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Hunters of the Dark Side (Part 11)


Chapter Thirty-One

 

Miss’Ouri had been training Sam religiously; dawn to dusk every day, and Sam was getting stronger, more relaxed, more in control, calmer than Dean had seen him in years. But Dean was going restless. He had poured over every piece of research they had on the so-called Lost Prophecy, checking and re-checking the translations, remote searching archives and libraries, looking for any clue he could find.  He did manage to find two sources that mentioned a Force Rune or Rune of the Light, but neither was particularly helpful.

 

The first was a myth in ancient Neti—the language of the original inhabitants of Myrkr, but considering he didn’t read Neti, and it was almost a dead language, he wasn’t having much luck. The second was a dialect of the native Vratix language from Thyferra, but again, Dean didn’t really understand it. He set the two sources aside to give to Sam later, in hopes his brother might know more about the obscure languages.

 

It seemed that the more research Dean did, the more frustrated he got.  Sam was learning to use the Force; he was learning how much of a help he was not.

 

On their third morning on Dantooine, Miss’Ouri approached Dean in his and Sam’s bedroom while Sam was eating breakfast. “Dean, can I talk to you for a minute?” She asked.

 

“Sure,” he sighed in frustration, figuring he was about to get chewed out; his tense, frustrated mood was probably spilling over and interfering with Sam’s training…

 

“Dean, I’m not upset with you,” Miss’Ouri said with a smile. “I just have a suggestion. Something you can do, somewhere you can go that’s not just research. I think it will do you a lot of good, and maybe find some answers.”

 

“What?” he said, eager. There had to be some catch, if there was something that profitable that he could do…

 

“I think you should visit your old home, Dean,” Miss’Ouri said softly.

 

There would have to be a catch, or Miss’Ouri would have already suggested it. “No, Miss’Ouri, I don’t want to go back there. I swore myself I never would—” he could feel the panic rising in his throat.

 

Miss’Ouri reached out and grasped his hand, squeezing it tightly. Immediately, Dean felt a sense of calm wash over him, chasing away the panic. “Dean, I knew you as a boy, and I knew your mother, and I know you never really had a chance to heal after she died. You know she was a Jedi.” It wasn’t a question. “I think she may have left something behind for you.”

 

Dean caught Miss’Ouri’s eye, his expression incredulous. How could that be?

 

“Just trust me, Dean, you need to do this,” Miss’Ouri said with a reassuring pat on his good shoulder.

 

Which was why Dean found himself outside on a fine Spring day, heading towards a place to which he swore he’d never return.

 

The tall waiving grasses and steep arching bluffs of Dantooine stretched out around Dean in all directions. Trees dotted the landscape, their meandering roots and broad, gnarled trunks a testament to their age. A cool breeze ruffled the countryside bringing with it the scents of tilled earth, fresh-cut grasses, and wildflowers, while the babbling of nearby streams and the happy calls of songbirds soothed his ears. It was all the hallmarks of home—well all but Mom—and everything he’d done his best to avoid and ignore since she’d died. The call and feel of a home that could never be reached again, leaving Dean an orphan of space.

 

And yet, here he was, strolling down the ill-used road that skirted the edge of town, ringing the settlement of mostly farmers and small business owners—everything needed to keep the place running—separating low, sprawling homes from the wild, untamed grasslands where kath hounds roamed and the beautifully graceful Iriaz with their long, delicate, curving, pointed horns and sprint-fast gate could be found grazing, hoping to avoid kath hound and hunter alike.

 

Dean had forgotten how far out they’d lived, probably because he spent as much time at Dad’s repair shop or Mom’s droid shop as he could. He felt a warm surge of love and nostalgia at the thought of sitting on Mom’s counter, learning how to repair astromech droids, and how to craft new programs and install new circuits and chips and … he just wanted to bask in it, feel the memory soaking into his skin like the sun in the clear green-blue sky. Just the joy and happiness and love, not the tearing, burning, ripping, crushing, empty void of everything that came after. He struggled, holding it back, trying just to feel home.

 

At twenty-six years old, Dean understood for the first time that he had never really healed after his mother’s death. Never had the option—it had all be torn away so fast and then he’d just been thrust into the role of an adult before he’d even turned five. Now he knew what—who—to blame and the realization that it had all be pre-ordained by some fucking prophecy from five thousand years ago, and maybe nothing anyone had ever done or could do would have made a difference… and Sammy was Force-sensitive, and his mother was a Jedi, and Dad was missing, and… and…

 

Dean stopped and took a deep breath, surprised to hear a rumble of thunder overhead, a solitary storm cloud—cumulonimbus, his memory provided, recalling Sammy’s childhood joy at learning the names of things like clouds and birds and repeating them out loud whenever he saw them—lightning stretching out from it in tangled, zigzagging patterns. It seemed to match his mood; looming out of no where, spoiling pastoral joy and bliss, big fat drops of rain falling on his shoulders at the same time the tears rolled from his eyes down his cheeks. It was too much, too much, all of it. And Dantooine was so much the same—unchanged by the passage of time, just like it had been for thousands of years, always a haven for those looking to escape faster paced life, or just escape, especially Jedi.

 

Dean wiped his eyes dry as the rain stopped and the cloud began to blow away, disappearing as quickly as it had come. Dean looked up and out again and realized his dark musings had taken him all the way to their old house, or rather the empty spot where it once stood. He’d often wondered if someone had rebuilt it, no calling it their home. Miss’Ouri said that some dark acts left marks, scars in the Force, and apparently, this was one of them. 

 

The foundation was still there covered over for safety , but otherwise it was just a grassy patch next to another moderate-sized, non-farming house with a reasonable-sized yard backed up against a tall bluff.

 

“You look just like her,” a woman’s voice said quietly, her words snapping Dean from his reverie.

 

“Excuse me?” Dean asked, uncertainly, turning towards the sound of the voice.

 

“Sorry, didn’t mean to say that aloud,” she said with an embarrassed smile, blush breaking across her cheeks. She was tall, thin, and strawberry blond, maybe five years older than Dean, wearing a loosely flowing tunic and pants, which were blowing around her ankles in the breeze. She was standing in front of the house next door, well the house next to the scar left by Dean’s home, leaning against the hip-height sandstone and brick wall that ringed her property. “You remind me of the woman in a holocube my daughter found a few years ago when she was playing in the lot,” she explained with a nod of her head towards the remains of Dean’s house. “Oh, are you the little blond boy all grown up?” She asked, with a hint of awe and excitement.

 

“Sorry, holocube?” Dean asked, not following.

 

“I’m sorry,” she apologized again with a laugh, walking over to the gate in her wall and stepping through, letting it close with a gentle whisper behind her. “I’m Jenny,” she added, offering her hand.

 

“Dean,” Dean answered, shaking her hand and clearing his through, which was inexplicably tight.

 

“I saw you looking at the old foundation, and I wondered if you might be related to the people who used to live there. I never met them, but my daughter goes playing over there sometimes even though she’s not supposed to, and she found some things, holocubes mostly. They fixed the foundation cover again after that, so I don’t know what else is still there, but I kept the pictures. Sorry, I’m rambling,” she said with a nervous giggle.

 

“Oh,” Dean responded, surprised, not having quite processed everything Jenny had said. “I, my family used to live here before the fire,” he said, much to his surprise, gesturing over at the lot. “My mom died and my dad moved me and my brother off planet… I’d never been back until now. Miss’Ouri, the, ah, friend of my fathers I’m visiting suggested I come,” he rambled, nervously scratching the back of his neck.

 

“Miss’Ouri’s a wise woman,” Jenny said, knowingly. Then with breaking realization, “So you are the little boy in those pictures! Come, let me show you.” She tugged on Dean’s arm, and Dean found himself following her through the gate, across her yard, and into the house through the heavy wood door. Once inside, she led him through the entryway, down a hallway to the kitchen, which had windows looking out on the lot.

 

Dean felt himself drawn to the sight, pressed up against the window frame looking out, without even knowing how he got there.

 

“I’m so sorry about what happened, the fire, your mother,” Jenny said sadly from behind Dean’s shoulder.

 

“It was a long time ago,” Dean said automatically.

 

“Doesn’t make it any better or make it any easier,” She replied, her tone causing Dean to turn.

 

There it was, the ghosted, haunted look of understanding in her eyes, and Dean knew she was a kindred soul. He wondered who she had lost—a lover? Husband? Wife maybe? She’d mentioned a daughter, but no one else.

 

“Everyone really does come here for a reason, huh?” Dean said with a pained smile.

 

She nodded sadly. “But some stay and build a life for themselves. Others watch. The planet always heals.”

 

“You watch the house for Miss’Ouri,” Dean understood.

 

“Yes, but I also have a good life here all my own,” She added, tone a reminder to Dean that life couldn’t only be dwelling on the past. “Come sit,” she said, leading Dean to the table.

 

He sunk down into a cushioned chair, amazed at how tired he felt and how good and comfortable the chair was.

 

“I made some iced berry tea this morning from the berries in my garden,” Jenny added as she placed a pitcher filled with a cool, blue liquid and a glass in front of him. “Now you just sit tight while I get the holocubes. Don’t worry, my kids are at the school in town, so they won’t bother you with any uncomfortable questions.” She added, assuaging a fear before Dean had even vocalized it.

 

Jenny left, slipping out a door at the far end of the room and disappearing down another hallway.

 

Dean poured a glass of the tea and drank. It was fruity and flavorful, a little pungent, and not too sweet, but very relaxing. He was still sipping it, staring across the table and out the window at the remains of his home when Jenny reentered, carrying several smiling holos of the Winchesters.

 

It was a shock to see them. They’d had a few pictures, but only whatever had been saved in Chevy’s memory or loaded onto the Dream’s computer at the time. Over the years, Dean had started to think those were the only images of his childhood that were real, that everything else had just been some far-off dream, a mirage. But here was Mom’s face smiling up at him from next to his dad, a tiny Dean carrying baby Sammy; Mom and Dad dancing on their front lawn; pictures of him and Mom constructing Chevy; Dean leaning against one of the landing struts of the Dream  and hugging it, smiling at the camera; even a picture of him and Mom at CampbelTronics deep in concentration as they assembled some other droid. Dean was speechless, he hadn’t known these pictures existed, but as he looked at them, he could remember some of them being taken, the events springing to mind with vivid clarity, suddenly real again in Dean’s memory.

 

Jenny spoke from her seat across from Dean, “They were in a durasteel box under the floor in what might have been a basement or—”

 

“A smuggler’s hold,” Dean said, awed. Sure, his Dad had taught them all about smuggling—both for purposes of concealing themselves and things they didn’t want authorities to find and also to know where to look for relics others tried to hide from them, but… had Mary as a Jedi maybe known about smuggling also? Dean couldn’t explain why he was so certain that’s what it was, the compartment that had held the box the photos were in, but he knew it was.

 

“There may be more over there, town officials come out here every once in a while to check on it and make sure it’s not a hazard but beyond that, they don’t disturb it,” Jenny suggested. 

 

“I didn’t know much about you or your family when Miss’Ouri asked me to watch the place,” Jenny added to fill the silence as Dean drank in the lost pieces of his childhood he’d never thought he’d see again. “It doesn’t take a Jedi to know when something’s been touched or destroyed by the Dark Side,” she added sorrowfully, reconfirming Dean’s earlier assessment, “so of course, I said ‘yes.’ Miss’Ouri just said someday someone would come looking, and I should help them find what they need.” Her voice was gentle.

 

Dean looked up from the pictures, awestruck by her kindness and filled with gratitude. Jenny was so genuine—he couldn’t help but wonder if maybe hunters needed to do more of this work—making sure to look out for the victims of the Dark Side, making sure the harm and injury and suffering stopped when the relic or object or ghost was dispatched. But they were always so focused on revenge and eradication and prevention, not the follow up. It was as if once the thing was gone and done, there was nothing more to say. But Dean understood more now about Miss’Ouri’s lecture about balance, and he couldn’t help wondering if hunters needed to find some balance themselves.

 

“Could… would you… can you help me find if there’s more?” Dean asked at last.

 

“I’d be glad,” Jenny said with a smile and a squeeze to his hand, and Dean knew she’d been waiting for him to ask. “Do you have somewhere safe to put these?” she asked, indicating the pictures.

 

“Uh, yeah,” Dean said, pulling his shoulder bag from where he’d forgotten it on the floor when he’d stat down. 

 

“Let me get you…” Jenny started, standing and rummaging around in her kitchen drawers until she found what she was looking for. “Here!” she said, turning around, producing an appropriately sized flimsiplast bag what would protect the holocubes from any unwanted damage from anything else Dean had in his bag.

 

When the pictures were carefully stowed, they continued out of the kitchen and down the hall to exit through a side door made from the same wood as the front door. Standing in the small side yard, Dean could now see Jenny’s garden, a thin strip of land concealed behind a portion of the house not built into the bluff. Next to the garden was another gate that led directly onto the Winchester’s old homestead. 

 

“Lemme show you where Sari, my daughter, found those, and we can go from there,” Jenny said, leading Dean out through the gate and across the empty lot, through the knee-high grasses to the edge of the foundation.

 

Dean felt an odd chill at entering the property and couldn’t help flashing back to that night—Sammy’s nursery in flames, Mom bleeding on the ceiling (he’d never told Dad, but he’d seen, and that’s why he couldn’t talk afterwards, months of silence because he just didn’t know how to say what he’d seen), Dad thrusting Sammy into his arms and telling him to take him outside, the heat on Dean’s back, the roaring of the flames, the smoke so think he couldn’t see, the groaning of the building, then Fresh air and Chevy squealing at him in a panic from where she was waiting outside. Of course, back then, she’d been S8 or S8V1, before Sammy rechristened her with her nickname. Then, like someone had flipped a switch, Dean was back, standing next to Jenny and overcome by a sense of peace.

 

“You all right?” she asked.

 

Dean nodded. “Yeah,” he said with more confidence than he expected as the breeze blew the scent of spring blossoms—a scent he’d always associated with Mom—his way. He looked up and noticed a flowering vine running the length of the bluff behind the foundation along what would have been the earth-reinforced rear wall, and knew with certainty the vine had been there when he was a child. He was encouraged to see it had survived and flourished after Azazel had left his mark. “Just a lot of… emotions,” he added.

 

Jenny nodded and proceeded to show him where Sari had found the holocubes.

 

The foundation had been recovered, but not in something particularly hard to remove or permanent. Instead, they’d fitted thin duraplast cap, rubberized at the edges and shaped to slip down over the edges of the tops of the stone base. As a result, it wasn’t very heavy, especially since the cap was formed in segments connected by rubberized flanges that overlapped at the seams. 

 

Together, Jenny and Dean lifted the cap on the left rear corner—what was his Mother’s study if he remembered correctly, and what was also the portion of the rear of the house that was not built into the ridge. Sure enough, underneath they found textured durasteel panels that would have laid side-by-side as part of the floor without visible seams. If Dean recalled correctly, there had been a rub woven from brightly colored woolynerf sheerings covering them. The panels had a lot of carbon scoring, and one had been knocked or pried ajar so that it was laid over its neighbors at an angle, a dry, protected space deep enough to fit few people lying down along with several small safes and boxes revealed underneath. To the uninitiated, the panels would have looked like a few random durasteel floor planks that had been disturbed and nothing more. To Dean, it was obviously a smuggler’s hold.

 

He recalled John telling him that Mary had already owned the house when John had returned to Dantooine after finishing his stint in the Crops. Dean couldn’t help but wonder if the home had already contained the compartment at that time, or if Mom had built it after marrying dad or perhaps after he and Sammy were born—Dean just knew that she had built it at some point because it still felt like her. Had she maybe built it to hide them? Keep them safe if something happened or someone came looking for her?

 

“It is a smuggler’s hold,” Dean confirmed to Jenny, who again was standing by his side, not pushing or prodding, just being there as support, allowing Dean to take the lead (retain control).

 

“Can you help me move these?” he asked indicating the panels.

 

“Sure,” Jenny agreed, stopping to help Dean lift the panel that was already ajar. As the panels were quite thing, they were not too heavy, and soon they had moved all three panels and stacked them on the solid textured durasteel covered duracrete floor they had also exposed when removing that section of the cap.

 

Peering down to survey the contents of the hold he was both disappointed and relieved to find it mostly empty. There were three sealed durasteel safest and one open, empty one that appeared to have had a defective latch and likely had housed the holocubes. That box was easily accessible from the space uncovered by the ajar panel, while the other three were tucked away against the far wall of the hold. Were they the oldest? The most securely guarded and hidden? he wondered. Or was it just chance the panel over the holocubes had been loosened? Maybe that wasn’t the part of the hold Mom had used most or most recently?

 

Not chance; the Force, a voice in the back of his mind supplied. Jenny needed to know what you look like. And if anything was for certain, the holocubes had confirmed that Dean did look a lot like his mother.

 

“Can I—can I take these somewhere—inside, to try to open?” Dean asked when they’d hoisted all four boxes (none of which was particularly large, and only one was at all heavy) out of the hold and placed them on the grassy ground outside the foundation.

 

“Of course,” said Jenny, not questioning Dean’s need to open the items away from the possibility of prying eyes. “Do you want to search the rest of the house?”

 

Dean hesitated to think through the answer that was already on his lips. “No.” It felt unnatural to say—he was here, shouldn’t he look at everything? “I think this is what I’m supposed to find … but, I need to see… I need to see Sammy’s nursery too,” he realized. Whether for closure or to remove any lingering doubt that Darth Azazel had been involved, or both, it just needed to be done.

 

“No problem,” Jenny indulged, wiping soot and sweat off her brow where it had accumulated there from the exertion of moving the panels. “Let’s just put this back first,” she suggested.

 

Dean agreed, and soon the panels in cap were back (the panels realigned so the void beneath was camouflaged), the safes were temporarily hidden in the tall grass next to the foundation, and they had rounded the side and front of the former house to remove the cap on the opposite corner, the right front corner of the house where Sammy’s nursery had been, where the fire had started (whether by chance or fate or the Force, that was also likely the reason why the smuggler’s hold had been essentially undamaged).

 

The cap here had hard duraplast sides underneath the rubberized covering, because the foundation had mostly melted or charred and crumbled away. Dean gasped, gaping at what was underneath.

 

The floor—which had been the same textured durasteel plank over duracrete had flowed and pooled in places as if it had achieved a molten state. The two materials near indistinguishable they were so badly melted together. There was carbon scoring everywhere, and piles of rubble that looked like they could have once been walls, as well as a sickening charred bob in one place that Dean knew had been part of the ceiling—where Mom had died. 

 

Suddenly sick, he darted aside and puked into the grass, knees shaking, healing ankle suddenly throbbing and overwhelmed by the strain of his weight. It was all Dean could do to not collapse into a heap on the ground.

 

It wasn’t just that it was where his mom had died—that was a part of it—but something much more insidious. Looking at the blob had felt—evil, cold dark, suffocating despair and pain seemed to emanate from it. On a hunch, he flipped open his bag and retrieved his DED, switching it on. There was a small reading of Dark Side energy at the edge of the rubble, but as he ran the DED over the rubble and approached the blob, the readings got higher and higher until right over it, the detector let out a sickening sustained wail as the reading jumped off the charts. 

 

“Shit!” Dean exclaimed in shaky awe, returning the detector to his bag, noticing a charred, slightly melted transparisteel panel, once a window, that had mostly gone permanently dark, probably from the sustained extreme heat and light of the fire. Definitely Azazel’s doing. It reminded him of the transparisteel window of Sammy’s apartment growing so hot it had nearly melted his hand. Dean flexed his now-healed palm at the memory. “I wouldn’t even begin to know how to cleanse this,” he admitted.

 

“I don’t think it can be done,” Jenny said with a shake of her head. “Miss’Ouri’s been out here because it was so bad, so strong, and she said it wasn’t worth trying. Scars like that need to stand as memorials to what happened, plus they’re good for making people stay away, probably protected your mom’s stash,” she added. “Besides,” Jenny said, gently stroking Dean’s shoulder in reassurance, “these things can be damn useful. After all, why do you think your mom came here in the first place? There are spots like this all over Dantooine, well, most not this strong, but they have the same effect.”

 

“They mask the presence of Jedi,” Dean realized.

 

“Jedi or anyone who’s Force-sensitive that tends more towards the light or balance, or so Miss’Ouri says,” Jenny agreed.

 

No wonder why Miss’Ouri was so eager for them to come after Bobby had contacted her. The dark spots masked Sam’s presence too, so he could train and Darth Azazel likely wouldn’t know he was there! It made Dean feel a modicum of relief, lifted a tiny weight off his shoulders, and he staggered to reestablish equilibrium.

 

Looking down one more time on the place his childhood had ended, Dean realized it was time to go. He was done here. He needed to gather up his mother’s safe boxes, see what was inside, and go back to Miss’Ouri’s.

 

Communicating this to Jenny, they re-covered the rubble, walked back around the house to gather the boxes, and slipped back through the gate and into Jenny’s house.

 

Once inside, she led Dean to her study, gave him the pitcher of blue tea, and shut the door, promising to check on him in a few hours before her kids got home.

 

Dean had expected to have to use his slicing gear to open the three locked boxes, but much to his surprise, the first box clicked open the moment he ran his thumb over the catch—DNA recognition, he realized, marveling at his mother’s ingenuity and foresight, wondering if she’d actually programmed in his (and likely Sammy’s and Dad’s) DNA, or if it was running at DNA regression program set to admit anyone within a specific degree of relatedness to Mary’s blueprint?

 

Inside the first box, the middle-sized one of the three locked boxes, he found a series of coins stamped with a Woman’s face. She bore a resemblance to his mother, but was clearly not Mary. One of the coins was on a chain that could be worn like a necklace. Also inside was a battered, folded up bomber jacket of the sort favored by Antarian Rangers and a holocube of Mary standing beside another woman with dark hair and olive-toned skin. Mary was wearing the robes of a Jedi Knight and the other woman was in traditional Antarian Ranger jacket, cargo pants, and boots. They had their arms looped over each other’s shoulders and were grinning out from the holo and giving a thumbs up. The picture was happy, but yet seemed drenched in sadness almost as if some later tragedy had imbued the image with a sense of impending Doom.

 

Underneath that was a pile of brown fabric Dean soon realized were his mother’s robes. Touching them made him feel closer to her and her past and eased some of the ache he’d felt in his chest since her force ghost had said farewell. He thought of the spot where she’d touched him, and it tingled with a renewed warmth.

 

After carefully replacing the items and closing the box, he opened the second, unlatching it in the same manner as the first. Dean couldn’t hide his audible gasp of surprise when inside he found a shiny silver tube inlaid with blue stones around the base and pink stones ringing the top just under a brushed pewter-colored flared disk and bearing a button made of the same metal half way down it’s length, all carefully cradled in green velvet. Mom’s lightsaber, he realized. If the dreams and photo hadn’t been enough, here was tangible, definitive proof of her Jedi-hood right beneath his fingertips. Dean didn’t dare touch, but stared in awe knowing the blade would be green like Mom’s—and his—eyes when extended.

 

Closing the box and turning to the third, Dean got his biggest surprise yet, for inside was a holocron, a simple, green hexagonal prism. The Jedi used holocrons for teaching, making them interactive storing lessons, allowing students to learn from masters long dead. But they also used them for recording personal memories, almost like waking, living diaries reciting out events that had transpired, projecting the image of the storyteller as if the person was in the room telling the story to the listener directly.

 

Dean was almost afraid to activate it, but knew he had to see what his mother had recorded, what messages or lessons she might have left.

 

With equal excitement and trepidation, Dean set the device on Jenny’s desk and activated it, sitting back in the cushioned chair as the image of his mother dressed in a beige work shirt and pants, looking far younger than he had known her, sprang to life before him. Her face was solemn, haunted, but determined, and her figure was seated, cross legged on the floor. He recognized the position as one of his favorites for contemplation, and felt just a little bit closer to his mother in that moment. Without hesitation, his mother’s holo began to recite a story…

 

My name is Mary Campbell, daughter of Deanna and Samuel of Toprawa. I was identified as Force-Sensitive as a child much like my paternal aunt before me, and left home to train at the Academy on Coruscant, where I was later apprenticed to Master Antilles as a Padawan. I passed the trials just after my sixteenth birthday.

 

As a knight, I specialized as a Jedi Shadow—trained to seek out, investigate, and dispatch all threats and uses of the Dark Side. As part of my further training, I returned to my home planet and was partnered with Knella Voss, a skilled member of the Antarian Rangers who had been my early childhood friend. 

 

I’ve decided to record this in a holocron to tell the true story of her death and to explain why I left the order, and maybe make sense of it all. The true story isn’t going to get out any other way, and it needs to be heard.

 

Shortly before my twentieth birthday, Knella and I were dispatched Courkrus to investigate a strange energy reading. People had been getting sick and exhibiting strange, enraged behavior whenever they spent too much time near a particular cave. Two Jedi teams had investigated in the last twenty-two years, but neither had found anything. When the readings and behavior cropped up again, the Order decided to send a Shadow, and they Knella and I were ordered to investigate.

 

At first, I found nothing, just the same thing everyone else had found. But then I started to feel a pull, a presence in the Force, drawing me farther in. I followed it deeper into the cave. There, I found a strange stone that did not match the others around it. The stone was jammed into a crevice in the cave wall. I tried to reach it, but discovered there was a force barrier in the way. I entered a trance and asked the Force to guide me through the barrier. After a day and night of concentration, during which Knella remained at my side and guarded me, I penetrated the barrier.

 

I reached into the crevice for the stone, intending to remove it from the cave to see if it could be destroyed or contained, but as soon as it passed the place the barrier had been, I felt a surge of dark energy pass through me, testing my Will and almost knocking me over. At the same time, the stone glowed red with what I now believe are Sith markings.

 

I felt something, like an overwhelming dark presence stretching from the stone, and a bright purple light reached out of it and tried to wrap around me. It felt like death, cold and , and I tried to drop the stone and draw my lightsaber, but as soon as it touched the ground, the light reached out stronger and tried to pull me in.

 

On the holo, young Mary was obviously distraught, the calm demeanor and composure she’d maintained beginning to crumble. She wiped tears from her eyes and stared back, resolved.

 

Knella pushed me out of the way. I think she was trying to save me, and it worked, the connection broke, and I was knocked to the ground. But—

 

Her voice broke.

 

But the stone locked onto her.

 

She made a gripping movement with her hands.

 

And it was like the stone had gotten what it wanted. It started to drain her life. I could feel it slipping away, pouring from her and entering the stone. I tried to get to her, but she told me not to touch her, and, and I listened. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t done what she said, but anything, almost anything would be better than watching her die. 

 

As she grew weaker, a strange black smoke started to coalesce from the stone, and when she dropped to the ground dead, it let her go and the smoke—came together, like some kind of Force-wraith. Then the stone stopped glowing and the wraith swept from the cave. It was coming right at me and I ducked, but it flew over my head and out the cave entrance. 

 

There was a great echo in the Force, like the Dark Side was screaming out with all of its strength, and that night there were three strange fires on Courkrus forming a triangle with the cave at its center. The fires burned too hot to be possible. Over the next week a half-dozen people seemed to go momentarily mad, like they were possessed by an evil spirit. 

 

Then the Jedi came, and I thought we were going to get some answers.

 

Mary shook her head ruefully.

 

Boy was I wrong. They declared the cave cleaned and Knella’s death a tragic accident. I told them what I saw, what had happened, and they said I was mistaken, or crazy. They tried to say the stone was just a relic that had discharged some energy and hit Knella and not me, said it was a natural manifestation of the Dark Side. 

 

I told them about the writing on the stone, and they said there was none.

 

At first, I thought they were serious, that they thought I had lost my mind, or that maybe I really had. But when I got back to Coruscant to “heal and meditate,” I realized that wasn’t so. The Force flowed naturally from my memories, while their assertions were sometimes layered in deceit. Some of the Jedi that spoke to me were sincere, but others were—scared. Terrified of something.

 

I did some research in the archives, supposedly on meditation techniques, but I was able to slip around in the system and finally sliced into the files from the investigation of Knella’s death. I found images of the stone, and they did have writing. I scanned further and discovered the symbols were Sith.

 

It was difficult keeping my research from the others, but I knew if it was discovered they would make me stop. I could only get a partial image of the language on the rock, but I tracked some of the sigils to a prophecy about a Force wraith. It was so deeply hidden, I know the Council doesn’t want anyone to know about it. I doubt some of them know the prophecy even exists.

 

In the prophecy, it talks about a Sith Master who hid himself in the force and vowed to return as a wraith. It talked about a Jedi of unparalleled skill and strength who would be the only one who could awaken him, and when that Jedi did, the Jedi would lead the wraith to the Chosen One, a special, powerful Jedi marked by darkness, who would help the Wraith unleash the Dark Side on the galaxy.

 

I was scared it meant me. That I had awakened the wraith and would lead him to the Chosen One. I realized that the Council was covering up what had happened, lying about Knella’s death to her own family. They weren’t interested in truth or justice or giving answers to the people on Courkrus whose homes had burned or whose family members had gone insane. That’s not what I trained for. That’s not My Jedi Order. So I left.

 

I stopped on Toprawa to tell Knella’s family what really happened, and gave them my condolences. I think they believed me. 

 

Then I came here, to Dantooine, ‘cause I know it’s really hard to find Force-sensitives here. I hope—

 

Mary broke off and looked down, fidgeting where she sat. When she looked up again it was with such profound sincerity it took Dean’s breath away.

 

I hope that if I don’t use the Force or associate with any Jedi, then if the prophecy is true, I won’t be able to lead the wraith to this Chosen One.

 

The holocron entry ended, and Dean found himself stunned and breathless at his mother’s words. She was trying to save everyone! he realized. Mary had given up everything of her old life to try to protect the galaxy from a prophecy she feared was true. All on her own, with no help. Yet, like Miss’Ouri had warned, prophecies don’t always mean what people think they mean, so instead of the Chosen One being some trained Jedi she met, the Chosen one turned out to be her own son. No wonder she’d been so sad in most of her visits to Dean.

 

He sat back and played the other entries—some talking about Miss’Ouri, and how Mary thought Miss’Ouri had been a Jedi too; about how since Miss’Ouri wasn’t a Jedi anymore, maybe it safe for Mary to be friendly with her without risking the prophecy; about John and having kids, and how happy she was programming droids; about how she still worried about the prophecy and needed to record everything for her sons in case anything ever happened to her. 

 

The last entry was from just a few days before the fire, and Mary talked about how proud she was of her sons and how it had been almost ten years since Knella’s death and so far, nothing had happened. She mentioned how she thought Sammy might be Force sensitive, but at least out here, on Dantooine, he’d be safe from the searching minds of the Jedi and could grow up nice and normal and safe with a family who loved him.

 

When the holocron finally shut off, Dean was speechless. There it was so clear: his brother was the Chosen One, marked and bound in the fire, and now this Sith was trying to use him to destroy the very source of life itself. And Dean was at a loss.

 

He nearly jumped when Jenny knocked on the door to check on him. She said her kids would be home soon.

 

Dean looked at his wrist chrono and realized almost three hours had passed. He should be getting back. He’d tell Miss’Ouri what he’d found, but wasn’t so sure he should tell Sam, at least not about the contents of the holocron, not yet.

 

Dean packed up his boxes and carefully placed them in his bag, returning the holocubes Jenny had given him to their original box.

 

Finally, he hugged and thanked Jenny for all she had done.

 

“Now that I’ve come, will you still watch the house?” he asked, genuinely curious.

 

“Of course, there’s lots more to watch out for,” she explained.

 

With another grasp of hands, they said their goodbyes and dean set off towards Miss’Ouri’s with a little limp, feeling a both lighter and heavier than when he’d come.

 

~~~

 

That night at dinner, Dean told Sam and Miss’Ouri about Jenny and the house and the Dark stain he’d felt at their old house. He showed Sam the holocubes, thrilled to be able to put a smile on his brother’s face. Sam was seeing a side of his family as “normal”—a side he’d never had proof existed until now.

 

He also mentioned the holocron, and said it confirmed their suspicions about Mary, and left it at that. He felt bad keeping a secret from his brother, but he just wasn’t ready to share it. He had some suspicions and theories that had started to form and percolate, and he didn’t want to mention anything until he was sure.

 

He did, however, approach Miss’Ouri about the other items he’d found—the strange coin, his mother’s lightsaber, and her robes and her partner’s jacket.

 

“Ahh,” Miss’Ouri said when he showed her the coin. “That’s a Jedi Credit—minted on Corellia when a Corellian Jedi reached the rank of master. That looks like Master Campbell… I think she may have been related to your mother’s father,” Miss’Ouri explained.

 

“I also found her lightsaber,” Dean said, presenting and opening the box to reveal the delicately ornamented weapon. “Do you, uh, want it?” he asked. “I wasn’t sure if I should give it to Sam… I know he’s not trained on these.”

 

“Oh Dean,” Miss’Ouri sighed. “Your mother left that for you. She would have wanted you to have it,” Miss’Ouri said, pressing it back into his hands. “Same with her robes and Knella’s jacket.”

 

“Are you sure?” Dean asked. “Is that why you sent me…”

 

“I didn’t know what was there… I just knew she kept things, for you, and she would have wanted you to have them, when you were ready. And now you’re ready,” Miss’Ouri assured cryptically.

 

“But why me? I can’t possibly use…” Dean protested.

 

“It’s a part of her past, of your past, of who you are, Dean. Now stop worrying about it and go get some rest. I know you’re working on theories now. You need your mind fresh to think about them.”
 

Master Post | Part 10Part 12

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
lycaness
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
Hehe, he's not the only one working on theories. ;)
Hmm, so, I think I'm still sticking with me thoughts that Dean is the healer, could be wrong but for now that's my suspicion.
I had been thinking that the little hints and guidance Sam and Dean keep hearing in their heads was the force talking to them (cause I suspect that Dean is force sensitive too, as he often feels something is right or wrong) but now I'm thinking it's that presence Missouri was talking to in her kitchen. I wasn't sure who that was at first, but when he started talking about finding a host but not taking over it like the Sith so I'm now thinking it's a Castiel character, the one hidden in the Force.
Love how you fitted Jenny and Seri in from Home. :)
Erm, I'm sure I had many other thoughts as I went through but I can't remember them all at the moment, lol, so I'll leave it there for now and give my speculation a break for a while, lol.
Awesome story. *hugs*
paleogymnast
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:37 am (UTC)
Ah sweetie, you are awesome! *grins so big she can't see straight* It's 4:30 in the morning and I should be asleep (have bar review class in 4.5 hours and need to get up in 3.5), but instead I'm reading your comments and feeling pretty awesome!! :D

Keep your theories coming (and keep on reading!!) I'm glad you like this so much, and I really hope you don't hate me when you get to the end ('cause it's gonna be a few months (september at the earliest) before the sequel is good to go. :D
lycaness
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:42 am (UTC)
Aw honey, you must sleep, keep healthy. :)
And don't worry, I could never hate you (remind me I said that when I get to the end, lol), but I bet it'll just make me more eager to read the sequel when it arrives.
Oh I plan to keep reading, I can't wait to see where you're going with this, also to see if any of my theories are correct or not. :D
*hypnotises you to sleep* ;)
paleogymnast
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:46 am (UTC)
Seriously, you may HATE me when you get to the end (although I promise I'm no where near as bad as some of the Star Wars films). Or you might just be eager for more.

I wound up with a 4hour nap this afternoon, hence the not sleeping properly now. :( But I will sleep soon and get another nap in and get up. And maybe you will have more comments for me!! *glee* :D

Keep your theories coming. :D
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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