Chapter2: Light and Shadow
Dya'Mondria felt as if she were skirting the darkside these days, not only because of her current studies, but also due to extensive Jedi training received prior to those dark studies. Following orders from Grandmaster Korvon Hikarikasai, she did exactly what she was told to do and began learning all she could about ancient Force-sensitive cultures, religions, and traditions. The Jedi Archives were fully at her disposal, including level-restricted information found locked away behind a vault. By the grandmaster's authority, she was granted top-level access to much of the well-kept secrets, well-guarded knowledge, and well-secured artifacts gathered and accumulated by the Jedi Order.
Her continuing studies along with her Jedi training, in result, did involve historical research of Sith Purebloods. The Second Great Schism and the Hundred-Year Darkness were just a couple of examples of key events she sought after, all in an effort to gain understanding of exactly what happened in those ancient times. Her master had hoped that all this research would possibly lead to the hows and whys concerning the discovery of that runaway armed transport the Republic Armada attacked.
Nearly a year had passed since that extraterrestrial ambush. Dya'Mondria Vexx never forgot it, how the armada came close to eliminating what any Jedi, in his or her right mind, deemed a newly pending threat to the galaxy. Although she did not forget, she put it aside in her mind and locked it away in an unceasing memory of recent past. She used this memory to stay alert to possible future incursions by the Sith. Although she did not feel ready, the grandmaster believed her to be well-trained and well-prepared for dangerous exposure to things only the highest ranking Jedi were allowed to have access to. She was a Jedi Shadow, a young woman suited for facing the full range of ambiguous situations concerning lightside and darkside. As such, she now took a deep breath before reaching out to what appeared to be a glowing pyramid-shaped device.
A Sith holocron.
She was alone at this moment, in a secluded place where no one could disturb her. A sense of dread befell her soul as she stared at the ominous artifact. She felt reluctant to unlock the ominous holocron, now becoming hesitant, but even still, one of her hands was already extended towards that glowing pyramid. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, but found that she simply could not do this. She tried to force herself, but she just could not press on. Though she had already summoned the power to perform this questionable act, she gave up, dropping her gloved hand back down to her right side.
She exhaled a defeated sigh and lowered her head in self-disappointment. "This is crazy. Too crazy. I can't do this."
Grandmaster Hikarikasai accompanied a young padawan of the Chiss species. This little blue-skinned NearHuman sought the man's counsel, feeling a bit of doubt and discouragement from losing many sparring matches with other youngsters. Korvon's personal holoprojector beeped rapidly, indicating that someone was trying to contact him. He excused himself from the child and answered his holoprojector, seeing that this caller was a hooded female figure whose face was not visible.
"Hikarikasai here," he said, glad that she hid her identity like so. He was in a public area right now. Here were lots of people, mainly Jedi conversing and taking strolls or standing around while enjoying their day. Apparently this holographic conversation would have to be severely limited, so as to not raise suspicion or risk exposure of this young woman's true identity. "I'm listening," he said, careful not to mention her name.
"Please meet with me. I must speak with you."
"The usual place?"
She nodded. "See you there."
The watching padawan stood quietly nearby this whole time, but when the hologram of that mysterious woman vanished, he asked, "Who was that?"
"No one you need be concerned about, my student."
"Listen." Changing the subject, he said the the boy, "I want you to go practice those sparring techniques I just showed you. Continue on with your training and don't lose confidence. You are doing well. Better than you realize."
"Thank you, master," he bowed, feeling brightened and enlightened by the grandmaster's words of wisdom. Then the Chiss boy jogged away.
Hikarikasai began making his way to where Dya'Mondria wanted to meet with him.
She was still standing here before this Sith holocron, conflicted about her mission. This was the moment when Hikarikasai arrived, dressed in his usual all-black Jedi suit. The bald-headed man had a powerful aura about him, of strength, reliability, and confidence. His charisma inspired that same strength and confidence in many others, a quality that made him unique among the Jedi Order. However, there was no telling what the man was feeling or thinking by looking at his face, partly because his eyes were either covered or replaced by cybernetic eyewear that appeared opaque and shaded. Regarding his eyes, no one knew what was true.
Despite his awesome and mysterious presence, Dya'Mondria already felt a little better with him around. He was calm, cool-headed, and a well-collected man, a peaceful and pleasant presence, someone whose spiritual light proved advantageously contagious. A beacon of hope. She loved being around him, and always felt worse when he was gone.
"What seems to be the problem?"
"Grandmaster," she said, turning around completely to face him. "I'm sorry, but... I don't think I can do this. I shouldn't--"
"I selected you for this mission because of your skills and because I believe you are capable of doing this."
"I fear that I may become corrupted just by inquiring about the Sith through their holocrons."
"That's perfectly understandable. This is why I chose you, because I know you are against it."
"I don't understand."
"I'm having you do something you desire not to, which tells me that you are the right person for this task because of your level of humility," he explained. "You see, a person that desires to do what it is I have asked of you, or even a person that is excited about doing this, is someone I know I can't trust. Not fully. That kind of attitude and emotion are what may bring forth corruption when handling this top secret operation, thus bringing forth terrible consequences from darkside exposure."
She nodded, now understanding.
"This is a secretive mission, one that requires no one within the Jedi Order to know about it except myself. In fact, no one knows of your existence besides myself and a few trusted Jedi masters. The less people know about you, the more successful this mission will be."
"But what you are asking me to do goes against what we Jedi stand for."
"Not quite," he began. "For example. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge."
"Yes," she nodded, knowing the Jedi Code.
"In this case, we both are standing here within a restricted part of the Jedi Archives. This place is mainly for acquiring knowledge. Do you understand why this place is restricted?"
"Because there are things here that can lead to the corruption of an untrained Jedi."
"Close," he said, accepting her answer. "It's to protect the Order. That is what we Jedi do. Protect people, places, and things. That includes ourselves."
"How is dabbling with Sith artifacts and delving into their knowledge of things protecting anyone?"
"I'm allowing you to get to know the enemy. With that, comes knowledge, from information that most within the Order do not have and are not allowed to have. For lack of better words, they are to remain ignorant to what you will learn and be exposed to here. Top secret information. In this case, their ignorance protects them. We are protecting them by maintaining that ignorance, or rather, innocence in this case."
"What if I fall to the darkside?"
He smiled and shook his head. "I do not believe that will happen. In fact, I have faith in you and the success of your mission. When you become fully prepared, I will send you out to begin that mission, but only when you are well prepared. Part of that preparation begins right here where we stand."
She sighed, looking away and feeling uneasy about this. "I remember when Jedi Shadows were trained to seek out and destroy all Sith artifacts, to prevent the rise of Sith forces."
Hikarikasai nodded. "As you can see, the Sith have returned thusly."
A smirk rose on her face nervously. "I see your point."
"This is why I personally trained you to become a Jedi Shadow," he said, patting her on the shoulder with a firm but friendly grip. "You are perhaps the most lethal Jedi currently within the Order. You have learned every combat Form we know and practice, and you have mastered almost every kind of lightsaber weaponry we have available, including the rarest weapons found and used by both Jedi and Sith."
She nodded, agreeing. The only Form she had left to master was the seventh, one normally referred to as Juyo. She was already well-trained in it, but since it was such a mysterious, unorthodox, and incomplete combat Form, there was still much to learn and much more to master.
"Not too many Jedi, or even masters can make claim to that accomplishment," the grandmaster continued. "I would say that Juyo and the lazerwhip are the last of things for you to master."
"With that said, it is not an exaggeration to acknowledge that you are perhaps the most dangerous Jedi among us, even when compared to me."
"Master. Please. Don't say such things."
"It's true, Vexx," he insisted.
She shook her head at him, not wanted to accept that, but in that moment she suddenly stopped after empathically realizing, "I sense much fear in you, Grandmaster."
"Indeed," she whispered, as if afraid to say it.
He nodded, but suddenly had no words for her.
She continued to probe his emotions, sensing other things, a deeper aspect of that fear, something beyond the surface of his prominent emotion. "Wait a minute, master. Is it because of me? You fear what it is I've become, or... maybe... it's what you think I may become?"
"I'm not that easy to read," he said, shaking his head at her. "But the answer to your question is no. It has nothing to do with you. You are just a reminder of something I'd like to forget and wish never to have experienced in life."
"You're a shadow of my experiences, of my philosophical and spiritual shortcomings."
"I don't understand. What is that supposed to mean, master?"
"It means that what I fear is no one other than myself," he answered grimly. "What I would have become had I not been redeemed and rescued."
Dya'Mondria listened, sensing that this was becoming a deeper conversation than intended.
"Keep in mind that I too had a few brushes with the darkside. There was one time, the very last time it happened, when it was thought that I would never return."
Her eyes widened. "Really?"
He nodded. "This is not something I like to talk about, and if so, I would not speak of it to just anybody except a selected few."
She considered herself one of those "selected few" people, for obvious reasons. She was not sure if she should feel privileged or unlucky, but she continued to listen to his story.
"My fear stems from the fact that, had I flirted with the darkside a little bit longer than I did, I perhaps would have never returned to the light. For a brief period of time, I didn't want to return either. I rather enjoyed the darkside."
She felt taken aback by his confession.
"Anyway," he said after seeing her reaction. He began to change the subject with hopes to kill the mood this dark confession began to create here. "Perhaps I will tell you more about it at a proper time."
Dya'Mondria looked towards the holocron with uncertainty, considering the grandmaster's words. She realized that Hikarikasai was waiting on her decision to continue or quit, but quitting was not something she would do. "Alright master. I will do this."
"Perhaps you can give me some instruction."
"It's quite easy really. That holocron, as many others like it, require a dose of Force lightning."
"I'm aware of that master."
"Then proceed," he instructed. "But... try not to injure yourself. Force lightning and its usage is a quick and easy way to fall into the darkside. It requires emotion, not serenity, and yet a Jedi that has learned to utilize Force lightning must enter a state of serenity to gain control of the elemental power upon its execution."
"Sounds like a contradiction."
"It's not. More like the practice of balance between the lightside and the darkside. The original people of the Jedi Order understood this balance, and thus it's a practice rarely used today. Find the unstable barrier of disharmony between that duality and bring stability to it. You will then gain the clarity you need to proceed."
"Okay," she said, lifting her hand once again, preparing to do it.
Hikarikasai grew silent, stepped far enough away from her, and made it seem as if he was no longer present. He did this by retracting his force-emanations, close to that of a non-force user. It was as if he had shut off his force sensitivity. At this point he watched her, remaining calm and confident in his student.
Dya'Mondria concentrated, letting go of the lightside. She took hold of passion and of dark emotions that were usually checked and controlled within her. She could suddenly feel darkness brewing, like water that had just barely reached its boiling point and formed bubbles. She could have gone farther, traveling deeper into the darkness, but she did not, because she still cherished the lightside and everything the Jedi Order represented. The lightside poured in, attempting to cast out the darkness within her soul, but she held it at bay, even resisted it, almost as if she began to enjoy the darkness and scorn the light. Already she began to witness the birth of her own internal insanity, which in fact became the spark she needed to become a conduit for such elemental power as Force lightning.
She stretched out her hand, curving her fingertips to form a claw, and suddenly a mass of golden light generated at the palm of her hand. It was then that she felt anger, rage, and utter hostility, but her eyes glowed with a brilliant gold light in result. Then as she channeled that electricity generated within her body, she seized its power and directed it through her glowing hand, forming an invisible connection between herself and that Sith holocron.
A burst of light occurred as golden bolts of lightning shot out, arcing between her hand and the holocron. Electricity danced about the holocron and her hand, whipping and snapping through ionized air as the holocron became activated.
In an instant, a holographic interface manifested as a hovering tapestry of information and images in the air above the holocron. A smile rose on Dya'Mondria's face, for she was glad she succeeded, but when she turned her head to look at the Hikarikasai for approval, she realized that the grandmaster was no longer here with her.
Her smile vanished.
Many hours later, she returned from the vault and exited the Jedi Archives, remaining hidden or unnoticed by any and everyone. A mask covered her face, functioning almost as a mechanical helmet with optical sensors and internal/external scanner systems. These systems helped to aid against the obscured vision effected by the mask's overall design. Besides the glowing eyes, the mask was virtually featureless. It was a device she was required to wear that could attach or detach from the associated neck-guard and its connected cranial rear-plate armor. In addition to that was her hooded cloak, which added to the concealment of her identity. She was advised only to speak when necessary. Therefore the mask would also electronically disguise her voice if she ever spoke, so that no one within or outside the Jedi Order would be able to recognize her. Keen in the Force, she possessed a formidable mind. That also came with a natural immunity that blocked telepathic intrusions from her mind.
All this considered, it was fairly easy to move about through this Jedi Stronghold without being detected. She was even able to use the Force to cloak her presence and become invisible, and even muffle sound, in order to be more stealthy.
Reaching an area designed for utter seclusion from the rest of the Jedi Order, she needed not be concerned about discovery except by the Grandmaster himself. With access to a special sector unknown to anyone else but the selected few, she caused the doorway to unlock and open before she stepped inside.
This place, enormous and spacious, had a large capacity for occupancy. She was not the only person that lived down her, but she certainly was one of the newest members of this secretive Jedi Shadow faction. She gained her promotion less than a year ago, sometime after the failed astronautical ambush against a mysteriously ancient Sith Pureblood transport.
Upon her return to this Shadow Sector, she was greeted warmly by the older members. They too were all Jedi Shadows. At last, she could finally remove her mechanical mask and pull down her hood for a breath of fresh air. She then made way to her living quarters, seeking solitude and meditation to contemplate the things she learned from that Sith holocron.
With all clothes and gear removed, except for the body glove worn underneath it all, she found herself lying on her back upon her bed and staring at the ceiling. With her hands behind her head, she thought about something that captured her attention from the holocron earlier. It was a lightsaber weapon referred to by ancient darklords as the 'Sith lightsaber'. In all actuality, they created all kinds of lightsaber styles, so it was strange to refer to it as a Sith lightsaber when it was actually a double-bladed lightsaber.
During her research, she acquired the schematics for constructing one. Realizing that she could not rest with this exotically ancient weapon on her mind, she decided to get up out of bed and approach her workstation with the aspiration build one. Just as the Sithlords turned away from alchemically enchanted swords and developed their own unique lightsaber constructions--just to mock the Jedi--the Jedi began constructing unique versions of the double-bladed lightsaber to mock the Sith.
Though every Jedi Shadow here in the underground possessed a double-bladed lightsaber, such a weapon was not a requirement for use nor was it necessary to wield it. In fact, before becoming a Shadow, she, like the others, began with the use of a single lightsaber. Some were still that way. She was not, having mastered Jar'Kai and habitually utilized two lightsabers along with Form V. Shien and Djem So were contrasted variations of Form V, and she mastered the ability to shift between the two during combat. Of course, with the use of Jar'Kai as her favorite fighting style, she was not shy of other Forms in lightsaber combat or even unarmed combat called Teräs Käsi as practiced by people of her homeworld.
"I suppose it is time for me to begin my mockery of the Sith," she said to herself, observing a downloaded holographic projection of Sith lightsaber schematics.
Grandmaster Hikarikasai had a lot of things on his mind, some of which concerned that young Jedi Shadow female. The girl was uncertain about herself these days, seemingly trapped perpetually in some kind of internal conflict. With being half-Miraluka, he could clearly see the girl's spiritual afflictions, but he dared not mention it to her or anyone for various reasons. One of those reasons included the security and safety of Dya'Monria's secret identity. That was why whenever he did refer to her by name, he said, "Shadowflower."
The young Jedi came to him about her plans to construct a special type of lightsaber. This piqued his interest, in the way she formed creative methods on how to better execute her secret mission. One of these methods involved a crystal. With that in mind, Korvon Hikarikasai decided to pay the Radiant Woman a visit.
"Shadowflower," she repeated, sitting in a throne-like chair in the center of this vast and spacious chamber. "She's the one requesting this crystal?"
"Yes," he said, standing calm and patiently before her with his hands folded.
The Radiant Woman looked Human, though no one was quite certain what she was exactly. Her glowing hair grew so long that it veiled not only her face but her entire body. When her bangs fell away from her face, what he saw was pure-white skin with glowing white eyes. Her entire being had a brilliant white glow around her. Even her skin glowed, brightly, as if she existed as a Human-shaped lightbulb. This was the result of her deep communion with the lightside of the Force, so much so that she had no need to wield a lightsaber or even use it.
Korvon often wondered if this woman was actually a Force spirit capable of maintaining corporeal form and existing here in the material realm without end.
"I can prepare a Radiance Gem, just as I did with you many years ago," she began, talking while contemplating this matter deeply. "However, according to what I am now sensing from this Shadowflower, my gems are not at all what she seeks."
Korvon appeared puzzled.
She chuckled at this.
"Any idea what it is she really wants?"
"Normally I would say, go ask her, but... I do believe she doesn't quite know."
"You're an insightful person. What would you suggest?"
The Radiant Woman simply tilted her head to one side and smiled at him.
Dya'Mondria relaxed on her bed once again, pondering things. She had already gathered the basic components for constructing a lightsaber: power cell, modulation circuits, energy gates, blade-emitter shrouds, emitter matrices, and a power activator.
Now she needed to fashion the kind of hilt she wanted for the weapon. In addition, she needed crystals. These were not only extremely important components for the exotic weapon, but also difficult to come by. The reason why she rested in solitude on her bed instead of further attempting to construct the weapon, was the fact that she needed to relax and meditate on the existence of this weapon with use of foresight. It was not mandatory, but she desired to do this because it reminded her of an ancient Jedi master that she admired greatly.
The doorbell beeped, indicating that someone waited on the other side.
"Who is it?"
The door slid open mechanically as the grandmaster calmly walked in.
"Hi, Shadowflower." The door closed behind him and he approached her bed, but he did not sit down. "I came to see how you are doing."
She sighed, sitting up tiredly at the edge of her bed. She patted the surface, inviting him to sit at the foot of the bed. He did so, making himself comfortable and remaining professional about it.
"Do you have an idea of how you want to construct it?"
"Yes. I see it clearly in my mind, but..."
"I'm afraid I don't have the right material to fashion it that way."
"Could you describe the image you see in your mind?"
She did so, with much detail, but the most important feature was the black material. When she described what she wished to do with the weapon in combat, it became clear to him that she would want to use one of three special materials. Phrik, cortosis, or Mandalorian iron. All these materials were famous for being extremely durable and highly resistant to lightsaber blades. The girl was keen, understanding the drawbacks of lightsabers that had long handles. It put a smile on his face.
"I believe I can get one of the materials for you, but it will take a long while to achieve. By the time I get it, you could have made three dozen different lightsabers of more practical use and design."
To her, that was a disappointing answer. At least he was honest.
"What sabers do you have now?"
"One modern-day lightsaber with a standard-issued hilt."
He nodded. "Right. The one I provided you when you became my apprentice."
"Yes," she said. "Then I have a shoto you provided me later on to assist with my defensive techniques."
"Right. All Jedi should have one. It's mandatory."
"Then I later crafted my own shoto, but it is a dual-phased design with a standard-sized hilt unlike my first shoto. It can increase in blade length to become equal with my standard-issued lightsaber."
"Clever," he complimented. "That's the one you crafted upon your initiation into knighthood."
He contemplated something for a moment. When an idea came to him, he turned to her and said, "May I suggest something?"
"I'm listening, master."
"Make a substitute, something that is as close as possible to what you envisioned. Meanwhile, I will do what I can to get the casing material you will need for your dream weapon. How does that sound?"
"Good." He smiled at her.
When he opened his hand to reveal something sitting in his palm, she looked down and saw that it was a lightsaber crystal with an uncommon color. In fact, it was a dual-colored shard, one that appeared with a bright-green skin with a dark-blue core. This color combination created the illusion of an overall teal hue. Seeing this crystal made her gasp and brought into her heart a few nostalgic feelings that representing some very important times in her younger years.
"I believe this shard belongs to you," he said. "I have no need of it."
"I'm surprised you had it all this time."
"I only kept it because this was what remained of you, after you decided to leave the Jedi Order."
She felt ashamed about that, something she had not felt in a long time.
At that point, he revealed a small pouch and handed it to her. "Here. I want you to have this. It should help you out. Anything else you need, just let me know."
He stood up to leave this room. She watched him leave. When the door closed behind him, she opened the pouch in her hand to a jewel of some kind. This thing was not exactly a lightsaber crystal, but it could be installed in a lightsaber hilt just like kyber crystals. Its appearance was translucent and crystalline with a pure-white color that sparkled brightly. The jewel emitted enough light to illuminate her entire room. From the look of it, as seen through the Force, the jewel was already primed and ready for installation. All she needed to do now was begin constructing the hilt of her new lightsaber.
With that in mind, she sat down at her workstation. There she began designing the internal structure of the lightsaber hilt, using all the components she had available.