you have to…you have to delve the one in your hand a little…its like a genetic imprinting in the force...then I do the same to these two and we swap.”

“A personally coded Peer to Peer comms device that uses the Force,” Kazic determined as Ari nodded already sensing his understanding before he spoke…while still beyond his ability to comprehend fully he had a reasonable idea of the underlying theory, somewhat like a holocron, Force telepathy and a quantum entanglement network combined in a way he couldn’t fathom without years of study…or a direct implantation of the knowledge as Ari must've received from Valens or Kiraea.

“That way we can stay in contact no matter how far away we are.”

“How does it work?” Sanni inquired as she gently pressed her mind into the unnervingly…hungry was the only word she could use to describe it…sphere.

“I…can’t tell you…” her aqua eyes looking down in disappointment.  “Kiraea says only People are allowed to know…she didn’t want me to give you them at all…but Jarys said it was alright.”

Kazic’s eyes darted up looking around the room, unable to trust his ability to sense Ari's peoples presence...he had expected there would be more of them somewhere...Valens was too cunning not to have backups and several extraction options.

“Jarys? Is Jarys…here?”

“Oh…” Ari looked around uncomfortably, both Saani and Kazic could sense she didn’t like keeping her Peoples secrets from them but her culture left her no option.
“He’s…busy in the city…they weren’t sure I was safe here...or you'd let me go…he’ll take the bombs they brought away…”

Saani’s eye widened at the thought of what contingencies Ari’s people may have unleashed had they tried to keep Ari from them…Kazic though concerned couldn’t help a wry smile.  …So much for your security screenings and orbital traffic controls Anson…

Sensing their disquiet Ari offered something positive.  “But things are changing…Valens says the Guardian system is not well adapted to our new environment…so when I get back Kiraea and Jarys are going to teach me all the Guardians ways…we’ll all be the same now….”  She reached out taking the spheres they had delved and giving them hers in return.

“Maybe one day things will change even more and I’ll be able to show you how these work…”

As Ari’s voice trailed off, she looked up to Saani and Kazic.  Seeing their love for her, she quickly wrapped her arms around them, all three holding one another in a tight embrace.

            <<<<< >>>>>

“You know that you are always welcome in our house, Ari.”  Jorol and Tsarvung warmly hugged Ari in turn, their three children—all teenagers now—behind them.  Syrena and D’arial were still apprenticed as teidowans, although D’arial was to take her Gray Trials in the forthcoming month.  And as luck would have it, Arnis was on holiday from his anthropology school, visiting home for the first time in the season.

All of them had grown up around each other and considered Ari their favorite “cousin.”  As such, her leaving was particularly emotional for their family.  And for Ari; aside from Saani and Kazic, Jorol and Tsar had been a second home that she had grown to love.  And to aspire to: theirs was a family that Ari thought of as perfect.  And after Saani and Kazic, they were the people she loved most.

As the day wore long, the shadows of dusk began to appear.  Knowing that Valens wanted to disembark tonight, Ari made her final goodbyes, exiting Jorol and Tsar’s apartments ahead of Kazic and Saani, bittersweet tears still upon her cheeks while she put one foot in front of the other, lost in thought.

It was how she found herself surrounded by almost a dozen Vhal’Dan sentinels, their distinct gray, white, and gold armor gleaming in the light of the setting sun.  Quickly recalling herself, she drew in the aether, her senses flooding with stimuli as she slowly backed towards Saani and Kazic, standing beside them.  

Arrayed in a semicircle, the Vhal’Dan sentinels stood tall within the large courtyard.  As specialists in Galtean Home Security, the sentinels were typically armed to the teeth: all carried a saberstaff, multiple sabers, vibroknives, a variety of grenades, and more than one was armed with a thermal detonator.  Their presence meant that a powerful Force-user was to be apprehended as an “enemy of the state.”

One of the sentinels stepped forward, his saberstaff in hand but not ignited.  “Aresaea K’aval?  Come with us at once.”  

“What is the meaning of this?”  Kazic’s voice boomed, challenging the sentinels, faceless under the armored masks of their station.  He stepped in front of Ari as Saani did likewise, the two Speakers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in their armor, an atmosphere of menace and power radiating off of them even though they were empty-handed.  “On what charges?  Under whose authority?”  Despite the commanding tone in Kazic’s voice, the sentinels did not back down.

“Mine.”

The sentinels parted, revealing Anson wearing his full tactical armor.  The Arbiter walked forward, saber hilt in hand, his eyes unwavering as he stared at Ari.  “This girl is a spy against the Vhal’Dan.”  Standing only a meter away, Anson turned his eyes from Saani and Kazic and back.  “I have foreseen calamity being visited upon the Vhal’Dan and know that this girl is involved.  She has never sworn the Oaths, she is not a Vhal’Dan, she isn’t even human!  And you both…invited her to live among us.”  As Anson shook his head, his brown hair swayed slightly, the calm, cool breeze of the wind incongruous with the heated atmosphere of tension that pervaded the entire courtyard.  “No.  She’s coming with us.”  He reached a hand towards Ari.

Faster than thought, Kazic’s hand shot up, clamping down upon Anson’s forearm in a vice-like grip.  His face remained expressionless but the intensity of his eyes belied his anger.  “Not human…like you, Anson?”  Kazic intoned deliberately.  “The hell she is.  You will not touch her.”  With that, all sentinels ignited their saberstaves, the yellow blades casting an unnatural pall upon all.  Saani, Kazic, and Anson still stood empty-handed, Anson even breaking out in a slowly spreading smile.  No one moved for a moment.  The setting sun had turned the sky a dark-violet purple, like a bruise underneath the skin.

And then five of the sentinels rushed the two Speakers.  A second before they were within arms length, all five flew backwards as if caught in a tempest gust, smashing them against (and through) the old courtyard walls.  Saani and Kazic ignited their sabers almost in unison, standing side-by-side, Anson and the remaining seven sentinels moving to flank the two.

Suddenly, Anson and his sentinels went down to their knees, all limbs frozen as if the air had hardened into ferrocrete.  Although only Anson’s eyes were visible, Kazic imagined that all of those belonging to the sentinels were likewise fervently looking around, bulging from heads that were locked in place.  And in the middle stood a figure that had begun to radiate purple electricity, lightning beginning to arc from her hands and legs, arms and torso.

Ari stood, eyes half-lidded, in the midst of the courtyard, near the wall that was broken from the sentinels that had crashed through it.  She no longer looked like a young woman; she looked like a force of nature.  Cascading from her fingers, her feet, her eyes, lightning forked outward, a cloud of fire beginning to form around her.  Her pupils and irises were no longer visible and her clenched teeth seemed to glow, indeed her entire body looked as if it had ignited.

“You see now Kazic!  This is what you’ve brought amongst the Vhal’Dan!”  Anson’s head did not need to move in order for him to witness Ari’s transformation.

Anson’s words penetrated Ari’s state, her aqua eyes blinking, focus returning as her head made brief turns to either side, uncertain as to what had precisely occurred.  She went from appearing like an avatar of light to what she was: a frightened, hunted young woman.  “…S…Saani?”  Ari’s head swiveled searching for the Twi’lek woman.  And as Saani moved to join Ari where she stood, a pair of armored arms suddenly encircled the young woman in a crushing bear hug.

One of the sentinels that had flown through the wall had recovered.  And while he had lost his saberstaff and shoto, he still had a thermal detonator on his belt.  And as he grabbed Ari, in one of his hands he held and activated the device, arming the “dead-man’s switch.”

“Back off, both of you!”  He yelled at Saani and Kazic, then directing his shouts at his prisoner.  “Don’t move girl!  You know what this is, what it can do.  One false move, and I’ll vaporize your parents and this entire courtyard…”  Even hidden by his mask, the tone of his voice sounded angry, dangerous.

Ari heard it, all of that and more.  She knew that this man was threatening her family.  Kazic…her teacher.  And Saani…

Saani.  Her mother.

Before the sentinel even knew what was happening to him, he was gripped in unbreakable tethers of the Force, crushing muscle, tendon, and bone.  His hand was bound in a solid cube of air, his fingers unable to move an iota even if he had wanted to do so.  And with speed born from her anger within the aether, Ari…propelled the man away from her.  As he was standing at her back, he flew towards Jorol and Tsarvung’s apartments, hitting the front door.  But so vehement was her rage, the furious reaction of her emotions translated directly to force.  The door crumpled against the onslaught of the sentinel’s body, the resulting collision also breaking every bone in this body and rupturing several organs.  Inertia carried the body through the bottom floor of the apartments, collapsing several walls.  The entire building complex shook as a result, everyone in the courtyard momentarily stunned by the violence of the still-shaking structure.

Ari was about to run in when she was grabbed by Kazic and Saani, the two Speakers pulling her to the ground.  Ari was about to shout at the Anzati Master, her confusion matched by her concern for the family inside, her anger still hot, raw, and causing her to lash out.

Then the thermal detonator exploded.

The primary shock wave pulverized the first, second, and third floors of the apartments.  The ensuing fireball that engulfed the residence tore through the already weakened structure, igniting multiple fires as furniture caught ablaze.  One of the sentinels that had not taken cover was thrown bodily from the courtyard, landing out of sight.  Finally, the entire building collapsed in upon itself, producing an expanding cloud of detritus, soot, and metal dust.

Everyone in the courtyard stared wide-eyed, mouths agape.  In a flurry of motion, Kazic, Saani, and Anson ran towards the destroyed building, searching for any sign of life.  The sentinels—those that were still conscious—were attempting to contact Fire- and Civil-Services.  Meanwhile, a crowd was beginning to congregate in front of the courtyard.  

Lips quivering, Ari sank to her knees, tears flowing, her face a mask of desperation, abject horror, and grief.  Her open mouth was wide in a silent scream that impotently keened against the backdrop of ruination.  Putting her fists against either side of her head, she slowly began to sway back and forth, her eyes crushed shut against the hellish tableau of her extended family’s devastated home.

“Ari…Ari!  ARI!!”  Saani’s hands and voice were consoling, her firm but gentle embrace a salve against the terror that threatened to overwhelm her.  “This is NOT your fault!  Do you hear me?  NOT YOUR FAULT!”  She felt Saani’s hands caress her face.  “Dear One…I’m here…I’m here…”  And while part of her was grateful, another part felt numb…numb for fear that she would become inundated with anguish.

“Saani!  SAANI!  Please come help me, I’ve found D’arial!”  Kazic held the small, dusky skinned teidowan in his arms, blood covering the young woman.  Her left arm was bent the wrong way and the jagged bone of her femur was protruding from her leg.  But she was breathing.

“Help me!”  Anson shouted at the sentinels as he half-dragged, half-carried Jorol from the wreckage of the upstairs bedrooms.  The dark maenowan was missing his right leg below the knee and he was bleeding profusely from several lacerations, two severe.  As a temporary triage was set up in the courtyard, several emergency personnel began to arrive.  The night had turned completely black, further accentuating the fires that continued to consume the apartments.

And as the night wore on, more and more people came to help, putting out fires, offering an extra pair of hands, or providing a blanket, food, water.  But they found no more survivors.

            <<<<< >>>>>

“And you—unilaterally—made this decision, Anson?”  Arkady’s blue eyes could have been ice for all of the warmth that they held.  The small Kage’s stance was rigid and he seemed to loom taller than the Arbiter despite being 10 centimeters shorter.

“…Yes, Kage.  I am responsible.”  Anson’s jaw was clenched, the muscles in his jowls rippling.  He still was covered in soot and dust and he had a look of distress on his face.  “I…I did not intend for anything like what happened to occur… I… I’m sorry.”  He lowered his eyes.  “…It…it was my fault.”

Besides him, Kazic glared at the Arbiter, his own face the worse for wear as he’d come straight to the Kage’s Offices from the wreckage site.  And despite the look he gave, he was silent.

Arkady never so much as blinked.  “Yes, it is.  Anson D’Aklon, you are arrested.  You are hereby formally stripped of title and office.  You will stand trial for the deaths of twelve people, the destruction of property, and breaching the peace.”  Arkady spoke to the sentinels behind Anson.  “Bailiffs, escort the prisoner to his cell.”  And as he was led away, Anson left silently, grief and remorse evident upon his face.

Arkady did not move; he turned his head, addressing Kazic.  “First Speaker Kazic Ovarug, you are to assume the station and duties of Arbiter until such a time that a formal election can be conducted.  This appointment is immediate and done on my authority, under the Vhal’Dan Articles of Impeachment.”  As the room cleared of everyone, leaving only Kazic and the Kage, Arkady’s shoulders slightly but visibly sank a few centimeters, his voice relaxing somewhat.  “Kazic…Anson will answer for what he’s done.  I promise you.”

The taller Anzat looked down at his Kage and nodded, opening his mouth to speak…but no words came forth.  Arkady put his hand on his friend’s shoulder.  “…I am so sorry my friend.  I didn’t know Tsarvung like you nor his children but… Please accept my condolences.”  Kazic put his hand upon Arkady’s, briefly nodding again before moving to walk from the Kage’s Offices.  But once he got into the doorway, he stopped, talking over his shoulder.

“…Thank you, Arkady.  But it’s to Jorol that you should offer them… Tonight he lost not only his husband but his son and daughter as well…”  Kazic thought of Arnis and Syrena and how they had had their entire lives in front of them… “At least it looks as though D’arial is going to pull through…”  He whispered the last, remembering the tears on her dark face as she called for her fathers, Jorol’s broken body racked with sobbing as he repeated the names of his lost husband and children.  …Damn you Anson…

And he still had to deal with the situation at home…

            <<<<< >>>>>

“…No Dear One, Kazic is right.  It’s best if you go with your People like you’d planned.”  Saani’s patient voice was as soothing as the gentle rubbing of her hands upon Ari’s shoulders.  Ari’s forlorn face turned towards the Twi’lek womans, her aqua eyes watery as she stared into Saani’s purple irises.

“…But…I…I want to help…I want…for Jorol…and D’arial…for them to be…I want to…”  Her voice trailed off as she began to cry anew, her quiet tears rolling down her cheeks.

Ari had thought that in joining Valens, perhaps she was taking an extended vacation.  Now, especially in light of the tragedy that had befallen Jorol’s family, she was loathe to leave any of them.  But Kazic knew…even though she was in NO way responsible for what had happened, there were already whispers suggesting such, championing Anson, and questioning the Kage’s decision to incarcerate the former Arbiter.  Ari would be safer with her People, away from Galtea.  …Damn you Anson… He thought not for the first time tonight.

“Ari, Dear One, we know that you want to help—Maker knows that we love you for it—but you must go with Valens, with Kiraea, with your People.  They also need you, just as much if not more than we do.”  He fondly ran his hand through her long red hair.  “Thanks to you, we can always speak to one another with your gift…” He indicated the small orb upon the table in the front Atrium.  “…and will be right here whenever you need us.”  Kazic’s eyes looked kind, transported back all those years when he’d first met her at Yavin 4.  “Know this Dear One: you are our daughter, Saani’s and mine.  You will always have family here.”  Bowing, he gently kissed her upon the top of her head, quickly followed by Saani’s own kisses.

By the time Ari had given her final hugs and goodbyes, the Galtean sunrise was beginning to alight the western horizon.  But it was a false dawn, at least for Kazic.  He knew that the events of the previous evening would act as the harbinger of the coming conflict, the underlying tensions finally given a face, an issue for people to polarize to either side.  For that, he was grateful that Ari would be spared.

But for the Vhal’Dan, he knew that it would tear the Order asunder.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 20, 2018, 11:40:34 AM
Well...   That wasn't how I saw that one going down. 

I am still more than a little worried about Aethan involvement, but I think I am starting to see a clearer pathway now.  This is not going to be pretty...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 20, 2018, 04:28:02 PM
Well I only wrote the first section, so the next part was completely new to me...and Wow...once again we see the irony that is built so brilliantly into this entire series at at play...Ari is a danger - crippling the entire squad - Anson is RIGHT ...yet he is also terribly terribly wrong and creating a self fulfilling prophecy of destruction... and the worst of it...the people it hurts the most are the very one he is trying to protect...but at least he shows contrition after the fact - still its a dangerous time, even more so that before...that explosion i fear was simply the first flash...barely a firecracker compared to what may come.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 24, 2018, 12:58:02 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/k9QAyc/bridge_of_chains_1800.jpg) (https://ibb.co/k9QAyc)

Chapter 12: Entropy

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Vhal’Dan Congress
Baransu no Kage: Arkady Cyne
 Arbiter: Kazic Ovarug
  Council of Balance:
  1st: Saani K’aval
  2nd: Pytir Danisen
  3rd: J’Nessah Raanh
  4th: Corvus Watashi
  5th: Auryn Kerosin’e
  6th: Sarith Tovar
  7th: Ryshhk K’rrmerii
****************************************
 “For the next order of business, I turn to podium over to the Arbiter.”  Arkady’s gruff voice rang through the Hall of Balance, a hushed tone coming over the entire crowd.  Whether it was from awe, respect, or disapproval, Kazic couldn’t decide.  But neither did he particularly care; he’d been officially confirmed as Arbiter, if by the narrowest of margins.  Regardless, he would fulfill the duties of the office to the best of his ability.  Which for right now meant…

“Kage.  Council members.  My fellow Gray Jedi.  During the past four years, my predecessor worked tirelessly to safeguard the Vhal’Dan, often times to the detriment of some personal freedoms.  You are all very aware of my position against such infringements and will not digress further except to say this: we need to reinstitute those liberties which have been categorically contravened in the pursuit of defense.  I also propose that the Vhal’Dan keep the protective measures in place that do not impugn upon our freedoms.  I call a vote for Congress.”  He was almost certain that his proposal had nothing to do with the appearance of the daen nosi, not after what they’d learned from Valens…

Kazic sat, some scattered applause coming from the audience within the Hall—it was an open session—but his submissions were met with tepid reactions and, mostly, silence.  That scared him more than just a little, given what it implied.  …They’ve gotten too used to sacrificing freedoms for safety…or…they really do believe the rumors concerning Ari and her People… Still, for all of his trepidation, Kazic’s face remained impassive.  Although with the daen nosi twisting across his peripheral vision, he almost wanted to scratch at his eyes…

“The Arbiter has recalled the initiative for the suspension of liberties and the reinstitution of said freedoms.  Speakers: cast your vote.”  Even as Arkady spoke, Kazic could tell which way six of the seven Speakers would vote.  But the Seventh Speaker…

Kazic did not know Ryshhk K’rrmerii, the rare Wookie Gray Master, except by reputation.  Fearless both within battle as well as politics, Master Ryshhk K’rrmerii had kept his own counsel in almost all of the major decisions of the last four years.  And although there were whispers that he was in Anson’s camp—well, “former”—the Wookie had not stood to be counted with any particular faction, which was extremely odd given the Order’s current proclivities to polarize virtually everyone.  …Well, I guess that I’ll just find out alongside everyone else…

Recalling himself to the present, Kazic saw that all votes had been cast and tallied.  He turned his eyes towards the short Kage, Arkady’s face unreadable.  Arkady quietly intoned.  “For repeal: Arbiter Kazic Ovarug, 1st Speaker Saani K’aval, 4th Speaker Corvus Watashi, 6th Speaker Sarith Tovar.  Against: 2nd Speaker Pytir Danisen, 3rd Speaker J’Nessah Raanh, 5th Speaker Auryn Kerosin’e, 7th Speaker Ryshhk K’rrmerii.”  Admittedly, Sarith’s vote surprised Kazic; she’d been in Anson’s camp almost exclusively since viewing the holofeed from the Night of Madness on Coruscant.  He was glad that she’d switched, especially now that Speaker Ryshhk’s allegiance had become apparent.  Still, the result was a tie…which, thankfully meant…

“I, Kage Arkady Cyne, shall cast the deciding vote.  I vote for repeal.  The Vhal’Dan will make the necessary preparations that the Arbiter has proposed; please see to it, Speakers.”  The silence from the audience was palpable.  Kazic knew that even Gray Masters would be reticent in openly speaking against—much less defying—the Kage…but it was clear that the decision was not the most popular… And still the daen nosi distracted the Anzati Master.

As the Kage called the session to a close, Kazic was still pondering just which course the Vhal’Dan should next take, given that he no knew that he had an uphill battle with Congress split.  Too many were still loyal to Anson, even now incarcerated as he was…

K’ompo…have you forgotten?”  Saani’s quiet voice sounded from beside his chair.

“…Sorry, Kanp’a.  Too much on my mind.  You’re right; let’s get this over with.”  The tall Anzati stood, falling beside his wife as she began to lead him from the Hall of Balance, hoping that what came next would give clarification for the daen nosi… But before they’d cleared the Council’s Dais, Arkady stepped in front of them.

“Excuse me, Speaker, Arbiter…I need to discuss the newest measure with you both.”  Arkady’s voice was tired, his face even moreso.  He seemed to have aged considerably since the Vhal’Dan had militarized.  Still, his back was ramrod straight, his demeanor absolutely stalwart.  “I know that you both saw and felt the atmosphere within the Hall.  That last measure was passed with the barest of consensus; I happen to know from outside sources that we’ll be lucky to get a plurality for most initiatives and that today’s win was a fluke.”  His blue eyes were tight with concern.

Kazic shook his head.  “I know you’re right; Saani and I were just having that discussion last night.  Arkady, I’ll be more than happy to discuss this tomorrow but tonight I’m afraid that Saani and I have to attend to some business of the most vital importance.”  The look on the Kage’s face mirrored the unasked question that he had but he merely nodded his head after a moment.

“So be it; tomorrow then.  In the meantime, both of you be careful.  I’ve…felt a disturbance within the Force.”  His eyes suddenly lost focus as if remembering.  Slightly shaking his head, he scrutinized both Kazic and Saani before politely bowing to them both in turn.  “Good night, Speaker, Arbiter.”  And with that, he was headed back to the Kage’s Offices.  The daen nosi looped around the Hall, disappearing over the horizon.

Kazic sighed.  “Come, K’ompo, let us finish what it is we need to do…”  Saani’s gentle insistence was a welcome distraction.  Nodding his head, he followed his wife to the exit, headed not to their apartments but rather towards one of the ancient freight elevators that serviced the Underworks of Vhal’Uhladv proper…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Ryshhk was shocked when Second Speaker Pytir Danisen answered the door himself, so much so that his Shyriiwook reverted back to his childhood dialect.  […Speaker!  Most humble apologies; I did not realize that your domicile was so…informal].  He almost immediately recognized his mistake after taking one look at Pytir’s confused face.  He was about to restate his comment with the bastard tongue Shyriiwook that almost all Wookies adopted around humans when a throaty deep yet feminine voice came from behind the human Speaker.

“Pytir, you’ve surprised our fellow Speaker with your…impropriety.”  The owner of the voice came into view, her dark almost black face split in a smile as she looked Ryshhk up and down, as if weighing him.  Whatever she decided, the dark human woman must have decided that she liked what she saw.  “Good evening Master K’rrmerii.  Your presence here is most welcome.  Please don’t mind my consort; he’s just busy planning a coup…”

At first, Ryshhk didn’t know what to make of the scene but then started laughing, a gruff, guttural sound coming from the Wookie’s chest.  [Well met, Speaker J’Nessah Raanh.  I did not expect for any of my…comrades to be able to understand my milk tongue Shyriiwook.  Clearly you have spent some time around Wookies…]?

J’Nessah’s grin deepened.  “Indeed Master K’rrmerii.  You see, I’m originally from Ska Gora.”  Ryshhk growled knowingly.  Ska Gora.  One of the first planets to experience the Great Wookie Emigration and later the Wookie Land Wars millennia ago.  Now: it was a protectorate planet that had thrived under the Second Wookie invasion fleet and a virtual paradise.  “And if I may be so bold Master K’rrmerii, may I offer you some Thikkiian brandy?”

The Wookie Speaker was again taken aback.  He’d not had Thikkiian brandy since he was last on Kashyyyk… The fact that this human woman knew of it—much less its popularity among Wookies—was proof-positive that she was indeed familiar with Wookie culture.  [My profuse thanks, Speaker.  Yes, yes I will gladly accept your offer of Thikkiian brandy].  The dark-skinned Speaker smiled again.

“So formal, Master K’rrmerii.  Please, we are comrades here.  Call me J’Nessah.”  Even as she stepped forward to offer the Wookie a cup, their height disparity was almost…comical: although she was tall for a human, J’Nessah was still over half a meter shorter than Ryshhk.  Closing the door behind him, the dark Speaker led the Wookie into a large room, pleasantly muted yet light and airy.  Appreciatively, Ryshhk noticed that living trees were interwoven with the durasteel framing of the building, creating a unique tableau marrying nature and technology.  There were several others there in attendance already gathered, most talking easily while holding some exotic drink in hand…

“Friends…please welcome Seventh Speaker Master Ryshhk K’rrmerii.  Pytir had approached him last week after Anson’s unfortunate arrest.  He is one of us.”  J’Nessah turned from the crowd to the Wookie.  “Master Ryshhk…allow me to introduce you to the like-minded Jedi of the Vhal’Dan.”  Each name she said, Ryshhk repeated to himself.  But the three that stood out most were those that he’d heard quite a lot about.

Auryn Kerosin’e.  Sarith Tovar.  Messer Subiah Fuqua.

[Excuse me, Maenowan Subiah Fuqua.  But I am an admirer and fellow aficionado of Ancient Massassi lore.  I’ve read almost all of your treatises on the subject.  I am honored to make your acquaintance].  Ryshhk put both of his hands over his heart, bowing to the human in front of him.

The tall, fat maenowan looked slightly embarrassed.  Thankfully J’Nessah was by their sides within moments.  “Professor Fuqua, Master K’rrmerii is a student of Massassi lore and an ardent fan.”  Within seconds, the maenowan was preening under the attention he was receiving.  After several minutes, a quiet yet deliberate, wet-sounding cough echoed throughout the room, gaining the attention of everyone present.  All eyes turned towards the Mon Calamari that had called for attention.

“Sires, sirras, fellow Grays…I’ve called you all here for the express purpose of the survival of the Vhal’Dan.”  His gurgling voice resounded through the room and, although not particularly tall, Second Speaker Pytir Danisen loomed larger than life, such was the aura of his presence.  He purposely wrapped his webbed hand in a fist, his two thumbs shaking with obvious determination.  “And our best course of action is to secure the freedom of our august director, leader, and one true Arbiter: Anson D’Aklon.”

A collective whisper went through the crowd, one that was not so much full of surprise but rather one full of support.  But one voice—again, not in dissent but rather inquisitive—rose above all.  Unsurprisingly, it belonged to Ryshhk.  [A thousand pardons, Speaker.  But just what is it that you are proposing]?  Turning his fish-like eyes towards the Wookie Master, the Mon Calamari Speaker continued.

“Simple.”  He paused for effect.  “I submit to you all…that we need a new Kage…”

            <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic carefully entered the code, Saani cross checked them for a fifth time—
 
<F83LL1CK_F4CE_DO0M5DAY_L0V3_K1?1>

After the tragedy Ari’s parting had been as swift as Valens was displeased.

“There was a time such an affront would not have gone unpunished…” he had seethed from behind his armoured helm, they had all adopted full armour black as the volcanic glass of the Cthodral Mountains, with one male Kazic assumed—or hoped—was Jarys assigned as Ari’s body guard, no longer trusting just Kazic and Saani to protect her anymore—and not without reason Kazic had to painfully acknowledge—before they departed…. When he had seen the huge Oblivion sword on the man’s back he briefly wondered what would’ve become of the Vhal’Dan Sentinels had they faced THAT trying to arrest Ari.    

“…thank your Gods that time is past.” Valens had finished.

Kazic had done little but stand silently as Valens offered what to him were likely concessions earned by virtue of Ari considering them family, simply thankful he was there to hold Kiraea’s leash as she had paced in a circle around the Anzat.

And so his finger hovered over the “Confirm Code” button on the panel in the under works of the city amidst heavy support columns, Saani holding a glow lamp over their head to dispel the darkness.

He pressed.

The icon swirled in a circle and briefly Kazic worried he had entered it incorrectly until relief flooded from Saani as the [DISENGAGED] message appeared on the crate sized thermo-nuclear device Kazic barely recognized as being of Chiss design.

Only after Ari had left, and Valens was "satisfied no one is following us" had he sent the deactivation codes and explained how to dispel the force illusions covering it.  Still Kazic would never be fully convinced there wasn’t another—or several—left somewhere on the planet.

Exhaling a breath that he didn’t realize that he’d been holding, he finally relaxed himself.  Once again he was reminded of the violence inherent in Ari’s People…but nor could he blame them.  Especially since it was the Vhal’Dan who had perpetrated violence first.  Or at least Anson’s faction; but that ultimately was arguing details.  

Sinking to his knees, Kazic closed his eyes, feeling Saani’s hands upon his broad shoulders.  “Thank you, Kanp’a.  But we’ve spent enough time down here…”

Nodding, Saani helped her husband up, placing a gentle hand upon his gray cheek.  “Agreed K’ompo.  Let’s go home.”

So exhausted was Kazic that he was already half-way home on the lift before he noticed that the daen nosi were still undulating around his peripheral vision, the portent of such guaranteed to keep him awake regardless of how tired he was.

…Damn…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 24, 2018, 01:16:02 PM
uh oh....    So in the end the Aethans end up being a huge, dangerous ... red herring!  ;-)

In all seriousness, I love the development of this.  Things that looked like the solution to the problem, the cause or effect, are all getting jumbled up and reversed.  And in the end, the real problem ends up being ... a Jedi who thinks he can know the future.

Oops.

Dutchman, I am again just overawed by your plotting and attention to detail on this one.  Well done!  I kinda know what happens, but as they say the devil is in the details and I cannot wait for those details to be revealed!

Keep 'em coming! 



Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on April 24, 2018, 08:42:44 PM
Nice. This was awesome. I know I've said it before, but I actually really enjoy the politics in SW. And yours are awesome. But not only that, but your work with the Aethans has been incredible. Well done.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 24, 2018, 10:29:18 PM
Partisan politics, factionalism...attempts to ingratiate a new member of the Speakers with a beverage from his home....this is politics done well if terribly disturbing for what it portends. The KAge by using his tie breaker has lost (in the minds of the faction that lost) his neutrality, once the head of state is no longer trusted like that, there is only one way and it ain't up, how long before Anson is declared a political prisoner...and the momentum becomes too strong to stop.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 25, 2018, 06:22:23 AM
Partisan politics, factionalism...attempts to ingratiate a new member of the Speakers with a beverage from his home....this is politics done well if terribly disturbing for what it portends. The KAge by using his tie breaker has lost (in the minds of the faction that lost) his neutrality, once the head of state is no longer trusted like that, there is only one way and it ain't up, how long before Anson is declared a political prisoner...and the momentum becomes too strong to stop.

Exactly.  I've been ruminating some on the political structure of this whole thing, and how polarized it has really become.  I think the council members know that, but they're really unable to do anything about it.

This incident may be one reason the Mak'Tor are not more involved in politics on M'Tzigon...  ;-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 25, 2018, 08:31:42 AM
You guys are GOOD.  And, of course, right.

To wit (and to quote Carl von Clausewitz): "War is the continuation of politics by other means."


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 25, 2018, 05:04:25 PM

(https://thumb.ibb.co/cuvSWx/76e658c520c85eeb5462b60448811338.jpg) (https://ibb.co/cuvSWx)

Chapter 13: The Articles of War

Now…
“…and with the yield on this years exports, we’ll be able to increase imports on hyperdrive components from Kal'Shebbol, servo-neuromotors from Karideph, and indigenous granite from M’Tzigon.”  Arkady’s gruff voice resounded through the Hall of Balance, the audience unusually large, even considering the open session.  As Kazic casually scanned the crowd, he guessed that almost all of the Vhal’Dan Jedi on Galtea were in attendance.  Just that fact alone would not bode well…to say nothing of the whispers that he had been hearing about recently.  …Damn… he thought, and not for the first time.  The daen nosi had not disappeared.

Mentally shaking his head, he resumed his focus just as the Kage was finishing things up.  “…final reports concerning the Sons all but confirm that the Black Sun agency has destroyed most of the organization; at worst, the Sons have scattered as a result of the massacres.  Consequently, initial reports seem to suggest that the Hutts have been actively working on annexing the territories formerly under the Sons’ ‘protection.’”  Arkady laid down the datapad.  “This concludes the latest reports from Vhal’Dan Intelligence.”  He took a deliberate breath.  “And without anything more, I formerly call—”

“A moment, Kage.”  Rising to his feet, Second Speaker Pytir Danisen stood, the Mon Cal’s large eyes staring directly at Arkady as he interrupted the small human.  “I must interject these proceedings with a Congressional proposition.”  He remained standing, dramatically hesitating so everyone within the Hall could hear.

…Ah, so this is why the Hall is so full… Kazic’s realization over his earlier reservations hammered home.

Pytir’s presence pervaded the entire Hall, his voice ringing throughout the building.  And if it was quiet before, there was total silence as the Mon Cal Master spoke next.  “I formerly call for a vote of ‘No-confidence’ in Kage Arkady Cyne.”

A collective gasp resounded through the Hall.  Arkady stared at Pytir, not even bothering to hide the look of contempt upon his lined face, his bald-head reflecting the muted light.

And for himself, Pytir’s mouth spread in an ever-widening grin as his proposal sank in to all present…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Then…
“Last night’s measure has shown the delineation across faction lines, Sarith’s vote notwithstanding.  I happen to know that she balked after the forced curfews finally cut into her nighttime proclivities with her clowder-clan.”  Arkady’s throaty guffaws caused him to cough.  After a moment he continued.  “So…I doubt that we’ll get any loyalty from Sarith after last-night’s vote, leaving…”

“…We’re outnumbered.”  Saani finished.  Rubbing her eyes, she then gently tugged on her lekku, hoping to dispense with the headache that she felt.  “I have a bad feeling about this…”

Saani, Arkady, and Kazic were gathered around the table in the Atrium of the Kage’s Suite, the ultramodern décor comfortable and relaxing.  With a wet-bar on one side of the room, the opposite wall was a floor-to-ceiling transparisteel window that looked out from atop the highest point in the center of the city proper.  Spread before them was the sprawling technological urban neighborhoods of the Skyway, a durasteel jungle of mass-transit hyperloops, skyscrapers, and ship berths interspersed along the air-traffic lanes.  But back in the Atrium, the three exhausted tenants sat in various stages of fatigue, cradling glasses holding each person’s favorite liquor.

“Likewise, Kanp’a.”  Kazic stifled a yawn.  “Arkady…there must be something that you can do.  We’re about to find ourselves in a worse predicament despite Anson’s arrest.”  The Anzati Master still felt the anger of Anson’s actions, to say nothing of the fact that he could have been responsible for countless deaths as a result of Ari’s People and their retaliations… “…Dammit…” he said aloud before taking a slow, long drink.  The daen nosi still undulating in his peripheral vision.

“Apropos sentiments, Kazic…but we’re still left with the fact that Pytir will champion Anson’s position, acting as his vanguard to both undermine us as well as go on the offensive.”  Arkady grasped the glass in front of him, drinking down the contents with a single gulp.  Grabbing the bottle of Corellian Whiskey, he first topped of Kazic’s and Saani’s glasses before refilling his own.  This time Arkady slowly drank from the cup, relishing the burning sensation down his throat with each swallow.  “…Maker that’s good; I don’t get home as much as I should but at least I can enjoy some Corellian 24…”  Arkady’s blue eyes lost focus as thoughts of his childhood crept upon him.

His had been a hard life from the start: his entire family had been killed in a land-grab attempt by some of the local robber-barons in the nearby town of Doaba Guerfel, under the guise of “environmental preservation.”  The truth was that they just wanted to annex the Cyne Farm as they’d discovered a large lode of ionite, a primary component in weapons manufacture.  

After the deaths of his parents, three sisters, and four brothers, the robber-barons took then four-year-old Arkady to one of the several orphanages in the Corellian capital of Coronet City where he was housed and trained by the Scion of the Church of Light.  There he became a weapon: learning about poisons, bladed weapons, and the most sophisticated blasters the galaxy could produce.  However, he never forgot about the robber-barons or what they did to his family.

What happened next was ordained by the daen nosi, or so Kazic claimed: the Anzati Master was targeted by the Scion for some presumed trespass which, in reality, was Kazic’s courtship and marriage of Saani.  Arkady was sent to “deal with” the Anzat.  Instead, Kazic recognized the potent Force ability within the teenage Arkady, “convincing” him that the contract against the Anzati Master was a mistake.  First, the three of them dealt with the Scion.

Then, they took care of all of the robber-barons.

When Kazic brought Arkady back to Galtea, the small human progressed by leaps and bounds, soon outstripping almost everyone in terms of raw power and many of Gray Masters in skill.  All the while, Saani, Kazic, and Arkady remained close throughout the years, including the latter’s election to the position of Kage.

“…You know that sooner or later Pytir will call for a vote of ‘No-Confidence.’”  Arkady drank down the remainder of the glass’s contents, refilling it automatically.  “And with that, I believe that he’s got the votes to position himself into the Kage’s office…”  Looking from Saani and to Kazic, Arkady smiled ironically.  “…and Anson will be back as Arbiter as soon as the election cycle is up…”  The small human, shook his head, whispering under his breath, “…this Maker-damned war…”

For a moment, they were all silent.

“…Wait…Arkady, what did you say?”  Saani’s quiet voice made the two men sit straight up, focusing on the Twi’lek Master.

“…um, ‘Anson will be Arbiter again?’”  But even as Arkady spoke, Saani was shaking her head.

“No, after that.”  The look in Saani’s purple eyes made Kazic start to grin; he knew his wife well enough that she’d had a revelation even if he did not know what it might be.  Maybe it would even have something to do with the longevity of the daen nosi

“…um…‘Maker-damned war?’”  The look on Arkady’s face mirrored the confusion in his voice.

Saani’s blue lips slowly spread in a grin.  “Yes.  War.”  She leaned towards both men.  “After all, it was a war that they’d wanted…”

            <<<<< >>>>>

Now…
Arkady was silent.  Pytir looked smug.  Kazic looked impassive.

Saani wanted to laugh.

“Again, I call for a vote of ‘No—’ Pytir slowly repeated, his voice dripping with arrogance.  He’d even assumed a pedantic stance with his hands gripping the lapels of his robes, eyes slowly rotating as the whispers from the assemblage grew in volume.

“Excuse me, Speaker, but you cannot make that proposal at this time.”  Kazic’s voice cut through Pytir’s, the Anzat’s pronouncement silencing the entire Hall.  Kazic smiled inwardly; he had difficulty keeping it from his mouth.

Pytir unintentionally looked from J’Nessah, to Auryn, to Sarith, and finally, Ryshhk.  “…I have every right, Arbiter, to call such a decree before Congress.”  The Mon Cal’s self-satisfied tone began to creep back into his voice.

“You are in error, Speaker.”  Kazic turned from Pytir to address the entire assemblage.  “‘In times of war, a vote of “No-Confidence” must be shelved until such a time that the conflict is over.’”  As he recited the law, Kazic’s head swiveled from one side of the Hall and back again. …Thank the Maker Saani was able to recall ancient Vhal’Dan regulations… he thought, grateful that his wife and provided the answer that they had so desperately needed.  “Article III, Subsection 1, Corollary 4.”  Kazic’s gaze came to rest on Pytir, staring directly into his large eyes.    “There have been no changes in Vhal’Dan policy against the antagonists that my predecessor named as ‘enemies of the state,’ nor has there been a declaration of cessation of our current war footing, ergo: we are still at war.”  Kazic then added almost as an afterthought.  "And a declaration of cessation must be a supermajority, not a simple majority."

The Mon Cal looked astonished, his consort J’Nessah looked poleaxed.  “…What…what nonsense is this?  That…that’s preposterous!”  But even as the words left his mouth, Pytir saw the defeated look upon J’Nessah’s face.

Kazic held out his hand, a datapad in it.  “Here Speaker, look it up for yourself.  Article III, Subsection 1, Corollary 4.”  Pytir looked at the datapad as if a gundark was hiding underneath it.  After a moment, Kazic took a step forward, firmly placing the datapad into the Second Speaker’s hand, then—after a slight flourish with the sleeves of his robes—the Anzati Master took his chair.  

That seemed to break the spell holding the Mon Calamari Speaker.  Furiously, he stabbed at the datapad, scrolling down to find the appropriate section.  Even as he did so, his large mouth worked wordlessly.  Raising his eyes, Pytir’s head turned, taking in all of his confederates.  Soft murmurs arose from the assemblage as the Mon Cal Master looked on in disbelief.

…Gotcha, you kriffing… Kazic’s curse stopped short, his face falling somewhat.  The daen nosi were still there, surging just out of the corner of his sight.  …What the hell…?  The Anzati Master fought to control his features, his outward appearance unchanged.

“Without anymore business to conduct, I move that we adjourn the session, Kage.”  Kazic’s mouth formed the words by rote, his inner turmoil carefully hidden.

Standing from his seat upon the Council’s Dais, Arkady stood, calling an end to the session.  As soon as the words were from his mouth, the entire assemblage erupted in quiet, frantic discussion.

Kazic joined Saani and Arkady within the semicircle of chairs upon the Dais, trying to hide his concern behind a sincere congratulatory smile.  And while Arkady thanked Saani for her clever solution, Kazic tried hard not to look around like a cornered animal.

“Saani, I cannot thank you enough for providing me this victory!”  Arkady’s gruff voice was triumphant, his firm handshake full of vitality.  Saani nodded her congratulations meanwhile looking out of the corner of her eyes at Kazic, her concern palpable beneath her celebratory smile.  But she could sense it too…

If victory this was…then why were the daen nosi still so persistant?

If Kazic could return to this time and place, he would have shouted, roared, raged against their complacency of the moment.  But he could not, instead convincing himself that everything would work itself out for the best in the end.

And he would forever regret it.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 25, 2018, 10:38:34 PM
That was clever, nasty and ultimately self defeating.  Again brilliant irony, they wanted a war-footing, they got it, and because of that Ansons faction (i think we can call them factions safely now!) is hamstrung in their own objectives! That is how you write political twists and irony!
But even so that is no victory, they have been challenged and scraped through on a technicality, if Arkady's position was critical before it is terminal now, i can imagine a lot of people will hate Kazic too for using such a snide strategy to get Arkady out of the vote , he had only deferred the motion not defeated it, and even he can sense he has gained nothing for it...the daen nosi will not be denied!
On a separate note interesting look into Arkady's past even if only small.
Great work Dutchman.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 26, 2018, 06:31:44 AM
Dutchman, I can only echo LSG, that was a great piece of political intrigue!

But in my gut, I hear this voice...  "If it's a war you want, then it's a war you will have.  War to the knives..."

I weep for the Vhal'Dan....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 05, 2018, 10:19:02 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gHUL1c/swtor_2017_04_22_18_34_51_56.jpg) (https://ibb.co/gHUL1c)

Chapter 14: Event Horizon

Kazic circled his opponent, his main blade high, his other held perpendicular to the floor.  Even as he prepared his next form, his opponent battered against his mental defenses, the metaphysical attack not just a feint but rather a potent strike as well.  His opponent smiled as the mental assault was redoubled, making the Anzati Master grit his teeth.  With a suddenness that surprised even him, Kazic’s opponent was upon him, the dual sabers a cloud of plasma that he was hard pressed to defend against.  But he was able to keep his sabers between himself and his opponent’s attacking blades.  The key was not dropping his mental defenses as he maintained his saberwork to the fullest of his ability.

Of course, that was also assuming that his opponent would eventually provide a break in their assault.  That had not yet happened.  Even as he kept his opponent’s blades from reaching him, he began to notice a trend: his opponent was not just attacking; they were steadily working down his defenses.  Indeed, most other races would have had trouble with maintaining this level of skill before their body’s toxins began to adversely affect them.  Thankfully, his Anzati heritage also included a natural rejuvenation that was rather difficult overcoming.  …Ari’s People were able to do so… the thought came unbidden, causing Kazic to falter slightly; worse, it opened up his mental defenses to the metaphysical attacks against him.

Sensing their advantage, Kazic’s opponent switched from Ataru to Juyo, the aggressive form threatening to overwhelm the Anzati Master.  Suddenly, thoughts of his battle with Kiraea were thrust to the forefront: half-remembered images of his proboscises extending, searching…hungering...  Immediately, Kazic knew that such was being orchestrated at the behest of his opponent.  Setting his jaw, he attempted to blunt the thrust of his opponent’s attack.  Even as he was successful, his opponent took advantage of his preoccupation: their sabers began to hammer against his own, bringing his blades in ever-tightening orbits.  Desperate, Kazic knew that he needed to switch the momentum of the fight to him.

Thinking of the trick that Ari had done, Kazic pulled to himself the Force, holding as much as he could.  He could feel the warning signs of such: his temples began to tingle as he drew more and more.  Then, directing the Force at his opponent, he caused gravity to increase exponentially.  At least, that is what Kazic hoped that he was doing; he’d only seen Ari do it once and he was distracted at the time.  His opponent’s eyes widened in shock.

It worked.

His opponent sank to their knees, their arms and blades also dropping as a result, an astonished look upon their face.  Grinning, Kazic moved in for the kill, confident that his opponent was at his mercy.

The next thing that Kazic saw was the ceiling of the salle, his back on the floor and his opponent’s blades at his throat and navel.  “You’re dead, K’ompo.”  Saani’s amused voice came from the side, his wife in a tight crouch with arms extended.  “I win again.”

Laughing, Kazic nodded the obvious.  “Yes, yes you did.”  He sat up, crossing his legs momentarily.  “Tell me, Kanp’a, how did you do that?”  His hand smoothed out his hair, the statim tied around his topknot slightly disheveled from having landed upon it.

“Physics, K’ompo.  Loser recalibrates the crystals.”  Laughing, she easily jumped up, offering her hand to her husband.  Taking it gratefully, Kazic retrieved his two practice sabers, taking the two proffered sabers from his wife as well.  After a moment waiting in silence, Kazic grinned at his wife.

“OK Saani, I give up.  How did ‘physics’ beat me?”  He began to recalibrate the practice sabers before putting them back into the munitions locker lining one wall of the salle.  The noontime Galtean sun cast shadows across the floor from the durasteel framing arranged in polygonal shapes along the transparisteel ceiling.  The Twi’lek Master drew close to her husband, gently smoothing his disheveled hair.

With a glint in her eye, Saani’s smile became predatory.  “Well, K’ompo, you increased gravity relative to the ground perpendicularly, making it difficult to rise up.  But the leg sweep that I used on you required much less effort than standing…”  Saani’s smile slowly disappeared.  “K’ompo…you have to know that you were not at fault for…when you…almost succumbed to…when you were fighting Kiraea.”  Her purple eyes were full of compassion and love, her hands suddenly cupping her husband’s head.

Kazic looked at his wife, both grateful…and ashamed.  “Kanp’a…I’d like to believe that…”  Still, he worried that once he’d tasted the soup… He didn’t even allow himself to head down that path.  But…it did help to put some things into perspective for him.  “Regardless, I’m thankful that your mental attacks centered upon…that.  I will be better prepared against an opponent who isn’t reticent using such knowledge against me.”  His wife’s touch was comforting and appreciated and he began to feel a warmth from within matching the sun’s welcoming heat from above.

Kanp’a I think I have an excellent idea for tonight’s dessert…” he began, changing from his training armor and into his tactical set.  But before he was finished speaking, his comm started pinging.  Odd, that; it was a personal call.  If anyone had wanted to hail him, they’d use his official line as Arbiter.  Comm in hand, he brought his gloved fist to his hand.  “Kazic speaking.”  For a second there was only silence, then…

“Kazic.  It’s Arkady.  I need to speak to you and Saani immediately.  Can you meet me in the Kage’s Vault?”  Something in the Kage’s tone unsettled Kazic.  …Damn…

And the daen nosi were still present, just on the periphery…

Kanp’a, Arkady needs us now at the Kage’s Vault.”  He could tell from the look on her face that she had questions but instead nodded her head and finished donning her tactical armor.  For once, Kazic was grateful for this particular security protocol.  As one, they headed to a seemingly obscure part of the city, away from the prying eyes of the public and into one of the most secret and secure buildings in all of Galtea if not the galaxy…

            <<<<< >>>>>

“…How in the hell did this happen…?”  Kazic’s astonished voice echoed within the room.  Standing tall, the Anzati Master’s arms were folded across his armored chest, his red eyes scanning, searching, disbelieving.  Just behind him the short Kage was slowly looking from Kazic and back to Saani, his somber face a masking the carefully controlled anger…and fear that he felt.

“…There are no signs of intrusion, electrical, physical, or otherwise…”  Saani’s calm voice was concise for all of the surprise that she felt.  Reaching outward, her Force-enhanced senses continued to scrutinize everything within the room, the walls, and the perimeter.  Simultaneously, her eyes and hands examined the wall and floors, Saani’s gloves removed to allow her bare fingers to sense the most miniscule tactile differences.

Between the three of them, they sensed…nothing.  Nothing at all amiss.  No countermeasures, no breakage, no intrusions.  Nothing.

Except that several of the Force relics that they’d recovered from Yavin 4 were no longer within the Vault…including the Thought Bomb.  That was what had the three of them worried the most.  And—at least for Kazic—the daen nosi continued to undulate just outside his vision…

“…Arkady, there are only a handful of people who have access to this facility, fewer still that can open the Vault.  Besides you, Anson, myself, Saani, and Pytir were there any others who could gain entry?”  Kazic’s question was more rhetorical than anything…but they’d exhausted almost every other avenue…

“…Anson’s codes were purged as soon as his arrest was ordered.  But to answer you…no, only those that you named…”  His gruff face looked up into Kazic’s.  “But also suspect is that the logs have been tampered with.”

That gave Kazic pause.  “Yes?”

Arkady’s mouth smiled sardonically.  “Even now I have one of my most trusted slicers on it but…the datanode seems to have been deliberately altered.  And thoroughly; there is no one point of designated attack nor one particular targeted enumeration…”  He rubbed his eyes.  “…I cannot see how anyone could have pulled of such a…an elaborate plan…”

Even as Arkady said it, Saani and Kazic exchanged glances from behind him.  Silently mouthing the words, Saani looked at her husband.  …Kiraea…?  Almost imperceptibly, he shrugged…but slowly nodded the possibility.

“…Or Anson could have given access to one of his followers, cleaning up after them.”  Arkady’s voice surprised them both.  The Kage shook his head.  “It would make sense: after his…blatant move against Aresaea, he might have thought that he could…‘ransom’ her that way…”  The small human’s voice trailed off as he became momentarily lost in thought.

Kazic looked thoughtful.  “…Arkady…assuming that’s possible, don’t you think that even Anson would be reticent in allowing…”  But as the Anzati Master spoke, the Kage suddenly cut him off.

“Off course!  Saani, Kazic, I must speak with Anson.  I think I know what’s going on…”  Arkady’s eyes stared off behind Kazic as if focused on the horizon.  “If you can, both of you try to glean anything of worth here that we might have missed.  I’ll be with Anson.”  Determinedly, the Kage left the Vault without a backwards glance.

Leaving only Saani and Kazic alone to discuss what they both suspected.

“Could it have been Kiraea?  Despite how secretive they were, I got the impression that she was a…specialist of sorts.”  Saani’s fingers slowly stroked her lekku as she pondered.  But Kazic wondered…

“…What about Jarys?  After all, he was the one who’d set the bomb and…”  He slowly trailed off as Saani gently nodded her head.

“No K’ompo.  You still don’t understand them.”  She sighed slightly.  “…Neither do I, truth be told…but I did notice some…idiosyncrasies.”  

“…Go on.”  Kazic stood alert with unfeigned interest.

“Kiraea is one of their ‘Guardians.’  But moreso, they treated her much like our tactical forces act around Recon: placing high stock in her assessments.”  Saani’s purple eyes bored into Kazic’s.  “I think that Kiraea’s skill set was centered around reconnaissance.  We already know that she was on point to scout out Ari when they’d arrived.”

“Point.”  Kazic conceded.  “…So you’re thinking that she somehow gained access to the Vault, absconding with the Thought Bomb?  Kanp’a, how would she even know about it?”  But even as he asked the question, he thought he knew the answer.  And so did Saani.

“Because K’ompo, Ari would have told her—all of them—what we had.”  Saani’s mouth looked grim.  And Kazic could not fault her logic.  Moreover, he now had a thought himself: Valens and his People would have very little reason to fear conventional weapons.

But the Thought Bomb was anything but; arguably, the device was intended to attack, disable…kill…beings precisely like Ari’s People.  And after the way that Valens had reacted to Ari’s treatment at the Sentinel’s hands, Kazic could see the warrior reaching the same conclusion… Nodding to his wife, he opened the portal to the hyperloop for her, all the while thinking—worrying—about their next course of action.  And the possible ramifications.

“…I think we need to have a serious discussion with Ari, and soon.”  

            <<<<< >>>>>

“So just whom did you give your codes to, Anson?”  Even without trying, the short, small statured man seemed to loom large over the former Arbiter and even causing the Detention Cells themselves to feel…smaller, cramped.  Admittedly, it was quite the trick.  Which was why Anson’s reaction was so puzzling.

“My codes?  Arkady, what are you going on about?”  His arms crossed over his muscular chest, Anson’s voice was contemptible.  “I would never give my codes over to anyone.”  His face suddenly adopted a vehement expression.  “I swore to safeguard the Vhal’Dan, not undermine it!”  But even hearing Anson’s voice full of conviction, Arkady was unconvinced.

“…I think that you’d let yourself be ‘persuaded’ since the ‘ends justify the means’ and that such details could be forgotten in the name of the ‘greater good!’”  Arkady’s voice was rising although he was not yet shouting.  But the effect was the same: the Kage’s rage was a terrible thing to behold, the small man radiating fury.

But yet again, Anson stood before him, resolute.  “…What I’ve done is for the benefit of the Vhal’Dan. I am trying to save the Order from wholesale extermination!”  Breathing heavily, the taller man put his hands upon his hips.  “…Arkady…we may be on opposing political sides…but we’ve always agreed upon the survival of our Order…if not always the same way on how to do so…”  Anson’s face relaxed somewhat.  “I would not imperil the Vhal’Dan in such a way…”  His voice trailed off, faint noises coming from the far bulkhead to the right.  Both Anson and Arkady paused to listen, cocking their heads almost identically.  What sounded like…beating…was coming from the wall.

Arkady’s face was a mask of confusion; Anson’s one of concentration.  Suddenly, Anson’s eyes widened.  “Arkday!  GET DOWN!”  But even as he moved towards the shorter man, hands up as if to push Arkady out of the way, the force-field designed to imprison him stopped any and all possible movement.  Furthermore, a prototype null-field disrupted Force-abilities, mitigating the Force Push that Anson attempted to move the Kage from danger.  

Besides, it would have been too little, too late.

The far bulkhead exploded, Anson having the benefit of a bunk between him and the detonation.  Arkady had no such protection.  The shock wave hit the unprotected Kage, ripping him off of his feet, his body hitting the far wall.  Clouds of dust and detritus filled the air, a large hole blown in the structure’s far wall.  Several Jedi flooded in, gently grabbing Anson, checking his vitals.  But even as they did so, the former Arbiter looked over his shoulder where Arkady lay, unmoving on the ground.

“Master D’Aklon!  We must get you out of here!  Now!”  One of the Jedi who’d helped him to his feet was shouting at him in order to be heard above the warning klaxons.  “Please, master!  We must go!”  With that, they all retreated out of the building, fires still burning on several surfaces.

And in the corner, Arkady’s broken body breathed its last breath.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic stood within the doorway of the Detention Area.  Surrounding him was a full squad of Vhal’Dan Sentinels, Saani, Corvus, and various Gray masters and maenowans.  While he responded to any direct questions, Kazic was by and large, expressionless and monotone.  Even as he directed the strategic- and civil-efforts, his eyes strayed towards the body of his Kage and friend in the corner.

The night was long.  But even with all concerted endeavors, there was no apparent evidence that had been left, no indication of those responsible for Anson’s escape…or Arkady’s death.

Even as an Emergency Session of Congress took up his time, Kazic operated almost entirely by routine.  His installment as Kage, the call for arms against those responsible, and abjuring Anson and those that stood with him were a blur.  And regardless of how strong he was, Kazic was exhausted by the time he arrived in the Kage’s Suite, his and Saani’s new home…not that he wanted them.

But tradition demanded such.  And it was only because of tradition that he was able to perform the duties of his office within the first twenty-two hours of his appointment.  But as soon as he finally stood amidst the entry foyer of his new residences, Kazic’s face fell, great shuddering sobs racking his body.  Saani did likewise, joining her husband in his grief while they comforted the other, wrapped in each one’s arms.  There, all of the pent-up emotion of sorrow deferred was finally allowed a release for the two of them as they mourned their fallen Kage, friend, and family.

But worst for Kazic: he finally noticed that the daen nosi were gone.  It hadn’t registered before but, upon retrospect, he saw that they had disappeared the moment that they’d touched Arkady’s body.  And as the crushing realization washed over him, Kazic momentarily gave into despair…

It took Saani hours to talk her husband out from under his anguish; it took many more just to get him to finally sleep again…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 06, 2018, 02:15:55 AM
Not the best historic era to be a Kage or Grand Master it seems....Some very serious questions come from this chapter, who took the thought bomb - it certainly sounds like something Valens and Kiraea would do...Who busted Anson out? And more importantly did they know the Kage was in the room before setting off the charges? Seems too clumsy to be an assassination, but could certainly be tactical opportunism.  And how will Anson react to all this? And Kazic - what a way to begin his reign...
Chapter 15 can-NOT come fast enough!!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 06, 2018, 10:25:32 AM
Wow...    I have to admit, I am on the fence about the thought bomb.  yes, it certainly sounds like a play Kiraea and Valens would make to safeguard themselves, but it could also turn up in other places....

Anson's reaction to this will be telling.  Will he take his place at the head of the rebel faction?  Or stay loyal to the Vhal'Dan, despite how he's been treated?  After all, he kinda earned what he got.  But what if he goes along?  What if he takes that lead roll ... and then finds out he is in possession of a thought bomb?  Oy.

Ch15!  NOW!!!!!!  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 06, 2018, 03:33:10 PM
Wow...    I have to admit, I am on the fence about the thought bomb.  yes, it certainly sounds like a play Kiraea and Valens would make to safeguard themselves, but it could also turn up in other places....

True it sounds like the obvious thing - i honestly don't know - what is most troubling is I reckon Kazic will be hoping it was Kiraea/Valens - the implications if a Vhal'Dan took it are far far more disturbing for Kazic to face...i suspect that is the path and hat is going to be some very morally twisted chapters - imagine if Kazic has to crack down on his own people to try and find it just after he reversed a bunch of security measures after Ansos arrest! 

Politics, Ethics, Hopes and Fears - What A Narrative!!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on May 07, 2018, 11:50:04 PM
Agreed. A powerful, and sad, installment. Somehow I don't think that Anson had anything to do with the thought bomb disappearing, though I won't rule out the option of one of the rebels stealing it. Especially Pytir. Anyways, great chapter.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 10, 2018, 10:30:11 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/iYOX2x/Volfe_Karkko_CSWE.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iYOX2x)

Chapter 15: First Engagements

“…Corvus, how bad is it?”  Kazic spit blood from his mouth, his eyes intent upon the Devaronian Speaker.  Meanwhile, Saani applied a salve of poly-bacta to a burn to the Anzati’s head where he’d been struck by a glancing saber blow.  …Lucky, that… Kazic thought, memories of being surrounded by over half a dozen Jedi crowding his mind.  Thank the Maker he’d been able to defend himself.  Still, he should’ve seen this coming, especially after they’d learned that Arkady had been killed…

Kazic shook his head; the time for recriminations was long past.  He had a job to do and intended to do it to the best of his ability.  His red eyes focused on Corvus.  “How bad?”  He prodded.

Corvus’ dark red face furrowed as he stared at Kazic from under his brow, his tone apologetic.  “…I’m sorry, Kage.  Roughly 3,000 to 2,000, in Anson’s favor.  Most of the Grey Masters were with him; maenowans and kaowans split roughly equally.”  Corvus’ lips drew back derisively.  “But the majority of the teidowans flocked to his banner.  Young fools…”  He said the last under his breath.

Kazic’s face was completely impassive, stoic and considering.  …As I’d feared… He was about to castigate himself again, when Saani firmly but gently held his head, her hands on either side of his face.

“Focus on the solution, not the problem.”  Again, he was reminded as to why he was grateful for his wife.  His face relaxing somewhat, Kazic touched his forehead to Saani’s, a whispered “thank you” passing between them.

Gathering all of the Jedi remaining to him with a look, Kazic stood straight.  “Thank you, Corvus.  So be it.  We need to institute Bellicose Protocols; that will effectively lock down the Galtean System.  But our first offensive must be to secure the Crystal Mines of Nux’x, and quickly.  Anson has numerical superiority…but if we act decisively, we’ll have surprise on our side.”  Looking at Saani, Kazic nodded.  “Please, assemble a strike force immediately; I need for you and Corvus to lead it.  I will lock down the System to ensure that Anson’s faction will not be able to access the hyperspace lanes, the Golan II platforms, or the planetary defense net.”

And as Kazic quickly gave the particulars for his plans, delegating them to his lieutenants, he thought back a day hence to Arkady’s murder and the resultant schism that had widened chasm-like and inevitable…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Even prior to addressing the Vhal’Dan Congress in open-session, Kazic had the distinct impression that the atmosphere within the Hall of Balance was oppressive and disconcerting.  And while he knew that an exact head count was not possible, he could tell from the filled-capacity Hall that almost every Vhal’Dan Jedi was in attendance.  Good; that meant that he would only have to do this once…

Looking at the six gathered Speakers—the position of Seventh Speaker was on the agenda for today’s itinerary—Kazic tried to gauge their intents, motives, and feelings… He knew that he could count upon Saani without question both as his Arbiter and his wife, and Corvus had been a true and stalwart friend since before the troubles of the Night of Madness.  But the other Speakers: Pytir, J’Nessah, Auryn, Sarith, and Ryshhk…

He’d heard whisperings but…nothing definitive.  …How did Arkady do it?  How did he navigate through the morass?  Especially since I know that they’re conspiring against me… All of this ran through Kazic’s head but his face showed none of his suspicions.

Saani would later rebuke him for his mistake; but that would mark his time in the Kage’s office: good tactics but poor politics.  Not that the difference would last much longer…

“I, Kage Kazic Ovarug, call this session to order.  First order of business, Arbiter, Speakers—”  And completely against decorum, Pytir’s voice rang out, interrupting the Anzati Kage while completely silencing the Hall.

“Kazic Ovarug.  I believe that you are here under false pretenses.  You have not been lawfully elected to the office by which you now hold.”  The Mon Cal’s demeanor was once again confident—no, arrogant—as he addressed the assemblage within the Hall, enthralling many of them.  “Your so-called ‘election’ that installed you within the position that you now occupy was not done so during open session nor were all Vhal’Dan allowed to cast their votes.”  Pytir’s large fish eyes cast about the entire crowd but came to rest upon Kazic.  As usual, he had adopted a pedantic stance, his hands grasping his lapels.  “So you see Master Ovarug…you are out of order.”

Kazic had expected this; as with other war-footing conditions, an Arbiter could assume the Kage’s mantle with a plurality instead of a simple majority to streamline the transition of power so that the Vhal’Dan could more effectively prosecute wartime efforts.  Not for the first time did Kazic thank the Maker for Saani’s extensive knowledge in archaic Vhal’Dan regulations.

“It is you who is mistaken Speaker.  As per Article IX, sub—”  No sooner had Kazic begun to recite the exact passage when a collective gasp erupted from the assemblage.  And as the mass of Jedi parted, a single figure strode confidently through the crowd, head held high, his voice full of conviction.

“Those laws were written at a time of the Sith Wars; they no longer hold bearing to the matter at hand.  We are not facing Sith.”  Anson’s imposing figure stopped and stood across the Speakers Dais directly opposite Kazic.  “No, we are not facing Sith…but instead a threat from within: you.  You Kazic Ovarug are not Vhal’Dan.  It was you that invited Aresaea K’aval into the very heart of our Order, it was you that took her from her exile at Yavin 4, it was you that continued to raise her without once forcing her to take the Oaths.”  Anson suddenly pointed to Saani, his voice a ringing indictment.  “You even gave her your family name!”

Kazic’s shock was naked upon his face but only for a moment.  “Bailiff!  Detain Anson D’Aklon.”  Even before the sentinel had moved, Kazic coldly stabbed a finger at him.  “You are under arrest, you traitor…”  But even as the last word echoed throughout the Hall, not one person moved.

Except Anson.

“‘Traitor?’  ‘Traitor?!’  Kazic it is you that is a traitor!  To me, to the Vhal’Dan, to the entire Order!”  Suddenly, Anson was addressing the entire assemblage.  “Fellow Vhal’Dan!  I am come before you a penitent man.  Not as a traitor nor as a supplicant…but rather to save our Order!  You all know that I’ve worked tirelessly to safeguard the Vhal’Dan, to ensure our survival.  And at every turn I’ve come across opposition and adversity by the very man who ‘claims’ to have your best interests at heart, meanwhile actively working to impede your safety!  He—”  And as Anson spoke, Kazic clandestinely looked around the Hall, taking stock of the ambience of the crowd.  And he knew that he was in trouble…

“Silence Anson.”  Kazic’s voice boomed, silencing everyone, including the former Arbiter.  “Enough of this farce.  Sentinels: take him.”  But even as two of the bailiffs moved to apprehend Anson, a handful more moved to block them, intercepting them before they could complete their tasks.  And at once, all of the Jedi on and around the Speaker’s Dais put hand to hilt, lightsabers but a breath from being ignited.  The electricity in the air filtered throughout the crowd, people standing shoulder-to-shoulder began to look at one another from the corner of their eyes.  After years of tension and disparity, the stage was set, all that it would take was a single, solitary spark…

The gathered Jedi were of two minds, represented by their respective leaders: Anson and Kazic.  And while they were both peripherally aware of the others, they had eyes only for the other man.  And it was in this moment that they both knew that what Anson had said had truly come to pass: the time for half-measures was over.  An uneasy silence reigned over the Hall, the collective breath of 5,000 Vhal’Dan held as every single Jedi watched, listened, waited for the inevitable…

No one knew who ignited their saber first, nor did it matter.  As soon as the blade snapped into existence, their fates were sealed.  And within seconds, the Hall was bathed in light: blue, green, yellow, silver, purple.  Kazic found himself fighting off a half-dozen sentinels as he tried in vain to keep from having to kill them.  Meanwhile, the former Arbiter looked to his former brother, shouting impotently that Kazic not be killed…

But even as Anson wondered just how the evening escalated so quickly, he knew that at least part of that answer could be found earlier in the day at Pytir’s apartments…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As Anson finally settled in on the repulsor couch in Pytir’s spacious apartments, he took the time to tentatively dab at the various cuts that he’d sustained from the explosion at the Detention Center.  Looking around, he could see that Pytir’s house was packed full of people.  Clearly, the Mon Cal Master meant for this to be a very…public affair.  Anson gave a small, sardonic turn of the lips.  …Pytir did not know the definition of “subtle”… He thought to himself.  And, as if thinking of the man had called him, no sooner did Anson hear the Mon Calamari’s voice behind him.

“Anson!  My friend!  I cannot tell you how it warms my heart to see you free!”  Behind Pytir was his constant companion and consort, J’Nessah.  Taller than Anson, the darkly beautiful human Speaker was almost the diametric opposite of Pytir: she was introspective, considering, and tactful.  As Pytir continued with his platitudes, J’Nessah merely nodded, slowly collecting the Speakers, Gray Masters, and maenowans in attendance.  But before Pytir was finished, Anson furiously cut him off.

“Pytir…what…have…you…done?!”  Even though his voice was a whisper, it hammered home, silencing Pytir.  “…This…these actions are…deplorable…”  Suddenly, as if the events of the day had finally caught up to him, Anson sank into the couch.  Pytir’s large eyes looked askance, at first hesitant until he locked his gaze to J’Nessah’s eyes.  Taking a half-step back, he made room for the tall human Speaker, suddenly deferential and with a knowing smile playing upon his lips.

“…Anson.  You must know that we did not come to this decision lightly nor without consequence.  Before you say anything, allow me to finish.”  She forestalled Anson just as he was about to protest, the former Arbiter sighing and nodding his head.  “The Vhal’Dan Order was—is—in danger.  And with Kazic assuming the mantle of Kage, you know that it is only a matter of time before he undoes all that which we’ve worked, planned, and fought for.  That alone is enough evidence that he will destroy the Order.  Taken in conjunction with his leanings towards the Aresaea girl and what she obviously represents…”  She left the comment hanging for a moment before continuing.  “No, no Anson; the Anzati is not my Kage, neither by right nor choice.  You.  You alone are the savoir for the Vhal’Dan.  You know what must be done and why.  Almost everyone throughout the galaxy knows about the Night of Madness…but you…you also know about what transpired on Vyth, what really happened…even if the information is still being suppressed.”  J’Nessah’s voice softened.  “…I know that Kage Li’I’Mack is special to you.  And I know that you would do anything to spare her the pain of loss… Just as I know that you would spare the Vhal’Dan that very same loss…and loss perpetrated in this case by those short-sighted fools that would deny us our safety under the pretext of ‘freedoms.’  But those ideals do not keep people safe, do not safeguard their lives.  You do.”  J’Nessah was sitting forward, staring intently into Anson’s brown eyes.  At first his face was expressionless…

“…You killed Arkady.”  His tone was not accusatory, merely a statement of fact.

J’Nessah sat back, slowly inhaling before continuing.  “…Yes.  Yes we did, although that was not our intent…”  But when she looked at Anson again, her dark eyes were lazer-focused.  “…But that does not mean that Arkady did not deserve it.  Anson…he had stopped being the impartial Kage that we’d elected years before; instead he’d become a mouthpiece for that Anzati bastard.”  J’Nessah’s dark hands grabbed onto Anson’s, holding them tightly.  “If you think differently, command me to turn myself in and I shall do so without argument… However, if you believe—know—that what I’ve said is the truth, I beg of you to hear me and indulge me in this next proposal…”  With that, she stopped speaking, eyes intent upon the muscular human, never once blinking.

After a moment of silence, Anson slowly nodded his head.  With a small smile fixed upon her full lips, J’Nessah continued.  “Anson…we are all gathered here as a sign of our fealty, not only to the Vhal’Dan…but to you.  We know that Kazic is not the leader that the Order needs nor frankly wants…”  The remaining Speakers—Pytir, Auryn, Sarith, and Ryshhk—all stepped forward, surrounding Anson.  “…But we believe…know…that you are.  Our allegiance, our vote, our hopes are with you…”  J’Nessah’s quiet voice carried, her eyes downcast as she made her pronouncements, only looking up again to emphasize the most important part of her oration, one that was emphatically echoed by the other Speakers.  And once said, J’Nessah knew that the former Arbiter needed no more convincing.

“Kage Anson D’Aklon.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on May 10, 2018, 11:44:43 PM
And so the Civil War begins. . .


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 11, 2018, 12:15:29 AM
The First cut won't be the deepest....
J'Nessah is correct the Vhal'Dan are under threat - but only from within. What i found most interesting was how much it was personalized about Kazic - is that a little of the well known (and often warranted) disgust and fear of Anzati slipping through into their thinking? They cast Arkady not as a Kage but as a mouth piece for Kazic - its subtle but I think its definitely there. Ultimately raising Aresaea seems insignificant compared to blowing up the Kage.

Any how much is Pytir’s manipulation...hmmm Pytir...Petyr Baelish...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 12, 2018, 01:25:05 PM
So in the end, the decision was Anson's.  He had one last chance to turn away from the course that would lead to destruction.  The tragedy is, as he did it, he truly believed it was to save the Vhal'Dan.

It reminds me of a line I've heard in different times and places.  "Sometimes to build a new world you need to tear down the old one."  What people seem to forget it that THEY live in the world they are tearing down. 

*sigh*

And so it begins.  The majority follow the feel-good candidate (Anson) and the minority stand on their principle with stubborn integrity.  Now we see who and what live and die...

Dutchman, this is a great story!  Your telling is compelling and entrancing!  Structurally I'm not a great fan of the "retrograde" style you employed in this chapter but I can certainly see why you did it and I appreciate this usage.   Nicely done! 

And now comes the hard part....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 18, 2018, 02:25:29 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/ms2mpx/2585412.jpg) (https://ibb.co/ms2mpx)

Chapter 16: Mitigated Success, Part I

“Corvus…get down!”  To emphasize her words, Saani pulled the Devaronian forcefully to the floor with the Force just as plasma bolts burned through the air where his head had been a second before.  Huddling behind the cover of the reinforced durasteel partition, both of the Gray Masters waited while concentrated blaster fire continued to rain down upon them.

“Thanks.”  Corvus’ sardonic grin gave his dark red face a devilish bent to his visage.  Casually unclipping his lightsaber from his belt, he grasped a blaster in his other hand while Saani did likewise.  “Looks like Anson already sliced 'nto th' automated defense droid network.”  As if to punctuate his statement, a hail of blaster fire suddenly focused on his position, the durasteel beginning to superheat from the concentrated plasma bolts splashing continually on the wall.

“There are eight Jedi and about two dozen droids.”  Saani’s face was stern, her eyes suddenly introspective.  “Corvus…can you handle three at once?”  She checked her belt for power packs while getting a better grip upon her lightsaber hilt.  The dark tunnels of the Crystal Mine were lined with durasteel scaffolding, mining equipment, and power generators, the latter of which were shielded.  At least from “expected intrusions.”  Saani grinned; she wished that she could almost see the faces Anson’s traitorous Jedi with what she had planned…

Sensing her resolve, Corvus gave a lopsided grin.  “Short o' them being th' bastard Speakers of th' pretend Kage…watch ol’ Corvus school these children.”  He hefted his blaster.  “What about th' others?”

Saani pursed her lips.  “…They’ll be fine.  I instructed them to secure the main lode and prepare it for transport.  We’ll need those crystals.”  She looked sideways at the Devaronian, still grinning.  “Cover me.”  And with that, she vaulted from her position, somersaulting in the air as she avoided the droids’ blasterfire.  Hitting the ground at a run, Saani’s purple blade sprang into existence, deflecting incoming plasma bolts.  As she closed the distance between her and the droids more swiftly than expected, Saani’s blaster cleared the tunnel of the half-dozen droids, forcing Anson’s Jedi to deal with her directly.  

Just as she’d said, there were eight of them, all of them holding their lightsabers with both hands.  Thinking to flank her, they all tried to surround Saani within the tunnel.  …Now… She thought to herself.  Without pause, she went from squeezing off concise blaster shots to thumbing the overload on the powerpack and throwing her blaster in the midst of the remaining droids.  Even before the blaster had landed, Saani had her second lightsaber in hand, the yellow blade of her shoto a contrast to her main purple one.  Seven of the eight Gray Jedi suddenly squeezed next to the walls, trying to find some cover; one of them did not.  When the powerpack hit critical, it exploded in a violent eruption, releasing not only a fireball but also a potent electro-magnetic pulse.  Slamming into the unsuspecting droids, the pulse shorted out their servos, disabling the remaining lot.  The single Jedi did not rise from the ground.

But it had cost Saani; Anson’s Jedi had been able to surround her on one side.  The interplay of green and blue blades contrasted with Saani’s purple and yellow lightsabers.  And before Anson’s Jedi could gain further advantage, the Twi’lek Master flowed into the nearest opponents, her offensive surprising them.  As a Jar’Kai master, Saani made short work of the first two, wounding a third and fourth before they were able to regroup.  But then, she found herself facing three maenowans, one of them a battlemaster.  As they spread out, Saani could tell that these three had a battle rapport, their ease of movements proof as they covered one another, supplementing each of their defenses, the total more than the sum of their parts.  Saani knew that she would be in trouble…

Heavy blaster fire burned through the air from behind the Twi’lek Master, skirting her silhouette as a grin played across her blue face.  One of the maenowan’s head flash-boiled in an instant exploding, the resultant arterial spray dousing her nearest companion with blood, distracting him.  A second barrage hit him in the shoulder, flipping him around while three more plasma bolts burned into his back.  The last remaining maenowan—the battlemaster as it turned out—was preoccupied with desperately staying alive as Saani had used the timely distraction from Corvus to press her offensive.  And the battlemaster was good, very good, his Soresu an excellent defense against blasterfire and lightsaber alike.

But he was no match for Saani.  Working her attacks into ever-tighter orbits, the battlemaster’s eyes squinted in concentration as he hopelessly worked his lightsaber to keep the Twi’lek Master’s blades from him.  In the end, the battlemaster was just outclassed by Saani’s saberwork, testament to her position as one of the Vhal’Dan’s four BladeMasters.  Standing over the body, Saani closed down her lightsabers, carefully inspecting the power generator conduits lining the ceiling of the tunnel.

Approaching at a jog, Corvus’ face still had a grin fixed in place.  “Nicely done.  Good t' see that you nae lost your edge.”  He holstered his heavy DL-12 blaster, his green blade illuminating the tunnel with a preternatural glow.  “Only six?  I would’ve expected ten…”  He said winking.  She winked appreciatively but sobered almost immediately.  Holding her comm to her mouth, Saani pinged the Jedi that she’d left to organize and collect the kyber crystal shipment.  After a long moment, a loud roaring voice answered.

[Your friends are either dead or my prisoner and the crystals now belong to Kage D’Aklon.  If you have any honor, you will surrender yourself to the authority of the true Kage.  Your answer, 60 seconds.]

Saani understood enough Shyriiwook to recognize the truth when she heard it.  “Dammit…Ryshhk has our friends.”  Meanwhile Saani began to type furiously on a procured datapad, sometimes consulting the smaller, mobile datanode built in to her armor.  “…collapse the wave function…oscillation harmonics…kinetic potential…”  Corvus kept his eyes and the Force open, flowing outward as the muscles in his body remained taut, his senses vigilant.  Finally Saani exhaled, her face determined.

“…I have an idea.  But you’re not going to like it…”  The Twi’lek’s eyes were deadly serious.  Corvus shrugged.

“…Nae much t' like since yer husband became Kage…but here I am.”  Again he winked.  Saani nodded appreciatively.

“Thank you Corvus… OK, this is what I need for you to do; I know that you can understand Shyriiwook …”  And as she explained her plans, Corvus had the distinct feeling that Saani had just understated the situation…

She was right: he didn't like it at all.

            <<<<<  >>>>>


Working his way ever upwards towards the Kage’s Suite, the silence around Kazic was punctuated by nearby blasterfire.  Judging from the sound, the proximity of which was fairly close.  …Just a short time more… He thought.  He had only to gain entry and then he could secure his objective.

Closing off the Galtean System; nothing in and nothing out.  He knew if Anson was able to gain reinforcements—say he somehow convinced the Mak’Tor to come to his aid—that Kazic and his followers would be finished.  But if he was able to effectively isolate this little war to the Vhal’Dan home-system… He knew that it would be in his best interested to do so, certainly the best tactical decision given Anson’s numerical superiority.  He just needed to access the Kage’s Suite to initiate Bellicose Protocols…

Unfortunately, Anson had also had the same thought.  So instead of being able to head directly to the Kage’s Suite, Kazic and his Jedi had had to face heavily entrenched opposition.  And it had been a hell of a fight: urban combat while going floor-to-floor (the lifts were not currently working).  Kazic had already lost a third of his retinue as a result of the initial ambushes.  It was only the Anzati Master’s quick thinking that had turned it from a complete route to the hard-fought and -won floors that they currently held.  But he knew that in a battle such as this, time was on Anson’s side.  The only relief that Kazic could count on was that Anson would not have the Kage’s Codes to lock out the main computer.

But with enough time, Anson and his Jedi could slice into it, securing the Vhal’Dan datanodes for their desires while effectively lobotomizing Kazic’s forces.  And so: fast forward to now where Kazic was clandestinely climbing the tower using long-forgotten stairs and serviceways while the bulk of his small army kept up appearances for the sake of keeping Anson’s Jedi preoccupied and fooled.  Or so Kazic hoped.

But he had yet to see anyone yet.  And—had Kazic thought he’d be worthy—he said a silent prayer both beseeching and thanking the Maker to keep it so.  Ever as he continued to climb higher and heard the dampened sounds of blasterfire and lightsabers, Kazic also hoped that his people were fairing as best they could…

Finally, he reached the top floor, silently entering into the main corridor that lead directly into the Kage’s Suite.  Either Anson hadn’t yet reached this floor or he did not set any guards as the hallway was completely empty.  Passively searching with Force, his senses flowing ever-outward, Kazic was surprised to feel twelve people in the rooms of the Kage’s Suite.  Grasping both lightsaber and blaster, he readied himself for the inevitable…

With the Force surging in him, Kazic’s Force Push blew the doors from their moorings, not only destroying them in the process but also creating hundreds of deadly metal flechettes that he then turned into miniature homing projectiles, seeking out as many living bodies as he could sense.  Simultaneously, his leveled blaster spat plasma in almost continuous fire as his ignited lightsaber cast a blue pall across the entire room.  Owing to surprise, seven of the Jedi were instantly killed.  Kazic quickly cut down another two even before they’d brought their sabers to bear.  But he saw that those remaining could be trouble…

Those three had ignited their lightsabers, supporting one another in a defense/deflect pattern that nullified Kazic’s blaster.  Holstering the weapon, he gripped his saber in both hands, falling into his preferred Ataru.  He knew that the best defense was a strong offense and wasted no time wading into the three, trusting that his reflexes and armor would help to keep him from serious injury.  Besides…he had to admit that he was desperate… Accompanying his attack, Kazic flooded the room with Force Suppression.  Seeing the nearest two Jedi falter, he quickly took advantage.  One of the three fell under his blue blade within a minute and the second after another.  But it was his last opponent that had him worried.  And as soon as they stepped out of the shadows obfuscating their face, Kazic knew that he was in trouble.

Auryn Kerosin’e stood before him, the area where her eyes normally would be covered by a traditional Miralukan mask.  And like all Miraluka, her sight was not at all hindered by the lack of eyes; rather she possessed her race’s potent Force Sight.  What would normally be a disability was in fact her advantage.  Coupled with the point that she was one of the four Vhal’Dan BladeMasters and Kazic began to feel the tendrils of panic fill his mind.  …Dammit…Auryn…

As if sensing his thoughts, the Miraluka’s face broke out in a smile, malicious and knowing.  “Anson had wondered if you would come yourself or send another in your stead.  But with the ferocity of the fighting below, he thought you were present with your followers.”  She began to advance, her own green saber held parallel to the floor, Auryn’s body coiled as if ready to spring.  “Personally, I’m glad to find you here.  Who knew that I would end up being the one to end this conflict?”  Her smile vanished and she attacked.

A Makashi practitioner, Auryn’s saberwork seemed to follow archaic configurations, or at least at first glance.  In reality, she was a master at the “Formless Form.”  Not that Kazic needed any reminders; he used every iota of his skill just to defend.  Pressing him hard, the Miraluka Speaker’s green blade was in constant motion, several orbits tightening ever closer as Kazic’s defense faltered against her superior saberwork.  Falling back, Kazic adopted the Niman variant that his Master Stryka Annix had taught him.  Finally, he was able to forestall Auryn’s offensive.

Kazic knew that trading saber-strikes with the Miraluka was a lesson in futility; instead he thought once again of Ari’s People.  Careful to keep his saber between him and Auryn, Kazic’s sudden metaphysical assault came as a surprise, causing her to falter.  Hoping to take advantage of her preoccupation, he attacked savagely.

But as a Miraluka, Auryn’s natural resistance to metaphysical attacks was greater than Kazic had presumed.  Adapting quickly, she turned her saber defensive into an aggressive offense.  In short order, Kazic had saber burns across his forehead, forearm, and thigh, most of the damage mitigated by his armor.  Still, he knew that there was no way that he could win, at least as the fight was.

Remembering what Anson had done to him during their last duel years ago, Kazic gathered all of this mental strength, directing a concentrated, needle-thin projection of a Force Thorn.  Tearing through Auryn’s mental barriers, the Thorn struck home.  Worse for Auryn, it essentially blinded her.  Coupled with the sudden pain that erupted in her head, she dropped her lightsaber, clutching her head with both hands.  Even before the saberhilt had hit the floor, Kazic projected a powerful Force Push, throwing Auryn first upwards crashing into the ceiling and then dropping unceremoniously to the floor.  Knowing that this was a war in which he was at an extreme disadvantage, he knew what he had to do, loath as he was to do it.

As soon as Auryn came to rest at his feet, his blue saber arced through the air below his knees, separating Auryn’s head from her body.  While he did not like having to do so, he knew that he could not regret such a decision in the midst of war.  Closing down his weapon, he rushed towards the office within the Kage’s Suite, taking a seat at the datanode within the table.  Activating it, the holopic was projected in front of him, inquiring credentials for access to the Galtean System Defense Net.  Quickly typing in his authorizations, he was able to access the system, going through a few dropdown menus to finally arrive at his target.

The Bellicose Protocols.

Once he initiated them, the Golan II Platforms would repel all incoming ships without the proper bona fides, the planetary shields for Galtea, Lus’phor, and Nux’x would be under his direct control, as would any and all power grids.  In short, no one was getting in or leaving the Galtean System without his approval.  He realized that his finger had paused, hovering above the holoprojection of the “Enable” button.  With a silent litany to the Maker, Kazic exhaled.

His finger stabbed at “Enable.”

Instantly, warning lights began to strobe, the flashing red bathing the room entirely.  He knew that this would create its own problems but those were outweighed by the fact that the Protocols would impede Anson’s faction exponentially more.  Besides…he already had the numbers on his side.  Kazic just hoped that Anson did not also get the kyber crystals as well…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 18, 2018, 02:30:34 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/ex0QQo/mkp0rq3m52az.jpg) (https://ibb.co/ex0QQo)

Chapter 16: Mitigated Success, Part II

“Don’t shoot!  I surrender!”  Corvus’ voice echoed in the large chamber where Anson’s Jedi had ambushed Kazic’s contingent, taking most of them as hostages.  Of Kazic’s Jedi in charge, only Master El’kar Sanhga had survived; Maenowan Xian Teroalaas had been killed defending the koawans under his charge.  Having been surrounded by Jedi numbering three times their company, Master El’kar called for quarter.  Anson’s Jedi gathered them in the center of the large hanger where they sat under guard, stripped of their weapons.  Ryshhk—to his credit—had carefully arranged and draped his outer robes over Xian’s body, placing the small Jedi within the one of the transport ships.  After all: Maenowan Xian had fought honorably and had sacrificed himself to save his confederates.  He wondered if Arbiter Saani K’aval would be as honorable…

Mentally he castigated himself.  …She is not Arbiter but rather a pretender… Still…the thought stubbornly refused to be dispelled.  Squaring his broad, tall shoulders, Ryshhk advanced upon Corvus.  Looking down at the Devaronian, the Wookie Speaker remained wary.  [Where is the Twi’lek]?  His booming growls filled the chamber while the artificial light of the electric lamps cast a slow strobing glow on everyone within.

After casually looking around, Corvus’ eyes had focused on Ryshhk’s mouth as he spoke before slowly answering.  “Dead.  One o’ yers shot her 'n th' back all cow’rdly like.  Yer dealin’ with me.  I want t’ secure the pris’ners and ransom them t’ safety.”  Staring at the Devaronian intently, Ryshhk was silent, the towering Wookie unmoving.

Then, quicker than thought, Ryshhk brought up his arm, simultaneously igniting his saberstaff, the teal blade arcing through the air.  Before Corvus could react, Ryshhk sliced through his right horn while grabbing the Devaronian’s neck.  [DO NOT LIE TO ME]!  He then raised Corvus bodily into the air, bringing him face-to-face with the Wookie.  [You dishonor yourself and I with your filthy untruths.  The next lie out of your mouth will cost you something more important than a horn…].  Corvus’ mouth spread in a pain-filled grimace as he was hoisted bodily like a rag-doll by the Wookie; even Ryshhk’s thick brown and black fur could not conceal the bulging muscles underneath.

Trying to take a breath, Corvus voice hissed.  “…you…flea-infested…bastard…”  Punctuating his last word, he spit in Ryshhk’s face.  Shaking with barely controlled rage, the Wookie threw Corvus to the ground, hefting his saberstaff as he slowly advanced upon the Devaronian.  Seeing his death in Ryshhk’s eyes, Corvus defiantly smiled.  “Be quick about it, boyo.  Yer borin’ me…”

Even as he spoke, a slow whine began to reverberate through the chamber.  The first to notice it were the guards, then the prisoners, and finally Ryshhk.  Looking around, he all but forgot Corvus.  Soon he had to cover his ears as the whine increased, beginning to cause a piercing headache to everyone within the hanger, the Devaronian being the lone exception.  “What’s wrong boyo?”  Corvus practically shouted, seemingly no worse despite the increasing volume.  

Within a minute, everyone was writhing upon the ground, their hands to their heads as they fought to remain lucid.  Finally, the sonics within the hanger had increased to a point that it began to shake the very foundation of the chamber, several of the Jedi—both from Anson’s and Kazic’s factions—were bleeding freely from their noses and ears.  And as Ryshhk doubled over in pain, adopting a fetal position, Corvus casually walked over to him, kicking him in the head, knocking the Wookie unconscious.  The noise persisted for another few minutes more before being followed by deafening silence.

A few minutes afterwards, Saani joined Corvus in the large hanger, her lightsabers in hand.  By that time, Corvus had collected weapons and more than a few of their Jedi aboard their transport.  Seeing the Twi’lek Master, Corvus gave her a wink.  “Well…I wasn’t sure that would work.  Nice job, usin’ the crystals’ resonant frequency to propagate that…noise.”  Squinting, he used the Force to draw the dirt-and-grease plugs from his ears.  “…Now that’s disgustin’”  He threw them aside.  “…But effective.  I coulda nae heard nothin’  Like you said: good thing I understand Shyriiwook.”

Not wasting a minute, Saani continued to load the rest of the unconscious Jedi on the transport, occasionally glancing at her chronometer while they did so.  “We’ve got to hurry; I’ve set the generators to 990%, which should give us…just under 4 minutes now.”  She looked around, double-checking that she’d left nothing behind.  Even as she paused, she felt a disturbance in the Force.  Without bothering to look, Saani pushed Corvus up the ramp of their transport, jumping in herself just ahead of several blaster bolts that attempted to track her.  Quickly closing the ramp, she could feel the inertia of take-off as Corvus piloted them away from the hanger.

Soon, the Lus’phor sky filled their cockpit canopy as they accelerated towards the stratosphere.  Peering intently into the instrumentation, Saani looked unblinkingly and anxiously.  Seeing the first explosion erupt from one of the eastern-most hangers, Saani expected to see a chain-reaction immolate the entire horizon.  Several more explosions followed…

But the concatenation that she expected never occurred.  The Pretiosum Kyber Mines were still viable; worse, Anson would be able to control them with his superior numbers.  At least she had made access to them problematic… But she still wondered why her plan had not gone fully as expected.

“Nae yer fault.  Who knows?  Maybe the rest of the generators weren’t critical or maybe someone stopped them.  Not th’ matter now; we got what we came fer.”  Corvus’ attempt to comfort her worked.  Somewhat.  Grateful, she placed a hand upon his shoulder, only now focused upon his missing horn.

“…By the Maker, Corvus are you OK?”  Her concern shone through her purple eyes as she grabbed at one of the medkits, administering a liberal dose of poly-bacta upon the surface of the cut.  Even as she worked, Corvus smiled cynically.

“Guess I f’rgot t’ duck.”  His tone was light but Saani could tell that the Devaronian was in pain and fighting off despondency.  Gently, she did all that she could, all the while worried about her friend…and Maenowan Xian.  The only thought that helped to mitigate her sense of loss was the fact that they’d been successful acquiring the crystals without any further loss of life for them…

            <<<<<  >>>>>

Ryshhk awoke suddenly, his head aching beyond belief.  As his eyes focused, he noticed that he was surrounded by more of Anson’s Jedi, these having accompanied Speaker Sarith Tovar.  Before he could regain his feet, he saw the Zygerrian extend a slender arm towards him.

“You’re lucky, Speaker.  It was a good thing that we’d split our forces or we’d likely all be dead.”  Walking demurely past him, she tossed him a small datanode, the wires still exposed and frayed as if it had been quickly and carelessly pulled from its housing.  “Say what you will about Saani, but she knows her way around electronics.  If I hadn’t lucked out and came across this datanode, we’d all be a cloud of vapor the size of a star destroyer.”  Sarith carefully scanned the hanger, her feline eyes falling upon Ryshhk’s.  “Still…looks like we’ve secured the Mines.  Anson should be pleased.”  She gave a throaty laugh.  The Wookie just nodded, suddenly introspective.

Ryshhk still felt…uncomfortable.  He had to hand it to Saani and Corvus.  They’d had him at their mercy… Yet, he was still alive.  Perhaps…perhaps Kazic did have honor, if the actions of his lieutenants were any indication… Shaking his head, he looked around as well, retrieving his saberstaff from where he'd dropped it.  [You are right: we’ve secured a large cache of crystals, certainly enough for the war…]  What he didn’t voice was the fact that Saani and Corvus had done so as well.

Thinking about the fact that Anson had the numbers, Ryshhk still considered his decision the correct one.  But a small worm of doubt had begun to work its way through the Wookie Speaker’s mind and as he made his rounds helping out the other Jedi that had succumbed to Saani’s auditory weapon, he kept coming back to the fact that he was still alive…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 18, 2018, 02:45:42 PM
Stroke and counter-stroke.  Good tight action ... and mercy.  Ironic, though, because if the final act had gone as planned (BOOM!) they wouldn't have been alive. 

But they didn't kill them directly, either.  And somehow I think that act of mercy will be a telling point as this goes on.  Perhaps a seed that allows for the eventual peace...

Nicely written, Dutchman!  Its vivid and the Vhal'Dan are anything but predictable.  That Corvus and Saani are willing to use all of the weapons at their disposal (blasters ... how crude!) shows both their ingenuity and their desperation.  :-)

Keep 'em coming my friend!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 18, 2018, 11:16:02 PM
Indeed very tight action, I liked the parallel of the direct lethality of Kazic versus Saani...she could easily have simply sliced their heads off to be certain. This is perhaps the confusion inherent in a civil war, fighting those who were 'once brothers' ,definitely seen in Ryshhk at the end...And then there is the speed with which this has gone from a a war of words to blood, once things like this start they take on a life of their own, a momentum no one can stop, there is a feel of that here as everyone is dragged into it.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 19, 2018, 06:02:03 PM
Indeed. 

I have to wonder: What's happening to the non-Jedi population?  Or am I mistaken in thinking this is a world not unlike M'Tzigon, where the Vhal'Dan Knights are only a small component of the population? 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 19, 2018, 06:04:24 PM
Indeed. 

I have to wonder: What's happening to the non-Jedi population?  Or am I mistaken in thinking this is a world not unlike M'Tzigon, where the Vhal'Dan Knights are only a small component of the population? 
That...will be answered in the next chapter!   :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on May 21, 2018, 01:19:32 PM
Indeed. (Sorry, I just had to start my reply with that) This was a great chapter. Fast-paced, well-defined action, but not over the top. I'm not sure I'm okay with Kazic not wanting to feel remorse, but then again, his species is kind of like that already. But like Karm and LSG have touched on, I think the mercy that was shown by Saani will come in to play later.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 21, 2018, 07:34:57 PM
Indeed. (Sorry, I just had to start my reply with that) This was a great chapter. Fast-paced, well-defined action, but not over the top. I'm not sure I'm okay with Kazic not wanting to feel remorse, but then again, his species is kind of like that already. But like Karm and LSG have touched on, I think the mercy that was shown by Saani will come in to play later.
Indeed.

 ;D

TR: EXCELLENT character study of Kazic.  Don't want to say too much more but: bravo!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 22, 2018, 12:57:39 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/iukJaS/sam_brown_sleeping_quarters_finalupdate2.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iukJaS)

A Brief Intermezzo, Part II

“…even though the Pretiosum Kyber Mines hadn’t been completely destroyed, Saani’s quick thinking had effectively shut them down, denying Anson full access.  True, he was able to recover some crystals…but the lattices where the deep veins ran…well, those would require a full team of engineers, earthworks, and equipment that he had neither the time nor access to.  At least not at that time…”  Kazic’s voice was interrupted by a coughing fit that D’Aylanna tried to mitigate with her Healing.

“…Master Kazic…but what about the rest of the populace, especially within Vhal’Uhladv?”  D’Aylanna’s gentle voice mirrored her soft touch, her dark eyes concerned for the Anzati Master.  “Surely there would be many engineers among them?”

For a moment Kazic’s red eyes lost focus, immersed within a past that haunted him.  “Oh yes…the population of Vhal’Uhladv numbered over four million alone.  Poor souls…”  For a long while he fell silent until, finally, D’Aylanna recalled him.

“Kazic?  Kazic!”  Suddenly he turned to her, his face drawn but his eyes clear.

“…We—that is, Anson and I—had…had an unspoken rule: ‘Do not involve the civilians in our affairs.’  If only…”  Again, he coughed, only this time briefly.  When Kazic had collected himself again, he continued.  “…For a time…there were no civilian casualties, no collateral damage.”  Another tear escaped his eye, slowly rolling down his wrinkled gray skin.  “…But within half a year, that had changed.  Neither Anson nor I knew which side was responsible, but during one of the many skirmishes between his faction and mine…we…there… There was a…full-scale Force battle in the heart of the city, the urban sector adjacent to the Stryka Annix Botanical Gardens: the Promenade it was called.”  He sighed.  “…To this day…I don’t know exactly what happened.  But…the resultant deaths were no less real…or haunting…”

Again, Kazic’s voice trailed off, his eyes staring deep into the past.  “…There was…a terrible series of events leading up to the ‘Promenade Incident.’”  Kazic’s face changed, his body shaking, this time in laughter, self-deprecating, sardonic laughter.  “‘Promenade Incident.’  As if…making it sound so…clinical…detached…could mask the brutality of the day.”  As his eyes focused on D’Aylanna’s, Kazic suddenly became deathly serious.  “I still don’t know exactly what happened but…someone did something that ignited an intense fire, one that quickly burned through the grasslands of the Grounds, spreading in no time to several of the standing buildings and structures surrounding the Grounds.  Well, this weakened not only the structures themselves but… But then the fire reached the district's repulsor generators.  And—even as the battle raged—the entire Promenade Sector began to collapse, several buildings initially…”  Silently, tears began to fall across his sunken cheeks.

“…And the people living, working there?”  D’Aylanna asked although she’d already guessed.

Nodding, Kazic confirmed the awful truth.  “Once the repulsors were compromised, it was only a matter of time before the entire district collapsed.  And a short time at that…”  The last he whispered.  “It was a tragedy and a debacle of the worst kind.  Thousands died…tens of thousands…  Of course, Anson and I both blamed the other…but we were both to blame, regardless whose Jedi actually caused it.  Maker knows that I should’ve been punished…”  Again, Kazic’s smile was contemptuous, his laughter derisory.  “…How appropriate that I was…”

D’Aylanna pursed her blue lips, her curiosity still unanswered.  But before she could press, Kazic began speaking again.

“…We…‘suggested’ that the remaining civilians leave the city proper, abandon Vhal’Uhladv altogether.  Most did.  Some stayed.  Even fewer…joined, either Anson or myself…”  He closed his eyes.  “…But even with those volunteers, Anson’s faction outnumbered mine, almost three to one.  But…I was able to make do…”  Kazic shook his head, spitting.  “‘Make do.’  I never fought against him directly, always in precision strikes, flanking maneuvers, surprise attacks… I simply did not have the numbers.  So I used every other advantage I had, namely that I’d seen many more wars than Anson.  And, tactically, I could out-think him.  Tried to keep him guessing.  Guerilla tactics.  Whenever he thought I was going after ‘Aurek’ I would head towards ‘Besh.’  Always doing the unexpected…”  Another coughing fit interrupted him, this time doubling Kazic over.  Spitting loudly, D’Aylanna could see that the spittle was mostly blood.

“Master Kazic…what happened?”  Her smooth olive skin reflected the soft light of the room as she sat next to the Anzati Master’s medcouch.

Gathering himself, Kazic continued.  “…Reality.  Anson knew—just as I did—that in any war of attrition, he had the advantage.  He could afford to lose people; I couldn’t.  It was as simple as that.  And, for all of the successes that my tactics had won me, he still had thousands more than I did.”  Kazic’s head dropped, his face fallen and despondent.  “…Soon to have several hundred more…”  Even though he said it quietly, D’Aylanna heard him.

“‘Several hundred more?’  What do you mean, Kazic?”  But, again, D’Aylanna already had an idea.  And as soon as Kazic spoke, she was proven correct.

“…As I said, I was punished for my roll in the Promenade Incident.  For that, I willingly take responsibility.  But…”  Again, his voice became a whisper.  “…it was not I that was to bear the yoke of said punishment…”  If he had cried softly earlier, Kazic now sobbed.  “…How many had to die as a result of my blindness?  My hubris?  My stupidity?”  D’Aylanna quietly stroked his brow, silently allowing him his self-reproach.  Slowly, his sobbing subsided and he continued.  “…As I said before, tens of thousands had been killed in the collapse of the Promenade.  But not once had I thought about whom that may affect… Maker damn me for the fool that I was…”  This time he was silent for a very long time.  When next he spoke, he startled D’Aylanna.

“…I had decided to commit the majority of my forces against Anson in what I felt—knew—was a decisive offensive.  He would not be expecting such a commitment nor would know of my true aims… Or so I had thought.  As I said: I was a fool…”

D’Aylanna said nothing, knowing that Kazic’s self-condemnation was all-consuming.  And, as he continued, it was as bad as she’d feared; worse, truth be told.

“…Vhal’Uhladv was now an open-theater for us to war upon each other.  And I intended to take advantage of that fact.  First, I had a sufficiently strong force attack Anson’s Jedi with a feint at the Crystal Processing Station in the Underworks…”  Staring straight ahead, his eyes could see the plans as clear as the day that they’d been made.  “But the real objective and the one that the main assault group converged upon were the Food Storage Silos.  With those in my possession, I knew that I could use them as either ‘carrot or stick’ for Anson’s army: ‘Join me, surrender, or starve.’  And my Jedi were ready…”

D’Aylanna’s face was full of her concern and she hurt for Kazic, especially since she thought she could almost fill in the details of Kazic’s disastrous attack.

“…Corvus and Jorol were leading our decoy forces while Saani, El’kar, and myself lead the main assault…”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 22, 2018, 01:07:37 PM
Here we go.    Marching north to Gettysburg...  :-(


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 22, 2018, 03:24:21 PM
That's an interesting point to have an 'intermezzo', especially given the importance of this Promenade incident i'd have though it would be a chapter of its own, like from the POV of the 'boots on the ground'...but to the extent that you want to keep it an event lost int he mess of a civil war i can understand that.  Seems Kazic is reaching a point where his confession is becoming much more painful and personal...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 22, 2018, 05:22:22 PM
Yeah, I liked the effect.  I suspect we're still going to get the nuts and bolts of what happened, but the Intermezzo sets it up, resets our frame and re-focuses the story at this next critical juncture.  Its a nice effect.  :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 15, 2018, 06:18:47 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gQOtkJ/alluring_black_onyx_necklace_and_moon_pinterest_hills_gold_to_inspire_your_home_decor_amazonalluring_black_onyx_necklace_and_moon_pinterest_hills_gold_to_inspire_your_home_decoralluring.jpg) (https://ibb.co/gQOtkJ)

Chapter 17: Day of Counted Sorrows, Part I

Kazic stood tall in front of the holoprojection, his arms folded as he slowly stroked his black goatee.  His discerning red eyes kept staring at the schematics, looking, searching, divining…or at least attempting to do the last, if he could.  And for what was the hundredth time, he played all possibilities in his mind, everything that his experiences could anticipate, and trying to predict what Anson would do…

K’ompo, you’ve done all that you can.  And you’ve planned for every contingency thinkable.”  Saani’s quiet voice came from behind him, making the crowded room shrink away until it seemed that it was only his wife and himself.  It was a pleasant fiction…and one that he simply didn’t have time to entertain.  Still: he smiled appreciatively, their bond in the Force connecting, surrounding, and flowing through them.  Breathing a sigh, he turned his head and returned to the scene at hand.

Surrounding the holoprojection were his primary captains: Saani, El’kar, and Master Gray Candurous Eriston, a powerful Sullustan Jedi and one of the key strategists for Kazic’s army.  He was one of the rare Sullustan males belonging to several Warren-clans, testament to his strength in the Force.  This made him a rather lucrative commodity to the “Fems” of his species and a highly attractive mate.  So it was that, standing behind him were over half-dozen of his offspring, Warren-siblings all, or “Lequana” as they were known.  One and all, they were competent Force-users.

[The Arbiter is correct, my Kage].  He said in Sullustese.  [Our forces are standing at the ready, awaiting your command].  The short master looked…ready.  Thumbs tucked into his belt, his lightsabers were in easy reach about his armor.  He was about to say something else when a short, young, blonde woman stepped forward from the gathered crowd.

“Excuse me Kage, but I wanted to make a request…if I may…” Her long hair was tied into a tight ball, her slender armor a variant of Kazic’s, her Master.

“Koawan Fayar?”  His former apprentice was staid and stoic, a stark contrast from her gregarious attitude as a teidowan.  He noticed the dark circles under her eyes.  He could empathize; he’d had little enough sleep since this war began… “What is it, Kasah?”  

“Mas—I mean, Kage…I would like ask for the honor of leading the vanguard on the Silos…”  She fidgeted with her lightsaber unconsciously, running her gloved hand across her head.  “…Please, Master?”  Her eyes were clear, if tight.

Kazic was amazed at the young woman.  She’d been elevated to Gray Knight and then koawan subsequently with the militarization of the Vhal’Dan and afterwards, yet not once had she accepted Anson’s way of thinking as acceptable, much less superior.  She’d remained close to Kazic during all of that time; as such, he’d seen her become a strong Gray Jedi and a more-than-capable commander.  Unfortunately, she’d also become much more serious, moreso even recently.  Still, she was one of his staunchest supporters and he thought, an adequate if not outstanding leader.

“Of course, Kasah.”  He said gently, going so far as to rest a hand upon her shoulder.  “You’ll have command of the vanguard.  Masters El’kar and Candurous will supplement with their own forces, forming a pincer, flanking Anson’s Jedi while lending support.  I know that you’ll do well, Kasah.”  He smiled down at the short human.  “May the Force be with you.”  He said softly.  She upturned her lips but seemed distracted.  Not that he could blame her; hers was the most dangerous position.

But he trusted her and knew what she was capable of.  She was still standing in front of him when he noticed the determined set to her face, a question in her eyes.  “Kage…one of my eldest friends, Maenowan Dal’Haril M’Antisa, wanted to ask you for the honor of protecting your person.  He’s…shy and was worried since he doesn’t know you well that he’d…”  Her voice trailed off.  Kazic nodded his head, understanding.  

He’d heard the name before: Dal’Haril M’Antisa was a rare Caamasi Gray Jedi, one that had maintained a strict pacifist position.  He’d sided against Anson in every single vote.  …And Kasah vouched for him… He smiled.  “Of course, Kasah.  I’d be honored.”  He almost laughed.  …And just how much “protection” can a pacifist give me…?  But Kasah had asked… Looking up, he saw that she had turned to leave.  Rubbing his head against the migraine that threatened to distract him, he thought about what next was needed.  As Kasah Fayar disappeared from sight, Kazic gave commands to everyone else in the room, delegating what he knew he could whilst readying himself for the conflict ahead.

…Strange…usually the daen nosi would have appeared by now… He thought.  But…perhaps that portended well.  Regardless, this offensive would require his full attention.  But with that in mind…well, he’d learned to trust his instincts.  Without calling attention to the fact, he surreptitiously positioned himself by his wife but also away from all others.

“…Saani, take a contingent of snipers, sentinels, guardians, and shadows; I want you on overwatch just in case…”  He quietly told her, his voice almost silent so as only to be heard by Saani’s ears alone.

“…What is it K’ompo?”  While she kept her face expressionless, Kazic heard the concern in her voice.

“…Probably nothing but my own paranoia…but keep your movements secret.  Have the shadows take up concealed forward positions and find the best vantage you can just in case…”  Nodding her head, Saani clandestinely gathered those Jedi and operators that she knew that she could trust with their discretion.

Meanwhile, Kazic turned back to the holofeeds, intent on the three-pronged attack that should surprise Anson’s guards.  Too late for much else; his forces were committed.  As one, all eyes in the bivouac turned towards him, anticipatory.  Without so much as blinking, Kazic intoned a single word, his mind having moved on from Kasah and Saani.

“Proceed.”

            <<<<< >>>>>

Everything was in place.  Corvus and Jorol’s assault force was by this time attacking the Crystal Processing Plant.  Even as Kazic kept watch from his bivouac, numerous holoprojections relaying real-time images, he saw that Anson had already pulled three over-strength battalions from their original positions along the Vhal’Uhladv perimeter, specifically the East Quadrant.  …Perfect…  Kazic thought.  That left the Food Silos under the protection of the two remaining battalions.

For which his small army was more than a match for.  He wondered if he could take the majority of them alive; he’d accepted that in war people died but that didn’t mean that he had to like it nor that he shouldn’t do something to help allay the loss of life.  He suddenly smirked.  Still, if it came down to the choice, he would always choose his people over Anson’s.

He checked his chronometer.  …30 seconds…  His eyes scrutinized the half-dozen holoprojections.  …Stop worrying; I’m sure that the daen nosi would warn me…  He took comfort in that thought.

He would later rebuke himself for such ad hominem thinking.

Keying the main frequency for comms, he quietly spoke.  “On my command, engage.”  Again, he said a silent prayer; uneasy as he felt he had no right to do so.  “Execute.”

Within seconds, the Jedi under Koawan Kasah’s command hit all of the bored guards.  Quickly advancing over the compromised line, the Vhal’Dan commandos were as silent as they were efficient.  In under a minute, Kazic’s forces were swarming over the Silo grounds, Anson’s guards either unconscious or dead.  And while they had yet to penetrate further into the facility proper, their early success had buoyed their spirits.  Confident, Kasah’s group followed her as she took them further and further into the structure.  There were exposed pipes, conduits, and condensation lining the entire passageway.  The lamps became more sporadic as they infiltrated further in.

Kazic kept an observant gaze on the other holofeeds showing the progress of Corvus’ and Jorol’s forces.  The fighting was brutal; both armies close enough to engage in hand-to-hand.  Hundreds of lightsabers played across the ‘feed, much of the detail lost in the chaos of the skirmishes.  He knew that he could trust Corvus and Jorol to do what was needed…but he still had a nagging feeling.  And still the daen nosi had not appeared…

Something caught Kazic’s eye, something seemingly innocuous.  Focusing his attention fully upon the main ‘feed, he saw Kasah’s forces enter into an unlit tunnel.  …That’s not right… He was already keyed into Kasah’s frequency when he pinged her comms.  “Kasah…you are proceeding down an unlit passageway; please explain.  The Silos’ Control Room is perpendicular to your position.  How copy?”

He was met with silence.  …That’s not right… He thought.  Perhaps Kasah’s comms were being jammed…?  …But if that were the case, then why was the holofeed unaffected?  Something made him contact Saani.  “Saani?  What’s your position?” He said quietly.

After a second, Saani’s voice came back over comms, a clear and strong connection but her voice was subdued.  “Overwatch, main junction; shadows on recon.  No one saw us and we’re awaiting Kasah’s confirmation of ‘vornskr.’”  “Vornskr” was the codeword for securing the Control Center.  “…What’s wrong, Kazic?”  

Kazic couldn’t think clearly.  “…Saani, I…I’m not certain…”  Was something wrong?  Or was he just being paranoid?  Staring at the main holofeed, he thought that he saw movement around the perimeter by where El’kar’s forces were located.  …That’s not right… He thoug—

Inhaling, he finally focused on the here and now.  …Not thinking clearly, repeating myself, this…unease…I…I think I’m under the effects of Force Suppression…!  Quickly going through a meditative cleansing technique, he refocused his senses.  Even then, he felt as if his head were underwater.  That shocked him; he knew his own mental abilities were amongst the strongest…well, short of Ari’s People… Inhaling slowly, he made himself concentrate, using all of his willpower…

And felt it: a potent inundation of Force Suppression.  …But…how…?  He knew that for him to feel the effects this bad, the person must be…close.  And very powerful.  Without calling attention to himself, he casually looked around, all of his senses alert, the Force flowing from him.  And as he fought to clear his head, he thought that he could almost see the faint outlines of the daen nosi

…there…

Yes…he could now just make it out.  There they were, pulsing almost violently, coiling around themselves, leading directly to…

Kazic blinked.  …no…NO…Dammit, NO…!  Now that he knew what to look for, he could clearly see the daen nosi as they made an undeviating connection from him to…

Maenowan Dal’Haril M’Antisa.

The Caamasi looked impassive, unconcerned…blank.  By all outward appearances, he was completely expressionless.  But Kazic had studied on Caamas; more importantly, he knew Caamasi behavior.  And the Caamasi Master’s non-emotional attitude was flashing sign of anxiety.  Slowly, nonchalantly Kazic made his way towards Dal’Haril.  “Company commanders, sitrep* ASAP.  How copy?”  He kept his attention on the ‘feeds, seemingly engrossed.  He took another step closer to the Caamasi.

And with another step, the daen nosi disappeared again.  Kazic had to fight the lethargy that he was being buried under.  It took all of his concentration just to maintain his calm visage so as not to arouse any suspicions.  …Two more meters… And as the responses from the Company commanders came back over comms, he took the final step towards Dal’Haril.

The Caamasi turned his head, the blank look in his eyes suddenly changed.  And for the first time in his long life, Kazic saw something that he never would have expected: the Caamasi’s face contorted in hatred.  Simultaneously, his hands moved to the voluminous sleeves of his gray robes, removing the hidden lightsabers that he’d secreted in concealed pockets.  Igniting both blades—one green, the other teal—he lunged at Kazic.

Still fighting off the effects of the Force Suppression, Kazic’s reflexes were slow.  And while he barely got his own lightsaber out, the blue blade just intercepting Dal’Haril’s green, the Caamasi’s teal blade burned into Kazic’s left pauldron.  The armor withstood the plasma blade for a few seconds before it shattered but it gave the Anzati Master those precious seconds to recover, if not entirely.  Still, the teal blade burned his shoulder after destroying the pauldron.  Thankfully, the cut was neither deep nor debilitating.

Snarling, the Caamasi wordlessly attacked, his two sabers hammering at Kazic’s defenses, trying to press advantage while the Anzat Kage was still preoccupied.  Again, Kazic was too slow to avoid the sudden, powerful kick that knocked him back, crashing into several storage crates.

Acting entirely by instinct, he sent several of the crates that had fallen upon him flying through the air towards Dal’Haril.  With an almost contemptuous wave of his hand, the Caamasi diverted the incoming impromptu missiles, using them as an obstruction between himself and Kazic and any of the other Gray Jedi that were attempting to come to the Anzati Kage’s aid.

Kazic kicked himself up, lightsaber at the ready.  At least he was no longer floundering under the affects of Force Suppression.  But then he was overwhelmed by the Caamasi’s incoming mental attack.  

Even as he shook his head to fight off the assault, he felt the invasive metaphysical bombardment that overpowered his mental defenses.  His lightsaber dropped unremembered to the floor.  And suddenly, it was the night that Ari’s People had came…

Once again, he was fighting—losing—against Kiraea.  Every trick he’d learned, every iota of training that he recalled, every skill and power that he possessed…it was nothing.

Less than nothing.  And even as she toyed with him, he knew that he was close to losing control… And he knew that if that happened…his regret would be eternal.  But…it spoke to him, beckoned to him, both enticing and revolting.

The soup.

And even as the mindless…thing that Kazic had become, there was a miniscule part of him that was aware.  And horrified.  And there was nothing that he could do to stop himself…

Very far away, a small lone whisper of a voice shouted at him.  And just as he had with the daen nosi, he slowly, ever so slowly attempted to find his center again.

…Saani…

Almost infinitesimally, his consciousness was…shunted forward.  Focusing his eyes, the scene before him coalesced slowly into being.  Time seemed meaningless.  Brief, crystal clarity filled his perceptions.  Innocuous, almost mundane minutiae were thrust foremost within his awareness…

…the holofeed images kept digitizing, their connection imperfect the result of covert jamming…

…the light from the bivouac entrance was obfuscated, thanks to all of the detritus blocking it…

…the smell of burnt flesh was pungent to his nose, his flared nostrils even more sensitive than normal…

…the green-white and teal-white glows from Dal’Haril’s lightsabers cast a sickly hue across everything, including the blood flowing from his head where he’d been hit by one of the containers, turning it black…

…the heat from the blades seemed especially potent…or maybe it was just the burn on his shoulder that he felt…

… Dal’Haril brought the lightsaber in his right hand up, the blade dropping in a powerful overhand chop…


With vivid abruptness, time returned to normal, everything around Kazic flowing as if they needed to catch up.  And, once again, Kazic reacted instinctually.  Calling forth his dropped lightsaber, Kazic sent the saber flying at the Caamasi.  Even unignited, the dense metal hilt was a potent ballistic weapon, crashing into the Caamasi’s forehead, momentarily stunning him.  Adjusting the trajectory, Kazic activated the blade as it scythed around, the plasma blade arcing through the air and through Dal’Haril’s neck.  Headless, the Caamasi’s body fell to its knees, losing the grip on both lightsabers.  Falling from lifeless hands, both hilts deactivated, closing down the weapons as they fell to the floor unceremoniously.  

Breathing heavily, Kazic rose to his feet on unsteady legs.  By the time that the rest of his Jedi had rejoined him, the Anzat had regained most of his composure.  As concerned questions came from all sides, Kazic focused his eyes upon the main ‘feed, mostly ignoring the questions.

Even as he was clearing his head, he could deduce what was happening.  Reaching the main databank, Kazic pinged his wife’s comms.  “…Saani.  I need for you to set up multiple sniper nests.  If you see any enemy contingent, terminate with extreme prejudice.  Keep an eye out for Kasah’s squad but for her specifically; there’s some…things I need to know from her.”  He switched to the main frequency.  “Masters El’kar and Candurous, pull back immediately.  Watch for traps as you do so, especially on your flanks.”

* sitrep: situation report


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 15, 2018, 06:27:37 PM
Chapter 17: Day of Counted Sorrows, Part II

No sooner had he received acknowledgements then Master Candurous’ voice erupted over the comms.  [Kage!  We’re under attack!  They were hiding behind us!  Numbers indicate an over-strength brigade].

Kazic rubbed his head with his hand.  “Candurous, prepare to pull out of your position; you’ve been compromised.  I want you to punch out of there, link up with Master El’kar, keep it tight, exfil at designation ‘Gornalak.’  How copy?”  His head was clearing but he still felt as if he’d fought a gundark.  And lost.

[Solid copy, Kage.  See you at the FOB*].  Even before the Sullustan had broken contact, Kazic was scrutinizing the collective holofeeds.  He saw that Candurous’ cohort was retreating in good order, his flank holding against Anson’s army.  Saani’s “target acquisitions” squad was providing cover fire as Candurous’ forces pulled back.  And El’kar…

El’kar had been cut off, caught in a pincer.  …How in the hell…? Kazic wondered.  Looking closely, he could see a large contingent of Anson’s Jedi pressing hard on El’kar’s left flank; already he could see that Anson’s forces were attempting a double envelopment.  “El’kar.  El’kar!”  Kazic tried to raise them on comms but met with only static.  Which probably meant that comms were being jammed.  And with so many buildings surrounding the Silos, trying to find the electronic countermeasures would be akin to finding open water in a Tatooine desert.  Instead, he pinged Saani’s comms again.  “Saani, I need you to divert some shadows to flank El’kar’s position and pull a couple of fire teams off of your main contingent and give me some fire discipline to help El’kar.  If you concentrate on the...southern line—soften them up a bit—then you can help him…”

As he continued to give orders, Kazic kept an eye on the ‘feeds, seeing the results of Saani’s help.  Unfortunately, El’kar’s position was in danger of being overrun, Anson’s Jedi having been reinforced…by Kasah’s contingent he now saw.  …Well…now I have the confirmation that I’d wanted… The burning betrayal that he felt in the pit of his stomach was fierce but he smothered it.  He needed his faculties about him, all of them…and anger would only cloud his better judgment.  

But if Kasah had gone over to Anson then he must know all of Kazic’s tactics for the day.  Even as he thought this, he saw the inexorable tide of Anson’s Jedi finally overwhelm El’kar’s position despite Saani’s assistance.  There were just too many of them.  

Looking at one of the other ‘feeds, Kazic saw that Candurous’ contingent was able to make a retreat, thankfully having lost less than a quarter of their numbers.  …Still too many… Yes, he’d prevented a complete rout…but his people were still losing, and badly.

“…Saani, Candurous, El’kar…all commanders…full retreat.  Pull back to ‘Gornalak’ for exfil.  Air support inbound with weapons hot.  Repeat: air support inbound with weapons hot.”  

Amidst the chaos of battle, Kazic scrutinized the multiple encounters.  Reports from Corvus and Jorol’s attack force at the Crystal Processing Plant had finally broke through the jamming: heavy causalities had resulted as they’d encountered five times the numbers than previous intelligence had reported.

“They dinna showed themselv’s ‘ntil we were surround’d.  Th’y ken ‘xactly how m’ny ‘f us and our tact’cs.”  Corvus’ rage was evident, even with the poor holofeed.  “Kage…we we’re b’trayed.”  The Devaronian’s visage looked like a devil from myth, blood running from his mouth.  Jorol looked worse.

“Kage, we’re in a holding pattern but we need to break out and soon.”  Kazic’s face was completely stoic.  Then, slowly he nodded.

“Corvus, Jorol.  Retreat.  Keep your withdrawal under the cover of your heavy repeaters as much as possible and save as many as your people as possible.  If I had the resources, I’d send them to you.  But…you may now consider this confirmation of ‘Mortis.’  Confirm, please.”  Kazic’s face was impassive but he felt anything but calm.  …Dammit... He hoped beyond hope that as many of his people were able to retreat.  But the pragmatist in him knew that the butcher’s bill was going to be much higher today than he’d ever expected.  Even standing rigid in the bivouac, Kazic kept his demeanor approachable, confident, and in control.  What he felt was another matter entirely.  Loss, turmoil, but mostly pure, unbridled rage.  He’d been betrayed by one whom he’d trusted, one whom he’d committed to the linchpin of his strategy.  And she had betrayed him, her friends, and comrades.

…Betrayed…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As casualty reports kept coming in, so too did other information.

Corvus and Jorol were able to escape, retreating back to the FOB.  But only half of their contingent had returned.

Candurous fared the best, losing only about a quarter of his force.  They were the first to return.

But El’kar’s company was in shambles, El’kar himself was at death’s door, missing half his face, his right arm and leg.  As such, the short Gray Master was clinging to life, floating in a bacta-tank.  When Kazic tallied a mental count, the fire in the pit of his stomach threatened to flare even hotter.  Of El’kar’s numbers, only one in five had returned.

And Kazic hadn’t even counted the wounded yet…

K’ompo…this is not your fault.”  Saani’s quiet voice tried to reassure him.  She’d only lost two and had kept several hundred more from being overrun by Anson’s reinforcements but she still felt as if she could have done more.  Nothing could have been further from the truth and Kazic recognized that fact, especially as his wife desperately fought exhaustion.  …By the Maker, I love her…  His brief thought helped to buoyed his spirits.  Somewhat.  “K’ompo.”  The serious intensity in Saani’s voice immediately caught his attention.

“…What is it, Kanp’a?”  Even though no one was near them in the bivouac, he lowered his voice.  Standing next to his wife, he put his forehead upon hers, calmly embracing and finding comfort, support, and love within each other’s arms.  But Kazic knew that it was all too ephemeral.  “What do you need to tell me?”

Saani looked up into her husband’s red eyes, showing anger for the first time.  “…One of the shadows was able to catch her, alive.”  And now that Kazic was really focused on his wife, he could sense her unbridled rage, closely and carefully controlled under the surface.  “I have her under guard.”

Walking briskly from the bivouac, Kazic and Saani were soon joined by all remaining captains: Corvus, Jorol, and Candurous and a contingent of sentinels.  Everyone in camp had heard of the assassination attempt on Kazic’s life.  …As if morale wasn’t already low enough… He thought.

Saani pulled up short of the camp brig, instead taking the small party on a slight detour, finally stopping in front of one of the many unremarkable mobile storage units.  Keying open the door using an exorbitant number of biometric locks, the unit admitted them inside, the door almost closing on their heels.  While most of them needed to allow their eyes to adjust to the lower illumination, Kazic’s infravision took over almost immediately.  It was for this reason that he noticed her first.

Koawan Kasah Fayar was shackled on her knees, binders connecting both wrists and ankles to one another.  She’d been hastily fitted by a Force-inhibiting collar which went from the bottom of her throat to right under her jaw.  Blood dripped from her mouth, nose, and ears while the left side of her face including her eye was swollen almost completely shut.  Kazic did not once let the anger and contempt that he felt show upon his face.  By the time the rest of their eyes had adjusted, Kazic had moved to stand in front of her.

“…Why?”  Came the Anzati Kage’s quiet question?  Even with his arms hanging at his side, Kazic looked intimidating, red eyes hard and unforgiving.  Behind him, Saani’s own face looked disappointed.

Slowly raising her head, Kasah looked detestably at Kazic.  “…You don’t even know?”  Her smile turned sardonic.  “…Of course you don’t.  If it isn’t against you or your whore wife, you don’t even care.”  Spitting blood, Kasah laughed, or at least tried.  It quickly turned to a coughing fit with more bloody spittle.

Kazic said nothing, staring at his former apprentice.  Slowly inhaling, he kneeled down to look face-to-face with Kasah, his voice low, penetrating.  “Tell me.  Or I’ll pull the knowledge from your mind, leaving you lobotomized in the process.”  For the first time since he’d seen her, Kasah looked fearful.  But it was soon replaced with anger and, when her eyes looked into Kazic’s, hate.

“…You never once thought to protect the people of your city…”  When Kazic didn’t speak, Kasah rolled her eyes, sighing exasperatedly.  “…The Promenade Incident.  You never once went there, never once thought to see what you could do?”

Kazic was taken aback.  “Kasah…what are you talking about?  I sent Civil Relief Aid as soon as I learned of it.”  The small woman’s laugh was disdainful.

“…Oh yes, you took the path of least resistance, never one to lower yourself from your ‘throne on high.’  What did you do afterwards?  NOTHING!  Not once to check up on those who were injured, those who’d died, those who’d lost…family.”  Kasah’s head dropped or at least as much as the damper-collar would allow, quiet tears falling from her eyes.  “…You never once thought to ask those who follow you about their loss…”

Kazic could guess but Kasah shouted before he could respond.  “…My PARENTS died!  They died believing in you!  And you betrayed them!  You betrayed us!”  And then, quietly.  “You betrayed me…”  More tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I am so sorry for your parents’ deaths.  I commiserate with you—with all of my fellow Vhal’Dan—where every single death is a tragedy… And I know that this doesn’t help, but winning this war takes precedence.  Know that my absence was not indicative of any lack of empathy.  Kasah…each death—even those on Anson’s side—weighs upon me, more than I can tell you.  You know of the hurt and loss of your parents.  Imagine that…but a hundred…a thousand times worse.  That is my burden to bear.”  Kazic’s face softened.  “You’ll never know how sorry that I am…for you, for them, for everyone who has lost something and someone in the name of this war…”  Kasah’s eyes met his, her gaze intense and direct.

And she spit directly in Kazic’s face, laughing almost savagely.  “Spare me your empty platitudes, for that’s ALL that they are…petty words.  You’ll never know what any of us have lost… Except maybe as a tactical deficit.  Mine is not the only grievance—”  Her smile became predatory.  “—and you will soon find that over two hundred of your Jedi have had enough of your lies and despotism.  They follow a true leader now: Anson.”  The last sentence was spoken triumphantly.  Had Kasah not been in binders, she would have stood tall, confident, and righteous.  

Kazic said nothing, even as he stood.  His face completely impassive, when he spoke, his voice mirrored his visage.  “…I could tell you everything that I have done in response to everything: from the Promenade Incident to the destruction of the Intrepid.”  That last had been in a report that had come in just prior to his leaving the bivouac.  “But you are not listening.  Your grief has blinded you to anything else.  And it is your treachery that cost thousands of lives on the Intrepid…those are your responsibility.”  Kazic’s voice quieted.  “I am truly sorry…but it would not matter to you…to those who have no doubt defected to Anson… And like them Kasah, you’ve made your choice.  And for that, too, I am sorry.  Not for your choice, but for the consequence that your actions have forced upon me.”  Without blinking, Kazic ignited his lightsaber.  No one moved to stop him, no one spoke up in defense of Kasah.  “Kasah Fayar, you are guilty of treason.  May the Maker have mercy upon you.”  Bringing up his lightsaber above his head, Kazic paused for a moment.  “Have you anything to say?”  Kazic’s voice was quiet and without anger.

Kasah looked unafraid.  “Go to hell, you kriffing frellik.”  She punctuated the last word by spitting at Kazic.  An instant later, Kazic’s blade fell, separating Kasah’s head from her body.  The Anzati Kage was already walking out of the storage compartment as the koawan’s body fell to the ground, his hopes as dead as his former apprentice…and friend.

* FOB: forward operating base


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 15, 2018, 06:31:38 PM
Chapter 17: Day of Counted Sorrows, Part III

In the darkness of midnight, Kazic sat in the Atrium of the Kage’s Suite, Vhal’Uhladv shining beneath him, the light constant, illuminating, comforting.  And to him, a complete lie.  Within reach was a gift given to him from the former occupant: Arkady’s favorite Corellian whiskey, 50 years distilled.  Saani was asleep in their shared bed, having exhaustedly done so only at her husband’s gentle urgings.  She had saved so many of their people, saved him.

Yet he’d lost so much.  Almost half of his Jedi had either died or absconded to Anson, to say nothing of his support personnel.  He’d lost almost 2/3rds of his orbital fleet as a result of Kasah’s treachery.  And three minutes hence he’d gotten word that El’kar had succumbed to his wounds.  Anson’s numeric superiority was now an overwhelming advantage that Kazic knew his own tactical skill could not defeat, not anymore.  He tried to keep his spirits up, thinking of the fact that it could have been worse.

And summarily failed.

Despite her betrayal, Kasah’s death also weighed heavily upon his shoulders.  She had been his first apprentice in over 40 years, the promise of her potential soon overshadowed by the rapport and friendship that he’d developed with her.  …She was right…I did fail her…I failed them all…

All of those deaths…all of the betrayal…all of the lost.

…But not Ari…

The thought shocked him, making him sit rigidly upright.  Maybe it was thinking about Kasah—another “adoptive daughter”—but all that Kazic could focus on was his “real” daughter, Aresaea.  Smiling, he momentarily allowed himself to think about the wonderful times with his wife and daughter…the only time that his family had felt wholly complete.  The beautiful smile on Saani’s face, in her purple eyes, her aura in the Force.  The inquisitive girl with the red hair, her aqua eyes belying her youth…growing into the strong, wise, wonderful young woman… He didn’t care that she was not of his blood, his race, his People.

Kazic smiled cynically.  There really was no “Anzati People.”  By and large, he was a stranger in a strange land, having grown up hearing the stories of the galaxy’s underworld, or of some planetary myths perpetuated by a fearful populace concerning the “Anzati monster.”  He was alone, a grain of salt amongst the sand.  Thank the Maker for Saani; she’d given him a home, a family.  He smiled, thinking …At least Ari’s People found her, she’ll never know—

Inhaling sharply, a sudden realization consuming his mind.  Ari’s People.  For long minutes, he was lost in thought, the seeds of hope taking root with the promise to banish the darkness of hopelessness and defeat.  Even as he contemplated the possibility…part of him recoiled at the thought.  …If…I do this…there will be no going back… But as the thought echoed in his mind, he realized that he’d already made the decision.  He had to save his People, the Vhal’Dan.  And he knew how to accomplish it.  Getting up, Kazic walked past the now-forgotten bottle of Corellian 50.

Walking into the bedroom, he quietly went to Saani’s adjoining salon room, grabbing the lone item that was incongruous among her toiletries.

Returning to the Atrium, Kazic had one more lingering thorn of doubt as he held up the object that he’d grabbed: a deceptively heavy, incredibly black necklace with a single small dark orb hanging from the black metal chain.  …I…I should have never let so much time go before contacting her…  His lament soaked through him, not only for what he was about to ask but what he knew he must do.

Or at least what he thought he would do.  If he could have gone back in time, he might have raised more than one concern, one trepidation, one doubt to his past self concerning the cost of such.  But Kazic could only see in the here-and-now, and his eyes were full of no other choice, lest he lead his people to defeat.  What could possibly be worse?

…Much… Came the thought, one he mercilessly crushed, his conviction finally one with his mind.  Closing his eyes, he opened himself to the Force and doing…something…he directed the energies into the orb.  Once activated by his initial contact, the orb began drawing in the Force with an almost vociferous appetite.  And as a dark glow began to permeate from the orb, Kazic could see in his mind the face of a youthful, beautiful (but somehow, older and wiser) face he knew to belong to his daughter.  And across lightyears, the sound of her voice echoed in the Kage’s Atrium as if she were in the very room herself.

“…Kazic…?”  He opened his eyes, taking comfort in the melodious voice coming from the spreading smile of Ari, his and Saani’s daughter.

“Ari…Dear One.”  He let out a quiet breath.  “…I…I am so sorry that I haven’t contacted you before now; I…I was afraid to worry you…”  In his mind—right next to him within the room—Ari reached up to stroke his cheek like she’d done as a child.  Putting his hand upon hers—in his mind—he allowed himself to feel the pains of pride, loss, love, and isolation.  Only with Saani and Ari could he do so…and he desperately needed to protect Saani from his despair.

“…What’s wrong…?”  Her piercing eyes searched his—the now familiar joining between his mind and hers—as she sought even now to learn, to comfort.

Slowly inhaling, Kazic opened his eyes while opening his mind.  And in doing so, told Ari everything that had occurred.  The battles.  The fighting.  The betrayals. 

The deaths.

And before Ari could “speak” further, Kazic posited a series of questions, the answers to which were as frightening as the questions themselves.  And as the darkness of night began to give ‘way to the Galtean day, Kazic said his farewells to his daughter, his plans now in motion.

And when Saani finally arose from her empty bed, she lethargically called after her husband, each time unanswered.  Becoming apprehensive, she called louder, opening herself to the Force, searching.  “K’ompo?!

And softly, both in the Force and echoing through the rooms of the Kage’s Suite, Kazic’s reply came.  “Kanp’a.  In the Atrium.”  As Saani finally entered the bright room, her eyes fell upon her husband, the bottle of Corellian 50 still untouched.  But it was her husband’s eyes that had her concerned most.

K’ompo?  Are you OK?  What is it?”  Saani sat beside the large Anzat, putting her arms around his waist, resting her head upon his shoulder.  For a moment, Kazic did not answer. 

“…Saani…I…I need to tell you something…”  And as he related to his wife the events of the night, her sense of wonder was balanced by her growing uncertainty.  Holding him closely as he finished, she rocked her husband gently.  And just as gently, he spoke three quiet words.

“They are coming.”



Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on June 15, 2018, 09:58:18 PM
From Zearics interlude...
“…Well, let me remind you of something that your Grandfather Kazic told me: ‘youth and vigor will always lose to age and treachery.’”

This shows exactly where Kazic learnt the truth of this, maybe not precisely but close enough.  This is a true civil war now, no more questioning, no more mercy to their former brethren, treachery, summary executions - the assassination attempt was especially disturbing for a Camaasi... 

And Kazic himself...this bit...

"If he could have gone back in time, he might have raised more than one concern, one trepidation, one doubt to his past self concerning the cost of such.  But Kazic could only see in the here-and-now, and his eyes were full of no other choice, lest he lead his people to defeat.  What could possibly be worse?

…Much… Came the thought, one he mercilessly crushed, his conviction finally one with his mind. "


was the crown jewel i think in part three...he know it can get worse, he knows who he is asking for help...but the betrayal he has just experienced - not Kasah - oh no that's too easy - but the betrayal of his past self and morality- has completely changed how he is seeing the situation.

A chapter as tragic as it was compelling.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on June 18, 2018, 07:26:09 AM
Echoing LSG on this one.  Kazik has reached for the "red button" ... and pushed it.  The Vhal Dan, whom he considers HIS people, are those who follow a certain philosophy.  In this action Kazic takes that final step to seeing Anson and his faction as not true Vhal Dan.  They well and truly became the enemy, not just misguided bretheren.

And so the war enters its final - and deadliest - phase...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 21, 2018, 06:02:47 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/g6te4o/star_wars_coruscant_under_fire_by_t45h_d2br65v.jpg) (https://ibb.co/g6te4o)
Interlude-A Day In A Life I

“…By the Maker, the repulsor control station!”  Came a yell from behind the crowd.  Koawan Bamiero Senitt looked on in horror as multiple explosions tore through the facility, the heat and concussive force enough to be felt here.  Even as he ran towards the buildings, he saw the ones nearest the station begin to teeter and sway, their stanchions and supports overwhelmed by the sudden burden upon them.  Without the repulsor fields to mitigate the weight load, Bam knew it was only a matter of time before the entire structure collapsed.  Then he saw that it wasn’t just one building that had been affected by the station’s now-apparent total destruction but in fact the entire Promenade District.

“…Oh shavit…” He said to no one in particular.  …How in the hell did it come to this…? He thought as he raced towards the Sk’ra’Ta Tower, one of the residential buildings.

Bam Senitt had been only just recently been knighted as a koawan by Kage Ovarug a year ago.  And while most of the teidowans and Gray knights that were his peers had gone over to Anson, Bam had been proud to side with the Anzati Kage.  To that end, he’d volunteered for this mission.

Word had come down from the Arbiter Master K’aval herself that their platoon was to act as one of the Kage’s famous feints, the primary objective shrouded in secrecy even from them.  As such, Maenowan Pramman Vedith had tasked them with a swift guerilla strike on one of Anson’s data-compilation buildings.  Their purpose was to distract but if they were successful, so much the better.  They’d met little resistance but there were multiple skirmishes around them, most urban blaster combat, a few lightsaber duels.

But before his squad could achieve their objective, the unthinkable had occurred: a fire had erupted too close to the Promenade, destroying the main repulsor generator.  Bam hoped that the superstructure of Sk’ra’Ta Tower would hold long enough to get everyone out…

Even with his armor, he was a thin man.  Which came in handy considering that some of the hallways and tunnels had collapsed upon themselves, often times creating impassable barriers.  But most blockages he could circumvent or squeeze through, allowing him to reach many groups of people that would have otherwise been cut off.  Between him and his lightsaber, he was able to evacuate many floors of the Tower.  But there was so much more to do…

As the hours progressed, Bam saw dozens of the surrounding buildings fall, ferrocrete dust and detritus mixing with the fire and smoke to create a dark red haze within the Galtean sky, reminding him of one of the Perdition Stories that his ‘Ama would tell him as a child before taking the tests for Force sensitivity.  By this time, some of the battlecruisers that had been in orbit were now parking in geosynchronous positions above Vhal’Uhladv, clearly from both factions, all aggressions forgotten as they fought to establish Relief.  …For all the good it’ll do us in the rank-and-file…we’ll be back to killing each other in a day or two… Bam thought sourly, surprising himself by the realization.  Shaking his head, he tried to convince himself that he was just tired, worried over the fire.  But the thought wouldn’t go away…

The Sk’ra’Ta Tower shuddered violently, recalling Bam to the present.  Drenched with sweat, he fought to keep the perspiration from blinding him, running a gloved hand over his dark bald scalp.  Not bothering to wait to see whether the building was going to disintegrate, the dark-skinned koawan ignited his yellow lightsaber, swiftly cutting a hole in the transparisteel window.  Belaying himself to one of the solid railings in the hall, Bam made sure that there was enough slack on the nylasteel rope to support his weight.  A sudden wrenching noise came from above him.  Without thinking, Bam jumped out of the hole he’d just cut, the nylasteel line snapping taunt after a several meter drop, bringing him to an abrupt stop.  …Thank the Maker… Bam closed his dark brown eyes, sweat dripping from his forehead, as he took a moment to collect himself.

But before he could begin descending, an enormous rumbling crash came from inside the Tower, a screeching sound booming from the window Bam had cut out.  With a lurch, he felt himself go momentarily weightless…

…Until the rushing ground came up to stop his sudden fall.  Somehow—either by luck or the will of the Maker—he’d landed on a collection of chora bushes, mitigating the worst of his injuries, although he’d dislocated his right shoulder.

Before he could focus on the pain, he heard a deafening booming.  Looking up, Bam could see that the Sk’ra’Ta Towers were fast collapsing.  Without thinking, the small koawan began to run as fast as his legs could carry him into the Promenade Plaza Square, not even stopping when the roaring crash quieted.  Feeling the burning in his lungs and right shoulder, Bam went over to one of the standing structured art installations.  Steeling himself and taking a breath, he used the ferrocrete stile to pop his shoulder back into place.

“Kriffing hell!” He quietly screamed as a wave of pain and nausea hit him.  Resting his forehead on the ferrocrete, Bam took a moment to collect himself.

And that’s when he heard the shouting.

Looking up, it was coming from the fifth floor of the Lrd’S’Gry Tower.  It was a small family: two adults, one holding a toddler, the other a young child.  Bam was in motion before he even knew what he was doing.  Standing directly below the family, he struggled to hear them.

Suddenly, one of the adults hoisted the young child over the railing, hanging them as low as their arms allowed.  Understanding, Bam waved a hand, shouting “Ready!”  The adult then let go of the child.

Using the Force, Bam was able to slow the young child—a girl he could now see—while simultaneously directing them onto a vector that would allow him to catch her.  Within seconds, the girl gently fell into Bam’s awaiting arms.  Crying, the girl clung to his neck in a death grip, her sobs mixed with short bursts of talking.  Unfortunately, either the girl didn’t speak Basic or she was shocked into talking only in her mother tongue.  Either way, Bam gently reassured her as best he could while planning on how best to catch the baby.  But it was a moot point…

Before Bam could set the girl down, a large explosion erupted from the doorway, immolating the two adults and the baby.  Following the detonation, the Lrd’S’Gry Tower swayed, fissures appearing all along the outer façade, running from the ground up as far as the eye could see.

Again by instinct, Bam turned and ran, the girl in his arms still crying.  He could feel small rocks hitting his shoulders as the wide building came crashing down, large chunks of ferrocrete hitting Bam on his back, knocking the air from his lungs.  Burning detritus pinned his legs as he collapsed to the ground, careful of the girl in his protective embrace.

Thankfully, Bam had put up a Force Shield around him and the girl.  So instead of crushing his legs (and the girl), most of weight was held at bay.  But…Maker did he hurt.  Looking around, he saw that he was partially buried, rays of orange light shining through although soot, dust, and detritus obfuscated much of the sunlight.

His ears ringing, Bam didn’t hear the people that had seen him disappear under the tide of falling stone, metal, and transparisteel.  Even as the debris was cleared from above him, Bam’s arms encircled the girl as he prayed, a prayer that his ‘Ama had taught him.  Finally, hazy red light of the Galtean sun occulted by clouds and smoke illuminated the small cavity that he was tightly wedged in.  Multiple hands grabbed at him, pulling him and the girl from their would-be tomb.  Holding the girl to his chest, Bam offered them all thanks before inadvertently sinking to his knees.  Speaking to the girl in his arm, he wearily promised, “…just give me…a moment…we’ll get…to safety…”

After a moment, Bam’s delirious mind registered talking, realizing after a moment that they were speaking to him.  “…It’s ok sire…it’s ok…we’ll get you help…” and “…so sorry we couldn’t get to you sooner…please…we’re sorry…”  After a moment, Bam focused before answering.

“…no need to be sorry.  We…we’re OK.  We’ll be fine... Just need some water…and rest…”  Why were they trying to take the girl away from him?  “…stop…stop it…”  But he could not deflect the hands of people around him; his arms could only hold the girl.  Finally, Koawan Riyan Kala’myr, a friend and one of his squad members found him.  From the look of her disheveled brown hair, she’d had as difficult a time as he had…

“What?  Sorry Riyan…but what did you say?”  He thought he’d misheard his friend.  The smoke made him cough and the red haze still hurt his eyes.

Riyan’s light blue eyes were watery and red.  But they also mirrored the compassion that Bam had heard in her voice.  “…Bam…it’s OK…please just…give me the body…”  She’d slowly approached the dark koawan, putting a gentle hand upon his shoulder.  “You did everything that you could, Bam.  Let me have her…”  Bam focused on Riyan, her face, her arms, her hands.  And, finally, he really heard what she’d said.  Slowly, he looked down at the girl in his arms.

Sightless blue eyes looked up at him, the girl’s face almost peaceful.  In fact, except for the small hole in her head where a piece of metal had lodged, she looked perfectly healthy.  When Bam looked back up at Riyan, he could feel tears rolling down his cheeks.

“It’s OK Bam.  Let’s get you to the squad medic.  Let me have her…”  Riyan gently disengaged Bam’s arms, taking the girl’s body from him.  Swiftly, someone put a blanket over his shoulders while someone else led him from the Promenade Plaza Square.

As Bamiero Senitt looked back over his shoulder, he saw a panoramic scene that would haunt him for as long as he lived: Riyan stood to one side, looking at the battlecruisers in the sky, lightning arced from the clouds to the exposed metals of the destroyed buildings as a result of so many particulates in the air.  The sky had turned a deep red as a result of the numerous fires and smoke.  Even though Civil- and Fire-Relief teams had finally arrived using power armor and mini-walkers, Bam knew that there was no hope here.

He had been both right…and wrong.  This wasn’t like the Perdition Stories he’d read.

It was Perdition.  And he was in it.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on June 22, 2018, 08:58:02 PM
So often its the people in between two combatants that suffer the most.  Did these people in the tower - with the oddly familiar name - know or care about the moral issues over which Anson and KAzic fight - they had their child, wanted them safe...and in the argument between how best to do that have lost her and themselves. On top of this theme you really get a sense of Bam's pain - psychological (I loved how he started thinking on the starategic purpose on his mission but in the end only cared about holding that child) and emotional, the stifling heat and smoke as if it was a movie, the last scene was especially vivid I can just see it fitting perfectly in images we see even on our own world in various conflicts where children are in the middle - what are you really gaining by fighting if you're killing your own future I feel was an unspoken idea across this chapter.

Putting those thought aside glad this is day in the life I, because it means there will be a II!   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 23, 2018, 11:23:26 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/bXA8v8/star_wars_the_old_republic_conceptart_C6aym.jpg) (https://ibb.co/bXA8v8)
Interlude-A Day In A Life II

“Ensign Liunb?  The Suppo was looking for you.” A deep, gruff voice came from behind the stout ensign.  Turning, the blonde junior officer stopped to wait as her companion fell into step beside her.

“What did Commander J’Onz need, senior chief?” She asked the mountain of a man that had addressed her.  As wide as they both were, there was barely a centimeter of clearance on each side of the bulkheads with them walking side-by-side.

Looking up, Sar Liunb saw her department senior chief stare straight ahead but his lips trembled as he fought off a smile.  “Something on your mind, senior chief?”  But she could already guess what it was.  She kept her own face controlled but she felt anxious, a not altogether unpleasant feeling…if she was right.

“No ma’am.”  Senior Chief Ju Damaris intoned, his pale face seemingly made of granite.  But his eyes told another story.  And his friend and OIC* knew Ju well enough to guess that she was correct.  Still: decorum had to be maintained…

“Very well.  Please lead the way.”  Ensign Liunb said, keeping her anticipation in check.  As they walked, Sar’s tone relaxed a bit.  “So Ju…how’re your boys doing?  And is it true what I’m hearing?  That Laquil is having a girl this time?”  From the corner of her eyes, she saw Ju’s lips finally smile, if slightly.

“Yes, ma’am.  We’re ecstatic.  This is a first for both of us, especially with Kam and Sol joining all of their boy cousins for the h’Agog’ee.”  The h’Agog’ee was the Vhal’Dan Adolescent Training Regiment that incorporated not only the Youngling’s Education but also the Order’s Pankration Instruction.  As per tradition, children regardless of gender were required to attend no less than two years but most ended up matriculating for much longer.  Ju knew that the h’Agog’ee helped to prepare for the trials and tribulations of life—his own past was testament to that—with the children coming out of it stronger and more self-assured.  “We already have a name chosen.”  He deliberately left the statement hanging.

“…Well don’t keep me in suspense, Ju.  What’s her name going to be?”  Sar adopted an exasperated tone that they both knew was for show.  “…And don’t tell me you named her after Laquil’s mother…”  She was only half-joking.

“Sar Juna Damaris.”  Was all he said.  It had the intended affect.  Sar stopped and, quickly looking around to confirm that no one was looking, she wrapped her arms around Ju, her face having lit up with joy.

“…Oh Ju… I…I’m honored.”  Quickly returning to her place beside the senior chief, she cleared her throat.  “Well…I guess that that means that I’ll be hosting the next celebratory party for you and Laquil.  Please give her my congratulations…and love.”  She said the last as a whisper.

Ju nodded, speaking softly.  “Thank you, Sar.”  Then, louder.  “Forgive me, Ensign, but Commander J’Onz is waiting.”  But he still had the ghost of a smile upon his lips.

Sar nodded.  “Of course, senior chief.”  She said as they both once again fell in side-by-side.

Making their way through the passageways, they both climbed several ladders until they reached the galley.  It was here that they both reported to the Supply Officer of the Intrepid, Lieutenant Commander W’Ade J’Onz.  Looking up from his datapad, the ruggedly handsome Suppo motioned both Sar and Ju over.

“Ah good, Ensign Liunb.”  J’Onz turned towards Ju.  “Thank you, senior chief.  Please see to the inventory consignment; I think one of the petty officers forgot that ‘senth’ comes before ‘trill.’”

“Aye, sir.”  As Senior Chief Damaris left, Commander J’Onz motioned to one of the adjacent cabins, keying the door closed.  Moving around the cramped quarters to sit behind his desk, he exhaled, relaxing.

“Sar…I have great news.  You’re being promoted.”  His hands rummaged around in his desk, finally locating the item J’Onz was looking for.  “Here, catch.”  With that, he tossed the item to Sar.

Catching it deftly out of the air, Ensign Liunb looked down in her hands to confirm what she had hoped that she’d heard correctly.  Sure enough, it was the rank insignia of lieutenant, JG*  For a moment, she was speechless but soon recovered.  “I…thank you, commander!”

Smiling, Commander J’Onz offered Sar a seat and, pulling a bottle from one of the hidden compartments from his desk, he took two glasses and poured for them both.  The dark, honey-colored liquor swirled around the glass while he talked casually.  “I’m proud of you, Sar.  And it couldn’t have happened at a better time.  You see…I’m being transferred to the Indomitable…”  He left the rest hanging in the air.

Sar gulped down the liquid.  …By the Maker, I was right…!  She thought.  Unsurprisingly, it was Corellian 18, a favorite of J’Onz.  “Congratulations, commander.  Have you served on a battlecruiser before?”

J’Onz refilled both of their glasses.  “Yes, but never as Suppo.  And with me gone, the Intrepid needs a new supply officer.  I’ve made my recommendations.  Congratulations, Ensign.  Or should I say, lieutenant.”  They both drank down the Corellian whiskey.

The Intrepid was one of several tactical frigates serving at the pleasure of Kage Kazic Ovarug.  A Valor II-class ship, the Intrepid had almost as much firepower as a battlecruiser, if not the armor.  Still, she was a mean, dangerous ship to be reckoned with.  Besides: Sar absolutely loved the Intrepid.  And she already got along famously with her NCOs*

“Normally I wouldn’t have broke with etiquette and would have waited until the end of this mission…but scuttlebutt is that the Kage is committing to some special offensive, and soon.  And…well, I just thought that the Intrepid would be better served on such a mission with her new Suppo already installed…”  J’Onz grinned, silently toasting Sar before they both gulped down the contents.  As Commander J’Onz was emptying the bottle, warning klaxons all over the ship began to sound.

“Battle stations!  All personnel, battle stations!”

“En—lieutenant, come with me!”  J’Onz barked.

Quickly exiting the cabin, both Lieutenant Liunb and Commander J’Onz made their way to the bridge.  Eschewing the lifts, they climbed several ladders, explosions reverberating the ship.  As they both entered the bridge, the did so amidst a scene of controlled chaos.

“…still no response to hails…”

“…engineering reporting main drive offline…”

“…starboard side turbolaser batteries 1-5 and 26-30 are down…”

“…hull breach on decks 3, 4, and 7; reverting power from aft shields to forward/dorsal…”

“…Captain, I have Koawan Xerda Denatti on channel 3; she’s offering to supplement medical.  Also: Maenowan Oram de’Janneric has combined his Jedi with 2nd Assault Marine Batallion to repel invaders…”

Even as all of this was echoing through the bridge, Sar spied Ju Damaris.  Seeing that Commander J’Onz was currently occupied, she called over to Ju.  “Senior Chief!”  As he approached, she lowered her voice.  “Ju…what’s going on here?”  Another explosion rocked the Intrepid, his time closer to the bridge tower.

“…Sar…we were betrayed.”  Ju nodded towards the battlecruiser just off center of the bridge transparisteel canopy, incoming turbolaser fire creating a green cascade of plasma that threatened to overwhelm the Intrepid’s shields.  “The battlecruiser was broadcasting the correct IFF and even proper mission codes.  But once it was in position, it opened up with a full broadside barrage, targeting our main systems and knocking out several.”  The large NCO motioned towards the rear of the bridge.  It took her a moment, but Sar finally noticed among the crumpled bodies, one of them was Captain Graal Yeh.  The Mon Cal's head had been caved in by some of the collapsing bulkhead.  “The XO* is in the Captain’s seat.  But…it won’t be enough.”  Looking around, Ju’s eyes then focused on Sar’s.  “Several of the volleys compromised the structural integrity of Engineering…followed by surgical strikes of half-dozen proton torpedoes.  They knew exactly where to hit us…”

Another loud report reverberated throughout the ship, this time even more violently.  As Sar looked around, she saw that Ju hadn’t even blinked, his eyes a constant gaze on her.  “…the reactor is going critical…Sar…you’ve got to get the hell out of here…”  Ju’s face was as hard as his voice.  Without warning, he grabbed her, dragging her to one of the many hatches leading to the life pods.  “…You’ve got to tell the Kage and Council that someone betrayed us.  Hopefully before we lose the entire fleet.”  He hit the release on the wall, the hatch noisily opening in a flurry of motion and a sudden release of air.  “Be safe, adelfi.”  Adelfi meant “sister.”  He put his hands on her shoulder, half-pushing, half-dragging Sar into the life pod.

Before he could register the movement, Sar grabbed Ju’s arm.  Pivoting with her legs, she threw the big senior chief through the air and into the life pod.  Momentarily stunned, Ju looked up at Sar, a calm look upon her face.  “I would have loved to see my namesake grow up.  Tell her about me.  I love you and Laquil.  Goodbye, adelfos.”  And with that, she keyed the hatch shut.  Ju felt a sudden increase in gravity as the life pod shot away from the Intrepid.  After a moment, the inertial dampers engaged and the big senior chief was able to strap himself into the chair.  Activating the monitor, he saw the Intrepid speeding away from him (at least, from his perspective).  Angry green lances of plasma continued to strike the frigate, its shields close to collapsing.

Before the monitor could polarize the image, the Intrepid exploded, ripping the dorsal thrusters away from the fuselage, the bridge tower collapsing under the intense increase in gravity as a result of the velocity.  Then, in a series of further blasts, from detonating armaments to multiple reactor furnaces going critical, the area around where the Intrepid had been was suddenly a field of debris and bodies.

The Intrepid had been lost with almost all hands aboard, Ju being one of the lone exceptions.  He stared at the debris field, the last thing that Sar had said to him echoing through his head.

“I would have loved to see my namesake grow up.  Tell her about me.  I love you and Laquil.  Goodbye, adelfos.”  Adelfos.  “Brother.”

Senior Chief Ju Damaris knew that he had to get word to Kage Ovarug or Arbiter K’aval…but he just sat motionless.  Uncertain.  Miserable.

Sar…had given her life so that his family could be complete.  Part of him was thankful.  Another part was remorseful.  And part still was angry.  Angry at Anson and his cronies, the cowardly ambush, the person whomever betrayed them.  But also at Kage Kazic Ovarug; he was at least partially to blame.  But worst…he was angry at Sar herself.  How dare she…

Ju could not even finish the thought.  He knew that part of his problem was despair, another “Survivor’s Guild.”  But right now, he couldn’t help it.

After all…how could he possibly raise children in a galaxy where two men who’d been brothers now fought to kill one another?

And still the despair engulfed him, even as his life pod was picked up by one of the rescue ships and Ju taken aboard, he knew that he would never be the same again.

**********

* OIC: Officer in Charge
* JG: Junior Grade
* NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
* XO: Executive Officer


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on June 24, 2018, 03:35:38 PM
After all…how could he possibly raise children in a galaxy where two men who’d been brothers now fought to kill one another?

I think that pretty much says it all...the price is not just in blood and infrastructure but something far more intangible yet far more important.  Like the first entry start with a completely different  situation - getting a promotion - that is all becomes so irrelevant by the end, how quickly the world turns.  Have to wonder does Ju even have a family to go back to anymore though>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on June 25, 2018, 08:31:07 AM
When this is all over, the Vhal Dan, whatever are left, will have a VERY hard time trusting anyone of their original number ever again.  Perhaps that is why a Hapan is now one of their Council?

But to echo LSG: what is being destroyed is far more precious and intangible than infrastructure, ships, even men.  Its the very fabric of their society.  The great tragedy of this story is that BOTH sides took the actions they took to preserve the Vhal Dan, and it was as a direct result of these actions that the Vhal Dan as they knew it was utterly destroyed...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on July 04, 2018, 06:00:33 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/d08va8/star_wars_the_old_republic_new_storyline.jpg) (https://ibb.co/d08va8)
Interlude-A Day In A Life III

“Master K’rrmerii?  I have the logistics reports for the Kage.”  Said a short human…male.  Ryshhk still had difficulty telling the two genders apart, at least visually; most humans were so…frail.  But their scent… His Wookie olfactory senses were as keen as any of his race and he relied upon that to discern such differences… This human’s name was…Akim.  Yes, Akim Verbenti.  Ryshhk put the datapad that he was examining in his other hand.

[Thank you, Koawan Verbenti.  I will attend to the Kage].  Collecting the datapad, Ryshhk began to peruse the contents as he strode through Anson’s provisional headquarters; the building just recently occupied…an occurrence that had surprised Ryshhk.  Located uncomfortably close to the Promenade District, Ryshhk had wondered why the Kage had made the decision to move… Was it deliberate? 

As he read, his gait slowed, until he stood ramrod straight, rooted to the spot.  …By the Trees… He thought, disgust making his gorge rise.  Scanning the crowd, he inhaled deeply, taking in the dozens of fragrances indicative of those present, his keen nose recognizing a single scent belonging to the person he was looking for.  Making a beeline directly for his target, almost every single person swiftly moved out of Ryshhk’s way as he determinedly walked through the crowded command center, the Wookie Master a full head taller than almost everyone else.

[A thousand pardons, Master Raanh.  But I have a question regarding this…information].  Ryshhk’s moderate tone still carried over and through the bustling noise in the room.  Turning at Ryshhk’s Shyriiwook, the dark human Gray Master affixed a patient smile on her beautiful face, sincere enough looking to fool almost everyone.  Almost.  Ryshhk’s nose had come to recognize especially when this particular human was patronizing him.  Still, he was honor-bound to give her the respect due her station.  When J’Nessah spoke, her voice was pleasant, forbearing…almost ingratiatingly so…

“Hello Master K’rrmerii!  What can I help you with?”  This close, Ryshhk could smell the disingenuousness inherent to this female… He noticed how her dark eyes had a controlled tightness about them.  He had originally thought it had to do with his imposing demeanor, but Ryshhk no longer believed that J’Nessah Raanh was intimidated by anyone other than the Kage.  Well, and Masters Kazic Ovarug and Saani K’aval, he allowed.  He cleared his throat.

[Master Raanh…these reports convey intel and personnel that I recognize as belonging to M…Kazic Ovarug.  What is the meaning of this]?  Ryshhk kept his voice controlled, none of the barking growls that seemed to unnerve most sentients.  J’Nessah’s dark eyes flashed with momentary condescension, gone as quickly as it had come.  But her scent…

Like a burning ingot of durasteel, her disdain for Ryshhk was just as caustic, at least to his nose.  Wookies were careful to just whom they were fully transparent with concerning their physical abilities; it was one of the many tactical advantages that they were very guarded about…

“I’m not sure what you mean, Master K’rrmerii.”  The lie as conspicuous in Ryshhk’s nose as darkness was from sunlight…

Ryshhk sighed, a bass huffing sound that came from the bottom of his throat, his dark brown and black fur covering a chest as broad as two humans.  [Master Raanh…according to these reports, many of Kazic Ovarug’s own koawans and teidowans have betrayed him, even going so far as to provide vital mission codes against their own].  His golden eyes drilled into J’Nessah’s.  [That is not honorable].

Subtly, her stance shifted, her eyes dangerous and condescending.  “…Master K’rrmerii…we are at war.  We are not participating in some contest.  We are not required to adhere to some silly superstitions concerning what constitutes a ‘fair fight.’  The Kage fights so that all of the Vhal’Dan may live and thrive.”  The dark human master crossed her arms.  Ryshhk interrupted, incredulous.

[“All of the Vhal’Dan?!”  Even if that were true, then why are we helping these…traitors to kill their own confederates?!  HOW can that be a part of the Kage’s agenda]?!  He was practically yelling by the end.  Almost everyone was staring at the Wookie Master, most frightened and anxious, some inquisitive.  But not J’Nessah.  Instead…her face had dropped any mask that she usually adopted.  In its place, was a look of pure disdain.

“Ryshhk, the Kage has—and for that matter, those of us that are frankly quite tired of your ridiculous posturing and proselytizing, have—far more on his mind than one of his subordinates questioning his strategy to effect and win this war.  Give that datapad to me.  Now.”  She held out a dark hand, expectation in her eyes, face, and scent.

Ryshhk was taken aback.  Not because anyone had spoken to him in such a fashion—although, no one ever had—but rather that anyone had done so with such…anger, no hatred.  That still wasn’t right.

Ryshhk smelled utter disgust emanating in waves off of J’Nessah.  Gone was the patient and congenial façade.  Now, now he saw her for who she really was.

Just as he saw those surrounding the Kage for whom they were…

Without another word, the Wookie Master slapped the datapad that he held into J’Nessah’s waiting palm.  Without a backwards glance, he left without saying another word.

But he knew now what he had to do.  He’d been wrong; wrong concerning so much.  Actions.  It was the actions of people that bespoke of their character.  Thinking back, he remembered how Master K’aval had deliberately, compassionately…honorably…granted him mercy.

And now, upon retrospect, he’d been the subject of long-suffering and supercilious attitudes.  Pytir Danisen.  J’Nessah Raanh.  Auryn Kerosin’e.  Sarith Tovar.  But the one that stung the most, Ryshhk now realized, was the one person whom he’d truly idolized.

Messer Subiah Fuqua.  The man had been nothing but antagonistic and derisive.  J’Nessah had been the final leaf that broke the branch…

When Ryshhk was alone in the corridor, he produced the datapad—the one that had the amalgamated intel concerning Master Kazic Orarug’s war strategy—and continued reading all of it.  And felt disgusted.

He knew that he must do something, a need to act.  He would meditate, think of the root of his problem.  Once done, Ryshhk knew that he would better be able to negotiate the twisting branches that plagued him…and his resolve.

It was the only honorable course of action available him.  And now, for the first time since this war began, he knew now who was the noble leader.

As he read—May the Trees protect those of the Intrepid and may they forever find shade—he also considered the Force artifacts that Pytir and the other speakers had absconded with and whether or not they truly were worthy of possessing them.  And he knew without a doubt that the answer was “no.”

Ryshhk K’rrmerii found himself in his own quarters before he’d fully grasped the finality of his decisions…and finally appreciated the courage of his convictions.  Silently, he began to pack the few belongings he had about the room.

He’d been wrong—so, so wrong—before.  Ryshhk promised himself that he would not make the same mistake again…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on July 05, 2018, 12:12:48 AM
Once more day in a life provides a very painful view of civil war…How can such a war be fought honourably – is he naïve to think it can be…probably but that’s his culture…now Ryshhk thinks he’s on the wrong side because of his concept of honour – fair call but after Kazics ‘in case of emergency grab black marble’ moment in his last chapter I don’t think Ryshhk is going to find the other side much better…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on July 05, 2018, 06:35:07 AM
There is rarely any honor in war, and less in a 'civil' war.  Ryshhk will likely find some comfort in the fact that Kazik has the more honorable motivations, but in the end you either win or lose, and when the chips are really down it is VERY hard to live by your convictions.   And harder sometimes to die by them.

Which may be where Ryshhk is headed.  I have a hard time believing that he's not already under observation and surveillance...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on July 06, 2018, 07:04:41 PM
Special thanks to LSG; with the most minimal of editing, this is his work in its entirety  :)
*************************************************************************
(https://thumb.ibb.co/ixHcoT/shae_vizla.png) (https://ibb.co/ixHcoT)
Interlude-A Day In A Life IV

She kicked out using a trick Kazic had shown her, but Jarys was not fooled, he slammed down on her leg with his boot then grasped her hair and lifted her up.

“How did you know that trick!”

“You broadcast it too loud in your thoughts…” he gently set her back down.

“You need to clamp down on your intentions, the flow of your unconscious mind is too loud, I saw the connections you were making before you knew it consciously and followed them into your memories, pulled the technique you wanted to use before you had time to enact it….”

Her brow furrowed as she thought through the technique…it was invasive and predictive…but highly effective – to know how to counter your opponents move before they knew what move they were going to make…

“That’s enough for today.” he wandered back to the nearby rock that served as bed and seat atop the half frozen rock strewn steppe in the far north.

She knew now it was most certainly not enough for today—it did not end—at any moment he might lunge at her, set a pack of vorynx... The most impressive so far had been secretly telekinetically piloting a flight of three fighters to chase her guns blazing across the steppe for nearly a day.  

There was no point of safety, no real rest.

“The Vhal’dan…” he noted after a sip of water, “Taught you well…but they are victims of their own physical, mental and aetheric limitations…you’ve picked up those limitations, you think too linearly…they couldn’t push you like you needed…didn’t force you to integrate and use all of the abilities the Goddesses have granted you.”

It was a high level of praise in a roundabout way…she wasn’t sure if Kazic would agree he was “limited” in his outlook…but there was a truth…Kazic and Saani could never have taught her how to make use of her superior strength and dexterity like Jarys could…analyze an opponent’s movements using multiple levels of consciousness and cross reference against multiple predictive models in her own mind…and there were abilities they were simply not able to perform with the aether as they lacked the concentration and sheer power to do them for extended periods.

She quickly shifted her head and opened a teleport shield in front her, the shikkar shifting in reality from an inch from her neck to Jarys forehead then back to the sheath.

“Case in point…Kazic is an able warrior…but his visual sensors and synaptic pathways couldn’t have reacted to that in time...to teleport an object that large that fast and accurately would drain 16.7% of his aetheric stamina…you and I are not so limited…still…” Jarys paused kicking off his boots.

“He has abilities and advantages we do not as Kiraea learned…these we must learn better and counter…”  There was an undertone to his intent that worried Ari.

“You think we’ll have to fight him…and the Vhal’Dan…”

He looked at her sadly,

“You know…I have Outsiders I consider friends…but they are Outsiders…if the time came…You mustn’t be divided against yourself; your compassion for Kazic and Saani is the Goddesses compassion in your heart…”

Jarys naturally wouldn’t speak the specific Goddesses name as was fitting for a male.

“But it must be tempered by Their wisdom also…” Guardian training was as much mental as physical—not unlike the Vhal’Dan—but much looser, there were not specific lessons, like their rituals they were adaptive to the individual and situation.

Her response could not be “wrong” but some would be more fitting than others.

“A house divided cannot stand,” she replied, “If my love for Kazic, Saani, Tsarvung, Syrena, Arnis…even Jorol, and D’arial divides me from People…”

Once more her brow furrowed as she batted off an aetheric thorn against her mind; People were never safe anymore…

“Kazic…the Vhal’Dan…are divided…they are not one People like us, their diversity is a strength, but also a weakness…” the words underwrote the more complex thoughts she transferred across—Kazic and Anson were both Vhal’Dan but also adhered to other ideals—justice, democracy, liberty…things that were not real and in different ways… This could be a strength and lead to innovative outcomes from differing perspectives…but taken too far.

The People cared only for each other, their planet, their animals and plants, and Goddesses—real things not concepts—there was unity…but this could be a weakness with group-think…

“If it’s out of balance...it falls apart, destroys itself or can’t resist external threats as well…”

Guardian training was mutual, Jarys learnt as much as Aresaea did; even now he considered her words and thoughts carefully…but always with a view to how it served the Peoples survival.

She couldn’t allow herself to be so divided…but that meant if the time ever came…it was a painful thought to contemplate it, but it had to be faced.  When she left Galtea things were already very troubled…imbalanced.  

She sighed as the rock beneath her shifted; she bounced it back into place to avoid being hurled off into the sharp pebbles…she could only hope that things were better on Galtea now and the time she might have to—not choose for there was no choice she was People before all else—but do something against part of herself never came.

Aresaea was disappointed but not surprised when it did come.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on July 07, 2018, 10:33:22 AM
"The People cared only for each other, their planet, their animals and plants, and Goddesses"


This is the key to the Aethans.  As an American, my entire society is based on a concept: Liberty.  Personal liberty, and individual responsibility for that liberty to God first and then to my neighbors second.  Everything we have flows from this conceptualization of how a society should work. 

The Aethans are at their core a Tribal, Theistic society.  I don't understand the true nature of the goddesses, but as stated in several stories they are in fact real entities.  So the Aethans have a purely concrete rationalization for their loyalties: The People and the goddesses, and what physical possessions they have chosen to acquire.  If you help them in this, they will help you and treat you well.  If you go against them or stand in their way actively or even passively, they will destroy you.  And if you're just in the way...

Well.  You're on your own bud.  Its just your bad luck to cross a demi-god today... 

I think we need to get them addicted to Spider Man comics.  They could use a dose of "With great power comes great responsibility."   But I digress.  :-)

This is a great window into Ari's world and how much her worldview had changed since she left Galatia.  I have  a bad feeling that she isn't going to respond to Kazic's call at all the way he is hoping.

Not at all....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on July 07, 2018, 03:15:48 PM
[quote author=Karmack link=topic=38018.msg646658#msg646658 date=1530984802?.

I think we need to get them addicted to Spider Man comics.  They could use a dose of "With great power comes great responsibility."   But I digress. 
[/quote]

Lol true but I think they would come up with a different conclusion - if radioactive spider makes you so strong why won't Parker share with all his People these abilities?

Yeah I wanted to play the difference in motivation the whole Schism is based on competing ideologies  (although the more I see of Jnessaha the more it seems there is a power play as well) that to the Aethans seems absurd these are not real things! Of course Thier culture is so ingrained there is no way they can disagree on how to live day to day so they can't really appreciate diversity of view points. A curious blind spot.

Anyway thanks again Dutchman for letting me contribute and cool pic!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on July 27, 2018, 03:39:41 PM
Wow, this has been an incredible journey. I don't have anything new to add that hasn't already been said, but it has just been awesome. It is probably the fact that it is focused on a Civil War, but it really really has a very similar feel to the Melida/Daan civil war (great story with a young Obi-Wan if you don't know what it is), but so much of it, brother vs. brother, friend vs. friend, families trying to protect their loved ones failing, and in the midst of it all, people who are not entirely with Anson or Kazic, and in fact, oppose them both. Very well done, very well thought out, it has been a pleasure to read.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on August 20, 2018, 05:50:13 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/h1zNQH/Quinlan_Vos_01.jpg) (https://ibb.co/h1zNQH)
Interlude-A Day In A Life V

Alone within the confines of his Meditation Vestibule, Anson slowly breathed, inhaling deeply.  For one of the first times in recent months, he was calm, contemplative…confident.  He had not believed the good fortune he’d been handed: several hundred Jedi switching allegiance from Kazic’s camp to his own.  Moreover, Koawan Kasah Fayar had provided him with extremely valuable intel, from Kazic’s overall war strategies to mission-specific passcodes.  His closed eyelid twitched.  Poor Kasah…but her sacrifice was made to ensure the greater good. 

Anson lamented the necessity of those deaths from the past few days…but such was the outcome of war.  If only Kazic hadn’t needlessly started this conflict, hadn’t been so obstinate against securing the Vhal’Dan.  He’d seen the same holofeeds as anyone; by the Maker why was he so blind to what those…beings represented?!  Even now, he saw them within his mind, such innocuous-looking beings masquerading as humans.  They were anything but…

Instead, they were like the q’ualanemi that Master Varel’Zo had told him about, the dark chaos spirits that were “unstuck” from the Force, able to do all manner of incredible feats within the Force…both shrewd and gross.  Oh, he knew that they were mortal beings, this “Valens” and “Jarys” but they were also more, so much more than that.  …If only I’d had the chance to confront them… He thought.

He felt his pulse rising, his heart beginning to pound within his chest.  So much for his meditation.  Rising, he doffed his outer tunic, exposing his muscular arms.  He knew what to do.  Igniting his green saber, he recalled a passage that he had memorized as a child from Kage Rikard Macias: “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”  Well, Anson had learned that lesson well.

Mentally activating the practice droids, five floating orbs tried to surround him, each firing a blaster bolt; not enough to do any lasting damage but the shots would still hurt enough to remind you of the lesson: don’t get hit.  Working his lightsaber in a defense/deflect pattern, Anson was soon lost in the exercise, all worries about casualties, all concerns about wayward brothers forgotten.

…This… He thought, …this is the meditation that I’ve needed… Every cut was concise, every parry perfect, every form a synthesis of economy of movement and precision of attack.  There were only four true blademasters counted among the Vhal’Dan, and he was one of them.  Master Varel’Zo had instructed him well.  Smiling humorlessly, Anson sometimes wondered if instead of all of these open hostilities, he should invoke the age-old tradition of P’Rae’Lior

P’Rae’Lior.  Two champions.  One fight.  One death.  One decision.

Dating back to the founding of the Vhal’Dan Clans, P’Rae’Lior was the mechanism by which the seven Clans could resolve any issue that the Arbiter could not adjudicate.  Everything else was a mere detail, the two champions the only people allowed within the Pancratium, the Pancratium the only place of import.  Only a single combatant could exit, lest both lives be forfeit…which was why P’Rae’Lior was invoked under the most extreme of circumstances.  Should both participants try…they were summarily executed by all in attendance.  Anson smiled grimly.

Sometimes the Old Ways were the best.

He sensed before he heard them but Anson could feel a group of people coming towards him outside in the hallway.  Sighing to himself, the muscular human closed down his lightsaber, mentally dismissing the practice orbs.  Grabbing his outer tunic, he strode towards the door, opening it just as the group reached it.

Outside of his room were all of his Speakers.  Well, that wasn’t completely true; he didn’t see Sarith or Ryshhk.  Scrutinizing their faces, Anson soon noticed the specks of blood on some of them, their persons disheveled and, overall, looking defeated.  “What happened?”  But he thought he had an idea already.

Naturally, it was J’Nessah who answered.  “My Kage…I regret to inform you that Speaker Ryshhk K’rrmerii has…defected to our enemy.”  Anson couldn’t be sure, but he thought he saw a ghost of a smile upon the dark Speaker’s lips but if she had, it was gone as soon as he’d noticed.  Everyone else looked as though they expected to be rebuked and were attempting to steel themselves against it.

They weren’t wrong.  Anson was seething inside.  “Ryshhk?  How… He was placed in command of Logistics…”  He turned, face accusatory towards the tall Speaker.  “J’Nessah, you yourself had assured me that you had his concerns under control.  After all, it was to you that he’d voiced such first.”  Anson was not a particularly tall man but he loomed large over everyone in the hallway, the corded muscles in his arms, jowls, and neck bulging as he gritted his teeth.  His brown eyes rested upon J’Nessah, drilling holes through the back of her head.  She dipped her chin in supplication.

“Please forgive me, Kage.  I…I erred in that I assumed that I had properly cowed him; he certain—”  She fell immediately silent when Anson interrupted her.

“No, Speaker, you will not have our forgiveness.  At least not until you’ve rectified the situation that you’ve created.”  Again, he couldn’t be certain but…was J’Nessah grinning from the shadows of her hood?  And he had thought that her dark eyes had flashed as he was calling her to account… Giving himself a mental shake, Anson suddenly focused upon the other problem that he’d initially noticed, not having given voice to it.  “…Where is Sarith?”  Again, he’d seen neither hide nor hair of the Zygerrian Speaker.

…Blood… He thought.  Again, Speaker Raanh answered.

“…I am sorry my Kage.”  And for the first time since Anson had looked upon J’Nessah’s face, she looked truly…contrite.  No, that wasn’t right…ashamed?  Anson opened himself fully to the Force, enveloping everyone. 

<fear…anger…shame…Fear…loss…death…FEAR…>

“…Sarith tried to confront Ryshhk—she’d taken three Sentinels with her—and…” The dark-skinned Speaker cast her eyes downwards.  “…the Wookie killed them all.”

Furious, Anson looked at each of them in turn, his hands balling into fists.  “Seal the building.  Lock down the hyperloops.  I don’t want that Wookie getting away.  We shall make him pay…avenge Sarith’s murder.”  His voice was strong, powerful.  He would lead the Vhal’Dan.  He would… “Kill all traitors.  Those who would see the Vhal’Dan destroyed.  We shall judge those responsible and punish the guilty.  It is only by our strength that we shall prevail.  The Vhal’Dan will survive.  And I will be the one to lead you.”  As he spoke, Anson once again took in the entire room, his senses acute.  Where there had been confusion and fear there was now a sense of purpose; instead of feeling ashamed, they now felt reinvigorated.  As one, his Speakers left, their sense of purpose renewed.  As a proper Kage should do: inspire within those that which brings out greatness.

Except J’Nessah.

Focusing on her, Anson’s eyebrow arced, the question written about his face.  “You have something else to say?”  He crossed his arms.  J’Nessah’s dark eyes looked unflinchingly into his.

“Yes, my Kage.  Before he left, Ryshhk…absconded with several Force artifacts from the Vaults.  I’m not certain which he took; Messer Subiah Fuqua has yet to ascertain the particulars but assures me that he shall have a list for your perusal by the end of the day.”

If Anson felt anger before, he now felt white-hot rage.  “K’rrmerii stole our relics?”  Instead of reacting, Anson took several deep breaths.  “We shall find him, J’Nessah.  And he shall answer for his treachery…” Anson began walking towards his command center, J’Nessah falling in beside him as the Kage gave orders. 

            <<<<< >>>>>

J’Nessah nodded, the taller woman began delegating those orders, glad to see Anson once again rise to the occasion.  And if he’d have been looking up at her face, he would have seen her dark lips twist into a satisfied smile, her eyes once again alight with a certain kind of pride.

She had chosen the right man to back, regardless of her ties to Pytir.  Oh, the Mon Cal Arbiter had the desire…but not the ability.  Anson had both, thank the Maker.  This time, J’Nessah allowed herself to break out into a full grin; she need not hide this smile.

And just as she had on Ska Gora, she knew that her plans were on track.  Her smile turned wistful.  Ska Gora, the Wookie protectorate planet.  Back then, there had been talk of rebellion among the non-Wookie populace, eventually reaching a flash-point giving rise to the so-called Brock Resurgence: a collective that strove to usurp the lawful Wookie governing body.  And while they fought under a banner decrying “freedom, justice, and temperance,” the Resurgence was little more than well-armed thugs who wanted control of Arboreal Exports…and all of the wealth and power that the commercial division granted.

The Wookies had been reticent to act as the Resurgence had taken over the floating city-ship Rahrioikk and stationed it directly about the Chuvvishaaa Tree, the Wookie World Tree of Ska Gora, which for the Wookies was considered a “bad sign” and so refused to take any initiative.  The city-ship’s mayor, then Chieftain Vvuyulkvahhr, was still loyal to King Palroorhho, who was a toothless excuse of a leader, vacillating between parlaying and doing…nothing.  Vvuyulkvahhr was not so timid…but he was bound by chains of honor stronger than durasteel, and thus deferred to his King.

Thankfully, J’Nessah had no such qualms.  And as a rare non-Wookie member of the governing body, she had access to the right people and the right intel.

Working as she had learned and had always done, she operated behind the scenes and in the shadows, softly influencing Vvuyulkvahhr, whispering in his ear that he was honor-bound to not only the Wookies of Ska Gore, but also to the Trees.  It hadn’t taken much, really.

Soon, Vvuyulkvahhr was openly questioning King Palroorhho, eventually calling upon a vote of “no-confidence” in the King.  Almost unanimously, the Wookies elevated Vvuyulkvahhr to King.  But that was only part of the problem; there were still the members of the Brock Resurgence to deal with.  Once again, just the right words with the proper inflection from the lips of Representative Raanh to now-King Vvuyulkvahhr, and…well, the Wookie Offensive Force made short work of the Resurgence.  Those that did not die in the fighting were held accountable within the Wookie court, sentenced to an Indentureship lasting as long as it took to make financial remuneration to the Wookies that they’d wronged.

And now, just as then, J’Nessah had been the power behind the power.  Let her fool of a husband retain his elevated status of Arbiter while she remained Speaker.  She knew that she preferred to stay hidden whilst enjoying the fruits of her labor…without the target on her back.

“Rrrgghhrr Wffrowwoor,” the Wookies had begun to call her after King Vvuyulkvahhr appointed J’Nessah his First Advisor and Honorary Arborist.  She smiled at that, thinking again of her Kage, Anson D’Aklon.  He was Kage but by the benefit of her whim.  The Wookies were right to call her what they did.

“King-Maker."


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on August 20, 2018, 06:50:30 PM
And the force driving the conflict emerges.  "King-Maker" indeed!  Stoke the fire a little, push here, prod there...   Pretty soon you have a nice little war and you can maneuver your people into power.  Never mind what is lost - you get your power...

Wow.  Amazing reveal!  Nicely done, Dutchman!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on August 20, 2018, 08:42:36 PM
If only I’d had the chance to confront them… He thought.

Careful what you wish for Anson....
He had a good idea with the P’Rae’Lior...unfortunate he was soon diverted.

Anyway key lesson here is don't try to arrest a Vhal Dan wookie.  But J'Nessah...had behind the throne knows how to manage Anson, losing Ryshhk with who know what artifacts is big but it seems the idea of being betrayed just waylaid Anson probing further by turning him to anger.

J'Nessah may have her hand on the power, prompt gently to get her way, but with the destruction already wrought...she might not have much to rule over left, Ska-Gor went well but she had far less skin in that game.  An intriguing character nonetheless,its almost like she does it because she enjoys being the smartest person in the room rather than for any personal gain, more an ego trip - or at least that is the impression i get, as a woman that smart would know all power is fleeting, yet all that would make her all the more dangerous. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on August 31, 2018, 10:36:15 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gsrOrd/tasha_vel_before_battle_commission_by_karolding_dbntusn.jpg) (https://ibb.co/gsrOrd)
Chapter 18: Bittersweet Reunion, Part I

In the darkness of the Kage’s Atrium, Kazic and Saani stood, ready and waiting.  And, if there was one emotion that predominated the ambiance of the room as felt within the Force, it was…fearful anticipation.  Of course, none of this shown upon their faces, nor in their stances…but even Kazic’s finger twitched involuntarily towards his lightsaber, Saani’s lekku darting straight down indicative of her trepidation.  

After all the horror, the betrayal, the deaths, they said no words to one another, nevertheless commiserating on a much more intimate level via their connection to the Force…and each other.  And within the shadows of the Atrium, the reflected lights coming from the skylanes as the traffic of departing ships passed the top of the shielded two-kilometer building, they wrapped one another in each other’s arms, Saani’s lips reaching up and fiercely, almost greedily, pressing against Kazic’s.  The casualties of this war were not a mere statistic by any means, at least not to them.  But for a moment, they were able to lose themselves in the comfort of each other.

And even as they knew that their time together was ephemeral, as they parted they still held one another’s hand, knowing that the inevitable was upon them.  And they needn’t have waited long.

They seemingly materialized within the room; one minute empty but for Saani and Kazic, the next not.  And even though Kazic was the tallest person, it was the living shadows that seemed to engulf the room, an undercurrent of menace and power radiating off of both of them.  Even expected, Kazic was surprised by their appearance, already adopting a defensive posture…

And as quick as thought, one of the shadows moved, almost too fast for even Kazic to perceive.  …Almost… The Anzati Kage was able to track the movement, even at such an increased rate of speed.  And it rushed headlong at Saani.

Incredibly, Saani was able to act, rather than react, her arms coming up, the look of intensity upon her face as she focused…

Giving ‘way as she broke out into a relieved and ecstatic smile, her arms wrapping around the shadow as the two embraced.  “Saani!”  An almost girlish shout of glee erupted from the throat of the shadow, causing Kazic to smile warmly as a result.  With tears on her blue cheeks, Saani rocked in the shadow’s embrace in a slowly swaying back and forth motion.

“Oh…my Ari…my Dear One…” And Kazic could see that there were tears in Ari’s eyes as well.  After a short time, Kazic gently wrapped them both in his arms, giving all within their little circle the feeling that everything would be alright.

A pleasant fiction.

One that everyone in the room knew must give way to the harsh realities of the situation.  But, for that moment, they were a family again.  Even Valens sensed the import of such…and though his face remained stoic, inwardly his own sense of regret grew.  For Aresaea.  But he said nothing.

Instead, he looked upon the people within the room and recognized the family in front of him.

A family…for the last time.

            <<<<< >>>>>

In soft tones, they exchanged pleasantries, catching up on the interim year that they’d been apart.

“By the Maker Ari, you’ve grown!”  Saani fondly stroked the girl’s—woman’s, Kazic corrected himself—lustrous red hair, looking up into Ari’s aqua eyes.  She was right, Ari had grown; she had curves where before she’d been more muscular: a fuller chest and hips.  Her movements faster, more certain.  But that wasn’t what shocked him most.  Ari’s connection with the Force had also grown significantly.

Before she’d left, Ari had been right below Kazic in strength; now, she was noticeably stronger, closer to Anson’s level…although she still seemed small in Valens’ shadow.  It was strange comfort to know that Valens’ power was the exception rather than the rule amongst them…

“Kazic, we have much to discuss.”  Valens’ voice recalled the Anzat from his ruminations.

“Yes, you’re right.”  He held out a hand in front of him, indicating towards the Kage’s Office.  “Please Valens, if you’ll go this way.”  But as he turned to follow, he felt a vise of a grip upon his shoulder.  Looking down, he saw Ari, a perturbed look upon her face.

“Guardian, would you give Kazic and I a minute?”  This close, the Anzat could suddenly sense Ari’s consternation as she opened herself to him as she’d done years ago.  As Valens and Saani disappeared down the corridor, Kazic and Ari looked at one another, their faces equal parts fondness and worry.

“Kazic…are you sure you want to do this?”  Ari’s quiet voice was strong, steady, mature.

“What is it you think I’m going to do?”  Kazic tilted his head trying to hide the surprise he felt.  He’d yet to voice his plans to anyone except Saani.  Still, he should’ve guessed that Ari could deduce his intentions.  Looking into his eyes and as if reading his thoughts, Ari said, “I know.  Jarys knows.  Kiraea knows.  Valens knows.”

Kazic’s smile disappeared as he sighed, a reluctant look of resignation replacing it.  “Ari…I have seen war before this; I know it’s horrors.  I must do what I need…for the Vhal’Dan to survive…” He tried to convey the conviction that he felt but Ari’s face looked incredulous.

“…I…can’t stop you…”  She shook her head.  “…No, no it’s not up to me to stop you…” She suddenly smiled wistfully thinking about Jorol, Tsarvung, and their children.  “But one thing that I can do is be a voice to my People for the Vhal’Dan…”  She sobered.  “…for although they assist, they will only ever do what is best for the People.”

Thinking he understood, Kazic nodded empathically.  But even after 400 years of life, nothing could prepare him for what he was about to carry out.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic spoke through the darkness of the evening, Saani filling in many of the details as well.  How Anson had had numerical superiority from the start along with the rancor’s share of Jedi Masters, the strategy that both Kazic and Saani had successfully employed to counter those advantages, the war of attrition that they’d waged…and the betrayal that they’d confronted.

Kasah and her actions had led to the deaths of thousands; worse, many of those killed were civilians.  Kazic had not just lost a large contingent of Jedi, including the roughly 200 Gray that had abandoned Kazic’s camp, he’d lost almost all of his orbital navy and half of his ground troops.  And those that he had left were close to completely giving up hope.  Now: there was but one choice available, one that Kazic knew could turn the tide.

“Valens…I refuse to fail my people.  And as it stands I fear that Anson will win.  I must do all that I can to ensure the freedom of the Vhal’Dan.”  Kazic thought of the Vhal’Dan’s first Kage, Black Rikard Macias.  He’d refused to allow the Jedi Order to dictate terms to him or his people, despite the fact that they’d help win the War against the Brotherhood of Darkness.  So too would Kazic follow in his footsteps.  Or so he hoped.  “I need your people’s help.”

After hours of listening and saying nothing, Valens finally spoke.  “I must speak with the other Guardians.  I won’t be long but as this concerns them as well… I’m sure you understand.”  He looked from Kazic, to Saani, and finally Ari.  “We shall return.”  And with that, both of them left, gone just as swiftly and as quietly as they’d arrived.  Shaking his head, Kazic looked to his wife, still feeling her within their shared senses in the Force.

K’ompo…are we doing the right thing?”  Saani’s purple eyes were still watery but as strong as durasteel.  Kazic gently held onto her shoulders, thankful not only for her inner strength but also her concerns.

Kanp’a, our forces are vastly outnumbered.  They are apprehensive, fearful, and without hope.  I promised as Kage to protect them, to save the Vhal’Dan.  And that is precisely what I intend to do.”  Kazic went to turn but stopped short as Saani grabbed his forearm.

“No, Kazic, that’s not what I mean.  Have you forgotten the…‘gift’ that Kiraea left for us last time?  That bomb alone could have destroyed a large portion of the Underworks, to say nothing of the buildings above.”  Saani’s face turned grim.  “Untold thous—tens of thousands would have been killed, to say nothing of the fact that you would have been vaporized.”  Saani was almost 16 centimeters shorter than her husband but seemed to stare down at him now.  “Anson was right about one thing: where ever these people go, death and wholesale destruction follow.”

Trying not to let his exasperation show Kazic schooled his voice, adopting a serene tone.  And failing.  “I know, Saani… Dammit.  But we need them.  Now.  I cannot—will not—lose the Vhal’Dan to Anson’s fascism.  Not only does it run counter to everything that I stand for as a Gray but also against what our Order was founded on.”  He sighed, mentally starting over.  “Kanp’a, this war is not just a difference in ideologies; we are fighting for the very survival of the Vhal’Dan.  And if it means that I must kill the man that had been my brother, then that is the price that I will pay if it ensures our victory.”  Kazic’s red eyes held not one ounce of remorse.  “And for that, I need Ari’s People.”

Saani stood looking at Kazic, an unreadable look on her face.  Without malice, she whispered.  “After this is all said and done, I pray to the Maker that there is still a Vhal’Dan Order to save…”

            <<<<< >>>>>

As the Galtean sun appeared slowly from behind the planet, the sleek, black ship glided in an orbit just before the terminator, the aggressive arrowhead shape of the hull all but invisible to the flotilla of ships that Anson had at his disposal.  And it was that fleet that the Aethans looked upon now, the holoprojection filling the entire room.

Jarys’ dark eyes scrutinized the ships’ formation, assessing and calculating the incoming data on two levels of consciousness, mentally cross-referencing the logistical and tactical information.  And as they were among People, they spoke with their native cadence and speed, taking a fraction of the time to “discuss” what they all needed to convey, learn, and ultimately decide.

<This is the perfect opportunity to test the new equipment and tactics.  After what we’ve learned fighting the Jedi, this will be the perfect testing grounds.>  Jarys stepped forward into the projection, zooming in on one of the tactical frigates.  <Primary and secondary shields, armored hull plating.  Structural flaw in the dorsal drive section: weakness to kinetic weapons at minor axis juncture, half-meter cross-section.>  Valens switched half of the projection to show the urban sprawl of Vhal’Uhladv proper.  <Enemy contingent shows tactical experience but only to a sub-third level consciousness posture.  Over-reliant upon mere fifth-dimensional causality.  Conclusion: prosecution of war effort will yield success with consigning at minimum four sustained levels of consciousness.>  Kiraea analyzed the several fronts where fighting was the fiercest.  <Adequate use of artillery, guerilla tactics, even hand-to-hand.  Frellik-Face has done well.  For an Outsider.  However, neglecting three areas of assault requiring fourth-level cognizance.  Here, here, and here.  Enemy response: ancillary consequences…up to this point.>  She gestured to another projection, one showing the destruction of the Intrepid.  <Causative recursive successes resultant from treachery.  Bitch.>  Kiraea looked knowingly at Jarys and Valens, smirking.  And so it proceeded, the other gathered Aethans “talking” as they strategized.

Until Aresaea interrupted.  <Wait.  Please!  This affects Saani and Kazic!  Jorol and D’Arial!  Even if they are Outsiders, they…were family.  And the Vhal’Dan…most of them are good people, even ones on Anson’s side.  This…this is not like the Devastation where everyone was an enemy to be eliminated.  And Vhal’Uhladv…was my home for a time.  I…do not want to see it destroyed.  Surely there is some way that we can…limit the damage?  Only destroy that which is truly necessary?  Only the minimum to secure victory?>  Even among the Aethans, the silence was palpable.

Jarys approached her, a look of sympathy on his face.  “Ari…” he said deliberately.  “…Even in that case and given the situation, the damage will be…substantial.”

            <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on August 31, 2018, 10:41:44 AM
Chapter 18: Bittersweet Reunion, Part II

Three hours later, Valens alone stood several meters from the front of Kazic’s desk in the Kage’s Atrium.  Saani was in one of the gues—Ari’s Room—helping her settle in while also “entertaining” Kiraea.

“You are incapable of winning this war.”  His blunt pronouncement all but confirmed what Kazic had feared.  “You and your commanders have neither the strategic nor the tactical acumen to succeed with the resources you possess.”  Kazic lowered his head.  …So…this is the end…

“But I do.” Valens said with a hint of sadism that made Kazic shiver, the black-armored man closed the distance, suddenly standing on the other side of the desk having moved without a sound or ripple in the air.  “If you wish to win and desire our help, you will turn over full operational command to me.  You will act as an advisor and mouthpiece to your forces, but I will make all strategic and tactical decisions.”  Even before Valens stopped speaking, Kazic was shaking his head.

“‘Complete control?!’  That is unacceptable.”  The Anzati Kage crossed his arms.  “Valens, I have centuries of experience in war and combat.”

Valens did not so much as blink.  “And I will use such as I see fit, your experience is worthless trapped inside a mind with cognitive capacity less than a fifth of what We are capable of.  You will ensure every order I give is followed, no matter how it may appear.”  He fell silent, expressionless.  Kazic was forced to concede.

…All things for a price… Kazic thought, morose.  “And for this, what do you want…?”

Without hesitation, Valens replied.  “All of your excess kyber crystals from Lus’Phor, precious minerals I deem unnecessary for your victory, full access to your archives, technologies, vaults, museums, and galleries, and any items I regard desirable within.”  Kazic did not even bother to hide his shock.

Valens asked—demanded—carte blanche to everything that made the Vhal’Dan; their society, their collective intel, even their autonomy… He thought of what Kasah had done… If he agreed to this…would he be any different?

…But…what would such matter if the Vhal’Dan are destroyed…? Kazic mused.  …I must ensure that we survive.  And if the Vhal’Dan endure then all will not have been fought in vain…

And, as Valens had said confirming what he had already knew: there was no way to win.  Not without his help.  

“I accept.”

It was only then that Kazic felt the daen nosi, enormous tendrils that were too large to have been noticed before, finally solidify into place.  And he knew that whatever his misgivings, he was Maker-damned.

            <<<<< >>>>>

It was so good to finally see her daughter that Saani felt that she’d cried herself dry.  Clearly, Ari felt similar, her own cheeks still wet from tears.  It was almost as familiar as when they’d been a family living together.

But there was much that was changed.  While Ari had been happy to see Saani and Kazic, she was also slightly…aloof.  And not just emotionally; Ari had always had a sense of wonder when last she was in Vhal’Uhladv, especially whenever she looked out over the city from atop the building’s atriums.

Now: she barely gave it a glance.  Oh, she noticed and scrutinized her surroundings but more as a consequence of observation and planning.  No, Ari had matured and with it, having lost her sense of wonderment in the world.  Saani had to admit that she was more like…Kiraea.

…Speaking of… Saani looked from Ari towards the adjacent closet.  And as if the room was alive, rumpled shirts and dresses were spread haphazardly on the floor as if spewed out.  As Saani watched, another dress carelessly joined the pile.  “…This just won’t do…too much coverage.”  That last was said almost as an afterthought…if still said at a volume that couldn’t be mistaken for anything other than deliberate.

“Oh, I think that you should definitely keep these Ari…”  The fiery-haired woman offered as she continued to rifle through the clothes that Saani had gifted Ari in celebration of her return.  Suddenly Kiraea appeared in the doorway, a flimsy gossamer-like translucent bodysuit hanging off her shoulders in front of her.  “This!  This is what you should be wearing whenever you go into the city!”  Saani smiled sardonically, shaking her head.  She had intended that piece for Ari’s nightclothes, especially during the sweltering heat of the monsoonal nights.

“That…would make you very popular Ari, in any city in Galtea.”  Saani’s tone betrayed her humor; she was many things but not a prude, after all, she was Twi’leki.  Still…she hoped that Ari picked up on her mood.  She’d given up on trying to influence Kiraea, much less offer suggestions.  Especially if her current attire was anything to go by.  It seemed to Saani that what her leather…outfit covered only made it look that much more erotic.  …If Kiraea coughs, I doubt that those straps will be capable of holding her in…

“Saani’s right Ari.  They’ll absolutely worship you.  As it should be.”  Kiraea’s tone was completely serious as she disappeared back into the closet.  Saani sighed.  Instead, she approached Ari as she sat in a chair in front of the large mirror to the side of the bed.  Looking at her reflection, Saani picked up a brush, running it through her red hair.

It was a ritual that they’d both practiced in the years that Ari lived with them.  And looking into her daughter’s eyes, Saani saw a wistful yet fond look transform her entire face.  While Saani continued to gently brush her hair, Ari reached up with both hands to hold Saani’s other hand upon her shoulder.  Each brushstroke though Ari’s hair invoked memories, convivial, pleasant, loving.  When Ari suddenly spoke, her tone was soft and relaxed.

“Thank you, Mo—Sanni.”  Just the slightest of faltering, bittersweet in its delivery.  Both women noticed, both chose to ignore it.  Ari continued.  “…Reminds me when we’d all relax during the evenings after your calculus lessons, Saani.  When D’Arial would stay the night and you’d brush our hair.”  She smiled at the memory.  “Things were so much simpler then…”  Her face slightly scowled and she opened her eyes.  “Lessons with Jarys are nothing like that, to say nothing of Valens.  Valens…”  Ari’s entire mood suddenly changed.  “…When…when Valens heard about what Anson had tried at Jorol and Tsarvung’s home…about the arrest…he was so…angry.  Furious.  He almost—”

Kiraea was suddenly beside them as if she’d teleported, a hard look upon her face, her own hand upon Ari’s arm.  “Ari…” Her tone was cautioning but Kiraea said nothing else.  Aresaea nodded somewhat deferentially.

“Sorry.”  Ari focused on Saani, who’d resumed her brushing.  “Valens…he isn’t bad.  He was more…sad than angry with Outsiders after—”  

This time when Kiraea stopped Ari, her tone was more serious, an undercurrent of alarm that even Saani noticed.  Then, surprisingly, Kiraea spoke.  “Valens was disappointed, especially in light of the fact that Ari’s good experiences with you and Kazic were very much the exception.  You know, with Outsiders.  That’s all.”  She moved off but made it clear that the discussion was at an end.  Ari silently moved to the pond that had been seamlessly incorporated in the room, one of the reasons that Saani had given it to Ari.

After a moment, Saani joined her around the water, sitting next to her.  But when she looked over at Ari, she saw in the woman’s face the girl she recognized as her daughter.  “Saani, I’ll always love you and Kazic.  It was you two that made me realize that Outsiders weren’t all monsters, weren’t all horrible.”  She turned, moving closer to the Twi’leki Master.  “You will always be my family…and my mother.”

And as both women held each other tightly, everything else seemed to fade away.

At least for a time.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on August 31, 2018, 11:44:17 AM
Wait...  What?  Kazic just turned over command to Valens?!?

okay I didn't see that coming...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on August 31, 2018, 02:41:46 PM
This is almost the silent culmination of what has been building up for Kazic - finally taking the win at all costs route and losing sight of any warnings of what that will mean. Saani warns him, Ari warns him, he is presented with what could only be classed as extortion as an offer of 'aid' and still he goes through with it.  So deep in the game...Loved the line 'thinking he understood'  and Saani hoping there is still Vhal'dan to save...this is the universal friction of all civil wars what will be left if anything? In the end...usually what is left is so tainted by the war that brought it there it's not worth it. And the last moments of comfort between mother and daughter...will that too be tainted or lost?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on September 22, 2018, 04:07:04 PM
Yes, everything Karm and LSG said. Though I have to admit, as soon as Valens told Kazic that he would have to give him control, I knew he would. I've read to many stories where that type of decision is made. Doesn't stop me from thinking that it will end up being the wrong decision. Once again, you have flawlessly incorporated a race that shouldn't be able to exist, but somehow does. I think that is what really makes LSG's "People" stand out above all else. That story shouldn't work, shouldn't fit in with the rest of SW, but somehow he makes it. Well done TD.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 27, 2018, 03:01:15 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/jDmQSy/star_wars_old_republic_ships.jpg) (https://ibb.co/jDmQSy)
Chapter 19: Absolute War-Opening Salvos, Part I

As the impressive armored double-hull of the Gungnïr silently orbited in geosynch above Vhal’Ulhadv, the rest of Anson’s armada were arranged in three battlegroups behind the flagship.  Consisting of almost forty ships, each battlegroup consisted of a Centurion-class battlecruiser, two heavy/tactical Valor II-class attack frigates, four Gladiator-class destroyers, three Carrack-class light cruisers, and a supply ship.  Additionally, four Dreadnought-class heavy cruisers supplemented the three battlegroups as needed.  Within the Republic, the Vhal’Dan Fleet was a force to be reckoned with, and one that was more than adequately capable of defending itself against all known antagonists.

Unfortunately for them, they knew nothing of the Aethans; not their armament, not their tactics, not their names, not even of their collective existence.

That was about to change, and violently.

Standing on the bridge of the Gungnïr, Admiral Dorn Stradun, Gray Jedi Master and 7th Speaker of Anson’s Congress had awoken feeling as if his head had been stomped on by a Bantha.  He’d had to take two seda-pills first to fight the headache followed by a stim-pill to get him feeling half-way normal.  Even now, cradling a hot cup of kaf, he still felt somewhat sluggish yet tense.

Of course, given that the Civil War had been going on for the better part of a year, just about everyone on both sides were feeling the oppressiveness of battle.  Still…he felt strange.  Not quite like his Force Precognition usually came on but…almost an itch that he couldn’t quite reach.

Easing his shoulders, Dorn ran his callused hand through his closely cropped white hair.  He would head to his meditation chambers just as soon as he finished the morning’s kaf, he promised himself.  Inhaling slowly, he walked over to the large transparisteel window that serviced the bridge.

“Admiral?” Dorn turned his head, looking down to the communications yeoman.  In her hand was a datapad interface showing the ship’s vitals.  Even as he glanced at it, he noticed that there was a…flicker on the screen.

“Report.”  He gave his full attention, his headache suddenly gone.  The yeoman handed Dorn the datapad.

“Sir, we keep getting momentary sensor blips originating from z-axis coordinates , only to ghost out when we switch from passive to active.”  Her blond hair was in a tight, smart bun, her blue eyes intelligent and perceptive.  In other words: a consummate professional.  Dorn could automatically eliminate the possibility that she was suffering from battlefatigue or the like.

“Have you performed spectral scans along the dorsal azimuth?”  Always best to err on the side of caution.

“Aye, sir.  Including IR, UV, gamma, and microwave.”  For being perplexed, her demeanor was steadfast.

Usually having done that, any other commander would have dismissed such as a consequence of the potent Galtean sun.  But Dorn hadn’t gotten to his position on the wings of apathy.  “Yeoman, man the sensors.  Helm: get us within visual range of the ‘ghosts.’  I’d like to see for myself just what in the Maker-damned hell is going on.”

As the stars realigned according to Dorn’s perspective, he kept a wary gaze open for anything out of the ordinary.  Scanning the depths of space, he used both his eyes as well as the Force.

…Nothing…nothing at al—

He thought he saw something…well, nothing to be completely honest but… Yes, there it was amongst the backdrop of stars.  A…void, blacker than the surrounding space.  But every time Dorn’s eyes locked onto it, his gaze slid off.  Or was he imagining it?  Dorn squinted.  No, he must have imagined it.  Turning, he was about to address his CO when out of the corner of his eye, he saw a star wink out, reappearing a second or so later.  …What the hel—

Suddenly, the Gungnïr lurched as if it had impacted with an asteroid.  Klaxons began to blare immediately, lights dimming as action stations were sounded.  The bridge became a hive of activity, multiple voices inter- and overlapping.  Dorn was about to call for noise discipline when another collision shook the battlecruiser.  Ears attuned to the pulse of his ship, he was able to deduce that that last hit had caused a hull breach further down along the dorsal section.

“Seal of those breached decks!”  He heard himself bark, his people already acting.  …Good crew… He thought.  “Report!”  He said instead.

“Admiral, we’re venting atmosphere on Decks 23, 24, and 28.  Our main drive is offline, and we’ve lost propulsion in the dorsal section.  Turbolaser batteries 6 through 10 are—”  Another impact, this one much more violent, shook the bridge, many crew members thrown from their feet as the inertial dampers struggled to compensate.

“Where are my shields, dammit?!”  Dorn’s mind raced as he wondered just how his ship could have been attacked and incapacitated in so short of time and seemingly by no one.

“Admiral, the deflector screens are—were—functioning at full.  I…I have no idea what hit us.”  A young ensign spoke.  Suddenly, his face look bewildered, his eyes intent upon the holofeed first and then the transparisteel window he stared out of.

Following his line of sight, Dorn saw one of the Dreadnought-class heavy cruisers filling the window.  It was clear that it was burning all engines, coming directly at the Gungnïr.  Worse: it was not slowing down.

“Helm!  Hard a’starboard!”  Dorn bellowed.

“Helm is unresponsive, Admiral!” One of the pilots answered.

“By the Maker… Communications hail them now!  Tell them to use their portside maneuvering thruste—” Dorn was cut off as a black…something passed between the two ships on a direct collision course with the heavy cruiser, hitting it fore, buckling the hull plating and then exploding.  The resultant fireball and shockwave turned the ship and instead of impacting the Gungnïr full on, it hit the battlecruiser with a glancing blow that ripped off a third of the ship.

This time, everyone onboard that wasn’t strapped in was thrown across the deck.  After a moment, every object, bit of detritus, and persons began to float becoming weightless as the ship’s grav-plating failed.  Dorn used the Force to help him strap into the Captain’s Chair.

“Damage report!”  But even before anyone could answer, another impact shuddered through the ship.  A series of explosions occurred, several close.  Suddenly, an entire section of the bridge’s starboard-side bulkhead sheered off amidst piercing screams of twisting and breaking metal.  Another part of the bulkhead exploded, hitting Dorn with flaming metal, shredding his face, neck, and forehead. 

He must have lost consciousness because when he opened his one remaining eye, he saw that the bridge was completely destroyed.  The dead lay everywhere.  Body parts, metal, blood, and plating littered what remained of the bridge.  He attempted to call out but no sound came forth.  His mind was remarkably calm.  Looking around, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in one of the large dataterminals that had fallen from its place.  He was horrified by what he saw.

He was missing his right arm and shoulder as well as both of his legs.  And pinning him to his chair, a large stanchion beam had impaled him through the neck and into the floor, blood floating weightless around him in small pools. 

His eye locked onto the one remaining holofeed.  Whatever had happened to the Gungnïr was happening to the entire fleet.  Or at least enough of them that it was in complete disarray.  As Dorn scrutinized the sensor information, he still could not see what had caused such wholesale destruction without being detected.

And as he stared, Dorn saw that a small taskforce of about a dozen or so ships—heavy/tactical frigates by the look of them—had up to now entered the space unknowingly.  Gazing upon the holofeed, he saw that the small armada was utterly destroying the crippled ships.  But where had they come from?

So for all of his tactical and strategic knowledge, he still had no answers.  Not even to the simplest of questions, the most important foremost upon his mind: would he die by exsanguination or hypoxia, or perhaps suddenly in the resultant explosion when the reactor went critical, or the deadly flechettes of shrapnel?

            <<<<< >>>>>

In the end, it didn’t matter.  Thousands died that day, Anson’s navy reduced to orbital wreckage, one so numerous that Galtea soon had artificial ringlets surrounding it consisting of the remains of the flotilla ships.

And throughout the devastation was an ever-present arrowhead-shaped ship, the black hull impervious to the Galtean sensors, its surprise attack all the more deadly as the shikkar torpedoes and phrik projectiles were able to easily penetrate shields intended to defend against energy weapons and puncturing hull-plating that was no match for the virtually unknown ultradense blackstone kinetic weapons.  And once the integrity of a ship had been compromised, the small flotilla of ships would engage and finish the job.

And while some captains were able to save their ships, the rancor’s share of Anson’s navy was so much dross and refuse.  And with no navy to protect from orbital bombardment, Anson’s ground troops were about to receive the first of many surprises.  With the surprise of their preemptive strike supplemented by Kazic’s remaining navy, the Aethans were able to take full advantage of their technological superiority. 

Put simply: they won because absolutely no one knew they were under attack, nor did they have enough time to defend against such an attack.

And as casualties climbed, Kazic grimly reminded himself that this was only the beginning…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Koawan Shyon Meru was one of the Jedi guarding the powerplant station directly supplying Anson’s army.  Ever since the Kage had won a major victory over the usurper Kazic Ovarug, the collective feeling for Anson’s contingent had been general excitement bordering on euphoria: perhaps the war was about to come to an end, or so most hoped.

Still, Kazic Ovarug was not beaten yet and—if his past strategies and offensives were any indication—it would be a mistake to think that he was no longer dangerous.  …No… Shyon thought …Kazic Ovarug is like the Zharan glass-snake: you never turn your back on them; you never know when they’ll strike next…

Looking around the control room, the techs went about their normal routines while Shyon’s fellow Koawan and friend Esli Reincam diligently perused the station’s itinerary checklist on her datapad.  “Es…” He quietly called out to her as he stood side-by-side with the svelt woman.  “…What’s the latest gossip that you’ve heard?”  Shyon knew that she always seemed to be “in the know” whenever it came to rumor…

She gave her short companion a wink.  “Well…from what everyone is saying, they’re anticipating the end of this war by winter.”

Shyon gave a mock frown.  “C’mon, Es.  Everybody knows that.  I mean do you have anything juicy?”

Esli pretended to consider, crossing her arms and pursing her lips.  “…I suppose that I could tell you something that I heard—in the strictest confidence, mind you—but only if you swear to the Maker that you’ll keep it to yourself…”  She looked around, turning her head for effect before stepping up close to Shyon, whispering.  “…I heard that one of the Speakers—Master Ryshhk K’rrmerii—defected to Kazic’s camp, not only killing a dozen Sentinels but also one of the other Speakers!”

Now this was new.  “What?!  That…that can’t be!”  Shyon’s shock made Esli smile even wider.  He suddenly turned a scrutinizing eye towards her.  “Es…you’re pulling my leg.  There’s no way that a Speaker would commit treason, much less kill another one.”

Esli’s face adopted an innocent look.  “I’m just telling you what I heard, Shy.”  Suddenly, she looked conspiratorially at him.  “But that’s not all: I also heard that when Master K’rrmerii took off he stole a bunch of Force artifacts as well.

Shyon squared his shoulders, a slow smile spreading across his face.  “OK, now I know that you’re fibbing.  There’s no way that anyone could do that, short of Arbiter Danisen…or the Kage.”  He crossed his arms, adopting a defensive posture.

Esli’s face looked open and honest…but she’d been able to trick him before.  “Shy, I swear by the Maker that I’m not making th—”

Suddenly, the entire building lost power, dataterminals, air recyclers, even lights shutting down.  Everything was dead; all of the systems, the backups, everything.  Only the emergency battery-powered red lights had switched on, casting a diabolical hue across everything.  The techs started to scramble to locate and fix the problem meanwhile both Koawans opened themselves to the Force, their senses attuned to everything.

“Shy…do you feel anything?”  Esli’s face was all business now.

“…No, Es… Must have been an EMP… How long till backups are restored?”  He directed that last towards one of the technicians.

“Plant isn’t responding… Only things working are personal comms.”  She said distractedly.

In the half-light of the red emergecny lighting something flicked past his vision…

“I think we have infiltrators…”  Shyon muttered cautiously.

Esli looked at him incredulously.  “How we’re on lock down, powers only been out for less than a minute…”

His face looked worried, his eyes seemingly looking at nothing.  “I don’t know but…something…”  …there… Shylon thought.

Not that it did him any good.

            <<<<< >>>>>

<Now.> Kiraea thought to the groupmind while a split second later the power was cut, courtesy of Selaena.  Even before the red light from the emergency systems came online, Kiraea was moving.  Like a vornyx stuck in tar, everyone else in the room was sluggish in their movements.  But then she heard one of them say something that caught her attention.

“I think we have infiltrators…” The short man said.

This one was clever, observant…

She destroyed him first.

            <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 27, 2018, 03:11:06 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/ixHcoT/shae_vizla.png) (https://ibb.co/ixHcoT)
Chapter 19: Absolute War-Opening Salvos, Part II
Silver Knight Inyak Zolor had been placed in command of one of the Vhal’Dan kyber-processing plants by her master and friend, Maenowan Tenal Mendár.  Master Tenal had been called upon by the Kage himself to secure supply lines now that the false Kage had been dealt a significant blow, over 200 of his Jedi coming over to Anson D’Aklon’s side.  Even more wonderful, amongst those 200 was Koawan Jinsen Flast.  He’d been a childhood friend for years before they were separated by time and distance, only to reconnect again on Galtea years later.  It was only a few months afterwards that Inyak had laid the ceremonial wreath at Jinsen’s feet, her overture to open up discussions between their respective families for a marriage contract.  Elated, Inyak and Jinsen had watched as talks progressed well.

Then the War broke out.

Since Jinsen still lived with his parents, his first duty was to them… And because Inyak was not yet his wife, he’d had to go with them when the false Kage Kazic Ovarug had called upon their fealty.  Shackled with ties stronger than durasteel, he could no longer be with Inyak as she had remained with Kage D’Aklon, thus all talks ceased immediately.

But then, something horrible occurred: the Promenade Incident.  With tens of thousands dead—Jinsen’s parents among them—Inyak never expected anything positive to come of such a woeful calamity.  She remembered that night, rending her robes in honor of her st’apa and st’ama as was proper a st’aughter…even if she had been denied that chance… But she still did her duty as if Jinsen had finally placed the wreath upon her head and she accepted him over her threshold and finally into her family.  She even placed out the dinner settings for st’apa and st’ama, down to the foodsticks that was popular in their culture…

Which was how Jinsen found her: crying over the completed ceremony in the role of their st’aughter—daugther-in-law—while slowly eating the now-cold food.  He’d come to find her straight from the mass funeral that the false Arbiter Saani Kaval had presided over…although Inyak had to admit that Master Kaval was honorable to have done as much…

But Kage Kazic Ovarug was nowhere to be found or seen.  Jinsen’s eyes started watering; his parents had given the Anzat everything…yet he couldn’t even be bothered to make a short appearance to honor those who’d died in his service?!  Even before he’d finished telling Inyak all of this, Jinsen’s tears poured down his cheeks.  And seeing her beloved in such distress, Inyak rushed to Jinsen, enveloping him in a crushing hug all the while comforting him with her voice, her kisses…everything.

He then told her of his intentions to defect.  Indeed, there were dozens of others that felt the same way that Jinsen did.  Inyak was torn: she rejoiced that she’d be reunited with her beloved…but she was also appalled that Jinsen would betray his Oaths to his Kage and Master.

“No, Inyak…he betrayed us, ALL of us!”  He’d shouted when she confronted him.  “Don’t you see?  He did not behave as a proper Domai should!  He abandoned his subjects!”  Jinsen’s face had contorted in rage while tears of pain, sorrow, and now, hatred ran down his cheeks.  But as swiftly as his anger had come it left him, his shoulders slumping as he sobbed into Inyak’s chest.  “I…I’m sorry, beloved.  Forgive me my dishonorable words…but I cannot—will not—fight for that man…”  Slowly, he quieted as Inyak rocked him like a babe in her arms.

She understood.  Moreover, she wanted for Jinsen to be with her; it was ALL that she’d ever wanted, more than anything else.  Certainly more than this war… And, she was ashamed to admit, more than her fealty to her Kage…more than even being a member of the Vhal’Dan Order.

Shaking her head, she comforted him whilst speaking softly.  “No, beloved.  You have not dishonored yourself.  As you say, no Domai would have behaved in such a fashion.”  And as she kept speaking, new thoughts and hopes began to take form in her mind.  She would bring Jinsen over to her, marry him, and finally find a piece of Galtea where they and they alone would live out the rest of their days.  Well, as soon as the War was done; her personal honor was worth that much to Kage D’Aklon.

Her comm suddenly pinged, bringing her out of her ruminations.  Sighing, she once more reminded herself of her duty.  “Silver Knight Inyak Zolor.” She answered.

At first, only static came through but soon enough coalesced into specific sounds and finally a familiar voice.  “—…Iny…k?  C…n yo…ear…me?  Ho…opy, ov…r?”  It was Maenowan Tenal Mendár.

“Master?  Master Mendár?  TENAL?”  But it was no use; clearly she could hear him but he could not do the same for her.

“—…we…re…am…sh…d… Th…manu…act…ry w..s comp…tely…dest…yed.  No…vis…ble en…my.  I…ink…th…t…yb…r…sta…n…nex…”  A sudden and violent coughing fit overcame whatever it was that Tenal said next.  “…Iny…k…ple…s…tel…my…chil…en…I…l…v…th…—”  The abruptness with which the transmission ended left only a small pool of possibilities, none of them good by Inyak’s reckoning.

“Quan, Ian-e, Jorgøn, Mugami, have your people lock down the processing station.  I want you four on perimeter.”  She told the four Gray Knights.  Then, looking at the four Koawans in the room, she gave further orders.  “Keliaya, Sampsin, Wen, Almir, I want you with me; we’re going to protect the crystal refining equipment.”  Inyak knew that those would be amongst the High Value Targets for any saboteur.  After all, if she could deny the enemy their ability to make more lightsabers and focal-crystals for blasters, that’s what she’d do.  “Move like you have a purpose, people.”  The shrewd look in her eyes mirrored her intent.

All four Gray Knights disappeared through the opposite doorway as the four Koawans followed the Silver Knight deeper into the manufactory.  Even before they’d reached the Refining Room, the power was suddenly cut, the red emergency lights reminding Inyak of Yomi-no-Khum, the waiting room before the Lands of the Dead.  Seeing that the four Koawans were staring askance at her, she gave the hand signals for “Be careful” and “Follow Me.”  Igniting her silver blade, she extended her Force awareness outwards and ever-vigilant.

Once in the Refining Room, she slowed them down, directing everyone to stick together.  …Strength in numbers… She told herself.  She would need them.  According to the intel that Kasah Fayar had provided them, Inyak assumed that they faced a squad of Shadows.  She also knew that the false Kage’s wife, Saani Kaval, was not only one of the best Vhal’Dan Shadows but also was one of the Order’s four Blademasters.  …If it’s Saani Kaval that we face, we’re in trouble…

Inyak’s breath caught in her throat.  She’d felt…something.  The four Koawan stopped short after a moment, noticing that their leader was motionless.  …They…they can’t feel it…no, not “it”…her…  By the looks on their faces, Inyak knew that she was right.  “Almir, Keliaya, I want you both to teamup; Sampsin, Wen, same thing.”  She knew that those she named would create a potent two-person tactical unit; they were among the best she’d ever worked with.  “Do not separate, whatever the circumstances.  If we face Master Saani Kaval, we’ll need all of us.”  All four faces showed grim determination, nodding in unison.  “Follow me.”

Even with the backdrop of the droning thrumming of the refining machinery, the room itself was oddly quiet.  Inyak knew that it wouldn’t—couldn’t—last.

She was proven right, if not the way that she thought.

Inyak felt it a split second before movement caught her eye.  “Down!”  She hit the deck, ready at a moment’s notice to spring into further action.  She felt four bodies hit the floor beside her, the last one sounding…off.  Chancing a glance behind her, she saw that Almir had landed oddly in a crouch.  It took her a second to notice that she couldn’t see one of his eyes; in its place was what looked like a dagger of sharpened…volcanic glass?  She could now see the blood pooling behind him, a result of the dagger protruding out the back of his skull.  Acting almost entirely by instinct, she raised her lightsaber, feeling the pressure of…something…being deflected.  But she didn’t have time to see exactly what it was.

By the time she’d assumed a defendable position, Wen was also down, her throat ripped out by something sharp, vicious.  The two remaining Koawans maneuvered opposite Inyak, creating a defensive triangle.  “Where are they?  I don’t feel anything!”  She heard Sampsin as he struggled to keep the panic from his voice.  Keliaya was silent but Inyak could feel her, a concise bundle of resolve in the back of head.  …Good… Inyak was relying on her to help, hoping that cooler heads would prevail.

“Focus, Sam.”  Keliaya was following her own advice, patience and readiness radiating from her.  “…There.”  And she struck.

What had been nothing but air seemed to materialize in front of Keliaya as her yellow saber met a blade blacker than any Galtean night.  Finally seeing with his eyes an enemy that he could engage, Sam pivoted to supplement Keliaya’s own attacks.  And when Inyak joined the two Koawans, they were able to finally see exactly what it was that they fought.

It was a figure wearing midnight-black armor, reminiscent of techno-crystalline plating.  Inyak thought back immediately of the black, glass-like daggers that had killed Almir and Wen.  Where had this…being obtained such exotic accruements and weaponry?

Unfortunately, she had little time for contemplation.  Even against the three Vhal’Dan Jedi, the black armored being was able to put up a formidable defense.  More than, Inyak dourly admitted; the movements of the armored behemoth seemed almost prodding, as if analyzing them.  Conversely, it was all that the Koawans could do to keep up.  Each and every movement seemed to defy expectations.  Each strike was answered in riposte, every attack halted, each lightsaber blade stopped short by their armored opponent’s black swords, the blades seeming to eat the light.  

Suddenly Keliaya dropped her saber and grabbed her head, blood pouring from her nose as she broke down in convulsions.  Dedicating enough of her attention in the Force to Delve her, Inyak frowned.  …Grand mal seizure… She thought, …only worse…

Furiously, Inyak and Sampsin redoubled their assault.  That’s when Inyak felt it: a psionic attack that threatened to shred her mind into tatters.  Knowing that Sam would probably succumb to such, Inyak extended her defenses to include the Koawan.  Suddenly, the armored being locked up both of their lightsabers, scissoring a lightning kick outward, the black boot heel connecting solidly to Sam’s solar plexus.  Skidding across the floor, he came to a bone-jarring stop against one of the refinement units.  Slumping over, Sam coughed up blood as he attempted to get air into his lungs.

Inyak broke the lock, pulling her mental defenses around her in a mirrored attempt to protect herself from her opponent’s brutal offensive.  It was all Inyak could do to keep the two black blades at bay.  She knew that she’d need to do something and quickly.

She tried to recall what Maenowan Tenal had taught her.  As her silver blade met black, she focused a single mental Force spike and projected it into her opponent’s mind.  For the first time, the armored being halted, blades suddenly motionless.  Inyak quickly brought forth a powerful Force Push, propelling the armored being backwards.  Her muscles supplemented with the Force, she closed the distance in a split second, bringing her saber down in a vicious chop.  …This is for Keliaya…!

Before she knew it, Inyak was doubled over, desperately trying to draw breath.  A crushing punch from an armored gauntlet whipped her head violently to the side.  Before she could even spit out a loose tooth, she was on her back, her legs swept out from under her, causing her to swallow her tooth.  She screamed in surprise and pain as the armored being brought the other boot heel down upon her leg, shattering her femur.  Tears of pain stung her eyes, her cheek already swollen.

Standing over her, the black behemoth looked down upon Inyak.  “…do it…”  She whispered, spitting blood, eyes defiant.  The armored being raised one of its black blades.

From the corner of her eye, she sensed movement.  Unfortunately, so too did the armored giant.  Turning faster than Inyak’s eyes could register, black blades met Sam’s green saber.  But even before his lightsaber stopped, Sam brought a heavy length of rebar around in a savage swing.  The armored being didn’t even move.

The rebar bent around the black helmet, not even scratching the surface.  As Sam tried to recover, the armored being struck with one of the black blades, stabbing through Sam’s arm, severing the bicep just above the elbow join.  With speed defying description and with the same sword, Sam’s leg suddenly flew away amidst a spray of blood.  As Sam tried to fight off both the pain and resultant shock, the armored giant hefted one of the black blades, intent on finishing off the Koawan.  Sam’s pale face stared murder at the behemoth looming over him.  “…frell…you…”  By this time, Inyak had recovered enough to know that she was desperate.

As the black armored being took another step forward, Inyak drew upon every iota of the Force, wrenching the nearest refining machine from its moorings and flung it against the giant.  With a screeching cacophony on rending metal, the machinery plowed into the bulkhead dangerously close to Inyak.  Exhausted, the Silver Knight slumped over against the wall.  Exhaling, she called out to Sampsin.

“…Sam…are you…alr—urk!"

Inyak was cut off mid-word as crushing armored fingers clamped around her neck, effortlessly lifting her in the air as her feet dangled above the deck.  Grabbing at the black vambrace impotently with both hands, it was all Inyak could do to get breath.  Drawing the Silver Knight within centimeters of the armored helm, the black giant held Inyak in a durasteel grip.  Fighting pain, shock, and fear, Inyak was helpless against the mental Force intrusion that shattered the last vestiges of her defenses.  It was as if her entire life was being viewed and she had no control whatsoever.  Inyak tried to talk, to fight off the assault, to spout some defiance, to rage against the heavens.  But she did none of those things.  Instead, she felt herself quietly losing consciousness…

Sudden pain lancing up her leg from her shattered femur recalled her back to cognizance.  Blinking, she tried to make sense of her surroundings.  Looking around, she saw the wreckage of the Refining Room, the bodies of her friends prone on the ground, and finally the enormous silhouette of her armored opponent.  It had taken a knee, still looming over Inyak.  She noticed that she was seated on the floor with her back on the wall.

With deliberate slowness, the armored behemoth moved a hand to its helm, pressing some unseen button.  Immediately, the helmet disappeared, withdrawing into the back of the armored neck.  Inyak had expected that some deamon would be revealed or the ghostly visage of a kami would stare back at her.  What she saw was more astonishing.

The youthful face of a young red-haired woman looked at her with an open face.  When she spoke, her high voice only reinforced how young she looked.  “You will not die, at least not here and not now.  Listen to me, Inyak Zolor.  Go find your Jinsen Flast so that he may place the marriage wreath upon your head.  Live, live and go far from here.  The goddesses will bless you and your family.”  Standing, the red-haired woman’s helmet closed upon her head, sealing her into the techno-crystalline armor.  When next she spoke, her voice came out in an emotionless, androgynous tone.  “Leave this forsaken place, Inyak Zolor, forever.”

And with that, the armored giant turned and—after a step—vanished.

With those words burning through her mind, Inyak knew that that was precisely what she wanted to do…what she would do.  

But only after she saw to Sam and herself.  But even as she helped tend to their wounds, Inyak’s thoughts kept straying to what she’d said first to Jinsen and later what the armored woman had told her.  

            <<<<< >>>>>

As the first salvos against Anson’s army had struck, Kazic knew that this was only the beginning.  And even as he lamented the violence and deaths resulting from the Aethans, Kazic was resolute in his decisions.  He was determined to save the Vhal’Dan.

Only Saani’s words sliced like a lightsaber from the depths of his mind: “After this is all said and done, I pray to the Maker that there is still a Vhal’Dan Order to save…”  And even as he mercilessly crushed it, Kazic couldn’t fully discount the possibility that he was anything but the savior of Vhal’Dan.

He felt Saani’s gentle hand upon his shoulder.  “K’ompo?  Are you alright?”

Mentally squaring his shoulders, Kazic shook his head.  “No, Kanp’a.  But not here and not now.”  He schooled his face to impassivity.  “I have a war to win.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on September 27, 2018, 05:02:39 PM
Strategically speaking Kazic has made a very good choice handing over control…Ansons entire strategy is after all predicated on Kazic being the enemy general with relatively similar armaments and the same resource requirements, and both thinking in the same board terms of what a battle involves. 

All that planning is now utterly useless – Kazic’s thrown in a completely random element for his enemy and himself…Saanis words very rightly haunt him.

The first scene reminded me a lot of colonial wars – tribes or empires of spear wielding warriors getting hammered by far smaller forces of rifle and steel wielding conquistadors – face to face with technology and tactics they can’t comprehend they utterly fall apart.

And once more like Day in the Life sub set we see the little stories behind the bigger ones, Jinsen and Inyat thrust on opposite sides (an interesting view into their various customs BTW), Esli who is always in the know, Dorn weary of the battle….adds a layer on top of the devastation, the human face as it were on both sides as Inyat is spared and will no doubt encourage everyone else she see’s to ‘leave this forsaken place forever’.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on September 28, 2018, 06:08:33 AM
Agreed, LSG.   The human touches make the story compelling.  Without them this is just another action flick.  :-)

The Aethan counterattack is and will be devestating.  What Kazic may not yet appreciate is that the Aethans are VERY single-minded and literal.  They will destroy their enemies, and their support structures, mercilessly.  I can easily see that destroying not just the people but the very planet they inhabit.  From later stories we see the Vhal'Dan on a very different home planet.  I think that, in the end, their home here will not be recoverable.

We know the Vhal'Dan survive ... but at what cost?  And is it, in the end, because of Kazic, or in spite of him?

I can't wait to see how this ends.  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on September 28, 2018, 06:12:27 AM
And is it, in the end, because of Kazic, or in spite of him?

Or worse - BOTH!!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on September 29, 2018, 10:58:09 PM
Yeah, nothing more to add than what LSG and Karm already said, but I definitely agree with them. Without the humanity of the characters, the story wouldn't be much of a story. Well done.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on October 04, 2018, 10:39:23 AM
Special thanks to LSG; he should be given co-writing credit with these past two chapters  :)
*************************************************************************
(https://thumb.ibb.co/frDL4K/planetary_bombardment_2_by_jimhatama_d8616qo.jpg) (https://ibb.co/frDL4K)
Chapter 20: Absolute War-Rising Casualties, Part I

“First contact will occur precisely two minutes proceeding the opening salvos of our ship.  Your fleet will supplement it, mopping up those that have been disabled.  Simultaneously, Kiraea, Selaena, and Aresaea will penetrate Anson’s primary powerstation controlling the planetary shield and Kyber manufactory, respectfully.”

Kazic nodded, seeing the ghost of Valens’ overall strategy.  “Yes, I see.”  As he stared at Valens’ holoprojection, the Anzat’s eyes drank in all of the information.  Or rather, he tried.  “Wait, Valens, why are you pushing Anson’s forces t—”

“I’m sure that you will see once the next phase has commenced.”  Valens looked sharply at the Anzat.  “Think, Kazic.  What it is we require and how we intend to collect—”  He was suddenly cut off as Kazic finally understood.

“Of course.  ‘Economy of effort versus necessary facilitation of primary, secondary, and tertiary objectives.’  I see it now.”  Kazic smiled wryly as Valens gave a small nod.

“Not bad.  But for now, we need to focus upon…”  He continued to give instructions in the same half-distracted monotone.  Something about the conversation with Valens was off, as though he was talking to multiple people at once as well...Kazic knew this was within his power...but this seemed different as though he were answering to...Maker help them all...something even HE was subservient to.  Pushing down his discomfort, Kazic focused again to the problems at hand.

He tried not to think about the Promenade Incident, but invariably his mind strayed towards comparisons that he kept making concerning what he knew awaited him in the destruction of the city and the countless deaths that would result…and would categorically be blamed on him.  Even as the flared nostrils of his nose twitched in discontent, Kazic knew that he would assume the responsibility of such.

Lest he ever forget…


            <<<<< >>>>>

Vhal’Ulhadv was a city split between the two, opposing forces occupying it.  Anson absolutely controlled 2/3rds of it but really had occupational jurisdiction of more than 3/4ths of the city.  And prior to this newest offensive, Kazic had done everything possible short of giving away his—Valens’—overall strategy to ensure that as many civilians were no longer in Vhal’Ulhadv proper.

Of course, there were always stragglers, the obstinate, and those that just refused to leave.

Kazic bowed his head, saying a prayer to a Maker he no longer was certain would listen to him… Not that Kazic thought He should; the Anzat Kage certainly held no illusions of what destiny awaited him.  His only hope was that after all was said and done, the Vhal’Dan were stronger for it….

Saani stood opposite her husband, almost all sets of eyes staring at the holofeed projection filling the room.  And as digital information was conveyed in real-time, not one gaze wavered from the display, even as they watched in both hope and horror as the next phase was initiated…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Master Stori Eval Prine kept a level head as he ordered his contingent of Gray Knights, Koawans, and the occasional Silver Knight to necessary objectives.  Despite what many were already saying, this war was not over.  He’d seen how determined Kazic Ovarug could be during the Uprising of Pembric II.  In those years, Kazic hadn’t even been a Speaker but Stori knew him to be a competent—even sometimes brutal—general.  Of course, they’d fought on the same side during those hostilities…

Grimly frowning, Stori thought how Kazic had been the one to “pacifiy” the populace… And when then-Arbiter Anson D’Aklon had proposed the militarization of the Order, Kazic had had the gall to balk at the loss of some minor freedoms?  Where was the stern warrior of yesteryear who had known what to do without vacillating like…like a politician?!  No, Stori thought, he could not follow such a man as spineless as he’d seen with Kazic Ovarug.  He’d been amongst the first to join Anson’s faction.  This newest intel that over 200 of the false Kage’s Gray Jedi had defected to Anson was further proof—not that Stori needed anymore convincing—that he’d backed the right fathiar…

Suddenly, the power went out, plunging the entire building in darkness.  Stori had fought in too many battles in too many wars over his almost 300 years to assume that such a loss of power was anything other than an overture to an attack.  “Action stations!  Get the Kage or the Arbiter on the comms immediately!”  The venerable Sephi instructed.  As his people moved about, they took their direction from the Gray Master, encouraged by his distinct lack of panic.

As he waited, Stori projected outward with the Force, trying to feel anything out of the ordinary.  Unfortunately, he was soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of sentients within the area, making it difficult for him to discern much of anything.

He scowled.  Stori remembered a time when he could have stood in a Coruscant high-rise and be able to find a specific human amongst the populace.  Now, well into his twilight years, he knew that his diminished faculties were one of the reasons that he wasn’t a Speaker of renown.

…Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that you hate Kazic Ovarug so much; he’s over 100 years older and in the prime of his life…and will do things with the Force that you could only dream about… The small voice within his head nagged at him, and not for the first time.  Stori wished that he’d never started hearing that voice…

…And it was with his senses extended that he felt…it.  Something was wrong, very wrong.  He looked at the dataterminals within the room.  One and all, they were empty, showing nothing whatsoever…well, beyond what he already knew and suspected.  Still: that feeling would not go away.  

Instead of wasting time talking to one of the foolish younglings, Stori drew deep upon the Force, searching for answers himself.  All around, his senses became preternaturally acute, his awareness as keen as ever.  He even could sense the insects in the air around the building!

But there was nothing around him, nothing on any side.  Stori involuntarily scratched his head.  He knew that he should feel something by now.  By the Maker, he could make out the different species of birds that had chosen to nest around the balconies!  He could only guess at how many were on the roo—

With sudden clarity, Stori’s breath caught in his throat.  …Above…!  Running to one of the lifts, he slapped at the “call button” and entered the transparisteel tube.  Within seconds, he was bounced up to the very top.  

Not even waiting for the tube’s doors to finish opening, he rushed out onto the roof, dodging between solar-collecting capacitors and hydro-recycling machinery.  Even in the dead of night, Vhal’Ulhadv’s cityscape was lit up almost as bright as the day.  Not that he’d held any illusions considering his eyesight; he’d already had the originals replaced twice—congenital defect he’d been told.  …I’ll bet that Anzati bastard’s deamon-red eyes are still as sharp as ever…  This time, Stori didn’t even bother with trying to ignore the voice in his head, instead nodding morosely.

What he did instead was project his senses upwards.  First, all he felt were the various nocturnal avian life that claimed Galtea’s sky as their own.  But as the seconds passed, just on his periphery, he felt…nothing.

Stori opened his eyes.  That wasn’t right; he felt nothingness.  A…void that seemed to slide from his perception.  Once again he concentrated.  Now that he knew what to look for, he was able to find the…discrepancy within a few seconds.  …What the Maker-damned hell is that…? Whatever it was, it was beyond anything he’d ever experienced before.

That, and it was falling, fast.  Even in the minute that he’d sensed…it, he could tell that…whatever it was, it had fallen several thousand meters planetward.  …What the kriffing frell is going on…and why aren’t the sensor nets registering incoming…?  Stori stood there, dumbfounded until his primal fight-or-flight instinct kicked in.

Running towards the bounce-tube, he took it back down to the tower’s central command.  What he saw made him question his own sanity.  Everyone within the room was going on as if nothing had happened.  …Nothing has, you old fool… A small voice reminded him.  But Stori knew better.

“We need to evacuate the building, now!”  He blurted out.  One and all, everyone within the room stared askance at him.  And no wonder, he found himself conceding.  He could only imagine what he looked like: wind-blown, ruffled robes, a red face beneath seemingly unkempt hair in various states of disarray, eyes wide with shock.  He thought quickly.  “…there’s been reports of a thermal detonator within the building!  MOVE!”  That did the trick.

As several people crowded into the bounce-tubes, many more took the stairs, while others still left to take their chances on the mid-level parking platforms in order to take their private speeders.  Stori himself had decided to take the central industrial lift; only a few others had done so as well.  Looking around at their panic-filled faces, they were all fidgeting, soft voices echoing their own questions.

“It’s OK.”  He said reassuringly.  “You’ll be alright.”  He smiled warmly.

But he knew it to be a lie.  He’d kept his senses keyed onto the…void.  Voids, now.  And while his vector dynamics and trigonometry was rusty, he knew that there wasn’t enough time to exit the building.  He hoped that he was just suffering from the onset of a Sephi neural-dementia.

But he knew that he wasn’t.

Then, as his eyes slowly looked around the lift, he saw one of the young teidowans, looking upwards.  He must have felt them too, Stori thought.  And when the teidowan looked from the ceiling of the lift and into Stori’s eyes, they both knew that their lives were measured not in minutes, but rather in seconds…

            <<<<< >>>>>



Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on October 04, 2018, 10:42:47 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/hNbUye/e7aa1799920768aa2afe45e1448983fc.jpg) (https://ibb.co/hNbUye)
Chapter 20: Absolute War-Rising Casualties, Part II
“With the destruction of enemy forward emplacements, my ‘tank’ team will eliminate defensive positions and bunkers.”  Valens’ quiet voice intoned.  “They should be the next objective with Anson’s towers gone.”

Over a dozen towers would be completely demolished by the ultradense Oblivion rods.  There was no need for any explosives; the kinetic energy released upon impact would be more than adequate to destroy the targets.  The towers in question were among Anson’s Forward Operating Bases, along with housing many of his tactical land vehicles, tanks, and artillery.  With the loss of much of his armor and cannon, Anson’s offensive would be effectively stalled.

“How long after initial contact?  Thirty minutes?”  Kazic asked, considering the timing to be somewhat rapid.  Conventional military wisdom would even dictate it as “rushed.”

“Six minutes.”  Valens face remained impassive, even as Kazic stared at him incredulous.

“That’s impossible.  Even if there was a way to coordinate forces along multiple fronts, how would you deal with the air; that much airborne ferrocrete, detritus, and dirt will blind whatever it doesn’t choke despite oxygen scrubbers.  There’s too many particulates in the air to properly filtrate.”  Had the air not been an issue, Kazic had considered synchronizing his attack groups via the Force but disregarded such as he knew that Anson could intercept it as well, his powerful mental abilities rivaling Kazic’s own.  Furthermore, Valens had told Kazic that the team would consist of just a single battalion of Kazic’s tanks…and three of Valens’ people.

“Our armor can handle those particulars, in addition to your other concerns.”


            <<<<< >>>>>

Even as chaos and death reigned over the events, some of Anson’s forces had been quick to respond, many of the Jedi hoping to eliminate what they knew to be an incoming threat.

As Kazic gazed upon the holofeed, he was able to discern that Anson’s Jedi were already attempting to repel invaders.  He had an odd feeling of pride juxtaposed with anxiety and further mixed with sadness.  The Vhal’Dan Jedi were extremely well-trained, further galvanized by Anson’s militarization and the Civil War itself.  Against most adversaries, Kazic would’ve bet upon them.  But as he looked from the holofeed and into his wife’s purple eyes, he saw reflected in them what he already knew, hoped, and yet feared.

What the Vhal’Dan could not have guessed was how deadly this threat could be...

            <<<<< >>>>>

Already retreating forces were being hammered by Jarys, Maeson, and one other whose name Kazic hadn’t caught.  All three wore their hulking techno-crystalline black armor.  Kazic’s adjutant-in-charge, Maenowan Zhymmia Vel’Aath, gulped before approaching the largest of the three…she assumed that this was the leader in the absence of any insignia.  Even standing her full height, she must have been almost a meter shorter, and she was a tall woman.

“The facility is just over the next block, Number 23 along the street.  It is heavily fortified; scouts report five main hard points on the front entrance…sniper cover in the building opposite, they rotate in and out.  There is a bunker position built out of an underground access port on the street in front.  We have—”

“Enough.”  It boomed.  “Follow in three minutes, there will be no resistance.”  

Beside him, Zhymmia’s dark face twisted in disbelief at the thought they could do in three minutes what her forces had failed to in a week as the group strode past before breaking off.  The biggest one simply walked straight toward it as the enemy began getting lines of site on him. Unsure if it was friend or foe, she watched as they called out for him to identify himself.  

Standing indifferently, the armored giant didn’t move.  Suddenly, Zhymmia saw the entire front of the building was ripped from its supports, screeching metal rending in a violent display of power as the façade crashed down upon Anson’s lines.  From three sides they attacked, swords in one hand, rifles in the other, blue bursts of energy were exceeded only by red rivers of blood as they obliterated everyone not killed in the collapse.  The fire that was sent in resistance bounced off invisible shields or worse dissipated into their armor then came back as a flood of lighting that melted skin and combusted cloth.  

Zhymmia thought that one of those…things would’ve been enough; three against the force of eighteen knights was laughable overkill.  At 2 minutes 45 seconds there was one Master left, absent a hand and eye.  The largest one lifted him like a doll by the neck.  “Tell Your Masters: We come.”  He didn’t drop him; Zhymmia saw that the armored hulk dragged him out and threw him—threw him!—over the building toward Anson’s main lines.

Anson’s forward contingent broke in a complete rout.

            <<<<< >>>>>

“…and with the collapse of Anson’s offensive, I take it that we’ll maneuver our armor in position, spearheaded by your tank tea…”  Kazic’s voice drifted off, seeing Valens slowly shaking his head.

“No, Kazic.  Your tactics are valid up to and including three levels of consciousness.  However, as soon as you asked for our help, such a strategy is no longer sound.”  The shorter man’s face hadn’t changed but Kazic could swear that he was…communicating with his People, the Anzat Kage the subject.  When he didn’t say anything, Kazic spoke.

“What is our next move?”  He folded his arms, once again scrutinizing the holofeed.

This time Valens did smile.  “We utterly destroy them.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on October 04, 2018, 05:38:13 PM
Just got this visual of Bane in the Dark Knight Rises - 'Do You feel in charge, Kazic?'.  He's let Cerberus off the leash and Hades – or rather Dread Persephone - isn't far behind.

Eval Pine was interesting - there was more than a little personal pique in his choice of side it seems – again the personalization of what started as a conceptual war about liberty and the limits thereof – those issues are almost forgotten in some ways.

I wonder how Anson will react to all this, he’s no fool and knowledgeable enough to make a decent response given enough time…the issue will be can he and his generals adapt quickly enough…

Then there is Ryshhk who left Anson for his dishonorable conduct…and J'Nessah as well, she’s been playing king-maker and now…all the crowns are poisoned.   I wonder if she’s ambitious and opportunistic enough to try and align with Kazic – sort of like the Earl of Warwick – or perhaps even go over Kazics head to try and play her game of thrones with the new king makers...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on October 05, 2018, 08:58:05 AM
Just got this visual of Bane in the Dark Knight Rises - 'Do You feel in charge, Kazic?'.  He's let Cerberus off the leash and Hades – or rather Dread Persephone - isn't far behind.

Eval Pine was interesting - there was more than a little personal pique in his choice of side it seems – again the personalization of what started as a conceptual war about liberty and the limits thereof – those issues are almost forgotten in some ways.

I wonder how Anson will react to all this, he’s no fool and knowledgeable enough to make a decent response given enough time…the issue will be can he and his generals adapt quickly enough…

Then there is Ryshhk who left Anson for his dishonorable conduct…and J'Nessah as well, she’s been playing king-maker and now…all the crowns are poisoned.   I wonder if she’s ambitious and opportunistic enough to try and align with Kazic – sort of like the Earl of Warwick – or perhaps even go over Kazics head to try and play her game of thrones with the new king makers...


If she finds out about Valens, she'll try to seduce him and become the power behind that throne.  That Valens wouldn't want to be the new man-in-charge, or that he's genetically bonded to his mate and virtually immune to her whiles probably won't occur to her until its far to late....

Hammering towers flat with Oblivion rods...  That was a great tactical detail.  What their Armor would look like ... stuff of nightmares, no doubt.  Not that you'd ever actually see it coming...

As for what Anson thinks ... I don't think that's going to be relevant much longer... 

This time Valens did smile.  “We utterly destroy them.”


boom    dead   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on October 06, 2018, 04:17:41 AM
If she finds out about Valens, she'll try to seduce him and become the power behind that throne.  That Valens wouldn't want to be the new man-in-charge, or that he's genetically bonded to his mate and virtually immune to her whiles probably won't occur to her until its far to late....

Well on the issue of continuity Schisms events occur a few years after FotA and in Schisms there are some names conspicuous by their absence among Kazics new 'allies'....But yeah they strike fast, strike hard and try to ensure no one has time to learn their tricks, their advantages are great but their novelty doesn't last forever....unless they want to see how an experienced warrior like Anson responds to their tactics....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on October 08, 2018, 07:38:45 AM
Well on the issue of continuity Schisms events occur a few years after FotA and in Schisms there are some names conspicuous by their absence among Kazics new 'allies'....But yeah they strike fast, strike hard and try to ensure no one has time to learn their tricks, their advantages are great but their novelty doesn't last forever....unless they want to see how an experienced warrior like Anson responds to their tactics....

No, Valens is to smart for that.  He knows he's badly outnumbered and even with his superior weapons and armor they would be overwhelmed eventually - if they let Anson get back on-balance.

Seems to me the best course would be to use the surprise hammer-blows to reduce Anson's forces as quickly and violently as possible, break their will, then let Kazic deliver the coup-de-grace and finish the war....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on October 14, 2018, 07:33:05 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/guTyvf/sci-fi-tank-by-sergey1987-d6yhn4b.jpg) (https://ibb.co/guTyvf)
Chapter 21: Absolute War-Feints, Misdirections, & Traps, Part I

“Kage, there are three more reports concerning our navy.  Captains Tin’dell, Margoå, Tallav, and Deépak were able to escape as well as First Officers Bardak and Nyine.  There was a reported cruiser that did a blind jump but damaged their main hyperdrive in doing so.  Also, one of the crew chiefs…Chief Ral Fenn…were able to limp their frigate away from the fighting.  Unfortunately, not one of them got away unscathed.”

Anson did not show his agitation.  Slowly inhaling, he looked at J’Nessah, his brown eyes drilling into—and through—the Speaker’s head.  “Master Raanh…you’re telling me that out of a fleet of 72 ships only eight weren’t destroyed?”  Those ships constituted the six battle groups that gave Anson control over Galtean space; he knew that he could do nothing about the more than a dozen Golan-II defense platforms policing the hyperspace routes coming to-and-from the system but his navy had all but ensured Anson’s superiority of planetary control.

That was no longer the case.

“Yes, Kage.  Furthermore, Kazic’s offensive has either destroyed, eliminated, or compromised our forward operating bases as well as the majority of our armor and canon.  His planetary bombardment has annihilated our power- and intelligence-infrastructures and our own offensive is in complete disarray.”  J’Nessah’s normally calm voice was strained as she related the day’s losses.  Anson’s face seemed carved from durasteel for all of the emotion that it showed.

“Casualties?”  Anson’s quiet inquiry made J’Nessah lower her head.  Behind her, Arbiter Pyter Danisen put his face in his webbed hands as if to ward off bad luck.  Clearly, it didn’t work.

“Best estimates: between 43-44 thousand military personal, 6,000 support staff, 1-2 thousand civilian, and…” J’Nessah’s voice did break with the last estimate.  “…and almost 2,000 Vhal’Dan Jedi.”  Anson’s eyes strained at the figures.  Hurriedly, J’Nessah continued.  “My Kage, the Collegium of Maenowans was blessedly spared the same wholesale destruction.  And as luck would have it, a majority of the regimental colonels were attending.  They’ve asked to spearhead the counterattack.”  Such news amidst an avalanche of bad was relief to Anson.

“Yes.  In fact, we shall devise a five-pronged attack, all coordinated to converge upon Kazic’s new…infantry.”  He’d already heard…well, rumors…of shadow-beings, seemingly impervious to various attacks, including the Force.  Had Kazic perfected the null-field devices that the Vhal’Dan had employed in the prisons and somehow…miniaturized them, made them portable?  Maker knew that his own people had been unsuccessful with such…

J’Nessah was slowly nodding her head.  “Yes, I can see where we’d need to…”  Both she and Anson kept strategizing, adding details now and again until they felt that their counterattack would finally overwhelm Kazic’s newest offensive.  Even with their losses, Anson’s forces still outnumbered Kazic’s.  And Anson’s generals and colonels were experts at urban warfare.  

“This ends now, J’Nessah.  We’ll use the city to our advantage and crush them.”  Anson felt renewed, although the pain of loss still weighed heavily upon him.  Sometime—and soon—he would have to relay his condolences to those families.  And he’d promised himself that he would force himself to feel each loss personally.  …Later… For now, he had responsibilities that took priority.  “Have you found the traitor, Ryshhk K’rrmerii?”  His voice was dangerous, the rage in his eyes belying the impassivity of his face.

J’Nessah lowered her head.  “No, Kage.  Wherever the Wookie is, he’s kept a very low profile…although there were some whisperings that he’d been spotted in the Food Processing District.  I’ve dispatched a dozen Sentinels to investigate.”  J’Nessah’s dark eyes suddenly shone with violent intent.  “I’ve also ordered a handful of our Shadows to sanction Ryshhk given the chance.”

Anson nodded, a look of grim satisfaction on his otherwise stoic face.  “Very well.  I want for you to present my orders to the generals and colonels.  Let’s take the fight back to Kazic.”  He knew that he could no longer entertain the possibility of the Anzat’s surrender.  And with that in mind, he’d already put plans in motion that Anson hoped would help to end the war…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Maenowan Niyo Saedrin, colonel and Officer-in-Charge of Anson’s 2nd Armor Brigade was joined by her adjutant and friend, Major Koawan Kiobito Urope as their forces coordinated with 1st and 4th Armor as well as the 106th and 107th Air Cavalry Units.  Their orders were clear: institute ground superiority and take the fight back to Kazic Ovarug while also establishing new forward operating bases along new lines.  To that end, the five columns of Anson’s army were mobilizing for their counteroffensive, reconnaissance units swarming all over Vhal’Ulhadv searching for Kazic’s forces.

“Kio, I want all recon teams on their toes; I can feel that Anzati bastard’s troops out there…” Colonel Saedrin wasn’t young nor given to youthful impulses but she was determined to get some payback for the sneak attack that had decimated Anson’s forces.  She tempered her anger; now was not the proper time to unleash it.  But she could let a little off of the leash as it were, not that Major Urope would bluster at such.  After all, they’d been raised in the same commune, if not by the same poly-group.  Moreover, Kio was a close friend and had spoken about being Combined with Niyo to form their own poly-group.  Yes…a flare of anger to help get the blood flowing…

“Yes ma’am.”  The smaller woman said, saluting crisply.  Kiobito wasn’t just a member of the Vhal’Dan Jedi but was also a capable officer, if somewhat linear in her thinking.  Nevertheless, she smartly went about her duties, relaying Niyo’s commands to all scouts.

Surprisingly, it didn’t take anywhere near as long as they thought.

“Contact, colonel!  Five clicks South-by-Southwest.”  One of the communications techs informed.  “Recon reports understrength battalion of armor/infantry mix.”

…Excellent… Niyo thought.  “Order the column to intercept and engage, keep the 107th in reserve until needed.”  Most of Anson’s artillery had been lost in the sneak attack but Niyo wouldn’t have used it within the city proper anyhow; too much collateral damage…

And as the joint convoy of armor and cavalry under Colonel Saedrin’s command confronted one of Kazic’s understrength batallions, the avenues of Vhal’Ulhadv shook and echoed with the furiousness of violent fighting…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic stared at the holofeed.  …Dammit… He thought morosely.  This was the fifth ambush that his forces had tripped.  Even as the holofeed struggled to keep a clear picture, the Anzat Kage could tell that his people were taking a pounding.  As another of his hovertanks exploded, Kazic could see that his infantry would be even more sorely pressed without armor supporting them.

“Order the retreat, West-by-Southwest, relative.  Rallying point: map grid ‘31-dorn, 58-grok.’”  Valens’ voice was quiet, almost distracted.  “Leave 2% of Forn Batallion to ensure rearguard action.  Command Besh and Jenth Batallions westward.  Post 3% to draw attention: include Guardians, Sentinels, and a small contingent of Shadows.  They will withdraw in 23 minutes following the Aventine perimeter southwest.  Split Hesh into three companies, all withdrawing south.  1% to remain in position while covering Hesh and Krill retreat.”  When he stopped speaking, Valens eyes consumed the holofeed.  Whatever he saw, he had the ghost of a smile upon his lips.

Kazic repeated the orders then gave himself over entirely to scrutinizing troop movements.  …What the kriffing hell…?  He knew that his overall strategy had been successful—well, up until Kasah and the others had betrayed him, betrayed the Vhal’Dan Order—but this… Kazic squinted as his forces were now in various stages of retreat, some in what looked like a complete rout.  Disbelief and anger begin to cloud his vision.  His already flared nostrils quivered as Kazic went to turn and rebuke Valens.

And only part of the Anzat Kage’s mind was aware that he held his lightsaber, with his thumb ready to activate the blade…

            <<<<< >>>>>

Colonel Niyo Saedrin was smiling grimly.  Her column had caught the false Kage’s batallion completely unawares, moreover reports were coming in from the other 12 colonels that they had Kazic Ovarug’s army on the run.  But at what cost… Niyo absently brushed a strand of red hair from her face oblivious to the dirt that she’d smudged as a result, her armor even more filthy.  Say what you would about the false Kage, but he and his followers knew how to fight, and hard.

But what mattered is that they were in retreat.

“Kio.  Kio!  Major Urope!”  She finally got her adjutant’s attention, the shorter woman’s face a mask of determination with a hint of incredulity.  “What is it, Kio?”

Kio approached, her arm dropping from holding up her portable holoprojector.  “Yes, ma’am?”  Niyo saw that she had some carbon scoring across her armored shoulder, in indirect hit.  …A few centimeters to the left and I’d be writing another “letter of condolence”… The taller woman thought.  She suppressed a smile, very glad that Kio was uninjured.

“Major, report.”  Niyo’s brown eyes surveyed the battle raging in the street before her.  Something about—

“Colonel, all columns report enemy withdrawal across the city.  However, the general consensus is that Kazic Ovarug’s forces are engaged in a determined rearguard defensive.”  Kio’s clear blue eyes—so much like frozen ice—looked beyond, grudging respect evident in her gaze.  “Niyo…they just don’t want to give up those positions.”

Niyo slowly nodded, her eyes intent upon the major’s.  “Assessment?”  Kio grinned.

“They’re going to pull back entirely, perhaps off-planet.  Most likely to Lus’phor.”  The smaller woman fell silent.

Niyo allowed herself to smile broadly.  “Very good.  That’s exactly the conclusion that the other colonels told the generals and Speakers.  We’ll link up with the other columns and destroy what remains of the false Kage’s army.  But first, we’re to eliminate the nearest enemy contingent that’s been harassing Colonel de Ravin’s convoy.”  She began to issue orders to pull out, leaving a token force to occupy Ovarug’s rearguard as the rest of the column circumvented them.

Kio took one more look at the scene before her: devastated buildings, smoking tank remains, the sickly-sweet smell of burnt flesh, bodies strewn throughout the urban sprawl.  The sooner the end, the better…

Colonel Saedrin clapped Kio on her pauldron.  “Major, let’s move out.”

            <<<<< >>>>>

Just as Kazic was about to call Valens to account, his eyes lingered upon the holofeeds.  And he stared.  Again, he found himself amazed.  How had he not seen it before?

“Valens…they’re…”  Kazic crossed his arms, stroking his black hair.  For his part, Valens gave a small, perfunctory smile.

“Yes.”  Was all he said.  He then hefted his enormous black sword, his helmet’s visor polarizing.  Kazic could no longer see the man’s face, not even with his infravision.  …Interesting armor… He thought.  A sudden idea struck him.

“Valens.”  The armored head turned.  “Can you not give my people some of your armaments?  Weapons?  Or even your armor?”

Instead of answering, Valens unclasped his helmet for the first time and offered it to Kazic.  As an Anzat, Kazic was markedly stronger than most humans.  He nearly fell over from the shock of the weight.  Straddling the helmet in both of his cupped hands, he shoved it back to Valens, amazement on his face.

“Your bodies are too frail to cope with our weapons and armor.”  He quickly resealed the helmet as though to breathe the same air were an affront.  “Now, I must do my part.  I shall continue to give instruction…”  He hefted a small, round orb, the twin of the one that hung around Kazic’s neck, Ari’s gift to him and Saani.  “…but events in motion should follow the inertia of…our plans.”  The pause was miniscule but Kazic’s keen hearing caught it.  He could have sworn that Valens had started to say “my plans.”  Instead, the Anzat said nothing, watching silently as the hulking armored form of Valens appeared to vanish into the shadows…

            <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on October 14, 2018, 07:37:48 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/kxWJvf/Mygeeto-bridge-battle.png) (https://ibb.co/kxWJvf)
Chapter 21: Absolute War-Feints, Misdirections, & Traps, Part II

Niyo was certain that enemy forces were around the corner in the plaza beyond.  She’d still insisted on having her reserves protecting her flanks despite what her scouts had reported.  A good commander never relied upon a single source of information.  But when she saw Kio approaching, a frown upon her face, Niyo’s mind started working overtime.

“Colonel, there are no enemy combatants in the buildings.  In fact, beyond a few abandoned emplacements, there is no evidence that Kazic’s infantry was ever here in force.”  The major’s ice-blue eyes mirrored the confusion that Niyo herself felt.  “I contacted the scout that made the original report but there was only static.”

Niyo exhaled slowly.  …What Bogan-cursed shavit is this…?  She thought.  “Major, all stop.  Have our troops find cover behind our armor but I want those tanks ready to move.”  She took her electrobinoculars and gave several passes of the urban terrain in front of her, surveying the plaze and surrounding buildings.  After confirming visuals in IR, UV, and along the electromagnetic spectrum, Niyo lowered them, a perplexed look upon her face.  Something didn’t feel right…

“Kio…order a withdrawal to grid…” The colonel consulted the holomap on her armored wrist.  “…46-herf, 23-qek.”  Niyo kept a wary eye on the buildings surrounding them, expectation tempering her unease.  With her lightsaber in hand, she opened herself fully to the Force.

Nothing, nothing at all.  As her armor redeployed, the vanguard of the column passed Niyo down the avenue.  Above, the Galtean sun shone through the high cirrus clouds, the buildings creating a maze of shadows upon the ground, the surrounding structures, and Niyo’s ground troops.

A sudden commotion broke out along the rear perimeter of the column.  Looking behind her, Niyo couldn’t make out anything, but she could hear a growing cacophony of sounds mingled with shouting.  Directing her own hovertank backwards, she could finally make out some of the individual voices, some words now instead of just a single droning wordless tumult.  She could have sword that she’d heard a sniper shot but had seen nothing…

And that’s when she saw…it.  She hadn’t seen anything before when it was motionless, waiting in the shadows.  But when it moved… The suddenness of the attack was only surpassed by its violence.  Already, a dozen bodies lay strewn across the ground, what seemed to be a river of blood canvassing the sides of buildings, the tanks, those troops still standing, most wide-eyed.  Four tanks were suddenly airborne, as if pulled to the sky on invisible tethers and just as quickly rammed back earthward with more force than gravity could account for.  The tanks crumpled like so much tin, internal explosions ripping through the armored skin as reactors went critical.  Anyone within a 20 meter radius was killed by the concussive blast, those further out knocked off of their feet as flash-fires erupted.  Some of the Vhal’Dan unceremoniously dropped dead courtesy of a sniper’s blaster bolt having seemingly come from nowhere.

And amongst the shadows…was a figure as black as death.

Igniting her saber, Niyo jumped to the ground, running directly at the living shadow.  And none too soon; her hovertank (among others) was suddenly propelled skywards in an eerie replay of what Niyo had just witnessed.  More explosions, more people down, more blood painting the world red.  Many of her troops regained composure, Major Urope among them.  Like Niyo, she held her ignited saber in her fist, the pale silver blade casting a pall illumination of the blood-soaked streets.  “Kio!  Over there!  In the shadows between the buildings!”  

And that’s when the shadow looked directly at them.  They both felt it in the Force a split-second before it happened and the only reason why the two Vhal’Dan Jedi weren’t surprised.  Both women swerved and grabbed onto the nearest building’s support columns as a roughly spherical void almost 10 meters across suddenly formed just ahead of the incoming Vhal’Dan infantry.  The rushing wind pulled almost everyone from their feet as the Galtean atmosphere attempted to fill the vacuum that had appeared 25 meters above the ground.  Gravity did the rest.

Carefully emerging from their spot, both maenowan and koawan saw that the shadow was still in front of them, motionless as if waiting.  With an unspoken rapport developed after years of working together, Niyo and Kio rushed towards their target, lightsabers drawn.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Kio’s head hit the ground hard causing her to bite her tongue as a result.  This fight had gone…badly.  As her master and her had advanced, attacking in unison, the shadow had emerged to reveal itself as a giant armored humanoid.  Even working together, the shadow had proven itself a superior swordsman, easily countering Kio’s and Niyo’s saberwork.  With sudden swiftness, a backwards kick had caught her master unawares, sending her crashing against a tree.  Even though she had her armor on, Niyo crumpled down upon the ground.

And then the shadow was upon Kio.

Kio’s proficiency as a warrior was proven many times over but her skill with a lightsaber was only middling.  The hulking black monster battered against her defenses, drawing blood with no less than five cuts.  Her opponent was shrewd; Kio knew that such injuries were not meant to kill but rather weaken.  And they had their intended effect as she slowly bled out.  Her arms heavy, her opponent’s enormous black sword knocked her saber wide.  Pain erupted from her forearm as the black blade effortlessly severed her hand from wrist, the silver blade of her saber extinguishing.  A savage body blow doubled Kio over as she came crashing to the ground, spitting blood.

“No!”  A high voice behind the armored giant pulled its attention from Kio.  Working her saber furiously, Niyo fought savagely with the beast as she attempted to strike her opponent down.  But to no avail.

Kio was frozen…utterly frozen as she watched her master struggle against a far superior opponent…every moment she was weakening as the black creature sidestepped with horrible ease.  Finally bored it decided to finish Niyo, catching her wrist as it tugged her shoulder out, a punch to the torso shattered the armor into dust and all but came out through her back.  Kio screamed against her frozen lips to see her master spin like a mannequin booted to the ground and decapitated.  She hated the creature Kazic had unleashed—the Anzat would pay dearly for this—but she hated herself more for being too weak to stop it…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As the minutes turned to hours, Kazic watched the various holofeeds, listening as multiple reports came through.  Saani’s face remained impassive but the tightness in her eyes had lessened.

Anson’s forces were reeling; aside from the powerful Force Illusions that Ari’s people deftly used, Valens took advantage of the confusion to penetrate into the enemy perimeter, carrying out assassinations against Anson’s colonels.  At last report, he’d dispatched eleven of them, often including their first officers, leaving multiple battalions without their most experienced leaders.

But Valens wasn’t finished.

Saani watched her husband smile.  “So that’s why he did that.”  The Anzat Kage had to admit that he would not have been able to devise a strategy with the layers that Valens had laid down.  And, Kazic knew, Valens still wasn’t finished.  There were several threads that Kazic saw and could deduce the outcomes of…but there were still some left hanging that he still had no idea what part they played in the overall strategy.

…What are you doing, Valens…?

            <<<<< >>>>>

Captain Caro Pzandor yelled at the tank’s driver in an effort to be heard over the constant cannonade barrage firing from the main weapon.  “Corporal, keep them in our sights!  We’ve almost got ‘em!”  Another minute and he knew that his column would hook up with Colonel Saedrin’s…now under the command of a junior lieutenant.  Even if only half of the reports Pzandor had heard were true… He shuddered.  Some…thing had been systematically killing all of the regimental commanders.

And their First Officers.  And field grade officers.  Generally: any officer that had asserted themselves in taking command was having a really bad day.  Pzandor smiled humorlessly at that thought.  It was only luck that he’d turned his body at the last instant before a sniper’s shot burned the air past him, hitting the tank’s turret door and not his head.  And now that he’d assumed command, he’d collected all reports, getting a very good picture as to where the enemy was retreating to.

Lus’phor.

Which meant, that they were heading towards Vhal’Ulhadv’s main spaceport.  Captain Pzandor had been able to secure what remained of the five columns, driving them hard to cut off the enemy and deprive them of their objective.

…Damn that Anzati bastard… He thought.  Pzandor wasn’t a Vhal’Dan Jedi but he was Galtean Army.  And he knew a soft politician when he saw one.  Oh, sure, he’d heard the stories surrounding the military exploits of Kazic Ovarug but from what he’d heard from the defectors… Well, let’s just say that he couldn’t blame them from switching sides.

“Captain!  Something’s messing with our sensors, blanketing the entire area.”  Pzandor’s comms officer had to yell in his ear to be overheard over the hovertank’s machinery.

“EMP?”  But he knew that couldn’t be the case; communications disruptions this potent would blind the enemy as well… Pzandor didn’t even bother waiting for his comms officer to nod.  He checked the visuals of his telescope.  They were in a long avenue leading to the Meegido Bridge.  And just a half-click in front exposed on the bridge was their prey…

“We’ll just have to shoot from the hip!  Give me a firing solution!”  He smiled, thinking about the luck of his surroundings.  The enemy was completely trapped on the bridge with no escape. 

…how did they get caught in that positon…?  A small voice nagged in the back of his mind.  Shaking his head, he promptly dismissed the thought.

“Captain, we have a firing solution!”  Pzandor smiled.

“Fire!”

A horrendous noise of rending metal combined with choking smoke and shrieking screams of pain, fear, and confusion filled Captain Pzandor’s world.  Something must have been wrong with his eyes, he couldn’t focus properly.  Neither could he move for some reason.

After some time—had it been a minute?  And hour?  A day?—Pzandor raised his head and looked around, the smoke having cleared enough, although his vision was still slightly blurry.

His tank…or rather the remains of it…was in shambles.  What members of his crew he saw were dead and most were missing limbs, body parts, or even a head.  By some miracle, the main display showing the telescope feed was still working and positioned in his line of sight.  He blinked several times, attempting to clear his vision.

…no… He thought, despondently as the sight before him focused into crystal clarity.  It showed horrible devastation: twisted, smoking metal-and-composite remains of ruined vehicles, bodies, limbs, blood, and viscera splattered across the landscape, a panorama showing a wide open plaza full of the destroyed, dying, and dead.  One and all, the dead wore the armor and uniform of a single faction.

Anson’s.

As Captain Pzandor’s life-blood flowed, his heart pumping its last, his broken mind fixated upon how Anson’s forces had come to fire upon their own…

            <<<<< >>>>>

As Anson listened to the newest—and often conflicting—reports, his anxiety and mistrust began a slow-boil.  He could not figure out how Kazic had managed to once again turn the tides or war…especially given his vastly diminished forces and compromised strategies.

“What’s that, J’Nessah?  What did you say?”  Something caught Anson’s attention, something that the dark Speaker had just said.

Smoothly, she repeated the account she was reading.  “…We’ve holofeed showing contact with multiple enemy combatants demonstrating incredible physical and Force abilities have prefaced events influencing or directly leading to grievous losses to your forces, Kage.  Every report agrees on certain details: aside from their unbelievable power, they are clad in hulking black power armor that is resistant to most attacks.”  Even J’Nessah’s normally unflappable face betrayed her unease.  Not that Anson could blame her.  So: they finally had proof.

Anson was used to being one of the most powerful Force-users; in fact, he was—had been—second only to Arkady Cyne.  But even if hal…a tenth of the reports were true, these…beings were doing things that Anson himself would have to work hard at accomplishing, much less maintaining for hours…

Yet, these armored giants had given Kazic an advantage where before he’d faced ignominious defeat.  Instead, it was his own forces that had experienced loss after loss.  The past days had been more than a mere setback, Anson was in danger of losing this war.  Before J’Nessah could continue, Anson stood, knowing exactly what need be done.

“Speaker Raahn…call Congress.  Gather all remaining Gray Masters, maenowans, and koawans.  It is time that Kazic Ovarug feel the full force of our Jedi.”  The corded muscles in Anson’s arms flexed.  Unperturbed, J’Nessah bowed, watching as her Kage strode confidently away.  Before he disappeared into the hallway, she called out to him.

“Kage, what of his…creatures?”  Her voice didn’t quite tremble but Anson could feel fear, real fear, radiating from the Speaker.  He turned, his eyes burning with resolve.

“Like Kazic, we shall deal with them.”  Already, he was forming his contingencies and plans.  And as he walked away, he thought that much of this might be proven moot, should his agent be successful.  His regret was now a very small thing compared to the losses he’d experienced today.

But try as he might, he could not dispel the fact that he still considered Kazic a brother.  But such was the weight of a Kage: everything was secondary when compared to the survival of the Vhal’Dan Order.

<<<<< >>>>>

Hidden among Vhal’Ulhadv’s urban sprawl, Black-armored beings continued their devastation, heavily supplemented by Kazic’s armor and artillery.  Where Valens peoples’ preemptive strikes would “shock and awe,” drawing attention, Kazic’s forces would provide another surprise with their flanking positions and firepower.

And all the time, pushing Anson’s forces towards his objective.

Valens smiled.  This entire endeavor had been fortuitous: their Oblivion weapons had proven themselves, the new Mark II armor as well.  The tactics that the People had learned with their battles against the Jedi had been put to good use as well as learning some new tricks here from the Vhal’Dan.  And while his and Kazic’s aims were close, they were not identical.

But it would be too late before Kazic could do anything about it.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on October 15, 2018, 08:59:48 AM
So..     Valens is in fact playing his own game after all.  Somehow I don't think the survival or health of the Vhal'Dan is on his mind...

Keep going, my friend!  The tides of war ebb and flow.  I loved the description of the tanker, about to fire...  and then a brief awareness of damage, the death of his comrades and his own impending death...  Perfect.

My only quibble might be that the pacing is a bit slow, but there's a lot to tell and it might just be my own attention span is to short.  LOL 

Looking forward to more!



Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on October 15, 2018, 02:36:58 PM
So..     Valens is in fact playing his own game after all.  Somehow I don't think the survival or health of the Vhal'Dan is on his mind...

My only quibble might be that the pacing is a bit slow, but there's a lot to tell and it might just be my own attention span is to short.  LOL 

Surprise the xenophobic psychopath who’s own kinswoman Ari warned you not to do a deal with can’t be trusted…or rather can be trusted to do what is asked, but nothing more nor less and it won’t stop them pursuing their own agenda along side…. Poor Kazic he has moments he can almost see what is going on but just can’t quite get over that threshold.


Personally I like the more drawn out narrative of the war, sometimes large engagements only get a chapter or two, this way you really have to trudge through it much like the characters.  But yeah I can see both sides.

Anyway that is how Force users should fight –walk up to conventional military and just smash them telekinetically – how much easier would the clone wars have been if the Jedi fought like that- get a dozen knights together and unleash a torrent of lighting on the droid armies – problem solved, or against sentient just twist their minds to fire on their own or at the least cause utter confusion.  Some Jedi did this but not nearly enough or the war would’ve been over in weeks.

And still more details on the different people that make up the Vhal Dan, Niyo and Kio in some kind of poly-group which seems different culturally from Inyak in the prior chapter, makes sense though Galtea is home to lots of beings….Was home to lots of beings….

There was also something in Ansons response…”Anson was used to being one of the most powerful Force-users; in fact, he was—had been—second only to Arkady Cyne”  Is that…Jealousy/envy, that his enemies are doing what he cannot to turn the tide in mere days when he has failed despite his numerical superiority for months?   And where is the traitor Ryshhk K’rrmerii…..and the artefacts he absconded with….

PS cool new profile pic embroidered Vhal Dan insignia! AWSM!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on October 15, 2018, 03:13:41 PM
Another great chapter. I agree with both LSG and Karm about the length. I like the more drawn out like LSG said (and for the same reasons), but this particular chapter almost seemed to drag. Still very very good. I liked the part with Niyo and Kio a lot. That was a great scene.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on October 16, 2018, 11:46:33 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys  :)

I also prefer showing different facets of the war, specifically the disparate views of the different people within the two factions.  These people who belong to the Vhal'Dan Order (and, in this time, the Galtean Union) are from MANY backgrounds, beliefs, etc.  Sure, the war is about two differing ideologies but the people who fight it are so much more than that.  And the last thing I want is to have them come off as cardboard, straw-stand-ins  ;)


PS cool new profile pic embroidered Vhal Dan insignia! AWSM!

Thanks LSG!  This is an example of the Vhal'Dan Order's device on their ceremonial tunics.  The badge has different colors according to rank/sect:

teidowan: yellow
gray knight: gray (duh  ;))
koawan, silver knight, maenowan (undeclared/no sect): black
maenowan (fire warrior): red
maenowan (water warrior): blue
maenowan (ice sage): white
maenowan (wind sage): green
gray jedi master: purple
Speaker: copper
Arbiter: silver
Kage: gold

As soon as I have my wife's costume taken care of, I'll post pics of her Vhal'Dan badge as well  ;)

I'll be posting some pics with the full ensemble soon   :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on October 16, 2018, 02:58:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback guys  :)

I also prefer showing different facets of the war, specifically the disparate views of the different people within the two factions.  These people who belong to the Vhal'Dan Order (and, in this time, the Galtean Union) are from MANY backgrounds, beliefs, etc.  Sure, the war is about two differing ideologies but the people who fight it are so much more than that.  And the last thing I want is to have them come off as cardboard, straw-stand-ins  ;)

They certainly do feel different, like a untied nations multicultural force rather than homogeneous army...which is a strange contrast to the enemy they now face....

Anyway look forward to the pics! If i could afford enough Vantablack (according to wikipedia...Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is the darkest substance known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.) maybe I could make some Aethan Armour....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on October 16, 2018, 03:11:49 PM
They certainly do feel different, like a untied nations multicultural force rather than homogeneous army...which is a strange contrast to the enemy they now face....

Anyway look forward to the pics! If i could afford enough Vantablack (according to wikipedia...Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is the darkest substance known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.) maybe I could make some Aethan Armour....

LOL

Um....   I'd settle for some nice flat-black Krylon paint.  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on October 16, 2018, 03:43:57 PM
They certainly do feel different, like a untied nations multicultural force rather than homogeneous army...which is a strange contrast to the enemy they now face....

Anyway look forward to the pics! If i could afford enough Vantablack (according to wikipedia...Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is the darkest substance known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.) maybe I could make some Aethan Armour....

That would be awesome. Maybe sometime when you are rich and famous. :D

teidowan: yellow
gray knight: gray (duh  ;))
koawan, silver knight, maenowan (undeclared/no sect): black
maenowan (fire warrior): red
maenowan (water warrior): blue
maenowan (ice sage): white
maenowan (wind sage): green
gray jedi master: purple
Speaker: copper
Arbiter: silver
Kage: gold

As soon as I have my wife's costume taken care of, I'll post pics of her Vhal'Dan badge as well  ;)

I'll be posting some pics with the full ensemble soon   :)

Looking forward to the pics. ;D


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Golden Fedora on October 16, 2018, 04:39:58 PM
Anyway look forward to the pics! If i could afford enough Vantablack (according to wikipedia...Vantablack is a material developed by Surrey NanoSystems in the United Kingdom and is the darkest substance known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.) maybe I could make some Aethan Armour....

I'm not sure that would work, but if you did, it would be awesome!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on January 26, 2019, 01:39:43 PM
OK, two things: 1) I'm continuing to improve  :) BUT more importantly 2) SPECIAL thanks to LSG for his EXCELLENT writing!  This chapter is more his than mine and is certainly amongst my favorites!
***********************************
(https://i.ibb.co/gvxL77V/depositphotos-218860514-stock-photo-mind-fog-series-illustrtion-human.jpg) (https://ibb.co/gvxL77V)
Chapter 22: Tempus Belli, part I

The Speakers stood around the holoprojector, each in various states of confusion, frustration, and anger, their Kage epitomizing all of those emotions.  From the onset, the disparate opinions of the Speakers were one voice, positing that the war that they’d been waging was no longer the war they found themselves currently fighting.

“Analyses all concur: we are no longer facing the strategy of the false Kage.”  Pytir’s wet voice betrayed his shock and not all of it was as a result of the violence he’d personally witnessed when his tank contingent came up against one of…them.   “I…I now realize that we need to completely overhaul all of our previous strategic and tactical assumptions as it was all previously based on Kazic’s, Saani’s, or even Corvus’ previously known tactics—”

J’Nessah’s voice suddenly cut in, uncharacteristically perturbed.  “I’ve reports from the enemy camp verifying that Kazic was talking with one of the shadows.”  Not knowing what else to call the armored apparitions, the Speakers had adopted what the few survivors had called them in whispers of dread: shadows.  The dark human Speaker’s eyes hardened.  “I believe that it is in fact Kazic who is taking instruction from the shadow, not the other way around.  And with the Anzat no longer marshalling his forces, that would account for the radical change in enemy tactics, of which…”  J’Nessah’s voice trailed off, her eyes unfocused as memories of the violent massacre of her own troops replayed in her mind.  Never in her life had she seen so much carnage and she’d seen what a crazed Wookie could do to a body…  

“They are…idiosyncratic, seemingly counter intuitive, yet brutally efficient…” Laq’Uil Parsa, one of Anson’s replacement Speakers said, her normally detached monotone tinged with amazement…and apprehension.  Her solid yellow Siniteen eyes looked glassy as the veins in her bulbous seemed to pulse.  “As it stands, we are attempting to develop a working model of their new general’s plans and tactics.”

“…Of which, you still have been able to discern nothing.”  Although he spoke softly, Anson masticated the last word, the muscles in his neck bulging and corded.

“That’s correct, my Kage.”  Messer Subiah Fuqua, also newly elected as Speaker, had lost almost all of his incredulousness, having personally survived an attack by one of the shadows, if completely by accident: as the enemy shadow had advanced on the Jedi squad that Fuqua had insinuated himself in, they were initially arrogant.  Surely, the reports must have been exaggerated.  Fuqua had been committed to seeing firsthand if the rumors surrounding these “shadows” were genuine or if they’d been embellished.

Everything he’d heard was completely irrefutable.  And more…  The entire squad had been systematically decimated, the last two that Fuqua had been standing beside had erupted in a grisly cloud of blood, viscera, and offal, drenching the fat Speaker and knocking him unconscious.  Fuqua could only guess that with the amount of gore covering him that the shadow had mistaken him for dead…

“Are there no similarities in the archives we can consult…?” Ansons seethed, fists clenched.

“The only parallels we found are from the Early Draggulch Period of the New Sith wars…a forty page section on a conflict between Sith Warlords and some bizarre insurgency in the deep core…”

Anson rolled his eyes.  “1200 or more years ago in the Deep core, a useless coincidence.”  It frequently happened that commanders in different times and planets came up with similar strategies and tactics independently of each other in a process of Convergent military evolution.  Grunting he moved to the next disaster.  “What have we learned about what destroyed our fleet?”

This time Pytir answered.  “Our vessels have recovered micro fragments of an…unknown mineral of some kind mingled with the debris…unfortunately further analysis is difficult due to the small quantities and contamination of the black box data but feeds from nearby satellites indicated most ships were destroyed by some kind of kinetic weapon…our current hypothesis is that some form of projectile was hurled at tremendous speed into the ships reactors and drive cores…”  The Mon Cal fell silent again lost in violent memories.

“Their weapons and armor?”  Anson prompted.

J’Nessah responded immediately.  “We haven’t obtained any samples to study, but our long range analysis indicates it is an ultra-dense mineral of some kind…based on the physical strength required to even stand up in such an outfit…we estimate a 45% probability they are Gen’Dai.”

Anson slowly shook his head stroking his angular jaw.  …Gen’dai…that would explain the physical abilities they display…but… “Gen’Dai are not known for force sensitivity…” Anson retorted.

The dark Speaker’s lips pursed; she hated having to deal with so many unknowns.  “Apart from that they may be Anzat, they would have the strength and sensitivity…Kazic may well have called on his kinsmen.”

Once more Anson found himself irritated by their stupidity; they were grasping for explanations now and understood nothing of Anzat culture as he did.  “Anzat do not form into armies, they do no tend to come when called, and rarely work together unless in feral packs…if Kazic had such a feral pack we would’ve seen it by now…”  …A feral pack…months ago he would never have imagined Kazic using such a hideous weapon…Kazic was too decent to do such…yet now…it seemed he had allied himself with something even worse…

He desperately needed answers.  “Speakers…convey to all of our commanders to pull back to secure rallying points and consolidate.  I do not want any more of our forces to attack these shadows unless they do so en mass.”  …Not at least until I have answers…  “Arbiter, once our armies have finished regrouping, notify me at once.  I shall be in my Meditation Vestibule.”  Brushing off the questions he knew would arise, Anson left the room.

He needed answers.  And he knew how to get them.

            <<<<< >>>>>

“…Saani…”  Kazic’s voice sounded distracted but she could tell that his attention was razor-focused.  “…I think I can see Valens’ endgame.  There are several threads that still are confusing but…”  Suddenly blinking his red eyes, Kazic turned to his wife.  “Kanp’a, I need for you to do me a favor: I need ‘Eyes-on’ Intel confirming that Anson’s forces have re-activated the interplanet spaceport to Lus’Phor.  Not Vhal’Ulhadv’s, the old Galtean ‘port.”

Saani’s purple eyes stared deep into her husband’s.  “…You really think that Anson would retreat back to Lus’Phor?”  She knew that for him to pull back and give up the city would be a mistake, even now with Anson’s forces in disarray he still had the numbers.

Moving nothing but his eyes, Kazic lowered his voice.  “I do.”  If he was right…

And with alarming alacrity, he suddenly noticed the daen nosi almost undulating in the periphery of his gaze.  Had they always been there?  Or had he deliberately been ignoring them?  Castigating himself, Kazic had to fight his urges, his baser nature…  

“Of course, K’ompo.”  No one was better at stealth than Saani, her Buried Presence technique was beyond compare.  At least with the Vhal’Dan, Kazic stoically reminded himself…which reminded him…

If he was right…then he could see Valens’ true motives…a frightening and disturbing combination of military genius and childish pouting…

“Be careful, Kanp’a.  I love you.”  Kazic said, a quick smile playing below his flared nostrils.  He saw her mouth the same before she disappeared.  Turning back to the various ‘feeds, the Anzat tried not to dwell upon the daen nosi as they undulated across his vision.

            <<<<< >>>>>

Once more he sat in the Mediation Vestibule, gently wading into the stream of time, intent etched across his face.

Anson needed to see…where these Elite warriors of Kazic’s the harbingers of the Abyss of the Vhal’Dan he had seen; their armor and weapons suggested it more directly than he could’ve ever envisaged…or was there more, was there worse…

There was death on the horizon, red and scarred across the false sky of his inner eye draining to black on the faux soil he walked upon, his mind interpreting the current of the Force as visual images…and that was why he was uncertain that the interpretative function of his mind on the Force left room for...distortions, like dream connections and metaphors were fluid and unstable.  Abyss did not necessarily mean Black Armored beings.

He walked further ahead trying to pass the fury of the immediate battles, looking for the paths that would save the Vhal’dan and destroy these creatures.

<<<<< >>>>>

A sharp stabbing pain that had nothing to do with the two maenowans he was facing struck at the edge of his consciousness.  Valens rolled out of the sweeping downward strike of the sabre staff that severed the cat walk of the communications array upper levels.  Someone was pushing into the future, looking ahead…  …Anson, it has to be…Aresaea warned me he did such… Valens thought.

Rising back up he hurled a blast of energy towards the wrong foot of the second maenowan coming up behind him.  They were twin sisters of some kind or rather assigned to protect this facility, each carried a double bladed sabre of striking green that looked queer in the red glow of emergency signals.  Time foremost upon his mind, Valens inadvertently and momentarily dedicated one level of consciousness in recollection…

His infiltration had been easy at first, but after so many assassinations they were beginning to get wise to his current suite of methods—in a way this was exactly what he wanted—to test his tactics and see how competent warriors adapted…now he was getting just what he wished for…albeit a little too much at once.

As they recovered and charged from either side he was forced to retreat, leaping up and half flying to an upper-level beam around the vast cylindrical center of the communications array, a brass container for fiberoptics and transmitter cables parsing signals from the dish high above to the analysis consoles below.

The pressure was growing: Anson was moving deeper into the future…he would have to devote at least a full level of consciousness to make this work.  The twins hurled their blades in cartwheels of light…this would not be easy.

<<<<< >>>>>

Shadows lengthened as he bestrode what his mind told him were ruins…the buildings distorted yet familiar…it was ‘Any-district Vhal’Ulhadv’…figures raced along the shattered ferrocrete road…to something or from something…?  He needed specifics…he needed…

A blade like silver slashed into his mind forcing him back to his own body…he was under attack!
 
<<<<< >>>>>

He was under attack…the Twins were slicing apart the support struts to force him down; he could levitate near indefinitely if needed but that would do little good once the jump-pack troops arrived.

His first blow against Anson on the metaphysical plane had struck home but not been a knock out...this Anson was as strong as reputed.

As saber-molten chunks fell from above he directed them at the left-most twin who expertly deflect them back up creating a push and pull…and now…

Anson was back, the infinite space of the Aether filling with his presence primed to fight mentally…

Valens should retreat back from the physical battle…but to do so would undermine the reputation of invincibility he needed to build among Anson’s forces…he was already down to five levels of consciousness, one in a rest cycle…that left two for each battle…and one for emergencies…

<<<<< >>>>>

He had fought battles like this before…but only “Like.”  His mental barriers were strong, the shock of the first blast mostly worn off as he surged back into the stream of time to face the enemy.  

The temporal distortion in which the enemy was situated was what made this battle different: they were fighting across Time

The mind he encountered was vast…complex…Anson’s brain interpreted it as an obsidian clockwork monstrosity of near infinite portion, millions of tiny cogs and mechanisms in perfect synchronicity…he had to see more clearly…there was illusion there…no being was so infinite…nor overtly complex…

Anson struck out with thorns of blazing red shattering the glass of falsehood to reveal a more streamlined obelisk-like structure.  Towering, yes, but Not invincible.

A bladed counter-attack assailed him from the sides, a welling of energy in the metaphysical ‘down’ rising up to consume him…no it had already risen…!  Anson was trapped in its fold…about to be crushed…

…“about” implies linear time…we are flow walking… He realized.

He “dived” away from the attack—not Now but Before—his mind reaching back in the flow of time to avoid the encirclement.  It was like a river…there was a general flow “forward” in Time driving them both as they sloshed fighting within it…but he could still move upstream…and release weapons that flowed down upon his enemy…

<<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on January 26, 2019, 01:43:43 PM
(https://i.ibb.co/8KyZMmG/fractal-mind-by-011art-dyd85q.jpg) (https://ibb.co/8KyZMmG)
Chapter 22: Tempus Belli, part II

Taking the blade on his gantlet he twisted his wrist around with beyond human range of motion to grasp at the finger holding the hilt just below and squeeze in crushing the bones beneath the synth-leather battle gloves.

The twin screamed as Valens ducked under a decapitating blow; he kicked backward but she caught it and tried to spin him.  Underestimating his weight she failed but still dislodged him enough to force a somewhat sloppy riposte from the now one-handed sister at his left.  He came out of the lock to shoulder her toward the edge of the gantry.

Anson was learning quickly how to fight in a Flow Walking realm, he was adaptive, clever…just what Valens wanted to test himself against.  But still all-too human.  They surged down the river of time, Anson adeptly hurling boulders as hammers from upstream then surging downward to place an island for the anvil to smash Valens against…Valens pushed backwards tearing the metaphysical foundations of the island just a little so it eroded in the relentless stream of time into sand-sized shards of metaphysical energy…

As Anson tried to scoop up the sand to create a quagmire of mud Valens “blanked” the images along the river…Anson was yet to see exactly what Valens was doing—his focus was on the fight in the river of Time; Valens was on blocking his vision of the events around the fringe of the river—the ever-changing threshold where free flowing item met reality to possible eventualities, denying Anson any easy view of future events.

Once more the Sisters pushed forward…a screech erupt above as the comms dish whined, falling to the side and allowing the roof to open up and allow the jump-pack troopers in….

<<<<< >>>>>

In all his sessions of Flow Walking with Master Varel’Zo, Anson had never experienced anything like this…yet he felt he was comporting himself well…he understood the rhythm and flow of such a battle now…yet it was draining: he had to both pre-empt and post-realize his attacks and the others.

His greatest concern was how long he could last in this state…he was “far” from his body in both mental connection and “time”…he risked having a damaged—or dead—form to come back to…  In his usual ambiguous way, Varel’Zo had warned that “In the Flow, one might remain for Great Time while one’s form remains in little time.”  In other words: you could become trapped longer than you thought.

As he pushed up a barricade of energy his opponent changed tactics…accelerating the river into a rising wave to crash it down up on…. Anson tried to pull back and drain the flow to deny him much mass but it was too late, the flow struck him full on and carried him faster down the river, spinning his “eyes” in the non-reality to see all around the expanse of time, people, places shifting at the fringes…but then…

A few suddenly blacked out before he could make them out…he directed his tail spin “upstream” where there were more such blank-outs…

…the whole battle…it’s a distraction…he’s keeping me from looking at things he doesn’t want me to see…

Anson found a new level of respect for his enemy…he was ingenious and deceptive in addition to remarkably powerful…no wonder Kazic had turned the tide so rapidly.

An image at the fringe of large tower, a small vehicle upon it…a woman stepping out…was that J’nessah?...it suddenly blanked and a torrent of “sand” peppered him trying to grind him down…Anson jolted upstream to “unwind” the sand attack and tried to breach the blackened image on the river bank his enemy wished to deny him…

He felt the resistance of the blankness…a springy strange feel that molded around the bladed knife Anson tried to cut it with…instead of slicing it drew him in…

A frothing whirlpool in the river ahead meant he had to retreat…Anson had to refocus, he did not have the capacity of his enemy, did not have the expertise to breach his blocks of future events…but perhaps he could make his own…

He allowed himself to get dragged into the whirlpool, the rapid spinning disorienting as images flashed, he pulled in on himself waiting for just the right time…then sprung forth back up the stream like a gravity slingshot.

<<<<< >>>>>

Teeth gritted in irritation as Anson backed out of the trap and Valens was backed into one.

His saber worked furiously against the rain of fire from the jump-pack troopers above as the Sisters tried to stymie his motion with force barriers, one having abandoned her saber after Valens had rent it in two.

Irritated, he hurled his Blackstone sword straight at one of the sisters, she avoided being skewered but took a gash to the side only partially compensated by her armour.  His second hand now free he hauled a bolt of magnetized Aetheric lighting not at the jump-pack troops but rather the high dome of the comms array.

The pure energy exploded across the curved durasteel sky, looking to enliven every inch of conductive metal, arcs began to strike the jump-packs and blasters, seeking the charge within.  Power cells burst apart and gyroscopic stabilizers went haywire sending them into spins, freeing Valens to leap from his perch on the Comms core tower back at the sisters, lighting-charged fist first.

Anson was slowing his escape just as Valens pursued backward to the “nearer” future Valens’ tidal wave of accelerated time had been designed to draw him from seeing.  

<<<<< >>>>>

There…now he saw…here there was more clarity on the liminal of time and space…more likely and hence more ‘soon’ events…many were blanked to him…but perhaps the trick was not attacking the blank…but moving around it…

He sent probing thoughts around the edges were the emptiness phased into other pictures…

Places…faces…movements of me n and materiel’s just before or just after the events his enemy wished to hide…

…I can use this…use his own game against him…!
 
Anson focused on the movement of forces just before a blank…the retreat just after another…and “scratched” it out.

The resultant effect on the future possibilities was not anywhere near as neat as his enemy had managed…instead of outright blank Anson’s attack left tattered and twisted rags of possibilities…but that was fine he was denying his opponent the clarity he had previously enjoyed.

He managed to do this another four times before his enemy caught up with him, clearly something else had diverted his attention allowing Anson to create precious breaches.  

Brutal and blunt, a hammering Force Thorn struck toward him.  Anson “smiled” he had obviously annoyed his opponent, his mental shield took the brunt easily…but…

Thin needles wound around him, seeking the “back” of his mind if such a thing would be said to have dimensional positioning.

The first struck painfully…Anson couldn’t match the raw power any more…he had to retreat back…slithering into a more “liquid” form, he sought to dissolve out of the Flow Walk…

His enemy seemed to have no compunction about letting him go, a stalemate of sort forced them both backwards, the river of Time churning onward soon forgetting the interlopers presence…

<<<<< >>>>>

The punch was brutal enough shattering the breast plate, but it was the arcing of Aethric lighting that entered the newly formed gaps that incinerated the flesh below was what killed her.

The backwash rfom Anson’s retreat…and in all honesty his own…washed around his head…they had both done damage, as to who got the better or worst of it…that remained to be seen.

Her sister raged fiercely…Valens could empathize: if anyone had struck Jarys so…she clawed ferociously with a combat dagger into his shoulder as he spun round to meet her.  Together they had been a true challenge, alone the last sister was hopelessly outmatched, she was so used to having her sibling there to cover her weaknesses and exploit the opportunities she created it was over in mere seconds: her blows were stern, her resistance admirable, she got a knee into his chest and a final elbow to his shoulder join…even managed to summon up her sister’s fallen sabre and cut a divot into his thigh plate.  

A rapid and efficient hook-jab-jab combination rendered her head a broken mess of metal and bone oozing blood.

The whole sequence of battles had taken 4 minutes….but the intensity was more than he had anticipated…he could hear the relief forces arrive on the main floor below…he hadn’t the capacity to deal with their whole number…instead he lifted the bodies and tossed them off the catwalk swiping the sabers for their crystals later, then in rapid Aether-enhanced leaps exited the way the jump-troops had entered.

<<<<< >>>>>

“GGGhhhAAaahhh…” Anson struggled for breath as he flopped drenched in the river’s water…

No, not the river of time—that had no water—this was his own sweat.

He was somehow in the corner of the vestibule splayed out oddly, there were a number of small cuts on his hands and feet, blood marks on the wall…his body must’ve “Attacked” the room as his mind was fighting.

Slowly he regained a steady rhythm of breathing and focus enough to reflect on what had happened.  Kazic’s new “allies” were skilled manipulators of Time—and the Force—but not completely overwhelming…there were gaps.

And he had just created a number…

The images of the future he had distorted were clear in his mind…he had created opportunities, found the moments where he could alter things to gain an edge…

Now to exploit them.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on January 27, 2019, 03:44:06 AM
Thanks to Dutch for trusting me with his characters!  Anson’s flowing walking has been crucial to all his decisions leading up to the civil war…and of course he seeks answers to this problems there as well…but it is fraught, imprecise…and now…haunted by others with far greater ability and far less concern for collateral damage. 

Having said that arguably Anson got the better of the battle for the experience and additional knowledge of his enemy’s methods. Love the psychedelic pics too - hard to imagine just what that kind of experience would be like.

Anyway Anson is a great character, determined, intelligent, and capable as shown here, he adapts fast – few other Jedi would’ve escaped that situation alive – but few other Jedi would be using flow walking as Anson does and for the reasons he has in the first place....- glad I could do justice in Dutch eyes with him!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on January 31, 2019, 01:23:30 PM
Nicely written guys!    I have so many RL things going on right now that I can't really process this, but I will echo LSG: Anson is a great character!   As is Kazic, but the flow-walking was amazing!   I don't think I would have had the guts to put Karm into combat in that environment!  Very cool indeed!

And what exactly did Anson see?  And how decisive was it really?   The problem with seeing the future is that if your opponent knows you saw it ... and changes his own tactics...   

*cracks knuckles*   Bring it on!  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on February 07, 2019, 08:49:17 PM
Just finished reading these, and I've gotta say, that was amazing. I think the only other thing I've seen with such great writing and design for how things work in that type of situation would be in Young Justice, the various times they actually go into peoples heads and either piece together the past or rebuild a psyche. Absolutely amazingly done guys, looking forward to what you've got in store for us next.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 15, 2019, 01:00:15 PM
Again, special thanks to LSG for large contributions to this chapter  :)
*******************************************************
(https://thumb.ibb.co/nM9hJe/Swtor-2014-10-13-14-53-04-02.png) (https://ibb.co/nM9hJe)
Chapter 23: Cause and Effect, part I

The old Galtean spaceport wasn’t exactly dilapidated although it was clearly in disrepair: a thick coating of dust, dirt, and grime was ever-present and even some of the machinery had seized up.  Still, the Galtean engineers had made it to last: even despite those problems, Anson’s forces had been able to get the majority of the spaceport operational in record time.  The first transports had been prepped to make the Galtea-to-Lus’phor transit, the latest already rising through the lower troposphere, backlit by the flowing green auroras.

And while the spaceport was a hive of activity, no one took notice as it was located in the Underworks of Vhal’Ulhadv.  Or rather, that had been Anson’s hope.  Even as Jedi patrols scrutinized every nook, cranny, and shadow around the spaceport, they failed to notice one particular shadow amongst the darkness, the figure not even disturbing the dust.  And as the latest patrol disappeared down the industrial hall, pipes obscured by clouds of vapor, their voices were soon drown out by the droning hum of reactivated machinery.  As the figures retreated, shaded purple eyes witnessed their departure with deliberate intent.  Silently, a lithe form entirely in black materialized among the pipes, speedily making its way deeper into the spaceport.

Landing silently atop one of the freight elevators, Saani began to scale the cable leading to the Control Room.  She’d seen enough to know that Kazic would need further intel as to how many of Anson’s forces were heading to Lus’phor.  She knew that Valens had been pushing them, pushing them hard…but the “why” still eluded her.  And all Kazic had been willing to share was that it had “something to do with Ari.”  Almost unconsciously, Saani clasped the small, hard black orb she wore around her neck closer to her breast, momentary thoughts of her daughter drawing a small smile upon her lips.  But all too fleeting; while Kazic’s words hadn’t exactly put her off, something in his tone had.  Of course, that could be as a result of numerous things, many of which still sat uneasily in the back of her head.

She’d seen some of the tactics that Valens had used.  Saani was practical enough to know that terrible things happened in war.  That didn’t mean that she had to like it though.  Through the ‘feeds, she’d seen Valens’ strategies to terrorize and their results: brutal traps that, when sprung, became a melee free-for-all that often times devolved into the enemy attacking their own Jedi.  Or feints that seemingly served no purpose only to lead entire battalions to nonsense locations, causing them to retreat…right into a killbox where Kazic’s forces had every centimeter pre-sighted.  But that wasn’t the worst.

At one point, Anson’s forces broke when the severed heads and limbs of their comrades were catapulted back at them.  Many fled in horror and disgust while many attacked immediately, all rational thought gone.  She was still surprised at the vivid reminder of just how much blood could come from a single body…

Mentally shaking her head, Saani focused upon the mission at hand.  Reaching the top of the shaft, Saani sent her Force-senses outward past the closed doors.  Again, there were the regular patrols consisting of four Vhal’Dan Jedi but she doubted that any posed a threat to her.  Timing it just perfectly, she exited the lift shaft, quietly closing the doors as she silently made her way down the hallway leading to the Control Room, using the exposed ductwork to help further obfuscate her presence.  Having already felt the three beings within, she prepared herself.  Strike hard, strike fast.  Even among the Jedi Shadows, Saani was a legend.  And amongst the Vhal’Dan, she was the best Blademaster within the Order.

Subtly flooding the Control Room with Force Suppression, Saani still maintained her Buried Presence in the Force as she attacked.  This time, she had the luxury of mercy: within seconds all three of Anson’s Jedi were soon unconscious.  Keeping her senses open and flowing outward, Saani approached the computer bank and perused the datanode as she accessed the database.  

…Excellent…this is precisely what Kazic needs… She thought as she scanned over the information.  However he’d come to his conclusions, Kazic had been right: all of Anson’s forces were transferring to Lus’phor.  Out of the corner of her eye, Saani noticed that one of the datafiles stubbornly refused to open.  Determinedly, she began to write an exploit that would allow her to access the file.  Finishing quickly, she distractedly keyed the “Enable” option.

She stiffened as an industrial needle slid into her back, injecting a potent compound into her spinal nerve.  And while the effects were almost immediate, she called her lightsaber to her hand…only to have it fall to the floor through numb fingers.

The final thought that went through her head was just how anyone could have known that she was coming…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic was almost certain now: Valens was driving Anson to Lus’phor.  It made sense: without a foothold in Vhal’Ulhadv, Anson would be at a grave disadvantage given the planet’s lack of industrial complex, at least compared to Galtea’s.  Yes, the crystal processing manufactories were spread throughout the small planet but the small mined shafts mitigated Anson’s dwindling numerical superiority.

Grimly, Kazic couldn’t fault Anson’s choice to retreat to Lus’phor.  Given everything that had befallen his armies, Anson was probably counting on the same fact that the tunnels would help negate Valens’ strategies of misdirection, trap, and terrorization.  

And against any other opponent, Anson would be right.  But, as Kazic had finally concluded, Anson was being baited, lead to Lus’phor for a reason.  And—again as Kazic had finally deduced—the Anzat Kage finally knew the “why.”  Not for any strategy (although Valens had shown plenty of that, their numerous victories testament to such), but rather for a…baser reason.

He could see Valens and his kind now…truly see them…

Valens was going to punish Anson.

They were animals, so controlled by their instincts they were almost beneath the threshold of true sentience.  Oh they appeared sentient outwardly, but so could many an animal if you anthropomorphized their behaviors, attributed conscious agency where there was in reality only primal reaction to stimuli.  

Kazic understood now, Anson trying to arrest Ari had never been forgotten by Valens; Anson had threatened one of the females under Valens’ protection, he had to be punished.  It was not optional, it was a subconscious need that Ari’s people were incapable of suppressing with higher cortical functions.  The higher functions they did possess in abundance were always in service of such base motives, they were not neurologically able to override them as other sentients might.

That Valens had shown restraint before was simply because a united Vhal’Dan was a “pack” too large for him to risk antagonizing…a primordial fear response overriding the vengeance need.

Even so, sooner or later he would’ve returned to punish everyone who threatened or offended Ari the innocent cub.  A knife in the black of night then parading Anson’s head as a warning—and death effigy—to all others who would dare contemplate even the slightest insult to another of Valens’ pride.

But Kazic had provided Valens with far greater opportunity: to punish Anson by depriving him of what he held most dear, namely the safety and unity of the Vhal’Dan.  Kazic had been so caught up in the war, so twisted by his grief for the split with the man he once called brother he had ignored the most logical and efficient way to end the war.  Anson was well guarded and a very capable warrior, but against a surprise strike by Valens, Jarys and Kiraea together…even Anson could not win that fight—indeed, the whole Collegium would barely survive—the Civil War could’ve ended in a matter of hours instead of decimating the Vhal’Dan over these last weeks if they chose.  

Kazic pinched the bridge of his nose, eyelids firmly closed.  If he had chosen…had really taken the time to think.  Instead now…?  The ramifications of what he’d unleashed ran through his head, an indictment of his own failings.

They were proving their dominance on a galactic scale, Valens’ thinking primal but even more dangerous for it.  They had beaten down the Jedi on Coruscant, with Odjina gone and Vyth destroyed the Mak’Tor had hidden away, now Valens was smashing the Vhal’Dan, the only faction currently large and knowledgeable enough to threaten his Pride, honing their weapons and tactics…ensuring they came out the untouchable apex predator in the known galaxy.  It was as shocking as it was simplistic…and to Kazic’s everlasting shame he had not seen it sooner.

There was a similarity he now saw to the Anzat who turned feral after tasting the soup, for a time all their cognitive and physical grace was dedicated to getting more and more, and for centuries they could succeed as cautious hunters…but in the end the hunger was too great and in their impatience they became haggard, desperate to feed.  Kazic’s own biology was a constant threat to his morality and sentience, and he had struggled at times, Maker knew how he’d labored under such strictures!  But Valens and his kind did not struggle; if Ari had suppressed her innate drives while she lived with them on Galtea it was because of her obedience to Saani as the materfamilias, an instinct that overrode the others.  

And that was why he could not condemn them as weak or deficient for “giving in” to such impulses.  He had felt such ravenous hungers in himself too many times, they did only what was natural.  The difference with Anzat were they were incapable—in Kazic’s opinion—of anything greater.

Kazic had been played for an utter fool, not by Valens who was merely an opportunistic predator—outside of any moral condemnation of his actions—but by himself.  He had lost sight of so much in his efforts to win the war, to prove to those like Kasah that he was right, to show Anson…his followers…the galaxy…that his was the best way…  Unconsciously, his flared nostrils exhaled, the crushing realization that for all his excuses…he was wrong.

He had done this, he had set the animals loose from their cage, dazzled by their prowess, he was willfully blind to their horrifically childish, amoral behaviors…and he had set them loose on those he once called brother and friend.

The only thing worse than what he had done already…was to allow it to continue for another minute.  Squaring his shoulders, Kazic simultaneously felt better and worse: he knew what he needed to do.  He’d been wrong about so many things—maybe not in opposing Anson’s totalitarianism, but certainly in the way that he’d reacted without compromise—and that was where he should’ve steered the Vhal’Dan.  Even though his gray face was impassive, Kazic’s eyes watered.  That was where he should’ve directed his energies: to conciliate with his brother Anson, instead of being intractable.

Instead of…this.

Slowly inhaling, Kazic felt and heard Corvus enter the Command Room before he saw him.  The Devaronian Speaker looked worse for the wear, proof of his presence at the front line.  Saluting casually, Corvus face looked grim.  “Kage…Anson’s forces ‘r on th’ run.  They’ve all pulled b’ck.”

Kazic nodded.  “I know.  Moreover, I know where they’re headed.”  His deep voice was quiet, deliberate.  “Corvus…I…I have to fix this…mess…all of it…”

Corvus laid a red hand upon the taller Anzat’s shoulder.  “Kage…Kazic…I dinna ken what y’r sayin.  Are y’ OK?”  The two men paused in the dark corridor, Corvus intent on his Kage’s face.

Kazic sighed, crossing his arms.  “Sorry my friend.  I’ve…just been thinking.  I need—”

The only warning that Kazic had was seeing Corvus’ eyes widen, the Devaronian Speaker violently pulling the Anzat to the side with enough force that the floor came rushing up the meet him.  At the last moment, Kazic tried to tuck and roll himself into a defensive posture, his blue lightsaber at the ready.  Unfortunately, even in doing that, he’d struck his head a glancing blow on the floor, disorienting him.  He had to focus!

Not two meters from him, Corvus lay prostrate upon the ground, unmoving.  Above him stood a shadow all in black.  …No… Kazic thought …Not “a shadow” but a Jedi Shadow… Even as surprising as Corvus’ throw had been, the realization of what the presence of the Shadow entailed hit Kazic like a physical blow.

…Assassin… Kazic realized.  Even now the Anzat had a hard time accepting that Anson would have sent one.  …Focus, dammit…!  Even looking upon the figure, he had a difficult time seeing the Shadow.  …Must be a Buried Presence technique… But even as the thought occurred to Kazic, the Shadow moved.

Igniting a shoto, the teal light of the blade cast shadows across the figure’s body, legs, and arms.  Kazic finally saw that within the Shadow’s other hand was a wicked-looking vibroblade which, even now he saw, dripped with liquid which covered the blade.  Only moving his eyes, Kazic could see the spreading pool of blood coming from beneath Corvus.  If the Davronian hadn’t reacted as quickly as he had…

The Shadow’s sudden, ferocious attack interrupted Kazic’s ruminations, his own blue blade working furiously as he attempted to keep the assassin’s blades at bay.  He worked his lightsaber in an attempt to create an opening; he had to end this quickly.  Along with his head injury, the Shadow was a better swordsman than he.  Even as he parried, a stray thought went through his mind.

…Where is everyone…?  There were no Sentinels, no technicians, no civilians even.  No one.  Had Kazic been so preoccupied with deducing Valens’ plans that he’d become so oblivious?  As he retreated further down the corridor under the Shadow’s onslaught, he got his answer.  

Tripping over an arm that had been hidden in the shadows, Kazic landed hard upon his back, knocking the breath from him.  From the corner of his vision, he saw a…collection of bodies that had been surreptitiously deposited in one of the innocuous nooks in the hallway…almost as if it had been done deliberately…

Before he could act, something hard clobbered Kazic across his temple, further disorienting him.  The sudden pressure of cables wrapped around his wrists and ankles, pinning him to the floor, kept him somewhat lucid.  …How…?  But even more importantly, Kazic fought to clear his vision as well as his head, knowing whatever he did was ultimately futile.

Slowly walking towards him, the Shadow closed down his shoto, deliberately hefting the vibroblade.  Even as he fought to use the Force for something—anything—Kazic was still too stunned by the repeated blows to his head.  Fighting off waves of nausea, Kazic focused on the Shadow as best he could.

Standing above the Anzat, the Shadow finally spoke.  “Anson sends his regards.”  

The Shadow leaned in, the blade centimeters from Kazic’s heart…

               <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on February 15, 2019, 01:01:22 PM
Chapter 23: Cause and Effect, part II

Saani regained consciousness with violent, crystal clarity courtesy of the hard slap she received across her face.  In the space of a millisecond, she noticed she was seated in an affixed chair, her hands secured behind her.  

“Wake up, tralk.” It took a moment for Saani to recognize Pytir’s wet voice.  Using only her eyes, she scanned the room.  There were a couple of guards to either side of the lone door in an otherwise unremarkable room.  And someone else behind her…

“Have you searched her yet, Pytir?”  It was J’Nessah’s voice that came from behind her.  She should have known.

“Of course you’d be here, Raanh.  You would never let Pytir waddle out of his pool unattended.”  If Saani’s rebuke had had any effect, neither of the enemy Speakers showed it.  Instead, the Mon Cal stood to the side, absently hefting one of Saani’s lightsaber hilts, content to let his wife do…whatever it was that she wanted.  …How did they know…?

As if reading her thoughts, Saani heard J’Nessah laugh.  “Anson knew you’d be slinking around.  But don’t worry: the Kage made certain to deal with your traitor husband as well.”  Her voice dripped arrogance.

“And what is this...?” J’Nessah grasped around from behind to grab the necklace circling Saani’s neck, tearing the handwoven cord Ari had made painfully against her skin.  

Saani couldn’t repress a slight smile: despite her strength J’Nessah couldn’t snap the cord Ari had woven from naturally growing long reeds found at the mouth of the Koly’Mma River during a summer trip.

J’Nessah, embarrassed, took out a small ornate knife and cut it instead, weighing the Orb in her hand.

“The same material as their Elite soldiers’ Armor…” Pytir noted.

“So it seems…” J’Nessah gently probed it with the Force…

Almost immediately she felt her mind drawn in, her mouth stretching wide as her head leaned forward as if being sucked into the tiny but exceptionally heavy marble…as it tugged at her Force presence she dropped it as fast as she could.

Pytir rushed beside her but she brushed him away as Saani laughed out loud.  Saani might not fully understand the communication device but she was certain anyone other than her and Kazic trying to use it would activate some kind of alert.  J’nessah quickly realized the same.

“Switch those damn suppressors on NOW!” she screamed still cradling her head before rounding on Saani.  Another meaty slap resounded across the interrogation room stifling Saani’s laughter and darkening her blue skin instantly with the sting of what would no doubt be the first of many such blows.

“Is his how you talk to them? How you control them…” J’nessah seethed.  Saani said nothing, her purple eyes burrowing into the dark Speaker’s brown.  “No matter,” J’Nessah intoned.  “Our own technicians will soon find a way to weaponize it against your fiendish creatures…”

…They won’t live that long… Saani’s eyes lit maliciously – the Force Suppressors may be on now, but that brief moment would be more than enough she suspected for Ari or the others to realize she was in danger.  And where she was.  Taking a moment to really focus upon her surroundings, Saani could feel the subtle differences in atmosphere, in gravity…

…By the Maker…I’m on Lus’phor…!  Her face showed nothing of her shock.  But she felt panic rising: if Saani was afraid it was less for herself than for her husband and daughter…when they found out she had been captured…what would they do to save her?

Before she left the room, J’Nessah gave Saani a backwards glance while speaking to the two guards.  “The Kage wants her alive…but you can be…inventive in your questioning.  See to it.”

But even as the dark Speaker turned to join her husband, J’Nessah saw that Saani’s lips still held the ghost of a smile and a knowing look within her eyes…

               <<<<< >>>>>

After everything that she’d witnessed, J’Nessah had come to her own breaking point: it was clear now that Anson was less likely to win; these Elite soldiers had tipped the balance.  Whether they were harbingers of a larger force or just a commando unit made no difference, their impact was undeniable.

She needed to understand them, to work out their motives and how to play them, they served Kazic for now—why?—what did he have to compel or to offer such beings?

And slowly, her plans began to change, incorporating all of the new information that she’d collected, plans in which she would—as always—emerge the victor.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on February 15, 2019, 06:14:09 AM
And the story continues!   Oh the tangled webs we weave...    :-)   Kazic has figured it out at last.  Far to late, but now we understand his guilt and remorse at the beginning.  Not at his stance, not at taking a stand, but at unleashing Valens and his People on the Vhal'Dan loyal to Anson. 

Which just makes a body wonder...   What exactly is going to happen next?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on February 15, 2019, 02:19:16 PM
Looks like Anson made some real opportunities flow walking! Big ones! Love the parallel here just as Kazic realises his allies are uncontrollable animals J'nessah is plotting to manipulate them by working out their motives.....I suspect Kazic would almost be noble enough...or horrified enough to warn her against it.....But I see a flaw in Anson's plan if Kazic Saani and Corvus are no longer in charge....Valens has free reign.... unintended consequences is a deep theme across this whole series...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on February 15, 2019, 07:20:22 AM
But I see a flaw in Anson's plan if Kazic Saani and Corvus are no longer in charge....Valens has free reign.... unintended consequences is a deep theme across this whole series...

That is a very good point...   *pops some popcorn*


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 02, 2019, 12:31:37 PM
Wow. I didn't realize it had been 15 days since you posted this. Shows how busy my life has been I guess. Anyways, great chapter. Seems like we have just entered the third act. Where exactly it goes from here, I have no idea. All I know is that it wont disappoint.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 04, 2019, 03:02:08 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/cUABBz/section-8-hd-wallpapers-33600-5370792.jpg) (https://ibb.co/cUABBz)
Chapter 24: Hubris, part I

Even had the mine tunnel not been dark, deserted, and all but forgotten, the lone figure waiting within was effectively undetectable.  Surrounded—not uncomfortably—by black, crystalline technoarmor, the occupant waited, the silence of the mine tunnel unbroken.  But within the confines of the helmet…it was another story.

“Here we are, born to be gods/We're the princes of the universe”

Singing in time with the lyrics, he felt the Aethan adrenal response metabolize throughout his system, making everything more acute.

“Here we belong, fighting to survive/In a world with the darkest powers”

Even within the mines, he could feel the change in the rock strata, the reverberations indicative of ships, their landing gears making heavy contact with the landing pad.  Valens had been right: Anson’s forces would pull back to Lus’phor.  

But then, he knew that Valens would be right; he always was.  After all, it was Valens who’d driven them with purpose, orchestrating every tactical decision, influencing both Kazic’s as well as Anson’s collective war strategies.  Which was as it should be; no one could compare to People.  No one.

And he would show them, both his People as well as to these…Jedi.  He smiled; he already entertained notions of battling these Vhal’Dan, swatting them like the insignificant flies that they were.  Who knows?  Perhaps he could isolate Anson himself…not that it would be much of a contest.  After all, no Force-users were equal to the People.

And surely all reports of this Anson’s strength were exaggerated.  Besides…that man deserved to be humiliated, beat and beaten by him, especially for the audacity of his actions.  To think: that he had…dared molest a female of the People?!  Every time that that image—that thought—had been broadcast amongst the People… He shook his head, disgust, rage, and contempt mingling with utter hatred.  Yes, he would make Anson pay for what he’d done to Aresaea…

“Here we belong, fighting for survival/We've come to be the rulers of you all”

He smiled, listening to the song that Lyaea had looped in his armor’s audio database.  And he could not deny the aptness of the lyrics.  His chest filled with pride and eagerness, head once again filled with thoughts of brutal retribution and with him standing triumphant above the defeated, prostrate body of Anson, a scene inaugurating the surrender and submission of all of the Kage’s forces.

To him.  Because of him.  And although his face could not be seen through the polarized filter of his helmet, his teeth shined almost preternaturally as his mouth widened into an enormous smile, his voice shouting the lyrics of what he knew to be prophetic.

“And here we are, we're the princes of the universe!”

               <<<<< >>>>>

The daen nosi were never wrong.  Never.  And as Kazic observed with marked exactitude how they undulated around and through the Shadow’s form, converging on…something behind.

Just before the Shadow was going to stab Kazic, a teal blade erupted from his chest.  Even though the Shadow’s face was completely obscured by the helmet he wore, Kazic could imagine the look of surprise upon his face.  Reflexively grabbing at the blade, the Shadow only accomplished in burning his own hands on the plasma, half-vaporized fingers dropping morbidly to the ground.  Agonizingly, the Shadow slumped forward falling hard onto Kazic, lifeless.  Even as the Anzat attempted to extricate himself from beneath the body, his red eyes scrutinized the huge, darkened figure looming above him.  In the blackened hallway, Kazic’s infravision took over, giving him a better idea of who, or rather “what” the being was.

Judging by how large the body was and how efficient the circulatory system, Kazic deduced that it must be a Wookie… And with a sudden conclusiveness, the daen nosi snapped around it, seemingly settling without any notice.

…Ryshhk K’rrmerii…

As if naming him caused the darkness to recede, the Wookie Speaker’s face became visible to Kazic’s normal vision.  As with every other time he’d been around Ryshhk, Kazic was unable to read anything in his face.  Still, if present actions were any indicator…

“…Thank you.”  He said quietly, as Kazic received his second shock when the Wookie held out his hand to help the Anzat up.  He looked around the shadowed hall, now able to discern the violence that had preceded him.  Evidently, the Shadow had had plenty of time to set up his ambush.

Almost as if he’d known precisely what to expect…

…Anson…And if he knew when and where to find me…Saani…!

He knew that Anson was an accomplished Flow-Walker…but even doing so, finding someone at a precise time and place was…problematic at best.  “The future is always in motion; it would be like…trying to shoot a womprat…on a speederbike…from orbit…while drunk…” Kazic’s Master, Stryka Annix once told him.  “…Although if substantial Force-energies are involved, it can give the Flow-Walker a…lens, if you will.  Such an occurrence can help to bring focus, albeit only for a brief moment and at the cost of enormous power…”

Well.  Anson was certainly powerful…but was he powerful enough?  From what Master Stryka had intimated, it would require incredible strength in the Force.

Kazic paused, mentally stopping short.  What if…what if Valens could Flow-Walk as well?  It certainly would explain the “how” where the necessary power requirement was concerned…and combined with Anson’s?  

Still: all of this was conjecture; Kazic mentally shook his head, bringing him to the here-and-now.  …Corvus…!

Hurrying over to Corvus’ motionless body, Kazic checked for signs of life.  Feeling the light thread of a pulse, Corvus’ breathing was ragged and shallow.  Kazic breathed a silent prayer of thanks that he was still alive, administering what he could with his decidedly lacking talent of Force Healing.  Still, it was better than noth—

With a suddenness that surprised him, Kazic felt Rysshk kneel beside, placing his enormous paws upon the Devaronian Speaker.  With obvious care and skill, the Wookie Master wove deep currents of Healing, staunching the flow of blood, mending tissues, giving vital breath to Corvus…

It was an incredible display.  With the exception of the Mak’Tor Singers, Kazic had never seen such proficiency in Healing.  In a moment, Corvus’ pallid skin tone had darkened to its natural deep reddish-brown, his breathing regaining normalcy.  It was all that the Anzat could do not to stare.

Kazic looked up into the taller Wookie’s golden eyes.  “Not that I’m ungrateful but, just what are you doing here, Rysshk?”

Kazic was stunned for yet a third time: Rysshk lowered his head, his tone changing to one that Kazic had never heard from a Wookie.  He could only describe it as…contrite?

[I…I seek to serve you, Kage.  I do not ask for asylum nor exculpation and will accept as my punishment whatever you deem appropriate.  But I know that you are the one, true Kage of the Vhal’Dan.]  He went down to one knee, holding his still ignited saberstaff towards Kazic in his massive hand.  

It was an ancient form predating the Order, back when the Vhal’Dan consisted of the Seven Clans.  In doing so, Rysshk had given Kazic carte blanche in deciding the Wookie’s fate, thus the submission and offering of his weapon.  Should he chose, the Anzat Kage could use it against Rysshk.  Kazic had to smile; this was one ceremony that probably hadn’t been required since the days of Black Rikard... Still, he understood Wookie honor enough not to downplay the gravity of the situation…or the reverence behind Rysshk’s gesture.  

And the daen nosi were never wrong.

“I accept and bond you into my service and absolve you of all past trespasses.”  He spoke the ritual phrase, his deep voice intoning solemnity and authority.  And subsequently relaxed, the formality of his previous tone a thing of the past.  “Rysshk, your timing couldn’t be better but I’m desperately needed elsewhere…”  Punctuating his words, Kazic moved to pick Corvus up from the floor.  Again, Rysshk kneeled beside him, gently and effortlessly lifting the Devaronian in his thick, furry arms.

[I will take care of Corvus, my Kage.  As soon as I’ve secured his convalescence, I will join you.]  Kazic was about to refuse but thought better of such.  Rysshk was a valuable ally and one of the most powerful Jedi in the Vhal’Dan, as strong as Kazic and possibly almost Anson.  And if Saani was in trouble…

“We’ll go together, Rysshk.  I have a feeling that I’m going to need you by my side…” As Kazic fell in beside the Wookie, he thought again of the daen nosi.  He’d learned to listen to them, trust them, heed them… He had no doubt of Rysshk’s loyalty and character.  Still…Kazic had to wonder why the daen nosi hadn’t warned him about Valens and his plans.  But even as the thought percolated in his mind, Kazic was forced in reminding himself that it was his decisions that had directly lead to…well, exactly where he found himself now.  Not Valens.  Not even Anson, at least not entirely.  

He was at least just as responsible…moreso in his own estimations.  Oh, Valens was an effect to be sure but the cause…?  That could be laid squarely upon his shoulders.  He just hoped that he could affect the change requir—

Immediately, a piercing sound/light/sensation erupted in Kazic’s mind, causing him to drop to a knee, one hand going to his head the other grasping the heavy black orb that hung around his neck, the gift that Ari had given him.  While it was unlike anything he’d ever experienced, he knew immediately what it signified.

[Kage?!  Are you injured?] Rysshk somehow held Corvus in one arm while grasping Kazic’s shoulder, offering him support as he rose standing on shaky legs.

“No…” Kazic’s unsteady voice was tinged with anger…and fear.  “…but Saani, she’s…”  Kazic decided that it wasn’t important to explain the alert that he’d felt through the blackstone orb, a signal that Valens and Ari’s People certainly must’ve felt.  And with it, Saani’s exact location.  “She’s on Lus’phor.”  He had to find transportation, anythi—

[Wait, Kage.]  Rysshk stopped Kazic short.  [We’ll take my ship.  It has a medcouch for Corvus.]

Without further preamble, Kazic and Rysshk sped towards the Wookie’s ship, time both rushing headlong towards the future while seeming to crawl by as Kazic dared hope for Saani…and if he could arrive in time to help.

               <<<<< >>>>>

There were two of them, “maenowans” he believed Valens called them.  So: just one step from being full…Jedi Masters.  Even now, he fumbled a bit with the New Ways.  All People were Guardians, the aether allowing them to surpass even the most accomplished…Force-users.

Even as they reacted to his presence, their lightsabers ignited as one, he felt the aether surrounding them as they projected concentrated Pushes at him, or used it to augment their speed to match him, or to give them the Clairvoyance necessary to aid in their Point Defense, intercepting his phrik missiles with their blades.  All very “neat” and “orderly” he thought.

“I am immortal, I have inside me blood of gods”

With the music pounding in his helmet, he would show these Force-users what power in the aether really was.

Sensing a third Vhal’Dan approaching attempting to flank him, he dedicated a full two consciousnesses towards the attacker.  A newly-raised koawan, she was eager…but not inexperienced.  She did not rush nor telegraph her intent, he thought, and against any other opponent she would have been successful.  But not against one of the People.

“I have no rival, no man can be my equal”

However, before she could commit, screams erupted from her throat, straining and pained.  The two maenowans that were fighting him looked askance, their collective faces filled with horror as the koawan burst into flames, a living pyre.

Distracted, his opponents had left themselves vitally unguarded.  As he parried with his blackstone tremor sword, he again focused.  This time, the air around them began to grow heavy, thick, and stifling, perspiration immediately breaking out along the two maenowans’ skin.  Shunting a partial third consciousness towards his ends, the tunnels around him exploded in blue aetheric fire, immolating his opponents.  So intense were the flames that their tissues flash-burned in less than a minute, skeletons dropping at his feet along with their deactivated lightsabers.

“Take me to the future of you all”

He was singing along with the lyrics, emboldened by his quick victory.

But then, he knew he’d win.

He smiled again, seeing more Jedi enter the room from the landing port.  Good, he was just getting warmed up…

               <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 04, 2019, 03:12:11 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/h1zNQH/Quinlan-Vos-01.jpg) (https://ibb.co/h1zNQH)
Chapter 24: Hubris, part II

A wet, sickening blow landed squarely across Saani’s face, and not for the first time.  J’Nessah had instructed her interrogators to be “inventive.”  

Thus far, they’d been anything but.

And while Saani’s body was beaten, she was not beat.  She knew that with patience and the Force, she’d outlast these frellicks…

Again, the balled fist of the other brute, clubbed down across her chin.  Spitting blood, she continued to look nonchalantly at them.

“The Speaker wants answers.  This will only get worse for you.”  A bored, sophisticated voice intoned behind her.  “Tell us of the false Kage’s new war strategies.  Who are the black armored beings?  How many of them are there?”  Saani muted his voice as he continued droning on, her focus almost entirely on pushing against the Force Suppressors.  

The Vhal’Dan Force Suppressor Units were large and unwieldy, needing substantial time and effort to correctly set up to be truly effective.  Like within the Detention Cells in the Prison Sector of the Underworks.  

These, however, had been set up hastily.

And, given enough time and effort, a powerful Gray Master like Saani could circumvent the Suppressor’s null-field.

Another blow, this time to her solar plexus, more monotonous questioning.  But she was almost through the barrier…

               <<<<< >>>>>

A dozen bodies lay about the room and the adjacent tunnel, some still aflame.  His current opponent was what they called a “Silver Knight.”  And she was good, very good.

Too bad he was superior.

“Got your world in my hand”

Still singing, he parried the plasma blade again, projecting a torrent of flame towards the knight.  But before it hit, the flames unraveled.  She was good, he was forced to admit.  He felt the sense of vertigo associated with weightlessness before his booted feet left the floor.  It was a good effort, he acknowledged.  But not enough.

“We were born to be princes of the universe”

Drawing upon the aether, he reversed her efforts with the Force, his armor slamming down upon the metal-plated flooring, denting it in the process.  Simultaneously, he sent an enormous tremor through the ground originating where he’d landed and converging upon where the silver knight stood.

As the ground below her feet erupted upwards, she was thrown forcefully towards the ceiling at a velocity she neither expected nor could react in time to.  Her mangled body fell unceremoniously among her dead comrades as he stood triumphantly, but not before he gestured with a flourish with his tremor sword, bisecting the body before it touched the ground.

Would he find an opponent—any opponent—worthy of him?!

Turning, he was about to exit the room leading to the landing pad when the blast doors opened.

There, standing amongst a dozen of his followers, was the man that he’d wondered, hoped, dreamed of seeing.

Anson D’Aklon.

As he witnessed Anson shrug out of his robes and ignite a green lightsaber, he increased the volume of the song within his helmet.  This would be glorious!

“Here we are, born to be gods/We're the princes of the universe”

He would praise the Goddesses tonight.  Who knew that he would be the one to kill the offender of the People?

               <<<<< >>>>>

“My Kage!  This is the one the reports have warned us about…” Messer Subiah Fuqua said from behind Anson, his tone reflective of his apprehension.  “…he fights like a psychotic ganger…”  The others of the Collegium nodded and voiced their agreement, all wary.  The panicked death screams of their comrades had been the last sounds broadcast along audio channels.  But before those had come disbelief, confusion, and terror.  This…thing fought not so much like a knight but rather a raging nexu, no rhyme or reason to his attacks, no control…yet it was somehow all the more dangerous for it.

Staring at the black armored daemon in the room in front of them, the Kage’s entire entourage moved to ignite their lightsabers.  Even as they did so, more than one pair of eyes glanced at the immolated and butchered bodies grisly spread across the floor of the room, each member of the Collegium recognizing at least one friend.  Controlled fear—but fear nevertheless—threatened to overwhelm them; they knew that their chances of survival were small at best.

“STOP!”  Anson’s voice rang out, commanding.  Doffing his own robes, his lightsaber flew to his hand, the green blade casting hopeful shadows within the room.  “Your Kage will deal with this matter.”

As the armored being…moved, Anson drew deeply upon the Force, now more than ever in his life; memories, experiences, and fears of the last week foremost in the Kage’s mind as he prepared to fight the daemon that Kazic had called from the Hellspont…

               <<<<< >>>>>

…There…!  Saani was finally able to gain purchase on the Force, ripping through the null-field and wrapping herself fully within the Force.  As the brute’s fist was about to land again, Saani acted.

Manipulating the Force, she caused the gravity within the room to increase exponentially while simultaneously calling her lightsabers to her.  Her three questioners had no time to react, the two brutes who had previously looked on in arrogant contempt now had similar looks of horror upon their faces, the man with the nasally sophisticated voice squeaked a cry of surprise and trepidation.

One and all, they died…poorly.

Saani took a moment to collect herself, directing Healing flows into her own body.  By the Maker she hurt…but she’d been through worse.  As the seconds turned to minutes, Saani felt recovered enough that she could continue.

That’s when she heard a violent commotion coming from outside the room.  …Kazic…! Saani smiled.  Of course her K’ompo would come to find her.  Not for the first time, she was grateful for the orb she’d been given.  …I’m going to get that back from that bitch J’Nessah… She thought, her lips thinning in momentary anger.  But, first things first…

Forcing the doors open, she watched as the two Sentinels who had been standing outside of her door were…dispatched of.  It never ceased to amaze her how much of a bloody mess a single body could make, much less two.  But even before she could focus upon the scene before her, a heavy body collided with her, driving the breath--and sense--from her.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Gritting his teeth, he no longer sang the lyrics as they played within his helmet; he was too busy focusing on the task at hand.

“I am immortal, I have inside me blood of gods”

He had to dedicate his full five consciousnesses just to keep up.  His pyrokinetics were thwarted at every attempt, his metaphysical attacks blunted each time against an impenetrable wall, his tremor sword turned away with what seemed to be frightening ease.  And still Anson pressed his advantage.  He knew that his biology was superior…yet this…this mere human more than kept pace with him…Anson was winning.

The green-white plasma blade seemed to teleport around the room, so swift were Anson’s strikes.  Incredibly—and worse—his strength in the aether was equal to his own!  He’d been told that some very rare individuals came close to the strength of the People…but he’d never believed it, much less seen it.  A Force-powered kick to the knee-join of his armor refocused his attention.  He also felt a half-dozen Force-Pushes in fast succession in addition to several missiles streak towards him.  He defeated them all, either crushing them with the aether or slicing them out of the air with his tremor sword.  All too easy…

“I have no rival, no man can be my equal”

Only…his armor…he felt…sluggish…

…NO…!  His temper flared, burning away the Force Suppression that Anson had been subtly employing.  No, this…human was NOT his equal.  Within his head echoed the lyrics.  HE would show him the power of the aether!

But the damage had been done.  Each seemingly inconsequential missile that he’d slashed only served to create two, and two, four…and so on.  Anson had used those smaller projectiles to burrow into the joins of the armor, the only parts not made of the blackstone.  And although tough, physics still held sway as Anson’s Force-enhanced bolts worked their way into the armor at the joins, whilst Anson simultaneously projected a false image onto the *HUD within the armored helmet.  So it was that he was unaware of Anson’s true offensive.

Had he not been so distracted by anger, so overconfident, he would have seen at least part of Anson’s plans.  But such was his hubris that he had not considered the distinct possibility that Anson was not only of like strength but was also much more experienced.

Suddenly sharp, piercing pain erupted in his knees, elbows, and shoulders.  Had he been human, he would have dropped the tremor sword from deadened fingers.  As it was, his superior biology allowed him to continue to move, to fight even as the small, invasive barbs kept cutting through the tissues.  But the intended effect was obvious: he’d been hamstrung.

It was then that he could see through the Alter Image that Anson had fabricated, the HUD strobing red indicating the structural intrusions as well as the physical incisions.  

“Take me to the future of yo—”

Anson’s lightsaber struck his helmet several times, a progression of significant hits that cracked the polarized faceplate but also disrupted the audio system.  It was then that one of the barbs finally found its way in his inner thigh, severing the sciatic nerve.  And as it was that leg that he held his weight upon, he summarily collapsed falling awkwardly as Anson simultaneously projected a potent Force Push that turned his stumble into a clumsy fall.  And in his panic, he lost grip upon his tremor sword.

Anson’s reaction was swift beyond description.  Seizing the heavy blackstone blade in his hand powered with Force-augmented strength, he brought the blade down in a violent slash, finally breaking the helmet’s faceplate.  On the riposte, Anson drove the blade directly in the wrist join of his armor, pinning his arm to the ground.  

His conscious mind numb, his instincts took ahold, projecting his People’s distress response through the aether.  <helpmehelpmehelpme>  It was not a plea but rather an alarm, not unlike the response that Saani’s black orb had generated when J’Nessah Raahn had touched it.

Breathing heavily, Anson held his ignited lightsaber mere centimeters from the exposed face of the young man who stared back at him, his armor now constraining him.  He looked deep into the brown eyes of the man—the human—who had vanquished him, one thought above all echoing through his mind.

…How…?

And even as he schooled his breathing, Anson’s face remained impassive, looking upon not the daemon that everyone had said that Kazic had unleashed but rather the face of a young man.

A confounded, beaten young man.

*******************
*HUD: Heads Up Display


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 04, 2019, 04:31:00 PM
Whoa...   Anson took down one of the Aethans????   This guy is crazy-powerful!   Even if it was an over-confident teen.

Still.   He sent a distress call.   I think Anson's in for a world of hurt...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 04, 2019, 02:47:04 PM
Anson - showing the Collegium how its done - putting a stop to the juggernaut - albeit only after he'd caused utter carnage - the next moments will be very telling I think as to whether the Collegium believes Anson can turn the tide - as it is Corvus injured, Saani captured (if only temporarily) and an Aethan beaten is a pretty good start. 

Once more i feel that Ryshhk is too decent to be on either side...too noble for such a war, which is both praiseworthy and a failing in a sense, still certainly a strong secondary character you've created there.

And Kazic...as noble as his new aspirations might be...i think that ship is already in hyperspace and its out of his hands....and I suspect Kazic isn't the only one worried about Saani.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 05, 2019, 08:27:13 AM
Anson - showing the Collegium how its done - putting a stop to the juggernaut - albeit only after he'd caused utter carnage - the next moments will be very telling I think as to whether the Collegium believes Anson can turn the tide - as it is Corvus injured, Saani captured (if only temporarily) and an Aethan beaten is a pretty good start. 

Once more i feel that Ryshhk is too decent to be on either side...too noble for such a war, which is both praiseworthy and a failing in a sense, still certainly a strong secondary character you've created there.

And Kazic...as noble as his new aspirations might be...i think that ship is already in hyperspace and its out of his hands....and I suspect Kazic isn't the only one worried about Saani.

I totally agree with you on Ryshhk.  He's pure Wookie, a race that I have always felt was extremely honor-bound and driven by a very deep and personal code of ethics and morality that they find generally immutable and unbreakable.  Chewbackka set that mold with his utter loyalty to Han.  Ryshhk certainly lives up to it as well.   I feel like the Wookie master (his name escapes me) in Fate of the Aether is also similar, a character to noble for the situation he is in.

I am glad to see he's chosen Kazic, though.  Of course, we sympathize with his side because we're MEANT to as readers and the author pushed us that way, but I think I would have been on his side from the beginning.  Probably dead by now, though, as I'm to rash and overconfident for my own good...   :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 05, 2019, 05:08:40 AM
I totally agree with you on Ryshhk.  He's pure Wookie, a race that I have always felt was extremely honor-bound and driven by a very deep and personal code of ethics and morality that they find generally immutable and unbreakable.  Chewbackka set that mold with his utter loyalty to Han.  Ryshhk certainly lives up to it as well.   I feel like the Wookie master (his name escapes me) in Fate of the Aether is also similar, a character to noble for the situation he is in.

I am glad to see he's chosen Kazic, though.  Of course, we sympathize with his side because we're MEANT to as readers and the author pushed us that way, but I think I would have been on his side from the beginning.  Probably dead by now, though, as I'm to rash and overconfident for my own good...   :-)
Yshhrk is the name of the Wookie Sentinel from FotA  :)

And they certainly do feel similar, Yshhrk and Ryshhk, don't they?  Hmmm...

OK, I admit it: that's deliberate.  It's because they [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].  Now that you know that, doesn't it just make more sense?!  ;)

Anson - showing the Collegium how its done - putting a stop to the juggernaut - albeit only after he'd caused utter carnage - the next moments will be very telling I think as to whether the Collegium believes Anson can turn the tide - as it is Corvus injured, Saani captured (if only temporarily) and an Aethan beaten is a pretty good start. 

Once more i feel that Ryshhk is too decent to be on either side...too noble for such a war, which is both praiseworthy and a failing in a sense, still certainly a strong secondary character you've created there.

And Kazic...as noble as his new aspirations might be...i think that ship is already in hyperspace and its out of his hands....and I suspect Kazic isn't the only one worried about Saani.
And thanks LSG!  :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 05, 2019, 12:21:12 PM
Yshhrk is the name of the Wookie Sentinel from FotA  :)

And they certainly do feel similar, Yshhrk and Ryshhk, don't they?  Hmmm...

OK, I admit it: that's deliberate.  It's because they [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].  Now that you know that, doesn't it just make more sense?!  ;)
And thanks LSG!  :)

You, sir, are evil.....     ;-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 05, 2019, 10:29:19 PM
Wow, that was incredible. Anson has never scared me before. That has now changed. He is too powerful for his own good. No wonder many accepted him as Kage.

Yshhrk is the name of the Wookie Sentinel from FotA  :)

And they certainly do feel similar, Yshhrk and Ryshhk, don't they?  Hmmm...

OK, I admit it: that's deliberate.  It's because they [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].  Now that you know that, doesn't it just make more sense?!  ;)
And thanks LSG!  :)

Haha, that is perfect. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on FotA pretty soon here. I got behind over Christmas break, and haven't stayed caught up due to school. Still, looking forward to finally getting to read it.
Yshhrk and Ryshhk? Looks like an anagram to me.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 06, 2019, 07:58:08 AM
Wow, that was incredible. Anson has never scared me before. That has now changed. He is too powerful for his own good. No wonder many accepted him as Kage.

Haha, that is perfect. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on FotA pretty soon here. I got behind over Christmas break, and haven't stayed caught up due to school. Still, looking forward to finally getting to read it.
Yshhrk and Ryshhk? Looks like an anagram to me.

I'm thinking its a familial or clan connection...   ;-)   Though, knowing these guys, it could just be a huge, stinky red herring!  LOL


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 08, 2019, 12:56:15 PM
Special thanks again to LSG who did major contributions to this chapter  :)
************************************************************
(https://i.ibb.co/mXZF5BT/12abb2f984d510e46a114f37fdd68be0.jpg) (https://ibb.co/mXZF5BT)
Chapter 25: “The Best Laid Plans…” part I

…Ah a male… J’Nessah was already a step ahead as she hopped off the skiff to the meeting place, blackstone orb still in her hand.

A moment after she’d touched the necklace, she’d felt a presence emanating from the orb.  And while the communication had been terse, the message was clear: they’d wanted to parley.  Without overture, they had said one thing: “Infer’num Patera.” 

Infer’num Patera.  It was an isolated crater about 12 kilometers from the entrance of the Pretiosum Kyber Mines.  The surrounding land was heavily cratered, wind-blasted, gray, and barren.  In other words: typical of Lus’phor.  Familiar with the area, she had prepared appropriately for the meeting.

She was flanked by two bodyguards.  In Vhal’Dan Sentinel Armor they seemed a suitable escort for any Speaker and went largely unnoticed.  In reality they were what the Masters of Rorak 4 called “Untarnished:” slave children selectively bred and trained from birth and subject to various courses of gene therapy and hormonal resequencing to create utterly obedient and incorruptible mindless guards, attuned to whomever they were mentally sequenced to obey.  Technically they were slaves, but J’Nessah thought of them more as biological droids.

She did not expect any trouble, but their gleaming outfits would show her position as a commander of authority with the time to have her thralls remove the blood and mud of war.  In addition her transport had two folded HK-62’s secreted into the side engine nacelles for emergencies.
 
Males were far easier to control than women, just dangle the chance to be the Alpha and they would always bite; play a little damsel in distress, offer a crown and marital glory and they were yours.

When she disembarked from her skiff, she had been surprised to see a lone figure at the base of the crater.  Even a cursory sweep with her Force senses had confirmed that he was alone.  But if he had been worried, he certainly didn’t show it.

He stood tall in his black, crystalline technoarmor with only his head exposed.  A handsome face, if hard, she decided.  J’Nessah could see no weapons of any kind upon his person.  But that meant nothing; she had seen what he and his kind could accomplish.

But for now: to work.

“I am J’Nessah Raahn, First Speaker and Admiral Pro Tem of the Galtean Navy, Vice-Director of the Collegium, Master Gray of the Vhal’Dan Jedi Order.” Her melodious voice carried across the patera, both a trick of the crater’s acoustics as well as a result of her manipulation via the Force.

“I am Valens.”  Just as his brusque pronouncement stood in direct contrast with J’Nessah’s ostentatiousness, so too did his quiet voice.

Nonplussed, J’Nessah continued.  “I wish to congratulate you, Valens; you and your forces have momentarily disrupted my Kage’s plans.  But now that he has regrouped, he will crush you.”

Valens’ face betrayed nothing.  “Anson is finished.”

The finality of his tone struck a chord in the dark Speaker.  Mentally, she shifted gears.  …This could better work to my advantage… She adopted an easy smile, relaxing her posture.

“A man such as you shouldn’t be serving a fool like Kazic… And I believe you: both Anson and Kazic are poison now, divisive figures neither of which can lead the Vhal’Dan forward…but an Outsider, an independent party with such proven prowess could easily assume the mantle of Kage.  And—combined with my influence—we could inaugurate a new era for not only the Vhal’Dan but the Jedi Order as well!  With me at your side, the treasures of Galtea and Lus’phor would be made available to you.  Think of it: you would be unstoppable, surrounded by the armies of the Vhal’Dan, anything in the galaxy within your reach!”  She assumed a slightly coquettish manner, deferential and unthreatening.  Men the universe throughout always responded to such.

Again, Valens did not so much as blink, his face completely impassive.  “Is that what you said to Vvuyulkvahhr on Ska Gora…the same trickle of tempting words…”

Years of practice and training to show the correct emotion on her face, the perfectly suited inflection in her voice, restraining her real feelings to meet the situation with poise and control…all this nearly broke down as he uttered those words with cool precision.

“‘King Maker’ they called you didn’t they, for putting him on the throne and stirring his emotions to your will…why do you even play this game of thrones?” He took one step forward that was as silent as it was potent.  “What do you gain?  You’ve no children to protect, nor People to defend, is it simply the thrill of proving that you are the smartest person on the planet, the satisfaction of seeing everyone else dance like puppets to your silent music?”

While her face betrayed nothing, she could feel an upwelling of apprehension deep within her.  As he took a second step forward she glanced to her—

Her body guards were gone.

“You think you have anything I want?”  Faster than she could see his hand was on her throat lifting her up, her feet kicking impotently in the air.  “Did you truly believe there is anything on this planet I could not simply take if I desire it?”

Flicking her wrist back she hit the discrete pressure point on her bracelet, a hiss of gas spitting up green and noxious toward his face.

But his face wasn’t there anymore…the face she had seen vanished behind a helmet that somehow had always been there…she just couldn’t see it…a Force Illusion…

“You are a trivial little backstabber courting powers you cannot comprehend for your own pointless satisfaction….”  She was not done yet, tensing her thighs she activated a secreted stun net that flickered on with a brief blue flash before the energy was soaked up midway past his arms and dissipated into the void of his armor.  “You Outsiders think in such petty selfish terms, you are so incompetent that you don’t actually realize how incompetent you truly are…the Du’nning-Kruger Effect you call it…”

A weight of obsidian fell upon her mind crushing down on her very sentience as she thrashed against his grip calling on the Force to pry off his hand.  Like a parent batting away a poking child he slapped her efforts aside.

“we…ll…destroy you…” She choked out, her voice sounding as small and feeble as she felt.

“Better than you have tried…you don’t even rate in the same league as the true masters of manipulation we have destroyed.”  It wasn’t even his words that were most galling or even his utterly dismissive tone; it was the fact that she was entirely helpless…an insect against a gorog.

She had but one trick left up her sleeve…or rather in her mouth: the loss of a tooth when she was young in a sparring session had provide the perfect opportunity for replacement with micro transmitter that send a short burst signal.  She had coded half a dozen items to respond to that signal…one of which was the sabre on her belt.

Flicking her tongue to push the false tooth over she bit down ostensibly in pain at his grip to activate it.

Brilliant silver erupted at her hip and lit the armored figure from below in its glow, it bore straight into his chest piece reddening the advanced armor with a barrage of pure energy.

The sides of her speeder flipped open and two HK-62’s leapt out unleashing their laser lances instantly in defense of their mistress.

Valens sighed as he returned his fourth level of consciousness to the present and deftly gripped her mouth Open with the aether…his armor would’ve survived the sabre, the droids he could dismantle with a thought, but the signal to her husband would’ve been annoying… He needed her compatriots to consider her “intact.”  In a way he respected J’Nessah: she was clever, ambitious, cunning…

Her eyes finally betrayed fear and panic as her final contingency was denied her.  It didn’t last long.

J’Nessah was a strong willed woman, sure of herself as any could be.  But the disorientation of her opponent’s sudden assault, her helplessness and inability to use her political skill to escape had all diminished her confidence.  Unrelenting obsidian cliffs of telepathic power did the rest.

<You will surrender those divisions and resources to us, you will use your most powerful arguments and diplomatic skills to convince every officer and maenowan you can to defect en masse in exactly 72 hours… You will use your logistical skills to ensure this remains hidden from Anson and his loyalists… You will transmit all key strategic data you can to frequency 332-Besh-7 in exactly 36 hours, then you will obtain whatever discrete explosives your pretty form can carry, secrete them on your person and detonate them as close to your Kage Anson D’Aklon as physically possible.>

As J’Nessah dropped insensate, the girl returned with her bodyguards, one dragged by the heel and tossed to the side, the other slightly wobbly on his feet.

“That one broke, but this one should work.” Lyaea noted prodding it along.

“Poor creatures…” Adaea sympathized with the Untarnished that had survived a rapid reprogramming.  “…Outsiders are so cruel…” she continued; there was no double standard from their point of view in mind controlling J’Nessah and the Untarnished themselves.  It was perfectly acceptable for People to control Outsiders, but it was mean and wrong for People to control People or for Outsiders to control Outsiders, and utterly blasphemous for Outsiders to control People!

“Send them on their way…then commence extraction, we won’t remain here much longer.”

No sooner had the words left his mouth then they felt the alarm beckoning them through the aether. 

<helpmehelpmehelpme

Adaea looked to Valens, concerned.  “Valens, it’s—”

“Yes.”  Even as he spoke, he mentally called their ship which had, up to this point, been hovering close by but obfuscated from scans. 

“But what about Saani?” Adaea’s voice hinted concern but was otherwise preoccupied.

“I’ve already sent help.” He reassured her, likewise.  Yet his face was a silent mask of resolve.

Dedicating one full consciousness so as to reach all of the People simultaneously, Valens and Adaea boarded the sleek, black arrowhead-shaped ship.

As it sped away towards the Lus’phor Spaceport landing area, leaving no signs of being there, J’Nessah finally blinked.

               <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 08, 2019, 01:02:09 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/jLg3TT/e377e11893bfdaaa49d84442cf9ad48e.jpg) (https://ibb.co/jLg3TT)
Chapter 25: "The Best Laid Plans..." part II

…That went well… She had to admit to herself and she headed back towards her skiff.  As she’d maintained: men the galaxy throughout were easily manipulated.  Now that she’d set the rest of her plans into motion, she had to get back to the Collegium.  Certainly there would be some holdouts among them but she knew that the majority of them would defect to…Kazic’s…side…?

She stopped short suddenly before boarding.  Something was…amiss…elusive.  She went through a Force exercise, one that aided in mental acumen…one that she always used when pursuing negotiations.

Several mental images came to the forefront of her mind helping to clarify her confusion, illuminating her concern.

J’Nessah smiled.  …Clever man… She had to admit.  So: this Valens had tried to project some Force Suggestions in her mind.  But she lived by the maxim of “Be overly-prepared.”  She had set defenses in place just for such.  Her smile widened.  

Now that she had secured Valens and his People, she would create further chaos by inciting the mutiny within Anson’s retinue.

Even as she piloted the skiff away, she took no notice of the disparities: her bodyguard now consisted of one less Untarnished, all doubts concerning her questionable reversal of loyalties were crushed and forgotten, and even as she locked her destination into the autopilot, her hands surreptitiously gathered various parts and devices and began to assemble them.

All the while convinced that she’d been successful with her machinations involving Valens…

And, smiling broadly and victoriously, she slapped the final component in place on the device that she didn’t even know that she had built.

An improvised thermal detonator.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Saani struggled to gain a breath, the crushing weight around her tightening.  She wrapped her arms around the body that had collided with her.  

And hugged as tightly as she could.

“Mother!” Aresaea’s voice was filled with relief, joy, and concern .  Saani’s smile was one of comfort and unbridled exultation, the tears on her face having nothing to do with her injuries.

“My Dear One…” Her quiet voice was muffled by Aresaea’s red hair but she heard nonetheless.  Both women held onto one another taking comfort in each other’s presence.

It was a jarring tableau: among the violence and gore that painted the room with blood, the reunion between mother and daughter was one of tenderness and love.

And altogether to brief.

“Ari…words cannot express how happy I am that you’re here but we need to talk with your father.” Even as she spoke, she moved with purpose, collecting everything that her interrogators had divested her of.  It wasn’t much: she grabbed the small communicator that was keyed to Kazic’s; she already had her lightsabers and J’Nessah had taken the blackstone orb.  As she turned, she ran right into Ari.

“Saani…your face…” She raised her hands, cupping her mother’s bloody blue cheeks, flows of Healing wrapping around and through her.

Gently but firmly, Saani disengaged Ari’s hands.  “It’s OK Ari, I’ll be fine but we’ve no time.  As I said: we need to contact Kazic.”  She began to ping his comms, her face serene and patient when in truth she felt anything but.  Gingerly, she touched her brow; without any Healing, she could tell that her left eye would be swollen shut in a few hours.

“My ship is this way.”  The younger woman paused.  “Saani…why don’t we use your blackstone orb to call him?”  Ari fell into step besides Saani but soon took lead as she led the Twi’lek to where she’d docked.

Saani grimaced, her still bleeding and broken lips expressing the anger she felt.  “Because, J’Nessah Raahn stole the one you’d given me and I don’t want her to know that I’m no longer her prisoner.”  Ari silently nodded.

When Kazic did answer his comms, Saani told him of everything that had occurred.  And while Ari’s presence was a welcome surprise (although he wasn’t shocked given what he’d felt through his own blackstone orb), he told his wife of his own attack from the would-be assassin and his subsequent deductions concerning Anson’s clairvoyance with their respective whereabouts, as well as about Corvus’ sacrifice and Ryshhk’s defection.

“That would explain some of the intel that I gleaned before my capture…” Saani’s voice became introspective.  “I’d wondered why Anson had sent out a city-wide seizure order for Speaker K’rrmerii…”  She shook her head.  “Kazic, you were right: Anson has relocated all of his forces to Lus’phor.  Jedi, military, even the Collegium.  And I know exactly where their new base is.”

“Nicely done.”  His voice sounded…off.  “Kanp’a…” But Saani cut him off.

“No, K’ompo.  No regrets.  I’m fine…if a little worse for the wear.  This intel was necessary, especially since—”  She barely paused, aware that any mention of Valens would surely pique Ari’s interest.  “–you were correct concerning the results, if not necessarily the impetus.”  She reached out with the Force and, as they had time and again Joined, intertwining Kazic’s with her own, their own special way of communication and sharing.  Saani sighed.  “…I’m just sorry that J’Nessah got away…”

But it was Ari’s pronouncement that changed everything.  “Saani, I know where J’Nessah Raahn is and I can take you to her.  She’ll never expect us.”

Saani considered for a moment.  She was not given to impulses and was not vengeful…but she had a grievance with the dark Speaker.  And—she had to admit—she would make a valuable hostage.

While Kazic listened, Saani began laying out plans as Ari nodded eagerly.  One way or another, J’Nessah was going to regret ever underestimating her.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Anson looked down at the young man, consternation painted across his face.  Even though his lightsaber never wavered, the young man didn’t flinch, his own face radiating defiance.  But the emotions roiling from him were a potent mix of incredulousness, impertinence, and fear.

Anson’s brown eyes drilled into the young man’s light blue.  Without looking away, he addressed the members of the Collegium.  “Look.  LOOK!  This is what Kazic has sent in his stead: not some daemon of myth, stealing souls through voices.  Not an invincible, inexorable killing droid.  Not even an undead, half-sentient rakghoul.  Look!”  Using the Force, he lifted the young man—armor and all—for everyone to see.  “This is no monster, no Sith, no myth come to life.  Merely a boy, a boy who is afraid.”

When he finally looked to each of his Collegium, Anson saw within their eyes their questions, their uncertainties, but also their relief.  Their relief that the shadows were NOT nigh-unstoppable…that they were mortal.  Anson knew that he’d shored up their doubts, both in him and in the war.  He smiled.  Kazic had played his hand and played it well but now he saw the skifter for what it was.

This was no Legate card, only a worthless Two of Flasks.  

Anson’s smirk was for the cowards in his own retinue as much as for the reputed invulnerability of Kazic’s armored agents.  And he opened his mouth to denounce them as the gimmick that they were.

All lights went out within the large hanger, the air oppressive… disturbing and full of menace.

And when the light returned, there standing imperiously and radiating domineering might was one of the armored beings.  Only, his head stood exposed, his face dangerous and fearless.  Everyone within the room shrank away from the power that the figure exuded.  

Everyone…except two.

The young man looked at the new armored figure with something very near adulation.  

Anson looked at the new armored figure with curiosity.

However, both felt awe.

Anson stepped forth, challenging and unafraid.  “Who are you?”

The hulking armored figure didn’t move but somehow his eyes seemed to pierce the remaining darkness within the hanger.  And when he finally spoke, his voice although quiet belied its calmness.

“I am Valens.”  The air felt electrified.

Anson inhaled, now fully recognizing the opponent that he’d fought while Flow-Walking.  But before he could speak, Valens continued.

“You have maltreated a woman of the People.  For this egregious sin, you will be punished.”  There was suddenly an enormous sword in his hand.  “And I will be the one to pass judgment.”

“I do not recognize your author—” Anson began before being completely overridden, his voice a small thing compared to Valens’.

“You.  Are.  Guilty.  And I am your executioner.”  And with that, Valens launched at Anson.

Only a half-second behind Valens, Anson attacked as well.

They both met in the center of the hanger, a peal of thunder reverberating through and throughout the air, the building, and even the planet itself as blackstone blade struck green lightsaber.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 08, 2019, 01:37:00 PM
And the main event begins...     Nicely written.  J'Nessah...  I almost feel sorry for her.  Almost.

And if she's headed toward Anson...

And Saani and Ari are headed toward J'Nessah....

Folks, I think we have a meeting engagement happening here.  Better head for the high ground...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 08, 2019, 02:09:10 PM
And the main event begins...     Nicely written.  J'Nessah...  I almost feel sorry for her.  Almost.

And if she's headed toward Anson...

And Saani and Ari are headed toward J'Nessah....

Folks, I think we have a meeting engagement happening here.  Better head for the high ground...
Yeah, another instance of an unexpected result occurring  ;)



Hey!

"SaberForum Moderator!"

Alright Karm, congratulations my friend!  That's awesome  :D


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 08, 2019, 02:24:47 PM
LOL   Thanks.   :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 08, 2019, 02:53:06 PM
Valens vs. Anson.

One is a warrior trained in the ways of the Guardians and the Jedi, and the other is a Powerful Force User trained in the way of the Jedi and the Vhal'Dan. Who will win this gladiator match?


I'm betting Dutchman knows. ;)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 09, 2019, 12:37:01 AM
One of the Aethans greatest strengths is their culture - it is so different from the republic that they are virtually immune to any kind of manipulation - Kazic and Anson both think in the same terms about power and control, victory even accounting for their differences - Valens does not and J'nessah did not realise that. But this is the great part of this chapter - that same culture is also a massive weakness - Valens has no interest in J'nessahs offer but is obsessed with punishing Anson - had J'nessah understood that she would have had a chance at least. And then there is the third part the complete loyalty of Ari to Saani and even Valens to his trainee - Well done Dutch a great exposition of the best and worst of them in one chapter. And I loved the description of J'nessah smiling as she's preparing a suicide bomb like it's all her master plan!

As for Anson...well he can beat a petulant young Aethan...but Valens is a very different kind of opponent...whose already killed one Gray Kage and a Jedi Grand Master, a Yuuzhan Vong Perfect, (redacted) and countless Jedi and Darksiders...Anson has his blood up/in the zone and is the strongest the Vhal'dan have to offer...and with everyone else on their way there....This is gonna be epic!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 11, 2019, 07:57:03 AM
Epic indeed.   Its turning into a classic meeting engagement, and all of the principles are on their way.  I suspect there won't be much left when its all done.  Kazic may be party to the ultimate phyrric victory...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 12, 2019, 09:34:27 PM
(https://i.ibb.co/Byx9yfk/quinlan-vos-principal.png) (https://ibb.co/Byx9yfk)
Chapter 26: When Worlds Collide, part I

As J’Nessah left the half-filled room, those seats that were occupied represented the Collegium-in-exile—at least those that were not specifically attending Anson at present—she allowed herself a small smile.  …That went better than expected… She thought.  But given what they’d been through these past weeks, it was to be expected.

Thanks to her, the Collegium would call a cessation of hostilities with Kazic’s forces to buy time, ultimately calling for a vote of “No Confidence” in Anson.  Once they’d done so, J’Nessah would put forth Pytir as the only logical delegate for Kage.  From there, it would be child’s play to control him whilst making good her side-deal with Valens: she would grant him and his people access to the Lus’phor kyber manufactory and they would serve as her elite enforcers and body guard.  She grinned at that memory; Valens had been so transparent in his covetous for the kyber.  And now that she had leverage over him, she could proceed with the rest of her plans.

She had known that Anson had been the right choice.  But that was then.  Now, Pytir would make the perfect Kage and she—of course—the perfect Arbiter.  She’d always maintained that it was better to be the power behind the power.  J’Nessah grinned sardonically.

The office of Kage presented too large and easy a target while having too many attendant strictures.  Meanwhile, the Arbiter could work behind the scenes, avoiding scrutiny.  Just like Arbiter Sulen Reu Lai.  Oh, most of the Vhal’Dan knew of Black Rikard and his exploits as the first Vhal’Dan Kage…but J’Nessah had always favored those stories about Sulen.

Lost in thought as she was, J’Nessah spoke soft words to her remaining Untarnished guard before boarding her speederskiff.  Without consciously knowing what her hands were doing, dreams concerning the inauguration of a Vhal’Dan “golden age” kept her mind occupied.  Her fingers plotted the coordinates of the Lus’phor Spaceport.

And, once finished, picked up the improvised detonator she’d fabricated and nonchalantly placed in her belt pouch, all the while a whispered mantra repeating in the back of her unconscious mind…

<You will obtain whatever discrete explosives your pretty form can carry, secrete them on your person and detonate them as close to your Kage Anson D’Aklon as physically possible>

               <<<<< >>>>>

Parrying the enormous blackstone blade, Anson locked up with his green lightsaber for a breath.  He was burning through his Force reserves too quickly; this was nothing like his battle with the black armored youth.  Worse: Valens was an experienced combatant.  No, not “experienced.”

Superior.

From the first pass, it was evident to both combatants that their opponent was a warrior to be reckoned with.  Since Kazic had called upon them, the Aethans had hoped for such contest and while there had been several instances where the Vhal’Dan had surprised them, none had been able to do so on equal footing.  That was no longer the case: Anson was one of the rare Force-users who was able to keep pace.  

Granted, Valens had been involved with the fighting for the past week with little rest but both men had been able to size up each other in short order; the very air was charged with the energies that they brought to bear.  It had been years since Valens had fought someone with such expertise.  

But Anson knew that he’d never fought so deadly an enemy as the armored behemoth across from him.

The hanger had quickly filled, all of the onlookers astonished at the display of power, skill, and perspicacity.  They had been warned by their Kage not to interfere…at least not yet.  Stroke and counterstroke—both by melee weapon as well as metaphysical—the members of Anson’s Collegium (and their adjutants) stared raptly at the two armored men before them.  And they knew that there were perhaps a handful of beings alive that could perform such feats, martial and Force-based.  This was a meeting of titans, the hanger a genius loci of talents, a physical vergence of the Force.

But if the gathered crowd didn’t recognize his disadvantage, Anson did.  In a contest of brute strength, even he would lose against Valens, which in and of itself was disconcerting.  He was used to being if not the most powerful, then amongst the uppermost echelon of any Force-users.

Until now.

Dispersing the Force Illusion that Valens had projected, Anson knew that he needed a counter to even the odds.  His armor was testament to that: Valens had scored a half-dozen hits, deep cuts, notches, and dents in the places where the tremor sword had gotten past Anson’s defenses.  He’d also received a deep cut on the crown of his head, his brown hair matted in blood.

Wrapping himself in the Force, he drew upon the teachings of his own Master Varel’Zo.  The Aang-Tii had told Anson that he was his most prized student.  Not only had he taught him Flow-Walking but also the more exacting Fighting-sight.  It was a skill that was extremely rare, bordering on unique.  Even among the Aang-Tii monks who specialized in time/space manipulation, it was not unheard of for generations to pass without an adept who had the requisite skill in Fighting-sight.

Anson was a master.

Before, he was constantly losing ground to Valens, his seemingly limitless power matched by his battle prowess.  But with the Force flowing through him, his Fighting-sight aiding him, Anson was finally able to neutralize those advantages.

But if Anson had used his singular talents in his strategy, so too did Valens.  Even without the aid of the aether, he was still four times stronger than the Vhal’Dan Kage.  In order to compensate, Valens knew that Anson would need to utilize the Force just to remain on equal footing.  And if Anson’s Fighting-sight had mitigated many of Valens’ advantages, he still had to deal with Valens’ incredible repertoire of Force Powers.

Back and forth they went, black Oblivion armor and Vhal’Dan gray both reflecting the lights of the hanger, Anson’s green lightsaber, and the various Force energies each man employed.

A dozen Force-Pushes created multiple barrages followed by a strong Force Whirlwind threatening to scatter Anson’s armor and shred tissue from bone while hundreds of micro-tremors impeded Anson’s equilibrium.  And those were merely feints.  Powerful Force scalpels intent on Severing Anson from his connection to the Force required an entire stream of consciousness just to blunt and protect against.  Blue aetheric flames threatened to immolate Anson a moment before he was able to unravel the firestorm.  Kinetite with a power magnitudes more potent than normal exploded virtually point-blank just before Anson was able to erect a Barrier.  Occasionally Anson would counter with his own Force attacks…

But still the metaphysical assault persisted.

Circling each other, both men were breathing heavily.  In their haste and disregard for their surroundings, they had laid waste to the hanger, damaging—and in certain cases outright destroying—several ships docked within.  The crowds were still watching but most were now doing so from a distance.  While a few had been injured there were, miraculously, no deaths.

And then Valens made a mistake, not that any tactician could fault him.  In his attempt to gain advantage, he was drawing from a wide array of Powers.  He just chose now to focus upon Spatial Powers within the aether.

With Anson attuned to his own Fighting-sight, it was akin to turning on a light within a darkened room.  With his staggering aetheric strength, Valens could teleport much more mass further distances than even the most powerful Jedi.  And using what Jedi would call Force Traveling, Valens began to teleport several times in quick succession a few meters each time.  Against any other opponent, it would’ve spelled certain death for them.

To a Gray Jedi Master utilizing Fighting-sight, it was a bright, conspicuous beacon.  Anson smiled inwardly and prepared accordingly.  A microsecond before Valens appeared on Anson’s left flank, his blackstone tremor sword already in a tight orbit intent on decapitating, Anson subtly sidestepped, dipping his head to the opposite side while bringing his lightsaber under Valens’ guard.  And while Valens was able to self-correct within the blink of an eye, it was too late.

There was a collective gasp as Anson’s lightsaber smashed into the armored chestplate of Valens’ Oblivion armor.  Weakened earlier from when J’Nessah’s own lightsaber had stabbed into it, the sustained contact of the two plasma blades had created a chink…one that Anson’s Fighting-sight had anticipated.

Converging with his lightsaber, Anson’s other hand projected a potent storm of Electric Judgement, the green light of the lightning combining with the green of his plasma blade as it stabbed at the small fissure within the armor .  Additionally, Anson propelled a brutal, razor-focused Force-Repulse to create a hybrid Lightning/Darkshear-saber.  For as durable as the Oblivion armor was, Anson’s assault finally cracked the plate, rendering it useless.  And while the rest of the armor was still viable, the loss of the chestplate created an exposed flaw.

One that Anson knew how to exploit.

Smiling, he pressed his attack, Valens’ face somber.  Anson knew that Valens was too deadly an enemy to drop his guard even now, was just too damned dangerous.  Besides, that last trick had cost him dearly: even with the Force, he felt exhausted from the energies necessary to do what he’d done… He had to end this and quickl—

Wrapped in the Force as he was, the sudden absence of it was like a physical blow, staggering Anson.  One moment he was deeply entranced within his Fighting-sight, the Force supplementing his bones, tendons, and muscles to compensate for Valens’ physiology.  And then: completely gone.  He couldn’t even feel the people who had gathered nearer around them.  

And with lightning clarity, he knew that he was in grave trouble.

The null field that Valens had created wasn’t particularly large, extending from him in a 10 meter radius.  But for Anson, the Force may have been on the far-side of the galaxy.

“Help me!” Anson called out to the dozen or so Vhal’Dan that were nearest.  Seeing the change in their Kage, not one of them hesitated, igniting their lightsabers and advancing upon the two armored men.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Valens knew that his Mark-II Armor would still protect his limbs and head but the loss of his chestplate put him at a fundamental disadvantage, especially to a powerful Force-user like Anson.  But if his experiences as a Guardian had taught him anything, it was to always have a contingency.

Briefly concentrating, he projected the null-field outward, as far as he could manage without it becoming tenuous.  He might not have the aether at his disposal but neither did Anson.  And he was much more reliant upon it than Valens.

As he went to advance, he saw Anson call out for help.  

Immediately, a dozen of the closest Gray Jedi moved to protect their Kage and converge upon Valens.  As they entered the null-field, they paused as the Force left them...but only briefly.  Even as they slowly advanced forward, more Vhal’Dan had come up from behind them.

Valens remained completely stoic.

Even with his superior physiology, he could not fight so many…and live.  Determined, he gripped his tremor sword and readied his assault.  Thoughts of Jarys, Mili, Sofa, and Celina ran through his mind.  And of Ari…and that he would redress the grievances against her.  

And those responsible.  He stared at Anson, knowing that he, at least, would be among those that Valens killed that day.

Just as Valens advanced to attack, chaos erupted throughout the hanger.

               <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 12, 2019, 09:39:55 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/cWSci7/Aayla-Kaarko-SWREP34.png) (https://ibb.co/cWSci7)
Chapter 26: When Worlds Collide, part II

As the first ring of Vhal’Dan surrounded Valens and Anson, those behind them closed the distance to stand right behind them…and they attacked, killing them all.

Saani’s Shadows had been able to quietly infiltrate the crowd whose collective attention was on Anson and Valens.  Saani herself was flanked by Ari and Jorol as they carved a path through the crowd, dropping their subtle Force Illusions in the process.  It was the perfect surprise attack.

Saani had contacted Master Gray Jorol Qui-Xot to have him gather a contingent of Shadows and rendezvous with her and Ari at the far end of the Lus’phor Spaceport.  She’d wanted to catch J’Nessah unawares on a ground of her choosing and according to Ari the dark Speaker was on her way there.

What she hadn’t expected to find was Anson and Valens locked in a gladiatorial-style arena combat.  But with everyone’s attention firmly fixed, it was the perfect opportunity to silently infiltrate…and when ready, attack.

A specialty of the Shadows.

Saani saw that her Shadows—and Ari—were quickly mitigating the numerical superiority of Anson’s Jedi, although even now they were recovering.  And as she engaged yet another enemy Jedi, out of the corner of her eye she saw Anson facing Valens.

Alone.

               <<<<< >>>>>

As quickly as he was convinced of his victory over Valens, Anson’s spirit sank, his despair over seeing his Jedi overwhelmed by Saani’s sneak-attack.  But he would not capitulate.  He would meet his opponent in combat…and fight honorably.  He was still a blademaster.  He advanced on Valens, his lightsaber held in a high guard.

The two met, blades crashing.  And swordsman to swordsman, Anson was more than able to hold his own.  However, in a contest where brute strength was the deciding factor such as this, power was the capital that mattered most.

Numbness radiated up Anson’s arms from his hands.  Every strike he parried threatened to knock his saber from his quickly deadened fingers.  But that wasn’t the worst.

When Valens swung his blade in a high bladelock with Anson’s saber, he swiftly punched with his other hand a devastating blow that not even Anson’s armor could fully absorb.  This was quickly followed by a fast kick that caught Anson on the hip.  Pain erupted; he knew the leg had dislocated.  But Valens wasn’t finished.

Without the Force to shunt the pain, Anson’s reflexes slowed considerably.  Valens grabbed Anson’s hands in a crushing grip, holding his arms aloft.  After a succession of powerful punches loosened the armor plating lining his serratus, Valens kicked up with a shocking, rib-shattering knee strike.

A stunned Anson fought to regain breath and—unable to raise his arm properly—his next parry was only partially effective: while his lightsaber turned the blade edge, Valens instead used the weight of the tremor sword to clout the Vhal’Dan Kage square in the face.

Spitting out pieces of broken teeth, Anson desperately fought to maintain consciousness.  But the injuries that he’d sustained were taking their toll.  Another punch from Valens collapsed Anson’s lung, an elbow to his chin exposed bone, and a savage cut of Valens tremor sword turned by Anson’s lightsaber at the last second severed Anson’s cuisses and cut deeply into his thigh.  Finally, Valens head-butted Anson, breaking his nose while rendering the Vhal’Dan Kage unconscious.

Dropping unceremoniously to the floor, Anson lay insensate in a heap.  But Valens still cautiously held the null-field in place.  Standing above Anson’s prone body, Valens raised his sword.  But before he could complete the movement a familiar voice, half-commanding, half-pleading boomed.

“WAIT!”  

               <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic ran up to Valens, his hands held out as if to ward off the tremor sword strike.  He insinuated himself protectively between the Aethan and Anson, concern painted across his gray face.

Ryshhk had landed his ship near Ari’s but had stayed behind to help Corvus.  Meanwhile, Kazic had had to run to the hanger just to make it in time.  But he was still late for the surprise attack.

The hanger around them was a cacophony of chaos: Saani’s Shadows fought Anson’s Jedi although Saani and Ari themselves were nowhere to be seen.  Fires had erupted all across the area, smoke obfuscating the hanger.  And in an island by themselves stood Valens and Kazic.

“Valens…I…I was mistaken.  This…this is not…” Desperately, the Anzat fought to articulate himself.  And as he opened his mouth to say more, his attention shifted peripherally, a seemingly innocuous sight confusing him.

There emerging from the smoke about six meters from Kazic was J’Nessah.  Her eyes were glazed over, her body moving as if in a trance approaching him.  

And within her hands she held a small thermal detonator.

Time seemed to slow down.  Kazic’s red eyes widened, Valens’ head swiveled on his neck to see what was to the side of him, while J’Nessah took another step forward.  This close, Kazic could see now that the dark Speaker wasn’t looking at him or even Valens.

Her attention was completely focused upon Anson.  She took another step.  She was only a few meters from Kazic now.

Her intention was clear.  But with them all being within the null-field, none of them could do anything in time…

Movement, quicker than the eye could track, burst from the corner of Kazic’s gaze.  Emerging from the smoke, a blue blur flew past, violently colliding with J’Nessah, knocking her not only from her feet, but clear across the floor and behind one of the high-profile maintenance vehicles that serviced ships in the hanger.  Kazic’s mind finally registered the blur.

…Saani…!

But he was still too far within the null-field to do anything.  He deduced it must be something that Valens was generating, as impossible as it seemed… Opening his mouth to tell Valens to drop the field, the words never left his lips.

An explosion knocked down everyone in the area, momentarily putting a stop to everything within the hanger, even those not directly affected by the blast.  But for Kazic, his concerns were for one person and one person only.

SAANI!” His hoarse voice tore through his throat as he rose upon unsteady legs.  Running over to where he saw the entwined bodies of his wife and J’Nessah disappear, he rounded the service vehicle.

Saani had grabbed J’Nessah from behind her back, inadvertently keeping the dark Speaker’s body between her and the detonator.  As such, the worst of the blast had been absorbed by J’Nessah.  Her body was shredded, her skeleton liquified, and her face all but unrecognizable.

Uncaring of J’Nessah, Kazic picked up the body and threw it aside like the dross it was.  Saani lay on her back, blood flowing from her nose and mouth, her eyes open.

Open…and lifeless.

Gently, Kazic hugged Saani’s body to him, rocking back and forth as he quietly repeated “Kanp’a” over and over again, tears running down his cheeks, his flared nose, and into his black goatee.

And indifferent to everything around him, Kazic screamed, hauntingly, achingly, and devoid of all hope.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 13, 2019, 07:47:52 AM
Anson…wow what a fight he put up…everything he had hurled into a battle I doubt any of the Vhal’Dan present (if they surivive) will forget

If he made one mistake it was not asking for help from his attendants sooner - in the end without the Force Anson was only human…Valens a genetically engineered killing machine….I think Anson has just fought his life's greatest battle, and ended up a bloody mess for it – I doubt the achievement of beating one Aethan and then pushing Valens as hard as Odjina did to the point Valens playing the ultimate trump card of No-Force-All-Super-human-Physiology is going to feel like much consolation - if he even gets a chance to recover….

I literally LOL’d at J’nessah’s crazy ideas –Valens covetous for the Kyber…the irony of her thinking she’s manipulating him after everything she did to the Wookies and the Vhal’dan is hilarious, she’s getting totally into her new schemes with so much gusto!! From the readers POV she has gone from dark manipulator to frightfully laughable parody, which is a perfect comeuppance.

But in the end it was all about Saani…what was Kazic about to do with Anson...I doubt we'll ever know now his Kanp'a has been mortally(?) wounded....

An exceptional clash Dutch, great way to bring so many pieces together in a blazing conflagration, and one that has yet to even conclude!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 15, 2019, 10:39:18 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/idOONH/Zannah-Do-Ecropped.jpg) (https://ibb.co/idOONH)(https://thumb.ibb.co/c87Pwc/1632208-akku.jpg) (https://ibb.co/c87Pwc)
A Brief Intermezzo, Part III

Tears, heavy and wet, ran rivulets from the withered Anzat’s face, dropping from his white beard and mustaches to pool within D’Aylanna’s hand as she sat grasping Kazic’s.

…Even after all this time…by the Maker it still hurts…

“…Father…” She said gently.

Even as rheumy and bloodshot as they were, Kazic’s red eyes suddenly became razor-sharp, intent and piercing.  “…Nur’us…how long has it been since you’ve called me…” But a sudden coughing fit interrupted him.  D’Aylanna laid a gentle hand upon him, Healing flows helping to strengthen his wasted body, the look on her face as soothing as her touch.

“Father, please continue.” For as diminutive as D’Aylanna was, she appeared to loom above Kazic…but protectively, tenderly.  After a shuddering breath, Kazic seemed to grow stronger.

“Saani…my Kanp’a…died saving me.  Outside of the null-field, she was able to utilize her Force-speed…” Kazic’s lips quivered, his face pained from remembering.  “…I was…hurting…distraught…hopeless.  I would’ve given anything to have her back.  I’d never once considered…”  He closed his eyes, his voice falling just above a whisper.  “…Who knew that it could get so much worse…?”  Kazic opened his eyes, staring at something as if at a great distance…and at nothing at all.

“Father, what do you mean?” D’Aylanna’s normally imperturbable manner gave way to her confusion. 

Kazic’s eyes once again became shrewd, penetrating.  “My old teacher Master Stryka Annix once told me an old Shifalan saying that, roughly translated, stated: ‘Be careful of what you wish for, you may just get it.’”  He suddenly barked a laugh, the harsh sound surprising D’Aylanna.  “Well, Nur’us, my old Master knew exactly what she was talking about.” He said softly, bitterly.

D’Aylanna’s brow furrowed in concern, one delicate hand inadvertently running through her dark, midnight blue hair.  Her other hand continued to delicately stroke the thinning white hair on Kazic’s head.  “…What do you mean, Father?  Father!  Kazic!!”  She shouted his name when he did not first respond.

Blinking his eyes, Kazic once again focused on D’Aylanna.  “Sorry, Nur’us.  I…I just wonder how things would have been different if Stryka had been Kage during the Civil War instead of me…”

D’Aylanna gently shook her head.  “No, Father, not that.  What is it that you’d wished for but came to lament?”  Slowly she caressed Kazic’s hair, long and unkempt as it was.

New tears threatened to spill from the corners of his eyes.  Kazic inhaled deeply and released a shuddering breath, one that had nothing to do with his failing health.  His quiet sobs were the only sounds within the convalescence suite, his weeping punctuated with one softly repeated word: “Kanp’a.”  After a moment, he quieted, seeming to fall asleep.

D’Aylanna kept stroking his head lost in thought.  Of everything that Kazic had told her tonight…

But when next he spoke, her startlement wasn’t only because she’d thought him asleep but rather because of the conviction in his tone.

“What do I regret?”  His voice was acerbic, sardonic.  He turned his gaze to hers, his lips smirking derisively.  Another coughing fit threatened to double him over until he finally quieted.  But when he spoke, his voice was as strong as ever.

“I got exactly what I wished for.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 15, 2019, 04:53:39 AM
Well crafted, my friend!  After the climactic battle between Anson and Valens, after the defeat of his Jedi by Saani's shadows.  After Saani's death and Kazic's cry...   Something worse is about to happen.   

I can make a guess what Kazic might have wished for.   But whatever it was, it didn't turn out as he expected...



Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 15, 2019, 01:00:13 PM
A classic theme - the wish fulfilled that  only makes things worse...but what wish in particular it seems obvious...but then he already seems to have had one fulfilled...he asked for Ari's people's help to turn the tide...Anson broken under Valens fists is surely fulfillment...but the price....hmm reminds me of these lyrics...

Don't push too far your dreams are china in your hand
Don't wish too hard, because they may come true
And you can't help them
You don't know what you might have set upon yourself
China in your hand...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 16, 2019, 03:19:08 PM
That was a powerful and well placed intermezzo. I'm interested to see how this story resolves, and what is left unresolved. Very good writing Dutchman as always.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 19, 2019, 09:13:28 AM
Special thanks to LSG for his contribution  :)
************************************
(https://thumb.ibb.co/du79n7/tumblr-inline-p4mnt9-Jb-Vn1u20qsz-540.png) (https://ibb.co/du79n7)
Chapter 27: Caveat Emptor, part I

Kazic sat on the floor, his wife’s body prostrate between his splayed legs, tears wet upon his cheeks, beard, and upon Saani’s face where they pooled in her sunken, lifeless eyes.  He was aware of nothing, cared for nothing around him as the people in the hanger recovered, themselves unsure of what had transpired.  Had Kazic not been oblivious, he might have saved himself—and the Vhal’Dan—future miseries and sufferings…but he sat uncaring of his surroundings.  Only Saani mattered…

Again, he hugged her dead body to him, crying anew.

“Kazic…” A quiet voice whispered from behind him in his ear.  He didn’t so much as bat an eyelash.  Then, more forcefully, “Kazic.”

Valens.  Something within his tone cut through the Anzat’s anguish.  Turning his head to face Valens, Kazic just stared, saying nothing.  “We can bring Saani back if we act quickly…death is not an absolute.  After all many homeostatic processes go on for a while…on a world strong in the aether like Galtea…”

The words hit him like a full-grown reek.  …Bring Saani back…?  Even as he dared to hope, he thought upon what else Valens had said: “…many homeostatic processes go on for a while.”  As if to reinforce this, Kazic’s eyes slipped into his infravision.  Looking down at Saani’s body, he could see the heat register of her skin.  …Death is not an absolute… Kazic glared into Valens’ eyes, hope and incredulity warring across his face.

“Do it.”  

               <<<<< >>>>>

Valens gave an almost imperceptible nod.  But he was not yet finished…

“Know this: there is a cost.”  He reached behind his armor, producing a small Oblivion Orb, not unlike the communication orbs that hung from Kazic’s and Aresaea’s necks.  They were alike in regard to their size, symmetry, shape, and—of course—color.

But that was where the similarities ended.

Valens held the orb up to Kazic.  Not taking it, Kazic scrutinized the device.  “What is that?”

Valens patiently explained, “It is a recording apparatus.  It is the price of Saani’s lif—”

Kazic grabbed the deceptively heavy orb immediately.  “I’ll pay it.  What do I need to do?”

Valens’ voice seemed subdued as he explained.  “As with the communications orbs, open yourself to the…Force.  The orb will do the rest.”

Kazic’s eyes stared intently at Valens before locking onto the black orb in his hands.  For a moment, nothing seemed to happen.  “I don’t think that this is wor—”

Kazic violently and involuntarily inhaled as he felt the rush of memories come crashing forward from the depths of his mind.  It felt as if the orb was…feeding on them, consuming every iota of every picosecond of every part of his life.  Never had Kazic experienced something so…overwhelming, so thorough.  

So invasive.

Time was meaningless.  Had it been a microsecond?  A day?  An eon?  And when the sum total of Kazic’s life had finally been chronicled, he collapsed insensate.

Valens stood motionless for a moment before leaning down to retrieve the orb.  Glancing around, he saw that several of Saani’s Jedi Shadows had gathered, ignited lightsabers in their hands still.

And there in front of them stood Ari.  On her face was a horrified look of disbelief.  Valens paused.  Was that…was she…crying?  “Aresaea.”  Her eyes turned towards him but otherwise she remained motionless.  He should’ve known; after all, the young woman had been effectively raised by Saani.

<Aresaea.>  That did the trick.  <You can bring her back.  But we must be quick about it, especially with so much damage having been done by the bomb.>  Valens was not without sympathy.  He even respected Saani.  For an Outsider.  But that was not why he asked Ari to perform the task.

After a week of fighting without substantial rest, his battle with Anson had depleted his aetheric stores.  To underscore that fact, his body was almost completely numb, their physiology’s equivalent of metabolic acidosis.  Valens went over to where Kazic and Saani lay and knelt by them, motioning Ari to do the same.

<Valens…I’m afraid.  I don’t want to lose Mother Saani…but I’ve never done this kind of Healing.>  Ari bit her lip in apprehension.

<I will direct you.>  But what Valens didn’t say that the Shatterpoint Healing was equal parts power and artistry.  But Jarys and Kiraea were both too far away and Maekel…

Valens glanced in the direction of the young man even though he could not see him.  He was too inexperienced, too blunt a tool, too arrogant.  Although Valens had to admit that Anson had given Maekel a lesson that hopefully he would not soon forget.  Nevertheless, Aresaea was the only one who could perform the procedure right now.

And Kazic had already paid.

With the aether pouring from her, Ari began smoothing the fractures of the Shatterpoint surrounding Saani, following Valens’ directions as attentively as she could.  Each fissure that she corrected seemed to reveal two more.  And another two.  And those even more…

While Valens guided Ari, he directed one full consciousness through the aether, “talking” to Jarys and Kiraea, giving them further instructions now that they were themselves on Lus’phor.

And still: Ari kept working…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Several kilometers away, Anson’s Collegium of Gray Masters-in-exile finally congregated with a majority of its members, many having recently escaped the Spaceport Hanger battle, each and every one of them with an opinion.

“I’m telling you, this latest debacle epitomizes Anson’s growing failure!  As my wife stated: the Vhal’Dan need new leadership.  And I, Pytir Danisen, am the Kage to do it!”  The Mon Cal’s self-aggrandizement caused many of the gathered masters and maenowans to groan…but fewer than before they’d seen Anson defeated.

“No, that is beside the issue: we must declare a ceasefire, come to a mutual agreement…” Said another one of Anson’s new Speakers, Master Marc-Andr Drevifv.  “…Or am I the only one who seems to recall what Kazic’s ‘shadows’ did to our forces?”  Several voices joined the dusky-faced human in assent.  

“Masters, maenowans, we must not give in to panic!  And Anson is still our Kage!”  A short, female Nautolan, Master Raru Vinjaga exclaimed.  She turned on Pytir and Marc-Andr savagely.  “Anson soundly defeated one of those so-called ‘shadows’ and almost another one!  They CAN be beaten!”  She too was met by cheers and approval.

“But at what cost?!  It would be a pyrrhic victory at best…” Someone shouted.

“Are you such a coward to give up so easily?” Someone retorted.

“I don’t see you standing forth to fight them.  Say what you will about Anson but he at least led by example…”

And so it continued with still others remaining silent, indecisive, or otherwise on the proverbial fence.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 19, 2019, 09:20:40 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/hns0yo/02DzeiK.jpg) (https://ibb.co/hns0yo)
Chapter 27: Caveat Emptor, part II

Suddenly the ornately decorated doors that belied their military durasteel interior burst in and a Vhal’Dan Sentinel entered in glimmering plate, recognized as one of J’Nessah’s guards.  “Masters an urgent message.” The Sentinel reached round to produce what all expected was a mini Holo-projector...

“What in the….”

He held a fist sized black ball of some kind using both hands to keep it aloft…almost as if it weighed too much even for the Sentinel to carry.

“That is…”

Concern turned to outright shock as an image of one of the Oblivion monsters appeared in the middle of the Chamber: it was not a holo-projection, rather some kind of Force Illusion.

They were already in ready stances, minds bolstered to defend against any possible telepathic assault, hands grasping hilts of sabres and blasters.

The figure strangely held a vicious looking black bow in one hand, no doubt many people still enjoyed archery as a sport but such weapons were long since abandoned for practical uses.

Valens’ voice came from the projection.  “Masters of the Vhal’Dan, I represent Kage Kazic Ovarug and serve at his pleasure as plenipotentiary in this negotiation.”  It was, Valens noted not quite true: Kazic had no idea he was even doing this; his filling of the memory orb left him rather out of it giving Valens the opportunity to extend his command from de facto to direct and settle almost everything before they departed.

Ultimately even with the Peoples’ help Kazic could never really succeed in the long term with the forces he had; even if he had won his force would be so depleted it would fragment and he would be unable to impose control over the populace that remained.  Only by accumulating defectors from Anson’s forces could he win and retain a passable military force afterwards.

All Valens’ strategy had been directed toward shattering Anson’s armies confidence with rapid devastating attacks, spreading utter terror whilst simultaneously hollowing out their command structure by assassinating their colonels and the most capable commanders, leaving those he saw before him.  And while undoubtedly able they were nonetheless second tier commanders who had no confidence that they could do better with less resources against the incompressible threats Kazic now posed than their former superiors had. 

J’Nessah openly courting defection had simply been a helpful acceleration to his existing plans.

“What is it you want?” Master Marc-Andr Drevifv stated neutrally.

“Any negotiation would have to go through the Kage!” Messer Subiah Fuqua overrode Drevifv, moving to stand just behind and to the right of Pytir.  “And he would not treat with a psychopath like you and your Anzat Master!”

Valens ignored the raving fool’s words….but noted very carefully he was the one who had upset Aresaea years before by dismissing and ridiculing her translations of Massassi artifacts.

“Kage Ovarug wishes to bring this war to a close, you have already seen your fortunes reverse substantially, you have witnessed your advantage reduced by the hour.  The price of continued conflict grows beyond your ability to pay, and I assure you if you do not immediately denounce Anson and stand down those forces you command within 48 hours it will only grow worse.”

He surveyed the faces, noting based on their varied alien expressions a third had hardened in their opposition to Kazic, but those that remained were split: another third was more than happy to end the war at any price, and the remaining third needed only the smallest push to join them.

“We will not give into your threats!” Fuqua raged once more pointing his finger straight at Valens.

“We do not fear your tricks and illusions, you are not invincible!  You are a handful of mad men against our thousands!” Pytir’s voice rang throughout the large room.

“I’m sure your intelligence networks have evidence to back the claim we are only handful and not the precursor to a larger army…” Valens noted dryly knowing full well they had no such evidence and many of Anson’s forces feared just that: that those they had seen were merely the first wave of a larger invasion force.

“Illusions and theatrics: that is all you have, we will never submit to your terrorism and have no interest in hearing your lies!” Pytir dug deeper, he was Valens knew actually correct.  They should ignore everything he said but he made his case in such an uncouth way so as to make it appear extreme.

Valens looked to the more reasonable Master Drevifv.  “Does this man speak for the Collegium?”

“He does not…” Drevifv replied.

Valens seemed to look past Pytir.  “Translate this Fuqua: ‘sis tuti tu'iyia niati shellitja, rajidona ao drarina.’”

Fuqua’s brow crossed with aged lines as he tried to comprehend what had been said.  High Sith…yet it made no sense to him: “‘My opportunity is final, sleeping or retreating?’”  Pytir turned his head towards Fuqua, a question upon his lips.

In the space of a breath the dark projection gripped an arrow from the quiver on his back, nocked and drew it aiming straight at Fuqua, before any of the Masters or maenowans could react—though given it was only a Force Illusion there seemed no need to—the arrow was loosed.

Shock exploded through the room in time with Pytir’s skull and brains as the black bolt shredded though his head.  As it passed through the Mon Cal’s temporal lobe, Fuqua had a split-second to move his own, causing the bolt to cut deeply into his temple and break his skull before boring into the far wall and vanishing inexplicably.

A dozen sabres lit the chamber brightly as Pytir’s and Fuqua’s bodies dropped into a growing, dark pool of blood.

The black armored figure might be an illusion but somehow that arrow had been very, very real. 

Only four of the Masters (and three maenowans) present had any experience with Force Teleportation, which they instantly now recognized from the thin eddies in the Force following the arrow’s appearance and disappearance.  But none of them could comprehend—let alone match—the level of expertise and precision needed to teleport such a large and presumably heavy Oblivion object moving at such a high speed…and with such synchronicity to the dark figure’s movements...

“The correct translation honored Masters and Maenowans…” Valens’ voice said quietly as the arrow returned to the quiver and the figure notched another but kept his bow aimed to the floor.  “…was ‘This is your last chance: surrender or die’…I strongly suggest you study Fuqua’s example…but not his High Sith Translation guide…”

An instant later the figure was gone, his voice replaced by the hum of a dozen blades and the noxious scent of someone who had soiled themselves mingling with the copper of Pytir’s and Fuqua’s blood.

The Sentinel holding the Orb suddenly dropped it as it began to glow red then orange.  Hitting the floor it ate away deeply into the foundation as it melted the granite…along with orb itself, thus contaminating the ultradense material and making it useless to study.

Suddenly the Sentinel ripped his helm off revealing a tattooed face only three of those congregated recognized as belonging to the Untarnished slaves of Rorak IV.  “Vhal’Dan see what your Kage is doing!  In desperation he has bought thousands of my brethren to fight for him!  Noble Ovarug has sought to help us break free so I deliver this message on his behalf!”

That he was the only Untarnished on the planet was a truth known only to J’Nessah and Valens; however the fact he was so deep in a secure facility and in Vhal’Dan armor added to unconscious connections that Anson might truly have purchased slave soldiers in desperation…

A niggling doubt just as Valens had desired to add to all the other that Anson’s forces had been wrestling with.

“Anson would never…surely…” Master Raru Vinjaga said glancing every few seconds at Fuqua as if it might spontaneously leap back up to argue the translation.

“Five years ago could you imagine Anson and Kazic at each other’s throats…?” Master Drevifv noted bitterly.  But his voice was drowned out by the ensuing panic of the mob.

“And how else did this Untarnished get here!”

“It is a conspiracy, lies from Kazic to divide us, the man might not even be Untarnished, anyone can get tattoos!”

“Who cares? Did you just see that! Did you SEE what it just did to Pytir and Fuqua, it could’ve killed us all just as easily!  What sane person would refuse an offer to surrender!”

“What kind of coward gives into such threats!”

The bickering continued as Pytir’s body occasionally jolted with death spasms, some hardened in support for Anson and derided “Ovarug’s underhanded tactics.”

Most simply did not wish to live with the newly realized fear of an Oblivion Armored being appearing at any instant and firing an arrow into their face without warning.

And as the arguing continued, no one noticed that the two bodies in the lake of blood had been reduced by one…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Jarys placed the Oblivion arrow back in its quiver as he began to head towards the exit wrapped in Aetheric Concealment.  Acting as Valens’ proxy, it was a simple deception intended to incense and cower the masters and maenowans deep within the facility. 

<Valens I’m going to link up with Kiraea in the east crystal manufactory for the next phase.> He said, already en route.  Jarys attributed the fact that he didn’t get an immediate response to Valens being busy with Ari.

It wasn’t until after he’d gathered among the other Aethans with Kiraea that he learned different.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“Kazic.”  He recognized the name; it sounded as if it were being spoken under water… That’s right; he was Kazic.  He slowly opened his eyes, the gathered smoke stinging.  His throat rasping, he choked on a coughing fit.

“Here, drink this.”  Again, that voice.  Feeling the lip of a canteen, he drank deeply from the water within.  He felt a hand upon his head, tender and gentle.  Now why would Valens do that…

It was then that he truly looked.  He saw Valens tending to someone who sat beside him—Ari, he could now see clearly—and Jorol was talking among the Jedi Shadows… Speaking of: he saw a shadow obfuscate the light of the hanger from the ceiling.  He looked upwards to see who stood above him.  And he dropped the canteen.

Saani…his beloved Kanp’a…stood there, smiling down lovingly at him.  Radiantly.  Gorgeously.  Alive.

Jumping up, Kazic wrapped his wife in his arms, raining kisses upon her head, face, and lekku.  At that moment, nothing else mattered.  His Kanp’a was alive.

Alive!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 19, 2019, 11:50:01 AM
Alive ... but at what cost?   Everything Kazic knew...

Wow. 

Excellent my friend!  The end is coming, it feels like everything is winding down, but...

Yeah.  But.

Staying tuned.  I wouldn't miss this finish for anything!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 19, 2019, 02:36:27 PM
Obviously I knew some of what was was gonna happen but - OOOH Pytir got his too - damn that was brutal, I can imagine even the most dedicated of the Masters wavering at that sudden smack down to their command - Anson and his obvious successors Pytir and J'nessah all dead or beaten down in a matter of hours. Kazic certainly got the victory he wanted. and now there is a 'Next Phase'...anyway loved the inclusion of Jarys here in a stealth role - really making the most of their small numbers and superior intellect.

Alive ... but at what cost?   Everything Kazic knew...

Indeed, a 300+ year old Anzat Gray Jedis knowledge now that a is a prize worth some risk. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 20, 2019, 10:36:23 AM
I love that you used a bow in this chapter. That is so like the Aethans, and yet we have not seen it until now. Plus, you know, archery!
Great chapter, but we still have yet to see the full price of what Kazic payed.

Something that you brought out really well was that when Valens gives his word, he keeps it. There was one single line in this chapter that showed this extremely well. "And Kazic had already paid". At that point, even though he was nearly spent, Valens would have at the very least attempted to heal Saani, even if there had been no other Aethan there to do the job.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 23, 2019, 10:39:04 PM
Special thanks to LSG for a terrific lead-in for this chapter  :)
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(https://thumb.ibb.co/m2YoxH/Githany-Thought-Bomb.jpg) (https://ibb.co/m2YoxH)
Chapter 28: Annihilation, part I

Kiraea’s Sister effortlessly lifted the stunned younger man on her shoulders red sparks of Healing rapidly flowing into him, her Aunt close behind deftly checking his Recording Orb to ensure it had taken in the whole of fight.  

“Thank you.” Maekel spoke small, not from a lack of gratitude—especially to a sacred female—but rather as a result of his wounded…shattered pride.  All three stared at the broken, unconscious body of Anson.

This was the first Outsider they had seen that could match them when prepared and armored, the Devastation itself that had left them…absent…for so long…being an accepted exception.  It was both a somber warning of their limits and provided yet another target for them to reach as they recovered and caught up with their fellow Guardians’ abilities and powers.

Kiraea’s Aunt spared Anson another glance, intrigued more than anything…Valens had been very clear no one else was to risk facing him; she now understood why.  Still she could not help but feel disappointed that she was not yet fully recovered enough to have been the one to censure him for his egregious offenses against young Aresaea.  Regardless, there were still many other Outsiders who had harmed the People…she would not have a long wait for wrong-doers to punish for long.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Kazic’s head swam.  He was uncertain if that was from having lost Saani and having her returned to him, filling the Memory Orb, or a combination of the two.  He couldn’t keep his eyes off of her, his Kanp’a.  

Not only that but between Valens, Jorol, and Saani’s Shadows, Anson’s forces had been dealt a debilitating defeat.  Kazic now controlled the largest of Lus’phor’s spaceports…and several of the planet’s kyber crystal manufactories.  Even the staunchest of Anson’s supporters would admit that they’d lost almost all initiative and considerable resources…

Yet, some still fought on.

Shaking his head to try to clear his lassitude, Kazic was having trouble focusing.  His eyes darted around the hanger, the various fires still burning, the gathering smoke slowly being filtered but not quickly enough.  Several of the ships would require maintenance but some were nothing more than wreckage…

Kazic inhaled, his senses suddenly hyper-alert.  How…how had he missed…?  Berating himself, Kazic’s confusion wasn’t so much cleared but rather…shunted back.  …By the Maker… He was a blind fool; he’d been so focused on Saani…and Valens…and everything else… A.  Blind.  Fool.

Larger, dynamic, and undulating more violently than he’d ever observed, Kazic now noticed that the daen nosi threatened to overwhelm his vision, his awareness…his entire being.

“We need to leave.  NOW!” Kazic’s deep voice was uncharacteristically shrill.  Every single pair of eyes had turned, locking onto him.  Faces ranged from incredulous to apprehensive, almost all of them contemplative.  Except two.

Saani and Valens.

“Jorol, evacuate the Shadows with your prisoners.  Take everyone.”  Saani’s voice cut through most of the vacillating minds of those hesitant and skeptical.

The Aethans’ actions did the rest.  Seemingly wordlessly, they moved as one.  Both Saani and Valens approached Kazic, unspoken questions apparent upon their faces.  However, neither of them asked anything.

K’ompo we need to get to Ryshhk’s ship.” Saani’s eyes had a dangerous glint about them, one that Kazic hadn’t seen before.  Had he?  His mind reeled, memories of the past that had once been buried and forgotten now engulfing his cognizant mind.  He stumbled, grabbing Saani’s shoulder as well as his head, his wife’s steadying hands upon him.

“Kazic.” Valens voice was controlled, stoic.  “I’ve recalled my People.  We should take Anson with us.”

Kazic nodded, agreeing even now knowing that he was without full access of his mental faculties.  He opened his mouth to give the order but stopped, poleaxed.

Anson was nowhere to be seen.

               <<<<< >>>>>

The Gray masters and maenowans, knights and teidowans of the Collegium were finally able to agree on one indisputable fact: they had to do something about the war.  But as far as the Collegium being a unified body…this was no longer the case.

As the day wore on, the Collegium had stratified into three loyalties: those supporters of Anson that continued to do so under Master Raru Vinjaga, a contingent that intended to defect to Kazic’s camp led my Master Marc-Andr Drevifv, and finally a third but by far the largest group consisting of over half of Anson’s Vhal’Dan who wished to decamp from Galtea altogether.  This last group had elected as their spokesperson a Togrutan male, Master Viula Noth.  There were already whispers of electing Noth as the new Kage-abroad but each time voices were raised in proposal of such, the Togrutan would thoroughly quash them.

“We have more pressing issues to decide.” Master Noth’s deep base voice cut through the dissension…of his election.  But concerning the immediate future of the Collegium?  They were no closer to a consensus now than before Kazic’s “shadows” had killed Pytir and Fuqua.  Each time one voice would raise in argument, there would invariably be two stances against…which left them back at the beginning.

It was during one of these disputes that the doors once again slammed open, a trio of bodies framed by the metallic doorway.  One was a tall, dark-haired woman with a bacta-brace on her leg.  Another was a short, stocky red-haired man.  But all attention was on the third person held within the red-haired man’s thick arms.

It was Anson.

And even if his body was broken, the redoubtable look on his face projected the power and authority within the man.

Master Vinjaga ran up to the three of them.  “Kage!”

Another person spoke to the dark-haired woman, demanding, “Who are you?”

Her face imperious, her fair voice carried through the room.  “I am Silver Knight Inyak Zolor.  But—”

“What ar—”

“SILENCE!” Inyak projected her voice with the aid of the Force causing the entire room quiet.  “We must leave.  NOW.”

“Why?” Master Noth stepped forward.  “And why does not Kage D’Aklon speak?”

Inyak slowly inhaled as if to calm herself.  “I have time to explain this only once.  My husband Jinsen and I have only just come from the Lus’phor Spaceport.  While under the obfuscation of Buried Presence in order to help and rescue the Kage, we witnessed Kazic Ovarug suddenly and violently assert that something…dangerous and catastrophic was going to occur, and soon.  As we speak, the false Kage’s ships have left the planet.”  She looked at Anson within her husband’s arms.  “The Kage cannot speak at the moment; his jaw has been shattered.  But Anson projected into my mind his own feelings: he knows that Ovarug has Force-Visions.  He believes him.  We would be fools not to listen.”

Even though he had not spoken, Master Drevifv approached, looking first at Anson and then Inyak.  “Kazic’s forces have left Lus’phor?”  When Inyak gave a curt nod, he left without a backwards glance, gathering about a quarter of the gathered Jedi before disappearing through one of the far blast doors.  Leaving Master Noth staring supercilious and patronizingly at Inyak.

“Knight Zolor…as well we all know, the Force is ever in motion; the future is not something that we can predict with any certainty.  What is it that Ovarug intimated happening?”  He cocked an eyebrow, crossing his arms.

Inyak stared at the Togrutan.  “Something that required he and his people to leave.  If you choose to stay, the Kage will consider you an enemy of the Vhal’Dan.”  She glanced at Jinsen, still holding Anson.  “Let’s go.”

Inyak, Jinsen, and Anson left through the same blast doors leading to the ship berths.  Again, about a quarter of the Jedi that had congregated followed them.  A somber mood had settled upon the room.

“Vhal’Dan…” Master Noth began, “…you’ve elected me to speak collectively for you.  I now formally accept this as a means to not only find a way forward after so much death and adversity but to also recreate our Order absent of the systemic violence that we wish to escape.”  Those remaining began to crowd around the Togrutan Master, nodding and smiling.  

True, they were tired of the war and fighting…and the struggling.  They saw in Viula Noth a leader (and if they had it their way, a Kage) that would keep them from the horrors of war.  They agreed that even though that meant giving up Galtea, they would reestablish a new home, a home that would flourish in solidarity and unity.  And peace.  No longer would they fight; indeed, many had already thrown down their lightsabers.  

And while they continued to talk, plan, and commiserate with one another, the warnings of danger went unheeded, one and all having completely forgotten those incidents preceding the day.

...Except one.

               <<<<< >>>>>


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 23, 2019, 10:47:01 PM
Chapter 28: Annihilation, part II

Having stumbled his way through the forgotten tunnels leading deeper into the bowels of the base, Messer Subiah Fuqua fell hard upon the sealed metallic door at the end of the hall.  His mind swam in a morass of pain, disorientation, and intent.  Blood covered the floor, a grisly and conspicuous trail if anyone cared to follow it.  Not that anyone would; this sealed room housed the Vhal’Dan’s cache of Force artifacts, or rather, those that Anson and his retinue had been able to transfer from Galtea.  It was highly restricted to all personnel and in fact could only be accessed by the Kage, the Arbiter, and the Speakers.

Or someone with their codes.

Fuqua had originally been given Pytir’s when he was the primary translator for the Vhal’Dan in ancient Massassi.  Or at least, he had been.  When Kazic showed up with that…that tralk, that…alien…all of his work had been called into question.

…But Pytir had never changed his codes.  Not even when Fuqua had absconded with the Force relics within the Vault in the Galtean Underworks.  Most of them he’d told Pytir about.  Most.

Inputting the last entry, Fuqua keyed the door open.  Dust covered the entire room; clearly no one had been in here since…well, since Ryshhk had stolen many of the artifacts that had been stored here.  Certainly not since Fuqua had first secreted his treasure here so long ago.  Not that it would have done the Wookie any good; Fuqua had hidden his prize well.  After all, he still knew more than every other Vhal’Dan about the Massassi Language.  He would show them, he would show them all!

Especially that…that tralk, that…alien…

Or so he kept repeating to himself.  His head wound was vicious, his exposed brain had been impaled by shards of bone and he was clearly missing a portion of the right lobe… But, unaware of the severity, he was deep in the delusion that he had the perfect weapon to use against Kazic’s black-armored Monsters.

Standing in front of a seemingly innocuous stretch of pipe, he slid his hand over it, careless of the blood that his fingers tracked.  But more importantly, his hand caressed the glyph that he knew to be there.  Scraping some of the epithelial cells from his skin, the datanode analyzed his genetic markers and, computing a match, opened the locking mechanism.  And reaching into the pipe’s tubing, withdrew the black object from within.  It was shaped like an obelisk about 25 centimeters tall covered in faded glyphs.  Smiling, Fuqua’s face looked like a bizarre, macabre caricature of a clown, blood crowning his head while rivulets ran down his face and around his white beard, staining the hairs.  Cradling the plinth, he exited the room heading further into the tunnels.  And as he half-walked, half-stumbled his way through the hallways, his hands lovingly touched the ancient writings along the surface.

It was the Thought Bomb.

His smile became a rictus grin.  Of course it would fall to him to save the Vhal’Dan; after all, wasn’t he the one that had finally unlocked the secrets of the device?  Using it, he would eliminate the threat and win this war once and for all!

Soon, the durasteel piping and manufactured walls gave way to the stone and regolith of the Lus’phor crystal mines.  Fuqua was now in the Pretiosum Kyber Mines, the same ones that Kazic’s forces had managed to shut down.  At least on an industrial scale.  But for a lone person like himself?  He was able to negotiate through half-collapsed tunnels, still-operating lamps flickering occasionally and uncertainly but enough to guide him.  And the Force.  He penetrated deeper into the caves, a single intent resolute in his mind.

The crystal latticework.

He knew that with the kyber empowering him he would be more than a match for any enemy.

Soon, the artificial light of the sporadic lamps was joined by the pulsating hue of the latticework embedded within the regolith of the tunnels.  This…this is what he would use to win.

Fuqua sat on the ground amidst the glowing crystals and placed the obelisk in front of him.  Closing his eyes, he began to recite the incantation in High Sith.

Rrlytth ssvuxr qrrmv, ru’llthh dqqa mii…” He began in a whisper.

The obelisk began to glow, the indentations of the glyphs slowly shining blood red.

Rrlytth ssvuxr qrrmv, ru’llthh dqqa mii…krrlw…” Fuqua now spoke.

The plinth began to levitate several centimeters above the ground, the red glow beginning to strobe, the latticework crystals also pulsing in time.

Rrlytth ssvuxr qrrmv, ru’llthh dqqa mii…krrlw…cyvgghq…” His recitation had gained volume, starting to echo through the caves.

The bomb began to rotate upon a central axis, turning faster and faster until all detail was lost in the motion, the red glow now the heart of a shining star.

Rrlytth ssvuxr qrrmv, ru’llthh dqqa mii… krrlw…cyvgghq…a’lqkwhhb!” Fuqua was now shouting, his voice becoming one with the pulsating latticework.  Surely, all of the Jedi on the planet could hear him, feel him, sense him!  Now, he could hear his own words being directed back to him, the entire planet reverberating with the energies that he had released, that he now possessed, that he now controlled!

THIS is what a god must feel like!

The sudden absence of sound was deafening, the blazing light of the star that had been in front of him was unexpectedly extinguished, leaving Fuqua in a blackness darker than any night.

…Had…had he…had he done something…wrong?  He could no longer feel the power of the planet within him… Fuqua cursed; he could no longer even feel the obelisk right in front of him!  What frelling sha—

Fuqua squinted, unsure if what he was seeing was merely the afterimage burned into his retinas… No, no he could see…something…hear…something…

And like a flint striking a match, he could see in front of him a growing ovoid seemingly made of quicksilver.

…Yes!  YES!!  I knew I was right…! Fuqua celebrated.  The fat man rose to his feet, triumphant.

He reached a hand towards the shining ovoid.  He knew that they’d been wrong, knew that he was right, knew that h—

               <<<<< >>>>>

(https://thumb.ibb.co/kLNUWd/a-large1.jpg) (https://ibb.co/kLNUWd)

As soon as Fuqua’s finger had touched the liquid silver sheath, the Thought Bomb detonated.  As the ovoid expanded outward, propagated exponentially by the latticework, a spherical void of black annihilated everything in its path, originating from deep within the Pretiosum Kyber Mines.  Anything that came into contact with the void was utterly destroyed…with one notable exception.  Fuqua’s soft tissues were vaporized in a microsecond, leaving a silver-gilded skeleton, courtesy of his tactile contact with the ovoid when it achieved critical mass.

Located only a few kilometers from the Mines and gathered in the base, Master Viula Noth and his followers felt the first tremors in a series of planetquakes.  A few seconds after that, all Force-sensitives felt the massive release of Force energies, magnitudes greater than anything else they’d ever experienced.  Looking to Master Noth, over two thousand sets of eyes sought reassurance.  But there was nothing that he could do.

Several seconds later, a perfectly black sphere of non-existence washed over the base and all of the inhabitants within.  None were spared.  One moment, thousands of future plans were being dreamed; the next…not so much as a particle of baryonic matter remained.

And still the void grew.

Lus’phor’s kyber crystal deposits extended throughout the thick crust of the small planet and with the Thought Bomb attuned to their resonant frequency, every crystal propagated the sphere of obliteration.

Every.  Single.  Crystal.

Finally, when the spherical void hit Lus’phor’s inner core, the reaction was instantaneous.  And extremely volatile.

Lus’phor exploded in a release of unimaginable energies, both kinetic and Force-based.

And the Galtean System was forever changed.  

As were the Vhal’Dan.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 24, 2019, 03:46:53 PM
The mad thoughts of one barely coherent man leading to worlds become desolate, something neither side would have dared enact performed in a mad flurry of semi lucid thought.

Clearly explains why the Vhal'Dan left Galtea, the backwash from that will be intense and without the Kyber mines the system is dramatically less resource rich. 

And Inyak makes another appearance with Anson (who's gonna need some major recovery), presumably everyone else too busy getting away to bother with him after Kazics moment of clarity! Clearly Inyak didn't take the advice to just leave the forsaken place. Now the Vhal dan are left in two camps once more, the 'sensible center' wiped out in a moment...like Saani said long before, she's been proved right - there is no longer be much of a Vhal Dan left to save.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 25, 2019, 07:00:56 AM
Wow...   You just invented a crystal-boosted thought bomb...  ;-)

Seriously, its a darned good thing Karm got to that one on M'Tzigon.  With all the crystals laying around, it would have had a similar effect.  Maybe not as great, but just as devastating to the local populace.

Wow...

This explains a lot.  2000 dead Val'Dhan.  Destroyed in a madman's final solution.   I agree with LSG, it wipes out the reasonable middle ground, but at the same time the utter shock might be what it takes to bring the rest back to their senses.  Especially since it wasn't an outside threat that destroyed them, but the inside threat.

Jealousy - fear - anger - pain - suffering...   Yoda's chain of the dark side plays out again...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on March 26, 2019, 02:10:35 PM
Again, special thanks to LSG for his awesome contribution  :)
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(https://thumb.ibb.co/c8Qpye/47c0f3b06f60d4a948b1f583c3aa71823be1c463-00.jpg) (https://ibb.co/c8Qpye)
Chapter 29: New Scars

In the wake of the Lus’phor Holocaust, everything changed.

The single hyperspace lane that had been the lone, secure path to the Galtea System had fissured: there were now three routes leading to-and-from the planet.

Of Lus’phor, there was no sign that it had even existed, all of the baryonic matter having been converted to dark energy.  The roughly 26,000 persons who had been on planet—2,387 of those Gray Jedi—were completely vaporized.

Nux’x, the small planet that had shared an orbital resonance with Lus’phor, had its trajectory permanently altered: it had been in opposition and at its perihelion to Lus’phor when the wave of dark energy had slammed into it, knocking it from its stable orbit.  Nux’x was now destined to be thrown out of the system.  In a few short years, it would become a rogue planet, consigned to wander the outer rim of the galaxy in perpetual deep-freeze.

Galtea itself was not spared.  While it was far enough away in quasiconjunction to Lus’phor in its orbital path to avoid a complete global natural catastrophe, for hundreds of years afterwards Galtea would experience heavy meteor bombardment courtesy of Lus’phor’s trojan asteroids.  And while the planetary shield could intercept those asteroids that were detected, there were many more that would go unnoticed…until it was too late.

Worse, the backwash of the Thought Bomb detonation had created a Force Nexus along the ecliptic plane where Lus’phor had perished.  Every single Force-sensitive being on Galtea was adversely affected to one degree or another, typically the most powerful suffering the worst symptoms.  And while these ranged from headaches and nightmares to grand mal seizures and aneurisms, the symptoms were always severe.

But that was not all: while Galtea passed through the Nexus, ALL living beings were affected as the planet’s weather patterns went temporarily haywire, lasting the entirety of the passage through the vergence.

The Civil War ground to a halt although no official overtures were made by either side.  Both factions had suffered deep wounds that would take time to recover.

And—as some came to find out—there were certain things from which there would be no recovering from…

               <<<<< >>>>>

On the bridge of Ryshhk’s light-freighter, Justice’s Brachiate, Saani gently tended to her husband while Kazic struggled for lucidity after his experience with the Memory Orb.  He’d asked Valens to join them although the rest of Ari’s People had evacuated in their own sleek, arrowhead-shaped ships.  Only Ari had insisted joining them.  That—coupled with Saani’s own contentions that Ari do so—was enough for Kazic to relent.

While Ryskkh piloted, the four of them had gathered together in the converted conference room where Justice’s Brachiate had been equipped instead with a command hub, a central computer databank more than sufficient to delineate intel, tactics, and communiqués.  And while all of them were busy, for all intents and purposes, Kazic’s mind was preoccupied, especially with Valens and, invariably, his own morality.

Memories, thoughts, feelings from decades…centuries back reeled through his head still as he slowly staggered across the war room where Valens stooped over the central display illuminated blue by the screens.

…Stooped…this was not a man who stooped was he…tired..? Kazic asked himself.  He reached round to finger his saber.  …This is the enemy… He thought in a moment of insanity—or was it clarity?—the unsettled reminiscence surging like tides in his mind told him Valens’ kind were a plague upon the galaxy, petty and childish demi-gods armed with heinous technologies used to inflict their tantrums upon others.

Unfiltered feelings, emotions, and values told him he should be standing with Annix…no he had to remind himself in the confusion of revived thoughts…Stryka was dead…Anson, he should stand with Anson against Valens and his ilk.  What had caused him to ally with such a creature…his own history, beliefs, and values buried for too long under the stress of the here-and-now rose to the fore to convict him.

“Traitor” the word echoed loud, shattering like glass through his ears and back into the mind that had condemned himself as such.  To let such a terror loose upon his own, there was no other word to describe what Kazic had become.  He looked at Valens, his mind aflame…

His helmet was on the floor, Valens rubbing his head from the strain of the weeks he had been awake and alert… Kazic would never have a better chance…he unhooked his saber and stepped forward quietly.

It was suicide, Kazic understood that, but there was a decent chance he could take Valens down with him, perhaps in a last act of defiance he could kill the destroyer of worlds and redeem himself.

…No…

No, those very memories that showed him to be a hypocrite also told him that one betrayal did not atone for another.  Valens was not the Monster here; he like his kind were a force of nature, arguably incapable of enough self-reflection to even be considered moral agents.  Even Ari—much as he loved her—showed shockingly arbitrary and instinctual behaviors and thought patterns not even Saani could break her out of. 

It was Kazic himself who had set them loose, he was the Monster he wished to destroy.  Only now faced with the values he once held in years past could he see his own face clearly.  Valens…Valens had merely been an “effect.”  But it was Kazic that had been the “cause.”  Slowly, he looked down at his lightsaber hilt down the emitter chamber.  …Just a kilogram’s worth of pressure… He thought, his thumb on the activation switch.

…No… Came the admonition once again.

Kazic knew that to be the coward’s way out.  To live would be much harder, to atone more difficult still.  But he knew now what he must do.

“Valens…” Kazic squared his shoulders.  “I must ask that you and your People go.”  Valens’ face remained impassive.  “It was a mistake to involve you.  I will honor our agreement but now I must insist that you all go.”

Valens did not move.  “‘Insist?’”

“…‘Ask,’ ‘solicit,’ ‘plead,’ ‘request.’  Whichever you prefer…but without malice, your People are no longer needed here.  Or wanted.”  Kazic stared stolidly.  “I know that I cannot force you and would only destroy the Vhal’Dan by standing against you…but you and your People are no longer welcome here.”  The Anzat spread his arms to show his sincerity…much like how one would disarm a predator who’d been surprised with its hackles up. 

Kazic almost smiled.  The irony of his mental comparison was not lost upon him.  Instead, he kept his face devoid of all emotion.

Valens held his gaze a moment longer.  “Yes.  I can see that.  I shall collect the artifacts that I’ve chosen as soon as we reach Vhal’Ulhadv.  And then we shall depart.”  For a moment he stared deeply into Kazic’s face.  “You’re right, the Vhal’Dan would be destroyed.  That is how I have persecuted this war.  After all: you said you wanted to win…and you never specified limitations of how it was to be done.” Valens’ tone was indifferent.

“Would you have followed them if I did?” Kazic knew his own question was rhetorical.

“No.” Valens replied, equally so.  Moving away from the central computer bank, he sank into the aircouch located on the opposite side of the room.  What Kazic hadn’t expected was that when he turned, Ari was standing directly behind him.

He looked down into her eyes, aqua eyes that he had seen mature into a young woman, love evident in their longing gaze whenever they’d fixed upon Saani or himself…but no longer.

Kazic took a mental step back.  Staring up at him, Ari’s face was filled with pain, incredulity, and…disappointment.  “I told you.  I told you not to do it.  But you wouldn’t listen.  Outsiders are all alike: they can’t be trusted.  Even the Vhal’Dan.  Like all Outsiders, they are untrustworthy…and you turn on yourselves.”  She turned to leave, glancing back a final time.  “…I…I’ll always love the man you USED to be.”  With that, she sat beside Valens.

Kazic was uncertain as to what pained him worse: Ari’s words echoing his own self-rebuke or that her simplistic perspective concerning…well, everyone who were not her People…had thoroughly indoctrinated her despite how Saani and he had raised her… Kazic supposed that he would never really know.  But he would never forget…

It…hurt too much…

And even after the Lus’phor shockwave hit Justice’s Brachiate several minutes later, Kazic was again reminded—perhaps unnecessarily—that life was pain…

               <<<<< >>>>>

As Kazic’s ships had left first, they had put the most distance between them and Lus’phor.  The Force energies that erupted from the small planet exploding still inundated them but given their distance at the time, there was no permanent damage done.  At least no direct damage…

The same could not be said for Anson’s ships.

While many had reached outer space, some had just reached the limits of Lus’phor’s magnetic field.  Unfortunately, those still in the lower atmosphere perished along with the planet.  However, Inyak Zolor’s Class 440 freighter, the Domai’s Honor, was rising through the exosphere just past the thermopause when the Thought Bomb detonated.  And while the ship and its passengers escaped destruction, the concussive blast broke the bodies within, but it was the metaphysical dark energy that did the most damage.

Both of Inyak’s femurs fractured in multiple places but was otherwise no worse considering.  Jinsen unfortunately was thrown against the restraints with such force that several of his vertebra were crushed.  He would forever walk with a limp…when he was finally able to walk again.  And they would both suffer from debilitating migraines for years to come.

But it was Anson that had the worst of it.

Anson’s already ruined body was further shattered.  But the Thought Bomb’s backwash crashed into Anson’s mind, fragmenting an already damaged consciousness.

All of Anson’s existence became a monument of pain, a testament of anguish.  He’d lost, lost almost everything.  And now…even as he struggled for cognizance—for existence—the part of him that his followers had pledged themselves to, that inner core of quadranium…

He continued to fight.

He fought, embracing the agony as Anson was again reminded—perhaps unnecessarily—that life was pain…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on March 27, 2019, 08:20:12 AM
Tragic.   Kazic loses his daughter, and a big piece of himself.  Anson, still alive, but forever fighting just to be.   The home they had all fought for lost forever to them.

Not the Vhal'Dan's finest hour. 

And yet, still glimmers of hope.  Kazic is still alive, can learn from his mistakes.  He was wise enough to stop, to save the Vhal'Dan from total annihilation.  His wife is still at his side. 

Live is pain, perhaps.  But it is also hope.  Without hope, life ends.

And now, six centuries later, Kazic finishes his confession...   What more is there to tell?   I am looking forward to finding out!  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on March 27, 2019, 02:20:17 PM
Agree with Karm, big losses, and arguably the only winner in the civil war is the mercenary Aethans who have just obtained Kazic's memories, artefacts and reams of combat and strategic data and performed extensive weapons testing - and arguably so far as Valens is concerned scored a win by convincing Ari Outsiders cannot be trusted. 

Interesting parallel I see is that Anson is broken physically, but mentally and psychologically would at least be whole, firm that he has done the right thing nd given his all to protect the Vhal'Dan from Kazics horrors.  Kazic is the polar opposite, physically whole but shattered emotionally and now sees he has just made the biggest mistakes of his life (to date....) and has become a traitor to his own -no wonder he changed the records and in the present must confess.

Life is pain for both, but a different type of pain for now...

Cool pic for Ari BTW very tribal but sci-fi!!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Taegin Roan on March 28, 2019, 11:54:58 AM
Aye, that was a strong chapter. There is no denying the pain that will continue for years to come. But there is still more to the story I think. Just from what we know from the current timeline, The Vhal'Dan have somehow taken up residence on Zenoma Sekot. How may not be important, but it is still part of the story. Kazic also has Anson's lightsaber, which means that there will be another confrontation between the two of them some time. Whether it is a confrontation of reconciliation, I do not know, but based on the pain that we are getting from Kazic as he retells this story to D'Aylanna, and the emotion when the story of how he found Zearic stealing Anson's saber, I get the sense that their next meeting will not be in the friendship that they once had.

Amazing storytelling and world-building as usual TD. Very excited and interested to see what comes next.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 09, 2019, 09:00:03 AM
(https://i.ibb.co/P99BFcD/Taris-Destroyed.jpg) (https://ibb.co/P99BFcD)
Chapter 30: Aftermath

“I, Master Gray Marc-Andr Drevifv, attest my allegiance to and so swear that Kazic Ovarug is Kage of the Vhal’Dan.”  With that he bowed deferentially, the last of Anson’s former Jedi to do so.  It was an enormous victory. 

And a stunning loss.

True, Kazic’s forces had tripled…but of the over 5,000 Vhal’Dan Jedi the Order had numbered before the Civil War, Kazic could only claim 783 now.  And even if the most liberal of estimates were to be believed, Anson had no more than 300 Jedi among his ranks…

And the military fatalities had been catastrophic: all told, over 2 million had perished over the course of the war.  It didn’t matter to Kazic if they were from Anson’s forces or his own, he lamented the death of every person regardless of allegiance.

But it was the civilian losses that staggered Kazic.  Even at conservative estimates, there had been over a million confirmed civilian casualties since the war began, mostly centered in Vhal’Ulhadv.  The once-magnificent skyline that bespoke of technological wonder and beauty was encircled with a halo of smoke, ruin, and—at least within the influence of the repulsor fields—detritus.  Many of the tall spires that had rivaled the surrounding mountains were much shorter…if they had not collapsed altogether.  The entire cityscape that had been a marvel of Galtea could have instead belonged in a Nar Shadda or Taris slum. 

Had the Vhal’Dan Order stayed on Galtea, Vhal’Ulhadv might’ve been resurrected.  But with the metaphysical backwash of the Lus’phor Thought Bomb…within a handful of years, ALL Force-sensitives would abandon the planet, damning the once-beautiful capital city to the ruins it would become 600 years in the future…

But the fighting had not been confined to the city proper.

The surrounding countryside, from the Cthodral Mountains to Lake Olucem’m, had been completely devastated by both Force powers as well as conventional artillery.  Mountain peaks that had reached kilometers into the blue skies had been reduced by a third.  And of Lake Olucem’m…

The blue crystal waters of the enormous lake were now brown, choked with dirt, sludge, and debris.  And, invariably, the bodies of those that rescuers had been unable to reach.  It was truly a paradise lost.

All of this occupied Kazic’s thoughts despite the gravity of the ceremonies.  Even as the reality of Galtea’s future—or rather, that of the Vhal’Dan Order—wouldn’t be known for a couple of months, the enormity of the endeavor to reconstruct and heal the damage done threatened to overwhelm the Anzat Kage.

And he hadn’t even considered the fact that Anson and his followers were still at large, much less what he intended for them…

Suddenly, he felt pressure in his mind.  Kazic almost smiled.  Saani.  Their connection was as strong as ever.  Stronger to be honest.  In fact, ever since her resurrection her presence in the Force felt stronger, more potent: she’d always been just below Kazic, now…now she was as powerful as Anson, or close enough not to make a difference.  But that wasn’t all…

Saani had always been a beautiful woman, courtesy of her Twi’lek heritage.  But as the days had progressed, she seemed to look…younger.  No, not “seemed;” she did look younger.  Where before she’d appeared to be in her 30s, now she could easily pass for a young woman in her 20s.  Her early 20s.  Out of the corner of his eye, a wry grin curved the corner of her lips.  …My Kanp’a… Leave it to her to help keep him on track.

Mentally squaring his shoulders, Kazic sobered, focusing at the task at hand.

“I accept and bond you into my service and absolve you of all past trespasses.” Came Kazic’s reply.  With that done, he’d formally vindicated all of the defecting Jedi and welcomed them back into the Vhal’Dan with them having officially recognizing Kazic as Kage.  And while the tradition was intended to inaugurate solidarity, peace, and reconciliation, there was nevertheless an undercurrent of unease. 

Since the inception of the Order 400 years prior, there had never been anything like the hostilities of the Civil War.  Indeed, even prior to Black Rikard uniting the seven Clans, there had been Clan disputes that had broken out in skirmishes but nothing remotely close to the severity of the Civil War.

And it was that weight that Kazic alone tried to shoulder.  He was responsible; he would make it right.  Already he had plans in motion to make amends.  And the most important reparation that he had to make was to Anson…his brother.  Kazic wanted to rend his hair and rage towards the heavens.  He should’ve been more receptive, done something—anything—else instead of the War.  But he could not.

What was in the past was said and done.  And he still had a responsibility as Kage.  That helped to buoy him.  That…and Saani’s reassuring comfort.  And as all of the Vhal’Dan gathered recited the Code, Kazic felt his spirits if not rising, then strengthened.

Flowing through all, there is balance
There is no peace without passion to create
There is no passion without peace to guide
Knowledge stagnates without the strength to act
Power blinds without the serenity to see
There is freedom in life
There is purpose in death
The Force is all things and I am the Force


               <<<<< >>>>>

Exhausted, Kazic collapsed on the couch in the Atrium of the Kage’s Suite.  Following her husband’s example, Saani kicked off her boots, sitting beside him as she tucked her feet beneath her.  With expert hands, her fingers began to kneed into the Anzat’s shoulders and neck, aggressively attacking the knotted muscles in both.  Worries, laments, and intents evaporated under Saani’s ministrations.

“…By the Maker that feels good, Kanp’a…” Kazic mumbled, allowing himself to finally relax.  Saani chuckled, nuzzling her nose in his neck.  “…and that feels even better.”

Sudden motion momentarily surprised Kazic as Saani jumped up from the couch to straddle him, fiercely kissing her husband.  Her hands moved from his neck to the sides of his face, one of them deftly unknotting his statim, releasing his topknot.

Between kisses Saani purred.  “I love your hair, K’ompo.” 

His hands roamed her body while he felt his blood quicken.  “And I love you, Kanp’a.” His hands gently stroked her lekku as he returned each fervent kiss in kind.  Very soon, there was nothing between them, each wrapped in the other’s arms with an intimacy that transcended the physical.  Joined by body, mind, and the Force, the shared inferno that they both felt was as wonderful as it was passionate.

Moreso, truth be told.  Since Ari had brought Saani back, their lovemaking had become more frequent, more intense.  More…aggressive.  Indeed, the last time Saani had forcefully nipped her husband’s neck, drawing blood.  It had only served to enflame Kazic more.

And as they lay together upon the couch both spent, the responsibilities and concerns of life were blissfully lightyears away.

And closer than they thought.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Anson remained fully submerged within the bacta tank for more than a week while medical droids helped to carefully rebuild his body.  The damage while extensive could be undone.  At least physically.

Mentally was another matter altogether.  The backwash of the Thought Bomb had taken Anson’s convictions and intensified them into fervent zealotry.  Of course, this had not been helped by Kazic’s decision to include those “shadows,” one of which had soundly beaten him.  He still was unsure how… But one thing was certain:

Kazic was to blame.

For Anson, this also included those…those cowardly deserters that had defected.  Anson’s fingers balled into fists, the corded muscles in his neck standing taunt.  They too were to blame… No; worse he admitted.

At least the Anzat had been constant.

The bacta infiltrated his body, making micro-repairs on the cellular level.  Soon enough, he would be healthy again.  But the bacta could not touch Anson’s mind.

And to him, Kazic and ALL of his Jedi—no, everyone who was aligned with him—were traitors.  Not just to Anson but the entire Vhal’Dan Order.  It was they who were responsible for this devastation, they who were murderers.  He knew it.  Every dead Jedi, all of the military casualties, and the civilian fatalities…he thought of every one.  After all, during his time in the bacta tank, Anson had had little to do but think…and reflect.  And he knew…

Anson remembered when Arkady had come to him while he’d been imprisoned accusing him of relinquishing the Arbiter’s Codes to access the Vhal’Dan’s Force artifacts…or giving it to…someone.  But Arkady had been wrong; Anson would never betray his oaths to the Vhal’Dan.  Only one person had done that.  Anson scowled.

Kazic.

He had motive, opportunity.  Kazic.  He’d been on Lus’phor just prior to it exploding so he’d obviously had the time to set the Bomb.  Kazic.  And he’d known that the Pretiosum Kyber Mines were accessible; after all, hadn’t he been the one to try to seal them?  Kazic.  And he’d brought those murdering black-armored monsters. 

Kazic.

Anson’s paranoia burned through his mind and back again around and in itself, transgressions both imagined and real reinforcing and blurring the facts and the suppositions until one became indistinguishable from another.

He kept repeating the Anzat’s name, reciting it like a litany.  And within that singular train of thought, Anson’s mind now knew beyond a doubt that he’d been wrong to fortify the Order against all foreign threats…only.  He’d been mistaken in thinking that no danger could possibly come from within.  But he knew better now.

And when his followers finally came to remove Anson from the tank and bring him up to speed, he absorbed all the information, storing it for future retrieval with one, immutable thought pervading his mind.

It wasn’t just Kazic that needed to be destroyed but in fact ALL of his people.  And only he knew how to accomplish such…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Two weeks later, the Thought Bomb backwash symptoms first began to appear amongst all of the Forceusers on Galtea.  It didn’t take long to pinpoint the origin of misfortunes but one and all the Vhal’Dan were at a loss at how to counter the effects.

That wasn’t to say that possible hypotheses weren’t tried, tested, rejected, and revised but after almost a month, there was no solution in sight.

And the symptoms kept getting worse and more severe.

Kazic knew that the Vhal’Dan would be better served if whole, now more than ever.  So during the interim, he’d cast a wide net, broadcasting his desires and intent to end hostilities and bring solidarity to the Order.  To that end, he tried everything—even via the Force—to contact Anson.

But for that first month, he’d been unsuccessful.  Not that Anson or his followers weren’t listening; rather, they were carrying out the orders of their Kage, preparing, waiting. 

Until…

Almost two months after the Lus’phor Holocaust, Kazic was sitting in the Kage’s Office of the Vhal’Ulhadv Temple when he finally received the contact from Anson that he’d so anticipated.  And as the two spoke, Kazic’s dread took a new turn as he listened to his former brother.

And if Kazic could have broke out in a cold sweat, he would’ve done so now…


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 09, 2019, 11:25:07 AM
OK, I did NOT see that one coming...    Maybe I should have.  :-)   It reminds me of the end of Dr. Strange, when Mordo attacks Johnathan Pangborn.   He says he realized the problem was that there were to many wizards....

I think Anson has come to the same conclusion...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 09, 2019, 08:35:05 AM
Ansons life was pain, and in that tank he found the source of said pain to be Kazic....I like that imagery, just floating there his anger feeding on itself into a systematic semi-logical hatred for Kazic...after all what else did he have to do?
I wonder what exactly Anson said to Kazic...probably doesn't matter...frankly none of it seems to in light of everything that has been lost - as Saani said long before will there be a Vhal'dan left to save....well not really - the Vhal'Dan that was died in that war, the Vhal'Dan that is...is something forever different.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 10, 2019, 08:05:34 AM
Exactly, LSG.   One of the ultimate tragedies is that they killed what they were trying to protect.  The Vhal'Dan survived ... but they're not what they were. 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 12, 2019, 03:52:01 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/cqvxoT/Defender-Corvette2-TOR.jpg) (https://ibb.co/cqvxoT)

Chapter 31: “…We Are Come To This Great Stage of Fools…” part I

“What do you mean that you don’t want me coming with you?!” Saani’s voice was uncharacteristically angry, almost…challenging.  “You will need me.”

Kanp’a you’re not wrong.  I do need you.  But Anson was very clear: I am to come by myself.”  Kazic didn’t tell her the ramifications of what would happen if he deviated from Anson’s instructions.  Or the other…

Even before Kazic could discuss the detrimental effects stemming from the Lus’phor Holocaust, Anson had cut him off, telling the Anzat that he would detonate over a dozen high-yield baradium bombs hidden throughout Vhal’Ulhadv.  He had even given Kazic the location of one to prove the veracity of his claims: it had been found in the Underworks below the Hall of Balance.  When Kazic had questioned him concerning why he hadn’t detonated the device, Anson had coldly told him that he would do everything in his power to limit the civilian casualties…unless the Anzat refused to comply.

And that included telling no one.  

No, Kazic was to come alone to meet Anson at the Supp’Licium Paterae, a deep crater left by a nameless volcano located in Nux’x’s northern hemisphere.  When Kazic tried to press him for more, Anson had terminated all communication.  And Kazic knew that Anson was not one to give idle threats…

“Please, Saani.  I need for you to trust me.  Know that I want you there but I cannot discuss this further.  Not with you; not with anyone.”  He looked deeply into his wife’s purple eyes.  The woman who looked back was almost a stranger, and not just because of the effects of her rejuvenation.  Kazic saw real anger, anger at him.  Certainly there had been times when they’d fought but he’d never seen abject fury from his wife, at least not directed towards him.  Kazic supposed he couldn’t blame her; after all, were their positions reversed, how would he react?

Still…he could almost swear that he’d seen a shadow of…disdain(?) cross her face…

Mentally shaking his head, Kazic castigated himself.  No, he must have imagined it.  After all, Saani had been through so much… He turned his full attention back to the Twi’lek.  Yes, she was angry…but he could see and sense the love radiating from her as well.

Suddenly, he enveloped her in a tight embrace, gently stroking her lekku.  She fiercely returned the gesture in kind.  “K’ompo, I don’t know what exactly is going on but…I trust you.  Just…promise me that you’ll be careful.”  Looking up to him, Saani grabbed his face and forcefully kissed him.  Kazic felt as if his lips would bruise just as he felt enflamed by her passion.  If only they’d had more time…

“I promise, Kanp’a…” He said once he caught his breath, resting his cheek upon Saani’s forehead.  And even as the words left his lips, he wondered how he’d be able to keep the lie he knew he had to tell for fear of Anson’s other threat…

And as he left, he did not see the rage slowly transform Saani’s face, a look that would’ve given him more than just trepidation…

               <<<<< >>>>>

(https://thumb.ibb.co/iYOX2x/Volfe-Karkko-CSWE.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iYOX2x)

Piloting the Sojourner through the thinner atmosphere of the dwarf planet, Kazic looked upon the hellish landscape of Nux’x.  Flowing rivers of molten lava lined the entire surface, red hot veins streaming through dark rock strata, often times collecting in enormous lakes.  Noxious dark clouds obfuscated much of the atmosphere in the south but the air in the northern hemisphere was breathable thanks to the giant processing stations, necessary given the rock and mineral refineries that supplied Galtea with rare heavy metals.

It was on one of these refineries located in the Supp’Licium Paterae that Kazic prepared to land.  Or rather, about a half kilometer from the structure; Anson again had been distinct in his instructions concerning “no others” and “no tricks.”  And landing in the middle of an open basaltic field offered minimal cover or hiding places.  Not that Kazic had any intention of countermanding those directives; baradium bombs were not planet-killers…but they would destroy a city the size of Vhal’Ulhadv and the surrounding countryside.

At the very least.

And that would be if a single bomb was detonated.  With all twelve?  Galtea would experience a “nuclear winter” of times eons past, a large swath of the planetary crust would be ejected into the atmosphere effectively blocking out the sun.  Kazic had heard of a planet that would be Galtea’s twin should that happen.

Hoth.

Kazic would do whatever he had to in order to avoid such.  Even if it meant his own death.  

As the Sojourner set down upon the dark regolith, Kazic took a moment to lament his decision in lying to Saani.  If he could accomplish nothing else, he was determined that he would save his wife.  He hoped desperately that she would forgive him, just as he fervently desired that the Maker would do so…even as he questioned whether or not the Maker would even listen to him after everything he’d done.  

But…he had to at least try.

Finishing the silent litany, Kazic squared his shoulders and, inhaling, prepared himself for whatever awaited him.  Resolute, he made his way to the landing hatch, unconsciously smoothing his dark gray tunics.  And as the hatch opened, the slightly misty air assaulted his flared nostrils reminding him that he would ask for Anson’s forgiveness as well.  

He barked a laugh.  …Too little, too late you Anzat bastard… Kazic told himself.  But he owed his brother that much regardless.  

As Kazic disembarked, he slowly surveyed the surrounding mountainous hills, the high peaks of the paterae a darker backdrop against the horizon.  Even with the atmospheric processers, the vaporous air smelled of sulfur, clouding his sight.  He let his eyes to transition to infravision, allowing him to make out variances in ambient temperature.

That’s when he saw Anson, or rather a humanoid figure matching Anson’s profile; his infravision did not allow for discernment with precise details as would normal vision.  He headed towards the figure, about a hundred meters in the distance.  As Kazic got closer, he detected another source of heat: a small river of lava that pooled in a crevasse about 30 meters to his right and below.  It provided enough light so that he could switch back to his normal vision.  Approaching Anson, he thought about what he wanted to say.

And stopped.  As his gaze fell upon his former brother, Kazic could see that Anson had dramatically changed, details becoming clearer as the Anzat closed the distance.  

Anson had always been muscular but he’d lost some weight.  Instead, he reminded Kazic of an old physiology chart that showed the human body absent any skin, the muscle groups clearly delineated and striated, the cuts sharp and discerning.  Anson’s bare arms and neck looked the same as if what little fat he’d possessed had been burned away.  The play of the light against his muscled jowls told Kazic that even now Anson’s teeth must be clenched tight, almost grinding.  But that wasn’t the most remarkable change…

The hard look that Anson wore could have broken quadranium.  And his eyes… Kazic inadvertently stopped mid-step.  The eyes that stared at Kazic from below Anson’s brow belonged to a stranger.  A dangerous, unpredictable stranger.

At a loss of what to do next, Kazic remembered his promise.  He closed the distance between them, the light and heat of the lava becoming slightly more intense.  And when he was about 4 meters from Anson he stopped, dropping to his knees.

“I know that I have no right to call upon you so, nor to ask…but I implore you brother and plead for your forgiveness.”  Kazic bowed his head solemnly.  “I acknowledge that I am at fault; I should’ve been more receptive, more willing in concession, more…loving to you.  I know that I am not worthy of such but…I nevertheless beg you.”  Kazic spread his arms wide.  “Let us end this conflict.  Too many—far too many—have died already for my sins, for my pride.  I…I offer to you myself as proof of my intentions.  And as the price of my intransigence.  Do as you will.”  Raising his head, Kazic stared straight into Anson’s eyes.

And almost recoiled.

Anson’s eyes were completely empty of anything resembling understanding, compassion, or compromise.  The brown irises seemed to glow a preternatural red that had nothing to do with the lava.  Instead, a rabid intensity emphasized the utter contempt that Kazic saw within Anson’s face.  Nevertheless, the Anzat remained kneeling.

“You are in error Kazic.  I did not call you here to discuss your surrender, your…feelings of remorse.  I am not here to absolve you of your many sins nor am I in the least part interested in listening to your contrition.”  Deliberately, Anson pulled at the robe that he’d draped over his shoulders, fully exposing the utilitarian undertunic beneath.  As tight as a second skin, the dark shirt hugged his torso revealing the musculature underneath.  And within his hand, Anson held the black metal hilt of his lightsaber.  Igniting the blade, the green hue played across his face in direct contrast with the red of the nearby lava, looking for everything like the visage from a fallen angel of myth.  “I am here to invoke P’Rae’Lior.”

Kazic blinked, uncertain if he’d heard correctly.  Clearly his confusion was evident upon his face.

“You see Kazic, that was my mistake: not declaring P’Rae’Lior when you’d first betrayed the Vhal’Dan.”  Anson’s voice was as hard as his face.

Kazic didn’t dispute the shorter man’s proclamation of betrayal—he himself thought he was guilty—but…this?  P’Rae’Lior had not been declared in centuries.  “Anson…I admit and accept my failure to safeguard the Order but—”

Anson’s suddenly seething voice interrupted.  “I don’t give a damn about your regrets; you and your kind are a disease, a virus to be eradicated.  And I intend to start with you.”  He pointed his lightsaber at Kazic.  “And let me be crystal clear: you will either fight me—now and to the absolute best of your ability—or I will detonate the bombs.  You see, while I was alone within the confines of the bacta tank, I had an epiphany: the one, true Kage of the Vhal’Dan would never let anyone do his own fighting, nor would he allow anyone to come to harm by inaction.  Had we dispensed with useless doctrine and inept bureaucracy, we could have avoided all of those deaths.”

Kazic was not about to point out Anson’s ad hominem logic but realized that he truly was no longer listening or interested in anything Kazic had to say.  

He was completely, dangerously convinced of his own convictions.  And entirely insane.

“Once again, I, Anson D’Aklon challenge you to P’Rae’Lior.  Do you accept?” Anson fell silent.

Kazic rose, knowing that he had little choice.  If he did not, Anson would make good on his threats.  Just as Kazic knew that Anson was also an excellent judge of the Anzat’s abilities.  He would know if Kazic did not fight his best.  Not that it would matter.

Kazic knew that there was no way that he could defeat Anson.

Anson was the most powerful Jedi of the Vhal’Dan.  Moreso, he was also the most proficient of the Order’s blademasters.  And—Kazic grimly reminded himself—he’d fought against one of Ari’s People.  And won.

Still, part of him had unconsciously known that he was heading to his death.  He’d tried not to hold out much in the way of hope but when Kazic had held Saani… He admonished himself as the hopeful fool that he knew himself to be.  At least he would make amends to Anson…and save his people from the threats that Anson had made.

Saani's beautiful face occupied his mind.  And he would do anything to protect her.

“I accept.”  Kazic intoned, reaching for the silver hilt at his belt.  Stepping forward, his blue blade sprang into existence held on high.  Anson’s own green blade touched his for the briefest of moments as the two circled each other, each Kage a powerful Gray Master in their prime.

And so it began.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 12, 2019, 04:04:35 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/b2oApc/personnage-volfe-karkko-13171.jpg) (https://ibb.co/b2oApc)

Chapter 31: “…We Are Come To This Great Stage of Fools…” part II

Kazic held back nothing.  But he did not fight for himself; he fought for every single person under threat of the baradium bombs.  He fought for Saani.  He used all of the tricks that he’d learned during the War, especially those from what he’d seen Valens do.  He threw all of his power into metaphysical assaults while simultaneously strengthening his physical attributes and prowess with the Force.  And throughout it all, he worked his lightsaber furiously. 

While Kazic was not a blademaster, his skills were certainly close to such.  And he’d been trained by one of the best: his teacher, Master Stryka Annix.  He specifically used the variant Niman form that she’d taught to him, and him alone.  Perfecting it during the final years of the New Sith Wars, Stryka had used her mastery of the unique Niman form to fell many an opponent.  And none had ever bested her.  Kazic had worked hard to succeed her in that mastery.

And with almost any other opponent, he would have been victorious.

But if Kazic had learned much during the War, so too had Anson.  Even as he’d fought against the black-armored monsters, against Kazic’s guerilla tactics, against the limitations of his own body as he floated in the bacta, Anson had analyzed it all.  Every parry was immediately followed by riposte, every strike was followed by a counterattack, every assault rebuffed and turned in kind.  Anson had learned from the best teacher of all: experience.

And he was still more powerful a Jedi and more proficient a blademaster than Kazic ever was.

The battlefield was soon testament to their multilayered combat: large boulders, swaths of lava, and even the air itself was rent amidst their Force attacks.  Within the paterae, the landscape was violently reshaped as their combined Force powers attempted to provide advantage over the other, all the while their lightsabers never once slowed as they looked to exploit any opening in their opponent’s defenses. 

For both men, time had lost meaning.  Had they fought minutes?  An hour?  A day?  By now, both were covered in blood, most injuries relatively minor, a few severe, but one thing was certain:  Anson was winning.

Kazic had started strong, stalemating Anson on almost all levels.  The potent metaphysical attacks had been blunted, the incredibly strong physical manifestations of the Force had been turned aside or redirected, and Kazic’s blue blade was almost flawless at intercepting Anson’s green.

“Almost” being the operative word.

Anson was stronger and more skilled.  They knew it; they’d known it since they’d first met.  But that did not mean that Kazic was defeated… As he’d admitted to himself, he’d known that this would be his final attempt to make things right, that he would make a redress of grievances by his sacrifice, hoping that the price that he paid would satisfy the debt.

He’d known that Nux’x would be his grave.

And just as he’d done back in the Vhal’Ulhadv training salle, Anson’s next attack slid past the Anzat’s mental shields to hit home: a Force Thorn.  Screaming in pain, Kazic’s defenses faltered.  Taking advantage, Anson hammered Kazic with a quick succession of heavy lightsaber strikes thinking to overwhelm him.  Desperately, Kazic did something that he normally wouldn’t: in the blink of an eye, he conjured a potent ball of Kinetite, releasing it immediately.  And while both men had a Force shield up, the resulting explosion ripped both lightsabers from their grasps.  Additionally, Kazic—who was already weakened courtesy of the Force Thorn—was thrown back as his shield buckled under the force of the detonation.  Somehow, he was able to land on his feet several meters away.  But Anson didn’t hesitate.

(https://image.ibb.co/goUYjy/quinlandat31.jpg)

He gathered the Force around him and, using both hands, projected a storm of Force Lightning at the Anzat.  Hitting Kazic square in his torso, the Lightning picked him up throwing him several meters back.  Landing heavily, Kazic lay upon his back, his red eyes staring into the dark Nux’x sky.  He could barely breath, let alone move.  Dimly, he was aware of movement and the sounds of someone approaching.  Casting his eyes down towards his feet, Kazic saw Anson come into view, the shorter man breathing heavily.  Absently, Anson wiped the blood running from his mouth as he stood above Kazic.

“…You fought without hesitation; you held nothing back.  Just as you promised.”  Anson’s lips turned a small grin.  “I have an confession to make: there are no other bombs.  The one beneath the Hall was the only device.  And a final test…one of which you failed, miserably.”  Anson’s face lost all humor, his eyes condemning Kazic as he spoke.  “How could you ever believe that I would put so many innocent lives in danger?  For someone who supposedly thought so much of ‘his brother,’ well that is one of the biggest betrayals ever.”  Anson held his hand out, the gleaming black hilt of his lightsaber suddenly igniting.  “Only a Sith could believe such.”

Kazic suspected that Anson had been more affected by the Thought Bomb blast than even he knew.  The human’s next words turned the Anzat’s supposition into certainty.  “And I will root out all of those…Darksiders loyal to you.  Every.  Single.  One.”  Anson’s gaze lost focus, his attention turned inwards towards thoughts of “cleansing” the Vhal’Dan Order.  “…Starting with those traitors that turned from me…their true Kage…”  A zealot’s mask descended upon Anson’s face.

Kazic knew he had to try to dissuade Anson while at the same time try to save him.  “Anson…you must listen: you are…sick.  The Thought Bomb must have injured you more severely than you know.  Please: let me help you.”  But Kazic did not know how; in fact, right now he couldn’t even help himself stand.

Anson fixed his fanatical gaze upon him.  “More Sith-born lies.”  He squared his shoulders, a decision made.  “Know this: the first thing I shall do after I execute you…is kill your whore wife.”  Anson brought up his arm, the humming of the green blade mixing with the sound of pooling lava.  “The Sith shall die by my hand tonight, both master and apprentice.”  His face exultant, Anson closed his eyes…

…Only to open them again, his face filled with pain as he slowly lowered his head to stare in disbelief at what he saw: the tip of a purple lightsaber blade protruding from his chest.  Anson’s lightsaber fell from limp hands, landing between Kazic’s legs.  Shocked, the Anzat looked behind Anson…seeing nothing.  At least, not at first.

Suddenly, Saani seemed to appear as if out of a fog.  And Kazic knew: she’d always been the best at Buried Presence… As Anson fell to his knees and then to the ground, Saani’s face became visible.  A look of pure anger contorted her visage.

But when she turned to look directly at her husband, her face melted, both joy and concern warring between each other.  “K’ompo!”  She kneeled beside him, hugging him tightly to her breast while Healing flows from the Force enveloped him.  Kissing him over and again, Saani comforted Kazic as he fought to recover.

“…thank…you…Kanp’a…love…you…” He whispered.  And when he looked up into her face, he saw the tears sliding down her cheeks as she gently smoothed his black hair.  “…Saani…please…wait…I…need…”  Feeling stronger now, he gently disengaged her arms.  Slowly, he crawled over to Anson, checking him.  Although his breathing was ragged and pained, he was still alive.

But not for much longer.

Kazic leaned on his elbows, looking down into Anson’s cloudy eyes.  “…Brother…please…forgive…me…” He stared intently, searching his brother’s brown eyes in the hope of seeing something…familiar, something recognizable.  Anson’s eyes regained focus, his head turning towards Kazic.

“…I’ll…see…you…in…hell…” He whispered, breathing his last.

Surrounded by the barren, blasted landscape, Kazic felt Saani crawl over to him and wrap her arms around his back.  But all he could do was weep quietly and damn himself for the monster that he’d become.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Their flight home had been one of silence.  Their arrival had been more quiet still.  It wasn’t until they’d entered their shared bedroom, that the questions poured from Kazic.

Kanp’a…how did you know?  What did you do?  How did you find me?” His voice wasn’t exactly harsh but he’d never spoken to Saani in such an austere tone.

Saani’s back had been to him but she now turned to face Kazic, her face expressionless.  Before he could say anything else she held her hand up, forestalling the myriad questions that consumed him.  Slowly she walked over to him, her hands tenderly cupping her husband’s face, her eyes large.  What she said next shocked Kazic to silence and all questions flew from his head.

K’ompo…I’m pregnant.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 12, 2019, 11:41:19 AM
Okay!    Wow....

So, I saw the intervention by Saani coming ... but a baby?  Didn't see that one coming...

Interesting.   Very interesting... 


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 12, 2019, 07:54:52 PM
After all Kazics long years...taking your lead from the source of the chapter title Dutch...Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.

Damned indeed...that is a wretched and tragic ending for Anson I think the best that can be said was Saani killed him before his madness could spread into full blown action which in itself is tragic I think the man he had been would consider that a mercy in a grim sense. However Anson never wavered in one thing his determination to face his enemies on his terms and face to face he was uncompromising that was his strength and his failing - a complex very human character whose legacy will not be forgotten and death was emblematic of all the Vhal'dan have lost and become a blade in the back of a paranoid maniac....very well played Dutch.

And pregnancy...pretty sure that shouldn't be natural for twi'lek and Anzat...or given Saanis prior hysterectomy....ummm yeah some troubling signs in her behaviour....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 13, 2019, 04:11:37 PM
I had forgotten about the hysterectomy...  Sounds like Ari might have done more than just 'repair'...    :-/


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on April 29, 2019, 06:10:55 PM
After all Kazics long years...taking your lead from the source of the chapter title Dutch...Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.
I canNOT agree with this more, LSG!  PERFECT!  Not that I'm surprised, but I'm glad that you hit right to the undercurrent of Kazic's (many) flaws.  But much could be said the same of any of us (CERTAINLY me  ;)): who among us is without fault or foible?

I had forgotten about the hysterectomy...  Sounds like Ari might have done more than just 'repair'...    :-/
You are, of course, right Karm.  But you bring up a good point, one that I'd thought to do but for...whatever reason had decided against: I was going to make mention of Saani's hysterectomy in a more recent chapter to help keep it in the back of [the reader's] mind.  I THINK that I might have chosen to do otherwise so as not to call TOO much attention to it.

I don't know; perhaps I should have?  What do you guys think?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on April 29, 2019, 02:25:42 PM
You are, of course, right Karm.  But you bring up a good point, one that I'd thought to do but for...whatever reason had decided against: I was going to make mention of Saani's hysterectomy in a more recent chapter to help keep it in the back of [the reader's] mind.  I THINK that I might have chosen to do otherwise so as not to call TOO much attention to it.

I don't know; perhaps I should have?  What do you guys think?

Always a difficult thing, how to re animate a perhaps forgotten plot point, do you trust people to remember or risk hammering it too much.  I would've erred on subtle reminder simply due to length of the story in between when it was last mentioned (several story arcs back. something i had to deal with in FotA a lot - 66 chapters after all won't pretend i always got it right!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on April 30, 2019, 06:54:38 AM
I understand your dilemma, Dutch.  If you bring it up without a very good reason, you risk tipping your hand.  One way to deal with it might have been to build it into the reveal.   She tells Kazic she's pregnant, and in the shock of the moment someone says something like "but ... what about...  That's impossible!" or something, designed to jog the reader's memory.   Or just clarify it in the next section.   That way you don't ruin your reveal, those who did remember (LSG!  WOOT!) get the full fun of the impact, and the rest of us get an 'aha' moment in the next chapter.  :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on May 10, 2019, 10:00:48 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/iR7jFH/lightsaber.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iR7jFH)

Chapter 32: False Dawn

******************************
Vhal’Dan Congress
Baransu no Kage: Kazic Ovarug
 Arbiter: Saani K’aval
  Council of Balance:
  1st Speaker: Ryshhk K’rrmerii
  2nd Speaker: Issan de’Janneric
  3rd Speaker: Marc-Andr Drevifv
  4th Speaker: Lynorri Marh
  5th Speaker: Jorol Qui-Xot
  6th Speaker: Candurous Eriston
  7th Speaker: Sabawynn K’jek
******************************

The following months flew by, Kazic’s time taken up entirely between his duties as Kage, attempting to deduce a solution to the vergence caused by the Lus’phor Holocaust, all the while trying to rebuild Vhal’Ulhadv…and the Vhal’Dan Order.  During which, he was met with strong opposition by his Congress, who were themselves divided.  And while Kazic was a competent Kage, he was no Arkady Cyne.  By necessity, he’d worked to incorporate former enemies in Congress, both to show amnesty for past transgressions as well as fostering goodwill.  But the troubles of the past would not so easily give up the ghost and the remembrance of initial misgivings would often resurface.  

In one case, Kazic was shocked that his decision to appoint Ryshhk as 1st Speaker had created such turmoil: most Jedi respected the Wookie Gray Master and listened while it seemed that a very small but vocal minority—ironically those who were polar opposites could evidently agree on this one thing—thought and considered him a traitor.  Thankfully it was Ryshhk himself that solved that particular quandary: in front of the entire Assemblage and in Open Session, he challenged all that questioned his loyalty to the Order.  To all the Jedi within the Hall of Balance, it was a sobering event which silenced poisonous tongues and gave reassurance to many.

To Kazic, it was a bleak reminder of Anson’s invocation of P’Rae’Lior…and his summary indictment of Kazic’s actions.  As well as Anson’s whispered curse damning the Anzat with his dying breath.  In both, Kazic could not fault his brother in either instance…

It was during these times that Kazic felt most impotent; he now admitted that he was more a warrior rather than a politician.  That shouldn’t have surprised him; in fact, that was one of the biggest factors as to why he’d backed Arkady for Kage.  He’d known that his friend was more fit for the office than he’d ever be.  Kazic smirked.  …Same as now…  He held no illusions: he’d been a capable wartime Kage…but now, in peace…?  It seemed to him that in every single session, the Speakers could agree on nothing.  And he was unable to do anything about it.  In fact, often it was Saani who was able to offer equitable resolutions for the intra-Congress feuding.  

But it was still not enough for true solidarity.  And in the darkness of night—often well into the light of morning—he questioned whether or not he was even worthy as Kage.  He’d considered abdicating the office; after all, Saani was certainly more qualified than he ever was…but with the aftermath of the Lus’phor Holocaust and the vergence that it had caused, Kazic would never wish to foist that onto anyone’s shoulders, much less his wife’s.

But all of that seemed to pale in comparison to the fact that he and Saani were going to have a child.  And while this should have made him happy beyond expression—point of fact it did—Kazic was nevertheless plagued by apprehension.  Most telling: he hadn’t seen the daen nosi since Anson had died.  Partly as he was unsure of what this portended and partly because he was occupied with so much else, he did the worst thing possible: he ignored it.

As time wore on, Saani’s behavior did change, or at least became more noticeable: not only was she more prone to fits of anger but she had become aggressive.  Not assertive, aggressive.  Saani no longer projected an aura of serenity and patience; now, her temper was a thing of note amongst even the teidowans.  Whereas Saani had always been the most tranquil and approachable of people, now her temper was always just beneath the skin, one errant word away from a forthcoming scathing retort.

At first, Kazic had obtusely attributed it to the Lus’phor Holocaust vergence.  After all, every Jedi on Galtea was experiencing some symptoms; he thought perhaps that Saani was among those experiencing the worst of it.  Later, he thought that her pregnancy might be adversely affecting her.  Yet, he had not recalled Saani acting in such a manner when she’d been pregnant before… But again, Kazic thought that past events were the cause; after all, the last time had resulted in countless tears, sadness, and pain.  He couldn’t blame her if she was somewhat…short with him.  

But soon she was short with others.  And afterwards to almost everyone.

But then, he witnessed something that he thought he’d never see.  During one of Congress’ more…heated debates, Speaker Marc-Andr Drevifv was arguing…something (Kazic couldn’t even recall later) that was counter to Jorol’s position.  And while both men were passionate concerning their causes, they both showed mutual respect…until Drevifv made an offhanded remark which touched upon the deaths of Jorol’s two children and husband, Tsarvung.  Realizing his own faux pas, he opened his mouth to express his obvious remorse.

The words never left his lips; before he could speak, Saani was suddenly in front of him, seemingly teleporting from her Arbiter’s Chair, lightsaber in hand, ready to ignite, and held menacingly at Marc-Andr’s throat.  Those within the Hall gave a collective gasp while Saani whispered fiercely into the human’s ear.  Even with his superior hearing, Kazic could not make out any details.  

Whatever had transpired, later that day Marc-Andr made a very contrite—and public—apology.  When Kazic had immediately afterwards had asked Saani what had transpired, she would only coyly intimate that Jorol’s dead husband and children would never be mentioned again by anyone whom the dusky Speaker did not consider family…

But that night, Kazic decided to press his wife further.

Kanp’a…what was that about?” He asked as soon as they’d entered their shared apartments.  He began to stroke his black goatee, concern evident upon his face.  With remarkable timing, he felt the beginnings of a migraine starting from behind his eyes.  …Damned vergence… He thought, his fingers massaging his temples ineffectually.

Saani seemed to continue to make light of the incident, divesting herself of her boots while heading further into the atrium and grabbing a drink.  “I would not suffer traitors like Marc-Andr to speak lies about our friends and family.” She laughed.  Sauntering up to her husband, she put her arms around his neck, pulling his head down to hers.  It seemed to Kazic that Saani vacillated between extreme bouts of anger…and excessive sexuality.  It was disconcerting to say the least.  Often times, his flared nostrils would almost…itch wasn’t the right description.  Like a phantom pain or an unseen presence: always felt but never made physically manifest.  But whatever it was, it always coincided with Saani’s more…carnal desires.

Unwavering, Kazic pulled away, a frown starting to spread upon Saani’s lips.  “Not that.  Or rather, not just that: you looked as if you were actually going to kill him.  You were that close to igniting your saber.”  He gently but firmly grabbed her shoulders.  By the Maker, his head hurt… “Saani…I’ve never seen you so…quick to anger, so full of rage.”  He thought back to when he’d looked down upon Saani’s lifeless body, Valens holding out the small yet deceptively heavy black orb—the price for Saani’s life—towards him.  And he’d accepted, absent of what the actual cost would be.  Or what it would mean for Saani herself…

Kanp’a…I…I think something is very wrong with you.  Please, please let the Vhal’Dan doctors look at you.”  Even as he said it, he knew that the only people who could possibly help were those that he had already sent away.

Not that he could contact them.  Kazic had found Ari’s gift of the communications orb gone from their room when he and Saani had finally made it back.  And as for Saani’s…J’Nessah had had it upon her person when she’d been killed in the explosion.  Not that such would’ve destroyed the blackstone artifact; of that Kazic had no doubt.  But the events of the day had prevented him from recovering the orb from the Lus’phor hanger…

And then, the planet had exploded.

No…no, there was no way for him to contact Ari…let alone Valens…no way to ask about what had gone so incredibly wrong…

As if thinking about it influenced Saani’s mood, she suddenly turned from demure to irritated.  “‘Doctors?’  There is nothing wrong…except that I now see that even my own husband has it out for me.”  Her eyes flared, the sclera red and bloodshot.  “But why should I expect any different?  You entreat with our enemies, welcoming them back into the fold while any notion of justice is ignored all in favor for your precious peace…”  She began to shout.  “Kazic, those that have DIED would be furious that you’ve become so cowardly, showing your throat to stave off even the hint of dissent!”  Her face adopted a look of contempt…and disgust.  “How could anyone believe that you could lead the Vhal’Dan?”

Kazic took a step backwards, as if hit by a physical blow, his migraine all but forgotten.  Saani had NEVER behaved in such a fashion, never spoke down to him, never…hurt him like that.  Ever.  Anguish, anger, and a forlorn pain that he’d never felt before ripped through him.  “…Why would you ever say that…to me…”  As he spoke quietly, Kazic saw that either his words or the look upon his fallen face had penetrated Saani’s rage.

Her purple eyes flashed, regret overcoming her countenance, concern such as she’d shared with him in the past pouring from her, both in her emotions and the Force.  Reaching a tentative hand towards him, she touched his shoulder.  “I…I’m sorry, K’ompo.  I…I was angry and I took it out on you.”  She wrapped her arms around her husband’s broad shoulders, laying a cheek upon his back.  “I’m sorry, Kazic…”

Memories of Kasah rebounded in his mind, her angry attestations accusing him of apathy… of Ari and the look of shame upon her face…of Anson and his final words damning him of betrayal… All of it, piercing his heart, cutting to the bone…into his very soul.

And all of it was NOTHING compared to what he felt now when Saani had uttered those words.

Stepping away from his wife, Kazic moved as if in quicksand.  “I…I understand, Kanp’a.”  He felt numb.  “I…I need some time.  I…I’ll be out.  Don’t wait up for me.”  The words came from his lips, mechanical and monotone.  And with that he donned his hooded robes and left.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Uncaring of where he was, Kazic boarded the hyperloop, sitting inconspicuously with his hood up among the few passengers that came and went from the various stops as it sped upon maglev tracks that encircled the city.  In some areas, there were necessary detours resulting from the destruction wrought by the Civil War but throughout it all, Kazic saw nothing.  Not only had his migraine returned with interest but, lost in his own head, the Anzat painfully mulled over the many mistakes that he’d made.  

But his thoughts always returned to his biggest concern: Saani.  

Even as the twilight of evening was replaced by the blackness of midnight, Vhal’Ulhadv’s cityscape remained bright, illuminating the city proper, the surrounding countryside, and—as it seemed to Kazic—his own trepidation.  He now believed that Saani had come back…wrong.  Everything that had happened…he knew that he’d been ignoring all of the evidence.  Now, he could no longer hide the truth from himself.  

Sighing, he finally felt as if an invisible weight had been lifted from his shoulders.  Now that he’d admitted it to himself, he found himself convinced…or at least hoping that there was a way to help Saani.  Crossing his arms, he considered: as Saani was resurrected with the Force, then perhaps it was to the Force that he should look for a solution.  He smirked; Valens had been true to his word: he’d taken as payment many of the Vhal’Dan artifacts.  

However…

However, Ryshhk had told Kazic about how he’d absconded with those Force relics that Anson had taken, or at least many of them.  The Wookie Speaker had been reticent to do so, but upon talking with his uncle Yshhrk (who was himself a powerful Jedi), he knew that he had to do what was right for the Order.  And while Kazic had been given a brief list concerning which artifacts Ryshhk had saved, he did not know what each and every relic was supposed to do.  Or could...

Feeling somewhat better, Kazic now knew where he was headed to next.  Consulting the datapad attached to his seat, he typed in the pertinent information before sitting back on the aircouch and absently rubbing his temples again.

With a wistful smile, he said a silent prayer, one giving hope that he’d be able to help Saani with…whatever it was that ailed her.

               <<<<< >>>>>

(https://thumb.ibb.co/d08va8/star-wars-the-old-republic-new-storyline.jpg) (https://ibb.co/d08va8)

Ryshhk was in the middle of his meditations, offering gratitude to the Trees and their spirits, when he heard the organic chime from his front door sound.  Collecting himself, he rose and made his way through his comfortable apartments, the interior mirroring the arboreal setting of his native Kashyyyk.  Like many of the Vhal’Dan, Ryshhk had tried to create a “home away from home” when he’d originally come to Galtea.  Pursuant to that, within the atrium was a tall, thick tree, originally grown from a sapling given to him from his Uncle Yshhrk.  He smiled, knowing that his uncle would be proud of the Lineage Tree that the sapling had become…just as he himself had matured.  A pain lanced through his head as his smile spread, bringing him violently back to the here-and-now.  Ryshhk hoped that the Council of Balance would be able to figure out how to counter the vergence; if even the most conservative rumors were true, the symptoms were getting worse.  He could personally attest to that.  The front chimed again, reminding the Wookie where he’d been headed.  Answering the door, he came face-to-face with the Kage.

[Good evening, Kage], he said in a low timbre.  [What can I do for you]?

“Sp…Ryshhk…” Kazic’s face was impassive but he smelled…pensive.  And below that: pain. “I…I need your help.”

[Of course.  Please come in].  Ryshhk moved to the side to allow his Kage entrance, his curiosity piqued.  Keying the door closed, he led the Anzat into the comfortable, wooded atrium.  After offering the most comfortable seat (as was custom) to his Kage, Ryshhk rounded the organic-looking table and, before taking his own seat, gently and reverently touched the Lineage Tree taking up the entire wall of the atrium.  Sitting opposite Kazic, Ryshhk inquired, [What is it you wish to ask of me, Kage]?

“Ryshhk, please: ‘Kazic.’”

The Wookie nodded.  [Of course.  Kazic]

Nodding imperceptibly, Kazic spoke softly, his smell becoming…careful.  More specifically, “cautiously optimistic” Ryshhk would say.  “Ryshhk…I need to examine the Force artifacts that you rescued from Anson’s camp.”  A sudden pungent spike in smell—remorse?  regret?—overpowered Ryshhk’s nose before Kazic continued.  “My wif—Saani, she needs help.  I think that perhaps one of the relics that you saved might be able to do so.”  The Anzat’s red eyes were intense, mirroring his smell.  And full of pain, pain that Kazic no longer hid, either by choice or by capitulation.  The Wookie could relate; his own head was throbbing.  As to his Kage’s request…

Ryshhk slowly sat back, exhaling.  It was clear to him that Kazic had come to him not as his Kage but rather as his colleague.  He took all of two seconds to consider.

[I will help you.  And your wife; it’s the least that I can do for someone who is so honorable…] His memory of Saani sparing his life always fresh within his thoughts.  He did not know if any of the artifacts would be able to help Kazic but Ryshhk was intent to help out in any way that he possibly could.

As the black of night turned first gray and then blue, the light of day seemed to mirror the promise of a better future.  And as Kazic left Ryshhk’s apartments, he felt the load upon his shoulders lessened.  He smiled despite the migraine that still lingered.  But it was to be a false dawn, one full of broken hopes.

And of worse things to come.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on May 10, 2019, 08:50:06 PM
So Saani is both the most capable member of the new Congress...and the most unstable... aggressive, sexualised but also sharp minded....sounds disturbingly familiar...as to Kazics solution...force artefacts are notoriously unstable and unpredictable... especially with the Lus'phor backwash too...I fear he is looking for a quick fix that will only make things worse a potentially very dangerous rabbit hole to keep going down.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on May 12, 2019, 05:59:22 PM
I agree with LSG.  I fear that the worst tragedy - at least on a personal level - is yet to come...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on June 10, 2019, 08:31:47 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/nCMGUc/Screenshot-2012-08-01-10-53-54-774380.jpg) (https://ibb.co/nCMGUc)
Chapter 33: A Winter of Discontent

“Saani!  Kazic!  Please, please come in out of the cold.  Bétee, please help you aunt and uncle with their things.”  Jorol’s dusky face lit up with a smile, an occurrence that happened more often as of late.  Not that Kazic could blame him after everything that he’d been through.  Still: seeing his friend happy was enough to somewhat alleviate his migraine…and his heavy heart. 

When Kazic had made his way home the night of their incident, he had told Saani of his intent and the fact that Ryshhk had access to relics that the Aethans had not known about.  It seemed to act like a balm for Saani: her temperament relaxed and she was more like herself since her resurrection.  And for the first time since they’d both learned that they were pregnant, they felt like a family.

He and Ryshhk had then spent the last month scouring all of the Force artifacts remaining to the Vhal’Dan, most importantly: those that the Wookie Speaker had absconded with.  Initially, things looked promising.  But from Naga Sadow’s Corusca gem Holocron to a plinth-like Rakatan Mind Trap, a small black orb in its base, neither Kazic nor Ryshhk found anything remotely useful that would help Saani…or the Vhal’Dan for that matter. 

And it had broken Kazic’s heart when he told Saani.  Holding each other in their arms, it was Saani that reassured Kazic, telling him that everything would be fine.  He just needed to have faith. 

But Kazic’s faith had already been shaken down to his core.  And instead of heeding the warning of the missing daen nosi, he relied upon the graces of his family…those left to him.

As he and Saani entered into Jorol’s Speaker apartments doffing their heavy robes, D’arial come down the stairs, a smile upon her own dark face.  “Cháchee!”  She hugged Saani tightly before turning to Kazic.  “Chaaché!”  Even as she embraced the Anzat, Kazic was amazed at how tall she’d gotten.

“It’s so good to see you, D’arial.”  Handing her the wrapped houseguest present that he’d brought, Kazic stepped back and looked at Jorol.  “By the Maker…when did she become this strapping, young woman!”  Like all Epicanthix, D’arial had shot up in height upon reaching puberty.  In that, she favored her father Tsarvung.  And Jorol loved her all the more because of it.  Mirthfully, Kazic winked, his spirits rising further at hearing Saani’s pleasant laughter.

Jorol’s smile turned proud as he wrapped his arm around his daughter.  “Kazic, she’s always been such a grown up.  And now, just this past week…” He paused dramatically for effect, “…D’arial passed her Trial of the Dragon Cave.”  He kissed her cheek, the two of them of a height.  “Isn’t that right, Bétee?” When he used the Epicant term of endearment for “daughter,” Jorol’s face was absolutely bursting with pride.

“Congratulations, D’arial!  Kazic and I are also so proud of you!”  Saani gave the taller young woman another hug.  “And on that note: I have something for you to commemorate the occasion.” Handing the young woman her gift, the Twi’lek master continued talking to D’arial as she strode with her goddaughter into the Atrium, leaving Kazic alone with Jorol.  When the Anzat focused on his friend, he noticed that he was vigorously rubbing his temples.

“Migraines?” Kazic asked.  He could relate; his own were becoming excruciating.  Bacta did nothing and even Force Healing was becoming ineffective.  Yet another argument that went ‘round in circles in Open Sessions.  In Closed…it was even worse.  No longer limited to raised voices, it had almost come to open violence during the last closed Congressional Assembly.  Only by the collective force of will that a united Kazic, Saani, Ryshhk had presented forestalled the incensed Speakers from bodily attacking one another.  And they all knew the culprit.

The vergence created from the Lus’phor Holocaust.

And it was only getting worse.  At first, Kazic had thought that it would only affect powerful Jedi.  But time had proven him wrong: the first signs of discomfort had been reported by some koawans only a few weeks prior.  And then three days ago several teidowans began experiencing horrifying nightmares coupled with mild headaches.  The only consolation that Kazic had was that those respectively weaker weren’t as severely affected…yet.  Time would tell the truth of his deductions but Kazic suspected that every day that passed all of the Vhal’Dan Jedi would develop worse and more agonizing symptoms.  He’d been talking to Ryshhk about those very worries the other night (along with…other concerns) and was the main reason as to why he and Saani were visiting Jorol.  Well, that and he wanted to spend some quality time with his friend and his goddaughter D’arial.  Kazic’s good humor turned, concern and responsibility weighing heavily upon him.  Jorol must’ve felt the change.

“Still no luck with Biomed Sector?  Or Force R&D?” Jorol asked although he already suspected the answer.

Kazic mildly shook his head; any more vigorous a movement would serve to enflame his already pounding head.  “One and all they are at a loss.”  He exhaled, despondent.  “And after last night, so am I.”  His red eyes drilled into Jorol’s dark brown.  “Jorol…I’m going to institute Bellicose Protocols…but this time, we’ll have to abandon Galtea entirely.”  It had been the solution…the decision that he’d dreaded to even contemplate.  Now that he’d voiced it, Kazic felt even more morose.

Jorol looked poleaxed.  “…Surely not…there must be something that we can do…” But even as he spoke, the conviction in his voice lost strength just as his words lost their volume.  “I’m sorry my friend.”  At a loss, he came over to put a comforting hand upon Kazic’s shoulder.

Smiling down at Jorol, the Anzat looked wistful.  “Don’t be.  We’ve been at this for months…and with nothing to show except that we know that the vergence affects almost a quarter of the Galtean orbit in its entirety…and that N’uxx is no longer in a stable trajectory.”  By the Maker his head was killing him… “I’ve ordered the planetwide evacuation of N’uxx.  At least we have time…”  Kazic closed his eyes, inhaling the cold air through his nose.

This damned war.  He’d been such a fool, a blind, intractable fool.  It wasn’t enough that they’d lost so many people on both sides—peers, friends, family (…Anson…brother…)—but now with everything else they’d lost not one but two planets, Lus’phor and soon to be N’uxx.

Kazic grimaced.  …No you bastard… He cursed himself for what seemed like the thousandth time.  …No, THREE planets… Regardless of all of the collective brainpower of the Vhal’Dan scientists, the remaining Forcesages, hell, even with them scouring every single holocron that they had left to them…

Despite it all…Galtea was lost to the Vhal’Dan.

Kazic stroked his goatee, thinking he’d shed a tear of loss and regret if he thought that it would help…and if he thought that the Maker would listen to him.  …Damned bastard… He thought again in self-rebuke.  Well…at least the non-Forceuser population was fairly unaffected…if you considered a three month-long chaotic “season” in which storms fought with drought in a daily tumultuous cycle that upended the normal progression of weather as Galtea traversed through the vergence along the ecliptic… Yes, “unaffected.”  But for every single Forceuser: the longer that they were on Galtea, the worse the symptoms attacking each one became.

Kazic shook his head.  It could and would get worse, of that he had no doubt; he just hoped that whatever symptoms each Jedi had that they wouldn’t become permanent.  “…I’m not looking forward to the fact that we’ll be doing the same for Galtea… Soon…very soon…” His voice trailed off.  And when he looked at his friend, he could tell by the look on Jorol’s face that he was absolutely certain that Kazic would have to do exactly that as well.

“Do you have any ideas about where to relocate the Vhal’Dan?” He asked, his tone reflective of the fact that he considered it already a foregone conclusion.  That was one of the reasons that Kazic appreciated and relied upon Jorol’s advice in Congress: he was nothing if not a realist.  A trait that had been reinforced by the loss of his husband and children.  Not for the first time, Kazic commiserated with his friend, angry that he had been unable to do more for him and D’arial…

“…Yes.”  He inhaled slowly.  “I have many groups out reconnoitering.”  He crossed his arms, the dark gray tunics pulling taut across his chest. 

“Any luck so far?” Jorol’s tone betrayed his incredulity.  Kazic’s eyes focused, having noticed the change in his friend’s demeanor.  He gave a wry grin.

“Point of fact: a few.  One in particular looks promising.  It’s the old Temple on Ke—” Kazic suddenly cut off, a scream from within interrupting him.  He ran deeper into the apartments, right behind Jorol and into the Atrium.  There, both men stopped abruptly, disbelieving their own eyes.

D’arial lay on the ground, her hand tentatively touching her cheek and jaw, already discoloring and swelling from where she’d received a blow to her face.  And although there were unshed tears in her eyes, she did not look angry, only hurt and confused.

And standing over her with her hands clenched into fists, Saani loomed angrily, fury contorting her face as she looked down at her goddaughter.

“D’arial!” Jorol ran over to his daughter, wrapping arms around her protectively.  At the same time, Kazic approached his wife, gently but firmly moving Saani back away from D’arial.

Kanp’a…what happened?” Even though his words were quiet, Kazic’s voice seemed to echo in the Atrium.  And for the first time since he’d entered the room, Saani’s eyes turned from D’arial, looking up at her husband.  When she spoke, her clipped words were full of rage.

“…She…she…gave me…and…and knowing what happened…” Kazic couldn’t make sense of Saani’s words.  As he gently rubbed her arms, he turned from Saani and addressed the woman on the floor.

“D’arial, are you OK?  What happened?” Kazic noticed that Jorol was staring at Saani as if he didn’t recognize her.  Kazic could unfortunately relate…

As her father helped her to her feet, D’arial answered, her confused gaze lingering on Saani.  “…We were exchanging gifts.  When Cháchee Saani gave me a Zsajhira silk winter-dress, everything was fine.  But when she opened my gift to her…she…she became suddenly angry…”  D’arial suddenly looked at Kazic.  “Chaaché…did I…did I do something wrong?”  Jorol was already directing Healing flows into his daughter, his hand tenderly rubbing her back as he did so.

“Of course not, D’arial.” Even as he spoke, his eyes locked onto his wife’s fists, or rather, what she clutched within one of them.  Silently, he reached down, gently prying Saani’s fingers from the object gripped within her hand.  And Kazic understood immediately.  As he held the object up for Jorol to see, Saani began to speak, her voice sounding absentminded and pensive.

“…Why…why K’ompo…would she want to…to hurt me like that?  Why?”  All of Saani’s rage seemed a thing of the past, her face blank as if she were staring at something over a kilometer away.

“…Saani…” Something in his tone made Saani focus upon Kazic, her eyes shrewd, clear, and—most importantly—aware.  She blinked, suddenly noticing Jorol and D’arial staring at her.  She squinted, a moment of confusion suddenly giving way to lucidity.  Her entire demeanor changed; as Saani’s face fell, she rushed over to D’arial, her hands held up tentatively.

Even though she briefly flinched, to her credit D’arial kept her composure.  And as Saani wrapped her arms around the taller young woman, after only a moment’s pause, she returned the hug in kind.  “Oh D’arial, I am so, SO sorry!  I…I don’t know what came over me!  Please, please forgive me, Dear One!” Saani’s voice was racked with her quiet sobbing and full of remorse.

As Saani kept repeating herself, each time asking for D’arial’s forgiveness, her goddaughter kept nodding her head, quietly saying, “It’s OK, Cháchee, it’s OK…” as if she were the adult and Saani the child.

Jorol stood by Kazic, looking askance at the Anzat, his eyes focused on the object clutched in his hand.  “…Kazic…what’s wrong with Saani?  Do you know what that was about?  What is that in your hand?”

Kazic’s voice was monotone, his attention on Saani even though he addressed Jorol.  “I am sorry, my friend.  Saani…Saani is…sick.  She’s not herself.  Please, please know that she did not mean to hurt D’arial; her actions are…not her own…” He trailed off, lost in thought.

“…I understand, Kazic.  But…what is that in your hand?  Do you know why Saani would…react in such a way because of it?” Jorol pressed.

Kazic turned his gaze from Saani and back to Jorol.  “Sorry.  Yes; it seems that D’arial made Saani a Lineage Bead.  It’s meant to be joined to a Kalikori.”  Jorol nodded: a Kalikori was a revered family artifact in Twi’leki culture, passed down from generation to generation.  Saani had thought that with her hysterectomy, her Kalikori would become an “orphaned” relic in Twi’lek society, her and Kazic having no heirs.  But when Saani had finally announced that she was pregnant, that was no longer the case.  Jorol’s face scrunched in apparent confusion.  Kazic held the bead up, explaining.  “D’arial inscribed four glyphs upon this, each representing a member of Saani’s family as per Twi’leki tradition.”  He indicated each glyph with his index finger.  “This is Saani.  This is me.  This is our new baby.  And this…” Kazic finger hovered over the glyph, tears threatening to fall.  When next he spoke, he did so in a whisper.  “…and this is Aresaea.”

Slowly Jorol nodded.  “I see… And you think that…this(?)…” He gestured to the glyph, “…is what set Saani off?”

Kazic nodded.  “I do.  I’m sorry, my friend.  It’s not an excuse…and I shouldn’t have brought Saani, her being…sick.  But…I had hoped that seeing you and D’arial would…would help her… I cannot express enough to you—and D’arial—how sorry I am.”  He looked at D’arial.  “Please forgive me.  And Saani; it had nothing to do with you, Dear One.”

D’arial nodded, a patient look on her face.  That she got from her father Jorol.  “It’s OK, Chaaché.  I…I forgive you.  Both of you.” She said the last as she stared down at Saani.

Kazic and Jorol joined them, arms intermingling.  The silence of the Atrium enveloped them, at least for a few minutes.  Disengaging from them, Saani nodded to D’arial and Jorol, wiping her eyes.  “I’m so sorry.”  And even though both of them voiced their forgiveness, Saani still looked haunted.

As Kazic and Saani left Jorol’s apartments, Saani clung to him, controlled fear evident in her voice.  “Kazic…I’m scared.  I…I don’t know what to do…” Her breath misted in the cold air.

Kazic stared into her purple eyes.  “I am, too Kanp’a.  But I won’t ever give up; we’ll figure out something…” Heading back home, Kazic continued to reassure Saani.  But even as he heard himself speak the words, they sounded hollow and false in his own ears.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on June 10, 2019, 10:07:37 AM
Things are not getting better...the war might be over but the aftermath seems if anything worse...having to abandon Galtea is a terrible admission of defeat and guilt for Kazic...but Saani's descent it even worse for him, how much of her behavior is her renewal how much the effect of the vergence in the Force hitting them all  -until she's off of Galtea no one will be able to tell. Once more the impact of civil war hits home in this tale, even when they've 'won' everyone has still completely lost.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on June 11, 2019, 06:31:16 AM
This is certainly a tragic tale for Kazic.   And the thought that keeps tickling the back of my mind: This all started with a dying Kazic making a confession.   Just what is he confessing to?   As horrible as everything that has happened to date is, it would be generally known (outside of the Aethan involvement,m perhaps, but even then it would be in records that Kazic was aided) so just what is coming?

I almost don't want to know....


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on July 26, 2019, 10:22:48 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/idOONH/Zannah-Do-Ecropped.jpg) (https://ibb.co/idOONH)(https://thumb.ibb.co/c87Pwc/1632208-akku.jpg) (https://ibb.co/c87Pwc)
Final Intermezzo

Another coughing fit—this one the worst yet—racked Kazic’s wasted body, threatening to double him over.  Calmly, D’Aylanna doubled her efforts, the Healing that flowed from her and into the emaciated Anzat seemingly the only thing keeping him alive.

And Kazic knew it.  …I…not much longer…Maker, please… Kazic’s eyes were tightly shut, tears running from the corners.  …I…needs must…just a while more…please… Another choking convulsion shook him, taking the breath from his body…

…For but a moment.  Gulping a deep breath, Kazic’s lungs filled with sweet oxygen, his coughs quieting and body able to relax once more.  All the while D’Aylanna’s small, gentle hands never once stopped stroking his matted sweat-soaked white hair.  With her Force ministrations, Kazic felt himself given a wellspring of vigor…like the final burst of a star going nova: brilliant, incredible…and all too ephemeral.  But Kazic knew: it would be enough.

“…Thank you,  Nu’rus.” Even his voice had changed: immediately it reminded D’Aylanna of her Father in his prime.  Strong.  Steadfast.  Inexorable… She fought back tears, not because she was ashamed—far from it—but because she wanted to spare Kazic the lamentation that his dying was causing her.  The two of them shared a look, one that said that she would keep him from more pain and pretend serenity; meanwhile he would pretend to believe her.  He knew it for the lie that it was…

…And loved D’Aylanna all the more for it.

Inhaling deeply, Kazic began talking again, his baritone timbre returned.  “Over the next month, Saani kept on having more episodes, each increasingly worse.  It was all that we could do to try to stave off the worst, keep it secret…” His white moustaches curled in a wry grin.  “Of course, it was also among the worst-kept.  But with the symptoms resulting from the Lus’phor Holocaust worsening, it instead took priority.”  Kazic’s voice trailed off but his eyes were no longer rheumy.  His skeletal hand clasped D’Aylanna’s, his grip tight.  “All members of Congress finally agreed with what I’d been telling them for weeks: Galtea was lost.  The only good news was that several planets had been found that were viable for relocation…”

D’Aylanna could feel the tremendous loss radiating from the Anzat.  For Kazic Galtea had been his home for almost 400 years, to say nothing of the Vhal’Dan.  And while she’d never herself visited the planet, D’Aylanna had heard the rumors concerning the vergence that even now adversely affected any Forceuser visiting Galtea.  But she had another question to ask.

“Father, what about Saani?  You’ve only mentioned her twice before this evening, always with the sparest of details…and never once have you spoken of any children.  Did…did she die in childbirth along with the baby?” D’Aylanna’s blue lips pursed after voicing the interrogative.  The possibility of Kazic even having children had never once occurred to her in all of their years together…

If the Anzat’s demeanor had been despondent before, it became utterly miserable now.  As he sat momentarily silent, his red eyes stared off into the distance, perceiving…something that only Kazic could see.  When next he spoke, his voice was still robust but it came out just above a whisper.  “…No.  No, Nu’rus, neither Saani nor the baby died; quite the opposite: they were both as physically healthy as could be.”  He fixed his gaze upon D’Aylanna.  “…Physically…” Again his voice trailed off, contemplative.  

For many moments, Kazic sat completely motionless but for the sporadic rising and falling of his thin chest.  D’Aylanna worried that the Force would claim the ancient Anzat before he finished his tale.  However he surprised her again, first speaking slowly but as he continued each word came from his lips faster, stronger, and fiercer.  Incredibly, his presence in the Force seemed to flare as well.  Patiently she listened, captivated with every word.

“We…we had a boy, beautiful, wonderful, full of life… Well when she gave birth, Saani’s…‘episodes’ suddenly stopped.  We both thought it a miracle…which is what we thought of our son.  He was our miracle, never expected but immediately cherished.”  Kazic smiled in memory, a proud look upon his face.  “It was Saani that came up with the perfect name: Lor-Riou K’aval-Ovarug.  You see, in Twi’Leki, ‘lor-riou’ means ‘miraculous’ or ‘wonderous.’  And he was…was our k’Ab’o…”

Despite the gravity of the situation D’Aylanna smiled at Kazic’s recollections, the beauty of the moment infectious.  The Hapan Master was familiar with the Twi’Leki terms of endearment for a baby, “k’Ab’o” for a boy, “k’Ob’a” for a girl.  

Her smile faltered.  But…but she’d never once heard Kazic so much as intimate that he’d had a son…well, one that he’d actually fathered.  After all, her own Zearic was his son, if adoptive…

As if reading D’Aylanna’s mind, Kazic nodded, his face looking pained.  “Yes, Nu’rus.  Lor-Riou was my son, the only genetic offspring I’ve ever had in my long life…” He slowly shook his head, tears falling down his cheeks anew.  Yet, he continued.  “Even though I had lost my brother…had lost my home…Lor-Riou gave me hope.  Hope that Saani would be alright, hope that the Vhal’Dan would persevere, would live…hope that…that I would be a good father.”  His face contorted in anguish.  “…Maker send that I would be a better parent to Lor-Riou than I was brother to Anson… But…but I was never given the chance…”

D’Aylanna continued to gently stroke her adoptive father’s head, heart going out in commiseration for Kazic’s suffering.  “Please, Father, do not be so hard upon yourself.  I…I’m sure that you did everything that you could.”  In her mind, she could envision a funeral for little Lor-Riou, the problematic and incompatable genetics of a Twi’Lek/Anzat hybrid undoubtedly the cause.

Kazic slowly shook his head.  “No…no, you do not understand.”  Gritting his teeth, Kazic began to sob.

Truly at a loss, D’Aylanna nevertheless patiently waited for him to continue, the Force surrounding them both…almost a testament of the life that they shared.  It served to bring D’Aylanna solace; for Kazic, it was stark reminder of his greatest failures.

His voice shaky, Kazic continued.  “…No, Nu’rus…as I said, you do not understand…” He suddenly barked a scornful laugh, but his disgust was with himself.  “How could you?  I couldn’t have understood it myself…at least not at that time.” Kazic’s lips pulled back in a rictus grin, one without humor.  “…And not until it was too late…Maker damn me…” He said the last in a vehement whisper.

Determined, D’Aylanna pressed.  “Father, please…what happened?  To Saani?  To Lor-Riou?” Her dark eyes were full of concern and curiosity.

Abruptly, Kazic stopped crying, slowly exhaling while his face became utterly impassive.  When next he spoke, D’Aylanna involuntarily shivered, the Anzat’s tone as cold and devoid as the grave.  “‘What happened’ you ask?  The worst possible outcome of all…” His eyes drilled into D’Aylanna’s.

“I lost everything…” Kazic’s voice was filled with acrimony.  “…I lost everything…and lived.”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on July 27, 2019, 04:40:11 AM
Now it seems we move to the final act...I agree with D'Alyanna such a hybrid really shouldn't survive long...but then it's wasn't just Twi'lek and Anzat was it....Twi'lek physical desire plus Anzat feeding instinct and strength combined with a touch of Aethan primalism from the healing that made Saani fertile again... there are a lot of ways that could go very very badly - losing Galtea and thousands of Vhal dan in the war is sounding like a warm up...another strong step forward in the narrative Dutch.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on July 29, 2019, 09:47:30 AM
Agreed.   I have a suspicion on what is coming, but I will keep it to myself.  But you're right, that could be a very bad combination.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on August 14, 2019, 09:33:04 AM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/d08va8/star-wars-the-old-republic-new-storyline.jpg) (https://ibb.co/d08va8)(https://thumb.ibb.co/iYOX2x/Volfe-Karkko-CSWE.jpg) (https://ibb.co/iYOX2x)
Chapter 34: A Knife to the Heart

[Kage, the transports have successfully arrived and the prefabricated structures are going up surrounding the Old Temple]. Ryshhk announced as he entered Kazic’s office in the Temple of Balance.  

“Thank you, Speaker.” Kazic said in clipped tones.  His head was killing him, the migraines the worst they’d ever been.  Still: it was the best news that could be expected.

After months of argument, bickering, and concessions, the Vhal’Dan had finally agreed that Galtea was lost to them, the symptoms of the Lus’phor Holocaust now drastically affecting every Force-user, from teidowan to koawan to maenowan—indeed from initiate to Kage—in the worst possible ways.  Migraines, horrific visions, and nightmares were endemic.

And those were just the “standard.”  Some complaints of a more serious conditions had surfaced: a wasting sickness that was now associated with the vergence affected every 1 in 16.  Many admitted to suffering from paranoid delusions.  Still others had fallen into comas.  But the real impetus driving the migration from Galtea were the three deaths that had occurred as a direct result of the Thought Bomb’s backwash.

The three casualties were as disparate as could be: one a koawan human female, another a Verpine maenowan, and the third was the 6th Speaker himself, Candurous Eriston.  One and all they’d complained of symptoms, none of them particularly more severe than any other…until it was too late.

In the hours preceding their deaths, they’d lost their vision, capacity for speech, and finally their mobility, followed by violent seizures.  After a couple of hours, they would lose consciousness…dying shortly thereafter without any further display.

Congress had been quick to accept Kazic’s evacuation plan and on that same day, once again he instituted Bellicose Protocols.  But unlike his wartime implementation where he’d hope to safeguard the planet, Kazic now fought to save the remaining Vhal’Dan Jedi.  His people…

…What I should have done from the start… Not for the first time did Kazic damn himself a fool, once for being intractable in the face of Anson’s opposition, twice for becoming the architect of the destruction of much of the Order… Oh, no one had ever accused him of doing so…at least not when they thought they would be overheard…but…

But Kazic condemned himself for such.

However, as much as he castigated himself, he knew that he still had a job to do, one that he would not foist upon anyone else.  The responsibility was his, he would do everything to rectify the situation.  And on that point, he’d sent out several detachments in order to find the Vhal’Dan a new home.

Thank the Maker they had, and with no time to spare.

“Speaker, please instruct the Collegium that every master, maenowan, and koawan is to assist the teidowans and initiates with their preparations.  I want everyone off-planet by the end of the week.” Kazic knew that his people would do just that; they all had compelling motives for alacrity.  Unconsciously he began to rub his temples.  “Any other news?” He added after a moment.

Ryshhk’s low rumbling reverberated through the room.  [Yes, Kage.  Both good and bad].  He paused, consulting the datapad engulfed within his enormous hand.  [The good: there have been rich mineral deposits detected within the mountains adjacent to the Old Temple.  Not as abundant as those on Nux’x but still more than plentiful for the Order’s needs; several centuries by the most conservative supply estimates].

“Truly good news indeed…” Kazic’s monotone voice was incongruous with his excitement. …Damned migraines… He cursed.  “…And the bad?” He asked, slowly inhaling as he took his hands from the sides of his head and began to stroke his black goatee.

[All attempts to open lines of communication with the rebel Vhal’Dan have been rebuffed.  Indeed, the channels previously used are no longer viable].  Controlled anger seemed to radiate from the large Wookie.  [We do not even know if anyone is listening…]  Kazic could feel the frustration that came off of Ryshhk in waves.  He could empathize; he had tried time and again to bring them back into the fold.  But, to a being, they refused to accept him as Kage.

Kazic had had a thought concerning such but wasn’t given the opportunity to explore it further.  Instead, he continued upon his path thinking to spare anyone else the trauma of the office.  “It’s not your fault, Ryshhk.” He closed his eyes, running his hands through his hair while absently fixing the leather statim holding his topknot.  “It’s me that they refuse to listen to.  Damned fools…”

He said the last in whispered exasperation.  Kazic knew that the rebels were suffering the same effects as his own people.  Would that he could make them listen… But even as such thoughts circled his mind, he could not fault them—at least not entirely—for their reticence.

“‘Maker, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’” Kazic intoned, reciting the old Shifalan axiom that his teacher and mentor Master Stryka Annix had taught him.  It helped him to regain his center and instead of focusing on the negative, emphasized the positive…at least for him.

It also reminded him of the two pieces of great news that he could hold onto.  The first was the Vhal’Dan’s new home.  Already properly terraformed, Ossus and its moons were home to many ancient Jedi structures and artifacts.  As for the Order’s new planet, Kazic had decided upon the moon of Kewda…for many reasons.  In addition to the nearby mineral and ore mountain veins, there was an old temple that had been abandoned during the Mandalorian Wars…along with a true rarity.

The Guardian.

Made after the Hundred-Year Darkness, the Guardian protected the Old Temple on Kewda by disrupting any and all Dark Force energies within a 17 kilometer radius from the enormous statue.  And like the Jedi of old, the Vhal’Dan would be more than welcome in the Temple, a home to give them succor and respite…especially after Galtea.

Kazic also desperately hoped that the Guardian would help with those suffering from the symptoms of the Lus’phor Holocaust.  With that, unfortunately, only time would tell…

But the source of Kazic’s happiness (despite his migraines) was the newest addition to his family: his and Saani’s son, Lor-Riou.  Even thinking of him now made the Anzat smile, his headache abating…at least a little bit.

“Sorry Speaker, I didn’t catch your last…?” Kazic’s attention returned fully to the present.

Ryshhk made a deep bass sound as he exhaled while he eased his shoulders from the formal posture that he always adopted when addressing his Kage.  [Kazic…] He said quietly, his demeanor familiar as he addressed the Anzat by name, […How is your family]?  He took a seat in front of the Kage’s large yet informal desk.  The Wookie Speaker began to absently rub at his head, his own pain evident.

Kazic smiled wistfully.  “Good…no, better than ‘good,’ Ryshhk.  Saani has been resting exclusively at home since getting home from the hospital and Lor-Riou…well, he’s growing quickly.”  That last was especially poignant.  As Kazic had never even heard of any Anzat/Twi’Lek offspring, he didn’t really know what to expect…not to mention just what it was Aresaea had done to Saani and whether or not it would be passed on genetically.  But all of that fell by the wayside; his son was happy and most importantly healthy.  “Saani couldn’t wait but…she already tested him.  He’s Force-sensitive, not that it surprises me.”  Other things most certainly did but to Kazic, as a happy father, he was content to allow both Saani and himself the luxury of just being a family.  In fact, he’d spent the entire last week practically sequestered at home, corresponding via holofeed for any business.  It was the only time that he’d allowed himself a vacation away from the office.  Kazic was able to nurture Saani and Lor-Riou, both wanting for nothing.  Besides, Ryshhk was able to handle everything during that time.

Sadly it was the quickest week he’d ever spent, one of the happiest in Kazic’s life.  And altogether too brief…

[Congratulations my friend]. Ryshhk’s tone was sincere and friendly.  [May the Trees always offer you and yours solace].  He crossed muscular arms over his broad chest.  [Have you and Saani determined where on Kewda you shall reside]?

“Initially: the Temple proper.  But…well, I haven’t talked to Saani about it yet—I would like to surprise her but—I was thinking of a home by one of the lakes a kilometer from the Temple.”  Lost in thought, Kazic grinned.  “When I think of Lor-Riou growing up there, surrounded by the beauty of nature…well, it mitigates the loss of Galtea…” He suddenly soured.  “Maker-dammit…” Kazic sat forward, barking a laugh.  “And just when I thought I was used to the idea…well, at least that is one thing that I’m grateful for: since Saani’s been recovering at home—not to mention too busy with Lor-Riou—she hasn’t been disheartened by having to witness the mass exodus of our people…” Again he became wistful, thinking of the morose looks he’d witnessed on everyone’s faces as they left the Vhal’Ulhadv spaceport, the longing stares as the Jedi looked upon the city one last time before boarding their transports.

[I wouldn’t worry about her, my friend; Saani is one of the strongest persons I’ve ever met.  Even as she saw those leaving…like refugees searching for a purpose, she remained stoic]. Ryshhk’s tone was contemplative.  [I feel for them…Galtea has been my home for decades.  Thank the Trees that I’ll be able to bring the Lineage Tree that my Uncle Yshhrk gave me as a sapling].  Ryshhk gave a small smile.  [I think that I’ll go visit him, it’s been years since—]

“Forgive me, Ryshhk…” Kazic quietly interrupted, “…but what do you mean that she’s seen them?”

Ryshhk blinked.  [Exactly that.  Just three days ago I’d seen her down by the spaceport.  I must’ve surprised her: she looked as if she’d seen a ghost-wight].  Ryshhk suddenly grinned.  [For a moment, I thought that she was going to ignite her lightsaber and attack me, by the look on her face].  The Wookie’s deep rumbling laughter shook the Kage’s Office.  [Please, I apologize, I didn’t mean to ruin her surprise for you].

Kazic smiled.  “Think nothing of it.” But something still didn’t sit right; Saani had told him that she’d not left the apartments since returning from the hospital, that she’d been busy seeing everything ready and packed from their home…

Pain throbbed through his forehead.  …Maker-damned Thought Bomb… Gritting his teeth, Kazic stood.  As paranoid as he felt, he knew he could attribute it to the vergence.  Couldn’t he?  Looking back, little things that he’d ignored or had thought he’d imagined suddenly came to the forefront, a hyperawareness scrutinizing everything.  

“Ryshhk, would you please excuse me.  I just have some last-minute things to do before we’re ready to leave…” Without waiting for an answer, Kazic hurried to the hyperloop, boarding and taking his seat in a daze.

Pain and nausea rolled through him as he closed his eyes.  The week that he’d spent together with Saani and Lor-Riou had been glorious…but now, upon retrospect, Kazic questioned what before he’d summarily dismissed.  Flashes of almost-anger that were gone as quickly as perceived…a strange look in Saani’s purple eyes…a twist of her blue lips…the vagueness in the tone of her voice…why would she lie…or…

Or was he being foolishly paranoid, pain, exhaustion, self-castigation getting to him?

Kazic tried focusing on the details…only to stray to those happy memories spent with Lor-Riou, the unexpectedness of being a father…especially after what had happened the first time Saani had gotten pregnant…

…She’s lying…

Kazic shook his head, as if doing so would negate the nagging suspicions that kept plaguing him.  Immediately, he regretted the action, his migraine made worse as a result.  Squeezing his eyes shut, he tried to focus again on his son.  Like when he’d unexpectantly taken his first steps the day after they’d gotten home from the hospital…

…She’s lying…

Teeth grinding, Kazic obstinately tried to ignore the small voice in the back of his head.  He must think, focus instead on Lor-Riou, already having spoken his first utterance in Basic and Twi’Leki, both times the same word: “father.”  He smiled, unshed tears blurring his vision as he blinked.

…She’s lying…

His smile disappearing, Kazic’s cheeks were wet as tears slid down his face.  Lor-Riou…

…She’s lying…

She’s lying… Conviction filled his mind, Kazic willing his eyes to stay open, to see, to really look

And there, where he knew they’d be, where they’d always been, were the daen nosi, undulating wildly just a fraction beyond his peripheral vision, virtually invisible except…

…Except when Kazic stopped ignoring them.  Now, it was all that he could do not to see them, as obvious as the flared nostrils on his own face.  Feeling simultaneously better and worse, he was impatient to arrive home.  And while he tried to pass the remaining time with pleasant memories of Lor-Riou, Kazic could no longer focus on anything other than Saani…well, her and the daen nosi.

Before he knew it, Kazic’s home appeared, the doors to the hyperloop opening onto the vast balcony that led invariably to the door of the Kage’s Apartments.  Rushing from his seat, he was soon through the doors leading into the apartment atrium and up the stairs to the bedroom that he shared with his wife.  “Saani?  Saani!” His voice echoed through the now empty rooms.

There was no one here; not Saani, not Lor-Riou…no one.

…THINK…! Kazic berated himself.  He slowed his breathing, closed his eyes, calmed his thoughts… Everything—even the migraine that he’d suffered since morning—seemed to dissipate, tense muscles relaxing as agitated thoughts gave way to rational explainations.

Of course…no one was there; Saani had been seeing to their own excursion plans.  Naturally, she’d taken Lor-Riou with her.  

Understanding and relief flooded Kazic’s mind, further alleviating his anxiety.  It seemed that the vergence was fueling his paranoia, like so many others.  Grimly he smiled.  He knew that he’d been under severe conditions but he’d somehow hoped to avoid the worst of the symptoms; clearly he was mistaken…

Slowly, he walked down the wide staircase leading to the solarium, its tall walls completely transparent.  Through it, Kazic was able to look upon the heart of Vhal’Ulhadv.  Even now, the sky was filled with traffic, hovercars and ships dotting the airways as the mass exodus continued.  Whereas before the vista awed the Anzat it now served as a stark reminder of what he was once again losing…

“Kazic.” Saani’s voice came from behind him, startling him from his ruminations.  Turning, he faced his wife, a grateful smile spreading across his lips.  One that faltered as soon as his eyes fell upon Saani’s face.  Rather, as soon as his gaze looked into Saani’s eyes.

The eyes of a stranger, filled with contempt, cruelty, and antipathy.

“…Kanp’a…what’s going on?” Kazic asked warily, his own heart hammering within his throat.  He now saw that she had her armor on, both lightsabers held within her hands.

“I know what you’ve done, what you have planned.” Saani’s voice was hard, accusatory.  “I won’t let you do it.”

Kazic moved slowly towards her, his hands spread to show that he was unarmed.  “Saani, what are you talking about?  Do?  Do what?  Please…what is wrong?”

Saani adopted a defensive posture, lightsaber held at the ready if still unignited.  “Don’t come near me.  I know.  I know.  Was it your plan from the start?  Or was it only afterwards?”

Exasperated by both confusion and pain Kazic scowled.  “Saani, what in the Maker-damned hell are you talking about?” He took another step forward.

(https://i.ibb.co/zsmGMYT/5014014-1931234915-latest.jpg) (https://ibb.co/zsmGMYT)

Fast as thought, Saani’s purple blade sprang into existence, the snap-hiss of the lightsaber the only warning that Kazic got.  Either by luck or the will of the Force, Kazic was able to avoid the plasma blade but he stumbled backwards.  Before he was able to recover his wits, he felt his body seize as Lightning engulfed him and he was suddenly lifted a meter into the air.

“I told you not to come near me…” Saani whispered.

In agony, Kazic stared down at his wife, bewilderment helping to galvanize his lucidity as he fought to remain conscious.  When he could finally speak, his voice was harsh, pained, and raspy.  “…Saani…what…are…you…doing…?”

As she approached, Kazic could finally see in fine detail his wife’s face.  It was blank, devoid of any love or affection.  But Saani’s eyes belonged to that of a zealot.  And when she spoke, Kazic’s spirits froze in horror.

“What I should have done as soon as I knew what you planned to do to Lor-Riou.  I knew that you’d take him from me…” Her face suddenly filled with anger, her brow furrowed with pain.  “…But what I would have never guessed is that you—YOU!—would raise him…as…a…Sith!”

Kazic couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  But even as he opened his mouth to deny it, he realized that anything he said would be dismissed; clearly Saani was suffering deeply from paranoia.  He had to help her…

“Saani…please, you’re…you’re not well.  We…we need to get you to Kewda, to the Guardian…I…I can help you; I can fix you!” Kazic pleaded, his voice full of emotion.

If Saani had looked angry before, rage now consumed her.  “‘Fix me?!'  You…you bastard.  Yes I should’ve known.”  Conviction filled her voice.  “I should’ve known that the vergence had poisoned you…but no matter…”

She brought her lightsaber up to the ready.  “I will not let you ever have the chance to complete your fiendish plans…” Kazic felt the pressure holding him in the air constrict all around him.  “…And you will never, ever threaten Lor-Riou again…”

Kazic—veteran of countless battles in dozens of wars—felt pain the likes of which he’d never thought possible.  Not from the Force powers now crushing him or the heat of the plasma blade that drew ever closer.  No, this pain was worse than all combined.

He’d lost Lor-Riou, he’d lost Saani…and it was Saani that would now kill him.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on August 14, 2019, 12:40:24 PM
Wow...    I kinda knew it was coming, but not like that!   Kazic is about to die at the hands of the one he loves the most.

But we know he didn't die...

Which means someone or something intervened....

Will Saani be killed?

Will the baby survive?

Will inflation ruin your summer vacation plans?

Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion to....   
*smacks computer*

Darned old-timee radio show recordings....     

Sorry.   Dutch, that is a horrible moment, and well written.   I make light because it is just so heavy and tragic.  Poor Kazic.  He's in the ultimate no-win...


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on August 14, 2019, 04:11:43 PM
Agree with Karm...piece by piece its all coming apart, I suspect even the Guardians effects wouldn't cure all the ills...but as it stands the chances of everyone even getting there...How much of this paranoia is the vergence, how much is something worse. Perhaps it doesn't really matter now things have come to a head.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on August 19, 2019, 12:33:43 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/gTrePy/250px-Legorii.jpg) (https://ibb.co/gTrePy)(https://i.ibb.co/ckRQCqf/article-0-0-F55-FC8700000578-355-468x286.jpg) (https://ibb.co/ckRQCqf)
Chapter 35: The Anzat’s Pain

Even as he felt his nose collapse from the inexorable pressure that Saani constricted him with, Kazic couldn’t help but remain transfixed by her quiet, solemn voice.  

“As I was giving birth to Lor-Riou, I was having such a difficult time…” Saani’s tone was hypnotic.  “…and you were no longer there for me.  You claimed that the doctors had ‘called you away’ but I knew the truth: you wanted to get rid of me so that Lor-Riou would be yours to do with as you pleased…”

Kazic couldn’t even dispute Saani’s preposterous reasoning; right now he could barely breath.  Blood flowed from his nose staining his dark gray tunics.  Pain erupted as one of his fingers broke, bent at an odd angle.  Still Saani continued to drone on.

“…I had to perform a Memory technique with how to direct Healing flows adequate to compensate for the pain…and I saw when you returned, your face.  But that was something else that I remembered, something that—until then—I hadn’t considered important.  But it was the key, the answer to everything…” Saani removed something from her belt.  Standing in front of Kazic, she keyed the object, precise writing from a holoscript source projected a meter into the air.  “This is from the ‘Collected Works of Illyiss*.’  Not many know that he actually suffered from intense Force Visions and many of his works were actually prophecies that others had recorded for posterity…”

Kazic didn’t bother to remind her that while Illyiss had been an ancient and powerful Jedi Master, his so-called “prophecies” were as subjective as the person reading them.  Besides, Master Illyiss himself had stated that his Force Visions never represented any specific persons…but Kazic was having the most difficult time maneuvering his neck so that Saani’s Telekinesis didn’t break it.

“…The first thing that I did when we arrived home from the hospital was to check our book copy.  Sure enough, it was there, all there…and I knew.  I knew it all…” Saani’s voice changed tone, her recitation of the dual sestet work beginning quietly but quickly growing louder and greater in emphasis as she delivered each line:

  "Born of dust, forged in fire, finding
   Love, purified but transient within
   Life fulfilled and evanescent, too soon,
   Death rewarded but unacknowledged
   His lament inconsolable, his comportment
   Desolate he rejoins with sentiment.

   Rebirth unsolicited, she rages to
   The Heavens weep and for them he
   Agonizes, regretful and repentant as
   She supplants his nemesis, all of
   His own making, just rewards unwarranted
   Their mutual perdition.”


Saani’s gaze became raptorlike.  “I can see it all now.  First: our love…‘purified’ by the pain of loss of our first child.  Our life was ‘fulfilling’…right up to…my death…” She stumbled slightly over that interpretation but hurried on, “…and your ‘inconsolable lament’ as you mourned…but—and here is where your plotting begins—you made that…deal with Valens to bring me back…I never asked for that…the pain…you’ll never know…!” She clenched her fist around the shoto in her offhand, “…But as you ‘agonized’ you…you felt ‘repentant’ for what you’d done to Anson…your brother!...but that wasn’t the worst…you…became like him, went over to his side…making…making ME your new ‘nemesis’…all…BECAUSE…OF YOU!!!” Saani pointed her purple lightsaber at Kazic as if to emphasize her point.  “…And…and…it will lead us to ‘our mutual perdition!’” Face wrapped in fury, her countenance changed, utterly unrecognizable to Kazic.  “YOU PLOTTED TO KILL US!!!

If he wasn’t in agonizing pain—not to mention within millimeters of literally being crushed to death—Kazic would have laughed at the logic fallacies that Saani had invented for her macabre…“proof” of Kazic’s “plans.”  Wheezing, he attempted to say…something, anything.  But he knew: even if he could speak, nothing he said would convince Saani of the truth, to persuade her that she was suffering delusions.  He stared into Saani’s eyes.  Instead, exhaustively Kazic whispered, “…I love…you…Kanp’a…”

The expression on Saani’s face never once changed, the eyes of a stranger looking back at Kazic from her blue face.

“…Despicable Sith…but don’t worry, you will never see Lor-Riou.  I’ve ensured that my son will be forever out of your reach...” Saani’s eyes clouded, her voice monotone.  “…He shall never even know of your name…”

But even as she continued speaking, something deep within Kazic stirred.  He knew that Saani was not in her right mind but what she’d done… Anger—no pure rage—possessed Kazic, the Anzat threat response of his species suddenly released from the tightly controlled leash that he normally held firmly adamant.  The telepathy innate to the species—another aspect that he always suppressed—suddenly erupted forth in his primal mind…and Kazic disappeared.

What remained was a creature evoking the darkest horrors of the mind, one that embodied the galactic fear that all sentients suffered, the reality even more frightening than the myths.

As the Anzat telepathically broke Saani’s Telekinetic hold, he did so with such might that the rebounding Force waves knocked Saani off her feet, momentarily disorienting her.  She heard the heavy thud of impact as the Anzat’s boots hit the floor, his crouching body tense with muscles bulging from an overdose of adrenaline.  Kazic’s red eyes drilled into hers seemingly hesitant…but only for a moment.  Before she could fully recover the Anzat sprang, his hunter’s senses primed with Telepathic Suppression.  Saani may have been more powerful than Kazic…but she no longer faced the man who had been her husband for decades.

There was no way that Kazic could cover the distance between them normally, being separated by more than eight meters.  He shouldn’t have been able to intercept her in the time that it took for Saani to ready herself.  Not only that but she was now stronger in the Force than him, as strong as Anson had been.  If ever there was a fight lost before it began, this should’ve been it.

Instead Kazic’s body, his systems flooded by endorphins—mind fueled by the Anzat hunger for the soup—moved faster than Saani could ever have expected, his preternaturally powerful telepathy acting against his victim’s will.  Before she could bring her mainhand lightsaber to the ready, her shoto still unignited in her hand, the Anzat’s blue blade crashed into hers, knocking the purple blade wide.  It was only by Saani’s augmented reflexes and powerful Force connection that she was able to ignite and insinuate her yellow shoto between her and the blue lightsaber that intended to maim, to slow his victim…

…All the better to ensure his longevity and enjoyment with the soup.

Whatever Saani’s convictions, beliefs…delusions…she had no idea of the opponent she faced.  However, she was certain that what she faced was Sith and, therefore, her enemy.  She held nothing back.

And none too soon; the Anzat that she faced was among the galaxy’s most dangerous predators.

A natural Jar’Kai practitioner as well as one of the Vhal’Dan’s preeminent blademasters, Saani should’ve had a distinct advantage over the Anzat’s lone blade.  Her Forms were impeccable, her skill unmatched… But whenever she thought that she’d found an opening, Saani’s attacks were thwarted.  Purple and yellow blades swung in tight, deliberate orbits intent on eviscerating the “Sith” she was convinced she fought.  And every time the Anzat’s blue blade deflected.  Any riposte that followed was not from any Form that the Anzat had trained and learned, no his offensive was almost entirely instinctual, his species’ telepathy agonizing Saani’s mental defenses on the metaphysical plane.

Almost.

For what Saani faced was not just some mindless feral Anzat but worst of all one that had given into his basest desires, his motivations driven to the achievement of one end…

Several times Saani hammered her two blades at her opponent only to be rebuffed.  And while she scored a minor cut that took off the tip of the Anzat’s right ear and a devastating kick that would’ve knocked out almost any other being, they only served as diversions to the inevitable.

Across the wide solarium they fought, twilight descending upon the planet.  As the lengthening shadows stretched along the floor, both Twi’Lek and Anzat continued to fight, neither side relenting nor slowing.  Outside, the bustle of an unaware city seemed to ignore the dramatic combat, one that—had anyone bothered to look directly into the Kage’s Solarium—would have shown a display of Force Powers against the backdrop of the glowing purple, yellow, and blue plasma blades that swung, circled, and stopped one another…almost as if someone were trying to recreate Galtea’s Aurora Austrinas Southern Lights as they danced across the darkening sky.  

And still, they fought.

As Saani and the Anzat paused in a bladelock, Saani found herself fighting against a potent Force Thorn that threatened to befuddle and stagger her.  So focused was she that she made the biggest of mistakes around an Anzat: she left her face unprotected.  Gritting her teeth, Saani tried to Push the Anzat from her and in doing so, brought her face within centimeters of his.

Before she knew what was happening, the Anzat’s twin proboscis shot out from under his cheek flaps, searching, probing Saani’s face.  Visceral fear filled and infected Saani, all conscious thought flying from her mind…including defending against the Force Thorn.

As the Thorn slid home Saani screamed, dropping her shoto as she grabbed her head in a futile attempt to assuage the pain that erupted in her mind.  Agony was etched upon her face as she pulled away from the slathering proboscis, one that even now had found purchase in her left nostril.  Without thinking and in complete desperation, she carelessly formed and detonated a potent ball of Kinetite…with violent results.

Both combatants were blown to either side, one crashing against a wall, the other colliding with the stair railing, breaking their back before slamming against the far transparisteel window, finally coming to rest on the floor in a heap of broken bones, muscle, and sinew.  For what seemed like eternity, neither of them stirred.

In reality, one of them was up in seconds, cautiously yet indomitably approaching the other with ignited lightsaber still in hand.  And walking over, they looked down upon the ruined body that lay at their feet.

And looking up, Saani knew that she could do nothing.  Her body was broken, her mind shredded from the Force Thorn.  She was completely at his mercy.

Yet still, she smiled.

Closing down the lightsaber, the Anzat crouched on his heels, slowly lowering his head so that his flared nose nearly touched her bloody and broken nose.  This time, as if savoring the victory and leisure of the moment, the Anzat’s proboscis gently licked Saani’s cheeks and lips.  Her face twitched in revulsion at the touch, her eyes reflecting the warring feelings of fear and satisfaction.  Hot breath engulfed her face as the Anzat’s proboscis found both nostrils and began to crawl towards Saani’s cranium…

…But stopped within centimeters of their prize.  The Anzat’s body remained motionless, the red eyes still distracted and primal…the soup a Siren’s Call from myth, taunting…tempting…him…

With Herculean effort, the Anzat’s eyes focused, regaining the sentience of the man that they belonged to.  “…no…” He breathed a whisper, sorrow and regret radiating from him, the twin proboscis disappearing again in his cheeks.  "...No..."  Now kneeling, Kazic quietly sobbed, “…Saani…I…I am so, so very sorry.  Please, my wife, my Kanp’a, can you forgive me?”

Quiet, spiteful laughter shook Saani’s broken body.  “…I…I curse you.  Know this: even now, though you may have killed me, you’ll never, ever know where your son is.”  Another round of laughter, this one even softer than before, punctuated Saani’s pained gasps.  “…I gave him to…to the rebels you tried so hard to bring back into the fold…I…I knew that he’d be safer with them than even with me…as much as…as much as it pains me…” Her purple eyes gazed deep into Kazic’s, “…Even I don’t know where…where they’ve taken him…you…you’ve failed…completely…”  With that, she lost consciousness.

And for a second time, Kazic had to deal with the loss of his wife even though she still lived…at least, for the moment…
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

* As seen WAYYY back in CH. 4


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on August 20, 2019, 08:36:59 AM
Wow...    The horror.   This man has lived with this for centuries.   Talk about PTSD issues...

It gives a very startling insight, though.   Why would this man, an Anzat, adopt Zearic?   Because ... he is honoring the memory of his own son, long lost?    Perhaps many times over?

The depth here and texture are phenomenal.   Well thought-out and finished.   Nicely done, Dutchman!   

Of course ... we're still not quite done ...   :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on September 02, 2019, 10:04:06 PM
Quote
The depth here and texture are phenomenal.   Well thought-out and finished.   Nicely done, Dutchman!   

Agreed, this is just...a horrific but brilliant mess of a very flawed man reaping the rewards of his mistakes, his best intentions - "you made that…deal with Valens to bring me back…I never asked for that" ...that was a very jarring line that made me really feel for both characters...
And this...
And for a second time, Kazic had to deal with the loss of his wife even though she still lived…at least, for the moment…
He's truly lost Saani twice, and he's lost himself twice as well - once when he turned to the Aethans for help, unleashing the daemons upon those he once called brothers and sisters, and now to his own feral instincts...which is worse who can say.

Why would this man, an Anzat, adopt Zearic?   

That really struck me Karm, well pointed out, this is so much about Kazic relationship with his children, D'Alyanna and Zearic in the 'present' day, Aresaea the catalyst for the War, now Lor-Riou the child he had so hoped for with Saani, that is an undercurrent that is really striking home now - Lor and Ari seem to be lost to him...and D'Alyanna...well could this very confession burn that bridge as well to complete the cycle?


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 10, 2019, 02:05:48 PM
(https://thumb.ibb.co/jr6rKc/Volfe.jpg) (https://ibb.co/jr6rKc)
Chapter 36: “…We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep…”

“…the last of the transport ships arrived last night, Kage.  Along with the ‘node—” the shorter of the two figures nodded toward the compact datastorage compendium that the larger figure held, “—Everything that you need is now on-moon and keyed for planetary defense…”  The shorter figure’s voice trailed off, his face contemplative in the light of the setting sun.

The larger figure nodded, his own face full of worry and concern…for his companion.  It was for that reason that he did not correct his friend.  …A technicality true but nevertheless… He thought.  And after everything that had happened, he still said nothing.  Maker knew that he should…

Standing far up on the large dark granite balcony, both figures overlooked the vast courtyard of the Old Temple grounds.  The vista offered an interesting and not altogether unpleasant amalgamation of organic rock alongside the industrial prefabricated structures that had created a burgeoning township.  And in the distance, nestled between a regal snowcapped mountain and a forest-ringed lake, short modern buildings had already been erected, the established skylanes fairly vacant…but that would soon change.

“On that note—” the shorter figure shook his head, trying desperately to divest himself of the memories that continually encroached upon his thoughts, “—the remaining Golan platforms have taken up polar- and equatorial orbits around the moon, shielded and hidden from surveillance.”  The shorter figure exhaled, as if finally relieving himself of a great weight.  Which he very much was.  …One of many obligations… He thought.  Instead he said, “I’ve keyed all government and civic codes to transfer upon your genetic Ident.  Just place your thumb upon the scanner for completion; everything else is just a matter of procedure…”  Again, he fell silent.  Try as he might, he knew that regardless of how far he went he’d never outrun his own daemons.  Quietly clearing his throat, his gaze suddenly affixed back onto his taller colleague.  “All is in readiness, Kage.” His voice sounded detached, emotionless.

Shaking his head, the taller figure could stand it no longer.

[Kage-elect]. Came the deep bass correction.  Slowly shaking his head, the taller figure continued.  [Kazic, you should not be doing this]. Ryshhk rumbled, gently placing his large paw upon the shorter man’s shoulder. [My friend…please let me help you]. His soft tone seemed incongruous with the Wookie’s demeanor.  

But Kazic knew that Ryshhk’s sincerity was beyond question.

“Kage…Ryshhk.  You have my eternal gratitude.”  Kazic crossed his arms, his head bowed in thought.  And apprehension.  “But it’s apparent to me that I am not fit as Kage for the Vhal’Dan and never was.”  Slowly exhaling, he continued.  “And this is something that I must do myself.” His voice became a whisper.  “I’ve…lost enough people already…”

As Ryshhk looked down in his friend’s eyes, he saw that Kazic was resolute in his decision.  And after everything that the Anzat had been through, Ryshhk knew that whatever ghosts the man carried, they would haunt him for a long time…

[…Would that I could take this pain from you, my friend…] Ryshhk’s low voice seemed to carry across the Temple grounds.  Even though the hour was long, the Temple was filled with Jedi: some training in the open-air salle, some hard at work, while others simply went upon their way.  It almost seemed…normal.

…But for all that we…I…lost… Kazic admonished himself, and not for the first time.  And still above it all, was the emptiness that lay the heaviest upon his heart.  Silently, a tear ran down his cheek, the redness of his eyes having nothing to do with the Anzat’s normal irises.

…Saani…

               <<<<< >>>>>

After their duel, Kazic had been desperate.  Almost all of the Vhal’Dan medical equipment had been transferred off-planet first, leaving only bacta-couches.  But due to the extent of Saani’s injuries, the couches were insufficient to the task.  Panicked, Kazic agonized that he was without any options…

…Until he remembered the Rakatan Mind Trap that Ryshhk had shown him before.  As carefully but as quickly as he could, Kazic managed to transport Saani to the secret cache of Force Artifacts that only he and the Wookie Speaker knew about.  Either by the grace of the Maker, the will of the Force, or plain luck, they’d left them for the final transport using Ryshhk’s own light freighter.

It was to that freighter that a frantic Kazic carried Saani’s broken body to in the dead of night.  Laying her gently down upon the hard deck amidst unremarkable crates in the dimly lit cargo hold, Kazic scrutinized the boxes, looking for one with the right shape…there.

Hurriedly, he called the box to him.  Not even bothering with the lock, he used the Force.  The box exploded in a contained blast, the shrapnel carelessly crushed into a sphere while the contents of the now-destroyed container flew into his waiting hand.

It was a plinth approximately one meter tall, with a black orb in the base.  And while the device was esoteric and practically unknown, Kazic had been able to deduce the activation mechanism.

It required the blood of the subject and tactile contact with the orb.

Considering the many lacerations, contusions, and injuries that Saani’s broken body suffered, getting her blood wasn’t a problem.

Her still being alive was.

Checking for any signs of vitality, Kazic fought his rising dread as he desperately, quickly Delved his wife.  For many seconds—an eternity—he felt…nothing.  Unchecked tears ran rivulets down his cheeks into his dark goatee.

But then, a flicker…at once both brief and timeless…Kazic could feel the life that still clung to this world.  …Saani…!  Working quickly, Kazic tenderly caressed Saani’s body and when he took his hand away it was wet with her blood.  Blood that he would use to save his wife.

Gripping the plinth in his opposite hand, he cupped the orb at the base with the other.  As the blood ran from his hand and onto the orb it seemed to lose its color, becoming as black as the orb itself.

Kazic held his breath suddenly uncertain of what to do, what he should expect.  In the silence of the cargo hold and in the darkness of night, Kazic could hear the hammering of his own heart.  As the seconds seemed to stretch into a timelessness that had no sensation, he listened with a hearing more acute than most sentients…

…And with startling suddenness, he could hear Saani’s breathing slow…becoming more regular.  Hopeful, Kazic again Delved Saani.  

There was nothing.  Silence.  Blackness darker than the darkest Galtean night.

Kazic looked at the plinth.  From within the orb, a feint almost imperceptible pulsing seemed to glow.  He doubted that most beings would notice it.  But whatever it may portend for the future, to Kazic it brought hope.  Or at least, some.  He knew that he would have to do something for Saani’s body.  As it was, he knew that even with the most modern technology, Saani would require years—perhaps even decades—of painful rehabilitation.  And, Kazic was forced to admit, even then her prognosis was uncertain, her total recovery unlikely.

Kazic knew what he had to do.  And as he collected Saani’s body, placing it into the freighter’s bacta-couch, the Anzat swore that he would do everything—everything!—to heal his wife, make her whole…

…So that they would once again be a family…

               <<<<< >>>>>

[Where will you go]? Ryshhk said beside him as Kazic walked out of the granite halls and into the metal mechanical docks adjacent to the Temple.  The sun was halfway past the horizon, Ossus high in the Kewda sky.

“I have several leads…but the most promising were rumors that I heard coming from Ord Mirit.” His voice trailed off thinking about what he’d heard about some biotech that had resulted in a rejuvenation…or rebirth…something

…Which was why he would start there.  And if a tenth of what he’d heard was—

[The Vhal’Dan shall always be here for you should you return]. Ryshhk’s deep rumble interrupted Kazic’s thoughts.  [At least so long as I am Kage].  The Wookie’s golden eyes glimmered.

Looking up, Kazic smiled faintly.  “Thanks.  Once again: I’m indebted to you.”  Stepping onto the docking pad, he suddenly stopped, looking at the ship currently berthed there, backlit by the setting sun.  “Speaking of…are you certain you want for me to take her?”

Ryshhk guffawed, a Wookie idiosyncrasy that Kazic had come to interpret as geniality.  [I insist.  You shall require her services much more than I.  Besides: as Kage I have all of the Vhal’Dan fleet at my disposal]. He smiled.  [Although I will admit to a fondness for Justice’s Brachiate; I’ve done many modifications to her throughout the years…] Ryshhk trailed off.  [No.  She’ll no longer be “Justice’s Brachiate.”  As she is your ship, you should name her].

For a moment, Kazic was quiet, introspective.  “Expiator…yes; she’s the Expiator.”  Kazic’s red eyes were lost in the cloud of his thoughts and self-recriminations.

[Of course, my friend].  Ryshhk intoned.  He understood.  [It’s a good name, a proper name for a worthy ship.  She’s yours].  But even as the words left his mouth, Ryshhk’s apprehension redoubled.  …Expiator… He ruminated…

…"One whom atones"…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Within the Hall of Balance, almost every single Vhal’Dan Jedi on Kewda was in attendance.  The thickness of the air and gravity of the situation had nothing to do with the symptoms of the vergence…but there was a somber mood that pervaded the entire Hall despite the clear morning air; everyone felt it.  And when Kazic spoke into the relative silence, his voice reverberated throughout the entire chamber.

Standing from his Kage’s Seat on the upraised dais, surrounded by the Speakers, the Anzat dropped all formalities.  “I am abdicating as Kage.  Now that the Order has relocated from Galtea to Kewda and the sickness that plagued us seems to have gone into remission, I must relinquish the office that I am no longer fit to occupy.  And while I know that the Order shall elect my replacement, I would like to offer my own nomination, one whom is a wiser, stronger, more worthy—in short, better—Jedi than I have ever been.”  Kazic deliberately pointed at the Wookie Speaker still seated.  “Master Ryshhk K’rrmerii is the very epitome of what the Vhal’Dan Order should be and represents.  I know that with Master K’rrmerii heading the Congress as Kage, the Order shall achieve great things.  And, having learned vicariously from the mistakes of the past, will inaugurate a golden age for the Vhal’Dan.”

Without any further deliberation, Kazic stepped from the dais walking between the congregated Jedi and disappearing through the irising doors, leaving the Hall in utter silence.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“I’m sorry th’t I wer’n’t there t’ witness such.” Corvus wheezed, subdued coughing cutting off the rest of his words.

“Sorry, my friend…” Kazic’s reply seemed hollow in his own ears.  “How are you feeling?”  The Anzat sat across the quaint table that Corvus had placed upon his humble balcony, the planet Ossus rising in Kewda’s noontime sky.

“Hurts, dammit.” The Devaronian Master complained, the ghost of a smile mirroring the humor in his eyes.  “W’ll ye be back soon?”

“No.”

The two of them sat for some time, the silence between them communicating their thoughts.

“Kazic…t’wasn’t yer fault…” Corvus’ quiet commiseration caused the Anzat’s face to turn.

“Yes, yes it was.” Kazic softened.  Somewhat.  “But…thanks for saying otherwise.”  Rising, he stood in front of his friend, his hand outstretched.  “I know that I have no right…” He left the rest unsaid.

Without hesitation, Corvus shook the Anzat’s hand.  “Wh’n yer done yer welcome here.”  He smiled grimly.  Nodding, Kazic shook his head, grasping the Devaronian’s hand in both of his.

Kazic didn’t mention his plans to help Saani; he knew that Corvus would only be hurt with the uncertainty of Kazic’s unlikely success.  Corvus had been among his wife’s—and his—few true friends.  Looking back over his shoulder, he waved to Corvus hoping to take him up on his hospitality.

They were the last words that the two ever shared with one another.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“D’arial, take care of your father.”  Kazic smiled wistfully.  “I…I just want you to know that I’ll always consider you both as family.”

The tall woman’s face was a mask…

…One that fell as she brought Kazic into a tight hug.  “Chaaché, I’ll miss you.”  The two of them held onto each other, the afternoon sun setting towards the horizon.  Ossus was now large in the Kewda sky.  Releasing D’arial, Kazic turned to the dark, slender Epicanthix that stood just to the side of him, the Anzat embracing Jorol as well.

“Brother…may the Maker keep you.” Kazic could only hug him tighter when he added, “…And may Saani join with my Tsar, Syrena, and Arnis.  Find what peace you can my friend knowing that they’re together.”  As Jorol held him at arm’s length, Kazic’s lip quivered.  He wanted to tell Jorol about what he’d done, that Saani yet lived… But he knew how implausible his task was, would be.  It could be decades…centuries even.  For Kazic, he could afford the lamentation of the years…

…For Jorol or D’arial who’s lives were but a fraction of the Anzat’s?

Again the pain of loss and the weight of duty almost staggered Kazic as he drew both Epicanthix into his fierce embrace.  No, he could not—would not—do that to them.  Better they be given a clean resolution and allowed to begin the process of healing rather than continue in agony, waiting, anticipating, worrying…

“My love to you both.” Kazic whispered quietly before leaving them, the shadows from the sunlight beginning to elongate as Kewda’s horizon seemed to march slowly towards the sun.

With his back towards the Qui-Xot residence, Kazic was thankful that they would not see just how much his heart ached by not being able to have them in his life.  And he was right by keeping what he did from them.

Even decades later, when Kazic did see them again, they would never know how bad he’d failed.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Standing at the base of the ramp, Kazic stopped, turning to face Ryshhk.  What had needed to be said had been.  And the Wookie Kage was the only one who knew of everything.  Suddenly finding himself at a loss for what to do, Kazic shook his head as he felt inundated by his sorrow.

Surprisingly, powerful arms encircled him.  He felt the coarse brown and black fur against his face, feeling unexpectedly comforted.  [Should you need anything my friend, you need only ask]. Ryshhk’s forehead touched Kazic’s as the taller Wookie slightly stooped to do so.  [Also…if you find yourself on Coruscant and in need of a friend, call upon my Uncle Yshhrk and show him this].  Ryshhk pulled from one of his belt pouches a small, vibrant sapling.  [You don’t need to feed it or water it; this is a cutting from my Lineage Tree.  It will live so long as the Lineage Tree does.  It is testament to Wookies that you are a man of honor.  Show this and know that you shall have a friend in need of my people].

Dumbfounded, Kazic could only mutter his thanks before taking one more look around.  Twilight was beginning to descend upon the Temple.  But from both without and within…life, activity, hope.  The last struck Kazic as a particular irony, given what he intended.  But…

But his migraines were fewer and far between now, as was their intensity.  He’d kept his promise to himself that as Kage, he would not foist the problem onto anyone else.  Kewda had been the right choice.  And it was beautiful…but it was not Galtea.

And, just as Galtea was lost to him, so too he feared was Saani.

But, he hoped that he could change that.  Shaking Ryshhk’s enormous paw, Kazic boarded the light freighter.  And as he sat in the pilot’s seat, the last vestiges of sunlight began to disappear under the horizon.

And as the Expiator sped away from Kewda, Kazic punched in the designation coordinates towards the Core.  Taking one last look at the new Vhal’Dan homeworld—one that he would not see again for years—he was haunted by the fact that he would never again have a true home…

…Never that, never without his Kanp’a.

(https://i.ibb.co/3yy1WgH/XS-freighter-Haynes.png)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on September 10, 2019, 03:17:52 PM
Oh...    You're evil.    EVIL!    Here I was expecting an ending, and instead there's more!

MORE!   

Nicely done, my friend.   Somehow I feel like there's one more, very dark and horrible revelation to come.   Whatever it is Kazic is confessing to hasn't been revealed yet.   The whole of the Civil War, all his mistakes, they're just the set-up for...

...what?

Staying tuned!


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on September 10, 2019, 05:54:19 PM
Thus closes one chapter...sort of...Saani locked away, (BTW D'Alyanna hearing this might want to pay attention to the bit about the Rakata Mind Trap  ;)) Ryshhk Kage, and leaving everyone believing Saani is dead which is true. At the very least Kazic has learnt the mistake from the last time she was dead and isn't looking for Ari and the Aethans...or at least not as the first option...though given how they parted he would never likely find them anyway...and they wouldn't appreciate him looking...
He's a driven man though...but what he's driven by, regret, defeat, failure, and falling back on the Anzat tendency to wander almost I wonder simply as a kind of comfort mechanism.  Will be interesting to see where the Expiator heads next, and how the new Kage fares with a fresh start.   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 12, 2019, 11:53:52 AM
Special thanks to LSG for his contribution to this chapter  :)
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(https://thumb.ibb.co/idOONH/Zannah-Do-Ecropped.jpg) (https://ibb.co/idOONH)(https://thumb.ibb.co/c87Pwc/1632208-akku.jpg) (https://ibb.co/c87Pwc)
Chapter 37: Sins of the Father

“…Never that, never without my Kanp’a.” Kazic whispered, tears flowing down his sallow cheeks.

D’Aylanna was using all of her strength, all of her skills in Healing, trying to keep death in abeyance.  Something told her that her adoptive father still wasn’t quite finished.  After a moment, Kazic started speaking again.

“Before anything else, I found a stasis booth for Saani’s body in the Corporate Sector, and quick…would that we’d had one on Galtea...” He covered his eyes with a withered hand for a moment before dropping it.  “But after that…I searched.  I searched throughout the galaxy.  First was Ord Mirit; there I found more questions than anything else.  But also at Ord Mirit I eventually found a lead…one that took me into the Unknown Regions…” Kazic’s rheumy eyes lost focus.  “Years I spent there…the things I saw, wonders both spectacular and gross…I…I even encountered a…a species that…that wasn’t native to our galaxy, I swear(!)…incredible…just incredible…” Kazic’s voice trailed off as the fog of memory once again threatened to inundate him.

“Father…Father!  KAZIC!” D’Aylanna prodded, worried and hyperaware of the passing seconds.  She knew that for Kazic, time hunted him and that this predator was near, the smell of the old Anzat’s lifeblood drawing it ever closer.

Something in the Hapan Master’s voice recalled Kazic from his ruminations.  Eyes clear, refocused, and aware he continued.  “But after yea…decades…of following clues, rumors, myths…every story I pursued, all the speculations that I tracked down…it was all for naught.”  Kazic slumped further into the aircouch.  “For all of my skill, my knowledge, my persistence…nothing I found then would help Saani.”  He coughed, his entire body racked by the seizure.  When next he spoke, his voice cracked with wretchedness.  “I continued my search for almost two hundred years until…”  When Kazic stopped speaking, he closed his eyes tightly, gritting his teeth as if to grind them to dust.  When next he opened them, he stared directly into D’Aylanna’s eyes, his face a mask of agony.  “…Until I…I finally…”  The last was spoken in a whisper so low that even the Hapan Master didn’t hear.

“…Father, I’m sorry but I didn’t hear you.” Her voice was imploring, encouraging.

The fierceness with which Kazic replied surprised D’Aylanna; so much so that the normally composed Gray Master was taken aback, speechless.  “I said I gave up!  I gave up on my wife, on our life together, on our family!  I ABANDONED HER!  I STOPPED LOOKING!”  Kazic began to pound upon his wasted chest with a withered fist.  “I abandoned my wife like the coward that I’d always feared that I was…that I’d been accused of being!  Anson was right…RIGHT!”  Gently but firmly, D’Aylanna grabbed his wrists, restraining Kazic from hitting himself further.  Sobbing, the Anzat radiated contrition…and scorn.  “I gave into despair…it had become too much…all of that time…alone…so alone…” Wheezing, he sank back into his pillows.  “I was so bitterly lonely, so forelorn, so…so feeble…and…and then I met…”  A small, wistful smile appeared upon his face.  As before, he seemed to regain some of his strength, sitting up straighter.  “I was on Belkadan, a planet in the Tingel Arm.  I’d just emerged from Unknown Space for the sixth—and as it turned out, final—time.   I’d endured another failure…the latest in a legion of such…you see, Belkadan claimed an unbroken history dating back to the Rakatan Empire.  I’d hoped that I could learn…something, anything… And there, in the planetary archives—” A coughing fit interrupted him, spasms that threatened to double him over.  It was all D’Aylanna could do to comfort him.  When Kazic finally quieted, he seemed…diminished.

“Please Father, you were saying?” D’Aylanna prompted.  …Maker, please help me help him… Her silent prayer seemed incongruous with her staid visage.  “You were on Belkadan?”

Exhaling, Kazic nodded.  “…It was there that…that I met Eriobe.”  His voice was quiet yet wavered between nostalgia and rebuke.

D’Aylanna blinked.  “Your fourth wife?”  She remembered Kazic mentioning her.  She was a Mirialan scientist, focusing on archaeology.  Closing her dark eyes, D’Aylanna went through one of her mental techniques, recalling with perfect clarity one of the picts that Kazic had shown her decades ago when she was his teidowan.  He’d held it with such fondness she recalled.  But he’d never told her anything that had led up to their meeting one another.

“The same.” His voice held an odd mix of bitterness and warmth.  “At first…well, at first she attempted to help me.  She had an extensive background in Rakatan artifacts…but, ultimately she…there was nothing that helped, regardless of how much we searched…” Kazic looked straight at D’Aylanna.  “And late one night…after yet another disappointment…we were talking…and…and I realized that I had feelings for Eriobe.  And she for me.”  His face a mask of pain, Kazic paused for a moment.  But when he spoke again, his tone was full of conviction.  “We became lovers…we were already friends.  Soon afterwards, we married…on Kewda even.  But it was that night…that night in the Belkadan Archives that I knew, that I chose…to let Saani go.  But not just Saani: for all intentions, Lor-Riou as well…both of them.  Forever.”

D’Aylanna let out a quick breath, understanding and empathy coming close to overwhelming her.  She knew at last the depths of Kazic’s pain, anguish centuries in the making.  Her silence must have unnerved the Anzat as he pulled away his hand that she’d been holding in hers.  He grabbed at the blanket, drawing it to him as he turned away from her.  “I…I understand and even expect your contempt, your disdain…I’ve lived with it for so long that it is as much a part of me as my own skin…” Kazic’s voice was dull, impassive.

The Hapan Master slowly inhaled before she reached over and gently turned Kazic back towards her.  “Kazic…Father, you mistake me.  I feel no derision towards you.  Besides, it is not for me to judge you.”  She continued her Force ministrations.  “…Still…I have questions.”

Kazic slowly nodded, the look of self-reproach upon his face.  “Of course…like what did I do with Saani’s stasis booth and the Mind Trap?”

Surprisingly, D’Aylanna cut him off.  “Yes.  No, Father.  At least not primarily that.”  Tenderly, she began to rub his head.  “I’m more interested in Ari and—forgive me but I must ask—Ari’s people…what were they, where did they come from?”

Kazic shook his head, some tangled white hair falling in his eyes.  “That I never learnt fully, and never dared ask…but Nur’us that is not the question you truly wish to ask…”

D’Alyanna pursed her blue lips, she could not put anything past Kazic even now as he faded slowly.  “…Do they still exist…” She quietly inquired.  Kazic’s face, tone…his entire demeanor…changed.

“Over the years…” His voice regained a somnolence that she recognized, one he reserved only for the most serious and dire of situations, “I heard whispers…rumors of strange events in the Deep Core, the Unknown Regions even, things I should’ve investigated...things other maenowans insisted we investigate…but I dissuaded them, or pretended to go myself…” He shook his head as if to divest himself of the memories, “…but I do not know what became of them for certain…and that is partly why I must tell you this, why it is imperative that you know: if you come across them, if you see or hear of anything that reminds you of what I told you of them…” His throat dry, he spoke words that in many ways undermined everything he had taught over the centuries, “…Do not go near them, if they seek something—or someone—give it to them without hesitation, no matter the price…it will be less to acquiesce than resist.”  

Kazic suddenly seemed to choke bringing on a coughing fit, one that D’Aylanna worried would lead to…to the worst.  But then after a moment, she realized that he was actually quietly laughing.  “I have often said ‘Take what you want and pay for it.’” His tone dripped with irony, “…And now you understand the price Ari’s People can impose…it was beyond what the Vhal’Dan even at their height could pay…much less now.”

D’Aylanna’s brow furrowed in incredulity.  “But surely we cannot simply yield to one whose power is—”

“Stop!” Kazic’s yelled exclamation startled even her.  When next he spoke, he firmly but gently intoned, “I understand the arguments, that giving into them, that accepting ‘Might makes right’ so swiftly seems to be a betrayal of so much of what we believe and hold dear…but I assure you greater warriors and wiser beings than either of us will ever be have tried to resist them, defeat them, manipulate them even… If I told you the names of those who fell to them you would not believe it…” His tone suddenly became soothing, “…Be content with this…I have heard nothing that I suspected was them for nearly 150 years…I pray it means they have finally secured their borders…returned to their farms and forests…and may they remain unmolested till the universe dies.  Or they do…”

A glint in D’Aylanna’s eye unnerved him for a moment.  Without having seen a being like Ari—let alone Valens—in the flesh she could not truly appreciate just what a danger they posed…and Kazic well knew that if she ever did encounter one…well, it would already be too late.

Nur’us…I know this is a burden…but someone must carry it and…and I cannot trust anyone else…their power carries a great burden even to them.  And when faced with that potential, the temptation to harness it for your own desires…such as I did…” The firmness of his features dissolved back as the weight of his errors overcame the conviction of the order he had to give her for a moment, “…and Ari’s kind know of this fact all too well.  They cannot be tamed or reasoned with in any conventional way.  They are not malevolent or power hungry in the general sense…only defensive, much like an engendered and protected species…but like a dangerous wild predator, they are…primal.  And while they may wear the face of a sentient, they are slaves to their instincts.  Avoidance is the only safe course…but if contact occurs you must play by their rules and part as soon as possible… The lives of billions could depend upon it.”

D’Aylanna stared at him, absorbing—calculating—everything that Kazic had told her.  But he wasn’t finished.

“…And it is for those reasons that I…altered…the histories of the Vhal’Dan in the Archives.” Kazic’s body seemed to slacken further, another secret finally revealed.

Instead of wasting time disputing him, D’Aylanna asked, “How?”

Smiling up at her impressed, Kazic continued, “Good Nur’us…that’s why it had to be you… When I was Kage—and what I never divulged to anyone—was that I created an exclusive backdoor exploit for the entire Vhal’Dan database…one that I and I alone knew about.  And so: every 20-30 years I would change some of the information in the Archives, a date here, a detail there, an erasure or redaction that would never be missed or questioned by the next few generations of Vhal’Dan…”

D’Aylanna nodded.  “So that’s why I thought that the Civil War was one- to two centuries later than they actually were…” Her dark eyes locked onto Kazics, considering and astute.  “And no one else is aware of this still I assume…” It was more statement than question.

“Just us…and soon…very soon…only you.”  Kazic’s red eyes seemed to glow.  “Nur’us…I…I have a datanode…in my apartments.  I’ve…I’ve already keyed it to your genetic ident.  Should anyone else try to open it, all data will be irretrievably wiped.  However, for you…you now have access to the backdoor exploit.  There are…some files that…that I’ve…I need to delete.  I would…would ask that you…” Weakened, he fell silent.  Looking up, Kazic saw the resolute look upon D’Aylanna’s face and was relieved.

“This duty…I…accept it.  Yet…it sits ill with me Father,” D’Aylanna’s voice filled the stillness, becoming stern for but a moment.

“And well it should…” he whispered just as somberly. “…well it should…”


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on September 12, 2019, 02:26:40 PM
Back to the present, and the burden is passed.  D'Aylanna has accepted a very grave and heavy burden indeed.

And I can 't quite shake the notion that Saan'i's body and ... mind? ... are still around, still trapped...

Keep it coming, Dutchman!   :-)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Lord_S_Gray on September 12, 2019, 03:24:29 PM
And I can 't quite shake the notion that Saan'i's body and ... mind? ... are still around, still trapped...

That is exactly what I thought too, plus where is Lor-Riou? According to Saani she gave him to Ansons supporters...but given her mental state that might not have been true. Was he hidden, lived and died in those years Kazic searched for a way to revive Saani...or perhaps given his mixed heritage mean he could potentially be alive still, the Anzat and Aethan-enhanced Twi'leki both could lead to a long life span.

Now the burden of vigilance is passed to D'Alyanna...and unfortunately for everyone when the do encounter Ari's people once more...she is off fighting the Revenant. I do feel for Kazic, he tried his best, for so long to put things right, but no matter his age and experience he remains as fallible as anyone, and due to his long life has had to pay and ruminate on those mistakes over and over, and patiently trying to protect the Vhal Dan over generations by amending the records to achieve that end.

Many tantalizing threads still hanging, excited to see where this, or another tale, heads next.


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: PsychoSith on September 13, 2019, 09:56:00 AM
Wow, I decided to get caught up on this and didnt realize the volume you put out Dutchman. Phenominal job! It's a great read!feel really bad for Kazic tho


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on September 13, 2019, 11:25:38 AM
Wow, I decided to get caught up on this and didnt realize the volume you put out Dutchman. Phenominal job! It's a great read!feel really bad for Kazic tho

Yeah, Kazic is definitely shaping up as a tragic figure.   


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 14, 2019, 09:38:48 AM
And I can 't quite shake the notion that Saan'i's body and ... mind? ... are still around, still trapped...
And you'd be right Karm!  But more on that later...

That is exactly what I thought too, plus where is Lor-Riou? According to Saani she gave him to Ansons supporters...but given her mental state that might not have been true. Was he hidden, lived and died in those years Kazic searched for a way to revive Saani...or perhaps given his mixed heritage mean he could potentially be alive still, the Anzat and Aethan-enhanced Twi'leki both could lead to a long life span.

Now the burden of vigilance is passed to D'Alyanna...and unfortunately for everyone when the do encounter Ari's people once more...she is off fighting the Revenant. I do feel for Kazic, he tried his best, for so long to put things right, but no matter his age and experience he remains as fallible as anyone, and due to his long life has had to pay and ruminate on those mistakes over and over, and patiently trying to protect the Vhal Dan over generations by amending the records to achieve that end.

Many tantalizing threads still hanging, excited to see where this, or another tale, heads next.
As are you LSG!  Let's just say...I've left strings that you'll no doubt recognize in hindsight  ;)

Wow, I decided to get caught up on this and didnt realize the volume you put out Dutchman. Phenominal job! It's a great read!feel really bad for Kazic tho
Yeah, Kazic is definitely shaping up as a tragic figure.   
My thanks PS!  I'm honored that you think so  :)  Annddd yeah just as Karm stated, poor Kazic REALLY goes through the ringer in Schisms...
I really appreciate the feedback (makes me a better writer...speaking of...)

I am very, VERY lucky to have found not only a community in which I feel comfortable displaying my stories BUT even better a group of fellow fans that are supportive.  It goes further still: the most incredible part is the fact that I have a group of peers that not only have their own fantastic stories BUT also are/were willing to collaborate with a shared continuity!  I have NO doubt that thanks to them (*cough Karm, LSG, TDC, TR, LR cough) my writing has improved and would be no where near as good as it would be without them.

But a special "THANK YOU!" to everyone who reads these stories!  Without you, I would NOT be here  :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: Karmack on September 14, 2019, 12:07:53 PM
Agreed on the last.  We gain a lot by reading each other's work and sometimes working together, but its great when someone comes in and comments who hasn't before.   Thanks PS!  :-)

I haven't had a chance to write like I did for the first couple of years, but I am so grateful to see this forum vibrant and self-sustaining, even branching out with the saber design threads.  Thanks guys!  Y'all make me happy!  :)


Title: Re: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War
Post by: TheDutchman on September 14, 2019, 12:28:16 PM
Again, special thanks for LSG's contribution  :)
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(https://i.ibb.co/sH31tF8/Alarice4.jpg) (https://ibb.co/sH31tF8)(https://thumb.ibb.co/c87Pwc/1632208-akku.jpg) (https://ibb.co/c87Pwc)
Chapter 38: A Daughter’s Forgiveness

Within the convalescent suite, the silence that followed Kazic’s confession was in stark contrast to the tale that he’d woven over the long night.  Still holding his hand, her Force Healing virtually the only reason that Kazic had lasted this long, D’Aylanna sat back in her seat, processing all that she’d heard.

And on the agreement that she’d made, both as a favor to her father as well as for the good of the Vhal’Dan Order.

Her dark eyes stared into the wasted face of the venerable Anzat, her face blank.  The atmosphere between the two felt palpable, the magnitude of what had passed significant and prodigious.

“And so now you understand, Nur’us…” Kazic lamented.  Although relieved to be free of his secrets he now felt the full weight of concern for his beloved daughter, his family not by blood but rather by choice.  He understood the burden that was now hers to bear—yea Maker he’d done so himself for centuries!—knowing her to be the Vhal’Dan’s best chance at survival…but he commiserated with her nonetheless.  “I am so, so very sorry to saddle you with this, Dear One…” He began.

“…Don’t be, Father.  As I said: I understand without condemning nor condoning.” Her voice was objective, impersonal…for a moment.  But when next she spoke she smiled, her tone matching the love that she felt for the old Anzat.  “Father, you did what you thought best.  We are all of us fallible.  And without allaying any responsibility for your actions, I feel that you have been remiss in not addressing all of the good that you’ve done in your life.”  Leaning close, she kissed his forehead.  “If not for you, neither I nor my Shakal would be here and—by extension—neither would your granddaughter, Jorya.  Yes Father, you’ve made mistakes…but as I said: who has not?  But more importantly you’ve given hope, life, and happiness to many…many that would’ve otherwise suffered had it not been for you.  Focus on that, my dear Kazic.” She tenderly replied.

Hearing those words, Kazic’s face relaxed somewhat, gratitude and love radiating from him.  But even now there was an undercurrent of regret.  “…Thank you, Nur’us.  I…I cannot have asked for better children…a better family.”  He began coughing again but it was subdued compared to what he’d been experiencing.  And he knew that his time had come.  “D’Aylanna…please go get my son and granddaughter now.”  His sad eyes looked past her.  “Time…time to say ‘goodbye…’”

With a silent tear rolling down her dark cheek, D’Aylanna nodded, smiling briefly while assuring Kazic that she would return forthwith.  After the tension of telling his tale throughout the evening, Kazic suddenly felt very comfortable in the aircouch, his lidded eyes witnessing the diminutive form of his daughter regally glide from his convalescent suite, her gray and navy skirts making virtually no noise as she softly shut the door behind her.

And he reflected.

He’d lived a long life, much of it good…and much of it bad.  And his Nur’us had it exact: he had his family… Quiet tears pooled in his sunken eyes.  He cried but not for himself.  He cried for his granddaughter, Jorya…his son, Zearic…his Nur’us

He cried for all of those lost.  His wives…his friends…his colleagues from centuries past.  Those Vhal’Dan that were casualties of the Civil War…Kasah…Corvus…Tsar and later Jorol, their children…Arkady…Anson, his brother…Lor-Riou, his son…

…Saani, his Kanp’a

He smiled bitterly.  He hurt; by the Maker he hurt!  Throughout his life, he’d experienced physical pain beyond what most sentients had experienced, much less endured.  But even all of that…his heart ached for his children, for his friends, for them all.  Everything…all of it came crashing down upon him; everything that he’d suppressed, that he’d buried, that he’d forgotten.  He tried not to remember, he didn’t want to…

…Remember…

His cheek twitched.  Tentatively, he opened his eyes fully.  Something tickled his mind…elusive…eliciting both his past…as well as the present.  His eyes…something seemed…clouded…what…who?

…Daughter… It was…but not his Nur’us

“…Ari…” As if naming her had called the young woman he remembered, incredibly she stood before him.  She was just as he recalled: her red hair vibrant, aqua eyes luminous, an intangible but effervescent aura surrounding her.  “How…after so long…Ari…my daughter.”

She looked down on him sadly his time was fast running out, yet she bore a strange smile for all that.  “Not so long as you thought Father…” Reaching across, her fingers bathed in a red glow as she touched his forehead.  Inhaling almost violently, Kazic’s eyes shot open.

Like a key to a vault his mind was opened by the touch.  Memories locked away resurfacing in a tidal wave that made him wonder if this was the end, if his life was truly flashing before his eyes…

Even after what had happened with Saani…Ari could not remain at a distance forever… Dozens of times Kazic had wandered, following a thread she left for him in the daen nosi, every time surprised to find her in secluded places on distant worlds to spend time together…and not just her…Ari’s…children…grandchildren…

He remembered them all now...but not before because…

Suddenly Kazic was elsewhere, Zonama Sekot far, far away…instead of the comfortable if clinical suite of the convalescence ward, he found himself surrounded by pure whiteness…

“It’s the only way we can stay safe…” Ari had said amidst the cold winds of the Alderaan mountains, the incredible peaks towering over them, encircling them, hiding them.  “…I don’t want to shut you out…but there is a cost to ever seeing each other…”

He’d smiled against the snow flecked winds.  For her safety and arguably his own, he had to end each meeting by locking out the memory of it in his own mind…leaving him for the most part believing she was lost to him…until time allowed her to seek him out once more.

Years of bitter regret punctuated by unremembered moments of sweetness…

“I’ll take what I want and pay for it,” he had replied, helping to design the very mental blocks he would have to place on himself a mere three days later.

The frustrations afterward…thinking he had followed the daen nosi to an abandoned cabin in the wilds of Alderaan, a small island on Fresia, or a forgotten station in a terminal orbit of an insignificant planetoid for no reason or reward…no memory of what had actually occurred…repeated a dozen times over throughout the years…yet…

…Yet now it was worth it.

His self-imposed ignorance kept Ari—and more importantly her children and her children’s children—safe from the risk he might let slip even a hint at their existence.  None of his wives had even known, even the strongest in the Force among them couldn't sense a self-imposed mind wipe.

He reached out to grasp Ari’s hand…it held a strange…anti-firmness in the illusion as a series of green and aqua eyes always framed by red hair of some shade clustered behind her bidding silent goodbye to “Papa Kazic”…a legacy perhaps greater than any other he would leave, that Ari’s kind had at least one Outsider they could consider and would remember as Family.

“Rest peacefully Father,” Ari said quietly as the door opened behind her, her image fading out as D’Aylanna entered.

“Father!” D’Aylanna rushed back to his side, “What is wrong?”  Behind her, Jorya appeared above the Hapan Master’s shoulder, Zearic’s wide body seeming to eclipse them all.  …My family…ALL of my family…

He slowly became fully aware of his surroundings again.  He was sitting up in the aircouch, back straight with his arm held out, hand reaching as if gripping another… He barely realized he was still sobbing.

Oh how he wanted to tell them, to share his joy at recalling his other family…still more than he deserved…with her…with them…but he knew that such was not his place.

“Father…” Zearic said miserably.  “…you can’t go.”  He smiled bleakly.  “After all…who else is going to point out all of the mistakes that I’ll make as maenowan?”  His big shoulders slouched.

Smiling weakly, Kazic barked a laugh.  “…You know that…Nur’us is…is a better teacher than I ever was…”  He suddenly sobered.  “…Remember: always trust in one another, that the will of the For