Knights of the New Republic

Session 2: Irsin Journals

From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
32:09:122 ABY; Early Evening

Ignorant FOOL!

I can’t believe I am still here to record this. This damned ship is more clever than I gave it credit for, and I thought I’d given it rather a lot already. My previous entry, which I recorded here was overheard, and somehow…transmitted to the sister who is attuned to this…craft? Being? Thing? I’m not sure what to call it. I can’t decide if I should be in awe or terrified.

And yet, despite my carelessness in allowing them to learn the one of my secrets I most wished they would not have known, I still live. Note only that they haven’t even imprisoned me, confiscated my property, or even so much as reported me to their vaunted council.

Who are these Jedi?

At times it seems like despite being twin sisters and scarcely spending a year apart from one another, they know each other less than they know me. I got the…utterly intriguing impression at one point in the conversation about my identity, that Q’alya (the more traditional Jedi of the two, without any of the Yuuzhan Vong animals grafted onto her equipment) understood me more than she understood her own flesh and blood. She didn’t trust me, not yet at least, but that I, even wrapped in my secrets and the warring history between our two people’s, was more of a known quantity.

Regardless though, I will have to be more careful what I record aloud in the future.

They invited me to sit and dine with them. Q’alene wasted little time in divulging that she knew what I was, and invited me to explain myself. I could practically feel Q’alya thrumming with the desire to leap up and strike me down where I sat. I made no aggressive moves however. It is one of the earliest lessons we learn that you show no threat until you intend to follow through. In that way you give your pray no warning that you intend to strike. Prey is easier to bring down when they lower their guard.

That was not what was needed at this time anyway. I was at a severe disadvantage, never mind the two on one odds. They had been extremely useful so far, and might continue to be if I could play this situation with a light enough touch. Besides, I bore these two Jedi no ill-will. Sometimes honesty is the best way to achieve ones goals. Truth has the advantage of being unassailable… as the Jedi are fond of reminding the galaxy.

So I told them the truth. That my parents had been killed when I was a child. That the Imperial Knights took me in and I was trained among their number until my teenage years. That one day I encountered a Sith Lord – who managed to manipulate into believing an innocent man was responsible for the death of my parents. That subsequently I severed my ties with the Knights…with the end of a lightsaber. And I spent the next decade or more learning from the one who had “freed” me from the Imperial Knight. A man who was revealed to me only weeks before as being the one truly behind my parent’s murder, who had kept my mother alive for all these years, only to kill her on camera.

And now I hunted him.

There was little else to say. It was all true. I didn’t think for a moment that it fit into the Jedi definitions of acceptable cause, or a forgivable offense. I fully expected to either be executed on the spot, or clapped in irons. I was ready to admit that I had played a risky game and lost. Perhaps I’d have a chance to escape in transit…

But then Q’alene surprised me. She told me “To the Jedi, you have heretical beliefs, of which I too am guilty.” It took all my self control not to look stunned. Her sister was not nearly so restrained. She stiffened and very nearly gaped at her sister. She quickly smoothed her features, but the expression had been too evident, and resonated with my sense of her emotions too clearly to be feigned.

The conversation that followed continued the trend. Q’alene seemed to take my story as not only entirely valid but understandable. She made no recriminations, no speeches of the lure of the dark side, no platitudes about how I had fallen and now was being given a chance to see the light. Either she knew better and didn’t bother, or she really truly didn’t seem to care. She probed me a bit more about why I wanted Grale dead, and then told me I was free to eat my meal and return to my quarters as I saw fit. I made sure to keep my face plain as I excused myself.

From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
33:09:122 ABY; Late Afternoon

Steady heavy breathing, as though after long hours of exercise

Said through clenched teeth He slipped through my grasp again. Curse him to the bowels of a Rancor’s stomach he got away!

slow deep breath

I lost him. I couldn’t stop him. He was there in front of me…mocking me, and though I know I must have scored him deeply I couldn’t cripple or kill him.

An image flashed through my mind, and I was there again, screaming and laughing and tearing. I
relived the feeling of victory, the absolute rush of feeling his spine rend beneath my blade, of watching the rictus of his face tear apart under my assault, of laughing with barely retained sanity as I annihilated what was left of his broken form with pure force, scattering his blood on my face and the walls around me, of falling to my knees panting….

I came back to myself unsteady with the heady feeling. I suppressed the choking sensation in my throat. I had to remind myself it was only a false memory, remind my rage that it was not yet sated. Stave off the sorrow of loss fulfilled and avenged. I breathed deeply again, focusing my anger again. I couldn’t afford to let my experience at the archway distract me. Sublime as it may have been, it was just an entryway, a key like any other, just one far more satisfying to turn than most.

I began to move through the motions of the forms again, letting the emotion surge through my limbs, kindling passion and invisible fire out from the tips of my fingers and toes. I repeated the Code to myself, punctuating each line with a thrust of a hand or foot. I lost myself in the exertion.

From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
33:09:122 ABY; After Evening Meal

I have my senses about me again. It’s strange the experience of that archway. It was making it difficult for me to parse reality for what it is. Even knowing it was false, even knowing it had no purpose other than to test the soul of he who would touch it…it penetrates.

The expedition to Wayland was not entirely without value, despite the setback of losing Grale. We managed to recover a major cache of ancient and powerful Sith artifacts that Darth Sidious had hidden away. Of course “we” was me and a couple of Jedi, so the majority of the artifacts were turned over to them for inspection and storage, but once again Q’alene and her sister surprised me, and we were each allowed to keep an item of interest. I held onto an ancient Sith Blade, from the age when physical blades were still viable. The item is incredibly powerful, and I’ve just begun to probe the edges of it’s nature. I hope to unlock it’s secrets in time. To understand its history. Q’alya retained possession of a historical lightsaber, of the style which still required tethered battery packs to function. She seems to be interested in repairing it. She too seems to have an interest in history. Q’alene for her part

The Ancient Sith Holocron was turned over to the council of course, but they both seem to recognize that by doing so the Holocron will never see the light of day again…until it manages to seduce one of the senior council into taking up its secrets for personal gain. Who knows what secrets could be revealed by merely a moment plumbing that ancient stone’s knowledge?

Getting to the cache was also not nearly as difficult as I had feared. When we landed on Wayland, we were given audience with the Noghri Matriarch, and I was reminded of how dangerous their race was and why Darth Sidious had employed them so many years ago. Their very movements implied threat, and the walked as though cats stalking prey, even as they offered you formal greeting.

We were assigned a guide named Varukh, and I was forced to shed my Bounty Hunter’s armor due to its bulky nature given the cramped spaces we intended to explore. This forced me to don my Sith battle armor to retain some level of protection, which I hoped didn’t look too much like what is was. I was blessed by the fact that the Jedi worse similar armor, perhaps the differences would be presumed cosmetic by the casual observer.

Varukh took us through the jungle towards the place where the new tunnels had been uncovered. Q’alya nearly ran full on into an amphi-staff plant, not seeing it through her holes in Force Sight. Without even thinking about it I extended a hand to stop her from getting too close at the same time that Varukh did the same. It hadn’t even occurred to her sister that she might not be aware of them it seemed… interesting. Q’alya gave me a penetrating look as she glanced down at my hand which I quickly removed. I realized that I had unconsciously slotted the two sisters into the “comrade in arms” category in my head. I made the conscious choice then to leave them so assigned.

I might not be friends with them, but there was no sense letting them die to no purpose.

As we walked we heard the clear sounds of battle being wages, and finally emerged near a clearing where some of the natives were engaged in a brawl. A single larger creature with huge muscled arms was fighting off several smaller creatures. Most of them wielded primitive weapons, but one of the smaller creatures apparently had managed to bond an Amphistaff, it’s hissing head flitting under the guard of the lumbering opponent. I shielded my presence with the force almost before I’d thought about it and circled around, waiting to see how the Jedi and Varukh would react. I was not well versed on the local political landscape and was unsure if the galactic peacekeepers would show their wrath in this case.

As I learned later it appeared that Varukh explained such conflict between the two races was commonplace, and so the Jedi decided not to interfere as such a thing would require violence. Interesting when they choose restraint I mused. As I reappeared beside them on the far side of the clearing I caught Q’alya shooting me a furtive glance. I puzzled on the notion that perhaps they were unused to people using the Force for stealth in such a way. I chose to ignore the silent query in her eyes.

Eventually we found the entrance to a series of natural caverns, which though Varukh was able to scramble into easily the rest of us could barely squeeze through. He led us through the caverns until we reached a section which had clearly been previously concealed, which passed down into an area of tunnels. The tunnels, though far from fine workmanship, was clearly man-made unlike the natural tunnels we had just come from. Varukh indicated that none of his people had proceeded any further than this.

We cleared the tunnels carefully and cautiously, ultimately finding the place was a loop with mostly collapsed passageways save for one. At the end of this passageway was an enormous heavy security door that had clearly fallen off it’s hinged during the upheaval that had revealed the area to the Noghri. Beyond the large door appeared to be some kind of doorway which was swirling with a black, almost viscous substance.

We puzzled on the next step for a few minutes, and it was decided I should attempt to open the doorway first. If the archway was somehow keyed to those with Dark Side affinity, it only made sense after all. Upon resting my palm on the doorway all reality vanished for a moment, and I was suddenly witnessing events from my past. I will not go into those details here, but suffice to say I was presented with an opportunity for vengeance I could not pass up. As I charged to achieve that which I sought with single-minded purpose, an explosion of energy suddenly sent me hurtling back from the panel. Q’alene had apparently decided what I was going through was intolerable and attempted to pull me away, sending us both backwards with some kind of electrical energy that our armor thankfully absorbed.

Q’alene counseled me that I was undergoing some kind of simulation, perhaps a test of sorts and if I could keep my wits about me I might be able to overcome the submersion of the thing, retain my awareness of what it was I was doing there and why. I pondered this for a while, the memory of Grale’s face burning in my mind. I wasn’t entirely sure I cared to “keep awareness of my surroundings”. I wanted Grale’s blood, obtaining it virtually hardly seemed a step in the wrong direction even if it didn’t matter in the long run. However I wasn’t entirely comfortable with some device manipulating my mind, so I tried it the Jedi’s way. I approached the panel, and with a great effort managed to keep my mind clear of the influence which blotted out all thinking.

As I came to Grale again, I instead asked him what he wanted. With a sneer I was flung back again from the panel. Clearly the door was keyed to action…not words.

The sisters took the opportunity as I lay on the ground to precede me now, believing they understood what was needed. It was decided Q’alene would go, hoping to open the way for the rest of us, and sparing us the “taint” or something. I ignored the implied insult in such a sentiment and allowed her to proceed. She passed through the archway easily enough, though I understood she had to do something she found distasteful to accomplish it. I went next and didn’t hold back this time.

The memory flashed through my mind and I reaped what I deserved from the body of my former master. When I was finished, I returned to myself and the doorway parted again to allow me entry. Q’alya went last, though apparently her experience was somewhat worse…she seemed shaken when she came through the doorway, and this time it remained open.

All of us now through, we began to inspect the items on pedestals inside the well-lit room. I attempted to not notice too hard the enormous Holocron that sat at the far end, clearly in the position of highest value and display. It appeared to be a thing of legend…something I had only heard about in stories. Sadly the Jedi knew its worth as well, and Q’alene approached it almost immediately. I contented myself to inspecting one of the ancient Sith blades of my forefathers. The thing positively thrummed with contained energy, and I almost for a moment wondered why they had forsaken such magnificent weapons for the ever-efficient lightsabers.

Our perusal of the vault did not last long however as we were suddenly interrupted by Grale himself walking into the vault escorted by several capable looking bounty hunters. He looked at me almost immediately, wondering what I was doing there. I smiled a knowing smile…he didn’t know I’d been following him. He didn’t know I knew.

It did not take long for his confusion to turn to outrage, and little longer after that before battle was joined. We managed to drive Grale off, though only barely I admitted through gritted teeth…my blood threatening to boil once again before I mastered myself. He would not be so lucky again…I would train harder than I ever had in my life so that the next time we met…and there would be a next time, he would have nowhere to hide.

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Session 2 - Q'Aleane Personal Journal

{Holocron: Begin Private Message}
{Holocron: Encrypt at highest level}

I am Tired.

Since the last time I recorded an actual journal, I have become a Jedi Knight with Q’ayla. I was finally able to spend time with Q’ayla but it is killing me how difficult it is not to share every detail of what has happened over the last year. I might have to share more about my time with the YV if only for my own sanity, but there is so much I am not ready to say about my ordeals, and I have been sworn to not reveal anything that could lead to the discovery of Zonama or my vow to aid the YV. Even to her.

Despite this, it was good to be with her again. Despite her own troubles, I would not have been able to weather this on my own.

As to what I had to weather, well lets see… in no particular order:

I am sitting next to and looking at a holocron that is said to be an ancient talisman of power and symbol of leadership for the ancient Sith. I am traveling with and perhaps even befriended one who is formerly (or perhaps still) of that order. I am following (chasing?) and attempting to help said Sith confront and kill his master. A master which I suspect could probably have killed us but somehow let us win… If what we did could be considered win. I am having to confront my own worse demons from a thrice-damned door handle of the Sith… and worse it had to go and remind me of my time with the YV and remind me how much I want to tell Q’ayla… once she stops hurting. After all she still remembers me dying and killing our master (who is still alive btw) as if she just did it.

Well this has to be the least organized my thoughts have been for a while. Good thing I decided to get these thoughts out before I wrote the report to the council. I need to convince them of what I know through the force. We need to stay with Irsin… I am not sure why but we do.

Lets start with Irsin. This is the bounty hunter from some of my previous reports… apparently he did train with the Imperial Knights, during which he was convinced by an outsider that his master had killed his mom. Causing him to go into a rage and kill him. After which he was recruited into the Sith order. Not the normal “rule of two” sith, but some ancient cut off order. After becoming a Saber (their version of Knight), he found out his Master had been the one to kill his mom. So he went rogue and has been chasing him down. Only to find out his mom hadn’t died back then but was only recently killed. I am starting to wonder if she is actually dead at all. Either way this master has fucked with him since he was a kid. No wonder he is mixed up, frustrated and full of anger.

Then there is the holocron. I don’t really need to go into it too far as I will explain it in my reports, but suffice it to say I am frankly curious about it and I know once I turn it over the chance of me ever seeing it again is well, slim at best.

Now the door handle. Well it really wasn’t a door handle but whatever it was it accessed our memories and gave us a hellish simulation backed up by the full power of the force making us believe it to be more than real all to test if we could follow the Sith way. I won’t record here what happened to my sister. I still have to think through it and help her get through it. But for me I was presented with a crowd of children and civilians intent on causing harm to the master shaper and a YV child. Even though I was able to force myself to remember it was a simulation… there were moments where the senseless bigotry left me infuriated and it became all the more difficult when it became clear I had to kill them all.

I was surprised at how angry I felt, even though I was able to control myself… after I feel dirty. It feels like while threading the needle between two black holes, a piece of myself got off center and was lost. I know it is just a temporary feeling but that makes it no less real.

Which brings me to my sister. Her loss seems so much greater, and I don’t know what to say. I would share how I was able to get through my pain, but how do I do that without being able to share the pain I have had to go through. She thinks I don’t talk about the pain because of my vows… It’s just that she doesn’t deserve to feel that pain and loss. No… for now I will keep it silent. In time I may be able to share my experiences, but not until she is well again. Now I just need to figure out how to help her get well again.

For now I have to draw upon that silent place I tapped into when I was cut off from the force, compose my thoughts and report to the council.

{Holocron: End Encrypt}
{Holocron: Archive, Private Access}

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Session 2 - Q’ayla Ren's Journal

{Holocron…GetDateTime=33:09:122ABY;23:27}
{Holocron…AccessQRAvatar=F}
{Holocron…AccessJournal=T}
{Holocron…BeginNewRecording.act}

< deep breaths >

I…

I can’t.

…not yet.

{Holocron…PauseRecording.act; 23:31}

{Holocron…ContinueRecording.act; 03:07}

< shuffling, sitting >
< long, deep breath >

This isn’t working.

I’ve been out there for hours – I thought if I practiced some old, familiar Makashi drills, I might be able to quiet my mind. Closing off my senses, losing myself in the form – each feint, each thrust – but no matter, I kept falling into Juyo. I can’t keep my emotions in check… Hopefully I didn’t wake Q’aleane… although, come to think of it, does she sleep anymore? <chuckles> …by the gods, there’s so much about her I don’t know anymore…

< sigh >

But that’s a separate matter entirely. And that’s not what has me up in the middle of the night sparring against flickering, flittering shadows. And I can’t keep hiding from myself like this. It’s not the Jedi way.

But…

But maybe I’m not really a Jedi.

What am I – really?

< deep breaths, then quietly, almost a whisper >

I… I killed him.

I killed Master Tahl. I struck him down… not in defense of myself, but in rage, and anger, and… and hatred.

Of course, Q’aleane keeps telling me – reminding me – that it wasn’t real. That it was only a vision, a simulation. But she doesn’t know, she doesn’t understand

Perhaps I should start at the beginning, in order for all of this to make sense.

We left Taris early yesterday morning, seeking Sith artifacts on Wayland. After acclimating myself to Q’aleane’s living ship, I decided to spend the voyage in the welcome company of my sister, sparring as we haven’t done for over a year now. It was good to be with her again, feeling her blades and her techniques almost as extensions of my own… it’s hard to explain, but Q’aleane and I have a connection that … well, let’s just put it this way: I haven’t felt entirely whole while we were apart this past year. So to be with her on board this strange, alien ship, crossing swords and catching up, it was both exhilarating and calming for me. I felt at home, and I felt … mostly content. I say “mostly” because Irsin – that is to say, “Roan” – was at the time still an unknown. Apparently, while we sparred, Q’aleane had her ship spy on him, and while doing so picked up a personal recording being created. And that’s when things went downhill for me.

“Roan,” as we found out, was… is… a member of the Sith Order.

I still remember how I felt when she told me – the hurt, the anger, the betrayal… not simply personal betrayal, mind you. I had vouched for “Roan” personally to the Council members, and now come to find out he’s a Sith…

Needless to say, the on-ship meal was… awkward.

“Roan” – oh what’s the use, I’ll just call him Irsin. His name is Irsin Rashos. So Irsin comes to the bridge, and as soon as the food is served, Q’aleane gets right to it … leave it to my diplomatic sister to confront a Sith like that! <chuckles> I guess it’s better than the alternative – I was absolutely ready to kill him – his initial manipulation at my attempt for a connection was enough provocation at the time. However, I must admit, what I heard next took me aback.

Apparently, Irsin was a member of the Imperial Knights, that much was true. However, he was himself manipulated by an outside agent – the man he is now hunting – to kill his Knight Commander for the crime of engineering a plot that had claimed the life of his parents. Truthfully, I cannot imagine the pain of losing a loved one… or, at least, I couldn’t until yesterday…in any case, this act drove Irsin from the Knights, and into the hands of the Sith Order, where he was trained by his manipulator – his master. After ascending to the rank of… Sith Saber I believe it was… Irsin was given information that implicated his own master in the death of his family. Not only that, his master had kept his mother alive all of these years, only to kill her recently in a disgusting display that I imagine is typical of the Sith. Driven by rage, Irsin left his Order on a personal mission and adopted the bounty hunter persona that led him into our present company.

To be perfectly honest, I was torn about this. On the one hand, Irsin is a Sith, and the Sith are the sworn enemy of the Jedi Order. There is enough historical evidence to illustrate the Sith’s destructive power over the galaxy, and here I am eating lunch with one! On the other, Irsin is obviously filled with rage, yet – there is something else. A loneliness, a sadness that speaks volumes about him, and his reaction to the life he has thus far lived. As a Jedi, I cannot ignore such self-deprecating thoughts and feelings. In the end, I deferred to Q’aleane’s diplomatic tendencies – despite a barb from Irsin about my apparent lack of independent thought and opinion, which both infuriated and hurt me… – and we decided to continue to Wayland and confront his master and then… well, and then go from there. I excused myself to my quarters to meditate on the situation, but I could not get one thing Q’aleane had mentioned during the conversation out of my head:

“To the Jedi, you (Irsin) have heretical beliefs, of which I too am guilty.”

After Irsin had returned to his own quarters, I decided to confront Q’aleane about this, and, to be honest, I was slightly unnerved by what she told me.

Apparently, Q’aleane does not believe in the Jedi’s view of the Force. In fact, she doesn’t even believe in our Miraluka teachings anymore, either. Instead of seeing the Force as both Light and Dark Sides, cosmically opposed, or as Ashla and Bogan, creation and destruction both necessary to the universe, she instead believes in what she calls “The Unifying Force”: There is no Light, no Dark. The Force simply is, and nothing more. The Force exists independent of context or intent, and it is the user who determines its application…

I haven’t had time to truly meditate on this new understanding that she somehow acquired from Zonama Sekot – though she intimated that the periods where I felt completely disconnected from her in the Force, which brought me great pain and anxiety, may have something to do with it. But even more shocking was that she would not tell me everything about her trip to Sekot. In fact, she freely admitted that there were things she could never tell me – her twin sister – about her time with the Yuuzhan Vong. I didn’t show it, but I was utterly devastated by this – Q’aleane and I have always been completely open with each other. As I’ve mentioned more than once in these personal accounts, we are like two parts of the same being. Now… now there are things she will not share with me, and it feels like a door being closed between a part of us… and then, with the archway and … and my memories…

< small sobs, then hard, deliberate sniffles >

…No, not yet. I can’t get into that yet. Not yet

So, as I already said, Q’aleane and I still have much to share – or not – about our time apart this past year, but as we were quickly approaching Wayland, our conversation had to be cut short. I will try to share more with her about Ansion at a later time, with the hope that she will open up to me once again…

Arriving on Wayland, we immediately traveled to the dwelling of the Noghri Maitrakh, to begin our investigation into Darth Sidious’ warehouse. After explaining both our situation and the possible identity of our quarry, the Maitrakh assigned a Noghri named Varukh to guide us on our journey. Varukh set off at a brisk pace, and lead us into the jungle. The trip was uneventful, save for two brief incidents. The first was my almost walking into a youngling Vong amphistaff, which, being outside my Force sight, was invisible and deadly. Thankfully, Irsin and Varukh saw it in time and held me back from its gaping maw. I will say, the stories about the Vong and their absence from the Force do no justice to the experience of blindness I felt at that moment – I have not often dwelled on how my Miraluka sight differs from that of other beings, but it is hard not to notice how different I am when I cannot see something directly in front of me. Regardless… the second incident was much less traumatic, though still sad in its own way. We encountered two species native to Wayland, locked in a battle to the death. Several smaller creatures were attacking a larger, and equally aggressive one – Varukh informed us that not only was this sight not unusual, but that this struggle was being played out between the two species all over the planet. Seeing no need to interrupt what seemed a cruel but typical conflict, we moved along stealthily towards our goal.

Arriving at a newly-forged tear in the side of Mount Tantiss, Varukh informed us that this was as far as the Noghri had ventured before sending word to Senator Thek. Together, we four entered the passage, and made our way deep underground, led by Varukh until we reached some kind of bunker-like structure. Upon opening the door, and checking thoroughly for any sign of traps – or foot traffic – we made our way though artificial hallways before finally discovering what appeared to be a vault. Surely, this is where Darth Sidious kept his Sith artifacts – and, while we were right about that much, we had no idea the price we would pay to discover them… or what awaited us on the other side.

Inside the vault door – already ripped down from its hinges and flung aside – we found an antechamber, at the back of which was an archway emblazoned by runes and symbols that we could not decipher, and blocking passage to the inner vault via a kind of dark energy barrier. Sending Varukh to wait outside the vault entrance, we searched the archway further and discovered a kind of control panel shaped like a hand. Noting the dark energy surrounding the place, Irsin offered to test the controls himself, and Q’aleane and I had no qualms. Irsin placed his hand on the arch, and after only a few moments, he stopped responding to us, seemingly far away, and yet still in the room. Through our Force sight, we could see the arch’s dark energy surrounding Irsin, and suddenly he screamed out and then groaned as in a rage. Q’aleane grabbed Irsin’s arm and pulled him away, and as soon as his hand moved from the arch, arcs of Force lightning sprang from the barrier, striking Irsin and, through him, Q’aleane. After they recovered – seemingly unharmed – Irsin’s initial anger at Q’aleane faded as she explained what had transpired. For his part, Irsin told us that he had been somewhere else, and had physically witnessed the murder of his mother at the hands of his master – though his body had not moved an inch, he assured us that this was utterly real. Q’aleane again assured him that the archway must be using simulations in order to achieve a desired response from the user – in this case, rage and violence. Convinced that he would not give in, Irsin attempted to open the barrier once more, but this time, his reluctance to participate caused another arc of lightning to strike him away from the arch. Perhaps as a means to protect Irsin, or simply because of her self-confidence, Q’aleane then offered to test the controls, attempting to hold onto her consciousness in order to distance herself from the arch’s desired effects. Although my sister also reacted to what she experienced, after several moments the energies binding the archway faded, and Q’aleane passed through unharmed. Immediately after passing, however, the energies returned, and Irsin and I remained on the other side, unable to communicate with Q’aleane. Frustrated, Irsin tried the controls a third time, and after the same cry of grief and scream of hate, his hand moved away, and the barrier dissipated once again – and like before, only for Irsin.

Now I was alone. And what happened when I placed my hand on the controls…

All I can say is that … my mind was not as strong as my sister’s.

I remember being on Bespin. I lifted my head from the ground, fires and explosions raging around me. I looked over to see Q’aleane and Master Tahl lying on the ground, and Navik the terrorist pinned against the back wall of the warehouse. As I stood up to approach the Rodian, however, a piece of the ceiling fell… and landed on Q’aleane… I could feel within my own mind her life force fleeting away, her small body crushed by the debris…

She was dying – there was nothing I could do.

She was dead.

I was dead.

I turned again to look at Navik – I could feel the emptiness in my mind, in my heart. I started towards him, each step kicking away tongues of flames lapping up at me. I drew my lightsaber, the sapphire blade springing to life in front of me. I raised the blade into a deadly shiak position, and pressed it forward towards the Rodian’s chest.

Instead of easily piercing his flesh, however, my blade was blocked by the familiar sword of Master Tahl. My master stood in front of me, a look of disappointment and sadness on his face… just like I remember… deactivating his blade, he simply looked at me and told me that I needed to remember the Jedi Code, that this wasn’t the way.

I stared back at him in complete shock, my mouth open but silent.

< slight sob >

How could he say that to me?! Q’aleane was dead – Navik had killed her… she was gone. A part of me was gone. I was half a person, looking into the eyes of my Jedi Master… my Jedi Father… and all he could tell me was to follow the Code?!

I told him to stand aside, that my sister would be avenged… he shook his head solemnly and told me that it was not my place to deal judgment. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, but I could feel the anger – the rage – building inside of me. I looked at Master Tahl, my face empty and dead behind my visor, and told him that if he would not move, then he never loved either of us.

< sobbing is louder now, building >

In the next moment, I was against his body, my saber hilt pressed hard against his chest, the purple blade piercing both my master and Navik, snuffing out their lives. Master Tahl said nothing, he just kept looking at me with that look… of failure… of disappointment… of utter sadness… then his body slumped down onto the ground as I deactivated my weapon. I looked down… weeping so loudly, so openly for him, for Q’aleane… for myself… when I heard a faint voice in my head … something about granting permission to enter… and in the next moment, I was back in the vault, stumbling forward and crashing into the ground on the other side…

< crying now, loudly >

…I couldn’t contain my emotions anymore, everything was flowing out. I remember someone taking hold of me, and looking up and seeing Q’aleane, but that just tore at my mind, and I shook my head violently, and sank against the wall where she led me. After several moments, I was finally able to collect myself, and Q’aleane tried to explain to me what had happened. It all seemed to make sense, but it was so real… no, it is so real. Q’aleane doesn’t understand… I know it was a simulation, but I now have two memories of the same event – the one I’ve always known, and now this new memory of how things played out… I don’t know how else to explain it…

< deliberate, hard sniffling >

Once I got to my feet and regained what I could of myself, we three began to investigate the inner vault. Inside, we found several artifacts – among them an ancient Sith sword which Irsin claimed, an ancient protosaber which I took for myself, and a large Holocron, which Q’aleane seemed to believe might be related to the legendary Telos Holocron. Before we could discuss our findings further, or even begin to collect them, we heard a voice behind us. Turning, we found ourselves face to face with Irsin’s former master, flanked by several bounty hunters. After confirming his part in the death of Irsin’s family, the Sith master and his hired guns engaged us. Irsin’s initial attempt to grenade his master failed utterly, and almost got himself killed, so we reverted to more… direct measures. I moved in quickly and engaged a bounty hunter, killing him after several direct blows. Q’aleane fended off grenade attacks from the remaining hunters, and Irsin moved to engage his former master, even though they were both invisible – even to me and Q’aleane! No sooner had I finished off the bounty hunter, that I felt a sharp, burning pain and looked down to see a crimson lightsaber tip protruding from my stomach… I remember screaming and calling out for Q’aleane, and then swinging my blade against something that I couldn’t see, hearing a groan out of nowhere, then seeing Irsin appear next to me and strike at the same spot before an incredible Force repulse sent us all reeling… I slammed against a wall and lay there drifting towards unconsciousness… The Sith master said something to Irsin and then… he just left. His final two bounty hunters followed behind, only to be killed by what we later found out was the incredibly lethal Varukh, who had been lying in wait for an ambush. Varukh brought medical supplies and began attending to me, and then Q’aleane administered her Jedi healing arts to me and Irsin. We then collected the Sith artifacts and returned to Q’aleane’s ship, though the trek back to the Noghri settlement was admittedly much more taxing after the battle we’d been in.

And now we’re en route to Taris with the artifacts. Q’aleane is preparing to give our report to the Council, and then we’ll figure out our next move.

Speaking of artifacts, this protosaber’s power pack is completely drained, but other than that, it looks fairly intact. I can’t wait to get back to the Academy, find a replacement power source, and really begin tinkering with this thing! Even if I can get it working again, I’m not sure I’ll use it all that much – I’d have to adapt my style to this tethered set-up – but still, what an incredible find!

…But I digress…

Once I had fully recovered from my wounds, I went to Irsin and told him that I respected his fighting ability, and was glad that he had been there during the battle. I also told him that I was sorry about his parents, and that we would find his former master and make him pay for what he had done. I’m not sure if it helped, but it was the best I could do… I’m still not sure what to make of Irsin, but Q’aleane is hopeful that he seeks redemption from his past, and perhaps we can assist him somehow in finding it.

Then I went to Q’aleane. I had to tell her about what happened at the archway. I told her everything, and she described her own vision to me. She told me – and continues to assure me – that it was only a simulation, and that none of it was real. She even suggested that I contact Master Tahl, if only to see that he in fact lives. I thought – well, think – it’s a good idea, but I just can’t bring myself to see him.

Not after what I did.

Not yet.

Between what happened at the arch and my near-death encounter inside the vault, my mind is filled with questions… concerns… fears.

What if Q’aleane is wrong about the simulation? What if it wasn’t simply a test?

What if it was a vision… a prophecy of what’s to come?

What am I? Am I a Jedi? Is this what I will become?

Q’aleane, my twin sister, is keeping things from me – distancing herself. And now I’ve felt what losing her is like.

Master Tahl… the Jedi Order… the Jedi Code… I’ve always wrestled with the Code and how it fits into my life. Now I’ve seen what its restrictions and tenets can bring out in me.

< sigh… deep breaths >

I should meditate on all of this… I’m just… so drained.

I feel… empty.

{Holocron…StopRecording.act}
{Holocron…SaveRecording"33:09:122ABY;23:27".act}

View
Session 2: Q'aleane Preliminary Report to Tarisian Jedi Council

Note: This is actually recorded after the private entry that will follow in a few days. (hopefully)

{Holocron: Begin Message to Tarisian Jedi Council}
{Holocron: Encrypt at highest level}
In the force, Knight Q’aleane Ren to Tarisian Jedi Council.

There is much to report and much that needs to be reported prior to our arrival and formal report to the council.

During the trip to Wayland we took the opportunity to seek understanding of our new traveling companion. The perception that he has been trained in the force is partially accurate. It turns out he had begun training with the Imperial Knights and due to the machinations of our current quarry was influenced into an act of rage that forced him from his path. I sense a great loneliness from him and much regret over the actions he was manipulated. It is my belief he has forced himself into loneliness through his profession (it is not uncommon for a bounty hunter to be aloof and separated from his fellows) in part over regret. There is still great anger towards his manipulator but I also sense great potential for change and great potential in the force if he is helped from his current despair initiated isolation. It is my intention to help him to the extent of my abilities. Some progress can be said to have already been made, but so far it is a fragile progress. More on this later in my report.

Once on Wayland and following protocol, we reported to the head woman of the tribe and she assigned us a guide. It was necessary for the safety of her people that we report to her the possibility and nature of our potential quarry so her people could be prepared.

We were led over a large area of forest to our goal, briefly encountering a battle between two of the native population. From my understanding it is regrettably common and contributing to the near extinction of both races. It was not something that anyone would benefit from to interfere or as our guide put it “there have been attempts to keep them from killing each other but the only way to do so is to physically keep them apart”. So we proceeded in stealth.

After a time through caves we came to a man made complex. After briefly exploring the grounds of this complex, we discovered the entrance to the vault. I asked our guide to remain outside the vault so he would not be exposed to whatever darkness we found within.

The entry way was a source of great difficulty. Through difficulty, however, much can be learned and much progress can be made. On entry, we were presented with a force wall (both in function and in source) and a locking mechanism that seemed to draw its power from the force.

Our companion decided to be the first to try the lock mechanism, a mechanism that turned out to itself hold much danger. His first attempt through we heard one half of what he experienced. Piecing together with the information we gleaned later, its nature can be elaborated on. At first he seemed cognizant of what he was experiencing, it became clear that the mechanism began accessing memory and eventually he ended up in a simulation, though simulation is a poor word for what was experienced. For our part we observed him engulfed in a great dark power. We still heard his voice as he progressed and at one point he screamed out in both pain and rage at which time I pulled him out.

Once he came back to himself and his surroundings, he explained that he was presented with a scenario that felt more than real… so much so that at the time no memory of not being in that experience could exist and no doubt of its realness was allowed to exist. It also seemed to magnify and intensify strong emotions. Given what he said I guided him to remember who he was and to separate himself from his emotions and maintain a peaceful core. I had hoped that he would be able to do so at least in part as it would confirm my feelings of his potential. Though I would have preferred this potential be honed in some other (any other) scenario, this was the path we were presented with. He exceeded my expectations, regrettably the mechanism sought a different outcome than peace and lack of emotion / action and expelled him.

It became clear to me then that the mechanism was a test wherein someone had to show resolve towards actions it deemed appropriate. The actions of rage, anger, power and death are what it sought. Determined to protect both him and my sister from this darkness, I proceeded myself.

The simulations power was so very strong. It took every shred of my own discipline and knowledge of self to maintain awareness and peace. To use an analogy, it felt like it must feel to pilot a starship through the needle between two close black holes without computer or drawing on the force. Any slight deviation in thought or action and you would be caught in its web and loose your connection to reality. And due to being subsumed in a dark expression of that force, you could not rely or use the guidance the force could give for fear said guidance would be tainted by the source of power you could draw upon. That I was able to do so at all was a testament to my masters and the order. That he was able to do so seems a small miracle and is a great testament to his potential.

The simulation I was presented to was one of the primal questions. What would you do in the protection of innocents. Not concerning your well being, as any Padawan of our order would be willing to sacrifice their body to protect even one innocent from harm. This is the question of how do you protect the innocent from a large number of people whose only fear is the unknown and whose only crime is ignorance. It is a problem that I would hope if it were to happen for real I would be able to deal with in peace though words and the force… but the simulation did not want words nor did it want peace. I knew the possible options it wanted and chose the one that I could remain as far detached from and accomplished it using my lightsaber instead of drawing on the force to lessen the darkness I was exposed to. Even with those precautions and my awareness it was nothing but a simulation, I am still disturbed by the memories and predict that I will be spending more time in meditation before I am rid of them and their influence.

Once accomplished, the door opened. Would that it had opened permanently but somehow the door must have sensed our numbers, as it did not open permanently until all of us had experienced the mechanism’s tests. My companion’s tests and trials are their own to reveal or not to reveal as they wish, but I perceive I will be spending much time with my sister soothing and healing her after what she experienced.

While exploring the vault and recovering from the entry mechanism, the Sith Master entered and began to attempt to make us one with the force. We were only able to survive through the will of the force, and even then barely. A more detailed account of the battle can be found later in my detailed notes, but suffice it to say, we won… which is to say we survived and the Sith decided to leave of his own accord.

Please find attached a list of items recovered from the vault (( PC NOTE: list includes everything except Sith Sword )). Q’ayla has been given possession of the prototype lightsaber for study. The remaining items have been secured in my cabin.

No doubt an item listed has caught your attention due to its resemblance to another such artifact recovered in the past. I will be cautiously attempting to validate its nature by attempting to download historical data only from it. If it is what I suspect, we will need additional assistance at the landing port in order to protect us and the artifact from outside interference and perhaps most importantly the outside from the artifact. Due to the nature of our Sith foe, I would prefer to surrender the item to the assembled council as he has shown an aptitude for invisibly and I cannot assume he has not also mastered some ability to befuddle the mind and make it seem like he is someone else.

I will also be allowing our companion to borrow the captain’s skiff to allow him to begin investigating the location of the Sith Master unencumbered by two obvious Jedi. This is also a benefit due to it keeping him out of the area (for his own protection) while the items are brought to the council.

This brings me to a topic that I am feeling drawn to in the force. I feel that great good can come from continuing the relationship with our bounty hunter ally for the time being. Perhaps in time with the right encouragement he will ask to finish his training and join the order, if not at least we can help him with his turmoil and bring him to peace with the force. Due to that I would ask that be allowed to continue the missions involving and surrounding this Sith Master which would give us an opportunity to continue to work with him.

May the force be with us.
{Holocron: Attach Full Report}
{Holocron: End Encrypt}
{Holocron: Send Message to Tarisian Jedi Council via Holonet Link}

View
Session 2
Chapter 1.2: Journey Into Shadows

33:09:122 ABY

Clearance for takeoff is granted by Taris Central Control and the strange hybrid ship lifts off from its launch bay, arcing up into the sky over the spires of the world-city. You see the landscape surrounding you on all sides drop away, and feel the strange thrumming of the devices that power the ship through the floor beneath your feet.

As Taris drops away behind you, Q’aleane plots a course for Wayland and engages the jump into hyperspace. The trip will take several hours.

View
Session 1: Irsin Rashos Journal Entries

From the private Journals of Irsin Rashos
15:09:122 ABY

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
19:09:122 ABY

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
30:09:122 ABY

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
31:09:122 ABY

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…

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Session 1 - Q’ayla Ren's Journal

{Holocron…GetDateTime=29:09:122ABY;22:00}
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I am a Jedi Knight.

Wait, let me hear that again…

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[playback] I am a Jedi Knight.

Wait, let-[stop]

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Yep – that sounds pretty good.

<sigh>

What a day, though. I’m just getting back to my room, and there’s so much to talk about! The knighting ceremony – Master Ang was able to make it from Ossus, and it was so good to see him again! The ceremony itself was humbling to say the least, but I also felt so much pride to be standing amongst the Council as a full Knight of the Jedi. No matter how much my personal beliefs might stand in conflict with the Jedi Code, I was reminded today of how honored I am to call these people my teachers, comrades, and friends.

Hmm, let’s see… Q’aleane’s Padawan braid was gone, which she still hasn’t fully explained to me yet. Instead, she used a stand-in during the knighting ceremony… it was weird. Oh, and we got to see mother and father at the reception afterwards. Mother, in particular, kept looking at me funny, until I realized I was still in “Jedi Mode,” and let my guard down some – once I knew Master Tahl wasn’t around! I forget that there are some people in the galaxy who know me from before my time with the Jedi – I just don’t get to see them very often (Q’aleane included, unfortunately!). And it was so good to see Q’aleane and my parents again. I hope that a visit to Alpheridies can be planned – although it’s not likely to be in the near future…

Speaking of which, the Ren twins have our first mission! This evening, the Council assigned us to protect Senator Bail Thek of Taris, who is returning home while the Senate is on recess. Apparently, there was an assassination attempt on Coruscant, and the Senator has requested Jedi assistance while staying on Taris. I’m really excited for this assignment, but also pretty nervous; after all, this is my first real assignment as a Jedi Knight! … I mean, I know things on Ansion went well, but this is different… although, I’ll be working with Q’aleane again, so that’s something to look forward to!

Anyways, I’d best keep this short – we’re meeting Senator Thek tomorrow, and this Jedi Knight needs to be at her best.

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{Holocron…GetDateTime=31:09:122ABY;01:30}
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BY THE FORCE! [auto-volume-adjust]

<deep-breaths>

…Sorry about that.

You know what? I don’t even know where to begin. This day – although I realize now it’s technically tomorrow – has been one thing after another. I honestly don’t have the energy to go over all of it, but needless to say, Senator Thek has not made our mandate of protection easy! Here are some of the things I’ve had to put up with today:

1. The Senator had private meetings that Q’aleane and I were not allowed to attend! I mean, I know what Q’aleane said is true; the Senator does business that we cannot be privy to, but honestly!
2. For a man of power and influence – and with one assassination attempt under his belt – the Senator apparently does not believe in living with any kind of sophisticated security.
3. Again, despite having his life at risk, the Senator is a man of tradition. Specifically, this tradition meant that I’d spend my evening escorting him around town, from a rowdy, noisy, and packed club, to a quieter singles bar. There was almost an incident at the club, but thankfully, Q’aleane had already sensed it, and I had time to act and keep the Senator from being assaulted by an Arkanian.
4. Finally, despite both of our efforts, the Senator thought the best course of action would be bringing a stranger back to his apartment for the night…

…this final point does deserve some elaboration, as it defined the rest of the night. This stranger, a Falleen woman named Xora, had already made Q’aleane uneasy. That should have been the end of it, and I tried to get that point across to the Senator. But, he was probably too drunk – or aroused – to care, and so she joined us back at the Senator’s home. While we waited for … well, whatever was going to happen, I got a sudden sense from Q’aleane. Keeping half of my attention on the Senator, I exited the apartment to find my sister facing down a fully-armored bounty hunter – who happened to be Force sensitive! This bounty hunter, whose name is Roan, informed us that the Senator was in grave danger from this Xora woman, so I rushed back into the apartment, and stormed into the bedroom, only to find the Senator in the process of giving her a datapad. Immediately, I commanded them to drop what they held, stand up, and not move. And that should have been the end of it. After all, most people listen to the end of a lightsaber.

But not Xora.

And… it was my fault. I wasn’t concentrating enough, even though my senses were heightened. The next thing I knew, she had launched some kind of tiny, trapping grenade at me. I tried to parry it, but … I missed. <sigh> I can still see it coming at me, and moving my blade to meet it… I just missed it. And I don’t like missing. So, while I was busy cutting at these tanglers, Q’aleane and Roan moved into the room and engaged Xora. She grabbed the datapad from the Senator, and then made for the balcony, off of which was a speeder – most likely hers. Roan was able to get a shot off that hit her square in the back, but to all of our surprise, her clothing was armored. Unfortunately for her, her clothing did not cover her whole body. Q’aleane was on her in an instant, and – shockingly enough for me – my sister used her lightsaber to slice of Xora’s arm, the datapad still gripped in her hand. And then I cut through my bonds, and moved in as well… and my blade found her leg, crippling her… and killing her…

<deep-breaths>

I know it was wrong. And I know how Master Tahl would have reacted if he had been there… I just… it was just like Bespin all over again. There was just this woman, and there was me. And I had to stop her from escaping, or from doing further harm to anyone else in that room. The next thing I knew, my blade flashed off, and Q’aleane was on the floor trying to resuscitate Xora. Thankfully, she was able to, and we moved everyone back to the Taris Academy to fully restore our victim, while continuing to protect the Senator. We also were debriefed by Master Jeisel… which, considering the gravity of our actions, was not as bad as I feared it would be – and it would have been bad if Master Tahl… well, thankfully he wasn’t there, although I’m sure he’s heard by now…

With Q’aleane off filing her formal report of the day’s events, I decided to try and get to know Roan better while I escorted him from the Academy. I learned two important things about Roan tonight: he is not very talkative, though he seems pleasant enough for a bounty hunter… and his face is being obscured by holographic technology. Okay, that’s actually three things, but… anyways, I of course didn’t mention his face to him, but I also haven’t mentioned it to Q’aleane yet. I don’t really believe in coincidence, and the fact that Roan is a Force sensitive, and somehow tied into all of this… well, I don’t want to arouse any suspicions until I get a better idea of what his mission might be, and what his intentions are going forward. I’m sure once Xora regains consciousness, I’ll learn more about our mysterious new companion.

…And that is going to do it for tonight. I’m dead tired, and I still need to meditate on my impulsive and …dangerous behavior from earlier this evening. This mission, my actions… I am uneasy to say the least.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I’m going to need to reschedule Padawan Ward’s Shien lesson from first thing tomorrow – well, now this morning…

<datapad-noises>

…Alright, message sent – we’ll get around to it as soon as I’m through with this mission. And trust me when I say: he needs it; that reverse-grip Shien is only slowing him down, and doing him no favors…

No, none of that now. Signing off – time for meditation.

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It’s been a busy two days since my last entry, and things are about to get much, much busier, so this entry will have to be short. Which reminds me…

<datapad-noises>

Sorry, Master Onasi – I’m afraid I won’t be able to help tutor the Padawans, at least for the time being.

Instead, Q’aleane, Roan, and I are headed for Wayland. To possibly intercept the Sith in their plot to uncover new sections of Darth Sidious’ storehouse there.

<sigh> Yeah, I know. It’s still a lot for me to take in.

Needless to say, the person who hired Xora to assassinate the Senator and recover his datapad – who is also the person Roan is hunting – may be a member of a splinter group of Sith. And, speaking of Roan – no, I haven’t asked him about his holoface yet. But, once we leave Taris, I intend to talk with him more. Anyways, speaking of Roan, we did find out that he’s a Zeltron after he tried to coerce Xora by affecting her emotions without the Force. Also, his intentions towards her – and most especially the person who hired her – seem quite dangerous. However, I believe he has his reasons. I know the Council considers Roan dangerous, and darkness does surround him, but I feel – although I freely admit that my empathy isn’t as powerful as Q’aleane’s – I feel that Roan has an important part to play in what is to come. And he hasn’t yet done something to make me question his honor… although the Council pointed out that as a Zeltron, he could affect our emotions as he did with Xora. I don’t believe this has yet happened – instead, I hope that Roan proves himself a true companion, as I would very much like to get to know him more.

We leave Taris tomorrow, and this will be my first voyage in Q’aleane’s ‘living ship.’ Hopefully it doesn’t eat me while I’m meditating <laughs>! While this new assignment from the Council is potentially the most dangerous thing we’ve ever attempted, I am greatly looking forward to spending more time with Q’aleane – the year apart from her was not easy for me, and a trip into Sith-infested Wayland seems like the perfect time to catch up! <snickering>

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Session 1 - Q'aleane Report to Tarisian Jedi Council #2

Report to the Tarisian Jedi Council (date: 32:09:122)
After Action Report
Primaries:

  1. Knight Q’aleane Ren (author)
  2. Knight Q’ayla Ren

Several days since the incident involving the bounty hunter Xora have passed. She has regained some consciousness. Upon regaining consciousness, I notified Bounty Hunter Roan and it was decided that despite being uncommunicative (due to bacta tank submersion) we would attempt to question her on what we could restrict to yes or no questions.

Personal Notes (not in submitted report)
Upon coming out of unconsciousness, she reacted with much fear to my presence. This is regrettable, I often forget how much pain effects people due to my high tolerance of it, I will have to make better tactical decisions around this in the future.

Initially Bounty Hunter Roan lead the questioning since he had specific questions he needed answers to. While observing the emotional state of the patient, it became clear that through some method that did not leave echos through the force, Roan was manipulating the patient’s emotions directly. The patient was exhibiting (among others) abject fear, complete confusion, and analytical calm in too short a period to be anything other than direct manipulation. Since the patient had become completely non-responsive and because continued questioning under whatever technique Roan was using seemed potentially dangerous, I took over.

Despite the natural resistance of the Falleen, I was able to convince her through the force that it would be in her best interest to answer our questions. Through this questioning we were able to determine:

  • She was hired in person
  • She did not know details of her employer
  • She was hired to obtain the data on the hidden caves from the datapad and to kill the senator
  • She was to relay the information to a hypernet address
  • Other than that she does not know how to get into contact with her employer
  • She was unaware of the other bounty hunter hired or their mission
  • She was unaware of the droid
  • Her employer was indeed the person Roan was looking for (provided holovid capture attached)

As an aside, Roan’s intent with his target seem to be likely to result in violence.

After the interrogation, I inquired after Roan’s abilities in manipulating emotions. He revealed that it is a natural trait of his species which he revealed is Zeltron (he has not yet taken off his helmet in our presence and due to our color blindness, we were unable to see anything except humanoid appearance). He also revealed he had received some force training in imperial space. (The working assumption seems to be that he is a failed imperial knight, but that is not certain.)

We agreed that for the time being that we would work with Roan to find his target. I partially suggested this because of resources and a common goal, but primarily as a way of keeping track of Roan and making sure we don’t get in each other’s way.

Showing the picture to both the senator and his aide resulted in no recognition. I verbally debriefed Master Thanis D’Vorn and inquired if he could use his law enforcement connections to research the picture.

Personal Notes (not in submitted report)
It appears that this report struck a nerve as we were called before the Council within three hours. The picture we submitted had tattoos that indicated he was a Sith Master. It is likely that this is a member of that lost Sith order Master Skywalker revealed 80 years ago. I wonder if they are finally revealing themselves.

In addition my sister noticed that Roan was using a holoprojector to hide his identity even while wearing a helmet. While suspicious, it is not enough to warrant direct intervention, but a good excuse for further study. I obtained permission to continue to work with him. We were advised to be careful both because there is darkness in his aura and because of his natural abilities.

We were re-assigned off of protection detail and sent to Wayland to evaluate and recover any critical material from the discovered complex before the sith do. I am hoping to discover more information about Roan in our trip and look forward to spending some quality time on my ship.

I am used to my sister’s naturally emotional state, but I am worried she is slightly on edge about something. Maybe it was just the frustration of protecting someone which (in her words) didn’t seem to be too invested in their own wellbeing. Maybe this mission together will allow us to reconnect and reground.

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Session 1 - Q'aleane Report to Tarisian Jedi Council #1

Report to the Tarisian Jedi Council (date: 30:09:122)
After Action Report
Primaries:

  1. Knight Q’aleane Ren (author)
  2. Knight Q’ayla Ren

Personal Note (not in submitted report)
This is our first assignment. Regrettably with having been on Zonama Sekot just days ago, I haven’t had a lot of time to spend either with my sister or the ship. The trials were fun but I am sure a lot of that was that since I was officially (unofficially?) already a Knight, the pressure wasn’t there.

The reception and ceremony were nice, but it really didn’t give us time to talk. Not having spoken to her in a year, I hope we get some off world assignment soon so we can catch up completely without having to worry about all the ears the temple has.

After Senator Bail Thek’s arrival, we met with the senator and discussed the parameters of our mandate. He wanted assurances of our discretion and I assured him that our mandate was protection and that discretion would not be a problem. He also needed to set some ground rules for certain types of meetings, namely that there would be times that we would need to be outside the room. I discussed that when appropriate he may want to consider having one of us in the room facing away from the meeting and with sound protection to maintain his privacy but still give a greater reaction time if something were to go wrong. He said he would consider it, but that there would be some that even that would not be appropriate for. I found no fault in his reasoning nor duplicity and do not feel this will inordinately hinder our mandate so agreed.

After a day of meetings (typical diplomatic and bureaucratic), we returned to the senator’s place. On arriving I evaluated the current security as sub-par (single non-trained receptionist, limited coverage with cameras, limited access restriction on elevators and only basic border security in the senator’s suite). I later obtained video of the last few days from the security chief (appeared to be ex-police or military) for review later.

On arrival, the senator suggested that it is his routine to go out on a night on the town. My sister was understandably worried about the difficulty in protecting the senator through this kind of situation. While sharing her concerns, I pointed out the potential political need to be seen as a man of the people and to re-invigorate a more personal perspective on the lives of his charges. I suggested that I would be given a few minutes to go ahead and feel the place out and evaluate security concerns before the senator and my sister arrive.

The first place was a dancing establishment with loud music and many movements. I questioned a bouncer as to the current ‘flavor’ of action (rough types, etc) and it seemed like a loud but relatively benign crowd. I then settled in to search through the force for intent, hostility, and dangerous situations. After the senator and my sister arrived, I perceived one vision of a potential threat and relayed it to my sister which appears to have helped divert a misunderstanding with a particularly rowdy dancer who seemed intent on starting a bar fight.

After a while we retreated to a singles bar. This place was much quieter with less direct security risks, so we repeated the same techniques. While sensing a new arrival (later identified as Xora), I picked up no emotional state at all (no expectation, joy, depression, cheer or any of the other emotions you would expect of any patron going to such a place). I warned my sister and attempted to subtly warn the senator (to no effect). I picked up no direct emotions or intent for harm from her so at this point I was only wary. My sister took up station beside her in an attempt to dissuade her from any foolish action. The senator and her hit it off.

On returning to the senator’s place, I again acted as forward guard, and once the rest arrived took up sentry duty outside of the apartment while my sister took up direct protection duties of the senator and his date.

During the evening, a bounty hunter later identified as Roan came out of the elevator and approached. I activated light sabers both as a defensive measure and as a declaration of protection. He made signs that he was not there for conflict so I deactivated and proceeded to talk to him. My senses showed him as a strong in the force. I did not have time for a more detailed analysis.

He claimed to have information that the woman was in fact a bounty hunter who meant the senator harm. His intent appeared to be the questioning of said bounty hunter who had information on the man he was looking for.

I asked my sister to retrieve the woman and check on the well-being of the senator and had the bounty hunter remain in the public area of the apartment. I positioned myself between the bedroom suite and the bounty hunter in case it was in fact the bounty hunter who was targeting the senator while my sister attempted to retrieve the senator.

From her recounts, the senator was in the process of giving information to the woman and once announced, the woman launched a mini-tangler grenade and bound my sister. On sensing the commotion, I put myself in position to protect the senator and attempt to force the bounty huntress to surrender. Instead she grabbed the datapad and made her way to the balcony to escape (a hovercraft awaited her outside the balcony). Due to the situation, the only reliable method I had to retrieve the stolen information and potentially subdue the thief was to retrieve the datapad through direct force. I got in a very clean hit on her arm and took the information out of play. I had hoped that would be sufficient to convince her to surrender. It was not.

My sister (now free from the grenade) then attempted to disable her leg, this resulted in cardiac arrest. I was able to resuscitate her and we decided to return to the temple to both heal the thief and plan for more secure quarters for the senator. I made sure that the security detail brought both her and her arm for re-attachment in bacta.

As we were leaving a lone droid flew off from outside the balcony. This would indicate to me that the disposition of the bounty hunter and end result was observed. Also roan was able to supply information that another bounty hunter was hired at the same time as this one (three days prior) but is unaware of that one’s mission.

The datapad contained a senatorial communique about a cave system leading to man-made tunnels on Wayland that could potentially be connected in some way to a storage area created by Darth Sidious.

Once in the temple, she was secured in the medbay, and I was able to give a verbal debrief to Master Vilmarh Jeisel.

End Initial Report

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Session 1
Chapter I: The Gathering Darkness

29:09:122 ABY
Adventure opens with the Ren sisters’ formal Knighting ceremony. Gathered there are all the members of the Tarisian Council, Master Tahl, Master Kopos, Master Zatoq, and Master Ang. Master Ixlis calls the ceremony to order with these words,

We are all Jedi. The Force speaks through us. Through our actions, the Force proclaims itself and what is real. Today we are here to acknowledge what the Force has proclaimed.

Master Tahl steps forward to stand before them, and the two return their training sabers to their master: each is asked to ignite their newly constructed saber and cross blades with their master, then hand over the old blade. Master Tahl accepts them and steps back into the circle with the other masters.

At that point, they are asked to kneel. All the masters in the circle ignite their sabers at once as Master Ixlis steps forward with his and says,

By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force, I dub thee, Knight of the Alliance.

As he says this, he places his saber by their right ear and severs their padawan braid (in Q’aleane’s case, the stand-in). Each picks up the fallen braid, turns, and makes their way out of the room. As they reach the door, the circle of sabers all shut down, and the room is plunged into darkness.

Outside, there is a small reception being held in their honor. Some other knights and older padawans the twins know from their years of training are present, as are their parents. Everyone is joined after a few moments by the masters, and the pair are congratulated and toasted. This goes on for perhaps an hour before quietly breaking up. Their parents congratulate them one more time and urge the pair to visit home when they can.

Afterwards, they are summoned to the Council chambers and asked if they are prepared for their first mission as Knights. The Taris Council has recently received word from the High Council on Coruscant that Senator Bail Thek of Taris requires Jedi protection while he returns to his home system during the current Senate recess. He was recently attacked en route to his Coruscant residence in an assassination attempt. Though the attack was unsuccessful, he lost his chief of security and two guards in the incident. He immediately requested Jedi protection from the High Council, which was provided in the form of Master Sarin Karrde and his young padawan, Oola Vao. Now, with the Senate in recess and most of its members returning to their home systems, Master Karrde wishes to use the time to continue his investigation into the attack. Normally, he would send his padawan with the Senator, but she is too young to be taking solo missions just yet. So, the High Council has requested that the Taris Academy provide interim replacements while the Senator is here. Coruscant’s local authorities believe a repeat attempt is unlikely, as it has been weeks since the first attack and no sign of a follow-up. Master Karrde is less confident of the Senator’s safety. Senator Thek is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, and the Council would like the Ren twins to meet him there.

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