Mimban System, Surron Sector
A gentle breeze tugged at the pink Zeltron’s short, crystal blue hair as she followed the towering figure of the yellow-skinned Neti, V’yr Vorsa, to the top of a large sloping hill. Lexi Corden — the young, blond-haired human girl in a long, flowing, white robe — followed closely behind them. Multi-colored trees dotted the landscape in an idyllic, sporadic pattern, and long green grass coated the ground like a thick rug. The quiet trio slowly walked with a leisure few could afford, but it came with a precious stillness that was well worth the cost of a little patience. The only sounds that could be heard, apart from the sound of ruffled grass underfoot, were the wind and the happy chatter of birds.
Blade reached out to the Force around her, focusing on the bright presences of her two companions. They lit up the air around them in ways she couldn’t quite describe, but it gave her a sense of ease that was hard to find when left to her own devices. She let it wash over her and smiled, bathing in the Living Force. The Palatinaean pinched her arm for good measure. Oww, she thought. It was real. Somehow, some way, she had found herself in the company of Jedi, one of which meant far more to the Zeltron. V’yr Vorsa was a Jedi General of old that more often than not reminded Blade of her wondrous childhood stories of Jedi peacekeepers who had saved the galaxy countless times. The Neti’s very presence often reminded her that such things were more than just stories.
The sun broke her reverie as they crested the hill. Finally, she thought as a breeze caressed her cheeks. It was chilly, even with the sun’s warming embrace, but the Sith couldn’t feel the cold. Her suggestive, dark navy outfit wasn’t the warmest, even with a robe, but it was enough. The Force, and the place she was in, gave her energy. She raised a hand to her eyes, blocking out the sun, and saw that she was on top of a wide plateau overlooking the surrounding grasslands. Bright red and purple flowers dotted the landscape below, as the rising sun’s rays kissed the ground underneath.
“Wow. It’s beautiful,” Blade said before she could stop herself, wide-eyed and amazed.
“Indeed. But there is more to this place than just the surface. What do you feel?” asked Vorsa as she turned her gaze from the horizon with a somber expression.
The Arcanist knelt down, rested a hand on the ground, and took a deep breath as she reached out once more to the energies around her. She could feel the Jedi’s soothing light, her own darker vortex, and a similarly dark energy which, oddly enough, seemed to permeate everything around her. She gasped in surprise as an onset of mental images flashed across her conscious. Her good mood was spoiled by scenes of forlorn cries, desperate pleas for help, and the abandoned graveyards of the dead.
Blade raised her shaking hand off the ground and stared back at the Neti.
“Why are we here?” the Sith asked dejectedly.
“It is a place of great calamity and turmoil. A war was fought here. A Clone War which left a wound in the Force.” She stared back at Blade, as a teacher would stare at a student. “To learn about the consequences of your actions, Blade Ta’var, you must first experience them.”
“I thought I had. My memories aren’t going anywhere,” she said as she tapped the side of her head with her finger.
“No. You haven’t. Not yet. But, look around you. The great battle took place here a long time ago, yet you still feel the pain and sorrow through the Force. The grasslands may have grown back but you can feel the dark energy that still remains. Consequences can last a very long time,” the Jedi replied with a wisdom only a long life could give.
After travelling with the Neti for a few weeks, the Zeltron knew when a lesson was on hand. Lexi merely chose a patch of grass far enough away so she could meditate in peace and leave her Master to her teachings. Blade sat cross-legged on the ground, did her best to dispel any negative thoughts, and asked the question she asked all too often: “What do you mean?”
Vorsa sat across from her with that same somber expression Blade had seen before, and began her sad story. “There was a time when this hill did not exist, nor the others we crossed… Long ago, I helped cause the sorrow you feel today, along with every other Jedi who served in the Clone Wars. I commanded an army on this very soil, and many died under my command. Allow me to tell you their tale…”
The Arcanist listened patiently to the Jedi’s story, putting a hand to the ground every once in awhile when she wanted an accompanying picture. It was a story of a massacre that took far too many lives for reasons that would never be good enough. The Sith shifted uncomfortably in the grass, drawing parallels to her own bouts of murder. She found herself wondering how V’yr Vorsa, a Jedi General who had helped cause the carnage so long ago, could be so serene.
“How can you be so calm? I try to be the unmovable rock in the ocean of my own mind, like you told me to be, but I often feel overwhelmed.” Guilt pounded her conscience, threatening to consume her. Blade took a deep breath and stared in awe at the peaceful, smiling visage of the Neti.
“The Force is my ally,” Vorsa said. “I breathe it, I live it, and it grants me peace. You must learn to channel the Living Force as I do. Find your inner calm. Only then will you be able to reign in your inner fire and master yourself.”
The Zeltron sighed. She had learned that Vorsa’s interpretation of the Jedi Code, among many other things, was far different from the traditions she had heard about. She had even memorized the words, but that was not enough to understand them.
“Come, let us spar. I will show you the path, but only you can walk it,” the Neti smiled again as she stood up and offered her hand.
The Warrior took it and walked a few paces away, activating her red blade with a snap-hiss in sync with Vorsa’s own orange, lava-like saber. Blade still felt uncomfortable battling the Jedi with a red-colored blade, but she kept it as a reminder of what she had done. She stared determinedly at the Neti, ready to try her best.
“Remember, some emotions are good. Some are bad. Love. Not Hate. Let go when it becomes too much. Stay calm. Understand?”
“An old Jedi once said, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’”
“Don’t call yourself old just yet,” teased Blade.
“This is not the time for jests, Blade Ta’var,” said the Neti, fighting off a smirk.
Vorsa launched forward, rapid strikes flowing into an unpredictable blur as her constantly moving hair swayed unnaturally with her momentum. The Warrior matched her ferocity, paying close attention to her own sense of balance. Her control slipped more often than not, but the Neti had plenty of helpful reminders and advice to keep the Zeltron from straying too far. Lightsaber clashed against lightsaber as both Vaapad users connected with each other to form a superconducting loop. Combat and the Force became a means of communication for ideas that couldn’t quite express themselves in the spoken word. For Blade, it was its own sort of magic.
Time passed slowly as they continued their energetic “conversation”. Lexi tried to drown out the clashing of sabers, wondering when the pair would stop sparring. How long have they been at it? Vorsa’s comm beeped to life, further interrupting her meditation. She attempted to ignore it, the device not belonging to her after all, but it was soon apparent that her Master and her sparring partner were not slowing. After a defeated sigh, Lexi opened her eyes, snatched the device from nearby and blinked in disbelief when she realized who it was on the other end.
“The High Councillor is what?!” Lexi’s outcry was full of concern and shock.
Vorsa didn’t need her apprentice’s shout to get her attention. The Force was more than enough. A strong sense of dread and concern hit her like a sucker punch to the gut. Something was wrong. The Neti backed off from the fight, put away her saber, and ran over to Lexi, who was already deep in discussion.
“…to Vorsa,” Arcia Cortel stated plainly, finishing her statement.
“She is standing right here, Destri.” The Padawan called her sister by her birth name. “She can hear everything. Just repeat what you said.”
“Alexia Corden, now.” Cortel’s annoyance was thick enough to cut through. “And don’t call me that. You know better.”
Lexi rolled her eyes and handed the comm over to Vorsa. Blade walked over to the Jedi, remaining silent as she listened to the tense conversation.
“Vorsa speaking. Is something wrong, Arcia?!” The Neti made a point of calling the Admiral by her desired name, instead of her given one.
“They are in trouble. They need reinforcements and time is critical. If you can lend your support it is now or never.” Arcia’s no-nonsense tone was clear, even over the the comm’s speaker.
The Jedi general closed her eyes for a moment, channeling the Force as she explored the connection between the cryptic warning she had just received and her strong sense of foreboding, one she usually felt when Turel was in danger. Only a few could elicit the magnitude of that response.
“It is good that you have contacted us. Where is he now?” Vorsa asked calmly. She wasn’t one to lose her composure, even when her husband was in danger.
“Kr’tal system, formally Taldryan space. Ever since they abandoned the system the pirates have gotten out of control there.”
“I can see why Turel would scout ahead. Has he gone alone?”
“No. Archenksova is with him. Are you able to help out?”
Vorsa paused momentarily, concerned not for herself but rather for the two women standing beside her — Blade in particular. Blade returned her saber to her belt and gave Vorsa a reassuring look. “I can help.”
Lexi stared at the Zeltron doubtfully, but said nothing, giving the Neti a simple, yet meaningful glance…
The Sith stared determinedly into Vorsa’s golden eyes. “I can help.”
The Neti turned to the comm again, “We are ready to assist in any way.” Despite Alexia’s uncertainty, the Jedi general had faith in the young Zeltron.
“Where are you? The Fleet might be able to pick you up,” Arcia said with an inaudible nod.
“Mimban, Surron Sector. It should be on your way. An…associate currently working with Alethia is also travelling with us.”
“Understood. I’m sending you coordinates for a rendezvous. See you soon. Cortel out.” The crisp imperial accent sounded annoyed already. The Sith found herself hoping that she would be better received in person.
Vorsa turned to Blade and looked her over. “Follow my lead. Listen, and do not do anything foolish. Many of our companions will not approve of you, but we will convince them otherwise. Understood?”
The Zeltron waited the several heartbeats before Vorsa said, “We go.”
The trio ran back to their shuttle waiting several hilltops away, and took off, heading for the meeting point with the fleet.
Space, Mimban System
A small, dark painted shuttle made its solitary way through the Surron Sector, effectively cloaking itself against the black expanse of space. None of its lights were on, save for the two tiny pinpricks that illuminated from the eye sockets of two pilot droids. To the naked eye, the shuttle appeared abandoned and adrift, like so many lost ships, but the Force revealed something far more dangerous. A small, hooded figure dressed all in black sat cross-legged in the back of the ship. The only sign of life from the amber-skinned Iktochi female was the steady rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.
Darth Necren, a loyal Sith in service to Darth Pravus, reached out the energy around her and looked for the abominations she called the Jedi. Hatred flared through her very being as she recalled the reason she had been sent out this far in the first place: V’yr Vorsa. The Jedi General had not only escaped her grasp but cost her the lives of her loyal guards. Pravus did not take the failure well. She was to either destroy the Neti, bringing her head to the Lord of the Sith in person, or suffer the consequences. Her hands clenched into fists as rage took over for but a moment.
Where are you, Jedi?
Necren had successfully followed breadcrumbs for weeks, but unfortunately lost the scent somewhere in the Surron Sector. She reached out as far as the she could through the Force, about to abandon her search for another sector, until the Dark Side gave her an unexpected present that made her lip curl with pleasure. A bright presence radiated like a torch in pitch darkness, calling the Iktochi to it like a firefly to a glowrod. Deep set orange eyes snapped open as the Sith stood up with an unnatural grace. She rushed back into the cockpit and ordered the pilot droids to change course.
“There is a shuttle close by. Follow it. Hurry, before we lose her again.”
The droids worked together to change course, Necren’s ship shooting off to the right as it chased after the Jedi’s fleeing shuttle. The Sith waited patiently until the shuttle came into view on the radar, smiling with sharp pointed teeth as she thought of the many ways she could murder the Neti.