Beyond Measure of Merit - Diary of a Shadow Child - 2012 DD Challenge - updated 2/26

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by LexiLupin, Jan 1, 2012.

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  1. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Oh Lexi!!!! :( :( How utterly devastating! It's like an epidemic, of tragic loss. [face_sigh]
  2. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

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    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    This must be heartbreaking for him. Poor child:_|
  3. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

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    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
  4. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Ouch, especially after the last chapter. To lose Cherith so quickly after she left home and soon after Davin's death must be horrific for the Fels.
  5. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    Just to clarify, because this entry won't make a lot of sense otherwise... Cherith didn't go anywhere, she just took up a new position in the fortress.
    A/N: as a note of interest, if anyone isn't familiar with the short story Red Sky, Blue Flame, that's the canon tie-in (very loosely) to this part, which is about pirates attacking Jag's academy and vaguely references the Nirauan fortress coming under attack as well.


    Entry 23

    The positive news, in short supply as it is- Jagged, against all odds, is alive. Like most of the survivors, he is reported as wounded in the course of the pirate attack, but we know nothing else of his condition. Chak has been recalled ahead of schedule and his unit routed through Rhigar, that they might assist with security, recovery, and information dissemination.

    The rest of the news from Rhigar is bleak- the post’s flight instructor is reported to have been killed in the early wave of attacks. Stent, who escaped injury in the attack here, may never regain consciousness and lies near death at the academy. Which means that the defensive coordination must have fallen onto the shoulders of the ranking cadet commander- a heavy burden for even a chiss to assume suddenly.

    But there are some survivors, so she must have done something right. Here though…

    Here, I was too late. Or the fortress was too unprepared. The attackers too strongly armed, the shields too untested…

    I don’t know who or what to blame, but the need to put the responsibility for my sister’s death at someone’s feet is too strong. Of course, the basic answer to that, the simplest one, is the pirate organization that spread across the region like a plague, fast and furious, attacking without warning with no greater objective than to loot, aggrandizement of personal wealth and glory… father says they are called the Cavrilhu Pirates, that their wealth and standing in the fringes of the known galaxy has waned in the past few years, that they’ve been forced to expand their horizons.

    Unfortunately for them, they expanded straight into Imperial and Chiss territory.

    I want a name though; I want to know who put the fatal blaster bolt into Cherith’s chest, even as she… ever the Fel… performed her newly sworn duty to the Hand, as she fought to lock down the computer network, to protect the assets of this fortress and the rest of the empire.

    She and her peers succeeded in the task, but that is little consolation… cannot erase my memory of the desperate grief in father’s eyes as he looked up upon my entry into the systems room, too stunned to even draw a weapon in his own defense as he cradled her body to his chest… her dark hair disheveled from the events and spilling limply over her shoulders… her eyes closed, but mouth slightly open in what I can only imagine was the beginnings of a surprised exclamation…





    It was like a farcical joke and a hellish nightmare, all rolled up into one scene of chaotic destruction. The fortress- the home I’ve known only in small part, but whose winding corridors and basic features I have had memorized for years- a mess of flashing lights and raid alarms. Distant explosions mercifully isolated from the residential wings, but undoubtedly destroying the bulk of our defensive systems.

    The alarm that the fortress had been breached.

    I never dreamed such a thing to be possible, and I don’t believe mother did either. But it was the final straw for me, as the anxious fear in her eyes increased ten-fold, and the panic behind them suggested to me that she was no longer willing to place her faith in Wynssa’s instructors to see her and the youngest of the chiss children to safety. With communications either jammed or flooded in the confusion…

    She did not even have time to protest before I was rushing into father’s office. The drawer in his desk where he keeps a spare blaster is generally locked; the benefit of having spent many long evenings in here during the past few months is that I had a decent idea of the keycode. It took me two tries but I took the blaster, and a spare comlink which I tuned to the override emergency frequency.

    I barked at mother to get to the Starflare, seal it, and stand ready at the weapons systems in case any of the infiltrators breached the private hangar; then, attention half divided between listening to the chaotic reports sounding over the comlink and watching out for intruders, I ventured into wholly unexplored corridors.

    There are designated evacuation routes and safe rooms in the wing of the fortress that serves as an education center; in the seven interminable minutes it took to reach the area through hidden back corridors and rarely-used stairwells, each report I could decipher through the comm channel settled a weight in my stomach. It sounded as though the initial breach point had been not far from there, and while the older, armed students fought back the infiltrators, the younger ones were largely pinned down and separated from the central security forces.

    It is fortunate that chiss generally have the presence of mind and self-discipline in battle not to shoot first and ask questions later. Based on the bodies as I rounded the last corner to the room where the younglings were cowering- two humans, a twi’lek, and a defending chiss- it would have been easy to take me for an intruder, but for my uniform which is in the style of the older students, though without the identifying markings upon it.

    Wynssa crying my name in surprise from where she hid inside the room seemed to resolve any remaining suspicion.

    “How many do you have here?” I asked the head defender, a female chiss far too young for the job; her superiors were probably off with the older students. There were thirteen chiss younglings, aged between four and eight, and Wynssa, who had dashed into the corridor and tucked herself under my arm, fear obvious in her wide blue eyes. “I can get them to a ship.”

    “The hangars are obvious targets, and as we cannot get there, the point is irrelevant” she informed me stiffly.

    “My parents have a yacht; in the private residential hangars. It’s not as obvious a target as the fighter bays, and it certainly won’t be more dangerous than here.” I glanced at the younglings crowded in the room. “It’ll be cramped but they’ll fit.”

    Having six children may have been an anomaly in this culture; but it did mean that my parents had to possess the appropriately-sized travel accommodations, something I’d never had particular thought to be thankful for before that day.

    Chiss are also trained to make fast and strategic decisions. After a soft curse beneath her breath and a moment’s consideration, she ordered the other two helpers to take up rear guard, sent a hasty message via datapad that probably had no chance of making it through the channels in the chaos, and beckoned the younglings from the room to begin our slower but still hasty progression back the way I had come.

    This part of the fortress still mercifully spared from assault, we made it nearly to the hangar without incident- the lone ‘incident’ was solved by a single and decisive charric shot from the girl, a slightly more startled and delayed one from me, and less than two minutes later, my mother was greeting the lot of us at the ramp of the Starflare and shuffling the children aboard. I stopped mother at the base of the ramp.

    “Word from father?” She shook her head. “Cherith?” She bit her lip, afraid, I think, that I would run off again at her answer of ‘no.’

    My mother is a very smart woman.

    A curious thing happened on my way to the Operations Center of the fortress, though it was some time before I could even give it much thought. I turned a corner at a harried run, and found myself caught up in the grasp of two strong figures, who had clearly lain in wait as they heard me coming. Instinct being to struggle, only the cool Cheunh words of, “He is alone- probably lost. Just kill him,” made me realize that I had, in fact, been captured by chiss. My own people, so to speak.

    “Wait!” I gasped as one of the guards withdrew a hand to grab his charric, “wait.” In my panic, I nearly forgot the Cheunh I had been taught at the age of three. “Atsif’on.”

    I think it saved my life, that one word. It gave the third member of the ambush party pause and he held up a hand, staring at me harshly.

    “He is an infiltrator,” the guard holding my arms barked.

    “No,” the leader murmured curiously, transitioning to Basic. He leaned close, eerie eyes searching my face carefully. “He is a Fel.” A slight flick of his hand signaled his man to release me, but the other was still holding his charric pointed uncomfortably close. “My apologies,” he continued silkily. “There are so many of you, it is difficult to keep count.”

    “I’m looking for my sister. Cherith- the older one.”

    A slight twist of his lip suggested some amusement at my clarification, but he did not delay in directing me towards the Operations Center, and bidding me to have a better care of my stealth tactics. He beckoned his men onwards, and they marched purposefully in the opposite direction.

    The encounter was nearly driven from my mind upon my terrible discovery in the systems security room, but as I spent the long hours of that night desperately casting my mind about to avoid thinking about Cherith and Jagged, I realized something that stopped my breath.

    The third man… the one who ordered and then stayed my would-be execution… it was Stent. Too frantic in the moment, I had not even registered the burgundy uniform of a Phalanx Commander, though it had seemed out of place next to the darker uniforms of his guards. And Stent, with one Cheunh word and a good look at me, realized exactly who I was- rather, realized what I was- and protected the secret.

    He must have been on his way to a ship, because it was only hours later that the word came through about Rhigar; we now know that Stent had arrived only minutes before the pirates discovered and raided the academy. It is likely that he was instrumental in the survival of some of the cadets, though he possibly paid with his own life.

    I have debated whether to tell father of the encounter. He knows I did not go unseen during the events of that tumultuous day, even thanked me quietly for retrieving Wynssa. But given the tension that oft exists between him and Stent, I wonder if it is even worth bringing up until it becomes known whether Stent will survive his injuries.

    In any event, we have enough on our minds for now. Father plans to make the journey to Rhigar soon, where he will be faced with the necessity of relaying devastating news to both Chak and Jagged.

    X---X

    Tags- @earlybird-obi-wan, @Jade_eyes, @Jedi_Lover, @Ceillean, @AzureAngel2, @TrakNar, @Kahara
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  6. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Breathtaking action =D= =D= Cem is cool under fire and yet has the natural emotional reactions, a tribute to his family, those who have survived and those who have been lost @};- @};-
  7. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    An action packed update and great to see him saved by Stent. He sure is a Fel
  8. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    Entry 24

    We held a small memorial for Cherith two days ago. The original plan was for father to depart soon afterwards for Rhigar, but mother quietly informed him- it was not a demand so much as a simple fact- that we would all make the journey together. A combination of need to see her other two surviving children and refusal to let any of her family out of her sight, I think.

    I am glad for the chance to see Chak and Jagged, but the coward in me wanted nothing more than to leave the revelation of terrible news to father, to hide in the bunk cabin aboard the yacht. And that is almost precisely what I got. Almost.

    Upon our final approach, we were informed by flight control that Jagged was in the infirmary. Feeling it would be best to first get full account of his injuries, and the condition of the wrecked base, father determined to see to Jagged and then arrange a meeting with the ranking base personnel. Mother went with him to go as far as the infirmary, leaving myself and Wynssa aboard the Starflare in the hangar until the situation had been measured.

    It was a decent plan, one that even came with the likelihood that I would be allowed to venture forth later around the unfamiliar base, if only to see Jagged- there were a number of strange parties already present for crisis management efforts, and I think my secrecy was the last thing on father’s mind for now. It was a decent plan, but that plan was ruined when, not five minutes after father and mother left the hangar to see him, Jagged arrived here instead.

    I was so unprepared for it and caught so off-guard that I just stared blankly at him for a moment after he came aboard the ship. In all fairness, he seemed equally caught off-guard to see me, but his recovery was faster and smoother.

    “I was expecting father.”

    “He…” I couldn’t even form the words properly. “Mother thought we should…all…come.” All. It seemed such a harsh betrayal to say it aloud- all. Mother, father, Wynssa, me. Jagged didn’t even know what all meant anymore. “They said you were in the infirmary, mother and father headed there a few minutes ago.”

    “I was,” he nodded slowly, “I finished what I was doing when I heard you were landing… sorry, communications are a little muddled at the moment.”

    “No, I mean… we heard you were injured.” I finally took the moment to look my brother up and down; he wore the dark uniform of the cadets well, crimson piping on the legs and sleeves uncomfortably evocative of blood. His hair was shaven, nearly bald, which seemed to correlate to the synthflesh bandage stretching above his right eye and deep into his hairline. “Ah.”

    A rueful grin threatened his serious demeanor. “Skull fracture. I’ve been out a couple days now; restricted workload, the headaches are brutal.”

    “So what were you doing now? In the infirmary?”

    “Daily med allotment. Checking on the recovery progression of our several personnel still in treatment.”

    “Stent?”

    He shook his head. “Still a daily fight to keep him alive.”

    “Are they hopeful for him?”

    Jagged frowned, a quizzically thoughtful look touching his eyes. “The chiss… they don’t hope. Hope breeds disappointment. They accept what is, and adapt their expectations as their reality shifts, no more, no less. Stent is alive, they will do all they can to keep him alive; if he dies, he is dead, and that is that.”

    Those were brutal words though he could not know it, and I knew then that I had to just do it. I cursed circumstances for conspiring to put me in this position, but what could I do but accept it? I briefly pondered going to another part of the ship, rather than standing awkwardly in the cockpit, but didn’t want to risk alerting Wynssa to Jagged’s appearance and subject her to the conversation we were about to have.

    “Jagged… you know the fortress was attacked the same day this base was?”

    He nodded. “It was my understanding that they were ultimately unsuccessful in acquiring any sensitive or useful information.”

    That was the military mindset. Not a question of damage, of loss of life… just the question of how the Hand’s military and strategic capabilities may have been compromised. Only a few short months had done that to Jagged, and I briefly wanted to drag him by the collar back to Nirauan.

    “They landed an assault force,” I reminded him quietly.

    His eyes narrowed slightly, as he tried to process my unspoken meaning. “And…?” He paused and glanced around, perhaps finally wondering just why the ship was so quiet. All… An utter stillness came over his face, and when he spoke, there was a numbness in his voice, in the movement of his lips. “And, Cem?”

    I swallowed thickly, and my voice emerged in little more than a whisper.

    “Cherith.” He remained motionless. “She…she was in the Operations Center.”

    “Why?”

    I stared dully. “Why? Because that’s what she was learning to do, you know that.”

    “But why didn’t she evacuate?” he demanded wildly, fury creeping into his voice. It was strange, that his initial reaction should be so heated; he’d taken Davin’s death with the sort of numb acceptance I’d felt after the fortress attack.

    “Because,” I said quietly and firmly, “she had a duty to perform and-”

    “And suddenly you care about duty?”

    A tiny voice broke into the argument, and caused us both to whirl around guiltily. “Jag?”

    I hadn’t heard anyone use the pet name in ages; even Wynssa had outgrown the tendency to shorten his name sometime prior. But the childish innocence in her voice, the hesitation in her eyes as she looked upon her brother in strange dress and altered appearance, caused something to shift in him and the anger bled away into a mournful sadness that, upon later reflection, I think was about more than Cherith.

    It was about Cherith; and Davin. It was about a shattered innocence that had now claimed each and every one of us- an innocence that Davin, I now realize, lost long before he ever let on to the fact, possibly lost here, at this very academy as he struggled to prove his merit. What final incident pushed him over the edge, turned him into the harsh and angry young man who confronted father, I doubt I shall ever know- perhaps he lost a friend, a mentor, a lover? Saw unforgivable, unforgettable horrors in the pursuit of his duty?

    It is not the chiss way, as Jagged reflected, to tolerate remorse, regret; their world is shaped by reality, not by lingering in flights of fancy, wondering what might have been. What pressure must Davin have felt, to be the first of us in untested waters, navigating this proud people and their high expectations? Pressure to succeed, lest he risk the chances and dreams of Chak, and Jagged, Cherith, Wynssa…

    All of them except me.

    Is it possible that Davin resented me for it? Resented that I might lead a life unencumbered by trying to be something I am not? Resented that I am the shadow child? Could it be that, what I have long bitterly seen as oppressive captivity, he came to view, in some small part of his mind, as freedom from the difficult, dangerous, wholly altering path that undoubtedly awaited the others?

    These thoughts consumed me as I sat brooding in the cockpit after Jagged led Wynssa to sit in the lounge and talk, as mother and father returned minutes later, corrected from the lapse in communication, and went to talk and grieve with their son.

    After Jagged was forced to return to his duties a quarter-hour later, father came and sat beside me, quiet for some time. When he did finally speak, it was a gentle query. “Cem?”

    It took me a minute, considering how I might vocalize any of what was going through my head. In the end, all I could come up with was, “I was thinking about Davin.”

    There was another minute of silence before father reached over and clasped my shoulder.

    “Me, too.”

    X---X

    Tags- @earlybird-obi-wan, @Jade_eyes, @Jedi_Lover, @Ceillean, @AzureAngel2, @TrakNar, @Kahara
  9. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Stunning! Both the shifts in Jag's reactions and Cem's reflections. Based on those, I too feel his status is a freedom, and the pressures of living-up is the oppressive prison that squelches all grief, choice, and joy into the mandates of reality or something just as abstract. :( =D=
  10. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

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    Nov 1, 2004
    star 5
    Great action! Very nicely written!
  11. AzureAngel2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    Phew, I caught up after my holidays in the mountains and being ill most of this week.

    After Jagged was forced to return to his duties a quarter-hour later, father came and sat beside me, quiet for some time. When he did finally speak, it was a gentle query. “Cem?”

    It took me a minute, considering how I might vocalize any of what was going through my head. In the end, all I could come up with was, “I was thinking about Davin.”

    There was another minute of silence before father reached over and clasped my shoulder.

    “Me, too.”

    Scenes like this helped me to get better and be smiley again.
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  12. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Great action and thoughtful scenes

    Cem is a great narrator
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  13. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    A/N: Apologies for the back-to-back updates, trying to keep a semblance of real time between them.
    Thanks! Your comment made me smile- that entry and this one coming were the last ones I wrote and I'd been struggling to articulate mentally that sort of climactic understanding that Cem has regarding Davin and the whole shadow nonsense...and then it just sort of spilled out and I was like... 'oh!'

    Entry 25

    It is late. Jagged pulled me from my cabin aboard the Starflare after everyone else had retired from a long, emotionally taxing day. The purpose was purportedly to ‘take a stroll,’ though it was more of a patrol circuit that he likely was not yet cleared to perform, due to his limited duty orders from the head injury.

    Chak arrived with his taskforce a few hours after we did. Jagged wanted to meet him alone and tell him about Cherith. I did not really understand why at the time, but I think, after our stroll about the base, I am beginning to comprehend.

    We walked up and down the dimly-lit billeting corridors, speaking of everything and nothing. Jagged wondered about the recent months on Nirauan in his absence, wondered how we had all been getting along; wondered whether Cherith had been content with her life in its last days. I told him about our fanciful discussions about exploring the galaxy someday, but also that Cherith had been proud to begin to feel out the path for her future.

    We talked about Wynssa at great length as well. I am beginning to suspect that father will try to keep her out of military service altogether, that she will always now seem too young due to being the youngest, that our parents will want to spare themselves the heartache of worrying after another of us. Jagged was skeptical- understandable, I would not have entertained such an idea a year ago. But if nothing else, this past year has given me a perspective on father that I dare to think is unique from that of my siblings. He has spoken intimately with me on matters I never dreamed he would broach with any of us- his conflicting feelings over Imperial service, the difficulties of weighing those sentiments against fear for his wife and the young Davin and Chak.

    There is more to father than the proud, militaristic general I have grown up to know. A side of him that constantly second-guesses his decisions- not the military ones, but the personal ones. The decisions that led him to the top of the Imperial Navy, to the New Republic, to Thrawn, to Nirauan. The decisions that separated him and mother from their families, in the name of something more important, of something bigger than all of us.

    And yet for my conviction in his moral dilemma, I cannot yet decide whether my circumstance ranks on his list of doubts or regrets. My only fear is that he only sees it from the light of my relative safety. At least one child who will be always underfoot. One who will never be the topic of a terrible conversation with Parck regarding a scouting mission gone terribly wrong.

    In a moment of hesitation, I considered sharing with Jagged all that had come to pass in recent months. Father’s unexpected task for me in studying the rest of the galaxy; my desire to get in the Starflare and just go, anywhere; the sudden appearance of a flight simulator; the intrigue of Outbound Flight and the ever-evolving mystery that was Thrawn, his intentions, his motivations. Before I could decide, however, a cool voice sounded from behind us.

    “Lieutenant Fel.” Jagged paused and turned, I followed suit. A tall female chiss in the same black and crimson uniform which Jagged wore was approaching. “Tlarik mentioned your insistence on taking the late round against medical advisory.”

    “I should have known not to trust him.” There was a subtle banter in Jagged’s tone, something I found strange.

    Her gaze fell on me. “Your brother, I presume.”

    Jagged looked to me, a quick calculating look going through his eyes. He gestured to the chiss. “This is Lieutenant Shawnkyr Nuruodo.”

    It was a name I recognized from his holomessages. “Ah. Cadet Commander Nuruodo? Your reputation precedes you.”

    She narrowed red eyes; a look I first interpreted as anger, but it was more of a curiosity I think as she turned back to my brother and raised a cool brow. “You are on duty, Lieutenant, it is inappropriate that you should not bear proper insignia.”

    Jagged actually flushed a little, but his voice was steady and even. “There were other matters more important , it did not seem worth the distraction.” But he pulled a pin from the breast pocket of his uniform and affixed it to his lapel. As cadet rank, it was a slightly altered design from traditional military markings, but similar enough for me to recognize it.

    “Your brother proved himself worthy of the rank in every regard during the attack on this base. You should be very proud of him…”

    She wanted to address me by a name or a rank, seemed slightly nonplussed that I did not bear one on my person. For a brief moment, I considered just telling her that I was Chak and hoping the two did not encounter one another during his mission here. But then I thought about my earlier reflections on Davin, on the Fels being forced to be something they are not, and I knew that the least I could do in his honor was to own my identity for what it was.

    Before Jagged could speak up, I took a small step forward and extended my hand, meeting her glowing eyes steadily. “Wal’dy-i-Om.

    Wal’dy-i-Om. Child from the Shadow.

    Her demeanor shifted immediately. She inclined her head in acknowledgement and said sincerely, “I am sorry about your sister,” and then directed her attention back to Jagged and did not once acknowledge me or even look at me for the rest of the encounter. Like she did not wish to see or hear too much.

    Maybe there is an unspoken honor code surrounding such incidents. I do not know, and I do not intend on broaching the subject with father.

    On our way back to the Starflare, Jagged explained some of what had led Lieutenant Nuruodo to hand over her rank to the unlikeliest of them all. I am proud of him, but also sorry for him- it took him only months what took Davin years, and he is very young for the stresses and responsibilities there-entailed.

    Responsibilities like passing along news to next-of-kin regarding the demise of their loved ones.

    X---X

    Tags- @earlybird-obi-wan, @Jade_eyes, @Jedi_Lover, @Ceillean, @AzureAngel2, @TrakNar, @Kahara

    And a last note- the last entry will be up in a couple days, and that'll be followed later next week by an epilogue of sorts. :)
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  14. Jedi_Lover Force Ghost

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    Nov 1, 2004
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  15. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

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    Very fine inclusion of Shawnkyr =D= :cool: and her reactions to Jag and to Cem's status [face_thinking] I can just imagine Soontir is second-guessing his choices, even if that doesn't change anything now :( ...
  16. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    A great update with him mentioning that he is a child from the shadow and his musings
  17. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    Wonderful posts. The description of how the family reacts to all the tragedy is very effective. I liked how Cem came to the conclusion that his position might be one of freedom rather than imprisonment.
  18. LexiLupin Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2011
    star 4
    A/N: Yay, the conclusion of the diary, only 2 months too late. ;) This was my first diary challenge, and it's been fun. Huge thanks to those of you who jumped aboard for my little project. [:D]There will be an epilogue (non-diary format) up in a few days... really just a self-indulgent little chapter that ties this in to another project of mine. But this is the end of the diary itself:

    Entry 26

    It was late when we made it back home, and mother and Wynssa retired immediately. I thought to as well, but father summoned me quietly into his office and bade me sit down. His expression was closed off, which is not unusual for him of late, but there was a deeper sort of darkness behind his eyes that left me taken aback as I watched him unlock a drawer in his desk and withdraw a datacard, enclosed in an innocuous, transparent case. He laid it on the desk between us, and then folded his hands together and looked at me closely.

    “I would like to tell you, Cem, that I am proud of you. I always have been, though you may find that difficult to believe in light of our frequent disagreements over the years.”

    This was most unlike father. “I… thank you, sir.”

    “You have born a difficult situation well, and have done so for a decade, since I believe you first came into an understanding of what was expected of you. But you also have some of that rogue streak in you, and that very well may have saved Wynssa’s life, and those of the others you recovered the day of the attack.

    “This,” he tapped once at the case containing the lone datacard, “is something I have owed you for a long time, but could not give you; not until circumstances allowed it, not until you were old enough, until I knew you were ready. But you are ready now.” He slid the card across the desk to me.

    I picked it up and frowned, briefly distracted by curiosity from father’s brooding tone. “What is it?”

    “If you so choose- and yes, it is a choice, to be made by you and you alone- it is the most important set of information you have ever possessed. Memorize it carefully.”

    Mind swirling with exotic possibilities- what deep secrets lay on that innocent-looking card?- I accepted the implied dismissal without protest, and hurried along to my room where I recovered my datapad and quickly inserted the data. For all the promises of intrigue, my disappointment was great at first.

    Application File
    Imperial Naval Academy- Prefsbelt IV
    Class 3A041- Commanding Instructor Colonel T. Nhylatich

    Applicant: Davik Antell- admission approved
    Standard age at session commencement: 18
    Pre-session score assessment: MC86-MS91-SA83

    Biographical information
    Homeworld: Ord Trasi
    Height: 1.73m
    Hair: dark
    Eyes: hazel
    Family:




    It went on. I made it perhaps halfway through the length of the file before the full weight of the meaning dawned on me, and I numbly marched back to father’s office, where I knew he would still be sitting and waiting for my return. And he looked tired- more tired than I think I can ever recall. Not that it made a difference.

    “What is this?” I demanded hotly, sliding my datapad angrily across the desk.

    Father did not even look at it, but reached down and switched off the screen. “I know what it is,” he murmured, “but not what it says. It is best if I do not know details.”

    “This is me.”

    “Yes.”

    “My height, my appearance… my simulator averages…”

    “It was understandably important that those details be accurate.”

    “And the rest are what I’m supposed to memorize?”

    He inclined is head slowly, fingers steepled, elbows resting on the desk. “This is what I offer to you, Cem- a clean slate, away from the Hand. A chance to forge your own path.”

    “This isn’t a choice,” I insisted wildly. “To live in suffocating silence here, or to abandon everyone and everything for yet another path that you have laid out for me?”

    Father smiled gently, though strain still shone through in the terseness of his jaw, the tension in his eyes. “I don’t think you quite understand, son- for all intents and purposes, this person on your datacard- he now exists. He has an Imperial personnel file. If you look at the secondary files on that card, you should find information regarding substantial funds in two or three different accounts. Enough that, if you wished to cancel your appointment to Colonel Nhylatich’s training class, you could start over somewhere else. Anywhere else.”

    “Why can’t I have a life here? A real life?”

    The smile turned sad. “Because it is too late for that; I ruined that chance when I made the final decision to raise you in secret. You resent chiss culture, you resent the Hand, and you resent Grand Admiral Thrawn who you blame for it all. You will simply never fit in here, and I don’t wish to see you try. My… my children have sacrificed enough for a people who will never fully understand them; but you, Cem, will never fully understand the chiss. And I would not see you serve a people you cannot respect.”

    “Is this why you’ve had me studying up on the rest of the galaxy all these months?” Father nodded. “To send me off to a far-away academy and forget my name, my family? Whatever qualms I may have with my upbringing, I never sought to dishonor my family by utterly abandoning and denying it.”

    Father’s brow furrowed and he grew quiet for a long minute. Debating how much to divulge, I think, before realizing that he had little choice, not anymore. When he did speak, his tone was low and confiding, with a trace of something strange- almost hopelessness. “A war is coming. One that the Hand will not be able to contain from the rest of the galaxy; one that may very well be the end of the Hand as we know it. One that may see the end of this family.

    “But it is against an enemy you have been taught to strategically match in starfighter combat. Should you choose to accept your space at the academy and serve under Colonel Nhylatich, I do not doubt that you will help him find a means of instilling those necessary principles in others. To send you to the Empire bearing the name ‘Fel’ would cause you more trouble than you realize, but to leave that name behind need not mean that you abandon your duty to it.”

    “An Imperial pilot on the outside, but still a shadow-child on the inside?”

    “Again- that would be your choice alone.”

    We spoke at length into the early hours of the morning. A surreal conversation- one I have, in a way, been waiting for all my life; and yet, the prospect of the reality of it… hours later, and I am yet unable to fully wrap my head around the idea. I find myself distracted by what mother thinks, what Wynssa would feel… how Jagged will react… should I proceed with this radical scheme. And there is a deep ache within me that, as my emotions have calmed, I think stems mostly from the fact that I know father to be right.

    There is nothing left for me here. Once- perhaps as recently as the day before Cherith’s death- I would have argued that there was never anything for me here to begin with. But to see a potential fruition of the years of desperate solitude, to understand that this role- the hidden liaison to the Fel family on the other side of our self-chosen curtain of isolation- would never have been possible to Cherith or Davin, who had duties towards the Hand, duties by which they lived and died… could the years of loneliness have been worth it, to be free of Nirauan altogether?

    Father said something just before we parted ways for the night, something that stuck with me. Understanding, I think, my reticence towards a sudden transition as an anonymous cog in the Imperial wheel, after a lifetime as a Fel- the human family among the chiss- he told me, “Our self-worth, our personal merit- these are not measured by a name, by a family, but by our actions in the face of calamity. In the course of a single attack, Jagged rose in the ranks from humored human cadet amongst the chiss, to the cadet commander of them all. It was not because he bears the name Fel- the training academy has no interest in pedigree, of humans or chiss- but because he proved himself the worthy leader, won the battle, and saved lives in the process.”

    A rush of pride for my younger brother surged in me and I smiled, but father held up a hand, and made his last comment on the matter for the night.

    “Nevertheless- should you so decide, your devotion to your new reality must be absolute. No evidence of the existence of a Cem Fel should follow you. Do we understand one another?”

    I nearly opened my mouth to ask what possible evidence of my existence there could be… but then stopped short, nodded curtly, and excused myself for the night, knowing better than to doubt or question father.

    How he found out, I doubt I shall ever know, but he knows I have kept record of the past year. He offered no censure at the time, and I do not regret it- on some level, it has proven cathartic in dealing with Davin’s death, Jagged’s departure, and then Cherith… but I knew from the start that it was a dangerous gamble. And father is absolutely right- when I go to Prefsbelt IV, there will be no room for such games. My inner side, yet a shadow-child of the Fels, will need to remain wholly internal.

    Upon returning from my meeting with father, I held this datacard in my hands for some time, trying to decide whether to simply destroy it then and there- after all, how reckless is it to leave evidence, not only of Cem Fel, but of the alter ego I am to assume?

    But perhaps I shan’t destroy it. With some selective editing of sensitive information, I may simply leave it behind, hidden in one of the many places Davin, Chak, and I used to utilize. A single record that I do exist, something to recover and cherish in the event that, some day, I can be myself anywhere in the galaxy; when the course of my fate has fully mapped itself out, at the whims of the Empire and of the galaxy… and yes, to an extent, at the whims of father.

    Father- from whom we all derive our damnable sense of duty in the first place.

    X---X

    Tags- @earlybird-obi-wan, @Jedi_Lover, @Jade_eyes, @Ceillean, @AzureAngel2, @TrakNar, @Kahara
  19. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Okay, this is where I have issue with Cem. Throughout this whole thing, he had been whining and moping about his lot in life. When presented with any opportunity to change it, he didn't take it. He had even entertained thoughts of teenage rebellion, but he had never worked up the gumption to act on them. Now, his chance to actually do something to be something had been handed to him, wrapped in a bow... And he has the gall to get angry about it?

    You used a character with virtually no characterization to work from, and throughout the entire year, Cem had not progressed in character worth a lick. He remains a mopey, whiny teenager who complains long and hard about being overlooked and never given the chance to better his life. He lacks gumption, and he was finally, finally given a chance to change. It was handed to him on a platter, with a damn bow on it. His father is basically telling the kid to stop lazing around the house and go out and do something with his life, and Cem... He still whines and moans and complains and gets angry about it.

    Dammit, Cem! You know what you need? A good swift kick in the butt.
    AzureAngel2 and Goodwood like this.
  20. Nyota's Heart Combos & Paragraphs Host

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Aug 31, 2004
    star 6
    Great wrap & I will eagerly await the epilogue and the sequel [face_batting] @};- You know the Fels inside and out =D= and portray them eloquently :Hugs:
  21. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Cem is a true Fel and who knows what the future brings for him?

    A sequel?;)
  22. Kahara Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2001
    star 3
    This has been an enjoyable diary to read. Though it may be (almost) finished, I would definitely read the further adventures of your version of Cem (if you're ever bitten by that particular plot bunny.) I'm curious as to how he would continue to evolve in the non-Shadow chapter of his life.
    Jade_eyes likes this.
  23. AzureAngel2 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 14, 2005
    star 6
    I do like this characterization of Cem, because he is like many teens and young adults that I work with in my daily life: a mopey, whiny teenager, complaining long and hard about being overlooked and never given the chance to better his life. [face_whistling]
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