His face is a map of the world.

Caer walked along the stench filled walk-ways of  Coruscant and had to hide a grimace as a particularly strong stench of urine and feces greeted her nose, forcing her hand to remain at her side and close to her saber as she passed a particularly dark alley way where said smell came from. The soft sounds of the planets rodents and carrion eaters greeted her ears as she progressed further into the innards of Coruscant, feasting on it, nesting. Some of those things in the dark that skittered were not of an animal nature, quite sentient beings who watched the Jedis passing with calculating, hungry eyes.  She felt them, yes, even through the force ‘saw’ them as only a Miraluka could. Hiding behind walls, some trembling in fear, some licking their lips and wondering what she may taste like, hungers of all kind waiting to be sated.

She wondered just how many things down here hunkered, hungered, hated and loathed her uniform, her confident walk, the saber at her hip, the full belly. She gave a soft sneer as she felt the sudden urge to blame the Council, the Order for all of this. It was because of them she had a full belly, because of them she didn’t have to worry about being a slave to some heartless master, because of them she was able to sleep in the comfort of a ship or a hotel room.

No, that wasn’t fair. The Council, the Order was not to blame for all the wrongs of the galaxy. It wasn’t fair to her or anyone else. The galaxy was as it was. There was no way to save it all. But they’d damn well die trying if the Order had anything to say about it.

However, she had to wonder just how far would they go? How far did they dare go? These were questions that always seemed to be shunted aside when she asked, and even now as she progressed on her secret mission to the farthest pits of Coruscant, she couldn’t help but hear the quiet sobs of a soul lost to hopelessness, couldn’t help but purse her lips as the sound of fists hitting flesh, the low mumbles of threatening voices. The tenseness of her features were only visible in the dim flickering lights of the holo-ads that flashed in muted colors,  for seedy bars where slave girls danced naked, gyrating for credits to be paid to their masters, drug dealers and users alike.

She rounded a corner, leaving the ‘street’ behind and entered what appeared to be a housing project, run down homes stacked atop one another, steam rising from the permacrete streets, pot holes exposing wiring and pipes.  She stopped and stood there, listening, ‘seeing’ through the various buildings.

Aware of everything around her. A Rodian to her left, drooling from his snout, one of his antennae stalks severed, the stump twitching slightly as his drug addled mind bubbled and festered, slowly killing him.  A Nautolan and a Humans auras showing them to be in heated debate, standing over the cowering form of a terrified Twi’lek girl.

Shifting her head from left to right she ‘saw’ the every day lives of these people here in the lower quarters and she felt repulsed, saddened beyond belief, angered at the injustice. This place was a barely beating pulse in the great pearl of the galaxy known as Coruscant.

A flash of darkness only she could see.  Through the force she located the being she sought and her own pulse quickened, her nostrils flaring slightly as her fingers twitched ever so slightly to reach for her saber and rush headlong into the alley way she sensed that darkness from.

The man she sought was one she had known for years. A former master, he had been a firm, gruff and rather acerbic being who’s love for combat rivaled her own.  He was a Human who out distanced her in age by a good ten to fifteen years but still moved like he was twenty one. He had been a good Master when she’d trained under him, he had been a saber master who had been highly respected and loved by many students.

Herself included.

Pulling her saber from the clip on her belt, she proceeded down that dark alley way, her footfalls as silent as the wind seemed to be down here,  the darkness did not bother her, she lived in perpetual darkness. She was aware of everything around her in the force and that pulsating shape of her former Masters Dark aura drew her to him like the proverbial moth to a flame.

He had fallen, seduced by a Sith woman, who had posed as wanting redeemed, brought to the light side. She had spent years tainting him, coercing him to the Dark side,  and he had finally succumbed to her desires, he had killed her before she had managed to escape being caught by the Order, but she had done her damage.  He had fallen and he’d fallen hard, fleeing his station on Corellia and coming to Coruscant to hide out.

“Padawan Estherian, it’s good to see you.” The voice made her tense and she could hear the malice in it, the way it tried to take her name and use it against her.  She had not heard him slip up behind her, but should she have been surprised? Not really, he was a Master many her years.

“It’s Master Estherian now, Master Krael.” She slowly turned, realizing she was in what was essentially a box with no way out; no way out except through her opponent.

His features were twisted, corrupted by the Dark and even without normal sight she ‘saw’ just how corrupted he was, his aura pulsating with the darkness, twisting and twining like tendrils of shadow.  He straightened up, easily towering over her by a good foot. “Indeed, they hand out that title to just about anyone now days, don’t they… but you were one of my better students. So not surprising.”

His words made her want to curl up like a sand viper. She wanted to lash out and it was with sheer willpower that she did not. It was his ploy, his game. Trying to make her react violently.  Instead she steadied herself inwardly and spoke in a clear and steady tone, “Master Krael, by the order of Grand Master Satele Shan and the Jedi Council I have come to arrest you and take you back to Tython to be placed under treatment.”

Admittedly that sounded ridiculously stupid in her ears and even she had to hold back a snort as Krael cracked up laughing, an unpleasant sound that was interrupted by a hacking cough.  “Really, Master Estherian… you honestly believe that tripe that they spoon feed you? STILL?”

Caer sighed inwardly and wanted to truthfully answer no, but even she wasn’t that stupid to do so. Instead she just shook her head sadly and lifted her saber as a way of giving him one last chance. “Please, I’m asking one last time. If not I’ve been given permission to dispatch you, with extreme prejudice.”

Krael summoned his saber to his hand and ignited it, the livid red colored saber casting a sinister reflection on his face. Her own purple saber cast a lesser glow, giving her a more washed out look, her expression drawn and grim; this decision paining her more than she was willing to show- or even capable of showing.

“You can’t possibly win, Estherian. You know as well as I, that i have always been the superior blade master. Very few could defeat me and fewer still who have even tried.” He swung his saber casually, striking one wall and causing sparks to fly in her direction. She felt the sting of the sparks hit her skin, causing her muscles to twitch but she held her ground, taking up her stance and rolling her shoulders until they felt loose and relaxed.

He came in as a flurry of aggressive attacks, she could sense his fear, his hatred and anger getting to him, driving and fueling him. She let him come in, easily deflecting each attack, despite how strong they were- and he was strong. She felt each shock hit up her arm as he struck, and she compensated for his blows with the force.  She countered with blows of her own, each testing one another, each one giving and taking.

It seemed to happen instantly.  One moment their sabers were locked in combat, the snap hissing of his  blade locked against hers, their faces mere inches from one another. Her body sliding down and  and under that saber, her purple blade  sliding through his body and out through his back.

Krael grunted, confused by his sudden inability to hold his own saber as it clattered to the ground, his hand slackening from around her throat.

They slumped to the ground together and she extinguished her saber, catching him in her arms. She rested a hand over the wound and lowered her head.

“It didn’t have to be this way, Master Krael.” She spoke softly, her voice full of pain.

He coughed and pushed her hand away. “You knew it had to be. You knew it because the Order told you to. ”

She gasped as he suddenly gripped her face and jerked her close. He whispered, his rancid breath on her face. “Ever stop to consider… padawan… they’ve been lying to you this whole time?”

She felt his hand slip from her face, tearing the cloth she wore around her eyes from her face, exposing her face fully. Sightless sockets staring down at the now dead body of a former master.  Her heart wanted to break and even as she called for the reinforcement troopers waiting to extract her, she had never so badly wanted to cry. Searching for anything else, she found  a datapad tucked away in the folds of his own clothing.

Picking up his saber and the datapad, she wrapped them in the folds of her cloak and clipped her own saber to her belt.  Later that evening, on the safety of her ship, she was freshly dressed and washed, her report to the Council securely sent away, she held the datapad in her hands.

Switching it on, she tabbed to the audio section, listening to the voice of the man she’d just killed.

“I wish there was some way to convince them. Convince them that nearly everything…everything the Order stands for is wrong.”

(to be continued?)

 

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