Bound By Duty

18 years after the Battle of Yavin...
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Bound By Duty

Post by Cadden » Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:19 pm

"Time has run out," a voice echoed in her head. "The cries of war echo through the very fabric of space." She saw worlds burning, graveyards of ships; death, destruction. So much death... so much destruction. "The remnants of the past still scar the galaxy... which is besieged yet again by conflict."

Images flashed before her eyes. Dark Jedi, Sith, warships, battle. Chaos, death, suffering. Suddenly, she saw a giant structure, in the depths of space. It was circular, almost resembling a portal of some sort. Suddenly, it came to life, and a swirling vortex much like that of hyperspace opened up in the empty space between the ringed structure. She saw... something....

"Heroes arise to challenge fate," the voice continued, as she saw images of both people and warships, both of the Jedi and of the Sith... of the Republic and of the Empire, "and lead their brethren to battle." The forces clashed, sending her rushes of adrenaline just through watching the war unfold before her very eyes. "As mortal armies rush blind towards their doom, the burning shadow comes to consume us all." From hyperspace, she witnessed incoming warships of a design unlike anything she had ever seen before. Without hesitation, without warning, they opened fire. Relentlessly, mercilessly. It wasn't a battle... it was a massacre.

Reina shot up, breathing heavily as sweat dripped down her brow. She wiped the moisture from her forehead, and took a deep breath, before bowing her head slightly and closing her eyes. "Seek me out," the voice whispered in her ear, as real as though the carrier of the sound was in the very same room as her.

"Reina," she heard an all too familiar voice, "are you okay?"

She opened her eyes to see her apprentice, Al'eah, looking at her quizzically. "I'm... fine," she responded. "I just had a -"

"Dream?" she finished. It was Reina's turn. "From the Mother?"

"The who?"

"The Mother. Aliah'ara... my people's mistress."

Of course. Al'eah's deity. Despite all that she had learned, she still believed that there was some 'Mother', as she put it, that was responsible for her and her people's life. This could have been true, Reina supposed, but the truth was probably far more literal than what Al'eah's religion depicted it being.

She thought a moment. The voice she heard was feminine. How would Al'eah know this? Did she share the same dream?

"I don't know," she simply responded. "It seemed so..."

"Real?"

"Yes... real. Like a vision."

Al'eah offered Reina her hand. She looked at the girl for a moment, before taking it, and allowed the near-human to guide her off her bunk. "The Mother spoke to me, too," she admitted. Reina said nothing. "She warned me of what was to come."

"Did she?" Reina asked. She was interested, and wondered if Al'eah had experienced a vision. "What did she say?"

Al'eah was silent for a second, her face telling Reina that she really did not wish to share what she had to say. "The Darkness will consume all it touches," she recited. Maybe it was just her, but Reina could swear that Al'eah's voice was different. "Stars will burn black. Everything... ends...."

Silence. "Are we going to die?" Al'eah asked, causing even more discomfort for Reina. What the girl repeated to her only moved to confirm that what she, too, experienced, was a vision. But the voice... if Al'eah was mimicking the one she heard... it was different.

"No," Reina said, not entirely believing it herself. Nothing was certain, especially with the Force. She was taught that, even if she saw into the future, to only take it for what it's worth. It was always in motion, and even the slightest change of circumstances could alter even the largest of events. She looked at Al'eah, who returned the gaze, unconvinced. "I don't know. If this is true... I must speak with the Council."

But how? She had heard of Master Sage's call for help on Ruusan, and no doubt the majority of the Council would no longer be on Onderon by now. She pursed her lips.

"Seek me out," the voice repeated. Who was it that spoke to her? What did she want? Moreover... why her? Why now? She grew afraid, but refused to allow it to show, or to influence her actions.

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Re: Bound By Duty

Post by Cadden » Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:22 am

OOC: Please note that all references to Al'eah are to be replaced with Nyra Zess. Most other things are, roughly, the same, but there are technicalities that might differ. In which case, information presented here on will supercede information previously established.

Additionally, take note that, until otherwise stated, the following posts take place before current events. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

IC:

Bandomeer

Reina brought the freighter out of lightspeed, and watched as the system came into view. Bandomeer proper, a world that was essentially half land and half water, steadily increased in size as the sublight engines began to take over while the ship settled out of hyperspace. She had taken Guan up on his lead and traveled directly here from Ossus in order to seek out this individual he spoke of. However, all she had to go by was that, somewhere on the planet, there was a woman who specialized in xenoarchaeology and xenobiology. Provided she was still there. The information Guan provided her was a bit dated, so she could only take it by faith.

As they got closer to the planet, she noticed the defenses around the world. As she brought up information on one of the ships making their runs, she realized, with great reservation, it belonged to the Mandalorians. Her emotions must have been fairly exposed, as Nyra spoke up within seconds.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, her voice expressing her concern over the situation.

"I don't know," Reina said. "Those ships belong to the Mandalorians." Historically, this wasn't a good thing. "Whether that's good or bad for us, I cannot say."

"Who are the... Mandalorians?" Nyra asked, inquisitively.

Reina looked at her young apprentice. "Warriors," she said simply. "Their culture is based around war. Bandomeer was a neutral world before the Xen'Chi attacked. The Mandalorians taking up residency, here, could mean anything." She hadn't been able to learn a whole lot about them since before the war, only that they had a new Mandalore and he was a very proactive individual. "If they are like what they used to be, we may be in trouble."

"How do we know?"

Reina shrugged. There was only one way to be sure. She reached over and triggered the comm. "Bandomeer defense forces, this is Reina Krailles of the Jedi Order," she said. "Requesting permission to go planetside." She looked at Nyra while they awaited a response.

She was about to repeat herself when the comm crackled to life. "Jedi vessel, state your cargo and purpose," a gruff-sounding man said.

"Just myself and one other," she said. "Manifest consists of various supplies and foodstuffs. We're here to look for someone who might be of assistance to us in identifying and, if necessary, stopping a potential threat to the galaxy." She didn't bother going into details of their mission; a Mandalorian was unlikely to care about things such as visions and the Force.

There was a moment of silence as they waited for a response. "Be advised, Jedi, Bandomeer is under Mandalorian protection," the man said. It wasn't a threat, it was a cautionary statement. She knew well enough about Mandalorians to note that difference. But it did tell her they had nothing to worry about with the Mandalorians. "If you cause trouble, you will be answering to us."

"Understandable," she said. "You need not concern yourselves over us. We will be on our way as soon as we finish up, here."

"I've no doubt," the man responded, and cut the line.

"Does that mean we can land?" Nyra asked.

"Yes," Reina said. Though she wasn't wholly trusting of the situation. She didn't like having her apprentice subjected to these conditions. They would need to remain on their guard. "We can land." She supposed they would need to find somewhere to start. The question was, where would they possibly find information on someone like that?

She navigated the ship to the surface and landed. Once the ship was finished powering down, Reina sat back and just stared at the spaceport. A xenobiologist and xenoarchaeologist wasn't exactly a common sight, so luckily if they could find someone to give them a lead it wouldn't take long to find her. The problem was where would they begin? "I suppose we can start with the information center," she suggested. "It's as good a place as any."

The two made their way to the information center. Reina was surprised as to how minimal the number of Mandalorians on the planet was. She started to feel at ease over the stacking evidence that the Mandalorian presence was not hostile. But she dared not let her guard down. The two arrived at Bandor's information center, whereupon she got to work researching their unknown potential affiliate.

The results, thankfully, were much easier to come by than she originally thought. The woman's name was Kytra Dorien, a local who participated in defending the planet from Bandomeer. She reorganized and lead a band of resistance fighters in holding their own, until allying with the Mandalorians to reclaim the world. She stepped away from the politics that followed, it seemed, and continued to follow her chosen profession afterwards. She was focused on this task, it seemed, which Reina found useful. Provided they even required her skills in the long run. It only seemed fitting based on her visions.

So, we know who she is, Reina thought. But now they had to find her. She could be anywhere. According to the records, she was still on the planet, though there was a possibility that the information was outdated, or she just slipped away after fading from the limelight. Though, given the kind of person Kytra was portrayed as, Reina somehow doubted the woman went anywhere.

"Come, Nyra," she said to her apprentice, "we need to find this person."

"This city is enormous," the girl responded. Reina cracked a smile, as she pondered what her reaction would have been to a place such as Coruscant. Nyra had spent some time at the City of the Jedi, but it wasn't as big nor as populated as Bandor. "How do we find her?"

However, she did bring up a valid question. With an estimated 450 million people residing on the planet, most of which were focused around Bandor, it was going to be a challenge trying to locate this Kytra Dorien. She thought on Nyra's question a moment, considering their options. "We must trust in the Force," she said to her apprentice. She paused a moment. "Bandomeer is Mandalorian-controlled," she noted quietly. Though it wasn't the best term to use, she admitted, it still conveyed her point. "They are also known for their mercenary work. Notably, there have been three separate instances of very good bounty hunters coming from Mandalorian heritage."

"Bounty hunters?" Nyra asked, confused on the term.

Reina grinned. To be fair, it wasn't a common term one would hear in the Jedi Order, and Reina had a clear understanding of Nyra's lack of knowledge on the nuances of the galaxy at large. "People who track down and apprehend or, in some cases, eliminate, others for a price," she said, her grin fading.

Nyra frowned. "But we don't wish to harm her," she protested.

"No, we don't. But bounty hunters are notable for being able to track down people. And can be a cheaper alternative to an informant." She paused. There were other complications to this idea, however. "Problem is, whatever we'd be charged, we may not be able to afford it." They had some credits, but just enough for restocking and other necessary fees. "Mercenaries never work for free, and the good ones aren't cheap."

Nyra frowned once more. Reina could tell she didn't understand this concept very well. "Not even if the galaxy is in danger?"

Reina shook her head. "Sadly, no. Most people only see what they have to gain in situations, no matter how dire." She thought on their situation a moment. "We've no other choice," she said. "We need to find Kytra. I'm afraid time is not on our side, we cannot afford to spend too much time looking for her."

"Why not find her through the Force?" Nyra asked.

Reina had considered this for a brief moment, as well, but normally the results were far less favorable when the person being sought out through the Force was at a completely undisclosed location, or unfamiliar to the person using the ability. In this case, they were hit with both of these circumstances. The effectiveness of this ability was generally far better if they were in danger, or the person in question was close by. Neither situation applied to them, here. "To say it would be difficult to accomplish would be an understatement," she said. "It may very well be far quicker to hire someone." Reina doubted that even she would be able to locate Kytra, despite her advanced development in sensing others around her. "We don't even know what we're looking for," she continued. "Every attribute we hone in on would be shared by at least hundreds of others."

"But the more attributes combined, the more specific a result," Nyra argued. Reina smiled. The child never ceased to amaze her. "We could find her if we focus on a combination of factors, rather than just one or two specific ones. We can find her by broadening, not narrowing, our focus."

While doing this wouldn't give them an exact result, they might be able to discern where, in a very general area, she might be. Reina supposed it was worth a shot. And if it doesn't work, we have no other choice than to find someone to track her down. "Come," she said, "let us go somewhere to meditate." They found a secluded atrium in which Reina and Nyra were able to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bandor life. It would allow them the ambience to concentrate on locating Kytra. "Now," Reina said as the two sat next to a fountain in the middle of a garden, "what do we know about her?"

"She's alone," Nyra said, remembering details on Kytra at the information center. She frowned. "Or, at least, she was." The battle was about a year ago, and Bandomeer was hit by the Xen'Chi earlier than that. The records were dated to a few months ago, and made no allusion to her status beyond the fact that everyone she knew died during the Xen'Chi attack. Nyra suddenly grinned. "She's ambitious, and driven."

Reina nodded. "She's also focused. If she's active in her field of choice, chances are we won't find her in Bandor." Especially if she was alone. "What else?" Nyra frowned again, trying to remember what the text said. "We know she's a capable leader," Reina noted.

"And strong!" Nyra chimed in. "She fought the... Xel… Key… ?"

Reina chucked slightly. "Xen'Chi," she said. It was understandable Nyra didn't know what they were, given her general lack of knowledge of the galaxy as a whole.

"Xen… Chi…" Nyra said, creasing her brow in concentration. "What's a… Xen... Chi, anyway?"

"Another lesson, for another time," Reina said. "Just know, for now, they were very bad people. Devastated a lot of the galaxy. It took nearly everyone collaborating together to fight them off." Nyra nodded, and looked distant. "So, we have strong, driven, ambitious, a leader, and focused," Reina concluded. "She may or may not feel alone, but with that uncertainty, I wouldn't use that as a basis for our search." She paused a moment. "Kytra will also likely be very angry at the Xen'Chi. We can use this focused hatred toward them in our search." She closed her eyes. "Now, relax. Stretch out with the Force. Connect yourself with its living energies. Using these qualities, reach out, and let's try to find her." Reina tapped into the living Force, and felt her concentration be joined with Reina, as the two combined their efforts into a single focus and began to search the planet for someone that fit these combined qualities.

At first it seemed a futile task, but as they continued to brush the minds of hundreds, of thousands, millions, Reina started to feel the impression of an individual who had a lot of anger and hatred built up inside her, but unable to exert it. She started to focus on the one individual, and began to peer into her subconscious. Xen'Chi. Mandalorians. She focused harder, and felt Nyra catch on and contribute to the efforts. It was a troubled soul, one who felt secluded from the rest of her world, despite the friendships she formed when she fought the Xen'Chi. They were friendships born from combating a common foe, and they ceased to exist after the war. Too many bad memories.

Between Nyra and Reina, they had managed to get a general idea as to where she was, and Reina was the first to open her eyes. She looked at Nyra, who started to show signs of stress and duress. "What's wrong?" she asked her apprentice, furrowing her brow in concern.

"All the death," Nyra responded, opening her eyes. Reina could see the sorrow in them. "The destruction, the loss. A great tragedy happened here."

Reina nodded. "The Xen'Chi hit everyone hard."

Nyra shook her head slowly. "Not the Xen'Chi," she said. "This is older than that. Ancient." Reina's curiosity was piqued. How did she not sense what Nyra could? "This isn't the first time I felt it."

"Why haven't you said something before?" Reina asked.

"I didn't understand what I was feeling before," Nyra said. "Not until I felt it here. It's very strong, here, despite being so long ago." Nyra looked at Reina, worried. "It felt like... like it did with the vision."

"Then it's best we get a move on," Reina suggested. "Find Kytra. The sooner we discern our vision, the sooner we can stop what is to come." She got up, and Nyra followed. "Let us go locate this woman." With that, the two Jedi departed the atrium.

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Re: Bound By Duty

Post by Cadden » Fri Sep 25, 2015 4:50 pm

The two Jedi made their way to one of the mining districts east of the city. It was one of the many places that were affected by the Xen'Chi invasion, Reina noticed. They were still cleaning up from the Xen'Chi's attack and the later Mandalorian liberation of the world. Reina looked around, attempting to locate Kytra, but neither her nor her apprentice were having any luck finding the woman.

"Jedi," they heard a distorted voice speak from behind them. The two stopped and turned to face the armor-clad Mandalorian. He wore all black, and clearly put significant effort into modifying his armor, as it was distinctively different from what she and Nyra were used to seeing. However, it was still clearly Mandalorian by design. "You seem lost."

"We're looking for someone," Reina said plainly.

"This area is chock full of construction crew workers," he declared. "What could you want from any of them?"

"We're looking for someone who has knowledge of extinct alien cultures." Reina kept her resolve. "Her name is Kytra Dorien."

"What do you want from her?" he asked. There was a flare of distrust in his voice.

As if he has any reason to think we're here to cause trouble, she thought.

"We need her to help save the galaxy," Nyra declared. Reina glanced at her before looking at the Mandalorian again.

He chuckled. "The galaxy always needs saving," he said mockingly. "You Jedi have different ideas than the rest of us on what that means."

"We have reason to believe a mass genocide will take place in the near future," Reina said. "We need her expertise to learn more about it."

The Mandalorian found amusement in that. "The Xen'Chi War is over, in case you haven't noticed, or you've forgotten."

"Not the Xen'Chi," Reina said. "Something else. Something... hidden." She paused. "Do you or do you not know where Kytra is?" The Mandalorian was silent for a moment, and Reina could tell he was considering whether or not he should say. "You can trust us."

Finally, he nodded, and pointed to a distant hill, outside the recovery zone. "Out there," he said. "Though don't expect her to be so willing to join this little quest of yours."

"Why is that?" Nyra asked.

"War changes people," he simply said. The Mandalorian started walking toward the hill, and both followed. "She tends to keep to herself these days. You'd have more luck getting the Protectors to become your personal army than to convince her to leave Bandomeer behind to go on a wild goose chase. Fate of the galaxy or not."

He led them to what appeared to be a dig site. At first it didn't seem much different from the bombardment zone they came from, but Reina quickly realized that whoever was there had found something and were using the upturned landscape as a staging grounds to uncover whatever they discovered. The disorganized mess of a battle zone was being transformed into a highly organized and coordinated archaeological excavation.

"Kytra!" the Mandalorian called out as they entered the site. "Got someone here to see ya!"

A couple minutes passed before the woman appeared. Reina immediately recognized her from the information center's images. She approached the three before looking over Reina and Nyra quizzically. "What do Jedi want from me?" she wondered.

"My name is Reina Krailles, and this is my apprentice, Nyra Zess. We have reason to believe there is a threat looming on the horizon. An ancient species that will be returning to wipe out all known life in the galaxy."

Kytra had an exasperated look. "I don't believe in tall tales," she said. "Find someone else. I'm busy." She turned to walk away.

"Please," Nyra said, "we need your help. We need someone who can identify what we've seen." Kytra stopped. "If we cannot learn what this is, all will be lost. This world, and thousands others, will suffer."

"At least humor us," Reina said. "We wouldn't even be here if we didn't believe it."

"What you saw," Kytra said slowly. "What do you mean you saw it?"

"Through the Force," Reina said. The Mandalorian snorted, but she ignored him. "It showed us what is to come, if we don't try and stop it."

"Right," Kytra said. "And I'm supposed to believe something from a dream?"

"Visions are much different experiences than dreams," Reina countered. "Both me and my apprentice experienced similar visions, and a third Jedi had at a different time, as well. Surely this cannot be considered coincidence."

"It can," Kytra said, "but I'll humor you. What did you see?"

Reina went on to explain as best she could the appearance of the ships. She continued to offer the vague descriptions that she, Nyra, and Guan, had gathered of the species. Kytra listened, though by the end Reina could tell she wasn't entirely convinced.

"I've never heard of a species matching these descriptions," she said. "I'm sorry, you're chasing myths."

"Perhaps you've never heard of them because they've been considered extinct for eons," Reina offered.

"Then what good am I to you?" she asked. "You'd need someone who could identify these ships and aliens. I cannot help you. Now, if you'll excuse me." She started walking away once more.

"I said she wouldn't be interested," the Mandalorian declared. "Now, if you've no further business here, it's time for you to leave."

Reina thought a moment. "Wait," she called out. She approached Kytra. "Wait. There is one more thing. In the vision, I caught a glimpse of something unusual. It appeared to be an obelisk of some sort. A straight, cylindrical object, maybe five and a half meters tall. It has some kind of circuitry embedded in it, and has an angular base."

Kytra frowned, before turning to face Reina. "I know of something that fits that generic description," she said. "We found what remains of something similar a week after the Mandalorians helped us retake Bandomeer. It is a close enough match to your description for me to consider it related to whatever it was you saw."

Reina nodded. "Can you take us to it?"

Kytra looked at the Mandalorian. "Sure," she said. "I'll arrange for transport."

"This I gotta see," the Mandalorian said quietly. Reina glanced at him. "We Mandalorians aren't the bloodthirsty killers the galaxy makes us out to be," he explained.

It took half an hour to get their mode of transportation and travel to the location Kytra mentioned. They landed outside an enclosed compound and Kytra led them to the entrance. "As soon as we found the artifact we took measures to ensure its security," she said. "Only authorized people are allowed inside." The door opened and she led them inside. Reina saw the object within seconds, though it didn't look exactly like the one in her vision. It seemed as though the top half was broken off, and most the circuitry was missing. It was surrounded by vegetation, with weeds and vines overtaking it. But the basic design was still the same.

"What I saw was intact, but yes, it otherwise looked like that," she declared. "Except, it was emanating some kind of green light, and shooting a beam into the sky."

"Can't say this has ever done that," Kytra said, "but if this is what you saw, there might be some truth in your vision, after all." She touched the device's base. "Near as we can tell, it is supposed to be some sort of... beacon, or an information hub, or something. But we have no idea how it works, or who built it."

Reina looked the device over for a moment. It was too bad she didn't know anyone gifted with psychometry. It could have at least provided them with some answers on the spot. "Whatever it is that we've seen in our visions," she said, "it will affect the galaxy as a whole. We need your help, Kytra. Countless lives are at stake."

Kytra stood silent for a moment as she stared at the device. For months, they knew nothing about it, and now, in the past hour, it had just become far more interesting. All because a couple Jedi had a vision. "We don't know anything about who, or what, built this," she finally said. "Nor what its purpose was." She looked back at them. "If this is real, we need to know what we're looking for. I need to learn more about... whatever these beings were… if I'm to be of any help."

Nyra casually walked up to the device and cocked her head to the side as she examined it. "Nyra?" Reina said, but the girl didn't respond. Nyra approached the device and placed a hand on its surface. A faint, low hum was heard, and Nyra moaned quietly in discomfort. "Nyra!" Reina called and rushed to her apprentice. She pulled her away and noticed her eyes had gone completely white. The humming continued and a strange noise came from the device, like a rumbling of the earth, but in varying tones and with pauses. Was it a language? Then, all went quiet. Reina focused on her apprentice, and attempted to tap into her subconscious. She opened her eyes after determining there was nothing wrong.

"It said something," Nyra said slowly, her eyes returning to normal. "Something about... the Ancients. It was... it was a warning. Something about a Cycle. That we must prepare for their return. That we must stop them."

The Mandalorian turned his back to them, though said nothing. Reina looked at Kytra, who was staring at the device.

"It's... never done that before.…" she said quietly. She looked back at Reina. "She said the Ancients."

"You know of them?" Reina asked.

"Only that they supposedly existed at some point in galactic history," Kytra said. "Mere speculation, based on a few pieces of archaeology the community has managed to discover over the centuries. They're about as mysterious as the Celestials." She frowned. "But if this device dates back thousands of years, if not more, and it's calling them the Ancients.…"

"Just how old do we know them to be?" Reina asked, helping Nyra back to her feet. The girl was a little off balance, but otherwise okay.

"We thought them to maybe be as old as a couple hundred millennia," she said, "but this alone would seem to indicate much older. We need more information."

"Where do we start?" Reina asked.

Kytra shrugged. "Online databases," she said rather plainly. "Nowhere else we can start right now."

The Mandalorian turned back to face them. "You'll need some muscle, if this is as bad as it appears to be," he said. "The Mandalorians will need to be ready to respond if this is a true threat."

"You're coming with us?" Reina asked. The man simply nodded. She couldn't deny this raised some mild suspicions with her, but she just returned the gesture. If he wanted to help, she wasn't going to deny it, though she wasn't really sure what he could do for them. If they came across trouble, she'd much rather attempt to solve it peacefully than through force.

But she wasn't really expecting to come across any trouble, either.

"I'm honestly not sure what you'll do," she said. "We're not expecting to run into any problems out there."

"I'll figure it out," he said. "Consider this more an investment to the interests of the Mandalorians, than an offer of assistance." That made more sense to Reina, and for that she was grateful. If this did wind up going south, quick, having the Mandalorians in the loop may do the galaxy a favor, provided they truly were not the same as generations past. "We Mandalorians know more than fighting, Jetii. You'd do well to remember that."

"Okay," she said with a frown. "What other services does a Mandalorian such as yourself have to offer?"

"Tracking," he said, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm also good with electronics. Don't care how old this stuff is supposed to be, you'll need someone of my skills along."

Reina nodded. "If you're going to join us, I'll need your name."

"Valek Arden," the Mandalorian said. "I'll meet you at your ship."

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