EPILOGUE

Dalven and Sara were married in a small wedding at the Kyrell house. Their whirlwind courtship began when he was in a Bacta Tank 8 hours a day and at the Clinic recovering when he was out. At the time of their marriage, their daughter, Sila, was less than one month old. Dalven was smitten with both of his brown eyed girls. Much to Gan's excitement, they moved in with her and Geth. Dalven and Geth converted an upper level of the Pikson-Kyrell manse into a very nice two bedroom suite.

This made for one busy, child proofed house, as Sila's aunt Lucy was born within a week of Sila. Gan had an easy pregnancy if you factor out Geth's hovering and habitually wanting to carry her everywhere. "It's romantic!" he would say. Gan would flash a "touch me and you'll die" look and he'd merely follow her around, never letting her out of his sight. He had little projects all over the house to use as excuses for being anywhere at anytime. Secretly, Gan loved it.

Geth was given permission to carry her once – over the threshold of their honeymoon suite when they eloped. Gan was perfectly happy with the arrangements, and Geth was perfectly happy with Gan.

Thane and Ciena were returning the following weekend for their wedding, for which Kendy and Grhan had to send their regrets. They were on assignment somewhere in some unknown region, which was often the case with those two. Kendy was a coordinator and transporter for Jedi missions, of which there were now five in training. Master Luke was serious about creating the New Jedi Order to serve in some capacity to facilitate the New Republic Government.

Daniel had been dating a doctor, Chollet Wathtu, from the Valentia Hospital, which was now improving steadily under the supportive funding of the New Republic for several of Daniel's projects. Eventually, he'd move operations to the Clinic, but currently the Clinic was not capable of hosting larger projects and the number of personnel they required. Gan and Geth were planning a donation in the names of Claire, Malee and Jake, which would go a long way toward expansion. Daniel and Chollet had a small team of researchers assigned to them, who spent many an hour in transport up and down the mountain. Daniel agreed to live in a home lower down the mountain, mostly after some persuasive urging by Chollet. For around a month, Daniel would show up a few minutes late here and there, with a silly grin and nervous, awkward responses when asked what he did the previous night or weekend. Of course, coworkers were doing this on purpose as they also knew the timely and work obsessed Chollet had been a little less timely and work obsessed as well. Everyone knew if Gan caught them razzing Daniel there'd be hell to pay, but they intended it as good natured fun. Everyone loved Daniel and Chollet.

One week later…

Geth, Gan, Dalven and Sara were waiting for Ciena and Thane to arrive, while the girls enjoyed their beautiful weather in their fenced-in play area. Of course, they weren't walking or crawling yet, just chilling on their blankets and drooling. They liked to look at each other and make all sorts of great noises. Geth insisted upon the security fencing so there'd be no chance of a baby falling over the cliff. In his mind, he could see the impossible becoming real. They'd discussed it – he and Gan -and Geth felt it was likely due to how he lost Malee, Jake and Claire. Gan told him he had every right to be overprotective, and she'd help him see reason if he went too close to the edge.

Finally, Thane and Ciena touched down in a beautiful Shuttle with the New Republic Seal on it's chest and sides. Paron and Ree would be arriving any moment for a nice family dinner.

Gan wasn't about to waste ten minutes waiting for them to walk up from the hangar. She hopped on the modified Zip that Geth had constructed to include a single seat and some "doohickey" (Gan's word) that automatically slows the descent when you pull on a strap. She ran up to the shuttle as Thane was exiting the ramp. "Mom!" he laughed and picked up his mother to swing her around. "You're zipping now?! Where's my little sister?"

"Where's my oldest daughter?" Gan glanced around Thane and Ciena appeared around the corner. "There you are!" Ciena, as beautiful as ever, hugged Gan with extra special squeeze.

"Hi Mom! I can't believe we haven't been able to get here before now. I'm so sorry! Where's my baby sister?"

"See that tall, handsome, more blondish-than-reddish man heading up that walkway? Follow him. He's headed straight for her. Wow! His hair has gotten light. Is it the climate?"

"Yes ma'am. Soon the red will be almost gone if he doesn't start wearing a hat." They held hands as they walked. Gan couldn't stop smiling. Ciena stepped back to get a good look at Gan. "How are you? Everything healing well since the C-section?"

"Easy Peasy. Seriously. A week of Bacta patches and it's almost invisible. I feel terrific!" They were arm-in-arm as they walked up the walkway to the side of the house. "Soooooo…are you all ready? Dress and shoes, jewelry, the basics?"

"Yep. I'm all ready." Ciena smiled and Gan noticed something she'd never seen before when talking with Ciena. It was her eyes. She and Thane both had a unique way of smiling with their eyes, which Gan thought might be a trait one of them picked up from the other in childhood. Ciena was hiding something.

Geth would tell her not to pry, "It could be a hundred things, 90 good, so let them share in their own time," he'd say. Gan had grown better at following that advice. But, she had an unsettled feeling that would need some attention if one of the kids didn't share with her soon. Mom's prerogative. Being nosy and loving are not the same. But, she looks so beautiful. Everything about the two of them is beautiful. What gorgeous children they'll create. Lord help Thane if they have any girls.

They took the last steps and Gan's heart leapt in her chest. Thane had Lucy high over his head, making silly faces and wiggling her while she giggled and giggled. Gan panicked for a moment thinking of Lucy's last meal, then realized her tummy should be empty. What a sight that would be! At least Geth wouldn't be alone in that club. He always knows when Lucy has eaten before playing spaceship with her now. That is Lucy's favorite thing, as Thane was learning. Gan's hand went straight to her heart, and her smile could have lit up a planet. Gan turned to Ciena who, to her surprise, wasn't there. She was already through the open doors with her small bag. Long trip, probably needs the refresher.

Thane had moved his attention over to his niece, Sila. He was on all fours smashing his face into her tummy making raspberries. Sila was giggling. Geth had Lucy and the men were talking while being silly with the girls. Dalven was watching Thane with Sila and he looked so proud. There were moments when Gan wished Oris could see them from a distance. She'd never tell Geth as he'd find it hard to understand. It wasn't at all that she missed him. She just had memories of the day in Thane's room when Oris finally accepted responsibility for his terrible behavior. She had no idea if Oris even knew Thane was alive. She wrote a letter and left it with Oris' attorney, but the last time she checked he had not heard from Oris since he delivered the divorce papers.

"You better hurry up, little brother. These two are going to be a force to be reckoned with for any little one that follows too far behind!" Thane laughed and said, "You cute little chunky monkeys wouldn't pick on anybody! Noooooooo! Not you!"

Sara came outside with bottles and yelled, "Who are you calling a monkey?" Thane took a step back and gave Sara a look of respect and approval. So much for the meek little shy woman!

"Take note, little brother! See how it works? They bat their pretty eyes, let you think they are so meek and mild, then BAM! You're married, there's a miniature person screaming at 3am, and she's kicking your aaa..rrrrmm out of the bed for the second time since midnight."

"Sara, I am, and will forever be, on your side," Thane announced. Sara gave Thane a sideways hug with bottles in both hands.

"So you'll at least concede they're a little chunky? I mean, come on folks. They're like…giant babies!" Thane had a seriously not serious look that only Thane could pull off.

"Give me that kid!" Sara said, all affection withdrawn. "Here, give this to your baby sister."

Thane took the bottle in two fingers, barely allowing it to touch his hand. "Whooooaaaa, no way, man. I know where this came from and I had my fill decades ago!" Geth laughed out loud and grabbed the bottle.

"Big brudda is a scawedy Lothcat, Lucy. Daddy will take care of your tummy wummy!"

"I'm in an episode of pod people? Right? This guy was a General a year ago?" Thane looked at Gan as if he were truly shocked by the softer side of Gan's Knight in Shining Armor.

"And when daddy is aw done, he's gonna teach big brudda a lesson in cawin his baby sister a fat monkey." Geth tried to kick Thane in the backside while securely holding his little "monkey", which Thane deftly averted. He jogged back to Gan, who was laughing at the ridiculousness of the men she loved. She missed this so much when Thane was away.

"You sure you're doing good, mom? All healed?"

"I'm seriously in the best shape of the past twenty years. Now, what's going on with Cienna?" Gan looked straight at Thane, who was taken aback for a millisecond – imperceptible to anyone else, but not Gan.

"You mean her upset stomach? She's not feeling her best. Don't worry – it's not contagious. She just started feeling a little off before the trip and the doctor said she was having food reactions. She's on medication and should be feeling better soon." Gan looked at him straight in those eyes of his. He's lying. Now Gan was truly worried.

"I'll go check on her. We have a big day tomorrow!" Thane smiled ear-to-ear and trotted off inside.


He found Ciena sitting on his bed, looking out the window at the baby activity on the lawn. She didn't turn and look at Thane.

"Hey," he said. "You need something? A headache tablet, water?" That got a response. She turned, face tear streaked and expression ice cold.

"Thane. Water isn't going to change anything. Headache tablets? Were you listening to the specialist or daydreaming about blowing something up in your x-wing? I can't have children. I will never have a baby. If you are with me you will never have a baby. A little piece of you, with all of the wonderful things your child would bring to this Galaxy. This cannot work. I won't deny you, your family...I can't take that away from you. I won't."

He reached out to pull her towards him and she squirmed her way out of his grasp. His heart felt like it fell out of his chest. "Ciena, don't do that. It hurts me. You're hurting me."

"Yes. Being with me is going to hurt. Every single day. Every day you do without the one thing I know means everything to you."

"Ciena Ree, how dare you! I've wanted one thing in my life. I asked for one thing when you were injured. I wanted YOU! There are enough babies in this family to have plenty of diapers to change and birthdays and graduations to buy gifts for. I simply do not see a life without children to mean being unhappy. As long as it's you and me, I'm happier than any damn man who has a tribe of monk..I mean kids. That you deny me that right, that you fail to appreciate my love for you – it breaks my heart."

He began to stand, and she grabbed his hand. He turned around, scared to feel the excruciating pain he just felt from her rejection, but not wanting to be one inch further away than she'd allow. This time she grabbed hold of him, pulled him down on the bed and sobbed into his chest. Hearing her cry like this was impossible. He felt the hot trails falling down his own cheeks. He put his hands on her shoulders and held her out, then put his hand on her face and kissed her. His arms ached for her. He was desperate to do anything he could to keep her as close to him as possible. She kissed him back, softly at first, but then her kissing became so forceful it seemed…strange. Her hands began pulling at his shirt. He tried to slow her down and bring intimacy between them by looking in her eyes, but she wouldn't look at him. She was pulling at his shirt and belt. This wasn't love making. This was despair looking for a release. It wasn't right and he wouldn't let things become this way for them. He placed his hands on her waist then he scooped her up and gently lay her on the bed. He lay beside her, kissing her cheeks and neck softly. She started to cry and turned to the side, covering her face with her hands. Thane kissed her hand and gently pulled it away from her face. He softly kissed her salty cheeks, and gently turned her face to look at him. And then, using every single thing he had learned when making love with Ciena in the past, he showed her nothing short of complete, passionate, love - softly, slowly showing his appreciation for every inch of her beautiful body. Instead of her usual delightful noises, giggles, and words, there were tears. She had her hands in his hair, clearly telling him not to stop, and he didn't. There was no overwhelming, grand climactic moment. Thane brought them to a quiet, peaceful, safe place – a different type of extraordinary. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her so softly and held her so tenderly - there was no anger, no despair – just the clear, unconditional love this man felt for this woman. Afterwards, he lie next to her, holding her against him.

"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry. If I'd only defected with you…" she cried as she buried her face in his neck. The deepest burden she carried, born of regret for things that weren't her fault, was finally given a voice.

"We'd probably both be dead," he finished. He softly spun his fingers through her curls. "That's the truth of it, Ciena. And what if someone said that day I was boarding the Watchtower, after our first kiss, that I could have a future with this woman, but it would mean never having a child? I wouldn't have paused for a millisecond then. I love you even more today. My heart is full, Ciena. If you decide you want to adopt, I'll adopt and embrace it fully because you need it. If you decide you want a surrogate, I'll embrace it because you need it to be happy. But, for me, I simply need one thing for my life to be utterly perfect – you. Can you understand that?"

There was a pause, then she nodded in his chest.

"That's good…" He felt the lump forming in his throat. "…Because…" now he was crying. "Because you can't….you can't pull away from me…reject me...say you'll…leave…" She wrapped her arms as far as they could go around his upper body and entwined her legs with his. She rocked him slowly as she apologized for forgetting, for betraying their commitment, and for being weak.

"I love you Thane. Just you. And you are enough – more than enough. I couldn't stand being the reason you'd hurt, or be sad. I'd rather die. I'll believe you, and when I have doubts and the guilt I feel overwhelms me, I promise I'll turn to you and not pull away. I just...I was just in shock. Please forgive me."

"The only thing that I'd never recover from is losing you. I don't ask for or need anything more. That will never – never – change."

They held one another for at least another twenty minutes, then knew they had some explaining to do. They could hear Virene and Paron making silly baby noises outside. They would need to explain their absence.

"I will go along with anything you wish," Thane said.

"We have to tell the truth. They'll take one look at your beautiful, blue eyes and know if we're lying." They shared one last, long kiss, then straightened themselves up to face the family with bad news.


Living Room

"So, the final result is I cannot have children. There is too much scarring and damage." Thane sat next to her with his arms around her.

Thane spoke up. "The thing that will hurt us – that will make things difficult – is if we are treated differently. We don't know how certain things might affect our emotions, but we just ask that we be included in things, and forgiveness if we sometimes go through a rough patch and need space. We will never begrudge the joy and happiness you experience as parents. In fact, I feel nothing but relief that you've given us a little piece of your little ones to love, too. It will help fill whatever, if any, voids that pop up. But, most importantly, Ciena and I are strong and will overcome the disappointment - together."

Ciena looked at Thane with the same love, admiration and awe she always had. They both really looked like they could conquer anything.

Virene Ree was clearly upset, but trying to keep it in check. She moved to sit next to Ciena. Paron looked concerned for Ciena – like he was checking to see if he could find a kink in her armor. Gan was smiling proudly at both of them, while Geth looked at the floor. Ciera was pretty certain she saw a couple tears hit his boot. Sara, clearly fighting tears, left the room to see about Sila, who was crying. Dalven looked….embarrassed? Why does Dalven look guilty? Both Thane and Ciena could see it.

20 min later...

Dalven and Thane walked along the railing marking the edge of the crater where Thane's once beloved Hideout existed. "Dreams change. Life isn't always exactly like you picture it. We mourned the loss of this place. We'll mourn the loss of what we thought we'd have. But, we have so much more to be happy for."

"She's not mine, Thane."

"What do you mean? Sara? You aren't together?"

"No. Sila. She's not mine." Dalven leaned against the rail, feeling both fear and relief having told the one person he trusted.

Thane stared outward for a few seconds, then slowly turned to look at Dalven with an expression of shock. "Nash?"

Dalven nodded, not able to return Thane's gaze.

Sara and I began seeing each other before I even was discharged from the Clinic. She'd finish her shift about the time I came out of the Bacta, and she'd stay and help me stay comfortable by moving my pillows and she'd read to me until I'd fall asleep. We'd laugh at the silliest things. We liked the same shows, we shared the same curiosities and interests. Still, being kind, lifting spirits - these are things I know she did for people on the ship, so I didn't think it was more than that.

When Daniel told me I'd be discharged in a week, I caught Sara crying in the refresher. She said she was just missing her family. I believed her. Then Daniel came to me and told me he didn't mind that Sara cared for me if that was my reason for not wanting to see her. I was so confused. Daniel told me that all of those nights she stayed, all of my favorite books she read to me – it was all on her own time and the books she brought just for me.

The next day, I asked her why Daniel would tell me those things, and she was upset with him at first. Then I told her I'd be happy to know it was true. Man, Thane, the smile on her face was so beautiful. I suddenly got it. You know, the goo-goo feelings I made fun of you and Ciena and even mom and Geth for having. I was so goo-goo, I'd write poetry and serenade this woman if she'd just kiss me before I wake up. Well, she did kiss me and everything inside of me realigned. Like Ciena said that time – everything turned right side up because before then it had been upside down.

We began dating, and I'm ashamed to admit we were…you know…intimate...looooong before I had the doc's clearance. Anyway, she started getting sick all of the time, and at first we thought it was the flu, then Daniel suggested a pregnancy test. It left no doubt, and the ultrasound made it pretty clear when it happened. The weekend Nash shot me, probably that day. I looked at all of the possibilities. If Sara and I had conceived in our first weeks of dating there could legitimately be a belief that Sila is mine.

No matter what, there was no way she could tell Nash. I wasn't about to subject her to more abuse from him. Now that Sila is here, she's my daughter, Thane. She's my daughter." Thane nodded his head.

"Dalven," Thane said, and Dalven finally found the courage to look Thane in the eye. "Sila is yours. If the time ever comes that you have to defend your family against Nash, they'll have to come through both Kyrell brothers first. I'm…I'm really proud of you."

Dalven and Thane started to shake hands, but Dalven pulled Thane into a hug. When they walked back into the house, Dalven felt safe for the first time since he made the decision. He was very concerned about Nash causing trouble for his family. But, Thane was with him. Thane would never allow Nash near his family.


New Republic Detention Facility

Coruscant

Prisoner J-001 had a special designation and was kept in special confinement restrictions. He was held in cells that would be used for a Jedi or Sith – in other words, Force sensitive beings. Ysalamiri, a unique creature that rendered the Force inactive in a circumference about themselves, were maintained throughout the ward in their special trees. The visual effect was quite intriguing, as the creatures barely moved, and seemed content to become extremely burrowed into their branches with long claws that required expertise to remove without injuring or killing the animal.

During Nash's first few months in captivity, Master Skywalker, Grhan, and, on a less formal basis, Kendy, spent a great deal of time studying Nash. He was medically evaluated, including psychological testing. Nash was cooperative, which surprised the group and raised suspicions.

Nash's willingness to cooperate took a hit when he became aware of the Ysalamiri and their having eliminated his ability to detect lies. Nash felt he could not trust any of the conversations he had with anyone now that he knew they had turned off his internal lie detection capabilities. Kendy helped re-establish some good will when she reminded Nash that they never knew if he was being truthful. Kendy said it seemed quite "Ved-ish" to expect an unfair advantage over others. That seemed to strike a chord with Nash and discussions resumed.

Nash had three requirements before re-engaging in formal discussions. First, he wanted to know if anyone was able to recover Louie from his TIE crash site. Second, he wanted to know if Thane and Ciena were still together. Third, he wanted to know about Sarabel Ortiz. This is where the Ysalamiri came in especially helpful.

Luke wanted Nash to help them recover the Journal he kept during his sessions with Vader. If Luke promised to help Nash determine what Vader's purpose for Nash was, he'd agree. Luke agreed, stating it was of common interest. That's when locating the wreckage and Louie became necessary. Louie was carrying the Journal – either in his storage bin on his back or he removed it and put it in his TIE somewhere.

Kendy and Grhan were tasked with recovering what could be found and reclaimed of the wreckage. This was likely to be a fruitless effort as the wreckage had been scavenged to the last wire.


Jelucan

On their second trip out to the site, Kendy had a thought. What would Louie do after wrecking the craft? She began searching the surrounding shrubbery and more dense trees and undergrowth. Twenty minutes later she returned, holding a completely intact and power depleted droid. The storage compartment required power to activate the access panel.

Valentia Hospital was able to set them up and Louie awoke, saying, "Good Morning new friends!" Kendy attempted to unlatch the lid to the compartment and Louie asked, "Are you familiar with the code and has your thumbprint been scanned?"

"Louie, who knows the code and has their thumbprint scanned?" Kendy asked, with surprising patience from Grhan's perspective.

"Why, that would be Commander Windrider and my friend Sarabel Ortiz." Kendy looked at Grhan and immediately began to pack Louie up for the drive to see Sarabel. This was within months of Nash's capture. Sara was still tender, but Kendy had spent some time with Sara completing the report for the New Republic. Kendy was certain she'd help. Grhan was a little less optimistic. But, they had no other choice.

They flew to the Pikson-Kyrell Hangar and walked to the Clinic. Sara must have seen them through the lobby glass, for she was outside and hugging Kendy like they'd not seen one another for years. She also seemed happy. Then she noticed the droid.

"Louie! Oh my goodness, Louie! I thought you were destroyed in the crash."

"I was not, my friend Sara. I was very scared and… I have a question Sara."

"Sure, Louie. Ask."

"If someone is your buddy, would he come to help you if you had an accident?" Kendy noticed that Louie's large photoreceptor eyes that emulated blinking with lights actually looked sad. Kendy had heard of the fondness staff had for Louie. He had some quirks that make him want to emulate human behaviors to effect positive emotional responses from patients and co-workers. Sara shared that was the reason she first spoke to Nash -because he saved Louie from being mind wiped.

"Why, yes Louie. I believe a buddy would make every effort to find his buddy if his buddy was in a crash or in danger of any kind. Why?"

Louie's processors began to whir and he shifted back and forth between Kendy, Grhan and Sara as if he didn't know what to say or do.

"Louie, I didn't know you were in danger, or I would have helped you. I'm very glad my friends, Kendy and Grhan found you. That was nice of them to look."

"Yes. That makes sense, Sara. They did a nice thing, which would make them….friends or buddies?"

"Which is better? Which is the one you want more of?" Sara asked.

"Buddies, of course! A buddy never, ever tells their buddy's secrets. Since I cannot lie, I simply whir and produce no information as this is the way the creators made me. I had a buddy. Commander Windrider was my buddy. I always did everything he told me to do, and he taught me how to dance and sing. He took me on adventures with him."

Suddenly Louie's processors began whirring and his eyes closed. Then everything stopped. "But, Commander Windrider knew I crashed. I was scared and told him I was sorry and I did the best I could for my buddy. I waited for him to come. But, he never did. Then other people came, and I was scared. When they pulled me out and tossed me on the ground, I flew away as fast as I could and hid. I sent my signal to Commander Windrider so he could find me. But, night after night he never came.

One time I decided to try and find him, and I found where one of the the bombs Commander Windrider programmed to drop missed and I realized he was probably angry with me. Then an older R2 unit came out of nowhere and said hello. I said hello and asked him if he knew where Commander Windrider was. He then told me to go away or he would have his Master wipe my brain and sell me for parts. He chased me with his torch until I was out of his reach and the terrain impeded him."

There was more whirring, then, "Sara, did Commander Windrider decide to throw me away because I failed?"

"No, Louie. I think Commander Windrider did some very bad things and was taken away. I think he used you to help him do these terrible things, and a true buddy would never ask his buddy to help him do bad things."

"Even if he said he will apologize later?"

"Not even then, Louie. But guess what! I have great news! Grhan is a Jedi – one of the most truthful, honorable, faithful friends you could ever have. Kendy is the one who rescued you and knew to bring you to me, your friend. She showed you what a good friend she is for caring about you getting help. Louie! You made two great new friends today!"

Louie started to bob up and down and said, "I'm laughing!" Then he started to do a seriously hysterical semi-coordinated swooping back and forth and whole body shimmy dance with his arms and "legs" moving up and down, sort of in time with the song he was "singing." Sara and Kendy slapped their hands over their mouths to stifle the hysterical laughter trying to bust out.

Grhan wasn't as smooth. He decided to join Louie as he caught on to the song and figured any effort to move his arms and swoop his hips would be close enough. Then, Grhan grabbed Kendy's hand from her mouth and spun her then made her start singing along. Sara shrugged her shoulders and added to the party.

In the end, Sara accessed the compartment and sure enough, the Journal was there. Sara asked if they could keep Louie at the Clinic, and Louie swooped over to bounce next to Sara. Kendy looked at Grhan and said, "Tell you what, Louie. You have extra special super important information that could save the Galaxy. All of the most important people in the Galaxy are hoping to meet you and become your friends, too. After we take you to meet all of these people, I will personally see if they will allow me to return you to Sara at her new Clinic, Okay?" Louie stopped bouncing and rocked back and forth for a few seconds.

"Sara, should I go with my new friends?"

Surprisingly, Sara got teary eyed. "Yes Louie. I'd be very proud of you if you did this for me and all of the good people who have worried about you. Maybe you'll be back sooner than we think! I will miss you very much!" Sara kissed her fingertips and pressed them on his "head".

"Well, okie-dokie! I will roll..I will roll with it?"

"Sounds like a plan, man." Grhan held out his hand for a high five, and Louie waved at Sara as he began floating beside Kendy.

The droid left me hanging. That's…embarrassing.


New Republic Detention Facility

Coruscant

Master Luke Skywalker read through Nash's Journal at least five times. It was a large volume full of detailed notes and summaries of sessions with Darth Vader. My father. Luke had to remind himself that in his final moments, his father returned to the Light side of the Force and turned away from the Dark.

Still, this was Dark – very Dark. It was clear Nash was put through a variety of painful and aggressive techniques to uncover deeply buried force sensitivities. One entry in particular struck Luke as important. Nash wrote:

Master put me in the chair and began to apply unusually aggressive Force compulsions for me to move my extremities, with the same result as always. Then he asked me not to resist under any circumstance. So I did not resist and his ability to manipulate my physical movements improved quite drastically.

His next exercise was what has revealed the evil I'd suspected was inside of him. He pulled up a holovideo of Ciena. Within seconds, Ciena was holding her head in her hands, with the officer sitting next to her asking if she is alright. Vader then said, "She is experiencing intracranial pressure – a small degree I assure you, but indescribably painful."

Vader told me to stop him. I couldn't move – I was strapped in that damned chair. Vader stood three feet in front of me, and told me to block his Force abilities. "I don't know how. "Please, stop it! Stop hurting her!" I begged. Vader continued to stand there as Ciena was now lying on the floor with crew mates around her.

"She can not speak. They will not be able to help her. Now stop this. STOP ME!" I closed my eyes and imagined my body was covered with a thin shield, then I took deep breaths and held them in, expanding the shield like a balloon. I'd let air out through my nose and take another large breath through my mouth. I could see the shimmering field growing larger and larger. I could also see the Med Bay stretcher now in the way of my view of Ciena. I took one enormous breath to the point I thought my lungs might explode. The field extended and I could see on the far right Vader's glove inside the field. One more and I'd have him. I inhaled one last time, and held it as the shimmering field moved like fluid over Vader until his entire helmet was encased in my field.

On the holo, Ciena was sitting up and now talking to a human Medical attendant. I then realized I still had not released air and Vader was standing inside my shimmering Force field. He had a metal tube in his hands with a digital read out. He pressed a button and I felt the pressure on my lungs decrease the slightest bit. Vader removed air from within my force resistant bubble. I then released the air from my lungs and would have collapsed had I not been strapped in the chair. The latches all opened with a flick of Vader's finger, and I slowly raised myself up and then fell onto my knees.

"Meditate, apprentice. Meditate on what you just accomplished. Revisit the emotions, the reactions and the thoughts you had. Then, remove the emotions and look at it as science, without passion or your weakness caused by this woman you say you love.

"I do love her." I assured him. His answer infuriates me.

"No, Nash Windrider. You obsess over her, you covet her, you desire her, but you do not love her. To claim you do is a farce, an embarrassment. You fail miserably at the single greatest test of true love. You are deaf to her desires. You will not give and sacrifice everything to see her greatest desires realized – in spite of the pain and loss you yourself will suffer. Only when you can ask her what she wants, and defy all you believe and desire so she may have it, will you have the privilege of claiming you love Ciena Ree."

Luke read that passage again and again – the part about his definition of love. He was speaking, in some way, about his mother. Luke knew this had to be true. In order to do his job, he'd have to let go of those thoughts and stay focused on Nash. Much like an Ysalamiri, Nash was capable of repelling the Force, and denying those within his "reach" of their ability to access their gifts. Could Nash repel the Ysalamiri's protective bubbles?

Then something alarming crossed Luke's mind. Nash has known this. He had spent many hours with several Force users, including Grhan, who went to look for that droid Nash insisted on having back. He also wanted information about Sara which we all agreed was not in Sara's best interests.

Something was wrong. Luke couldn't shake the impression being forced on his consciousness. He saw Kendy, the droid, Grhan, and…Sara."

Luke commed Kendy.

"Yes Master Skywalker?"

"Are you alone?"

"Yes, sir. I'm in my quarters."

"This is very important, Kendy. I need to speak to you alone. If Grhan arrives, make an excuse and com me to meet you someplace close." There was a pause. "Please trust me, Kendy. This is for Grhan's safety."

"I understand Master Skywalker. I'll be waiting or will com you if needed." As Luke stood to leave, he put the Journal in his bag. He hurried out of the sitting area and passed by the cells. A voice spoke to him from the back corner of Nash's cell.

"In a hurry, Master Skywalker? Have you begun to play the game yet? Yes, I believe you have. It's hard to read, for you especially, I imagine."

Luke knew he shouldn't, but he bit. "I doubt anyone would find your account of what Vader did to you pleasant. Especially when he involves others as incentives. It is most disturbing indeed."

Nash clicked the tip of his tongue and waved his finger in a scolding motion. "Oh come now, Master Skywalker. We both know it was not the discoveries of my abilities that had you riveted for the past hour. It was my Master's opinions on human emotions. Most especially his rather intimate awareness with love. A strange combination in a man who is capable of incomprehensible cruelty."

Luke remembered he needed to move to get to Kendy and figure out if his suspicions were true. "As always, Nash, it's been a pleasure." Luke began to walk away.

"Enlightening!" Nash exclaimed at Luke's back. Luke paused. He turned his head back to stare at Nash. "For you, I mean. It's not everyday you'll get a window into the feelings your father had for your mother."

Luke held his gaze at Nash, then something very odd happened. Luke smiled at Nash. Had Nash merely been looking at Luke's mouth, he'd have completely missed it. But, it was in Luke's eyes. It was the first moment of true insecurity and fear Nash had felt since being incarcerated. Nash had showed his hand, and in return, Luke showed Nash his first real look at Darth Vader's son.


Kendy Idele's Quarters

Kendy was alone when Luke arrived.

"Kendy, this is very, very important. When you went to Jelucan to retrieve the droid, did you see Sara?"

"Yes, Master Skywalker. It's in the report."

"Yes, yes – you're right, it is. Was there ever a time that Grhan and you were separated? Especially when you were in the vicinity of the hangar and Clinic?"

"Well, after we said goodbye to Sara and returned to the shuttle, I was doing the pre-Flight checklist and Grhan mentioned forgetting to see Daniel and ask Sara a couple of questions. I was busy so I told him to make it quick. We'd be ready to fly in fifteen."

"So he returned to the Clinic and saw Daniel and Sara? What did he tell you about his quick visit?"

Kendy thought about it, and then got a strange look on her face. "Okay, this seemed strange at the time, but I was busy. When Grhan returned he sat in the copilot's chair and removed a few sheets of paper tucked into the breast of his tunic. He put them in his bag. I asked him what it was. His response was verbatim what he said before he left. He said, 'I forgot to see Daniel and ask Sara a couple of questions.' I said, 'You didn't already do that? What were you doing at the Clinic?' He smiled at me and I said, 'I know, I know! A Jedi never tells his secrets.' He laughed and it was forgotten. I chalked it up to miscommunication or something. I had to fly, so my mind was quickly diverted."

Luke was rubbing his chin and clearly concerned. "Luke, if something is wrong with Grhan you must tell me. You can't.."

"No, nothing like that, Kendy. I promise. But, I am concerned that Grhan was unwittingly used to gather intel on Sara and other situations on Jelucan. Did you ever get a look at the papers he put in his bag?"

"That's his bag, Master Skywalker. I'm not one of those women. Sorry, I guess in this case curiosity might have served a noble purpose… wait, his bag is here." Kendy walked into the small study and found his bag by the chair. She took a deep breath and unzipped the top zipper. Just inside were the tri-folded sheets of paper he pulled from his tunic. Kendy handed them to Master Skywalker without looking at them.

Luke took the papers and opened them. They were lab reports for Sarabel Ortiz. The first page was the result of a pregnancy test, which said, "positive". The second page was just a report of her examination. The third was a copy of the ultrasound image and measurements used to determine the date of conception.

"Oh no." Luke put his face in his hands. Kendy pulled the sheets from his grasp and in about ten seconds she burst into tears.

"Why? Why would he do this, Luke? Sara and Dalven had a baby, they're married. Her name is Sila and she's precious. This…this says that…"

"The baby is Nash's. He's been using skills we didn't know he had to manipulate at least one person we know of. Grhan had no idea what he was doing and has no idea what he has done. He is going to need a lot of support and reassurance when he realizes Nash controlled him like this. This entire time, we've been playing right into Nash's hands."


New Republic Detention Facility

Cell 305 – Prisoner J-001

So the Lothcat is out of the bag, Master Skywalker. I know, I know – you're thinking, "What else has he done? What does he know? Who has been compromised?'" Nash stood and walked up to the energy field through which he could see a long line of Ysalamiri resting quietly in their trees. I should have remembered my manners and thanked Master Skywalker for these wonderful trees and pets of mine. Without them, I couldn't have accomplished and begun half of what is now in the works. As Nash lie back on his bed, he began whistling a beautiful tune from Alderaan. He envisioned his mother singing with her sweet voice. It was Nash's favorite lullaby.


THE END LOVE'S STARS by C.R. Marks 2018

SEQUEL: DARK STARS by C.R. Marks - In progress, available for reading.