Lost in a maelstrom of doubt and despair, Q’aleane slowly came to her awareness. It took some time to realize she had come to, an eternity it seamed in that alternate timesense of the mind. Her confusion was amplified because all she saw around her was a maelstrom of darkeness and despair that exactly matched the maelstrom within. What finally convinced her she was actually looking outwards was that the maelstrom centered not around her but outside of her.
Despite the conflict of both internal and external emotions, Q’aeleane still remained Q’aeleane. A life time of logic, control and focus do not dissapear at the fist break of unreason. Within seconds of realizing she was aware she had analyzed her surroundings, determined that the trees were wrong and that she was therefore not in the camp, determined her likelyhood of survival and realized that if she were to die now there would be no record of how or why. Almost absent mindedly, she turned on the recording function of her bracers and began relaying data.
“It appears as if somehow I have left the camp, from my internal state I would say it is likely less than a half hour from my last awareness. From the lacerations and contusions on my extremeties and the pain I would say that I have somehow made my own way here despite lacking external awareness or memory of the event. Looking at the surroundings and trees and landscape I would say that I am likely still in the same region on Dathomir.”
“In addition my force bonds appear to be significantly dampened due perhaps to a significant dark force nexus that appears less than a mile from my position. It is my hypothesis that this nexus point is what drew me to this place.”
She decided to leave the part about making this record in case she did not survive as it seemed redundant at this point and would probably piss her sister off if she heard it after she died.
The thought of her sister gave her momentary pause. It was odd being disconnected from her, as if a part of herself was missing. She was preoccupied by pain the last time she was unable to sense her after all. She wondered if this was what Q’ayla had sensed while she was otherwise preoccupied by the embrace of pain.
Realizing musing about her sister was not improving her already precarious mood, she temporarily put the subject out of her mind.
Slowly she tried to make her way away from the nexus. As she walked, she became increasingly caught up in her own emotions and those projected energies around her. This had a twofold effect, the first was that she felt drawn backwards into the heart of the nexus. The second was she became less and less aware of her external world. Eventually she passed again into a form of walking meditation unlike any she had practiced in the past. Instead of every thought becoming nothing but wisps in the breeze, every thought became a hammer and she the nail. All conscious reason left as each pound of the emotional hammer filled her with echos of despair.
Eventually she was able to mute the loud pounding of emotion enough to realize she was no longer moving away from the nexus. Using well-practiced mediative techniques she gained some small level of awareness of her surroundings. Stopping momentarily she focused on her surroundings. Pinpointing a feeling previously lost to her under the everpresent flood of emotion, she realized that she did not feel alone.
Trying to reach out with the force or even the vongsense she was unable to find anyone. Instead she relied on techniques she had experimented with on Zonama Sekot. Instead of looking for something, she looked for something not. Following the flow and eddies as best she could she thought she could detect that something did feel amiss. A flow that should have gone left, looped back; another that should have flowed on stopped. It was not enough to pinpoint a shape or location, but it served to bolster her courage enough that she decided to speak.
“Who are you and what do you want?”
Nothing repsonded. The eddies and flows shifted slightly but remained broken.
“What do you want with me?”
Nothing responded again. Again the shift of the maelstrom was the only detectable change in her surroundings. As she focused on the not she started to seethe pattern of the not was less an object and more an idea. Watching it closely she found the gaps made more and more sense.
“Who are you?”
Nothing responded again with eddies and flows… this time she was able to glean some of the meaning.
Who are you?
This took Q’aleane by surprise. At first she thought maybe she was reading her own intent on the force, but where her intent flowed outward from her and took the quality of curiosity and fear, the response had the quality of darkness and power.
“I am Q’aleane Ren.”
Nothing considered this but a fraction of a second. The ebb and flow again shifted this time carrying a tone of annoyed dismissal.
Not your name, who are you?
“I am a Jedi Knight.”
Nothing was amused.
An awkward pause passed between Q’aleane and Nothing… one that would have spoke volumes but nothing needed to be said.
Nonetheless, not what you are. Who are you?
All of the answers that passed between Q’aleane and Nothing fell short. After a while Q’aleane, who was already pre-disposed, began to get really really mad. After several more exchanges covering everything from what she had done, to who she was related to and even what she looked for she finally snapped.
“I don’t know!”
Nothing was not surprised.
This stopped Q’aleane in her tracks long enough that she almost missed Nothing leaving. The ebb and flow restored itself and the pull to the nexus resumed. At first Q’aleane resisted, but eventually she realized that if she were to go back she had to go forward.
Time passed and eventually she came to a clearing devoid of everything, trees, grass, life, force. She was at the heart of the maelstrom. After realizing she could see nothing, she tapped into the Vongsense.
Adding panic to the menu of emotions that she felt (today’s specials starting with jealousy, despair, anger and now panic) would not normally be noteworthy except in the notably large form it took.
Staring at Q’aleane from the heart of maelstrom was the largest rancor Q’aleane had ever heard of. Staring directly at her as it was from the heart of an area where no force worked, Q’aleane reasonably calculated her chances of survival somewhere between zero and less than zero.
It gave a roar that concisely communicated its intentions. Consequently she did the entirely logical thing to do given the situation. She ran.
As she ran, the rancor chased. Everything she did to try and loose the rancor only seemed to make it more mad and more intent on chasing her.
After what felt like an eternity she saw in the distance what looked like her sister with her back turned looking like she was focused intently on a target in the distance. At the same time she saw the rancor scant meters away from the implausibly oblivious Q’ayla.
As the rancor noticed her sister and turned to attack, Q’aleane did the one instinctual thing she was good at. She reached out with the force. She reached out with all of the envy, darkness, fury and fear that she had experienced in the last day, she formed it into a lash which she used to lash onto the brain of the rancor. And then she pulled, imposing her will on that of the rancor. In that moment she felt everything it was to be a rancor on Dathomir. This rancor was old, older than any rancor should be… and in that moment she destroyed its will and drew it to her bidding. It stopped.
Holding the rancor in its place was nothing. She simply willed it to be still. Looking around she could not find her sister anywhere.
Thinking that her sister ran and didn’t know the rancor was under her control, she mounted the rancor. Together rancor and miraluka joined to become one will, one entity and it ran. It/she hunted. It/she tried to find its/her sister. It/she did not stop, did not think, did not reason.
On into the early morning it hunted. Finally after spending its last ounce of strength, the rancor died collapsing into a heap in the jungle. Fealing its death from within, Q’aleane sharply drew herself back in. Falling on top of it, she finally came to as all the emotion that had been running through her drained into the abyss with the rancor’s death. She was finally but briefly herself again. Realizing she would never find her sister again, she knew her answer. As she slid into oblivion, she said it as simply as she could.
“I am nothing.”
On a wrist computer all but forgotten, a display read simply:
Connectivity with ship systems restored, holorecording complete, archiving in personal files.
Lost in a jungle on a planet that some say exists as a nexus of the dark side, Q’aleane slowly came to her awareness. It took some time to realize she had come to, an eternity it seamed in that alternate timesense of the mind. As she did, she saw around her was a maelstrom of life and the force. What finally pulled her out of her deep meditation was an awareness that her body was screaming in pain.
As she reviewed her last memory (that of making a campfire and going into meditation) it seemed functionally inconsistent with her current state. Her internal sense of time seemed out of place with external reality and her memory. As she surveyed her surroundings she realized that she was lying on the back of a rancor whose brain had apparently been literally liquified and was now oozing with blood out of every hole in its head. As she checked her own body she detected a not small amount of blood leaking out of her vestial tearducts as if she had been weeping blood.
Surveying her mental landscape was less traumatic as she was still Q’aleane. What whispers of emotions she had played as if they were wisps of fog on a lake, never betraying to the observer the true depth of the lake or what monsters might be hidden beneath. Her connection to the force was strong, her will intact.
She ran a quick test of her connection to ship and checked on its status and felt and found her sleeping sister. As she attempted to stand and was pummeled by pain, she attempted to close that connection but was only partially successful. Her last thought as she slipped into shock and unconsciousness was regret that she let the pain through since it would no doubt wake her sister.