Star Wars: Aberrant Cause

Chapter 10

Aveyla was drifting an out of consciousness for days. There were only glimpses of her surroundings that permeated the haze in her mind; a deserted street, a spaceport, a ship and then a room carved from red stone that resonated with the light side of the Force. In this room, Aveyla felt a very different sort of connection than she had on Nar Shaddaa, with voices once again filling her mind, though they were quieter and more reserved than those she had heard before. The warm sensation that had comforted her remained, but she also noted that the sensations she felt were cold, though not like ice was cold. She felt detached from the place, despite her safety. It was a bizarre sensation.

When her wounds had mostly healed and she had passed through the worst of her pain, she stirred slowly and sat up, disturbed by the soft bedding around her and the silence. It was fundamentally different than what she remembered last. Once more, she questioned whether or not she had died in that cold storage room, but the throbbing in her head dictated otherwise and she felt an intense sickness washing over her.

"Finally awake, child?" said a soft voice that startled the young girl. Aveyla's eyes darted to a motionless figure sitting across from her in the room. With her legs and her arms locked in meditation, the mysterious figure that had rescued her did not have her eyes open, but seemed unnaturally aware of her every move. The Tei'lek was anxious about being away from her master and afraid of this new figure.

The figure seemed to notice. "Calm your mind, child. You are safe. You are on Ruusan, far away from the life you knew. This place is the Valley of the Jedi, a forgotten monument to those who fought long ago," she explained, only her lips moving.

Aveyla still felt apprehensive. "Jedi?" she whispered.

"Yes, the Jedi," the figure repeated, her eyes opening to the girl. They were lucid and fierce, but had gentleness in them. It was enough to entrance the young girl, though she still showed great fear of her new surroundings. "My name is Sheon, and I too am a Jedi. Do you know why I have brought you here?" she asked, slowly adjusting her arms from the meditation she had been applying. Aveyla shook her head timidly. "You have a connection with the Force. I sensed it most fiercely as I hid upon the Smuggler's Moon. Do you know what I speak of?" Sheon continued, searching her face for more than just verbal response.

Aveyla shuddered at the thought, remembering incident that had unleashed the rage of Anaos on her. She also thought back to the many times her strange powers manifested and burdened her. With a label now at hand, she found she disliked the Force.

"I'm not sure. I hear strange voices and things move without my touch. Master Anaos didn't like it, and neither did Master Myutta," she said quietly, hugging herself tightly. Idly, she wondered how Abe'ian would have reacted to her budding powers, though she wanted to believe he would have still embraced her.

Sheon tilted her head slightly. It was unusual for the Force to manifest itself so potently without instruction, yet she knew something was different about the Twi'lek girl from the moment she felt the sudden surge of ripple through the Force on Nar Shaddaa. The girl had an unusual signature in the Force, not distinctly Light or Dark. Her presence felt balanced and pure. It had persuaded the Jedi to risk exposure to rescue her, despite the fact it could easily bring the hunters of the Empire down upon her.

It appeared the risk had been well worth the effort.

"That is the Force. This place is strong with the light side of the Force and the voices you hear are from spirits speaking to you from beyond death," she explained, watching the girl look around fearfully. A bitter smile crossed her lips, as she found the girl charming in spite of her sordid past. "Do you have a name, child?" she asked.

Aveyla was disturbed at being asked her name. Most only referred to her as a slave, so the last person to truly know her name was Abe'ian. It made her slightly protective of it. "A-Aveyla," she whispered, looking down to the blankets wrapped around her legs. The subject made her realize she had nearly forgotten her entire name, though a lingering heartache at losing her family kept the rest of it from her tongue.

"Come with me, Aveyla. I will prepare a meal for you, so that you may regain your strength," Sheon said as she rose, then extended a hand out to her.

Reluctantly, the young girl succumbed to the hunger churning in her stomach and accepted the Devaronian woman's offer. Despite the fact she was extremely wary of strangers, she felt calm and serene around the woman. It was a pleasant change of pace from the latest string of new acquaintances Aveyla had suffered through.

After eating for the first time in days, Aveyla spent the rest of the day in the company of Sheon, a Jedi Knight that had been in hiding for nearly ten years. She learned the woman had been on a special assignment when the Jedi Order was massacred and did not return until long after most of the Jedi had been hunted down or exterminated by the Empire and its minions. Unsure on how to react, she followed most of her colleagues into hiding, using her time to search out other Jedi or Force-sensitives. She had led a mostly uneventful life in exile, staying in places where detection through the Force was difficult.

As she had been led to the young Twi'lek, she felt the Force has brought them together for a greater purpose. "Aveyla," said Sheon, sitting her down near a garden that struggled to grow in the Valley, "it is no accident that led me to you. The Force has greater designs for you, if you can learn to control your power. I brought you here to learn the ways of the Jedi. It will not be easy, but I know you will become a fine Jedi, if you are up to the task."

Aveyla was reeling. She had just been lying beaten in a storage room, a slave at the mercy of her master's rage. The only thing she knew of the Jedi was a few vague references in the books at Abe'ian's manor and the verbal lore that circulated the seedy corners of Myutta's palace. She had no idea what it meant to be a Jedi, but she felt such serenity in the presence of Sheon that she was willing to leave her past behind her and do whatever the woman asked, even if it meant embracing the powers she had so passionately despised.

"You are getting ahead of yourself, Sheon. You should not fill the girl's head with visions of glory and service that existed in the old Order. You don't even know if she can be trained," said a strange voice from the garden, startling Aveyla and making Sheon rise from her place.

A man approached them, making Aveyla feel anxious and flighty once more. He was a Khil, much older than Sheon was, clad in gray robes and carrying an ancient tome in his hand. The strange, mechanical voice originated from a pendant around his neck, which translated his thoughts into speech, as his native language was known by very few outsiders to his species. The writhing tentacles what constructed his mouth frightened the young girl, though Sheon did not seem bothered by them. As a matter of fact, she bowed slightly to him, showing the man due levels of respect for his station.

"Master Xerros, we both agree that we cannot sit by and let the Order decay or be destroyed by the Sith. The traitor Skywalker and the Emperor are too powerful for what few remaining Jedi there are, so we must renew our ranks. She has a strong connection to the Force and…" she began, but the man raised a hand and interrupted her, the mechanical tones of his translator barking from his pendant.

"She is strong with the Force, but I sense much fear in her. Her emotions are unbridled and her mind is weak. Her age is also a factor," he replied, looking down at the girl with skeptical eyes.

Sheon pursed her lips and stood her ground, unwilling to relent on the potential she felt in Aveyla. "Master, I would have not brought her here if I was not certain she could learn. Between the two of us and the relics you have preserved, we could train new Jedi and strike back at the Sith. Aveyla would be but the first to embrace the Jedi way," she proposed, not shy at hiding her vision of the future.

A hissing sound escaped the Khil's tentacles as he sighed, looking between the two with tired eyes. He had been disturbed enough when Sheon found him on Ruusan, but now she had begun bringing children to his sanctuary. While he understood the truth in her words, there was conflict within him and he feared what would happen if they were to be discovered by their enemies. "You are still as headstrong and fearless as ever, Sheon, but you are also right. If you trust the child can be trained, then so be it, but we must be cautious. This sanctuary is well hidden from the Sith, but we must be careful to not create ripples in the water," he warned, turning his eyes down the young girl. He had sensed how powerful she was, but also that her power was wild. It would be easy for her to alert their enemies, even if she did not mean to. He knew Sheon understood that, so he would not press the matter.

"We will train the child," he said.

A new chapter began in Aveyla's life. The transition from a slave to Jedi was challenging and painful, with even the most basic principles such as confidence and concentration being difficult for a girl who had been owned by others since she was a child. The physical demands were great, especially for her weak body, and Xerros was very strict in his instruction.

The greatest influence on the young girl was Sheon. Aside from teaching her to handle a lightsaber and control her telekinesis, Sheon also talked with her on many different aspects of the Force, not just the tangible kind. The woman was open-minded and sought to understand the greater purpose of the Force, and this directed the way Aveyla thought of the galaxy and her place in it. While Xerros was a Jedi Master and had an entire library of instructional texts and a breadth of technical knowledge, it was in Sheon that Aveyla found her mentor and grew to love her as she had loved very few others. Those days were some of the happiest in Aveyla's life, where the brutalities of her past were subdued and her smile had returned. Sheon returned this affection freely and the two were much like a mother and daughter, just as Abe'ian had been much like a father in another life.

Those days were not destined forever, as the galaxy churned and plotted without any regard for the happiness of one single being.

On a day just like any other, the sanctuary was disturbed by the presence of the dark side of the Force. Minions of the Emperor's Executor, Darth Vader, had been dispatched to investigate Ruusan, where denizens of the dark side had sensed vibrations in the Force. Xerros, Sheon and Aveyla were hidden away, but watched every move of the shadowy figures scouring the Valley of the Jedi for them, their every moment a threat of annihilation. Aveyla had rarely felt such fear, despite the fact she had Sheon protecting her and her own lightsaber in hand. While she had developed a far greater level of confidence than ever before, fear shackled her body and all of her training had slipped from her mind.

There was only fear, and fear led to the dark side.

As quickly as the dark force has arrived, it disappeared when the minions found no trace of the Jedi. Xerros had taken great care to hide the sanctuary and those preparations had paid off, but the encounter had jarred the Jedi from their complacency and brought about a decision that tore a hole in Aveyla's heart.

The two senior Jedi agreed their number was too great and that they had to lessen the vibrations of the Force present in their enclave. It was decided that Sheon would depart Ruusan, but that decision made Aveyla hysterical with fear.

"You can't go! It's too dangerous for you to be alone," she was pleading, watching the Jedi Knight picking through travelling supplies in preparation for her departure.

Sheon smiled bitterly, looking to the girl with all of the motherly affection she had fostered over their months together. "Aveyla, I am not a child and you cannot afford to act like one any longer. I will be fine, and I will be searching for others like you who may be taught our ways," she cooed, patting her hand across the girl's head.

Her calm was not contagious to her student, who seemed even more frightened that when she was brought to Ruusan. "Then I'll go with you. Master Xerros prefers to be alone anyway," she pleaded, clutching the older Jedi's arm.

"My child, you have learned much in these few months, but you are still young and vulnerable. Your lightsaber skills are unrefined and you still suffer tremors when you sleep. It is far safer for you here and I cannot be burdened with looking after you as you learn," Sheon explained, deliberately being blunt to destroy any plans she might have to try and follow her. The realization that she would endanger Sheon made Aveyla drop her eyes, though her clenched teeth continued to display her resistance to the idea.

Not wanting to draw out the farewell, Sheon left Ruusan very quickly, saying her goodbyes to her student and to Master Xerros, whom she entrusted with continuing the girl's training. Once more, Aveyla watched someone she loved leave her life and she found it difficult to control her emotions as Sheon had taught her. Despite remaining in the tutelage of Xerros, she suddenly felt very alone.

In the years following Sheon's departure, Aveyla's training as a Jedi reverted to reading texts and suffering the callous training regimen of Master Xerros, who's teaching priority was on the learning of technical information and facts from books. While Aveyla had once excelled at book learning, her studies became flat and her skills did not improve, much to the chagrin of Xerros, who became more and more critical of her and distributed punishments more and more vicious. Gone were the personal talks about the nature of the Force or how the technical information was translated to the world around them. Instead, her roll became less like a student and more like a servant, a lifestyle Aveyla had desperately tried to forget from the time when a collar hung around her neck. Her daily tasks were remedial, and she had not touched a lightsaber in months. Xerros spent his time pouring through the ancient relics he had amassed and rarely spoke to her, especially of her training.

In lieu of any real training, Aveyla studied the library of relics with great fervor, learning much about the ancient precepts of the Force and the Jedi philosophy. She also came across some rare Sith artifacts and texts. Much to her surprise, Master Xerros did not seem critical of her when she began to study them, rather ignored her as he always did. Having a stark contrast to the Jedi philosophy made Aveyla's head churn with thoughts of the dark side, yet she was constantly comparing the two, jumping from one text to another to find correlation of ideas and where the two philosophies met and diverged.

A notable event in her time with Xerros came when a tremor surged through the Force with such might, it had nearly caused Aveyla to pass out. It was as if the galaxy itself had wailed in relief as a dominating pressure was lifted from it. Somewhere far away, beyond where Aveyla and Xerros would ever hear about it, the Dark Lord of the Sith and his apprentice perished around Endor and the pendulum of the Force swung back to the Light, finding a measure of balance with the son of Chosen One.

By the time Aveyla's body and mind had all but matured, she had studied nearly every relic in the sanctuary. Her relationship with Xerros had always been changing, slowly but with great affect on their daily lives. Their isolation had driven the Khil to exhibit strange behavior for a Jedi Master, and his waning interest in her had begun to grow, though he still showed no interest in continuing her training. Instead, she felt like he looked at her very much like the patrons at Anaos's club. She felt like someone was watching her as she went about her daily routine, especially when she bathed. When he did approach her for some remedial chore, he made any excuse to touch her or linger close by, a wicked look in his eyes.

Aveyla had grown up and was extremely familiar with the carnal side of men, so she did all she could to avoid him. Although she could barely use it, she carried her lightsaber at all times and doubled her efforts to study defense techniques. Ironically, his aggressive advances provided her with more training and knowledge than any time since Sheon had left, but the young woman knew that someday her master would snap and his advances would no longer be casual. While her younger self would have submitted to him and accepted her role, her studies in Jedi and Sith philosophy and training made her more resistant to domination, to point where she would deny him with everything she had.

During a time when she was avoiding her master, wandering deep in the sanctuary, she had come across a relic that Xerros had never been able to study. In her own studies, she recognized it as a Sith holocron, though its owner and purpose was sealed in silence, even as she handled it with trembling hands.

Suddenly, the holocron reacted to her and a glowing figure rose from the shadows, revealing a long-dead Sith Lord who breathed heavily through a respirator and glared at her with golden eyes. Aveyla had fallen back and was terrified, so out of touch with her training that she did not draw her lightsaber. The figure groaned and wailed, as if to realize his own demise, then turned his attention back to the girl.

"Who disturbs Darth Malgus?" he snarled. Aveyla could not answer, and the figure gazed at her for a long time. "Could it be you, the one I loved and destroyed to break my heart of weakness?" he said, reaching out to her with a strangely sentimental look in his eyes.

Aveyla continued to be stricken with fear, cringing from him and feeling very much like the small girl who had been abused by cruel masters and broken by a slave's shackles. The image of Darth Malgus hesitated for a moment, then stood straight, his hand returned to his side. "No, it cannot be you. You are a frightened child, but the Force has a hold on you. Tell me, do you revel in the power of the dark side, or do you follow the foolish Jedi in the light?" he asked.

Trembling, Aveyla shook her head, her eyes wide and locked on him. "I-I don't know," she said, her mind blank and her heart frozen.

"Good," Malgus replied, letting out a thundering laughter and holding out a clenched fist, "As long as you crush your foe, it does not matter where they lie. I sense the taint of Jedi weakness in you, but also the fury of the dark side. If you heed these teachings, you will become a powerful warrior, just as she was." With the opening his hand, a flash of energy took hold of Aveyla and her eyes began to glow red. Glimpses of the past flashed in her mind, followed by a flood of emotion. Skills mastered by the dark lord pulsed through her body and she felt a surging power, though it was all so overwhelming that she screamed, clutching her head and falling to the ground.

Malgus lowered his hand, staring at her in silence as she tried to process all he had given her. It had not killed her, which his spirit looked well upon. "Take this power and crush your enemies," he said and his spirit faded away, leaving the silent holocron once more hiding his secrets.

Her head throbbing, Aveyla stumbled from the chamber that held the holocron and out into the main library of the sanctuary. The influx of dark energies and knowledge had weakened her so that she collapsed in the midst of the Jedi relics, her body trembling and her teeth clenched in pain. The power and knowledge of a Dark Lord of the Sith was a potent thing for such a frail container, but something far more sinister was looming in Aveyla's future as approaching footsteps signaled that Jedi Master Xerros had sensed the outburst of dark energy and was quickly coming find out what its source was.

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