A/N: Soooooo... Been a while. What can I say, the state of the country put me off being creative. The Last Jedi pulled my muse back, so here we are.
I don't own Star Wars. I'd have sold it to the Mouse by now.
Tahiri sat on her bunk, knees hugged to her chest, staring at the wall. She was drawing long, ragged breaths, and her eyes appeared haunted. Her whole demeanor being one of a person on the edge of a breakdown. It was not far from the truth. Tahiri Veila, Jedi Knight, was on the verge of completely losing control of her emotions.
Her poor control shamed her. She prided herself on her ability to remain unaffected; to be the calmest, most collected member of any team she was a part of. She had worked hard for it. To master the hot rage and vicious joy of the Yuuzhan Vong side of her brain; to temper it with the serenity of the Jedi. She knew she would never be a Jedi master. She was talented, yes, but her talents leaned in far too violent a direction for her to ever be accepted as an elite; Even the greatest warriors of the Jedi order possessed innumerable other skills with the Force. If it could not be used to hurt someone, Tahiri was not much good at it.
Tahiri was well aware that the only reason most of the order did not think she was a dark Jedi was her mastery of her emotions. She did not simply appear cool, calm, and collected at all times, she was. The years she had spent making peace with herself and her circumstances were her greatest pride. She had even reached a point where the bubbly friendliness of her youth had mostly returned in earnest; she almost never had to fake it anymore. Even Master Skywalker was impressed with what she had accomplished: He had asked Tahiri to come speak at the Academy about emotional mastery when she could spare the time! So why was she, the Order's rock, desperately fighting a breakdown like a weepy teenager in a holodrama?
There was only one thing, she knew, that could do this to her. Only one thing that ever could. The reason she had gained that emotional control in the first place. Anakin. Her best friend. Her first love. The single great loss of her life. The man who inexplicably appeared to be sleeping on the other side of the ship.
It was impossible. Anakin was dead. She felt him die. She saw his corpse. She saw the way it tore his family up. He could not still be alive. He could not. That was not the way her life worked. It took things away from her, and she grew stronger. She did not get things back.
As she brooded, Tahiri became vaguely aware that someone was standing in the door of her cabin. She reached out with the Force, not yet willing to move from her angst cocoon.
"What do you want, Klin-Fa?" Tahiri bit out, her desire to be left alone explicit in her tone of voice.
Klin-Fa Gi did not react to Tahiri's hostility, save to shoot the slightly younger woman a brief withering look.
"Mar Rin says that Anakin-"
"That thing is not Anakin!" Tahiri interrupted viciously, her reply close to a snarl.
"Fine. Mar Rin says that that guy will probably wake up soon. I just wanted to let you know, in case you wanted to be there, get some answers." Klin-Fa finished, trying her best to keep irritation out of her voice. She was willing to put up with a bit of attitude from Tahiri, in light of the shock she had received, but the last day of surly behavior out of the girl was grinding on her nerves. Unlike Tahiri, Klin-Fa was not an expert in controlling her emotions.
"I don't ever want to look at that abomination again." Tahiri ground out.
Klin-Fa sighed. "Look, it's another four days to Ossus. You're stuck on the ship with him anyway. Just come. Maybe you can get some closure." she said.
Truthfully, Klin-Fa was worried about Tahiri. The instant she had seen the face of the rescued captive, she had retreated within herself, becoming sullen and impossible to deal with.
"I had closure. Anakin is dead. I made my peace with that. Whatever the Yuuzhan Vong did to make that thing is an insult to his memory." Tahiri spat, but began to unfold herself even as she said it. She scooted to the side of her bunk and stood, making a long feline stretch and wincing slightly as she heard her back and shoulders pop. She had been sitting there for longer than she thought.
Tahiri made for the door, but was blocked by the now smiling Klin-Fa.
"So you ARE curious!" Klin-Fa said, a slightly evil smirk creeping across her face. Tahiri colored briefly.
"Shut up. Lets go before I change my mind."
"What changed your mind just now?" Klin-Fa asked.
"I've moped in here long enough. Now I want to know why that thing exists." Tahiri looked the taller woman in the eye. "Hopefully it knows."
Mar Rin looked down at the slumbering form of her patient. The man had shifted from unconsciousness to sleep several hours previous, and she was making final preparations for a potentially violent awakening. She checked the wrist, ankle, and waist restraints, making sure they were secure, checked his vitals, and sat back to wait.
Tahiri's reaction to the man troubled Mar Rin. She had only been eighteen standard years old when the war ended, and had volunteered to go with the Jedi almost immediately. Tahiri had been her partner for most of the time since then, and Mar Rin believed that they were friends, as far as she understood the term. She had thought she knew the Jedi well, but her revulsion with the man was alien to Mar Rin. Tahiri liked everybody. Well, mostly. But Mar Rin had never known Tahiri to hate anyone. She definitely seemed to hate this man.
It was a puzzle to Mar Rin as to why though. It could not be the tattoos or scars; Tahiri had scars of her own, and had never seemed to even notice the tattoos of other ally Yuuzhan Vong they had worked with. His being a male was also not it, Tahiri had expressed appreciation for many males in the past, and males of several different species. Several women too, for that matter. Perhaps he was an unattractive male? Mar Rin did not understand what made a human attractive to another human, beyond hair color and voice, they all looked basically the same to her.
Her thoughts were interrupted as Uldir walked into the infirmary. He glanced at the man on the table and did a slight double take.
"Hello captain. May I assist you with something?" Mar Rin said. She had hardly interacted with the man, preferring to dig through the captured shaper's data to figure out what had been done to her patient. Intellectual puzzles were much preferable to human (in this case) interaction.
Uldir was still staring at the man on the table. "Son of a Sith. He really does look like Anakin." He muttered to himself, but not so softly Mar Rin could not hear him; Yuuzhan Vong ears were quite sharp.
"He resembles Anakin... Solo?" Mar Rin asked. Uldir nodded in affirmation. Mar Rin suddenly understood Tahiri's behavior.
Tahiri did not talk about Anakin Solo much. Mar Rin knew the Yuuzhan Vong propaganda about him of course, and Tahiri had corrected her whenever she said something about the fallen Jedi that was inaccurate, but the conversation ended there. Tahiri never brought him up on her own. Mar Rin assumed that Tahiri had cared for the Jedi, based on the story of Solo and Vua Rapuung's rescue of her, but having never met Solo before, she could never know.
"Did you know Anakin Solo as well, captain?" Mar Rin asked, hoping to learn more about the man who affected her friend so deeply.
Uldir gave her a sad smile. "I did. Back when I thought all it took to be a Jedi was wanting it." He said, clearly nostalgic. "Anakin and Tahiri were the best friends a guy could have. Never told me I couldn't do it. They had to know it was impossible."
"Of course we did." Came a voice from the door. "We just didn't want you to leave."
Uldir and Mar Rin turned to watch Tahiri enter the lab. She smiled and looked them both in the eye, but Mar Rin could see her carefully not looking at the man on the table. She crossed the room and settled in the corner, as far from the man as she could physically get. Klin-Fa followed Tahiri through the door and exchanged a look with Uldir. He nodded in understanding.
"Well," He said, turning to Tahiri. "I appreciate it. Feeding my delusions aside, going to Yavin was the best decision I ever made."
"That's just because your connections to the Order have landed you a high paying job and a pretty girlfriend." Tahiri shot back at him, her eyes closed and a smirk on her face. Uldir and Klin-Fa's faces colored. The pair sputtered denials; their relationship was not like that, they swore. Tahiri just laughed.
Mar Rin cleared her throat as the noise died down. "I hate to interrupt your fun, but the prisoner will awaken soon, and I want to tell everyone what I discovered from the shaper's data before he does." She said, inputting the proper data into the holo display.
Although the war was over, most Yuuzhan Vong still abhorred technology and only used it with great reluctance, if at all. Owing to her age, Mar Rin had conquered her bias more easily, and her comfort with galactic equipment had been a large part of her being assigned by the Jedi as Tahiri's partner.
The two Jedi and the ship captain all stood and moved to the display. Mar Rin activated it, and lines of Yuuzhan Vong text and several diagrams appeared above the projector.
"Alright Mar Rin, What have you got?" Tahiri said, having switched back into her 'all business' mode.
"Of course." The young Yuuzhan Vong began. "The information Mr. Kosigan gave you was accurate, Tahiri. Records indicate that the patient was comatose for two years, incoherent for approximately six months, and resistant once he regained his wits. After the deal Mr. Kosigan described, experimentation began in earnest. Using your shaping as a base, The shapers implanted a false life. New memories, new name, new training. It seems like they were trying to completely over write who he was before, and hope he would retain his connection to the Force, after the attempt to merge your old and new life failed, Tahiri."
"Well, it didn't exactly fail. Tahiri was just more dominant than Riina, so I mostly stayed myself." Tahiri said. "Though I guess these shapers had no way to know that."
"Quite." Said Mar Rin. "Their notes indicate that initial personality removal was successful."
"Personality removal?" Klin-Fa said, aghast at the thought.
"Yes. The procedures described are to wipe the mind of all memories, followed by the implantation of a complete new set. The implantation was only sixty-five percent complete when we interrupted." Mar Rin continued.
"Sixty-five? This guy's been here for years." Tahiri interrupted. "How did we manage to interrupt them?"
Mar Rin gave her friend a small smile. "You must remember, Tahiri. The shapers who worked on you were geniuses, the top of the field. These shapers... well... were not. Working off incomplete notes, I'm surprised they were even as far as they were." she said.
Klin-Fa winced. Having shapers work on you was still a big nightmare for a lot of galactic citizens, and after Tahiri and Jacen Solo's experiences, Jedi were especially wary of it. Incompetent shapers... that was something she found especially terrifying.
"If the procedure was going so badly, why do you think this guy's about to wake up?" Tahiri jerked her head towards the table. Mar Rin pointed to the holo-display.
"There. The brainwave patterns are consistent with someone who is exiting unconsciousness. He may not be awake for long, but I assumed you would like to at least ask him a few questions." She said, looking at Tahiri with face that looked far too innocent to not be intentional.
Tahiri rolled her eyes and looked toward the wall with a huff. Uldir and Klin-Fa giggled. Uldir had heard that Tahiri had become a bit withdrawn from the rest of the Jedi order, and he was glad that she seemed to retain at least one friend who could still draw some childishness out of her. War changed everyone, but Uldir had trouble seeing Tahiri as anything other than the nine year old motormouth he had first met, and any hint of that little girl shining through made him happy.
"Well, he better wake up soon." Tahiri bit out, still refusing to look at the man. "You're right. I do have questions, starting with how he got that face."
As if to oblige her, the brain activity monitor spiked. All eyes shot to the table. The man was awake. He looked quickly around at each occupant of the room, until his gaze landed on Tahiri. He stared at her with wide, blood red eyes.
Shaahol Rapuung awoke in confusion. There was no pain.
Being strapped to the table did not bother him; he could not remember a time when he had not been bound in some way. But he was not in the Embrace of Pain. He was not in the proving room, thorn-ed shackles around his ankles. He was not asleep, enduring the mental assault of the Voice. He was not connected to the shaper's instruments, small barbs providing constant discomfort as he was questioned and studied and asked to remember. He was promised battle and death if he could remember. He could never remember.
Not being in pain unnerved him. He knew he should worship pain. Bathe in it. Use it to fuel his fury and lust for battle. Every moment of his life that he could remember, there had been pain; now that it was gone, he felt a bit happy.
The thought repulsed him. Enjoying a lack of pain was an insult to the gods, not the proper mentality of a Yuuzhan Vong warrior! But many things about Shaahol Rapuung were not proper for a Yuuzhan Vong warrior. He longed to know what had happened to him, what injury had caused his body to shrink in size. What offense he committed for his implants to be taken; for his flesh to discolor in such a revolting way. Why had the gods cursed him with a disgusting human face? Why had he not been allowed to damage it? He longed to carve into it – to split his lips, to scar his forehead and cheeks, to apply the tattoos that were his birthright. He felt wrong without them.
The vague haze of his mind conjured a half memory of having them once; of having a proud, proper warriors body. The shapers had allowed him to reapply his tattoos and sacred brands as long as he did not touch the human face. He praised the gods for that allowance, he feared he would have gone mad without such an outlet. Pain self-applied was so much sweeter.
The weakness of his memory brought him shame. His childhood was strong. Memories of his creche on the Worldship, of a youth learning the ways of his people came to him easily, but arrival in this galaxy, the war, the Jeedai, these things remained frustratingly vague and out of reach. Any time he tried to pray to the gods to return his memories, he heard the Voice.
The Voice was the bane of Shaahol Rapuung existence. It prevented him from properly worshiping the gods. It made him unable to concentrate during the shapers tests; failure after failure of routine tasks caused by momentary interruptions of concentration. It caused his hands to waiver when performing executions, subtly infecting his thoughts with attacks of conscience.
Most galling of all was the face of the Voice. It had his face. His true face. A fierce Yuuzhan Vong warrior, tall and strong appeared in his mind's eye, the glorious perfection marred only by a pair of ice-blue eyes incongruously resting in the sockets. Shaahol Rapuung's anger began to rise simply thinking of the Voice, imagining the arrogant smirk that perpetually twisted his true face's visage. The Voice in His body had none of the proper warrior's grace or poise; muscles that should be tightly coiled, tense and ready for battle at a moments notice always appeared to him lax, relaxed in a way that no Yuuzhan Vong warrior would ever allow themselves to be. He hated the Voice. It's mockery of what Shaahol Rapuung longed to be once more drove him to distraction.
The shapers could tell, he knew. They never confronted him about his performance dips – they simply made some notes and punished him. They told him that he was not meeting expectations; it would be yet more time before he could join his brethren on the field of battle. That he needed to remember what he had done during the war. Apparently, he had unique experience that would allow the Yuuzhan Vong to return and emerge triumphant, if only he could remember.
Shaahol Rapuung hated the shapers. Lacking pain, he found his thinking clearer than he could ever remember it being. The Voice was also silent for the moment. He opened his eyes, prepared to unleash his grievances upon the shapers.
He was met with a bright light. After the surprise of the brightness subsided, he turned his head to where the shapers should have been, only to see an unfamiliar young shaper fiddling with infidel technology. The blasphemer noticed his awakening, her head moving from whatever she had been looking at before. Shaahol Rapuung seethed. Blasphemy or no, having another Yuuzhan Vong see his deplorable body caused him unending shame.
He followed the traitor's (for any Yuuzhan Vong who would debase themselves by using machines was a traitor) eye line to discover three infidels observing him as well. He's shame grew as his rage mounted. How dare these lesser beings see his pathetic state. And such pathetic looking infidels. The male was tall and thin, his weak frame displaying none of the power of a proper warrior that the infidel weapon on his hip implied that he was.
The woman beside him had the stance of a proper warrior. Her eyes were suspicious, guarded, and glinting with just a hint of fear. Shaahol Rapuung took pleasure with her reaction. The dark-haired woman clearly understood that he was dangerous, as it should be. All who beheld him should tremble with fear and respect. He almost smiled, but his eyes dropped to the weapon clipped to the woman's belt and he stopped cold. A lightsaber. Jeedai.
Memories swirled through his mind. Seeing the results of the Jeedai massacres of Yuuzhan Vong children and slaves. Engaging the Order in great battles across many planets, cutting them down one by one on the march to inevitable victory. Standing shoulder to shoulder with his comrades, blocking amphistaff blows intended for refugees, desperate to... wait. Shaahol Rapuung felt the headache building. The Voice was back, trying to fill his head with lies. The Jeedai were enemies. Never comrades. Certainly not whatever friends were. He forcibly silenced the Voice before turning to face the room's final occupant.
The diminutive blonde woman was glaring at Shaahol Rapuung with a severity that he found impressive. Her foul mood was only more pronounced by the Yuuzhan Vong-style scars adorning her forehead. He froze. His eyes widened as he took in all the details of the woman. The scars, the lightsaber, blonde hair, small even for an infidel. Memories flooded into him unbidden.
This infidel, younger and even smaller, smiling, laughing, running. Charging into battle, roaring a Yuuzhan Vong war cry as she cut down Jeedai. Now Yuuzhan Vong warriors. The scene of battle flickered in his mind, the infidel girl seemingly switching sides by the second. Finally, he recalled the lessons the shapers forced upon him, telling him of the enemies his strange amnesia had hidden in the fog of his mind. He knew this infidel now. The Jedi-who-was-shaped. Mezhan Kwaad's folly.
He met the infidel's eyes, his own, wide with surprise, narrowed to disgust filled slits.
"Tahiri Veila." He bit out.
Shaahol Rapuung basked in the feeling of delight that her reaction filled him with. Today might be a good day after all.
Tahiri's heart stopped.
Hearing her name cross the lips of that parody of Anakin Solo was bad enough. That would have only annoyed her. But it had his voice. Hearing her name, in that voice, was almost too much for her to bear. She felt everything; the anger, the hurt, the despair, everything about Anakin's death that she had been working through or suppressing surged forth and enveloped her. It took every ounce of her considerable control to keep from lashing out at the imposter. She knew that all of the emotions had played across her face, but she honestly could not care. This mockery of Anakin had crossed a line, and Tahiri knew she had made the correct decision in coming here. She needed to know why it existed.
Regaining her emotional equilibrium, Tahiri glared at the man.
"How do you know my name?" She demanded, her voice coming out raw and scratchy. A terrible, very un-Anakin grin spread across the man's face.
"The shapers made sure I knew of you, Tahiri Veila, so that I might avoid your failures." the man said. Everyone froze. The reply had come in Yuuzhan Vong. The question had been asked in Basic.
Mentally skipping over the disconnect of hearing the Yuuzhan Vong language in Anakin's voice, Tahiri decided to attack this development.
"You understand Basic well enough. Why speak in Yuuzhan Vong?" She said, unable to keep an edge out of her voice. She was past the point of disguising her disgust about the man, but she did not really care if he thought she was rude or not.
"Why should I debase myself by speaking the infidel tongue? You and the Shamed One understand me. It will suffice." He said. The surprise had fled his face, and a perverse look of satisfaction had replaced it.
"It hardly matters anymore, but I'm not a Shamed One." Mar Rin interjected.
"There are no Shamed Ones anymore." Tahiri said. "The treaty saw to that." Both women took satisfaction in the look of confusion that crossed the man's face.
"Treaty? The Yuuzhan Vong would never sign a treaty! Victory or death!" the man roared. Mar Rin let out a small snort; she had always found the short tempers of warriors amusing, and this man seemed almost like a holo-net parody of warrior. All the worst stereotypical traits were present; none of the virtues were apparent.
"No matter what you feel, There is a treaty. The Yuuzhan Vong went to war, and we lost." Mar Rin said, looking to her instruments instead of the man.
"Lucky for you, the New Republic has a lot more mercy that the Vong." Uldir added, moving to lean against the wall and crossing his arms.
"Yuuzhan Vong." Tahiri corrected absently. The man returned his attention to her.
Klin-Fa adopted Uldir's pose beside him. "I didn't know you spoke Yuuzhan Vong." She whispered to him.
"I don't," he shot back, equally quietly. "Context clues. He clearly understands us, may as well get my digs in. That guy creeps me out."
Klin-Fa nodded and grunted in agreement. The pair turned their attention to the stare down between the man and Tahiri.
She broke the silence. "Point is, whatever you are, your side lost. That outpost we pulled you off of was the last major point of resistance. You've got nothing. No home, no friends, no allies." Tahiri's voice was ice. Her words were cruel, and unbecoming of a Jedi knight, but seeing the wild, violent look the man was pulling with Anakin's face had set her nerves on edge.
A faraway look appeared in the man's eyes.
"The Force is my ally." He said quietly, in Basic. The angry look returned.
Tahiri's blood ran cold. She could feel her pulse in her face as her heart threatened to beat out of her chest. THAT had sounded exactly like Anakin. She could feel her shock melting into a fresh wave of anger.
"Who are you?" she asked without further preamble. Tahiri was done with games.
The man appeared to struggle with himself momentarily, but the hateful look on his face returned as he answered in Yuuzhan Vong. "I am Shaahol Rapuung, proud warrior of the Yuuzhan Vong!"
"Must you shout?" Mar Rin put in, still nor looking up. "It is quite distracting."
"Be silent shaper. You know better than to contradict your betters!" Shaahol Rapuung snarled.
"If I see any, I shall be sure to remember." She snapped back.
"Enough!" Tahiri barked, the banter fraying her almost shot nerves even further. "You," she pointed at Shaahol Rapuung, "Why did you say that?"
"You asked me my name. I told you." came the petulant reply.
"Not that! Before! You said something in Basic. Care to repeat it?" Tahiri knew she was about to play bad cop with no good cop, but she did not care. Shaahol Rapuung's off-hand statement had shaken her, and she needed an explanation.
"I said nothing in your infidel tongue." He growled.
Tahiri looked to Mar Rin.
"He is not lying." The shaper said, motioning to her displays. She may not have the Force, but Mar Rin was confident enough in her monitoring devices that she was confident in using them as a crude lie detector. "Though it may be wise to check him with the Force."
"We may have a problem there." Klin-Fa said. "I've been trying since we woke up. He's not there."
"He's blocking you?" Tahiri broke her held gaze with Shaahol Rapuung to look at the older woman.
"No. He's blank. Like a Yuuzhan Vong is." Klin-Fa replied. "You didn't notice?"
Truthfully, Tahiri had been shielding her mind from the man since he had awoken. Seeing this imposter wearing Anakin's face was hard enough. Feeling him was another thing entirely. An uncomfortable silence reigned.
"Let me check him with Vongsense." Tahiri finally said. She flipped the mental switch to use Vongsense and stretched out to Mar Rin to confirm that her senses were working properly. Feeling the unusual yet familiar presence of her friend, Tahiri took a deep breath and switched her senses to Shaahol Rapuung.
Tahiri subconsciously leaned away from the man. She knew she had been spoiled by her Vongsense; being able to feel the Yuuzhan Vong for so long, she had forgotten how disconcerting it was to be completely unable to detect another being with her mind.
Her instincts screamed against it, but Tahiri switched back to regular use of the Force. She needed to be sure.
"How..." Tahiri said, not realizing she had spoken aloud. Someone completely removed from the Force was impossible. He did not even create a hole in the Force, as the Yuuzhan Vong did. He simply was not there, as if he was a droid.
"You don't exist." Tahiri said, staring incredulously at the man on the table. Her comrades looked at her oddly.
"You seeing something we don't?" Uldir asked, confusion marking his features.
Tahiri looked at him. "No. I'm not. That's the problem. He may as well be furniture for all I can sense him." she said, returning her gaze to Shaahol Rapuung. He had an ugly, triumphant smile on his face.
"I see now! I am to be the instrument of the Jeedai's destruction! The shapers have made me immune to your Force!" He crowed, vile laughter tumbling from his lips.
"Yuuzhan Vong are already immune to the Force." Mar Rin deadpanned, still absorbed in the readings from her instruments. "True, Tahiri cannot use her special senses on you, but she is one of only two Jeedai with that ability. A smaller than normal, weaker than normal Yuuzhan Vong warrior is hardly going to offer a stronger challenge to anyone accustomed to fighting us."
Shaahol Rapuuung raged, straining against his restraints as he hurled invectives at the young shaper. Tahiri's revulsion with the man was dampened with pride in her friend. She had spent the bulk of their acquaintance trying to get the Yuuzhan Vong girl to lighten up. Snarking under pressure was a necessary component of life as far as she was concerned, and Mar Rin had been unacceptably stoic. Bluntness was not quite joking, but it was only a step away from sarcasm, and Tahiri was pleased with Mar Rin's progress.
"My my, such language." Tahiri drawled, her horrid temper against Shaahol Rapuung beginning to be overwhelmed by her curiosity at his seeming nonexistence in the Force. "Warriors are supposed to be well behaved, no?"
"Be silent, insolent female! Your unnatural life is a base heresy against the gods!" Shaahol Rapuung spat, baring his teeth as a slightly mad expression overtook his face.
"You seem to have been shaped just as much as me, pal, so I'd think twice before declaring me heretical." Tahiri said, glaring blaster bolts into the man.
An odd calm once again came over Shaahol Rapuung. "A similar heresy, for sure." He said, Basic again escaping his mouth. He locked eyes with Tahiri, and, just for a millisecond, she could have sworn the horrible red eyes of the man flickered blue.
The moment passed. The mad expression returned. Tahiri ignored the spray of invective flowing from the man's mouth, concentrating instead on Mar Rin; she was radiating confusion.
Tahiri turned to her friend and deactivated her vongsense. She had not even realized she had switched to it.
"What's up Mar Rin?" Tahiri asked.
Mar Rin did not answer, instead beckoning Tahiri to her with her hands. Tahiri walked to her friend, reaching her side the same time that Uldir and Klin-Fa, who had also seen the gesture. Mar Rin's eyes were glued to her instruments. The Jedi and Uldir, whose scientific education could not hope to allow them to understand what the read outs were telling the young shaper, waited impatiently for an explanation.
Mar Rin finally turned to acknowledge her audience. "Look here friends." She said, pointing to one of the graphics on the display.
"What are we supposed to be seeing?" Klin-fa asked. Mar Rin looked up at the group, and Tahiri and Uldir's shrugs indicated that she was speaking for the group. Mar Rin sighed. She was glad for her allies, but she wished that Tahiri would occasionally be assigned a mission with someone who's understanding of science was higher than 'might as well be magic.'
"His brain waves." She said, pointing to a specific spiking chart. "They're too active. The more agitated he grows, the more erratic and active his brain waves become."
"Why is that a problem?" Uldir asked. "Back in search and rescue, more brain activity was good."
Mar Rin nodded. "And normally that would be correct. But his brain is TOO active. It is as if all of his thoughts are being doubled. Despite his behavior, he has a normal human mind. If it stays like this, he is going to have a stroke."
"What would cause his brain to have extra activity?" Klin-fa asked.
"Yeah, his thought process has seemed pretty straightforward to me." Tahiri grumbled, just loud enough that Shaahol Rapuung could hear.
Ignoring the fresh string of invective the Jedi's comment prompted, Mar Rin pressed on. "Nevertheless, I am not comfortable allowing this man to hemorrhage to death without trying anything to help. If none of you object, I am going to sedate him. At least until we come up with a better plan."
The discussion halted for a moment while the group thought it over, allowing Shaahol Rapuung's barrage of insults to overtake the room.
"Sedation sounds great." Uldir said after about 30 seconds of it. Tahiri and Klin-fa nodded.
"Agreed." said Mar Rin, pushing the buttons on her console that administered the sedative. The group watched the young man slowly succumb,his ranting growing slower and less coherent until he finally slipped into unconsciousness.
Silence reigned for the first time since the man had woken, and everyone in the med bay let it settle, enjoying it. Tahiri closed her eyes and let the Force fill her. To her surprise, she felt a pull toward Shaahol Rapuung.
Tahiri felt a hand on her shoulder. "Tahiri, what are you doing?" she heard Klin-fa ask. Her eyes snapped open. She was surprised to find that she had been unconsciously moving towards the prone form on the table.
"I can feel him." Tahiri whispered. "Can't you?"
Klin-fa shook her head. Both turned to look at the man. A shrill tone from the monitoring device interrupted the pair's thoughts. Mar Rin's fingers danced across the machine's controls, and the results brought a frown to her face.
"His brain activity is not slowing." She said, looking up to catch Tahiri's eye.
"Sithspit." Uldir spoke for the group. "What do we do now?"
"Tahiri, you can sense him." Klin-fa said. "If science can't do anything, perhaps the Force can."
Mar Rin let out an irritated huff. "It is not my equipment's fault that man has a... a weirdo brain."
Everyone turned to stare at Mar Rin. The young Yuuzhan Vong blushed. "I do not know the correct word in your language." she sputtered.
The tension in the room drained as the Yuuzhan Vong's comment caused a ripple of laughter. Tahiri took a deep breath and a serious look fell across her face. She looked at Klin-fa.
"To your point, I can feel him. Mar Rin, keep monitoring him, I'm gonna try to sooth him with the Force." Tahiri said, her gaze shifting to the Yuuzhan Vong.
Mar Rin nodded. Tahiri shook herself, exhaling and centering her mind. She surrounded herself with the Force, letting the mystical energy fill her and pass through her. She prepared herself, knowing that the mental aspects of the Force were not her forte. She knew she should work on it, but the brute force approach to the Force appealed to the Yuuzhan Vong side of her, and none of the Jedi she respected judged her for it.
'No regrets, Veila.' she thought, expanding her awareness and reaching out to Shaahol Rapuung with her feelings.
Tahiri had never tried to connect to another being's mind beyond simple telepathy before. She had not known what to expect, but this certainly was not it. She floated in an endless void of white, able to move in any direction, but with no indication that she was going anywhere. She allowed the Force to guide her; she may not know where she was supposed to go, but she trusted the Force did.
She would not mind if the Force got her where she was supposed to go a bit more quickly, however.
Her involuntary patience was finally rewarded when two figures appeared on the horizon. Or out of nowhere; Tahiri could not tell anymore. Her sense of distance had abandoned her when the Force took over. She blinked. The figured were right before her.
The first was a hulking, stereotypical Yuuzhan Vong warrior. He turned to stare at Tahiri. She met his glare with a detached look. The other looked human, but had his back to the warrior and thus to Tahiri as well.
"YOU!" the warrior bellowed. "Even in my dreams you disturb me!"
"Shaahol Rapuung, I presume." Tahiri said.
"Who else would I be? You are in my mind!" He said with a snarl.
"Well, it is pretty empty in here. Makes sense." She fired back.
Tahiri looked the warrior over. "I suppose this is how you think you're supposed to look?"
"And will again, once I kill everyone aboard your ship and return to my people!" Shaahol Rapuung's voice was markedly different from the waking world. Harsher, more guttural. More Yuuzhan Vong.
"Give it a rest Shaahol. She's not buying it, and I'm tired of hearing it." The other figure said.
The voice caused Tahiri's breath to catch in her chest. The figure turned to face the pair. A slight smirk graced the man's lips. His icy blue eyes caught Tahiri's. She felt as if her heart would hammer through her chest. The smirk broke into a broad grin.
"Hey Tahiri." said Anakin Solo.