Before the Saga Noonflower - HaiKu Challenge response (AU, OC)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Kit', Jun 30, 2020.

  1. Kit'

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

    Oct 30, 1999
    Title: Noonflower
    Author: Kit'
    Timeframe: Prequel Saga
    Characters: Taeyn and Master Indoa - USJS OC characters
    Challenge: @Mira_Jade's amazing and inspiring Haiku Challenge as part of the Mini-Game Challenges
    Summary: Even Jedi are afraid of monsters
    Notes: A massive thank you to @Gamiel for the Mukdars which appear in another fic I'm working on. I borrowed them for this too and hopefully did them justice.

    Also I know how hard it can be to jump into someone's OC universe. You don't need to read any of the other stories for this to make sense (hopefully). Give it a punt, it'll be worth it. I promise.

    Also always happy for CritCon, feedback is good. :)

    ~*~ Part 1~*~
    28. The valour of the noonflower

    Even in the snow
    The noonflower does not wither:
    The sun’s light


    Taeyn turned from where he’d been staring out through the sleet and the snow, and headed back to where his Master was lying at the back of the cave. He was cold. A bone-chilling ache that had crept through his robes and into his frame. Somewhere back in the darkness, he could hear his Master’s shuddering breaths as the poison worked its sorcery.

    “I’m still here, Master.” Taeyn tried to keep his voice level, to keep the panic away from the edges. This was supposed to be a simple mission, just intelligence gathering from the local security forces as to why people had disappeared in the area. It had been one of those fly in, fly out type jobs. Nothing much to see, not much to do really, just fill in reports. Certainly nothing heroic or deadly, unless you could die of boredom or papercuts. It had been his idea to lighten up the mission by climbing into the foothills of Mount Pompinux to find the fabled noonflower. Some part of him had wanted to give one to Namia, to show her the beauty of a flower that grew amongst the snow. That had been yesterday. That had been before the things had appeared. The reptile men with their staccato laughter that had chased and fought and harried them higher into the hills.

    “Taeyn.” His Master’s voice normally so strong now had a fevered edge to it. Taeyn shut his eyes and tried to give his emotions to The Force but there was nothing there. Nothing but bone aching cold and emptiness. The warmth that had surrounded him his whole life had been sucked away by the reptile men, just as their poison was sucking away the life of his Master.

    “Coming Master.” He tried to fix a comforting smile on his face as he reached his Master. The back of the cave was moderately warmer, out of the wind where the eddies of snow could not reach. It had been his idea to rest here. They’d lost the reptile men as the storm had started but he knew they were still out there somewhere. He’d used what little Force sense had left to find the cave and half-carried, half-dragged his Master with him into it. Now they were stuck here until the storm eased, or the reptile men found them or help arrived. Taeyn had little hope for the latter, there was no reason to go looking for a Jedi and his padawan. Not when the Jedi were so capable, so determined and so foolishly sure of their place in the world. He knelt down by his Master’s body and bit the inside of his lip as he looked at Master Indoa’s pale face. The Togruta’s breathing was shallow and pain was etched into his expression making a mockery of the strong and wise Master he’d always been.

    “You have to run padawan,” Indoa’s voice wavered as he spoke as if each word was effort. “The Mukdar will kill you if they find you here.”

    Mukdar, so that’s what the reptile men were called. Force Eaters. He vaguely remembered Pynde-gard telling them stories of the Mukdar to scare them into doing the right thing. “Eat your dinner initiate D’levosh or the Mukdar will come and get you.” He shuddered. As a child, he’d been scared of these creatures who ate a Jedi’s ability, and, if you believed Pynde-gard, snacked on small children, but he’d dismissed them as he’d gotten older as a fantasy, like believing in Star Birds or Silans.

    “I’m not going to leave you Master. I don’t care what you say.” He found his Master’s hand and squeezed it, noting how cold the fingers were and the weakness of his grip. “I just wish I could do more.” He stared at his Master’s shoulder where the Mukdar’s weapon had entered. He could see oozing blood and could still feel the thick, yellow paste that had coated the projectile his Master had pulled out.

    “You need to run padawan. The pain is getting stronger. I will not live out the night. If you kill me now then you can run.”

    Taeyn froze. His brain could barely process what his Master had asked of him.

    “I can’t. I-Master-how-uh-I can’t.” The words came out as a rush. Despite the cold, his face was suddenly burning. Indoa’s grip on his hand was suddenly strong and powerful again. The Togruta half lifted himself off the ground and Taeyn could see the beads of sweat that suddenly appeared on his Master’s face.

    “You must padawan. It’s the only way you will survive.”

    Taeyn shook his head, tears prickling his eyes and leaving hot trails down his face.

    “Just wait Master, I can feel The Force returning.” He wiggled his fingers in the air as a desperate attempt to will his abilities to return faster, “when it returns I’ll be able to heal you. You just need to hold on.”

    His master gave a hollow laugh that turned into a whimper of pain. His face was white now.
    “It won’t be enough Padawan. I’m asking this of you as my padawan. Relieve my suffering and make your escape. This is the only way.”
    “I can’t Master. I just can’t.” Taeyn was sobbing now, hating himself and the fact that the reptile men, the Mukdar, had stolen away his one ability to make his Master whole again.
    “Padawan, you have been my greatest joy. You will make a wise and kind Jedi, but the only way to get become the Jedi that I have seen in my visions, is for you to escape now.”

    Taeyn shook his head.

    “I can’t Master. I can’t. I can’t be the one responsible for your death.”

    Master Indoa gave him a sad smile and closed his eyes. Taeyn squeezed his Master’s hand again and then closed his eyes in the cave’s gloom as the tears ran in little steaming rivulets down his face.

    To be continued...
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    :_| Oh you've already painted such a vivid, heart-tugging scene!!! I already like Taeyn but this seemingly inevitable loss ... it will definitely shape his personality and choices in times to come. How ironic that the whole thing started with a sweet intention connected with noonflowers and Namia.
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  3. Kit'

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

    Oct 30, 1999
    Thank you @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha, you are always so kind. Unfortunately the choice that Taeyn makes will literally change everything for everyone. I'm actually kind of worried that you're going to hate me when you work out exactly what happens and where Taeyn's place is in this universe.

    This bit is short but it was the natural stop point of this part.


    Taeyn carefully and tenderly let go of his Master’s grip. In colder air of pre-dawn, his muscles had locked into position and even though he could feel the warmth of The Force returning, he could not bring himself to use it. It had returned to late. Too late to help his Master, too late to ease the older Jedi’s pain as he had moaned and whimpered in the freezing air. Too late to stop the convulsions or the way his breathing had become laboured and blood flecked. Too late to save him.

    Taeyn had been helpless to do anything other than hold his Master’s head gently in his lap until the last breaths had ebbed away. He’d held him after that, until his body had started to cool. He’d watched the storm ebb and flow around the mouth of the cave as if nature itself was projecting his grief upon the world. He’d sat in silence until his fingers tingled with The Force. Until it flared, searing across his body and his mind, announcing its return and warning him of danger.

    Taeyn reverently lowered his Master’s head onto the ground and tenderly and lovingly arranged his hands across his chest and folded his robes. It wasn’t much of a funeral, but all Taeyn could hope for was that his Master’s body would remain undisturbed until he could get help. Lastly, he unhooked his Master’s lightsabre from his belt. He briefly thought about taking it with him, maybe it would be good to have two weapons when facing the Mukdar, but he couldn’t do it. He gently tucked the lightsabre under his Master’s hands and stood. The Force was spiking hot and sharp out in the snow. They were there. He had to move. Taeyn stood and rolled his shoulders back. He looked down once more at his Master and then stood and headed out of the cave and into the blinding light of the morning sun.
  4. Kit'

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

    Oct 30, 1999
    He didn’t know how long he’d trudged. The snow lay thick and soft and, even with the help of The Force, he felt that he was wading through mud. The snowflakes had snuck inside his boots and clung to his legs, sending cold rivulets down to pool in his socks . He’d just struggled onto a rocky outcrop to get his breath and his bearings when he felt them again. The Force normally flowed warm and comforting around him, but where they were was icy. Different from the cold of the snow and the wind, a soul-sucking, bone-breaking cold that leeched all the warmth from the air around it. Taeyn turned to see them standing and watching him carefully. There were no tracks, it was as if they’d appeared from thin air.

    “Look, the little pup has lost its master,” the smaller, and Taeyn guessed, younger one crooned.

    “Little pup is just right for us then.”

    Taeyn eyed them, calling his lightsabre to his hand. The Mukdar smiled, two wide green lips in a reptilian face. It blinked showing slitted pupils and its grin widened as Taeyn’s lightsabre sprung to life in his hand.

    “I will not give in to you.” Taeyn found his voice much stronger than he thought it would be. He wanted in that minute to scream at them, to hurl every one of the tricks that he’d been taught as a Jedi, to make them pay for what they had done to Master Indoa. For what he had done by letting his Master die in pain. The last thought caught him by surprise and meant that he almost missed the warning flash of the Force as the larger Mukdah fired its weapon. His muscles protested the lack of sleep and long trudge through the snow as he dodged it. The two Mukdah’s let out the short, staccato laugh that he’d heard when they’d first attacked them.

    “Ha. Ha. Ha. This pup is a fighter. He will make an excellent addition to our collection.”

    “I won’t go with you. You killed my Master, but you won’t take me.” Taeyn’s lightsabre thrummed in his hand. He knew the threat was an empty one. His Force abilities didn’t work against them. Everything that he and his Master had thrown against them yesterday, every push, every kinetic attack hadn’t been rebuffed like he would have expected, but had been absorbed. They had laughed their stupid staccato laugh and attacked with blasters and shuriken. It had been one of the metal weapons that had been laced with the poison that…

    Taeyn shied away from the thought, the feel of his Master’s cold hands and pain filled eyes still fresh in his memory. He spun his lightsabre and fell back, by habit, into a fighting stance. Just because he couldn’t win didn’t mean he wouldn’t die trying.

    “It is yours little one.” The taller Mukdar spoke pushing the young one forward as he did so, “he is small and weak. He will be good practice. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.”

    The younger one nodded and eagerly drew his own blade. Taeyn’s grip tightened as he waited for the first blow. It didn’t take long, the Mukdar crouched down onto all fours and then leapt high in the air, over Taeyn’s head to land on the other side. The leap was extraordinary and briefly he realised that this was why they’d left no tracks. They could jump inhumanly far. The Mukdur beckoned at him and Taeyn willingly followed.

    Taeyn struck blow after blow. He tried to listen to the ebb and flow of The Force, the warning flares and the eddies that showed where the next strike would be, but it was hard. The Mukdar seemed to suck the warmth from the air. Parry. Repost. Hit. Hit. Hit. Miss. The Mukdar’s blade came down heavily on his lightsabre and Taeyn stumbled, almost over balancing. The world spun and he realised that he’d made a terrible mistake. Just as he had yesterday when Master Indoa and he had fought them. Just as he had when he’d suggested trying to find the noonflower. Just as he had when he hadn’t followed his Master’s last request. Any use of The Force, even if it was just to warn him of the next strike was enough for the Mukdar to feed on.

    The Mukdar laughed. “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.” and kicked out. Taeyn felt like he was suddenly moving through treacle. The Mukdar’s foot connected with his chest and he staggered backwards into a snowdrift, dropping his lightsabre. He tried to climb groggily to his feet although the world refused to tell him which actual way was up. His feet scuffed the rock face dislodging a drift of snow. Underneath, the red blooms of a noon-flower gazed up at him. In that moment he could have cried. Instead he bent low and picked one of the flowers, slowly tucking it into one of his pockets, his body moving as if controlled by strings. He straightened and tried to call his lightsabre but The Force was only a luke warm glimmer on his fingertips. The smaller Mukdar reached him and grasped him by the shoulder.

    “And now it is time for us to feast, yes?”

    “Yes.” Said the older one, his grin showing sharp and pointed teeth. “Now it is time for us to feast.”

    The long talon like fingers closed around his arm and then there was nothing but icy darkness.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  5. Kit'

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

    Oct 30, 1999
    This was taken and partially rewritten from my Week IV Drabbles. Big thank you again to @Mira_Jade for her amazing HaiKu. Hopefully I did it justice and people have enjoyed this.


    If he closed his eyes he could still see her. Dark hair, chopped short. Golden brown skin. The way she tilted her head when she smiled.

    If he scrunched his eyes tight enough and didn’t make a sound her could almost smell her. Could almost touch her. Could almost imagine that he was holding her. That they were back on the grass watching the fireworks burst overhead. But that was never going to be. He could never go back. That was a life that he could never return to and he had to let her go. He stretched his hand out in the dark but no matter what he did he couldn’t feel The Force. He’d heard the Mukdar’s arguing about an accident and what they would do with him but he didn’t care. For now, he was alive and the younger one had said that even without The Force he would be useful. He didn’t know what that meant. He just knew that it was keeping him alive.

    He reached into his pocket and pulled out the little flower, its delicate petals were creased and bruised but it had still kept its colour. He stroked its delicate petals wondering why he couldn’t crush it beneath his heel to destroy it just as the rest of his life had been destroyed. Hot tears ran down his cheek. If only…but there was no point to the if onlys. They would never bring his Master back. They would never change his choices or make up for what he had done. They would never bring him back to her. He cradled it gently and tenderly. He would keep the flower but he had to let her become nothing but a memory. If he didn’t he would never survive.

    In the cold gloom of his cell he scrubbed the tears from his cheeks. He had to let her go to save himself. She would think him dead and she would move on. The universe was large enough that she would never know. That was how it would be. He would survive the cold just like the flower he held in his hands.
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  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Ouch! :_| =D= I'm speechless. A bitter loss indeed for Kithera.
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  7. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Oh wow, I did not figure out the connection here until the very end! :eek:
    It's so interesting to go back to your later timeline fics now with this in mind! And it leads me to wonder what happens if Kit doesn't leave the Jedi...

    It's really heartwrenching to see Taeyn struggling so hard to save his Master only to lose him anyway. (And ouch, the fact that he's asked to kill him -- I don't wonder that he couldn't do it. But in the end it didn't change a thing. :_|) Losing his connection to the Force, maybe forever for all he knows, is just the worst possible blow when he's already shattering. And he's left in about as dire a place as he could possibly be; it's up to him to find a way out with basically nothing to lean on as far as he can see. Interestingly enough, though, that isn't the end of Taeyn's story -- or at least it's the beginning of another.

    And then the end reminds us that this was all because he wanted to get a simple gift for Namia. It's so terrible for both of them -- him never being able to return (for whatever reasons that we don't know yet) and her never having full closure on what happened! =(( Because of course there will always be questions when there's only one body to be found for two lost Jedi... The loss of their strong friendship and the love that was growing between him and Namia is really sad. There was so much that could have been!

    Wonderful way of incorporating the prompt as well. =D= I like how the snow-blooming noonflower is the MacGuffin that kicks off the whole tragic turn of events, but with the symbolism attached to the noonflower of the haiku it also represents survival and hope in the midst of despair.
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  8. Kit'

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

    Oct 30, 1999
    I'm not sure if this is a Freudian slip @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and you've figured out who Taeyn is, but at this point Kit is only (check's the mighty excel document) five years old... Did you mean Namia?

    I'm kind of glad you did work it out. I was sort of hoping someone would [face_love] I'm trying to interweave so much stuff across all the different fics and sometimes I kind of panic that I'm making a hash job of it. So thank you :)

    The interesting juxtaposition is that in the original USJS part of Kit's backstory is that Master Zahalin asks her to do the same thing and she obliges. :(

    Yeah, I think I'm going to look at what could have been in the Summer Olympics challenge as an AU (can you have an AU on an AU?)

    Thank you. It's such a beautiful HaiKu and I ended up trying to research it to find the deeper meaning before I could put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?). I loved the idea of the noon flower surviving all things, just like Taeyn will try to do.

    Thank you for such lovely feedback. It's really nice to read and think about what worked and what didn't and where to from here.
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  9. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    LOL I should've said Namia ;)
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  10. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    LOL, I don't think you'd even be the first! [face_laugh] And I very much look forward to seeing it. :D
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  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    poor Taeyn, lost to the Jedi