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Officer of the Republic (A SW SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by GSpectre, Jan 4, 2017.

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  1. Threadmarks: 5.1
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “Disturbing, this is,” Yoda stated sharing a knowing look with Mace Windu. Skrath had expected to be reporting to the Council as a whole, but when his Preliminary Findings Brief had hit the Temple's intranet, he had been summoned to report to just the Council Master and Order's Grandmaster.

    “Dooku has gone further than I would have ever expected him to,” Mace's lips were drawn into a tight line. Despite his self-control a touch of anger was leaking into his force presence. Skrath wasn’t happy about that, because it meant he had missed something in his investigation. Yes, the Republic re-militarizing could be seen as in defiance of Ruusan, but given the unrest and certain escalation clauses it hardly merited anger from the Jedi. If anything, they could use this to lift a few of the more dangerously obsolete provisions of that reform that had allowed the Naboo Crisis to get as bad as it did, a good thing in his mind.

    "Always too involved with the political game, Dooku is." Yoda bowed his head, sorrow infusing his being. “That he turns his knowledge against us, a blow this is.”

    “Masters?” Skrath raised an eyebrow at that pronouncement.

    “He couldn’t have accomplished this alone,” Mace let a bit of his frustration leak out. “It would take two Masters to release those funds, at least from our side. We should not have been blindsided like this; if anything the reports on our finances should have caught that much money being moved around.”

    “Smart they were,” Yoda also ignored Skraths implied question. “Historical Accounts, audit regularly we do not. A decade schedule we keep.”

    “And he would have known that,” Mace bowed his head, then shook it like a nerf shooing off a particularly annoying fly. "Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to recall enough Investigators to put our own house in order and track down where the outside funding is coming from before the muckrakers and conspirators in the Senate get wise to this. I know we didn’t have enough in those accounts to pay for everything that Knight Kri and his Padawan have uncovered. We raided those funds several times over the centuries to keep the Order solvent when the Senate was being particularly obtuse.”

    “Failure, of our Order this was,” Yoda’s ears flattened as he said that. “Entrusted to us, those funds were.”

    “If the funds you are talking about were depleted just by the operating costs of the Order in particularly lean years, then there is no way in the nine Corellian Hells that they were used to actually do what we found.” Skrath’s blocky face took on an appearance of granite. “How certain are we that those funds were used?”

    “The initial account set up had at least some contributions from the Historical Accounts,” Mace said, his face mirroring a thunderstorm. “That is the reason you are reporting to just myself and Yoda at this point in time.”

    “Point you have,” Yoda acknowledged softly. “Situation we must deal with now.”

    “We cannot afford to alienate the reformers at this point in time, they would take their grudge to the Senate and that would sink us all.”

    “Senate, or Chancellor, already aware,” Yoda said continuing in his softest voice.

    “I… had not considered that,” Mace sighed as he said that. “More Investigators, more investigations into the Senate. Just what we cannot afford at this time.”

    “Necessary it is.”

    “Masters, I do not understand your worry,” Skrath finally interrupted the two. Their back and forth hadn’t gone completely over his head, but he didn’t see the danger that they evidently did.

    “Against future needs, these accounts were established,” Yoda decided to answer him. “Funds set aside should the peace hold not.”

    “Are we rearming though? I doubt the Council ordered such…”

    Mace put up his hand to forestall the Investigator, "There were no votes in either the High or full Council on invoking the escalation clauses. With the Trade Federation disarming in accordance with the sanctions and the Senate mired in internal scandals, this rearmament will appear to be a direct violation of Ruusan in reaction to the Naboo Crisis. With the future already clouded and the actions of Dooku only tying our hands, we are in a politically vulnerable position."

    “But this was a Senatorial commission? Or at least that’s what the initial authorization codes are,” Skrath frowned as he tried to understand how this could be construed as the Jedi Order's fault. Or if this even was a real issue. Rearming now made sense to him, especially given the rumblings from the rim he had heard about secession from the Republic. He couldn’t have been the only one to notice, especially not if this massive project had been authorized.

    “True, but the Jedi were entrusted as the custodians of those accounts. We were to act as the final brake on the Senate should they go overboard, or decided to renounce Ruusan without proper debate,” Mace’s voice was flat as he said that. “It is a charge we have now failed.”

    “Have we though?” Skrath tried to think like a politician and grimaced as he failed miserably. “Couldn’t we just send a short note to the Chancellor explaining that there is a proper procedure to go through should he want a mission accomplished, and going behind the Council's back directly to a specific Jedi is not that? Especially if the mission he wants to accomplish results in a Jedi resigning in disgust?”

    “On the Council, Dooku was. Responsible for his actions, we are.” Yoda's voice was grim.

    “I would like to,” Mace seemed lost in his own little world as he continued. “Oh, how I would like to. It’s a bad idea though, we can’t afford to weaken the Chancellor at this point in time. He’s neck deep in Krath hounds and sinking fast trying to fix the Senate. If we had a clear indication from the Force, I would do it in a heartbeat, but we don’t so we must be cautious here. Besides, he isn’t the only one who could have issued this order, any chair being of any Senatorial committee on security could have issued the order if he had a supermajority of his committee agree to it. It would not do for us to act in haste and damage the Republic with our actions, and accusing the Chancellor of ordering this without definitive proof would do just that. Our neutrality and dedication to the whole Republic is just about the only source of stability left these days. Palpatine and the other reformers are beginning to correct the ship of state, but they aren’t there yet. Too many of the institutions on which the Republic relies upon have been either damaged or allowed to wither too far in the past century. The Republic can, and must prevail, against this challenge, but adding our own woes would not be advisable at this time.”

    “Corruption, limited to the Senate we thought,” Yoda put in. “Fix ourselves first, we must. Long this process will be.”

    “Tedious you mean,” Mace said with a sigh. “And very political. I’m not sure how much of this can be considered corruption, and how much it can be considered political dissidence. Dooku obviously felt ignored and powerless even while sitting on the Council, how many other Jedi of lesser stature will have aided him or made their own moves and committed to their own acts of protest because they do not believe that they are being heard? We need to find that out, especially the scope of your former Padawan's actions before we can gather the Council to debate a unified resolution.

    Skrath's head spun a bit as the whiplash of tension contained in that last sentence swept over him in the Force as Mace turned back to address him, and Skrath immediately felt better as Mace's face took on a note of embarrassment at realizing his control had slipped, but continued on, "Skrath, how many Investigators do you estimate we can pull from their current assignments to the internal and external investigations on short notice?"

    “On short notice? Three at most,” Skrath replied without hesitation, a flicker of annoyance rising at Mace's shock. "I had a conversation with Tulgree when I got back and the main topic of discussion was just how many Investigators were trapped in the scandal swamp that is the Senate at this moment, and if they weren't trapped there, they were involved with trying to bring down the crime rings that have flourished post Naboo. Any Investigator you reassign from an open Senate investigation is guaranteed to draw attention, and reassigning Investigators who're dealing with the scum of the galaxy when they aren't wearing any masks of pretext or civility to investigations of the kind you're going to conduct is not viable. Not to mention the issue which caused me to take Ori as my Padawan, I believe we already had this discussion Master Windu.”

    “We did,” Mace inclined his head, remembering the conversation that he and Skrath had before the mission had begun. He had known that the investigators were hurting for people, and that they were painfully slow to fully train, but he hadn’t realized it was this bad.

    “Master Windu, this isn’t going to be a clean investigation,” Skrath contemplated the task that was being laid out in front of the Investigators. “Since it is our responsibility, we need to get a handle on what is going on with the rearmament first. That is going to take at least three teams of Investigators, although...." Skrath paused as he realized he'd just assigned those Investigators who might be recalled and then some, "...we may be able to slot in Guardian and Consular Knights into the teams to cover the gaps, but you'll need to assign those most able to follow orders since if previous investigations where they were employed are anything to go by, their efforts will be wide, but very shallow and they will need to help the Investigators in conducting the deeper portions of the investigations where tipping the target off that the Jedi have found anything at all will ruin the investigation. Ori and I found several starting points, but I have no doubt that those are going to be complex investigations that spin off in multiple directions. If my experience is anything to go on there is far more happening in the galaxy then we suspect, much less know. Most of the Senators have long memories, some have very adept intelligence services, and if we cut corners and half ass this those political vulnerabilities of the Order you were talking about will be aired."

    Skrath's voice turned colder as his mind went from the 'easy' investigations outside the Order to its internal affairs. "If we have to audit ourselves at the same time… well that’s not going to be possible. For one, I don't know the minds of my colleagues on conducting such an investigation, regarding either the underlying politics or their thoughts on conducting an investigation like this in the first place. Second, it will take some time in meditation and further discussion with you to figure out how to go about this since this isn't like a Dark side turn and if we act like it is, we will reap the bitter harvest of self fulfillment from that. Third, I have some thoughts on the necessity of a sweeping internal affairs investigation given the major flaws in our digital security. Are disbursements from the Historical Accounts electronically authorized?

    "They are." Windu replied, his face made of stone as he had to stand and accept unpleasant truth after unpleasant truth without recourse.

    "Then the assertion that two Masters would be needed to authorize such disbursements is not necessarily true, it might've been Dooku alone or even someone else." Skrath paused for a second on looking at Windu's and Yoda's face and realizing he'd just sent their heads spinning, and decided to end on a note of levity. "Hells, if I were to open the Historical Account logs right now, I'd doubtlessly find the disbursements authorized by the entire Council, but especially Grandmaster Yoda and Council Master Mace Windu."

    The tension broke as Yoda gave an easy and grateful chuckle of relief and Mace smiled despite himself.

    “Talk, to Master Tulgree we must.” Yoda put in before focusing on Skrath with all of his senses once again. “This issue, motivates you it does not.”

    Skrath replied without hesitation. “I’m going to need to pull myself from the rotation, after what we ran into on Rothana, Ori needs more guidance then I can provide while investigating this matter.”

    “Issues you have?” Yoda cocked an ear in surprise. “Biddable your Padawan was. Slow to pick up the force, yes, but competent.”

    “Ori is a headache and a half,” Skrath responded with a shake of his head. “He gets the basics we teach at the Temple well enough, but the way he approaches the Force can be dangerous when he tries to move beyond them. I’m going to need to work with him before I feel comfortable letting him learn beyond what he already knows. Additionally… Ori has displayed a worrying degree of sensitivity to the Force recently, and while I may not be a healer, I do know enough to recognize the warning signs that there is something wrong with a being’s connection to the Force. I fear that what Dooku did may have done my Padawan an injury, and that needs to be fully checked out before I feel comfortable bringing him back into the field.”

    “That is a concerning assertion,” Mace put in lightly, he was clearly worried but hiding it well. “How much evidence do you have at the moment?”

    “Very little,” Skrath replied with a frustrated grunt. “I stand by what I said to you before I left. He has the potential to be a great Investigator. He managed to use the Force to learn an entire skill set that he did not possess during our investigation, that is a skill some Knights I have known struggle with. That said, the very mentality which makes him such a potential asset in the long run is a problem when I try to assess just how injured in the Force he is, or even if he truly is injured. He naturally hides his weaknesses as a matter of course, and being injured is a very large weakness, one he will not admit to without what he feels is a good reason. I know that something is going on with him, but I cannot work out if it is in his head, or if it is the result of a Force injury he took on the mission, or if it is something else. His inherent paranoia does not help matters, when we discussed returning, he became paranoid to the point I thought he was convinced I was going to remand him to the Agri corps, but when I reassured him on that his wariness didn't abate in the least. I do have to ask, has an attempt been made to secure the Temple's computers against him?”

    “We have taken a few precautions against his eventual return,” Mace laughed lightly before continuing. “I don’t know how effective they will be considering the penetration that he managed but they should slow him down a bit. You will have to tell us if our precautions were sufficient.”

    “They weren’t, sufficient that is, thank the Force." Both Masters' eyebrows arched in unison and Skrath chuckled. "When I left my Padawan he was perusing the Archives for pre Ruusan meditation treatises using a Master’s access, which should abet his paranoia a bit. This would be even more difficult if that instinct of his had been tripped,” Skrath replied with a nonverbal shout of relief in the Force. “What do you want me to do with my investigation now? Who do I turn it over to in order to tend to my Padawan's needs.”

    Yoda closed his eyes briefly in concentration and Skrath could feel him reaching out to the Force for guidance. "Fix your Padawan's issue, you must. Critical it is. However, part, you still have to play; though unclear it is at this time. Time enough you have to lay foundation for our audit. Consult with your old Master, we will. Further instructions from him, you will receive."

    “Beginning the audit is just numbers work, I can borrow X-RAD from Ori to do the preliminaries,” Skrath accepted that directive easily enough. “I think I will spend a few months working with my Padawan in the meantime. Some of his issues will go away once I get him on the right track with his Force use, allowing a clearer picture to develop. I will say that traditional training will not benefit him as much as we would all hope, so as the Will of the Force clears up, I would ask your indulgence in proposing non-traditional solutions, over the long term.”

    “Another exception?” Mace asked with a raised eyebrow. “I told you how I feel about those. Having a Master look over your Padawan because you fear he is injured is one thing, but more than that is not our way.”

    “Perhaps,” Skrath chewed on his lip as he tried to find the right words to express what the Force was telling him. “I think more a modification of our traditional methods then a full exception. He would benefit from being around other Jedi more than just myself. Ones he trusts that is, I doubt any Master who you can convince to look him over is going to earn that trust. From my observations he has two problems learning from me aside from his most recent and worrying issues, first he shows signs of prescience, and I don’t need to tell you about my own abysmal record when dealing with that. Second, his sensitivity to the Force, which he demonstrated on Rothana to be on a level I have rarely seen outside of Masters who've spent years finding truth in the philosophies of the Living Force, like Qui Gon Jinn. He FELT what Dooku had done there where I only felt the slightest unease; and not only that, he developed a frankly unnerving skill to counter it that also heightened my sensitivity to it to extreme discomfort. Which is another point at which he could very well have done himself an injury. He needs to talk with a more experienced Jedi than myself, although getting him to do so will be an uphill battle. Not to mention that being in the Temple seems to have exacerbated his sensitivity issue, at least temporarily. Perhaps an expedition? Something to allow him to learn from multiple perspectives, allowing me time to work through whatever has gone wrong away from the Temple. One of the most pressing things I need to teach him is how to ask for help rather than seeking the answer on his own. An issue I had when I was younger, and which Master Tulgree used several joint investigations to clear up for me. An expedition will get him out of the temple, but not put him in a position where he can accidentally damage something important while he heals, should he be injured. I, quite frankly, would welcome the back up as well. As I said, healing is not my forte.”

    “Impetus of youth, he has in full measure then,” Yoda accepted what Skrath was saying, but still voiced a mild rebuke. “Beyond the remit of a Master, this is not. Dangerous it would be to allow too many to work on determining his issues. Too readily would you give up your Padawan. Make worse his mentality, you will. Primary source of learning, and healing, you must be.”

    “True,” Mace pursed his lips. “I think we can find you a mission like that if you give us time. I cannot think of one at this moment, but I will admit my thoughts are already preoccupied with what you have brought us. I need time to meditate before I can give you a definite yes or no answer, or a mission which will achieve your goals. The only people who I can think to team you up with now would be Kenobi and Skywalker, but I doubt you want to drag your Padawan into the middle of THAT political mess. Not to mention Obi-Wan hasn’t been a Knight much longer then you have been. Also, his talents lie in negotiation, not healing, and he has yet to develop the wisdom you need.”

    “Healing, he still is,” Yoda interrupted sharply. “Interfere we must not. Too much have we done already. Ready, he was not, for his Padawan. Time we must give him to come to terms with the death of his Master.”

    “If you didn’t think him ready, why in the blasted Hells did you push so hard to allow that!” Mace said in exasperation.

    “Part of the healing process, Anakin had become,” Yoda’s ears twitched as if they were going to lower in shame. “Interrupt that, I could not.”

    “Even if you thought it was possible I would politely but firmly say; no thank you,” Skrath’s horror at literally everything about the idea was clear on his face. He was well aware of the exceptions which were piling up around Kenobi as he tried to integrate his Padawan into the Jedi lifestyle. Kenobi was turning out to be a respectable Guardian, although one with a distinctly Consular style,, but he was having to bend the rules into a pretzel in order to accommodate Skywalker's sensibilities. The disastrous attempts to put Skywalker in with regular initiates had resulted in a slew of exceptions being made in the hopes of keeping the 'Chosen One' on task, at least according to the Temple's rumor mill. Putting Ori into that mix wouldn’t help him, or Skywalker. “I’m sure a more traditional pairing would be better for my Padawan. Skywalker is too good at picking up Force skills and that would only exacerbate Ori’s issues. He would feel the need to cut corners we do not want him cutting in order to keep up with Skywalker, probably injuring himself further, and that has disaster written all over it.”

    “Truth you speak.” Yoda smiled as he said that. “Meditate on this we must. Answers, give you we will in time.”

    “In the meantime, Ki-Adi-Mundi is available to work out just what level of prescience your Padawan actually has. He also has the skills needed to determine if your Padawan has taken a serious injury, or if this is just a reaction which will go away in time. I know that the manual the healing halls puts out lists extreme sensitivity as one of the most common and dangerous side effects of taking a Force wound, but that is out of an overabundance of caution. I can think of several ways for that to occur, which would not require your Padawan to be injured,” Mace pursed his lips. “Still, best to get that possibility dealt with swiftly. Mundi is available, and will be more than willing to help. If he does find your Padawan to have some level of prescience it would do him some good to teach for a bit. His lack of a Padawan of his own has become an issue recently, and I feel it best if he works on his inability to teach while under the gaze of an attentive Knight such as yourself. You have the backbone to stand up to him and tell him he is wrong should he make an error, and that would reassure him more than I think he knows.”

    “That would be greatly appreciated master,” Skrath bowed slightly. “I know I am out of my depth in dealing with either issue. Give me an investigation, or a disruption mission, and I can teach Ori how to do it in my sleep but the more esoteric force skills? Or worse, healing others? My sole interest in healing has been in self-healing, trances and the like, the less said about my thoughts on more esoteric abilities the better.”

    “Sentinels,” Mace shook his head in exasperation. “You do have the time to remedy your lack of Force skills. Perhaps you would benefit from spending some time with master Mundi almost as much as your Padawan will.”

    “I use the Force perfectly well, thank you very much, it’s just that I don’t need to call on it for every little thing,” Skrath replied with the standard response. “Having other skills is not a falling after all.”

    “Right you were, to take your Padawan, heard this I did several times from him,” Yoda’s ears perked up as he spoke. He was enjoying falling back into the usual banter between Jedi practitioners and their divergent paths rather than dealing with more weighty matters. Although he did recognize that Skrath was using it as something of a defense mechanism. The young Knight was distracting himself from his worries. Still, it was a rare Jedi who would banter with him, his usual stature in the Order prevented that from happening. If Skrath had the termitary temerity to do so he was one to watch in the future.

    “Don’t remind me,” Skrath sighed heavily. “There is such a thing as taking it too far, and Ori embodies that. If I had longer hair, I would be tearing it out.”

    “Padawans,” Mace grinned as he spoke. “Why do you think I shaved my head? I think you would look good after running a razor or two over your skull. For some reason the other Masters keep telling me that recommending to young Knights that they shave their heads for the first year or two of taking a Padawan would discourage them.”

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    Last edited: Jul 12, 2020
  2. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Ah, uncoventional Jedi.

    They really are a reason to tear your hair out.
     
  3. Threadmarks: 5.2
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “Alright Ori, given what I saw on our last mission I think we should start this session with the basics.” Skrath paced in front of his Padawan trying to figure out how to say what he needed to say without resorting to the Force. For some reason ever since they had gotten back to the Temple Ori had become more reactive against the Force inserting itself into his thoughts, and anyone who was using the Force to manipulate him. Even minor things like trying to teach him with the aid of the Force were drawing ever stronger reactions from him these days

    “I rather think we’ve gone over them several times in the past week,” Ori replied cheekily. “Despite my reactions, I think I’m beginning to get what you want me to.”


    “You are,” Skrath admitted swiftly. “It’s just that what I want you to get, and what you want to get out of what I am teaching you, are not exactly the same thing. You keep trying to use every technique to control yourself, and to an unhealthy degree. I want you to be able to control your connection to the Force when working with it. The difference between those goals may seem small, but it's there and it is having an outsized effect on you. Every time you start to meditate you yank yourself back, and each time it gets closer to that Force Blockading technique you demonstrated on Rothana. But while it's not going to be easy; I think I have a way to get us both what we want out of these sessions.”

    “I…” Ori chewed his lip for a moment trying to find a way to express himself without completely screwing himself over. He knew he had been getting short with everyone recently, but he thought that greater self control would solve the issue. “I think if I were off Coruscant I wouldn’t have nearly as many problems with my control as I do. Ever since I got here there has been a feeling of a... wet blanket pressing down on me from all sides is the best way I can describe it. Even when we were on Rothana, and when we were being misdirected by Dooku's twisting of the Force, it didn’t feel this suffocating. I never thought anything was wrong before but… looking back on it, after getting off world for the first time, there has to be something wrong with the Force here. I just can’t figure out what it is, and as you say, my actions to counteract it are becoming something of a conscious reflex. ”

    “Much as it pains me to say this you might be one of those beings who is overly sensitive to the Force,” Skrath scratched his chin and thought about what Ori had just told him. “Have you researched just why this temple was erected here, and why it was rebuilt even after it was sacked multiple times?”

    “Because theirs a Sith temple under it and the Order needed to keep that contained,” Ori replied with a roll of his eyes. “Mind you, I haven’t managed to get further than that in the Archives, because someone went out of their way to try and get my access revoked. I’ve had to spend a bit of time defending my exploits, and setting up new ones just in case.”

    “As if that’s going to keep you from your research for long,” Skrath rolled his eyes at his Padawan's complaint. “I’m well aware you’re already back into the system despite what the IT department can do to keep you out.”

    “I’m more offended by the way they tried to get rid of my access than anything else. Really, it was all brute force with no refinement or attempts to close the exploits I used.” Ori expressed his irritation freely at that. “I can understand it as a short term measure, but revoking all administrative access to the temple network and then requiring Cin Dralligs approval to grant access might have, temporarily, solved their problems but as soon as I returned I was back in the system, and they haven’t managed to secure the system. Really what did they think I was doing when I granted myself root access? It was an insultingly amateur attempt.”

    “True, but we are drifting off topic,” Skrath smiled as he said that. He had known that Ori wasn’t happy with the IT department but it would be nice to pass his complaints off to them and see what they did. He was afraid there was going to need to be a shake up there, they were all too complacent. It had been a while since someone had taken an electronic run at the Temple, and if Oris complaints were any indication despite the orders fearsome reputation any slicing attempts made would very likely succeed. “The reason this temple has stood for as long as it has does have a bit to do with the Sith temple, but it has more to do with the fact that there is a wellspring of Force here.”

    “I am not exactly clear on just what that is Master,” Ori’s eyebrows drew together in concentration. “I have read the term before, especially in the older Masters works, but I never saw a definition and my attempts to understand it from context were… scattered? Too many different interpretations on just what that meant, as each Master seemed to have a different idea.”

    “That comes as no surprise to me. The experience of a wellspring is a more intensely subjective than most any other Force phenomenon. What I say it's truly like will almost certainly be as different from those old Masters as those Masters to each other and to your experience, and all of use will be right... and all of us wrong. About all we can say for sure is that it’s a point in the galaxy where the Force bursts forth and concentrates. What that means, well, again, I’m sure you have your own ideas as has every Master, Knight, and Padawan to come across the phenomenon.”

    “So Coruscant has an unusual amount of Force present?” Ori looked almost horrified at the thought. “Why would anyone put the seat of a galactic government here then? Trusting in the Force is all well and good for a Jedi, but for a politician? Especially one who was active when the Jedi weren’t restricted from holding political power!?… they... they would have to be insane to do that, especially if they saw just how the Force interacts with those who have power and how it guides their actions.”

    “It’s one of the reasons there were more than seventeen wars between Coruscant and Alsakan over just where the seat of the Republic would be. Of course that’s not taught in the history books initiates, padawans and even most knights have access to; I would not recommend you go looking for those histories as they are rather restricted. At least not without a current Council member's access code.” Skrath warned his Padawan firmly. He was well aware that Ori would go looking, but now he would do so cautiously. As far as he knew Ori hadn’t managed to get one of those codes, and his attempts would probably be illuminating. “With that in mind I think a major part of your problem with the Force can be traced back to your recent hyper sensitivity. While your self control means you are very aware of the parts of you which you want to be, what we ran into on Rothana seems to have left all parts of you overly sensitized and probably overwhelming that self control, leaving me trying to figure out what’s best for you.”

    “Parts of me?” Ori latched on to that part of Skrath's comment immediately, just as he had been expected to.

    “We talked about this a bit back on Rothana, you have some unusual holes in your sense of self, or at least it looks that way from the outside. Parts of your mentality, and your body, you ignore. Part of that might be poor teaching in the creche, or it could relate to you trying to figure out how to defend your mind and leaving parts out because you didn’t think you could defend everything. I don’t need to know just why it is, but it is something I have observed that continues to be a problem for you. Even after I talked with you about it.”

    “That’s.. disappointing. I thought I was getting a handle on that.”

    “It is getting better, even here in the Temple." Skrath smiled inside as Ori's face turned resentful for a moment, "I have noticed a few issues which I didn’t talk to you about, I doubt they are new but I didn’t notice before. You tend to forget to reinforce your claws with the Force when we spar in hand to hand. It’s a minor thing, but as your Master and being responsible for your safety… well I have to watch you closely, so I did notice.”

    “Is that why you have been concentrating on my hands when we spar?” Ori frowned as he tried to think back to all of the times they had spared, and just when Skrath had started to concentrate on his hands, and more importantly his claws. “None of the initiate instructors noticed, of course they also missed the Lekku issue…”

    “I’m not surprised, you are very good at compensating when you do consciously realize the vulnerability,” Skrath shrugged as he said that. Once more resolving to bring his Padawan's abysmal initiate instruction to the Council and see if they could do anything to keep it from being repeated. “That said, you have a very clear issue and we need to solve it before we can start taking missions again. You compensate well enough I wouldn’t worry about a basic mission, but the more complicated and dangerous missions, like the one we ended up discovering, could very well be the death of you, and me, if we don’t get this fixed.”

    “You aren’t bouncing me for this?” Ori’s eyes widened in surprise.

    “Of course not, I would be the poorest Master in the history of the Order if I gave up on my Padawan at the first sign of trouble.” Skrath felt his own eyeroll at Ori’s pessimism. "You still have the potential which caused me to take you on in the first place. It would be a waste to let that go. We just need to fix a few things before we can get back out into the galaxy. It’s why I asked the Council to take us off the duty rotation, and why they granted my request after I tie up some loose ends.”

    “So how do I fix this? And don’t tell me meditation Master, I have tried that... repeatedly,” Ori scowled, and Skrath realized just how hard Ori had been trying and failing to meditate. Ori tended to be secretive, and independent to a fault; Skrath was certain that he had overcome more than a few hurdles on his own through sheer stubbornness when it came to the Force, but this was an issue he couldn't bully through and then didn’t know how to ask for help. The strange currents of Ori’s pride and humility might be an issue going forward, but it was one he could deal with at a later date.

    “By teaching you a more advanced form of Force concealment,” Skrath grinned at Ori’s skeptical expression. He also pointedly didn’t mention that as a side effect of these types of meditation any damage to his Force presence would be visible. It was one of the most complicated, and frankly dangerous types of meditation, but it would let Master Mundi have a look at all of Ori. Of course it would be appreciated if that Master would bother to return one of the several messages Skrath had left him, but for the moment he seemed to be content to observe under Force stealth. It was good enough to fool Ori at the moment, but it was annoying Skrath. “Keep in mind that this one is dangerous, I don’t want you attempting it without me there to guide you. Eventually this skill will become second nature to you, and it is more sustainable in the long term then the method you already know, but it isn’t for beginners.”

    “Warning acknowledged,” Ori replied promptly. Skrath could tell he was taking this seriously, which was a very good thing. Skrath hadn’t wanted to teach him this until he had spent a few more years as a Padawan and gotten a better handle on the Force. Yoda had put paid to that plan, suggesting this path to Skrath in a way that implied it was just short of an order.

    “Right, so the initial path to force concealment is to control your own connection to the Force, its mostly internal, and that’s why I taught it to you because you are good at that sort of thing. The problem with it is that you need to keep conscious control over it at all times in order for it to be effective. When you’re sleeping, knocked out, or even if you find something distracting your control slips and with it, your concealment. The second method which is, much more effective under most circumstances, is to blend yourself into the background. You dilute your Force presence and let it diffuse into the background hum of the Force.” Skrath felt a spike of irritation from the hidden Master but declined to twist the knife. Apparently, Mundi was annoyed to learn that his chosen method of concealment had been breached.

    “That sounds… difficult… especially for me.”

    “It is,” Skrath stated flatly. “Now feel my presence, tell me how it changes, and just what I’m doing in your own words.”

    With that Skrath closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and began to feel out his own Force signature. This wasn’t a skill he used often, as he very rarely went up against Force sensitive opponents, but it was one he had forced himself to master after one of his missions had gone spectacularly wrong when he ran into a fallen Jedi. It had taken him years to get this down, and he expected that Ori would be in a similar position, but it was too useful of a skill to ignore and it would be a tool to allow Ori to address his own issues. He began to gently pull his Force signature out. Skrath had always imagined himself gently tugging on his own force presence, unraveling it strand by strand, and letting those individual strands be caught by the general weave of the Force in the background. It took him time, but eventually he had completed his task, and his presence was no longer standing out in the Force but woven into it. He almost seamlessly blended into the background as if he belonged there, his sense of self woven neatly into the tapestry that was the Force.

    “You see?” Skrath asked opening his eyes again and looking at his Padawan.

    “I do,” Ori sounded awed by what he had witnessed, which was an unusual reaction for him. That was an interesting data point, one he would have to think on later.

    “Now how did it seem to you?”

    “You… diffused yourself, letting go and almost coming out of your body,” Ori frowned as he tried to find the right words. “The elements are still there, but they are kneaded into the Force seamlessly. Almost as if you put a bit of Lum bread dough into a pastry mix and then worked them until they combined. I’m not sure exactly how you did it, but that’s what it felt like… almost as if you were taking each ingredient out of your own mix and adding it to the worlds mix one at a time. How do you keep sane doing that, or stay yourself?” Sanity, Ori always mentions it when it comes to the Light side... I will have to talk with him about that later, Skrath thought, perhaps Master Mundi will have some insight.

    “With a great amount of effort Padawan mine,” Skrath laughed at the gob smacked expression on Ori’s face. “It isn’t actually that bad, I can still feel what is me and what is the background easily enough, but the key here is you need to be aware of everything about yourself. You need to intimately know just what is you and what is not. That is part of what makes this such a dangerous skill to learn. If you don’t have a phenomenal level of self-knowledge, without any hint of self-deception, then you can easily either leave a part of yourself behind when you pull everything back, or take something in you don’t want to.”

    “That is... terrifying,” Ori replied flatly.

    “I know." Skrath's tone was firm as he laid out the ground rules, "Which is why I’m going to sit here and meditate with you while you map yourself out. This is your first lesson on this technique so I will be providing a 'curtain' around you which will let us both know if you are going too far. If I feel your presence is merely wandering I will count down ten seconds for you to pull yourself back before I intervene. If I feel you are losing control, I will intervene immediately. If I intervene, it WILL feel uncomfortable, but know that you are safe, do you understand?" Skrath paused a second as Ori pondered, then nodded in the affirmative, "For your part, you need to feel every bit of your force presence, every dark little thought, every last misdeed and triumph,” Skrath’s voice was soft as he said that. “I don’t need to know these things, you don’t need to tell me, but you need to see and acknowledge yourself completely before we can even begin to move on to the next step of this. This is going to be intensely personal for you, which is why we are doing this in a private meditation room, and like I said I don’t want you to try doing this without me here to pull you back. Now begin.”

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
  4. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    That's an interesting idea. Force blending, needing to really know yourself to not break yourself? Nice.

    One of the things I like about this story, the Force is dangerous to use. Even the direct uses, like TK, have implications that can screw you. Nice.

    It makes the whole Dark/Light divide much more palatable.



    Now I'm wondering if this'd help fix "The Chosen One". Self-knowledge, in Anakin Skywalker? Man, that'd screw Palpatine.
     
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  5. App E

    App E Know what you're doing yet?

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    This series really is a gem. Loving the exploration of the fun mystic sides of the force, with appropriate risks and trials. Watching learning happen's never felt so good!
     
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  6. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Just make sure their is a sense of wonder an discovery in their as well. Otherwise this bitterness and paranoia will take over the story and shake it apart. Personally I would love to see him use the force without any of the excess taste's Impugning on his mind. Perhaps a filter (haha) or a reservoir of the force bound to him and him alone. Limited capacity , but peace of mind.?!?! I don't know if there was anything like that in Star Wars Legends Canon. There definitely wasn't isn't in the Nu Canon.
     
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    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “Master Mundi, thank you for taking the time to look over my Padawan,” Skrath said evenly while repressing his desire to hit the Master in front of him. His examination had been completely at a distance and then seemed to consist more of reading records instead of actually looking at Ori’s Force presence. When Skrath had felt him taking a look, it was from behind a substandard bit of Force concealment, annoying Skrath as he tried to teach without the aid of the Force.

    “I have just begun, please take a seat,” Mundi bowed his tall head indicating one of the low chairs in front of the data pad filled desk he was sitting at. “Given your reports I felt it best to start my assessment at a distance.”

    “And have you reached any conclusions yet?” Skrath asked with a slightly raised eyebrow, his assessment of Mundi changing in an instant at the new information. He hadn’t felt the Master around for any long periods, but if he was skilled enough in concealment then he might not have. I'll have to watch my impatience far more carefully in this matter, he thought with chagrin.

    “Some, none firm at the moment,” Mundi said with a sigh. “Your Padawan is a contradiction. Making my job harder than I thought it would be. Did you know that by the numbers Ori should have been remanded to the technical corps as soon as he reached the halfway mark in his initiate training? And then the records show things like this:”

    With a minor exertion of Force, Mundi activated one of the data pads on his desk, a pale blue holo sprang to life over it. Skrath bit his lip and cocked his head to the side as he observed what was happening. He had never seen training holos like this before, then he nodded in understanding. It was a security capture, not one of the official cameras which could be taken out for a teacher to film a class with. On it a five or six year old Ori was sitting in the middle of a room, an empty storage room if Skrath didn’t miss his guess, not one of the sanctioned training halls, calmly floating a dozen pebbles in complex patterns around his left hand.

    “Understandably he was moved into close observation after the Temple Guard reported his activities to his clan leader, and she kept him on the path to becoming a Knight rather than encouraging his technical fascination.” Mundi continued calmly. “Impressive control, especially for that age. Made all the more surprising because his midichlorian count is closer to that of a Togruta, one on the low end of acceptable power.”

    “I knew his count was considered low… but really?” Skrath had to raise an eyebrow at that assertion. Generally, midichlorian counts were kept from Initiates and Padawans. No one wanted to spark jealousy or convince the younglings that they didn’t have the power to do what they were asked. He hadn’t bothered looking up Ori’s, he had passed the trials after all and that was all he had needed to know. He'd wholeheartedly agreed with Master Tulgree's thoughts on the theory of midichlorian constancy and the reliability of testers, that it was blindered thinking which limited a Jedi more than any real power requirements, and experience had only reinforced that belief. To him, the currents of the Force and the mentality of the sensitive were far more important than an abstract number coughed up from a Force dead device that used a physical test to generate those numbers. Not that a majority of the Consulars gave any thought to that, they were annoyingly certain in their belief in the midichlorian testers and theories since they could be used to tell force sensitives from non force sensitives and predict the rough power level difference between beings like Yoda and Skywalker as opposed to 95% of the rest of the Jedi... as though anyone needed a machine to do that.

    “Yes, the only reason he came to the attention of the Initiates council was because his parents could no longer deal with a baby who was continuously destroying their hovel. Even then it was the will of the Force a Jedi was on hand to discover him. We rarely receive younglings who are Force Active,” The Cerean Master shook his head. When he had read the story of Ori’s adoption by the Order it had been something out of a fable. Clearly the Force had plans for Ori, why else would it have put him in a position to be discovered so early? “He, and his parents, were rescued by the Jedi and his parents agreed to grant him to the Temple. Part I believe in thanks, and part because they could not deal with the Force powered temper tantrums. The surprising part of the whole story was that he had been tested at birth, and was not unknown to us before he arrived. He had just been passed over because his count was so low, it was believed at the time that while he would be sensitive, he would not be able to make the power cut for any of the Corps, let alone graduation to Knighthood, so better to leave him with his parents and allow him to build a life outside of the Order.”

    “Perhaps this is evidence that the midichlorian tester and theories aren't flawless,” Skrath commented dryly. He noted the Cerean’s flinch as he said that through the Force, which was interesting, but could be saved for later. “All this is very interesting, but it has little to do with determining if Ori is injured or not, and more importantly, what I should be doing to help him.”

    “True, but it does speak to my difficulties finding you an answer,” Mundi gestured again and another data pad sprang on. This time it was from an unusual angle, although Skrath could still recognize that the footage was security footage, or maybe not, it looked a bit closer to surveillance footage. Judging by the shadows under Ori's eyes it had to have been taken just recently. In fact, if Skrath looked closely he could see the scratch he had inflicted on his Padawan during one of their unarmed spars. Ori had ducked just a bit more slowly than he had allowed for and so he had scratched the top of his Padawans head. Again, he was levitating pebbles, this time a dozen per hand while also going through one of the RSCA katas. Interesting, but hardly relevant he thought. “Ori remains difficult to pin down, and he is still hiding what he can do from just about everyone in the Temple.”

    “Well, aside from showing he has better control then he lets on… something I was well aware of after all, I don’t see the issue.” Skrath shrugged. Although he was relieved to see Ori was actively using the Force on his own again, albeit in a manner he had determined was ‘safe’.

    “Because he is evading my attempts to pin him down.” Mundi shook his head in exasperation. “He found that camera, destroyed it, and then called in the Temple Guards because he knew that there shouldn’t have been surveillance in that portion of the Temple.”

    “Did you have a good talk with Master Drallig?” Skrath almost giggled at the expression on Mundi’s face. That really did sound exactly like something that Ori would do.

    “No, I did not,” Mundi replied repressively. “Made worse by the fact that Master Windu was the one who supposedly requested that the Guards investigate.”

    “He seems to have moved up in terms of access,” Skrath couldn’t contain his slightly hysterical laugh at that. “I knew he was annoyed by the attempts to keep him out of the Temple's computers but that’s… yeah that’s something else. I may actually have to have a talk with him about his slicing.”

    “It wouldn’t do any of us a bit of good,” Mundi snorted. “He’s been running the electronic courses at night and the only reason he doesn’t hold the Temple record for the fastest slice on two of the programs is because he disabled the recorders.”

    “Which leaves you missing the information that you need to reach a conclusion…” Skrath leaned back and gave Mundi a speculative look. “Given how… resistant… you have been up till now about actually talking with me I have a feeling that I am not going to like the conclusions you have reached.”

    “No, you aren’t.” Mundi acknowledge in a low voice. “For the more important issue, the possibility of Ori being wounded, I think I can lay most of your concerns to rest. Your meditations with him on the more advanced Force stealth method were illuminating to an extent. He does have an odd Force presence, but nothing that looks like a recent wound, either open or healing. However, and this is somewhat speculation since the lesson concluded before I could get a good look at it, there seems to be evidence of some kind of serious injury from when he was younger though, it’s why I went looking into his past. Something, or someone, hurt him deeply when he was an infant. It would explain his active use of the Force so young, defensive uses of the Force by younglings are not unknown, unfortunately.”

    Skrath seemed to teleport upright, his eyes flashing with restrained righteous fury, and his Force presence projecting a barely restrained homicidal intent. He was obviously aware of the implications of Mundi’s last statement. “Tell me that you know who or what did that to him and we have dealt with that.”

    “I cannot.” Mundi projected calm towards the younger Jedi.

    “Kriffing Hells! As if what we found wasn’t bad enough. If this was done to Ori, and we don’t know when or how it was done, then that means we probably missed a hundred or more younglings who were tortured by some Darksider in a similar manner.”

    “I’m pleased to see you have your Master's intelligence,” Mundi grimaced as he spoke. He really didn’t like dealing with Tulgree, the man was too inclined to take investigations against the most vicious criminals rings these days, the ones that could only end with a pile of corpses. Skrath was, according to his records, more restrained, except when younglings were involved. Crimes involving them would cause Skrath to stop caring much about the Code and start acting like a Judiciary Officer in Jedi robes until he had his answers. Fortunately, despite the dark tendencies his actions betrayed, he had never shown anything but the faded aura of the dark side in his Force presence that all Investigators carried after such cases, at least according to the medical reports, the Cerean would dearly love to know how he did that. “At least we have a time period to start investigations, ones you are NOT to involve yourself with! This is Shadow council business, and the council is not inclined to let this pass.”

    “How was it missed?”

    “Because it was done to an infant,” Mundi sighed in exasperation. “One who could not communicate with his minders. I suspect the damage, and repairing it, was the reason why Ori was so slow to learn to talk, but I cannot say for certain. You yourself missed it; I must point out.”

    “Of course, I missed it, I am not a healer, or a clan minder,” Skrath snapped back, irritation clearly radiating from him. “I do not have the training to identify that sort of damage, especially old damage like what you found. I knew enough to see that something had changed and to get wiser heads involved, but this is not my area of expertise. One perhaps important issue for your consideration. Ori worries that using the Force will drive him insane.”

    “We all worry about using the Dark side, it’s a never-ending lure for those of us blessed with the Force,” Mundi cocked his head to the side, betraying his confusion. “Though he does seem a bit inexperienced for that to be a real worry. You are right about that.”

    “No, Master, he worries that using the Force will drive him insane,” Skrath insisted, willing Mundi to understand. “I will admit he has a very mature wariness about the Dark side, but that is not all he worries about.”

    “The Light side!?” Mundi’s eyes flew wide as he understood Skrath's point.

    “Exactly.”

    “That… is troubling.” Mundi held up a hand to stop Skrath from continuing and put a few notes into his personal data pad. “I will have to do some research then. It sounds like the damage from when he was younger has longer lasting effects then I had believed. While I have dealt with treating injured initiates before, Ori is, I think, both the youngest I've seen such an injury and the long-term effects of it going untreated are not something I am completely familiar with. Especially not on a developing brain, this is going to mean time in the Archives.”

    “Well, at least Master Nu will be motivated to help you. She is rather fond of Ori, even if he does exasperate her at times.”

    “Agreed,” Mundi with a slight chuckle. He was well acquainted with the formidable women who ran the Temples archives. Her will of iron had intersected with his desires a time or two, and he had never come out the winner. “But this mess leaves us with very few options on how to proceed. If I thought that your Padawan would be willing to talk, I would absolutely try that. He isn’t, so we are going to have to go about this surreptitiously…”

    “Which could be a very bad idea,” Skrath settled back and frowned as he turned the other Jedi's words over. He could see the point, especially after the stunt Ori had pulled during his initiate trials, but the Force was telling him this wasn’t exactly the best path forward. “I have a bad feeling about this. Are you sure that passive observation would not be the better choice? Ori doesn’t react well to active pressure, he has a tendency to not see the point, and get even. Even if it is against the Code, Ori is a firm believer in revenge. I haven’t had the time to train him to trust in justice and retribution, and frankly given his profession, I doubt he will ever be completely compliant with that bit of the Code. Investigators tend to be a bit more vindictive than the average Jedi; I know I am.”

    “Outside of observing him in another lesson of force concealment, which has the very real risk of me being caught now that he knows of my surveillance; I have gotten everything I can out of passive observation. I need you to start pushing him, both in the Force and physically, so I can observe his reactions,” Mundi sighed as he said that. He completely ignored Skrath's point about revenge, and the vindictive nature of investigators. The Council had spoken, and meditated, on the issue at length in the past. Experiments with training that edge out of investigative focused Jedi hadn’t been successful so they ignored the issue, firmly. “I don’t like it. If we were dealing with anything but a possible Force injury I would not be advocating for it. We are though, and so extreme measures become acceptable.”

    “I cannot be the one to push him,” Skrath replied promptly, clearly thinking hard. “He knows my Force signature too well, and it would break the trust between us. Ori is already in a delicate spot regarding doctrine, he doesn’t believe in the Order like you or I do. Me pushing him like this… it could very well cause an explosion the likes of which we haven’t seen since before Ruusan. The Baby Lundi case would be nothing when compared to the damage to the Order Ori would feel compelled to do.”

    “And if I do it?”

    “Then I might be able to convince him it was a medical procedure, since that is the truth, isn't it?” Skrath looked up from his hands and stared directly in Mundi’s eyes. “You do have precedent and documentation to back up your course of action?”

    “I do, mostly from medical journals penned during the New Sith Wars,” Mundi huffed in frustration. “The more politically acceptable sources do not cover this issue. Master Nu was very helpful in finding me what I needed, but I am already going to have trouble justifying this to the Council when it comes out.”

    “Ori will be more willing to accept it though,” Skrath nodded. “He trusts the sources from before Ruusan more than those which came after.”

    “The Council does not,” Mundi pushed himself back from his desk. “Yoda might accept what I have found, but the others? With the Force clouding as it has been, they have increasingly fallen back on established doctrine to guide their actions. Breaking with that unsettles more than a few of the council Masters these days, and I am already on precarious ground with them.”

    “The Padawan issue.”

    “As you say. My elevation to The Council had more to do with my species' talents for foresight, but even I have begun to struggle to see a clear path. It is not too bad yet but…”

    “You might face backlash for being reckless here,” Skrath frowned. He hadn’t realized just how far out on a limb Mundi was going for his Padawan. “Is there a traditional test for Prognosticative abilities you could administer to cover you?”

    “Possibly…” Mundi’s face was a mass of confusion. “I thought that was just the excuse Mace was using to get me to look at your Padawan. I can tell you right now, he doesn’t have the greater gifts. Ori lacks either the power, or the species trait, to allow him to see into the fan of time. Prognostication and Precognition are actually two separate schools of advanced prescience, something all Jedi have to one degree or another. Most just see a second or two into the future, reliably that is, but those with the greater gifts… Prognosticative abilities are actually an entire family of abilities we have lumped together. Precognition is considered one of those, but that specific ability? It is vanishingly rare for the Light side; I cannot think of a single user of it in recent memory. The more common forms of Prognostication are prophetic dreams and visions.”
    “Does it really matter what we call them? They are all abilities to view the future, 'look into the fan of time' to use your more poetic wording.” Skrath replied with a shrug.

    “The exact method matters, at least in terms of training,” Mundi leaned back in his chair and proceeded to launch into his standard lecture number five on the gift of foresight. “We know that the future is always in motion, so the way we view it effects how it moves. Those gifted with dreams, they tend to see more clearly into the real world, and not the confusing iconography of the unifying force. They see exact and specific events, often without context, so they need to learn how to analyse their dreams and see how something that happens in a dream could come to pass, and how to effect the circumstances of the dream vision for the best effect. While that may seem desirable, they are the most often wrong as other sentients invalidate their dreams by not taking the specific actions which lead to their dream. That particular ‘gift’ is more of a curse than anything else, it has horrifying effects on the Jedi who have it, and very rarely is true. Visions on the other hand, well they are the most complicated. They come directly from the unifying force but it is not as… limited… as we are. It tends to communicate in metaphors, confusing the issue as we try to understand what it is trying to tell us. Our limited minds do not always understand exactly what it is we are seeing. Part of the reason why we Cerean’s who are granted this gift do so well with it, in my own opinion, is our logical minds allow us to tease out the metaphor’s better than other beings. Precognition, true precognition, is so anecdotal it is more a myth than a confirmed ability. I will need to spend more time in the archives to see who is claimed to have actually had it, which as I said no Jedi has in living memory. From what little is known of the ability, it is thought to be 'True Sight.' You are shown the truth of the matter, and multiple possibilities for how it would come to pass. All of which are irrelevant when dealing with your Padawan, as I said…”

    “I know the dogma but… he has been showing some signs of the talent. I'm... honestly more than a little bewildered at how my thoughts keeps sticking on this, especially since before I took Ori as my Padawan I'm sure I couldn't tell you a single sign from that stupid pamphlet that was all I'd ever read about prescience,” Skrath shook his head. “I think based on what you said it can be argued that the midichlorian count is an invalid indicator in his case, as he has shown greater potential than that test would lead us to expect.”

    “That is an argument I had not considered,” Mundi paused and then almost cackled. “The double veiled test.”

    “What exactly is the double veiled test?”

    “It is a test of foresight, or prognosticative abilities if you like, where the Master asks a trusted associate to put a steadily mounting amount of pressure on their Padawan. It keeps going until the Padawan either comes to their Master to help them understand what they are seeing, or they ask the one who is putting pressure on them to stop.” Mundi explained briefly. “It is something of a last chance test for those who have shown signs of the ability but hold a distaste for it or don’t use their abilities for other reasons. It forces them to either use it, or shows that they cannot.”

    “That describes my Padawan perfectly, don’t you think?”

    “True, and since the type of pressure is up to me to apply, I can use what I researched without causing issues. Well, beyond the ones we want to cause.”

    “What do I need to do to make your life easier?” Skrath asked calmly. He had accepted that this was the best way to go for now.

    “Arrange a lot of sparring for your Padawan, other Padawans, Knights, and any Master you can rope in. I won't have to conceal myself and Ori shows himself more when he is in combat than at any other time.”

    “He will like that,” Skrath laughed.

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2020
  8. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    I like that his superiors want him to do well, and are trying to help.

    I also like that they'll most likely make things worse, because he hasn't told them.

    It's so very human. Too many fics have no people in them.
     
  9. Ghast

    Ghast Contemplative

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    Is this version going to be any different than those on other sites due to nsfw policies, or should I just pick one site to follow it on?
     
  10. GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    I would pick one and monitor it. If I do end up using some explicitly NSFW parts ill probably put them in a separate thread and link here. That said I do have some worries that teenagers being teenagers will become an issue on SB, AH should be fine but you never know with that mod team. Especially when the cast starts to expand beyond the two main characters.
     
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  11. Fullmetalblazer

    Fullmetalblazer Getting out there.

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    Wow that was such a racist new seen so much racism written on paper keep up the story it pretty good.
     
  12. Threadmarks: 5.4
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Skrath huffed an exhausted sigh and leaned back into the wall behind him. He was on one of the observation balconies overlooking the sparring rings, relaxing his concentration as he watched Ori duel. If he had known what he was agreeing to when Mundi had proposed this test, he never would have agreed to it. His time had been eaten by the black hole that was the test, and he hadn’t had time for more then a cursory glance over the dossiers of all the Knights and Masters being recalled for briefings in the past week. Most of his time was taken up by meditating with Ori, running him ragged at the various gyms scattered throughout the temple, or assigning him research topics and then standing over his headstrong Padawan with a metaphorical club to keep him on task. Most of that work wouldn’t have been needed for a regular Padawan undergoing this same test, but it had occurred to Skrath on the first day that Ori was a known flight risk and he couldn’t be completely sure that he had tagged all of the false idents Ori had put together.

    “You’ve been busy,” Master Kit Fisto commented dryly. “I’ve been hearing rumors that you’re going to end up right beside Knight Raskta as an example of overtraining.”

    “Ori has some issues to work on,” Skrath replied dryly while evaluating the Nautolan Master. He was one of Skrath's top prospects for his expedition idea. Fisto was renowned in the Order for training healers, rather than one of the more common skill sets, and his skill with a saber was equal to the best of the Order. Despite his 'handicap,' and after the past couple of weeks Skrath did consider being a Consular Jedi to be exactly that, he was mentally flexible enough to get the idea and run with it. Not to mention that his own Padawan was reputed to be having issues. Perhaps working with Ori would help him clear those up.

    “He’s a Padawan,” Kit replied with a deep laugh. “They all have that… Your evaluation of the spar so far?”

    Skrath looked to where his Padawan and Nahdar Veb were sparring and almost shook his head. The view was incongruous to say the least. While Ori looked like the sort of being who should be comfortable with acrobatics, he was keeping his feet on the floor, using his superior speed to force Nahdar back repeatedly. Nahdar on the other hand had the blocky, almost blubbery appearance of his species. His movements lacked the twi'lek's inherent grace, and yet he was flipping around the ring with an impressive display of acrobatics. Not that it was getting him anywhere, in fact Skrath thought he saw the pattern of the match. Nahdar would close, trying to bring Ori to heel with a combination of aerobatic attacks and power blows, only to be overcome by Ori’s speed and greater precision, followed by an aerobatic retreat whenever Ori seemed to be getting the upper hand.

    “My main observation so far is that Nahdar shouldn’t have chosen Ataru as his primary form,” Skrath commented idly as he watched Ori go on the offensive. His saber flashed into a short series of thrusts lifted directly from Makashi, using the very tip of his saber to drive his opponent back. “His focus is on healing correct?”

    “It is,” Kit cocked his head to the side as he considered just what Skrath had said.

    “Makashi or Soresu would serve him better. Their focus on precision would aid his healing studies, the mindset behind them is much more compatible then Ataru’s,” Skrath continued frowning. He reached out with his Force sense, deliberately ignoring the burning star of energy Mundi was putting out as he walked around the room with the ease of practice, and felt his Padawan's emotions. “As for Ori, I know the conventional wisdom is that Niman is the weakest form but…”

    Skrath restrained himself from putting his face in his palms as the inevitable happened. Ori had finally gotten fed up with Nahdar bouncing around the room and with deceptive ease hurled two foam wrapped weights, on differing vectors, at his opponents back. Nahdar only had time to block one of the incoming projectiles, especially as Ori used the distraction to execute a picture perfect Makashi thrust into the Mon Cal's thigh the single weight that had hit the Mon Cal Padawan having enough mass to push his landing into Ori’s range.

    “Ori, this is sparring practice, Force skills are later in the day,” Skrath called out before the Knight monitoring the spar could get involved. “Focus on your saber skills, you need the practice.”

    “I had wondered why you allowed Ori to continue to use Niman, beyond the minor fact that a lightsaber style is an intensely personal choice that is, but I can see why now. A bit much for a simple sparring match, but good for Nahdar in the long run…” Kit gently rebuked the Investigator and narrowed his wide eyes a bit. With all the excitement stirred up lately, he was on the lookout for more information and Skrath was a readily available source, if he could be induced to talk that is. He did have a reputation for staying silent on investigative reports even after they were made public, which could present a problem. “Any clue why Ori’s left hand kept going for his hip every time they locked sabers?”

    “Yes,” Skrath answered with a grimace. He had foolishly hoped that little detail would somehow go unnoticed by the blade master. “Ori has a tendency to carry a blaster, or two, with him in the field, and when a saber is locked…”

    “He thinks it’s the perfect time to shoot,” Kit couldn’t help the chuckle which escaped him at that revelation. Underhanded though the tactic might be, it was perfectly in keeping with the mindset of an investigator; they tended to value getting the job done over the form of things. “Not exactly the Jedi way, but effective when used correctly. Probably best to have a few words with him when this is over, a discussion on the various types of sparring is in order. I take it he’s ambidextrous?"

    Ori, having helped Nahdar off the ground with his right hand chose that moment to answer the question by switching to his left with his saber as the next round started. This time he didn’t let the older mon cal set the pace, opening with a blisteringly fast series of slashes, forcing Nahdar back. Kit couldn’t contain his frown as he noted his Padawan struggling, his footwork was a mess and Ori wasn’t giving him time to reposition to correct the problem. Off balance, and deprived of the acrobatics by that fact, Nahdar didn’t last long. Ori quickly earned the next point with a slash under Nahdar’s guard as he stumbled, no Force tricks needed. Or at least no obvious Force tricks, Skrath narrowed his eyes and glanced at Master Fisto, noting that he had seemingly missed the tiny surges in the Force which indicated Ori was still using it for advantage. Admittedly they were minuscule in the greater scheme of things, they could have been covered up by Master Mundi’s presence. Or maybe those pulses are normal and you need some sparring practice yourself when the test is over, Skrath though ruefully. In any case, Skrath was grateful for Kit's silence on the subject, a discussion on the ethics of sparring was the last thing he needed grabbing his already strained attention.

    “His primary is Jar’Kai,” Skrath said evenly. From what he was seeing, Nahdar wasn’t the Padawan he wanted. His Master might very well be exactly what Skrath needed but Nahdar… He was older and reputed to be angling for a Guardian assignment, despite his focus on healing, yet he was not keeping up with Ori in the ring despite the pressure Skrath and Mundi were applying. Skrath's focus slipped as he realized the vast chasm between the technical skillsets of the two padawans and the strangely certain feeling that Ori would dominate in any real fight between the two. Skrath shook his head slightly to rid himself of the wayward thought as the unplanned reprieve was allowing Ori to sense just where the pressure on him had been coming from, which could be a problem in the long term. “Is Nahdar always this…”

    “No,” Kit’s nose widened in irritation as he said that, obviously focusing on his own Padawan for the moment. “Unfortunately, he has absorbed the more recent sentiments going around the Order that only the Guardians are active in the galaxy. You would think that by being my Padawan, he would have dispelled that myth years ago… but for some reason it has persisted in his mind. He feels the need to prove himself as more than a healer, leading to an unhealthy fascination with conflict. The contradictory impulses have been giving him issues since he became my Padawan, there are times I wish he was more like Bant. Of course, I didn’t handle her initial training, so it very well might be that this is just a stage he needs to work through before he settles down on an appropriate path.”

    “That is a trend I have noticed recently. Far too many of the Knights, and even a few of the Masters I have met with in the past couple of weeks seem to think that being active in the galaxy is enough to mark one as a Guardian. They completely ignore the modes of thought and philosophical precepts which are supposed to be the foundation for the path.” Skrath expressed his disapproval absentmindedly. Ori had reached out in the Force, and Mundi had responded by flaring his Force presence in a complex pattern in response. Skrath’s attention was so focused on the silent grappling match he didn’t watch his words as carefully as he should have. “I fear there has been too much emphasis placed on the Consular ways of thought in the creche; we are in danger of losing our dynamism to a monoculture.”

    “I wouldn’t say that,” Kit replied with an affronted surprise that quickly melted into confusion as his nose picked up on the Investigator's distraction. Kit vacillated on extending his Force senses to confirm Skrath's emotions since outright reminding others of a Nautolan's sense of smell was oftentimes detrimental to relationships, but then rejected it as being equally rude. Kit realized he was overthinking and simply replied,“These things come in waves, the Consular modes of operating are popular for the moment, but that will pass in time and the over reaction which will inevitably come will let us regain our balance.”

    “Will it? You need a foundation to build off of, and I met a single Knight with a true Guardian mindset in my interviews so far,” Skrath’s reply contained a complex web of conflicting emotions. This was a conversation he wanted to have, but he couldn’t afford to let his focus slip at the moment.

    “Yes, your recent actions,” Kit knew an opportunity when it presented itself. “You are looking for a small expedition or a multi Jedi mission to attach yourself to, I had wondered why.”

    “Because Ori is more work then I thought he would be, and with the restrictions being placed on certain systems, I have a limited pool of missions to pull from.” Skrath shrugged, acting as if he was uncaring, but Kit could smell the tension roiling below his skin. He didn’t mention the testing they were doing on his Padawan, or how it would likely require him to move outside of the Temple for a time when it was completed. Ori would need to become more comfortable in his skin after the test was concluded or his paranoia would go into overdrive every time he was in the Temple. Master Mundi understood that, and had thrown his weight behind Skrath's request for an exemption. “I thought it best to get the more instructional portion of Ori’s apprenticeship taken care before we returned to active duty and I began to instruct him on the specifics.”

    “Not to mention you wanted him to grow up a bit,” Kit smiled knowingly.

    "Yes," Skrath let the comment pass, there was no reason to enlighten Kit as to all the purposes behind the mission, a primary one being finding a suitable 'default' cover Ori could fall back on for investigations since Ori's idea of being a smuggler or rogue as a default made Master Windu's suggestion of shaving his head very attractive. Worse, the 'easy' cover for most all other twi'lek Investigators of the 'forgettable slave' was a non starter for Ori. Yoda would have an easier time pulling off that cover, Skrath thought in despairing amusement.

    “Your own thoughts on the match?” Skrath asked, putting aside the distracting thoughts.

    “Get after Ori about his footwork,” Kit said turning his eyes back to the unfolding match. Nahdar had finally found his stride and was pressing Ori hard. He was bouncing on the attack, coming at the younger twi’lek from odd angles and making Ataru work for him. Ori might be gamely defending, but his chosen style was showing its weaknesses, and not just the reputed one against blaster fire. The need to deflect blows away from him was pulling Ori off his center, allowing openings to develop in his guard, and Kit was sure Nahdar would find one soon. "Also work with him on his grip strength. I know most Jedi who use Niman don’t bother, but Ori seems to disdain using two hands for the more powerful moves in the style. His demonstration of his talent for Telekinesis explains that, but it is a weakness any knowledgeable opponent will exploit. Better grip strength will also give him a bit more leeway when working defense against blaster fire; Nahdar has been driving Ori’s saber off its best line for this latest point and it is having the same effect as Ori’s earlier demonstration of just why an Ataru user needs to have perfect balance. If Ori was even just a bit stronger then what Nahdar is doing wouldn’t work, but…”

    “I will make note of it,” Skrath eyed the match with interest, trying to see exactly what Kit saw. While he might be a Makashi practitioner when he had a saber in hand, the truth was that Skrath rarely used his saber in combat; it had seen more use as a door opener than as a weapon for the past couple of years. Ever since he had ascended to being a senior Padawan his missions had been more focused on behind the scenes action then the more up-front style which denizens of the galaxy expected from a Jedi.

    “Still, it is an impressive performance for such a fresh Padawan, especially one who wasn’t noted for his skill with a blade during his initiate years…” Kit shook his head and watched as Nahdar scored his first point of the match by pulling Ori’s saber out of position and sending a deceptively slow slash through his guard to touch along the Twi’Lek’s upper arm. The two Padawans offered the standard gestures of reconciliation, and Ori said something to Nahdar causing him to laugh as they made their way back to the center of the ring. Then the final point of the match began to play out, slowly. Both Padawans were flagging at this point, their energy largely expended. Ori was doing better than Nahdar in this regard, his chosen form was far less energy intensive and he had a distinct tendency to switch to a more conservative style of saber play seemingly at random times. Kit would have said it had something to do with the blazing presence of Master Mundi, who seemed to be orbiting the sparring gym, probably having a long discussion with someone while they walked, but possibly not coincidentally, Ori would almost always go into his more defensive mode just before Mundi reached the nadir of his orbiting walk. “You might want to suggest that Ori look into Djem So and Shien further then he has. He has a tendency to favor the Niman derived moves from Makashi, Djem So, and Shien over all others. The Makashi exercises you have shown him have given him a better base to build off of when he uses its derivatives; there is a notable difference of skill between when he uses Makashi derivatives and when he uses the others. I'd recommend working with the original form V to bolster his style. Finally, keep up the endurance training you have been doing, I think it's going to be decisive for the last point in this match and certainly is vital when you are out in the galaxy. I’m going to have to work with Nahdar on that, he seems to have been neglecting his training there.”

    “It could be he is overloaded,” Skrath pointed out, thinking of his own problems. “Force knows I have issues keeping Ori from taking on too much at once. He tends to find a project and run with it while neglecting to practice what he already knows. Any general advice? Ori is my first Padawan and I want to do right by him, I’m a bit worried by my lack of experience.”

    “I would say trust in the Force,” Kit had to chuckle at the expression on Skrath's face. The look of disgust was just too comical not to. “More seriously, you have resources, use them. Master Tulgree is back in the Temple, for who knows what. Consult with him for advice. Perhaps even allow him to meet with your Padawan and evaluate the situation for himself. You might have to worry about his sense of humor infecting your Padawan, bawdy jokes and ribald comments do tend to multiply exponentially when uttered aloud, but I have a feeling that after years of dealing with it when you were a Padawan, it is a lesser problem for you than it would be for another Knight. Your idea about getting involved with multiple Masters is a good one, but don’t count on it to solve all of your problems."

    “Master Tulgree has been in consultations with Master Nu,” Skrath said with a sour look on his face. “Due to what happened on Rothana… she's been hounding me for a more thorough report.”

    “And you're avoiding dear Jocasta,” Kit smirked at Skrath's uncomfortable expression. “She can be a bit much when her archives are proven to be incomplete. Speaking of Rothana, what did you find out there that has the Council in such a tizzy? Between the new instructions to make our reports in person and not over the Hypercom and the advisory that recommended Padawans who were more then a year or two away from graduation not enter certain systems, the entire Order has been awash in rumors. I would normally just distill the rumors to their kernel of truth, but Nahdar and myself have a mission to look over the Judicial Forces hospitals and I don’t have the time.”

    “Problems,” Skrath said shortly, watching the developing final point below to give himself time to think. Nahdar had fallen back on Shii-Cho, and was clearly nearing exhaustion; the direction of his looping strikes clearly broadcast and parried or avoided. Mundi had stopped walking and Skrath could feel him just outside the salle, his Force presence flared to pressure Ori. The response was predictable, Ori was matching Nahdar’s Shii-Cho with the Djem So inspired parts of Niman. He clearly had the blocking and deflecting parts of those moves down, but his ripostes were out of position and ineffective. It didn’t help that Skrath could see where Ori was tensing to go for a Makashi style response after a block and then deliberately choosing not to, the time he took to think was allowing Nahdar to get back into position. Something had him distracted and his aborted glances showed Skrath that he was aware, or almost so, of where the pressure on him was coming from. Whether this was a sign of prescience would be up to Master Mundi to interpret since Mundi's further explanation of the technicals of the condition had just made Skrath's head spin and the Master had mostly just instructed him on how to conduct the test and observe the results such that he could report them correctly later.

    “Perhaps a bit of work on your Padawan's focus wouldn’t be amiss as well,” Kit commented, interrupting Skrath's train of thought. “He seems rather distracted at the moment. I would wager that time in the Temple around less familiar Force signatures might do him some good. Being able to split your concentration is a useful skill, but he isn’t a good enough swordsman to do that yet.”

    Nahdar had gone on what looked like a last ditch offensive and was driving Ori back, although it didn’t look to Skrath like he had the upper hand. Ori might be defensive for the moment, but that was because he was allowing it. His twitching right hand indicated he was restraining himself from throwing things at the other Padawan to drive him back. He realized with a start that Kit was probably misreading the match, that despite his distracted state Ori was setting the pace of the match, in letting Nahdar tire himself further and buying time. Given that Kit wasn’t aware of the test though it was understandable he thought Ori just distracted, and not acting purposefully. Although for the life of him Skrath couldn’t decide if Ori’s actions were the indicators he was looking for and sincerely hoped Mundi could make sense of his observations.

    As the blades clashed Skrath decided to let the Force guide him in how to answer Kit, and what to do about his Padawan. Kit had raised Jostica Nu and her relentless pursuit of information, so he should start with that. Letting the Librarian's desires into the test might just be the thing to throw Ori off if he was simply using his sensing skills rather then prescience; after all her desires had nothing to do with the test, so they would come out of seemingly nowhere. Doing so would move up the time table, but if what Mundi had said the last time they talked was still true, then the two of them were treading water at the moment. There were too many variables, and while the pressure was substantial it was still not enough to push Ori off his course and into responding to the test. And perhaps bringing in Aayla’Secura would jump the pressure even further, push Ori to use the skill he had developed in repelling the Force in front of other Masters who could be convinced to document it for Master Nu, and just might be enough to conclude the test with a definitive answer. Although... maybe that was taking things too far; much as he wanted answers, one way or another, Ori’s safety was more important than getting those answers.

    The question of what to tell Kit was easier for him to think on, his inclination was to not say anything, but the Master did need some information. The Council hadn’t been able to put the nerf back into the pen on much of his Initial report on Rothana, but in his estimation had taken adequate measures to lock down subsequent reports. Putting the information that the Force could be twisted over a span of an entire star system wasn’t something that most Jedi should know, they would be tempted to poke at it with disastrous results. The incident at Kuat made that painfully clear.

    “There are…” Skrath started slowly, picking his words with care. “Entire systems in which using the Force is becoming… problematic. Less experienced Padawans have been led astray, with disastrous results, and so the Council is practicing caution where they can.”

    “Kuat.” Kit replied flatly, his Force presence hardening to display the Master Jedi he was rather then the inveterate joker he had been for most of this conversation. “I heard about that.”

    “Exactly,” Skrath nodded in agreement. “The situation was made worse when it was discovered that one of the premier Kuatii design teams was having a meeting there when the incident happened. That is well out of my wheelhouse, so I don’t need to get involved in that mess, thank the Force.”

    “Any advice, if I do find something like that?” Kit asked frowning. According to the reports he had access to the Padawan had become disoriented on final approach and then thought that he was being waived off by Kuat control. His acceleration just so happened to take him directly into a habitation block when he had pulled out of the flight path. Between Kuat orbital control screaming at him, and his Master getting his hands on the controls, disaster had barely been averted. When interrogated about the incident the badly shaken Padawan had said that he had suddenly become dizzy looking at his controls and readouts and both his Master and Controller Forbla’s speech had become unintelligible garble, thus he's started using the Force to guide him to the landing pad... And while Kit had experienced a Force drift of some metres while on a mission in the Deep Core, he'd never heard of the Force being so off before, and that worried him immensely.

    “Be careful, especially with your Padawan,” Skrath’s voice was low, and Kit could smell his worry. “Double check everything, and don’t let false certainty fool you into forgoing the checks. Whatever is happening is insidious, you don’t notice until your concentration is disrupted. Beyond that I can’t offer much advice, my own path is less dangerous than yours when I encounter such disruptions. My training emphasizes skills which are safer to use in areas where the Force is disrupted or strongly aligned with the Dark side.”

    “Interesting,” Kit commented, keeping his opinion to himself. Skraths advice was boilerplate, aside from his nod towards the Sentinel roots of his training. Kit would have to discover just what was going on himself it seemed, those in the know were remarkably resistant to talking about it. Given his own mastery of the Force he wasn’t too worried about it for himself, he would just need to keep a closer eye on his Padawan when they were off Coruscant. Presumably by then the entire affair would be cleared up and everything could get back to normal. The match end chime brought Kit back to the matter at hand, with Ori scoring the final point and he sighed with no small amount of chagrin. He was going to have to work with Nahdar on his saber forms, this match showing his weaknesses all too clearly. He should have been able to dominate in the ring just based on the two Padawan's choices of form, that he hadn’t was an indication he had let his saber skills slip more then Kit was comfortable with. Sure, Mundi’s Force presence was a distraction, suffusing the room for the entire match, but it wasn’t one which should have thrown Nahdar off this badly.

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  13. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    Arrogance. That's a problem.


    He's gonna fuck up, I see.




    Kinda hope Skrath and Ori have to save him. That'd be cool.
     
  14. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    I'd be interested in the MC's pov in this scene. Too often in this story I have trouble understanding what is happening with our MC. It's kind of a let down. (No offense Author). I know he's good with a blaster. The explanation for that was sufficient lacked depth, but was sufficient. I,d like to see some flashback's to the MC's initial training. With the Force and otherwise. It would sooth the whole almost breaking future possibilities that happened at Rothanwa. Maybe the MC's Master could actually be an investigator and explore his Padawans aquaintaces. (Blaster instructor, Creche instructor etc etc). Just a thought.
     
  15. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Past aquaintances
     
  16. Threadmarks: 5.5
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    For the first time since arriving back on Coruscant and despite everything, Ori's mood was on the upswing, the sense of accomplishment at having 'passed' the medical... or 'medical' in Ki Adi Mundi's case... testing gauntlet and getting a day of free time washing away most all of the paranoia the tests themselves had generated. Ori knew that satisfaction wasn't all 'his,' but then neither was the paranoia for once and so he was taking what he could get and thought back to the tests themselves. The 'pokes and prods' from Mundi on the first day of the test had clearly been the same diagnostic techniques the Healers used, but his throwaway line of there being an "Observation period" had touched nerves seemingly both 'inside' and 'outside.' The next day had seen his Master begin to apply pressure on him through the Force while Mundi hovered out of sight; Ori imagined himself as a fox before the hounds and evaded the trap even as the metaphor disturbed him enormously. Bad things happened to the fox that got caught. But so it went, each day bringing different pressures from one or both of them, forcing him to call on, and refrain from calling on, the Force to evade the hazards and bad ends he could feel being set before him.

    Ori put up with it for a week, figuring that he'd freaked Skrath out more than he'd let on with his rejection of the Force. But there was a limit to his tolerance, and that threshold had been crossed yesterday during his spar with Nahdar. He shouldn't have won that match. Under normal circumstances it would've been mightily impressive to score a single point against the senior Padawan, but after a week of needing minutes, hours or even, in one particular instance, over two days to wriggle out from under the pressure Kri and Mundi were applying, the match against Nahdar was like the hundredth replay of Orbital Velocity... it had been more difficult figuring out when to 'throw' a point to his opponent than it was to win. But in stomping Nahdar, he'd managed to divert a huge amount of the pressure Ki Adi and Skrath were exerting onto Kit Fisto, turning the irate blade master into an unwitting ally who'd chewed Mundi out publicly after recovering from the migraine both he and his Padawan suffered from the sudden release of that pressure post match.

    Just like that, however, the differences between this life and the last could sneak up on him at the oddest moments, usually putting him out of sorts for hours. Music was the big one, he hadn’t found any of the genres he had enjoyed in his last life. Everything in this galaxy seemed to follow the lead of either a jazz style or an ambient electronica, neither of which were to his tastes. Fiction was even worse! Whether prose, poetry, holos or the narratives of plot driven video games, the themes and plot elements were all over the map, and the morality of the tales that were written down were off. It was like trying to read a Chinese novel with no understanding of the culture or endnotes, utterly frustrating and confusing with the pay off being non existent and him not understanding the end. Fortunately, clothing could be found that was comfortable.

    Whenever he got the chance to get out of the Temple one of the first things Ori would do was to ditch the uncomfortable robes that Jedi seemed addicted too and get into a more comfortable get up. Admittedly his khaki cargo pants and plain black undershirt made him look a bit low class, but he didn’t care. Besides they were perfectly functional, and allowed him to move enough that he hadn’t needed to change before spending a couple of hours with Romi Quellist, the retired senatorial commando who he had found for instruction outside of the Temple, working on his unarmed combat skills. There hadn’t been enough warning to set up a tactical blaster lesson as well, but those were the breaks. Not everything could be perfect after all.

    Still the hours of repetitive katas, followed by short bouts of Ori being thrown around the mats, had been good for him. He was sore in that just finished exercising way, and aside from the lingering sentiments, the Force had been quiet and unneeded the entire day. It had been just his skills on display, none of the tricks he used when he was sparring with another Jedi, let alone the monumental efforts against Nahdar, Ori had even managed to find a street vendor selling something that was a dead ringer for candied ginger, though they called it something else. He happily munched on it as he made his way through the crowded street towards the neon sign which advertised the range he had been going to for years.

    Romi had introduced him to the old sephi named Vormir who ran the place, and been kind enough not to mention that he was a Jedi. It had long provided a safe haven from the galaxy, a place to go when things got to be just a little too much for him. Shooting had been an activity he had enjoyed in his past life and he had been pleased to find it was just as enjoyable to shoot a blaster as it had been to shoot a slug thrower. Firing at targets always cleared his head and allowed him to really think about problems, like what he was going to do about his Jedi status and the implications of the test, without interference. Ori pushed the door open with a flourish and ducked into the dimly lit shop, a shiver of anticipation going up his spine.

    “Been a while Ori,” Vormir said as soon as he recognized who had come through his door. He ran his experienced eyes over the young twi’lek and was pleased to see he was in good health, he hadn't seen Ori in over a month and worried about the kid. Most of his customers were members of the Senate Guard, with a nice leavening of private and planetary security that the Senators themselves brought, and sprinkled with the occasional youngling who was at the range for beginner lessons. Ori was an anomaly, always courteous, friendly and respectful, but intensely private and having the knowledge to defend against the basic searches he'd attempted out of curiosity's sake; Vormir thought that maybe he was the son of skilled slicers who wanted him to be able to protect himself against more immediately physical threats. It would certainly explain Romi's odd introduction, and his almost offhand advice not to look into his background. He had tried to interest the twi’lek in more legitimate paths for his skills but had so far been unsuccessful.

    “I was off world, family business you understand,” Ori replied evenly. He liked the sephi, even if he was constantly leaving pamphlets about the glories of the Senate Guard and other law enforcement agencies around for him to find. He meant well and was pleasant to deal with. “Had a contract, which was interesting, but for the moment I’m free so I thought I would get in some range time.”

    “Adjusting to a new piece?”

    “Yeah, found it in the Outer Rim. DC-15s blaster pistol, supposedly it's part of a new package of small arms for the Judiciary that’s coming down the hyper lane in the next couple of years.”

    “Interesting,” Vormir scratched at his prominent widow’s peak. He knew that the kit the Judiciary used was getting to be a bit dated, but none of his contacts in the industry had hinted about anything like this being in the works. “Mind if I take a look?”

    “Have at it,” Ori popped the power cell out of his blaster, checked the charge, and handed it over by the barrel. “So far it’s been pretty good, but I don’t have much time on it so I can’t say much for the reliability.”

    “Blastech produced, so that’s not much of a worry. They do good work.” Vormir replied as he closely examined the pistol. He could see minor faults in it due to the nature of it being such an early production run, mostly the lack of adaptability. Blaster smiths like himself were going to have a bitch of a time replacing the grips to better suit the owners. The placement of the grip screws was idiosyncratic, probably indicating an expanded Tibanna reserve, meaning he would need to either adapt the grips he had in stock or custom make new ones. “Looks like it'll be a solid general issue weapon, though customizing it is going to be a bit… bit of an issue. How much time do you have on it?”

    “Not enough. I had noticed the grip, but it works well enough for the moment.”

    “Of course, it does, you still will need that replaced if you’re going to be doing real shooting. It’s good enough as a standardized piece of kit, but when your life depends on it…”

    “I know,” Ori grimaced as he said that. He had heard variations on the theme ever since he had started to come here. Outside of professionals for whom blasters were a tool of the trade, Vormir saw them as your last line of defense, he wanted you to have the best because your survival might just depend on it. Ori on the other hand didn’t want his blasters to be traceable. It was all too likely he would have to discard one over the course of a mission and having it tracked back to his life outside of the Temple could be problematic. “I need more range time before I can say either way.”

    “No one’s in range two so you’ll have it to yourself,” Vormir handed the blaster back, repressing his frown at Ori’s choice. He knew the reasoning why Ori was so resistant to customizing his blaster, but if he could convince the young man to go through with it there was a chance he would choose not to shoot when put into a disadvantaged position. He wasn’t stupid after all, and knowing his blaster could be traced would make it less likely for him to use it. “Take lane ten, that should give you enough space even if I get a few more shooters in.”

    “Appreciated,” Ori grinned, relaxation here he came.

    “Did you bring extra power packs?” Vormir quirked an eyebrow, he knew Ori was prone to forgetting to bring as much ammo as he needed to really cut loose. He had never seen the young twi’lek bring more than two power packs when he came in to shoot, despite usually going through three.

    “Nope,” Ori shrugged as he admitted that. Keeping extra power packs at the Temple was a pain in the ass, Ruusan vintage regulations dictating that extra firearms ammunition be stored in one of the Temple's armories rather than being allowed in personal quarters. He'd read the story behind it, some idiot knight whose name had been scrubbed in embarrassment who'd thought she was the Force's avatar of sniping storing a pile of supposedly spent packs next to her space heater... and Ori hadn't needed precognition to predict the end of that story. It still didn't lessen the sting of feeling like a millennia later he was being punished for her stupidity. “Four would do me I think.”

    “Long session?”

    “Stuff to think on,” Ori shrugged. “I need the distraction.”

    “You always do,” Vormir placed the requested power packs on the counter, noting how Ori swept them into his belt pouch with practiced ease. That they fit so perfectly told him that the pouch was designed to hold extra ammo. It seemed that he wasn’t the only being who wanted the teenager to think before he opened fire, his parents were just going about it in a way he disapproved of. “Like I said, lane ten, you know the way.”

    “Keeping an eye out for the idiots in range one?”

    “Two new shooters,” Vormir couldn’t restrain the shudder of horror he had at that. Whenever there was a new shooter on the range, he was grateful for the extra armor plating between the first lanes and even more so between Range One and his office. While most new shooters were at least somewhat respectful of the deadly weapons they held, some were... not... and while he couldn't afford to be picky, he'd developed an eye to pick out the ones who would be trouble long ago. “Their parents are with them, just makes me grateful that they choose to teach their younglings themselves rather than paying for lessons. Romi may have the patience to teach, but Force knows I don’t.”

    “Then stop offering lessons,” Ori called over his shoulder as he ducked into the range, the door closing off any rejoinder that Vormir could have made. A smile split his face as he inhaled through his nose, the scent wasn’t the comforting stench of cordite, but a more ozone scent. For him it was still a comfort, even as it stung his nose, this was a place of safety for him. He made his way to the shooting booth and began the boot up process for the droid controller while laying out his power packs. He checked the connection ports on each one, a mindless action that he had repeated hundreds of times, letting his ingrained reflexes work while he calmed his mind and got into the mindset he wanted for shooting. It was harder than it had been in his last life, but still possible, the well worn grooves of familiarity allowing him to think clearly without any effort.

    “TDG-10 online,” The Vocoder of the booth’s controller had a slight reverb to it. Vormir hadn’t bothered to fix that since he had last been here, another point of familiarity. “Targeting selection?”

    “Holographic, spacing level five to start, advance one level after every ten shots. Report at end of session.” Ori’s instructions were curt, there was no reason to bother engaging this droid in conversation, it was too simple.

    “Acknowledged.”

    He easily brought the blaster up into a two-handed grip and sited down the iron sites, waiting patiently for the first target to appear. When it did, he dispatched it with a single bolt, moving on to the next in an easy rhythm, letting himself focus on the site picture and nothing else. The mindset was close to meditative, although he never had as much fun when he was meditating. His single shots rang out, dispatching the targets as soon as they popped up, calming him. He let his mind wander as he fired off his shots with almost mechanical precision.

    Ori's thoughts settled down, calming as he set about annihilating the holographic targets. It had taken years of work, but he was to the point where he could consistently dispatch even the most hardened or evasive targets with a single bolt, which was pleasing. This was a skill he would need if he wanted to survive in this galaxy, besides just being fun. With his thoughts calm and collected, he started thinking about his wider problems, trying to bring them into perspective and get an idea of how he wanted to act. He could just go with the flow, but knowing what he did? He wasn’t suicidal.

    He was in a delicate position at the moment, his hopes of disappearing into the galaxy dashed by his own arrogance, and by Jedi procedure. The simple training and philosophies the Order taught to younglings and initiates had largely conformed to the knowledge base of his first life, and he realized his slicing into the archives had just led him to all the esoteric and often considered wildly eccentric Masters who shared a very roughly familiar perspective of the Force to him when he squinted really hard. This wasn't out of confirmation bias; even though looking back, that's exactly what it had achieved, he thought ruefully, but for sake of comprehension. Eccentrics who knew they were eccentric tended to provide a lot of contextual background to explain where their reasoning was leading rather than assuming the reader was fully versed on the subject and terminology. Most of the more advanced 'mainstream' texts on the other hand did make that assumption and thus he'd blithely skipped over them as not important. He had been so certain he knew most everything important there was to know about the Force when he'd passed the Initiate Trials; his first mission out in the real world had thoroughly disabused him of that notion. Sure, being able to pick up an entire skill set as needed was useful, but if he didn’t have control then he was going to broadcast his position to all of the skilled hunters that the Empire would have.

    Worse, his unpreparedness in dealing with the Force outside of the familiar constancy of Coruscant would be the lesser of his issues if he decided to cut and run. The mundane things like space heater regulation and the Order actually being a complex bureaucracy would trip him up even more effectively. For while the Jedi as an organization might have issues of political corruption and bureaucratic ossification, they weren’t stupid or paralyzed. One of the standard parts of the medical exam all padawans got when they were assigned their Master, or to one of the service corps, was a genetic test. They said it was so that the medical Jedi would know your baseline in case you came into contact with one of the many mutagenic compounds that were out there. Ori was privately certain that while that was part of the reason for the sample, graves registration had more to do with it then anything else. Doing a Jedi’s job was dangerous, and there was no guarantee that your corpse, should it be recovered, would be in any way recognizable. Having a sample on hand meant that the Temple could confirm your death, or keep looking should they need to.

    Unfortunately, Ori wasn’t in a position to slice into that database. The medical network the temple Healers used was the most closely guarded part of the Order's network, it was actually on a stand-alone system rather than being linked and non Healer access to anything other than one's own record took documents like Council warrants. In studying the system, Ori had again run into an old and painful scandal as the reason for it, this time involving political grudges and sexual affairs between long dead Council members. And since personal medical records were far more accessed and in demand than ancient Sith Holocrons and the like, the network was based on a commercial system and had its own IT department complete with Jedi Healers trained to guard it from their fellow Jedi trying to attempt the very things he would have to do. Ori in one of his most despondent moments had thought of frying all the temple's networks using the Coruscant power grid in a rough analogue to Die Hard, but then Hans Gruber and his team had lost to one John McClain. Him being one Hans Gruber against a building full of John McClains... well... the image of it had snapped him out of his despondency right quick. But even if he went even further in granting himself success in that venture of despairing madness...

    Sidious was still out there, and despite the roadblock Ori had served up by pushing the Upholder project into being, the Sith lord was in an excellent position to take advantage of any chaos in the Temple. He was a problem which Ori doubted he could do more than mitigate against. Especially given how his information was more then a decade out of date, and from conflicting sources. The Movies were clear enough about what happened, but… especially at the end of the series, the production team had decided to explain things in secondary media he hadn’t bothered to read. The buzzing of his blaster telling him it was low on power interrupted his thoughts.

    “Reset,” Ori stated flatly, even as he absentmindedly changed the power pack and took up a single-handed stance.

    “Acknowledged, accuracy for the last round was one hundred percent,” TDG-10 buzzed out.

    Ori just nodded, acknowledging the information, as he began to shoot again. It was easy to fall into the familiar rhythm, taking unconscious action, while letting his mind wander. Trying to put the facts he had into a coherent whole before he came to a decision on what to do. He knew that the Order was fractured, Lucas may have fallen down on showing it in the prequels right up until the finale, but he had. The infamous sequence were the clones go through the Temple, shooting younglings and padawans as they go, and the camera pans to through the wall to show a cadre of blue bladed Guardians led by Pong Krell turning on their green bladed compatriots had been cinematically powerful. It had shown the Emperor's expanding influence in a slow moving, visually arresting, depiction of slaughter. Knowing what was supposed to happen, Ori just needed to figure out how it came to be, and how-to short circuit the event.

    He wasn’t going to be able to completely win, he knew that, Palpatine was too good at what he did and had the benefit of a millennium of Sith planning. Ori didn’t know where, or even if there was evidence that could shine through the growing Dark side veil. His options came down to disappearing completely to a world where no one would ever look like Dagobah when the Clone Wars started, and maybe trying to rebuild later, or starting a reform movement in the Order. Disappearing looked more attractive at first blush, right up until he thought about where he would have to disappear to, Ori couldn’t see himself doing that now. He was growing to like the Jedi he interacted with and leaving them to die without doing anything didn’t sit well with him. His mind flashed to the corpse of Jostica Nu, slashed down in her beloved archives, when she had tried to defend a class of initiates from the dead eyed Guardians. No, he wouldn't accept that.

    The problem was Ori sucked at politics. He could see where the reformers before him had made their mistakes, but actually executing a political plan? That would mean talking with people, convincing them that he had the right idea, and he wasn’t sure if he could do that. He had the knowledge, but he just wasn’t sure if he could be that convincing. Dooku had the same reforms in mind, or at least a reasonable facsimile of them, and he hadn’t managed to get anything done. Of course, his abrasive and arrogant manner had turned just about everyone away from him, but could Ori really say his own paranoid and secretive manner was any better? Sure, he wouldn’t make the mistake of trying to order everyone around like they were his subordinates, a facet of his personality Ori had enjoyed watching in the Clone Wars cartoons, but could Ori really do any better when he could barely bring himself to command the Force, let alone other people?

    Perhaps the example of Qui-Gon Jinn would be better? No, he had failed due to his embrace of the Living Force, living in the moment far too much to build anything like a movement among the Jedi. He had clashed with the council, but he had become distracted too quickly to spread his ideals. Spread his ideals, that thought resonated in Ori’s head. What he needed wasn’t to lead a movement, but to spark one. That he could do, he just needed to find the right people to talk too. Before he could get further along on that thought his blaster again interrupted his thoughts. It needed to be fed again.

    “Reset,” Ori said aloud, switching hands and slapping another power pack into the blaster. He was shooting quite a bit today, and would need to refill the Tibanna reserves after this.

    “Acknowledged, accuracy was at ninety percent.”

    “Low,” Ori grunted in irritation. It seemed he would need to spend more time working on his one-handed shooting. As if he didn’t have enough to do, between Skrath pushing him on his Force and Saber skills, and his own extracurricular interests, Ori’s time was being eaten by a black hole. Sparking a reform movement would require someone else to do most all of the political work. He just needed to find that someone first. In his mind he could see a flash of another twi’lek, it was almost like a negative so he couldn’t identify her, but the image stuck. It was a nice image, but he didn’t know enough twi’leks in the order to be sure if it was just a half remembered still from one of his clanmate's art projects or if it was a Force vision. He took a deep breath and resumed shooting, pushing the thoughts of Force visions from his mind forcibly. Today was his day off, he didn’t want to deal with the Force's bullshit. If it kept this up, he was going to be demonstrating his rejection technique real soon, Ori silently promised himself.

    First thing was to attack from the bottom up, masters were usually set in their ways and not inclined to take direction from those who had a lesser rank then them. He would need to start working on padawans and newly minted knights, perhaps Shaak Ti? She had always come across as level headed, even her trusting nature could work to his advantage. If he could gain her trust, she would be a damn good advocate for the cause. Especially if she still ascended to the Council with the death of Yaddle. Then again, he was changing things, so Yaddle might not end up dying. Who knew where the butterflies would flap?

    Slowly Ori began to see the outlines of a plan forming. He would need to talk with other padawans, just to get a sense of where they stood, and then push them towards his view on life, the universe, and everything. Ruusan was the easiest avenue of attack, a lot of the provisions were breaking down and he could blame the elevation of Quist's writings to near dogmatic gospel for much of what was wrong with the order today. If he couched it in terms of a long-delayed push back against the Senate, well, that would fit with the politics of today. The best part of this bare bones plan was all he needed to do was go along with what Skrath wanted. Going with the flow was easy enough.

    There were some steps he would have to take in preparation, while the Altisian sect was too small to serve as a counter point to the mainstream Order at the moment, that could be easily changed thanks to the ever growing stigma attached to the service corps. All he would need to do was include a couple of primers on them in the service corps next general update. It would serve to give them new recruits, albeit not the most powerful, and it would get noncombatant Force sensitives out of the line of fire. If they were running around the Galaxy with Altisian Jedi, then they wouldn’t be nearly as vulnerable to the type of mass slaughter which had destroyed them in the movies. A bit of slicing to push the Altisians to create their own network and he would make Sidious’s life far more difficult. Especially given how mobile the Altisian sect was, with further recruits and perhaps a bit of money… no that was something to think on later. Helping them out financially at this point in time just wasn’t possible given the extreme attention the Council would paying to the Order's accounts. Though he would have X-RAD look into the idea.

    Another action he could take now was to do a bit a work on the emergency beacon at the temple. A few updated orders… and the Jedi would know to go to ground and at least some of them would avoid the first wave of hunters rather then falling into the Sith’s trap as they tried to make their way home. Now what to focus on first in his arguments with his fellow padawans?

    Ori tried to shift his train of thought and only then realized the storm in the Force that had risen around him as the 'inertia' of the future yet to come ][ future yet undone, slammed into his 'back.' Hundreds of images flooded in, some faint outlines tinged in red, some half developed, and some so close to being real he could hear the Clone Wars Narrator introducing him to the plot. He saw the twi'lek from earlier in a heated argument with another padawan over Ruusan. He saw Kit Fisto and Shaak Ti in a sparring ring... although this one was fading to nothingness. Ganjay Tulgree and another Jedi he didn’t know, their heads close together as they poured over a set of plans. An Echani, double bladed light pike fully deployed, standing in front of what looked like corporate security, defiantly gesturing at them to come and get it. Ori gritted his teeth savagely, for all that he'd never begrudged his fellow Jedi for having nothing but positive experiences with the Force, this Maelstrom was the Force HE'D awakened to twelve years ago, this was the Force that had blindsided HIM on Rothana while he was too deep in the Calm Light to do more than dive further into that Calmness. Now, however, his grimace turned into a snarl of determination as he gathered his thoughts around the core of his being and PUSHED, the images pouring in turning into a morass of abstraction, contradiction and nonsense as he halted the flow of the Force and then turned it against itself, using the anti-flow to close the 'doors' to his self, and just like that, it was over.

    It might be a fundamental force of nature in this galaxy, but if Ori refused to bow to it like a good little slave, he sure as hell would refuse to be swept away like a piece of driftwood. He straightened and looked around, his eyes flashing in irritation, and was relieved to see no one else on the range. He might have felt them come in, but given the Force seemed to have ideas of its own he wasn’t sure. Gently he put down the blaster, ignoring the minor tremor in his hand, and closed his eyes. He needed to not be panicked when he got back to the temple, he needed to be calm and collected, not an emotional mess. What he had seen could not be known, but the possibility that every Force sensitive from Sidious to Yoda might have just witnessed this temporary tempest made him blanch. He needed to get a handle on himself.

    Closing his eyes and rubbing his face, Ori forced his emotions into line with ruthless determination. Skrath's training might be painful at times, but for things like this it was exactly what he needed. Knowing his emotions, and their pressure points so much better than even a few months ago gave him a leg up as he forced everything back. Centering himself before he even thought about letting the Force near him. This was going to be a problem going forward, he couldn’t afford to lose it in front of another Jedi. Not to mention he wanted to keep his ability to refuse the Force as a trump card, he wasn’t good enough to truly fight a Darksider, but he had put himself in a position where that was a real possibility. If Skrath was any indication, than pulling this in front of them would be an unpleasant surprise, and would give him a shot.

    “End session,” Ori’s voice still sounded ragged, even to himself which meant it was probably ten times worse.

    “Ending session, last accuracy reading sixty percent.”

    “I’m going to have to work on that,” Ori took a deep breath, and began to gently allow the Force back closer to him out of pure pragmatism. He didn’t allow it to go back to normal, but slowly allowed it to creep closer to him. Gently, ever so gently, he let up the anti-flow allowing it to come back fully. Mechanically he went through his end of range routine, letting that calm him, and put a power pack into his blaster before replacing it in its holster. He frowned as he no noticed that he still had one left, and then pocketed it with a shrug. He wouldn’t be shooting any more today, better to save it for later. Ori was relieved that even as the Force returned it didn’t bombard him with more images. He would retain the clearest ones that had hit him for a long time, they seemed to be burned into his mind. Looking up at the ceiling he took a deep breath and then squared his shoulders. It seemed like today was boom to bust and he could only hope he'd hit the floor.

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
  17. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    That bit about the Guardians. Where's that from?
     
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  18. Grimmouse197

    Grimmouse197 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    When he uses that anti-force does that negate mind tricks from Sith?
     
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  19. Bolo276

    Bolo276 Getting sticky.

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    It's Jocasta Nu by the way, unless she has a sister or something.
     
  20. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem Getting out there.

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    Nice Checkov's blaster pack.

    Also, I love how their attempt to force him to use his Force Disconnect technique simply trained him into not using it except in Sith battle.

    Finally, his look is awesome. Male Twi'lek with cargo pants and a t-shirt... really does it for me.

    Thanks for writing this.

    What skin color is he? I've been picturing him as red, but I can't remember if that was what you said or if I just made that up.
     
  21. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    I'm now wondering what would happen if he pulled that one out against Palpatine? It' does fuck with Force-attuned, after all.

    Can't block blasters without the Force.
     
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  22. App E

    App E Know what you're doing yet?

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    Man, I really hope he encounters some remnant of Kreia at some point. I don't know if the SI's even ever played Kotor, but boy would that sith have a field day tempting our boy, given their similar wariness of the force as an entity.
     
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  23. GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    It's a bit of an issue of pacing, thats the reason i went for in media rez for the SI rather then trying to go from the point where he realized that hes in the temple. The background charicters will come out when needed but... yeah, sorry about that.

    Supposition. The main negotiator we see on screen, both in the movies and in the cartoons is Kenobi, and yet he's classified as a brilliant Guardian. That never made sense to me, so i came up with what i thought was a logical explanation. Given Yoda is the largest intelectual influence in the Order and hes a Consular, it made sense to me that the classifications are breaking down, and over the long term the Consular ways of doing business have come to dominate.

    Active, yes, passive and already rooted? Less effective.

    Teal, when i first started this i wanted to avoid giving him too much to differentiate from the twi'lek baseline, i was and remain worried about making the charicter a mary sue.
     
  24. Mr Zoat

    Mr Zoat Dedicated ragequitter

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    Thank you, but I meant the infighting.
     
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  25. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Thanks. I like this one! It set some elements of the MC's person in stone, and I feel like I know where he is going within the Order. He hasn't "dealt" with his connection to the Force however. I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle this ! I assume we'll be seeing more of the Master next chapter?!?! Or maybe a prominent personage from the Star wars Universe for a 3rd POV (That last one feels like the one I am most looking forward to for some reason).....(scratches head bemusedly). Anyway! Great chapter I am looking forward to the next one!
     
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  26. GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    Nope, not at all cannon. In the movies Anakin takes on the entire temple almost by himself, with just clone back up, its part of why he's considered so terrifying in universe.
     
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  27. Threadmarks: 5.6
    GSpectre

    GSpectre Lurker

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    “This makes no kriffing sense!” Skrath exclaimed as he stepped back from his desk and stretched. Ori was out of the Temple doing what he called ‘normal people things,’ although Skrath doubted that most normal people would consider going to the range and spending hours working on martial arts normal. This was his first opportunity to look over the data which XRAD had been processing, not that he would end up doing anything with it beyond passing it along. He still felt better about doing so if he looked everything over personally, and pointed out issues that only a trained accountant would see. Far too many of the Investigators would read data like that and sense that it was important but have no idea how to interpret it for their reports. “Take it from the top, if you would.”

    “Accounts match down to the deci credit on the Temple side.” XRAD’s vocoder buzzed with annoyance. “Analysis matches expectations, with the pre-recorded unauthorized withdrawn funds excluded.”

    “How? Billions of credits don’t just appear out of thin air!” Skrath allowed himself to throw up his hands in exasperation. “If the accounts have the expected amount of credits in them, where did the extras which were supposedly transferred out of these accounts appear from.”

    “In the time period specified there was an unusual grouping of fees, but none exceeded a hundred credits.” XRAD stated flatly. “Suggested course of action would be to investigate the bank for fraud, but that does not show where the money came from.”

    “Wait…” Skrath felt a nudge through the Force as XRAD spoke. “Hundred credit fees… what does… XRAD what code was used to justify the fees and what code authorized the expenditure, if any?”

    “Coding on fees is standard banking clan transfer code, XX151, authorization was general senatorial oversite access when the total of fees topped a thousand credits,” XRAD replied. “Transfer was empty of credits, indicating this was an act of fraud by the bank.”

    “No this was politics,” Skrath replied distractedly. He dove for his desk and flipped through his reference books from when he was taking the test for his accounting certificate. It took him a few minutes but he found what he was looking for. XX151, personal account physical transfer of funds on a secured and regular route. The account codes indicated that this was a personal transfer, moving your money from one planet to the next when you switched jobs or the like. Moving money on this scale should have been under CX coding, the commercial variant of that code, and cost substantially more.

    “Unable to compute the probabilities, I am an accounting droid not a sociology one,” XRAD replied.

    “It would be poli sci, not sociology,” Skrath replied distractedly. He needed to get this information into Master Tulgree's hands yesterday. Something about the method was tickling the back of his mind, but he pushed past that, promising himself he would think on it later. He needed to get the information out first. Finding his com was the easy part, it might be lost in the mess that was his desk but a minor exertion of the Force was all that was needed to pull it to him. No need to waste time searching for it after all.

    The more complicated question was just who to call. His first instinct was to go right to the top, call Master Windu and lay out what he had found, but that was the wrong course of action. The Council had already assigned a Master to look into what he had found, his own master. Someone he had been avoiding because of his company. Skrath grimaced and punched the number he knew by heart into the communicator and waited.

    “Skrath my boy, how are you?” Tulgree answered, his grin obvious even though this was just a voice call. “You don’t call, you don’t write, I was beginning to think you didn’t love me anymore!”

    “Master…” Skrath sighed, hearing the teasing edge in his old master’s voice. Of course, the man wasn’t going to make this easy. “I have been a bit busy with my own Padawan, things are… complicated.”

    “They always are, still no reason to lose touch,” Tulgree’s voice carried a slightly reproving edge. “Good catch at Rothana, it made me proud when I heard about it.”

    “Thank you master,” Skrath couldn’t help but be buoyed by the praise. It hadn’t been so long ago that he had relied on that praise for his validation. “I found something tangentially related to that and I need some advice about what to do with it.”

    “Skrath…” Tulgree’s tone was tinged with exasperation. “I’ll be down shortly, do try and make your living space at least marginally habitable, for your old Masters sake?”

    “There’s nothing wrong with my quarters!” Skrath replied, eyes wide, darting around to see if there was anything his master would object too. Fortunately, Ori tended to be neat, so his areas were clean and tidy, the only trace of disorder in the entire apartment was Skrath's desk. Its cover of data pads was excusable though. Still he rose, shutting down XRAD in the process, and took the time to get the dishes put away. He knew better then to leave anything out his Master could comment on, the man would feel obliged to tease him over it. Shutting down XRAD was simpler, heavens only knew what Ori would make of his Master, and he couldn’t be completely sure that any conversation he had in front of the Droid wouldn’t be recorded for Ori’s perusal at a later date. At the last minute he remembered that the kettle was empty, levitating it to the sink and letting it fill while putting away the last of the dishes. Before he could finish the door chime sounded, rather then going over there and manually opening the door Skrath hit the open button with another minor application of the Force, while making his way over to the filling kettle to grab it and shut off the water before it overflowed.

    “Disappointing,” Tulgree swept into the room, his hatchet-faced look of disapproval only emphasized by his close-cropped silver hair. “You have a perfectly valid reason for putting up posters of Numa, Arda, and a whole variety of Twi’Lek idols and what do I find? An apartment as bare as you kept your Padawan quarters. Really Skrath, would it kill you to teach your Padawan a bit about his culture? Numa’s latest poster is a charity job for the Ryloth development agency, and Arda has one that goes towards Twi’Lek focused scholarships. Surely those would be good enough causes for you to invest in, help your Padawan develop a taste for the finer things in life and help people at the same time! Both charities are even legitimate, despite Senator Taa’s best efforts to get his grubby mitts on those credits, the Order investigated on my insistence.”

    “It is a bit bland in here, but it’s not like we are…” Skrath trailed off as he recognized the names of the ‘idols’ his master had named. “Porn stars? Really? Would it kill you to not play the dirty old man for five minutes? I suppose you handled the investigation personally.”

    “Oh no, I would never be so selfish as to undertake such an investigation,” Tulgree smiled like a naughty little boy, taking decades off his craggy face. “I just put it before the Council, Master Trebor handles the Councils publicity duties these days and so was assigned to investigate.”

    “Only you,” Skrath put his face into his hands and resisted the urge to laugh hysterically. Master Coleman Trebor was known as a prude, despite his rather high media profile he was never comfortable when faced with sex or sexuality as demonstrated spectacularly when he flubbed a live interview when the presenter wore a more daring get up then normal. Given what he was feeling through the Force he knew that Master Tulgree had acted with malicious forethought. Part of it was the desire to laugh at the hapless Vruk, but Skrath had a feeling that his former Master had been making a point to the Council, one that went completely over his head.

    “Of course, only me,” Tulgree replied bustling into the room and bringing with him a deceptively manic level of energy. “Now sit. You always fail at making tea so I will do so. Force knows I’ve suffered through the sludge you make often enough.”

    “Master, my tea is not sludge, merely at the proper strength,” Skrath relinquished his hold on the kettle and made his way to the dining room table to take a seat. He knew better then to try and argue with Ganjay when he was like this. “Just because you prefer slightly coloured water does not mean the rest of the galaxy agrees with you.”

    “Heathens, the lot of you,” Ganjay replied over his shoulder as he began to boil the water and searched through the cupboards for what he considered proper tea, huffing at the selection. “All you have is the black sludge. No greens? Not even a respectable blue?”

    “Greens are in the back of the cupboard, hidden behind the sugar,” Skrath replied easily falling back into the rhythm he had with his Master for years. “For some reason Ori seems to be under the impression that I will throw out his stash if I find it. No blue, neither of us can stand it, better to just drink hot water straight than to waste the credits.”

    “Well at least someone in my teaching lineage has some taste,” Ganjay found the tea and set about making two cups. “Now when are you going to introduce me to this paragon of virtue?”

    “When he is less corruptible,” Skrath didn’t even hesitate. “I found something in the data, our internal data that is…”

    “Yes, yes, you figured out that this whole Jedi paying for the rearmament was a put-up job,” Ganjay walked over to the table bringing with him a steaming pot of barely steeped tea. “I rather thought you would have come to me weeks ago, after all it took me all of a day to find it. Wasn’t exactly that well-hidden after all, just needed a sentient to actually look at the account codes. Force only knows why the Council didn’t have the Bursary look over the accounts and instead decided to dump it in your lap.”

    Ganjay couldn’t help the smirk that developed on his face as he saw his former Padawans gobsmacked expression. There were times when Skrath could be too smart for his own good, and forget just who it was who taught him. It seemed that Skrath had already reached the point in his Knighthood where his former Master would need to step in and council him. It happened to every Knight eventually, but Ganjay had thought it would be at least a few more years before this came up. Oh well, his Padawan had always been an over achiever, he thought fondly.

    “Skrath, just because I don’t particularly enjoy the minutia of a hands-off investigation the way you do doesn’t mean I’m not capable of doing it." Ganjay sighed a bit in frustration. "As I've always said, the bachelors in analytics and masters in system dynamics from Core U I have aren't there to enhance my cover. I have them for the same reason I disallowed specific Force meditation when you were going for your Accounting certification." His expression shifted into a small smile as Skrath abruptly shut his mouth. It seemed his former padawan had finally picked up where this was headed. “I am a bit disappointed though, you took yourself off the investigation, and then let yourself get pulled back into it. You need to focus on your Padawan, and, while you are at it, brush up on your own skills and get a proper degree and not a certificate.”

    “Master…” Skrath began but Ganjay's returned serious expression and upheld hand stopped his protests before they could really start.

    “Yes, I know a cert is good enough to work with, but you don’t learn the complexities from that.”

    “It’s done me well so far, and it was more than enough for the council when it came to my trials.”

    “Your trials had little to do with your general education,” Ganjay's words took on a dour note as he spoke, chiding his former Padawan. “I would have liked to have seen that completed before you graduated to being a Knight, but you had learned everything you needed too about the Force. There was no reason to fight the Council and hold you back for things you could accomplish without me. My own Master was first knowledge, which shows in the way I trained you, and the way I wanted to finish training you, had this crisis not interfered I would have put you through a degree program before letting you take the trials, not out of any doubts about you but because that sort of education comes in handy when you’re a working Jedi.”

    “Thank you for explaining Master.”

    “Don’t thank me,” Ganjay sighed and reached out to pour them both a cup of tea. “Because you didn’t finish your general studies, and the Council gave you no time to develop and find errors in my teachings as an independent Knight, your Padawan is suffering. He is where your focus must be at the moment, and in instructing him, work to develop your own skills."

    “I have been focusing on him, I even called in help from Master Mundi when I ran into the possibility that he had greater gifts with precognition. I’m working to get included in a multi Jedi expedition, because I know he needs more then I can teach him.”

    “And yet you only call me when you have found something for the investigation you removed yourself from. Removing yourself from that Investigation was the right thing to do, I know you heard the Force clearly when you did that, so why did you not stick to your saber?”

    “Because it needed to be done.”

    Ganjay's stance and words turned authoritarian, “Not by you, as the Master in charge of this investigation I am officially taking you off the case and when we are finished with our discussion you will give me all the data and analysis you've compiled specific to the internal Jedi accounts. You will not retain a copy of this data and analysis. Do you understand and accept this order" Skrath had braced himself for the pronouncement and even knowing his master was making it as clear as possible it was no judgement on his character, it still hit hard. Ganjay's face softened as Skrath nodded and squeaked out a "Yes, I do."

    "Skrath, while I'm coordinating with the bursary department to conduct a full audit of the affected accounts, I will tell you now that the assumptions you made to Mace and Yoda were correct, this was not a criminal action, it was a political one, and with the Sith reemerging there is no way in the Nine Hells that the timing of all this is a coincidence. As such NO Knights, or even Masters with Padawans will be conducting this investigation, and I've made it very clear to Mace and Yoda that we Investigators will not become theirs or the Council's Inquisitors; the Sith would love nothing better than for the Order to tear itself apart... But enough about that." Tulgree let the atmosphere relax as he switched to a far more pleasurable topic, “I know about your attempts to find the right Jedi to put together this expedition idea of yours. I actually think it’s a wonderful idea, it will allow you to fill in gaps that my lack of knowledge left in your education as a Knight, not to mention giving your padawan a broader palette of skills with which to tackle the galaxy. But you are already getting some push back from the rumor mill, why are you doing it?”

    “Master… I know its not the most orthodox solution, but…”

    “Skrath, I have to ask. Are you doing this because you don’t think you are good enough? Because you are taking council of your fears? That doesn’t sound like the young man I know, but others have been raising the possibility. Give me some ammo to fire back and cover you, what is the reason I’m not seeing?”

    “It has nothing to do with my abilities,” Skrath straightened up and gave his Master a slightly indignant look. “It’s my Padawan. I didn’t think anything of it when we first left the planet but... the difference between when he’s on Corescant and in the Temple and when he’s out in the galaxy, it's night and day. In the short time we were off world he was a bright child, joking with me and willing to experiment. Here? As soon as we were off the ship he started to close up, hiding what he could from me. He’s still learning, thank the Force for that, but its slower here.”

    “That is troubling, have you informed the Council?”

    “No,” Skrath shook his head slightly, a sure sign to Ganjay that he was deeply conflicted about his decision. His former Padawan always minimized his gestures when he was conflicted.

    “I’m not sure just how much of this is Ori, and his unfounded paranoia about the Order as a whole, and how much it's something here.” Skrath continued slowly. “He is sensitive, but I doubt that he is more sensitive than the entire High Council. My gut is telling me that there’s fire, but the Force remains silent.”

    “If you aren’t sure, talk to Mundi, you two seem to be getting along well enough. From what you’re saying though it sounds like this expedition would be the best thing for your Padawan.” Ganjay leaned back and looked at his former Padawan, satisfied with the information he had been given. “You have tried to vet everyone yourself, acting like you are going to put proposal up, rather than talking to people and trying to get invited in. You know Master Nu is inordinately fond of you, ask her for help. Admittedly I’m a bit busy with the small matter you unloaded on me..." Skrath chuckled at the understatement, "...but I’m hardly a recluse myself. I can think of a few names to throw at you.”

    “I’ve been talking to Master Nu for my Padawan's sake…”

    “That fancy force rejection technique of his?” Ganjay waited for the expected nod before continuing. “See? You have an 'in' there. Bet you that she at least knows of a couple of First Knowledge expeditions you could attach yourself too. Now that I think about it… She and Master Poof have been cooking up a scheme together with the archaeological department ever since you sounded the first alarm about the Republic rearming. It hasn’t gotten very far yet, but with the help of an investigator I imagine things could be sped up.”

    “Oh?” Skrath looked confused.

    “Well yes, Jocasta knows that the archive was… vetted… long before her time and the majority of the more… aggressive? Texts were removed or restricted. After Ruusan, we didn’t just give up the Army of Light, but the ability to rebuild it as well. Since that time things have only gotten worse; bringing military texts into the archives is actively frowned upon, and has been for centuries. Something about the Jedi not being soldiers and all that rot, as if what we are should restrict the knowledge we gather. We have historical texts about wars and battles in the archives, but the analysis is limited, how to manuals are simply non-existent. Not to mention we lack just about every text on building and maintaining a military.”

    “So, get the right books from one of the military academies, Force knows there are enough of them out there…”

    “For tactical manuals? Easily enough done. Strategic guides for a galactic scale conflict? Logistics primers for the same? Those books are long out of print, they haven’t been needed for a millennium. According to the rant I heard from Jocasta last night apparently there is a major difference between the needs of a localized conflict and a wider one, although we have no clue what that difference is. She’s trying to recover what we gave up but… tracking down copies is not going to be the easiest thing in the galaxy to do.”

    “What does she intend?”

    “Well, we have the histories, and we know where the battles were fought. You can’t tell me that young ensigns and the like didn’t bring along electronic copies of their texts and that Republic ships didn’t carry electronic libraries…”

    “Recovery from derelict ships?”

    “On top of tracking down what texts we can find the name of. Not to mention getting sensor data of just what a large-scale battle looks like,” Ganjay agreed taking a sip of his tea and savouring the delicate flavour, so much better then overpowering your taste buds with a club the way Skrath did when he made tea. Sometimes he despaired of his Padawan's appreciation for the subtle pleasures in life. “Do compliment your Padawan, he has excellent taste in teas. I should get him a gift.”

    “Please don’t,” Skrath interrupted with visions of just what sort of gift his Master would find appropriate for a fifteen-year-old.

    “I’ll think about it. Getting back to what I was saying before my mind wandered, it will be a long boring mission, lots of tedious sensor scan analysis and the like. More then enough time to work with your Padawan on his Force skills, along with his more combat oriented skills, given his way with computers…”

    “He would be a perfect fit.”

    “As you say,” Ganjay grinned a bit as he spoke. “Jocasta has done most of the work already, behind the scenes as it where, but she’s light on experienced personnel. Given how spread out the First Knowledge people tend to be, what with chasing their own interests and digs, having a second Jedi volunteer for the mission would be a relief. It would at the very least cut down on the time factor, waiting around for available and interested Jedi is one of her limits.”

    “And I would have known about this if I had bothered to ask her,” Skrath shook his head in disbelief. “You know I had this exact conversation with my Padawan earlier, he kept bugging me about talking to everyone when the information we needed was on the computer systems.”

    “Well they do say the best way to learn is to teach, you know. I mean there was this one time I was on Ranax VI, ended up meeting this delightful young thing…”

    “Don’t start, I’ll talk to Jocasta, no need to tell me stories about your exploits till I cave.”

    “Depriving me of my little amusements, I see how it is.”

    “A very wise man once told me to find the small pleasures in life, something about them making life worth living I believe?”

    “Exactly,” Ganjay grinned as he heard the proverb, he used to justify his humour. Then he turned serious, there was one bit of wisdom he felt he needed to pass onto his former Padawan in these fraught times. "Oh, and Skrath? Given where the battles were I doubt that Jocasta let things proceed without involving a Guardian, a true one knowing her. Don’t pass up this opportunity to brush up on your combat skills.”

    “Really Master?” Skrath cocked his head to the side. “I know my saber skills have atrophied a bit but…”

    “But nothing. We have the first confirmed sighting of a Sith since the end of the New Sith Wars. Get yourself ready to face what is to come. The galaxy is going to be a more violent place in a couple of years, so brush up on those saber skills, and probably your hand to hand as well.”

    “Hand to hand I have no worries about, Ori is enthusiastic about keeping in practice. Along with his blaster skills, and sparring with just about everyone he comes across.”

    “And you think he has greater precognitive talents? Might I suggest that you notice just what he is doing then?”

    “Ah…”

    “Yes, Ah. Use your resources,” Ganjay smirked at his former Padawan and let go of his serious demeanour. He had done what he had set out to, there was no reason not to embarrass Skrath a bit now that he had been properly counselled. “I don’t just mean your friendship with the delectable Nu, have you seen her butt? Forget credits you could bounce peggets off that work of art!”

    “Master!” Skrath shook his head in despair. Some things never changed.

    Reviewed by lloyd007
     
  28. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I love this master! He waltzes in and immediately asks where the pin up posters are!
     
    Corvus 501 and DrDeth like this.
  29. SerbobIV

    SerbobIV Know what you're doing yet?

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    "Padawan, my padawan, where the hoes at?"
     
  30. PeaceBeforeImpact

    PeaceBeforeImpact Getting out there.

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    Love Master Ganjay's Characterization. Skills skills! Need more skills! Lol I am looking forward to the next chapter thanks for the chapter .
     
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