by Rachel Schmutter

Sighing, I lean back and swivel away from the computer screen. It seems like I've been at this forever: cut off in my own little pocket universe, totally isolated from everyone else-which, in a way, is true. For pretty much the entire year, I've been cooped up in Sonya's Tardis, working on two massive projects. One of the benefits of having a huge, multitasking, and sentient ship like Tardis. Heck, I've scarcely even seen Sonya, I've been so busy.

My first project was really peculiar. It started when I picked up a test tube on Port Lansing station last year. The test tube was filled with a semi-liquid substance that was a godawful blend of blue, brown, and fuchsia. One of the Allied personnel had snatched it from the back of a dusty old shelf in the Imperial section of the station. I doubt anyone knew it was there. Probably the only reason the Imperials were trying to get it back from us was that they saw them scuttling out with it. I shake my head, grinning to myself. *Bad form,* I think, Kate's long-ago lesson echoing in my mind's ear: The first rule of stealing, or spying, is to look as if you blend in.

Anyway, sitting in Lansing's Alliance HQ between attack runs, I spotted the test tube. (That was when I noticed the delightful color scheme.) Curiosity, a small subtle urging from within, the Force, or all three prompted me to try my erratic psychometry to see if I could learn anything about it. So I did.

It was alive!

Following my instincts, I projected welcome/friendship/protection to it as strongly as I could. Concentrating hard, I just managed to pick up the faintest sense of surprise and a thin sort of 'outreaching.' The substance was just barely sentient, so ordinary telepathy would never have worked on it. If I hadn't had my own strange version of the Sight, I knew I wouldn't have detected the slightest sentience or life-force whatsoever. That meant that, luckily, the Imps didn't know it was anything but a test-tube full of gunk. That's probably why it had been hidden away in that dusty old corner-at least, as dusty as anything on-station could be. The only other person in the galaxy who has anything like my kind of Sight is the Sybil; and I don't think anyone, including her, has psychometry (though she hardly needs it).

During that weekend, both me and Ebon Cheval, one of Nik-Vie's former 'students,' promised separately to do everything we could to return the substance to its homeworld. When we found out we'd both promised to help the stuff, we agreed to bring it home together. So I've spent months and months onboard Tardis, checking through memory banks for any world in this galaxy that could support this life form. Of course, Tardis did most of the scanning. I mostly interfaced between Tardis' worlds'-views and the friendly glop's reactions to them.

It took a long time and a lot of effort, but it looks like it's finally paid off. Between Tardis, me, and T.T. Glop, we've narrowed it down to 57 planets-which really isn't much, considering that we started with most of the galaxy! I figure we'll just have to try them all, as soon as I can get a hold of Ebon. He'd decided it was okay for me to take the stuff onto Tardis for security reasons, as long as I kept my promise that we bring it home together.

My other project has been, well, myself. I spent most of the past year going over my Force training from the very beginning. The twin goals I focused on were the training and retraining of my mind and my will. I spent month upon endless month studying every fragment of my soul, making sure that no scrap of the Dark-either in training or in purpose-remained.

The shielding was the easier part, though far from simple. I started with the baby-shields I learned as a toddler, and worked up through the more solid, complicated training I learned in class; from the tricks I picked up from studying Sonya to the traps that Elf-Uncle taught me. Layer upon careful layer, I rebuilt my defenses until they were as multifaceted and near-impervious as the true diamonds from eons ago.

The more important work was the infinitesmal study of the core of my mind, my very selfness. I tranced back steadily through the years, from my lighting-flash reawakening to the Light, to my journeys into Darkness, to the exuberance of my trainee-self at the Jedi Academy, to my mischievous but intense youth at the School that housed the largest Rebel base in all of Home. As I moved through the meditation exercises that grew stronger every year in step with my wakening powers, there were times I could swear I felt my mom's presence, or that of her elegant, dark-skinned, silver-haired sister-self.

Then there was a point back beyond all memory. I closed my eyes and waited, outside of time….

…Out of the aliveness of the galaxies, the fiery heart of the primal Force, my center is born. Over the years, that center roots and grows, ever-steady and sure. Sparks of star-motes flash about it in their endless dance, bringing Light out of the Darkness. Franklin's gentle strength and Kevin's sweet devotion shine as twin beacons in the night; support without smothering, guidance without restraint. Our branches intertwine in spheres of silver glory. Belonging dissolves into being. I am reborn from the ashes of past failures and triumphs, stronger than I have ever been, independent of family and friends yet borne up by their love.

Now it's time to rejoin the rest of the galaxy. I can't wait to see my friends again-Serris, Prism, Dani, Octavia, Nik-Vie, Kylie, and everyone-and find out what they've been up to. I want to see Sam, and Jennifer, and find out how they've been adapting to life in the Light beyond the Household. Plus there're all those Jedi, from padawans to masters, who I've only really seen in classes and want to get to know better. It's going to be pretty crazy trying to catch up on a whole year in a couple of days; and from the ripples I've already sensed, it's been pretty crazy out there, too. And I think I have more people trying to kill me now than in the last seven years put together! But, somehow, I'll manage.

I'm stronger and more secure than I ever was before. I'll never forget the evil I've done; but I won't let the regret poison me, either. As the Sight showed me, I am of the Light now and always. I know there's still a lot of things I have to learn, like how to use my strength in the best way possible. But, somehow, I'll manage.

The Force is truly with me…at last.


P.S. As for Rachel Summers' vacations to Hell and back...that, as they say, is another story. ;-)

Go To:
Cantina Archives
Members Only Main Page
What's New Page