(I found a pile of old stories from Ker’ase’s first walk in my original SWTOR RP guild. Just reposting them here for y’all’s enjoyment and my archival. Likely more than one long journal – we’ll see where it goes!
NO events here are current – but they are the backstory.)
Dromond Kaas Shuttles, eight years ago.
“Get ’em loaded, Ulf. The cycles are ticking, and I want to hit the cantina. Doge Maas is playing tonight.”
“No kidding? She’s got a great show.”
“Heh. You heard what the new one’s called?”
“Two tails, no top.”
“… seriously? I am /there/.”
The two guards were indifferent as the coffle of slaves – only five of them: three humans, a Duros, and a Cathar – was dragged up onto the ramp of a waiting Tau- class shuttle by an even colder human in red armor. One of them lashed out with a prod as the Cathar lagged; the alien yelped, but picked up the pace. The Sith, for it was a Sith, in the red armor did not turn, rather, he pulled harder on the chain, snarling to the line behind him, “You will not delay me.”
The shuttle was empty, engines on but lights low. The Sith fastened the coffle’s binding chain to stanchions in the shuttle’s small cargo bay that apparently existed for that purpose; ignoring the slaves, he proceeded forward, letting the six drop to the deck in various attitudes of an attempt at relaxation. The slaves looked to each other, as the engines spooled up, and repulsors engaged, but it was the Duros that broke the silence.
“Gann. Of Moreth colony.” It was a long several seconds before the others spoke.
“Hiseth.” That was the Cathar.
“Whesker. Call me Ott.”
The engines hummed; the ship eventually lurched into hyperspace. The five talked, trading stories of bad luck and debts, masters good and bad. Minutes passed into hours, and the hold remained unchanging. Eventually, they slept, dropping off one by one to the quiet drone of the ion reaction and the roar of machinery.
Gann came to first, to find one of the storage cabinets was open, and a slight twi’lek was crouched over him – a vibroknife in one hand, and an odd, flickering bit of tech in the other. She regarded him curiously, as one might speculate over an oddment found in a market – flipping the knife over in her fingers as she stated, quietly, in huttese – “You aren’t very pretty.’
“…no.” He kept his voice low. “They didn’t buy me for my looks.” A quick glance to either side showed that the rest of the coffle remained asleep – Tarren was snoring. Loudly. He slid a hand, slowly, to the side, reaching out for the Cathar.
“you’re /interesting/. I’ve never really talked to a Duros.” She tisked then, bringing a heavy boot down on the Duros’s hand. “Naughty. Don’t do that. He’s sleeping. That wouldn’t be nice at all.”
He yelped – across the bay, the female human, Isabel, stirred. “.. I wasn’t!” He didn’t bother being quiet. In fact, he started yelling, thrashing.
She cut his throat easily, quickly – even as the rest of the slaves awoke, most scrabbling away from her and the sudden mess on the deckplating. She seemed unconcerned about Duros blood, the twi’lek reaching out with that device to set it against the dead alien’s collar, triggering it with a quiet ‘beep’. His collar fell off, then, and she reached down to retrieve it. It was the Cathar that found his voice first.
“He was an idiot. Cut me loose, and I’ll fight with you. we can take the shuttle.” The others chimed in similarly, a desperate hope going through the group – except Isabel, who just stared at the dead Duros.
The twi’lek ignored them, dragging – with considerable effort – the Duros in the direction of the aft lock, humming to herself – an oddly happy song, a lilting thing that was better suited to a summer day than the stinking hold of a shuttle with blood on the floor. Cycling the lock took only a moment, and she returned with cleaning supplies. ” I’m not here for that. Besides, you couldn’t kill the pilot. He could take you apart before you managed to blink twice.” Her tone was conversational, even amused, as she started working, cleaning up the blood. “You wouldn’t want to anyway, if you knew where you were going.”
The others protested. Offered bribes. Isabel quietly started helping. In the end the Twi’lek just ignored them all. Once they fell into a confused silence and the blood was washed away, the female dropped the odd device and stepped on it. Hard. It sparked; she picked it up and tossed it neglegently into a recycler.
The others stared at her in open shock. “What? You thought I was going through all of this trouble for /your/ sake? That’s adorable.’ She picked up the Duros’s collar then, eying it speculatively before casually applying it to her own neck, thumbing the activation stud, and taking his place in the line of slaves. “No. I’m going with you – and if you’re smart, you’ll keep your mouth shut.”
There is a holocron, available in the Sith Archives on Korriban. It’s a subpar device, visibly cobbled together in a way that the older, more elegant devices of an earlier age are not. A rounded cube, it moves between a subtle red and faint gold when activated. Dusty and in a forgotten corner, for the first to find it? It likely hasn’t been activated in years.
The Guardian is simply a Twi’lek in a simple robe, leaning on an old-fashioned staff. Her lessons are meditations on the Code, and the nature of the force.
“By this time, Seeker, you likely know the Code. Hidden within it are – as you’ve been told by your overseers – the keys to power, the very root of all speculation on the nature of the Force. There are reams of meditations on the force itself, and listening to one more, while never remiss, would not be of significant immediate value.
“Let this, then, stand as a warning on the traps hidden within the Code, the stumbling blocks that will prevent you from reaching your full potential, as they have me. Take my life as a warning – seek not to emulate it, rather, seek to transcend it.
“Begin by recognizing that the Code of the Sith and the Code of the Jedi are both intentionally flawed. They are simple, surface explanations of deeper concepts that take a lifetime to comprehend, and cannot be mastered. There is always more to learn, always more to grasp, and more than can be wrung from your understanding. The first trap of the Code, then, is hubris.
“Never assume you have mastered even your basic skills. Always strive to reach farther, to understand more, to test your assumed limitations. Being certain in your own power to the exclusion of respecting the potential power of others, or, worse, discounting the potential of others, will be your death.”
“Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
“These words are at the core of what it means to be Sith – and they were written, as history notes, as a direct response to the Jedi, and the code that had come to be. They are a reminder from our philosophical ancestors about the trap inherent in the mysticism of the Jedi.
Peace, then, must be viewed through the light of what the Jedi claim it to be, and how they practice its implementation.
“For a Jedi, peace is not the interlude between wars, or the idyllic notion of green fields and simple living. Rather, it is the peace of nonattachment – the so-called peace that comes when the world ceases to affect you. Fearing their emotions, the Jedi withdraw, choosing to feel nothing, choosing to act only when it is done without anything more than what they claim to be the ‘will of the force’ to guide them.
They claim that, in this state, the user becomes attuned to what the force ‘wants of them’, submerging their ego and thus ensuring that their motives remain ‘pure’. I would ask this, however – what motives can one have when the ideal state is to be utterly unaffected by the events that transpire? What possible worth is mastery of the Force, when it comes at the expense of the will to use it?
“In this way does the Sith code posit something more. It shows us that the peace of the Jedi is an illusion, a false path, one that creates individuals who no longer have the will to change the galaxy or the motivation to act when it is required. The so-called ‘light side’ grants ability at the expense of impetuous, clarity without reason.
“The Sith Code reveals that the only reasonable path is that of our passion, regardless of source. When our command of the Force is bolstered with the fire of our emotion, we show the true capabilities of the Force – we gain the power and will to change the universe to our whim, rather than to sit in passivity and watch it pass by, filled with tremendous potential but unable to release it in a meaningful way.”
One year ago:
The training dummy rocked as the twi’lek landed a series of punches, ending with a roundhouse kick to the thing’s head. The lean in the deck added just enough of an extra tilt to send the thing over, landing heavily on the deck. The twi’lek stared at it and let loose a string of expletives in four languages, gesturing grandly.
“… stupid, idiotic..” she moved, exasperated, to try to lever the heavy thing back up to upright, grunting with the effort and, honestly, failing – trembling arms not getting a decent grip. She let it fall again, grumbling. “Fine. Lay there.” She stalked away, in the direction of the ‘fresher.
The holocom revealed a slender Rattataki female in a Watcher’s relaxed dress… drinking something from an unmarked bottle. – Ker’ase flopped on her pallet, muttering – “… he’s /irritating/, Tak. Doesn’t listen to a thing. He’s a coward – if he’s got to face himself? It terrifies him.” She points a finger at the image. “Reminds me of your sister. My Kei would call me stupid for pushing him – and she’s right. If they’re not ready for it, what’s the point in even trying, right?”
“Maybe. Why’s he under your skin?”
“Because he’s a friend. Yeah, I know. Laugh.”
The image did laugh – “You. Friends. Geez, Nima, did you get caught in a nova or something when I wasn’t looking?”
“Uh-huh. I’m talking to you, aren’t I?”
‘Yeah, but I’m a special case, and you know it. I’m not your friend. I’m your special project.”
“Hmph. You /were/. Now you listen to me vent.”
“And moon. Don’t forget the mooning. Speaking of such things – how are you…?” Tak leered.
“Just /fine/. She’s busy, and she’s a Sith.” Ker’ase’s tone was defensive, then.
“Uh-huh. Admit it, you miss her.”
Ker’ase sighed, then. “Of course I do. I’m hopeless, and my mentors would disown me – goddess. Can you imagine my master? I can hear him now – ‘Chains you assume, slave, are still chains.” She rolled her eyes. “He was a raging bastard.”
Tak reclined in a long chair – taking a pull from that bottle. “how’d the code cylendar work out?”
“No idea. Hopefully well – you saved my rear end. I owe you.”
“Nope. We’re even. You saved my life – and my career. Now I’ve done it for you. Seriously, though, do you /really/ think that Darth would kill you?”
“Yes.” Ker’ase sobered, studying the holocom. “Either I’m useful, or I’m dead – I don’t have illusions either way on that. I may have screwed up – I should have signed on with one of the Mando families.. whasitcalled. Allits, or something? Anyway. One of them, or that smuggler out of Mos Ila. I’ve been slipping, Tak – getting comfortable. Trusting people. What is -wrong- with me?”
“Kei made you soft.”
“Okay, fine – maybe not. Want a professional or personal opinion?”
The rattatki leaned forward, then. “You’re getting desperate. You’re forgetting the long view – you’re so eager to push your agenda, to get fixed? You’re forgetting you’ve got to survive. You’re taking unnecessary risks – getting mad, and you don’t have the Force to back you when you’re mad anymore. Just makes you sloppy.’
“….. mmph. So I’m sloppy.”
“Yup. Your mad-on isn’t giving you clarity – it’s making you screw up.”
‘No problem. It’s what I do. I’m out – got to run. Another one of those meetings in the morning – and, besides, you’ve got company coming, right?”
“Yeah. Yeah – right. I do. Later, Tak.”
Ker’ase reached up and flicked off the holocom… and rolled over on her pallet, in the dim light of the cargo bay, reaching for her blanket.
“Through Passion, I gain Power.”
“Out of all of the lines of the Code, many filled with such potential confusion and the hidden traps of the mind and the Force, this one is the most straightforeward. Passon fuels the Sith, and our passions give us focus and allow us to bend the Force to match our will.
“However, passion is dangerous – the Jedi fear it. They speak to it in their own code, contrasting it against the ‘peace’ they seek – “there is no emotion, there is peace”. As with all things the Jedi do, it behooves us to examine their tradition, to understand why they fear what they fear, and what we can learn from their understanding; it is another thing that separates us. Simply, the Sith are free to use all tools at their disposal, and it would be a poor member of the Order that let wisdom lie simply because its source is objectionable.
“Why then, is passion something the Jedi fear? Simply, passion unbridled, unleashed without any semblance of reason or restraint, becomes destruction for destruction’s sake. The very strength of the Order becomes its undoing as that directionless impulse to tear down the foundations of civilization and discourse annihilates any hope of a lasting future.
“While complacency and inaction is the Jedi’s downfall, leading their order to stand idly by while the galaxy changes around them, the destruction of all outside the self – the loss of a higher purpose in the midst of the pursuit of power – is the cliff to the side off the path of the Sith. To live the code is forever an act of balance: we must seek strength in our passions without allowing them to consume us utterly.
“Ethics are foolish, and morals are dictated by the needs of the moment – these are true statements. That said, in the pursuit of power, one must never lose sight of the larger picture, nor must one be tempted by the moment at the expense of the great. Pursuing power is the very definition of being Sith, but we often fail in understanding how to use that power to its proper end.
A year or so ago, The hold of the Fury Victus, Nar Shaddaa:
The hold lights flickered in the dim; with the ship’s one good engine out, Ker’ase was forced to rely on the unsteady vagaries of power at the pad. It was an irritant – the costs were extortionate, and the service terrible, like so many other things on this level of Nar Shaddaa. At least, though, the heat was steady – after Voss, I just can’t seem to get warm.
Sitting at the small group of crates that masqueraded as a workbench, the twi’lek looked down at two cases, both open and arranged just so. The everpresent dust of metal construction was cleaned off fastidiously, a hallmark of how long she’d procrastinated, sitting there. Even as her hands busied themselves with attaching armorplast to repair a broken plate on her shoulder, her eyes drifted back again to the two cases.
On the left was a pair of Aurek blasters with power cells, still shiny and new – emitters having barely put a thousand bolts downrange in practice. On the right?
In the case, nestled carefully in neatly labeled cutouts, were the parts to a saber – a long handle, a pair of emitters, power crystals and a new powercell. The machining was perfect, the close-in metal blades on the saberstaff’s emitter base were polished to a mirror shine, sharp as a thought, while the exterior coverplates were inlaid with careful etching that only showed when the light hit them just so. In its own little spot laid a crystal – silver-white and glittering in the dim, perfectly shaped, rare, even by rare crystal standards. The pieces of the saber glimmered in the flickering light, and the twi’lek found herself running a hand along the edge of the case holding them.
So what now? the thought came unbidden in the gloom. /when/? Where do you even start?
The Twi’lek sighed, laying the breast-and-shoulder plate assembly aside, leaning back in a stretch that set backbone to cracking and had her wincing more than once. I know I’m clinging – with all of Kei’s talk about symbols, I’d be stupid not to see the ones around me. She sighed, then, looking up at the Fury’s battered interior, looking at stressed joists and the gloom with a tired expression. Kei’s vision may be more right than she knows. A broken down shell of a Sith, hiding away in a ruined ship in a forgotten corner of the galaxy? Sounds about right.
Gloomily, the twi’lek went back to her repairs – which lasted perhaps a minute before she tossed down tools, reached over to pull on a shirt… and then picked up the blasters, settling them into place on her hips with a disgusted expression. Enough. Enough now. Out loud, she muttered – voice echoing in the darkness. “I need a /drink/.”
It didn’t take long to walk out into the light and the fury of the Promenade, to get lost in the revelry.
“It is worth, I think, Seeker, to discuss the idea of deception – too often we get entangled in the outdated, moralistic nonsense that makes up ‘honor’ or ‘correct behavior’. In doing so, we lose what it means to be Sith.
“Honor, glory, recognition – these are outmoded concepts, useless appendages to be tossed to the side, wielded when their use is appropriate but left to rust when they are not. In the end, there are only ends – does it matter if your opponent dies to your saber blade or to a well-placed poison? Dead is dead – there are no ‘good deaths’ or ‘bad deaths’, there is no place for being squeamish over methodology, and one should never allow a misplaced sense of altruism to still an intended blow for some insignificant reason like ‘honor’.
“Deception, then, is a fundamental weapon – and likely the most dangerous in the arsenal of skills and tools available to the Sith. Well-placed deception is a better protection than the thickest armor or most alert awareness in the force: if the blows are never aimed at you, how can they connect? It is a better weapon than a blaster, saber, or even an entire fleet: if the enemy never knows your own stroke is coming, how can they defend against it?
“Never allow your motivations to be visible. Never seek glory or recognition unless they are tools to a larger end. Be wary of titles that you have not taken; fame that is granted to you limits your mobility and ability to respond to rivals. Above all, remember that the best deceptions predicate on truth; the truth that raises them up strengthens them, makes them more difficult to perceive, and all the more dangerous when the deception is rejected in its entirety when it is seen through.
“Deceptions are never permanent. They must end simply because a deception without purpose is a waste of energy and attention – they must exist for their reason, and they must be discarded when that purpose is at an end, or when it is no longer viable.
“Above all, you must keep your ends firmly in mind – the correct action is always the one that brings you closer to your goals, and you must ever be honest with what your goals must be. All other considerations are secondary to the victory you have set out for yourself.
“Finally, remember this: a deception is not a lie, rather, it is an obfuscation of truth and motive, an attempt to shift another’s perception of reality to elicit a specific action from them. A lie is too easily discovered, too limited in scope. Reality is what it is, and cannot be blithely ignored – anything contrary to that reality will be found out and rejected, often violently, by even the most untrained mind. This is where your plans will fail.