This thread will be used for all non-objective based RO for CNS throughout the month of November 2015. Please keep it to the single thread so as not to flood the Discourse. Thank you all.
Several Days after the events of Ashes Fall
Temple of Sorrow
Sepros, Orian System
Locke watched with a solemn gaze as the men he had contracted went about their work. His mind was still working over the events of the past, trying to piece together a different path. Any path at all that would have spared the sacrifice of his friend. No matter what approach he took, the outcome never changed. Somehow, though, Locke felt that Atra had been ready. Ready for the rest he had craved, but never put voice to.
As a man, there was not much else he could do for his friend, other than maintain the memories they had shared. As a Consul, however, he would ensure that none would easily forget the sacrifice any man or woman made in service to the Clan. So it was that he had instructed the creation of a marker, nothing grand or obnoxious, just a permanent tablet planted firmly in the main grounds of the Temple of Sorrow. Engraved upon its surface was the date and a brief memorial, outlining the actions that had led to its formation.
He could feel the shuffling of the bodies behind him, those who had come to look upon the marker as it was completed. Locke didn’t look to see who they were, to put names to their faces. At the end of the day, it was a grim reality that any in the Clan, no matter how powerful, could fall like so many leaves upon the wind. This was testament to that.
Satisfied that the job was complete to the letter of his request, Locke nodded to the men and motioned for their departure. He took several steps closer, placing his fingertips lightly against the tablet’s surface, tracing the feel of the engraving. “Farewell, my friend,” Locke spoke softly so the others could not hear him, “I hope you found your peace.”
He had waited, with great patience, though he didn’t know exactly how long. It was a significant risk he took by sneaking into the system, but it had been a calculated decision. Mirus Hi’ija stood in the shadows until only he remained, making his approach in silence. He stood above the grave, knowing no body lay within it, but that wasn’t important. It was a matter of honour, for which he had come. Such things were worth the risk. He reached towards his side and drew the blade from its sheath, admiring the metal as it reflected the fading light. It was this blade he had held in his hand the first time he had crossed swords with Atra. With grim determination he knelt down, using his bare hands to move mound after mound of dirt. Mirus laid the weapon down, hilt towards the marker, and buried it once more before rising to his full height.
He didn’t say anything, and why would he? A warrior had no need for words, they spoke through their actions. The Titan merely gazed upon the lone marker that represented a friend’s passing, knowing that it could never hope to describe all that Atra’s actions had during his time. He turned then, at long last, adding his own footprints to those who had come and gone, leaving the marker to its solitude once more.
Her eyes fluttered open, the pupils contracting almost instantly to protect her from the sudden touch of light. Infinity filled the expanse within her gaze. Countless auroras danced before her, shifting through a never ending spectrum of hues and accents even as they twisted and turned. Shooting stars fought for attention as their innumerable cascade fell like rain over the horizon.
Infinity was the word her mind deemed to call it, for she lacked the ability to truly define what her eyes were conveying. There was no beginning, no end, just existence laid bare and the gnawing truth creeping through her thoughts like a cancer.
None of it was real.
Formless but moments before, she was suddenly all too aware of her body. Its confines became chains pulling her back from the endless beauty she wished nothing more than to drift into for eternity. Unable to keep aloft, her body sank ever further only to suddenly stop.
There was no pain, no sense of falling. It was just… nothing.
Darkness now fell upon her vision, the stars dulling 'till nothing remained save for the wispy trail of the auroras. She lay there, unmoving, waiting for her vision to adjust once more. Something flickered across her field of view, followed by another. Then another! She blinked rapidly, tilting her head with unabashed curiosity. She raised her left arm, seeking to grab hold of whatever the offending objects were. She paused instead, her gaze focusing on the substance now falling from her flesh.
She should be cold shouldn’t she? From what she remembered snow was cold… Remembered? What did she even remember? Certainly not her name or even where she was, that much was clear. And yet, within the confines of her mind, a voice kept repeating over and over that nothing was real. Was it a dream then?
Her right hand pressed hard into the ground, twisting slightly as it fought through the layers of snow before gaining enough traction to support her weight. She pulled her legs in under her, planting them firmly against the ground before rising to her full height. As she did so, a sea of leafless trees seemed to rise at the same time, as if in answer to her.
The voice in her mind grew ever louder, almost screaming the words now as if trying to convince her of the truth. But why would she need convincing? If this wasn’t real, it simply wasn’t. Belief had nothing to do with it. A dark shape moved just inside the edges of her vision, causing her head to snap towards it in hopes of setting sight upon its source.
Within the rows of skeletal branches she saw… nothing.
Still, the voice pounded against the confines of her mind and yet was no longer alone. She could hear it there, the most peculiar thing. It was almost like a purring of satisfaction. From what though? She pivoted on her heel, her head searching back and forth in hopes of finding whatever was there with her, in the place that wasn’t real and yet was in its own way.
Suddenly she stopped, feeling air flittering against the back of her neck. The most peculiar thing, however, was that the sensation had been the first she had felt since opening her eyes. Not the cold, not the wind, not even the soft caress of the gently falling snow. None of these things she had felt during her experience, only this sudden intrusion. She turned, ever so slowly, as if part of her didn’t want to see.
Not air, she realized all too late. It was breath.
Her eyes snapped open, this time greeted by the empty expanse that was the ceiling of her quarters. She sat up, the sheet of her bed slipping towards her waist even as she drew a knee up to rest her arm against, supported her head in her hand. The creature’s roar still echoed in her mind, fading into obscurity.
What was it? And why had it seemed so real?
Providence, as it were, held no desire to allow her time for contemplation. The darkness of her quarters shrank back as the door slid open and the light of the hallway washed over her.
“Keira?” the Miraluka standing in the opening spoke her name with an obvious note of concern. Though she was not of his kin, the L’eonheart’s wife and children had been all the family the woman could remember. “Get your things, it’s time.”
“Right,” she replied. Keira almost breathed out the word, exhaustion still gripping her. She tilted her head to the side, grasping her knee with both hands as she laid her head against it and affixed Methyas with an accusing stare. “Blind or not, you need to give a girl some privacy here,” she exclaimed while barely managing to contain a smirk.
The Son of Sadow’s lip twitched in response, as if fighting a grin of his own, before inclining his head with a nod. “Of course,” he stated before turning back towards the corridor and allowing the door to slide shut, plunging the room into darkness once more.
Temple of Sorrow
Sepros, Orian System
“Right, I’m going to need you to repeat that one 'cause it sounded an awful lot like: hey Locke, you should make this woman you’ve never met the next Quaestor of Shar Dakhan!”
Frustration was written clearly across the Consul’s features; though Locke was never truly clear how much the Miraluka could actually make out. He glared at the other man regardless, trying his best to focus his gaze on where Methyas’ eyes would have been if he had any.
“A gross oversimplification of the situation, Consul Sonjie,” Methyas responded as he rubbed his chin with his left hand. “I have been preparing her, personally, for over a year now. I’ve taught her everything about leading within the Brotherhood that I know.”
Locke pressed his palms against his desk and pushed off, rising from his chair while turning his gaze away from the other Son of Sadow. His arms crossed over his chest as he paused a moment in contemplation before beginning to pace. “You haven’t exactly been the most present of Sadowan, Methyas. Your recommendation does not hold the weight it once did,” he said after much thought.
The Miraluka simply nodded, adding nothing in response for it would serve no purpose. An awkward silence came over the room as neither men moved to make a statement. The steady, uneven rhythm of their paired breathing punctuated each heartbeat of silence before Methyas straightened in his chair and tilted his head so that his right ear was pointed towards Locke, a smile spreading on his face. “If nothing else, Locke, consider this. The landscape within the Brotherhood is changing, as I’m sure you’re aware. Would it not be best to have someone you can trust to not be coloured by it? To have been kept free of its influence?” Methyas let the weight of his words hang, almost positive that Sonjie had already been considering much the same.
The Consul turned to give Methyas a long look, weighing his options carefully. His arms unfurled as he leaned forward to press a button among the many that adorned the console of his desk. The door to his office slid open with a hiss, too suddenly to grant the revealed eavesdropper any chance at reprieve. She fell to the ground with a thud and a groan, laughing nervously as she looked up at the two men.
“Keira Viru,” Locke said with a controlled flow to his words, “I have a job for you.”
Temple of Sorrow
Sepros, Orian System
The newly appointed Quaestor of Shar Dakhan sat quietly upon the front steps leading into the temple. They were wide enough that Keira was able to remain out of the way while still managing to watch the steady stream of cadets and Sadowans flowing in and out. She tilted her head to the side, resting it against her palm as she let out a long sigh.
The damned Miraluka had stayed behind to talk to the Consul, while leaving her to become acclimated to what was supposedly to be her new home. It had taken relatively little time for her to ascertain that there were far too many people there, and she felt like that may be something she hated. Maybe the truth of that was hidden somewhere in the swirling black pool of her memories that not even Methyas had been able to see through for her.
What did ‘acclimated’ even mean for someone like her? She didn’t know these people and they definitely didn’t know her. As she let her senses spread she could feel them all pressing in around her, and frankly it was terrifying. Not too far from the steps she could sense Allistaire in deep contemplation, though Keira didn’t actually know the Mirialan’s name. Like so many of the other Force users she felt, there was a distinct ‘flavor’ to the sensation. Then there was another, coming up the steps with a feeling of purpose. This one was not a Force user, but one of the more accomplished Mercenaries that now counted themselves among the Sadowans: Courier Qyreia. Truth be told, that woman from Devil’s Shroud had quite the colorful language at her disposal, but that was something Keira would learn in due time — maybe.
“So you’re the new Quaestor,” a voice stated from behind her.
Viru jumped to her feet and spun about in a single motion, instantly ready to put distance between them if she identified a threat. Marcus Kiriyu eyed her with a somewhat amused expression, but was most definitely not a threat… well, not just yet.