Posts: 225
  • Posted On: Dec 7 2003 7:02am
Tobal stood with Jiren, and followed him out of the library. The massive revelation - that he had found someone else of the same race, the same blood as he - was a stunning thing for the young Jedi. Not only was someone, in essence, related to him, but also this someone was one of the most renowned and feared (depending on whom you spoke to) Jedi to walk the galaxy.

Asthentian. The name had a, a familiar ring to it. It sounded vaguely accented, like the accent of his village. It sounded like home, even though Tobal had never heard it before.

As the two Jedi exited the library, Tobal ventured a question as to their destination. He almost asked why Jiren would seem to be so bitter as to his own past, but he refrained.
  • Posted On: Jan 10 2004 2:05am
"We're going to see a friend of mine," Jiren answered cryptically, as they emerged from the library onto the street outside. Trees and all manner of plantlife gently swaying under a chill breeze, bathed in sunlight, the place was not unlike a primitive vision of Eden, aside of course from the monstrously tall buildings that filled the huge city.

A speeder appeared almost on command as the pair reached the end of the walkway. It was a compact, blue late-model airspeeder, one piloted by the trademark blue-armored guards of Asthentia.

"Hop in," Gash said sardonically.

* * * * *

Their destination turned out not to be too distant from the library, though it was well over thirty stories higher. The speeder touched down softly on a landing pad at this altitude, the cabin depressurizing. Both Jedi exited, the elder Jedi Master pulling his cloak tighter about him against the now-battering winds. The entrance, at the end of a long catwalk, could not come quickly enough.

As they ducked inside, Gash spoke. "On Ossus, we would like to think that our attunement to the Force and our ancient setting have allowed us a certain amount of enlightenment. Enough to have risen above the trivial brutalities of less civilized societies."

The interior of this level of the towering structure was a placid, whitewashed corridor, seemingly constructed of polished stone. As they reached a door at the end of the hallway, it slid open before them, revealing a pair of Cobra Omega Battledroids. "Welcome," they greeted in unison.

"Prisoner 8667, please," Gash said, smiling back at a somewhat uncertain Tobal. "This is a prison, Tobal," he said, as the droids marched away, and the two Jedi followed them. Down several more gleaming white hallways, they stopped in front of a durasteel door, with only a single, reinforced piece of transparisteel at face-height marking it.

Gash looked into the transparisteel, smiling slowly. "Take a look," he invited Tobal.

Inside was a single man, in a set of what seemed to be Jedi robes, sitting crosslegged on the floor. His eyes were closed, his expression blissful and serene. "Alert the prisoner, if you would," Gash commanded the droids. One of them -- using the strange impliment attached to his arm (or perhaps having grown out of it, given the nature of these droids) -- interfaced with a small panel on the wall. Dimly audible through the door were the words, "There is a visitor for you, Valarius. Master Jiren and another Jedi."

The man inside -- Valarius, apparently -- looked about curiously, blinking. He stood, marching over to the door, and peering through the transparisteel. A genuine smile blossomed on his face as he saw Gash Jiren peering back at him. In fact, even through the glass, the honesty of that smile was striking; it was one that only a truly contented man could display.

"Hello, Master Jiren. I'm glad you came. I've been waiting for you to visit."

"I'm glad as well, Valarius. I'm sorry it's been two weeks since my last visit. I've been quite busy with my duties as Sovereign."

"Yes, I read about it," the man said, nodding seriously. "Terrible, the incident in the Gemswald system... I hope you sent a letter to the families of the victims?"

"Of course. Valarius, I have someone that I would like you to meet. His name is Tobal Hadul. Like you, he's quite lost."

Valarius nodded to Tobal through the transparisteel, still only his head visible. "Hello, Tobal."

The confused lines on Tobal's face had only deepened. "Would you like to know what Valarius' crime was, Tobal?"
Posts: 225
  • Posted On: Jan 10 2004 7:48am
"Hello, Valarius," replied Tobal.

He looked at the man closely. The face seemed truly content, almost blissfully so. The thought of, this is a prison? came to Tobal's mind as he looked away from the prisoner, and at the walls about them. The prison aboard the Corruptor had been an unpleasant place, unpleasant for a purpose. The Order didn't want people enjoying their stay.

But here, here it was like the luxury rooms aboard the Corruptor that high-ranking visitors were housed. Here it was more comfortable than many of the places Tobal had stayed while on his journey.

Looking back at the prisoner, Tobal did indeed wish to know what he had done. And he wanted to know what had been done to him in return.

"Yes," said the Shadow, "what did he .. you," he addressed the question to Valarius, "what did you do?"
  • Posted On: Jan 22 2004 1:54am
Valarius instantly became rather nervous, looking at his feet, glancing furtively up at Gash. "Valarius does not like to discuss his crimes. He is only beginning to come to grips with them; the second part of a long healing process."

Gash smiled slightly. "Valarius is here because he raped and brutally murdered three women after a period of prolonged torture, and was, at one point, a known and feared serial rapist."

The Jedi Master allowed several moments for this revelation to sink in. He didn't seem uncomfortable with the fact that in front of him, between two inches of metal, there was a convicted rapist with whom he was on a first name basis. Indeed, he seemed to take a certain amount of vindictive pleasure in the shock that registered in Hadul -- quite unlike a Jedi.

"On any other world -- any other world -- Valarius would have been executed a long time ago. The evidence was damning, his defence nonexistent, and his crimes probably some of the most horrible this sector of space has seen in a very, very long time.

"But prison on Ossus is not a punishment; it is a rehabilitation. Prisoners stay as long as they need to. No one is subjected to untoward suffering. Retaliation is a concept birthed by primitive humans, and it is, in my opinion, the worst of all such things. An eye for an eye, it's been said, does nothing but make the whole world blind. Every life has virtue."

Gash nodded towards Valarius, who had retreated to the solitude of his cell and was now reading a book. "He is perfectly aware of his crimes, Tobal; no Jedi mind games occur here. That is a law; never tamper with the mind. Instead, we use our ability to read and understand beings to help them, as was never possible in the primitive societies that made us of retaliatory justice.

"But you're wondering why I brought you here," Gash continued, and Tobal nodded somewhat blankly. "This is the counterpoint to the game Xireon played with you, that day, on the Sith world. You see, Tobal, it is that thing -- perhaps that very specific phrase, 'Every life has virtue' -- that seperates us from them. A criminal from a Jedi. You from Lord Xireon.

"When I found Valarius he was lost. He was wandering in the darkness, caring about nothing, retreated to within a shell. He cared for no life, least of all his own. And this in itself freed him from the restraints of morality; if there is no self, there is no blame. Life is just a series of 'heres' and 'nows', scarcely connected. Xireon is the same. He does not live, he merely exists, having given into the most primal of desires, thrown his sense of self to the wind and set at the center of his life the pursuit of power.

"Anyone is capable of murder. Anyone is capable of atrocity. The primary instinct of all beings is to survive, and that is what they will do. Gaining power is one of the ways sentient beings achieve that survival. There is something -- some unknown factor, some element missing at birth -- that separates good from evil, us from them. Any person not possessing this simply acts on those instincts. Sentience is what mutates instinct into evil, because while a dog only takes what it can, a human can think; 'what if I take so much that only I remain'?

"That aspect is determined by a choice. A choice to favor oneself, or to favor others. That is the nature of the Dark Side. It is a choice to be selfish, to take the easy path, to have concern only for oneself. It is the choice to let that unknown aspect go.

"And that unknown aspect is a sense of self. A sense that there is something unchangable about the soul inside of you, a sense that there is some sort of karma that must be repaid in this life or the next. That blame and responsibility exist."

Gash shook his head sadly. "But I am rambling, as I'm prone to do. What I'm trying to tell you, Tobal Hadul, is that while the same ancestry may flow in your veins as Xireon's, you are not the same. As long as you cling to that -- as long as you cling to your identity, to what makes you the man you are -- you will never become Xireon. Despite what ideas his sadistic mind games may have put into your head."
Posts: 225
  • Posted On: Jan 29 2004 5:53pm
The words of Jiren echoed in Tobal's ears. He looked over to Valarius. A man who had murdered women after taking something from them was sitting there blissfully reading a book. His was living standard in a place of whose living standards were probably equal to that of the Ossus standard, but Tobal doubted that the Galactic standard of living was this high.

" As long as you cling to that -- as long as you cling to your identity, to what makes you the man you are -- you will never become Xireon. Despite what ideas his sadistic mind games may have put into your head."

Turning back to look at Jiren, Tobal's tone was different than it had before. From the slightly humble tone it had shifted to a tone of a man speaking to an equal. "I am not afraid of falling to the dark side, Master Jiren. That is not why I came here. I came here because I need a different kind of help."

He paused for a moment. "You are right. The Dark Side is a choice to favor oneself. It is a choice that one makes, a choice to turn ones back on all that is good and to wholly embrace the bad. It is the most damnable of choices that a sentient being can make."

Tobal looked straight into Jiren's eyes, his own silvery gray eyes containing an intensity he rarify allowed to surface. "And unlike you I believe there is a point in which a man must pay for his crimes with his life. Rehabilitation may work for people who have committed but minor infractions, but once a sentient being takes the life of another sentient being the right to live has been forfeited. Forfeited completely and utterly."

Tobal's voice now grew hard as he continued. "I intend, Master Jiren, to hunt down this Xireon and give him the chance to willingly pay his debt to society. If not, I will help him with his obligation." At the word Obligation Tobal raised a fist, and squeezed it so hard two knuckles popped. Then, as if realizing what emotions had surfaced, he lowered his fist and with a bit of an effort removed the edge from his voice. "I would be very appreciative if you would aid me in this endeavor. Help me remove this stain from the universe ... a stain you helped create." Here Tobal's voice once again gained a bit of an edge, and had he paused to think about the next phrase that would come out of his mouth he probably would not have said it.

"Unless, of course, you believe Xireon should be put in a padded cell and ... rehabilitated"
  • Posted On: Feb 2 2004 2:50am
An icy look flashed across Gash Jiren's face as the young Shadow Jedi began to speak. What rolled off of him as he gave his lecture on death and judgement was not a hatred -- not a palpable, firey anger -- but something, if possible, worse. It caused Jiren's brows to furrow with worry. It was a cold, calculating feeling. The feeling of a man seeking vengeance, and calling it justice. By the time he'd finished speaking, Gash's eyes blazed. A lesser Jedi would have reminded Tobal to whom he spoke.

"You may not be afraid of falling to the dark side, Tobal Hadul, but perhaps you should be. You are like so many Jedi today -- your abilities have made you arrogant. You believe you can juggle the dark and the light, deal out justice with an even hand by applying your vision of what is 'right' by force."

Gash shook his head. "Don't be so quick to inflict death in the name of justice, Tobal. If you murder the murderer, do not you yourself become what you hate?"

Before the young Asthentian could speak, the Jedi Master cut him off. "Ah, but of course, you do not because you have judged him 'evil', and so he perishes. But what makes your judgement so absolute? Do your powers make you omnipresent? Omnipotent? A god? You seem to think they do. As I see it, however, your logic is folly. If life is so sacred that taking it is a damning exercise, why is the punishment for doing so death? Because you have arbitrarily deemed it so?"

Gash let the question hang in the air for a moment, before continuing. "No, I brought you here for a very specific reason, Tobal Hadul, and I can only hope that the lesson is not lost on you. If I could dissuade you from your quest for vengeance, I would; not because Xireon does not deserve to die, but because I just don't believe you're ready to travel down that path. But I see that that would be impossible. So, yes, I'll accompany you on your journey. I only hope I can prevent you from making the mistakes I've seen so many fine young Jedi make."

On of Gash's macabre smiles tugged on the ends of his mouth. "And after all, were it not for rehabilitated murderers, you would not know how to use the Force. Your Order would not exist, and neither would the Rogue Jedi Order. This planet would not be resettled. I would not be here speaking to you. The New Republic would have fallen much sooner than it did. Grand Admiral Thrawn would have taken over the galaxy after invading Ossus. If not he, then Tilaric Brel's New Empire would probably have done so, and you might be dead, along with billions more who would never have received the antidote to the Wrath virus."

He laughed morosely, turned, and walked away.
Posts: 225
  • Posted On: Feb 3 2004 2:02am
The Shadow floated in deep space, several light years from Ossus. In the six-man cockpit both Jiren and Tobal sat silent in their respective bucket seats. Subdued lighting from the various control panels gave the compartment a creepy glow. The Shadow was an old craft, dating to before the fall of the Republic. Designed by Sienar Corp as a Star Courier the design had failed due to some unknown marketing problem. It was rare; rare enough that most replacement parts had to be milled by hand. Even more rare though, were the modified versions. Dubbed Infiltrator's these modified Star Courier's contained a cloaking device so large it took up the entirety of the front storage compartment. Very few of these craft were in existence, so few it was believed they could be numbered with but two hands.

"It happened on Khar Shian," said Tobal. His voice was subdued, the worlds that Jiren had spoken with such authority back in the Jedi Temple had been replaying over and over in his brain for the last half hour. He was, of course, referring to when he had met the being called Xireon. "I have the coordinates here."

Khar Shian

The planet, or moon rather, was cold, a perpetually frozen hell. Snow snapped past the two Jedi, the wind whipping up their robes. Tobal had changed to a traditional Jedi garb before exiting the Shadow. Whether because of wanting to fit in with the Rogue Master, or simply wanting to make a statement that he truly was a Jedi, he didn't bother to think about.

They were near a ruined structure; the snow had softened broken walls with its cold curves and bulges. Tobal closed his eyes, and memories flooded back.

"Take heed friend, I sense someone," said the tall figure. Upon his words the two men crouched in the snow.

"And I too, my companion" replied the shorter figure. "A clumsy one he is, eh Mat?"

"Aye," replied the one named Mat. "Makes enough noise for five men, Tobal." He winked.

"Six, I would say" said Tobal, returning the wink with a grin. "Is it your turn or mine?"

"Yours, I believe. I had the last two."

"We met it in the sewer lines," he said softly, looking toward the gaping holes that appeared like eyes in the base of the ruined building.
  • Posted On: Mar 18 2004 2:09am
Gash Jiren pulled his navy cloak tighter about him as icy winds whipped about the two Jedi. One, of course, had nothing to do with the other; the Jedi Master tightened his garment more as a subtle and unconscious defense against the dark power that enveloped the world, threatening to swallow his soul, than as a precaution against the cold.

"It" referred of course to Xireon, as Jiren's horrible creation had come to be known. Gash didn't need to be told that the Sith had been on this world; the risidue of his presence lingered on the air, a dark essence that told tales of a terrible twisting of the Force. It seemed to Gash as a screaming in his ears that originated in his heart.

For the briefest of moments a scene flashed before his eyes; of the beastly, rail thin Sith facing a strangely alien Jedi. Slavatio. In a series of startling and disturbing scenes, he could see Xireon twisting the Dark Side to his will; forming an abyssal fire spell, and using its immense power to split atoms, resulting in a small seminuclear blast that should have killed both Force users.

" the sewer lines."

Gash knelt down next to a large grate, designed to slide aside automatically, damaged beyond repair but not welded into place. Rolling up one of the sleeves of his cloak to reveal a shimmeringly silver prosthetic arm, grabbed the edge of the grate, and with a heave of strength, opened it. Taking one glance into the dark tunnels below, he leapt in.

"You picked a wonderful place to hunt Sith."
Posts: 225
  • Posted On: Mar 28 2004 8:18am
Tobal didn't reply to the Jedi Master. He simply followed Jiren into the sewer, closing the grate behind him.

It was dark, very dark. The floor was covered in a slick frozen sludge, evidence of the faculties disrepair. When last Tobal had gone through here the pipes had had a steady trickle of sludge going through on its way out.

There was something else different, too. Perhaps he had matured in the Force since the last time he had been here, or perhaps the lack of adrenalin from the assault was letting him truly feel the Force around him, here in this place. He felt cold. It wasn't a physical cold, but rather a deep cold, the type you felt when someone is breathing down your neck. The type you get when something is wrong.

It was the Darkside. The place was full of it, but Tobal was only capable of feeling a small bit.

Jiren seemed to know where he was going, he was already a dozen paces ahead of Tobal. Shaking himself, the Shadow Knight picked up his pace.
  • Posted On: Jun 13 2004 9:07pm
Gash was still several paces ahead of Tobal when he came to an abrupt stop. The pitch-black darkness of the deserted sewer system obscured the Jedi Master's form from view, and Gash had to hold out an arm to subtly stop Hadul from charging ahead.

With a snap and a hiss, one of Jiren's lightsabers was out, illuminating the darkness swiftly. "Look familiar?" He asked, kneeling down in the muck and dim illumination. He could feel the blood on the ground that had been washed away; the dull scars and echoes of a battle fought quite some time ago. The posthumous scream of someone dead. Or... something dead.

A burst of something flashed painfully across Jiren's mind and vision. "Did you feel that?" He asked, standing up. "Something's still alive on this planet."

"Massassi," Tobal whispered.

And almost in reply, a quintet of the snarling, feral savages left from the almost impenitrible gloom to assault the two Jedi. Gash's second lightsaber was out almost as quickly as Tobal's bow, and the first of them fell before the Jedi Master could even swing his blade, an arrow through its heart. Gash shot Tobal a quick, aggrivated glance for having been denied his right to slay the beast.

He parried the next incoming blow from one of the Massassi, severing its arm and quickly stabbing it through the skull with his other blade. The next fell with a slash across its chest before it could even move to strike him. Seconds before the fight had begun, it was over. Tobal stood, and Gash sheathed one of his lightsabers.

"A nice coincidence that they happened to be exactly where we were going."

"Maybe the Sith left a few of them behind when they deserted this world," Tobal suggested. "They didn't seem... organized..."

Before the Shadow Jedi could finish, he stopped dead, the color draining from his face. He whispered something under his breath. Gash was about to ask him what he'd said, but by the time he'd opened his mouth to speak, Tobal had already repeated it -- and doing so had become unnecessary. A foul stench lingered on the winds of the Force, and it was not that of death. Or of Massassi.


"Still think it was a coincidence?" Gash asked, pulling out his second lightsaber.

Before them stood an ungodly specter; a man of such pale, ghastly complexion that every vein and capillary was readily visible, whose skin bore such obvious evidence of rot and decay that he could not have bee anything but dead. He wore the tattered rags of what had once been a black cloak, and his dead eyes fixed them with a murderous glare.

Most frightening of all, perhaps, was what both Gash and Tobal could feel behind the man's appearance; a living mind. Bound perhaps by the chains of servitude -- to whatever monster had reanimated it -- but an active, human mind. This was no unthinking ghoul. "I have waited for you, Tobal. Master said you would come. Master knows what resides in your soul; he knows where you come from, and what you are. He knew you would return. And, more importantly, he knew who you would bring."

The undead being glanced at Gash. "So much of who we are is determined by our genealogy. Wouldn't you agree?"