A collection of Arcona’s official fiction updates, beginning March 2016 and onward.
001: The Light That Faded
The Citadel, Selen
Once, in this room, there had been naught but darkness and fire.
The walls of smooth sable stone and the enormous onyx pillars held seamless lies, a castle of glass, beautiful and deadly. It was fragile, calm, quiet. Outside the sentinel doors, men and women bled and cried under iron fists. But not here. Here only the flames breathed, whispering secrets of timeless knowledge and strength.
Emptiness and hunger lingered on the crackle-soft air like the last note of a hallowed harmony. They were the silence beneath the serenity, the poison under the skin. This chamber was a voracious thing, its halls demanding constant sacrifices to offer their blood, their power, and their honor before its cold, serpent-clad throne. And those demands, over and over, had been answered. A succession of men and women had knelt before that seat, swearing life and limb willingly, gladly, swearing themselves to be brethren in shadow.
Now…there was all that and more.
Certainly, the throne room held darkness and blood in its stones, built of them, kin to them — but so too was it now suffused with the first touches of warmth and light. Braziers burning gold, blue, crimson, and violet lined the walls, the main walkway, the empty spaces of the room. Wreaths of fresh foliage coiled up all the pillars, native vines and flowers carefully arranged. At the far end of the chamber, an immense set of steps led up to the regal dias backed by leaping white flames that clawed the air and cast shadows far and wide. Before the flames, atop the dias, rested that throne of coiled serpents and sharp edges.
And in its seat reclined a silver-haired woman, face masked and features gentle.
On either side of the regal seat, lining the steps, were more figures, some old, some young, but all with ancient eyes. They numbered among Clan’s greatest, paragons and champions, shadows written into their hearts so deeply that they bled black like ink. Timeros, Strategos, Legorii, Baxir, Marick — and all, Arconae. Only a few were absent yet, those that still lived, and they not long away. Further down, at the dias’ base, stood a multitude of people, rainbows of skin and feature, riots of dark and light mingling into a sea of gray. Here, a hodgepodge family of their own naming, there pairs of small team leaders or a squad of elite pilots and a gaggle of newly-robed students, lively and lonesome faces alike present — and all, Arconans. A low hum of chatter raced through the chamber from their many-throated voices, but all fell quiet when the blindfolded Miraluka on the throne stood.
Atyiru Caesura Entar smiled.
“My friends,” she greeted. “We face much. Attacks on our home fended off at last, and yet a larger threat still imposes. We all felt New Tython’s loss as we would our own home’s, as is the way of the Force. The threads of our fates are twining and we must direct their pattern before we find ourselves entrapped. We must be as we always are, our own makers, our own triumph. To do so we must change again…as we have changed before.”
A pause. The former hushed air of casualness was gone. In its place, tension reigned, a hundred lungs still in a hundred chests. The Shadow Lady raised her hands and gestured at the grand hall’s entrance as a cadre of Summit guardsmen pulled open the doors.
The massive, durasteel-plated doors swung inward, allowing entrance to the group waiting outside. Whispers of curiosity ran through the crowd as those on the dais surrounding the Consul and her throne grew rigid. Uji Tameike led several figures as they crossed the distance of the throne room. The remaining members of the Arconae, Sashar, Celahir, Rayze, and the returned Dragon of Selen, Wuntila, all flanked the Aedile.
Around the Consul, many of the Arconae shifted forward, distant memories of prior conflicts rising to the fore as the company came to a stop at the foot of the dais. Atyiru’s smile never faded as she felt the old emotions rise between the two groups. Many within the crowd found themselves backing away, and the Summit Guard looked to Bly, their Captain, for direction — an almost unseen gesture told them to hold their positions.
The two individuals stood as a direct reflection of the Clan. Atyiru’s shining, comforting presence never wavered, her control of Arcona fostered through care and devotion to her subordinates. In stark contrast, the man standing opposite of her had become known for his ruthless efforts in eliminating Perdition from Dajorran space, his victories in a series of brutal engagements after the attacks on S.C.E.P.T.E.R. having earned him a measure of both respect and fear. Seeing him surrounded now by such powerful supporters called into question the ceremony for which they were drawn together.
Members of both Houses shifted. Though Uji had earned the loyalty of many within Galeres, their first duty was to Arcona — a duty many placed above that to the Brotherhood and even themselves. Were the Aedile foolish enough to attempt a coup, they would act without hesitation to eliminate any threat to their Consul. The roguish Qel-Dromans in the room had even less interest in hiding their reaction to the stand-off. Many hands held tight to weapons, hidden or otherwise.
Darkness, fire, hunger. Hope, compassion, light. For that pause, all wavered, a breath held between the echoes of the past and the murmurs of a shifting future, between old and new, between—
“Welcome, my friends. Welcome, Arconans, each of you.” Atyiru’s sightless gaze shifted across the countenances of those assembled, her smile warming the room, her presence calming the paranoia throughout the assembly with an ease of experience she’d acquired in her year as Consul, like a soft breeze in deep summer. A motion of her hand brought the Galeren Aedile forward. Uji knelt at the first step, bowing his head. To each side, his escorts walked past him, climbing the stairs to take their place among their fellow Arconae.
The crowd let out a collective sigh of relief as the families of Arcona stood side by side in support of the what they would always uphold — their Clan. Despite the damage done from the last war, from the battles with Perdition and the One Sith, the Arconae flanked the throne, and Atyiru, their Shadow Lady, stood above the kneeling Galeren. To either side of the dais stood Braecen and Rulvak, representing the support of House Galeres, while opposite them Celevon Erinos and Terran Koul represented Qel-Droma. The unified Summit of Arcona looked to Atyiru as she descended the steps to stand above Uji.
Briefly, the Miraluka extended a hand, palm upright, and Sashar handed her a slim object. With a grateful dip of her chin, she turned back to the man before her. She extended the item to him, offering a hilt of bone, stained red at its jagged edge, obviously plucked from his quarters.
For a long moment, the former Aedile stared at her, and she at him, years laden with war and hope passing between them in a heartbeat. The dark lines of his robe sleeves swirling, Uji took his saber from her grasp, thumbing its white flame into existence. It hummed, crackling in the air between the pair.
"May your hands be steady, aim true, and feet swift…and may Ashla and Bogan bless you, Shadow Scion."
Deactivating the brilliant blade, the Seeker bowed to his blindfolded lord, and every figure in the room followed suit. “Yes, my Lady.”
The Citadel, Selen
The door slid shut without a sound behind him, and then they stood alone, ensconced in perfect blackness broken only by the starlight outside Atyiru’s window. The Consul made no move for the lights she did not need, and Uji made no protest as he awaited whatever explanation his Consul had for him. A beat passed, laden, as she crossed the space and stood as if to gaze out at Estle City far below the Citadel’s spires. No words nor thought came, but she spoke all the same.
“When I selected Arcia, she asked me the same question, you know,” the Miraluka said quietly into the deep silence, turning her unmasked, eyeless visage onto the man. "She asked it over and over, actually. I don’t think she ever believed me. I told her, each time, ‘Because I need you to do what I can’t — but most of all, because I trust you.’"
“So why do you need me?”
“Why do I trust you,” corrected the Seer, more an answer than a question, her lips thinning into a line. She folded her arms at the small of her back, her shoulders straight, chin tilted, as if enshrouded by an invisible cloak and crown.
“Another good question,” the Seeker said, a wryly quirked brow the only crack in his cool expression. “All the reprimands you’ve given me the last year for the indiscretions and disobediences, the killing where you saw murder…what are you thinking, Atyiru?”
“I trust you,” the Consul said coolly, words smooth and slow as stones turning the riptide of a river. “To do just that. To do exactly what I’ve so long tried to forbid, to be cold where I cannot.” She paused, then went on, “When the time comes and you know that I would stop you, I need you to act anyway.”
Flowing across the floor with a ripple of silvered hair, the woman left the windows to stand before her desk, hovering. Uji, steady and silent as shadow, waited.
Atyiru turned and pointed at the saber on his belt. “Use that with a new purpose — your old purpose made new. Wield the light I give you not for slaughter, but for surgery, Uji. Wield it not to kill, but to save in that killing, if kill is what you must do. Wield it, and you make a choice. I’ve tried so long,” she said, her voice growing tight, but no less strong, “to bring you into the light, when all along, I’ve known you belong in shadow. You, like so many of our beloved clansmen. You all are shadows, powerful and loved…but you need light to be cast. So wield it and stand with me to protect our people, our friends, and all those who cannot protect themselves.”
“Pravus and his ilk will do far more than threaten, Atyiru, and I intend to do far more to them before they can. I will never bow to that insane, hutt-spawned bastard. Not unless it’s to cut his legs out from under him.”
“Then I will go and bow for both of us,” she replied steadily, head held high. “And while I do, you do what must be done.” Pivoting back to her desk, she placed her palms flat on its smooth surface, her demeanor matching the cold metal under her fingertips. “Go to the DIA, the families, the Elders and Arconae. Go through Galeres’ old militant connections and pull Qel-Droma’s criminal contacts. Get in touch with any and all of the Inquisitorious agents, the royal guardsmen, or the academy staff we can trust — verify as you will first. Go through everything we have. Quiet, careful. I’ll feel out Farrin and Bloodfyre, find any ashes we can stir, and speak with Marick when next he returns from under Pravus’ eye. And,” she paused in her flood of speech, waiting for his grunt to go on, “have relief packages put together and held on standby until we hear from Turel or A’lora. Provisions, medical and industrial equipment. They might be out of our reach, but they will not stand alone. The Grand Master will not control our fates. Not ours or anyone else’s.”
“He won’t control a thing when we are finished.”
“Carefully, my friend,” warned the Miraluka. “We must move as our namesake, in shadow. For now, we gather our allies, our secrets, our supplies. We prepare. And in the coming months…”
There was no need to finish her statement. The truth hung in silence, and they wore it defiant like they did the blades at their belts. They breathed it like the air in their lungs. Uji nodded and bowed at the waist to the woman once dubbed the Mountain, as he had in the throne room during the ceremony.
“Arcona Invicta, Shadow Lord.”
“Arcona Invicta,” Atyiru whispered, to no one but herself and the Force, as the Proconsul spun and stalked away.