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Author Topic: Visions in the Void  (Read 485 times)

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Offline Joshmaul

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Visions in the Void
« on: 02/10/19, 08:49:32 AM »
In time, even death itself might be abolished; who knows but it may be given to us after this life to meet again in the old quarters, to play chess and draughts, to get up soon to answer the morning roll call, to fall in at the tap of the drum for drill and dress parade, and again to hastily don our war gear while the monotonous patter of the long roll summons to battle.

Who knows but again the old flags, ragged and torn, snapping in the wind, may face each other and flutter, pursuing and pursued, while the cries of victory fill a summer day? And after the battle, then the slain and wounded will arise, and all will meet together under the two flags, all sound and well, and there will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say, "Did it not seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"

- Berry Benson, Confederate veteran, 1880


During the years the Republic spent under the thumb of Zakuul, he had been Commander Ediren Lorath, leader of the Republic Army's Sithbane Squad. He had been a Jedi Knight before, but had stayed to fight when the Order dispersed to the galactic winds, inspired by the rabid anti-Sith rhetoric of Chancellor Leontyne Saresh. That seemed a long time ago now. Circumstances had worked to change his perspective. That year he had spent on AZ-1194 had been an awakening. So had the period he had spent at "New Talaos", the sanctuary built by Master Alieth Taldir in the sands of Tatooine. And so had the battle for Coruscant, marking the end of the Eternal Empire.

Since then, he had not been seen in the "public" settings of the galaxy. No cantinas in Nar Shaddaa, no plazas on Coruscant, nor even on the battlefield of Iokath. He had donned his hooded cloak and concealing mask, travelling the spacelanes aboard his Defender, the Dream Voyager, with only the old astromech T7-J5 to keep him company...and sought to disappear. For the most part, he had succeeded. Few remembered him with any particular fondness, and those who did had their own lives to worry about. That was as it should be, so far as he was concerned. Worlds continued to spin on their axes, the stars continued to burn in the heavens, and life went on.

Yet there was a vision in his mind of late that brought him back to the Core...or at least to the edge of the Core, on the line between the darkness and the light. An ancient place, where toxic desert and snow-capped mountain combined amidst the ruins of the past. A place of importance in Jedi history, he could see, from the architecture, but he was not familiar with its name or location. He had been a warrior, not a librarian. He had not even known there was a colony here, which he discovered was the whole point of it - it had been established by a band of Jedi led by Master Gnost-Dural, the Order's chief archivist, as a sanctuary to hide from the Eternal Fleet - and they had been working around the clock to adapt farming techniques to deal with the radioactive soil.

Only then did he find out that he was in fact standing on the lost world of Ossus, and he began to remember the old tales he had paid half-attention to at the Academy on Tython, about how it had been the jewel of the Jedi Order for generations until Exar Kun had laid it to waste three hundred years ago. At that same moment, he saw figures he vaguely recognized, but only two of them he could put names to. One was Master Hawking Shatari, one of the leaders of the Jedi Custodum (the leader, he discovered later; Iaera Farworlder had gone off on her own voyage of seclusion, some months before). The other was the rogue Twi'lek Sith Lord, Quarasha, the mocking presence he had often seen at the old Dancer's Palace and other such places. And he could immediately see that they were here for a reason that had nothing to do with Gnost-Dural's colony.

It was then that he began to realize he was there for the same reason they were, even if he did not yet know what that reason was.

And that was why he approached them.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows


Offline Joshmaul

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Re: Visions in the Void
« Reply #1 on: 02/12/19, 10:09:03 PM »
"Leaves, some the wind scatters on the ground—So is the race of man." Leaves, also, are thy children; and leaves, too, are they who cry out so if they are worthy of credit, or bestow their praise, or on the contrary curse, or secretly blame and sneer; and leaves, in like manner, are those who shall receive and transmit a man's fame to after-times. For all such things as these "are produced in the season of spring," as the poet says; then the wind casts them down; then the forest produces other leaves in their places. But a brief existence is common to all things, and yet thou avoidest and pursuest all things as if they would be eternal.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations


The years had not been kind to Darth Malagant, Lord of the Sith.

In the months since Heermann had disappeared and the Wild Space Command began to lose importance in the grander scheme of things, Malagant had begun to rely more and more on his younger brother, General Andav Undjo, as his link to the Imperial military. Andav and his superior officer, Moff Matthias Caudell, had decided to reveal the truth of Andav's survival to him. Admiral Bardin Krysiak, the commander of the 14th Fleet, had elected to follow Caudell, a fellow naval veteran, after Heermann had vanished, and were no doubt seeking glory elsewhere. Then a message had come to Malagant from another Moff, Arik Daltyn, the military governor of Reydovan Prime. The former general had expressed displeasure at the hands-off administration of Darth Metheius, who had not left Dromund Kaas at any point since assuming control of the sector.

Malagant had elected to take that matter into his own hands, both as a means of expediency - Daltyn would officially take control of the sector, without a Sith holding his hand (he didn't need it, so far as Malagant was concerned) - and as a means of getting back at Metheius for years of humiliation. Accompanied by a pair of HK droids, he had entered Metheius' residence in Kaas City. While the HKs killed all of Metheius' bodyguards, Malagant himself had entered Metheius' sanctuary and impaled the other man with one of his lightsabers, forever removing any chance of his interfering with Malagant's life and work again. As he had watched the sorcerer slowly die at his feet, he had wondred if he had not done Acina a favor by removing him. But Metheius had also been a devoted chronicler of ancient history, just as Malagant himself had been trained to be.

So, as half-insult, half-compliment to his slain rival, he had decided to make Metheius a part of history. He laid out the body in a sarcophagus and left it in the audience chamber of the Temple of Introspection, his old sanctuary on Yavin Four. Then he had sealed off the temple, marking the entrance stone with the dead Sith's name and the markings that had been branded in the Sith tongue on Metheius' face: "Knowledge is the path to power, and ignorance is the true enemy. Power is good, but only in the hands of those who can wield it wisely. The sadist and the powermonger cannot be trusted." As a final twist, Malagant had added: "Let this be a warning to those who do not heed their own advice."

Then he had abandoned the temple and left Yavin behind - with all its ghosts, its leftover Revanite holdouts, and all the money he had spent on that damn place. Perhaps in a thousand years or so, someone would rediscover the temple...

He had decided to search for a new sanctuary, and found it on an uncharted planet not far from Voss, just inside Imperial space. He named the planet "Kelenek'che'sa", meaning "Halls of the Blind" in the ancient tongue, which referred to the magnetic asteroid field that made it difficult to navigate. He had established himself like an old hermit in the wreckage of a downed Republic cruiser. Near the wreck, he had also happened to find an old sky carrier, much like that used by the InterStellar Regulators on Makeb during the Republic's war with the Hutts. Andav had been good enough to loan him a few engineers to restore it. A place to look over my new domain, he mused.

Malagant presently sat alone on the makeshift terrace of his new home, gazing out across the beach where his ship was landed, and contemplating the weight that time and conflict had put upon him. His hair and beard, starting to show gray little by little over the years, were now entirely the color of ashen snow. He tired a lot more easily of late, and his body was plagued by aches and pains that the kolto injection system (put into him after his near-fatal victory over Exarch Jadre on Reydovan Prime some years before) could not alleviate. He began to face the realization for the first time in his life that he was merely mortal, no matter how many times technology, the Force, and sheer willpower had brought him back from the brink. He had begun to wonder in recent days if he would be better off retiring from active service, and instead pass on what he had learned to the new generation of Sith - essentially becoming like the old overseers back on Korriban when he was a boy, who he had mocked for being confined to the Academy while he got to go out and see the galaxy...

Gazing out towards the setting sun, Malagant couldn't help but laugh at the irony.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows


Offline Joshmaul

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Re: Visions in the Void
« Reply #2 on: 02/17/19, 01:42:09 AM »
I should like to believe my people's religion, which was just what I could wish, but alas, it is impossible. I have really no religion, for my God, being a spirit shown merely by reason to exist, his properties utterly unknown, is no help to my life. I have not the parson's comfortable doctrine that every good action has its reward, and every sin is forgiven. My whole religion is this: do every duty, and expect no reward for it, either here or hereafter.
- Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell


The years had been kinder to Eidan Zherron...though not by much.

After decades as a privateer, an "auxiliary" to Jedi, and finally as a captain in the Republic Navy, Eidan had gone home to Dantooine, thinking that finally, finally, after nearly forty years of rattling around the galaxy (first on the old XS freighter Direwolf, then on the Custodian's Watch, the Valor-class cruiser that had been the Jedi Custodum's mobile enclave), he could finally retire. He was nearly sixty - not exactly ancient, but definitely not fresh, either - and he'd fought in several major wars already: two against the Sith Empire, against the Hutts on Makeb, and that whole brouhaha against Zakuul. That was plenty.

Plus, when he'd tendered his resignation in protest of the Custodum Council letting the SIS have free run on "his" ship, he believed he'd had enough of Jedi to last him ten lifetimes. He didn't know how, after all those years, he managed to keep associating with them. So damn smug, the lot of them. The Force made them arrogant, just like it did with the Sith. The only differences were that the Jedi didn't do torture, and they didn't tend to use lightning. So far as he knew, anyway...and for a relative layman like himself, he knew a lot more than most non-Jedi, having been around them for so long - particularly the folks from the Custodum. And even making a few friends out of them, too. Iaera Farworlder, Telline Wymarc, Dassalya Nasadee...even Merrant, to a degree, with the technical wizard keeping the Watch running while the Eternal Fleet was blasting the hell out of them during that final bombardment on Coruscant.

But ever since he'd left, Eidan had not spoken to anyone from the Custodum, or any other Jedi for that matter. He'd only had contact with two Force-users since leaving Coruscant, and both of them, for better or for worse, belonged to the Alliance. One was a former Jedi Master, Tergahn Dai'lo, who was the Alliance's chief sponsor for Eidan's only surviving daughter, Lucia, the current captain of the Direwolf. The other, much to their mutual surprise, was a Knight of Zakuul named Galen Tavener, who worked regularly with Tergahn and Lucia. He'd had been part of the garrison on Reydovan Prime when Malagant (Eidan still could not think of his name without at least mentally voicing some particularly vile curses, in at least five different languages...one in Huttese involving a lightsaber, a can of industrial adhesive, and a live k'lor'slug springing readily to mind) had stormed the Star Fortress in orbit of that planet and killed the Exarch. Galen spent the time since defecting to Odessen with Tergahn, learning about the Jedi. He'd even visited the Custodum enclave once or twice, he'd said...

Nowadays, Eidan avoided the news whenever possible, but rumors still spread. The Eternal Fleet and the Gravestone, the two greatest guns the Alliance held to the collective heads of the Republic and the Empire, had been destroyed, Zakuul had broken ties with their conquerors and gone independent under democratic leadership, and people began filtering back to their respective factions. Tergahn, Lucia, and Galen had remained on Odessen, however - the first two because they were motivated by some sense of duty, and the third because he felt there was nowhere else for him to go. Now war was in the offing once again, and Eidan hoped that, if they were forced to choose, Tergahn and Lucia would side with the Republic. Perhaps Galen would too. A veteran like that might be useful, especially given his distaste for the Sith...

But it seemed peace and quiet would not be in his future. A call came in from somewhere near the end of the Perlemian Trade Route, not far from the Imperial border...it was from T7-J5, the astromech that had belonged to his old friend Saxtus Fayhan, whose body was laid to rest in the garden outside the Zherron homestead after he was killed on Reydovan Prime more than a decade ago. Jayfive had spent the period since the near-destruction of Coruscant wandering the spacelanes with an ex-Jedi Knight named Ediren Lorath, someone whom Eidan remembered with far less fondness than other Jedi. Ediren had nearly killed him and his friends and shipmates several times, back when the Jedi "commander" had been a rabid Sareshian zealot during the Zakuulan occupation of the galaxy. But when Lucia had tried to kill him, Eidan had stayed her hand.

It became clear that Jayfive was calling for help, on behalf of Ediren. They were on Ossus, the droid said...a planet Eidan had never expected to hear about outside of the history books. Unlike Ediren, he'd paid more attention to Jedi history; plus, during the Zakuul years, the Custodum had made its base near Adega in the Cron Drift, the remnants of the combined supernovae that Exar Kun had caused to burn Ossus to a radioactive cinder nearly four hundred years ago. Or so he'd thought, anyway. Apparently the Jedi now had a colony there, and Ediren was part of a search party that had gone into the ruins. He had been out of contact for days, and the Empire was making its presence known there; Jayfive wanted to help, but the old astromech wasn't sure he could fly Ediren's ship in the middle of a war zone.

Eidan was tempted to say "sorry, I'm retired", or "he's a Jedi, he can help himself". But when the little droid had explained that the party was led by the Custodum...and who, specifically, they were looking for...he had not hesitated. He was a prideful and contentious son of a bitch, and he knew it, but he was not heartless. He still felt affection for people he considered friends...and this one had been a good friend.

He donned his old gear, charged up his twin pistols, and caught the first transport off-planet.
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows


Offline Joshmaul

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Re: Visions in the Void
« Reply #3 on: 02/21/19, 11:12:42 AM »
The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth — not a different truth: the same truth — only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.
- Shelby Foote


Ossus, home to the ancient archives of the Jedi, and site of probably the greatest loss the Order had ever experienced - far greater even than the Sacking of Coruscant, or the Revanite attack on Tython, or the dispersal of the Order following the invasion of the Eternal Empire.

At least, that was how Master Alieth Taldir, lately archivist of the Jedi Custodum, saw it.

As she stepped off the shuttle onto its surface, her robes rustling in the radioactive dust, she hoped that she could help in some small way to ensure that the work of the past several years done by Master Gnost-Dural and his people were not for nothing. As an archivist, she was struck by the history in every gust of wind, every grain of sand, every ray of light that touched this planet. And like Eidan Zherron, she had thought Ossus lost forever. So had much of the Jedi Order. Being turned into a toxic dust bowl by a massive cluster of supernovae does not typically invoke the idea of ever seeing it again. Yet she had been assured the planet was safe...ecologically, at least.

Militarily was another story. The Empire had left a garrison, and the Republic - having evacuated the colony - were determined not to let them stay. For her, however, she was more concerned with the past than the present. There had been many relics of the Order left behind in the libraries of Ossus after the cataclysm, and with the planet shown to be more or less intact (albeit a blasted desert), there was a chance that the lost lore of the Jedi could be recovered. Perhaps that was why Gnost-Dural, the chief archivist of the entire Jedi Order, had settled his colony here after the rise of Zakuul.

As she thought this, she could not help but wonder if she should have come here herself, rather than settle at the homestead she'd sardonically called "New Talaos" on Tatooine. Going home to Makeb had been more or less out of the question, since it was now part of the Republic and thus made it impossible for her to stay out of sight. Which was ironic, seeing as after she'd settled on Tatooine, she'd not stayed that much out of sight anyway. She had her friend Ashmara Danrei to thank for that. Rumors had reached Alieth during a visit to Anchorhead of the colonel's intention to lead a humanitarian expedition to help those whose worlds had been left to fend for themselves in the wake of the Zakuulan occupation, and she'd gone to Coruscant to volunteer. Mara had been reluctant at first; her old boss, General Ketana Linavil, had been killed by Caradell when the Miraluka had turned to the Sith, and she had seen all Jedi as "Caradells in the making". Alieth had convinced her otherwise, and they'd struck up a solid bond ever since.

The colonel had since gone back to the Army, leading the "New Talaos Irregulars" - the battalion of deserters who'd refused to die because of Saresh's ignorance, and had joined Alieth and Mara on Tatooine; they'd all been given full pardons by the Senate upon their return. She wondered if they were here now...

"Reminds me of Iridonia," commented her companion - her old Padawan, Heldeon Araen. She had almost forgotten he was there. "The black rock mainly. Add a few acid lakes, and there you go."

Alieth chuckled. "Probably just as much fun trying to farm there as it was here. Although I'd imagine the soil is not nearly as toxic." She sobered. "We may well end up finding nothing here, Heldeon - nothing but Imperials and the inevitable fighting that will result."

Heldeon shrugged. "Another day, another band of megalomaniacs out for our blood. Welcome to the Jedi Order."

"Watch it, bucko. That's my line."

"Apologies, Master," the Zabrak Sentinel replied with a thin smile. "Merely reminded of your wisdom." Alieth was pleased at how he'd come into his own in the years since his Knighting; she'd commented that he had been "born old" when she took him on as her apprentice, more than a decade before. Always so serious, as if the idea of levity was beyond him. Her good humor and zest for life had rubbed off on him over the years, however, and he'd been as much a help with his wit as he had been with his weapons during the Hutt war on Makeb, calming the refugees as they'd been packed into the Ark when it seemed Makeb was doomed. He'd taken to staying on the move when Zakuul invaded, only returning to the Republic after the war was over.

Sounds like someone else I know, she thought. She'd been in meditation back at New Talaos when news came of the attack on Ossus, and of what had become of Dassalya Nasadee, who had been among those who'd come to recruit Alieth into the Custodum near the end of the war with Zakuul. She'd also learned that Ediren Lorath, by some strange whim of the Force, had joined those who had ventured into the ruins of Ossus' Jedi temple to rescue Dassalya. Alieth remembered the one-eyed Onderonian giant quite well, him having more or less stumbled into New Talaos (and nearly getting shot by the Irregulars for his trouble) after he had experienced his crisis of faith on AZ-1194 - something else Dassalya had been there for. He had also taken up the path of the wanderer, and from what she'd heard, he'd also thawed quite a bit since his days as the patriotic "Jedi commander" fighting for Saresh's regime.

For all that the ruins of the past seemed to be bringing out the worst in many people, the tales of Dassalya's rescuers - penitent wanderers, crusty captains with hearts of gold, and even a Sith Lord with a conscience - gave her hope that perhaps it brought out the best in others...
Circled tomb of a different age
Secret lines carved on ancient stone
Heroic kings laid down to rest
Forgotten is the race that no one knows