Thursday, August 29, 2013

Honest Cid's Outer Rim Transport: Tales of Team Aurek Part 1 - Katya's Story

Katya Vesst was born on Dantooine, a planet on the Outer Rim beneath the notice of most folk traveling amongst the stars. It was a pleasant sort of place, with wide sweeping grasslands and deep blue rivers flowing freely. The land was good for farming so, unsurprisingly, it was home to many farmers. It wasn't perfect, mind you. There were plenty of native beasts that could prove particularly dangerous to simple folk working the land, like packs of wild kath hounds or even kinrath. But Katya had never seen the rolling hills or the large mountains, she didn't even know what the grass looked like. She had been far too young to remember any of it when she was taken away by the Jedi Order.

She grew up in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, as so many others did, never truly knowing of her previous life. Sometimes she wondered about her parents, who they were and what they did, but her instructors would gently remind her of the dangers of attachment and idle fantasy. Still only a small child, her days as an Initiate were filled with training, instruction, and contemplation upon the Force, learning to open herself up to it. Katya was slow to progress in her studies and her meditation techniques, though she never lagged far behind. She simply never quite grasped the purpose of the training.

When she was old enough, she underwent the Initiate Trials to prove that she understood the Jedi Code, the fundamentals of lightsaber combat, and the basics of wielding the Force. She passed. Barely. Katya had learned later that there had been some discussion on whether or not she would be placed into the Jedi Service Corps rather than being taken on as the apprentice of a full Jedi. Eventually, it was decided that Initiate Vesst simply required a more personal touch to her training to allow her to better grow and master the ways of the Jedi.

It was not long after this that she was taken on as a Padawan by the Master Anza, despite the demand for Jedi to protect the Republic from the Separatist forces. Wise beyond her years, Anza still had a youthful mischief in her eyes despite the beginnings of wrinkles and crow's feet. Of course, her apprenticeship was short lived, as the Clone Wars ended and gave way to the Jedi Purge. Katya was still too young to truly grasp what was happening, only able to see the fear and pain on Master Anza's face as she felt the death of the Jedi Order.

Teacher and student made for a desperate escape from Coruscant, attempting to reach the space port before Imperial forces managed to catch up with them. However, this was not to be. As the clone troopers began to advance on their location, Anza shoved what few credits she had left into Katya's hands and told her to purchase a transport to one of the Outer Rim worlds, that she would find her, but she needed to leave now. The Padawan did as she was told, managing to evade the patrols through equal measures of training and luck before gaining passage on a freighter headed for Denab. And that was the last that Katya ever saw of her Master. Arriving on an Outer Rim world creditless, she was forced to sell her possessions, including her lightsaber.

On her own, Katya made do however she could, often finding work on various ships, if only to pay her way from transport to transport. The years passed and life settled into something that was manageable and predictable. The Jedi Code that she had spent years memorizing and meditating upon faded from her mind, replaced by a different code entirely. A code of survival. There was no Light or Dark, just people who wanted to use you or kill you. There was no such thing as self-defense. Here, you shot first and you certainly didn't ask questions. Katya learned her new code well, but discarding the teachings of the Jedi had left a hole in her. A hole that she attempted to fill with drink.

From time to time, she attempted to practice her Jedi arts, to use the Force, but her skill had also atrophied. It seemed to work best when she was angry or upset, but afterwards she would feel a palpable evil, as though her own will were turning dark and tempting. Over time, Katya used her powers less and less and drank more and more. She became bitter, bitter after all the years of fighting, back stabbing, lying, and killing. Bitter that she had been abandoned by the Jedi and by the Force. Bitter that drink was the only way that she could escape herself.

And now, sitting in a quiet cell, Katya thinks upon her life, everything that has brought her to this point, and all that she has to show for it: bruised knuckles and a bloody nose from a drunken cantina brawl. Everything that had made her Jedi was gone, and she had no one to thank for it but herself. However, echoes of it remained, little memories of the proper sitting position, taking deep, slow, breaths and calming her thoughts. And there it was: the Force. It was within her reach, but only just barely. It had always been with her, just as her Master had once told her.

She only needed the courage to open herself up to it again, and she would not find that at the bottom of a bottle.