This is an account of the life of Raylene Gothiolc, musician extraordinaire and officer in the Imperial Army
((Star Wars Galaxies in character Role Play))
(Incomplete but finished)
Chapter 1: Death of a Musician
Ya know, when my papa died I felt lost and alone. He was all I had, my whole life. I had never been away from home, didn’t know anyone outside of the lab, and had no idea how I would live on my own, but it was made very clear that I couldn’t stay there. All I had was my love and talent for music and my memories of papa. I had heard some of the lab techs talk about how much they enjoyed the entertainment at the Theed cantina so I decided to start there.
Walking into the strange room I was assaulted with smoke, lights, and so many different smells. My nose was screaming in agony, wanting to go back to the disinfectant smell of the lab. But I couldn’t go back, so I went forward. I found an empty corner and pulled out my mandovil. I touched it lightly, closing my eyes and smiling inwardly, remembering all the nights papa and I would play together. He was a terrible musician but he made sure I had access to every song ever written. Playing for him made me happy. His face lit up so brightly and his whole body lightened, my music lifting the burdens of his day and giving him a chance to relax. I opened my eyes and started to play. It was soft and simple. I played for papa. I played for me. I played for my uncertain future. After awhile I noticed a handsome young man staring at me. He never said anything but when he left he tossed a few creds my way. My first pay as a musician.
I slept in the alley behind the cantina when I wasn’t working (which wasn’t very often). I saw that man over the next few weeks and even made a few friends. I soon learned that his name was Vinak and a member of the Imperial Army. He took me to dinner a few times, and showed me around Naboo. Soon my galaxy grew to include the entire planet of Naboo and I could navigate it in my sleep. Vinny taught me a lot about everything from skinning a Kaduu to washing my clothes. After a few months he brought me to meet some friends of his. They were an Imperial Regiment known as Sidious and they were the Emperor’s favorite. I soon became enraptured with them and everything they stood for. They welcomed me in, despite my oddness.
So long I was there. Members died, transferred, or got promoted. But Vinny was always a constant in my life. We were never more than friends but I loved him as deeply as I loved papa. Then there was the second worst day of my life. The Regiment was out on a routine patrol, recon was all it was supposed to be, so I followed. I was due for a promotion but had to prove myself by leading them against the newest wave of Rebels. We had stopped and made camp that night and I started playing for them. It was a slow one, relaxing even the wildest of Naboo creatures, and one by one my comrades started to drift off. Vinny stayed up to keep watch over me and to talk to me about the test I would have to endure for my next promotion.
I closed my eyes and let the music flow through me, moving my body as the notes washed out into the night. Something felt wrong. Animals stirred. There was a thick, ugly smell in the air. I felt afraid, truly petrified, for the first time in my short, sheltered life. I opened my eyes and stared at Vinny, our eyes holding onto each other like our lives depended on it. Slowly the light in his eyes faded away and I saw pain. My gaze went down his body to see blood slowly trickling down his chest. I looked back into his eyes to find a single tear fall down his cheek. I ran to him as he crumpled into a ball. My hands caressing his face, running through his hair. I begged him not to die as our tears mixed together and fell into the pool of blood that was collecting in my lap. His last words to me were; “I found it Ray, I found my freedom…”.
I stayed there holding him for hours, maybe even days, I don’t really remember. We were gone so long that they sent a troop out to find us. When they got there they found me holding onto Vinny so tightly that I had squeezed most of his blood out of his body. There was an inquisition of course. Apparently I was the only one in the Regiment who survived and my superiors wanted to know how the hell that happened. Well so did I. Was I so involved with my music that I didn’t see the Rebels sneak up on us, or hear the shots echoing through the trees? I will never know what happened that night but the nightmares still haunt me.
That was the day I quit playing music.
Chapter 2: A Life Best Forgotten
The day I put down my mandovil was a very painful day for me. I wasn’t just letting go of my music, I was letting go of papa, his dreams, his memories. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. I felt so weak, so empty. The music that once claimed my soul felt so alien to me. What once caressed my very being, brought happiness and serenity wherever I went, was now the serial killer that followed me in the shadows. It had let me down in the worst way. It made me blame myself for Vinny’s death and I hated it for that. I didn’t deserve to make anyone happy anymore. Papa was gone. But I had to do something. So I picked up a sword and became more active with the Regiment, hunting and tracking Rebels.
The sword was an extension of my body, as my music once was. I trained everyday under the study of the greatest teachers and learned all they could teach me. I was able to wield either a one or two-handed sword. When I perfected those weapons I started studying the art of hand to hand combat and became just as deadly with my fists. I had traded in one instrument for another. Killing became a catharsis for my wounded soul.
Those months are a blur to me. Day after day, faces start to run together. One thing I know for sure is, no matter what species you are, we all bleed the same. I became a very valuable asset to the Emperor, and I got promoted through the ranks fairly quickly. The more Rebel blood I spilled, the less I felt. Each life I took briefly numbed the painful memories, but my emptiness only grew more profound. I found senseless murder suited me at the time.
The day I picked up the blade I started feeling more alone among the ranks of Sidious. Let’s face it, I never really felt like I fit in. They were kind to me, gave me a home and support when I needed it, but I never felt like I was one of them. There were always questions about my past and where I came from. How could I tell them that I was born in a lab? That my dear sweet papa was a brilliant bio-geneticist who created me over many years in secret? That creating my life, cost him his? That everything about me from the color of my hair to my talent for music was programmed into me? Would they ever understand that even though I wasn’t conceived in the normal way, I was still human? I knew they wouldn’t. So I kept my distance.
There was one who tried to reach out to me. He was a feisty little Bothan with eyes that looked right through you. He tried to look after me but I pushed him away. I couldn’t handle losing anyone else. After awhile he just left me alone. It hurt that he gave up on me but I couldn’t blame him. There was no more happiness inside of me. I had pushed it all down below the emptiness and pain. Wrapped it up tightly in the anger and hurt. It was buried so deeply that I wondered if it was real. Had I ever been happy once?
This isn’t to say I didn’t try to have fun. My smile was big, my laugh was loud, but my soul was empty. I couldn’t live the facade anymore. The pain was starting to creep up and overwhelm me. I missed my papa. I grieved for all the lives that I took. I ached to have my papa’s arms hold me tightly at night to help chase away my demons. Nothing mattered to me anymore, my life was empty. So I made a date to get up close and personal with the Sarlacc.
I packed up my few possessions, slung my dusty mandovil over my shoulder, headed off to Tatooine and I never looked back.
Chapter 3: The Sarlacc’s Gentle Caress
The Sarlacc…was I really going to do this? While boarding the shuttle, somewhere deep inside of me I screamed out for someone, anyone, to notice that something was wrong with me. Had just one person looked my way with concern on their face or asked if I was ok I would have broken down. I would have told anyone with the slightest hint of interest what I was about to do. Everyone was wrapped up in their own lives. The shuttle teemed with the anticipation of lives that lay ahead as we neared our destination. I was a shell, an empty cloak hiding in a corner. With nothing else to do, I listened.
All through the flight there was a lot of boring talk about political maneuvering in a place they called House Fion. No one noticed the quiet shadow in the corner coming to terms with the end of her life. When we finally landed on Tatooine I felt so heavy. I was here; I had to do what I set out to do. I couldn’t go back. Bestine was filled with people. If it wasn’t for all the dust I would have thought I was back on Naboo.
Slowly I made my way to the cantina to find someone to take me to my newest destination. When I got to the door, my step faltered. The once familiar sound of music seeped through the door, flowing towards me, taunting me. It wrapped around my heart like the touch of a jilted lover begging me to take it back. My soul screamed for me to play a song, not even a whole song, just a few notes, but I couldn’t. I stood frozen in between worlds. A step forward and I could embrace the life I once knew. I could be happy again. My soul would be free. But I knew it would be a hollow freedom, so I stood frozen.
Eventually someone started talking to me. Through broken conversation I found out he had a transport. He (he could have just as well been a female, I can never tell what sex Ithorians are) didn’t speak much basic but somehow I got him to understand where I needed to go. Once we agreed on a price we were off.
The ride itself was uneventful. We didn’t talk which was fine by me. He dropped me off as close as he dared, which ended up being about three thousand meters from it, pointed in the direction I needed to go, and laughed at me as he drove off. I was stopped by a momentary hesitation; a fleeting doubt had crept into my mind. I looked around at all the nothingness surrounding me, like the emptiness that filled my heart, and felt a strange kinship to this land. Determined not to fail in my mission, I gritted my teeth and soldiered on.
I walked for hours with my head down in the dark night. After stumbling a few times I decided that I should stop and rest. After all, I could barely keep my eyes open. I fell down into the cool night sand and laid my head on my pack. Seeing my mandovil laying on the ground next to me I tentatively stroked its strings. It had a strange familiarity to it; one I knew could easily be broken. A tear slid down my cheek and made a tiny dust storm when it hit the sand. I pulled my mandovil in closer and drifted off into fitful dreams, not realizing that the Sarlacc was almost within my grasp.
I’m here to tell you that spice hallucinations have nothing on the ones you get from the Sarlacc. I dreamt in vivid colors and deep emotions. There was no rhyme or reason to my dreams, most I can’t even remember and they really weren’t important. I struggled to pull myself out of the madness. Somewhere between waking and dreaming I saw him.
He looked so calm, so happy. I cried out to him, reaching desperately for him, “Papa!!!!” But he never heard me. My vision clouded with tears and pain. How could he be so close and not see me! His little girl was hurting, frantic for comfort and his love, but he never came. I felt even more alone. Finally, I drifted off into another fitful sleep. Sounds of music filled me. Papa’s laughter wrapped around me and rocked me gently.
I was back in the lab playing music for him. His eyes were on me, a wistful smile on his face. Somewhere deep in my memories I heard him speak to me.
“Ray, your music is a gift. I gave you the ability to use it but you have made it your own. Your notes give me hope. That hope brings healing. Remember that when I am gone. Don’t let it go.”
“Oh Papa, please don’t say that. You’re going to live forever.”
How innocent I was back then. I didn’t know the first thing about pain or despair.
I cried in my sleep, my body tight with anguish and doubt. I felt a hand gently touch my shoulder and when I opened my eyes I found myself in a hospital bed. The doctor was a sweet old lady who looked like she hadn’t slept in days. I found out later that I had been diseased by the Sarlacc while I slept. A moisture farmer came upon me and brought me to the hospital. I had been there for four days while the doctor worried over me. Knowing I would be too embarrassed to answer the doctor’s prying questions about why I was out by the Sarlacc, when I was well enough, I grabbed my things and walked out the door. I stopped briefly to look back and thank her for saving me.
The glare of the sun was harsh on my eyes and the heat was almost unbearable. Gently I ran my tongue over my dry cracked lips tasting blood. My heart was slowly starting to heal. My desire to end my life was stolen by the words my papa had spoken to me in my visions while I lay convoluted in the hospital. So here I stood, in yet another doorway, with another path ahead of me. Where would I go? Would I ever be able to play music again?
Papa’s words echoed in my mind as I took my first steps down the road to a new life. I wasn’t going to let it go this time. I wouldn’t let him down again.
Chapter 4: Vader’s Call
One foot in front of the other, head down against the wind. I should have stayed in the hospital, pride be damned. I couldn’t go back now, I had come too far, and honestly I had no clue where I was. I stumbled a few more times and cursed again for not bringing more water. I stopped a minute and looked off to the horizon. Could those be city walls I see? Hoping it wasn’t just a mirage I kept moving forward. All of a sudden I walked into something hard, fell down and blacked out.
Cool air wrapped around me and I felt like I was drowning. I started coughing and tried to sit up only to have a firm hand push me back down and a hard voice order me to drink. I managed a few licks of the warm water and then blacked out again. Awaking later I heard voices in the distance.
“There are no bases from the direction she came Sir. I don’t know what she was doing out here.”
“Well Lord Vader wants to see her and I’d like to know why first. If I don’t need to bring her myself, I’d rather not.”
I stirred a bit and tried to roll over. I felt those hands on my shoulder again.
“Lt. Gothiolc, ma’am you need to lay still. You are severely dehydrated and need to rest.”
I groaned softly and lost consciousness again wondering how they knew my name.
Eventually I healed enough to move around. There were a bunch of questions about why I was out here, thank god I was the highest ranked officer…I didn’t have to answer their questions. But there was the disturbing news that Lord Vader wanted to see me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to escape his questions. I stayed in the small Imperial camp long enough to heal properly this time and then I ordered one of the men take me back to Bestine. The Sergeant wasn’t happy that I took some of his supplies or one of his men, but I didn’t care. He was the type of person who would have been unhappy about anything, even if he had to fabricate it.
Bestine again, I never thought I’d be back here. I have the Private drop me off in front of the spaceport and nod at him as he salutes me. As I take a few steps into the building, something stops me. There was something missing. The city was busy and as far as I could tell nothing had changed. Then I realized it wasn’t the city that had changed, it was me.
I sigh softly as I realize the long road ahead of me. No more looking back. I stood up straighter and steeled myself for the meeting I was heading to. I made a promise to myself that if I survived Lord Vader’s questions I’d come back to this planet one day. I went inside and booked passage to Naboo, a small part of me cringing at its remembered beauty.
Chapter 5 : Bittersweet Reunion
Theed has its own aura. It’s thick and busy. To the casual observer it’s bustling with merchants selling their wares and entertainers trying to make a name for themselves. But to those of us who see below the surface there is an undercurrent of pain and poison. Thank goodness I was only going to be here long enough to grab a shuttle. Taking one last look around me I take a minute to silently say goodbye. As the rain starts to fall I wrap my cloak tightly around me and grab a ticket to Sidious. It feels like a lifetime since I last set foot there. I board the shuttle and wonder how many new faces there will be and if the old ones will recognize me.
I’m the last one off the shuttle this time, trepidation holding me back. I step out into the sun and into a large gathering. I feel a little overwhelmed and take a minute to get my bearings. While I’m trying to figure out what’s going on I notice movement in the corner of my eye. Turning to it I feel tiny arms wrap around my shoulder squeezing me tightly.
“Raylene!!! It’s been so long!” The pink hair in her ponytail shimmered in the sun and a bright smile looked slightly up at me. Her smile is contagious, always has been, and I smile back at her.
“Naydine, gosh have you gotten taller since I’ve been gone?” An ongoing joke between us, and her smile got bigger.
Naydine wasn’t much shorter then I was but she was so tiny that she gives the feeling of fragility. Many men who didn’t know her underestimated her and lived to regret it. She is perhaps my closest friend in the whole galaxy. Many times we’ve looked out for each other both physically and emotionally. She is on the front lines more often then not and has seen more things then I ever want to know about, yet she keeps a wide smile on her face. Naydine truly enjoys life as much as she can. I knew she’d be the one who could tell me what was going on in Sidious.
Pulling her to the side I ask what all the commotion is. She reminds me about the newest wave of Rebel bases that are being put up and that the Emperor has sent Sidious out to get rid of them. I take another look around at the growing crowd and notice everyone adjusting their armor, tightening their packs, checking their weapons. Officers walking up and down the lines making sure the newer recruits aren’t screwed up. It all looks so familiar to me and I feel my heart squeeze in sadness knowing that a handful of the privates won’t be coming home. I feel her pulling on my sleeve. Sighing softly I turn back to look at her.
“Are you coming with us again? We really miss you Ray, and I could use the company.”
Shaking my head sadly I have to tell her no. “I’m sorry Naydine, Lord Vader has sent for me.”
She knows the implications of this call and tightens her grip on my arm.
“You make sure to come back and visit me when you’re done with him ok?”
Her face now has a shadow. We both know I may not survive this meeting. I hold her tightly and promise to stop here on my way out. Not in any rush to face Vader, I decide to walk instead of grab a ride out there. Offering her a lopsided smile, I wished them safe journeys and then start the long walk to the Retreat.
How many times had I walked this path? It’s so familiar to me I don’t even need to pay attention, so instead I fall back into my own thoughts. Gallons of blood spilled because of me, all in the name of the Emperor. Don’t get me wrong, I will always follow an order like any solider should, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it. Those Rebels that I killed had families at home waiting for them. Children who will now grow up without a father or mother because of me. Oh I know that if I hadn’t done it then it would have been someone else but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with.
I am Second Lieutenant Raylene Gothiolc and I serve proudly in the Imperial Army. I am trained to kill Rebel insurgents and anyone else that has been ordered to die and I know ways of torture that are the nightmares of grown men. I bring death quickly and needlessly wherever I am directed. I am also fully prepared to kill myself if captured so I don’t give away any secrets. Yet there is another side of me, a softer more caring side that doesn’t get a chance to come out very often. I am Ray, daughter of a dead man who gave his life to the Empire but made the mistake of trying to be happy at the same time. I bring hope and peace with just a few strums of my mandovil. I love deeply and strongly but with difficulty. My question now was how to I reconcile the two very distinct parts of me. I needed to integrate them to keep from losing one or the other. It is a lifelong process, I know, but one I am willing to embark upon.
The amount of Storm Troopers increase and I need to be watchful for superiors so I don’t miss a salute. I’m getting closer to what could be the end of my life. Not too long ago I made a decision to end it, but that was different, it was my choice. I get closer to the entrance of the Retreat and my knees start shaking. I don’t want to go through with this but I know if I don’t I will die painfully. At least this way Lord Vader can learn what I know before he kills me. Walking through the door, Kaja Or’Zee nods at me and motions me down the hall. How long has she stood there, guarding the door? My feet feel heavy and it takes great concentration to keep them moving.
This place is like the rest of the buildings on this planet, beautifully hiding it’s secrets. Walking through the main room I glace sideways at the Royal Imperial Guards in their blood red robes and hoods, quietly thanking that I don’t have to go up to see the Emperor. The hallways are fairly empty and my footsteps echo through them. I use this sound to anchor me in reality. Second hall, turn left, take a steadying breath and walk through the door while I still have some nerve left in me to move.
My body is no longer responding to my will and I feel myself being pulled forward further into the sparse room. Before my eyes can even focus on Lord Vader I feel myself fall down on my knees and bow to him. The last coherent thought I have is, “You sent for me my Lord?”.
Tendrils of darkness envelope my mind, twisting and turning around my memories. I feel the urge to scream but it gets caught in my throat. Memories of papa flood my mind. The things he worked on in secret. Dinner times we shared over the years. And then, memories that are of my papa, but not mine. I don’t understand how I could know these things about him. I watched as he worked on a dead young woman, bloody and scarred from animals. She looks vaguely familiar to me but I don’t know how. A flash of anger that isn’t mine flows through me and then the memories change. I’m killing again. Over and over, without a second thought as to why. There is blood on my hands that will never wash off. An emptiness fills me that is only satiated by death. I feel a sick pleasure at what I have done. Now I’m in a cantina. Music flowing around me, oblivious to my surroundings. This is a difficult rift. I watch as I work through it effortlessly. Tatooine now. I’m laying next to the Sarlacc half dead. One by one the memories of my life rush through me for inspection and are met with either anger or something slightly less.
I roll over coughing painfully, my head pounding. I have to squint my eyes because the sun is too bright. Slowly I come to my senses. I’m alive, barely but I’m alive! Not wanting to push my luck by wondering why or how I survived that meeting I decide to get of this blood covered planet. It takes me awhile to get my strength but I manage to stand up and start walking. I can’t go back to Sidious. It might be best if they thought me to be dead. This was my chance to start over someplace no one knew me. Remembering the kinship I felt with Tatooine I decided to go back. Perhaps I could start to heal there.
This shuttle ride is different for me. I felt lighter, like a stone had been lifted from my heart. Maybe now I can put aside the solider in me and try to find out who I am without the uniform. This was my new beginning, a new chance at life for me. There is a part of me that will always love Naboo, but I know too much about it now. It’s just not the home to me it once was. I turn to look out the small window and watch it get smaller as we speed away from it. A tear slides down my cheek as I let go of my past and look forward to my future.
There has always been a quiet beauty to Naboo, but not many people see past the surface of it. They are the lucky ones.