[Story] SWTOR – Xarlo’s Meditations

Things have been peaceful around the homestead, that’s a relief. I know some were worried about another attack from the coalition, or even from the geonosians, but nothing has happened. Whether that’s a good sign, or just the calm before the storm, I can’t say for sure. The Major has been conducting her daily patrols, and she says she hasn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. The twi’lek has been fixing up the sandcrawler and I think it’s nearly ready to go — I haven’t been inside, but from what I can see, it looks operable. Of course I don’t know how different it is from a droid. Probably a lot.

I found a little one in the junk pile and I’ve been working on it in my spare time. My mother never really approved of it, she said messing with droids was for junkers and smugglers, not jedi. But I just find it so interesting that you can make something alive out of parts that someone has thrown away. I mean, maybe not alive in the usual sense, but it has thoughts and feelings and awareness. Mine’s not there yet, but hopefully soon. It will be nice to have a little pet around. It’s going to need some kind of casing to protect the inside parts from the sand, that’s the part I haven’t figured out yet.

There was another jedi lecture, from the same Master as before. He recognizes me now and asks how I am, it’s nice. I told him a little about the mission, but not too much. Partly because I’m not supposed to, and partly because I don’t know it myself. But I did tell him about Teosta and Master Serroz, and how we’ve been practicing. The lecture was about the different styles, which I already knew about but it’s always exciting to learn about lightsaber stuff. And it’s good to hear different perspectives, from Master Bron and from others there. There was a girl there who I am pretty sure was a pureblood sith, but she seemed shy and nervous, so maybe she wasn’t? Or maybe she’d given up on that path and decided to follow the light, I’ve heard of that happening, though it would make her hunted by other sith. So maybe that’s why she was nervous. Either way, she seemed nice and I would have liked to talk to her more, but she said she was needed in the village to tend to someone who was sick. She also said her skin was red because she used to live on Tatooine, and it got burned. But I think she was just joking about that.

I was excited to hear more about soresu, that’s the style I am in the process of learning. It’s a protective stance that repels attacks and relies on your enemy weakening, so it requires a great deal of patience and meditation. I don’t know if I’m there yet. Master Bron said it’s important to know more than one style, to adapt to different situations. I agree with him on that, I’m just trying to get the hang of one first. As we talked about last time, a jedi can be a lot of different things — a teacher, a defender, someone who maintains traditions. What we are and what we do can change throughout our lives. I’d like to help protect people from danger, but I think eventually I’d like to have my own students. I’ll just have to see what comes, and adapt to it.

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[Story] SWTOR – Xarlo’s Meditations

I have been thinking a lot about something Master Rusaa used to say. He said that a planet is not just rock and earth, that you can feel its energy and life if you are patient enough. I’d tried often, but never was really able to for certain. I mean, sometimes I thought I had, but once I sensed it here I know those other times weren’t right. I think it’s because there isn’t much to distract me here — it’s just the wide open desert, and me. The sand underneath my feet is warm and shifts when I step on it, like a living thing. It flows and moves, covering the heart of the planet below it. I can’t really explain it to anyone, so I don’t. I still haven’t really talked to anyone else here. There are so many humans! At the academy it seemed like there was a variety of different kinds of people, there were even some other cathar. Now that I’m out in the galaxy though, I feel kind of like a novelty. I mean, Teosta isn’t a human, neither is the Major. And there are some twi’leks, but I kind of feel that most of their own uniqueness has been taken away from them by other people. I don’t know if they feel that themselves though.

I took a shuttle out to the Jedi lecture again. I went by myself, which was kind of weird. There were so many humans! They never want to sit near me. I don’t know if they are afraid or they think I’m going to get fur on them or what. I try not to let it bother me, but it’s hard not to feel left out when I’m the only one who is different. Though I guess if there were other cathar, I’d probably want to stay near them too. We cling to what we know, unless we’re forced to do otherwise. There were a couple of other padawans, but I didn’t get the chance to speak to them. Some of the humans were talking and making jokes during the lesson. I didn’t think that was a good thing. It’s not often I get the chance to listen to a Jedi master so I’m not going to waste it by making jokes! One was taking a call too. Who does that? He didn’t say anything, but I would think he probably didn’t like that.

Master Serroz hasn’t told me about what the council has said yet. I hope I’m not in trouble for not reporting in to them, he said that we should have. I know he’s right, but we were worried that the Empire might still be looking for us, and everything was kind of confusing for a while there. Jedi aren’t supposed to be afraid, but it’s hard not to when you see bad things happen right in front of your eyes. A lot of people died. I’d never seen anyone die before that, only heard about it in lectures from the academy. It didn’t seem peaceful or calm, but maybe they felt it. I have to hope that they did. A little while after Teosta and I arrived, some shuttles full of armored people attacked the homestead. Some were Imperial I think, but others looked different. Master Serroz told us to stay inside and make sure the workers and slaves were safe. I wanted to be up top to help, but I knew that our job was important too. The next day, I could still see the spots of dark sand where some of the Imperials had died. Master Serroz was injured, too. I didn’t expect to see fighting so soon again, and I don’t know if I was ready for it. Next time, I want to be. I’ve been training every day with Teosta. I hope Master Serroz will let me practice with him soon.

[Story] SWTOR – A Letter Home

Mother Xaliha,

I send you this message from the desert planet of Tatooine. I know it has been some time since we spoke, so I wanted to tell you what has happened. As you know, I was staying on Coruscant with some other students, I don’t suppose we can call ourselves padawans since none of us have masters at present. But it was a good and safe place to study and to practice, and I think I will miss seeing them there. The exciting part is that the Republic army major, whose house it is, put me in touch with a Master here that she’s working with. It is always rewarding to see how the Force can enact its will even through those who cannot sense its presence. I am thankful that she thought to do so. Though she insisted that it was a secret, she allowed me to tell one other person — the mirialan that I’d met before at the library, and at the gatherings.  She would also be in need of training, and then at least I’d have someone here that I already know. I mean, I kind of know the major, but not very well. Not enough that we have conversations or anything.

I don’t know exactly the purpose of their being here, but I can tell you there are quite a lot of people. We are staying inside a large structure with a few different buildings, set beneath the sand to cut down on the wind. Of course that means a lot of sand is always blowing in. There are droids working to move it out day and night. It’s very hot here too, I expected that but I didn’t expect it to be quite so hot. Master Serroz says I should not allow such trivial things to distract from my training, and he is right about that. Still, I think he should have to wear a fur coat all over when we practice, just so he can see what it’s like! Master Serroz is the Jedi that the major spoke of. I like him already, and he’s promised to speak to the council about finding a Master for each of us. Wouldn’t that be something! I am certain that this will be the nudge that sets the future into motion. He already has a padawan, further trained than either Teosta or myself. I’ve seen him around the compound, but haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet. Well I did, but I’ve been afraid to. Master Serroz says that Jedi should be fearless, and he is right about that, but it’s sometimes difficult. Teosta and I are going to meditate in the mornings before it gets too hot, and then practice sparring. She’s quite good so I am going to have to work hard to beat her!

The rest of the people seem a little strange. There are some who I believe have sensitivity to the Force, but they rarely talk with Master Serroz or practice. Then there was one man who wanted to poke me with a metal stick! I thought it was some kind of medic thing, but I’m pretty certain that man is not a medic. There’s a twi’lek lady, and she seems nice, but busy. I am just trying to stay out of the way of whatever it is they’re doing here. I sense too that they are upset about something, but no one has told me what it is. I am certain I will learn in time.

I miss Master Rusaa a great deal. Often I can hear his voice in my mind, giving me advice. Other times, something Master Serroz said reminds me of him, which makes sense considering that they are both Jedi Masters. But I know he wouldn’t want me to pass up this chance, and he’d want to see me grow and succeed. I am doing this for him, and for you.

Your son,
Xarlo

PS – Have you heard from my father? I am certain I know the answer, but as Master Rusaa always used to say: “You cannot know the answer to a question that you do not ask.”

[Story] SWTOR – Xarlo’s Meditations

This time, hardly anyone came. That’s not too surprising, Knights and Masters probably have better things to do than listen to lessons. But even a Master can learn new things. Mine used to say that, and so did the one hosting last night, Bron. I tried not to think about what kinds of things they were doing. Probably fighting off the Eternal Empire’s droids or protecting innocent farmers from Sith. I wish I could be doing that. Not that I don’t enjoy the lessons, because I do.

There was a girl there, a mirialan. The good thing is that she is a padawan too! She doesn’t have a Master either, so we have a lot in common. I really hope she comes again, so we could talk more. I’d like to at least have someone to practice my saber strikes with. It’s easier for someone to see where you’re making mistakes than when you’re doing it alone. One other person was there. Can you guess which one? The former Jedi. She didn’t come with any of her friends this time, so it wasn’t quite so bad. Also, I think her presence must have some purpose. I think she’s meant to show me what would happen if I lose track of my training and my progress. So in that way, she’s really valuable and I’m glad she was there.

Since there weren’t many people, Bron decided to postpone the talk about sages, instead he wanted to talk about lightsaber strikes. Now that’s something interesting! I made sure to pay close attention to all the ones he talked about. The mirialan girl volunteered to go up in front of everyone and demonstrate how to do them. I wanted to, but what if I do it wrong?  My Master used to say we learn more from mistakes than from successes. Which might be true, but I don’t want to do them in front of everyone. Bron talked about the different strikes and what they might be used for. Some of them were awful and dangerous, and he said it means that you’ve given in to anger. I can’t imagine just cutting someone’s whole leg off or something. I hope I’m never in a situation where I have to do that.

I also asked about how to defend against Force attacks that aren’t weapons, like groundquakes or lightning. I think Bron liked my question, so that was good. He explained how you can use your saber to divert or absorb energy sometimes, or shielding techniques. It was all really interesting. I hope I’ll get a chance to practice some of them soon — I mean, not cutting people’s legs off or anything like that, but the regular moves. I don’t know if I want to holo that mirialan girl, she’d probably think it was weird.

[Story] Xarlo’s Meditations

I tried to be better prepared this time. I studied my texts and meditated and I got there early. There were more people, some of them I recognized, but some that I didn’t. One was a padawan, and he came with someone else who I assume must be his master. I was very keen to talk to him, because he’s the only other padawan I’ve seen in a long time, but they didn’t sit near me. Actually, no one did. I wash myself, why wouldn’t they want to sit near me? The really smart Knight from last time was the closest. She must have had a lot on her mind tonight, because she was very quiet — much moreso than before. The padawan brought snacks with him. That’s a really good idea, I wish I’d thought of that.

The lesson was about the various branches of the Jedi order, tonight discussing the Guardians. I was very interested in that, because that’s what I had been studying before. I suppose I still am, just in a slower way. But any forward progress is still progress. I especially liked the part when he talked about the lightsaber training and physical training, I’m pretty good at both of those. I wonder if that padawan would want to train with me? He seemed busy talking to his master. We also got a bit sidetracked with a discussion about morality — on the nature of innocence and when it’s okay to use the Force to harm someone else. It was all really interesting, I don’t think I know the answer so I’m glad the instructor didn’t ask me. I listened to everyone’s point of view and tried to consider them. If he did call on me though, I would have said that it’s probably a decision that has to be made very quickly using both our instinct and the Force. But some people don’t consider the outcome of their actions at all, they simply act out of hate or fear without regard for the consequence. I’m not saying we should be like that, of course, but we must be prepared for it. Anyway, it got a bit off-topic but I don’t mind. Next time he’s going to talk about consulars and sentinels. That should be interesting too, I know a little about them but not as much.

There was one really mysterious guy, I mean even for a Jedi. He had a strange way of speaking and he sat perfectly still the whole time. I wonder how long he had to practice that? It seems I always get an itch, or a twitch in my ear, or something. The two Sith came too, and one woman who said she was a former Knight of Zakuul. I wish she would have spoken more, I would have liked to hear what she had to say. I don’t know much about them, but they  surely have different techniques from ours and I think it would be really interesting. I’d also like to hear about what it was like living there. Does she feel safe here, surrounded by her former enemies? What made her leave? But I didn’t talk to anyone. I wanted to, but they all were busy talking to someone else, or they just looked like they didn’t want to be bothered. And I didn’t want to look foolish in front of Knights and Masters.

I can’t sense if my Master is still alive or not, and it frustrates me because I feel like I should be able to. Wouldn’t he have reached out, either through the Force or not? Unless he can’t. I try not to imagine all the things that could have happened. I think it would be better just to know, as painful as it might be at first.

[Story] Story a Week

[[ Trying to figure out what my non-Outlander SWTOR characters are doing. Here’s what Zamarra is up to! ]]

“Master Zamarra, are we lost?” Araalo asked, her eyes wide as she looked around the dark forest. Dense vegetation crowded around on all sides, and thick vines hung from the canopy above, making their passage difficult.

“Shhh!” hissed Malo, from behind her. “We’re supposed to be quiet.”

The twi’lek Jedi closed her navigation device — it wasn’t doing them any good anyway. Worse, its signal could be detected by anyone close enough. Zamarra could only risk using it for short periods of time, and even that was more reckless than she wished to be. “It’s all right,” Zamarra reassured the frightened youngsters, huddled together behind her. “We’re not lost, we’re — on an adventure.”

She’d managed to find five of them, dusty and bleeding and terrified as they fled the ruins of their school, destroyed in moments by the Eternal Fleet. It hadn’t been the target — the Fleet had no specific targets, it simply destroyed everything in its path. But force-sensitive children were in danger from many sides, and though she had no children of her own, Zamarra immediately took them under her wing. She had been an instructor, for a few years now, and it helped that they recognized and trusted her. It was very unlikely she could have convinced them to follow her otherwise, even if the world around them was crumbling apart. Her own ship had fuel and supplies to get them out of immediate danger, but after that? Zamarra wasn’t sure. Anywhere populated was dangerous, and her ship would easily be tracked by official channels. They needed somewhere remote, but those places were usually empty for a reason. Zamarra wasn’t much of a pilot, but her ship’s navigation was sufficiently automated that she was able to pick a point and go toward it. From the small port planet, they bought passage to this one — with only the few supplies they’d brought along. They would need to make their own shelter and find food on their own, something Zamarra wasn’t skilled in, but the planet readings suggested that it would be habitable, at least.

The dense jungles provided shelter from the rain — which was nearly constant, but at least it was warm. It also provided cover from any possible overhead probes, and the warmth might obscure heat detection. There were a great many small creatures that glided, slithered, and scurried through the jungle as well. Zamarra was certain they could catch enough of these to survive until they could clear some ground for planting. Where there were prey, there were certainly predators, and though they had heard some strange noises from the jungle, Zamarra had not seen any yet. Fortunately, she had her saber to protect them if needed. The five students were among the youngest at the school, barely just beginning their training. They wouldn’t be able to survive on their own, and Zamarra worried about being able to keep them safe. Though they were frightened, tired, and wet, they hardly complained. They looked to her for guidance, and Zamarra knew she couldn’t let them down.

Hutaxo, the little zabrak boy, perked up. “I like adventure holovids. I saw one like this one time, they were in a big jungle and they had to eat bugs for food.”

“Yech,” said Thisiri, her nose crinkling up.

Giving them a task to do was helpful in keeping them distracted from the danger at hand. “Can you remember anything else from the holovid?” Zamarra asked. “Like how to make a shelter?” Hutaxo nodded eagerly. “Stay where I can see you, and shout if you need help. Take Malo with you.” The two boys ran off to collect sticks and vines for their shelter. If they were away longer than a few minutes, she would go looking for them. Zamarra still feared the unknown dangers of the jungle, especially the predators. There could also be inhabitants here that she hadn’t yet noticed — though there were no ruins or towns that they’d come across, it was doubtful that the entire planet was empty.

“Let’s clear some of this ground so we can make a fire,” Zamarra said. The trees had formed a small natural clearing here, and the ground was relatively flat but tanged with vines and vegetation. It seemed a good enough place as any for a temporary camp, until she could scout the area more fully. The girls set to work, tugging the vines and roots free of the soil, piling the debris off to one side. It was difficult to tell, but Zamarra thought they seemed excited by the task. From their perspective, maybe it really was an exciting adventure. After all, they’d probably never camped in a jungle before. She couldn’t let her own fears overtake her mind, cloud her judgment or her resolve. Tonight she would take time to meditate and center herself, it had been far too long and she could feel the turmoil in her heart.

Part of that was worry about the others she knew. Was Malavar, her brother, safe? The Fleet had not spared the Empire its attacks, either. The last time they’d spoken over holo, he’d been researching some ancient artifacts on Voss. That was one of the places that the Eternal Empire had attacked — there were few planets that weren’t in its crosshairs. Zamarra believed that she would have sensed if something happened to him, but it was impossible to know for certain. They had a bond, but it was not as strong as it could have been. They’d spent so many years apart, only reuniting recently, and then they could communicate only with great caution. Though he had no loyalty to the Empire, the Republic still would consider it treasonous for Zamarra to contact him. They’d been using a hijacked signal, provided by Kif. She didn’t want to admit it, but she worried about him too. The routes between the planets were no more safe, with the Eternal Fleet patrolling there. She considered trying to locate him, but no doubt he had gone to ground as well — and he was much more skilled at it than she was. For now, the young Jedi were her focus.

[Art] May the Fourth Be With You

Kazta has no use for the Force, so I drew the Grumpy Cats instead!

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