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Sep 29, 2022 5:07 AM
Someone important is dead. Kina Skywalker takes this personally.
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Yoda stops in his tracks. "Make myself clear, I must. No longer do I see you as a child. Noticed your power, we have. Good, it could bring to the galaxy. But easier it is, to destroy everything."

"Skywalker, we fear you. Unlocked powers, you will, that none before you could hope to grasp. Sure, I am not! Should anyone come back from the darkness, you, it would be. But know that, you cannot either. If you fall to the dark side, more than yourself, you risk. The fate of the galaxy, you may wager, and for all your skill... this game, none before you have won."

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"...Yeah.  It's terrifying from the inside, too.  I don't blame you for the fear.  I'm worried.  I'd be worried, were I you.  ...and...this - it's always the metaphor of games, isn't it, with politics, when there are trillions of lives on the line.  It trivializes the costs.  It's...that's the important thing to hold to, no matter what.  People matter.  People living their best lives.  That's all I want.  I think it's what the Force wants, too.  I can't know for sure, because it's so much bigger than me.  But I have to hope.  And - and for that hope, for the cause I've chosen, I'll struggle and strive with every bone in my body, til the blasted sands scour them to nothing but dust.  No matter what comes.  Because to not play this game is to forfeit it to destruction.  It shouldn't be this way, but regardless of should, it is, so - we have to try our best to win, or somehow flip the table.  I hope we can.  I fear we won't.  But in the end, we have to try, because if we don't try, we can never succeed.  Even if we fail, it's better than - doing nothing at all, and facing that same failure as if it's preordained."

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Do nothing, and at least you won't actively make things worse. But he can imagine how she'd respond to that.

By now, they've made it to the medical wing, where Qui-Gon's body is kept. Yoda goes in by himself, since she likely won't want to see the bloody half of a corpse. When he comes out, he's holding the damaged remains of a lightsaber, the bottom half slightly melted. Carefully, he extracts the crystal, and hands it to Kina.

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Kina clutches it close to her chest, like she's hugging her lost teacher tight.  "Is there...somewhere close, suitable for meditation?  I could sit here and just go anyway, but...the mindset helps, I think.  ...No, is there somewhere he'd like to meditate.  With liveliness, with life.  It'll work better that way.  All things are one in the Force, but some things are closer together, and the way I do this...it helps to be connected.  Where should we go..."

Kina ties a string to the crystal, and reaches out with Qui-Gon's kyber crystal, asking her master's advice for where she should lead this meditation...

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The string flops around.

"...what are you doing?"

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"Seeing if that works.  Guess it doesn't, or I'm not doing it the right way.  Still...does the Temple have - gardens?  Something like that?  I feel like it's the right sort of place to try."

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"Yes. Head there, we can. At peace, we should be."

Yoda heads towards the gardens, calling Tiin as he walks. The rest of the Council would be useful here.

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"I'm not sure I can do peace, as I am, but I can be calm."  To the gardens, then.  "Don't forget the sound barrier, please, Masters Jedi.  I can't see how someone would even try to spy here, but...better over-cautious than caught unprepared."

Kina's...felt out somewhere slow, quiet; an appropriate place for somberness.  At which point, she just plops herself down, clasps the kyber between her hands, closes her eyes...

Takes a deep breath in, and a deep breath out...

And meditates, opening herself to what the Force wants to show her of Qui-Gon Jinn and his death.

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He's in the depths of Coruscant.

Qui-Gon tips the driver and steps out of the cab, walking through the streets. He starts to hear the Force screaming at him, and he spins around just in time to catch a rocket with his gut -

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There's pain, and there's shock, and everything is beginning to fade, but he sees, standing above him, kneeling down to collect a sample of blood, someonesomeone in a dark robe covering what looks like armor, and they raise their hood and he sees -

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That's... odd.

He can see what's under the hood. It's right there. If he looks at any particular place, he sees it, fully clear in his vision. It just... doesn't seem to make anything. When he's looking at it, it seems like a recognizable shape, but... he can't recognize it. He can't even tell whether it's a face or a mask or just an empty space leading into the back of the hood, or what colors or shapes might make it up, or whether... Why is he confused. Something is blocking him from knowing what that is, even though it's obviously...

...what?

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If Kina can't figure out what that face is - and she can't, after three tries, so she gives up for now - she tries to figure out what that face before her isn't, asserting that it's not ...what?  It's not unlike troubleshooting problems you don't already know the source of; you pick a part, you remove it, you see if the problem's still there.

 

...This still doesn't work, but she tried.

Does dissociating really hard at this and letting her hand sketch automatically on a flimsiplast work?  Probably not, but she's going to keep at it.  She's fighting this power with all the ideas she can bring to bear, no matter how futile it seems, because maybe the Sith who's doing this, this, slipped up somewhere.

...She's not thinking about other avenues to find out what this person looks like, right now, just in case.  She'll focus on trying to figure out where this interference is coming from, instead; all things are connected through the Force and that meddling is connection.

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This could be dangerous. He should stop this...

His body doesn't seem to be... moving?

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The Force does what it wills, Master Yoda.  Apparently seeing this through is part of it.  Or it's enemy action!

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And the vision fades away.

Kina's standing in a dark space, empty blackness save for the tall white face on the horizon, illuminated by the dim glow of a red lightsaber.

"I wish we were meeting under better circumstances, Skywalker," he says. "I don't think you got a very good first impression of the Sith."

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"I daresay that depends upon the qualities you look for in impressions.  Might I ask your name?  You seem to have me at a bit of a disadvantage, after all."

Her hand's already moving, so transcribe, and then no thoughts.

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"Unfortunately, I have a bit of a public persona attached to my name. What is your view of the Sith? And for that matter, what of the Jedi?"

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"I'm sure you do."

Kina's head tilts to the side, as if she's thinking.

"My view of the Sith?  I daresay it's quite occluded.  Hiding from the public eye except in those moments you wish to commit murder hardly makes for a legible public image.  My view of the Jedi?  They've been kind, in their way.  I've hardly known them long enough for detailed impressions."

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Plagueis nods. She's probably trying to play with him, somehow? Interesting. "Fair enough. Well, I'm told that you have quite a bit of potential. Already on the level of a Jedi Master, in a few areas, and quite possibly the subject of a prophecy. We would be quite interested in recruiting you."

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"Hmm.  Recruiting me to do...something in particular, I imagine?"

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"Several things, many of which would have to stay confidential. We're working on quite a few projects. My apprentice is handling the political aspect, overthrowing the Republic, establishing a better order for the galaxy, that general area. I'm... research and development, you might say."

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"I'm curious; certainly I agree that the Republic as it is has problems, but what would you replace it with?"

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"The structure would primarily be a monarchy. The primary goal is to have enough military strength that we can actually enforce laws instead of bowing to any criminal with a large enough army. Most planets should at least retain some autonomy, but will need to support us with troops, at least for however long there still is opposition. A majority of our reforms are those that everyone would say they agree with, but never seems to sacrifice anything to support. Such as, in your case, ending slavery."

"Barring exceptional circumstances, we'll try to end any war as quickly as possible. We hope we can convince planets to submit simply through the better quality of life we'll be able to provide. I haven't yet found the breakthroughs in my research I was hoping for, but I've already synthesized cures for a few diseases. Several million lives saved, and simultaneously providing funding for our other projects. Of course, I hope to do better than millions."

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"Well.  I've done a bit of reading on politics, and I can't say you haven't found some real flaws in the Republic's operations.  That said...why, of all things, monarchy?  And if those goals are what you campaign for, then why do your actions in service of that campaign - what little I know thereof - disagree with any coherent strategy leading to such a campaign's prosecution?

"It is only in results that we measure our impact upon the world, unfortunately, not the pretty words we say.  You may claim all you like to have cured diseases, but if there is such a person who did so, I know not their name, nor what they cured, nor indeed how they cured it.  So how exactly am I supposed to distinguish you from a back-alley surgeon with a hacksaw and delusions of grandeur?"

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"A reasonable sentiment," says Plagueis, beginning to smile. "When it comes to government, I would say that dividing power among too many rulers makes it impossible to efficiently bring about change. Are the two thousand Senators of the Galactic Republic more effective than one would be? And yes, I quite agree that the outward appearance of our actions seems not to fit with any sane strategy. I'm afraid this is deliberate deception on our part; our actions, and goals, are not quite what they seem. I have no records leading my releases back to my own name, and some of my more effective projects are those I might not want known were developed by the Sith. But you will find that the hadeira serum used to treat bloodburn was left on the doorstep of the Medical Corps, and contains several molecular structures almost identical to those found in midi-chlorians, that I developed in part of my research."

"Last I checked, ten thousand pilots were spared from intense pain due to my work, each gaining several decades of life expectancy. That - only a small fraction of my total accomplishments - means more by itself than the hundred or so people I've killed so far."

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