(Q’ayla is half-sitting, half-lying on her floor, seemingly staring at the empty, closed doorway. In the silence of her room, a slow progression occurs: her left hand slowly slides up and through her hair; her right hand then follows suit; eventually, her arms begin to tremble, and the shaking gradually spreads to her entire body; her hands suddenly move to cover her mouth as tears begin to stream down her face from underneath her visor; hesitantly, a hand moves up and removes the visor, placing it on the floor next to her; she attempts to wipe away the tears from her eyes, but as her hands move from her mouth, a pained sob – more of a moan – escapes her lips. Very shortly after, Q’ayla is consumed by a wracking, quaking cry that gushes out of her. She slowly stretches out on the floor, shuddering with each new outburst; after several minutes, a weary hand rises up off the ground and deactivates the holocron.)
(Footsteps grow louder in the periphery as Q’ayla passes by the holocron, a glass of water in her hand. Her hair is matted and chaotic, and her face seems drained of color. She appears, in general, drained. She climbs onto her bed, her booted feet hanging off the edge, and takes a long drink from her glass; when she finally speaks, it is in a hoarse, quiet voice)
I almost killed myself tonight.
I almost killed myself tonight.
(several moments pass in silence; she makes no sudden movement, instead letting the weight of those words wash over her. It is minutes again before she continues)
I remember sitting in Barukka’s hut, listening to Q’aleane recount her strange experience in the jungle. I opened my mind to her so that I might better understand what had happened, and she was beginning the retelling earlier in the evening at the camp. When she started talking about me and Irsin— first, how we had reacted with surprise and horror to her deadening our emotions, and then later as we took our first steps in love, I… well, I was shocked. On the one hand, I wasn’t expecting her to have been listening and watching us through our bond… though in retrospect I’m not sure why that surprised me… On the other hand, she was now recounting something deeply personal to me – not to mention very un-Jedi-like – to a stranger we barely know.
I could feel my mind filling with emotions already in conflict with one another: anger, fear, shame, love, betrayal. There were others, but those were the most powerful by far. I clamped down on our link, closing myself off from her, and sat in pained, shocked silence as she continued on about her flight into the dark wilderness. When it had finally ended, and Barukka gave her opinion on my sister’s adventure, we took our leave and returned to the ship. I said nothing to Q’aleane— what could I say? My mind had quickly become a battlefield while she spoke, but upon returning to the ship, it had morphed into something much more like the storm I witnessed in Q’aleane’s head back before we ever came to Dathomir. Even if I had wanted to say something to her on the trip back, I don’t believe my mind and body would have worked together to get it out coherently.
I came straight here to my room. Emotions— no… urges were beginning to swell in the storm. Anger. Frustration. Confusion. I stormed across the room, ready to leave my excess Jedi belongings here before going out to the bridge to spar, practice, just anything to ease the pressures on my mind. I took up one of my lightsabers and prepared to leave when… something truly strange happened. Looking back on it now, it seems so obvious, but then… just over an hour ago…
As I stared at my lightsaber, I felt an odd sensation in my mind. The anger and frustration were being replaced by something else. Like oily shadows within the maelstrom, these emotions were being supplanted by… despair. And not just any despair. The kind of emotion that even I have never felt before – a primal thing that consumed the very heart of me. Everything I was feeling, all the anger, frustration, betrayal, shame… the despair twisted my emotions and sent them recoiling back against me. I began to truly understand— at the time, at least – that all of it was my fault. That I had broken my vows as a Jedi through my fledgling love for Irsin, and that through my love, I had destroyed my relationship with my sister. That even though my body had been broken and scarred because of my carelessness on Ansion, my mind was always defective and wrong— not worthy of the Order I now sought to spurn and disgrace through my future plans.
In essence, I was a broken mess of a person, and could not be allowed to live.
I continued staring at my lightsaber, but in that moment, I knew exactly what I would have to do. It would be quick – painful, yes, but mercifully quick. And then I wouldn’t be able to fail anyone, or hurt anyone, or… love anyone ever again. I knelt down and held the saber in front of me, allowing the despair that crept out of the corners of my consciousness to continue consuming me.
(Q’ayla’s eyes flutter closed)
I can still remember gliding my finger over the activation switch… just one press, and it would be over. Everyone in my life would be free of the pain and destruction that I seem to cause wherever I go, no matter what I do.
(Her eyes open again slowly, fresh tears welling in them)
And then he came.
Irsin was at my door, screaming for me to open it. Had he known somehow? I mean, Q’aleane told him to go to me, but even now I wonder…
I hadn’t wanted him to be there— no, that’s not true. I always want to be with him. It was the despair that wanted him far away from me then. I opened the door, though at the time I was still determined to go through with it. I fully expected him to try and stop me once he realized what was about to happen… yet I never thought he’d do it quite like that. One minute he’s walking into the room, and the next he’s knelt down behind me, a hand outstretched for my saber, and another on my shoulder. I found myself trying to “reason” with him, but he wouldn’t budge. He was right there… if I had done it… I would have killed Irsin. I would have killed the man I love. Of course he knew that, and what he did was done deliberately. But…
…he was willing to die for me. Willing to die with me, rather than live without me.
(tears stream silently down her cheeks)
In that moment, and despite everything that still tore at my psyche, the despair began to retreat. Began to dissipate. It’s only now that I recognize the influence of Dathomir in the guise of my despair. Up until now, I’ve been able to sense the planet’s negative energies by focusing on the currents of the Force. Now I find that my ability to perceive and combat the spreading darkness has diminished. Dathomir is getting stronger, and I’m starting to lose the fight…
…and if it wasn’t for Irsin, I would have lost it completely. I would be dead right now.
(she shakes her head slowly as she continues to gently weep)
But I’m not dead. I’m safe with him. With him I can be anything and everything. How was I ever willing to throw that away? What was I thinking?!
(standing, Q’ayla crosses the room to her desk, on which rests her lightsaber; taking it in hand, she ignites the weapon, and a deep blue blade springs to life in front of her. As she speaks, there is reverence infused in her quiet tone)
“The crystal is the heart of the blade.
The heart is the crystal of the Jedi.
The Jedi is the crystal of the Force.
The Force is the blade of the heart.
All are intertwined.
The crystal, the blade, the Jedi.
We are one."
(she stares into the core of the blade, holding the saber outstretched and parallel to her body)
I let myself forget these words when it mattered most. In my despair, I almost used this blade to take my own life. I have shamed my blade, my crystal, and my heart. But I will not let that shame feed the desires of my enemies. It will be as a fire within me, helping to forge a new path and find what peace may come in that new life.
The crystal, the blade, the heart… all are intertwined…
(with a rushing sound, the blade slides away, dissipating into the hilt)
…we are one.
(Q’ayla nods, attaching the hilt to her belt once again, before retaking her seat at the edge of the bed)
Before Irsin left, he gave me much to think about. And doubtless I need more time to process what has happened, particularly between me and Q’aleane. In fact, I’m going to go talk to her right now— I need to reassure her that I’ll be fine with time, and I need her to know that I need my space. I can’t have her listening and looking in on me constantly. Ashla, I hope she understands…
(She stands up, crosses the room and, while waiting for the door to open, deactivates the holocron)
(Q’ayla is standing in the middle of her room, her hands on her hips)
Well, that didn’t work.
I’m pretty sure Q’aleane’s in her room, but she didn’t answer when I knocked. Also, I could barely make out a pair of voices, so it’s quite possible she’s talking with Vergere. I mean, it could be Yevra… but it’s probably the Master Holocron.
(she heaves a sigh)
So much for getting that out of the way. I’ll just have to check in with her tomorrow morning first thing. Considering what we have ahead of us, I need to make sure she and I are on the same page. Speaking of which…
We’re hosting a gathering of the Dathomiri clanmothers that we recruited to our cause. At the abandoned Jedi Praxeum.
(she starts shaking her head)
I have no idea how we’re going to pull it off without easy reprisal from the Nightsisters… but, Force willing, we’ll get those women to join together to fight for their people and their planet. And then hopefully Barukka and Yevra can find Master Darach. I truly hope he’s alright— especially for Yevra’s sake. She’s been through such awful trials, and yet the girl is remarkable and gifted… it was an honor – never mind a lot of fun – to watch her work at fixing up that saber-staff. And she wasn’t half-bad at fighting with it, either… even if I did teach her a thing or two by the end. Heh…
(Q’ayla raises her arms above her head, stretching)
But tomorrow I’ll worry about conferences and logistics and keeping bickering clanmothers alive. Today has been a day I’ll never forget – for reasons both horrible and amazing – and I intend to end it on a good note: I’ve got a dinner date with the love of my life. And for dinner, we have…
(she sighs deeply, taking several moments to ponder something)
No, you know what? I’ve had enough slurry to last a lifetime. I’m going to head into the Singing Mountain village and see if I can trade for or buy some real food. Then I’m going to use this mess hall to make something out of it, change into something more comfortable, and go down and spend a quiet evening with Irsin. With any luck, he may even let me work on his hacking project with him… but even if he doesn’t, I’ll just sit there and watch him and adore him. He is an amazing man, and I’ll never take him for granted again. He says that I saved him from his life as a Sith, and now he’s literally saved my life.
(Q’ayla moves to her desk and gathers up some necessary belongings, then heads towards the door)
Round and round we go, he and I. In the end, love will save us both. And it’s good, and right, and perfect.