This was a long time coming. A vacation that was more than just a few extra days of drinking in some pent house. So of course it was the luxury resort on Darumaa. The view of the water was relaxing and the lack of responsibilities and pressures helped him decompress. He wore a simple dark gray shirt and a set of blue swing trunks.
On one of the ornately furnished chairs sat the tome Ilana and he had taken from Nar Shaddaa. Malakai walked over to it, looking at it and wondered about pouring over it again. First he had spent some time looking over the book in its normal cryptic writings. That had taken some time but the trip from the Smuggler's Moon coupled with his shared injuries meant he fully expected some time.
Malakai's left arm was in a sling still despite several bacta treatments. It was mostly to prevent it from getting injured again before it was fully healed but the miracles of medical technology had their limits. The Grysk would still have to heal naturally to a degree.
Reaching for a bowl filled with fruit, the man grabbed one and took a gluttionous bite of the ripe fruit. If he stayed on Nar Shaddaa he would not take it easy. He would have found something else to get mixed up and ended up getting messed up even worse in the process. Plus it just felt better to get some distance from the crime scene even if that meant traveling into the expansion region.
Doc was never the type to do well or relax. She could count on one hand the amount of times on one hand she ever relaxed or went on vacation... and if she wanted a vacation, she would have hung about on Paqualis III at her family home. Though then again, her profession was always closely scrutinized and questioned, and above anything she tired of hearing petty political squabbles and idiotic semantics.
Her ribs still ached, and her leg stung if she ran too much, but she hardly ran anywhere anymore. By this point, she no longer questioned if any of these places were even Kai's anymore. Like her, maybe, he chose to have no real home. There was no point to it; people that had a home were disgustingly optimistic in her opinion, and too secure in their self-satisfied ways to realize the galaxy could rip out your comfort as easily as a rotten tooth.
But hey. Nobody asked for her intellectual musings.
For once, he was being a good patient. She had just come from the showers; after the events on Nar Shaddaa, there were a few things she wanted to have done. Rest and recovery was one thing, but finding answers was definitely another. She needed them, and soon, or she would lose her mind waiting.
She had dressed simply, in black leggings and a black tee shirt, feet bare for once as she padded in quietly. Seeing him grab a fruit, wordlessly she followed suit, snagging one to peel before slowly settling back into the couch lazily, eyeing the Grysk with a cool amber stare.
"Tell me why this is so important."
Better to be blunt now, and get possible answers, then wait another week before he would finally work around to answering for her. She was a doctor, not a therapist or a vacation buddy. Though then again, he apparently needed her and he also held all the answers. As far as she was concerned, this was a win for both of them. It wasn't a demand or really even a question, but she was curious... and besides, it wasn't like they had better things to do.
...Well, they did, but she just got out of the showers.
The more that Malakai thought about it all the more he found it amusing. It felt like they had just had some heist and made off with loot like a couple of classic holo-drama robbers. Granted it had been far less elegant and more painful than any holo-drama but Malakai would be lying if he said he wasn't entertained by their success.
"Hmm?" He turned to look at Ilana, returning from deep thought. "Oh the book." His own bare feet went to pick up the book with on hand and set it on the coffee table in front of them. The macabre man would sit down as well near the couch, one hand still firmly on as he took another bite then regretted it since he was trying to explain.
Forcing the bite to be swallowed a little early he intended to answer her question though it was not an easy answer. At least, it was not as much fun with the easy answer. "The guy we stole it from wasn't the first to have it. Originally it was some kind of cryptic log book and journal for some Galactic Empire spook who could do some pretty fantastical things. You probably have an idea of that from just touching it though don't you?" He gave a knowing smile and remembered all the subtle hints about the Doctor's force sensitivity. "It's a technique called force encoding I think...like intentional psychometery...." A moment of pause came and went as Malakai realized that she probably did not know what psychometery was either.
"People that lack an affinity to the Force can't even detect it let alone read and understand what might be hidden in the book. Still, had a lot of good information in just normal writing." He opened it up to show the scribbles, notes and records the original owner had put down. Even that was in a code and took some deciphering to understand. "At least...it used to be. All the previous owners have pretty much capitalized on whatever info they could access. It is a fortune maker, switching hands and being sold only in the past couple times there has not been a lot of secrets left to reveal since they don't have what it takes to understand what reminds hidden. Not like you and me." A gentle force push would send the opened book pages flipping rapidly like a strong wind had just come in only focused on solely the tome and nothing else before it closed with a mild thump.
She could feel her eyebrows steadily rise as Kai actually answered. She hadn't thought the guy would open up and start talking... but by the time he was done, she felt like he was either yanking her chain... or he was serious. Briefly, the memories of Nar Shaddaa flickered back into focus... memories of her doing something that she had thought was quite literally impossible.
There were too many stories out there, lurking in the galaxy to discount Force use. However, she always dismissed it before because it didn't make sense. She also remembered that feeling when she picked up the book... a tremor of awareness prickled at the back of her neck, and she suppressed it with a slight frown. Force encoding, psychometry... abilities that defied any reason or logical explanation so far. There were midichlorians, sure, but there was no way to quantify or decode their use, at least as far as her research went. But he said you and me... as though she were as he was. She knew it ought to make sense... but it didn't. She wouldn't have, it didn't make sense.
She was stubbornly not allowing that thought to pass through, as it defied what she took for granted, and let in a chink of doubt that maybe, maybe...
These Force users could do those things that trickled through legends, old tales of impossible feats. Back to the book though. "You want this... just to change your luck?" she spoke slowly, eyeing him in almost disbelief. But the book flipped open by itself... and flipped a few pages. It was in a script she didn't understand... and when it shut she shivered, sitting upright and giving him a side eye.
"Are you deliberately trying to spook me?" Her voice rasped, head cocked to the side slightly. "You say you and me... what do you mean?"
She regretted asking those questions almost as soon as they fell out of her mouth. Somehow, she was certain she'd regret hearing the answer to them... but it was too late to take that back now.
Maybe he was unintentionally being dramatic. Life could be boring if he allowed it but there was no fun in that. So maybe he was trying to spook it up a bit. He only smiled like a teenage prankster would to a friend. "I can control the force. Do things most people can't. You have the potential to do that too. I know you've felt it before and you're no meek presence either. I can sense you've got a lot of potential. I mean the way you crushed those droids...thanks again by the way for that." His mind easily remembered getting nearly shot if it had not been for Ilana.
"And...It's not lucky. It has secrets, information on locations and stores of valuables. People that have owned it cracked what portion of the cryptic information they could and then found a vault of old pulse wave tech, abandoned but full spice mines, an untainted backwater planet. It's an alchemist's journal. People just haven't been able to read the real truth though. Not like we can." He made wiggly fingers with both hands to tease her slightly.
His own head tilted to the side, scrutinizing her for a moment. "You're scared." It was a bit more serious but lacking any judgement. Malakai's tone was simply observational as he sensed the unease in the Arkanian on the couch.
Irrationally, anger punched her in the gut as he just blithely mentioned he was a force user, that she was one of them too. The only thing she knew really of Force users, apart from vague medical texts, were the red-sabers on the holovids, and for the first time, something pulsed in those eyes. What was once amber flickered yellow, for the briefest moment. She swallowed it back, though, and took a bite of fruit before deigning any response.
"Right, it was so easy I could probably do it again," she commented dryly, after swallowing a mouthful and taking another bite as soon as the words slipped past her lips. But she gave a one-shouldered shrug before swallowing again, lips twitching as he waggled his fingers at her.
His last words, though, made her eyes flash, and she openly glared at him, the hand not holding the fruit beginning to tremble.
"You're damn right I'm scared."
The words were blunt, harsh, and a bit throatier than she intended, and she clenched her jaw. "This is so kriffing beyond what I know, and I hate not knowing. I hate being out of control, of feeling lost and there's no karking way---" she stopped, suddenly, and squeezed her eyes shut. Her whole body shuddered a few moments, and she finally, slowly let out a breath, eyes opening to their usual wintry calm after a few more breaths.
"Sorry. I don't know what happened there... and I don't know my limits. I cannot lose control now, not after finally managing."
She wanted to pitch the fruit out of the window or at him, she wanted to do what she did in the tower and destroy that stupid tome and all it represented. She loathed it yet wanted its' secrets... she couldn't deny that there was an allure to that sickened feeling it gave her, a lurid whisper in the darkest corners of her mind that widened that tiny chink of doubt.
And that was what made her furious, that hint of doubt, that unease of not knowing. The tome there held the possibility of answers for her... and yet, equally, she loathed it for shattering some of her carefully maintained walls.
She wasn't hungry anymore, but she forced herself to take another bite to smooth out her nerves once more.
Malakai was glad to hear her admit to how she felt. He liked that she knew herself well enough to acknowledge her own feelings. But she had an opportunity before her that she had come this far on. Maybe she did not even realize the possabilties ahead of her.
"I know it's cliche but knowledge is power..." He took a deep breath and sat back. It was best to make a point perhaps with a display. His hands came together in a steeple shortly followed by the tome lifting towards him in the air. "...you want control..." The book hovered a foot away and above his head. It circled, orbiting over him as the piece of fruit Kai had been eating joined it at a slightly further distance and height. "...I used to be...blissfully ignorant...." One by one small objects around the room lifted and at different speeds began to coalescence around both Kai and Ilana as he continued to speak.
"With knowledge I've gained control over things I couldn't have imagined." With numerous small odds and ends moving around them "I know the unknown is terrifying. But isn't learning that truth essentially conquering fear itself?" The book slowed and hovered in front of Ilana just out of reach enough for her to need to reach for it. He was offering it to her.
"I can teach you a thing or two about control...if you want it..
"...it would get you further than what's probably even in that book." He reached out his left hand, palm up and stopped concentrating. Instantly all the small objects were taken by gravity again. The fruit fell into Kai's palm, the tome would drop back onto the coffee table if the Doctor did not take it. "...then again what do I know..." He grinned slightly at himself and took another bite of the fruit. If that wasn't theatrical I don't know what is.
The tome hovered tantalizingly before her... and she gave him a small glare before slowly placing her palms over it, it dipped slightly when he relinquished control. Suffice to say the display was... jarring. She placed it in her lap for a moment, features set into a frigid mask of faint revulsion... but curiosity as well. Something about it whispered, almost a call to her...
How could she say no to a promise like that?
She glanced sideways at him, voice low but less harsh than before. "Don't play coy; we both know you're smarter than you let on."Most of the time, she added to herself, and then slid a finger over the pages. Again, that feeling tapped at the edges of her mind... amber eyes narrowed, tilting her head. "You said something about messages only... people like us can see... how?" She lightly splayed her free hand atop it, now that it was in her lap, the fruit temporarily placed on the coffee table. She glanced down at the tome again, absentmindedly brushing away a few strands of still-damp hair.
Time to get back to business. She was already done feeling the thin walls of her former world crumble; it was time to focus on the task at hand, then she could pursue what he alluded to.
Power, control... everything you wanted, isn't it? The voice was low, teasing in her mind. Her own, of course... the voice within she ignored. The one emotions imprinted on her that were hers and hers alone. But speaking of... he seemed remarkably calm considering everything that happened.
She wondered just how much mad nonsense she was getting herself into... but somehow, she felt like it was already too late to shut that door. He held answers. And she needed them to get the kind of clarity she had craved for most of her life.
At least she was smart enough to recognized feigned stupidity. Sometimes it was hard for even Malakai to recognize it and just fell into the groove of his persona. But it still warranted a smile when she called him out on it.
"Encoding is a specific technique. It...takes a little bit of experience first." He warned in an attempt to let her know she might not be successful in reading the information. But all the same he would indulge her curiosity. "When you read a sentence do you see the individual letters, or do you see the words? Neither, I bet. Instead you see what the words mean. When you read P I P E you don't think, peth isk peth esk..." he spelled out the letters in aurbesh. "Instead you imagine what that word represents. Do not focus too much on the individual pieces, instead think about what it means...how it speaks to you." He gave an invourageing motion for the woman to peer into the book. It was harmless, like looking at a book only with a different set of eyes than she may have looked through before.
It was not long before he got the feeling she was becoming overwhelmed with the influx of information. The force could be intense if one opened one's self too wide. Malakai reached out with a hand, intending to stop her from losing herself. "Hey...this path only goes as far as you want it to." It was her own desire for information that drove her forward. If she wanted to stop he was fine taking the tome back. Ilana's choice to gain more and push the boundaries of present opportunities was her choice.
Moving to the edge of his seat he set out both hands, palms up, for Ilana to take. Together He said telepathically, giving her possibly her first taste of non-verbal communication. "Do you trust me?" The question he said verbally.
She sat, holding the book in her lap as he began explaining. Her gaze narrowed to focus, and though the cipher for this particular branch of coding was like nothing she had ever read before... she could feel it again. A tapping, almost, and if she could just focus a little better...
Her hands shook on the book, but she kept at it. She just had to push a little further, try a little harder...
She jumped slightly when he spoke up, amber eyes flashing up to meet his. "I need to understand," she rasped quietly, eyes lifting to meet his. "I don't understand any of this... nonsense. But I need to." She flinched away when he spoke to her telepathically though; it was like a voice cracked inside; so much more personal than others' passive emotions, she rubbed at her temple.
Then lowered her hand, her face smoothing back to its' calm passivity.
Did she trust him...? That was a loaded question. "Depends on the situation," she remarked dryly. "But here... I do."
That was just about as personal as the good Doctor was going to be. She needed answers, and she was ready for them. No matter what the cost.
Her honest answer was what he wanted. Malakai did not want to hear what she thought he wanted. The reason he had asked was to hear the truth and it did not offend him in the slightest. In fact it made his expression grin evermore. "Good."
Taking her hands off the book since she had not reached out towards him, he held them gently. "The force lives in all of us. It lives in every thing." Living or not, it existed everywhere. "Focus on a singular desire. Ask yourself 'what is it I want?' and make that your sole interest. Forget everything else. Don't worry about yesterday. Don't worry about tomorrow. You've said you need to know. You need to understand."
Malakai opened himself up for the first time in a long time. His normally covert presence in the force appearing no more than a normal person changed itself into his presence in the Force. It was dark and he would not be surprised if she recoiled. But should Ilana hold fast, accept his presence, his ugliness like she had that first night they met, he would channel the force with her. The Grysk did not force any of the darkness he bore on her. He just sat there, like a black lotus, letting her see the macabre truth.
"Accept the truth even if it is not what you expect." Malakai would lend her his strength to search the force encoded tome. Reading a force encoded object was not difficult for a practiced Jedi or Sith. But Ilana was only now just learning that to reach land she had to learn to swim. It would not be so easy for her as it was for him but it made a good first test. "I believe in you...Ilana." He said, calling her by her first name and not just 'Doc' like he normally did.
The feeling rose up in her, cold, and hard, bitter with resentment. That old anger that always lurked just under the surface, aching for sweet release. That craven desire for it... almost as soon as he asked her the answer was on her lips and the tip of her tongue.
But it just wasn't something she could just get... the galaxy was never that forgiving. There was always a price to pay, and she paid for it time and time again as both a doctor and a living being. But that sickened feeling from the book was amplified from her partner... and she visibly flinched back at the sudden change, forcing herself to stay seated. She stared straight at him, features set in a stony expression and fingers visibly whitening at the knuckles.
She gave him a sideways glance of amber eyes. She wasn't certain how she felt, him using her first name. It seemed like some breach of protocol, but where exactly she had no idea. Not between Doctor and patient, that line was already broken in the name of research. Perhaps of boss and hireling, though she felt she earned far more chops than that, pulling his macabre behind out of a sticky situation or two.
...She supposed she could let it slide for now. It was only rational.
It felt sick... but it felt so right. Like a part of herself that had been sleeping for so long; she felt its' power, the promising allure of something so much stronger, right at her fingertips. It wasn't going to be easy... but this tome would yield its' answers to her one way or another.
The moment she embraced this, it rushed to life from within. The anger, the underlying self-and-galactic hatred would well up for him to see. She was totally vulnerable, and he would see it. The depth of how little she cared for any of the galaxy, for any of its' disgusting need for minutiae or the way these purposeless ants scrabbled, trying to find a connection as impossible and useless as family, love or desire. In her mind, they were transient useless gestures to serve a purpose, and that purpose in and of itself was of such disgusting entropy she felt the intense desire to cleanse it of its' stupidity.
And yet... she felt calm. She felt clearer than she ever had before... and she turned back towards the tome.
"Then let's get started... Kai."
There was cost for everything. An affect for every cause. Consequences Good or bad there was a reaction to what transpired. Nothing is free He thought, or rather 'felt' in line with what Ilana was also feeling and used that to mesh in the moment.
The woman was smart, capable, and not easily manipulated. In hindsight maybe the man had been drawn to her because of these characteristics. But it pleased him when she responded with the same spunk she had displayed so far when she called him by his familiar name.
Closing his eyes he focused on the tome. It still rested on the arkanian hybrid's lap as far as he knew. Slowly, it would rise and drift under their hands as they focused on gaining its knowledge. This was not the first time Malakai had meditated though it was one of the few times he had shared in meditation with another. Minutes would pass yet seem like seconds. The two were isolated in their room without disturbance allowing them to meld, layer after layer with the focus on the tome.
Visions of a beautiful world would pass between them. Craggy cliffs dashed with harsh waves and a beautiful sun peaking between storm wracked skies. For Malakai it was familiar. He had visited the planet before. A jutting rock, surrounded by water and a subtle message flowed between his mind and Ilana's.
Always two...at least two
More time would pass. An image of a dark tunnel, the sound of cave like water droplets, the chill of an ocean wind, it even made Malakai shiver slightly out of reflex. Slowly he opened his eyes to look into the golden eyes of the woman across from him. Malakai knew she had felt it and seen it though had perhaps not understood it to the extent that he had. The tome slowly drifted back towards the Doctor's lap. Malakai released his grip on her hands and settled back into his seat. "Please tell me I didn't imagine all that." He said, half joking.
When the image of the planet loomed before them, she knew she had never seen it before. There was a savage, untamed beauty to it; beneath the beauty, however, pulsed the same darkness she felt keenly before, an age old need that called to her in a siren's song. She would follow, unaware of time passing, of only the message that drifted between them.
It echoed after, but in her own mind. The note ended in curiosity, and part of her wanted to investigate further, to follow the message as it was, but there was nothing but a deep well of darkness behind. That answer wasn't going to yield so easily, it seemed, but before she could dwell on that the image changed. Kai seemed to know this one as well, she could feel the shiver through their link and unconsciously rounded her shoulders as though to ward off that same chill.
It was like something out of one of her dreams...
Before he opened his eyes, she opened her own, staring at him. There was a look in her eyes. She knew he could see it; for once, it seemed, the cold Doctor had real emotion beneath that ice queen demeanor, and it was one of intense focus and scrutiny. "You didn't," she replied, but as the tome drifted back down her hands began to shake again, and she felt dizzy. She closed her eyes, drawing down a little bit, trying to stop the world from going spinny on her.
When she could finally feel the world slow enough for her to process her surroundings, she slowly looked back up to him. He may not be handsome in the way that most of the galaxy seemed to apply it, but there was a certain ghoulish charm to him. Perhaps that was why she couldn't quite say no just yet; there was a macabre edge they both shared.
It was rather nostalgic, in a way. Disgustingly so. "What was that place?" she asked him directly, hands settling on her knees. "You seemed to know it."
It was a lot for a person to take in all at once. He could see Ilana took a moment to recover from the disorientation. When he opened his eyes she had been staring at him. Shaking hands, rapid blinking, numerous signs told him how she was feeling without even needing to use the force.
"The planet is called Bal'demnic" He knew of it since Fortress Infernum was there and was the acting head quarters of the Knight of Ren. "I think the tome is saying what we're looking for is there, at a temple. It's not easy to get to though." It required two force sensitives to open the Temple. Two practitioners of the dark side. But he did not say that to her, not yet.
"If you want to go there I could use your help. But for now..." He took the book and set it aside. They could look into it more later but Malakai had a feeling it would more or less yield the same information. "...I think we've had enough training for today." He had pulled back the curtain on the truth. Ilana knew she had the potential for doing great things with the Force if she desired. If he knew her as well as he liked to think he did, she would eventually want to learn more.
The Grysk switched to a lighter and far less serious tone. "Feel like doing anything else today." A small pained grunt came from him as he leaned back into the chair again. Taking a deep breath his presence in the force returned to the cloaked status it had before. Once again he was back to being some street punk trying to recover from his wounds.
She listened, leaning back in her own seat on the couch with a sigh. She had no idea how long they had been sitting there, looking for answers... but her hair was dry now. She slid a hand through the long white strands, face turned to inwardly process what he had said. The planet name was familiar, but not in any relevant way she could recall. Perhaps it was significant at one point, but truth be told she had no real need to understand yet.
She wanted to learn more, but clearly he thought it was enough. Perhaps she had been pushing her limits... but she wasn't going any further than today anyhow. It was a partial answer... how like them to leave such an alluring piece on her mind. Like any other puzzle, really, but different... this had a need attached to it. She was already beginning to grasp what this was... but if he thought she was going to step away, he was sorely mistaken.
There was an idea... and wordlessly she got up, and slid on top of his lap. There was, perhaps, one thing that made sense in this galaxy, and that was that there were some needs that couldn't be denied. Curiosity was one... lust, another. He could probably guess which one as she placed a hand on his chest, and leaned forwards.
"I'm sure I can think of something creative later..." she rasped, leaning forward to press her lips, then her teeth against his neck in case he had any doubts. This wasn't anything sweet or tender, this was a need, and she didn't expect anything apart from fulfilling that need before carrying on.
Hell, she needed a good distraction right about now anyways. And probably, so did he. They were on vacation, after all.