Date: Saturday, May 18, 2002 8:39 PM Alida leaned her head into her hands for a moment. She could feel Zuren's intense pain and Octavia's throbbing ache from her burns. Yavin was too far. Zuren would never make it that far. "Alida, we have a problem," came Octavia's voice She turned. "What is it, Octavia?" "Imperial patrols have increased. If we choose another route to Yavin, it will prolong our arrival" "We need an alternate destination," Alida said. "Zuren doesn't have that kind of time." "What about Port Lansing?" Medenna questioned. "It is well equipped." Octavia checked the maps for other alternatives. Alida checked the computers. Port Lansing wasn't that far. "That might be best. Octavia?" "I agree, Master. Everything else is too long of a journey. The only problem I see is that we increase our chances of running into more Imperials." "But Port Lansing is a neutral port." Medenna countered. She had hopes of seeing the station; she had heard others talk when they returned from the yearly visit. "As I recall from my last visit there, there were Alliance patrols there, as well." Alida glanced toward the sleep couch that held her old friend. "We may have no other choice, not if he is to have any chance of surviving." Octavia began changing the coordinates in the computer. "Then we will do what is right. We will go to Port Lansing and seek medical help there." "I can send a transmission to Yavin alerting the others of our destination," Medenna offered. "Scramble it," Alida told her. "No need to alert the Empire as to where we are." "Of course, Master," Medenna replied, turning her attention toward her new task at hand. Octavia sat back staring at the stars. "I agree, they will soon learn of our destination once we land." Alida pushed to her feet and crossed over to Zuren. She knelt next to him with a frown. His breathing had become even more labored. She closed her eyes and focused, drawing the Force around him. Octavia touched Alida's shoulder. *Let me help, you can't do it all alone.* *Focus on your own wounds, young one,* the woman said. *Force only knows what lies ahead for us.* *I will, but he needs more help than I. Whatever we face at the station, we will face with the Force as our ally.* Alida hesitated, and then gave her consent. *Then I thank you for your help.* Octavia smiled, then joined Alida in trying to help keep Zuren alive. Medenna looked back before she continued encrypting the message to the Jedi on Yavin. After what seemed like a long time had passed, Alida finally drew back. Zuren's breathing had evened out and he was resting more comfortably. "Thank you, Octavia." "We look after one another, that is what makes us different from ... Xanatos, and some other Sith." Alida sank to the floor, leaning against the sleep couch. "I believe, in the end, that most, if not all, of the Sith are out for only one thing, Octavia: themselves. No matter what they say, in the end, everything else becomes as refuse to them, to be tossed to the side. It is the way of the Sith and it has been for thousands of years. I was rather surprised to find quite so many, they were not known for their ability to get along with one another in the past." "They have grown in power lately," Octavia answered. "I think the Emperor is holding them together. "Palpatine." Alida breathed the name softly. "The murderer who became king." "His control is strong, and he has those around him who keep him safe. People like Lexor." Alida nodded. "And we must shake that control." "The Jedi must show they are ready to take their place as keepers once again." Octavia said, taking a seat in a chair and closing her eyes. "We cannot fail." "Medenna, were you able to get through to Yavin?" Alida asked. "Yes, Master. It shows it went through." She rose from her seat. "If you don't mind, I was thinking of retiring." "Take Octavia with you and apply more salve to her burns, please." Octavia rose. "You will alert me if you need me?" Alida unfolded from the floor. "Of course. Get some rest." "I will." Octavia paused. *Are you going to take another pupil once Kali passes her trials?* *Yes,* Alida said. *Force willing, if Kali passes her Trials.* Octavia looked at Medenna "I will be right in, Medenna." "You promise?" Medenna asked. "Yes, now go on." Alida watched the girl disappear into the other room. "Is something on your mind, young one?" Octavia nodded. "I might be speaking out of turn, Master, but perhaps you might consider Medenna as your next .... student." Alida sat in the pilot's chair. "An interesting suggestion, Octavia. This is the same child who believes you will be her Master someday, is it not?" Octavia couldn't help but smile. "She is young, and I will not deny there is a connection, yet she should know that I will never be able to be her Master." "It is something I would need to meditate on," Alida told her. "She at least began her training much younger than many on Yavin." "True, and she is very quick." "I will consider what you have suggested." Octavia nodded looking at the stars. "Thank you, Master." "Get some rest," Alida told her. "I'll wake you in a few hours." Octavia nodded and entered the room looking at Medenna who was sleeping on the bed. pulling the covers around her Octavia took out the salve and began to place it on her burns. They still had a while to go before they reached Port Lansing. "A ... lida?" a soft voice came from the other room Octavia heard the older woman respond, "Shh, Zuren. We're going to find someplace safe to take you." "N .... no place ... is ..... safe." Octavia went to the doorway to see Alida sinking next to Zuren again. "We haven't been safe for many years, my friend," she said softly. "I shouldn't have dragged you back into this. I am sorry." "You ... did not drag me." Zuren closed his eyes, taking a breath. "I came will ... ingly" Alida closed her eyes and rested a hand on the man's forehead. The light caught and sparkled briefly in a tear that rolled down Alida's cheek. "Save your strength, Zuren." "My .... You need .... to prepare ... them ..." Zuren gasped softly. "I won't .....live ... keep .. from the Da ... rk side the young ... ones" "No!" Alida pressed her hands on either side of his face. "You're going to live, Zuren. I won't let you die." "St ...born," he said softly as he closed his eyes to drift off to sleep. Alida took a shuddering breath and Octavia could feel her drawing on the Force to calm herself. Octavia walked out of the room. "Master Alida.." The woman looked up, brushing a hand against the side of her face. "Yes, Octavia?" "I'll sit with him. You need some rest," she stated softly. "You're healing, Octavia," Alida pointed out. "Go on back to bed." "I've rested more than you. It is time for you to do so as well." Alida sighed heavily and looked down at the sleeping man stretched out on the couch. "He's dying, Octavia, and I don't know if I can stop it from happening." "No one can change the will of the Force, we can only accept it." Octavia placed a hand on Alida's shoulder. "You stated so yourself, we have no idea what we will face at Port Lansing. You need to rest so you are at your best." Alida nodded and climbed to her feet. "Wake me if there's any change, Octavia." The woman looked exhausted and soul-weary. "I will. Now go and get some rest." Alida nodded. "Thank you." Octavia nodded, sitting next to Zuren. "You're welcome." The Master ducked into the other room. "Al...ways been like that." Octavia placed a hand on his head. "You are as stubborn as she. You need to rest." Zuren started to chuckle, but it turned into a very painful sounding cough. "Will. . . rest. Soon enough." Octavia placed a hand over his chest, holding him. "You will not die, Master. We will be at Port Lansing soon enough. There you will get medical attention." He nodded and closed his eyes. Octavia kept her hand on his chest, monitoring his breathing. She knew that the odds of him surviving, even if they did get to Port Lansing, were 90% against. She just hoped they didn't hit any delays; every moment was precious to ensure he had a chance. ~*~ Alida took off her robe and dropped it onto the sleep couch, careful not to wake the sleeping girl on the other side of the small room. She grimaced, eyeing the blood on her sleeve. It only took a minute to treat the wound once more with bacta salve. She was tired. More tired than she had been in a very long time. The fact that her shields had become somewhat shaky was evidence of just how exhausted she was. Medenna turned, pulling the covers up over her. Alida sat on the sleep couch, watching the girl for a moment. She was young. She did have potential. "Is Master Zuren okay?" Medenna asked softly Alida shook her head. "Physically? No, he is not." "Neither are you, Master. Why do you hide your wound?" She smiled slightly. "It was a minor flesh wound, child, and I treated it." Medenna sat up looking at her. "Yet, you hid it. Why?" "It was of no concern," Alida told her. Medenna looked at her, almost as if studying her. "You were concerned when Octavia masked her injuries. How is yours different?" "Octavia did nothing to take care of her injuries, which were not at all minor," Alida told the girl. "When you cut your finger on a piece of paper, do you announce it?" Medenna chuckled. "No, that's silly." Her face became serious. "Yet, paper cuts do not leave so much blood." "I did not attempt to hide my injury," Alida told her. "And this is, to me, nothing more than a paper cut." "I don't understand," Medenna confessed. "Over my lifetime, I have sustained many injuries. I have learned to deal with them, most of them far more serious than a minor wound like this." Alida gestured at her arm. "Octavia has not had that experience and her wounds needed attention she was not giving them." "That makes sense," Medenna said at last, lying back under the covers. Alida nodded to herself. Medenna was not content with pat answers. Good. "I don't think she'll make that mistake again." "What was that, Medenna?" Medenna turned to face Alida. "I'm sorry, I didn't speak clearly. I said I doubt if Octavia will make that mistake again. Not tending to her wounds, I mean." "I hope it is not a mistake you will make in the future," Alida said. "Learn from those around you and their experiences." "I will do my best," Medenna said firmly. "Do you think the Jedi should go back to the one-on-one training?" Alida had closed her eyes, but she opened them to look at Medenna. "What do you think?" Medenna shrugged. "I've only known the Academy and having many teachers. There's so much to learn, yet to have one to learn from would be better, I think." "Yes, I believe that is the best way," Alida said, closing her eyes. Medenna sank her head against the pillow. "Sleep well, Master." Closing her eyes, she hoped for the best for Zuren and hoped the Jedi Council got her message. "You, too." Alida closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, thinking of Zuren and of her Padawan, wherever the girl might be.
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