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Author Topic: The Storms of Exodus  (Read 9208 times)
Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2020, 09:23:35 PM »

Always love how you write Bane he's like the unstoppable force, utterly implacable and focused. The scene with Cir'lan too, the imagery of the moon and shadows about her...
Things are moving, we know where to...but who will be there when the tsunami hits among the new characters...and what will Rikard role if any be...
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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."

Karmack
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Light side points please.


« Reply #46 on: March 25, 2020, 12:53:09 PM »

Wow.  I am always impressed by these, and I love the narrative.   Thank you for sharing.   Bane is exactly what he should be, and seeing him dupe Kaan into doing his will for him...   Yeah.   Contempt is not misplaced in this case.  :-)

We know where its all going, but the journey is rich and inviting.  Well done, Dutch!   Looking forward to the rest!
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TheDutchman
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« Reply #47 on: June 13, 2020, 04:38:06 PM »


Chapter 12: The Unquiet Grave

Githany ran, the growing light of the cave entrance a beacon in front of her.  Behind: the Sith Lords of the Brotherhood fought Lord Hoth’s joint forces consisting largely of Coruscanti Jedi, Vhal’Dan and Mak’Tor specialists, including almost every single Cantor still alive.  Led by Lord Hoth himself, the 100 Jedi had engulfed the remainder of the Brotherhood in savage guerilla combat.

Within the caves the two forces met.  For such a relatively small encounter compared to the most recent campaigns, the combatants seemed to make up for the lack of numbers with their ferocity.  So as the two armies clashed within the caverns, every single Jedi within the Army of Light and the remaining Sith of the Brotherhood fought with wild abandon, both sides seeing an end.  

Well, most of the Brotherhood.

A sizable contingent of Skere Kaan’s most powerful Sith Lords were right now congregated in a linked circle, their respective Dark Side energies being drawn into and focused by Kaan himself.  As he spoke the ancient Sith words, his voice gaining volume as the recitation progressed, the fighting around him intensified.

Githany’s face dripped with sweat; she willed her legs to run faster.  Panic, terror the likes of which she’d never experienced crawled up from the pit of her stomach, a hard knot sticking in the back of her throat.  She must put as much distance between herself and the Dark One, who she knew to be completely delusional in his suicidal plans for Sith victory.

So eager was Githany to escape that she had abandoned her apprentice, Davorit deep within the caves.  Even this close to the surface, she could still hear the fighting between the Sith and Jedi armies, screaming as they killed, screaming as they died.

None of it mattered.

She could feel the power of the Dark Side coalescing into Kaan, his most faithful acolytes encircling him.  She shouldn’t have been able to feel them, to see them…but such was the intensity of the power gathered here that every Forceuser on the continent could feel that something was happening, if not exactly what.  But for those that were this close—like Githany—they could see within their minds the gathered Sith Lords as they concluded the Dark One’s ritual.  

Incredibly, a large silver ovoid had formed in the center of the Sith Lords, the metallic surface like liquid mercury, black flames beginning to lick the air almost hungrily…

Githany began to cry, utter dread constricting her throat so that instead of shouting intelligible words of warning, only primal screams tore forth from her mouth.  The cave entrance was only another fifteen meters away, but it might as well have been on the other side of the galaxy.

She closed her eyes tightly, allowing her to see with perfect clarity the Force vision that assaulted her.  The Jedi had broken through the Brotherhood’s ranks, swarming the Sith Lords as they made their last stand within the caves.  Githany saw the Jedi crash through the line, individual combatants seemingly frozen in time as even the most insignificant detail was laid bare before her: a blond Vhal’Dan Jedi with a teal blade cut down two Sith Lords before engaging another, a slender Mak’Tor Jedi with a ghostly orange lightsaber taking on an entire group of Sith by himself, a bearded Cantor, his shoulders sagging under some unseen burden, his eyes haunted yet full of…acceptance?  Submission?  Or perhaps something else; for Githany, she didn’t care…

She saw as Lord Hoth himself was at the fore the vanguard, intent on confronting the Dark One himself.  His broad face beheld a mixture of resolve and resignation.  But she knew that—like herself—Hoth was too slow.  As Hoth reached for Kaan, Githany opened her eyes.  The mouth of the cave lay ten meters away.

But then she felt…it.

Like a star going supernova, the silver ovoid construct of the Thought Bomb reached critical mass, violently exploding outwards.  Everyone—be they Sith or Jedi—within the blast radius were immolated by the Dark Force energies as the shockwave expanded, annihilating anything it touched.

From the people within the caves to the long, adjacent valley, the Thought Bomb shockwave destroyed almost everything.  Even those Force-sensitives that were kilometers away were adversely affected directly proportional to their proximity to the detonation.  And their strength in the Force.

But one and all they would never forget the horror that was the Seventh Battle of Ruusan.

               <<<<< >>>>>



Cir-Lan couldn’t believe the diminished numbers of the Brotherhood even as she was attacked by three of them.  With a tight orbit, she deflected their red lightsabers, two of the Sith Lords falling upon her riposte, the last barely able to parry her teal blade.  Not that it mattered; Cir-Lan’s next attack took the Sith’s head from her body.

Before her opponent hit the ground, Cir-Lan was already wading through the Sith line.  She spied Master Gray Dyrald Reu Lai, Sulen’s husband.  The stocky human was surrounded and in danger of being overrun by a group of Sith Sorcerers.  With speed given wings thanks to the Force, Cir-Lan scythed through their flank before they could react, killing three before they’d even noticed her presence.  By that time, a couple of Vhal’Dan Forcesages had come to Dyrald’s aid, more than evening the odds.  Wordlessly, the short Gray Master nodded his thanks before once again focusing his Force powers against the Brotherhood on the Sith line.

With a moment to spare, Cir-Lan gazed ahead at Lord Hoth, watching as he smashed through the line.  Following the large Jedi Lord, Cir-Lan’s eyes locked onto the group of Sith in the distance, something reflective behind them.  Was…was that…liquid silver?  She couldn’t tell; yet when her eyes fell upon it, a surge of panic began to rise within her.  …What in the Maker-damned hell is that…? She thought.  But before she could contemplate it further, she felt a disturbance within the Force, followed by a sharp flash of blinding light.

And before Cir-Lan could react—save the widening of her eyes—the silver ovoid exploded forth in an ever-expanding wave.  …Oh, frate— She began, her thoughts on her twin brother before the Thought Bomb vaporized her completely.

And the wave expanded outwards, the killing far from over.

               <<<<< >>>>>



Mak’Tor Jedi Master Jar'es'Kinsler focused on the next group of Sith as he slammed them into the ceiling with a violent and powerful Force Push before using their broken bodies as missiles against the remaining Brotherhood.

With only a split-second’s warning, Jar’es felt the disturbance within the Force, his ghostly orange blade suddenly flaring brightly.  He had enough time to see the annihilating wave of silver wash over everyone before the realization that it would reach him in the time between thoughts.

Yet as the liquid silver burning fire rushed towards him, Jar’es felt himself being pulled downwards, away from the destructive onslaught…down and within himself it seemed.

As the Mak’Tor Master disappeared before the expanding wave, no one was any the wiser of his fate—his true fate—even after the caves collapsed upon the void that the Thought Bomb detonation left in its wake.

And centuries would pass before anyone would.

               <<<<< >>>>>



Even as exhausted as his Cantors were, To’Lon’Al’Brem knew that each and every one of them gave everything of themselves in the hopes of swiftly ending the Sith threat.  He felt a resurgence of pride…pride mitigated by sorrow.  He could only hope that Sa’Ra, his children, and the small contingent of Cantors that had accompanied them were safe.  

He silently prayed to the Maker, daring to hope that this would not be the end…that somehow, someway his Cantors would be spared this destruction, that they would prevail…

…But he knew what had to occur, what must happen…lest the prophecy of the One be all for naught.  Ja’Kob had told him, had foreseen it all.  The One would come, come and inaugurate the Golden Age of the Mak’Tor.  It almost made To’Lon smile…

…Until he remembered the cost.  By the Maker, the cost!

And right before the Thought Bomb’s destructive explosion engulfed him, To’Lon’s last thoughts lingered on his family, and the desperate hope that he’d somehow left the galaxy a better place, his and the other Cantors’ sacrifice made not in vain…

               <<<<< >>>>>



As the Dark Side energies converged upon Kaan, the enormous silver ovoid grew pregnant with destructive power, each syllable of the ritual bringing him that much closer to his ultimate victory.  His Brotherhood would rule the galaxy!  He only needed but a moment longer…

Behind him, the silver ovoid of the Thought Bomb continued to grow, burnished ripples accompanied by black flames that cast eerie shadows throughout the caverns, transforming the gathered Sith and Jedi into a writhing mass, angels and daemons terrible to behold.  

But none so dreadful as the ovoid itself.

In front of Kaan, his Sith Lords fought on against the 99 Jedi that Hoth had brought with him.  The Dark One smiled; did Hoth really think that he could win, especially with only 100?!  As if thinking of the Jedi Lord had conjured him forth, Kaan saw the Seneschal of Light himself before him, just past the Sith line.

And in that moment, their eyes locked.

Kaan noticed that Hoth neither looked angry nor eager; the Jedi Lord’s face was somber, almost sad.  Still, he fought as hard as he’d ever had, clearly intent upon Kaan.  And that was all the “evidence” that the Dark One needed; to him, he knew that his victory was now inevitable.  

Kaan smiled, having uttered the final word of the ritual.  The Brotherhood would triumph; first Ruusan but soon the entire galaxy!  The Dark Side filled him, encompassing him, permeating the entire cavern, even the air!  He was invincible!

But then…he felt it.  Those same Dark Side energies continued to expand, well beyond his control.  Turning his head, Kaan’s eyes locked onto the silver ovoid, widening in panic and disbelief when he saw the quicksilver surface explode in black flames that annihilated everything.

The Dark One’s final thought—one that burned as intensely as the Thought Bomb detonation that immolated him—would accompany his torment for centuries, helping to create the most powerful Force Nexus in the galaxy.  Hate, fear, resentment, and jealousy subsumed the area, the caves collapsing in on themselves forming what would be known as the Valley of the Jedi.

Ruusan was forever changed: flora, fauna, entire ecospheres, even cities succumbed to the Thought Bomb’s devastation.  Those not killed in the initial detonation would suffer from the ensuing planetary catastrophe, depopulating most of the planet as a result.  Those that did survive were…changed.  But that was not the worst of it…

The Force Nexus was so potent that in a few short years the established hyperspace lanes disappeared, leaving Ruusan inaccessible from the galaxy at large.

Of course, none of this mattered to Skere Kaan.  His singular thought took up the entirety of his awareness as he was consumed by the Thought Bomb, one that would torment him within the hell prison of the Force Nexus…

How was it that Bane had gotten the better of him?

               <<<<< >>>>>



From his mountaintop vantage several kilometers from the Thought Bomb detonation, Darth Bane witnessed the fruition of his plans as the last of the Brotherhood was eradicated from the galaxy.  He gave a rare full smile; the deaths of 100 Jedi—including that of Lord Hoth—were an unexpected benefit.  Kaan’s Sith were no more.  Everything was as he’d foreseen.

His cheek twitched.  No, not “everything.”  His plans for his intended apprentice had failed.  That weak Light-Sided fool Rikard Macias!  His hands balled into fists, corded muscles in his forearms bulged while his jaw clenched in teeth-grinding frustration.  It was not his place to question the Dark Side but how could he have been so mistaken?

Of course, everything that had happened had led him here, to this instant.  No, he would forever remain devoted to the Dark Side.  Perhaps…perhaps it was he that had done something wrong—

With a suddenness that caught his breath, Bane felt a disturbance in the Force, one that he not only recognized but indeed welcomed.  Running down from the summit, his long legs carried him across the rough, rock-strewn ground and into the thickening trees that made up the mountain wilderness.  Even though it had been several minutes since he’d felt the disturbance, Bane was easily able to locate the exact position; it was almost as if the Dark Side was a beacon directing him.

As the trees gave way to a rocky clearing, Bane knew he was close, the scent of sulfur permeating the air from the nearby fumaroles.  Incredulously, he stopped short, the tableau before him something he would have never expected: in front of him on her knees was a tear-streaked girl, two Jedi with their heads at odd angles and a green Bouncer laid about her, all three dead.  Bane said nothing at first, wordlessly surveying the site.  Then she looked up at him, eyes still wet and red.  …Interesting… He thought.  She had absolutely no fear, none at all.

“What are you doing here?” Bane’s quiet voice held no malice, yet there was a cruel bent to his tone.

“I…they, they killed him.  They killed Laa…” More tears spilled from her eyes, anger tinging her voice.

“The Jedi?” Bane already knew the answer, instead asking another question.  “Who are you, girl?”

The girl’s lip trembled when she answered.  “I…Rain.” She whispered.  Then, giving an almost imperceptible shake of her head, she said louder, “Zannah.  My name is Zannah.”  Even as she looked up at Bane with her tear-soaked eyes, he could sense no fear from her.  Perhaps…was this what the Dark Side meant for him to learn?  Fascinated, he crossed his arms across his muscular chest.

“I am Darth Bane.” He announced.  The girl’s face did not so much as move a muscle.  “Do you know who I am?”

“You’re a Sith.” She said absent any terror.

“You’re not afraid of me?” It wasn’t so much a question as a statement.

“No.” Zannah’s tone was matter of fact.  

Bane hid his surprise behind an impassive mask of cold disinterest.  “I have killed many people.  Men, women…even children.” He prodded, hoping to elicit a response.  He was quickly rewarded for his efforts.

“I’m a killer, too.” She pointedly looked at the two Jedi before her, no longer crying.  “They killed Laa…my friend.” Her face contorted in anger.  “I…I hate them.”  When next she gazed into Bane’s eyes, he could see the hatred burning within the girl.  “And if I could, I’d kill them again.”  Her fists were wrapped so tight that her fingernails had cut into her palms, drawing blood.  “I…I don’t know the ways of the Force, not really.  My…someone once told me that I could learn.  But…but I need a teacher.”  Her face was harder than durasteel.  “I know I’m young.  And…and I don’t know the…Dark Side…” She fumbled over the words, but only momentarily.  “…But I swear: I will learn from you.”  Her eyes burned brightly.  “I…I want your power.”

Bane smiled, wide and sincere.  He knew that his faith had once again been rewarded.  “And you’ll be given the chance, Zannah.  Not on these Jedi, of course…but anyone—everyone—like them… Yes, you shall revenge yourself upon the weak fools who would subjugate your passion, your strength.”  He held out his hand to her, offering her more than she ever could have dreamed of…or envisaged.  “You shall be my apprentice.  Together, we shall be worthy successors of the Dark Side.”  When next he spoke, his tone was almost gentle.  “Rise, Darth Zannah.”  

Gripping his enormous hand with both of hers, Zannah took to her feet.  Standing before him, Bane utterly dwarfed the girl.  Turning on his heel, he began to walk the way from which he’d just come.  Following him, the girl was forced to run in order to catch up but she noticed that the tall man’s silhouette seemed to eclipse the sun.  No, that wasn’t right; the light was getting dimmer.  Looking past her new master she saw the large, billowing cloud of ash, detritus, and airborne dirt now darkening the sky.  “What…what is that?” Her voice held equal parts amazement and apprehension.

Bane looked over his shoulder, never once slowing, simply stating two words: “Our destination.”
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Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #48 on: June 14, 2020, 03:33:12 PM »

Surly its about time Disney gave you a book deal to re adapt the whole New Sith wars as a series! What an ending...for some characters at least...the unstoppable force of crazed mania on Kaan's part made manifest.  Poor Cir'Lan I quite liked her shame to see her and presumably Dyrald as well struck down, as if Rikard has not lost enough....though Jar'es'Kinsler was...interesting being pulled into himself with a picture of a crystal...and Bane again following the Dark Side trusting in it over and over to round out the classic scene from the comic so long ago, i can't recale it fully but I didn't think he spoke that much to Zannah at that stage, but still given this is translating the more visual medium to pure text the change makes sense. 
But lets not forget this is about largely the Vhal'dan presumably the Storm has hit now the Exodus from Ruusan begins...we know the Vhal'Dan endure, thrive even, but the path from here to Galtea....and who even survives to tread it...
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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 #49 on: March 09, 2021, 10:35:35 AM »

Sorry about the belated submission but Real Life keeps getting in the way.  For those of you who've stuck around: THANK YOU  Smiley  Anyhow, without further ado...
*********************************************************************************************************************************


Chapter 13: The Sweetest Tongue Hides the Sharpest Tooth, Part I

Striding into his newly acquired office, Tarsus Valorum took a moment to survey the spanning tableau before him: the entire south wall was a transparasteel ovoid window overlooking the Coruscant Senate District perched atop the Republic Executive Building, the city stretching towards the horizon, as far as his eyes could see.  His posture was constrained, his face blank and unreadable.  He turned, facing the small retinue that had presumed to follow him into the opulent room.

"You may leave." His voice broached no argument, the hard set of his eyes staring down all but the most stalwart of individuals.

Dismissing his attendants and advisors, he rounded the formal Chancellor's table--colloquially referred to as the Resolute Desk--and sat rigidly in the oversized-if-simple chair.  Once finally alone, he allowed himself to relax.  Somewhat.

For the first time in over 400 years, the Senate had elected a non-Jedi to the office of Supreme Chancellor.  And now, according to the latest intelligence reports, the Army of Light was close to breaking the Brotherhood, the Sith Lords all but finished.  There were still enough Dark Siders that hostilities continued but Skere Kaan was no longer the galactic threat that he had been.  With the Dark One no longer a major consideration with the decisive victory for the Army of Light, the Republic could finally turn its attention to concerns other than war.  And he was in the perfect position in which to enact new policies, an agenda years in the making.  Yes, the 6th Battle of Ruusan had been exceedingly helpful in Valorum's election...that and the fact that any Jedi opposition was off-world.  Oh, there were Jedi on Coruscant, but none with the political acumen or clout of any of the Jedi Lords.

Most importantly: Lord Hoth, the Seneschal of Light was conspicuously absent.  Valorum's lips turned up at the corners; yes, war was horrible...but it presented some truly unique and serendipitous opportunities.  It was for that precise reason that the Chancellor had called upon the Senate to initiate emergency election proceedings: Lord Hoth not only would've won had he been on Coruscant but--and this was by far worse--he would have perpetuated the archaic system that had led the galaxy to the very war they found themselves in.

The Republic needed new blood, new direction.

Of course, there would be some growing pains; Valorum was first a realist.  But he was also a visionary.  Unfortunately, that also meant that in order for the Supreme Chancellor to implement change, the Old Guard must be torn down and swept away.  Pursing his lips in thought, Valorum considered having Hoth removed altogether; after all, a martyr always made an excellent figurehead in which to garner support.  And he still had his contacts in the Fpi Assassins, or he could always enlist the services of the Loag...

Shaking his head, Valorum dismissed the idea.  He wasn't worried that anything could be tied back to him, rather he worried that the Jedi would do exactly that, using Hoth for their own designs.  He smirked; it would be remarkably simple for them to propose a "Vote of No Confidence" in the Supreme Chancellor's leadership, his tenure incredibly brief.

Thankfully, Valorum always hedged his bets.

He'd been in contact with one of Hoth's most powerful allies, working slowly yet inexorably to win the man over to his side.  Surprisingly, it hadn't taken anywhere near the effort that the Supreme Chancellor had thought it would.  He chalked it up to the fact that not only would there be like-minded Jedi, those that saw necessary change as progress, but also--and this was important--were as tired of war as the rest of the galaxy.

From such beginnings, Valorum knew that he could implement sweeping changes, genuinely convinced that once having done so, the Republic would rise from the ashes of conflict better and stronger than ever.  

Valorum swiveled in his chair to again look out the window.  He sought neither glory nor recognition, but Tarsus believed in the absolute and inviolate dream of a Grand Republic, one where sentients throughout the galaxy could exist with the hope of justice and their right to live their lives as they saw fit.  He would finally put an end to the incessant fighting, conflicts flaring from the millions of loose confederations that currently made up the Republic.  Instead, he would streamline a convoluted, bloated, and ineffectual institution, reorganizing those systems into 1,024 sectors, each given equal representation by their elected Senators.
 As for the Jedi, Valorum would de-militarize the Order, instead placing them under the auspices of the Republic's Judicial Department.  While they would still act in their capacity of "peace-keepers," the Jedi would no longer be an independent entity and certainly not one that could threaten the Grand Republic.  

The Supreme Chancellor was utterly convinced that he could inaugurate such a government.

...And that not everyone would be happy about it.  

Sighing, Valorum stood, squaring his shoulders.  Well, he never once expected that everyone would be accepting of the Grand Republic.  He was suddenly reminded of the Wookie proverb: "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."  His eyes again hardened.  Both he and Hoth were patriots.

...And they were tyrants.

Tarsus knew that the transition would experience opposition, but he already had planned accordingly.  And as for those secret promises that Hoth had made in order to secure support for his Army of Light...Valorum had planned for that as well.

Pressing a button on the Resolute Desk, he spoke in a clipped, polished tone.  "Please connect me to the Fairwind."  As the Supreme Chancellor waited for the holonet connection--the distance between Coruscant and Ruusan too great for instantaneous communication--he mentally recalled the key points he would make.  And even though he was not Force-sensitive, he too felt the magnitude of future prospects.

He, Tarsus Valorum, would do everything to ensure that his ideals of a Grand Republic were realized...no matter what.

            <<<<< >>>>>



From atop his mountain vantage, Jedi Lord Valenthyne Farfalla, general of the Army of Light, stared at the devastated landscape before him.  ...By the Way... His disbelief was completely at odds with his disposition.  Outwardly, his armor gleamed, the diadem that crowned his head was pristine with rubies adorning his brow, his flowing, perfumed blonde hair giving him an effeminate quality.  If anyone assumed that he was anything other than the outstanding Jedi warrior that he was, they would be...disabused of such predilections.  And if they thought him vain, they kept such critiques to themselves, whispered only in small groups, always as rumor and never with a definitive origin.  Not that Farfalla cared; he knew his own worth.

That said, he had the courage of his convictions to know that Lord Hoth was a man that he would follow, from one side of the galaxy to the other.  ...He knew...he knew and yet he still went... He marveled, thinking back to the final discussion that he'd had with the rugged Jedi Lord.  Hoth had told him that he'd seen their victory, that the Army of Light would finally vanquish the Brotherhood once and for all...but in doing so it would cost him his life.

It was the reason that he'd been adamant that only volunteers accompany him against Skere Kaan, the reason that Hoth had ordered Farfalla to pull back, the reason that he'd left Jedi Lord Chillum in charge back at their base.  He knew that for the galaxy to have a lasting peace, he would have to sacrifice himself and 99 others on the alter of freedom.

But those deaths would pay dividends, resulting in the total annihilation of the Sith.  Or so Hoth had told him; Farfalla wasn't so sure...

As he'd pulled his Jedi back from the caves, they'd encountered a contingent of the Brotherhood being led by the Sith Lord Kopecz.  They had not fought like an army routed; no they were still as deadly as any Kodashi viper, especially Kopecz.  Shaking his head, Farfalla was still amazed: the Twi'Leki Sith Lord had not been what he'd expected.  Kopecz had demonstrated a personal honor that the half-Bothan had come to expect from the Jedi Lords he'd fought together with, like Grand Master Berethon, as well as Kages Chillum and Macias.

For while Farfalla ordered his Jedi to track down and eliminate the remaining Sith, Kopecz had utterly refused to flee the field.  A lone figure amongst the mountainous hills flanking the valley caves, the Twi'Leki Sith stood tall in the face of the Army of Light.  Even had he not been honor-bound to do so, Farfalla dismounted his speeder to meet his opponent for single combat, curious to say the least.

He smirked.  In Bothan society, there was no such thing as an "honorable duel;" there was only the victor and the vanquished.  How your opponent lost was immaterial; that they had and you alone were left standing was all that mattered.  As a half-Bothan, it personally disgusted him that such perfidy should be exemplified on Bothawui as "The Way."  Farfalla almost barked a laugh.  He had more in common with those provincial Vhal'Dan than with his own species, the Gray Jedi's doctrine of P’Rae’Lior as a means for a redress of grievances one that Farfalla found honorable, laudable even.

It was that admiration that Farfalla felt when Kopecz--already mortally wounded--demanded that the Jedi Lord face him.  The Twi'Leki had known that he was dying, that he'd be no match for Farfalla.  Still...

Regardless of what Kopecz had done in life, at least he'd died well.

It was a sobering thought, one that invariably led Farfalla back to Lord Hoth's fate.  His fate...and his legacy, one that the half-Bothan would see to fruition.  Peace throughout the galaxy.  It was these thoughts that helped to galvanize Farfalla as he ordered the withdrawal of his Jedi from the valley of death.

With suddenly much to do and with no time to do it, General Valenthyne Farfalla commanded his adjutants attend him as he headed back to the Army of Light's base.  He and Hoth had been at odds for how to proceed when...no, if, the Army of Light had succeeded.  Hoth had been desperate against the inexorable Sith tide that had rent the galaxy asunder for almost a millennia.
 His only concern had been "Stop the Brotherhood" and nothing afterwards...or the detrimental results that such a vacuum would create.

Farfalla knew better.

The galaxy by and large was united for the moment, but without a common foe, old transgressions would soon surface, reigniting disputes and long standing grudges.  Or perhaps some other force would rise up, intent on taking advantage during the aftermath of the New Sith War.  But those weren't the most immediate concerns...

Many of the Jedi Lords that had joined Hoth had done so with the understanding that their participation would be rewarded.  Coupled with the fact that these same Lords were of an era that knew only war, they would invariably revert to their lowest common denominator: warriors.

Warriors...when what the galaxy needed now was stability.

Peace.

But Farfalla knew that such peace could be ephemeral.  He readied himself once again for battle, only this time of a different arena.  The Army of Light had won the galactic peace that they'd fought so hard to achieve.  Now, Farfalla would help to ensure that it remained so.

            <<<<< >>>>>



Deep down in the darkness, surrounded by shadows darker than night, Rikard Macias drifted in a haze of pain, sorrow, self-pity, and apathy.  Every iota of his being, his resolve, had been called into question...and found wanting.  He'd been convinced of his prowess, of his convictions; it had helped him to secure the office of Kage for the newly formed Vhal'Dan Order.  He'd beaten all of his opposition, every opponent, every pretender...all of them trying to drag the Order back to the time of the Clans, all seven fighting one another as fiercely as they had fought the Sith.  For centuries--no, millennia--the Vhal'Dan had lived and died on Istic III.  Shunned by the Jedi Order, left alone (for the most part) by the Sith, the Clans had had no reason to congregate, to amalgamate.

But then the Brotherhood had come.

It was Rikard that had championed the idea of a united Vhal'Dan, looking to their Mak'Tor allies as the example to implement the office of Kage, a position that would surpass even the established role of Clan Arbiter.  The alternative: the annihilation of their disparate Clans at the hands of the Dark One's forces.

Rik had united the Clans, he and Sulen and Cir-Lan, they three together saving the Vhal'Dan.

...All for nothing.

Bane had shown Rik what true power was.  And pain.  And hopelessness.  Everything that Rikard had been, was, and ever would be was now focused upon the singularity of his failures.  And so, sinking ever further into oblivion, Rikard's thoughts turned within, around and around themselves like a Mobius strip.

...Rik...!

A nagging, intrusive thought flitted across Rik's consciousness.

...Rik...!!

This time, louder, demanding, more urgent.  Rik tried to ignore it.

...Rik...!!!

No longer able to disregard it, Rikard focused upon the irritant.  Suddenly, everything--his self-pity, his pain, his apathy--evaporated, forgotten.  ...Cir-Lan!...Soror!... He thought, reverting to the ancient Vhal'Dan term for "sister."  ...What's happened...where are you...?  He was still surrounded by darkness, yet he thought he could see a dark shade of gray.  ...Soror!?...

...You must not give up...do not succumb...they need you...now...always...Frater... Cir-Lan's voice sounded as if it were retreating, losing volume with every syllable.  ...you...are...the...Vhal'Dan...lead them...to...Gal...ea...love...you...  And quieter still: ...help...

Whatever he'd heard or thought he'd heard, it was what he needed.  Stark, crystal-clear lucidity accompanied by agonizing pain inundated him but it reminded him of his convictions--his Oaths--that he was responsible, that he was needed.

That he was alive.

As shocking as the experience was, in actuality Rikard slowly regained consciousness.  With each passing minute, he became more aware of his surroundings: he was floating in a bacta tank, the blurry shapes of two people standing in front of the tank breaking up the haziness of his perspective.  He thought that he might even recognize them...

...Sulen...Slo'Ma... Their names finally came to him after slipping through the fingers of his memory for long seconds.  There was another figure there...large, unfamiliar... But it helped him to focus.  That and the pain.

Incredibly and with agonizing slowness, Rikard's acuity began to return.  It would still be days before he could think comprehensively, longer still for his body to work, but he no longer felt the tendrils of oblivion threatening to drag him down.

If only such coherence would not have been accompanied with excruciating pain and inexorable loss.

            <<<<< >>>>>
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TheDutchman
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« Reply #50 on: March 09, 2021, 10:38:08 AM »


Chapter 13: The Sweetest Tongue Hides the Sharpest Tooth, Part II

"Sulen..." Slo'ma's quiet voice interrupted her contemplations.  Looking up at the taller human, she followed his gaze.

Completely alone and approaching the bacta tank from their left, Sarll slowly ambled over, his leg covered in a bacta-brace that only accentuated his limp.  Likewise, he had another bacta-brace covering the right side of his chest, shoulder, and arm, leaving the rest of his massive torso exposed.  Despite the thick fur covering his chest, Sulen counted many scars cross-hatching the large Cathar's upper body.  ...Not now... She inhaled slowly and released a breath, calming herself.  She fully expected a fight; after all, Sarll had always been antagonistic.

"Arbiter.  Master Singer." He gave two deferential bows of his head.  He even sounded...respectful?

"Speaker Båz Rhadde." Slo'ma's tone was neutral.  Of course Rikard had told his friend of his many disputes with the large Cathar.

"What is it you want, Sarll?" Sulen's normally unflappable tone was tinged with a hint of irritation.  Still, her immaculate visage looked as it always did: pristine and untroubled.  Besides, right now she was focused upon her brother, her's by bond if not blood.  And Sarll's presence here befouled both the solemnity of the situation as well as her mood.

Sarll nevertheless heard the unspoken rebuke.  Turning to face Sulen, he stood tall in front of her.  At 1.88 meters, Sulen was a tall woman yet Sarll dwarfed her.  Still, both of their faces could've been carved from quadranium.  But what happened next completely took the Vhal'Dan Arbiter by surprise.

"I wished to pay my respects...to the Kage." For the first time, Sarll did not so much as pause when addressing Rik by his cognomen.  He actually sounded polite...

Sulen couldn't believe it, although her face betrayed none of her feelings.  "Of course." She said, stepping aside.  Could this be some kind of ploy?  It certainly would not be the first time that he'd attempted something new.  That had always been Sarll's modus operandi: if one attack failed, he'd regroup, learning from his mistakes before initiating his next stratagem.  Clandestinely, Sulen kept watch over the Cathar Speaker from the corner of her eyes.

As each minute passed, the three Jedi stood in front of the bacta tank in silence, thoughts raging in each of their heads.  The tall human Arbiter considered every scenario in the hope of countering Sarll, each possibility examined and ultimately disregarded.  When Sarll finally did speak, Sulen couldn't believe her own ears.  "He saved my life.  From the Sith.  He didn't have to.  I would not have..."  Despite his quiet tone, Sarll's deep bass voice seemed to shake the ground; all the while, he continued to stare at Rikard as he floated in the tank.

Sulen had schooled her face, allowing none of her emotions to show.  But what she felt... Did Sarll mean what he'd just said?  And why would Rik save the Cathar; there was certainly no love lost between the two--

Suddenly, waves of pain, anger, panic, and horror inundated Sulen, the Arbiter found herself on her knees, her hands gripping her head.  It took a few moments for her to realize that it was not only her, but that everyone had been adversely affected: both Slo'ma and Sarll were also shaking their heads as if to clear their minds, their eyes full of pain.  She noticed that Sarll's face twitched in unfeigned agony as he grabbed at his chest while Slo'ma's nose had begun to bleed profusely.  For herself, Sulen felt as if someone had used her head to test a hammer, her body as if she'd ran 100 kilometers...only to have then lifted a speederbike for several hours.  She'd never felt anything so...debilitating, so invasive.

It had felt as if it had lasted hours, days...but when she consulted her chronometer, she was shocked to see that only two minutes had passed.  ...Surely not... She thought, disbelieving.  As it was she was barely standing!

Looking around, Sulen could see that every single Jedi had felt...whatever it was that had hit her.  And while most of them also looked worse for the wear--even those flat on their backs, prone upon the deck--the Arbiter could tell that the other Jedi were also slowly recovering.  It gave Sulen some comfort to see.  She caught movement in the corner of her eye.  ...By the Maker, Rik...! She thought surprised, scrutinizing the man within the bacta tank.

Even more surprisingly, Sulen could now see that his eyes were open...and lucid.  Smiling and amazed, Sulen placed her hands upon the transparisteel surface of the tank, mouthing "Frater" while her eyes began to tear up.  And while Rikard's face was covered by the breath mask, Sulen could see his eyes; within them she could feel the love, gratitude, and confusion that he also projected with the Force.  She felt a comforting large hand upon her shoulder.  Looking up, Sulen saw that Slo'ma had his own smile radiating from his face, one that not even his bloody nose could diminish.

Everything else momentarily forgotten, Sulen and Slo'ma shared a hug.  However, as she looked past Slo'ma's shoulder, Sulen noticed that Sarll looked pensive.  Whether or not the Cathar looked so due to the unknown event or from Rikard having regained consciousness, Sulen couldn't decide.

          <<<<< >>>>>



As the hyperspace tunnel collapsed back into starlines, the ship entered its orbital insertion window to make planetfall on Coruscant.  It had no markings, indeed it had a borrowed transponder so as to grant further anonymity.  Soon the ship had its landing permits, everyone none the wiser.

Joining one of the main aerial shipping lanes, the ship easily sped across the ecumenopolis' surface.  After a short time, it veered from the lane, exiting to the Senate District, specifically the Republic Executive Building.  Docking in one of the private landing bays, two lone figures exited the ship, their brisk pace indicative of their haste.  From their ship, they entered the building and, taking one of the innocuous service turbolifts, neither of the two saw anyone at all.  Exiting the lift, they strode unseen through labyrinthine corridors, making many turns before finally stopping in front of an otherwise completely unremarkable door.

After a moment, the door irised open, allowing the two figures entry before silently shutting behind them.  Squeezing through narrow passageways that seemed to lead to nowhere, the two were surprised when they found themselves stopped by a single blastdoor.  Looking askance at one another, they were about to speak when the heavy door slowly yet quietly opened.  In front of them stood a lone, slender human, a drink held within a casual grip.

"Jedi Lord Valenthyne Farfalla, so nice of you to come.  Please, make yourself at home." The human's voice was genial.  He did not address the other figure as he was still a padawan but knew exactly who the man was.  Gesturing, the human offered them entry into a luxurious room, one overlooking the Senate District.  And while Farfalla was unfazed by the cityscape spread out before him, the padawan gaped open-mouthed at the awesome--almost overwhelming--sight.

"Padawan Othone." Farfalla gently called, breaking the spell that the padawan had fallen under.  "Please sit here."  Uninvited, he took a seat himself opposite the human.  ...So begins the final battle... He thought.  In a controlled voice, the Jedi Lord addressed the human.  "So...you've called me here.  What is it you want, Chancellor?"

With a small smile playing upon his lips, Valorum stared deeply into the Jedi Lord's eyes.  "Nothing less than peace and security for the Republic."  His face was suddenly hard.  "My Republic."

As all three men squared against one another, the entire population of Coruscant--indeed the galaxy--went about its business, unaware of the monumental changes that would occur as a result of these three men and the decisions made during this meeting.
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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

Lord_S_Gray
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« Reply #51 on: March 09, 2021, 02:21:43 PM »

Enter the politicians now the warriors job is done...why do I get vibes of the Potsdam conference with the last scene, that the true new face of the Republic will be drawn up by a small coterie, and the warriors upon blood and bone this chance for reconstruction was built, namely the surviving Vhal'Dan and more militarized Jedi Lords, will be...discarded.

There is a kind of irony here, that in a sense Rikard getting curb stomped by Bane may have saved him, he was the type to have joined Lord Hoth in the final attack...not that that would feel like much consolation in his present living hell. Saril's change intone toward Rikard is also noticeable, a sense of humility for the first time in the Cathar.
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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 #52 on: March 09, 2021, 03:35:49 PM »

Enter the politicians now the warriors job is done...why do I get vibes of the Potsdam conference with the last scene, that the true new face of the Republic will be drawn up by a small coterie, and the warriors upon blood and bone this chance for reconstruction was built, namely the surviving Vhal'Dan and more militarized Jedi Lords, will be...discarded.

There is a kind of irony here, that in a sense Rikard getting curb stomped by Bane may have saved him, he was the type to have joined Lord Hoth in the final attack...not that that would feel like much consolation in his present living hell. Saril's change intone toward Rikard is also noticeable, a sense of humility for the first time in the Cathar.

Oh, nice.   I love that last meeting.  LSG, you're spot-on with the reference to the Potsdam conference.  Farfalla will become the new leader of the demilitarized (and de-politicized) Jedi while Valorum becomes the newly powerful Chancellor of a reorganized Grand Republic.

Ushering in a golden age of peace and prosperity that will last a thousand years...   ;-)
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