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Author Topic: Familicide: The First Gray Jedi War  (Read 677 times)
TheDutchman
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 982
Posts: 3717


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« on: May 07, 2021, 10:49:27 AM »

Before I begin, I'd like to express my gratitude to the following:
To Lord_S_Gray: For his awesome help both as a soundboard as well as the plot assists.  I know for a fact that he's one of the reasons that my writing has improved compared to when I first began.
To For Tyeth: For always, selflessly going above and beyond with his incredible visual renderings.  No matter the request, FT has ALWAYS delivered, exceeding my expectations, indeed my hopes, with every single ask.
To everyone reading this: Thank you for your interest!

And now, to begin...
************************************************************************************************

Prologue
Then...

In a flurry of pseudomotion, the sleek, heavily armed ship re-entered normal space, advanced sensors scrutinizing the entirety of the area around the dark gunship.  Almost instantaneously, the information was relayed on the holoviewer, violet eyes cataloging every iota of data that came in while the lone occupant multitasked travel logistics, local space/time distortions, and his ship's combat-readiness.

He need not have worried.

Apart from a paltry few hydrogen atoms per cubic meter, the occasional black body object, and a galactic background radiation reading well within Republic Standard, the only exotic stellar event of note was a miniature collection of intwined dark energy filaments several micrometers in diameter.  Such was the state of the Marcol Void: a vast expanse of nothingness measuring 30 lightyears in all directions.  ...And a waste of my time... He thought, after dedicating a full two consciousnesses towards situational awareness...just in case...

Lor-Riou's smooth skin furrowed at his brow, the hint of blue in his melanin--courtesy of his mother--making him look as if he were still staring at the hyperspace tunnel he'd taken to transit the distance to...wherever precisely the hell this place was.  Unconsciously, the deft fingers of his left hand manipulated the three durasteel balls within his palm, a gift from his uncle, Raru.  He'd called them "stress spheres."  Whenever confronted with a seemingly unsolvable problem, or his Father's Curse, or the increasingly frequent bouts of agitation, Raru had suggested to focus solely on the three orbs, absently working his hand to give his mind an anchor with which to project all of his frustrations.  Lor-Riou smirked; sometimes it worked.

But not today.

With a snarl he sprang from his seat, pacing the deck of the cramped compartment while he ground his teeth in exasperation.  As it happened all too often now, he saw red as his fury threatened to overwhelm him.  Feeling foolish, he castigated himself: he was an addle-brained idiot for hoping that what he'd been promised could ever be possible.  ...Frell them...frell them all... He silently swore.  Temperance gave way to anger, all rational thought forgotten.  Transgressions--real and imagined--bombarded him, from his deep-seated hatred of his father, to the rudimentary machinations of tired, old men, to the friction between the Zilior military and his own Votarious.  Why would those fools not listen to him, to his plans, certain to guarantee victory and assure his supremacy?  Instead they vacillated from one unimportant point to the next, all the while doing nothing.  Nothing!

He knew better, his life's lessons learned in the forges of adversity's fires.  And now: a message telling little, saying less, and offering more questions than answers.  Who did he think he was, offering information about his mother... After all, hadn't his own bastard of a father tried for decad--no, centuries!--to help her?!  Which was laughable at best; his father had been the one to effectively kill he--

Suddenly, his conscious mind caught up to his emotions, the tightly controlled grip upon his baser nature...his Father's Curse...reasserting itself.  ...Calm dammit... His ragged breath smoothed, the words of Uncle Raru reminding him to always remain master of himself.  Raru had known of his tribulations, of the affliction that he bore and suffered... They both knew all too intimately what would happen should Lor-Riou forego his control, give into the Lust...

...Must I remain cursed... He pondered, not for the first--nor the last--time.

Like cool water dousing the fires of his anger, a small, almost innocuous sound caught his attention, Lor-Riou's head tilting slightly as he attempted to identify the source...

It sounded like...dripping liquid?

The answer came in milliseconds.  Looking down at his left hand, he saw the still-bright durasteel running from between his fingers.  Although his skin wasn't harmed, what remained of the stress spheres had melted as a result of his lost control, his fist still clenched tightly.  Uncle's words echoed across his mind, Raru's calming influence the lone balm in his life. 

But Uncle was no longer here... He had to maintain control!

Taking slow, deep, calming breaths, Lor-Riou finally felt the mantle of peace settle down upon him, the Lust abating, if slowly.  But he was again himself, not a slave to the imperative of his ancestry.  Once again, he was thankful for Raru's teachings, even if he was ultimately unable to fix that which ailed Lor-Riou the most.  Serenity returned as sudden as his previous fury had erupted.

And none too soon.  Mere milliseconds before the ship's proximity alerts sounded, Lor-Riou's own eldritch senses gave him notice of incoming company.

Stabbing up through the galactic plane, another ship appeared from hyperspace, coming to a sudden stop perpendicular to Lor-Riou's gunboat.  The other craft was larger than his but seemed to lack the armament of his gunship.  Unsurprising that; he had taken the Vhal'Dan--the true Vhal'Dan--and made them strong, harkening back to the time of Black Rikard.  Instead of those faithless academics constantly searching for meaning in musty relics of the past, his Vhal'Dan were warriors all. 

He let that thought comfort him as the other ship gave the correct IFF codes, his almost-smile not touching his eyes.  Now he would see to it that he got the answers that he sought, that he deserved.

The hollow metallic sound of docking clamps reverberated throughout the gunboat, red sensors switching to green indicating the presence of breathable atmosphere only confirming that which he already sensed.  Indeed, he could even tell that the other craft's hull had slight degradation in one of the cross-sections of the doonium plating, courtesy of heavy stellar bombardment.  Interesting; only constant proximity to the stellar objects of the Inner Core would produce such.

Still, even with his preternatural senses, Lor-Riou could only guess where the ship's occupant had disembarked from.  Such limitations frustrated him to no end...that, and the fact that he could not expand his mind further within the ship, almost as if...

No, not "almost"...he was being blocked!

Now that truly took Lor-Riou by surprise.  In his centuries of life, no one had ever managed to impede his Force Senses, much less to do so, so effectively...so completely. 

Unafraid, he made his way to the airlock where the blastdoor was already irising open.  Here Lor-Riou received his second shock: someone was already waiting for him outside!  How had he not sensed this person?!  Again, intrigued yet unafraid, he approached the robed figure, his lightsaber forgotten on his belt.  Not that he needed it; after all, he was the weapon.

"Greetings, Lor-Riou Herin nil’K’aval-Ovarug.  I am heartened that you accepted my invitation." The figure's face came into the light as his hood seemed to pull back, exposing not only his head but his broad chest as well.

Lor-Riou blinked.  Not since Uncle had anyone uttered his name, his full name that is.  "I have to admit that I was interested, Master Kadmaur." He replied without preamble.  And if Kadmaur was surprised that Lor-Riou knew who he was, he hid it well.  "I still don't see why we needed to meet way out here in the Void."  Surreptitiously, Lor-Riou expanded his Senses outward, focusing on the human in front of him.

...Feeling nothing, nothing at all.  Not even the presence of the Force around Kadmaur; it was as if he were standing within the center of a null-field, one of his own making if Lor-Riou missed his mark.  Incredible; he'd heard stories where certain powerful beings were able to perform such impossible feats but to see it for himself... His almost-smile widened into a sincere grin; it had been a long time since he'd been surprised by anything!

"Apologies, Lor-Riou Herin nil’K’aval-Ovarug.  I'm sure that you can appreciate the need for circumspection, especially given the situation." The human's face looked kindly, an emotion that never once touched his eyes.  Even though his long hair and beard were white, Lor-Riou noticed that there was not a gram of atrophy in his arms and chest, no perceived weakness of age--of anything--at all to be seen.

"Of course, Master Kadmaur.  But enough with the pleasantries; your transmission stated that you had information concerning my mother, something that I would be happy to trade my assistance for?  Know this: I will do nothing that I feel is detrimental to my...people."  He deliberately paused for emphasis.

Kadmaur spread his arms, palms up in a disarming gesture.  "You are correct.  Indeed, that is my offer and those are my terms."  Suddenly the human's eyes seemed to sparkle.  "And I guarantee you: not only will you help after I relate to you the details but you will do so eagerly."

For a third time, Lor-Riou found himself shocked.  What is it that this...human could ever possibly offer him concerning his mother?  Even while his face remained completely impassive, Lor-Riou could swear that Kadmaur's grin deepened, as if reading his very thoughts...

Once more his anger began to swell.  "Then tell me, and tell me quickly."  Lor-Riou's eyes flashed dangerously, blue-white lightening arcing between his fingers in a small yet potent display of power, Four of his five consciousnesses working in anticipation of battle.  "What do you know of my mother?"

As with before, if Kadmaur felt any concern he looked completely at ease.  "I know everything that there is to know about Saani Kaval ti'Ovarug."  He took a theatric step towards Lor-Riou.  "Including how to bring her back to life.  In fact, it is precisely the latter with which I require your assistance."  Suddenly Kadmaur's mask of amiability dropped, thoughts of avarice clearly painted across his face.  "That is your cost...but it is also your reward!"

Lor-Riou's face twitched involuntarily.  Again, how is it that this human knew of his deepest desire?!  Could...could it be true?  And after all this time...

All five of his consciousnesses focused on the possibility that Kadmaur could be lying to him.  But for what reason?  It was the human who had initiated contact, using eldritch means that even Lor-Riou did not understand.  He only knew that something of monumental import would be had by attending this meeting.  Mentally, Lor-Riou grinned.  More of his father's genetic inheritance: his ability to "see" portents in the Force.

He believed that Anzat called them the daen nosi, the so-called "lines of fate."

Except he never saw any lines; he never "saw" anything at all.  Only a sense of...presage, that to ignore it would be to his detriment.  Sometimes he wished that he could learn more about it but his Uncle Raru had been helpless to assist and he would sooner discuss military doctrine with Field Marshall Svante Rhul-Vinjaga than ask his father about it.

Besides, Raru was dead more than a century past, his great-great-great-great-great-great granddaughter Svante sharing only his name but none of his temperament.

All of which was a concern for another time.

All of this went through his mind in milliseconds, Lor-Riou having arrived at his answer during the interim.  "I accept." He said simply. 

Kadmaur smiled, nodding as if he hadn't expected any other response.  "Excellent.  Let us begin then."

There, deep within the nothingness that consisted of the Marcol Void, the two men worked upon the solution that would benefit them both, if for two diametrically opposite objectives.  They held no illusions: they were not allies, much less friends.  They happened to be working towards similar goals at present...goals that would ripple through time.

And for both, the entire galaxy would pay a price rent in blood, misery, and ruin.

          <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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
Knight Commander
*

Force Alignment: 982
Posts: 3717


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2021, 10:50:24 AM »

Now...

Walking briskly down the hallway of the sleek yet organic Temple of Balance, D'Aylanna kept her gaze affixed firmly ahead.  Anyone looking at her would notice nothing amiss, her projected aura mirrored by the serene mask upon her face.

What she felt was another thing entirely.

After learning (behind closed doors) what she'd been told by Kage Oyuna Chand'n as the newly inaugurated 7th Speaker, D'Aylanna knew that she--and only she--could avert potential disaster.  ...Kazic had been right to do as he did... She thought.

Another thought made her miss a step.  With only the slightest of pauses, D'Aylanna was able to correct, resuming her fluid gait without any further stumbles.  But her mind worked furiously.  Could...could Kazic have known that this exact event would happen, that the ramifications of the past would inextricably lead to these precise outcomes?  And if he did, was it because of something that he had done in the past?

Ironically--or perhaps not considering Kazic--D'Aylanna thought that she could find answers at the same destination that she was already heading towards.

Kazic's residential apartments.

Avoiding contact with any of the Vhal'Dan currently in residence, the diminutive Hapan Master quietly made her way through the adjoining halls, lifts, and a quick bounce on one of the magtrains, where she finally found herself staring at a familiar door.  One that had been home for her for many years before she passed her Trial of the Dragon Cave and her subsequent promotion from teidowan to Gray Knight.

That had been a lavish celebration, her youth remarked upon by all in attendance.  Well, all but two: her Father and Master Kazic Ovarug and a wide teidowan, one who was always among the weakest in the Force but the strongest in determination.  Her Shakal.  She still remembered feeling his gaze upon her, those strange hazel eyes both intense...and compassionate.

D'Aylanna gave her head a small shake.  She was stalling.  And she knew that it had everything to do with Kazic.

Had it only been a few weeks ago that her father had died?  It seemed like years... No one--not even her Zearic, her Shakal, had been in these apartments since Kazic passed.  Calmly and inconspicuously she waved her hand over the biometric lock, the surgically-implanted micronode ensuring that none gained entry save by Kazic's invitation.

In an almost vulgar display of resistance, the doors of the sequestered room finally opened under the enumeration of a subtly unique embedded system-wide algorithm, the screeching sound incredibly loud...at least in D'Aylanna's ears.  Of course, as a Hapan, she possessed much better than average hearing.  Still, even as grating as the noise was, she doubted that many would've heard anything and those that had would almost certainly ignore or explain away the curious sounds.

Regardless, she would not take any chances.

Quickly stepping in, she shut and sealed the doors behind her, the expected squeal blessedly absent.  Waiting a moment as she projected her Force Senses as far and as delicately outward as they could go, she was alert for anything.  For several long moments, D'Aylanna waited.  And waited.

Nothing.

Satisfied, she let out a breath that she hadn't realized that she'd been holding.  Looking across the apartments, the Hapan Master brought up the illumination, dispelling her race's night-blindness, even though she knew the apartment's layout as well as the back of her hand.  Still, D'Aylanna kept the lights low so as to be as clandestine as she could though she needn't have worried; all of the transparisteel windows had been polarized, further obscured by the security shades that covered the entire wall from floor to ceiling.

For a moment she did nothing, motionless except for the slow breathing in through her nose, the comforting subtle lavender aroma of Home filling her lungs as well as her heart.  Thoughts of years past, living and growing under Kazic's tutelage and parenting inundated her mind, tears unshed as busy weeks filled her days immediately following his death finally poured forth, large droplets running down her full, dark cheeks, wetting her blue lips, and falling from underneath her delicate chin.  She hadn't wanted her Shakal to see her crying, not because of any embarrassment but rather she hoped to spare him further suffering by seeing her weeping in pain.

After several moments of allowing herself to unashamedly yet quietly sob, she took several calming breaths, wiping her eyes and cheeks before regaining composure.  It was then that she smelled a different scent amongst the lavender, one that D'Aylanna was vaguely familiar with.

Stepping into the Atrium, she saw arranged within one of the southern wall's niches a small bundle of joss sticks of simple Sandalwood, a common enough fragrance but one that Kazic had oddly only ever purchased from Dantooine.  She had only seen him use them every few years--perhaps every five if she recalled--kneeling before them.  Genuinely inquisitive, she had asked afterwards.  He had said it was to honor “an old Jedi friend” on the anniversary of “becoming one with the Force.”  It was a not a phrase she heard Kazic say often, even among his remembrances of the many beings he had met over the centuries who he referred to as simply having died so many decades ago.  It had piqued her curiosity, but his promise to one day tell her about this Jedi he held in such reverence had unfortunately been overtaken by his illness and the necessity to discuss, while he still had the time…far graver matters.

D'Aylanna smiled a sardonic grin.  It seemed that "gave matters" were mostly what she attended to lately, courtesy of her status as the new 7th Speaker.  ...Would that you could help me now, Father... She lamented, her teeth gritting in an uncharacteristic show of despair.  Sudden anger welled up.  ...Damn you, Father...not now...not when I need you the most...

But she knew the truth behind her wrath, that she missed the venerable Anzat more than she could ever say in life.  And now that he was gone, she was left gazing at the remnants of what he'd left behind, the apartments empty despite being full of furniture leaving two things: this house...and her memories.

Wistfully, she thought of the man who had been more a father to her than even her own paternal parent, seeing through his eyes as he would often look through these same windows, looking across a vast beautiful expanse of indigenous tampasi forest.  Kazic had often told her that the trees reminded him of better times, of friends lost, and of love's truth.  Every time that he did so, he would stare longingly at one of the rare picts that he displayed on one of the walls.  Of the eight portraits of various women artfully arranged, it was the picture of a young, beautiful green-skinned woman, her dark facial tattoos indicative of her Mirialan heritage, to which his eyes gazed at whenever he spoke of trees.

With a soft touch as D'Aylanna slowly strode through the adjoining solarium, her delicate fingers gingerly brushed up against the objects located about the room.  In over a millennia of life Kazic had collected, all things considered, surprisingly few personal affects, though D’Aylanna had no doubt those which he did retain were of the utmost importance.  Every single item--those both incredible and innocuous--she considered, their import underscored by the singular fact that her adoptive father had held them dear, one and all.

But in particular were those that she now recognized from the retrospective of Kazic's dying confession.  Knowing exactly where to look after having lived within these apartments for years, D'Aylanna soon found one of those objects that she knew to be of utmost importance.  And the source of danger that she worried over.

Approaching one of the niches in the wall, she gently lifted a small but heavy wooden container with silver edging, it seemed to be a jewelry box of some sort from the look, perhaps belonging to one of his wives.  Opening it she found an odd collection of items.

Looking at it, no one else would feel the constricting fear that even now D'Aylanna found herself fighting off.  A part of her detachedly wondered how such innocent items could ever be so hazardous to elicit such terror, but D'Aylanna was a pragmatist above all else.  What lay inside was anything but "normal."

Her dark eyes considered them, scrutinizing every detail.  

A simple hair brush, still featuring long strands colored red and auburn, a rolled up simple leather belt, and a wooden totem of three women….

...Ari… She recalled, the items Kazic had traded with the foundling on Yavin 4 centuries ago, kept all this time.  She lifted the wooden totem, the carvings still sharp to this day kept locked away, yet as D’Aylanna scrutinized the female forms and the precise faces she felt a strange discomfort rise in her breast as though the figures were…by some troubling means…observing her just as closely…

Perturbed, she placed the totem back, eyes lingering on the hair brush beside it, the strands so fresh they might’ve been lost the day before…the brush itself could easily contain skin cells…it would be so easy to provide to a Forensics expert to analyze, what they might learn from even an aged fragment of Ari--

“No,” She said aloud to dispel the temptation.  Kazic had been firm in his instruction that Ari’s kind be avoided at all cost; he had fallen prey to the temptation of their power and the Vhal’Dan had suffered immeasurably for it.

Quickly closing the box she resolved immediately to have it and its contents destroyed, next opportunity she would personally take Fenris' Dirge as close to an isolated star as possible and launch the box and it’s contents out of the garbage disposal straight into the nuclear inferno.  Whatever sentimentality the objects held died with Kazic, their existence now a grave threat.

Grabbing the wooden box by its sides, D'Aylanna lifted the surprisingly heavy container, removing it from the far niche in the wall.  As she did so, a muted sound clicked, one that only those with superior hearing would discern.  ...Such as a Hapan's hearing... She mused.  Carefully, she placed the wooden box on the table behind her and turned her full attention back to the niche.

She saw nothing.

Still, she knew that she'd heard...something.  Using the Force, she slowly examined the area...only to come up empty again.  Blinking, D'Aylanna knew that there was something that she was missing.  Closing her eyes, she relied upon her mastery in the Force to fine-tune her search, creating a special synergy between her Force- and physical-senses.  Time seemed to slow, her fingertips hyperaware while the Force flowed through her.  After several minutes, she sensed more than felt a discrepancy in the niche's bottom.

Arching an eyebrow, D'Aylanna considered before gently pulling with the Force.  Something seemed to move infinitesimally, but nothing that she could see.  Taking a moment to think, she tapped a finger on her full lips, something that her Shakal would recognize as a pensive tic.  Then, changing tactics, D'Aylanna reversed polarity within the Force, Pushing instead of Pulling.

With another almost imperceptible click, a small door revealed itself, a moment ago indistinguishable from the surrounding surface.  A small if satisfied smile playing upon her lips, D'Aylanna lifted the door, uncovering the object that it had hid.

It was a holocron.

D'Aylanna blinked.  She was unaware that Kazic had kept a holocron, much less fabricated one.  Could he have... But she didn't bother finishing the question.

Determinedly, the Force flowed through her and into the device, activating it, a soft, pleasant light emanating from within.  As the corners turned, a holoprojection shot out from the cube, solidifying a few meters from her.

Eyes wide open, D'Aylanna stood as straight as she could.  In front of her was Kazic, not as the old Anzat that she remembered but as a man in his prime: tall, muscular, his topknot, hair, and goatee deep black instead of the white she was used to.

"Greetings, Jedi.  How may I be of service?" The baritone voice was completely absent of the aged gravel that she'd been comforted by as a teidowan.  Instead, the tone was strong, clear, and full of vigor.

For a second, she said nothing, the knowledge that this ersatz projection was merely a construct courtesy of the holocron at odds with the love and happiness that she felt seeing Kazic again.  But quickly logic won over emotion; all holocrons incorporated slivers of their makers, either by virtue of the Force, advanced AI, or both.  Still: for D'Aylanna, it was a pleasant fiction for her to pretend.

"I require information.  Vhal'Dan martial history." She said in precise, soft clipped tones, Kage Chand'n's words loud in her ears.  D'Aylanna wasn't naive enough to think that she'd been told all of the Order's history--Kazic's deathbed confessions notwithstanding, she was a realist as well as a pragmatist--but what Oyuna had confided to her had helped her draw a line from that to what Kazic had admitted.

"Very good." Holo-Kazic smiled.  "Please state which period or event you wish to peruse."  His hands were folded in front of him, a relaxing gesture intended to comfort.

But comfort was the last thing on D'Aylanna's mind.  "The First Gray Jedi War." She intoned, butterflies in her stomach.  She wasn't certain what she expected but she knew what she hoped...

For two seconds, the holoprojection remained motionless.  Abruptly, the holocron clicked, the projection disappearing altogether.  D'Aylanna remained silent, again anticipatory.  A second later when the projection resumed, she noticed that Kazic's red eyes seemed more...vibrant.  Lifelike.

"Confirm genetic authorization." Even Holo-Kazic's tone had changed, from light and genial to restrained.  Stomach turning, D'Aylanna placed her thumb upon the holocron.  As she scraped epithelial cells on the surface, the holocron seemed to glow white.

For long moments, nothing seemed to happen.  Then...

"Hello, Nu'rus.  I've been expecting you."

Nu'rus.  Kazic's term of endearment for his adoptive daughter.  D'Aylanna.  Relaxing slightly, she gave a small smile.  "I thought as much, Father."  

The holoprojection was no longer backlit by the holocron; rather the image seemed to solidify, as if Kazic himself was standing in the room.  D'Aylanna had studied several holocrons, even learning about how certain masters had incorporated their own egos within, but never one that displayed such...personalized interactions.  That being said, she was unsurprised: Kazic had always impressed her with his knowledge and power in the Force.

And, apparently, he'd once again anticipated events in her life.

"So Nu'rus, you wish to learn about the First Gray Jedi War?" Kazic asked, his arms folded across his broad chest.

"I do.  The real facts, not what was recorded and 'served' to the Order.  What really happened." Her dark eyes flashed, Oyuna's last words to her burned within her memory:

"Three times the Vhal'Dan Order have endured oblivion; three times did we survive.  But always at a cost...a brutal, horrible cost.  The Civil War and both Gray Jedi Wars.  But it is the First that has the least information surrounding it.  And I, as Kage, adjure you as Speaker to maintain it remains so."

But Oyuna did not know what D'Aylanna did, could not know...not after what Kazic had done, working so diligently to erase.  For D'Aylanna, in order to ensure that she honor both Kazic's and her Kage's commands, she needed to know the truth, unvarnished, stark, and complete.

Kazic nodded, understanding radiating from him.  "Then get comfortable, Nu'rus.  It is a long story and I have much to tell."

Once again, D'Aylanna listened of dread times and incidents, learning the buried truth of the volatile history amidst the glorious victories told of the Vhal'Dan and the depth and reality of the Order's mistakes.

<<<<<<<<<< >>>>>>>>>>
Familicide: The First Gray Jedi War
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 267
Posts: 1495



« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2021, 06:22:30 PM »

And so it begins!

We caught a moment of Lor-Riou at the Schisms Epilogue but this expands greatly.  It seems the only thing greater than his ambition, obsession and genius is his emotional instability, Raru clearly foresaw this with the balls...but perhaps underestimated just how deep his 'lust' goes - though i suspect said lust is not (or at least not completely) of the amorous kind given his parentage and the way it is termed his Father 'Curse'. And meeting with Kadmaur, well that never ends well for anyone, he is a figure with his own eldritch goals if it benefits Lor-Riou it is because that is a side effect of achieveing his true purpose.  Overall Lor-Riou reads already as fascinating potentially explosive personality, his control over his 'base nature'  is clearly tentative at the best of times can't wait to see how this moulds his actions and events around him.

And a great contrast in the two sections, Lor-Riou frenetic and impatient, D'Alyanna almost meditative.  Both take in all the details around them, but for very different reasons, Lor-Riou is using preternatural senses to find advantage and threat in a frantic way, D'Alyanna is introspective calm considered way, taking care to note each object she finds and spend time reflecting on its importance to her recently deceased father, and the traces lingering from his deathbed confession in Ari's hairbursh a potent link back to Schisms even as the narrative moves on - Kazic never forgot and nor does it seem did Lor-Riou, albeit what he knows of those times versus what actually happened will be interesting to see. 

Both have a story to tell, and we are lucky enough to hear get to hear it!
And absolutely a shout out to For Tyeth, a great contributor, highly skilled and generous with his time and abiltieis.   
Logged

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."

For Tyeth
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 1270
Posts: 2556


I Survive through the Force.


« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2021, 06:42:21 AM »

Before I begin, I'd like to express my gratitude to the following:
To For Tyeth: For always, selflessly going above and beyond with his incredible visual renderings.  No matter the request, FT has ALWAYS delivered, exceeding my expectations, indeed my hopes, with every single ask.
And absolutely a shout out to For Tyeth, a great contributor, highly skilled and generous with his time and abiltieis.   

Thanks for the kind words but I wouldn't have produced these renderings if both you and LSG hadn't come up with such great material as inspiration. We also communicated about each character (and in LSG's case the Star Destroyer) so I had inside knowledge to work with and integrate. I was just so happy you both liked the results!
I have to say the title plate for "Familicide" really stretched my skills and improved me as a designer/modeller - here is an early version...

And believe it or not I then made this picture into a 3D object adding the gilt frame and text (similar to a resin cast diorama) which I then composited on top of the hallway background image.

I would have learnt none of these techniques had it not been for the stories.
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TheDutchman
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2021, 12:10:28 PM »

Thanks for the kind words but I wouldn't have produced these renderings if both you and LSG hadn't come up with such great material as inspiration. We also communicated about each character (and in LSG's case the Star Destroyer) so I had inside knowledge to work with and integrate. I was just so happy you both liked the results!
I have to say the title plate for "Familicide" really stretched my skills and improved me as a designer/modeller - here is an early version...

And believe it or not I then made this picture into a 3D object adding the gilt frame and text (similar to a resin cast diorama) which I then composited on top of the hallway background image.

I would have learnt none of these techniques had it not been for the stories.
I had the privilege of seeing this version and was (then as now  Wink) blown away by the details!

But when FT came back with (what ended up being) the finished product, I was beyond impressed!  I certainly would not be able to do the incredible work that he's constantly and able to do^^

But that brings up a wonderful opportunity (for me, at the very least): more future collaborations featuring narrative characters with FT's visual artistry  Grin

Point for awesomeness  Smiley
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Cataphract Triarch 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 #5 on: May 21, 2021, 02:09:35 PM »

Special thanks to LSG for the art: not only for providing the work but also the incredible idea!
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Chapter 1: Patronage & Portents, part I

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Vhal’Dan Congress
Baransu no Kage: Ryshhk K’rrmerii (Kage Emeritus), Wookie male
  Council of Balance:
  Arbiter: Q'eieha Jeseladai (Kage-elect), Arkanian Offshoot/Sephi hybrid female
  1st Speaker: Jaa Daivyk, Human-Epicanthix hybrid male
  2nd Speaker: Zala Våj Xondall, Cathar female
  3rd Speaker: Tanau Kodo-Hazs, Human male
  4th Speaker: Iaced Iragant, Verpine
  5th Speaker: Airex Hasheva, Human female
  6th Speaker: Anayese Vondall, Shifalen female
  7th Speaker: Nahn Sa'arem, Twi'Lek male
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[...Which brings me to my final act as your Kage: it is my honor to present to you your newly elected Kage, Master Gray Q'eieha Jeseladai!] Ryshhk's roar was drowned out by the surrounding cacophony of the crowd's applause, only further incited as the tall, willowy woman stood from the Arbiter's Seat to ascend the Kage's Dais.  Stopping in front of the venerable Wookie, Q'eieha bowed her head, a small smile playing upon her lips.  [Good luck, Kage.  I hope that you have more successes than defeats.] He spoke the ritual words while placing a genial hand upon the much smaller woman's shoulder.  Staring into her ice-blue eyes, Ryshhk saw the look of sudden surprise in Q'eieha's face.  Even he had to admit that he couldn't blame her; he'd never been so familiar.

If anyone noticed the break in decorum they said nothing, the clapping continuing well after Ryshhk had withdrawn, taking a seat in the front row of the auditorium of the Hall of Balance.  It wasn't until Q'eieha had taken her seat and raised a delicate, stark white hand that the applause subsided.  Ryshhk noticed the looks of triumph upon most of the faces surrounding him.  It just served as a reminder that his suspicions were valid.

Taking a moment to collect herself, Q'eieha stood, scanning the entire crowd.  It represented all living Vhal'Dan Jedi currently on Kewda, over 1,700.  A large crowd to be sure, but smaller than what Galactic birth rates had established as an average.  With everything that the Order had endured, one would've thought that the number represented a glaring success; Ryshhk certainly did.  But then again, he had been there through it all...

For Q'eieha, on the other hand, it was a bitter pill to swallow.  However, she was ever the politician, keeping her emotions to herself.  When she spoke, her tone was genial and relaxed.

"My fellow Gray...I am humbled by your endorsement and my election to Kage."  Her careful voice reflected the sincere gratitude of the gathered Jedi, if for a different reason than most would have guessed.  "While I will make the customary promises in the same bent as my predecessors, I feel that I would be remiss unless I did not first address a true hero of the Vhal'Dan, one whom has worked virtually ceaselessly and tirelessly for over 23 tenures in office, a record as unparalleled as it is extraordinary."  She paused theatrically, the soft metallic sounds from the multiple earrings lining her pointed ears the only noise in the Hall.  "Kage Ryshhk K’rrmerii has taken the Vhal'Dan from the brink of destruction--from the Lus'Phor Holocaust and the Great Galtean Diaspora through the Time of the Troubles--to the flourishing Order that it is today.  So it is that in the 230 years hence, we are now as the Maker intended: a people of peace, of serenity, of harmony."

Every eye was focused on the slender woman whom they'd elected as Kage, her short hair emphasizing her relative youth...that is, relative to the now former Kage: Ryshhk's fur had lost all of its brown and most of its black coloring, replaced by the gray and white of premature aging.  At over 300 years old, the venerable Wookie seemed a contradiction: his shoulders sagged with the weight of responsibility yet he was still as strong as he had been in his youth.  While part of it could be attributed to age, it was mostly the result of the fallout from the Lus'Phor Holocaust as well as the nine years that constituted the Troubles where harrowing ailments, sudden illnesses, and lowered birthrates had contributed to the decline in the Order's numbers.

However, under Ryshhk's leadership, the Vhal'Dan had been able to course-correct, the Sickness that had plagued the Order finally abating, the Vhal'Dan able to finally recover from the horrible symptoms brought on by the Vergence.  Yes, it had been a group effort, one prevalent throughout the Order.  But during the interim of two centuries, the names of Jorol Qui-Xot, D'arial Qui-Amhan, and hundreds of others just as responsible had been relegated to historical footnotes...whereas Ryshhk K’rrmerii still stood amongst them.

A stark reminder of what the Vhal'Dan had been.

Had anyone bothered to scrutinize the old Wookie Master, they would've seen a look of sorrow upon his face, a general sense of lassitude brought upon by a loss so acute, so...damning.  And that was the problem, at least in Ryshhk's estimation.

The Vhal'Dan had lost part of itself.

During the two centuries leading from the Lus'Phor Holocaust, the Order had been slowly yet inextricably heading towards an unnamed apathy demonstrating pacifistic qualities.  Part of the fault lay with those Gray that had lived through the Civil War: they were so determined to avoid another calamity so monumentally destructive that the Order had grossly overcorrected.  Oh, it wasn't immediately apparent nor was it overt but over the next 20 decades, the Vhal'Dan had transformed, their Jedi largely adopting scholarly duties, their martial prowess not considered a prime component of their training, their role as "Principled Defenders" no longer their prime attribute.

Again, there hadn't been just one event or one thing that Ryshhk could've pointed to as the turning point, no landmark incident to identify as the catalyst, but the Wookie Master had first noticed that martial arts, lightsaber-, and combat-training had been relegated behind academic studies and research beginning a mere few years after the Troubles. 

Introspective, he considered: the Civil War had been exceedingly costly, all of the Vhal'Dan's Blademasters had been lost, the Order's tacticians had been systematically decimated, and their military industrial complex had been almost completely devastated, to say nothing of their now lost once-Home planet of Galtea.  Yes, there had been many battle-hardened veterans, but instead of passing on their knowledge and--more importantly--their experience, their temperance, they hid behind sterile scholarly accounts and academic pursuits.

Of course, the fact that every single Cataphract had sided with Anson hadn't helped either.

Unfortunately, during his 23 terms as Kage, Ryshhk had never tried to reinstitute the Cataphract Battalion, always finding himself  too busy with the countless responsibilities of his Office, or deciding that there wasn't a suitable candidate for the role of Triarch, or that there was no need, no occasion that merited the re-emergence of the Cataphracts.  His excuses had been legion... But now Ryshhk admitted, it was because he too had been afraid of what such a decidedly militaristic group within the Vhal'Dan would represent...

...And what might again occur.

Mentally shaking his head, Ryshhk finally focused upon Q'eieha's announcements.  Giving a small, inaudible snort, he closed his eyes in capitulation.  ...Dammit... He sighed.  Unfortunately, he already guessed where the new Kage was heading with this pronouncement.

"...And it is to you all gathered here now that I announce that Master Gray Ryshhk K’rrmerii be recognized as 'Kage Emeritus' for the duration of his life!" Q'eieha's voice rang out like a clarion bell, the gathered crowd once again roaring in raised voices, cheering, and applause. 

Thought to Ryshhk's ears, it echoed with the hollow clang of insincerity and overwhelming patronization.  Looking at the Arkanian's face, Ryshhk ignored what he saw and instead focused upon his keen sense of smell, the incongruousness of the Kage's visage and the raw metallic scent that not only centered around Q'eieha but indeed flooded the entire room.  Knowing precisely what the smell meant, his face remained impassive.  He'd had centuries of experience in hiding his feelings and this was no different.

Still, he stood, towering over everyone within the Hall.  He had a part to play and he would fulfill his role...but he didn't have to like it.  Or, for that matter, accept what was expected of him.  It was times like this in which he was thankful that most sentients had difficulty deducing Wookie facial idiosyncrasies.

So, surrounded by a generation of Vhal'Dan that had known only prosperous times, peace, and goodwill, the Wookie Master--Kage Emeritus, he corrected himself wryly--stared at each face in the crowd, forlorn for every single one of them, the adversity that awaited their future.  It was not a Force Vision; Ryshhk had had no prescient sight (although he still experienced them with ever-increasing frequency).  No, this was merely the knowledge of one whom had lived a long and eventful life.

And that was the worst of it: in all of his time as Kage, his many successes punctuated by the breakneck progress of his beloved Order had led to...this.

The crowd forgotten, Ryshhk gave a small shake of his head, the irony threatening to overwhelm him: in his desire to save the Vhal'Dan, he might have instead set in motion its imminent destruction. 

Slowly squaring his shoulders, the venerable Wookie determined that he would do everything in his power to help Q'eieha lead the Order where it needed to go: not from one extreme to the other but rather towards moderation, an amalgamation of the two ideologies, one that possessed the best of both worlds, a true Vhal'Dan Union that would be secure, safe from the horrors that the galaxy had in abundance as well as protecting others from those same horrors.

His mood turned sardonic.  ...The best of both worlds... He mused.  What Anson and Kazic should have done all those decades ago.  What he should've done... Would that he had had the intestinal fortitude in his youth that he possessed now. 

Wistful, he guffawed quietly, chuckling an ironic laugh in remembrance of an axiom that Kazic had told him once, an old adage from the Anzat's own master and later Kage, Stryka Annix: "Youth is wasted upon the young."  Truer words had never been spoken.

But it helped to remind him of his duty, as well as a promise that he'd made almost three centuries ago to his Uncle Yshhrk when he'd reached the Second Age of Ascension.  Even now he could feel the weight of  his Uncle's massive paw, so strong yet gentle as Yshhrk had placed the Sapling of his Lineage Tree in Ryshhk's palms.  [Swear to always do right, no matter the hardship.  So long as you draw breath, promise to work towards what you know to be true.  And finally to always help those whom need assistance for a bundle of sticks can be stronger than a single branch.  Do this and you shall always find Shade under the Trees, Water within the Garden, and Peace from the Maker.]

His Uncle had been as wise as he was powerful.  Ryshhk knew what he must do, even if it meant enduring the cloying patience--almost condescension to be honest--of this new generation.  Eyes upon the new Kage, the venerable Wookie once again assumed his mantle of responsibility, this time for an individual instead of an entire Order.

Well...Q'eieha had been a good Arbiter and Ryshhk held out hope that she would be a good Kage.  With his help, he prayed that it would be so.  ...Maker send me an angel... He pleaded.  And though Ryshhk didn't know it, he would soon have his prayers answered, not in the form of one angel, but many.

He would later damn himself a fool for not specifying--good or evil--what kind of angel should be sent.

     <<<<< >>>>>
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Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2021, 02:27:56 PM »

Special thanks to For Tyeth for his awesome rendering of Kazic and Eriobe!
************************************************************


Chapter 1: Patronage & Portents, part II

Amidst the greens and browns of a myriad leaves, branches, and foliage, an organic set of apartments had been incorporated seamlessly with the surrounding environment in a genuine symbiosis between the forest and the patrons whose appreciation prompted their collective stay.

Or at least that was one reason for those who visited...

Within the airy comfort of the open rooms, the pleasant arboreal scents of the surrounding dalloralla trees reminded the two occupants of times both past and present, their shared fondness of this place one of the many treasured memories eliciting their current nostalgia.

That and the incredible sight of the sun setting through the thick forest leaves, the interplay of light and shadow momentarily forgotten by the two as they engaged in more...intimate diversions.  Green hued fingers scratched down a muscular back, the resultant welts rising on the pale gray skin, only to quickly disappear courtesy of enhanced hereditary healing.  Far from wounding, the now-healed scratches served to further incite.  Together, their unity transcended the physical, their emotional bond also amplified by their connection together in the Force.  So intent upon one another that it was well after the sun had completely set and the large moon filled the sky that they noticed anything besides one another.  Or perhaps, more specifically, they noticed more about one another.

Staring intently at each other's eyes--Kazic's red and Eriobe's green--they luxuriated in the time that they had together, their choice of a vacation upon Belkadan more than a mere whim.

They had been together for more than 20 years, each subsequent year deepening their relationship.  To celebrate, Kazic had surprised his Mirialan wife by bringing her back to the very same planet that they'd originally met, when they had worked together for months before admitting what they both knew to be true: it was here on Belkadan, among the enormous dalloralla trees, where Kazic had proclaimed his love for Eriobe and she for him, the beginnings of a profound, intimate marriage.

One in which had only grown stronger, the two of them ever closer.  In all their time together they had been one another's constant companion, virtually inseparable as they travelled the galaxy, both of them sharing a love of history, archaeology, and a powerful connection in the Force.

It was something that only Forceusers could truly feel and appreciate, where one's feelings (if they so allowed) could be laid bare for their partner to see.  For Kazic, it was as natural to him as breathing; for Eriobe...less so.  But that was more a consequence of her previous relationships rather than anything to do with the Anzat.  In fact, with him she had been more open than any other.  Eriobe appreciated Kazic's patient understanding; he respected her privacy.

As for himself, Kazic had allowed her to see himself absent his usual defenses.  So it was that Eriobe knew of the Anzat's past wives, yet never once did she feel the ghost of any of them within their marriage, testament to her husband's fidelity and love. 

Especially on this night, their anniversary.

Slowly, Kazic's strong fingers massaged the tender green skin of Eriobe's foot, both Anzat and Mirilian comfortably naked in the warm night, the moonlight bathing them in a soft, ethereal light.  Caressing her skin with his hands as well as his eyes, Kazic's gaze appreciatively took in the sight of his wife's languishing form, her long legs, slender arms, and small neck accentuating the femininity of her beauty.  Turning her head towards him, her lidded dark green eyes heavy from her exertions, Eriobe's shoulder-length dark hair obscured the facial tattoos that he found so enticing. 

He smiled, continuing to rub her foot, toes, and calf, contentment embracing him.  Once again, he thought of how lucky he was, that throughout the trials in his long life, he would find another companion who loved him as he did her.  His smile faltered, his hands pausing in their work, the darkness of his past creeping into the forefront of his mind. 

Maker knew that he was unworthy...

As his thoughts often did, they turned within himself, inward and downward.  Although he'd come to accept Saani's demise, even after all this time, the loss of his brother Anson and his home, Galtea, still weighed heavily upon his shoulders.  He'd known it then, was ever more certain of it now: he had been a bad Kage and a worse brother.  Kazic had already admonished himself concerning his actions against Anson, knowing what he should have done, but he'd rarely thought on the ramifications of his time as the Vhal'Dan's Kage.  He had never wanted the Office, never expected it...but once elected, he'd tried to do everything that he could to save those that counted on him, trusted him, needed him.  And that he could not forsake; to divest himself of his responsibilities was anathema to him...

Yet his pride had cost him everything: his home, his people, his family...Saani, Tsar, Corvus, Kasah, Anson.

...Ari.

It was still yet an open wound, the look of her disappointment...of betrayal stabbing through his heart like a lightsaber as her eyes and voice condemned him.  The worst of it was: she had been right, if for different reasons.

Which of course did nothing to alleviate the hurt.

...Stop this... A suspiciously familiar-sounding voice castigated him from the depths of his mind.  Involuntarily, a small smile of remembrance spread upon Kazic's gray lips, the dark clouds parting.  ...The Maker loves us one and all, forgives us our trespasses... The serene voice came from a tranquil face, the eyes belonging to a man much, much older despite his comparatively youthful visage. 

Kazic's eyes closed, the memory of yesteryear as clear as if it were yesterday, the owner of the voice possessing an aura of tranquility, a consonance between thought and action.  A man of infinite calm, even in the face of Kazic's dissident rage.  ...Soryu, I don't believe in the Maker anymore... The anguish raw from a confession that had until that very moment had remained unspoken. 

Even then, the human's face had not changed, his sharp eyes squinting in amusement with his reply.  ...Perhaps not, Kazic...but He believes in you...

So stunned by the conviction in the human's voice was Kazic that he had forgotten all of his rebuttals, the argument on his lips suddenly gone...like tears in the rain. 

But his friend had always remained constant.  The Anzat had thought him simple and naive at the time...but he'd been wrong.  So, so very wrong.

Even after all this time, the bittersweet emotions of happiness and loss warred across Kazic's face in the moonlight, his eyes glowing like the night-creature of myth.  Typically it was enough for a single glance to elicit fear in those that looked upon his face when he was like this.

But not for one who did not fear him.

"...What ails you so, Love?" Eriobe's lethargic voice broke through his rumination, surprising him, her soft tone concerned.

"My mistakes...my many mistakes, Love..." He answered, still pensive.

"I hope that doesn't include me." She said playfully.  Shifting in the bed, she sat up beside Kazic, laying a head upon his shoulder, her hands touching first his legs, then his back, and finally his neck.  But it was her caress in the Force that comforted him the most.

"Never, Love." Kazic replied immediately, meaning it.  Staring deeply into Eriobe's eyes, their heads drew together, both kissing one another passionately, their hands running over the other's body, all thoughts of the past once again forgotten in the passion of the moment.  When she grabbed his hand in hers, green fingers interlaced with light gray, the strong grip mirroring the intensity of their lovemaking.  Biting her full lip, Eriobe shuddered as she grabbed Kazic closer to her, both bodily as well as in the Force.

This time when they finally took notice of their surroundings, Belkadan's moon was approaching its zenith in the starry sky.  Both Kazic and Eriobe lay comfortably tangled amidst one another, each satisfyingly spent.

"Happy Anniversary, Love." Eriobe's sleepy smile turned the corners of her green lips while her breathing returned to normal.  Curling her toes as she stretched, she settled into her place atop the bed and comfortably within Kazic's arms.

"Happy Anniversa--" His sudden intake of breath between clenched teeth alarmed Eriobe, her lethargy almost immediately forgotten.

From her back, she stared intently at her husband.  "What is it, Love?" She asked with unfeigned concern.

After a few seconds, Kazic's blank stare broke, his red eyes looking into Eriobe's, his voice terse but otherwise calm.  "Sorry, Love." He ran a sobering hand across his face.  "It's the daen nosi.  They're back."

Concern and confusion gave way to patience and anticipation as Eriobe rose to one elbow.  "Oh, Love..." She calmly stroked Kazic's crown, the long, black hair of his topknot freed of his leather statim.  "Are you alright?"

Nodding, he looked down at his wife's face.  "Yes."  The daen nosi, or "Lines of Fate" as the Anzat understood them, was similar to Force Prescience, only often times much, much more cryptic.

But not this time.

"I'm fine.  But we must hurry to Kewda." All traces of sleep were gone from Kazic, his tone brooking no argument.  Not that Eriobe had any intention of doing so; she was closely acquainted with her husband's ability to see and interpret the daen nosi.  That and the consequences of ignoring them.

"What's going to happen?" She asked, controlled anxiety never once mirrored in her voice.

Kazic didn't immediately answer; instead, his eyes stared off seemingly into the distance for a moment.  But when he focused them once again upon her, Eriobe noticed a tightness in her husband's face that had not been there before.  "I don't know exactly, only that I must return to Kewda..."

His eyes stared straight into hers, intense and disturbed.  "...And that if I do not then something truly terrible will happen."

     <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2021, 02:55:44 PM »



Chapter 1: Patronage & Portents, part III

Ryshhk entered the atrium of his apartments, the door barely having irised open large enough to admit his enormous frame, the shoulder of his burgundy robes catching a bit on the metal.  With a conspicuous rip, his tunics tore as he continued forward, not once glancing at the new hole, his long legs taking him into the solarium where his Lineage Tree grew, the thick branches now incorporated into the floor, walls, and ceiling.  It was a beautiful union juxtaposing the organics of the Tree with the fabricated structure of the surrounding rooms, truly a marvel of Wookie engineering and an awesome sight to behold.

One that Ryshhk completely ignored it, his attention solely on his desperate attempts to calm himself...and failing completely.  Opening his jaws wide, his deep-thoated roar reverberated throughout the apartments, literally shaking entire rooms.  After what felt like hours he quieted, his massive shoulders rising and falling as each heated breath was expelled from his lungs.  Closing his eyes, he fought to find his center, to assume the tranquility that he usually wore perpetually and was as much himself as his own fur.

At least that's what he tried to do.

Ryshhk had learned long ago to divest himself of the worst of his anger; it clouded judgment in the best of times and consumed all rational thought, leading to deadly mistakes in the worst.  However, even his patience had limits.

He glanced down, noticing for the first time the tear in his shoulder.  With renewed fury, he grabbed at the sleeve of his robe and, with one swift motion, ripped the entire sleeve free.  He was about to ball up and throw the tattered cloth when his logical mind caught up to his emotions.  Gold eyes blinking, his arms dropped to his sides, the torn sleeve falling from his huge numb paw.

...Maker grant me serenity... He prayed, his fingers tenderly stroking one of the branches of his Lineage Tree.  Between the two, Ryshhk finally seemed to divest himself of his rage.  Contrite, he strode through his apartments towards his Meditation Vestibule.  Once there, he removed his robe, outer-, and inner-tunics, folding them and laying them out on one of the tables on the side of the room.

Slowly he walked towards the center of the Vestibule where, in the center of the floor, several branches had worked their way through the flooring and walls, twisting inwards and creating a circle large enough for him to sit in.  Taking to his knees, his massive chest slowly inhaling and exhaling, Ryshhk cleared his mind, embracing the Force as he did so.

Finally peace found him, his conscious mind operating on multiple levels, viewing Past, Present, and Future.  Shifting his focus, he sought to concentrate mainly upon his Past, namely the most recent events transpiring within the Kage's Office just before Ryshhk's outburst.

He'd been in his old offices, the new Kage sitting behind the desk that he'd (until now) called his own for more than two centuries.  Gathered within the room was the rest of the Congressional members: the Arbiter and six of the seven Speakers (the position of 7th Speaker now open for election).  There they had spoken concerning the mundanities of the Order's logistical needs, from foodstuffs to imports to research expeditions.  Finally, after the tedium had been addressed, Ryshhk was able to get a word in edgewise.

[Excuse me, Kage.  I have a matter of some importance to discuss, one that concerns the entirety of the Vhal'Dan.  If I could trouble you for but a moment or two of your time, I feel that these concerns could be addressed forthwith.] His direct tone was concise but patient and while he had eyes only for the Kage, he kept his other senses--especially his nose--alert and attuned to the other Jedi as well as his surroundings.

Q'eieha's gaze did not once waver but Ryshhk noticed that the new Arbiter Jaa Daivyk shared a quick glance with his Kage, the Speakers uncomfortably silent.  That was what he had seen; what he had smelled...well, that was the most telling of all.

Beneath the collective malaise of discomfort was the sharp, burning almost metallic smell that he'd noticed within the Hall of Balance, almost caustic to his nose.  One and all, each Jedi--from the Speakers to the Arbiter and even the Kage--smelled...patronizing.

The newly installed Arbiter stepped towards Ryshhk.  As a human-Epicanthix hybrid, Jaa was taller than most, but compared the the Wookie he was absolutely dwarfed, at least in stature if not exactly presence.  "Master K’rrmerii...while our Kage appreciates your ideas, I think that you'll find that she wishes to pursue her own itinerary."  He put a hand upon Ryshhk's shoulder with the intent of leading him from the room, as if he were some whelpling who had yet to achieve the First Age of Ascension.  Jaa stalled in his step, Ryshhk immovable; the Arbiter might have tried to move the Lap'Idus Mountains for all of the effect that he had on the former Kage.

[Remove your hand, Arbiter.  Now.] Ryshhk had not so much as glanced down at the hybrid, his golden eyes locked upon Q'eieha.  [Kage, does he speak for you?]  Jaa slowly withdrew completely forgotten, at least by the Wookie.

Q'eieha's lips had pursed in consideration.  "You wish to do this now?  Very well." Her voice had been contemplative, quiet.  "Master K’rrmerii, you represent the last of a dying breed, a Vhal'Dan that should be extinct but for you.  Just as the Republic enters into a Golden Age, so too have we of the Order.  You are the past; we are the future."  The tall, pale white woman then stood, an imperious look transforming her face.  "We need not relics like you; after all, it was your kind that endangered the Vhal'Dan during the Civil War, a calamity brought on by the Usurper Anson D'Aklon and the failed Kage Kazic Ovarug." She had taken a step towards the gathered Speakers and Arbiter, self-importance radiating from them all.  "I concede that it was you that helped save our Order...but that was a time of war and constant struggle.  We are in times of peace...and have been for decades!"

Ryshhk had stood, arms crossed over his broad chest, incredulous at what he'd heard.  It was even worse than he'd supposed...

Carefully approaching him, Q'eieha had then placed a delicate white hand upon his furry, bulky forearm.  When her milky eyes stared up demurely from beneath a white brow, her soft voice sounded consoling.  "Ryshhk, we...I appreciate your sacrifices.  Please...you have earned your respite.  Take this time and allow yourself the retirement that you deserve."

He hadn't believed his ears, much less the rank smell of condescension that had almost choked him.  He'd thought ...so that's how it was: I am to be treated as a half-wit whose claws have fallen out, no longer able to climb the Wroshyr trees and forced to be carried on the palanquins reserved for the ancient...and the deficient...

He'd never felt so dishonored in his life.

Without any further words, he'd turned saying and expressing nothing, his anger a growing torment fighting to be unleashed, a raging river leading from the Past to deliver him to Now.

Another deep breath followed by a slow exhale helped Ryshhk regain his calm, his sense of Self passing from beyond Now to idle inbetween minutes, not quite the Present nor precisely the Future.  It was here (if such a term could be used in this context) that Ryshhk waded, his conscious mind shunted behind so as to focus more intently upon the Oneness that he so desperately wished to achieve.  With all of his being, he opened himself fully, his anger a thing only remembered.

Time held no meaning, an esoteric concept to be left behind while the flows of the Force took that which was Ryshhk where It may, Visions past, present, and future simultaneously inundating him.

He saw fighting--always fighting!--against the Sith of the Brotherhood, Black Rikard, Sarll Båz Rhadde, and Sulen Reu Lai leading the vanguard...only for his focus to shift; he saw fighting--always fighting!--against Anson's Cataphracts against Kazic's Black-armored Wraiths in familiar environs...Hephaestus Base(?), he thought...only for his focus to shift;  he saw fighting--always fighting!--against white armored Legions, an imposing, terrifying creature clad in black biomechanical armor killing Vhal'Dan by the dozens...

...Too much, too far, too painful... He thought, "pulling" himself back, almost to the Now, wher--

With a violent convulsion, Ryshhk found himself suddenly back within his body, momentarily stunned as his conscious mind attempted to assimilate the Vision his Force Precognition had pulled from the flow of Time.  ...How...in the...? But he knew that he would not find the answers to these questions here or now...

But he did know where and when he had to go.

Exploding in motion, Ryshhk grabbed his belt and attached saberstaff in one hand and his burgundy undertunics in the other, knocking his robe to the floor as he barely cleared the door.  Not even bothering to finish dressing, he ran from his apartments, heading towards a Future in which he must act...

...Or risk catastrophe of monumental proportions.

     <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
Posts: 3717


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2021, 03:18:18 PM »



Chapter 1: Patronage & Portents, part IV

Casually, she move amongst the Vhal'Dan, no one the wiser of the danger that she represented, much less her objective.  Passing a group of Civil Defense troopers, their white and red riot armor fairly light, lacking a full complement of weaponry, the woman smiled disarmingly.  They nodded, one fool even raising a hand in salutation!

...the Magister was right: they are all deserving of our contempt...death seems almost too good for them... She thought, fighting to keep the sneer from her lips.  ...I should kill them all...

But she knew that she would not; she was Votarious, the duty to her Magister was her life.

Still, she anticipated that she would be able to let loose on at least some of these pfassks, perhaps she might even find one that might dispel the boredom of such a simple task for her mission.  Regardless, she held no doubts of her assured success.

After all, these pretender Vhal'Dan were nothing more than stodgy academics and weak politicians.

Within the enormous dome of the Directorate of Force Artifact Research--even their department names sounded lame and feeble!--the woman entered through a series of mechanical doors, leading to a small, almost innocuous hall, dead-ending in a surveillance box, manned by one distracted short-haired koawan and flanked by a pair of troopers.  Affixing a bored expression upon her face, the woman ambled up to the desk, the koawan's attention clearly on the Holofeed instead of the security cameras.

"Hello.  Transfer of item Usk-fiver, three, three, Forn-Nern, six, niner, eight from Repository to Research&Development.  Order of the new Kage." She handed the koawan a flimsi, her bona fides appearing alongside a holoprojection of her face.  Stifling a yawn, she smoothed her dark robes.

Scanning the flimsi, the koawan glanced at the monitor, her attention still mostly on the Holofeed as she gave the enumerated information the barest of scrutiny.  "Understood."  After a double-take, the koawan's brow furled.  "Oh, wait; this item is flagged.  You'll have to go in escorted.  It'll be a moment."  With that, she went back to the Holofeed.

Looking suitably disinterested, the woman passed the time rehearsing the various working offensives against multiple opponents--in this case, four--while simultaneously planning multiple points of egress, arriving at no less than three optimal solutions.  One of them even allowed her to cause maximum damage despite maintaining a level of acceptable concealment against the inevitable Civil Defense search nets.

After only a few minutes, the far wall opened, revealing a thick, heavy blastdoor.  A handsome koawan stepped out, wearing the white-and-red armor of the Civil Defense, except that he carried a lightsaber in addition to the twin blasters strapped to his hips.  Without preamble he calmly addressed the woman.  "This way, please."  Leading onward, he kept constant vigil of his surroundings, including--no, especially--the woman.

...Interesting... Perhaps she would face someone worthy of her prowess.  This was a man who had full situational awareness.  If only he wasn't one of the False Order's Jedi, she thought he could become a valuable addition for the true Vhal'Dan...

Pity.

Taking them between several towering, high-tech racked trestles housing all manner of containers, the koawan finally stopped along one of the long isles, indistinguishable from the others.  Suddenly three other koawans appeared as if out of nowhere, flanking the woman.  While her face remained expressionless, she felt her adrenal responses begin to efficiently pump hormones throughout her body.  The woman Sensed no danger from the four koawans; she surmised that this simply must be a directive that she had been unaware of.  Mentally she smiled, anticipation mixing with prospective gratification.  Intrigued, she wondered what would come next.

Taking his own flimsi from one of the several pockets in his armor, he slid it into the comparment's dataport, nodding his head.  Somewhat disappointed, the woman did likewise in a tangent dataport, a soft click sounding as one set of locks disengaged.  Part of the container opened, the edges only now appearing as a small, opaque receptacle silently slid forward.  She was about to move to open the lid when the koawan spoke.

"Ommin.  Amanoa." He said, tone crisp and expectant.

The woman's mind swam with possibilities.  Obviously it was some kind of Challenge Code.  She Sensed the three koawans at her back and flanks tense...but not the one in front of her.  Instead his eyes narrowed slightly, hand hovering towards the lightsaber at his waist.

"Ommin.  Amanoa." He repeated, more forcefully.

A wide innocent smile spread across the woman's face, her hands folded in front of her.  "Oh, frell it."

Faster than the eye could see, two red lightsabers snapped to life, each blade impaling the koawans flanking her.  In the same motion, the woman kicked out behind her, the heel of her boot taking the koawan right below the ceramic armored plate, stunning more than damaging.  Swinging her lightsabers up in a deadly arc, she bisected the two impaled koawans, stabbing one lightsaber behind, one in front.  The koawan behind her was caught off guard as the point of her blade went between his eyes, his face melting around the red plasma as it pierced through his skull. 

However, a yellow blade intercepted her strike from the koawan in front of her, further impressing the woman.  Knowing that each second that she lost would bring her closer to defeat, she leapt into a full offensive, intent on overwhelming the koawan.  As she thought, he was good, very good indeed.

He lasted 18 seconds longer than she had given him credit for.

Closing down one of her lightsabers, she went over to the extended receptacle.  Taking a small disc from her belt, she placed it on the side of the container, knowing that using her lightsaber was a fool's errand; it was a ceramic/cortosis alloy specifically manufactured to defeat a lightsaber's cut, preventing intrusion.  Pressing the disc, she quickly withdrew her hand, silently counting to three.

A small report, an arc of white-blue electricity, and a hiss of smoke was the only evidence that something had occurred.  Hurriedly, she flipped open the now unlocked lid and, reaching a hand into the container, withdrew a black orb.  With her other hand, she grabbed the koawan guard's flimsi.  Careful not to accidentally activate the device, she was about to place it into a stasis box when she Sensed more than heard an alarm.  Checking her mental chronometer, she felt irritated: the Civil Defense fools were quicker than she'd anticipated.

No matter.

Using an enhanced technique which incorporated Buried Presence, Force Speed, and DarkSight, the woman was able to swiftly navigate through the complex, avoiding large groups of troopers while scything through individual or paired defenders.  Before she knew it, she was at the blast door exit leading to the small surveillance room that she'd entered through.  Amused, she considered how to play the next few minutes.  Finally deciding on the most violent choice, she readied herself and slid the flimsi over the datanode, opening the blastdoor.

Like a phantom, she burst forth into the room just behind a potent Force Push that bowled everyone over.  She immediately cut down one of the Civil Defense guards, meeting only a token resistance from the other trooper and the distracted koawan.  With contemptible ease, she disarmed the trooper, stabbing her through the heart while overpowering the koawan, her blue lightsaber doing little to keep the woman's red blade from dispatching her.

Almost scornfully, the woman battered down the koawan's defenses, her Soresu sorely lacking against the woman's Djem So.  There was really no doubt, at least in the woman's mind, of the outcome.

Ignoring the still-warm bodies littering the hallway, the woman made her way through the halls, taking advantage of the chaos.  Ahead, she saw bright sunlight bathing the large, windowed lobby of the building, people hurrying towards the exit.  Smiling triumphantly, she pivoted, heading towards the entry foyer.

Senses alert, she abruptly stopped, her eyes widening in amazement.  ...How...? She wondered, feeling the tendrils of fear for the first time.  Striding towards her with an open undertunic, the teal twin blades of his saberstaff igniting, was the largest Wookie that she'd ever seen.  ...Ryshhk K’rrmerii ... She thought, naming him.

Full blown terror erupted in her stomach; she knew that she was now in trouble.  But worse than the fear that she felt for Ryshhk was the loyalty that she felt for her Magister.  Gritting her teeth, she brought both of her red lightsabers to bear.  She would honor her Magister, that or die trying.

Knowing the best defense was a strong offense, she attacked.

     <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
Posts: 3717


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2021, 03:19:16 PM »



Chapter 1: Patronage & Portents, part V

Seeing the woman from his Vision, Ryshhk made certain that everyone was safe before advancing upon her, igniting his saberstaff only after he knew that no one else was in danger.  And none too soon; the woman in black took a flash-step towards him, savagely attacking with twin red blades.  He received a surprise of his own: this woman's saberstrikes were hitting much harder than expected of a human, even with the Force factored in.

Consciously, he mentally released the governors upon his real strength.  Ryshhk was always careful not to hurt those around him; Wookie physiology was amongst the most sturdy in the galaxy.  He'd always worried that he could do substantial harm to those around him, making him mindful of limiting his power.

But not now.

Roaring, he turned the red blades away from him, his saberstaff working with scalpel-like efficiency.  Incredibly, the woman followed up her riposte with another offensive, redoubling her efforts.  Spinning his teal saberstaff, Ryshhk's tight orbits created an impenetrable wall of plasma around him.  Try as she might, not one of the woman's attacks got through, though that did nothing to keep her from trying.

With experience born from centuries of combat, Ryshhk was able to deflect all strikes towards him, adjusting his own saberwork when he thought that he'd noticed something amiss.  The woman seemed intent upon protecting something hidden on her belt obscured by her robe.  Pushing his arms to leverage his much greater strength and weight, the woman sank to one knee has she ineffectually fought to keep her own red blades from her neck.  Twisting to the side, her movements inadvertently exposed a small, almost innocuous box fastened to her utility belt.

With lightning fast reflexes--surprising for one so large--Ryshhk's paw clamped down upon the box, claws digging in deep to secure it in his grip while he quickly pulled.  As the box tore free, half of the woman's belt fell to the floor, the other half attached by the leather hitches of her trousers.  Ryshhk then took advantage of her momentary shock, twisting his saberstaff in an unexpected downward cut that took the woman's arm off above the elbow, his upward riposte taking her other hand from just below the wrist, both red lightsabers extinguishing as they fell from now useless limbs.  A powerful, crushing knee strike to the woman's solar plexus finished her off, any fight left within her disappearing as quickly as the breath forced from her lungs.

Stunned, the woman hit the floor hard, the black, shiny surface reflecting the graceful organic stanchions above as well as her dazed eyes.  Lungs rattling, Ryshhk knew that at least one of the woman's lungs had collapsed, possibly both of them.  Closing down his saberstaff, he approached her, laying his large paws upon her.  As he had countless time in the past, he directed potent flows of Force Healing into the woman's broken body, his abilities amongst the strongest the Vhal'Dan had ever produced.

"...Wha...what are...are you doing...?" The woman wheezed, speaking between ragged breaths.  She suddenly coughed, spitting up blood even as her breathing seemed to normalize, at least somewhat.

[Healing you.  Then: turning you over to Civil Defense.  They will ascertain the meaning of this attack.] He said distractedly.  To Ryshhk's senses, there was just so much damage...

"...I...I guess...the rumors are...are true." Of all things, she smiled.  "...You...you are...all...all so...weak..." Again she spat.  With a loud crunch, the woman bit down hard on her back molar.  "'Fides non moriatur.'" She whispered.

Whether by the blessings of the Maker, the will of the Force, or pure luck, Ryshhk sprang as far away from the woman as he could, instinctively projecting a powerful Force Shield around him.  A split second later, a miniature baradium explosive device implanted in the woman's jaw detonated, the concussive explosion pulverizing the entire lobby of the building, immolating most of the windowed facade and the surrounding Grounds.

When the First Responders arrived on scene, the entire entrance structure of the Directorate of Force Artifact Research had fallen in upon itself, countless fires had ignited, and the explosion had wounded dozens yet, thankfully, there were no deaths.

However Ryshhk K’rrmerii, Kage Emeritus, was found insensate and unresponsive, suffering from a deep, unwakable coma.
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 267
Posts: 1495



« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2021, 09:51:25 PM »

Starting things with a Bang!.  Wow.

I really feel for Ryshhk, he worked so damn hard to rebuild the Vhal'Dan yet sill he is painfully aware he didn't do enough and the society moved with a momentum of its won to a more scholarly vision of Jedi life than he probably could've stopped.  Is he too harsh on himself, well the answer is Yes and No which makes his situation so real, he knows more should've have been done but can't be certain he could've, yet regrets it all the same...
One can't blame the Vhal'dan turning from their more martial arts (arguably most of the masters with that disposition were killed or on Ansons side anyway) but they have forgotten the terrors that lurk in the galaxy, Ryshhk never forgot.

Now his reward for his efforts is just insulting, he is the embarrassing anachronistic old uncle to the new leadership, a relic to be offered passing applause but whose ideas are no longer needed...yet ironically he seems in his visions to still see more clearly than they do.

The direct parallel here with Kazic is great - the failed Kage, guilty of so much is finding comfort and solace in the memory of Soryu and arms of Eriobe, while Ryshhk who picked dup the pieces is left in a coma after countering an unknown assailant, whose abilities are impressive as the Vhal'Dan's seem to be lax. 

The Shadow of Schisms is already clouding over this tale, but how could it not, the defining moments of the Vhal'Dan are what make them what they are and become.

Also some great little reflections for both wookie and Anzat, the call out to Yshrrk and Soryu, men of another age that these two equally seasoned characters still look to for guidance long after they've passed was very poignant.

Now what does the new Kage do with the old so suddenly and violently downed, and a device the object of a very concerted theft attempt 'collapsing in on itself' which initself is sinister...either way I doubt Kazic will get a warm welcome...
Logged

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
Knight Commander
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Force Alignment: 982
Posts: 3717


Avatar courtesy of For Tyeth


« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2021, 07:50:47 AM »



Chapter 2: The Only Refuge From Purgatory Is Hell, part I

...Not again...! She thought, the last of the charcoal-white engulfing her completely losing all hint of its hue, darkness blacker than black inundating her, until she felt--no, knew--that she was no longer alone.  Her anger, frustration, and panic all fought for dominance within her emotions as her perpetual nightmare cycled through its beginning.  Always she hoped that she would be freed from the curse of her fright; always she lamented the failure as the same dream--NOT a dream!--formed from the depths of her subconscious mind, leading to...this.

Furiously, she fought her ghostly opponent, his daemonic red eyes devoid of sentience, the hungry gaze of the Gaki, an Anzati vampire-daemon of myth, horrifying to behold, a primal lust transforming his entire face into a terror that would reduce most beings into sobbing, incoherent wrecks, the visceral fear of their own dread overwhelming their "fight or flight" responses.

But not her.

She was made of sterner stuff than that.  Confident in her superior abilities--she was amongst the galaxy's foremost blademasters!--to overcome her attacker, she fought on despite a nagging doubt buried deep in the back of her mind.  ...For good reason; I lost...! Came a small voice, one that she dismissed like the whine of a mosquito, slapping it away almost absently.

With her dual lightsabers she pressed her advantage, her blades casting violet and golden shadows as they battered against the deceptively bright blue lightsaber, each blade a flurry of motion.  She should've easily won... Instead, she knew that she was fighting as hard as she could but to no avail, the cost of failure more than just her life.

To fail was to lose everything that she loved in this life, namely her son.

...No...that's not right...I...I had--have--already given him over...for his own protection...
Again that incessant whisper bothered her, a little stronger than before.

But not strong enough to break the shackles of her nightmare.

Suddenly, the Gaki did...something, a potent Force attack--a Force Thorn the voice whispered--that tore her mental defenses to shreds, not only halting her attack but effectively taking her completely out of the fight.  Her lightsabers dropped from numb hands, forgotten as she grasped her head in the vain attempt to somehow assuage the agony of the attack.  All logical thought gone, she instinctively grabbed at the Force, creating...something, a potent Force attack--Kinetite the voice whispered, this time louder--and then released it, not thinking about the consequences.

As a result of the Force Thorn tearing through her mind, the oppressive Telepathic Suppression of her opponent, and the proximity of the two of them, the Kinetite detonated mere centimeters from her instead of the several meters that she'd intended.  She felt as if she were suddenly riding a wave of durasteel, the unforgiving surface upon which she had broken several of her bones, rupturing a few organs as well.  With a sickening crunch, she heard/felt/sensed her spine shatter as she collided with one of the railings, only finally coming to a rest in a jumbled heap of rent flesh, snapped bones, and clouded agony.

Her world was now only those things: nausea, terror, and pain.  And when she thought that it couldn't get any worse...

The face of the Gaki came into view, his horrible visage mere centimeters from her face.  A wet, viscous sound assaulted her hearing as she tried to suppress the revulsion and fear that she felt upon seeing the twin proboscis swim into her line of sight, each one exploring, searching out that which it lived for: the Soup.  Slowly, the slippery appendages found purchase upon her cheeks, slithering into each of her nostrils.  Rough hands grabbed at her lekku and neck, the Gaki's face consuming her entire view.

...No...wait...that is not...that's not right...NO...! The whisper finally turned to a roar as her nightmare reached its middle, the visceral terror spiking as she felt the bone of her skull behind her eyes fracture, the greedy proboscis sinking into the cracks to burrow into the brain matter underneath.  Feeling herself falling away, knowing with absolutely certainty--and paradoxically disbelieving with equal conviction--that she was finished, breathing her last/living a fate worse than death, a waking death lasting an eternity...falling...falling...

She found herself surrounded by the familiar: an alien, completely white backdrop of nothingness that she knew nothing about, feeling the intimate assurance of having been here time and time and time and time again, knowing the dichotomy of her reality to be some kind of construct, one in which she lived an ersatz life of bland fear and an apathetic passion for an impotent attempt to escape.

...He did this to you...HIM...! The voice said, losing all of its soft hesitancy.  She knew that what came next would do so in a roaring shout.

She ran without moving her legs, swam without stroking her arms, planned without using her mind.  Always was it the same: the endless alien whiteness of panicked nothing.

Well, that and the events with the Gaki leading up to...here, to now.

As she always did, she would continue to search for a way out, some egress that would allow her to escape this hell.  But she knew that that was impossible, the creeping certitude finally inundating her as panic finally won over, enveloping her entire being.

...He did this to you...HIM...!

The only thing louder than the voice inside her head was the banshee's wail that ripped forth from her mouth, her lungs emptied of all air, her throat horse and raw from the scream--her scream--that echoed around her...only to slowly, incrementally lose its volume.  Simultaneously, the white of her surroundings finally did change: the white began to dim, eventually turning to gray, which in turn became charcoal.

...Not again...! She thought, the charcoal-white engulfing her completely losing all hint of its hue, darkness blacker than black inundating her, until she felt--no, knew--that she was no longer alone.  Her anger, frustration, and panic all fought for dominance within her emotions as her perpetual nightmare cycled through its beginning.  Always she hoped that she would be freed from the curse of her fright; always she lamented the failure as the same dream--NOT a dream!--formed from the depths of her subconscious mind, leading to...this.

Furiously, she fought her ghostly opponent, his daemonic red eyes devoid of sentience, the hungry gaze of the Gaki, an Anzati vampire-daemon of myth, horrifying to behold, a primal lust transforming his entire face into a terror that would reduce most beings into sobbing, incoherent wrecks, the visceral fear of their own dread overwhelming their "fight or flight" responses.

But not her.

She was made of sterner stuff tha--

...Mother...

This was new and anything new was better.

...Mother...

Like an itch that couldn't be reached, she searched around her in vain.  ...Who is that...?! She asked, knowing that no answer would be forthcoming.  She was wrong.

...Mother...It's me...

Panicked shock and, dare she say (?!), hope bloomed from within her.  "...please help me..." If she was surprised before, she found herself completely dumbfounded now: why was her voice so...quiet?  So...low?  So...weak?  It was as if she hadn't spoken in a long time...

...Mother...You must wake...you must open your eyes...

The dream that was not a dream, she remembered.  Or tried to; half of her refused to listen to the voice, the half that now took control of her voice.  "...can't...not...real..." But even that half must have recognized the veracity of what her subconscious knew to be true.

...Mother...You can, you WILL...now...WAKE UP...!

For the first time in over two hundred thirty years, Saani K'aval ti'Ovarug opened her eyes...and stared deep into the eyes of the angel that had rescued her, the deep purple color of his irises so familiar.  ...just like mine...

Pain beyond anything that she'd ever encountered ripped through her, threatening to drown her, to shred her entirely.  But even such agony could be endured...must be endured...all in order to finally arrive at her destination...

Quiet tears ran rivulets down her sallow blue cheeks as she cried--again for the first time in as long--while comprehending the realization that she was no longer enslaved, no longer insane, no longer doomed.  Gently, she felt as if she were floating upon pillows of the softest down, a relieved smile cracking her face in half.

She was free!

FREE!

     <<<<< >>>>>

Slowly the last vestiges of sleep--actual, biological sleep--released Saani from its grip, the remembered torment of her unending time imprisoned in the Mind Trap weeks ago still sending shivers down her misshapen spine.  As soon as she could, she grabbed at the glass of liquid next to her medcouch, her claw-like fingers stabbing at the stim-tabs and hormone supplements, finally clutching them in her hand.

Carefully, she placed the capsules in her mouth, slowly swallowing the liquid reagents together with the pills, the surgical injectors grafted under her skin taking care of the rest.  With agonizing slowness, the fire in her nerves finally doused, the unbearable burning of her body beginning to achieve a kind of equilibrium.

Or at least a kind of static numbness.

Saani smirked, the clouds in her head slowly yet surely dissipating, giving her access to most of her mental faculties, the agony still overshadowing much of her conscious thinking.

Who knew that rebirth would be so excruciating?

Still, considering where she'd been, she would take the pain, endure it until all of the galaxy's stars went nova or burned out... Anything compared to the constant hell of her time in the Mind Trap.

She only lamented the fact that her body was now a wreck, and that despite Lor-Riou's best efforts from his vast knowledge--both metaphysical and Force--Saani now found herself in constant pain, her body now twisted and feeble.  Once again, she merely needed to shift her frame of reference: this life full of pain OR the Mind Trap fabrication that had ensnared her...

Besides, the pain helped her to focus, gaving her a target, or rather it acted as a compass in which she could direct all of her hatred, all of her vengeance towards.  Even now as she thought of a name--his name!--Saani allowed herself to feel a kind of satisfaction in knowing that he would very soon know the kind of pain that he'd damned her to.

Pain that she would see visited unto him a thousandfold.

She thought of the Gaki during her time of imprisonment.  Instead of terrorizing her, she would turn the tables and take from him that which he held most dear.  Then, when he lay broken, body, mind, and spirit, she still would not kill him.  No...if her time in the Mind Trap had taught her nothing else, it was that an endless Purgatory was worse than an hour of Hell.

Well...his Hell would be never-ending.

Smiling a rictus grin through her agony, Saani thought of the one who had condemned her, his name a curse upon her blue lips, damning him for an eternity.

Kazic Ovarug.

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Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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 #12 on: May 30, 2021, 07:54:20 AM »



Chapter 2: The Only Refuge From Purgatory Is Hell, part II

"How long will the coma last?" Kazic's tone betrayed none of the anger and sorrow that he felt seeing his friend battered and unconscious, his enormous chest rising and falling slowly.  The fact that the Wookie was in one of Kewd'Uldahv's premier hospitals did little to assuage the Anzat's worries, especially in light of precisely how Ryshhk happened to end up here.

Eriobe's soft fingers stroked his back, reassuring or at the very least attempting to comfort her husband.  Kazic appreciated her efforts, especially as she knew what a good friend Ryshhk was to him.

"Sorry, sir, I cannot say, although there is a 56.9% probability of the patient waking.  Observe the strong cortical function and synapse response." The medical droid's mechanical voice was programmed to be sympathetic and understanding.  To Kazic's ears, it was as disingenuous as the Arbiter that he'd spoken to when he'd first arrived.  Actually that wasn't precisely true; he knew that the medical droid was programmed to care for the patients in their charge.

The Arbiter hadn't given a damn as to whether or not the Wookie lived or died.

With Ryshhk's massive paw in his pale gray hands, Kazic said a silent prayer to the Maker, wishing his friend was awake.  Instead, he lay in one of the largest medcouches available in a clinical suite that was as advanced as any that had been found on Galtea.  To Kazic's relief, there were several dedicated medical droids per patient, giving each one the best chances for recovery.

Not for the first time, he wished that he could've called upon the aid of a Mak'Tor Singer.  In Kazic's estimation, there were no better healers in the galaxy.  Unfortunately, the relationship between the Vhal'Dan--Kazic's faction at least--and the Mak'Tor had become another casualty of the Civil War.  Not that the Mak'Tor Kage Li'I'Mack was to blame; even if she hadn't loved Anson, Kazic had done the Mak'Tor a disservice when he'd sequestered the Order following the events of the Lus'Phor Holocaust.  After a few years, a strained alliance had become a non-existent one.  

Kazic shook his head trying to dispel the memories of yet another one of his failures.  As much as he wished there was a Singer available, there was not...only the assorted medical droids doing a repetitive job.  At least they did them well.

Still, the entire affair felt...antiseptic and impersonal to the Anzat.  To wit: despite the entire floor having several patients, it was as quiet as the grave, the medical droids silent but for those instances when they interacted with people...which was infrequent at the best of times.  Once again, he was thankful for Eriobe's comforting presence but it did serve to underscore a larger issue...

Kazic smirked, the irony as delicious as it was infuriating.

Ever since he and Eriobe had made planetfall, they (well, more specifically he) had been treated with the barest of civility and attentiveness.  He hadn't been told about his friend's "accident" (that's what the Arbiter called it...Kazic's proboscis twitched at the thought of draining the pedantic prig dry, if not for his Oath), and wasn't given any detailed information concerning Ryshhk's whereabouts.   When he'd finally located him, not one person offered to help him.

Introspective, Kazic guessed that he shouldn't have been surprised; after all, the last time that he'd been on Kewda was almost 14 years ago.  In fact, he had missed his usual 5-10 year "update" when he would normally purge the Vhal'Dan database of precise details concerning the Civil War, especially where Ari and her People were concerned.  Normally, he never would have missed such as appointment.

It was just that...well, he was happy.

Truth to tell, after his self-induced isolation trying to help Saani, Eriobe had been a balm upon his broken soul.  Kazic had never expected to fall in love again after the loss of his K'anpa...but it had happened nevertheless.  He could not--would not--fault himself for savoring his time with his new wife, especially after almost 200 years of trying...no, of failing to help Saani.

However, the ramifications of his action had consequences, and those had now come due, and in a way that he had never considered.  The words of his old Master Stryka Annix were suddenly loud in his head: "If you want to make the Maker laugh, tell Him about your plans."  It was almost enough to make him smile momentarily.  Almost.

"Thank you, doctor." Kazic's voice was distracted, possibilities racing through his mind.  Who was responsible for the bombing?  What motives could the bomber have had?  And why now?  The Vhal'Dan had finally found peace, a goal that Ryshhk--indeed all of the Jedi of the Order--had worked unabated towards for decades...

Once again, the undulating, thick coils of the daen nosi swept at the periphery of his vision, reminding him of the urgency of his task.

As if reading his mind, Eriobe softly grabbed his elbow, a tender look in her eyes as she glanced up at her husband.  "Is there anything that I can do, Love?"  She was always his rock, a deep, full well of water in the Tatooine desert.

But Kazic shook his head.  "No, Love.  Actually, yes.  Come with me to the Hall of Balance.  I need to speak to the new Kage." He corrected himself, trying to discern the exact nature of the daen nosi.  They'd drawn him here...but for what reason?  Unfortunately, they were as enigmatic as the details of the attack on the Directorate building.

Had he known, it might've saved Kazic much of his later suffering.

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"I'm sorry, Master Ofer-rung, but as I've already mentioned the Kage isn't in and won't be for some time.  Perhaps best to try later this week.  Or next." The maenowan did not so much as glance his way, most of his attention on the holoprojection spreadsheet that he was busy working on with one hand while trying to hide something else under the desk with his other.  "I can take a message instead, if you like." He said by rote, not meaning any of it.  Or caring, most likely.

With his arms crossed in front of his chest, Kazic loomed over the human who clearly felt as if the desk between them somehow gave him protection from the large Anzat and the only slightly shorter (but still much taller than him) Mirialan staring daggers from an otherwise impassive face half hidden beneath her hood.  

He shared a brief glance with his wife, her slight nod only conspicuous to him.  Giving a surreptitious wink, he suppressed a smile.  Eriobe knew what to do next.

"It's Ovarug." Kazic corrected, his tone sounding as if the last of his patience was spent.  "And that's no problem; I'll just wait for the Kage in her Office.  Don't worry, I know the way."  He was already half-way to the doors leading into the Kage's Offices before the maenowan could react.  But when he did, he stood so quickly from his seat that his partially hidden, half-eaten sweetbread hit the edge of the desk, exploding all over his work station, the datanode, as well as his official robes of office.

The scene was almost comical: from the height disparity between the two men (the gatekeeper/aid was only about 1.6 meters whereas Kazic was over 1.9) to the ignored mutterings of said gatekeeper/aid while he tried to insinuate himself between the Kage's door and an indomitable Anzat bearing down upon him, resulting in the shorter man backpeddling until he accidentally tripped over a large planter containing some chora trees.  Without breaking stride, Kazic waved his hand over the sensor located on the left side of the hallway, his deeply embedded exploit still active within the Vhal'Dan database allowing him exclusive carte blanche access.  The look on the gatekeeper/aid's face was nothing short of bemused shock.

Right behind her husband, Eriobe played her part to perfection, briefly helping the maenowan back to his feet while offering up quick sounds of a Benediction, her hand hiding the small smile upon her lips.  However, when she joined Kazic within the large, opulent Kage's Office, she looked just as intimidating as the Anzat beside her.  It was a trick the two had perfected from their first years together.

The Mirialan had been with Kazic for almost 22 years, and during that time they'd travelled to countless planets, moons, and stars.  However, she'd only been to Kewda a couple of times, each visit brief and always hurried and never once anywhere near the Kage's Office in Kewd'Ulhadv.  Looking around, she had to admit that the rooms were an impressive display of power, meant to elicit feelings of awe and respect.

One look at Kazic's face only reflected his determination to help his friend, the splendor of the setting wasted upon him.

"Hello, Q'eieha." The Anzat's voice mirrored his face: neutral and patient.  After giving the tall Epicanthix a weighted glance, he all but ignored the Arbiter standing beside him.

"It's 'Kage' now, Master Ovarug." Her tone was not quite supercilious...but neither was it humble.  She certainly sounded nothing like the great Kage that Arkady had been.  Still, Kazic had lived long enough not to be put off by the self-importance of others.

"Of course, Kage." He stated in the same, even tone.  "What is being done for Master K’rrmerii, and whom is investigating the attack?  Do you have any leads?"  Eriobe thought she detected a hint of disdain but with Kazic it was hard to tell.  Oh, he had shown respect due to the Office, always well within the letter of what was required, but she knew that, at least in this instance, her husband held esteem for the position rather than the person.

"I've determined that this was the work of a lone terrorist trying to abscond with intel of our cache of Force Artifacts." She stated matter-of-factly, slight irritation tinging her voice.  "The terrorist was unsuccessful and nothing was taken, although the Directorate was breached, the Civil Defense response prevented her from stealing anything.  The Council and I are in agreement with this." She nodded to the Arbiter.  Her last sounded slightly...petulant, at least to Eriobe's hearing.  Whatever it was that Kazic heard he either ignored or did not care.

"How can you be so certain, Kage?  I know that much of the holovid footage was either scrambled if not outright erased.  And there are too many deaths to just push the investigation aside."

"That is the purview of the Kage..." The Arbiter announced, adding, "...and the Council.  As you are neither, Ovarug, such decisions are not your concern."  Eriobe did not appreciate his condescending tone and thought that the slender man would look even funnier with half of his teeth missing.  However, she knew that if her Love could tolerate this kriffing fedejik, so too could she.

Saying nothing, the Kage affixed a patient look of barely concealed tolerance as she glanced briefly from Kazic to Eriobe and back again.  "Not that I need explain myself to anyone, but I would've thought that you of all people would recognize a Kage's prerogative when it came to discussing such matters, especially in front of those...outside the Order."  Her pause was deliberate, her "subtle" intimation anything but.  "But I forget to whom I'm speaking to... Tell me, Master Ovarug, do you know what history has recorded about you, of your...quality?" Her icy blue eyes had a glint about them that had nothing to do with Q'eieha's pale features.

The Arbiter smiled widely, his open contempt for Kazic apparent while the Arkanian continued.  "'The Failed Kage, Kazic Ovarug.'  Or so we're taught within the Temple of Balance." Her light tone was almost lilting.

Not rising to the bait, the Anzat spoke in a moderated tone.  "Kage, I'm telling you that this attack is the beginning of something larger.  More sinister."

Q'eieha arched an eyebrow, sharing a theatrical look with the Arbiter.  "Oh?  And how do you know this?"

"The daen nosi." He said immediately.  "As they have in the past, they are warning me about future calamities."

The Kage smiled behind her upheld hand, visible for all to see.  "And we all know how well that served you--and the Vhal'Dan--for you to entrust these so-called 'Lines of Fate' so implicitly."  The Arbiter audibly scoffed.

Eriobe's hand went towards her belt where she kept her lightsaber, casually hooking a thumb as she fingered the hilt.  If they were on Mirial, she would've offered The Challenge, backhanding the Arkanian with an open hand to show her the most disrespect possible allowable by The Edicts.  But as they weren't, she instead stared at the Arbiter while she addressed Q'eieha.  "I would watch what you say, Kage.  There is a difference between 'fact' and 'truth.'" Her green eyes were piercing, almost truculent.

Kazic's lips had the ghost of a smile upon them, but only for a second.  "Q'eieha, please, I don't care if you denigrate me until the sun goes nova but do not ignore this because of some personal problem with me.  I'm telling--begging--you: the Vhal'Dan are in mortal danger!" Even though Kazic remained motionless, his voice was passionate.  It hurt Eriobe's ears to hear her husband have to...to debase himself like so, especially in front of those so...unworthy.

But she could tell after a single look at the Arkanian's face that Kazic's words had not persuaded.

Tilting her head back and looking down her nose, Q'eieha's voice turned imperious.  "I shall have my people look into it.  Thank you, Master Ovarug.  That will be all." There was no mistaking the dismissal.

The Anzat stared straight at the Kage, his face unreadable.  "You are making a grave mistake, Q'eieha." He said quietly.  Without any further word, he turned on his heel and exited the Offices,

Eriobe stood staring at each, giving both the Kage and Arbiter each a pointed look while tracing a Malediction in the air at them before leaving without a backwards glance.

     <<<<< >>>>>
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
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« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2021, 07:55:24 AM »



Chapter 2: The Only Refuge From Purgatory Is Hell, part III

Within their rented rooms, Eriobe replayed the events of the day while gently tracing her green finger along Kazic's deep chest, her Love finally asleep.  Good, it had only taken her an hour...that, and one of her Graces to help him achieve a Fourth level Contemplation.

Thankfully so too had she, if only by virtue of helping him first.  But it did allow her a certain clarity, especially given current events.  And people.

...That Q'eieha is one cold tralk... She wondered if the Kage used an icicle to "relax" herself, for all of the warmth that she'd displayed.  Absently murmuring an Imprecation against that white Arkanian quim, she was gladdened by the fact that she was no Vhal'Dan to be ordered about by her.  But as she thought upon the White Bitch, she felt the floodgate of her memories spill forth from the walls that she'd erected, now set free by the Contemplation.

Eriobe was not (nor had ever been) a member of the Vhal'Dan...but she was a Jedi.  Or at least, she used to be.  In fact, when Kazic had found her on Belkadan, she was actually in exile from the Jedi Order, only recently having been expelled from the Coruscant Temple two years prior.  Her crime?

She had dared love another Jedi Knight.

Verro Hamne had been a darkly handsome Jedi, confident, smart, and attentive, he and Eriobe stealing kisses in the darkened corners of the Temple even as padawans.  Through the years as they grew ever closer, it became more than stolen kisses until they finally consummated their relationship a year before their Knighting.  Eriobe had thought herself in love, that Verro would actually agree to marry her, his soft, intimate words promising that and more.

What a fool she'd been.

Like all Jedi, they knew that attachments were forbidden, marriage strictly proscribed as per the Order's mandates, but--convinced as she was by Verro's sweet nothings--Eriobe felt certain that they could keep their relationship a secret.  Of course, the Masters had suspected from almost the beginning, biding their time in order to collect irrefutable evidence. 

Needless to say, they got it.

It had been her own Master, Khoan Thoffe, that had caught them in bed, his intransigent, tranquil fury washing over the two recently Knighted Jedi.  He immediately threatened censure, demanding their contrite repentance and acceptance of harsh punishment.  Eriobe had been defiant, confident that she and her husband-to-be could repudiate such archaic strictures and that their relationship was stronger than mere doctrine.

Verro had capitulated almost immediately.

Viewing her (now former) lover with open disgust, she could not believe her ears when he ashamedly fell to his knees, begging Master Thoffe's--and the Order's--forgiveness, announcing that he would accept any penance the Jedi saw fit.  She and Verro had been dragged in front of the Council, objects of the Order's condemnation.  It was there and then that she'd denounced the Jedi and their hypocritical dogmatic views, tracing a Malediction encompassing all of them.  At the same time, the Council rebuked Eriobe as an apostate, expelling and exiling her from Coruscant.

And there amongst those embittered, old, useless masters who dared to chastise her was one whom she had learned to hate: Verro.  Even as she considered granting him an Exculpation, it was Verro himself who called out names like "whore" or "harpy" while standing shoulder to shoulder with Master Thoffe who had not just several hours before labeled him a reprobate forever anathema to the Order.

The only thing that made it worse was Grand Master Yoda's so-called offer of "mercy:" he told her that if she could demonstrate a year of "Jedi-like" behavior, then she might be allowed re-entry into the Order not as a Knight, but instead once again a padawan.  Enraged by what she saw as the old Jedi's falsity, she told the shriveled farbot what she thought of him and his precious Order.

Revolted, Eriobe had thrown off her robes, kneeling one last time within the Temple.  From her belt, she drew her lightsaber, holding it with sincere reverence.  And there, in front of everyone to see, she destroyed the weapon that had been her life and, in a display of utter dissent, she shattered the Kyber crystal using the Force.  That done, she traced an intricate Certitude to complete the ritual.  Standing, she walked away from the ruined detritus that had up until that moment been her entire existence. 

With that she left for Belkadan, eager to be away from Coruscant even if it was to be her home in exile.

Not realizing that she was gritting her teeth, she relaxed her jaw as the specters of her past began to loosen their grip upon her.  It was then that she noticed the pain in her right hand, now closed in a tight fist.  Tentatively, she unclenched her hand, unsurprised to she dark green blood oozing from the cuts in her palm where she'd buried her fingernails.  Kazic must have heard the sudden intake of air between her teeth because he stirred from his rest.

"...Love...are you alright?" Kazic's voice still held onto some of the lethargy of sleep but Eriobe knew that he could become fully cognizant at a moment's notice.

"Yes, Love." She soothed, tracing a Placidity while inundating her husband with calming flows of the Force.  Thankfully it worked, Kazic's breathing resuming its slow, deep cadence.  Directing Healing flows into the cuts, they slowly stopped bleeding and began to knit together.  She may not have her husband's natural Healing factor, nor a Mak'Tor Singer's facility, but she had a Force Talent for such...

Deciding to leave her worries for the morrow, Eriobe cuddled deep into Kazic's welcoming arms where, even asleep, he wrapped them around her protectively.  As she did every night, she took those worries that had perturbed her during the day and deliberately "burned" them away, their torment severely lessened.

As she came to the last one, the same one that she had lived with for over 22 years, the lie that she had kept--had to keep!--in perpetuity from Kazic, she swore--pleaded!--to his Maker (like she did every night) that she would be the best wife to her husband if...

...If he never found out the lie that would tear them apart.

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Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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: 982
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« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2021, 07:56:15 AM »



Chapter 2: The Only Refuge From Purgatory Is Hell, part IV

As the turbolift doors opened, every person within the large compartment turned to face the lone occupant, each head covered with a dark hood that obscured everything but their eyes.  Slowly exiting, Lor-Riou strode forth towards the center of the gathered crowd, the sea of beings parting before him until he stood in the center.  Like him, they all wore differing iterations of his dark robes, indicative of their allegiance to him.  And while he may not be able to see their faces, he could see every set of eyes that looked upon him.

Lor-Riou slowly scanned the crowd, each time his eyes connected to another's, the bond that they had was strengthened, their relationship more intimate than most sentients would ever experience.  Which was as it should be; after all, he was their Father.  He could feel each and everyone of their emotions, from their love and loyalty to their trepidation and longing, just as they could feel his.

At this particular moment, he was furious...and contemplative.

He'd received a communique from his agents that Aumiyat had somehow failed, that the relic had somehow been lost, and that the pretenders had been alerted to their activities.  Surrounded as he was by his Votarious, he knew that they could feel his anger, that his frustrations would be theirs as well, and together they would become stronger.  The whole more--much more--than the sum of its parts.  As with times before, it helped to calm him.  Somewhat.

"Children.  I've received some bad news: Aumiyat was unsuccessful in her task.  Furthermore, she lost the holocron."  Mutters of disbelief echoed throughout the doonium plating of the chamber; there had been set backs to be sure, but never once had one of the Votarious failed.  Lor-Riou held up a hand, forestalling further discussion.  "However, even if her mission was a failure, she did not allow herself to be further dishonored by surrendering."  His violet eyes gleamed with unfeigned pride.  "She embraced seppuku, denying our enemy vital information."

Sounds of admiration resounded from the crowd, many of the hooded faces nodding.  Seppuku.  Its origins dated back to the Seigniory Discord on Anzat Prime, one of the few legacies from his father that Lor-Riou actually honored and embraced wholesale.  It was the ritual suicide of a vassal to protect the honor their Hansho, or lord.  But it also secured the prestige of the Votarious that enacted it, their honored presence among the Silent Voices assured.

Better death than dishonor.

"Fides non moriatur." Lor-Riou quietly proclaimed, eyes closed in remembrance.

One and all, 299 voices were raised together in unity as they echoed their Magister.  "Fides non moriatur." Their collective tone was solemn, respectful.  Aumiyat had proven herself Votarious to her last, honoring the Magister, honoring them, and honoring herself.

Of course, her botched mission was still an issue to be resolved, one that the entire Votarious would now be responsible for.

"Yes, Children.  We will never forget our comrade.  Aumiyat, say her name.  But we must deal with the ramifications of this failure.  Our enemies are aware.  They possess that which your Magister requires...I must have this holocron!" Lor-Riou's eyes shined, the promise of future glories written across his face.  Every single member stared from behind their black masks, rabid fealty radiating from their eyes.

When he lowered his gaze, his face had adopted the solemn bent from earlier.  "However, we can no longer accomplish this task with subterfuge, at least not according to my former plans...nor can we do so alone.  We shall require our secular allies in order to guarantee success." His deliberate pause spoke volumes.  They knew of whom he spoke, understanding while disliking the idea of such.

But following the Magister was their imperative; if he tasked them to forfeit their lives, then one and all they would do so willingly and immediately.  This command might be more onerous but it would nevertheless be unquestionably obeyed.

While he continued to lay out his plans, the Votarious clung upon every word.  Aumiyat's failure would not--must not!--be repeated.  As soon as Lor-Riou finished, he dismissed them all, once again declaring their Creed.

"Fides non moriatur!" His voice rang as clear as a clarion bell, the 299 members of the Votarious shouting their response as Lor-Riou stepped back into the turbolift, the voices echoing even as the blastdoors closed cutting off all sound.

"Fides non moriatur!"

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"That's better, son.  Thank you." Saani's grateful tone was mirrored in her eyes, only slightly marred by the excruciating pain that she was in.  Standing above her large medcouch, Lor-Riou finally relaxed, the exertions of his efforts fatiguing even him.  If he could have, he would be sweating profusely, but his particular biology was much more efficient than needing sweat glands.  As it was, he dragged his feet over to the comfortable chair positioned around the other side of his mother's bed and slumped down into the cushions.

Lor-Riou's face was full of pain having nothing to do with the strain he'd just endured..  "Mother...I...I am sorry, but Aumiyat failed.  She was captured and somehow lost the holocron."  He tried to make out Saani's mood but her face was hidden by darkness that his imperfect infravision couldn't properly discern.  Yet another unbidden gift courtesy of his father, another facet of his Curse that he lived with on a daily basis.

His mother's silence made him uncomfortable.  Hurriedly, he continued.  "I have all of my other agents looking right now; I'm certain that they shall unearth the relic soon enough." He paused, worried that she'd passed out again from the pain but when he focused upon her pulmonary system, he could tell by her breathing that she was still conscious.  He thought that this was the opportunity that he'd been waiting for... "I've decided that now is the right time.  I've already contacted Arbiter Onasi and Field Marshall Rhul-Vinjaga; they've agreed to meet with me to address Kewda's response." He smiled conspiratorially.  "Both Orrell and Svante are under the impression that the Pretenders are massing their forces, having concluded that Zilior is to blame for the bom--"

Saani suddenly cut him off mid-sentence.  "What about...him?" She asked through clenched teeth.  There was no need for her to specify whom she meant.

Lor-Riou smiled widely, satisfaction radiating off of him.  "He made planetfall just yesterday.  It was as you said: she was with him."  Both he and Saani's faces beheld identical looks of anger and disgust.

"Good...good." She hissed, whether or not from pain or pleasure, Lor-Riou wasn't quite sure.  Stretching out her arm towards her son, Saani clamped down her claw-like fingers on his arm.  "Promise me: you will get both him and his bitch when you're done."

With patience and comforting, Lor-Riou stroked her atrophied hand.  "Do not worry, Mother.  He will suffer as you have.  And once he's lost everything, I shall ki--"

"NO!" Her shout surprised even him; she even sat up slightly.  "No..." She said much more quietly.  "Don't kill him; death is too good for him."  Saani's eyes...changed: one moment warm and violet, then next...savage and yellow.  "He will know what it is to lose everything...and yet be denied that which would bring him the only comfort left or afforded him..." Once again quiet, she sank back into the medcouch's softness, the strain of her outburst obviously exhausting her.

Lor-Riou stared at his mother, using his four other consciousnesses to peruse tactics and strategy for his overall plan.  Even given certain variables and unknowns, he calculated a 92.3% chance of success.  But only if he had the full might of Zilior behind him and his Votarious. 

Noticing that Saani was finally, blessedly asleep, he stood, kissing her forehead while gently stroking her lekku in comfort.  Taking a moment to ensure that she wanted for nothing--the med-droids would take over once he left the room--he entered the turbolift, absently thumbing one of the buttons. 

Considering that he was forced to pivot with his schemes, Lor-Riou felt a modicum of gratification.  In fact, this might actually work out better for him in the long run...

When the turbolift reached its destination, he felt better than he had since first receiving that communique.  Stepping out on the bridge, Lor-Riou scanned the officers and techs at their stations, members of his Votarious interspersed about the entire command center.  "Captain Drinna, fastest route to Zilior." He ordered.

"Yes, Magister." A neat-looking professional woman nodded, issuing commands.  As her voice rang out through the bridge, people hurried at their individual tasks.

Lor-Riou allowed himself a small smile.  After all of these decades, he was finally seeing dividends on his plans, if not precisely according to what he'd foreseen...but such was the Will of the Force.

It was the Will of the Force that had reunited him with his Mother, finally ending her torture.  It was the Will of the Force that had enabled him to finally locate his Father.  And it would be the Will of the Force that his Father face the restitution courtesy of his son...his son and his Votarious.

"Fides non moriatur."  He quietly repeated, confident in victory.

"Loyalty never dies."
Logged

Sig courtesy of DarthScrub

Cataphract Triarch 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

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