Log:We Seek the Truth
It is nearing early afternoon, and the skies have cleared enough to pass for partially sunny. This is a rare occurrence on New Alderaan, especially in the winter cycles. The city sits firmly in the valley, with tall snow capped mountains on each side and a blanket of pine that move like a sea each time there's wind. Beneath the glare of Jaqall, the system's star, the snow glitters.
This is not the warmest place to be in the galaxy, but the city square has its locales where portable heaters have been stationed. Speeders slowly move about, some are parked, and many people move along the stone pathways dressed in cloaks and carrying out their day to day.
Winter fete live entertainment is being held in the square, among the monuments, where a stage has been decorated (and kept warm) for a choire to sing. Aryn stands at a vendor that sells spiced hot cider. She had placed an order for two, and when they were set on the counter, she carried both back to Chani.
Standing near one of the heaters provided by the city for its passersby and visiting tourists, Chani is not watching the Princess of Alderaan stop by a vendor for hot cider. Instead, her gaze is turned up, where her dark eyes drink in the sight of mountain peaks in the distance. The Droalder Mountain range stands tall towards the sky, completely dusted by snow. It's a beautiful sight. It's also one that's caused a slight wrinkle in the bridge of her nose because how her brows knit closer to one another and her nose pinches up. There are subtly dark circles under her eyes, indicating that she did not sleep well the past night. Chani draws her robes closer around her body and embraces her forearms with her cold fingers, trying to provide some warmth.
The look she gives Aryn when the blonde arrives is one that is grateful. "Thank you." Unclapsed hands reach out to surround the drink that's steaming and wafting up into the air as hot liquid contends with the cold air. She doesn't sip at first. Instead, her gaze casts itself out on the sentients passing by and using the city center as a hub to travel to other places. Many visit the restaurant and stores here, seeking warm food and awrm shelter simultaneously. Attempting to turn her mind off, she lets her eyes close and a deeper breath exhale from her mouth. It's difficult to avoid conjuring up the disturbing images from the night before. Especially the glove in the snow.
"You are welcome," Aryn replies, braving a sip from her cider and turning her gaze up to the mountain ranges. "It is a wondrous and dangerous beauty.." She says cryptically, "..the mountains, I mean. From here they seem majestic and quiet, just a display nature has provided to remind us how small in the scheme we are." She smiles, appearing well rested despite the action from the night before. "How are you holding up?" Aryn adopts a slow paced walk, guiding them down the street and along the outer walkways of the square. With little to no wind today, it is easy to find comfort beneath Jaqall's light.
Chani's eyes open to look to Aryn, catching the blonde's gaze turned towards the mountains. She looks at them again, and offers nothing but a subtle hum in agreement. Or understanding. Or something. "It was hard to get to sleep. Every time I closed my eyes, I felt like I was seeing that glove again. I've never seen anything like that before in my life. Even when the First Order was on Naboo, the worst I ever saw was people being hit in the streets. Nothing like.. that. That's not even considering the rest of the team." There had been more than a few bodies, and though they had mostly been frozen, the state they were in had not been pleasant. A week ago, she would have never imagined she would see such things in her life. A week ago, all she thought she could do was play the harp well. Things are advancing quickly in her life.
"I am sorry you had to see those things. It is never easy witnessing violence, especially when it is as grotesque as what we discovered last night. The Jedi Code teaches us the balance of life and how things transpire. From the code, we develop an understanding of this seemingly cruel nature and discover a larger perspective to it all." Aryn turns on the path, leading them toward one of the parks where tall pine trees loom high, and statues have been erected. There are few people here in the park, and those that are, pass by lost in their own conversations.
"You may find comfort in the tenets of the code. For generations it has been used as a guide to mitigate these experiences you replay in your mind. Do you know the words of the Jedi Code?"
Chani takes a sip of the cider before turning to follow Aryn away from the heater. The chill starts to set in not long after, but moving under the warm robes helps to generate her own heat. The cider, too, warms the exposed hands that are wrapped around it, bleeding the hot temperature of the drink into the fingers pressed around its surface. Her booted footsteps tap along the walkway, grinding loose snow into the duracrete in the process. "There's no need to apologize, Your Highness. I recognize that I asked for it when I asked you to bring me with you. Knowing there was danger, I should have prepared myself better for what we might find." The scent of the pines they pass by is rich, and offers something aromatic versus the sterile scent of the winter day. "I read about it in the book from the archives yesterday. I know it talked about serenity, peace, and avoiding chaos and emotion, and grasped that it was about controlling the self. I admit, I'm finding that difficult."
Chani and Aryn walk along the path of a park. The park consists of monument statues discolored by the elements and tall pine trees. There are not many people in the park, and those who are there have private conversations as they walk the paths. It is partially sunny today, nearing early afternoon, and the snow glitters both from the mountain tops and here in Bastion City.
Aryn keeps her pace beside Chani, holding her own hot cider with both hands. "You did well last night, showed bravery. It is a rare feat, bravery, but it surfaces when you least expect it."
"Our code is meant more for reflection. Recall our time at the temple, when you focused on immersing yourself with your surroundings? Reflection begins by obtaining that sort of connection again, but then it evolves. Instead of trying to hone in on what is happening around you; the focus is meant to be more holistic. Think of a camera's focus panning out, away from one spot to encompass the whole picture. This is known as centering yourself. You remind yourself of the balance in nature; a balance that is explained in our code:"
"There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force."
Aryn pauses along the path and turns to look at Chani. "It is easy to assign emotion to events like the one we experienced last night. It is natural for us to feel obligated by this emotion, to find vengeance for the innocent because we have this power to do so. However, when you remove these reactive filters from view, and center yourself to focus on what we seek; truth is what you will find. Truth is what we seek."
"At first, I wanted to hide. I was scared. Seeing everyone else fight, though.." Chani trails off, allowing the thought to finish itself without needed words. Aryn begins speaking of reflection, and Chani decides to do some of that by lapsing into silence while the blonde explains. As the woman speaks the lines, Chani recalls them with familiarity. Yes, these are the words she'd read in the text she'd read in the archive. When the noble woman stops, so does she, and her eyes refuse to drop or go anywhere else. She meets Aryn's. "I don't feel any kind of need for vengeance or a desire to hurt those animals. I.. actually felt sorry for the one that was caught in the ramp. I didn't want it to suffer like that, even though I knew it wanted to hurt us. I feel sorry for the passing of those people, but I don't blame those animals."
A bright blue cloak breaks up the glittering background as an Alderaanian guardsman and his redheaded companion step into view. The two appear to be avoiding other people as they make their way through the paths. Although their eyes linger on the horizon, they are working hard to keep their conversation private.
Wahl, a the companion donned in bright white durasteel armour, reaches over to knock pine needles off the guard's cape. "Don't worry. Just something on your shoulder..." The woman calms after the man swivels his head around. "Nobody is behind us or anything.
"Was it a bug? A spider?" He responds with a panicked expression.
"Nope. Just leaves from the tree." She consoles with a lighthearted giggle. "Anyway..." Her voice pauses as Aryn and Chani come into her direct line of sight. "I was watching this kid for my coworker for the day yesterday." Hands wave in odd motions as she tells her tale. "And this grey guy with a cane approached us. Sparing the gritty details, he made me feel...old?...no...not as in age, but as if I've been wasting the past few years." The agent defends the cane wielding 'guy' with continued dialogue. "It wasn't his fault. He wasn't insulting me or anything. My wandering mind was what did the damage."
Aryn and Chani are standing near each other favoring one side of a stone path within the park. The park is filled with aged statues tarnished by the elements, and tall pine trees. It is a partially sunny day, but cold. Bastion city sits in a natural valley with a range of snow-capped mountains that stretch further inland, and out along the bay to the sea. They're known as the Droalder mountains. Snow isn't just upon the peaks of this range though, it has dusted the entire city and the park included, where Jaqall's (the system's star) light makes it all glitter when observed from particular angles.
While Chani speaks about her experience of the situation the night before, Aryn attentively meets her gaze and listens, idly sipping from a steaming cider she holds with both hands in a cup. "You are correct about the animals. While they may have been the cause of death for those people on that dig, they are not solely to blame. Each Manka wore a collar, and Mr. Corr found a leash with a quick release. He suspects the Manka were set upon those explorers, then again on the Rangers. I believe something was found up there, and whatever it was cost everyone their lives because of it. My only regret is that we have very little to track the investigation any further."
Aryn turns slightly at the sound of approaching people, detecting bits of their conversation. She recognizes Agent Wahl, though the blue cloaked guardian of the city is unknown to Aryn. "Good day, my friends.." Aryn issues, raising one gloved hand to wave. Her words create a brief mist of warm breath in the chilled air.
Chani's lips part, expressing her humid breath as a misted cloud that dances and lifts, evaporating against the sky. Rather than continue down the line of thought they've been on, Aryn's notice of individuals approaching them leads Chani's gaze towards them. She changes what she's going to say, offering a, "Hello," to the blue-cloaked man and the white-armored woman as a combination. It comes with a respectful lean forward, bowing to them as a collective. The warm mug of cider in her hands is lifted after, providing thankful heat for her lips and inside as some of the cider leaves the confines of the cup. Only after the greeting does she turn her attention back to Aryn. "Despite being unprepared the first time, I am curious about the answers we've yet to find."
Whatever you might have thought about its namesake, one cannot deny that New Alderaan is a truly beautiful world. Made more so, in fact, by its colonists: the parks and city towers, gleaming architecture distanced by the ancient ruins of the planet's original natives like new growth growing around the footprints of long-dead giants. It is hope, and renewal. Nothing could be more beautiful than that.
But the elegance of the city's general population is at odds with Tharyn's image, which is earthy and hard amongst it. His leathers, the tall armored boots with microjet nozzles clustered around the ankles. The way he carries himself, like a security guard amongst a museum full of artists. He is an aspect of another nature separated from itself, transplanted here thanks to the technology of the time. But damn, does the beauty of New Alderaan captivate even him.
Tharyn walks into the city center by way of Skyway Road and the spaceport beyond. He looks like a traveler, so where else would travelers come from? And like a proper traveler he slows to behold the city as he does so, taking in the sights, his attention occasionally drawn by the flash of a vivid blue cloak and brighter armor as patrolling guards walk by. Finally, his attention is wrested fully from the parks and buildings by the sound of a familiar voice, and Tharyn looks on as Wahl helpfully brushes at her companion's cloak. He doesn't see the other ladies, being outside the park itself, but Wahl at least is viewed with some amusement in the moment.
The conversation stops. At least for the guardsman and the white-armoured woman. The two come to a relaxed halt as Aryn and Chani greet them. "Hello." The redhead greets plainly as she eyes the two before her. "Beautiful day..." She continues trying to come up with something else to add as the blue-cloaked man drops into a half-bow for both Aryn and Chani.
"Your Highness." He addresses in acknowledgement. "We apologize for interrupting your walk." The fellow defends in caution. "It was an accident." His hand points down the path. "The both of us were heading in that direction.
Wahl, feeling pressured, dips down into something that resembles a short bow. More of a nod to show of unity. "We'll be out of your way." The agent assures with a low tone.
"There is no need for apologies, sir. You have caused no offense. We were paused afterall," Aryn responds with genuine humor. "Though if you intend to be about your business, be well. Mother's blessing upon you both." Aryn finally offers her own bow, though it is curt and practiced. Being polite, she steps to one side to clear the way regardless of where the guard intended to go.
Aryn takes her cue from Wahl, who says nothing personable to mean she had no intention of speaking further. Aryn's hand returns to join its other in holding her steaming cup, and she watches both guard and Agent with mild interest. A moment or so passes before Aryn glances to Chani. "I am certain more will develop now that a small contingent of Rangers have deployed to the pass. I will give it a week before I inquire more about their findings."
Following the Princess' lead, Chani steps closer to the edge of the walkway rather than maintain her presence on one half of it. Nothing further need saying from the young woman, and nothing further is. She seeks solace, instead, in the warmth of her cider, and hones her mind back to the conversation prior, which Aryn continues by expanding on what she's already said. "I wonder if it was random.." Chani muses more aloud than says it directly to the blonde noble. It's an idle curiosity not quite captivated into a whole thought. "Do you..," Chani starts, and then deigns not to continue with the question. "Nevermind. It's not important right now. Should we go somewhere warmer?" While the Princess herself might be comfortable, Chani herself is feeling the effects of the cold.
The sun is bright enough to affect Tharyn's eyes, it would appear; the man extracts from his jacket a sleek pair of sunglasses, little more than a tinted ribbon of transparisteel with a thin chromium-plated frame and temple attachpoints. Thus shielded, he surveys the park, and it's then that he sees Wahl speaking with the Princess and her companion. At least, he doesn't /know/ it's the Princess, not at first. But as a person of obvious importance, he narrows his eyes to start up the data connection from the glasses to his ship, and then via instantaneous hypercomm link to the libraries of far distant Empress Teta. That's where the face is linked in the holographic displays that spring to life behind the tinted ribbon, and the name connected appears. Princess Aryn Cole of Alderran. /Cole/, he considers. /Not heard of that house before./ Then again, he's hardly well-educated on the nobility of Alderaan, new or otherwise.
Distant enough from the quartet to not be able to actually hear their words, and not quite so nosy to try and lip-read, Tharyn instead leans against a light pole and is content to simply observe from afar. He does that a lot, really. A piece of human furniture. Sometimes it's the best way to be in unfamiliar climes.
A stillness lingers about the guard as he realizes that Chani and Aryn are going to move past them. The man reaches out instinctively, "Your highness. Wait." He objects...retracting his arm with vigour after giving it a second though. The blood is drawn from his face as he instantly regrets his decision.
Meanwhile, Wahl's brow furrows with confusion. It's clear that the woman doesn't know why the guard has tried to prevent the princess from leaving. "Is everything OK?" She whispers as she watches the man's complexion drain. "You're acting strange." The woman adds with an equally as nervous glare.
Cole was Aryn's father side, ennobled and elevated further through marriage with Marian Cortess, Duchess of House Cortess and Aryn's mother. Her roots, while colored under a newer banner and House, dated back to ancient times of old Alderaan; a common thread and easy to find research if Tharyn's instrument provided a holistic review of Aryn's origins.
Aryn nods to Chani, affirming she agreed to move on, but halts when the guard expresses that she wait. Aryn's brow knit with concern and she regards her kinsman with a bit more scutiny, then Wahl who questions his behavior. "For what purpose," Aryn asks, inquiring why she must wait. Her tone has changed from light-hearted to concerned, and her eyes lift back to the one beneath the blue cloak of Alderaan. A peculiar feeling prompts Aryn to look back toward the city, and she sees passing folk and Tharyn, though she does not realize his gaze is heavy upon she and her companion, Ms. Chani.
She, too, has taken a step in moving on when the guard suddenly intones that the Princess wait. Chani halts with her, refusing to move on and settling her attention on the pair before them. Forced to wait, she seeks continued warmth through the mug of cider still in both hands. The bottom of the cup shows itself to the pair before them as Chani drinks from it, imbibing more of the warming liquid within while the temperature around them remains frigid. The sleeves of her outer shell almost eclipse her hands, with some of the fabric pinned between the cup and the soft skin of her palms. A gaze flicks itself between Aryn and the guard in question, curious as to why he looks so nervous and why his behavior is erratic. Erratic, she's assuming, because of the way his companion claims he's acting strange. Chani studies the other woman, too.
The good thing about sunglasses, of course, is that they hide they direction of the gaze. But let's be honest, the man looks suspect in many civilized climes thanks to his hollowed look and somewhat exotic (for civilization) mode of dress. I mean he didn't ride on on a speeder bike, now did he? Why the leathers? Unfortunately, Tharyn's worn holoencyclopedia unit masquerading as fancy shades is only powerful enough to tell him things like 'This is That Lady' or 'Beer is Good Here' or 'You Can Buy Cheap Sausage Here For a Quarter Credit And Not Die Of Food Poisoning' so a name is basically all he's going to get. Good enough for travelers, but his encylopedia is not quite so, ah, /encyclopedic/. But this is quite enough for Tharyn, being only curious and not an /actual/ spy.
He is not, however, oblivious to the sudden actions of the guard - and when the man's movements signal trouble, Tharyn straightens, his own security instincts kicking in. Not his planet, not his people, but he'd never be one to stand by and witness an assassination in progress without trying to help put it down.
The guard freezes up as Aryn comes to a stop. It's clear he hadn't expected to get this far, for whatever he was trying to do. He nervously clears his throat before speaking. "I'm sorry." The man takes a step back out of respect, his gaze buried into the ground. "It's nothing. I shouldn't have done that." The fellow's mind is clouded with anxiety despite his intentions being well meaning.
Wahl watches as the guard's mental state begins unravel. The woman rocks forward, putting herself against the man's side. She grabs his arm gently in an attempt to save him from further scrutiny. "Come on. Let's go." Her voice orders with a tug.
A brown-eyed gaze juts to meet Aryn's. "Sorry. We'll be out of your hair." The agent says as she steps away from the pair...almost dragging the guard along with her.
"The Mother has ears for all troubles, kinsman. Find her in prayer, and be safe in your travels." Aryn replies, thinking that maybe he faced troubles he wanted to share but lost the gumption to do. Aryn's first reaction was not suspicion but concern for her fellow man. Everyone had a personal war that was hidden from the surface.
Nodding, she looked to Wahl briefly, then finally to Chani. "Come. Let us return to the palace and enjoy the warmth of the hearth. The cold air is thick here, and I tire of its chill." Aryn leads the way with a subtle step and pivot, her cape jostling only in the initial movement before she sets pace to exit the park from another path.
That the man's reaction is swiftly calmed is a good thing - Tharyn nods quietly to himself, content that peace has returned. It's about then that the sunglasses also display that he has a call waiting, because /of course/ he does, and so the lean man pushes off from the lightpost and turns to go. New Alderaan can wait, alas, but it's a place he returns to often for work, so its glorious climes will not be ere too far away for long.