Open to 1 Sullust A Land Down Under

Vanya

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Vanya could still feel the waves of panic emanating off of Theon. He reminded her of a cornered animal that was about to bolt, and at any moment he might panic and flee never to return.

Depending on your point of view, Vanya was either being a terrible teacher to him or she was letting him work out his own concerns while being there as a support if needed.

He was so unbalanced that she wondered if it would have been better for him if she had just turned him back around and sent him to the temples for training. Honestly, he probably shouldn't have been out here, but he was.

Time to step up and earn that title everyone throws around about you, she thought to herself, decelerating her speeder and bringing it to a halt, indicating for him to do the same.

I want you to close your eyes, and reach out to the Force. Tell me what you feel, she said. She knew that someone at the temple would have told him how to touch the Force even if he wasn't very experienced yet.

Her question was open ended, and she knew that everyone felt the Balance differently. To Vanya, it was like being nestled in a tangle of vines over a canyon. She could feel the vines connecting her to everything around her and the way the air tickled her skin as it blew by. It was the thrill and excitement of being as free as a bird.

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Theon

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Theon followed suit and slowed and eventually stopped the speeder. They were perched on a small rise in the flats away from the liquid magma, but it was still stifling hot. Their speeders were fitted with small heat shield generators to keep both themselves and their riders from spontaneously combusting, but still Theon’s clothes were beginning to soak through with sweat.

Looking over he eyed the Jedi Lord with a mixture of confusion and concern about being asked to just close his eyes in the middle of this death field. But something in those dark eyes made him trust her.

So he closed his eyes and tried to reach out to The Force.

Theon had mixed experiences in the past when trying the same thing, sometimes it came as easy as breathing, other times it was harder than any marathon or sprint. This time it sat in the middle, it took him a while to settle his mind, move away from the waves of panic washing over him. But by centering himself around the Jedi Lord and the knowledge that she was there, he was able to finally relax and reach out into the void.

“Empty.” He said at first. “Well not totally empty, it feels like I'm somewhere, a planet? I dunno. But everything is covered in smoke and mist. I can’t see anything, touch anything.”

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Vanya

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Vanya swung a leg over her speeder so both of her legs were hanging off the side as she looked at him, waiting and not rushing him as he reached out to the Balance. A part of her wanted to reach out through the Shadow that seemed to surround him, but she knew that he needed to learn on his own. He needed to learn to quiet his mind.

How does that make you feel? she asked. She imagined it wasn't anything good. It sounded terrifying in its own way. Perhaps it represented the emptiness of his past or the fear he felt at what they would face down.

She wouldn't simply leave him to flounder in it, and she let her own eyes close as she touched the flow of energy all around them. He wasn't wrong, though, the planet itself was devoid of much life if you didn't know where to look.

And then her "hand" found a "vine" in the energy and she followed it down to a lava flea, beneath the surface of the ground.

Do you feel the tendril connecting you down? she asked. Follow it, she said. If he did, he would begin to feel a whole colony of the creatures, then the lava worms, then the other creatures that had made their home in this inhospitable place.

It's not about us. We're extensions of the Balance, and that's what carries us through danger. We're small pieces in a larger puzzle, she said.

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Theon

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“Alone.”

He lost himself in that moment, stumbling through his own mind, the fog blinding him from his next step. Theon felt trapped, like he would never be able to open his eyes and would continue to stumble through this endless clouded void for the rest of his life. Something far in the distance beyond the neverending fog was seemingly calling him forward, was it a voice, a light, noise, instinct? He couldn’t tell he just kept moving.

Then Vanya’s voice broke through and that thing whatever it was disappeared and Theon stumbled to his knees in his mind. His hands scrambled across the imaginary ground trying to find this ‘tendril’ something to tie him down. “I can't…

He stopped speaking as a small grub appeared before him squirming across the floor between his hands. Theon stared at the creature for what felt like a long time as it slowly moved across in front of him. He tried to reach out with The Force, was this his way of seeing the connection to the life force of the planet?

The tendril of energy wove out from his fingertips across the ground before it touched the grub. It immediately stopped moving, did it feel him? Was that the connection he was looking for?

The grub began to move, rearing up on its back half, its head swinging towards him. Beady eyes began to swell, as its miniscule mouth began to rapidly increase into a great maw. Growing rapidly in size the creature lunged at him.

“Ahhhh. Theon screamed as he fell backwards off the bike and onto the bed of volcanic ash which made up their little mound.

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Vanya

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Vanya watched him in silence until he suddenly flung himself backwards onto the ash-covered ground. Only now, did she push herself to her feet in the hopes that he was okay.

Ah, kriff, Vanya they're never going to let you teach the paddies again, Vanya thought to herself.

Hey, Theon, are you okay? she asked, though by his flailing around, she guessed that he was doing fine, much to her relief.

That initial relief was quickly replaced by another question and concern. What did you see? she asked. Some vision from the Shadow? His own inner fear? Glimpses of a Sith?

The idea of it being a full-sized lava flea didn't actually cross her mind.

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Theon scrambled back for a moment, his arms failing at the slowly fading vision of the giant lava flee. Eventually the vision faded and the Padawan was just left sitting on his arse, his heart thumping wondering what the hell was that.

He looked up to see the Jedi Lord looking down on him, his head dropped at her concerned look. ‘Great first impression Theon’ he thought to himself. ‘They are bound to let you out again with this level of competence under your belt.’


“I don’t really know.” He began with a sigh, before pulling himself up. Brushing the ash off his legs and arse he continued. I was walking through the smoke for what felt like forever, then I saw something. A little bug so I stopped. Then it turned into some creature and it went to attack me. Next thing I know I’m on my arse in the ash.”

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Vanya

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Vanya offered him a hand up as he started climbing to his feet, not seeming to judge him despite whatever had just happened. His description of a bug attacking him did cause a slight quirking of the eyebrow, though.

Weird, she admitted, probably not the answer he was expecting. A Jedi Lord should know everything and have all of the answers, right? Well, that wasn't Vanya. Although she could take a stab at it.

You're taking your first steps into a larger world, she said. It was difficult to be a youngling starting out or even if in his case he was starting out much older. She could barely remember those early days anymore when she was emulating Mother Therrit and learning to eventually be the First.

I should go back. I should bring some of my Sisters to this fight. We could drive back the evils in the galaxy, she thought to herself, her own mind being drawn away to completely unrelated topics and doubts of her own.

Do you want to go back? she finally just asked. She had tried a little bit of beating around the bush, but frankly she just was trash at that. I'm not going to force you to come out, and I'm sure I could use the second pair of eyes, but everything worth learning comes with some risks, she said.

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Theon

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Theon gave Vanya a weird side look at the ‘Weird’ comment, in his short time in the Order he had gotten used to philosophical sermons on every subject from the extraordinary to the mundane. So a single word reply caught him a little by surprise.

His pulse quickened when she mentioned going back, bailing on the assignment and going back to the safety and normality of life in the temple. It was more than tempting, the difficulty right then was not blurting out a ‘Yes please.’ before hopping on the speeder and disappearing. But then why was he still standing there, his hand scrunched up into a white knuckled fist.

As much as that vision was terrifying and confusing, there was something there, something that when he touched The Force, felt a little normal. He wondered if it was something to do with his past life, before Theon, before the Jedi.

If that was true, then he needed more, he needed to touch, to feel The Force regularly and with a guiding hand. Theon had been told hundreds of stories in less days about the Dark Side, how it would tempt you through your connection to the Force and pull you into its clutches. If Theon was going to find out who he was inside The Force, he would need someone like Vanya to help him.

“No.” Theon finally replied, his fist unclenching and his eyes rising to meet Vanya. “I am coming with you. But…” He took a deep breath. “I want to do it as your Padawan.”

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Vanya

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Vanya could feel that he was about to change his mind. He was going to up and leave and leave her stranded here all by herself. See, this was why she should just work alone from the start. Then she didn't have to worry about anybody else and could just plan accordingly. I mean, really, come on... how hard was it for people to just... oh wait, he said yes.

Vanya's head jerked back a bit in surprise and a bit of skepticism, but it seemed like a good answer to her.

And then his next request came, and it gave her a bit more pause.

I don't know, she admitted honestly after a moment, seeming to size him up in a way now that he was being so forthright.

We just met each other, but I'll consider it, she said. It wasn't a "yes" but it also wasn't a "no." In truth, she'd been keeping her eyes open for a Padawan for a while now, but she also knew that the compatibility of a Master and Padawn was important, wasn't it? Actually, not really but that was Vanya's own trepidations and concerns shining through.

After all, you barely know me, either. Sound reasonable? she asked.
 

Theon

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Theon was tense, waiting for Vanya’s answer, he expected the Jedi Lord to say no, I mean he was a fresh out the door Padawan, to expect one of the leading members of the Order to take him of all people on, it was a dream.

But it wasn’t a no, well not a complete one. His eyes flashed with a little hope and joy and a smile crept over his face. “Sounds good to me.” He said with a small bow of his head.

His heart rate finally back to normal after the incident with grub and everything that followed, Theon would confirm with Vanya that she was ready to go before jumping back on his speeder and racing across the Lava flats.

It was a little over an hour later, when Theon spotted something in the distance. Halfway up a dormant volcano, there was what appeared to be a small camp set up. A dozen or so metal containers around what looked like two landing pads. Pulling his speeder to a stop behind a small hill, he powered down the lights on the front. Once Vanya pulled up next to him, he pointed up the hill. “Looks like a strange place to put down roots.”

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Vanya

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It was set in stone as a definite maybe. Sounded good to Vanya, and she wondered if he knew just what he was potentially getting himself into by trying to become her apprentice. Did she know what she was getting into by taking on one? She didn't ever teach people, so who knew if she would be any good at it! As they climbed back on their speeder bikes and took off over the flats again, she spent some time thinking about that.

She was supposed to take over her Clan someday - although that seemed less likely now - and that would mean teaching the younger generations about magick. Maybe this was the practice she needed for if she ever actually got to do that. How her life had changed from what she thought it would be. Sometimes she thought she had made a mistake, but in those still, quiet moments she didn't regret the choices she had made. Someone needed to do it, and whether her name was someday forgotten, she would have done everything she could to make the galaxy better.

These thoughts consumed her mind until they finally came to a stop and she followed his pointing off to the camp in the distance.

Yeah, very weird, she agreed. Weird enough to point her toward the fact that this was probably someone worth investigating at best and confronting at worst.

She pushed her bike forward a bit more until it was hidden behind a constellation of lava rock and she took a crouch beside the bike. She'd have loved some macrobinocs right about then, but hadn't had the foresight to pack them herself.

Guess we'll have to make due with sneaking closer, she muttered. Come on, she said, motioning for him to follow her as they tried to pick their way along the rocks, eventually coming to the last large outcropping to provide cover.

I think we're going to have to wait here until it gets dark to cover the rest of the distance, she said. Taking another look over the rocks, she tried to make out what they were up against down there.

I see... maybe a dozen people right now? she said. It was hard to tell for sure, but perhaps their two pair of eyes together would be better than her one.

Looks like most of them are in half-cobbled uniforms and armor, she said, watching as they moved in and out of tents and makeshift homes. I don't see our creeper from the attack, though, she said, which could mean whoever that was was on the attack still or was just... sleeping or doing something else mundane.

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Theon

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The speeder dropped a few inches as he half-powered it down just behind Vanya’s and still in cover behind the lava rocks. “I'll follow you.” He replied, as they began to creep up the side of the dominant volcano.

It was littered with enough outcroppings, boulders and fissures to keep the pair mostly out of sight from anyone at the top of the hill, but the lack of any foliage or undergrowth meant that the pair could be easily spotted from any other direction. “Perhaps a few more.” Theon replied as he took a peak around the otherside of outcropping to Vanya. “Problem with waiting to Dark, is well, I am not sure about you, Lord Vanya, but I can’t see in the dark.” He said, his eyes still scanning the surroundings for their murderous target.

“Yea, I can’t see him either, which may be a good or a bad thing. If he decides to come home for tea whilst we are waiting here, there is no hiding from him.” Theon finished as he plonked himself back down on the ground next to the Jedi Lord.

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Vanya

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Vanya got a mischievous smirk on her face as he provided his counter argument to waiting until dark.

See I would have thought they'd have taught you that at the academy already, she said, almost looking like she was enjoying whatever lesson she was about to teach him.

Your eyes can deceive you and you shouldn't trust them. The Force, though, is your ally, she said. Yes, because his previous outreaches to the Force had gone so well. Well, as a great man once said "keep sending him up."

So Vanya would do just that.

Touch the Force again, she told him, seemingly almost unconcerned with the fact that they were in enemy territory with people who would literally kill them at a moment's notice if they could.

Perhaps it was a testament to her power or something else, but she seemed as if she felt perfectly comfortable in her ability to defend them both while he flitted about with his eyes closed at her instruction.

They would practice until dark if need be, and when that time came... well, he would either have figured it out or she'd be doing the bulk of the assault mostly by herself.

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Theon was perhaps a little more than concerned when Vanya asked him to tap into The Force again. The last time hadn’t gone so well and ended up with him screaming and falling back on his arse. “Really, that doesn’t seem.” Theon mumbled out, but Vanya looked determined and at the end of the day she was a Jedi Lord, who was he to argue.

“Ok.” He replied, shuffling back against the rock and pulling his feet up, so he was sat cross legged. Theon pulled his borrowed lightsaber out from behind his back where it was digging in against the rock and sat it in his lap.

With a loud exhale he closed his eyes and once again tried to tap into The Force and the world around him.

A few moments later and his physical senses began to fade, replaced by the empty void that had greeted him last time he was here. “It’s still empty.” Theon said softly. “Well not empty, there is smoke or fog, clouding everything.”

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Vanya

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Vanya watched him as he reached out again, closing his eyes and even setting the lightsaber in his lap. Lightsaber crystals and Jedi were linked in a way that was difficult for those without the Force to understand. A symbiotic relationship that allowed them to both be better than they were apart. Vanya felt it with her own saber, and whether Theon would have fully realized it or not, he had already begun to bond and cling to the saber that he didn't feel was his. It had become his.

She reached out to the Force around her to sense her surroundings. She had many more years of experience than he did, but he could learn just as she did. Perhaps all he needed was a push to see what he was missing. The galaxy as it was if he looked through more than just the keyhole he now peered through.

She could sense every flutter of ash, the souls of those beyond in the base. She could sense Theon in all of his confusion and even his uncertainty. She could sense herself and her own conflicts although buried deep within her. She knew that she was no different than anyone else in the galaxy with hopes, desires, and fears.

Just for the briefest moment, she touched his mind with her own, letting him see the Force through her eyes. It could be an incredibly intimate process, and potential padawan or not, she wasn't quite willing to drop down all of her defenses all together, but he would be able to glimpse the world and the Force. He might even see flashes of her home and family unwittingly intertwined as they were inseparable from her views of the Force.

But more than anything, he would sense the Force in a way that showed just how vast and expansive it was.

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Once again Theon was lost within the foggy void that was to him The Force. He felt that he could walk for days in here and not find a single thing, it was empty, but for him and a small thump of a heartbeat. Wait, he had not heard that heartbeat before, it was new. He tried to concentrate on it, but after a time it became quieter and quieter until it faded into nothing and he was once again alone in the void.

As sorrow began to set in over the departing heartbeat he felt something, saw something different to the endless void of fog. A light, something living something, bright and alive with The Force. At the time the Padawan was unaware what Vanya was doing but he reached out for it all the same. Just to see something new in this void world.

As he reached the light it appeared to him as just a shadowed humanoid form, nothing to define it as the Jedi Lord that sat next to him. But he felt calmness and security from the light so he reached out to it, his hand passing through its chest.

A wash of emotions flooded over the Padawan, forcing him to collapse backwards within the void. The emotions unknown to Theon were those that tied Vanya to her family, love, compassion and everything else that she still felt for her tribe and her world.

They weirdly felt alien to the Padawan, he wasn’t an incel devoid of emotion or love, but in the short lifetime he could remember he had yet to form any bonds that could rival that the Jedi Lord had with her family. Looking up at the shapeless form, the fog around it and around Theon himself had shifted slightly away. It was a start.

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Vanya

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It would be slow going for Theon, but each step to break down the walls that remained was a step in the right direction indeed. She could feel the way that he had touched her mind although only for the most fleeting of moments, and with it, he had the opportunity to see what he might experience when he quieted his mind. An easier thing to say than to do.

After several minutes more, Vanya finally prompted them to carry on. This probably wasn't the best place to stop for a lesson, but that just had her written all over it. She'd stop in the middle of a yellow zone just to have a chat.

If something goes wrong, just go back to the Order and get help, she said, and by "if something goes wrong" what she really meant was "if I get killed or incapacitated" although she didn't actually verbalize this. Did she think that was going to happen? Probably not, but she did know that bad things happened sometimes and it was better to be ready and not need it than to be in a moment of panic and have no plan.

Her demeanor seemed to almost change even as he watched her, her face hardening up into a frown as she pulled not her lightsaber but her hunting knife from her belt. There were plenty of people who would condemn the attack of someone unexpected using a knife to be barbaric or antithetical to the Jedi way, but Vanya wasn't most Jedi and she didn't subscribe to the views that had brought the Jedi to the brink of extinction.

She started moving silently up the slopes as the darkness fell over the area, motioning for him to follow her. The first of the guards never saw them coming as Vanya smoothly moved up and took her knife, ramming it into the side of his neck even as she stifled the muffled screams with the Force. Blood ran out swiftly, and the sight was much different than a normal, open battlefield. Perhaps she could have put him to sleep with the Force or done something else, but he had chosen his path when he murdered and attempted to subjugate the people of this world. Judgment had come.

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The small clearing within the fog filled Theon with hope that perhaps one day he will be able to truly tap into The Force like the Jedi he looked up to. Then he could finally be a true to help to them, and the galaxy. Theon would spend a short time looking around the endless field now he could see slightly further, before finally being pulled back to the real world by Vanya’s voice.

He watched as the calm demeanour of a Jedi Lord faded away and was replaced by the cold hardness of a Nightsister Hunter. Theon wouldn’t deny that a small shiver ran down his spine as he looked into her eyes as Vanya slipped out her dagger from its hiding place before making her way up the darkened hill.

Theon had his saber in his left hand, leaving his dominant right free as they reached the edge of the camp. His eyes at first slipped past the first guard understanding Vanya had it covered, but the vicious efficiency of her kill pulled him back. He watched the body be slowly lowered to the floor, blood already pooling at its feet. The sight turned something in his stomach and forced him to turn away.

Luck would have it that the turn away was just in time for him to spot a patrolling guard round the corner of the small metal building that covered most of their approach. Without thinking he swung his right arm at the man, his hand grasping the side of the guard’s face. With a pump of Force Energy bursting through his muscles Theon would slam the side of the man’s face into the edge of the building, cracking his skull and knocking him out cold.

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Vanya moved with surprisingly brutal efficiency. There were plenty of Jedi that would have condemned a "strike first" action like this, but this wasn't really a first strike. They could have turned away from this path, but they had murdered and bullied and intimidated and they had to be held to justice.

It wasn't long, though, before everything slid toward chaos. Theon managed to bring down a guard, but in short order one of the troopers had been dispatched by Theon and another seemed to have heard the commotion. Or maybe it was just wrong place and wrong time, but the chaos broke out moments later as blaster fire snapped through the air and Vanya's lightsaber burst to life.

Get to cover! she shouted, batting several bolts around with smooth fluidity as she let the Force flow through her. And even beyond that, she could sense the impending darkness approaching. The Sith wasn't far away, and while a few troopers were no real threat to the Jedi Lord, a Sith certainly could be. She had no desire to let that threat hone in on her potential new apprentice.

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