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