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Old 03-31-2007, 04:53 PM   #1
Emperor Devon
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[Fic] Beneath the Surface

"I hope I'm not interrupting, Saul," said a quiet voice.

"Revan!" Karath sputtered, bolting up from his desk. "Don't shock me like that!"

"My apologies. But I did not wish to be seen," he said, stepping out from behind an open door. "There are many things to discuss, and few with whom I wish to discuss them."

"What do you - " started Karath.

"Not now, Saul. First we must insure we are not overheard," he whispered, while shutting the door to the admiral's office. He reached into the folds of his robes and produced a small black device, half-circular in its shape. He touched several buttons, and then gently pressed the flat side against the wall. A lens flicked open and several red lights flashed softly, before entering a quiet humming as if to say all was well.

"Good, we won't be overheard," said Revan, pulling up a chair for himself in front of Saul's desk. "Now let's move on to important business. Your paperwork can wait," he declared, sweeping it off the desk with a flick of his arm.

Saul raised an eyebrow at the sudden mess he'd have to sort out, but made no comment. "You're being awfully secretive about this," he frowned. Why doesn't Revan trust my men?

"I am afraid I can make no allowances," said Revan, shaking his masked head. "I cannot be too careful about this."

Saul paused a moment. “What is this about?"

"Let me ask you," Revan said, while slowly reaching into his hood as he removed his mask. Saul stifled a gasp; it was traditional for Deralians to keep their faces covered at all times, revealing them only during the most personal of moments. Supposedly, they claimed, one could never know an individual by their appearance. A physical thing like that could only help distort the truth of what a person was really like. It was only by removing such facades entirely that you could truly hope to understand someone. Thus only those who knew someone well enough to discount their physical nature entirely were worthy of seeing it.

Normally Saul would have been honored at such a gesture; but in this case the hairs on the back of his neck could not help but stand up.

He was surprised at Revan's face. It was very lean, with unnaturally pale skin tightly stretched across high cheekbones, giving him a skull-like countenance. A stubbly beard was visible on his chin, while a scar that looked a week or so old jutted down from under his right eye. A grisly trophy of his victory over Mandalore the Ultimate in single combat, no doubt. It was definitely more pleasing to look at than the eyes above it; both were colored a sickly yellow with flecks of crimson at the edges, with whites turned a light grey.

"Saul," Revan asked, "do you trust me?"

The answer was as obvious as two plus two to Karath. "With my life!"

Revan arched an eyebrow and frowned. "Why?"

"I've always thought one of the most important things in a commander is how well he looks after his men. How honorable he is, and how well he inspires loyalty. True loyalty, not something bought with credits. You got us through the wars, Supreme Commander – I can recall a dozen battles where I'd have been dead if it weren't for you. You are an honorable man. I'd give my life for yours without a second thought."

Revan's smile sent chills down Saul's back, making the Deralian philosophy on appearances seem all the more true to him. Revan's face is truly nothing like the rest of him. "Good. Would you be willing to help me with something, then?"

"Anything."

"I am interested in..." Revan paused, drumming his fingers on the table as he searched for the proper word. "Shall we say, reforms."

"Reforms?"

Revan nodded. "Indeed. The Republic is in dire need of them." His gaze as he stared at Karath was solemn. "A very dire need."

"I won't say the Senate is entirely uncorrupt, but the system itself is - "

Revan waved his hand, cutting the admiral off. His tone was cold and harsh, dripping with a disdain he had not even used when speaking of the Mandalorians. "Unsound. Ineffective. Outdated. It's more than just corrupt."

"What do you mean?”

"It doesn't work and has shown it can't,” Revan scowled. “It can't stand on its own two feet. Just look at how the Mandalorian Wars went before I showed up. It was pathetic."

Saul nodded sadly. "We were losing. Very badly. The only question was when the Mandalorians would conquer us, not if."

"Well said, Saul. If I hadn't rallied the Jedi to help you, the almighty Republic would have fallen. Don't deny that. What kind of a nation do you serve when it has proven it is not strong enough to defend itself? How do you know the only reason the Republic has lasted so long is simply due to an absence of enemies than its own strength?"

"The Mandalorians were a fearsome people," Saul protested. "We were unprepared for a war on such a scale."

Revan shook his head. "The Republic knew for twenty years that the Mandalorians were conquering planets in the Outer Rim -”

“But the magnitude of it! We were estimating maybe a few sectors worth of trouble at the most, certainly not one of the largest wars of this millennium!”

“Don't interrupt me, Saul,” Revan hissed. “They knew that the Mandalorians enslaved more than just 'a few' sectors. Enough to make them half the size of the Republic, more like! And twice as armed! It was only a matter of time before they chose to attack us - the Republic was the strongest foe they could test themselves against, after all. And instead the Senators chose to stuff their own faces and let the galaxy burn!" he snarled.

"But the resources, Revan..." Saul sighed. "We were still recovering from the war with Exar Kun. We simply couldn't spend vast sums of credits on a fleet that could stay in the drydocks for decades. That would've cost trillions, and completely broken our economy. You can't mobilize for a galactic-scale war only decades after fighting another one."

Revan scoffed. "Apparently we weren't short enough on credits for Senator Braxis to build a fleet of space yachts out of pure gold. We weren't short enough for Senator Mal'sro to convert twelve fortress worlds in the Outer Rim to his private resort worlds. We had enough credits for Senator Tuznor to build dozens of miles-long palaces. There was enough to go around for Senator Nako to buy himself an army's worth of Twi'lek slave girls. The defense budget would've been more than adequate to build a great fleet for the Navy if the Senators hadn't embezzled it. And don't deny it either, Saul. You were on the committee that tried to throw them out of office on those charges."

"The Senate has honest elements too - "

Revan rolled his eyes. "Not honest or powerful enough to stop the corrupt elements. If there are any honest Senators, that they were unable to do anything is only further testament to the sad state the Republic is in."

"I've not been arguing that the Senate is a shining light of honesty and democracy," Saul sighed. "But what can you do about it? It would be preferable if the Republic was in a different state, it already - "

"Institute reforms," Revan smiled. "Radical ones by today's standards."

"But..." Saul couldn't help but feel wary. "The Senate is quite happy where it is. They wouldn't pass. What will ensure they are instituted?"

"Approximately one third of the Republic's armed forces."

This.. Saul thought to himself, his eyes widening in shock, this is treason of the highest order. The Senate would have our heads. "So you're essentially proposing a coup?"

Revan smiled.

Could we succeed? Saul thought to himself. With Revan as their leader they might have a chance... He'd made short work of the Mandalorians that had nearly destroyed the Republic. They'd failed there, and he had succeeded - perhaps he could succeed again where they were still failing? Revan was no mere general, after all - he was a leader the likes of which Saul had never before seen, with a charisma equaled only by his military genius. Would a galaxy under such a ruler be a bad thing?

Of course not, Saul thought. There might be bloodshed at first, but Revan could do so much good in the long term.

If I accpet I'll be betraying the oath I swore, to defend the Republic with my life. Yet why would I throw it away for this man without a second thought, and scoff if asked to do so for the Republic?

"Remember why you took that oath, Saul," Revan said, as if reading his thoughts.

Saul hesitated. I wanted to make a difference, he thought. I wanted to help create order and peace.

But... he swore an oath because he believed in what the Republic stood for, not the Republic itself. What if something else could better uphold those ideals? What if, worse, the Republic was now a threat to them? And if the Republic no longer upheld the principles that were the very reason he'd sworn to serve it for, why was he still doing it?

How obvious. I never believed in the Republic, he thought. Only what it stood for. Isn't that why we believe in things in the first place? Because of what they stand for?

That's what's beneath the surface of all loyalties. No one is loyal to anything, only the principles they stand for.

Saul stared at Revan. Surfaces could be deceptive, indeed. The Republic looked glorious on the outside, and was riddled with corruption if you ever took a closer look. This man's face looked liked something out of a horror holovid, yet he had done so much despite his surface appearances.

Perhaps I've never taken a close enough look at things... But now's the time.

He took a deep breath. "Count me in."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
We will be great failures one day, you and I

Last edited by Emperor Devon; 07-10-2007 at 03:57 AM. Reason: Because I could
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Old 04-01-2007, 03:22 AM   #2
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A convincing look at how Admiral Karath might have fallen. It's almost flawless, except for a couple of word choice errors. For example, I think it should be ensure and not insure? And what is "instute?"?=p Minor mistakes notwithstanding, I really enjoyed reading this fic



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 04-01-2007, 03:34 AM   #3
Emperor Devon
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It's mental typo. Sometimes I think the wrong word but type it right.

Thanks. I ended up dumping my old entry and writing a new one about an hour before the due date. I wasn't sure if it turned out that well, but hopefully it has.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 04-01-2007, 03:46 AM   #4
Bee Hoon
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Lol, it happens to everyone. Those fingers just get left behind while the brain skips on ahead

I think it turned out pretty good Karath was sort of Carth-ish, but less angsty



The sun goes down and the sky reddens, pain grows sharp.
light dwindles. Then is evening
when jasmine flowers open, the deluded say.
But evening is the great brightening dawn
when crested cocks crow all through the tall city
and evening is the whole day
for those without their lovers

-Kuruntokai 234, translated by A.K. Ramanujan

[Fic] Shreds of a Dying Belief
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Old 04-01-2007, 08:20 AM   #5
Darth InSidious
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More to the point than your last entry

I liked it. It shows the ease with which you can bend your conscience, with a little help...

Just a couple of comments, though. First, a few more contractions in Revan's speech would have been good. You started with an 'I'm', and then moved on to not having any during the preamble, which made Revan seem a little...emotionless, IMO. Also, you have a large paragraph ending with 'he snarled.' If I might make a suggestion, I would recommend putting this at the beginning of the speech. First, it sets the tone more clearly for the following part, and seems less like an afterthought, and also creates a better flow of dialogue, IMO. One other small stylistic point is that you don't have to describe every line, and ascribe a speaker for each one. After a while, people should be able to guess, and this again makes the dialogue flow more.

Just a few suggestions - overall, good, but it could do with a little polishing



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Old 04-02-2007, 04:25 PM   #6
Emperor Devon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth InSidious
{snip} Just a few suggestions - overall, good, but it could do with a little polishing
Maybe for the next contest I should aim to start the fic before they day it's due and actually get time for polishing.

But I didn't think of some of that. Thanks for the feedback.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
We will be great failures one day, you and I
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Old 04-02-2007, 05:59 PM   #7
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I read it and to put it simply, I am impressed ED. For someone who reads econ books like they were candy, you have a good command of this dark theme. I figured that this month's topic would suit you fine.

As to the story itself, I have to agree with Darth InSidious that your Revan, while intimidating, has no meat on his character. There wasn't enough to suggest how he was as a person. The dialogue gave well enough with the treasonous declaration of a coup and his contempt for the Senate. The best I think was when you used the Deralian tradition of the masking oneself unless you are willing to show your true self. Saul's reaction and the fact that appearances can be deceiving or rather in this case, the stories were deceiving, gave indication more as to how people viewed Revan. Still to build up I would have put in certain movements maybe a mocking smile or something of that nature just to give the character some more meat.

The internal dialogue of Saul wondering why he even believed in the Republic was a nice touch. It kind of fills in the blanks when Carth mentions that Saul claimed that the Republic was on the losing side. The resolution at the end when he makes his choice was perfect. After all that, it leads up to the choice and he gives it. That was well done.

Like others have said, you need some polishing on the piece but overall it was a good one. I can see that the economics and the politics are never far from your mind when you write your pieces, especially that bit about the credits and the Senators embezzling Republic funds. Good piece and for that I give you an 8 out of 10. Absoloodle!

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Old 04-05-2007, 06:58 PM   #8
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I liked it alot. Except for the few minor errors other pointed it out, for me it was flawless.

Personally I give it 9.5/10 Great Job.
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Old 04-13-2007, 04:14 PM   #9
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Technically perfect.
Clever viewpoint.
Totally absorbing.

...and you did all of that without polishing, truly commendable.

Enjoyed the heck out of it.


@JM12 How can you be surprised with Emperor Devon's command of dark themes? He's the dark lord of the sith, for cryin' out loud.


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Old 04-14-2007, 07:49 AM   #10
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Wow! And you wrote this with only an hour to spare? Impressive!

I like the whole concept of your story. It's about time someone filled in the gaps as to how Saul Karath turned 'traitor' so easily.

My favourite line in your story is, 'No one is loyal to anything, only the principles they stand for.' So very true!

Great job!


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Old 04-14-2007, 02:14 PM   #11
Jae Onasi
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Good job!
There were a couple things. How did Saul know the scar was a week old at most? What was it that made it look fresh?

Quote:
Revan sent chills down Saul's back as he smiled,
It wasn't Revan that sent chills down Saul's back, it was his smile. Right now the 'he smiled' technically refers back to Saul, not Revan. 'Revan's smile sent shivers down Saul's back' or 'Revan's smile chilled Saul to his very soul' or something like that.

I agree Revan needed to be fleshed out a little more, but I'm not quibbling too much in a short piece like this. One way to do that was to give Revan more facial features or gestures--you have some, and a few more would be even better.

You do a nice job of showing Saul's progression from Republic to Revan's soldier, and it was interesting to see that change. I felt like it was just a tad fast--I think Revan would have had to work just a little harder to convince someone who had been serving the Republic that long. Perhaps including something that Revan had done that Saul really had admired besides just the quick win over the Mandalorians--something that showed Revan was also devoted to both the men under him and the Republic would have done it. I think you could have changed some of Saul's reflections to dialog with Revan, which would have made it even more interesting, and helped with both their characterizations.

You captured Saul very nicely--he acts the way I think he would act and seems in character with what we see in the game. Good job on a short time schedule.


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Old 04-14-2007, 07:12 PM   #12
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone! You're all too kind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
There were a couple things. How did Saul know the scar was a week old at most? What was it that made it look fresh?
He's probably seen enough scars to tell how old they are, I'd guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
You do a nice job of showing Saul's progression from Republic to Revan's soldier, and it was interesting to see that change. I felt like it was just a tad fast--I think Revan would have had to work just a little harder to convince someone who had been serving the Republic that long.
I always thought that Saul was somewhat disgusted at the Republic (the line "I won't deny the Senate is entirely uncorrupt" is a typo) anyway, which made converting him a much simpler process. (And he was already quite loyal to Revan)

Though I agree, it could've been expanded on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasraLantil
Wow! And you wrote this with only an hour to spare? Impressive!
Well, it was at 2 PM rather instead of 2 AM this time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabretooth
We will be great failures one day, you and I
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