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Keenava Dira

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Everything posted by Keenava Dira

  1. A sliver of ice tickled the base of her neck. Her feet brushed steel through thick boots, pounding hard with desperate speed. Panic, fear, and terror spread from her shoulder; it was a familiar touch, gripping hard. But she saw no assailant, nor any looming darkness. Yet the dread she felt was exigent. Hello darkness, my old friend… A young Falleen collapsed at their feet. But Keenava could not see her. She felt the floor drift, and her gaze shifted. The gashes began to blister on her back, and fresh whip lacerations stung as air rushed by. Her heart pounded the melody of suffering. Hot salt bit at the skin of her face, and her mind warred… Keenava stood, her body limp and forgotten—a prisoner of the cologne of misery that the victim effused. The twi’lek’s eyelids drooped, and her gaze focused on nothing. Her body felt numb from the waist down. But, in a way, so did her mind. She tore at her own lekku, trying to feel something—anything—but nothing happened. She was nothing…just meat… Only meat… "Focus on the light. Find it within yourself and drive the darkness back from her mind." Leena’s voice washed across her; cold water brushed over her sordid trance, shaking her from her reverie. She slowly flexed her hands and felt as her mind rose from the murk bit by bit. "This girl needs you." Keenava felt Leena’s gaze on hers, and a rush of ice cracked against her mind. Awareness was restored like a flash of lightning, which almost brought Keenava to her knees. Warm streaks tickled her cheeks, and now she could see the injured girl at their feet. "Right… yeah, we need to move her." The Twi’lek looked around quickly, spotting a pile of crates that seemed just large enough to obscure them from view. "Alright, help me get her over there." She made a sign with her lekku. On the way, Keenava tried to do as Leena asked, but… how? She'd just given up on twisting the force to her advantage. How did she…find the light? Did she just ask nicely? Would the force respond to that? Fake it til you make it, I guess? __ She imagined herself going outside and seeing stars, a moon, a sun, or any other brilliant astral body; she pictured herself lighting torches, candles, light emitters, flashlights, etc. But she couldn’t ‘find the light’ as Leena said. What a beautiful little one! Confused, Keenava probed her mind, but nothing was there. She looks lost and afraid. You remember that, don’t you? A song of regret and pain gripped her for a second, to be replaced by a ballad that stung with a visceral sadness. A voice called from somewhere. It was soft, gentle, and familiar. M-m-mom? Kiki. It’s nice to hear my strong girl’s voice. But I’m not strong. I ran away for so long. I killed so many people. I caused so much anguish.I’m not worth forgiveness. Why am I here? Why did I come back? Why didn’t I just stay floating in that void? Free from the confidence she’d built to protect herself, Keenava’s heart was bare, and streaks of tears flowed freely now. Whether her tears were real or imagined, she didn’t know, nor did she care. You’re right. You did run. You ran from a world that threatened to consume you. All the cards were stacked against you. And yet, you never gave up. You kept fighting. Do you remember this? __________ A cloudy scene enveloped Keenava. She was pre-pubescent again, and the darkness of her cell was a dim black, lit only by a sparse arrangement of blinking light emitters. It had been a few years since she volunteered to take her mother and sister’s place. She sat staring at the space between the bars, hoping for things to melt away and go back to how they were. Scratches throbbed up and down her lekku. They made her a little lightheaded, but she barely noticed. "You gave us a lot of trouble, you druk. And, as punishment, you get to watch us do this!" The cruel face she had known for so long swept across her vision. And, in his hands… "NO! MOM?!" "Oh, so this lady right here means something to you. It’d be a shame if something happened to her." "YOU GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER RIGHT NOW!" Flames erupted from Keenava’s arms and lit her mother’s captor ablaze. Her mother’s eyes widened with concern, but her mouth was gagged. __________ Why are you showing me this? I lost control. Yes. But why did you lose control? To protect you from them, but it didn’t mean anything. I know what comes next. I couldn’t save you. And you can’t save everyone. But maybe that’s okay. How could you say that? You’re gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye! Her mother appeared to her in a spectral form of lavender light that bent down and put a hand on her shoulder. People die. I never got the chance to talk to you about it, but it happens. If I hadn’t died there, I would’ve died somewhere. The important thing is that my strong girl held on. She kept on living. And if she hadn’t, none of us would be around anymore. Your sister would’ve been alone, and you would likely have passed away sometime later than me when they deemed you too much trouble. You may be lost now. You may have a hard time forgiving yourself, but I’ve never blamed you. Never once did I look at you and see anything but my strong little Kiki. You even have my eyes now, which makes my heart soar every time I look at you. Keenava sniffled. The beauty of her mother's aura transfixed her. I don’t deserve you. Of course you do. They do too. Keenava’s mother stretched her arm out, revealing Kana, Kara, Kava, Malive, and all of her daughter’s alters. Many people made a strong impression on you, giving you a voice to speak for yourself. But, in all of that, you lost your voice. Now they’re all here to remind you that there’s only one Keenava. There has always been one, and she’s right here. The figment of her mother touched a hand to Keenava’s chest. All the alters joined hands. And the closer Keenava looked, they all looked a lot more like her than they used to. They all cried together. The murdering, the sadistic, and the chaotic were all weeping in tandem. And then all of them faded into Keenava’s mother’s hand. They are only fragments of you. And now that you can think again, the whole galaxy—no, the universe—gets to hear your voice: my fierce, protective Kiki. Now you get to be the beautiful soul you were always meant to be. And maybe, just maybe, you can help others do the same. Thank you for everything, Mom. The Twi’lek looked up to see her mother once more, but she wasn’t there. All that remained was a vivid light glowing in the palm of her hand. __ Keenava smiled. It was a small gesture, but it echoed in her physical form as she bent over the Falleen that lay mired in darkness. She stretched her hand out and connected to the light she still felt in the palm of her hand, letting the force flow through her. She gently ran her fingers along the young woman’s brow as a mother would her child, tucking stray strands of hair behind her ear and wiping the blood from her cheek. Under her breath, Keenava hummed a lullaby that her mother used to sing. Soft tears continued to flow across her cheeks as she tried to share her light with the young woman.
  2. Berry fizz tickled, an expression of wonder; then nothing remained. Keenava savored the dregs of her beverage. Bright notes of red fruit clung to the inside of her palate as the fizz settled at the back of her throat. It was a lovely bouquet, one that Keenava had hoped to repeat. But, as she bent from her post to discard her glass on a nearby tray, three newcomers joined the throng. The first figure was small and covered in ornamentation. The others who loomed behind were almost certainly hired muscle to cover the first. Bodies were displaced, pressing closer together, and the heat of the room rose a few degrees. She could feel the distinct weight of influence as everyone’s tempers shifted. It was as if the entire cantina tensed in unison, save for the troopers. They seemed content to continue their crude jokes and gestures. Keenava sidled up to Sandy and bent ever-so-slightly toward her master, letting one of her lekku—the one facing the front of the bar—fall in front of her before whispering, "I'm following Leena. If you need me, I’ll be at the ship." This close to her, it was almost impossible to ignore her intrusive thoughts, but Sandy’s guidance still sang beneath the chaos of her mind, keeping her away from inappropriate diversions. That said, getting out was easier said than done. She could simply walk out the door, but who's to say their new guests would let her leave? The repugnant behavior from the trooper’s table reached a fever pitch to the point that a group of toughs nearby were preparing to leave. Keenava, though also disgusted, saw her opening. She fell in step behind the rough-looking individuals as they left, shuffling her silhouette with theirs to mislead those that chose to follow. Once her tail hit the door, they veered into the crowd. Keenava broke and carefully followed her steps toward the shuttle, intentionally brushing Leena’s shoulder as she continued.
  3. The air tightened. The number of bodies began to test the edge of subtlety. It became increasingly obvious that something was going on, even to untrained eyes. Troopers of no indicated allegiance, mysterious hooded individuals, and a scant few nameless patrons that could easily contribute to the mess combined into a stew of suspicious origin. Her eyes gilded the cantina, leaving no inch untended. Conflict was inevitable, and her instincts fought to keep her aware of each ebb of the growing dissonance. The soothing touch of Sandy’s guidance was a boon, and she managed to successfully divert her intrusive thoughts, but it was a silver thread amidst a rough-hewn thatch. When she finished with the bulk of the building, her eyes fell on each patron in turn. And though his paltry beard was enough to give pause, the price tag clinging to its tawdry fibers diverted her gaze to a very familiar Hutt, gazing at her from behind the bar. The misshapen contacts did little to hide his crimson eyes, and his crooked nose looked like it was almost falling off his slimy face. Sheog... Despite herself, Keenava laughed. It was a bright sound, full of joy; there was no hint of the chaos she once possessed. The smell of blood and sod lingered in her mind. She could almost feel the scabs ghost over her arms, and she could remember the feeling of slime upon her lips. Alters warring against themselves, antiseptic burning the fibers of her skin, and uncertainty clashing with anxiety merged to form a lovely bouquet. The planet of Trulalis wasn’t the best memory she had. But it was where she first met Sheog, so it wasn’t all bad. And though she hadn’t always treated him as well as he deserved, he, Rose, and Raia were the only real friends she had until a few days ago. It was not the reunion she expected. But she was glad it was him. "I’ll be right back," Keenava said quietly to Sandy before making her way to the only open barstool. Like the others next to her, she sat with a mask of patronly indifference. However, her beautiful eyes—a brilliant amethyst replacing their former crimson hue—told a different story. "I’ll have a Hyperdrive or a cup of something fizzy if you don’t have it." Keenava said, settling her elbows on the bar. After a beat, the Twi’lek found a lapse and penned something discreetly on a small piece of paper. Then, through practiced sleight-of-hand, she pinned it to the back of a credit chip that she handed directly to the bartender. "Plus a little tip for your trouble," Keenava added with a genuine smile of gleaming ivory. When her drink came, she grabbed it happily and hopped off the stool, finding her familiar place on the wall a foot or two from Sandy and the others.
  4. Keenava found a reliable groove to follow that effectively smothered the whispers conspiring to drag her into very uncomfortable territory. That is, until Sandy's scarred hand clasped her wrist. At the fragile contact, Keenava's defenses vaporized like tissues in a typhoon. Catalyzed by the surprise, chutes of electricity shot up the sinew of her arm, exploded like fireworks at the crux of her skull, and fell down the length of her brain tails. There the sensations lingered, smoldering at the tips of her lekku, taunting her. Keenava's imagination hadn't sufficiently emulated the touch of a callused master's hands as they slid across the thin flesh of her forearm, eliciting a soft yet vibrant blush in the apples of her cheeks. Images of ecstasy danced in her brain at the razor's edge of decorum. And, without the ability to rely on the force for fear of doubling down on her fantasies, Keenava was trying to tread water as the surface rose quickly above her head. But then, almost as quickly as it came, the candle was snuffed out. The sensation of peace washed over her, replacing and renewing her confidence. Sandy's power was a gentle rock to lean on, standing against the tide, and it helped Keenava regain her footing. Perhaps she would investigate and unpack her curiosity at another time, but loosely indulging her ego or id was not something she deemed appropriate anymore. Especially when it was very possible her feelings would not be returned. "Hey, miss," Keenava hailed the waitress as she walked by, "can I get a Hyperdrive?" Keenava asked, flashing a warm smile. "If you don't have that, please get me a nice juice or some water. I don't need alcohol this early. Thank you." The former Sith Lord leaned against a wall near the table they were gathering at and handed the waitress a modest credit chip as compensation. The ident on the account had no details about her in particular if anyone chose to investigate. The creds ran to an account on Corellia owned by a woman named Ullanna Gwynn. And, at least in this case, it wasn't because Keenava was incredibly prepared. It was due to the fact that that was the only account Keenava had ever opened, and she still remembered the access codes.
  5. Keenava looked curiously at the group as they all put on serious faces, but surrendered the concern as they pushed on. It wasn’t her mission. It wasn’t her call. They stuck out, though, as she knew they would. This world was a den of hedonism, with or without intention. Pleasure was the language, pleasure was the currency, and pheromones were almost more common than air. Look too serious, and people will think you’re up to something. Look too innocent, and people will see you as an easy mark; she had an uncomfortable amount of experience in that arena. So Keenava adopted an aloof expression, carefully scanning their surroundings with her eyes, taking note of easy access points, escape routes, and choke points all without moving her head. She was reluctant to use the Force to do so and instead leaned on her mundane senses. The dark whispers were thick. And even if she could resist, it was unwise to probe where unwanted ears could be listening. When they reached the main thoroughfare, Keenava was struck with a sensory explosion. It was thick here. The smell of sin was languid and ever-present. Every moment they pushed further was a moment of time threatening to consume them. The rain didn’t help. The smell of sweat and pheromones wasn’t easily washed from the masses as they continued onward. But to them, it was normal. Keenava felt a mild physical reaction as heat rushed to her cheeks, but muffled the bulk of her reaction with a small cough. And, if that wasn’t enough, it was heavier in the cantina. The bar was an isolated space, so the pheromones had nowhere to go. They were swept into the ventilation system and recycled, creating a continuous air of want and need. Keenava did everything she could to isolate—but she’s right there—h-her feelings and stop them from—you and her shared a moment. I wonder how far you could go—overwhelming her other senses. Keenava’s gaze hovered over Sandy briefly after she took a deep, sobering breath. She bit the inside of her mouth and let the pain distract her. It was important not to let your—but you two are very similar. You’re very close. Imagine her scarred hands—baser desires control you. The phantom sensation of calluses skimming the top of her skin gave her gooseflesh and sent chutes of electricity from the base of her lekku down to the tips. Keenava reached up and pinched her right brain tail slightly. The pain was severe, but it was enough to reboot her senses. She shook her head, let the others get a small lead, paused briefly by the dancers, one of which was a beautiful blue Twi’lek, and made some motion with her lekku before falling in-step behind the others. The dancer’s eyes glinted in the dim light of the building, but she continued dancing with her fake smile plastered across her face. The atmosphere was suffocating and familiar. The unwashed faces, the dancers with their illusory masks, and the patrons doing their best to wash away fading contention, placating what little hope they had with promises of quick relief and amber denial. Darkness preyed on desperation and these people were very desperate... Keenava stuck to the back of the group, successfully steeling her thoughts and maintaining her mildly aloof body language despite the murky environment threatening to consume them.
  6. A deep ocean of darkness lay beneath and around them. The warmth and convenience of slipping into something familiar were there. But she’d been away too long. The warmth threatened to burn, and the convenience was coated with piercing barbs. She was different now. It wasn’t a posture that she could just shift out of. Every step deeper into the darkness was nothing but surrender. It was releasing every choice she had and justifying weakness. But now, the darkness could only take her to the edge. It could only teeter her on the razor. She knew what lay on the other side. She knew the saccharine temptation. And she knew exactly what waited for her if she fell... She knew the mantra well: Peace is a lie; there is only passion—false Denying peace in favor of passion blinds you to balance and serenity. Through passion, I gain strength—a lie While passion can create strength in the short term, it is only through understanding compassion and controlling your chaos that you can achieve anything resembling true strength. Through strength, I gain power—the biggest lie Just because you have strength, it doesn’t mean you have power. And power is overrated. Power begets needless bloodshed and struggle. It is a temporary satiation for a glutinous soul. Through power, I gain victory - no Victory over what? You’re a pawn for the dark side. You are a pebble in the river. You are constantly chasing the goal while life continues to move the goalpost. It’s never ending. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall set me free—ironic Through altering the fabric of the force, you’ve tied a noose around your neck. Breaking from the peace to gain some scrap of passion and power will only have you chasing that high like a death stick addict. Keenava felt the comfortable cling of her new clothes and smiled a little to herself. She kept her saber and other goodies stowed away where she could get to them later. It would not behoove her to bring a lightsaber hilt—let alone two of them—to a planet of the Sith while they were trying to stay incognito. "Oh! That reminds me." Keenava shuffled through her pockets and pulled out a note. "It came with something else, but considering we’re trying to be inconspicuous, I figured it would be too loud to bring with us. I found these with the boots, and I think they were meant for you." Keenava chuckled a little at Leena’s response. “Don’t look too serious, or they’ll think you’re hiding something. In fact, the more inconspicuous you try to look, the more obvious you’ll be. Don't go judging people with your eyes. But, if you can, just act normal. The more you look like someone who belongs here, the less people will question it.” Keenava adjusted her jumpsuit a little, saddled a newly acquired slugthrower into a hip holster, and followed behind Leena. “Just a tip from an old Assassin master of mine.” Keenava said, taking care to keep her voice at an inside volume without leaning or hiding her face.
  7. Keenava was ready to go, but something felt... off She gave Master Sarna’s shoulder a gentle squeeze before wandering through the camp. The sensation she felt in the force was a mystery, yet oddly familiar. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, it led her on an elaborate series of paths that meant stopping at irregular intervals. She couldn’t tell whether it was a good call or a foreboding one. Regardless, it led her all the way to a mysterious, scrawny individual who had a massive crate of what looked like junk sitting beside him. He was discussing things with a small robed figure that Keenava couldn’t see because its back was turned. But the man wasn’t it. It was the crate beside him. Something was here. Something had called her here. There… Slightly obscured but still visible near the top of the junk pile was the glint of a familiar jewel. Keenava’s insides wrenched at the prospect. But, in the end, despite its torrid past, it was made for her. Keenava waited until the robed figure—who turned out to be a merry little jawa—walked away before approaching the scrawny figure and his junk. "Hello, sir, I believe you have something of mine," Keenava started with cautious confidence. She pointed to the jewel near the top of the pile. "That’s entirely possible; I’m a scavenger; I collect all sorts of things." The man replied with nonchalance. But his emerald green eyes screamed of a deeper understanding than he was letting on. His mop of salt and pepper hair was long and braided. His beard was big, but well groomed. He looked to be almost 60 years old, but his attitude and countenance suggested a youthful exuberance. He reached into the pile and revealed a corroded-looking metallic canister. The handle was covered in rags and bandages, and her mother’s jewel stood out at the base. "You’re in luck. I wasn’t able to sell it. People were wary of it, saying it gave them the heebie-jeebies or something.” The man handed it over without batting an eye. The familiar metal felt at home in her hands, but the shadow within burned against her palm. She quickly extracted her old force crystals and threw them on the ground like they were violent suns threatening to melt the skin from her bones. Afterward, the metal was quiet and the weapon was inoperable. But the chassis sang a quiet tune of joy at their reunion. The old scavenger picked the crystals off the ground and chucked them into his box. Keenava raised an eyebrow in response to the cavalier gesture. "You don’t want anything for it?" The man smiled. "Oh, I never give anything out for free. But, in a way, you’ve been an unwitting pawn in a lot of my money moves over the years. I can’t really divulge anything more specific than that, but let’s say I like to keep an eye on people." Keenava wasn’t sure she knew how to process that, but she chose not to look a gift horse in the mouth. She was mildly suspicious of the man’s gaze, though, as one of his eyes started to move independently of the other. "Well, since you’re in a giving mood, do you have anything else you’re willing to give?" The Twi’lek replied, a mischievous glint in her eye. The man chuckled. It was a pleasant tenor sound with a well earned gravel at the bottom of it. "I suppose I do. You’re welcome to pick and choose, considering I wasn’t able to sell any of these. I don't really blame people. Everyone here is in varying states of post-traumatic stress and disrepair. In hindsight, trying to sell anything here was a mistake, even if I was giving discounts." The old man proceeded to pull things out of the crate one by one: TL:DR (These are the items she kept) - (for a full list check out the spoiler. Just a warning, its a bit long). - The Idarah A.I. unit. Without it's higher functions it will likely just be used as an auto pilot/targeting system on her new ship. (Idara/Idejjen/Ida) - Two weighted (adjustable) training bracers. (Starfire) - A pair of lavender lightsaber color crystals (Aleria Thorne) - Kevlar Jumpsuit with Indigo accents, and a black leather duster (Anilara Starbane) - A pair of sturdy yet stylish brown leather steel-toe boots that go up to the knee with articulated joints. (Scorpion) - (Decorative) A dancing outfit and Amethyst necklace (Esmernia Langarmie) - Drawing of Keenava as a Sith Lord (Adwin Antares) - An MP89 player, with MC2310 Master Headphones (it needs a mod for Female Twi'lek), and a necklace in the shape of a moon. (Liv) - A hydrospanner named 'Locksley,' and a metal memento with Ca'aran's face on it that she will return to Delta if she ever runs into him. (Kailen Aeli) More detailed explanation/description: "And, lastly, a deck of Sab–" "Hey! That’s my deck, Bill! Give that back!" Malin snapped as he appeared with his entourage in tow. He was irritated, but still managed a sidelong smile at Keenava before snatching the deck from the old man’s fingers. "I’ve been looking everywhere for those!" Malin took a moment to shove his cards in his coat pocket then looked between the older man and Keenava. “What’s going on here?” The older man looked at Malin with an amused smile. “I was giving this young lady a run of my scav stash, because I couldn’t sell anything.” "Well, while we’re in the business of giving things away, I've been meaning to give this to you, Keenava." Malin handed her a set of keys and activation codes. "It’s the keys to my ship. I heard you didn’t have one of your own. And, while I enjoyed the smuggler's life a bit, I’ve got to look after my cousin and this little anarchist." He said, running his hand over the small Togruta's head. "And, since I’m not on the run anymore, I can actually take a look at giving up mercenary work altogether. I owe it to my family to give this life thing a shot. And before you ask, I’m giving this to you because you’re the only other person I know here. Aside from Bill, of course, but he’s the one that gave me the ship. It would be silly to return it now when it has so much life left to give. Just watch out for the droid in the cargo bay!" With a fond smile and a wave, the smuggler rounded up his young ward, his protocol droid, and his cousin—who Keenava just noticed was wheel-chair bound—and left the Twi’lek with her mouth agape. After the grizzled gentleman packed up the rest of his crate, he sat there with one leg outstretched and a death stick hanging out of the corner of his mouth. Keenava hefted a large bag of junk onto her back. She couldn’t really explain why she felt a connection to these items, but something about them was warm. They felt like old relics despite their mundane appearance. She took a long look at the man, and her brow knit with curiosity. "Who are you? And how do you know so much about these people? How do you know so much about me?" The man smiled. It was a warm smile that made Keenava feel like reciprocating. “Let’s just say I’ve been around a very long time. I’m a caretaker of sorts. You take care of those. I hope they serve you well on your journey ahead.” She couldn't explain why she felt at peace with that explanation, because for all intents and purposes it didn't really make sense. A caretaker? But he just gave all of these things away. The man was an enigma. Keenava turned away to head back to Sandy, but paused to wave at the man because it felt like the right thing to do. But when she turned back, he was gone— "—I'm not gone, I'm just a few feet away!" The man exclaimed with his crate over his shoulder. "Also, you asked what my name was before and I forgot to tell you. The name is William Natronus. Though, my friends usually called me Big Will. Now go catch up to Sandy." Keenava had no idea what kind of head trip she was in, but she had nothing else to do, so she scampered off to rejoin Sandy with her new haul of stuff.
  8. "...Falleen…you in?" Keenava wordlessly nodded in affirmation to Sandy before quietly excusing herself. The Twi’lek shuddered a little as the warm tropical clime tickled her exposed face. Hundreds of small needles pushed silent electricity beneath her skin, pulsing in and out with different magnitudes and frequencies. She flexed her toes, feeling her callused feet move against the warm topsoil. She bounced gently on her feet and rowed her neck first to the left, then to the right. She extended each hand to its fullest and then let each finger rest as she shook her hands back and forth at the wrist. Faleen. Jzora. Keenava had no idea where Jzora was from. But that word was still echoing through her head. It was a word on the holonet: a woman who looked just like Jzora. And though she recalled so little of her former... master? That word brought a flood of vivid memories to the forefront of her mind. Roene told her to accept all that she was. It was key to touching the force again. So, dangerous though it might be, she let the memories play one after the other, refusing to omit any detail. Kheldar. Bekka. Ronin. Chaos, water, flame-retardant foam, and a seedy but reliable bar in the middle of Coruscant’s most popular district. Fresh from her escape and with her stolen identity in place, Lallu was vulnerable, susceptible, and alone. She was surrounded by people—some of the most notable people in the galaxy that she didn’t know or recognize until much later—but so alone in a world that was seconds away from picking her up and throwing her back into hell. She shrouded herself in a need for validation because that was all she had. Broken was her balm, because her brain knew no better. Then she entered, while scraps of clothing threatened to reveal everything Lallu had on display. It was time for Jzora to put on her best game face and flirt the pretty little thing out of what remained of her damaged clothes. Jzora was a skilled seductress, heir to a legacy of cold-blooded passion fueled by will-enslaving pheromones. This would be epic; there would be poems and songs... "You look pretty... pretty." What followed was a drug-induced haze. But, with a clear perspective, Keenava could make out more details than before. Titans of shadow surrounded her. Shadowlord. Alora. Raynuck. Starri. Exodus. Kakuto. Lucifer. Emily… Furion. Legends of Sith that would defy generations to come gathered to listen and learn from each other. "From history, we must learn this lesson. The Jedi, for all their vaunted wisdom, fear what lies at the core of every man and woman. They fear not being able to control the darkness that lies within them, and in turn, they completely shut themselves off to it. And this is where you and I differ. As Sith, we are not afraid of our inner darkness. No, indeed, we embrace it; we embrace what makes us unique because that’s what makes us strong. Let me take a moment to reflect on the code many of you have heard countless times." The irony is that he was right. The fear of oneself has the power to destroy. The fear of what you’re capable of can turn you against yourself. And the fear of how others will see your darkness will make you shut it off from the world, holding it in and letting it consume you. It is through accepting and understanding who you are—all of you—that you can find strength. A calloused hand glided across the soft skin of her cheek. I'll find you later. A blur of time whirled across her vision, and she was there in a cell. The construction wasn’t important. It was like all the others. But this cell was where she met him. Deep in the bowels of Coruscant, those golden eyes pierced the night. The deepest depth could not smother the gold that she could still see as clear as day. "…My path is dangerous and uncertain. You may question my methods and my choices. You will certainly question my intent, but I will tell you this only once: You will know both what I tell you and what you can figure out for yourself. Never expect me to tell you everything. Follow me, and I will lead you to the freedom your heart craves." But to what end? And was it really freedom? Or was it delusion and obsession? Keenava gasped. Her heart rate spiked slightly, but nothing else changed. The pain she felt was like that of a lost limb. It was a shadow of her passion, but it still bit at her every time she saw his eyes. She fell… Coruscant ran past her face in a flash of light. She shot into the depths like a missile with one goal in mind. A simple, subtle catalyst that served as a breaking point between security and bliss pushed her into a downward spiral, down into the womb of Coruscant’s chaotic energy and turmoil. She was consumed by the spine of the world, by the energy of her own will held back, by his energy, and by the euphoria that came with letting go, but her body couldn’t contain it all. She had to let it… "HOW DARE YOU?" Lallu exclaimed. "HOW DARE YOU TALK TO ME THAT WAY AFTER ALL THIS TIME. I trusted you! I thought I knew you! Then you betrayed me, my mother, and my sister!" She slammed him into the left wall with a violent shake. "I HAD TO WATCH MY MOTHER DIE! YOU KRIFFING SCHUTTA!" She slammed her father into the right wall and listened as his arms broke against the durasteel. Her tone calmed a little, but the intensity of her eyes never halted, and the blade of her lightsaber glowed with brilliant golden fire. "This isn’t mercy. I want you to die slowly. I want you to feel every agonizing moment like I did. I want you to see, hear, smell, and taste every pain and indecency I was forced to feel. And I want you to hear my cries. Because it's all your fault!" Lallu slammed her father to the ground in front of her and fed upon the sound of his spine breaking. She projected the last twenty years of pain and suffering into his form. She didn’t let up. He screamed in agony with every torment he went through, and when he finished reliving her past, she could hear pounding coming from the door to the penthouse. She idly ignored it. Her attention was on him. "COME SEE THE MONSTER YOU CREATED, YOU DESPICABLE WASTE OF EXISTENCE!!!" Lallu said, driving the golden blade of her lightsaber into every part of his body. Each stab was slow but deliberate. Each stab signified another act of indecency, and each stab ended with another satisfying cry of pain. “... I need you to be strong.” But why did strength come from misery? Why did strength come from pain? In the end, just like his life, his death meant nothing. And her display of strength was that of a toddler lashing out at her father, twenty years or more past due. Keenava stirred, emerging from her reverie with a brow coated in sweat. Her teeth were tight, and she released a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. She could see different pieces of her stained glass window standing before her, like liquid mirrors, beyond the veil; beyond reality. Kana. Kara. Kava. Lallu. Ulanna. Ootunavi. Zythma. Every color was an error, every jagged edge was a sham, and every scrap of texture was a reflection of the depravity inherent in every alter. She stood tall among the fragments, a quiet challenge echoing in her expression. But the fragility of her thoughts belied a deeper doubt. Just a few years ago... This was me. Technically, this is still me. A frisson ran the length of her spine. She opened her amethyst eyes and looked out toward the Exalted Mountains. "What will it take for me to go back? Will knowing I am capable of it help me avoid it?" Keenava muttered anxiously to herself. Keenava’s brow knit in consternation. Will going to Falleen put us in danger? Sandy, who’d been respectfully monitoring the Twi’lek during her solitude, noticed the conflict and approached carefully. She gently lifted her scarred hand and held on to Keenava’s as it shook at her side. She gave no preamble. She had no expectations. And the reaction was almost immediate. Like an anchor in troubled waters, Keenava’s ship steadied. The shared scars tethered her nerves, reminding her of the world around her. Whatever she did or whoever she was, she needed to do it and be it to get here. Lessons were learned, and every step was a step forward. Keenava affected a half-smile as she turned her amethyst eyes to look at the forest in Sandy's gaze. "I’m ready now. Let’s get going... and... thank you."
  9. Friend. It was a strange word, and an even stranger feeling. It hung leaden on the shelf of her mind for so long, unused or taken for granted. But now there were not one but two people who granted her clemency—people who, until recently, would have likely dispatched her without hesitation. They were looking at her expectantly. But there was no weight to it. The feeling was warm. It was like the tingly sensation you get holding your hand against a budding flame—not the feeling you get when you let your hand sit right above the flame—but the building sensation that rose as you held your open palms beside a blaze. It was careful and considerate. It was warm without burning into a chaotic inferno. A silent tear rubbed the obsidian cheek of the Twi’lek as she nodded quietly to their proposal. "Of course, Sandy, and of course I’d be happy to accompany you both. Heck, I’m super eager to get moving. I’ve been sitting down for way too long." Keenava replied. She rose to her feet and immediately felt the blood rush straight into her lekku. She noticed the world spinning for a brief moment but remained steady. "Oh!" Keenava exclaimed, "there is something I have to take care of first, but I’ll be right back!" After allowing the blood to settle in her protesting brain tails, the Twi’lek vaulted gently over the mess hall table into a neat flip and threaded her body gracefully between two soldiers that were walking by. She kicked her body into standing and maneuvered her way out of the mess hall toward the medical tents. Minutes passed before Keenava returned with a slight smile tugging at her face and a faint bounce in her step. “That little girl from before says ‘Hi,’ Sandy.” Keenava paused, abruptly noticing the Togruta in their group for the first time, and wondered whether they’d been there the whole time or if they’d arrived after she left. Regardless, Keenava was now bouncing on the balls of her feet, ready and willing to go as soon as everyone else was. Sitting down for a long time had really made her antsy. Now that she was up, her limbs were eager to move.
  10. There’s truth to what they say: misery loves company; and broken people find others who are broken. Keenava felt the squeeze; a hand gesture; a pulse of hope and assured security that passed quietly between them. She felt the trust, new though it was, and smiled a little before Sandy began her tale. The young Jedi Master raised one of her pale hands, and Keenava was surprised by the damage. An illustrated tapestry of woe streamed across her white skin. A myriad of emotions bloomed at the sight. Her words wove with the branches of scar tissue that were still visible. And with every new revelation, Keenava moved a micrometer closer to the edge of her seat. Every colorful swirl of pain drew their experiences closer together, which was something she never thought of. Until now, she never understood that a future with the Jedi was possible. With how broken she was, she concluded a future with the Sith was inevitable. But this young woman persisted. Sandy pushed forward regardless of her pain and managed to avoid losing herself to it. Even as close to it as she was, the evidence winding up and down her wrists, she avoided destruction. Sandy was one of the strongest people Keenava had ever met. It was one thing to feel pain and hatred; all people do. It’s a natural part of life. It was quite another thing to embrace everything else and persist to spite it. The embrace of the dark is tempting, it’s easy. You want to seek revenge, you want to push past your peers, you want to rise above your abusers, you want to seek strength to free you from expectation. You want to feel loved, you want to feel like you matter, you want to find validation. But what do you need? You never seek to resolve those lingering feelings, or to process them in a healthy way. They become ancient barnacles that cling to a sinking ship as your everything sinks into an unhealthy miasma until you’re left gasping in the dark with no way out. Keenava reached out, touching Sandy’s scarred hand gingerly. She ran her callused fingers soft over the branched scars. Every branch an echo of pain; the trails of tears that were shed in futility. A single tear slid across the Twi'lek's obsidian skin as she looked deep into the forest of Sandy’s eyes. She clasped the Jedi's hand between both of hers and felt a wan smile tug at the edge of her cheeks. “Thank you for sharing. I know it's hard and I’m glad you opened up.”
  11. As Keenava spoke, she kept an eye on the young Jedi. Not much changed. But something dark crept across the young woman’s emerald eyes. Instinctively the Twi’lek reached out to one of Sandy’s hands and gave it a reassuring squeeze. They shared a silent moment before Sandy spoke again, the young master’s smile reflected upon Keenava’s face. … “If you saw these old masters before you now, say if Exodus walked through those doors behind you, what would you do? Would you seek revenge for your treatment?” The sound of his name tickled the ends of every vertebra as it worked its way down her back. What would he think? And would she seek revenge? Warring forces in her mind attempted to persuade her, but she had more control now. It wouldn’t go their way anymore. Keenava took a moment to visualize the Sith Master. She took a moment to visualize all her former masters to the best of her limited ability; Jzora in her haughty disguise, Furion with his wolfish smile and glowing golden eyes, and Exodus the brooding spider that tried to shape her to his own end. They all stood there in that space, glaring at Keenava from over Sandy’s shoulders. Exodus was furious, his muscles taut and ready to strike; Furion was disappointed, his golden eyes cast downcast, and his frame conflicted on what to do next; Jzora was uninterested, her body language indicated strongly that she had everywhere better to be than here. Yet, oddly, Keenava felt nothing. The only hint of emotion was a single tear when her gaze fell upon Furion. But save that one gesture, she couldn’t spare the same vibrance of emotion she once had for him. It appeared as if her affection was based solely on his power over her. And now, though he was still very powerful, his influence was gone. Exodus’ presence was unquestionable, but the force behind it was the light of a candle that had nearly burned out; furiously pushing outward with the intent to change, and – in the end – having very little effect on its surroundings. Jzora’s time had been so long ago that Keenava had forgotten her connection to her. She remembered her appearance and mannerisms, but it was like she was looking at a stranger. Keenava hummed softly to herself, her lips quirking back into a half-smile. “I can’t possibly know what they’d do to me. But I can confidently say that I would not seek revenge if I ever saw them again. In fact, the only monster I ever swore revenge against is gone. My father.” Keenava’s expression sank. “The man robbed me of my choice to have a normal life. He took my mother from me and traumatized my sister and me. I confronted him a while ago and killed him. Maybe he’ll come back. Maybe someone cares enough to clone him. I’m not sure, nor do I care. The physical act severed any bond I have with him. He doesn’t get to be part of my life or my sister’s life. He was the reason I didn’t get a choice. There are monsters that take and take and take, but if I had had a choice, I wouldn’t have been there in first place. I stared into his cold, hate-filled eyes and cursed him in the name of my mother. Hours later, in a safe house I was using at the time, I burst into tears. Finally, it was over.” Keenava sighed, letting go of Sandy’s hand and looking briefly into the distance. “He’s not a particularly pleasant part of my past, but what’s done is done. Anything you wanted to share?” Keenava said softly, quirking an eyebrow.
  12. Keenava finished tearing the flesh from her meaty entrée with her teeth and took a moment to wipe at her mouth with the closest napkin-like utensil she could find. She patiently listened to Sandy's words and bowed her head gently at appropriate moments. She even preened a little when the young woman told her how proud she was. It was odd; she felt feather-light tingles brush at the tips of her fingers, and her lekku twitched ever so slightly at Sandy's words even when they both knew very little of each other. But compliments were not things the Twi'lek got very often, so anything positive was either regarded with suspicion or admiration. It all depended on intention. And Sandy was not expressing any level of condescension. Her praise was genuine. Her request, however, was far from simple. It wasn’t like Keenava had anything to hide, but maybe she didn’t need to go into every knitty gritty detail. "Well, to know about my past, you may need to understand a few things that you may find difficult, or you may not fully relate to due to your time with the Jedi. For instance, No one is born a Sith. No one comes into the world wanting to cause harm. Well… The vast majority don’t. I can’t account for every baby in the galaxy and all potential conditions.” Keenava took a small meditative breath and clasped her fingers together upon the cold steel of the table. “Regardless… the vast majority of Sith only become Sith due to pain, trauma, loss, or some disconnection from the rest of the galaxy. In their desperate cry, they search for strength and that strength isn’t usually offered by the Jedi. At least, it hasn’t been.” “My story started years ago when I was sold into slavery to settle a debt. I was the first to be sold, followed by my sister, and my mother. But I fought to be first in the hopes that I might protect them from the same fate.” Keenava felt a burning line build on the rim of her eyes as her story continued, telling her of tears that were fighting to the surface. She stifled the impulse. “It was years before I saw them again. And when I did, I was forced to witness my mother’s death while others looked on and laughed. Thankfully, my sister never had to see that. But that moment broke me. I lost all touch with who I was, what I was, and where I was… And it wasn’t until the darkness found me that I had any purpose. The darkness offered hope. Hundreds of thousands of slaves went years without ever having hope. The Jedi didn’t see or know where they were, whether that was due to other issues or just not being able to save all the souls in the galaxy, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t the Jedi’s fault, but their inaction led to possibility. And for people like me, I was easy to take advantage of.” “Masters came and went: Jzora Scorpio, Julio Furion, and Exodus. Each discarded me when they grew tired of me. But through all that, I learned who I was. I mastered the common, Twi'leki, and Huttese languages. I learned many subjects and taught myself a great many things. But it was all hollow. I engaged in the petty Sith squabbles and did many stupid things. I even got into a fight with a woman named Ailbasi Zirtani. That was the last stupid fight I got into before I died; truly died. We all know how prolific cloning is in the Galaxy even if the expense isn’t always worth it. But for the first time in a long time, I didn’t know a single soul that had my DNA. I went a long time floating in nothing. But something felt odd, right before I came back… like a bright burning blue flame casting away the shadow that had embraced me for so long. And when I woke up a few days ago, I felt like a big arm had just wiped the slate clean. I felt like I was given a chance to start over. And this time, I was going to do what I could to make a better choice.” Keenava sighed. “Apparently some slaver had won my DNA over a game of Sabaak from one of my dad’s old contacts. I was touted as a rare specimen with a valuable skin defect. Black skinned Twi’leks due tend to have a bigger price. They kept me on drugs for several days and it wasn’t until I woke up in a dancer’s dress that I had any idea where I was.” “Reflecting on my experience now, I wouldn’t say that the Dark is an addiction. I’d say it’s a curse. The great irony of it is that, as a people, we fought to free ourselves from the shackles of duty, obligation, honor, integrity, slavery, morality, etc. But in the end, we traded our shackles for another set. The dark side cripples you. While it grants you power, it clips your wings and creates the illusion of safety. It creates that appeal that you call an addiction, but its so much worse. Empty promises, betrayals, power struggles, egos the size of oceans; that and more were the day to day with my contemporary Sith. Even if I never become a Jedi master, I never want to go back.” Keenava’s face was liberally speckled with tears that left slightly darker lines upon her obsidian skin. Her expression was solemn, and her body language was numb. It wasn’t everything, but this would at least give them both some context.
  13. Keenava saw Sandy’s gesture from where she sat. But getting up elicited a sharp draw of breath from the youth that still clung to her. Keenava’s right hand rested atop the young girl’s quaking head, doing what she could to quell the tide of tears peeling down her cheeks. The girl had a lot of emotions to go through and Keenava didn’t want to abandon her. She made a promise. The Twi’lek bent her head, smiling at the girl and a silent moment of tension passed between them as Keenava considered what to do. But she reassured the girl by giving her small hand a squeeze. Then Keenava turned to share a wink with someone nearby, and something seemed to shift in the air a few feet away. A few moments later, Roene, the Cerean that assisted Keenava earlier, appeared from between a row of grav-gurneys and took in the sight with a knowing expression. “Hello little one,” Roene said with a calm gentle chord to his deep baritone voice. The Cerean’s eyes quickly scanned the young patient’s documents and his face brightened up. “I know someone who is waiting for you in the next tent over. Would you like to come with me?” The little girls’ beautiful blue eyes, filled with glassy tears, addressed the Cerean with all the confidence she could muster. “No one. I have no one. My m-m-mother…” The little girl’s tears redoubled and Roene’s face softened visibly. “It’s not your mother. No. But your father has been worried sick. He’s been trying to see you for the past hour. Do you want to go see him?” Roene’s words were careful. He gently placed a hand on the young girl’s shoulder and watched patiently as she leaned into his consolation. “My d-dad? He’s still alive?” She said, choking the words through staccato sobs. “I thought I lost him a long time ago.” Roene smiled broadly and bowed his cone head toward her, slightly squeezing her shoulder. “I assure you, your father is alive and well and he’s been looking for you ever since he learned we had you under medical examination.” The girl’s eyes lit and she looked at Keenava with an apology written across her little face. “I need to go see him. I need to. Will you come with me?” She pleaded, gripping at her sides. Keenava shook her head softly. “Unfortunately, Master Sarna has requested my presence. But Roene here is a friend of mine. He’ll take care of you. You go see your Dad and I’ll check on you later, okay?” The little girl’s sad expression deepened with the furrow of her brow, but you could see the acceptance gilding the edges of her face. “I know. Grown up stuff. But you better come see me.” Keenava smiled. “I will.” With a hop, the girl transferred her hand to Roene and followed him toward the other side of the medical area. Keenava mouthed the words ‘Thank you’ at the Cerean who returned them with ‘you’re welcome’ before disappearing in the din of the heavily populated medical space. Keenava dusted off her cargo pants a moment before accompanying Sandy and Meku. She topped a plate with a smattering of meat-based food and settled at the table just as Sandy hit the two of them with a very loaded question: “So tell me about yourselves. What brings you here and what are you trying to become?” “Umm… how much do you really want to know?” Keenava responded. “I don’t know if you really want to hear everything about me. As to who I want to become? That’s… I’m not sure.” In truth, Keenava just wanted to not be what she’d been before. She wasn’t a stranger to the dark. Many made it clear that they didn’t want her broken mind, and that she needed to hide, and mask herself to everyone. She learned to be ashamed of her mind, and what she’d done. She ran away from her past, and what she once was. She wanted love, but watched as some facsimile of obsession consumed her, and then tried to hide behind the fallout. But she wasn’t going to let anyone break her. There had to be a place for her to just be her, whatever that was. When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, gonna send a flood gonna drown 'em out, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me. “I think it might be safer to say that I used to be a Sith. And that, despite the darkness of my past, I want to be better than I was. I want a chance to live the life that my mother dreamed for my sister and me. Whether that means I become a Jedi and provide a sense of safety and justice to the galaxy, or I learn to control the force from the Jedi so that I’m not a hazard to myself or others, I’m not entirely sure. I just know that I am done with that life.” Keenava intoned after finishing off a small cut of meat. “As to who I am and what I’ve done. If you want all of that information you’re going to need more time, and a lot more patience.” Keenava smiled a little, but the recollection wasn’t something she was giddy to exchange. "And I got here because Leena gave me a ride."
  14. She caught the blonde Jedi Master’s warm smile and something in the Twi’lek’s mind clicked. She knows more than she’s letting on. It was a comforting thing. It was a gesture of respect that Keenava wasn’t sure she was worthy of, but one that she was thankful for. From the stale air that hung between them after Sandy completed her demonstration, Keenava assumed that it was her and Meku’s turn to follow the Jedi’s example and find someone to treat. This was meant to be a lesson after all. They were meant to follow the instructions and guide someone to peace or treat their wounds… through the force… which was totally something she could do. Right. Easy. Keenava shuffled a few steps away from the other two, deliberately looking for a simple case to solve, doing her best to still her twitching lekku, because she wasn’t sure she could help. But all the black tag victims looked in a way Keenava knew a simple bandage would not fix. Severe burns, psychosomatic seizures, bouts of hysteria, paralyzation—and those were the lucky ones. Some were hollowed out or simply not there anymore. There was nothing left in their eyes. Without seeing the myriad afflictions through the force, she could still feel the agony swell like a brilliant crescendo to the crown of her head, which pounded with pain every time she tried to dig further. There was a magnitude of care she couldn’t provide, and she knew it. Keenava slumped into a folding chair at the bedside of a patient who looked to be no more than eleven. The patient clutched a stuffed animal tightly to her chest, but her eyes were completely empty. She stared at the ceiling, expressionless, motionless, like someone had robbed her of that spark that all children seemed to have. It was tragic, and Keenava had no idea how to fix it. She sat silently and lowered her face into her hands, wincing as the pain in her head only got stronger. An older callused hand reached out and patted her on the back. Keenava started abruptly at the intrusion. But when she turned to look, she was greeted by a warm face and two pale blue eyes. A Cerean was standing beside her chair. He was of modest height with a brilliant white beard and a matching tuft of hair atop his coned head. Without asking, or waiting for an answer, the Cerean pulled over another folding chair to sit beside the troubled Twi’lek. “What seems to be the problem?” He observed, his tone measured and concerned. “What makes you think there’s a problem?” Keenava countered defensively. “Well, you’ve been muttering to yourself, and your hand has been on your head frequently over the last few minutes. So, either you keep getting the same bug landing on your forehead again and again, or you have a pain in your head, which could potentially stem from some unresolved issue. Now whether that is due to a chemical imbalance or something deeper, I am unsure. Hence the reason why I asked the question.” The Cerean started back without a hint of hesitation; his smile just as big as it had been before. Keenava looked over at Meku and Sandy, as if to confirm they weren’t listening, then let her gaze shift back to the Cerean. Her eyes drifted downward and her lekku seemed to droop a little. “It’s a long story.” “I have time.” The Cerean’s pale blue eyes were open and inquisitive. His body language suggested something of a counselor; it was open and inviting. He made room without physically moving aside, as if to encourage confession without verbally indicating it. Keenava quietly filled the Cerean in on what had happened over the last couple of days down to every detail she could remember. By the end, she was somewhat surprised by how forthcoming she’d been. She looked over at him and cocked an eyebrow. “Do people regularly share their baggage with you?” The Cerean chuckled, “no. Normally I have to try a little harder. But I like helping people so I don’t mind. Would you be okay if I tried to help you?” Keenava sat in silence for a few moments. She wasn’t really sure what was going on. She was sure she could trust Sandy and the people here, but she wasn’t sure if she could communicate her problems effectively enough, let alone whether or not people would be able to figure out exactly what was wrong. But, at the end of the day, if this person could help her, what did she have to lose? “Alright. Why not?” “Good. First things first. Please join me on the ground.” The Cerean carefully slipped from his folding chair and sat cross-legged on the ground. Keenava followed suit shortly after and only slightly began to wonder what she’d gotten herself into. “Now,” the Cerean began with an even, practiced tone, “First I want you to close your eyes and breathe. I want you to focus on breathing in and out over and over; in through your nose and out through your mouth. Then, as you feel the blood in your body begin to slow, I want you to begin clearing the cobwebs from your mind. I want you to discard every random thought both intrusive and mundane. I want you to empty your mind.” Keenava sat and followed his instructions quietly. She tried to sift through every doubt, regret, and source of shame she’d felt over the last few days. When they were all collected, she dumped them into a metaphorical waste bucket and felt somehow… lighter? “No-” “Shhhh… don’t speak for now.” The Cerean’s words were gentle and felt like they were getting farther away. “Second, with your newly emptied mind, I want you to gather everything that you remember about yourself - past and present. I want you to gather everything that you felt, everything that you saw. I want you to gather every sensory experience you can, and I want you to make it all into a comprehensible being. By the end of this I want you to see a reflection of yourself sitting before you in your mind; not a ‘bad’ or a ‘good’ one, but simply a reflection of yourself.” Keenava’s brows knit in pain, but she began to see the outline of her former self. Burning ruby eyes looked back at her. Her prosthetic leg glowed in the dim light and her old tattoos rose powerfully to the surface of her skin which was as black as tar. This ‘reflection’ Keenava also carried heavy scarring on her face and body; tendrils of shadow clung to her that the real Keenava had never seen before. Her expression was that of barely contained rage, waiting to spring to the surface. Her fists were at her hips; she was ready to pounce. “I don’t thi-” “Don’t think, just see. And don’t speak, just listen,” the Cerean said, his voice echoing a warning in her mind. “I trust your comment means that you’ve finished your reflection. Good. It’s time for the hard part. Now that you’ve created this shadow of yourself, I want you to embrace it.” The Cerean’s words continued to echo ethereally from everywhere around her all at the same time. Keenava’s brows continued to knit together, but this time with incredulity. He wants me to do what? The real Keenava, keeping her eyes closed, tried to get to all fours and shuffle a little closer. The reflection hissed at her though it didn't move. The reflection was being held back by something Keenava couldn’t see. She tried to shuffle a little more, but the hissing continued. She looked back and forth, trying to find a good angle, but she found nothing. She needed to go all in. Keenava rushed forward, preparing to meet any and all hazard, wincing hard in preparation for something she wasn’t sure of. But nothing came; nothing except a small tingle that traced the outline of Keenava’s right shoulder. “... I want you to tell her that everything will be okay…” Keenava repeated the instruction and a warm sensation began to bloom in her chest. “... I want you to tell her that her pain is valid and that she has worked for far too long…” Keenava continued what she was instructed to repeat, and could feel the warm sensation begin to grow, and a weight begin to lift. “... and finally, I want you to let her go. I want you to accept everything she is. Because everything she is, made you who you are today. It doesn’t define you. But denying who you are, and running from yourself isn’t getting you anywhere. I don’t want you to celebrate your shortcomings, but I want you to accept that they happened. I want you to accept who you were and thus who you are. You can only be the sum of your parts, and any less than that is a disservice to you as a person... Now, open your eyes.” Keenava felt herself following the last instructions as if on auto-pilot. And when she opened her eyes, she swore she could see her reflection for the briefest second; it's eyes were streaked with tears, and it wore a smile on it's face that somehow took away from the corrupted picture she saw before. It looked scared. It looked alone. The Cerean was standing now, looking down at the Twi’lek with a wan smile. “How do you feel?” Keenava’s mouth worked without sound for a few seconds before the tears that had been rimming her eyes began to fall. “H-h-how did you do that?” Keenava mumbled quietly. “I didn’t do anything.” The Cerean responded, resting a careful hand on her shoulder. “What you discussed with me is something I recognized as a trauma response. Something terrible happened in your past – maybe several things. And even though you had been separated from the feelings that made everything so traumatic, you were still reacting as if you’d been traumatized. You shoved everything away to defend yourself from being vulnerable because it’s that very vulnerability that you were and are afraid of. The many parts of yourself that existed in the past, existed to save you from being vulnerable. And now that you have clarity enough to realize that vulnerability, your subconscious is reflexively protecting you from the world around you. It’s afraid you’re going to regress back to the shadow that you were. That fear was such an intrinsic part of you that it was effectively in every extrinsic part of your life. But what you just did is the first--and hardest--step toward healing, and I’m glad you did it.” Keenava’s chest trembled. She felt a wave of chaos whoosh back into her that felt very familiar. But instead of exploding like she’d done many times before, she held her hand close to her chest and braced. She wasn’t that person anymore. She would not follow that path. This was her choice. A piece of a puzzle that she didn’t know was missing, snapped into place as Keenava rose to her feet. “Now, before we conclude this moment my friend, I want to discuss with you something else you mentioned. You mentioned something about having difficulties feeling the force and I wanted to elucidate what I have learned in my not so small time in this galaxy.” The Cerean began in what was obviously a practiced lecture voice. “The force is not some simple collection of energy that one can draw through their body by only one means. The force is in all living things; it is all around us. Sure, the Sith would have you believe that using and harnessing your emotions with the force is the only way to do it. And it certainly is a very powerful way to do it. However, tying yourself so closely to the force with something so inherently yours - like your emotions - can carry a heavy mental and emotional toll. And, depending on how you use the force, you can inflict physical damage upon yourself. When you use the energy of every living thing to destroy and taint, you exact an equal price on yourself that accumulates over time. It is this price that eventually erodes the body and makes it harder to stop. Another way you can channel the force is simply that, by channeling it.” Keenava’s brows creased as she concentrated on the message, but she couldn’t make heads or tails of what he meant by 'channel' it; at least not in a way that differed from Sith practices. “How about this,” the Cerean continued, acknowledging the consternation written across Keenava’s face. “Imagine if you will that you are a river bed that stretches far and wide. Now, imagine that the force is the ocean. What you want to do is let the water from the ocean flow through your river bed and out to the other side. Or, slightly differently put, you’re a dam that controls and shifts the level and direction of the current as it flows down the river bed. Your job isn’t to put your own intensity into it, you simply guide it and shift it to where you need it to go. If you take a deep breath and practice what I’ve described, you’ll find that the force never left you.” Keenava nodded and took a moment to close her eyes and breathe. She tried to imagine a river bed. She tried to imagine fish, and soil, and rocks. Yet instead, she ended up with a large tube. It was not the end she intended, but it was a vessel and would serve the same purpose. Next came the water. The Twi'lek tried to shift her stance and feel the water as it flowed steadily through her imaginary tube. It was hard to imagine what the water felt like as it rushed past her and into the wide-faced opening. But her whole body felt cold. Eventually small effervescent tingling sensations began to tickle her fingertips, and she could feel the air in the room shift. She could hear, smell, see, and feel the world again. Her head wasn’t pounding anymore. She let the feeling spread through her hand and up into her arms. It was a gentle floaty feeling. It was different than she was used to. It felt alien and yet somehow familiar. A moment of silence passed as she processed everything that had happened. “Thank you doesn’t feel like enough.” Keenava sighed when she could finally manage the words. “And it is not needed. By the way, has anyone ever told you that your purple eyes are lovely?” the Cerean said gently. She smiled. “No they haven’t. And I don't think I ever properly introduced myself! My name is Keenava.” The Cerean nodded, “Greetings Keenava, my name is Kro’Roene’Givrah, pleased to meet you. I wish you luck in your future endeavors” With a deep bow, Roene turned on his heel and walked to the nearest not black-tagged patient. Keenava shifted her focus to the girl clutching the doll to her chest that lay on a grav-gurney nearby. And, with the force tingling at her fingertips once more, she gently held the young girl’s free hand. She spread warmth from the core of her chest, through the length of her arm, and out the tips of her fingers. She whispered softly, close to the little girl’s silent form. “I’ve lost too little one. But you and I, we need to keep living. They would want that. We need to keep moving forward one step at a time. There are still people who care for you. You’re going to be okay.” Keenava saw after images of a bigger woman laying sprawled on the ground, and the girl crying at her side. It slid like a spike into her back, but she held fast. She embraced the young girl and turned the hazy specter of the girl to face her, realizing that it was not the little girl but the face of her mother staring back at her. Another bucket of ice hit the core of her brain, but she would not be deterred. “You say to them that I’m going to keep living. If not for them, then for myself.” Her mother’s beatific purple eyes were creased by a deep smile that spread from cheek to cheek. Tears glistened, freshly fallen, across her serene expression. With a start, the little girl woke up and choked for a few seconds before grabbing the Twi’lek back and sobbing uncontrollably. Keenava rested a hand on the girl’s back and lightly cooed, “shhh, it’ll be okay. I’ll stay here as long as you need. Alright?” The little girl looked up at her, brown eyes glossy and tired, “You promise?” “I’ll do what I can. I do have other things to do, but right now my mission is to make sure you’re okay. So I get to stay here until you feel better. Doctor’s orders.” Keenava said, a sweet smile spreading across her face. The little girl smiled a little before leaning against her and tearing up again.
  15. “Keenava Dira,” the Twi’lek responded. It was in Keenava’s nature to keep an eye on her surroundings; an assassin needed to know every point of entry and exit; an assassin needed to know which details were necessary and which weren’t. Therefore she could feel the deflation of the young Nautolan and see as his head tentacles wilted ever so slightly. She took note of this display, ashamed not of what she did, but of how it made Mekuma feel. It was clear that he had wanted to help, and Keenava felt that that motivation was worth rewarding. Even if she had no idea how she was going to encourage the boy after rejecting his assistance. Instead of dwelling, she opted to put a pin in that feeling, and turned her attention to the young Jedi Master as she continued further into the triage area toward more black tagged patients. “Now we have many more patients to work with before the day is spent, and you will see death close at hand. Are you ready for that task?” Was it respect, indifference, condescension, or just ignorance that led the young Jedi Master to think that Keenava hadn’t seen death? Maybe she was just being polite and not probing into her memories? People that didn’t try to pry into your mind to figure out your darkest secrets at the earliest convenience, what’s that like? Jokes aside, death wasn’t a groundbreaking concept for the former Sith. Memories echoed in the cold clarity of her mind’s eye; pieces of stained glass that lingered in the mosaic of her recollection. They were distant fragile things that lacked the vibrance that formed them years ago. The deep, chilling blue of watching her mother’s weakened frame crumple in her adolescent hands, had diluted to the pale blue hue of glacial ice. The deep crimson that used to burn bright with each strike as Keenava committed patricide, wasn’t there. It was replaced with the faded maroon of dried blood; the red dust of decayed metal; a scar that refused to heal. But despite its persistence, the scar’s significance had faded to near nothing. Numb detachment clouded each recollection. All she felt now was regret. She felt regret for wasting her life following a path defined by others. The only thing she didn’t regret, was something she chose to do herself. Killing him was a calculated act. And even with her newfound clarity, she couldn’t find the energy to be mad at herself for it. She could see the futility of it, the moral complications of it, but she could not bring herself to hate what she’d done. Because of him, she could never scour the tortured screams of her mother and sister from her mind; screams that, years ago, mirrored Keenava’s when her father sold her into slavery. She no longer held anger in her heart for him, but she did not miss or mourn him either. In fact, taking her mother’s surname was her last goodbye. It was a small rebellion, but it felt good to move on from that chapter of her life. Keenava nodded, content to remain quiet for the time being. If Sandy didn’t see fit to bear the Twi’lek’s history publicly, Keenava would wait for a better time to share. She followed the pair of Jedi further into the triage area, feeling a little more than just out of place, and they stopped at a roughed-up marine with some serious wounds. The fetid aroma of charred flesh crashed into Keenava’s nostrils, followed closely by the smell of ozone. It was curious and familiar, but Keenava couldn’t put her finger on it. Instead, she tried to carefully reach out to the force--to do as Sandy had done before. But her head surged with pain as her brain smashed against her skull in revolt. She tried to brush it off, but her right hand went to her head as a mostly covered wince tensed the features of her face.
  16. Keenava caught the small Nautolan’s blush and giggled a little under her breath. His quick head movements suggested no small amount of embarrassment. From where he was looking, she presumed that he projected some need for modesty and dignity on to her, as most people in ‘civilized’ space would. When, in reality, the only reason she wanted better clothes was because these clothes were covered in sand and were damned uncomfortable. She’d become desensitized to how people viewed her physical form. If she had her way, she’d walk around naked. But many in the known universe viewed that as gauche. And she was pretty sure, if she were so daring, this little boy would’ve passed out from her brazen display, which was not something she needed or wanted. He departed briefly and returned with something that looked like a doctor’s outfit. Heh. What irony. Keenava reached out with one of her lekku and pat the Nautolan softly on the head. “Thank you… what did you say your name was?” Keenava replied, trying to avoid sounding patronizing. “You’re cute, and I appreciate the gesture, but I’d rather not masquerade as a doctor. I don’t think that sends the right message.” “Give the boy a break, Keenava. He means well, don’t he?” grumbled a gritty male-sounding voice from nearby. “Plus, it’s not like you’ll find much in the way of clothes out here.” Keenava cocked an eyebrow, scanning around for the voice, and lit up when she noticed the old smuggler sitting on a stool nearby. “Well, if it isn’t Malin Wrynn! To what do I owe this pleasant surprise?” Keenava chimed, politely dismissing herself from Sandy and the Nautolan, moving to stand beside an older man with clothes the color of dirt. He looked back at the Twi with eyes of piercing blue. His hair was the color of a jet-black stone mixed with the grey-white of salt crystals, and he sat cross-legged with a wide-brimmed hat resting nearby. “Well, right now, I’m here tending to my cousin. She was part of the allied forces and she took a serious blow. I know they’ve plenty of doctors here, but she’s the only blood I got left.” Wrynn gazed somberly at a woman nearby who looked almost like he would if he were a woman and just a few years younger. “She’s been resting for a bit, but I think she’ll pull through.” “I *was* resting…” the female coughed as she shuffled in her cot to face Malin, a mixed look of vague irritation and familial exasperation creasing her features. She rolled her eyes playfully and winced, but tried to play it off with a smile; “Look, its my own little poltergeist.” Malin scoffed, scratching his beard and attempting to adjust the position of a cigar that wasn’t there. “Heh, you’re lucky I ain’t no polter-whatsit. I’d be flinging hospital doodads all over the place.” The woman laughed jovially though it looked like it hurt her with each quake of her chest. She adjusted her view to Keenava and her eyes grew to the size of dinner plates when she caught a full-on view of the Twi’lek’s body from the open bottom of her poncho. "Good lord! You could put an eye out if you keep doin’ that. Go ahead and take my civvies, they’re over there on that chair. You’re welcome.” Keenava looked over at the indicated chair where a neat stack of clothes lay slightly lopsided on the seat. “Okay.” Without skipping a beat, Keenava’s hands were moving to remove her poncho, standing clear as day in the middle of the triage area like she wasn’t about to give a show to everyone. Malin gasped and moved to her side with the reflexes of a sharpshooter. “Heeeeeey, why don’t we do that over here in this here uhhh.... changing room.” Malin grabbed his cousin’s clothes and followed behind Keenava as he corralled her into a private area away from prying eyes. When she emerged, Keenava was wearing a loose-fitting, long sleeve, dark-gray, open-buttoned blouse with a small black shirt underneath. She had a beaten but sturdy black cloth belt around her waist that held up a baggy pair of darkened city-camo fatigue bottoms. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but they would do for now. She handed the coat and boots back to Malin and made her way back to the woman on the ground. “Thank you for the clothes. The boots were a little too big and the coat seemed… sentimental. It didn’t feel right wearing it.” Keenava said, nodding politely. “By the way, I don’t think I caught your name?” “Heh, you already got me outta my pants and now you wanna know my name?” The woman said, laughing heartily at her own joke before erupting in a fit of coughs. “It’s Helena, Helena Ortwind, and you’re welcome for the clothes.” Keenava walked barefoot back to the Nautolan and Jedi Master wherever they ended up, and Malin settled back onto his stool at his cousin’s side. Just when the circus seemed to mellow out, a 4-foot tall purple Togruta girl with a pilot hat on came sprinting to Malin’s side, goggles hanging forgotten around her neck, and an off-gold protocol droid trotted after her as quickly as her legs would go. “Captain! She won’t let me practice!” The purple Togruta announced, coming to a stop beside Malin. “I believe the ‘Captain’ clearly stated that we weren’t to ‘practice’ with the turrets or live ammunition while we’re landed, and in Alliance territory. Have you no consideration!?” The Protocol droid chirped with distinct irritation as she joined the group. “First of all, Shhh… people are trying to sleep. Second of all, Is that right Amy? Were you trying to do target practice while we’re parked?” Malin stated, a parental tone lacing the words “… … … no?” Amy remarked, doing everything she could to hide the smirk that clung to the edges of her face. “Yes, Captain Wrynn. Had I not caught her, she was ready to blow a hole in a waste disposal bin. Refuse and rubbish would’ve flown everywhere.” The droid’s vocabulator was in overdrive. It was clear that this wasn’t the first time she’d scolded the Togruta. “Relax. You think I would’ve had the weapon systems operable while she was alone on the ship? I’m not that irresponsible.” Malin chortled, a lopsided smile playing at the edges of his face. Helena, Amy, and the protocol droid chuckled at him in unison. Malin’s expression turned playfully flustered. “Hey, I’m not! That’s it, none of y'all get first choice of rations for a week!” Amy proceeds to groan while Helena continues chuckling. Keenava smiled warmly and turned back to the young Nautolan and Jedi Master. “Thank you for your kindness. I appreciate the gesture.” Keenava politely intoned as she handed the bundle of white hospital scrubs back to the boy.
  17. "T-That... that's a vocabulator glitch, right? You're no Sith," Keenava made no move to stop the young Nautolan from unclipping his lightsaber and standing nervously. "That's a very complicated question." she stammered, too ashamed to make direct eye contact with the young man. On the surface it was hard to tell. She was wearing a beaten sand-covered poncho and some blankets that Leena tried to fashion into something resembling clothing. The whole ensemble made her look like some kind of beggar, which might not have been too far from the truth. But underneath her clothes, was likely one of the only black-skinned Twi'lek that any of these people had ever seen. They were exceedingly rare and in high demand around the Outer Rim for all the wrong reasons. And, to others, they were an omen of death. At a young age people would often comment about her skin as if it were some curse; like her presence was going to bring a plague or famine. Looking deeper still, you would find the cold detached memories of a former Sith Assassin, lingering in the void as if someone had cut them from the root to let them float away. Her corruption was gone; the cracks around her eyes, the fire burning inside her, and the broken identities that vied for power in her mind were all gone. So yeah, it's complicated. But looking into the blonde-haired human's green eyes, she could feel no threat or malice. It wasn't a warm welcome, but at least she didn't need to worry about taking a sudden saber to the back. And, after the constant fear of betrayal and death at the hands of any random Sith who was trying to prove themselves, it was kind of refreshing. Though it was still awkward. "T-thank you... Sandy was it?" Keenava murmured softly. Keenava followed instructions wordlessly and sat beside the two of them, the twi'lek's knees resting a few inches from the young Jedi Master as she took her first patient. The patient looked as if she'd been through hell. Keenava couldn't begin to assess what had happened to her body. But as Keenava watched Sandy, the twi'lek's pupils dilated and her heartbeat picked up. Curiosity drove her to examine every movement and every bit of the Jedi's technique, but she couldn't really see it. She could feel the pain of the woman and she could feel through the force that something was happening like a distant echo. But ever since she awoke in that slaver compound, her connection to the force felt like a flickering bulb. If she tried to increase the brightness of the bulb, her head would erupt in pain, pounding spikes right behind her eyes. She didn't want to use her emotions anymore - partly because she didn't feel as strongly as she did, and partly because it was through emotion that the Sith wielded the force - but she didn't know an alternative. Still, the mosaic of the woman's life - Slavery, freedom, family, death, despair, agony - felt very familiar. The ache of history throbbed dully inside her, and she could almost feel the sigh of relief in the woman as the young master pulled her hope to the surface. “In life, even in the pain, there is love and there is joy to find solace in. From the smallest memory or love, or desire, they are enough to carry this woman through what is to come. And when she has recovered enough, she can choose for herself how to go forward.” Keenava didn't notice the quiet tears streaming down her face. She remembered her mother, and Seela. They were her hope. They were her joy. They carried her, and would likely continue to carry her through whatever life hit her with. "I know this may seem like an odd question, given the circumstances. But do you have any clothes? These... aren't really comfortable." Keenava said, holding the poncho to her body, trying to avoid unintentionally flashing anybody.
  18. In a whirlwind of activity, Keenava was swept to a completely different planet; one that kind of reminded her of Ryloth. But this planet was a blur. Brown robes, white robes, uniforms, triage units, screaming, pain, fear, and death. Were Keenava tapped into the vitriol of her emotions as she’d been so many times before, she’d have doubled over in a fit as soon as they touched down. As it was, Keenava’s full purple eyes welled quietly. Silent tears kissed her cheeks as emotion built to a crescendo around her. Without sharing their stories, or looking into that mysterious well of cosmic energy that touched all living things, she could feel the ebb and flow of everything crash together like a hellish white water rapid, careening through the valley. This is what the Sith conveniently ignored. They claimed to understand pain, and how to harness misery, but all they did was spread both. Pain begets pain, misery begets misery, and cruelty begets more cruelty. That’s how they build their numbers. They ruin people until there is nothing left but to fight. Even that first night, the night when it all began, his words were nothing but pandering. His wolfish golden eyes feigned illusions of strength, and led her from one pair of shackles to the next. Only now – ironically – standing parsecs away from anyone who knew her as a slave or as a monster, away from anyone that preached personal independence and liberation, did she feel any type of freedom. Leena did mean well, but would I be welcome here in this place? Would people so easily accept me even changed as I am? Before she could get an answer to that or other questions however, Ruin galumphed in a direction, drawing attention as he went through the throngs of battle fatigued masses. Keenava was half tempted to flee the other direction - the base of her hand firmly planted in the center of her bare forehead - lest her cover be blown so completely. But if she were to show trust in the process - foolish though it may be with this loud display - she needed to go all in. The Twi'lekk sighed audibly and tripped a little, keeping pace with the bot as it wove through the crowd. She had to fight to keep the poncho and her other makeshift garments from showing too much to anyone that passed by. But the accelerated pace and the unceremonious sentiment created several moments where her makeshift outfit did not conceal everything. And then, as quickly as he took off, the droid stopped in front of two individuals. One was a very young-looking... Nautolan? that stood a little shorter than Keenava did. And the other one, was a sandy blonde young woman who was even shorter. It was clear that the young woman was a little more experienced, due to the way she stood and her body language, not to mention the wide-eyed wonder in the Nautolan's eyes. It would be kind of cute if he wasn't in the middle of a river of chaos. Before Keenava could introduce herself, Ruin not only blurted out the word Sith, but also implied that she was a former enemy. Yes, because it was really smart to just announce that to a bunch of battle weary people while Keenava was barely clothed and posed absolutely no threat. This was probably the first time that Keenava had felt embarrassed. And it had nothing to do with the garments that were too lose to be worn properly. Her obsidian face reddened a little and paled a shade or two as her expression shifted into a very awkward smile and was accompanied by a matching awkward wave. "H-hhey... How are you?"
  19. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    Keenava chuckled a little at Leena’s statement but took a moment to check the meat before responding. “My name is Keenava…” she paused, hesitating before mentioning her father’s surname. Instead, she replied with… “Keenava Dira.” Note to self: change your name in the future to reflect your new life choice. “As to your observation, judging by the lack of scars, prosthetic, and general wear and tear, I’d guess it was your usual cloning procedure. I just wasn’t aware of the first few moments of my ‘awakening.’ Why or how I wasn’t aware, are not details I really need answered. Unfortunately, I don’t think it was as glamorous as you’re making it out to be – Though I have been resurrected before, and you really don’t want to know the person that did that. It is interesting to think that, in a sense, I’m not the same person that had the experiences that fill my memory. But my spirit has always had a way of finding its way home. Call it fate, the force, destiny, or whatever you wish, the essence of what makes me the way I am always finds its way back. This time though, something changed.” Keenava got to her feet and tested the meat. The Anooba was nice and crispy on the surface. Pieces of the skin flaked off when Keenava poked the cuts with the knife she set down nearby. Before eating, she shuffled the pieces off the heated surface and waited for them to cool before grabbing one and eagerly digging in. “Picture this,” Keenava continued between bites of her food. “You’re you, and all of your memories are attached to emotional energies that you felt when you experienced these events, like pieces of a puzzle that are themselves composed of multiple pieces. Now, picture that your emotions in these memories were all corrupted to uncontrollable extremes by outside influences, so much so that you cannot imagine these events without being emotionally charged. Or, continuing our puzzle analogy, picture that the components of each of your puzzle pieces are glued together so you can't distinguish between the parts that make up each memory; it looks like your puzzle cannot exist without these emotions mixed up inside.” The meat, though still very warm, was a welcome salve to her aching hunger. She wasn’t sure if the food tasted good, or if it was the warm feeling of satisfaction she received from her stomach. “I’m not exactly sure what happened while I was dead, but something or someone affected my soul. And the effect of its interference robbed me of the deleterious effects of my emotional trauma. Or, to use the puzzle analogy again, this mysterious entity took my corrupted emotions out of the puzzle, essentially breaking all my memory puzzle pieces back down to their component parts. Then it left the events as they occurred without giving any emotional context. Therefore, I still had my puzzle, but now it had holes in it where the emotional elements used to be. I still have my emotions. I can still feel. But I have no emotional connection to anything I did or anything that was done to me. I can think clearly about my life and the things happening in it. My mind is no longer clouded by the chaotic broken miasma caused by my PTSD. Therefore, without feeling infatuation or obsession for the people that manipulated me, I can look at them and examine their words without bias. That is how I can ‘see’ their lies and how they used me.” Keenava sat quietly for a beat, taking a breath and reveling in the feeling of satiety. When she came back to herself, she took care to drape the impromptu clothes over her nearly naked form. “I don’t know if I said it yet but thank you. You didn’t have to help me. I know you’re a Jedi and there are certain expectations you need to follow. But you didn’t have to save me from getting bashed by … Ruin, was it?” Keenava smiled then looked over at the pair of droids sitting nearby. “Thank you for not crushing me, Ruin. I appreciate it.” With some makeshift clothes and a full belly, Keenava sat cross-legged atop her stool. “Now that you know my name, what’s yours? Oh, and if we need help getting off planet and you have a comm link, I know a smuggler that owes me a favor.”
  20. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    Keenava cocked her head to the side, a playful smile tickling her face. "What, Jedi aren't trained to survive in the wild?" Keenava chuckled lightly, her tone light-hearted, and warm. She hopped off the table that Leena found for her and began to stretch her hands out, letting her fingers reach their full extension and then further still. She stood on the tips of her toes and held her arms on top of one another to stretch the joints in her upper back and shoulders until they hit that satisfying pop. Then, for the first time since she woke up, she started taking stock of her environment. All the while, as she walked around the room, she started answering Leena and Ruin’s questions. “Sith with the slavers? I'm not so sure about that,” Keenava intimated, shuffling a large pile of debris to the side. "And I'm kind of glad, because if one of them found me on this dust ball, it's anyone's guess what they'd do to me.” And regretfully Keenava had a very active imagination. “Nah, the slavers were your usual Hutt scum, surviving on the fringe of society and selling flesh for money. That said, their boss' boss' boss could potentially be a Sith - In fact, I used to know a Hutt Sith - but I saw no evidence of a single force user during my time there. And, likely, the reason they had my DNA is because a scumbag I killed years ago sold it to them." The mere thought of him made Keenava's lekku spasm reflexively. She didn’t even notice her body pause for a beat mid-search before she continued shuffling things around. But how would Keenava continue? The word ‘kill’ seemed to hang a bit longer than she wanted. Her demeanor suggested that she was detached from the act, as if it had been committed by a completely different person. So, to her, it was just another thing. But considering her present company, she could feel that a little elaboration was needed; somehow she felt that this Jedi was judging her with those big yellow fisheyes of hers. Keenava couldn’t tell what the big guy was thinking, but she was pretty sure it was something along the lines of: ‘Bashings and crashings. All Sith die.’ After all, silence was oftentimes more damning than confession. If she didn’t say anything, her silence would. "My Dad..." Keenava started, pausing for only a moment before discarding more detritus, "... was a real piece of druk. He sold me, my sister, and my mother into slavery to pay off his gambling debts. And then, seeing no end to his vice, he joined the loan sharks that were hounding him. Pretty soon he made a name for himself and ended up being instrumental in their operations. Because of him, I had to watch my mother die while I was chained to a wall. Because of him, my sister and I never got to live a normal life. That may not excuse murder, and I apologize to you if it hits you the wrong way, but I can’t feel remorse for him. Even now, though I can’t summon the will it would take to face him again, I am not ashamed of what I did to him.” Keenava’s tone was soft and her expression unreadable. In the past, just mentioning him would’ve incited a fit of tears or explosive anger, but the flame was exhausted; spent. And any tears that were shed had already been shed. She felt none of it. Before now she hadn’t told anyone about her father - not even Furion. Exodus only knew about him because he pried it from her mind. And yet, here she was unloading her life and troubles to someone she just met, spelling it out like it was bullet points on a to-do list; like she was going to go shopping later and needed to remember what to pick up. “My life has never been a big topic of discussion. The Sith were only interested in what they could get from me. They masqueraded their lies by covering them with inspiring stories of strength and independence, failing to illuminate that following the dark side was just trading shackles; you spend your life trying to climb higher until you realize you’ve climbed as high as you can, and you still want more.” Keenava continued picking around the room, checking a few of the cabinets on the far side of the building. “Aha! I found something! ACK!” The Twi’lek squeaked, tumbling to the ground in the corner of the building as the cabinet she’d been rifling through collapsed. “I guess the construction isn’t what it used to be.” Dust and sand billowed about the room and somehow managed to get into her mouth… again. She showed off her loot with a soft triumphant smile, holding a very dusty - deactivated - vibro knife in her hand, spinning it from finger to finger with practiced accuracy. “Now all we need is… Ooh!” Keenava’s eyes lit up as she spotted an empty stove on the other side of the room. She grabbed the broken pieces of the aged cabinet, broke them into even smaller pieces and shoved them into the bottom of the apparatus. She set the knife down for a second and went back to one of her earlier piles, fishing around to find a discarded blaster pistol that hadn’t seen use in a while. She aimed it at the stove, hoping for at least one more blast, but the power pack had burned out a while ago. “Crud. That would’ve been nice” Keenava commented, tossing the old blaster aside and resuming her search. ______________________________________________ After a few minutes, Keenava scraped together a fire and even managed to clean the knife with a bit of heat and drinking water. She skinned both Anoobas as cleanly as she could, but it was evident that - while knowledgeable - she wasn’t very skilled at this kind of food prep. “Interesting... Anoobas. They would not have been my first pick,” Keenava grumbled a little with exertion as she made quick work of the pair. “But thankfully, unlike most predators, Anooba's are usually taught to gorge themselves at a young age, and you managed to catch these two right after a heavy meal. The shrapnel doesn't help but I think I can pick through that.” With only a little more effort, Keenava had slightly uneven but decent cuts of meat cooking over the fire. “Referring to your earlier question, the slaver outpost is a few clicks west of here. If you really wanted to stop them you’ll find no issue with me. As for my ‘memory’ I don’t know how much I will actually be able to know about what happened. I wasn’t alive when this ‘purification’ happened so I don’t know who to thank or why. And I’m pretty sure I don’t remember coming back to life on this planet because I was heavily drugged. I think I’m better off not remembering that particular moment.” While she waited for the meat to cook, Keenava perched herself on the nearest stool, oblivious to her continued lack of clothes and turned to face her new… friends? “You’re a curious lot; a Jedi traveling with a killer droid? It’s not something you usually see. If you don’t mind me asking, what are you two doing out in this dust bowl? There have got to be better places to be. I mean Coruscant has to be better than this. Noisy, but at least it's clean.” She sat next to the oven, listening to the crackle of the meat and keeping an eye on everything. But her eyes were filled with genuine curiosity and her body language was open, suggesting nothing else. Even the knife, which she’d used to skin the Anoobas, was left by the stove and no longer in her hand.
  21. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    The serpent kana? ... found the mouse: scared, broken, and alone. She coveted the mouse, encouraging growth as long as it was in her service. In exchange, the serpent vanished, abandoning the mouse to her fate like so many would continue to do... The wolf kara? found the cat snared and mewling to the void. He sought not to comfort, but to strengthen. He spun pretty words of strength and freedom. In exchange, the cat was left with servitude, pain, and a deep ebbing loss... The spider kava? found the caterpillar lost in his web. Instead of eating the defenseless creature, he tried to use her; to manipulate her instead of encourage her to fly. In exchange, the caterpillar never reached her chrysalis. She never turned into a beautiful butterfly... But before them all - before the serpent, the wolf, and the spider - there was warmth. With all of the corrosion swept from her mind, Keenava could see and feel the memories that lay beneath with open eyes. Veridi'ana Dira, and Seela Dira stared back at her, matching purple eyes filled with nothing but love and warmth. Of course, their last names weren't really Dira anymore, but Keenava refused to acknowledge her late father. He was the one that cursed their family, and he paid for his crimes. It was the one murder that Keenava never regretted. Even now, knowing that she had another chance at a clean life, she couldn't confidently say that that wasn't the right choice. ki ki... A small stab lingered at the base of her heart remembering what happened to her mother; those soft green-blue hands cradling her small form, rocking her back and forth. She could never hold them again. But the light of her love did not fade. That voice; the voice that woke her barely a day ago in darkness. It felt like her mother. It felt like she was still here, giving Keenava a guiding hand; a guiding light through the miasma of her past. Seela still lived, as far as she knew. She was living at the house on Talus, probably enjoying the lavish amenities. It was very secure due to the last break-in, but it wasn't exactly the happiest place to live. Many dark echoes lingered there. Keenava's mind was flittering about in no certain order as Leena tended to her. As wounds were mended and her form recovered some measure of vitality, she began to exude a slight aura. The area around the Twi'lekk dropped a few degrees. But instead of biting like the chill of Hoth's blizzards, it resembled the cold bracing air of the morning as the sun was just about to rise; the grass was littered with fresh dew and animals began to sing the first of the day. When Keenava's eyes began to flutter she choked, fighting a few grains of sand that stubbornly clung to where they didn't belong, bracing herself on whatever surface she'd been laid upon. She took a few moments to sit up and winced expecting there to be a jolt of pain. But nothing was there. "Huh. You do good work doc." Keenava said, her head still a little woozy. "I suppose you want to know what I was doing out here on this ball of sand," Keenava continued, vying to get right to the point just in case she passed out again. "I honestly couldn't tell you much. The last thing I remember was I was fighting someone on Korriban - a nasty piece of work that did nasty work - then I died. I woke up not too long ago - very clearly drugged - and in the arms of the local slavers." Keenava took a moment to breathe and settle, remembering the sting of the whip against her, now surprisingly unwounded, back. She does really good work. Damn "I managed to threaten my captors into letting me loose and then used a prison break to cover my escape. I didn't have the means to ensure everyone's safety, but I am glad that most of them made it out. Then I just ran and ran and ran. That's when I found you two." Keenava finished. Her posture was upright and her tone suggested no hint of sarcasm or derision. Not only had this Jedi saved her from the presumably homicidal robot, but she made the pain go away in more ways than one. "I suppose what's left is what to do now. I don't suppose either of you has any food?" Keenava asked, her stomach agreeing in turn with a growl that sounded like a mad rancor.
  22. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    What would somebody normally feel in this situation? Fear? Anger? Rage? Keenava's mind wandered as the rampaging murder droid was halted by his friend the Master Jedi Healer. The Twi'lekk stood, arms out, waiting for something she wasn't sure of. What did she want? Absolution? Vindication? Freedom? Another chance? death? food? Yes, food... But that was hardly the first thing on her mind. If death is what she wanted, all she needed to do was jump at the Sith-killing synth and go, 'BOO!' But that didn't seem right. She wasn't given another chance at life just to waste it on something dumb like that. That's not entirely true; she'd been given a second chance at life before, and squandered it living the life that used to be hers. But this wasn't just a second chance. This time it felt odd. Even if she was fixed, Keenava still somehow felt broken; as if, in fixing her, they did something that they shouldn't have. Why me? The yellow blade hummed in the lingering silence, accenting the rustle of sand in the wind, poised to stop the droid from bringing vengeance. But why? Why did she protect me? What did she have to gain? Not everything is about what you have to gain, my little kee kee... kee kee? Keenava tried to reach out to the force in order to see something of her fishy protector, but there was a block. Pain, rage, trauma, hate, and whatever other emotional garbage she relied on to draw the force out, were all gone; the embers of her passion were worn tinder on a burnt out pyre. All that was left was emptiness; numbness, regret, shame, humility, and resignation. They were her new bedfellows. They did very little except remind her how stupid she was, and that every escape to try and recreate how she used to be was fruitless, stupid, and ignorant. That Keenava was gone. That Keenava was broken. This was something new and she had to accept it. But that realization didn't help her draw from the force. Instead, the obsidian Twi'lekk felt her head pound. She felt her thoughts try to coalesce into something. But just as her thoughts broke into some noticeable pattern, they drifted away. Her head began to float in an uncomfortable - slightly spinny - way. Before she could get her knees underneath her, she buckled and fell to the sand. The blood seeping from the nigh infected lacerations on her back, was still slowly dripping; the biting sand refusing to let them close or scar. As the Twi'lekk tumbled, her body began to tremble. She blinked a bit as her lekku lightly spasmed. She slowly faded from consciousness there on the dune, mumbling soft words under her breath. Images floated to the surface of Keenava's mind; mysterious images from memories that weren't entirely hers... The feel of her lekku as they wrapped gently around a little finger... Those kind deep purple eyes... That warm smile that claimed the lower half of her soft features... That deep beautiful alto sound as she cooed... cooed... My little kee kee...
  23. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    Watching the mass of rolling hateful ash pop from existence, was odd. On the one hand, her history as Furion's estranged right hand and Exodus' prodigal apprentice would beg retribution for the waylaid Sith spirit that sought power and freedom. But Keenava's newfound clarity brought a cold cynicism to the burning embers of passion that used to sear away any cogent thought. And any step she made back to that desperate and broken past was foolish and idiotic. But in her current mindset, knowing that she was given a new path to walk - a new destiny, as it were - she could only feel detached. A part of her was relieved, but she had no context for this. And still another part of her - a darker part - was wondering why she didn't just wander off into the desert; if persisting was really the best choice. “Greeting and meeting? Identify!” The words were abrupt and briefly disturbed her reverie. Keenava allowed herself too look up from the ground she didn't realize she'd been staring at, to view the scene that the cloud revealed when it flew away. And she was slightly surprised. There, in the center of it all, was a Jedi that had knelt to the ground; a circle of glass orbiting her fish-like form. And there was an imposing droid-like figure - the likely source of the blunt request - standing not three feet away; an old droid from the looks of it. She couldn't really tell make or model because she hadn't had a lot of experience with droids, but Keenava had seen some modern combat droids and this was not that. Its seemingly dim black photoreceptors were trained on her, and the hammer it clenched in its fists was still shedding metal pieces from what it'd just done. It had powered the hammer down but, though it was metal, Keenava could feel the implied threat of action if Keenava said anything that this droid didn't want to hear. She could only hope she knew what that was. No pressure right? "That's kind of a loaded question, if I'm honest." Keenava rasped, not realizing how much the sand in the air had ravaged her vocal chords. She coughed a little before continuing. "I am Keenava Ootunavi; former slave; former dancer Lallunia Kallemi; and former Sith Assassin that served directly under both Dark Lord Exodus and Darth Furion." She said her last words with absolutely no emotion. Defeated. Here was a Jedi that could likely tell if she was lying. Here was a droid that just 'erased' a force of evil from the dusty ball of rock they all stood on. And here she was: no crazy mask to hide behind, no clothes, no weapons, barely containing severe wounds on her back, and contending with sand in all sorts of uncomfortable places. She stood with her hands up, showing no sign of resistance. "That's what I was at least. As to who I am now... That's a much deeper question that I'm not sure I really know anymore."
  24. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    Chuf chuf chuf chuf… Sand kicked back into the air as Keenava sprinted toward the far off town, ignoring the screams of her body. Sand bit at the soles of her feet and the harsh dry winds tried to keep her at a crawl. But, if there was one good thing she’d gotten from her Sith training, it was how to ignore pain. Hunger was her first priority and water was an immediate second considering her canteen was getting low. A small itch bloomed to life at supratip break of her nose. A static buzzed at the base of her skull. Keenava tried to brush it off and ignore her body's signals like everything else, but they wouldn’t go away. Too her surprise, the sensations she was trying to ignore culminated in a big formless cloud of evil - for lack of any other descriptor. The glowing orange-red eyes were kind of a giveaway for evil intent. Keenava knew these things from being an evil person in a past life. This isn’t a time for joking! You kidding? A sense of humor is invaluable in tense situations and smarminess is part of my charm! Every instinct in her body fought to stop her momentum, potentially preventing her from careening into the murderous death cloud. But instead, her rapid decline in momentum caused her to - rather comically - faceplant into the nearest dune. It was the first time Keenava had been thankful that this planet was covered in sand, followed by growing discomfort as previously untouched crevices were now completely buried in delightfully chafing little crystals. The cushion of raw earth helped her avoid major injury, but the impact rattled her body, slashed her skin, and left her shuffling her rags and coughing up sand for a few moments. Well that was… something. Keenava wearily wrenched herself to her feet, sand still falling from… places. She looked upon the mysterious gas with perplexion; it had grown since she saw it last, and she could feel the presence inside it. The presence resonated with a powerful energy, and though she knew something of it, she wasn’t in a good way to fight whatever it was. Though, the temptation to blow the giant billowing fatal flatulent was clinging to the edge of her mind. Like… maybe if I blew really hard? Shush! Okay, Okay!
  25. Keenava Dira

    Tatooine

    Keenava’s muscles were on the edge of riot. She could feel her skin begin to flake and peel despite its dark obsidian color. And, though the rags she wore were soaked – with what she hoped was sweat – they did nothing to mask the burning heat that clamored for what was left of her vitality. But that was nothing compared to the sand. She’d been lucky when she scored a canteen during her escape. It was an advantage. However, every gulp of water was greeted with a mouthful of sand. It permeated every crevice it could find. The creases between her bare toes and fingers were caked with the little obnoxious rock crumbs, scraping against her dry skin, threatening to tear and slash with every movement. *Grumble* “Ah, yeah. There’s that too,” Keenava quietly intoned as her stomach rumbled like a vicious predator. There was nothing but sand as far as the eye could see. The slaves that made it out with her had scattered in different directions. Some of them tried to wrestle the canteen from her to save themselves. But when she proved too difficult to gamble what little strength they had, they ran. Is this it? Am I going to die on this rock? A little morbid don’t you think? Ah, if it isn’t the new voice in my head. Do you care to talk now? Do we have time? Keenava feigned looking back and forth, reminding herself that there was nothing but sand for kilometers in either direction. I think we have nothing BUT time now. Well, I guess time isn’t really the problem then. The problem is that I don’t really know how to explain it. That’s helpful. I know, right? You see… I’m you. No shit. The other voices were me too. Well… yes and no. The other voices were defense mechanisms that you conjured to help mend your broken psyche. They took on the personalities and characteristics of defining figures in your life. But instead of fixing your mind, those voices only added to the corruption and continued to tear the fabric of your mind apart. Because many of your role models have been sadistic people bent on extreme shows of violence and destruction. Wow. That explains a lot! But, if you’re me, and I had no idea what those voices were, does that make you the smart me? Or my conscience? Keenava shuddered. There were many things in her past that she regretted. If she had a conscience back then, she might have avoided a lot of pain. But it was no use fixating on that now. Some pain was unavoidable. No, I’m you. And you do know what those voices are, but your trauma blocked your ability to understand, and handle those voices that clamored for supremacy in your brain. Well then, what makes you different? And why do you sound like you own a galactic dictionary? Because you have an extensive understanding of the Common tongue. You just don’t use it. Fair As to what makes me different - I suppose the best way to say it is - I’m you if you never became a slave. Keenava paused as her stomach and heart sank to her feet. A Keenava, who wasn’t a slave, was a Keenava who had a chance at a regular life. A Keenava, who wasn’t a slave, would have never met Jzora, Furion, and Exodus; they would have felt neither the bite, nor the sting of pain, misery, and regret that came from years of physical, mental, and emotional abuse. That explained why this voice felt so soothing; it didn’t come from anguish. This voice came from a place that Keenava never thought she’d ever see again. But how? I still… I still have my memories! Keenava casually lifted a ball of sand with her mind, though the exertion pounded against her head like a drum. I still have access to the force. How are you me if I never became a slave? That is what I can’t really explain. As far as I can tell, your corruption was erased by… something. What it was, where it was, when it was, and why? Are still questions that have no answers. But what I do know is that you aren’t the same you anymore. You don’t even have the same eye color. Keenava’s brow furrowed at that. As long back as she could remember, she’d had ruby eyes. What color were they now? Well… what now? I suppose that depends on you. Do you continue down your previous path, and chase after freedom you’ll never have, or do you use this as an opportunity to take a second chance? Keenava had a lump in her throat she couldn’t swallow. Who would clean her stained hands? Why would someone care enough to wash years of blood away from her callused fingers? And what difference could she make with the understanding that she could do all of it again? I suppose this is what freedom is. How do you figure? Keenava looked out to the horizon. She could see the fiery halo of the twin suns, painting the sky red as they tore through air; she could see oceans of sand sprawling around her, promising nothing but emptiness and despair; and she could see – though small and standing like tan-colored beads against the darkening sky – the outline of a city as it came into view. Without another thought, word, or hesitation, Keenava pushed her aching muscles into a run, away from the deep blood of the evening sky.
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