Rain of Darkness

It was raining when Brant set down just outside of Dewlight. It was always raining on Auratera now, the clouds thick and black as if they were made up of something other than water vapor. Brant turned up his collar, wishing he had thought to bring a hat. His presence in Dewlight was supposed to be a secret, so he didn’t dare wear a Sith’s robe and hood, though he gloomily reflected that, too, would have been suitable for the constant downpour.

Gamely pushing past his distaste for the wet, Brant spent most of the first day scoping out the small city. He visited the governmental buildings, asked to see a record or two under the plea of historical interest, even signed on for a tour of the President’s Palace — anything, in reality, to get closer to his mark, though the actual assassination would have to come later.

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Lathril (Character Sheet)

Birth Name: Lathril Sunwalker
Acquired Names: Ja’eel
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Age: 27
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 175 lb.
Physical Features: Pale-skinned, blonde haired. The left side of his face bears a deep scar, with a blank metal plate covering his left eye socket. Scaffolding and an integrity meter for the plate are wired to the other side of his forehead.
Personality Traits: Generally calm and amiable, though standoffish.
Place of Birth: Dantooine

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To Find a Master

Brant spat blood on the plating of the Nar Shaddaa streets, glaring at the retreating back of his master. He should have expected that punch. He really should have. Did he think just because he had somehow snagged the attention of a Dark Councilor, he would not be above more beatings? Brant cursed in Mando’a. Of course that would have been too easy…

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Beasts and Birds

So, obviously the crows and sparrows here aren’t like Earth’s crows and sparrows because this is Star Wars; I just didn’t want to go hunting down an appropriate name for them. I picture these ones something like an archaeoptryx.

Author’s Note

Brant watched the birds scrabble in the courtyard. It was midday, and the Academy preparers had just finished putting together the slop normally fed to the Acolytes. Typically the scraps and cuttings went into the incinerator, transported there by an astromech droid, but the droid was getting old, and it would leak and drop pieces of food across the courtyard as it rattled along, and the birds would come to fight over them.

Today, along with the usual sparrows, had come some great crows and a vulture. All the sparrows scattered when the crows came down to snatch up their meals, and the crows scattered before the vulture. Yet there were a few among the sparrows who didn’t take off when the bigger birds came, but instead chose to hop about just out of their reach. When the crows weren’t looking, they’d dart in to snatch at the food, cleverly backing out again once they tasted of it.

Yet there was one in particular who seemed to make it his mission to antagonize the crows before flying off. Whenever a crow settled, its lizard-like tail draped calmly over the balcony rail as it ate, the sparrow would dart to it and, nip, sink its tiny teeth into the crow’s gray, feather-bared tail.

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Kyolath (Character Sheet)

Name: Kyolath
Race: Cyborg
Sex: Male
Age: Unknown, but looks to be in his late 40’s.
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 210 lb., but looks like he should be 175 lb.
Physical Features: Pale-skinned, platinum blonde, heavily scarred; an unknown amount of his body has been replaced with prosthetics, increasing his weight.
Personality Traits: Even keeled, confident, reserved, loyal.
Place of Birth: “Some little planet past the Outer Rim. You’ve never heard of it. Trust me.”

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Brant Auretal (Character Sheet)

Birth Name: Brant
Acquired Names: Auretal
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Age: 19
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 145 lb.
Physical Features: Brown-skinned, black-haired, a small scar on his left cheek, eyes yellowed by Dark Side corruption.
Personality Traits: Introverted, strong-willed, suspicious and guarded.
Place of Birth: aboard his father’s Mantis-class ship

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Last Night

This one takes a darker turn after the events in “The Mettle of a Mandalorian”. It might be a tough read, but it seemed important to me, both to show the developing bond between these two, as well as the nature of trauma. It carries references to “The Crucible of Korriban” and “The Mirages of Tatooine”.

Author’s Note

Kellaro’s face was gray, but his leg was grayer. Brant banged into his ward in the infirmary, expecting mayhem or murder after his brother’s frightened holocall in the middle of the night, but it was just Kellaro lying there, propped up in his pillows, and rubbing, rubbing, rubbing at his leg like it was one of the djinn lanterns from the stories.

Brant groaned, rubbed his eyes as he relaxed back against the door. “Whatever’s going on, it’s way too early for this,” he muttered. He squinted at Kellaro between his fingers. “So what’s the matter, exactly? Bad dream? Too much spice?”

“My leg,” said Kellaro tensely. Continue reading “Last Night”

The Mettle of the Mandalorian

Some of this echoes “Battle Over Odessen” for how Keel’ath handles the news his sons have gone MIA. It takes place sometime after “The Middleman”, but Vette is chilly towards Brant once again, due to a fight that took place offscreen that I have yet to write.

I made the decision to use the crew’s last names here, a difficult choice in any kind of fiction where both names are given. Kellaro is the one exception because he doesn’t have a last name, as Mako doesn’t have one, and Keel’ath left his behind long before the twins were born.

Author’s Note

“Wait, where’s Kellaro?”

Jorgan just eyed Brant and said nothing as he carried Dorne past, one arm of hers slung around his broad Cathar shoulders. Brant stood by — was forced to, as M1-4X rumbled past, also carrying a trooper in its arms. Once the droid was out of the way, Brant tailed the Cathar, snapping:

“Answer me, cat! Where is the major?”

“He fell,” the Cathar finally said, but only after he had gently laid Dorne onto one of the beds in the medical bay. Continue reading “The Mettle of the Mandalorian”

Sketches of Lightsabers

Two shorts regarding the mismatched lightsabers of Brant and Lathril. The first short takes place shortly after “The Mirages of Tatooine”, while the latter occurs sometime after “A Jedi’s Failing”.

Author’s Note

The lightsaber sang as he cut through the air with it. It had been the property of a Jedi’s, and like most such lightsabers, he picked it up expecting it to scream in agony, until it either cracked or submitted to his will, like his red lightsaber had done those years ago on Dromund Kaas. He was putting the weapon through its paces now, testing its fortitude now that it had been through one battle in his hands already. Merce wasn’t sure what to think of the results so far; the blade remained stubbornly blue.

Some lightsabers like this remained defiant for years, Merce knew, their cries of a harsh pitch, ping-ponging around in his head like a childhood ditty he couldn’t forget. Like all things conquered by the Sith, though, eventually they would crack and bleed, red staining the blade and attuning the kyber crystal inside them forever to the Dark Side.

This lightsaber, though, truly sang with joy in his hands. It loved to move, cutting arcs and dodging in and out of his legs and arms like a dancer, moving with a grace all its own that he didn’t have to force. When Merce ignited both ends, he could almost make an entire world for himself, spinning the double-bladed weapon in figures about his head or to either side in a classic defensive stance; it created a curtain of song, that he could use to cut out the harshness of the world around him.

Though he had been expecting a battle of wills, it had become almost meditative as he spun through his exercises. He could sense their energies merging, like any properly broken-in lightsaber should do with its wielder, but unlike his old lightsaber, this was not a subjugating of the kyber, but almost a freeing. It was like the music he had once heard on Vette’s little hijacked holocom: full of Sith-like passion, but also something greater and grander, like the dance of planets around a star or the stars around the center of the galaxy. He had no name for it, but he recognized it even so, like an old grandmother he had only met once as a child, and he could sense the lightsaber waving back at him, coy and smug in his recollection.

He could not hide his pleasure from Vette as he finally shut off the lightsaber and joined her by the fire, but at least she seemed to know better than to ask questions about it. Their relationship had improved markedly since their crossing of the Dune Sea and his recovery from the terrible Tusken poison. Merce didn’t want to think about why, because in thinking about why, he also remembered how, and that spiked him with fear and shame that he had been so disarmed up front of her.

No, he preferred the dance of the lightsaber, because even while it pulled him into dangerous mental territory, where no Sith was ever meant to go, it was also unquestionably deadly.

The Mirages of Tatooine

Master Yonlach is an NPC in SWTOR, part of the Sith Warrior storyline. Like many elements of SWTOR, I’ve re-interpreted his role in Darth Merce’s story, and there’s nothing in this post that contains spoilers for the canon plotline, unless you count the small reveal regarding Jaesa.

I picked this title to echo “The Crucible of Korriban” and “The Darkness of Dromund Kaas”, for while this is not Sith training, it does reflect Brant’s continuing journey in his usage of the Force. The beginning is a bit slow and exposition-y as it’s been sitting that way in my notes for months; it picks up a little more towards the middle, I promise.

Author’s Note

The Tusken Raider rose up out of the sand directly at their feet, too quickly for Merce to shout a warning. Only his Force-sense prevented the creature from breaking his knees, as his red lightsaber shot out in reaction and cut its staff in two before it could complete the swing. Even so, the claws on the staff’s tip slashed across Merce’s chest, drawing blood and almost pulling him over when they caught on the fabric of his robe. Continue reading “The Mirages of Tatooine”