[Insert Pretentious Title of Choice]
Jen Bakht [JadedMara@aol.com]

Despite the heavy authorial cynicism, I do hope that this story will be well-received. Jaina, Corran, Luke, and the gang try to piece together a millenia-old prophesy, save the universe , and in the process meet an unusual young man. A standard adventure story that doesn't try to be more than it is. Well, okay, there's a lot of character study in it. And a lot of talk. Well, so maybe it isn't a standard adventure story. I don't know what it is. Read it and draw your own conclusions!

...and yes, Mara's in it too.

"Star Trek" is a registered copyright of Paramount . . . whoops! Wrong genre . . .

"Star Wars" is (c) Lucasfilm, as are all characters, situations, and names associated with "Star Wars" (c) (tm) etc, etc, etc.

CUSTOMARY AUTHORIAL DISCLAIMER: For those of you familiar with "Jade" and "Always Chasing After You", you know that I have a habit of starting a story strongly and then reducing it to a superficial series of villians, character portrayals, and denouments, all in all leading to a story with a rushed plot, etc. (I'm doing it again . . .) Hopefully, this story will make amends . . .

This story is divided into two parts. Part One is the standard introduction of characters, the interactions, and a touch of humor. Part Two is talk, talk, talk. It's my version of a monologue, almost unbroken save a few scenes here and there. For those of you scared off by that stuff, please give it a chance. Same goes to those reading the first part of the story, who consider it trite and rushed. I wrote it over a period of a few months, so my writing style changes from section to section. But, still, just try it. Please!


The clouds above Yavin IV rumbled ominously, inciting the various chirping and humming sounds that characterized the moon's fauna to increase in urgency, as birds and jungle-dwellers of every shape and color scuttled to safety. The first drops of Nature's tears began to fall, drenching the temple's weeping willows in comfort. The jungle clearing was silent, save for the echoing of the rain on the temple-roof.

And an aging hero sat contemplatively in the shadows.

Hero of the Rebellion. Revered Jedi Master. Husband, father, brother, best friend. Which one to be?

Luke Skywalker chuckled to himself as he stepped out into the cleansing rain. "Doing it again," he thought ruefully. At times, he would find himself in these moods, feeling as if he was standing on a precipice on the verge of spiraling downward into a swirling mass of self-pity and depression. Thinking about his self-identity seemed to always do that to him. Mara would laugh at him when he got that way, and he soon learned to laugh at himself.

Still, it bothered him that at times, he didn't know exactly who he was. He had come so far, literally and emotionally, in his life; yet, it all seemed so *normal*. Should it be? Should have everything he had looked foward to become pedestrian and routine? Should it be normal for his personality to change like the way a chamaelon changed colors; should it feel like a routine affair, routine like a snake's sloughing of skin?

Luke chuckled again. He was worried about feeling normal. That would be the day.

And he spread his arms wide, welcoming with open arms the rebirth that accompanied the rain.



Tenel Ka's room was bare save for a single hard bedroll and small mementos of her Dathomiran heritage. Hastily assembled chairs and a table were crowded in one corner of spartan dwelling. Tenel Ka, in a characteristic show of hospitality that always seemed in contrast with her taciturn nature, had insisted on serving the guest a traditional Dathomiran dessert. Corran looked around the room, his eyes focusing on the Hapan toterof surreptiously tucked behind some weapons. His son would enjoy playing such an exotic instrument, and Corran had to resist the temptation to inquire the Hapan princess of its price. 'It's the only reminder of her father's planet that she has in here,' thought Corran, fingering his grandfather's Jedcred. His reverie was interrupted as the redhead behind him cleared her throat.

She leaned in michevously. "So, you're back for good?" she asked, with a twinkle in her eye.

Corran sighed and leaned back in the rancor chair. "Nah, just stopping by."

"I don't believe that for a second."

'I'd better bite,' thought Corran, still eyeing the toterof. "You know, Mara, Karrde really did miss out when you left his organization. You and he both have a nose for BS. Or was that. . .?"

" . . . The Force? Could have been, could have not been. Of course, if you had stayed to finish your training, maybe you would have had a better idea of the answer. How much are you willing to put up for whatever you need?"

"You never give up, huh." Corran shook his head in wonderment. "Okay. First of all, I don't need . . . okay, I'd rather have Luke here, too, all right? And by the way, be discreet about my Force ability. Many people don't and don't need to know about it. I'm planning to unzip my mouth about it after another year with the squadron. And yes, then I'll return to training. Satisfied?"

Mara winked. "Very."

Corran stood, almost hitting his head on Tenel Ka's weapon's rack. "So, where is Little Miss Princess with her delicious raet pie, anyway?"


Night had long ago cloaked the small training moon, and dark shadows began to play in the light of the tall, regal candles. Jacen Solo yawned and stretched. "So, you think that one of us would have an idea of who this guy is."

Corran nodded, as he helped Tenel Ka clear off the last of the dessert plates and pour some wine. "Exactly. This kid is scared and emotionally immature, so I know he probably isn't a product of the praxeum. But his Force sense is extremely strong. Even I could detect it. Any ideas?"

"Well, you're right. I haven't trained with or taught anyone matching his description in the past three or four years. Uncle Luke?"

Luke frowned, deep in thought. There was a missing piece to this puzzle. Slowly, he answered, "He hasn't been a trainee or a prospective student here. You say that he was picked up wandering around Wedge's quarters? Why would he go there?"

"I don't know," replied Corran. "All I know is that this kid is terrified of some 'unseen darkness', as he put it, and that he kept asking Wedge about Jacen and Jaina. He seemed worried about them."

Luke looked at Mara, who hadn't contributed anything to the conversation. She looked back at him, and shrugged her shoulders. "He's a kook. Simple as that."

Tenel Ka grunted in amusement. Luke didn't see what was so funny.

"A bit dismissive, aren't we?"

Mara threw up her hands in exasperation. "Luke! Look at the facts. Most likely, some wacko reads the Coruscant Daily Mirror (tm) and finds a ridiculous story about an evil guy lurking in the shadows of the galaxy, or something to that effect. He then reads a news story about a member of the Solo family, and a glowrod goes off in his brain. He knows that Jaina is a member of Rogue Squadron, so presto! He finds his way to the General in charge of it. It's all for attention. Nothing more, nothing less."

Tenel Ka pointed her finger. "Ah. Aha! But you seem to forget that this young man is Force-sensitive."

Jacen, staring into his goblet, shook his head. "Tenel Ka, I don't know who to agree with here, but I do know that many people in the galaxy are Force-sensitive. Many don't know it. Witness Zekk. Force-sensitivity isn't always a sign of credibility." Luke remembered his nephew's shock at learning of his friend's Force-ability. The repurcussions of that discovery had led to a climactic battle at the Jedi Academy, where the twins and their friends had brashly defended the moon, despite Zekk's warning that they stay away from the battle. Luke could sense that Jacen was prepared to again let warnings go unheeded.

Obviously, Tenel Ka had sensed it too in her beau. "I find it an unusual characteristic of yours that you seem to ignore danger to yourself. It's foolish."

Time to forestall an argument. "Foolish as it may be," Luke said, raising his hands, "we don't have much to go on here. Jacen, watch out for yourself, and Corran, tell Jaina to do the same. Other than that, we can't do anything else on our end. I'm sorry we couldn't help you out, Corran. Is there anything else you need?"

"Just a place to stay the night. I don't feel up to sleeping in my X-wing."

"We have plenty of room," put in Tenel Ka, her eyes softening. Luke never could understand why she found such pleasure in seeing to others' needs. "Tionne and I will see to your accomodations," she continued, then left.

"If you don't mind," interjected Mara, sighing, "I need to get going. Ahna's been begging for a story for the past five hours."

"I think I've run out of adventures to tell her about," Luke lamented. Their two-and-a-half year old daughter was a constant joy, but she gained early on an imperious manner and a devious mind that envied her mother's. She particularly had a fondness for stories about her family, and would stop at nothing to get them.

"So have I . . . wait. Do you think our daughter would be interested in learning assassination techniques? It'd be the best way to tell her about her mommy's life."

Luke rolled his eyes. "Sure, Mar, just make sure you don't get any blood on our nice stone floor."

Mara laughed and left the room, and Jacen excused himself to tutor a struggling trainee. "Maybe throwing him off the temple will teach him levitation," he had grinned, winking.

"Charming family you've got there, Luke," remarked Corran, watching them leave.

"I'm blessed," he replied, only half-joking.

Corran smiled. "I know."

"Of course," added Luke, trying to add levity to the moment, "we have a lot in common. We're both Jedi who were born without knowing our true heritage, both Rogue Squadron pilots -- we both even married smugglers with attitudes. It's all rather alarming."

"Well, I think it's fate. The good kind."

"No other kind but that." They both raised their glasses in a toast.


"Rogue Four, swing your way starboard," said Lieutenant Jaina Solo into her comlink. "I think we'll have a nice, slow, looksee at that freighter over there."

Rogue Squadron had been doing patrol work at the border of the Borealis sector, near the site of the squadron's fateful battle prior to the invasion of Imperial Center. There had been reports of a burgeoning smuggling trade in the area, and the squadron's orders were to seize and detain any violators of the Republic's navigation laws.

The comm channel buzzed with static. "Rogue Five, this is Rogue Leader. What are you picking up, Jaina?"

"Not any numbers, yet," she replied, cautiously circling the freighter and studying the data displayed on her screen. "The amount of cargo in the holds seems normal for a ship that size and flight plan. It just doesn't *feel* right." Her R5, Mica, snorted in a derisive commentary of Jaina's intuition. Jaina ignored her.

She heard her commander hesitate. "Switch to my private channel, Five, and tell Four to keep an eye on the the freighter."

Obliging, Jaina rolled to port, leaving the suspect ship behind and scanning for newcomers. Corran continued on the private channel: "Lieutenant, I also sense that this freighter isn't exactly legitimate. But let the others handle it and focus on the ones coming in. They need the practice, anyway," he added, a little too quickly.

Jaina frowned as she continued her patrol route. "Does this have anything to do with the fact that this ship . . .um, the *Withering Water*, matches the description of one of Booster Terrik's ships? The *Alley's Gate*, I believe? It would be extremely bad luck for them to have a Jedi Knight as an inspector."

"Absolutely not, Lieutenant Solo," he replied, answering her first question. Jaina could imagine him shaking his head emphatically. "I know my duty, and I don't dole out favors when it comes to criminal activities."

"Well, then, with all due respect sir, why can't I follow my original orders?"

Corran sighed. "That's not all of our orders," he said mysteriously. "Tell Six to help Four with the seizure. You and I are going to make a little trip out to that cluster of ships over at about ten o'clock."

"Yes, sir," Jaina replied, her curiousity piqued.

"Trading vessels," Corran's voice suddenly boomed, "this is Commander Corran Horn of Rogue Squadron. Under the authority of the New Republic, I ask that you please state your interests in this sector."

The voice of the largest ship's captain came thin and nervous. "Commander, I assure you that we have legitimate cargo to deliver to Orein Station. That's all."

Jaina could not pick up any deceit in the captain's voice. What was Corran after? She *could* pick up another ship, seemingly unrelated to the others, making its way to Corran's and her positions. Something was up, and Jaina wanted to know what.


Corran did a slow cirle around the cluster. 'It's gotta be there somewhere,' he thought, concentrating his attention on the largest of the ships. 'C'mon, give me a sign.'

The ship was bulky and had command bubbles in the style of Mon Calamari cruisers, yet its nacelles jutted out in a disjointed fashion, signifying a patched-up hybrid that reminded Corran of the ever-present Uglies of the Correlian system. Like the Uglies, it didn't exactly exude a sense of power and strength; instead, it looked as though it would fall apart that very second. It obviously wasn't designed for cargo-hauling, but the pressing of unlikely ships into service had quickly become a common practice for merchants -- some sort of trend, Corran supposed.

Whistler signaled to Corran, and numbers began scrolling across the screen. He grinned. 'Gotcha'. Corran switched back to his private channel. "Jaina. See that patch of irregularities on the hull?"

Jaina's voice, frustrated, came through the channel. "Sir, the entire hull is covered by irregularities."

Corran smiled. "Yes, but look just to the left of the command center. See that patch that seems more densly clustered than the rest? Ask Mica to analyze it, and tell me what she finds."

A pause; and then a slow, long whistle. "Well, I'll be damned. It has a pattern to it."

"Even better, Lieutenant," said Corran, working up to the piece de resistance. "It has a veritable syntax. I asked Whistler to check for it." Jaina made a noise to interrupt, but Corran continued quickly. "Not right now, Jaina. We need to handle this first." He switched to the general comm. He felt uncomfortable with what he was about to do, but he had orders. 'And somehow, I need to get Jaina to help me with this.'

With immense concentration, he used the Force to contact her. He probably could do it alone, but he had never finished his training, and it had been many years since he truly applied his Force talents.

He knew that Jaina had a vague idea of what he was about to do, and knew that she wanted to object. But for some reason, she didn't voice those objections.

"Trader Captain," he commanded, "Power down your weapons and your shields, and prepare to be tractored."

The undentified ship that had been tracking Corran and Jaina positioned itself off to the side of the merchant vessel. "Commander Horn," came the merchant captain's voice, "you can't do this! I have violated no law!"

'Here goes . . .' Corran signaled to Jaina. Almost immediately, he felt more empowered through the Force-link with her. "Trader Captain," Corran said with confidence, "you will power down your weapons.'

"I will . . ."

"You will also power down your shields, and allow yourself to be tractored to our base."

"Shields. . . base." The captain had fallen under the power of the 'Jedi tricks' so derided by Imperials. Corran didn't like using this power on an innocent one bit. Like most Jedi, he believed in using it stringently, only when dealing with matters of galactic importance or of life and death. 'But I was specifically directed to make use of them, and for all I know, this could be a matter of galactic importance. Space knows enough time and elaborateness has been put into this operation to make it qualify.'

The New Republic ship latched onto the other with its tractor beam, and together, they made their way towards Rogue Squadron's base of operations on Borealis.


In one day, Luke had learned three things. Number one: Never mix paint, a two year old, and a Wookiee. 'Although, that was an interesting shade of blue that developed on Chewie's fur,' Luke mused. 'But it didn't look that wonderful when it rubbed off on Mara when she grabbed Ahna.' Which brought him to number two: never take both a two year old and a fiery ex-assassin on a trip together.

Luke's thoughts were interupted with the earpiercing squeal of an XS-52 guard droid. The droid warbled off a message about legal action, erected a Level 5 forcefield about the room it was protecting, then scurried away for backup.

In all fairness, the droid had never actually been threatened; it's warning system had been activated after a quarrel with an annoyed Mara Jade. Of course, Mara's reaction and the appearance of a lightsaber blade had made the noise grow even louder and even more alarmed.

Number three: Never mix a redhead, a lightsaber, and a jumpy guard droid.

"What in space is that?" cried Mara angrily, gripping her lightsaber tightly, in the wake of the droid's hurried exit.

Luke touched her shoulder cautiously. "I think you scared it."

Mara took a deep breath, and visibly calmed down. Shutting down her weapon, she grinned sheepishly at her husband. "Droids and I just don't mesh. What more can I say?"

Luke smiled quickly in response and nodded his head in the direction of a very nasty forcefield. "I think we can abandon our plan of sweet-talking that droid to let us into the mystery kid's quarters. I guess we'll have to go through normal channels."

"In my experience, the normal channels don't work within a government the size of this one. After fifteen years, I'm still getting used to the system," commented Mara as they walked down an ornate flight of stairs. Like most stairwells in the Imperial Palace, a guard stood at the end of every flight, and Mara coldly nodded to one as she passed. At this point, Luke surmised, she didn't feel like being civil to guards at this point -- droid or human.

Luke raised an eyebrow as they descended further, towards the Great Hall. "You're saying that the *Empire* wasn't bureaucratic?"

"Oh, it was," Mara replied, "But I didn't have to worry about the bureaucracy. I was the voice of the Emperor, or so I thought. But here, the only way I can get things done is to pull some strings, and with Leia out as president, Wedge out-of-system, and Gavrisom not able to tarnish his reputation because of his being on the campaign trail, I'm stuck. Information I can get. But actually getting into the kid's quarters to talk to him? Not happening."

"And Jaina and Corran are on deployment, which means that anyone who had talked to this young man, or who can get us in to talk to him, are not within our reach." Luke sighed. "Mara, this is something big. I can feel it."

Mara rolled her eyes, settling into what seemed to Luke to be her favorite pastime -- thumbing her nose at anything Luke believed in. "So the kid might've had a Force vision and saw the twins. Or it's all a hoax. Either way, I really don't think there's much need for concern. Prophetic visions of the 'night' can't help save anyone. They just let you know if something's coming. If this kid is right, something is happening, or it may not, since you always say that the future is in motion. Luke . . ."

Luke raised a hand to stop Mara's tirade. "Say that again."

"Say what?"

Luke scuttled down a flight of stairs and made a sharp turn to the right. "That sentence," he clarified, walking quicky. "Repeat that sentence about prophesy."

" 'Prophetic visions of the night'?"

"Yes," Luke confirmed, finally reaching the floor's library, "that's exactly it."


Mara drummed her fingers on the bas-relief sculpture perched on the desk next to her. The room smelled vaguely of leather and polished wood, and she had a sense of something else in the air. Antiquity? The library had existed since the days of the Old Republic. Mystery?

She kept rapping on the marble piece. 'Just old stuff. Old, like these stupid superstitions you have. That's what you sense.' Still, she felt rather nervous.

Next to her, Luke was staring intently into the computer console in front of him, as if all the answers he sought were stored on the blank screen. Sounding increasingly perturbed, he spoke again. "Okay. Let's try this again. Cross-reference Old Republic files on Jedi prophesy with references to darkness and visions of the night."

A hum, then words spat onto the screen:

Luke looked up at Mara with a sigh of defeat. She put her hands on his shoulders, massaging them. "Luke, what exactly are you looking for?" she asked softly.

He smiled thankfully up at her, and put his head in his hands. "I could have sworn that Yoda mentioned a prophesy to me that used the phrase, 'visions of the night.' When you said it . . .I guess I'm reading too much into it."

"Maybe not." Luke raised his eyebrows in surprise. "I know," she amended quickly, "I've been playing the skeptical one these past few days, but it's hard for me to hold stock in metaphysical Jedi beliefs. I've always been taught to look at the concrete. And then Palpatine always thought he could see the future . . ." She stopped. 'What am I afraid of,' she berated herself, 'Opening up?'

Thankfully, her thoughts were interrupted by a nervous young aide running into the room. "Sir!" he shouted a little too loudly into the quiet room. The aide's bulbous ears quivered with embarassment. More softly, he continued, "President Gavrisom needs to speak with you. About the 'mystery guest'. "

Luke and Mara looked at each other elatedly, but quizzically. "Well, my dear," Mara whispered, "you think ol' Puffers finally conceded to our request? I may be wrong about the New Republic bureaucracy after all."

"Idealism is key, my dear." The two of them stood up, spun on their heels, and marched out the door.



The young man fidgeted and shook his hands in front of him in spasms. His eyes were wild, and as large as saucers. They seemed to fly around the room as he focused on one point, then another. He spoke haltingly, and his voice shook. Then, the words came more quickly, more boldly.

"In . . . in darkness comes pinpoints of light. The light of knowledge falls on the poachers of lumbering giants. A piece of the mongrel holds the key. Believe! The children! The children!"

Mara turned away from the screen in disgust. "This", she spat, "is what we were brought in here for? 'Idealism is key' my . . . "

"Your foot, I know," Gavrisom finished for her. "Despite appearances, though, he really is valuable."

"I was planning to be a bit more graphic," Mara mumbled.

Luke turned to the dignified alien. "Let me talk to him," he suggested softly.

"The entire planet's gone insane!"

Luke ignored her and followed the Chief of State of the New Republic out the door. "By the way," he asked, "what made you decide to let me see him?"



"Well, I'll be . . ." Jaina trailed off in amazement as the General's presentation came to an end.

"So this is what we were after," Corran grunted.

The language analysis appeared on the large briefing-room screen, and the luminescent letters seemed to bristle ominously, warning of the ultimate death of all 'children of the light', of pain and suffering, of death and despair. "These are the prophetic visions of the night," it concluded.

General Wedge Antilles eyed the screen for a bit longer, and then flashed another image on the screen: a picture of a boy no more than 14 or 15 standard years old -- large eyes, and dark hair a careless mop. There was a hint of despair around him, Jaina mused.

"This," began Antilles, "is Rak. his name is about all we could get out of him, save for the fact that he is the self-appointed savior of all the Jedi children in the universe. Commander Horn, Lieutenant Solo, the two of you have already been given excerpts of Intelligence's discussion with him. Now, it's time for a little backtracking."


His name was Rak, he had quietly explained to the kind-looking Jedi-man. Not 'da kook,' as he had overheard himself being referred to as by the armed men outside the door. The other had told him to call him Luke. So he did. And Luke called him Rak.

He didn't know if anyone believed him, he told Luke. People kept trying to talk to him, but most didn't listen. He was at the point of giving up, he said.

Rak's head hurt from fatigue -- lack of sleep and too many visitors. But there was something about this Luke, some kind of charisma that compelled him to start talking.

So despite the headace, Rak struggled to recall the past that had brought him to the planet of gems, jail, and the Jedi.


As time passed, Luke learned more and more about the wild-eyed Rak. He was older than he looked; he had been born in the last months of the Empire. His mother had been an influential high-born member of the Emperor's court. She had had it all -- money, power, prestige. Although he had never known that life, he had seen holovids from the past that his mother had lovingly cached away. "She seemd to shine with a haughty glimmer with every step," Rak sighed, speaking as though an articulate Pandora's box had been sprung open in his mind. She had seemed destined for a life of luxury. "Or doomed to it," Rak put forth, almost as an afterthought.

Luke wondered who his father was. "That was one of the biggest questions of my life," answered Rak, reading his mind. Luke decided against saying anything, and just raised his eyebrow at his skilled use of the Force.

He had assumed that he was the child of some courtier or minor functionary, Rak continued, since his mother had told him nothing, signaling to him that she may have been embarrassed. When not paired with the topic of Rak's parentage, she had spoken often of her time on Imperial Center, and Rak had sadly contrasted the happiness of that young, radiant girl with the whithered woman that had raised him.

He had been raised on a backwater Rim world, where entire generations were born and died in crude adobe huts, toiling on land that belonged to no one and everyone to scrape together enough food to live, and not much more. Rak, however, wanted better.


Twelve pairs of ears waited eagerly for the briefing to continue, and Wedge took a deep breath.

"First," he began, "let me answer the question that I'm sure is on the minds of everyone here: Why is this kid so important? I agree, this whole prophesy sounds like something out of a holonovel, and I would have judged it as overly melodramatic if it hadn't been so serious. But what I have seen has lead me to believe that there is more here than what meets the eye.

"The first amazing thing about young Rak is how he was able to enter the Palace undetected. No one, and I repeat, *no one*, saw him enter the gates, walk into the Great Hall -- nothing. He isn't on any surveillance tapes. It's as if he didn't exist until he appeared out of nowhere, in front of me, and began screeching. I grabbed him, of course, instinctively, but there seemed to be no danger. I let him go, and he began pacing and mumbling, and I stood numb with shock, as if he had sedated me somehow, until the palace guards came to my assistance."

"Sounds like Force-ability to me," Jaina interjected. "Were his parents Force-sensitive?"

"Considering what I've seen, I'm not sure this guy *has* parents."


His mother -- Rhea was her name. "Rhea with the golden hair," Rak whispered, quoting an old folk song. Rhea had taken him aside one day, after Rak had come home from his apprenticeship.

"I was learning how to repair shoes. Not exactly rewarding work. Mother sat in front of the hut as I came home one day, with a slightly alarmed expression. I couldn't figure out what I had done. I was generally a mindful boy, although a bit restless."

Rhea had spoken to him in quick whispers. Worry had seemed to permeate her face. "Raki," she had spoken endearily, "dear, I have heard disturbing talk of your wanting to leave our world. Please, let me speak. I know you think nothing of it, but listen to me. You are never to take our life here for granted. Never! What life holds for you outside of the confines of this simple place is something I never would wish on you. If you ever end up like your fath --" She had stopped suddenly, realizing what she had been about to say.

"My father?" Rak had asked excitedly.

And that was the day that Rak had learned that his father was not a courtier, not a minor functionary. "My father was a Jedi Knight, Luke. One of the last, that is, before you." Rak spoke in a monotone. "Father-- I never even learned his name -- he had been trained in the days of the Old Republic. He was old, much older that Mother. His gift was prophesy, although my Mother didn't believe him at first. She didn't believe in the Force, like most people of her time."

"How in the world did your father end up meeting a member of the Emperor's Court?"

"Mother had taken a sabbatical to Goral, the very world I was raised on. Not exactly a hot spot for the aristocracy, but she was very interested in archaeology, and some very interesting ruins had been discovered there. Father was there for the same reason. He had had a vision, an apocalyptic vision, of forces from the past coming to destroy all future Jedi. Since this was during the time of the Jedi Holocaust, he was extremely concerned about the possibility of pockets of resisting Jedi to live on and overcome the Emperor's extermination problem, like he had.

Father had traced mentions of this vision in memoirs of past Jedi, and one man in particular had found out that the prophesy existed in written form at Goral. Well, not exactly written. The language of whatever ancient people the remnant belonged to consisted of raised bumps. One had to 'read' it by running one's fingers over it. What my father didn't know was that the object, previously known about only by Jedi, was recently uncovered by a group of scientists. It was at the dig site that my parents met."


"Sir, no offense intended, but why do we need to briefed on this situation? I guess I can understand why Jaina needs to know about it; she's a Jedi, and might be in danger if the Intelligence excerpts that the two of us saw are correct, but what of the rest of us?"

"Commander Horn, I can stand here and continue to tell you about how this mere boy shocked and amazed me. I can tell you about how he seemed to know my life story, and how he turned into pure light, just to prove that he was no hoax. Yes, it's the truth. Now that all of you have clearance, I am free to tell you -- this is no child. I don't know much about Jedi abilities, but I'm certain even Master Skywalker cannot do some of the things that Rak has.

But, I think it's more prudent to tell you what he has told *me*. Only me. He spoke to me at night, whispered in my dreams. Hard stuff for an old fighter like me to take. He had rambled on and on during the Intelligence briefings about 'lumbering giants' and 'mongrels' and 'pinpoints of light'. His talk was dismissed as the ravings of a delusional child. But at night, he would explain to me exactly what he meant. The mongrels and lumbering giants were ships; the pinpoints of light were stars. He gave me coordinates. And he warned me that the galaxy would be rid of Jedi forever if the ships fell into certain hands."

"Because one of the ships contained a prophesy," Jaina whispered. "General, could the prophesy contain a hidden message, a message that the wrong people could actually use to carry out the prophesy?"

"Yes. I've asked President Gavrisom to allow Master Skywalker to speak to Rak, to find out more about him. In turn, i've been instructed to retrieve this document at all costs, and to bring it to Coruscant. Only Rak knows how to destroy it."

"Destroy it?! It's a part of my heritage!"

"It's too dangerous, Jaina. Space knows we've seen enough evil in our galaxy. Can you imagine what we would experience without any Jedi to keep it in check?"


"My father saw her kneeling in the wake of the sun, with wonder written on her face as she stared at the ruins of Goral. She had learned from studying Old Republic texts that the people of Goral were supposed of been worshippers of evil. But she couldn't believe that the reports were true as she behold the beauty that they created. New Order texts backed her up. She was inclined to believe them.

Even Jedi are not immune to the effects of love, Luke. I hope you've learned that. Wonderful; you have. My father told my mother that he never had realized that he could have fallen in love until he met her. He had fallen hard, and my mother fell right along with him. They connected through their love of archaeology. My mother taught him how to read the language of the Goralians, and he, perhaps foolishly, taught her about the Jedi. It is a credit to love that this member of the Emperor's Court did not even flinch at the heresy that Father was speaking."

Luke sat entranced. "How long were they together?"

"Two years. Mother went back to Coruscant, of course, but they met secretly every few weeks. I was born about a year-and-a-half into their dalliance. Father was busy at the time, unlocking the secrets of the ruins. He eventually discovered the prophesy, and arranged to steal it one night. And over the period of two years, he managed to hide it, as he attempted to learn how to destroy it. You see, it had a specific time that it was to be implemented. Now. But only the spirits of Goral could carry it out. And only with instructions -- instructions that no one can understand but them. It is too dangerous to be allowed to exist. Last month, I felt something. The spirits of Goral had become corporeal again. And they would do anything to retrieve their treasure."

"Where is it hidden?"

"It's not buried; it's not locked up in a vault. It is hidden, rather exposed, in such a mundane place that one would not even think to look for it there. But not to worry. All has been taken care of."

"Sir," a young guard interrupted. "Rogue Squadron has contacted us. They have retrieved what they were looking for, and are bringing it to Coruscant, guarding it with their lives."

Rak looked straight into Luke's eyes, some of the quiet wildness entering back into his face. "The time has come."


Jaina sighed tiredly as she paced on the Cruiser. "I hate escort duty. I'm almost willing to spend this whole trip in my X-Wing rather than sit around, waiting to be called into action. At least I'd be flying."

Corran smiled. "What's really bothering you Jaina?"

"Tell me straight, Corran. Do you really think that we Jedi can be just wiped out without warning because of some old guy who wrote down a few words on a metal slab of something that later became the hull of a merchant ship? How ridiculous does that sound to you?"

A laugh. "The way you tell it, very ridiculous. But Jaina, I may not have finished my training, but even I recognize that the Force is chock-full of unexplainable things. We just have to have faith in it, that's all."

Jaina glanced at him ruefully. "One reason I went into the New Republic Navy rather than into teaching at the Academy was so that I could base my faith the ablities of myself and my commanders, rather than on something that I couldn't understand."

Corran got quiet. "One thing I've learned, Jaina, is that you can run away from the elements of your life, but you never can hide. The Force is part of you. And it's a part of me. We're Jedi, Jaina, and being top-ace pilots won't nullify that."

He put his arms around her. "Now," he spoke forcefully, "let's go, or you'll miss the meal I've cooked for everyone."

Jaina looked up. "Promise?"

"Very funny."

"I try."


"What happened to your father, Rak?"

Rak sighed. "A few months after I was born, Father came to retreive Mother and me. He had finally learned how to destroy the document, and only had to get it from it's hiding place. He wanted to take us away from the Empire before the gorrt spit hit the rancor, so to speak. Naturally, things didn't go exactly to plan. The other Jedi I spoke of? The one who traced the prophesy to Goral? His name was Anakin Skywalker. Your father. The one who later became known as Darth Vader.

Vader had smelled a rat long before Father ever came to get us. But he had kept quiet, opting to tail my mother before actually speaking to the Emperor. Finally, though, he broke his silence.

As my mother swaddeled me in blankets and prepared to leave under the cover of the night, a woman stopped us. She was cold, with high-set cheekbones and a mane of red hair. My mother had known her as Harel, a member of the Emperor's dancing troupe. But as she looked at her, she realized that she actually knew nothing about her.

Harel, or whatever her name was, motioned with her blaster for Mother to sit in the corner of the dark alley, the alley in which she was to meet my father. And together, they waited for Father to show up. Mother never could understand why Father didn't detect the deception right away. I guess Harel was Force sensitive. She *was* sent by the Emperor."

Luke shifted uncomfortably. "Did you ever learn exactly who Harel was?"

Rak glanced at him curiously. "No," he slowly answered.

"Oh. Okay. Please, continue."

"Um, anyway, she naturally used the imminent danger to my mother and me as an incentive for my father to give up the location of the document. He refused. Harel threatened to kill my mother and to leave me for Palpatine. And when she pointed her blaster at us, he . . ." Rak choked up. "He ran in front and sacrificed his life for us. It seemed that the secret of the prophesy died with him. What no one knew, and what I realized only while hearing my mother's story, was that my father had transferred his knowledge, his life, into my brain.

Harel took us to Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine tortured my mother, and probed my brain. I guess he suspected, but he found nothing. Mother said I fell into a listless slumber. The information must've been too well hidden. That day, unknown to anyone, I died. Only my father lived through me, repressing his memories. Even now, I do not have access to all of his consciousness. The mental equivalent of a need-to-know program, I imagine.

The day I found out about my father, his memories were reawakened in me. And I discovered my abilities.

I would have left Goral that day, but I could not leave my mother. So instead, I devoured all I could about Jedi and prophesy, and I switched my apprenticeship from shoe repair to piloting. And the day my mother died, I left to fulfill Father's mission."

There was a knock on the door behind the sound partition. The guard slowly opened the door, and Mara entered, with a curious expression on her face.

"Rogue Squadron's here. With something big. There's a lot of secrecy around here, too. What's going on, Luke?"

"Well, we were just about to get to exactly how Rak here ended up on Coruscant, and how Wedge ended up looking for that 'big thing' that just arrived. By the way, have you met Rak?" Luke reached for Mara, bringing her closer.

"We've met," Rak answered softly.

Luke paused mid-stride. 'Oh, no,' he thought with dread. 'I almost forgot.'

Mara wrinkled her forehead. "Kid, I've seen you on tape, but that's about it. Although I've gotta say, you seem a lot more coherent now then when you were going on about children and giants."

"I've had to act incoherent," Rak answered, almost angrily, "That is the only way I can hope to keep the Goralians off my tail."

Luke noted that the guard, no longer confined by a sound barrier, seemed to perk up. 'Hours of monotony finally broken by some interesting conversation,' he guessed.

"Rak," Luke said, hoping against hope that he could prevent the conflict that was sure to arise, "this is my lovely wife, Mara. She's been helping me piece this puzzle together."

"That's odd," spoke Rak. "I've always assumed that she was a piece of the puzzle herself. Luke, this woman killed my father."

"Okay, the coherence just left him again. Can this kid ever make sense?"

"Mara . . ." Luke warned.

"You want me to make sense? You try to make sense of murder! Think back, *Mara*. Think back to when you called yourself *Harel* Oh, am I starting to sound coherent again, Mara? A dark alley, twenty three years ago. My father came to rescue my mother and me from a life of glittering decadence. You pointed a gun at the two of us -- and I was just a baby! Think back, murderer. Do you remember now? Or did you kill too many people in your lifetime to be able to place me?"

Silence ensued, broken finally by Jaina, looking harried after her long journey. "Aunt Mara, Uncle Luke, we need the two of you at the landing field."

"Okay, we'll be there in a second," Luke quietly replied. Jaina hesitated, then nodded and walked off.

Mara still had not said a word. Luke had half expected her to shrug the incident off, regarding it as past woes. That's the way she had acted when she had quietly informed Leia that she was ordered to assassinate Luke.

But fifteen-odd years could do a lot to a person. Mara seemed in shock as she stood there, searching her memory.


The landing field was a flurry of activity. Corran ran around shouting orders to his pilots, attempting to secure the valuable piece of metal, while Wedge paced around waiting for the two people who possibly could tell him what to do with it.

One of those people finally showed up. "President Gavrisom," Wedge shouted with relief, "just the guy I need. What do you want me to do?"

"Actually, you're doing everything you need to be doing," he shouted over the din. "Keep trying to clear the area of non-essential personnel. I want only briefed people in this field. I ran into young Jaina Solo on the way over here. She said that Skywalker will be here in a few minutes. I told her to go back and tell him to hurry, and to bring the kid with him. If we want to destroy this thing, we need to do it now."

They finally arrived, Luke quietly, Rak angrily, with a shaken Mara and an intruiged guard in tow. 'I wonder what happened in that room?' Wedge thought, 'Ah, well, no time now. I'll get the scoop from Luke later.'

Rak spoke first. "Everybody out. Especially you," he said, turning to Mara.

Mara just looked back at him, wordlessly.

"Rak," Luke said softly, "Mara's a trained Jedi Knight. If you're going to do what I think you're going to do, you need to have *both* of us here. I can't alone focus your power on the thing."

Rak looked at him increduously. "A Jedi Knight? *Her?*"

"Rak, people change. Lives change. You know that. Please. We need her."

"Only if the guard stays too. I need to protect myself . . . Come to think of it, I need to protect my *father*. He lives inside of me, therefore, we are one and the same. I will not be in the same room as his killer without a guard."

Luke nodded and motioned for the two of them to come foward. "Mara, I need you to come over here so I can explain to you what to do. Guard, I need you to ... to guard."


Mara, having the most disciplined mind, was chosen to actually channel Rak's power into the metal slab. Rak and Luke were to slip into a specific mind-pattern, the pattern that his father had spent years to learn, and that only Masters had ever accomplished successfully. If one of them collapsed during the procedure, the other would be there to take over.

They began. Power seemed to surge between Rak and Mara, and the metal slab glowed intensly. For a brief moment, Mara chuckled with amusement. Such simplicity, such a brief period of time, for such an important task that took such an arduous time to actually set up. It almost seemed as if a beginning writer had had an epic saga written in her mind, but then decided to wrap everything up to be able to eat dinner. 'The Force must be a writer,' Mara thought cynically.

Portions of the slab begin to disappear. "Where is it going?" Luke asked in amazement.

"Where it belongs," answered Rak. "To oblivion."

With that, the guard let out a strangled cry, and removed his blaster from the holster. "Not if I can help it," he growled. "You wanted to throw the Goralians off your track? We're smarter than you think." He aimed at Rak.

His Force-flow broken, Rak leapt at the guard, and began a struggle for the blaster. Luke had no choice but to continue Rak's work. "If you ever stop the process," Rak had told him, "we will never stop the prophecy."

The guard, realizing that he had only one shot before the whole section of the palace would be alerted, and realizing that killing either Rak or Luke would do no good if the other could take over, suddenly aimed for the channeler. "No!" Luke shouted, as a blaster bolt leapt toward Mara. But he could do nothing.

Rak threw himself in front of the bolt.


"Knock,knock," Luke spoke quietly. He came up beside his wife, put his arms around her. "She's beautiful, isn't she?"

They stood looking at Ahna, sleeping peacefully in her bed, dreams of third birthdays and dolls and teddy bears dancing in her head. Blonde hair framed her face, and her eyelids fluttered every now and then, revealing striking green orbs.

"Twenty-three years ago," Mara spoke softly, with difficulty, "twenty-three years ago I could have caused the destruction of all this. Destruction of innocence, of our lives, of the life of our Jedi child. I killed the very man that eventually saved our lives. And his son saved mine."

"You've never really confronted your past, have you."

"Oh, I have. But back then, I still was not what I am today. A Jedi. A wife. A *mother*. I thought I knew everything, Luke. But I'm starting to realize that I really know nothing at all."

Luke thought back to the day he sat in the rain at Yavin IV, trying to figure out the meaning of his life, trying to understand why there wasn't any more to learn or experience. He too was wrong.

"There's so much to learn," he whispered.