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Before - Legends Bastila Shan - An Autobiography

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by metophlus, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Timeframe: Old Republic Era

    Summary: A padawan tries to balance her personal desires with her duties to the Jedi Order.

    Characters: Many from KotOR 1. A handful of OCs.

    Themes: Disillusionment, Historical revisionism

    Rating: PG-13


    Entry One

    I, Bastila Shan, was seven years old when Jedi Knight Vox Aben arrived on Talravin.

    The night before, I lay in bed and listened to my parents bicker in the next room. They both said "her training" and "her future" more than once. Their emotions seeped through the walls and flowed into my chest. Father felt sad and angry. Mother was frustrated at father, but more powerful was her hopefulness. I could separate the emotions, feel one at time with full capacity, even though the reasons behind them escaped me.

    The argument faded. I stared at the ceiling, confused at the experience. My empathy for others had been intensifying over the past year and that night was the strongest my visceral feelings had been up until that point.

    Father quietly entered my bedroom. Sometimes he came to soothe me when he and mother's arguments became too heated.

    I sat up and stretched my arms wide.

    He sat down on the bed and hugged me. I felt his anguish, then felt his tears on my cheek. He apologized over and over again. I asked him what he had to be so sorry about.

    He rocked me back and forth. "You help the flowers in our garden grow, even in the frosty days. They're so beautiful."

    "I know. Did someone smash all the flowers?"

    "No, no. Tell me how you make them grow so well."

    I shrugged. "I sit and send them pleasant thoughts, papa."

    He explained to me, in his layman interpretation, the concept behind the Jedi Knights and their use of the Force. "They're heroes to the galaxy who use a magic, of sorts."

    That sounded quite fascinating to my child ears. "What does that have to do with me?" I asked.

    "Your mother believes you might be able to tap into this magic. She contacted a man who is on his way to see if that's true. And if you do have the potential, then he might take you away from us for a little while."

    My stomach turned. I clung to my father and whimpered pleadingly.

    "We'll see how the meeting goes," he whispered. I fell to sleep in his arms for the last time.

    - - -

    I rose from bed the next morning, put on my basic sleeveless colonial wear, and tied my hair in pigtails. In the living area, mother sat in her arm-chair reading a datapad and sipping herbal tea. On my way to the kitchen I glanced back to see that she was looking at holo-pics of excavation sites.

    I found fried meat slices and boiled eggs on the stove. We three seldom ate meals together. Mother was an early riser by nature, and father preferred to sleep until midday when he could get away with it. That morning, though, he was at the kitchen table. We smiled to each other.

    I partook in my usual routine of eating a handful of food, gulping some juice, then discreetly sifting through the waste-bin beside the counter to look for scraps from last night's dinner. Father saw what I was doing and winked at me. Whenever mother would catch me at this, she would slap my hand and say, "How many times have I told you to stop feeding those diseased monsters?" I slipped the morsels into a bag and sneaked out the back door.

    The countryside was a living portrait of plains and forests that stretched for leagues in all directions. I looked up that morning to see puffy clouds and long-winged birds. The village Restaw had an almost entirely human population. Lines of squat domed cottages spiraled out from the marketplace at the village center. We resided at the outskirts, thus every morning I took a long jog toward the organic food kiosks where the tooka strays congregated.

    "Morning, Basti!" A woman called as she handed a bulbous fruit to a customer. "Here to feed the cuties?" She had a tooka that liked to sit on her fruit piles and take playful swipes at people.

    "Where is the cutie?" I asked.

    "Ran off across the circle!" She answered.

    An old man threw spice onto raw animal meat hanging from his stall. He looked at me and scowled as I passed. Where was the tooka that usually pestered the old man?

    I made my way through the crowd. The closest villagers who recognized me either sent me looks of warning or smiled and patted me on the shoulder. For a child, I had quite the polarizing reputation in the area.

    Every spot where I would stop to feed a stray was now conspicuously vacant. My concern mounted. And then I felt a calling inside. An order came to me in the form of feeling. My heart buzzed with an energy I had felt often in my seven years of life, in times when I needed to react quickly.

    I followed the calling to the edge of the village center. . . and stopped. All the tookas were gathered around an alien dressed in a robe. The name of his race escaped me at that age, but I immediately noticed the pure black eyes pointed at me. Tentacles at his jawline writhed.

    "These creatures are covered in compassion," he said in a gurgling deep voice. "Your doing?"

    I was at a loss how to respond except to shrug.

    The robed alien strode toward me and stopped within arm's reach. He gestured at the bag.

    We knelt down and fed the tookas in silence.

    People watched us, murmuring about the strange visitor and the behavior of the tookas.

    "Your choices shall determine too much for my comfort," the alien said.

    "You're here to see if I can become a Jedi?"

    "Say farewell to your parents," he said. "Take nothing with you but the clothes you wear."

    I stood up and stared incredulously at him for a few moments. "No digging tools? I'm sure I can dig up pretty rocks for the Jedi."

    He insisted that I must leave my parents and possessions behind. I asked why my parents had to stay behind as well, fearing what madness the Jedi could possibly have in store for me. I told him we had our own starship, that we could meet him as a family wherever he wanted. But he remained stubborn.

    I ran in the direction of home. Instinctively, I reached out with my feelings to attract the tookas, and in seconds they all ran with me.

    Halfway there, I stopped and looked back toward the marketplace. The animals rubbed against my legs, pawed at my hands, and mewwed lovingly. Then I saw the tentacled man. He broke from the crowd and walked straight for me.

    I pointed at the Jedi and acknowledged my tookas. "Attack him!"
     
  2. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Interesting take on Bastila's early life, I must say. The style is not what I expected, but seems appropriate enough.

    A couple of points, however: first, though I like and am intrigued by what is implied when the Jedi says "Your choices shall determine too much for my comfort," I wonder if it could have been expanded upon in this entry, as opposed to later; second, I'm fairly certain that Bastila's first experience with Battle Meditation didn't happen until she was already an apprentice, at or around the time of the Mandalorian Wars. On the other hand, perhaps this is simply her recalling the first inkling of having had that power.
     
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  3. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Yay! Fair critique and I have a hard time disagreeing with anything.

    I probably should have written more material for that first conversation between the Jedi and Bastila.

    On the point of Battle Meditation. I remember Carth asked her if she ever considered joining the rest of the Jedi that went with Revan and Malak. She says that was before the power manifested itself. You're right.

    I wanted to at least foreshadow the power she's popular for among Jedi in this very first chapter. It's... arguably a retcon in the strictest sense, but as you said, this could be an inkling or rudimentary phenomenon.

    Thanks for the review!

    UPDATE: Removed last line to alleviate all dubiousness.
     
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent start. =D= I assumed it was a rudimentary skill that needs training or will develop as she matures. [face_thinking] The writing style seems to mirror the feelings and thoughts of a youngling. [face_thinking]
     
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  5. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015

    You're so kind. =)

    This marks the first time I've written a child protagonist. There's a few more chapters of youngling Bastila to come. Hope to see you there!
     
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  6. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I didn't have the necessary attention span to read this last night, but with the first morning dose of caffeine, I gave it a read. :)

    Since you accept critique, I have a tiny wee bit of it. While the narration is stellar, the dialogue could use a tiny bit more work. I don't think that you need self-explanatory things such as "answered" after "asked". I would personally ditch anything other than "said" and "asked" in most cases and use them only when absolutely necessary. At the point the alien says something, it would be interesting to have an action or a description instead, seeing his mimic, expression or something like that.

    Other than that, you have written a child right and it's hard to write children, once one is not a child themselves anymore. I love young Bastila's observations and her disappointment at the very end. Knowing that her parents were treasure hunters, that gives the story additional sentimental value.

    The cliffhanger at the end is awesome as well, so...can't see what happens next!

    P.S. Not directly related to the story, but seeing a man write from a woman's perspective and a newbie who takes suggestions without the typical hit-and-run nine out of ten people opt for...is such a refreshing thing. Most people are like "Here I am, I don't talk to anybody, read me, I will never read you, oops, short attention span, bye!"
     
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  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Welcome, metophlus! I enjoyed your first installment—you're off to a good start here! Cool idea to write a story about Bastila's early life—it'll be interesting to see how you expand on the tiny hints given in KOTOR.

    I must say, I'm curious what that tentacled Jedi means when he says "Your choices shall determine too much for my comfort." In a way, there's a touch of creepiness about an adult talking that way about choices and comfort to a 7-year-old kid—but perhaps that, combined with the trademark Jedi crypticism, is part of the point. It definitely makes me curious to see how that will play out in future chapters.

    What you're doing with Bastila's mutual understanding with the tookas is very intriguing—strikes me as a deeper and more fraught version of that old Disney-movie trope of the heroine surrounded and helped by all the cute, loving little animals. Especially since Basti, unlike those princesses, is about to use that power to attack. Can't wait to see what that will lead to!
     
  8. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Good to hear from you! Cheers to caffeine.

    I drink five mugs of strong coffee every day.

    I'll proof-read the first entry at some point and make those adjustments. Following your advice, I've made two edits to dialogue attribution in the upcoming part.

    Happy that she could warm your heart!


    Has someone been slipping gender-bender pills into my coffee?!

    I'm sorry I wasn't quite as active today. Mostly focused on writing ATM. But you'll see me at full swing every other day or so!
     
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  9. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Thank you!

    Tiny hints indeed. Sometimes it's going to feel like directing a movie based around a few verses in the Bible. But I feel she deserves to have her past expanded upon.

    Vox definitely glimpsed images in Bastila's destiny that took him aback. He'll probably expound on it soon.


    :) I had fun writing the follow-up to that attack.

    Disney's Bastila the Jedi Princess. Sounds awesome. Just hope it doesn't give Canderous any ideas.
     
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  10. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Re: coffee. Lucky you, I cannot stomach it, so I have to stick to Pepsi Max, which is nowhere near as strong.

    As for the gender-bender pills, well, a couple of us on here enjoy writing male characters the same way you enjoy writing Bastila, but it's a more common occurence, apparently.


    I'd watch. And I am not a fan of any Disney film after the 1980s, so...
     
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  11. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    I think Canderous would laugh himself silly, is all... ;)
     
  12. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Entry Two



    Most the animals jumped up onto their Jedi enemy and clung. A few on the ground raised up and shredded his robe leggings. He stumbled about while trying to pry an attacker from his face. If Jedi were heroes, I reasoned, then he would find a peaceful means to repel the felines.

    I again ran for home. I shot up the sidewalk of the neighborhood and up a paved path leading to our back door. My feet brushed the flowers in our front garden and I was reminded how much of my time and energy I had spent nurturing them.

    I entered the kitchen, slammed the door behind me, and snapped the lock. Father stood by the cupboards.

    "Bastila, stay inside today." My mother entered from the living area. "We're expecting a visitor soon that I want you to meet."

    "Already met him. He says I'm pretty, but a bad fit for the Jedi."

    "That's the best news ever!" Father scooped me up under the arms and spun me around. I laughed with relief as he set me back down.

    Mother crossed her arms and narrowed her gaze. "Were you a disrespectful brat toward him?"

    There came a heavy knock on the back door.

    I gasped and hid behind father.

    Mother slid past us, opened the portal, and gasped. There were a few silent beats before she moved aside and motioned for the visitor to enter.

    I made myself peek from behind my protector.

    The Jedi was covered in tooka excrement and splotches of his own blood. His front heaved with deep, paced breaths. He trudged inside, boots thumping on the hard floor. An offensive odor filled the kitchen.

    "Good day. I am ---" He paused as his face scrunched. He reached behind himself, pulled off a... baby tooka, and set it carefully on the floor. It purred, then bolted out the back.

    Mother slammed the door harder than I had and went to stand beside father.

    "I am Vox Aben, Jedi Knight." He looked down at me. "I give you my deepest gratitude, girl. My patience has not been so tested this cycle."

    "Did she hurt you too badly?" Mother's posture drooped.

    "I don't believe so." Vox stroked his chin tentacles. "I frightened the girl by accident in the marketplace. She wished to defend herself from a foreign stranger who was adamant about uprooting her from her present life."

    Father pointed to a chair. "We can sit down to tea and biscuits while we talk this through."

    Mother shook her head. "First things. Let me find you a change of clothes."

    Vox nodded. "Wash my robes afterward, if you would."

    - - -

    We sat around the kitchen table. Vox was now dressed in a worker outfit, a tight and thick top with criss-crossed straps that attached the shoulders to a belt at the waist. The belt had four pouches at the front pockets of varying sizes clustered the pants.

    I thought he looked rather amusing. But to the Jedi's credit, he did hold himself dignifiedly despite his humbling circumstances.

    I pushed away my tea and biscuits in defiance of the hospitality being shown the Jedi. "He says I have to leave everything behind except the clothes I'm wearing." I looked to father for support, trying to give him my most innocent face. "Does that sound sane to you?"

    Father sighed. "Sir Aben. How long did you say she has to be gone? And where will she be going? What will she be doing, exactly?"

    "I've neither the desire nor time to give a detailed account of her future livelihood or training." Vox's tentacles parted as he raised the tea cup to his mouth and drank. "Give her to the Jedi. We promise to do all in our ability to help your daughter reach her potential as a Force-sensitive."

    "Sounds agreeable so far." Mother nibbled on her biscuit.

    "Your magic failed you out there." I sneered at Vox. "What kind of a Jedi lets himself be scratched up by a buncha little tookas?"

    "One who has a sliver of his own compassion for such beasts," Vox said. The Jedi set his cup down and raised a webbed hand, twitching the fingers.

    An invisible phantom came out to play. My cup slid back to me and began to slowly spin. And more, my parents' uneaten biscuits left their plates and formed a spinning circle in mid-air.

    My parents and I were a transfixed audience. A few moments later, the cups and tea returned to their proper places.

    I realized too late that I had smiled. I made myself frown. "You think I'm a twit who can be won over with fancy tricks? Try harder!"

    "Watch your tongue, young lady." Mother reached over and tried to slap my hand. I pulled back in time. She continued, "This Jedi has traveled who knows how many light-years to give you a chance at greatness, and you're spitting in his face."

    "I haven't actually spit in his face yet."

    Father groaned. "Show a bit more respect, Bastila."

    "You believe your parents can protect you from destiny?" Vox stood and walked around the table to my side. He sank to his knees, facing me, one arm on the back of my chair.

    I sent him a look of warning and became physically rigid, ready to lash out with my own claws should he try anything harmful.

    Vox assumed a tender voice. "Your parents have done all they can for you. Now I am here to help you through the next stage, but the transition requires that you leave and start anew. The Mind of the Force calls out to you. I swear that in time... every generation henceforth shall know your deeds, Bastila Shan."

    Outside of my control, tears blurred my vision.

    I blinked, sending the droplets down my cheeks as a heaviness blossomed in my throat.

    - - -

    Father and I shared a long embrace. He said that we would meet again someday, but even then I had my doubts.

    Mother gave me a quick hug and tightened my pigtails. She said nothing.

    Back in his shredded Jedi robes, Vox Aben led me away from the village, down a slope, and across the plains toward the forests. A breeze raised his cloak. I caught a glimpse of a metallic, cylindrical device attached to his belt.

    I brushed by fingertips along blades of grass that puffed at the tops, caught flying insects in my hand then let them go, and focused on natural aromas. This might be the last time I was able to appreciate my home planet in person. I wondered if Vox would take me to planets so sensational and breathtaking that I forgot rustic Talravin.

    "Why did you land way out there?"

    "Long walks through nature help center the soul."

    "What if there was an emergency and you needed to get back to your ship? You'd feel like a dork having to run so far." I planned to forever be as difficult as possible for him.

    Vox huffed. "I already treated you to a superficial display of the Force, and I feel dirty for having done so. When the situation calls for it, I shall show you true running."

    Not long after, we arrived at his starship in a forest clearing. It was two floors high and narrow compared to its length of thirty meters or so. There was a single but multi-barreled turret at the top. Through viewing ports I saw the cockpit, which took up all the front of the vessel. Vox, continuing to stride, reached into a pocket. A steep ramp lowered at starboard, a third the distance down the length from the bow.

    "Did you name it?" I held back a few moments so his posterior wouldn't be in my face as we boarded.

    "The ship? No."

    We entered a small lounge where two people could comfortably sit at the short round table and eat. A compact conservator sat in the corner.

    There were two tunnels leading off at either end of the lounge. I took the one to the left, leaving Vox where he stood.

    "We should call it The Tooka!" I went down the tunnel and stopped when I reached an open portal to my right. Inside I found sleeping quarters with two beds bolted to opposite walls and corners, and a cramped restroom.

    I traveled further down and stepped into an antechamber of the hyperdrive. A tank of bubbling blue water covered one wall, except the few feet near the top where there was a hatch.

    "What is this for?"

    The Jedi appeared behind me. "That tank is for my meditation. In case you haven't noticed, I am in fact an aquatic-based sentient. A quarren. I return every few days to the water to regain physical stamina."

    I made a mental note to ask further questions on his unique race at another time.

    We entered the cockpit. I took the co-pilot's seat and studied the buttons and switches on the control station. Vox powered up the engines. The ship levitated up until the trees were tiny and I could see the whole of Restaw. My heart ached. But I shook the feeling away and turned to look skyward as we launched through the upper atmosphere. We broke the layers of gas and entered space. It was abruptly night-time everywhere. . . stars by the millions twinkled their greetings to us.

    "Coordinates uploaded to navicomp. Reaching lane point." The starlight grew intensely, swirled, and elongated. We zoomed into hyperspace. "We should reach Coruscant at 0200 hours."

    I suddenly realized that I had next to nothing to do but wait to arrive. I got up from my seat and wandered around the ship to gain blood flow in my legs. But the interior was austere and almost claustrophobic. In the lounge, I crouched beside the conservator and opened it to find batches of cold vegetables and a water dispenser in the door. Other than that, there were a few plain containers. I opened them only to be assaulted by a stench of overly-strong seasoning. It was some sort of meat paste.

    It wasn't long before I went back into the cockpit and stood beside the Jedi. "May we stop at a spaceport and buy a snack? I know a station that papa takes me to sometimes."

    Vox flipped a switch. "I think not. Eat what's available in the conservator."

    "It smells cruddy."

    He leaned forward and examined a screen with a grid layout.

    I repeatedly kicked the floor panel under me with the toe of my shoe. "Well, I need to use the loo."

    "We have one. Use that."

    "It's broken."

    Vox took a deep breath and gurgled to himself in his native language. He sat straight as he rotated around to face me. "I'm almost certain that you're lying."

    Fascinated, I watched his tentacles squirm. I wondered how strong were those appendages, and how sharp those fangs. But as I watched, the Jedi closed his eyes and tilted his head back.

    "Wait..."

    "Vox? What's wrong?"

    "We must come out of hyperspace. I sense. . . a cry for help."

    The corridor of strange light disappeared and the stars returned once more. I hoped this meant we were going to stop at a starport for real food.

    There was a rapid beeping sound. Vox pressed a button and activated a holo-image on the console before us. A semi-transparent upper quarter of a woman appeared from the projector. She was dressed in Jedi robes and had shoulder-length hair. Her face looked lovely to my jealous eyes, but distress etched her countenance. She began to speak, but static drowned out her voice as her image flickered wildly. Vox turned a few nobs and cleared the transmission enough to be understood.

    "Priority message to all Jedi in the Stenness Node. This is Vima Sunrider on the planet Ambria, requesting immediate assistance."

    I nestled up to the pilot's seat, watching and listening attentively.

    "Myself along with several other Jedi attempted to consecrate the body of Jedi Master Thon on the surface of Ambria in the hopes of purging the planet's dark side aura. However, the act resulted in terrible storms raging across the planet's atmosphere. The storms have grounded our ship, making escape impossible. We're doing our best to hold them back, but the presence of the dark side is very strong. If there are any Jedi receiving this, please come now. I don't know how much longer we can hold out."
     
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  13. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Ah, now that is interesting. I like how you are incorporating elements of TotJ continuity in with this story, particularly by including Vima Sunrider (curse that stupid trademark issue!).

    She's actually my headcanon Exile... ;)
     
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    =D= I enjoyed the contest of wills. Bastila with her family also. @};- Nice bit of adventure there with Vima Sunrider. :cool:
     
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  15. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Say...Nomi is going to be there somewhere at some point, isn't she? [face_love] Tales of the Jedi are one of the things I am familiar with and I love both Nomi and Vima, but Nomi is just...as the kids would say, I can't even. And yes, I am aware that [hl=black]Vima was supposed to be Bastila and blablabla[/hl].

    "Magic children" are among the most captivating characters in existence. When they're beastmasters, they're great; and when they have an attitude interspersed with their naivety every now and then, they are even better. Bastila isn't the one to accept orders from others and I can see how this might be a problem in her future. At the same time, it's funny and ironic how her little plan backfired on her. While she has the powers, she has got a lot to learn. Until then, she can annoy her Vox Aben in a way that resembles Dee Dee and Dexter of the Dexter's Laboratory. I loved the funny bits in this chapter as much as I loved the chilling ones.


    This part stands out as the best of the whole chapter:

    "You believe your parents can protect you from destiny?" Vox stood and walked around the table to my side. He sank to his knees, facing me, one arm on the back of my chair.

    I sent him a look of warning and became physically rigid, ready to lash out with my own claws should he try anything harmful.

    Vox assumed a tender voice. "Your parents have done all they can for you. Now I am here to help you through the next stage, but the transition requires that you leave and start anew. The Mind of the Force calls out to you. I swear that in time... every generation henceforth shall know your deeds, Bastila Shan."

    And another cliffhanger? Argh! :p

    P.S. Hmmm...the toilet humour, the word loo? You're from a commonwealth country, aren't you?
     
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  16. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Sweet!

    I'd almost trade KotOR 1-2 and TOR for a video game adaptation of TotJ where you could play as Ulic or Nomi.

    She could easily be too competent for the story's own good. That's a problem a lot of people run into when writing Magic Children. Also, giving them adult speech patterns.

    Dee Dee annoying Dexter is classic and hysterical. ^_^ I get even more of a kick outta watching SpongeBob and Patrick harassing Squidward.

    Thanks.

    I wrote that with a movie trailer in mind. :p


    I live in Kansas, USA. But I can sound all fancy-like when I needta.
     
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  17. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Entry Three


    "Let's go save them!" I bounced on the balls of my feet, excitement surging in my veins. A dot marked Ambria on a screen map of the sector, a more or less straight shot from our current location.

    Vox Aben uploaded new coordinates. But the map now showed a different set of systems and their routes.

    "Why are we taking the long way there?" I chewed my lip.

    "We are going to Coruscant."

    I blinked a few times. The shock of his words deflated the excitement. Frustration and disappointment exploded in my stomach. I tried to guess at some justification for abandoning the stranded Jedi. "By the time we gather more Jedi on Coruscant, that lady and her friends will be dead. We have to go back now."

    "I agree that they shall die on Ambria," Vox said. "The Council ordered me to safely transport you from Talravin to Coruscant."

    "I thought the Jedi were heroes!" My voice echoed shrilly in the cockpit. "How can you call yourself a hero if you leave your own kind to die horribly?"

    Vox whirled on me and got to his feet in the same motion.

    I flinched and stepped backward, shocked at how quickly he had become a scary, towering figure.

    "Your emotions, girl. Keep them in check." He lowered to his knees in front of me, much the same as he had back in Restaw. He tried to put his hands on my shoulders.

    I pushed them away and snapped my teeth at him.

    "You walk a dangerous path for one so young. I sense the Dark Side pulsating from the planet Ambria, all those light-years away. Powerful, painful. But your anger with me pierced through those energies, like how Vima Sunrider's transmission carried past the ion storm to reach us here."

    "I hate you." I made fists. His incomprehensible ramblings angered me almost to the degree of his cowardice. "And I'll hate you more if you leave those other Jedi behind."

    Vox heaved a watery sigh and covered his eyes with his palms. "There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no emotion, there peace."

    We diverted course for Ambria, set to arrive in less than an hour.

    - - -

    Our ship came out of hyperspace above the beige round rock where lightning-shocked clouds boiled and coalesced like the birthing of a gaseous monster. Vox allowed residual momentum to carry our vessel ever closer to the flashing orb. He pulled back a lever and accelerated us to likely doom.

    My blood went cold and my breathing quickened as I stared out the front viewport. Hate radiated from Ambria. It wasn't just a planet. It wanted me and everyone in the galaxy dead. It was a nexus of pure evil.

    "Take a deep breath through your nose that lasts for six seconds," Vox said.

    My legs wobbled. I yelped, sank to the floor, and drew in a breath. One, two, three. . .

    The ship jolted. Its artificial light sources flickered and died out to leave us in darkness, save for the strobe effect of lightning through the viewport. Four. . . five. . . six. . .

    "Hold it for four seconds."

    Alarms blasted that immediately hurt my eardrums. Sparks showered from the navicomputer to the deck near my legs.

    I covered my mouth, holding in my breath that wanted to escape as a scream. I scurried away from the spot, glancing up to Vox and finding him dutifully at work on buttons, knobs, and levers.

    "Exhale for five seconds. Repeat the pattern. Fill your mind with the thought of these precious seconds of life-giving breath."

    I held onto the co-pilot's chair and closed my eyes, repeating the pattern. We rocked back and forth, thunder boomed throughout the ship interior, lights of all sizes and intensities appeared behind my eyelids, but I kept breathing while counting the seconds.

    By miraculous good luck and Vox Aben's Force-inspired piloting skills. . . we landed. I climbed to my feet, panting with exhilaration, and threw myself onto Vox's lap. I gave him the kind of warm embrace I would have shared with father. "We made it!"

    "Our success will matter little if you squeeze me to death."

    I sat in his lap and looked out at Ambrian surface to see an ugly barren landscape illuminated by constant fingers of lightning. Gnarled rock formations stood like strange tree-trunks, some so tall their tips disappeared in the wicked sky. Leagues away, tornadoes joined the storm to the ground, creating fountains of dust and rock at their bases.

    "This is where my training begins?" I tried to suppress my mounting anxiety. I abruptly wanted to stay on the ship and felt a fool for ever suggesting we land in such a nightmarish location.

    Vox nudged me from his lap. "Stay on board and practice the meditation I taught you. I'm going to search for Vima." He rose and made to exit the cockpit.

    I grabbed his sleeve. "What if you don't come back?"

    He stopped and gazed down at me, quarren expression difficult for me to decipher.

    I focused in on his emotions. He must have felt my telepathic prodding, because his abstract locks opened and I felt beyond the usual deep empathy. Single-mindedness for his mission streamlined his thoughts and solid determination burned in his heart. His was a remarkable willpower.

    I decided to keep my arguments, respecting his intent to save the Jedi.

    Vox pulled away and left down the corridor. The ramp hissed open, there was a tumultuous chorus of wind, then I was left alone in relative silence.

    My palms sweat. I took a cup from the top of the conservator and poured some water, drinking it slowly with my eyes closed, trying to pretend I was somewhere normal and calm.

    I wandered into the crew quarters, lay down on a bed, and took paced breaths, glad that the ship hull muted most outside sounds. Or else I might hear the tornadoes ripping across the land. Were any drawing closer to my position? Would the ship stay anchored to the ground against those crazy gusts? Surely Vox would rush back and save me if he thought the storm was endangering me. I tried many times to keep my mind on my breath and counting, but racing thoughts broke through the calm and I finally surrendered to them, finding myself alert and quite worried.

    BRAM! Something collided against the ship.

    Adrenaline shocked me into even fuller alertness.

    A second more powerful hit threw me off the bed. I landed on the deck, smacking my elbow. Brain chemicals dulled the pain... for now.

    I crawled out of the quarters and clambered to my feet.

    Another collision sent me head-first for the closest bulkhead. I managed to move my body so that my shoulder took the impact.

    I ran for the cockpit. I had to somehow find out what was going on. When I was almost there, a side of the corridor in front of me buckled.

    I halted. A good fraction of the bulkhead from deck to ceiling jutted out, blocking my way. Metal plating, sparking wires, and squirming tubes protruded out a foot from the very tip of my nose. I looked to find there was a space underneath the mess. I dropped to my belly and crawled forward, feeling rather like a lizard whose home was being attacked by a giant.

    A sliver of metal caught me on the lower back.

    I paused, reached back with a dainty hand, and tried to work the metal loose or move the affected flesh of my back carefully from the sharp thing.

    A smell of burning fabric reached my nostrils. A single point on my leg stung.

    I yelled out. Embers were showering from the wrecked hull innards and burning through my pants. On the verge of panic, I freed my skin of the sharp metal without cutting myself too badly, crawled out of the mess at last, then stood and looked ahead.

    A bulky reptile waited at the front of the ship. It was the largest creature I had ever seen, slightly taller than the ship and nearly as wide. It pointed its scaly face in my direction once I appeared at the cockpit threshold. Saliva dripped from its fangs and pulled-back lips.

    I backed up a few steps, stunned.

    The front viewport was shattered, fragments littering the deck. Sheets of rain soaked the lands outside, threatening to flood my all but ruined shelter. Stirred with sounds of the storm, there were sizzling noises behind me, meaning the way I had come was certainly too dangerous.


    The day had darkened further to late evening.

    If I attempted a jump out the open frame past the reptile and somehow bypassed becoming dinner. . . I would be at the weather's mercy.

    The reptile snorted and stamped on the ground. It opened its mouth to reveal uneven fangs. A speck of light brightened over its forked tongue and grew into the size of a fruit. Electricity covered the bright ball.

    I shielded by eyes with a hand, squinting. I knew I had to make some move soon, before this outlandishness claimed my life.

    The ship lurched. I slammed into the portal frame. Roars carried over the storm outside and the crackling of the beast's upcoming assault. There was clearly more than one of these surrounding the ship.

    I threw myself into the captain's chair which was facing away from the front.

    The ball of light ejected at the opposite wall and exploded like a violent firework. Static scattered around the cockpit. I squeezed my eyes shut and covered my ears as smoldering heat washed over my body. But the chair had kept me insulated from the worst.

    A few seconds later I gripped the chair arms, lowered a foot to spin myself about, and kicked from the seat with all the strength in my legs. Arms stretched straight out, I dove over the console and through a gap in the viewport. I felt my enemy's rough hide as I scraped past him. My hands met the muddy ground and I did a front roll, breaking into a run.

    I dodged rocks and leapt streams, my hopes set on finding some sort of shelter or place to climb. Heavy footfalls and roars trailed me all the while, making me aware that the predators were closing in.

    I slipped on mud and fell to the ground. Pain stabbed my ankle. I must have twisted it wrong on my way down. My muscles were stretched, my adrenaline mostly spent, and waves of increasing exhaustion swept my body.

    Rolling onto my back, I sat up and scanned for the impending threat. Two of the beasts had followed me. They were half a kilometer behind, side by side, galloping for their injured prey. Rain showered me as I sat pitifully on the ground. Freezing dread spread from my stomach to my limbs and soon I found my mind on the cusp of despair.

    I screamed from the pain in my ankle, but hurriedly rose and jogged for the closest formation, looking for something to climb. I reached a rock seeming to have elevation enough to foil the attackers and slid my hand on the hard surface, searching for a hold.

    "Bastila?" Called a woman's voice.

    Was this a figment of my imagination? "Over here! I'm over here! Help me!" I found a crag with my hand, and one on which to set my foot, but when I tried to pull up my foot slipped. The slick surfaces and my pained ankle combined to make this an impossible task.

    The two reptiles were nearer than ever. I leaned back on the tall rock and gave up the fight.
    From the other side, many meters away where the rock bent out, appeared an adult human. Lightning flashed and for a moment the woman was illuminated as though she were in daylight. She shot past me, going for the reptiles, then I saw only the back of her flapping Jedi robes.

    The beasts increased their speed.

    She raised both hands out in front of her.

    They went head-first into an invisible barrier. Their necks bent, their bodies crumpled, and they fell.

    Telekinetic feedback knocked into Vima's front. She skidded backward in the mud, but kept her stance.

    But the beasts got back up, huffing and growling. They opened their mouths and formed new energy spheres. The balls of light grew and grew.

    Vima pushed her hands out at them.

    The balls of electrical fury fired into their throats.

    I saw hellish skeletons under crisped hides. And then it was over.

    Vima turned and pulled her cloak closer around herself as she walked to me, head bent, damp strands of hair pasted to her weary face. The image seared itself into my mind; a hero in the elements, a spark of hope in a grim place.

    She stopped in front of me and smiled. "Vox was concerned. He asked me to travel to the ship and check on you."

    "Thank you for helping me," I said. "That was remarkable!"

    Vima carried me on her back to a cozy cave a few kilometers away where she and her Jedi team had taken refuge. We found the three of them and Vox meditating cross-legged on the uneven stone floor, their backs straight and expressions grave. They each only opened their eyes to regard us for a moment before commencing. A fire burned at the center, its smoke drifting up to a hole in the ceiling. Vima set me down and quietly explained that Vox had encountered a possessed animal on the way there and injured his leg in the fight, but he had managed to bring a heavy rock down on his enemy, killing it.

    The Force-sensitives were concentrating on driving back the Dark Side. With Vox added to the synergy, they were making slow but sure progress.

    She gave me a bowl of water and a chunk of cooked meat. After I had finished those, I curled into a ball and drifted to sleep.

    One standard day had passed since I heard my parents argue about my apprenticeship.
     
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  18. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    2: Love Vox's reaction to Bastila's tooka attack, and in front of her parents too. I bet it wasn't what Basti was expecting at all—she probably expected (wanted?) him to get all mad and outraged at her for sicking all those tookas on him! And I just love this response of his:


    He must be a right sight stuffed into those blue-collar work clothes, too. [face_tee_hee] But he's a true Jedi to put up with both the marketplace attack and all of Basti's barbs and sneers as gracefully and stoically as he does. Irreverent little scamp that she is at this stage (and I mean that in the best possible way), it's a much-needed example for her. I definitely see the beginnings of one of those rather fun spunky-semi-problem-kid-plus-calm-stoical-mentor relationships in this first space journey of theirs (and it's cute to see her doing the space equivalent of the classic "can we pleeeeze stop at the rest stop? Pleeeeze?" [face_laugh] )

    And what a nice cliffhanger with Vima's distress call... I bet neither Vox nor Basti were counting on anything quite so adventurous so soon!

    3: This chapter starts with I guess what we could call the less savory side of Vox's stoicism—such strict adherence to his original orders that he would ignore a distress call. And at the same time the good side of Bastila's spunkiness pops up when she insists they go help.

    Nice job with the reptilians' attack sequence and Vima's rescue—what a moment for both of them, and we get to see Bastila exercise that no-nonsense levelheadedness that so characterizes her in KOTOR. I wonder if she'll get the chance to join in the meditative efforts to push back the dark side on Ambria; it's rather cool that she seems to have an opportunity to put that meditative exercise Vox just introduced to her to work so soon. The organic quality of the dark aura permeating Ambria has almost a sentient-planet ring to it, and I'm betting there's more than meets the eye here.
     
  19. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Thank you for the in-depth response to my latest update. It brightened my day when I read that you appreciated the humor and character moments the way I'd hoped people would. Without spoilers, we can both agree that Bastila (especially with that particular brand of spunkiness) will insist on helping the meditation and maybe overstep her bounds. If we're lucky, we'll discover a few of Ambria's sinister secrets along the way!
     
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  20. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    My concentration varies on daily basis and I cannot do much about it, so I am sorry if this reply is a bit odd. If there is anything obvious I missed, I'll probably notice it next time.

    At first, I was wondering if the beginning of the chapter was some form of a test for Bastila, if Vox Aben had his doubts about her; to the point where he was crushing her idealism and showing her that things may or may not always go right. But I guess that it's the cruel reality of the old Jedi order and the dark side of idealism in general.

    "There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no emotion, there peace."

    This is where the Jedi ways, those that may seem slightly morally wrong from our universe's perspective, start resembling some forms of meditation. If one closes to all the emotion, of course there will be peace. Nothingness is peace.

    At this point, I am asking if Vox will be her master or not, as I don't think they're a good match. Also, I don't understand why they eventually did go to Ambria, so a little help would be welcome. :)

    ...

    The action scene is so well-structured that one could say you were painting with words, or, in the light of this being the XXI century, creating CGI with words.
     
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  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Terrific intensity and I like how Bastila stood her ground about rescuing Vima. The atmosphere on Ambria is totally intimidating & I like how you showed her skills and Vima's rescue. :cool: This seemingly callous focus on rules above all else I can see how that would sow the seeds later for Bastila's defection. [face_thinking]
     
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  22. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Well, that was certainly an unexpected journey, what with the desolation of Vox's ship by those dragonlike creatures, and the battle of the five Jedi against the dark side on Ambria. Keep up the good work!
     
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  23. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Special thanks to my last editor. They did their job well, but I can't use their suggestions due to drama I unwittingly incited.

    Entry Four


    A shard of Ambria already festered within my soul. The Dark Side is a malignent thing. Meditative treatments would push back the symptoms, but that wasting sickness gradually spread across my mind, body, and spirit in the coming years.

    Revan and Malak each broke the last seals of my innocence in their own ways, but only because I permitted them.

    "Your choices shall determine too much for my comfort," Vox Aben had said.

    The phantoms of the Sith Lords wanted me as a child and they have stalked me ever since. They lurk in the corners of my room now as I lie dying. One final choice of significance may remain to me after recording this book.

    - - -

    I dreamt I floated in a nebula. Sometimes flashing clouds parted and I glimpsed legions of stars, but the rolling evil bloomed again and blocked those promises of hope. I swam through fog to emptiness, making little visible progress in covering the great spans. Faces appeared around me in the nebula, their skin wrinkled and cracked, their eyes exploding suns. Burning chunks of planets formed their crowns and lightning their garments. Somehow I knew them to be lords from ages long passed. . . somehow I knew they hated me, but wanted me.

    I sat up and screamed.

    Vima came over and cradled me while projecting sedate feelings. She said that she understood if I chose to stay awake, but wanted me to relax.

    Our cave was damp and cold. The fire was all but dead, our light coming from its embers. The other Jedi continued to sit cross-legged meditating, more present in the spiritual realm than here.

    I snuggled up to Vima to soak in her bodily warmth. "What's the Dark Side?"

    When she spoke, her voice was tentative. "You could feel the concentrated hate out there, the desire to conquer and destroy. You encountered its mind inside your dreams. That's the Dark Side."

    "I want to fight the evil." I was braver with her by my side. Perhaps we would work in such harmony that we put those Jedi over there to shame. "Show me how."

    Vima let out a breezy chuckle. "The external darkness fights and destroys itself more often than not. A Jedi's hardest battle is against their own heart."

    I leaned away to face her. "You aren't going to let me help, are you?" My tone came out more hostile than intended.

    Our rapport strained, Vima's mouth closed into a tighter line than normal and she looked away.

    "Is this child driving you mad yet?"

    I jolted with surprise and looked over to see Vox limping toward us.

    I sensed a subtle flicker of shame from Vima as she got to her feet. "No, no. She wants to help us, is all."

    Following her into standing, I crossed my arms and waited for Vox's response.

    The quarren stopped in front of us. "Remember the breathing meditation, Bastila. Leave us to our duties while paying mind to yours."

    I rolled my eyes. "My duty is to fall back to sleep? It's so dull here. I wanna do something."

    "What did I say earlier?" Vima placed her hand on my head, caressed my scalp with her nails. "Keeping after your heart is every bit as important as what the rest of us are doing."

    My child intuition told me that they shared a secret between the two of them. They were so adamant I sit and do nothing while they fought the darkness. Eventually I conceded and sat back down.


    I brooded for the next several hours.

    Shortly after the wait had become a kind of emotional torture, the Jedi rose to their feet and began shaking hands and exchanging congratulations. That was the first I paid any real note to the young blonde woman who pecked a kiss on Vima's cheek. The pair went for the cave exit, smiling and whispering.

    I walked to Vox.

    The quarren's tentacles sagged when he turned to me. "Master Sunrider is going to test the transponder on her wrecked ship."

    "Something's bothering you, Vox."

    "Your personal thoughts, worse than your nightmares, were an extra hurdle for our concentration. I am disappointed in you."

    That hurt.

    We left the cave to find the morning sky darkly overcast. Ponds of rainwater dotted the terrain. Lightning had blasted apart and charred many of the trunk-like rocks, some still smoking.

    I was glad I put on Vima's cloak. It was too large for my petite size and the tail dragged in the mud behind me. But the air was cold and the breeze colder, fast reddening my nose and cheeks.

    Vox led me up a ridge and to a flat where a squat, battered starship waited. Vima and the blonde descended the ramp.

    "A commercial starliner is detouring to the system," Vima said. "They'll dispatch a shuttle for us.

    I became so overjoyed at the news that I let out an involuntary squeak. A soft, unfamiliar voice entered my surface thoughts: "At last. We waited centuries to be free of this wasteland." I blinked a few times, bewildered at how distinct and separate from myself it had been.

    "We remain vigilant until they arrive." Vox leaned his weight on his good leg. "We purged a fair portion of the Dark Side from this area, but it is yet strong. I recommend we commence with our meditations in the cave."

    "Look, Vox!" The blonde woman stepped over to in front of me and leaned down. "Isn't your apprentice adorable in Vima's cloak?" She fussed with the collar.

    I thought she must resent Vox for almost killing the mood.

    "Give it to her, Vima," the woman said. "Let her grow into it."

    And I was going to resent her if she kept speaking of me as if I was an infant. I yanked the cloak from myself and threw it over the blond.

    "Hey, where did the world go?"

    I ran behind her and slapped her butt.

    She gasped and threw off the cover.

    I was already running.

    We three girls laughed and played chase on the flat while Vox stood and muttered about his lot in life.
     
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  24. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    In the midst of deepest darkness, never underestimate a child's ability to be a child. ;)

    I wonder what "old" Bastila's last choice is, and which option she will choose.
     
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  25. metophlus

    metophlus Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2015
    Kate Beckinsale is my dream casting for Bastila. If there was ever a KotOR remake on current gen consoles and PCs, modders could use her as a face model. It'd be the next best thing!

    I even found some photos from her kid years.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Give her pigtails and we're good to go!