I see conflict. The air in the large city carries poison to its dwellers. It passes around their narrow and hexagonal homes that stand high above them. It surrounds the crowds of people that have shades of red. They cry out in anger, clashing at one another ferociously. Horns are aimed for skins of red as the luxurious buildings litter the ground with the pieces they drop. It is chaos everywhere. Then, the image changes.
I see a young woman. I do not know her. She stands there motionless and there is only whiteness around her in the image. She is so beautiful. Her skin is a color between yellow and white. Dark brown hair, light blue eyes... The image changes.
Ruins lie on empty plains and steep mountains in a desolate land. Rocks encapsulated by sand shine on the orange landscape as the forgotten ruins stand in mystical dignity, waiting impatiently to be uncovered. Then again, the image changes.
Fire. A town in the middle of an endless desert lights the night as white, circular buildings burn like camp fire. I can hear the screams of thousands coming from hundreds of them. As the voices get abuzz, the image changes.
I am in a dark room. It is the young woman, again. Two men in black armour stands behind each side of her, holding her from her arms. Beside them, a man in black robes sits on a throne-like chair in front of me. He is hooded to the eyes, and wears a mask made of a gray metal. He speaks to me, but there is no voice. He extends his arm, giving me a lightsaber. I light it. Filled with a red light, the image changes.
I see the void of space. The stars in the distance look beautiful from far far away as always. While I stand still, they march forward like arrows directed at me. And then, in the darkness of space, an object is revealed. What stands out is a moon or a planet. But it is grayed out, devastated.
I wake up from the same vision that haunted me for over a decade. The holobook on which I fell asleep reads 'Aspects of the Force, The Light and the Dark by Tasiele Shan.'
"Slept well, Mr. Malcom?"
The voice comes from right in front of me. I had not noticed her. I look at her with empty eyes till my sight gets clear enough. The earnest Jedi Master sits in front of me, her hands folded on the lengthy table.
"Master Alvan. I am sorry. I must have fallen asleep," I say tentatively.
"You seem distressed. Is something troubling you?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Master Jedi."
She knows exactly what I mean by 'nothing out of the ordinary'.
"I see," she says, breaking the eye contact. "It is however no excuse to occupy the library an hour before the sun rises," she adds as if she is making a playful comment.
The Grand Library of the Jedi Temple is indeed not somewhere you spend your nights, yes.
I fake a shy grin.
She smiles in return. "Or is it for Averane Malcom?"
"I don't know..." I mumble like a little boy who got a harsh reprimand. "Master Reyma let me stay."
"Did he?" Well, you are lucky my days as the Jedi Librarian are long past."
All of a sudden, the Neutolan Jedi Master laughs out loud. "And you thought I didn't have a sense of humor."
"What were you reading?" She reaches for the holobook in front of me, and starts scrolling it up and down randomly.
"Many things, really," I say on impulse.
"It is not a lie," she says continuing to mess around with the holobook. "I spoke with Senator Ferdon this morning." She takes a pause. "Or rather the morning before," she adds grinning. "How do you know him?"
"We are friends."
"It is not a lie, either." She is still skimming through the book. "So... You can't have been reading books here all day."
"I really don't have much to do, Master Jedi."
"Yes, it isn't one too..."
Now, that's too much. "If you have questions, I will do the best I can to answer them, Master Jedi."
Her pale purple face gets somber again. She slowly puts the book back on the table. "This is not an interrogation, Averane. Not yet." Her tentacles sweep the table as she slowly moves her head towards me. "I understand you have worries because of the visions you have been experiencing, but I had already assured you that the Jedi Council is looking for anything extraordinary on Devaron. If we find something, we will share it with the Senate to be addressed. You should leave this matter to those who qualify for it."
I protest: "I haven't done anything." Yet.
"And I hope it will remain that way." she says in an extremely calm voice all of a sudden. "For your safety." She hikes her robe, and gets up. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have a Padawan to tend to."
"Please, send Padawan Loff my regards, Master Jedi," I say like nothing happened.
And she leaves.
Maybe I should do the same before anyone else comes by here now that it is the crack of dawn.
I am no Jedi. I am no civilian. I am nothing. Perhaps, she is right. Who am I to take things into my own hands? Deprived of my status of Jedi over a stupid dream, I roam the corridors of this temple like a womprat in a mollgar's pit. I should never have left Nar Shaddaa.
The trail of thoughts stop as I come to the place. This storage room of the Jedi Temple is always the same junkyard. ...For a reason I have never known. I step inside it. I carefully close the door behind me. And I turn on the lights.
"M4. Hello, it's me."
"I know you are there," I say, raising my voice slightly.
"Maybe because I have no legs to go anywhere, you idiot!" the bad-tempered obsolete medical droid shouts.
"You want me to bring some?" I offer 'with a good heart'.
"You really think I'll fall for that? You are the idiot, not me, you filthy human."
Ouch. "That's racist." I fake a sad face.
"That's specifist, you idiot. I hate it when you litter my place with your hair. Return here after you shaved your horrendous hair and beard! Wait! On second thought, DON'T EVER COME HERE AGAIN!"
Putting up with his ill temper is a part of the price for sneaking out of the temple. So, I shall endure.
"You sure you don't need any parts?"
"You are the one who will need parts if you continue bothering me! When will you go obsolete? You are functioning for how many years? Eighty one?"
"Well, maybe I should let you leave for the last time so you find a job, and be of some use!"
"OK, OK. I'll just leave you alone." Then, I turn my back, and start moving slowly to the door.
It always works.
"I may actually need a new decomposer unit."
"What model you said?"
"V9-DMD / 7EKO."
I write it down. "Got it."
"Here." He transmits me the clearance code.
M4's getting me out again. I don't know how it still has a clearance, but I won't question as long as it can sneak me out of the temple.
As usual, I get inside the vacant room with the clearance code. Next, I take the ventilation shaft inside to the upper level of the temple to an unused balcony of sorts. Then, I simply jump from over six hundred meters of height. I use the Force to push the ground just before I land so as not to break my legs, and end up in a suburban street. I start running from there for a while. And I finally take a taxi.
Dropped nearby, I shortly arrive at the avenue for the agreed meeting. As always, it is full of people walking around. Thousands of voices ring in my ears while the exact place for the secret meeting, the public holoscreen, broadcasts the news of the Devaronian anarchy. The words of the speaker come and go meaninglessly in my mind. I am focused on the images.
It's so similar to what I have been seeing in my vision all those years. Angry crowds of red people with horns... It is happening.
I stop for a moment.
What am I doing here? What can I do, anyway! I should just... No, no! There has to be a reason for my vision. It can't be for nothing. No way! After all those years, it is coming true.
"Mr. Malcom." The voice comes from right beside me. The Devaronian senator I am used to see in most luxurious outfits is dressed with a plain and white tunic.
"How are you, my friend?"
"Senator," I salute him. "I guess I am as fine as I can ever be."
"Oh, my friend," he says in a manner so courteous I would normally call it theatrical. "I am so glad you commiserate with my people."
It is not that, but thanks I guess.
"I wish I had taken your warnings more seriously."
"You did, senator. Truth be told, even I wasn't sure."
"My people suffer," he continues to reproach. "And the Senate is deaf to my cries and my people's. Do you see?" He shows me the screen.
It is the Chancellor: "... an era of peace over centuries, now. And that peace, dear citizens of the Galactic Republic, only prospers at this moment. Do not believe the lies of those with the ill-intent to deceive you into believing a Republic deteriorating.
"In contrast to some who do nothing, but speak against our actions, we do the work. They are jealous for it! They are jealous... Yes!"
In short, he talks gibberish again.
I refuse to make the political comment. Then, I remember: "Senator Ferdon, did you talk with a Jedi a week or so ago?"
"Many. Is there a problem?"
"Maybe. I was kinda interrogated. Do you know Nerreta Alvan?"
"Really? That name doesn't sound familiar. Can you describe her?"
"Female, brown robes, somber, looks modest..."
He scratches his right horn. "What you describe is half the Jedi."
Since the other half is male...
Aah! I hate specifism, but fuck it.
"She is a purple Neutolan."
"Oh, yes, I did. She stopped by my office a week or so ago, reassured me that the Jedi Council is doing all they can regarding Devaron." And he adds with a sigh: "To no avail it seems."
"So, yes, she did speak with you. She told me she did while questioning me."
"It was all, though. I thanked her and we parted ways. She didn't say or ask anything else."
"Doesn't matter. She probably spoke with you just to tell me."
"She could have lied, no?"
"Not to me. Lies are easy to detect with the Force," I try to explain. "It is almost... subconscious."
"Ah, I see. Regardless, it seems we need to be more careful from now on."
"I think so, yes."
On the screen, the Chancellor is still talking.
"Aren't you getting any support from the Senate?"
"Senator Domma and Senator Vel have been great support, but no, nothing new." He sighs. "Most of the Senate is corrupt to the bone," he adds nearly spitting.
Wow. Things can't be getting better. I would never expect him to react like that.
"I am sorry, Senator."
"I have gotten support from a certain non-governmental organization, though. I have you to thank for that."
"Lamus agreed to help?"
"Yes, he plans to do everything he can. Posters, community aids, and maybe even a protest... We'll see how much it helps."
"I am glad."
Someone cries out behind me. "Averane!"
I turn my back. "Ediskard?"
"Senator," the bulky Padawan salutes him with a random curtsy.
"Master Jedi," Ferdon salutes back. "It has been a great pleasure to speak with you Mr. Malcom," he turns to me smiling. "If you will excuse me..."
And he leaves.
"So, Rane," Dis starts, "Haven't you been warned just recently?" He smiles slyly.
"How do you know?"
"She is my master, and I am her errand boy, so I am to babysit you," he says teasingly.
"Well, Dis you know, it has been more than a week, and I thought it wouldn't draw suspicion."
Dis laughs out loud nearly roaring. "Well, no problem for me. You are in big trouble this time, anyway." He puts his huge arm around my shoulder, and I feel the physical pressure to start moving. "You are no kid anymore, Rane. You should have known better," he says as we walk.
"Shut the fuck up! You are not even an adult," I respond to his teasing.
He laughs. "You bastard!"
"So, what's the problem?" I ask most frivolously as I put my arm around his belly like a kid.
He can't stop laughing. I must have made his day.
"Don't worry. What worse can they do to you? And you didn't do enough to be executed."
"A full detention?" I suggest the idea.
"Look, I can't do anything, and you know it."
"Will you please tell me what is going on, then?"
"Master Lin wants to speak with you."
"May the fucking Force be with me."
Dis laughs again. "Always man, always."
I breathe out a deep sigh. We walk silently for a few minutes till we get on the speeder.
"Sorry you had to be bothered to look after me," I apologise.
"Oh, I should thank you. I saw some normal faces."
"Hah," I give him a knowing look as I am taken back to the temple.
Why me? Am I chosen or destined for something? If not, why would the Force grant me such a vision? The Jedi mantra teaches us that the Will of the Force guides us. Then, the Sith will return? I know I am not having that vision for no reason. It has cost me everything! I know what will happen, and I know I have a place in all that. I have to move on, no matter what.
I get out of my usual thinking, and take a deep breath. Then, I knock the door to the Jedi Grand Master's chamber.
As I step inside, I see two old Jedi Masters sitting, instead of one. "Master Lin, Master Yoda," I salute them. "Sorry. Am I interrupting?"
"Oh no. Come join us young one," says Master Lin.
I take an empty seat.
"Some fresh air you took, mhm?" the little green Jedi playfully remarks.
"I did Master Yoda. I am sorry."
"It would be too strict of us if we deprived you of all your freedom after we have ...disavowed you unfairly," Master Lin responds to my shock.
They admit I was right? After all this time?
"Understand you must that only about you, it is not. More at play to your visions there is, young one." Yoda remarks.
"I just want to understand my place in all of this," I exclaim, suppressing my temper.
"The Will of the Force itself the visions reflect. Messengers they are. That is, most of the time..." Yoda's face takes a grave form. "But manipulated even the purest forms of the Force can be. Generally, a mere possibility a vision about the future shows. Yet yours, a series of... certainties it seems to be, young one." His face turns more and more grave with each word he utters. "Playing with you the dark forces may..."
"I think it is enough, Master Yoda," Lin interrupts. "Will you please leave us alone for now?"
"Oh," Yoda is taken aback for a moment. "Of course, master," he says jumping down the chair. "A nice time you have," he salutes us as he leaves.
"Thank you, my friend."
And Yoda is kicked out. Wow.
Lin turns to me. "How are you, my friend?"
"I am fine. Thank you for asking, Master Lin."
"Some people do need to learn some manners, don't you think," the old Jedi Master comments with a smile on his face."
I raise an eyebrow in dazedness.
"You have to excuse Yoda and the others. They are worried, and they don't have the trust I have for you."
Now, what was that? " I... don't understand what you are saying, Master Lin."
"You do deserve an explanation." The Grand Master takes his hand to his long beard. "A decade ago, you warned us with your visions of the upcoming danger. The matter at hand was... sensitive at best. Even more so now. At that time, it required subtlety on the Council's part. The members of the Jedi Council decided that the truth had to remain a secret. So, you had to be... disavowed."
I stay silent for a moment till I digest his words.
"Why tell me now?" I eventually ask.
"Your vision is coming true. Devaron succumbs to anarchy as you said it would. It may be that the Will of the Force has decreed you must be a part of what is to come." The old Jedi Master hikes his bluish white robes, and gets up with a sigh. "Let us take some fresh air before we continue, my friend."
I obey, and we start walking to the courtyard. Lost in feelings of sadness, disappointment and anger, I stay silent for a few minutes. The old man is silent, too. But finally, I can't resist anymore, and spit it out.
"You want my help?" I ask accusingly.
Lin looks at me without emotion.
"You want my help after kicking me out of the Order, trapping me in this temple, and I had to live a life of divergence, no Jedi, and yet no civilian for nearly ten years?"
"As I said, I understand your situation. The Jedi Council's decision wasn't an ideal one, but it was deemed to be for the best," Lin responds, maintaining his composure. "Indeed, your help is needed. The Council now thinks we have to keep track of your vision, and unravel this mystery or the consequences may be catastrophic for the entire galaxy."
The way he expresses it... I can only imagine how unfair a treatment I received. To be cast out for warning them of such a danger, for speaking the truth... I was disavowed from the Jedi Order, and my future was destroyed! And it was because the truth I spoke of had to remain a secret? Was there no other way for them to act like they didn't believe me that day?
Lost in my thoughts and feelings, I stop at the overlook. I turn my face to the city under my feet. The daylight shines over the courtyard while I stay still in all kinds of feelings.
I should just spit on his face! I should let the galaxy burn if that is what is at stake! What happened the last time I wanted to be of help? They refused my offer of help then, I should refuse their ask for help now.
"I am no Jedi!" I finally burst out.
Silence. The wise old man doesn't respond.
I take a deep breath, and release, finally regaining my composure.
"What do you want?" I ask.
"The girl in your vision, that is, one that suits your description is found on Mirial. A young Mirialan with a human-like skin. She has no facial tattoos or headdress like the traditionalists of her people."
"Mirialan? When?" I ask in surprise.
"Yes. Three years ago. Master Alvan returned empty-handed, however. It seems that the young woman's parents relocated."
"Why wouldn't she track her presence?"
"The young woman seems to have an innate ability with the Force. Her presence seems to be... insensible. A very rare case, indeed."
"How did you locate her in the first place then?"
The wrinkles on his face change place, and he turns sour. He looks around to check if we are alone. Then, he says in a nearly inaudible voice: "Some others who are not Jedi did before."
"What?" I get shocked.
A moment of silence as I piece together the events.
"The Sith... and now they beat you to it, again?"
The Jedi Grand Master nods with a sigh. "There has been a disturbance in the Force. The Jedi Council meditated on it, and concluded it is centred on Mirial."
"A disturbance in the Force?" I ask in surprise.
"It was a minor one, but still indicates the importance of this matter."
"Why wouldn't you tell me anything the first time?" I resent.
"As I said, it had to remain a secret."
"And you wouldn't trust me enough to keep my mouth shut!"
Silence. Lin kneels down, sits on the ground, crosses his legs. And he invites me by tapping on the ground with his hand.
I sigh, but accept.
"You freed yourself from this temple once, travelled the wider galaxy, spent time with people of all kinds. Yet, in the end... you would return. Why?"
The sentiment pierces my mind like a blaster fire. I say nothing for a while. I look at the ring on his finger to distract myself so I can keep myself away from raging. It is a plain ring with a black stone on it.
"I couldn't stay away," I finally say. "All those years, the vision… haunted my nights."
"Then, you understand what I mean. You have to go to Mirial with Nerreta Alvan this time. Please, young one."
I take one deep breath, and comply: "OK, OK."
"Please, meet them as soon as you can. We have no time to waste. They will depart shortly, and they will require your guidance."
"I will, Master Lin."
"May the Force be with you all."
I say nothing in return. I get up and turn my back. And I leave the courtyard with mixed feelings, feelings of worry, fear and doubt, but also... purpose.