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Author Topic: Retrieval  (Read 756 times)
TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 806
Posts: 3041


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« on: May 18, 2019, 09:15:21 AM »

All of this takes place after the events in “What You Leave Behind” as well as during “Brothers.”
****************************************************************************
Prologue



When Rakham came to the door, he paused knowing what awaited him on the other side.  …And this is why I never wanted to be a Master… He thought.  Still: you could wish in one hand and feed the Sarlacc with the other and see which one got filled first.  Besides, as much as he denied it, he was a leader and not just of the Templars.

Sighing, he pressed the chime on the door and waited.

“Come in, please.” Came the quiet voice from a voicebox in the door.

Rakham keyed the door open and entered into the room.  It was brightly lit, almost too bright.  Taking a few seconds for his eyes to adjust (he still had some lingering problems but time would take care of that), Rakham’s eyes fell upon one of the room’s two occupants.

…D’Aylanna… His friend from years past.  The diminutive Jedi Master looked hardy and hale, even her blue lips looked vibrant.  Yet, she still lay motionless upon the airbed that she’d been laid upon, her navy-blue and gray robes arranged carefully.  Holding her olive-skinned hand was the other occupant, her orange fingers gently stroking her mother’s.

“Master Rakham.” Jorya nodded, solemn and quiet.  She’d pulled up a seat next to the bed, one hand adamantly grasping her mother’s, the other holding a datapad that she had obviously been reading from.  She must’ve noticed Rakham squinting.  “Sorry, it’s just that Mother prefers bright light.”

He nodded.  …Of course… After all, D’Aylanna was from Hapes Prime, a planet bathed in perpetual daylight.  The brightness of the room was incongruous with the Templar Archive which was usually full of shadows, the old stone walls indicative of eons past.  Of course, looks could be deceiving…

“Hey Jorya.  Any change today?” Rakham asked even though he already knew the answer.  D’Aylanna’s body was as healthy as could be but ever since she’d come back from the Taris mission she’d been in what could only be described as a coma.

“No.”  Jorya began to gently stroke her mother’s head.  Clearly, Jorya had been diligent in combing the Hapan Master’s midnight blue hair; it had a luxurious sheen to it.  “But…I can’t give up hope…”  Jorya lowered her head, a single tear sliding down an orange cheek.  “…Even if it is the will of the Maker…or the Force…”

Stoically, Rakham laid a consoling hand upon Jorya’s shoulder.  He and Dala had done everything that they could, including going through every centimeter of the Archive and the relics within.  Instinctually, Rakham felt that the answer had something to do with Kadmaur…something he’d said offhandedly a long time ago, or a nonchalant bit of trivia that his former master was always testing him with… Something that tickled his memory but not enough to elicit anything exact.  …Dammit… He thought, and not for the first time.  He’d meditate on it later on…

But, like it or not, he felt responsible.

Feeling helpless, Rakham turned to leave but before he could do so, he felt Jorya’s hand upon his.  “Thank you, Master Rakham.  I know that Mother appreciates your visits.”  The Togruta’s red lips smiled even though he still saw sadness within her blue eyes.

“Anything for your mother, Jorya.  She…she was always the best of us.”  He said, thinking himself clumsy with his last statement.  …Idiot… He castigated himself.  But if Jorya thought anything, it clearly wasn’t that.

“You’re a good man, Master Rakham.  And Mother trusted—trusts—you.” Jorya’s voice was full of conviction and the assurance of youth.  Rakham couldn’t help but be impressed and a little surprised: clearly D’Aylanna and Zearic had done something right when they’d raised the Togruta.

 “I won’t let your mother down, Jorya.  Or you.” He patted her hand, the gratitude in her eyes both comforting him…and evoking admonishment.  Oh, not from her but from himself. 

Full of self-rebuke, Rakham left the room, his head working and wondering how he could help his friend…and keep his promise to her daughter.

               <<<<< >>>>>

As Rakham entered the Archives' main hall, Berra and Edda sitting at one of the tables along the wall while his brother sat by himself reading a datapad, when he got the second shock of his night: standing before him was a big, wide human one that he thought he recognized.  Only, somethings weren't right...or at least not as he remembered.

The man had a grim look on his face as well as a hard look in his strange hazel eyes.  He had a few more white hairs salting the full beard he now wore but that wasn’t what gave the Templar Master pause: the last time that he'd seen this man, he'd possessed a cybernetic eye, right hand, and left leg.  And even a cursory glance was all Rakham needed to tell that those cybernetics were gone, living flesh and tissue in their place.  ...What the hell...?  But that wasn't the only difference, although certainly the most noticeable.  Rakham couldn't quite believe his senses but...this man's presence in the Force was strong, as strong as his own when before he'd been substantially weaker.  But any doubts that he had were laid to rest when next the man spoke.

"Master Crescentfall."  The deep baritone was exactly as Rakham remembered it.  Somehow, this man standing before him was D'Aylanna's husband, Zearic Vih'Torr.  Rakham extended a hand to him.

Zearic never even looked at it.  Before anyone in the Hall could do anything, the big man moved, grabbing Rakham by his tunics and shoving the taller man against the wall.  Berra and Edda started saying something while Heditt didn't even bother with talking, igniting his saber with a dangerous look in his eyes.

"What did you do to my wife?!"  Zearic's balled fists were vises, the anger on his face mostly masking the worry he obviously felt.  Mostly.  Rakham took a patient breath; he'd expected something like this.

"Zearic...we have much to discuss.  Perhaps in privat—"  Rakham was cut off as Zearic shoved him against the wall again.

"Frell that!  Tell me what in the Maker-damned hell happened to D'Aylanna!"  Looking out of the corner of his eye, the big man shot a warning glance at Heditt, for all the good it did him.  Heditt had stopped advancing but still held his ignited saber at the ready.

And just when Rakham thought that the scene would explode into violence, Jorya entered the room from behind them.

"Dad!"  Jorya's voice held surprise, fear, and concern in equal measure, pulling Zearic's eyes towards her.  Momentarily softening as he looked upon his adoptive daughter, the wide maenowan swung his head back towards the taller Templar Master, the hard set of his face somewhat mitigated.  Looking over Zearic, Rakham gave an imperceptible shake of his head to his brother, then, looking down with a look of unfeigned sympathy on his face, the Templar Master quietly spoke.

"Zearic.  I'm not certain exactly what has happened to D'Aylanna.  But as I've already promised your daughter, I will do everything that I can to get your wife back."  Rakham didn't move but stared patiently into the big man's angry eyes.  They seemed to search for something, an almost feral light shone from them.  Then suddenly his wide shoulders slumped, his anger dissipating. 

Heditt finally closed down his saber but kept it in his hand.  Jorya ran over, rubbing her father's wide back, a look of sympathy on her face.  When she looked at Rakham, she mouthed an apology.  Rakham gave a small smile before looking back at the big maenowan.

"Zearic...D'Aylanna isn't dead.  And although she's in a deep coma, Jorya was able to shed some light on the situation, if only to raise more questions."  Rakham saw Zearic shift his attention to the tall Togruta, their eyes meeting in a wordless shared expression of grief tinged with an undercurrent of hope.  Rakham continued.  "But one thing is for certain: I promised your wife and that I'd look after her and Jorya.  I now extend the same to you."

Zearic's face was unreadable.  Rakham had seen hard men before and the man before him was amongst the hardest yet.  But beneath the pain, the anger, and the bitter fight between hope and despair, he saw a man who loved and missed his wife.  When Zearic did speak, his deep voice had lost its harsh tone but was no softer for it.

"Alright, Crescentfall.  My wife and daughter trust you...so shall I."  As Jorya gently led him away, he suddenly turned, his strange hazel eyes drilling into Rakham's.  "And I'll hold you to your promise."  Again, Jorya worded an apology before leading her father to D’Aylanna’s room.

Rakham's gaze didn't waver from where the two Vhal'Dan Jedi had disappeared, not even when Heditt approached and started talking.  "He shouldn't blame you, Rak.  Not your fault..."  Before Heditt had even stopped, Rakham was shaking his head.

"My fault?  No...but my responsibility?"  Now he looked at his brother, staring down at the shorter man.  "And regardless...I understand the man."  He smiled wistfully.  "Maybe after this is over, I can share a flask of Agavinol with him..."  Rakham's face turned hard.  "But right now, Heditt, the only thing that he wants of me is to h...no, ensure his wife's complete recovery."  And as he walked away, Rakham looked over his shoulder.  "One way or another, that's exactly what I'm going to do...or die trying."

               <<<<< >>>>>

As Zearic and Jorya entered the room, the big man went immediately to his wife, kneeling on the side of the bed and taking D’Aylanna’s hand in both of his.  Jorya came up behind her father and put her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.  Grabbing her forearm with one of his big hands, he squeezed in both appreciation as well as reassurance.  Together, the quiet sounds of their sobbing filled the room.

After a time, they both got off of the floor, taking the plain but comfortable chairs that had been provided to them.  His breathing slow and deliberate, Zearic looked at his daughter, a small smile playing upon his lips.  “How are you, Dear One?”

When she’d seen her father in the Archive Hall, a plethora of questions had gone through her head.  But after what had happened, she’d forgotten them at the time.  Now, they came flooding back.  “Dad, what’s happened to you?  Why would you only write to us and so seldom?  How did you get your eye, hand, and legs back?  And how is it you’re so much stronger than before?”  Her words came forth faster and faster, each word louder and spoken with more emphasis until she was practically shouting.  Before she knew it, she was standing in front of Zearic, her hands balled into fists.  “Dad, what the hell happened to you?!”

Slowly rising from his chair, Zearic looked into Jorya’s eyes.  They were both nearly the same height, the big maenowan slightly taller…but when last they’d been together, Jorya had overpowered her father in the Force.  They’d both expected it, planned for it even.

But now…

Now, Jorya could feel that her father’s presence in the Force was considerably more potent, closer to Master Karmack…almost as strong as Mother.  She wasn’t sure just what to make of it.

Zearic had both dreaded and anticipated this, although in his thoughts he had D’Aylanna to help him explain everything.  But this…he was truly at a loss about what to do.

Before he could speak, Jorya grabbed his right hand—the one that Gaetana had cut off—her grip firm yet gentle.  Her ministrations were tender but probing, he could tell.  She’d known that he’d lived with that pain for about as long as she’d known him.  Meanwhile, her other hand reached for his face, gingerly touching the temple around his left eye, where his cybernetic implant was—had been.  Zearic was still getting used to…his new reality.

…I do what I must to keep them safe… The thought once again came unbidden.  Yet the irony of the situation threatened to overwhelm him.  Instead, he drew deeply from within, the part of him that D’Aylanna had always insisted he possessed, regardless of the adversity they confronted, the part of him that would never give up, the part of him that had saved Jorya’s life, the part of him…

…The part of him that D’Aylanna loved.

Strengthened, he gently took ahold of Jorya’s hands.  Much of what he’d just been through… Well, he wanted to tell her.  But not yet, not now.  Looking into his daughters eyes, he knew now what he needed to do.

“Dear One, I promise that I will tell you everything.  I just ask that you be patient with me.  Know that…everything that has happened, everything that I’ve gone through I’ve done in order to keep you and your mother safe.  Whereas before I…I was…too weak, insufficient to the task.”  He spit the last out vehemently, his self-loathing evident in his tone.  He exhaled slowly and when Zearic spoke next, he was calmer.  “But now, seeing you and your mother…I’m…I’m glad to have paid the price that I have.  But know this: it is all for nothing if we can’t heal your mother.”  He took Jorya’s hands and wrapped them with his.  “Just as it is all for nothing without you, Dear One.  I promise to tell you everything.  But first: we must help D’Aylanna.”

Jorya stared into her father’s eyes, the odd mix of green, brown, and red irises a comforting sight, his loving words helping to banish the hopelessness.  She rushed at her adoptive father, wrapping her arms around him in a tight embrace, or at least as far as they would go.  She felt his thick arms around her, his big hand amazingly tender as he stroked her lekku gently.  After a moment, she started when she realized what she was hearing.

Her father was singing.  It was a Hapan lullaby, one that Mother had sang to her as a child.  Hugging her father tighter, she whispered, “I love you, Dad.”  She felt his heavy jowls smile, the new beard scratching her forehead.

“I love you too, Jorya.”  And he kept singing.

Standing there, they both took comfort in their shared commiseration.  And for the first time since her Mother had fallen into a coma, Jorya felt relief.  Now that her Dad was here, he would know what to do, he would find out what he needed, and he would help her Mom.  And with that, she told him about her Delve and what she’d seen.

…Except for the old man.  Whomever he was, he’d scared her and badly.  Jorya told herself that she didn’t want for her father to worry about that but at least part of her knew that wasn’t the full truth.  But even as she thought about it, she promptly forgot, her mind on other concerns. 

Had she done differently, she probably could have saved herself the future hurt that would result from her decisions.
Logged

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, 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

TheDrunkenConsular
Knight Ensign
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Force Alignment: 44
Posts: 163


Light Side


« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 10:40:25 AM »

I love it!  I absolutely can't wait to read the next chapter.
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Who says red is only for the bad guys?

Lord_S_Gray
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 165
Posts: 1112



« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2019, 08:55:04 PM »

Already seeds of a very interesting story, both Jorya and Zearic holding information back, possibly because they don't even know what to make of their experiences themselves yet...and the one person who could bridge those gaps is the one who they need to help, this will be a difficult emotional ride for them I think...and for Zearic in particular the contrast between his own 'renewal' and his wifes injured state will be especially painful...but also possibly as source of temptation in how he tries to help her potentially - echoing Kazic in Schisms (which again is a great example of the Forumverse interconnections, how things cycle, different characters facing the same problems). 
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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
Forumverse Loremaster
Master of Ceremonies
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Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 941
Posts: 4517


Light side points please.


« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 09:05:50 AM »

Nice Dutchman!   I've long wondered what it would look like when Zearic finally came for D'Aylanna and faced Jorya.  Their love for each other is evident, but they continue to shield each other from present hurt to future detriment.   So much like any one of us.  :-)
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Master Singer of the Mak'Tor

TheDutchman
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 806
Posts: 3041


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2019, 03:46:23 PM »


Chapter 1: Waking Nightmares, part I

“Jorya, what the hell were you thinking?!” Zearic’s voice was quiet but his tone held a vehemence that the Togruta hadn’t heard before.

“…Father, I wa—” She began but was quickly cut off.

“What you did was not only patently dangerous to you but to your mother as well.”  He took a step towards her.  …By the Maker did he get bigger…? She thought inadvertently before mentally shaking her head.  Couldn’t he see that she was trying to help?

“Father, we all had no idea what to do, not even Master Rakham.  I knew that I could d—” Once again, Zearic interrupted.

“‘You knew that you could do it?’  Jorya, just because you were successful once does not mean that you are an adept…certainly not an expert!…and in a situation as dangerous as this!” Controlled anger radiated from him.

Why did he not see that they—she—was desperate to help Mother?  “Dad, I onl—” Again, her father interposed, his irate tone incongruous with his quiet voice.

“Did you learn nothing from last time?” He shook his head.  “Apparently you being censured wasn’t enough as you did not learn your lesson.”  

With that, all of Jorya’s forbearance disappeared, something in his tone igniting her temper.  “‘My lesson?’  I am the only one who is doing anything!  I’m the only person who can help Mom!”  She stood straight, almost of a height with her Father.  “No, Dad, I learned my lesson very well: ‘take what you want and pay for it.’”  Jorya’s tone matched her father’s, the look on her orange face a mirror of Zearic’s.  

For a moment, the big maenowan’s face remained impassive.  And for as resolute as she felt, Jorya wondered if she might have gone too far...

Suddenly, her father’s entire demeanor changed: his shoulders seemed to slump, his breathing became more regular, his countenance more normal, voice calm, almost…self-deprecating.  “You’re right; I did teach you that.”  He suddenly offered for her to take a seat at the small table in D’Aylanna’s room.  Pulling the other chair over and with an alarming creak, Zearic settled into it opposite his daughter.  Inhaling slowly before he began speaking again, his face softened.  “Jorya…what I should’ve said was: ‘Take what you want but be prepared to pay for it.’”  

Sitting in her chair, back rigid with her arms crossed, Jorya wasn’t quite ready to let her anger go.  “Dad, you’ve told me that for years.”  Her beautiful face wasn’t marred by the furrowed brow above her eyes.  Staring at her Father, she remained determined.

Zearic finally did smile, even chuckling briefly.  “Yes.  Yes, Dear One you’re right.”  He ran his hands through his newly shorn hair and down his face, smoothing his beard before he began speaking again.  “I…should have been more careful with how I…qualified that lesson.”  

A flash of recent memory ran through his mind: his own angry words—words leading to angry actions—spoken against his own friend, Zearic’s own convictions still convincing him that he hadn’t been wrong…

…Well, not completely…but it was a regret for another time; his family needed him in the here-and-now.  …Regrets… He couldn’t help but think that he’d never escape them…but he could do something about them.  Well, at least some of them…

“Jorya, I’m sorry that I got angry.”  He offered her his right hand.  “You are an adult now, a full koawan.  It was wrong of me to treat you like a child.  And in that, I apologize.”  His face was serious now.

Jorya looked at her father, her anger finally subsiding.  “It’s OK, Dad.”  Taking his hand in both of hers, she leaned forward laying her forehead against his.  “And thank you.”  Silently, he nodded before sitting back into the chair.

Zearic’s gaze became raptorlike.  “But Jorya know this: what you did is dangerous, both for you and your mother.”  He held up his hand to forestall any retort.  “I understand you were desperate to help, the need to save your Mother.  And all things being equal…I probably would have done the same at your age and in your position.”  Again, he gave a small smile.  “This is advice, not an indictment: in the future please be more careful.”  Jorya returned his smile, giving a slight nod before she heard her father continue.  “…I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to you too.” He said the last in almost a whisper.

Jorya’s heart ached hearing the apprehension in her Father’s voice, the pain he tried to hide but couldn’t.  Looking into his face, she saw Zearic’s utter exhaustion, his wide face looking sallow and drawn.  Not for the first time, she wondered just what had happened to the man she loved as her father.

She rose from her chair, standing next to Zearic and hugging him tightly.  “I…thanks, Dad.”  They held each other in silence for a moment before they both settled back into their chairs.  It was Jorya who spoke first.  “Dad…you haven’t had anything to eat since you got here, and I know that you haven’t slept since you made planetfall.  Would you like for me to get you something?  Or would like for me to leave you alone and you can be with Mother, maybe get some sleep?”

As if mentioning it had made it so, Zearic looked as if he would suddenly collapse.  “I…yes.  Yes, you’re right, Dear One.”  Awkwardly rising from his seat, he started towards the bed where D’Aylanna lay.  Jorya was by his side in the blink of an eye, gently helping him as he tentatively lay next to his wife.  

In any other circumstance it would have looked comical: the small Hapan woman was dwarfed by her husband as he curled up next to her, arm protectively wrapping her steadily breathing chest.  And for the first time since she’d seen her father in the Templar Archive, she saw just how worried he really was.  Grabbing a blanket from one of the chests in the room, Jorya carefully draped it over her parents, gently smoothing it as she rubbed her father’s shoulder and her mother’s hands.  She kissed her mother’s forehead and her father’s cheek whispering each time “I love you, Mom” and “I love you, Dad” before turning the illumination down.

She paused at the open doorway looking in on her parents.  Mother continued to breath slowly and steadily.  Her Father…he was already asleep, exhaustion finally taking him as he lay next to his wife of twenty years.  Jorya smiled wistfully, keying the door shut.

But for as tired as Zearic was his sleep was disturbed, punctuated by memories of the past and nightmares of the future.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Jorya decided that she could do to blow off some steam, especially for as angry as Father had made her.  She headed to the Archive’s Training sallet, an enormous room that was an odd marriage joining high-tech machinery and ancient stone walls.  And although the sallet was often occupied, it was completely empty when Jorya entered.  Familiar with the equipment, she grabbed and then activated one of the many practice drones that the Templars often used.  She ignited her lightsaber, taking a few practice swings while warming up her body as well.  Inhaling slowly, she briefly closed her eyes, taking all of the residual anger that she felt and concentrated.

…Anger… Father had told her …can be useful, if channeled properly…so long as you are not giving way to hate—that is of the Dark Side—then it behooves you to utilize all resources at your disposal… It was one of the tenets that separated the Vhal’Dan from the Jedi Order proper: one should not ignore or condemn a tool that is useful just because others consider it “evil.”  The tool itself is neither “evil” nor “good;” rather, it is the intent of the one using said tool that matters.  It was another lesson that Father had taught her early on.

Jorya exhaled, adopting a ready stance gripping her lightsaber in both hands.  Her legs were slightly apart, one foot in front of the other, her split gray skirts swaying slightly.  “Begin.” Her voice was monotone but she felt her emotions surge below the surface.  The program activated by her command, the drone shot up in the air, circling the Togrutan koawan.

Almost immediately it opened fire, constantly changing its air-pattern hovering, looking for openings in Jorya’s defenses.  But she would give it none.  Working her saber in a defense/deflect configuration—partly what Father had taught her, partly what she had developed herself—Jorya allowed her anger to help give her that edge that all saber-practitioners sought whenever they held their lightsabers.

Deflecting a quick burst of concentrated plasma fire (while the drone’s weapon-setting was “non-lethal” each blaster shot still let you know that you’d been hit), Jorya incorporated Mother’s Teräs Käsi with the Vhal’Dan Pankration that Father had taught her, her Force-powered somersaults supplementing her saber defense in an impenetrable shield that protected her from yet more blaster fire.  

The last time that she had sparred with Father on M’Tzigon, she had overpowered him.  And while he’d been gone, she had continued to improve, gaining proficiency and growing more stronger.  Stronger…

Jorya’s brow furrowed in remembrance as well as reflection: when previously she had overcome her Father’s defenses, she’d expected it to happen.  Both Father and Mother had told her that she would be a strong Jedi, Father even emphasizing that she would outstrip him in strength.  But…now that she’d been able to be alone with Father, really focus on him, she’d been able to feel the…difference, the disparity… He was now as strong as Master Karmack, or so close that the difference was negligible.  

How?

The blue-white blade made several orbits, the blaster bolts deflected expertly followed by another somersault.  She had a ghost of a grin, the fusion of martial arts she’d learned from Mother and Father incorporated into various katas that she’d developed into a virtuosity as unique as she was.  She suddenly adopted a reverse Shien grip, intercepting two more plasma bolts before employing another sweeping orbit in which she fluidly shifted into a traditional grip once again.  Just like Father had taught her.

Her smile faltered.

Part of Jorya was happy for him; she’d always felt that the Maker had done Father a disservice in making him so relatively weak in the Force.  She’d always felt that he deserved more.  But now that that had come to pass, she felt trepidation.  And fear; not for herself, but for Father.  And with his refusal to talk about it…that had only served to worry her more.

The rate of fire increased exponentially, Jorya’s arms working her saber furiously yet concise, forms beautiful yet deadly.  Mother’s instruction had introduced her to sabercraft that melded form and function.  Coupled with Father teaching her some of the Water Forms, Jorya had grown into an incredible swordswoman.

And now that Father was here, she’d hoped…believed that he would be able to do something for Mother.  Jorya gritted her teeth.  But now, she felt as if her anxiety had increased exponentially: Mother’s coma was bad enough… Now, Father desperately tried to hide his inner conflict but Jorya could recognize the signs.  However, until he chose to share it with her, she could—and would—respect his decision…but that didn’t mean that she had to like it.

Suddenly, she heard a beeping noise.

It was the drone; it had completed its program.  …What the hell…? She thought to herself.  Had the 30 minutes really gone that quickly?  Closing down her weapon, a quick check confirmed exactly that.  With an almost imperceptible shake of her head, she selected another routine, the anger she’d had now but a memory.  But in its place was a growing lake of worry.

Father had always been her hero.  More than that: he was her Dad and she loved him.  And now that she was a full koawan, she felt that it was her honor as well as her obligation to help protect him…just like he’d always protected her.  But for right now, she was unsure about just how she could accomplish such a feat…

One thing she knew for certain: she’d have a better chance of helping Father if she also had Mother by her side.  Jorya’s face became grim.  And in order to help Mother, she needed Father… Trying not to give into despair, she keyed in the final instructions to the drone, thinking that she could at least continue to plan, keeping busy for the meantime.  Stepping back, she once again ignited her saber.

“Begin.”

And as she worked through the second routine, this time she channeled her worry.  Again, her lightsaber was a shield that allowed not one blaster bolt to reach her.  Jorya just wished that life was so easy: that any adversity could be dealt with by more training or—better still she joked—a lightsaber.  Even as she improvised a new defense/deflect model, she continued to think and worry about both of her parents and what she could do to help them…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Logged

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, 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

TheDutchman
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Force Alignment: 806
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2019, 03:47:39 PM »


Chapter 1: Waking Nightmares, part II

As restless as his sleep was, Zearic was deep within the dream that haunted him.  Or more appropriately, the nightmare.

He was on an island, one completely surrounded by molten lava.  Above him an enormous two-sided pendulum swung, the apex of each oscillation taking both sides of the pendulum far over the lava.  And on each end, a person was bound immobile and helplessly.  As the pendulum rotated over his head, Zearic could clearly see who it was.

On one end was D’Aylanna.  On the other was Jorya.

Suddenly, a huge shadow appeared before him, forestalling Zearic.  It was Black Armor, his tormentor, his failure, his…master.  Knowing that he was bound in place by ties stronger than quadranium he obeyed, completely helpless to resist.  He heard a noise from behind him.

Turning his face, he saw Karmack, cruel, condescending laughter condemning him even as it ridiculed.  “And you thought that I was a threat to them?  You’re more dangerous to them than I ever was.”  Zearic wanted to cover his ears, to silence Karm’s deriding assertion, to defy him—anyone—that those were lies.  But he knew that the Mak’Tor Sage spoke truly.

As if admitting such caused Karmack to disappear, a new figure suddenly appeared in his place.  His face was familiar but still…strange.  Zearic thought he knew the person in front of him…why couldn’t he put his finger on it?

“…My son…my greatest disappointment.” As soon as the figure spoke, Zearic recognized him immediately.  His adoptive father, Kazic…only not the old Anzat that had saved him from Dalos IV.  This man was strong, youthful, full of vitality…and loathing.  “Have you learned nothing from what I told you?  No, no of course you did not.  How could you?  You were always too…weak, too pathetic.”  Kazic’s judging red eyes drilled holes through Zearic, his tone acerbic and disgusted.  “You will fail.”

Zearic closed his eyes, straining.  As if moving a mountain, he fought to speak, his teeth gritting tightly.  And, by some miracle, some act of the Maker, he was able to get his jaw working, his tongue loosed, his breath his own!  “I…will…save…them…”  Each word a whisper spoken with Herculean effort.  “You…will…not…stop…me…” Sweat poured down his face, the exertion taking all of his willpower.

But he was able to do it, to defy them!

Laughter, the likes of which he’d never heard or experienced thundered through his mind.  It was as mocking as it was definitive.  It did not come from Kazic; it came from Black Armor.  Nevertheless, Kazic’s own laughter echoed through the air.  “‘Stop you?!’ ‘Save them?!’” Kazic doubled over in mirth.  “You mistake me: I won’t stop you.”  Suddenly the Anzat sobered.  “And you can’t save ‘them.’”  He motioned with his goateed chin to Black Armor.  “You can only save one.”

When Zearic turned his eyes back towards the hulking armored figure, he found that he could move again.  He started to run…only to stop, feeling defeated and impotent.  Instead, he looked up into Black Armor’s helmeted face.  

[CHOOSE] The word resounded throughout his skull, Black Armor pointing first at one end of the pendulum and then to the other.

Zearic shook his head.  “No.”  He turned to face Kazic.  “No, I refuse to believe that, I refuse to accept that I am a…a danger to my family.”  He looked from the Anzat back to Black Armor.  “I will save them!”

[CHOOSE] Black Armor was motionless.  Behind him, Kazic stood impassively staring at Zearic, his arms crossed.  Above him, the pendulum swung, both of the people he loved most in the galaxy now stared at him with penetrating looks of judgment.  Under such scrutiny, Zearic crumbled, knowing himself to be guilty.  Guilty because he was weak, guilty because he was unworthy.  Guilty because…

…Because he was a danger to them.

[CHOOSE]

Looking up, Zearic knew of only one solution that would save both D’Aylanna and Jorya.  He looked at Black Armor and nodded.  He opened his mouth, speaking to Kazic.  “Yes.  I will choose…”

Filling himself to bursting with the Force, Zearic’s speed was augmented beyond any physical limitations.  He moved, a blur of motion.  But not towards the pendulum, not even towards Black Armor or Kazic/Karmack.

He ran towards the edge of the island he was on and, with Force-enhanced muscles, jumped from the cliff face.  For the few seconds that he felt weightless, the intense heat of the lava beat upon his face, blisters forming as his flesh began to cook.  As he fell towards the molten liquid rock, the 1,000 degree centigrade temperature, Zearic could feel the rest of his body sear from within.  And as his body hit the lava, much of it stuck to his flesh and clothes as he bounced along before settling in one place, slowly sinking beneath the glowing hot surface, the density of the lava much greater than his own.

And as his nerve endings attempted to transmit tactile sensations, his body began to shut down as lancing, agonizing pain assaulted his brain while the smell of burning flesh filled the air.  The last thoughts he had before oblivion took him gave him some small comfort: that he would NEVER be a danger to his family ever again…

               <<<<< >>>>>

Zearic awoke with a start, his body soaked in sweat.  Running his hand through his shorn hair, he looked down at D’Aylanna.  If his violent awakening had disturbed his wife, she obviously hadn’t noticed: she still lay with her hands across her slender belly, the gray and navy blue tunics and skirts arranged nicely except where Zearic had inadvertently disarranged them.

Instinctively, he looked towards his rucksack.  Half expecting to see the unsheathed black blade of the Tenebris Pugione, he was admittedly less than surprised when he didn’t.  He suspected that he no longer suffered the nightmare-inducing effects from the blackstone dagger—at least he wasn’t now—but given the severity of the dream, the…intensity of it…well, one could never be too careful…

The details of the nightmare fading, he gently reached down, touching his wife’s face before tenderly kissing her dark blue lips.  He checked his chronometer, amazed that he’d only been asleep for less than an hour.  But as always, his eyes strayed towards his wife’s serene-looking face.

Tears began to run unchecked from his eyes and into his beard.  …Please, Maker, please… He pleaded over and over, his big arms grabbing D’Aylanna’s unresponsive body to him as he buried his face into her hair.  The only sounds that filled the room were that of Zearic’s quiet sobbing.

After a while, Zearic’s exhaustion overtook him once more, his breathing slowing as he finally fell asleep.

This time when he dreamed, they were unremarkable and soporific, lasting—for the first time in many weeks—throughout the night.
Logged

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, 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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Force Alignment: 165
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« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2019, 03:10:20 PM »

So far this story has a very different tone, very much a family drama kind of thing so points for trying out a different kind of narrative Dutch.

Zearic is interesting in this, that even physically restored and stronger than ever still he feels weak, and the imagery of his dream was disturbingly poignant...but his response was a very 'gray' Jedi thing to do - he refused the dichotomy presented by others would not play the game the way they wanted (or did he....). And the parallel to Jorya is interesting too as she reflects on Zearics lessons further just as he acts them in a way.
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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 #7 on: June 03, 2019, 07:03:00 AM »

Echoing LSG: this is very different.   I like it.  :-)   

I thought it was interesting, Zearic trying to modify the lesson "Take what you want and pay for it." that he'd transmitted to his daughter.  He sees her brash actions in a different light, understands on a very different level that paying for it might be a lot harder to bear than you realize in the moment.  Perhaps he will have the courage to share the lesson in the only way that will really work - by being transparent.

I can imagine that any force-user who was active and had any kind of relationship would have this issue, though.  Rather like a super-hero - they're nature and activities bring their loved ones into danger.  In this case, his wife and child are also capable Jedi, but his new 'status' does bring an element of danger.  One he is worried about.  But at the same time, this will always be true of anyone who is active in the pursuit of Good (or Evil, for that matter).  You see this played out in cop shows and other types of fiction all the time.   This is probably one of the origins of the Jedi's traditional avoidance of attachments: to protect the Jedi from strong emotional forces and to protect others from the Jedi's job or other risks.  Look what happened to Padme'.   Or the Countess that Obi-Wan had a thing for.

So there's risk.  I think "keeping it in the family" as Zearic and Karmack did by marrying another Knight with similar training and capabilities helps a lot, but one day their actions will bring a tragic end. 

Or a horrific choice.

How do you deal with it?   That's always the question...
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TheDutchman
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Force Alignment: 806
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2019, 08:57:58 AM »

So far this story has a very different tone, very much a family drama kind of thing so points for trying out a different kind of narrative Dutch.

Zearic is interesting in this, that even physically restored and stronger than ever still he feels weak, and the imagery of his dream was disturbingly poignant...but his response was a very 'gray' Jedi thing to do - he refused the dichotomy presented by others would not play the game the way they wanted (or did he....). And the parallel to Jorya is interesting too as she reflects on Zearics lessons further just as he acts them in a way.
Echoing LSG: this is very different.   I like it.  :-)   

I thought it was interesting, Zearic trying to modify the lesson "Take what you want and pay for it." that he'd transmitted to his daughter.  He sees her brash actions in a different light, understands on a very different level that paying for it might be a lot harder to bear than you realize in the moment.  Perhaps he will have the courage to share the lesson in the only way that will really work - by being transparent.

I can imagine that any force-user who was active and had any kind of relationship would have this issue, though.  Rather like a super-hero - they're nature and activities bring their loved ones into danger.  In this case, his wife and child are also capable Jedi, but his new 'status' does bring an element of danger.  One he is worried about.  But at the same time, this will always be true of anyone who is active in the pursuit of Good (or Evil, for that matter).  You see this played out in cop shows and other types of fiction all the time.   This is probably one of the origins of the Jedi's traditional avoidance of attachments: to protect the Jedi from strong emotional forces and to protect others from the Jedi's job or other risks.  Look what happened to Padme'.   Or the Countess that Obi-Wan had a thing for.

So there's risk.  I think "keeping it in the family" as Zearic and Karmack did by marrying another Knight with similar training and capabilities helps a lot, but one day their actions will bring a tragic end. 

Or a horrific choice.

How do you deal with it?   That's always the question...
Thanks guys for the feedback.  As you both adroitly pointed out: it IS different.  I'm trying to get more into the mental/emotional conflict of Zearic and Jorya and the fact that Gray Jedi might be able to have access to different powers but SO much of their intent becomes more prevalent than something as simple as "Oh, that's a Jedi/Sith" ability and/or attitude.  And, of course, the growing pains of families, especially in times of adversity.  Honestly, what you guys have said is so incredibly on-point that it gives me a bit more courage with where I was thinking of taking the narrative... Wink

On another point (courtesy of Karm!): the fact that we have a family of Jedi makes for excellent pathos.  Families by their very nature have so much story potential just as they are; with a family of Jedi I believe that there is SO much to be mined from them and their situations.  I really have to give credit where credit is due and that's Karm's excellent "We Are Gray."  I remember reading the EU books and thinking how interesting the interpersonal relationships were among the Forceusers (e.g. the Solo children to their Uncle Luke) but how I still felt that they were somewhat stunted (this was HEAVILY influenced by whichever author was writing the story so it was really hit-and-miss from each writer and and another).  However, I can honestly say that given open minds, creativity, and a bit of panache ( Cheesy), collaborations SHOULD really embody some of the best stories.  to wit, I have had an absolute blast writing "The Gray&the Unchained" which I know helped me up my writing game, often playing off of Karm's and LSG's ideas/scenes to produce something superior than what I'd originally thought of.  Sorry, didn't mean to go off on a tangent... Anyhow, when I watched "Attack of the Clones" and learned that Jedi don't have families, I thought that that was a mistake (as a literary device).  I understand why Lucas had included it in the story to create conflict but I also considered it a poor choice...but that's another rabbit hole that I don't want to go down  Wink

Special mention: thanks to TDC for letting me use his characters!  They'll be integral in future chapters and I appreciate his trust  Grin
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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, 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

TheDutchman
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2019, 08:36:25 AM »


Chapter 2:  Reparation and Revelation

“…As I was saying, Arbiter—” Zearic was unable to finish his sentence, interrupted by the only other person in the room.

“Be silent, Vih’Torr.” The shorter man hissed.  Running his hand through his long graying hair, Listian Damarcus rose from the desk that he sat behind, coming around to stare fiercely into Zearic’s strange hazel eyes.  “Just so I understand, you unilaterally activated Bellicose Protocols because you’d handed over vital information concerning the Order’s intel and resources…” Listian slowly inhaled.

Taking the break in conversation as his cue to respond, Zearic began, “That’s correct, Arbi—” However, he was once again cut off.

“I’m not finished!  So, you divulged Order secrets to outsiders all to gain…what, training?” He folded his arms.  “You may answer now, Vih’Torr.” He practically fumed.

Taking a calming breath, Zearic responded.  “No, Arbiter.  Not for training; for information.  For the Order’s security.”  …To safeguard my family and friends… He thought to himself.  And while he couldn’t fault Listian for his exasperation, the big man’s own frustration was beginning to grow.  “And as I’ve said before: prior to trading the intel, I’d enacted the Protocols to ensure the Order’s protection.  We need to learn all that we can about this new group.” Even with his hands clasped behind him, Zearic dwarfed the Vhal’Dan Arbiter, at least in stature.  Nevertheless, Listian seemed to loom over the much larger man even as Zearic spoke.  “Arbiter, the Order regularly enacts the Protocols as a safety measure since the Purge…especially because of the Purge.  If anything, my own actions merely anticipated the upcoming change by bringing the timetable forward.”

“And since when has such a decision been under your purview, Vih’Torr?  Were you elected Speaker in absentia while gone from Sekot and without anyone telling me?  Or are you claiming to speak with your wife’s authority while she is catatonic?” Listian stepped forward, staring into Zearic’s eyes.  On any other occasion, the tableau presented would have looked humorous given the size disparity between the two men.  But where the Arbiter was a short, lithe human with slender limbs, his strength in the Force was remarkable, almost a match to Oyuna Chand’n, the current Vhal’Dan Kage.  Conversely, Zearic’s own Force strength was as disproportionate between his and Listian’s size, the large maenowan being considerably the weaker…

…That is until recent events, for which he was now much closer to Listian in terms of raw Force power than before.  And both men knew it even though the Arbiter had not outright commented how such had occurred.

“My apologies, Arbiter.  Never…” Suddenly Zearic’s own gaze became raptorlike, his tone imposing, “…But I know that the trade was worth the intel that I gained as a result.  And not just what I received in martial knowledge.”  His voice became more imploring, “Arbiter, there is a powerful shadow organization out there, manipulating entire governments on a galactic scale.  I don’t know how they’ve remained hidden this lon—”

Listian barked a scornful laugh.  “‘Shadow organization manipulating entire governments on a galactic scale’ you say.” He gave a small shake of his head.  “Whatever you think that you gained—to say nothing of your questionable motives(!)—is not the issue here.  The fact that you made these decisions without consulting your betters is a most egregious concern, to say nothing of your unauthorized actions taken as a result.”  Listian’s voice adopted a formal tone, as if commencing judgment.  Which he very much was.  “Maenowan Zearic Vih’Torr, you are formally censured.  You are to remain here within the Templar Archives until further instructed.  Do you understand?” His voice was as hard as the surrounding dark granite walls.

Zearic’s own temper was up as well.  He understood the reasons for being censured—he readily accepted it—but what he couldn’t countenance was that he felt that Listian was being both willfully obdurate and dismissive with everything that Zearic had told him: Mendax’s attack on the Mak’Tor, the Dark Jedi within the capital city of Sierra, the Men-At-Arms forces battling her fleet in planetary orbit, those damned drone troopers and their “Kage-killer” setting, the death of Kage Silman Lo…the thousands that had lost their lives.  And for what purpose?  He was still uncertain of so much...

One thing that he had not told Listian was of his…compliance to those…those beings.  …Shavit… He silently cursed, …How in the Maker-damned hell am I supposed to protect my family…?  Suddenly, something caught his attention.  “Forgive me, Arbiter but I am…what?”  For the first time since the meeting had begun, he fell speechless.

“You heard me: you are stripped of your rank of maenowan until I deem otherwise; you shall for all intents and purposes assume the mantle of Silver Knight again.” The small human’s voice was condescending yet scathing.  “As soon as I speak to the Kage, I will make your demotion formal and permanent.”  Listian came face-to-face with Zearic, or at least as close as the height disparity would allow them.  “Remember when you stood in front of Oyuna after that debacle on Byss?” The Arbiter’s voice had lost its formal tone replaced with one that was almost conversational and genial.  But his eyes were anything but.  “I knew that you were trouble then, certainly unworthy of remaining with the Order.  You were only given latitude as a favor to both Kazic and D’Aylanna; if I’d had my way, you would have been expelled then and there, never to wear the robes of the Vhal’Dan ever again.  You were always weak.  It wouldn’t surprise me if what really happened is that you left G’av to save your own cowardly hide.”

Zearic saw red, his fists clenching and unclenching, right up until the last sentence.  Upon hearing Listian’s last words, the large human turned cold and for the first time, stared directly into the Arbiter’s eyes.  “…I lost a brother that day.  Not that I expect for you to believe me; I’ve always suspected that you held a personal grudge against me and you’ve now proven me right.”  He shook his head, letting some of the disgust that he felt show.  “You have no soul, Arbiter.”  He took a slow breath.  “I couldn’t care less what you think of me and I don’t have to stand here and listen to that…”

Listian moved closer still.  “Then why don’t you do something about it, koawan?” He said tauntingly, his gray eyes full of anger…

…And hatred.

Zearic’s face was red yet impassive, his jaw clenched tight.  Then, visibly his jowl muscles relaxed.  “No Arbiter, I know the Law same as you; I won’t assault someone of your…station.”  But for all of his gentle tone, Zearic stared daggers into Listian’s eyes.

“Always an excuse, Vih’Torr.  Fine; let us dispense with our ranks so that you can’t hide behind that.”  The small human stabbed his finger into Zearic’s wide chest.  “You aren’t fit to wear those robes.  What say you, coward?” Listian’s voice practically seethed.

Zearic paused, knowing what he’d like to do.  Yes, the Arbiter was stronger in the Force than he, but no longer by the gaping margin that he had been.  With what he’d learned and acquired from Nimmin Cha, Zearic knew that whatever Listian thought he knew about his martial skills was a far cry from the reality of it.  And the Arbiter knew nothing of his Oblivion daggers…

All of this went through his head in an instant.  What he did instead was to dip his chin in respect of the office meanwhile forcing a light tone in his voice.  “No Arbiter, I don’t think so.”  Zearic turned his head, a conspiratorial look upon his face.  “…But if ever I do come after you, Listian—” He deliberately stressed the name, “—You won’t have to worry about any excuses.  Just the ones that I’ll have to tell to your surviving family…oh, that’s right: you don’t have any, do you?” Zearic twisted the knife one last time before turning on his heal to exit the room.

He felt a strong hand upon his forearm—his right forearm—where the Arbiter stopped him.  Both men looked at one another, no love lost between the two.  “I’ll never understand what D’Aylanna sees in you, Vih’Torr.  You are beneath her, nothing…less than nothing.  It’s a pity that it isn’t her in this room speaking to me and you in her place, comatose.” His eyes flashed, the last façade of his office gone, exposing the rage of the man beneath.  Rage and—

Suddenly Zearic understood.  He revealed nothing of his thoughts on the subject, instead admitting, “You’re right, Listian—” His voice held neither irony nor anger, “I don’t deserve D’Aylanna.  And if I could trade places with her, I’d do so in an instant, absent any and all consideration.”  Zearic looked pointedly at the Arbiter’s hand upon his arm, his voice once again adopting a formal tone.  “Excuse me, Arbiter.”

The two men stood staring at one another for a moment longer before Listian dropped his hand wordlessly returning to his seat behind the desk.  And without a backwards glance, Zearic left the room.

But his mind continued to turn over and again the events of the evening.  And of the revelations learned.

               <<<<< >>>>>

Seeing Father tramp away from the Arbiter’s quarters in the Templar Archives, his steps heavy and quick, Jorya hurried on her long legs to catch up.  He must’ve been preoccupied as the momentary look of surprise crossed his face as she fell into step next to him.  Reading his mood, she did not talk for many moments as they both strode through the halls.

After several minutes, she was about to ask him a question when he suddenly came to a stop, his voice was quiet.  “Not here.” His terse tone all but ensured her silence.  Nodding, she wordlessly directed him to her quarters; they were more private than the rooms that Father shared with Mother, if for no other reason that there were several medical datanodes monitoring the comatose Hapan Master.

Keying the door closed, Jorya consciously locked it.  She’d seen Father agitated before on several occasions, enough to recognize that he was now beyond that.

He was angry.

No, furious by his demeanor, the mask that he’d worn within the halls dropping as he turned with crossed arms across his barrel chest.  And although Zearic was breathing heavily, his mouth a grimace, he remained silent while he collected his thoughts.

With renewed worry, Jorya gently prodded, “…Dad?” tentatively placing a hand upon his wide shoulder.  Gazing at her, his strange hazel eyes were full of rage…until his brow unfurrow.  Somewhat.

“Sorry.  And thank you, Dear One.” He patted Jorya’s hand, engulfing it within his own.  “It’s not you.” He suddenly stared off into the distance, his gaze a straight line to where the Arbiter’s rooms were past the Archive’s dark granite wall.

“It never is, Dad.” Jorya said playfully but sobering upon her next sentence, “What happened?”

Zearic’s stare didn’t waver, the muscles in his jowls flexing.  Jorya could swear that she heard his teeth grinding.  Patiently, she stroked his wide back while she wait for him to continue.  She didn’t have to wait long.  “…I’ve been censured.”

“Sorry to hear tha—” Jorya began but stopped short upon hearing next what her Father shared.

“The Arbiter demoted me.  I’m no longer maenowan.”  The quiet, emotionless tone was completely incongruous with the anger Jorya felt radiating off of her Father.  Jorya’s mouth worked but no words came out, so shocked was the Togruta.  When she was finally able to speak, her voice was shrill and incredulous.

“Wha…how…can Arbiter Damarcus do that?!” Jorya’s blue eyes flared as her own anger—this time for her Father—burst forth.  It was almost comical; both father and adoptive daughter had adopted almost mirroring stances: arms crossed, shoulders squared, mouth clenched in anger.  However, the mood within the room was anything but.

“Point of fact, no Jorya, not exactly.” Zearic’s gaze hadn’t faltered.  “But my only legal means of recourse to challenge Listian’s verdict is within the Hall of Balance, specifically under the Kage’s purview.” Zearic turned his head, his anger beginning to dissipate somewhat.  “And while I have no doubt that Oyuna will vacate the Arbiter’s judgment, she is not here.  Only Listian.”  He said the last pointedly.

Slowly nodding her head, Jorya’s own voice was considering.  “And you think that the Arbiter has it out for you?”  She still couldn’t believe what Father had told her.  Demoted?  To the best of her knowledge, that had not occurred since…well, since the Clans in the New Sith Wars and Black Rikard’s time.  Jorya thought that nothing else could surprise her.

She was wrong.

“I think that he’s enamored with your Mother.”  Zearic mused, confiding his suspicions.  “Listian has always been…not exactly antagonistic of me but I never counted him a friend.”  Slowly, he removed his outer tunic.  “Now I know why…”  Divesting himself of his inner tunic, Zearic finally sat down, his red undershirt stretched seemingly to capacity.  He ran his hand through his shorn hair, a small smile suddenly appearing.  “I wonder if your Mother knew; if she did, she certainly didn’t tell me.”  As soon as the words had left his mouth, Zearic’s smile disappeared.  “…Seems there was much that she didn’t tell me…” He had spoken under his breath but Jorya’s superior hearing caught every word.

She took a seat next to the big man.  “Dad, I know that Mother has responsibilities as 7th Speaker that she can’t tell us but do you really think that she’d keep anything important from us?  From you?”  Jorya had asked it rhetorically but she could tell that Father was well and truly concerned.  Not only had his anger returned but now she could tell that he was fighting off an emotional pain, one wholly unfamiliar to him.  Changing tactics, she pushed on.  “Dad, if she kept anything from us then it must have been for our own good.  You know Mother: she’d take on a Gorog all by herself if it meant that she’d save us in the process.” She said, only half in jest.

Zearic thought back before the Mendax debacle, when he and Jaim had been searching for information at the Vhal’Dan Hall of Archives and the erased and redacted records with that single, damning epitaph: “Sealed by order of Seventh Speaker elect, Master Gray D’Aylanna Vih’Torr.”  He told nothing of it to Jorya.  But his body still betrayed him.

For a moment, Zearic’s demeanor was absolutely rigid, his face contorting from hurt to angry.  But after a moment, his shoulders slumped as if he was willing a burden from them.  Putting on a halfhearted smile, Zearic looked at his adoptive daughter, patting her slender back.  “I’m sure you’re right Dear One.  Don’t mind this old man, it’s been a rough day.  Let’s just try to get some rest.  And that’s an order.”  He said the last in mock sternness.

Jorya briefly hugged him, resting her cheek upon his wide shoulder.  “It’ll be OK, Dad.”  She suddenly stared at him, her eyes sparkling.  “But I don’t think that you’re in a position to give me anymore orders; after all: you’re no longer a maenowan.”

Zearic just stared at her for a moment, his face blank.  And then he barked a laugh.  Hugging Jorya to him, he muttered under his breath, “…Just like your Mother…”

Together, they tried their best to salvage the remains of the day and doing a decent job of it.  But in the backs of their minds, their collective worries refused to give up the ghost.
Logged

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, 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 #10 on: November 02, 2019, 08:30:29 PM »

One of the best things about your writing Dutch, shown in this chapter and Schisms especially is there are never clear cut right/wrong positions character take - the example here being Zearic who absolutely went exceeded his authoirty in doing a deal that imperiled the Vhal'dans security and implementing bellicose protocols, whatever his excuses that following the Purge they are done regularly and the precautions he took.  On the other hand he as a Maenowan took a chance to gather intel and knowledge when a very unique opportunity to do so presented itself.
On the other side Listian is completely correct censuring him for this, but by the same token there is more than a hint of personal vendetta in his censure which undermines that, and he seems dismissive of Zearics initiative, and judgement, in taking a chance to get valuable intel.
Neither side comes out as having acted wisely and in that way it a very realistic depiction of internal politics and the struggle between competing priorities in almost every organisation.

And another ironic point I liked Zearic noting to the Arbiter re the Shadow Organisation ... " I don’t know how they’ve remained hidden this lon—"  and then later recalling "that single, damning epitaph: “Sealed by order of Seventh Speaker elect, Master Gray D’Aylanna Vih’Torr.”" how long before Zearic joins those dots together....
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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 #11 on: November 13, 2019, 10:35:03 AM »


Chapter 3: Insight Through Inebriation

Berra had just taken a seat, exhausted from training in the Templar sallet, a glass of avignol in her hand, when the door chimed.  The Miraluka projected her Force senses outward past the door, wondering who would be calling upon her at such a late hour.  As soon as she felt him, she jumped to her feet, her avignol all but forgotten.  Quickly she strode to the door, keying it open.

In front of her stood Zearic Vih’Torr.

Even though she had no eyes with which to see him, she was able to get a picture of the man in front of her: only slightly above average height, he was wide and heavy—heavier than a human male his size should be—and, although he tried his best to hide it, he was agitated, switching his weight from one leg to the other.

But more importantly, she could feel the man: his aura was intense, a gray-blue vibe comported about himself surrounding a tight yet perceptible core of red.  Not that she knew what such colors meant…as colors.  But as emotions?  Berra was nothing if not empathetic with sentients’ emotions, with most humanoids being particularly revealing.  Zearic Vih’Torr certainly was.

And he was not.

Even as Berra’s senses adjusted to the aura that she naturally scrutinized, she could sense something…amiss deep below (if such a location could be said to exist).  No, not “amiss.”  Tentative?  Uncertain?  Unfamiliar?  It was odd; as she knew, most humanoids fell along a spectrum that she’d come to recognize as “normal” or “default.”  This man was…and was not.  She didn’t know how else to articulate it, not even to herself.

Mentally she shook her head; that was not important now.  “Good evening, Maenowan Vih’Torr.”  She answered by rote, her mind quickly catching up to her instincts.  “I’ve been expecting you.”  She moved to the side, beckoning him in.

“Thank you, Mistress Tarun.”  His quiet baritone was deep, reserved yet assertive.  “My apologies for bothering you so late in the evening.  I’ve been meaning to speak with you.”

“Of course.  Can I offer you kaf?  Or perhaps something stronger?  I have some excellent avignol, aged 25 years; from Master Crescentfall’s own stores.”  She gestured to a cozy if utilitarian table, the chairs comfortable and well-worn.

Zearic gave a half-grin.  “I would gladly like a glass of the ’25, please.”  He eased into the seat, careful and deliberate.  Again, she felt tentativeness radiate off of him as if he were expecting something.  After a few seconds, Berra felt him relax, his aura likewise changing.

“Of course, Maenowan Vih’Tor.”  She grabbed another one of the tumblers from the shelf and set it down.  Expertly, she began to pour.

“‘Zearic’ please, Mistress Tarun.  And its ‘Koawan.’” He said the last in a bitter tone, swallowing down the avignol in a single swallow.  “By the Maker, that’s good.  Not to impose Mistress Tarun, but may I trouble you for another?”  Berra couldn’t help but smile.  Although she’d just met the man, she felt comfortable around Zearic’s genial nature. 

…Much like Jorya…which makes sense… The thought came automatically as she grinned while pouring him a double.  “No trouble at all.  And I insist that you call me ‘Berra.’”  Like Zearic, her tone was warm and inviting.  Grabbing her already filled tumbler, Berra took a chair opposite him and settled into her seat.

This time, the big man took his time with the avignol, savoring the potent spirit.  “Delicious.  Thank you, Berra.” He proclaimed.  Setting the tumbler down absent over half its contents, Zearic then looked at Berra, an intense look upon his face.

“I…I wanted to thank you for everything that you did for my wife.” Even though his voice was strong and clear, Berra could sense the underlying anguish coming from him.  “I just wanted to express my gratitude…and to, to tell you that you should in no way feel any responsibility with D’Aylanna’s current condition.”  Despite the fact that she herself had none, Berra could tell that Zearic’s eyes held her with an intense gaze.  But more importantly, she could feel the absolute sincerity radiating from the man.

“Jorya told you.” Berra said instead.  She shouldn’t be surprised; Jorya had often spoke fondly concerning her adoptive father and of their shared confidences.  Besides, Zearic wasn’t wrong to mention it: Berra did feel responsible, or at least somewhat.

As if reading her mind, Zearic leaned forward.  “She did…but moreover I can sense it about you.  You honor my wife but, Berra…you are not at fault.  D’Aylanna knew the risks when she answered Rakham’s call.  And besides…she would never blame you, especially not after everything that you did.”  His voice trailed off for a moment before beginning again.  “I blame that damned ‘Shade’ or whatever that Revenant was.  And so should you.  Don’t waste time or energy trying to assume responsibility for something that isn’t your fault.”

Berra said nothing, her emotions a veritable tempest.  She logically knew that what Zearic said was true; furthermore, she’d gotten to know D’Aylanna well—certainly enough to consider her a friend—that the Miraluka knew that the Hapan Speaker would never fault her.  And from what she could feel from the man in front of her, neither did Zearic.  Still… “My mind tells me the same, even the other Templars have told me such dozens of times but…” In her mind’s eye, she could still hear Jorya’s shrill, terrified shriek as she desperately pleaded for help, the unmoving diminutive body of her mother cradled in the Togruta’s lap.  “…But sometimes it just isn’t as simple as that—”

“Yes it is.” Zearic’s blunt matter-of-fact statement cut through Berra’s trepidations.  “You’re not to blame.  Period.”  Suddenly, she felt his mood shift, once again becoming genial.  She thought she heard him chuckle.  “…A wise woman once told me not to take responsibility for the actions of others, especially when they’d acted upon their own prerogative.”  His voice became wistful.  “…It took me a long time to realize that she was right.”  Suddenly, Zearic’s voice changed, becoming intense and conspiratorial.  “But I know that’s of little comfort.”  She could practically hear the wink in his tone.

Once again smiling, if bittersweet, Berra filled both tumblers.  “No, it isn’t.”  As one, they both drained their glasses of avignol.  “But admittedly…it does help.  Thank you, Zearic.”  She poured the last of the bottle out between the two tumblers.  Raising a glass, Berra intoned solemnly, “To your wife.”  Zearic instantly clinked his glass against hers, immediately offering his own toast afterwards.

“To you.” Once again, they both drank the potent liquid, the sensation not altogether unpleasant.

And as the evening drew long into the night, the two Jedi drank another bottle, trading tales as well as commiseration, both opening up to one another as a twin consequence of their shared experiences as well as their lowered inhibitions from avignol consumption.

It was well after midnight when Zearic had confided to Berra one of his concerns, one that evoked an epiphany for the Miraluka.  It was longer still after Berra and he had hammered out plans that, if successful, might offer the answers that they both so desperately wanted and needed.

               <<<<< >>>>>

“And you really think that there’s something within Kadmaur’s Archives that can help?” Rakham’s arms were crossed but he lounged easily in his chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him.

“From what Mistress Berra had said, she thought it possible.” Zearic’s voice seemed slightly subdued, his eyes bloodshot.  Incredibly, the Miraluka had been able to meet him shot-for-shot with the avignol.  And while he wasn’t given to indulgence, it had admittedly been a while since he’d last drank that much.  Carefully, he sipped some of the sweetwater that Rakham had offered him.  “She suggested search parameters referencing ‘black orbs’ either directly or tangentially.”  By the Maker his head pounded…

Zearic had found in Berra a friend, one that—like him—shared a mutual obligation…and shame, at least as it came to D’Aylanna.  And for all of his protestations, the big man also still carried the weight of responsibility, to his wife, his daughter, his family and friends.  Berra had been as insistent as he that neither of them were at fault.

But that did little to assuage their own self-convictions.

From there, Zearic had admitted that one of the biggest trepidations was what he’d found at the Hall of Archives on Sekot, the erased and redacted files done at D’Aylanna’s behest.  But that hadn’t been what had elicited a memory—or at least the hint of one—for Berra.  It was when Zearic had mentioned the black Oblivion orb that Kazic had described in the surviving partial recording.

When Berra had sat up straighter in her chair, she mused, “…black…orb?”  She’d put a hand to her head in the hope that doing so would somehow trigger a more concise memory.

“Have you heard of such material?  Oblivion orbs?” Zearic had also sat up, his spirits tentatively rising.  Cautiously.

Berra’s voice was distracted for a moment.  “‘Oblivion’…?”  When next she spoke, she sounded almost completely sober.  “No, no sorry.  I’ve never heard of these ‘Oblivion orbs.’  But…I…I could almost swear that I’d heard something…something from Kadmaur, well one of his holorecordings…a…a black orb?”  Again placing her hands to her head, Berra’s face sank into her palms.  “Shavit…oh, sorry Zearic.”

Smiling, Zearic had patted her hand.  “Please; D’Aylanna is always telling me that the Maker will punish me for my language.”  Also sobering, Zearic continued.  “So a ‘black orb’…you think that we can find something in the Templar Archives?”

Berra’s face looked contrite.  “I…I’m not certain.  Zearic, I’m sorry.” 

“Don’t be.”  Zearic sat back, despondent.

Berra suddenly snapped, muttering under her breath, “…damned avignol…”  But when next she had spoken, the Miraluka sounded hopeful, “Even if I can’t remember exactly, I’m sure that Master Crescentfall would know what I’m talking about.” 

From there, the two of them had spoken at length concerning what they wanted to do next.

But, just as Kazic had reminded Zearic when he was young, the “journey of a thousand kilometers begins with a single step.”  Zearic smiled despite the headache.

This was that step.

Rakham looked at the shorter man, consternation upon his face.  “Zearic…I gave my word—both to D’Aylanna and to you—that I would do everything within my power to help, and I will.”  The tall Templar Master’s tone became troubled.  “But know this: Kadmaur’s holojournals are…well, sometimes they’re vague.  Ambiguous.  He had so many secrets…I think that in keeping everything around him an enigma, he was deliberately pensive to even those closest to him…” His voice trailed off, lost in the memories of the past, his past…

Even now, the revelation that Kadmaur hadn’t been anything like the man that Rakham had grown up with, a seemingly wise, patient, and genial Jedi Master, incredibly powerful in the ways of the Force.  Oh, he was many of those things…but who Kadmaur had truly been?  Rakham knew enough about the old man to know that he knew nothing.

Still, he had promises to keep.  Recalling himself to the present, Rakham looked down at the wide man in front of him, those strange hazel eyes bloodshot and red, a look of anguish and hopelessness held in abeyance upon Zearic’s face.  “I will scour the holorecordings for any mention of ‘black orbs’ even if I have to spend the next month without sleep.  I know that D’Aylanna would do the same for me.”  He smiled, hoping to conciliate the despair he felt from the man in front of him.  “I’ll find something.”  He held his arm out, hand outstretched.

Zearic slowly inhaled, thoughts of his wife occupying his mind.  But there was no question really.  Again he reminded himself: D’Aylanna had trusted this man.  He took the proffered hand, unsurprised by Rakham’s equally powerful grip.  Both men nodded, a new understanding having been reached.

And respect.

“Thank you, Master Crescentfall.” Zearic said sincerely.  “My wife was right about you.  I am sorry for…” He trailed off, whether or not overwhelmed by sorrow or relief even he could not say.

“Don’t mention it.”  Rakham’s quiet tone was magnanimous.  “And you’d do me a favor by calling me Rakham.”  His gaze was intense, deliberate.  Zearic gave a small nod.

“Of course.  Rakham.”  Zearic’s mouth twisted in a half-grin.  “And please: ‘Zearic.’” 

Rakham knew that it would take more than that for the two men to like one another.  But…it was a start.
Logged

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, 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 #12 on: November 14, 2019, 03:42:41 PM »

Compared to his arrival it seems Zearic has settled....somewhat...Berra's hospitality no doubt helping...but still as she clearly saw as only a Miraluka (...or a certain genetically enhanced descendant species) can see there are serious instabilities deep within him. Kadmaur has quite the collection...even something as focused as black orbs could find many interesting results...or perhaps many dead ends as this is a character with many many secrets...Liking the very different nature of this tale, had lots of 'action' tales now it seems moving into a new character focused era (for a time at least)!
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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 #13 on: November 14, 2019, 03:46:35 PM »

Compared to his arrival it seems Zearic has settled....somewhat...Berra's hospitality no doubt helping...but still as she clearly saw as only a Miraluka (...or a certain genetically enhanced descendant species) can see there are serious instabilities deep within him. Kadmaur has quite the collection...even something as focused as black orbs could find many interesting results...or perhaps many dead ends as this is a character with many many secrets...Liking the very different nature of this tale, had lots of 'action' tales now it seems moving into a new character focused era (for a time at least)!

Agreed.  This is almost more of a detective novel vibe.  :-)  I also appreciated Berra's insight into Zearic. I need to look up Mialuka on Wookiepedia...
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