John Medkeff


Rebecca Miller

Mikala moved fluidly through the first steps of the kata. Her lightsaber hummed in her hands as she worked through her modified routine. She knew it was more gauged for working with a vibroblade, but it worked well with her lightsaber. She closed her eyes and reached out with her senses as her Grandmother had told her to, but it had never worked well for her, until lately. The Force had always seemed a bit muted until after she had been attacked. Now it was almost too loud sometimes.

"You're used to a solid blade, aren't you." The voice behind her spoke with a Corellian accent.

Mikala jumped and whirled, bringing the lightsaber to bear before she caught herself. She flushed. "Sorry."

A tall man with gray hair and beard sat on the rock. He wore a brown cloak. Mikala could see the tip of a lightsaber underneath the cloak. He clearly hadn't moved.

"Quite all right. Most Padawan's make that mistake, at first. It took a year to break you father of it."

She powered down her lightsaber and looked at him. "You're Koross, I mean, Lord Koross?"


She bit her lower lip. "Hello."

"Hello. I think its time we met."

Mikala clipped her lightsaber to her belt and then just stood there now sure what to do next.

"You may sit down." He suggested.

Mikala glanced around and spotted a bench not far away. She moved over there and sat down slowly.

"That's better." He studied her for a moment. "You don't have to stand on all the ceremony. Leave that on Coruscant."

"When did you get here?" she asked. "Father said you were on Coruscant."

"Last night. I managed to escape from the meetings two days ago. Fortunately Palpatine doesn't do meetings very much any more."

She nodded and struggled not to fidget. She glanced back to where she had been working out. "You asked if I were more used to a solid blade and I am. I just started really working with the lightsaber a few month ago."

"I see. You can always tell." He smiled. "I probably still have traces of the vibroblade myself. The Ladd does. The Lass's technique is pure lightsaber."

"I've done a little training with a vibroblade, but not much with a lightsaber, but vibroshivs are more my weapon of choice. I don't have one at the moment. Sandy, sort of, confiscated that."

"She did?" He gave her puzzled look. "It's not like the Lass to disarm her kittens."

Mikala sighed. "It was contaminated with a pretty deadly toxin."

"Oh. That would do it."

She shrugged.

"We'll have to get you a new one, but that's minor. "How are you adjusting to our little zoo here?"

"Trying," she said. "It's kind of overwhelming. I've never really had family before, let alone one that's...well, a family."

"Yes, I can see that might be a problem. Your siblings can be very competitive and supportive at the same time." He smiled. "I've put a lot of effort into that."

"They speak very well of you," she commented.

"Thank you. The grandfather in me finds that very satisfying." He explained. "The Sith Lord does as well, for different reasons."

She nodded and gave him a small smile.

"I imagine you have many questions. Perhaps not as many as for the Lad, but enough."

She paused. "Father said you might have known my Grandmother, Lesha Volaris. She had been a Jedi Padawan once."

He thought about the question. "I believe I met her once, long ago. It was just after your Great Grandfather brought me to the temple. I was fifteen and the newest of Padawans. She was about to walk out on the Jedi when I met her."

"How old was she?" she asked.

"I'm not sure. A little older than I was I'd say, sixteen to twenty." He answered. "We could check. I'm sure it's in the Jedi archives in the Palace."

She frowned. "That old?"

"Yes. I remember that there was a boy friend involved somehow."

She closed her eyes. "She lied." She shook her head. "Just one more thing she lied to me about."

"Your grand mother lied to you?" Koross asked. "Why?"

"I don't know," she said. "She told me the Jedi kicked her out when she as just a child, a small child. They turned her out to fend for herself on the streets of Coruscant."

"She was not a child, she was at the high end of being a teenager. That is all I know for sure about her case." He stopped and thought. "They might have been about to expel her. Do you want me to have the records brought from Coruscant?"

She paused and then nodded. "I'd like to know the real story there. I've believed her lies for so long. Let them influence my treatment of others."

"I will send for the records of her case. The Jedi archives were mostly captured intact when we seized the temple."

"Thank you," she said.

"Everyone should know the truth about their forbears." He pointed out.

"I've found that most of what I thought I knew about mine were lies."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I've always tried to be truthful with my descendants. What other lies were you told?"

"Well," she smiled bitterly. "My Mother told me Father was some poor farm kid from a backwater planet and that he was dead."

Koross laughed at that. "I plead guilty on the lie that he was dead. I made sure he was not traceable for several years. But poor farm boy? He was hardly that. And Torion is quite a valuable planet. Your other grandmother did a very good job of hiding right under my nose for twenty years."

Mikala nodded. "Torion seems like a very nice planet."

"It is. And it's a backwater the same way West Zorapolis is. Because its where important people keep their children."

She nodded. "Far cry from Ord Mandell."

"Very far if half of what the Ferret says about the place is true."


"One of my grand Padawans, Lady Polena Blaine, she was born there."

Mikala's face went totally expressionless. "Polena Blaine?"

"Yes, Polena Blaine, I call her the Ferret because she's quite fierce. The Lad found her on Ord Mandell. Every one else calls her Polly."

Mikala stood and shook her head. "She can't be."

"Who can't be what?"

"I knew a Polena," she said. "When I was a girl. She was taken away by a man who came to Ord Mandell. We called him the Dark Man. He was very powerful. I felt it when he came on world and I hid from him, like my Grandmother taught me to. I hid myself with the Force."

"Your father found the Ferret on Ord Mandell. She was living on the street, living by her wits and the Force. Of course she didn't know what it was. I gather she was the toughest person in town. The Lad was the first person to come along who was stronger."

Mikala nodded. "Polena was someone to keep away from. She and I had a couple of altercations but I could run faster than she could. I almost joined her gang, but things were too volatile with my Mother to do that."

He nodded. "She was all ready very good when she arrived here. Very unorthodox, but skilled. She was very surprised when her knife just stopped in mid air. But you should get that story from the Ferret herself."

"Father was the Dark Man?" she asked softly.

"The Dark Man?" He looked at her for a moment. "I guess that must be what they called him on the streets of Ord Mandell."

Mikala sighed deeply and sank to sit on the bench again. "So close."

Koross let her talk.

"I hid from him," she told him.

"You must have hidden well. The blood connection should have helped him find you. I doubt the Lass would have missed you."

She hugged herself tightly. "I always manage to mess things up."

"How old were you?" He asked.

"Twelve," she said softly. "That was just a few month before my Mother--" She took a deep breath. "Before my Mother tried to kill me."

"Before the adolescent power jump." He mused. "And the Lad was following some one who was in the middle of the power jump. That would explain how he missed you."

Mikala just shrugged.

"The Force has not been kind to you, up to now. We must see that that changes."

"I've gotten along," she said.

"Good for you. The Lad and his Mother managed to hide from me on Torion for 20 years, and I was actively looking for them."

"Why were you looking for them?"

"Maia was my Master's daughter. She vanished following the battle of Gairanis. And she was on the list of missing Jedi Palpatine particularly wanted caught. I knew that if I found her, I would be able to protect her. Palpatine wanted her turned, not dead. I owe Ryolin that."

"Why did he want her?" She asked.

"The Kais were an old and important Jedi line." Koross continued. "And Ryolin Kai helped create the Empire. That was not our intent, but it turned out to be the best we could do."

"Ryolin was the one that trained with Dooku, the Jedi that trained Qui-Gon Jinn?"

"Yes, Dooku taught Ryolin."

She sighed. "Father told me I should ask you about Jinn's Padawan, Xanatos DuCruet."

"Xanatos DuCruet? Yes, I knew him. What about him?"

She stood again and started to pace. "I was involved with him before I came here."

"Oh." His voiced softened. "I'm sorry to hear that. Is he still totally arrogant?"

She nodded. "Things ended...badly between us."

"No doubt still swearing vengeance on all Qui-Gon's family as well."

"So what happened between you, if I may ask?"

"He's still after Octavia Jinn or was." Mikala stopped her pacing and stood still. "DuCruet got himself captured by the Alliance and I worked with one of his men to try to free him and things went very badly. I was injured in a very poorly thought out scheme by his man. Alderson freed DuCruet and I was taking to Shardakour for 'healing'. Things just go worse from there. He proposed to me, but he already had another woman pregnant, so I left."

"So he's on Shardakour. I knew he'd been released from some kind of cryosleep. How are he and Tara getting along?" Neither is the type to let anyone else to be the boss."

"She's protecting him. Any more than that, I don't know," she said. "And I don't care."

"I see. Well that doesn't matter right now. I'm more concerned with who you are."

She looked at him. "What do you mean?"

He looked at her for a moment. "Speaking philosophically, the sum of your memories, desires, personality. All the things that make you, you, and not some one else."

Instantly, Mikala went on the defensive. "Not to seem disrespectful, but why?"

"I don't mean to pry. That's just a fancy way of saying I'm here to get to know you." He answered.

70 years as a Jedi have given me some odd habits of speech.

She tried to give him a polite smile, but didn't quite make it.

He watched her reaction. Then he reached out with his mind to touch hers. He found her mind echoed with pain, both mental and emotional, confusion. Hate swirled directed at Xanatos and the woman who had attacked her and in a lesser degree toward the Jedi, but her hate for the Jedi was waning, confusion taking its place. The presence of Darien on Zoron raising more questions than it answered for her. Anger filled her directed at her Grandmother and Mother for lying to her about the Jedi and about Taras. As her thoughts turned to Taras fear filled her at the thought of being rejected by he and the others.

Mikala's eyes snapped open and locked with his, panic rising in her as she realized what was happening.

He watched her instinctively gather the Force and begin to throw it blindly. With a wave of his hand he dispersed the power she had assembled. "Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you."

She clutched her head, tears spilling down her cheeks. "Get out of my head!" she screamed at him in terror.

He withdrew. "Sorry. Bad habit, acquired when the Lass was young."

Mikala sank the bench again, shaking badly. "Just don't hurt me," she pleaded, squeezed her eyes shut and drawing in on herself.

"I see. Its always best if ones first experience of telepathy is friendly."

She slowly opened her eyes and watched him fearfully. "Mine wasn't."

"I can see that." He studied her. "Your father was lucky in that regard. I believe his first was an invitation form the Lass. But what happened to you?"

"A woman attacked me. I didn't realize what was happening until she was there and the pain was unbearable."

"Quite possible. The mind can be a weapon." He paused. "Do you know who it was?"

"I do now," she said. "I had thought she was a Jedi, but she is not."

"No, probably not. They don't like that technique." He observed.

She sighed deeply. "It doesn't matter. She is out of my reach now."

"And you are out of hers."

She shivered a little. "Am I? She didn't need to be anywhere near me to attack me before."

"What is her name? I doubt there is any one I am unaware of who is strong enough to risk striking here with the Force. Not while Baric, Aulin or I am here."

"Sharra N'Aquivar," she said softly.

"I don't know the name." He closed his eyes for a moment. "No, I don't feel her presence in the Force, as I would Dmed or Skywalker, and as they would feel mine."

She sighed and nodded.

"There you are, Ross." An aristocratic sounding woman's voice came from behind him. A moment later a tall woman in late middle age stepped out of the trees and into the garden.

Mikala stood to her feet, brushing her tears away guiltily.

"I hope he's not being too overbearing, dear."

"No, ma'am," she said quietly, looking for all the world as if she wanted to disappear into the bushes behind her.

The woman went and sat down next to Koross, who put an arm around her.

Mikala stood there, not sure what she was supposed to do now.

"This is Tami, my wife." Koross introduced the newcomer.

Mikala gave her a polite bow.

"Welcome to Zoron, my dear."

"Thank you," she said, eyeing Koross a bit dubiously.

"Have you been frightening the girl?" Tami asked her husband. Then she turned to Mikala. "I sometimes have to remind my whole brood that most of the universe is afraid of the Force. But don't you be."

"I'm not afraid of the Force," Mikala said a bit defensively.

"Have you begun to meet your siblings yet?" Tami asked.

She nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"And you don't have to be formal." Tami added.

"Yes, Lady Mathem," she said softly.

"Being formal with Tami takes too long anyway." Koross added. "You really have to say your highness. She's Princess Tamara of Zeilar. Stick to Tami."

"If you wish," she said a bit uncomfortably.

"Relax, Mikala, don't let us overawe you." Tami continued.

The young woman flushed.

"Why don't you tell us about your hobbies." Tami asked.

"Hobbies?" she said sounding a bit confused. "I really don't have any hobbies. I'm usually too busy for things like that."

"Then its time you learned to relax."

She folded her arms across her chest. "I'm trying to," she said truthfully. "I've never really had the opportunity to before."

"Good. I won't having any of my grand children not knowing how to play."

Mikala looked at her and smiled a little.

Mikala glanced back over at Koross. "I'm sorry for reacting so badly before. I haven't had the control over my reactions I've wished. I'm working on that."

"No one does when they start. You should have been given training years ago." Koross replied.

"My Mother didn't believe in the Force."

"No, many do not today. That is a sad loss." He answered.

"She did it out of spite for my Grandmother."

"Right. You told me about her."

Mikala shrugged. "That's the past."

"Yes it is. And its time for you to move on." Koross agreed. "Let's look to the future."

She nodded. "I've been doing a lot of thinking about the future. I think part of my future is here," she said, looking squarely in the eyes for the first time. "I've never really taken sides on thing before, politically or otherwise."

"No, I would not have in your place either." Koross said.

"It didn't pay. I needed to be neutral in my line of work, but things have changed." She smiled a little. "Obviously."

"Yes, they have changed." Koross replied.

"You were an orphan, now you have a home, with us."

"So that begs the question, now what?"

"First you rest and recover from what the universe has done to you, and find your place in the family. Then we will teach you how to use the Force." Koross suggested.

"That takes us as far into the future as we can meaningful see at the moment."

She nodded slowly and then paused. "Why did you go into my mind?"

Tami gave Koross an annoyed look.

"Several reasons." He laughed. "One was to get a feel for your strength and skill. Second it is a faster way to communicate, especially feelings and images than speech. Finally it's a bad habit I got into when the Lass was learning to talk and walk. She always tried to talk too fast and say to much at once."

Mikala face was unreadable as she asked. "What did you find?"

"Much strength but little skill. I saw the faces of several people, all of them presumably important to you. For some I saw hate, for others hope, in one case ambiguity." Koross answered.

Mikala wrapped her arms tightly around herself and nodded slowly. "I'd like to stay here," she said softly.

"Of course, you may." Tami reassured her. "Stay as long as you wish, come and go."

The young woman gave her a small smile. "Thank you." She hesitated. "Everyone has been so kind to me since I got here. Not at all what I've ever heard about the Sith."

Koross smiled at that. "What everyone hears about the Sith was true a thousand years ago, when the Sith last challenged the Jedi. Back then they were all too busy challenging each other for dominance that they had little time for the Jedi."

"The Sith and Jedi figured a lot in the bedtime stories I had as a small child."

"We modern Sith have little connection to the those Sith and even less to the original Sith of 5000 years ago. Palpatine claims to be the last in a chain of master and apprentice that leads back to that time. Most of us today, myself included were trained in the Jedi tradition."

Mikala regarded him and then nodded. "I guess would include me, sort of. I'm by no means a Jedi, but what little I do know is from what I learned from my Grandmother and she was training to be a Jedi."

"Yes, that includes you, and everyone here." He agreed.

"Father has offered to train me."

"I know. You will have several teachers here. We all have we are better at some things than the others are. But those are details."

She nodded. "For the first time in my life, I really want to learn about the Force. I need to know how to control this inside me."

"Over the next year we should be able to do that."

"Thank you."

"Then we will start on really teaching you.

"There will have to be little hold on that. Sandy's got some plans for me for a while."

"Hi." Lin stepped out of the trees and jumped up on the rock behind Koross and Tami. "Come on, Grandfather, Grandmother, Mikala. Aunt Sandy says to come in for dinner."

Lin hugged Koross and Tami who then stood up to follow her.

Mikala stepped in behind them to follow them.

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