Title: Beginnings Author: Vek Talis Timeframe: 197 years before KotOR 4153 BBY approx. Genre: Drama Characters: mostly OC. Vandar Tokare (from KotOR) Disclaimer: I don't own Star Wars and never will. Extra Disclaimer: Perhaps PG-13 (for an unusual death scene at the start). Notes: Grateful for help from my awesome master, @Findswoman for some crucial help. ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ An old man lay in a bed, his eyelids closed. For a brief moment, he felt like he was flying. Then, darkness. Utter black. This is what it feels like to die, were his last thoughts. Weightlessness. His thoughts slowed to a crawl and then slower. Particles of light seemed to dance around him. Warm, fuzzy feelings surrounded and wrapped him in a comforting embrace. Rather than nothing, something was happening now. What felt like sunshine poured down on his flesh. A cool breeze tickled his cheek. Eyelids cracked ever so slightly, then eyes bulging, he looked around, his head rapidly jerking from side to side. He was in a vast open area, rolling hills, solemn trees, dignified in their aged stance amongst the juvenile grass. "Where am I? What am I?" He looked down. Hands, calloused from decades of work, yet unwrinkled by time. He turned them over, marveling in the supple skin. Quickly, they went to his face. Smooth skin and hair, teeth and a nose, right where it belonged. High in the lofty clouds, a strange creature floated. "What?" he said, amazed and stunned that he recognized the incredible thing. "An iriaz? What's happened?" Instantly, he felt a sensation come over him. Like thousands of fingers, they prickled at the base of his spine, lingered at the nape of his neck like tiny kisses and tickled his toes. He felt alive, more alive than he'd ever remembered. Behind him, the meandering creek swelled to a crescendo. More than hear it, he was a part of it, flowing along, seeing every molecule of water, immersing himself in the riverbed. The air danced around him, encircling him with electricity. At the back of his mind, something tugged. Danger. Before he even knew he was reacting, he rolled forward and to his left. A large feline beast swatted the air where he'd been, moments before. "Whoa," he said, staring at the beast, its orange mane fluttering in the breeze. "Nice kitty." He saw its anger, its fear of him, as of an invader. "I'm not here to hurt you," he said calmly. "I invaded your space; I'll leave." He didn't want show weakness before a wild animal, so he backed away, keeping upright, so as to look larger than it. "A kath hound; curiouser and curiouser," he said in a whisper. The rolling hills gave way to high ridges, and farms dotted the grasslands. There was something, something elusive, out there. He didn't know how, but he was drawn to it. Life felt beyond ,more advanced than what he'd known before, even if he was having trouble putting it into words. It was as if he'd lived his previous life in sepia, the colors blending together into shades of tan, then suddenly a vibrant scarlet appeared, then azure and flaxen all at once. As he ran, the tingling grew greater until he had to stop. An acorn had fallen from one of the tall, ancient trees. Instinct took over as he watched it. His hand rose, fingers outstretched. Static shocked the tips and he drew back, the acorn hitting the ground with a thud. Instead of continuing, he stared at the acorn; the static drew into his fingertips again, it was painful, but vanished as the acorn rose from the grass, only a little at first. "What the hell?" he said and the acorn dropped. Over a verdant hill he went, and saw what had drawn him. A futuristic structure with a high dome protruded from the grasslands. Strange, yet familiar vehicles that hovered in the air stood nearby and perhaps a dozen humanoid shapes wandered the area. It was all too familiar, yet fantastical at the same time. "Dantooine?" he said as he took a step forward. Unfortunately, he hadn't paid attention to the feeling tugging at his collar. The ground beneath his feet gave way and soon he was falling, scrabbling at the earthen walls until he landed. "That went well," he said as he stood and took stock of himself. "Nothing broken." When he looked up, up to a tiny point of light, he whistled softly. "From a fall like that, I should have snapped something." The walls were smooth and made of rich soil. "No way I'm getting back out that way," he said. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw tunnels going in several directions. "Maybe if I close my eyes?" And he did. The tingling grew greater as he stepped to his right. When he opened his eyes, they bulged widely. A creature with multiple legs and eyes stared back at him – through him. "Bad idea," he said, though a wave of calm rushed over him. The kinrath spider – he remembered the name after a moment – didn't seem threatened by him and continued doing what it was doing. "Making a nest, are we?" he asked, but of course, the spider said nothing. An object glimmered in the ghostly light, near the nest. He stooped; it was cool and smooth to the touch, yet gave off a warming glow. Absently, he stuffed it into his pocket. The tunnel grew smaller and smaller, and he started to panic. He didn't like confined spaces. Not at all. Before he had to crawl, though, it opened up and at last a light appeared. Suddenly, a shadow appeared, blocking out the light. "Hello? Is there someone in here?" Another voice. At last, he’d found someone here who could speak. Maybe some answers, after all. "Over here," he called back. "Come to the sound of my voice," the... woman said. Grateful to hear a voice of any kind speak his language, he obeyed. "Am I glad to see-" he said, then bit off the last word. One word too late, he admonished himself. As they stepped out of the cave, he saw that she wore an opaque purple veil over her eyes. Rather than be upset, the young woman giggled. "It's all right; I'm a Miraluka." As if sensing he didn't get it, she continued. "My entire species is blind. We see through the Force, though I suspect you have no idea what I'm talking about." In fact, he did, but only because he'd played video games and watched movies. Thinking she might not understand that, he said, "I thought I was dead; I was an old man, over seventy, and now, I'm in this strange place and I feel young again. What's happening?" "The master can explain better than me," she said. "I'm Vizif, by the way, and welcome to Dantooine." "Thank you." It was all he could think to say. "Follow me," Vizif said and began walking. Her plain brown robes flowed behind her. "You're what we call a Frag; it literally means From Another Galaxy." "How do you know what I am?" he asked. "I felt something tug at me in the Force," she said. "I had this urge to come out to the kinrath cave, like I'd find something of value. I had no idea it would be someone of value." She was in her early twenties, perhaps, and mildly attractive, just not his type. Her personality, though, radiated through her speech and made him want to know her better as a friend. "That doesn't explain how you know what I am," he pointed out. "Ah," she said and smiled sheepishly. "For a miraluka, we see through the Force. All people, non Force-sensitives, Sith and Jedi alike, I see with a blue... I guess you'd call it an aura. All living things, whether they can feel the Force or not, have midichlorians inside. Their natural state, you might say. It's what makes their aura. Your aura is greenish, like there's some yellow mixed in. To me, that means midichlorians weren't in you before you came here." "Interesting," he said. She bounded ahead of him, her youthful exuberance almost leaving him in the dust. "Wait," he said. "I may be young again, but you're too fast." In truth, he was feeling younger by the moment. His fall hadn't left him aching. Dark spots on his arms and the backs of his hands were gone and he didn't hurt anymore. "Sorry," she said. "Here we are, this is our small enclave." The dome, he saw more fully now, was a landing port for spaceships. That he was even thinking the words 'space’ and ‘ship' together and not thinking of science fiction seemed weird to him. "Master Craroc will want to see you, I'm sure," Vizif said. "I'll take you to him." They wound their way through a short maze. Off to the right were some quarters. To the left, he assumed, was the hallway which led to the spaceport. In the center stood a tree, cordoned off by the man-made structure. A little greenery gave the area a meditative aspect and smelled of the outdoors. Through another hallway, and Vizif led him to a circular arena, about one hundred feet in diameter. No, they'd use meters, he told himself. A man stood at the far corner, his back to them. He wore a finer robe than Vizif, and he seemed to be studying something. Shoulders squared and his head twitched. "Vizif." Neck twisting, he cocked his head. "And who have you brought me?" "This is... well, that's strange, I never did ask your name," Vizif said, smirking at him. "I doubt it matters anymore, not here," he said. "True enough," Vizif agreed. "Ah, another Frag." The man in the fancy robe sighed dismally. He turned, a datapad in his hand. "Not overjoyed to see me, eh?" the newcomer to this galaxy asked dryly. "In a word: no." The man in fancy robe crossed his arms over his chest. "I am Master Darrdan Nal Craroc. We have enough troubles in the galaxy without introducing another Frag to it." "Why do you say that?" A new voice drew everyone's attention. This fellow was tiny; his complexion was a dull green and he sported pointed ears. He came to stand beside Craroc. "Master Vandar," the newcomer to the galaxy said and bowed. Immediately, he could feel the tension mount. "You know me?" the diminutive master asked, one fluffy eyebrow raised. "Not personally, you understand." He knew he needed a new name, one that fit in with his surroundings. It was insane that this was even happening. "Wait outside," Master Craroc said. "You as well, Vizif. I suggest you show your... friend how to meditate and maybe he can come up with a name for us." "As you say, Master." Vizif bowed deeply, then wrapped her arm around his. "Let's go to the training room next door." She led him through a set of double doors. "Sit there and I'll help you," she said. When he was seated, she sat beside him. "Close your eyes," she said. After he obeyed, tendrils of light began to swirl. Soon, they focused, coming together to form her face. "Breathe deeply," she said softly. ==A Frag is dangerous; you know they tend to be unstable and more powerful than average== he heard Master Craroc say in his mind, then jumbled voices. "You may hear snippets of things far away," Vizif said. "Don’t let them trouble you. Concentrate on the swirls of light and the sound of my voice. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge." ==Several of his kind have lived lives dedicated to the Force== Vandar said calmly. "There is no passion, there is serenity," Vizif said. ==Yes, but most have become Sith== Master Craroc growled. ==It is too risky to train one so old and dangerous. Being drawn here by the Force is a terrible ordeal. Being infused with midichlorians alters their DNA== "There is no chaos, there is harmony," Vizif said casually. "There is no death, there is the Force," he said, completing the Jedi code. He felt her smile, just as two words – a name – appeared in his mind. Now that he could see her in his mind's eye, he could also see himself. He'd regressed about forty some years. He reminded himself of what he'd looked like around age thirty. Warm tendrils of light stretched before himself and Vizif; they intertwined and he began to hear her ordinary thoughts, faintly at first. Face to face, with no preconceptions between them, he saw visions of her as a child. Sniffling, she lay in bed, wondering why her parents had abandoned her. ==It is all right, young one== her new master, a matronly Umbaran, told her, kneeling by her bed. Then, older, Vizif training with her first blade, she and her pale master became heated. The more he saw, the more warming tendrils of light surrounded her, reached out to touch him. For a moment, he remembered his past, his own brushes with Fate. She floated nearby in the blurry images of memories of his former life. "I can hear – and see – you, too," she said, her voice raising in octave and youthful expression. ==Can you hear me in your thoughts?== The voice echoed endlessly, but it was hers, speaking into his mind. ==Yes, can you hear me?== At first, nothing. Concentrating on her face in his mind's eye, he tried again. This time, he received a pleased squeal for his trouble. ==I knew you could do it== Vizif said. ==Always remember: There is no passion, there is serenity. To me, the most important part of the code== ==Passion isn't all bad== he said. Once again, he saw the name inside his head and heard it whispered quietly in the darkness. Then, he saw her, much younger again, lying in bed. Passion had played out within her, as she desperately tried to escape the Jedi and find her parents. When she failed, even the gentle chastisement of her master was a terrible blow. She'd vowed to extinguish passion from herself. ==Passion leads to anger== Vizif said. Though he disagreed, he felt the conviction with which her mind spoke the words. It would have been unwise to continue, so he continued searching their connection and found her pleased with his progress. ==You learn quickly== she said. Particles of light surrounded them both, drawing them nearer. All of a sudden, he found himself watching the two of them from above. He was back in the here and now. Time had passed, though he wasn't sure how much. "I think this means we've begun the bonding process." She sounded amazed with herself and the Force. "We have to go back in there." "Why? The masters haven't summoned us," he said. "Trust me," she said. He opened his eyes, but their connection was still there, though in its infancy. Familiarity at once mingled with a sense of accomplishment. Before she spoke again, he nodded and pushed himself up to his feet. She bounded up like a twenty-something and bounced back into the circular room. "What is the meaning of this?" Master Craroc asked, glaring first at Vizif, then at the newcomer. "I want you to know, Master Craroc, that I, Vizif Krat, have taken..." she trailed off, but quickly he whispered the two words he'd seen to her. Her smile and nod were enthusiastic. "I've taken Vek Talis to be my padawan learner." "What?!" Master Craroc took half a step backward, though Vandar beamed. "You are barely a Knight, having passed your trials only two months ago." "I sense their bond already, Darrdan," Vandar said. "They will make a fine coupling." "A 'coupling' is exactly what I'm afraid of," Craroc said sarcastically. "I fear they will drive each other to the Dark Side." He was resolute, crossing his arms again and glowering at them both. "I... think not, Darrdan," Vandar said, closing his eyes. "This one, this Vek Talis, he has a destiny which lies away from the Sith." Even Craroc had to nod, if grudgingly at that. "Master Vandar, you do have a strong ability to see the future, but it is only one possible future. Frags are dangerous, as I could point out several who have turned dark within your lifetime." Vek – that name would have to grow on him – watched his new master closely. There was something inside her, yearning to be heard. Master Craroc must have been an intimidating sight – so to speak – for her. Gently, he nudged her. "Go on," he whispered. "You have something to say." He gave her a slight bow of the head and stood behind her, off to her right. Again, he felt her radiant smile. "Would it be wise to turn him away, Masters?" Vizif asked. "If I train him, we risk losing him to the Dark Side someday. Risk is part of life. It would be cruel to turn him loose to survive on his own. He's a newcomer to our galaxy and would surely fall prey to anyone who could sense his presence in the Force, as I did. He would either perish, alone and sad, or be taken by the Sith." Vandar made an approving noise at the back of his throat. Craroc grunted, grudgingly nodding his head a second time. His arms dropped to his sides and he cast down his eyes. "At any rate, I see Vizif has already made her choice." He fixed her with a stern glare. "I do not grant you the rank of Master, even though you are now the master of Vek Talis." At Craroc's words, Vek sensed the muscles in Vizif's neck and shoulders tense. Her face remained a mask of serenity, though turmoil briefly seized her. He felt it through their growing bond. Quickly, though, she seemed to recover and stared at Master Craroc. "Go now, and train Padawan Talis," Craroc said sternly. "If you require assistance, please don't hesitate to call upon me," Vandar said as Vizif and Vek walked away. "That's all there is to it," Vizif said as they left the main hall. "Let's get you to the quartermaster and draw some supplies." "Uh, I think there's more to it than that," Vek said, amused at her words. "Huh?" she said. "Now we both have to figure out how to make me a Jedi," he said and smirked. Being a Jedi. It was something of only dreams. Until now. But, what to do with the knowledge he held? When their bond had begun to form, he realized he instinctively knew how to shield his thoughts from others. A byproduct of living in a world where you had to guard yourself against everyone? Perhaps. For the moment, he would keep his secrets; after all, it wasn't his place to right wrongs and change history. Vizif's smile was penetrating. "We'll make it work, Vek. I promise," she said and he believed his new master.