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No Country for Failed Knights

Posted on Mon Aug 2nd, 2021 @ 2:05am by Rusasha Djehuti-Lahan & Rynseh Lahan & Zenarrah Sozo

Chapter: Chapter VI: The Last Bastion
Location: Room of a Thousand Fountains - Reborn Jedi Temple, Coruscant
Timeline: Mid-Week Three, nearly an hour after Wolph in the Fold, Part III

ON

You were the fortunate ones the disgraced former Jedi Knight said in silent thought as she knelt, seated on her knees in a meditative position with eyes closed. She had come to pay her respects to her fallen friends in front of the small memorial she made for them. Chi'toomi, Narsche, Jevin...I miss you all so much. You are all one with the Force now, united in eternal peace.

The steady unwavering sound of the waterfall some ways behind her -- the seven-story centerpiece of the historical Room of a Thousand Fountains in the Reborn Jedi High Temple -- was her only answer. Moments later, something more than just the simple serenity of nature caused a familiar stir in the Force.

“You may speak, Rusasha,” said the deep rumbling voice that was all too well known to her. “I absolve you of your oath of silence.”

"How long have you been watching me, father?" Rusasha asked without moving, having no desire to look upon him.

"Long enough to see that you have not yet learned to let go," Jedi Master Rynseh Lahan replied. "You blame yourself for their deaths, yet you know in your heart it was the will of the Force. No one held you responsible for their passing, and yet you still carried the guilt as if you were. Your deeds and perseverance earned you your Knighthood, and yet you never could grow past being that regretful young padawan; the girl who lived."

“First, you revoke everything I’ve worked hard to earn and achieve in defense of a crooked Senator,” Rusasha remarked as she rose to her feet and turned to her father with scowling green eyes gesturing a hand to her humble memorial, “then you discredit two of the finest masters ever to walk these halls, and now you have to torment me over absent friends as well? Is there no end to your bitterness?”

“Enough with your maledictions, child,” Rynseh shot back with a firm, yet calm tone. “Your speech to the High Council is documented and well known to us and to me. I know how you feel, but you crossed the line. Whatever anyone’s opinion of Senator Vuul may be, there are laws that must be followed. Say what you will, but you had the burden of proof, and you failed to deliver nothing more than your word. Caanan authorities in conjunction with Republic inspectors found no wrongdoing in the Senator’s residence. We may be Jedi, but we are not above the law. Do you understand this?”

“Yes, of course I do,” Rusasha replied. “Will that be all? Shall I be lectured some more, or are you here to condemn me to more menial labor and oaths of silence? Perhaps you’ll walk away again and neglect me as you did—”

Before she could say “mother”, Rynseh held up a hand to stop her and cut in, “Do not say what you intend to say for you know not what you speak of. Cast aside your stubbornness and wrath for a moment and hear me out. Can you do that just once for the sake of harmony and respect?”

Rusasha closed her eyes and took a long and deep breath, then reopened her gaze upon her sire and nodded curtly. What she saw next caused her eyes to widen with surprise.

“I spoke with Master Quellus in private after you left the hearing,” Rynseh said as he stepped a bit closer to his daughter and produced from under his crimson red Jedi robes Rusasha’s gold and black lightsaber that she had surrendered to the Council earlier in dramatic fashion. “He has agreed to offer you a path to redemption. With time and good deeds, you can earn back your Knighthood. All can be forgiven, but you must serve under my direct supervision as a Reborn Templar soldier.”

Rusasha lifted her eyes from the tightly held lightsaber to meet Rynseh’s eyes. “Reborn…Templar?” She asked in confusion as she had never heard of the Templars until that very moment, and then it started to make sense in her mind. “Ohh…now I get it. Now I see why you had all but vanished after the incident that nearly killed you on Balmorra. You weren’t simply convalescing all that time; you were putting together a new initiative, weren’t you? That would explain the unusually high budget appropriations that I saw allocated to the Order shortly before I was reassigned to go hunting for Zenarrah Sozo.”

“Your wisdom serves you well,” Rynseh relented, expecting as much from the sole bearer of his genetic legacy. “You weren’t supposed to see that information, and that is why you were assigned to your first mission as a member of the Jedi Shadows. I did that to protect you from the Senate’s scrutiny, and for you to hopefully bring back a wayward soul into the fold. I thought if she saw you, my daughter, she would be more open to the idea.”

“So Vuul wasn’t the only reason the Senate pressured you and the Council to condemn me,” Rusasha surmised, finding herself even more disgusted by the politicians than she ever had been before. “Zenarrah was a loose end for your Templars because of your well-known connection to her as your apprentice. Your backers in the Senate couldn’t have that, could they? Why all the secrecy, father? What is so important that you must hide this from me? Are you hiding it from everyone else too?”

“The time for secrecy is over,” Rynseh said as he turned and stepped away from Ru for a couple of short paces before stopping and staring at the almost hypnotic flow of the waterfall. “After we left Coruscant, Zenarrah later betrayed me on Korriban. She and the traitor, Thane, tried to kill me after we found his ship there…” he turned to glare at Ru again, “…and Zen’s lost daughter.”

“Tried to kill you?” Ru asked in confusion. “But…she was your apprentice. She spoke highly of you when I found her on Nar Shaddaa. She said the Council was lying to you, and that they even lied to her about Zaracoda. That was the reason why she left the Order.”

“I am not here to talk about my failed student!” Rynseh said a bit harsher than he intended. He sighed, felt a slight pain in his heart and placed a hand over it to soothe it with the Force, then collected his composure. “I survived and managed to escape using powers and skills I had hoped I would never have to resort to. The worst threat there was not Zen or Thane or even the damned spirits of our ancient enemies, but a group of potent dark side users we’ve confirmed as members of the Cult of Axion. Rusasha, if there is anything you will remember from this conversation, then never forget this: the dark side has finally revealed itself to us. Its chosen avatars have appeared wielding incredible dark side abilities, and they are considerably well-trained in the formal arts of lightsaber combat.”

“Trained dark side cultists?” Rusasha felt a hint of fear from the news that essentially amounted to the sum of all fears for the Republic.

“Yes,” Ryn affirmed with a curt nod of his own, “and when the Senate saw my recorded holoimages of the battle, that appropriation of funds for us that you saw in the budget proposal was nearly tripled. Chancellor Paralles himself was practically crippled with terror when we declared to him that the Sith have returned in the form of these cultists. It brought me no pleasure to see such a good man so distraught over this revelation, but they now know what must be done, and I need all the warriors I can marshal to shield the Republic from this new evil. Since the Republic has no standing army to call upon, the task falls to us, and we are almost ready.”

“I see…” Ru nodded her understanding, letting her gaze fall to her father’s boots for a moment before restoring eye contact. “You’ve come to recruit me to help you fight the Sith.”

“It is by far the most solemn duty a Reborn Jedi can undertake,” Rynseh said, feeling that he was close to restoring his and his daughter’s honour. All she had to do was know her place and accept what she was born for. “This is the opportunity you’ve wanted for so long. You would no longer have to hide your relation to me. Together, we can venture forth and meet the darkness head-on as father and daughter, openly and without shame.”

Rynseh held out Ru’s lightsaber to her, presenting it balanced flat on his open palm. “Join me, my child. With you by my side as First Bishop, we can ensure peace to the galaxy, and destroy the Sith once and for all.”

Rusasha walked up to the offered lightsaber, her little metal friend that she had constructed with great care and creativity as a Jedi Initiate and came close to putting her hands on it again, but she hesitated and looked up again at her towering father. “What exactly would be my role as ‘First Bishop’?”

“I do not intend to place you on the front line,” Ryn replied. “Your role will be to support your fellow Templar brothers and sisters with your powers. You will be the key to countering the Cult’s dark side rituals.”

That was the instant when Rynseh’s motives for approaching her became crystal clear to Rusasha. She looked down at the lightsaber again, then, as she was about to accept it, she instead gently pushed her father’s fingers to close over her weapon as her way of denying the offer.

“This was all about my battle meditation,” she said softly, shaking her head with a broken heart. “Quellus allowed this because of that, and that alone, didn’t he?”

“My child—” Rynseh began to say.

“Do not call me that!” Ru snapped at him as she backed away, stopping just shy of stepping on her late friends’ memorial. “You came here just to use me. You think your Shadow training can cloud my vision of you? I see clearly now. Your intentions are selfish! You don’t care about having me by your side. You just want an extra advantage for your little crusade. Now I see why mother passed away. You never deserved her, hypocrite!”

In but the blink of an eye, the bright green blaze of Rusasha’s lightsaber was brought to bear on her stopping just short within inches of contacting her face. What she saw behind that vertically angled beam of death was perhaps the single most horrific thing she had ever witnessed in all her life. She saw Rynseh’s green eyes, one on either side of the saber blade, but more than that…she saw flecked rings of glowing gold around the pupils; the telltale signs of the dark side coming dangerously close to taking hold of a Force sensitive. Ryn was breathing heavily and growling low with barely contained rage like the hungry feral felines that their ancient Cathar ancestors had once been before evolution gifted their minds with sentience.

Rusasha’s Jedi training had all but failed to prepare her for such a moment, and her connection to the Force was almost entirely paralyzed by the sheer horror of the moment. She was completely at Rynseh’s mercy, and never thought she would face her possible end at the hands of her own father. She was tempted to plead for him to see reason and spare her life, but she felt something within, something warm welling up inside, something trying hard to keep her steady, prompting her to hold her chin up high and fight back the fear. It was all that kept her from looking away and squirming in terror. She kept her eyes locked on her father’s eyes, and almost silently held her ground, but not enough to keep her body from shaking visibly.

Rynseh then deactivated the lightsaber and roughly grabbed the scruff of Ru’s brown Jedi robes with his free left hand and hoisted her up into the air with the same ease as if grasping a feather.

“No longer shall you be reassigned to the Agri Corps,” he declared with deep contempt. “You are hereby exiled from the Reborn Order. No longer a Jedi shall you be!” He threw her harshly to the ground with little effort and shouted down at her as his eyes lost their faint golden rings. “You shall forever be banned from this sacred Temple, and all of our temples across the galaxy. Furthermore, you shall be permanently excommunicated from the Force.” A member of the Temple Guard walked into view by Rynseh’s side. “Guardsman, thank you for coming. Take this traitor to a holding cell. The Council will begin preparations to sever her connection to the Force this evening. Also, please arrange for destroying this.” He handed Rusasha’s lightsaber over to the guard who then nodded silently to the Jedi Master just before Ryn’s commlink chimed at him. Ryn held up his left gauntlet at chest level. “This is Lahan. Speak.”

“Master Lahan,” said the male voice on the other end of the comm, “there has been an incident in the Temple Archives.”

“Ah, Captain, I was hoping I could speak with you,” Rynseh said, glaring angrily down at his distraught daughter whom he saw was in tears and couldn’t bear to look at him.

“A padawan was found in one of the restricted sections of the Archive,” said the Captain of the Guard. “We’ve already alerted the High Council. He is rather delirious, and his mind is clouded in such a way none of us have seen before. Says he serves you and something called the Templars. Do you know to what he is referring?”

Though not sobbing, Rusasha turned and defiantly glared up at her father through tear-filled eyes upon hearing mention of the Templars. Her father didn’t just put together some random Sith-hunting offshoot of the Reborn Jedi Order; it was so secret that not even the ever-vigilant Temple Guards knew about it. Worse, by the sounds of it, its membership consisted of troublemakers and malcontents.

“I shall be there momentarily,” Ryn said, and without another word or glance at his daughter, he departed the Thousand Fountains.

Rusasha didn’t bother to watch him leave. She turned to gaze mournfully at the memorial once more just as her pointed ears twitched with the sounds of armoured boots calmly pacing towards her. She turned and looked up, the masked guardsman holding out a hand to help her up. She sniffled, wiped the tears from her face and accepted the gracious helping hand back to her feet.

She nodded to him with gratitude, “I’m ready,” she told him trying to put on a brave face, but inwardly shattered by her father’s harshness to her. He wasn’t only going to kick her out of the Temple, but forever rob her of her connection the Force itself. It was inconceivable. The thought of it was beyond all reason and it terrified her almost as much as her father nearly slaying her with her own weapon on Jedi holy ground.

Another guard stepped out of the shadows and appeared where the first one stood, this one shorter and slighter in frame, very much resembling that of a female, but there was something…off about her, something that Ru’s senses in the Force couldn’t quite place, as if she were somehow being blocked from gleaning the truth. This new guardsman caught the first one’s attention, and they silently nodded to each other.

The first guard then turned back to Ru and he said through his mask’s voice modulator, “Come with us. Before you meet the Council one last time, there is someone who wishes to speak with you first.”

TBC

 

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