Star Wars: Twilight Seekers, Part I

   The existence of the Dark Side means that – for a high-potential force sensitive – simple anger, ambition, and possessiveness give rise to power. When frustrated, such urges give rise to obsession and hatred – which provide more power. Once a mind fully opens itself to the power of the Dark Side, the resulting uncontrolled positive feedback loop will either lead to a self-protective permanent shutdown of all sensitivity to the Force, to outside intervention, to insane self-destruction, to burnout (if the user’s will exceeds his physical tolerance), or – if the user is not otherwise stopped – to a tyrannical dominion that brooks no opposition.

   Most potential force-sensitives instinctively shut down their potential abilities while being born. The strongest – at least in those species which give birth to well-developed young rather than laying eggs or some such – usually kill their mothers at birth, when they attempt to cling to her essence and resist the separation. (In such cases that trauma often leads to severe emotional trouble later on). Most of the rest wind up shutting down during early bouts of childhood anxiety, during their first temper tantrum, or during some squabble with other children. Those species who’s offspring must fight for survival virtually never produce any adult force-sensitives at all.

   Adult force-sensitives are rare. Some were borderline latent until they were approaching adulthood. A few were caught early, and carefully trained as children. Most have such flawed and erratic powers that they’ve never needed to shut them down. A few others experience some traumatic breakthrough in later life, latent abilities erupting into operating at some moment of crisis.

   A very few were simply raised in such isolation that they rarely encountered any target which might have triggered a Dark Side feedback loop in them.

   A vanishingly small number have either developed some compensating mechanism, are so naturally unemotional as to limit Dark Side feedback, or manage to carefully regulate themselves even in the heat of battle – damping down their own power even while in desperate peril of their lives to stay on the controllable side of the precipice. Most of those eventually fall.

   Thus, “the” Sith have never been particularly well-organized. While there had been occasional mighty overlords who brought many solar systems under their power, and not a few cultures dedicated to war and dominion, people like that appear with or without the Dark Side to back them. Ever notice that most Sith Lords seem to start off as fallen Jedi? And that they usually build their organizations by recruiting from among Jedi, rather than by training their own students? Some of them do train a few – but only the Jedi train in large groups. All the great “Sith Cultures” are somehow always long gone. A part of the mythic past that – of course – never really happened that way.

   In this case, it all began amid the ruins of Mandalor and the chaos of a galactic war – long before the rise of the Galactic Empire.

   In that time, the Galactic (or “Old”) Republic was besieged by the Sith Armada and their Mandalorian allies.

   Shortly before, the tides of battle had swept past the planet Mandalor itself – and that world had been bombarded into near-oblivion.

   De’arc, a down-on-his-luck bounty hunter (a not uncommon situation with a war going on), was doing a little scrounging. His ship needed repairs and he had no cash – but he wasn’t averse to a little risk. A bit of salvage-work in the wake of the fleet should net him enough in the way of parts and valuables to keep his ship in space.

   He didn’t find as many usable parts as he would have liked – too damn much radioactivity – but he did stumble across what appeared to be a lightly damaged Mandalorian War Droid – a find of considerable value, and one that was easy enough to subdue with a ship-mounted ion cannon. He stashed the thing and headed for Tsh’rell, a small world nearby that had very little law, enough of an underworld market to get rid of the Droid, and some competent repairmen. This close to a war zone, nobody would be asking the really inconvenient questions.

   When he got there, he checked the guild boards as a matter of course – and found that there was an open bounty on force-sensitives. ANY kind of force-sensitives. Alive only – which was a pain – but there were low-level rewards out for any idiot at all with enough sensitivity to detect? The Sith must be rolling in money!

   Wait! There was actually a cluster of wanna-be types who held meetings near the port! He’d WALKED PAST their little rented storefront on the way to talk to the mechanic! They were sitting around just HAVING A MEETING! It was like it was RAINING FREE MONEY!

  • Kira Keldav was actually at the little meeting. OK, they were a bunch of clowns, but at least one of them had a LITTLE power, and he needed some non-Sith pointers. It wasn’t like it was going to be a big investment of his time and he needed something to pass the time while waiting for a ride off this barren little rock.
  • Doctor Orin had always been able to sense a little bit more about his patients conditions than could be explained by his training, and he’d always wondered about what was going on. Perhaps a few lessons in “the force” were in order: it might allow him to refine his talent into something really useful.
  • Handell was mostly just curious: a practical pilot, he’d never paid much attention to mystical nonsense – but now that mystical nonsense seemed to be at the center of a bedamned GALACTIC WAR. Perhaps it was time to look into it a bit. With the tramp freighter he’d ridden in on down for the count from a brush with the fleets, he had nothing else to do anyway.

   None of them were prepared for the string of concussion-knockout-gas grenades that came in the front window.

   De’arc bundled his bounty-head prizes aboard as quickly as possible. The local authorities might take an interest – no matter how unlike that seemed – and he’d rather not take that chance. If some of them were just wannabes, he could always dump them on the slave market.

   Nobody was happy when they woke up – but Kira had at least a little actual trained power. He managed to disrupt the power-conduit he could see across the hall – but was quite annoyed when that didn’t set him free.

   It did slowly power-down the energy suppression field in a holding cell a little way down the hall.

   With the field down, Khadim-17 woke up a few minutes later – even more confused than when he’d started. He let himself out – and along the way he obligingly let out everyone else.

   On the bridge, the bounty-offer was still up on the screen – and De’arc was coming back with the rest of the study group.

   They shot him with his own bedamned ship-mounted stun cannon.

   In the ensuing panicked discussion (except for Khadim-17, who had no idea of what they were all taking about), they picked up the two others De’arc had been bringing in, stole the blasted ship, and got the hell offworld. None of them wanted to be the objects of a galactic bounty. Not when they’d been ADVERTISING their eligibility for it! The ship still needed repairs though, and none of them had much in the way of funds either – no matter how good Handell (and possibly Khadim-17; who knew what that thing was programmed for?) might be at fixing things, they were going to need at least a few parts if they wanted to make any long trips.

   Right: they picked another nearby planet and nursed the ship there. Maybe they could get it fixed, or at least get throughly lost, somewhere where nobody knew them.

   It was too bad that the place turned out to be so sparsely populated.