Knights of the New Republic

Session 16 - Q'aleane journal and interlude.

Q’Aleane walks into her room. As the door slides closed, she absently removes her outer robe and sits on her bed. To an outside observer it might appear as if she is beginning her meditations. Her muscles barely move, her eyes staring into nowhere and everywhere. However, in her mind and heart nothing quite so normal is occurring. Instead of marshaling the complexities of her mind and structuring her thoughts until they are out of the way and a normally active mind quiet, the thoughts flow freely. Her mind can’t latch onto any of them and she doesn’t even try. They just flow, nothing taking root. Despite her normal ability to master her thoughts, if asked right now she wouldn’t be able to tell you what she is thinking let alone feeling.

After a long while, the flow ebbs to the level that she realizes that she just spent the last fifteen minutes doing and thinking nothing.

She slowly stirs and pulls out her personal holocron. Without thinking about it she records a long entry with little structure simply detailing every fact or remembrance of what has occurred since her experiment went sideways.

As she finishes, a thought occurs and she retrieves and activates the master holocron.

Vergere’s image flickers into life above the Master Holocron, and she looks down at you.

Vegere
Good morning, Q’Aleane. Are you up early, or late? This is not the usual sort of hour you generally seek to have words with me.

Q’Aleane chuckles the comment.

Q’Aleane
Is there a usual sort of hour? I recall talking to you at some very odd times of the night or morning.

Either way it is a bit of both.

I think the last time we talked I was doing exercises in perception and we were talking about the possibility that I had suffered a psychotic break. Is that right?

Vegere
More or less, yes. We had two theories, with insufficient evidence to point to one or the other. That was one, the other was that you had contacted some sort of powerful consciousness native to this world, possibly some sort of spirit of the planet itself.

Q’Aleane
Indeed, well after those experiments a lot has happened in a relatively little period of time.

It all started when we were grounded. We had been responding to a large explosion that ended up being a freighter being pulled into the side of a cliff near the spaceport.

We suffered a similar attack but luckily my ship is a whole lot more intelligent than a freighter and we were able to land. She was fairly injured and had to repair for about 18 hours. During that time we found out that … and you will love this … we had found out that the city had been invaded and decimated by the walking dead.

Only about 500 refugees were able to get out. Most of them only survived due to the timely intervention by Irsin taking over command and control from here and coordinating.

From their reports they were well preserved corpses of the dead that were literally fighting and fighting as if they were boosted by the force.

Vegere
You are certain they were corpses? Not merely warriors in outlandish outfits, or makeup?

Glenine
Well short of first hand witnesses and based on the numbers and multiple independent accounts, I am relatively sure it is unlikely.

Based on the numbers it would have depopulated several large clans in such a way as to go noticed well before the attack. Also the number of exiles wouldn’t account for the numbers involved. In addition they were able to overwhelm and decimate a large armed and aggressive population. There are also stories of them continuing to attack with limbs or even the head removed which would rule out most warrior species I could name.

Vegere
It would indeed, if such reports are accurate. I gather, however, that you have only second-hand accounts. You were unable to reach the city yourselves?

Q’Aleane
No. As I said, we were grounded at the time.

Short of following up with Brake and having her recount some … historical fables … concerning the walking dead, there was little I could do. So for all I know it was mass hysteria and carefully planted illusions, but whatever it was it required an awful lot of force power and coordination to pull off. Not to mention the amount of effort to down a freighter and a yuuzhan vong hybrid ship.

Strange as this might seem, however, this was the least… odd… of the occurrences we have to discuss.

I would, however, like to know if you have any knowledge of any references to anything in the other holocrons or locked off areas that might account for the second hand accounts we have.

Vegere
Well, I can tell you that, given what we’ve discussed previously, if these accounts are accurate, it lends credence to the idea that your foes have control over the power of at least one Shaman.

Q’Aleane
Ok.

Well as I said, strange as it may seem, this was the least shattering of the events and while I am sure it will plague us again and soon, there is little we can do right now until we have more information on it.

So that brings us to my experiment. After my perceptual exercises I decided to try and lay the framework for a larger experiment later. I thought being on this ship with its unique properties that it would only be a partial success and that I would not be able to … succeed … without leaving it.

I was wrong.

Based on what few accounts I had access to, all the shaman had near death or death experiences prior to crossing over.

I decided to try entering a very death like trance, as deep as I could go while still maintaining partial mental awareness, to see how it changed my interaction with the new perceptual awareness I had experimented with. And well this happened.

At that Q’Aleane connects her personal holocron to the base of master holocron.

Q’Aleane
You should be able to download my rather detailed account here to save time.

Vegere
Fascinating. And disturbing. This suggests far larger concerns than the ones you are embroiled in at present. And lends a degree of urgency to the quest to set the balance right that I never imagined.

Q’Aleane
Not to mention the rather profound metaphysical implications and questions surrounding the nature of the force. Yes. Right now my sister is preoccupied in some ways by her interactions with what she perceives as one of our gods. Although I have mentioned to her that the realm we were in was reflective of not just this planet, she has yet to internalize that knowledge. She is also dealing with several … issues … of her own related to her conversation with said entity and one that followed with Padawan Yevra.

So I … basically need your help making sense of what is going on and I would like to hear what you think.

Vegere
Well, presuming you all were able to perceive this…Force plane…with anything approaching meaningful accuracy, it certainly sheds a different light on the philosophies of the Jedi and Sith.

Q’Aleane
I think “approaching meaningful accuracy” is probably about as well as I can describe it.

I don’t think what we perceived was accurate in and of itself as it was an abstraction our minds created to deal with something we shouldn’t have been able to process.

But I think the abstraction held enough meaning that it is accurate enough to draw some conclusions that without other input are likely more accurate than philosophical guessing by other parties.

Vegere
The idea that there is another level of reality from which the Force springs is not entirely unheard of, though it is not widely accepted by either major Order. But if there were such a thing, it seems entirely possible that it would be both so vast and so foreign that minds evolved to operate on this plane of existence would be so poorly equipped to perceive what went on there as to be almost impossible. It could well be that what you experienced was little more than a vague allegory, possessing only the most tangential relationship to what goes on there.

Still, yes, as you say, it bears serious consideration. It is certainly more direct access, or, at least, a more complete report, of such a realm than anything of which I was previously aware. And the fact that all three of you experienced it in a similar fashion suggests also that it was accurate as far as it went.

Q’Aleane
Right. So taking into account that what we experienced was highly allegorical and approximate, it still leaves a rather disturbing picture of what is going on in the greater galaxy.

Vegere
Indeed. I wonder…did you get any sense of how long this state of affairs had been in effect?

Q’Aleane
No. Although he did allude to such imbalances involving the particular force involved being relatively short historically … if such a word is appropriate … due to the tendencies of said force towards entropy.

Vegere
Yes, though what does “a short time” mean to such a being? A few years? Decades? Millennia? If this creature you spoke with WAS a personification of the Dark Side itself—or some reasonable approximation of our understanding thereof—then his scales of time are likely orders of magnitude different from ours. And he may not have been inclined to adjust them for your benefit.

Q’Aleane
Indeed.

I also find myself… worried. I am unsure how I feel about the sacrifices Irsin and my sister made there. I trusted and do them to do what is best … although I seem to be unique in that … but I worry that she has not had time to internalize and come to terms with the changes and she won’t before she will be in a position to … draw.. on said power. Maybe I worry over nothing but … given all that has happened on this planet, I worry.

Vegere
I think your concern is not misplaced.

This conversation with this creature your recount, and your summaries of those Irsin and your sister had with it, seem to me to most resemble a sort of externalization of the temptations…one can succumb to when drawn to the Dark Side. I am hardly surprised Irsin agreed to such a deal—his investment in that side of himself was already much greater than either of yours. And I fear Q’ayla’s struggles with her identity as a Jedi have left her more vulnerable than you to the dangers of such temptation.

Walking a middle path is no easy thing, however. Early stumbles are almost inevitable. Contrary to what the Jedi once taught however, balance, once lost, can be restored, if one truly seeks it.

Your desire to leave them to develop along their own paths is admirable, but if they are unable to find equilibrium on their own, you may need to help them with it. Make no mistake, the Jedi are not wrong about this: there IS such a thing as “falling to the Dark Side.” I came perilously close to it myself, once. Some might say I did. Backing away from that precipice is no easy task.

Q’Aleane
I think their new bond with each other will help mitigate it as well but yes, I foresee myself helping them towards equilibrium a lot soon. I just hope I am up to it while still up to the task of helping right this imbalance.

Vegere
It is hard to predict how such a connection will affect them. Your sister is deeply troubled, if her last conversation with Bastila was any indication. And Irsin has not seen fit to speak to me on his own—I know him only somewhat, and while he has surrendered his ties to the Sith, much of his thinking is shaped by their ways, I think.

Q’Aleane
To your knowledge has anyone with a bond like ours fallen, and if so what happened?

Vegere
It is hard to know how similar it was at that time, but Bastila and Revan shared such a bond. She fell—or, perhaps it is more accurate to say she was driven—to the Dark Side for a time. Revan was able to draw her back, it is true, but he had been in a unique position at the time. As best as he and Bastila understood it later, his memory loss essentially reset his Force signature—he was granted a fresh start without the struggle to return from his fallen state, and without his memory, carved a new path. By the time the memories returned to him, his new state of mind had taken precedence, and he was able to convince Bastila to abandon her own darkness. I cannot say how much this recent experience will affect either Q’ayla or Irsin, but it seems from what you described that their deals with this entity were considerably more open-ended than your own. And given that they will both be affected by that, if they have not already, it seems to me that neither is likely to be in a position to mitigate it for the other. For that matter, given how much deeper your own bond with Q’ayla is, there could well be cause for concern that if she does go too far, it could have a sort of bleed-over affect for you. I am only guessing—as I’ve said before, I am no expert in Force bonds—but it seems to me to be quite possible.

Q’Aleane
Hmm… food for thought. Given now what I have gleaned about the nature of shaman, what do you think about my … interaction… with Master Durach? I have a few theories but I would like to hear if you have any in case I missed something.

Vegere
I am still inclined to think there is something very strange going on there. Given what you have experienced, it seems almost certain the Nightsisters you oppose have a Shaman. And given your encounter with him, he is almost certainly involved in some fashion. But I still find it difficult to believe that an experienced Jedi Master could be made to change his perspective so rapidly as to not only align himself with what he would see as Dark Side adepts, AND go through the experience of death or near-death necessary to become a Shaman on their behalf, and all in only, what, 2 days? Perhaps it is as I said before, and they have a true Shaman, who, for reasons of her own, is possessing Master Darach, or channeling her power through him in some fashion. The only other explanation that seems reasonable is that something entirely new is going on here, in which case my stored knowledge would be of little use.

Q’Aleane
That was the most likely outcome in my calculations as well. The other more far fetched one is that somehow he died and was used in some bizarre way as a conduit for this power without him being there anymore. Basically using his physical body as a shell and his footprint in the force as a conduit without him being there. But that option requires far more maybes and unknowns and seems quite a bit more far fetched given what little we know about what is going on.

Vegere
I…doubt that would be possible. From the partial data Emperor Palpatine was able to gather on Nightsister ways, combined with the far more extensive lore the Sith accumulated on the nature of death, to all intents and purposes the life force of a sentient being and their Force imprint are identical. It is possible someone might find a way to manipulate the Force in a way to animate a dead body—even, with enough power and the right technique, many of them—but such shells are only that—husks. Without life, the Force is a weak and diffuse thing, and without awareness, it is little better. Both are necessary for any concentration of power to persist.

Q’Aleane
OK. That matches my observations, I just had to consider all possibilities especially given the amount of … assumptions… I have had to rely on… no matter how well supported… with these recent events.

Vegere
Understandable, certainly. And I cannot guarantee that I am right. But there have been many Sith masters over the eons who studied what they could do with death and the Force intimately, and none were able to accomplish anything like what you were proposing. The closest analogue is something you’ve probably read of in your own studies once or twice—some Sith adepts learned how to transfer their consciousness into new bodies. Palpatine himself mastered this art, in fact, I understand, though it only extended his life a short time.

Q’Aleane sighs.

Q’Aleane
Well OK, that helps. To be honest I am not even sure the questions I should be focusing on right now.

… There is too much for even me to process …

And it feels like we don’t have enough pieces on our side to win yet.

… And I am not sure how to cheat yet.

Vegere
It seems you will need to unite the local clans regardless. Even if these reports of an undead army mean they are outmatched, you will at least need their numbers to occupy the bulk of your enemy while you find another solution.

Q’Aleane
Yes but I will need to bring them something, there is no keeping a lid on the stories about an undead army… they will need something to make them think the battle is even a little bit winnable in order to unite.

Vegere
Perhaps this ritual Mother Barukka was trying to devise will be of assistance there.

Q’Aleane
Perhaps.

Well anyway, I just wanted to bring you up to speed and get your thoughts and try and resolve some of my own confusion.

Vegere
I hope I was of some assistance. I can see why all this has left you troubled.

Q’Aleane
You have.

I am not sure I have enough of the pieces to be able to resolve the whole picture yet. But on the plus side, I appear to have a lot more pieces than I did before, and some very useful pieces for the long term. I just hope I can fit them together in time.

Vegere
May the Force be with you as you try, then.

Q’Aleane
And you, thank you.

Q’Aleane deactivates the master holocron and then sits there for a time before returning to her personal holocron.

She activates the holocron and begins to record a new entry.

Today has been an … interesting day.

My experiences are recorded elsewhere but I find myself still apprehensive. Speaking to Vegere I have more clarity but still no more idea where to go from here.

I am not sure Vegere is going to be able to help with the question dominating me now. With my sister in such distress and no real way to unite the tribes, I feel tempted to pick up and leave.

I probably won’t but I am left with little idea of where to go next and what to do next. I have to admit although the timing was displaced I had expected at some point to succeed in my experiment. However my hope was to come out of it with something I could demonstrate to them to give them hope that we had something that could compete with whatever the Nightsisters have. But no matter what the others agreed to it doesn’t feel like enough.

I don’t know what I specifically hoped for, and I am definitely sure I didn’t expect anything even close to what I actually got from the experience, but I am still left with nothing to point to and say “see here is proof we can do this, we can take on a power that can summon an army of the dead”.

And that brings me to my sister. I promised her that I would help her find her center, and I am not even sure how I can with all those emotions storming through her head.

It sounds odd looking towards a Sith for help but I really hope Irsin can keep his head on and help her but I fear by the end it will be as Vegere predicts and I will have to help them both ground. I just hope we are off this rock before that.

As they say one impossible scenario at a time.

As she finishes her sentence she stares into the distance again lost in thought. After a few minutes she catches herself again.

Perhaps finding my own center again is something I should work on as well. No matter, I have a few hours to center myself before having it all thrust upon me again.

On completing her thoughts she almost absently turns off her personal holocron and begins the techniques that by now have become as natural to her as sleeping ordering her thoughts and calming her mind in preparation for another day of chaos.

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