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Thread: Catharsis: Strangers in the Night

  1. #1

    Closed Thread Catharsis: Strangers in the Night

    "Citizens of the civilized galaxy, on this day we mark a transition. For a thousand years, the Republic stood as the crowning achievement of civilized beings. But there were those who would set us against one another, and we took up arms to defend our way of life against the Separatists. In so doing, we never suspected that the greatest threat came from within."

    --- Emperor Palpatine in his "Declaration of a New Order"

    The Planet Corellia, a homestead 12 klicks outside of Coronet City, on the Eve of the Declaration of a New Order (23 BE).

    Tizza Faaran was no Jedi. Most days this was not something she regretted, for all the years being a close friend to two of them had given her a unique insight as to the downside of that existence. Today, however, was not most days.

    She’d put the little girl down for her afternoon nap after they’d had their midday meal; they had shared a few laughs when Nya had told her a funny story about the antics of one of the other kids she had met at the temple. There had been a sticky moment when she’d mentioned her father promising to take her to Coruscant the next time he went – if she promised to behave in his absence – but Nya had not turned teary-eyed and emotional as other kids might well have at this sudden memory of her father’s absence. It was as if her 5-year-old soul already had a grasp of the responsibilities inherent to her kind, and Tizza had once again been left feeling at once in awe of the girl’s extraordinary maturity and a little freaked out by it. She’d bustled her off to her bunk in the make-shift bedroom, tucked her in with her doll under her arm and a sweet smile on her face, and left her to do some much-needed tidying up.

    She’d just been putting the cleaned dishes away into the locker when she’d heard the scream. It didn’t sound like anything she’d ever heard – the unexpected and unnatural loudness of it had frozen her in mid-motion. Still unsure of the source of the noise, she‘d turned to check the habitat controls but seen no indication for external or internal danger, and only then had it dawned on her that it was the child. The plate she’d been holding crashed onto the floor behind her as she’d run out of the kitchen area, across the hall and into Nya’s room.

    It was then that she wished she possessed Jedi senses.

    The little girl was sitting up, her body trembling all over, her eyes wide with shock, the little face undergone a complete transformation since she’d last seen it. From between her lips came that dreadful scream that had so surprised Tizza, and now that she was so close it rooted her to the spot.

    At that moment Tizza would have given anything to be able to see past the obvious. Anything – if it meant she could gain some kind of insight into what was happening, or how she should proceed. She didn’t feel she was emotionally equipped for dealing with this kind of situation. The list of possibilities that would cause such a reaction was rapidly running through her mind – but it was not adapted to a child’s view of the universe, least of all a Jedi child. For that brief moment that felt like an eternity, as the screaming kept on going, she felt truly at a total loss.

    But then something deep inside her soul shifted, the sight of the child’s distress stirring a maternal instinct inside her that she hadn’t known she possessed. Her temporary inability to move passed, and she rushed into the room and scooped up the girl and held her – held her close with all the might she had, imbued with a sudden need to make this child feel safe. It was a truly strange feeling, utterly alien and yet utterly exhilarating as she sat there rocking the girl, patting her head, cooing, making soft hushing noises. Now that her inner walls were down, it was a flood of emotions rushing over her, wanting to comfort the girl as if she were her own.

    And within moments, Nya’s screaming died away as the child seemed to have exhausted itself, or perhaps simply because it sensed that she would keep it from harm. The little body that had been so taut and rigid against her as she had scooped it up relaxed, and then two thin arms coiled around her neck and the girl responded to her tight hug with equal force. The screaming had turned into a brittle wail, and then even that passed as finally great, heart-wrenching sobs were racking her small body, and Tizza found herself mumbling “there, there… it’s gonna be okay, sweety, it’s gonna be fine…” and patting the child’s head as she pressed her against her heart.

    Thus occupied, it occurred to her that for all of the child’s uncharacteristic maturity, there was still only a child beneath that Jedi veneer – a child responding to the same comforting as any other child would. She realised then that her inability to respond to the girl at first had also stemmed from her feeling of ineptitude compared to the Jedi that had crept upon her somewhere along the years of her friendship with them. Poor Nya had ended up on the same pedestal that she had erected for the girl’s parents in her ordinary mind, and she’d not expected to share their world other than from an outsider’s point of view. But now the scales had fallen off her eyes and she could see the child behind that picture of serenity that was nothing but an imitation of both of her parents’ calm Jedi mask.

    What has she dreamed of? Tizza wondered, for the first time confident in thinking that she knew the reason behind the child’s behaviour. Flashes of an old and long-forgotten memory of her own childhood days put a certainty to that thought; she remembered waking up screaming, then the comfort of her mother’s arms as her mother was soothing her, promising her the monsters weren’t real. And she remembered the feeling of absolute acceptance of her mother’s promise. For a moment she felt the old emptiness, the hollow pain she’d felt when her mother had passed away, then the moment was gone and instead there was this child who needed her now as she had needed her mother.

    Nya’s sobs were ebbing away, but the force behind the girl’s embrace did not relent. Tizza held on to her just as tightly, instinct telling her that this was what the girl needed just then. She wanted to ask what was wrong, but that same instinct told her that it would be better to wait until the child had calmed down. But the minutes passed, and the quiet sobbing still continued, and her neck was starting to feel a little sore. Finally, her concern – and curiosity - got the better of her. Stroking Nya’s head, she whispered into her ear in as soothing a voice as she could muster, hoping that the girl would somehow sense that she could understand her fears, that here was someone who had once been a child just like her who once saw the same monsters in her dreams.

    "What is it, sweetheart?"

    But instead of calming further, Nya tensed again, and Tizza could feel another storm of sobs approaching. Quickly she hushed her, and renewed the force of her hug, hoping it would make the girl feel even safer.

    "Was it monsters, sweetheart? Did you dream of bad things?"

    This stopped the girl’s sobbing so completely that Tizza was taken aback. The child’s arms unwound from her neck, and she pushed herself back so she could look at Tizza with eyes bruised and swollen from crying. But even so, her eyes were haunted by a look that Tizza could not interpret at all; her face an odd mirror of every raw emotion that Tizza had ever seen, and for a moment, it infused her with fear even though she could not have said of what.

    "Daddy... he is gone."

    And as if to make sure that Tizza would understand her, Nya added, with a dread certainty in that voice that was still brittle from crying yet suddenly surprisingly unemotional: "I felt him go."

    Then, with a change as sudden as the last, the emotionless mask faltered as another storm of tears broke over her like a wave crashing into her helpless body, and she flung herself back against Tizza who - despite all her newly found understanding of the girl's distress - felt once again at a loss for how to react, and wishing she had a Jedi's senses. If only to have the power to keep one little girl safe from her worst fears.

    "Hush now, he'll be here soon, hush!" she whispered into the girl's ears. "It was only a dream... only a dream..."
    Last edited by Nya; Dec 27th, 2008 at 07:56:26 PM.

  2. #2
    Coruscant. The Jedi Temple. Early afternoon the same day.

    "You--- I sense the conflict in your heart... y-you know this is --wrong. You... c-cannot let this go o-on. Find my daughter. Save her. She... is an innocent. Just like you."


    He hated the Jedi. Not just that particular one: he hated all of them. Abjectly. With every fibre of his body did he hate them. They were all traitors, lousy traitors, and deserved their death. Just being cut down as Skywalker had done, had been too good for them. They should have been cut up and quartered, their insides turned out, gutted and burnt alive, left to die in direst agony while an army of his brothers stood around them, laughing and totally without mercy.


    His brothers. they were... were all... dead.
    None left.
    No one left to laugh with him.


    The Jedi's weapon still clutched in his own hands, he walked a slow circle around the fallen bodies of his comrades until he was back at the heap of clothes that had once covered the Jedi. His head rang with silent laughter at the sight. But it wouldn't come across his lips.


    He turned, looking at his comrades. At Trey, squadmate since the early training years, now dead.


    He hated the Jedi.


    Trey. Dead. All dead.


    Seized by a violent spasm, he fell onto his knees, cushioned by the pile of fabric. The saber hilt clattered to the ground, the noise brutally metallic in the silence after the kill, and the blade spun off and died. His arms reacted instinctly as his body heaved and fell forward, bracing himself instead of smacking onto the floor. Bile rose, and forced its way out of his open mouth, and he vomited until there was nothing left in his stomach and dry heaves wracked his shaking body.


    Finally he tried to upright himself. His stomach clenched, and his head hurt, and his eyes were stinging with tears he hadn't known he was crying. Clammy fingers found support on shaking thighs. He wanted to let go, right then: let go of it all and join them in death, for his very core was broken and his heart would surely stop beating of its own accord if he just lay down there next to them and allowed it to. He wanted nothing more to do with this life that had done nothing but bring pain and bitterness and confusion and more pain. It would be so welcome now.

    He let himself fall to the ground again, and this time there was nothing to break the fall. Cold stone came up to slam against his cheek, and something cracked in his jaw but he was past caring. Past feeling pain.

    His eyes fixed on the lifeless forms of his comrades, he took one last look, and then closed his eyes and willed his heart to stop beating.
    Last edited by Dar'vencuyot; Dec 29th, 2008 at 02:16:08 PM.

  3. #3
    For the rest of the afternoon the little girl followed her around the apartment, never more than an arm's length away; her big, bruised-looking eyes holding such a haunted look inside them that Tizza couldn't bear to look at her after a while. Every now and then she'd break out into low, thin wailing, and ask for her father, but what was Tizza to do? She'd scooped her up into her arms and hugged her close every time it happened, until the wails subsided.

    It wasn't that she hadn't tried reaching him - he didn't answer his comm. Which wasn't unusual for him. She refused to worry about it: He was a Jedi, after all - he could look after himself just fine.

    Were dreams - or nightmares - like Nya had had something common for Jedi? She'd hoped that the dream's after-effects would wear off, but the hours seemed to bring no change. Could it have some deeper meaning for them? The terrible gravity behind the girl's words as she'd told her that she'd felt her father "go"... it disturbed Tizza more than she was willing to admit to herself at first.

    There was no point getting some food into the girl for dinner. She flat-out refused to eat, and started to cry, burying her head between her arms over the table. No amount of hugging or stroking her hair, or talking to her had any effect. Tizza was now really starting to get worried.

    It was then that the intercom went live, announcing that they had a visitor.

    "What now...?" she thought to herself, and was silently hoping that it would be Fionn returning and taking the sobbing bundle off her, but knew that there could be no chance of it - Coruscant was more than half a day's flight away, and the Jedi Knight had left only this morning.

    Nya's head had lifted for a second when she'd heard the intercom, and for a moment it looked as if the stare out of her swollen eyes would pierce the walls themselves, but then the head flopped back down onto her arms and she began crying with fresh fervor.

    Tizza gave in: it was hopeless. There was nothing she could do for the girl right now. Instead, she went to see who was at the door.
    Last edited by Nya; Dec 29th, 2008 at 01:01:11 PM.

  4. #4
    But his heart refused to stop. When all was quiet and all was still, and nothing but the slow beating of his heart could be felt and heard, the silence all around him seemed to stir up a faint echo of those last words.


    ".... you know this is wrong ......"


    what was wrong?
    .... killing the Jedi for the traitors they were?
    They were traitors!
    All of them!

    They were...


    Hadn't they just used this army built for them?
    ... used him and his brothers?
    for what?
    to ultimately betray them all?

    " .... is wrong......."

    yes they had.
    they went over to the other side.
    ... what else do you call trying to kill the chancellor himself??

    that's called being a traitor!

    ".... wrong ......."

    No! Not wrong!

    ".... wrong ......."


    "Traitooooooooooooooooors!" he yelled, through clenched teeth. The sound seemed to vanish into thin air. And then he wasn't sure anymore whether he'd really done so.


    ".... wrong ......."

    they deserved what they had coming
    trying to kill the chancellor...


    the chancellor...
    how had he survived the attack?


    He slowly opened his eyes, saw Trey's lifeless eyes stare back at him from across the space. His stomach churned. Accuser's eyes. He looked away, and his eyes came to rest on the bundle of clothes that lay were the Jedi had fallen. He had disappeared upon death.

    Why had he seemed so familiar?


    ".... find my daughter ......"

    To hell he would!
    He owed him nothing!

    ".... save her......."

    Save a Jedi?
    Why should he?
    ... He - of all people!
    ... Had he not just proven his hatred by killing one?

    If anything, he'd find the bastard thing and kill it, too!


    The thought took shape, the longer he considered it. The echoes seemed to recede into the distance as his heart pumped louder, and with a strange elation that even drowned out the steady horror that had been with him ever since dealing the killing blows, he pulled himself up onto his hands, and crawled towards the abandoned bundle.

  5. #5
    It was the neighbors.

    The homestead was 12 klicks outside the city, but that didn't mean they were cut off from the world. Out here, it just meant a house, with a garden, in a quieter housing area; not living in one of the apartment complexes high up with not a chance of greenery around. To Tizza it had been important, and her family had been affluent enough that she could afford living out here.

    Visits from the neighbors had been far and few. Tizza wasn't very popular; she didn't share much of her life, and had no interest in sharing theirs. The elderly couple standing outside her door, Shelen and Gjoram Neorno, weren't total strangers to her, however. They lived in the house to her right, and the only thing she knew about them was that they both liked gardening, because she'd met them outside plenty of times when she was tending her own.

    They both looked a little flushed, and agitated. Surely the child's crying couldn't have brought them here? Tizza hadn't thought Nya's crying was loud enough to reach the neighbours, but if they'd been outside...?

    But their excitement had another reason, as she was about to find out.

    "You seen it yet? Isn't it just horrible? I always said to him, I said, watch them, they're a suspicious lot, one day it's the end of us. And now we have it: trying to kill that poor man, no shame they got what they deserved.... did you see that farkin big affair of theirs, their temple, burning like cinders. Serves them right, always so high and mighty!"

    The rotund Shelen went on and on, and her sallow-faced, hunched-over husband kept bobbing his head at every other word, to emphasize how shocking he found this too. Whatever it was that they found so shocking - Tizza couldn't make sense out of them. What were they talking about?

    In the background Nya's muffled crying could still be heard, and that, and Tizza's complete bewilderment plainly showing on her face, finally stopped the blathering neighbour's flow. Instead, she just stared back for a moment while her husband also adjusted his head-bobbing and turned it into a disapproving frown. Then she asked Tizza: "Haven't you watched the Holonews?"

    When Tizza simply remained staring, eyebrows raised quizzically, the husband finally grunted: "The Jedi tried ter kill the Chancellor. They's traitors now. Their temple's up in flames and they're all to be executed!"

    Tizza stared. Unseeing.


    And Shelen, at that moment of silence, finally seemed to have figured out what the noise in the background was, and asked curiously: "Who's that then?"
    Last edited by Nya; Jan 4th, 2009 at 04:04:27 AM. Reason: Fixed some great big typos


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