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OoM3 | "When One Hurts..."


An even longer time ago, in a galaxy just as far away...

 

Senator Janarus and his wife were resting comfortably at their home on Coruscant. The night was peaceful as ever with nothing but the distant murmur of traffic flying by in this - the city that never sleeps. Their peaceful slumber was quickly cut short by the most haunting and powerful screams echoing from the bedroom of their 3 year old daughter. As a member of the Galactic Senate, Janarus was accustomed to the dangers posed by his government position and so as he ran towards his daughter’s bedroom – still to the horrifying sound of his daughter’s screams – he instinctively hit his personal alarm button which he wore on a pendant around his neck – summoning the authorities to his location. Janarus burst through the door – blaster drawn – and fell immediately confused when he could not see any intruder. Moving quickly to his young daughter’s side he swept her up into his arms and held her close to his chest as she continued to scream – almost deafeningly loud so close to his ear. Janarus struggled to calm his daughter at first then as quickly as she had started screaming, she suddenly stopped, falling limp in his arms. Janarus looked back towards the bedroom door at the terrified look on his wife’s face before raising his daughter up to his own eye level in order to better see if she was ok. As he did so, her head jolted upright and as she stared straight into his eyes with her own wide, fear-stricken eyes she spoke in a voice not her own, but that of an adult Trandoshan "Kill the child. No witnesses for the Balmorran’s to link us with the death of the Royal Family” With that, she once again fell limp in Janarus’ arms before looking up at him once more as if seeing him for the first time with her own eyes "Papa?” Janarus had tears in his eyes after what he had just witnessed and the relief of hearing his daughter’s young voice proved too overwhelming for him as the tears began to flow. Janarus held the girl close to his chest once more as his wife rushed to their side. "Don’t worry sweetheart, everything’s ok now” his attempts to reassure the frightened young girl were unmasked by the look of fear on his face as he stared into his wife’s eyes. As they stood there, the distant sound of approaching sirens signalled the imminent arrival of the authorities whom Janarus himself had summoning only moments earlier.


Following a lengthy discussion with the security chief who had responded to Janarus’ alarm – which included a lecture by the security chief on misuse of the senator’s alarm system – Janarus was still at a loss to even comprehend, much less understand what had transpired. Despite still feeling somewhat annoyed at being summoned on an emergency response at such an unsociable hour for what he surmised was a child having a nightmare, the security chief believed Janarus’ seemingly wild story and harboured a genuine desire to help. "Senator Janarus” The security chief began "My squad and I will be leaving you now. Rest assured though, I have referred your case details to the Jedi Council who have informed me that one of their Master’s is on his way to speak with you”. Taken aback by the mere mention of the Jedi – not least the Council – the Senator found himself at a momentary loss for words before muttering a distant ‘thank you’ to the chief as he left the room. Janarus turned to his wife with a look of disbelief on his face "The Jedi...?” "Well dear, it could go a long way to explaining what happened” Janarus’ wife still held the child in her arms as she slept peacefully. Feeling concern and fear at the idea of his daughter’s future life slipping away from his grand plans for her, Janarus felt justified in his concern over the Jedi’s involvement. He knew all too well that if the visiting Jedi deemed his daughter to be force sensitive, she would forever be tarred with that brush and destined to live the Jedi life once she was old enough to begin the training.


Darth Vindican stood at the front of the bridge on his command ship as the Imperial Dreadnaught ploughed through hyperspace, hands folded behind his back as he stared ahead in contemplation. Approaching from behind, his young apprentice – Lord Malgus – walked with a distinctively heavy step. Even with his face obscured by the black hood of his robe, Malgus’ dark presence sent a shiver down the spines of all the command crew as he passed them. "What news do you bring my young apprentice?” Vindican addressed Malgus as he continued his approach. Bowing with obliged respect, Malgus raised his head just enough to make eye contact with his master – should he decide to turn and face him

"All ships report ready my master” Still not turning to face his apprentice, Vindican allowed himself a wry grin as he knew they were moments away from unleashing his planned death and destruction on the unsuspecting world of Balmorra. Vindican turned towards his apprentice and began to walk back down the length of the bridge deck, Malgus rose from his bow and joined Vindican at his side – towering over his master – the two walked and talked. "Not long now my apprentice and you shall satisfy your blood lust as we take Balmorra and all its weapon factories for the glory of the Empire” "I stand ready my Lord”.


A tap on Senator Janarus’ door signalled the Jedi’s arrival. With a sense of trepidation, Janarus opened the door to greet the Jedi but was surprised to see nobody there. "Ahem” came a voice from below; a bemused Janarus looked down to see the large eyes of a curious short green creature with long pointed ears. "I would shake your hand, but my goal seems to outstretch my reach there, hmm?” The curious little Jedi made himself chuckle with his own comment. "Apologies Senator Janarus, but my hoverchair seems to have gone walkabouts today, hehe. I am Master Oteg, the Jedi Council sent me to see about your daughter, and this” he said gesturing to a tall young man approaching down the corridor "is my Padawan, Orgus Din” Padawan Din bowed silently – hands folded in front of him - in a show of respect for the Senator, his face largely obscured by the hood of his robe. Upon entering the prestigious apartment, Master Oteg sat himself cross-legged across from the Senator, whilst Padawin Din remained standing near the door where they entered and Janarus set about explaining the preceding events to Master Oteg, who listened intently – not once shifting from his meditative position.


Following some lengthy explanations, Oteg’s ear noticeably pricked up "Senator, might I see the girl now?” After a brief glance towards his wife, Janarus turned back towards Master Oteg "I’m sorry but she’s sleeping now – I don’t want to wake her after such a traumatic night” "Sleeping you say? Sure about this are you?” As Oteg spoke with a hint of smugness in his voice, the sound of crying started to emanate from the girl’s bedroom. Chuckling to himself, Oteg stood and made his way towards the source of the crying – closely followed by Janarus and the others. Entering the darkened room, Oteg approached the child’s crib closing his eyes as he neared. As he reached the girl’s side she quietened down and seemed to watch him intently as he bowed his head to focus and reached an open palm towards the young girl. After a few moments Oteg suddenly staggered backwards, struggling to hold his footing. The sudden and unexpected action made Padawan Din jump into action – ditching his understated robe in the same sweeping motion as he drew his lightsaber. With the room now illuminated by the blue glow of Din’s lightsaber, all could now see he was wearing Jedi plate armour under the robe. As Din stood in a prone position with his lightsaber held outwards in a defensive stance, Oteg quickly regained his composure and waved a hand at Din telling him to stand down. Janarus exchanged a look of shock with his wife before turning to Oteg "Master Oteg, are you alright?” "Oh I’m quite alright Senator, just a bit taken aback by what I just felt.” As Oteg spoke his reassurances to the Senator, Padawan Din approached him "What is it Master? What did u sense?”


Darth Vindican’s Imperial Dreadnaught burst out of hyperspace almost directly on top of a small freighter leaving Balmorra’s orbit – closely followed by the rest of his armada – one after the other, all pouring out of hyperspace and spreading out to assume an offensive stance around the planet’s shipping lanes. As each of the dozens of dreadnaughts launched its fighters and landing craft, a combined force of vessels numbering in the hundreds descended on Balmorra – carving a path through all the planetary defences for the enormous dreadnaughts to follow. Whilst the battle raged in orbit, Vindican’s command ship left the battle and moved – relatively unopposed – towards the planet’s capital of Sobrik.


Having obliterated Balmorra’s unsuspecting defences and neutralizing what little Republic forces had been stationed there in planetary defence, Darth Vindican’s forces were now focused in a full on ground assault. As his fighter squadron’s made light work of any fleeing vessels, his army of Imperial troops swarmed through the city streets – annihilating anyone in their path. The advance finally came to a halt outside the royal palace, as per Vindican’s instructions "What now my Master?” Malgus’ blood lust clearly had yet to be satisfied "Have patience my young apprentice, all is unfolding as I have foreseen” "But Master, the Royal family are holed up in there. We must destroy them if we are to break the Balmorran’s resolve!” Refusing to repeat himself to his apprentice, Vindican merely turned his back on Malgus and looked ahead towards the palace.


Still visibly recovering from what he had just experienced, Oteg was attempting to reach a level of understanding so that he may then explain to the others in the room – all now staring expectantly at him "This child...” Oteg began slowly as he continued to process the information in his mind "The Force emanates through her like no other living creature I have ever encountered.” His keen diplomat’s mind picking up on Oteg’s words and reading in between the lines, Senator Janarus turned sharply towards the Jedi "What do you mean no ‘living creature’?” Oteg chose not to give the Senator a response straight away, but instead turned to his wife "The girl is not of your blood is she?” The combination of seemingly being ignored and having such a personal query aimed at his wife angered the already stressed Senator who stepped towards Oteg with the intention of intervening before his wife held him back with a reassuring hand on the shoulder "It’s ok dear, I think he needs to know” Her soft tone had an instantly soothing effect on the Senator who relaxed his stance slightly while his wife turned back to address Master Oteg "You are quite right Master Jedi, we adopted Aeoni as a newborn”


Clearly still pondering this new information, Oteg turned back to Janarus "Senator, I have spent many years helping force sensitive children take their first steps along the path of light, more years than you would care to count, hehe. But in all that time, never have I come across one with such a powerful connection to the Force and I now suspect that Aeoni possesses more than a mere connection.” Oteg could see that his explanations were lost on all but his Padawan at this time, but he continued "The closest I can relate it to is communing with the

Jedi of lives past – those who have long since finished their corporeal lives and become one with the force. These ancient Jedi – when appearing to the living – are pure beings of the Force. Now, all Jedi have a connection to the force – it is what gives us our strength. Young Aeoni however, radiates with the Force- as these ancient Jedi spirits do – only it’s... stronger, more powerful and vibrant. This is what staggered me when I first approached the girl; I was not prepared to be met by such a pure embodiment of the living Force.”


By this time Senator Janarus’ scepticism had been replaced with all out disbelief "Oteg are you seriously trying to tell me that my daughter is not who – or even what – she appears?! And you haven’t even explained what happened to her earlier!” he snapped. Calmly, Master Oteg approached the Senator "I believe what you witnessed earlier Senator, was Aeoni having a vision. These are not uncommon amongst more experienced jedi, and often pertain to future events. I suspect that the manner in which you saw Aeoni act was simply her young mind trying to process the information from such a vision – unable to distinguish it’s events from reality. Now I’m sorry Senator as I know you do not want to hear it; but your daughter is one with the Force and I feel I must take her to Tython and inform the Jedi Council of what I’ve discovered here today.” "NO! You can’t take my daughter!” Janarus yelled at Oteg as he scrambled to reach his daughter before his wife once again held him back. As he turned back to his wife, Janarus embraced her tightly as she began to cry. Whilst attempting to console the traumatised couple, Oteg waved Padawan Din over to pick up the child. As Din approached the girl, he powered down his lightsaber and moved to holster it at his waist. Before he could rest the weapon back on its clip however, it floated elegantly out of his hand – seemingly of its own accord – and across the room into the grasp of young Aeoni, who wrapped both her little hands around the hilt of the weapon and held it out in front of her – giggling slightly – and studying it with the fascination of an inquisitive juvenile mind. Chuckling at this sight – and the awe on everyone’s faces as a result of it – Oteg turned back to the young girl and took the lightsaber hilt from her, which led the child to start crying. As Oteg handed her up to her adopted mother he turned to his Padawan – still chuckling "Well Orgus, I think we have a future Knight to study under you when she comes of age, hmm?”


The Balmorran Palace was eerily silent inside, a far cry from the battle that raged in the streets below. Vindicans mercenary group had made light work of the palace guard, and even lighter work of the royal family. The young Trandoshan warrior – Kephess – stood over the desecrated body of the Balmorran Prince, the blood still dripping from his claws. His sharp tongue lashed back and forth as he tried to catch his breath following such an exhilarated string of kills. "Errm, boss....” from his tone, one of the other mercenaries had clearly found something unexpected "What?!” Kephess spat back at him, his tongue still slithering back and forth "There’s a baby here, under the Princess’ arm” Kephess sniffed the air "aah yes, I smell her fear now” Kephess crossed the room and kicked over the princess’ body to reveal a baby girl who attempted to scurry backwards across the floor as she set her bright golden eyes on Kephess’ towering form in front of her. "What do we do with her?” the young mercenary clearly hadn’t anticipated such a scenario "Kill the child. No witnesses for the Balmorran’s to link us with the death of the Royal Family. Now be quick about it, I’m going to report our success to Darth Vindican” Whilst somewhat disturbed by this order, the mercenary knew what he had to do. After Kephess left the room, the young mercenary shared a brief cursory glance with his two remaining associates before returning his attention to the child who had now crawled back to the side of the princess’ body and was knelt next to the princess with her little hands pressed against her still warm cheek. She looked up at the mercenary as he turned towards her and raised both her arms towards him "Hey look, I think she likes me!” the mercenary chuckled with his associates. As soon as he took his first step towards the girl, he and his two associates were suddenly encompassed by purple lightning. It flickered and danced around the room, darting from one mercenary to the other leaving each of them crippled and agonized. Slowly through fighting the excruciating pain coursing through his body, the young mercenary managed to lower his gaze long enough to see the lightning surging from the outstretched finger tips of the young girl who now stood over the Princess’ body. Shortly after witnessing this, the mercenaries all fell unconscious and dropped dead to the floor. The baby girl calmly knelt back down on the floor and cuddled herself up on the shoulder of the princess’ body.


Darth Vindican stood at the palace gates – hands folded behind his back in his usual manner – as Malgus paced back and forth behind him growing more angry with each passing moment at their inaction "Control yourself my young apprentice – I cannot hear my own thoughts over the sound of your pounding feet!” Malgus quickly broke pace and darted to his master’s side, drawing himself uncharacteristically close to his master. Vindican turned sharply to stare Malgus in the eyes – only inches away from his own – before casually waving his hand and using the force to send Malgus tumbling backwards across the pavement. Rather more sheepishly than before, the young Sith Lord rose to his feet and returned to his master’s side, kneeling at a more respectful distance "Forgive me, my Master” "You should learn to become more aware of your surroundings my young apprentice. Then you would also feel the dark presence flowing through this place.” "Yes, my Master”. Vindican once again returned his gaze towards the palace "A dark presence indeed, strange that I did not sense it earlier...” As Vindican continued his contemplation in his mind, Kephess emerged from the palace entrance and approached – bowing before Darth Vindican "It is done my Lord – the Royal Family are all dead” Vindican looked down upon the large Trandoshan for a moment "Sure about this are you? Come!”


Vindican entered the Royal chambers of the palace closely followed by Malgus and Kephess "Well Kephess, if your victory was so certain then tell me; who killed your men?” Kephess looked upon the still smouldering bodies of his associates in disbelief "I don’t understand my Lord, I left them behind to kill the last child of the Prince and Princess – a baby girl” Turning sharply back towards Kephess, Vindican snapped viciously "And where is this child now?!” Before Kephess was able to conjure a response, the attention of all 3 men was drawn to a dark corner of the room where they heard a rustling noise. Vindican approached the shadows kneeling down in the process, then stood and turned towards the others holding a baby girl in his arms. "It cannot be...” he muttered under his breath as he studied the child. Vindican turned his gaze towards Malgus, whilst the young girl pawed with playful fascination at the tendrils hanging from his chin "Malgus: Take this child to my chambers on Dromund Kaas, wait for me there and inform no-one – NO-ONE – of the childs presence”. Malgus bowed momentarily before approaching his master to take possession of the mysterious young girl who had captured Darth Vindican’s attention. As Vindican handed the child to Malgus, he noticed a silver bracelet on her small wrist as her hand pulled away from his tendril "Kuci” he read it out loud "Must be the child’s name” spat Kephess.


The Jedi Council sat in their chambers patiently waiting as Master Oteg approached. "Greetings old friend” Master Zho said as he rose from his seat, his padawan – the beautiful young woman Satele Shan – stepping back from his side in the process. "Aah Ngani, how wonderful it is to see you again – tell me; how does your young padawan fair these days?” Sensing her Master’s pending request, Satele stepped forward and bowed respectfully before Master Oteg "It is a great honour to finally meet you Master Oteg.” "The pleasure is all mine Padawan Shan, my how you’ve grown up. You were as small as me when I last laid eyes upon you child” Oteg chuckled to himself as always when making reference to his own stature, Padawan Shan allowed herself a brief smile at the Master’s joke before her discipline returned her emotional control. Returning to his seat, Master Zho shared a disconcerting glance with his fellow council members before addressing his old friend "Master Oteg, the council reviewed your findings on Coruscant and we them... disturbing” "Oh, I’ve no doubt about that” Oteg spoke with an unusually serene tone to his voice. "However, since you contacted us from Coruscant we have received disturbing reports of an attack on Balmorra.” Master Oteg found himself pausing briefly in contemplation "So I was right... the child had a vision?” "We believe so Master Oteg. What’s more; my Padawan has found something you may find interesting about the child’s family.” Master Oteg turned his focus to young Satele who stepped forward to her master’s side "Master Oteg, Aeoni was born on Corellia – to a freighter captain named Althearia Cloud.” Oteg leant back in his seat and folded his hands as he continued to listen to the young Padawan "This ‘Captain Althearia’ gave birth not to one child that day – but two. Master: Aeoni has a twin sister” Upon hearing this Oteg began to lean forward – hands still folded in front of him – as if reaching out for more information. At this point, Master Zho thanked Padawan Shan for her contribution and she promptly stepped back behind her master as he turned to face Oteg "There’s more; Aeoni’s twin sister – Kuci, the firstborn – was adopted into the Balmoran Royal Family.” Hearing those words suddenly made all the pieces fit in Oteg’s mind.


Padawan Din entered the council chambers with young Aeoni in his arms. Everyone in the room instantly felt the girl’s presence, and as Din approached the council – Padawan Shan suddenly dropped her head into her palm and had to steady herself against the back of her Master’s chair. Master Zho – sensing the sudden change in his Padawan turned to her "What is it Satele?” "The child...” Padawan Din drew closer to Zho & Satele with Aeoni in his arms "... I sense... great change in her future”. Attempting to temper his Padawan’s youthful flair for exaggeration, Master Zho rested a comforting hand on hers which was still bracing the back of his seat "Satele; the same could be said for any child of her age” Her composure regained, Satele once again stood upright and raised her eyeline to meet Master Zho’s "Great change Master, not for Aeoni... for all of us”. As Master Zho looked into the eyes of his padawan he could see the truth behind her words, he again turned back to Master Oteg "Aeoni will remain here on Tython. I will take responsibility for the child, and help her learn to control this connection to the Force she has as she grows up. Oteg, in light of the Balmorra situation; the council names you Admiral and asks that you take personal command of the fleet. Your newly commissioned command ship – The Gav Daragon – awaits your arrival at the orbital station.” Oteg acknowledged the council’s instruction and turned to make his way out of the chambers. Before taking a step however, he turned back to Master Zho "Ngani, what of Aeoni’s family – and her sister on Balmorra?” Master Zho shared a disconcerting glance with his padawan before facing Oteg once more "It pains me to say that the reports are unanimous in their description of the total annihilation suffered by the royal house – nobody survived.” "I see.” Oteg was clearly troubled by this revelation "Worry not old friend” Master Zho interjected "We will ensure Aeoni knows the truth of her birth family when she’s old enough to understand.” Oteg once again bowed in acceptance then made his way out of the Council Chamber and on to his new life as Fleet Admiral.


Darth Vindican roared in anger as he cast another stream of lightning at his apprentice "You incompetent fool! How could you let this happen?!” This surge of dark energy launched Malgus clear across the main foyer of Vindican’s private chambers in Kaas City. "I’m sorry Master” Malgus was clearly as pained by his forced words as his was by the surge of lightning that just struck him as he struggled to get back up to his feet. "Do you have any idea what this has cost us?” Vindican spoke in more neutral tone now, he continued "With the power that child possessed we would have been able to retake Korriban in a matter of weeks. Now it will take us years to amass enough strength to assault the Jedi Orbital Station blockading our homeworld!” "Forgive me, my Master...” Again the words felt bitter in Lord Malgus’ mouth "...But it was out of my hands. Like it or not; the child – Kuci – in which you suddenly placed so much faith, is dead.”


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