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Tales of a Selkath
Disclaimer: All is owned by Lucasfilm, except original characters. All references, paraphrases and the like are the property of those referenced.
"Aboard the Star Forge" by Jeremy Soule
"Up is Down" by Hans Zimmer
Chapter One; Homecoming
Quana stood by the Dantooine docking computer. He watched the Aurabesh text flicker across the screen like Kath hounds across the Dantooinian plains. The computer neatly categorized and organized the data, weaving it into a coherent mosaic of information. 30 total system trips, 27 trips to this planet, 19 leaving, 8 arriving. 7 commercial trips, 5 patrol trips,14 personal trips, and 3 Jedi trips. Out of the Jedi, two Quana knew. Ori Oulitsa and her master, Madji Urldis. According to Quana's friend, Republic guard Runa Ven, they had left on a mission to try and negotiate with the Colicoid Hegemony and try and persuade them to join the Republic.
Quana sighed. He had seen and heard too much of that planet from the hourly Holonet reports and hearsay from colleagues. After Colla IV seceded from the Republic six months ago, the Colicoid Hegemony had forced its protectorate world, Perion IX to also secede. However, as the Colicoid's on Perion were far more sympathetic to the Republic, the populace, largely made up of lower class workers, had revolted against their mother world's upper class masters and declared an embargo on all trade with Colla IV. This caused an economic crisis and subsequent militarization of Colla IV, and the aggressive, socialist elements of Perion IX to rise and take control of the planet.
Both groups hated Jedi, but for different reasons. The capitalistic, aristocratic Colla IV Colicoids loathed the Jedi for their simple, amaterialist philosophy and the labelling of a slave owning, cannibalistic, materialist lifestyle as of the "dark side". The socialist factions of Perion IX loathed the Jedi for their perceived elitism and non interventionist attitude, and their seeming obedience to the Republic. Quana laughed inside. Many had thought the Jedi to be a branch of the Republic, or even the same as the Republic, but in reality they were simply two distinct entities existing in symbiosis. Quana knew all too well that the Republic and Jedi often didn't agree, and often certain Jedi, or even entire Councils chose to disobey the will or laws of the Republic. But these were merely the quirks of a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
Quana heard the metallic drone of C5-B1, and listened to his droid assistants announcements.
"Sir, the Jedi ship arriving appears to be the property of Shorka Yojuk, the man you saw leave one week ago with his two fellow Padawans, Neema Bodrae and Marda Breel. However, our scanners are only detecting one lifesign on board. It is Selkath, which eliminates it being Neema and Marda, but the code used is indeed a Midicode, which only a Force sensitive would be able to telekinetically send it to our computers. Selkath Jedi are rare, even within our heavily populated Enclave. Either it is Shorka, or another Selkath, possibly a Dark Jedi. Should I authorise the ship to land?"
Quana turned and spoke to C5;
"Ask him to transmit the dormitory code. It is changed every month, so only a recent student would have access to it. No one has been lost in the past month, or Runa would of heard about it. If he doesn't have it, question him as to what he is doing on a Jedi ship. If he refuses to respond, activate one of the tractor beams and reel him in for questioning. Send a message to security, of course. Either we pick him up, pick up and arrest a danger to the Republic and Order, or find an unknowing force sensitive and introduce him to the Jedi Order. It's a win win situation."
"Yes sir." C5 replied, pushing buttons and throwing switches across the room. A transmission sound was made, then fresh text seemed to appear on another screen.
"The Midicode is correct sir. I have cleared him for landing. However, I would advise you do not try and approach him, as he has recently lost some friends. He was somewhat cold, even for a Selkath, over the comlink, in his overall tone. Of course, I am only programmed to understand the emotions of Humans and other common species. Selkath may possess a different range of emotions and may possess different understanding of said emotions and tones. I suspect the friends he mentions are his fellow Padawans. I know loss of a companion can be distressing for any sapient being, regardless of species, and as such simply wished to warn you. You may proceed if you wish."
Quana sighed. He was getting tired of young, uppity, angsty Jedi trying to run things their way. As a former city planner during the colonization of Dantooine, he was taught that one should leave politics and administration to the professionals. Giving such positions to those not trained in those fields was like giving a light saber to a non force sensitive. But these youngsters thought they could do politics better than the politicians. They were naïve, inexperienced in that field, and damn well didn't know when to mind their own business. Quana had heard that, rather paradoxically, some young Jedi had been rallying to join the Mandalorian Wars, under the pretext of loyalty to the Republic. This time, the youngsters were trying to run their own order, instead of the more cautious, experienced, masters. Politics was one thing, but the Force? Quana just hoped it wouldn't cause a split, like in the Exar Kun war. But hoping for the best was never an effective strategy..
The Jedi shuttle pierced the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. Shorka watched the exosphere, thermosphere, and mesosphere fly by him, then the stratosphere, then the Brith colony zone, then the troposphere, then down into the Enclave's main docking bay. He engaged its docking protocols, and watched from the cockpit as its three legs planted themselves in the area, locking down to the magnetic seals on the floor, and watching as its access ramp extended down, also placing itself firmly on the ground.
Shorka moved from the piloting deck down to the ramp deck. He walked down, solemnly, observing the beauty of the bay's Dantooinian construction. The simple yet beautiful patterns overlayed sturdy blocks of stone, all enrapturing the electronic bay door. He reached out through the Force, pushing the deck back into it's original position gracefully.
Shorka walked through the doors, feeling the doors open and close behind him. Through the hallway, he could see the beautiful fountain near the Enclave atrium, where calm waters spouted out, constantly filling the fountain. Jedi stood around the atrium, talking, whispering, meditating. A man sat along with an assortment of Padawans, helping them rise to heights dozens of metres in the air with self telekenesis, and keeping a Force eye upon all of his students, making sure that no stumble caused injury, and that no one was troubled.
The man lowered himself, his students lowering along in unison. Then, they all fell on their own feet, keeping near perfect balance, and then the man bowed. He spoke in a kindly, fatherly voice, telling them the intended meaning of his exercise, the lessons in the Force they had learned, and of his warnings of caution in the consequences of elevating oneself to a high too high. He then gestured for his students to leave, and they did, brown and gold robes flowing in all directions. The man approached Shorka, smiling. Shorka smiled back.
For this man was Jedi Master Zhar, Shorka's mentor and master, and to him a father figure. Zhar had been his guide since his first days at the Enclave, and had helped Shorka discover his remarkable force abilities. But despite the two men's smiles, the smiles both masked concern and inquiry.
Jedi Master Zhar Lestin focused his gaze upon his pupil, quietly studying him like a doctor studying a stack of medical papers. Likewise, Shorka subtly tried to avoid his master's gaze, not out of guilt or fear, but out of introversion. Even without his knowledge of Shorka, his mastery of the force, and his reputation for being the most personable of the Council, he could tell Shorka was troubled.
He himself was troubled, for he could feel the cold ichor of loss emanating from Shorka, and the flurrying eddies in the Force caused by his evidently severe emotions. He constructed his chosen words in a matter of seconds, carefully considering the possible circumstances Shorka may have been in, while maintaining his knowledge of the Force.
"Greetings again, my Padawan. It is a pleasure to see you back from Cardooine safe and sound. Clearly, you have been through some difficult things, things which have tested and trialed you. But do not focus on these things, focus on the now, on the future, not the past. However, I would advise you to meditate on such things if they indeed trouble you within the grove, where serenity and awareness are an essential part of survival. Of course, if you feel that is beyond you, you are welcome to continue our training session from where we left off around 3 weeks ago. Or alternately, you could talk to my fellow Council members for advice, if you have any fears or issues."
"Thank you, Master. I will meditate on this within the grove. I believe we could pick up my training midday tomorrow, if you will grant me some time for leisure and preparation. Master, I.."
Shorka trailed off and looked away, a spark of sorrow in his eyes.
Zhar thought, feeling a depressing current emanating from Shorka. By now, he already deduced that Shorka's fellow Padawans were dead. He tried to think what could of caused this, a mission that was going so stable and so well to derail into carnage and death? While he was very aware of the danger the Exchange posed, it would take more than common thugs to kill a Jedi, even a Padawan. Was it possible that the Exchange had been reviving their century old Ysalamiri smuggling operation, thought destroyed 20 years ago? But enough, he thought. He put these thoughts to the back of his mental buffer and replied;
"I will grant your request, my Padawan. Do not fear, for I understand you are in great pain after the loss of some of your fellow pupils. Perhaps you should talk to Master Nemo if you have trouble controlling your emotions. Master Nemo is, in addition to his main career here, an experienced trauma psychologist, with knowledge of the psychological makeup of nearly 10,000 species. He is also a skilled healer, and may be able to use his abilities to suppress any degenerative toxins in your Selkath system. Also, if you have any other questions or requests, direct them to him. He is more than a decade my senior, and certainly in many ways my intellectual superior." Zhar smiled, warmth and friendliness echoing from his face and voice.
Shorka sifted through his thoughts, then replied with an abrupt nod, turning and walking in the general direction of the Enclave sectional exit. The doors split at his presence, allowing him to walk to virtually any area of the Enclave. He then continued to stride past the richly crafted hallways, his cloak billowing as he walked.
Shorka came to the Enclave exit, where a watchful protocol droid stood at his post, recording with a personal touch every single piece of data collected from anyone exiting or entering the Enclave. The droid let him pass, the bulky doors opening like a Kaminoan ultrafan's fluorescent display emitter. He looked out over the outside of the Enclave, dozens of people dotting the beautiful gardens. Padawans and Knights passed by him, and an Agricorps member emerged from a side door and focused his attention upon a particularily lazy bunch of flowers.
Shorka then finished looking and moved along, ignoring the sight of Nemo in his peripheral vision. He walked across the pathway, his feet finally meeting the soft Dantooinian grass. Shorka paced across the grass, quickly leaving the main area and coming to a hilly junction. He edged away from a family of kath hounds, drawing up his hood to hid the sun from his face and walking up one of the hills.
He then walked down the hill again, lowering his hood. He saw the beautiful estate in the distance, decked in azure and gray, it's walls standing proud and high. He walked around the area, across the plasteel bridge, through the plains, until eventually reaching the stony meditation area at the core of the grove. He approached it, making sure that no other people or creatures were near enough to be affected by his meditation. He sat down, setting his arms in position and feeling the Force flowing through his body.
It seeped into his thoughts, reshaping and resetting them. Its influence corroded the fears and anxieties from his psyche, giving him a strange feeling of peace that was natural, yet slightly pained.
Then it hit. The Force retreated from his body, pushed away by some great emotion or force, leaving an aching emptiness in its wake. In its place flowed anxiety, mutterings, and despair. His own emotions damaged and fogged his focus, unbalancing his mind and body. These emotions danced around him like mad jesters, breaking down the bulwarks established by the Force, elevating his emotions and destroying his control ever further.
He then focused his mind into a mode of control and restraint, paralyzing his emotions temporarily. But endurance kicked in, and his bulwarks fell again, and this only heightened his fear and anxiety. He then called upon the Force again, and it flowed back in, annihilating the emotions and establishing order and calmness again.
Shorka breathed calmly in and out, realizing that despite the anxiety he felt, there had been no physiological effects. These emotions were purely from his own psyche, purely ethereal, and so was his battle with them. He then focused again, purging these negative emotions from his psyche further, like the Jedi Knights of old battling the Sith.
It had been several hours since Shorka Yojuk had begun his meditation. But still the feelings nibbled at him. He tried to purge them, but they still lingered, even when he pulled the Force in to him like a whirlpool. He eventually decided that he was trying to make too much progress too quickly, and stood his legs up, the Light Side protecting them from the aches of stillness and strain.
He walked, the sun having moved many degrees without his notice. He passed out of the Grove, walking throughout the area, not fearing the threats of Kath hounds or any worse beasts. He then continued to walk out, passing the bridge, the plains, the hills, and retracing his steps until reaching the Enclave.
It was still in the same state as always, eternal, drab, sturdy. 3 dozen Jedi, Padawans, Knights, and Masters all among them, flocked around the general area. Shorka made again for the main door of the western part of the Enclave, the doors shifting open to allow him through. He kept walking through the Enclave, eventually reaching a large elevator allowing him passage to the lower levels. He reached his hand towards a button near the elevators door, and pushed it gently.
A greyish screen above the button flickered into life, seemingly from nowhere. Displayed on the screen was an image of a lanky, 20something Human man, who stood up in a mildly disinterested manner from his mechanics magazine to speak to Shorka;
"I see ya, Shorka. Master Zhar's been requesting a little talk with you. Something about the Force and control of emotions. He's inside. Don't keep him waiting."
The man hit a button on his desk, and the elevator door slid open. Shorka walked in, the door instantly shutting behind him and the elevator already in motion by the time he reached the center of the room.
It took but half a second to reach the lower levels, at which the man, still displayed on another screen near another button on the interior of the elevator cart, hit the same button. The door slid open silently, and Shorka stepped out, walking towards the library, where he sensed his master waiting. And indeed he was, as the wizened Twi'Lek looked up to his pupil with friendly eyes and spoke once he had entered the archives.
"Greetings again, my Padawan. I trust your meditations have been productive?"
Shorka replied, emotions still wavering in his voice;
"Unfortunately not, master. My fears and anxieties are too strong for me to currently overcome. Perhaps the best solution for this emotional turmoil is to simply give it time."
"A wise suggestion. If we had any." Zhar replied, with a hint of humour in his voice.
"Well, you got me there. I suppose it's a real embarrassment, an adult Selkath on his way to knighthood being unable to quell his emotions for a second. Even Nallbesh can cloak his grief in a couple of hours."
"It is no shame to fail, but it is truly a shame to be unable to accept failure. Look into your mind Shorka, and think about your predicament in a rational manner. If you find yourself too distressed to do this, then please tell me immediately. An emotionally distraught Jedi is not a fully functioning one. That is precisely the reason our Order forbids romantic relationships"
Shorka sighed, with a hint of irritation in his watery tone.
"I am aware of that, master. I have already tried to."
"Then leave it, my Padawan. Leave it, and take your daily sustenance. Perhaps Padawan Ordina may be able to help you. He is an aspiring expert on the mind."
"Unfortunately, I did not see his vehicle in the system, master. He must not have returned from whatever mission his master had sent him on. Perhaps I should consult a more senior Jedi for such advice?"
"Thank you for informing me of such a development. I would advise not coming to an elder Jedi for advice until you have truly, absolutely, totally exhausted all reasonable options which may prove as a better remedy for your trouble. I speak this not in cold aloofness, but in the tone of a desire for your self improvement."
"I understand, master."
Shorka bowed his head, his hood slipping slightly above his neck. He picked it with his right hand and shifted it back to it's original position. He then continued his reply to his master with a tone of icy reverence;
"May I leave now?"
Zhar smiled with a distinct warmth even as his pupil barely spared him a glance and turned to walk back out of the room and through to the elevator. He watched Shorka be casually let in by the receptionist and rise up to again meet the outside world.
Shorka stepped out again and strode out towards the nearby mess hall..
7 HOURS LATER
"Ah, I see you have come, my Padawan."
"I'm never one to let you or anyone else down."
"An admirable quality, but one perhaps exploitable by an adversary of the galactic good."
"And you're never one to not be altruistic to the point of annoyance."
The two men bantered with each other in the pale moonlight, the silent candor like out of a Hyperspace War era romantic holofilm. But the agenda of these men was not a romantic interlude, but that of the Force.
"So, you called me to this session earlier because?.."
"I called you to this session at such an ordinarily inopportune time as I felt that perhaps it might be a good way for me to personally gauge your Force abilities and their relations to your psychological stress. As you are currently in a relatively balanced state of stress, this would be an ample time for testing, as opposed to a more anxious state in the middle of the day."
Shorka nodded, as though he had just been told the answer to a theorem he had been working on. Of course, it had been years since he had taken up academic pursuits, but the memories of his education still lingered.
Zhar spoke again, with what seemed like the attitude of a man 90 sure of control, and trying to keep emphasis on that 90;
"I'm sure you know the procedure, you are 28 after all, far beyond even adolescence. Demonstrate using those pots over there. You might annoy our gardener, but he's almost attached to victimhood, so let's make this a win win situation for him."
Shorka felt out using the force towards several terracotta pots in the darkness, all stacked horizontally, empty, dry, clean. He snatched them all up like a circus performer, passing the 8 containers around the area and gently rapping them together like drinks being toasted. He then passed them down around Zhar, having them rotate around his midriff. Zhar smiled in the darkness with an aura of satisfaction, and spoke;
"I sense you possess anxiety, but I'm sure that you'll get.."
Shorka couldn't bear repressing his true emotions any longer. He involuntarily dropped all of the pots, and shouted in his Master's face;
"NO! IT'S NOT GOING TO GET BETTER! THEY ALL DIED AND BECAME PART OF THE FORCE! ALL OF THOSE PADAWANS, PEOPLE I GENUINELY KNEW AND LOVED, DIED! AND I'M SUPPOSED TO REPRESS THIS IMMEDIATELY? I CAN'T TAKE IT!"
Shorka seemed to weep as he shouted and felt himself guiltily wail.
Zhar maintained his cool, despite his pupils extravagant antics. Shorka almost immediately spoke in his normal tone again;
"Forgive me master, I.."
"You have done very well, my Padawan. You have done very, very well.."
Zhar placed his hands on his pupils shoulder, trying to neutrally comfort him;
"It's okay, Shorka. It's okay. Few Jedi have gone through experiences like yours, having so many friends killed so brutally and so unfairly and accidentally within a few seconds. In fact, if I had the authority, I would tick your "Trial of the Spirit" off just for managing to keep in one piece for so long."
"Do not reward me for my failings, master. That is not the Jedi way!"
"The Jedi way is to rebuke, but it is also to reward endurance. And you have certainly shown it. If several people whom I had known for most of my life and loved like family were killed, brutalised and tortured by fauna through my own error before my own eyes with the terrible foreknowledge of being unable to do anything and the forcing of circumstance into watching and at no fault of their own, I would be sad too. We have little time before your evaluation, but I believe that, based on what I heard from a colleague of mine, someone who went through your experience and has behaved so well mere hours after such an incident would earn a medal in any religion or military."
"Do not patronise me, Master. Though I am a Padawan, I am not a child."
"A bit of parental guidance never hurt any religious believer. You don't have to accept it, my Padawan. But I would appreciate it if you at least considered the possibility."
Shorka withdrew his expelled phlegm and mouth scum like an obscene painting and spoke up;
"Master, the Jedi Code is our highest devotion.."
"Even the Muun obey the law" said Zhar. "It is the spirit in which the law is interpreteted, along with a correct direction for that spirit, which matters."
Shorka fell silent for what seemed like an hour, contemplating a thought out and proper response to such an answer. Finally, he spoke;
"You are correct, master. Forgive me."
Zhar spoke with a kindly warmth;
"Forgive me, my padawan. It is clear I have been too overeager to advance my own career and your training, in hope of advancing us both. I did not see the bigger picture."
"Do not blame your"
Zhar cut Shorka short;
"Accepting responsibility, Shorka, is one of the greatest virtues any person can have. The courage to accept that you have failed and you need help is the greatest strength of all. Remember that."
"I will master." Shorka said, having heard similar words only a few hours earlier.
"Do you wish to continue our training, master?"
"No. I believe that you should simply return to your quarters and send your mind to other places until a time arrives that such activity is needed. You are released, my Padawan."
Shorka turned away, his mind lost in thought.
5 HOURS LATER.
Shorka stirred. He seemed to be in some sort of city, a city in a canyon with thousands of humanoid inhabitants. He paced towards the city, reaching it in a mere 3 seconds. But this was impossible. No one could walk that far that fast, save perhaps at the highest level of exertion from a High Council member. But even the combined power of 10 Padawans could not equal that speed. He saw the inhabitants more closely, carrying about their own business. They seemed to be half hooded, the top halfs of their faces hidden by veils. They did not seem to notice Shorka, and when he tried to chase after one the world seemed to stretch between them.
Then there was a bang that seemed to be enough to cause Shorka's ears to implode, but it only caused the deaths of several of the humanoids, and Shorka did not feel any pain. Shorka then heard yet more bangs nearby, and turned. There was an enormous dust cloud reaching beyond the clouds and several similar clouds still visibly hundreds of kilometres away. He saw a black object in the sky, and an enormous electrical surge mighty enough to penetrate one of the clouds. It seemed to meet another, much larger surge, that of a turbolaser, and caused an annihilatory blast large enough to disintegrate a town. Then, the bangs stopped, and the entire world seemed to lie still. There was a rapid pounding, and an elegant black craft seemed to emerge from the heavens. It hit the ground with a simple thud, and seemed completely unharmed. It opened itself like a wound, and out of it stepped a black..
The entire universe seemed to implode, and Shorka came flooding back to consciousness.
It was a dream.
Shorka lay sweating in his quarters, trying to comprehend the terrible nature of what he had just seen. Being careful to not wake any others in the quarters area, he gently walked up to the door and drew up his hood for stealth. He entered his private dormitory code, and the door slid open. Shorka was sure someone would be on guard, but it seemed the guard were out discussing shift changes, at least by the presences he felt in the Force. Shorka then felt something bizarre. He seemed to be able to reach out and speak to the presences he felt. He send a simple message of greeting to one of them, and sensed a sudden turmoil and confusion. He could physically hear whispers of confusion and inquiry, and heard footsteps around the courtyard. He then stepped out and saw them clearly, though they could not see him in the darkness, and even if they could they could only identify a hooded creature in a brown robe. He sent out another message, and it was clear;
"Sorry, it's Shorka. I'm near the dormitory."
Immediately the two guards turned looking like they had seen a ghost. They saw Shorka, and Shorka lowered his hood, more clearly in the night showing his fishlike silhouette. He spoke;
"Sorry about that. I had a bad dream."
He heard utterances between the two men and then one of them spoke;
"Just get back to your dormitory and have your freaky dreams in peace, Mr Yojuk. And stop scaring Ernald."
Shorka spoke apologetically;
"Sorry, about causing you trouble and all. I won't do it again."
"That's fine Shorka. Just let me and Vikrand do our job and we'll let you do yours."
Shorka turned and walked back to his dormitory. None had stirred.
1 WEEK LATER
Shorka had not told anyone about his disturbing vision. Any attempts at inquiry by his master or other superiors he simply met with brushing off and meditation. But it had still troubled him. And his masters could sense that.
As such, Shorka had decided to tell Master Nemo the full details of his vision today. He had scheduled himself to meet Nemo in his quarters around 1300 hours. Now was the 79th second of the 1259 hours. Shorka put his foot forward from the courtyard, it touching the floor like a historic artifact exactly at 1300 hours. He continued to walk around the Enclave, seeking the quarters of the Masters. He eventually found the complex, being met with a fierce looking robot guard;
"What is your business here, Padawan Yojuk?"
"I'm going to see Master Nemo about a dream I've had."
"Why did you not book an appointment?"
"I was uncertain."
"Why were you uncertain?"
"I was uncertain because I was afraid that he would think I was tainted by the dark side?
"Why were you afraid he would think you were tainted?"
"Because.. the vision I had involved a dark spectre. Possibly a force entity."
"Analyzing physiology.." the droid said, blasting over Shorka with bright lights.
"You are telling the truth. Pass."
Shorka walked forth as the droid gave way, and walked over until he reached an office marked "Nemo". He put his face and hand up to their respective scanners, light blasting into them and scanning. The door slid open, saying in a mechanical voice;
"Welcome, Shorka Yojuk."
Shorka saw Nemo watching a holoscreen and concentrating on a boulder formation, and gradually shifting the rocks away to let an evidently nearby valley be flooded. Shorka waited for this event, and after 11 long minutes finally saw Nemo meet his goal. Nemo turned almost prophetically, and noticed Shorka;
"Greetings, young Yojuk. Have you come for advice, or have uou kindly come to help a powerful old man perform mental feats with the essence of all life?"
"I wish I could say it was the latter, sir." said Shorka.
Nemo spoke again, in a friendly yet somewhat disappointed tone;
"I knew it would be that. Ah well, I suppose some other day.."
The Jedi master turned and faced Shorka.
"I sense you are troubled. I sensed this 3 days ago. I sense this now. I also sense you wish to impart the cause of your trouble upon me. By all means, do. I am here to help."
"I have recently had a disturbing vision. More specifically, around midnight one week ago I encountered a vision of myself walking.."
Shorka took a few minutes to recount his vision in minute detail, then sat down.
Nemo looked furtive, like a hermit disguising fear in the guise of eccentricity;
"Well, that is.. interesting my Padawan. And.." Nemo leaned closer.
"Disturbing. I am an expert on stress, but not an expert on visions. Perhaps you should seek.."
"Master Tokare" finished the men simultaneously, and Shorka spoke again;
"Thank you master Nemo. I shall seek out Master Tokare now, if I have your permission."
"Of course you have it. I'm Nemo, not Vrook."
Shorka turned and smiled. Nemo whispered;
"Of course, you didn't hear that."
Shorka walked out of Nemo's office, on his way entering the 13 digit time locked security code and passing out of the complex casually. He walked out in the Enclave for 15 minutes until reaching the waterfall and finding the entrance to the Council Chambers. The door was currently sealed, and a crowd had gathered outside for numerous consultations. Shorka slid through the crowd near the front, and continued to casually wait. Further commotion was breaking out in the crowd;
".. wasn't a Kath Hound involved in that particular.."
"..and to think that a newly minted knight could so quickly be appointed to the rank of Admiral!"
"Did you hear Chancellor Lih's private address to the Corpustha Conference? Interesting plans.."
"..the council really needs to delegate.."
"..with his own sister!"
"..all that was left was the carbeureutor on her speeder bike.."
"..at the Zabrak's, stupid ruralist bigots.."
"Hypocrisy is not a Jedi trait, my.."
"..love affair with a droid!"
"..he told me to shove it after I had offered the ungrateful cur some help!"
farmers and Human farmers at it again.. that'll be the headlines, I
"Anyone OFF planet here?"
"Nosyness is not a Jedi ideal.."
"Oh, bollocks to your ideal of the ideals. We are not robots!"
"I knew the lowering of Padawan candidacy to 16 was a mistake.."
"..then he said "Spank.."
"No war for racism! Tell Supreme Chancellor Lih Vilton to cease.."
"NO politics, Ro'z Darnel!"
Shorka just let the acolytes bicker among themselves, not out of a sense of apathy, but out of a sense of a deep feeling in his stomach that he could only worsen things. Shorka continued to wait and meditated on his visions.
Suddenly, there was a pneumatic hiss, and the Council Chambers slid open for but a second before abruptly shutting again. Shorka knew it would be a while before he would be allowed in, and simply stood and ignored the further chattering of the crowd;
"Midgets in spacecraft hijacking a concert in a.."
"..homosexuality is still controversial in Belderone.."
"..finally, some off planet.."
"Hey! This ain't your private.."
"The bodies were everywhere.."
"..I then paid him the 800 credits for the droid repairs of the.."
"..judiciary here is bloated for a rural one.."
"..Jedi courts? Politics are and should be alien.."
"..don't use that term, it's offensive.."
"..politics should be what? Yeah and Czerka shouldn't be corrupt.."
"..how could you possibly have travelled that fast in a A-12?
"..ethnic prejudices.. bunch of morons.."
"..I saw that old woman once.. charmer.."
"..out of the hood, came a damn gush.."
"..dumped it in the valley.."
"..kept pressuring the Council to take a stand, apparently.."
"..I got an email reply from Revan's secretary.."
"..Duerf books on sale at that place. Quite a good.."
"..Nerfs in leather? Perish the thought!"
40 MINUTES LATER
It had seemed like an eternity, but around 2/3rds of the waiters had now been and left, with mixed looks of satifaction, frustration and cynicism on their faces. Now, it was Shorka's opportunity to enter. The door slid open and he slid in slyly, watching it snap down so quick that if he had been but a second too slow, he would of torn his cloak. But this sense of harmless danger was nought but a glaring reminder of the extreme professionalism of the Jedi Order and of modern technology. The fact that one could casually and effectively maintain an operation of such precision and professionalism was a label of differentiation between the Rims.
Shorka walked forth among the well lit corridors, light flowing in everywhere. He entered the Council chamber where the Masters stood as silent and watchful as stone guardians, but yet with an air of professional friendliness. Shorka walked up to this grand tribunal and spoke to its head, a short, greenish-turquoise man of an unknown tridactyl race dressed in a simple blue tunic. This man was called Vandar Tokare, and he spoke with a croaky yet calm and authoritative voice;
"Greetings, Padawan Shorka. I see you wish to directly consult me. What is it you seek?"
"I have had a vision.."
Vandar looked intrigued, his ears subtly lifting up, as if this was a topic he loved to discuss;
"Tell me when this vision occurred, what happened in it, and what you think it means. All three of those are very important factors in my interpretation of your vision."
Shorka then described his vision, the circumstances surrounding it, and his meeting with Nemo in vivid detail to the old Master. By the time he had finished, it had become clear to him that he had far exceeded the allotted time allocated to most students, and he swallowed meekly. But he did not detect any anger, boredom or frustration from the Council, but merely interest and worry. They seemed to take in every detail, gazing at each other in a coded manner, exchanging incomprehensible looks like a gaggle of babbling executives. Then, Vandar spoke as though he was a mouthpiece and the rest of the Council was the mouthpiece's user;
"I and the rest of the Jedi Council found your vision to be.. interesting. It is most certainly a matter of concern for us, but at this time it appears that your vision has the characteristics of a distant one. Therefore, we are not pursuing immediate action on your vision, but do advise you in the strongest terms to not try and prevent it. The vast majority of prophecies are self fulfilling, the Force using sapient emotion to Its own ends. Do not try and prevent these events from occurring, or you may indeed find that you cause them…"
Vandar glanced towards several other Council members, with yet more hidden conversation. Shorka did not dare to pry into their minds, for in their presence he felt a great familial respect for them. Shorka waited and wrung his hands until Vandar, after several more seconds of silent communication, finished his sentence;
"Indeed. You may cause fulfill your own vision by acting on it. Go, my Padawan."
There was a sense of haste in Vandar's voice, but Shorka did not question the old master, but merely obeyed and turned, slipping out the same way he had come, ignoring the rather annoyed looks of some Padawans towards him and the banter of the Jedi youth. Shorka walked through the Enclave again, contemplating his future actions.
1 WEEK LATER
Over the week, the previous mood of loneliness Shorka had felt had not dissipated, but at least at it's end he felt a greater degree of comfort in the camaraderie of his fellow Jedi. He sat in his personal quarters, sipping at some alcoholic beverage and nibbling gradually at an enormous cut of sushi, an obscure food from the distant planet of Kamino, a planet maintaining an unusual relationship to the Republic via a black hole near the edge of their system, which enabled the planet to be connected to the known galaxy. However, the dangers of the surrounding cosmic phenomena unfortunately prevented Republic survey teams from exploring the unknown areas around Kamino.
Regardless of such politics, Shorka continued to gnaw at his food, contemplating past events. He was in the middle of speculating on the specific ingredients of his last piece of sushi when suddenly the door slid open. Shorka was too busy to have noticed someone coming, and thus was quite surprised. He was about to inquire when he noticed the person stepping in was his old friend Ordina. He stood up and finished his sustenance before offering a hand to his friend. Ordina obliged, shaking Shorka's hand and smiling with Zhar-like warmth.
"How are you doing, old friend? I heard you were in trouble."
"I am, friend. But first, I must tell you about this excellent new food I have found. It's called sushi, and it is imported from Kamino.."
Shorka's Bothan friend shook his head;
"Kamino.. never heard of.. ah, is it that particular system discovered about 4 months ago by that fellow.. what's his name.. Lieutenant Onasi? Yes, I heard about it on the news. Quite interesting really, having a route to the edges of the known galaxy and yet not being able to peer. Like having a key to the front gate of a shadowy house but no keys to enter the house itself. Still, quite interesting stuff. Has anything happened while I've been gone?"
"Well, there's been a lot of things. I heard while waiting to consult the Council about ethnic conflicts in rural areas, and something about one of our own rising to Admiral quite fast.."
"Well, I've seen both. The Humans and Twi'Leks in Zone 4 are at each others throats over land rights to a new orbital station proposed by Mayor Gipvir. Quite serious stuff actually, the station would be funded by a 2 year tax hike.. of course, no one wants that, but if they are going to have it, they want in on the profits.. as for the admiralty.. well, there's over 23 Jedi currently in active military service. 10 of them are colonels, 3 of them captains, 7 generals, and only 3 are admirals. Not too sure, I'd have to look up Holobureau 22. Probably Revan though. Seems the Force is having a love affair with him, let alone the press and politicians. But I've been in politics for too long, and came to escape such uptight babble and have some good clean fun with an old friend! But of course, we first have the issue of your problem.."
"Yes, it is quite the pressing one."
"I have been conducting extensive amounts of training into the subject of mind manipulation. Ordinarily, this sort of thing is quite controversial as a Padawan level studying subject, but with a war on and the massive crime wave hitting the Outer Rim, the High Council has left the level of it's teaching to individual Sector Councils. As such, our Council has elected by a narrow vote to allow it. Therefore, I have been able to continue my studies uninterrupted in the Lipo Arch. There, I have been studying the influence of Force energy on wildlife, and attempting to influence the overall behaviour of the wildlife via reward and punishment. Near Lipo Arch lies the river of Phylis, which contains some rather agitable fish. I coordinated with my Master to try and calm the fish by sending out long range waves of basic energy as reward or punishment. The reward would provide the fish with greater activeness and awareness. The punishment would cloud the vision of the fish. There was a major migration from across the lake last week, due to weapons testing nearby by the city of Tepsos' militia. As such, I and my Master had to exert a more powerful wave to handle these migrators and breeders, and some of it went so far."
"As to actually reach my location, and your reward targeted me as a fish and ironically ended up causing hyperawareness and forced me to go exploring the depths of my psyche. I see." Shorka said.
"Exactly." Ordina spoke with a degree of triumph at Shorka's realization.
"You got it exactly. However, the effect should wear off by the end of the month. If it doesn't, consult.."
Ordina paused, a hint of hesistation furring his brow.
"Consult who?" Shorka said inquisitively.
"Consult a certain Jedi Admiral who is not Revan and happens to be connected with him and happens to be visiting this week. Of course, I'm not suggesting you seek the advice of such a controversial figure, any contact you may initiate with said Admiral is purely coincidential, and I will not be held responsible for the consequences of said coincidential contacts result. Understand?"
Ordina's tone returned to usual, and he spoke cheerfully;
"So, want to go out for a walk? Now that the confidential stuffs out of the way, perhaps we could discuss.. lighter matters?"
Shorka smiled, his bony teeth showing;
"I'm with you, buddy."
3 WEEKS LATER
Shorka's knighting had gone ahead. It was a quiet ceremony, and did not truly put an end to his anxiety, but at least it helped take his mind off it. Zhar was present at the ceremony, and spoke to Shorka afterwards in concern, almost as if afraid. Then, it was the last day of the month.
Shorka stirred yet again. He floated in an environment neither paradisial or hellish, a cold, grey dreamworld where all was cloudy and nought was clear. Then, there was a noise seemingly from nowhere, and a tsunami of energy washed over Shorka. Then, he was in the same spot as he had been in the beginning of his previous vision. The same events played out, and this time Shorka tried to reach out and see them, but it seemed like he was rooted to the same positions he had walked in his vision. Then, at the point where his vision had previously halted, everything went white, but the whiteness faded away into grey and he headed back down, reaching down some invisible tunnel and eventually passing through a great white ring.
He then saw a vibrant, starry sky and the setting of an impossibly bright sun. Shorka expected his eyes to burn out, but the pain of looking was still sustained to absolute perfection, and he found his mouth unable to give off any more than echoes. He then turned his eyes downwards, and paced across the desolate landscape. The desert he had seen before was gone, replaced by.. granite, or something similar. Then, Shorka saw from the sky an enormous fleet of shadowy ships, approaching the planet. There was a wave of ethereal energy again, and Shorka found himself rooted at the base of a cliff, unable to move a muscle, fixated entirely upon the shadowy sight of a huge battleship, landed upon the cliff opposite.
Shorka's eyes then started to obey their master again, and he stared down to see a silhouette of a Human man in a space suit, accompanied by a small army that seemed to be his personal guard, and giving a speech to his subordinates. The Human male then picked out a small device, pressed a switch, and a small figure lit up. This figure was an older, more grizzled Human man swarthed in black, who appeared for but a second before pressing some invisible button and another figure..
Shorka's body exploded, but no residue remained. There was simply the same ring, and he stood in this purgatorial state for what seemed like eternity. Then, he backed up and out of that tunnel and then out of that greyness, and then was in the same spot he was before, eyes rooted upon an ancient flagpole which the suited Human man was grasping and manipulating and lowering an unknown flag which was obscured by the darkness, floating down. Shorka's eyes then released themselves and followed the new flag up into illumination. The flag then rose up and..
Shorka awoke, seemingly jolted awake by a physical force. He awoke to see an old woman in his quarters, dressed in simple workwomans clothing. The woman, a Yam'rii, spoke apologetically to Shorka;
"I'm sorry to wake you up, young man. I was simply doing my nightly rounds for.. contraband checking and I accidentally dislodged one of your possessions while reaching over to run a data scan. I'm terribly sorry for the invasion of your privacy, but there's been rumours of a Ysalamiri smuggler being sighted near the Enclave and these little endangered critters.. well, they.."
Shorka spoke to the old woman;
"Carry on your duties, my dear lady. Just let me sleep."
The woman spoke, relief in her no longer wavering, high voice;
"Thank you, young man. It's rare to find such a gentleman nowadays, even amongst the ranks of the Jedi.
Shorka rested his head back on his bed and drew his hood up, dozing off again.
9 HOURS LATER
The council had no advice. Ordina had already offered his. And the time had come. Shorka stood at Dock 1, dockmaster Quana standing by him. Many of the Enclave had wanted to come, but did not out of fear of the impact it would have in their relationship with the Council. But a minority was bold enough to make this move, to meet with such a controversial figure, to go beyond the boundaries. And Shorka was there for some advice.
Shorka turned to Quana;
"No offense, sir, but shouldn't you be at your station?"
Quana replied, a look of satisfaction on his face;
"I've got this whole thing planned out, mate. You don't think I'd want to annoy an Admiral of the Republic Navy, would you? Especially an Admiral who's also a star student both here AND on Coruscant. I'd sooner marry my own droid."
Quana smiled even wider, thinking of C5-B1's reaction to such an invocation. Lots of weirdoes and perverts lived around the Galaxy, but only a handful were on Dantooine. Hopefully, the Jedi would keep it that way.
Shorka watched the shuttle blast down, with nary a trace of smog to mark its descent. There was a silence, then a large ramp extended down, the owner of the transport walking down as it went. Malak, garbed in red, his robe swishing with the wind walked alongside several other men in elaborate uniforms lined with medals.
Shorka did not recognise these men, but presumed them subordinates of the Admiral. Malak continued to pace down along with his subordinates and seemed to glance at Shorka for a brief second with his bright brown eyes, but then continued to walk down until the silence was broken by a small flurry like a mob of journalists, and many other Jedi began to seek the Knight's advice, some of it quite odd;
"Honourable Admiral Malak, is it true that there's a place in a Mandalorians helmet, that when it is hit by a blaster, it will explode?"
"Honourable Admiral Malak, is Honourable Admiral Revan nice in person to you? I heard he's a bit sensitive about his height."
"Honourable Admiral Malak, how many medals does it take to trigger electromagnetic phenomena in light bulbs."
Shorka continued to watch, and looked at Malak, sharing a look of incredulity at the strangeness of some of the Padawans questions. Most of them, however, were simply requests for joining the cause, which Malak seemed to hesistantly egg on, cautious of his surroundings. Malak then finally turned to Shorka, and the Selkath explained his visions and situation.
The Admiral stood silent for several minutes, as though such a question was one his intellect was starving to receive. He then muttered something under his breath and whispered something into the sleeve of his robe for several minutes and then produced a holographic device, which switched and showed the hooded and masked figure of his master.
"My fellow Knight, I must say that what you are describing is disturbing."
Revan raised his voice;
"Disturbing indeed, to all of us."
The other Admiral paced with a youthful enthusiasm that seemed completely strange for a man of 28, his cloak flying as he went;
"Disturbing enough, in fact, to give this Knight here, a medal!"
The crowd of students talked in confusion, but were silenced by Revan's next words;
"A medal, for alerting us all! Alerting us all to the danger we face if we fail! Alerting us all to the danger the Mandalorian menace presents to us, to our culture, be we Jedi or non-Jedi! The universal, relentless danger which these barbarians present and yet your Masters close their ears, close their eyes to the devastation and destruction of innocents and their homes, the very same innocents, the very same homes we are charged by the Jedi code to PROTECT!"
Revan spoke again;
"While the Masters twiddle their comlinks and sit on their comfy couches in their lofty apartments, men, women and children are being slaughtered every day by this relentless beast, this leviathan of Chaos! Billions of soldiers march to their deaths every day because of the selfish sloth of these doddering pacifistic doofuses!
I apologise for interrupting the humdrum of your lives, the humdrum pleasures which I enjoy as much as any man! But this man's vision is but a commemoration of a real phenomenon! I suspect, even now, orders are being tattered into comlinks, and billions of armoured brutes shall be marching across barely a few sectors away right now. Why? Because they are warriors, purely devoted to the language of action! The language of action always endures, but the strongest words are the words of action!
Massacres, slaughters and hatred of all decent civilization. And where you once were able to go and defend your country, the pacifists, appeasers, spineless weaklings now coerce you to tow their line until they cease their own moral blindness. How did this happen? Who's to blame? We, the Knights and Padawans are! All it takes for complacence to triumph is for the noncomplacent to do nothing.
I know why. Who wouldn't? You respect your masters, as I once did. But your respect turned to blind worship, and you toed the party line of Atris and her ilk. She said we should not act, that we should not get involved, that it would lead us down the dark side!
I now come to end this silence, to end this complacence. I come to open your eyes to the horror that is done, as have been opened the eyes of dear Mr. Yojuk! I come to remind you that responsibility, honour, decency, guardianship and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.
So, if you see nothing, if the crime of the Council remains invisible to you, then pass this day with nary a thought. But if your eyes have been opened, if you now see the terrible, invisible crime committed by our once great Council, then join the Republic Army! Join us, and defend the Galaxy like the Jedi Knights of old! Join us, for FREEDOM!"
Shorka listened to the cheers breaking out amongst the small crowd, then spoke;
"How long did it take you to.."
Shorka then stood, his mouth agape like he had been struck by a weight.