Knights of the New Republic

Adventure Log Index
Table of Contents

The First Adventure: An Introduction to Principals

Title Setting Date (ABY) Post Date Author Type
§ 1.1: The Gathering Darkness 29:09:122 05/14/2011 Alon Session Intro
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 15-32:9:122 05/24/2011 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 29-32:9:122 05/18/2011 Seth Journal
Q’aleane’s Report to the Tarisian Jedi Council #1 30:09:122 05/17/2011 John Journal, Report
Q’aleane Report to the Tarisian Jedi Council #2 30:09:122 05/17/2011 John Journal, Report
§ 1.2: Journey Into Shadows 33:09:122 06/11/2011 Alon Session Intro
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 32-33:9:122 08/08/2011 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 33:09:122 07/05/2011 Seth Journal
Q’Aleane’s Personal Journal 33:09:122 08/02/2011 John Journal
Q’aleane’s Preliminary Report to the Tarisian Jedi Council 33:09:122 07/05/2011 John Report

The Second Adventure: The Plot Thickens

Title Setting Date (ABY) Post Date Author Type
§ 2.1: The Space Between 34:09:122 08/13/2011 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 34:9-3:10:122 09/06/2011 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 35:09:122 09/09/2011 Matthew Journal
Q’aleane’s Journal 35:9-3:10:122 09/07/2011 John Journal
§ 2.2: Doubt Leads to Fear… 11:10:122 09/17/2011 Alon Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 11-14:10:122 09/19/2011 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 13-14:10:122 10/16/2011 Matthew Journal

The Third Adventure: Damage Control

Title Setting Date (ABY) Post Date Author Type
§ 3.1: What Lies Beneath 15:10:122 10/22/2011 Alon Session Intro
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 23:10:122 10/29/2011 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 27:10:122 10/27/2011 Seth Journal
§ 3.2: Delicate Balance 29.10.122 11/05/2011 Alon Session Intro
Q’aleane’s Journal 02:00:123 12/02/2011 John Journal
Q’aleane’s Report to Tarisian Jedi Council 02:00:123 12/06/2011 John Report
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 4:0-1:1:123 11/28/2011 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 01:01:123 12/05/2011 Matthew Journal

The Fourth Adventure: Treasure in the Deep

Title Setting Date (ABY) Post Date Author Type
§ 4.1: New Beginnings 02:01:123 12/10/2011 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 04:01:123 12/11/2011 Seth Journal
Q’aleane’s Journal 04:01:123 12/21/2011 John Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 04:01:123 12/27/2011 Matthew Journal
§ 4.2: Durance Vile 05:01:123 01/28/2012 Alon Session Intro
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 08:01:123 02/08/2012 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 8-9:1:123 02/06/2012 Seth Journal
Q’aleane’s Journal 8-9:1:123 02/08/2012 John Journal

The Fifth Adventure: The Mighty Jungle

Title Setting Date (ABY) Post Date Author Type
§ 5.01: Once More Into the Breach 09:01:123 02/18/2012 Alon Session Intro
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 13-15:1:123 02/27/2012 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 15:01:123 02/27/2012 Seth Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 15:01:123 02/27/2012 Seth, Matthew Interlude
Q’aleane’s Journal 15:01:123 02/29/2012 John Journal
§ 5.02: Back in the Saddle 16:01:123 03/10/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 17:01:123 03/11/2012 Seth Journal
Q’aelane’s Journal 17:01:123 03/21/2012 John Journal
§ 5.03: Night Falls 21:01:123 04/14/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 23:01:123 04/24/2012 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 23:01:123 05/02/2012 Matthew Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 23:01:123 05/01/2012 Seth, Matthew, John Interlude
Q’aeleane Ren and the Rancor 23:01:123 05/05/2012 John Dream/Vision, Journal
Q’ayla’s Dream 23:01:123 05/09/2012 Seth Dream/Vision
§ 5.04: No Dawn 24:01:123 05/19/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla and Q’aleane Interlude 25:01:123 05/28/2012 Seth, John Interlude
Q’aleane’s Journal 25:01:123 05/30/2012 John Journal
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 26:01:123 05/29/2012 Seth Dream/Vision, Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 26:01:123 06/13/2012 Matthew Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 26:01:123 05/31/2012 Matthew, Seth Interlude
§ 5.05: The Ties That Bind 26:01:123 06/24/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 26:01:123 06/27/2012 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 26:01:123 07/08/2012 Matthew Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 26:01:123 07/19/2012 Seth, Matthew Interlude
§ 5.06: Bound Together 27:01:123 07/28/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’Aleane and Vergere Interlude 27:01:123 08/08/2012 John, Alon Interlude
Q’aleane’s Meditations 27:01:123 08/08/2012 John Journal, Dream/Vision
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 1 27:01:123 08/08/2012 Matthew, Seth Interlude
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 27:01:123 08/08/2012 Seth Journal
Q’aleane and Q’ayla Interlude 27:01:123 08/10/2012 Seth, John Interlude
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 27:01:123 08/13/2012 Matthew Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 2 27:01:123 08/14/2012 Seth, Matthew Interlude
§ 5.07: Before the Storm 28:01:123 08/19/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla’s Bargain 28:01:123 08/22/2012 Alon, Seth Dream/Vision, Interlude
Q’Aelane’s Bargain 28:01:123 08/28/2012 Alon, John Dream/Vision, Interlude
Irsin’s Bargain 28:01:123 09/06/2012 Alon, Matthew Dream/Vision, Interlude
Conversation with Yevra 28:01:123 09/12/2012 John, Alon Interlude
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 28:01:123 09/14/2012
§ 5.08: Power Overwhelming 28:01:123 09/15/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’aleane and Vergere Interlude 29:01:123 09/27/2012 John, Alon Interlude, Journal
Q’ayla and Q’aleane Interlude 29:01:123 10/11/2012 Seth, John Interlude
§ 5.09: A Lonely Summit 29:01:123 10/20/2012 Alon Session Intro
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 32:01:123 10/28/2012 Seth, Matthew Interlude
Q’aleane’s Journal 32:01:123 10/31/2012 John Journal
Q’aleane and Q’ayla Interlude 32:01:123 10/30/2012 Seth, John Interlude
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 32:01:123 11/23/2012 Matthew Journal
Q’ayla’s Nightmare 32:01:123 12/08/2012 Alon Dream/Vision
Irsin’s Nightmare 32:01:123 12/08/2012 Alon Dream/Vision
§ 5.10: Sticks and Stones 33:01:123 12/08/2012 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 33:01:123 12/10/2012 Seth Journal
The Journals of Irsin Rashos 33:01:123 01/12/2013 Matthew Journal
§ 5.11: Words Can Never Hurt? 34:01:123 01/19/2013 Alon Session Intro
Q’ayla Ren’s Journal 34:01:123 01/30/2013 Seth Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 34:01:123 02/16/2013 Seth, Matthew Interlude
Q’aeleane’s Journal 34:01:123 01/30/2013 John Journal
Q’ayla’s Nightmare 34:01:123 02/16/2013 Seth, Matthew Dream/Vision
Irsin’s Nightmare 34:01:123 02/16/2013 Matthew, Seth Dream/Vision
§ 5.12: The Turning of the Tide? 35:01:123 02/16/2013 Alon Session Intro
Q’aleane’s Journal 35:01:123 02/27/2013 John Journal
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 35:01:123 03/08/2013 Seth, Matthew Interlude
§ 5.13: The Best Laid Plans 01:02:123 03/09/2013 Alon Session Intro
Q’aelane’s Journal 05:02:123 03/20/2013 John Journal
Q’ayla’s Journal 05:02:123 03/20/2013 Seth Journal
Q’aleane and Q’ayla Interlude 05:02:123 03/28/2013 John, Seth Interlude
Irsin and Q’ayla Interlude 05:02:123 04/18/2013 Matt, Seth Interlude
§ 5.14: The End… 06:02:123 04/20/2013 Alon Session Intro
§ 5.15: …Is the Beginning… 08:02:123 05/18/2013 Alon Session Intro
§ 5.16: …Is the End? 09:02:123 07/06/2013 Alon Session Intro
View
Session 24
...Is the End?

9:2:123 ABY

Following a brutal assault by the denizens of Dathomir’s lethal jungles, doubtless at the command of their faceless enemy, the companions debated furiously. The bound and still-unconscious Yevra was very nearly slain during the battle while they were engaged, and all agree that they can no longer afford to be slowed by the burden of transporting and defending her. After protracted discussion, it was agreed that the best that could be done was to keep her restrained, and conceal Yevra as best they could. To that end, the trio hollowed out the shell of a still-ripening ruhba fruit and secreted her within. Hoping that will be sufficient and knowing they can do no more for now, the companions press on to their final destination….

View
Session 23
...Is the Beginning...

8:2:123 ABY

All has not gone according to plan. The young padawan Yevra lies bound and unconscious, her mind shattered, perhaps irreparably. And yet the companions dare not release her, in the event that the malignant entity that possessed her – and attempted to do the same to Q’ayla Ren as well – will return and assault them again. Clearly, their presence, and their movements, are no longer hidden from their enemies, and it is unclear how much of their plans have thus been thrown into disarray. Fortunately, Q’ayla’s near-possession, after Yevra had been subdued, was not a total disaster – the being that touched her mind did not escape entirely. The young Knight can still feel a trace of its cancerous presence, like a flickering beacon in her mind. Hopefully, the companions can use that to their advantage, and extract victory from this desperate situation still….

View
Session 22
The End...

6:2:123 ABY

The Ren sisters and their companions have landed. Soon, they will have at last located Master Darach and, they hope, the lair of the Nightsisters. Their allies, the gathered clans of the Witches of Dathomir, united at so much effort, march toward this shared foe even now. And, as if the threat were not already reason enough, the deceitful Zethira, Clanmother of the Nightsisters, struck a cruel blow in the abduction of 16 of the Dathomori’s precious children, among them Jothelle’s own niece. With any luck, the kidnappers fled to the Nightsister enclave, and the children will be recovered before long….

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Session 21 - Irsin & Q'ayla Interlude

(Irsin kneels alone in his quarters, his forehead beaded with perspiration, dressed in a pair of loose fitting pants and no shirt. Around him, virtually every object in his room not attached to the bulkhead spins through the air in an elaborate pattern. The objects seem to chase each other, dance around each other soaring through the air ducking and diving. His face is set but not straining. This is clearly something he has practiced, both the pattern and the tempo. His brow furrows slightly as the pace of the swirling quickens, and one corner of his mouth twitches in a half smile as he adds one more object than he has done before)

(Q’ayla exits the lift and heads in the direction of Irsin’s room. She arrives at the door ready to knock, but pauses with her hand just before the door. She opens her mind to Irsin, taking note of his emotional state— she feels determination, concentration, satisfaction. She lets her hand drop, knowing that he’s likely in the middle of something. She takes a step back from the door and turns as though she might leave. Her hands move to her veil, and she adjusts it yet again – almost taking it off but deciding against that – then she forces her hands down and stretches her arms down at her sides. She looks back at the door, then turns in the direction of the lift… finally after minutes of indecision, she walks back to the door and, hesitantly, gently knocks on the door)

(Irsin almost doesn’t hear the soft knock at the door, focused as he is; when the sound permeates, however, the objects in the room all freeze in place and Irsin opens his eyes)

Irsin:
Yes?

Q’ayla:

Irsin?

(Irsin seems startled to realize that it’s Q’ayla, and notices for the first time her presence on the other side of the doorway. He seems suddenly frazzled and the objects in the air all seem to clatter to the ground at once as he realizes he’s sweaty and half dressed when she’s coming to see him. The noise to Q’ayla sounds like he’s kicked everything in his room off the shelves at once. He scrambles around his room trying to put everything back in place, some of it using the Force, others with his physical hands. He calls out hurriedly, sounding out of breath)

Irsin:
Just a minute!

(Q’ayla leans her ear towards the door after calling out to Irsin, and the sudden crashing sounds coming from his room cause her to jump back from the door— she barely stifles a quick yelp. When she hears him call out again, she approaches the door again, this time even more hesitantly)

Q’ayla:
Is… everything all right in there? Are you okay?

(Irsin is running around his room cleaning and straightening up. He finishes putting most things away and goes to open the door before he remembers that he’s not fully dressed and starts to groan. He unlocks the door letting Q’ayla come inside)

Irsin:
Sorry about that, I was practicing and…

(He trails off as he gets a look at her. His brow is still glistening and his red skin and tattoos stand out in stark contrast to her simple but stunning attire. He doesn’t seem to be sure how to respond. She’s standing in the doorway with a quizzical look on her face. She shifts slightly to look past him into the room for a quick moment, then goes back to looking at him— an advantage of her veil is that he can’t see her looking him over as she speaks)

Q’ayla:
…and I interrupted, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I shouldn’t just assume you’re sitting around doing nothing, right?
…But I can come in, right?

(She gives him a sly smile and shakes her head a little at the whole situation. He seems to sort of shake himself and comes back to his senses a bit)

Irsin:
Yes! Yes, of course. Please, do come in. I was going to say that I got a bit ahead of myself it seems, I lost control of the spiral, had to clean it up.

(He eyes her up and down a bit more boldly than he normally does)

From the looks of things I should go clean up. Can I offer you a drink before I step into the refresher?

(She looks a little confused at first)

Q’ayla:
From the looks of things…?
Oh— you mean me?

(She laughs a little)

Oh, this…
…well…
…no, no, I’ll get something for myself, why don’t you take care of this?

(She punctuates the questions with a playful jab of her finger against his chest. He laughs easily, leaning down and kissing her briefly)

Irsin:
As my lady commands…

(He says this with an elaborate bow before stepping into the refresher and closing the door. Q’ayla walks around the room a little, occasionally kicking into something still grounded from Irsin’s exercise. She picks up a stray soldering tool and sets it down on his desk in a place that at least looks appropriate)

Q’ayla:
Say, do you have any more of that Red Dwarf?

(She calls out to him over the sound of the refresher; then, quieter and more to herself)

I think I may need one…

(Spitting out a mouthful of water he calls)

Irsin:
Yeah there’s enough for a few more drams, try the top drawer of my desk.

(She nods at him, or the direction of the refresher at least, then moves to his desk, opening the top drawer. As predicted, the bottle of red liquid is inside, and as predicted, it is running a little low. She removes it from the drawer and then begins scrounging around for glasses; thankfully, they are more easily discovered. She sets the bottle and the two glasses down on the edge of the desk then walks back towards the refresher)

Q’ayla:
You mentioned “the spiral”— were you doing Force exercises? I really am sorry for disturbing your meditations, by the way!

Irsin:
Yes it was an exercise my old Imperial Knight master taught me.

(He seems to pause for a moment, and Q’ayla feels a small spike of regret before he smothers it)

Most on Kesh thought it ridiculous and a waste of time, but I have found few things that help me focus my mind as well as it, while stretching my limits in the Force… without say, destroying the room around me.

(He mutters to himself)

At least, usually…

(She looks back over the room)

Q’ayla:
Oh, I don’t know, the room looks pretty much the same to me!

(Her tone is teasing; however, Irsin can tell in their bond that Q’ayla is actually a bit of an emotional melting pot at the moment— genuinely happy, terrified, excited, panicky, spunky. Under all of that, though, he senses something below the surface, but it’s difficult to define)

—Kidding!

So the Sith allowed you to keep performing your Knight meditations? I’m surprised at that; I figured they’d want to drive that out of you…

Irsin:
Oh I don’t know, I’m not sure “let” is the right word—

(The refresher switches off mid-sentence and his voice seems too loud for a minute)

I suppose it would be more accurate that most didn’t know I used it. I kept it mostly to myself, but the masters disapproved. They can’t watch you all the time though…

(There’s a rustle of cloth as he towels off, and then dresses, his voice muffled as he pulls on a shirt. Shortly after, the door opens)

So how about that drink, eh?

(She smiles when she sees him, a big toothy grin, and she rushes over and gives him a quick kiss before hurrying to the desk. She picks up the Red Dwarf bottle in one hand and the two glasses in the other and holds them up to Irsin)

Q’ayla:
Got’em! Here, why don’t you pour? I don’t want to use up all your drink.

(She holds the bottle and glasses out to him; he laughs)

Irsin:
I’ve barely touched the stuff since our last night with it. What’s the point of having a thing if you don’t enjoy it?

(He takes the bottle and pours both glasses to a healthy level, emptying the bottle)

We’ll be off this rock soon and I can get some more anyway.

(He raises his glass to her)

So what’s the occasion?

(She holds her glass, looking at it for a bit)

Q’ayla:

Hmm…
How about… the eve of battle?

(Her face scrunches a bit at that)

No, no… that won’t do…

(Suddenly, her face brightens)

What about us?

(She gently taps the glass against his)

Here’s to us.

(He nods and drinks deeply from his glass)

Irsin:
As good a toast as I’ve ever had.
So…

(He seems to hesitate)

…is that why you’re all dressed up?

(He clearly wore the nicest clothes he has, a simple but well-kept tunic, trimmed with silver, and matching pants. She smiles)

Q’ayla:
Is that what I am?
This isn’t really fancy…

(Even though her tone remains bright, she seems genuinely sad at that)

No… I, uh… I mean, yeah, I got “dressed up” to come and see you. It’s just that… you know, tomorrow is— that is to say, we’re going to be…

(She’s fumbling through her thoughts; remembering she has the drink in her hand, she shuts herself up and occupies herself with a somewhat long draw)

Ahh, that is good stuff… So… uh… you got dressed up too, huh? If only there was someplace other than jungle to go out to on a night like this…

(She’s only doing mildly better by shifting the conversation back to him. He studies her both through their bond and with his eyes, trying to pierce something)

Irsin:
You’re nervous… why are you nervous? Are we not comfortable with each other yet?

(She looks away from him, blushing)

Q’ayla:
No… it’s not that…
It’s just…

(She takes another quick drink)

Come on— you’re putting me on the spot!
This isn’t easy, you know? It’s different thinking about it— talking about it with you right here!

(She walks up to him and rests her forehead against his chest with a thud)

I am a Jedi, after all…
…what would I know about this kind of thing?

(He seems confused, trying to puzzle out what she means for a long moment, then something seems to cross his face)

Irsin:
Oh!

(He seems taken off guard at first but quickly recovers)

Q’ayla… you know I don’t expect you to do anything you aren’t ready for…

(She nods into his chest)

Q’ayla:
I know…
I know.

(She takes a step back, sipping back the last of her drink, before walking to the desk and placing her glass on it. She stands with her back to him)

It’s just…
…I don’t think I can afford to—
That is… I don’t think I can wait any longer.

(He can feel her pressing down on that emotion just below the surface, willing herself to embrace the happier emotions)

I… I took a long time getting ready tonight. I don’t know that I’d call it “dressed up,” but I did want to look nice for you, Irsin. I’ve been thinking a lot these past few days, and I—

(She’s not exactly sure how to put the words together)

I… want to… be with you, love.

(He nods slowly seeming to understand. Finishing his drink slowly and deliberately, he sets the cup down on the table next to him. He comes up slowly behind her, resting his hands on her shoulders and speaking softly behind her)

Irsin:
I want you to know that tomorrow won’t change anything between us. Nothing is going to take this away from me. Nothing. I have worked too hard— fought too long. Looked too much, trying to find something that made sense, something that made me feel alive again. I’m not giving it up. Not for the Fanged God himself. If I have to spit in his eye and cut out his very heart…

…I will not lose you. Not even if you seek to try and lose yourself.

(He speaks with a heat and a fire that she has rarely heard from him, at least directed at her. His love and his emotion are coming off him through the bond in waves, powerful and steady. He means it, every word)

I love you, and I will always want to be with you. Always.

(She turns around and buries herself in his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist)

Q’ayla:
I love you too, Irsin.
It’s just— I…
I had… this whole thing planned out in my head…
I wanted tonight to just be about us
I wanted everything to be perfect
Look—

(She leans back from his chest and brings her hands up to her veil. She unclasps it in the back and lets it fall to the floor between them; she looks up at him, and her eyes look perfectly normal— not filled with the dark side, or even swirling clouds. Her irises are a pale blue color, like a summer’s day. Everything seems perfectly normal)

—see?

(Her emotions are roiling; the feelings she’s buried are starting to bubble. He smiles at her, knowing how hard this must be for her to maintain)

Irsin:
Q’ayla, it is about us. And it is perfect. I can’t imagine a more perfect night— me making a fool of myself, you being as beautiful as ever. But you don’t need to force it to be perfect. It just is. It doesn’t need to be choreographed. It just is.

And so are we.

(Tears start to well-up in those new, blue eyes)

Q’ayla:
But…
…I want you to have this.
This Q’ayla…

(She closes her eyes tightly, forcing a few new tears down her cheeks; when she opens her eyes again, they’ve returned to their “normal” state, swirling yellows and reds)

Not this
Not this one…
Or… I… tomorrow…

(She slams her eyes closed again, and brings her hands up to her face quickly and deliberately, wiping away her tears somewhat aggressively. She opens her eyes again – they have not changed)

No.

(She takes a deep breath)

No. Tonight isn’t about all of that. Not about tomorrow, nor the next day. Tonight is just tonight. And it’s just us. Regardless of what I give out there, I want— no, I need to… with you here. I owe you that much, at least, Irsin.

(Irsin takes a slow breath, and pulls her close against him)

Irsin:
I wasn’t saying no. I wasn’t pushing you away. I was trying to help you see how priceless each moment is. If there’s one thing that the Sith know, and the Jedi don’t seem to…

It’s that it matters to live for now. This moment. This time. Right now, it’s important. It’s more important than anything else because it’s real, it’s immediate, it’s present. Living for tomorrow, or the day after, or the day after that…

It’s an illusion.
It’s a maybe.
It’s a hope.

Now is the only thing that’s real. Now is all that matters. I’m not letting you go. Now now.

Not ever.

(He tilts her head up so he can look into her eyes, and he doesn’t so much as flinch)

You hear me?

(And he lowers his lips to hers, trying to crush her doubt and self-recrimination in his embrace. Q’ayla opens her mouth to respond but is immediately caught up in a passionate embrace; she actually lets out a muffled yelp of surprise before melting into Irsin. After several moments the kiss ends, and she keeps looking at him)

Q’ayla:
It’s funny… I’ve always been good at living in the moment. At the academy there was always some task to focus on, some class or debate or discussion going on, something to train on, you know? In fact, as far as the future was concerned, I only ever considered being a Battlemaster. But ever since I met you and Vergere, and we all came to this place…

I can’t stop thinking about what’s going to happen in the future— will we all die here? And even if we don’t, what waits for us when we leave? What will happen with the Jedi? With the Sith? With our quest?

And…

…I find that I care more about the future because, for the first time in my whole life, I actually feel like I have a future. Something beyond myself and the Order. I have you. And I think about what will happen to us in the future. I care about you so much, Irsin, and I want to keep you safe. I never knew I could care about someone like this, and be so passionate about keeping them close to me.

…I don’t know how you still manage to live solely in the moment, love…
…Sometimes I wish I could go back to that too.
But I just don’t know anymore… life has changed me. More than I ever thought it would.

(He smiles, a brilliant, true, full smile, and his expression carries with it the peace of understanding)

Irsin:
Ahh but don’t you see, Q’ayla? I live in the moment because I have you. Because the thought of missing one moment, of letting a breath pass that I don’t appreciate, take notice of, and cherish when it occurs, it’s intolerable. I can’t let any moment go by without living it, because tomorrow it might all be gone. Even without this blasted planet, without everything we face tomorrow, we live dangerous lives. This I have learned over and over. We walk a knife’s edge every day, between complete victory and crushing total defeat. At any moment we could find we aren’t as strong as we thought we were, we didn’t prepare as much as we anticipated.

It could end, at any time.

For this I am at peace. I have no regrets. I might regret some actions I have taken, in the past, but I long ago gave up the pretense that I’d ever be able to undo those actions. What is done is done. And if I spend all my time thinking about what may be, what could be, I will fail to live and enjoy what is.

Life has changed all of us. If you asked me a few months ago whether I thought I’d be in love with a Jedi? I’d have laughed at you. If you had asked me fifteen years ago if I thought I’d end a student of the Sith? I’d have challenged you for the insult. Nothing happens as we plan, but every moment is worth living…

…experiencing…
…internalizing…

…even the painful ones. Otherwise the lessons they teach cannot be fully learned.

(When he mentions laughing at the idea of loving a Jedi, Q’ayla laughs a little, keeping the wide, toothy smile and nodding in understanding. Throughout, though, she seems totally enthralled by what he’s saying, as though he’s imparting the great wisdom of the galaxy to her. When he finishes, she wraps her arms around his waist and pulls him close, turning and resting her head on his chest. She speaks quietly, and thoughtfully…)

Q’ayla:
…Why couldn’t you have been a Jedi Master, Irsin?

You can imagine how much I’ve been thinking about my time at the academy lately… and it seems to me like Master Tahl and all the others, they were speaking over me— to the me they were sculpting in their own image. But you…

…you speak to the real me. The me I’ve always been. The me I’ve had to keep hidden from them, because that me wasn’t right. I’ve been spending so much time worrying about what will happen out there tomorrow… I fear I haven’t been appreciating all of these moments in between…

Whatever happens out there, whatever choices we make, we’ll still be ourselves afterwards. Changed? Maybe. But I’ll still be Q’ayla, and if you’re willing to love that Q’ayla too…

…then it doesn’t matter. I’ll be okay.

(She leans up and kisses him tenderly)

I don’t want to have regrets. I don’t merely want to accept life as it comes. I want to be at peace. And I want to be with you, Irsin.

(When she mentions the idea of him being a Jedi Master, Irsin raises an eyebrow with an odd mix of amusement at her and something else… annoyance towards the order? Contempt? Whatever it is seems to fade quickly. However, near the end of her speech, as his smile slowly returns and he holds her happily, his body suddenly stiffens and his face becomes a mask almost as though he was slapped)

Irsin:
Peace is a lie.

(The words come to his lips, unbidden, but he seems unable to prevent them from coming out)

Passion is what brought us together, not peace. Our path forward isn’t about peace, but life. Life is inherently violent. Flashing. Burning brightly. I want to be with you Q’ayla. But not for peace. For life, for passion.

(Abruptly he seems to realize what he was saying and lets any next words die on lips, falling silent. Then slowly and quietly, without the edge that had crept into his voice a moment before)

Are you afraid of your passion?

(She feels the change in him just before he speaks, and she moves to head to look up at him. As he speaks, though, her expression changes— where she was finding some measure of contentment, now she seems concerned, or perhaps just confused. They stare intently at each other as he asks the last question, and she’s caught off guard. Her mouth opens to speak, but it takes her a moment to form the answer)

Q’ayla:
I…

…Sometimes, yes.

(Almost urgently he asks)

Irsin:
Why? What are you afraid of?

(Her eyes shift, breaking their gaze momentarily)

Q’ayla:
I’m… I mean… I’m afraid of what I might do because of it. Of what I’ve already done because of it.

(He seems to shake his head slightly)

Irsin:
But look at what it has also brought you? Every terrible thing in our lives isn’t as a result of our emotions. Emotions are just how we respond to them— how we react, learn, and gain strength from the trials we endure. We cannot fear the future anymore than we should live for it. Right?

(She nods slightly, looking down)

Q’ayla:
You’re right. I know you are. And, regardless of what has or will happen, I am a passionate person. I’ve just never been able to embrace that. I’ve been acting for so long that sometimes it’s hard to remember which is real.

(He seems to relax, as though he was afraid he would hear something different)

Irsin:
I know it is hard to let yourself embrace that which makes you strong and unique when you have been told your whole life that it is wrong. But you can’t let those fears control you anymore. They aren’t your own, they were someone else’s and they were forced upon you. Now is the time to stretch your wings, and rediscover who you really are.

And I will be there every step of the way to help.

(She raises her eyes to him again, and there’s warmth in them)

Q’ayla:
Thank you, Irsin.
Truly.
I can’t promise that I’ll be able to let go of all of this all at once. I won’t lie— there’s still a part of me that’s terrified about the immediate future. But I’ll do the best I can. That’s all I can ever promise…

…But right now – tonight – I’m living for the moment. This moment here.

(She releases her hug and wraps her arms up around his shoulders)

Now… I guess the only question is… are you going to let this moment go to waste?

(She smiles at him— at once mischievous and loving, nervous and excited. He grins broadly right back before bending down to fold her into another embrace, one he doesn’t intend to release anytime soon, and says)

Irsin:
Not in a million parsecs.

(As things progress between them, Irsin, with a flick of his hand, reaches out with the Force and turns off the lights)

View
Session 21 - Q'aleane & Q'ayla Interlude

(Q’ayla exits her room, heading for the lift down to the lower level. She seems so inwardly focused that she doesn’t notice her sister sitting in the center of the bridge until she’s almost reached the lift. She stops just before heading down, pausing to look at Q’aleane for a long moment. After a few seconds, she opens up her mind to her sister, tentatively looking in on what’s going on inside but prepared to leave if it’s something personal or private)

(In Q’aleane’s mind: Q’aleane appears to be pacing on top of the lake in her mind, in the distance, three and four targets pop up suddenly and she throws something at them and they crash and disperse… In their place more pop up in odd places and sizes and in random intervals. She appears to be up to six or so independent targets. Q’ayla gets an overwhelming sense of “Bored Now” reverberating through the mindscape. Despite that feeling of boredom Q’aleane appears to be engrossed enough for right now not to notice her sister)

(Q’ayla suppresses a small laugh when she sees her sister apathetically destroying targets over the lake. She looks from Q’aleane to the lift, then back again, then again; finally, she steps aside and, leaning against the wall, she slides to the floor, settling herself. With some effort, she allows herself the calm and concentration necessary to enter her sister’s mind. Once she feels comfortable and stable in there, she stands on the periphery, watching again for a moment as she adjusts before speaking)

Q’ayla:
Why do I get the sense that you’re… what’s the word I’m looking for… bored?

(For a brief moment it is as if eight Q’aleane’s all notice Q’ayla at the same time… some of them feel like the mental equivalent of a kitten… one of them feels like her sister is normally, and one of them feels like… nothing Q’ayla has ever felt before… Q’ayla doesn’t sense any hostility from any of them, just intense driving curiosity. After a moment the feeling passes and it feels as if all of them have merged into one, the feeling of Q’aleane dominates, the kittens all but disappear, and the final one appears to acquiesce. At the same time she notices that the lake calms and the tension seems to drain off of Q’aleane into the lake. She turns to Q’ayla)

Q’aleane:
Hey sis, don’t normally talk to you like this… what is up?

(A fragment of Q’aleane appears to worry for a second and check the ship to see if something is going wrong, then re-integrates. Q’ayla moves as though to speak, but hesitates then pauses until things feel right again)

Q’ayla:
Don’t worry, everything’s fine. I was on my way down to the lower level and thought I’d check in on you. I can’t believe you’re bored after all this, Q’aleane. Wasn’t piloting the ship for almost six hours exciting enough for you?

(She makes a sly smile. Q’aleane sighs and seems to… well, ‘plop’ is the best word… down. For a moment it seems like she’s going to dunk in the water, but she doesn’t)

Q’aleane:
No, not really. Hell when we are flying it is almost too normal. Sort of like running after you have caught your second wind… you are kind of aware of what is going on around you, enough to know where you are going and how to avoid things but not really enough to keep me occupied. It might be different if I were piloting normally, but the mental link makes it… different.

(Q’ayla walks to the edge of the lake, leaning over to peer into the water. The phrase “When you gaze into the void, the void gazes back” springs to mind. She gets a momentary feeling like earlier, of a deep, deep pool of Q’aleane… but not Q’aleane. For a moment it seems to act as a dark mirror showing back to Q’ayla what Q’aleane sees when she sees her. She gets the overwhelming feelings of affection, worry, and amusement that she can sometimes feel coming from Q’aleane, but quite a bit… stronger than normal. Q’ayla nods slightly at this before sitting cross-legged on the edge of the shore, just to be safe)

Q’ayla:
Alright, so dangerous piloting doesn’t excite you. And we’re far from the Clanmeet now…
So what do you want to do? We’ve got one more night before… well… before we get where we’re going. Let me guess? You want to try something that’s never been done with the Force before, right?

(She leans her chin against one of her hands, but the smile she wears is not mocking but warm. At the mention of playing with the Force, Q’aleane’s eyes almost light up— in the corner of her mind she can almost see an image of a prism and the beginnings of an idea… after a moment, though, it kind of drains away)

Q’aleane:

No… not really, that would be a bit dangerous and I know you are worried about that. Besides, playing with those energies is probably not on the table for a while… I just don’t know what I should be doing right now.

(Then, almost wistfully)

In the academy it was all so easy… always something to think about.

(Q’ayla nods with a similar sense of nostalgia)

Q’ayla:
You’ve got that right…
If we weren’t going on assignment, we were in class, in training, doing homework, meditating…

(She seems like she could go on and on, but trails off)

You miss it.

You’re going to miss it, aren’t you?

(Q’aleane seems to ponder that for a while… absently tracing patterns in the water with her finger… the ripples go out but eventually calm)

Q’aleane:

Yes and no. To an extent it is like remembering something that was good at the time… But I was already starting to ask questions that made some of the masters distinctly uncomfortable. I imagine that is, in part, why they sent me off to Zonama Sekot… kind of a way of channeling me along the path they thought was most healthy. And they were right in a way… but I don’t think going back now, even if I could explain away the changes in us, that it would be the same. Chances are the questions I would ask now would only get me in more trouble.

Q’ayla:
Never mind the fact that I’d have to tell them about everything that’s happened here, right?

I’ve been really struggling with the idea of not going back— of deserting the Order after we leave Dathomir. In the past few days, though… I don’t know, it’s like it’s not so bad anymore. It might even be better for everyone that way, you know?

(She gently glides a finger over the edge of the water, keeping her eyes on her hand and not on her sister. Tracing the water, several things seem odd about the experience. At first, Q’ayla has trouble even detecting that there is water there at all… kind of like floating in water that is body temperature… The density of the medium is at the same time lighter than she would normally expect water to be… almost smoke like, but it reacts more like a much denser liquid would, like oil. Perhaps the most puzzling is there appears to be an odd echo effect through the link as she does it. It is ill-defined and hard to pin down but it is almost like what Q’ayla is tracing is echoing back to her through Q’aleane. When she looks at her sister, if she is aware of it she isn’t letting on. Q’ayla pauses her tracing briefly as she takes in the strange new sensations; she looks at Q’aleane but doesn’t read anything on her face. She decides that the feeling is sort of nice in its own way, and then continues to traipse her finger into the lake.)

(Q’aleane giggles slightly)

Q’aleane:
Can you imagine the debriefing? “Oh, by the way, everything you know about the Force is wrong and I can prove it…” “Oh and sorry about that, but we kind of had to talk to the embodiment of the Dark Side as the other two were being kind of dickish and we needed to figure out a way to save them from themselves… well themselves and that fourth weird one…” “No I am not insane…”

(Q’ayla lets out a laugh)

Q’ayla:
They would never believe you on that, sis!
If they didn’t kill me— us outright, they’d definitely lock us up, that’s for sure. And imagine Master Tahl’s reaction…

(Through the link, Q’aleane can sense something in Q’ayla’s mind, underneath the mirth that she seems to be putting up as a front. Talking about the Jedi seems to be eroding her confidence, however, so she changes the subject again)

But anyways, back to what I was asking before— I mean it, if you want to try one of your experiments tonight… as long as it’s relatively safe at least… I’ll try it with you. I won’t be mad, I promise. We don’t know what’s going to happen out there tomorrow, and I want to do this with you, Q’aleane. It’s your passion, and I’ve been wrong to keep you from it.

(Q’aleane seems somewhat taken aback at first…)

Q’aleane:
Well in a strange way I am not sure I can right now. The only thing I have been able to come up with involves… well you know how color can be two different things? Like when you paint on a piece of white paper and add more and more colors, it never gets back to white… but if you combine a bunch of different colored lights you end up with white… I am wondering which that green power is more like? I am suspecting it is more like the latter as we were only able to get through the barrier to help Barruka with all of us and our different energy signatures. But if I start playing with that line of thinking, chances are good I may end up unconscious… which would be a bit detrimental to our current plans to say the least…

(The last part is said with more than a little self-depreciating humor)

Other than that I got nothing… and I am not even sure why.

Q’ayla:
Well that doesn’t seem like you at all— you’ve always got a lot of things going on all at once. Are you not feeling well? Maybe all this flying about is tiring you out more than you realize?

(Q’aleane seems to ponder that for a bit)

Q’aleane:
No not tired, just frustrated. It’s like we have set these things in motion and yes, we have accomplished a lot with very little, but right now… I am still not sure it is enough. And I don’t like the options available to us to deal with things if they go bad.

(She seems to want to say something but is reluctant. Q’ayla looks a bit uncomfortable, and shifts a little; she untucks her legs and comes up onto her knees, sitting back on the backs of her legs)

Q’ayla:
Well, we’re definitely better off with Allya’s help, that’s for sure. If not for that, we’d probably still be arguing with the clanmothers. And don’t forget… we’re not out of options yet. No matter what comes.

(Q’aleane sighs)

Q’aleane:
Okay… I need you to promise me something.

I have been making an effort to avoid doing these experiments because it may end up hurting you. I need you to promise me something for the same reason. Do not give into him. He may be a god to our people, but even they warn of him. And all the legends across all the worlds I know of all say the same thing:

“Do Not Trust.”

We are stuck working with him for a time. We have all accepted that in our own way and we will all have to help each other out of those pits when we are done. But if you… with our connection… I am not sure …

(Q’ayla sighs)

Q’ayla:
Q’aleane, don’t…
Please…

(Q’aleane can feel whatever her sister is trying to hold down inside of her tremors once, then again)

I’ve made up my mind about this, sis. You’re not the only one who’s tried to talk me away from this. You’d be surprised how insistent Irsin can be…

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, dealing with this for days. After the past two nights I— I just…

(She sighs again, her head hangs)

…I’ve accepted this Q’aleane. I’ll do what I have to do to get us out of here safely. And I’m trying to hold it together tonight, not just for me…

(At once, Q’ayla realizes that the underlying awareness of the place has become focused on her again… there is no emotion attached to it, just awareness of attention being paid)

Q’aleane:
I need you to listen to what I have to say.

Do you realize how much it is taking me to keep from attempting to summon that energy again? I have never been that reckless. But here it is. And I am resisting it because of the damage it could do to you.

You haven’t thought this all the way through. Remember what happened when I tried to enter the Spirit Realm alone? This isn’t a case of if you go down, you go down and I am there to pick up the pieces. I am not saying don’t accept some of the power, I am saying don’t dive into the hole head-first. Because if you do, you will drag Irsin and I down with you. And neither of us will be able to help you through to the other side.

If you need to accept some of his power, fine. We all have… but don’t dive in head-first and think you can do it all yourself with his help. We are all in this together and if we all take a portion of the burden than maybe, just maybe, we will be enough ourselves on the flip side that we can help each other…

…But if you try to shoulder it all yourself… well you saw what it almost did to me until I realized I was hurting you.

(Q’ayla recoils a little from those words, almost like a child being scolded. It would be a reaction familiar to Q’aleane from their days with the Jedi)

Q’ayla:
I… I wouldn’t hurt you, Q’aleane. At least, I wouldn’t hurt you intentionally. And I don’t want to hurt Irsin, either. I just—

(That feeling inside Q’ayla is starting to spike)

I just don’t know what’s going to happen! I have no idea what we’re going to face down there, and what I’m going to need to give in order to keep us safe! I don’t want to hurt anybody, Q’aleane, but I will not stand by and let us all die just because there’s risks involved! You didn’t hear Bogan— you didn’t hear those words!

“You are not strong enough to stop them.”

“You are not strong enough to stop them!”

And then I’ll be all alone! And there’s screaming and death and panic and pleading! And I’m all alone! All… alone…

(She’s having a hard time staying connected to this space; her concentration is starting to falter. Q’aelene reaches out with her mind and stablaizes the link… Q’ayla feels a sense of power coming from the lake… not power like the kind that would burn or kill or maim, power that gets unleashed, but the kind of deep-rooted power that is content with being right where it is like a tree by a river… it is clear that Q’aelane doesn’t even know that it is there. She just reacts instinctually)

Q’aleane:
You… are… not…. alone.
And that is my point.
The only way either of us will ever be alone is if we give into the fear that we will be alone. Oh I heard Bogan’s call…

“You are not powerful enough, you don’t know enough… Give in and be a conduit for power you can’t even possibly imagine… You want to know how the universe works, I will tell you. It is all there just reach out and grab it.”

But he lies. Remember that… every time he says, “Do this thing or something bad will happen.” The one thing throughout history, across cultures, across eons… he lies. If he is telling you that you need to be strong enough to stop them all by yourself or you will be all alone… think about it… think why you would need to stop them by yourself to avoid being alone…

We are here to help each other. If either of us gives in completely, we all fall. We need to be strong enough to know when to stop.

(Q’aleane can see her sister taking deep breaths, trying to hold herself to this space. Q’ayla is visibly trembling, and her sister isn’t exactly sure if she’s comprehending properly)

Q’ayla:
Q’aleane… you don’t know…
You haven’t seen…
You haven’t seen the things I’ve seen…
It’s all going to come true…

(She words come much slower, more deliberately)

It already has once…

(Almost as if on cue, the space around the two sisters begins to shine and distort, and the scene of the lake seems… replaced, perhaps, with a very different scene… A massive, familiar looking rancor is holding Q’ayla, squeezing her, breaking her body down. Q’ayla coughs blood and gasps, at the edge of death. In front of her is Q’aleane, standing quietly, staring at her dying sister, tears of blood streaming down her face)

These aren’t just nightmares, Q’aleane…
I know that now…
And if I don’t do what Bogan has asked of me…

(The scene changes once again, this time to a clearing in the jungle. The sounds all around the two seated sisters is almost deafening— screams, the clangs and buzzes of weapons, battle cries, death cries. All around them death is being dealt, and Q’aleane can see Q’ayla dying over and over and over again, each time dispatching one more assailant before being killed again; sometimes, Q’aleane sees herself dying, sees Irsin dying. Finally, in the end, Q’ayla stands alone, screaming impotently and railing against a horde of Nightsisters. Her companions are dead, and soon so is she— the scene snaps and flashes back to the lake, but Q’ayla is reeling on the shore. These scenes are as real as anything else Q’aleane has ever experienced, even as she knows that this is a subconscious, mental place)

You…
…don’t…
…understand.

(Echoes of the scenes continue to play out, fragments of shadows playing a macabre play above the lake. Q’aleane appears to concentrate for a moment… instead of the normal drain into the lake the lake seems to take form, the form of a familiar giant rancor rises through Q’aleane, merging with her and swallowing the images whole. In a blink the rancor, the images, all of it dissipates and falls like water into the lake. In but a moment the lake stills… there is nothing left in the clearing but peace… Quietly, Q’aleane speaks)

Q’aleane:

You don’t understand.

I almost lost myself because I listened to him. Not in the Spirit Realm, but before that. In the end only my connection to you let me survive. And you have to remember: The rancor didn’t kill you. I subsumed the rancor.

(There is meaning behind that word that Q’ayla feels but doesn’t fully understand)

If we hadn’t been connected, I would have been lost. These images he has been showing you are lies. Is there going to be a battle? Sure… just like there was a rancor. But he twists things to make his way the way you embrace. This is not me saying this, this is taught in every culture that has a name for him. He is the deceiver… he twists words to his favor. Unlike the Jedi, I do not think he needs to be avoided at all cost. But like the Dathomiri I too believe that to give in wholly to him is to destroy everything. Even our connection.

(Q’ayla is quiet for a long time; she seems to be trying to regain herself after the outburst. In the link, Q’aleane can sense her sister again pushing those feelings and thoughts down, deep down. After some time, she speaks again)

Q’ayla:
I don’t know, Q’aleane…
I just don’t know.
I don’t know what to believe anymore.
I’ve been trying so hard to hold myself together with this. For myself, for Irsin…
I need to just keep it together for a few more days…

I won’t do anything reckless, sis. Or at least I’ll try not to. But I don’t know what’s out there waiting for us. I want to promise you, I really do.

But I can’t.
All I can promise is that I’ll try to be my best. And hopefully that will be enough, you know?

(Q’aleane walks off the lake and embraces her sister)

Q’aleane:
That is all I can ask… that is all you asked of me. Just remember we are in this together, whatever you decide.

(She looks at her sister meaningfully with those last words… her eyes betray her true meaning… communicating more than words what she means… She truly thinks that if Q’ayla were to go down that hole, she would axiomatically have to go with her and she is trusting Q’ayla to make the right decision)

(Q’ayla embraces Q’aleane and listens to her words. She nods at what her sister is trying to convey, and something else seems to come back to her)

Q’ayla:
Wait… what do you mean about the rancor? Bogan came to you before the Spirit Realm?

Q’aleane:
Who do you think it was in that nexus of darkness during that night out? He evaded the question when I asked him but were it the other, he would no doubt have used that fact to his advantage and pointed out it was the other, not him. I can think of no other it could have been.

Q’ayla:
That… hadn’t occurred to me. In my nightmare, the rancor was a very different thing…

(She shakes her head roughly to get the thought out)

I’ll think about what you said tonight, Q’aleane. You know you mean the world to me, right? It’s a fine line I have to walk between saving and hurting you, I know that. Promise me that you won’t hate me if I falter, okay? Promise me…

(Q’aleane cocks a mischievous smile)

Q’aleane:
All I can promise is that I’ll try to be my best… and hopefully that will be enough, you know?

(There is a sense of affection in the phrase, not maliciousness. She sits back down with obvious fatigue)

Dealing with those emotions was draining you know… not used to it… to be honest I am not even sure what that rancor was. But I do know I’m not bored anymore…. just tired.

(Q’ayla lets out a breathless laugh)

Q’ayla:
Well, at least you’re not bored anymore… I guess I’m good for something!

Oh, by the way… You don’t happen to have any fancy dress clothes or makeup, do you? I never really asked since you got back from Zonama Sekot…

(Q’aleane looks up with an odd tilt to her head)

Q’aleane:
You were headed to spend time with Irsin when you ran into me, weren’t you? I’m sorry for detaining you with my broken brain… literally.

(She chuckles at that)

Let’s see what we can piece together, I can at least do your hair… not sure what I have in the way of clothing that doesn’t just scream Jedi… But who knows, between the two of us we might be able to piece something together. We should probably switch back to physical form— chances are you probably have one hell of a charlie horse.

(Q’aleane sits back down in the middle of the lake in a mirror of the form she is in in the physical world and begins to drift back; Q’ayla senses she is doing it slowly to give her time to transition back less abruptly than she normally does. Q’ayla concentrates hard, bringing herself out of the mental space and back into the physical. As Q’aleane comes out of her mind, she’ll find Q’ayla seated up against the wall near the lift; she’s wearing her strapless dress from Ansion and the matching veil, and her hair is let out long like her sister’s, and seems to be shining and smooth. She picks herself up and stretches a little, getting her bearings)

Q’ayla:
Don’t apologize, sis…
…I came into your broken brain, you didn’t force me…

(She smiles warmly)

Yeah, I don’t really have anything other than this, and honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin… but I feel like I need to be with him tonight. You know, before…

(She trails off, but keeps her head up all the same)

Q’aleane:
Well I am not sure what I can do to add to that… it looks like you have the outfit covered. I didn’t know you had a dress like that— where did you get it? … Wait… you can tell me some other time, go… spend time with him.

(She smiles…)

I will go get some sleep…

(Q’ayla smiles, crosses the room, and gives her sister a big hug)

Q’ayla:
…Thanks Q’aleane. I love you. Sleep well, we’ve got a big day tomorrow.

(Letting her go, Q’ayla heads for the lift, continuing to adjust her hair and clothes nervously as she goes)

View
Session 21 - Q'ayla Ren's Journal

{Holocron…GetDateTime=02:02:123ABY;19:35}
{Holocron…AccessQRAvatar=F}
{Holocron…AccessJournal=T}
{Holocron…BeginNewRecording.act}

(As the holocron activates, Q’ayla is exiting the refresher after having showered. As she begins sorting through her clothes, she starts to speak)

Well, we’re on our way. The Clanmeet is over, we’ve made our plans, and now it’s time to finally end this.

Even though in the beginning, I was pretty against the whole idea of the Clanmeet, especially based on my interactions with the Dathomiri up to that point, I’m actually glad it happened. Ultimately it was a really positive experience for me; on the one hand, I got be a Jedi again, even if only briefly; at the same time, watching these women, who traditionally are not allies or even necessarily friendly to each other come together… unite… like that, it was just…

It felt good. It felt really, really good to be a part of that. It’s just too bad that all of it came under such grave circumstances…

There’s a part of me that actually didn’t want it to end. I know, crazy, right? Me, sticking to diplomacy instead of action? It’s true, though. Up until this point, all I’ve wanted to do on Dathomir is find the Nightsisters and end their threat. All the talking and maneuvering to get the clanmothers on our side was so… boring. And yet, as we walked up into the ship this morning, I couldn’t help but turn back to the Praxeum and just stare for a moment.

I wish it didn’t have to end. I wish that Q’ayla could just stay there, talking, helping, making connections with women who I initially couldn’t stand, and now am honored to know. But we’re on our way now. And soon I’ll be helping in a very different way…

(Now dressed in her nightclothes, Q’ayla pauses at her dresser for a moment, her head hung low; with a quick shake she seems to force herself back into motion, and she climbs into her bed)

Let’s not dwell on all of that, okay? Not yet, at least. I’m too tired for that, and I need my sleep— please, Ashla, no nightmares tonight.

Who knew flying a ship for hours on end would be so tiring?!

(She laughs lightly, beginning to wrap herself in her sheets)

Alright, before I pass out, here’s the plan: In five days, we have to be in position to move on the Nightsister’s stronghold so that we and the Dathomiri army catch them in a pincer attack. To do that… well, that’s where Yevra finally comes in. During each day, we’ll fly as low as possible, following a somewhat erratic north-northeast pattern to try and mimic indigenous wildlife— hopefully, that will keep the Nightsisters from noticing our movements. Each day, we’ll take breaks so that Yevra, using her crown, can try and pinpoint the general direction of Master Darach. After a few days of that, his location should be easier to find, and we’ll have an idea about where we need to position ourselves for the battle ahead. Q’aleane, Irsin, and I are taking shifts piloting the ship… and I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve flown a starship. I had almost forgotten how tense it can be – especially this kind of flying – and how exhilarating it can be. In the end I had a lot of fun taking us just above the jungle canopy… but gods am I tired now…

I don’t even remember the last time I went to bed this early. But if I make it through the night, all the better. I need to be my best now for all of them…

(She sighs heavily)

Goodnight, Q’ayla…

{Holocron…StopRecording.act}
{Holocron…SaveRecording"02:02:123ABY;19:55".act}


The Second Night…

I am standing in a clearing filled with chaos. There are bodies strewn about the ground, contorted and still in the grass. A fetid stench burns my nostrils, burns into my brain. Every breath I take is maddening, amplified again and again by the screaming.

Screams of battle… war-cries and oaths…

Screams of death… pleading and calling out for loved ones in the darkness…

I see my allies fighting beside me. Q’aleane is the eye of the storm— manipulating the chaos, protecting us from the winds of battle. Irsin is a vornskr, hungry and turned loose— his blades carving and his face filled with a fierce determination. Spreading out, we engage new foes, women with elaborate tattooing and eyes consumed by an eerie green light.

At once, our weapons meet. There is no emotion behind the eyes of my enemy, but I am filled with passion and intent. We dance our dance, twirling and lunging; it is beautiful and terrifying in the same instant. But soon our song is done, and I strike the killing blow. As the young woman tumbles to the ground, her gaze remains fixed on me. For one second, there is pure rage in those eyes, and then suddenly there is terror and panic.

I do not move. I stand. I stare.

She does not move. She lies, twisted. She stares.

I feel a sharp pain in my back— no, in my stomach.

No. Everywhere.

I look down to see the blade slide effortlessly out into the air in front of me. A shower of my lifeblood sprays onto the still-staring face of my enemy. She does not flinch.

I flinch. I groan. I drop my weapons. I sink to me knees. I scream out as the blade forces itself back through me, giving me permission to face the ground. Giving me permission to die.

I hear my loved ones call out.

I plead— “Oh gods… Ashla… Bogan…”

I call out in the darkness— “Q’aleane! Irsin!”

Each breath I take is madness, amplified by my screams. The fetid stench of death is in my body and my brain.

I can see the blades of grass caressing me, but I do not feel caressed. In my mind, I hear a voice, but it is not comforting…

“You are not strong enough to defeat them.”

There is only darkness now. Darkness and silence.

And I wake up.


The Third Night…

At once, our weapons meet. There is no emotion behind the eyes of my enemy, but I am filled with passion and intent. We dance our dance, twirling and lunging; it is beautiful and terrifying in the same instant. But soon our song is done, and I strike the killing blow. As the young woman tumbles to the ground, her gaze remains fixed on me. For one second, there is pure rage in those eyes, and then suddenly there is terror and panic.

I do not move. I stand. I stare.

She does not move. She lies, twisted. She stares.

Something in my mind screams and I whirl around, bringing my sabers to bear against a blade thrusting in at me. The face behind the blade is blank as well, her eyes still glowing in the chaos. She cuts in, and the dance continues unabated. The tempo is different now, but we adjust, and adjust again. When our song is done this time, there is no gaze for me to meet, her head simply tumbles to the ground, striking dirt just before her body does.

I look about, ready for the next assault. Then I cannot breathe. It is a simple thing, like turning on a switch. One moment, I am alive, I am the fight. Then I am dying, impotent in the maelstrom surrounding me.

I drop my weapons. I fall to my knees. I gasp. I sputter. My eyes are wide. My mouth is wider. My hands are frantic and panicked. I can hear my heart in my ears. It thumps wildly. I cannot hear my loved ones calling out to me.

My heartbeat is fainter now. Fainter still. I sink to the ground. My hands are weaker now. The sound of my heart is interrupted by a loud crack. My tongue lolls. I feel myself hit the ground, but am not aware of it.

There is no smell. I cannot plead or scream. I cannot see. I can only hear the voice inside.

“You are weak, girl.”

—Something in my mind screams and I whirl around, bringing my sabers to bear against a blade thrusting in at me. The face behind the blade is blank as well, her eyes still glowing in the chaos. She cuts in, and the dance continues unabated. The tempo is different now, but we adjust, and adjust again. When our song is done this time, there is no gaze for me to meet, her head simply tumbles to the ground, striking dirt just before her body does.

I look about, ready for the next assault. Again my mind screams; instinctively, I extend my left arm, and my saber flies out away from me. A few seconds later, I turn my head to see it impale another woman, standing off in the trees. Her hand is outstretched, gnarled and vicious, but her eyes are wide now. As I recall my weapon, her body disappears into the tall grass at the edge of the clearing, the light gone out of her surprised eyes.

I see a warrior barreling towards Q’aleane. With both weapons raised I charge in, putting myself between my sister and her would-be attacker. She does not turn around. She does not have to. I am there for her. I beat back this woman, attacking on all cylinders, pushing with everything I have.

She realizes her mistake. She crumbles before me. In the end there are only pieces left.

I turn to see Irsin far from me. He is fending off multiple assailants. He is fighting and winning, and then suddenly he is losing.

I stare at him. I watch my lover succumb. There are six now.

He is still fighting.

He is dying.

I reach out towards him. I call out to him, my loved one. My scream is cut short.

Suddenly my vision is twisting, turning, tumbling. It shakes against… the ground?

I do not feel anything. I cannot move. My eyes grow wide the moment I see my body tumbling to the ground next to me. This is only seconds. Then I am gone. It is still long enough to hear the voice…

“You are weak. You are pathetic, Jedi.”

—She realizes her mistake. She crumbles before me. In the end there are only pieces left.

I turn to see Irsin far from me. He is fending off multiple assailants. He is fighting and winning, and then suddenly he is losing.

I want to help him, to call out to him. I take two steps before my mind fires and I duck, turning around in a tumble as a blade whirls through the air above me. Now facing my enemy, I reach out with the Force and send her hurtling into the treeline. Over the screams, I hear a wet crunch, and I know her light has died out in the jungle.

I turn back to Irsin. There is no more Irsin. I see him sink to the ground under a mob of foes.

I turn back to Q’aleane. There is no more Q’aleane. I see her hand reaching out to me before limply falling to the dirt.

I am alone. I am surrounded. I am alone.

I am war-cries and chaos. I am fetid death. I am screaming mad.

But I am surrounded.

I am surrounded. I am killed. And, as the voice reminds me…

I am weak. I am pathetic. I am not strong enough to defeat them.

And I wake up.


{Holocron…GetDateTime=05:02:123ABY;21:50}
{Holocron…AccessQRAvatar=F}
{Holocron…AccessJournal=T}
{Holocron…BeginNewRecording.act}

(Q’ayla is sitting at her desk, wrapped in a bath towel. She dries her hair with another towel, and seems to be taking her time in doing so. After several minutes, she discards the hair towel and, opening a drawer in her desk, produces a brush. She places the brush on the desk, runs her hands through her hair a few times, then brings the hair over her left shoulder. She takes the brush and begins, slowly and carefully, to draw it through her hair.)

Tomorrow’s the big day.

Heh. I remember the last time it was the night before a big operation. Back on Ansion. Nazay had just gotten back from Cuipernam, all of our plans were settled, and we needed only to wait until the next day to begin our mission. My team, Nazay’s team, and Kiruu’s team all stayed up well into the night talking, laughing, telling stories— you know, that kind of stuff. Eventually, though, the rest went to their beds and it was just me, Nazay, and Kiruu sitting around the fire. By then, we weren’t really talking anymore. Just sitting there, at times looking at the fire, at the stars, at each other. But we didn’t really talk at that point. It was so different from the night of the banquet. And even though what we were about to do was risky— no, dangerous, that night under the stars, I felt so at peace. Surrounded by my new friends, in awe of the trust we had already placed in each other, dwarfed by a night sky filled with the light of stars and moons…

…I felt at peace.

(She raises the brush up and begins drawing it down again and again, tenderly guiding it through her hair)

I don’t feel that way tonight. Not exactly, at least. Which isn’t to say that our mission has gone badly— on the contrary, things have gone really, really well so far. We’ve nailed down the general area of the Nightsister base. Beyond the eastern border of Dathomiri territory lies a great mountain range, and in the jungles on the other side of those mountains is where we believe Zethira’s clan… and Master Darach… await. Yevra has done as well as we could have expected, and hopefully there aren’t any lingering effects of her using that crown over and over again. Q’aleane, Irsin, and I have done great with getting the ship where it needs to go— in fact, I did really well today! Q’aleane thinks I may have saved us a few hours even! For someone who doesn’t fly starships on a regular basis, I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself! All in all, there isn’t much to complain about on that end of things…

No, that’s not why I’m feeling this way tonight. This feeling is personal. The past two nights have been… hard. I couldn’t bring myself to recount the nightmares I had in my journal, which is why I haven’t recorded anything since we left the Praxeum. But I’ve have been thinking a lot the past few days, about a lot of different things. I’ve been thinking about everything that’s happened since we arrived on Dathomir. About Q’aleane, about Irsin… about Vergere’s quest, about the Jedi Order. Too many things to think about, if I’m being honest. So no, I’m not feeling at peace tonight. Rather, I’d call this feeling…

acceptance.

It comes from two things: first, these nightmares I’ve been having, and second, my interaction with Bogan. The nightmares appear to be at least partly prophetic in nature, and lately they’ve begun to focus in on what happened between me and Bogan in the spirit world. It’s as though they’re aware that the moment of action is coming fast. They’re reminding me of the bargain I made, and what that bargain will do for me and those I care about— and what that bargain will ask of me in return.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Q’aleane and Irsin about these nightmares and what they might mean, as well as our time in the spirit world. They’ve given me a lot to think about, but I don’t think they truly understand the magnitude of what transpired in that place. Irsin I can understand, because I don’t know exactly how spiritual he is. I know he speaks of immortal gods and the Fanged God, but we haven’t exactly talked theology all that much. So I could understand if he didn’t grasp it fully… but Q’aleane…

(As the brush reaches the end of her hair, Q’ayla sighs and pauses a moment before continuing to brush)

Q’aleane should know. Obviously she doesn’t believe in our Miraluka ways anymore, but she should still remember them. I mean, I’m not supposed to believe them anymore either, but that was one thing I wouldn’t give up for the Jedi. My beliefs have always been guiding principles for me, and I couldn’t let go of them just because the masters said they were wrong. They’re not wrong for me. So yeah, Q’aleane should at least remember them. And she should understand why this is so important to me. I stood before one of my gods, and I asked him how I could make sure that we all got away from Dathomir intact. This, this bargain, this power hidden inside me, is the answer to that question. I cannot ignore it, I will not ignore it— I’ve seen in my dreaming eyes what will happen if I ignore what Bogan has offered to draw out of me… I’ll be alone. Truly alone. Dead mentally and then physically…

Do I like the idea of giving up… I don’t know how much of myself… to see this bargain through to the end?

No… I don’t like it. But that’s not the point. Sacrifices have to be made so that all of us can get off this planet safely. And I’m willing to give of myself for that. Always. Q’aleane is my sister, and I love her in ways I can’t even begin to describe. And Irsin—

…Irsin…

(A warm smile spreads on Q’ayla’s lips as she says the name)

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Irsin. I might not have said that a few months ago, but things have changed in such surprising and amazing ways so that now…

…I love him so, so much. And I know he loves me too. He loves Q’ayla— this Q’ayla.

I’m perfectly fine with the idea of sacrificing myself – this Q’ayla – if it means my loved ones will be safe in the end. But that acceptance isn’t without a measure of regret. In my own way, I’ll be taking something away from Irsin: Me. Hell, I don’t even know if Irsin will still love me after all this is said and done, because I don’t know who I will be after it’s all over. And knowing that this Q’ayla is so precious to him, my heart aches to know I’ll be hurting him so.

That’s why… I have to cherish what little time I have left with him.

(With her hair now shining and smooth, Q’ayla sets the brush down on her desk and stands, walking away towards the refresher. After several moments, she starts to walk out again, her Ansionian dress and veil in hand, but she stops herself at the mirror, turning her head to look at herself intently)

…Hmm, let’s see… Yeah, that’s it. Normally, I would never think to use this little trick. In fact, I still chastise Q’aleane for using it all the time. We’re Miraluka, and there’s nothing wrong with how we look. But for tonight… just for tonight… I think it can be okay. For him, it can be okay…

(Turning away from the mirror, she continues on back into the room, removing her towel as she does. She dons the dress and veil, but again she seems to be taking her time, careful to not disrupt her hair, painstakingly adjusting her clothing into place. It seems to be at once difficult and incredibly important to her)

Of course, I won’t talk about all of this with Irsin tonight. We’ve already had that conversation many times, and I don’t think there’s anything left to be said. I accept what these next days will bring, and hopefully he can forgive me and love me when it’s all over. No, tonight, I just want it to be about us. I’m—

I’m…

I’m going to do something that I never thought I’d do in my entire life. I’m terrified, insecure, and inexperienced in so many ways when it comes to this. But I’m also not totally ignorant. I know what this will mean for him… for us. And, before I’m completely changed, I want this. I want him. If I’m willing to give myself away so that we can all be saved, there’s no reason I can’t give myself to Irsin first. He deserves that much— he deserves more than that, but that’s all I can give. I don’t have alluring outfits or fancy cosmetics or anything like that. This— what I’m wearing right now, is the fanciest thing I own. I’ve done what I can with this—

(With a hand she indicates herself)

—hopefully he’ll be happy. I just want to see him smile, laugh, and let go of all the hurt he has.

Tonight will just be about us.

Tomorrow we can reclaim our burdens and take them with us into the jungle, hopefully for the last time.

(Walking to the mirror again, Q’ayla gives herself a final once-over. Then she takes several deep breaths before walking to her door, deactivating her holocron as she leaves.)

{Holocron…StopRecording.act}
{Holocron…SaveRecording"05:02:123ABY;22:55".act}

View
Session 21 - Q'aelane's Journal

Q’aleane sits in here often seen meditative pose on the bridge. Outwardly she appears to be the picture of peace. Inside it is another story.

She stands over a placid lake, pacing. In the distance is what can only be compared to a cantina game target. Except larger and much further away. As she paces she periodically throws something at it with high speed. The end result is usually the disillusion of the board into pieces and its immediately re-creation. Her thoughts seem to be causing a small amount of rippling on the surface of the lake.

Bored now. (thunk, distant crash)

I know my sister wants me to keep out of trouble but I haven’t pushed myself in a week. (thunk, distant crash)

No, longer than a week now. (miss)

Her miss seems to pull her up short for a moment… she stares off into the distance.

Oh… tricky, I see what you did there… moved it closer but made it smaller. Nice… (thunk, distant crash)

She quiets for a bit as she plays against the part of her mind she carved out to challenge herself. (thunk, crash, thunk, crash, thunk, crash…). Ultimately she gets up to four targets randomly spawning around herself before she gets bored with the game and lays down. At this point the lake under her is decidedly unstill. Not broiling in agitation, more like a lake where a thousand pebbles were randomly dropped around and the ripples keep playing off each other.

For a moment the part of her brain creating targets doesn’t catch up and creates a couple in the sky above her, but she waves them aside and re-incorporates those thought processes. For a while she just clears her mind as she stares off into a sky filled with stars that don’t seem to match the sky of Dathomir. For a short while she tries to work out which sky she is looking at but eventually she just shrugs and chalks it up to her imagination.

Her mind and by extension the lake below her finally calms and she sits for a while just staring.

Eventually a fragment of a thought flies by, something about pulling apart force energy to see if it is additive to the base or subtractive. This gets her half absently thinking about experiments she could do until she realizes what the is thinking about and starts pacing again trying to keep her mind on some other subjects.

How do people do this? Others don’t seem to have a problem keeping their hands out of the universe’s cookie jar. Back when I was at the academy, there was always something to think about, meditate on, contemplate, understand. I was never bored. Even when others were going stir crazy because they were assigned a task to learn how to meditate or think on nothing, that was something to ponder or contemplate to me. A challenge.

The thought of contemplating thinking about nothing makes her pause. Not for the first time. She ponders for a while and then dismisses it to the corners of her mind again.

But this, this is just banal waiting. Is this what I am getting myself into by leaving the order?

Almost absently she divides off a part of her subconscious to create random puzzles. She then proceeds to interact with the virtual puzzles solving them.

(Q’aleane sighs) I love my sister, I really do but she can’t expect me to just stop trying to understand things. It’s just not who I am.

Two puzzles at a time.

I will have to talk to her about it but, not now. She is under enough stress.

Four puzzles at a time.

She is not coping well with the stress, I am not sure she realizes she has a choice anymore.

The puzzles stop being 3 dimensional.

I have to wonder what Irsin is thinking seeing this in her. But then again I don’t know that he is all that stress free right now. Coming face to face with him has certainly put us all off balance a bit.

The puzzles keep ratcheting in complexity, increasing in dimensions and eventually she spends all her time and effort solving them.

For a time she seems almost happy… but then she starts to notice the pattern her mind is using to generate them and they become boring again.

She waves them aside and sits down.

Maybe I will focus on what next. After all we are not going to be stuck on Dathomir for long. How am I going to engineer it so we can pursue our quest without stepping all over the Jedi order and becoming enough of a nuisance that they feel the need to deal with us.

After a while of contemplation she stands up and starts pacing while thinking about it. In the corner of her mind she starts creating cantina targets again. (thunk, crash, thunk, crash, thunk, crash, crash) Her thoughts wander again to the nature of the force.

Bored now (thunk, distant crash)

View
Session 21
The Best Laid Plans

1:2:123 ABY

Wrangling; debate; argument; diplomacy; discussion; decision; these things are past and done. Plans are laid. Orders will soon be given. Then, all that will remain is action; conflict; battle; war. Is all in readiness? Has everything been prepared? Time runs short….

View
Session 20 - Irsin & Q'ayla Interlude

(In the hallway outside of Irsin and Yevra’s makeshift quarters, Q’ayla quietly paces. Every once and a while, she pauses at the door, considering something, then shakes her head and keeps walking. After about ten minutes of this, she approaches the door, takes a deep breath, and knocks)

Q’ayla:
Irsin, are you in there? Can I come in?

(Irsin sits on the pallet reading a report of some kind. He seems surprised to hear Q’ayla outside the door, and then seems surprised that he was surprised. He hadn’t realized he’d been ignoring the bond with her during the day)

Irsin:
Q’ayla? Of course, please come in.

(The door opens and she walks in somewhat hurriedly, then stands just inside the room awkwardly)

Q’ayla:
Do you have a minute? We need to talk.

Oh wait—

That sounded bad, didn’t it? That’s what people always say when… well never mind that, then. But still, we need to talk. I feel like things went unsaid this morning. I don’t like feeling the way I did today, keeping this distance from you.

(She advances a couple of steps)

What’s wrong, Irsin? What happened?

(Irsin seems to think for a moment before setting aside his datapad. He looks down, seeming to have difficulty meeting her eyes)

Irsin:
I…it was a nightmare— I know it isn’t real…

(He says this in a rush as if trying to stave off interruption)

…but I couldn’t just shake it off like I usually do. It hit a nerve, one which seems all too common in my past. And it involved you, which leaves me without someone to talk to about it, something I’ve quickly come to rely on again.

…Anyways, I’ll get over it – eventually. I’m just having some trouble with it is all. I’m sorry.

(Q’ayla listens intently, taking a few more steps closer to him before he says he doesn’t have anyone to talk to about his nightmare; at that, she stops in her tracks and tilts her head slightly. After he finishes, she speaks up)

Q’ayla:
…Why can’t you talk with me about it?
I was in your last nightmare too, remember? But it was talking about it that helped get you through it. What’s different this time? Have I done something— said something to upset you?

(She seems to want to come closer, but she holds herself back. Irsin sighs)

Irsin:
It was different. Before, I harmed you… I’m used to having dark thoughts about my own actions, or actions I could take. This time…

(He trails off, seeming to have difficulty continuing)

This time you hurt me…

(She gasps audibly)

Q’ayla:
Ashla, no…

Irsin, I would never hurt you. You’ve got to believe me. I don’t care what you saw in your nightmare, no matter what happened.

Why… why would I hurt you?

(It’s clear she’s deeply troubled by what he’s said)

Irsin:
I don’t know… even now it doesn’t make sense. And yet it claws at my worst fears, digs at my paranoia and my past.

(His voice lowers almost as though he’s talking to himself. She realizes he’s reliving the memory and just happens to be vocalizing it, and perhaps he’s done this several, perhaps many times since last night)

You wanted power, thought I was weak. Grale offered you a way… and you took it, and perhaps you should… And like a true Sith, you waited until the opportune moment to reveal it all to me, until my guard was down… my hand raised in victory, before you slipped the knife between my ribs. I should have known… and yet somehow I never expected… never fathomed… thought we had done something true, something worthy… but it had all been a lie…

(He falls silent continuing to mutter, but she can no longer hear him)

Q’ayla:
So… I betrayed you. The worst possible sin…

(She turns away from him, not able to cross the remaining distance to him)

…Do you really think it will come to that, Irsin? I’m—

I don’t know what to do, love. I’m frightened.

(She holds herself. He seems to startle at her voice, and then slowly realizes what he said aloud. He gets halfway to her before he stops himself, seeming torn between wanting to comfort her and not knowing if he should be the one to do so)

Irsin:
I don’t think it will come to that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. Afraid of how deep and how fast we have become connected. How in some ways it almost seems too good to be true. My own experience tells me it must be, and keeps looking for reasons why it is. I… could never truly believe you would betray me…

I couldn’t. But I’m afraid of it. I don’t even know if that makes any sense, but it is nonetheless the truth.

(He falls silent again… not sure what else to say. When he says he’s afraid, he’ll see a perceptible nod from her)

Q’ayla:
I’m afraid too.

I’m terrified that these nightmares we’re having are prophetic. The Jedi say that the future is always in motion, and that we must not rely on prophetic visions to guide our actions. But then… the Jedi have said a lot of things, haven’t they?

It seems like we, and what’s happening to us, are like puzzle pieces waiting to be played. I don’t even know who I’m going to be when this is all over. We’re inching ever closer to the fight of our lives against the Nightsisters and…

What’s going to happen in that battle, Irsin? What strength and power is going to be unleashed from me as a result of the bargain I made with Bogan? And who will I be after that? You say that in your nightmare, I wanted power. That’s not entirely false…

Just like how we found Q’aleane and that rancor after I dreamed about them.

I… I don’t want to be a Sith. And I would never accept anything offered to me by Grale. But what about six months from now? If we’re even alive six months from now—

I don’t feel like I have control anymore. Being a Jedi… that’s what I’ve always had for focus and control. But now that’s going to go away. And the Force will catch me up and drag me away to the stars. And I’m frightened by that.

I frighten myself sometimes.

(He seems to be unable to hold himself back any longer and closes the gap remaining between them, folding her into an embrace)

Irsin:
I’m sorry…

I didn’t want to burden you with this. It’s not you, it’s my own fears and irrational paranoia. This is one reason why I didn’t come to you sooner— You doubt yourself enough already without my adding to it. I will get through this, and by the Immortal Gods if I die for it, then so be it. Life has had color again for the first time in years for me, and I won’t let that go. Not even to save myself. Whether we stand on our own, or are dragged to the stars, at least we’ll do it without losing that.

(She allows herself to fall back into him, and as he finishes, her shoulders start to shake as she starts to break down)

Q’ayla:
I’m… just so scared, Irsin. What’s going to happen to us? I’ve changed so much, so fast. My skin gets pale, and I have to try so hard to keep that from happening. And Q’aleane keeps mentioning something about my eyes too, though I haven’t remembered to look at them… I’m changing— visibly changing.

And that’s just the outside.

…What will happen to me out there, in the jungle, tomorrow or the next day, or the next day? It’s coming…

It’s coming and it’s necessary! Because I have to save us from this nightmare we’ve been living inside. This place is death, and I have to get us out. Even if it means losing more and more of myself in the process…

Gods… I’ve even started thinking that maybe, once this is all over…

…Maybe I should give myself over to the Jedi. It may be safer…

(She sobs)

Especially hearing about your nightmare… Gods, Irsin! I would die if I ever betrayed you…

(She reaches up, removing her visor and tossing it away onto the nearby cot; as the tears really start to flow, she turns and buries her face into Irsin’s chest. He simply holds her for a long time, waiting for her to cry herself out as much as she needs to. He stands and waits until it slows, and then in a low voice:)

Irsin:
It isn’t up to just you Q’ayla. We’re all in this together— all of us. You don’t deserve recrimination for living through a nightmare, any more than I do for having them. And you certainly don’t deserve recrimination for the problems you have faced. The Jedi have no idea how to handle these things. It’s why you were unprepared in the first place. All I know is that this isn’t about one of us or any of us. It’s about all of us, and how we make our way from here.

I promise you I will never believe something like this of you, if you promise to never believe it of yourself. That’s all I ask.

(As he speaks, she continues to come down from the hard crying, still sobbing and gasping a little bit at a time)

Q’ayla:
I…

I don’t know that I can promise that, Irsin.

I want to. Believe me, I do. But there’s a part of me that’s watching the pieces fall into place. I’m not sure that I believe that the future is in motion anymore. I feel like I keep seeing it in my dreaming eyes.

I’ve been uneasy about Yevra and the crown that Barukka created— with our help. I don’t want her connected to Master Darach while he’s… whatever he is right now. And in my nightmares… I keep having to kill her. This most recent time, she had struck you down with her saber but…

We had been hunting you. I don’t know why. I can’t remember, or even if there was something to remember. All I know is that when it happened, I snapped.

And I killed her. But not just that.

I was like an animal. And I killed her like an animal.

But always in these nightmares there’s that green glow of power. And that’s real.

I want to believe what you’re telling me. I just don’t think I can.

(Her skin is obviously pale, and when she looks up at Irsin with tears still swelling in eyes filled with the dark side, it’s unmistakable— this feeling of helpless and loss in her voice and her heart. He grips her by the shoulders, almost shaking her and he speaks)

Irsin:
Q’ayla you have to listen to me: You can’t let that feeling of helplessness win. That is how the dark side gets you, by making you feel like it’s the only way left to you… by manipulating you until you feel like you have nothing left but to accept what you think is your fate.

Believe me. I know.

But you have to understand, it isn’t that way at all. Anyone can find redemption. Anyone. At any time. All it takes is a reason. Something worth fighting for. Something worth standing up for.

For me you were that reason, continue to be that reason. The reason I keep coming back and hoping that I can find my way to being a better person, a better man. So I can show you it is possible, and so I can show you I am what you have always believed me to be without cause.

But I can’t do that if you’re letting yourself go. I need you to believe you have hope, that the future isn’t fixed, and that these blasted nightmares we’re both having are just that and nothing more. Products of our fear and this damned planet feeding off them. You have to believe, I can’t do that part for you. But I’m waiting here, with my hand out…

…Waiting for you to take it.

(She keeps looking into his eyes, and she smiles at his words, but it is somehow both a happy and a sad smile at the same time)

Q’ayla:
“By making you feel like it’s the only way left to you…”

(She says more to herself, just repeating Irsin’s own words)

Isn’t it, though? Isn’t this the only way now? I remember what he told me…

“You have begun to see the true face of what you oppose. You have started to understand the force arrayed against you. Your sister will not be able to talk your enemies away. And you are not strong enough to defeat them.”

I am not strong enough to defeat them.

But I will be. And there’s only one path to that.

(She raises a hand up and gently caresses the side of his face)

You are…

…so wonderful. You are everything I know you are.

(She laughs quietly to herself)

Maybe that’s what I’ve been able to give you. Maybe I’m taking all the hurt and the pain and the struggle that you’ve had to live with, and I’m taking on that burden from you.

(She smirks a little, but her voice is filled with resignation)

Maybe Bogan has a sense of humor…

(He recoils from her at this)

Irsin:
No.

I won’t let you do that. Not even if you could. No one should live through what I have. Least of all you. I won’t have my past being visited upon you.

I won’t, Q’ayla.

I don’t ask you for much. But I’m asking you now. I ask you to try and believe that this is not an ending but a beginning. That no matter what deals we have struck to survive this ordeal, we will make it to the other side and be stronger for it. Stronger and ready to build a new life and a new path together. We can’t do that if you give up. I can’t’ do that… if you give up.

(She leans in a gently kisses his cheek)

Q’ayla:
Don’t worry about that, Irsin. I’ve still got a lot to do here before all this is over. I can’t give up.

But I’ll try. I’ll try and do what you ask of me. I don’t see the light yet. Dathomir isn’t the end of my troubles.

(She wipes away some tears and takes a deep breath, trying to better compose herself)

Can you tell me something? Is there something wrong with my eyes? I know they don’t “work,” but that’s not what I mean. Q’aleane keeps saying there’s something “off” about them. Please, tell me.

(Irsin seems to be brought up short with the question and he seems to hesitate before answering)

Irsin:
Q’ayla, understand that it means nothing except that you war with a power greater than yourself. It is not proof of anything, except what we already knew: that you, like me I might add, are on a path of recovery from your life, and the damage this place has done to you.

Your eyes are… clouded with the yellow tinge that marks a dark side user. I too have it when I channel dark side energies. It happens to all of us sooner or later when we use the dark side. But it means nothing on its own, and some people demonstrate it simply when they have brushed the surface as you have. Others take years. It will be ok, I promise.

(She reaches a hand up and touches around her eyes, as though feeling for some indication of the change. In that moment, she doesn’t appear to be staring at anything, and anyone looking at her might mistake her for someone actually blind. For several moments she just stands there, touching at her face in vain)

Q’ayla:
Oh.

(She looks down at her arm, noticing the “paleness” of it in the Force)

My skin is pale too, isn’t it?
This is the first time with the eyes, though.
And I didn’t even do anything today.
Except talk.
And have a nightmare.
…Could that have done this?

(Her voice is empty; she sounds a great deal like her sister, methodically going through available data. Irsin looks tentative)

Irsin:
Honestly if I had to guess, it probably happened at the same time as when your skin started doing what it does. When you made your bargain. But since you wear a visor it just hasn’t been apparent before now. I assure you, it really does mean nothing.

(He tries to pull her into a hug. She doesn’t resist him, and so allows herself to be embraced. She keeps going on, though)

Q’ayla:
Have I really not gone without my visor since then…?
So does this only happen when I’m upset, like with the skin?
I’m trying to think about when Q’aleane mentioned it to me…
Most recently today, but I was pretty upset about the nightmare…
And she said something a couple of days ago, but that feels like ages with all that’s been going on…

“Marks a dark side user…”
Is that what I am now?
I came here a Jedi— a guardian of peace and justice, and now I’m a Dark Side User…
Is it really so simple?
I mean, I did kill someone in cold blood.
And I did make a deal with Bogan
That isn’t nothing, Q’ayla…

(She sounds tired; methodical, emotionless, and tired)

Another puzzle piece drops into place…

Irsin:
No. It’s not that simple. Not even close. All it means is what you already know. You made a deal with the Fanged God. It came with a price. But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. You are no worse of a person than I, and together we can dig out of this.

…Please, Q’ayla. Don’t make me beg for you to stop falling in despair…

(He seems to be losing his composure… her being this upset clearly rattles him. She presses her forehead into his chest, and brings her arms up under his, gripping his shoulders)

Q’ayla:
It’s just too much, you know…?
I like to think I was well prepared to deal with the wider galaxy as a Jedi Knight. I’m not. I’m going to be twenty-six this year, and right now I feel like a kid. In over my head— Despite the fact that we just did something extraordinary the past couple of days.

We united these people. Or, at least, helped. When I’m out there, doing, being a Jedi, I guess I don’t think about it all so much. But I’m only pretending really. You know that now. And Q’aleane knows it…

I’m trying, Irsin. I’m really trying. But each day here, and each morning waking in a scream… it’s taking its toll on me. Hold me.

Please, just hold me.

(He obliges her)

Irsin:
I know it’s hard. I feel lost lately too – in many ways. But I have to believe it will get better. I just want you to see that too.

(She nods into his chest somewhat forcefully)

Q’ayla:
I know.
I’m sorry.
I came in here to find out what was wrong with you, and then all we’ve done is talk about me. I hate to keep being so selfish like that. I know that things have been so hard for both of us lately…

(She indicates towards the cot with her head)

Here… Can we go lie down for a while?

I’ll hold you, and you can tell me about everything that’s on your mind.

Then you can hold me and tell me about how things are going to be when we get off this rock.

Sound good?

(He smiles for the first time in the conversation)

Irsin:
That sounds… wonderful.

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