Chapter 3: Truth
With a training pistol drawn, she quickly aimed and squeezed the trigger. Several blaster bolts roared, hurling from the gun's blazing muzzle towards Vorune. With his lightsaber, the boy reacted quickly using a firm two-handed grip on his weapons as he swung the glowing blade with expert skill. Each swing blocked a bolt, stopping them and eliminating the threat to his life.
She saw this and kept firing. The boy ran towards her as he blocked every shot. Coming in fast, he lunged at her with a two-handed attack, drawing the blade over his head first before coming down with a hard vertical chop. She dove out of harm's way, with blaster in one hand and lightsaber in the other. Landing beside him, she swung with her left hand using a reversed-grip fighting style. The inverted blade swung in close but his lightsaber stopped it upon collision. Sparks ignited from impact.
With her right hand, she planted the muzzle of her blaster to his abdomen, because she was nearly crouching and attacking from a low position. Vorune stopped, see his error. His body was wide open. She pulled the trigger. A blast roared. Vorune's body got flung down towards the ground in pain. His face grimaced and winced as he dropped his lightsaber and grabbed his abdomen with both hands. In angry protest for losing, he growled and cried out in rage.
"Serves you right for leaving yourself open."
"If I didn't have to hold my lightsaber with both hands, then--"
"That's Shii Cho for you. It's practically useless by itself. That's why we master other Forms," she lectured. "You need to have a better understanding of how and when to switch between Forms while in combat. In the moment I put my blaster to your abdomen, you should have either been using Soresu or Makashi. Soresu for defense against blaster fire, or Makashi for offensive counters."
"How many Forms are there?"
"Seven," she answered. "However, I am only training you to these four. Right now you have mastered both Shii Cho and Soresu, but now it is time to master Makashi and Ataru."
Mother felt surprised to that her daughter came home with the Lorith boy. It was not as if she could not sense their presence through the Force as they arrived here, but it was unexpected. She did not want that boy anywhere near this house, but her daughter proved to be quite rebellious. She did manage to get some Jedi clothing on, as to at least seem like someone that can be trusted. However, she was obviously Sith, and her only cover was that people in this day and age had never seen an actual pureblooded Sith. The only Sith people this galaxy knew of were all Human.
Just as the door opened, she smiled at the youngster and appeared so loving and peaceful. In fact, she wore all-white robes with a belt that hand a lightsaber attached to it. Her hair was pulled back into a high ponytail that draped down pass her neck. She was sitting at a table when the children came walking in, and on that able was a strange cubed device.
"Hello," she said with a friendly voice. "How is the training coming along?"
"Vorune is a fast learner."
"Good, Keyliah. Time was long over due for you to get yourself a padawan."
"It's nice to meet you," Vorune bowed, greeting the mother.
"Likewise. The name is Zhanta. Zhanta Kenn. You will call me Master Kenn."
"Okay, Master Kenn." Upon noticing the cube on the table, Vorune became curious and asked, "What is that?"
"It's a holocron," said said, discreetly looking at her daughter with a gaze that mean trouble. Obviously the woman was in a mischievous mood, enjoying this deception all too well at the moment.
Keyliah glared at her stubborn mother inconspicuously. Mother knew that Keyliah did not want to tell the boy about his father yet, but apparently mother took over this situation as she obviously planned to do, perhaps to secure her place undercover.
"It belonged to a clever Jedi by the name of Jorn Lorith."
Vorune felt surprised. "He was a Lorith?"
"Yes. Have you heard of him?"
"No, but..." Vorume thought about this. "That would mean that he came from this world, from my village."
Master Kenn folded her arms and nodded. "Indeed."
"Wait a minute." He looked at Keyliah. The girl gasped and began backing away from him, worried that the boy would lash out in anger towards her. "You mean to say that this holocron belonged to my father."
Master Kenn chuckled. "The boy is astute. You picked yourself a good one, Keyliah."
She cut her eyes at her mother, feeling annoyed.
"My father was the only Lorith that left this world to become a Jedi."
"Uh," said Keyliah, feeling nervous. "Yeah."
"Then all this time you knew about him, and you never told me."
"I was going to but..."
Vorune felt angry already. Darkside awakened within him.
"Please calm down," said Master Kenn. "Let's not do something stupid."
He calmed himself.
"I wasn't sure if he was your father or not. That's why I never said anything."
"Was this the special thing that you wanted to tell me, but refused to do so all this time."
Master Kenn smirked and said, "And now the brat has something else she needs to tell you."
Keyliah gasped, now scared out of her mind, not at all ready to reveal the secret. He looked at her with eyes of accusation, waiting to hear what she had to say. Scared, she looked to her mother with a helpless expression on her face. The mother, smiling deviously, simply shrugged her shoulders, folded her arms, leaned back in her chair, and waited patiently as she watched this moment unfold.
"Mother. What are you doing?"
"Telling him the truth. That's what Jedi do, right?"
Keyliah snarled at her, wishing she could kill that woman right now.
"Well," said Vorune, folding his arms too. "I'm listening."
The girl broke down and lowered her gaze to the floor. She could not face him.
"Alright! Okay! I'll tell you!"
Vorune watched her, and so did her mother. They both waited for this.
Keyliah took a deep breath and exhaled, "I'm pregnant."
Vorune's eye widened with shock.
"There. I said it."
He was at a loss for words, but his face grew a big smile.
Master Kenn smiled, but not for the same reasons. Sure, she was going to be a grandmother, but that was not the interesting part. What interested her was the fact that now Vorune's emotions were at their peak, which meant that this was the right time in his life to fully introduce him into the darkside. Sure, he already had access, being that he was being trained by Keyliah, but now that a baby was on the way, emotional attachment to both Keyliah and his unborn child would guarantee a full submersion into the darkside of the Force. All that was needed now was the right guidance, teaching, Sith training, and provoked emotional outbursts. As for provoking emotional outbursts, she had a perfect plan for that.
Coming out of her sinister contemplation, she looked at the youngsters and saw that they were hugging each other tightly. Keyliah's chin rested on Vorune's shoulder, and her eyes were staring at her mother with a killer glare. Her lips wordlessly said, "I hate you."
Mother smiled back and said without words, "I hate you too."
It was like any other day, hot, but today there were clouds in the yellow sky. Wind blew, making this journey through the the jungle a cool and pleasant one. Together, the love birds hiked, both equipped with bags with single straps and backpacks. They currently headed southeastward, in the direction of a large and inconspicuous starship.
"Not that I'm not enjoying this hike, but..." said Vorune, feeling happy to be here with his pregnant girlfriend. "Where are we going?"
"The crash site," she answered, holding the straps of her backpack for comfort while it rested on her back. "Besides the fact the mother wants us to go bring her a few power cells, this is part of your training, and mine."
Vorune felt puzzled. "What do you mean? Aren't you the one training me?"
"My time with you is over, love. I can continue to train you, but mother is in complete control of the situation now. Besides, she's a better duelist and practitioner of sorcery than I am. A legend actually."
"Yeah," she said. "What else would it be?"
"I never thought of Force sensitivity as sorcery."
"There's all kinds of ways to use the Force. Some natural, and some are unnatural. Conventional and unconventional. It's all the same to me."
"Does this sorcery have something to do with these talismans we are wearing around our necks?"
The answer was obvious, so she simply said, "They are supposed to protect us."
"I'm not understanding that."
"Do you remember in training when I taught you how to perform lightsaber combat without the force?"
"Remember when I told you the using the Force can be a handicap sometimes?"
"I trained you to be minimalistic with the Force, to use the least amounts as much as possible. There was a reason for that, and now that you have mastered that, our journey to the transport will be so much easier."
"What's the reason?"
"To hide your existence with the Force, to appear to all Force users as a non-Force user."
"But we are wearing lightsabers on our belts."
"True," she said walking beside him with a smile on her face. She looked at him with the cunning smile and said, "Just keep in mind, we are humble scavengers seeing a means to make our lives easier by taking whatever we may find."
"Exactly. These talismans we wear will make sure we don't fail in our effort to retract our connection the Force."
"So any Force power we use..."
"Will be reduced greatly and will take more effort that usual to utilize. You will only need to use a small bit of Force, just enough to perform masterfully the Forms I taught you. To every Force user on this planet, we are nonexistent."
Up beyond a dense maze of trees was a large clearing, but that was caused by a major earth-shifting shock from the starship crash. A large crater was formed at the time of the crash, causing trees that were not struck down to be knocked over by the temporary earthquake. The soil had resettled long ago, maintaining the crater. Rainfall only helped to solidify it over the passage of months.
It was unrealistic to think that that no one had noticed the ship crash. However, the locals in this area were not Korun tribesfolk. That was a good thing because they were not Force sensitive. Force users could present problems for these two hikers, especially upon discovery of Keyliah and her mother's true identity. Vorune would be their only alibi in this case. Nevertheless, there were natives in this area that still presented a threat, and they were often attracted to the ruined transport.
A group of them were already camping near the ship, within the crater. Their campsite was complete with huts and campfires. It was late afternoon, nearing twilight hours. This planet always had long days and short nights, always locked in a spring and summer-like season.
"We won't have much time," she whispered, hiding behind a tree. "Nights are short on this planet so, we are going to need all the time we can get."
"To do what," he whispered back. "We're only here to get--"
"Don't you realize what kinds of things are on that ship? We are going back home loaded, you understand?"
"Fine," he responded. "I suppose you and your mother are the ones that were onboard that ship when it crashed."
She sighed, rolling her eyes. "Of course we were."
"You never said this before."
"You never asked."
"What is it, a Jedi transport?"
"It's just a transport."
"That a pretty large transport," said Vorune, gazing at the starship. "Why is it that only you and your mother are survivors. Where is the rest of the crew?"
"I guess you never heard of escape pods."
"Not for every single person onboard. Someone is going to be left behind. Lots of people in fact."
"People die when ships get fired on by other ships, you ignorant jungle boy."
Not as ignorant as you'd like to think, he thought. "Why was your ship attacked?"
"Look! Do you want to come with me and scavenge the ship or not?"
"Then shut up already! We need to sneak past these lizard bandits."
"Lizards? Why are you calling them lizards?"
"Because they have tails."
"They're mammals, you ignorant space girl. More like dogs."
Vorune, amused by the girl, watched as she crouch-walked from behind the tree and towards the dog people village. Already these 'dogen' bandits were howling with glee this night, lifting their heads to the mostly black and starry sky. A little daylight remained with the last of the sunset, but the moon was out and it was full. That explained the howling.
He followed her petite body from behind, seeing how dark her skin appeared in the night. The weather was still hot and breezy, which was why neither he nor she wore much clothing, and looked as if they had just come from swimming in a lake. Together they reached the huts that surrounded the ship, hiding amongst them while staying out of sight of the Dogens. from the looks of these animal humans, they were a tribal bunch. Warriors. They had swords and spears, weapons that appeared to react strangely under moonlight.
Vorune observed this, seeing that each weapon appeared black and yet emanated a faint aura of bluish light. Because he was too busy investigating his surroundings, instead of following Keyliah's lead and sneakily making his way to the ship, he lost sight of her and was now alone.
"Oh well," he said to himself. "She can handle herself."
Hiding near a hut, he watched the movements of these people and waited for the right time to make his move. Someone exited a hut and walked off into the night, and now it was empty. Being careful as not to be revealed by torchlight, he scurried his way across the sandy ground and scampered into the empty hut. Here he found weapons made by these Dogens--swords, daggers, lances, and axes. He snatched a couple of daggers, finding them to be easy to carry and far less cumbersome than the other weapons available. Then he left the hut, vanishing into the shadows once again. Unseen.
Keyliah had reached an opening she wanted to use as an entranceway into the ship, but that was when she stopped to see that Vorune was not following behind her. She facepalmed and growled lowly, "Of all the stupid things to do."
However, Vorune showed up just seconds later, emerging from the shadows with a proud smirk on his face. "Look what I found."
She lowered her hand from her face and looked at him. It was impressive how stealthy he was, and his dark skin helped. Her teachings and the way she trained him was thorough and expertly done, but still she was disappointed in him. Looking at what he found, she saw twin daggers in his hands. They were black, but glowed faintly in a strange way, like moonlight. Those black blades were curved, but the inner curve was serrated while the outer curve was smooth and sharp. They looked like they could really hurt someone.
Still disappointed in him, she said, "Why did you do that?"
"I wanted these," he answered. "They're impressive."
"They're just stupid daggers made by mundane monkey people."
"Dogens," he corrected. "That's what we're calling them."
"Fine," she sighed, with her hands on her hips, now frustrated with him.
"Look. The metal they're made from. It glows at night."
"What if this is a useful element?"
"Useful for what? Making dog toys?"
He rolled his eyes. "Nevermind," he said walking in through the breached hull. "Let's go."
"Thank you," she said, following him inside.
The place seemed darker inside than it was outside. This ship as a whole was a nightmare, in utter ruin, and spooky. Because the ship crashed nose-first, the flooring inside this place was on an incline, making it somewhat difficult to walk forward without having to climb. It felt like walking up or down a steep hill. They both traveled cautiously, looking around in all directions while shining their lightsabers to illuminate the darkness.
"I want you to think of this trip as part of your training."
"There are lots of things here. Feel free to look around and investigate whatever interests you. Just be mindful that this ship is also full of dangers, some of which I'm not even aware of."
"Ultimately, besides finding packs of power cells for mother, I wanted to take you to your father's room."
"My father was on this ship?"
"Yeah, he was with us before the crash. He was married to my mother, and he loved her."
"Then that means you're my--"
"But..." he realized. "I got you pregnant."
"Vorune, I'm not going to renounce my love to you just because of a unexpected discovery. Besides, we are not blood, so there's nothing to worry about. I'm still going to have this baby."
"I'm sure you'll make a wonderful father."
He chuckled. "I hope so."
"You will, love," she assured. "You will."
"Well... the first thing I'd like to do is go to my father's room. There is so much I don't know about him, and I'm wondering why he could not return to my mother and I but ended up marrying your mother."
"No clue," she said, stuffing a bag with power cells. She found a bunch of them in a crate nearby. "He never talked to me about stuff like that. He was too busy training me in his Jedi ways," she explained. "But if you want to go to his chambers now, follow me. I'll lead you there."
His father's domain onboard this ship was an enormous one, spacious, built with many rooms and places to go. Keyliah came into this place with Vorune, remembering how it used to look before now. A lot of her training had happened here, along with her stepbrother Lon.
"Listen," she said. "If you want to learn something from your father, just use the holocron we gave you. I got it from here. Take whatever you want. I'm going to have a look around and find the things I think we may need."
"Okay. See you later, then."
Keyliah wrapped her arms around the back of his neck, hugging him romantically and looking into his eyes with a loving gaze. They kissed passionately, but when they finally stopped, she gave him a communication device and said, "You can contact me with this."
He took it and stared at her from behind, watching the cute and utterly sexy way she walked as she left this chamber. When she was gone, he reached into his backpack and pulled out the holocron. As instructed by Master Kenn, he first removed the talisman from around his neck before sitting down in a meditative position. Then he began to focus on the Force and use it to activate the holocron.
His father appeared, but it was not a projection from the holocron. "Vorune," he said, with a ghostly voice that seemed to echo a little bit.
Vorune opened his eyes and looked up. There it was, a incorporeal man standing before him with a bluish glow around his ghostly body. The man smiled and said, "Vorune. It is so good to see you."
"Are you my father?"
"Last time I checked, yes."
"How is it that I am able to talk to you? You're just a hologram."
"No, not at all. I am now a spirit, manifested by the Force. I'm real, not a hologram."
"A spirit? You mean you're dead?"
"I died, yes, if you wish to look at it that way, but I am still here and I came to visit you. It's been a long time and I am glad to see you right now."
"How is that possible?"
"There is no death, there is the Force."
"So you are with the Force right now as we speak."
"I have questions."
He nodded. "Ask."
"My mother and I. Why did you abandon us?"
"I was called by the Force to become Jedi. That was what I intended to be when I woke up and saw the truth. Afterwards, when the Jedi accepted me into their Order, your mother and I became romantically involved, but that was not the first time we met. We met before I even joined the Jedi Order."
"You didn't really answer my question," he snapped.
"Careful. Your emotions are starting to take over. Keep this in mind. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no passion, there is serenity."
The boy calmed himself and nodded agreeably. "You're right."
"I sense that something is troubling you. Care to tell me about it?"
"I'm scared. It's not that I fear my future. I just don't know what to do about it. I'm feeling a bit confused."
"What has happened that would make you feel confused?"
"Keyliah is pregnant, yet she is my stepsister."
"Oh," the ghost said, realizing what was going on. "I see."
Vorune looked worried now.
"Her name is not Keyliah. That is just a variation of her actual name. Kylah. She is the daughter of my wife and another man who was also Sith, but this man was not Sith by blood or inheritance. Only by religion."
"Sith? I thought Keyliah and her mother were both Jedi."
"No," he corrected. "Technically not. Though the family was reluctantly conquered and ruled by the Jedi, their rulers were not true Jedi. In actuality, they were Dark Jedi, members of the Order that fell away from light into darkness. The result caused many bloody years of endless war until the Jedi finally defeated them. Upon defeat, those Dark Jedi were banished by transport to the Unknown Region were they happened to discover the homeworld of the Sith."
"So then when you say Sith..."
"I mean the actual species, not the people that took the name as a title. Sith were all born to be Force sensitive, and some were more powerful than others. It was a unique way of life until the Dark Jedi arrived from deep space to conquer them and become their gods."
"How do you know all this?"
"Because I was there. My father and mother were a couple of those banished Dark Jedi, and like the others, they were worshiped as Lord and Lady of the Sith."
"The Sith, like Keyliah and her mother? They were slaves?"
"Yes. I never did like how things were back then, so I decided to rebel. Part of that rebellion was due to my love for Krautha, Keyliah's mother. I appreciated her power and tenacity, her affinity for rebellion, and together we fought to escape the Sith homeworld by commandeering this transport and fleeing out into deep space. Unfortunately something terrible happened."
"Not entirely sure. It would seem that our ship was lost in space, and then it became trapped in a spatial anomaly. We were trapped there for a long time, too long, but during that time we realized that none of us were aging. We were forever young. That was until the anomaly released us. As we regained control of this transport, we explored the galaxy, seeking to find our way and begin anew, but that was when we realized that our vessel had been trapped for thousands of years."
"You traveled through time from the ancient past?"
"Yes. It would appear so."
"Indeed, but true."
"So you are a Dark Jedi, am I right?"
"Technically, but I was born Sith. Traditionally and religiously."
Vorune felt distraught, even angry, and betrayed. "Son of a--"
"My boy," he called, interrupting. "Please do not be ashamed. This is your heritage, but do not let it discourage you. You are still my son, and with that in mind, you can still make a difference in the galaxy."
"But I don't want to be Sith. I want to be a Jedi."
"As did I when I began to learn the truth. Jedi are not the enemy, but the Dark Jedi are. They are the ones that arrived to conquer, subjecting the Sith natives to slavery, and oppressing them with utter tyranny. They are the Sith lords, the enemy of all. They are what I chose to fight against, and therefore I turned away from the darkside, seeking after the light for the first time in my life."
"What happened to this ship?"
"I'm sure you can check the ship records and see for yourself," he responded. "However, I will tell you this. We were attacked."
"The Republic and their Jedi allies."
"So then they are currently the enemy," Vorune figured.
"No. They were only doing what they believed to be the right thing to do. The attack was partially my fault, so don't blame them."
"Because I secretly contacted the Jedi Order and asked them personally to stop us and this ship. There was a threat here on this vessel, one I am certain the modern-day galaxy is not ready to face."
"What was this threat?"
"The man that killed me. His name was Mathius Lurke, formerly my best friend and my brother by blood. He was partly the reason I came to Dauthrin and met your mother. Then I fell in love with her."
"Why did you leave us?"
"I was an agent of the Sith Order and husband to Krautha. I had to maintain those responsibilities. I was also a member and double-agent of the Jedi Order by this time, and I wanted to provided a means to protect you during your infancy. As a Jedi, my training was long and intense, and I could not return until I was ready, but by then things turned bitter and I did not wish to involve you and your mother. Mathius had plans for you after learning about your birth, but I could not allow him to go through with it. At this time, I had truly turned over to the lightside, though the Sith were convinced that I was still secretly an agent for them. I told the Jedi about you, and when they learned of your existence, they agreed to take you as a baby and begin your training to become Jedi. They believed that you would become someone destined to stop the Sith."
"The ones onboard this ship."
"The Jedi came for me," said Vorune. "But my mother denied them."
"Oh," he said, realizing this. "Then she was still pained by the visit Mathius and I made to that planet years ago. Mathius was cruel and respected nothing and no one. It was partly why I him and I did not quite see things eye-to-eye."
Vorune got quiet, thinking about all of this. When contemplation of his father's story was understood well enough to accept, he spoke and said, "So I was meant to become Jedi."
"That never happened. Keyliah and Master Kenn have been training me."
Jorn laughed. "So that's the name she is using now. That devious woman. She's no Jedi master. She is Sith. A real one. Someone that grew powerful after all the oppression she endured from the Sith lords. Her anger is immense and her passion for revenge is even greater. She hates Jedi and wants to obliterate them all. This is how she wishes to avenge her people."
"But it's not the Jedi that are at fault," Vorune reasoned. "The Dark Jedi are the ones to blame for these atrocities."
"Agreed," the ghost nodded. "However, the reason those Dark Jedi discovered the Sith homeworld was due to the Jedi Order banishing them into deep space. Had that not happened, had the Jedi done what was right by eliminating the Dark Jedi, then none of this would have happened in the first place. In essence, the Jedi Order is the true creator of the Sith Order."
Vorune felt scared now, even more than before. "Please father. Help me. What do I do now?"
"I don't know. That is entirely up to you. Let the Force be your guide."
Vorune still felt lost. "I don't know how."
"In time you will. You can start by using the Saber Forge," he suggested. "Start there and make for yourself a lightsaber unique only to you. My holocrons shall guide you, should you find them and utilize them. Everything here in my domain is now yours."
"Thank you, father. I shall do that tonight."
"Very well, my son. You take good care of yourself. I must go now."
"Wait! Don't go!"
The ghost faded away and the light surrounding him dissipated into darkness.
Tears formed, falling from Vorune's sad eyes.