I don’t even know where to begi—
< … >
What? No, I think I’m done going over the ship’s displays for the day. I’m getting better, but it still makes me a little queasy! And I’d like to keep down tonight’s dinner, if you don’t mind.
< … >
Actually, I was going to record a new holo-journal entry!
< … >
Fine, if Master Lucien says we need to practice more, who am I to argue? It’s not like I’m a Jedi Knight now or anything!
< … >
< sigh > Sorry, sis – I’ll be right there.
Alright, wait — < sigh > Yep, I think I’m alone now. Well, as alone as I can be anymore, that is. Hopefully Q’aleane won’t listen in while I get this entry recorded…
Anyways, sorry about that last entry, journal. I’d play it back, but I’m sure it just sounds crazy, like I’m arguing with myself. Though in reality I’m afraid it’s much more bizarre than that. Something has changed between me and Q’aleane – and I don’t mean like we had a fight and now aren’t speaking, nothing like that.
No, our Force bond has… deepened.
Master Lucien doesn’t know much about what’s happened, or even why. He says he’s heard of beings with strong bonds in the Force suddenly becoming even more aware of each other, sometimes caused by a shared experience of stress or trauma… Oh, and when I say more aware of each other… < sigh > I’m not sure I can even explain it properly. It really needs to be seen… and heard… and felt… to be believed. But the basic idea is that Q’aleane and I can be inside one another’s consciousness – we can hear, and smell, and feel that which the other can. Initially it was, well, scary and disturbing and nauseating all at once! For the first couple of days, we stayed as far away from each other as we could, to try and lessen the sensitivity of our new awareness – luckily, Master Lucien has been able to teach us a few mental techniques so that now we can at least turn it on and off at will. But we have to choose not to ‘listen’ in, and when it’s on, it’s still all or nothing. I mean, theoretically, we may be able to fine-tune this new… link in the Force with proper meditation and concentration. But right now, I’m just glad to have my head to myself when I so choose… so to speak.
It’s not all bad, though. I’ve always cherished the bond I have with my sister, and I’m sure that with time I’ll come to appreciate and adore this new level of sensitivity I share with her. Not to mention, I’ve already starting thinking that this connection could really assist us with our missions from the Council – we can hear each other’s thoughts, and be that much quicker, that much more effective as a team. Assuming, of course, we don’t throw up in the middle of a fight from over-stimulation! < laughs >
And, I have to say, I’m really glad Master Lucien was with us when all this happened. It’s been a long time since having him around didn’t just mean ‘go into Jedi mode,’ and I’d forgotten just how much he’s like a father to Q’aleane and me. He put up with our frustration, and our fear and confusion, with the patience that got all three of us through many years of Jedi training. I don’t think I always realize how much he cares about us as opposed to us as Jedi – I’ve become too accustomed to lumping him in with the Code that I struggle with… < sigh > I wish I could tell him everything that’s been going on – but there’s a part of me that just knows he won’t understand. Not about Vergere, not about Grale and Doone, and especially not about Irsin.
…Which reminds me, I guess I’m doing things a little out of order this time – though, I think the circumstances can allow for an imperfect recounting of my recent activities, right? This whole Force Link business didn’t even manifest itself until after we’d hunted down and confronted the Sith Lord Korvus Doone, so I’d best start with that.
Not long after Master Tahl’s law enforcement contact – a Bothan named Laryn Trey’lis – reported in with information linking the SeswenAlpha banking company with the Tarkin family, Irsin received a trace hit on Korvus Doone’s bank account. Doone had paid for docking and refueling on the planet Denon, though after we departed from Eriadu to give chase, another trace hit confirmed that he had left Denon and submitted a flight plan for, of all places, Nar Shaddaa! Now obviously we were a bit suspicious of this – after all, Doone had already established himself as a paranoid manipulator. How could we be sure he wasn’t just submitting false flight plans to keep any and everyone off his back? Q’aleane had the fairly brilliant idea of contacting the Jedi Academy on Naboo and asking them to keep watch for a ship matching Doone’s transponder code, as he would have to pass through the Galov sector of the Outer Rim to reach Nar Shaddaa – an area the Naboo Academy routinely monitors via listening posts. And, sure enough, the Jedi on Naboo reported back shortly thereafter that Doone’s ship had passed through the Galov sector via the Gamorr system. With that, we re-charted our hyperspace route to get us to the Smuggler’s Moon either at the same time or sooner than Doone – you’ve got to love Q’aleane’s ability to astrogate new and exciting hyperspace lanes!
Once we arrived on Nar Shaddaa, we brought our ship in close to where Doone’s vessel had docked and then – while Master Tahl stayed with the ship in orbit – Q’aleane, Irsin, and I began our investigation. We found Doone’s ship recently docked on a fairly populated landing platform, so Q’aleane went to question bystanders for information while Irsin and I searched the ship. Once I located the security panel, it didn’t take Irsin long to slice our way in. On board, we searched every inch of the vessel, but found neither Doone nor Irsin’s mother, Laena. Even so, Irsin hacked into the ship’s central computer and left spyware designed to circumvent the ship’s security, giving him future access to vids and logs made by Doone. Having exhausted that avenue, we left the ship and erased all evidence of our presence on board before rejoining Q’aleane. She told us that there were individuals who had seen Doone leave the ship and head into the city, but details were slim. We all agreed to return to Q’aleane’s ship and wait for Doone to make another move, now that Irsin had installed his spyware on the Sith’s vessel. I had thought we were all on the same page, but just as we were about to re-board the ship and give Master Lucien our update, Irsin must have received a message from Vorman Grale, because the next thing I knew, Irsin was very insistent that we not give up the search for Doone – Grale must have convinced him that there was no time like the present or something to that effect… Grale…
< deep breath >
…With some brainstorming, and a little underworld ‘digging’ on the part of Irsin and I, we were eventually able to navigate the proper criminal channels to ascertain an address for Korvus Doone, right there on Nar Shaddaa! It cost Irsin 1000 credits – never mind the 2000 more he ended up spending purchasing armor for his slicer persona – and he didn’t even blink an eye as he transferred the funds. It hit me again just how determined he was to find this Sith Lord. And could I blame him? Of course not. Every moment we spent hunting Doone was a moment that Laena might have been in mortal danger. Come to think of it… it must have hurt Irsin tremendously that we were so willing to simply go back to the ship and wait Doone out instead of taking action… just another reason for him to distrust me … for him to react to me that way…
< deep sigh >
…Anyways, the address given to us was located in a vast apartment and shopping complex – a huge skyscraper stretching into the stars. Once we arrived on the proper floor, we did our best to survey the surroundings and come up with a strategic plan. Unfortunately, Doone had chosen a cleverly protected hiding spot, as we were left with no other viable option than simply charging through the front door of his apartment. As we prepared for the confrontation awaiting us within, I sensed a brief feeling of vague confusion from Q’aleane – perhaps the result of attempted precognition – but she shrugged it off when I looked to her for an explanation. With that somewhat unnerving feeling still in my mind, I ignited my lightsabers, brought them down in an arc around the door to Doone’s apartment, and moved into the room – Irsin then Q’aleane following.
Korvus Doone sat on a reclining sofa at the far end of an otherwise empty room. He acknowledged our presence with a simple, “Took you long enough,” and then he was something else entirely. The Shi’ido transformed himself – and the couch – into a massive and vicious looking beast. I vaguely remembered seeing something like it in the Archives labeled as a ‘Jedi Killer,’ but Q’aleane later identified the creature as a terentatek. Without any further delay, the terentatek – Korvus Doone – attacked.
As on Wayland, the battle was one of the most difficult and deadly that I’ve ever experienced. And, as before in Darth Sidious’ vault, this Sith Lord fought in his true form – that of a coward. Instead of facing us in a proper duel of skill, Doone used his deceitful powers of the Dark Side to defeat us – at that time through invisibility, and now in the guise of this horrific monster. On Wayland, his deception was enough to win the day.
But not this time.
Irsin and I moved in with our sabers drawn, while Q’aleane made ready to call on the Force to help bring down this Sith fiend. Irsin struck first, landing a blow on the beast’s torso – and then something… unexpected happened. We all saw what appeared to be a red hand extending out from Doone’s body, trying to reach us before he forcefully pushed it back inside himself. The look on Irsin’s face said everything – it was Laena! Afraid that our attacks might be harming her indirectly, Irsin and I began to flank Doone, bringing our sabers to bear away from his midsection. Irsin made a solid hit on the creature’s right arm, and it went limp at an odd angle. My own attempt at harming its neck seemed less effective – but Ashla, they don’t call these things ‘Jedi Killers’ for nothing! The terentatek’s body was covered in highly resistant armored scales, and many otherwise mortal blows seemed mere annoyances to Doone. A massive clawed hand grabbed me and slammed me into the ground, knocking the wind out of me, but I was back on my feet in an instant – just in time to watch Q’aleane attack the creature with the Force without success… apparently Doone could do more than simply shift appearances! Just as Irsin made another failed attack with his saber, the Sith Lord lashed out at us with Force Repulse, sending us hurtling away. Even then, we wasted no time redoubling our attack. After several more blows to the creature, I noticed Doone’s Force aura begin to pulse and radiate out with a shocking intensity. Even though Irsin lacks our Miraluka Force sight, I’m sure even he noticed the terentatek’s disabled arm begin to move normally again – the Sith Lord had healed himself… but was he leeching life out of Laena to do it?!
Out of either rage or desperation – or both – Irsin vaulted himself up onto Doone’s back, and began slamming his lightsabers against the monster’s head! It was truly magnificent to behold, and his selfless – and mindless! – bravery inspired me as I charged full-speed towards our foe. I leaped into the air and slammed my blades against Doone’s head and he let out a growl of pain before swinging an enormous claw at me. Though my armor defended most of the blow, one of the talons pierced my skin… it didn’t hurt much initially, and if I had checked the wound better, I might have seen what was coming… Even though Doone now seemed most concerned with dislodging Irsin from his back and shoulders, he remained agile enough to dodge another of my attacks before bringing his hand around with a vicious Force Push. I flew backwards across the room – right at Q’aleane! Thankfully, she’s no slouch, and leapt out of the way just in time for my boots to press into the wall. I flipped down beside my sister… just as the poison from my wound kicked in. I felt a sharp pang in my lungs and struggled to keep my footing, and my lightsabers.
Of course Doone hadn’t anticipated Q’aleane, because otherwise why throw his poisoned victim right at one of the best healers I know?! As I watched Irsin swing down to Doone’s side as the beast slammed his back into the wall, Q’aleane administered her Jedi healing to me, and I felt the aching in my chest dissipate. With renewed strength, I raced back across the room and jumped towards Doone, piercing the top of his skull before sticking my landing in front of him. Irsin continued to bring his sabers down on the creature’s head, frantically shaving away armored scales with every blow. As Doone made another desperate attack to remove Irsin, I made my move – and hoped for a coup de grâce. I jumped straight up and, pulling back my sabers to point them directly at the monster’s face… aimed… and thrust my blades forward, slamming each into one of the terentatek’s eyes. Where each of my previous blows had encountered some type of resistance, here there was nothing. I felt the blades slide easily through Doone’s eyes, as far as I could push them, hard into the Sith Lord’s brain. There was a loud, gurgling growl of a shout, and Doone began shuttering violently and falling backwards. Irsin, sensing the death of our foe – and the wall behind him – bounded down from his perch and landed next to me just as Doone collapsed to the ground – apparently dead.
We didn’t have time to catch our breath, though, because there was still the matter of Laena buried inside the terentatek’s chest cavity. Irsin carefully cut through the creature’s carapace, and with the scaly flesh removed, it was clear that a woman’s body was inside. We extracted Laena and brought her to Q’aleane for healing. Then, while my sister tended to Irsin’s badly injured mother, I returned to the dead Sith Lord and dismembered the massive terentatek body… it’s curious that Doone didn’t return to his natural Shi’ido form after death… I guess not all dead shapeshifters function the same way!
By the time I rejoined Q’aleane and Irsin, it was clear that Laena was in really bad shape. Q’aleane said she was barely alive, and was honestly not sure if she’d make it back to the ship. Irsin looked so … helpless in that moment, and Q’aleane must have seen it too, because she decided to do everything she could to stabilize Laena so that we could get her out alive. And when I say my sister did everything she could, I mean everything. Q’aleane poured so much of her healing power into that woman that she literally passed out from exhaustion… only… I can still remember it… it was like she wasn’t there anymore. And not like while I was on Ansion, and I got that cold feeling… no. This was more like a feeling of pure emptiness where my sister used to be. Obviously, I was terrified, but I was somehow able to pull myself together and convince Irsin that we needed to get back to the ship immediately. He grabbed his mother, and I grabbed my sister, and we started for the door… but we didn’t make it far. I had taken two steps when my throat suddenly closed! I thought it was Doone’s poison, but this felt different… there was malice here that a poison wouldn’t radiate in the Force. I slumped down onto the floor with Q’aleane, and when I looked over, I could see that Irsin was having the same experience…
…and then I heard his voice.
He strode into the room and, maintaining his grip on us, walked over to Irsin, picked up Laena’s limp body, and left just as quickly as he had appeared. On his way out, that di’kut had the … the audacity to tell Irsin to enjoy the company of his new “Jedi friends” with a smug smile and a callous laugh…
As Grale moved further and further away, his Force grip lessened, until finally we were able to breathe again normally. As I moved out from under Q’aleane – she was still unconscious – and removed my helmet to get more air, I saw Irsin still kneeling next to where his mother had been just moments earlier. In the Force, he… he actually reminded me of Doone… his Force aura was trembling with darkness. I could almost feel the rage cascading off his body like waves of the Culu Sea back home. In that moment, I almost completely forgot about the emptiness my sister had left in my mind – I was utterly focused on Irsin. Carefully, I stood and walked around behind him, but he didn’t move at all to acknowledge me. I knelt down there, and, not wanting to startle him, I simply laid my hands on his shoulders, and whispered his name.
I was about to call out to him again when…
…when he struck me. Hard.
Luckily… < sigh > … luckily it was only a backhand, because a focused punch of that intensity would’ve easily broken my nose, my jaw… my entire face. Instead I’ve only got a massive bruise and a pretty deep cut where his gauntlet contacted my cheek.
< sigh … slight whimper … deep breaths >
Nevertheless, the blow knocked me over, and Irsin stood up and walked away from me, still consumed by rage and darkness. I stood, regaining myself, and held out my hands to Irsin in a sign of surrender against his violence. I spoke quietly, telling him how sorry I was that Laena had been taken, and that we would go after Grale, but that right then we needed to get Q’aleane and get out of that building before we drew unwanted attention from the locals. For several moments, he simply stared at me before finally nodding in agreement. I gathered up Q’aleane again and headed for the door, but when I looked back, Irsin had gone into the two adjoining rooms – one a simple empty cell, and the other Doone’s living quarters. I don’t know what he found in Doone’s room, but he made his way back to me and together, we moved to the elevator and took it down. When we exited to the lobby again, my expectations of a hard trek back to my sister’s ship were quickly alleviated – Q’aleane’s ship was hovering over the skybridge just outside! Stuck in the crowd that had gathered to witness this strange sight, I told Irsin to go out the back way and find Doone’s ship – that we would meet up again soon. He said nothing and simply turned and left. I watched him go, his aura undiminished in intensity, before he disappeared into the crowds and I was forced to carry my sister outside and board her ship.
Once on-board, the ship sprang into orbit while Master Lucien found me and helped me get Q’aleane to one of the beds. We located one of the ship’s med stations and used that to monitor her condition. I explained everything that had happened to my master, as best I could… he was pleased that we had tracked down and defeated the Sith Lord, but was disappointed that we didn’t search his apartment for information… I mean, I didn’t search it, and I certainly couldn’t tell him about Irsin! He wanted me to go back to Nar Shaddaa and recover both any information left at Doone’s apartment and his ship. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to control Q’aleane’s ship! I went up to the bridge while Master Lucien watched over my sister, and tried commanding the ship to go back to the city. After a few tries with my voice – which did not work – I tried imagining the place where we had been, and silently pleaded with the ship to return. I had almost given up and went to find the manual controls when suddenly…
…suddenly I saw the apartment building… in my mind… and… I think in color! I got dizzy just seeing it all in my mind’s eye, and kept saying aloud “Yes, yes – that place, go there!” And the ship turned around and descended back to our former location. I made a fairly quick trip back to Doone’s apartment – taking just enough time to give Irsin a chance to get Doone’s ship and get off world. When I got back aboard, I told Master Tahl that there was nothing in the apartment, and when we flew back over Doone’s landing pad, the ship was just pushing out into orbit. To say that my master was upset would be a grave understatement. Thankfully… he didn’t take it out on us. Though clearly disappointed that we had not found further clues about the Sith’s activity in the area, he agreed that we would return to the Taris Academy, our mission now complete. Once the ship was back in orbit, I sent Irsin a message, again telling him how sorry I was about Laena, and letting him know that he can trust us… trust me to help make things right. It was around this time that Q’aleane finally came to, and we both experienced our new Force link, which I’ve already covered, and I did get a response from Irsin since then… so I guess that gets us to the present.
We’re scheduled to arrive back on Taris soon, and I’m sure we’ll be debriefed by the Council. With any luck, our performance will earn us some degree of freedom again, which might allow us to pursue… other activities while we continue to serve the Council as Jedi Knights.
And you know what? … Wow, I almost forgot – it just slipped my mind… we missed New Year’s Fete! Heh… it’s strange… so much has happened over the past year. So much has changed in such a short time. Ansion… the Trials… a Knighting Ceremony – or three for some people!… Senator Thek… < sigh >… Irsin… Grale… Doone… Laena…
Typically, before first month, I like to think about the things I want to accomplish over the next year. I’d say my biggest item from last year – “Become a Jedi Knight” – was taken care of… but this year, I’m thinking more about others than myself.
For Q’aleane — I want her to find what she’s looking for in life. I don’t know if Vergere and what she represents is it, but I can’t shake the feeling that though my sister wants to do her duty as a Jedi, she doesn’t feel at home as a Jedi anymore. This Unifying Force business has her discontented, and that troubles me greatly. I may not agree with it, but I’ll do everything in my power to help her find her path… and maybe in the process she’ll help me find mine.
For Irsin… < deep sigh >
For Irsin — I want him to be able to let go of his rage. In his message back to me, he said, “The rage will not subside. It never does. It will only be saved for later, until it can be sated.” I truly wonder just how long that rage has churned inside him… I expect it’s been there for years. I don’t know why I expected him to trust me or find solace in me back in the apartment. I do know I should have been ready for that backhand… yet for some reason, I just didn’t expect him to lash out at me… to strike me like that. I’m continually baffled at why I feel so compelled by Irsin, but this experience has taught me to be more cautious around him. Perhaps it’s because we’ve already done so much for him, and fought in dangerous battles with him, that there’s a kindred feeling… but no. He’s a Sith, and we’re Jedi. We’re both in situations that we couldn’t have imagined two months ago. But sometimes… it’s just so frustrating! Errgh! …He talks about betrayal so much, yet he can’t see how far we’ve – I’ve – gone for him! As Jedi, we are sworn to destroy the Sith at any cost. When we first found out about Irsin en route to Wayland, for all intents and purposes, that should have been it! I was so angry when I found out he was a Sith… I didn’t want him to be a Sith. But we went along with it… and then when Grale was on board this ship, and we had a chance to bring him to justice, Irsin asked that he be let go unharmed! If only they had listened to me! If only we had taken Grale into custody… Irsin might be with his mother right now!!!
< heavy breathing >
But… but that’s not fair, is it? No. Irsin is just like us. The Sith are sworn to destroy the Jedi, and he had several opportunities to destroy us before we learned of his true identity. But he didn’t… I still don’t know why – maybe just for convenience? Like he said in his message, he knows that he can’t defeat Grale without our help. Maybe that’s the only reason he’s stayed this long… He did mention that Vergere’s quest intrigues him, and that we might find common ground in that pursuit… but is that all he wants? Just to find common ground? I still believe that Irsin desperately wants people in his life that he can trust and find peace with. I was hoping that it would be with … us, but now I’m not so sure. Perhaps he just needs time. Maybe we all need time to make this work. Well, like I said, if we can get back in the Council’s good graces, we might find the time – and the freedom – necessary to make it work.
Then we can reconnect with Vergere. Then we can find Grale and Laena and finally bring that kriffing bastard to justice. Then, with the Force as our guide, we can find our paths and walk them with confidence.
< sigh >
I know, it’s a lot to ask for in one year. But hey, stranger things have happened in such a short time, right?
< laughs >