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The chamber doors began to creak as they slowly parted, a crepid old form draped in dark garments slowly pacing out of the inner catacombs, her face hidden by the cloak's hood. But there was no mistaking the montrols and lekku that it covered, nor the presence that emanated from it. Almost beastial, Kari's snarled at the form, her carnivorous cuspids exposed as she spoke. "Ventras"

 

"Greetings Dear Sister." She spoke as she lifted her face to greet her gaze. She chuckled, and poised Kari a question. "Why do you still despise me so after everything I've done for you?"

 

Kari's eyes lit with fire at Tori's words, as if capable of lighting her sister ablaze with hate filled intent. Spinning her tonfas within the palm of her hands, Kari gazed upon the decaying flesh that shown under the light from above, not nearly as rotted as Lynn's and Angela's, but just as sickening for Kari to see, and just as sickening as the hate she felt swelling in her heart for the former Sith Master. Tears still plagued her eyes, but her gaze remained void, fueled by the rising darkness within her heart as she stood there, a statue of her own making.

 

"You're unnatural, an abomination. You should have stayed dead after Lusef..." Kari's voice stopped mid sentence, realizing she still called him that despite it being a false name he chose to bare, something they both knew all too well "When Faust slew you."

 

"Death isn't permanent, sweet Kari." Tori spoke in return, taking the seat by the pond where Lynn and Angela had resided, a devilish grin crossing her face. "You of all people should know this. After all, your form now, your new life, is a product of my work. I made you dear sister, brought you back to life after it was ended so abruptly, gave you a second chance. That is the love of a sister, is it not?"

 

"You call what you did love?" Kari's voice spat back at her sister, spit spewing as her words escaped her hate filled mouth. "You stole the life of an innocent infant, and replaced its soul with my own, brought back from where it should have remained. And because of it, Angela suffered the same affliction that mother did, hating me for my existence and me not knowing why."

 

"Yes, yes. And then you killed her when she snapped and tried to take your life." Tori spoke, her words irritated and emphasized with the shooing motions of her hands. "I thought our dear baby sister stronger than that, but that was a miscalculated consequence of our mother's abuse." Tori stood up and made a cautious approach to Kari. "But that won't happen again. This time I can make it right. This time we can all begin anew. And we can use this body of yours to do it. All I'd have to do is erase the memories of Mother's attack and replace them with memories of love."

 

"No Tori. No." Kari pulled away, causing Tori to flinch back as well, Kari staring at her sister with almost horror now at such a suggestion. "How could you even think that? How could you think that I would even begin to consider letting you destroy more lives than the ones you already have? I have to live in this body until I die, a body not of my own, stolen from a soul that will never know the joys of life."

 

As Kari began to back away, a vague mist began to creep into the cavern and surround them, not limiting sight, but eerily creeping in around them from the catacombs below and empowered by the wound that resided before them. But Kari could not see this beyond the scope of her own disgust. All she could see was her sister and the foul creature she had become. To Kari, she was pitiful, pathetic, downright sickening. And her intent was to cause more of the same pain that she had inflicted upon Kari through this life and into then next not only to her, but to her sister and mother? Kari could no longer stand to see Tori like this. She had to be put to rest, here and now. Walking toward Tori now, she raised her blade out to her side, intent to strike Tori down when Tori screamed, causing Kari to stop.

 

"Kari, look out, behind you. Tori screamed in horror, her form bent down to one knee with a look of fear that even caused Kari to pause, the skin of her form catching a chill as she went to turn. "How is it even possible?" Kari questioned as she saw Faust behind her as she turned, those unmistakable blue eyes glaring back at her. "Quick. My mask. It will protect you. I can't have him kill you."

 

Looking upon her former Master's gaze sent chills up Kari's spine, his sheepish grin glaring back at her with intent. She knew he was still alive. That was her reason for leaving Tython. But meeting him hear of all places? Perhaps he knew more of Tori's intent than she thought and came to end it once and for all. Kari looked down at the mask in her satchel, briefly contemplating letting him. But as she deactivated one of her tonfas and reached in to grab it, she knew she had no choice. Tori may be misguided, but she knew Faust as pure evil with malicious intent. If she didn't kill him here and now, there was no telling what he would do with the knowledge Tori held. Placing the Blade upon her face, Kari reactivated her blade and readied herself. Faust would die here and now, by her hand, and Tori would find the rest she needed for eternity. 

 

"Your mine finally Faust." Kari yelled, charging in with the feriosity of a wild beast, leaping into the air with the intent of her right hand dropping the first of her blades downward at his head. "Today the Galaxy is free of your reign." Her voice echoed as she fell downward into her strike.

 

(5 post spar with predetermined outcome as agreed, no deaths, with Chris and Tim overseeing)

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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As Tori revealed herself and tensions rose, Ban could feel the Force surge. It was strong here, reacting to their presence like an exposed nerve. But because of this, he was also strong here. Until now, his blades had remained extinguished, but Kari's strike necessitated reaction. The deep purple of his main hand blade sprang to life as he moved with practiced fluidity to intercept her, his offhand saber erupting in brilliant silver to guard against the follow up strike that came. For a handful of heartbeats they shared the staccato rhythm of lightsaber combat, Ban continually retreating as he could and never counterattacking. 
 

Kari represented a focal point for his future, it was something he could feel very clearly now. This was a test for him as much as it was for her, his actions here and now would determine the spectrum and hue on his future path. This was why the Force had brought him here: to test his mettle. His Master had once spoken of such events happening to him, but never described them extensively, choosing to keep them as private moments. Now, Ban understood why. As their movements came to a standstill and Ban managed to put some steps between them, he disengaged his sabers and motioned for her to stop, keeping them ready but lowered. He took advantage of the momentary hesitation by speaking clearly to her. Clearly she thought he was someone he wasn't, tricked by the Force. 

"Kari. Center yourself. Open your thoughts to the will of the Force, your eyes to the truth. You know inside this isn't right. Find your truth, and trust me to help you through this. Your emotions are understandably strong, but right now they only serve your sister."

He stood unmoving, refusing to attack her. Should she press forward, he would be ready, the Force guiding his movements with unmatched elegance. He was never much of a swordsman, rather relying more on the Force to make up for his shortcomings. As the Kosai worshipped the Living Force, they felt its pulls and listened to them more readily than others skilled in communing with the Force. Here however, the nexus seemed to magnify that beyond what Ban thought possible, his body's movements almost guided for him as he merely thought about the path he wished to take, a living conduit of the raw potential the Force offered. Not in control of it, but in harmony with its ebbs and flows. 

 

Here, for the first time in his life, he truly felt like a Kosai.

((1))

Edited by Ban Ulfson
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Sparks flew and rocks grew slithers of molten as Kari's attacks became unrelenting, the devilish display of her study under Faust apparent. As a Practioner of Form VI, the duel bladed variant known as Jar'Kai, Kari was well versed in keeping her opponent on the defensive, rarely yielding enough leeway for the tables to turn. Tori knew this, and it had played to her advantage. But for Kari, all she could feel was her blood boiling at the sight of her former Master. Again and again she strove to disarm and dismember him before her, the Mask adorning her face whispering the melodies of sweet revenge as it fueled her intent. Little could she nor Ban have guessed the true intent and purpose of the Mask as they two danced about the caverns.

 

The two were seemingly deadlocked in both skill and power, both knowledgeable of the Force, but capable duelests as well. Kari could almost immediately foresee every strike and blow before it came, the young Togruta's ability in the Fighting Sight developed by the Aiing Ti aiding her as the clash of blue and purple lit up what remained in the darkened corners of the cavern. And all Tori could do was remain bent over, her smile hidden beyond the shadows that draped her face until finally, Ban managed to provide space between them.

 

It was in that moment that Ban's voice managed to reach over the whispers in Kari' mind, and for a brief second, revealed the face of her opponent beyond the smoke screen causing Kari to grasp at the Mask that was bound to her face, unsure of what was real and what wasn't. A glare from Tori fell upon Ban, and before Kari could manage to free herself from its binding, Kari's form became constricted as it was lifted into the air, Tori's hand extended. "Tsk, Tsk." Tori spoke, her hand gripping Kari's form so tightly that the flesh began to peel and fall. "You should have played your part Kosai. Now I have no other choice."

 

As Tori's form fell limp and upon the ground behind Kari, the mist grew thicker as it began to swirl swiftly around the levitated Togruta before it became confined beneath the Mask, Kari's memories of Faust locking her away in her own hate filled mind, releasing her suspended form to fall upon the ground where it remained briefly. Ban would be able to hear Kari's screams though they were not verbally expressed, sounds of pain and terror escaping upon the ripples of the force as Tori took possession of the body.

 

"You may be stronger here, but I am limitless." Tori and Kari's voices spoke in unison as Kari's form came to stand, the Togruta in control stretching the form to her control. "I will have this body. My family will be reborn."

 

Kari's tonfas, as well as the red blade clipped upon Tori's demented and soulless form came to hover around her, encircling the witch slowly at first as she adjusted to Kari's body, but grew faster. With a smile, Tori reached out Kari's hand and sent one flying his way, striking at his blades before another soon followed as the other returned. Kari may have been proficient in using Jar'Kai, but Tori was never one for close quarters combat. And because of this, she was highly skilled in Telekinetic Combat, leaving her free hand open to gather the Force within its statically charged palm, and releasing the hate filled electrical current it ignited.

 

((1))

Edited by Jedi X
Duel Post Count

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Scipio, Headquarters of the IGBC or the InterGalactic Banking Clan, was R3-M0's next stop for Zalis. With Project Titan under way, it was time to implement Project Alimony. Project Alimony was a simple scheme, a contact within the IGBC purposely bought to for the sole purpose to house Black Sun funds and launder its nefarious assets into clean and legitimate funds. It was the perfect step to finalizing a grip into the criminal underworld and a small means to covertly operate within the Black Markets.

 

Project Alimony



 

Contact: Solivus Rez


 

Open legitimate IGBC account with secondary accounts under alias names tied to false Corporations. Solivus Rez will splice recently deposited funds from the secondary accounts on a monthly basis with other Legitimate accounts and replace with clean funds into the secondary accounts before rerouting funds from them into the Legitimate Account under the guise of alimony checks. Paper and digital trails will be nearly impossible to trace, posing as transfers of business. Negotiate to a reasonable sum. IGBC will provide contact protocol droid assistance.

 

Landing within the hangar, Remo rolls down the ramp to see a 3PX standing there waiting for him. Curiously, he rolls over and begins questioning ic the droid was his contact, unusual to see a 3PX droid within the Core Worlds.

 

"I am Z-3PX, designated as Zepex by the Intergalactic Banking Clan under  Solivus Rez." Zepex responds. If you are R3-M0, then yes, I am your contact protocol droid requested for translation assistance.

 

Remo stands there for a moment in silence, his droid mind leary of Zalis' motives here, but brushes it off as the singular fact that R3-M0 was incapable of communicating Basic. With a chirp and a whirl, Remo beckons the 3PX to lead the way. He was ready to get under way. After all, the faster he was done here, the faster he could return to Zalis and be done with the foundation she had laid to pave. After all, the droid hated outside contact, unless it had to do with filleting Empresses. 

 

With that memory sparking across his memory banks, Remo wheeled behind Zepex and followed the droid to his true contact.

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As Kari's assault started, the Force became tumultuous, a roiling ocean stirred to storm. Ban moved as the waves dictated, gently guided by its touch. Indigo and crimson met violet and silver again and again and again, their violent impacts showering the area with sparks and briefly spiking the illumination in the cave. He deftly caught the blast of Force lightning on one blade, maneuvering slightly to parry another of her blades to block in for him. So it went, move, countermove, attack, evade. Her onslaught was relentless, but his defense was near impenetrable, far better than he would have normally been able to maintain without the direct conduit of Force the nexus was providing him to direct the flow of his blocks and parries.

 

If he only had one blade, defending against three others that could attack from unorthodox angles with unorthodox strikes would have been a futile task, but he held his ground, moving only when he had to. After several moments, neither of them had exchanged much ground, and it was clear Ban didn't intend to. He softly spoke, his words clearly reaching her ears despite the volume, and yet as he spoke there seemed to be something else behind his words.

"It appears we share in our lack of limits. Kari, I know you can hear me, listen to my voice. You can fight this. You must fight this. Believe in yourself, and trust in the Force. I have no right to be your beacon in the dark, but I would still offer my light."

Ban knew if she didn't hear him, he would be forced to end this eventually. Injury or death in service to the Force he didn't mind, but he knew that if anything but the will of the Force happened here, the nexus would stay scarred, the manipulations of the Sith fueled by the pain and loss. There were two ways this could end for Ban, either Kari would overcome her internal struggles against Tori, or one of them would likely die. 
 

((2))

Edited by Ban Ulfson
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The memories within Kari's mind kept her locked away, flashes of Lusef's face haunting her relentlessly as she struggled within. Their chance meeting on Haruun Kal where Kari had been raised as a Jedi Padawan after the death of Angela, her training under him on Tatooine where she was far removed from the Order for his nefarious motives, and Gala, where he revealed to her the hidden truth of her existence and of his purpose. Over and over again, the events that broke her played at her, plaguing her mind and her heart. Slowly she began to feel faint, as if a part of her simply wanted to fade away, her existence removed and her soul finding peace in the abyss, her vision clouding as she began to close her eyes. But then....

 

"Kari, I know you can hear me, listen to my voice. You can fight this. You must fight this."

 

Her gaze shot open as she screamed with all of her might, the Togruta within began to fight again against her sister, her oppressor. For too long had Tori held sway against Kari, the sister bond that bound them deeper than most could ever understand. But now Kari began to use that to her advantage. Even as the memories began to hasten their onslaught, Kari blocked them from her mind, focusing solely upon the voice she heard echo in the darkness, her hands stretched out in an attempt to reach for it.

 

On the outside though, Ban would see a different view. As soon as he spoke his words, Ventra stretched out her arm and grasped at his throat, the elongated invisible tentacle attempting to wrap its form around the intruder's neck as she hissed in her displeasure at him. "I told you to stay out of this Kosai. Know your place or else..." Yet, before she could finish her expressions of disdain, her body rocked, her gaze looking in sheer unknowing as Kari's fight within began, Ventra grasping at their shared mind and the two voices screaming in unison as her hands reached up in agony. Her form began to contort, and her exposed skin seemed to crawl as if something underneath was attempting to get out just as the two souls both began to illuminate the battle within.

 

For Ban, all he would see is the contorted souls both seeking inhabitance, only distinguished by their true visages and the body simply stood in deathly stillness, the visages of Kari and Tori nearly impossible to tell apart save for the auras they emitted and both different from the body they possessed. For for Tori and Kari, the playground was quite different on a plane where time stood at a standstill, incapable of moving within the empty abyss they dwelled in, floating upon the currents that breathed life into them.

 

"Leave me Tori." Kari pleaded with her sister, tears within streaming down her face from both what Tori had done to Kari as well as the loving bond she still held for the Sith Master despite of it. "I will not ask again."

 

"I will not dear sister." Tori replied, a smirk across her face as she laid their afloat. "Our family deserves this, a chance to be reborn, a chance to redefine their lives. And you were created for this very purpose. I will not let this chance escape us."

 

"This is not natural, Tori. This is an abomination of the Force, perverse and unnatural." Kari replied, her gaze shifting to meet the mirrored version of her sister's. "Nothing good will come it. Trust me. I would know."

 

"So you condemn us, Kari? Tori questioned, her own gaze meeting Kari's in return. "To let the lives that me, Angela, and Mother be the only chance we recieve?"

 

"The only one condemned is me." Kari spoke, a smile adorning her face despite the tears still flowing down her face. "When I die and leave this body, there will not be no afterlife for me. I have made my peace with this."

 

"Foolish sister. I won't let my life be for nothing." Tori spoke with fierce rage as foam flew from her carnivorous cuspids and lips. "I will finish what I started!

 

Before Kari could react, Ventra had regained control of the body once more, and this time locked Kari even deeper into her own mind with memories of her lives flashing before her eyes. Kari would know all of her pain, unbridled and without remorse on Tori's part as she severed the sisterly bond they shared and took complete control. And in that moment, a mere millisecond since their departure into their shared mind, Kari's visage all but disappeared as Ventras returned, her glare at Ban fueled with rage. "You were warned."

 

Ventras began to wail her arms in oddly motioned circles, sweeping her feet around in an almost rythmatic dance as she began her chant, the three blades around her encircling her in an unsettling stillness with their points pointed down. "Stig op og blive talt. Søg din hævn og ved, at det er herlighed." She chanted over and over, her gaze never leaving Ban until she finally stood erect as the blades drove themselves into the ground before falling upon the floor deactivated. And in that moment, ghoulish groans filled the cavern as Lynn and Angela stood upon their feet once more, their hollowed eyes matching Ventra's own as all three stared upon Ban.

 

Without warning, Lynn and Angela attacked. But unlike before, their forms were more limber and agile, encased in glowing auras that would negate any energy that attempted to strike them. And at the rear stood Ventra, her cold gaze and focus poised solely upon the action unfolding before her. It was nearly time, as the sun was beginning to set and the moon was full tonight. Just like it was that very night years ago.

 

((2))

Edited by Jedi X
Duel Post Count

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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The game became one of keep away as Ban dodged and blocked the attacks of the two reanimated corpses. He didn't dare use his saber on them and desecrate them further, as doing so would only help cement the wound already present. But this time, it was less the wound in the Force, and more the one in Kari's mind. This was the connection, the misstep that Tori couldn't have planned for. 

"Look at them Kari...see them, remember who they were. Would they want this?"

 

Ban shoved from his position, flipping over one of the reanimants, avoiding a grapple and repositioning closer to Kari. He could feel his body growing weary despite being fueled from the Force's embrace. He wouldn't stop until his part had been played, but when he did he knew he would need serious time to recover. But right now, Kari needed him.


"She is feeding from your assumption that she is more powerful than she really is. We are, all of us, just puppets dancing to the music of the Force. You just need to see the strings."

He ducked, rolling backwards into a crouch that followed up with a spin kick, tripping one of the reanimants and leaving it as a barrier for the other to get through before it could strike at him again.

"The greatest illusion a Sith can cast is simply a lie that you believe. I know you can still hear me, Kari...seek the truth."

((3))

Edited by Ban Ulfson
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"Look at them Kari...see them, remember who they were" Came across as whispers to Kari as she was bound within her own consciousness, there to be heard, but not loud enough to drown out the hauntings of her own mine and noticed. For Kari was reliving her own past lives continuously, without Tori's compassion nor remorse, the Sith Master determined to hold her sister off just long enough to complete the ritual. For once the moon rose center, it's light falling upon the pool, the wound would empower Tori's spirit to rip Kari from her form and replace it with Lynn, memories made to grant a better life for the three that would grow within it's womb.

 

All Kari could do was lay within the darkened pool, watching the memories of her past unfold, feeling the emotions within tear at her heart. She could still see and touch the face of her first Master, the stubbles upon his human face as he smiled at her, her love for him tugging at her as it shifted to her last memory of him, the report of his death splitting her heart in two, her new Master's hands more wandering than what was formal as she cried. Then she witnessed his attack on her, his jealousy, his greed, his lust as he took from her what he prized most. and then the darkness that followed, the empty void of her death and the peace that she found within it.

 

As the battle ensued outside her mind, Tori's fogs of war left an enlightening view of Kari's mind and visions playing all around them, their point to distract him. He could see Kari's painful past being played out amidst the encircling fog as his attackers continued relentlessly, unhindered by mortal restraints and empowered by Tori and the wound. and all Tori could do was smile, her attempt at prolonging the inevitable becoming apparent as a success, the last rays of the sun disappearing behind the mountains and the cave growing dim and dark outside the illuminations of the sabers and mist. There was one fatal flaw in what she was showing, even as the ritual that led to Kari's rebirth began to play...

 

Next came Kari's rebirth, the cries and wails of the infants soul drowning out as Tori snuffed the child's soul as she called upon that of her sister's within this very cave on a night just like tonight, the full optical of the scope a rare and draining task. And then the twisting of the spirit's memories and suppressing the power that it held so that it wouldn't destroy it's creation as it was placed within the soulless form. and in a brief moment, the screams and cries return as Kari had been reborn, the tear apparent within the Force cracking as it did so. And as Kari grew, raised by her youngest sister until her death played out, it became ever apparent Tori's one fatal flaw, the wound growing as Kari's life grew harder and harder, just as her first life did.

 

"Kari...seek the truth."

 

The wound was not created by Tori when she rebirthed her sister. The wound it's self was Kari's own soul, and it's attachment to the place where it was reborn. Only here, in this place, would the pieces of the puzzle be put into place, and something even Faust had overlooked while here nearly a decade ago just before Kari went nuclear, the power this wound provided from two lifetimes converged into one place. Kari was the abomination, the wound upon the Force. and only she could close it.

 

((3))

Edited by Jedi X
Duel Post Count

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Desperation grew in the back of Ban's subconscious as he fought on, both from feeling the physical strains his body was put under as well as the lack of Kari's response. The two reanimants continued to press the assault, Tori having decided he wasn't worth directly attacking anymore. Instead, visions of Kari's past filled the cave, some events she'd told him about on the ship, others he saw for the first time. It was hard to pay full attention to them as he continually had to deal with the assault from her undead family members, but the idea Tori had intended to convey was painfully clear: Kari had fallen further into the illusions. Ban's influence was waning. The darkness had begun to swell like a cancer, and stopping its spread would become harder with every second.

 

One of the reanimants swung at him, which Ban dodged, blocking a strike from another, then evading with a Echani maneuver that spun him around the second reanimated corpse, repositioning him to start the cycle fresh again. The corpses showed no signs of letting up or stopping, and while both they and Ban were fueled by the rampantly strong energies of the Force, they didn't need to worry about preserving their bodies. Is this what Ban would become? A corpse, forever locked in battle in service to the Force, his will and mind long withered away, until they became dust once more?

 

No. More influence from Tori. More doubts and illusions. Ban redoubled his efforts, but he knew the seed of doubt had been planted. This was a losing battle. He had lost, he had lost Kari, and he had failed to maintain the balance. He could not win this fight on his own. The fractures of frustration in his subconscious widened, and he noticed a subtle shift in his combat flow. A counterattack every now and then, a shove here, a kick there, all to off balance them he told himself. Deep down, he knew the truth. He didn't want to desecrate their bodies, to add to the pain, but his own pain had already begun to do that. The pain of failure.

 

And then, something clicked. A soft realization, an answer that had been right in front of him this whole time. The reanimants punched at the same time, but he caught both their blows in his palms, his strength renewed. He had been fighting the wrong fight. This was a test for them both, and Ban had finally understood his own test.

((4))

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Tori chuckled vigorously at the sight of Ban's own torment, the visual plagues of her sister's pain playing upon his own amplified by her own justification. As the two corpses retained their assualt, Tori simply watched and waited, pulling on the power of the wound, focusing her energy on what would come next. The sun had set and by now the moon began to pierce the tomb's veil, its light illuminating the mist and Kari's memories just as they began to foretell the rest.

 

The mist began to grow even thicker, the illuminated scenes playing next the realization of Kari's past the first time, the young Togruta standing over the fallen form of Angela, a spitting image of Lynn. And then it spanned across Ventra's own as she wiped cleaned her sisters memory yet again and dropped her off at Haruun Kal as an orphan to the Jedi Order. Yet, something happened that Ventra had not planned on, the arrival of Vladimir Faust portraying himself as the Jedi Lusef Aryan, causing the Sith Master to come out of the shadows of her sister's life and be reintroduced.

 

As the scenes of Kari's training under him began to unfold, hidden in the mist, a figure began to stir after nearly over a half a century, its brittle form leathered by it's time within the catacombs. Lifeless, it rose from its tomb, the sounds of scratching and clanking as its bones climb upright, causing even Tori to glance in its direction in wonderment just as her form stiffened in its ensnare as the mist only grew thicker. And from the shadows a raspy voice echoed....

 

"Seek"

 

Tori's form floated stiffly into the air, horror filling her gaze as a flesh less hand erupted from the mist that surrounded it, causing both Angela and Lynn's forms to halt their attack on Ban and become stationary, the heavy breathing within the mist as grizzly as a beast, the power coming from it even stronger than Tori. 

 

"The"

 

The voice from beyond snarled as Tori's form flew across the catacomb's entrance and landed with a hard thud, knocking the wind out of her as the moon's light began to pierce the thick mist surrounding the lifeless form and reveal a third Togruta in skeletal form, its eyes glowing with knowledge and rage as it stepped forward into the light.

 

"Truth" 

 

It yelled as its hands out stretched to reclaim the tonfas that once belonged to it, igniting them upon reception as its gaze fell upon Tori. And amongst the mist, only a singular memory remained playing. It was Ban's voice echoing in the backdrop of Gala, intertwined with the memory of Aryian's own voice reaching out with the same words. And with that, Kari pulled upon the Force around her, her blades slicing Lynn and Angela down a second time as she charged toward Tori, the wound in the background crackling with kinetic energy. As Kari's blades met Tori's, sparks erupting with dramatic flare as they intertwined each other's ensnare, Kari's true face reached out to Tori's. "Die."

 

((4))

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Faith. Faith.

 

That was Ban's test. That it was impossible to bear the burdens of the galaxy on his back alone. Sometimes the Force might call him to a place where he couldn't directly help, but it was still his role to be there and play his part. That was what it meant to be a servant of the Living Force, to truly surrender one's own will and exist in harmony with a power greater than any mortal could ever be. One day, Ban's path would end. But the moment he tried to take the burden of others onto himself instead of simply acting as the catalyst of the Force's will, he would fail, because his own power paled in comparison to the infinite majesty and intricacies the Force offered.

It wasn't faith in himself, however, and while it was faith in the will of the Force, it was also largely faith that Kari would pull through. And pull through she did, violently even. Ban had hoped to not desecrate the bodies of her family, but she carved through them in rage as she dove for Tori. It was then that Ban reacted, reaching out through the Force and connecting with her, fueling her but also sharing his thoughts and emotions.

"Kari, wait! This only serves the darkness. If you strike her down in anger, you only seal away the pain and allow it to fester. Remember, the greatest illusion a Sith can cast is a lie you believe. She is powerful because you give her that power, she influences you because you let her."

Ban extinguished his sabers, taking a slow step or two forward, still ready should he need to be, but clearly trying to de-escalate Kari's blood rage.

"I know it's going to be hard. Maybe the hardest thing you've ever done. But you need to let her go. Forgive her. You told me on the ship you'd already forgiven her, but you need to be willing to be at peace no matter what she does. I'm not saying disown her, she is still your sister, and you can still love her, but you don't have to let her darkness become your own. She has made her choices. Let her go."

 

When the last words left Ban's lips, so did the Force's influence from his body. Wearily, he dropped to one knee, barely able to hold himself off the ground. They were still connected, but he had given her everything, his resolve, his tranquility, and his compassion. His role had finished, and whatever happened moving forward, he was at peace with it. The Force would find balance, and he was content to be its instrument.

((5))

((It's been a pleasure writing this. Ball's in your court, send it off with a bang!))

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Nature...

 

At its primordial core, Nature was beastial, wild and untamed, neither dark nor light, balanced and intertwined by life and death. And Kari was stuck between both, neither dead nor alive, neither light nor dark, beastial, driven only by her primordial nature as her gaze found its self fixated upon Tori and the crimes she had committed both against their family, herself, and the Nexus which fed them. The Force had weighed her heart and found her severely wanting, Kari's soul there to collect Tori's toll after finally being freed from the prison Tori now inhabited.

 

And yet Ban defended Tori, Kari's glowing gaze shifting from her sister's toward his own with a beastial snarl. She had corrupted the Force, twisted its currents and bound her soul in such an unnatural way that it wounded the Force its self and left it bleeding. And he defended this? Kari's soul could not believe this. Tori had to be punished. The natural order demanded it, entrusting her with the price Tori would pay for such heresy. Even as the indigo and crimson blades scrapped against each other in the struggle of the two Togrutas, Kari's focus solely fell upon Ban in this moment of disbelief. And it was because of this, that Tori managed to land a blow that sent Kari sliding backwards into a stooping slide as she grasped at the hole where her ribs once were. Kari snarled again, standing and flipping toward Tori with a solid kick from her position as the blades struck and intertwined on multiple occasions, Kari's plight relentless as she turned a deaf ear to Ban's words.

 

Blow after blow would land, sparks erupting about like the celebration of Yavin's Day, when the Rebel Alliance managed to defeat the Empire nearly two centuries before, as Kari vowed to finish Tori here and now, her crimes unforgivable and knowing she would never stop no matter how many times she chose to overlook her out of love. And once Tori had met her end, Kari, finally, could be granted the peace she so desperately desired and return to the Force and its eternal embrace. It had to be done. There was no other way. To close this wound, to restore the balance of nature here, Tori had to answer. And despite Tori's attempt to defend herself and stave off her sister, Kari proved to be the better as with a final swing, cleave off her left arm and leg, leaving Tori at Kari's mercy. And in that moment, Kari would not give her any.

 

"Kari, stop!" Angela cried out just as Kari brought her blade up for the final blow. "She did this for you, for us. Mother always blamed us for his actions, blamed us for her misery. Don't you remember?"

 

Kari lowered her blade and deactivated it upon hearing her sister's voice, feeling the true presence of the youngest sibling within the corpse behind her, feeling her grasp at her legs. "I am as guilty as she is, both of us choosing to give our family a second chance. It was a part of my soul that was used in the ritual, a part I gave gladly so that we would be whole again." Angela's hands grabbed even tighter as she ached to climb Kari's form just to reach her face. "We didn't anticipate what it would do to me, so if she is to blame, then so am I."

 

Kari bent down, falling to both knees as her hands cupped Angela's face as Kari's soul began to ache knowing this. They should have known better, they should have left well enough alone, Tori especially because Angela could not touch the Force like she and Kari could. There were some things even the Sith knew better than to delve into, equivalent exchange being too heavy a price for anyone to pay, and this cost Angela a part of her own soul, the part that was capable of love and endearment. It was all beginning to make sense now, and in that brief moment, Kari wanted to forgive.

 

"Angela" Kari cried out, embracing her sister for the first time since she slew her so many years ago, the shimmering of Kari's soul illuminating outside the leathered form of her true corpse as tears flowed from her face. And in that brief moment, Kari turned to reach for Tori too, only to see her sister laying there at her feet as the moon encompassed Kari's form near the pool. "Tori? Nooooooo!"

 

"Vekjið móður og endurfæðist á ný og látum okkur endurfæðast í gegnum ykkur." Spoke Tori as she grasped at their souls, the wound behind them ebbing by the moon's flow. "Láttu vilja minn ganga í gegnum sálir okkar."

 

((5)) Great spar.... I've really enjoyed this despite the fact that this turned really more into a plot than a spar.

 

@Delta73 @Fieldgrey

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Solivus Rez was a common Muun, capable enough to have the ears of the upper echelons, but held no real power himself. As soon as R3-M0 gazed upon the man, he knew why Zalis had chosen him as a contact. Not high enough to become a problem, but just the right position to make the scheme work. It truly was a flawless setup, unsurprising of Zalis. As soon as Remo wheeled up, Solivus spoke.

 

"You must be the representative that Zalis Krales informed me of." The moon spoke slowly, his elongated fingers crossed as he sat behind his desk, Remo gazing around the restricting study. Remo replied in Binary, to which Zepex translated. "I am R3-M0, and you must be Solivus Rez"

 

"That I am. And what does the Lady wish to give in return for my services?" He spoke, his eyes shifting at the possibility of recieving a higher commission, evident by his tone and picked up by his elevated heart rate. Zepex once again translated Remo's reply, both nearly gasping at such a low number. "Ten Percent."

 

"Surely your lady knows better than that. My services cost no less than forty percent at worst." He spoke in return, almost insulted at the number that Remo had offered up at his own behest. Remo gave a binary chuckle, or at least one that resembled one, Zepex turning the the little one in a quiet surprise. "Surely you jest at your Master's price." Remo went silent, his glare causing the 3PX unit to nearly tremble into a shut down before he responded, allowing Zepex to unwillingly translate. "R3-M0 states that his Master only allowed him room to negotiate to twenty percent and no higher, with instructions to terminate you should you ask for more?" The last of course coming from Zepex as more of a question than a statement as he shifted to Solivus who gazed at R3-M0 in disbelief.

 

"Surely you jest... why I have never... impossible... the payments to keep the others quiet would take half that." The Muun replied, tripping over his words both in insult to injury as well as the fear falling upon his face as the small R3 unit sat in eerie silence. "Thirty Five would be lowest I can go, and even then I cannot promise anything."

 

Remo remained silent, his gaze firm and sturdy upon the Muun as he gauged the sapient. Thirty Five would displease his Mistress and Remo would not have that one bit. And as the Muun began to realize this severity of it, his heart rate and blood pressure began to rise as sweat began to leak from his flesh, Remo pondering briefly how it would cut against his saw. Zepex quickly noticed the wheels turning in the R3 units head and began to worry when it spoke up for Remo.

 

"Master Rez. Wouldn't it be pertinent that we agree to a thirty percent cut, and offer myself up as a liaison to Master Krales in hopes of a better standing relationship?" Zepex spoke, turning its gaze from Remo to Solivus in order to please both parties. "It seems R3-M0 is not in the mood to displease his own Master at such a higher rate than they are likely used to dealing with in smaller operations. Perhaps I could express the necessary costs of such a larger and more secure operation."

 

"Fine." Solivus spoke, the disdain in his voice evident despite his lack of awareness that Remo had long drew his saw blade earlier which prompted Zepex's own negotiation. "But be sure to express that such an operation can not fully function at less than thirty five percent, barely covering the cost."

 

With that, Zepex lead Remo out of Solivus's office and the two began their trek back to the ship Remo had arrived on. As the walked Zepex questioned Remo. "Were you really about to cut Master Rez because of the higher price?" Remo beeped in a reply, causing Zepex to pause in his stride at the R3 unit's response. "Murder him?

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At the requests of the sparring partners here is my presumptive ruling

 

In the future i may be better to refrain from a tonne of character development and conversation in a duel as this makes finding the relevant attacks and defenses hard to judge. Or alternatively highlight the attacks. Overall it was a great spar with very much no direct clear winner since there was no attempt to have one by either opponent. Instead both Ban and Kari chose to conduct offensive actions and defenses in a very limited manner. 

 

In a narrow victory, Ban pulls off the win. A united and singular objective, as well as having an effect on his opponent at the end pulls off the narrow victory. Both wrote extremely well and since there are no deaths at the end of this fight I can only say good luck and I look forward to reading where this ends up. 

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Kari could feel Tori's power coursing through her soul, through Angela's soul, through all of their souls. Through Tori, they had all became connected, and in that moment, Kari held a revelation of clarity. She could see everything, from Angela's intent and broken heart, to Lynn's own pain and regret for what she had done, and even Tori's own hate filled and misguided deeds to resurrect and restore the family she had always believe should have existed. Fueled by the moonlight upon the nexus, and their souls hovering above their forms, Kari felt and knew all as Tori began her final preparations. With a humbled sigh, Kari closed her eyes. 

 

Tori may have knew how to wield the power of the nexus, the darkness created by the wound fueling it farther in its despair. But Kari could see the truth behind the wound as clearly as if she had created it and understood her role as her mind melded with each. "Róa Storminn" Kari's voice spoke as her form stood up against Tori's pull. "Láttu náttúruna eins og hún var." Her voice echoing of the language of Tori's knowledge as Kari used the wound created by her birth to counteract her sister's own. There was no more hate, no more pain, nor pity or endearment with her ghostly gaze as Kari gazed upon her sister. Only the gaze of neutrality, of knowing the natural balance and the way things should be stared back at Tori through Kari's eyes and in that moment, Tori knew.

 

Tori released her grip upon the otherworld, turning her plight one last time upon her sister in a last ditched effort to bring her dream to fruition. But it was in that moment that Tori sealed her fate, Kari not even activating her blade in retaliation as Tori's red blade found the Tonfa's guards deflecting her kinetic attacks as Kari stood there. Slowly the nexus began to grow unstable, the price of the darkness fueling it no longer capable of feeding off Kari's emotions, and turned its attention to the only darkness that remained to sustain it. And though understanding filled her heart, Kari still wept as the nexus began to attack her sister, using the very same methods Tori had used against Kari as it prayed upon Tori's own.

 

Visions of Tori's life began playing upon the mist, from her fall after Kari's death in search of a means to restore her sister, to her delving deeper when Kari killed Angela, to here and now as Tori viewed Kari's act of betrayal. And in her final moments of despair, Tori's final attempt to reach out to feel her sister's touch one last time as Lynn and Angela's forms lept to devour what remained of her darkened soul as the nexus claimed her as it's own, sending a wave of energy that resounded in all directions and leveling even Kari and closing the wound that once resided within it. Darkness claimed all as the moon above eclipsed, and when Kari stood up, igniting her blade to see, she stood in disbelief.

 

Kari knew that when Tori fell to the darkness of the Nexus, her own fate would be sealed with the destruction of the form she had been imprisoned within, effectively sealing the wound as well. But as the indigo hue enlightened the area, she found her own form whole, flesh and bone once again after nearly a century in rot, her organs functioning as she could feel her heart beat and her lungs breath as she gazed to where her family was last seen, only dust and cloth remaining. Walking up to the pile of dust and cloth, Kari dropped her Tonfas to the ground and hit her knees in tears, the only sounds echoing throughout the cavern were drops of water and her wails as she finally let herself weep.

 

((Shout out to @Ban Ulfson for this amazing development as well as the idea behind this final post to end Tori's reign of terror upon her sister. Finally, after a decade, this chapter of Kari's life has closed.))

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Still weakly on one knee, Ban witnessed the end of it, saw everything happen, and felt the Force begin to return to balance. He wasn't sure how much of it was the illusions Kari had warned him about, but at this point, he didn't really care. His job was done. He wanted to be there for Kari, to comfort her in her time of sorrow, but his exhaustion overtook him and he fell to the cool ground. It wasn't necessarily a Force induced healing trance, but it certainly was a deep sleep. He would feel sore and bruised for the next several days, but that would pale in comparison to his satisfaction, to the memories he made here that he would not soon forget.

As his consciousness slipped from his control, he lightly brushed Kari with the Force, as if a hand had come to rest on her shoulder. After a brief moment, it was gone, and soft snores emanated from the Kosai.

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Kari wept, knowing that in Tori's darkened heart, that her family was eternally lost. Tori had corrupted their souls, twisted them into darkness, and because of that, they were lost to its chaos. This broke Kari's heart more than anything. But Tori had chosen this path, walked it with absolute disregard, and because of it, she condemned them, and Kari only survived by allowing them to their fate. Such was the the price they had to pay to the natural order of the Force.

 

But why was she spared? Kari had been willing to pay the price herself even though, like her mother, Kari did not ask for Tori or Angela to make such travesties in her name. So why did she still live and breath? This puzzled Kari in ways that even she could not comprehend. Wiping the tears from her eyes, feeling a brief hand upon her shoulder before it disappeared with Ban's fate into unconsciousness, Kari looked back with a chuckle at his snoring form. He didn't even know her, and yet, her fought for her when she was all but lost in her memories. Truly, there were good people out there in the Galaxy, and it gave her the feeling of hope like none had ever had before.

 

Rising, she shook a little bit with trembles as she got used to her new form, or rather, her original one. But she managed and was soon sitting at the small pool at the cavern's center, looking at the moon filled sky reflecting in the water as much as her own, not having seen this face in many years, almost seventy in fact. Taking her hands, she palmed some of its water out and drank, feeling it's cool touch flow down her parched throat, it being a weird feeling to be alive in her own form again, even her tastebuds different. And when she was done with the moment, and her confusion passed, she gathered her things including her sister's momento, the Sith Mask Ventra had worn for years before she walked over and stood over Ban with a smile.

 

When Ban had regained himself, and awoke from his deep sleep, he would find himself and Kari back out on the plains, Kari enjoying tastes from her homeworld through her own form around a small lit campfire, the smell of roasting flesh seared on a small metal rod. If he had any questions, Kari would gladly answer. After what he had done, he deserved them. Or he could enjoy her cooking, a treat in an attempt to repay a debt she felt she owed. But until he did awake, Kari sat in silence, taking in the moment and pondering on why and how she survived.

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Ban's eyes slowly opened, and consciousness returned to him. He sat up with a start once he realized he'd been sleeping, but quickly relaxed once he took in his surroundings. They'd prevailed, that was the only explanation for why he was here and not back in the cave...or dead. The Force confirmed this, the whole area feeling a bit more serene and natural to him, moreso than he'd felt when first coming here, though it wasn't something he would have noticed until after the change. Almost as if he'd gone noseblind to it, assuming that was just how things were here.

 

Kari was more relaxed, tending the fire nearby, not worried at his reactions. Being at ease was a nice feeling, and they both deserved it after what they'd been through. Ban still didn't know how much of all that was an illusion manifested by the darkness, but frankly he didn't really want to know. It wasn't his place either. A Kosai's purpose wasn't to seek knowledge, it was to act as a physical representation of the will of the Living Force. As far as he was concerned, this was a job done well. Still, he worried about how Kari had come out on the other side of their trials.

 

"Well, hi there. How, uh...how are you doing?"

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When Ban began to stir, Kari was gazing up toward the stars, a serene gaze glazing over her eyes as she sighed and looked over toward him. It was true. She felt complete again, whole, no longer an abomination condemned due to her sister's actions. So when she smiled, handing him some meat that had been broiled over the fire, it was genuine. She may have not fully understood why she still lived or how her true form had been restored, but here in this moment, none of it matter.

 

"I'm better. Thanks for asking." Kari replied to his question, an awkward uneasiness briefly settling over her at what he saw. "I apologize for everything that happened. I didn't know that Ventr... Tori held such power, nor of her plans down there. I should have know the dangers ahead of us when I led you here."

 

Yet, despite her forward apology and the sincerity behind it, a part of the Togruta was happy that he had been there. For if he hadn't, she could have lost herself eternally, being reborn as many times as Tori planned until it was finally gotten right, countless souls lost to her sacrifices. But now, everything had returned to it's natural order and her homeworld had found its balance again. And for that, she was forever grateful.

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Ban stifled a chuckle.

"I still don't know how the Force seems to work, sometimes it even runs contrary to itself. I think we're more adrift in the ocean of the stars than we realize, slowly twirling about each other in the Force's embrace, dancing to the pace of fate."

He reached out to grab some of the fish, biting into the meat and savoring the smokiness. Gods what he'd just said had sounded super pretentious.

"But hey, I'm just glad to be here...especially if I'm still on the payrolls of your alliance. The work gets done, I go where I'm needed, and I get paid my share. That's just how things work."

There was another long silence, and he knew he'd stepped his foot in it. Bringing up money at a time like this was a serious faux pas, but Ban didn't want her forgetting her promise. Still, it wasn't that he had anything against her or anything, he actually rather enjoyed her company, especially when concentrations of the Dark Side weren't trying to possess her.

"So, uh...where next?"

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Kari smiled. She hadn't forgotten her promise, and with a nod, she answered his question without a word as her canine cuspids tore a fresh piece of meat from her own stick, her gaze staring out into the vast void above them. Shili had always held a semblance to her state of mind when it came to her thoughts and plans, letting nature take its course and guide her to where she was meant to be.  But now, back in her own skin, she silently questioned its symbolism. Scrunching her toes in the dirty beneath her feet, she pondered his question.

 

"I honestly haven't really thought about it in truth. With Tori's programming of Ghost and her plans here, I figured it would end here." Kari began to speak as she swallowed her bite, her gaze focusing upon the sky. "But given what happened here, and the wound I produced during birth, I'm wondering if there are other places disturbed by me."

 

Kari let her words linger. Tori's ritual here to bring her back had started this all, but Kari had visited many places during her second life and it stood to reason places that held significant attachments to her could have also been effected, which made her mind wander to Gala, the place where her mind literally broke during her confrontation with Faust. Or perhaps her tutelage as a youngling on Haruun Kal. Both could very well have remnants of the wound that she was. Perhaps not as strong as Shili, if at all, but it wouldn't hurt to investigate. Her gaze shifted back to Ban.

 

"I was raised at Haruun Kal as a Youngling after the death of Angela." Kari spoke, taking a sip of water to moisten the dryness of her mouth. "But Gala was where my guidance under Faust boiled over and I lost myself. Either would make a good place to start investigating, if you're still willing to aid me farther."

 

Kari was leaving the choice up to him if he did intend to aid her a little more.

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ban scratched his grizzled chin. He wanted to help her, and Kari was a very enjoyable person to spend his travels with. But the way of a Kosai was nomadic, abandoning most attachments in service of the Force. His path dictated that he leave his destination more or less to fate. 

 

"I mean, I guess I was asking more for you than for me. Kosai need to be on the move. We fix a problem here, we move to the next place. It was the will of the Force that brought me here, but I'm not positive that's where it wants me to necessarily continue on with you. I'm sorry."

He took another last bite of the fish, and gathered his things.

"If you drop me off at the nearest spaceport, I should be fine."

 

((I completely forgot I hadn't dropped a post. Definitely needed the whip.))

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Kari's eyes fluttered as she smiled and gave an approving nod, her lekku shifted against her vestiage. In truth, she had half expected his answer, especially given what she had just gone through and how much aid he had truly given. Reaching into the satchel she had gather from her former host, she tossed a cred stick in his direction with more than enough compensation for the job he had done. He had deserved more than she could offer, so she did not worry about what part of it belong to her.

 

"I can do that, or you can take Tori's ship as a bonus. It lays just on the other side of the ridge north of here, maybe an hour walk at best." She spoke with a unhindered smile, a sense of balance having settled across her soul since her form returned. "But if you decide to take it, I think I will stay here a few more days and leave this chapter of my life behind me on a good note thanks to your aid, even if you feel it isn't deserved, my friend." 

 

With that said, Kari took another bite and grabbed the flask of water laying near her thigh.

 

((I've never really described Tori's ship or named it, so have at it.))

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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Ban gave a low whistle as Kari described his bonus: a ship. Ban wasn't a great pilot, it was why he preferred public transportation, but he'd also never had the chance to even consider acquiring a ship before, and now Kari had given him one. Granted, it was her sister's, she likely had little use for it and there were a lot of hard emotions attached to it, but it was still a very large gift. Ban caught himself after a long silence, too long, staring off in the direction Kari had indicated.

"Uhh...that's a very large offer. Of course, I guess I'm not going to question it, I appreciate it. I'm not much of a pilot myself, but maybe I can, uh, muddle through how to work it."

 

There was a moment more of hesitation. Ban wasn't amazing at goodbyes, he generally wasn't amazing at socializing in general.

"...Welp, no time like the present, I suppose. And Kari, keep in mind, you did a great thing here. Let yourself feel good about it. May the Force be with you."

With a nod, Ban set off in the direction she'd pointed. She hadn't lied, it was a bit over a good hour of walking even at a decent pace, and as Ban crested the ridge, he saw the ship through the trees in a clearing in the valley on the other side. It was an ominous looking shuttle with two large wings pointed up at the sky, but now it was his ominous looking shuttle.

Once Ban got down to it, it took him a few minutes before he figured out how to open it up, but he finally found an access panel hatch on the exterior and lowered the boarding ramp. The inside was musty, but otherwise the setup was clean. There was a moderate stock of long term space rations that he could chow down on while he figured out the ins and outs of the ship. Thankfully Ban knew how to navigate the Holonet, and once he'd managed to establish a connection to the local hub, the first thing he did was pull up a free guide called Piloting for Dummies: the Holobook.

It was going to be a long couple days.

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The next few days for Kari went by like a passing Mynock. She spent most of it cleaning and dusting the old hut, tossing out the cages that had been most of her pain, and over all tidying up her old homestead. There were moments when memories flooded back, causing tears to form and flow, but for the general time spent, her memories were of her childhood and the good moments she remembered, however few they were. And with each passing evening, Kari made the small trek to where Ban had stationed himself and left a meal for her companion whether he ate it or not.

 

But as the third day came, Kari stood outside in the sun, her bare feet dug into the sand as she gazed at the finished product. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she smiled. The old hut looked livable again, as if she had fixed it up to stay. Yet, that was not the case. She simply wanted it to remain, just as she would in spirit. Taking a drink of water, she sighed. For the first time in a long time, she felt no pain, no anger, no imbalance. It was almost as if the Force had willed her life to this very moment, and she smiled at the thought. Gathering her things, and loading them aboard her ship, she made a small detour to Ban one last time before she would leave, if only to say goodbye.

 

"Ban." She yelled as she made her approach. "Just wanted to say farewell my friend and goodluck. Think I'm going to head to Haruun Kal next, just to make sure there isn't any residual effects lingering there as well. If not, I'll head to the Temple at Gala then. If you ever need anything, do not hesitate to hit up my comm. I owe you more than you know."

 

She paused, letting his words reach her from afar, before she turned and departed. It was a casual departure, almost as if a weight had been lifted to never return, and the walk back was one of the few enjoyable walks she had had in many years. But as she grew near her ship, a sudden sadness rushed over her and she gazed back briefly in Ban's direction. In truth, she had grew a sense of reliance and attachment to the human, something she hadn't done in many years. Turning away, she climbed aboard her ship and in minutes, blasted away from Shili into space and then hyperspace. Next stop would be Haruun Kal.

"People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." - C.G. Jung

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  • 9 months later...

The ruins of Malachor V:

 

The Bleeding Edge dropped out of hyperspace, the space yacht a gleaming, pristine contradiction to the rubble orbiting the void that had once been a planet.

 

"Sir, gravitational anomalies detected," the pilot said. "How should we proceed?" The droid waited for several moments, but no answer came. "Sir?"

 

Nok hands gripped the back of the pilots chair, his breathing coming in great puffs. His skin was a paler shade of green then it had been in months, almost completely gray, and the throbbing behind his bandaged eyes was...indescribable.

 

Nok gritted his teeth and struggled to focus, but it was like he was tumbling on the surface of a stormy sea. This place...it was as if he was staring into a hole in the universe. The Dark Side radiated out in a maelstrom that threatened to tear through Nok's paper-thin mind every second he looked at it. And he couldn't stop looking.

 

It was everywhere.

 

The whisper was soft at first. But it grew louder and louder until Nok couldn't think of anything else. And then he couldn't think at all.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

Dead in the cold and dark.

 

DEAD IN THE COLD AND DARK!

 

"Gaaaagh!" Nok screamed, his own voice barely an echo behind the thunder of the currents rushing through his mind.

 

Focus. Need to focus! Find something to focus on!

 

"Sir, is everything alright? Should I get the medi-"

 

The unfortunate pilot droid's tinny voice hooked Nok's mind like a fish, and he pulled. His hand snapped out and grasped the battle droid's head. The droid's cry of surprise was drowned out as Nok screamed out a jumble of words.

 

"Won pro kinta gelezis griebti!"

 

Nok's will poured through the working and into the droid, and for a moment there was nothing but Nok and the machine.

 

In that moment of clarity, Nok's thought and purpose rang out clearly through the connection.

 

BE...QUIET

 

The droid fell silent. It was not obeying, not exactly. It had no choice at all. Nok's will was made manifest in the simple mechanical mind. Code shifted and commands sprung from electrostatic noise to carry out the magic of Nok's working, and the droid's very core for that split second existed only to carry out the purpose imposed on it by sorcery.

 

Nok breathed. Slowly and deeply, he breathed until he got his bearings. The torrent of power outside, that hole in the Force, was still there, but now Nok could brace himself agaisnt it, the way a man might lean into the wind to keep it from knocking him down.

 

"Alert..." he paused and shook his head to clear it, "alert me when the others arrive."

 

The droid was silent for a moment, before tentatively responding. "Yes...sir." It sounded almost surprised that it could still speak, and Nok was mildly surprised himself. It was to be expected he supposed. He had nowhere the skill to impose any kind of permanent command over a machine, even a simple droid like this one.

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The Lady Legionnaire slipped smoothly from hyperspace. Instantly, Blimp’s suspicious was aroused as his onboard  nav computer spit out their location, MALACHOR V, or more accurately, the planetary remnants of that world.

 

The single identified ship on radar brought even more concern, was this a trap? Had that wizened pirate fooled him with his talk of desires for freedom? In their flurry to jump from Naboo before being scanned or intercepted by local security forces, The Lady Legionairre had simply locked on to Jorus Jaden’s vessel and mirrored it through hyperspace. About half of Blimp’s recruited freighters had performed the same mirroring maneuver as their leader, the rest having coordinated their own jumps or having been destroyed.

 

“Abort. Abort. Reroute to the alternate rendevouz point.” The Troig growled into his comm, a hint of concern eking in at the edges of his words. “I am going to gut that pirate if this is a trap.” And it sure was starting to feel like one. If Jaden was lucky, Blimp would only torture him until he could execute the sorry excuse for a man in front of his benefactor. If he was not so lucky? Well, Blimp had a few associates with a knack for organ and used-cybernetic harvesting that would pay a handsome fee for fresh specimens.

 

The ragtag group of gunships and freighters pulled into a hard curve up and away from the planetary remains and any erstwhile gravitational fields it may yet be admitting. All they had to do was get clear and they would be safe. Still, with a shipload of explosives and a thirst for vengeance, Blimp was not about to take any chances.

 

Whilst his pilot brought the ship around, Blimp limped to the back and carefully slipped a small remote detonator in one of the cracked boxes. All it would take now would be the flick of a finger and the ship and anything within 100+ meters would be melded into the remains of Melchor V. “No Chances. Sorry Shim.”

 

 

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Jorus leaned in and activated the comm. He didn't contact Blimp though. He liked to half-mad (heh) spacer...but he knew who had the switch on his metronome.

 

"Boss...it doesn't look like our partner is responding well to the surprise."

 

___________________________________________

 

Nok, having regained his composure, stayed silent for several long, tense moments.

 

"Jorus," he finally responded.

 

"...Yeah boss?"

 

"Kill them all."

 

"...Yes..."

 

Nok waited.

 

"...Boss..."

 

___________________________________________

 

The order was broadcast. Jorus's ships flipped around and began divebombing the spicejackers ships. Jorus's own gunship rocketing towards The Lady Legionaire.

 

As the weathered Skipray came into scope, Jorus hesitated for a second over the controls.

 

Nok's came through the comms on all channels.

 

"My apologies Mr. Blimp, but I'm afraid you're no longer the leadership material I invested in. I did not pay for half a crime lord, and I certainly don't intend to babysit your personal issues." Nok's tone took a harder tone. "To surrender is to be eaten alive Mr. Blimp. I'm sure you understand."

 

Jorus grimaced, and sighed. 

 

"Sorry mate."

 

He pressed down on the firing trigger.

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Blimp’s complexion soured as he recognized the voice of his benefactor streaming across the airwaves.

 

Moments later the gunship shook as Jorus’ fire pummeled his shields. Looking to his pilot, Blimp’s voice range with a sad truth, “No way the crime lord lets us out of this alive. The spice is safe. We did our job. Let us cover their escape.”

 

He was met with a somber nod. The pilot flipped several controls on the console and pulled hard on the yoke. “All shield fore. Priming missiles and torps.”  Looking back over his shoulder at Blimp, he added, “Tis been a joy comrade.”

 

Blimp offered a half-hearted salute as he made his way to an empty chair in the cockpit and sluffed himself into it. “Only the devil and I know the whereabouts of my treasure, and the one of us who lives the lives the longest should take it all.” Blimp pointed a finger towards Nok’s ship, sure that the blind lizard was nearby; for he felt like he could taste him.

 

As laserfire tore at The Lady Legionnaire, the swift craft bore down on the Howlrunner returning her own barrage of laserfire. As they accelerated closer and closer, the gunship’s shields wore quickly, until klaxons blared in the small cabin, deafening tones that prohibited conversation warning of critical shield failure. Then as they hurled closer, did the lithe vessel erupt in a salvo of concussion missiles and proton torpedoes angled at the cockpit of the Nemoidian’s pleasure craft.

 

And as the shields failed and the shop began it’s final death throws, Blimp fought against the inertial forces to reach forward and clap a hand on his pilot’s shoulder. In a hushed whisper awash with sadness and a sense of completion, the half-troig hissed, “Goodbye brother. I am coming.” And then, palming the detanator, Blimp pushed the button to ignite the eighteen crates of baradium bisulfate within the hold.

 

The inside of the ship and her occupants and cargo were instantly enveloped in a plume of ferocious hellfire. The entire ship was consumned in a mere moment as the momentum of the blast mingled with the oxygen it pushed before it in a dazzling array of wanton destruction.

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"Incoming fire!" The tinny voice of the pilot droid wailed as The Lady Legionnaire blossomed in missiles and torpedoes.

 

"Evasive action!" Nok snapped, and he swayed as the expensive compensators of his ship strained at the G-forces of the pilot's sudden maneuvering.

 

Booms shook the ship as The Bleeding Edge's  cutting edge twin shield generators were pushed to their limit against the sudden salvo, even as Jorus' own fusillade intensified and found its mark more with each shot.

 

"Were pulling away sir!" The pilot droid crowed. "We're-"

 

Nok didn't hear what the droid was about to say next, as suddenly he was on the floor, head slamming into the bulkhead, blackness eating at the edges of his consciousness. Fighting not to pass out, Nok struggled to find his hands and feet while his mind reordered itself.

 

The first thing to hit him was the smell. Smoke. Electrical smoke. Then his hearing came back, and the spitting sounds of sparks filled the cockpit. Nok pushed himself up, but his arms seemed weak and his body heavy, until he realized the pilot droid was on top of him, limp.

 

"What...what happened?"

 

Several long moments passed. The droid suddenly whirred and began looking around, its reboot sequence complete. It propped itself up on the dash and immediately began running through its checklists.

 

"Hull integrity...9%.

 

Shields...gone.

 

Life support...failing...estimated 12 minutes.

 

Propulsion...go-"

 

Nok interrupted. "What the kriff happened!?"

 

The droid paused, then said, "The pursuing ship exploded."

 

Nok was silent for a moment.

 

"The baradium..." He shook his head. "But why aren't we dead?"

 

The droid cocked its head. "Master...we are in the cockpit. From what I can tell, that's all that remains of the ship. Only the shields and the angle of the blast forcing it to go through the entire rear of the yacht stopped it from completely vaporizing us."

 

Nok lost any words he might have said.

 

Everything. Everything he'd kept on the ship. His room, his droids...gorram it all, the skull! That trophy had...

 

The cockpit quivered as the Force swirled around the singularity of rage and hate forming around Nok. In that moment, if he could have reached through the void to pull that squirming half mad sack of skin back, he would have if only to have him scream as Nok vented every bit of this...feeling on him.

 

"Sir!"

 

Nok snapped back to reality, suddenly hearing in incredible clarity the groaning of the doors. The same doors keeping the void of space out.

 

Breathe.

 

"Jorus will pick me up. Then...home."

 

"Do you want me to arrange for salvage?"

 

"...No. Nothing worth keeping here."

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