As I am sure most of you know, I write an awful lot of fanfiction. Wintaru, as he slaves over the sticky post, can attest to it. But I don't just write about FFXI. Recently a friend of mine who played Star Wars Galaxies asked me to write one involving an original character to use in the roleplaying boards as he wanted me to be a part of it. While I've seen the movies, I certainly am not up to date on what's "cannon", so I was a little nervous writing about something unfamiliar.
After a few times sitting down and plotting it out, (and remembering from my English/literature classes that if you write in themes, your story will be "universal" - pun intended) I sat down and created a Star Wars character. I would like to share her with you all in a little series I wrote called the "Shade Saga". Wintaru (::cracks whip::), please make sure to post these in their own section if you don't mind.
At first I had to submit a bio to the boards, easy enough. Only all the stuff I put in there I'd have to end up explaining. Well if you wanna do something right, you can't take the easy way! So posting to whet your appetite for something a bit off the Final Fantasy radar, I will introduce Arissa Nassani to you, a.k.a. Shade. Every day I will post pieces of her story until all six are up (with more to come when I can write it).
Though the bio may seem a bit hard to understand, as you read the story, everything will unfold in front of you. I hope you like the journey I will put you on. Please leave feedback if you are so inclined. Now without further ado I present to you...
Shade, Shadow Jedi
Name: Arissa Nassani (a.k.a. Shade)
Eyes: Normally - white eyes, violet irises, black pupils. When engaging her Force powers - black eyes, black irises, red-illuminated pupils.
Skin: Normally - pale, but not bleached white and with blue-hued makeup. When engaging her Force powers - moon white skin, further accentuating any makeup applied to it.
Hair: Black, pulled back tightly in a ponytail. If it suits her, she’s been known to color parts of it from time to time.
Weight: 136 lbs.
Occupation & Rank:
Lifelong student currently holding doctorates in interspecies medicine, astrophysics, and both psychology and galactic-sociology. She holds masters degrees in economics, galactic religion, molecular engineering, and is currently working on planetary law. She holds a slew of other awards, recognitions, certificates, and designations. Arissa is currently capable of speaking/understanding 43 major languages, and attempts to learn at least one more per year in her “spare time”.
Normally, Arissa is found in comfortable clothing, usually dark in color. She will never own nor wear anything red and prefers to not overly dress if at all possible. She dresses the part for whatever she is doing, but when fighting, prefers her simple, black, full-body gi.
Custom A-Wing registered as Adumbration. The Adumbration contains a larger than normal cargo compartment to hold all her “necessities/contingencies”. It also has been given grey and after-market modifications such as a Type I hyperdrive, stronger shields than most, and an array of jamming equipment which are slightly less than legal. This all comes at the cost of any heavy armor or weaponry. Funded and acquired through her late parents' business, the ship has regular mechanical maintenance as well as the occasional “legal oversight” maintenance.
The ship (as part of the jamming package) is coated in a special radar-absorbent black paint, which is just as well as Arissa as an affinity for darker colors anyway. Her astromech droid is always kept on the cutting edge. Named Compendium, it has been given a few small tweaks for functionality to her rather specific needs, but most notable is its flat charcoal grey color and lack of any red lights, sensors, and even paint – a theme also reflected in the Adumbration’s cockpit.
Weapons & Martial Training:
Arissa knows about every documented form of martial combat as well as the monastic styles of the Taris Kasi. Just as similarly, she knows how to wield a cache of standard, uncommon, and even some heavier weapons. Arissa favors no one technique or school. Instead, she has cherry-picked from all known forms of combat and tailored them to her individual knowledge/abilities/powers/limitations: the Shadow Jedi.
As a Shadow Jedi, she encompasses both aspects of Light and Dark side abilities and training. She also includes training in not just energy-based weapons, but the fading memories of “standard” melee and ranged weapons.
Her utility belt contains a wickedly-curved kukri, some items she brought for utility and emergency, a blaster, and something that on the surface resembles a lightsaber.
Her energy-based melee weapon is named “Umbra”. While menacing enough to those who don’t know and only perceive her as a saber carrier, closer inspection yields an interesting find. There are a lot of things missing from it to be a functional lightsaber, and a few things added in that would seem to prevent it from being such a weapon ever at all. Mechanically, this device acts as a focus for her Force powers. When turned on, it is wholly the opposite of a lightsaber. It produces focused but tremendous cold, dampens sound, appears (as a blade, but is actually a conical void) completely black and lightless, but is about half the length of a standard saber blade.
Umbra only works within Shade’s aura, and then only by her own self as it is a focus item. Should one be struck by the void blade, it will (for a time) render that object at that spot in which it was hit (living or inanimate) neutralized and unable to function. For example, if the void blade touched your shoulder, your shoulder would be unable to function for a time proportional to its contact with Umbra. So while not as generally destructive or lethal as a lightsaber, if your heart, spine, or head are touched by Umbra, you are most assured to die. When pitted against a lightsaber, Umbra completely cancels out the saber’s blade at the point of contact. It is the same effect as putting your hand in front of a flash light. Though in this case, Umbra’s void blade is also canceled out. An additional effect only applicable to Force users is that their Force energies are drained more rapidly if they are hit than simply if standing in Shade’s aura.
Other Notable Equipment:
Arissa goes into no situation unprepared. On her belt (or backpack if necessary) she carries a different assortment of useful tools, gadgets, and basic medical supplies per expedition she undertakes. Being a very intelligent woman, she also packs a surprise or two for the off-chance, she needs to resort to “Plan B”. Because of her vast intellectual and financial resources, she is always prepared – even if it seems “unconventional”.
When Arissa engages her powers, she becomes something otherworldly, fearsome, ghostly…(which helps explain her “working” name, Shade). Aside from her seeming cosmetic alterations, she possesses several very strong aspects of the Force.
Shade’s body is a finely-tuned toward Force absorption. So much so, her body acts as a "Force well”. Her body absorbs light, creating an aura of darkness around her. In an area of two meters around her, Shade also absorbs heat, creating a noticeable temperature drop. Her aura also is an acting sound vacuum, rendering her moves eerily silent and makes those close to her hard pressed to verbally/audibly communicate without muffling or distortion (even mental communications are blurred due to the vortex). Because of the immense distortion in the Force, she also always seems to have a “double” following her motions a hundredth of a second behind her…as if Shade was somehow vibrating wildly yet maintained an in-focus self. If she was ever inclined, Arissa can maintain her Shade aspect for about a day and a half constantly before suffering any ill effects. Needless to say, she doesn’t stay active that long if at all possible.
This gift works to her defensive advantage as well because any who stand in within her field and would try to waylay her using Force-pulled objects will have their powers greatly diminished by the disruption.
Shade can absorb large amounts of energy, not limited to Force attacks (as pushing, pulling, persuasion, lightning, etc.) but also the shots from blasters. Shots from high-caliber rifles that would normally need to be deflected by a lightsaber are reduced to near-nothingness when it penetrates her absorption field. If one should bring a lightsaber into her field, it’s heat, light, and energy (and overall length of blade) will be effectively halved, and the battery will be drained more quickly. Often times, if she isn’t threatened with energy weapons, she will wield her kukri within the aura.
Because she is constantly drawing on the Force, Shade also has an exponential healing factor. While not capable of anything like limb regeneration, her accelerated healing helps keep her fully functional inside her own draining nebulous as well as helps her recover from any injury she sustains in combat or research. Her senses exceed that of a normal human as her eyes, ears, mind, and muscles stay free from disease and degeneration due to her refreshing healing factor. While she doesn’t have the ability to have a projecting “sixth sense”, her other five receivers are finely tuned, helping to offset the light, sound, and energy vortex which can surround her body at any given time.
Whereas most Jedi are capable of some sort of mind trick or persuasion, Shade is only capable of wholly absorbing memories. Instead of rearranging thoughts to get what she wants and leaving a suggestion to fill its place, she will (as it is her only method to do so) literally impel the memories or information she desires into her own mind, leaving blatantly black and empty gaps in the person. Any who try to persuade her while she is “active” will find Shade’s mind to be a swirling pool of black, failing at their task of tricking her mind and exposing themselves to the to the loss of more Force power.
As with most who are strong with the Force, she is capable of detecting other Force users, large objects, etc. While a weaker ability, she detects her target by triggering her powers and feeling the disruptions in the pull from around her body. A mountain has its own flow of Force, and if her “prey” shared the same place, Shade would feel the irregular source. So instead of reaching out, it is more of a pull inwards.
Arissa is special in her use of the Force in that she either is “on” or “off”. She cannot selectively use her powers. This in itself can make her highly detectible (even to non-Force users if they are close enough, though in more guttural senses like a cold tingling nearby or an uneasy but vague feeling about the immediate future) as she is a literal Force well when she is on. When she is effectively “weaker” because her powers are not on, she is still somewhat detectible because (while she can’t use it), her connection to the Force is strong. What’s more, she has no way of detecting other Force users when she does not engage her powers.
The void which she creates, while it can be defensive, nulls any sort of force projection. She is wholly incapable of pushing, pulling, jumping, speed, or most other uses of the Force except as noted above. While objects thrown at her using the Force are significantly hampered, she is still vulnerable to such attacks from outside her aura.
Thirdly, in a galaxy which relies on massive energy use for daily living, planetary assaults, hyperspace travel, and most weapons, she will render weapons such as lightsabers or blasters nearly useless when she is in her swath of darkness. This leaves her options for attack extremely limited as she cannot project either the Force outwardly nor can she use energy-based ranged attacks. Standard knives, bows, and arrows will only get you so far in the current state of modern warfare, weaponry, and armor.
This leads to the fact that she is incapable of using her abilities while actively piloting Adumbration. If done, her ship would power down (shields and blasters included) and she could only coast using inertia. Having a ship with little armor, this exposes her significantly. In addition, if the pilot were a Jedi, her abilities would allow the other pilot to, without error, be able to know exactly where she is. These drawbacks can be used in conjunction with any vehicle, it is particularly more dangerous with spaceships.
As if to add salt to the wound, Arissa is incapable of using her powers in hyperspace. In fact, she is completely rendered “violently catatonic” (almost as if she was having a Force-driven seizure) for as long as she in hyperspace. After every jump, she needs to activate her powers in order to ease her racked body and mind. That is, after she wakes up from her mini-coma (length determined by how long she was in hyperspace). This can be avoided by drugging herself heavily before the jump to light speed, but with longer lingering after-effects.
Lastly, Shade is prone to go “Nova”. This is the only part of her that has to deal with generation of all the forces she normally absorbs. There is an extent to which Arissa can absorb. When she hits her limit, she has something similar to a hyperspace seizure, only instead of being shut down, she goes into overdrive. She has no drug to prevent this reaction. Her powers completely reverse and her body explodes with random, pent up Force energies which are violently released from her out-of-control body. Afterward, she goes into a daylong coma. This situation is compounded by Shade’s use of Umbra. As it is in effect a concentrated use of her powers, it (in opposition to draining a saber’s battery) only expedites the onset of her Nova.
Arissa is extremely intelligent. She is well-versed (to say the least) intellectually and in a battle of pure wits, will win out with little doubt. Her body is extremely lithe and she is most flexible. Additionally, her halted aging process has left her well-toned, proportioned, and youthful body in a very attractive state to any who look for those qualities. As an effect of the healing properties she contains when she goes as Shade, her senses are very acute as there is no degeneration. As long as she takes on her Shade aspect for an hour every three days, she has no physcial need to eat or drink. As Shade, she also has no need to breathe, though as soon as she reverts to Arissa her body needs oxygen to survive (even if she doesn't need food and water).
Arissa favors dexterity and stealth, and thus has sacrificed strength for litheness. For a woman her age and build, she isn’t as strong as the “average” would entail. This also makes her body more fragile. While as Shade, she has a healing factor to help make up for this fact, as Arissa, she lacks in bodily constitution when she isn’t “on”. Mentally she also has a drawback. She possesses no “street smarts”, only “book smarts”. Common sense is lost to her as she favors analytical logic. In other words, she doesn’t have (or if she ever gets, doesn’t rely on) “gut feelings”.
Arissa is extremely self-absorbed. She exists only for her own pursuits. She answers to nobody and will only heed another’s call if there is something in it for her. Shade, through her comprehension of how the galaxy works, feels she is above politics and business. Her interests lay beyond life and death. To her, “good” and “evil” are just fanciful terms used in fanciful fictions.
Because of her firm base in fact, she is very black and white. She operates on absolutes. This only emphasises the assumptions people have about her allegiance. If Arissa knows something, you will be unable to change her mind in that regard. This makes her a stonewall negotiator and also gives her momentum enough to break into what she wants when otherwise others may not be able to do so.
Anti-social would be a compliment. Much as her supernatural namesake implies, she is a drifting and solitary creature. Though she never feels lonely, she does need to know that there are other people "out there".
Arissa keeps a companion animal that she is fond to give soliloquies to, her pet tooke. Currently she is on Tooke VI (an unoriginal but functional name). Arissa develops no emotional attachments to these animals, but favors their simple lifestyle and ability to humor her in “listening to what she has to say”.
Because of her vast knowledge of how the world(s) work, she has little fear in her heart. It is her personal belief that, “You are only afraid of what you do not know” and there is very little she doesn't know. Arissa is extremely comfortable in the dark and prefers it to light. Shade is also emboldened while in her literal and metaphorical shell as it is “her space”. She relies a lot on the fact that she is an unknown quantity and quite misunderstood to help leverage her position even when she is “off”.
Her sense of humor is rather dry, and on the rare occasion she cracks a joke, it usually goes over people’s heads or upsets them. Likewise, she isn’t very adept at picking up on when she is made fun of…or she just doesn’t care. She sees little value in such things as they waste time, and time is a nonrenewable resource. That said, it is apparent Arissa is punctual to a tee and expects others to be as well.
In most situations (read: emergencies) she keeps a cool and level head and works things out logically when others flail around the place screaming. Personal responsibility isn’t just an ideal, it is a way of life. Very few things upset her, but having to clean up someone else’s mess (especially if it has nothing to do with the end she is trying to reach) annoys her endlessly. This is why she attempts go solo as much as possible.
When it comes to using her Force powers, she will do so mostly when honestly threatened or if she needs to make a specific point, pre-empting a threat altogether. Shade possesses no kind of killer drive or bloodlust and is never considered wanton in anything she does. She won’t kill unless necessary, though she will use her expertise to leave attackers disabled. This has nothing to do with moral ramifications of life and death, only that death tends to be more of a headache to deal with after the fact. When it comes to her less-lethal aspects, she uses her mind absorption as she does her ability to take life. The transfer of information is in large blocks and she usually gets a lot of useless thought fodder to sort through and discard.
Orphaned at a young age by events she would never like to recall (yet stay with her every day as a part of her being), Arissa is the heiress to a significantly large import/export firm. There are no documented records in her family tree of Force ability, but it was noted when she was young that she was quite gifted. Her abilities to learn put her far ahead of other students. Her immaturity at the time mixed with parental lavishings (emotionally and monetarily) inflated her head.
Now later on in life, she studies what she wants, where she wants, and when she wants. Money is of no concern to her. She has enough to do the things she needs to do, and has no desire to actively go out and accumulate more. Not big on unnecessary material possessions, she lives somewhat meagerly, though in very aesthetically pleasing locations on several planets. Arissa holds no allegiance to either the Empire or Rebellion (or Force factions thereof), and even works in her parent’s business loosely. She’s worked on behalf of all three to some extent or another over the years, but only as it helped her gain her own personal goals.
While a very powerful force to reckon with indeed, Arissa (thus far) as been rather benign in her ambitions, merely seeking knowledge in all forms. She is always on the hunt for more information. Shade is the spider that weaves the gossamer threads of destiny among the solid points of fact.
Words are funny things. Fickle things. Words are the tidy little parcels in which we ship such intangibles as thought and emotion. And when the package arrives? Most of the content is useful, if even pleasant in their surprise. Some explode. They hurt, even ones that weren’t supposed to. Such fickle things…
Take for instance the word “shade”. One common word. Five common letters. Ten common definitions.
1. Light diminished in intensity as a result of the interception of the rays; partial darkness.
2. An area or a space of partial darkness.
3. Cover or shelter provided by interception by an object of the sun or its rays.
4. Any of various devices used to reduce or screen light or heat.
5. Relative obscurity.
6. The part of a picture or photograph depicting darkness or shadow.
7. The degree to which a color is mixed with black or is decreasingly illuminated; gradation of darkness.
8. A slight difference or variation; a nuance
9. A small amount; a trace
10. A disembodied spirit; a ghost.
Ah, context and nuance. So can you truly understand something until you know everything about it? Or can we slip by with a few and let the rest slide? Words are such fickle things…
- - - - - - - - - -
A black-haired woman turned down an alley. It was night time, but there really never is such a thing as total darkness on Coruscant. She felt at home in the relative blackness and quiet of the alley. As an added bonus, it would save her four minutes of travel time to her destination. The only drawback would be…
“Thugs. Figures.” Blue-hued lips smiled as once again, as the brave woman proved herself right. “I suggest you let me pass without incident, gentlemen.”
“Ain’t no gentle ‘round here, lady. Probably ain’t no men either. According to you we’s thugs, ain’t we boys?” A few heads nodded in concurrence. “That hurts our feelings don’t it, boys?” The cranial chorus testified again. “Here we is, happy as you please in this here alley, an’ we’s accused of being thugs.”
“I also accused you of being gentlemen. Is that worse?”
The bald leader harrumphed and his friends gathered behind him. “Perhaps you need to watch that pretty tongue of yours. Maybe I can do it for you since you’s can’t do it yourself.”
“A threat? Oooh, I’m scared.” If the woman was scared, the smile on her face belied it. “Move out of my way, I’ve already lost one minute, thus rendering my shortcut null.”
“An’ what if we says no?”
“I’ll be angry and render you the same state.”
Neglected teeth smiled and spawned the appearance of others in his comrades. “A threat? Oooh, I’m scared.” His mockery and slow advance gave the woman little option.
“You will be…” With that the fair young lady flushed pale. Her eyes seemed to fill with ink. As a dark mist writhed around her body, shrouding her even more in blackness, her body seemed to vibrate wildly. Except for her pupils. No, they didn’t move. Two dots of red illumination remained solidly fixed on the leader, not waivering one bit despite the chaotic motion outlining the revenant’s body.
The swirling black came closer. The small gang moved away.
Though she spoke loudly, her voice projected past the vortex distorted and just below normal speaking volume, “Move. Now.”
The gang leader tried to stay resolved though he was backpedaling. “Yeah why,” he shouted to her, “what are you? Some kind of freak?!”
With a preternatural rush, the wraith projected a nearly meter long lightsaber. Lightsaber? No, it was completely the opposite. It produced no noise, it absorbed light to a point of total blackness. After its “ignition” of sorts the thugs’ already cooled skin grew colder and they felt a little sluggish. Surely this must be the Finger of Death itself which she held in her pallid hand!
The leader was encompassed in the swarming darkness. A point on his back grew cold as the ice on Hoth and his legs gave out. The bald thug collapsed and his crew parted. Maintaining her spectre-like Shade aspect, Arissa Nassani walked past the men. “Thank you for taking my suggestion, gentlemen. As for you, freak,” she accented the word which was thrown at her to the crippled leader, “you’ll be able to walk again in about 15 minutes. I suggest you use this time to think about what you’ve done.”
The woman’s aura was dropped as she continued walking away. It looked as if she had walked through a black cloud of smoke as it dissipated. Further and further down, the shadows encompassed her until the woman was totally consumed by the alley.
“What was that, boss,” a friend of the leader asked the bald paraplegic as he tended to him.
“An angry ghost,” the thug murmured in a terrified whisper, “straight from the lands of the dead itself…”