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30 days ago
Current I promise I'm not dead, guys! Coming back from a ten day trip tomorrow
2 mos ago
Another interview and more hectic events Be back ASAP!
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2 mos ago
Crazy flooding down here! Be back on Monday.
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3 mos ago
Hey guys! School started this week in earnest, so replies will be a bit slower.
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Ah, goodness, sorry for the wait! Post is up now :)
Yerbol felt a jolt of annoyance cross his mind as plans were made to retrieve these artifacts of ancient Sith legend. He was supposed to be one of those strike teams, at least in some capacity; instead, he was sidelined while the fate of potentially the entire universe was going to be decided. It was aggravating, to say the least.

If Aria had managed to read his emotional state or not, he was both mildly embarrassed and relieved to hear her ask about what his fate would be in the plans that had been drawn up. While he didn't necessarily enjoy the idea of Aria having to come to his defense (in his already weakened position), he was grateful that she probably knew that he needed her to speak up at this moment. Neta's suggestion to disrupt communications made sense, albeit Yerbol was skeptical about how much of an impact they could make in an entirely unknown region of the galaxy. It was still better than sitting planetside and pacing the jungle hoping for the Force to somehow magically be infused into his system again. Somehow.

When the party members left, Aria threw her arms around him, Yerbol gently smiling as he planted a kiss on her head, returning the gesture with a slight laugh when she told him that everything was going to be ok.
"I really, really hope so." A warble of doubt crept into his voice as he told her to be careful, the full realization of not being within a thought's distance of Aria sinking in. It was, in a word, horrifying.
"You won't have to really worry about us. I'm fairly certain that she'll do most of the smooth-talking. I'll just whop people on the head with a vibroblade. It'll be great." The false bravado was a terrible facade, one that he knew Aria would see through in a matter of milliseconds.

Her hands traced over his cheeks, Yerbol taking a hand and kissing the interior of it as he nodded, eyes beginning to water slightly as he responded:
"I know. If something that our adventures have taught us, it's that whatever happens, we'll somehow find our way back to each other, galaxy be damned." Right as the last syllable left her mouth, Yerbol gave into the urge he had felt earlier, sweeping her into his arms as he leaned into a deep, longing kiss that held more emotion than he could express in words. When he broke off, he leaned his forehead against hers, whispering:
"I love you too, Ari. Forever. Always."

____

"Hey, ah, Revan, got a sec?" The party had just left the staging area, but Neta had far too many questions left unanswered and needed to get clarification before any more bantha fodder hit the fan. When the legend was within speaking distance, she continued:
"Look, you and I both know that all of us who are 'visiting' from the other side of the galaxy don't have any kind of network established. I mean, yeah, you and the Force users have your powers, abilities and sabers, but a gal like me isn't used to not having...well, anything to work with. With just Yerbol and I out on the frontlines, we would be fine back home, but here? Tell me you've got some resources you can share with us to help you out." Revan smiled slightly.
"I can somewhat empathize. For a short time, I was not aware of my connection to the Force and had to rely on...other methods to get tasks done."
"Such as?"
"Blasters. Grenades. Vibroblades. That kind of thing." A smirk crossed Neta's features as Revan continued:
"In my time here, I've established relationships with a few members of what you could call 'clandestine organizations', underground movements that support criminal and noble enterprises."
"Would you be willing to share who Yerbol and I could get in touch with?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. You'll need to get to Zakuul, get to a public messaging terminal and send out the phrase: 'Walk tall'. You'll get a set of coordinates. Follow them."
"Got something I can use to follow coordinates?"
"And a few other things you should find useful."
"And who said a Jedi can't fight dirty?"
"I never did." Smirks.

___

There were two shuttles prepped in the hour that followed, Neta and Yerbol scouring through the gear that Revan had showed the former before turning up at the landing site where the others were making their final preparations. As the duo approached, Ethan walked to them, a flicker of a smile crossing his features as he asked Yerbol:
"So, I asked Aria what was going on with you, but she looked at me as if to say 'I will end your existence if you continue with that train of thought aloud', so I figured I'd ask you: what's going on with you?" Yerbol chuckled slightly, peering past him to spot Aria and Kytra discussing something.
"Something happened when we fought Vitiate, Ethan. My connection to the Force, it's-"
"Gone, isn't it?"
"That easy to tell, eh?"
"I tried finding you before our meeting with Yuno, but I couldn't sense your presence anywhere. Like you had just...stopped existing."
"Yeah, in a way, I have." He swallowed.
"I don't know what Vitiate did to me, but my connection to the Force is as you say: not in existence." Ethan's eyes widened.
"What does that even mean?"
"I've dealt with something like this previously, but not to this extent. There's an emptiness inside of me that...well, I'll get it fixed up and back to being a Champion that actually help guide you in the Force; for now, listen to Aria. She's the only Force-wielding Champion right now and she's a great teacher...also, do remember that she was a Sith at one point, so she can be a bit tougher than me. And direct. And blunt. But she'll watch over you well." Ethan opened his mouth, but then shook his head, looking to Neta.
"So are you two really going to do this? Take down an Empire's communication network?"
"We've got some leads. What, don't think we can do it?"
"I mean, I hope you can, but..."
"But why don't you put a little faith in what we can do without the Force and go do your job, huh?" Neta gave the apprentice a wink and a gentle shove on the shoulder as she told him:
"Be careful out there. And come back in one piece, ok?" A slight blush as Ethan nodded, turning back towards the shuttles as he departed.
"Oh goodness he has the hots for me." Yerbol let out a roaring guffaw, turning to the pilot with a wide grin left over from the display.
"I mean, I think it's a compliment, considering that I'm pushing forty, but I hope he doesn't think it'll go anywhere." The shuttle's engines flared up as the parties boarded the shuttle, Yerbol meeting Aria's gaze one last time. He smiled, putting a hand over his heart, hoping he knew that was where she would be while they were apart. The shuttle bay doors closed, the ships launching into the orange-crimson sunset laden sky on their trajectories.
"Come on, honey; we've got an underground criminal organization to infiltrate." Yerbol cocked his head to the side.
"Could you maybe explain that to me?"
"On the way. And don't forget a blaster pistol tucked underneath your pant leg; that's standard for this kind of op."

The interview went well, thank you! I'm still waiting to hear back for a potential second interview. We had crazy flooding last week (which was when I interviewed the first time), so that's pushed a lot of stuff back. Hoping to hear something back one way or the other. I just don't like the "not knowing" bit, you know? That's the hardest part for me when I'm highly interested in a job.

OH! That's why they found the blaster parts. That makes sense. Heh xD

Gotcha, so what we can do is probably have this string out along three weeks. The more I think about it, the more that I feel it would take a lot longer for Neta and Yerbol to do their part than our Force users. Maybe the Force users can get their stuff done quickly, then try to prepare for a strategy to take down Vitiate while Yerbol and Neta are doing their thing?

Post incoming on Monday. At a conference today. Have a great weekend!
No worries, my friend! Between my wife getting a new job, me interviewing for another job, me going through school AND preparing for a trip out of town in two weeks, I've been less inclined to post much of anything XD

Aw, yeah, nothing good happens whatsoever when they're apart, does it? It'll be interesting to write their relationship now that they can't feel the other through their bond.

No worries there. I wanted to ask actually about progression from here. In my head, I have:
-Neta and Yerbol go to Zakuul where I plan on having them go through some MAJOR spy shenanigans. I'm talking stealth kills, elaborate parties and false identities spy-stuff. I may or may not be very excited about this xD
-Ethan, Aria and Kytra go to planet X to find the artifact.
-Revan, Yuno and Vano to planet Y to find the artifact (based on your post, there are two on one planet, right? That's fine by me, seeing as it saves us the trouble of having to write three different planets xD)

This MIGHT be our most character-driven series of posts yet, so I wanted to clarify some things first:
-What's the approximate in-thread timeline? If we were in galactic space, Neta would already have contacts, schematics and resources to tackle a job as big as this, but with hardly anything at her disposal, it's going to take some time for her and Yerbol to gather what they need for crippling a vast network. Couple this with travel time to planets X and Y along with the time it takes for each team to retrieve their artifacts, we're looking at...what, two weeks at least?
-I'm assuming that Revan would be able to give Neta at least a bit of a head start on where to go, who to contact, etc. As a former Republic soldier who didn't even know he had the Force for a while (ah the good ol days of KOTOR when you thought you weren't a legendary Jedi master and you had to chuck frag grenades to survive on Taris), I imagine that Revan would know the importance of building up non-Force related resources.
-Once everything is finished, we'll have to work out where the party will convene again. With Zakuul's communications network scrambled, Vitiate is going to be on high alert, which might mean a planetary lockdown and increased patrols in that sector of the galaxy, which would potentially endanger Odessa. What do you think?
Haha, oh dear, they do grow up fast, don't they? From dueling enemies in a Sith ruin to married.

I don't know why Neta has been so chatty this time around, but as you know, sometimes characters just kinda take over and write themselves. It's good though; I've wanted to dedicate some time to explore who Neta is a person rather than get fleeting glimpses of her.

Figured that I should cut it off after Yuno's final declaration, seeing as Revan probably wants to speak XD
Aria left suddenly from the room, claiming she needed air when Yerbol knew his wife was bound to escape into the nearby wilderness. He hoped that she wouldn't get far enough away to where she couldn't make it back. A minute concern, yes, but now without any way to reach out to her, small, trifling worries that he dismissed under normal circumstances loomed large in his Force-stripped mind. He nodded at Revan's assertion that they would indeed "fix" whatever had happened to him, like he was one of the many droids that they had fought on Zakuul. Was that what the Force boiled down to? A component that could be taken out and reinserted as needed? His dealing with Illesia had shown him that one's connection to the Force could be altered, but with enough training, meditation and guidance, one could be restored to the Force. This vacuum of emptiness inside of him was completely different, potentially "unfixable' to use Revan's terminology.
"She'll be fine." He looked between the duo, sitting up stiffer only to wince at a shooting pain that cascaded down his ribs.
"Needs to probably process everything that's happened. Just like I need to." Blowing out a sigh, his shoulders slumped forward, eyes cast on the weight Revan had laid on a nearby end table.
"Of course." Yuno looked to his Master with a knowing glance, telling him:
"Master, I will await your return in the Meeting area. I believe that my research in this matter can finally be acted upon to defeat Vitiate. I shall summon a few others who can aid me in constructing what I believe might be a potential solution for Yerbol as well." With a nod, the Sith swept out of the room, stride hastily foreboding. Revan followed him, leaving the Champion alone with his thoughts. When he had a moment of solace such as the one granted to him now, he would try to slip into a meditative state, attune himself with the Force. Maybe if he tried...

He closed his eyes, taking deep, meaningful breaths. Yerbol could feel himself sinking deeper into the cot, almost as if he could slip through the furniture, into the planet's core, into-

He was brought back into the realm of consciousness by very concerned green eyes who was examining him closely.
"Was I..."
"Asleep? I think so. Muttered a bit when I was sitting here, eyes closed. Were you expecting something else?" Swearing under his breath, he sat up, prompting yet another swear as the familiar rib pain greeted him.
"I was trying to meditate."
"Doesn't meditation normally look like sleep to us 'normal' folk?" He shot her a sideways glance, responding:
"Meditation when connected to the Force is a...surreal experience. One that isn't just resting the eyes for a nap." His tone was sharper than normal, softening slightly as he told her:
"I hate this, Neta."
"I know you do. Everything you've ever known just got suddenly, inexplicably ripped away from you. Got nothing except anger, desperation and hopelessness churning inside your gut...or something like that, right?" A half-hearted nod.
"Figured. Never had the Force myself, but...wait, did I ever tell you about the time I was a galactic fugitive? No?" Yerbol turned to face the pilot, his brow furrowed.
"I mean, Roan described you as a freelance mercenary that was former spec ops, but..."
"Ever wonder how I became 'former' spec ops?" In their entire relationship, not once did Yerbol question that label. Odd. He did remember something about a retirement...
"Didn't you just decide to retire?" The pilot snorted a chuckle, leaning back in the creaky wooden chair Aria had occupied before she left.
"Wish it had been that easy. Nope. Long story short, I was sent to a planet for a simple pop and lock."
"Pop and lock?" She chuckled again.
"Slang for retrieving an asset or cargo that the Republic wanted, then shutting down whatever or whoever would go after it. Anyway, I get deployed with my team and, come to find out, the 'asset' the Republic wanted was a team of Imperial scientists who were doing work on some mega-weapon. Problem was, these scientists hadn't contacted the Republic."
"You were sent in to kidnap them?"
"That's the long and short of it, yeah. Had a bad feeling about that op from the start, but no love lost for the Imperials, right?" She started twirling the ends of her hair, crimson locks wrapped around her index finger as she continued:
"We get to the planet, some backwater hole. Sneak through the security detail, get to the scientists in the base. About ready to tranq them with sedative when one of them sees us, panics, reaches under his lab coat. One of my squad is itchy, decides to shoot first. Sets off alarms, scientists are armed (of course), which means we scrap this thing and get outta there." A light sigh.
"Security detail we got by storm in, we get in a firefight. I manage to get a smoke grenade off, one team member and I sprinting back to our ship. Hit the ground with five of us, two leave alive. When we got back to base, Republic SIS commander brought us into her office and chewed us out for such a 'botched' operation. Apparently the Imperials found out about our failed kidnapping, wanted some kind of recompense in return or they were going to blow the whole thing up, which would have violated one of the five million temporary 'treaties of peace' we had entered into. Had two choices: get throw into prison by the Republic for life or allow myself to be surrendered to the Empire as a political POW."
"Both those options sound terrible."
"I thought so, too. Chose the second option to buy myself some time. Once they threw me in a holding cell, I broke out with a little help from a guard I knew and didn't look back. Had a few safehouses I could go to, raid supplies and then...well, I said 'kark it' and went freelance. If my government wanted to give me up over their screw up, then why should I be loyal to them, let alone submit to the Empire?" A snort.
"So then I get branded a fugitive by the Republic AND the Empire, which is probably why I got so many calls from the Sith to do their dirty work. Transporting prisoners, Dark Council members and the like along with security. I was an expendable cog that they could throw away, a gun without a purpose." She sat forward now, half-smiling as she took one of Yerbol's hands in hers.
"But what I had to do, Yerbol, was adapt. I knew that my entire life, my purpose had been stripped from me. I could have sat there, pouted and sulked, but that would have gotten me killed; instead, I chose to adapt, to embrace the discomfort I was experiencing. Yeah, it's terrible that this happened to you and I hurt for you, I really do, but you gotta do something to help take down this...guy, thing, whatever you're trying to kill this time."
"Ancient Sith entity..." Yerbol mumbled.
"Right, sure, whatever. Point is, you can STILL help, even without the Force."
"How?"
"Well, you know how to use a blaster, right? And you're not a total moron when it comes to hand-to hand combat. Combine those two things along with some tutoring from me and you get to be a part of an infiltration team to take down...something. I can almost guarantee that we'll be asked to do something important to help and you, Champion, need to be ready to answer the call. Just like you always have." She gave his hand a squeeze.
"I believe in you, kid. I always have."
"Always?" She smirked.
"Ok, not ALWAYS. I mean, come on, the first time we met? Really? Some wide-eyed Jedi from Taris who was an emotional powder-keg?"
"Powder-keg is a bit of hyperbole." They shared a laugh, Neta withdrawing her hand as she rose just in time for Yuno to appear with Desun and Kyla behind him.
"We would like for you to join us in the Meeting area. There is much to discuss." Neta quickly looked to Yerbol with a trademark glint in her eye.
"What'd I tell ya?"

___

The Meeting area was the same room the Qyaari party had met Revan for the first time, although now in the middle of the room/area was a square shaped table that had holographic images of planets and datapoints plotted on those planets suspended right above it. The others had assembled around the table when Yerbol and Neta arrived, the Champion spotting his wife before sidling next to her, a hand planted on the small of her back as he looked down with a small smile. While this was not the time to be dwelling on such things, but when her dark, full eyes met his, there was a very big temptation to scoop her up in his arms and kiss her with a kind of passion that he didn't think possible without the Force. That, he felt, was an encouraging sign: their marriage wasn't based solely on their bond...or at least he hoped that was a sign.

He pushed aside the train of thought as Yuno spoke:
"Master Revan has allowed the Heralds to scout this part of the galaxy in search of ways to banish Vitiate completely."
"Uh, Yuno..." Ethan raised a hand meekly as he asked:
"Did you just say 'banish'? As in, make him 'not exist' any longer?" The Sith nodded.
"Indeed. Vitiate's existence has been embedded in the Force for so long that there is no conventional way to 'kill' him. We must, quite literally, excise him from this plane of existence." Ethan's brow shot up.
"To continue, what you see before you are three planets that Desun, Kyla and I have scouted as best as possible while avoiding detection from the Eternal Throne. These three locations were discovered through many an expedition to various moons surrounding them. True Sith artifacts, records and holo-logs were examined from these moons, the data extracted pointing to these planets as being extremely important."
"How so?" Yerbol's question was answered by Kyla, her light, airy voice responding:
"Each planet holds a very specific weapon created by the True Sith masters thousands of years ago. Each weapon has the ability to absorb one's Force energy."
"That's some crazy bantha sh-" Neta silenced the boy with a firm nudge as Desun picked up where his sister left off:
"The True Sith masters seemed to believe that these weapons would serve as a countermeasure to any one master throwing off the balance of the Force. In short, if one master became greedy for power, the others would retrieve the weapons and use them on the power-hungry individual." Yuno wrapped up the exposition:
"Force crystals are embedded in the hilt of each weapon that can store energy. How much is uncertain, but what we speculate is that if we use these three weapons against Vitiate, they can weaken him enough to where we can defeat him once and for all."
"But couldn't Vitiate remove himself from Arcann's body?"
"Not if he's weakened. Vitiate feeds on his host's Force energy. If the host is drained, then Vitiate will lose a valuable power source. We use these weapons, we have a chance."
Hey there! So, why is it when I want to start cranking out replies, life starts to throw stuff in my way? It's the same way for you, right? xD

It's good things, though! My wife got a full-time job and I'm going to an interview for a position that would be...well, pretty stinking awesome. That being said, I MIGHT spit half of it up today and warn you not to peek until tomorrow when I get some time to flesh it out. How's that sound? :)
I've learned over my almost six years of marriage that you never mess with a small lady when she's mad. My wife is right around 5'2, but on the very rare occasions she gets mad (thankfully not at me!), I duck and cover and I am not ashamed whatsoever. (for reference, I'm 6'3 and was a powerlifting coach for a while...doesn't matter how big you are, just don't get in their way xD).

Gotcha on those points. A plot is coming together in my head. I'll list it below for you to review:
-The party gets together and Yuno/Revan discuss their findings regarding the True Sith. This would include Yuno's research that has extended for years regarding ways to stop Vitiate, which includes records and logs that the True Sith Masters left behind. In those logs, there's mention of three distinctly named weapons that have the ability to sever one's connection of the Force thanks to the Force-infused crystals that are embedded in the saber. The crystals can essentially act as "storage units" for Force energy, but only limited amounts. Basically you have to use all three sabers at the same time to weaken Vitiate to "normal bad guy" levels so that he can be fought with a chance to win.
-To distract Vitiate-Arcann from going after the Force users, Neta is going to suggest disrupting Empire communications and defense systems. This is where Yerbol will help Neta, seeing as he has combat experience and without the Force, he's sort of useless in Force related endeavors. I imagine that Revan would want them to have help, so he would allow two or three Heralds to accompany them.
-I don't know if you would want to have Aria and Vano team up, but would it be easier for you to have Aria, Kytra and Ethan (I'll play Ethan) to go after only one saber or all three? It might be less laborious for just one retrieval, but we learn more about the True Sith rather than abbreviated trips to all three locations. Maybe Vano, Yuno and Revan can go after the other two?
I don't ever remember Aria using that before, but man, I imagine that we might see that in battle sometime?

Anyhow, so with Meetra dead and Vitiate officially introduced, I'm thinking:
-Revan is going to be worried about Vitiate trying to find the Heralds, so he might be proactive in terms of disabling any kind of threat to his order. I mean, the Heralds have managed to remain a secret so far, but I imagine that Vitiate will be able to find them sooner than later. Better to divert his attention somewhere else?
-Vitiate managed to sustain himself enough to maintain a presence in Arcann, but I imagine that his goal from here on would be to find a more permanent host. Wouldn't that be Revan?
-I'm conflicted as to what Vitiate's ultimate goal would be. Is it complete annihilation of organic life like Nihilus? Or would it be the consolidation of power within himself by disconnecting any and every person with a connection to the Force? I would think more the latter because he did choose to rule over the Eternal Empire, which has human subjects who are doing quite well thanks to his rule.
-In terms of next steps, Revan would probably want the Heralds to somehow scatter, right? So that Vitiate won't find them all in one place? Or would he want them all to stay together? In any case, they would have to find ways to weaken Vitiate and rob him of his power, right? If so, what ways would they consider? A thought just came to mind about the True Sith potentially crafting sabers that could drain one's connection to the Force and hiding them in remote corners of the galaxy as a safeguard from any one Force user completely shifting the balance of power to him or her. What do you think?
HA! Made him useful xD

Tried to give Revan a segway into briefly explaining Vitiate, which might fill in how Vano managed to find them. Wonder how Ari is going to react to this? I mean, Vano was just your friendly neighborhood librarian and now she's former wrath of the Emperor who, by the way, can teleport across vast expanse of galaxy? Looking forward to reading :)
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