With Les’ departure, the apartment seemed to settle into a peace that was slightly less uneasy. Mark and Janet stood in the living room, now lit with a single lamp by the door, staring blankly at the door after their wayward Jedi was taken away so suddenly in the night.
The question was not an easy one. Les, his eyes fixed on the featureless silver mask, knew the warrior behind it would accept nothing short of truth drawn from the deepest well of his soul. He took a long moment to reflect on those depths before forming his answer.
We are far, far more than the sum of our experiences. We are the sum total of the impact of the experiences of our teachers, our leaders, our parents and friends, of the trails we’ve lived through and the bottomless well of emotions we all feel.
– Karinlyyn Bridger Kel-Solan, Auyn Warmistress
Senses on high alert, Les started down the path.
Unlearn everything Jinx taught him? Unlearn everything? He wondered what that could mean, and what lay in store for him.
Down in the bowels of the Illuminator, Slate Bridger leaned his head back against a bulkhead, eyes closed, listening to the sounds of a ship in combat. His rifle rested against his thigh, one gloved hand wrapped around the upper half of its barrel. He took a deep, almost meditative breath and exhaled it slowly.
There was darkness. Before, there had been fire, and pain, but now there was only darkness.
No more words came until he was in the speeder and she was behind the wheel, racing away from the house. Every time he even tried to speak she simply held up a hand to forestall commentary. Once they had turned safely onto the roadway outside of the Wyler’s residence on Xenen, Tag cleared her throat, eyes intent on the road before them, her voice even—but barely.
So wrapped in his musings that he’d let situational awareness slide, Tag caught Les unawares. Realizing that he’d been caught off his guard, he flew to his feet with surprising quickness, pulling his saber to him through the Force so that it reached his hand before his feet hit the floor, but he stopped short of snapping it on, realizing at the same time just who it was that had invaded his room. All at once he locked the things he’d been turning over in his mind into a safe place; and as they faded from the fore of his thoughts and he looked his new mentor in the eye, all that they had discussed in her office that day as well as his honest and bare plea for help flooded his mind. He felt color rise to his cheeks, and he had to catch himself from casting his gaze elsewhere.
“How do the feeds from Aten-Re look?”
That was it. No preamble. No good morning, no admiral on deck. Indy was suddenly there, in the dim of base ops’ night watch. Nylan was too tired to even feign surprise. He was getting too old, Jedi or not, for these thirty-six hour days.
Janet awoke with a start and a gasp. Trembling, she sat up and reached for the lamp, but as the dream that had disturbed her sleep ebbed into reality, she thought better of it. Beside her Mark stirred and resettled on his side, his breathing evidence that his slumber hadn’t been interrupted. She watched him for a while, envying him that everlasting optimism that permitted sleep. Things, she knew, didn’t always turn out, no matter how much time would eventually go by. Cross the galaxy to and fro forever and nothing would ever cloud over the pulling the trigger on one of her oldest and dearest friends, or dispel the memory of the darkness seeded in the eyes of the son she had killed for. Nothing could ever make it better, make it all right. Nevertheless, if she could feel his arms around her, the steady and reassuring pounding within his chest – resting there, she could forget. For just a little while. Reaching out a hand to touch Mark’s shoulder, she almost did, but withdrew before making contact. Tears filled eyes already stinging from lack of sleep. Hadn’t he already been put through enough? The guilt was hers – it was a burden she had taken on herself upon drawing the weapon and ending the Jedi’s life. His life for Les. She had handed her only son a second chance, and yet…oh Jinx….
OOC Note ~ Soundtrack to Battle of Aten-Re I: Agnus Dei
Astronomers were never quite in agreement on how to classify the Aten-Re star system; most called it binary, though a not insignificant minority disagreed. Aten, the system primary, was clearly enough a Class B blue giant. Re, the system secondary, provide something of a quandary. Depending on the astronomer, Re was alternately classified as a large Jovian with rocky moons, or a smallish Class M brown dwarf with rocky worlds. The fact that Re tended to lose and gain mass over a twenty year cycle, depending on how close it was to Aten, merely confused the matter.