Of Blood and Honor Part 0: Prologue
The hustle and bustle of the galactic capital across the vast cityscape of Coruscant never ceased, day or night. The droid-controlled lanes of traffic crisscrossed the entire planet, on multiple levels, even down into the deep valleys of the mega buildings that made up the upper surface of Galactic City. For centuries, this was how Coruscant had been. And for years following, it would remain the same, regardless of the conflicts that were to come and go.
In the Senatorial Apartment Complex, not far from the Republic Senate building it's self, the normally empty penthouse of the Antrixian Senator was once again occupied. Since it’s inception into the Republic, the Antrixian Commonwealth had strived to become a distinguished sovereign state within the Republic. Its senator, Luaran Royce, was a busy-body, constantly on the move and eager to work with his fellow senators, especially as an emissary out in the galaxy. That was a rarity for an Antrixian.
For many centuries, the inhabitants of the Antrixian Commonwealth had been content remaining within their borders and leading a traditional lifestyle that they had known for the years since the Commonwealth’s inception. The Antrixians themselves were one of the oldest colonist species within the Inner Rim regions of the galaxy. Before the dawn of the Republic, the Antrixians had existed, evolving from mere human colonists to the Near-Human species that existed today. The real difference between them and the Humans were the glow that emanated from the whites of Antrixian eyes. That glow was only very noticeable when strong emotions were present in the Antrixian. Most individuals that didn’t know of them would never know that they weren’t Human unless that tell-tale glow happened to be showing.
Over twenty-three thousand years before, the descendants of the Antrixians landed on Antrixies and began living there. The Antrixians had journeyed from what was now considered their homeworld, Antrixies, to the various planets around it, colonizing and growing as a people. Soon afterwards, the Antrixians had made contact with and befriended the Knyden people, the wolf-like Lutrin, and the large saurian species, the Sangheili. Together, these four species formed what was now known as the Antrixian Commonwealth. Governed by the major family Houses of the Commonwealth, the Antrixian Landsraad, the people had only recently merged with the Republic within the last one thousand years.
Marissa Strykia, the High Lady of the Commonwealth and the Councilor of the Jinsai Order, leaned back in her seat, taking a break from typing at the table computer terminal. She gently rubbed her neck to ease a knot that was growing there from her time of working at the computer. She inhaled slowly and then exhaled in a slow practiced manner, closing her eyes and relaxing herself. Years of training allowed her to remove tension very quickly and easily. Once she felt that the minor aches that had come on with her working leave, she opened her eyes and took a look at her surroundings.
Her sight came to rest on her thirteen year old son, Dontaine, who was outside on the terrace, speaking with a young girl almost the same age. The transparasteel windows that separated the main room from the terrace might as well have not been there as far as Marissa was concerned. While she wasn’t worried about the behavior of her son, she knew that females around his age tended to be foolish and impulsive around him. That was part of his boyish charisma that so often led him to mischief. He was still her apprentice, though, and as his master, she wanted to make sure he was keeping within his bounds.
Marissa closed her eyes and let her mind drift free, finding the currents of the Force easily. The very close proximity of Dontaine made him easy to locate with the Force. He radiated the powerful, mystical energy himself. But not so much as the other two beings in the next room. They were shining beacons within the Force, even without training. Marissa’s youngest children, the twins Graydon and Allyson, lay napping in the next room. Even at two years old, the twins stood out in the currents of the Force.
But they weren’t Marissa’s focus. She pinpointed Dontaine and absorbed the area surrounding him. As always, he was calm, that much Marissa could sense in him. With that calm, there was also an underlying arrogance, which Marissa never seemed to get the boy to lose. He was proud of his celebrity when they came to places like Coruscant. The girls always seemed to know when he was here, too. Without fail, one of them would seek him out, in a young, bravado of trying to act adult, but all too awkward in courting ritual displays. Dontaine would simply laugh it off later, telling his mother he had no interests in girls that only saw him for what he was and what he would become. He wanted a real relationship. Perhaps that’s why there hadn’t been a betrothal agreement made yet.
That was another difference in the Antrixians. They had founded the Jinsai Order on par with the Jedi Order. But where the Jedi shunned personal attachments and possessions, the Jinsai held the family and the honor that went with it in high regard. The Jinsai, regardless of Force-sensitivity, held home and family foremost, allowing it to ground them and give them purpose in their mission as guardians and protectors of the Commonwealth. It was one of the things that set the Jedi and the Jinsai apart and had barred anyone from the Commonwealth becoming a Jedi yet. The Jinsai were that integrated with the Commonwealth that their practices carried over in the traditions of the people they served. But that, perhaps, would eventually change. There were exceptions within the Jedi Order. The members of the Commonwealth might one day be one of those exceptions if Marissa’s future plans went accordingly.
Marissa focused on the young, blonde Human girl that leaned against the railing of the balcony, grinning playfully at her son. She was a knot of jumbled thoughts, too excited about being near Dontaine to be in total control of her faculties. It was almost like a fan truly meeting a celebrity. Part of Marissa wanted to chastise her son, allowing the girl to act that way and not being forward with her. She should tell her where his heart truly was, instead of letting the poor thing fawn all over him.
“Mistress Strykia?” Came the smooth, calm voice of Marissa’s personal assistant droid, T-3C1. “There is someone here to see you.”
Marissa withdrew from the Force, allowing herself to focus on her surroundings, leaving Dontaine to his teenage flirting. “Yes, of course, Teethree. Send them in.”
The droid motioned to the doorway of the foyer of the apartment and a man with brown hair and a beard appeared. Dressed in the brown and tan rough-spun tunic and pants, covered by a long robe, the man broke into a smile as he rounded the corner and made his way towards Marissa.
Marissa quickly rose to meet the man. “Master Obi-wan Kenobi. This is a surprise.”
Obi-wan stopped in front of Marissa and gave a deep, well-practiced bow. “High Lady Strykia, I’m honored to be in your presence.”
“Stop it.” Marissa blushed and her blue eyes flashed a quick blue glow. “There’s no need for formality here.”
“As you wish, my Lady.” Obi-wan said with a wide smile as he straightened from his bow.
“It’s good to see you, Marissa.” Obi-wan stepped closer and embraced Marissa in a quick hug.
“I’m surprised to see you, Obi-wan.” Marissa said as she broke away from the embrace. She motioned for the Jedi to have a seat near her chair.
“I heard that you had petitioned the Council for a meeting tomorrow when I arrived back on Coruscant a couple of hours ago.” Obi-wan said as he sat down on the couch near Marissa’s chair.
“Yes.” Marissa replied. “I’ve been thinking that it may be time to revisit the issue of the Jinsai and the Jedi merging once again. With all the turmoil going on in the galaxy right now, I think we might be wise to seriously consider it, on both sides.
“The council’s only reservation has always been the Jinsai’s view on personal attachment.” Obi-wan said. “I don’t know if they’ll give much ground on that.”
“I won’t be asking for an immediate merger.” Marissa smiled. “I have a proposition for them concerning two, future Jinsai that may also qualify to be Jedi.”
“They’re not Jinsai yet, but what I want to propose would have them serve as a bridge to unite our two Orders even closer, perhaps laying the groundwork for a unified future.”
“I’m afraid I had a momentary flash of my old master there, trying to change the council on a whim. Who are these two?” Obi-wan asked.
“My twins.” Marissa calmly answered.
“Your twins? Really?”
“Yes.” Marissa responded. “Even at this early age, they show considerable latent talent in the Force.”
“But why your own children?” Obi-wan asked.
“They’re special. I can sense that in them. Plus, I have concerns that the Jinsai way may not totally be the correct path for them. There is more at stake than simply training future Jinsai or Jedi. There is a destiny being woven around them. I can feel it.”
“Now you sound like Qui-Gon.” Obi-wan gave Marissa a sad smile. “I thought you prescribed to the Living Force?”
“I do.” Marissa answered. “Still, I also know that when the Force speaks to us, we should listen. If I can arrange it, the twins could lead the way for our Orders to grow and become one, rather than split into two distinct halves. Qui-Gon mentioned the same thing the last time I saw him. He felt that united the Orders would stand, but if we continued divided, eventually both Orders would fall. He called it a clash of principles. I know he’s right. This has to be done.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Obi-wan said, looking into the distance with introspection. “I wish you luck.”
“Thank you.” Marissa smiled. “I fear that I’ll need all the luck I can get.”
“I stopped only to say hello.” Obi-wan began to stand. “My Padawan and I are due for a debriefing soon. I would enjoy being able to talk again before you leave to return to the Commonwealth, though.”
“My husband might get jealous, but I believe we can call it a date.” Marissa said, a hint of mischievous sarcasm in her voice.
“I look forward to it, then.”
Marissa found herself standing in the middle of the Jedi High Council’s chamber, surrounded by some of the most venerable Jedi of the time. Jedi Grand Master Yoda, Jedi Masters Mace Windu, Plo Koon, Shaak Ti, and Jedi Knight Ki-Adi-Mundi were but some of the names she had come to know personally. As the Jinsai Order’s Consular to the Jedi Order, Marissa had had a fair amount of dealings with the esteemed Jedi.
This meeting was just one that Marissa had been determined to take on. Since she was a young girl, just starting to blossom into the woman that she would become, Marissa had been able to see things through the Force that might happen. It had made her very mindful of her actions and the consequences of those actions. She prescribed to the theory of the Living Force in much the same way that her long dead associate, Qui-Gon Jinn had during his life in the Jedi Order.
More and more, though, Marissa had a feeling that there was something bigger, something much grander, set to happen. The ideology of the Unifying Force seemed to be at work. There appeared to be a destiny that was set to happen. Her visions and dreams that came to her through the Force all pointed to that.
When she discovered the Desmora Prophecy years ago, she felt that she had somehow found the answers to her mysterious visions. The Prophecy only added more mystery and darkness to her visions though. In those visions, a great darkness came and threatened the galaxy. It was only by the hands of twins that the salvation from this great darkness could come. She had bore twins, Graydon and Allyson. They were the first set of twins born within the Commonwealth in many years that had significant abilities in the Force right from the start. They could be the twins mentioned in the prophecy. She knew there was a growing darkness in the galaxy. There were even whispers that the Sith had returned. If that was true, then the twins had to be the ones and they had to be prepared. There had to be unification though. If this prophecy foretold a coming evil that threatened the galaxy, then the Jedi Order and the Jinsai Order had to stand as one.
The issue was the differences in the ideologies of the Jinsai Order and the Jedi Order. The Jedi espoused a doctrine of no emotional attachments. Their focus was on the knowledge of the Force. The Jinsai held attachments, especially to family, as a paramount part of their theology.
The Jinsai had formed a code of honor that put family and relation as an intricate part of their existence. The Jinsai were also focused on maintaining a physical prowess that sometimes exceeded a Jedi. One last thing was that the Jinsai allowed non-Force-sensitives into their Order. The Jedi did not.
So now Marissa stood in front of her contemporaries and was about to ask for the debate on the unification of the Orders. She knew that there were proponents and opponents to this matter on both sides. This was more of a political battle than a ideological one. The how and when of the merger could be worked out later if everything went the way she hoped. Still, she expected resistance, which she knew would happen. She was prepared for that. She had “an ace in the hole” as Dontaine was fond of quoting.
“Master Strykia, you come before us with an intriguing offer.” Master Mace Windu said as the other Council members watched. “For many years, the Jedi have counted on the support of the Jinsai Order in matters of the Force and the security of the Republic. Many of us have had close dealings with your Order and have become well acquainted with you and your fellow associates. There are, however, many reservations that come to mind about this possible unification.”
“I am well aware of the differences that our individual Orders have, Master Windu.” Marissa responded. “Only closed-mindedness and prejudices bar this unification from happening. The Jinsai and the Jedi have both learned from each other over the years since introductions were made during the Great Hyperspace War. We have supported each other in times of need and darkness without reservation. The Antrixian Commonwealth has even joined the Republic as a sovereign state member. The joining of our Orders is only logical at this time.”
“Certain, are you, Master Strykia?” Master Yoda interjected. “Ready are the two sides to become one?”
“Yes, Master Yoda.” Marissa answered. “This is something that we all need to be ready for.”
“Why?” Ki-Adi-Mundi asked in his short, brief, usual style.
Marissa didn’t hesitate, turning to address the Jedi. “It’s no secret among the Jedi and the Gai’din of the Jinsai. There is a growing darkness in the galaxy. The Separatist movement is just part of it. If the Sith have truly returned, then we all need to present a unified front to defeat them yet again.”
“We don’t know that the Sith have returned.” Windu interjected. There was some heat in his voice.
Marissa paused, bowing her head for a moment. When she looked up, she focused on Mace, knowing that going toe-to-toe with one of the strongest Jedi in the whole Order could be foolish, but her determination wouldn’t let her back down. She slowly took two steps forward as she began again.
“Don’t deny it, any of you.” Marissa let the heat creep into her voice also. Her eyes also flared with their blue glow. “There is a darkness that is clouding the Force. It’s growing. I feel it. You all feel it. I want to ensure that a united front stands to oppose this darkness. The Republic is facing a time that is far worse than anything it has faced before. It’s almost as if there’s a storm coming, the likes of which we’ve never seen. If Qui-Gon’s killer was a Sith, it means that they have returned and this darkness is coming with them. We must be prepared!”
The Council was quiet for a time after Marissa finished. Perhaps she had had the desired effect on them. Mace Windu, instead of sitting forward with an arm resting on his leg and other hand free to motion with, had sat back in his chair. He had even cast his eyes downward as Marissa spoke.
“Many truths you have spoken.” Yoda finally broke the silence. “Yet one thing remains: The Jinsai. Are they so ready? To join with us, their ideals they must leave behind.”
“An exception could be made.” Marissa answered. “The Cerean Jedi are allowed to maintain relationships with their family-”
“The Cerean species needs that exception, for the whole of the species.” Master Plo Koon interrupted with his electronic-aided voice. “The Commonwealth will not fall into endangerment because a Force-user from there cannot procreate.”
“Master Strykia… Marissa.” Adi Gallia spoke up. “The Council would like nothing more than to see a unified front from all who serve the Light. But there has to be some give here. The Jinsai, especially the non-Force-sensitives, can maintain the customs and traditions of their forebearers. The ones able to use the Force would have to adopt the practices and codes of the Jedi, although I think they would also be able to still study and practice some of the traditions that do not conflict with our Order’s ways.”
“Perhaps you are right, Master Gallia.” Marissa nearly let her shoulders slump, knowing she was trying to move an immovable wall. “The current Jinsai will not be willing to give up their ways, myself included. Perhaps there is a crossroads, though. A juncture in which everyone could benefit and it could set the precedent for the future.”
It was time to play her “Ace in the hole.” Marissa continued. “My youngest son and daughter are both gifted in the Force. Perhaps we can pave the way for a new era by having them cross-train.”
Marissa watched as each member of the Council turned to look at one and other, surprise on their faces. She knew she had “hooked them,” as Dontaine was also fond of saying.
“It would be a way to begin bridging our differences.” Marissa added. “It could eventually lead to exactly what I propose, all the while strengthening our Orders.”
“This is something that we must discuss and meditate on. Windu responded.
Back at the Senatorial apartment, Marissa stood, discussing the events that had taken place with the Jinsai Tribunal via the holonet. There was definite tension with the Tribunes of the Jinsai Order as they listened to Marissa’s report. The holo images of the Tribunes wavered here and there as they listened. There was concern on each one of their faces.
“The Jedi are unmoving in their stance on the subject.” Marissa concluded.
“I should have guessed that the Jedi wouldn’t budge.” Replied Jinsai Tribune Siras Vypren. “Allied we might be, but philosophically, we are night and day.”
“Wynd, you do know that the people of the Commonwealth will begin saying the same thing as others in the galaxy if this comes to be.” Spoke the second Tribune, Jinsai Master Korin Rystell, addressing Marissa by her Jinsai honor name. “We will be lumped in with them too. We'll be baby snatchers.”
“I know what is at stake, Masters.” Marissa replied. “This is important, though. This is something that has to happen for the greater good. For the protection of everyone and everything.”
“You’re referring to the Desmora texts, aren’t you?” Siras implied.
“Yes.” Marissa didn’t hide what she believed. She couldn’t have answered in any other way, though. Her Jinsai oaths prevented her from speaking untrue words.
“Marissa… You know that you have the full backing of the Tribunal and the Clans.” The Tribune and fellow Gai’din, Master Syrria Fenring, said. “I know you believe that the Prophecy is upon us, but not everyone agrees. You are right, though. This merger would be for the greater good.”
“I did use the offer of cross-training the twins, Graydon and Allyson, as we discussed.” Marissa said. “Perhaps it will buy us some time to approach this matter from a different, more influencing angle.”
“And perhaps the Jedi are too stuck in their ways to be able to move.” Came the voice of Dontaine from behind Marissa. She had forgotten that he was sitting behind her as she addressed the Tribunes. “Is it really any wonder why there are no other major factions of Force-users in the galaxy? The Jedi have smothered them into oblivion because they see their way as the only way.”
“Dontaine!” Marissa scolded.
“I can’t say that I disagree with him, Marissa.” Master Rystell added.
“No, mother.” Dontaine continued. “The Jedi seek to bend everyone that comes near their Order into what they deem as right. The Jinsai Order has survived just as long as they have, using different principles and fighting for the same cause. Now you want to ‘sacrifice’ our own blood, my brother and sister, to let the Jedi have their way.”
Marissa rounded on her son and apprentice. “No! Graydon and Allyson will still serve the Force, regardless if they are Jedi or Jinsai. They will still be your brother and sister! There is more at stake than factions and ideologies!”
“We are at an impasse.” Master Vypren interjected. “It is obvious that there is division among the Jinsai on our course of action. This must be convened until we can all sit down and come to an agreement. When you return, we will call for the masters and the clan leaders to meet and discuss this further.”
(Content still approaching)