Ask Plot Cold Comfort

Dr Ilana Morata

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Bal'Demnic
16:37
-Theme-

It was an instinct.

After Darumaa, Ilana and Kai had parted ways, her on call to an old patient's need for thoracic surgery, he for... whatever that macabre dark-sider did on his off time. He seemed serious, but she didn't question it. It wasn't her place, or her business, and frankly she didn't care. They both agreed there would come a time when he would page her, and they would continue their investigation. Without really disagreeing, she had taken the tome with her for safekeeping.

A gut feeling hit her, along with an image that stirred her from her musings. She had been halfway between drowsy and thoughtful, watching cigara smoke lace the air with ethereal patterns when she bolted upright, amber eyes narrowed.

Help...

She never felt this before. This deep well of rage, definitely, but this weakness, this... trace... was familiar. Kai?

No answer came back. Of course not, when did he ever make anything easy? She instantly patched through to Bruggan, his right-hand man, and both agreed the last time they had seen the punk was a little over a week and a half ago. She had a sneaking suspicion of where he would have been, but she had to make sure. And if so, he owed her some serious answers.

She had joined up with his crew. They all agreed it was time to go hunting for him; regardless of where he was, they needed to know. And if that Grysk was dead, those that did it would have a new enemy to contend with. She wasn't done with that ghoul yet; he owed her big time, and she would get them one way or another. She would take his ship, too; no point in bringing two, and his had a medical addition she silently approved of. Perhaps it was time for an upgrade...

When they got close, she glanced towards Bruggan and his other crew, her features remote, cold.
"Drop out of orbit, begin scanning for signs of life... let me know if you find anything and try to pinpoint its' location," she rasped, stepping away from the control panel. She needed to change; she had a feeling this was going to end just as well as it had any other time she went with the Grysk. Strange that there seemed to be nothing else there, though... was this a dead planet?

He had better be alive, or there would be hell to pay.

Just when she was about to turn away, Bruggan called out. "'Ey. Found something."

She padded over, scanning over his shoulder, and frowned. There was that feeling again... a tug on her mind, almost a whisper.
"Follow it," she rasped quietly, lightly touching his shoulder before turning away once more, feeling the ship angle and descend as they did. They parted through what seemed to be serene cloudy skies to the lashing thunderstorm beneath; lighting speared and water slammed down in sheets, rivalling the vicious spray of ocean that hissed below. She glanced down a viewport of it... and scowled.

Looked like it matched her temper perfectly. He never told her what it was about this place... but she would be certain they would find out soon. "Doc, there seems to be a place to land."


"Go there," she agreed, ducking into a small space to shrug on her new, long black heavy jacket, drawing the hood over her head.

She had no idea what was ahead... or even what she was getting into. For once, she was being reckless and stepping in with no idea about the next step. And the rage she felt about this was ever more fueled by the sharp downpour that greeted her the moment they landed. If he was there...

She wouldn't hesitate to kick his behind until she got what she wanted.
You better be there...

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Pain
Ouch all over
Your suffering
You're failure
Let it consume you!
You're still alive...​

Malakai did not know how long he had been unconcious. His possesions had been stripped from him after her had been usurped as the leader of the Knight of Ren. His conciousness had come and gone over what had probably been several days at least. Left in one of the bedrooms of Fortress Infernum, Ender had locked him inside and even had gone so far as to take his starfighter for himself.

Perhaps Ender had intended to make an example of him and not finished him off. Whatever the case Malakai had gathered enough strength to force his way out of the room after the other Knights of Ren had left. The Grysk had made his way over what seemed like an entire day, perhaps two, down to the cave like hangar bay to find only his seeker droid waiting in the cave.

With no way to communicate with it remotely the droid recognized its master. "Send..." his breathing was heavy. His legs felt like rubber. After finding his stash of narcotics and other drugs he had loaded up to deal with the voices that only added to his distress. The man had been painfully sober and was probably suffering from unintentional withdrawal coupled with the injuries sustained from his duel. "Send a message to...." He coughed and found a seat against a large stalagmite. "....Doctor Morata."

The droid would comply with its orders and send a message to the medical professional without question. Wherever Ilana was she would see a recording of the slumped figure. One of the lights on the droid indicated it was projecting towards her, able to establish a connection with the recipient surprisingly easily. "Heeeey Doc." A smile crossed his face and a chuckle that swiftly stopped due to the pain of laughter.

"Sorry if I woke you. In fact I think I might take a nap pretty soon. OOf...damn, I had that good karkin stuff stashed away. Took some of it to deal with..." His head drooped for a moment. "blast....um...anyways. Hope you're close by. If you don't make it no worries. But I could use your help. I think she wouldn't like it if I died quiet yet."

A momentary pause followed where Malakai's face would grow still. Several heartbeats would pass before he would inhale suddenly. He had no idea if the message was directly being projected or just sent to her for later recovery. "I gotta try to bring her back. Oh sheeeeee's pissed heh. Can't..." The lids of his eyes were heavy. Malakai's body began to tilt to the side, unable to keep itself upright. "...let her down." Once again darkness consumed him. The droid cut the feed but could tell the ship was within range. It kept the location of otherwise hidden cave discoverable with its broadcasting signature. Hopefully that would be enough to have the arriving ship land and see its dying master.

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Dr Ilana Morata

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She clenched her jaw, fists balling up tightly at her sides. He was here... he had to be. I can feel it.

Her comm buzzed in her pocket, and she drew it out to a recording. The time stamp showed it hadn't been that long ago, and she snarled out a breath of frustrated anger.
Damn, damn, damn that idiot. The more she dwelled on that thought, the more she was convinced the Grysk was intent on a suicide mission, and she was leading him down that path.

Maybe it was for the better, but he was still her patient.


"Follow that signal!" she roared suddenly, turning around on one heel and stalking forward. Her eyes were no longer the placid amber that most associated with the cold-shoulder Arkanian. Instead, her eyes seemed engulfed with gold flame, her body radiating such a blistering rage it almost felt frozen, amplified by the darkness of the surrounding atmosphere. Bruggan, and the others, of whose names she couldn't recall for the life of her, didn't even blink, as she placed her comm on the dash. The lightning storm made it difficult to see, the waves thrashed to whitecaps as they smashed against it, but then...

"There! Follow that signal!" she growled, and didn't even wait for a confirmation. The feeling grew stronger in her gut, stronger even than the beacon the droid used for his feed. She focused, channeling all that rage within, that rein of control back over the need within to lash out, and at first this instinct rebelled. She shuddered violently, arms clasping around her middle until it passed, until baleful gold blinked back to amber, until she stood calmly once more, then stalked back as the ship leveled, gaining to the beacon.

It was treacherous; the waves slammed close several times, and the lifts whined in protest at such difficult landing prospects, but she was there, guiding the pilot with a calm, precise voice. She could sense their nervousness, their fear. All she could feel was the need for answers, and it was slipping away. But finally, finally they made it.

It wouldn't take long to land before she stalked from the seawater-washed landing pad, the entrance buffered by the mouth of the cave but no less treacherous close to the edge. She pulled one vibroblade free of its' sheath, her voice booming in the cave with a commanding bellow.


"MALAKAI!"

There was no answer; only the cold sea spray spattering her robes, and the hard, fast pulse of her heart. Bruggan came after her, and she stalked forward, cold eyes sweeping until...

She closed her eyes, extending her feelings outward almost without conscious thought. Like dark tendrils, they slithered over every thing, the cold lifeless stone of the cave, the yawning darkness ahead until... her eyes snapped open.

She sprinted over to where the prone figure lay... and took in all of it. The burns, the lacerations, and even as her hand rested over his forehead and neck, the sweaty, cold rankness of it. She swallowed back her anger, fists unfurling as she reached for her belt and glanced at Bruggan, face impassive.


"Get the stretch, bring him to the ship..."

-----

When he would next awake, he would be strapped to the medically outfitted bed, a very crisp, clean Doc with her back to him, wordlessly tapping on her datapad.

For now... no emotions could be felt within the room. If he could sense it, it would have almost been like he was alone.


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There was only darkness. It made sense. He was in a cave. But he wasn't sure if he was awake or unconcious. A singular light blinked ahead of him. At first he thought it was his droid. But then he realized it was flickering, not blinking. A flame in the distance not casing a light on anything within any sense of distance. Just a small, singular flame like the size one would have from a hand lighter.

DARKNESS
The flame returned, brighter, closer. But he did not feel any warmer. "Sorry Tanarra." His voice gasped. "Guess you'll be seeing me before I see you." Death was imminent. He was sure it was coming. A gentle smile crossed his face at the near peace of the cave with the roar of the storm beyond. That's some poetic poodoo His eyes fully closed.

The flame got even closer. A foot in front of his face, the burning presence flickered and cast him in a half light surrounded by only shadow. Then he felt a little prick followed by some burning sensation. His left arm. Malakai began to remember pain.

The arm smoldered with glowing embers, filling his nostrils with the scent of his own flesh. Then the Grysk suddenly felt nothing. Not in his arm, nor his entire body. Darkness again.

Not yet

Malakai half gasped, half cursed aloud as he jolted awake in the medical bed Ilana had put him in. His eyes darted, trying to understand where he was. He felt like he had just died or skirted the razor's edge. <"Wha~ , th-"> He coughed for a moment, not realizing he was speaking huttese and had a sudden case of dry mouth. Looking at the back of the white haired woman his heart already began to settle. He knew what she looked like well enough to recognize her even with her back turned on him. <"I hope this afterlife improves or I'm, gonna need a refund"> The joking tone trying its best to cope with the fairly traumatizing experience of near death and confusion that followed. His body relaxed in the bed, staring up at the ceiling. "Damn."

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Dr Ilana Morata

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No reaction whatsoever came from the Arkanian halfbreed.

She moved about the room as though he hadn't gasped back to awareness at all, face impassive. She continued tapping a couple moments longer, then turned around, amber eyes sweeping over him with a clinical professionalism. It was almost as if she didn't know him at all. No twitch of her lips, not even the faintest flicker of emotion radiated off of her.

When she finally did speak, adjusting one of the lines connected to his arm, her voice was level, almost as emotionless.

"You nearly got your wish, Malakai."

She turned away, tapping on something else, spine straight, tall.

Internally, she was seething, and had no idea why. She felt like tearing down every rock and stone on this planet, destroying every last scrap of life and letting it burn and she couldn't for the life of her know why. It felt like something else flickered to life inside. Something else that also had that power to destroy... that same power she felt on Nar Shaddaa, on Darumaa. And then, if he was aware, he would feel it. The faintest flicker of emotion that flared to life; irritation.

She glanced back, and he would see it. Anger, thinly controlled. Her jaw was clenched, and very, very faintly her hands trembled. Not because she cared, no, it was nothing that sweet or compassionate. No. It was because he tossed her into this mess of Force nonsense; she wasn't going to let this patient go so easily now that she was beginning to learn so much more. If he would keep dying on her, she would keep bringing him back until she had her use of him. It was that simple.

...Wasn't it?

"Welcome back." Her eyes flickered over the other arm, a question in her eyes. "I don't suppose you're going to explain why your arm looks like it up and died on you."

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Silence filled the air and Malakai glanced over at Ilana for not immediatly responding. His mind was contemplating what had happened among the Knights of Ren. He had fallen unconscious and had a lot of questions. Not for anyone in particular. Not yet.

The muted irises of the Gyrsk watched his care-taker get closer and finally speak. She wasn't being mean but he definitely noticed she was acting like her cold and professional self. "I get that" His eyes continued to look around, trying to learn where he was.

The last thing he remembered was the sensation of the cold cave and the darkness. But he wasn't on Bal'demnic, or at least inside a ship. He could somewhat hear the ship's drive in the background. "Are we on my ship?" It brought up more questions the more he thought about it but he was not feeling impatient. Answers would come later. When the Arkanian turned back around he could see she was livid. oh she's pissed

Malakai was not back to his full state of awareness but he was glad he wasn't completely out of it. Looking at his arm he saw how damaged it was, clear scaring and damage from trying to neutralize Ender's force lightning had done that. At least now the pain wasn't too much to deal with. But it meant he wasn't going to be concealing his presence or doing any fancy tricks for awhile if he didn't have to.

"You want the long version or the short version?" He replied, not looking up from his damaged appendage. Slowly his fingers tried to curl into a fist but he was not at full motor function still. The Grysk gave up for the time being. His head turned to look back at the Doctor again. "Also...where'd you find me?" It was not the first time Malakai had blacked out though usually it was drug induced and not injury related. He wanted to know if anything significant happened during his lost time.

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Dr Ilana Morata

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"Yes, we're on your ship." She commented this calmly, settling down with a graceful air onto a closeby stool, legs crossed and arms propped on her thighs. Her long hair slid around her shoulders like a partial curtain, but her expression practically screamed she was tired of his kark for the time being. "In orbit; whatever you've got down there, you obviously were trying to get away from, so I didn't want to chance staying around."

She didn't mention that, once he was stable, she started to investigate... and then got called back because he was starting to detox. A bad beginning, and she was still curious.

"Found you in a cave... I'm guessing it leads somewhere else." She wasn't asking for answers yet; he would either unfold them out himself, or she would find out in her own way. Either way was hardly relevant in this precise moment.

"Long version. I have all the time in the galaxy,"
she rasped, leaning back with arms crossed beneath her bust. If he was going to start losing consciousness, she would start applying stims.

He wasn't getting off the hook that easily.


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He did not think he had been trying to run from something. If anything it felt like he had been drawn towards something. "Yeah, there's a tunnel to that Fortress place." He was not sure he was ever going to go back to the Fortress though he had pondered blowing it up with his starfighter's weapons before leaving. "That koochoo took my ship." The Grysk muttered to himself. It was swiftly followed with a grunt and a shrug.

"Best to not stick around there now. Those Knights of Ren bastards are bound to come back." Adjusting himself he tried to sit up a little more. He glanced at the drip going into his arm and then back at the woman that had saved his life. "You know that guy who killed those rangers on Corellia? Well he wanted to meet so I thought I could indulge him. Seemed useful. Well turns out he just wanted to lead the Knights of Ren himself. We fought, the others watched though between you and me I'm pretty sure some of them wanted to join. He zapped me with his force lightning....which would have been really cool if it wasn't done to me. Tried to 'catch it' or stop it but..." His eyes looked at the damaged arm again. Malakai knew how to use it himself but it was the first time he had been on the receiving end of force lightening. It was not about to stop him from using it again though. "I didn't get the technique right." He made it sound like it was a mixup with some kind of baking recipe and had only cost him a county fair blue ribbon and not a permanent scaring on his body. But instead of regretting the loss he was thinking about how to get better for next time.

His good hand raised to scratch his face with his index finger. "Hmm... I fell unconscious, but they didn't kill me. Either had plans for me later or thought I was going to die. Jerk didn't allow new management to take affect." The dark sider pieced together how he was feeling and the events that had transpired. He had been unconscious since during the recent prison break on Coruscant and was completely ignorant of it. Ender had been captured by the Sector Rangers but had been freed. Maybe that added to why he had not been finished off or why there weren't Knights of Ren on Bal'demnic.

"Wait...did you...how'd you get my ship?" If he had not been under the influence of pharmaceuticals Malakai would have tried to sense who else was on the ship. But if he had to guess, Ilana either took the ship or had Bruggan and his boys come get him. That added more questions of his own that would be asked soon enough. His story probably made Ilana want to hear more answers rather than give her own.

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Dr Ilana Morata

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Knights of Ren. Force Lightning. The Fortress.

All of it sounded like it belonged on some holovid, not the reality of the galaxy. Two weeks ago, Ilana would have considered such a story just the Grysk steadily losing his senses to the amount of drugs, drinks and narcs he took for himself. But now that she had some small experience with the Dark Side... now that she had some taste of a concept for the Force, she was intrigued. That the Force could inflict so much damage as to manifest in lightning was an interesting tool... one that she hoped to master eventually.

More ideas rose to the fore, but for now she simply processed everything he stated with a stoic, solemn air. If he said the guy fought him for leadership for the Knights of Ren... then he must have been their former leader. Her gaze settled on his impassively, calculating. This Grysk was just a well of information.
"So they mutinied," she guessed, carefully watching his expression.

Somehow, that didn't surprise her.

At his question of how she got access to her ship, she raised a brow, leaning back against a blank console.
"What's so important about Bal'Demnic?" she asked, brushing aside his query. It seemed he at least hazarded a guess as to why that place they were shown in the tome was important, and she was going to keep pressing while he was still strapped in the bed. She wasn't going to take any risks letting him leave her care until she was certain he wouldn't run, or do something equally bone-headed and reckless.

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"Not exactly. More like they just stood back. They believe in might makes right. I got beat. He's the new leader." He shrugged. Malakai did not really have grudge against them or at least not something he would go out of his way and be petty about.

The Grysk's mind thought about what he might have to do next for the sake of pragmatism. They knew his face and would know his true identity then. While Malakai did not particularly care what they thought about him it did not mean they wouldn't act on his refusal to back down as well as his subsequent loss. Kai's free hand raised to his chin, rubbing his jawline as he contemplated what bridges needed to be burned. It definitely complicated things.

Ilana's question told him enough about how she was feeling. 'I'm the one asking the questions here'. Malakai had no qualms with answering whatever she was curious about. "There used to be a cult here I think. Loooong time ago. They used to live in that Fortress. Plus there's a temple not too far though I wouldn't be surprised if you already felt it. I'm pretty sure that's where that musty old book was telling us to go." Especially with Ilana here now it made sense for them to visit. But the dark sider knew she was not going to let him go given his condition, at least not yet.

"Did you manage to find a droid in the cave with me? I think I sent you a message from it." Considering Malakai had been more or less stripped of every item on his person, the droid had been the only thing that remained though now he had his ship back. If they had recovered the seeker droid then maybe it had some more intelligence from before he had escaped. Plus he was curious to know what he said. Malakai was pretty he had thought about some things but wasn't sure if he had said things out loud. How much of that was in my head? His eyes focused on the Doctor, wondering how much she had heard. His mouth opened to ask another question but quickly shut remembering the Arkanian was leading the questioning here.

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He seemed like he had more questions to ask, but immediately waited for her to ask her own first. Good. At least now he was learning she wasn't patient after so long. A couple beats passed before she slowly got up, stretching, before deigning to reply. Her voice was calm, cool. "Ah yes, your droid. They followed us on board; good little unit, kindly of them to supplement us with finding where you were."

She processed what he stated; cults, temples. Places that brought to mind something out of a horror holovid; dark cultists in black robes, chanting ominous tones... but she could feel it, even from here. Like fingers ghosting down her spine, even now turning her attention from the Grysk down below. Ever since laying her hands on that tome she felt on edge... as though everything she desired could begin to be hers down there.

However, part of her still desired to burn down the Fortress that housed the Knights of Ren. It'd be an irony that even she could appreciate.
"You mean you aren't Jedi?" she asked, turning her head towards him. A deliberate question; she had a sneaking suspicion, but would only be confirmed with time. Unbidden, the image of another being flared to mind; that of the sentient tree, Shal Urlu, and his apparent desire to help her achieve peace.

Whatever the hell that meant.

"So what's next? Now that you've been effectively booted out by your own people."

She didn't have him connected to oxygen, and so smoking wasn't necessarily off-limits. She knew she shouldn't on a ship, either, but she hardly cared in that moment; she needed something to do with her hands. She withdrew her own cigara, and then just paused, holding the stick between her fingers, staring at it a moment.

"...So who was 'she' you were talking about earlier?"

Her gaze focused back on his own grisly visage, not a twitch of emotion betraying her. She didn't care personally, but it might elicit a personal response. And that was something she was curious about. Perhaps it was about herself, but she strongly doubted it... something about the tone, the attitude, suggested otherwise in his recording.


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Good, it can be useful He thought to himself hearing the useful droid was still around.

When she asked if he were a Jedi his eyes looked at her and his brow furrowed in confusion and then he let out a snort accompanied by laugh. But he shook his head and winced, stopping his laughter. "No...aha-ow, no. I'm not a Jedi." He was honeslty surprised she would ask him that question. The impossibility that he could ever be a guardian of the light. But that said maybe more about him than he probably realized.

"Eeeh..." he craned his neck to the side as he objected to her wording. "I wouldn't really say they're my people." He would have used air quotations but he thought it best to not cause intense pain by moving his wounded arm. Hopefuly his exaggerated tone made it obvious. Malakai believed they could have been a pretty good means to an end. The strength of the Knights of Ren had potential and could have accomplished great things. Maybe it still could even under Ender's command or whomever came next in line to take the title. But now he couldn't use them. At least not from a point of internal command. They're still a piece on the board and a player still has to make the decision to move it

When the woman pulled out a cigara he looked at it. It had been awhile since he had indulged in on. But that was by his standards. It was her question that surprisingly stopped him from even asking to snag one. He stared a moment longer with a serious expression on his morbid appearance. "So you heard that." His tone flat and lacking the snarky tone from earlier. Malakai remembered also saying a Tanarra's name. But had he actually said it outloud or dreamt it after losing consciousness. "Did I say anything else? I feel like I did."

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She didn't get what was so funny to the Grysk, but she simply stood, one white brow raised. She wanted to light, but that would have to wait. His reaction to her last question was... very interesting. She simply held the cigara between her fingers, wishing she could light or take a drag, something.

Funny, before she met this very person she hated cigaras. Hated the smell of them, but it helped dull her senses. But now they were keen, focused on Kai and every word, every emotion. Watch the bravado and humor fade to something else entirely, watch him suddenly somber at the face of new information. It hurts, doesn't it? Someone probing your weakness.

"Only what was necessary," she answered, a partial answer at best. So it was for someone else... she didn't know the limits of whatever they were looking for on this planet, but she was certain it had something to do with her.

Tanarra.

"Soon as you recover enough, we'll land and we can begin." She suddenly turned away, tapping on her datapad with formality once more settling over her shoulders. But then she paused... and she set the datapad down, slowly padding over. Her hand hovered over his burned arm; though he was no longer actively hiding who or what she was, she could feel it. Twisted and dark within this burned flesh... it must've been painful.

"Do you want to keep your arm?" She asked him bluntly, arms crossing beneath her bust. She didn't know the effects of Force Lightning intimately... but she was fairly certain that, even with multiple bacta applications, it would never be as it was. However, something else glimmered in those amber eyes.

A remote curiosity... and something else, quickly there and gone. Almost as if there was nothing else the doctor could feel in that moment.


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He was not sure that was a true answer. But he couldn't exactly feel whether or not she was telling the truth. Malakai had to just go based off of reading her features like a normal person. But Ilana was skilled at hiding things. The Grysk felt like she could be telling the truth so he didn't say anything back.

She made it sound like something specific in mind was going to happen. Malakai was under the impression she wanted him to heal as her patient before doing anything else. The pale hands of the woman hovered over his arm. Kai's eyes dropped to it, looking between her unblemished and perfect skin in stark contrast to his own.

"Yeah I'd like to. It's ugly and...might have lost some functionality but it's not that bad." He raised his hand, gritting his teeth as the pain began to pierce through the drugs. He focused on it, wanting to lose the cloudiness of mind that had come in the wake of his brush with death. "I can do more with this than I can with a prosthesis." If he couldn't he was actually more or less fine with replacing a limb or two. His eyes looked up at the Doctor's. With his index finger he managed to conjure a single flame, not unlike the one he had seen in his mind. The irises of the Grysk reflected the singular flame as he glanced at the cigara still in her hand. "You gonna smoke that or just hang it in front of me?" It was his way of hoping she offered him one too.

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She merely tilted a brow at his own expression, hands withdrawing away. "Suit yourself," she rasped, regarding him once again from her own distance. She stepped calmly forwards, then pulled out from her pocket a pak. Seemed that the Arkanian had packed ahead of time... the essentials, of course, but other important things as well.

She stared at the flame for a beat or two wordlessly, then placed the cigara between her lips. She leaned forward to light the tip, then took a slow drag.

She exhaled, then placed it between her lips before drawing out another for him, lighting that one as well and passing it to his good hand, then exhaled with a hard sigh, slipping it out to gaze at him, for the first time with an expression that cracked the stony visage.

A half-smirk, white brow still arched.

"Cute trick, Mal. Now rest up, I want to know what's so important down there and don't have the patience to bring you back from the brink. Again."

It seemed the Doc did have a sense of humor. It was just a little morbid.

They stayed in the system for a couple more days. She more or less forced it. Was it the wisest course of action?

Probably not.

When he would be roused a final time, they would once again go to Bal'Demnic. And this time... she would get the answers they needed. He had already been medically cleared, now all it took was a quick change and she was prepared. She was dressed in a black version of her professional armor, a hood attachment thrown over her head in case of another storm. Her vibroblades and blaster were attached to holsters on her hips, and as they broke through the atmosphere, she glanced sideways towards the Grysk, her features once more impassive.


"Have any idea where that book wants us to go?"

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Kai

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The flame went out as soon as she finished lighting the second cigara. "Thanks." He said and stared at the ember on the tip for a moment and then took it. The familiar smoke filled his lungs which he savored.

"Yeah yeah" He said jokingly dismissive. Malakai cracked a smile, letting her know he wasn't bothered by how everything had come to pass. The following days would be spent with him catching Bruggan up on the situation. Tried making a score on his own and it backfired. The Kaleesh did not need to know the truth.

Malakai did not feel back up to full strength and probably wouldn't for weeks to come. But he was able to move and manage himself competently enough. His skeletal glove only covered his right arm since he kept his left in a bacta-cast. "Yeah. I've got an idea."

The ship kept its scanners active just in case there were ships that dropped out of hyperspace. The day was at its calmest point which could change rapidly. A rock jutting high out of the water sat before a large crack like opening in the walls. As they grew nearer the darkness of the Sith Temple radiated outward. The opening to the cave was too small for them to fly or swim over. Between the rock and the base of the cliff the tides were abnormally rough despite the relative calmness everywhere else.

Looking over to the the Arkanian he sought to see what she thought of it. "Remember what it said. At least two. To get in it takes two of us focusing together." The ship was not able to land on the rock so it lifted and circled around for the time being. The Grysk knew this would be the first time Ilana probably focused on the dark side. The two of them would possibly be on the doorstep to the temple for a bit depending on what came next.

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Dr Ilana Morata

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She stared down a viewport to the rock below. It was a small shelf in comparison to the waves roaring below. She could feel it even from here, though; the same sickness, the same darkness she first felt from Kai on Nar Shaddaa, then from within. It felt like needles prickling along her shoulders, sharp, cold.

Familiar.

"Focusing together... by using the Force." She stated this calmly, one fist balling by her side. She wasn't even certain how... but this seemed to be Kai's realm anyways. The Temple, however, looked like nothing she expected it to be... and yet, he seemed certain. "Then let's get started," she answered calmly, the line of her shoulders relaxing. If there was such thing as Force Lightning... and then she recalled Kai using it to lift and move objects, even to push things around.

...If that concept worked on a smaller scale, it would work on a larger one too. There was nothing left but to try, anyways. If it took the pair of them, she was certain it would take being much closer. She had to focus, and they had to work together. A difficult concept... but already her world had changed. He was not at full capacity, and if they failed...

No. She didn't have the luxury of failure anymore.


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The air was cool and the smell of the ocean salt filled the air. The sound of waves crashing into stone and churning in on itself between them and their desired path was constant. It was a natural yet dangerous representation of power. Contained yet no less fearsome and humbling.

As they stood on the rock staring at the cave he could tell Ilana was eager to move forward. But Malakai wanted to say something first. It could prove to open her mind up to the truth rather then let her be led by her own assumptions about him or the galaxy around her. "You asked me if I was a Jedi a few days ago. There are other groups, other sects both in present day and in the past with different names and traditions. The Knights of Ren, they are not and were not my people." He was not entirely sure who were his people. "That darkness, those primal feelings that inspire fear are natural. I know all too well. But people try to stick to tradition and it can hamper progress. I'm not here on behalf of any organization or cabal of msytical sorcerers. I'm here for the same reasons you are because you know as well as I do it isn't what kind of power you have so much how you use it." It was more words than were needed but Ilana was perhaps the first person he had opened himself up to. Tanarra had not been force sensitive. The Arkanian beside him had a connection to the Grysk that nobody else had before her.

"Place a hand on my shoulder..." He said, considering his left arm was still in a cast. "This will be like we did with the book but..." He raised his free hand, opening the skeletal digits to face the cave and the swirling waters ahead. "...harder."

He closed his eyes to focus. "Reach out and feel the connection. The Force binds us all together. Where one thing ends another begins. Do you feel that coldness?" His own spine shivered from the sensation of being close to the Sith Temple. The man often dulled his own senses with the use of drugs and being sober, aside from the medicines provided by the Doctor, he had a clearer state of mind than most days in the past few years. "For now just feel it. Understand that sensation and remember it." He wanted her to know the power of the dark side and recognize it as a tool. Perhaps the other Knights of Ren had felt that within Malakai, his pragmatic outlook rather than his zealotry. He wasn't a fanatic like so many of the pawns under the Eternal. He did not want Ilana to become a cultist of the Sith Eternal. She was better than that.

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Dr Ilana Morata

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Amber eyes turned towards him wordlessly, listening to what he had to say. She had watched the HoloNews reports... heard rumors. It was true he wasn't like anything or anyone she had ever ventured with before; his own ambitions seemed different to those that had seemingly an endless disgust with those in power, or the law. Did that power ever make them truly powerful?

The answer didn't seem to be yes. It was abuse, it was cowardice. Easy answers to come to mind, but it didn't fulfill what she considered true might. For now, she wouldn't answer... because then she would have to admit he knew her better than most in the galaxy did, even those like her brother. And that was an unsettling thought. She kept her distance for a reason, after all.

She wordlessly placed her hand on his left shoulder, feeling the muscles and bones beneath, but it was more than that. Like the thinnest layer of ice, and as she lifted out a hand towards the temple and closed her eyes, she could feel it too.

Like strands, spindly red and slithering through, a connection from there to here and back. This wasn't about cults or ambitions, though some of the latter fed it. This was about power, a need to establish control, and as surely as he did almost by instinct. It would bend to her will and answer her call, but for now, only for now, it waited. She could feel her senses broadening as her focus narrowed ahead, towards the cave, towards the waters. It answered her call, slithering through veins and bringing her clarity; whereas before she was uncertain, now she felt filled with it. The desire for more, the hunger to whet upon whatever laid inside.

The waters churned ahead, but they were nothing in the eyes of the power that ran between him and her. Like a conduit, running between their link and the Temple ahead.
"I feel..." she rasped quietly, then frowned. "I feel it... this..."

For once, the Good Doctor was speechless. To think she had denied herself for this long... it felt so right.

It was time to part the waters. They both came this far; it was too late to go back now.
"I'm ready."

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He felt her hand on his shoulder but what he recognized was her harmonizing with his own focus. Together she looked at the same thing he was and she was accepting it. Malakai wondered if she had been practicing with the tome on her own time or doing small exercises since he had first shown her how to intentionally use the force. It would explain why she caught on so quickly. He was impressed.

Malakai murmured at hearing her readiness. "You feel that power. Yes, right there. Imagine parting the waters, pushing them aside." Outside of his focus he could still hear the choppy waves and the distant sound of coastal avian creatures going about their business. The dark sider used his outstretched arm with more experienced focus. "Feel what I am doing." he said, giving her guidance to aid her if she needed. It was still difficult for Malakai to do given his current condition but not impossible.

Perhaps a minute would pass. Potentially several. "Maintain that focus...and open your eyes." He would open his own eyes and should the Doctor mirror his own attempt the two of them would see the sea floor before them. Two walls of water, held back by an invisible force. Fish and sea life moved or flopped on the ground that had not been exposed to the air in ages. Acquatic plant life normally held up in the water lay flat and wilted without the water to hold it up. They would need to maintain their dominant will over the water as they moved forward. "Keep it up." He would encourage her and begin walking forward with his arm still outstretched. Luckily it was not too long of a walk. Malakai ignored things beyond the immediate task at hand. The cave ahead was their goal. With each step he could feel the strength of the dark side and it aided him, and in turn Ilana, in maintaining focus on keeping back the waters to either side of them.

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