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  1. #1
    Bits and Pieces (Stories from Outside the Current Timeline)

    Bits and Pieces (Stories from Outside the Current Timeline)

    ((I don't know yet exactly where this will fall in the RP story timeline. This little story is a response to events from the SWTOR game - so my intention is to write it while it's fresh, and then work it in. ))



    Siralai was quiet on the short shuttle flight from the fleet's Carrick Station back to her temporary accomodations. The crew didn't seem to notice her lack of conversation - but when she arrived, her husband certainly did.

    "What's wrong?" Trystan asked.

    She wasn't supposed to tell anyone about the mission... but she trusted him completely, and she needed to talk to someone who would understand, and those people were in short supply. "They want me to lead a team on a mission to Korriban."

    "Korriban?" Trystan repeated. His eyebrows raised so high that Siralai could almost imagine them retreating completely into his hairline. "We've discussed Korriban before - it's a suicide mission."

    Siralai shook her head. "Not this time. When we were talking about going alone - just the two of us, trying to find Rossi - it would have been. But the Republic has found a break in their defenses that coincides with a gap in their patrols. I think it's actually doable. But..."

    "But...?"

    "But I don't want to go." Siralai sighed, and flopped into an armchair. "I don't want to go to Korriban. I'm not afraid... well, no, I shouldn't say that. I'm not afraid that I'll be harmed. I'm afraid of what it will mean. In truth, having Korriban out of reach is easier. It makes the moral issues less complex. If a Sith attacks me on some random planet - I'd do my best to turn them, but if I couldn't, well... it would be clear who the aggressor was. Who is the aggressor if I go to Korriban?"

    Trystan nodded. "I understand what you're saying. If you go to their 'house,' so to speak, it starts to look an awful lot like self-defense on their part."

    "And they'll all be mixed together - the redeemable, the unredeemable, maybe even the innocent. How do I tell? How on earth do I limit casualties?"

    "I don't know," Trystan replied honestly. "You always try. But in this situation I don't know if you can."

    Siralai rubbed her forehead. "I don't think I should do this. I'll just tell them I'm out. There are plenty of Jedi who would jump at the chance for a crack at Korriban. There's no reason it has to be me."

    The former Jedi trailed off into silence as she realized they weren't alone. Their teenage daughter - Rossi, the former Korriban apprentice - had heard everything. The girl looked pale, staring at her parents. Siralai could only imagine what Rossi was thinking. Korriban had been an awful, traumatic place for the girl. But that didn't mean there was no one and nothing there that Rossi cared about.

    "Don't worry," Siralai said. "I'm not going to do it. I won't go to Korriban."

    Rossi shook her head. "No!" she said, her voice tense but determined. "It has to be you. Please. You have to."

    Siralai was caught off balance. "You want me to go? I'm surprised. I thought you would be worried about the people you knew there..."

    "I am!" Rossi took a deep breath trying to steady herself. "I am. And that's why. I know you'll be merciful. I know you won't hurt them if you don't have to. They have a better chance with you than with anyone else. The others from the Republic will want to... mow everyone down, and not even think about it. You won't. You'll spare anyone you can. I... I trust you. Please..."

    Siralai gave her eldest a gentle hug. "Alright," she said. "I'll go to Korriban, because you asked me to - and I will do my best to live up to your hopes. I swear to you that I will make every effort not to take any life that could be spared."

    She would travel to Korriban with a conflict being waged in her own heart, trying not to see her daughter and son in every Pureblood face. Above all, she would do her best to prove worthy of Rossi's trust.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 02-19-2020 at 02:59 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #2
    A pall of smoke hung in the air on Korriban, mixing with the desert sand to make breathing more challenging. Small fires burned everywhere. Stone was toppled and metal was twisted. Craters pockmarked the ground, and the unexploded munitions scattered haphazardly demanded caution.

    Countless Imperial banners had been torn down and tossed aside. Siralai did her best to avoid stepping on them. She had no love for the Imperial system of government, but it seemed wrong to kick an enemy who was already down - even symbolically.

    The fighting was brutal. Close quarters. Personal. But Siralai did her best to honor her promise to her daughter. No life perished by her blade that she could have spared.

    Finally there was an end to it. In the ruined chambers of the Dark Council, a very winded Siralai struggled to draw the dusty, ashy air into her lungs after a fierce duel with a Sith lord. It had been a difficult fight, and at times victory had not been certain, but she had prevailed. Her opponent had yielded. The Sith lord slumped, holding his side, as the Republic forces entered the chamber.

    An unintended frown rose to Siralai's lips when she saw who led the troops. Jensyn. A fellow Jedi... but also a Commander in the Republic military. Siralai found Jensyn unsettling - primarily for the dual role he held. It seemed wrong to Siralai for the Jedi Order to function as essentially an arm of the Republic military and law enforcement. The Jedi were supposed to be fair and impartial; an Imperial citizen should be able to expect equal treatment from a Jedi as their Republic counterpart. Siralai considered it a misapplication of their mandate for the Order to assert the Senate's will.

    Even as these thoughts once again crossed Siralai's mind, things started to happen very fast. The Sith lord stoically foretold his own death. Siralai tried to get enough oxygen into her lungs to assure him that he was mistaken. And a blue lightsaber flared to life. All Siralai could manage was a choked gasp as Jensyn's blade cut the Sith lord down.

    "How could you do that?" Siralai demanded breathlessly. "Why did you kill him? He had surrendered. You could have taken him into custody. There was no need..."

    "He raised his weapon," Jensyn replied without emotion. Without interest. "I don't take chances with Sith."

    "You slaughtered him in cold blood!" Siralai insisted. "What you did was a war crime! I'll report you for this."

    She did. She reported it to anyone who would listen. No one seemed to care. The death of Darth Soverus was met with shrugs at best and approval at worst. He was a member of the Dark Council. He was a Sith. He had undoubtedly done evil things.

    And his skin was red. Siralai suspected that ultimately, Soverus being a Pureblood was seen as the worst crime of all. She couldn't find anyone on the ground on Korriban who would listen, or condemn Jensyn's actions. It seemed she was on her own.

    "You can return to Carrick Station, ma'am!" a young Republic lieutenant assured Siralai. "Our teams can finish securing Korriban."

    "I'm not leaving until everyone else does," Siralai said. It was unsettling, realizing she had to protect Korriban from her own troops rather than vice versa. That she couldn't trust her own people not to commit more war crimes. Those who marched under the banner of the Republic were capable of just as much cruelty as those under the Imperial flags now trampled underfoot.

  3. #3
    Everyone at the makeshift camp - other than Siralai - seemed surprised when there was a counterattack. Siralai was only surprised by their shock.

    The others fumed, cursed, hastily made preparations to launch for Tython... all expressing bafflement and rage that this could have happened. That the other side would have the knowledge and audacity to pull the same gambit. That this time, it was the home of their own Force users being invaded.

    All Siralai could think was, Well, what did you expect?

    Korriban had been an act of aggression. Had it occurred to no one in the Republic leadership that the Empire might retaliate in kind?

    That didn't mean, of course, that Siralai didn't help push the Imperial troops out of Tython. Her ship launched with the others, back to defend the Jedi Order's homeworld. Not because she thought her efforts were particularly deserved - but because Tython was too important to lose, and because most of the people there had no say in the hairbrained scheme to attack their Sith counterpart.

    Stepping back on Tython's soil, it was odd to think that it used to be home. Not because of the wreckage and desolation of a hostile invasion. Not because the Temple had been damaged and desecrated. But because it all felt so... distant, now. So long past. It hadn't been so many years, really. But her life had changed so much. She finally belonged - and it wasn't here.

    Tython was reclaimed by the Republic. Korriban was lost to them. How else could it have been? Siralai had never truly expected any other result.

    The Republic declared victory. But Siralai was sure that back in Imperial space, the Empire had declared victory as well. Countless lives had been lost. Gallons of blood saturated the ground of two planets.

    Not an inch of ground was gained by either side.

    Not an inch.

    Siralai closed her eyes and meditated. There is no death, there is the Force. There is no death, there is the Force...

    It had become harder and harder to believe that as the years wore on and countless lives were spent in a futile and seemingly endless struggle. Would it ever end? Could it ever end?

    Siralai had to believe it could...
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-04-2020 at 07:34 AM.

  4. #4
    ((I'm pretty sure this thread doesn't have readers other than me, but just in case, this post contains spoilers for SWTOR regarding the interlude before Knights of the Fallen Empire.))


    Once again, Siralai stepped over trampled and torn Imperial banners - but this time, there had been no Republic soldiers involved. Seemingly brainwashed Imperial troops had fired on their own on Ziost, fellow soldiers and civilians alike. Siralai had been called upon to help stem the tide of bloodshed, but there was so little she could do. So little anyone could. She couldn't be everywhere at once, blocking every blow and shielding every terrified citizen.

    This hadn't been a mutiny. It had seemed that way on the surface, but it quickly became clear that that the brainwashed troops were following the orders of their Emperor. Their dead Emperor.

    The "dead" part was less surprising to Siralai. She had seen too many strange and impossible things to doubt that someone could feign death - or return from it.

    No, what shocked her was that the devastation was turned against the Emperor's own domain. It was not just unbearably violent... it was counterproductive. How could you hope to win a war if you devastated your own people indiscriminately, without even so much as a military goal?

    There was a goal, though, it turned out. The slaughter wasn't random. The Emperor was powering his own immortality with deaths - and not just the deaths of enemies. The deaths of his own would provide just as much fuel. The Emperor was not just a danger to the Republic. As it turned out, the Empire itself had just as much to fear from its resident megalomaniac as the other side did.

    The fighting slowed, then stopped. Some around Siralai were declaring victory... but Siralai hesitated. There had been no decisive winner. Some ground gained, some regions pacified, but the tides had not turned so far that the upper hand could not be regained - especially since the Emperor would benefit from the deaths on both sides, so dragging out the combat as long as possible should better serve his ends.

    And, as it turned out, the greater horror was yet to come.

    Siralai watched helpless, from orbit, as a massive wave seemed to descend on Ziost in a great, unstoppable rush. The surface of the planet was scoured into lifeless oblivion. Shadows and dust. Every living thing murdered by an enemy that couldn't be fought. It had all been for nothing.

    The Emperor had won. The people of Ziost - his own people - were gone, wiped out in the space of seconds to feed his lust for power.

    What was the point of that power, Siralai wondered? To be immortal, but at the price of being alone in the galaxy. Why would anyone choose such an end? A life without love, without connection to another being, was surely a fate far worse than death. Why would anyone choose it willingly? Why would anyone seek an existence that was not truly... a life?

    Siralai carefully scooped a bud from the charred Ziost soil. The bud was dead. Withered, lifeless. Petrified forever in that state. But she gently planted it in her rooftop terrace garden on Coruscant anyway, as a reminder of Ziost. As a reminder of what had been stolen - and what must yet be protected at all costs.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-15-2020 at 05:12 PM.

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