Date: Sunday, May 19, 2002 4:16 PM Alida opened her eyes. She could have sworn she'd felt Kali's presence nearby. She turned to look across the room to see Medenna sleeping peacefully. She climbed out of the sleep couch and padded to the door to see Octavia sitting next to Zuren. *Master?* Octavia looked up. "Is anything wrong?" *Kali.* Alida smiled. "No, Octavia. My Padawan is near." Octavia wiped the sweat from Zuren's face. "How close?" *Thank the Force, I thought I was starting to feel things. Where are you, Master?* Alida glanced at the coordinates and 'read' them off to Kali. She knelt next to Zuren. "He's worsening." Octavia nodded, "He needs to rest as much as possible." *We should be there shortly. Can your ship be docked with?* Kali questioned. *Yes, but it must be done quickly. We have a critically injured Jedi on board.* Alida told her Padawan before she turned to Octavia. "Kaliandra will be joining us soon." *Yes, Master. I'll contact you again shortly.* "That will be good," Octavia said. "Has he been conscious at all?" "Yes, briefly." Octavia rose, wrapping her arms around herself. "He believes he will die." Alida reached down to brush back the man's sweat-soaked hair. "He's not young any longer, Octavia." She leaned in close to Zuren. "But you're not ready to die, my friend." "None of us are as young as we once were, but if he doesn't fight to live, then no matter what we do, he will worsen." Octavia kept her voice controlled as she turned back to adjust the covers on the Jedi. "We can help him, but we cannot be his will." "No, but we can lend him our strength until he has his own once more." Alida closed her eyes for a brief moment, seeing in her memories Zuren in the prime of his life and not the elderly man in such pain that he had become. Octavia nodded and took her place in the pilot seat leaving the two Jedi alone. 'You've got to live Zuren' she thought to herself. "They are getting closer," Alida said suddenly. "Be ready, Octavia. We will need to do this as quickly as we can." "I will be ready Master," Octavia replied. They couldn't waste time in docking, they needed to make their way to the station for Zuren's sake "Kali is strong with the Force, Octavia. Her presence here may help Zuren." "I know she will be of assistance. She had a good teacher in the ways of the Force." Alida gave Octavia a small bow of her head. "We are ready when they are," Octavia announced at last. Alida reached out. *Kaliandra.* *Yes, Master. I'm ready as soon as we dock.* "Now, Octavia." Octavia nodded as she moved the ship to dock with the one carrying Alida's Padawan. *Come to the cockpit, Kali. I am sorry I am unable to go down to greet you.* *I'll be right there, my Master.* The two ships jolted together and the air lock started to cycle. The procedure was soon completed and the other ship quickly disengaged and sped away. "We have her," Octavia stated the obvious. "Thank the Force," Alida breathed. Alida heard booted feet headed toward the cockpit. She turned. "Kali." "Master." The young woman stood there, smiling at her. She had bruises on her cheek and neck and scratches peppered her cheek, but other than that she appeared to be fine. Alida stood to greet her. "You are well?" "I'm fine," she said as she moved to embrace her and then frowned. "Master, what's wrong?" "Kali, this is Master Zuren." She knelt down once more. "An old friend." "Oh, Force," she said softly, sinking beside her. "How is he?" Octavia reset the headings for Port Lansing. "He's barely hanging on." "May I help?" Kali asked. Alida nodded. "It would be most welcome." She nodded and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and Alida could feel her centering herself in the Force and then reaching out to Zuren, channeling as much of the Force's healing power as she could into injured man. Alida shot a small smile at Octavia. "We need to hurry." "We should arrive in two days, Master." "We'll need to take shifts with him." Octavia nodded. "You should try to rest, you've spent many hours with him already. Kaliandra and I can take over for a while." She shook her head. "I just woke not long ago, Octavia. I want you to rest." "I'm fine, the salve is working." "Are you arguing with me?" Octavia took in a breath. "No Master, I know better than to argue with you." She bowed to Alida. "If you need me." "Thank you, Octavia." She frowned. "I only hope we are doing the right thing." "We are." Octavia stated, limping back toward the room where Medenna was still resting. Alida didn't feel quite that certain, however. Octavia was quiet when she entered the room leaning against the door she was exhausted and her body ached from the recent abuse. "Master, are you okay?" Medenna asked quietly, watching her from where she lay. "I'm tired," Octavia replied. "You should call me Octavia, Medenna. Your Master I will not be, you know it." "But--" "Medenna, search your feelings." Octavia's voice was calm. "What does the Force tell you?" Medenna sat up, frowning. "It tells me. . ." She looked up at Octavia. "You're not going to be my Master, are you?" "No, young one." Octavia answered. "You would be Knighted long before that would happen. If a Master you seek, another you must look to." Medenna nodded. "But who?" Octavia shut her eyes feeling the Force around her, letting it calm her. "Perhaps Master D'med." she said softly. "Her Padawan will be Knighted soon I believe." She opened her eyes to look at the girl. "That is a possibility open to you." "But she wants to train only someone very young." Octavia nodded, then turned as if she heard someone talking to her. "Then, be straightforward and ask her. It has been in the past ... the long past." "Yes, M-- Octavia." *Octavia! Come now!* Octavia rose to her feet and left the room "Zuren?" Alida was next to Kaliandra, both bent over the old Jedi. She looked up. "We need your help, Octavia. We're losing him." Octavia looked at the Jedi, then knelt beside him. "That is not an option." Kaliandra's face was damp with persperation as she concentrated. Alida closed her eyes and Octavia could feel her focusing. Octavia cleared her mind, tapping into the Force drawing on it then sending it to the injured Jedi, her full focus and concentration was on Zuren. She could 'hear' Alida talking to Zuren, trying to convince him to hold on. Octavia felt Kaliandra's strength as well as Alida's. She added her voice and strength urging Zuren to hang on. Gradually, they could feel Zuren reaching to the Force, his strength returning slowly. Alida sat back. "Don't you do this to us," she said softly to the unconscious man. "We haven't come this far to lose you." Octavia wiped the sweat from Zuren's brow, looking at the other two. "You have to be strong," she whispered. "Kali." Alida placed a hand on the young woman's arm. "He'll be alright for a little while." The young woman sat back, breathing heavily. She looked over at her Master and nodded. "Thank you, Padawan." She looked to her other side. "Octavia." Medenna brought in liquids. "I thought you might need something." Octavia nodded, closing her eyes briefly. Kali slowly to her feet, her knees stiff from kneeling so long. She smiled to the girl. "Thank you." "How long have you been awake?" Alida asked. "A little while." Medenna answered, looking at Kaliandra. "Nice to see you again." "And it's nice to see you, I just wish circumstances were better." She looked over at her Master. "It looks like a great deal has happened while I've been gone." Alida nodded and accepted the drink Medenna handed to her. "And your mission, Padawan? How did it go?" "A relative success, though I'm not sure how much it's going to matter." Octavia sat back, giving Kaliandra a slight smile and pushing back her now shortened hair. "That is an understatement." she whispered. "The rumored device was real, but now is destroyed and I carry the only copies of the plans. The designer was killed by a man that he himself killed the father of decades ago." "I see. Then you were successful in what you set out to do." She nodded. "Yes, Master." Alida nodded. "Very good." Kali smiled slightly and then frowned. "Have either of you heard ofa man by the name of DuCruet?" "Oh, no. DuCruet?" Kali's frown deepened." What is it, Master?" Alida glanced at Octavia. "Xanatos." Octavia whispered. "His reach is ..." "Xanatos DuCruet fell many years ago, Kaliandra," Alida told her. Kaliandra looked from one to the other. "Oh." She took a deep breath. "The Machine was being built for a Xanatos DuCruet," she said. "I found several communiqués between the Count and DuCruet when I was downloading the computer core before I sent it into a melt down." "He's been busy since his rebirth." Octavia rose to her feet. "He's got to be stopped." "I did set a small surprise to be found when he tries to access the plans for the Machine," Kali said. "As soon as we have Zuren in the hands of the medical personnel at Port Lansing, I am going to search for him," Alida said. She glanced at the girl. "What did you do?" "Remember all those lessons you gave me on programming, Master?" she asked. Alida nodded. "I set a worm virus into action once he connects with what's left of the Count's computer complex that will slowly and pervasively corrupt every system connected with it." Alida chuckled. "Very creative, Padawan." She smiled. "It will also flag those systems to be picked up on the holonet." Alida glanced at Octavia. *I will be cutting her braid, Octavia.* *She has done well.* Octavia replied. "It seems we have not seen the last of Xanatos. Master D'med, you will not be searching for him alone." Kaliandra nodded. Alida shook her head. "Octavia, Xanatos has marked you for your connection with Master Jinn." "Master, you're going to have to tell me what happened when we get a moment," Kali said, trying to follow the conversation between Alida and Octavia. "It will take more than a moment, Kaliandra," Alida said. "But know this: Xanatos is a deadly enemy to have." She nodded. Octavia stood her ground. "He is not the first to mark me because of my name, but I will not run from him. And you can't face him alone." Alida frowned. "Very well. We shall see." "And you will not have to face him alone as long I am still alive," Kali said softly. Octavia nodded to Kaliandra. "You see, you will not face him alone. Even Qui-Gon had his apprentice when he faced him." Alida gave them a small smile. "Thank you." Medenna looked between the trio. "Don't forget about me." Alida looked at the girl. "And what of your studies?" "I ... My studies are fine, I'm ahead in most of the classes." Medenna paused. "There's more to learning than a classroom.. One must have experiences and examples to follow." Octavia sat back and covered her mouth with her hand to hide her smile. If nothing else, Medenna was persistent. "Very true," Alida said. "But tracking Xanatos presents grave danger. You've been in his reach already." Kali leaned back with a bemused expression, watching this exchange "As you have. Besides, Master D'med, I was able to bring the workers to the labs. What would you have done if I was not there?" "In all truthfulness, Medenna, I do not know." Medenna paused, "Perhaps there's a reason to keep me around. I've learned much from watching you and ... Octavia." "Why the pause before Octavia's name?" Alida questioned. Medenna took a breath. "Even though I believe she will be a Master one day, I realize that she is not to be mine. My ...path lies elsewhere." "I see." Octavia watched Alida in silence, giving Kaliandra a slight glance. "Then you are willing to follow the will of the Force, Medenna?" "Yes," she answered firmly. "Isn't that the meaning of being a Jedi, Master?" "That does not mean that all are willing to do that, when it goes against their own wishes and desires." Medenna nodded. "I know, but I will, even if it means remaining at the Academy to help others." *She is closer to an Old Jedi than any of the others her age I have seen on Yavin,* Alida told Kali. The young woman nodded. "Thank you for your help, Kali," Alida said, looking down at Zuren again. Kaliandra smiled, "Glad to help." Medenna rose and picked up the dishes, smiling when Octavia nodded at her. "Can I get anything for any of you?" "See if there has been any reply from the Council," Alida directed. Medenna nodded and moved to check the communications. Octavia rose from her place and headed for the cockpit. "I will check our courses to make sure our path is still clear." Alida pulled Kali to the side. "When the time comes, I may consider Medenna." Kali stared at her a moment and then nodded. "Yes, Master." "You seem startled." She sighed. "I guess I never thought about you taking another Padawan. I mean, I knew you would eventually, but--" her voice trailed off. "Does this mean--" She cleared her throat. "Master?" "Do you plan on being a Padawan forever?" Alida asked. "No," she said and then looked at Alida. "I don't know if I'm ready." Alida smiled. "You are ready, Kaliandra. When we next meet with the Council, I will do for you as my Master did for me." Kali stared at her in disbelief. "It will be an honor to cut your braid, Padawan." Her hand went to her braid. It had been a part of who she was as long as she could remember. "A Knight." "You have proven yourself and your commitment to the Force. It is time." She nodded. "I thank you, my Master. And I thank you for the years you spent training me and caring for me." Alida clasped the girl on the shoulder. "Serve the Force well, Padawan." She pulled her into a brief hug. Kali hugged her tightly. "I will, my Master. I promise." "You are a Knight now, Kaliandra. The cutting is merely a formal ceremony, but one I would like to do for you." "And I would like you to do it," she said softly. "And whatever this business with DuCruet is, I will be with you at your side through it." "Go get some rest, Kali," Alida said. "You look exhausted." "You don't look much better," she countered. "When is the last time you rested, Master?" "Not very long ago. Go." "Master D'med," Medenna stated, entering the room. "Yes, Medenna?" "Master D'sau received our message. She agrees that taking Master Zuren to Port Lansing is a good idea. She will send someone to return him to Yavin after her gets medical attention. She was also glad to hear of you and Octavia being cleared of murder." Kali raised her eyebrows. "Murder?" "It's a very long story, Kaliandra. We will fill you in once you've rested." She sighed and nodded. "Yes, Master." "Medenna, could you show P-- Knight Daroa where the crew quarters are?" Kali looked at her Master and smiled. "Thank you." "Of course." Medenna smiled. "Come on they're this way." Kali nodded and followed after her. Alida watched them leave before she went over to Octavia. "Kaliandra is no longer my Padawan," she said softly. "She will still look to you for help." Octavia replied. "She will be a fine Jedi." "She will be. She is strong with the Force." "The ceremony, will it be public for all or just for the Jedi or is it a private ceremony?" Octavia asked. "For the Jedi," Alida said. "It must be quiet, Octavia. The Imperials do not need another target." Octavia nodded. "The routes still seem to be clear." Her voice was distant. "Octavia?" Alida questioned. "Is something wrong?" "There was a break out of a mysterious plague on Arridor after we left." "Yes, I am aware of that." "I'm sure Xanatos is behind it all." Octavia shook her head. "The Alliance is taking a very bad beating there as well." "The resources at his disposal must be rather impressive," Alida said quietly. "You have news feed from Arridor?" Octavia nodded turning the screen so Alida could see it as well. "Estimate death toll from the civilians alone is ...." She stopped and Alida bowed her head. "The pain has to stop, Master. One day, there has to be peace again." "There was never peace, Octavia," Alida said. "Not in the entire galaxy, but it was never like this." "This is all I've ever known," she answered slowly. "I always wondered why my father chose to hide, I never understood it then, but now I do." "When my former Master sent me away, he believed it would only be for a short while," Alida told her. "Balance has not yet been achieved, but only the Force knows how long it will take." "We can only do what is required of us. I just hope Victoria left Arridor before that plague outbreak." "You do not have some way of contacting her?" "I've sent a message to Tara asking about her health. No word yet." Octavia leaned back in the chair. Her hand went to the burn on her neck and she rubbed it slightly. "I feel she's alive and safe. At least Xanatos doesn't know about her." "Good." Alida looked at her. "How is the wound on your leg?" "It's healing slowly, but it aches." "There may be some acedophen in the medpac. It may help." Octavia nodded. "How is your wound?" "You've been speaking to Medenna." Alida shook her head. "It is healing well." "She mentioned it in passing," Octavia said with a slight grin. Alida rose to get the medpac. She dug through it as she walked back, finding the acedophen she wanted for Octavia. "This is not a decision to make lightly." "What do you mean?" "Pursuit of Xanatos." "No, it's not, but neither is hiding from him." Octavia rubbed her leg. "He will pursue me no matter what, and go after those I care about." Alida glanced over her shoulder toward the crew cabin. "He knows of your attachment to Medenna." She turned back and pressed the hypospray against Octavia's throat. "Give that a moment." Octavia nodded. "He will use you and Master Zuren as well," Octavia reminded her. "He can never learn of Victoria." "I believe Alderson Palpatine will take care of that." "And you will take care of Medenna, I feel." "Another decision not to be made lightly." "No decision a Jedi makes is easy. Never has been, never will be." "Oh, there were a few." A smile tugged at the corners of Alida's lips. "Really?" "To climb the eastern spire to watch the sun rise." Alida smiled softly. "It wasn't really permitted, but many young Padawans chose to ignore that." "It must have been something to risk getting into trouble." "It was spectacular." She chuckled. "And 'trouble' for that usually entailed extra meditation, not a chore at all." Octavia nodded. "Yhen it was worth the risk. Too bad there isn't a way to see that now. Though the sunrises on Yavin are breathtaking." "That they are," she agreed. Octavia looked back toward Zuren, "I think he will enjoy them as well." "He'll live to see them," Alida swore. Octavia touched the woman's hand. "Yes, he will. Though I will feel better once we reach Port Lansing and he's under medical treatment." "You're not the only one." She leaned her head back. "We were not guaranteed an easy path." "Training to be a Jedi, or being a Jedi is not an easy path," Octavia stated softly. "The few smooth patches on my path passed many decades ago." Alida sighed and went over to Zuren. "As they did for Zuren." Octavia joined her. "He is breathing easier." "Yes, he is," she agreed. "He accuses me of being stubborn, but Zuren was never one to let go. He'll fight." "You are stubborn, Master." Octavia said softly. "You both are." "A necessary trait nowadays, it seems." "It would seem." Octavia stated. "As long as we're more stubborn than those who would destroy us." "I think we are. " "Speaking of being stubborn. . . my stubborn Padawan will need to have her braid cut." Alida nodded toward the comm unit. "I'll need to notify the Council." "I'll stay with Master Zuren while you transmit." "Thank you." Alida nodded. "He should be alright for a while. I'll want to check his injuries shortly, however." Octavia nodded. "Be sure to encrypt the message." "Of course." Octavia smiled, turning back to Zuren. He was resting better. Alida returned a short while later, looking grim. "The news feeds continue from Arridor." "And?" "Chaos. Utter chaos." "Is the Plague under control?" "Far from it." "What have they done?" "To control it? Nothing at all." "There has to be a way.. There just has to be." "And we will try to find it." "Even the Imperials are being affected, didn't the labs think of that?" "Xanatos wouldn't care," Alida said. "And Lexor? I don't know. Would she?" Octavia shook her head, "I don't know, I sensed there is more to her than we know, but I don't know." "More to her how?" Alida asked. "What drives her." Octavia replied. "You do not believe it is simple greed?" "No, there's pain underlining her motives. I believe everything else has been added to that pain." "Pain caused her to murder those men and women at the lab?" Octavia shook her head. "Pain can cause one to do a lot of things. Alida shook her head. "You'll understand if I have a difficult time accepting that as a reason behind what she has done." "If pain is twisted, it can Force people to do many things. What if Xanatos twisted her pain?" "It's possible," Alida allowed. "I could be wrong." "Or you could be right." She took a deep breath. "Pain can be used for many things, Octavia. Some take it and use it to push them forward, to keep it from happening again. Others, bury it deep within and let it eat at them. Yet others do as you suggest Lexor may have." Octavia nodded and remained quiet. "I can only hope it doesn't consume her." "Or those who stand in her way." "Like us." "We escaped, Octavia. She won't take kindly to that." Octavia rubbed her arm. "I am still wondering why she wanted our blood." She looked up at Alida. "What purpose could our blood hold for her?" "To study, perhaps?" Alida said thoughtfully. "It has been done in the past, as so-called scientists tried to understand the connection between the Jedi and the Force." "Is there a connection?" "You are Jedi, Octavia. You tell me." "Midichlorians," Octavia answered. "Yet, there's no way to isolate them." Octavia paused. "The Force chooses who is to weld it. We do not choose the Force." "And all of the studies in the galaxy would not change that fact," Alida agreed. "Yet still they continue." "Then I don't understand, why pursue it?" "Because they don't believe we tell the truth, that the Jedi -- and perhaps now, the Sith -- wish to control this 'power' and keep it fro themselves." "Maybe, or they could be looking for a way to alter our ability to feel the Force or a way to control those who are Force sensitive." "Many years ago, there was one who thought he could do that." "Did he ever succeed?" "No," she said. "He wanted to create an army of Force-sensitives to suit his 'needs'. Master Aaro and I were assigned to stop him, along with four others." Octavia nodded. "Now more seem to rise to take that one's place." "Such evil seems to thrive." "So many see the Jedi as nothing more but test subjects? How did the Council handle it back then?" "There were so many more of us then," she said, "and the Darkness that seems to cover everything wasn't as pervasive. It took little to convince people that Jedi were not laboratory animals." "Why didn't the Jedi see the danger that was coming, Master?" Alida stopped at the question that seemed to come from nowhere. It was one she had asked herself many times over the past four decades. "Perhaps arrogance?" she asked. "We allowed ourselves to believe that we would be able to handle anything." "No one saw what was beginning to happen?" Octavia questioned and her voice seemed to drop. "No one?" "Some did, Octavia, or I would not be here today. My Master had the foresight to ask me to go into hiding years before the Purge. If he had not, I, too, would have died in the attack on the Temple." She sighed. "There were others who did the same, such as Zuren. We were sent with the admonition to train Jedi when the time came." Octavia sat in silence, her own father had survived. He had survived long enough to make sure she was safe, but something had happened. Something to make him leave, made him go to his death. "What occupies your thoughts?" "My father ... my grandmother. They survived ...at least for a time." "And this bothers you?" Alida sounded confused. "I don't understand why they left. They had survived, why not wait like you did?" "The Force leads each of us in different directions," Alida said. "Why were we even led into hiding to begin with?" "To be there when needed." Octavia shook her head. "When I was eight, I went to see my grandmother, she was safe and seemed willing to help my father train me. She was safe on ..." Alida waited for her to continue. Octavia stopped and closed her eyes. "She was living on Telos, before we left I was sent out so I couldn't hear what they were talking about." she looked at Alida. "What if they discovered what the labs were starting to work on?" "Would your grandmother have left information for you?" "Everything I had was lost on My'kr. Well, everything except Qui-Gon's saber ... wait ... she showed me a hiding place in her wall one time. Could be something is still there, that is if the building still exists?" "On Telos?" Octavia nodded. "Yes, she lived on the outskirts, not too far from their hot springs." "Then once our business at Port Lansing is complete, perhaps we should travel to Telos." "It would seem that way," Octavia stated looking over at Zuren. "I would suggest we leave Master Zuren on Yavin, though." Alida nodded. "He will need time to recover." "We should get some rest while we can," "And that was where you were heading earlier," Alida said with a smile. "Go." "So I was." Octavia smiled. "So I was." "Go on. There's another sleep couch back there." Octavia rose stiffly. "In shifts, right?" "In shifts." Octavia nodded. "Goodnight, Master." "Rest well, Octavia." Alida waited until Octavia disappeared into the crew cabin, where her former Padawan and, possibly, her future Padawan, now slept.
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