The Crystal

Draco Maligo

11-11-2007 21:37:44


JH Draco Maligo(Krath)/TYR/Qel-Droma of Arcona

As a child growing up I had read a lot of adventure stories and had seen many holonet flicks, but none had captivated me as much as the tales of the Jedi and the Sith. I especially enjoyed the scenes of desperate lightsaber battles between capable foes intent on killing each other. I suppose most of the fictions were bantha fodder, but they fueled a young boy’s imagination and stoked his dreams.

Ever since the Dark Brotherhood discovered me I coveted my own lightsaber. Whenever I thought of quitting because the training regimen was too tough I imagined having my own saber and graduating to the ranks of the equites. Oh, I know the lightsaber is only a symbol, a tool, a weapon, and that the real power in the universe is the Force, but it is also a badge of rank. A milestone on the way to mastery, a graduation from childhood to adolescence, if you will.

So when I reached the rank of Jedi Hunter I was within grasping distance of my own saber. Each Jedi, light and dark, builds his own and designs it himself. Including the use of the focusing crystal which gives the blade its power, and color. At first I was certain I’d use a furnace and create a synthetic crystal, to give me the red blade I desired. But then I started thinking and headed to the archives to research all the possibilities.

All my life I’d been a loner, and I decided I wanted a crystal that was rare and unique. Certainly a red-bladed saber would signify something, but there were many other choices. I immediately rejected the typical Adegan crystals and concentrated my search toward something few others had achieved. After a lengthy search and a quiet time of meditation and inner contemplation I decided on a lava crystal.

Not as rare as some other choices, like corusca gems or krayt dragon pearls, still it would require traveling to a planet that had active volcanoes and digging up the required material. The alchemist told me that my quest would be a difficult one, as finding the requisite crystal would entail untold hours of digging in dead volcanoes, unless I traveled to an active site, siphoned off molten magma, and used the Force to crystallize the carbon atoms into a latticework that would be something useable, and powerful.

Powerful. I know that one of the first things a Jedi, whether light or dark, learns is to let go his ego to fully immerse himself in the Force, but I have to admit the thought of a more powerful crystal for my first saber made my heart beat faster. The alchemist taught me how to construct a crystal kiln, advised me on how to build a siphon that would not melt under the extreme heat of a volcano’s pit, and how to use the Force to manipulate matter on a molecular scale.

I tried to stem the tide of panic that wafted up through my soul. This was a big job, more difficult than I imagined. But then again, learning new and powerful techniques would help me to become a stronger Jedi. When I first came to the campus on Deneba I breezed through my initial lessons on using the Force. The masters there told me that it wouldn’t always be so easy. It was my ego that tried to get me to accept an easier crystal to obtain, fearing failure. I had to banish my fear of failure, of looking bad, if I was to succeed and grow. A recurring lesson for me, and perhaps for many other Force-users as well.

There were numerous planets and moons that had active volcanoes where I could find what I was seeking, but I chose Kalakar VI, a moon in the outer rim. It was a dark side nexus, and had been occupied by the Sith Empire. What better place to visit! Once my master gave his permission I signed out a Tie Scout from the spaceport master and set my sights for the Dromund system.

Counter-intuitively a lightsaber is, at its heart, a spiritual item. It is a vastly powerful tool, well used by Jedi for millennia, but what enables its creation is a strong connection to the Force. To empower the crystals and align them so the weapon works. When a Jedi builds his saber, it is the only possession that is truly his. Light-side Jedi are taught to renounce all personal possessions, save that. It is a part of him, infused with his Force essence.

So when I locked my ship into orbit around the moon I closed my eyes and meditated. I felt immediately the powerful dark side aura of the orb and drank in its heady quaff. I probed deeper into the swirling vortex of the Force, feeling out the best path I should trod for what I sought. For moments I didn’t feel any type of guidance, but the subtle and gradually increasing nudge I eventually intuited induced me to set down near a medium-sized cone belching black and gray smoke skyward, and producing basso ground quakes as the magma rumbled up through subterranean tunnels from the core of the moon.

The air was oppressively hot and choking sulfurous fumes seeded with dust and ash swirled around me as I popped the canopy. I slipped on a breather, gathered my gear, and leapt from the ship. The ground was black and rocky, cool enough to walk on but the recently solidified lava was still hot enough to scorch my shoes. I climbed the smoldering slope of the volcano, sweat pouring off me as I neared the summit.

As I crested the rim of the cone I could see the roiling, black-topped orange goo that oozed and bubbled several meters beneath my slowly roasting flesh. I used the Force to push back the wall of heat and steam that billowed up and snaked out the cumbersome tritanium tube down into the liquid stone. I flipped the switched that started the magma pump humming and ignited the burner for the kiln as the containment tank filled slowly.

I siphoned off a couple of kilo’s worth of magma. It was more than I needed, but by the time I used the Force to concentrate the material I desired, discarded the slag, and crystallized the carbon atoms I would have a crystal that was only slightly larger than what I needed. Then I could shape it to the perfect form I needed and be set to continue on with the rest of the process.

I flew the Scout a few klicks away and set down in a much cooler environ with breathable air. I wanted to utilize the dark side aura of the moon to crystallize the lava, so I unpacked the kiln and prepared a spot where I could meditate for several days. I didn’t feel much of a warning from the Force, more like the sensation of being watched. I turned quickly around, spotting the man, but getting no reading at all from his Force-essence.

He was old, wizened, wearing a black cloak, the cowl falling down across his brow. His eyes were blue-gray, and his face gave no appearance of malice or ill-intent. But I knew he was a dark-sider. Light-side Jedi don’t practice concealing themselves in the Force, and I doubt that they would visit Kalakar. I could get no sense of his power or his ability to command the Force, but I decided the best course of action was to not antagonize him.

“What are you doing here?” he asked in a gravelly voice.

“Trying to create a lava crystal for my lightsaber. Who are you?”

He chuckled. “Lava crystal. And to what purpose?”

“I wanted something different and rare. It’s time for me to construct my first saber.”

“Ah, the weapon of the Jedi.”

“It’s just a tool until I am strong enough with the Force to grow beyond needing it.”

He nodded. “Very wise for one so young. I am a prophet. We claimed Kalakar long, long ago.”

“Yes, I read something of you in the archives. But it said you were destroyed by the emperor Palpatine.”

He shook his head sadly. “No, not destroyed, but crippled. There are still a few of us left. And you shall have to prove your worth before I will let you have what you desire.” He stretched out his hand to me, and I felt myself being sucked into a Force vortex, spinning and falling until all the light of the moon was extinguished.

The vertigo continued for a few moments, the blackness being replaced by the lights of a dozen candles. I lay in an opulent room, gold and ivory and marble. After a childhood in poverty, it was all I wanted in life, wealth and comfort. The bed I was on was soft and pillowy, and I could smell the incense and perfume wafting through the air. I felt like I was wallowing in honey. Other than minor movements, my muscles wouldn’t obey my will to get up. I wasn’t sure if this was a test, or an examination to see if I was trapped by my desire. Either way, I knew I had to exert my will over my want for physical pleasure.

I heard footsteps, turned my head, and saw her. A raven-haired beauty wearing light, billowy shimmersilk. She was well-tanned, had soft brown eyes, and wore gold bracelets and a chain around her neck. She carried a plate of jewelfruit, and slid onto the bed beside me, reaching across my body to lay the plate within easy reach. She caressed my chest and nuzzled my ear. “I’ve been longing for you, Draco,” she purred.

I felt the warmth of her body, her breath on my cheek, and smelled her intoxicating scent. It had been almost a year since I had been with a woman, girl really, and the hormones began raging uncontrollably in my body. I knew that tests for dark side followers were severe, but somehow I imagined that they would deal with pain and deprivation, of surviving endurance trials. I never imagined being tempted in this way, but possibly this was more cruel than physical abuse.

“I’m Cassandra,” she said as she raised a knee up and layered her leg over my mine. The seductress plucked a piece of fruit and brought it under my nose to her ruby lips and took a bite. “Would you care for some?” The sweet smell of her breath and the warm touch of her hand caused me to sink deeper into the pit I wallowed in. My manhood cried out for release, one of the most basic and powerful drives in the universe, and one to be controlled if I was to master myself and become a master of the Force.

As she cuddled all the sensual stimuli nearly caused me to give in, to surrender to the physical yearning that percolated through my body. But I couldn’t. If I gave in I would go from being enmeshed in honey to entombed in amber like some ancient fossil. This was a test, a snare the Prophet laid for me. And I still couldn’t move. “Jewelfruit is for rich kriffers.” I knew being rude wouldn’t turn her off, but I needed to careen off the slippery slope I found myself on. It would be all too easy to ignore the dictates of my mind and betray the promise I made to myself to devote all my attention to studying the Force, and to subsume my physical desire for comfort and pleasure.

She giggled. “There’s only the two of us here, silly. And I won’t tell.” She turned my head towards hers and kissed me full on the lips. I stifled a groan. Every fiber of my body ached for her. “It’s time you gave in to your passion. I know you want to. I can feel it.” She gazed into my eyes, a couple of centimeters from my own, with the promise of ecstasy to be delivered at my assent.

No. “I control my emotions, not the other way around.” I closed my eyes and lay back into the cloying mattress, relaxing my muscles. I gathered the Force around me as best I could and shoved out in all directions, sending the reverie shattering out away from me, leaving me momentarily in darkness, my heart still pounding with lust and my muscles trembling with desire.

The veil of darkness was gradually lifted, and I found myself standing in the stark light of day on the Almanian orchard I grew up on. Poor transient workers bustled back and forth, picking elmon fruit off the trees and carrying bushels of the aromatic produce to repulsor-lift sleds. It was warm and dusty, the earthy smell of manure combating the sweet smell of the elmons, and the hot sun bore down on my head. It was harvest time and my father was standing before me.

“Draco, you are such a disappointment to me. I did my best to teach you right from wrong, to warn you of the path you are now walking. Didn’t you listen to anything I told you?” He wasn’t a large man, but muscular from toiling all his life. His hair was graying evenly and his weather-beaten face betrayed the sadness he felt as he squinted at me standing exposed in the harsh light.

After my family was murdered almost four years ago I thought little of them. Was I that cold inside or did I bury my grief so deep that my subconscious wouldn’t allow thoughts of them to enter my waking mind for fear of the pain it would bring? Seeing my father didn’t bring any sense of loss to me. “You’re dead. What lasting effect did your life have? The rich are still riding the poor like beasts of burden. Your orchard is now in the hands of the wealthy, and a family even poorer than we were are living in your house and working your land. I got nothing. Nothing!”

“Life’s not about wealth. You let your anger and resentment turn you into a beast. How many murders have you committed? How could you become such a thing?”

I laughed. “There’s more to life than endless toil, of bringing children into the world so they can serve the elite. The Force exists. I can feel it, use it. I deserve better than what life here ever gave me. And you’re right. Maybe if you and mom had acknowledged my gift, helped me to understand it and develop it I would have turned out differently. But don’t give me that bantha fodder about my choices. You helped make me into what I am. The government helped make me into what I am. I made a choice among the limited options I was given, and I didn’t choose wrong.”

I closed my eyes and used the Force to push away the vision I was engulfed in, like some kind of interactive holonet flick. When I awoke I was back on Kalakar, lying face down in the grass. Feeling dazed and groggy, I pushed myself up and looked around. The Prophet was gone. In his place was a blood-red holocron, pyramid shaped, and formed from a synth-crystal. A meter away from me was the kiln I’d constructed.

I dashed over to the kiln and found it was still functional, the lava inside kept liquid by the intense heat of the oven. Whew. My chrono told me only a few minutes had passed during my visions. I grabbed the holocron, put it in my lap as I sat crossed-legged in front of my kiln, the intense heat bleeding out from it warming my legs. I reached out to the dark side of the Force radiating from the nexus of the moon and began the tedious process of searching out the atoms within the thick fluid, aligning the ones I wanted and pushing the impurities up and away from the latticework I began laying down.

It took me just short of three days to finish. I flipped off the switch for the heating element, put aside the holocron, and lay back, pushing out my numb and unresponsive legs. As the blood flowed back through the veins the numbness turned to a tingle and then sharp needles stabbed through my flesh. I felt sick to my stomach from dehydration. I used the Force to levitate a canteen I left in my ship over to me, and emptied it in one long swallow.

I gazed at the small gift the Prophet left for me, and with a nudge from my mind it activated. A small black figure materialized within the murky walls of the holocron, and a voice that permeated both the physical world and the realm of the Force spoke.

“Draco. I leave you this gift. Those of us who are left decided that cloistering ourselves in a single location would be invitation to those who seek to destroy us. Instead we are scattering our knowledge like seeds to those whom we deem worthy, hoping that they take root and grow, to keep our legend from being erased from the annals of history. The knowledge and lore this gem holds will give you the further education you desire. As you grow in wisdom and control of the Force, new lessons and more powerful techniques will be opened to you. You have the will it takes to succeed. Welcome to our ranks.”

With that the tiny figure dissolved into nothingness. With my strength returning quickly, I packed up the kiln and the holocron and blasted off for Gethsemane. The first, and most difficult stage of my quest was now completed.

I checked in with my master, then headed for the hut I built in the wilds of the moon orbiting Ereboros. My battleteam was still stationed there, but without a team leader. After the reorganization of clan Arcona things were still somewhat muddled, but without any missions I had all the time I needed to focus on building my lightsaber.

The next step, now that my lava crystal had set and cooled, was to imbue it with the Force. That took several weeks. I pushed myself hard, staying awake for days at a time, meditating and inducing the Force to flow into the crystal. Once it was charged I lay out the other components of the saber I wished to construct, from the ditanium housing through to the core of the blade, the crystal.

I sat there meditating for a week, imaging how the components fit together, how the Force would flow through the physical conduits and give the otherwise mundane equipment its metaphysical soul. Technologically advanced though it was, the Force gave it life.

After the month of effort I put into its construction, the lightsaber was done. Dead tired as I was, this couldn’t wait. I clambered to my feet and examined the size and weight of the casing in my hand. If I screwed up the resulting explosion would certainly kill me, but I knew deep down that I followed the procedures right. I held my breath and pressed the activation stud.

I heard the snap as the power source irradiated the crystal with electrical energy. Then the yellow-orange blade hummed to life a split-second later, illuminating my darkened hut like a well-used glow rod. I felt the gyroscopic effect of the blade which wanted to tear the housing from my hand, and as I waved the blade around in a practice routine I could smell the ozone in the air. “Yes!” I cried loudly. I finally did it.