Q’aleane, Master Tahl, and I traveled to Eriadu to continue our investigation into Senator Thek’s assassination. While Master Tahl followed up on our lead at the SeswenAlpha bank, we secretly reunited with Irsin. Irsin had asked Q’aleane to use her ship as a meeting place for him and his former master, Vorman Grale. Apparently, Grale believed that he was being set up by another Sith, and was innocent of the actions we’d witnessed over the past month or so. Q’aleane agreed to Irsin’s request, and Grale was brought on board. During the subsequent discussion, Grale fully admitted that he had in fact killed Senator Thek on Taris, and at that moment, Q’aleane and I sprang into action. After a brief but intense encounter, during which my saber skills subdued the experienced Sith Lord, Grale was taken into custody. We returned with him to the Jedi Academy on Taris – the Council could hardly contain its appreciation and joy at our quick and definitive resolution of the case. Master Tahl was assigned new Padawan learners, and Q’aleane and I were once again free to pursue our respective careers with the Jedi. To my surprise – and delight – Irsin threw off the shackles of his life as a Sith, fully embraced the Jedi way, and we went on to become… life-long friends. He, Q’aleane, and I continued to adventure across the galaxy, each of us eventually becoming well-respected as a Jedi Sentinel, Consular, and Guardian, respectively. The Force was with us, and we brought peace and justice to the galaxy for the rest of our days.
… heh …
I just played it all back – it does sound too good to be true, doesn’t it? I certainly wish things had turned out that way… at least, mostly. I wish the case was now closed, and I wish I was back in the good graces of the Council. I wish I could continue instructing Padawans – I wish I could continue teaching and practicing my art.
Above all that, though… I wish I didn’t have to keep lying.
It seems like every time I take a step forward as a Jedi Knight, I find myself taking two steps back because of the need for some deception, some degree of secrecy from those I’ve served, and those I’ve served with. And each time, it’s been because of him.
Because of Irsin.
Why do I keep letting it happen?! We were so close – we had Grale. He killed Senator Thek, and we had him in our ship’s cargo hold! If only we had brought him back with us to Taris – dead or alive – we could be done with this whole investigation! We could be back on track. Hell, we could even go looking into Vergere’s Holocron quest if we really wanted to! All we needed to do was get Grale. It was so simple…
< sigh >
No, I know that’s not true. And it’s not true because of Irsin – he matters. I’ve never met anyone like him before… he’s a Sith, so I keep wanting to close myself off from him, yet I desperately want him to see the real me. I want him to trust me, to like me, and I don’t even know why! He’s an enemy of the Jedi Order, and I know how important it is that the Sith be eradicated – so why am I so conflicted about this?
…Maybe it’s because part of me envies him. Not for being a Sith, mind you. It’s just that… when I look at Irsin, I see someone who doesn’t have to restrain his emotions. Though he remains distant and stoic, there’s something about him that reminds me of all the times I’ve had to hide under my Jedi persona in order to function normally amongst my peers. I envy him that personal freedom. And, even though he is a Sith, he’s not like how I’ve imagined them. Q’aleane sensed it early on – there is conflict within him. Compared with his master Grale, the contrast is stark. He’s lost his parents, he felt betrayed by the Imperial Knights, and he felt betrayed by his Sith master. It’s no wonder he won’t – or can’t – trust us.
< sigh > But I’m going on, aren’t I? I guess what I’m trying to say is that the Force brought Irsin into my life for a reason, and though I don’t entirely understand it, I’m beginning to feel a … I don’t even know the right word. What I do know is that I feel compelled to connect with him, and that for some reason I feel safer with the thought that he’ll be at our side in the journeys ahead.
So yes, I’ll admit that I understood his feelings about Grale, and why he asked us not to capture his former master. He had just learned that Grale was his father, and had discovered that his mother might not be dead after all! Armed, yet completely vulnerable with these revelations, how could Irsin hand this man over to the Jedi? Even when Q’aleane later discovered that Grale wasn’t actually Irsin’s father, he could not betray the man who had trained him all these years. Is it really that hard to imagine, though? Would I willingly betray Master Tahl or Master Ang, even if they had done something so horrible? Genetics aside, these men, like Grale for Irsin, have been like fathers to me. I know my first instinct would be to stand by them – if only I could have had that clarity when it mattered for Irsin.
Even so, and despite my desperation and unease, we left Grale behind. And with him, all those wishes of mine.
That’s not to say we left empty-handed, though. While Grale was responsible for assassinating Senator Thek, it turns out he wasn’t the man we battled on Wayland. In fact, the entire plot surrounding Darth Sidious’ artifact cache was the work of a Sith Master named Korvus Doone. A Shi’ido, Doone impersonated Grale even as he was hacking into the man’s personal accounts, learning Grale’s secrets and preparing to use them against him. Doone had apparently doctored the holovid of Irsin’s mother’s death, and was most likely holding his mother if she was still alive. While we had now lost Grale, Q’aleane suggested that if we were able to capture or kill this new Sith Lord, we might simply substitute him for Grale in our investigation. I can see the logic in it – nevertheless, I remain frustrated at our inability to decisively complete our mandates from the Council. Luckily, Irsin’s ability to hack computer systems meant that our investigation into Grale’s bank accounts on Eriadu would yield a connection to Doone… only we couldn’t tell Master Tahl that we knew it was Doone at all.
< sigh > More subterfuge, more deception. More lying.
After we dropped Irsin off at the skiff, we met Master Tahl at our docking bay to go over the results from the SeswenAlpha inquiry. We told him that the account that funded Cei Baaks now appeared to be a dummy account for some other individual whose accounts are also held at SeswenAlpha. This, combined with a report showing funds deposited into Grale’s account from a third account held at the bank leads us to believe that the Sith might have a larger presence here. And we mustn’t forget the other connection: Senator Ardus Tarkin, who has benefited greatly from Senator Thek’s death. The Tarkin family has controlled Eriadu for centuries, and if the Sith are connected with this bank, they might also be connected to Senator Tarkin… it certainly wouldn’t be the first time. After much deliberation about how best to investigate both a major intragalactic bank and a major sector Senator, we decided on a two-pronged assault. Master Tahl would use law-enforcement contacts to search public records for any relationship between the Tarkin family and SeswenAlpha, while at the same time, I would go to less savory venues to “locate” a splicer who could infiltrate the bank’s security systems and recover any relevant data that might connect the bank to either the Sith or the Tarkin family – or both.
I say “locate” because as I entered my quarters and grabbed my comlink, I knew exactly who I was going to get for this job. I sent a message to Irsin via our dead drop account, explained our current course of action, and asked whether he’d be willing to come on board as our splicer contact – meaning, of course, that he’d have to hide much of his Dark Side aura from Master Tahl. I even got in a dig about a comment he made earlier while meeting with Grale… Ashla, I know he knew we were listening, so I know it shouldn’t have bothered me like it did… when Grale asked Irsin why he was communicating, working, and allying himself with Jedi, his response was:
“Any tool, no matter how blunt, can always be of use.”
Like I said, I shouldn’t have taken it personally, but after how scared I was about Irsin’s safety, I felt like such a fool. There was a part of me that thought, Surprised, you idiot?! He’s a Sith, what do you expect? And, to be honest, I often don’t really know what to expect when it comes to Irsin…
Well, regardless, after I sent my message, his response was not what I was expecting:
“I am willing (to help). Also, for what it’s worth, I was fully aware you could hear me. I told Grale what he needed to hear. I meant no offense… you and your sister are going far beyond what you’ve any right to do in order to help. I respect that. I admit that I suspect your motives, but old habits die hard, and even if you are as honest as you seem, it will take time for me to accept that.”
There was a part of me that didn’t think he would ever open up! After all the messages I sent to him while on Taris, he never really addressed me as much as the mission – though I have to admit, my fear for his safety led me to be far more myself than usual, and that probably confused the hell out of him. I didn’t mean for it to happen, it was more a knee-jerk reaction to the possibility that Trasa was out there hunting me and, because of me, maybe Irsin too…
< nervous sigh >
…Nevertheless, this most recent exchange made me happy – and took my mind off of the fact that I was once again about to deceive my master willingly to keep Irsin in my life. We agreed to meet at a nearby cantina called The Varen, so while Master Tahl and Q’aleane were busy working the legal angle of the operation, I changed into my dress and veil – and lightsaber, of course! – and headed out into the Eriadu night.
The Varen was perhaps one of the most vile establishments I’ve ever seen. I wasn’t two steps down the stairs and towards the bar – scanning the crowd for Irsin – when the cat-calls started. Determined to keep my cool, I simply went to the bar, ordered a stiff drink, and headed directly for Irsin’s table, where he was already on his fourth glass of liquor. Things quieted down once the other patrons realized I was there to meet someone, which admittedly felt kind of nice. Also nice: Irsin’s mood seemed to have lightened, whether by intoxication or by inadvertently silencing a bar full of scum and villainy, I’m not sure. < laughs > We went over the operation, and he assured me that he had been honing his skills at obscuring his Dark Side presence, which elicited a sigh of relief. Finishing my drink, I made an attempt to reach out to Irsin, asking about his time on Taris… seeing if he really was okay, and hadn’t run into a certain Chiss bounty hunter… Unfortunately, despite his lightened mood, Irsin’s mind was still focused on the mission at hand – or he was still too uncomfortable with me – and he politely rebuffed the topic. < sigh > One step forward, two steps back again – it’s the story of my life as a Jedi Knight, alright! < chuckles >
After we had both finished our drinks, we left the cantina together, and returned to the ship. Q’aleane had setup her advanced Holonet equipment in the guest room not occupied by Master Tahl, and Irsin got to work on devising a plan for infiltrating SeswenAlpha. Q’aleane and I eventually got involved in this plan, utilizing various social engineering techniques in order to make Irsin’s job as painless as possible. While we were preparing for the initial hack, Master Tahl’s law-enforcement contacts reported in on their public records findings. Apparently, three members of the Tarkin family – including Ardus Tarkin – comprise a slight majority of the shareholders in SeswenAlpha. It’s not a direct connection between the Senator and the Sith accounts that we’ve identified, but it’s a start. With that avenue now sufficiently tapped, all we’re left with is Irsin and the information he hopes to uncover. He’s working through his hacking efforts right now, in his quarters below me – and I think it’s safe to say that if we’re going to find Doone and unravel the Sith’s relation to Eriadu and its Senator, he’s our only hope.