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Jedi T'ali'au

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  1. The aggregate of all of the chaos came in the form of a surging tidal force, sweeping everyone into further depths. T’ali’au surrendered herself to Loloto’s will, diverting the blunt trauma of impacts through rolling and launching off of surfaces when possible. When at last she found herself at the terminus of the descent, she vanished beneath the waist high waters to better ascertain the situation. The ancient poison’s presence was felt more keenly in this void, but it felt alien compared to the men from the surface. These beasts were like any other agents of the poison, and prone to infighting. It wasn’t long before tentacles of whatever lurked beneath were picking off soldiers. The priestess readied her spear and began an elegant but conservative dance of strikes and interwoven movements. She muted her presence in the chaos, not concealing it entirely but also not advertising her presence.
  2. In a sequence of moments, it seemed like everything was coming undone. Agents of that ever present poison that the Jedi called the Sith were in through the tunnels, accompanied by a nightmarish entity of pain whose presence felt like shards of glass racing across exposed flesh. It was easy to feel small and powerless when confronted with such relentless oppression, but even in this sickened place T’ali’au was surrounded and filled with the presence of Loloto. The priestess had noticed in her time abroad that people who were separated from nature equated its harmony with peace. Harmony meant that everything had a place in the waters of creation that benefitted everything else in some way, even if it wasn’t immediately apparent. Nature was fully prepared to rise against anything that threatened the natural order, in ways that certainly weren’t peaceful. T’ali’au observed the thousands of currents that were interwoven to create the ecology around her, and gently nudged certain ones. Loloto cursed those that tried to seize the power of creation away from her, but allowed for a select few to sway the natural path of things as long as they continued to embrace her design. It was not against nature for the local predators to hunt prey and defend their territory. The natural caves and heavy flooding of the area created a perfect point of access as the ocean demonstrated in blunt physicality the difference between harmony and peace. The caves erupted into chaos as sleek and powerful predators surged in from the depths. Keelkana slithered and swam through the tunnels in a territorial blood frenzy, while krakana breached from the larger areas intent on devouring large swathes of Sith troops. The enemy meant to walk against the current, and now the tides were rising and meeting them head on. T’ali’au readied her spear and let her presence fade into the world around her. Soon she would move through the slaughter to aid her unknown allies, making use of the discord to mitigate the numbers and discipline of the enemy. The day could still be won.
  3. Life had changed a great deal for T’ali’au over the last year, and yet the core of what she was doing was what she had always done. Protecting people, bringing joy and harmony, giving thanks to the life giving oceans. She was in a different ocean now, on a different world, but she still felt Loloto all around her. She had come to Dac as an ambassador for her people on Scarif, in the hope that Mon Calamari engineers could stop the poisoning of her world, or maybe even reverse some of the damage. But now Dac was being poisoned, and if T’ali’au could do anything to stop it, she would. Loloto was guiding her now, towards a darkness that might be the source of the infection. The inky depths of the waters beckoned coldmind, but she could not afford to be sluggish and tired right now, so she reached out to the ocean mother for warmth. Phantasmal currents of heat moved through her and reinvigorated her muscles and mind. The poison here was like a fungus, lurking deep in caves and spreading its evil like spores carried on beasts and currents alike. It was too hungry, too vast for subtlety, and therefore probably something ancient and forgotten, rather than a nascent new threat. It spoke through the void in words that held no meaning to her, and Loloto’s embrace became as much a cloak against its malfeasance as the cold depths. As T’ali’au descended she realized that its call betrayed it. While the rules were different, just as sound interacted with surfaces, the mental chant’s distortions revealed a natural cave entrance to the source of the poison. It was a welcome alternative to the sewage entrance that the natives had recommended, and T’ali’au was glad to have avoided the toxins (not to mention the stench) that such a route promised. Coursing through the caves with well honed agility, T’ali’au began to sense the presence of others in the dark. At least some of them wore light around their spirits the same way that T’ali’au carried Loloto in her heart, and she wondered if they were Jedi, alien holy warriors that sought out and confronted evil. If so, they would be invaluable aid in helping to stop the poison. Perhaps the tides of Loloto had brought them all together in this moment. She reached out to them gently, the metaphysical equivalent of playfully splashing someone with water to get their attention.
  4. “Mmmm, we can take the fish home after we harvest the areca nuts.” T’ali’au hugged the bundle of warmth a bit tighter before her eyes fluttered opened and she suddenly realized that whatever dream priority she had no longer mattered. Her scales turned pinkish in embarrassment as she apologized. “Sorry, weird dream, I’m awake now. Most people think that the Blight comes from the corpses of the metal beasts that fell from the sky, but the elders of my elders say that it was a corrupting energy that came from an evil moon. Something Other to the sacred light you used to unbind the Blighthive. Loloto’s energy is meant to sustain all things, but the Blight stills and binds it, so that only it may use it. Even the Ysbridion Stormcallers and their angry sky gods war against the blight and call it unnatural, and they believe that all is permitted. But to answer more directly, yes there are more.” The priestess saw light coming into the chamber and could feel the world breathing in, it was time to be moving again. She did not want to end the warm embrace, it was like holding the sun in her arms, but she needed to get up at some point, and she needed to check on the Toa Paia’s wounds. Reluctantly, she untangled herself to start the day. “I need to check how your body is recovering, but in the meantime you can tell me the story of how Sandy’Sarna became a Jedi.”
  5. T’ali’au surveyed the situation and the girl with a great deal of apprehension, but as easy as it was to see only a frail young woman that needed protecting, T’ali’au remembered that she was a warrior, and a champion of the light. It wasn’t easy, but the priestess let the Toa Paia pass unhindered. She couldn’t explain the bond she had with the newcomer, but she felt like it carried the weight of a greater meaning. Her stomach knotted up and did back flips as she watched helplessly. In some ways in brought to mind a similar time in her past, but that memory was more… complicated. There was a desired victor to this fight. The girl seemed so tiny compared to the encroaching darkness, and T’ali’au’s heart dropped and shattered when she saw the darkness encroach upon her and then through her. Nausea tore through T’ali’au’s stomach and tears blurred her vision as she watched the darkness consume her new friend. ********************* “You shouldn’t tell her such stories, people don’t just find happiness through hoping for it. She needs to know that success often means working hard, and sometimes even the righteous fail. I don’t want my daughter getting herself killed because she doesn’t believe she can fail.” “And I don’t want her running away from the righteous path just because the destination is obscured. Besides, it’s just a story that she likes.” “Stories have power, take some damn responsibility for how you raise our child.” “This isn’t my people’s way…” “It’s my way, and I warned you of that from the start. If you can’t handle the responsibility I’ll just take her with me next time I leave.” ********************* Fire and a light that was felt within rather than seen emanated from the girl like a glorious new dawn, and consumed the blighthive whole with its purity. Tears of loss gave way to tears of joy and relief as T’ali’au watched the girl overcome the monster with her own inner light. As the sickness was burned away, the priestess saw her friend once again, wounded but with a look of exultant satisfaction on her face. Now that the evil was gone, T’ali’au rushed to the girl, who was heavily wounded, and gathered her up in her arms to take back ashore to recover. She was so warm, like a sunkissed rock, and T’ali’au didn’t want to let her go when she got her back to village infirmary, but the Jedi’s wounds needed treating. The priestess began the grueling process of treating each laceration for infection, embedded stingers, and toxins, a constant concern with any wound from a blightborn creature. The work was slow and meticulous, and eventually she gave the girl an opiate to help with the pain as the surgery began to drag on past sundown. T’ali’au had reached full coldmind by the time she had finished the entire affair, and the communal sleeping rock felt like a million miles away. Both timid and hopeful that this was okay, she curled up next to the girl to absorb her warmth and express how grateful she was for what the Jedi had done today. The girl was probably passed out by now, but just in case T’ali’au whispered in her ear. “You were magnificent today. Now rest up and if you find yourself in dark dreams, call for me, and I will be right there with you.” T’ali’au suddenly had the realization that she had never told the girl her name, and in fact did not know the Jedi’s name either. “My name is T’ali’au,” she whispered softly.
  6. T’ali’au put aside her spear and readied her kopere, scanning the waves for dark shapes. It took some time, but at last she spotted the outline of the creature. It was a Blighthive feeder organism, essentially like a three foot salt water salamander with the head of a lamprey and a skin that excreted paralyzing neurotoxin. The priestess selected a frozen shaft from her kopere’s quiver, and placed it into the kopere’s energy field. Making a drawing action with her right hand, the shaft slightly receded in midair and began to spin with frantic intensity. With a release gesture, the shaft tore forward with a howling whistle that cavitated the water upon impact. The feeder spun violently from the first impact as the shaft caught a hind leg. T’ali’au did not release a second shaft immediately, instead waiting for the chaos in the water to find some resolution and the merciful killing shot to present itself. For the first time since Sandy had arrived, T’ali’au “spoke” in Lanu, the visual language of pulsing and rapidly changing skin tones. The sun was hitting the rocks well and carried her message of sinister reds and firm cobalt blues quickly to others in the village. Others came with cloth for handling the feeder and a sandspun urn for holding it until Ta’avale could come to claim. “That was a feeder beast for a larger threat, a tumor of twisted flesh that floats from island to island consuming life and corrupting nature. Ta’avale use the neurotoxins from these creatures for their weapons, restoring power stolen from Loloto to the cycle. It’s like when a villager gets a Pe’a, the pain of the process representing the hardship of the experience, and the art representing how the person grew.”
  7. T’ali’au led the girl to a jagged line of smooth black rocks that extended past the beach into the ocean. She dipped the Kopere’s quiver into the water and it drank deeply before separating the salt from the water and freezing the water into bolts. They probably wouldn’t need the Kopere, but just in case something large and hungry approached the rocks, T’ali’au wanted to be ready. Pulling some bait out of her satchel, the priestess casually tossed it into the water before readying her spear and taking a relaxed preparation stance. “The anchor exercise teaches one how to root themself in the now, rather than what has happened or what might be. The root of it lies in focusing on the subconscious routines of the body, such as the beating of the heart or breathing. Think only of the act and the sensation, clearing away any thoughts not pertaining to these things. Surrender your mind to the natural order rather than rebelling against it, so that you may receive its blessings.” Fish began to gather around the bait, nipping at it frantically before finally biting off larger chunks. T’ali’au lined up the throw, her breathing relaxed and natural. “It’s instinctual to hold your breath when you need fine control of your body, but the absence of air only causes your mind to panic and rush the action. Embrace the motion of the world, make a careful accounting of it, and follow through on the action. Replace instinct with wisdom.” In a smooth motion T’ali’au released the spear into the water and it struck true on a fish. She pulled the line, returning both the spear and the first catch of the day.
  8. T’ali’au took a moment to consider her answer before responding. “It’s like feeling the world breathing. In the morning the world inhales, and we take in the heat from the sun and the rocks and we feel the rush and the glow of life. Everything is vivid, and it is a time for doing and feeling and dancing. As the sun sets and the world exhales, activeness is replaced with thoughtfulness, motion gives way to stillness, and the throbbing tension of life dims enough that one may reflect on the choices of the day, and on the choices yet to come. Each state nourishes the other and I don’t think that without the one that I would fully appreciate the other. I can’t share the physical feeling of it with you, but we do have thought exercises to help the young accept the cold mind when they are too young to know the value of it. I could teach you those while you tell me of your Jedi teachings. As long as you can multitask anyway, I want to go fishing and gathering so that we can have some options for food. Besides, the world is inhaling and it’s time for doing.” T’ali’au grabbed her fishing spear and her kopere as she waited for a response from the girl.
  9. “Loloto does not give anything regardless of one’s reverence, she simply is. No prayer or offering is required for her to be present, because she is in all things, in the places between all things, and in the current that moves us all forward in our lives. Faith in Loloto isn’t about miracles, it’s about understanding the truth of the world, and surrendering to your place in it so that you can be happy with yourself, rather than suffering over what you are not. Loloto gives and takes, and joy and loss comes to us all, but in learning to accept the flow of our lives, we find ourselves renewed by not fighting against the truth of the world for what we think we want. Eating breakfast makes you happy, but it is not the only path to happiness. Loloto is understanding that even if you miss breakfast one morning, you can still be happy, and that dwelling on not having had breakfast will only bring you unnecessary grief. Some people get so attached to what they think they need for happiness that they destroy everything around them to try and preserve that one fleeting source of temporary happiness. That being said, knowing your place in the world is less magic and more wisdom. So unless being happy is a magical power, I think I’m just a normal girl who helps people find their own measure of happiness through understanding of the world, one breath at a time. Speaking of helping people, I need to check your patterns again, just to make sure you’re recovering okay.” T’ali’au checked the girl’s heartbeat and temperature, her hand lingering a moment too long on the girl’s forehead as a question formed in her mind. “What’s it like always being so warm like that?”
  10. “If your Jedi ways can protect you from the toxins I will be happy to take you, but I think you should wait for your arm to finish growing before you try to swim through a massive maze of wreckage in a toxic sea. You’ll have our hospitality, and the process should only take a few days. If this force thing sent us a Jedi to save our planet I don’t want to throw her away recklessly by rushing in prematurely.” T’ali’au regarded the weapon curiously and noted some sort of emitter on one end. She wondered idly if it was like the blasters her ancestors had brought with them.” “So this force is like Loloto? She’s who I’m a priestess of, and she binds and influences all things.”
  11. "There's a wreck from an ancient war that has deteriorated in such a way as to leak toxins into Loloto. It's contained to one area now, but if the toxins reach any of the major currents then they could spread catastrophically throughout Loloto. Despite our past connections to a greater understanding of technology, we are a simple people now, and lack the means to stop this doom on our own. The old archives mentioned an order of guardian mystics called the Jedi, and we reached out to them on the recorded frequencies, but received no answer. Until recently we thought that maybe the order had died out, but some offworlders here recognized the metal cylinder you wear as a mark of being a Jedi." T'ali'au chewed thoughtfully on fish from her own bowl as she regarded the girl. She didn't look like what one would think of as some sort of occult scholar, but on the other hand the stories of her people were full of trickster spirits who used expectation to misdirect people, and maybe the Jedi were no different. Those same spirits were often very wise, even if the heroes in the stories couldn't see it at the time. "Is that cylinder the force that you think brought you here?"
  12. "I'm responsible for the spiritual and physical well being of my entire tribe, of course I have another bottle. But I also know you need to pace yourself, so eat this first or you'll be useless in the morning." T'ali'au handed the girl a bowl with a traditional breakfast for her people, a scrambled mixture of eggs, creamed sweet areca nut milk, salted fish, and some cooked vegetables. "The more you eat, the faster that sliver of coral will work. It's called blood gorgon coral, and it's acting like your body's own cells to repair the damage and essentially regrow the arm. Is there a battle going on up above or something? You're the second Jedi to crash here in recent times. I didn't meet the other one, an older man, surly I'm told, but there was a festival and I was very irresponsible. Or maybe you are here about the reactor, the crabby Jedi apparently said he would pass along word of our situation."
  13. The girl, apparently in a state of shock, made a joke about payment, apparently being out of it enough to not realize that the worst was yet to come. She even changed color, which was something that T’ali’au didn’t know humans could do, but she didn’t know enough about their culture to understand the subtext of red skin in human interaction. “Right now I’m going to with you can pay me back by biting down on this…” The priestess handed the girl a leather strap that was kept handy for the really bad wounds. “Because this is kind of good news bad news situation. The ship you crashed on appeared to have some safety devices that kept you from dying from blood loss. Hurray for you. But attaching a replacement in a healthy and effective way will require me to reopen the wound. Boo sad face. Now, I do have a monomolecular edged knife, so it will be a quick cut, and then you’re going to show me how fast you can down this jug of Ava Malosi to forget all about it.” T’ali’au measured the arm stump at the best cutting point and prepared a wrap and a thick circle of blood gorgon coral. “Now bite down on the leather because this is really going to hurt.” And it really did.
  14. A powerful shockwave of raw concussive force tore through the islands, bending or even uprooting some areca nut trees. The crashing shuttle’s path along the beach became a lengthy patch of molten glass terminating at the water’s edge. The hissing of steam rose up from the superheated exterior where it touched the warm shorewater. T’ali’au was not one of the ones to go into the Offworlder’s ship, the tribe could not risk it exploding with her inside, but when she saw others pulling a slip of a girl out of the conflagration she knew that her wisdom would be needed. She ran back to the village and cut through the food preparation structure to a room that served the tribe as an infirmary. T’ali’au sharpened her operating knives and ran them through superheated streams of water and alcohol to purify them for the coming work. Needle and thread was procured, along with healing salves and inflammation reducing ointments. The priestess also took stock of some living specimens in a nearby basin filled with seawater and hewn from natural rock. When the human was placed on her table T’ali’au was able to get a better look at her injuries, multiple lacerations, contusions, and a dismembered limb… Oh what fortunate winds, T’ali’au thought sarcastically. She set to work on putting the girl back together.
  15. A warm breeze lazily meandered across Alofilima Pama, gently rustling the fronds of the areca trees, fighting off the beginning of a chill in the air as the sun disappeared below the horizon and dusk set in. It was a welcome relief, as the chill brought tempting thoughts of joining the others on the heating rocks, and there was still much to do. It had been days since the elders of the Three Peoples had sent the message, but the distances involved were so vast that for all she knew, it would take months or even years for a response. In the meantime there was work to do. An Ngaru war party of the Malie tribe would be landing shortly to trade and share of Loloto’s bounty, in a sacred feast signifying a renewal of the two tribes alliance. As a priestess of Loloto, it was T’ali’au’s responsibility to perform the initial preparation of the food in a blessing ceremony that would bring Loloto’s favor to all who partook of it. Which was a really optimistic way to say that she was gutting and cleaning fish with her ritual blade. Many here were ones that T’ali’au’s own spear had found, while many others came from the tribe’s gatherers, and a small pile had been given individually by the rest of the tribe as a symbolic gesture. The Malie would bring a kill from the deep sea, which would be harvested for useful parts while the meat was cooked with the rest of the fish. The Ngaru of the Malie were slayers of monsters, stalking the waves for dangerous creatures that had developed a taste for the People. Malosi even said that other Ngaru tribes would honor them for their kills rather than pursuing the usual skirmishes that were part of Ngaru life. The Ta’avale that T’ali’au had been born among were more traditional, but the young priestess saw a place for all in Loloto. As night continued to set in, T’ali’au finished her ritual preparation of the food and felt the onset of Coldmind. Yawning, she headed out to the massive heat rocks that her tribe had erected and found a pleasing spot to lie amidst the conducted warmth. Her scales, normally a brilliant cyan, were now navy blue and would turn black by the time sleep came for her. Her half open eyes scanned the horizon for the Malie ships, and she kept an ear open for Ola’ike’ole.
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