A Spin Around Qairo

Write in your Journal. These are IC for the writer, but OOC information for the reader. Share your personal adventures with others. Give them a peek inside the character they might not otherwise get to see.
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Re: A Spin Around Qairo

Post by Aritana » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:08 am

Chapter 11: Falling Down

Qairo has decided to purchase a potted, flowering plant on Naboo for the dark witch. After all, in the holographic picture, the addendum by Neppy suggests a houseplant could emolliate the witch’s rage. Qairo also decides to leave his spider friend safely on Naboo as he makes the dangerous trip.

In Lokian space, pirates and other thuggish gangs are heavily warring against each other. The space junk in orbit is almost unavoidable. Against all odds, Qairo’s small, unobtrusive transit ship slips through the fierce fighting without notice. Upon landing, the half-wrecked spaceport on Lok is eerily abandoned, with blaster marks on the side of the terminal. Fresh blood has been spilled on the ground near the ramp area. The only sounds he hears are the ground-pounding roars of monstrous animals, some of which are so enormous that their black silhouettes fill the horizon. The air is too hot, with a dusty stinking breeze. Qairo remains undaunted, and thanks his doubtful pilot, tipping him generously for the hazardous drop-off.

Nym’s Stronghold near the shuttle landing is populated by unsavory sorts. He is thankful that swoops and landspeeders are available at the stronghold, though at a steep price. He purchases an old landspeeder. Its poor shape hints at a potential, disastrous break down in mid travel, and he is not a mechanic. But after heavily tipping the pilot, and figuring in a departure fare, this landspeeder is his only affordable way he can move across the deadly landscape.

He boards the ailing landspeeder, setting down his potted Nabooian plant in the passenger seat. The rapid journey in his smoke belching landspeeder makes Qairo very dizzy, but he gets used to the scenery-blurring velocity. The foot trek would certainly be impossible through the dense fields of poisonous Lokian Slaughter Thistles. In fact, there are so many thistles, it looks like the endless fields are a rippling ocean of fresh blood. The smell of sulfur is also stomach turning, but he is slowly getting used to its pungency.

The green grass craters are up ahead by a good three clicks, so the heavily armed characters at Nym’s Stronghold have directed him. After a nauseating ride, dodging flocks of acid-spitting mynocks, he slows as he sees the sudden drop off ahead. He has arrived. He safely disembarks at the edge where the thistles end, and he looks over the wide valley.

It’s just as he envisioned. Soft green grass fills the bowl, with sprinkles of orange and yellow wildflowers. Blue striped butterflies dart from one flower to the next. The green grass also harbors large, jet black, iridescent-scaled vipers which, under the strong light of the sun, yield the beauteous image of rainbow rivulets, side-winding throughout the fragrant valley. A Thundering Peak style hut, with its Nightsister hieroglyph on the door’s curtain, stands near a pool at the bottom of the crater.

What he did not see in his vision was a tall woman, dressed from head to toe in black. She is tending to a patch of vegetation just outside of the hut. With his arrival, she immediately stops and stands tall, with her back to Qairo. She is perfectly still for a minute, and then sharply looks over her shoulder straight at him. She freezes motionless.

Qairo suddenly realizes he hasn’t put together any plan for what he must do when he actually finds the witch. Like a perfect fool, he has arrived with a pure mind, empty of any strategy. He has perhaps walked into deadly trouble.

The wild witch begins to sprint at a wickedly high speed towards him across the crater’s bowl, almost flying above the ground, ferociously screeching “Alaex! Alaex!” It cannot be determined if she is blissfully joyful or insanely murderous. The two emotions are often confused in Dathomirian coven cultures.

Qairo doesn’t know what to do, other than to fall on his knees, bow his head, and throw up his hands, a sign of male submission on Dathomir. He knows this may be his mortal end, as he begins a calm chant to preserve his life.

Hallia slows when she sees Qairo’s submissive body language and chanting. Her facial expression turns to doubt, and her run turns into a rapid walk. As she approaches more closely, she sees his blood red Spider Clan facial tattoo and branding on his right cheek, his auburn hair, and his light green eyes. She stops in her tracks.

She furrows her brow, “Alaex?” Hallia’s tone suddenly becomes confused and defensive, “Who are you? Speak now!” She snaps her fingers, and magically compels Qairo to speak, but only a word-weaving Song of Spider is pulled from his lips, humbly asking her to not destroy him.

“Huhuxuqa, shiiguu-rlejuk’oo-rch’rche!”

Hallia is shocked at hearing the exotic gasping and chittering. She narrows her eyes, identifying the exact Dathomrian cultural region to be the Spider Clan. It’s a special language, local to the caves, and she is unable to understand it.

Hallia puffs out her chest, “Spider Clan?! You Speak Song of Spider? You will stop mocking us at once!” Hallia’s eyes begin to crackle with wrath.
Qairo prostrates himself, putting his hands behind his head, “No, not Alaex! My name is Qairo!”

Hallia puts her hands on her hips with ire, “If you say you aren’t Alaex, then why have you dared to come find me out here, on forsaken Lok? Answer me!” The angry sound of thunder begins to rumble across the clear sky.

Qairo is clueless why he chose to expensively dodge supreme danger to find Hallia, other than to discover her connection to what could be his relative. It’s not a good excuse. He tries to fish for the right words, but he is too overwhelmed to speak.

Hallia becomes impatient, and points threateningly at Qairo, “Who else knows of my location!”

He pleads with her, “Qairo is alone! Alone!”

Hallia finally sees the pot with the flowering Nabooian plant happily sitting in the passenger seat of the landspeeder. She narrows her eyes to slits with suspicion, and fiercely orders him, “Get inside the hut, and bring the flowers!” She commandingly points down the grade of the crater towards the crooked mud brick hut.

Qairo doesn’t hesitate and obeys the powerful witch, hoping she won’t sacrifice him in some long unappeased blood frenzy.

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Re: A Spin Around Qairo

Post by Aritana » Sun Dec 31, 2017 9:25 am

Chapter 12: The Witch’s Hut

Hallia rudely pushes Qairo through the Nightsister glyphed, leather curtained doorway and orders him to put the potted flower down on the ground.

As Qairo’s eyes adjust, he realizes they are not alone. A female rodian wearing combat gear and a wooden Dathomirian slave collar is eerily dancing by herself in the hut. The enchanted bounty hunter holds a glowing pole as her body sways and dips in captivated rapture. She is slowly and quietly singing the Song of the Dead, repeating “Dro, Dro, Sisha, Heshkiba.”

On a low table in the center of the hut is a small pile of foraged foods, garden weeds, a pestle and mortar holding mashed insects, and a bottle of murky brown liquid. Typical fair for a witch.

Against the wall near the door lean no less than three heavy Nightsister pikes, each one for a different deadly occasion, all continuing to steadily crackle with potent energy.

A small alter is at the southern wall, with a prominent red crystal ball on top of a black cloth placed in the center.

He also notices a hex doll, with black messy hair and blue eyes, propped up on the chair by the altar, with tiny valley wildflowers bunched up around it. Small gray rocks radiate away from the doll’s chair. He knows they represent little stepping stones which the witches often use to guide them forth into the other world and back during their trances.

Hallia pierces Qairo with a sharp glowing stare for an eternity it seems. Her arms are threateningly akimbo. Qairo feels doomed as he cowers before her looming figure. But he is not afraid.

After the long pause, she abruptly states with weight, “I saw the holovideo. Alaex is dead.”

Qairo remains frozen in place. He finally dares to say, “My name is Qairo! Not Alaex.”

“So you say.” Hallia glares. She claps her blue-gray, red veined hands three times, as if Qairo is a pet gurreck. “Where in the bloody sky did you fall from?”

Qairo is moved to speak, “Dathomir! Spider… Spider…”

Hallia has already noticed the tell-tale tattoo and branding, and his peculiar Song of Spider language. She folds her arms, “I can see you are from the Spider Clan. I didn’t think they kept males alive for very long. How did you escape?”

Qairo quickly responds, “Mother Aarqania, allowance me to leave for Naboo.”

Hallia gapes in silence, and her voice finally pierces the air, “Aarqania! The Aarqania? The Nightsister? Wait…” Hallia’s eyes dart as she thinks back to her days on Dathomir and the common lore held by the sisters, “She had an off-world male consort, a magic user too. Killed if I remember. Drove Aarqania insane for two weeks.”

“Treven Kaen and Aarqania. Together on Dathomir, and I am son, Qairo.” He points to his throat as he again identifies himself.

“Treven… yes, that was Alaex’s father.” Hallia probes her deep memory. “Alaex told me that his father suddenly disappeared, left the mother and their two infants behind to fend for themselves.” Hallia softens her stance, finally realizing whom she is speaking with. “Alaex had strong, ill feelings towards his father. I tried to teach him that males cannot be trusted to do anything right.”

Hallia becomes additionally thoughtful, “So. You two are half-brothers. And I sense the magic is strong in you, too.” Hallia stands dominant and points to the low table. “Sit and eat. There is much to talk about.”

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Re: A Spin Around Qairo

Post by Aritana » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:26 am

Chapter 13: A Recounting

Qairo is grateful for the offered meal - gently roasted insect paste with a strong mind-sharpening spice, spread on a prickly edible leaf. Qairo is comforted by the arousing meal as he is reminded of the delicious recipes of his home world. After a few bites, without a word, Qairo dares take out the ISL disk and places it on the table. He continues to avoid eye contact.

Hallia’s eyes flicker, “What is this? Where did you find this?” Her tone is gentler, seeing Alaex’s bold, block lettered penmanship.

Qairo immediately confesses, “Raven House. I find Alaex hideout. Old, old Naboo hideout.”

“Yes, he mentioned to me he had a last ditch safe house in the mountains.” She opens up to Qairo, “I left the ISL six months ago, partly because Alaex warned me that I might be under suspicion for… something.” Hallia grimaces, “He was intentionally vague, which I did not appreciate. But he indicated it was because of my ‘cute technological ineptitude.’” Hallia thoughtfully rubs the lettering on disk, and holds it to her bosom.

She gazes out from the slim slit window of the hut, “I figured no one would find me here on Lok. With perhaps the exception of Alaex.” Hallia opens out her arm in demonstration, “This whole crater is alive with magic, and anyone unwanted coming though here will most certainly die or be captured. I have made this whole valley a trap.” She vigorously grips the air, and dryly chuckles.

Qairo looks at the enchanted bounty hunter. He should have known the magical danger the moment he envisioned the Nightsister hieroglyph on the hut door and the vigilant guard vipers throughout the crater’s valley.

Hallia pauses, and continues with a saddened voice, “I started to feel his intense suffering five months ago. That’s when he must have been finally caught, and with the strong magic between us, I knew he was being tortured. But I couldn’t sense where. In my visions, I saw an interrogation room. It could have been anywhere, they are all the same. Though I had my suspicions.”

She counts backwards, thinking, “Yes, about thirteen standard days ago, I felt Alaex’s life release from the physical world.” Hallia’s tone becomes dark, “I knew the ISL had killed him.”

Hallia glances at the hex doll of Alaex, and nods towards it, “I have had visitations from that day forward. After one brief visitation, I quickly entered a trance and chased after Alaex’s spirit to the other world. I snagged him, and extracted exactly where he had died. It was indeed at the ISL base on Naboo. It was clear he didn’t want me to know, since he knew what I would do to the ISL.” She shakes her head in disbelief, “Incredibly, he forgave his torturers. That’s Alaex. But I cannot forgive. I live for vengeance.”

She moves to the front door, opening the leather curtain to look out, “It took me days from the time of his death to leave this forsaken planet and sneak through the New Republic, onto Naboo. It wasn’t easy. I am certain the New Republic has listed me as a war-criminal. I had to hide like a lowly, fearful coward.”

An eerie grin spreads across her face as she relives the glorious assault, “I destroyed the ISL base. I killed everyone there, although two were missing. That would be Trethin. Sick minded male. He was always condescending to me. And then that miserable Serina. She was just as awful.”

Qairo dares to interrupt her, and speaks up regarding the missing male agent, “No no, he jump to death after I find.”

Hallia looks surprised. “You were there? At the ISL base? And that toad successfully hid from me?” Hallia’s tone rises, and she scratches her chin, “That’s right, there were five speeders.” She growls with disappointment and frustration, “How sloppy of me.”

After staring off for a minute, she continues to recount the events, “At least I made it safely back to Lok. That’s when I found this bounty hunter snooping near the lip of the crater.” Hallia smiles, “She makes a good death dancer, you must agree.”

Qairo eagerly nods his head. He has seen enchanted death dancers before, and this Rodian hunter would be most prized.

Hallia turns to face Qairo, and muses, “You do know, you have a half-sister. Her name is Kasidra, Kisadra, I cannot remember. I doubt her last name is Kaen. Alaex never introduced us. He told me she too is strong in magic. A chaotic handful, full of surprises.”

Qairo is excited by the idea of a living relative, and especially a strong, fearless half-sister. He cannot help but smile.

Hallia stares at him, silently watching his reaction. She finally becomes curious, “When did you leave Dathomir?”

Qairo informs her, “Thirteen days.”

“I see.” Hallia nods her head realizing the significance. “So you left Dathomir on the very day Alaex died. How interesting.” She walks towards the hex doll, brushing the black thread hair away from its face. “Alaex must have realized after his death that he had a half-brother, and through his form of subtle magic, persuaded Aarqania to let you leave for Naboo.”

She suddenly comes to a realization and forcefully announces, “Alaex is handing his life’s work over to you. Be ready, for the greater galaxy is more dangerous than you can fathom. You too might find yourself captured, tortured, and killed.”

Qairo firmly responds, “I am not afraid.”

Hallia slowly comes very close, almost touching nose to nose, warning him, “Alaex wasn’t either. And look what happened to him.”

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Re: A Spin Around Qairo

Post by Aritana » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:44 am

Chapter 14: The Witch’s Demands

Still nose to nose, Hallia slowly changes her tone. Her voice becomes dark and stern. “Are you with the New Republic?”

Qairo shakes his head and shrugs, not yet having committed to any side of the continuing struggle.

She pauses for a lengthy time, staring deeply into Qairo’s eyes, searching and probing his mind. She backs off and warns, “You must know, I have not just a few lengthy battle necklaces of thumbs.” She walks over to a shelf and takes one gruesome strand. She approaches Qairo and dangles the threaded thumbs like a pendulum over his lowered head for a long minute, as if she is scrying for the truth. She then bunches up the strand and furiously throws it against the wall with a frightful screech.

Her crazed eyes spark. She roars, “Alaex and I had a murder pact! If anyone was going to kill Alaex, it would be by my hands!”

Qairo now knows his life is again in serious jeopardy with the fickle tempered, mentally unstable witch. He closes his eyes and quickly begins a silent, meditative chant, preparing for his impending death, to give him courage in the face of such extreme mortal danger.

Hallia’s eyes crackle as she yells, “Alaex swore he would give me the same honor, if I found myself condemned!”

Demonstrating no intention to attack the witch, Qairo remains seated and meditating, listening to the enchanted Rodian hunter’s death song.

She shouts over pounding thunder in the crater’s valley, “I am hated by the New Republic. A criminal! And after my little attack on that pathetic ISL base on Naboo, I have no one to turn to. I am alone!”

Qairo’s nervous eyes flit to the hex doll of Alaex on the chair. Hallia follows his glance, and she settles on the flower decorated hex doll as well. Hallia stiffens, emotionless. The thunder subsides.

With a flat tone, she states, “He is now with his Force, joined with the rest of his ancestors.” With regret, she disappointingly says, “He has visited me only a few times, but I cannot enter the light to approach him. My nature has proven to be too dark.” She slowly goes to the potted plant and carefully plucks one of the orange Nabooian flowers Qairo has brought. She places it over the doll’s heart.

Qairo knits his brow, not knowing anything about ‘the Force,’ but he knows this is certainly not the time to ask.

After perfectly placing the flower, she finally huffs, becoming fed up with the cowering male. “Stand straight! If you are indeed Alaex’s half-brother, then you should start acting like him.” She grabs Qairo by the shoulders and lifts his body to full height and posture. “Maybe I am foolish, but I miss his stubborn, aggravating presence.” Hallia brushes Qairo’s auburn hair away from his familiar face, staring into his light green eyes. “Yes, I miss him indeed. In the end, he was my only friend.”

Qairo is very confused. Witches never have ‘friends,’ especially with males. The word doesn’t even exist in any Dathomirian language. Hallia becomes almost tearful, a sorrowful grimace spreads across her face, her voice shaking with some half-repressed emotion, a condition very rare for any witch. She wraps her long, bony, blue-gray fingers around Qairo’s neck and whispers, “Forgive me, Alaex.” She tightens her grip. Qairo knows this is his end, and awaits the violent snap of his neck.

Hallia breathes in deeply, and makes a decision. “Here, you’ll need this.” Hallia releases Qairo and turns toward her hammock area. Qairo feels lightheaded, ready to pass out from the shock of being so close to death.

Hallia rummages around in a small wooden trunk. “Here it is.” Hallia carefully unwraps the object and produces a heavy jet-black onyx necklace with an upside down pentagon pendant, with chiseled glyphs in a circle and a slightly glowing red crystal set in the center. With ritualism she approaches and lifts the heavy necklace towards Qairo.

Qairo’s eyes widen. He knows it to be a necklace of binding, usually reserved to bring the magical souls of witches together in a coven. But it is reserved for women witches, exclusively. Qairo knows not to refuse her. He bows ceremonially as she fits it around him, intoning a chant. When she is finished placing the necklace around his shoulders, she lifts his head. She then takes out a similar necklace beneath her own frayed, heavy fabric black dress.

Hallia factually states, “You and I are now bonded. When one of us is in trouble, the other will immediately know. This is the promise for aid, even across the stars.” She places both hands on Qairo’s shoulders, with a command, “Now go forth, Qairo, son of Aarqania, son of Treven, half-brother of Alaex - my dearest friend, my beloved nemesis. Find your half-sister, and bring her to me.”

Qairo dares to finally look into the witches’ piercing eyes. He nods, assuring her that he will do as she demands. He carefully steps backward towards the entrance, but before he can leave her hut, she makes one last demand as a trifling afterthought.

“And help destroy whatever is left of that silly, male-dominated Empire. Do it in memory of Alaex. You are dismissed.” Qairo feels burdened, but fully accepts the witch’s commandments. He exits the hut, and as if a family of angry kwi is chasing after him, he leaps over the guardian vipers and bolts back to his ailing landspeeder at the lip of the crater. As he is frantically running for his life through the hissing snakes, he touches the heavy necklace. He feels something more than just a connection to Hallia. Something else is working through the necklace, but he cannot pinpoint the feeling.

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Re: A Spin Around Qairo

Post by Aritana » Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:40 am

Chapter 15: Raven’s Legacy

Qairo spends time in the less deadly areas of Lok gathering botanical samples for the astrobotany lab at the University of Theed: barbed plants, thorny plants, plants with long spikes, and plants with poisonous prickles. He desires to show deep gratitude to the researcher at the University of Theed who helped him locate Hallia. He temporarily leaves the samples by the shuttle area, knowing no one would take them. They are just an assemblage of common plants. Nothing special on Lok, but something prized on Naboo.

Qairo finally junks his sputtering landspeeder, which proves to be in such terrible shape that not even the parts are salvageable. The junk merchant is surprised that the landspeeder hadn’t died in the field, calling it pure luck. Qairo knows better. It is his magic.

When he is finally ready, it proves difficult to leave safely from Lok. The price of transit is higher than his wildest figuring, a minimum of 100,000 credits. He decides to enter the wretched and dangerous ‘hotel,’ and plays games of chance. A shift of a loaded die roll, a perfect shuffle, a few inserted thoughts leading to bad gambling decisions, and Qairo prevails at the tables. The gamblers sneer at his beginner’s luck. He leaves Nym’s Stronghold enriched, but not so much that he will be murderously pursued by the angry losers. To survive a stay on Lok, as he wisely imagines, one mustn’t be too greedy. Besides, all of his winnings go back into the pocket of a star pilot who literally lost his armor at Qairo’s table.

The departure is as supremely hazardous as expected, but once through the perpetual starship battles and threats of boarding pirates, the trip back to Naboo is thankfully dull and uneventful.

After finishing his business in Theed, being paid very well by the delighted researcher, he decides to spend a few weeks in the deep Nabooian woods, watching his spider friend create beautiful webs between the trees. The spider is exceptionally busy at night, protecting Qairo in his sleep from the powerful jaws of the nocturnal prowling narglatches. He believes he has finally found a name for his companion, in the subtle voice, using the intrinsic omniprogressive participle, “Yiithii-Pcharoq,” meaning Timeless vigilant trapper.

He dedicates his time learning from his half-brother’s expert manuscript, “An Anarchist’s Guide to Slicing.” It’s a masterful manuscript, thankfully starting with absolute basics with ample illustrations, and working its way to highly complicated operations. Over the next few weeks in his roaming travels, he comes across many locked briefcases, doors, hatches, and containers. With delight, he finds he is mechanically and electronically inclined. Something about equipment makes his mind very active and curious, and he can almost see into the locked devices to probe their mechanisms. With each one he confronts, he learns something new. Yet it isn’t about the secrets that may be revealed or the contents liberated, but instead it is the challenge presented. In fact, he usually leaves them unopened, and if he can, he locks them back up, whistling as he innocently walks away. Slicing terminals, with clever manipulations of data and extractions of protected information, also comes easily.

Qairo starts to feel a transcendental sensation. He thinks back to his encounter with his bright bodied ancestor in the vision he had near the river by Keren. That wasn’t just his father. It was brighter than his previous dream encounters. That body of light must have been either Alaex, or both Treven and Alaex reconciled as one. And as the body of light indicated,

I will meet you there.

Alaex indeed wrote this manuscript for Qairo, to pass his immense knowledge on to a half-brother he never suspected he had in life. He realizes he may truly be able follow in Alaex’s footsteps.

His attention shifts to Hallia’s insistence on helping destroy what is left of the Empire. He knows he can learn from the manuscript the techniques to disrupt. Like Qairo’s sneaky arachnid name, “Inter-stellar-web-spinner,” he now sees himself spinning a sticky network throughout the galaxy’s different computer systems, using clever lures that will snag, root out, and help defeat what is left of the Empire. And while he is at it, he can perhaps track down his lost sister, although he has almost nothing to go on.

Alaex shall indeed rise from the dead, spreading confusion through the ranks of what is left of Imperial Intelligence. With this in mind, Qairo decides to take up the mantle and use his deceased half-brother’s slicer name, Raven.

END OF PART ONE. See Part Two: “A Little Tale about a Technician”

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