[SWTOR] Catharsis

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Tinian Ral

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May 24, 2017
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Yavin 4 hung like a jeweled emerald pendant in the desert of space, an oasis of resources and fertile jungles, seemingly peaceful and pleasing to the naked eye. Infested with luscious fauna and flora, it was a wildlife biologist's paradise.

After delivering her resignation to the Penumbral medical advisory, Tinian returned to the jungle moon. She had been in transit for days, and her shuttle now landed on a dense section of the rainforest canopy that had been paved over with a polymer to seal and fuse the branches and leaves into a solid mass. To enable the trees to receive adequate moisture and gas exchange, the polymer was porous, synthesized from jungle chemicals and organics.

In an ancient ocean of trees girdling the planet, the Massassi had created temples and dark sanctuaries where they could worship that which they deemed 'holy'. Their settlements would almost always be found nearby, nestled in broad sanctuary valleys abundant with streams and waterfalls forming perfect ecosystems. One such temple and settlement had been taken over by the Sith Lord Icelus Bahor and his protege, Tinian'Ral. From the basis of the old and the arcane, they had constructed a sophisticated stronghold protected by granite cliffs. The declivitous external walls were overgrown with silvery-purple vines, drooping ferns, and fleshy moss. Comfortable chambers looked out upon a thick jungle canopy that pressed against the settlement cliffs. Inhabitants could venture directly onto the upper rubbery branches and descend to the dense underbrush, where they harvested edibles.

As if to overwhelm the abundance of life on Yavin 4 and reinforce the tales told of the darkside having twisted and taken over all life on the jungle moon, the Bahor stronghold teemed with aggressive living things - fungi, lichens, berries, flower-like parasites, and insects. Dozens of scientific droids under Tinian's command, lacking the Force insight of their master, had turned their talents to developing and extracting drugs, pharmaceuticals and occasional poisons from nature's larder. The entire planet was like a Pandora's box that had been opened just a crack . . .

Now the tall, luminous Sorceress watched as her older paramour, Icelus Bahor, crossed a suspended bridge from the open cliffs to the foamy purple treetops. His patrician features were handsom, his dark hair full and thick, his face long and lean. Upon his chest was a sturdy infant carrier with a gurgling bundle inside. Tagging along behind him on stubby legs came a protocol droid pushing a repulsorlift pram.

Four misfits. No wonder they get along so well.

Prior to seducing Icelus Bahor, Tinian had no conjugal relationships with anyone else; although if she had a choice, Inari Marr would have made a rather suitable mate. Unfortunately, such emotional proximity between the two never had a chance to develop. Love was never an exact science, after all.

Now a mother and a concubine, Tinian would spend days and nights in her lab - and not a single moment would be spent on considering what would have been, had things turned out differently for her and Marr. The past would remain buried along with her friend's remains - and Tinian would go on, attempting to find some semblance of peace and happiness in her often troubled mind.

Instead of coming toward the stronghold, her mate (and the droid in tow) decided upon a different route. A doting father, Icelus enjoyed taking out the twins for a nature walk, believing that his offspring should be exposed to all available natural surroundings from an early age. Shrugging, Tinian took her steps toward the microbiology lab, housed in one of the smaller temples - but changed her mind at the very last moment. Instead, her gaze trailed to the doorway across from her intended destination - Icelus' communications post. A place where he would oversee all information exchanges - including private Penumbral correspondence he diverted here. It goes without saying that said correspondence was not necessarily ... his own.

Looking up, Tinian saw her paramour already gone - having vanished in the distant foliage. Good. Quick strides crossed the distance to the communications lab and as usual - she found the door already unlocked. Undoubtedly, a proximity sensor was programmed to react to her approaching - Icelus kept very little if anything from her these days. Or so he claimed. The fact that Tinian was here, this very moment - suggested she believed otherwise.

Stepping inside, she dismissed the science research droid on approach and sent him out the door to check the proximity sensor. The moment she was alone, Tinian walked up to the round communications booth and took a seat behind the main console. Once again, she waited for a moment, as if considering something. She had every right to be here, but what was her purpose for doing so, anyway? What was she hoping to accomplish?

Leaning over, the Sorceress let her fingertips dance across the weightless keys, entering the access code Icelus had given her. It worked. Pausing again, she glanced at the growing list of folders rapidly populating the blue holographic screen. SH Main, Security, Massassi, Tinian - Lab, Tinian - Personal, Icelus - Council, Icelus - Personal . . .

Glancing at that last folder, Tinian shifted in her seat and moved her cursor over it but did not click it just yet. In all her time living on this planet, she had never felt the need to do so - and yet, something was propelling her to access the contents of that folder, now. Her eyes blinked in tandem with the subtle flick of her wrist, accompanied by a button click.

PLEASE ENTER SECURITY CODE - ACCESS DENIED

Tinian's violet eyes snapped wide open as she keyed in the requested code. In her mind, a myriad of thoughts started to rush in and collide, as suspicion, curiosity, guilt and need for validation all fought for supremacy in her troubled conscience. One hand drifted to rub at the temple as she watched the security screen vanish, replaced by a fresh assembly of personal communications - marked only by dates of arrival. Without thinking, Tinian moved the cursor over one of the older files and clicked twice - impatient and anxious at the same time. Perhaps this was all she needed to lay her fears to rest. Perhaps hearing the messages opening seconds, she would be instantly calmed and reassured that the feelings and thoughts she had fought against these past few months were only meaningless, foolish flights of fancy. As a small but familiar shape of a female face came upon the screen, Tinian's face fell and her breath stilled in her throat. Yet it was her heart that nearly paused in its tracks when she heard the clear and unflinching plea come forth from the clearly overwrought sender:

. . . Sometimes I wonder that your path ever crossed with mine. Why, I'd never have known you or known this agony and fever. I know that all my life's been leading me to this union with you. I recognized you at first sight and knew with certainty. I said to myself, It's him, he has come. Help me, resolve my doubts. Perhaps all this is nonsense, emptiness, a delusion and quite another fate awaits me. Imagine it, I'm here alone half out of my mind. I dread to think this over, my secret longing. I know that I can trust your honor, though I feel faint from shame and fear . . .
Biting down her lower lip, Tinian scrolled down to see if a reply was sent. Certainly, there was - although it took three weeks for it to happen. A part of her wondered why - what took so long? Then eagerness took over as she accessed the deplorable reply:

. . . I can foresee the bitter scorn blazing at me from your proud eyes when you discover my secret sorrow. When we first met, through chance, I saw tenderness like a shooting star but did not dare to put my faith in it. Then you had left for Tatooine - a life of safety and a new future - which parted us til further. And then I tore my heart away from everything I loved, rootless, estranged from all, I thought that liberty and peace would serve instead of happiness. By the Force, how wrong I was. How I have been punished. No . . . day by day to be with you, follow you everywhere, alive to every smile, each movement of your eyes, to dwell upon you soul's perfection, listen to your voice . . . grow faint with yearning. That is bliss and I'm cut off from it! My time is short, each day and hour is precious yet I just want to drown in waves of grim regret. If you but knew the flames that burn in me, which I attempt to beat down with my reason, but let it be. I cannot struggle against my feelings anymore, I am entirely in your will --
First instinct was to scream and cause the hapless console to shatter beneath the awesome force of her unbridled rage - but she held her composure, the knuckles of her fists having turned ghostly white - the only testament to the fury swelling within. Leaning over the console, Tinian continued to listen to the remaining messages, one after another, after another . . . until the final communique which had left her no less frustrated and confused. In it, Icelus was strictly forbidding Liya from communicating with him any further - citing reasons of having made a decision to remain with Tinian.

. . . I wish you every happiness with Marcus - he is a good man, perhaps the best I have ever known - and certainly a better man than I could ever be to you. It is time for this madness to end and for our lives to reach some semblance of peace, Liya . . . and though I cannot expect your forgiveness I know that deep inside, you understand and know, that this is the right thing to do. Do not contact me here again . . .
Stubborn moisture flew to the corners of her eyes and Tinian batted them away fiercely - still refusing to let emotion show. Shutting down the console, she fled the chamber, heading for the privacy and comfort of a waterfall cave located on the peripherals of their stronghold. Icelus rarely ventured there; he considered the place a project on his back burner and not a priority. Plus, the caverns gave off an unpleasant, musty smell caused by the numerous spores infesting the stalagmites within - not something that he would choose to introduce his children to.

Wandering the dank corridors like a fool drunk on too much wine, Tinian tried to calm her mind and piece together what she had heard. Part of her did not want to believe it: Icelus rarely ever left Yavin 4 and Liya had never visited - yet this communication had been taking place ever since she had left here for the Penumbral home base on Tatooine. And that was over a year ago . . .

And you said you loved me, Icelus . . . only . . . me.

He had obviously lied. Just like everyone else that she had ever put her trust in. Just like everyone else she had ever cared about. Perhaps it was high time to close the book on that particular experiment and find a new focus in life. Icelus would look after the children; they barely seemed to recognize her as their mother, after all. Even the droid that rocked their cradle seemed to have formed a closer bond with her twin daughters than Tinian had. Whenever she would pick them up - they cried. Only their father's arms could bring them solace.

It felt like everything and everyone in her life was about to turn against her.

Taking a seat upon a large, mossy rock, Tinian propped her chin up with her hands, elbows digging into her lap. Her logical side prodded her to seek clarification and closure; to confront Icelus in a calm and dignified manner. Her vengeance seeking side called out for blood. Exhausted and confused, Tinian closed her eyes and submitted to the simple comfort of empty meditation - an attempt to purge herself of all the feelings that threatened to unbalance her and an effort to find an eye of calm within the center of one's storm of emotions.

Within moments, it seemed Tinian was asleep . . . taking refuge in the soothing embrace of her dreams . . . and the Force.
 
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