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Beyond - Legends Turn Ourselves Into These Ashes (AU, OCs, Sith, Jedi, vignette, Romanticism/Apocalyptica challenges)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ViariSkywalker, Oct 5, 2021.

  1. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Kessel Run Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 9, 2002
    Title: Turn Ourselves Into These Ashes
    Author: ViariSkywalker
    Timeframe: 51 ABY, during ch. 18 of Enter the Foreign
    Characters: Darth Festus (OC), Darth Ferrus (OC), Sith and Jedi OCs from EtF
    Genre: AU, angst, introspection, a bit of action, a bit of psychological horror

    Summary: In the wake of their humiliating defeat on Vjun, Darth Festus and Darth Ferrus lead a surprise attack on a hidden Jedi enclave.

    Notes: This vignette acts as a missing moment/alternate POV from Chapter Eighteen of Enter the Foreign. There will be some spoilers for EtF, though probably not anything that would ruin your enjoyment of that story. For more fics set in this 'verse, see the list at the very end!

    I wrote this fic in response to two challenges in the mini-games thread. The first is @Mira_Jade's Remembering Romanticism Roulette, which included a Romantic painting as a prompt. My painting was “A Lighthouse on Fire at Night” by Joseph Wright. Almost as soon as I saw it, I was reminded of the attack on Haven in EtF, and though I tried to be less predictable and come up with some different ideas for this prompt, my mind kept going back to those events.

    My second challenge is @Pandora's Apocalyptica Challenge, and my song was “Deathzone”, an eerie and mournful piece that ended up being perfect for the story I wanted to tell here. Really, what could be more fitting for the Super Evil Chaos Twins of Evil? The latter half of this fic, especially, was written while listening almost exclusively to this song.

    And finally, I took the title from the song “Walk Through the Fire” by Zayde Wolf and Ruelle.

    Disclaimer: I don’t own Star Wars. My gosh, can you imagine if I did? [face_hypnotized] [face_worried]

    Thanks to @Gabri_Jade for looking over this and assuring me it was coherent. :p [:D]


    Turn Ourselves Into These Ashes

    The planet is exquisite, a perfectly-formed globe of sparkling emerald, pristine as it nestles into the space around it like a jewel, haloed by the glow of countless stars and the shimmering blue-violet gases of surrounding nebulae.

    Darth Festus hates it.

    It’s been months since he’s seen a world from orbit. Back then it was Vjun, and a more magnificently terrible world he couldn’t have imagined if he tried. Saturated in the dark side of the Force and plagued by acid rain and madness, it spoke to him in a way that Korriban never had, as if reflecting back the innermost fragments of his soul. He’d felt a kinship with the planet from the very first.

    This world, on the other hand…

    He’s been told the planets of the Hapes Cluster never experience true night, and he thinks how perfect it is that the Jedi would hide here, in a place that will never know total darkness. Their sacred Haven. He hates it with every fiber of his being. He hates it for its unmarred brilliance, as though its beauty makes it more precious than any other world.

    He hates that he can’t stop staring at it.

    After several minutes he finally tears himself away from the viewport and heads to the back of their small transport ship, where his twin brother stands quietly near the hatch, facing away from the squad of soldiers. The shuttle itself is hardly silent. The troopers behind them are carrying on conversations, some making jokes to crack the mounting tension. One or two voices rise up louder than the rest, and laughter ripples through the squad, a little uneasy. Festus can feel at least a few pairs of eyes on his back. He wonders if that uneasiness is because of the mission or if it’s because of him. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s made people uncomfortable.

    Out of the corner of his eye, he sees his brother glance back at the troopers, his expression difficult to decipher. Festus reaches out across their bond; instead of his twin’s usual confidence and bravado, he senses apprehension and hints of doubt and guilt, hidden under a veneer of resentment.

    Ferrus exhales audibly and turns his head forward. “This is weird,” he says under his breath, too quiet for the soldiers to hear. “Us being here.”

    Festus shrugs in response. “You wanted off Vjun.” He resists the urge to run a hand over his throat. Though he has nearly healed from his brush with asphyxiation, talking still requires some effort.

    Ferrus shifts his weight and stands up straighter, wincing. His wounds will take longer to fully heal. “Yeah. Just feels like the Master picked this on purpose.”

    “Probably. What difference does it make?”

    Another murmur of nervous laughter, and the rattle of weapons clanking against armor as the shuttle experiences some light turbulence. Ferrus glances back at the soldiers again. “None, I guess.”

    They stand in silence, listening to the engines whine as thrusters fire and their descent slows. The chatter behind them quiets, and the air in the hold grows heavy with grim anticipation. Next to him, Ferrus goes uncharacteristically still and stares down at the deck.

    “Do you remember what it felt like?”

    He doesn’t have to ask what his brother means; he can see the things Ferrus has left unspoken, fragmented images laced with confusion and fear – the remnants of another life. He tries not to think of that life. In truth, after all these years, it feels more like a distant dream than anything else.

    Does he remember what it felt like? Does he remember the bodies pressed in around them, or the frighteningly beautiful array of color as laser blasts and lightsabers lit the night? Does he remember the terror and the screams and his brother’s hand clasped tight in his, or the searing heat that rolled across his skin as the Academy went up in flames, or how nothing ever felt right or safe again?

    Does he remember being shuffled around from one enclave to the next, and the distance that grew between him and his twin during those pathetic, lonely years? Does he remember the last time he ever boarded one of those shuttles? Does he remember the darkness of that tiny storage compartment, or the manic laughter that broke the silence? Does he remember who was there to greet them when the blindfolds came off in that cold, damp prison cell?

    What about all the things that came after? The things he survived, the things that forged him into something greater than he ever would have been on his own. He remembers those, doesn’t he? Not a distant dream but a constant, inescapable reality. The table and the layers peeling back and the mountain of the dead and the impenetrable wall he built. The horror of his first kill and how good it felt to finally have control over something outside of his own head. How nothing since has been able to fill the void inside him the same as taking a life, or watching others suffer in his place, and how much easier the next kill was, and the next, and I couldn’t be prouder, my boy, you’ve truly come into your own, and the terrified eyes of the children on Vjun, seeing him for exactly who and what he is, and that brings him back to her

    She’d pleaded with the Jedi to let him go, to spare him, because Force forbid a Jedi should ever act out of rage or revenge even when he has every right and reason to. Force forbid a Jedi should ever blemish his precious soul. Not like this, she’d cried out, and even as he’d struggled for breath he could hear the tears in her voice – tears for her Jedi, of course, because why would she ever cry for him? No one ever has, and no one ever will.

    His hands close into fists at his side, fingernails digging into his palms. How dare she offer mercy like that? If it had been a calm, dispassionate kill, she wouldn’t have batted an eye, and he would be dead, and all his struggles rendered meaningless and futile. He doesn’t owe her anything. He doesn’t. He has his orders, and he’ll obey those orders even if it means doing horrific, impossible things. Especially if it means doing those things. Darth Festus doesn’t shy away from violence, or chaos, or death, because Darth Festus is the worst kind of monster.

    He’s too far gone to turn back now.

    He glances sideways at Ferrus, eyes flitting down to his brother’s hand for half a second. He inhales slowly, filling his lungs as he turns his head forward and watches the transport’s ramp begin to lower.

    “I remember everything.”


    Orion Tivas has never been a great warrior. He’s never really been a peacekeeper, either. Though he bears the rank of Jedi Knight, he was trained to be a healer, and that is the role he’s always been best suited for. Yes, he can wield a lightsaber if needed, but that’s never been his talent, and he doesn’t pretend that it is. Besides, how can someone who fights so hard to preserve life be the one to end it?

    That’s why, when the alarms sounded in the night and fire swept through the enclave, he was a little surprised at how adamant he was that Jysella should run while he was the one to stay behind. He could tell she wanted to argue with him. In fact, he suspects the only reason she relented is that she was already on the ship with the children when the next explosion hit, and she knew as well as he did that there was no time for her to argue.

    Now he stands in a smoke-filled corridor at the center of the enclave, the amber blade of his lightsaber illuminating the noxious haze as he covers for Yasha and the remaining kids. Maybe it’s not so strange that he was the one to stay behind. Healers might not be warriors, but they’re still protectors in their own way. Whether it’s healing wounds or treating trauma or just listening when no one else will, he has made the care of this Order – especially its children – his solemn duty. He could no more abandon them here than he could hurt them himself.

    He hears the lightsabers before he sees them: two beams of crimson that pierce the smoke, hurtling toward him. He tries to reach for serenity in that moment, to let go and become a vessel for the Force, to be more than the limits of his own abilities. But as he dips into the current of that great cosmic energy, all he can sense is fear and destruction and unbridled rage. The Sith Lords wielding those two lightsabers emerge from the smoke, and he already knows he won’t be able to stop them.

    “Yasha, run!” he shouts, hoping he can hold the Sith back long enough to buy her some time—

    One blade slips under his, and his lightsaber goes flying out of his hands as the Sith Lord backhands him across the face. A pair of hands takes him by the collar and lifts him high in the air.

    “Skywalker’s apprentice,” his attacker barks. “Where is she?”

    Skywalker’s…? Orion struggles for breath as smoke fills his lungs. They’re looking for Allana? Why? His eyes burn and his vision blurs as he looks down at the man holding him. “She’s not—”

    A furious growl from further down the corridor. “I told you she’s not here!” the other Sith Lord all but screams.

    The hands holding on to him lower him to the floor. “How the hell do you know. We’ve barely even looked.”

    “If she were here, I’d know it.”

    “Maybe she was on that ship that got away.”

    Got away. Orion sags in the Sith Lord’s grip as relief hits him. He might have failed to save everyone, but at least Jysella and most of the children are safe.

    “She wasn’t,” the second Sith snaps. “The intel was wrong; she was never here.”

    There’s a momentary lull in the argument before the first Sith responds. “We need to round up those kids before they get away, too.”

    The other voice scoffs. “Let the soldiers deal with them.” Footsteps echo in the corridor, striding toward him, and in the distance Orion hears the rumble of another explosion, followed by spikes of fear. He tries to reach for Yasha, to lend her some measure of strength, but before he can, the second Sith Lord wrenches him out of his companion’s grasp and slams him up against the wall. Orion winces at the impact.

    “Where is she, Jedi?”

    He looks into the Sith Lord’s eyes – a pale, icy shade of blue made all the more eerie by the ring of flame-yellow around them – and a strange sort of recognition hits him. He glances over at the other Sith Lord, realizing they’re both much younger than he first thought and that they bear more than a passing resemblance to one another...


    In the years since Darth Caedus fell from power and Darth Krayt rose to take his place, there have been several Jedi younglings kidnapped by the Sith. Some were rescued and some were turned, and some of them – most of them – were never seen again. But of all those stolen children, only two ever made it far enough to be granted the title of Sith Lord, and right now those two are staring Orion in the face.

    They were only in his enclave for a few months. If he’s honest with himself, the reason he even remembers them at all is because they were twins. He was still new to being a healer at the time, and though he tried to make connections with the kids in his enclave, most of his attention was on continuing his training and tending to those with actual medical problems. He’s not sure he ever spoke with either of them.

    He can still recall the heaviness in the room that day, over a year ago, when Tahiri contacted him and Jysella and showed them a grainy holoimage captured by spies on some Outer Rim world, the name of which he’s since forgotten. The image showed two human boys on the cusp of adulthood, dark-haired and dressed in black fatigues, one taller and more powerfully-built than the other, but similar enough in their faces that it was clear they were brothers.

    They were in Leia’s enclave last, before the transfer. There’d been a weary edge to Tahiri’s voice as she spoke. We assumed they were killed years ago. We wanted to warn you, though, in case you or your students ever run into them.

    Darth Ferrus and Darth Festus. Lost sons of the Jedi, finally returning home. In a distant part of his mind, Orion knows it wasn’t his fault and that he shouldn’t feel shame for what happened. But the thing is, even though he knows which one is Ferrus and which one is Festus, he still doesn’t know who used to be Dorian and who used to be Veeran.

    It's Festus who slams him against the wall again, those ice-and-fire eyes wild with pent-up rage. “Where?” he snarls, fingers wrapped tight around the folds of Orion’s collar.

    He’ll never tell, he already knows that. He’s no warrior, but his defenses have always been strong. They had to be, to take in all the pain around him without breaking, to be a shelter for those in need of healing. The care of the Order and its children is his solemn duty, always, and he’ll never betray it.

    A static-edged voice interrupts. “We have the Jedi, my lords.”

    Festus pulls Orion away from the wall and flings him into his brother’s arms. “Take him outside. I’ll keep looking.”

    Ferrus drags him roughly away, and Orion finds himself staring back at Festus until the Sith Lord is little more than a shadow in the smoky corridor.


    When the entire enclave is cleared, Festus finally joins his brother outside. A shroud has fallen over Haven, a suffocating veil of smoke and ash that promises a night darker than any this world has ever known. He should be glad of that, but at the moment all he can feel is the weight of his own failure. His master is coming, and he will not be pleased.

    Floodlights flip on, rending a path through the darkness, and he sees the prisoners lined up on the landing strip outside the hangar, bound and forced down on their knees. Some of them are gagged, even though those weren’t the orders, nor is it standard procedure. Festus eyes a few of the soldiers standing off to the side, wondering which overly zealous idiot is responsible. Not that it matters, and not that he cares. He settles in alongside his twin, glancing over at him for half a second before looking away.

    The children are shivering in the night air, and one of them lets out a faint, distressed noise, a low whimper that indicates he’s begun to cry. A few places down, the Jedi Healer leans forward and looks over at the boy. “It’s going to be okay,” the man murmurs. “The Force is with us. Everything’s going to be okay.”

    A black, bitter fury tangles in the back of his throat at those words, twisting and burning and slicing—

    —don’t lie, don’t lie, don’t you fragging lie—

    “Don’t lie to him,” he says, wanting nothing so badly as to show this pathetic, misguided fool exactly how wrong he is. “Don’t tell him everything’s going to be okay when you know what’s waiting for him. It’s not going to be okay, and the Force isn’t with you.”

    The Jedi stares up at him over his shoulder, his silence stretching on and on. Then, in a quiet voice: “I’m sorry for what happened to you. To both of you.”

    Sorry? He’s sorry? A dozen thoughts race through his head – keep your stupid pity, we don’t need it anyway, we’re fine, we’re more than fine, what good is your sorry now, where were you when we needed you, where were any of you, how long did you look for us, did you even bother looking, you don’t know us, you don’t care, you never cared and you’re all going to pay – before he finally thinks of a suitable response. He looks down at the Jedi and smiles.

    “It’s a good thing our master wants you alive for now. Otherwise, I’d show you just how misplaced your pity is.”

    The Jedi doesn’t speak to him again after that, and as Lord Krayt’s shuttle descends on the enclave, Festus contents himself with the knowledge that the Jedi will break, one way or another, and he will know every way that he and his precious Order have failed.


    Orion Tivas is dreaming.

    Faces pass back and forth across his vision, as indistinct as the voices sloshing against his eardrums. They stare and mumble and restrain, blurs of dark against too-bright white. He can never speak in the dream; his tongue is limp and swollen in his mouth, and even if he could understand what they’re saying, he knows their questions aren’t meant to be answered.

    Dreams are strange, he thinks. Something scratches at the edges of his brain, a sharp-beaked avian pecking at him over and over, open up, open up. He knows he can’t, though. Even in the dream, opening up is the beginning of ending.

    He sees those ice-and-fire eyes again, staring back at him, accusing, filled with wrath. What could they have done differently? What could he have done? As the faces stare and the voices mumble, he reaches for an answer and finds nothing, not even the surety of the Force.

    Of course, he thinks. Because this isn’t really a dream at all. This is a nightmare.

    The boy’s bitter, mocking words chase after him, echoing inside his skull, don’t lie, don’t lie, the Force isn’t with you. And as Orion lies on the table, he turns toward the closest shadow and looks up into its dark eyes, and he realizes how true those words are.

    He has to be strong, even though he’s alone, even though it burns deep and refuses to let go. He has to be strong, because as long as he’s here, no one else can take his place.

    The shadow speaks, more distinct this time, thin and cold and amused. “It’s been years since I’ve had someone resist me this effectively.” The shadow holds a sharp, slender instrument up to the light and examines it for a moment. “Time to see what you’re really made of. Though I do doubt you’ll be able to beat his record.”


    Darth Festus stands alone in one of the Star Destroyer Eradicator’s hangar bays, separated from the merciless vacuum of space by a translucent veil of energy, waiting for his brother to arrive. Eyes fixed on the planet below.

    From orbit, Haven appears as it did before: a small jewel of a world, seemingly unmarred by the destruction of the Jedi enclave. Festus isn’t sure if that pisses him off or not. He still can’t stop staring at the stupid planet. He can’t stop dwelling on the fact that she wasn’t there. How is he supposed to show her how wrong she was to spare his life if he can’t even catch her? If he can’t even find her?

    He inhales deep. Too sharp.

    That damn Jedi. Looking up at them like he thought he knew them, like he had any idea the things they’ve endured to get here. He can go to hell, and he can take his pity with him.

    Heavy footfalls echo behind him, and he looks over his shoulder as Ferrus enters the hangar, presence simmering with impatience and more than a little disgust. He’s seen that look on his twin’s face with increasing frequency over the last several months, ever since they were sent to Vjun.

    “The old bastard commed, looking for you,” Ferrus says as he strides toward the shuttle. “Hurry up and answer him already so we can get the hell out of here.”

    Festus offers a lazy smile and an even lazier salute. “Wouldn’t want to keep you waiting, would I?”

    His brother stops and glares at him, then rolls his eyes and stalks up the ship’s ramp, leaving him alone in the hangar once again. He heads to the comm station and connects with medical. After a full minute of waiting, the doctor appears, one eyebrow raised.

    “Lord Festus. I’d expected I would see you in person before you left.”

    “Apologies, Doctor. I thought it best not to interrupt your work.”

    “Indeed. If only the rest of our brethren were as conscientious.” The doctor sighs and lifts his chin. “I must thank you for this Jedi you sent me. Even after Lord Krayt’s intrusion, he’s not entirely broken. I should be able to get quite a bit of data from him before moving on to the others.”

    Festus hesitates to answer, that ever-waiting rage uncurling in the back of his mind, sharp-clawed, jealously territorial.

    The faintest of smiles stretches across the old man’s lips. “Don’t worry, my boy, he’s hardly your equal in this arena. Of that I can assure you.”

    A swell of pride and relief alongside the rage. He’s careful not to let it show.

    “When you’ve finished with your next assignment, perhaps Lord Krayt will allow you to join me here. There’s so much work to be done.”

    Horrific, impossible things. He’s done so many of them, and he’s just getting started. After all, Darth Festus is the worst kind of monster, isn’t he?

    He looks into the doctor’s dark eyes and bows his head low. “Anything for you, sir.”



    I'd like to think you can jump in wherever, so here's a big list of stories, organized more or less by the characters they focus on. Enjoy!

    Main Story:

    Enter the Foreign – in which Anakin Skywalker winds up in Ben Skywalker’s crapsack future and joins his fight against the Sith Empire; also featuring Allana Djo Solo, Tahiri Veila, and many more (51 ABY; epic)

    The Way Out Is Through – Ben Skywalker has lost so many people to war, and still he survives; decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (42-52 ABY; vignette collection)

    Chaos Twins stories:

    The Lands of the Dead – 8 years before the events of EtF, the Starskip twins are captured by the Sith and must fight to survive. (43-49 ABY; short story)

    Here There Be Monsters – Dorian Starskip almost dies (twice) and has a nice chat with Jacen Solo. (47 ABY, vignette)

    HK-47 and the Super Evil Chaos Twins of Evil – Festus buys a droid, Ferrus is annoyed, and HK-47 is surrounded by meatbags. (52-53 ABY; vignette; humor/crack!fic)

    Thunderbolt and Lightning – Festus & Ferrus decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (33-58 ABY; vignette collection)

    Allana/Festus stories:

    Where the Waves Shatter – feelings are hard, especially for a not-quite-former Sith Lord; Festus & Allana (54 ABY; vignette)

    What If This Storm Ends? – five times Darth Festus definitely wasn't in love with a Jedi princess, and one time she definitely wasn't in love with him; Allana/Festus (43-61 ABY; one-shot)

    Forces of Gravity – in which Festus has terrible people skills and Ferrus has terrible aim; Allana/Festus (55 ABY; one-shot)

    In Dreams We Dwell – Allana attends a masquerade ball and deals with a dangerous uninvited guest; Allana/Festus (59 ABY; short story)

    Our Weakness Is the Same – she can’t escape his orbit, and he can’t escape hers; Allana/Festus decathlon for the 2021 Fanfic Olympics (43-61 ABY; vignette collection)
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2022
  2. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    Kahara, Pandora and ViariSkywalker like this.
  3. Mira_Jade

    Mira_Jade The (FavoriteTM) Fanfic Mod With the Cape star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Jun 29, 2004
    Welp, I thought I was ready and then I was decidedly not ready, as per usual. =(( :p This was such a fitting awful answer to your prompt - to both prompts! =D=

    I'm going to process this, and be back with more. But I had to start with a wow! ;) [:D]


    Soooo many fantastic sources of inspiration for this piece! ;) [face_love]

    Ain't this just the perfect opening of perfect openings? :p

    I've said it before that I just love your description for Haven, and I have to say it again! Beyond its natural beauty, there's definitely symbolism in its unfading light that's more than fitting in another way. Of course our Lord Space Byron is going to see and long for and dwell on that.

    Then again, this Trash Twin thinks that he felt a kinship with Vjun. o_O

    I always appreciate this refrain, no matter how much it breaks my heart. Even the other Sith are made uncomfortable by Festus, which is saying something. He's always made other people uncomfortable, and, yikes, but he's really internalized that over the years and made it a weapon of its own just like he does with all of his self-perceived weaknesses . . .

    It's the doubt and guilt that got me here. =((

    The Sith Lord doth protest too much, methinks. :p

    But, in all seriousness . . . this is a lot to unpack. Festus really is at his lowest point with the Dark Side here, and he's just so sharp and raw and feral. Of course it rankles him that Allana didn't urge Anakin to spare him for his own sake (didn't she?) so much as she did to spare Anakin another stain on his soul. He's still a rabid animal to be put down, when he's only become that animal due to circumstance rather than choice (right?) and now he has a part to play and he's going to play it well. [face_plain]

    Anyway: all the kudos for getting under Festus' skin again and bringing us along for the ride. =D=

    This. Hurt. My. Heart.

    Everything about his introspection from start to finish hurt, really - I could have quoted it all - but this line in particular just gutted me. [face_hypnotized]

    Oh . . . the lighthouse keeper. =((

    This was an inappropriate time for me to giggle, I fully admit. But . . . I did. [face_tee_hee]

    =(( =(( =((


    Beautiful imagery here, both figuratively and metaphorically!

    This still packs just as much a punch as it did in EtF. =(( =(( =((

    The prose here was gold, gah! That sharp-beaked-avian pecking over and over? So awfully horrifying in every way . . .

    This is it: how to write horror in just a few hundred words without actually writing anything gruesome or explicit . . . you have a scary gift, Vi, and I'm just as queasy now as I was the first time you dropped the word vivisection. [face_plain]

    I liked that detail with the healing throat. And, also: yikes, Festus, but your creepy is showing again. o_O

    Ferrus' irreverence just cracks me up, as always. But in this instance, I can't blame him. :mad:

    Yep, that's some bile in my throat . . .

    Eugh. o_O Yep. As far as sick and twisted monsters go, the doctor is immoral as they come. I hate that Festus feels any sort of bond with him. It's just so awful that I really don't have the words to express myself except to say that no one writes phycological horror quite like you, Vi. Well done - except not, of course. ;)

    In short, it's amazing how much this story really embodies the spirit of your prompt - both prompts! This was exceptionally well done, and added yet another layer of depth to your Enter!verse. Thanks for taking part in the challenge, and sharing this with the rest of us. [face_love] =D=

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2021
    Kahara, ViariSkywalker and Gabri_Jade like this.
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    WOW evil brothers and Sith doing all they can to capture Jedi
  5. Gabri_Jade

    Gabri_Jade Fanfic Archive Editor Emeritus star 5 VIP

    Nov 9, 2002
    I really like both the painting and the music, so good job @Mira_Jade and @Pandora :D

    lol, coherent, you're so funny :p

    Perfect beginning :cool:

    Festus, no, no one should feel a kinship with Vjun, come on now

    Lord Space Byron cannot quite stop being Lord Space Byron

    For a Sith, this is nothing more than a meaningless passing observation, but for Festus it's so sad because it dates all the way back to his Jedi childhood and he's internalized that concept that he's always been the outsider who makes people uncomfortable. That may be a small thing in the grand scheme of everything it took to create a Sith, but childhood convictions like that are damaging and hard to overcome even in a normal life, so I see it as something like a keystone in his Sith transformation

    I keep telling you that you turn the perverse and tragic and horrifying into compelling poetry and this whole section is a perfect example of that while also showcasing a solid grasp of your character and psychology in general and seriously how very dare you

    I like seeing Jedi who aren't necessarily warriors. I've always kinda liked Jocasta Nu for the same reason. Not every single Jedi must necessarily be out on every front line.

    It kind of amuses me that Festus doesn't seem to realize what a giveaway that line is :p

    That last line is so sad :(

    (And I still love Tahiri being on a first name basis with pillars of the Order old enough to be her parents, Tahiri is awesome)

    I just really like this wording. Good job, babe :*

    I love the contradictory stream of consciousness here, super realistic

    Another great bit of wording :cool:


    The JC doesn't have emojis strong enough for the horror cringe this evokes

    Honestly, I love that Ferrus is so very disrespectful when speaking of the doctor. And if I was Ferrus, I'd really want to punch Festus in the face here [face_beatup]

  6. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Kessel Run Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 9, 2002
    :* ;)

    You know I always love getting this reaction. ;) [face_mischief]

    So fantastic! I loved how perfectly everything came together with those two prompts. I actually think Starset's "Monster" would have been pretty perfect for this story, too; but when I wrote the opening scene for ch. 18, I had just discovered "Walk Through the Fire" and was listening to it on repeat, so it seemed appropriate that I should pull from its lyrics when I was deciding on a title for this vig. :D

    :D (Imagine how thrilled I was when I realized I could write this as a parallel to his first ever scene from chapter 7. ;))

    [face_blush] I'm so glad you've enjoyed the descriptions of Haven! The location of that particular enclave went through a few changes last year before I ultimately decided to just make up a planet in the Hapes Cluster and stick it there; and I'm still really happy with how it turned out. And of course, it made the symbolism even more effective here, without me even having to try, because we all know who was once the princess of Hapes... [face_batting] (You know how you're writing a story and you need something for the plot, and you realize that you already included the perfect detail several chapters back without consciously meaning to? That's sort of what happened here.)

    And hey, Festus and Vjun have a lot in common! Products of horrific and unnatural experimentation that left them scarred and twisted and dark? (Wow, again, talk about details that came back to pay dividends years later... although I suppose I always knew Festus had been incredibly twisted on his road to Sithdom, even if I hadn't quite worked out the method used to get him there...)

    Anyway, I enjoyed playing with the idea that Festus's very confusing feelings about Allana have only just started to manifest here as he obsesses over observes the very lovely Haven in all its unfading light.

    He really has weaponized it, hasn't he? *eyes End of the Line* [face_worried] And right here it's still only been a couple of years since the end of TLotD, so even though he's thrown himself fully into the dark side and his Sith apprenticeship, the memories of that loneliness and his own perception of being strange and separate from other people is never far from his thoughts. And isn't that really what Krayt used against him in the first place? Even when Dorian realized what he'd become, he didn't immediately reach for power; he sank even further into depression and despair, until the only way he could see out was to take Krayt's offer. And at that point it was more about finally belonging somewhere and with someone than it was about anything else. =((

    Just wait until I actually start posting the Ferrus fic. =((

    This might also add a bit of context to There Are No Jedi Here in TaL, where Ferrus and Festus are pretty obviously affected by the slavers rounding up the refugees, and take no small amount of pleasure in murdering said slavers. When I wrote that vignette, I wondered if it might seem contradictory to their characters, given the things they do in EtF. But as children who were once rounded up and essentially enslaved themselves, it made sense to me that once they were away from the Sith sphere of influence, there might be some sense of regret at their having taken part in anything similar. Hence, Ferrus's doubt and guilt here, and even Festus's disdain for the soldiers who gagged their prisoners when they didn't have to. [face_plain]

    Maybe just a tad. [face_whistling]

    It was really interesting writing from his POV here. I've never written any of the events of EtF from his POV; the closest I've come before now is the beginning of WITSE, which takes place a few weeks after the end of EtF. But by then he's in such a vastly different emotional state than he is here, that it's not really the same. He's just so angry, and it's this anger that's all wrapped up in the hell that he went through and in his warped views of the Jedi and their supposed hypocrisy; and when Allana calls out to Anakin to stop choking him, all he can see is further proof that the Jedi never cared about him, that he's no one to them and to her. In his mind, if Anakin had approached the fight with cool, calm dispassion and killed him without anger, that would have been just fine by Allana. (And he would have deserved it, and he knows that.)

    But the thing is, when you go back to that moment, from Allana's POV... what is she thinking? She can tell what Anakin is doing is wrong, and she wants him to stop, but she's also in tears, and she doesn't know why. And sure, some of that is because of everything that's just happened to her and because of the darkness she senses in Anakin... but she specifically thinks shouldn't she be glad he was killing the Sith? Even after everything Festus did, she's not glad to watch him die. Allana doesn't fully understand her thoughts on Vjun, but by the time we get to ch. 21, she does, and she makes her choice with full awareness of what that choice means. And in that moment, Festus has his own views of Allana challenged, too.

    Look at that, I just went off on a tangent, don't mind me. :p

    This is something that has been important in how I've seen Festus from the beginning - that even with all the trauma he endured and with how his perception of that trauma is warped over time, he never actually forgets any of it. I was actually thinking about this a bit more recently with BNHA and Shigaraki's origins, how he'd mentally blocked the traumatic events of his youth for years and years, until it all finally came back to him. And there's nothing wrong with that sort of portrayal, and I know things like that happen in real life! But it does happen a lot in fiction, that characters have a mental block where they can't remember traumatic events, and more often than not, it's done for narrative purposes, so that there can be a big reveal later on. And it's not like I'm reinventing the wheel here, but I wanted to do something different from a lot of the stories I've seen. All throughout the writing of these stories it's always seemed more right to me that Festus doesn't ever forget his past or the things that happened to him, but his perception of those events warps over time, so that instead of remembering the good parts of his childhood, he sees the Jedi as hypocrites who abandoned him, and instead of being completely repulsed by the doctor (like Ferrus is), he becomes emotionally attached to his abuser. [face_plain] =((

    Ooh, I'm really glad you picked up on this! That's exactly what I was thinking when I decided to include Orion's POV in this. Even though the painting depicts a very different setting than the one in this vig, it still fit so perfectly, and once I'd thought of the connection, I couldn't look at it without picturing the attack on Haven.

    What was it you said over in the Renewal thread? "We speak pre-ship fluently here..." [face_laugh]

    I mean, it's kind of a murdery pre-ship moment, but that's what I get for writing this weird pairing, I guess. :p

    RIGHT??? :_|

    I was really glad you and Gabri zeroed in on this part in particular, because I wasn't sure if the significance was super clear. So it's good to know it worked. :p

    Aw, thanks, I really liked this part, too. [face_blush]

    I know it's such a sad moment, but I'm pleased to hear that it still has impact. :(

    I really do enjoy writing dreams and disorienting, dreamlike scenes. Maybe because I get to flex some of those poetic muscles without actually writing poetry? [face_thinking]

    I can't even express how much this means to me. [face_blush] (Not that I made you queasy, but the other part. :p) That was one of my goals in writing TLotD - and continuing on from there - to find ways to express these extreme situations and emotions, but without being gross or gruesome or explicit. Yes, I needed to keep it to a certain level because of the TOS, but I also don't generally enjoy graphic depictions of violence, so I was never going to enjoy writing them. And while I also don't enjoy imagining the characters going through these awful things, I do enjoy crafting a scene and dialogue in such a way that the reader pretty much knows what's happening even though it's never stated outright. And most of the time, I think allowing space for the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks will create a far more powerful reaction than any physical description I could write.

    Yeah, starting to get a little obsessed there. o_O And then when you realize this is basically right before the end of ch. 19... [face_whistling] [face_batting]

    I do love Ferrus being 100% done with the doctor and every other creepy Sith Lord. Ferrus hates the doctor, but at the same time, he's never going to do much more throw around insults because at the end of the day, he feels guilty for being the reason Festus endured that torture. =((

    So twisted. [face_worried]

    Truly the most horrifying of all my OCs. He might not be at Palpatine's level in terms of power or influence, but he's certainly his equal for cold, unfeeling depravity. People are disposable unless they interest him or serve his purposes, and his scientific curiosity is more important than any question of ethics or morality. He's not malicious in the sense that he doesn't derive pleasure from causing pain - but he's also totally immune to the suffering and pain of others, and he operates in his own world, by his own rules.

    It really is awful, though not really surprising, that after all those years of abuse and isolation, Festus would attach to his abuser like this. It doesn't come up as much in the post-EtF stories, but that twisted bond is still one of the lenses through which Festus views himself.

    Also, that is quite the compliment. [face_blush] I've never really thought of myself as a horror writer in any way, shape, or form, but I do find the psychological aspects pretty fascinating. Still, I like happiness and epic adventures and romance and all that other good stuff, too! I promise! :p

    Aw, I'm so glad you liked it, and thank you as always for the lovely and insightful feedback! I enjoyed reading it more than I can say! [face_love] [:D]

    They're definitely in a different place here than they've been in the other vignettes, that's for sure! Thanks for reading! :)

    Hey, I honestly wasn't sure for a while there if everything made sense together, I needed reassurance! :p

    Why thank you. :D :*

    I didn't even originally intend to write it like this, but once I started, I realized it would make a great contrast to Festus's intro in EtF, when he's on Vjun. Parallels!

    But it's such an angsty planet, Gabri, how could he not feel a kinship with it? [face_batting] (Plus they're both scarred and twisted and strong in the dark side of the Force. o_O )

    Back with some more poetical musings and some good old-fashioned murderous rage. ;)

    Right? =(( It's this thing about him that's always been weird or wrong, and after years of believing that to be true, he starts to believe everything about him is wrong, that this is just who he is, someone who was destined to fall and fall hard. And even after his transformation, he's still the other, held apart from the rest of the Sith, making them nearly as uncomfortable as he makes everyone else. You're absolutely right, this really is the keystone in that transformation. :(

    [face_blush] [face_blush] [face_blush]

    Okay, just this once, I won't argue with you. :p

    I agree! I'm definitely of the mind that not all Jedi are crazy acrobatic warriors the likes of which we saw in the PT and especially in the animated shows. Yes, the Force can help people do amazing things, but there need to be some limits, otherwise you get two-year-olds flinging Star Destroyers around and any other number of ridiculous feats. More importantly, there are no stakes if the Jedi can wave their hands and accomplish anything. I try to keep a balance and show stronger and weaker fighters on both sides of the conflict, and I try to keep it realistic. Maybe some healers are more adept at fighting, but Orion is not, and that's okay because he's strong in other ways that are just as important.

    For being so perceptive in other areas, he's kinda oblivious when it comes to this, isn't he? [face_mischief]

    Like we've talked about, it really was a perfect storm, their being kidnapped and the Jedi being unable to rescue them, and then with how the Order was just barely hanging on and so many of their elders kept dying, you end up with a situation where no one left in charge really even knows these two boys. Anakin Skywalker and Jacen Solo were bright stars of their respective Jedi Orders, and everyone knew their names and faces. That's part of the tragedy of their falls. But who are Dorian and Veeran Starskip? A couple of nobodies that hardly anyone remembers. And that's a very different sort of tragedy. =((

    She's the best. [face_love]

    Aw, thanks! I did really like that one. :D

    I'm glad it worked! This was one of the very first things I wrote for this vig, and I liked showing how, for all that Festus appeared outwardly menacing and cruel in the EtF version of this scene, there was a lot more turmoil under the surface.

    I do love writing me some disorientation. [face_mischief]

    [face_whistling] [face_mischief] [face_batting]

    I love that I was able to evoke this reaction without being explicitly gruesome, and using mainly dialogue. [face_mischief]

    I love it, too. [face_love]

    For all that Festus is usually the more insightful twin, Ferrus sees exactly how sick and twisted it is that the doctor has any kind of sway over his brother, after everything he did to him. [face_plain]

    And lol, if Ferrus didn't want his brother to make annoying comments, maybe he should gotten to the hangar a little sooner. ;) [face_mischief]

    Oh, you know exactly why, Gabri. [face_mischief] [face_mischief] [face_mischief]
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  7. Pandora

    Pandora Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Apr 13, 2005
    When I saw you had received this song by the luck of the draw, I have to admit--all right, I can easily admit--I was hoping that you would write a Chaos Twins story for it. Sometimes, you do get exactly what you want without having to ask. This story is absolutely perfect for this song, and for Darth Festus, he who saw a reflection of his warped soul in the pitchblack planet of Vjun. He really does know all there is about the "deathzone," that place he first entered on the table in the Doctor's lab. It was where he was made the monster he has become. And oh yes, he is a monster--he reflects that the only thing that can fill the void inside him is killing, or watching others suffer, and he is nothing if not brutally honest. His truth may not be the truth--but it's what he believes.

    But despite that, and his affinity with Vjun aside, Festus is drawn, almost in spite of himself, to what is beautiful and good--to Haven, the pure and beautiful world where there is never true darkness, true night. The more he outwardly hates it, the more he is drawn to it. He is drawn to Allana for the same reasons (though he is light years away from acknowledging that he even is). I gather that he and his brother are searching for her in the enclave on higher orders, but it's clear that this is personal for him. He needs to find her--well, he's certainly being honest to a creepy fault there--to make it plain to her just what sort of monster she saved. Just as he needs to believe she saved him to save her Jedi's soul, and that it wasn't even remotely for his sake.

    As I have written before, Darth Festus's inferiority complex is bonedeep, and obviously predates his time with the Sith. He's weird he's too quiet he's creepy people don't like him. And as Gabri-Jade notes, it's hard enough to overcome these sorts of childhood convictions when one hasn't endured years of trauma as he has--and oh yes, he remembers all of it. (I can only imagine his dreams, and they would all be nightmares.) And in the aftermath, he has embraced and honed the traits that once made him weak and strange--in a way he never would have if his life had taken a different course.

    But the truth is, he isn't entirely wrong about this: I get the sense he didn't fit in with the other Jedi children, and that he did (though he didn't intend to) make others uncomfortable. And he and his brother were unimportant nobodies, just two more children in the enclaves in a terrible time when the Jedi were just barely surviving, before they were lost. The Jedi only know who they are now because they are Sith Lords.

    Ferrus shows a different side of himself here. Usually the brute man of action, he is almost melancholy, almost apprehensive, as the twins approach their mission in the enclave. It's unclear to me from Festus's point of view, even with the twin bond, how much he remembers of their chaotic childhoods, but he remembers enough, and he knows they are now about to destroy these children's lives, as their own were once destroyed--even if he wouldn't be able to put it in those exact words. But he still feels that deja vu, that doubt, that guilt. He also shows a more protective side towards the brother who protected him at such cost--even if he shows it in his blunt brute way--and some common sense in his loathing of the Doctor. It's as though he hates him the way he thinks Festus should.

    A while ago, I said that I owe both Darth Festus and Darth Ferrus an essay. I don't know that I will ever write it in one go, but more likely, it will be scattered out over different comments. I hope this one is a start.

    Finally, thank you for writing this for my challenge!
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
  8. ViariSkywalker

    ViariSkywalker Kessel Run Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Aug 9, 2002

    Well, I've been meaning to reply to this review for weeks now, because I wanted to let you know how much it made my day when I first read it (and on subsequent rereads as well), and how much it has meant to me. Without getting into too many details, I'll just say that I was going through a very stressful experience with a reviewer on another site, one that put me in doubt of my ability to craft a compelling narrative (and by extension, made me doubt just about everything I've written in the last ten years). Your review came at just the right time and helped remind me of some of the best parts (for me) of writing and reading fanfic – sharing stories we love, seeing other people connect with those stories, and letting other writers know the things we admire and appreciate about their work. Building up instead of tearing down. Anyway, I don't want to get all mushy about it, but I did want to let you know the impact your review had, and how grateful I was – and still am – to receive it. [:D]

    And right away, I had the biggest stupid grin on my face. This just made me so ridiculously happy to hear, and I'm thrilled that I was able to deliver exactly what you were hoping for. ;)

    Omg, the song. As soon as I heard it, I knew it would be perfect for Festus and this story. (I don't think you could have given me a more perfect song if you were trying, lol.) And "his truth may not be the truth--but it's what he believes" just strikes right at the heart of his character, doesn't it? That's one of the things that interests me most about writing him, how to reconcile who was and who he wanted to be with what he has become, and how much of his reality is determined by the narrative he weaves for himself in his head.

    He really is a mess at this point. Like you said, he is light years away from acknowledging that he's drawn to Allana; the only way he can process his feelings is through a lens of violence and hate, because that's all he has right now. And then there's the fact that he and Ferrus were sort of humiliated on Vjun – a lot of the Sith were, to be honest, but as the young upstarts trying to make their own mark, it was particularly embarrassing – so he's carrying a lot of rage over those events, which just makes it even worse that Allana asked Anakin to spare his life. Festus deserved to die for what he did, and he knows that. What possible reason could Allana have had to intervene on his behalf? It's certainly not because there's anything in him that's worth saving, so it must be about keeping her friend's hands clean, right? o_O

    I'm sure I'm repeating myself a little here, but that's another one of the things that has made him so interesting and rewarding to write: figuring out who he was before and how those personality traits could have warped over time and how they might present differently through his Sith persona, and how he uses those things that set him apart to make himself into an even more frightening and effective weapon. Which, as you point out, is something he never would have done were it not for the trauma he endured. (Although he would insist that he was always going to turn out this way, because once again, that's his truth... even if it isn't the truth.)

    You’re right, and this is something I touched on a little bit in The Lands of the Dead – Dorian liked the other kids in the enclave, and in the academy before that, but he was pretty intensely introverted and so people were mostly exhausting to be around. I’m sure that made it even easier to fly under most of the Jedi’s radar during the time leading up to their kidnapping. :(

    “It’s as though he hates him the way he thinks Festus should” is just a spot-on observation. I have a lot of feelings about Ferrus, and you’ve touched on several of them here. I’ve enjoyed peeling back the layers, so to speak, with his character and discovering the complex personality underneath. (And I’m pretty sure I mentioned months and months ago that I’m working on a longer story from his POV that will shed more light on his fall, which I hope to finish this spring/summer so I can finally start posting it. :p)

    This response is more than I would have ever expected from anyone when I started writing Festus and Ferrus, and I’m so glad you were able to get so much out of these characters and this story! [face_blush]

    Thank you for coming up with such a great challenge! I really enjoyed writing for it, as well as being exposed to new music! (“Kaamos”, “Ruska”, and “Last Hope” have also been added to my writing playlist since I wrote this fic, and I listen to them and “Deathzone” quite regularly when writing the Chaos Twins. And “Kaamos” in particular is one that my kids request regularly on the drive to school. :cool:) Once again, this review really meant a lot to me, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your response! [face_love]
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2022
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