Log:Knights of Ren: Die Once, Live Forever
Far out on the edges of the galaxy lies Alpha Prime, the shadowy ocean world where the Knights of Ren were born, and where their history lies entombed in the rock of their ancient shrine. The icy gale of the salt breeze that washes over the island have been unable to weather away the monolithic structure of jagged, leaning stone, the temple's spires seemingly dropped there from space by only unhappy chance.
It was here they were brought when they were young in the Force, their first steps into darkness barely taken, and it is here they return, seeking guidance, seeking direction, and above all, seeking power. For who can say, what secrets the temple holds that were kept back from them by their old master? What knowledge he may have deemed too perilous to share?
The temple waits, its low-slung entrance filled with only shadow, and a trough of torches still waiting just within to shed light upon the darkness.
The older, 'more experienced' Knights of Ren did not return from Exegol.
Having gone to the surface during that fight himself, Oran can likely intuit their fate, though he was wise or lucky enough not to share it. In any event, they have left behind their Dungeon-class transport with the sexy, cool moniker of NIGHT BUZZARD, and it's this ship that Oran has commandeered for their mission. There is a forge they both remember, idle now, a number of creepy cells... creaks and groans aplenty as the heavily modified ship seems to resent its own continued existence. Toxic fumes pour out of the ship like thoughtless spite, and only cease as the vessel slowly winds down to rest.
Its occupants continue toward the temple, and Oran pauses at the entrance, looking over to Erisi. "If I don't come back from this mission," he remarks, "Know that I died doing what I loved. Arrogant lunacy." He walks forward.
Erisi's masked head is tilted back, her hood drawn back to expose her super tiny orange of a head, the fancy leather mask covering her features neatly. Hands raise up to unlace the back of the mask, pulling it away to reveal her slightly pink features, eyes harboring a look of dark delight as she turns her head slightly to look at Oran, "And if I die, well. It's about time, I suspect, the galaxy took it's pound of flesh from me." Winking heavily lined lashes she looks back to the entrance, the mask is folded up and settled into a pocket on the front of her robes as she moves just a few steps behind Oran, robes swirling around her feet, "I know I didn't say it on the flight here because I was lost in thought, but I /love/ that ship." So creepy. In through the entrance she steps, to death, knowledge, guidance, and power.
As the flames flicker into life and cast their dancing light upon the stark planes of the temple, illuminating the walls, floor, and ceiling. Ahead lies the rubble of the statue to Snoke's hubris, the engineered ruler that history will remember unkindly if at all. In the midst of the shattered stone, lines carved through the rock draw an intricate web of channels that spiral inevitably toward the many-faceted orb embedded in the floor. Free of the monument's obstruction, it calls to the pair, a dim light pulsing at regular intervals in its glassy depths.
On the far wall, the mural of Ren in all his stylized, simplistic glory gleams a bit more brightly under the light of the torches. Here and there, the floor is stained with rusty brown spatters.
"It has rather a stupid name," Oran remarks about the ship, "I don't suppose I've the mind to change it though. Here I am, under cover of darkness, to pick what I can from dead things. Who am I to question the Night Buzzard?" The tone is dry, and his progress through the temple is conducted at a brisk, wary walk until they reach the inner chamber. The remnants of Smoke... the murals, the orb. The ominous streaks on the ground. Oran's eyes are drawn to the murals at first, they studied those once, along with a number of comrades whose talent or ambition was unworthy to ultimately lead them back here and now. But it's the orb that commands attention, the orb, and Oran slowly moves toward it, a hand out as though he can't help himself. Like a moth to the bug-zapper.
"Oh my Goddesses, that's your new moniker; the Night Buzzard." Where his tone is dry, hers drips with black humor, "He who comes in the night." Hands lift in front of her and sweep out as if imagining his name in lights on some seedy bar in Ko Hentota. Hazel eyes dance, though the draw of the orb and the memories that fill this chamber put a damper on her inner laughter, drawing her instead back to the ultimate purpose for 'being here. A final inward breath before she allows the gravitas of this place weigh down upon her.
"I remember spilling blood here." A momentary pause, the sound of dry lips parting with a soft 'feh', dark smile curving her lips as she reaches out with a gloved hand to touch fingertips to steaks of black mingled with that rust, "Setting it aflame." Echoes of her footfall follows her as she walks around the remnants as she drags her fingers, stopping to touch the lower half of the mural of Ren, head drawn back to look up. Silent reverie, playback of previous times touching within her mind and smoldering out.
She'll glance over her shoulder, fingers still splayed on the wall, to look over at Oran as he's drawn in towards it. Eyes move in small increments, studying the man, the orb, the scene before her, soon finding herself moving without even having realized she was, hand now outstretched to the orb in a similar manner. Her breath catches in her throat, gaze intense on the orb, not tired, but ..commanded. To touch. To know.
"Who says that I am dead?"
The voice is distorted and processed in that same familiar way they've heard from their old leader so many times. The orb catches the pulse into a steady glow, and the image appears again before them: a lifesize figure projected in white light, robed, masked, and shot through by occasional tinges of blue or red through parts of the body.
"I feel it now. The one who came before is gone. Only you remain. Only you to carry my legacy. Only you, to teach the blind to see."
Thick arms cross over the figure's plain robes, the luminous cape he wears hanging motionless behind him. "One of you must touch the darkness and survive. One of you must wear the mask. Decide."
The image flickers and vanishes, and the room fills with the sound of grinding stone as the wall displaying Ren's mural begins to recede into the floor, revealing a chamber concealed behind it all of this time, and within, atop a glassy black pedestal, a black helmet, accented with silver.
It seems probable that Oran would normally kick up a fuss about being called the Night Buzzard, the /ship/ is the Night Buzzard, for all that both vessel and pilot might spew deleterious content forth into the galaxy at large. But such is the command of the orb, and of this place, that he doesn't (or can't?) spare the focus to argue with Erisi. All of his attention, all of his mind, is being drawn into this place, and to the ghostly figure that presides over it.
"Me," Oran answers without hesitation, and the embers of anger that have been smoldering since his encounter with Ben Solo seem to flare up to life. "He was weak, and he has fallen, he was unstable and unworthy to the task. I'm here to do what he couldn't. I will take it."
He should probably question why there's a helmet on a pedestal back here; what that means and the probable unsafety of it. But they didn't come here to be safe, did they? Oran steps toward it, determined.
"/Oh/, like, wear the mask /and/ survive the darkness, I .." They all know what Eri thought. One of them fights the darkness while the other darts off with the mask. She cuts herself off, knowing full well the weightiness of this moment and not wanting to ruin it further for Oran. Caught in her foible she listens at first to the wall dropping, turning her head to look back at it and Oran as he begins to move, "I was totally gonna fight the darkness so you could wear it, so ..." Right hand lifts, gestures swiftly through the air as Oran steps forwards in his determination to do what Kylo/Ben couldn't, "Have fun."
Different kinds of power for different kinds of people, and Erisi, as strong as the hunger for power is, isn't interested in the least in the kind that would make her responsible for others. Stepping back she crosses her arms loosely in against her abdomen, grabbing either forearm with opposite hand, waiting to see what happens. If he dies she gets his stuff, so win win either way.
While it may appear to be a simple piece of armor, the Dark Side energy that emanates from the helmet is unmistakable to either of them, the relic left here by devoted followers according to specific instructions. As Oran steps into the room, another sound fills the main chamber as the twisting web carved into the floor slowly illuminates with a baleful red glow, a sort of low-pitched thrumming as if some massive dynamo far below them is humming into life. Erisi's feet and then the lower part of her garments and then her face are all eventually lit by the network chiseled into the stone, now looking eerily similar to pulsating red veins running through the living rock.
"There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going, Erisi. We were never going to trick this place with a smash-and-grab," Oran warns his companion, though it sounds like his attention is a little unfocused, drawn as it is into this evil helmet vortex. A hint of a smile, "Although I appreciate your solidarity." KOR! RIDE OR DIE!
The eerie red glow can't be good, but it's not stopping or even slowing Oran, and if he can get close enough to the helmet to touch it, he will attempt to take it. The dark side energy is potent, hot, unmistakable, a pool that's unsafe to enter.. and which he's jumping into anyway, regardless of the threat of instant immolation.
"But a girl can dream for such a caper to come her way." Eri murmurs as the floor begins to glow, the humming reverberating through her feet like tickling fingers, tantalizing the woman to look down as the room infuses red. The darkness, it's sweet.
Like a lick of honey dew after a first rain. Lips part just so, teeth revealed in a soft smile, head cocking to the right which sends bangs askew. Lashed flutter, and as if in a dream she every so slowly lowers herself to her knees as she pulls her gloves off, letting them drop down to the network of veiny goodness. It might not be good, but neither is Erisi.
And where Ren turned to the light she wilingly and wantonly gives in the darkness. And shall do so again, and again, and again. Fingers splay as she reaches her hands out once down on her knees, robes enveloped around her like blackened waves in a fiery glow, and plants her palms down first, fingers curling outwards, touching down upon the stone to commune.
When Oran's hand touches the helmet, an image immediately presses itself into his brain along a line of searing heat that spreads from his hand up his arm and into his head. Similarly, hot energy burns under Erisi's fingers, traveling up her arms to display the vision to her as well. Stretching up out of the blackness before him, dozens of figures rise, dressed in black, irregular armor, each a variation on the same theme, each helmeted, each bearing cruel, deadly weapons, here and there the glow of a red-bladed lightsaber among them.
At their head, stood atop the bodies of a white-robed Jedi and a black-robed, redfaced Sith, is a figure in a black robe, caped, helmeted, a triumphant red blade held burning in the sky. Lightning strikes the blade and the mask cracks, splinters away, revealing a glimpse at Oran's own face.
The red veins in the floor continue to pulse, Erisi's attempts at communal drawing energy away through her palms into the floor, and the apparition of Ren appears again, still luminescent and pale, but while the vision unfolds, the ghostly figure solidifies into a dull grey and steps down from the light projected above the orb onto the floor.
"A dream will only ever be a dream unless it is tested."
A red beam of energy activates in his hand with a crackling hiss and menacing hum.
Pain. Pain. PAIN! Oran manages to avoid 'Grayson is doing medical procedures without anesthetic cause Kylo said so' levels of screaming, but he does make a startled, unhappy, strangled noise or surprise and hurt when the fire burns through his hand and his arm, his mind, his core. He gasps in a breath, ragged at first, trying to will his body into compliance with something other than white-hot paroxysms of suffering. The mask cracks and there he is, looking up at himself, glassy-eyed and beheaded. Oran studies it for a moment, searching for imperfections... finding none... yeah those brows are looking perfect. Good. Then he reaches out to shove his head and helmet completely off the pedestal, careless of where it ends up, and draws his own weapon! Snap-HISS!
"We are not afraid of this. We are not afraid of you," Oran grinds back at "Ren" through clenched death. "Do your worst. I will have this power, no matter the cost. Die once, live forever."
Erisi's scarred and burnt palms feel the familiar jolt of fiery pain, lessons learned time and time again by trial and error, until she /learned/ to control the flame. The fire. The pain. Truth be told she ached for that pain at times, every now and again trying to find a spark that came even close to the original experience, but all had been dim facimiles up until now.
An inward gasp of air draws sharply between her teeth, though no other sound escapes her by pure will, Eri intent on keeping everything internal so she can best relive those fleeting moments, drawing in the pain to the very marrow of her bones. Her body shakes, trembles, hands pressed harder into the stone despite the fight or flight response telling her to snake her hands back and run.
Images sear into vision and mind, flickering tongues eating and braying at her temples, seeking to drill deeper and deeper as she watches, feeling the fire within her feeding away from her.
Shakily she breathes as the vision draws away and reality comes back into focus, air drawn more heavily as her chin tilts up as head lifts back, the vision of that grey figure coming into focus as it steps down. A shiver then as the apparations blade shunts to life, Eri uncurling from her stance on the floor, slowly but surely, shoulders first then her back, drawing hands away from the stone as knees straighten to bring her up to a stand. "The first time I drew flame was the last day I felt fear." A declaration, the familiar thrum of power rousing within the hazel-eyed woman, blood carrying pathways within her flesh thrumming up to a glow not unlike the vein-work in the stone beneath her feet. She's ready.
The last Knights face down Ren's ghost made real, with the lightsaber glowing in his hand, and earn an appreciative "Good. But will alone will not save you."
The blade whirls out as quickly as the lightning in the vision, clashing with Oran's and proving that here in this place, at least, Ren is alive and well, a spirit, a vision, a projection, a ghost, whatever it is or may be, the contact of the weapons produces both resistance and a flash of light before the weapon hurtles next towards Erisi, passing so close to her that the heat is tangible for the woman's hyperattuned pyromania sensitivities.
"It might." Oran blocks the attack and presses his own, a clash of red blades, one against the other! "You've not run up against the extent of it yet." The sabers scrape and hum and spark against one another, both refusing to relent, wielded fast and harsh by opposing forces that are, as yet, fairly evenly matched. He lacks a formal 'saber style' as the Jedi are so fond of following; Oran was trained by Kylo Ren, and what can be said of his 'style' leans a lot into unadulterated rage. Little faster and quicker; he doesn't have the same raw physical power, but the principle's much the same. The blade hums, and his mind reaches out, knowing and trusting the fellow Knight with him --- there will be fire, and if it burns true, there will be an opportunity immediately following. Just have to be aware, ready, strike at the right moment...
"I exist as pure will, rage and fizzy soda." Erisi states, words tumbling after Orans as she focuses her energy just as Kylo taught -- to find herself in the maelstrom and to bend it to her will rather than letting it take her over. To give in but take over as soon as it touches her. Scarred and bubbled hands turn palms up, fingers bending towards her palm as she rakes that rage through the air, heated air matching the heat of the blade that missed her only moments before.
Letting her left foot slide back she rears into setting the flames loose on Ren, giving Oran his chance as it burns true and licks at the apparation made solid, settling into a familiar dance with the Knight. Hands release and she rakes through the air again gathering that energy up for the next attack after Orans' deft saber work.
The fire catches in Ren's robes, but he doesn't even move to slap the flames out, continuing his attack with sure steps and a steady onslaught of blows that crack and sizzle against Oran's saber. The flurry of motion and something endemic to the fabric itself, whether the material or immaterial nature, smothers the fire before it has a chance to spread and engulf his figure entirely. The two are not the raw novices they once were, and no ground is given up on either side.
Abruptly, the ghost comes to a halt, holding the blade up in front of his body vertically in the old fashion before deactivating it and speaking again with his processed voice, filtered through the mask. "Go then. Put on the mask. Let who you were before fall away. Arise anew."
The vacant stare of his masked face fixes on the other man. "Arise, Malik Ren. You have work to do." With another flicker, the image fades away again, and the red light bleeds out of the floor, leaving the chamber feeling cold and barren once more.
The fight abruptly ends, just like that --- they've fought together over and over by this point, a well-choreographed machine of slash and burn, and Oran is all ready to press the advantage when that saber goes vertical, signaling the halt, cessation. He doesn't seem to know what to make of it, pausing suspiciously, and the voice continues. Malik Ren?
The light is gone, the image is gone, and a pause lingers, blade extinguishing. Silence hangs for a moment, and then Oran reaches out to pick up that black and silver helmet, and put it on. The Force moves in aberration; something is happening, changing. Something broken and something new, a flood of raw energy, searing darkness, pain and anger and passion and vengeance...
Oran? Malik? Stumbles a step, but manages to remain standing, staggered and and struggling. He might be screaming, hard to tell if the vocoder's on. They wanted power, they found it.
Unlike Oran, once Eri has started she can't just turn herself off like that. Because she doesn't want to. Sensing a shift in the scenery and the sudden end to the test she lets out a throaty grunt, having to direct the swell for joyful rage in her chest. So with a sweeping swing of her arms, like she's knocking crap off a table, she sends flames up in a curtain along the chamber walls, dark corners that might have found purchase seared of their shadows.
It's a hot flash, gone as quickly as it came, flowing from the floors upwards, licking like hungry animals all the way up and across the ceiling and snuffing out into smokey ash and nothingness. Motes of burnt black float down, dust and cobwebs that had gathered burnt away. Breathing heavily her shoulders will sag a little as she looks off towards Oran and watching the transformation.
Swinging left palm up to push bangs out from sweaty forehead she watches and then moves to help steady the struggling man, "Together we /rise/, Malik, and forge a path forwards. The past is nothing. It exists no longer." Breathy whisper as hands finds rib and the other a shoulder, leaning in to prop him up with her equally as small frame. Also ..is she Oran now? She has no idea how this works.
The surge of power ceases just as abruptly as the fight did, and not-Oran drops like a puppet with the strings cut. Is he dead?! How anti-climatic! No, no... there he goes picking himself up off the floor again, slowly. But when Erisi moves to help --- something is different. Something is off. She can't read his expression through the mask, but he moves away from her in a manner that clearly suggests /I don't know you/, and his right hand is moving for the saber again ---
A pause. He stops. It's a long pause. "Erisi," the man finally decides, as though remembering. His demeanor relaxes and he allows her to assist, accepts her help, and the voice filtered through the vocoder is familiar, Coruscanti... if changed, a little, by this new equipment. "Let's go."
A hint of a smile heard rather than felt. "We have work to do."