To Meet Again...For the First Time
Darien found the park easily enough. It was only a half a mile from the spaceport. He parked the speeder at the edge and walked in.
He walked slowly, enjoying the fresh air after two days on shipboard. He found Alidar almost at once.
"Hello, Master D'Med? I am Knight Darien Lell."
Alidar rose and bowed. "Knight Lell. It is an honor to meet you.
"And a honor to meet you. If I may ask are you related to Master Alida D'Med?"
"I am. I am her brother."
Darien nodded. "I know your sister well. But I must ask you if you are sure what you're getting into here?"
"I must admit that I know nothing beyond that I am to meet the young lady who made herself known to me as Mikala. Is there something else I should be aware of?"
"When you met Mikala and me on the astral plane you must have noticed the Darkness in the four teenagers who also came to her assistance."
"I did. Are you implying that there is a danger to me that I am not aware of?"
"No, not danger. But I think you should know who our hosts will be. Mikala's father is Lord Taras Steele. You have his word that you will be safe on Zoron. I have found that his word can be trusted. But he is a Sithlord, as are most of the family."
"I thank you for your concern for my safety Knight Lell. But I am aware of Lord Steele and his invitation."
"Good. Do you have any questions for me?"
"What takes you to the Steele household?"
"Now that is a story. One of Mikala's younger brothers, Kieren is a Lightsider. He is quite untouched by the darkness that surrounds him. Darien laughed. A year ago his mother decided he needed a lightside teacher. So she had his aunt kidnap me. I have come and gone a couple times since then."
"Shall we move the ship? I am certain we will have time to speak in transit."
"Yes. The speeder is this way." Darien turned and started toward the road.
Alidar followed. "So you choose to stay with them now?"
"I come and go. I prefer not to leave a ten year old completely surrounded by darkness, even if its Darkness that loves him."
Alidar nods. So then we go for similar reasons.
There were three teenage boys admiring the speeder.
Darien climbed into the drivers seat. Alidar got in after him.
"Mikala is waiting at the ship. She's had surgery recently and I promised Sandy I wouldn't let her exert herself."
"Surgery? Yes, she mentioned that. How is she?"
"Better, but she keeps trying to do too much, too soon. With her are her Aunt Tal and Tal's friend Polly. They are the ones who kidnapped me."
Alidar smiled. "Ironic."
"Yes, but very in character for them. You'll find that the Steeles are a very strange family."
"What is strange to one depends upon ones perspective. It may not be to others."
"True. They take it all in stride." Darien agreed.
"It would not serve me well to enter into this meeting with anything less than an open mind."
"You will find one thing familiar, they have been trained in a mildly Dark version of Jedi tradition. Darien explained.
"Mildly dark?" Alidar inquired
"Yes. I know it sounds strange but that's the best way I know to describe them." Darien continued.
"I suppose I will see for myself in time."
"Yes, you will. Darien smiled. Anything else?"
"Yes, when we arrive at the ship I will be met by my companion. She follows even now."
"Ah, the eagle who was with you on the astral plane?" Darien nodded.
"A Force sensitive bird. Lonnie will be very interested."
"I must say, Imari is not often fond of strangers...but we shall see." Alidar answered.
"Lonnie gets along with most animals. You met his leopard in the astral plane."
"I have been known to have a way with them as well."
"I'm better with plants myself." Darien pointed out.
"We all have our gifts."
"Yes, we all do."
"Tell me. How do you know my sister so well?"
"When I returned from Zoron the first time she arrived soon after, also coming from a stay on Zoron. We spent sometime comparing notes about the place."
"I see. I have only recently met her myself. We did not know of each other's existence for many years."
"Then you have something in common with Mikala. She and her father have only in the last month found out that each other exist." Darien observed.
I have spoken to her about the matter on the Astral Plane. She has been quite a confused young woman." Alidar replied.
"That she has. Darien nodded. She was very dark when she arrived. Lately, I have felt that Darkness recede."
"I encountered her once in the past when she was yet with Xanatos. I too have felt her darkness and now its recession."
Darien nodded again. "Xanatos has I think been much on her mind. They had a falling out. Hell has no fury."
"It is a matter of shifting her focus. Rather than revenge she should focus on her new family and healing." Alidar suggested.
"She has done so. And they are a real family, something she's never had before. Once she arrived she began to relax." Darien laughed. "She still doesn't quite believe its real."
"She will in time. She does not believe I am real come to think on it." Alidar pointed out.
"No, she may not. She didn't know she was on the astral plane when you talked to her, or even that it existed. She is the oldest of the Steele children, but the least trained in the Force."
"If she had not wandered onto it, I would not have had a chance to speak with her."
"True. It was only after we rescued her from the astral that we realized she'd been going astral."
"All in all she is on the road to recovery Force willing. And that is what matters." Alidar said.
"I hope so. She keeps trying to rush things. A trait that seems to run in her family." Darien replied.
They approached the star port. Please slow down a bit? Alidar asked.
Darien slowed the speeder.
Alidar held his hand out for Imari and she landed on it. "Thank you."
Darien drove into the spaceport and out to a row of parked ships. He pulled up to one and stopped. "This is it." Darien climbed out of the speeder.
A crewman approached.
Alidar climbed out as well
"Mikala awaits us in the common room." Darien led the way up the ramp. The crewman climbed in and drove the speeder around the ship. Alidar transferred Imari to his shoulder then followed behind Darien. The ramp led into a large room furnished more like a country home than a ship.
Mikala was stiffly pacing in the common room, but stopped when they entered.
Alidar looked about him at his surroundings until he saw Mikala. Then he bowed to her.
Mikala gave him a small, but very stiff bow. "Master Alidar, I presume."
"I am he. And there is no mistaking the beauty I have come to know as Mikala." He smiled "This is Imari."
She smiled a little at the bird. "She's beautiful."
"Mikala, I think you should sit down. It looks like you're stiffening." Darien interrupted.
She glanced over at him. "I don't think I could get back up if I sit down."
As if on cue Imari straightened up on her perch on Alidar's shoulder trying to look more imperious. "Please do as is most comfortable for you."
Mikala reached out a hand to Darien to help her sit down.
Darien lowered her onto the couch. Then he sat next to her.
"Do sit down, Master D'med."
Mikala's face twisted in discomfort until she got settled. She squeezed Darien's hand. "Thank you."
Alidar found a seat and quietly sat down.
Polly stuck her head in from the cockpit. "The speeder is loaded. So we're going to take off now."
"How was your trip out, Master Alidar?" Mikala asked.
"It was uneventful. Though I believe the food could use improvement."
She smiled a little. "That we can fix. Are you hungry?"
"No thank you. I am afraid it did not agree with me."
Mikala's smile faded. "Are you alright?"
"I am certain it is nothing. I should be fine with a little rest and some tea."
She nodded and started to get up, but froze and squeezed her eyes shut a moment. She slowly sat back. "Darien, maybe you could get that for him."
"Please Mikala, I have no doubt you are a wonderful hostess but there is no need for you to bring me anything given your discomfort."
"Of course." He stood up, went to the bar and put some water on to boil.
They felt the ship take off.
Mikala gave him a small forced smile. "My back still isn't quite up to par yet, but it's getting there."
"I am certain you are in excellent care and will recover soon." Alidar assured her.
She nodded. "They're keeping a close eye on me. The first time I guess we spoke was when I was in bacta."
"It is easy to allow your mind to wander in conditions such as a bacta tank."
"I don't like small places," she said. "I started to wake up and panicked and next thing I knew I was in Kieren's garden."
"I look forward to seeing the real garden you drew your inspiration from."
"It's a very peaceful place," she said. "I go there when I need to think."
The water started to boil and Darien began to make the tea.
"I was surprised to hear that you had come to pick me up. Why did you come if you are in such discomfort?" Alidar asked.
She glanced away and then back at him. "I wanted to see if you were really real," she said softly.
"I am not what you expected?"
"You seem just as you appeared," she said.
"I present myself as I am...yet you told me of the reputation I had been given?"
She flushed a little. "My grandmother's stories." She stopped. "Did you really know her? Lesha Volaris?"
"I did indeed know her."
"What was she like?" she asked, settling back.
Darien returned bearing a tray with a pot and three cups.
Mikala accepted one of the cups with a smiled. "Thank you," she whispered to him.
Alidar nodded to him "Thank you. He turned to Mikala. I knew her until she left the order."
Ill leave you two to talk. Darien left, headed for his room.
"She said they threw her out when she was eight."
"She chose her path. I tried to help her. But my efforts went awry I think." He paused. As I remember she was eighteen years of age not eight as she may have told you."
Mikala sighed and sipped her tea. "Just one more lie she told me."
"She was a very bright young lady. Quick mind, strong with the force. I regret that she chose to leave us."
"What happened?" Mikala asked. "She would never told me when I was little, just that she and the Jedi disagreed about something and they threw her out because she wouldn't see things their way."
"There was a man she began to consort with. One she later left with."
"I am sorry. I do not mean to cause you distress."
She shook her head. "Go on, please."
"What else do you wish to know?"
"Were you two close? Friends I mean."
"We were once friends. I am afraid she began to think I was against her as she began to change."
Mikala sighed. "That seems to be the way it goes."
She looked over at Alidar. "It's hard to see your problems when you think you are in control."
"I wish it could have been different." He said.
She looked away and nodded. She stared at her teacup for a long while. Finally, she looked back over at him. "I wish how we first met had been different as well.
"I was not sure you recalled it."
You were the other Jedi who came for Knight Daroa and Padawan Larose with Master D'med and Student Jinn, weren't you?"
"Yes. I interceded between you and Alida."
Mikala bit her lip. "I'm sorry. I had so much anger at the Jedi from what my Grandmother had told me and what Xanatos had told me that I--" she sighed. "I'm sorry."
"We all have things we regret doing or not doing in our pasts. It can never be undone but we learn from our mistakes."
"I should have never let those things happen to those kids. I should have never done those things to them."
"Mikala, what do you plan to do now?"
She sighed and closed her eyes. "I don't know. I honestly don't know."
Perhaps something that will help you with your feelings on your past actions? Alidar suggested.
"I'm just now leaning a little control. Father has been teaching me, as has Darien. He's been helping me meditate."
"That will help I am sure. Alidar continued. "Have you considered speaking with the girls?"
Mikala's eyes snapped up to stare at him. "They wouldnt want to talk with me and anyway, Daroa's in Imperial custody right now."
Alidar nods. "That is what I understand"
She sighed. "I--" She moved to get up.
Alidar moved to help her and offered his hand.
She paused and then took the offered hand, letting him help her to her feet.
Mikala sighed deeply once she was on her feet. "Thank you. I don't do up and down very well yet. I'm afraid I need to lie down for a while. I tire very easily right now."
"I will benefit from some rest also."
She nodded. "I can see you to your quarters if you wish." She looked around for Darien and then sighed. "Polly must still have him."
"If it will not tax you."
She gave him a small smile. "It's on my way."
They walked toward the staterooms.
Mikala held his arm used it to steady herself. The farther they went the less steady she became.
She stopped outside a door. "This is your quarters, Master Alidar."
"Very well. Now let us get you to yours."
She gave him a small smile. "Thank you. I'm just very tired right now."
"We all need someone to lean on now and again."
She stopped and then nodded. "I'm learning now to do that," she said softly.
"I think you have learned already."
She squeezed his arm. "Thank you."
He will feel pretty warm to her
She frowned. "Are you alright?" she asked, moving to rest her hand on his forehead.
Imari watched as she reaches for him but Alidar stroked her head. "I confess it is a bit warm. It is probably the robe."
"You feel a bit feverish," Mikala said, closing her eyes a moment. She let out a sigh of frustration. "I'm no good with using the Force to sense things like that, but Sandy sent a medic with us to keep an eye on me. I'd like him to check you over."
"That is kind of you. Do not worry about me. I have had slight colds before."
Mikala smiled at him. "Sandy would kill me if I let you come to Zoron sick."
"We shall see if perhaps he had time."
"I'll get him to stop by your quarters later."
He inclines his head. "As you wish."
She smiled. "I think we should go rest now," she said.
She opened the door to her room. Good night, Master Dmed.
Good night, Mikala. Alidar turned away and went back to the room she indicated.
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