In an outdoor café in one of the town's better neighborhoods, Darien Lell sipped his beer and watched the plaza that was the natural center of Gaishar. A slow but constant stream of people walked though the plaza on the night's errands. There was nothing of any real interest; only the street musician. Yet the Force was definitely active tonight. He could feel small waves of both light and dark moving though it. His observations were interrupted by the arrival of the waitress bringing his dessert. She placed the pie in front of him with a bright smile for the young Jedi knight. Darien thanked her and idly watched her as she hurried to another table then turned his attention to the low platform that was erected in the middle of the plaza. On it, an attractive dark-haired young woman was sitting, playing a guitar and singing a Gaisheedan ballad. A hat lay on the ground in front of her. Passersby had dropped a few coins in the hat as he watched. Next to her sat a large shoulder bag, the kind students might carry their books in. Two things felt wrong about her. First, her clothes, though patched, looked like they had been expensive when new. And second, she was far too good to be singing in the streets. Darien scanned the area again. The Force continued to hum expectantly, but he could not perceive anything definite. And he had the feeling he was missing something. Something that was right in front of him. Frustrated, but trying not to draw attention to himself, he finished his pie. Two beings came up to the girl. One, a large and menacing Gamorrean, looked like muscle. The human was older, smaller and clearly the brains. She stopped playing, studied them for a moment, and, annoyed by the interruption, demanded to know what they wanted as she got to her feet. The Gamorrean leaned over her, trying to intimidate her. She stared him down. After a couple of minutes' quiet but intense conversation she tossed them some of the money from her hat, and they left. Her voice rose again in song. Darien continued to watch her as he finished his beer, then paid the waitress for his meal and walked over to the platform as she finished the melody. "Hello." She looked up from her playing with a smile. "Hi." "The street thugs giving you trouble?" "Nah, I can handle them." She set her guitar down and shifted position to face him. "I've survived much worse than those two. My name is Tarna." "I'm Darien. You can't be earning enough this way to afford to pay the local gangsters. Why aren't you on the stage? You're good enough." She laughed. "I have more than enough money to meet my needs. It's sweet of you to care though." Tarna stood up. "I'm not homeless, or anything like that." "How did you come to be on the street at all?" He asked. "I'm looking for something." "Looking for something?" he repeated. Her smile suddenly became sly. "Yes, Jedi, I'm looking for _you_." He felt the Force shift as a lightsaber jumped from her bag to her hand. Taken unawares, Darien reached for his own lightsaber, but before he could draw it to his hand, a stun bolt hit him from behind, and he blacked out. (to be continued) A GLIMMER OF LIGHT: The Summons by Bernadette Crumb (Timemark: Zoron 2001.06.04 morning) Kieren was on his knees, contentedly grubbing in the soil of a bed of blooming fireflowers, pulling weeds away from the sensitive plants when the summons came. *Kieren, come to my sitting room, please.* The eight year old sighed as he looked up towards the great house, seeing a maidservant hurrying down the path toward him. He brushed the mud ineffectually off of his hands, smearing the soil on his coverall as he scrambled to his feet and turned obediently to go inside with his escort. Just as she came to a halt next to him, he snapped a stem laden with a fiery orange-gold bloom free from the mother plant. "Her ladyship wants you! Hurry, we've got to get you cleaned up!" The girl grabbed him by the wrist and began to tow him toward the garden entrance. Clots of mud fell from Kieren's clothing and he held the blossom up and away from them. "Don't break the flower. It's for my mother," he protested as he moved along with her to his bedroom. A rushed five minutes later, looking only moderately messy, he was walking down the carpeted corridor toward Cassandra's sitting room. As he approached the richly decorated and carved door, he extended his senses as he'd been taught and was surprised to find a distinctly Lightside presence on the other side of the portal. He took a deep breath, and touched the lock plate, somehow knowing that his life was about to change. Kieren reined in his curiosity and apprehension, clutched the flower stem tighter and pushed the door open.
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