Light vs. Dark
Where the Force leads
Of Weapons and Adventure and Sailing the Endless Starry Skies
“Let’s see how she handles herself”, Kaisan Varru murmered to himself as he broke through the clouds into the increasingly thin atmosphere. He instinctively switched off the repulsors and eased up the ion drive at about 15km. Not a jolt or hiccup could be felt, and he was trying to sense just such a thing. “Perfect” he said, again seemingly to himself. They had indeed produced a fine vehicle for him.
“Actually, sir, I detected the slightest flutter to starboard as you cut off repulsor power. It bears looking into”, a male voice came over the intercom speaker.
Kaisan chuckled aloud.
“Forty, even at that altitude, you can’t rule out atmospheric disturbance – especially when mounted to a hyperdrive sled like the Aegis Hammer is. I was trying to feel if the ship itself was having any issues – not whether she’s immune to the physics of a cirrocumulus cloud smacking against the stabilizers at 900kilometers per hour”, replied Kaisan in a fond voice. He was glad he’d found time to get 4D the vocabulator he’d requested. Certainly it would make the trip to the Tion cluster a bit more enjoyable. He wasn’t sure he liked the default voice setting, but Forty seemed to.
“Well, I suppose, sir. Shall I begin calculating the jump to hyperspace? I enjoy it when hyperspacial data is current”, the voice came back.
“Sure, Forty – let me give you a hand”. After a minute or two of work, it became apparent that this was going to be one relatively fast jump through hyperspace. All the gravity wells seemed aligned almost perfectly to be able to make the trip in a single day.
When all the calculations were set, and the distance from Corellia was far enough, Kaisan did a brief, thoroughly unnecessary count down and engaged the hyperdrive. The Aegis Hammer slipped into hyperspace smoothly, and they were off!
The Journey itself was predictably dull, but Kaisan had much to consider as he traveled. The past two months had been spent on special “assignment” with Jedi Master Garrick Sovliss. In theory, he had been the old man’s personal pilot during that time. In reality, he had spent the time learning as much as the Master could teach him about the ways of the force and the Jedi tradition. The time had been well spent, and he now believed that he knew at least enough to know that there was so much more to know.
Yet here he was, at the behest of his master, heading out to a seemingly random star system in the distant Tion Cluster. His task was to find a particular type of focusing crystal, which would allow him to make a lightsaber for himself. The lightsaber was the symbol of the Jedi and Kaisan had spent large portions of the past two months coming to understand that symbol as fully as he could. The lightsaber that he had been loaned by his master had been well constructed and functioned well, but it always had the feel of belonging to someone else. The connection that Master Sovliss had always spoken was elusive.
As he had started purchasing supplies for his own blade, however, he began to feel the connection with this collection of parts growing. He would pick one part over another, simply because it ‘felt’ right. Mechanically speaking, some of the components weren’t ideal choices on their own. Nevertheless, his connection with the force told him that he was making the right choices.
That connection was what Master Sovliss had urged was so vital. The same connection had been… whispering to him, for lack of a better term, while he was scanned through starmaps just the day before – searching for a secluded place to go to build his lightsaber. Had he not been itching to try out his shiny new ship, he might have simply considered a place in the wilds of Corellia itself. As it was, it seemed almost symbolic itself that the ship’s completion, the end of his temporary assignment and his task to build a lightsaber all were happening at once.
He knew instinctively that he saw piloting ships differently than his comrades in the fleet, or indeed than did any of the members of his recent mission team. To him, to fly was sublime – the force was what guided his hand each and every time he took a ship into battle. Oh, he was aware of what he was doing. It wasn’t a question of the Force taking over. He simply felt the strongest connection with the force at such times. He told it what needed to happen, and it directed him to do what was needed. That was the best way he could describe it, at any rate.
He also considered the short vacation he had taken with Angela Krin. The time in the Corporate Sector had done him some good. Looking back, the untapped beauty of some of the worlds in that region of space made the golden beached of Corellia pale by comparison. It helped that he was with someone like Angela – someone who had her own career and knew enough not to ask about what he couldn’t tell her. The memories of that dark hour on Cathar threatened to spring to vivid live every time his thoughts grew near it.
Still, the trip had just the right mixture of adventure, relaxation and romance that he couldn’t help but think it among the best he had ever taken. Especially considering the dark days that had preceded it. The time he had spent in meditation, late at night watching the moons move slowly across the heavens, or early in the morning, watching the sun appear, seeming from the depths of the deep green oceans – all of these had helped him to realize that a change had happened to him. And it was that change that had brought him to this place.
The daylong journey was coming to a close, and Kaisan reviewed the scant data he had on the star system he would be arriving at within a few minutes’ time. Not much known about it. There was the Navigational buoy, designated IDX-1138. Uninhabited system. Strong mining potential. He silently wished that there was more to go on, but then decided that the less known about the system, the more likely it was to have no one around.
Finally, the hyperdrive computer counted down and he dropped the ship back into realspace, well into his target star system. He immediately set the ship’s sensors to work scanning what he could of the system.
“No habitable starsystems, from the looks of it." Still, there was at least one correlian-sized world with a thin unbreathable atmosphere. He reached out with the force and felt that indeed this planet was where he needed to go. He flew the ship close to the planet and kicked in the repulsors when gravity began to be a factor. Forty had been relatively chatty all through the trip here, but became less so when it appeared that they were headed towards a lifeless world.
“What’s the matter Forty? You have doubts about where we’re going?” Kaisan asked.
“We-el, sir. Since you mention it, I do. Meaning no… disrespect, but what is it that you hope to find on a world as inhospitable to humanoid life as this one? I’m detecting significant amounts of volcanic activity and, well, we are quite far from any help should anything happen.” Forty’s voice came quietly through the intercom.
“I’m not sure what we’ll find down there, but I just know that I need to go there – and I need to have you with as well. My flight suit is rated for nearly 10 hours in a vacuum. I’m sure nothing will go wrong. I HOPE to find an important component for my lightsaber.” After a moment’s pause he added, “Though you’re right about one thing. If there is no atmosphere to speak of on any of these worlds, I’m not sure what space I’ll have to build the lightsaber. The force led us here for a reason though.”
“Hmm. Well, I suppose you know what you’re doing, Sir.” Forty rejoined, sounding just the tiniest bit doubtful. “The spot you seem to be heading for is some sort of rift in the planet’s crust. I suspect there has been a high level of volcanism sometime in the past century or two at this location.”
Kaisan was suddenly sure of where he was headed. A flat(ish) shelf of rock, large enough to be a landing pad was almost directly ahead, less that a kilometer away. He was detecting a cave entrance of some sort leading away from the platform. A lava tube, most likely. Still no sign of intelligent life, or life of any kind, for that matter. No artificial constructions or signs of inhabitation either. Still, everything shouted out that this is where he had to go.
“We’re going to land at that shelf of rock, Forty. Give me a hand adjusting the landing struts for the uneven surface. Let’s bring her down gently.” With that, the Aegis Hammer settled down for the first time on an alien world. A lifeless world. Silence descended as system after system was shut down. Finally, even the basic sounds of the cockpit were grew tinny and distant as the air was pumped out in preparation for debarking. Doing a final check of his extra-vehicular gear, Kaisan popped the canopy and activated his helmet’s radio. “Come on Forty. Get yourself out of your socket and let’s go see what we can find in this cave.”
The cave itself was, as he suspected, a lava tube. Perhaps 2.5 meters in height, it gave him more than enough room to walk without feeling closed in. Gravity was more or less the same as that on Corellia, but sounds were slightly off, as the atmosphere he was moving through was thoroughly different. Occasionally there was debris, either collapsed from the ceiling of the tunnel or laying about randomly, perhaps ejected from deep within the planet at some point in the distant past. At these times, Forty had to switch to using his stumpy legs rather than the smooth travel of his rollers.
These minor obstacles slowed them down somewhat, and so they traveled for at least an hour through the darkness of this ancient tunnel, lit only by the light of his glowrod. Thankfully, the enhanced optics of his flight suit helmet were more than capable of making up the difference. So much so that he knew he was arriving at a large “chamber” quite a while before he actually got there. The chamber was actually more like a large gash in the volcanic stone of this place, descendin into darkness and leaving the tunnel he was taking broken. He could see where it continued on perhaps 10 meters across the chasm.
“Somehow I think a fall into this chasm would be the end of us, Forty.” Kaisan said, with just a hint of nerves in his voice. “Let’s see how far this thing drops.” With that, he gathered up a largish stone and dropped it down the side of the chasm. The stone hit. And hit. And hit. Each time, the sounds growing softer and further away. Eventually, the sound could not be heard, but whether that was because it had finally landed on something solid, or because it was so far away he could no longer hear it, he could not tell.
10 meters. He knew that his path lay ahead, not down. He really had no way to descend that great a distance anyways. 10 meters across. Did he dare such a jump? His connection with the force had grown in leaps since he first began to associate with the likes of Aidan and the unfortunate Sebastian so many months ago. His time with Master Sovliss only reinforced and amplified that growth. Still, was 10 meters even physically possible? Something that he had learned during his time with the old man was that, though he was untrained, his connection to the Force was strong. With the force as his ally, he could accomplish great things – things that he has never thought possible.
He would do it.
“Stand back, Forty.” He said finally as he started walking back down the tunnel to get some running distance. “When I get to the other side, follow on across.”
“Sir? I don’t think such a jump is wi…”, was all that Forty managed to get out before Kaisan took off towards his leap in a burst of impossible speed.
Before he even knew consciously what he was doing, Kaisan found himself out in mid air, hurtling towards the facing wall of the chasm. Was he going to actually overjump this distance and strike the rock face? He rolled himself into a ball and dropped quickly towards the tunnel itself, shooting through the mouth of his target and coming to rest on his feet a good 7 or 8 meters down the passageway.
Forty stared, disbelievingly, for a droid. Humans were capable of such feats? In his instant of surprise, all that came out was a brief diatribe on the dangers of falling, the physical laws of such a jump – now apparently shattered – and the maddening humanoid ability to constantly take limitations and then dash them to pieces. Of course, this all came out in an instant of binary machine language and Kaisan understood none of it.
“Come on Forty – get over here while I’ve still got oxygen!” he called out after catching his breath. He took a moment and pondered what he had just done. He pondered on what the force had made possible for him, and was suddenly sure that he could do it again, when needed.
With Forty at his side, he continued down the tunnel for at least another 15 minutes, when suddenly the tunnel opened up into a large, roughly circular and domed chamber of natural rock. In the center was a huge boulder. No other exits were evident, so he assumed he must have arrived at where he needed to be. Kaisan circumnavigated the boulder, looking for a sign of crystalline formations, but all he saw were patches of obsidian or some other volcanic rock substance coating the boulder in places.
“Nothing here, eh, Forty? Think we came all this way for nothing?” asked Kaisan absently as he examined the floors, walls and ceiling of the chamber. He was scanning the area with his glowrod when suddenly the thought occurred to him – beneath the boulder!
Standing back from the boulder, he motioned Forty away from it, and then stretched out with the Force. He’d never moved anything heavier than a few kilos before, and it had been some time since he’d even done that. Still, it had been hammered home to him by Master Sovliss that his powers were as yet untapped and not fully measured. Was it arrogance to think that he could move something like this, or simply confidence in the abilities he had been told he possessed?
“Confidence” he said out loud. Raising his hand in a gesture towards the boulder, he willed the boulder to move up and away from its resting point. He felt the slightest resistance, followed by a cracking sound as the boulder broke away from where it had been sealed down with volcanic rock. It rose into the air and came to rest against the far wall of the chamber. Forty was utterly silent this time.
Kaisan felt a connection to the force as never before, and after a moment of reflection knew that this ability was also his to call upon should the need arise again. Had he always possessed this ability, or was it the discipline of the Jedi that he had studied these past two months that had opened it to him? He decided that it would have to be something to discuss with Master Sovliss upon his return to Corellia. For now, he walked to the edge of what appeared to be a tube or fissure that had been concealed beneath the boulder. Down some distance, perhaps 6 meters, were patches of crystalline formations – and from appearances, this was exactly what he’d come all this way to find. Below those – far below – was the orange glow of magma.
“I’ve got my liquid cable dispenser, Forty. I’m going to lower myself down the tube to examine the crystals. I don’t think I’ll be gone too long.” Kaisan said as he was dispensing the appropriate measure of cable. He secured it to some cracks in the stone flooring with the grappling hook from his utility belt, and ran the other end through the utility belt and finally connected it to a carabiner on his flightsuit. Giving the cable a test tug, he lowered himself over the edge of the tunnel and quickly descended amongst the crystals.
A myriad of crystals of all shapes and sized greeted him when he reached the end of his tether. Kaisan opened up the small toolkit built in to his Utility belt while he studied the crystal formations closely. Impossible to decide he thought. The crystals all looked more or less the same. He was pretty sure that the crystals behind him in the tunnel were one time, and the rest were another. Apart from that distnction, they all seemed to be some sort of Adegan crystal.
Kaisan thought for a moment longer, then closed his eyes and opened his senses up to the force. Suddenly, he felt that he could see the crystals, even with his eyes closed. The myriad crystals took on a life of their own, some glowing radiantly and others fading into the background. He turned towards a patch that looked particularly bright and brought his tools the task of separating the brightest even of these.
Opening his eyes, he saw that indeed a perfect specimen of Adegan crystal was now his. He secured the crystal in a belt pouch, replaced the tools and quickly climbed back out of the tunnel. Forty was patiently waiting at the top.
“Sir, I hope you found what it was that you were searching for. It would be nice to get back to the ship, would it not?” Forty said as Kaisan coiled up synth cable and prepared to leave. He sounded almost wistful.
Kaisan replied with a hearty laugh. “Well, I certainly would like to spend more time kilometers deep in a toxic-gas filled tunnel, but I suppose you can be the voice of wisdom here, Forty.”
“Thank you, sir.” Forty responded in a slightly hurt tone. “I think I will choose to believe you meant that.”
The journey back to the surface was uneventful. The leap across the chasm was no less impressive, if perhaps more controlled. About an hour later, Kaisan and Forty were comfortably back aboard the Aegis Hammer, prepping the systems for takeoff. Kaisan had considered beginning work on his lightsaber while still on the planet surface, but a small earthquake ended that idea quickly. With no restrictions on takeoff speed, no control towers to get approval from and no traffic to watch out for, Kaisan lifted off the ground on repulsor power and gunned the ion engines almost immediately. Within moments, he was in orbit.
“Forty, I’m going to get some rest and start work on my lightsaber once I’m awake and get a chance to grab a quick bite.” Kaisan said as he was thumbing off the radio toggles. “Wake me up if something important happens. Otherwise the ship is your until… oh-nine-hundred. ‘night.”
“Good night, Sir. I’ll keep the ship running smoothly while you rest.” R4-4D said brightly.
8 hours later, Kaisan awoke to find that not much had changed. He was over a different portion of the planet below, but he was still happily alone, hanging in the heavens of this world that the force had led him to. He made use the cramped little portable refresher unit that had been engineered into the cockpit and then popped open one of his shipboard rations. Feeling awake and full, he set to work on the lightsaber itself – after reminding Forty once again that short of a life or death situation, he wasn’t to be disturbed for at least 24 hours.
What followed was difficult for Kaisan to remember fully. Meditating on the lightsaber parts and his new crystal, he found that he simply could see how all the parts would fit together. The crystal itself required a few taps here and there with his tools along (to him) obvious stress lines. Once all was prepared, he reached out with the force and picked up all the pieces at once, bringing them together into a whole. Finally, he reached out with his hand and plucked the hilt of the saber out of mid-air. It felt cool to the touch, and he turned it over a few times making sure that all parts were snapped into place properly. With a smile of satisfaction, he put the saber onto the shelf next to him and turned to the ship’s computer. Just over a day had passed in what seemed almost a blink of an eye as he worked on his new weapon. He was suddenly tired and hungry. Still, that could wait until he was in hyperspace en route to Corellia.
Just as he flicked on the intercom channel to speak with Forty, he suddenly sensed something… two force users were near. Seemingly impossible, but true, they were out there somewhere nearby. “Forty, start the calculations for the jump to hyperspace! Now! We’ve got company!” Kaisan shouted. He toggled the ships shields on, and suddenly became aware of his foes. Two cloakshape fighters suddenly appeared, one to each side of him, less than one kilometer distant each.
“How did I miss them!?”, Kaisan swore.
As he gunned the ion drive, they were already jetting towards him, laser cannons blazing away. The first’s blasts went wide, but the next pilot’s attack struck true. The ship’s shields held, and minimized the damage that got through to the Aegis Hammer.
“Forty, stay on the navicomputer! We’ll jump as soon as the calculations are ready!” Kaisan spat out as he reached for the control stick. They’d gotten the jump on him, but he’d try to finish this battle quickly. Calling on the force, he looked for a weak point in the structure of the first cloakshape fighter. He saw it almost at once and fired off one of his six precious concussion missiles. The missile went wide, as the cloakshape rolled and took off in evasive maneuvers. The skill of his opponent was laid bare.
He was moving as quickly as possible towards the edge of the system. “We’ve got to get out of the gravity well of this planet!” he called out to no one in particular. Both fighters stayed with him though, and another volley of blasts struck the Hammer hard. Systems started to go on the blink. “Damn!” Kaisan shouted as he started work rerouting power to get the systems up and running again.
Shunting power to the shields, he kept moving out-system. This cat and mouse continued for what seemed like an eternity with yet another volley striking home before Kaisan had enough of it. He turned the Aegis Hammer about and let loose a volley of destruction on the first vessel, letting the force guide his hand. The vessel was struck solidly and began trailing smoke from a ruptured ion drive. Looping around, Kaisan found himself still facing two opponents, but in a considerably better position to deal with them.
Kaisan could see that Forty still had not completed the hyperspace calculations – and that meant that he was going to have to stay and finish this. Another pass, another missile, and the first cloakshape was reduced to particles in space.
“Gotcha!” Kaisan cheered, then sobered as the other cloakshape let fly with a missile of his own. The missile was a clean miss. Kaisan spent a moment shunting power to the linked heavy blaster cannons that were his main weapon. Sweeping around and calling out again to the force, he unleashed a final salvo of deadly energy from the Aegis Hammer, obliterating the second vessel.
Almost on cue, a single tone was heard throughout the cabin. “Sir, my hyperspace calculations are complete.” Came the calm voice of R4-4D. Starting to breathe again, Kaisan replied, “Let’s get out of this system, Forty. Entering Hyperspace… NOW.”
Arriving back at Corellia, Kaisan knew that his new ship was going to need to serious repairs before it would be ready to get into another such battle. He docked at a shipyard he knew of and set to work with Forty getting as much done as he could. During this time, a communication was received Kaisan’s father. He sent Kaisan an encrypted video recording with the pass-phrase clue being, “There is no death…” With the obvious answer (to one learned in the ways of the Jedi, “There is the force” supplied, the figure of an older man appeared on the screen and began to speak… “Your force skills come highly recommended from Master Sovliss…”
Within the hour, Kaisan was again up in the stars heading to the Empress Teta system to meet a somewhat mysterious employer who had invoked the name of his Jedi Master. “The Force is leading me here, Forty. I don’t know if you can understand what that means exactly. I’ve still got nearly a week before I have to report back for duty. If Master Sovliss wants me to attend to this matter, I can only do my best. Still… I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Kaisan said somberly.