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Old 12-31-2005, 11:16 PM   #10
JasraLantill
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Scotland, UK
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Chapter 4

Once again, the Jantessan Keeper, Ithra, and the *former * Sith envoy, Berland, were ushered into the Jedi Council Chambers. Sporting a slight smirk, Berland looked relaxed and confident as he approached, but when he caught sight of Rade Chano and his crew standing quietly off to the side, the corners of his mouth dropped and his face went ashen. He maintained his composure, but his posture indicated his awareness levels had dramatically risen.

“Hey, she’s not much older than me!” Mission whispered to Carth about Ithra.

“Shh!” Carth put a finger to his lips as a sign to be quiet.

Master Vandar spoke. “After much deliberation, the Council has decided to accept your petition for assistance. The Jedi will train Keeper Ithra on the ways of the Republic, and in turn we will arrange for the Republic to send some of their engineers to Jantessa to study your planetary shields.

“We will also attempt to locate your missing relic.” He motioned for Rade and Carth to step forward. “Jedi Knight Rade Chano will lead this mission along with Carth Onassi, a highly experienced Republic officer. Both of them have prior experience in navigating the Outer Rim.”

Berland cocked an eyebrow. “Indeed,” he murmured under his breath.

“Keeper Ithra,” Master Vandar continued, “your envoy has said that you would provide us with the necessary details on this missing relic. The more information we have, the quicker we may be able to establish its location and return it to Jantessa.”

Ithra nodded. “Yes, of course. The relic we seek is ….”

“Wait!” Berland raised his hand abruptly in front of her face, silencing her. He looked critically at Rade, and then turned his steely gaze on Vrook, then Zhar, then Vandar.

“Is something wrong?” Master Vandar asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

Berland let out a small snort. “If I didn’t already know that the Jedi lack a sense of humour, I would ask if this is some sort of joke,” he replied snidely.

Ithra frowned curiously. “Berland, what are you talking about?”

Keeping his eyes fixed on Rade, Berland leaned in and whispered something into her ear. Ithra’s eyes grew wide and a look of horror graced her delicate features. “What?” She, too, then stared at Rade for a moment, then turned back to Berland and asked, “Are you sure?”

“Oh, yes. Absolutely.”

“But why? Why would they do this?”

“I can only think of ‘one’ reason,” Berland answered, giving her a knowing look. “But as I have already expressed my opinions to you on that matter, I can only suggest that you ask the Jedi Council yourself.”

Ithra nervously bit her lower lip. “Master Vandar, this… this… man,” she stuttered as she glanced nervously at Rade. “The one you have chosen to lead this mission…. My envoy informs me that he is not ‘Rade Chano’ as you claim, but that he is, in fact… Darth Revan.”

Rade and the Council looked surprised at her revelation.

“Is this true?” Ithra asked.

Master Vandar sighed. “It is difficult to explain to an outsider,” he began. “But, yes, it is true that Rade was once Darth Revan. But through the Force, Revan’s damaged mind was healed by the Council, and Rade Chano now stands in his place.”

“So…he’s some sort of…clone?”

“No. But his memories have been altered, his corruption from the Dark Side healed by the Council—using a Force technique that is as ancient as the Jedi Order itself.”

“Healed?” Ithra’s brow furrowed with uncertainty. “How?”

“Like a memory wipe,” Rade volunteered. “I have no memories of being Revan or the Dark Lord. So now I am Rade Chano, Jedi Knight, a servant of the Light and protector of the Republic.”

Berland’s dark eyes focused on Rade. “So, the rumours were true. You have returned. You once again serve the Republic. And it was you, not the Republic, who defeated Darth Malak.” He shook his head slowly. “Even standing before you, my Lord Revan, I can scarcely believe it.”

“What I find hard to believe is how you recognised me,” Rade said, regarding Berland with suspicion. “Revan was known to always wear a face shield and cloak.”

Berland grinned wryly. “And he was also known to have a personal assistant whenever he sent his droid away on a mission. HK…47, wasn’t it?”

Rade frowned. “You were my personal assistant?”

“Only while we orbited Jantessa. I must admit I am grateful to you, my Lord Revan, for assigning me there when you departed. Your previous assistants ended up dead through a series of freak accidents and mishaps, all of which curiously coincided with the return of your droid. I was most fortunate that the droid had not yet returned when you decided to reassign me.”

“Enough of this reminiscing,” Ithra said irritably. “Master Vandar, this still does not explain why this Council would deliberately insult us by assigning this…this…*person* to head this mission. Nor does it explain your deception on the part of his identity.”

“We meant no insult,” said Master Vandar. “The Council believes it is fitting for Rade to be the one to recover your relic, as part of the process of his redemption.”

“Redemption? How is that even possible if he claims he has no memories of being…” Ithra wheeled to face Rade and her violet eyes turned suddenly and completely black. Rade grimaced in pain and clutched his temples at her unannounced invasion of his mind…

“Ithra!” Berland scolded her.

…and almost as soon as it had begun, it stopped. As her eyes returned to normal, her frown morphed into a scowl. “You lie,” she said to him accusingly. “Master Vandar, I find this man you call Rade Chano totally unacceptable!”

“Unacceptable?” Rade said incredulously, as he rubbed his forehead. “You invade my mind and you have the nerve to call me…”

“Be silent, defiler!” Ithra snapped in a raised tone. “And do not ever speak to me unless I address you first!” She turned back to Vandar. “We come here in good faith, to ask for your assistance in rectifying a serious situation your Order has caused our world, and you dare to mock us in this manner? Why Prime Prefect Keel even considered this petition in the first…!”

Berland grasped Ithra’s arm and hurriedly whispered something into her ear. “Please,” he added audibly. Ithra nodded and inhaled a deep, relaxing breath.

Berland cleared his throat. “Please forgive her outburst, Masters. Ithra is young and impulsive. Perhaps you can now understand why the Jantessan’s believe it important for her to receive the benefits of your wisdom and guidance before she becomes a Senator. The consequences of invading the minds of others in that type of environment could be… disastrous.” He nudged Ithra, and then nodded towards Rade.

“I’m sorry,” Ithra apologised to Rade, although it was plain that she still seethed with anger. “It was wrong of me to touch your mind without your permission. Please, forgive me. I meant no harm.”

Rade grudgingly nodded his acceptance. “No harm done. I think,” he added.

“Your connection with the Force and your ability to touch the minds of others was unknown to us, Keeper Ithra,” said Master Vrook. “Until now. Tell me, was it your intention to allow your envoy’s alignment with the Dark Side to cloud our perceptions?”

Ithra exchanged looks with Berland. “I admit it was intentional, yes,” said Ithra. “Berland was selected for this task in hopes that his affinity for what you call the Dark Side would serve as a distraction from my own Force affinity. But you must understand,” she pleaded. “We were afraid that if you knew, you would not meet with us, let alone help us. All Keepers are Force Sensitive, though we do not use its power in the same way as your kind does.”

“You accuse us of deception, yet it is you who have deceived us,” Master Vrook growled. “With such deceit, there cannot be an agreement between this Council and Jantessa!”

With great distress in her eyes, Ithra turned to Berland. “I am sorry. They should have chosen someone else, not me.” She hung her head. “I have failed them.”

“Ithra, you are the Prime Keeper,” Berland said, gently laying a hand on her shoulder. “There was no other choice.”

“Keeper Ithra,” said Master Vandar, “perhaps if you would explain more about this relic, and the nature of your use of the Force, we could still come to an arrangement.”

Ithra looked to Berland for guidance. He nodded, and she drew a breath and began. “The relic we seek we call the Aylah’han Gem. It is a violet coloured crystal, about the size of my palm, plain and smooth, but with reflective inner facets that make it beautiful to behold. Before it was stolen it resided in The Haven, our most revered Keeper Temple. It is ancient, but its true origins are unknown. It is our belief that the Gem radiates and reflects the very essence of the Force. We Keepers use our Force affinity to tune it, keeping our world in harmony and balance. With the Gem gone, our world and our people are descend into chaos. If the Corruption is not purged, if balance not regained, Jantessa will end up a lifeless and barren world. The Keepers have foreseen this.” She gave Rade an icy stare. “Revan sought the Aylah’han Gem’s power for himself. He killed many Keepers in his quest to gain its secrets. Now, only a few of us remain. And we want it back.” She faced Master Vandar. “We need it back.”

“This Gem…the Keepers use its power to manipulate the actions of others?” Master Vandar asked.

Ithra considered for a moment before answering. “I suppose,” she said slowly, “that an outlander might consider the Keepers' actions to be manipulation. We, however, prefer to call it ‘collective spiritual maintenance.’”

Vandar nodded knowingly. “Ah. All becomes clear now—its importance to you, and its importance to Revan.”

“Just how do the Keepers use the Force to ‘tune’ this Gem?” Master Vrook asked.

Even though he tried to hide it, it was obvious that Berland, too, was eager to know the answer to that question. But Ithra’s jaw set with stubborn resolve. “I will not tell you. That knowledge is forbidden to anyone other than a Keeper.”

Berland let out a barely audible sigh of disappointment. “Safe to say that without such knowledge, neither a Sith nor a Jedi could wield the Gem. Just in case you were wondering,” he added with a quick acidic smile directed at Vrook.

“Keepers do not ‘wield’ the Aylah’han Gem,” Ithra snapped at Berland. “Just as we do not ‘wield’ the Force. Only infidels, defectors from the true path, use the power of the Force in such a profane manner.”

“So you keep saying,” Berland commented softly.

“If I may ask, in what manner do the Keepers use the Force?” Master Vandar asked Ithra.

“We ride the currents of the Force, concentrating our efforts on seeking out the truths and deceptions within others. Although,” she admitted, “seeking is difficult when the subject is strongly attuned with the Force.” She looked at Rade. “If you had known I was seeking, you probably could have resisted my intrusion.”

“Well, I’ll be sure to be on my guard next time,” said Rade.

“I have told you all that I can,” Ithra said to the Council. “Will you not help us get the Aylah’han Gem back?”

“We will help,” said Master Vandar. “But we insist Rade Chano leads the mission. He and his crew have successfully faced many dangers… resisted many temptations of the Dark Side. And we believe that it is the will of the Force that they find the Gem. What say you?”

Ithra took a moment to consider. But just as she was ready to answer, Berland once again whispered to her. She frowned uncertainly as he spoke, but then nodded in agreement.

“I, too, believe the Force will guide the Gem back to us, Master Vandar,” she said. “But we still have considerable reservations about Rade Chano. However…,” She hesitated for a moment. “If there is no way to persuade you to choose another mission leader, I request that my envoy and I accompany him in the search.”

Mission did a double-take. “What?” she blurted. “She and the Sith want to go with us? Oh, no way!”

“Shh!” Jolee admonished her for interrupting.

“This is most…unexpected,” said Master Vandar.

“So, Sith,” said Master Vrook, “was this your plan all along? To use the Jedi to guide you to the Gem?”

“No,” Berland said matter-of-factly. “But it seems I have no choice now.” He looked at Rade. “My Lord Revan, you were the one who stole the Gem in the first place. How can we be sure that once it’s found you won’t just keep it for yourself?”

“Because I am a Jedi Knight and my duty is to uphold and obey the will of the Council,” Rade said flatly. “And don’t call me Lord Revan. My name is Rade Chano.”

Berland bowed his head. “My apologies. Old habits die hard.”

“Perhaps, Sith, it is you who seek the Gem’s power for yourself,” Master Vrook accused. “Perhaps you harbour ambitions to become the next Dark Lord.”

Berland laughed. “Again, you flatter me, Master Jedi! But my prime concern is securing my position with the Jantessans. Besides, the Gem would be no more use to me than a polished ornament. What Ithra said is true. Only a Keeper can attune themselves to its power. But I will be damned if such an artefact comes into the possession of the Jedi, and if that means going along on this mission to ensure that the Gem is indeed returned to Jantessa and not kept by you, then so be it.” He paused. “Think of me as an impartial third party, if you like. But if Lord Rev…if Rade Chano is going to be involved in its retrieval, then I’m coming along to ensure that he does what he was sent to do.”

“I have no objections to having passengers,” Rade said, gaining some surprised looks. “Provided, of course, they stay out of the way and don’t interfere with any of my crew.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Berland said smoothly.

“Then it is settled,” said Master Vandar. “Someone will notify you when the Ebon Hawk is ready to depart.”

“Thank you, Master Vandar,” Ithra said with genuine gratitude. “We will be ready.”


Veni, Vidi, Velcro. (I came, I saw, I stuck around)
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