Date: Thursday, May 16, 2002 11:32 PM *Xanatos never did anything without a backup plan,* Alida told her. *Find the safest place to land so you can check the engines undisturbed.* Zuren closed his eyes. "I need to rest." His voice was weak. *Hopefully, they will have a Healer* She could hear Alida taking softly to Zuren. *Medenna see if there's a planeet close enough for us to land to check on repairs* *Friendly to the Alliance, of course,* Medenna said. *Of course, if that's possible.* Medenna searched the records, then pointed out a location of a small, unremarkable planet to land on. Octavia nodded and reported to Alida what was going on. She waited until they had landed before she began to go over the engines and other vital parts of the ship, looking for any surprises that Xanatos might have left for them. "We need a Healer for Zuren," Alida said. "Force willing, I will find one nearby. Have Medenna tell me if there's any change." "I will, Master D'med," Medenna answered, overhearing the Jedi and taking a seat next to Zuren. *He is dying, Octavia,* Alida told the woman. *Prepare Medenna for that eventuality if she has not been present for a death before.* * I will* Alida nodded and slipped out of the ship, leaving Octavia to her work. Octavia went back to her work. Not finding anything, Octavia removed the saber from her belt one more time. "I'm going to see if there's anything under the ship," she told Medenna. She wasn't going to leave anything to chance. "Under?" Medenna questioned. "Be careful." Octavia looked at Zuren, then back to Medenna. "A little late for that." Her voice was bitter. "You should have your injuries looked to." "I'm fine," Octavia said as she walked out of the ship and began an inspection. *Medenna, brace yourself, Zuren is dying,* she sent She received an acknowledgment from the young Jedi. Octavia studied every inch of the ship, then she found what had been altered. The exploding device was crude, but effective. If they had jumped to hyperspace they would have become nothing more than little dust particles. *I have not been able to secure the services of a Healer,* Alida said. *He'll die without one,* Octavia stated. "No way to bribe them with credits, or other means?* *Octavia, there are no Healers here,* Alida said. *Only a few beings with less medical training than I have had.* Frustration was clear in the woman's 'voice'. *I see,* she replied. *I found the problem and we can use hyperspace safely now. I have discovered Xanatos' backup plan.* *I am returning. The best thing for Zuren now is to get him to Yavin.* Alida sighed. *What did he have planned?* *A device that would disturbed the hyperdrive. We would have become part of the Force, if we hadn't stopped.* Octavia finished one last sweep of the ship. *We can leave as soon as you return.* *I am on my way.* *I'll be ready.* Behind her, Octavia could hear Zuren gasping softly. The Jedi Master was having a difficult time controlling the pain he was in. Octavia knelt beside him, letting the force Flow from her to him. *I'm so sorry.* "Not -- your fault," he said quietly. "I should have ducked." "Rest now. We will get you to a Healer, just hang on." A smile ghosted across his face. "Haven't rested. . . in a long time." *He's not going to make it is he?* Medenna asked. Octavia gave her a haunted look, then rose to her feet in silence. She waited by the door for Alida. Alida hurried on board a few moments later, her eyes tired and full of sorrow. Octavia watched as she secured the hatch, then moved toward the front of the transport in silence. *He has lost too much blood,* Alida said finally. *We need to leave, Octavia.* The sound of the ship taking off was the only answer that Alida got from Octavia. Alida moved to offer what comfort she could to Zuren. Some part of her screamed that she was responsible for this. If she hadn't been curious, wanting to discover just who the elusive businessman was, he would still be living his life on Arridor. Medenna looked at Alida. *She blames herself, too. It's not either of your faults* *Are you an empath, child?* Medenna shook her head. *Sometimes, I just know* Alida nodded and focused on Zuren, channeling as much of the healing energy of the Force into her old friend's broken body as she could. He let out a soft moan and drifted off to sleep. Medenna stayed there, watching as an uneasy silence filled the transport. Octavia's thoughts were on getting back to Yavin to a Healer ... to help Zuren. She could worry about Xanatos later ... he would pay. Her thoughts were a cluster of different options, she never heard Alida move.. Alida rose and went over to Octavia. "Your thoughts betray you, young one." Octavia remained silent, staring out the view port as the ship moved through hyperspace. Alida looked out of the view port, not at Octavia, as she spoke. "Revenge, if you allow yourself to be overtaken by it, will be your undoing." "I allowed him to get the best of me ... no that's not right, I allowed my overconfidence to give him the upper hand." Her tone was bitter. "And now Zuren is paying for my mistakes." "Then you learn from the experience and move on." "How can you be so distant?" Octavia questioned. "He could die before we get back to Yavin." Alida turned to face Octavia. "Distant, you say?" The woman stilled herself and for a brief moment, the old Jedi allowed Octavia to feel the anguish that was tearing through her, then Alida drew her shields around herself again. "I am not distant, Octavia, but I know what can and cannot be done for Zuren." "You mask it so well," Octavia said softly. "I'm ... sorry. Xanatos is right, I'll never be ..." she stopped herself. "We're coming out of hyperspace." "I have had a few decades experience, Octavia," Alida said quietly, "and experienced more deaths than I care to recall. You are young and still learning. Time will help you develop what you call a 'mask'." "I hope to have your wisdom one day." "You are already quite wise," Alida said quietly, turning to look back at Zuren. "Without anymore interference, we should arrive at Yavin in three days." "Force willing, Zuren will live to see planet fall." Octavia nodded, hoping the course she chose was clean of Imperial ships; they didn't need anymore interference or delays. "Whatever Xanatos said to you, ignore it." Alida looked out the view port once more. "He's a jealous man, Octavia." "He's dangerous, and one without any weaknesses." "He has his weaknesses," Alida said. "I didn't see any," Octavia replied. "I really don't want to face the Jedi council again." She let out a slight sigh. "As I just said, he's jealous. He's vengeful. Those are weaknesses." Alida looked back at her. "Face the Council?" "What happened on Arridor - they will want a report." "You have nothing to worry about," Alida said. "You handled yourself well." "You need to get some rest." Octavia settled herself in the chair. She removed the robe from her shoulders, it made her injuries ache. "After you, Octavia," Alida said. "Go on back." "You've been trying to heal Zuren ..." "And?" Octavia shook her head. "He might need you before we land." "I will rest when I can," Alida said. "I don't know how much time he has, Octavia." Octavia rose slowly. "Alright. For a few hours. Maybe you're right." She favored her leg as she stood. "Everything has been programmed in." She stopped briefly. "You will let me know if anything changes with Zuren?" "Yes, of course," she said. "Go get some rest." Octavia walked back, favoring her leg. She stopped when she saw Medenna resting her head next to Zuren's hand. "Want me to look at your injuries?" Medenna asked, half-asleep "No, I'm fine, you get some rest." Octavia whispered. Laying her robe over Medenna, she walked back to the room to sleep. ~*~ Zuren's sleep was fitful, full of images. Xanatos' face loomed over him. "Your blood will help me survive." His gloating face and piercing eyes filled Zuren's memories. "No," he said softly. Xanatos' grin widened evilly. "Yes. Blood. Your blood." "No .. we'll stop you." Zuren tossed. He could see the girl -- Octavia -- tied down, her features so pale. Tubes stained dark red ran from her body. "She's mine ... and will be the first to die" Medenna stirred, feeling the conflict with Zuren. "Master D'med?" "Yes, Medenna?" "Master Zuren ..." "There's little I can do for him right now," Alida said. "I have been attempting to ease his pain, but what you're seeing and feeling is what manages to get past." "There's nothing we can do?" she asked. "The memories are painful to him." "I know," Alida said. "But as bad as these are, there are worse memories that I have been able to block." Medenna nodded. "Why? Why were we put through all that?" "The lab will have to reform if it's going to remain on Arridor," Alida said. "Hopefully, it will help restore the planet. The class of downtrodden beings rose up, as well, changing the politics of the planet. Perhaps for those reasons." "But what he did to him to you, to Octavia. All for the sake of keeping his Force abilities and ..." Medenna stopped when she realized her voice was rising. "He's sick." "Yes, he is," Alida said. She reached over to brush back Zuren's hair from his forehead. His face was lined with age and pain. "You are upset about what happened." "Of course. Aren't you?" Medenna asked. "Octavia won't even let me tend to her wounds." Alida frowned. "Has she said why she will not allow you to help her?" Medenna shook her head. "She states she's just tired, and I should rest and watch over Master Zuren.. I don't think she wants me to bother her." "Stubborn woman," Alida said softly. "Stay with Zuren, Medenna." Medenna nodded.. Alida got to her feet and headed in the direction Octavia had disappeared to. Apparently, the young woman was rather adept at hiding certain things. Thankfully, Medenna seemed to know her better than that. If Octavia wouldn't listen to Medenna, perhaps she would listen to Alida. Octavia's room was quiet, though Alida could tell someone was awake. She knocked softly on the side of the door and waited. Sounds of shuffling were heard, then it became quiet. "Yes?" "I'd like to talk to you, Octavia." There was a long silence before Octavia said, 'The door is open.", Alida opened the door and stepped inside. "You are avoiding Medenna, when the girl wishes to help. Why?" Octavia sat down in a chair letting her robe close around her. "I'm not avoiding her." "She tells me you have wounds that need to be tended to." "They are only slight burns. That is all, nothing as serious as Master Zuren's." Octavia paused. "I will see a Healer when we reach Yavin." "Let me see." Octavia looked at Alida, wondering if she could put the woman off. However, there was something in her eyes that told her she wouldn't be as easy as Medenna was. "I am waiting, Octavia," the woman said evenly. Rising, Octavia let the robe fall open, revealing the burn marks she had received from Xanatos' saber. The worst were on her legs and shoulders, though her neck sported a nasty welt. "It's nothing serious." "I was unaware you were also trained as a Healer," Alida said. "There is a medpac in the other room. It should hold bacta salve to treat those burns." Octavia nodded, sitting back down. It took Alida only a moment to gather the supplies she needed. She stopped next to Zuren, placing a hand against his cheek. Her old friend was having a hard time breathing and his sleep was anything but restful. With a regretful sigh, she turned and went back to Octavia. There was nothing more she could do for Zuren. As Alida approached the room again, she thought she heard soft voices and low conversation. She paused outside of Octavia's door, unwilling to interrupt. The door opened and Octavia stepped back. "It's alright. Come in." Alida frowned. "Octavia, who were you speaking with?" "My grandfather," she replied simply. "I see." Alida put down the medpac and took out what she needed. "Might I ask what Master Jinn had to say, or was it of a personal nature?" Octavia sat down so Alida could take care of the wounds. "He simply said I needed to think differently, and that I needed to act like the Jedi I'm supposed to be. I've been rude and selfish, and treading dangerous ground." Alida moved back the fabric of Octavia's tunic, to reach the burns on the young woman's shoulder. "Rude and selfish?" "Yes, rude to you and to Medenna," Octavia explained. Alida dabbed bacta salve onto the wound. "How so?" "By locking myself away and retreating into solitude, only to brood." "You were supposed to be resting," Alida chided mildly. "Not brooding." "I know but ..." Octavia flinched slightly as the salve hit a tender and sore spot. "...but I couldn't. So many visions … memories." Alida finished bandaging Octavia's left shoulder, then moved to her right. "You were in too much pain?" Octavia nodded. "But I was angry too. I kept dwelling on that anger, it was so .... comforting." "Only for a short while," Alida told her. "Then it begins to eat you from inside, until it eventually consumes you." Octavia nodded. "I was reminded of that." "Your grandfather had many opportunities to know what anger was, Octavia," Alida said. She finished the other shoulder and knelt to see to the younger woman's legs. "But he never let it control him." "At times I feel so close to understanding that, but then ....I seem to forget it all." "What causes you to forget your training?" Octavia shook her head and remained silent for a while. "My own personal ego," she said at last. Alida finished and sat on the floor, her legs crossed, looking up at Octavia. "And such is the reason why training began so much younger years ago. It takes much discipline to keep one's ego in line. Even Masters were known to allow it to cloud their thinking at times." "You've learned to control it, so did my father and Qui-Gon. Yet look how I handled fixing the engines, just because I didn't feel Xanatos' presence, I believed I was alone and now Master Zuren could die because of that error." "Anakin Skywalker." Octavia looked at Alida confusion was clear. "Your grandfather's ego did get in the way once or twice. According to my Master and others, Anakin Skywalker was proof of that." Alida shook her head. "We're Jedi, not perfect, child. We all fail at some point." "I know I will never be perfect, but how do you live up to legend?" Xanatos' words were still fresh in her mind. "If that is what you're striving for, then you are not meant to be a Jedi." Octavia shook her and gave a wry smile. "Striving for? No. Yet I feel that others may feel that way." Alida nodded, satisfied by the answer. "Tell me, Octavia, who is it you must answer to in the end?" Octavia sat quiet thinking. "The Force, and myself." She paused. "No one can choose my path, except me, and I can be no one but myself." "Do not concern yourself with what others may expect of you, or to whom they may compare you." Alida rose gracefully to her feet. "You are strong with the Force, Octavia Syn Jinn. Stay true to your path and the Force will guide you." Octavia smiled rising to her feet. "Then he was right, I was being rude and disrespectful not only to you, Medenna and Master Zuren, but to myself as well." "He was a wise Jedi." "He had good teachers." Octavia put her robe on, the salve helped but it still hurt. "How is Zuren?" "I can do nothing more for him," Alida said, her voice quiet. Octavia nodded. "I have a feeling he's stronger than either of us give him credit for. I just wish we had a Healer." "So do I," Alida said. "My skills in that area are limited, even dealing with a baseline human like Zuren." Octavia nodded. "He just needs to rest, that might be his best treatment at least until we get to Yavin." Alida sighed. "As you should be resting, Octavia." Octavia nodded. "Yes, the salve is helping the pain, perhaps I will try to rest again." "Do so," Alida said. "If you need anything, I will be with Master Zuren." Octavia lay back on the sleep couch. "I only need him to survive." Alida nodded. "Force willing, he will."
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