Star Wars: The Old Republic Story Intro

War…it is all I know, all I ever knew, sometimes I believe.  From the earliest of my memories, to the current day, it is often all I can remember.  The struggle, the pain, the intoxication of victory, the bitter pain of defeat.  Yes, this bittersweet cocktail is the galaxy I know.  With the state of affairs as they are, I shall drink deep for many days to come.

 

Perhaps I should begin some time ago, when this all began, or at least, the earliest I can remember.  I was a street urchin on the sand-covered streets of Halm.  I know not what happened to my parents, as from the earliest of my memories, there was just me.  There were others around, certainly.  Halm sits at a nexus of trade routes running resources from the Outer Rim back toward the core worlds.  I heard some later call it a jewel in that black sea, but to those who live on it, it’s nothing but a dusty rock full of traders, mercs, and drugs.  People washed up there all the time, much like Nar Shaddaa.  Only difference is that kids you won’t find any child on Nar Shaddaa, at least, not one left alone.  They’d be gone in minutes.  On Halm, we were seen as little more than a pack of feral dogs, clawing at any scraps mistakenly left out.  We sifted through garbage, we growled and hissed at one another, and as soon as the law came, we scattered like roaches.  I suppose you could say we really were nothing but a pack of feral animals.  But he saw something different in me.  The orange light of the twin suns set differently on my eyes, he said.  I hadn’t a clue what he meant at the time, I was merely happy to be alive.  After all, a moment before, he had nearly killed me.

 

It was just another blistering hot day, and the scraps were light, so we were picking every trader that passed by, hoping to score enough for something to eat.  It was hot, and we were hungry, so we were sloppy and increasingly desperate.  It was then that I likely made the greatest mistake of my life.  He looked like an old trader, maybe a retired diplomat.  He wasn’t dressed that well, just covered in a brown robe and hood.  There was something on his face that spoke differently though.  It was a pride, something you didn’t seen in the cutthroats and shifty-eyed duggards who frequented the area.  The moment I reached for the edge of his belt, I knew something was off.  I could feel it all around me, almost like a physical hand pulling me away.  I listened, and that was the only reason that orange light that flew past didn’t sever my hand off.  He flew at me faster than I ever had seen anyone move before.  But…I could feel him…his movements, his presence.  It was not a completely unknown feeling to me.  Long had I felt something with me, guiding my hands when I stole to live, covering the eyes of those who would pursue me.  I knew how to move to get what I wanted, I knew how to move to remain unseen.  I know not how I knew, only that I did.  Never had I thought much of it until this moment, where my very life was at stake.  He showed no surprise at the agility with which I moved, nor faltered when each of his strokes met with air.  It was only when a stone, unseen, unfelt came from my right side and struck my head did I lose my footing, and fall before him.  His blade quickly fell upon me, but the blow never came.  He merely stood there, watching me, studying me with his blade at my throat.  I know not what he was looking for, as I had nothing.  I was empty.

“Dost thou not feel fear, child?”

“Fear?”  I muttered between dry, cracked lips.  “What have I to fear?  I have nothing, I am nothing.”

“Then I will mold you into something.  Something I need.  Perhaps something this galaxy needs.”

He withdrew his blade, and walked away.  I, having nothing else, followed him.  I was his, after all, for I had nothing else.

 

He trained me to use that feeling, that presence that had always existed around me.  The Force, he called it.  I cared not for naming it, but a name it had, and so it was.  Most children, he later explained, had difficulty connecting with the force, as they only believed in what they could see with their own two eyes.  I, however, never had to believe in such a thing.  It was always there, I merely never understood what it was.  The farther I delved into it, the more I began to think that perhaps, I was never really alone.  It was always there by my side, silently whispering whenever I truly needed it.  My master’s teaching methods were brutal, even for one raised such as I, but he would say that metal does not become strong unless forged in fire.  And forged I was, into what he ‘needed’.  It had no titles, no mark of distinction, I only was what I was, and that was all either of us ever needed.

 

Where conflict existed, my master saw purpose.  Not for justice, not for glory, not for greed, nor even for bloodshed.  Conflict was the flames in which souls were forged.  The absence of it only led to decay, to withering.  Complete peace, in his view, was akin to death, albeit a slow, declining one.  He was not, however, a warmonger.  Where conflict did not exist, he did not stir it into being, he merely sought it out elsewhere.  Wherever two beings exist, he would say, conflict will most undoubtedly exist as well.  The lull between moments of conflict was meant for study, for analyzing the past conflict, for meditation, for healing of wounds.  Only then would you be prepared for the inevitable conflict to come.  With each victory came knowledge, and that was the greatest trophy.  Knowledge, when examined and understood, countered every failure suffered, such that it would never happen again.  The pain that defeat brought was so bitter as to drive one to examine the loss entirely, and understand it as well, that it would never happen again.  All of it was one driving force, spiraling ever upward, leading to unseen heights of power that I could only dream of.

 

It was not a journey completely of self-interest, however.  No man is an island, I’ve heard some say before.  My master would have scoffed at such a concept, but he knew well the power of bonds, of alliances, of moving people, equipment, even political forces in your favor.  Even when we were victorious, and the spoils of war were laid before us, my master would only take what we would need, and have the rest divided equally among the people.  He had little use for mercy or perhaps even love, though he knew well of their purpose and power.  He was always driving himself to become better, but he was always just in his dealings with others.  Those who transgressed offenses would be punished.  Those who oppressed would be put to the torch, not because he was a liberator, but because the oppressors were gluttons of greed and self-indulgence.  Wiping them out would pave the way for much greater men of all races to follow.  He encouraged others to follow his path in their own way, and relished the opportunity when others would pursue a challenge against him, as it was yet another test of his great power.  Many he let live, that they might heal, improve, and return to him face him again.  If he decided they would become a thorn in his plans, then they did not leave the place where they fought.

 

My master said at one time he called himself ‘Jedi’, but left the Order years ago when he could no longer stand how soft they had become.  They did well, he had said, to take the sufferings of others onto themselves, but never capitalized on the growth and potential that path offered.  Still, he harbored no grudge against them, and held many in high respect, very high praise from a man who scant offered such words to his only pupil.

 

Still, I pursued the path he set before me, and when the time came, I took up that blade of light, the same color that I saw that day, the same as the suns what once was my home.  I was what he needed, whatever that might be.

 

Eventually, that day came.  Reports from the Outer Rim of armies marching on worlds, conquering or annihilating everything in their path.  My master relished the opportunity.  Finally, conflict would return to this idle galaxy, and with it, all would be forged in that heat.  Yet he was no observer, he would play no idle role in the conflict to come, this we both knew.  Where his blade would rest, however, was yet undetermined.  The Sith, as they called themselves, swept through the Outer Rim, to the Mid Rim like a cloud of locusts.  Despite their power, my master was unimpressed.  ‘A band of thugs and brigands, slaves to their desires, self-indulgent in their own ways’ is how he described them.  It was not long after that Imperial Agents approached him and ‘encouraged’ my master to join their side.

 

Not one of them left alive.

 

Yet another one came, this one far more subdued than the others.  He approached my master and asked him what it would take for my master to join their side.

 

“True strength.”  My master replied.

“Very well.” The reply came.  “Give me three days, and you shall have it.”

 

Three days later, reports came through of a Mandalorian armada, the largest seen since the end of the Mandalorian Wars appeared, blockading the main trade routes to the core worlds.  In one move, the core worlds were now slowly starving to death.

 

The agent returned, yet still, my master was unimpressed.

“They will break it.”  He replied.  The agent tried to convince him otherwise, but my master would not be swayed.  “If they do not, then I will join you.  If they do,” My master drew his blade as he spoke, “then I shall have your head.”  The agent, surprisingly unphased by the threat, accepted the terms and left.  A few months later, my master and I were on a planet close enough to see the battle take place as the blockade was broken.  The agent returned, much to my surprise.  Showing him the result, my master then stated that the agent would hold up his end of the bargain.

 

“Certainly,” The agent told him, “however, as I know you are unconvinced, the Emperor himself wishes to show you what you seek, that you might be swayed to our side.  Either way, I will honor my deal to you.”

 

My master pondered for a long time, but apparently he found the offer enticing.  Perhaps it was some other reason why, as my master never explained his decision, but only accepted the agent’s offer.  Together we travelled to a ship far beyond the Outer Rim, into the unknown reaches, where we beheld the largest ship I had ever seen.  It was less a ship, I suppose, but more a mobile fortress, a space station the size of a small moon.  An endless sea of soldiers filled every corner of the station.  Many wore the armor of Mandalorians, others wielded the same sabers as my master and I.  We were taken to an area in the station’s core to a causeway devoid of soldiers, sounds, even life.  It was there on that path that my master left me.

 

“Thou wilt not go further than this.” My master instructed me.  “For what lies ahead, I need thou not to behold, not yet.”  And so I stood waiting.  It was but a short time later that he returned, yet he was not the master I knew.  He was shaken, his will broken, his countenance devoid of the pride I had seen for years.  He stumbled past me, not even noticing my presence.

 

“My master,” I called out to him, “what has happened?”  I called to him, but dare not touch him.  I learned that that day, years before.  He turned and looked at me blankly, his mouth forming around words that never came.  I finally asked, “Master, what is it you intend to do?”

 

His mouth shook as he stuttered out, “Serve.  It is all any of us can do.”  Such groveling words I had never beheld out of my master.  Perhaps another, lesser man, when my master bested him.  But no, this was my master, or at least, what was left of him.  He walked on and I turned back to the black expanse from whence he came, completely at a loss of what he had witnessed in that chamber, before this Emperor of the Sith.  We left the station, the same agent that led us there saw us off to our departure, his head still very much his own.  We arrived at the Sith front days later, and my master commenced to feverishly construct battle plans for the commanders’ use.  He scurried with a pace that was unknown to me, driven as if death itself was crowing on his back.  I tried to stop him once, to aid him one more, and I never tried either again.  My master was lost to me.  He only ever knew of the conflict before him, and even after, that was all his focus was.  But this was something else entirely.  He was lost to the galaxy around him and to I.  Perhaps, I thought but once, even to the Force.  It was after he drew up the plans for an attack on Coruscant itself that they finally came.  All Sith turn on each other eventually, I had heard once before.  I had held it as true before that day, but even still, it came as a surprise.  As they charged into the building in which we were staying, I had little time to usher my master and I from that place.  They appeared as locusts from every corner, from every hole, every rooftop.  Our only possible escape, I knew, would be our ship at the dock.  It was, after all, the only vessel left in the sector that wasn’t directly controlled by the Sith themselves.  They were not fools, however.  They knew this just as well as I.  As we arrived at the port, they were waiting.

 

The first three blaster shots I managed to deflect.  The third coursed across my shoulder, making my right arm fall limp as I fell to a knee.  The fourth, the one that would slay me, I knew, would be close behind.   However, it never came.  As I looked up, my master stood with his back to me, his saber raised.  I saw it once more on his face.  The pride on his countenance, it shown like a sun against the coming of the night.  With the swing of one hand, the entire throng before us was blown to the winds, and fell in heaps across the area..

 

“Go.” He spoke flatly.  “You are what I need.  And what I need of you right now,”  He turned to face me, his eyes blazing with that same orange light as his blade, “is to live.”  I tried to protest, but he raised a hand I was flung towards the ship, skittering across the metal floor.  As I picked myself up, I could hear them.  Footsteps, a countless number of them, seemingly coming from every direction.  “Go, my child.  It is time for you to become what you need to be.”  I nodded and raced into the ship and started the engine.  I called out to him over the speaker as the door beyond him began to glow with the heat of torches burning through it.  “How many times must I tell you, child?  I told you to go!”  He raised a hand and the entire ship began to shudder and rise from the ground.  I barely had time to buckle myself into the pilot’s seat before the ship rose and was flung into the sky.  The ship spun round as I raised the landing gear and prepared to depart, the flashing lights of blaster fire screeching across the ground.  Among them a single orange light glowed, unyielding through the mass, burning like a sun into the night.  I righted the craft and punched the engines as hard as they would go, as a sea of lights began following me.  They danced around the craft as I deftly lurched it to and fro.  Quickly I found myself in the midst of a battle between Republic defenders and Sith attackers.  The ship and my pursuers got caught amidst the crossfire, striking the ship several times.  My ship managed to limp out from the chaos, my pursuers were not nearly so lucky.

 

I nursed the ship to the nearest free port in time to hear about the armistice the Sith had forced the Republic into signing.  A dirty deal by anyone’s standards, but few rules truly exist in open war.  My master taught me that.  And so I sat pondering, as I watched other ships limp into port, every mouth rending more stories of the Sith’s atrocities, and the horrors they wrought.  Yet still, I know not what my master asked of me that day.  ‘Become what I need to be.’  I have thought it over so many times, yet still cannot define what that is.  As I listen to more people come through port, some describe the heroics of the Republic forces, and all the good they stand for.  Others denounce the Republic as a bloated, broken bureaucracy that should be abolished.  I know my master would never settle for the chains of red silk he would be bound in within such a system, but on the same token, he would find what the Sith are doing as repulsive as I.  So I sit and ponder as I find myself returned to the point from which I began:  alone, save for the Force, the only thing that has always been by my side.  Even as I sat, I knew what my choice would be, only that it would be a matter of time before I followed it.  I know not which side I will follow into battle, but I will fight.  For war is all I know.  It is everything I am.  In it, there is purpose.  What purpose, one might ask.

 

Whatever I need it to be.

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