A squad of army troopers had surrounded a man, he had his back to them. They were all standing in a clearing, at the start of its autumn cycle, some leaves were already changing colour but the forest was still mostly a vibrant green.
“Raise your hands and kneel!” One of the troopers, a sergeant, most likely, had stepped to the front and was shouting orders at their captive.
Kotan turned around slowly, hands raised. “You will find that there is no need for this , sergeant. I am expected at this compound.” he gestured at his belt and the datapad clipped to it. “If you will let me produce my credentials?”
The sergeant looked to his men and after a brief contemplation, edged forward to inspect the files.
As the man was glaring at the the datapad , Kotan was speaking, his words slow and careful “As you can see, it says here that I’m expected in the compound, everything is tip-top”
The trooper was nodding slowly.
“Yes, expected, tip … – wait, these ain’t no credentials, what the … ?!”
Kotan cursed, and reached forward with his right hand, around him, the troopers were taking aim and getting ready to fire.
Suddenly the sergeant lurched, and turned around in the air, as though a giant invisible hand had grabbed him, and lifted him up. He was screaming as he flew into the rest of his squad, bouncing between them and into a nearby tree
Time slowed to a still.
Dace was walking around the image of Kotan Blen who was standing with his arms pointed at the army troopers, his eyes were closed.
“That’s amazing! … Is this the true power of the force that you’ve told me about?”
The image of Kotan slowly started changing; his hair and beard growing longer, scars deepening, along with some wrinkles. “No, Dace this is not strength.” He turned his head towards the apprentice and opened his eyes, “This is just destruction and death, and it could have been avoided, keep watching Dace”
The scene resumed playing, and Kotan – looking younger again now, straightened up and sighed heavily at the destruction he had caused. He shook his head and briskly started walking toward the Imperial compound, on the way he snatched a stormtrooper helmet and ripped out the comlink, placing it in his ear.
The gates broke apart and warped like paper, between the crumpled forms spinning in the air on each side Kotan walked in, his hair was caught in the wind and he tugged irritably at it.
Somewhere in the distant parts of the facility, screams echoed and alarms started ringing.
The image froze.
Dace stood to the side, looking at the scene, “Why are we stopping? what happened after?” Behind him the older form of Master Kotan stepped out of the shadows.
“This was what I wanted to show you Dace.”
He walked around the young man as he spoke
“At the same time as I was seeking out my own goal, one of my friends was slicing into the Imperial mainframe and gathering info that would save multiple lives in our near future, and another was freeing their prisoners and putting his life on the line to bring the wounded out of the base. Both of them could have needed my help, but I didn’t care.”
Dace turned after the image of his mentor, “But you said this Neela-person was important, so somebody had to go after her, right?”
His mentor put his etheral hands on Dace’s shoulders and getured at the frozen form of the younger Kotan, “That’s not the point Dace, look at his eyes now, really look at them … what do you see?”
Dace glanced at his mentor before stepping up to the image, it felt weird to have the image of a man talk about his younger self like a different person. “Uh, they are dark-like yours, he is squinting slightly because of the smoke and wind …. Uh, he looks kinda scary, what is it you want me to see here?”
“The anger Dace, the intensity and the focus, all of these come from the dark side, I was afraid for the well-being of my mentor, of what had happened to her and what was happening to her, so I focused on her at the cost of everything else.”
He pointed at his younger self.
“So look at those eyes and see what I didn’t see myself that day: the Fear, Dace – that is what will lead you to the dark side.” He paused and sighed. “When you stop caring about what happens to anything else than yourself and your goal, that’s when you lose sight of it.”
Dace stood there for a long time, staring at his two masters.
“I … I think I understand, but what happened after?”
The old warrior waved his left hand dismissively “That is not important to this lesson, we should go back to your training”.
“No! I want to know what happened.” Dace’s pose was defiant and eager, he faced the ghost of the old man and the two of them stared at each other for a long time.
After a while Kotan rolled his eyes and gestured in front of them.
“Very well, apprentice, see for yourself.”
The younger version of Kotan was walking down a dark hallway, heading underground, he entered a dark hallway, the only light from wall-mounted torches
Standing in the middle of the room was a warrior in a crimson robe, with blood-red armour.
“Please stand aside and you won’t get hurt” Kotans voice was shaking, but his eyes were scanning the room confidently.
The red warrior brushed his cloak to the side and raised a metal baton, from both ends vicious metal blades appeared without a sound, he settled into a warriors stance, preparing for battle.
Kotans hand shot out, fingers spread and slightly curled, his brow was furrowed. Across the room his opponent tensed.
Kotan hissed through clenched teeth: “Skywalker … Is at the gates … you need to stop him, yes?”
The Royal Guard charged past Kotan and kept on running towards the exit.
The image of the younger Kotan exhaled audibly and kept walking into the next room, Dace was standing behind him pumping his fist in the air and laughing. “Yes! That was awesome! Who is Skywalker by the way?”
The older version of Kotan walked alongside the younger and answered " I have actually no idea, it was just a name that I overheard in hushed whispers and reverence while we were guests of the Rebel Alliance, it seemed like it was someone important." They entered an arene and crossed over into a cell to the left.
Kotan found the unconcious body of Nela Kohn suspended in the cell to the right, he cut the constraints with his lightsaber and gently lowered her to the floor, she was covered in cuts and bruises.
She briefly stirred, her eyes roamed over his face, not understanding.
“It’s ok, I got you, I’m going to get you out of here’” She mumbled something incomprehensible and drifted off into unconsciousness.
Kotan grabbed his mentor and lifted her to her feet, he staggered under the weight briefly and then started making his way out to the central arena.
The door from the opposite side of the arena slid open and a black-clad figure with a visored helmet stepped through, in his hand he was carrying a lightsaber of a uncommon, disc-like design.
The inquisitor charged at them, red blades appearing from his weapon.
Kotan turned his back on his opponent and carefully laid down his friend, dodging a blow aimed at his back he turned at his enemy. A quick gesture lifted the man up in the air and was followed by a precise cut into the mans torso.
He flailed around with his saber as he was dying, Nela cried out in pain as a leg was cleanly severed.
“No!” Kotan reached out and his opponent was crushed to the floor by a invisible hand.
He kneeled by the whimpering Nela Kohn. “Hold on, general, I’ll get you out of here.” He gathered her up and ran for the exit.
Behind him Dace was staring with his mouth open " I … uh … wow …. when am I learning THAT?!" The scene changed to the outside as Kotan was carrying the unconscious woman towards a gate, a large insectoid being in a trenchcoat was working at the controls.
The holocron image of the older version of Kotan was standing next to Dace “Sloppy, risky, if I had paid attention she wouldn’t had lost her leg, if I had helped my friends she wouldn’t had lost her leg and more prisoners could have survived, the possibilities are endless but they all have the same judgment Dace; I should have done this differently.”
The large doors slid open, standing on the other side was massively muscled wookie, covered in old scars, new cuts and blood. At his feet was the crumpled form of the Royal Guard. The wookie roared in pain and defiance, blood was pouring from his eyes.
“By the ancients! what is that beast?!” Dace was backing away from the image if the imposing warrior.
His mentor turned from the image to his apprentice and smirked at his apprentice
“That is my friend,Krankawarrok"