From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
She was alive. All this time… she’s been alive.
And then, before I can even take in the fact that she still lives….I watch as her life is snuffed out. Before my very eyes. And there, twisting the knife of betrayal once again in my life, like an old friend I thought lost in my past, the face of her murderer is revealed. Vorman Grale. A Master of the Sith Order. My Master, who less than 24 hours ago had elevated me from apprentice to the order’s newest Saber.
Once more, another master has turned on me.
The last master to do that to me didn’t last very long. This one would be no different. I would make sure of it. I would make sure of it….I. Would. Make. Sure -
Fighting to prevent my rage from ruling me, I instead repeated the Sith Code I have founded my entire adult life upon:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.
It did not contain my anger. Quite the contrary I learned a long time ago that such things were for the weak. You preyed or were preyed upon. This was but the latest reminder of that lesson in my life.
One among many.
Instead it allowed me to focus the rage. Bring it to razor clarity. Rather that a red well of burning hate, it became a focused beam. It left room for thought. For consideration. For planning. This is what allowed me to overcome my fellow Sith Apprentices. The ability to use anger and rage as tools, but not allow them to rule me. Passion was not a mindless weapon to be aimed and released. It was a keen edge, finely honed and carefully crafted. One which I would now wield with care and precision.
I took a deep breath and turned off the vid with the frozen image of my former master’s face upon it. There would be a reckoning. It was now simply a matter of time. With that thought I banked the coals of my fury down for the longer burn I knew it would require, dressed, bringing my weapons with me and went out to begin searching for him.
I started with his quarters, which were all but abandoned. I knew Vorman was hardly a man who kept many material possessions, but the place was practically scrubbed clean. No sign of anything useful. Checking his computer yielded nothing either, no record of travel and no information of use. If he had left planet, he probably hadn’t used his home console to organize the travel permits.
I then circled around his usual haunts, giving nothing away as to the reason I sought him. I had been his apprentice but the day before, and there was no reason to arouse suspicion. Finally I determined he was last seen heading for the space port. After some investigation there it seems he had in fact left planet, early that morning. The official destination on his flight plan had him headed for Coruscant itself….Now why on earth would he be headed for the heart of Alliance Territory less than 12 hours after his responsibilities as a master had been completed? What assignment could he be on that was so urgent? Surely he could not know that I was aware of his treachery….could he? Who had left me that data chip so conveniently timed?
With doubts and questions circling through my head I went before the council for my audience whereby I would get my first assignment as a full saber of the council. With any luck – they’d give me a ship I could use to pursue Vorman, and exact my vengeance. Perhaps I might even solicit some information about him while I had their attention.
A few hours later as I knelt before the council, I was given congratulations on my elevation and told my first mission. I would head to the Unknown Regions and negotiate with some slavers to secure their loyalty to the Sith. If an opportunity arose there was a secondary priority to attempt to barter and trade for any force sensitive slaves they might have as well.
I thanked them for the assignment, and asked permission to ask them a question. Once permitted I ordered the words carefully in my mind and asked if they knew why my master had left the planet so suddenly and for what purpose.
The council member who answered showed extreme distaste for the subject, though because of my impertinence for asking or because the fact of my master’s sudden absence itself was a sore subject I could not tell for sure. But he said, firmly, that Vorman’s situation was none of my concern.
I debated asking for more information, but decided it was the better part of valor to move on now. And see what could be found out on my own. I bowed my acceptance of the mission, stood, turned and walked from the council chambers.
As I left Kesh in the small one-man fighter I had been given, I turned over my shoulder before entering hyperspace, taking a last look at the place I had come to call home. I knew my actions would at best strain my position within the Sith Heirarchy and at worst cause them to hunt me down and kill me for my insubordination. My only hope really was to succeed. To hunt Vorman down and kill him, make an example of his death and treachery, and prove that I had been right in the Sith way, by proving I was stronger.
I’d need a way to stay hidden. To follow him without being noticed or questioned by the authorities or the Jedi. A memory struck me then. One I had not thought of in a long time…
My old Imperial Knight Master…a man I had killed…believing him my parents’ murderer. It was the event that sealed my joining to the Sith, and what ultimately brought me to Kesh. I tried to ignore the implications of what I had recently discovered in relation to that act. You killed an innocent man. I shoved the thought away. Hard.
In the memory he stood before me healthy and alive, speaking to me in somber tones. I was looking up at him as though he were taller than me. I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old. He was talking to me, about my father, and what he did for a living. He’d been a bounty hunter. He’d worked for one of the Hutts. My father handed me a key then. He said it went to a locker where my father’s personal effects had been placed in storage for me, should I ever want them or need them.
Back in the present I clutched at the key I wore on a thong around my neck. It had been a symbol to me all these years, a reminder of where I came from. Now it would be more than that. I may have never known my father, but he would be my instrument now. He would give me the means and the methods to stalk my prey, to get close enough before I am discovered.
And kill him.
From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
I’ve been on Coruscant for a little more than a day now. My father’s armor fits me surprisingly well and I have been able to move through the crowds as though I truly was a Bounty Hunter. I look the part, and I’m competent enough with the rougher tools of this trade to be believeable. I just hope no one recognizes my father’s armor. It’s rather distinctive, and with my face hidden they might mistake me for him, and criminals have long memories, and hold long grudges.
I’ve found signs of Vorman’s passing through this area. He hired a bounty hunter in the area for unknown purposes, and then left. I’m chasing down a few more leads before I follow him to the Taris system. Want to make sure I don’t leave any stones unturned.
On another note you’d think major trade hubs would have better security at their refueling depots. Some random thief, not even a competent one since there is security footage of him, took my ship and just…flew away while I was on Ord Mantell. No one challenged him, no one asked if he had identification. He had a forged docking pass that happened to match my ships bay and they just…let him fly away. Figures.
From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
I’ve been on Taris for a few days now. I don’t know how he’s done it here but my Master has been all but a ghost here. I found signs of him near the space port and in a bounty hunter bar and then he just….vanished. No one’s seen him, he’s never left planet as near as I can tell. I wonder if he discovered someone was following him and he went to ground.
I did find out that he hired another bounty hunter however. A Faleen named Xora, known for her….wiles. Faleen are supposed to be almost as effective spies and seductresses as Zeltrons with their pheromones, but they lack the actual emotion control we possess. From what I’ve been able to gather about her she’s in over her head, or so her collegues believe. I’m inclined to agree if the rumors hold true that she’s been sent after a man with a Jedi guard. Any normal bounty hunter knows to stay clear of Jedi.
Fortunately for me I’m not a normal Bounty Hunter.
I’ve followed her trail to this building called The Imperial Tower, it’s really just a giant apartment building. I’ve found out the man Xora is after is in this building, so I might not be able to find her out there, but I figure if I wait for them here, eventually she’ll come to me.
So I sat down, going into a trance against the wall and shielded my presence using the Force, making sure I was out of the line of sight of the security camera overhead. If there were Jedi with this guy I couldn’t take chances they they might spot me skulking around before I choose when to…introduce myself.
From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
Last night was certainly…interesting. Not how I’d expected things to turn out, but I’m not sure I could have planned them better if I’d tried.
A single Jedi Knight with purple hair walked by, scanning the room without letting her eyes actually touch anything. It was the strangest thing, it almost looked like she was making the effort to look around out of some kind of habit, as opposed to necessity. She looked right through me, my invisibility holding, and continued to the elevator presumably to check out the apartments before the Senator came in himself.
A few minutes later, the Senator walked in with Xora on his arm, clearly doing a good job of managing his attentions. What I didn’t expect was the twin sister, which was obvious despite the fact that this one of wore a peculiar visor which shielded her eyes.
Fortunately my shrouded presence remained intact as they walked past. I got a distinct sense that this sister was somewhat more…excitable than the other based on her emotions. She was barely keeping herself in check, though to her credit it didn’t show on her face as much as it should have.
I waited perhaps 5 minutes and then chatted up my new “friend” Sarah at the receptionist counter, and asked which apartment that distinguished gentleman lived in. She told me in her giggly voice, and said she’d be happy to let me up there. I smiled beneath my helmet, and followed my quarry up the elevator.
As I neared the designated floor I had to consider how to approach this. I had already hidden my presence from them once, it was possible if I focused I might be able to remove one from the equation before they knew I was there. That would leave the second sister and Xora to contend with.
The more I thought about it though the more I was sure it was too risky. I didn’t know these Jedi or their training. I didn’t know how good they were, and if there was one thing the Sith taught it was that guile is as important if not more so than sheer power. Perhaps that was the proper tool in this situation. A bit of carefully couched truth would even sneak past any truth sense they might employ. Let them fill in the rest.
I arrived at the proper floor and boldly walked out into view turning towards the direction of the Senator’s apartment. I made no effort to hide my presence, though I devoted some of my attention to try and mask my force sensitivity. No reason to alarm them unnecessarily. There are plenty of mildly force sensitive bounty hunters out there, but Jedi can be jumpy around force users they think wish them harm.
As I got closer and the sister spotted me, she ignited her lightsaber out of reflex. That was…somewhat alarming. I had to suppress an instinct to pull my own out to defend myself, but a quick effort and the urge passed. I had to maintain appearances. I held up my hands to show no weapon or ill intent as I drew near. This was the gesture she apparently needed because she kept her saber in hand, but disengaged the blade. As I came into speaking range the door swooped open and her sister stood there with her odd visor staring at me. She held two sabers at her sides, both not yet ignited, but I once again sensed that jumpiness in her, like she was almost itching for something to hit, even as her face was a mask of stone.
I explained my purpose there, that I was after the woman whom was entertaining the Senator, and that she was a bounty hunter hired to do him harm. I suggested they extract her before anything untoward happened, and perhaps as a kindness they would allow me to question her since I was after her employer. I managed to restrain any of the enjoyment from my voice as they all but jumped to do as I bid. It was almost too easy. Much better this way than a frontal approach. Perhaps these two might even be useful in other matters. I would use whatever I could to get Vorman. Anything.
The sister with the visor ignited one of them and would have kicked the door to the bedroom down if it wasn’t automatic. I heard her level it and mumble something almost inaudible about stepping away from the Senator. The walls were well insulated.
And then…all hell broke loose. I expected Xora to have an exit strategy, but I hardly expected a direct conflict with Jedi. I heard a click and a shout and before I knew what was happening the other sister was dashing down the hallway towards the bedroom. I followed quickly, rounding the corner to see one sister bound with a tangler grenade, and Xora making for the balcony with a data pad she’d presumeably swiped from the Senator. Just outside the window I could make out a speeder waiting for her. She did have an exit strategy, just one a bit more obvious than I’d anticipated.
The sister I’d followed into the room ran up to Xora and narrowly missed a swing with her lightsaber. I pulled out my blaster rifle and brought it to bear, leveling it at her back. A well place shot would disable her but hopefully not kill her. I needed her alive. I aimed and fired, the shot landing home with quick efficiency, but it seemed her seemingly vaporous dress was actually armored fabric which brought a surprised look to my face. The bolt penetrated, but did considerably less damage than I’d expected.
That’s when things got ugly. Apparently these particular Jedi don’t let anyone get away with egregious wrongs like hitting them or their sisters with tangler grenades. The sister who was not entangled closed again and with little or no ceremony simply lopped Xora’s arm off just above the elbow, the one carrying the datapad. Xora screaming in pain and fear, and hardly had time to take more than another step when the other sister finally freed herself from the tangler with her lightsaber and charged xora, nearly cutting her leg off at the knee.
I stared for a moment, which thankfully was not evident through my helmet. I’d never seen nor heard of Jedi being so cold, so vicious in combat. Typically against organics they took great care to avoid injuring people unnecessarily. They hadn’t just disabled her, they had – almost literally – taken her apart. I re-evaluated the two sisters anew. Perhaps they could be more than merely useful tools? Perhaps these two had the cold aptitude to be allies, however temporary, in a common cause?
As I came to my senses I saw a droid outside the window fly away, presumably observing the situation for Vorman and going to report. Thankfully I’d been in the armor, but if he’d had even minor rumors of a bounty hunter following him, he had eye witness proof now of what I looked like. He likely wouldn’t have any idea it was me yet, but it was still a mistake to allow myself to be seen. He’d be more on guard now.
I looked down and saw the first sister without the visor trying to revive Xora. It seemed their assault had been too much for her, and her heart had given out. Silently I watched as she struggled to save the one lead I had one how to find my mother’s (and likely my father’s) killer.
Thankfully Xora finally coughed and the Jedi used some form of force healing to help stabilize her. They decided she should be taken back to the Taris Jedi Academy, where they could give her medical attention in a secure environment. Silently I cursed that turn of events. I’d hoped to question her a long way away from any Jedi Masters, but I was in for a penny as they say, and I couldn’t back off my cover story now. There’s no real reason why a bounty hunter wouldn’t go to an academy if it would allow him to get what he was after, so I agreed and went with them back to the academy.
Once at the academy, Xora was brought to the med bay, and it was made clear she would not be conscious for a few days. I sighed at this, not bothering to hide my frustration. I needed answers, and the longer it waited the longer it would be before I was on my way again to find Vorman. I warred inside my own head at the constant delays that kept me one step behind him, and turned around to find myself looking in the eye of one of the Jedi Masters.
He narrowed his eyes looking at me, apparently inquiring after who I was. I tuned into the conversation, realizing that the angry sister, whose name was apparently Q’ayla Ren was actually defending me, saying that I had acted honorably and done nothing to show any untoward aggression. I silently hoped it would be enough, and trusted my appearance to do my talking for me. I was a bounty hunter, and darkness he saw was not untrue or unreasonable for a man in “my line of work”. That didn’t make me a threat, just not “pure” which was hardly surprising.
He finally broke eye contact and I let out a breath I hadn’t even realized I’d been holding and pulled my hand away form the small hidden holster I’d crafted for my lightsaber. The way he’d looked at me, I’d half expected him to suddenly shout “Death to the SITH!” and strike me down where I stood. I’d also gotten a bit of the measure of the man, and I had very little doubt in my mind that he probably could have done it too, with or without the help of the Ren sisters. I was suddenly and painfully aware of the gap that exists between a Master who has had decades to learn his trade, and a mere Knight or Saber who has had scarcely more than two dozen.
I pulled myself back to the moment and realized that the other sister who’s name was Q’alaene Ren was talking to me, telling me that if I would share my contact information they would be in touch as soon as Xora was conscious so I could ask her my questions. I nodded and handed over the information for the burner number I had created when I arrived on planet. Q’ayla then offered to walk me out of the academy.
On the way she asked me questions. If I hadn’t known better I would have sworn that she was either fascinated with me, or somehow my pheromones had escaped the suit I wore. She asked all sorts of questions about my background, where I came from, whether I had any force training or even knew I was force sensitive. I was guarded but polite with my responses. Careful never to lie, but never to give her the whole story either. I revealed I’d had some force training in Imperial Space, that my name was Roan, a name I’d used since leaving Kesh, and that the man I was after had hurt some people, and I intended to make him pay for it.
During the conversations I also finally put two and two together and compiling the evidence I’d seen I realized that the two sisters must be Miraluka. I’d heard about them, but knew little about them except their blindness and their ability to see through the force, and that they had a slightly different view on the Force than most Jedi were comfortable with. Perhaps I could use that too…but amidst that I also had a sudden pang of fear that this meant they knew my face beneath the helmet. I calmed the impulse instantly, but it was a wrinkle I hadn’t predicted.
Eventually I left the academy, and I breathed an incredible sigh of relief. I walked directly into the heart of the enemy, and walked out unscathed, and by all accounts considered a temporary ally, if not an actual friend by those I entered with. Strange…