- "I've done a few things I'm not proud of, and a few things that keep me up at night screaming. I'm nobody's champion anymore. But right or wrong, I'm not going to let you lay a hand on him again."
- — Ashin, Trevel'ka, 17 ABY
Ashin Cardé Varanin (8 BBY) is a Sith Master with close ties to various bodies in the Unknown Regions. As a Jedi Knight, she never had a Master, but was taught by many different instructors, including Holt Charnil, Akemi Nakamura and Lyn-Char Beorht. Cut off from the Light Side of the Force by the Cult of Shadow, she traveled the galaxy with her lover, Tamzar Ranox, until her kidnapping and forcible recruitment by the Cult. After being forced to use the Dark Side to survive, the fallen Jedi Knight escaped and hid from all galactic matters until recruited to None Whatsoever by Velok's promise that she would not be alone as a moral and ethical Darksider. In this sense she filled the shoes of Ori'vod. She was named First Apprentice to the Sith Empress, Darth Sirena, and later staged a coup of the Sith Empire, replacing Sirena with Rashael Koss.
First in her guise as Darth Ashera and now under her own name, she has regulated access to the most sensitive knowledge onboard the Stormblessed. She is a teacher and mentor for the Sith Scholars, guards the holocrons - the Skull Holocron, the Sorkatar Holocron, the Vectivus Holocron and until recently Vulta Daanat's Holocron - and uses her Jukre tuning techniques to alter the balance of emotions aboard the Stormblessed.
- 1 History
- 2 Appearance, Traits and Personality
- 3 Training, Experience, Potential, Power and Skill
- "Just an ordinary person who woke up one day and discovered she could use the Force. And nothing changed. She didn't get a messiah complex or start ego-tripping. Situations came her way, not of her doing, and she swam as often as she sank."
- — Lyn-Char Beorht
Born to a husband-and-wife merchant team in the Outer Rim, Ashin began training at the RSA Praxeum Moon in her early teens. She spent several years there, maintaining close contact with her family while training under Devon Vos and his associates. She transferred to the new Jedi Temple on Coruscant, where she continued her training and became a close friend of Mahana Sira. She had the option to stay behind when Damascus' Death Star appeared in orbit, but chose instead to evacuate with her fellow Apprentices. Many of them went to an Ithorian herd ship which orbited Talus and then Corellia; the herd ship functioned as a temporary Jedi Temple.
While in Corellian orbit, Ashin received a message from a Bothan named Ketti, in which he claimed to be her parents' business partner. He told her that her parents had been injured in a transit accident and that she needed to come to the main hospital on Kothlis. Ketti, in fact, was a close assistant to Kishkumen, and sought to curry favor with Sivter.
Once lured to Kothlis, Ashin was kidnapped by suborned planetary security troops and spent six days awake in a force-field while her captors attempted to drug or incapacitate her. The drugs included Sith Poison. She resisted and escaped, a trial by fire that became instrumental in her growth as a Jedi. She was aided in her flight by Lyn-Char Beorht and Ember Rekali. Before she could return to the Order, the three Jedi were recruited by Captain Farn Engel to participate in an important effort in the Unknown Regions. Without formal orders, and knowing that Beorht and Rekali were only peripheral members of the Jedi Order, Ashin nevertheless agreed.
Engel's ship brought them to the Jade Worlds, where Ashin became a member of the Committee to Restore the Shau'ghunate, a body which sought to restore the Jade Worlds' independence in a peaceful and legitimate way. Acting as a Jedi advisor to Admiral Jita Hangetsu, she participated in Operation Overdue Justice, an operation that crippled a significant pirate faction. She learned the sai'mrai way from Akemi Nakamura and Siriss Cortann, and helped teach them the lightsabre in return. She also helped Beorht and Rekali train a young prodigy named Halla Kitani Kaijus. Later, when Ember Rekali was framed by Kishkumen's agents for attacking Admiral Hangetsu, Ashin was asked to track him down and assure him that the Guard had discovered the fraud. However, she ended up encountering and tracking La-Reia Beorht with a squad of Guardsmen. The Nightsister attacked her and wounded her, then went for the Guards. Though wounded, Ashin was able to strike Reia down from behind. Ashin remained unaware that Velok had been nearby, subtly making it more difficult for Reia to kill the Guards.
Ashin knew the dangers of being known for killing a Dark Master. Until her ascent as a Sith Lord, only the Guard, Velok and the Cult of Shadow (who heard it from the Lost Twenty, who heard it from Kishkumen) knew who really killed Reia. She does not boast of it, but it has become public knowledge.
Knight of the Order, and of the Jade Worlds
- "How many Jedi just ignore everything lawful, go charging off based on their own judgment, think they can make decisions for thousands or millions?
That’s how it works. You think you’re infallible. And what gives us the right – genetics? That’s elitism at its finest.
We’re not supposed to be above the law. Reformed Darksiders should answer for their crimes in a fair manner, not be given a few pious words about repentance and redemption and then sent on their way. Repentance involves making restitution, being willing to pay for what you’ve done – not given a pardon because your blood has midichlorians in it.
I’ve seen people ‘redeemed’ and re-accepted into the fold who would have been given the death penalty if they weren’t Force-sensitive."
- — Ashin Varanin, Jedi Knight, venting to Brembla Kol
Ashin returned to the Jedi Order and took the Jedi Trials, after which she began service as a Knight, trying to hold the New Republic together. She returned to the Jade Worlds and the joint JW/SIL colonies, this time as a full Jedi. The Jade Empire began to take shape, thanks to understanding Kartanin administrators and the work of the Committee to Restore the Shau'ghunate. Ashin helped train the first Patriots. Kalo-Kaa and others had already learned well from Akemi Nakamura, Siriss Cortann, Lyn-Char Beorht and Ashin herself, and she returned to find Kalo-Kaa her equal.
She was instrumental in the rescue of Ember Rekali, who had been taken hostage by Siriss Cortann and a group of Darksiders who had broken out of a Forcer prison on Armitage. Working with Brembla Kol and several members of the Tak Council, Ashin evicted Cortann and her associates - including Kilenka and Kelen Adwar - from the Jade Empire. She helped save the Isen nobleman Ciribal Armel from Cortann's people, only to face betrayal as Ciribal opted to join the Cult of Shadow along with Cortann and company. She duelled Ciribal and removed his leg at the knee.
Shortly thereafter, she took part in a military operation designed to cripple the Cold, near the Jade Empire's northern borders. Flying the Praetorian, she infiltrated the Cold staging points over Iceball and located the highest concentration of humanoid prisoners. When the JEAF fleet arrived for rescue ops and orbital bombardment, Ashin landed on Iceball and participated in SpecOps raids against certain weapons installations that were located in populated areas. She encountered Simma Cobaul, who warned her of specific Cold patrols, then vanished.
After the Cold threat was neutralized, Ashin resigned her commission and left the Jade Worlds. To her old trainer Master Charnil, she cited two reasons: the successful establishment of the Patriots, and the sense of an oncoming storm. She returned to Onderon and took an apprentice, a Mon Calamari boy named Temap. After two routine missions, they traveled to the ice world of Yusi to follow up on ancient hints to the location of a lightsabre cache. Leaving Temap to search one set of ruins, Ashin set out for another set - an ancient palace and colosseum, half-way around the world. It was there that she encountered Tamzar Ranox, who (it appeared) had been stranded for days. In the snowstorm, Ashin's fighter disappeared. They survived the storm together by nesting in the guts of a snow-bantha, and set out to find the cache.
In that purpose they were unsuccessful, but they did find an ancient Sith laboratory and crypt buried under the palace. After fighting Sith-animated skeletons in alchemical armour, they found themselves trapped in the crypt with a holocron encased in a black skull. The holocron's gatekeeper agreed to release them from the rapidly freezing crypt if, and only if, Ashin used the Dark Side. The influence of the holocron's presence, coupled with Ranox's efforts to unseat her, influenced Ashin enough that she lost control and used the Dark Side to break a huge granite altar. The passage unsealed and they left the palace, though not before Ranox destroyed the crypt with a thermal detonator.
When they got outside, her X-Wing was waiting. Ranox revealed that he had been remote-controlling it to get her help in retrieving the holocron, and pulled a lightsabre. Ashin disabled the remote-control apparatus in the fighter and confronted him; the incident ended when Ranox received a communication regarding the Winnowing, and proposed that they work together. Ashin agreed. She, Temap and Ranox traveled to Kothlis, where they would encounter 'Delana Saan, Jedi Knight' and Kishkumen.
Things Fall Apart
- "She will come through this, you have my word on that."
- — Tamzar Ranox
It was not the first time that Ashin had come face-to-face with Kishkumen. Her involvement with the Cult of Shadow stretched back across several years. This time around, she had the help of Darth Ranox, who outmaneuvered and incapacitated the Dark Lord. They would have secured him as a prisoner if not for Temap: the young, terrified Mon Cal decapitated the unconscious man. Kishkumen exploded at death. Temap was almost killed by Ranox for his efforts, but Ashin intervened.
With help from the Winnowing's mysterious manipulator, the three followed the cache to Nar Shaddaa and confronted 'Delana Saan'. They didn't know whether Saan was actually a Jedi; neither were they aware that Temap, and by extension his master, had been targeted by Teroch'dha and Siriss Cortann.
After tracking Saan to a cantina and overcoming her mental influence, they confronted her. Meanwhile, a Teroch'dha assassin finished executing Temap's family and friends, causing Temap - new to the ways of the Force - to become ill without realizing why. He collapsed; Ashin, believing that Saan was using a Force technique, drew her lightsabre but was talked down by Ranox. They left Saan with the cache and took Temap to Ossus and the Temple of the Current.
That night, Siriss Cortann - Kishkumen's lover - snuck into the Temple, killed two Patriots and Faran Kol-Rekali, and took Ashin and Temap hostage. She poisoned them both, Temap fatally. Ashin was rendered near-comatose by a blend of Senflax, Aktharan, Molthiadol and Shadow Poison. As the Shadow Poison approached full integration, Cortann covered her escape by unleashing three Terenarcs. She took Ashin with her, but was pursued by Ranox. He forced her to flee, leaving Ashin behind.
Despite the efforts of the Temple's best healers - Keito Nakayama, Brembla Kol-Rekali and two senior Thuwisten - Ashin eventually succumbed to the poison. When she woke up, she lashed out at everything and everyone in sight with telekinesis. Ranox talked her down. Exhausted, cut off from the Force, Ashin begged him to leave and take her with him. They departed Ossus, destination unknown.
After some time, they found themselves on Trevel'ka, whose huge slums offered a refuge. As Cortann's searchers crossed paths with the Patriots, the Temple of the Voice and the Tak Lords, the outskirts of the War of Darkness began to be felt in the Unknown Regions. Despite a high body count on both sides - Cortann herself was nearly killed by an Asanatir - Ashin did not break cover for several months. She focused on helping humanitarian efforts in the slums where she lived; the cargo of Velok's freighter Concordat was meant for her.
Only days before it arrived, she got wind of a bloody Cult/Patriot battle on Trevin'hi. Guessing that the Cult was also on Trevel'ka, she took the Skull Holocron to an inner-city location, and - by allowing people to notice and fear it - increased its presence in the Force. Two Cult searchers showed up within minutes and threatened the lives of everyone present if Ashin did not turn to the Dark Side and join them. They killed a bystanding Raka Kiri to make a point; with the aid of on old Rai and a smuggler, Ashin killed them. However, a Dark Knight of the Cult, a Bith named Alos Firren, captured Ashin and transported her to Arcanix, much to the chagrin of Siriss Cortann.
Ashin was dosed with Sith Poison, both through the air of Arcanix and through receiving the Cult of Shadow Tattoo on the inside of her left forearm. Though she initially refused to use the Dark Side, she soon found that she could only survive by turning; to her shame, she did so. She received the Mind Twist from the Shadow Keepers, and threw herself into survival.
It was not long before her Jedi Knighthood was made known, and a Dark Knight attempted to fight her. She killed him and took his quarters, prestige and rank, becoming a Dark Knight of the Cult herself. By this point she had served on several missions, and her fall to the Dark Side was complete; nevertheless, in her heart she hated what she had become.
Ashin escaped the Cult while on a mission, killing several fellow Cultists in the process. She ran to New Cov, where her mother lay terminally ill; Cult agents killed her mother. She wandered, still a Darksider, for some time before deciding to lose herself in the slums of Trevel'ka again. She made a living by murdering rapists and taking their money or possessions. She hid from everyone - the Patriots, the Cult, and the Jedi.
Over a period of several weeks, Ashin began to sense a subtle stirring in the Force. Curious, she tracked it to an old Kotala named Hagron-tides-of-green, a devout Jukre Star Sailor, who was 'tuning' the entire world of Trevel'ka. Tuning was a process whereby the 'melodies' and 'dissonance' of the population's emotions, dreams and destinies were brought into tune with the underlying harmonics of the universe, the currents of the Force - the Jukreshna. The Music. Through repeated Jukre rituals over the course of two years, Hagron had been lifting the world's spirits, smoothing their despairs and angers and frustrations into motivation, peace and so forth. He told Ashin that he could take a little time from his work to tune her. He helped her come to terms with her grief, her guilt, and her sense of the unfairness of life, and began to teach her to tune. Nevertheless, when the pacifistic Hagron was threatened by a Dissonant young Jukre, Ashin killed the aggressor.
- "I'll offer her the only thing she wants: the chance to be a good person and a Darksider at the same time. A Jedi? Raised to defend the helpless and so on? I know she killed those Cultists without the Force, using knives of all things. But knives won't heal a broken child or lift rubble off a trapped survivor or stop a Dark Lord of the Sith. She has to be aching to do more; her sense of fairness demands it. She's been taught to see herself as a person who can change things, and she can't make herself be anything less, even if it goes against her conscience."
- — Velok to Kalo-Kaa
After weeks or months of tuning, she was tracked down by Kalo-Kaa and Velok. Velok had tried to recruit Kalo to help regulate the Dark Council; Velok had been impressed with the way Kalo had united Darksiders and Lightsiders, while integrating them into several civilian and military chains of command. He needed someone who could do something similar for the Sith'ari Centrality's Darksiders. Kalo declined out of a sense of duty, though he recognized the validity of Velok's need. Velok had anticipated this; the request had been a preamble to asking Kalo's help in finding Ashin.
They met her and Hagron on Trevel'ka. After confirming the nature of the Centrality, Kalo reluctantly agreed that the job offer was legitimate, and that Velok would probably not ask her to compromise her ethics. Ashin accepted, and said a temporary farewell to Hagron. She departed Trevel'ka with Velok on the starship Sojourn, which he gifted to her.
- "You're a Darksider who's no Darksider at heart, who would keep my people in line and teach them something about honour, duty, compassion, teamwork...basically anything besides self-interest."
- — Velok
On Vjun she was inducted into None Whatsoever and the Sith Purge; the long con of the Dark Council was explained to her, and she joined the Council as Darth Ashera. Velok prevailed upon her to use his Sith holocrons, starting with Ori'vod's entries on the ethical Sith, contained in the Sorkatar Holocron. From there she became Keeper of the Holocrons aboard the Stormblessed, and the authority most responsible for training the Sith Scholars, though she worked with all students in her role as subtle tutor in civic duty, teamwork and ethics. These things occupied much of her time, but she also used all three holocrons extensively. The path of the extinct Blackguards - Vulta Daanat's philosophy of using the Force to understand the universe and gain knowledge - appealed to her, and within Ori'vod's ethical framework she began to explore the strange knowledge of the Skull Holocron and the obscure melange of Velok's own entries into the Sorkatar Holocron.
She interfered in the studies of Darth Silentai, and revealed certain facts about None Whatsoever without Velok's consent. This move solidified her position as a 'peripheral' member of the secret organization; she would never be fully trusted by Velok and Ahkris, at least as far as they ever trusted anyone.
The Sith Empire
- "You know me. You can guess why I made the choice I did, though there are factors you're not aware of."
- — Ashin to Mahana Sira, 18 ABY
Now a Sith Lord, Ashin upheld law and order in the Sith'ari Centrality. Her impartiality was tested, however, when a group of Jedi landed on Vorzyd V, including her longtime friend Mahana Sira. The Jedi had rescued Jeanida Nalloi from the Sith Enclave; hyperdrive and comms damage had forced them to come to ground in the Sith Empire. Ashin's talent for tracking, and her familiarity with Mahana, allowed her to locate the Jedi along with a team of Central Command Operatives. Upon learning their problems, she offered to help; to get them to begin to trust her, she removed her Nihilus-style mask and revealed herself to her old friend and the other Jedi.
She took Mahana and Gaenal'ra to the Stormblessed to contact Ossus via HoloNet, asking that her identity be kept hidden and her involvement be downplayed. In the meantime, she pondered her future. The Jedi had told her that Ember Rekali had covered their escape and was probably dead at the hands of a Sith Lord whose description matched Darth Kabal. Furious, Ashin pondered radical action. She settled on providing an untraceable ship for the two Jedi, who used it to rescue Rekali.
Her courteous public treatment of the two Jedi did not endear her to the Sith of the Stormblessed, and Ashin found herself challenged by Sannasa Moth. She proved enough of a challenge to the Sith Blademaster that she earned back a portion of respect; then she switched the game to a battle of Force powers, endured his onslaught, and choked him into unconsciousness.
In the aftermath, an Elomin Sith Knight attempted to seduce her; in his quarters, Ashin changed her mind, and when her repeated refusals were ignored, half-killed him with a concussive blast of the Force.
Her defeat of the Sith Master failed to restore her 'good name' among the Sith. When called to the Marrovia Sith Temple to answer to Velok for revealing None Whatsoever to Darth Silentai, she was challenged and ridiculed by the Elomin Sith Lord Bos Ten Kam, an illusionist and sorcerer. Unable to find him to defeat him by lightsabre, she resorted to an unorthodox use of Jukre tuning, and in the process discovered that Jukre tuning can, in certain circumstances, dispel illusion by reconciling perception to what truly is. Taking advantage of Kam's surprise, she neutralized him without harming him.
At that point, she entered the Sith temple to face Velok. The Whiphid sought to teach her a lesson, but she matched his wit; startled, the jen'ari acknowledged a fair point and refrained from harming her. Ember Rekali was also present, alive despite Kabal's best efforts. Overjoyed at her old friend's survival, Ashin barely recognized that she had crossed the Dark Lord of the Sith and lived.
Ashin took the time to reconnect with her extended family on Naboo. The Cardé family had a very military background, including several handmaidens to various Queens. Her parents had been safe from certain purges because of her father's move to New Cov as middle-class traders and merchants, but back on Naboo things had not gone well for the extended family, and few remained. Ashin connected with her cousin, former queen Jasmine Cardé-Avondale, bought a small bubble home in Otoh Gunga, and spent several weeks in the lake country. She encountered the Cult of Palpatine - and secretly beat a high-ranking member to a pulp, as well as telekinetically destabilizing their statue of Palpatine. She also learned of Lucian Odysseus and began to investigate him on behalf of None Whatsoever.
Later in her career as a Sith, after being taken as the First Apprentice to the Sith Empress Darth Sirena, Ashin journeyed to Filve, the home of the Paladin Order. She had recently learned Force Lightning from Ald Sorosel, a specialist in that art, and hoped to learn alchemy from him, from the Skull Holocron, and from the spirit of Moroiniy Traverts. The collaboration resulted in a trip to The Home, the conversion of the Paladins and the resurrection of Traverts under the name Darth Kharonos. Ashin had gained a close friend, and a debt to her new Master, who had facilitated the resurrection.
After so long dead, despite his new Sith body's physical fitness, Kharonos' combat skills had suffered, and Ashin took it upon herself to bring him back up to speed. They journeyed to the planet Mimban, searching for Thrella artifacts with a group of troopers including the Elom Corporal Sanep - all unknowing that the planet was also being searched by Doctor Linna Beorht and the spacer Jedi student Kayla Masi. Ashin and Kharonos felt a tremor in the Force caused by Beorht's interaction with the Kaiburr Crystal. They journeyed to the Temple of Pomojema, where the Crystal fell down a Thrella well. Ashin leaped in after it and fell for miles, approaching Mimban's mantle. Battered by the fall, she obtained the Crystal and used its waning power to heal herself and telekinetically rise up the well. She emerged from the well inside the Temple, with the Kaiburr Crystal in her arms.
As Masi and Beorht reclaimed their ancient Thrella starship, Ashin and Kharonos examined the crystal. Realizing that it lost its power the farther it went from the Temple of Pomojema, Ashin suggested to the alchemist that linking it to a smaller shard of crystal could let her access its power from afar. They began a ritual, but were interrupted by a sudden assault from the Thrella ship. Ashin was able to use the power of the crystal to counter the ancient weapons fire, but Masi and Beorht demanded the Sith leave temple and crystal.
Preparing for a coup d'état
Just prior to Sivter's assault on the galaxy in concert with the Charon, Ashin and the other Lords of the Sith'ari Centrality decided the time had come for a change in the leadership of the Sith Empire. Ashin learned that a plan had been put in place by Hagron-tides-of-green, Ori'vod, Velok and Seren Teancum Mordavo. If the plan was not followed, Ori'vod's Darksight predicted the rise of an eternal empire under Sirena, Halla Kitani Kaijus, Ashin herself or one of a few other candidates. Ashin was told that she needed to strip the Force from Halla, a prodigy on the level of Kalja Sairu Leidias though vastly less trained and experienced. She was told that if she killed Halla, the galaxy would still fall. Not wanting to think poorly of her old friend, she asked Hagron to temporarily block her memories of the conversation, and events were arranged such that Ashin would steal Halla's power without knowing the significance of it.
Ashin decided the time had come for a coup against Sirena. She cultivated the support of many of the Sith Empire's other factions, then realized she valued her freedom too highly to take the position of Dark Lord of the Sith. She met Rashael Koss, Seth deSchaen and Lyra Onaesar - the three Lords of the Old Sith Empire - deep in the fortress of Niflheim, and offered to support Koss as Dark Lord of the entire Sith Empire. Various machinations were in place, though all was kept very quiet, when Sivter made his move against Alsakan.
The Battle of Mon Calamari
The Battle of Mon Calamari would have serious repercussions for the reluctant young Sith Lord. Onboard the Centrality flagship Ineluki, Ashin used La-Reia's Crystal to direct significant power towards a powerful Jukre tuning of the battle, trying to avert utter disaster. Kalja Leidias sensed Ashin's efforts in the midst of her battle meditation and wove the two effects together. Ashin recognized Master Leidias' presence from her many years in various Jedi academies, and was stunned that she had somehow overcome the effects of the Shadow Poison that still swam through Ashin's blood.
Ashin discovered, as she used the Crystal, that it resonated with the Masters who had created it, most of all with those who were present at Mon Calamari: Velok and Empress Halla Terrablade. It drew power from both, though Velok quickly blocked the drain. Struggling to control the flow of energy, Ashin was unable to stop the crystal from draining Halla of strength, at least not without ceasing the tuning effort. To make matters worse, the Crystal was beginning to crack under the strain of being used to its full potential as a portable Force nexus. Ashin feared that if she stopped tuning long enough to find a way to keep it from draining Halla's power and life force, the crystal would break. Therefore, she let it continue, knowing what it meant for her, for her relationship with Halla, and her progress as a Sith Lord - though the latter was a secondary concern. The Crystal drained all of Halla's Force strength, but stopped short of killing her; the Empress was left without the Force, permanently. Ashin had sacrificed the love of her old friend and student, and had meant to sacrifice her life, in service to a greater good.
When the Edict of Darkness arrived, Sivter sensed the efforts of Kalja and Ashin, and intruded subtly upon the young Sith Lord's mind. For posterity, their telepathic dialogue is reproduced in its entirety:
- "How amusing. Who do you think you’re fooling, Ashin? Do you actually believe that you’ve achieved harmony? You’re half a person at best. That doesn’t sound very harmonious to me."
"You took my life from me. You left me without options. I'm responsible only for the choices available to me. To make a difference, to stand up against you, even to survive my time with your Cult, I needed to use the Dark Side of the Force - and if that's the cost, I'm happy to pay it. I think I pity you. If you knew anything about harmony, you would know that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm making progress. And if I die today, making progress, that's good enough for me. Now let me progress you."
Note: At this point, Ashin uses the full power of the Crystal against Sivter, destroying it in the process.
"Not bad. You could be truly powerful if you embraced the true spirit of the Dark Side instead of handicapping yourself further by following Velok and his backward beliefs. Allow me to clue you in to the truth behind that fool. Regardless of intent, he and his group still spread the use of the Dark Side, and that only serves to aid my cause. Oh yes, that includes you and your attempt to bring harmony. Have you even considered that what you believe to be harmony is only your version of it? Since you’re only open to the Dark Side, any harmony you feel within yourself is in fact your being at peace with the Darkness that dominates you. Thus any harmony you spread is an extension of this. In other words, Darth Ashera, you’re attempting to harmonize the galaxy for the Dark Side."
"Let it never be said I ignored a valid point. You're right: to one extent or another, I've been fooling myself. All I'm actually doing is remaking the galaxy in my own image, according to my own will. I have no real problem with that. I won't defend Velok, either. His philosophy is not mine, nor are his weaknesses. On one point, though, I'm forced to disagree with you. Kalja Leidias wove my efforts into hers, and if what I've done had been swaying the balance of things solely in your favour, her instincts would have warned her against doing what she did. You're right in the sense that I'm probably bringing the Dark Side to the fore, but I'll tip the galaxy in any direction that leaves you broken. I'm not strong enough to challenge you myself, but that day will come sooner rather than later, and there are other Darksiders who owe you just as much enmity as I do. Velok just wants to hunt you, wants to bring you down, maybe call himself Dark Lord for a fourth reason, steal your knowledge - he just wants to have a predator's fun. But he doesn't hate you like I do. I'm grateful, you know, Sivter, for what you and yours taught me to be. You've been the chisel to my stone. Without opposition, I would never have become what I am now. I can resent it - I do resent it - but again, let it never be said I ignored a valid point. Over and over the Cult has shaped who I am, up to and including your oh-so-gentle removal of my final illusions. So thank you. You, not I, created Darth Ashera."
- — Sivter and Ashin
After the conclusion of their dialogue, Kalja Leidias congratulated Ashin on resisting Sivter's words - though Ashin found it disturbing that both Kalja and Sivter were pleased. Kalja requested that Ashin continue to tune, and Ashin did so. Without the burden of controlling the Crystal's power, she was capable of far greater finesse, at the cost of reduced magnitude. Kalja continued to weave her tuning into the Battle Meditation.
The Jukre tuning had granted her a glimpse of the whole pattern of the battle, and its implications for the galaxy as a whole. When she sensed a critical element in danger, Ashin ceased to Tune and left the Ineluki aboard the Kyr'am Mureyca. She navigated through the battle to the black hole on the outskirts of the system, and skimmed the Firespray across the accretion disc of solar plasma on her way to rescue Garrett G. Granth IV from the doomed Tzohar. As she approached, hard radiation burnt both her and the little ship; Ashin received a lethal dose, but between Velok's Knowledge by Instinct technique and the Jukre perception of the universe's underpinnings, Ashin experienced and understood the black hole at a doctoral level. After Granth channeled the solar plasma into the portion of the Charon Otherdrives that coexisted in the same space, destroying the Charon fleet from within, he attempted a cold-shirt crossing, and landed in a pile of thick fire-retardant foam within the Firespray.
Much banter ensued. Both had been irradiated to a lethal degree. Landing at a Charon-beseiged hospital on Dac, they set about finding better anti-radiation drugs; Garrett dosed himself and Ashin. Ashin, still burnt and in serious medical danger, was forced to sumbit herself wholly to the Dark Side in order for the strength to kill the attacking Charon and save Garrett. This transformation was spurred by the spirit of Kishkumen. The burst of power mended many of her wounds, and from that moment she began to consider herself a Sith Master, a true Dark Lord. Ashin and Garrett then went to a weather station elsewhere on Dac to stop a Cult team from releasing a bioweapon; Ashin used her Jedi identification records to enlist Republic help and access. At this point, she was technically still missing in action, but she soon would leave the name Darth Ashera behind and go by her own name, openly.
They were tracked down after the battle by Kalja Leidias, who healed the remaining radiation damage and confirmed Ashin's belief that there was no cure for Shadow Poison. It was around this time that Ashin remembered her conversation with Hagron. The coup against Sirena would have to wait, though, as Sivter remained the primary threat.
Assault on Arcanix
At that point, Ashin became involved in the allied forces' assault on Arcanix. Along with Asemir Lor'kora, Nova and Tsivoin Ulderis, she infiltrated the Cult stronghold, intending to occupy Sivter. They made their way past the Shadow Keepers, using a variant of Sith Poison called Ashin's Henna to duplicate the Cult of Shadow Tattoo, as all the team members except Ashin had removed theirs. They entered the Shadow Temple's library in search of Teshran Lor. The Dark Lord agreed to turn against Sivter in exchange for safe passage off Arcanix, territory in the Sith Empire and a place on the Council. As a gesture of good faith she gave him Vulta Daanat's Holocron. The next day - the day of the assault - he drew the attention of the Cult to a duel between himself and Siriss Cortann on the Ashen Expanse. Sivter himself was in attendance. Meanwhile, Ashin and Asemir, disguised, had spoken with Kishkumen, whose spirit possessed an Eradicator-class Droid. Kishkumen was building a machine of great complexity using Korriban Crystals. He took them for spies of Arksis Nan, looking to learn from him, and acquiesed until Siriss Cortann arrived with news of her upcoming duel. Ashin and Asemir spent the rest of the night hiding in a storage room in the forges, in position to strike when the time came.
In the morning, as Teshran and his people rebelled against Sivter, Ashin and Asemir raided the Forges of the Shadow Temple. They killed several alchemists, destroyed furnaces, and even - using Kishkumen's tomahawk Sundering - shattered works of alchemy. As Asemir duelled with Arksis Nan, Ashin squared off against Darth Obscurus as an equal, over a datacard full of Kishkumen's research. Faced with waves of Schrai, she copied the datacard to her ComTac implant and gave it to Obscurus. The two made common cause against the Schrai. When Obscurus went to deal with Uvon Okdoro and the bio alchemy labs, Ashin went deeper into the Shadow Temple. She ran across none other than Kishkumen, who had recently taken the body of a Cult Scholar, and realized that he was trying to impress or intimidate her - that he considered her a threat. She realized then just how far she had come, that the Cult's greatest destroyer, the terror of her youth, was treading carefully around her. She discovered that he had turned traitor, and they fought Schrai together briefly, then parted without violence. A reckoning would come, she felt, but this was not the time.
She moved on and found herself duelling the Dark Lord Morikune for the Necromonus. Using Contempt's aura, she scrambled his ability to break even the products of alchemy, then countered with an offer of employment in the Sith Empire. After a protracted duel, Morikune yielded the Necromonus and departed, eventually making it to Sith space and the inheritance of a Lord. Ashin claimed the Necromonus and bound it to her bracer, then overcame the ancient spirit within and subjugated the talisman. She was about to depart when confronted by Akain Karna, who had recently defeated Siriss Cortann.
She found herself taxed to the limit, and unable to control the range in such close quarters; though a serious practitioner of Form One, she could not defeat him blade-to-blade. Her telekinetic will devastated the Chamber of the Necromonus, ripping out its ceiling and exposing it to the chambers above. She collapsed the roof on Karna, but was overcome by the power of the Spear. The bizarre artifact recognized the elements in her blood that circumscribed her agency, and the Shadow Poison began to bleed through her pores and tear ducts. The Spear's power immobilized her, but kept Akain from striking. As ever, unwilling to be controlled, Ashin took the only chance she had of breaking the Spear's hold: she opened herself to the power of the equally old, equally potent Necromonus. Its corrosive strength ate through the Spear's influence on her. Excited and invigorated for the first time in a long, long time, Ashin allowed Akain to share a rather unexpected kiss with her, and the vision that followed. In the vision, they saw a potential future - them, together, raising a child; her working for the Sith Empire, him for the Jedi. It appealed to Ashin, and she and Akain worked together to fight the Schrai and Cultists until the Force called him away to help resolve the situation between Sivter, Kalja, and his mind-controlled girlfriend Caitlyn DeVries.
Immediately upon her return from Arcanix, the coup began. Seren Mordavo was dead at the hands of Velok and Kabal, and Sirena's whereabouts were unknown. Rashael Koss, backed by the Lords of the Sith Empire, re-established control over the entire Sith Empire. Ashin, as Sirena's First Apprentice, delivered the Tion Hegemony, and set up shop on the world of Chandaar, having moved to secure a portion of Sirena's gigantic library. She angled for a more significant position for the Central Command Operatives, and went from being their patron to being named their leader, DCCO or Director of Central Command Operations. The CCOs gained jurisdiction over investigating and prosecuting Sith within the Empire, as well as dealing with Jedi incursions. Sirena was exiled from the Sith Empire, and Ashin had become a power player almost by chance, and nearly overnight. She began to delegate more and more to the Hands of the Leafghost, to Kelen Adwar and to Hin Jasto. In return for one-half of one percent of Chandaar's gross domestic product, she became its chamption and defender, a beneficence she extended to the Greater Cronese Arc to some extent. Including her complex on Near Indosa, her interests on Naboo and her connections to Filve and Trevel'ka, her life had grown vastly more complicated.
As the political situation began to stabilize, she met with Arice Quinn, Iara Beorht, Ossu Ikari and Alu Beorht on Near Indosa, at her secret complex. She facilitated a meeting with Velok, who used Darth Kren's memories of alchemy to diagnose Alu's condition. As Arice, Iara and Alu left for the Sith Academy on Ziost, looking for a girl named Rave who could be used to test Velok's hypothesis, Ossu was left in the care of Ashin and the Hands of the Leafghost. Ashin began to see something of herself in the Twi'lek girl's sense of helplessness, and remembered what it was like to be tossed around in a storm. She began to wonder if Ossu could learn the ways of the Jukre Star Sailors.
Appearance, Traits and Personality
- "Oh, I've known plenty of people who had her outmatched in sheer power, or skill, or technique, or combat ability. Those aren't what set her apart, oh no. On paper she's bland, bland, bland. But eventually you realize...when you throw the mountain at her, when you break her friends and her soul and her self-image and her self-respect, when you outmatch her in every way, shower her with lightning, cut her up and laugh...she doesn't stop. She's never going to stop. No psychopath or juggernaut, nothing flamboyant or dramatic; an ordinary person, a bit unimpressive. It's just that she hunches her shoulders and takes it and moves on, and may the Force help you if you're what she's looking at."
- — Velok
- — Sergeant Kalo-Kaa
A tallish human woman in her mid-to-late twenties, Ashin is broad-shouldered and strong. Her walk is slightly confrontational and less feminine than she'd like. Her fingers and hands are hardened by combat training; she has a fighter's calluses. She has a scar down her left cheek. When she was younger she wore her hair in a multitude of long thin braids, but now she usually lets it hang loose. While infiltrating the Shadow Temple, she returned to the hairstyle of her teenage years, but braided many small talismans into it: for example, shards of crystal, bone and alchemical metal, a Rakatan poem inscribed on a tiny disc of beskar, and a few tiny Sith relics. She also had the mark of Naga Sadow tattooed on her forehead with temporary Ashin's Henna on that occasion.
She often wears the uniform of a Central Command Operative; before the Battle of Mon Calamari, as Darth Ashera, she also wore a Darth Nihilus mask that altered her voice slightly. The mask was used when she was in the presence of Jedi or, sometimes, Cultists. She has been known to wear armour (see below), black Jedi robes, or a hooded cloak. However, even as one of the Dark Lords of the Dark Council, she often prefers the simple CCO uniform, or even just the brown shirt and pants.
Ashin doesn't consider herself anything special, and she's no prodigy. Her skills and powers would be moderately advanced for a Knight of her age if not for the artificial augmentations she has experienced, but her key traits are tenacity, toughness and a sort of depressed determination. No matter how rough things get, emotionally or physically, Ashin presses on. Her stubbornness and willpower, developed in the fires of war and tragedy and wandering, set her apart from Jedi who have spent their whole careers training or going on standard Jedi missions.
- "Grim, a bit prudish, or maybe just asexual. I've certainly never known her to mess around. Her momma taught her something different than mine taught me - or maybe it's just that I spent my teen years in the Twilight Praxeum."
- — Brembla Kol, age 19
The only man she's ever slept with was Tamzar Ranox, with whom she traveled for several months. She feels lingering guilt over this. She was nearly raped on Arcanix; this event is what convinced her to embrace the Force again. She nearly slept with Garrett G. Granth IV, but they were separated by circumstances involving the destruction of the galaxy.
Ashin firmly believes Force-users should be held to the same standards - legally and ethically - as anyone else. This has not changed since becoming a Sith Lord. She once tried and publicly executed a Sith Knight for murdering a civilian.
A Note on Biology
Ashin was a 'stock' human before her first experiences with the Cult of Shadow. Over the course of her Jedi, Cult and Sith careers, however, she has been infected with no less than five varieties of Sith Poison:
- An ancient Jade Worlds variant of unknown origin, rediscovered by Siriss Cortann
- Shadow Poison
- 'Classic' Sith Poison (by Ketti, and later in the Sith'ari Centrality)
- Arcanix Corrupter poison, aerosolized
- Cult of Shadow Tattoo poison
These poisons have altered Ashin's biology, making her eyes blue instead of brown and changing the composition of her blood. She now has an extremely high tolerance for all varieties of Sith poison, and her blood can function as a poison. It was altered and weakened by Ashin in consultation with Ahkris, to make Ashin's Henna. She is somewhat paler than she used to be, though that can also be attributed to her use of the Dark Side. Her hair has also lightened, from nearly black to a lighter brown - dirty blonde in some lights. From time to time, a fingernail will fall out. The blue colour of her eyes has continued to lighten; this is likely part of the Dark Side's effect on her physiology.
Training, Experience, Potential, Power and Skill
- "I wasn't tempted or seduced to the Dark Side, at least not in that sense...I did what I had to do to survive and keep my conscience clear. If that makes me a Sith Lord, so be it."
- — Ashin, 18 ABY
Ashin has been cut off permanently from the Light Side of the Force via Shadow Poison . Though she eschewed the Dark Side for some time, eventually she realized that she could only keep herself alive and make a difference by embracing it. She is knowledgeable and powerful enough that she could have claimed the title of Dark Lord of the Sith Empire, and had significant backing for the position - for example, from Seren Teancum Mordavo, Torkan, Darius Malakai and Darth Kabal. However, she deferred in favour of another acceptable candidate, Rashael Koss.
Due to years spent in Jedi academies, Ashin was the definition of a regular Jedi. Her focus still rests on the Core Powers and the standard skills of a Jedi: a testament to discipline. She has experience, talent and ability with the power called Detoxify Poison, can track extremely well via the Force, and sometimes dreams of the future. Her tracking abilities have been altered by her exposure to several kinds of Sith Poison. Now she can sense evil emotions and intentions more easily. She can also use Control Poison. Holt Charnil taught her some obscure, traditional Jedi skills; for one, she can enhance her vision. As another example, she can enhance and 'walk back through' her own short-term memory. She uses this frequently and with great skill. For example, while speaking with Rashael Koss in the fortress of Niflheim on Nassus, she flipped through Sith spellbooks and scrolls, too quickly to read them. She did the same in the library of the Shadow Temple after meeting with Teshran Lor.
Ashin spent considerable time learning the path of the Jukre Star Sailors. Her mentor, Hagron, was devout and not Descant. She uses the tuning ability he taught her to subtly alter the balance of emotions onboard the Stormblessed, evening out the sharpest spikes when necessary.
As Keeper of the Holocrons for None Whatsoever and the Dark Council, Ashin has learned many interesting things. Due to the layered secrets and conflicting ideals of the two overlapping organizations, it is necessary that access to the various holocrons be monitored; this is Ashin's function, and so she spends significant time listening to holocrons teach others and answer their questions. The holocron of Darth Vectivus is one of these, and it is probable that she is familiar at some level with the Force Phantom technique.
After her training with Hagron, and after she overstretched herself and broke La-Reia's Crystal at the Battle of Mon Calamari, Ashin increased her natural potential in the Force, from average to striking. This was improved by learning from many specialists: alchemy from Darth Kharonos and the Skull Holocron, lightning from Ald Sorosel, further alchemy from Darth Sirena, energy manipulation from Velok, and blademastery from the holocron of Ori'vod. Nevertheless, Ashin remains a 'simple' Forcer in her own mind. Her combat philosophy has been compared to that of Darth Vader: she enhances her strength and speed, relies on the lightsabre or simple telekinesis, and uses Force Choke. She views more complex techniques as tools whose learning will increase her innate connection to the Force, but will not use them in battle except at extreme need. The one exception is Jukre tuning, which has been known to disrupt powerful illusions, even the deeper illusions of Sith Magic and the White Current. Whether this would work against the light-bending skills of the Disciples of Twilight is as yet untested.
Ashin created, or at least systematized and named, the process of Bond-tracking, a synthesis of Jukre techniques, Velok's teachings and her own gifts.
Ashin does not possess the extremely rare gift necessary to use true Sith Magic, though she is intimately familiar with it and can create a few similar effects. For example, she speculates that she could achieve applications such as Pax Noctem. She has tapped into the power of Sith Magic without fully understanding it. As with the historical King Ommin, her powers have come about through transformation. Certainly her sense of purpose is potent enough that Ashin affects reality on a deep level, building off her Jukre understanding. She may, in effect, have found a back door into Sith Magic - as certain fallen Jukre have done.
Ashin is not a lightsabre specialist, but can hold her own against all but the finest duellists. She has gone blade-to-blade with Sannasa Moth, Akain Karna and Darth Obscurus, and held her own. Her primary weapon is the blue-bladed lightsabre she created as a Jedi Knight. Until her duel with Morikune inside the Shadow Temple, she also relied upon a Jiann-style, Tak-forged Force Sword. She carries Sundering, one of the Tools of Kishkumen, as a secondary weapon.
- Form I: Shii-Cho (master) - Over the course of her extensive education, Ashin has focused almost entirely on Shii-Cho. Her fighting style is simple and direct, a weaker, quicker echo of Darth Vader. Her greatest strength is timing; she is also a master of broken rhythm.
- Ashin is also a master of an obscure branch of Shii-Cho. Its ready stance involves a one-handed grip with wrist inverted to point the blade down. A solid defensive style, it is better suited to sabre combat than blaster deflection, despite the fact that (used right-handed) it only really has two strikes: a quick flick to the enemy's right side; and a whirling overhead cut to the enemy's left side. Both techniques are best suited to decapitation. The style itself is best used to prevent or breach standoff with a superior opponent and enter a closer combat range. It is purely a one-handed form, and thus weak against Form V or a more physically powerful opponent. However, it is well suited to closing with Form IV users. It is risky but effective against Form II.
- Ashin is a 'black' or trainer in Outside Path, a Sokan-like style that is characterized by graceful aerobatics and manipulation of the wind. She is most adept at this style when using a solid blade such as a jiann or kiai'ta.
- Form II: Makashi (limited)
- Form III: Soresu (proficient)
- Form IV: Ataru (proficient)
- Form V: Shien / Djem So (limited)
- Trench System (limited)
- "I am finished running."
- — Ashin
Ashin's armour was made with Sith alchemy by Moroiniy Traverts, Ald Sorosel, the Skull Holocron, and Ashin herself. It is known as Contempt , and projects white noise into the Force, the aetheric equivalent of ECM. This makes her presence hard to miss, but equally hard to pin down; if she is wearing it, her best friend would not recognize her presence. It shields others if they stay close to her. It has been known to disrupt spirits' control over the physical world, and has certain other effects, many of which are uncharted territory. Made from alchemical metal, it is lacquered in blue and red with an alchemical formula of Traverts' creation involving nullification resin and taozin flesh. Inside the armour are set the shards of La-Reia's Crystal, which Ashin shattered through overuse at the Battle of Mon Calamari. The armour is mastercraft and nearly indestructible; though lightsabres or blasters can burn the lacquer away, they cannot harm the metal.
Ashin is fully qualified with a K4 Barrakut Combat Arms Suit, can fly a number of small craft including a Whirlwind-class Assault Courier, and knows a broad selection of JEAF personal weapons. She frequently carries a blaster, sometimes a Blooddrinker. She can fly a starfighter, and has logged quite a few hours in a Dactyl Starfighter, thanks to her ComTac.
Ashin is no trained strategist or tactician, despite her naval commission. She works best alone, and wouldn't know what to do on the bridge of a warship. For example, during the assault on Arcanix she requested that Asemir Lor'kora take command of the team.