Buried Deep, Scattered Wide 9

I sipped at the cold juice she had given me and listened as she began to talk.

“Your mother was a woman named Akali L’uanna, she was a Jedi and she was my best friend.” She said.

I watched as she tried to gather her thoughts. I could feel how hard this was for her but I didn’t know what to think or say. I just stared at her and waited. Her words were not sinking in.

“Your mother and I had known each other since childhood. My family worked at the Jedi temple as part of the civilian work force and she and I became friends. It was not encouraged, these friendships but they happened anyway. I cannot count the number of times she was there for me. So when she showed up here one day, pregnant, scared to death with no place else to turn I was glad to have a chance to repay her for all she had done for me.” She paused with a long sigh. “She would not say who the father of her child was even though I had asked. She was confused and conflicted. The Jedi were not supposed to have relationships other than purely platonic. They were certainly not supposed to have children. She wouldn’t tell me what had happened but she was terrified and that frightened me because of all the people I had ever met in my life she was the one person I thought to be fearless.”

“We had lost touch after I married and left Coruscant to come here. I suppose that was normal. She was a Jedi with great responsibilities and we had drifted apart. I had tried to write to her a few times but never heard back. So, I was surprised to see her at my door step looking like death warmed up. She spoke about the war, what the history books call the Clone wars, and how terrible things had become. She had been involved in the Outer Rim disputes but she wouldn’t speak of what had happened. Only that she had not imagined things could get so bad. She told me that I was lucky I had moved so far away, that on Coruscant the world had turned upside down. When she had discovered she was pregnant she thought only about the safety of her baby. She would not speak about who fathered you.”

“She had just left her duties, her work behind. She said that you were all that mattered. I think she did not know how to deal with the guilt she felt between her need and love for you and her duty to the Jedi Order. She had been on the run for some time and it had taken its toll. She was not in good shape by the time she came to me and when you came into this world it was a little earlier than you should have. You were born here, in this house. She named you after her favourite flower from her home planet of Naboo.” She said with a sad smile. “Her labour was really long and hard and I thought she was going to die in the process. What did I know about birth or helping with the process? I was no doctor and she refused outside help. She didn’t want anyone to know she was here or that you existed. When you were born it was a small miracle really, I wished that my husband were still alive to share it, we could not have our own children and he had died of Tourning’s syndrome some years prior.”

“She stayed with me for a week and after a long discussion she decided to return to her duties and help fight out the war. I told her you would be safe here with me and that I would love you as though you were my very own. You were here for almost a year. Such a good baby, an amazing baby really. You hardly ever cried and you always seemed content. It never occurred to me that you would be in any real danger, after all no one had known she was with child. When she returned almost a year later, I knew from the look in her eyes that something terrible had happened.”

“She told me that her absence had raised questions and that there had been rumours about her and her relationship with the man who fathered you. She didn’t think they knew she had borne a child but she was scared that even a whisper of such a thing could some how get back to me, we had been friends and that was a known fact. Finding me was not so hard. She said it wasn’t safe any more for you to be with me, or for me to have you here. We argued a lot about what to do. I wanted you both here. No one would come here looking for a single Jedi, or so I had thought but she told me I didn’t understand. The Jedi were being hunted like animals, slaughtered on sight, that there were bounties on their heads. She had said that the newly declared Emperor had decreed this but she didn’t know why. She had tried to return to Coruscant but a beacon had warned her away, while she was on the run she had heard snippets of news reports and whispers of terrible things that were being done to hunt the renegade Jedi down and kill them. These people are ruthless, she had said. It was as if the entire galaxy had gone mad and been turned inside out. She believed that they would find her and if they even suspected a child they would hunt for that child as well. If they found you, she said, they would kill you and they would not even blink. She knew that you were force sensitive. She said she could feel it in you and that if she could so could others. She wanted you as far away as possible for anything that connected her with you. I disagreed with her but in the end she was your mother. She was special, she was a Jedi, she knew things, could do things I could not even dream of.”

“One night, while I was asleep she took you and left, I never knew where. There was no note, no letter of explanation nothing. I suppose she felt that if I really knew nothing then I could say nothing. Two months later a letter, along with a sealed box, was delivered. The letter said that you were safe. She had found good people who would care for you, give you a good home far away from the Empire, and that there were no connections to tie you to her or me in any way. She had written that I was not to be sad, that I would meet you one day here in Mos Espa and I would know you by your looks. That when I did find you I was to ask about a journal only you could read but she never said why.” She drew a deep breath and sipped her juice. “I didn’t understand any of this but one of her gifts was that she sometimes saw into the future and I assumed that she had seen this. All these years I have carried this story around in me and now here you are.”

I sat there feeling as though I had just been punched in the gut. I was trembling. It was all incredibly surreal. There were so many things I wanted to ask and just could not. I had lost the ability of coherent thought. I was grateful when the front door open loudly and uncle Vahlek strode into the kitchen. I didn’t have to see his face to know he was furious.

“I told you he would find you.” Rikka said in a resigned voice. “He always finds those that he seeks.”

“Quiet, woman!” He snarled.

I looked up at him, our eyes met and his anger immediately turned to worry. “Lei’lei what is it, are you hurt?” he asked coming to squat down beside my chair.

I just stared at him and then said in a voice I didn’t recognize as mine. “I was born in this house.”

There was moment of perfect stillness in the room and then uncle Vahlek stood up. He looked at Rikka who nodded.

“Tell him.” I whispered to her. “Tell him everything you just told me.”

And she did. Uncle Vahlek stood very still as her story unfolded a second time, less scattered, more coherent. When she was done she left the room without saying a word. He pulled a chair over and sat next to me. I pushed the holo-image Rikka had given me over to him before he could say anything and watched his face when he looked at it. He let the air out of his lungs slowly.

“You said you knew some of the Jedi, did you know her?” I asked.

“No lei’lei I didn’t.” he spoke gently, he spoke the truth. “Sarlacc’s teeth, the resemblance is uncanny.”

Rikka came back into the room holding a plain metal box. She set it on the table and pushed it to me. “She wanted you to have this. It was sealed, I never opened it.”

I glanced at uncle Vahlek and then gingerly touched the box. Nothing happened so I broke the seal and opened it. I heard uncle Vahlek make a small sound of surprise and Rikka covered her mouth with her hand. Lying on a folded piece of cloth was something I had only ever seen when I was in the presence of Lord Vader.

“Her lightsaber.” Rikka said in a voice that was filled with sorrow. “She would not have given that up if she thought she would live.”

I bit my lip and uncle Vahlek looked at me. “You do not have to if you do not want to.” He said quietly.

“Yes, yes I do.” I told him. “Because if I don’t do it now, I never will.”

He nodded but he wasn’t happy and he shifted a little closer to me as though his physical presence would shield me from the hurt he knew was coming. I reached over and picked up the lightsaber knowing that what would hit me would be terrible. All my life this one gift had made itself known in strange and often unassuming ways, building up slowly and quietly. In the last week I had had more visions and they had been more powerful than for most of my life and suddenly I understood why, to prepare me for this exact moment. All the training I had undergone at the hand of Lord Vader and Master Kjestyll had readied me for this because it would be one of the most difficult things I would ever have to see. I was not wrong. I took a deep steadying breath, looked at uncle Vahlek who nodded and then grasped the blade’s handle firmly. I jerked back hard as the images assaulted me. I heard Rikka move and uncle Vahlek stopped her.

“No, don’t touch her.” He ordered, holding his arm out straight shielding me from her interference.

I gasped as the visions from this object tumbled about me. It was physically painful. There were so many memories, so much information that it was too much to take in and understand all at once. Her life as a Jedi, the things she had done and known, the man who had fathered me, the war, even her own death were all tied up in this weapon that had been a part of her very being. It was as though I was being shown a holo story on fast forward with burning, powerful emotions embedded into it. I was numb when the visions finished. Her lightsaber had been a part of her, it held her soul and I never wanted to touch it again. It rolled from my open hand as I let it go. Uncle Vahlek caught it before it fell off the table and laid it gingerly back in the box.

The room was utterly still. I looked at uncle Vahlek. “Zte’sa, I want to go home now.” I whispered. With his help, I got up slowly; it was like moving through water.

Rikka watched me. “She loved you so much and so did I.” She murmured.

I just looked at her. I didn’t know what else to say. Uncle Vahlek gathered up the box with the lightsaber in it and tucked it carefully in his bag.

“Will I ever see you again?” she asked. There was such a sadness in her voice I thought it would break my heart.

I had no idea how to answer her and I didn’t have to because uncle Vahlek spoke first.

“You did what you were meant to.” He said, his voice was firm but also gentle. “Give her time, Rikka Blane. When your paths are meant to cross again they will.”

She regarded him coldly. “And what is your part to play in all of this, Tze’yusha’Jin?” she asked. I had never heard the word she called him before. I did not know its meaning but there was anger behind it and fear.

He just gave her a cold stare. “I am the girl’s sworn guardian. You know what that means.” He said almost angrily. “Be at peace.”

She was very afraid of uncle Vahlek but I had no idea why. He waited until she gave him a small nod. She watched as he tucked a protective arm around my shoulders and didn’t say anything else. As we left there were tears in her eyes.

I could not recall the walk to the shuttle port or the flight back to Mos Eisley. I just kept replaying the images of my mother over and over again in my head. Her life, her lover, her death, I couldn’t shut them out. Uncle Vahlek kept silent. It was dark by the time we reached home and I was utterly exhausted.

We walked in the house and immediately everyone knew something was wrong. I just shook my head. How could I even begin to speak of what had happened? I needed to escape, to be some place quiet to think. Without saying a word I left the kitchen were we all stood and made my way up to the rooftop. As I walked away I heard uncle Vahlek start to explain what had happened and felt the stunned shock that fell on the room.

I sat with my back against the domed roof and stared at the stars in the sky wondering how such a large and beautiful universe could be so twisted and cruel. I could not cry. I wasn’t even angry. I felt strangely empty. Everything I had known in my life was being systematically turned upside down. All the things I had believed in no longer held sway or meaning. Questions I had never thought to ask before now screamed at me in my head. I was an illegitimate child born of a soldier and a Jedi in the midst of a war, hidden away from the very people I ended up working with and for. It was somehow not even a surprise but I couldn’t quite digest it. Had the Emperor known this? Had he guessed? What about Lord Vader, he had been trained as a Jedi once, Palpatine had told me. Had he known my mother? Had he been among those who had hunted for her? Nothing happens by chance, the Dantassi said, there are no coincidences. I wonder what they had to say about being driven mad by it all.

It was my father who eventually came to make sure I had not jumped off the roof. He handed me a glass of moonglow and I sipped at it gratefully. For a very long time nothing was said, he was waiting for me to break the silence.

“Who am I, papa?” I asked.

I felt him smile and he ruffled my hair in a way he had not done since I was very small. “You are my beautiful, talented, wilful, mysterious daughter.” He said. It was the perfect answer, perhaps the only answer. He waited a few moments then said. “Come back downstairs, everyone is worried. Dinner is waiting and so is your family.”

I smiled at him and let him pull me to my feet. He cuddled me close. “No matter what,” he whispered in my ear, “I love you, I love you more than anything in the galaxy and nothing will ever change that.”

“I love you too, papa.” And I meant it.

He nodded, “I know that, pet.” He said and we went back downstairs into the house where the others were waiting.

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