Here's the next chapter. And the only chapter going back to the past - next chapter onwards will be continuing from the action of chapter two, and after settling some 'family issues' onto the case of the killers and finding the plot-masters. Always wanted a Laura story.
Skye: OK - both Frank and Joe will have midichlorins, and about the same level. Personally, I do not like the idea of them being too far apart in skills and the like... just different. Laura's still the focal.
Franknjoe: will be writing the full saga. Just have to spend some time getting all the dates in order - you know how detailed the star wars verse gets. This piece will end somewhere before 'A New Hope' (Epi 4). So feel free to comment anytime if things look out of place - you might actually catch a blooper or two Regarding the force manifesting in Joe as baseball talents' not quite correct - the reason why Laura picked on it is because it was an appropriate analogy to use that her sons could understand and that was why Frank was not 'jealous' - because the situation demanded a batsman, not a pitcher, so he might be a little envious, but not jealous, because Frank knew his mom would have picked him if the situation requires a pitcher. There would be other examples as the story progress. Does that make sense? I guess I was playing with the idea of a 'mother's wisdom' versus 'Yoda-wisdom' for later on in this story. The characters of Fenton and Jinn will unfold and mature with the story, as will Frank's Joe's and Obi's.
Enough of chatting - enjoy
Twenty-two years earlier, Coruscant
Twenty-three year old Knight Tahl stood at the windows of her room high up in the Jedi Temple, her vivid blue eyes gazing down at the multitude of lights flickering from the old city below, her long blonde hair swaying gently in the night breeze. While the expression on her face showed a certain degree of serenity, the way her fingers kept rolling and unrolling the corner of her Jedi robes said otherwise. She was nervous.
Tonight was a turning point in her life, she knew. All her life she wanted to be Jedi. She remembered how desperate she was as a youngling waiting hopefully to be chosen as a Padawan. How joyous and relieved she felt when she was finally taken in by a Jedi Master. She recalled the excitement of her first off-world mission with her Master, and the sense of pride when she was finally knighted last year. But now, it shook her to realize she would willingly give up her dream for…
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in," she invited.
Soon, a pair of arms wrapped around her, and a rough chin rested lightly on her head. She leaned back willingly into his warm embrace. Too quickly, those strong arms were gone, and she sighed.
"I've given our situation serious thought, Tahl," Knight Qui Gon Jinn said to her after a long pause.
Tahl felt a tiny hitch in her heart.
"I really cared for you, Tahl." Jinn said quietly. "But we've always wanted to be Jedi. We've talked about how important that dream is to both of us, and how much good we could do for the world out there."
Tahl fought to keep her expression impassive and her emotions serene as she tried to catch a glimpse of Jinn's eyes, but it was hidden in the shadows of the night. She nodded her agreement instead, and threw all her strength into projecting an equally calm and serene exterior for all that could see to see.
"When we accepted our knighthood, we took the oath to abide by the Code. And I…" Jinn continued.
"I understand," Tahl heard enough. "We should not be breaking the Jedi Code. It could lead us to the dark side."
Would it? Tahl wondered, not for the first time.
"Yes." Jinn agreed. "That's why we cannot continue with our relationship. I still care for you deeply Tahl. I just cannot let myself love you because…"
"One cannot be Jedi and love…" Tahl finished off the sentence for her beloved and best friend.
Jinn nodded a little sadly. "And we've always wanted to be Jedi… and given the amount of discord in the galaxy at the moment, they need us..."
Can't we change, Jinn? Can't we be ordinary people and still do good deeds for the world? Tahl wanted to ask. But she kept her thoughts to herself. It was clear that Jinn really wanted to remain a Jedi, and it would not be fair to ask him to give it all up for her. He might not love him enough to… but she did.
"Tahl… that's what you wanted, right?" Jinn asked.
"Yes… that's what I want." Knight Tahl replied firmly, even though her heart was breaking.
Jinn nodded and then left. Just like that.
After the door closed, Tahl turned back to the flickering city lights, and there she stood the entire night. She let the tears flow and washed away a part of her pain. Soon, the dark turned to light and Knight Tahl began to pack and dressed for an undercover mission. She would tell the Council that she decided to accept that mission and understood the risks involved. She was after all, one of the top graduates of her batch, and it was only natural that the Council turned to her for that particular mission to uncover the mysterious head behind the spice trade on the Outer Rim. And all the better, by nightfall, she would be far away from the Jedi Temple, far away from all those happy childhood memories, and far away from the hurtful ones too.
Two months later, she was on the run in her Corellian fighter-craft, being chased by a number of enemy ships. Her cover was blown while she was trying desperately to download a secret list from the system which she hacked into after a month of careful observation. At least she got the list, Knight Tahl told herself as she pushed her craft to its limits, trying desperately to evade all those deadly lasers being sent her way.
Suddenly, something appeared before her, pulling her towards it. It was an unusual space anomaly, the likes of which she had never seen before. She tried bank a sharp left in hopes of evading its pull, but she failed. Her craft spun crazily out of control and was sucked into that yawning hole. Nausea filled her, and soon, she was out.
When she awakened, she found herself in an unknown section of space. On the screen before her was a beautiful blue planet. She had no idea what it was called, but her on board computer told her it was the only livable planet within her reach, and there was life on that planet. Seeing no other options opened to her, she steered her craft towards it.
Unfortunately, the damage sustained by her craft was worse than she thought. And she crash-landed… in the ocean. It was a miracle that she managed to break out of her sinking craft and swam her way to the surface in the midst of a storm. Alone out there in the roiling waves, she was good as dead. Except a tiny part of her refused to give up… She was Jedi. So she turned inwards and let the force guide her as to which direction to swim. She swam and she swam until finally she could move no more… and…
"Stop! There's someone in the water!"
That was the last thing she heard.
She woke up in a lovely home on the waterfront, and she found out later that the beautiful sea it overlooked was the Great South Bay. The old couple that saved her took her in when they realized that she had no home to go back to and that she lost her memory. The husband who was a lawyer, pulled some connections, and managed to procure for her a temporary social security number.
Later, when they found out that she had an affinity towards healing, they even saw her through a paramedic course. She became the daughter they never had, and eventually she took their name and became Laura Rotham. At times, she wished she could tell them that she was sorry for lying to them, and then tell them who she was. That never happened. The next year, they were killed in a boating accident. She was left to live with her little lie, with no way to atone for it.
After that she started work as a paramedic with New York City Hospital A&E department. It was a hard and unrewarding job, dealing with the less fortunate of the city's population, but she loved it. Soon, she was spending her spare time at the local drug rehabitation centre, helping those youths who wanted to get off drugs move on with their lives. She lived alone in a small studio apartment - that was all she could afford in that costly city. Her life revolved around work and social work. Many of her male colleagues tried to come onto her, but she was not interested. She was contented with her life as it was.
And one day, everything changed.
She was walking home from the drug rehabitation centre, when a bunch of goons took her by surprise and shove her into an isolated and dark alleyway. She muttered a curse under her breath for being distracted and allowing herself to be caught in such a situation. She scanned her surroundings, taking note of all possible escape routes that she could use. There were only five of them, young, high, and looking for a victim to rape and terrorized. But before she could carry out her plan, a voice took all their attention.
"I suggest you stepped back and leave the young lady alone."
Laura lifted her eyes and saw this tall dark hair young man standing alone glaring at the five teenage goons. She could feel fear well hidden under the calm and mildly threatening exterior. Yes, that man was afraid because he was outnumbered, but that did not prevent him from trying to do the right thing. It was all in all a very 'Jedi' thing, Laura decided, and felt the first hint of respect for that earthling.
Then the first of the goon attacked, a butterfly knife held firmly in his hand. That tall man easily sidestepped the blade, and shoved the first goon straight into the path of the second incoming one.
"Run! Lady, Run!" He yelled at her. "And don't look back…"
He wanted her out of the way before he loses his element of surprise totally, Laura noted. Already, she could see that he was already losing. She could not blame him, five was just three too many in any fair fight. She sent a little force shove and lightly tripped one of the goons that was about to surprise her savior from the back. The tall man did not waste that opportunity, giving the tripped goon a quick kick in the guts to make sure he stayed down before turning the face his remaining opponents. And Laura made sure that the goons kept on having more than their share of bad luck for the next thirty seconds when…
"Young lady… RUN! Please!" That tall man spat out through bleeding lips, as he turned and landed yet another punch on another goon.
But it was a lucky hit from one of the remaining three goons still standing that finally moved Laura into acting. She ran towards the entryway to the alley and started screaming for help. Then a second later, she was back, her handbag swinging and landing a perfect hit on a goon's temple.
"Two police officers coming!" she panted out as she continued swinging her handbag crazily like a maniac. "Saw them… end of the street… they'll be here in a minute or so… just hang on, sir… and don't let them get away!" Then she sent a wave of force-fear through those goons – and was not surprised when they turned tail and ran, terror in their hearts.
"There aren't any police men out there, are there?" The tall man finally asked after a few minutes.
"No…" Laura admitted.
"Good thinking," he said. "Are you all right?"
"Yes," Laura answered a little breathlessly. Somehow, that's man's proximity caused her heart to race.
"You're hurt… let me help…" She said as she reached for her pack of wet ones and tried to clean off some of the blood.
"I'm okay," he said. "But we better get onto the main road before those punks decide to come back…"
Laura nodded and they made their way towards the main road. There, they stood and stared at each other for a while.
"I think I better see you home… you know… just in case those punks…"
Laura nodded shyly. She never felt shy before in her life.
So they walked together towards her apartment. Soon, they were at the door.
"Would you like to come up?" She asked before realizing that some men might not like women who are too forward and direct. "I mean, you were hurt because of me and I should… I mean, I'm a paramedic and I can help… I mean… would you like to come up for a coffee so I can thank you for saving me just now?" Laura finished lamely her face flushed a bright red.
"I would love to…" the man said. "My name's Fenton, by the way."
"Laura," she said, and let Fenton into her life.
And Fenton was always there to walk her home from the drug rehab centre every Wednesday and Thursday. She found out that he was a homicide detective with NYPD, and she told him of her work as a paramedic, and how she was saving up to go to medical school. He was very supportive. A year later, when he proposed, she accepted. She was twenty-six and that was the happiest day of her life – even more so than the day she was chosen as a Padawan.
They had a simple wedding at a tiny church, and no honeymoon. All their resources went towards a tiny one bedroom apartment in the city. A year later, they had a son, whom they named Frank after Fenton's grandfather. The next year, they had another son, and this time, they called him Joseph, in memory of Joseph Rotham, her foster father.
Then came the summer when her little Joey was kidnapped by one of Fenton's enemies. And she was there, watching helplessly as the kidnapper stood holding her beloved son a knife held right across his throat, while she held on tight to Frank. She sent soothing waves across to Joey, willing him to stay calm. She tried to reach the kidnapper, but could not penetrate through that wall of fury. For the first time, she saw the dangers connected to Fenton's life as an officer of the law, and understood the benefits of celibacy that the Jedi Code advocated. So she stood there and hoped and prayed that Fenton would come up with something and somehow get Joey back safely to her.
He did – but they had their first big fight.
Finally, Fenton returned to her with a solution. He had a friend who was also tired of manhandling petty criminals on drugs on a daily basis and thought the two of them could try their hand on being private investigators working on white collar crimes rather than dealing with the goons on the streets. They moved out of New York City, and into a smaller safer neighborhood on a quiet corner of Barmet Bay called Bayport, just a little over an hour drive from New York City itself on the freeway.
Laura was touched that Fenton was willing to consider alternatives, and take up boring insurance fraud cases for the sake of family.
Her love and respect for him deepened after that day.
Of course, Fenton being Fenton, attracted the big bad guys wherever he goes or whatever he does, and eventually, the boys grew up to become rather good sleuths themselves. But what mattered to Laura was, they argued, they talked, they discussed, and they compromised. There was no either or, or black and white. Only shades of grey. She had love, she had passion, and she had serenity. She had them all and she was contented.