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"It's weird. Every time I try going for a swim in the ocean this weird force keeps me from going in..." - Random Corellian Citizen - What is this weird phenomenon? Find out on tonight's "Strangeness".

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Author Topic: The Hope of Alderaan  (Read 1296 times)


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The Hope of Alderaan
« on: August 01, 2011, 10:46:52 PM EDT »

He had been here so long that the subtle movement startled him.  How long had it been?  Minutes, hours, days?  Cymbeline’s muscles were beyond cramping; sweat had flowed, dried and flowed again. “So, this is how it all ends”, Cymbeline thought.  The Silverstar bloodline reduced to bankruptcy in a single dastardly betrayal.  “I wonder where Father and Mother are.  Are they safe?  Did they make it out of the city in time?”

There – that subtle movement again.  In the distance Cymbeline (his friends called him Cym) heard the scraping of large permacrete section as they slid against each other.  Despite his concentration, Cym felt his heart pick up intensity and the flowing sweat returned.  Concentration was very difficult now, both body and mind tired, exhausted, expended.  Again the scraping, distant but steady.

Cym’s mind turned to the two younglings on the very small space of street underneath him.  They were unconscious.  Hopefully, they were sleeping.  The other possibilities were too heartrending to contemplate right now.  Cym remembered everything, it seemed like it had happened in slow motion.  First there were the alarm klaxons, then the whine of the fighter/bombers as they overflew the city and unleashed their ordinance on the unsuspecting people.  We had been told a delegation was arriving to discuss business with the Alderaan high council.  Only as panic and fear spread through the city did we come to understand what kind of business the delegation had desired to discuss.

Cym had been separated from his parents.  His father had opened the family armory and dressed in battle armor to join the Democratic Guardsman and defend the city.  His mother had gone to the high council chambers where she served as a translator.  His father had told Cym to start for the university where Cym was studying and follow the instructions given to the other students.  That was the last Cym had seen of his parents.  It was also where he had encountered the two youngling charges on the street.  Cym assumed that they had also been on the way to their school and emergency shelter.

As they scrambled across his path, a bomber’s ordinance had hit one of the nearby buildings.  Large chunks of permacrete began to collapse into the street.  Building leaned upon building and collapse triggered collapse.  As a collection of rubble fell, the two younglings were on a trajectory to meet the rubble as it hit the street.  Without any thought or hesitation, Cym ran towards the two and leaped to attempt to cover and protect them.  As the rubble first hit Cym’s back, he understood that none of them would survive this.  He was angry at the circumstances and the waste - the waste of the youngling’s lives, the destruction of the beauty and serenity of the city of Arkenschluss, and the waste of Cym’s efforts in protecting the younglings.  Then the thought formulated and solidified.  They would not die.  Cym would find some way to save them.

The younglings were knocked to the street by the downward momentum of the rubble on Cym’s back pushed Cym to the ground.  As Cym put out his hand and knees, he thought how foolish it was to think that bracing on hands and needs would stop the rubble.  Then he gritted his teeth and determined that his limbs would hold back the crushing weight of the falling buildings.  To his utter shock and amazement, they did.  So he had been here, like this, ever since.  Thinking that to move, to even think about moving would somehow disturb the delicate balance which had been miraculously achieved.

But the now nearer and more persistent scraping of the rubble against itself sought to disturb Cym’s concentration.  Cym closed his eyes (nothing to see here anyway) and tried to focus his thoughts on holding his position.  The scraping grew louder, faster, ever more persistent.   A sudden, small wisp of air moved through the small enclosed space almost creating sensory overload.  There were so many smells in that once small segment of air, so many temperature variations.  More scraping.

Then it was done.  A large section of rubble, which had pressed against Cym’s back, was suddenly gone.  The rapid change in airflow and light was almost painful.  The effort Cym had been applied to the rubble directly above him, and now gone, expressed itself in almost lifting Cym completely off the ground.  Still suspicious, Cym remained focused on his young charges, lest any disturbed piece of permacrete being shaken loose would fall and erase all his effort.  But the pieces were floating away from them, just floating away.  Unbelievable, Cym thought, though all that had transpired seemed equally so.  Assuring that the younglings were in no danger, Cym carefully pulled himself up to his knees.  Wow, did every muscle and sinew complain at that decision.

There she was.  A single human female directing the movement of the large pieces of rubble away from them, moving the rubble as if it were permafoam and not permacrete.  No, that wasn’t right either; she was doing this without any direct contact with the rubble.  How could this be?  Cym forgot about the screaming of his body and attempted to stand. 
“Do not bother”, she stated, “I will not be offended if you do not greet me. You have been through much today”.

A republic trooper moved to her side and consulted with her.  He looked like he had been in a horrific battle.  His armor was scarred and pockmarked, black from explosive charge it appeared.  She spoke to him and he moved towards a group of soldiers and civilians to direct their recovery efforts.  Then the woman moved towards Cym.  He was frozen, transfixed.  Her beauty and grace of movement flowed outward from what could only be an abundance of inner strengthen and character.  Cym looked at his two charges.  They were stirring, revived by the fresh air flowing into the street where they lie.

“It was a courageous thing which you have done, Cymbeline Silverstar”

“How is it that you know my name?  Did my family send you to find me?  Have we met at another time?”

“Neither.  Your expenditure of force energy called to me and helped me to locate you”

“I will admit that it took all my efforts to hold the rubble back, but I have done much strength training in my preparations at the university.”

She shook her head.  “Are you unaware of the Force?”

“If you mean the energy that Jedi use to defend the galaxy, I have heard of it.  Was that what you were using just then to remove the rubble?”

“You truly do not understand what has just happened, do you?  Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Satele Shan.  I am a Jedi.  This same force was coursing through you and I sensed your position, your predicament and your name.  Surely you were aware that you were using the Force, that you had created a pocket of Force energy which kept the rubble from crushing the three of you into the street?”

“I was not aware”, Cym stated in contrition.  “I have never used this Force that you speak of and other than the stories told to me, have no knowledge of any ability I have towards it or any principles of its use.”  Yet, replaying the scene through his mind he began to see certain events more clearly.  The rubble had not actually been touching his back, for example, even though it exerted it gravity against Cym normally and the weight of it had been very real.  Cym was able to suppose that his brain had been screaming for help, even if he had not felt the ability to divert his attention from holding the rubble up long enough to actually scream.  His laser focus on protecting the children at all costs.

“You begin to see now how the Force was deployed and how it assisted your efforts in saving these children”, Satele said softly.  “Your mind begins to understand how your first conception of how events occurred is too narrow and without the constant pressure of protecting the children your mind is free to consider the full reality of what had just come to pass.”

Everything Satele was saying was true.  But now, the amazement of that discovery was being blasted aside by other sights and sounds.  The city, once beautiful, serene, and pleasant had been reduced to a disaster holo-vid of itself.  Buildings were still at risk, rescuers were working throughout the city to locate and save additional people.  Men and women were shouting orders to move equipment and rubble, others were screaming in pain and wandering aimlessly through burning streets.   The wind was moving in erratic and powerful ways as the flames created huge updrafts and other air move in rapidly to replace the vacuum created.

In just that short a time, Cym’s composure crumbled, bombed like the city had been targeted.  His thoughts turned to his parents.  Where were they now?  Were they safe?  Were they dead?  What about these young ones?  What about credits?  Were the banks even open?  Were there even any stores open?  Was there food and water?  Fear began to grip Cym’s thoughts; his body started shaking violently as it reacted to the extreme exhaustion brought on by the ordeal.

“You must regain your composure”, Satele instructed softly. “Combat the fear which is rising within you.  Fight it back as you fought against the weight of the building.  Make your fear a small thing, do not let it gain advantage.”

Her voice was so calm, her face so serene.  How could anyone be so calm in the midst of this tragedy?  Slowly, Cym felt the anger rise at the ones who had brought this destruction to his home planet.  “I will find them and make them pay”, he muttered.

“Neither give place to anger, for the dark side of the Force desires such as will be ruled by their anger.  That is not your path.  If you would fight for those whom you love, you must train to defend them to the best of your capability.  Our enemies are neither weak nor ignorant, as this attack has demonstrated.  They are calculating, cold and ruthless.  To meet them and survive, you must have sufficient training to provide balance to their hate and anger.  It is within you to do this, but you must decide that you are willing to devote your life to this calling.  Are you prepared to do this?”

It is so amusing how we come to our decisions.  Satele was so calm, so certain of her words and her direction.  She looked into Cym’s eyes and it was as if she could look into his very heart.  She seemed capable of knowing what he could and could not do, along what course his destiny lay.  Cym looked back into her eyes.  Could it really be that simple?  He looked at her hard, no there did not appear to be even a hint of guile or deception there.  Then it was over, decided.  “Yes”, Cym offered. “I am willing to prepare to do this.”

“That is an excellent answer Cymbeline Silverstar.  You are right to say that you are not prepared, and to admit that you will need to do so.  To begin, let us find caregivers for these young ones.”

The younglings!  How could he have forgotten them when they were the reason he was even here speaking with Satele.  Cym looked down.  The children were sitting up, alert and by the looks of things, hungry.  How long had they been underneath the rubble?  It seemed that was a question for another day.  Satele was speaking with the children now, getting information from them as to where their school was located.  After she had the information, the four of them started out to deliver the children to the school.  The administrators there would know how to contact family and next of kin.

Cym had supposed that after the children’s care was secured, he should travel with Satele.  He discovered that as she had been since their meeting, she continued to be full of surprises.  They walked for a time and Satele made her way back to the trooper to whom Cym had seen her speaking on the street.  The more that Satele spoke, the more calm Cym felt.  In the middle of such devastation and chaos, inside he felt a return to the serenity of the city prior to the attack.  As they continued walking, she began speaking to Cym about the Force.  Cym surely did not understand everything she was saying, but from time to time a certain phrase would call to his mind an image and he knew the truth behind the concept.

As they approached what Cym supposed to be her ship, she turned and spoke.
“We will part for now, Cymbeline Silverstar.  But I have this to give you.  It is called Malastare Madness.  When you have solved it, find me and we will see if you are ready to prepare.”
The object which Satele handed to Cym was an eight-sided orb.  On each of the eight faces, there were eight octagons.  Each of the octagons was a different color and had a different number.  Each of the eight faces had the same eight colors, yet the number inside a color on one face could be inside a different color on the next face.

“You must arrange the octagon so that only one color is on each face and each color contains only one number”, Satele explained.  Cym began to think about how to move the numbers to a uniform color and how then to move all the same colors to a single face. “You must stop thinking and start studying”, Satele stated.  “You must allow the answers to come to you.”  With that, Satele turned, boarded her ship and was gone. Cym sat on the sidewalk, and began to study.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 08:03:45 PM EDT by CymStar »
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Re: The Hope of Alderaan
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2013, 06:30:38 PM EST »

                                         Chapter 2 – Malastare Madness

Learning often comes in snippets.  Those “ah-ha” moments when the conscious recognizes what the spirit or body has already concluded.  So it was with Cym.  As he worked with the octagon which Satele had given him, he was giving in to feelings of disgust.  He had tried to move the sections of the puzzle to the alignment Satele required, but found the segments as stiff as permacrete.  “How am I supposed to align the sections?” he thought to himself as he tossed the puzzle on the furniture.

The time since his meeting with Satele on Alderaan had been a busy mix of business, trying to make some return to order out of the chaos which had been the result of the Empire’s attack.  There were the immediate issues of police reports, identification of the deceased, getting orphaned children to safe locations.  There were the mundane issues of re-establishing bank accounts, finding living quarters, trying to determine university student status.  Then there were the geopolitical issues – Alderaan’s houses became divided.  There were accusations of collaboration with the Empire, betrayals, and there were even divisions within houses.
Cym had worked his way back to the family estate at House Crystal.  As he re-entered the house for the first time since he had gone off to university, he was disheartened by the amount of damage the house had sustained.  He had supposed that, being in the country, it should have escaped damage.   Maybe the damage was not a direct result of bombardment, but the obvious damage to windows, the obvious absence of key pieces of art and other valuables told the clear story of what opportunity the attack had given for Alderaanian citizens to show their worse natures.

Cym called out for the servants, for his parents, for his siblings.  He was rewarded with silence.  He went to his room, where his devastation continued.  Key heirlooms which had been given him were gone.   Artwork and valuable jewelry and technology, all were missing.  “So”, Cym thought, “I have been moved from affluence to poverty in one swift blow”.  Somehow the loss of the things did not hurt as much as the loss of the people, the relationships built over a short lifetime.  There was nothing to be done for it.

Cym started a methodical search of the house.  He was able to come up with sufficient credits for a month’s rent, some clothing and a few pieces of technology.  Not much, but at least he could start his pauper’s existence with a month in new living quarters.  It was time to leave Belleau-a-Lir and return to the capital, Aldera, and find an apartment.  Cym was exiting the apartment when he heard a voice behind him.

“You look like you may have found something we overlooked.  Hand it over kindly and you can be on your way”.  Cym turned slowly to face the voice.  Correction - voices, Cym smirked to himself as he completed his turn.  Several disheveled men and women were huddled in a group.  The leader appeared to have availed him of one of the family’s blasters.

“How long have you been watching me?” Cym asked.

“Ever since you arrived”, answered the leader. “We always watch for returning members of House Crystal, because they know where everything is”.

Cym could feel the anger rising inside.  “You have plundered this great house and now seek to take even the pittance I discovered of your incomplete search?”

“That would be the general idea, Cymbeline Silverstar”, stated the leader.

“How did you know my name?” Cym answered, offended.

“Come, come, now Master Silverstar.  Do you suppose that any direct descendant of House Crystal would somehow be unknown to anyone in Belleau-a-Lir?  Well, I guess being the youngest; you may not yet have fully discovered how the galaxy works.  Now, are you going to deliver that bounty nicely, or will I need to bury you with the others?”

“It does not belong to you, and I will not give it to you.  Further, I require that you surrender anything which you have taken to date!”

“Well, have it your way” sneered the leader.  He lifted the blaster, pointed it straight at Cymbeline’s head and started to apply pressure to the trigger.  The man was as started as Cym when another blaster bolt came in from his left and blasted the barrel off the business end.
“I suggest that you leave, before I get angry”, spoke a familiar voice from the outside door.  The leader, weaponless, seemed to also have lost his bravado.  The pillagers scattered.  Obviously, nothing more than local riff-raff, Cym thought.  Cym turned to look at the man entering the door and recognized his brother Stanton Silverstar.

“I am so glad to see you, brother”.  Cym walked briskly over to him and they exchange a brotherly hug. “Where are Father and Mother, our other brother and sister, the servants?”
“Cymbeline” Stanton began, “no one is left.  Father has suffered greatly from injuries.  We have him off to an imperial doctor, who is knowledgeable of cybernetics. But I have not seen or spoken to him since.  Aganon has left Alderaan, taken as a slave by some of the attackers.  Berel’s location is unknown, I have had no communication with her or Mother.”

“We need to begin to put our house back in order, to establish a base of operations from which to work”, Cym decided.

Stanton placed his hands on both of Cym’s shoulders.  “No, Cym, you do not yet understand.  House Crystal has been ransacked, destroyed.  Our political enemies have taken the opportunity of the attack to destroy our property, our reputations, our resources and our political connections.  We no longer have friends here.  I am no longer Stanton Silverstar, call me McTavish.  I have cobbled together enough credits to purchase a small freighter and I am eventually to take a load of blasters to Ord Mantell.  You need to give yourself another name and get off the planet.  We need to ultimately connect with the rest of our family.  Once we can connect, collect sufficient resources, then we can discuss returning to House Crystal and setting things right.  But it won’t be now.  Those pillagers will be back with reinforcements.”
“I hear you brother.  I have enough money to return to Aldera.  I will live there one month, while I try to sort out my next step.  I have had a Jedi Master tell me that I have a connection to the Force.  Perhaps that is where my next steps lead.”

“Well, the Jedi Temple is on Corusant.  Maybe you can find work there.”

After some further discussion, McTavish gave Cym a ride to Aldera on his speeder.  They exchanged goodbyes and Cym went looking for an apartment.  He was fortunate, and found a place within a day, for an affordable price.  Not knowing how to come up with another name, Cym just took the beginning of his first name and the last part of his last name.  He signed the lease Cymstar CrystalStryder.

That was over a week ago.  He had no job, no income and was also running out of ideas.  He had spent a lot of time trying to solve the Malastare Madness puzzle.  That, at least, kept his mind from fear.  He walked over to the window, again reviewing the last conversation he had with McTavish.  Suddenly, he decided.  Cym would travel to Corusant and try to re-establish contact with this Satele person.  Maybe she could tell Cym how he could train in this Force business.  Yes, that is exactly what he would do.  He reviewed what credits he had remaining.  It should be enough.

Cym returned his attention to the octagon.  Three of the sections were now in the correct place.  Cym was amazed – then he got it.  The puzzle represented the insanity of trying to guess all of the possibilities the future held.  Of course the puzzle could not be solved by pushing the sections from one place to another, any more than a person could know with certainty what the future would hold for them.  But a person could decide a plan of action.  Putting that plan into place would eliminate some future possibilities and solidify others. Yes, that was the answer. Cym looked at the orb as pieces four and five move themselves into place.

Cym worked through the night meditating on the orb, thinking about the possibilities.  As he worked through a course of action, each of the remaining pieces aligned themselves with their proper position.  The puzzle was solved.  Cym could go to Satele Shan having finished the assignment he had been given.

Cym set about finding people who could get him to Corusant.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2013, 08:06:39 PM EDT by CymStar »
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