< sigh >
Well, no use sitting here waiting for sleep – no rest for the weary, I guess. I’m not even that tired, per se – I’m just… oh, I don’t know what I am. What I do know is that I’m tired of sitting here.
…And it’s Q’aleane to the rescue! I can feel her out on the bridge, waiting, and I get the sense she’s ready to tinker with that large Holocron we found on Wayland.
< stirring, standing >
I’m assuming she’s already summoned Irsin, so I’d best not keep her waiting.
Well, we are certainly in a nest of gundarks now, aren’t we?
I’m going to lie down while I finish this recording – even though there’s a lot to tell, hopefully I’ll be able to get some sleep tonight.
Yeah, right. < chuckles >
We gathered on the bridge to examine Q’aleane’s new Holocron. Considering what we know about the Telos Holocron – upon which this one seems based – I was half-expecting Darth Sidious himself to appear as gatekeeper. What I wasn’t expecting was Vergere, a former Jedi of the Old Republic. Over the next hour, the three of us listened as the Vergere gatekeeper explained not only the true purpose of the Holocron, but also her personal history and goals. To make a long story – a very long story – short, Vergere had in her lifetime briefly trained under Darth Sidious, traveled with the Vong from Zonama Sekot to far beyond the galaxy, and eventually returned with them to secretly attempt a change in the tide of the Yuuzhan Vong War. The gatekeeper persona was programmed at a time when Vergere seemed ready to involve Jacen Solo in a way that was apparently vital to her plans. Considering his eventual turn to the Dark Side as the Sith Lord Darth Caedus, I’m still trying to decide whether or not she was ultimately successful. For her part, Vergere indicated that if the Jedi and Sith were still pitched against one another, then her plans had failed, and – get this – she wants us to pick up where she left off!
I can’t get her words out of my head:
The Jedi and the Sith both have come to understand parts of the greater Force … But they have each become lost in their own dogmas. Both are right. Both are wrong. And the galaxy will never know true peace until both are ended, and a new, more balanced Order takes both their places.
Now, destroying the Sith I can understand – after all, how many times has their evil threatened the very existence of galactic civilization? But the Jedi? How does that make sense? The Jedi are guardians of peace and justice – surely, without the efforts of great Jedi such as Grandmasters Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and Jaina Solo… surely the galaxy would remain under the thumb of the Sith, or worse. Even when I feel conflict between myself and the Jedi Code, even then, I know it’s my fault. My failing. Any reservations I have about the Jedi Code, that doesn’t mean that the Order should be destroyed! And what would Vergere have in its place?! A “more balanced Order”…
Which segues nicely into what the purpose of this Holocron is. Apparently, it does contain the combined teachings of the Sith – yet these secrets have been locked away by Vergere, once she purged the Holocron of any Sith gatekeepers. In addition, however, Vergere has also included her beliefs about the Force… beliefs that sound eerily similar to those Q’aleane spoke of during our trip to Wayland. So we have all of this knowledge – yet that is not enough for Vergere. A task is presented to us: the Holocron can detect similarly ‘gray’ frequencies in the Force – other Holocrons recorded by those who share Vergere’s – and Q’aleane’s – belief in the Unifying Force. As the heirs to Vergere’s ambitions, we are supposed to track down these Holocrons and combine their knowledge with the ‘Master Holocron’ – this will apparently unlock further secrets of the Force that should act as proof of the Unifying Force theory.
Ashla, it doesn’t sound any less crazy coming from my mouth…
I don’t think it truly dawned on me just what the implications were here – not until Q’aleane asked what would happen if a member of the Jedi or Sith attempted to access the ‘Master Holocron’:
This device has been configured to respond to such interrogators as though it is a failed copy … No effort to access this holocron by anyone who does not truly stand outside the tenets of both the Jedi and the Sith will be successful.
I spoke up then, asking aloud what I hoped we were all thinking – what does that say about us?! Irsin seemed unconcerned… though I imagine with his master’s knife planted firmly in his back, he must be second-guessing his allegiance to the Sith. But what of me? What of Q’aleane? I know now that her beliefs are shifting away from the Code, but we’ve spent our entire lives preparing to become Jedi Knights! I’m working towards becoming an academy Battlemaster, and she’s going to become a legendary Consular – at least, that’s what we used to tell one another… Irsin asked me if I had ever felt in conflict with the Jedi Code – which elicited a laugh from both me and Q’aleane – but in all seriousness, even my most obvious failing on Bespin isn’t the same thing as being “outside the tenets” of the Jedi Order…
< sigh >
This is the worst time for this to be happening… I haven’t had adequate time to process the events on Wayland… there are no answers, only ever-mounting questions…
In any case, once Vergere finished answering our initial questions, the next obvious one became, “What do we do now?” Q’aleane had mentioned the Holocron in her formal mission report to the Taris Council, yet now we were unsure about handing it over to the Order. Certainly, if the Jedi were unable to decipher this device, they would either lock it away or destroy it. Even with my misgivings about the whole thing – and if only for Q’aleane’s sake – I felt compelled to see where this path would lead. In the Force, there is no coincidence, and no luck – we were placed on this path for a reason.
We decided to … delay … our return to Taris. We would contact the Council and tell them that Irsin had stolen the Holocron and escaped using the captain’s skiff. Q’aleane was unsure about Irsin actually taking the device, but I turned to him and asked plainly if he had any intention of betraying us – he said no. And for some reason… I believed him. That appeared to be enough for Q’aleane. Once Irsin had left the ship with the Holocron and our eventual rendezvous coordinates, Q’aleane contacted Taris.
Master D’Vorn was not pleased. Listening to the conversation from outside Q’aleane’s quarters, I was surprised to hear the emotion in Master D’Vorn’s voice… the anger. Q’aleane assured him that we would locate “Roan” and return the Holocron, and with that, the transmission abruptly ended.
Back on the bridge, I told Q’aleane about my misgivings concerning Vergere – not about her story, which shed some fascinating light on history, but about her intentions and aims. To my surprise – and relief – Q’aleane told me that although Vergere’s words might carry weight, they are most certainly colored by her experiences. In particular, Q’aleane told me about the Vong and their reverence towards, of all things, pain. She also told me about how she was… tortured as part of her trials on Zonama Sekot, apparently giving her the ability to both better understand the Vong and sense them in the Force. She said, “to the Vong, pain – and the experience of pain – is everything.” I think I may have subtly alluded to my time on Ansion, suffering under Trasa, but I decided not to go into it with so much already hanging in the air… though it does seem pretty hypocritical of me to complain that Q’aleane would not tell me of her experiences, and yet when she finally does, I withhold my own. No, I will tell her. When the time is right, I will tell her.
So, because Vergere had spent so much time with the Vong, her goals may be more aggressive – and more attuned to inflicting pain – than they otherwise should. Understanding this does alleviate some of my unease, and yet, we were still chosen. I truly do wonder if this has anything to do with the arch on Wayland – what if I’m right, and it was a prophecy of things to come? What if that’s all it took to alter the very fiber of my being, so that I’m now no longer considered a member of the Jedi Order…?!
No – I can’t believe that! I won’t!
< deep breaths, long pause >
Moving on… Q’aleane informed me that she was extremely uneasy about how to proceed, now that we had crossed a threshold of some deception against our Masters. She told me that there was someone she could trust with the truth of our situation – a Jedi Master she met while on Zonama Sekot. As she left to contact this Master Zatoq Vantai, I decided I would consult the only other Jedi I could trust – Master Ang. I contacted the Ossus Academy and lucked out – Master Ang was between lessons – and yet, I found myself unable to tell him everything about what had transpired aboard our ship. Instead, I simply asked him for guidance concerning evidence that the Jedi may be wrong in their teachings. Understandably, he could not assist me completely while I withheld information, but he was still able to calm my spirit – he told me that the Jedi do not claim perfection, and that they continuously strive to discover new avenues for understanding the Force. Without saying anything, I realized that perhaps this admittance of fallibility might be the in I would need to reconcile Vergere’s teachings with my own… perhaps. Regardless, it was so good to see Master Ang again. Hopefully my travels will one day take me to Ossus – I miss his teachings, his wisdom, and his acceptance of who I am.
Later on, Irsin returned to the ship as planned – with the Holocron intact, also as planned. Q’aleane informed us that her confidant, Master Vantai, would meet us at port on Eriadu, where hopefully he could provide us with the guidance we needed to move forward with confidence.
We’re now en route, and the journey should take a few days. Before we arrive, however, I want to talk with Irsin about his – and his former master’s – ability to become invisible in the Force. I can still remember the heat of that bastard’s lightsaber in my guts, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen again. There might not be anything I can do about taozin amulets… but if this is a Force ability, I may be able to train my vision to detect these kinds of abnormalities…
For now, though, I need to sleep. You know, not even good sleep, just some sleep would be nice. I need to turn off my brain for a while…
< chuckles > You know, looking at that date stamp, I completely forgot about the Festival of Stars… the year’s coming to a close, and in some ways, it does feel like the end of something… and the beginning of something else entirely.
Well, let’s see, where did I leave off…? Ah, that’s right – Irsin. The next day, I did go down to Irsin’s quarters to talk with him about his skill at invisibility. I think I genuinely took him by surprise when I asked him to basically phase in and out of visibility – of course I explained why, but I don’t think he expected me or my request whatsoever. He did, however, provide some crucial information that, while good to know, does count as a setback of sorts. While Irsin practices a form of invisibility related to the Mind Trick power, his former master uses a completely different ability. So, while observing Irsin would help me recognize his trick, it won’t do me any good against my true enemy. Regardless, I’m going to need all the help I can get when it comes to this sort of thing, so I did watch Irsin for quite some time, allowing my Force sight to adapt and adjust so that I’m pretty sure I can now sense his mind-trick style invisibility – if I concentrate just right.
Otherwise, the journey to Eriadu was uneventful, and we arrived on planet a half-day in advance of Master Vantai. While we waited for him in the docking bay, however, we learned of a terrible tragedy via HoloNet News – Senator Bail Thek had been assassinated on Taris! I felt an awful pang of… sadness… and guilt… when I heard the news. I did not particularly care for Senator Thek, and I did truly feel that he did not take the threats against his life seriously enough, but I did not want him dead… And, of course, what if I had been there? Maybe I could have done something, could have saved him… Instead of doing the Jedi’s duty – instead of protecting people – here I am following a Jedi-turned-Sith-turned-heretic on what could be a wild-bantha chase across the galaxy! What are we doing out here, Q’aleane?!
< deep sigh >
At the time, HoloNet News provided little detail about the incident, but we did learn from Master Vantai upon his arrival that the Senator had been caught in a firefight on the streets of Taris, during which his neck was broken by an invisible assassin – right in front of his Jedi bodyguards! Of course our thoughts immediately focused on Irsin’s former master – Vorman Grale – yet Irsin did not believe Grale to be the assailant. For one thing, the timing did not match up with our encounter on Wayland, and, perhaps more importantly, he had thus far used hired guns to do his dirty work, yet this assassination was direct and brutal. Regardless, we did not – do not – have enough information to pursue the incident, and besides, our current situation remains far more pressing.
Unfortunately for us, Master Vantai could not provide a clear path. While he understood Vergere’s message to a degree that validated what Q’aleane had told us about him, Master Vantai was hesitant to suggest any direct course of action. I was, frankly, shocked when he mused out loud that we may need to break from the Jedi Order to succeed in our new ‘mission,’ and I spoke up quickly against any such recklessness – we are Jedi, and we must remain loyal to our Order and all that we have worked so hard to achieve! Yet, on the other hand, we all still felt compelled to see what Vergere’s teachings might reveal…
…In the end, once Master Vantai departed – lest he appear suspicious in the eyes of his fellow Council members – our next moves remained solely in our hands. After much discussion and deliberation, we now have a plan. There are great risks involved, but we must trust that the Force will guide us on the righteous path… yet I can only hope that, in the end, the cost will not be too high.
As we conclude our business on Eriadu and prepare to leave the planet, with our ultiamte destination once again the Jedi Academy on Taris, I think it’s a safe bet that I’ve never been more serious when I say:
May the Force be with us.