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Beyond - Legends Here There Be Monsters (AU, OCs, Jacen, Sith, one-shot, OC Challenge Winter 2020/21)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Here There Be Monsters
    Author: ViariSkywalker
    Timeframe: 47 ABY
    Characters: Dorian Starskip (OC), Veeran Starskip (OC), Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus, Sith OCs
    Genre: AU, introspection, angst, drama, action, one-shot, vignette

    Summary: Several months after earning a place among the Sith initiates, fourteen-year-old Dorian Starskip encounters monsters on the grave world of Korriban. One tries to eat him, one is possibly mentoring him, and a few just really hate his guts. Which of these is most to be feared?

    Notes: Oh, look at that, another challenge response. [face_whistling] Can I even write on my own anymore? :p This one is for the OC Revolution Winter 2020/21 Challenge:

    A situation where an OC encounters an unknown species for the first time. This can be sapient or non-sapient, and it need not be an actual new to the GFFA species, just one the character personally knows nothing about.

    And once again, I’m writing about some OCs that first appeared in Enter the Foreign, but whose backstories were fleshed out in The Lands of the Dead. This story takes place during the events of TLotD. More details under the cut:

    This story starts up roughly half a year after Dorian’s first kill, which earned him a reprieve from the doctor’s prolonged and horrific experimentation on him and started him on the path of a Sith initiate.

    For those who haven’t read TLotD or any related fics, this ‘verse branches off from Legends early on in LOTF. It is one in which Caedus was defeated, but the One Sith on Korriban rose up to take his place. The Jedi are in hiding at this point, and many of the galaxy’s heroes have perished.

    Dorian and Veeran Starskip are fraternal twin brothers who were being transferred from one secret Jedi enclave to another when their ship was intercepted by the Sith. It’s been about three-and-a-half years since they were captured, and they are both training to be potential apprentices to Darth Krayt, the Master of the Sith, who currently lies in stasis.

    At the end of their harrowing descent into darkness, the brothers are anointed as the Sith Lords Darth Festus and Darth Ferrus – but for now, they’re just two boys trying to survive.

    A list of all related fics is included at the end of the story.

    Disclaimer:
    I don’t own Star Wars. Nothing cute to add this time. ;)

    As always, thanks to @Gabri_Jade for her excellent advice and beta work, and for letting me ramble on about these characters. [:D]


    ~~

    Here There Be Monsters


    Dorian Starskip is pretty sure he’s about to die.

    He holds onto the malfunctioning lightsaber – like an idiot, because it’s not doing him much good now, is it? – stumbling backward from the massive, long-tailed, four-legged creature that is bounding down the craggy cliff wall, all gnashing teeth and rippling muscles and sheer, unrestrained bloodlust.

    He really is an idiot, he thinks. He tries one more time to activate the lightsaber, but it only sparks a moment before letting out a hiss of smoke. He growls and throws the weapon at the advancing predator. It doesn’t even come close to striking the beast.

    Definitely need to work on my aim, he notes a bit absently.

    He remembers how Neige passed out the training sabers, not even sparing him so much as a glance as he tossed the weapon across the room. Dorian should have realized something was off right then and there. Like all of the other Sith initiates, Neige has never once missed an opportunity to mock, belittle, or abuse him. The only thing that prevents him from going further is the fear of what Dorian’s twin brother might do to him.

    Well, no, that isn’t exactly true. There is one more thing that keeps Neige and the other trainees at bay.

    Dorian reaches into his left sleeve and yanks out the crude blade concealed within. Not that it’ll do him much good against whatever the hell this monster is. He may be fairly well-acquainted with human and near-human anatomy by now, able to identify the quickest and most efficient ways to drain a person’s blood; but he has no idea what this thing is or what its weaknesses are. He’s not even sure it has any weaknesses.

    —but you have weaknesses, don’t you, and now you’re going to die—

    He throws up his hands to create a barrier in the Force, but he already knows it won’t last. His skills are so meager compared to the other initiates. It’s a wonder he’s lasted this long. He grits his teeth, straining to hold the invisible wall of energy, staring into the creature’s glowing eyes as it roars at him. Its jowls are dripping with saliva, chomping as if it already has him between its teeth. Its thick tail whips back and forth, slamming against the ground on either side of it. He only has a few more seconds, maybe half a minute at best.

    To think that he’s survived this long, only to become this disgusting creature’s next meal… it’s so ridiculous and unfair and wrong, he can barely stand it. Too bad the mental wall he’s built up over the last few years won’t be of any use against this snarling, savage monster. He hopes his death won’t hurt his twin too much. Maybe if he keeps the wall up until the last second, it won’t be so bad.

    I’m sorry, Veeran, he whispers across their bond before throwing his defenses back up. He’ll never know if his brother heard him.

    He feels the barrier shatter, and the creature lunges at him. He closes his eyes and holds the knife out in front of him, accepting his fate even if he still isn’t ready to enter the black.

    When he doesn’t feel those jagged teeth tear into him, when he notices the snarling has stopped and been replaced by a deep, rumbling purr, he opens his eyes to see what the hell just happened.

    A cloaked figure stands next to the beast, stroking a hand along its muzzle before trailing lightly across the spiky ridges of its spine. Then Dorian’s mysterious savior pats the creature’s flank and whispers something he can’t hear. The animal lowers its rear to the ground, tail curling around in front of it, and leans its head against the cloaked person’s chest, purring softly.

    Dorian is still trying to reconcile this docile, happy creature with the rampaging, bloodthirsty monster that was ready to devour him a moment ago, when his savior turns toward him and lowers the hood of his cloak.

    Oh. That makes sense.

    Darth Caedus stares down at him unblinking for a moment, then steps forward and reaches out a hand. Dorian shakes his head at the man before standing up on his own.

    “Where’s the rest of your team?” Caedus asks.

    Nice to see you, too, Dorian almost mutters, before remembering who he’s talking to. Then he recalls how easily Caedus has picked up on his thoughts in the past, and he grits his teeth while averting his eyes.

    “Gone,” Dorian finally answers. “Ditched me as soon as we got into the mountains.” Typical.

    The disgraced Sith Lord nods slowly. “Where’s your brother? Veeran, was it?”

    Dorian looks up at Caedus, and he can’t help thinking that there’s no way the man needs help remembering Veeran’s name. He’s not sure why he thinks that – it’s not like he and his twin are important in any way, shape, or form, especially not in the eyes of the man who once ruled the galaxy.

    That fact is still so strange to him. He, a skinny, talentless orphan kid – a worthless nobody – is having a conversation with one of the most infamous people in existence. Even if the man is a shell of his former self, spending half of his days wandering the Korriban wilderness and the other half very unenthusiastically demonstrating his still-formidable fighting skills to a bunch of murderous teenagers.

    “He wasn’t assigned to a hunting team today,” Dorian answers quietly.

    Caedus nods and looks over his shoulder at the creature, which has stretched out its front legs to lay down. Its tail twitches a little as it closes its eyes and settles in for what looks like a nap. The barest hint of a smile crosses Caedus’s face before he returns his attention to Dorian.

    “What were you planning to do if I hadn’t shown up?” the man asks.

    Die, he thinks.

    Caedus inclines his head just slightly toward him, the corner of his mouth twitching up in a faint, lopsided smirk. “You’re kind of a funny kid, aren’t you?”

    He feels the hollowness in his chest very acutely in that moment, but before he can answer, Caedus continues.

    “The tuk’ata guard the tombs, and they’re drawn to Force-sensitives. I’d steer clear, unless you actually do have a death wish.”

    Amazing advice, thanks.

    The Sith Lord levels him with an uncompromising stare, and then he sighs.

    “I’d almost forgotten what this was like,” he says. “Sarcasm and stubbornness. A formidable combination in a teenage boy.” He sounds almost… what’s the word? Wistful? Contemplative? “Though I suppose you needed to be stubborn in order to survive your ordeal with—”

    “Why are you helping me?” Dorian snaps, not really knowing why. He’s not angry, exactly, but he can feel an echo of that pressure building in his chest, the pressure that had only eased up when he stabbed the scalpel into that boy—

    Am I helping you?”

    Caedus’s words tear him from the memory. Dorian blinks up at the man. “You just stopped me from getting eaten.”

    There’s something strange in Caedus’s expression as he folds his hands in front of him and stares down at Dorian. “And what significance do you attach to this?”

    “To what? To you helping me?” He thinks about the question a moment. He’s never pretended to know why Caedus does anything, let alone help him. “I don’t know. None?”

    The man laughs a little under his breath. “A wise answer, I think. Even if it’s not what you really believe.”

    Dorian blinks a couple of times. So Caedus is calling him a liar?

    —but isn’t that what you are now, hiding a knife in your sleeve, hiding from what you’ve done, what you want to keep doing—

    He realizes he’s begun to absently rub at his chest. He quickly drops his hand to his side. The knife is still clenched tight in his other fist, and Caedus notices.

    “Put that away,” he says quietly, “and come here.”

    Dorian’s eyes go wide as he glances down at the resting tuk’ata. No thanks, I’m good.

    Caedus gives him a look of long-suffering before holding a hand out to beckon him. “You know I can make you.”

    Dorian raises one eyebrow, then slips the knife back into his sleeve. He steps forward slowly, eyes on the tuk’ata as he joins the Sith Lord next to it.

    “You can pet him, if you’d like. He’s calm for now.”

    Dorian can’t help the disgust on his face as he glances sideways at Caedus. Why the hell would I want to do that? Even asleep, the tuk’ata looks no less than a monster.

    He suddenly wonders how long it’s been since he touched another living being without it ending in violence. He can’t remember.

    He feels a faint wispy something at the edge of his consciousness, and he realizes Caedus probably felt all of that. Dorian looks away, staring hard at the sleeping animal. He reaches out a hand, just barely brushing along its flank. The tuk’ata shudders a little and lets out a noise that might pass for contentment. He pulls back quickly and looks up to find Caedus watching him.

    “Look at that,” the man says, as if to himself. “Even a creature twisted by Sith alchemy can know some measure of peace.”

    Something burns at the edges of Dorian’s vision. “For how long?” he says, his voice quiet.

    Caedus reaches out to stroke the creature along its spine. “Not long,” he replies, equally quiet.

    Dorian lowers his gaze and nods. Right. He’s not sure what he expected.

    He hears Caedus shift toward him. “You can find peace within the darkness, Dorian Starskip.”

    The words of his instructors ring in his ears, chanting the code that has been drilled into him every day for the last several months. “Peace is a lie.”

    “Maybe. Perhaps I should say clarity, then. Or sanity.”

    Dorian feels his throat tighten. Sanity. That would be something, wouldn’t it? To feel like he isn’t constantly teetering on some invisible precipice, balancing against unseen objects or forces, always one step away from falling right off the edge.

    Dorian takes a step back. “I should go.”

    “Of course.” Caedus folds his arms under his cloak and looks in the direction of the fortress. “Head straight through the valley. You shouldn’t run into any more monsters today.”

    Dorian circles around the sleeping tuk’ata and begins his trek back toward the Sith fortress. He’s just climbing the ridge that will lead down into the valley when he hears Caedus call out behind him.

    “I told you once that the twin bond is strong. You shouldn’t be afraid to use it.”

    Dorian stops and looks over his shoulder. What can he say to that? How can he even start to explain? “It’s just easier this way.”

    “Easier?” Caedus shakes his head. “I doubt that. Simpler, maybe, but not easier.”

    His fingers twitch, closing into loose fists. “I would just hold him back.”

    “You closed yourself off for a reason, but that time is over. If you keep shutting him out, you’ll regret it.”

    Dorian thinks of that place inside him, that small part that has always been Veeran’s, even before he could put any kind of name to it. A cord connecting them from birth, from before birth. The wall protects Veeran from Dorian’s pain, but it also divides them, fraying the threads that make up that cord.

    He looks up at Caedus, and the dull pressure in his chest flares, a burst of heat, like matter colliding in a swirl of gases and dust. Who is this man to lecture him? He killed his own twin sister. He murdered her.

    “Exactly,” Caedus says, little more than a whisper. And even though Dorian still can’t feel the Sith Lord in the Force, he sees a flash of old pain cross his face. “If I hadn’t pushed her away, maybe—”

    He shakes his head and sighs, mouth pressed in a thin line. “It’s getting late. You should get going.”

    Dorian nods one last time before turning and climbing the rest of the way up the ridge. The Valley of the Dark Lords stretches out before him, bathed in long shadows as the sun begins its descent. Resisting the urge to sigh, he begins the long walk back to the fortress.


    ~~


    The corridor nearest the training wing is quiet as Dorian enters it. He slips through the door, wincing a little at the creaking of the ancient durasteel as it slides shut behind him. He wonders what his punishment will be for being late and missing the evening meal. He’s pretty sure he can handle it, whatever it is. He thinks that’s one of the things that makes Neige and the others hate him so much, the fact that he’s never fazed by pain, no matter how brutal the beatings are or how sadistic their instructors try to be.

    It probably doesn’t help that Dorian killed Niege’s friend and took his place among the Sith initiates. But he doesn’t like thinking about that.

    There’s that pressure again, building slowly, a crushing weight dead center in his chest. It hurts, but there’s something satisfying about the sensation, and he doesn’t know what to make of that. In any case, it feels better than the gaping void that eats at him every other moment of every single day.

    A door slides open a few meters away, and Neige strolls into the corridor. His bone-white hair is damp with sweat, and his white eyes swivel in their sockets, landing on Dorian. At least, he thinks they do. The Arkanian boy doesn’t have pupils, so it’s kind of hard to tell.

    “Well, look what the tuk’ata didn’t drag in,” Neige says, acid dripping from every syllable. “And without your brother there to rescue you, too. Aren’t you so lucky?”

    The older boy strides toward Dorian, then sidesteps just enough to knock his shoulder into him. Hard. The pressure in his chest— he feels it like he did that day in the fighting circle, and it needs to be released.

    Dorian slips the knife from his sleeve as Neige passes by him, and he grabs the boy roughly by the back of his head. He pulls Neige close, pressing the weapon’s jagged edge to his throat. “If I were you,” he whispers in the older boy’s ear, “I would stop worrying about Veeran so much. He’s not nearly subtle enough to get the job done before our masters intervene.”

    The Force crackles and sparks with rage. “And you think you are?” Neige replies in a low, dangerous voice.

    Dorian tugs on the boy’s hair, exposing more of his neck to the threat of the blade. “Wanna find out?”

    “You don’t scare me, Dorian.”

    “Scared or not, you’ll bleed out just the same.” For a few seconds, an image flashes before his eyes, of a little Jedi boy lying on the doctor’s table, a crimson pool expanding beneath him as his terrified, delirious eyes glazed over forever. Dorian remembers bile burning the back of his throat as he watched. “Everyone does,” he says.

    And in that moment, his entire body freezes, held in place by invisible bonds, unyielding as durasteel. A low chuckle from behind him as he senses two other initiates entering the corridor.

    “Ah, there you are, Dorian, we were so worried about you.” The voice belongs to Arjis, a member of the hunting team that had ditched him in the mountains. Then that must mean—

    “We thought you got eaten by the tuk’ata.” Mitya – the other member of his group – fakes a warble in her voice. “We would have been so sad.”

    Neige twists out of his grasp, turns, and punches Dorian in the jaw, sending him sprawling to the ground. The other trainees’ Force grip lifts, but now they’re surrounding him. Somehow, he’s still holding the knife.

    “I really thought that lightsaber would do the trick,” Neige says, shaking his head. “You’re a stubborn bastard, aren’t you?”

    Dorian wipes blood from the corner of his mouth and starts to stand, tightening his grip on the blade. You have no ide—

    “You have no idea,” his thoughts are echoed out loud from the other end of the hallway, and he feels the slow creep of a smirk across his lips as Neige and Arjis twist abruptly to face the newcomer.

    “That’s my brother you’re screwing with,” Veeran says, looking simultaneously irritated and excited. “You think he’s just gonna roll over and die because you want him to?”

    Neige sneers at Veeran and draws himself up to full height. “I think I’m sick of you acting like you’re king of the castle when you’re really just a weak little Jedi brat who can’t bear to let his precious brother die.”

    Veeran brings his hands together in front of his chest and cracks his knuckles. The sound echoes loud in the corridor, and Dorian feels a shiver of something through the invisible cord that connects them. Against his instincts, against everything he’s trained himself to do these last three-and-a-half years, he drops the mental wall around him.

    “Hey, Dorian,” his twin says, smiling. The thought rings out so loud in his head, it may as well have been shouted: Duck.

    Dorian throws himself to the ground as Veeran pummels the initiates with wave after wave of energy, so violent it throws all three of them through the air and slams them against the wall at the far end of the corridor. His brother is beside him in an instant, hauling him up by his shoulders.

    “Took you long enough,” Dorian mutters, rubbing his jaw.

    “I was eating,” Veeran snaps back. “You missed dinner, by the way.”

    Dorian lets his gaze travel over his brother. “You could stand to miss a meal, too, you know.”

    Veeran rolls his eyes and lifts his shirt enough to show off his abdomen. “It’s muscle, idiot. Something you could use a lot more of.”

    Dorian shakes his head, trying to frown, but he can’t quite fight the grin itching at his lips. “So hurtful.” He looks back at the pile of Sith trainees lying crumpled and unconscious on the stone floor. That pressure is still there, still building in his chest, in the place that normally aches from being so empty. The hand holding the knife twitches involuntarily. “What about them?”

    Veeran scoffs. “Who gives a damn about them? They won’t mess with us again, not for a long time, at least.”

    Dorian isn’t so sure. Arjis and Mitya are vicious, sniveling cowards most of the time, but Neige is still one of the strongest initiates. If he’s really gunning for Veeran’s place at the top of the pack…

    “Hey,” Veeran says, interrupting his thoughts. “It’s not about being the strongest. It’s about fighting your way to the top, no matter who or what’s in your way. We’ve both been doing that since we got here, more than any of them. And we’re going to keep fighting. We’ll outlast them all.”

    Dorian glances once more over his shoulder at the initiates who want him dead. “Survive,” he says quietly, rubbing his chest.

    “Exactly. You and me.” Veeran grins and punches him lightly in the shoulder. “They’ll never stop us.”

    Dorian nods. He thinks how easy it would be to walk over there, slide the blade into their necks, let them bleed out. Three more bodies for him to climb over. His own mountain of the dead.

    —what kind of monster are you—

    “Forget them,” Veeran says, quieter now. Dorian notices how his brother’s gaze flits briefly to the knife. “There’s always next time.”

    Maybe just Neige, he tells himself. Maybe if the other two wake up in his blood, they’ll think twice before—

    “Dorian.”

    He takes a deep breath, then slides the knife into the makeshift sheath under his sleeve. “Yeah.”

    “Come on,” Veeran says, jerking his head in the direction of the barracks. “I saved you some food.”

    Dorian follows after his brother, glancing one last time at the Sith initiates lying unconscious on the floor. He’s suddenly reminded of a line from an old children’s fable, one he hasn’t thought of in ages, not since he was a kid in the academy on Ossus.

    The only monster you need fear, he recites to himself, is the one that lives inside you.


    ~~


    In the Valley of the Dark Lords, there is a man who was once a Sith. In those days, he went by a different name, a name he is still known by here, even if he no longer thinks of himself as that person. In truth, he’s not sure he ever really did. He was born Jacen Solo, and he will die Jacen Solo, and that hardly means the two are the same, for all that they inhabit the same body and love the same people. They call him Caedus here because he has never corrected them, and he never will.

    As Korriban’s harsh sun rises over the valley, Jacen Solo watches.

    In the distance, he sees the boy and his brother leaving the Sith fortress – probably without permission, if he has to guess. They hike through the valley before beginning a slow climb up one of the cliff walls. The same cliff where the boy encountered the tuk’ata the day before.

    Well, he thinks, this could end badly.

    They reach the ridge where Jacen last saw the boy. It doesn’t take long for the tuk’ata to find them. Like he told the boy yesterday, peace doesn’t last long.

    The tuk’ata bounds down from high upon the cliff, snarling viciously as it spies these interlopers coming too close to the tomb it guards. The brother shouts an order, but Jacen can feel something else, a connection flaring up in the Force, not strong yet, but stable enough to link these twins together in mind and purpose.

    Their lightsabers activate at nearly the same moment, almost in sync. So they’ve stolen some weapons from the armory, too? He tries not to smile at the thought of old Lord Bellus hissing and seething once he realizes some of his inventory has gone missing.

    The boy and his brother fan out, one on either side of the tuk’ata. The creature whips its tail back and forth, trying to catch one of them with its spikes, but the twins are too far for it to reach. They take turns approaching the tuk’ata, pretending to attack, only to retreat while the other attempts to strike.

    And still, Jacen watches.

    The dance between hunter and hunted continues for several minutes, and then the moment finally comes. The brother lands a blow along the tuk’ata’s flank, and the animal roars in pain and fury. It spins around to face its attacker, but the brother is ready. He throws out his hands, grasping, holding the tuk’ata in place with the Force. “Now!” he yells.

    The boy is quick, running forward, then dropping one leg to slide between the animal’s front legs. He stabs upward, straight through the tuk’ata’s chest. He pulls out and stabs again, and again, and again; and as the creature’s legs starts to buckle, the brother grabs hold of his twin with the Force and yanks him out of the way.

    As the tuk’ata writhes in pain, Jacen notices the boy has drawn the knife he keeps hidden in his sleeve and is approaching the animal once more. It tries to lash out at him, teeth gnashing desperately at the air. Then its jaw snaps shut as the brother takes hold of it with his invisible grip.

    The boy kneels down next to the tuk’ata, reaching out with his free hand to run his fingers over the back of the creature’s skull. Then, finding the soft spot between skull and spine, he drives his knife in hard. The tuk’ata’s glowing eyes grow dim, and its head rolls to the side.

    Dead.

    Jacen feels a twinge of remorse. The creature never really had a choice, did it? It was only doing what it was bred to do.

    The boy collapses to the ground, exhausted, panting hard as he stares at the fallen tuk’ata. His brother comes up behind him and claps him hard on the back, his excitement pouring into the Force, bubbling up like magma through cracks in the earth. His laughter echoes in the valley.

    The boy drops his lightsaber and his knife on the ground, winding his fingers through his dark hair as he curls his knees up to his chest. Then he lowers his head, hiding his face, and his thin body begins to shake. There is no sound, only a brief flash of pain so raw and intense, it takes Jacen right back to those first endless hours, days, weeks – he still doesn’t even know how long it really was – spent hanging in the Embrace of Pain, trying to understand, to comprehend how he could live in a universe where Anakin no longer existed.

    The boy’s agony vanishes, snuffed out by the wall he erects around himself. Jacen remembers that feeling, too. Closing himself off from Jaina, afraid to let her feel his suffering as he hung there, receiving an education in torment unlike any he’d ever known.

    The valley goes quiet as the boy’s brother watches him, suddenly unsure what he should do. Even though the wall separates them, the boy is still shaking, knuckles white as he grabs at his head, curled up in a small, pathetic ball. Jacen wonders if he’s imagining the scream that sticks in the boy’s throat.

    His brother takes a step toward him, reaching out for a moment before pulling back. Finally, he sits down near the boy, not quite next to him, but close enough for his presence to be felt; and he waits.

    After a few minutes, the boy emerges from himself, and he stands. There are no tears in his bloodshot eyes. He turns and begins to walk away. His brother reaches over and grabs the weapons his twin left on the ground, then he scrambles to catch up with him.

    “Dorian, wait up!” he calls out. The boy slows and looks over his shoulder, expression neutral. His brother holds out the lightsaber and the knife for him to take.

    Quietly, carefully, Jacen Solo watches.

    The boy draws in a long, deep breath, as if it’s the last breath he ever expects to take. He takes the weapons from his brother’s hands, hooking the lightsaber to his belt and wiping blood from the knife before slipping it back into his sleeve. Then he turns toward the ridge and begins his slow descent into the valley.


    Fin

    ~~

    Stories in this ‘verse include:

    Enter the Foreign – the genesis of this angsty 'verse! A time travel AU set in 51 ABY, in which Anakin Skywalker winds up in the future, meets his grandkids (including Ben Skywalker and Allana Djo Solo), and gets involved in their struggle against Darth Krayt’s Sith Empire. (in-progress; epic-length)

    The Lands of the Dead – 8 years before the events of EtF, the Starskip twins are captured by the Sith and must fight to survive. (Set over a 6-year period, from 43-49 ABY; short story, approx. 13,500 words)

    Where the Waves Shatter – 3 years after EtF, Darth Festus has his long-awaited rematch with Allana Djo. (vignette, 54 ABY)

    What If This Storm Ends? – Five times Darth Festus definitely wasn't in love with a Jedi princess, and one time she definitely wasn't in love with him. (Set over an 18-year period, from 43-61 ABY; one-shot)
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
    Kahara and Mira_Jade like this.
  2. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    Mine!
    Excellent carrying through of Dorian's psyche, how entirely he feels that any and all weaknesses have to be conquered, no matter how that's accomplished.

    There's our dark little Jacen :p He's such a bundle of contradictions, an unrepentant Sith Lord who loves his daughter fiercely and still likes animals [face_thinking]

    Still laughing at "very unenthusiastically"

    I could really hear an older Jacen in this comment. Feels very in character.

    I can just never think of Jacen and Jaina and Ben and Tahiri as older than teenagers, despite the abomination that was LotF, so I'm surprised every time in this universe to see them as mature leaders or jaded adults who've forgotten what it's even like to be the age I still think of them as. But you write it very convincingly!

    So he finds his clarity in leaning into the insanity, because if that's what his whole life is going to be, there's more control in embracing it than fighting against it [face_thinking]

    It is interesting - horrifying, but interesting - to see how a Sith could be made from childhood rather than an adult who knowingly chooses the dark.

    You do capture Dorian's deteriorating mindset and the stories he tells himself to hold on to some thread of sanity throughout his nightmare of a life very well, my dear. It's extremely impressive.

    Another bit of beautifully written agony :( You owe me so much happy!fic :p
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
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  3. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    I do try to be consistent. ;)

    It really is tragic how he takes a mantra that was meant to help him survive his torture, and he now uses it in all aspects of his life, berating himself whenever he feels he falls short and shutting out anything that might threaten his ability to be “strong”. :(

    I’ve really enjoyed fleshing out this version of Jacen and exploring which aspects of his personality would have remained the same regardless of where he fell on the spectrum of good and evil. It’s also been fun writing him as a man who has already been thoroughly defeated and survived that experience, only to be shunned by these other Sith Lords and then have to build himself back up. So much more satisfying than the Sith version we got in LOTF, at least for me!

    I imagine the Sith in charge on Korriban get a special delight out of relegating Jacen to training a bunch of murderous teenagers. No wonder he disappears into the wilderness half the time – I’d be very unenthusiastic as well. :p (I also picture the scene in Traitor where he’s in the nursery preparing to fight the Yuuzhan Vong warriors, and they’re being all fanatical and murdery, and he just seems so done with it all.)

    He always was kinda snarky, wasn’t he? :p

    Aging up characters and throwing them into a wildly AU setting is what I do best, it seems. ;)

    I really do try to make the characters recognizable as those kids we all knew and loved, but believably aged. Oh, LOTF… :rolleyes:

    I definitely think that Jacen sees shades of himself in Dorian – I think it would be impossible not to, with what Dorian went through – but I imagine he also sees shades of Ben, and that has to hurt just a little. And you know, Dorian is only three years older than Jacen’s beloved daughter, a fact which is certainly not lost on him. Sooo… Dorian as an emotional stand-in for Allana/Ben/Jacen’s own younger self? [face_thinking] Ah, complexity!

    I love this little ‘verse of mine. [face_mischief]

    This is an amazing summation of Dorian’s descent into madness/darkness, how did you even come up with this? =((

    Maybe kinda like if you took Mara’s manipulation and training under the Emperor and combined it with Jacen’s torture under the Vong… :eek:[face_worried] I was going to say, imagine if Dorian had been raised this way from birth… but then, I guess you’d have Darth Maul? (Which is its own kind of horrifying, don't get me wrong.) But I do wonder if the fact that Dorian lived among the Jedi for several years might actually make his transformation in some ways more extreme? Because his hatred of them ends up being more deeply personal than someone who has never actually known the Jedi. [face_thinking] Idk, kids growing up as Sith is terrible any way you look at it.

    Aw, thanks, Gabri. [face_blush] Even though I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on Dorian’s mindset at all stages of his life, it’s always good to hear that it translates well to the page, and that his psychological trauma and deterioration is believable and not trite or melodramatic. :)

    This scene was so painful to write, even from Jacen’s POV. And what you mentioned the other day, about the scene from Little Miss Sunshine? That is so spot-on… I watched that scene after you mentioned it, and it broke my heart again, and it was exactly the sort of emotion I pictured here with Dorian.

    In TLotD, when Dorian killed that other initiate and earned his “freedom”, I knew that was a turning point for him; but in keeping with his slow deterioration, I think he comes up against multiple turning points during his time with the Sith, each one driving him further and further into the darkness. The first time he tried to get on the doctor’s “good side” by watching himself cut open (and then being fascinated by the sight of his own blood); the moment he watched Ben get back on that ship and leave him behind on Yalena; the realization that he didn’t even recognize himself anymore because all the aspects of his personality that defined him have been so skewed; his first kill – which was self-defense, but still carried out in a horrific manner – and then here, with the killing of the tuk’ata, which I imagine as both a substitute for the people he really wants to kill, and as a representation of the monster he sees himself as… all of these things stack on top of each other and wear him down, until it becomes impossible for him to see a way out. That sense of hopelessness is exactly what Krayt is later able to exploit, setting himself up as Dorian’s savior when he offers him a place as his apprentice. :(

    I’m sure I had a point in there somewhere, although I think I just ended up repeating things you already know. :p But hey, I’m working on the happy!fic now, so that’s good, right? Enjoy it, because I’ll be back with more angst before long. [face_mischief]
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2021
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  4. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Great job! Dorian seems to have quite a few inner demons to wrestle with, which isn't helped by the way some of the other initiates treat him. Though I suppose that's par for the course with Sith views on strength and ambition. It's good that Dorian has Veeran, even if he doesn't allow himself to let his defenses down with him.

    The tuk’ata is a fascinating creature. Its actions even seemed to reflect the inner nature of the people interacting with it, which was very cool.

    This was a really interesting exchange. Jacen's question about the significance Dorian attached to his perception of being helped made me stop and think. That notion isn't something I'd ever really considered before in general, and it was an intriguing concept to chew on. [face_thinking]

    Dorian made some pretty hefty decisions at the end of the story. Hopefully he's on the right path to start letting Veeran in a bit more.

    Great work! =D=
     
  5. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    That was amazing. Absolutely drew me in and hooked me. Poor psychopathic Dorian. You make the character sympathetic enough for me to care deeply about what happened, without taking away from the fact that he's just quietly murdering his way to the top.

    I'm glad both boys escaped the Temple/Training. I think those two would be much better off on their own anyway.
     
  6. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @Thumper09
    Thank you! Dorian’s first three years with the Sith were pretty horrific, and that experience left him irrevocably changed. And it’s a bit of a process, opening up to Veeran, but he does eventually get there. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, since they are still training to be Sith Lords… [face_worried]

    My only real exposure to the tuk’ata was playing the KOTOR games way back when, so it was fun to bring them back here. They seem so murderous, but I figured if there was someone who could calm one down and connect with it, it would be Jacen. :p

    I wish I could claim credit for Jacen’s question about significance, but that was a direct callback to Matthew Stover's Traitor, where it was spoken by Vergere. Definitely a challenging idea to chew on, I agree! I did enjoy having Jacen put his own spin on that kind of conversation. Here’s the original passage from which I drew inspiration:

    Definitely not easy decisions for him, although after this he does start to mend the bond with his brother. (If you haven’t checked out The Lands of the Dead, that story covers more of Dorian and Veeran’s story, starting from their capture at age 10 and continuing until they’re 16. It’s a bit more grim than this fic, but it really does help give a fuller picture of the twins’ arcs, especially Dorian’s.)

    And thank you again! :D



    @Kit'
    [face_blush] Thank you so much! Dorian has become my very favorite OC to write, even if he is all kinds of problematic. ;)[face_mischief] I enjoy the challenge of trying to strike the right balance between sympathetic and terrifying with him.

    Alas, this was but a temporary reprieve. They’re not quite out of the woods yet, I’m afraid. :( But at least Dorian and Veeran have started the process of mending their twin bond, even if it will take a little time. (I mentioned to Thumper09 that there’s more about them in The Lands of the Dead, if you’re at all interested! That story goes until they’re 16, and then they show up as secondary antagonists in Enter the Foreign, when they’re 18.)

    Thank you so much for your comments! :D
     
  7. Anedon

    Anedon Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 11, 2016
    Pretty dark AU. Don't know these other stories but this was an intresting glimpse.
     
  8. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Though I'm not familiar with Dorian, you've done a great job of introducing him through his reactions and the events of this kind of "day in the life" of his time as a Sith apprentice. I like his snark and am worried by his whole stabby... thing. :eek: That seems like a bad sign. (Though it's useful for surviving his current circumstances.) It's really interesting to see how his connection to his twin brother affects things, sometimes more by his deliberate resistance to letting it exist than by its presence.

    Seems like that's not quite true, as we see from Jacen's POV later. [face_thinking]

    [face_laugh] Truly a terrible assignment. Interesting to see how Jacen has almost become this Old Ben Kenobi kind of hermit figure among the Sith, feared for his potential powers but also disregarded in a way. Makes me very curious about his ultimate motivations in being there, as he doesn't seem to have become a "good guy" as such but also considers himself to be just Jacen. And more specifically I wonder what his goal is in meddling with Dorian, if he's even aware of that.

    :p Takes one to know one, and isn't that a kick in the teeth?

    Advice from someone who knows all too well. Whether Jacen really cares about Dorian and Veeran not losing each other as he and Jaina did, or if it's some obscure plot of his own for the future I'm not sure. But it all definitely does bring back memories and what-ifs from the past.

    That is definitely relevant to his situation! It's always nice to see some complicated emotions and personality in the Sith, and Dorian definitely has both of those. =D=
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  9. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    This is a great look into the weight of guilt that Jacen carries around...that the only thing he truly achieved was to destroy himself. And his family. I keep hoping a day will come when someone will 're-introduce' their story and keep the Solo twins as they should have been: a beacon of light and fairness in a dark, unfair galaxy.



    Wow. Until a day comes when the SW universe allows the 're-boot' mentioned above, I content myself with the thought that there are others who believe that Jacen was never a Sith...that there was still good in him. Thanks!
     
  10. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @Anedon
    I dislike when the profic goes too dark, but for some reason I love it in fanfic. Go figure. :p



    @Kahara
    One of the things I’ve enjoyed exploring with Dorian is how his personality is impacted as he descends further into darkness and madness, but if there’s one trait that he maintains throughout his life, it’s definitely the snark. :p As for the stabby tendencies… yeah, they’re definitely worrying. This boy has some serious psychological damage. His first three years with the Sith were pretty horrific, and during that time his only real focus was on his and his brother’s survival. :( (For more on that, see The Lands of the Dead)

    The connection – and sometimes lack thereof – between the twins has been really fascinating to explore. I’ve got some links above to other stories featuring them, but TLotD is the one that deals most with their relationship and why Dorian shuts his brother out. I’ve had a lot of fun writing these Sith twins. I find them simultaneously tragic and hilarious and terrifying and heartbreaking. Right up my angsty alley. [face_mischief][face_love]

    [face_whistling]

    I love this comparison! I hadn’t thought of it specifically, but it really is true! :D And I’d say “feared for his potential powers but also disregarded in a way” is a perfectly apt description of Jacen’s relationship with the other Sith.

    All good things to ponder. [face_thinking] I will say that Jacen plays a small but significant role in TLotD, and the origin of this whole AU world is Enter the Foreign, which is still ongoing. There may be some answers found there (eventually), if you’re interested. :)

    I enjoy snarky Jacen. :p

    I agree, how could Jacen not think of his own past and what might have been? As for whether he truly cares about Dorian and Veeran, or if he some other goal in mind… [face_thinking][face_mischief]

    I’m so glad you think so! I’ve enjoyed developing Dorian’s character, and I definitely recommend reading TLotD if you’re interested in knowing more about his journey. He doesn’t have the happiest history, but I’m also not done telling his story, so maybe there’s hope?

    Thank you so much for your comments!



    @SiouxFan
    Fair warning: I do not know how to be brief. :p

    The downfall of Jacen Solo hurts me far more now than it did when I first read it. (And I disliked it back then, too.) His story has always been inexorably linked with this AU world of mine – I started developing it around the time Tempest came out, and when events in LOTF started to veer further and further off the rails, I decided to ignore most of those events and stick with the version of Jacen established in the first few books. Which was still not great, but I was trying to keep to the canon at the time. It was always my hope that the version of dark side Jacen I was writing for Enter the Foreign would be a better version than what we were given in the novels; but after I resumed working on that story last summer, I realized I still wasn’t satisfied with how I’d written him. So I reread Traitor for the first time in over a decade, and I felt almost heartsick, because how could the profic have gotten it so wrong afterward? (I also realized I have more in common with Jacen than I previously thought, which is perhaps why I feel so driven now to do his character justice.)

    At the same time as this, I was also working through some backstory for Darth Festus and Darth Ferrus, thinking that I might write a story about their origins; and as I looked at the timeline I’d created years ago for this AU, I realized Jacen would be on Korriban at the same time as the twins, and it gave me the opportunity to explore his character a bit more. The result was The Lands of the Dead and, eventually, this little one-shot. It’s my hope that, through Dorian’s eyes, you can see something of the Jacen we knew, albeit beaten down and lonely and resigned, but perhaps still working toward some purpose, even if it is hard to see what that might be.

    Wow, that was lengthy. I have a lot of feelings about this, apparently. :p (And I would love to see a world in which the Solo twins are a beacon of light in the galaxy. That was how I always envisioned them.)

    I don’t think Jacen should have been made a Sith, and he certainly shouldn’t have been turned into an imitation of Vader. I absolutely do think he could have fallen to the dark side – I think just about any character could, given the right set of circumstances – but I imagine his journey there to be different than what the novels gave us. And ultimately, I would have wanted redemption and atonement, not death.

    In my ideal SW universe, Jacen wouldn’t have fallen. In a slightly less ideal version, he might have fallen but eventually turned back to the light and lived to atone for his mistakes. This AU is nowhere near my ideal version of events, but I do hope that it at least makes sense, and that the characters and their decisions ring true. It’s challenging trying to reframe a character in a story that was originally designed around an inferior version of him, but I like to think I’m doing my best. This Jacen is still tragically dark, but I hope he is at least recognizable.

    And there I go again. Forgive my rambling, and thank you for your comments!:)
     
  11. SiouxFan

    SiouxFan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 6, 2012
    Hmmm....I must have gone to the same school!

    What I've enjoyed so far about Dorian's character is that you've still made him relatable. Yeah, he's pretty dark, and yes he has an unhealthy stalker relationship with Allana, but we don't have to squint to see how he got to where he is, and there are still very human aspects of his personality. I don't know if you have an end-game in mind for his 'pursuit' of Allana, but I don't think he'll have it in him to kill her despite his claims to the contrary. Who knows, maybe she can talk him down from whatever Sith cliff he's on and he can be more like her father is now....outcasts who will be forever trying to repair their souls.

    I actually tried the fool's errand of re-reading the post-NJO books, more as an attempt to separate what the books say vice what we think they 'say'. (The infamous 'quid quo pro' scene, for instance.) In the end, I gave up after 6 books...the three of Swarm War and the first three of LotF. It's not just that they got Traitor (and Jacen) so incredibly wrong, as you pointed out, but the leaps of storytelling that the used to get there were mind-numbing.

    Anyway, to keep this more about the story at hand, I truly enjoy the way you've kept Dorian 'organic' and not a cartoon. Thank you for this!
     
  12. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @SiouxFan
    Good thing, then, because this response is also long. :p

    This was the challenge I set for myself in writing TLotD and all these other side stories about Dorian/Festus – that I would take a character who was originally not much more than a frightening and creepy Sith Lord, and give him actual depth and humanity. In EtF, Ferrus comes across as much saner and more normal than his brother, and many years ago I became intrigued by a simple idea: what if Ferrus seemed normal because he hadn’t really changed all that much throughout his Sith training? And what if Festus seemed crazy because he went through such an extreme Sith transformation that it kinda broke him? I had that idea in the back of my head for years, and this past year I finally started writing the story of how that transformation happened. And now I can’t seem to stop writing about it, apparently. :p

    Long story short, if Dorian still seems relatable and human, even after reading how far into the dark he has fallen, then I consider that a huge success, and it makes me really happy that you can see all of that in him. My goal is always to be as authentic and honest as possible when writing him – showing his humanity without excusing his actions or downplaying his capacity for violence and cruelty. From a creative viewpoint, I’ve found it to be a very interesting and rewarding tightrope to walk.

    I do have an endgame in mind, actually, and I started writing it last summer, before I even wrote TLotD or any of these other vignettes. It was supposed to be a one-shot, something to give my brain a break from working on EtF (and to help me figure out what I even wanted to do with these characters post-EtF, or if they should even survive the end of that story). That “one-shot” is currently approaching 40,000 words, so yeah… it’s a whole thing now. Unlike these vignettes, I will not be posting it until after EtF is finished, which I hope to accomplish by the end of this coming summer. My track record is not stellar. :p

    Ugh, not gonna lie, that sounds awful. Kudos to you for trying. :p I’ve only read those books once, and I never even got around to reading Invincible because I already knew I wouldn’t like it. I’m still glad I never read it. I remember reading Revelation and quite literally wanting to throw the book against a wall. I know a few vague details from FotJ, but I never read any of those books either, and those events have no bearing on anything in this AU. I know I’ve mentioned it elsewhere, but when I started writing EtF, the Swarm War books and the first two or three LotF books were canon in my AU, and then the timeline split off. Nowadays I just say that DN and Betrayal basically happened, and then I just kind of handwave away whatever I don’t want to use and make up things that I do want to use. (For example, the One Sith being a thriving army by 43 ABY… implausible? Sure. Do I care anymore? Nope. One benefit of the EU no longer being official canon is that I no longer feel the need to rationalize every decision in terms of the EU or make sure that my continuity lines up perfectly with it.)

    I’ll be perfectly honest – when I first read Traitor back in ’04-‘05, I didn’t “get it”. I was a senior in high school and was reading the entire NJO in one fell swoop, so I didn’t take much time to process what I was reading before I went on to the next book. Traitor was a very hard read for me due to the pain and violence, because obviously Stover is incredibly gifted at making you feel what the characters feel, and boy, did I feel it. I was frustrated by Vergere, and like Jacen at first, I bristled at the idea that “there is no dark side”. I think I followed what she was trying to teach him, but I also remember being frustrated that Jacen wasn’t always giving the best arguments for his viewpoint, lol. Anyway, I moved on to the next book, and the next, and while I would have liked for Jaina to have a larger role in the final battle with Onimi, I was glad to see Jacen achieve what he did. (And as an Anakin Skywalker fan, I was delighted that “stand firm” was revealed to be his voice speaking to Jacen.) So as the NJO ended, I was satisfied with where Jacen was.

    And then DN happened. And I didn’t really like those books, but I was accepting of them because hey, that’s the story the pros were telling, surely they knew what they were doing? And even though the books had Jacen totally twist Vergere’s lessons, I bought into it. So when LotF came along and said “oh hey, Vergere was actually a Sith” I was like “okay, interesting, maybe that explains all those teachings.” But as Jacen went more and more off the rails, I realized the pros had screwed it all up and clearly had no better understanding of this character than I did. In the years since LotF ended, I have occasionally lurked in threads debating Vergere and Jacen in an effort to understand, and this past year I finally reread Traitor because for a long time I felt my portrayal of Jacen in EtF was still missing something. But now I do feel like I know Jacen Solo. Maybe not as well as some, but probably better than many. My AU version of him is deluded and broken and definitely dark, but he’s not the vicious dictator LotF left us with. I hope he’s a bit more nuanced than that. I’m certain there are others who could write a better dark side Jacen than I have. If I could start from the ground up, I’m sure I could craft a dark side journey that actually feels in-character for him. As it is, I’m just trying to make lemonade from lemons here. I hope it’s enjoyable, at least.

    And there I go again. :oops:

    Thank you so much for your comments! I’m really so thrilled that you’ve enjoyed Dorian’s character so far. :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2021
  13. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The Fanfic Manager With The Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jun 29, 2004
    VIIII! This story.

    The previous comments have already said it all and then some. I don't know how much more I have to add to what they've said, but I'm going to try. :D

    This so reminded me of the back and forth about Ferrus' aim in FoG. :p

    Eugh. Neige is a piece of work. A Sithy piece of work, which is saying something. o_O But you have to know that I just loved this bit. These brothers just kill me. They kill me dead. [face_love]

    Eugh; vivisection. [face_plain]

    DORIAN. Dorian, Dorian, Dorian. =((

    Jacen. It was hard seeing him in this story, not just fallen, but fallen from grace, in an odd way. The Sith with regrets but not quite remorse. And then there's that little bit of his former self in his relationship with animals and how he interacts with Dorian. (In a way - clearly he's still not the kid friendly type.) It's also sad, again, how Dorian has had interactions with Jacen that Allana will never have. It's an odd, twisted web connecting them all together. (Not that Jacen is in any way fatherly here, of course.)

    Very unenthusiastically. :p

    I LOVED the comments that compared Jacen to a hermit the likes of Obi-Wan in ANH, here, too. It's very fitting, in a sort of cloudy mirror way.

    They share a similar sense of humor. :p

    I LOVED the Traitor throw-back!

    =(( =(( =((

    Who exactly is Jacen talking about, there? [face_plain]

    - like matter colliding in a swirl of gases and dust - gaaah! Gorgeous prose is GORGEOUS. And I love how this metaphor can be referring to either the birth of stars or their collapse from supernovas into black holes. Epic work.

    And, paralleling Jacen and Jaina and Dorian and Veeran just hurt.

    [face_love] They're back!

    THESE TWO, VI!!!! THESE TWO!!!

    No matter what, they are surviving together. All throughout this story I couldn't help but think of my own sisters, and to what lengths I'd go for them - though, you know, without all of the creepy super evil murdery stuff, of course. These two have been forged from such an awful crucible, it's heartbreaking in every way. They just wanted to survive and help each other to survive. I don't know if they would have made it this far without the one holding the other up and inspiring them to fight.

    Oh Dorian. And it says something here that Veeran counsels him against his darker urges. They're still not completely down the Sith rabbit hole, and look at that but I'm just hurt all over for them.

    This entire ending: chills! Absolute chills.


    This was another fantastic glimpse at these fascinating characters and the world that created them. Brilliant work, as always! =D= =D=

    [:D]
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Your attention to detail, inner thoughts of a snarky nature, and intense emotion-filled dialogue is amazing here!

    Your Jacen/Caedus is multi-layered and it is incredibly intriguing reading about him having been defeated, not like he was before but not completely Darthy either as we see in the brief flashes of humor and giving Dorian advice, but especially in temporarily taming the tuk'ata.

    How utterly fascinating to read of Dorian and Veeran before they become Ferrus and Festus. =D= !! It lends a level of intricacy to their personalities and motives.
     
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  15. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fan Fiction Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Nov 9, 2002
    Vivisection, Vi. VIVISECTION. [face_talk_hand]
     
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  16. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 9, 2002
    @Mira_Jade
    Heeee! :D

    You know I always love reading your thoughts on these characters. ;) [:D]

    My poor little self-deprecating Sithling. :p

    Clearly there is a gap in Sith weapons training. o_O

    Neige is awful. Although a long time ago, I would have said the same thing about Festus and Ferrus without batting an eye, and now look where we are. ;) (But yes, Neige is the worst.)

    Lol, I love these stupid twins.

    I knoooooooow… :_|

    This poor, broken child. :( And he’s still thinking about his brother’s pain above his own.

    But really, imagine how Veeran must have reacted to this? It’s probably been weeks, maybe months since Dorian let him in at all; and now there’s that split-second of connection, those words, and then just nothing??? He had to have been internally freaking out. (Of course, once he realizes Dorian's alive, he goes and gets dinner like nothing's wrong. Boy's gotta eat.)

    Oh, Jacen. Probably one of my greater writing challenges, trying to dig through the ashes of characterization that we were left with after LotF and find something about his turn to the dark side that would actually make sense. Jacen really is in a weird sort of limbo here. It’s exactly like you said: he has regrets, but not quite remorse. He seems to have formed a connection with Dorian, but at the same time, from his POV we see that he remains emotionally distant, referring to Dorian as “the boy”. Is his true interest in Dorian because of their similar experiences with torture and manipulation, or because they are both twins? Is it because Dorian was raised among the Jedi, as he was? Or is it because he’s a link to the daughter that Jacen loves above all else? Then again, maybe Jacen is just a broken, defeated, deluded, not-quite-former Sith Lord, and there’s really no rhyme or reason to it.

    [face_whistling]

    He’s so unenthusiastic and so unimpressed. Imagine all these vicious teen Sith initiates who are probably used to more brutality and extreme displays of violence, and then just picture Jacen giving them a lesson in minimalism, taking only the necessary actions needed to defeat his opponents, but still totally dominating them. (I always think back to his fight against the Yuuzhan Vong warriors in the nursery, when they flew at him in a rage, and he just grabbed one by the wrists, dropped onto his back, and launched that sucker backward into the amphistaff grove. So simple and yet so awesome. And gruesome. Yikes.)

    He really is like a hermit here. A very complicated, dangerous hermit.

    They really do. Maybe another reason Jacen can relate to him. :p

    :D[face_mischief]

    Physical contact (or the lack thereof) is something I definitely think about when I’m writing Dorian and Veeran, throughout their lives, even as Sith Lords. For the first three years of captivity, Dorian’s only real physical contact was with the doctor, and yeah… that’s horrifying. And Veeran got the crap kicked out of him every day until he got strong enough to be the one beating people senseless.

    Anyway, Dorian is definitely starved for physical touch, and it doesn’t help that the only way he gets it now is through violence, whether he’s on the receiving end or is the one dishing it out. Here, he finally has that brief moment of connection with this creature, and what happens the next day? He kills it. =((

    I’ve also been pretty deliberate in how I write physical interactions between Dorian and Veeran... not that I'm saying you should go back through every story and pay particular attention to it... [face_whistling]

    Who indeed…

    The tuk’ata, Dorian, Jacen… all results of sadistic experimentation, each in their own way. But is there really any peace to be found in the dark? Even if there is, as Jacen said, it doesn’t last long, and the cycle of violence continues.

    [face_blush] I will admit to being particularly pleased with that metaphor, which I first started using in TLotD. I remember I wanted something that conveyed an inescapable, crushing sense of gravity, a feeling in Dorian that he couldn’t ignore anymore, a building rage and a compulsion to act on that rage, and something that hinted at the future waiting for him, one where he would finally embrace the darkness.

    So yeah, stars being born and also dying. Seems right for a SW story. :p

    Twin parallels are some of my favorite things, and I will write them every chance I get! :D

    So if I were to just write a whole story about Dorian and Veeran totally dominating the other Sith initiates, I’m guessing you’d be up for reading that? ;)[face_mischief]

    I really need to stop giving myself new ideas. :oops:

    What makes it all the more tragic though is knowing that their strength as a unit is directly proportional to the violence they display. What would have happened if Veeran had been the one experimented on? Dorian seemed to think his brother didn’t have the mental strength to endure it. So they might have both ended up dead, or at least one dead and the other insane. Dorian’s mental strength helped him survive, but in order to do that he had to cut himself off from Veeran, at least while he was being actively tortured. So while it helps them both stay alive and mostly sane, it also leads to resentment on Veeran’s part. And then over time you have Dorian retreating further and further into himself, not ever telling Veeran why he’s handling it the way he is. When Dorian is finally freed from the doctor’s torture, he gets a chance to reconnect with his twin, but that connection is reforged in extreme violence. And as Dorian reflects later on, his twin brother doesn’t really change all that much throughout their time with the Sith. He’d been angry and scared and violent before the Sith took them, and they weren’t always the best of friends growing up. But after everything Dorian has gone through, he too is a creature of violence, and that’s sort of what brings the two boys back together, stronger than they were before. Which is just horrifying and tragic. =((

    I know I just got done saying how Veeran was an awful bully and a jerk before the Sith took him, but that still doesn’t automatically equate with murderer, and he is clearly clinging here to that old part of himself that knows the difference between right and wrong. He hasn’t had his head messed with in the same way that Dorian has, and I think that day, when Dorian killed the other boy in the fighting circle – that was a huge shock for Veeran, that his brother could be capable of something like that. So here he is now, trying to protect Dorian from the other Sith and from himself. :(

    It broke my heart writing Dorian’s reaction to killing the tuk’ata. Like I said in one of the other replies, the creature really was a proxy for those kids he felt compelled to kill (and it was totally Veeran’s idea to go after the tuk’ata… perhaps to help satisfy that urge in Dorian?), but I have to think that Dorian saw himself in the tuk’ata – a horrifying monster whose only purpose in life was to kill for its Sith masters. And if the monster should prove to have a weakness? It dies.

    [face_blush] Awww, I’m so happy you enjoyed it! It’s a brutal, depressing world they live in, but I just find the psychology and interactions to be so interesting to write about. Exploring those darker sides of our nature from a safe distance, I suppose. [face_thinking]

    [:D]



    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha
    Thank you so much! :D For some reason I actually find it really easy to slip into Dorian’s mindset. It probably helps that I’m a bit snarky myself. ;) These characters and their world are as real to me as the rest of the established SW universe, so I’m sure that helps when I'm writing the dialogue and interactions. :p

    That was really one of my favorite parts of writing this particular fic, getting to explore Jacen a little more and actually get into his head for a bit. He’s such a study in contrasts, and I really love it. Plus, I get to play around with what I think a dark side Jacen would have looked like, versus what we ended up with by the end of LotF.

    I always enjoyed writing Festus and Ferrus in EtF, even before I had their backstories entirely fleshed out. There was just something fun about writing a couple of teenage Sith Lords, and twins at that, who I knew had once been Jedi. But now that I know more about them? It’s so, so tragic. And yet, I think it makes them in some ways more terrifying. I just love it.



    @Gabri_Jade
    [face_dancing] ANGST![face_dancing]

    [face_batting]

    This is all anyone will remember of me in the fanfic world, if they remember me at all: the girl who wrote vivisection.

    You’re welcome, fandom. o_O
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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