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Star Wars Star Wars: Episode VI: Twilight of the Force III: A Son’s Destiny

Discussion in 'Role Playing Forum' started by Sinrebirth , May 4, 2021.

  1. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Star Wars: Episode VI: Twilight of the Force III: A Son's Destiny

    Vice-Chancellor Amedda?

    Chancellor Palpatine has been killed by Masters Windu and Skywalker. Execute Order 66.

    Yes, my Lord.


    [​IMG]

    That was forty-eight years ago.

    The Era

    Episode IV: Twilight of the Force: A Fathers Choice

    https://boards.theforce.net/threads...-a-father’s-legacy-game-is-now-over.50050594/

    To describe these events and do them justice would be impossible.

    So much happened.

    So much was lost.

    So much was saved.

    Star Wars: Episode V: Twilight of the Force II: A Father's Fate

    https://boards.theforce.net/threads...ght-of-the-force-ii-a-father’s-fate.50052376/

    What happened fourteen years after Twilight of the Force I, and fifteen years before Twilight of the Force III...

    It could be said that all the good done before had been undone.

    It could be said that the true strength of the galaxy had forced a stalemate, rather than a defeat.

    It could be said that they had doomed themselves in the face of what is to come.

    Now

    Fifteen years have passed since the Heroes of the Galaxy, be they dark or light, saved the galaxy from Darth Zorn and the Eternal Sith armada. But whereas the Dark Man had no plan to avenge himself in defeat, instead an Emperor arose in command of the Eternal Fleet, leading an Eternal Empire to fracture the New Republic. A third of the galaxy belongs to the former, and half to the latter. The rest is split between the Imperial Remnant, the Corporate Sector, the Bothans, the Hutts, the Tapani Lords, most of which are gravitating towards the Eternal Empire.

    From the current capital of Chandrila, the Senate has had a difficult time keeping order, even with the Unknown Regions blocked from access by the Empire of the Hand, but peace has reigned for the most part. Little do any of them know that a Sith Tribe has been trapped on Kesh for another fifteen years, when it may have nearly escaped during the brutal Battle of Coruscant. That’s not taking into account the Mandalorian clans, that have spent years growing stronger.

    The Second Galactic Cold War has been underlined by the knowledge that permeates the galaxy.

    The horror that the Dark Overlord of the Sith, Palpatine, the late Darth Sidious, has been reborn in a new body and is leading an invasion of the galaxy by the Yuuzhan Vong. The fact that their biotechnology will overwhelm the galaxy, delivering all manner of eldritch weapon upon a galaxy that is more disunited than it has ever been.

    The tragedy that Anakin Skywalker did not return from the Battle of Exegol, and nor did Mace Windu.

    The reality that the light of the Jedi Order has grown stronger still sequestered on Tython, but that the New Republic is only as strong as the Eternal Empire.

    Much hope by those few that know has been placed on the young shoulders of Ben Solo, the adopted son of Han, originally born to the long dead Darth Zorn and Darth Megaera - to Luke Skywalker and Made Jade...

    The destiny of the son will finally be revealed.

    Now.

    The day before Empire Day

    ---
    Faction

    These are split as follows-

    1. New Republic: Military
    2. New Republic: Senate
    3. New Republic: New Jedi Order
    4. The Eternal Empire
    5. The Yuuzhan Vong
    6. Independent

    The Rules

    1. Submit a sheet to the GM for approval before you post it here. Please also post it in the Resource Thread.
    2. Arb Sknynex, the Black-Coat and Ike are off-limits. Darth Sidious is also unavailable, but fifteen year old Ben Solo is available (in theory).
    3. The Timeline is based on ATA - After the Treaty of Alderaan, which is the equivalent to 0 ABY. We are in 29 ATA, or, if this were the ordinary timeline, 29 ABY.
    4. Combo posts with another player must be approved by the GM before, with them copied in
    5. Using the Force will result in fatigue; if you are not realistic in your use of it, the GM will have to impose consequences.
    6. Play nice, be civil, etc etc.
    7. Have fun! (The most important rule)

    New Rules

    8. All surviving players from Star Wars: Episode V: Twilight of the Force II: A Father's Fate have an automatic space in the sequel. A sheet will be required, and an approval bequeathed - ideally after the combo is done.
    9. Each returning player will have a combo for the past 15 years since Episode V, to fill out events between the two time periods. These will take place to the beginning of the game, or, indeed, have already been done(!)
    10. Any player from the prior game that reached the finale will be allowed a third player character. This will need to be approved in the same way as normal.

    Character Sheet

    Name:
    Photo: (If available)
    Age: (Update your old TotF II age by 15 years, if returning)
    Homeworld:
    Personal equipment:
    Personal ship:
    Faction: As above
    The Force: Yes/No - if yes, what level - Padawan, Knight, Master, Senior Master, Grandmaster
    Bio:

    This Game Will Begin June 2021

    @darthbernael, @galactic-vagabond422, @JediMasterAnne, @Jerjerrod-Lennox, @HanSolo29, @TheSilentInfluence, @darthhelinith
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
  2. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Just after Twilight of the Force II

    Madelyn, Leia, Alfred and Arthur regroup after the Battle of Exegol and Mandalorian aggression on Taris.

    TAG: @TheSilentInfluence
     
  3. TheSilentInfluence

    TheSilentInfluence Silent and Friendly Mod of SWTV and SWC star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 15, 2014
    IC: Arthur
    Just after the attack on Taris

    He hadn’t expected the clans to seize upon the beskar lode to commit to a show of force, but all he could say was that the speech had Palpatine would at least take the news attention from it - though Arthur doubted that anyone would have noticed with Nubia having just been eaten.

    The Senate was in utter pandemonium at this point, and the Tapani Sector, with its pro-NR faction mysteriously assassinated, had petitioned to join the Eternal Empire in a reverse of the Imperial Remnant dedicating to the NR cause now Moffs Lecersen and Ecressys were dead.

    But Arthur knew Madelyn would notice.

    With the family in tow, he set a rendezvous in a safe part of New Republic space and headed to meet her. He was nervous - she wouldn’t be happy about the attack on Taris.

    To say Madelyn was upset was an understatement. She was furious. She might be passing off the torch of Mand'alor to Tor, but she didn't need this to reflect upon them. It was like the Mandalorian Wars from ages ago all over again.

    Currently Madelyn was waiting on a New Republic shift for her husband and son, and she wondered how he was going to talk his way out of this. Or what exactly had happened. She sighed, feeling the start of a headache coming on.

    Their ships docked, and Arthur heard Alfred run in his unsteady manner to the docking port. Arthur hoped that Madelyn had brought Leia - they’d not been together for weeks now, and a lot had happened and indeed gone wrong. He heard the airlock cycle, took a deep breath and headed to greet his wife and daughter.

    "You're angry at Papa." Leia remarked as their ships docked. She walked beside her mother as they went to greet them.

    "Yes." Madelyn answered gently. "But adults have disagreements sometimes. I'm sure we will work through this one as well." She frowned a little, looking troubled. "I'm afraid you're father and I have...less then stellar communication skills with one another." She paused. "At least, lately we do."

    Leia nodded, and looked thoughtful. "Well, you should at least give him a hug Mama."

    Madelyn cracked a smile. "Yes, of course Leia." She sensed Alfred running towards them before she saw him and smiled at Leia again before greeting him. "Hello Alfred."

    "Alfred!" Leia shouted, and she ran to meet her little brother to hug him tightly. "I missed you!"

    Arthur smiled warmly as he saw the children draw each other close, and he stepped up, placing a hand on Leia's head as he was want to do. He squared up to Madelyn, shoulders slightly tightened as if was about to go into a bolo-ball tackle. Alfred had already looped out an arm to grab his mothers leg, and Arthur's composure was broken - he could only smile at them - they had survived.

    At one point in the recent week-long Second Galactic Civil War, as they called it now, most of the family had been feared dead, killed by Zorn's Force attack on Mandalore. But they'd managed to escape in the refugee scrum, but it had taken three days before they'd all caught up with each other.

    Madelyn glanced at Arthur with concerned before Alfred was hugging her leg. She picked him up and drew him into a tight hug, kissing Alfred on the top of the head. "I'm glad you're alright." She told them, and then placed Alfred down again.

    Leia looked up at her father. "Hi Papa!" She greeted him. "I'm glad you came home."

    Madelyn sighed. "Yes. It's nice that were all together again." She was still upset with Arthur, but did not want to show too much of it in front of the children. So she stepped forward and kissed her husband on the cheek. "Let's talk somewhere." Madelyn whispered to him as she pulled away.

    Arthur gave Leia a kiss on the forehead. “Look after your brother, Princess.”

    He headed off to follow Madelyn. Before the door was even shut he spoke up. “Yes I found a beskar lode, no, I didn’t think that telling Ka’rta would see her use it to armour an advanced starfighter and attack Taris.”

    Madelyn smiled at Alfred and Leia before turning to lead her husband to a near by room. She turned to him and listened as the door shut, but she couldn't help but be angry as he admitted what he had done.

    "You should have told me before you told Ka'rta. Now the rest of the galaxy is on edge because of what she's done to Taris." Madelyn shouted in a whisper. "What's stopping her from coming after the rest of the galaxy now that she has that power? I know the clans don't think I'm worthy to lead them anymore."

    “I couldn’t have expected Ka’rta would do that, how could I? Nor that the clans believed it was the right thing to do - there’s this Venku character, he’s pushing a Mandalore First movement - I didn’t know, honest!” He spread out his hands.

    Madelyn pursed her lips, and scowled. "I know I haven't been the best Mand'alor. But I still did what was best Arthur." She sighed and shook her head. "Mandalore first huh? That's not going to go well for them."

    She drew on the force and tried to relax. Looked at Arthur again. "Well, I suppose that me being Mand'alor won't matter for much longer. I named Tor my heir. She has the darksaber now." Madelyn turned and sat on a nearby crate, putting her head in her hands. Anxious.

    Arthur nearly had his own explosion - his voice was raised. “You gave away the Darksaber without speaking to me?! To Tor!? What about Leia - or Alfred!?”

    He held out his hands, spread wide, and then took a deep breath. “Let me try that again.” He breathed it out, sat next to her, and held her. “What happened, honey. You love being Mandalore.”

    Madelyn shut her eyes and sighed. She waited until Arthur stopped yelling and looked at him as he sat down and held her. "I gave it away because it was the right thing to do. I'm sorry I didn't talk about it with you first. But I never had any intention of naming Alfred or Leia my heir."

    She shook her head. "They are both force sensitive Arthur. The clans would never follow them." Madelyn looked away, upset. "I did like being Mand'alor, but that only went so far. I'm sick of not being listened to or brushed aside."

    Arthur took a few more breaths. "Sorry, Madelyn. I understand, I really do - being Mand'alor and being a Force user... it wasn't easy, not even with the Darksaber." He held her close. "So now what? Are we going to join the Jedi Order full-time."

    He hesitated. "Leia has a Master, after all, now."

    "It's okay." Madelyn said, although she realised her face was wet with tears. She hugged Arthur and rested her head on his chest. "I don't know. I'll have to see if they accept us too. Alfred will need to be trained." Madelyn admitted.

    “Oh come on,” Alfred said, warming to the idea. “Your master was Zey, you fought at the Battle of Mandalore and the Battle of Kashyyyk and Exegol. You’ve shown you can lead, can teach, can have empathy, that you’ve faced diversity all your life and not once allowed it to break you.”

    He nudged her with his shoulder. “I bet you get made a Master.”

    Madelyn laughed. "You make it sound so glamorous." She told Arthur before raising her head from his chest. "Thank you for believing in me. And I'm sorry I was so sore with you." She apologised. Madelyn leaned in and kissed Arthur gently.

    "I get it," Arthur said. "And I know you're mad with Ka'rta, too..." He hesitated. "But I don't think we should return to Mandalore anytime soon. It's getting bad. It's like Zorn wrecking the homeworld has radicalized the clans, as if beskar would have stopped a Force-eater..."

    He shook his head. "I'd feel safer if we were in the New Republic. Maybe I can be a hand-to-hand instructor? The kids will need training anyway, after all." He smiled at the idea of teaching.

    Madelyn nodded. "Yes, that would probably be for the best. I think you would be very good at that job." She tried to smile at him, but there was uncertainty in her voice. "We need to make the best of things."

    Arthur was content they had a direction, and things would be sorted. There was a crash outside the room, and Arthur stood. "Lets see what Alfred has done..." With Leia there, he wasn't concerned, but he wanted to bring the children into the conversation anyway.

    "Oh force." Madelyn sounded amused. "You're going to let this go to you're head aren't you?"

    "Can I?" He said with a grin.

    He squeezed her hand, and dove into whatever mayhem had just occurred.

    Madelyn sighed and smiled at Arthur as he squeezed her hand before walking out of the room with him to see what their children were up to.

    "Alright what did you break?" Madelyn asked gently.

    Madelyn sighed and smiled at Arthur as he squeezed her hand before walking out of the room with him to see what their children were up to.

    "Alright what did you break?" Madelyn asked gently.

    Madelyn opened her mouth and then shut it. "Break up? I love you're father and he loves me. Why would we break up?"

    “Because you argued with each other!”

    “Yeah, we don’t do that in-front of you,” Arthur paused. “It’s completely normal to disagree with people you love, because they are so important to you - it’s about how you do it which matters.”

    “Right?” He looked at Madelyn, smiling, and squeezing her hand.

    Madelyn looked at Arthur fondly. "Yes that's right. And sometimes adults have a hard time communicating, but we learn new ways to do that all the time." She kissed Arthur on the cheek and looked at Alfred and Leia fondly.

    "See, I told you they were fine." Leia looked at her brother.

    “Fiiiine,” he said. “Can I have an ice cream yet?”

    “Only if I can,” Arthur said, “and the glass is cleaned up.”

    Madelyn gave them an amused look, and nodded. "Yes, let's clean up first. Then we can get ice cream."

    "Come on Alfred. Ice cream." Leia encouraged him

    The family cleaned up, and then they ice cream-d up. They were a single unit of four among the stars, and the Jedi did welcome them to the Order, and Cilghal, Corran and Tresina revealed the secret that Ood Bnar had been hiding in the library of Ossus for their darkest hour.

    The secret location of Tython, the holy world of the Jedi Order. With Yavin 4 and Ossus compromised, and Coruscant so damaged, they had a new home, and all Jedi were to head there.

    They were the new Jedi Council, and they wanted her to join as a Master, one of four, to prepare for the coming darkness.

    They called it the Hidden Temple, and with it they would prepare for the Great War.

    Empire Day was less than fifteen years away.

    They had to prepare.

    To fight, to defend, to be guardians.

    There was a moment where the four of them stood in the Jedi Temple, looking out upon the stars. They’d passed half a dozen habitable but empty worlds here; there were plenty of mysteries and adventures to be had - Alfred needed a Master, Leia had her training to complete, an Order had to be rebuilt.

    A galaxy to be saved.

    Tag: @Sinrebirth
     
  4. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    One year after Twilight of the Force II

    Nola and Winter meet on New Nubia to absorb the losses they have each felt - and wonder aloud about Arb, Ike and the mysterious Black-Coat.

    TAG: @JediMasterAnne
     
  5. JediMasterAnne

    JediMasterAnne Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2004
    OOC: Combo with the GM.

    IC: Nola and Delan Deidder, Winter, and Gallius Rax

    15 ATA, New Nubia, then Oovo IV

    It took a while for them to sit down together - a lot longer than Winter would have wanted. With all the tensions and dramatics over the speech and declaration from Palpatine, it was a miracle that the New Republic still existed.

    But it turned out that Nola’s proposal to rotate the capital completely undercut any accusations that the Senate was going to try and repeat the failed formula of the Old Republic once again. The military spending and the extension of Feyna’s term meant that the government did not fall, not even with complete panic seizing the populace’s of many worlds wholesale.

    But it had been barely controlled chaos, and that meant Winter hadn’t managed to see her, or Del. She’d wanted to, because Winter knew exactly how she felt.

    Well, Alderaan had only been destroyed; Nubia had been made a monstrous cadaver that had been reanimated to serve Aryan Graul. Naboo had been glassed... Padme’s homeworld was gone.

    Metellos remained dead, Coruscant was devastated, while Mandalore was restored, and causing all manner of commotion by just not cooperating with anyone. It didn’t seem fair.

    But Winter knew that with the destruction of the government, the Senator usually ended up picking up responsibility for the survivors of the planet. Inevitably so, in-fact. The Nubians were just as scattered as any galactic population, so the people were not gone, but the Senate hadn’t the time to deflect from arming their half of galaxy to the teeth.

    So by the time Winter had managed to nudge through a law about reconstruction grants for Kashyyyk and other dispossessed nations, it had been a year.

    Winter came to New Nubia - a colony world set up by the refugees - and waited to be seen. She hadn’t expected an instantaneous meeting just because she’d said she was coming. Tycho was bringing Rogue Squadron and a convoy of supplies to the planet tomorrow - it was their year anniversary since they had began seeing each other in-fact.

    But she put that aside; she was here for Nola.

    The first thing she intended to say was ‘I’m so sorry’.

    To say that the past year had been difficult was probably an understatement.

    Nola had used all of her relief experience (from volunteering with her father during her teens, and she'd even resorted to using a few of his old connections) to try to get Nubia's displaced populace back on its feet. But it didn't feel like she'd been getting much help from anywhere, and it wasn't uncommon for her to occasionally skip Senate meetings now, too busy with her own people and their troubles to be bothered with the seemingly constant flow of military spending and construction bills. Some of those credits could have been going toward helping the survivors from the various planets that had been hit--Naboo, Coruscant, and Kashyyyk, as well as Nubia.

    She tried not to be too bitter about it; everyone was scared after Palpatine had revealed himself, and it had taken a while for things to calm down again. And the New Republic's forces did need to bring up their numbers if they were going to survive Skelm and the Vong. They probably wouldn't manage another massive alliance like the armada that had gone to Exegol, and they'd been stretched to their limits after that battle.

    But it was hard not to feel overlooked, from time to time.

    Nola hadn't seen or really talked to Winter or Feyna in the past year. They'd all simply been super-busy, she wasn't nursing a grudge or anything like that; she did know now where Feyna and her group had been during the attack, but she also knew that everything that could have been done for Nubia, had been done. Their forces had simply been spread too thin, reinforcements too distant to make any difference, the enemy's weapons too powerful.

    And Feyna had tried to reach out, to talk--the Chancellor was probably one of the only ones whose sympathies hadn't sounded hollow and empty, like they so often did. But Feyna, and Winter, too, had been in exactly Nola's situation before, and though she probably could have used some advice, or just someone to vent to, Nola hadn't had time for a more lengthy conversation.

    The message that Winter was coming to New Nubia came as a bit of a surprise, but Nola managed to rearrange her schedule to fit her in as soon as possible.

    "Come on in," she called, noticing the woman lingering outside of her office.

    Of course, the first words out of Winter's mouth were condolences, but like Feyna, at least she really meant it. "Thank you," Nola's almost automatic reply, as she gestured to a chair. It was just the two women at the moment; presently Nola wasn't sure where Del was, off doing work somewhere, she guessed. It seemed like they scarcely saw each other sometimes.

    "What brings you here?"

    As she'd only been sporadically attending Senate meetings, Nola was a little behind on the political scene.

    Winter swallowed, noting the automatic response of her words, and how Nola leapt right in. She clearly hadn't been able to spend much time thinking on things, and Winter had confided in Feyna her worries. She didn't know how many family members Nola and Del had lost on Nubia, but she knew it was likely they had lost many.

    "I wanted to see how you were doing, actually," Winter said. "I don't think a HoloNet call is personal enough, though yes I also have news from the Senate if you want a full debrief." She fingered a datapad and put it down on a desk otherwise. It was encrypted with the Assembly code, as it had all manner of sensitive information on it.

    "We could be better," Nola replied--Winter probably meant how was Nola doing, but she wasn't ready to get too personal. "It's not as bad as it was, but...well, baby steps, I guess. Even a little progress is better than none?"

    She glanced at the datapad. "I've missed the last few sessions, but it's all been defense contracts and more ships, when I do attend."

    “That’s all it is, at present. Balmorra is offering defence platforms to any world that can afford them; the Senate passed a law allowing individual sectors to field a full fleet group if they wish to; the federal fleets have been bumped up to targets of five thousand ships per deployment...”

    Winter’s eyes glazed over. “But reconstruction grants are also being discussed and resources being put aside to assist damaged worlds and refugee states. Systems such as Ruan, Duro, Agamar and Ord Mantell have all volunteered to accept dispossessed peoples.” Ruan was a Core system not far from Coruscant, between it and the Deep Core, commanding the heartland of agricultural worlds that supplied the New Republic - the Core’s Breadbasket. “Oh and Shramar, in Imperial space, too.”

    “New Nubia - and New Alderaan - they each qualify for reconstruction grants so you can apply and they should come soon enough.” Winter smiled. What had been given so far had been a trickle in comparison to what could have been sent, so it was all good news. The galaxy definitely seemed determined to be ready for what was to come.

    Nola's eyes glassed over, caught between so much relief, and disbelief. The Senate had finally passed a relief bill? She'd been missing more than just defense contracts, then.

    She did have a tiny moment of it took them long enough, but quickly dismissed the thought; it was ungrateful, and if she'd actually been attending the meetings, she might have known sooner, to try and help push it through.

    "That's...fantastic..." She managed to find her voice again. "That's the best news I've heard in..." Weeks? Months? "I'll make sure the application gets sent as soon as possible.

    "Thank you."

    Winter smiled broadly. "You are quite welcome."

    That was what she had wanted to say - to make sure that Nola knew they were here, and they cared, notwithstanding how mad it had been. "I genuinely do think that the New Republic is going to be ready for Palpatine. I can't imagine he expected we'd be this well prepared. The Mon Calamari are even working on a new Star Defender - it will be seventeen kilometers long. The prototype, the Viscount, will be ready in about a decade, but the keels are being lain for the larger variants."

    Winter was feeling, impossibly, hope.

    Nola nodded; as much as she'd been annoyed by all the military buildup, she knew that it was necessary, too. They'd barely squeaked by after Exegol, and Nola sometimes wondered whether it would have made a difference at Nubia, if they'd had more ships--

    No, there'd been no stopping that flagship, and the path of 'what-ifs' was a road best not travelled again.

    "That's good.

    "I do wonder, though, what kind of game Palpatine's playing--why would he explicitly tell us when he's coming?"

    It seemed like an odd move, to warn the enemy years in advance...

    Winter nodded at the question. “It’s the same thing everyone else is asking. Is he planning something we can’t anticipate? Is he that overconfident? Is he lying about how he manipulated Zorn?”

    She shook her head. “Let’s say he knew about the future... the one that was supposed to happen, or whatever. Surely at some point he’d lose the ability to predict things? The surprises that happen in the old timeline, sure.”

    Winter’s head hurt. The HoloNet was rife with speculation about the Change. Before Qwi Xux and Beaumont Kin had vanished, a degree of his speculation has been passed to academics, and from there they had managed to map events to a degree.

    That Palpatine was supposed to have avoided his death in his office fighting Anakin and Mace; that he was subsequently defeated later. There had been a few catalogued instances of people meeting their ‘other’ selves, people usually in mental institutes who were now sequestered in safe houses. But by and large it was known that Alderaan would have been destroyed in both instances, which was saddening to Winter... and Nubia apparently rarely featured, if at all.

    A memory, long-buried and forgotten in the chaos that had ensued after the original event, suddenly occurred to Nola. "Ike and Arb--they were with Palpatine in his address--Del and I saw them at the old Jedi Temple on Coruscant, when we went there to find Jyn Erso, to get the remote to destroy the Death Star prototype. There was a Black-Coat there, too, I don't know who he was and we never saw his face; he'd captured Jyn and taken the remote, and he talked about the Change. He wouldn't give me the remote unless I promised not to use it then and there, because he didn't want the detonation to spook the GEMINI droids before Feyna could speak to them. He said that things had to occur in a certain order, which implies he knew what was going to happen...

    "At one point, there were two of the Black-Coat, he said he could jump between realities"--since Norin had brought Arek over, Winter would know this was possible--"but when one of them touched the other, he...absorbed him?" She didn't know what else to call it. "They just became one Black-Coat again."

    Nola wasn't sure what Winter or Feyna or anyone could do with the information, but she hadn't mentioned it to anyone else until now. She didn't even know who the Black-Coat was; she didn't think it had been Palpatine--probably she, Del, and Jyn would not have survived that encounter.

    Winter hesitated. “That’s insane.”

    She was trying to keep up. “So this... Black Coat wanted things to happen in a certain order, and then his allies turn up with Palpatine?”

    The woman frowned. “Ike, the Black Sun Underlord, who was keeping tabs on Qwi and Pascale... Qwi, who was key to Thrawn’s Starkiller weapon... and Ike hired Boba Fett to keep us from getting Aryan...”

    “... and Arb, who was working for Qi’ra, and then turns up connecting the dots between things... as well as here, on Coruscant...”

    Winter shook her head. “I think I saw a Black-Coat, once... Fleet Admiral Rax had one... we took it into custody and it vanished... and Rax was hiding in the Maw with a Neo Imperial fleet... the same Maw that hid a Chaos creature, thing, that killed Grandmaster Ood Bnar... and we found the Death Star prototype in...”

    Her eyes widened. This was big.

    “This Black-Coat knows about the Change; he knew about it before the rest of us.” She hesitated. “But he still let Treen get blown up, still helped Aryan take the Eternal Fleet, and kept Thrawn from getting Qwi... what kind of plan is he running?”

    Nola shook her head, unsure. "Ike also tried to stop me and Del when we left Norin's apartment that last time." When they'd been trying to get the unconscious Winter back to the Chancellor.

    "And maybe the Black-Coat you saw was the double?" It would explain the disappearance, if he was one of the two Black-Coats at the Temple.

    "If he's ensuring that certain events occur in a certain order, he's trying to steer the galaxy in a particular direction. If I had to guess, the Black-Coat either serves Palpatine--he did play both sides during the Clone Wars, before the Jedi found him out...or he serves something else we don't know about."

    "Great," said Winter, pouting. "Another faction."

    "We're a bit villain heavy with Palpatine and the Yuuzhan Vong, then Thrawn and the Empire of the Hand, then Aryan and his Eternal Empire... let alone whatever Ka'rta is doing..." she shook her head.

    "Which just makes it more important we get ready for Palpatine, and keep Aryan from making any big plays..." Winter thumbed her chin. "Can we keep this to ourselves for now, Nola? I want to dig into a few things and work it out."

    Nola nodded. "I won't say anything. I'd forgotten all about it until now; probably Del has, too.

    "He also told us he was looking for a new 'Braata?' If that helps; I don't know what it means. He said the last one tried to kill him."

    Winter twitched. This was an old memory. So old she had to go back to school days.

    "Braata was one of the four Sages of Dwartii... they were Nouanese philosophers who gave advice to the human Core worlds before the Republic was founded... they're demagogues more than anything." She frowned. "Sistros, Braata, Faya, Yanjon..." Another twitch of memory. "Palpatine had statues of each of them in his office, and they, well, they vanished during the Empire's fall, as well as a fifth statue - an Atrisian demi-God named Wapoe, a trickster deity."

    Winter frowned. "Nouane was where Pascale, Qwi and Ike were hiding out."

    "This is above my head - I wish we had Beaumont Kin around. Arhul Hextrophon is an Aldereaanian I used to know who was deep into pre-Republic lore, but he's rumoured to have taken a research posting for the Eternal Empire somewhere..." Winter hesitated. "There's definitely something there we need to pick at..."

    "... I remember now - the Vice-Chancellor's Staff of Office - it had Sistros atop it. That vanished too, until it turned up in Palpatine's broadcast..."

    Connections and connections, but Winter had no idea what it meant. "Shall we go speak to Rax?" Winter decided. "If he's met the Black-Coat...?" She flipped open her datapad. "He's in a high security cell on Oovo IV."

    "Okay." Nola wasn't sure what else she could contribute, but perhaps talking to Rax might jog her memory more.

    And as much as she felt guilty leaving the refugees right now, New Nubia could handle itself for a little while; she didn't need to personally do everything.

    "Should I get Del?"

    Winter shrugged. "Girls trip, perhaps?" A quirk of a smile. "Is there anything we need to remember before we go?"

    It was down to Nola if she brought Del.

    Nola shook her head. "I don't think so, but let me tell him where we're going, and I'll get him on that grant application."

    "Oovo IV," Winter said, smiling. "We can take my skiff. It's quick, after all."

    She began to head off, and get the ship prepped for launch, giving Nola a moment to catch up with Del.

    Nola dug her comlink out of the clutter on her desk, and punched in Del's code.

    "Hey, where are you?"

    “Behind you,” he said, coming into the hangar off-room from the other door. He grinned, cut the comm line before that double echo effect kicked in. He looked up. “Winter’s leaving already?”

    Nola smiled, tucking away her comm. "We'll be back--I'm going with her to Oovo IV; we need to talk to Rax about that Black-Coat we saw at the old Temple on Coruscant."

    Del nodded. “Well, that sounds positively unfun. Do I need to come?” He sounded like he wanted to be anywhere but. “I will, if you want, of course.” His second try was a bit more positive.

    She shook her head. "No, you don't have to come, and I have a different chore for you, if you don't mind.

    "The Senate finally got a relief bill through to offer assistance to displaced populations. New Nubia qualifies, but there's still an application process to go through...could you handle that while I'm gone?"

    Del’s eyes lit up at the idea of relief aid, and narrowed at the idea of a form. “I think consorting with a mad Imperial Admiral sounds more fun than an application.” He stuck out his tongue. “But sure.” He leaned over to kiss her.

    “Remember, insanity is catching. I don’t want any.” He grinned.

    Winter was ready to go, peering out the viewport, engines keyed to go.

    Nola smirked at his jesting, but kissed him back. "Thank you."

    Seeing Winter was ready to go, she gathered up a few travel necessities. "I'll see you when we get back." She went to kiss him again. "Love you."

    “Love you too,” he kissed her back, one more time. “Come home soon.”

    It didn’t take long for them to reach Oovo IV, for it was still in New Republic territory. The Perlemian Trade Route was heavily patrolled by New Republic, Imperial and Hapan forces, connecting Mon Calamari and New Alderaan to the Core Worlds. There was finally a sense of security forming, especially now the fleets damaged at the Battles of Exegol and Coruscant had been fully repaired.

    The prison warden had no problems with two Senators meeting with Rax. In the Ortolan’s words. “It keeps him from freaking out the other prisoners and I can’t keep him in solitary all the time.”

    In short order they would be sitting in a room as the former Imperial Fleet Admiral was escorted in. He threw a quizzical look at them each as he was cuffed to the table. “Do I know you?”

    Nola wanted to ask the guard about just what Rax was doing that bothered the other inmates, but perhaps after.

    "No, but I believe we have a mutual acquaintance," Nola replied; she wasn't sure how comfortable she was with this guy, so the less information she had to share about herself, the better. "We're here to ask you about Black-Coat."

    Rax shrugged. “What is there to say I haven’t already?”

    “Tell us anyway.” Winter insisted.

    A sigh. “He came to me with a wayfinder to Exegol, and told me to wrap it in a black cloak. He told me more about my role in the Maw - that I was sending diseased victims into the deeper-most zone to keep a Dark Goddess at bay - that my role had been Changed when Palpatine knew what he should not.”

    He grimaced. “The barve hinted that Palpatine was dead, too, so he properly manipulated me. I spent fifteen years building the First Order, my rogue little part of the Contingency. To think, I met Palpatine when he was still Chancellor...”

    Winter hesitated. It was logical that Palpatine found out about his defeat before his death at the hands of Mace and Anakin, having set up whatever dark mad science on Exegol to resurrect himself.

    “Do you know about the Anzati?”

    She kept her expression neutral.

    "The one possibly connected to the death of Master Bnar?"

    Nola had heard a mention of an Anzati causing trouble in the Maw; Winter herself had mentioned him during the group comm-call with Saxan and Sal-Solo, when Han Solo had brought Nola, the Chancellor, and their companions to Corellia after the Battle of Coruscant.

    "His name is Bernael," Rax said. "He's terribly powerful - he consumed the souls of the Maw Colony - a million men and women, in an instant. He arrived from the Core, the Negs - where I gather you lost Metellos to a non-Zorn related problem."

    "But yes, he certainly slew Master Bnar... and the creature that escaped the Maw, too, Abeloth, who your Jedi took down." He didn't know about her survival and subsequent rematch with Vhardia, Leia and Madelyn on Yavin 4.

    There'd been some speculation, Nola'd heard, that an Anzati was responsible for Metellos, but unless Winter knew something she didn't, this was the first she'd heard that anyone had given any concrete statement to that effect.

    "Where do Ike and Arb fit in?"

    Rax shrugged. “That I do not know. First I heard of him was as Qi’ra Ananke’s second in command in Crimson Dawn. But shortly after she became Grand Vizier he vanished... next I heard he’d been shot up by those two Mandalorian Heroes - Madelyn Linnett and Ka’rta.”

    “My criminal contacts knew of Ike as the reason head of Black Sun after Pascale Rouser vanished... and Arb was his fixer. But they were keeping tabs on Qwi Xux too.” The name of the woman who caught him caused his expression to acquire a sardonic edge. “And now she’s vanished and he and Ike are chumming it up with Palpatine.”

    Rax leaned on the table, the cuffs noisily moving as he did. “I wondered if they were working with Palpatine - if Thrawn got his blue hands on blue Qwi, he’d’ve been able to finish that Starkiller weapon.”

    Winter managed a diplomatic comment. “You’re very well informed.”

    He laughed. “Not really. I’ve just had time to speculate and put ideas together. I try to talk to the inmates, but most of them are small time, pathetically so even, and are scared of the idea of a mysterious but charismatic Black Coat ruling our fate - or Palpatine having mastered time.” A shrug.

    His head turned to Nola. “Very sorry to hear about Nubia, incidentally. It seemed lost in all the Palpatine hysteria and that wasn’t fair on you at all.”

    Nola pursed her lips, not buying into his appearance of sympathy, and even wondering if he was using it in an attempt to provoke some kind of reaction from her.

    She tried to steer them back on topic. "Is the Black-Coat connected to Palpatine?"

    “I don’t know,” Rax said, honestly. “The Black-Coat seems aloof, but there’s no denying that his actions assisted you all in defeating Zorn and in stymying Abeloth, but also in dividing the galaxy before Palpatine makes his next big move. A relatively specific chain of events had to occur - even my bringing the prototype to Coruscant.”

    He wondered aloud. “So he seems to be helping Palpatine, even if Palpatine would turn on him in an instant if need be.”

    Winter snorted. “Which is why you served?”

    “I stopped following Palpatine’s orders decades ago. I was never instructed to build the Maw Colony, or the First Order. I was supposed to lure the New Republic and Empire to Jakku.” A shrug.

    Nola decided to take the bait. "What's on Jakku?"

    Rax oozed amusement. “Why would I tell you that? I’m already servicing multiple life sentences, after all.”

    “You’re haggling?” Winger said, unsurprised.

    “You won’t find the Contingency on Jakku. Palpatine set it up while he was still Chancellor - he was already preparing for his death before the Clone Wars!” Rax shook his head. “He was sure it would be entirely hidden once it was finished.” His tone was prideful. “But I set up the facility, so of course I know where it is.”

    Nola ground her teeth behind her carefully calm countenance. He was being less cooperative; probably they wouldn't get much more out of him. "I don't suppose you're going to tell us what the Contingency is, either."

    "Well, that's me," Rax said proudly. "It was my job to chop at the Galactic Empire when Palpatine died and kill it. He is a spiteful one, after all, and it had failed him. But I changed my plans, as I didn't see the need to be a patsy to a dead man."

    A shrug.

    "I'd be interested in negotiating down my sentence, of course."

    Winter snorted. "We could just not go to Jakku, y'know. It's more likely to be a trap, than not." She went to stand. "I think I've heard enough. Nola?"

    Nola didn't rise, just yet. She was curious about what 'facility' Rax was talking about, but: "You said yourself, you're serving multiple life sentences. The most you'd probably get is a few more privileges, not a reduction."

    And truth be told, Nola wasn't sure giving Rax more privileges was a good idea; he was a wily sort, from what she'd heard, what if he escaped?

    "Privileges..." Rax went to steeple his fingers on his chin and realised he had to lower his head due to the handcuffs, instead settling for linking his fingers. "How about this. I'll tell you more if you let me speak to Qwi Xux. Do that, and I'll give you what you want."

    He looked very satisfied with himself.

    Nola stood. It appeared they were done. "Xux is long gone."

    No one knew where she was now; Feyna had quietly pardoned her after last year's chaos--Han Solo, too--but Nola couldn't say whether the Republic was still looking for her or not.

    Rax shrugged. "That's my price, I'm afraid."

    "It is, after all, where Palpatine stored his Holocron of Prophecy. Y'know, the one that let you see the future... of the old timeline, that is." He smiled sweetly. "It's jet-black. I've seen it. Very weird."

    If he was trying to tempt her with what could-have-been, well, Nola already knew what her life would have been in the other timeline--or Black-Coat's version, anyway, so its truth might be questionable, but she wasn't that curious.

    "What is your interest in Xux?" She asked, bypassing the holocron.

    “Secret,” Rax said.

    Winter pulled a face. “Come on, Nola. He’s playing you.”

    A guard tapped at the door and stepped through without another word; not even asking permission. He cast his eyes over Nola and Winter briefly, and then narrowed them at the former Imperial. “You are Gallius Rax?”

    His voice was off, harsh and yet alien.

    But he was clearly human -

    Nola glanced to Winter, suspicious; she was fairly sure that wasn't protocol, and surely every guard in the prison knew who the high-profile inmates were.

    She hadn't forgotten the Yuuzhan Vong, how they could disguise themselves enough to pass for human...

    "Of course I am," snapped Rax. "How dare you -"

    The guard squinted, and a gout of acid emerged from an eye -

    Rax screamed -

    Winter shouted out -

    Yep, was afraid of that.

    Nola grabbed her chair and hurled it at the 'guard,' hoping to get him off balance and throw off his aim before he did too much damage, then drew her blaster and started firing.

    All the commotion would probably draw more guards--real guards, preferably; this one had better not have friends in here...

    The Yuuzhan Vong - what else could it be? - shrugged aside the chair and snarled, flexing a hand to allow a sessile snake to flow down it's wrist. As Rax writhed in pain, still tied to the table, Winter drew her own weapon and fired at the amphistaff head before it became solid, and the creature went limp -

    Nola's bolts took the enemy in the chest, sending him tumbling -

    He didn't have armour on, and he was no more dangerous than a strong, oversized human -

    He came up wielding the chair Nola had thrown at him, smacking Winter across her shoulder and sending her tumbling -

    He threw it at Nola with the backswing, his body blackened and one arm no longer working -

    Nola ducked the chair, still firing, aiming now for his head and neck--

    The chair exploded with the impact - he was so strong! -

    But the bolts caught him in the face, neck, forehead -

    He toppled.

    Rax stilled.

    Winter took one look at him and shouted out as the door opened - too late - with reinforcements.

    "MEDIC!"

    Nola stepped over to check Rax. "Was he hit with the acid?"

    Her gaze went to the dead Vong. "How in hells did he get in here?"

    Somebody had a lot of uncomfortable explaining to do...

    This was supposed to be a max-security facility, and after the embarrassment of three escapes from the Isard prison on Coruscant--Qwi Xux, Aurra Sing, and Arb Skyxnex, all within a few days of each other--Feyna had encouraged a crack-down on the federal prison protocols, both in security practices and vetting personnel and visitors. Nola had been surprised that she and Winter had been allowed to keep their blasters on them, but Senators did enjoy a certain amount of privilege, and Rax had been cuffed during their visit.

    "We're still testing the sensors for their biotech," Winter said. "It's hard going but it's no worse than Force user security..."

    A guard stepped over and checked Rax's neck, avoiding the rather gristly acid-burned face.

    "He's dead, Senators. I'm sorry, we had been making sweeps, but we don't know enough about these masques..."

    Winter hesitated. "But Yarmond is here?"

    The guard nodded. "He is. I checked on him not five minutes ago."

    Her gaze took in Rax, who was covered by a sheet. "So they came for Rax but not Yarmond..."

    Nola scowled as she straightened. Whatever other information Rax might have had, they'd never know now.

    "Probably because Yarmond hasn't talked much; I guess Rax became a liability."

    As far as Nola knew, Yarmond hadn't been very forthcoming when he'd been questioned last year; just Yuuzhan Vong rhetoric, though he had been the one to spill some beans about Aryan Graul's meeting with then-Senator Treen.

    "Or Palpatine finally caught up with him for not following orders." Rax had been pretty cavalier about abandoning Palpatine's plans.

    Winter nodded. “I mean Jakku is in Eternal Empire territory. Inner Rim, but in the Western Reaches. Whatever investigation we’re going to pull off will have to be later, and with NRI help.”

    She looked at Rax’s form. “I guess that’s all he’s going to tell us.” Winter looked to Nola. “I don’t know about you but I’m ready to go home.”

    Nola nodded in agreement. She was ready to get back to Del, and start working on plans for what to do with the relief funds.

    "Yes, let's."

    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
  6. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Two years after Twilight of the Force II

    A Black-Coat reminisces.

    TAG: No-One
     
    darthbernael likes this.
  7. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    IC: The Black-Coat

    [​IMG]

    Oh?

    I get my own profile?

    How much attention can a non-descript wearer of the Black-Coat get?

    That much?

    Well, well.

    Not all of you know me, of course, nor my associates Arb and Ike.

    [​IMG]

    Arb Skynxnex, also known as Zas'tel

    [​IMG]

    Ike, also known as - whoops - spoilers

    Others of you do; no doubt.

    I’ve crossed a few world-lines by now, you see.

    I’ve turned up as Samhain, of course, and the Jester, enabling a few wheels to turn here or there. Only once have I been the Foreteller, and most of that time I spent as a skull (long story). My Sith title? Darth Trayus. Catchy, but they like to name things so what can you do. I’m known with a flourish as the Master of Masters, yes, and also as Wapoe, the so-called demigod of deceit and disguise - not to forget my role as the Professor, of course.

    But who am I?

    I couldn’t say.

    But I know you; you know me.

    I’m that niggling thought in the back of your mind - the worry that you could have done things differently, the panic that you’ve misplayed the cards you drew from the Deck of Life. You peer at your alternative existence, the one where you don’t do that, or you do seize that opportunity. Or that thing never happened to you.

    I am your regrets, your crushed dreams, and your saddest nightmares.

    I am none of those things.

    I am all of those things.

    So, everyone by now knows about the Change.

    The idea that the Force has a flow, and a fixed endpoint. It does, actually - I sent something or other forward into the future and watched it go through my Eye. So I created a single timeline, and wrote the Holocron of Prophecy - telling a tale of thirty-five millennia of utter tragedy - war upon war upon war. Planets burned, peoples massacred, Jedi and Sith conflict without end or purpose. Not nice.

    I made four of them, by the by - the Holocrons that is.

    Step one.

    Then, I worked to undermine the Gods. The Celestials known as the Ones in this reality; the Father, the Son, and the Daughter. With them gone, one could get to ones true work. It wasn’t easy to create a tonal galactic shift, but along came red-haired Palpatine and his very existence made the Father sicken.

    With some tacit nudges of course.

    Step two.

    Without their ability to adjust whatever Changes I wrought, I could commit the cosmos to the End of Time; a galactic wipe of the slate, designed to end the wars between those grand archetypes; the Light and the Dark, those concepts the Force tries to Balance and kills trillions in the meantime.

    Here’s where it went wrong.

    When you’re playing Chess, it’s a bit of a problem when the pieces become self-aware - y’know, and start moving themselves.

    My big old black King may have realised what I was up to and made his own plans. Naughty fella. So here we are - in a pocket reality created by Palpatine.

    It needs to End.

    This realm of perpetual Twilight, a mere forty-eight years old, is the ultimate threat to all realities. From here, Palpatine could invade other world-lines, once he wins the Great War to come.

    So, I’ve done my bit.

    Now you’ll do yours, and stop him...

    ... but don’t worry, you won’t stop the End.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  8. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Three years after Twilight of the Force II

    Mandalore the Vengeant has a call from the Speaker of the Roche Asteroid Field... what will arise as a result of it?

    TAG: @galactic-vagabond422
     
  9. galactic-vagabond422

    galactic-vagabond422 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2009
    (OOC: A combo post between @Sinrebirth and myself)

    IC: Ka'rta Mandalore the Vengeant

    This call probably would have come a lot earlier, if not for the announcement made by Palpatine. When that had happened, pandemonium had ruled - the Tapani Sector, which had been wavering between the Eternal Empire and the New Republic, joined the former when House Mecetti realised that its rival House had been decapitated in the days before. The Bothans and Hutts declared armed neutrality, and there was a great clamour against the New Republic - a rumour that Coruscant was to be rebuilt again and become the heart of the Galactic defence caused member worlds to demand defences at the expense of the other - the Senate’s publication of their three proposals - to extend Feyna’s term, to double warship production every two years, and finally to move the capital regularly - completely undercut the panic and the half of the galaxy that remained loyal settled down.

    In such circumstances, the destruction of Nubia and Naboo did little to concern the galaxy, and the attack on Taris - an unaligned world - didn’t even garner a mention in most HoloNews. But eventually word spread of the advanced fighter craft that had blown through the Taris defence line even though a trap was prepared, several fighters shrugging off intense laser fire, and then destroying the museum they had intended without a single missed shot or casualty apart from that building.

    Three years after that showing, the Mandalorians had developed their beskar discovery into a full blown production line, arming a full wing of Bessies - seventy two fighters, within half a year. Those numbers didn’t increase - but they didn’t need to. Two wings a year was enough to overrun most systems defences, and the baradium contract they struck up with the Duros was paying out.

    But that was why Ka’rta, still the Acting Mand’alor, strictly speaking, had this call from the Speaker of the Verpine hives of the Roche Asteroid Belt.

    “Hello?” The Verpine didn’t speak with the confidence of a seasoned negotiator, but the tentative words of a child practising Basic.

    Which, presumably, he was.

    Ka'rta was busy, she always found herself busy these days. Between training Tor who was growing by leaps and bounds, and running a planet, it seemed the acting mand'alor didn't have time for anything but sleeping, and a few quick sessions with Mirdala. The Mandalorian Conquest, as some where calling it was moving along. Bandomeer had fallen in short order, a few other planets along the Hydian Way. The plan was to move all the way to the Celanon Spur putting as many planets as possible between Mandalore and the coming onslaught. Though she also wasn't neglecting Concord Dawn the the planets near it. It was so much to keep up with but she was doing it. It took a lot from her but, no one else was going to take this from her. She was leading the Mandalorians into a new age, she'd be damned if she was going to watch it from the sidelines.

    When the call came in she almost scowled at the being on the other end of the line.

    "Yes, who is this?" She replied terse.

    The insect was as hesitant as one would expect of a hive minded creature. "I am Speaker Sass Sikili, I speak on behalf of the Queen of the Verpine, her great benevolence, ruler of the Roche Asteroid Field, from Nickel One to Carbos Thirteen." It didn't blink as it rambled, of course, because insects didn't have cues like that.

    "We have heard many things about your beskar, and we wish to purchase some... or, perhaps, come to an accord." Roche was on the Perlemian Trade Route. The New Republic had spent the last three years reinforcing it heavily, turning the hyperlane into the galactic government's spine.

    The Hydian Way, otherwise, was a contested link to the independent Corporate Sector, and so far the Senate hadn't given them any explicit instructions to clamp down. Nobody had tried to speak to the Clans since Palpatine's announcement; Madelyn's family had quietly departed, and that was that...

    ... but if Ka'rta went for Roche with warships, the New Republic would bloody her nose. Comparably, the territory rimward of her - Ord Radama, the Gordian Reach, Ruuria, Almania - the New Republic wasn't making any effort to defend.

    Roche and the Verpine were both of interest to her but, so deep into Republic territory that it would be madness to try and make a move on it. Her first instinct was to turn down the thought of exporting their precious beskar, the life blood of their society, but the offer of a partnership was alluring there were still plenty of planets that needed to be brought into the 'Protectorate'. She'd heard of the skill of Verpine engineers, they could prove a boon to the Mandalorians.

    "I'm listening, what partnership are you proposing?" She would listen for now.

    “Mandalorians have an outreach mentality; the hives have no interest in being collected by your kind. We would instead seek to wholeheartedly contribute to your efforts.”

    “Technical support for the clans, mutual-aid...” the Speaker hesitated. “We would also ask if you would ground a factory on Murkhana into dust. They are copying our patents. They must pay, and we would be encouraged by such actions to be more inventive on your behalf.”

    The Roche asteroids created a great deal of munitions - and were neutral in the current Cold War, selling to both the New Republic and Eternal Empire. Murkhana in the Tion Cluster however was a New Republic member, but created little safe for HoloNet relays and comlinks. It did however have a rivalry with the well armed Kem Stor Ai, which was a world nearby.

    Ka'rta thought about it for a moment, weighing her options. Destruction was something that came natural to her and all mandalorians. However the protection of the New Republic on Murkhana did give her pause. They were strong but, not strong enough to take on one of the more dominant forces in the galaxy, not yet. Though with the support of Verpine, maybe they could.

    On another pad she looked up the military capabilies of Kem Stor Ai, with an eye towards mimicking their tactics. Make it appear that it was their old foes that destroyed their factory, no the mandalorians. While subterfuge was not her strong suit there was a time when a hand had to be hidden.

    "How inventive would you be feeling?"

    The Verpine made a chittering noise of excitement. “We have been working of ways to increase your fuel efficiency, we can offer you exclusive products, access to defence technology and quality control...”

    The Speaker drummed his chest. “... and our metallurgists are confident they can produce lighter beskar structures.”

    “But mainly we don’t want to overran by you.” Verpine kept on and on and on until they reached their point, especially when nervous.

    Ka'rta nodded her head taking in the information. More efficient fuel usage would free up a lot of credits, and extend the range of their fighters, the backbone of the Mandalorian navy. Making lighter weight beskar without losing any of it's strength would be of great use to them.

    A cruel smile moved over her lips, good they were afraid of Mandalorians. It was what Ka'rta had wanted, a galaxy in fear of the rain of beskar that would fall upon them should they be displeased.

    "Then I believe we can come to an agreement, a long term agreement."

    The Speaker drummed it's chest, communicating with the hive. "We agree, Mand'alor."

    His tone of voice had not changed whatsoever. All that was left for Ka'rta to sort out a single factory, and it would be hers. The New Republic had ignored her aggression so far, but a thousand neutral worlds in the borderlands were watching, desperate for an indication of what Mandalore intended long-term.

    When she signed off, standing behind her, arms folded, would be Rook Kast, looking as steely as ever, determined to be a good Hand for the Vengeant.

    [​IMG]

    The 'acting' Mand'alor was quiet for a long moment, she hated this, these political machinations but, somehow she'd become a deft hand at it. She turned her head slightly to her second, the woman filling the role she once did when Madelyn held this seat.

    "I want options for a covert strike on that factory. I don't want to tip our hand just yet." She said direct and to the point. The former Dar'Manda didn't get to where she was by beating around the bush. "The New Republic has given us a pass for now as they consolidate. But a brazen move within their territory would invite them to counter attack. Though a limited show of force could have it's advantages. We are only destroying a factory. Two options then, one covert, one overt, and I want them soon."

    Kast nodded. "We can dress up as Kem Stor Ai pretty easily, but sounds like the Verpine want us to plant a flag..." she considered aloud. "I'll set it out for you, ma'am." In short order, they had the option of seizing a Kem Stor Ai light cruiser - an old Carrack-class scow - or a lightning fast pinpoint raid like at Taris, complete with warning.

    "The warning idea worked when we hit Taris... it made sure we were 'humane' and the auretiise don't tend to get as worked up about the destruction of property. Lives though, they notice that. Venku was right."

    That was true, in many ways.

    Ka'rta nodded her head listening to the options. It did seemed the Verpine wanted to make a statement, to show that they had powerful friends in the pocket. And as long as the Mandalorians got out of there before anything could be done about it, the New Republic couldn't raise too much of a fuss. They're still in a bit of a mess, as long as she didn't try to take it over, they would be fine.

    "Ready a strike force, give them warning, long enough to evacuate the people but not the equipment, I don't want to have to do this again in a year. If any casualties are reported it will be there fault. We gave them time to escape, they did not heed our warnings."

    Rook nodded, and did what she was told.

    The warning was given to Murkhana, and the factory was in-fact evacuated in-time.

    The New Republic still wasn't at the point of dealing with crises beyond the one they already had; Kem Stor Ai heard of the attack and threatened to invade Murkhana if they let the Senate know about the pending attack. Privately, they offered an alliance with the Clans too, notwithstanding that they were inside New Republic territory too.

    When it came to launch, Venku was ready to lead, but went out his way to track down Ka'rta. "Did you want to take the Bessie in my place?" Venku had been flying the prototype for three years now, after all. He hesitated. "You did well by the clans, Mand'alor. I hope you get that. You're a true Mandalorian."

    The Mand'alor loved it when politics worked out in her favor. Kem Stor Ai was on their side, gave them a foothold in the New Republic. Not a strong one but something. It was nice when people understood her language not Mando'a but violence. It was her first language the mother tongue she learned from two angry Dar'manda that were fighting to make their way in the galaxy.

    She was in the hangar in her armor walking towards Bessie when Venku intercepted her.

    "If you don't mind, I'll lead this attack myself." she said with a nod. A smile grew over her face but under her helmet. "Not bad for a being born Dar'manda..."

    Venku hesitated. "You've not been Dar'manda for years, 'alor."

    He walked with her. "Do you think people hold that against you?" He took off his helmet, putting it under his arm.

    "Not anymore..." she said keeping her helmet on. "I made them see my worth, saving the planet has that effect." Her armored hand ran across the thick beskar hide of the fighter. "But in my heart I still feel that pain, the pain of my buir, the people that gave birth to me, and trained me for the first few years of my life. I can't change where I came from. But I can change the place that first rejected me. And I have. I got rid of everyone that had a problem with it..." She wasn't completely serious but, there had been some rather convenient disappearances when Madelyn took power. Not many, it wasn't a purge, just one or two that didn't want to work with a Jedi and a Dar'manda.

    Venku wasn’t perturbed. “I would have done the same thing, if anyone had an issue with me being the son of a clone...” that was pretty obvious, he looked like Jango Fett, “... and a Jedi.”

    Now that was a revelation. Venku shrugged. “A Knight, she fell in love with my father - Darman.” He suspected that would reverberate with her - his father’s Mandalorian name was based on Dar’manda. “She died in Order 66,” the words tumbled from Venku’s mouth as if they had happened to someone else. They had, for all intents and purposes; he’d been a toddler when it all happened. “My father apparently opted to stay behind and fight in the Empire, he died somewhere - nowhere, actually, on Mimban.”

    Venku stared at her, daring her to say anything about it all, but his anger was merely masking his deeper emotions on it.

    Ka'rta nodded solemnly, she knew about losing parents, lost her's when she was just a teen, was lucky to be picked up by Owen and Jerrod. Though his parentage did raise her eyebrow, a clone and a Jedi, quite the pair, though it mattered little to her, she picked the first guy she thought she could get with. Turned into a long term relationship. The mention of Mimban did give her pause for just a moment.

    "Then I hope it wasn't I that killed him. I was a very different person back then. I didn't care about anything but credits and anyone that got in my way of them...I changed on that mission...a lot changed." She stopped for a moment giving her vode a chance to say something or do something...not that there wouldn't be consequences for his actions.

    He froze; but relaxed. “I did wonder, if you’d killed him, but it can’t be confirmed, and it’s been eighteen years if so. Time to move on.” He did however step closer to her, and placed a hand on her shoulder. ”Chin vhetin, Mand’alor.

    His eyes were piercing; those, they did not belong to Fett. They belonged to his mother.

    "Chin Vhetin, Vode." She replied letting the past be the past. Venku had been an invaluable ally in her fight to keep control of the clans. It would be foolish of her to cast him aside or let these issues between them rot and fester. She'd allowed Death Watch to return, such as it was. She could allow a Clone/Jedi child fight alongside her. In the end, the more people you had on your side the better.

    "Alright," she called out, "mount up and take off, we have a tree to shake, see what comes loose."

    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
  10. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Five years after Twilight of the Force II

    Qwi Xux and Beaumont Kin lead a Keshiri uprising against the Lost Tribe of the Sith - and have a concerning conversation with Ship.

    TAG: with @Jerjerrod-Lennox
     
  11. Jerjerrod-Lennox

    Jerjerrod-Lennox Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Mar 9, 2005
    OOC: A combo with @Sinrebirth :)

    IC: Qwi Xux, Beaumont Kin, Taalon
    Location: Kesh


    What had been an act of defiance became against High Lord Taalon, a spark, when word traveled around Kesh.

    On Alanciar, the larger of the two capitals, that spark became a fire, and recruits joined the resistance in greater and greater numbers.

    Beaumont oratory and research skills, and Qwi’s literal existence - as an Omwati she was living proof that their words came from the stars - fanned that fire into an inferno, and a resistance became an uprising.

    An uprising became a civil war.

    Keshiri against humans.

    Force against Force.

    Soon Alanciar was theirs, and Qwi, Beaumont and other Keshiri commanded a vast effort to construct an armada of ships to invade the smaller continent - though it was expected that Keshtah Minor would be a much, much harder fight, what with the Sith having ruled it for considerably longer. The fervent faith the Keshiri had over there was much more terrifying.

    It was fully expected that the surviving four High Lords would galvanize their remaining seven Lords to prepare an immense defence, but notwithstanding the losses Grand Lord Vol continued to rule unopposed.

    After a year of preparation, they were ready to go. Aboard the flagship of the seafaring fleet, the Orielle, Beaumont and Qwi would be resting in their cabin, taking one of the few moments of peace they had been able to carve on a Sith world.

    They were naked, of course.

    It had been a rough five years but they had made it.

    Two years for Beaumont's recovery and another three establishing a firm and fiery Resistance movement. The Sith had been defeated on Alanciar, now it was time to move on to the next phase. The big one.

    Qwi had been there throughout her lover's recovery, the spectre of Palpatine's message with his newly formed alliance with the Vong scaring them both. But there were bigger things happening on Kesh.

    They found solace with each other using their mental safe space and when Beaumont was able again their physical connection.

    They took every quiet chance they could get to be with each other. Of course being in a Resistance it was always busy but that didn't stop them from expanding on their love for each other.

    And so here they were after years of preparation about to sail into Hell once more. Of course this cabin was nothing like her cabin on Firenze (she still missed Pascale's yacht) but they were together.

    "You know" Qwi said lazily stroking Beaumont's chest "If anybody had said to me that I would be helping a Resistance movement on an unknown planet, I'd say to them they were mad".

    She looked up at him "And yet here we are, about to take on basically the most powerful Sith here and about to maybe create some big waves. That the people of Keshtah Minor deserve to know there is a galaxy out there. That the Sith are not all powerful".

    She grinned at him "And we are doing it together".

    Beaumont held her, listening to her voice. Not quite dozing, but definitely allowing his mind to wander across the contours of their meeting flesh. He smiled at the idea of them as swashbuckling heroes, leading an uprising against a dictatorship.

    "How romantic," he murmured. Long gone were the injuries to his body inflicted by the Circle of Lords, and his mind had healed completely. But his movements were still hesitant, marred by the memory of what had happened. He was slower than he used to be, as if expecting a blow or a cut or to trip and fall. "I can't believe it either, though. We're the leaders of a planetary resistance."

    The ship bumped along in the sea, but it wasn't anything to concern themselves with. The Thoughtcriers - the Keshiri homegrown Force-users- were deployed at the prow of every boat of the seventy-two ship fleet, all hundred-meter longboats carrying fifty traditional warriors apiece. Among them were speedy corvettes, a hundred and twelve of them, each piloted by paired thoughtcriers. The Induction Board identified young Force users, and trained them up beneath the Wardmasters, twelve of which commanded the overall organisation, named the Protectors from ancient Keshiri religion. Beaumont and Qwi had supplied much of the information about the Jedi after all, and it became a full fledged alternative to the Lost Tribe on Kesh.

    The Alanciar Keshiri of Keshtah Major had their own brand of technology - frontier signal towers, semaphore transmitters, fireglobes, ballistae filled with glass weapons - even concrete, would you believe, copying but also improving upon what was on Keshtah Minor. It was a truly formidable force.

    Beaumont kissed Qwi deeply, and the Force flowed between them, allowing them to sense and feel the nearly two-hundred strong Force using deployment. Without Uvak, they had to rely upon boats anyway, but even an Uvak couldn't fly the distance between the two continents.

    He ran his fingers gently across her cheek -

    Qwi kissed Beaumont back, she could hear their bond singing away gloriously and she could feel their Keshiri warriors ready on their ships. Ready to go to war.

    Let's hope they know what they are up against though. These are no ordinary Sith…

    Qwi herself was nervous. Nervous for herself, nervous for Beaumont, nervous for them all. But it seemed Beaumont had other things on his mind. Perhaps it was good to have a distraction before the battle to come.

    "When we came here, I thought it would be a quick stop off then back into the galaxy. Now we are responsible for these people, this movement and perhaps it can prepare us for when maybe we do return".

    She maneuvered the top half of her body on top of Beaumont's so she could look at him in the face "I'm glad to share these moments with you Beaumont, and I love you so very much. And this time we will fight together and show them what we can do".

    She moved her face towards Beaumont's with a smile "You have your distracted voice on, now what are we going to do about that" she purred before brushing her lips against his, inviting him.

    He leaned in to to kiss her as the Force exploded into panic -

    “AIRSHIPS!”

    That wasn’t possible; the Keshiri didn’t have any air power outside of the Uvak, and everyone knew the reptiles couldn’t reach them out here -

    They were easily three hours out, how could this be -

    There was a dark wave of power in the Force - Sith falling from the sky -

    Ambush!

    Qwi snarled as she heard the call go up. Of all the times to interrupt her and Beaumont's private time.

    She jumped off of Beaumont scrambling to pick up her jumpsuit, socks and boots trying to get dressed as quickly as she could. Last to go on was Rax's cloak, still as useful as ever.

    And she could feel the darkness swarming towards them all. Time for their warriors to shine.

    "Well I guess private time will have to wait" she said with a sigh "If the Sith have built airships then I guess they were more prepared for us and advanced than we thought. So I guess we will do what we can to take them down".

    She stood near the door to their cabin her hand held out "Ready?"

    Beaumont rushed to get dressed, tripped over his shoe, and then managed to get himself sorted a few moments after her.

    There was a series of thumps outside the ship, and exertions in the Force.

    Beaumont pulled out a captured lightsaber, passed it to Qwi. They had managed to turn several Keshiri Sith away from the Tribe so far, so the thoughtcriers had comparable weapons to the Tribe. But whereas the Tribe was largely human now, the Protectors were largely Keshiri.

    As they tumbled into the fray, there were already three Sith on the upper deck, and the warriors were already engaged.

    Hanging from the mast was a dead Keshiri, and standing in the crows nest -

    "Why hello my friends," the musical voice was unmistakable.

    It was Taalon.

    That bastard Qwi growled inwardly.

    She reached with one hand for Beaumont's and ignited her blade with the other. Qwi no longer had her gloves on, there was no need for them anymore but she had the cloak of her hood up in case Taalon decided he wanted to have a probe.

    "Well well have you come to try and finish us all off" she said "You'll find a lot tougher fight than you expected, we won't just bow to your will".

    Of course with Beaumont unprotected Taalon would go for him, but Qwi was ready to protect him with her life if needs be. They always had the bond too so long as they stuck together.

    She prepared herself with a defensive stance, ready to unleash the bond.

    Taalon released a bolt of lightning at them immediately, driving a blast at the space between the two of them - at the deck.

    The crew was struggling with the Sith, and indeed the Force sung with dozens of such battles. Dropping down from the clouds were airships, essentially balloons of hot air over massive platforms that Uvak were attached to - no, wait, some were resting too, allowing them to rotate Uvak.

    Smart.

    Maddeningly so, in-fact.

    The High Lord leapt down, blade ignited -

    Qwi brought the blade down to try and block the lightning, unfortunately that meant letting go of Beaumont's hand for now whilst she concentrated on the lightning.

    Meanwhile she could feel all the struggles going on but she had to concentrate on the here and now.

    The Sith's airships she thought, we need to take them out. Hopefully someone would get the idea.

    With Taalon coming down Qwi reached for Beaumont again, her blade back up and on the defensive.

    Taalon landed and a booted foot took Beaumont in the chest, sending him tumbling off the deck -

    There was no splash -

    The Keshiri High Lord sprang to Qwi’s side, lashed at her neck, and manically, carnivorously grinned as a warrior rushed up the steps to attack him from behind -

    Taalon spun out of his attack at the Omwati and removed the attackers head, leaving himself exposed for a moment -

    She saw Beaumont take the kick and disappear but she could'nt think about that now, not with Taalon aiming his blade at her neck causing her to to lean backwards and raise the blade to try and parry.

    But seeing Taalon exposed she swept her blade forward and down intending to slice him in half or at least slice something off.

    Taalon pivoted, her blade missing by an inch but he grinned anyway. A fist snaked out and took her in the shoulder, her clavicle snapping loudly - Omwati were fragile, after all. Without anymore effort, he crooked a finger and slammed her with a Force blow that would knock her off the upper level of the ship into the melee below if she didn't deflect it -

    Qwi felt her shoulder go, luckily not the one containing the hand that held her blade but still a cry of agony escaped her lips.

    The Force blow didn't help either, she went flying but raised her blade and pushed all of her ramining strength into trying to deflect it so she wouldn't fall.

    Of course with no bond she did'nt know if her shove back would work. And who knew where Beaumont was.

    I think I might be about to fail….

    There was a noise of exertion, and Beaumont swung back aboard, midair when she fell - he reached for her -

    Taalon’s eyes widened as he saw them near and he released a bolt of lightning at them that was too slow -

    Beaumont was already looking back Taalon’s way, anger colouring his expression -

    The moment their skin would touch, he would channel that intent -

    They were also falling down, of course, towards the lower deck and scrum-

    Qwi felt like she was floating, time was beginning to slow down and she knew if she hit the deck below her body would break.

    She felt Beaumont return through the bond...and his anger was palpable. It was scary.

    The lightning Taalon unleashed didn't touch her but as she fell she saw Beaumont. She dropped the blade, with only one working arm she would have to use it to grab Beaumont and try and slow their descent.

    Qwi reached out, grabbed him and closed her eyes, her light flooding the bond and concentrating hard on slowing them down, the pain in her broken clavicle making it hard to concentrate.

    Beaumont wrapped her in his arms and held out a hand - a blaze of emerald energy ripped through Taalon’s attack -

    The High Lord interposed his lightsaber and pinwheeled away, as Beaumont used the Force to cushion their landing and placed her feet down -

    His eyes took in her broken bone, and glanced around at the other fighters - the Protector thoughtcriers and Sith Sabers were matched for the moment. A Keshiri took a few steps and leapt at them, firing glass-shards at Taalon, keeping him busy -

    “Are you alright? I can try and heal you?”

    Qwi sagged against Beaumont, the pain in her clavicle excruciating now, the drain from using their bond also evident. Beaumont seemed alright and she was grateful for him catching her.

    She had probably also helped in turning his attack into a light one instead of a dark one.

    "Thanks...for..the..save" she gasped then pointed at her clavicle "Broken...Taalon..did..it. Don't...use..all..your..energy..on..me. Do...what..you..can".

    She looked around and prepared herself just in case Taalon attacked again.

    Beaumont handed her a Crystal-blaster - it had a single stock of glass fire. He smirked. “Shoot him if you see him, then.”

    He closed his eyes and drew on their bond, using the Force to heal her -

    On the upper deck, a lightsaber appeared from the Keshiri’s back, and he toppled. Taalon leaped down, planting his feet. Other thoughtcrier’s with lightsabers rushed him, their white-blades singing, and he danced around them.

    It was all too easy for him.

    Beaumont strained as he concentrated -

    Qwi knew that she had to distract Taalon as Beaumont healed her. Unfortunately she could'nt share her energy with him as she couldn't touch him. Well not unless she kissed him of course.

    I haven't held one of these in years she thought. Of course she and Beaumont had left their blasters in the now wrecked Firenze.

    And she had to do something as their warriors were putting their lives on the line for her.

    As she felt the sensation returning in her other arm she pointed the blaster backwards and started firing shots at Taalon leaning her head against Beaumont and keeping one eye on where she was shooting.

    The single shot of glass daggers rang out, and Taalon raised a hand, catching it, and then sending out the daggers at -

    His own Sabers.

    They were stabbed, and died, the seven Keshiri warriors that remained surprised. “They failed me; they die.”

    The Keshiri and their glass and wooden weapons charged -

    Taalon hacked away at them, one at a time. Qwi had no more shots; Beaumont was concentrating -

    One died; split in two lengthways.

    Another had her neck snapped with aplomb.

    Taalon was showing off.

    Qwi couldn't believe what was happening. Taalon was not just killing their warriors but his own.

    And loving it.

    He just won't go down will he.

    They needed to work together for this next bit, Qwi shook her head at Beaumont.

    "We need to take him out together or we will both die. The clavicle can wait for a little bit, but this guy needs to go down, he's hacking every one to pieces."

    She tiptoed up, she knew that this would affect Beaumont's concentration but they needed to share the load.

    She kissed him pressing her body against him and throwing her good arm out throwing the blaster away and concentrating her energy at Taalon

    The bone knit as she kissed him, and Beaumont nodded, holding out his hand too. His intent was different to hers though - he wanted to kill Taalon - their bond couldn’t connect all the way.

    Another Keshiri was felled to a lightsaber through the heart -

    Qwi was shocked at what she was feeling from Beaumont. Anger, hatred the intent to kill. Of course she wanted Taalon dead too but to give in to dark emotions would undo all they stood for.

    She took his hand with hers, wrapping her healed arm around his waist and spoke to him "No Beaumont, not like that. I know we have lost a lot but let us not lose who we are. We are not them, we will never become them. Because if we do they win,".

    She tightened her grip "Remember what we did when we fought Gorog. Our light and love defeated the dark. And it will do so again. Show him how we can defeat the darkness within".

    She opened herself fully to him through the bond, her love for him flooding it and concentrated all of her remaining energy at Taalon.

    He took a deep, deep breath, and nodded. "I'll try."

    He did, he really did. He sought the calm place within him, and ended up searching for his Qwi place. Her strength and compassion flooded him as Taalon finished off the rest of the crew and turned, lightning nimbus in his hand, ready to target another embattled Alanciar ship -

    NOW!

    He shouted across their connected mind, and emerald energy slammed into Taalon, stunning him, not burning, pushing him to his knees -

    It was incredible, and Taalon moaned, tumbling to the edge of the ship, gritting his teeth as he struggled to stay conscious, his lightsaber clattering to the floor -

    He reached back, blue murderous fire battling with their attack -

    A great male voice sounded within their headspace at that moment -

    Hm. I sought the Sith here, and find you stronger than them.

    It was a sentient; in their mind's eye, they could see that it identified as Ship; a Sith Meditation Sphere commanded by great Force strength, rather than the dark side itself…

    It was amazing what you could do together.

    Their bond was fully unleashed and she was proud of Beaumont for throwing away his dark thoughts and centering on the place they shared together. Taalon was still fighting back and Qwi was struggling. If they both kept this up they could both end up unconscious or worse.

    And then that voice….a Sith Meditation Sphere?

    Ooooooh not good.

    It had come for the Sith, but it seemed their bond had commanded it's attention, whether that was good or not remained to be seen. But if it could help….

    Just make sure it has no dark intentions for you both….

    She thought at Ship I don't know what your intentions are or what you plan to do but we could use your assistance. Of course that depends on whether you are entirely dark or whether you can help the light siders out…

    I am merely looking for allies. But you are not powerful enough to help me. The Orphan has taken me, and the Sith are too weak, or too far... you are the only one I could reach.

    It sounded disappointed.

    Taalon, for his part, had both hands out, blue fire driving back their emerald lances as the battle continued around them. Their competing energies were causing a disruption, rocking the seas and turning the skies -

    Qwi was beginning to feel the strain, unconsciousness beginning to tug away at her. She didn't have long as this Ship seemed disinterested.

    Not powerful enough? Can you see what we are doing? This Orphan must be pretty powerful to hold sway over you.

    Why are you even talking to us if we are not powerful enough for you? Our bond is strong but our bodies cannot take the strain for much longer. Do you want to see such a powerful bond wasted? I think not.

    But if you want to leave us to die then so be it. Let that Orphan control you and you will probably get nowhere.


    Ship smirked.

    You are a funny one. Maybe I’ll see you if anyone ever kills the Orphan. But he is a child of Goddess and a God... I doubt he will die soon. Farewell, funny one.

    The connection severed.

    Beaumont called to her. “Concentrate, Qwi! We can do this!” He squeezed her hand, and pushed harder, drawing on his love for her -

    Not his fear of losing her -

    Qwi felt the connection go and inwardly cursed that blasted Ship. All it was here to do was torment them both, torment her in a sense. It thought they were not powerful enough even with what their bond was doing.

    And who the hell was this Orphan?

    Qwi could hear Beaumont encouraging her, feeling his love for her shine clearly through the bond. But her body was failing, she knew it. She was trying very hard to keep herself standing to keep the darkness calling her from taking her away.

    One last push Qwi, for Beaumont….

    She dug as deep as she could go her love for him clear to see on her face and through the bond…..and PUSHED.

    The light erupted from them, replacing their green fury with pure energy, which cut through Taalon -

    He gasped, and his torso fell from his hips -

    The explosion outward wasn’t sufficient to upend the heavy ships of the Alanciari fleet, but it was enough to send the airships into a tumble, the entire attack force falling from the sky -

    The storm of their confrontation had already shattered their formation, but now the Tribe attack was undone. In short order the surviving Sith surrendered - or died. The armada was damaged but not crippled - they had plenty of ships and they’d even fished some Uvak out of the water, giving them an air element they’d never managed to secure.

    Their victory was total.

    Beaumont for his part laid on the wet deck, breathing in and out. “That was fun. Let’s never do it again.”

    Qwi collapsed on top of Beaumont as their energy dissipated. They had won but at what cost? Were there many survivors from their side? How many had sacrificed themselves for them?

    "I quite….agree" Qwi said gasping for breath. She felt weak both in body and mind and was not sure what was going to happen next. She had spent all of her energy in battle.

    She tried to keep herself conscious knowing that if she sank into oblivion...she may never return.

    "Trying...to...hold...on. Energy...gone. But...we...did...it. We….beat...them. I don't….know...what...we...will...do...next..but...am..glad..we..are..together"

    They hung on that edge between life and death for some time.

    Hours, days, weeks.

    They missed much of what happened next, but they'd given the Alanciari the chance they needed.

    The Lost Tribe of the Sith were on the run, routed by the landing force and then retreating to the mountains and Ragnos Lakes, even for other, lesser, continents. When they came to, the capital city of Tahv had fallen and the Grand Lord had fled to the top of the mountain peak - reinforcing the Omen for one final stand - or to defeat them in such detail that they could recall the surviving Sith from across to Kesh.

    The Keshiri woman, the petite Sashal and a powerful Thoughtcrier in her own way, smiled at them as they came to - in the crystal palace on Tahv. "Welcome back," she was seated at the end of the bed, and they were both in separate ones, but kept together. "You gave us quite a scare."

    Qwi woke up, groggy but conscious. She had finally succumbed to the darkness and sunk hoping that she would see Beaumont again and that he would pull through.

    She saw the Keshiri woman at the end of the bed and smiled back. Qwi was happy to be alive but she would only be truly satisfied if Beaumont was alive and well too.

    "It was touch and go there" she replied, her voice gravelly from not being used. She looked around, the room seemed made of crystal "I assume we won? Because i'm sure we would not be in this very nice place if we didn't"

    "I think our bond might have helped too. If we hadn't have dug so deep we would all be dead".

    She looked over and saw Beaumont hoping against hope that he would wake up.

    Sashal nodded. "High Lord Taalon is dead, as well as most of the surviving Lords too." She told them how the airships were crushed in the storm their power created, and the winds were behind the armada, allowing them to reach Keshtah Minor in record time - smashing a hastily assembled army on the beaches. They marched on Tahv and the Sith collapsed, retreating into the Ragnos Lakes, and the rest to the Sith Academy atop the mountain -

    "So we've basically won? With Keshtah Major and Minor?" Beaumont interjected.

    "It could take years to hunt down Sith guerrillas, and we don't have the forces to march on the Omen. We'll have to besiege it, and we have evidence that the Grand Lord withdrew with ample supplies... he could last years, if he can keep Uvak supply drops... we didn't capture many Uvaks."

    It was, nonetheless, a massive win.

    The war was all-but when, notwithstanding what Sashal said. She embraced them each, tears in her eyes, and gave her thanks before heading off. Beaumont sat up in bed, peering down. "I'm naked, are you?" He looked at Sashal's retreating form as the door closed. "I feel violated," he said, amused. There were other single beds in the ward, all pristine, unused. Eight in total, two taken by them. He slid out his bed and into hers. "Nudge over." The feel of his skin was warm against hers.

    "Before we lose track of things - have you felt that voice again? Ship, he called himself?"

    Qwi blew out a breath at the news and smiled. Of course the Omen held bad memories for them both. It was where they had fought the Sith Academy and lost. Qwi thrown out the yacht, Beaumont captured and Firenze wrecked. Perhaps the wreck of her former yacht was still there unless the Sith had fixed it…

    Can’t think about that….

    She hugged Sashal back thanking her for helping bring her and Beaumont back and then looked at Beaumont as he made his way over to her moving over so he could fit in the bed with her. The feel of his skin on hers felt so good.

    “Well since I can feel your skin against mine I would say yes I am naked” her smile grew wider “Plus I'm a scientist. I used to poke things when I was younger so people poking me is a change” she laughed at that.

    At the mention of Ship he smile faded “I didn't know if it was just me who heard it, guess he was speaking to the both of us through the bond but I was the only one who could respond as you were concentrating bless you” she wrapped her arms around him looking up at him “I haven't heard from him since he last spoke to us aboard the Orielle but what concerns me was that he said he was under control of someone called the Orphan. Who even though we showed quite a display of our bond is more powerful than us. And could be a darksider”.

    She sighed “I’m glad we have won this war, but if this Orphan arrives we could be dragged back into another. Until then I guess we might as well enjoy whatever peace we have”.

    That peace would drag on for years, in-fact, but they wouldn't know that.

    The Tribe became the defeated Tribe, just known as The Lost, a yearly shrinking organisation, and the Protectors became the Force using order of the world. Skirmishes occurred often, but with less and less frequency.

    Eight years from now, they felt the Orphan die.

    And that Ship, damaged, crippled, was on its way...

    ... the Omen still stood; still held off the Protectors, a bastion and fortress of the Sith.

    Time would pass.

    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
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  12. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Six-seven years after Twilight of the Force II

    It is the end of Feyna's term! Will she escape the grip of autocratic rule? It's a question that her and her husband will answer together, as a family.

    TAG: with @JediMasterAnne
     
  13. JediMasterAnne

    JediMasterAnne Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2004

    IC: Feyna Organa-Chume, Isolder, Doman Beruss, Triebakk, Nola Deidder, and Winter

    20 ATA, Senate chamber, Hosnian Prime

    It was the end of her term.

    For six years, the Senate had passed law after bill after order that the galaxy militarise and prepare. The New Republic had Kuat, Mon Calamari, Corellia and Bilbringi, as well as the Hapan shipyards in the Mists. They hadn’t retained Fondor, Sluis Van, or the Bothan construction facilities, but they had plenty to prepare. Tens of thousands of warships were being launched, and the First, Second and Third Fleets had swelled to five thousand ships a piece. The Fourth was expected next, with new warships proposed by the time they reached the rebuilt Fifth.

    By and large the mood was high, notwithstanding the Nubian bridgehead, nor the massacre at Naboo. The capital had shifted from Riosa and eventually to Hosnian Prime, a process that had made the entire New Republic feel represented and the Coruscant-centric focus of Feyna’s administration had been undermined; weakening separatist inclinations.

    With that in mind, Winter Celchu expected the Senate to vote to extend Feyna’s term, and she expected Feyna to oppose it. So that meant Winter had to divert the tension, as the faction around Doman Beruss grew more and more radical in its opposition to Aryan Graul and of course Palpatine and his coming horde.

    Doman called the session to order. The Chancellor was expected to speak first, as the decision as to her term was to be dealt with in her presence - rather than mostly decided in her absence, as it has been six years ago. Winter wondered if she’d attend in person or by hologram, what with the family situation.

    Feyna stole a quick look at her datapad one more time before heading into the chamber, checking in on her son, via the camera set up in his room. Kalen was asleep on his stomach, one arm dangling off the side of his bed, the nanny droid off in one corner, keeping watch.

    Three-year-old Prince Kalen, named for Isolder's late brother, was the perfect miniature of his father, and the center of Feyna's world. She knew that Ta'a Chume had been disappointed that Feyna and Isolder's first child was male, but Feyna was not particularly bothered by her mother-in-law's displeasure, on that matter. Hapes was a matriarchal government, with a very skewed gender hierarchy, and he would be passed over for the throne if Feyna and Isolder did have a daughter later (Feyna did want to try for one more, in a few years perhaps), but Feyna had no intention of treating her son as though he was 'less than,' simply because he was a boy.

    Technically, it was Isolder's week for in-person Senate meetings; they took turns at physical and hologram attendance, so one of them could stay with Kalen (yes, they had the droid, but Feyna didn't like to rely on it too much). But considering the main topic of today's session, she'd thought it best they both actually be there. The droid could watch Kalen for that long, and more than likely he'd nap the whole time anyway.

    The Senate was voting whether to once again extend her term, and from the feelers Winter had been putting out, it was not looking good. Feyna did not want her term extended again, and given that things had settled in the past few years (yes, Skelm, Sidious, and the Yuuzhan Vong were still a concern, but there'd been no new attacks, and the New Republic was beefing up its forces), she saw no reason for it.

    Pocketing her datapad, she took her place at the podium as Doman called for order.

    "We know why we're here; the term extension granted to me has expired, and I would personally prefer we spent this meeting discussing nominations for my successor. It is my understanding, however, that the majority of you would prefer to keep me in office for another number of years, despite the concerns that I myself voiced to you six years ago. I've made a point not to abuse the powers that were granted to me, but by upholding a questionable precedent, we are leaving the future of the New Republic vulnerable to more corruption, the likes of Palpatine and Amedda.

    "In the past six years, since Nubia, and Naboo, there has been no further escalation of the conflict with the Eternal Empire, nor have Sidious and the Yuuzhan Vong shown themselves. Our military strength continues to grow, and I believe the situation is stable enough for a transition of power. Our troubles are not over, I know, but at present, there is nothing I am doing, that cannot be done by someone else."

    There was a rumble; the Senate clearly had been hoping to elect her anew, but they could see Feyna wasn't agreeable - and she was arguably right, though a hear, hear snarled from the edges of the room by Fyor Rodan went down about as well as expected - there was a rebuke from her supporters, and then a counter from those that supported him - Chasin, the Bimms, Altyr, Las Lagon, Beris, Obreedan, Jabiim, Adumar, Katraasii, Atzerri - their little Commenori Confederation, as they called themselves.

    They were a small but irritating faction, but with nowhere near the pull of the so-called Graul Conspiracy, which had included the Senators of several affluent Core Worlds, Imperial Moffs, and recently joined independent nation states. They weren't even the B-team of irritants; most of them had almost zero military or political pull outside of Commenor itself, who had created - legally, under Senate restrictions - a single fleet of its own. With the Bothans reportedly raising three fleets and the Remnant now wielding four, it was a small concession in the greater scheme of things - one that even her veto power would have been unable to stop.

    Doman called for order, and Winter grinned slightly. The Senate had been like this for over a year now - but it was an improvement on the mass-hysteria of the first two years after Nubia fell. Rodan signaled for his supporters for silence, and they did pipe down, though Caserfo of Riosa had to shout down one of his party members to resume decorum and let the issue go.

    Doman nodded, and looked to the Senate. "I think we can all thank Chancellor Organa-Chume for her calming hand in the years since Palpatine spoke to us all. Without her strength and resolve, and even while raising a family, I wonder if we would still have a New Republic." There was a rustle of agreement. "But the Chancellor's authority under her Emergency Powers is absolute, and as such we must respect that - and even if we did not, forcing anyone to remain Chancellor against their will is surely a war crime."

    There was a chuckle across the floor.

    "I would ask the Chancellor who she intended to nominate to take over after she steps down. I note the Prince is your Vice Chancellor, and he has often deputized for you, after all."

    Winter could see what Doman was doing; if Isolder took the reigns, the wily Corellian Senator would keep Feyna around in a leadership capacity.

    Feyna wasn't falling for it. "I don't know that he would accept," she replied, glancing toward her husband; he'd know that she meant no slight by it, and hopefully he'd also recognized what Doman was trying to do.

    Nola wouldn't take it either; she was still focused on helping her own people, though they were doing better now than they had been.

    "Senator Triebakk served between my second and third terms, and is still eligible for re-election." Feyna had spent that gap term mostly on New Alderaan, but she hadn't heard anything bad about Triebakk's performance.

    "And you yourself, Senator Beruss, have often been trusted with leading the Senate in my absences."

    She had indeed left Doman in charge in the past, when neither she nor Isolder could be available; the weeks around Kalen's birth, for example. Isolder had still checked in from time to time, so they'd stayed informed, but the couple had mostly been focused on settling into their new reality as parents.

    And Feyna hadn't heard anything else on Han's cousin in a while, but if he was still stirring up trouble (Nola had privately voiced her concerns to Feyna that he might encourage Corellia to secede)--well, having Corellia's Senator as Chancellor might secure the planet's position in the New Republic for however long Doman served.

    "I will hear other nominations as well."

    She kept her tone and her expression neutral, but the prospect of finally getting out of office...the thought made her almost giddy.

    The Senate dove into speculation and discussion and there was a lot of noise, but the Senators were heading towards Triebakk, and then their was a human bend towards Doman, during which Isolder kept silent with a knowing gaze. Winter wondered to herself where it would go.

    Both candidates accepted, Triebakk being translated by his protocol droid, and Doman being gracious as ever.

    The vote was called, and Winter voted for Triebakk, and Isolder voted for Doman. There was all manner of division, but Ransolm corralled people towards Triebakk, and Rodan towards Doman.

    Feyna had expected that the Senate might put up a few more names, or reject one of her two suggestions, but both Triebakk and Doman accepted, and were accepted by the Senate.

    That Rodan's circle was throwing its support behind Doman might be a little concerning, but that might be humanocentrism rearing its head. Or Core-centrism. Feyna might have abstained, considering that she had nominated both, but for her desire to ensure that Corellia did not secede.

    She voted for Doman.

    Nola was in attendance, via hologram; things were much better on New Nubia now and she'd been back to regular Senate work for the past few years. She hadn't involved herself in the nomination debate though--not that there'd been much, the Senate had latched onto Feyna's two candidates fairly willingly.

    If Doman hadn't been suggested, Nola probably would have voted for Triebakk; a non-human Chancellor was another progressive win. But Nola also knew that Corellia's continued membership was still uncertain, as long as Thracken Sal-Solo remained a prominent figure.

    She also cast her vote for Doman.

    Doman won, and by a decent margin, which was good for all involved. Most of the Senator lost - or won - graciously. Though of course Rodan’s lot loudly crowed victory. Doman held up her hands and silence followed.

    Her pod headed to the Chancellors podium as she spoke. “Thank you, my friends. I will do what I can, and what I must, for our great Republic. In my four year term I will look to strengthen our defences, repair our few remaining wounds, and win the peace so we can fight the war.”

    There was polite applause. When Doman reached the podium she stepped in, smiling warmly at Feyna and squeezing her hand. Turning back to the audio mike floating after her, she spoke on. “My first act will of course be to thank Princess Organa-Chume for her service, and her graciousness in nomination of me.” More applause, this time stringer. “I would also ask Prince Isolder to continue on as my Vice Chancellor for now, for the sake of continuity and handover.”

    Isolder sought Feyna’s eyes in respect of that. He was hoping their husband-wife bond could communicate what she thought well enough!

    Damn her. Feyna managed not to make a face, but her smile might have slipped just a fraction. She suspected this was another subtle ploy to keep Feyna around--poor Isolder would essentially be the middleman, ever coming home relaying messages from Doman to Feyna, asking her advice on this, her opinion on that.

    She wouldn't stop him from accepting, if he chose to, 'for now,' as long as he set some boundaries with Doman. His continued presence would help with a smoother transition, but once Doman was settled in, she shouldn't need his help anymore, and he could step back.

    Isolder managed to just about catch the slip of a fraction. "I can accept, of course, but for no more than a year. I am the Hapan Prince, after all, and my people will want me to attend to them as my mother ages." His words were smooth, and he also smiled in his typical roguish way. "And I might even accept only if Triebakk agrees to become the Vice Chancellor after I depart."

    Doman nodded immediately, without missing a beat. "That sounds sublime to me."

    The Wookiee roared his agreement.

    "Now," she turned to the Senate itself. "I shall call an end to this session so I can get started, and I shall reconvene... a week from today." With that, the Senate was done for the day. A short amount of work, nothing urgent to pick up, and Doman was accosted by the special interest groups.

    Winter moved her pod over to the Chancellor's podium to take Feyna and Isolder. "Well that went well I'd say."

    "You're free, honey!" Isolder kissed her on the cheek.

    Feyna smiled--for the sake of decorum, she didn't literally dance for joy, but it was a huge weight off her shoulders.

    She reached for Isolder's hand as she stepped off the podium for the last time. "I won't miss it much," she admitted, just enough that only they would hear.

    "And yes, that went much better than I'd expected."

    "It really, really did," Isolder beamed. Winter was happy for them, and docked the pod.

    Isolder walked together back to the kids, and he reached for her hand. Winter wondered how Tycho was doing, patrolling the Perlemian, otherwise. But she trailed slightly behind, enjoying the happiness on their faces. With her identic memory, she would remember this for a very long time.

    Feyna affectionately leaned into Isolder a little as they headed back to their quarters, gently grasping his arm with her free hand. They walked in silence for a few minutes, Feyna simply enjoying the moment while she mused to herself.

    "I've spent more of my adult life in office, than out of it," she noted, thinking aloud more than anything. "Sixteen years, combined." Almost as long as she'd lived on Alderaan.

    "I know I'll still have other official responsibilities--" She didn't know whether Ta'a Chume intended to abdicate any time soon; Feyna hoped she'd hold off for at least few more years, and she didn't think the Queen Mother would need much persuading on the matter, but Feyna would eventually be expected to start shifting her attention to Hapes.

    "--and there's Kalen, of course, but there's still part of me that doesn't even know what to do with myself."

    Isolder nodded. “But we should take our time with it, Feyna. A year for me to do a handover and a year for you to disentangle.”

    “It sounds good, actually,” Winter nodded. “We could get in a decent break before you get subsumed into Hapan politics.”

    "It would be nice," Feyna agreed.

    They would probably have to stay on Hosnian Prime while Isolder was working the handover, anyway--theoretically Feyna and Kalen could go Hapes to get settled in, but Feyna didn't want to leave Isolder behind, and given the occasionally dangerous rivalries amongst the Hapan noble families, she wasn't sure how safe it would be for them to go without him.

    Isolder shrugged. “The thing is, Mother is pretty much fond of you by now - especially as she personally hated Treen and you blew her up.” He grinned. “She has the marriage and grandchildren now, so she’ll hold back on the manipulations until they’re old enough to succeed her.”

    Isolder held up a hand. “But it would be nice to have you nearby. Do you intend to go back to being the New Alderaan Senator? Or be Delaya’s?” He referred to the second planet in the Alderaan system, that also represented the other planets in their home sector. “Or are you retiring for now...” he was thinking of the children, too.

    Feyna nodded. "I was considering stepping back from the Senate. As Winter said, a little break would be nice, before I start shifting my responsibilities to Hapes."

    She had served as New Alderaan's Senator during Triebakk's term, and she still liked to make sure the colony was doing well, though sometimes she felt guilty, wondering if she'd been doing enough for them. As horrible as Nubia had been, at least Nola had been able to prioritize her people, to just be focused on helping them recover; Feyna had had an entire galactic government to rebuild, and sometimes she felt like she'd abandoned her own people.

    And she might have to set them to the side again, if she was to eventually rule Hapes. She wasn't sure how well it would go over with her Hapan subjects if her attention was divided between them and New Alderaan.

    Isolder hesitated. "I mean, to Hapes doesn't mean away from your people."

    "I must admit that I have always thought that Hapes would have been perfect for Alderaanians. I just didn't want to rock up and undermine your efforts there." Isolder was thinking aloud. "I mean, New Alderaan is way out in the Outer Rim. I know the refugees couldn't afford a world closer to the Core, not even with the Thul conglomerate helping out, but -"

    "It's a bit exposed, and if the New Republic is going to reinforce anywhere, it will be Mon Calamari and the shipyards there, not New Alderaan." He pulled a face. "And with the Tion Cluster basically bullied by Ka'rta into being a good neighbour..."

    They hadn't spoken to Ka'rta, but the alliances Mandalore had wove using it's beskar protection had been a pain. Much of the borderlands between the Hydian and Perlemian had been impacted, as far north as Roche. No formal territorial acquisitions had occurred, but the clans had a lot of influence and it included within the Corporate Sector and Tion Hegemony. It wouldn't take much for Ka'rta, if she so wished, to sever the Perlemian - the spine of the New Republic as they called it. The fleet had taken to calling the Rimward stretch of the Hydian Way the Thunder Alley, because it was a risk ever heading that far Rimward.

    "I just wanted to formally offer space in the Hapes Cluster for the Alderaanians, because of, well, the Vong."

    Feyna could see his point. New Alderaan was distanced from most of the more heavily trafficked areas of the galaxy, and though it was sentimentally important to Feyna, it was primarily a simple safe world for refugees, without much political or strategic value. Perhaps that might make it less of a target, but at the same time, it was minimally protected, and help might not arrive in time in the event of an attack.

    She squeezed his hand again as they arrived back at their quarters. "Thank you...I will let the Council know." New Alderaan was run by a ruling High Council; though Feyna retained her old title, it was mainly ceremonial.

    She didn't know if or how many of the refugees might wish to relocate to Hapes, but at least they'd have the option.

    Isolder hesitated at the door to the kids - he loved being a parent, but he was also conscious that they didn’t have much time to be themselves nowadays - he hoped that they would do now she wasn’t Chancellor.

    Before he opened the door, he kissed her. With a smile, he looked at her, hand over the controls. “Shall we? Or do we take that trip to Hesperidium we had planned? Nanny can handle Kalen for the afternoon...”

    Isolder smirked.

    Feyna hesitated, raising a brow at him. "I'm unpleasantly reminded of what happened last time we tried that..." She was partly teasing, though. True, she wasn't Chancellor anymore; it would be Doman's problem if anything happened now--though she might still try to rope them in. But surely things couldn't go wrong every time they took a day off.

    Her eyes shifted to Kalen's door. "Is he still asleep?"

    Isolder peeked. “Looks like.”

    He glanced back to her, whispering. “You’ve earned this, Feyna. We can take a break, hell, I can work remotely 100% and Doman will have to put up with it. She does have Triebakk to hand after all.”

    He closed to the door, and held her hand. "What do you say?"

    She glanced back toward their son's room, a bit anxious; she didn't think they'd both ever gone to a completely different planet without him before. And Hesperidium was on the other side of the Core from the Hosnian system.

    But Isolder was right, it had been a while since they'd had any real time to themselves. The nanny could manage Kalen.

    "Okay."

    -------------------------------------------------

    The two of them had a wonderful second honeymoon on Hesperidium. There were no crises, no disasters, none of the madness which had plagued their last trip here, or even their wedding day. It was cathartic, and it was a sign of things to come.

    Chancellor Doman Beruss proved an adept woman, masterfully managing the competing interests of the Senate, and Triebakk wanted to get involved, leaving Isolder to do less and less. They started a peaceful year where the tense balance between the New Republic and Eternal Empire calmed, and there was not a single issue to speak of beyond the existing ones. The Bothans and Hutts continued to play both sides against each other, and factions within the Remnant and Hapans campaigned to break existing treaties and secede but were far too weak to be anything but bothersome. If anything, the Moffs and Hapan nobles had to be roped in to avoid purging malcontents. Even then, Ta'a Chume kept her distance, if only because she already had a grandchild but wanted a girl...

    ... the only negative was that as Chancellor, Doman's seat as Senator had to go for election - a seat which Thrackan Sal-Solo won, maddeningly. His little negativity merged with the Commenori, though, and the group acquired some punch with a Core representative on-side, but Sal-Solo was marginalised by Prime Minister Saxan, even if she didn't have the support to recall him. Thrackan for his part was suspiciously good, but the NRI could find nothing to pin on him, not even another assault fleet planned.

    But as I say.

    Feyna and Isolder and Kalen had an incredibly peaceful year in the middle of the Second Galactic Cold War.


    -----------------------------------------

    IC: Isolder, Feyna, and Kalen
    21 ATA, Hosnian Prime; night

    It was a typical morning in the Organa-Chume household.

    On Hosnian Prime, which seemed to be settling in as the capital - having been again voted into be so, they had acquired a sense of permeance on the Core world, even as their new home on Hapes was slowly - but inevitably - shaping up. As Isolder extricated himself to the point of non-existence from the Senate - even considering appointing an entirely new Senator for Hapes - and more Alderaanians moved to Hapes itself, they were between worlds.

    For now.

    Isolder be woken by a comlink call which would wake Feyna too -

    Feyna had been sort-of-awake already; it was a little early still to be actually getting up, though, and Isolder had still been sleeping. These days, she often didn't officially rise for the day until he did--or until Kalen came bounding in.

    So she'd tried to doze for a little bit longer, only to be jolted awake by the chime of her husband's comlink.

    Who would be calling this early, she wondered, turning over and propping herself up so she could hear.

    “Thank you for letting me know,” he said hesitantly. “Have any of her sisters made a move yet?”

    “Of course not, they want to see what I’ll do.” Isolder closed it down, emotions combating across his face. Concern won out. He turned, looking for his pants on the floor, hesitating, not quite able to meet her eyes yet.

    It was bad news, clearly.

    Feyna frowned, pushing back the covers and sitting up, tentatively reaching over to put a gentle hand on his back. "What is it?"

    He settled, stilled. "Mother has died."

    She drew back for a second, stunned, before crawling over to his side of the bed and taking his hand. "I'm sorry." She kissed his cheek, trying to be comforting.

    "Do they know..." She swallowed, not quite comfortable asking; he might not know, or he might not want to talk about it yet. "Do they know how?"

    Ta'a hadn't been young, but it still seemed a little sudden.

    "She had a brain hemorrhage," Isolder said. "She was at a spa and was having a treatment... when they came in, she'd had a stroke."

    His words were a bit hoarse, but he was coming to grips with it all.

    But still, he stared into space.

    Feyna put her arms around him, just being there for him. She hadn't been particularly well acquainted with her mother-in-law, but it hurt that he was hurting.

    After a few minutes: "What do you need me to do?" Her hand came up to cup his face. "What can I help with?"

    She could start making comm calls; she could get Kalen up and start packing; there were probably a dozen other things that needed done...

    Or they could just stay like this for a bit longer, if that was what he needed.

    He held her close for a moment, kissed her softly. He looked at the time, realised it was early here. Kalen would be deep asleep. Easy to move when he was, but not so easy to pack. “Can we say here for an hour or two? And then we’ll go to Hapes... stop whatever my aunts have planned... and then, well, we’ll be a lot busier when we get there...”

    “... and I want to be ‘just’ Isolder and Feyna for a bit longer, to be honest. Before...”

    Before she was Queen Mother.

    The unspoken words hung between them; Feyna wasn't blind to the ramifications of Ta'a's death, but she was more concerned about her husband at the moment.

    Feyna nodded at his request to just stay in bed for a while more, and kissed him again before starting to climb back under the covers. "Yes, we can."

    He kissed her, held her under the covers, hands on her, on her skin, lips upon her, and the moment lasted for as long as it had to.

    For as long as it could.

    For as long as forever could be.

    Feyna let him determine how far their intimacy progressed, but she returned his affections in kind, content to lose track of time, to erase the rest of the galaxy for a while.

    ....

    It was an hour later, and Isolder was draped across her leg, dozing slightly, and for a moment his face was not slack but contented, glowing from their love and exultations. When he let his worries go, he was the most beautiful man in the room, especially with the web of crows feet around his eyes, all laughter lines that he had earned with Feyna.

    Feyna hadn't gone back to sleep after, but she was quite happy to let her husband rest against her for a while. He looked peaceful for the moment, having successfully shut out the world beyond their bed...Feyna was rather reluctant to disturb him.

    But the sky outside the window was getting lighter, and at some point, they'd have to get up and face the challenges ahead of them.

    And Kalen would likely be waking up soon; better he didn't walk in on them in their current state.

    She reached over to brush her fingers along his cheek, then through his long hair. "Honey? As much as we'd both like to just stay here, we probably ought to start getting around."

    Isolder stretched. "Yeah, I know. We need to get to Hapes before my aunts marshal the nobles to launch a coup. At least those long and painful meals with Ducha's Galney and AlGray and Archon Thane will finally pay-off..." He was referencing a few Houses they had hosted - the key ones. As a constitutional monarchy, it was important to be seen to listen and be listened to. Feyna would have experience of dinner meals back on Alderaan, whenever Bail and Breha hosted the local nobility.

    He stretched, looked down at her form. Isolder's smile broadened. "Why hello."

    She leaned to kiss him, not exactly discouraging his flirtatious attentions, but trying not to get distracted again either.

    "In other words, we should maybe call those Houses first, before your aunts do?

    "And Doman and Triebakk probably need to know why we're off in such a rush."

    Triebakk had pretty much taken over the Vice-Chancellor position, but Isolder was still very-minimally involved in a few things, hence why they were stull on Hosnian Prime.

    “I’ll handle Doman, we need to get, well,” he grinned at her form. “Dressed, and all.” He kissed her bare shoulder. “I’ll let you sort Kalen, and I’ll speak her and arrange a face-to-face on Hapes with the Houses. Sooner we go - the better.”

    He leaned over, and kissed her - hard.

    “I do love you, Feyna. Let’s do this.”

    Feyna kissed him back. "I love you, too."

    Choosing a simple dark purple gown from her wardrobe, she suddenly frowned as she started to dress. "Isolder, how do we explain this to Kalen?"

    Four seemed a little young to grasp the concept of death. And Ta'a had only seen Kalen a handful of times; he might not even remember her as he got older.

    Isolder hesitated as he tugged his shirt over his head. He was so wound up in getting to Hapes that he'd forgotten about that. "I don't know, to be honest." He looked at his comlink. "Together, is how we do it, at very least." He tucked the device into his pants.

    "Shall we?"

    There was a clatter from his room; Kalen was already awake, playing with his things as he did.

    Feyna nodded, finishing with the clasps on her dress and running a comb through her hair, before taking Isolder's hand and walking with him across the hall to their son's room. She could hear Kalen playing happily inside.

    She tapped lightly on the door before entering. "'Morning, Kalen."

    Kalen hesitated. “You’re both already dresseded.” His ‘ed’ endings had a habit of repeating themselves. “Are we going somewhere?”

    Isolder stepped over him and picked him up. “Daddy was called home, Kalen.” He was sure to hold him low enough that he was level with Feyna, but not so low he strained his back.

    “We are home?”

    Feyna smoothed Kalen's hair, still messy from sleep, and kissed his head.

    "We've lived here while Mama and Daddy worked here," she explained. "But home is at Hapes, where Daddy is from."

    She glanced to Isolder, before nudging forward. "Something's happened to Grandma Ta'a."

    “Oh?” Kalen said. “I don’t think she likes me.” He sounded a bit baffled. “I’m not a girl.”

    Isolder pressed his lips into a grimace. “Your Grandma loved you, Kalen.”

    “Oh, okay then,” he said, and wiggled free. He immediately began to bundle his blocs into his arms. They adhered to each other and reshaped themselves when prodded to go slack, allowing Kalen to make all manner of shape. “Can I bring these with me?”

    The Hapan Prince was struggling to stay on topic. Kalen was four, you had to make sure he was paying attention but also that he didn’t have anything by him to draw his focus elsewhere. Nor did Isolder really want to say the words; referring to his mother in the past tense was hard enough.

    And Kalen remembering Ta’a Chume’s obsession with a female grand-heir was painful enough.

    Feyna mentally flinched at Kalen's awareness of Ta'a's preference, though she was careful not to show it--no four-year-old should have to concern himself with whether his grandmother liked him or not, and certainly not for that reason.

    She had a sudden and terrible feeling that Isolder might have had a similar experience with his mother, growing up; she'd never dare ask, though. His relationship with her had been complicated, but Ta'a was still his mother, and the loss was still hurting him.

    She gave Isolder's arm a comforting squeeze, then went to sit down on Kalen's bed, tugging her son along. "We'll pack your toys later," she said gently, taking the blocks and setting them aside, then pulling Kalen onto her lap.

    "Kalen...Grandma Ta'a died this morning." He wouldn't know what that meant, so she tried to elaborate, in words he would understand. "She's gone away, we won't be able to see her or talk to her anymore."

    She glanced to her husband again for help; her own words sounded ridiculous to her, though maybe not to Kalen. She couldn't remember how Bail and Breha had explained death to her--had it been when they'd told her about her birth parents? She'd been older then, than Kalen was now.

    Kalen blinked. “Oh. So she’s gone? Gone away?” He looked sad. “I liked her hugs. She always has the best perfume. Even better than yours Mummy.”

    He seemed at a loss. “Can’t I say goodbye?”

    Isolder’s voice caught, but he pushed on. “We would have a service to say goodbye, called a funeral. It’s up to you if you want to come - there will be lots of sad people there. Your grandmother was very loved by lots of people.”

    “But we’re her family, we love her most.”

    “Exactly so, which is why we’ll get seats at the front.”

    “Good,” Kalen said. “Because I don’t want her to miss my goodbye because I’m only four and little.”

    Isolder couldn’t respond to that.

    Feyna gave her boy a squeeze. "We'll make sure you get to say goodbye."

    She set him on his feet; she couldn't think of anything else to say on that, but if Kalen still had questions, they'd try to answer them. "Let's get you dressed and start getting ready to go."

    Kalen nodded, and promptly began to get himself together and whatever he needed to travel; his blocks, yes, but he also squeezed his favourite clothes and cuddly into a small backpack.

    They were up and running and heading into hyperspace in short order; Hapes was their destination. Their future, it was there. The Prince did a handover and promised the Vice Chancellor he would check in.

    Isolder held Feyna’s hand as they watched Hosnian Prime and he said goodbye to their old life. “Queen Mother Feyna Organa-Chume,” he said the words for the first time.

    Feyna's hand tightened gently around her husband's, as Hosnian Prime shrank away in the viewport.

    For the last twenty years, home for Feyna had been wherever the Senate was based--Corellia, Coruscant, Riosa, Hosnian; the only time she'd spent any significant time off the capital had been those four years between her second and third terms. Even this past year, even though she'd held no official office, they'd had to stay while Isolder worked on the handover with Doman and Triebakk.

    The idea of finally, permanently settling somewhere, with her family, was both exciting, and a little scary.

    As soon as they arrived at Hapes, Feyna would have to take over the duties of her new position. She was already forming a mental list of things that would need to be done once they arrived: planning for Ta'a's funeral, checking security arrangements, contacting the major Houses, meeting with the Court, a public announcement...just to name a few.

    She'd known, as long as she and Isolder had been together, that if she married him, she would eventually have to ascend the throne, upon Ta'a Chume's abdication or death. And aside from running the New Republic for most of her adult life, Feyna had been raised under the assumption that she would have eventually ruled as Queen of Alderaan. Having to do the job didn't worry her terribly--a little, yes, as Hapan culture was rather different from Alderaan's, though there was a small colony of former Alderaanians within the Consortium, now, and she had spent the past year doing her homework on Hapan laws and customs.

    But she expected the transition to be a bit of an uphill battle. Feyna was an outsider, and though she did intend to try to respect the customs and traditions of Hapan culture, it wasn't likely that the people would find her reign to be like that of Ta'a Chume, or Ni'Korish before her; there might be some initial resistance, and not just from Isolder's aunts.

    She'd manage, though. She had Isolder to help her, and they'd gotten through so much in the past; they'd get through this, too. Together.

    Feyna leaned against her husband and beckoned her son to come and sit with them, enjoying these last few hours to themselves, as the ship jumped into hyperspace.

    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
  14. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Eight years after Twilight of the Force II

    The Eternal Family make a trip to a world and decide it's fate... and test the peace.

    TAG: with @HanSolo29
     
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  15. HanSolo29

    HanSolo29 Manager Emeritus + Official Star Wars Artist star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Apr 13, 2001
    The following is a combo with @Sinrebirth


    IC: Aryan Graul, Gaeriel Captison-Graul, Jalynn Graul, and Arek Graul

    Aboard the Eternal Flagship Stringent, Nouane

    8 years later...


    The world below them was a perennial thorn in the side of the Eternal Empire. But it would not be any longer.

    Aboard his own duplicate flagship - with his throne secured aboard it - Aryan Graul and his Eternal Family; his wife, his daughter, and young son, they could now travel wherever they sought. Here, on their own little sojourn, the Emperor would both destroy a threat to his regime, but also free it for him to pillage to his heart’s content.

    One side effect of his draining of Ku’ar Danar had been the unlocking of several nascent and divergent memories within him. With the assistance of the Holocrons in his possession, Norin’s data on the Change, and a potentially surreptitious visit to Ach-To, Skelm now had complete knowledge of the life of his ancestor, Joren Graal, as well as that of his alternate self, Aryan Graul, the one who had settled into a Chandrila mental institute, before rising to become Vice-Chancellor of the First Order, and also the later incarnation of his soul, the Aryan Graul who had become embroiled in Sith refugees from the End of Time; even to the point of his tryst with one of them by the name of Darth Syren.

    He knew it all.

    Of course, he knew that the Black-Coat had many names and that whatever his role in assisting in the ascension of Aryan, he had definitely been pursuing his own motives, which had for some reason involved the other Arek. He also had access to Norin’s techniques for nascent Force sensitivity suppression; a repressive form of brainwashing that basically ended with Aryan associating usage of the Force with pain. It was extremely brutal, and accounted for all the many beatings in his past, in the past - and Ike had taught Norin the idea; preyed upon Norin’s fears that he would be pushed aside by his son - there were even notes on their collaboration with Lyz to hide Jalynn and even erase her memory of the pregnancy - all Ike and Norin.

    Aryan also now knew that Gaeriel’s doubts had been erased - or successfully hidden from him - since the coming of their son Arek. He knew that his son was Force sensitive; he knew that his daughter, Jalynn, was, too, and they were decidedly powerful in it.

    With the Scepter of Ragnos in hand, he could drain Force-strong sites of power and use that power to increase the potential of himself or another - including his children. He could, after a fashion, create his own family of Gods. It would not escape his knowledge that with Bernael and the Saarai-Kaar and their child, they numbered seven; the traditional numbers of Sith so-called pantheons.

    But he hadn’t performed the same feat that Bernael had at Nubia.

    Not yet, anyway.

    Perched stoically on his throne with his hand resting casually against his bearded chin, Aryan reflected on that single notion. The intervening years since the Battle of Nubia had served as a spiritual journey of sorts. Delving into his past and discovering new insights about the many facets of the Force—including the intricate web that tied his heritage to the overarching balance of the universe—had changed him fundamentally. He was no longer the ambitious fool who had chased after material gain to satisfy his own frivolous desires. That undignified approach had led to countless failures.

    He had risen above that; he had transcended to a different realm of existential understanding and esoteric knowledge.

    In fact, he was no longer Aryan Graul—not in a metaphysical sense. The various revelations and advances had compelled him to embrace his true nature as Sistros. That was his authentic self, an idealized personality that hearkened back to the galaxy’s golden age.

    He intended to reinvent himself and carry those principles forward into the modern era, however, there were still limitations. The only thing holding him back from completing his transformation was the ritual that Bernael had performed at Nubia nearly a decade ago—the ability to absorb a planet’s life force to become immortal. That was the ultimate gain...and the ultimate sacrifice.

    It had developed into an obsession over the years, spurred by his own corporeal existence. What had begun as a mild curiosity had soon evolved to consume every waking thought once he finally accepted the unfortunate truth—there was no escaping the ravages of time.

    Every time he glanced in a mirror, he witnessed a slow deterioration. His countenance had lost its youthful appeal and had given way to an overall grizzled appearance. The skin around his eyes had become loose and pocketed, accentuated by the crow’s feet that creased their corners. The lines continued in intricate patterns that extended across the bridge of his nose and his brow.

    One of the last remaining vestiges of his youth was his thick head of hair, but even that had not been spared from the adverse effects of time. Now distinctly gray, it was swept up and away from his forehead in silver waves.

    Overall, he considered the aging process a vulnerability; one that he was desperate to rectify. He had toiled endlessly during the interim to hone his skills and obtain the necessary experience to perform the ritual. It had been a difficult endeavor, but he finally felt confident in his abilities. He had reached an apex, and this moment would serve as his rebirth.

    With a leering grin, Aryan leaned forward to gaze upon the cerulean world slowly turning beyond the viewport.

    Nouane.

    It was his chosen sacrifice; the instrument that would channel his power and ensure his success.

    When Chancellor Amedda had reorganized the galactic government into the Galactic Empire forty years ago, all remaining allied regions had also restructured into Imperial client states. While they remained semi-autonomous, they still existed under the Empire’s influential bubble. Nouane was one such world. They stood as a steadfast supporter of the Empire throughout the Cold War era and the Galactic Civil War that followed.

    However, that loyalty quickly dissolved when the New Republic rose to prominence after the Empire’s defeat at Coruscant. Nouane became a neutral, independent province once more.

    Decades later, that emerged as a point of contention between the Nouanese and the Eternal Empire. Their adamant refusal to reintegrate with the Empire in the wake of Palpatine’s announcement had led to constant tension along the border, stalled negotiations, and heightened scrutiny. The situation was like a taut wire ready to snap back and cause serious harm.

    Aryan did not have the patience to wait and see who sustained the most damage. He had decided the outcome, and Nouane would be on the losing end. Their insolence would be met with swift retribution; no survivors, no mercy.

    Of course, he also had an ulterior motive for his choice. Nouane had a rich history that extended back to the pre-Republic days; most notably, many heralded the world as the birthplace of the Sages of Dwartii. And in conjunction, that led him back to Joren Graal, who he believed was the first incarnation of Sistros. It was all connected, which is why Aryan wanted to uncover more about his ancestors and how they related to the Change. He craved answers, and he hoped to find the truth on the planet below.

    Clenching his fist around the Scepter of Ragnos, the Emperor rose to his feet and slowly strode down the central walkway to join his wife and children at the main viewport. He acknowledged Jalynn’s presence with a wan smile before ruffling young Arek’s hair with a playful disposition—he was mindful of the child’s impressionable nature; he would need to carefully ease him through this process to mitigate the discomfort.

    Finally, he turned to Gaeriel and captured her hand in his own, leaning close to place a kiss on her cheek. "People who are afraid to become gods say it’s impossible," he murmured in a gravelly baritone. "They are fearful of us and fail to comprehend our unifying vision—of order and peace. They do not understand what is bearing down on them, and so they panic." A dark shadow passed over his face, emphasizing his features. "Let them fear us. Today we stand on the precipice of greatness."

    Aryan tapped the scepter against the deck plates and inclined his chin. "It’s time to begin."

    Gaeriel was as regal as ever. She was the Eternal Empress, secure in her position and power. All but gone was her belief in the Cosmic Balance and what remained was purely faith in herself.

    [​IMG]

    She and the Eternal Imperial Family commanded a third of the galaxy, and closer to half by mutual-aid-treaty with the Bothans and Hutts. Had the Imperial Remnant, Corporate Sector, and Mandalorians not divided the north - and the first of the row not aligned with the Senate - they would rule more territory than the New Republic. But notwithstanding this, there had been order, stability, and peace. The Eternal Throne was secure, and thousands of Eternal warships now served each Aryan and Bernael.

    Those treaties had brought the Eternal sphere of influence close to Nouane, but it had been an allied region of the New Republic for many years. Stopping just at full membership, they were fundamentally aligned with the Senate only because the Mandalorians were as close as Roche now - at least by treaty. Indeed, Nouane was coming into striking distance of many powers, and shadows draped the edges of the Perlemian Trade Route, which was aggressively patrolled by the New Republic, Hapans, and Imperial Remnant. To infringe upon it directly would be to court galactic war.

    Indeed, they had crossed that invisible lines, but the Eternal flagship - the second such in their possession, for of course both Emperors had to be equal in the eyes of the Empire - was as swift as it was powerful, and they had an escort. The first flagship was already assigned, of course, but all in the Cabinet knew of Bernael. He spent much of his time on Anzat, raising a shadow corps of assassins and Jensaarai dedicated to the dark side. A second secret capital; the Dark Empire within the Eternal Empire.

    Day to day ruling and political matters remained Aryan’s province, thus their gains in the years to come. But Gaeriel knew that while he was content to cede military authors to Bernael, he hungered for power in the Force equivalent to the Anzati. For indeed the Force was the nectar of Gods, and Aryan had merely sipped at the chalice.

    The whole family was here, including Jalynn and Arek, the latter now some seven years old.

    She had some idea of what Aryan proposed - after his long vigil over the so-called Writings of Dwartii, consulting with his holocrons, drawing upon his memories of prior lives and so forth. Gaeriel had not once thought him mad, not after that hesitancy eight years ago. Treen had been nothing to Aryan - just a tool to an end. But she also knew that when something was within her husband’s reach, he couldn’t avoid attempting to take it.

    "We stand here with you, my love."

    Aryan canted his head and met her gaze with a contented smile. It had been an arduous journey so far, and he recognized that it had affected all of them in various ways. For Gaeriel, she had arguably endured the most adversity since the Empire’s inception, which is why this moment was so crucial for his family. He was about to bestow upon them a great gift; a divine power that would grant them omnipotence. They were about to become...eternal.

    Allowing his fingers to trail across his wife’s forearm, the intimate touch beckoned her forward as the Emperor ascended the platform toward the crystalline dome that extended beyond the bridge’s topmost pinnacle. It was an observatory of sorts, affording breathtaking views of the heavens in a wide panorama. Only a thin magnetic field protected them from the vacuum of space, creating the illusion that they could touch the stars—almost as if they were gods.

    It was a poignant statement, one that was not lost to Aryan. The architects had intended for this viewing tower to evoke such sentiments, and now, he would take it a step further to make it a reality.

    With the Scepter of Ragnos held firmly in his right hand, he extended the other to clasp his son’s smaller one. He then nodded to the boy, encouraging him to accept Gaeriel’s, and for her to do the same for Jalynn until they stood together in unity.

    Finally, Aryan lowered his chin and concentrated on Nouane’s bluish orb hanging in tranquility below them. The Force noticeably stirred as he summoned the scepter’s power, the darkness springing forth to generate long tendrils of energy that danced in scintillating patterns around the enclosed space. The Emperor fed on this vibrant intensity, his eyes shifting from their usual blue-gray to a golden-yellow to reflect the dark energy coursing through his body.

    As the Force surged and coalesced with his presence, he reached out to the planet and touched every mind of every being on the surface. His power flowed through them, bending their perceptions so that it would amplify their fear. He wanted them to understand that their defiance would result in dire consequences.

    Nevertheless, they should also rejoice in this moment. They were about to experience spiritual purification; their sacrifice would ultimately serve a greater purpose.

    Even as this knowledge impressed upon the populace—the revelation that all would perish—Aryan utilized the scepter to channel the energy he had gathered through the Force. It functioned as the central nexus, converging his power into a single focal point.

    At his command, the intense beam lanced out toward Nouane to swath the world in perpetual darkness.

    The Eternal flagship had, of course, jammed comms and ensured Aryan was not so far away as to mean the beam would take days to travel at the speed of light. As such, in a matter of minutes, it slammed into the surface - precisely where the Clock-Tower had once stood, of course, as a kind of Celestial revenge, ordained by Skelm himself.

    The family watched through the viewport as a world began to die.

    First, the blast turned the ground black, spreading like a shadow, every sentient it touched dropping to the floor as if rendered inanimate, something key to them drained and removed. There would be no medical reason, no scientific rhyme, merely the mass death of the M-cells that permeated all life, and now, ceased to be. That released a font of energy into the Force, and that power was greedily consumed by the Scepter of Ragnos.

    In an alternate time and place, a small-minded woman by the name of Tavion would use this to drain Force strong sites to reanimate a single, five millennia-old corpse. Marka Ragnos himself. Perhaps thereafter as Dark Lord of the Sith, he would have enacted such a punishment upon whole worlds.

    But here, and now, there was no such Sith spirit pulling the strings.

    No, he had been obliterated at Exegol with Exar Kun, Naga Sadow, and other spirits, all tethered to Darth Zorn and providing the similarly small-minded Sith with a battery of power. Destruction and chaos was his province, not even the construction of Empire - he inherited cults and Imperials and shipyard and thrones.

    It was Skelm - and Bernael - that had made the potential of Exegol real, unmoored and untethered to the historic sentiment of the Sith Lords. The chains were broken.

    Nouane died.

    The power was held in the scepter.

    For him to bestow.

    Gaeriel watched in awe, in terror, in love and lust.

    It was sublime.

    Jalynn held her little brother’s hand, and his eyes shone with wonder.

    There was a hunger there, too, even now, in little Arek.

    He wanted it, too.

    They all did.

    The darkness hung around Skelm like a cocoon as he stepped back to regard the power he now held in his hands. It generated a certain buzz, almost as if a strong electric current had crackled through the air above their heads. He could feel it tugging on his flesh, setting the hair on his arms and the back of his neck on edge. This effect stimulated his senses and pushed his anticipation beyond anything he could sufficiently contain.

    In the midst of this turbulent energy, he could also perceive the distant echoes of the many beings who had perished on the planet below. They had passed on to an incorporeal existence, but their souls would soon live on through the Eternal Family.

    It was time to complete the ritual and usher in a new era.

    "Come," Skelm uttered in a husky voice, gesturing for his family to gather close to him. His eyes continued to glow with an unnatural light, attesting to his excitement. "Don’t be afraid. Nouane’s cleansing is complete, and now we shall bear witness as we step into a higher realm."

    Without hesitation, he positioned the scepter between them and closed his eyes to summon its power. The ornate structure atop the staff briefly illuminated before four tendrils of light branched out from its center. The silvery threads touched each of them in turn, the power flowing through their bodies as it permeated their cells and began to change them—and enhance them.

    This is what Tavion did.

    She’d been a member of the Empire Youth, a Neo Imperial terrorist organisation that had been soundly defeated and a very small amount of its Reborn Force users had survived a finale at Yavin 4. The leader of the Empire Reborn had attempted to make a deal with an Old One and been eaten for it. The Empire Reborn appeared finished until Tavion discovered the Scepter of Ragnos with a collector on Commenor - a man merely known as the Foreteller.

    With the Scepter, she’d drained Force powerful sights and used that power to imbue strength upon the surviving Empire Youth and also new recruits, rapidly creating a Sith cultist army - the Disciples of Ragnos. But while Tavion had no interest in elevating anyone to the levels she enjoyed, Eternal Emperor Graul wanted an Eternal Family.

    Instantly, the three of them - Gaeriel, Jalynn, Arek - were elevated in Force power by incredible proportions. They grew strong, wielding immense strength. It was haphazard, yes, as being imbued was no substitute for training, but with time they would acquire that discipline and become even greater threats.

    Time afforded by the ruthless New Republic Director of Intelligence Dif Scaur, with complicity from now-Chancellor Beruss, who silenced the disaster and imposed a communications blockade on the Nouane sector. Only droid relief was secretly sent because the two reasoned that the New Republic was not ready. The Advisory Council never found out; the Senate heard only whispers of Eternal apocalypses inflicted upon member worlds; the Jedi would know of such things but the Force did not illuminate as to the where and when any longer.

    Nobody else in the New Republic knew that Nouane was gone.

    Meanwhile for Gaeriel, Jalynn and Arek, it would become a transformative experience that elevated them to near-Godhood. Holding her hands up to her and seeing them through Force-tinted senses, Gaeriel suddenly could tell how interconnected she and her family now were. Their love was a binding one that made them impossible to defeat and undue.

    Arek immediately set to work turning to a Skytrooper and crushing it. He giggled. Jalynn made herself float, laughing. Gaeriel lightly used the Force to draw herself to her husband, eyes carnivorous and her corruption complete.

    They were power.

    They would rule.

    Eternally.

    Aryan relished the euphoric rush that accompanied their ascension. He could feel the raw power coursing through his veins, augmenting his senses and abilities beyond the purview of human understanding. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced before, and as he gazed upon his family in the glory of their newfound godhood, he couldn’t help but smile with absolute pride.

    They had achieved greatness together, but that was only a small fraction of what they were now capable of—they had access to unlimited power. The ritual itself had forged an unshakable bond between them; their minds, their very essences, had become one.

    But Aryan recognized that it had also touched—and transformed—his consciousness on a more intimate level. It went back centuries to his inherent connection to the being known as Sistros, a revered member of the Sages of Dwartii. Through his exaltation, he had finally attained the means to fully embody Sistros’ spirit and to embrace his true self.

    His transfiguration was now complete.

    Aryan Graul ceased to exist.

    He was reborn as Sistros Graal.

    Basking in his new identity, the Eternal Emperor turned to regard his wife as she tugged at him through the Force. He could see the lust reflecting in her heterochromatic eyes, and he found himself unable to resist. Leaning down, he nestled against her neck and planted a series of kisses upon her bare flesh.

    "I hope you enjoy your gift, my love," he whispered in a sultry tone, disengaging long enough to meet her gaze. "I did this for you...for all of us. We will never again have to worry about the material forces that influence this galaxy. We are beyond that."

    His eyes blazed, exultant. "We are…immortal."

    [​IMG]
    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2021
  16. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Nine years after Twilight of the Force II

    Madelyn is called to Tython by the Jedi Council to make a decision.

    TAG: with @TheSilentInfluence
     
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  17. TheSilentInfluence

    TheSilentInfluence Silent and Friendly Mod of SWTV and SWC star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Jul 15, 2014
    Between Combo - Madelyn II - 9 years later

    The Jedi Council was summoned.

    Well, what passed as the Jedi Council.

    In the years since the Battle of Exegol, that had been the healer Cilghal, the spymaster Tresina Lobi, the Corellian Corran Horn and more often than not Madelyn, especially as her skill with battle meditation made her key to any Jedi contribution to the anticipated war effort against the Yuuzhan Vong.

    Now however, they were gathered in the Jedi Council chambers on Tython - a world chosen for the innumerable black holes protecting its secret location - and the three of them turned to look at Madelyn. They were all here in person, and they all smiled to greet her as she arrived.

    “Master Linnett, thank you for coming on such short notice.”

    Her ties to the Mandalorian sector had grown more and more limited over the years, especially as the clans had turned further and further away from the New Republic - with their new beskar lode, which was still providing them with a great yield, her former home had became a powerful network of alliances and ‘protection arrangements’ with a thousand worlds stretching as far coreward as the Roche hives and as far rimward as Almania, with accords with the Tion and Corporate Sector too.

    “There’s no new crisis, I promise,” Corran said, holding up a hand.

    “We just wanted to discuss your role in the Order, and an expansion to the Council’s membership. We have over five hundred Jedi now, after all,” Cilghal said, in a conciliatory tone.

    “So the sooner we formalise the Order, the better, I am sure you will agree,” Tresina hedged.

    They were clearly building up to something.

    Madelyn Linnett always felt nervous going into the Council Chambers. Even though she was a member of the Council itself. She had come a long way from being Mand'alor. Madelyn had grown even more as a person. And she often wondered if being a Jedi had something to do with that.

    "Of course. I'm happy to help." Madelyn replied. She moved towards her seat and sat down. She glanced curiously at them, wondering if thetr was something wrong. But Master
    Corran's words quickly calmed her. Instead she listened, and thought.

    "Sounds like were about to have our hands full." Madelyn said with a smile. She looked at the other council members. "I've helped to train a few Jedi, but expanding the council is a big step. Who did you have in mind to join our ranks?" She asked curiously. There were plenty of Jedi to choose from.

    "And what about my role? Have I not been doing a good job?" Madelyn added, a little worried.

    "We were thinking about Kyp Durron, of course, but also potentially Renn or Vhardia, when Leia is fully trained," Corran said, slowly.

    "The old Council was twelve Jedi, after all," said Cilghal.

    "And that would confirm that our recovery is well on the way if we can at least reach half that number," Tresina added, and then glanced to Cilghal, who half nodded.

    "We have no issues whatsoever with your role," she continued. "None whatsoever, but we would appreciate your view of the nominees the Council has in mind. We do like unanimity in our decision making process, after all."

    Madelyn nodded. "Well thank you for you're faith in me. I do think that Kyp Durron would be a great candidate. He would do well on the Jedi Council." She paused, "Could we not have both Renn and Vhardia on the Jedi Council once Leia has finished training? Or would that be too complicated?" She asked.

    “Both would work,” Corran said, nodding. “Especially Renn - I wanted to make his connection to the Order even more than just his tie to Vhardia.”

    Cilghal smoothed her lips. Jedi should not have attachments. The Mon Calamari didn’t believe the words, but she knew them - but since the Jedi had been decimated, they had absorbed members that were adults, with established relationships, and realities had changed.

    Tresina paused then pressed on. “But we wanted to know what role you envisioned in the future. Many Knights respect you, and your role in the end of the First Civil War, as well as your heroism at Kashyyyk and Exegol and Coruscant.”

    “And your battle meditation is a once-in-a-generation gift,” Corran said. “The practical applications in the war to come cannot be understated.”

    “We just want you to understand your importance in the Order.”

    Madelyn looked curious. Then let's have both join the Jedi Council. Attachments or not.

    "Do they?" Madelyn asked with uncertainty. "I'm not so sure that's a good idea. I was never good at leading people. And I initially only accepted this position out of formality." Madelyn admitted. "I enjoy it don't get me wrong." She paused. "But even having the gift of Battle Meditation can be hard to handle."

    Madelyn smiled at them. "I hope you understand I am grateful to be here though."

    “That’s the point,” Corran said. “You understand your responsibility, and the duty that comes with it.”

    He looked to the others, each of which nodded. “Which is why we’ve have a proposal in mind for you. We’re all in agreement that the position needs to be filled to project confidence in the Jedi Order - something that is going to be needed in the years to come. That once the Yuuzhan Vong, Thrawn and the Eternal Empire are defeated, we can return to stability.”

    Cilghal took up the lead. “With that in mind - the Jedi Council has voted to make you Grandmaster of the Order.”

    “And we would like for you to accept, even if you don’t believe you are worthy of the role - because you truly are, Madelyn,” Tresina said, softly, warmly.

    Their faith in her would buoy her in the Force.

    Madelyn swallowed hard, not sure what to think in the moment. Instead she stood up rather abruptly, pacing for a moment as she considered their words.

    "I don't know what to say. I'm honored of course, but this is a big step." Madelyn told them nervously. "I know I won't be alone in making decisions for the battles to come..." Madelyn looked at Tresina and the others. "I'm just...I'm sorry. I'm in a bit of a shock." She admitted. "You have an awful lot of faith in me."

    “Faith that has been proven many times over,” Corran assured her. “You are our greatest warrior, our keenest empath, our softest diplomat, our warmest teacher.”

    The Force was gentle; approving even.

    Cilghal stood up and took Madelyn’s hands in hers; they were friends, the whole Council were, and the Mon Calamari kindly looked into her eyes. “You really are the best Jedi for the job.”

    Tresina made a joke. “And if you could run the clans for fourteen years, I’m sure you can handle us.”

    Madelyn smiled, warmed by their faith in her and the force. "Thank you. I accept the title of Grandmaster of the Jedi Order." Madelyn sounded a little embarrassed. They were her friends and she knew deep down they wouldn't do this unless they completely trusted her.

    She looked at Tresina and raised her eyebrows, "Are you sure? Because the handling the clans amd handling you are two different things." Madelyn joked back.

    The three of them smiled, and Cilghal drew Madelyn into a hug. "Congratulations, Madelyn."

    Corran leaned forward in his chair; he wasn't a hugger. "You will need to pick a Senior Master to be your second, of course. Like how Master Windu used to be the second to Grandmaster Yoda."

    "But not right now," Tresina said with a flutter. "We need to let the Order - and the Senate - know."

    Madelyn looked pleased, and hugged Cilghal back. "Thank you." She pulled away, and looked over at Corran as he spoke. "I'll have to think very seriously about who I want as my second." She admitted, unsure of who to pick.

    Madelyn looked thoughtful. "I suppose we had better let them know as soon as possible."

    Tag: @Sinrebirth
     
  18. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Ten years after Twilight of the Force II

    The training of Leia comes to an end, and the Council ask Renn and Vhardia how they intend to fit into the future. Theirs, and that of the New Jedi Order.

    TAG: @TheSilentInfluence, @darthbernael, @darthhelinith
     
  19. darthhelinith

    darthhelinith Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Feb 10, 2009
    Between Combo - Leia, Vhardia and Renn - 10 years later

    Inevitably, this was going to come. Leia had faced a trial of the spirit against Abeloth, and at such a young age. The death of her first Master had left no scars on her soul, and her bond with her Kyber was stronger than ever.

    She had become the quintessential Jedi Knight under the tutelage of her Master, Vhardia, and a Council member had recalled them to Tython - the hidden Jedi world - to finalise it.

    In short, the Council was ready to Knight her. Master Corran Horn would have care of her final trial, and Vhardia as her Master, and Renn, as Vhardia’s Jedi partner, would be welcome to attend. In the decade since the Battle of Exegol they had all grown in many ways, but the Force had not demanded they rush off to confront Bernael.

    Instead, it has settled into a balance of sorts, as if the darkness dominating a third of the galaxy, and the light a half, was completely acceptable to the Force - baffling Jedi philosophers.

    And so they wound their way into the Deep Core together, needing to work together to traverse the winding paths and gravitic traps of the region.


    Tython awaited.


    And with it, their future.

    ***

    Ten years, had it truly been ten years. Leia had grown from the six year old girl she had been into a very well trained Jedi, or so Renn believed. He had aided Vhardia as much as possible. He and the Light had bonded deeper and his growing power in it had assisted in her training.

    Their time on Hoth had been then well spent. He and Vhardia had ‘danced’ around what they both felt, in that time. It was there and neither denied it but they had chosen to try to not delve deeper because they were who they were. It was, however, part and parcel of a bond that couldn't be measured or ignored by the Jedi or themselves, not for much longer. Of course their little droid BB-8 had his own thoughts on the matter and, on many occasions, attempted to get them together, face to face, alone.

    But this was not that adventure, this adventure was Leia’s. She had reached that stage of her training where it was time to test how well she was trained. She, and Vhardia, had been summoned to Tython for her to pass her Trial and become a Knight. Renn had been extended an invitation to witness it as well. His status with the Jedi was one of mutual respect, they recognized what he was, had chosen to call him a Master as a sign of respect.

    He had gathered what was needed for the voyage, settling it in the cargo hold of the freighter. Once the ship was prepared he returned to them both, ”Ladies, our chariot awaits. And, BB-8, be good.” He didn’t expect the droid to do so, that same comment had been ignored for years as it was but it was worth a try.

    The initial launch and departure was uneventful but they would have to work together to reach their destination. And there was no guarantee that their, several, foes wouldn’t attempt to stop them along the way.

    Leia knew she shouldn't be feeling a little arrogant about everything. But she couldn't help it.

    She was on track for completing her Jedi trials at sixteen. A relatively young age to do so. She knew it was thanks to Master Vhardia and Master Renn's training, and she was thankful for that. But Leia knew she didn't get this far with training alone.

    Now though, Leia was facing her final trial. And she felt a little excited at the anticipation of their mission.

    "So what will I be facing? A rancor? A dark Jedi? A hundred battle droids?" Leia asked eagerly.


    Vhardia raised an eyebrow at Renn.

    "Chariot? Really? It's been ten years, you should know we travel in nothing less than a carriage," she teased.

    Ten years of hiding in the snow. She thought to herself. She stood and pulled up the fur-lined hood of her cloak, glancing over at Leia as she did so. "As for what your trial is, only the council know, and even they might be shaky on the details. It's a highly personal thing, a journey of discovery, not a tick list." She noted, wrinkling her nose.

    "Quite honestly, the thing I'm most looking forward to is seeing some greenery again, especially the type of plants that don't talk back." Her eyes twinkled mischievously at Leia.

    Leia made a noise of mock disgust.

    "Do you really have to act like that in front of me? Just hold hands already, before BB-8 welds your belts together." Leia told them with a laugh in her voice. She glanced at BB-8. "Besides, I've spent years discovering who I am. What's one more trial? It won't change me that much, Masters."

    Renn had begun to chuckle at the carriage remark, opening his mouth to retort, a back and forth that he and Vhardia had gone through for years when Leia spoke up. His mouth closed with a ‘clop’, turning and raising an eyebrow at the droid who seemed to radiate amusement, if a droid could, with it’s welding torch already out and slowly moving toward he and Vhardia.

    Glancing down at her, ”I think they’re both serious, my Little Curious one. Your Padawan is too smart for her own good.” he said as he stepped closer to her.

    A grin formed, his hand reaching toward hers, ”Although...it may cause quite a stir if two Masters show up physically welded to one another.”

    In ten years, Vhardia had become somewhat used to Leia's jibes and BB-8's prodding but her neck went bright pink nonetheless and the flush threatened to invade her entire face when Renn held out his hand.
    She smiled softly and rested her hands on his one, gently curling the barked palm closed, with hers around it for a fond moment before letting go.

    We'll talk later. She thought to him.
    "Honestly, you're as bad as they are." She told him aloud, reproachful but teasing still.

    Renn's gaze turned toward Leia, ”We...we’ve only done what we thought needed to be done so we could focus on your training. You’re like a daughter to us, in a way, and we wanted to be sure you are as fully prepared to face the dangers to come as possible, even at the expense of other things.”

    He sighed, a mixture of emotions in it, ”I cannot say I know what the Trial will bring but I’m sure you will pass with flying colors.” His smile returned, ”Let’s get this ‘carriage’ moving so we can celebrate your achievement, when you do so.”

    Leia threw her head back and laughed at the situation, before calming herself enough to speak. She was happy they liked her sense of humor and that they had cared for her like parents would all these years.

    Of course, Leia had her biological parents; but it was nice to have an extra set to watch out for her.

    "I know. And you've been like parents to me. Somewhat overprotective ones." She teased. "I just hope you're right about my trial." Leia added as she boarded. She frowned a little. Especially if I want to be on the Jedi Council one day.

    ***

    The Master who stood before them was Corran Horn.

    He smiled in greeting as he stepped forward, the Corellian Jedi nodding. "Padawan, I am to be your guide through your final Trial."

    "The Jedi have five Trials: Skill, Courage, Spirit, Flesh, and Insight," Corran said, clearly and carefully. "Many of these Trials you yourself faced in the Second Galactic Civil War," he referred to the week long series of skirmishes fifteen years ago, "and have passed since."

    Corran felt it important to confirm what she had passed so far.

    "The Trial of Skill against the Tu'kata on Yavin 4..." he indicated Renn, who had been present then and had previously spoken of her skill, "and the Trial of Courage facing Abeloth in the Maw..." he allowed the memory of the loss of Grandmaster Ood Bnar there to rise up between them all, and pressed on. "The Trial of Flesh in the loss of your first Master, Kyle Katarn," as he spoke those words his eyes focused on the Padawan, though he knew that the events that had seen Vhardia instead become Leia's Master were ones which haunted her, too. "The Trial of Insight, when you followed the call of your Kyber crystal across the surface of Ilum and crippled Starkiller Base, saving the galaxy."


    He waited for them each to absorb what he had said, to react, to lament, to harden, to emphasize.


    Corran would be watching them all.

    The Trial was as much a judgment on the Padawan as the Master, and Vhardia's Jedi partner Renn was part of that process.


    Leia bowed to Master Corran Horn as she approached him in greeting, but did not get a chance to say hello as he started to speak to her, and her Masters about the trials she had faced.


    It was true, although Leia felt shy about what she had achieved. It had been hard back then, to be separated from her family, and go up against the dark side. She had been a little kid after all. Hardly understanding what was going on half the time.


    She had also passed four of the trials, but the one on spirit remained. Leia wondered what that would entail.


    Renn and the Light listened as Master Horn spoke. They, he, as the two had bonded on every level in the last ten years, listened and his head nodded in understanding as the Master of the Trial explained to Leia about every Trial she had already partaken of. Memories rose, some painful, some filled with pride at Leia, filled him and he let the remembered emotions of those events flow through him without disturbing the peace he’d found as the three of them had grown, learned, and lived together.

    He did not speak, letting Leia take the lead as it was her Trial but he could sense that, in a way, they would all be tested in this final Trial. He nodded to Corran, his eyes brilliant with the Light filling them but stayed at Vhardia’s side, although a wave of support flowed from him to Leia, more to reassure her than to aid her, but they would soon find out what this Trial involved.


    Vhardia appeared reserved, possibly even troubled, as she brought to mind her own trials but she said nothing.

    She couldn't help but worry for Leia, and felt it her duty to do so, both knowing some of what could be ahead and that, twenty five years ago, she'd had no-one to worry for her, as she faced the last of her trials alone, with the council as neutral witnesses.

    Surely Leia was too young to be doing this, what if there was something she had forgotten to teach her?

    She took a low breath and kept her emotions in check.


    "The trial of spirit is what's left. Right, Master?" Leia looked at Master Corran Horn.

    "That is correct," Corran said, his investigators' eyes noting that Vhardia took a breath, even if her emotions were still. Renn was more of an open holobook, as ever, but he was older, and with age a degree of certainty was inevitable.

    He refocused on Leia. "So, I would have you face the mirror."

    Corran pointed out the hangar. "About a klick west of here there is the Tythos Ridge, a mountain range that at the base includes a small cave. If you go there, you will encounter a vergence in the Force; there - you will see."

    Renn glanced over at Vhardia, before turning to Leia. He stepped forward, a deeper sense of calm coming over him. ”You have all the skills and training we could give you. I have faith in you.” he told her before turning back to Vhardia.

    ”I believe this test is for us all. For Leia a test of facing the mirror, for us a test of being able to let Leia do this on her own. So we must have faith we’ve given her every tool she needs.” he said softly.


    Leia looked confused. "A mirror?" She sounded skeptical. "Well okay, if I have to do that." She frowned a little and glanced back at Master Vhardia and Master Renn.

    "I'm glad you have faith in me. And I appreciate everything you both have done for me." Leia admitted. She turned to Master Corran. "I'm ready to go now. Can BB-8 come with me Master?"

    Vhardia agreed silently with a nod at Renn's words. This would be Leia's quest, her quest alone. But...

    She smiled as Leia mentioned BB-8 before she had even spoken.

    "I was about to suggest the very same thing. While this trial is yours, there's nothing wrong with taking some company. Sometimes the perspective of someone who is not a jedi can be helpful."

    Leia smiled at Master Vhardia. "Thanks Master!" She turned to BB-8. "Let's go BB-8!"

    BB-8 beeped triumphantly, and rolled off with Leia. Master Horn watched her go and regarded the two older Jedi.

    “So, Madelyn had a request of you both, now Leia is facing the Trial.” As the Jedi Grandmaster for over a year now, there was no point Corran referring to her as the Grandmaster - Leia was her daughter, they would know who Madelyn was. “Obligatory question - what role do you see in the Order in the future?”

    Vhardia looked surprised at the question and put a finger to her chin in thought.

    "I'm not really sure," she admitted. "I was hoping to have a break from training a padawan for a bit, maybe do some meditation, travel the galaxy and do some good, but if there are others who need it..."

    Privately, she didn't really see herself as a Master or a member of the council, despite Renn's likely affirmation otherwise.

    Renn looked over at Vhardia, a small smile crossing his face before he looked back to Corran. ”Tests, always tests. And tests often have multiple answers. The Order has had ten years to accept what I am. The Jedi work in harmony with the Force and the Light. Which means I feel your energy whenever any of you utilize the Force. Being what I am I stand by the Order but…”

    He moved slightly closer to Vhardia, ”Leia has made a point, again and again. I am what I am but whether we work here with the Council or make our presence felt more in the galaxy, I will no longer deny how I feel about Vhardia.” he hadn’t discussed it with her but it was past time that they stopped dancing around how they felt, especially among the Jedi. There were great and potent threats out there and this was one that was truly not a threat, to anyone, especially to the Jedi.

    ”And because of that, if the Order rejects what might be between us I will be saddened. Neither of us desire the politics of being on the Council, I would think. We want to bring the Light to a galaxy that is thirsty for it. But I want to have the air cleared about us so that we can do so most fully and joyfully.” He sighed, knowing she’d possibly want words with him later.

    For Leia, BB-8 led her down the swiftest route to the cave in question, and tootled into it when they arrived. The sound echoed out, but no creatures emerged. He looked back at the Padawan, and wondered aloud with an interrogative whistle.

    The Force did indeed feel odd here.
    Leia paused at the entrance, feeling uneasy about something she couldn't quite put her finger on.

    "I agree BB-8. It feels strange. Like there's smething under the surface?" Leia said out loud. She took a few steps forward. "Keep an eye out buddy."

    ***

    On the other side of the valley, Corran’s fighter sat next to the shuttle Renn and Vhardia had been using for the last ten years, and in the light of the twin moons, Vhardia burst into tears.

    The emotions wrapped up in leaving her padawan to face her final test and then having Renn publicly declare no less than undying love for her was too much for someone who had spent the last ten years keeping her feelings to herself. Forty years old and assaulted with choking sobs, she suddenly felt no older than Leia had been when she first met her.

    Renn could feel the emotion in Vhardia and while he hadn’t meant to make her cry he also couldn’t have done other than he had. Kneeling down, he lifted her in his arm, a gentle but close hug, before he stood again. He held her closely and let her cry against him. His eyes lifted, calm but challenging as he looked at Corran, as though saying ’Say something against this I dare you.’

    Corran watched the two Jedi, concerned by Vhardia's reaction, gauging whether she had just broken, or it was relief.

    Renn's gaze merely caused him to quirk an eyebrow, and the green-robed Jedi Master stepped to the edge of the hangar and peered after Leia with the Force to augment his vision. "She's just entered the cave."

    Leia's senses were heightened as she entered the cave, the Khmer Crystal's reflecting on her face as she walked deeper into the darkness. There was a strange, heavy feeling as she walked; until she saw movement out of the corner of her eyes.

    Indeed, she had; the darkness wasn't all that deep, actually, for crystals lined the way, natural formations, not Kyber ones, and they gently carried the light deeper into the cave. However, as Vhardia progressed, BB-8 cautiously scanning but finding no danger, the crystals gave way to a mirror-effect on the walls...

    ... at some point, the difference between the mirror and Leia ceased to be...

    ... and she was talking to Leia.

    Or, rather, the Leia that would become Eleanor.

    She was having the selfsame mirror moment that Vhardia had once had... with her Sith alter-ego, Darth Helinith…


    "BB-8? We aren't alone anymore." Leia said nervously. "Who's there?!"


    ***

    What brought Vhardia back to herself was the nice mossy-grassy smell that she had caught a few times previously when Renn was near. She cried silently a little longer, but it was merely the deep breaths of a heart previously suffocated by the owner's prudence.


    Finally she wiped her eyes on her cloak sleeve and leant against Renn's trunk.
    "Sorry, don't know where that came from." She admitted, feeling a little sheepish.


    Renn kept his attention on Vhardia, suppressing the chuckle that threatened to erupt at Corran’s look. Before the Jedi turned away he favored him with a wink, letting him know he’d caught the response. He shifted his grip so that Vhardia was comfortable as she leaned against him, enjoying the warmth of her in his arms.


    The arm that had less of the support of Vhardia reached down, the hand dipping into the pouch at his belt. It came back up, depositing a fruit roll surreptitiously in her hands, another held in the closed hand that slipped back under her to support her.


    Vhardia’s head turned to Corran as he spoke.

    "Is she okay? What's going on?"


    Renn looked up and paid attention to Leia again as Vhardia spoke and his eyes narrowed. Two Leia’s stood there, theirs and another, that felt different, older, more hardened to the galaxy. ”Is that Leia as well? Another version of her, a darker version, Corran? That was what you said, wasn’t it?”


    Corran shook his head. "Not every Changed version is improved, or worse... just different. Sure, Luke fell, but Anakin didn't, and Mace was supposed to have died long before, so..."


    He glanced at them. "I mean, the chances are that Vhardia would have been caught up in Order 66, or the Empire that followed. I might not have ever made it off Corellia, out of CorSec." He shrugged. "I couldn't say if or when you would have woken, Renn."

    ***


    "Hello!"

    Leia screamed and fell back onto the ground in a sitting position.

    "Why are you on the ground?" A girl, not quite Leia's age but who looked exactly like Leia was standing there; curious.

    "I fell over..." Leia said, embarrassed. She frowned a little. She looks like me. But she feels different.

    "What did you do that for?" The other girl said laughing.

    Leia shrugged, nervous. "Who are you?"

    "I'm you silly. What you might have been." The other Leia said, but she seemed more thoughtful. Wiser.

    Leia didn't say anything for a moment. "That's impossible."

    "You use the force and you think this is impossible?" The other Leia asked. "You don't have to call me Leia anyway. It's Eleanor now."

    "Why am I here...Eleanor?" Leia asked quietly. "Why am I talking to you?"

    "Because you need to realise the galaxy doesn't revolve around you." Eleanor told her plainly. "You're pretty arrogant sometimes."

    "So? I'm just confident." Leia replied, a little angry.

    "Arrogant." Eleanor repeated. "You're lucky you still have your parents in that life. Lucky you're not a refugee..." She argued, "You need to grow up."

    ***


    Back at the ships, Renn had to keep his eyes from widening at Corran’s words. He did look down at Vhardia, his mind touching hers, ’Do you think they know we know of our other selves?’ he thought.

    He looked back up, watching the exchange between the two Leias, ”Corran, this is but one of who knows how many realities. There is every possible version of ourselves so I am sure what you say is correct. The question is how we react to meeting other versions of ourselves, which Leia is now experiencing.”

    He grinned wryly, ”Some versions may be as close as a twin, some so distant in form and belief as to be a complete unknown to us. I just hope that what Leai learns here will enlighten her, teach her, make her think and choose what her path will be, in the future. Either way, I know Vhardia and I will support her just as much as Madelyn will.”


    Vhardia looked thoughtful and kept a look of concern from crossing her face.

    Of course, if Helinith had been born in a world where the Jedi were extinct then she likely would have been found by the Empire.
    For the first time since meeting her, instead of feeling disgusted, Vhardia felt a little sorry for her alter ego.

    Since meeting Helinith, I had suspected that the council might have known that I was supposed to be some sort of dark-sider; they kept a very close eye on me when I was younger. She sent Renn back. Master Ood was always really kind though.

    A sad smile crossed Renn’s face as he thought of Ood. Neti had been a relatively sparse species when he’d gone into hibernation and now he had no idea if he was the last or not, especially after losing his friend. He leaned his head down close to hers and hugged her a little tighter.


    ’I think the Council as a whole would have suspicions if they knew of our bond across timelines, let alone how close this Helinith’s question shows we are in at least that one. Which also tells me the Renn of that reality is as dark as you have said she is. But Ood would never have judged you on that, only on what or who you yourself are.’ he sent her.


    Corran looked at them. “You’re not the quietest, y’know. I’m not listening, guys, but I’m trying to focus on Leia. If you want to be official, go for it, just keep in mind that you’ll have to declare an interest when you’re on the Jedi Council.”

    He casually dropped that in.

    ***

    Meanwhile, in the mirror cave, Leia looked at Eleanor with a frown. "I am a grown up."

    ”You're sixteen. Even if you become a Knight, you still have a lot to learn." Eleanor told Leia. "I had to learn how to help take care of my family, and I'm younger than you."


    Leia sighed. "Well, I don't sense anything untruthful from you."


    "If course not I'm you." Eleanor explained. "Just stop being so arrogant and you'll do fine."


    "Yes well, I'm afraid I don't know what the difference is." Leia cracked a smile.


    "Just be truthful to yourself. Trust yourself to do the right thing. And stop thinking you can do everything by yourself." Eleanor told Leia. "No one gets too far by themselves."


    She's right. I think I can do everything on my own. Leia thought. "I guess I do think that. That I have to do everything by myself."


    ***


    Vhardia, who had been mid-way climbing out of Renn's arms, choked and almost tripped at Corran’s words. She stretched out an arm to steady herself but felt Renn’s hands catch her almost immediately and he set her down, gently, on her feet. So Corran was here to ask them to join the council. Seems this wasn't just the padawan trial that it had first been made out to be. The council were sneaky like that. She hadn't been intending to join them because she didn't think they'd want her but now...


    Her thoughts were muddled by realising exactly how near Renn's face remained to her own, his golden eyes quiet but very real, very close. There seemed to be something there, in them or behind them, that she couldn’t quite read but perhaps if she got closer, she would be able to work out what it was.


    “Renn…” she murmured, and then she realised she didn’t know what it was she was going to say.


    Corran began to speak again but Renn ignored him, for the moment. All that filled his vision was Vhardia, her deep brown eyes gazing into his. He knelt down until they were at eye level, the space between them unchanging. ”Whether we accept what the Council wants or not, we do so together, yes?” he whispered. And then, only then, his mind kicked out what Corran said.


    Corran held up a hand. "I don't expect an immediate answer, but it was a request by the Jedi Council, unanimously - even the Grandmaster agrees." The Grandmaster was Leia's mother, after all.

    "We are sorting through the idea of permanent and temporary seats like the old Council, so if you'd rather grow into the role, you can. With the Yuuzhan Vong coming, we need the views of every capable Knight and Master... each of you are unique, moreso than a fuddy-duddy Jedi like myself who thinks more narrowly than not."


    Renn never looked away from Vhardia but he responded to the Jedi, ”You have incredibly poor timing, Corran, in when you say things, you know that?” he smiled slightly, lost in Vhardia’s eyes. Leaning slightly closer he spoke again, ”If you are going to enforce us taking part, yes I do believe we will do so as we see fit.”


    He’d never known Qui Gon Jin, that Jedi had died while he still slept but his Force ghost was probably somewhere, chuckling and cheering both he and Vhardia on. ”And…” he began before the reverberation played out in the Force.


    Vhardia flushed. For a moment there, she had thought Renn was about to kiss her. And then she realised she was blushing about the thought of someone kissing her and blushed even more.

    Look at you she told herself sternly. Forty years old and you're as red as a teen with her first crush.


    But Corran turned, frowning.


    The moment between the two in the Cave, it changed.


    The Force whisked it into a premonition of sorts.


    A voice that Eleanor would recognise; someone that Leia would not.


    Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That's the only way to become what you were meant to be.


    It reverberated hard.


    Only then did Renn’s eyes move from Vhardia’s, flashing up, brilliance erupting from them, as he took in the scene of the two Leia’s once more, He knew he could not reach out, could not aid her, that she had to face this herself but he prepared himself either way, and moved so that he was in a not so obvious position to guard against harm to Vhardia.

    Vhardia shook her head to clear it.

    "What do you sense?" She whispered.

    The neti was almost bristling, from the Darkness that had filled the scene of the two Leia’s. He could sense the great power of whatever, whoever it was. He heard a name but it made no sense to him, he’d never heard the name before, so perhaps that being only existed in that reality.

    He turned his head slightly so he could see Vhardia, ”I don’t know who it is, but someone has intruded on Leia’s Trial. And he’s about as dark as possible.” he said, in a low voice.


    Looking over to Corran, ”This part of her Trial too? That something outside of her other self can cause her more damage?” he asked sharply.


    Corran hesitated. “I don’t know, these vergences show the Jedi what they need to see.”

    In the cave itself, Eleanor's face fell at the voice, and Leia gave her a confused look. Although there was something different in the force.


    "Who is that?" Leia questioned.


    "Someone who you shouldn't underestimate. His name is Kylo Ren." Eleanor looked afraid.


    "What does he want?" Leia asked, frowning.


    The darkness grew stronger and the words Kylo Ren spoke exploded across the region.


    Let the past die. Kill it if you have to.


    It touched Corran, Renn and Vhardia as well as flowed through Eleanor and Leia.


    You have to.


    He seemed to be pushing through, a crimson blade appearing from the hand of his silhouette, small pinions on either side. The flame spitting as if unstable.


    Thats the only way to become what you were meant to be.


    Eleanor flinched as Kylo seemed to explode with darkness and looked back at Leia. "He's wrong! He's become so twisted with the dark side that he doesn't know how to ask for help when he needs it!"


    Leia fell to her knees, feeling sick. She could hear what Eleanor was saying, and tried to get up. The dark side was overwhelming. "I don't have to kill the past to become who I am. The past made me who I am!"

    Corran decided enough was enough.


    With a touch of the Force, he rushed towards the distant cave.


    Renn’s head whipped back to Vhardia, ”Something’s really wrong, we have to help her. Corran wouldn’t go if she didn’t need it.”


    As his head swung back forward he shifted into something long, sleek, and fast, his skin glowing brightly with the Light. He roared his defiance to the Dark and surged forward. It took only a few moments, even with the time he’d taken to speak to Vhardia, to catch up with Corran.


    ”Neither of them had better be hurt by this…” he muttered to the Jedi as he picked up speed to reach Leia in time.


    Vhardia felt something primal speed through her veins, an automated reaction to hearing, no sensing, Leia was in trouble.

    Her jaw set into a hard line and she had left the area hot on the heels of Corran. Her lightsaber hilt jumped into her hand and a violent pink blade lit up beside her.


    Whatever was in that cave, was about to meet a mother's wrath.


    ***


    The past made you who you are... Jedi Knight.


    Kylo Ren’s mask was suddenly crisscrossed with angry red, and he reached for them. Let the past die.


    He turned to Eleanor.


    Kill it..


    He turned back to Leia.


    If you have to.


    He looked at Corran, who had arrived a few moments before Renn and Vhardia, as Kylo Ren named Leia a Knight. Kylo looked at the three.


    You have to.


    You have to.


    You have to.



    He had said what he needed to say.


    The vision faded, and Eleanor was going away too. Leia had refused Kylo Ren, had pushed back against the future...


    ... or the past.


    Eleanor smiled faintly as Kylo Ren named Leia a Jedi Knight, and glanced at the others as they arrived. She didn't say anything as she started to fade away, but raised her hand in goodbye as Leia stood stared in shock.


    Corran hesitated. “Well, a Sith spirit naming a Jedi Knight is a new one, but...” He quirked a smile at Eleanor. “The test of the mirror, but not so literally....”


    He looked at Renn and Vhardia. “Seems you did well with Leia.”


    “Do you accept?” Corran said to Leia.


    "What?" Leia looked confused. She didn't understand how a Sith spirit could name her a Jedi Knight. She raised her hand in farewell to Eleanor as she faded away, and glanced at Master Corran as he spoke.


    "I accept Master, as long as this doesn't cause any complications." Leia told him. She glanced at Master Vhardia and Master Renn, wondering what they thought about this.


    Renn skidded to a stop beside Corran, his bark glowing as he shifted back to his normal form. He saw and heard as the Sith Spirit named Leia a Knight, felt the rightness of it even as Corran agreed but let his senses quest out further, cleansing the area around them even as the alternate Leia, the Eleanor, discorporated.


    Vhardia almost crashed into Corran and Renn as the two stopped in front of her, Renn having overtaken her seconds before. Looking around and understanding the threat had passed, her lightsaber hilt returned to its belt as she sighed in relief.


    "You're alright. She's alright, we're okay. Oh thank the force." She resisted the strong urge to dash over to the sixteen-year-old and pull her into a hug. Instead, she stood and smoothed her robe. "Now there can be no doubt the rest of the order will recognise the capable jedi you have become, and will continue to become." She smiled.


    Renn slowly drew the light side’s energy back into himself, sighing as he let go of that aspect of himself. And then he heard Leia’s answer and smiled broadly. ”Well done, indeed Leia, welcome to being a Knight.” He could feel the burning worry of Vhardia slowly fading beside him as he turned, dropping to his knees, and wrapping her in a big hug. ”We taught her well, you taught her well, my little Miss Curious.” he said happily. Without realising, his lips softly brushed Vhardia’s own. She felt her cheeks burning but with the way he held her against him, it just didn’t seem to matter any more.

    As the momentary kiss ended a different sort of light filled Renn’s features. His head shifted for a moment, looking at Corran, ”We accept, both those things you put to us, Corran, as long as Vhardia agrees.” he said softly before turning back and kissing her more deeply, no longer caring if the others knew or saw.

    Leia looked ecstatic as her braid was cut off, and she desperately wanted to jump for joy. Instead, Leia stood there feeling proud. She had become a Jedi Knight!

    I can't believe it! Wait until mother hears!

    TAG: @Sinrebirth
     
  20. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Twelve years after Twilight of the Force II

    Tor has a confrontation that will leave the Mandalorian wondering what they will do next.

    TAG: @galactic-vagabond422
     
  21. galactic-vagabond422

    galactic-vagabond422 Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Tor 'Fett' Dar'Solus
    Twelve years after Twilight of the Force II

    Twelve years was a long time, but when you had established yourself as the most ruthless and efficient bounty hunter in the galaxy - Tor Fett, was the nickname that the Guild gave him - it wasn’t a big surprise that the time went pretty quickly.

    There was easy money to be made in the Cold War between the Eternal Empire and the New Republic, especially when New Republic Intelligence floated contracts through third parties and the Eternal Councillors did the same. Never again did a contract surface against Aryan Graul, nor against the Chancellor’s. To do that would have triggered a war that neither side could guarantee would be won before Palpatine arrived.

    There were three more years to go when Tor, fresh off a spate of payouts for contracts, suddenly lost control of Slave I. It turned, jumped, and arrived at Tatooine, refusing to obey, and, eventually, settled at a blank spot in the Dune Sea. The ship turned as it did, landing perfectly to open the ramp to the person waiting for it in battered Mandalorian armour.

    It was Boba Fett.

    The di’kut had faked his death - somehow even tricked Madelyn too.

    He waited for Tor to emerge.

    Well, wasn't this just perfect. She turned in a few bounties made a pile of credits and was moving on to the next when all control was taken away from her. The new best bounty hunter found herself stuck, trying to override the controls, as it whisked her away to an unknown location. If there was one thing she detested, it was control being taken away from her. She had worked very hard to be able to chart her own course, to make up for the looming day, she would take her place. After an hour of trying and failing to regain control she just sat in stewing anger.

    She wasn't just going to let herself greet this interloper unprepared. Leaving the cockpit she moved down to her personal quarters. It was a small space, though it was big enough. Enough space for her to sleep, get dressed and take a shower. The walls were covered in holos and drawings. Some of her mother, her father, and of her sister, Leia. It had been rough for the pair after the war ended. Tor went through her mother's hellish training for a few more years before they young woman was thrust into the life of a bounty hunter. It wasn't much better for Leia, being cooped up far away from her, trained to be a guardian and protector. She was rarely let out on her own, not with the looming threat of Palpatine in the future. They would need every light they had to face him. Though they did steal away a few moments, precious few. Often with Tor showing up out of nowhere and offering Leia a joy ride. That grey medallion Tor continued to wear granting her some protection against the senses of the other jedi.

    It was fun for those few moments Tor had grown up a lot, had seen a lot of the galaxy. They didn't go on crazy adventures, not like they did so many years ago. Mostly they just hung out, talked, moaned about their lives and maybe went to a dinner or some random place just to be together.

    Often Leia would mention the need to work together, the darkness on the horizon would need everyone in harmony.

    Meanwhile Ka'rta, Mandalore the Vengeant, continued to amass power, and systems. Through force or intimidation. Tor let out a breath, this was not the cooperation Leia kept espousing. Tor and her mother hadn't spoken in a while. The Mand'alor being far too busy to take a call from her own daughter.

    One day that would change, one day Ka'rta would listen.

    On the wall opposite the holos were an armor stand, and a weapons locker. Just like her mother Tor kept a truly impressive amount of weaponry. Though it wasn't all heavy ordnance, there was some of that, but also glop grenades, stun grenades, riot guns, and net launchers. Tor was a hunter, not a killer, her choice or weapons showed that.

    This time though she didn't take any less lethal weapons. Her hands drew out a high explosive warhead for her wrist launcher and a frag grenade. On her belt was the pistol Fett had given her all those years ago, well maintained, well cared for.

    As she armed up her hand brushed over a metal hilt lacking a blade. Ever just touching it she felt the power held within it. Her arm quickly recoiled, not wanting to take up the Darksaber.

    It wasn't time yet and she'd be a fool to carry the thing around so openly. No it remained locked away for the appointed time.

    Armed to the teeth she heard the alert that she was dropping out of hyperspace...time to meet her phantom.

    As it came down she saw a familiar looking mandalorian, one that should be dead...

    As the ramp lowered she came charging down the ramp, his father's blaster drawn, ready to fire.

    "Give me back my ship di'kut and maybe I'll let you live."

    Fett didn’t move a muscle to the blaster targeting. He was in his own beskar; he wasn’t concerned by blasters.

    “I think it’s time you gave it back, Tor. I’m taking you in. Taking you home.”

    He slowly reached for his hilt, telegraphing his intentions, not acting remotely threateningly. He held a lightsaber hilt.

    “Fenn Shysa wanted me to be Mand’alor once. He asked enough times. I don’t him where to stow it. I reckon if I beat you for that Darksaber I’ll have proven I should have it.”

    A challenger.

    How did a man who had been dead for years know about the Darksaber?!

    "You gave it to me, with your dying breaths." Tor reminded him. "You have no more claim to it. And good luck bringing me in. I'm not the same scared twelve year old ad'ika just getting out of her buir's wing." The bounty hunter stood her ground aiming for the small spots on the armor, the neck, the armpits.

    She watched his hand move towards the lightsaber hilt on his belt.

    "Really," she remarked quickly swapping the pistol to her left hand. "You want to challenge for it now? How do you even know about it old man." This was going to be interesting, seeing how the Darksaber is locked up on the ship behind a lock only she knew the combo to...It was the day her and Leia first said goodbye as the latter went off for jedi training. Though she wasn't unprepared. Her right hand reached to her lower back drawing a long knife from the sheath she kept there. The edge shimmered with beskar, a gift from her aunt back when Madelyn was Mand'alor.

    She was thankful now for the lessons Auntie gave her in fighting against lightsabers. Even more thankful for Leia, even in her arrogance, in teaching Tor a few counters. Leia loved showing off, displaying her skills and proving just how good a jedi she was.

    The challenge had been laid, and Tor would answer.

    With a quick step she let off a few quick shots to distract him and closed the distance. Her reach was shorter and she knew she had to get in close, and quick. There would be no circling each other, waiting for the other to strike. This would be fast and violent, just like her mother trained her to be.

    Boba didn't see the need to elucidate on his control of the Slave I all these years later, which would also speak of cameras and scanners he had access to aboard it. He simply allowed the bolts to splatter across his beskar and stepped forward, turning the hilt and using it like a knuckleduster, driving a fist at Tor's neck -

    Tor tucked her chin setting her jaw to take the hit at the same time she thrust her blaster at his armpit which was exposed with his punch. Her knife moved across her body slashing at his wrists. They were small targets but it was all he was presenting to her, and she would take them, and not give any ground. He'd let her get in close, and she'd be damned if she was going to give up her position inside.

    Fett turned into his punch, altering the angle sufficiently to ensure the knife caught his gauntlet, preventing a death stab, but he was nicked across his underarm by the blaster shot. The old man winced, folded his arm to make his elbow a point, and drove it forward -

    He gunned his jetpack, intending to drive her off her feet with his sheer mass, if he could -

    Now she was caught, he had a few kilos on her in and out of their armor, he would win with the aid of his jetpack. Though if she let him fly past her she would lose her distance. Taking the lesser of two evils she wrapped her arm around the back of his neck. Turning her body just right his elbow glanced off her breast plate. As his body slammed into her she wrapped her legs around his waist, looking to fall into Full Guard and work from there. She wasn't passive either taking the opportunity to try and shove her blade into the side of his neck.

    Boba hadn't expected her to swing up, but she had, and he had to shift his weight to spin himself around, but she still caught his neck, slamming to the ground and his jetpack scraping off -

    He tumbled, trying to get her off him -

    Tor didn't let go, holding on for all she was worth, without letting go of her blaster and knife. She felt her edge meet flesh and she wasn't going to give up her advantage. Her armor protected her from the worst the tumble could give her but a still rock into her side might have left a bruise, but she didn't let that stop her. Behind the faceplate the fire was lit. The rage that fueled the Dar'Solus women, she was hurt, and in danger she would keep fighting. She tried to pull her knife back and drive it in again. Pressing herself close to him she pinned the lightsaber to his chest hoping it would prevent him from using it.

    "Die," She shouted.

    Boba held his palm up and took the blade through it, wincing and howling. It was stuck in his hand, however, and he closed his fist around it. The jetpack blew, showering them in fiery debris, and Boba could only adjust his pinned lightsaber arm slightly where pinned, and a gout of flame burst out at her shoulder -

    She twisted the knife in his hand trying to overwhelm his senses with pain. The burst of flame forced her to move out of the way freeing his saber arm. With no other option she dropped the blaster, it was either that or get a jetti-kad to her gut. Her hand slapped the flame projector to the side while she reached for his wrist securing it in her grasp. A stalemate, for the moment.

    Boba was breathing heavily by this point, and not just at the pain. The flame stopped, and he simply stared at her. "I wondered if you taking my title was a boast," he said, referring to the informal best bounty hunter ever commentary. "But looks like you're as good as I was, as good as Cad Bane before me - as good as my father, maybe."

    He kept up the pressure so she couldn't get loose either, but they could talk, it seemed.

    "Someone had to take your place." She grunted still twisting the knife, still trying to wrest the saber from his hand. "Might as well, be me. And I didn't take it, it was given to me." She said, sure she might like the accolade but, it was never one she just gave herself, she'd earned it. "Why did you come back now?" She growled. They might as well get these questions out of the way.

    Boba winced as blood dripped from his palm. "Because - someone has to stop your mother."

    "You are my," he gasped a little at the pain. "My living legacy, Tor. I didn't train you much, but you beat me, stopped me from doing something against my conscious - Aryan would have been dead if not for me taking that job."

    He sniffed. "I got a heart, kid."

    And then he headbutted her - hard.

    he wasn't expecting it, the slam of metal on metal. It rattled her senses weakening her grip on the lightsaber but she didn't let go of her knife.

    "What about my buir, she's just leading the clans..they need a strong leader..." she was lying to herself. She knew her mother had gone cold, thinking only of the survival of the Mandalorians, and casting everyone else to the side. Regaining her composure she cracked her helmet against his, returning the kiss he'd given her.

    Fett’s slammed into the ground, and he winced. “Whatcha training for, kid?” He struggled, tightening their deadlock. “To be the best hunter, or you hiding? Because soon you’ll have to train to take down your buir.”

    He tried to shrug her off him, but his head was ringing, that neck wound was bleeding, and he had a burn on his underarm...

    “I’m getting too old for this.”

    He was flagging, and the gap between him and Tor would widen - Tor had enough space to do whatever she needed...

    Regaining her senses seeing the gap between them she acted ripping her blade from his hand. The sharpened beskar came down quick and on a deadly arc for the exposed neck of elder bounty hunter. It would be a killing blow but, just before metal met flesh she stopped. Her grip on his other arm held fast keeping his lightsaber pinned.

    "Yield," she growled out, "You've lost..." she didn't want to think about what she had to do. The reckoning that was coming for her and her mother.

    “Sure, fine,” he sagged, looked at his hand. “That’s gonna sting.” Fett shrugged. “Can I get up?”

    “Oh, you can keep Slave I,” he said. “I got a Slave II anyway.” Fett sighed; he may as well come out with it. “Look, I’m dying, Tor. I’m a clone - we’re not built to last.”

    The young woman let out a breath getting to her feet grabbing Fett's good hand and pulled the man to his feet. She was glad not to have to kill him. As a bounty hunter she was trained not to kill, to disarm, disable and detain. Can't get paid for a dead body.

    "How fast are we talking? Months, days?" She asked coming down from her combat high.

    "No more than three years, four if I sit down in a bed." Boba snorted, and tugged free the knife, binding the hand. "So let's say three; I don't know if I want to live to see Empire Day, mind you. Seems Palpatine's pretty serious this time." He snorted.

    "Yeah old wrinkle face seems determined to be the bad guy this go around." Tor took the blade from Fett, it was a gift to her after all wouldn't do to have it go missing. "You think the New Republic is at all ready for it? You think the Imps are going to stand and fight or just join up with him? I don't have the head for political allegiances." A bit of a lie, Madelyn had made sure to give Tor some lessons in diplomacy, of finding a middle ground of compromise. Something that her mother would never consider, well, if the compromise in any way harmed Mandalorians. Unconditional Surrender Mand'alor, the nickname told around bounty hunter and mercenary circles.

    Fett sat up, huffing. "The Imps could swing anyway - towards Thrawn, towards Graul..." He shrugged. "I think two Moffs are in favour either way, and four of course are solidly committed to the New Republic, including Head of State Sarretti."

    "But the New Republic seems pretty committed. If this carries on, they'll have a Defence Fleet something like fifty thousand ships. Big numbers, and some big ships coming off the line - Viscount-class Star Defenders, even some Kuati 'Super Star Destroyers', I hear." Fett flexed his fingers, testing the nerve damage. "But do they have the guts for it? Feyna Organa, she did, sure, but the new one, Doman Beruss? Not sure. Lots of interesting Senators on the Advisory Council nowadays - that human from Neimodia, he's scum, but a Rodian is usually pretty good in a fight."

    By the new one he meant the Corellian Chancellor who had replaced Feyna now she was Queen Mother of Hapes. "But at least Madelyn is Grandmaster - she's got guts... and Leia is a Knight, too, which is a good sign." He didn't know if Tor knew these things; the core relationship between Madelyn and Ka'rta had soured, in theory. Refocusing on the question, he turned his head slightly. "Is that why you've not gone back to Mandalore - so you can take hits on politicians and bad guys?"

    Fett wanted to mention the things Doman Beruss had hushed up - atrocities by the Eternal Empire that would have caused the war to ignite again. That was pretty gutsy, admittedly, but he didn't want Tor to try and start a war on her own either.

    Tor tightened her fist, Graul, that monster, he'd evaded her for 12 years. She waited for that contract to come up again, almost begged the bounty hunting guild to put one out on him themselves. But he was too important, would trigger a war they said. It didn't matter to her, she still wanted the man dead, he had escaped her clutches and she could do nothing. The young hunter had kept tabs, did what she could to be ready for the call to kill him, watched him when she could. She could almost know what he was thinking. But she couldn't do anything with all this information because no one would support her and she needed that support.

    "The New Republic couldn't agree regularly on the color of a Meloorun. Much less a war." She looked away with a huff, a life spent with mandalorians hadn't left her with much respect for the Republic system. "And do we honestly think that Grand Fleet of the Republic won't wither and die the moment they meet the Vong. Or that they'll even survive first contact. You and I both know there's going to be a superweapon, it will destroy a majority of the fleet leaving the Republic with a hand full of ships and they will immediately retreat and give ground to the invaders. It will fall to everyone to band together and push them back. That's how this story always goes. Darth Ameeda, Darth Zorn. I've seen this holo got the scars to prove it."

    Tor was quiet on Madelyn being Grandmaster. It was something that hurt her mother, when her sister chose the jedi over the Mandalorians. Mand'alor the Vengeant took it as a betrayal, a rejection of everything she had ever done for her Vode. The relationship between her mother and her aunt was cold from there on out. Though she couldn't help the smile on her face when he mentioned Leia.

    "Yeah, I heard she'd finished her training." Tor said trying to be nonchalant but, Fett could hear the smile in her voice.

    Her head dipped thinking about going back home. It wasn't the loss of contracts on politicos and evil men with good connections that made her stay away from the throne of Mandalore. It was the current occupant, her own mother...

    "No...I...I just...how can I fight my Buir?" She was shocked at the words leaving her mouth... "You didn't..." letting out a sigh she stopped fighting. "I know what will happen when I return. What must happen. And I don't want to do it."

    "Well," Fett said. "You'll need to go back one day. She'll twig that you're avoiding her - if she hasn't already. You've three years left, Tor."

    He did agree with the estimation of Tor about the New Republic's chances, but the Yuuzhan Vong they had managed to kill a few of - at highly publicized victories clearing infiltrators from the Core Worlds, Colonies and Inner Rim, almost always Jedi-led, who could apparently detect the Yuuzhan Vong warriors due to an absence in the Force. Their biotech was odd, but it didn't seem all that special - but nobody had seen their ships and nobody had any idea what they would be like.

    Fett seemed to be reading her mind though, or perhaps he just knew how it felt to be robbed of a kill. "Do you want to go after Graul now? Or are you gonna plot it around 'Empire Day'? You'll need a pretty big distraction to get by that expanded Eternal Fleet and all..."

    The droid ships were easier to build and crew than a New Republic or Imperial equivalent, after all. There was no training, none whatsoever needed - the metal bodies were simply filleted out by the GEMINI hive mind.

    "Believe me, I want to, I want to kill him now, but I need support and no one at the bounty hunter's guild has the guts to help me." The dismissiveness in her tone was palpable. "And I can't turn to my people, they answer to my buir, and she is more interested in being ready for the Vong, and keeping another possible antagonist to them on the board then getting rid of a Genositist." She crossed her arms looking down. "And if I become Mand'alor I'll have to focus on the Vong too. I can't just settle a personal Vendetta when there's a galactic conflict going on."

    Fett tapped his chin. “Well, how about we layer up a plan. Build a team, I’ve some money, maybe I’ll hire you to kill him.”

    The bounty hunter grinned. “Do you think you’d take the commission? It could take us a while - there are a lot of flakes out there, but I can think of a few guys that have an axe to grind - or a conscience we can use.”

    The man held out his hand - his injured one, probably to emphasise the point. “I tried to kill the Jedi who struck down Dad twice during the Clone Wars. I nearly got him, too. But he’s dead now, which works. I’d rather you get to kill Graul before someone else gets in there though.”

    He snorted. “Especially as I doubt Graul is going to turn out to be key to beating something like Darth Zorn. He’d abandon the entire Eternal Empire if Palpatine gives him a sniff of the ladle.” A shrug. “He’s tough though - you should look at the list of things the NR has hushed up to keep the peace - so we’ll have to get smart.”

    "I know it won't be easy." Tor said casually wiping the blood of her blade and returning it to her sheath. "I'd do it for free if I knew I would get some help." She looked up thinking about what she could do, an idea coming to her. "I'm sure I can get my sister on board, she loves being a hero and is one of the best pilots I've ever seen, even better than Granny Jerrod." She said referencing the woman that took care of her mother when her blood parents disappeared. "While I would like to have Alfie along, he's a little more timid, likely wouldn't want to get involved. I can think of a few other hunters and former mercs that might help. My Buir made a lot of friends, that might help...and if we make a good case I'm sure Gand Master Auntie could lend some help." Tor was feeling a little excited, finally feeling like this was a possibility. "It will take some time but if I can get buy in from at least Leia that would be a start."

    She fiddled with her medallion the one Fett and made for her it had been her good luck charm against the few force sensitive foes she'd faced.

    "And I still have this. Could give me an edge...you got any other sources for this stuff? Could really help the other non-force sensitives in our little kill team."

    Fett grinned. “I met a Mando with some skill years ago - Din Djarin. A clan of one, he is, keeps to himself, doesn’t like the way the mainstream Mandalorians run things; you’ll never see him without a helmet.” He slapped his gauntlet, showed a hologram of the man. “We’ll have to track him down though.” He flicked the hologram along.

    “Fennec Shand,” he showed the woman. “Dangerous, especially so, but she owes me. She never misses a shot. Ever.” He moved along one more time. “I know how to find her.”

    “Aurra Sing,” his voice was a bit grim. “She’s in prison at the moment - Oovo IV. But she hates Force users; it her specialty.” A shrug. “We’ll have to break her out, but what’s the harm.”

    He closed down the hologram. “Let’s go make our Murder Squad, Tor.”

    "If anyone can find him," she smiled under her helmet gesturing to herself, the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. She looked over the others, they had long range support from Fennec, and force user expertise from Aurra, mix in three mandalorians for hunting skill and brute force, and they had a team, a damn good one if she thought so herself. "I'll make a few calls, see if I can get anyone else...maybe a jedi with an axe to grind as well. Never hurts to try." She was really hoping to get one particular jedi...

    TAG: @Sinrebirth (Tangentially @HanSolo29 @TheSilentInfluence )
     
  22. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Thirteen years after Twilight of the Force II

    Bernael's time on Anzat is rudely interrupted by the Orphan - and an opportunity is both taken and lost.

    TAG: @darthbernael
     
    darthbernael and HanSolo29 like this.
  23. darthbernael

    darthbernael Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 15, 2019
    Between Combo - Bernael - 13 years later

    Every government had a secret aspect to it. Usually it was as banal as a bureaucracy that was the real power within, or as scandalous as a rogue Intelligence organisation that successive elected leaders inherited and had no control over.

    Sometimes however it was a full blown cult, which blossomed into a monstrous entity as if born anew. The Galactic Empire had been that, gestated within the Old Republic. Revan had run a secret shadow regime from Malachor V, even as Vitiate had set up a separate empire on Zakuul. Palpatine of course had done this again and again and again - creation within creation within creation.

    So it followed that Skelm Sistros and Nevet Bernael had a shadow to the Bakuran government, topped by the Emperor and the Council. That dark capital was on Anzat, of course, and it was here that he and the Jensaarai - now no longer adopting the armour of many beasts but just uniforms styled after their Anzati Lord - trained besides assassins.

    As did his child.

    Birthed by alchemy and heresy, it had been child’s play for Bernael of course, to create what he had lost. But it’s care had been that of the Anzati Masters, who took a dim view of procreation at the best of times; only the sharpest and most adept Anzati deserved to live.

    Bernael had been summoned to Anzat to watch his child’s trial.

    Twelve was plenty old enough, after all.

    When their child had been born Marana wanted to give it a name but Bernael had insisted upon the old ways, the Anzati ways. The first couple years had been spent as his had been spent, learning basic motor skills, a touch of language skills, and he gave it rudimentary training to prepare it. When it reached the appropriate age he had taken his child from the aerie ‘Palace’ to the training salle that he’d been trained in two and a half thousand years before. There he left it in the care of the Anzati Masters to be trained.

    The Saarai-Kaar hadn’t been pleased to have had that happen, it was her child as much as his but recognized that as the child of a ‘God’ it needed to have the proper training, especially for one of it’s kind. He’d received regular reports on it’s progress, to which he’d sent notes back to the Masters, after all he was the one Master that had refused to take his place training the next generations.

    Time had passed and the day had finally come. He’d received the summons to the child’s Trial, their attempt to prove they had what it took to be an Anzati, to be one of the elite. He had high expectations for it and if it truly earned it’s place it would receive a name. He’d set aside the training schedule for the Knights of Nevet, the current plans of operations for the Fleet, and prepared himself.

    All he wore as he stepped onto the platform at the training center were his open toed boots, black silk pants, a deep maroon loincloth and long stole emblazoned with his personal emblem, the emblem of his family, and the sigil of the Eternal Empire, and no shirt. His long black hair was loose and his black eyes shone in the light reflected from the ‘Sea’. At a steady, even pace he approached the entrance to the training salle, prepared to take his place among the Masters, they cared not for politics so an Emperor was just another person unless he was one of them.

    The Masters eyed Bernael and then each other, shifting to create the appropriate space in the circle.

    Anzat was black and shadow around them, creating the impression of them being dark elf-like creatures - mutated Sephi that had emerged from the inky darkness and became monsters of the night. They knew the original Sith, it was said, and though many assumed the Anzati meant Adas, they did not; they referenced the Sith who had fought in the Cosmic Wars, not the Twilight Wars.

    The Masters were similarly attired save for their masks, which were mockeries of the species they had been aligned with in the dim and distant past and were now long dead; the Rakata; the Kwoth; the Gorog; the Vagaari; the Grysk; the rainbow-eyed Nuvo.

    They looked for Bernael's spawn.

    Bernael took his spot in the ring of Masters, lifting his hand and settling a final mask upon his face. The circle now complete, they waited silently for his spawn.

    [​IMG]

    A distant whisper was the only evidence that a door had opened and shut, a susurrus of mental sound the guards at the door letting them know that the candidate had entered. The space between the Masters, now appearing almost as darkly twisted statues, so still they were, such that there was no gap that even a young Anzati could pass, almost a test before the Trial.

    There was no sound, no movement of the air to betray motion. One moment the space the Masters faced into was empty, the next a shiver in the air betrayed the appearance of a form. It was shorter than the shortest Master in the circle, but not by much, possibly from it’s mother. A cloak covered it, standard mottled grey that students wore. Beneath it wore dark pants, a dark loose shirt, dagger hilts peaking from it’s open toed boots, and a belt with a pair of rune covered swords.

    Hands reached up, pulling back the cowl. A male face, very similar to Bernael’s, but somehow younger looking, appeared. Upward turned black limned silver eyes looked out at the Masters, long black hair drawn back in a simple clasp. He turned slowly, bowing to each of the masked Masters, the last to the one wearing the mask of their Father, Cold Danda Sine. He knew that one of the Masters traditionally wore that mask but he did not know, could not sense, from any of them, which of the Masters standing there was his father. After all his father had never shared his family name or his personal sigil, he had not earned the right to know them, at least until he passed this Trial.

    He moved to a guarded position of attention. One thing the many years he’d spent in training that had been hammered into him, time and again, was to expect an attack at any moment. Facing none of the Masters directly, he’d heard rumors of a trainee that had been impaled because he’d chosen to address the one masked as the Father and it had turned out to be the newest and least senior Master present, he spoke, “This one has been called to the Circle. It has communed with the Sea of Memory, and stands prepared for the Trials the Circle will press upon it.”

    The Masters rumbled as they repeated, as they agreed, as they worshipped.

    The words were all; the Circle was all.

    His son peered at him, and his attention narrowed, attentiveness verging on murderous. There was a stirring, a meeting of minds.

    Every eye behind a mask was black but somehow Bernael’s spawn zeroed in on his father in the ‘highest’ of masks. His mind reached out and met the adamant wall of Bernael’s mind. There was no emotion there, no care that it was his child standing in the circle. He could vaguely recall years before, when he had spent time with the being behind the mask. But years of training had taught him the ways of the Anzati, which were the core of the being who was his father.

    That figure was just as statuelike in movement as the others but a voice rang like a bell in his mind. ’The trainee has been called as it has stated. The Trials await. The Sith and the Jedi both modeled their Trials on what they learned of us through the oldest of stories. Theirs are but a flickering match against the true Trials, those each Anzati must pass or die.’

    As the thought went out the trainee let an involuntary thought slip free, ’Fath...‘ Before the thought could complete he found himself flying backward, skidding to a halt at the feet of the Masters on the far side of the Circle. There had been no movement, no warning in the Force, his father had swatted him with Power as easily as one would swat a bloodfly. He stood, a rivulet of blood dripping from the corner of his mouth, walking back to the center of the Circle.

    The pressure of the minds of the Masters now seemed even more imposing, weighing on him. He was lucky, his father could have obliterated him on the spot but the swat had been his one and only warning, he needed to be perfect from now on or he would die, he knew that.

    The mind that touched his again seemed colder in it’s touch now. ’The Trials are five in number, the Trials of Skill, of Will, of Strength, of Speed, and of Blood. To have been chosen to take these Trials you have shown at least the minimum in each category to be considered. But the minimum is unacceptable to pass the Trials. The Trials of Skill, of Strength, and of Speed will take place in one event.’

    The trainee shivered internally as the voice paused because he realized he could no longer see the Masters and was no longer in the training hall. Instead he was at the outskirts of the spaceport, on his own. They had transported him without him noticing as the Trial was explained.

    The voice resumed, ’This Trial there is a former Anzati assassin turned merchant…’ a sense of dismissal of his target reached his mind, ’who has been cheating non-Anzati traders. You must find him, stalk him, end him. All this must be accomplished in the following twenty minutes or you will fail all three of the Trials.’

    Silence fell around him as the voice went silent. He felt the pressure of the Masters' minds still as well as the sense of a clock, already ticking down. Raising his cowl he vanished from sight.

    He floated through the streets of the spaceport, winding through the crowds as they built up the closer he was to the landing pads. From time to time he had to take to the walls or roofs of the buildings, moving with speed but doing all he could to avoid his movements being noticed. He could feel the Masters observing and knew that if even a single other Anzati, or visitor to their world, noticed him that too would be considered having failed the Trial.

    The clock was ticking down and had reached the halfway point by the time he made it to the locale where most of the merchants tended to congregate. It would take a further three minutes for him to observe and scan the crowds to determine which of them it was. From the top of a building nearby he took an extra minute to study the merchant’s business.

    Looking down at his garments he realized that unless he found new garments the merchant would know why he was there from the start. It took but a moment to drop into the street and then a clothier down the street would find their inventory a little lighter in quantity that evening. Now dressed in similar style to the visitors from afar that he saw on the street he approached the merchant. “Sir, I am in need of a part for the hyperdrive of my ship.” he said, doing what he could to deepen his voice.

    The merchant wandered deeper into the building his stall fronted, as though ignoring the person asking the question. The trainee followed him, calling out once more, “Sir, I need this part so that I can complete my business here and move on to the next business I have.”

    The light was darker inside the building which was not a problem for his Anzati eyes. What was a problem, however, was that he’d missed the merchant disappearing. One moment the man had been before him, the next he saw the man’s body move and he was gone. This did not bode well for his Trial. There was a sense of amusement that now tinged the pressure of the Masters minds on his and he checked the countdown, four minutes left.

    And then the little light there had been all but vanished, steel shutters dropping down over the windows. The sound of a lock being turned sounded behind him and he spun. The merchant was standing by the door as one last shutter dropped, over the door. “I knew this day would come, that my dealings would eventually catch the attention of the Masters. But a child, insulting.” he ground out. From a stand by the door he pulled out a pair of blades whose handles appeared well worn with age.

    The trainee reacted, disappearing from sight even as he drew his own blades. He moved through the store, not disturbing any of the merchandise as he moved closer to the door. Stepping out, he stabbed forward at lighting speed. Into nothing. The other Anzati was gone, had moved just as quickly and silently as he had. He dove into a neighboring aisle of the store as something bounced onto the floor where he had been standing.

    The dive turned into a speeding crawl, his blades shoved back in their sheaths, as he clawed across the floor and under a display, a concussion grenade exploding behind him, several daggers quivering in the wood, in a trail following his legs. He spun under the display, looked at the daggers, drew two of his own and threw them. A light sound told him he’d been close and he slid out from the display, drawing his swords again, lunging at the sound.

    Only for his blades to meet the blades of the merchant. Both Anzati sped up, slashes and strikes flashing in and across bodies. Each cut slivers of cloth from the other's body but never quite made impact on the other. His movements grew swifter and more forceful as the countdown approached zero. In the last ten seconds he knew he had to finish this or he would fail. Drawing on all his strength, augmenting it with the power he had inherited from his Sire he lunged, blade straight out, impaling his foe.

    Or not…

    The blade simply stopped, millimeters from his foe’s chest. And then his eyes blurred, his mind clearing, and the sights, sounds, smells of the spaceport faded. He had never been there, it had all been in his mind and he hadn’t known. Instead of a merchant, standing before him was the figure in the mask of the Anzati Father. His space in the Circle stood open but even as the trainee watched the Circle closed once more.

    He could sense, now, that he had been correct, it was his Sire behind the mask of the one that faced him. ’The Trial of Will and Blood has begun.’ entered his mind. Even as it did he was pushed back, his Sire unmoving. Recovering from his lunge he focused his mind on his Sire’s. The will of that being was no less adamant than it had been when he entered the Circle. If he wasn’t to try to overwhelm his Sire’s mind then…

    In that instant his mind was under assault, images, sensations, smells, sounds all pressed at it, pushing against the defenses he erected. Now he understood his Will needed to withstand this assault. One arm shot out, intercepting the blade that threatened to sweep his head from his shoulders, ’Will and Blood’ he reminded himself. He had to keep from dying at the hands of his Sire, one of the most accomplished Anzati that existed all while his mind was under assault.

    The only sound that filled the space was that of blades clashing. His mind under constant assault, he allowed the hours, days, years of training the muscle memory of his body control it’s movements. He barely noticed as the speed of the slashes and thrusts pick up, his mind focusing on the thrusts and parries of the mental assault.

    In the midst of the Circle Bernael’s arms were a blur now, what little light there was made it appear that there was a ring of metal that separated the two combatants. Their bodies swayed back and forth and at the feet of the trainee small drips of blood were spotting the floor.

    And then the trainee flipped, rotating in the air as he flew over Bernael. Which his father had anticipated, a slight muscle twitch had been enough. He lanced out with a Mind Shard and his spawn grunted, landing hard on his feet, rather than gracefully, stepping back as Bernael’s blade drove through his lower right arm, twisting and shattering both arm bones outwardly before withdrawing. Bernael took a step back, a cold smile on the face behind the mask.

    Shard after shard lanced out, now being blocked as the young Anzati stepped forward slowly. A grimace was on his face, his destroyed right arm still holding the sword, talons now extended. Another step and another, the blades slashing forward in the first attack he had managed since the duel had begun.

    Bernael blocked, once again his speed picking up. He began a slow circling of his spawn, blades licking out, drawing blood again and again. Yet his spawn continued to advance, to fight the mental and physical assault.

    The Force sang with danger and a colossal shape slammed down between them. It was horrific, a mass of bone and mass of red angry flesh. It was massive -

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    It stood taller than Bernael, was adorned in a diaphanous cloak, and seemed to be wielding -

    It’s placenta?

    There was no other organ that it could be -

    And it screamed at them -

    It screamed and screamed and screamed -

    Bernael rapidly sheathed his swords, ceasing the mental attack upon his spawn. One touch of his mind against the creature’s and he snarled, ”Twisted, stunted child. I see now why your mother never returned, why she never brought you forth to he who sired you.”

    A dark smile crossed his face as he back pedaled, sidestepping as he did, until his spawn came into view. He mimed sheathing the swords which the child immediately did. Reaching down, he pulled two daggers from each boot, flinging the first pair at the creature. Once they were airborne he leaped, flipping backward.

    In the air he reached out, concentrating. The weapons rack by the entry to the training hall rattled and then the daggers that the other Masters had sheathed there came to him, to one hand. To his other he focused and three lightsabers whirled around it as he landed on his feet again.

    His son was confused, ’What is this creature?’ He backed away, his broken arm already slowly healing. His Sire’s words made no sense but he saw him shortly. The hand movements he understood and as his Sire threw several daggers, he drew a pair as well and threw them at the creature.

    The daggers ripped into the flesh but not fully; they mostly rebounded from the exoskeleton, and there was no distinct difference in the screaming - it just kept going. The damage wasn't noticeable; it healed, and it's screech saw it's arms zip out and the oversized placenta-weapon snake around - but because it's arm wasn't properly developed, the angle was entirely wrong, and nigh impossible to predict, sending Bernael's child spinning away, even though he was only clipped -

    Without bending his legs to telegraph his next move, the monster leaped forward, it's over hand grabbing at the placenta and slamming it down as if a weight, with such speed and strength and Force -

    Whenever he hit the ground it would throw up the ground, stone lifted into the air -

    Bernael had done what he could for his spawn when the other spawn, the Godly one, decided to attack. His son attempted to dodge the arm that whipped out but it came at such an angle that he couldn’t gauge his leap correctly and was sent flying across the chamber. Bernael saw him go flying but then the creature came toward him, that massive ‘weapon’ rising and then flashing down.

    Timing his leap, he dodged at the last instant, jumping, flying with the flow of the stone that erupted under the massive placenta. He threw himself over backward, his talons flexing and digging into the wall of the chamber with both feet and a hand. The three sabers that had been spinning around his hand, slipped down, clipping to the belt of the loincloth. Four of the daggers seated themselves in the sheathes in his boots and the remainder joined the stone as he concentrated, whipping energy around the chamber.

    He ignored the other Masters, if they were not defending themselves they were undeserving of life. The energy he sent out was not aimed at the creature, not directly. Instead it grabbed the stone that had been thrown up, whipping it in a cyclone around the chamber. Faster and faster it flowed until a whirlwind was flying around the still screaming creature. He dove from the wall, dancing from stone to stone.

    He made his movements seem random and unpredictable as he closed on his malformed spawn. One saber leaped from his blade and flew around the whirlwind, reaching his younger spawn who had recovered and was imitating his own motions. As that saber hilt landed in his spawn’s hand his own leaped into his. The wide, long blade blades sprang to life and he dove forward, over the head of the screaming creature. As he passed over it’s head he slashed downward toward both shoulder joints before he flew past and into the whirling rock once more.

    His younger spawn had seen what his Sire was doing and sped up, leaping around the room. When the saber hilt hit his hand he glanced up, seeing what his Sire was doing. A curt nod and he dove forward, foot planting on the leg stretched behind the creature. He pushed off again to dive into the storm of rock, the saber slashing downward, aiming to slice through the hip joint of the same leg..

    The Orphan, as it became known in the Celestial pantheon, and, paid no heed to the rock zipping around, whipping out it’s placenta-bone to bludgeon a Master to death - and then it leapt forward, landing upon another Anzati and crush him instantly -

    It was when Bernael drove a blade into the soft flesh of its back that it screamed a different tone, but it healed immediately, looking up as the child swung down -

    It hunched its head down; and a blazing jangle of electricity brush from its spine, engulfing the child and sending him tumbling away, smoking, and ripping into the nearby foliage and ripping apart the trees - several Masters dove away from the ripped wood -

    This creature was unleashing a divine energy against them.

    Bernael sighed as he watched his younger spawn go rolling away, smoking from the discharge, that would teach him to consider his attacks more carefully. What truly was raising his ire at the moment was that his twisted spawn was going to attract too much attention to this dark world with his negligent use of divine energy.

    He continued his leaping path, ricocheting from stone to stone as the creature followed, trying to get a bearing on him. ”I will find your mother and end her for being so careless as to allow your birth before it’s time.” he stated, every other word seeming to come from a different area around the Orphan.

    The young Anzati shook himself, groaning at the pain of his charred flesh but adrenaline coursed through him. He knew his Sire could face a God, the divine flowed through him as well, after all, but his attacks were almost useless. Except as a distraction…

    “Hey ugly, I’m the kid you were meant to be. How does it feel to be replaced before you could ever take your rightful place?” he asked in his slightly higher pitched tone, running in a randomly zigzagging pattern around it, trying to get it to focus on him. As well, he reached up, pulling stones from the whirlwind, throwing them with all the force he could muster, all the Power he had.

    A cold smile crossed Bernael’s face. If they survived this it truly could be said that his spawn had passed his Trial, that or he’d replace the Masters, those that survived. He had been holding back, knowing Force power alone wouldn’t affect this creature. No more. He released the hold he held over his power and the energy of an Architect reawakened inside him. Unlike his self that he’d met from another timeline he’d stopped his Father from taking his body when the moment came, coming out the victor in that battle.

    Celestial energy rose, paired with the energy of the Dark Side itself. The leather grips of his sabers smoked as the energy fed into his blades. As with his eyes, that now dripped darkness, his form was wreathed in it, and the blades seemed to burn with it, no longer plasma but the power of he who had been his Father itself.

    In a low, growling tone Bernael spoke, ”I had shuttered this until a needed moment and you have brought that moment, too soon. And now the galaxy will pay for your folly.”

    He blurred, a winding trail of Darkness following him, until the center of the battle seemed completely shrouded in Darkness. Darting in and out, he struck lightning fast blows, augmenting the strikes with his dual power, slashes, stabs, thrusts, at hands, torso, neck, back, legs. Over and over he danced around his twisted spawn, dodging attacks, leaping to one side or another, over it. Bruises and blood dripped from him, from too close of calls but still he kept up his attacks.

    The Orphan screamed and screamed and screamed. It held it's placenta aloft, above the shroud, and slammed it down, smashing up the ground and lifting it, smashing up and down. It was not tiring, and it seemed as likely to dislocate a joint as to resocket it, unphased by wound or cut or bruise or battering -

    It's diaphanous robe was holed a dozen times over but remained attached, and the creature seemed to not be capable of flagging.

    It was, after all, the child of an Old One and a Force user containing the seed of an Architect and the very concept of the Dark itself. Bernael had filled a void in the Unifying Force left by the Son, as much as Renn had of the Daughter - but neither in and of themselves were as powerful as Celestials, they were comparable to Grandmasters, and then Old Ones - especially Bernael.

    His spawn was as such incomparable to an Old One, and more akin to an Architect itself in power, in flesh, in monstrosity - but it's intellect was unformed, it's rage, completely impossible to fathom, it's despair, as fetal as a child.

    No wound to it's body seemed to matter.

    Not its hands, torso, neck, back, legs…

    Bernael observed every attack. Each was as futile as the previous. All that was left was it’s mind, head, and the ‘weapon’ it wielded. He could sense it, feel it’s power and knew, without a doubt that it was powerful but unformed. Despair, that was the key, he decided.

    His feet touched the ground without a sound. A seconds concentration and the flying debris settled to the ground. The Darkness and power he held still wove around him as he stepped forward, his blades extinguishing and his sabers settling back on his hips. ”You feel alone, lost, left behind, do you not?” he asked, allowing harmonics of apparent concern fill the tone, a modification of Dun Moch.

    Stepping forward he kept track of where the Orphan’s arm was, where the weaponized placenta was. He was prepared to move in a fraction of a second, even take a small amount of damage, if necessary. His will, his self, rose up, pressing against that of the Orphan. As they touched the misshapen creature would know, without a doubt that it was his father standing before him. And, more importantly, he would know that his father had not known of his existence, that his mother had disappeared, apparently dead before his eyes, before he was ever born.

    Bernael nodded to his younger spawn, a gesture telling the younger one to step back. He waited until the child had done so before stepping forward even more. His will and the Orphan’s pressed harder against each other and while the creature’s will was godly Bernael’s was close, and even more his was eons older, fully formed, wily, and wise from those many years of life.

    When he was face to face with the Orphan his clawed hand reached up. ”You came to confront your Father, to understand why I never claimed you, to seek revenge for me never doing so. You can see, sense, that I never knew. You are my child as much as the one there.” he gestured at his Anzati spawn. ”Join me and I will raise you to your potential, you will take your place in the family.” he said, his calm, even tone reaching out to it as his mind showed that, even in his darkness he would keep his word.

    The creature...

    ... it didn't understand a word of Basic.

    All Bernael would understand is that had cried at it's mothers corpse for years, and over time, drew ships in with it's misery. It had consumed them all in it's lament, before it understood the concept of Father…

    ... and agony.

    It wasn't alive, not really... it was just here, against its will, and it wanted the pain to stop -

    And that meant ending it's origin.

    Or being ended.

    It had hesitated, but now it just screamed in his face and slammed down the placenta, aiming for his head

    Bernael had just that fraction of a seconds warning but that was enough. He didn’t even appear to move but then the placenta swung between the Orphan and himself, the wind of it’s passage stirring his hair and clothes. He moved again, stepping and pushing on the placenta, his sabers suddenly back in his hands, his will and energy infusing them. One stabbed downward, into the placenta and the other directly into one eye of his twisted child.

    He held his position, riding the motion of the Orphan, blasting his will and power through the blades, into the brain and what could be considered the heart, the placenta, of it. ”You wish to be out of your misery, then be so. I have no need for a creature that cannot even wish to exist.”

    At the same time his Hunger rose and dove through the blades to drink of his twisted child, to pull that essence into his own.

    The eye didn't bother it; the Orphan flinched away and it healed, but the placenta didn't -

    He screeched, and a blast of divine lightning coruscated down from the heavens and slammed into them both -

    It would set Bernael alive with utter agony, a pain that the Orphan didn't feel as it ripped it's placenta free and seemingly floated up, screeching louder and louder as it drew down bolts of energy so powerful it had physical form -

    Bernael roared as divine energy flowed into him, through him. His nerves roared in agony but, first and foremost he was Anzati, before he’d become what he was now. And his body fought the fire, grounding as much as possible back into the Orphan. Celestial energy, Architect energy flowed forth, and as it did the use of it rippled forth, as though Anzat was the rock dropped in a pond and the pond was the galaxy, the Force shook as the waves spread in every direction.

    As bolts of energy ripped into him tearing chunks from his flesh, he sheathed his now extinguished sabers in an unconscious gesture. Reaching into his boots he ripped free the rune inscribed daggers, filling them with his will, his hunger, the power elevated by the agony of the divine attacks and then threw them, aiming each to bury in the placenta as the Orphan continued to rise.

    His voice rose like a hurricane, trees, structures shivering in the blast of his voice, ”Send him again and again, as you will. I know now how to destroy him and I will only grow stronger. If I must darken the entire universe to do so, I will.”

    The damage ripped apart the forest, slaying many, as the competing energies of the Orphan and the Dark met. They were power. But power always came at a price. While the Orphan was desensitised to pain; it was only pain, Bernael's body was racked, bones cracking, ligaments tearing, bloody purple bruises erupting across his skin, his eyes blinded, his eardrums burst -

    The Orphan dropped to the floor, crumpling, but screamed no more.

    There was a tremendous wound to Bernael's essence as the divine judgment ripped into his soul - or his souls - tearing into his spectral reserves and releasing a horde of billions of spirits into Anzat -

    They sought purchase in whatever Anzati or sentient they could fine -

    A gaggle of ghouls sought Bernael's true son as a receptacle -

    The cracked and broken body, animated by pure will, rose from the floor of the forest. Darkness whipped around it, uncaring of Anzati or spirit as it began to, slowly, reclaim those spirits closest to it, to sap the very vitality from the surrounding area.

    Across the clearing Bernael’s son was having to learn a lesson and learn it quickly. His Sire’s power had touched him, which meant the divine light had touched him as well. His skin was burned, charred, flaking. He wasn’t as damaged as his Sire but he suddenly found himself hungry in a way he’d never contemplated before. Until this time he’d fed as child would feed. The tradition was that one who had passed their Trial, had become an ‘adult’ would feed, truly feed, for the first time as a part of the ceremony to mark their ascent. But, between the death, the chaos, the souls of the dead spread out across the nearby area, the hunger had come upon him.

    The lich that Bernael currently was sensed power rising but the Darkness overrode his own hunger, recognizing the need of that lesser spark of Darkness in the future. It turned his body away from that of his son and, slowly, ever so slowly, his body began to knit back together as he consumed and consumed. Grunts and yells of pain filled the air, driving his power, driving his will.

    What was ‘saving’ the Anzati was twofold, one, they now had a feast laid out before them on a scale that had never occurred before and two, the Trial took place in the deepest Dark locus of the planet and had hundreds of kilometers between it and any ‘civilization’. The one thing that was becoming more and more certain though was that the Anzati were going to need a new Circle of Masters. Each that had died had released their own spirit and Darkness was feeding as though there was no tomorrow.

    Those that had lived were now faced with the empty eyed stare of the lich of a ‘God’ that Bernael had become. Which was a losing proposition, no matter how old and tough they were. Echo of their spirits, as they were fed into the broken body did more to revive it than the billions of souls it was slowly reabsorbing and draining to their dissolution.

    His son faced the gaggle of ghouls, eyes darkening until they were the same black upon black of his father. His proboscises whipped from their pouches in his cheeks and a death’s head grin came over his face. He’d learned, through torment after torment, to subdue and temper his emotions, something no other species knew of the Anzati. The truth was that they were highly emotional, empaths truly, but they’d taught themselves to bury their emotions to be what they were, pounded into the first of them by their Father, whose essence burned even now in the Lich that was feeding upon their world.

    He dove into the gaggle, allowing some to touch and attempt to enter him. A laugh sounded as they did, they were mostly mindless creatures and didn’t realize whose spawn they were attempting to overcome. He touched the paternal bond and fire filled his veins, the agony of the physical torment of his Sire filling him, awakening his power even more. His head whipped back and forth, will rising and flowing over the ghouls. And now the shrieks that filled the area were not his or his Sire’s but those souls that had sought his form.

    As he began to feed he changed, from a gangly youth of 12 his body grew until he was nearly of a height to his Sire, his form filling out, no longer physically a youth but still quite young, now in the body of an adult. He laughed again as first one, then two, then all the ghouls attempted to flee but were now caught fast in his will. Power poured through him and he knew that he’d pay for the excessive feeding, instinctually knew, once this was done. As the last was absorbed by his mind he felt the overwhelming Hunger of his Sire and knew if he did not reach the core of that now mad being not only Anzat would be lost but that it would become the center point for a Hunger that would stretch out across the galaxy, consuming all.

    He staggered over to the animate almost corpse, reared back, and slammed it, less finesse and more brute force than his Sire had done when he entered the Circle. The lich barely swayed but the head turned slowly toward his, the empty eyes looking into his own black one. “Control yourself, Father, before you kill everything, yourself, me, and my mother alike.” he ground out as their wills slammed together.

    The damage was done, though.

    Anzat had been depopulated, though not fatally so.

    The power and memories returned to Bernael, and even his Sire had gained from the encounter.

    But that lack of control, the zero sentience he had while he fed to heal his soulful wound -

    It meant that a watching construct above the planet could sneer, throw an absent feeling of thanks, and vanish into hyperspace. The Sith Meditation Sphere known as Ship had been freed from it's servitude from the Orphan, and in the moment escaped slavery to the Old Ones.

    But the energies which flowed around Anzati were immense, freed from containment within Bernael, naturally, by osmosis, they were shared between the two, though yes, the lich absorbed much of it - much of everything.

    As his form filled back out, sentience returned to Bernael’s eyes, the Darkness to them, sight to them. Power was flowing around the open area that now held two, only two living Anzati, he and his spawn. That Power had only those two receptacles. Two pairs of night dark eyes stared at each other. Bernael took the vaster portion of what came back but his spawn took in more than another Anzati would be able to.

    Regaining his senses fully, Bernael stretched out his mind, sensing the true loss of life on the planet. Small cross sections of each Clan survived, enough that the species would survive and thrive again, in time. But first things first. He turned to his spawn. ”There could have been no better Trial for a span of mine. That you are only one of relatively few to survive speaks to your ability and strength. Kneel.”

    The younger Anzati knelt before him as Bernael reached down, touching the loincloth, or what remained of it, of his son. A small working of power flowed as he spoke, weaving designs onto the cloth. ”The tradition is that Anzati pick their names when they first enter the galactic stage. However, as not only your Sire but also one of the immortal Emperors I will give you your name. Henceforth you will be known as Kigrael. Stand Kigrael, of my House.”

    As his son stood a sound reached his ears, the tinny sound of a comm. Walking to the entrance, he found the portable comm he had placed there that Marana could hear all that occurred. The sound turned out to be her cries of concern as no one had responded after all the violence of the last few moments.

    ”My dear, our son lives, I live, but Anzati must be repopulated. His Trial is done and he will accompany me home.” he told her calmly, omitting details for the moment. Turning back to Kigrael, ”Use your newly gained power, bring that body with us, there must be something recoverable from it’s genes. It is time to take your place as my heir.”

    TAGS: @Sinrebirth, @HanSolo29, @JediMasterAnne, @Jerjerrod-Lennox, @galactic-vagabond422, @TheSilentInfluence, @galactic-vagabond422, @darthhelinith, @CosmoHender, @Shadowsun, @Adalia-Durron, @Narancia, @Mitth_Fisto, @Kato Sai, @TheAdmiral
     
  24. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Fourteen years after Twilight of the Force III

    The Dark Overlord of the Sith surveys the Heroes of the Galaxy with idle amusement.
     
  25. Sinrebirth

    Sinrebirth Mod-Emperor of the EUC, Lit, RPF and SWC star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Nov 15, 2004
    IC: Darth Sidious

    One year to go

    Fourteen years after Twilight of the Force II


    He leaned on his polyp throne, regarding his elites again.

    Once, Pestage, Rax, Amedda and Tarkin had stood before him. Then Blessed, Pershing, Kadann and Vergere. Each had their limitations, their secrets, and treacherous planned.

    Now it was Tsavong Lah, Da’Gara, Arb and Ike. A hulking brute of a Yuuzhan Vong warrior, and another who reminded roughly ten times a day that he wasn’t Nom Anor, the mastermind of their galactic infiltration. Arb and Ike were foisted pieces, seized from the Professor, once he had been brought appropriately to heel.

    Long missing now.

    He thought of his old classmates on Nouane - the senior Atreus and Tarkin, and of course Aurrenna and Ni’Korish. He’d kept track of them, as best as he could.

    But Atreus was now a Kuati noble, dedicated family above all, and Tarkin’s direct family line had ended. Aurrenna was missing, and Ni’Korish, well, her grandson was now married to Feyna Organa-Chume.

    Palpatine’s lip curled at the thought of the so-called Heroes of the Galaxy. The surviving original heroes were ever present thorns in his side - Madelyn Linnett, Ka’rta, Han Solo, Aryan Graul. The second generation, Leia, Tor, Vhardia, Qwi, Nola and the dualities Renn and Bernael, they were problems, too, largely because they had moved in uncertain ways in the intervening years - or still were missing.

    Worst still was the inevitable third wave of heroes. Palpatine idly hunted them, working out who among the galactic masses would be a new factor that sent his plans spinning into chaos.

    The two agents of the Eternal Empire elite; the Rodian and Neimoidian Senators, probably; a Hand Admiral; the Durron-Tehanis couple, potentially; Atreus, of course; that Praxon dolt... but were there still little Force users out there in hiding? He had unaccounted Old Jedi on his records, and their very absence antagonised him.

    He added them all to his List.

    The Heroes.

    The Successors.

    The Wild Cards.

    He simply, over the Yuuzhan Vong protests at the delayed invasion, at the expense of the more subtle cultivation of a second hierarchy of lesser Force users to act as his will, and in lieu of diving deeper into the mysteries of the Epitaph and the Change, assembled a plan that would not care for Heroes, self-proclaimed Gods, Senators nor Admirals and Generals.

    For with every passing year...

    ... he matured.

    Grew.

    Was perfected.

    One more year...

    Then they would be prepared, and he would be ready.

    [​IMG]

    TAG: No-One

    Mentions only for @JediMasterAnne, @HanSolo29, @Jerjerrod-Lennox, @galactic-vagabond422, @darthbernael, @darthhelinith, @Narancia, @Shadowsun, @Mitth_Fisto, @Kato Sai, @Adalia-Durron, @The Real Kyp Durron, @TheAdmiral, @CosmoHender
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2021