Tides of Change
Prologue: The Waves Begin
The Citadel, Selen
Legorii Arconae recognized little of his Clan’s throne room any longer.
Where once shadows presided, warm light filled the room, soft music constantly humming from within. Braziers burning gold, blue, crimson, and purple lined the walls, the main walkway, the empty spaces of the chamber. Wreaths of fresh foliage twined their way up all the pillars, native vines and flowers carefully arranged by some droll decorator or another. At the far end of the hall, an immense set of steps led up to a regal dias backed by leaping flames that shifted from lavender to white and back again. Before the flames, atop the dais, rested a throne of coiled serpents and sharp edges.
In the throne’s seat lounged a white-haired, blindfolded woman in pale blue robes. She wore a soft smile, features relaxed and head tipped back in quiet joy, as if lifting her face to a pleasant summer breeze.
“No wonder Marick never sat here,” Atyiru Caesura Entar murmured, breaking the deeper silence between the two of them. “I can feel…everyone. It’s almost overwhelming. He would’ve hated it.”
“He had his preferences,” the Anzat said neutrally, red eyes narrowing as they fixed on his Consul.
“And you have yours,” the Miraluka replied. She turned her head. “I don’t need the Throne to feel your dissatisfaction, Legorii. I can sense it from across the compound. When exactly are you going to tell me what’s got your proboscis in a knot, my friend? I’ve never know you to keep your counsel silent.”
The Anzat looked around the chamber slowly again, as if acknowledging all the changes one by one. Then, he settled his eyes back on his new Consul and wrinkled his bulbous nose as if he smelled something vile without a word.
“Yes, but tell me how you really feel,” Atyiru chirped, knitting her brow into an exaggerated scowl.
“I think there are more…pressing matters. Agree or disagree with Marick’s approach to the Throne, his methods bore results.”
Atyiru folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow, challenging the Anzat to continue to deflecting onto her predecessor.
“Not to say that your efforts have not been effective,” Legorii added blandly.
The recently anointed Arconae had served Arcona longer than anyone currently standing on the Arcona Summit. He had dealt with madmen, pariahs, heroes, and martyrs all. He could handle an overly-enthusiastic woman. Still, fatigue had started to tear at the corners of his sanity.
“What do you suggest then?” the Shadow Lady asked, tone changing to something more encouraging.
“We need something to focus on. A te—”
“—Don’t you dare say the word “test.’”
“—temporary goal,” the Proconsul finished his sentence with a slight curl of his lips. “Something for them to focus on.”
“I often wish peace was enough for once. It certainly takes more effort. Isn’t that something to focus on?” Atyiru sighed, even though her voice indicated knew the answer.
“Peace is a lie, Atyiru. Look around you—”
The Miraluka waved her hand in front of her blindfold.
Legorii took a breath and exhaled slowly through his wide nostrils before finishing. “They need something more. Anything.”
Atyiru nodded once, and then smiled warmly at her Proconsul. “I will work towards it. Thank you for your insight, my friend.”
The Citadel, Selen
“I am utterly bored.”
“That is unfortunate, my Lady.”
“We must remedy this.”
“I believe it would be best to remedy that particular problem after your reports are finished, ma’am.”
“I’d have to advise against it, my Lady.”
“Oh, come now, just a quick break from the reports. It’s been nearly six hours. I’ll go speak with my people! Hear their concerns!”
“The last time you did that, ma’am, I had to pull you out of a bar fight you and your ‘people’ incited.”
“It was one time—”
“Oh my goodness, Bly, must you keep track of everything?”
“It’s my job, my Lady.”
“Boo,” the Shadow Lady grumbled, lifting another datapad from her stack in defeat. Just as she did so, the communicator in her desk beeped rapidly.
Atyiru raised her brows, a smile creeping wide across her face. Captain Bly glanced away, straightening professionally.
The comm beeped again.
“I should get that,” the Miraluka said smugly, tabbing the activation switch. A small hologram of a teal-eyed, fairly muscled figure appeared, his grin bright and kind, his garb that of a simple man.
“Hey there, sista,” the holo greeted.
Atyiru gave a small squeal, clapping her hands together. “Turel! My friend! I’ve been so concerned for you, bumblefluff! What’ve you been doing since you last checked in? How’s New Tython? Did you meet any girls? Boys? Tell me everything.”
Turel Sorenn chuckled sheepishly, his computerized miniature rubbing the back of his neck. “We can catch up, sure, but I was actually hoping to talk about something else first. I’m calling to liaison with Arcona…on behalf of Odan-Urr.”
The Consul straightened in her seat, smile fading as her face grew solemn. “I see. Captain Bly,” she turned to address the man briefly. “Please clear the room and summon the summit to the courtyard chambers.”
“Yes, my Lady,” the captain replied, bowing before he waved to his men and left the office.
Atyiru aimed a gentle expression back at the holocommunicator. “Now, Turel…you have my attention.”
“This is an official message on behalf of High Councillor A’lora Kituri. We’d like to formally request your help.”
“Tell me everything.”
The Citadel, Selen
“Ya can’t make my frakkin’ life easy, can ya, Atts? O’sik.”
“Oh, hush, my friend. You’d be terribly bored without me.”
“Don’t be so frakkin’ relaxed ‘bout this! They’re gonna kill ya, and if ya don’ realize that, yer dummer than I thought.”
“Two things, Jax,” the Miraluka held up two slim, calloused fingers. “For one, don’t be so pessimistic! For two, you’re going to have to specify who, exactly, would want to be getting stabby with me. And for three—”
“Woman, ya jus’ said it was two karking things.”
“Yes, but three is a more proper number, so kindly shut up,” sniffed the Consul, raising a third finger. “For three, I’m perfectly aware some of our people will be unhappy.”
“We’re already unhappy,” Strategos Entar Arconae said cheerily, a glass of brandy in hand. “Have you seen the dismal lack of a liquor collection in here?”
“Noooope! Haven’t seen a thing.”
Arcia Cortel’s glare was icy and flat. “Atyiru, can you not?” she asked, though her tone implied a few extra expletives.
“What? I’m serious, Arcy.”
“Hi serious, I’m Ernordeth,” the Galeres Aedile muttered, earning himself a sharp look from his Quaestor that carried the promise of airlocks. Valtiere snorted at his colleagues’ antics.
“Sister,” Timeros stated, his dispassionate tones cutting through the growing tension like a fine plasma blade. “I suggest you arrange measures to guard your person, in the event that you neglect your training. Again.”
“We stand ready to guard your body,” Celevon volunteered, the Qel-Droman speaking for his many associates, shadowy and otherwise.
“I’ll kill anyone that gets in our way,” Skar snarled from behind his mask. Rhiann merely gave a sniff, needing no more to convey her cold willingness to do horrible things to their enemies.
“Calm yourself. A good commander knows better,” Uji sighed. For some reason, the Nighthawk captain always seemed to be offering the Kaleesh advice, like a long lost relative. Next to him, Soulfire’s leader merely rolled his eyes and flicked his bangs out of his face.
“Oi, I know bet—”
“Silence!” Atyiru cried, standing from her single chair with a ruffle of fabric. All her teasing manner was gone. “If we cannot do any more than squabble and bicker here, then we will accomplish nothing for this Clan. Is Arcona not what unites us?”
“Arcona is everything,” Legorii hissed, finally speaking up.
“And we’re the best,” Nadrin added, as if that made all their troubles perfectly untroublesome.
Atyiru exhaled, then smiled at her gathered summit, gently, and gestured out towards the cityscape. “What do you all think I see out there?”
“Frak all,” Jax commented.
The Miraluka threw back her head and laughed. “Ah, that’s a good one, and fair. But you know what I meant.”
“Look, Atts, I ain’t about ta speak for ya or any of the sparkfingers in here,” the Fade’s eyes flickered around, unintimidated by the cadre of powerful Dark Jedi. “But me? When I look out there, I see a planet and a city and some people, some normal, some freaks like you.”
“So you just see…whatever? A city with people?”
“Ain’t anything but that, and if ya try to make it all philosophical and the like, then yer brains are made of bantha fodder.”
Several of the Arconans snorted.
“It could be argued that you’re no smarter for judging so,” Atyiru said, shaking her head. She gave another quiet sigh. “The world is changing, my friends. I met so many…dark people when I came to the Brotherhood. People whose spirits festered with anger and greed and pride. But you know what? Few have I met that had nothing but darkness to them. And Arcona…I came here and I found a bunch of misfits just as broken up and confused as I was.”
The Consul turned, walking over to the window that offered no view to her sightless gaze. The Citadel courtyard stretched out below, filled with clansmen, and beyond that, Estle City. She folded her hands faithfully in front of her, rocking back on her heels.
“These days…by the Force, we’ve got all kinds. Assassins, warriors, gladiators, criminal hackers, former soldiers and pilots, dancers…scholars, medics, mercenaries, robo-crystals…by all my gods, we’ve even got an author or two. We have people out there, in both Qel-Droma and Galeres, getting married. We have people having families, or choosing their new family, or reuniting with old. Force-user and mundane, light-souled and dark, we have them all. Do you realize that?”
She paused, waiting for a few murmurs of confirmation. Jax piped up again.
“Ya have a point yer gonna get to, righ’?”
Atyiru gave him a universally understood rude gesture, and the Fade, along with several others, chuckled.
“My point…is that we’re a mess. We’re a beautiful mess, and I want us to be brilliant. ‘Light is limited, but darkness is infinite,’ we all say. But why limit ourselves to darkness? Why not just be infinite? That’s what I want for us. Arcia, you asked me that, asked me where I intended to take the Clan, right after I was appointed Consul. I didn’t have an answer for you then. But I do now.”
Atyiru turned to face her brethren, lifting her chin. “I want to bring us balance, and to do that, I must open us up to change. We’ll be hurt along the way, and no one will end up with exactly what they wanted, but we can’t be deaf and blind to what’s going on around us any longer. We’ve been changing. But taking the next step, well…someone’s got to do it, and if that incites unrest, so be it.”
Jax merely shrugged. “Ya know I’ll follow you, Atts. Don’t gotta give me no frakkin’ speeches.”
Timeros, with the other Arconae, inclined his head, saying without words that he was loyal, as he always had been. Legorii sneered but nodded. Arcia, Ernordeth and Valtiere, military trained, gave sharp salutes. Celevon and Strategos merely grinned. One by one, each of the gathered leaders offered some form of professional agreement, whether begrudging or enthusiastic.
Atyiru smiled, shoulders sagging with slight relief. “Well, come on then. It’s about time.”
“To address the rest of the Clan. Those not gathered in the courtyard can watch via holo. We’ve got to announce our big playdate.”
Atyiru walked forward. Stopped. Breathed. Then, she threw open the doors and strode out into the morning.