Thursday, 18 April 2013

Future Deliberations

Part 14 of my Star Wars short story.

Future Deliberations

“Ah.” Master Yoda hobbled around, exhibiting rare restlessness. He finally settled down.
“Most interesting your story is.”
Wraith sat cross-legged at the very centre of the council chambers. He clasped his hands together, taking extra care not to make any sudden movements. He unrestrained the Force within him, allowing the Master Jedi inside the chambers to fully sense his powers. No secrets or deception: just bare naked truth.
After the altercation at the Temple entrance, Wraith had been escorted to the Council Chambers. He had surrendered his weapon to Master Yoda; “for the sake of civility,” he explained. It now hovered in a magnetic cell. None of the other Council members were happy about this: in fact, hostility lingered like a foul stench. When Yoda bade him to begin, Wraith bowed to each member present. He then sat down, making sure to put his hands in full view and finally settled down cross-legged. His movements were slow and deliberate; not that it mattered. They could sense his power and how vast it was.
Once they settled down, and the conspicuous Temple Guard settled themselves on the outside of the chambers, surrounding it like ants to a farm, Wraith began his tale. He relied to them everything, from his past as a Sith assassin, to the commando mission against Grievous to his prison sentence. He divulged the details of his enlightenment to Yoda, looking the small green creature dead in the eye.
Finally it was Mace Windu who posed the most pending question with very little tact.
“What do you want?”
Wraith took a deep breath. It was now or never.
“Your backing. I will divulge every bit of information I know. But we both know that even with that knowledge, the Republic army is spread too thin to deal with the insurgents I speak of. There are other Sith, still in hiding, and I ask to deal with them.”
A collective look of confusion and perplexity flashed through the collective members.
“You want to ‘deal’ with them?” repeated Windu.
“Yes.” The simple reply seemed to infuriate the Jedi Master even more. His eyes darkened when he replied.
“The Sith are a Jedi matter. We do not entrust our forces to anyone other than the Jedi. Especially not to a former Sith with a very questionable story and training in deceit.”
“Yes, my story is unbelievable,” repaid Wraith. “But I do not seek your forces. I have seen the future. All of them in fact.” He looked every master in the eye. “In some I saw victory; in others, terror. But the Sith I speak of are in none. I must pave the way for the Clone Wars to run their course and let destiny take its due. I seek to restore balance to your universe.”
He spoke directly to Windu. “And I am the only one who can do it.”
“Are you saying that only you are powerful enough?”
“Yes.” Wraith paused. “You have all felt my power. Saw first-hand demonstration of it. That was just a fraction of what I shall unleash on those who seek to upturn balance.”
“Sources to spare, we have not.” Master Yoda’s voice cut through the tension.
“I do not seek your resources, Master,” replied Wraith. “I am merely telling you what to expect from me.” He uncrossed his legs aand placed his feet firmly on the ground. “I will seek out these Sith and eliminate them. With or without your approval.”
Silence rang in the chambers when Wraith finished. He placed both hands on his knees and leaned forward, as in to challenge any Jedi to speak. They all remained silent.
“Very well,” he said. “It seems that coming here was futile after all.” He rose from his seat and half the council members, including Windu, did the same.
“You do not honestly think that we will allow a Sith, even an allegedly reformed one, to leave this place do you?” asked Windu menacingly. Wraith turned his back to him and extended an arm towards the magnetic lock holding his lightsaber. Using the Force, the apparatus short circuited and the weapon zoomed into his awaiting hand.
Chaos erupted as every member, save Yoda who sat calmly on his chair, reached for their own weapon. The door hissed open and Temple Guards flooded the chamber, their pikes unignited, but at the ready.
“Perhaps to an agreement, we can come.” Yoda’s words had power in them. Everyone halted their movements, speaking only with their gazes.
“Wraith,” continued Yoda as his chair unhinged and he hovered about on a circular cushioned disk. “Our resources you do not need, yes?” he asked Wraith as he hovered around him.
“Yes,” replied Wraith as he eyes the Jedi surrounding him and their weapons.
“And no resources we have to give you, yes?”
“Then we are in agreement,” said Yoda with a laugh.
“It seems your council disagrees, Master Yoda,” replied Wraith. Yoda let out a chuckle.
“Because see what I see, they do not. Master Windu,” said the elderly Jedi as he addressed his partner. “Find no objection to eliminate Sith you do not.”
“That is true, Master Yoda,” replied Windu.
“But not your duty to the Jedi Order it is, yes?”
“That is also correct, Master Yoda.”
“Then no objection to Wraith doing it do you not have?”
“I do not trust Sith. Not to mention the issue of teams. We do not have the manpower for such a task.”
“Trust him I do not. But believe that he can -do it, I do. A team we do not have, but a ship we can spare.”
“How will that be of any help?” asked Windu.
“It will, if his own team he can find.”
The Council fell silent.
“An interesting idea,” said Wraith. “I shall operate like a Jedi Shadow of the Old Republic. But with my own crew members of non-Jedi. Now that I think about it, it is the perfect Shadow tactic. You still employ Shadows do you not?”
“Eliminated the need for them was.” Master Yoda looked away. “Bad decisions, even great minds make.”
“Then allow me the luxury of a ship and some time to meditate on my destination, and I shall come back with results,” said Wraith.
“More than that I shall give, if more than that I wish to receive,” said Yoda. “Like you, I do. Think you are evil, I do not. Misguided in the past you were. But sought redemption on your own you have. A great quality that is, greater than shown by most Jedi it is. More than a ship and time I shall give you. Help you seek balance, I shall. Teach you that way of the Light, I will.”

Friday, 5 April 2013

How Chocolate Choked Me - a Story from the Archives in my Head

I realize that lately I haven't posted anything funny, or indeed anything that was not strictly work related. So I think it's just about time were break this pattern. I'm not gonna bore you with details of my life during my absence: suffice it to say that I'm awaiting publishing news and it's mindfucking me. (I went 53 words without swearing - that's my new record during these troubled times).

So instead I decided to share with you guys a meaningless episode from my childhood which nearly left me dead. Oh, I can taste the funny already!

So. . .

This happened around the time I was eleven. Now you should know something about me as a kid: I was a glutton. I still have a ravenous sweet tooth but I like to think that over the years I have grown to control myself. People who have lived with me for any period of time may disagree but then again, this is my blog and my story, so I'll spin it however I damn well please. Anyone who disagrees is cordially invited to kiss my ass.

Anyway, back to the story. I have previously discovered the joy of putting a spoonful of white sugar in your mouth and letting the coarse crystals slowly brush against my tongue as they dissolved and became the progenitors of what I think will me the mother of all diabetic sucker punches. But I digress.
Having enjoyed the sugary taste, I sneaked downstairs into the kitchen once in order to shove white crystals in my mouth (sugar not meth). You should know that at that time I developed ninja skills to sneak past my mother or as I called her back then, the anti-sugar warden. Somehow under the guise of making coffee for the entire family, who was watching some crappy show upstairs. I thought I would reward my preteen taste buds with a spoonful of white crystal poison.
It was around this time that perhaps a week before, I had discovered the unique taste of hot chocolate and the elation it gave me every time it tickled my taste buds. So after I dunked a spoonful of sugar inside my mouth, I went ahead and prepared the beverages for my family.
Now here you can get a glimpse of how an idiot's mind works. I thought that if white sugar, in crystals tasted so good, so would the chocolate power, except it would be ten times the fun thanks to its chocolaty goodness.
So, enlightened as I was, I dunked my still-moist teaspoon inside the chocolate powder, scooped up a small powdery brown mound and promptly put it in my mouth, expecting to see cherubim and to have a slight orgasm as my sense of taste went in overdrive.

What happened next nearly took a turn to the macabre.

Now to this day I don't know what chocolate company it was, because I refused to consume anymore hot chocolate after this event, but they are lucky I didn't sue them, even though I'm an idiot.

I don't know how something so good could turn so deadly. Once the powdered chocolate hit my saliva, it morphed into a giant ball of death that lodged itself behind my throat and held fast. I could feel a small lump behind my trachea as if I had a Gremlin trying to escape or perhaps one of the hatchlings from the movie Alien. I suppose the fantasy geek that I am today would have thought it cool to have dragonite: but back then I was too busy trying not to choke to death. (I apologize if I lost half of you due to my erratic references: my reference range starts somewhere in 1972 and goes on until 2050).

So to summarize; I had snuck downstairs to have a spoonful of sugar, decided to upgrade to chocolate powder and then the chocolate evolved into a Stephen King short story. At this point, the stealth had been completely lost as I was bent over the sink drinking water straight from the tap, to try and dislodge the chocolate ball of death from my windpipe. I was making hacking noises that would have disgusted your cat.

During all of this, my parents were in the living room upstairs, enjoying a tv show from the late 70's which the entire world forgot about other than to Italian channels which my country latched onto like a bunny in heat.
My mother with her raptor like senses first sensed the disturbance in the Force, whilst my more mellow Dad couldn't care less about the world outside the cheesy kickboxing scene where the same guy wins Ike and time again against extras who were probably underpaid for their services.
"Ryan. Are you Ok?" I heard her ask.

It is here that I must pause and ponder on this fact. The mechanics of choking are easy enough to understand. I can't fucking breath! So how, in the name of all that is dumb, was I supposed to miraculously manage to inhale enough air and yell back a response, when my lungs were burning and my brain cells were dying.

So let me clear something up for everybody. When someone is panicking because they are dying, having you yell questions at them is not the ideal way to deal with that situation. I couldn't answer back.

So my mother yelled harder.

Here's what confuses me. Did she expect to scare the chocolate ball of doom away by using her mom voice? What could yelling at a suffocating person accomplish other than making their last moments alive a living hell because you had to scream instead of shutting the fuck up?!
What's more; as I stood bent over the sink trying to hack up the chocolate, my mother's voice became more urgent.
Causing me to panic even more.

Mind you, I'm not tryin to put down my mom or anything. All I'm saying is that even smart people can become dumb in some situation and it took my near death to get some blond moments out of my mother.
Again, thanks mom.

It was my dad who came to my rescue. Unlike my mom, dad keeps a cool head in dire situations: this is the guy you want around during an emergency. He quietly can down the stairs and, completely ignoring me, he heated the kettle up and waited.
By now I had become something of a tall smurf and I could just make out a giant scythe as a shadowy figure in a black tattered robe pointed and laughed at me. So yeah, the Grim Reaper is a jackass. Just in case you were wondering.
Methodically, my dad reached out for a glass and poured scalding water straight from the kettle into the glass. He promptly grasped my chin with one hand as he poured the boiling water down my throat.
Now before you start judging remember that this guy saved my life my melting the powder in my throat. Secondly, my dad is tough. As in old school tough. I mean not only did his guy build the old school, he went over the site and built it himself because he wouldn't hire any damn foreigners.
Needless to say, it hurt a lot. There were no permanent injuries except that my lips became twice the size of Angelina Jolie's and my tongue devolved into a thick red raw mass the size of Kim Kardashian's ass.
There was a lot of crying and whining with my dad giving me subliminal looks. After about an hour or two I was somewhat OK, albeit scared out of my wits.

As soon as they tucked me in and said goodnight I asked them whether I could stay home from school after such a traumatic event and having my face look like something out of a horrid reality show.
My parents did not even blink.
"You can breath and you can talk. That's all you need for school. Next time stay away from the hot chocolate."

So I guess I learnt two things that night. 1. If you are choking on something powdery, drinking water at volcanic levels of heat might just do the trick.
And 2. If you think that you can get out of school by choking on a ball of chocolate and then have the insides of your mouth scalded by the same boiling water that saved your life - think again. It doesn't work.

Take my word for it. I've tried.

Temple Rumble

This is part 13 of the Star Wars short story. Enjoy.

Temple Rumble

They floated out of the Temple like ants. Jedi, in an assortment of robes and lightsabers, ran out and soon the plaza was a mass of colourful blades and different lifeforms. There was a large number of masked warriors in tan and brown, a mask covering their features. They carried yellow lightsaber pikes consisting of two short thick blades humming menacingly.
Wraith held his ground. He flexed his fingers and bent to folds of space. His lightsaber, still clipped to Kenobi’s belt, was sucked inside a small vortex and materialized back in the hands of its owner. He twisted on the hilt, separating it into twin lightsabers and ignited the red blades in challenge as the small Jedi army approached. The crystals inside the hilts glowed with the Force, reading Wraith’s intentions. The blades dulled despite not losing any of their intensity. He wanted to defeat them but not kill them. It would look bad if he were to mass murder the entire Jedi Temple. He needed the audience with the Grandmaster if he were to follow the destiny shown to him by the Force.

The first blade swooped down for his head. He sidestepped, deflecting with a parry and smacked the Jedi at the back of the knee. The crimson blade was coated in the Force, vastly diluting its cutting power. When the blade struck, it left nothing permanent save a searing burn and paralysis in the limb. The Jedi cried out, his knee dislocated. Wraith bent his body, ducking under a green lightsaber and bludgeoned the new assailant on his head. He spun, lifting his leg. A third Jedi caught the heel of Wraith’s foot in his jaw and slumped down. A trio crashed down on him. Wraith managed to block their blades and struggled in a brutal blade-lock. As he was driven down, Wraith noticed others ganging up on him. With a burst of power, he threw the blade-lock and spun low. His blades met their leg, sending them down. He threw one saber at a charging Jedi, stopping him in his tracks, cut down another, retrieved his blade and smashed both hilts against the first Jedi’s head. He Force pushed a group, sending them sprawling into each other.

Slowly the Temple Guard encircled him. The more Jedi Wraith fought, the tighter the circle became until Wraith found himself surrounded by a dozen of masked Jedi wielding double-bladed pikes. Uniformly they assumed a fighting stance, acting as one. Wraith roamed in their minds but their will acted as one, providing one solid mental barrier. Wraith knew that his lightsaber skills, albeit great, could not match theirs – not when they acted as one effective machine.
Wraith switched off his lightsabers and held his hands up in surrender. In a heartbeat, he unleashed a Force wave, sending the Temple Guard reeling backwards. The elite team of Jedi managed to absorb the damage from the blow but it still sent them backwards. They were in the process of using the Force to halt their direction and attack Wraith.
Above one guard loomed a shadow and Wraith’s elbow crashed down on the masked head. Appearing next to another, he slammed his fist against the guard’s skull and teleported to hit a third in the chest. The exchange took a second; but in the space of heartbeat Wraith had disabled three of the Temple Guard elite. Teleporting once more, Wraith ignited his lightsabers and brought them both down on a fourth guard.

A small green figure crashed into the guard, throwing him from under Wraith’s weapons. It ignited a small green blade, a shoto, and blocked the twin red blades. Groaning under strain, it raised a small three fingered hand and Force pushed. The blast threw Wraith away, sending the former Sith flying. Wraith twisted and applied the Force to his body. He slowed down and doubled his efforts. He launched himself back across the distance, rocketing towards the green figure. The small figure raised both hands and yelled. Wraith slammed against the Force barrier and was sent reeling. Coughing and clenching his blades tightly, Wraith managed to get up to one knee.
“Enough!” The phrase contained enough power to shudder Wraith. He felt the Force power behind the word and, despite his defences, he found himself pausing. The little green figure hefted a cane and hobbled over to him.
“Wanting to see me, are you?” it asked. Wraith, from his crouched position stood at eye level with this creature. He felt power emanating from it, like the soft waves of a vast ocean.
“Grandmaster of this Temple, I am.”

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sonic Subterfuge

Part 12 of the Star Wars short story. Enjoy.

Sonic Subterfuge

“We’re here.” The shuttle landed in front of the entrance, just at the edge of the Stairs of Trial. The Temple entrance was a large bronzium door flanked by four colossal statues; Jedi etched in marble.
Kenobi was the first off the shuttle. Wraith shielded his eyes from the sun and turned to gaze at the Temple. A long, wide plaza stretched for a kilometer  like a giant corridor leading Force Adepts from the Stairs to the entrance of the Temple.
Kenobi held Wraith back, preventing him from going along the plaza towards the Temple. The Clone Troopers remained on the ship: they were only a team of eight since Kenobi decided to take a small team and escort Wraith himself to the Temple. He ordered Anakin and Ahsoka to regroup with another Clone legion and continue with their campaign.
Wraith halted, awaiting Kenobi’s commands. His hands still stung from the energy cuffs. When he had been bound the first time, he simply phased through them, much to the trooper’s frustration. This went on for two more attempts, until the former Sith stated that he’ll comply to being disarmed but not restrained. He assured Kenobi that there is no way he would allow anyone to bind him and there was nothing they can do about it. He would be civil but not a prisoner. Kenobi had confiscated his double-bladed lightsaber and yielded.

He stood beneath the warm Coruscant sun, rubbing his wrists softly. Phasing through energy still hurt a little. More practice was needed. A small battalion of Jedi marched towards them.
“Why is he not bound?” The lead man was blonde with his tan robes billowing. “Master Kenobi, is this the Sith you spoke of?”
 Wraith took a single step, smiled and extended his hand. “Former Sith. My name is Wraith, Master Jedi.”
The lead man glared at him and whipped out his lightsaber. A purple plasma blade quivered at the nape of Wraith’s neck.
“Is he Sith?” he snarled at Kenobi.
“Yes, Master Vane, but-”
“Why is he here?”
“He seeks council with Master Yoda. He claims to have information about Sith. His actions helped save a legion of Clones,” answered Kenobi.
“Then he should be incarcerated, put on trial and interrogated for a negotiation,” replied Vane sternly. “No one is allowed an audience with the Grand Master.”
Wraith closed his eyes and let out a long breath. This Jedi was not going to allow him an audience; no Jedi would. They would probably think he had manipulated Kenobi’s mind and forced him to take him to Coruscant. The protocol was incarceration and processing; it could be too late by then. He could understand the security measures and the rules.

That didn’t mean he would accept them.

The Jedi Masters were the first to hear it. A faint tune, like a subsonic whistle, emerged from Wraith’s lips. The tone resonated with every living being, distorting their senses. Kenobi reached for his lightsaber but his movements were too sluggish. Vane, his suspecting mind expecting foul play, lurched forward, driving the tip of his lightsaber into Wraith’s throat. Wraith fully expected such a move and unleashed a burst of Force from his body. Vane, Kenobi, the accompanying Jedi and the shuttle containing the Clones were thrown backwards. The purple tip lightly grazed Wraith’s neck, leaving a thin scar along the left side. Vane and his Jedi were thrown as far as the four gargantuan statues and squashed into a heap. Kenobi was thrown against the right wall, hitting his head and falling unconscious. A trickle of blood trailed from his skull. The Force Wave was so powerful that the shuttle moved backwards and tipped over. It slid down the Stairs of Trial, loosing wings and thrusters. The Stairs themselves were chipped and cracked, deforming into a small pile of debris wherever the shuttle slid down. The Clones had extracted their grapples and rappelled off the shuttle, which continued to slide and tumble down the Stairs unencumbered.

Wraith grasped the Force within him and channeled his power. The earth shook and the atmosphere itself seemed to tremble. It was a show of power. He knew that the Grandmaster rarely left the Temple: if Wraith couldn’t go to him, he had to draw the Grandmaster out. He will show where he is and let the Jedi come.

And if he had to fight every simple Jedi at the Temple until he was faced only with the Grandmaster Yoda, then so be it.