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Ban Ulfson

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Ban Ulfson last won the day on February 10

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  1. Faith. Faith. That was Ban's test. That it was impossible to bear the burdens of the galaxy on his back alone. Sometimes the Force might call him to a place where he couldn't directly help, but it was still his role to be there and play his part. That was what it meant to be a servant of the Living Force, to truly surrender one's own will and exist in harmony with a power greater than any mortal could ever be. One day, Ban's path would end. But the moment he tried to take the burden of others onto himself instead of simply acting as the catalyst of the Force's will, he would fail, because his own power paled in comparison to the infinite majesty and intricacies the Force offered. It wasn't faith in himself, however, and while it was faith in the will of the Force, it was also largely faith that Kari would pull through. And pull through she did, violently even. Ban had hoped to not desecrate the bodies of her family, but she carved through them in rage as she dove for Tori. It was then that Ban reacted, reaching out through the Force and connecting with her, fueling her but also sharing his thoughts and emotions. "Kari, wait! This only serves the darkness. If you strike her down in anger, you only seal away the pain and allow it to fester. Remember, the greatest illusion a Sith can cast is a lie you believe. She is powerful because you give her that power, she influences you because you let her." Ban extinguished his sabers, taking a slow step or two forward, still ready should he need to be, but clearly trying to de-escalate Kari's blood rage. "I know it's going to be hard. Maybe the hardest thing you've ever done. But you need to let her go. Forgive her. You told me on the ship you'd already forgiven her, but you need to be willing to be at peace no matter what she does. I'm not saying disown her, she is still your sister, and you can still love her, but you don't have to let her darkness become your own. She has made her choices. Let her go." When the last words left Ban's lips, so did the Force's influence from his body. Wearily, he dropped to one knee, barely able to hold himself off the ground. They were still connected, but he had given her everything, his resolve, his tranquility, and his compassion. His role had finished, and whatever happened moving forward, he was at peace with it. The Force would find balance, and he was content to be its instrument. ((5)) ((It's been a pleasure writing this. Ball's in your court, send it off with a bang!))
  2. Desperation grew in the back of Ban's subconscious as he fought on, both from feeling the physical strains his body was put under as well as the lack of Kari's response. The two reanimants continued to press the assault, Tori having decided he wasn't worth directly attacking anymore. Instead, visions of Kari's past filled the cave, some events she'd told him about on the ship, others he saw for the first time. It was hard to pay full attention to them as he continually had to deal with the assault from her undead family members, but the idea Tori had intended to convey was painfully clear: Kari had fallen further into the illusions. Ban's influence was waning. The darkness had begun to swell like a cancer, and stopping its spread would become harder with every second. One of the reanimants swung at him, which Ban dodged, blocking a strike from another, then evading with a Echani maneuver that spun him around the second reanimated corpse, repositioning him to start the cycle fresh again. The corpses showed no signs of letting up or stopping, and while both they and Ban were fueled by the rampantly strong energies of the Force, they didn't need to worry about preserving their bodies. Is this what Ban would become? A corpse, forever locked in battle in service to the Force, his will and mind long withered away, until they became dust once more? No. More influence from Tori. More doubts and illusions. Ban redoubled his efforts, but he knew the seed of doubt had been planted. This was a losing battle. He had lost, he had lost Kari, and he had failed to maintain the balance. He could not win this fight on his own. The fractures of frustration in his subconscious widened, and he noticed a subtle shift in his combat flow. A counterattack every now and then, a shove here, a kick there, all to off balance them he told himself. Deep down, he knew the truth. He didn't want to desecrate their bodies, to add to the pain, but his own pain had already begun to do that. The pain of failure. And then, something clicked. A soft realization, an answer that had been right in front of him this whole time. The reanimants punched at the same time, but he caught both their blows in his palms, his strength renewed. He had been fighting the wrong fight. This was a test for them both, and Ban had finally understood his own test. ((4))
  3. The game became one of keep away as Ban dodged and blocked the attacks of the two reanimated corpses. He didn't dare use his saber on them and desecrate them further, as doing so would only help cement the wound already present. But this time, it was less the wound in the Force, and more the one in Kari's mind. This was the connection, the misstep that Tori couldn't have planned for. "Look at them Kari...see them, remember who they were. Would they want this?" Ban shoved from his position, flipping over one of the reanimants, avoiding a grapple and repositioning closer to Kari. He could feel his body growing weary despite being fueled from the Force's embrace. He wouldn't stop until his part had been played, but when he did he knew he would need serious time to recover. But right now, Kari needed him. "She is feeding from your assumption that she is more powerful than she really is. We are, all of us, just puppets dancing to the music of the Force. You just need to see the strings." He ducked, rolling backwards into a crouch that followed up with a spin kick, tripping one of the reanimants and leaving it as a barrier for the other to get through before it could strike at him again. "The greatest illusion a Sith can cast is simply a lie that you believe. I know you can still hear me, Kari...seek the truth." ((3))
  4. As Kari's assault started, the Force became tumultuous, a roiling ocean stirred to storm. Ban moved as the waves dictated, gently guided by its touch. Indigo and crimson met violet and silver again and again and again, their violent impacts showering the area with sparks and briefly spiking the illumination in the cave. He deftly caught the blast of Force lightning on one blade, maneuvering slightly to parry another of her blades to block in for him. So it went, move, countermove, attack, evade. Her onslaught was relentless, but his defense was near impenetrable, far better than he would have normally been able to maintain without the direct conduit of Force the nexus was providing him to direct the flow of his blocks and parries. If he only had one blade, defending against three others that could attack from unorthodox angles with unorthodox strikes would have been a futile task, but he held his ground, moving only when he had to. After several moments, neither of them had exchanged much ground, and it was clear Ban didn't intend to. He softly spoke, his words clearly reaching her ears despite the volume, and yet as he spoke there seemed to be something else behind his words. "It appears we share in our lack of limits. Kari, I know you can hear me, listen to my voice. You can fight this. You must fight this. Believe in yourself, and trust in the Force. I have no right to be your beacon in the dark, but I would still offer my light." Ban knew if she didn't hear him, he would be forced to end this eventually. Injury or death in service to the Force he didn't mind, but he knew that if anything but the will of the Force happened here, the nexus would stay scarred, the manipulations of the Sith fueled by the pain and loss. There were two ways this could end for Ban, either Kari would overcome her internal struggles against Tori, or one of them would likely die. ((2))
  5. As Tori revealed herself and tensions rose, Ban could feel the Force surge. It was strong here, reacting to their presence like an exposed nerve. But because of this, he was also strong here. Until now, his blades had remained extinguished, but Kari's strike necessitated reaction. The deep purple of his main hand blade sprang to life as he moved with practiced fluidity to intercept her, his offhand saber erupting in brilliant silver to guard against the follow up strike that came. For a handful of heartbeats they shared the staccato rhythm of lightsaber combat, Ban continually retreating as he could and never counterattacking. Kari represented a focal point for his future, it was something he could feel very clearly now. This was a test for him as much as it was for her, his actions here and now would determine the spectrum and hue on his future path. This was why the Force had brought him here: to test his mettle. His Master had once spoken of such events happening to him, but never described them extensively, choosing to keep them as private moments. Now, Ban understood why. As their movements came to a standstill and Ban managed to put some steps between them, he disengaged his sabers and motioned for her to stop, keeping them ready but lowered. He took advantage of the momentary hesitation by speaking clearly to her. Clearly she thought he was someone he wasn't, tricked by the Force. "Kari. Center yourself. Open your thoughts to the will of the Force, your eyes to the truth. You know inside this isn't right. Find your truth, and trust me to help you through this. Your emotions are understandably strong, but right now they only serve your sister." He stood unmoving, refusing to attack her. Should she press forward, he would be ready, the Force guiding his movements with unmatched elegance. He was never much of a swordsman, rather relying more on the Force to make up for his shortcomings. As the Kosai worshipped the Living Force, they felt its pulls and listened to them more readily than others skilled in communing with the Force. Here however, the nexus seemed to magnify that beyond what Ban thought possible, his body's movements almost guided for him as he merely thought about the path he wished to take, a living conduit of the raw potential the Force offered. Not in control of it, but in harmony with its ebbs and flows. Here, for the first time in his life, he truly felt like a Kosai. ((1))
  6. Now this was something unlike Ban had ever witnessed before. He'd heard of the Dark side manifesting in such a manner, but they were always rumors that came off more like urban legends than actual truths. But reanimation of corpses? This had to be the work of a powerful Sith. That was the only real explanation in his mind. "Lusef. You said that name before. Wasn't he the Sith that trained you as he masqueraded as a Jedi?" He found his lightsaber hilts in his hands but restrained himself from activating them, there was simply no need to at that moment. Kari had neutralized the threat posed by the reanimants, or at least it seemed she had. Ban was keen to keep his wits about him should another threat present itself, but there wasn't any other immediate danger.
  7. The scene was grisly. Ban could feel the influence of the Darkness here, seeping against the light as it tended to do. This was not a natural balance like he had tried to calm her into thinking it was. Someone had done this, perverted the natural order to corrupt the light and enhance the influence of the Darkness, using that influence for...well, Ban could only guess, but it was rarely good. For a moment, he let her weep. It was good to let her grieve, to have the moment to understand the pain and accept the loss. From what she'd told him on the ship, it wouldn't be a foreign process to her, but that didn't mean she would be any more comfortable with it. When the moment passed, he somberly stepped forward, placing a hand on her shoulder, reinforcing her grief with his own connection to the Force. "Come. We can give them a proper burial. Honor them as your people would have wanted them to be. It's the least we can do right now. This place may be steeped in Darkness, but you heal scars...you don't meditate on them or allow them to control and define you. We should allow this scar to heal."
  8. Ban thought about what she said as he watched her leave the hut. For a moment, he considered going in unarmed, knowing that illusions often were only dangerous in that they caused people to hurt themselves. But he was Kosai, a servant of the Living Force. If he stayed true to himself, and to the Force, then they would safely find their way through whatever obstacles were in their path. Shaking his head of the doubt, he started after her at a brisk pace, intending to catch up. He couldn't let her go through whatever waited for her alone. It was not his purpose. Wordlessly, he followed.
  9. "Do you feel it?" Ban felt like the half hour walk had been unnecessary, as there were several closer spots they likely could have parked the ship. However, it was likely that it would have taken some skill to pull off, which spoke mildly to Kari's piloting abilities. He still said nothing about it, there really was no need to. He could use the exercise anyways, and the views had been nice. Like she had said, the Force was strong with this place, thick in the air to the point it was like he was swimming in it. He felt...stronger. But it wasn't him, it was the Force. Ban had never been to a place like this before. "You say it is unnatural, but my master used to say 'natural is subjective.' What might be natural for us might not be natural for someone else. If you mean do I feel the influence of the Dark side...then...yes. It's subtle, but it's there. I was not trained to know the darkness as an enemy, but rather a wild animal. If you understand it well enough you can prevent it from harming you, dangerous as it is. I am not a servant of the darkness, but it in and of itself is not my enemy. Light and Dark, the Force is as one, tying us all together and providing the current that changes the face of the galaxy as we know it." He looked at the mask she held, then back to the rest of the hut, something still not quite feeling right. "Still...the servants of the darkness are another matter. From your tone I take it it's not supposed to be like this here. The influences of those who would wish malice on others are hard to tell until they strike. What about this place feels unnatural to how you remember it? Perhaps we can uncover some of your mystery here and now."
  10. Shili. Ban hadn't been to this planet yet, but he'd heard of it before. Nice place, much like Corellia, or at least the rural areas of Corellia. Shili had its cities and settlements, but not some of the radical urbanite development that some of the more central galactic planets had. He stepped down the boarding ramp into the sand, looking around. "So...where are we, exactly?"
  11. "The credits are but a small part of the journey. Subsistence is vital, but profit is meaningless. Few who know the Kosai understand that...all they hear is we want money for services rendered and label us mercenaries. Not everyone has the expansive resources and pull that the Jedi can afford." It was a short response as she began to walk off, but an important one. At least Ban felt so. Kari was pleasant despite her disturbing history, and Ban wanted to ensure she didn't take him the wrong way. Attachment wasn't typical for him, but he felt that in another life they'd likely be friends. Or perhaps even the future, but time would tell. He followed the will of the Force, not his emotions. It didn't really matter right now, though. Instead, he would need to focus himself for the trials ahead. He entered his room and shut the door, allowing himself to fall into a deep meditative sleep. His dreams were turbulent.
  12. Ban took a sip from the tea, wincing at the bitterness and heat, but it was a nice gesture. Kari might have had a spotty past, but he handled himself poorly in response. He wasn't really used to these kinds of situations, and it threw him off. "I could share another cup, sure. The taste is rather...intriguing, once you get past the bitterness." He gave a brief sigh, knowing what he said next would be mildly difficult to word properly. "You must forgive me for that. I'm not a Jedi, it's never really been my job to understand and try to bring peace to such situations. Sometimes, well...often times, people deal with emotional trauma like that very poorly, and understandably so. They are scars upon you, who you were, they mark and partially define who you are now." Spying a chair at a small desk just inside the door to his quarters, he fetched it, sitting down. "But that doesn't have to be a bad thing, and it sounds like you refuse to let it be one. Accepting things for how they are is central to a lot of the Kosai teachings. You should be proud of yourself for dealing with this in a healthy way when many others would be crushed under the emotional weight. The Jedi often teach that the natural state of things is peace and harmony, but neglect to understand that a little turbulence allows for growth, and you have certainly grown from the turbulence in your own life." Ban blew on his cup before taking another sip, noting that the herbal flavors were a bit more robust yet palatable as the tea cooled. He was never much of a tea drinker, but he did know how to appreciate the smaller things in life. "And I appreciate your warning about Tori. Hopefully, I'll be able to handle myself against her illusions if she becomes a problem. I still don't fully understand my role in all of this, but that's rather normal for me." Finishing his cup, he waited for her to do the same, intending to follow her for the next one.
  13. As Kari recounted her tale, Ban became more and more uncomfortable. He'd never met someone who was so open about hurtful details of their past, but at the end when she explained why he was a bit relieved to understand better. "If I think of anything, I'll let you know. I, uh...don't really meet many folks who wear their whole life on their sleeve like that." There was a moment of silence, and he realized quickly what he'd said could have come off as mildly insulting. He quickly continued, "And, you know, my life hasn't really been nearly that exciting. Mostly tracking down debtors and solving local disputes, that sort of thing." Another moment of silence. "I'm...listen...I'm really sorry I asked. It clearly still causes you pain. Pain isn't really something I wish on people. Not too often, anyways. Some folks deserve it, but not like that. I should...I should just go get some sleep until we reach our destination." Ban really did feel bad for her, but it was something she had to live with. It wasn't a scar he could heal. He stood up, looking around at the various hallways. "Uhh, which way to the beds, again?"
  14. "On the way is fine. I like long stories. Makes life interesting, you know?" Ban followed Kari to her ship, ready to leave. He'd spent enough time here and almost put his foot ankle deep in it more than once, and he'd been here less than an hour. Better to get going and be productive.
  15. Ban stood where he was for a moment longer, hearing some things, seeing others. He didn't catch all of Master Vos's illusion, but enough that he felt like he had a decent enough understanding for what was going on. The scene where the fight broke out sent a shiver up Ban's spine. A premonition perhaps? It didn't matter, as it never came to fruition. It did prove the man wasn't as serene as perhaps a typical Jedi Master liked everyone to believe they were, or at the least not to the satisfactions of the Imperial Knights. But who could blame him? The situation didn't exactly seem like a calm one, for those who purport to serve the light, anyways. The Knights took up a provocative encounter, should they expect anything else? Jedi were never as emotionally balanced as they let on, an unfortunate discovery brought on as a side effect of sometimes having to fix their mistakes. Still, Ban expected that by now they might have learned to be more understanding of that turbulence, as it was a defining trait of what made them all mortal and fallible, even the Sith. The Imperial Knights, however, would likely never come to understand this. Anyone willing to work so closely to the dogmatic ideals of any incarnation of the Empire was ignorant to the nature of the Force. They would continue to walk the razor's edge they had sharpened for themselves, walking in light but dangerously close to the darkness. They would see far more tragedy than success as a result. Still, Ban appreciated their dedication and loyalty...those were rare virtues anymore. Slowly, he nodded to the Jedi as they briefly made eye contact, unaware of what the future would hold. Ban didn't completely understand what was going on, but he knew enough to realize how alienated the Jedi might feel in a world that rejected perspective. It was a simple thought, more of an emotion, but Ban knew it would likely mean more than the simple gesture it was: You are not alone. With that, he retreated, once again meeting back up with Kari, where he needed to be. She was still in the hangar, tending to the astromech. "So your sister, huh? What's the story there?"
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