Chapter 11: The Son
Two feminine hands with pale crimson skin held a swaddled infant up in the air. Keyliah held her baby up over her head for the entire Lorith village to see. Everyone in the village who were not already outside, came out of their houses to see the baby. Everyone had a shocked look on their faces after realizing who the father was.
Keyliah smiled prettily. Utterly happy to show off her baby.
Vorune stood nearby, observing all the members of his tribe that he had not seen in months. He had been away for a long time, putting his entire focus on his love for Keyliah. Within moments, the lovebirds were surrounded by Lorith tribesfolk.
"She and I came here to assure you that we are not your enemy," Vorune shouted out to the entire village. "We come here seeking your acceptance and your approval for coexistence. We do not want any trouble from you. We want an alliance." He looked at everyone he possibly could, meeting each pair of eyes as he gave this speech. "As you all can see with your own eyes, that alliance is strongly possible. In fact it has already happened through this newborn child of mine. He is a Lorith, just like you and I."
Vorune's mother was here in the crowd, but with eyes flooded in tears.
"We have much to gain from this alliance, much to look forward to. If we trust in the Force and trust in ourselves to make the right decisions, we can overcome anything. We can vanquish any foe. We can climb new heights and begin a new future."
Keyliah smiled at her husband, feeling proud of him and his words.
"So what do you say tribesmen and tribeswomen and children? What do you say to walking forward into a new horizon? Are you with me or against me?
A massive sphere of pure white light manifested in midair. The Radiant Woman was inside it, hovering with her arms extended from either side as if she physically held this portal open for Dya'Mondria. Dya was within the sphere, floating also, but that ended once the alien woman vanished. The sphere of pure white light vanished with her, suddenly leaving Dya without a surface to stand on.
Screaming, she dropped out of the sky and crashed onto the hull of a massive ruined starship. Since the ship was a giant incline, she instantly slid down the hull with great speed. Unfortunately the surface of this hull was not smooth at all. She anchored herself with her legs and boots, using the Force to amplify her jump. With a leap she lunged forward and traveled far out, but this airborne move quickly turned into a dive. She spotted a large hole in the ship's hull and fell through as she somersaulted, finally to land gracefully upon her feet somewhere within the alien vessel.
After landing in a crouch, she looked around to study her surroundings. Dya stood up after realizing that there was no immediate danger, and straightened her posture before taking hold of her shoto. Right now there were not many open spaces, so she dared not arm herself with her long-handle lightsaber. Her shoto, activated, produced a blue blade of light from underneath her left hand. She took careful steps forward, holding her shoto in reverse-grip style and allowing its light to illuminate the surrounding darkness.
Everywhere she looked, she shined her lightsaber, examining the place closely. She saw signs of Sith culture everywhere. Walls decorated with ominous symbols and glyphs, instruments of torture, shackles and chains for bondage and submission, mounted heads of both animals and humans, horrific statues formed from bone, aquariums filled with vicious flesh-eating fish, and locked cages filled with dead creatures that looked too horrifying to be natural. There was more, much more, giving her a clear idea of just how far these Sith would go to reach the deepest aspects of the darkside.
Worst of all, this place reeked of old festering blood and death. Corpses of what was once the crew of this ship lay scattered about and littered the floors. Everywhere she went, the darkside was there. She could feel it looming in every shadow, lurking in every crack and crevasse, and permeating the air she breathed. It even crept along her skin, making tiny hairs stand up and giving her goosebumps. The air felt cold, almost too cold, as it pierced her bones and provoked aches and pains. The utter silence of this ghost ship she explored, even that felt so loud that the quietness hurt her eardrums. Gravity felt heavier here, but she doubted it had anything to do with the planet's nature. That too was darkside, pulling on her soul and tugging at her mind, making her feel burdened with some horrible beast so deep within her heart that it made her struggle to not unleash it.
As Dya continued walking, exploring this ruined derelict of a Sith ship, she realized by now that this was darkside in the most purest manifestation. It was the atmosphere of what Korriban would have been had its surface not been destroyed by war and corruption; had it not been rendered into a lifeless ball of dirt, dust, and rocks.
A low whispering voice spoke out to her, saying, "Je'daii."
It made her cringe, only because she thought that someone lurked right behind her, but when she turned around quickly to see who it was, she saw nothing.
"Je'daii," it whispered again.
Dya blinked a couple of times and shook it off. She kept telling herself in her mind that she was not going crazy, that she was sane and in control of self. She moved onward, traveling in the direction of where the darkside became the most intense. The further she traveled, the deeper she went into the depths of this hellish starship. The deeper she explored, the thicker this dark energy surrounding her became. Soon it became so thick that it felt as if she walked underwater. Her vision became blurred and distorted as if looking at things underwater. Everything happened in slow motion for her. It seemed as if time slowed down tremendously. Eventually she could not move, stuck in one place.
Still she looked around, trying to identify where she had gone and where she was now, but at this point she realized that she was lost. Nothing but darkness prevailed here. Not even her lightsaber could penetrate this kind of darkness. It surrounded her, hugged her, and even constricted her. Its coils had sneakily wrapped themselves around her body, and now she was being crushed by the serpent this darkness became.
A deep penetrating hiss sounded in her ear, and sprays of moisture dampened her face. Her mind tried to process all these things happening at once, but she could see nothing and felt utterly confused.
"The Force," she thought. "I must use the Force."
She tried. However, there was no light here. Only darkness. Her only option was to either utilize the darkside or become devoured by it.
"The darkside," she thought. "I don't have any other choice."
Words came to mind, words spoken from the lips of the Radiant Woman, saying, "It is a guardian stone, one that will shield you from darkside influences. However, it does not prevent you from making your own decisions."
Dya remembered, now focusing her mind on the Radiant Gem she had installed in her long-handle lightsaber. Her hands were tied down by the serpentine coils of darkness, so she could not reach the long weapon she crafted, but her mind could indeed reach the gem. Dya closed her eyes and focused. The end of her long-handle saber, the part that existed as a hidden shoto, suddenly sparked to life. Its prismatic blade of pure white sparkled as it emerged, creating a blinding flash of light that burned away the coils of darkness.
Freed, Dya fell from midair and landed gracefully on the ground with her blinding shoto in left hand. Her long-handle lightsaber was in her right hand. With the brilliant power of the Radiant Gem serving as the blade of her unique shoto, she could now see within the darkness. The coils of darkness was actually some sort of giant serpent. It slithered away in fear of the light, pained by the brilliance of her shoto's pure white blade.
"You are strong in the force," said a different voice. This time it sounded Human; a male, someone close-by. She turned around and saw a wall of prison cells. Only a few of them were active, filled with corpses of prisoners long forgotten. Some of those corpses still had clothes on them, and those clothes were Jedi robes.
"Jedi were here?"
Those robes were familiar to her; modern-day Jedi attire.
"Any normal Jedi would already have embraced the darkside at this point."
Dya walked over to the prison cell where she heard that voice. This prison cell was active too, with an energy barrier to keep this mysterious person locked inside.
She held her bright saber up to the barrier, providing light for a better look at the man. He squinted, even shielding his face from the light, but he wore dark gray clothes. Prisoner clothes.
"I suppose you won't let me out of here, will you?"
"Who are you?"
"The name is Mathius," he answered. "Mathius Lurke. And you are?"
"Leaving you locked in there."
"I'm sure you are locked in there for a reason," said Dya. "I'll respect that."
He got furious, screaming so loud that his voice echoed through the Force. Dya was blown back by the force of that sonic blast, flung into a wall before she crashed upon the floor. Her lightsabers fell out of her hands and deactivated. The giant serpent, hungry, took advantage of this and moved in swiftly to swallow her whole.
The man laughed, watching as the serpent snatched her body head first, stretching its jaws to swallow her as quickly as possible. Now only her legs were visible and she kicked crazily at the air in effort to escape. Mathius danced in celebration, laughing and cheering for her unsightly demise. "Die, Jedi! Die! Die, Jedi! Die!" Her feet were no longer visible, for she had been completely devoured. Mathius pointed at the bulge in the serpent's sleek body and he laughed even more.
With a swift vibrating hum, the serpent's flesh was gutted from the inside out. The wound gushed with blood and innards as Dya dug herself out.
Mathius was no longer laughing then. "That's a disappointment."
"You're next, if you don't shut up!"
"Fine," said Mathius. "But don't blame me when the Sithlady comes to kill you."
"Sithlady," she frowned. "What Sithlady?"
"You shall soon find out."
Krautha already knew. Her link to Mathius in the Force alerted her to the fact that there was a Jedi here on this planet. Mathius told her so. "Keep her entertained. I'm on my way." He understood and obeyed; the power of the magical mark she put on his forehead made certain of it.
At home and alone, Krautha knew that her Sith children were gone. They were at the Lorith village making history. The whole plan was in motion, and soon she would have an army at her command. First, she figured, she must go forth and deal with this unknown Jedi, before all that she planned and worked for came to an abrupt end.
With that in mind, she mounted a giant lizard beast. It was something the natives called a terralizard, fast and agile. With the sorceress on its back, it sped off into the wilderness, heading in the direction of the Sith derelict.
"So yeah," said Mathius, grinning like a maniac. "She's coming. She's on her way right now."
"Wonderful. Then I won't have to go out and find her," said Dya. "You Sith are so hospitable on this planet. I really don't know how to thank you."
"It's the least we could do."
Dya wanted to kill this man, but she saw little need. He was locked up and had lost his mind apparently. Besides, she was busy fighting off the darkside internally and externally. The Radiant Gem helped greatly, but this was not about being influenced by the purity of the darkness surrounding her. It was about herself, about what lurked within her already, the darkness deeply rooted into her soul from times of darkness endured since childhood. She was a murderer, and Mathius knew it.
"Je'daii," said the ominous whisper again, speaking into her ears as if the person stood extremely close to her. "You are Je'daii."
Mathius laughed at her, watching her cringe. She dropped her lightsabers, grabbing her head with both hands and hunching over to fight spiritual pain and mental strain. "Oh how I wish I could read your mind right now, girl. You... you are a murderer. I can tell just from looking at you. Wearing all that white doesn't make a difference. Not at all."
"Shut up! Just Shut up!"
He pointed, laughing even more.
When her lightsabers dropped, they deactivated again. The surrounding darkside energies pulsated with excitement and arousal as black coils began to circle her and squeeze her body again. Constriction began all over again, squeezing her so tight and fast this time that she became dizzy and could hardly breath or think.
"Oh," said Mathius. "You see that? That's the darkside. That's you trying to kill yourself. You don't like you. You hate you. It's you that wants to come out, and she's fighting you to do it."
"No," she cried, punching the coils and attempting to wrestle them off.
"Oh yes, girl. It's happening. All you need to do is let go."
"No! I won't. There is no emotion, there is peace!"
"No, the Jedi Code won't help you here," Mathius taunted. "Peace is a lie. I'm sure you can see that now, can't you? If there really was peace, you would not be going through this right now, would you?"
He was right, in a sense, because this darkness attacking her was actually from within. It was the darkside energies expressing that for her, interpreting it as serpentine creatures and noxious fog and other horrid monstrosities surrounding her at the moment. A coil wrapped around her neck, trying to choke her and keep her from speaking the Jedi Code.
"There is no," she said, struggling to speak the next line. "no, ignorance.... There.... is knowledge."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, keep saying it. They are just words. They won't help you here. You chose to walk into the depths of the darkside all by yourself," he chuckled. "Now... why would any real jedi do that unless she was curious about the darkness?"
Right again. She sensed a mass of darkness upon entering this ship, and like a gnat to a lightbulb, she had come searching for it. She could not help herself. It was her mission, to come here and vanquish darkness. To come here and vanquish the Sith. However, what about the darkness within herself. Would she vanquish that also?
While she wrestled with the coils of darkness, the slithering serpent leviathans of the darkside here, she found herself floating in a sea of blackness. It came pouring in from the cracks and crevasses of the walls, ceiling, and floors of this broken starship, filling up this brig and becoming deep water. She actually felt the wetness on her body, the murky coldness giving her flesh a piercing chill. Her joints were starting to feel numb. Her mind started to fade. Her vision became blurred and gradually faded into blackness. Her will to survive became overwhelmed, so much so that like a waning candle wick, her burning flame was snuffed out, and turned to rising smoke. The flame was gone, but whatever last bit of hope she had left within her dying soul remained, but only briefly, mustering the last bit of willpower left to call out to the Force and ask for her legendary master.
"Windu," she whispered, finally seeing a faint image of his ghostly face, and reaching out to him desperately with her free hand. "Please," she gasped, trying to get the last bit of air she could inhale before saying, "Help me."
"I can't," he said. "You made your choice."
"I'm sorry, padawan," he said as a blurry and fading image of purple light. "Farewell."
Her last breath was spent. Everything faded to black. She drowned.
Krautha stopped, signalling the terralizard. The terralizard obeyed and ceased its gallop across the landscape. Curiosity rose up inside, making her ponder something and she climbed down off the beast and slowly began walking towards the Sith derelict resting in the distance. She stared at it, wondering what this was that she felt. This surge of darkness and the hint of a dying light. It was coming from the derelict. "Wait," she thought. "Did the Jedi just... die?"
"She's gone, my lord. The darkness within consumed her. She's gone."
She gasped with delight, placing her claw-like hand upon her heart. This moment felt so wonderful to her heart and soul that she could hardly breath right now. She could hardly stand either, feeling weak in the knees from this near-orgasmic eruption of joy from within. A gigantic toothy grin appeared on her face as she dropped to her knees and began crying with tears pouring out of her eyes. "Oh, thank the Force! Such a wonderful delight. Oh, my day could not have been happier." She through her arms up over her head and cheered the sky, laughing hysterically in a maniacal screech.
In her mind, she could hear her slave Mathius laughing too.
Then when gaining the feeling in her legs again. she climbed to her feet hurriedly, feeling utterly excited and anxious to get to the derelict. She took the terralizard by its reigns saying, "Come on, baby. Come with mommy. That's a good boy." She walked with joy as the creature walked with her, crossing this sandy landscape that surrounded the derelict for what seemed like miles. It did not matter. She could take her sweet time getting to the ship now, because the Jedi was dead.
Vorune put a hand to his chest, feeling sudden and excruciating pain. He hunched over, gasping and coughing, almost as if he could not stand. Keyliah caught him with both arms, holding him up and asking, "Are you okay, love?"
"I don't know," he strained to say. "I don't know what's happening to me."
Mother was sitting at the table with them, watching what just happened to her miserable son. Tears fell from her eyes as she said to him, "I feel it too."
He looked at her strangely. "What is this, mother?"
She bit her bottom lip sadly, still despaired at the fact that her son had turned to the darkside, joined forces with Keyliah, and had a baby with her. "It's the Force," she said to him. "You are reacting to the nature of the Force."
Keyliah glared at the older woman, even knocking off all the food and dishes sitting on this table in anger. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing. He is a child of the Force, just like the rest of us."
"Which side of the Force are you talking about?"
"Either side, every side, all sides. It as a whole, is only one thing. That is the Force."
"Is it? You cannot have one side without accepting the other. That's how chaos starts," she explained. "But of course you wouldn't not know, would you? There is no mentioning of 'knowledge' in the Sith Code is there, you ignorant brat!"
Keyliah's eyes glowed with fury and she roared to intimidate her.
The baby that rested in a woven seat designed for its comfort, woke up crying.
"You just disturbed your own baby, Keyliah."
"Shut up," she said, carefully grabbing the infant and calming herself own so she could care for it. In that moment, she opened the loose fabric of her top, revealing a breast that she helped the baby's face to. When it found the nipple, it took it inside its mouth and began suckling rapidly. The baby was now silent.
Mother stared at the baby with scrutiny and contemplation. It appeared pale at the moment, but due to exposure to sunlight, its skin was already developing pigmentation. From the look of it, the baby was a light-brown red color. It's hair appeared bright red with streaks of black. Its eyes were that of the father, not the mother, which made Vorune's mother realize something. However, she decided to keep that idea to herself.
Vorune seemed better now, though he did not feel that way. He and his mother shared gazes, staring at each other thoughtfully. The Force connected them, and together their minds united telepathically. They began speaking to each other in the most private conversation possible.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like I just died," said Vorune. "It hurts. Badly."
She nodded. "I know. It's what happens when someone close to us dies. That death ripples out to anyone connected to that unfortunate person."
"But I don't know anyone other than you, Keyliah, her mother, and our child. Well, there is the village too, but I sense that no one here has died."
"Perhaps there is someone you forgot."
"No. I don't forget people."
"You forgot about me," she informed. "That's why you were gone for months without coming by to visit. Where were you all this time?"
"You know very well where I've been, mother."
"The baby is evidence of that."
"I'm sorry I left you mother. I was angry."
"Anger is an emotion, and it is natural. I understand and I forgive you. The baby however, and your relationship with this demon you call a wife, that's different issue."
"I love her."
"But does she love you?"
"How would you know? Because she told you so?"
He didn't answer that.
"You know, actions speak louder than words. I felt the pain through the Force when she assaulted you."
His eyes widened. "You know about that?"
She nodded. "It is as I said. We are connected through the Force. That includes all your loved ones, all of your friends and associates, anyone you developed a relationship with can be felt through the Force."
Vorune's countenance dropped. He felt shame.
"It's not too late to change your mind, Vorune. You should know that. It's never too late to change."
"I know," he nodded. "But I don't know what to do. I love Keyliah and I love the baby."
"You need to make a decision and stuck with it. Stop being so indecisive and letting life take control of you. It's time to take control of your life. That's all part of growing up and becoming an adult."
Vorune nodded. When he looked at Keyliah, he saw that apparently she had been watching him and his mother this whole time.
"Are you two having a private discussion?" she asked.
"Nothing that concerns you, of course," said mother.
Keyliah looked at Vorune. "I'll kill her. Right now if you want. Just give me the word."
Vorune sighed and said, "Just shut up and take care of the baby, okay?"
She was taken aback by that. This was the first time he had seriously stood up to her. She blinked a couple times and then smirked, feeling impressed.
Vorune stood up. "Keyliah. Mother. I must go now. I'll be back."
Mother smiled inconspicuously at her brave son.
Keyliah looked bewildered. "Where are you going?"
"I need to go and make sure my family is protected," he said walking off with his deactivated lightsabers in hand. "I'll be back."
Keyliah and mother simply stared quietly as the young man walked out the front door and closed it. The they looked at each other, but no words were exchanged. Keyliah looked down, adoring the baby while it slept and continued feeding from her breast. Mother stood up, smiling secretly, walking away to her room. The home remained quiet from then onward, for both females trusted that Vorune would soon be back, just as he promised.