The High Republic: Silent Ship

Excerpt from “Warships of the Third Republic: Second Edition” by Jeen Sienar

“The Resplendent-Class Republic Cruiser was a mid-level military starship designed and built by Fondor Foundries during the early High Republic Era. It was one of the earliest ship classes to accord with the naval restrictions of the Ruusan Reformations, intended to stymie the power of both New Jedi Crusaders and rimward military governors. With the general demilitarization of the Third Republic, the Resplendent-class cruisers were primarily employed for colonial security and pirate deterrence. As their name implies, the cruisers’ design was mostly focused on visual flair, showing off the resurgence of Republic authority in regions where it had either been absent or never present altogether. It conventionally carried a crew complement of about 500, and was armed with only a handful of light and medium turbolaser turrets.

[…]

By the time of the Nihl Incursion, the Resplendent-class design had been long retired, as both its considerable age and lack of significant firepower had proven its obsolescence. Only a single surplus specimen, employed by the frontier-dwelling Folk Jedi, would go on to make history beyond this point…”

Jedi Knight Alboran Kuai stood on the observation deck of the Folk Jedi’s Cruiser, looking out from its panoramic window towards the stars beyond. It would be another few hours before the cruiser would jump to hyperspace, and so he had simply made himself at home in the best way he knew: meditation. Every time and place contained its own opportunities for this, either quiet contemplation or total mental stillness. Kuai considered this to be a greatest gift of his Miralukan heritage, an ability to channel calm when the world inside him threatened to fall apart completely. In truth, his outward passivity masked a great churning within, his skill in meditation a mere inversion of his true demeanor. If others found him boring, this only meant his ruse was succeeding. All he hoped was it might no longer be a ruse someday. But this would take great care. None of the great Miralukan Masters of Meditation had perfected their craft by his age. Though quite a few of them had done so in response to great turmoil, be it personal or social. This encouraged him, hoping that his panic might in time be stilled. For now, all he could do was breathe, and gaze out at the galaxy.

Of course, Alboran’s gaze was different from that of most others. Miralukans were ordinarily blind, seeing only through the Force. While they did not consider this an impairment in any way, it did mean that their vision was tinged with life rather than color. For Alboran, this fact had been a great source of trouble; living on a planet like Coruscant had entailed a constant stream of Force impressions, the primary cause of his severe social anxiety. Even if the Jedi Temple had been a place of comparative calmness, he could never shake the sense that too much was going on around him all the time. Hence his attempted mastery of the meditative arts.

In this context, stars were a curious phenomenon to Alboran. Intellectually, he knew that these bodies were light-years away at best, and yet it was precisely this light which proved bright enough to cross such an unfathomable distance. In the Force, this impression was quite similar; the life he felt emanating from most of them was strong, yet also markedly distant. To him, this was a comfortable feeling, a separation he could appreciate. Though these stars collectively contained more people than Coruscant ever could alone, they seemed considerably less chaotic. Or, to put it more precisely, their chaos was more abstract. Just the way he liked it.

However, any meditator knew that the realm of silence and solitude could not be preserved forever, that one had to be ready and even welcome the intrusion of the external. Thus, when the door behind him opened and another figure entered this observation deck, Alboran tried hard to limit his obvious disappointment. Duty called, in this case quite literally so. The figure was Helfir, here to gather him for an impromptu tour of the cruiser. Since at least a part of him was genuinely curious about the layout of this vessel, he quietly accepted the invitation and followed his fellow Knight into the further reaches of this vast spacecraft.

As they walked through endless corridors, Helfir told him a little about this vessel’s history. It was first constructed as one of the last specimens of an early Third Republic cruiser class. Its design had clearly been based on the large Jedi warships which had triumphed over the Great Warlords at the end of the New Sith Wars. However, to show the dawning of a new age, its basic martial superstructure had been augmented with all kinds of frivolous decorations, a clear attempt to hide the poverty and pragmatism of those early years beneath the false sheen of cheap but flashy materials. Such pretense was hardly sustainable, and the ship had looked more and more like its stripped-down wartime counterparts as years of official service had worn it down. When the Folk Jedi finally bought the craft off a government surplus dealer, almost nothing remained of its original ostentatious nature. Such simplicity suited them well, though they had still introduced some of their own decoration to the craft, if only through the flourishes of their continued occupation. If Alboran was going to be a part of them, he too would likely leave his mark on it.

Alboran himself wasn’t sure how to feel about that. On the one hand, it was not in the meditator’s nature to leave a large impact. The imminent change of the everyday was something one had to adapt to, like the erratic winds which blew through Coruscant’s hyper-tall skyscrapers. On the other hand, there was something strangely comforting about the ship’s kitschy interiors, the expression of an age that had clamored for a yet ephemeral luxury. This hungry ambition was similar to that of the many frontiersmen he was going to protect. Theirs was therefore a very appropriate vessel, and if he could carve out his own niche in it, perhaps by adding some traditional Coruscanti houseplants to a small personal cabin, then he wasn’t going to object to that. Yes, Alboran could come to feel at home here.

While he resolved these inner issues, Helfir lead him through halls and corridors towards the most important part of the ship—the bridge. Unusually, this part had been built underneath the craft, hanging from an inclined tower near its aft. Thus, they took a diagonal elevator that carried them forward and down, coming out into a low semicircular room with more of those vast panoramic windows. In certain spots, Albora saw that even the floors had been made out of transparisteel; another example of the cheap excess that only a new peacetime regime would come up with. Feeling uneasy, he tried his best to avoid these spots as they approached the front of the room. Here, a tall and portly figure had their back turned to them, blue hands clasped behind his back. As the figure turned around, Alboran saw that he was not Chiss but Pantoran, sporting a kind but professional expression between his dark, shortly cropped hair and his white captain’s uniform. The Jedi Knight wasn’t sure how to greet this imposing figure. Yet before he could figure that out, the captain spoke first:

“Ah, you must be our new arrival! Once you’ve served on any ship for more than a few years, you can immediately tell a fresh face. So welcome! I am Captain Destar Triguno, and you now find yourself aboard the Resplendent-class vessel Hope’s Vanguard. It’s an old ship, and we’re a small crew, but I hope you know the importance of our mission. How are you settling in, my friend?”

Again, Alboran had a hard time knowing what to say: “Oh, uh, I’m doing well! Your ship is very quiet. A lot of passenger vessels have these hums and hisses, very annoying when you’re trying to sleep, or meditate, in my case. Ah, and I’m Alboran Kuai, by the way. Jedi Knight. Sorry, I should have introduced myself first.”

The captain was smiling now, which only made him more nervous. “That’s alright, friend. Pleased to meet you. And a quiet ship, I don’t think I’ve heard that one before. Most Jedi don’t seem to care much for their surroundings, but I do. I keep this ship well-maintained, so let me know if any of those hums and hisses creep in nonetheless. I will fix them personally!”   

Finally, mercifully, Helfir decided to break into the conversation.

“Alboran is a good one, as I’m sure you’ll agree. I wish we could have recruited two Jedi this time around, but the second one turned out to be a Dark one. You know as well as I that we couldn’t have let that kind of Force user among us.”

“Aye, though it’s a shameful business. A wound of pure evil, still festering in your Order. You hate to see it.”

“For sure. Now, are we taking our new friend here on our usual tour of the Rim, or has something come up while I was away?”

“Well, actually, there is something. Not sure you want to get involved in it, though.” The captain looked uneasy, hesitant to share more of whatever he hinted at.

“What is it, Destar? You know there’s not a crisis we can avoid. Even Alboran must learn that, if it’s him you’re worried about.”

“No Helfir, this concerns you. It’s some native troubles on Pajoda III, involving you-know-who as their representative. I’m just not sure we should respond. The local militia could technically handle it themselves, you know?”

Alboran could hear his fellow Jedi curse under his breath. “Yeah, that’s tricky. But I don’t think we can avoid it.” Helfir turned to him. “Sorry, Alboran. I was hoping to give you a tour of our outposts, see all the good work we’re doing across the Outer Rim. Unfortunately, not all of the work we do is so good, so pleasant. Right now, there’s a world which needs us, and combat may be involved. So, I have to ask you: are you alright with that?”

In spite of his general apprehension, Alboran did not have to think long. “If it’s what we have to do,” he said, “then I’m okay with it.” In that moment, he really meant it.

Helfir smiled at him, if a little sadly. “You are a true Jedi, Alboran Kuai. Destar, set course for Pajoda III, if you please.”

“Right away, my friend. Back to the Rim we go!”

Alboran felt the ship shudder beneath him as it shifted its direction towards one of the many stars before them. He could hear the navigators tap away at their computer consoles, and right as their pace lessened, space itself stretched out into the familiar linescape of hyperspace. Whatever trouble the frontier faced, the Jedi were on their way.

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