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Author Topic: Schisms: The Vhal'Dan Civil War  (Read 28220 times)
TheDutchman
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« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2018, 09:32:42 AM »



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.
Logged

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Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

My sabers:Zearic's Aldrnari, Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, AS; Zearic's shoto, Apprentice v4 w/Obsidian, AS; Graflex SE w/Obsidian, GB; Archon v3 (modded w/ activation box) w/Obsidian, CG; Dark Sentinel v4 w/Obsidian, BR; Sentinel LE v4 w/Obsidian, GB; Initiate v5 w/Obsidian, AS; Sentinel LE v4 stunt, EG; Aeon LE v4 stunt, FO; Dominix v4 stunt, BR; Aeon v3 stunt, SY

Illyiss
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There are shadows darker still...


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« Reply #31 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...
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Darth Pandæmis

Peace is a lie...

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Light side points please.


« Reply #32 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...

:-/
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Taegin Roan
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« Reply #33 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.
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Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #34 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!
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Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

TheDutchman
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« Reply #35 on: March 15, 2018, 02:58:47 PM »


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.”
Logged

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Illyiss
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« Reply #36 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...
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« Reply #37 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....
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Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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« Reply #38 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...
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TheDutchman
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« Reply #39 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  Smiley) in eloquence!  LSG: nice call about Arkady; you are, of course, right  Wink

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...
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Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

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« Reply #40 on: March 20, 2018, 04:25:18 PM »



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…
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Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #41 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!
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Lord_S_Gray

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« Reply #42 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. 
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« Reply #43 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...
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« Reply #44 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....
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Lord_S_Gray

Surik: "Kreia, what are you—are you a Jedi, a Sith?"
Kreia: "Does it matter? Of course it does, such titles allow you to break the galaxy into light and dark, categorize it. Perhaps I am neither, and I hold both as what they are, pieces of a whole."

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