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Author Topic: The Storms of Exodus  (Read 780 times)
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
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Light side points please.

« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2019, 01:08:47 AM »

Thanks for the history lesson!  :-)   I really don't know that much about this time period, or the Sith Wars in general.  I expect they are fascinating.   

signature picture by DarthScrub

Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

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Force Alignment: 732
Posts: 2955

Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth

« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2019, 03:30:58 PM »

Chapter 4: Honor Due the Dead, part I

“The numbers are coming in now, Rik.” Sulen’s voice was quiet…pensive Rikard thought as she continued.  He couldn’t blame her: whatever it is that the Brotherhood had done, it had killed thousands, most from General Kiel’s battalion.  …Damned Sith bastards… He swore.  …At least the firestorm killed almost as many of them as ours…  Still: small consolation to lose so many good Jedi.  He suddenly focused his eyes on his Arbiter, something pulling at his attention.  “Sorry Su, what was that?”

Even with blood (not hers) and dirt on her face, it did nothing to take away from her regal complexion…or her poise.  Patiently, she gave a small smile.  “I said: Kiel is waiting in your bivouac along with Lord Chillum, General Farfalla, and Sage Slo’ma.” She absently pulled at a strand of her jet black hair that suddenly fell into her face.  “Oh, and Sarll…‘asked’ to speak to you.”

…Wonderful… “I’ll bet he did.” Rik deadpanned.  “I’ll deal with Sarll.  Last.”  Inhaling, he squared his shoulders.  “C’mon, Su.  Let’s see what our fellow Jedi have in mind.”  The tall woman fell into step next to Rikard.  Somehow, she’d been able to clean her armor; certainly she looked more the Jedi Lord than he.  “One of these days, you’ve got to teach me that, Su.”

“Trade secret, Arbiters only I’m afraid, Kage.” Su’s slanted eyes held a gleam of mirth within them.  “Besides: I’ve just begun to train you up so that you don’t use your hands whenever you eat.”  Rik turned a look of mock rebuke at her.  Su’s face didn’t change in the slightest.  “They’re called ‘utensils;’ you should try them sometimes.”  She pantomimed using a spoon.

Rik pretended exasperation.  “Sure, now that you’re entrenched within the office I suppose you’ll tell me that I’ve got to change my small-clothes, ‘Mrs. High-and-Mighty Arbiter.’”  He threw his hands up as if in capitulation.  “‘Black Rikard’ indeed.  Now I know why the Maker has forsaken me: He’s afraid that the women in my life will start with Him next…”  Looking out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Su crack a grin, followed by a small laugh.  He soon joined her, both of them making a curious spectacle walking through the camp laughing.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“Are you frelling insane?!  This stupidity is far-reaching, even for you, Kiel.” Rik spit, his good humor a thing of the past.  “Or are you trying to get the rest of us killed in your pursuit of ‘Glory?’”

If Kiel was intimidated, he hid it well.  Instead of his normally arrogant countenance, his lips were curled in the barest of self-satisfied smiles.  To say that it put Rik’s hackles up was an understatement.  Fighting an urge to put his fist through Kiel’s face to the back of his head, Rik went through a calming technique that Su would often suggest…just for times such as this.  It helped.  Somewhat.

“Please, Lord Macias, listen for a moment.”  General Farfalla’s light, singsong voice was meant to be comforting, serene.  A half-Bothan, Valenthyne Farfalla had an effeminate beauty typical of his ancestry.  That, combined with his high soprano voice, gave one the impression of fragility.  And to those who made that mistake, it was to their own detriment, often resulting in their deaths.  Truth be told, he was anything but.

In Lord Hoth’s Army of Light, General Farfalla was amongst the Jedi Lord’s fiercest warriors.  He’d felled countless Sith, seeming to never tire or lament.  It was inspirational, Rikard had to agree.  And the half-Bothan had an excellent mind for tactics.

Which brought Rik back to the conversation at hand.  Kiel had proposed a pre-emptive strike centered on Kaan’s front lines.  By now, everyone knew that the Dark One was on-planet.  Fools like Kiel were chomping at the bit to do battle with him in glorious saber combat.  Or so Rik had assumed.

Given the precedent that Kiel had set, no one would have faulted Rikard.  However…

“Rikard, I believe that we have an advantage to exploit here…”  Lord Chillum intoned, his bass voice reverberating almost as deeply as Sarll’s.  Jedi Lord Galen Chillum, Kage of the Mak’Tor, was an enormous man, dwarfing everyone in the bivouac, even Kiel.  And among the Army of Light’s Jedi Lords, he was the absolute best tactician that Rikard had ever seen.  No wonder Kiel was so smug; he knew that if Lord Chillum supported him, Lord Hoth would immediately agree.

Not that Rik would blame him; as far as he was concerned, anything the Mak’Tor Kage said was gospel.  “Alright Galen.  What’s on your mind?”

Stepping forward, the big man keyed the datapad on his armored vambrace.  A holoprojection appeared in the middle of the room, showing troop deployments, varied battalion strengths, and each army’s current positions on Ruusan and all up-to-date.  Not for the first time was Rikard amazed—and grateful—for Mak’Tor intel.

“The Dark One has taken command of this division here.  Counting conventionals, he’s got a relative strength close to 8,000, give or take.  General Kiel came to me with his strategy, one that I fully endorse, with some fine-tuning, of course.”  Lord Chillum manipulated the projection, focusing on the division in question.  “The Brotherhood believes that our Singers are all but gone.  Let them go on believing that; what Kiel proposes is to have Vhal’Dan Cataphracts lead the vanguard to draw out the Dark One.  We’ll pretend to retreat, drawing him past this valley where we can flank him in a pincer with our Singers…and this time they’ll be supplemented by our Cantors.”  Lord Chillum keyed the holoprojection off, the lights illuminating once more within the room.  …Brilliant… Rikard thought.  The Cantors would allow the Singers to propagate one another, becoming more than the sum of their parts.  That was why Cantors were so effective and powerful.  And rare.

Kiel was now smiling broadly.  Nodding, Rik couldn’t help but agree.  “Yes.  It’s a good plan.  I’ll let Sarll know.”  Before anyone moved, Rikard suddenly grabbed Kiel’s forearm.  “Where will you be in all of this?”  Rik’s piercing green eyes squinted, pulling at the scar that ran up his face.

Kiel smiled.  “I’ll be going in with General Sarll’s Cataphracts.  After all, I’ve got a score to settle with Kaan.”  Rikard couldn’t decide if Kiel was that brave or just foolhardy.  He decided on the former; Kiel was a decent general, if not a very inventive one.  Still, being in the vanguard was always dangerous.  That was one of the reasons that it often fell to the Cataphracts to lead: they were heavily armored and could take as much punishment as they could give.   And when the time came, they would take the brunt of the Brotherhood’s counterattack in their “retreat.”

No, Kiel wasn’t a fool—at least not this time—and he was brave, if a bit vainglorious.  “General…” Rikard said, extending his hand, “…Good luck.”  Kiel’s smile finally vanished.  Since the beginning of the Ruusan Campaign, he and Rik had always been on opposing sides of the fence.  Still…they were both Jedi.

Kiel broke out in a grin, taking Rikard’s hand and clasping forearms.  “May the Force be with you as well, Bla…Lord Macias.”  Just the barest of pauses; he was about to say “Black Rikard.”  Rik held a ghost of a smile, pretending to ignore the verbal misstep for Kiel’s sake.  

“Give them hell, General.” Rikard said, gathering Sulen with a gaze before saying his goodbyes to the Mak’Tor Kage, General Farfalla, and finally his friend Slo’ma.  “Be careful.  And stay behind the Cataphracts; I’d rather not see that too-tall head of yours on some Sith pike.”

Slo’ma’s smile turned wicked.  “Me?  Never.”  He winked.  “Now the news will be making its rounds: ‘Jedi Lord Rikard actually endorses a strategy by General Kiel.’  Looks like you’ve grabbed the rancor by the wrong end, Rik; you’re never living that one down.”  He suddenly sobered.  “Be safe, my friend.  May the Maker watch over you.”  He said the last in little above a whisper.  The Mak’Tor belief in the Maker was ubiquitous to them but they were still voting members of the Jedi Order, unlike the Vhal’Dan.  And as such, their belief in the Maker had to be kept under wraps by necessity; often times there were whispers of “attachment” cast towards the Mak’Tor…but no one ever took it further.  The Singers were just too important to the war effort.  But Rikard knew that that tolerance would not last forever…

Which brought him back to his own Order’s dilemma with the Jedi.  When the Coruscant Jedi had finally come to Istic III to request Vhal’Dan assistance, Rik had only agreed if the Order was allowed a Seat upon the Council, with all the attendant voting rights that came with the office.  There had been a lot of bickering among the Council…but then they were reminded of their losses, including casualties numbering in the billions.  They’d eventually agreed and now that the Army of Light had been helped in no small part by the Vhal’Dan, Rikard had been all but ensured that the Vhal’Dan would have multiple Seats, exactly like the Mak’Tor.  Still, Rik was aware of the whispers…

The Order proper considered them “provincial” Jedi barely worthy of the label but Rikard was certain that the Brotherhood would not be on the defensive right now if not for the timely intervention on behalf of the Vhal’Dan.  After the Sith defeat on Istic III, Ruusan most certainly would not have happened.  Of course…the Vhal’Dan also would have ceased to exist as an entity had the New Sith Wars helped the Clans to consolidate…

“Credit for your thoughts, Rik…” Sulen’s melodious voice came from beside him.  Rikard turned his head to look at her, his wry grin pulling again upon his scar.

“Nothing of import…just the survival of the Vhal’Dan, the Jedi Order, and the galaxy.”  He blinked.  “…OK Su, how in the hell did you get yourself so cleaned up?  You look like you’ve just gotten a day’s worth of sleep, after an hour at a spa…”

Sulen grinned.  “Sorry, I’ve already told you: trade secret.”  Rikard adopted a poleaxed look.

“…Well it’s a wonder why you and Dyrald don’t have more kids; if I had a wife that could do everything like you and somehow look immaculate…” He left the implied compliment hanging.

Sulen’s face suddenly went blank.  “Things you need to tell Dyrald, and none too soon.”  But soon her trembling lip betrayed her good humor, causing both of them to laugh.

Rikard put an arm around his friend’s shoulders.  “Maybe after this battle.  C’mon Su, I’ve got to give Sarll the ‘good news;’ Maker knows that he’ll take it as a position of honor, the mangy bastard.”  

And with that, they both went to look for the big Cathar speaker.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

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

Knight Commander

Force Alignment: 732
Posts: 2955

Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth

« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2019, 03:41:51 PM »

Special thanks to Lady Revan for the Easter Egg as well as the linguistic assist&ideas!  This chapter is dedicated to her  Smiley

Chapter 4: Honor Due the Dead, part II

As he came upon the camp, Bane saw that it was completely empty.  Fitting; much like the Brotherhood, the absence of any Sith lords reminded Bane that they were one and all hollow pretenders that only paid lip service to the Dark Side, their heads as empty as the camp.  The Dark Side—and the true Sith—deserved better.

No matter, everything was proceeding according to his plans, even Kaan’s apparent mastery.  It was fools like Kaan that reminded Bane why the Sith needed to change: become too conspicuous a target and it was fated to draw the wrong kind of attention.  A lesson that Bane had learned very…intimately.  He entered his tents, assessing the tableau before him.  Unsurprisingly, someone—or ones—had gone through his possessions, thinking that they’d done so clandestinely.  But Bane was much more observant than anyone could have guessed; certainly more than these idiots would ever know.  No doubt they thought to gain information as to the origin of the Dark Side Force Wave that he’d unleashed in the Virdunne Forest, killing Jedi and Sith by the thousands.

…Fools…ignorant fools… He almost smiled.  Bane needed no holocron, no datanode, no…book.  He’d long since memorized Darth Revan’s Sith Holocron and all of its contents.  Unlike the Brotherhood, who still relied on reciting their Sith magiks from an original source, Bane had…consumed the information of ages past, the Dark Side his only Master as well as being an inherent and fundamental part of him.  No Sith lord—and certainly not that imbecile Kaan—would command him.

Hearing the barest of rustling cloth Bane did not move; instead he prepared to attack, wrapping himself within the power of the Dark Side.  Casually, he turned his head towards the tent’s entrance.  Framed within the doorway was an extremely tall, gaunt human, his white hair almost indistinguishable from his chalky complexion.  Bane smiled inwardly.  He’d not seen the human since he’d left the Academy on Korribon.

“Qordis.” Bane did not offer any further affectation to the headmaster who, despite his sepulchral appearance, was almost as powerful as Skere Kaan himself.  He held one of the highest places within the Brotherhood; indeed most Sith lords feared him.  And regardless of the fact that Bane was two meters in height, he was forced to look up to stare into Qordis’ gray eyes.

“Bane.” Qordis nodded.  Unusual that; the tall human had never been the least bit cordial and at the worst of times was loath of his former student.  Of course, much had changed since then…

“What is it you want, Qordis?” Bane’s voice betrayed nothing as he pushed past the taller human, his broad shoulders thumping heavily into Qordis’ gaunt chest.  If he took offense, Qordis showed nothing of the like.  While Bane had thought the headmaster’s voice sounded weaselly before, it was particularly shrill now.

“Bane…I saw what you did at Virdunne, the power you commanded.  Furthermore, each and every student at Korribon Academy was in awe of your strength, your skills in the Dark Side.  As do I…”  The tall human laid a skinny hand upon Bane’s shoulder.  “Now I know why you’ve come to Ruusan, the true purpose…you’ve come to kill Kaan.”

Bane remained silent yet intrigued, so much so that he allowed Qordis the temerity of touching his person.

“They—we—are behind you; our loyalty is to you…our new master: Darth Bane!  Together, we shall become the True Brotherhood!  Not one corrupted by any Jedi ideals of past loyalties as Kaan most certainly is.  No, yours will be a Brotherhood of the Dark Side where we shall rule this galaxy and beyond!”  Qordis clenched his fist in a dramatic pose, his voice exultant.

Bane stared at the tall human, disgust becoming evident in his demeanor.  “Qordis…you are wrong.”  Suddenly Bane’s hand shot up, directing the Dark Side to do his bidding.  The headmaster grabbed at his throat as invisible tendrils wrapped around his neck, lifting him bodily into the air.  “I am not here to take control of the Brotherhood.”  Slowly Bane wrapped his fingers into a fist, the cords around Qordis’ neck tightening.  “I am going to destroy the Brotherhood.  Every.  Single.  One.”  Bane’s yellow eyes were electric with power.

“…no…please…don’t…kill…let…me…at…least…die…in…combat…a…saber…in…my…honorably…” Qordis’ voice slowly grew weaker, his hands tearing at his throat in a vain attempt to gain purchase upon the tendrils that crushed his windpipe.

Bane smiled, a predatory and remorseless turning of his lips.  “‘Die in combat with a lightsaber in your hand?’  Qordis you are a pathetic, insignificant, fool.”  Laughing, Bane pulled the headmaster closer.  “Know this: you will die, here and now, forgotten by all.  There is no ‘honor’ for you; there never was.  The Dark Side cares nothing about honor.”  Bane’s smile faded, his face impassive.  “There are only those that succeed…and those that die.”

His eyes bulging, tongue darting out of his thin, ashen lips, Qordis slowly asphyxiated, dying a gurgling, inconsequential, and unremarkable death.  And when Bane was finished, he tossed the worthless thing away, destined to rot like the rubbish in the camp and just as important.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“…Which should pull the Sith after us.”  His deep bass voice rumbling, Sarll crossed his arms across his enormous chest.  “Did I miss anything?  Kage.”  As always, the Cathar Speaker seemed to add the last as an afterthought.  They stood in the middle of the mobile command bivouac, spartan by any standards.  But it suited Sarll’s needs.

Just as he finished, Rik saw from the corner of his eye as two of Sarll’s lieutenants entered the bivouac, one a Shifala and the other another Cathar.  Both of them were large Jedi, almost as tall as Sarll.  Standing to the side, they saluted Sulen and then waited silently, two enormous armored Cataphract statues for all the movement that they made.

Rikard shook his head.  “No.  Just make sure that no Sith go after those Singers.  Mak’Tor casualties are already heavy enough…”  …To say nothing of Jedi losses… He thought.  “I really need the Cataphracts to hold the line on this and get the Sith so riled up that they’re not thinking.  I need them reacting, Sarll.”  Rik stared up into Sarll’s golden eyes.  He thought back to Kiel.  …Maker-dammit, I guess it’s a day of reconciliation… Exhaling, Rikard put out a hand to the Cathar in repetition of earlier.  “Good luck, Speaker.”  

Sarll’s demeanor was considering.  After a second, he took Rik’s hand, his enormous paw engulfing the smaller human’s.  “Thank you, Kage.  We shall succeed.”  His eyes shifted to the two Cataphracts that stood to the side.  “You’ll find my After-Action Reports on this datapad; you’re welcome to read them here.  Excuse me, Kage.  Arbiter.”  Nodding to first Rikard and then Sulen, Sarll handed Rik his datapad before addressing the Shifalan Cataphract.  “Koawan Annix, assemble the Legion.  Tell them they have 15 minutes.”  She saluted Sarll and exited as the Speaker continued talking to the other Cataphract.  “Maenowan Låq Tarjo, I need for you…”

As Sarll joined his lieutenant, Rik turned to Sulen while they scanned the AAR.  Almost absently, Sulen began talking.  “That was…almost nice of you, Rik.”  Looking up from the datapad, Rikard tracked his Arbiter’s line of sight.  She was staring at Sarll.  “One might describe it as ‘friendly.’”

Rik knew what she meant.  “I don’t have the luxury to call Sarll to account for his ‘P’Rae’Lior-by-proxy.’  Not now, at least.  Besides…we need him right now.  After this damned war?  Then there can be a reckoning.”  He gave a lopsided grin.  “I thought about Kiel earlier and how it set precedent.  And I don’t have to like them to fight along side them.  And if wishing them well makes them fight better, then I’ll sing them praises if that’s what it takes.”  

Sulen knew that there was more to her Kage than that.  And despite his protestations to the contrary, he did respect Sarll.  But, much like Rikard, Sulen knew that the issues between the two were far from resolved.

But that was a problem for later.  She had others that required her Kage’s attention.  “Kage, we need to see to the Forcesage troop deployment.”  Her husband Dyrald had returned from the frontlines with some new intel.

“Good, Su.” Rik finished reading Sarll’s AAR, keying the datapad off just in time to see the Cathar showing his lieutenant out.

“…Have them upgraded with the newest software, maenowan.”  Stopping suddenly, he clasped wrists with the other Cathar.  “Malja watan, Doreon.”

Doreon, the Cathar maenowan, responded, his deep voice reverent.  “Malja watan, Sarll.”  With that, the Cataphract lieutenant left.

“I trust that all is satisfactory.  Kage.” Sarll boomed, already donning his armor.  “If you’ll excuse me, I need to see to it that the Cataphract Legion is apprised of our new orders.  Kage.  Arbiter.”  With an inclination of his head, Sarll left.

Rik turned to Sulen.  “Su…you speak over five dozen languages; do you know what they were talking about?”  He spoke some Catharese and whatever they’d said, it wasn’t that.

“…No.  I’ve never heard it before.” Sulen said incredulously, surprising Rik.  “…Would you like for me to look into it?”  Her tone was one of hurt professional pride.

Rikard shook his head, unconcerned.  “No.  Don’t worry about it.”  He patted Sulen’s shoulder.  “I guess that means you’ve been hanging out with an uncivilized Hutt like me for too long.  C’mon, let’s go see what Dyrald has to tell us.”

               <<<<< >>>>>

As Sarll approached the field where the Legion was assembled, he thought of what his lieutenants had told him.  But what really occupied his thoughts were the two lieutenants themselves.

Koawan Stryka Annix had already distinguished herself amongst the Cataphracts.  Brave, loyal, and highly intelligent, Sarll had mentored the Shifalan as a teidowan, seeing her incredible potential even then.  Now a fully knighted koawan, Stryka had turned out to be even better than Sarll had anticipated.  Not only was she utterly fearless both in and out of battle but her unique Niman variant of saber combat had ensured her appointment as Clan Blademaster in record time.  The Sith had learned to fear Stryka, and for good reason…

And of course, his friend and fellow Cathar Maenowan Doreon Låq Tarjo.  Doreon was one of those happy accidents that the Force sometimes offered up in life: gifted of an eidetic memory and a scholar of remarkable renown on the Homeworld, he’d studied the past of their planet.  And in doing so, he’d become one of the premiere tacticians of the Army of Light.  As well he should be…

Cathar had long, very long memories.  The last time that they’d been threatened as a race was during the Mandalorian Wars, where the Cathar people had been threatened with near-extinction.  They’d been close, so close to going out forever…

But for the bravery of one Jedi.

One that Cathar all beheld in reverence, spoken only amongst the people in deferential tones.  There was no Cathar alive today whom did not know of this Jedi’s courage, an angel of death balancing the scales to redress all of their grievances.  And while the rest of the galaxy knew her by the name she chose later for herself, the Cathar had been gifted with her true name, one that would never grace the hearing of the lesser sentients, those unworthy of the knowledge.

The Jedi Master Revan…Halin Chan.

It was Revan who had honored the people, who had willingly become their avenger.  Absently, Sarll touched the glyph upon his breastplate, one hidden in plain sight.  Among the designs of the power armor all Cathar had made an addition, one that—for the most part—went unnoticed.  It was Halin Chan’s gift to the Cathar.  A gift…as well as a dictate.  Located at the base of the sternum was a glyph representing a cabochon, a red jewel inscribed with bronze writing, the Aurebesh reading: “Malja watan.”  All Cathar would speak the words to one another whenever two or more met.

Sarll gave one of his rare grins.  Anyone who understood Basic could read and speak the words but the language that the phrase came from had been old even in Revan’s time and was long dead.  But she had known it, teaching it to the Cathar.  Malja watan.

Now—as it was then—the axiom rang especially poignant given the circumstances of war, be it the New Sith War, the Mandalorian War, or any future wars…

May you always find home.

Sobering quickly, Sarll squared his shoulders, again bearing the responsibility that he carried stoically and silently.  As with all duty, the honor was his to bear.  And he and his Cataphracts would do what was necessary, consummating the unspoken accord that the Cathar had willingly accepted as both obligation and tribute to their avenger.

And just like Revan, their names would echo in eternity as a result of their actions today.

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Maenowan Nexu Master of the Vhal'Dan

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

Knight Commander

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Posts: 1036

« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2019, 03:45:31 PM »

Interesting contrast here - Rikard getting more along with his allies just as Bane puts into practice his desire to be rid of his 'allies' and then Saril and Bane both looking to Revans example in eerily similar ways on opposite sides...a mixed legacy indeed. Some very clever and subtle interactions binding these characters together almost despite themselves - kudos to Lady Revan who no doubt helped with some that! - also cool to see a young Stryka as well whose memory alone we see in Schisms.


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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