From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
01:01:123 ABY; Aboard Doone’s Ship
- sounds of crashing destruction *
I will take his hide and string it out like a moth-eaten Hutt- – * crashing *
Gone. I lost her. Again. How many times must I fail her? She didn’t even know I was there….
I can’t believe what a fool I was. After all the years, all the daily proof that there was no one I could trust among the Sith, that they all were just looking for the next opportunity to advance their own individual agendas, I did the one thing a Sith must never do….I trusted without contingency plans for inevitable betrayal.
Such a thing was an obvious weakness, one that Grale would have been all but compelled to exploit. The very instincts I have been trying to suppress among the Ren twins are the ones which served him well today…and I am the one who is left wondering where my place is in this galaxy.
Make no mistake – I WILL find Grale. The only question now is when and where. Any remaining loyalty he was able to use to his advantage in the past weeks are gone. I will kill him. And he has so much as harmed one more hair on my mother’s head, I will make him feel every one of her pains in slow tortured agony before I rend what passes for a soul from his body. May the Force consume him and find a better use for whatever is left behind.
No…that part is not a question. What is a question now is….what then? All this time I had assumed when I waas done with Grale I would return to Kesh and submit myself to the Circle of Lords. With Grale’s head (and now Doone’s) on my lap I would have a strong case to be made for re-admittance into their good graces. My transgressions could be forgiven. But…do I even want to go back? What place do I have there. I joined the Sith because I had nowhere else to go…much the same reason I was with the Imperial Knights. I have been passed from hand to hand as someone’s puppet for my entire life. Never before have I ever been given a choice…the ability to pick my own fate, to decide my own future. Right now I have my own ship. I could go….anywhere.
And yet what else do I have? The Ren sisters? Force knows they have shown their willingness to help…Q’aleane nearly killed herself to save my mother….and Q’ayla continues to demonstrate a willingness to put herself in harms way, and protect the truth for my sake. What reasons do I still have to distrust them aside from simple instinct? Instinct that has been taught to me by the very people that have betrayed me, for the last time.
Past experience tells me I shouldn’t trust anyone…that anyone could be a Dianoga lying in wait for me to leave an opening. But these two? Q’ayla? She has never been anything but forthright with me. I have never detected a hint of deception from her…a thing I never would have thought possible. And though Q’aleane has been far more removed emotionally and conversationally, actions speak for themselves. Even if she has an ulterior motive for cooperating with me (which seems likely, even if that motive is only curiosity), Q’ayla seems to trust her. There seems to be a genuine bond there. Something holds them together beyond simple camaraderie. I suppose it is something like what I feel for my mother, though I would assume stronger since they have actually heard each others voices before. Something stronger than loyalty…deeper than devotion.
I suppose I should begin by explaining what brought me here. How I came to be on Doone’s ship. How Grale has put the final nail in the coffin of our relationship, such as it was.
Thanks to the tracer program I managed to embed on Doone’s account, we got a hit on a banking withdrawal. With a little finagling on my part we managed to deduce that the transaction had taken place on the planet Denon, and was paying for a temporary docking space and refueling. It didn’t give us much to go on but we decided to follow the lead anyway, hoping we could at least keep pace with him as he moved around. I kept Grale apprised of our progress as we went along.
Thankfully he made either the careless mistake or the masterful manipulation of filing an accurate flight plan when he left Denon, pointing us towards Nar Shadaa. I had my doubts about the authenticity of this information, but Q’aleane had the Jedi track the ships’ transponder signal and determined he was in fact headed for the backwater location.
Thanks to the remarkable ship we traveled in, and the fact that we were able to “cut the corner” so to speak on the trip, we arrived on Nar Shadaa scarcely an hour after Doone himself would have arrived. We found where he was docked and disembarked in order to investigate. Q’aleane interrogated and managed the locals while Q’alya and I infiltrated his ship. I sliced past the exterior security easily enough, which allowed us in. Unfortunately Doone hadn’t left anything of use behind, so I logged into the computer to try and find any additional information. With nothing apparent there I opted to leave a tracer program and security monitoring software embedded in the ship’s main systems. Circumventing both Doone’s formiddable firewall and untying the subtle program which would have fried the systems main computer upon any attempt to activate it after tampering was very tricky, but as before I seemed to almost know how Doone would have written the code before I even saw the first line. With that complete Q’alya and I left I had assumed to resume the search for Doone. This would leave us a fail-safe to find him later on if he managed to escape.
To my surprise Q’aleane and Q’alya both seemed to think our task here was done. With so many bystanders and a lack of support the thought it best to leverage the software I’d left on his ship to track him to a more advantageous location. But my mother could be dead by then…didn’t they understand that? Though i was extremely uncertain about this course of action, I needed the Jedi’s support to confront Doone. I had no illusions of my own ability to take down a Sith Lord, and Grale had yet to respond to any of my messages since we left Eriadu. I had hoped he would aid us in the assault, but I had to be prepared that he would not arrive in time.
I left a message for Grale to this effect, and he chastised me that Leana would not likely survive much longer if we left her here. Something tugged at the back of my head with how he appealed to my love for her, how he seemed to find exactly the right thing to say which would prevent me from following the Jedi’s much more prudent course of action. I felt the manipulation, and yet didn’t want to think about it. I wanted my mother safe.
So I convinced the Ren sisters to use the trace program as a fail-safe. And we left in search of where Doone was hiding. With a little well-placed application of funds and a detour to pickup some protection for my current cover identity, we found the apartment complex where Doone was hiding out. We located his room and after some cursory searching to make sure there were no other escape avenues and no traps laid for us, we breached his room via Q’ayla’s twin sabers.
Doone reclined on a couch at the far end of an otherwise bare room. “It took you long enough” He rumbled, and without much hesitation, he and the entire piece of what had previously appeared to be furniture changed. His skin swirled and boiled outwards, expanding and bulging like some grotesque thing inflating from within. When the expansion seemed to finish he stared at us from behind orange glowing eyes, with a heavily armored body that was only humanoid in that it still possessed 4 limbs. He was huge.
I heard one of the Ren sisters whisper “Jedi Killer” and I suddenly remembered reading about these beasts in the academy. They were supposed to be resistant to force users and had incredibly tough hide that would resist even Lightsaber strikes.
I took a deep breath, and with grim determination Q’ayla and I went to work, with Q’aleane supporting us from range. The first strike I landed on the thing’s torso resulted in a strangely detached grunt that seemed to come from the thing’s belly instead of his mouth. A moment later a red skinned arm reached out of his body before he shoved it back in…
My god… I thought…he has her IN there!!!
Thinking quickly I reasoned that perhaps if I avoided where he was keeping her I could avoid dealing her any direct harm, so I went after the enourmous tree-trunk sized arms, hoping to disable him. Q’ayla did the same on his opposite side. Though I was able to cripple one arm at one point, I became painfully aware that we simply weren’t doing enough damage, he could keep this up all day, and sooner or later as nimble as we were he was going to catch us.
Throwing caution to the wind I leapt up onto his back, and barely managing to keep my footing I began plunging my lightsabers down over and over and over into his massive boney skull. The lightsabers skittered off far more than I’d have expected, but I could tell from his grunting that I was hurting him, and though he tried to shake me off, with me in such close quarters his size actually was working against him.
Just when I thought we had the upper hand though, a glow of Force energy rippled out from him and I could see him leech the life from within his gut to restore himself. His arm that I had crippled earlier flexed and became mobile again. I panicked. I needed to kill him NOW, or my mother was as good as dead.
In rapid sequence I sank my ligthsabers deep into his cranium, and barely a moment later Q’alya came hurtling from across the room and plunged her own twin blades into the creature’s eyes. He sagged and teetered, and finally collapsed as I leapt and rolled from his back.
It took some time to pull my mother’s body from his corpse, but we managed to pull her out. Her pulse was very weak, and though she was physically unharmed, I could tell she was on the verge of death. I looked at her helplessly, before Q’aleane knelt and put her hands on her brow and breast. A soft glow emanated from her for a few moments before she suddenly sagged to one side, unconscious. Q’ayla looked suddenly panicked, but I saw that both Q’aleane and my mother breathed steadily and evenly.
Suddenly a pang of fear ran through me. We were weak. Hurt. Grale had not come to aid us. Q’aleane was unconscious, Q’ayla and I were all but exhausted ourselves. DAMNIT! I thought we have just done exactly what he wanted!!!
I tried to get Q’ayla to snap out of her fear for her sister, explaining “Grale will be here at any moment, Q’ayla” but though she finally nodded and made as if to pickup her sister a sudden pressure on my senses came a moment too late to warn me of the impending attack. Too late…
My air was suddenly cutoff and a moment later Grale strode into the room. He looked at me struggling for breath as though at a foolish child. And so I was….I should have known better. How deftly he has managed to maneuver me. How completely. He bent and lifted my mother’s unconscious body into his dirty traitorous arms and looked at me again. “I hope you enjoy the company of your new Jedi…friends.” He said with a wicked smile, before he turned and strode from the room. I seethed with rage, I wanted to strike out at him, to wring his neck until his spine broke between my bare fingers….
And then he was gone. And the pressure of his grip eased on my throat. And I was left trembling on the ground in blind rage and bitter guilt. I had failed. Failed again. Failed as always to protect those I cared for.
In the midst of that swirling vortex of pain and misery I felt a hand touch my shoulder. I didn’t even know who, or what, it was. In truth I wasn’t even aware of my surroundings. I was so blind to the world around me that I instinctively just lashed out as though I was being attacked, backhanding over my shoulder as though swatting a fly. My hand connected with something that felt like flesh under my gloved hands. A jaw perhaps?
Another moment of eternity passed as I lay adrift in my own mind, consumed by that which made me everything I was, or ever would be….
And then a remarkable thing happened. I heard a voice. It was speaking to me, almost…pleadingly? It said a name…
“Irsin…I know you must be hurting right now…” Irsin…I know that name. Who is that…is it…it’s me. That’s my name. The red haze over my vision began to slowly clear as the voice continued.
“We will go after Grale, you have my word, but right now…” It kept talking, and though I hardly heard the words they were oddly comforting. They brought my blood down from a roiling boil to a controlled simmer. I was able to perceive the room again. I looked around, saw Q’aleane still slumped on the ground, and Q’ayla a half dozen paces away with her hands held up as if to pronounce herself non-threatening. It was her who was talking to me. It was then that I noticed her cheek, already beginning to swell up with a dark bruise and a ragged line of blood that had not come from the battle with Doone.
You did that a voice in my head whispered. Are you proud of yourself? But over on top of it, Q’ayla’s voice continued,
“…Need to get out of here before we draw unwanted attention from the locals.” she paused as though waiting for an answer. I tried to piece together what she’d said to me, and finally nodded. She was right, we couldn’t stay here. But first….
I searched the 2 adjoining rooms for Doone’s personal effects. Perhaps there was something in them which would help my find Grale, or some piece of evidence I could hold over his head. Either way, it’s not like Doone needed it anymore…
After I’d gathered the necessary items I followed Q’ayla out of the room who was carrying her sister. I made as if to offer to carry her, but the look on Q’ayla’s face said everything without even needing to decline. I don’t want you anywhere near her. At least that’s what I saw in it. And why should she? The rage in me pulsed again. It was all I had left.
When we got to the lobby downstairs we saw the ship waiting outside, attracting a great deal of attention. Q’ayla suggested I leave out the back and commandeer Doone’s ship. We could meet up again later. I hesitated, wondering if I shouldn’t stay with them, but with their master aboard he’d be suspicious of me coming back anyway. Better for me to have spooked during the fight and “run off”.
And so I ran. And I’m still running.
I barely managed to get the ship lifted off and out of the port before the Jedi’s ship came into view behind me, but I managed to punch the hyperdrive up and get on a nearby jump trajectory to throw off any pursuit their master might seek.
A short time later, while in hyperspace I received the following message from Q’ayla. My head had begun to settle out into the familiar space I usually kept. A tightly focused razor edge of emotion, honed and sculpted into a weapon, rather than the desolating rage of earlier.
Irsin… I’m so sorry about your mother and Grale. Back there, in the apartment… I know you were right. I don’t know how you’re feeling right now. You were so close to finding your mother, and now you know she’s alive. Listen, Irsin… I don’t want to presume, especially at a time like this… but I think your mother, besides being your mother, represents something that you can hold on to – can trust – and Q’aleane once said that you seem to desire that reliance and trust, despite your training with the Sith… maybe even because of it. sigh Listen, what I’m trying to say is… I know you think we’re foolish and naive, but I want you to know that you can trust us – you can trust me – and together, we will find your mother. And we will find Grale. I will do whatever I can to make things right for you – Sith or no. … … … Q’aleane is still unconscious, and we’re heading back to Taris to deliver our final mission report to the Council. Once your rage subsides… if you still want to, we can stay in touch. For my part, I hope that you do.
I felt both sick with guilt and somehow…distant from this letter. She didn’t understand…she lived in a world where emotions were to be feared, to be expelled and left to die on the hillside of a mountaintop. And yet…she was still there. Despite everything. Reaching out a hand. metaphorically she was completely overbalanced, putting herself at extreme risk. She had not fall back plan, no contingency for my “inevitable betrayal”. She, and her sister, were just there. Hoping I might take the hand. I wanted to I realized. I desperately wanted to clasp that outstretched arm and never let go. To believe in something again. To believe….
I wrote back.
The Rage will not subside. It never does. It will only be saved for later, until it can be sated. You do not understand. For your sake, I hope you never do. But perhaps….
I have been betrayed so many times now…I can hardly keep track. I don’t know if I even know how to trust properly anymore. But I can say this: I have no desire to die in vain, and I’m not too proud to admit that I don’t think I can stop Grale on my own. I can’t promise that I know how to trust you, or your sister. I can’t promise that I will ever learn. But I am willing to work with you to get that bastard. I am willing to stand with you against a common foe. Temporary alliances are something at least I can understand. I am still intrigued by Vergere’s mission…I find it compelling. Perhaps that is also something we can find common ground with. For now….that is all I can manage. Perhaps that will be enough for you. Maybe if we are successful in finding Grale and stopping him…well let us see what happens.
It was not a clasping of the hand. I couldn’t bring myself that far, not yet. But it was an acknowledgement of it’s presence, and it was not a rejection. Perhaps it was a beginning, something like a foundation. Only time will tell.