Knights of the New Republic

Session 21 - Q'ayla Ren's Journal

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(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…

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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.


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(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.)

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Darkside989

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