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The Rebel Faction » Forums » Role Playing » The Battlegrounds » Path of a Warrior (Closed)


21  7:46pm 12/02/11        
The Slothful Padawan
“I… can’t believe it.” Irtar said after a minute digesting the idea. Ahnk rolled his eyes slightly, knowing that would likely be the outcome but Irtar raised his hand. “Yes, I know, you know. At least let me speak my piece.”

Ahnk sighed and leaned against the wall. “Very well. Say what you need to say.”

“Well, I've fought Sith.” Irtar began. His mind flashed to the battle against Dehoir in the caves, and the Nightsister in the alley. He thought of the murder in their eyes, and the ease of their cruelty.

“I've been in some of their places in my time.” His mind flashed to the ruined temple that haunted his nightmares. A half remembered figment of a memory.

“I've also met Jedi, pure and some not quite so pure.” Ahnk, Leia, Vodo, and so many others came to mind from his time. “And it's just the... feel, y'know? You go to a place strong in the Dark Side, it just feels so...”

Cold? Irtar thought, as the hairs rose on the back of his neck.

“Feels so evil?” Ahnk finished the unspoken thought. “Every action leaves a mark, Irtar; every brush a stroke, every blade a scar. What you're feeling is the memory of what once was.”

“Life... leaves imprints on what exists behind.” He said solemnly, gesturing to the world around them. “In the rocks, and the trees. You walk into a field where hundreds were murdered, you feel darkness. But the darkness isn't in the canvas... it's in the painter.”

“But that's just the thing!” Irtar exclaimed, his mind thinking of all the things he had seen and endured. “If the Force flows through us all, and in everything, then it must mean that it takes parts of us with it. The Force feeds off of us, as we feed off of it. I think.”

“And so, if the Force takes parts of us, maybe it begins to define itself by those who use it. So, I'm thinking more like clay than a canvas. No, that's not right.... uhm...” Irtar paused as he tried to think of some sort of analogy that would match the thoughts in his head. “More like... a bathroom rug. It soaks it all in? Ugh. Even that isn't really right....”

Ahnk watched silently, not speaking up yet, so Irtar continued. “The Force may have been a blank something at some point, but it has been defined by those of us who use it. For good, or for evil.”

“And, because of that, the Force might become a balanced shade of gray, but it'll never be blank again.” Irtar slowed down, wondering if anything he said had made sense. Ahnk’s face remained unreadable. “If... that makes any sense.”

“When you fight a Sith, they act the extremes of their personality, just as much as a Jedi does on the other end. There's got to be some reason that people in tune with the Force are like that, isn't there?”

Ahnk continued to look on silently, judging and measuring every word. Irtar didn’t really have anything else to say, and sighed, exasperated. He knew what he had felt and seen, it was just so hard to put to words. Suddenly, Irtar felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up.

“You're thinking too much, Irtar.” Ahnk finally replied, with a small smile on his face. “Think about... water. If a Sith swims in water, it's still water. It doesn't become dark water, shadow water, anti water, or anything like that. The Force is much like water in its ebbs and flows, but what the force really is, is energy. And energy is inherently without bias. It's a process of atomic subdivision, fusion and recombination, but it exists as energy. Fields and waves of it, all around us, but not tainted by anything.”

“You think of The Force too much like it is a living, breathing thing.” Ahnk said with a shrug. “The truth is, it isn't. It seems that way. But what makes The Force alive is the lifeforms within it. They shape it... change the flow in various ways. But the basics of what it is never change. It's a field of energy, and it can no more be tainted by good than it can be tainted by evil. It simply exists, in neutrality, in and of itself.”

“Yes, but even with energy it can be positively or negatively charged. Water can be purified and polluted.” Irtar replied, picking apart the example. Everything has some sort of opposite state, whether one calls it one thing or another. The semantics of it is that the given state still exists, as something separate.

Ahnk actually paused for a moment at that. He had obviously never thought of it that way. So, he took a moment to reshuffle his example to better get across his point.

“The positive or negative charge of energy is relative to what is around it.” Ahnk began with his revised metaphor. “It's drawn about and changed by the orbits of those that swim within it. The Force works the same way. You see it as darkness because someone fills it with darkness.”

“Think.” He offered, encouraging his apprentice to join into this current line of thinking. “Lightning is just lightning, but for some reason, we consider force lightning to be something only a Sith would use. Why? Because only a Sith uses The Force directly as a weapon to kill. Only they have the hatred needed to turn energy into a weapon like that. That's what we tell ourselves. In truth, any Jedi can make lightning, make fire, just as easily as anyone else. The energy is energy is energy, what we do with it makes it more. If we made a web of lightning to catch orphans leaping from a burning building, would we be Sith, or simply good samaritans?”

The image is what struck Irtar first. It was so incredulous and insane, Irtar couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it. “....Actually that sounds incredibly twisted and cruel.”

“Maybe.” Ahnk said dismissively, sending the conversation back on to a serious note. “The truth is, lightning is only as destructive as you make it. You think a forcefield is any different from a bolt of lightning? The only difference is modulation.”

“Irtar...” He was trying to think of some way to gently get a point across. To say something about a person’s character and not sound insulting was something hard to do. “Sometimes you miss the forest for the tress, and sometimes you miss the trees for the forest. You need to expand your viewpoint to consider things less as your initial impression of them, and more as they actually are. Experience will temper your opinions; until then, you just need to open your mind to possibilities beyond that which you think to be true.”

“Who knows. Maybe. You're the Master in all this.” Irtar said with a smirk, shrugginf off the comment with a layer of humour. “All I've got going for me is being a glorified Force wielding mechanic.”

“As I said, experience.” Ahnk replied, clasping Irtar on the shoulder before turning back inside the temple. The two made their way back inside, to the heart and the warmth of the fire.

“The truth is, I admire that you believe in good and evil.” Ahnk commented, in a matter of fact way. “When I realized the truth, I resented the Jedi. But they believe in morality. When you've lived as long as I have... you begin to wonder if morality is a myth as well.”

“Well, my father always told me that sometimes you just have to believe in something.” Irtar said with a smile, thinking of home. It would be nearing harvest time at home. He wondered if they were still having problems with the motivator in the tractor, of it they decided to just buy a new one since he was no longer around to fix things. His mind wandered there for a moment, but was quickly back.

“My father told me not to bet on seven. I'm not sure which advice is more practical or useful, but if I were to consider it optimistically, I'd hope that yours will win out in the end.” Ahnk added, his voice gaining a bit of an edge. “But as a student of human behaviour, I must admit that my chips are lined otherwise.”

“Well, as you said, it's really all on your outlook.” Irtar replied in a half mocking tone, a small grin on his face.

“Aha. So you ARE learning afterall.” Ahnk replied in kind, the pair of them sitting at the hearth. Ahnk grabbed the tea kettle that had been steeping there and poured a couple of cups worth.

“Let's not get ahead of ourselves....” Irtar said with a wink as he took the steaming cup offered to him, blowing on it gently for the substance to cool down.

“Either way, I think it's important that you know Irtar, that The Force is just The Force.” Ahnk said, as he took a sip from the scalding cup of tea. “It can't make you good, powerful, or evil. Those are going to be the results of your choices. If you use The Force to accomplish it, then so be it, but you must still hold yourself accountable for your own actions. The same is true of everyone else.”
22  11:12pm 25/05/11        
Blink If You Can Hear Me
Irtar nodded, not sure he agreed with everything, but willing to digest it all the same. “This may take some time to consider,” he told Ahnk, and the elder warrior nodded.

“Go now,” Ahnk said. “Rest. There will be more trials ahead. You must conserve your strength and focus your mind for what lies ahead.”

Irtar nodded, and Ahnk returned the gesture as well. The younger of the two excused himself and Ahnk, tired, allowed his body to sink into one of the stone chairs. He sighed softly, almost unheard over the crackling of the fire.

When he opened his eyes, the fire had gone out.

Replacing it was a fresh coating of dust; Ahnk thought from sight that it was ash, but dust has a more notable and recognizable smell, which one cannot mistake for anything but the negligence of the surroundings you are in. This place was dusty. It had not been used in some time.

Which meant he wasn't on Sinsang anymore, as he used the spaces in that temple often. No, he was somewhere else.

And he knew exactly where, as well.

“Why am I here?” he asked, of the empty room. He'd learned long ago that the answer would come from the shadows; above, behind. It didn't matter where in the darkness she hid. She hid not from him.

“You are the manufacturer of your own mystery, as always,” her voice cut through the silence, and the dust. “You bring yourself here. You figure it out.”

“I've been here,” Ahnk said, realizing that the smell of dust was more familiar than the smell of dust. No, Ahnk had smelt this dust. He'd smelt this dust before.

“Been here,” the voice said, “will be here. Never left. This is the center, in many ways. The wheel.”

Ahnk nodded, beginning to understand. “Did I... thank you, for your part in saving me?”

From the darkness, Ahnk could see a flash of orange as she opened her eyes and looked at him. “Briefly,” she said, with a hint of lamentation on her voice. “You were very weak. You lost consciousness very quickly.”

Ahnk raised his arm and, in a grand, sweeping gesture, cleared the dust from the stone arm of the throne of rocks he was sitting in.

The orange eyes widened; expression not clear, but Ahnk could guess. It didn't take long for the silence, and the dust, to be broken again, this time by the flapping of a pair of wings as the creature above him glided into place. She came to rest on the arm, as he had instructed, and curled slightly, placing the tip of her spine on his shoulder.

“You saved me,” Ahnk said, turning. “I will not forget that.”

“You saved yourself,” she corrected. “I am merely a jumble of memories and thoughts from the twisted mess of wires that exists inside your head. I did nothing but come together in the form and shape of a thought that you could use to extricate yourself from danger.”

“All the same,” Ahnk said, somewhat dismissively, “you looked good doing it.”

She turned then to face him, skin a pale pallor slightly lighter than vomit. “You lie.”

Ahnk smirked. “Often,” he admitted, before adding, “but rarely to myself.”

She smiled as well, revealing fangs dripping with what Ahnk was certain was something's blood. “So,” she asked, softly, the tenderness of her voice a stark contrast to the residue of homicide elsewhere in her mouth, “why are you here?”

Ahnk shrugged, not entirely sure himself. “I feel like Irtar has learned much, but, that something remains unsaid,” he replied. “There is something I haven't taught him yet, that he needs to know, but that thing... I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what it is.”

She rolled her eyes, surprised he hadn't figured out the answer yet. “You want to teach him something he needs to know,” she offered, “why not teach him the one lesson you've never learned?”

Ahnk considered that, sitting up in his seat. “The one lesson...”

“The one thing holding you back from breaking free,” she offered. “The one thing that ties you down. The thing that chokes you when you sleep. The thing that wraps itself around you like a vice, keeping you in place. You know what I mean.”

Ahnk could not deny that she was right. “I know what.”

“Now,” she said, turning over on the arm of the throne so she could find his eyes, “you realize where.”

That conversation did not take long either.

When Irtar walked into the grand foyer of the old temple, nestled into the mountains above Sinsang, he was surprised to find not just Ahnk, but his ship as well. He had brought it to the foyer, which obviously meant...

“Pack your things,” Ahnk said, as he carried another box of supplies from the temple into the vessel. “We're leaving.”
OS: In a world of bon-bons, you are a twinkie.
Ahnk: God damn you, I am Count Chocula and you know it.
I'm not spending my anniversary night thumping my head against the wall. - Damalis, on Moderating TRF
Then tell him you want it harder, damnit! - Ahnk, on Damalis
23  4:39am 23/07/11        
The Slothful Padawan
On the lanes again.

Irtar was working on packing his bags while his Master meditated, slept, recovered, or whatever he was doing. His R5 was helping with the smaller stuff. He had brought most of his more important things from his apartment in Bei-diang, and unfortunately it meant he wasn’t travelling especially light right now.

Holopads of pictures, his tools and equipment, bags of clothes. He had to leave behind a few half-finished droids he couldn’t justify dragging along with him. How much of his stuff had he left behind on Naboo? How much of it at home?

He sighed, and stuffed the clothes they’d given him down in the village with the rest of his clothes. It would be the last bag he needed to pack, before they headed out to whatever was Ahnk’s mysterious new task.

He sat down on his excuse for a bed, dreading the return to the void, and having to put up with that egotistical ship. Never before had Irtar met a machine he didn’t like, but Sihoyguwa was trying at the best of times.

His little astromech made a whistling sound, trying to catch his attention. He slowly looked over, and saw it was holding his holo-emitter. Irtar couldn’t imagine how he had missed it. He took it from the droid, with a small smile.

With a click, and a holo of him shaking hands with some Sinsangese delegates appeared, when he signed the Treaty of Alignment with the Coalition. He hadn’t done much of the negotiating. By all rights, he had just nudged a vote, and acted as a symbol for the real politicians.

Another click, a picture of the Jedi Temple on Naboo appeared. He sat before his first version of Irtar’s Run, with a handful of other apprentices from the Temple. Master Silus and Master Baas were lurking in the background.

Almost absent mindedly, he kept clicking and saw various old snaps of his time roaming the Galaxy. Then, finally, he came to the oldest picture. One of the old farmhouse, with his father and mother outside waving goodbye. Before his father had taken ill, and his mother…

He lay back in his bed and looked at the ceiling. His mind wandered to that fateful day in Dantooine when a Sith had come to hunt him for her master. Dehoir. That red haired devil.

As he stared at the ceiling, he thought of all the places he’d been. All the things he’d done. The good, the pointless, and sheer stupid. The number of times he should’ve died left him dumbfounded. Between Sith, Mercenaries, and his own bumbling, he should’ve been dead half a dozen times.

And yet, here he was.

Maybe the Force was protecting him, and guiding him. Maybe the Force realized it needed a man to face the task of setting right the Galaxy. The idea daunted him. How many before him had tried the same thing, and had become broken men and women for it?

He didn’t even compare to the likes of the Skywalkers and Gash Jiren. He didn’t even compare to the likes of Regrad.

But he had to try. Someone had to try. The only way the Galaxy would truly go dark, is when people stop trying to be better than what they are. To stop striving to make the Galaxy a brighter place.

‘I will fight.’ Irtar resolved. ‘Force protect me, I will fight.’
He looked at the holo of his parents waving, looking at him with a mixture of sorrow and regret but pride.

“One day.” Irtar muttered to them. “One day, I’ll make things right. I’ll make both of you proud.”

With a click, the room darkened again.
24  10:26am 11/11/11        
Blink If You Can Hear Me
“You want him to understand.

But how well do you understand, Ahnk Rashanagok?

You’ve spent so long making yourself the mysterious enigma, hiding behind the Sith cloak and the ritualistic tattoos… hiding what it really means to be Andrew Rashanagok, Jedi Master.

You still put on airs of being the badass. Because it helps protect what you really want.

If you want Irtar to understand, he needs to know the truth.

And if you want to tell Irtar the truth, you need to admit it first.”

Ahnk felt better now.

The effects of the malfunctioning immune aid, the Pancea project, had ravaged his internal organs, but now, with time, and peace, Ahnk was able to stitch the fabrics back together.

He was remembering…

“You know who you are. You know where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and why you are where you are. You’ve come to me because you want to know where you’re going,” Ahnk had told him. “One day, when you understand, you will not need anymore training.”

Direction… as much as action was important, direction was what was tantamount to everything. It was not enough to act; one must know when, where, how, and why they act.

“A Jedi, or, for that matter, any man, must stop to consider each action he undertakes. It is not enough to simply follow orders; one must follow what is right,” Ahnk had offered. Many men had acted out of a desire to follow the leads of others. Ahnk preached a knowledge of self; a knowledge of why one made the actions that they did.

There was an overarching theme to every lesson…

In sparring, in fighting, Ahnk had crafted Irtar to be a warrior. Making his martial responses effective had been an easy task… more important was making Irtar understand why he was a warrior… why he fought…

To understand that, Irtar would have to understand himself.

But Ahnk could not show Irtar who he was.

Ahnk could only show Irtar who Ahnk was.

That, in and of itself, would not be easy…

Ahnk’s story began on Naboo.

That was where his fall began.

But Naboo was a long story, and ancient history. Besides, Ahnk didn’t want to show Irtar how to fall to the darkside. Quite the opposite.

Ahnk wanted Irtar to be better than him.

So Ahnk would show Irtar where Ahnk’s redemption began.

Sihoyguwa gave a beep from the console, drawing Ahnk’s attention. He reached up and turned on the cloaking device… just in case. The light level in the ship dropped, and the entirety of the vessel shuddered as the ship emerged from hyperspace.

Irtar entered the cockpit, having felt the reversion. “We’re here?”

“Not quite,” Ahnk said, plotting directions into the terminal and then sitting back. The ship could fly this one in… he just wanted to watch. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

Irtar put a hand on his chin, considering. “It’s very… red.”

“Oh, it’s more than just that,” Ahnk said. He pointed to a particular swirl amongst a sea of swirls. “That swirl there? The pressures are all coalescing on a single point, smaller than your fist. Inside that point is a chunk of rock, formed by strands of gas that got too thick. But the swirl… the swirl makes it beautiful, Irtar. The pressure turns that chunk into a gem… the pressure shines that gem into pure light… light, we use as a weapon.”

“Corusca gems,” Irtar said, correctly identifying the process Ahnk was describing.

“Once the pressure has created the gem, suicidal miners used to dive for it before the mass of it pulled it downwards to the surface, where it would be lost forever,” Ahnk noted. “The density of those clouds doesn’t stop; the pressure builds like water, as the deeper you get to the core, the closer to certain death you come.”

Irtar nodded softly. “But we both have lightsabers,” he said. “Why are we going gem hunting?”

“We’re not,” Ahnk said. “It’s just the first time I’ve been here in a while… I felt like taking the scenic route.”

Behind the curvature of the massive red gas giant, smaller objects began appearing. Some were large, some small… moons, some large enough to be planets themselves. Some looked barren… but some…

“This is Yavin,” Irtar said. He’d seen images of Yavin his entire life. The rebel, born on a planet of rebels, wanting to rebel his entire life, was heading to the heart of the Rebellion’s first great victory.

“This is Yavin,” Ahnk said. The planet brought different memories for him… having lived here long before the Rebellion…

“You seem uneasy,” Irtar said, stating the obvious.

Ahnk nodded. “Not every story here had a happy ending…” He pushed back, standing up and stretching. “Pack for hiking and possibly climbing. This planet is often home to scavengers and entrepreneurs. I want to avoid other humans as much as possible. I’ll set us down somewhere remote and we can trek to where we’re going. Oh, and bring a swimsuit.”

“A swimsuit?” Irtar asked.

Ahnk grinned. “Just in case I want to go fishing,” he said. “You can do laps while I try and get a nibble.”

“Master…” Irtar said, not wanting a holiday, but rather to actually finish his training.

“Don’t worry, Irtar, there’ll be plenty of adventure ahead,” Ahnk said. “Go, get ready. I’m going to find us a good place to land.”
OS: In a world of bon-bons, you are a twinkie.
Ahnk: God damn you, I am Count Chocula and you know it.
I'm not spending my anniversary night thumping my head against the wall. - Damalis, on Moderating TRF
Then tell him you want it harder, damnit! - Ahnk, on Damalis
25  4:11am 03/12/11        
The Slothful Padawan

Yavin had been made legend as the start of the fall of Palpatine, and the Empire he had created. A place that would be marked in the history logs as one of the most stunning turn arounds in the history of war, where a small band managed to take out the largest battle station in recorded history.

Irtar’s generation had grown up with holovids showing the heroic adventures of the Rebellion, and more than a few were based in the ruins hidden on Yavin IV. The tale of how the small band of rebels managed to bring down the first Death Star and start the downfall of the first Galactic Empire was everywhere.

There was a part of him that was so truly excited to be here. The sheer legacy associated with this place amongst the people in the Rim made it worth going to. The danger however of the smugglers and other hostiles that had taken to the area had all but killed any hope of most people coming to visit. That and the resurrection of the Empire.

But there was one thing they never showed in those holovids: The clouds of biting, stinging insects that lived on the world.

Another sting, another swat.

Irtar waved his had at them every so often to disperse the cloud that had descended on them the moment they’d left the Sihoyguwa. You would think there was nothing else on this world for them to feed on. Or maybe they just loved the taste of Jedi?

“Can travel through the galaxy; go faster than light; build cities miles high; but Force help us if we could make a decent bug repellent.” Irtar grumbled as they made their way through the jungle. Ahnk seemed completely unphased by the swarm.

“It isn’t too much further.” Ahnk chided, pushing his way through the dense brush. With Force and lightsaber they had slowly made their way from the clearing towards their destination. “For someone seeking to fight the Sith, you complain too much.”

Ahnk lead, Irtar followed. Step by step, swing by swing. Compared to the mountains on Sinsang, this trip was much easier. At least this time he was dressed properly. He had left behind his padawan robes on the Sihoyguwa to avoid broiling in the jungle humidity.

“Well, it’s just that…” Irtar began and just shook his head. Ahnk was right, all things considered. It was not that he couldn’t take the bugs, it was just that there was really no other way to broach conversation.

What could the two talk about? Their parents? That would be a lovely conversation. Irtar couldn’t really talk about his past, as there wasn’t much to share that Ahnk didn’t already know. Droid techno chatter would likely just bore him. And as for their destination? Ahnk would only ever say they were almost there and that they were just heading to a lake.

Irtar couldn’t say where they were going, but he had a growing sense of unease building. He couldn’t quite nail it down to being the mystery of where they were going, or whether something… else had happened here.

This world was at one time, after all, home to Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Praxeum, in a lost decade of the Jedi. Back for that brief period where the Jedi seemed they would return to the role of prominence they held before the Purge. Before the Jedi were basically penned into their hall on Naboo with the return of the Empire and the Sith.

Did something happen here to force Luke off world? Or was this unease from something older?

But why would he have set his Praxeum on a world that was tainted?

Irtar couldn’t really think too deeply on the matter, as his mind rang with the sound of a million hungry bugs after an easy meal.

“Well Master, if we keep going at this pace we should arrive at our destination with my dried husk.” Irtar said as he smacked another few times, fruitlessly trying to thin the swarm.

“We’re almost there, Irtar. The lake isn’t much further now.” Ahnk said, much as he had many times before. He could almost groan. But after a few more slashes, they appeared from the darkness of the jungle into full daylight, and before them lay a large lake.

It’s waters were black as night, and it was strangely calm. The chill’s in his body intensified.

“This is it.” Irtar said, as he felt the cold claw at his spine. It was nearly painful when compared to the hot humidity of the jungle.

“This is it.” Ahnk repeated, before sitting down. “Did you remember to bring your trunks?”

“You couldn’t pay me enough credits to swim in there.” Irtar said with a shake of his head, a shiver crawling up his arm at the idea. “Why did we come here?”

“Why, for me to catch some fish.” Ahnk said nonchalantly, as he began to piece together pieces of a rod from a pack he had brought with him. “You may either sit here and wait, or have a swim. I imagine with all the bugs bothering you and the heat you need it.”

Irtar turned to his Master, his impatience overflowing. “You wouldn’t have brought us here just to fish. We both know that.”

“Master, something happened here.” Irtar muttered, looking over his shoulder and feeling the cold wash over him. “I can just… feel it. There’s something darker here than the water. What happened?”
26  1:36pm 04/12/11        
Blink If You Can Hear Me
“Master, something happened here,” Irtar said, and Ahnk did not immediately answer, instead, continuing to twist the metal pole around the threads of the pole it attached to. “There’s something darker here than the water. What happened?”

Ahnk checked the fit of the interlocking poles and verified they were snug, then set it aside, producing instead some thin, black cable. “Would you like some breakfast?”

Irtar groaned and shook his head. “You’re taking this whole fishing thing too far,” he grunted.

“No, I wasn’t talking about fish,” Ahnk said, as he straightened the black wire out from elbow to palm. “I meant a Corellian style fry up. Bantha bacon and Ronto eggs, maybe some hash roasters and a cup of Jawa juice.”

“I suppose you happen to know of a little corner café in the middle of the Yavin jungle, huh?” Irtar responded sarcastically.

“No, I just like traipsing about in metaphor,” Ahnk said, before transitioning over to his actual point. “You want me to tell you what happened here, but what happened here is a very broad question. You’re asking me for breakfast, but before we can have breakfast, we need to raise a Bantha, and a Ronto, we need the berries for the juice and the potatoes for the hash and we need to make the cups and the plates and we need to assemble the stove… asking why you feel a cloud of darkness on Yavin, the place where untold thousands have died, is asking me to try and sort out which of those souls from which of the battles from which of the centuries is screaming the loudest.”

“It just feels like, for a place with such a long history of Jedi and Republic attachments, to feel so… dark,” Irtar said.

“Well, remember what I spoke of before, of the difference between the light side and the dark side of the force. There is no darkness here. Not more than anywhere else. No, what you’re feeling is death,” Ahnk said, “and the death of a bad man leaves just as much of a shadow as does the death of a good man. You were wondering earlier about Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Praxeum.”

“You were spying on my thoughts,” Irtar said, crossing his arms across his chest.

“I couldn’t help it,” Ahnk said, “I had to wonder what was distracting you so much that you couldn’t have used the force to prevent the insects from reaching your skin.”

Irtar looked at him with a look that could have killed a lesser man. “What do you know about The Praxeum?”

“The Sith Brotherhood took the world of Yavin after Skywalker abandoned it,” Ahnk said. “I arrived not long after they had claimed it, so I learned much as we broke apart the Praxeum’s foundations and reconstituted the Massassi temples to be used by Sith once again. You are aware that was their original purpose, yes?”

“That was a very long time ago,” Irtar said, halfway between admitting it was before his time and denying that there was anything he didn’t already know.

“Many Massassi died building these temples; they were used as slave labor and the first line of cannon fodder in The Great Sith Wars; much like the Yuuzhan Vong used their Chazrach. That, in and of itself, left a mark on this world. But there was worse to come,” Ahnk replied. “The first of two Death Stars was destroyed here. There were, roughly, two million people on board. As much as the idea of a battlestation capable of destroying planets was offensive, somehow it wasn’t as offensive to simply destroy those two million people.”

“They were soldiers of the Empire,” Irtar said, “who were intending to destroy planets with it. It was…”

“Yes yes, us or them,” Ahnk said. “Nevertheless, the death toll around Yavin continued to grow. While Luke housed his temple here, he woke one of its old inhabitants; The Dark Lord Of The Sith, Exar Kun. Kun began to test students of the temple to try and find one worth taking as a Sith apprentice. He killed at least one before the students finally defeated him, causing what remained of his spirit to be scattered, presumably never to be complete again.”

“Then why did they leave?” Irtar asked.

“Several reasons,” Ahnk said. “Skywalker guessed, correctly, that Kun was too powerful a force to be defeated on a permanent basis. Besides, it was around this time that many in the public eye were becoming wary of the idea of a Jedi Order… given what had happened to the galaxy under the watch of the previous order. Thus, a high profile world like Yavin, rich in connection to the force and stories of the Jedi, would not serve them. Luke moved his Praxeum to a starship, which would allow it to remain unseen and untraceable as it would be too mobile for anyone to muster an army against. After that, the Sith Brotherhood took Yavin and from there, it fell to… what it is now. It was lost to the Rogue Jedi Order, but their home was always Ossus… they simply didn’t want the Sith to remain here. We, too, decided that being more mobile was a good idea.”

“Mostly because if you didn’t, Jiren and his ilk would have killed you,” Irtar pointed out.

“The people don’t trust force users,” Ahnk said, continuing on a tangent and ignoring Irtar as he often did. “Given how they failed them when the Jedi Order allowed one of their own members to be subverted and perverted to become one of the greatest killing machines the galaxy has ever or will ever know, and their multiple disappearing acts since then, has increased a general sentiment of skepticism about the actual good work Jedi can do. Plus, we keep destroying bars.”

“I suppose that answers most of my questions,” Irtar said.

“Every question but the most important one,” Ahnk said. He had the right length of wire now, and began threading it into and through metal rods. “Go take a swim, I’ll tell you the rest.”

“You’re not going to drop this, are you?” Irtar said, shaking his head out of frustration. He had not, in fact, brought any swim trunks; he had assumed that Ahnk was being sarcastic, as he often was. It was difficult to read the man, but it seemed that this time, Ahnk had been serious. Irtar didn’t want to humor him, but Ahnk could be… difficult, if his directions weren’t followed. So Irtar removed items of his clothes he didn’t want getting wet and set them aside, leaving himself in only underwear. “Aren’t you worried I’m going to scare the fish?”

“Not particularly,” Ahnk said, raising up the rod. “Give me a moment,” he said, holding out his hand to prevent Irtar from jumping in. “Okay, now, dive on in.”

Irtar jumped, and sunk waist deep into the water, feet below the surface. “Wow, this is cold,” he said, his first reaction. “Something’s… off. This isn’t like any water I’ve ever been in.”

“You’re very right,” Ahnk said, adjusting the reel on the rod in his hand. “Tell me more.”

“It feels… thick. Not like water. I don’t feel buoyant, I feel… repelled? Like the water is a resistant force. The pressure is incredible. It shouldn’t be this intense this close to the surface,” Irtar said. He pulled his hand out, and looked at it carefully. “Okay… I don’t understand. My arm isn’t wet. There are no drops of water or water on my hair.”

“Dive deeper,” Ahnk said.

Partly curious, Irtar didn’t resist, and turned his body and momentum to attempt to dive deeper. His head surfaced almost immediately. “I can’t,” he said. “It’s like trying to dive into a cement wall after it’s already hardened. I can’t push through. And moreover, I didn’t need to hold my breath. I took a full lungful of air down there with no repercussions. This isn’t water at all, is it?”

“Not anymore,” Ahnk said, and he twisted the dial slightly on his rod. All around Irtar, the blackness and the darkness faded away. Irtar found himself floating not in water, but rather, in mid air. Roughly forty feet below was duracrete, which extended from the floor to cover the walls, creating a basin. That, Irtar now understood, was the lake. “You can make your way back to… uh, well, shore… if you want.”

Irtar began swimming back to shore, before realizing that he must have looked ridiculous, and began walking instead. “What is this?”

“A security measure,” Ahnk stated. “Where you’re standing now is a combination of repulsorfields and tractor beams, meant to keep you at roughly surface depth. The field has been adjusted, however, to be stiffer than normal. Ideally, you’d not be able to tell it wasn’t water. The blackness was a holographic projection meant to enhance that.”

“I guess people would overlook not being wet if they didn’t feel so otherwise out of place,” Irtar remarked, dryly.

“There used to be water,” Ahnk said. “The rod here is a control mechanism; specifically, it interfaces with the diagnostic unit at the base of that structure there,” Ahnk said, pointing to a structure that rose from the floor to meet the island which was floating in the middle of the fake lake. The structure was unmistakably square, and Irtar’s immediate thought was that it was an elevator shaft. “The field is failing; it failed completely sometime ago, which caused the water to fall to the duracrete floor and eventually evaporate under the sun. It is back in place now, but is not leveled as it should be. It needs to be more nuanced, but it doesn’t seem to have the power.”

“So you lose your fake lake,” Irtar said, shrugging as he put his shirt back on. “We can fill it with dirt before we go. Maybe plant a tree or two.”

“It’s not that simple,” Ahnk said. “The fake lake is just a distraction. What is beneath it is what concerns me. If the field disguising the lake is failing that means the shield protecting the facility, and perhaps the facility itself, may be losing power. If those systems fail…”

Irtar had a look of confusion on his face. “What facility?”

“Have you ever heard of the Muul-il Al Tsatan?” Ahnk asked him. Irtar shook his head. “Not many have. The temple on that island is one of the smallest on this world. It is The Pyramid Of Ashes amongst The Temple Of Death. The Pyramid Of Ashes is the only room accessible from the outside, and even then, is guarded by a force field capable of killing anyone but those with the correct genetic profile to enter. Should one disable that force field however, they will find only a sarcophagus inside.”

“Makes sense,” Irtar said. “A burial tomb in the Temple Of Death.”

“If, however, you have both the genetic material required, and matching fingerprints, you can enter an elevator built beneath the sarcophagus and descend to the facility below.”

"But what is the facility?" Irtar asked.

Ahnk threw the rod aside, and rolled up his sleeves. “Only one way to find out,” Ahnk said, wiggling his fingers to suggest that he had authorization to operate the devices of the temple. “Don’t follow too closely; it will take a bit of time to disable the force fields.”

Irtar nodded. “Understood,” he said.

“In the meantime,” Ahnk said, turning to Irtar with a grin, “tell me about your family. I’m sure there’s something you could think of I don’t already know.”
OS: In a world of bon-bons, you are a twinkie.
Ahnk: God damn you, I am Count Chocula and you know it.
I'm not spending my anniversary night thumping my head against the wall. - Damalis, on Moderating TRF
Then tell him you want it harder, damnit! - Ahnk, on Damalis
27  10:35pm 13/01/13        
The Slothful Padawan
As Ahnk made his way into the temple, Irtar sat on a step outside to wait for the all clear. The walk across the unstable forcefield had been disconcerting, to say the least. The field had already failed once, and, well...

Ahnk vanished within the darkness of that place, but Irtar sat to wait. "Well?" Ahnk yelled out from within, pressing him for the details.

“My family?” Irtar responded, raising an eyebrow. “I dunno. The files you had on me said the long and short of it.”

“Facts. Statistics. Not a family.” Ahnk replied from inside the temple. "Tell me what how the vessel that is Irtar Mal'Gro came into being."

Irtar pondered on that for a minute. Where to begin? What could he tell him that wouldn't be treading over territory that Ahnk already knew? He took a deep breath, and decided on where to start.

"Well, my father's always been a stern man. Not really any more controlling than any other father, but he always had in his mind a certain way a family should be run. Wasn't very confrontational, and preferred to keep to his own business. Why, despite the galaxy being at war for the past fifty odd years, he never signed up with either side." Irtar said, casting the odd glance up towards that darkness. "Wasn't an idealist. Just wanted a good yield, and respectable children. Encouraged us to mind ourselves as well."

"Guess I fucked that up, huh?" Irtar said, more to himself than Ahnk, with a laugh. "If he had his way, I'd have just been another simple farmer amongst thousands. Sensitive to the Force, true, but how many of them are there out there that just live their lives? Don't get pulled into this whole Sith versus Jedi, Empire versus Republic, Light versus Dark thing?"


"Right. Family." Irtar said, as he returned from his tangent. "Last I heard about my father, he was in the hospital. Dantari nabbed him apparently, and roughed him up a bit. Between that, and what happened with my mother? He wasn't doing too well. For all I know, he could be dead now..."

"I'm sure you're asking 'why don't I know'. Well, that'd be because of Indarin. My older brother." Irtar said with a sigh, leaning and cupping his chin with a hand. "Blames me for everything that happened. By rights, I do too. We were never REALLY close, growing up. We were brothers, true, but he always wanted to run with the older and rougher crowds. Never really wanted to spend time with me nor Thanos, my younger brother. Guess he considered between mom, dad, and whatever other troubles I could bring down on us, it was easier on him to just cut me off rather than deal with it all."


"Well, as for Thanos? He's a good kid. We always got along. Used to help him catch bugs when we were younger, though before I went to Naboo I more helped him games and getting holo feeds and the like. Not too much to do on Dantooine. You either stay inside all day, or you have to tread far out to find anything of interest." Irtar said, trying not to think too much on the life he had left behind him. "I tinkered to keep myself occupied, Indarin drank and rough housed at the cantina in the small town near where we grew up, Thanos stayed indoors, and Alldia kept herself busy with chores."

Silence. And now Irtar was starting to get worried.

"I hadn't told you much about her, did I? My little sister. Older than Thanos, who was the youngest. Didn't have too many friends, well none of us did. Like the animals though. Had a soft-spot for the nerfs and the like." Irtar said, standing up and looking anxiously at the temple entrance. "But I guess she was just a social girl without anyone to be social with, so she made friends with the livestock. Teared up whenever we had to send any off to be butchered. Dad always warned her against naming them, but she just couldn't help herself getting attached."

"And your mother?" Ahnk said, as he suddenly appeared from the darkness.

"She was my mother." Irtar said, with a nonchalant shrug, trying to play it off. "She was nice, looked after the house, and put up with us kids. So I take it you got the forcefields and stuff down then?"
28  1:55pm 25/01/13        
Blink If You Can Hear Me
Ahnk finished compartmentalizing what Irtar had told him, and nodded slowly. "Sometimes I regret being an only child," he said, "and sometimes I don't."

Irtar shrugged. "You asked," he said, and then looked around. "Ahnk, what are we doing here?"

Ahnk gestured to the door of the temple. "Doors," Ahnk said. "A fascinating thing, really. Did you know that when passing through a doorway, you forget about 40% of the time why you entered the room?"

"I'd heard that," Irtar said. "A theory that people live their lives in cubes and, when passing from one cube to another, they reset; and act on instinct again."

"It's why we theme rooms," Ahnk said. "Living room. Bed room. Bath room. Kitch... room. You get the point."

"And the theme of this place?" Irtar asked. "Wait, no, let me guess... it's death, isn't it?"

"There are different kinds of doors, Irtar. Some of them are locked and need keys to open. Some of them never close. And some of them, once you walk through, you can never escape from," Ahnk told him, cryptically. "Some things, once known, can not be forgotten just by walking through a door."

Irtar looked down, eyes closed. "I understand," he said, taking a deep breath.

"Not yet," Ahnk said, "but soon. And don't be upset that you don't yet understand. Sometimes, even I am confused."

Irtar snapped his fingers, and Ahnk looked at him expectantly. "Oh, I just had a feeling that you were making this all up as you went along."

Ahnk smiled, and then raised his lightsaber. "Open your left hand," the older Jedi asked of Irtar.

Irtar's reply was as expected. "...why?"

"Remember when I said, some doors only open with the right key?" Ahnk said. "The key is inside your hand. But unless you open your hand, you can't get in."

Irtar shook his head, but ultimately raised his hand. "Very well," he said. Ahnk raised his saber up further and then dragged it down, drawing the hooked blade at the end of the handle over Irtar's palm. Irtar flinched, but remained in place, as the blade effortlessly cut through his skin, pressing just deep enough to rupture the blood vessels in his palm. "A little warning would have been nice."

"Surprises keep things interesting," Ahnk said, raising the now blood-soaked hook to inspect. "Wait here," Ahnk said.

"I thought that whole slicing my hand open business was so I could get in," Irtar replied, somewhat frustrated.

"Patience," Ahnk said, before disappearing into the dark. After a few minutes, Ahnk called out his name, and Irtar began walking. When he passed through the stone doorway, he felt a familiar sensation; he was walking through a forcefield. He could feel it repulse but then slowly reverberate to allow him inside. "Sorry, I needed to enter your genetic pattern into the system here in order to allow you access," Ahnk said, eyes focused on the computer.

"Had you not?" Irtar asked.

"The forcefield would have been lethal; would have turned you into a pile of dust," Ahnk replied.

"Well, at least the mystery of where all this dust came from has been solved then," Irtar said. "Ahnk, what are we doing here?"

"Two men enter, two men leave," Ahnk said, as if to no one. He raised his eyes and caught sight of Irtar. "Ah, yes. You see, this was my most secure facility on this world. It was set up so that only myself and my trusted Sith could enter, and only ever in pairs. Two of us would enter and two of us would leave. If one tried to come alone, or leave alone, that one was killed. It was to ensure... balance. So that this facility was used in moderation... a measure of necessity."

"But what is it?" Irtar asked, cutting to the heart of the matter as always.

"I need to teach you something, Irtar. It won't be easy," Ahnk said. "It's a difficult lesson. In fact, I'm going to teach you the one lesson I have yet to learn."

Irtar frowned. "How can you teach me something you can't do yourself?"

Ahnk smiled. "Some things, Irtar, are easier said than done. I can show you what you need to do... even if I cannot do it myself. And, perhaps, in so doing, I can overcome the obstacle that has kept me from completing the task itself. Or maybe not. But I am an eternal optimist, Irtar; I live in hope."

"If you say so," Irtar said, having picked up the exact opposite impression. "So, you still haven't told me what this place is."

Ahnk gestured for him to come closer. "Put your hand on the display in front of us," Ahnk said, and Irtar did it. "Now, you have to gain access. Like me; Computer, Secure lift to subsection 4, on the authority of Ahnk Rashanagok, for purposes of maintenance and repair."

Irtar repeated the phrase and the computer beeped an acknowledgement. The stones the men were standing on began to lower as chains pulled them deeper into the world. "A secret elevator in a secret temple," Irtar said. "You are nothing if not a man of secrets, Ahnk Rashanagok." The former Sith nodded his head in affirmation. "But tell me... what is so important that you keep it here, amidst the forcefields, fake lakes, and dusty crypt?"

Ahnk turned to him. "If I told you, you were leaving the Pyramid Of Ashes and descending into The Temple Of Death, what would you expect to find?"

Irtar shook his head. "The obvious answer would be death," he said.

"Not death," Ahnk clarified. "We're going to where the rock of this world turns to molten magma, which causes geysers of steam to power reactors keeping safe the greatest secret I could ever hide... the means to immortality itself."
OS: In a world of bon-bons, you are a twinkie.
Ahnk: God damn you, I am Count Chocula and you know it.
I'm not spending my anniversary night thumping my head against the wall. - Damalis, on Moderating TRF
Then tell him you want it harder, damnit! - Ahnk, on Damalis
29  6:14am 27/01/13        
The Slothful Padawan
Irtar kept some pressure on his cut palm until the wound started to clot. He'd need to try and bandage it with something later, because nothing quite like an infection with some weird jungle disease to put his Jedi career on halt again. He didn't really have anything on hand, though.

"Immortality? Like some secret elixir or something?" Irtar asked Ahnk, raising an eyebrow.

"Nothing so simple. But then again, what is?" Ahnk said, keeping to his secretive ways. Irtar accepted that once again, he'd just have to wait and see this mystery unfold.

As the platform continued to clink and clank as it slowly made its way deeper into the crust of Yavin's moon. Silently they moved towards the roaring core. And the silence began to become oppressive, at least to Irtar. He could feel the cold fingers of the darkness of this place clawing at him, and the silence just left him time to dwell on it.

"So..." Irtar began slightly awkwardly, grasping for some sort of expected subject to fill the void. "How about your family? You said you were an only child?"

"Yes." Ahnk replied, not saying anything else. The silence began to drag out, obviously Ahnk wasn't planning on elaborating any further, at least not without being prodded about it.

"How was that?" Irtar asked, quickly realizing how stupid of a question that was. How was being an only child? He mentally chided himself. "I mean, I grew up in a fairly busy household and we were always getting into each other's space. And... y'know what, silly question."

"I didn't exactly grow up alone." Ahnk answered, despite Irtar's fumbling. "I spent a lot of my youth with other children... on the various worlds I lived on. I moved a lot. My father was... a prospector. I never stayed in one place long enough to form roots. Not until Yavin."

"Well, you dug your way halfway through the planet it seems like. So, I'd say." Irtar joked, trying to lighten the atmosphere of the temple. Even though the air around them was growing warming, the chill clung to him. Try as he might, the shadows still clawed at the fringes of his consciousness.

"Well, this all took a great deal of time..." Ahnk said as he ignored Irtar's attempt at humour. "I came to Yavin when I was... 14, must have been. Don't ask me how old I am now... the dying and coming back confuses even me sometimes. But it was a long time, and several lifetimes ago, that I found myself here..."

"And why did you stay? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some people find the sweltering heat and evil temples charming, but at fourteen I'd have been slightly put off." Irtar asked, honestly curious. This world had given him shivers ever since he arrived, and the deeper they got to this Temple of Death, the worse he was feeling. The feeling of the heat of the depths on his skin, and the dark chill on his soul just made his flesh crawl.

"I wasn't a man... I was only a weapon. " Ahnk continued, a look on his face that Irtar could only assume was contemplation. Perhaps a mix of sorrow, hinted with regret? "I'd watched my parents die... watched the Jedi try and explain why it had happened, how it came to be, why the Force takes and gives life... "

"And all I wanted to do was burn it. The Jedi, their temples, their excuses and their politics. I wanted to set fire to the galaxy and here... Yavin 4, home of the Brotherhood Of Sith... this was the perfect place for a weapon." Ahnk said, his tone never breaking. Whether it was trained, or that he had come to peace with it, Irtar could not tell. " All Exar Kun had to do was point me at who he wanted dead and, occasionally, ask me to stop."

And that's when it suddenly hit Irtar like a tonne of bricks. The reason why, despite everything, Ahnk had taken him on as an apprentice. Had Ahnk seen himself, in a way, in him? Had he seen the sorrow and pain his dark path had caused, and sought to correct it? Silence once again crept upon them. Irtar really didn't know how to advance from there.

How close had he come to walk that same path, he wondered. How close had he come to using his pain and regret, and to becoming a toy of a Sith or some other dark power? The sudden parallels of their life began to spread before him and he nearly felt a sense of vertigo overtake him.

But then, the elevator came to a stop, and his mind became grounded once more. The darkness had passed, to be replaced with the eerie glow of molten rock. The air was sweltering, and the feeling of the darkness inherent in this place was stifling. He could hear the still working and grinding mechanisms of this place. A great forge of sort, in a crevice of flame and shadows.

"Ahnk." Irtar said slowly, almost afraid to ask the question. As if mentioning the name would draw the attention of the shades of the past. "Who, or what, was Exar Kun?"
30  1:40pm 27/09/13        
Blink If You Can Hear Me
Metal grating, razor thin.

It crossed like so many small letters x. It seemed, from looking at it, almost hairs thin, and yet, somehow, in the pattern and the crossing, came rigidity and strength.

It was all that stood beneath the two Jedi as they walked; the only thing between them and the center of the planet beneath.

Of course, such words were an exaggeration; when one conjures up an image of the center of a planet, one thinks of churning fields of lava, tossed over thick chunks of ore left over from impacts millennia ago. The building blocks of a world, too deep under the world that had formed to ever be tempered, crushed under too much pressure to ever settle into something resembling the world above. Chaos lived here. Chaos, and beautiful, innocent monsters.

The center of most worlds was much more dull. On habitable planets, those fitting within the scales of what humans consider to be habitable anyway, is a solid core of ore. The ore is dense; dense enough to create a massive gravity field, strong enough to prevent anything built on the surface from leaving the surface but for massive chemical propellants ignited and focused for the task. Everything else offered only a momentary escape; flight for such fleeting seconds could barely be called flight at all.

No, this was not the core of Yavin 4. But it wasn’t very far from it.

“Exar Kun,” Ahnk mused. “In many ways, Exar Kun was the forge below.” Ahnk gestured to the lava beneath, hot enough to be felt through the thin metal grating. “In many ways, he, through violence and anger, turned me into the person I am today. I would not have the tolerance I do for pain… the ability to surround myself with violence and not feel internally injured came from years of being tortured into the warrior he wanted me to be.”

Ahnk stared into the churning magma beneath. “And I was… such an efficient assassin…”

Ahnk turned to Irtar, smiling. “He named his flagship Ntchwaidumela,” Ahnk told him. “In Krathari, it means he who greets with fire. It was named appropriately.” Ahnk recalled his time spent aboard the bridge of the vessel. There was not much in the way of negotiation. “I could tell you a story about appearing over Etti IV in an Eclipse Star Destroyer…”

Irtar was grinning, but Ahnk was rambling. He wrapped an arm around the younger man, leading him onward. “Exar Kun is one of a thousand memories I have that have made me who I am. It is like I was saying earlier, that all roads lead to here. We look back at mistakes and regrets but, without them, we wouldn’t be the person that we are… warts and all.”

Irtar nodded. “Master… why are we down here?”

“Maintenance and repair,” Ahnk said.

“I know that’s what you told the computer but…” Irtar trailed off.

He was left breathless as the rock face that had contained them suddenly opened, and for the first time, he saw it.

Row after row of steel and transparisteel. Each wrapped together to form a chamber about eight feet tall. Each chamber was linked to one beside it on the left, one beside it on the right, and one behind it. Irtar tried counting them but even guesstimating for the size of each row, he lost count rapidly as more and more seemed to appear as he craned his eyes.

“This is where you built your armies,” Irtar said, “when you were a Sith Lord.”

Ahnk nodded absently. “I haven’t made a clone here for some time… but, theoretically, I could. No, right now… this is an oversized hospital.”

“Hospital?” Irtar said. “I don’t understand.”

“In addition to creating a clone body,” Ahnk said, “each of these pods is capable of suspending a human being in a perfect state of cryogenic stasis. If one were to suffer incapacitating wounds, the kind capable of killing a human being, they could be placed in one of these containment tanks… the tank would provide all the nutrients they needed to keep their body alive with their cardiovascular functions slowed to the point of being barely noticeable… a perfect, medical coma. Capable of keeping someone from expiring indefinitely.”

“I don’t understand,” Irtar repeated. “Neither one of us is injured.”

Ahnk stopped. Irtar looked past him and saw that one of the canisters was fogged over; there was someone or something inside. Ahnk rested his hand on it. “When I was a student of Exar Kun, there was another apprentice there… Sek Archon. He considered himself to be my rival, but I knew better… I was more dedicated and more skilled. He had his uses… I used his dueling experience to better my own hand to hand skills, but he was never a true threat to my control of The Sith Brotherhood…”

Ahnk slowly trailed off. “But one day, a new student of The Order appeared. Her name was Aerith Johanason. She was… young, inexperienced with the force and life itself. She was… an irritant at first, needing more help than I had time for. But with Exar Kun gone pursuing larger matters, she became a daily companion; one of the few living people I would see, and interact with, on any given day.”

Ahnk reached back into the depths of his past. “One day, she asked me about The Jedi of Yavin. I felt that the best way to show her of them was to find The Lost City Of The Jedi… a city, buried beneath wars and overgrown foliage… used to terraform the planet after the original destruction of Exar Kun ravaged the world. The Lost City was said to contain artifacts and holocrons from the Jedi Order before it was devastated in the Mandalorian Wars. Such ancient knowledge could prove invaluable…”

Ahnk slowly began to slide his hand over the casing. “It was that day that Sek Archon chose to make his move. We brawled, him and I, and it became more of a war of attrition than anything else. Eventually, he was convinced he could not win… but by that time, the damage had been done. Before he got to me, he’d shoved Aerith off a small cliff… not high enough to kill her, had she not landed on the side of her head.”

As the fog wiped away on Ahnk’s hand, Irtar could make out the face of the woman beneath the shield… and the blood coating her face. “So now you know,” Ahnk said. “I’ve asked you what motivates you, so now you understand what motivates me… that which I’ve left behind. The dead and the dying. I owe it, to the faces of the dead, to the trail of corpses, and to the chorus of voices in my head. I need to repay my debt. To them.”

Ahnk turned, looking directly at the woman in the case.

“And to her.”

Then, after a long, slow sigh, Ahnk turned to Irtar. “And I can’t do it alone. I need your help.”
OS: In a world of bon-bons, you are a twinkie.
Ahnk: God damn you, I am Count Chocula and you know it.
I'm not spending my anniversary night thumping my head against the wall. - Damalis, on Moderating TRF
Then tell him you want it harder, damnit! - Ahnk, on Damalis