Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SWTOR Character Introduction: Shakka'Ani

It was another brisk morning in the mountains of Alderaan but it didn’t matter to the young, purple-skinned Twi’lek who sat meditating on the balcony of Palace Organa in the Northern hemisphere of the planet. She knelt facing the sunrise, eyes closed, and Lekku hanging still against her back. She wore a dress that she usually wore under her outer robe and a pair of pants she’d pulled on before walking onto the balcony not ten minutes earlier.
Nightmares had plagued her for the last year and she still hadn’t come to terms with them. She woke just before the sun every morning and went outside to meditate, no matter the weather with the images still swirling in her young head.
Starships loomed above a mountain range and a woman with long red hair meditated amongst a group of large Kyber crystals that were almost every color she knew of. They swirled around her as warfare raged outside their circle of light. She had never met this woman and had never in her seven years been to such a planet but she knew it was important.
A door slid open behind her and her Lekku twitched in acknowledgment. Footsteps approached and Master Ja’Yana Organa, a human female with waves of dark hair and compassionate blue eyes, sat cross-legged beside her. Ja’Yana had raised the Twi’lek after buying her from a Hutt when the girl was barely three years old.
Ja’Yana watched her padawan’s eyes move beneath their lids and a tingling sensation nagged at the back of her head. Something was wrong. The force had granted her padawan another vision and it pressed upon Ja’Yana to drag it out of her. She started to speak but the Twi’lek opened her large purple eyes and her small shoulders drooped.
“Master Organa, the force around you buzzes with uncertainty. Is something wrong?” She breathed, watching a Thranta circle below them before setting down on the landing pad. She pulled her legs from beneath her, sitting cross-legged on the cold durasteel before turning her violet eyes to her Master.
“You’re not wrong, Shakka’Ani. The Force has whispered of danger for weeks and I cannot ignore it any longer,” she paused and pulled her ankle length braid over her shoulder, pooling them in her lap. She met her Padawan's eyes and smiled. “Are you ready to tell me about your visions?” Ja’Yana prompted. Her padawan’s Lekku twitched with doubt and her violet eyes fell to the Thranta again as someone dismounted.
“I saw a mountainous planet and a temple made of tan and green stone. Above the planet, a fleet of Republic ships fought a fleet of dark ships I didn’t recognize. On the planet, a woman with red hair and lilac eyes meditated in a group of Kyber crystals as a rainbow of lightsabers clashed around her,” Shakka’Ani divulged eyes brimming misty with pain. “Masters, wearing Jedi robes, were cut down by crimson blades and a storm gathered over the planet. I-I don’t remember anything else.”
Shakka’Ani shook moved her head from side to side, her right Lekku moved over her shoulder, and her hands caressed it like a child with its favorite blanket. Ja’Yana set her hand to Shakka’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze.
“That is plenty, Shakka. We should move indoors. I feel a storm coming and I need to contact Master Rishond,” Ja’Yana advised and Shakka’s eyes sparkled with curiosity. She’d met Master Kael Rishond on several occasions but was still surprised to hear her Master speak of him.
 Master Organa never contacted Master Kael first, it was a matter of principle or so she’d said the last time Shakka had asked. They moved inside and Master Organa pulled her robes tight around her, tying them at the waist as they walked.
“I believe the Planet you saw was Tython and the Temple is the Jedi Academy. The woman sounds like Master Zan and the war has yet to begin,” Ja’Yana explained the vision without looking back at her Padawan again. Shakka nodded, still caressing her Lekku. She grabbed her robe on the way through her room and they continued into Master Organa’s lavish quarters.
Shakka had barely thought about the other Jedi. She knew they existed but hadn’t met many of them. She had only ever met three or four and they didn’t approve of Master Organa’s training her.
Ja’Yana turned into her stately office, feeling Shakka’s fear and stopped at her desk. Shakka was thinking so deeply that she didn’t notice her stare and she wished she could calm the Padawan’s mind.
“Shakka, do not be afraid. Fear will lead you down a path you do not want to go,” She reminded in earnest. Shakka stopped in the doorway, dropping her Lekku, and hung her head, ashamed of her fear.
“I’m sorry Master. I…”
“You’re worried that they’ll doubt the vision when they know who it came from.” It wasn’t a question. Shakka nodded and Ja’Yana stepped toward her. She picked up Shakka’s chin and smiled at the girl. “They don’t need to know who the vision came from. I will make sure they understand the situation,” Ja’Yana encouraged, ambling back to the desk.
Shakka watched her pull out the personal holocom from a lower drawer but she didn’t move. If the Masters who doubted her found out, what would they say? She shook her head of the thought and walked over to the meditation area against the far wall. She sat on the round cushioned chair and took a deep breath.
Ja’Yana activated the com and located Master Kael among the former recipients. The holo beeped as the signal crossed the universe to contact the Jedi Master on Tython. Ja’Yana noticed Shakka meditating again and she sighed. The Padawan knew nothing else that would calm her and Ja’Yana didn’t know if that was the best thing at this moment.
“Ja’Yana, I’m surprised to hear from you. Is something wrong?” Master Kael’s deep voice questioned as the blue screened holovid blinked to life. Master Kael sat in his own meditation chambers and his robes weren’t tied in place. Ja’Yana refused to think on that and instead went straight to the point.
“Everything is calm at the moment, but it won’t be for long. Is this a bad time? I have some disturbing news,” Ja’Yana offered as she sat, placing the holo on the desk in front of her. Master Kael quickly stood from the floor and his holo blinked in and out as he walked into his private rooms.
He didn’t want anyone interrupting or eavesdropping on his conversation with the former Master Jedi. None of the Jedi Council knew how close he and Ja’Yana still were and he didn’t want them finding out. Not only would it jeopardize his entire career but it would cast her in a bad light as well.  
“It is the perfect time. No one is awake quite yet. What’s going on? Did you hear something from the SIS?” He questioned, sitting at his own desk and pulling on his outer robe. Her image moved as she tossed her long braids over her shoulder and he watched her eyes stare into his.
“The Force has given me some information that is vital to the Jedi. I believe the Empire is going to make another move against the Republic,” she offered, voice quiet as she looked at something beyond the holocom. His muscles tensed and his mind wished to deny it but he’d sensed the coming darkness for weeks. She was right.
“Master Starhope brought up much the same thing at the Council’s meeting last night. We’ve begun preparations. The padawans and younglings are leaving for Yavin IV this morning. Master Dacol is already there, overseeing the final preparations for their arrival,” Kael explained but something in her eyes stopped him. Her eyes darted offscreen again before she met his gaze.
“You need to contact Master Dinora’en Zan. I feel she has a larger role to play in this than anyone knows,” She vaguely hinted and the hair on the back of Kael’s neck bristled. She was leaving out vital information.
“Ja’Yana, is Shakka’Ani having visions?” He asked, thinking of it a moment before his mouth opened. She nodded and her shoulders dropped. He knew how hard it was for her to talk about her Padawan, especially to him. He was on the Jedi High Council and the others didn’t approve of her training someone after what happened with Leona.
“It’s not just her. I’ve seen glimpses of a storm surrounding Tython. At first, I thought the planet was Drummond Kaas. Under the clouds and the electrical storms, I recognized the temple, the Twi’lek village and the gnarls that we helped cleanse of flesh raiders when we were padawans,” she furthered and his own shoulders slumped. He’d seen something similar while meditating yesterday and hoped it was wrong. “Kael… you sense it too, don’t you?” her voice was confident, even if she wasn’t. He nodded and sighed heavily.
“I do. There is a coming darkness and we will not be able to flee this time. I’ll contact Ra’en as soon as we end this call.” She shifted and he noted a far off look in her eyes. “Is there more?”
“No. I’m… I’m just…” she stopped and leaned forward running her hand through the loose hair around her face. He noted the gleam in her eyes and felt her concern.
“Ja’Yana, you can’t worry about us. Savion arrived from Coruscant just yesterday and he’s felt the darkness as well. We’ll get through this like we always do but I need you to stay away from Tython. Stay on Alderaan or better yet, travel to Coruscant. If you need to, go help Siman on Yavin IV.” She pushed her hair back and stared at his face in the holo. Her blue eyes glowed and he sensed the turmoil growing inside her. It was like a storm that he could track across her features.
Lines creased the sides of her eyes and furrowed her forehead. Her lips were parted in silent sorrow and her blue eyes were dimming glossy with tears. She had done her best as a Jedi Consular but they both knew the struggle that went on inside them and unlike him, she couldn’t hide it.
“Kael, you can’t ask that. You know how I feel about this. I can’t sit back and watch the world I grew up on fall into the hands of the Empire, not again,” she argued and he sighed. They were both right but she wouldn’t let it go. A small voice spoke from her end and he listened.
“Master Organa, you should listen to Master Rishond. You’ve had visions of Yavin IV and with your new role as Senator, you can petition the Senate to send aid,” The young voice advised and Master Kael smiled. Without seeing her, he knew it was Shakka’Ani. The young Twi’lek was truly gifted and he could see why everyone was taking sides on her training. She reminded him of the even younger Ankyla but he pushed the thought aside and addressed Ja’Yana.
“Padawan Ani is right, Senator. You need to go to Coruscant and rally the Senate. If the Empire is up to its old tricks, we’ll need more than just Jedi Knights on the ground,” he agreed, pushing the political card.
Ja’Yana felt like a cornered Taun-Taun. How could they expect her to fly in the wrong direction and play diplomat when they clearly needed more support on Tython? Someone nudged her through the force and she looked at Kael again. She nodded to him and met Shakka’s violet eyes.
“It seems as though I’ve been outvoted. Padawan Ani and I will travel to Coruscant immediately. I fear that Master Zan isn’t there or she may not be when I arrive. Has Master Savion said anything about his visit to the Capital? I know that he checks on her while he is there,” She suggested, feeling a deep connection between her son and Master Ra’en Zan. Master Kael Stiffened and someone knocked on his chamber door.
“Thank you, Senator. I will make an inquiry and get back to you as soon as I know. Don’t Worry. The Force is with us,” Kael cryptically reassured her. Master Organa nodded and fought not to mention the time he’d been wrong that led to their capture by Emperor Valkorian. Now was not the time to bring that up.
“Yes, Master Rishond. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your call,” She responded before ending the call. Shakka’Ani shifted in front of her desk and Master Organa watched her.
“What more have you seen, My Padawan?”

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