Vong War Annals – “We all have secrets” 6.3.2008

    A shiver ran through Jeir Katarn’s body, the kind of shiver that made you want to look over your shoulder to see if someone else was there.  Of course, he wouldn’t…that would be silly to do.  Jeir was sealed in his most secret of places now, facing a life he doubted he could ever share with another person.
    The truth was that a long time ago, Jeir had decided this room belonged to Jinx.  Jinx was the very persona of his dark side, the side that understood evil in a way no one really should.  He told himself lies over and over again to try and bury the feelings, ignore the thoughts and urges he had but when it truly came down to it–to absolute proof he could not deny–it lay in this very room.
    The lighting was low and cold in here, unlike the warm lighting throughout the rest of the castle.  In retrospect he could see that he had done that on purpose, that something inside of him decided to pay this place proper respects.  It should be dark and cold, as that was the very kind of emotion that binded him with everything in here–wasn’t it?  He liked to come in here, he always had…for confirmation usually, though there were the occasional visits of doubt as well.
    A pair of pillars flanked him, three quarters of a cylinder curving out before him lined with shelves.  They had been covered in the same manner as most of the fake stone throughout the castle, shelves made of glass with treasures from hundreds of worlds lining them.  To the would-be thief that somehow managed to get this far in his home, he or she would find themselves a fortune selling the plentiful booty proudly displayed here and never give it a second thought.  Of course, to Jeir the artifacts were meaningless and there only conceal the real purpose of the room.
    Jeir waved his hand towards the right pillar, a simple gesture that was more or less a visual aid that made the movement in the Force any easier or effortless.  Inside the pillar, and powerless junction box had a fuse replaced and the walls slowly lowered into the deck, stopping just high enough off of the floor to serve as a platform to what lay behind them.
    Lightsabers.  There were dozens of lightsabers lining the walls, each given it’s own place with a small holodisk embedded in it’s stand.  Some sections remained empty, waiting to be filled while the center of the eerie display had small boxes rather than display stands.  Jeir knew that there were far more boxes filled than lightsabers he had collected, as not everyone that was strongly attuned to the Force was a Jedi or even knew what a lightsaber was.  
    They were his trophies, his kills.  As a Guardian of the Force–for all he knew the only member of an ancient, secret society–he had hunted hundreds down over the years.  That was the deep, dark secret of the castle’s origins he felt he could never share.  It had served him as a place of meditation and training, so that he could feel those he hunted through the Force across the stretches of the galaxy and slay them.  
    Some were Jedi…Padawans, Knights, even a few Masters that had managed to escape the Great Jedi Purge only by giving in to the very same darkness that sponsored the hunt for their heads.  They had become twisted and evil, killing at their leisure to save themselves no matter the cost.  Palpatine had been absurd to ever think he could truly find and eliminate every single one of them in an entire galaxy, though in many ways he had succeeded in his primary goal–destroying everything the Jedi Order had been.
    It became a more complicated web from there, as many of the tainted Jedi had trained others.  One of the Masters had trained his own order, sending them out like the seeds of evil they were to do his bidding.  Some that they trained were pure, but the training was much like a wildfire…there was no focus, no end goal as to why they trained and without that meaning the Force was little more than a tool for them.  Murderers, rapists, thieves, con artists and home breakers…name a crime, he had hunted down someone that had done it.  Little surprised him.
   Jeir had taken the job too seriously, though…or Jinx, as he liked to think.  Jinx had gone as far as to love the work he did, getting some kind of sick satisfaction out of killing those that had tainted the Force.  It wasn’t hard to find them, through the meditation techniques he had learned from the order’s holocrons he had trained himself how find them.  Often he pictured the Force as this massive piece of fruit, alive and sweet and beautiful in color…and then he would find bruises on it’s skin, discolorations and weak spots that took away from what should be a perfect sight to behold.  So he cleaned the bruises, wiped away the imperfections and dirt that would take away from the fruit’s splendor.
    While he felt some shame and worried what would happen if Kiiara or Les were to learn the truth about him, the fact of the matter was he still felt he was right.  He was doing a service to the galaxy, that he was no villain at all but a hero.  Was that the very sign that he was, indeed, wrong?
    His focus on the scene before him had been so intense and narrow that Jeir barely registered the familiar scuffing of feet behind him, knowing without needing anything but his memory that the old man stood behind him.  How he had found him was the least of his worries, yet it pressed him to the point of being painful.  Panic spread it’s unwelcome grasp on his stomach, and Jeir could feel a tightening in his chest.
    “I can see why you haven’t said anything, now,” Kal’or said.  Jeir turned to see him, Kal’or pulling his helmet off and tucking it under his arm.  He looked Jeir dead in the eye, so direct and true that it begged Jeir to look away and yet he couldn’t all at once.  There was no accusation in his gaze, no judgement, only a kind of unspoken understanding he doubted would ever be vocalized.  Likely a symbol of his good intentions, Kal’or placed his helmet on an empty shelf and stepped past Jeir leaving his back wide open…an offering of trust, as no Mandalorian liked having someone at their back.
    “You’ve killed a lot of them,” Kal’or whispered.  “What is this…sixty, seventy lightsabers?”
    “Eighty two,” Jeir replied.  The numbers were always burned into his skull.
    “I take it the boxes are for targets that didn’t have a lightsaber?”
    Jeir nodded, knowing Kal’or didn’t need the confirmation.  It had been more of a statement from the other than a question, he thought.  “They always have something to take.”
    Kal’or turned, leaning his rear end against the lower shelf and putting his hands on his thigh armor.  “Are these bounties?”
    “No,” Jeir said.  “Just bad peo…beings.  Bad beings.”  He swallowed hard.  “They all had it coming to them, some longer overdue than others is all.”
    “Hey, Jer’ika,” the man said, the term of endearment easing the shaking in Jeir’s hands.  “I’m no judge nor jury, son.  You’re a good man by my accord, I’ve seen you fight and I’ve seen how you think.  You can never know another better in a hundred years than you can going through one firefight with them, and we’ve been through quite a few already.  I’ll admit…I haven’t always been that trusting of you…you’ve always had a big secret, I’m guessing this one, and I tend not to like it when someone I’m around likes to hide in the dark.”
    “Not exactly the kind of thing you run around telling someone, you know?”
    Kal’or shrugged.  “Mando’ade brag about kills like it’s our currency.  Especially Jedi–no offense–one of the most significant and dangerous opponents a warrior can face.  If you ask me, that’s why Mandalorians and Jedi have been on opposite sides of wars so many times in the past…we savor that kind of fight.  So, by my book…I’d say you have built yourself a little something to be proud of here.”
    “Ha!” Jeir laughed, before realizing how much he sounded like Kal’or doing that.  “You never cease to amaze me, old man.”
    Kal’or grinned.  “Well, suffice to say the feeling is mutual.”

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