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Andon

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  1. The jungle was a dark husk of everything life should contain. Its weight hung heavy across Andon’s shoulders, once again finding himself treading a world he had no intention of visiting. Perhaps it was only a dream or a fragment of his own desire. Jaina had called for him and his heart had answered, tapping into the Wellspring and bringing him here before her. Another dream within another day, he looked behind himself and the burning skies of Coruscant remained, outlined by the threads of hyperdrives stealing away into the dark for any refuge from the satellite that would bring irreversible doom. His body shivered with irreconcilable doubt as he looked upon his wife’s ravaged and desolate form, the haunt of her hazel-green eyes fracturing something deep within his being. Something awful had woven its web into her and cast a terrible venom into all that she was. He watched as she tore through hoards of mindless beasts, his face silhouetted by the amethyst fire her blade cast into the deep of night in this fervor of nightmare. Andon wondered if she could see him here at her side, for Jaina’s perceptions had… changed. There was a clarity in her, even lost to this madness, one that can only be gleaned by gazing into the Wellspring of Infinity. She had now graced its waters, but to what depth, he did not know. He mirrored her struggle, the Ghost in the Night that stood gallant at her side. For as the beasts tore into her flesh and the poison dragged her mind into the depths of unrelenting cruelty, he was the voice that carried in the undertone of her rage. The insatiable drive to survive and overcome was the echo in their heartbeats exchanged in the starless fury that had become of this world. The Traveler looked upon the palm of his hand and remembered the sensation of her chestnut hair grazing his skin, the electric current of wonder from the bond forged between husband and wife. A bond that could not be defeated by time, nor death, nor destiny. An immolation of smoldering pain burst forth from his chest, sweltering his skin with the light of Jaina’s eyes and her damnation. The place on his form that had called her wedding gift home had pierced a hole directly through his core. The bond that had survived the weight of eternity had torn asunder the most intimate place of his identity. Whatever choleric ichor had poisoned her, it had completely shattered everything that held Jaina and Andon together, deconstructing all that he had gained in destroying Creation to make his way back to her. There was no Andon without Jaina. The spectre reeled backward, retching in existential agony over the wound within his being that no tenderness or time could possibly stitch back together. He reached for her mind, but even his abilities were deemed powerless in this moment, for she tore into her own flesh and ripped out an organ from within. Andon could not sense his wife as he could before. His thumb absently traced the silver band on his left ring finger and the warmth of her love was clouded. He could taste the heat of its spark, but it was worlds away, in the depth of whatever home her mind now dwelled within. He fell to his knees beside her in the dirt, reaching for Jaina’s hand only to have his fingers pass through her as a phantom touch. Had he always been a ghost to her? Andon gazed behind him, to the city-planet on the verge of annihilation. He couldn’t stay, the longer he remained, the harder it was to hold back the Wellspring. If he lost control of all it contained, a terrible path of destruction would lay in the wake of all worlds between the city-planet and Onderon. He had to choose, for he could not save both the planet and Jaina. Whatever had happened to his love, she was the only one that could write the story of what she becomes now. He would find her again. His fractured heart pieced itself back together and limped forward unto what waited for him worlds away, for he had a task to finish. Coruscant needed him tonight… he lamented, Jaina did not. Andon’s lips found the unfeeling skin of his wife’s forehead, and the ghost in the night dissipated back into the dark that drew him forth, banishing him into her oblivion.
  2. The sun was high on the horizon, casting the shadowless haze of day upon an unfamiliar skyline; wholly alien, yet surreally familiar as a face long forgotten: an identity outside his grasp and a name just beyond the tip of his tongue. Andon stopped in his tracks, hand finding his brow in order to bide precious moments for his eyes to adjust to the harshness of the light and warmth of this world. He turned and looked behind him, perplexed to find the landing ramp and ship exactly as he had left it within the snowy cascade of Coruscanti starlight. Yet turning to look at the world before him, it was DISTINCTIVELY not Coruscant. Unconsciously, our Traveler caressed the silver band upon his left ring finger with the pad of his thumb. “Jaina.” The name was an exclamation as much as it was a revelation. She was here, he knew it in the depths of his heart. The ache of his spirit had led him to this world, but he could not reconcile what he was ACTUALLY doing here. He did not intend to walk the Fields of Infinity in order to chance a reunion with his beloved. Yet here Andon stood, a face among many in a crowd that witnessed a great and horrific procession of maleficent pomp and circumstance. He looked behind once more to ensure this was not a dream he had wandered into, but the ship and the Coruscant night were nowhere to be found: there was only a sea of endless faces. This was no dream, he was here on Onderon, in some form or another. He was sure of it. Mostly sure of it. Probably. He moved through the crowd with ease, bypassing plebeians and proletariat guard alike in his search for the epicenter of this grand display of might. He traveled as a specter, the echo of a life long forgotten. A ghost within the day. Indeed, there were a great many things about his abilities that he did not comprehend. So he walked as a reflection of unexistence among their lamentations and declarations of righteousness, the calls of all witnesses to this movement either falling on inherently indifferent or unwilling ears. What is this spectacle?. Whatever it was, he was reaching its center, for the density of Sith Troopers and sprawling citizenry intensified to near claustrophobic levels. Or they would have been, could an infinite being perceive such a concept as being trapped. The familiar anti-life of the ysalamir hung in the vibrations of the air, as they bore from within themselves an organic void within the Force. He felt a layer of his essence shudder and retreat from the bubble that nullified the senses of Jedi and Sith alike. But he was so much more than that singular definition of power now, for his strength did not dwindle, despite the ysalamir’s scourge of influence. There, at the event horizon of the procession, was a Great Shadow. And within the perpetual shade of its starless midnight, stood a single lantern of resolve against the dark: Jaina. His heart skipped a beat and his breath caught in his throat. Andon did not mean to come to this world, yet irreconcilably, he had found her. A moment containing all of forever poured outward from the depths of the ancient wellspring that called his body home. A subconscious bridge had been created between Onderon and Coruscant, with Andon at the pinpoint of its junction and all beings in between now interwoven to him but for a moment.Yet within that moment, not a single heart exchanged a beat within the form that contained it. Lungs exhaled no breath, gills abstained from extracting waste dioxide spent, photosynthetic respiration refrained from metabolization, and membrane permeation of osmosis gas exchange halted: all beings everywhere held their breath with this celestial being gazing upon his wife, synchronizing the pulse of their life force with his own. It was but a moment, but countless worlds gazed upon Jaina with longing, just as he did. Andon exhaled and the bridge fell within itself, obliterating a link so subtle, not even The Traveler of Anyhow and Everywhen realized it had been forged. Andon’s footfalls brought him beside Jaina and he dared not think too loudly, for fear she would hear him. He looked upon the form of her tattered flightsuit and hobbled leg, having the power to do anything and the ability to accomplish nothing here. For her mind had not called to his… it had thought of another. Not once had a single thought of hers crossed the threshold into the secret place within her heart that had always remained just for Andon. He could gaze through the very essence of reality, and yet in Jaina’s mind, there was only silence toward his presence. He had been remanded to but a visage, cloaked to all and hidden to himself. For whatever reason, she had chosen to leave her husband behind in this endeavor. Perhaps she did not need him for this. Maybe, she had grown past her need for him, period. For all his ability, he could not see what lay in a woman’s heart. He could only do what he had always done: help her be Jaina. And for now, that meant putting aside his selfish need of her, to let her see the task through which she had not found him worthy of being at her side to complete. Because she wanted it that way… perhaps even needed it. He reached out with his left hand, hovering the tips of his fingers centimeters from the strands of her matted chestnut brown hair. His evanescent touch traced a phantom caress that he dared not kiss her form with, for he would not be able to hide his presence from her. “I would have followed you.” Involuntarily, he uttered these words to her. Andon thought she almost turned her head to look upon him, but a gust of wind came slow across the horizon, lapping at the outer edges of her chestnut mane and drawing her attention elsewhere. A stray strand lifted from the crown of her head and time hung in an elongated fraction as his eyes watched it draw near to his skin. He could simply let it touch his hand and she would know that he was with her. That no matter what, Andon would not abandon her and leave Jaina alone in the dark. The auburn strand bathed in the sienna hues of the midday sun stretched for his grasp and his resolve weakened as the light’s reflection twinkled across his wedding band. The air vibrated between the closing gap of skin and keratin as the impending tickle of his love’s hair danced across palm, a mere molecule’s breadth between them. Andon flickered out of existence, like the memory of a ghost evaporating in the rays of day’s light. **** Addendum - This is for narrative dramatization purposes only, to reconcile the time jump from the Beta Forum. His presence is akin to a comm transmission sent from one thread to another. Andon is still very much on Coruscant, waiting for a moon to extinct the planet.
  3. Her words hung in the air and all that was left unsaid reverberated between the walls. For the briefest of moments, Andon turned his head to face an empty spot within the room, as if another person had entered it. Curious. His gaze held the spot for a moment, before his shook his head and returned his attention back to Emily. “I understand”, his voice was noticeably heavier. “You’re not our prisoner. I won’t keep you here, if that is what you wish. I don’t want to cause you pain by keeping you too close.” Andon no longer leaned against the bed frame, but moved toward Emily. His index finger found her chin and gently turned her face to him, their eyes meeting once more. “But we’re all that we have left. Trust me, it’s so much lonelier out there then any of us could ever realize. We’re here, together, now. That’s more family than the three of us have had in our entire lives.” His voice softened, no longer carrying the carefree humor that it possessed earlier. “So don’t go. Stay with me. Stay with both of us. I’m asking you to stay, for me. I’ve done things that have… changed me. I need you to be around, I need your help to remember what I once was.” Her uncle’s voice trailed off, as if even he was at a loss for words to describe all that he had been through and seen. “Stay for Tirzah. She wasn’t there to be a part of any hurts that may have been caused. She needs her cousin…”. For the first time in years, his voice sounded sad as the last sentence left his lips and floated outward into the air. He knew that the mere mention of Tirzah would draw about an agonizing loss from Emily that he would not be able to understand, as a man. “But I need to tell you something if you’re going to stay, something you should know.” Unconsciously, he reached out with his hand as if to trace the scars upon her stomach, but withdrew his hand. She had not taken it well the last time he had shown such affection, and didn’t want to cause her any more confliction. “On Yavin IV, when I … understood… what happened to you. When I touched the marks on your womb, I- I tried to change what had happened.” Andon dropped his gaze to the floor, ashamed to look at her. “I tried to save your child. But I couldn’t. For all I’ve become, there are still some things that I cannot do. What happened with the Cult, it was a fixed event in time. Not even I could change what happened… I couldn’t take that hurt from you.” He sat down on the bed, resting his chin within the web of his hand. He was dangerously mortal in this moment, and became unsure for the first time in many lifetimes. “I tried, but I couldn’t save you from that. I’m so sorry…”
  4. Within the jaws of Creational Zero, cast asunder from the Waterfalls of Endless Realty, our Traveler had been isolated within the Empty In Between of all that would ever exist. He pondered if he had made a catastrophic mistake in his process of being infinitely undone, wondering if it would have been better to let the tunnel finish its task of floating away all that he was. Atom by atom he had been scattered into the unknown, yet the smallest speck of his failing heart would not yield. That tiny, stubborn fracture of consciousness that could not bid goodnight to the light of Jaina’s love, was the catalyst that marked the end of the omniverse’s curtain call and became the prelude to Andon’s great Encore of Creation. Deeper down he sank within the maw, tendrils of warmth grasping desperately to his ankles, taking him down 20 Million Leagues Below the Sea of The Endless. There was no shaping this current, nor steering its intent to conform to our hero’s will. For this, he was a mere passenger, terrifying in its own right to the boy who would be king. Hands desperately clawed for any notion of grip within the tides of ethereal empty, revealing no foothold for which to brace himself upon. Downward he went, reaching skyward toward a plane that bore no skies, only to find his hand breaching the break of lavender waves and and depositing him upon a beach of pale azure sand. There was no sun on this world, he soon realized, as he gazed upon the horizon and found dozens of small moons that refracted light from an unknown source upon the shore. How so many satellites in close proximity did not shear the planet into fragments with the multitude of contrasting gravity pulls, he did not know. But in this moment Andon did not care, for he exhaled in relief that he was somewhere. He did not know, he was in fact *many* somewheres, but that is a tale for another time. For now, he reveled upon the world in which he found himself on. He never envisioned that his life would take him to such a place, but he realized that it was, indeed, a good place to find himself. Movement in the distance drew his eyes from the horizon, down to slender forms that vanished as their gazes met his. Something here was alive with him… *** Andon opened his eyes and found that he was no longer staring at the waves of lavender ocean, but was laying in the Captain’s Quarters of the Traitor’s Hope. He no longer dreamed when he slept, if such a thing as sleep could describe the quiet motions of his mind in slumber amongst the tides of eternity. Jaina stirred in the bed next to him, and he smiled, realizing this too was a wonderful place to find himself in. Reluctantly, he unraveled himself from the form of his wife and the endless plush sea of blankets she was now surrounded in, and stood up from the bed. It was good to be home. He walked over to the bulkhead wall that was shared between the Captain’s quarters and life support control room… something had caught his eye when they had passed from one side of the wall to the other. Hazel-gray ears looked upon a particular panel for a moment, before he squinted his eyes and the panel slid back, revealing a hidden compartment. He did not find a smuggler’s bounty of treasure within the walls, but to Jaina it was a treasure, indeed. In this sliver of the ship, hung neatly pressed shirts and pants. Clothing that belonged to Andon, specifically. He turned his face toward his wife and smiled, for no matter how hard she had tried to remove the Jedi from her thoughts, Jaina had kept that which reminded her of her husband close and safe. Finding that his current robes would be in need of a deep scrubbing after Jaina’s escapades in repairing the hyperdrive, Andon was glad to have something else to wear. From the hangers, he removed a charcoal gray, long-sleeve button up shirt and black pants; the clothing still immaculately tailored, just as he remembered. Black boots with a surprisingly recent shine and an onyx colored thigh-length long coat completed the outfit change. Andon did not wake Jaina when he exited the room, for she would know where he had gone. Emily. He began to walk toward her quarters, sensing the increasing confliction of his niece’s thoughts. The perpetual struggle to go or stay: she was more like her Aunt Jaina than she realized. Andon stood before the door leading to her room for a moment before knocking, gleaning from the air the chill of jealousy and ache that echoed within the corridor. He lightly rapped on the door with two knuckles, knowing his presence had already announced who was on the other side. It just wasn’t polite to simply barge into a lady’s quarters, after all. There was no immediate answer to his request to enter. “The answer is stay. Don’t leave…” It was abrupt, yet intimate in tone. One day, Andon would have to work on answering questions that only existed as thoughts in the minds of others. But today was not that day.
  5. Right. Oxygen. Suffocation. These are still things. I should probably fix that… Jaina had made no attempt to respond to his last revelation, so he departed her company and wandered to the cockpit. While he was waiting for her to sort out whatever existential longing had gripped her spirit tight, he would ensure that the Traitor’s Hope didn’t catastrophically decompress and kill everyone inside. The horrific deaths of everyone would put a certain damper on the reunion. If I can actually be killed. As of yet, all signs pointed to no. He sighed, mindlessly tapping on the computer screen as the terminal performed its self-diagnosis of the ship. The Traveler felt the burning warmth of Jaina’s presence as she approached him. A swarm of feelings and emotions began to boil over as the emotional currents of her inner storm began to churn and shudder. His face was hidden from his wife as she entered the cockpit, the weight of her footsteps screaming her frustration, as they always had in their frantic clatter. Despite himself, Andon smiled, if only for a moment. She was still his Jaina. No foreplay, straight to business, as she unloaded the verbal assault that had been building since Andon first entered her life again, cavalier and full of magnificence as only a celestial scoundrel could. He had traveled so far and overcame odds that would have driven any other being in the depths of endless despair, spiraling into irrevocable madness. As he listened to her pour out the wellspring of her heart to him, Jaina’s words wounded him more intimately than any trial could. The brilliance of his presence wavered in her crumbling walls relaying the bitterness and agony that had been haunting the length of her days in his absence and the beguiling ache of his return. Her last sentence shattered all that. Did she honestly ask me about touching the ship? A smile broke out across his face and it took all his eternal restraint to stifle a warm-hearted chuckle, staring at her in all her rage, covered head to toe in hyperdrive grease. She was definitely still his wife. “Are you for real right now?” His smile was warm and reassuring. “Are you seriously upset about me fixing your ship?” The furrow of her brow flickered for a moment, as though she had expected him to respond to her flurry of frustration in kind. Her auburn-green eyes darted to the lit panel behind him, then back to meet his, suddenly seeming drastically less sure of herself. “Yes?” Her chest heaved an exasperated sigh that was laughably familiar. “You just--you came out of nowhere--like you can fix everything--but I can fix it just fine, I just--” her words trailed off in a sputter of backfiring emotion and irritation as she pressed a hand to her eyes. He closed the gap between them and rested his hand along her face. The touch of his fingers were light and warm as he brushed the stray strands of her brandy brown locks out of her face, taking in the softness of her skin against his. With a delicate tracing of his fingers, the chestnut strands of Jaina’s hair were tucked tenderly behind her ear. Andon held his hand there for moment, taking in the sheer experience of being near her once more. “I know.” His words were soft, whispering all the affection he could not speak in this moment. “You’ve always been strong, but we’re better together. We’ve always been stronger as a team.” Andon’s hand brushed aside a patch of grease that had collected at the corner of Jaina’s chin. “You and I… it’s the most irreplaceable feeling in all the universe.” Hazel-gray eyes carried a flicker of something within his gaze, a hint of understanding waiting just beneath the surface. Irascibly, Jaina swiped at the same grease spot with her sleeve. Though obviously intent to rub it out of existence, the movement only resulted in leaving a new streak along her jawline. “For anyone else, that would be merely superlative,” she shot back waspishly. “For you, I’m not at all sure. Maybe you’ve been through the universe looking for that same feeling.” The pettiness of her sharp words belied the flicker of insecurity that blossomed in the recesses of her murky eyes. Andon studied her eyes for a long while and his smile grew after finding what he sought. “This universe, that universe, many universes. Did you know you’re irritatingly unique in all creation?” She was not amused. “Don’t patronize me, Andon,” she said, a spike of pain echoing through the Force as she folded her arms across her chest. “You could mend every facet of this ship just by looking at it, somehow, and you’re only letting me put my hand to it to begin with.” He reached out and removed the streak of grease that Jaina had managed to smear even further across her jawline. She showed him no warmth, but did not recoil nor prevent his touch. “Let’s be honest, no one LETS you do anything.” His eyes squinted ever so slightly, with a hint of teasing. “Not now, not ever.” She had, somehow, become even less amused: a monumental achievement in doghouse dwelling. The choleric glint of her stare hardened. “Did you just up and disappear from this galaxy to seek your fame and fortune as some interstellar quantum ship mechanic? Being a Jedi wasn’t good enough for you?” She had wiped the kind smile from her husband’s face and replaced it with a coy smirk. “You got me dead to rights. The whole Hero and Husband thing just lacked a certain pizazz. Changed career paths and traveled to the far reaches of the universe to be a flight jockey and mechanic extraordinaire.” He turned his back to her and began rummaging through a nearby storage compartment, withdrawing a somewhat clean rag. He tossed it to Jaina, for it was decidedly less filthy than her currently. “Even had my own show on the Holonet, very popular in syndication.” His eyes looked past her, towards the hyperdrive, and his smirk grew. He snapped his fingers and the ship dropped out of hyperspace. “By the way, you crossed your dampening capacitors on the hyperdrive, we were three seconds from implosion. Not a big deal for me being… a thing. A terminal gravity shear wouldn’t even affect me.” A wave of his hand hurtled the ship back into depths of hyper travel. “You know, quantum mechanic intuition. You’re welcome.” The light in his eyes dimmed and the emotion fell from his face. “Is that honestly what you think, that Jedi just wasn’t good enough and I left?” He turned to face her once more, taking several strides to stand before her. “Go ahead, Master Jedi, ask.” Not even his celestial resolve could mask the hurt in his voice. “Ask me why I left.” The frigid, stony resolve on her face contorted in response to his cutting sarcasm, and the rag he had tossed to her became the scapegoat of the torrential emotion that spilled out from inside the buttoned-up exterior of his wife, wrung mercilessly between her hands. The pointed barb of his final words had pierced the shield of her rage, and the frost in her eyes melted into runoff that erupted onto her cheeks as she shook her head, unwilling to meet his gaze, obviously struggling to collect herself into words. As though she bore heavy weights around her neck, it took a concerted effort for his wife to meet Andon’s gaze. The hollow sadness that emanated from her deep eyes painted a grand mural that he could read, the time and space she had inhabited without him displayed as a work of art painted in fresco, dried into the plaster of her soul. Unspeakable loss wove its way to the forefront, and the fear that colored her thoughtless jabs spilled out from between trembling lips. “You left me nothing,” she whispered pleadingly, pressing the rag into his chest. “There was no word, dead or alive, no one who could tell me anything about where you’d gone. All I wanted was--something--some word, anything--” Pain strangled her words into nothingness as Jaina and Andon locked eyes, all pretense set aside. Breathlessly, achingly, she pressed her hands into his chest as though she could make him more real. “Why did you leave?” There was no accusation in her voice, just the phantom of her lonely sadness. Her words extinguished the fervor of his anger, but he wasn’t quite ready to let it go entirely. The anamorphic display of all she contained behind the walls that had become the shelter of her trembling heart had fallen to the touch of his forceful display of wit. He had expected the razor of her fury and the guile of her venom; however, the tenderness of his wife’s heart had struck him as decidedly unexpected. Unnervingly unexpected. He tilted his head to the left as he searched the cascade of her auburn-green eyes, unable to reconcile why she had chosen this moment to reveal her depths to him. There was no answer he could comprehend, that would make rational sense. Though when it came to navigating the waters of feminine rationale, such concepts were not always necessary. “I had nothing to leave you with.” His voice was decidedly more tender than the last time he spoke. “There was no goodbye, no grand farewell, no kiss good night… because there was no you. There was no memory to leave it to.” The hands of his wife that were pressed into Andon’s chest were taken into his own, his fingers entwining with hers: both now shared hands of grease and grime. “The Grey Goddess robbed me of any feeling and thought that our family ever existed. She exorcised my longing and desire, casting me into exile and forcing me to wander without any notion that I had a wife and daughter. Meeting Emily on Corellia that day ended everything for me.” Her face looked up to him longingly, the warm tears of her remorse carving deep trails through the grease on her face. It was utterly endearing, in the most Jaina way possible. “I didn’t leave. I searched for you and Tirzah, for some answer to why I couldn’t even picture your faces. I traveled and learned many… unnatural abilities… but none led to you. And when this galaxy no longer had any more answers, I ventured outward.” Andon reached up and cupped his wife’s chin in his hand. “I didn’t abandon you, there are places I went that one does not simply leave. I got lost and searched for a way back.” He could feel his own tears begin to well now, reliving where he had gone through the lense of Jaina’s loneliness. “I entered a threshold that was meant to never be crossed… and then I could see you and Tirzah again.” She had finally undone him. “That’s why I came back. It’s why it had to be now and here that I am with you again. It was the first moment I could. Everywhere I’ve been… it’s not like what you think. It’s not an infinite cycle, it’s a series of choices and doors to navigate.” Andon’s voice became infinitely soft. “Sometimes it takes you places that you don’t want to go. But I found you again.”
  6. There was something tangible within the Traitor’s Hope that was not there before. He had sensed boundless sorrow and the depths of grief that could find no floor within an ocean of being undone. Had he been so cruel to ask the mother of his child for her location? He did not know of any other way to phrase it that could have softened the blow. No, this was a world-ending question that Andon knew would break Jaina’s heart no matter eloquently he could have asked her. Our Traveler of many worlds and times had found that his heart had grown cold in his walk among the stars. It struck him bitterly that he could be so inhumane, noting the irony that he was indeed inhuman, in more ways than one. But still, in watching her grief and witnessing the compassion that Emily laid out from the depths of her heart toward her aunt, it awakened something that had been absent within the corridors of this ship for too long. Tenderness. It was there, not just as an echo or the memory of what it was like to care, but daring to venture forth in all its strength and beauty. Jaina, who had placed her heart behind a gate of steel and stone insurmountable to even herself, allowed that which she felt to boil over and break into the light of day. Emily, who had known such cruelty and abandon, having no reason to rely on anything that could subject her to rejection and pain, allowed her heart to comfort and feel. Even the Celestial, that could only remember what it was like to walk as a man like one remembers daydreams from long ago, found his humanity blooming in the light of all he witnessed. Tears adorning her auburn-green eyes, Jaina crossed the distance between husband and wife, burrowing her face into the safety of his chest. The absolute zero of infinite starscape melted, allowing him to be Andon once more as he held Jaina close in his embrace. He felt her now, differently than before, as if she was willing to be vulnerable before him. Emotions that she had previously held ransom from the touch of his mind, began to shine through the splinters of the wall that her heart now called home. It was her turn to end the world with a question: Can you find her? Such a word as “can” was a foreign language to Andon, as such a word implied possibility without the assurance the task would be seen to fruition. “Can” was beguiled by “could”, implying the potential that it would not be completed in absolution. It had never dawned on him that such a thing as failing Tirzah could exist in a creation that bore him as the Celestial Hero of Infinity. Not anymore, not again. Jaina removed her face from the depths of his robes and gazed upon him with pleading eyes. Her face was strewn with the streaks of haunted tears and searched him for the promise of a hope she had long resigned herself to deny. Within the ambiance of the ship, his shaggy grown hair cast a dim shade across his features, but the light of his hazel-gray eyes could not be contained by mere parlor tricks of shadow and lighting. Jaina’s mind touched him in the core of his being, searching for a reason to believe. Belief that what was once broken can be renewed. Husband and wife, till death and into eternity, and back again. Jaina still looked to him for the assurance to continue on, even after all she had done in a world without him. A mighty Jedi Master in her own right, and she could still remember what it meant to be the wife of Andon Colos. He was humbled. The touch of his heart reached for hers. Everything lost will be made new again. This I vow to you wife, it will all be renewed. The backs of his fingers delicately brushed his wife’s tears away, knowing more would well to the surface with his response. “I already have,” his voice was soft, but contained an inner wellspring of focus and resolution. “I can hear Tirzah’s whispers into the ether. She is singing to herself.” A melody without origin began to resonate within the walls of the ship. A little girl’s humming could be distantly heard, as if it were not born of this world. The sweet notes it carried embraced the Traitor’s Hope. For all his power and ability, Andon felt his own heart as it shuddered with a whimper of longing to free Tirzah from whatever bastion of darkness she now called home. “We need to be near her body, though. She is still tethered to it. Though she is hidden, I will follow the line to her and bring her home.” Andon took Jaina’s face into his hands, “This is my promise, wife, it will be done.” The Traveler that bore a scarred face and eyes that had seen too much, waved his hand and the navigation computer glowed to life. Controls gave way to phantom hands that worked the ship as only a Maestro could in this great symphony of anticipation. Into the atmosphere the YT-1930 soared, engines struggling, but bending to a will that would not let them fail. The roar of the hyperdrive began its tumultuous winding, warping the fabric of realspace and piercing forth into the currents of hyperspace. Gone from the universe as it was known, the Traitor’s Hope departed, and into adventure they went.
  7. Morthos. Yes, that was his name. He listened to Emily recount all the events that she and Jaina had with the cult and the adventure to discover where their true intentions led. His niece spoke of many individuals that he remembered, as if from another lifetime. In a fragment of a moment, Andon lost himself to his thoughts, a swirling cascade of faces from long ago drifting through his consciousness in a gentle rush of emotion. Alora. His thoughts went to the day they met, standing along the wake of the burning forests of Borleias. A game had started between the two of them, with the rules making for a consequence he could have never foreseen. This was the fallout of a brash Jedi Knight, full of power and lacking wisdom. The setting sun and smoldering tree line had framed the relationship they would share for as long as the other lived. John. As he listened to Emily speak of the Cult’s incursion into his fortress on Raxus Prime, a distant smile couldn’t help but form within the corners of Andon’s mouth. His friend. His brother. Andon longed for the days in which his left eye could view all that John did and recount his memories and feelings as easily as one could turn the pages within a journal. The journal was blank now and every time he reached out to stir the bond he shared with the Sith Master, there was only crushing darkness. Emily would never know how much our Traveler missed her father. He still thought of John often, hoping he had found peace within the folds of the eternity. Jaina. His heart leapt into his throat at the mere mention of her name. Though she was here with him now, ages had passed through the currents of time in which he could not even remember the letters of his wife’s name. Hearing it aloud was still melodic to him, a reassuring flutter that he could not quell, nor did he desire to see its impact silenced. Each time her name was whispered, he was alive again. A flicker of dread had scurried across the fringe of Jaina’s thoughts and he turned his head to face her. The Traveler tilted his head to the right, imperceptibly, as he looked upon the face of his wife. Andon was listening to Emily, but the touch of his mind brushed that of his wife’s. She had retreated within the walls of her heart and he found himself once more standing at the framework of the gate, his hand tentatively resting along the door. Waiting, always waiting. An abrupt scream from Jaina broke him from the tracing of her thoughts, hazel-gray eyes peering beyond the debris and smoke of battle to note a Corellian freighter in the distance. His inmost was a tranquil and infinite ocean, but the sheer presence of his beloved had an unaccounted side effect: feelings. For a trembling blink within time, a flush of power escaped through a fissure along his boundless presence, before he was able to recall it. The very nature of humanity stood at odds with everything the Celestial had become in his travels across infinity. He had grown absolute, but love had undone all that. The tendrils of time wrapping themselves about his will and the expanse of the eternal that now dwelled within were eschewed by the ichor of mortality that had begun to stir when his eyes first rested upon her beauty. Under the azure light of the valley, Jaina had broken something within his resolve. For the briefest of instances, he had become unnerved. It was becoming clear that, perhaps, it would be more difficult to possess both the infinite and humane than originally assumed. In a blur, Jaina had taken off toward the ship. A gentle squeeze of her uncle’s grip grasped Emily’s hand before he gave chase after his wife, taking his niece with him. Though the Jedi Master had used the Force to enhance her speed as she rushed toward the Traitor’s Hope at an impossible speed, the Traveler surpassed her footsteps, erasing the gap of her head start. Andon turned his head to gaze at her as she ran, her form suspended in time to his perception. Brandy brown locks flowed behind the Jedi, the strands frozen in a soundless vacuum that desperately attempted to keep pace with her sprint. Auburn-green eyes narrowed in focus and lips that made his heart race, formed into a thin line to hide the panic that simmered just beneath the surface. He slowed his footfalls and watched her dash before him, reaching the ship first. With a rush of wind, Andon and Emily arrived a few moments after her. As she began to venture up the landing ramp into the ship, he was at her side in an instant. Jaina felt her husband reach out and take her free hand into his own: his hand was rough, but his touch was warm. Hazel-gray eyes simultaneously scanned the ship and the expanse of existence, gazing deeply into both realms, searching for something just outside his reach. Panels sparked with electric fury and debris lay strewn about the ship’s corridors, marring the haven that the Traitor’s Hope had been for Jaina. His mind wandered along the hull’s exterior, the blackened metal warped and agape from the attack of the shuttle’s concussion missile. Andon reached out and traced his fingertips along the fire-licked wall of the starboard side corridor, leaving lines in the ash that followed the path. The ship was not in good condition… she had been mortally wounded. Key word: had been. He smiled to himself. The ship spoke to him, whispering to him about what it desired to be whole again. To his cosmic gaze, broken bulkheads were stamped with “WELD HERE”. Damaged wires, frayed beyond recognition called out with “SOLDER HERE” and “SPLICE TO REACTIVATE”. As he walked along the ship, ravaged electronics hummed “BYPASS THIS, WIRE HERE”. Exposed servos and stabilizers lured him in with “THIS GOES HERE, THAT GOES THERE”. Across the entire ship, she was speaking to him through the hurt, knowing she could be made to soar among the stars again. Andon stopped before a gaping hole in the exterior hull that allowed a startling amount of Yavin IV's sunlight to shine into the corridor. A discomforting amount of twisted and jagged metal protruded downward, blocking their path moving forward. The is the wound that had pierced into the heart of the ship. He touched the first petal of steel with the tip of his index finger, effortlessly pushing it upward where it belonged. He did the same for each piece until the corridor was no longer blocked and the hole was mostly patched. Shrapnel from the hole had peppered other parts of the ship and some fragments had simply been obliterated within the initial explosion. It was almost impossible to repair. Almost. He laid the palm of his hand flat against the re-positioned petals of steel that filled the gap of the hole. A quiet energy began to emanate from his touch, drawing the fragments of shrapnel that pierced the interior of the ship out into the air. They floated delicately upward, finding the gaps and slivers that they originally occupied before the attack. Ash and carbon drenched the interior of the ship, but small clouds of atomized particles began to lift themselves from the floors and walls. They too drifted upward, the particles recusing themselves to their homes of structural integrity. All across the exterior, interior, and surrounding area of the Traitor’s Hope, fragments and particles floated through the air and returned to where they belonged. The holes and gaps created by marred metal and transparisteel responded to the call of his touch, moving to the current of his will. With a groan and flash of soft warmth, the sub-atomic particles that provided strength and structure to the exterior hull were once again made whole. The YT-1930 was again worthy of breaking through the atmosphere and journeying into the depths of space. The quality of the journey, however, still left something to be desired. Andon let go of Jaina’s hand and entered the access hatch leading to the sublight engines and hyperdrive. He ran his touch along the machinery, feeling and listening for the ship to speak to him. The hyperdrive would require much work, but the auxiliary hyperdrive remained undamaged. They could still travel among the stars and use the time to repair the main drive. His hand rested along the sublight engines and they warmed to his touch, purring to life. He turned to look upon his wife and the scar along his face softened as his mouth grew into a lopsided grin. The grin quickly turned into a frown as the sublight engines sputtered and died, abruptly. “That's what you think, sweetheart.” A swift strike with the heel of his hand brought the engines back to life with a roar, before they settled into an idle. An idle that now possessed a disconcerting amount of vibration and a clunking sound that he couldn’t quite identify. It was ugly, but the Traitor’s Hope was worthy of the sky. Albeit, it would be closer to limping across the stars than it would be to gliding. “We should probably take off while we can,” his voice was light. “We can fix the rest of the ship on the way.” Jaina looked at him, waiting for him to finish the thought. He looked at her but was unable to tell what she was thinking in that moment. The smile from his face began to fade and the perpetual light within his hazel-gray eyes dimmed. “Take me to Tirzah’s body.”
  8. “Full disclosure, the most impressive thing witnessed was the first usage of “Too-de-loo”, by any being within the universe, in about nine centuries. Record was held by a Zabrak grandma leaving Church Bingo,” he casually shook his head in disbelief. “What a run.” The statement was irreverent and highly inappropriate for the situation at hand: only confirming that it was truly the Jedi, Andon Colos, that walked among them now. If, Jedi was a comprehensive enough term to describe what he had become, that is. It wasn’t. The Traveler turned his head skyward, gazing at the departure vector of the Gamma-class shuttle as it disappeared into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. His eyes softened and the corner of his mouth turned upward into a lopsided grin, as if he knew the punchline of the joke, before the set-up had been delivered. The shuttle had escaped the atmosphere, but Emily’s assault had done more damage than previously assumed. “Ruptured fuel line explosion in 3… 2… 1,” a tiny speck of light in the lower reaches of Yavin IV’s orbit plumed and winked out of existence. “And boom goes the dynamite.” A few seconds later, faint streaks of light danced across the horizon, marking the debris of the shuttle being unceremoniously immolated as it re-entered the moon’s atmosphere.((Yeah, no. Not up to you to decide if the shuttle goes kaboom, Celestial entity or not. Sorry. --RM)) Andon called out to Emily and Jaina. “Guess we’ll never know what was in that fashionable satchel, now.” It was easy to be lost within the elation of being reunited with his wife and niece, forgetting the burden that he had carried so long during his perpetual odyssey through eternity. He was alive, and his heart was full: it was enough for him. However, his joy was not a consensus shared between the trio that were left alone on the moon. A tangible anguish hovered in the air around the three, absconding away with the anticipation this moment should have contained, leaving behind only the shroud of doubt and pain. “Emily...” Hazel-gray eyes searched her over as he began his belayed and intrepid steps to approach her. Much had changed about her in the years they had spent apart, after she had last departed from him on Corellia. It must have been a strange sight for Emily to see her Uncle unchanged, as if he had become suspended in time, visiting from a memory of long ago. But it was indeed Andon, carrying the same essence of spirit and kindness of eyes that she had known her entire life. He titled his head to the side and his eyes gained an almost imperceptible squint as he looked upon her from but a few feet away. Emily carried a wound deeper than any scar a mortal body could bear. He stepped closer, with a gentleness even he was unaware was capable of being expressed, and slowly reached out to her. The tips of his fingers lightly grazed her stomach, tracing the lines of a saber mark that had pierced to the heart of her being. He mentally shuddered as the wash of what it entailed passed through him. Emily had been robbed of something sacred and intimate, in the most vile and cruel manner. Across the tapestry of time and space, every version of Andon experienced the inexplicable shattering of his heart for her. In its wake, a deep mourning lamented throughout the expanse of eternity. “I’m so sorry.” His fingertips retreated from the phantom pain left behind by the scar upon her womb, and he delicately placed his hand against the back of neck, pulling her into an embrace. He who had been gone among the stars for so long, had no right to affection from those he had left behind. Yet, a part of him was still human, and it was his niece. Andon could only offer her an embrace, hoping it still contained the same solace of protection that it did long ago, when Emily was but a girl with eyes too smart for her age. A flush of rage flowed through the currents of his aura as the haunting memory of Emily's torment became his to carry with her. The reckoning for this Cult was nigh. He retreated from Emily, turning to face the body of Not-Quite-Andon as he lay collapsed in a crumpled heap upon the jungle floor. He stood there for a moment, midnight cloak billowing in the humid breeze as the stench of battle filled his nostrils, noting all the death and destruction that the Cult had left behind on this world. Utterly uncivilized, he mused. His right arm hung casually down at his sides, but curiously his fingers began moving in a rhythmic pattern to the tune of an unheard melody within the winds that blew through the valley. An even curiouser thing happened, as the body of Not-Quite-Andon began to stir and move, retracing the movements that had occurred just moments ago. The Traveler had created a pocket in time, recreating that events that had just unfolded. The body moved backwards in time past the emerald smoldering of its skull, unsplittling the head and making it whole once more along the foundry of the familiar scar. Andon manipulated time, reversing the direction of its current and observing its components as easily as one would play back a holovid at a data terminal. Andon paused at the moment the entity lowered its hood to reveal a face he knew well. The Celestial had become a curious being, indeed. “See, this isn’t even a good likeness,” he turned to Jaina and Emily, pointing at the scar adorning the right side of its face. “This scar is an exact 90-degree angle, everyone knows my scar is off-kilter at an adorable 93 degrees of imperfection.” He twitched his finger and the being progressed forward in this visage of time, giving its Dastardly Monologue of Insidious Intent. Boring. Andon bypassed it, going to the interesting part, where the skull cracked upon along the scar and revealed something within the all consuming viridian fire. There, he was sure had seen it before, but now it was clear to Emily and Jaina as well. There was an inhuman face within the hearth of the flames. “Now, which one of these little cosmic pricks are you.” The Traveler extended his arm out toward the entity, rotating his wrist so the palm of his hand faced skyward. His index finger curled quickly towards his wrist, beckoning the viridian energy forward from its paradox of time. Hazel-gray eyes became opaque within the folds of bending reality to his whim, gleaning that which he desired to know from the energy's depth. This small fragment of the entity submitted entirely to Andon's will, holding no sway or influence within the palm of his hand. It was detached from its master, a mere echo of the power it once exhumed. “It’s definitely not a celestial. Its power is old, but it’s bound to the laws of this universe. It does not tread the Shores of Infinity, not like-”, he paused his sentence, thinking it better to not finish it. He shifted the fragment of the specter from one palm to the next, looking deeply upon it. Andon reached into the depths of existence, searching for a moment that evaded the forefront of his mind. Something was unsettling about how familiar this creature was to him. He knew this entity. Our celestial hero exhaled, turning to face the girls. “I met him in my travels,” his voice was distant, as if speaking from within the memory of a dream he could not quite recall. “There was a… structure… and within its bowels, was a chamber. Inside the chamber, was a cage. This entity was in it.” He shifted the energy fragment back into his right hand, titling his head to the left as he dwelled upon all the threads of reality that were woven to it. ** His thoughts drifted distantly, to the Cage Within the Bowels of Forever. Andon had walked the halls leading to the door, almost afraid to open the chamber and gaze upon what was inside. He grasped the handle and turned it. A slow and visceral creak echoed throughout the hall, signaling the lock’s release as the door swung forward. Inside was a lone cage, containing a yellow songbird. A light shone upon it, without a source to be observed. The bird was facing away from Andon and when it heard his entrance, it turned its head to face him. Andon would never forget the smile that crept across the songbird’s face, when it gazed upon his scar... ** His thoughts returned to the here and now. “It beckoned me to set it free, with promise of a great reward. ‘The only reward worthy of me’, it had said.” A flicker of vibrant bronze cast itself across his pupils before fading, “It promised me Jaina… but I denied him." The Traveler's eyes dropped to the ground briefly, as if recalling details better left in the past. "There was something... unsettling... about him. So, I left him caged and locked the door behind me.” There was no more to be learned from this moment. With the slithering orb of energy still within his control, Andon rubbed his palms together vigorously, breaking down the bonds holding the fragment of the entity whole. He drew a deep breath and blew outward into his palms, scattering the discarded molecules of the entity into the ether, never to be seen again. There was no more visage in time to see and the temporal paradox, too, returned as he had found it. Andon turned to face Jaina and Emily. “Tell me more about this cult.”
  9. Floating through the starless maw, he had entered a realm of shadow, one that was darker to view with one’s eyes open. He had crossed into a plane where it made no difference to navigate with eyes wide open or closed indeterminately. It was cold, though he did not expect a place of creational void to feel any different. I don’t know what I was expecting. His thoughts echoed from all directions, as if he were performing a ballad for infinite patrons within an everlasting Great Hall. Only it was an audience of one, and he was unsure of even that. Andon felt stretched into an infinitely thin strand, tempered by time, and weathered to the verge of collapsing within himself. But he still clung to hope, that he would soon approach a dawn that did not begin and end with navigating a star-vacant sea of Never-to-Be. He knew it to be true, that he would create a new day that existed beyond breathless desire, left unrequited within the backdrop of his own odyssey. Jai… A ripple in the maw began a timid wave of energy. Through the void, he reached for it, feeling traces of warmth within this prison of absolute zero. Soon. *** He followed the touch of Jaina’s hand through the reverie of his own deep and wandering thoughts. There were only mere inches between the pair of star-crossed lovers, but auburn-green eyes gazed intimately into the very heart of who he had become, searching through endless cascades of time for an answer to her question she could finally deny. She searched him for a reason to leave, but he had none to offer. Not this time. This lifetime, he was here for the long-haul. The scar along his face softened as he relaxed his features, simply resting in the presence of her gaze. His heart reached cautiously outward and brushed against the walls that had become so familiar around hers; a soothing touch along the lines he could begin to feel opening between the layers. It whispered to her, words so faint, they wouldn’t dare to be spoken louder than a hushed promise. I’m with you, until the end of the line. There was a great shadow of guilt that surrounded Jaina, a terrible creature of burden that had wrapped its evanescent tendrils tighter around her, with each breath she took in his presence. Tenderly, he probed it with his mind, not to disturb, but to simply understand. Flashes of places and beings within her timeline that had been hidden to him were revealed. There were many new faces, and some unexpected ones as well, that had shaped her life without him. There was much sadness and doubt, marred by the weight of responsibility and loss. Through each of these moments was another presence, he could see it now. A white wolf. It was very distant to detect, but also very near, as if it was coming from both within her, yet also from points outside of her. There was a face within the gaze of the White Wolf, one he had not looked upon in many years. A curious tale to be told, indeed, when the time was right. But now was not that time, and he retreated from his stroll just outside the boundaries of the Guilt Wraith. A fractional pang of loss pricked the inside of his heart as his wife’s gaze rested upon him, conveying she had felt him experience a glimpse of her burden and journey. She, like the rest of all those he held dear, had moved on without him. For the first time since their reunion of destiny, sadness haunted his hazel-gray eyes. Others had gotten on with their lives, but he had not forgotten: he could never forget all that he felt for her, and what it had meant. Her touch once again shook him from this reverie, as he could feel the trickle of all she felt and had within, begin to slip through the minuscule fissures within her walls. There was something there, that had not been so, just a moment before. Love. She still loved him, the same as she always had, and now reached for him gently, in a way he had worried would never be again. She called to him, begging for him to teach her to remember all the ways they had loved, the way he had endeavored to never abandon, for it was eternally true and good. She looked at him with longing to remember the boundless love of their youth, so they could share it once more. Husband and wife, again. Jaina took his face delicately in her hands, and he felt himself begin to warm. He stole a small smile for the just the two of them, as he watched her remove a length of fabric from her tabard and adorn it around his eyes, just as she had done so long ago on Chad. She exhaled all the doubts she could not bear to speak aloud, and he inhaled the breath of her longing, for they would now bear it together. Both had spent so long existing, yet not living. They each had fought and striven for insurmountable goals, but had survived in the absence of being human. Her mind wandered, looking for answers for how they could return, after so long apart. The answers were found by timid fingers that traced the lines of his jaw and found their rest just above the beat of his heart. The heart that had always beat for her. She explored him, searching for the unspeakable, knowing all that he had was hers. Her lips found his neck and he was alive again, in this world he had created, unbound by time, and limited only by their own desire. She exhaled, “You’re here”, and breathed him in, once more. Andon held her for a long while, running his hands along her form, as if warming her, by degrees, from the long winter’s night Jaina had endured without him. An ancient and raw power that existed before creation, flowing freely within the ethereal currents of timelessness, now flowed through his veins. Yet, he quieted its call and brought his boundless power to little more than a dull rumble. For so long he had struggled with the endlessness of Infinity within and the longing mortal heart it enveloped. But today, it was not a struggle, for she made him feel entirely human. With her, he was simply Andon, again. He chose to be Andon: for Jaina. His hand reached up and cupped her jaw within the web of his hand, between his thumb and forefinger. His thumb gently moved back and forth against the side of her cheek, caressing it in a slow tempo. Her skin was soft and warm, just as he had remembered. Andon shifted his hand, tracing the contours of her lower lip with a light and impossibly slow touch, taking in every part of how she felt. His touch was warm against her skin, sending ripples of longing throughout her being, as his heart whispered once more. I belong to you. In this galaxy and the next. His fingertips continued their impossibly slow journey of her form, traveling down the nape of her neck, and delicately tracing the lines of her collar bones. Her heart rate increased, and he found his own heart beginning to mirror hers. His touch led downward against her bare skin, resting along the beat of her heart, drinking in every note of its flutter; for the pulse of Jaina's heart beneath his hand was sweeter than any melody that could be fathomed. Her gaze caught his through the sheer fabric, beckoning him to continue. His fingertips renewed their impossibly slow, almost teasing, venture as they caressed and embraced the warmth of her skin against his own. Jaina’s breathing increased sharply, and Andon found his lungs burning for oxygen, as well, unsure of how long he had been holding his breath. A Traveler of many places and infinite times, he was finally exploring the great adventure he had sought for so long. It was a desire that had kept him going, when little else could. Just the hope of her scent and touch, made him capable of things that dreams dared not wonder. Now that he had both, Andon was alive for the first time, again. She turned to face him, slowly unveiling Andon’s eyes from underneath the fabric in which she had cloaked them. Jaina held the bolt of fabric between her hands and gently laid it across the back of her husband’s neck, pulling him resolutely downward into a deep kiss, pressing her lips firmly against his. The barest whispers of desperation increased, second by second, as time went on, he noted. That which she required from him became obvious, as her grasp did not relent and the sincere and haunting gleam of her eye told him all that he needed to know. She called the shots, and like a good husband, he followed her lead. They laid along the leaves and grass of the meadow’s ground, the azure hum of firefly light suspended above them, their only companion within this tryst of starlight desire. Andon wrapped one arm underneath Jaina, drawing her close to him as they fell deeper into their kiss and he leaned atop her. Their fingers entwined with one another, and he lifted her arm up above her head as they lay, gently pinning her hand to the ground. Though his lips lay claim to hers, he continued to whisper to her. I never stopped being yours- Jaina’s free hand ran her fingers through his hazel brown hair and tugged downward, breaking his train of thought and pulling his face closer to hers. There was no more time for words now, only the exchanging of heat, under the starlit night. *** Andon did not dream, nor did he sleep; not since the Room of Infinite Thrones. But tonight, he did both. Our Traveler awoke to a reality that was so much better than any dream could dream to be. Wrapped around each other beneath the warmth of his cloak, he held what was most precious to him in all creation. He awoke before she did and drank every second with her. He had spent so many eons alone, he had nearly forgotten what it was like to feel: the sensation of her bare skin pressed against his, the pleasant tickling of her brandy brown locks as they draped across him in a tousled mess, and the gentle rise and fall of her slumbering chest against his. He had been to many places that have been described as “heaven”, but none of them compared to this moment. Hazel-gray eyes traced every line and curve of Jaina as he watched over her. He dared not move, fearing any stirring would ruin the perfection of this moment. But all good things must come to an end, and he had hope they would have many more moments like this to share. The backs of his fingers gently brushed her hair out of her face, and auburn-green eyes opened to meet his gaze, giving him the sweetest sleepy smile in at least a thousand different timelines. He did the only thing he could: smile and kiss her. He met her gaze for a few seconds longer, before turning his head slightly to his right, in the direction of the temple. Hazel-gray eyes washed over with a momentary flush of opaque white, and his eyes squinted slightly, as if witnessing something beyond conceivable sight. He slowly exhaled, his eyes returning to normal. “We have to get up,” his voice was calm, but purposeful. “Emily is going to need her Aunt and Uncle, soon.” Years of instinct took over, and each stood to swiftly redress and prepare for what was coming. However, our Traveler was able to do so while exchanging several coy moments of eye contact; there was even a smile or two, go figure. They were ready in moments. Andon placed his hand on Jaina’s shoulder and caught her glance. “We have to go back. Take a breath.” From their perspective, the air around them became distorted and stretched with a dull flash of light. If one looked closely enough, tiny threads of reality could be observed unweaving themselves from the fabric of space and being rewoven into a different point in time. Gone were they from the Meadow That Held Its Breath in Time, and once more returned to the near boundaries of the temple. It was a sensationless excursion through existence, but startling, if one did not know what to expect. With lightsaber drawn and fury being unleashed, stood Emily Skywalker. Andon surveyed what was happening in an instant, confirming everything he had already witnessed, taking a moment to understand the intricate connections being formed. Emily had destroyed the ysalamiri, but he reached out with his senses, searching for any creatures that may be hiding among the chaos. A few stragglers hid within the bowels of the shuttle and at the outer reaches of the battle; a twist of his mind undid them. The Force was going to be their ally on this day. Uninterrupted. Her attack had demanded a counter, and a volley of fire erupted toward her direction. A sensation of threat surrounding Emily echoed in his mind; Andon extended his arm out toward her. Blaster bolts hung suspended in the air a dozen meters before Emily, in a wall of pinpoint crimson light. The magnetic packets containing the tibanna gas began to break down, causing a wash of steam to trickle out as contact was made with the humid air of Yavin IV. A flick of his wrist sent the blaster bolts back to their origin of deliverance. Whether or not the owners of the bolts were fast enough to dodge them was entirely irrelevant; he didn’t care what happened to them, only that his niece was safe. Through the background cacophony of explosions, Andon called out to Emily. “I don’t know what’s up with the tin soldiers and creepy tentacle monsters in bath robes, but we’re here to party.” Within the fog of battle, the outline of a man could be seen next to Jaina. The right-side of his face was scarred and his black cloak billowed in the currents of war. If Emily were to reach out, she would detect a Jedi Master, long-thought to be dead. If she looked closer, she would sense his Jedi soul imbued with the essence of a Sith from long-ago, carrying the darkside arrogance that could only belong to one John Skywalker. And if she delved further into his aura… well, that was a story for another time. Right now, there was a fight to win. The Calvary had arrived for Emily: Aunt Jaina and Uncle Andon.
  10. Jaina had haunted his days and eluded his dreams, but she was finally here. He could feel her now, his hand along her face and his touch across her heart. Jaina had become so guarded, even now he could sense the steep walls that had arisen around its pulse during the long years he had been away. Would they ever come down? He did not know. Would she ever let them? That too, he did not know, for sure. The touch of his mind ran along the intricate mold and form of that which she robed herself in, and he swore he could begin to feel the layers crack. Yet, they were not quite ready to be peeled back and reveal the treasure that had always been inside, for one bold enough to seek it. But Andon was a patient man, waiting many lifetimes for just the chance of her thoughts drifting to him. What was one more lifetime, if that is what it took? The entire star system of Yavin surrendered to his presence, bringing about a stark hush to the star and all its worlds. No being moved or thought or dreamed within their tryst, for he did not will them to. It was their world for this moment and every moment to follow. Even the star, with all its smoldering fury, ceded to Andon’s desire. And by his hand, the star burned only for her now. Just as he did. A terrible power spanning the lifetime of universes beckoned from within his inner being, but he chose to retreat from it. For so long he had been focused on everywhere except where he was; on what he was doing. So much of what he had become was incomprehensible, an eternal riddle answered by none, and sought by fewer. He was always on the move, a limitless Traveler of Anywhere and Everywhen. Now there was nowhere else to be but by her side, and the essence of infinity that flowed within his veins fell to but a murmur as his wife crossed the span of dirt between them. Jaina took his face within her hands, pressing her forehead gently against his. Follow Me. Slowly and deeply, he breathed her in, remembering days from long ago, lived within a lifetime without doubt or question for what was shared between them. He closed his eyes, holding both the memories and the girl close to his heart, forever more. He was a being of hidden ability, containing a presence of indecipherable power and will, within an ethereal signature that gave away nothing of what was just beneath the surface. Within, he was more of a force of nature than man, but her touch tamed the tumultuous currents that defined him. They quieted in her presence, falling to a gentle lull: the wash of a summer’s breeze that he opened to her. She brushed his heart, and they were whisked away… *** His eyes were closed, but he could feel that warmth of the sun on his face, and the lap of the waves against his feet. The sand was soft as he squirmed his toes within the damp granules that made up the shoreline. Distantly he could hear the melodic call of the Devonshire flock, the native songbird that roamed the coastline of the Nasrin Sea. They were notoriously short-sighted, navigating purely by sonic vibration, as they called out to one another between the flaps of their wings. It was… hypnotic. He is lying on his back, hands tucked behind his head, enjoying the embrace of the summer season. The sand is warm, the water is cool, and he is about to be in love. A hand found his chest and he opened a single eye to look upon who would dare interrupt his, not so needed, beauty rest. The soft curls of brandy-brown hair flowed downward, framing the delicate features of her face, exactly how he remembered every line to be. She was different, younger, but had remained Jaina. He turned his head to face her, slowly opening his remaining eye that so desperately clung to sleep. He too had returned to his youth, with face unscarred and his beard relegated to mere stubble grown after many purposeful weeks. Andon smiled and drowned out the sun above them. Jaina squinted her auburn-green eyes, tilted her head, and smiled tenderly down at him; all the light in the galaxy failed to compare. This is the moment Andon fell in love with his Jaina. It is the smile that would change the future of eternity. He remembered this day well, starring up at her face, under the clear blue skies of Chad. Even when the details had been stripped from the forefront of his mind, he had carried it always. This was the empty spot within his heart that he had clutched so tightly, believing one day it would be known again. And after all this time, here it was before him. He could sense Jaina within the memory with him, tracing along the folds of yesteryear, seeing the world through his eyes, if only in glimpses. This was their shared retreat, away from everything that will be, returning to all that they have been, and could be again. “Follow me,” she whispered, nipping at his ear. In a flash she was up from his side and he could only see the blur of her white sundress and azure scarf streaking behind her as she made for the tree line. The corner of his mouth turned upward into a smirk before giving chase, his barefoot bounds dashing across the sand in pursuit of his desire. Andon’s heart rate fluctuated, and his breathing increased as he broke through the first of the trees searching for her. He quieted his breaths and remained as still as his adrenaline allowed, attuning his senses to any speck of her path. It would have been easy to simply reach out and observe the timeline, learning where she had gone. He envisioned transporting himself with a wink to her exact location, ending the chase and attaining his prize. But he chose not to, for it didn’t carry the same sense of adventure and excitement. No, instead he quieted his infinite mind and listened to his instincts. There was a crack of a twig from an errant footfall and he snapped his head in its direction, catching the faintest glimpse of a white dress. A smile spread across his face and he raced after her, between a pair of trees with weeping branches. The foliage was much denser than it appeared from outside the grove. The heavy canopy of the branches diminished the light that could be seen within. His eyes scanned the surrounding trees and he saw the hem of Jaina’s dress peeking out from behind one of the tree trunks. Andon brought himself down to a crouch, making his footfalls velvet soft as he approached from an angle that could not be easily seen. He leaped forward, wrapping his arm around where the dress waved within the breeze, in a playful attempt to tackle her to the ground. When he stumbled awkwardly, he looked down at his arms to see her white dress… but without Jaina in it. And if he had her dress, then where was Jaina? Sheer and utter confusion overtook him about what had just transpired, making him oblivious to her approach from behind as she tackled him to the ground. He felt the shimmering silk of her scarf along his face as she wrapped it about the top of his head, covering his eyes. He rolled over onto his back and could make out the rays of sunshine breaking through the canopy top. The azure fabric made his vision blurry, but he could tell that it was Jaina that now pinned him to the ground. Her smile was coy and her gaze longing. He nearly reached out with his senses to undo the haze of his vision, but again, he simply allowed events to develop without his influence. Somehow, it just felt right to allow the moment to happen. He enjoyed simply experiencing Jaina, discovering the plans of her heart. Jaina’s lips found his and she kissed him deeply, as if the very essence of life revolved around the spark that fueled their attraction. Within him, a whirlwind of feelings began to bubble to the surface. Gone was the bravado and wit of Andon’s self-defense, he simply allowed himself to be. He reached out with his hands and traced her lines, as if for the first time. There was another first that he decided it was time to reveal. “Jaina, I-”, her fingers touched his lips and stopped his sentence. Through the fabric, he watched her lean down and kiss the tip of his nose. “I know,” she grinned. “Silly boy.” She kissed him once more, and he lost himself in her touch. She giggled as she grabbed the scarf around his eyes and removed it, sprinting deeper into the grove before Andon could react. There was no call of the infinite in this moment, and the echo of eternity was oddly silent in its wake. In the memory of now, he was merely a boy seeking a girl. He returned to his feet and looked around, finding neither the dress nor Jaina. Her laugh could be heard in the distance and he gave chase once more, knowing it was only a matter of time…
  11. He found himself tumbling deeper into the miasma of energy and thunderhead of colors that engulfed him within the tunnel’s humbling power. There was a deafening roar within this place of impossible realization, as the very tendons and skin of reality had been pierced and redirected by this unknown current. Andon could feel pieces of himself, distantly at first, being scattered to the furthest imagination of the most improbable dreams that could ever toil into being created. He could no longer be called man within this realm, for all that remained was his yearning for Jaina, evanescent tendrils of his last remaining will, clutching tightly to the speck within his heart where her face would be again one day. An impossible strength and scream without voice reverberated throughout this Wormhole of Wonder; this Traveler would not be denied. He would not be lost to the wind sheers of solar torment, he would not be lulled by the anthemic power of a cosmos that did not care. So, in this speck of his failing human heart that longed for Jaina, he became an entity of indomitable will. His ethereal form fought against the boundaries of time and he catapulted himself to the tunnel’s wall, bearing down upon its horrific event horizon. And within the framework of its walls, he dared reach out and place his fading hand upon the barrier. It was warm, and he found a hand on the other side reaching for him. The collage of colors and frequencies were overwhelming, and his eyes could scarcely make it be seen, but a form was on the other side of the tunnel reaching out to him. Downward through the spiral of infinity, he churned within the wake of eternity, but held tight to the wall and the phantom hand on the other side. He reached outward through the haze and drew the image unto himself. There, on the other side, Andon was face to face with… Andon. There was more than one tunnel, and he gazed at himself from the other side of the looking glass. The shape recognized it and gazed rearward, to the far wall of its own tunnel. The cascade of colors and images expanded outward, like a mirror endlessly reflecting itself forward unto dawn and past the sunset, never to return. Andon Prime struck the barrier in frustration and with a tumultuous groan, the tunnel waned and began to splinter. The circle of lights faded, and at its horizon, there was only relentless black within the starless maw. Andon reached through the crackling and failing barrier, but there was no longer a hand on the other side to grasp. Out of the sanctuary of color and energy, he fell into darkness and was submerged. Gone was the roar, leaving only unrequited silence and his eyes closed for the last time... *** He opened his eyes, recusing himself from the world that Jaina had painted within his mind. Behind his exit, she closed the Doorway to Her Inmost tightly shut, but he did not hear the lock click. Not yet. He placed his hand onto the frame way of her thoughts, and waited, patiently. He could feel her hand on the knob, but she would not turn it for him. He was unsure if it would ever be turned for anyone again. “Unsure” was not in his vocabulary, not anymore, but he found himself learning of its burden once more. Something deep inside the wavelengths of his dimensionally defying being cracked. He could feel it, a tear spreading throughout his eternity as something… broke. He snapped back to reality. They were sitting on the forest floor now; Jaina leaning with her back against the great tree of blooms, and Andon sitting just across from her. The azure light of the fireflies draped across her brow as a crown, and he could only look in wonder. Lifetimes had been spent gazing upon the most indescribable beauties of heaven, and her visage now was the first time he was made to forget all their splendor. Venom came within the strangest guises, and it poisoned him through five words: Why Did You Come Back. Five words that undid him. This construct he had made to contain his essence flickered, its light fading abruptly as he winked out of existence, if only for the breath of a moment. She had... unnerved... him. He could not remember the last time his concentration had lapsed, but it did, for the briefest of moments. Andon was dangerously human around her. Even now, feelings that had spent eons in slumber began to stir and awaken within the dawn she was creating. Had she truly asked him why he had returned to her? “Because all of it was meaningless without you.” He understood there was no context to his words, it was simply abrupt. Blurting things out was not his style, but it was what he was feeling. For the first time in many lives, she made him feel vulnerable. In the dirt between them, he took his index finger and began to draw small circles in the sand-like ground. “I opened many doors looking for you, but each room held no answer,” his voice was soft and delicate, mirroring the slow circles in the dirt he was tracing. “There were only more doors and more rooms.” He stopped tracing circles in the ground and leaned his torso forward, bringing his face closer to the patterns he had created. He gently blew onto his ground images, kicking the loose dirt into the air. Actually, it was an incorrect amount of loose earth that now reached skyward, much more than what was on the ground to begin with. It hung suspended in time, like everything in this world since his presence had been first known. But slowly, the loose fragments of dirt began to swirl. Clumps of sand and dirt began to dance in intricate patterns and formed the shape of a planet. “So, I kept searching, entering many doors and many rooms, seeking a way to find you.” The soft earth swirled and shifted, creating the model of a solar system, with planets orbiting in tow around its anchor star. “Finally, there were no more doors and there were no more rooms,” and as he was speaking, the image changed and showed many star systems hurtling through the galaxy of the “Little Beyond” he had made. “There was only one door, and it lead to but one room. And inside I found you… “ The intricate pattern of dust in the wind displayed a mighty cluster of galaxies, swirling about the heart of the universe. Within the heart’s rotation, an ever-expanding circle of galaxy clusters began a slow orbit. “But all of these things had already come to pass, and I could not find my way back to the place where I began. I searched for the Genesis Summit, but there is no return.” He gazed intensely at her, eyes that were full of years and out of time begging for her to understand why he had traveled so far and wide in search of any chance to be with her. His voice was little more than a whisper now, “There was no door leading back to you.” Hazel-gray eyes came alive, with a flicker of power and absolution. “So, I made my own door. I broke through any wall that stood between us.” His look softened, but Andon’s eyes remained locked with Jaina’s. He gazed at her for a long time, as if he feared that it would be the last time for a while before he would see her again. He had felt her reel away from the brush of the infinite that was now contained within the core of his being, but there was one last thing that he had to show her. With his right hand, he tenderly reached out and brushed her temple with the tips of his fingers. An image began to form in her mind as he spoke. “You were the love of my youth; ever since I first saw you on Chad, I wanted you. Even when we were but teenagers, there was only you. I love you, I always have.” There was a void of infinite black, but it began to retreat in the presence of light, as pinpoints of starlight began to erupt across the canvas of the great empty. And the darkness felt how truly awful goodness was, as it was moved by the Traveler's hand. “I loved you till the death of the universe. And when it was remade, still, I loved you the same.” The haze of light began to grow as more and more specks of light emerged from within the folds of space, and it began to form a silhouette. “I found a void deep in space, where not even the stars dare tread. I claimed it as my own personal solace. And in the embrace of the empty, I drew something.” The shower of starlight gave way to the final image’s clarity. It was no longer a silhouette, but a face. Jaina. He had painted Jaina’s face in starlight, to be displayed across all the universe, as his place to call home. Forever. “I painted with stars the one thing I could never forget,” a single tear escaped down his left cheek, “the only thing that could make me remember what it was like to walk along the shore.” His fingertips retreated from her temple, and the image faded with it. There was only her husband now before her. His face scarred, but his eyes still vibrant. He exhaled slowly, but he did not remember ever breathing to begin with. There was still so much to show her, so much to tell about all the places he had seen. But that could wait. “You’ve always been the good in me”, his voice sounded weak, for the first time in many years. “That is why now. Because it was the first moment I could…” Hazel-gray eyes were still waiting patiently at the door, hoping to hear the handle turn.
  12. ANDON'S CHARACTER SHEET Status MacGuffin: He is more of an anthropomorphic plot device / Deus Ex Machina than an actual character. See addendum below. (He is also an anamorphic plot point, which I originally used first and realized it was the wrong word. However, I discovered its meaning is pretty cool, so I’m gonna keep it.) Identity Real Name: Andon Colos A.K.A: Celestial Hero of Infinity, The Traveler Homeworld: Naboo Species: Human / Celestial Physical Description Overly Dramatic Interpretation Actual Interpretation Decidedly Less Dramatic Interpretation Age: Appears to be in late 30’s. (But has actually witnessed the lifespan of the universe) Height: 6’2” Weight: 210 lbs Hair: Hazel (Remember that one season of Smallville when Tom Welling had, like, phenomenal hair? Yeah, that season’s hairstyle) Eyes: Hazel-Gray Sex: Male Equipment Clothing: Charcoal long-sleeve button up shirt, black pants, charcoal boots, black long coat (all perfectly tailored, of course) Armor: More to come Weapon: Lightsaber. More to come. Common Inventory: Wedding ring, protocol droid (Vee), astromech droid (Beeps), charm, pizzazz. Also, pizza. Faction Information Force User Alignment: Chaotic Good, with a dash of Lawful Neutral Current Faction Affiliation: Jedi Special Faction Affiliation: Order of Trakala Current Faction Rank: Master History: Force Side: Gray – The Force is merely a conduit, what comes out of a man’s heart is what defines it as light and dark. Trained by: Hale Akturus (Knight), Talon Flick (Trials) Trained who: A lot of people that didn’t work out Known Skills: Master Pilot, Breaking / Fixing pretty much anything Forms: Form V (Djem So / Master) Form II (Makashi / Ok) Abilities: Boundlessness, Meta Spacial-Temporal Manipulation, Nigh-Omnipresent, Nigh-Omniscient, can detect the slightest (and I mean slightest) hint of cilantro. Background: During his apprenticeship, Andon and Hale Akturus galivanted around the galaxy fighting Sith, killing Imperials, saving babies, just being “The Duo” that were getting Jedi stuff done. When Hale eventually got tired of seeing Andon’s face, he promoted him to Knight. While on his own, Andon befriended Jedi Knights Leonardo Stovachi and Orrick. The trio soon became Jedi BFFs and too galivanted across the galaxy together, causing decidedly more havoc than actual good. But they got results, and that’s all that mattered. (Like, their performance evaluations didn’t reflect that, but sometimes you have to be your own biggest fan). During this time period, Andon became a galactic man-whore, winning the hearts of many ladies and wooing them accordingly. However, there was one mischievous girl that constantly eluded his romantic attempts, despite the electric connection shared between them. More on her later. Also, in this time frame, he had several apprentices that didn’t work out, for various reasons IC and OOC. Eventually, Orrick and Leo had passed on, and Andon traveled alone. Enter: Talon Flick, Jedi Master and Supreme Duelist of the GFFA. The two shared much of the same bravado and tenacity for mayhem and started one of the most epic bromances in site history. “The Duo Pt Dos” was forged. They traveled everywhere together, winning hearts and minds, as they wracked up an enemy list several parsecs long. During this period one Jaina Jade Skywalker and Andon began an on and off again courtship of flirtation. It didn’t end well. It ended so terribly, in fact, he lost her and then she disappeared from the face of the galaxy for several years. He searched, but he could not find her. His strength grew over this period. He eventually sat on the Jedi Council, but was not granted the rank of Master (What did you say?). He encountered John Skywalker for the first time and immediately mocked him, because, and I quote, “Can’t I go anywhere in this galaxy without tripping over a dozen Skywalkers?” Well apparently, that’s words to start a fight and so they did. They stalemated one another and parted ways. This did not last long, for the two crossed paths again during Battle #1454 for Coruscant. The two fought savagely across the upper levels of Coruscant, with the capstone of the fight being Andon spearing John off the tallest skyscraper on the planet. The two continued their fight during their freefall, broadcasting it all over the Holonet. Eventually, the two stopped fighting and just accepted their fate. Andon could not find Jaina, and he was resigned to simply pass on and hope to find her there. They struck the deepest bowel of Coruscant, but did not die. Enter: The Dejarik Board. John and Andon found themselves within limbo, playing a cosmic game of chess. The knights and pawns were stone figures of the various people in their lives. The figures fought and destroyed each other gradually, leaving only the statue of Jaina between them. The statue was deceptive, for it was the Gray Goddess, a celestial entity masquerading as Jaina. She plunged her hands into John and Andon’s chests, ripping their souls apart and reforming them. John became an outcast amongst the Sith, carrying the stench of Jedi goodness. Andon, too, became a pariah among the Jedi, now carrying a dark presence about his person. Both were able to access the other’s Force abilities. Andon carried a scar on the right side of his face, John’s scar on the left. The two could sense each other from any point in the galaxy and experience what the other was feeling. If John became injured, Andon mimicked the same injury star systems away. He returned to the Jedi and was like that kid no one wanted to play with. Then Coruscant was laid siege to for the fifth time that month and all hell broke loose, and suddenly everyone was happy to have him. Go figure. He became separated from everyone in the battle. Jaina turned up and he abandoned the battle and the Order, without a second thought, to find her. The two escaped the battle together, rekindling what they had lost. The pair escaped to Corellia for a tryst. There, Talon Flick arrived and challenged Andon to a duel. The two fought brilliantly, with Andon besting Talon by grabbing the blade of his lightsaber and mocking the killing strike on Talon. This was a large milestone for Andon, as Talon had recently killed the Dark Lord of the Sith, Kakuto Ryu, during that Coruscant battle. With his victory, Andon was elevated to Jedi Master. While on Corellia, Jaina and Andon were married. The honeymoon was short-lived, as they began hopping from planet to planet. Jaina became pregnant and eventually went into emergency labor in the Hapes system. This is where things get weird. Jaina died in childbirth and their daughter, Tirzah, was orphaned. Why was she orphaned when Andon was alive? He was banished from the planet and had his mind wiped of their memory, by his old cosmic nemesis: the Gray Goddess. She was not happy about their marriage and punished the two. Jaina was dead and Andon was a shell. He spent the next several years outside of the Jedi, traveling from world to world in the Outer Rim, and liberating oppressed peoples. He eventually came across his niece, Emily Skywalker, who informed him of his wife and daughter. He became distraught after being shown a holo of them, realizing he had no memory of them. In this, he began the adventure that led him to be the Celestial Hero of Infinity. He delved further into The Force than any being in civilization had ever done. He became so immersed in the currents, he began to forge and shape them, gradually losing himself. He spent years Immersing himself, but it eventually was not enough, he needed more power, for he could still not make himself remember. He spent more years traveling and learning from fringe Force Groups, learning their arcane secrets and increasing his power. But that, too, had a limit. So he delved into the deepest recluse of the Force and ascended the “Staircase of Lifetimes”. There he found a gateway, known simply as “The Precipice”. He dove from “The Precipice” and was scattered to the furthest reach of forever, experiencing all events, across all timelines, in an infinite number of universes. The more doors he opened, the deeper behind The Veil he found himself until there was only one door left. That door, led to the “Room of Infinite Thrones”. This is where our hero, done messed up. He shattered that which was meant to be eternal and stole from within the throne room, THE object of Destiny, never to be removed from its boundaries. This angered many beings of horrific and unimaginable power, and they knew it was Andon that did it. They are hunting him, and he is hiding. But Andon, too, has become terrifyingly powerful. And when he cannot hide, he is killing the Celestials. Entities written in the Book of Infinity are being grievously wounded and killed by Andon, contrary to their predestination. And it has broken Creation. And a cosmic reckoning is nigh. But that doesn’t matter, for he has found Jaina... TL;DR Super fly Jedi eventually got the girl. Lost the girl. Became the Celestial Hero of Infinity. Broke creation to find the girl. All the Celestials hate him. Hate Andon more, because they can’t do anything about it, because he terrifies Celestials. He has now found the girl, so it’s a problem for another day. Addendum: This character is an exercise of creativity, to push the boundaries of what I'm capable of writing. I have no desire to start duels, conquer planets, or attempt to "win" the RP. IC, such things aren't even on his radar. OOC, this is Andon's unabridged, highly decompressed, epilogue, and he's got a journey to finish. He is a plot device that will simply stir up creativity, have some laughs, get into some cosmic hi-jinks, and make some memorable character development moments. Ok, he'll probably cause a little trouble, but come on, it's me.
  13. Do I regret it? Alone he stood at the top of the world, an endless cascade of galaxies and nebulas and starlight explosions for as far as the eye could view into eternity. The heavenly bodies danced all about him and funneled downward, over the edge of The Precipice, into an eternal waterfall of universal creation and light. It was quiet at The Precipice, with only the lapping sound of The Veil waving in the currents of infinity to remind him of where he had come from. His little friends of shadow and light had accompanied him up the Staircase of Lifetimes, but they remained behind, none of them brave enough to cross the threshold into their Genesis Summit. His steps now tread where the last living creature between him and nothingness trembled at the thought of venturing further. Do I regret it now, knowing all that it would cause? He was now the captain of the gate, the last bastion of humanity in an all-expanding tide of countless worlds just outside of his reach. But he had a mission, and the Jedi was not easily undone. He stood at the edge time and starred downward at the waterfall of universal creation, watching as it formed into a salient tunnel of light and color and energy swirling below. The longer one starred into its depths, the deeper it drew you in, never to return. This is the path that would take him to anywhere and bring him to nothing. But he was a husband and father once; he would be again. Do I regret it, knowing that I would send discord throughout all the cosmos? He did not look at the stairs behind him, he simply he fell forward into time and out of the universe, never to be seen again. The great unknown was his only companion in these lands outside of the world: treading through the Valley of Always and Never to Be. It was an endless freefall though all of reality, and he could feel his mind beginning to slip away into the Epoch of All Ages. Here, he found himself being celestially undone. Andon gazed down at his own hands and watched the woven fabric of his being float away skin cell by skin cell, into the ethereal unknown. Do I regret it now, seeing how I have broken Reality and mortally wounded Creation? In the furthest corner of his mind, he ran from this cosmic thread being tugged and unweaving everything he had been and ever would be. Reaching deeper into the most reclusive sanctuary of his consciousness, he hid away the last treasure he could secure. In the place where no face or name of his wife could be found, he retreated into the void where he knew that it belonged and would be found again. He clutched the empty puncture tightly to his fading heart of flesh, as the last part of him was scattered to the furthest reach of forever. The hell I do. I had a wife and daughter to find. == Through all that the Traveler had experienced and seen, in the inmost part of his being, he still clung true to that void where all his memories and love for Jaina had once belonged. And in this moment, the haze of the void began to clear, and outlines of all that he had lost began to stir and take form. His arms clutched her tightly to his chest and he began to fear that he would squeeze the very life from her: yet he did not have the strength to lessen his embrace. He was weak, and she renewed him. For this was 100,000 legions of lifetimes in the making to experience the warmth of having her form meld against his once more. For he had become deaf, and her mouth was the only melody that could ever be heard, in this star-crossed tryst. Her lips formed themselves to Andon's, and the touch of her consumed him in a passion that awoke his shackled desire. The fires of his heart bloomed, and the furnace of his longing ignited. Outward in all directions, across the star systems surrounding Yavin, the chill of space evaporated and was replaced; all worlds there bid good-bye to winter and could only feel the warmth of a summer’s breeze. As their lips parted, Andon’s forehead pressed to hers. Hands that had forged universes into being roamed along the canvas of her form, remembering the secrets of her beauty that time had tried so desperately to make our Traveler forget. Though there was no longer any mystery left in any world for him, Jaina was still his favorite story to discover. There was no moment that could ever enrapture him the way this had. She removed all fear that his was merely a dream. He took his wife’s face into his hands, and kissed her deeply, desperately, as if it was the first and last time they would ever share each other’s lips again. For all the time and worlds spent apart, she was still untamed beauty, unbridled passion, and the only pleasure worth knowing in all the universes. Jaina smiled at him, and he drank it in as the field does, during the shower that ends the long summer’s drought. His beard brushed against her cheek tenderly, as he spoke gently into her ear. “I waited so long for you,” the words were hushed, hypnotic, and even. “I’ve searched so far, to places I could never dream.” It was difficult for Andon to look at a being and experience them in the moment, for he comprehended their existence through the lattice of all their existences, simultaneously across every life conceivable. But he could see Jaina, in the here and now. And she was in pain. Conflicted. Lonely. Cold. At the touch of her skin against his, the surface thoughts of her mind began to drift into his own. Were you deaf to the sound of my cries, or blind to the blaze of my longing? Suspended in dreamless sleep, what could have ever held you back from me? These are the thoughts of a wife to her husband. This was the legacy our Traveler had left for Jaina, in his journey of becoming The Boy Who Could Never Be. Andon had created so many impossible things, but he had left the love of his life feeling all alone. Torment flickered across his aura, but it disappeared across the expanse of all he had become. He did not doubt, not anymore. He did not mourn, nor did he regret. There was only truth. And the truth was that all things could be made possible by his hand. He showed her the depth of the answer she had so desperately sought these long and lonely years. Why did you abandon me? How did you not hear my cries? Even now within the circle of his embrace, she knew that her Andon was never going to be the same. It shone like the sun on his face, that he was more than any Jedi could dream to be. He was absolute. Yet, he had still left her alone. He delved into the tapestry of eternity that flowed within his veins and whispered that which she longed to see. Jaina’s pupils became opaque, and the vibrant auburn-green of her eyes began to pale as she viewed a transcendent excerpt from within the journal of his travels. Andon was there at the beginning and end of all things, for The Precipice was a gateway that took one anywhere. There was only one anywhere in all the universe he wished to go: he longed to find his girls. So, The Precipice took him there. His family had been hidden away throughout the vastness of time, so the gate took him to every corner of everywhere of everywhen to find them. Within this revelation, the warmth of his light took one of the deepest agonies that had haunted Jaina’s mind for all these wandering years. Truth took the misery that had plagued her every chance of happy without him and tossed it into the furthest regions of creation, never to be seen again. She had not been left alone, she had not been abandoned. He had not forgotten her. He had searched far and wide, across worlds inconceivable for just the echo of her memory. Her longing for the man that had disappeared had been replaced by singular truth: Andon had gone to anywhere for her and paid every price it took. No matter the cost. There was a sadness about him now, of knowing where the story ends, even as the first sentence, of the first page, of the first chapter, has only begun to be read. She searched his mind, but she could not find the answer to his secret. He spoke and ended the world as she knew it. “Wife... can you forgive me?”
  14. When the natives said, “Staircase of Lifetimes”, they weren’t exaggerating. It was a rough translation, but an accurate one, for it felt as if he had been walking up these stone steps for decades. It would have been decades, had measures of time carried any relevancy in the lands he found himself in. They didn’t, of course. This is the place that time had long abandoned. Or perhaps it had never ventured here to begin with. It was of no consequence, for the top was finally within his view. Perhaps “top” was too small of a word to describe what he was embarking upon. For little energy beings of shadow and light, they carried complex meaning within their simplistic language. Inflections could alter entire meanings of sentences, with but a single change in syllable’s annunciation. He had spent much time talking with them, to confirm the tale they spun. They spoke in earnest of the staircase he had nearly completed, warning him fervently against attempting to ascend to its peak. The phrase they had used, was “Genesis Summit”. They sung to him how it was the place where first life came to a close and second life began. What second life entailed, he could not determine. So much time had already been lost in search of this place, confirmation that he had found his destination would have to do. Still, it was unnerving. It was unnerving, because he knew exactly what is was. Its proper name was far less eloquent than title imbued by his little friends. In all writings, it was simply referred to “The Precipice”; and it was a gateway. Where did it go? Anywhere. What was on the other side? Nothing. Here before him, was the door to any answer sought, if one were brave to enough to turn the handle and cross its plane. From all he had studied, it was a one-way trip and his little friends did not tell of any who had returned to boast of their journey. The mystery of it being everlasting eternity or agonizing death was indeterminable until one crossed the threshold. It was sheer anticipation. The perfect adventure… ** Until now, he had not felt anticipation since that day. But here, on Yavin IV, his pulse quickened to a pace unrivaled by that day. But he was different now, a Traveler of many worlds and many times: all of them, in fact. But his life with Jaina was still the greatest adventure that he had left to live. In his solemn place, reserved for none but his own dreams, he reached out and opened its bounty to her mind. Are you going to day-dream the night away? It was the faintest whisper, barely perceivable in any sense of the word, but it deafened any other sound that could be summoned upon this world. It stirred Jaina from her revere of deep thought, searching for a voice that could not be found. I wondered if you’d wake. Outside. It was coming from outside, speaking in such a familiar tone, as if it knew her. It almost carried a hint of playfulness. She leapt high and far onto a ledge, intrepid steps taking her to an opening within the wall that revealed the forest outside. She dared to peer through the opening, but there was nothing to be found. She waited, straining to hear if the voice would speak again. Nothing, an achingly frustrating nothing. She gazed downward, wondering if she was succumbing to madness, only shaken from this revere by a pebble softly striking the lower portion of the opening. She gazed up, but still nothing. A heavy wind picked up, swirling all about the forest in a haunting howl. Debris from the forest floor were cast all about; brush, blades of grass, leaves, and flower petals tumbled just outside the opening. The wind continued its call of the wild, but strangely, it appeared to be centralized within the center of the tree line’s opening. The leaves and petals continued to swirl about, in an increasingly tight and intricate pattern. The gap between the swirling foliage melded and closed, taking on a shape. It was vague at first, but a torso could be made out. From the swirling torso, the breeze extended downward into a pair of legs and then outward into a pair of arms. Finally, from the tumbling miasma, a final aspect took substance: a head. Standing fifty yards out from her, was a human form composed of nothing more than wind, leaves, grass, and petals. The cascade was softly swirling with just enough force to hold the form as tangible; it was an increasingly human form. Its arm reached out to her, beckoning for her to come. Such a strange sight, but it radiated such warmth, standing at a stark contrast to the chill that surrounded this moon. She starred in disbelief. How much longer must I wait? This ethereal voice, more intimate than the last. Jaina made the choice to find a way outside to it. The opening in the wall groaned before shuddering, a crack forming downward within its lines. All was silent for a moment, when before her eyes, the small window aperture spread into a grand door. The entrance was oval-shaped, with a protruding arch. Within the arch, there was a language carved into its intricate pattern of thorns and blossoms. She could not read it, nor know where the words came from, but she could feel the call of all consuming time from their engraved form. It was as if the language was from an era long-forgotten, before even history began. And it felt like home. The figure of the breeze beckoned her still. She held her breath, crossing through the doorway and making the leap down into the forest, half expecting this forest creature to have disappeared. But there it was: waiting. Waiting patiently, in fact. It had no discernible facial features, but deep within, she swore it gave her the gentlest, longing look as it waited for her to step closer. Its stature and posture, were unnervingly human. Reassuring in its familiarity. She stepped forward and it did not move. She stepped closer, and it still it remained in place. The closer she got to it, the warmer the air around her grew: a comforting embrace replacing the chill of the moon’s arctic pole. Jaina looked behind her, noting the path she had taken through the snow had melted, revealing green grass and vibrant blossoms. The Jedi walked more boldly towards it, and the creature of wind and foliage gently turned and began walking away from her. It matched Jaina’s pace: the faster she tried to catch up to it, the faster it moved, maintaining the same distance of a few yards between them. She followed the form, noting the sound of a growing rush of water. Rounding a bend, she found herself before the majesty of a meadow surrounded waterfall, shimmering in the moonlight it reflected. They had passed over this forest entering the landing site, however, and there was no waterfall there before. She was sure of it. It was undeniable though, the stones surrounding the fall were smooth, and weathered with age. It was as if the waterfall had always been there. For her. The form stopped just outside the wake of the water’s edge. It turned and gazed at her again, with that same longing expression. A look that had been worn on its face for quite some time, as if this creature had always been waiting. The wind around its body swirled and it once more raised its right arm, extending its hand to her. Tenderly, even. She snuck a step forward and it remained still, waiting. She took step after step, until it was within arm’s reach of her. She cautiously reached out to it, extending her hand to the swirling foliage of its fingers. Delicately, it reached closer to her, there was only a centimeter between her fingers and the warmth radiating from this creature. She closed the gap, and touched her fingertips to the creature’s. The wind stopped swirling, and slowly the leaves and blossoms that contained his form floated to the ground. They remained still and no longer danced. Just as soon as it had appeared to her, the form had vanished, with no trace to where it had tread. She stood in the meadow for what felt like forever, the air around her still uncannily warm. You’re not paying attention. Human, it was impossible to be sure of before, but the whisper was human. She whirled around towards the sound of the voice, only to face the waterfall. There was no more whispering, only the symphony of rushing water crashing upon the rocks beneath. Within the cascade of falling water, there was a flicker of movement within her peripheral vision. She focused intently on the spot where she believed it to be, and it occurred again, more pronounced. The path the falling water took was shifting, as if it were splashing over something, rather than passing straight down. She looked harder and the movement changed everything. Drawn within the flow of water, a human form could be seen. It was more defined than the creature of wind and leaves; it was a human male. The water currents formed broad shoulders sitting atop a lean frame. Arms and legs, too, could be discerned within the waterfall's current. Breaking from the fall’s wake was a human face, one with warm eyes and a soft smile. The figure gestured toward her, the rush of water flowing tightly to form the muscular definition of its arm as it defied gravity and extended its hand to Jaina. There she stood, witnessing this creature of water call out to her. She entered the waterfall’s pool, to swim her way to the creature. However, she found herself not within the waters, but standing atop of it. She looked down at her feet, noting they had not sunk, even though the water was at least twenty yards deep. There Jaina stood, her body ebbing up and down with the shifting surface tension of the water’s current. It beckoned her still and she walked across the water’s surface to him. She had exchanged a creature of earth, for one of water. She continued to walk toward its outstretched hand, and when she was only a few yards away from the creature, it began to slowly retreat into the waterfall. The gap that it occupied within the waterfall remained open, with water cascading down either side of the opening, but never crossing its threshold. The further back the water being retreated, the wider the opening grew, revealing a path that had been hidden behind the fall. She entered the opening, but the water form was nowhere to be found. Come. Not far ahead, a light could be seen at the end of the path. She took the path and found herself in a valley absent of snow. There were no clouds in the sky and the moonlight shown brightly, revealing a large tree, its branches bare and extending outward in all directions. Next to the tree, was a stone pillar, its inscriptions washed smooth with the weathering of age. She began to walk the valley towards the tree, the chirp of nocturnal birds and the soft hum of fireflies keeping her company along her journey. However, the chirps and hums suddenly stopped. They had not disappeared, quite the opposite in fact, the fireflies hung frozen in the air about her. The world was quiet as it held its breath in time. Her company now was the tapestry of firefly light that surrounded her in all directions, suspended in mid-air, like a million pinpoints of starlight. Their blue glow gave the valley an otherworldly appearance in this world that now existed only for her. The moon, the planet, the star system: all of it hung frozen in time. Nothing moved, nothing dreamed, nothing wandered: all the world stood still for Jaina. It gave reverence to her, this girl of wonders. From behind her, an impossible sight was forming. In this midnight world of moonlight and magic, the burnt-red haze of sunrise began to engulf the valley. It was a feat that could not logically be, as the sun was not due to rise for another six hours, yet here it protruded from beneath the horizon. It raised no questions, though, for tonight had been a night full of many things that defied logic. The soft glow of the sun’s rays invigorated the valley, washing over the barren tree, and causing its limbs to bloom pale amber leaves and vibrant, snowy petals. The light brought to life that which was dead in the valley, and everything that touched the sun’s rays was brought to full bloom in this land of darkness. As the sunlight passed through the now vegetated tree limbs, they cast a shadow against the base of the stone pillar. As the sun rose higher into the midnight sky, the shadow cast along the pillar crept upwards. The shadow split into two halves as it grew along the pillar and the halves merged together once more to continue their journey. Strangely, they took on a recognizable shape, as if they were forming a pair of legs and the beginning of a torso. Do you remember the first time we met? She knew that voice. The sun rose higher and more of the torso was painted into definition. There were hands emerging in the shadow now, with arms attached to broad shoulders. It etched upward, creating the lines of a neck, and then a jawline. From nothing, there was a mouth, and it smiled a lopsided grin. Then there were eyes, eyes that had seen so much and had gone so many places, but they still contained wonder and youth. Then there was a forehead and hair. Finally, shining like a bolt of lightning, a scar had formed, from eyebrow to jawline. I thought I had wandered into a dream. Jaina heard the voice and witnessed with her own eyes, the mouth moving with it. This man of shadows was speaking to her. She held her breath and pleaded with her heart to dare not think of what she knew to be true. He was speaking to her. After all this time, he was there. Then a curious thing happened, the arm made of shadows cast along the stone, lifted itself from the canvas of the pillar, and extended out towards her. From across time and space and everything in-between, Andon was offering her his hand. He spoke as she rushed toward him. I have dreamed of you many times since then. She entwined her hand with his and a smile brighter than any star shown across the shadow’s face. He gazed at her for a long while, the warmth of the valley growing as vegetation outside its boundaries began to stir and find life again. A whirlwind tore through the valley and the branches moved, melting the form of the shadow. The sun began to set, and the shadow retreated down the pillar’s base with it. He was gone. There was only the quiet and the azure sea of frozen firefly light to keep her company now. There were no words left in the world, nor the air to breath in order to speak them. He would not be denied. Reality unraveled and was molded by his hand. From behind her, a pale glow of light began to intensify and grow. She could see it now, casting shadows through tree limbs still in full bloom along the pillar. She waited with bated breath, but his shadow did not return. The light grew brighter and she turned to face it. Now there were too many words and she had to quell the rush of air within her lungs. I never stopped dreaming of you. Magnificent and robed in light, her Andon stood before her. His face had aged in their time apart, but he still appeared youthful and full of joy. It was a feeling that had been a long time in the making for this Traveler among the Nowhere and Everywhere. His form appeared translucent, as she was able to peer through him, at first. He raised his arm and the aura around him dimmed and his form became solid, though still contained a haunting glow of pale light. Delicately, his hand reached out to touch her face, the backs of his fingers caressing her cheek softly. She was warm, and he drank in every second of this moment he had waited through all creation to have. For the first time in many lives, he remembered what warm felt like. For the first time in many eons, he was not everywhere, he was somewhere. He was still standing in the shallows of eternity’s waters, but he could feel the substance of the beach beneath his feet. Very soon, he would be on the shore with her. “Have I wandered into a dream now?”
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