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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Episode 1: Padawan

When the way before you is not clear, let your actions be guided by the force.

The cool ocean breeze blew through Aarik’s shoulder length blonde hair as he ran down the seashore. His lithe body was moving like a gualama across the pale sand; his white linen padawan robe blowing in the breeze and the small waves lapping at his feet. “There is one!” Aarik yelled, though he was the only one to hear it, running about fifteen meters he came upon what could be a perfect specimen. Picking up the shell Aarik examined it closely, white with pale grey spots like a snow nexu, Aarik thought to himself. No holes whatsoever, now this was a specimen worthy of adding to his collection. Aarik pulled out his data pad and scanned the shell, the instrument chirped and identified the shell as Concus Maculosus Magni.
Aarik sat for a while and watched the small waves and the small Janta fishing boats much further out at sea. Aarik sensed the approaching Jedi coming towards him, he made no attempt to stand or acknowledge their approach, but continued to look out at the vast sea. “Master Melucian is waiting for you Aarik”, Jedi Master Hairon said rather perturbed to his padawan. “Oh my, is it that late already?” Aarik said standing and smiling, actually he was surprised that the time had gone by so quickly. “Yes, it is that late and he cannot wait all day for you, he is a busy man Aarik” Taedron answered. “Now get back to the temple right now,” Taedron ordered. Aarik answered insincere tone, “Yes Master”. Taedron glared back at his younger padawan, he caught the hint of disrespect Aarik’s voice in front of the Jedi Knights accompanying him.
Taedron turned and headed up the beach with the other Jedi back to the temple. Aarik was always impressed when he saw his master and the knights in their flowing robes. Aarik loved his Master, with all his heart, he couldn’t imagine living his without Taedron. But on the other hand, Taedron was a little too stuffy for his age, even though he was a Jedi Master and it was up to Aarik to keep him in check. Aarik watched them go, smiled and headed back to the temple.
Aarik knew he was in for it later when Taedron returned from training and he looked forward to it. Master Melucian was waiting; he had better move it faster. Aarik hurried back towards the docks. Aarik reached the docks and climbed the stone stairs up to the top. “Ah, there you are Aarik!” Fiechen, a Weequay fisherman, ran over and grabbed Aarik. “I have something for your father, just take a look at this goober fish, perfect I do say so myself. Now tell Cook to bake it with sea salt, onions, osberry seed oil and butter, young padawan.” Fiechen instructed handing Aarik the sack. “Yes, I will tell him, thank you”, Aarik smiled taking the sack with the quite heavy goober fish stuffed into it. No sooner than he had walked ten steps he heard a squeal “Aarik!” it was from Fiechen’s human wife Frauda. “Hello there dear, I was headed into town to take my sister Aunga some flowers and fish, but I was wanting to see you before I went and give you!” Frauda placed a crown of flowers onto Aarik’s head. “There you go dear, I just picked them this morning, a crown fit for a prince of a boy like you”. Frauda said smiling proudly. “Thank you Frauda, that was very kind of you to think of me.” Aarik said smiling. He leaned over and gave Frauda a little peck on the cheek. She smiled turning red, this was probably the highlight of her day.

2

Aarik was greeted, stopped and fawned over about fifteen more times even before he got to the end of the docks. He was popular with the common folk of the small Dantooine village near the small Jedi temple. The few colonists had come from different worlds looking for a simpler life after the wars had ravaged the galaxy. Dantooine was one of the first planets to begin a natural recovery on its own from the terraformation by the Vong’s Shapers. Farms were re-established all over the northern and southern end of the continent, many along the shores of the beautiful inland sea created by the Vong’s Shapers. Many of the organism’s originally introduced to the sea by the Vong had quickly been replaced by genetically created species from Dantooine’s fossil record.
Aarik was an extraordinarily good looking young man, twenty years old, six foot tall, blonde shoulder length hair that curled ever so softy, the brightest white smile, icy blue magical eyes, sculpted physique, porcelain skin and a face that many called the face of a god, with supple yet angular features.
By the time Aarik had gotten back to the small temple complex, he had a train of people behind him, one carrying the goober fish in a bag, another a large sack of oysters, the next a basket of sand crabs, then Frolly with a crate of something Taedron had ordered from some planet somewhere and lastly little Fixten carrying a stick followed by six huurton puppies. Aarik looked back at his entourage and sighed, wishing he had a private beach. Entering the kitchen Cook directed the men where to place the different items. Then Cook set out a plate of tarts and a cup of tarine tea for Aarik. Aarik ate a tart quickly and sipped the tea, then headed out of the kitchen.
Aarik started up the stairs to change clothes when Master Hairon started “Ah, there you are Aarik, Master Melucian is waiting for you at the temple” she said smiling. “I am just going to change and I’ll be back down”, Aarik said. Mrs. Hairon let out a little covered cough. “Is there something else Mrs. Hairon?” Aarik asked. With her head slightly lowered and her eyes looking up she held out a bottle. “Oh no, not that time again” Aarik said. “It’s this day every year, as it has been for the last twenty years you have been alive Aarik”. Mrs. Hairon had actually chosen to forget that Aarik did not come to them until around ten years of age. “My special Spring Potion has made you the way you are today, just look at how you turned out” Mrs. Hairon said in a most sincere voice. Mrs. Hairon knowing this was not entirely true, had convinced herself years ago of the truth of it. “You say that about all your potions, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Remembrance Day, Festival of the Sea, Special Daily potion, the list goes on, I honestly can’t remember them all” Aarik Answered. “Well, you don’t get any complaints do you?” Mrs. Hairon questioned. “That is because I am the one always complaining” Aarik said smiling. “Please, just drink it and it will be over quickly.” She said with that determined smile. “Fine” Aarik said letting out a big sigh, he took the bottle and headed upstairs to his room. Ghastly stuff her potions are, but she believes in them. Mrs. Hairon aka Versax was once a spiritualist in the Nightsister Clan on Dathomir and left the order many years ago with a certain Hambas “Swifty” Hairon, a dashing smuggler and renowned chef, now years later, is simply known as Cook here at the academy.

3

Aarik believed in the spiritual path of the force Mrs. Hairon had taught him, he had learned to prepare their connected concoctions from native and off world herbs, he had taken these potions for years. Aarik has seen what they could do with the right ministrations in concert with the force for healing. Aarik ran his hands through his hair and undressed. Standing there in his underwear, Aarik looked at himself in the mirror. Looking more closely at his body, she maybe right about the potions, he thought, for his body was nice.
In actuality Aarik’s body was far beyond nice, it was like an exquisitely sculpted piece of pale marble, perfect in every detail. Aarik put on a sea blue silk shirt and a fresh white linen padawan robe, the crown of flowers matched perfectly. He opened the bottle of Spring Potion, turned it up. Aarik’s body trembled from the bitter taste and he made a terrible face. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve, grabbed his new shell and headed out to the temple to meet Jedi Master Melucian.
Aarik’s teacher Jedi Master Melucian was keeper of the restored Jedi Temple on Dantooine, which the guardian training facility shared the grounds with. “Hello Master Melucian, sorry to have kept you waiting, I lost all track of time this morning”, Aarik said bowing. “Well hello there young padawan, how is your day so far?” Melucian said returning the bow to the young padawan. “I have had a busy day already looking for sea shells along the beach to add to my collection and how has yours been? ” Aarik asked smiling. “Fine Aarik, thank you for asking nice crown by the way.” Melucian answered. “Master Melucian, I would like to work on Science today for my afternoon project, especially to analyze the data on the resurgence of the native plant life and the rate of the Yuuzhan Vong terraformation reversal,” Aarik said showing the seashell to the Master Jedi. Aarik removed the crown of flowers and set it on the table.  Melucian said, “Aarik this is a most perfect specimen of a Concus Maculosus Magni, a large spotted seashell.” Aarik said, “I was hoping it would be a good specimen for my collection.” Aarik continued smiling. “It seems that we may have underestimated the ability of the newer species' abilities to overcome the adversities they to face to establish.”
                                                                                   4
Melucian walked over to the console and began reviewing the most recent data taken by the orbiting satellites. Melucian started, “It’s been a thousand years since the Yuuzhan Vong War, the planet had over one hundred million species before the war, we now have one million, two hundred thousand six hundred, the introduction of the fossil record species from the Arthuta Repository seemed to have introduced a few species that has successfully established to the waters of the Sea of Dantooine. The number of species is still below its former numbers Aarik. But with time and the investment by the Jedi Order, the settlers and the Janta returning Dantooine to close to its former state will be successful, though it not go quickly.”
Melucian brought up a holodisplay and said, “The scientists at the Republic Science and Space Ministry have spent years on the re-terraforming of many planet’s ecological systems that were destroyed by the Vongforming. You are quite proficient as a healer at identifying the most critical zones here on Dantooine for our version of terraformation. I’d like you to use the data from the galactic planetary surveys and find ten candidate planets that would most likely benefit from the restoration work like we are doing here on Dantooine.”
Master Melucian continued, “Now the centuries have passed and some of the worlds may have restored themselves or the Vongforming may have transformed the worlds beyond redemption .” Aarik looked at Master Melucian and said, “Yes Master, I will begin immediately.” Master Melucian replied, “Well, I think I have given you a project worthy of much of your study time, use the standard scientific method Aarik. Let me know if you have any questions or need me for any part of you project.” Master Melucian stood looking at Aarik, knowing this padawan was quite capable of this project and also that it could greatly benefit his Jedi training as a future Jedi Healer and possibly more.
Jedi Master Melucian left Aarik to begin his project, Aarik excused himself to run home to get his data pad he had forgotten. Aarik arrived home and started into the kitchen for another quick bite, when he heard Taedron arrive. Plans changed quickly, Aarik hurried up the stairs followed closely by Taedron. “Do not shut that door Aarik!” Taedron said in a stern yet raised voice. Aarik hurried into the room and pressed the controls attempting to shut the door just to annoy Taedron, who in turn push the door back open, stepped in dramatically and pulled the door shut behind him.

5

The servant droids looked up from their chores at the direction of the yelling, mumbling to themselves in their native programming language. Mrs. Hairon looked over to Cook who was cleaning the goober fish and sighed. “Well someone’s in for it. I hope Taedron isn’t too hard on the lad.” She said. “He is a good boy, I doubt he is in for anything more than a tongue lashing, I don’t know what it is for this time, but it’s probably both your faults. You and Taedron’s, both of you for coddling young Aarik, then all of a sudden expecting him to behave they way you two would have it.” The Cook said in defense of Aarik. “I have never done any such thing as coddling young Aarik, I have always been very firm with my help in raising him” Mrs. Hairon retorted. “Oh by the gods woman, you have got to be joking” Cook answered. Cook then put a hand to his ear and said, “Oh, someone’s knocking on the door, let me go see who it may be”. The Cook opened the kitchen door and said, “Oh, it’s you. Why sure, of course she is! Sure you may, be our guest!” the Cook turned to Mrs. Hairon and said “It’s the Queen of the planet Delusion stopping by, she’s come to take you back to the dream world you have been living in”. The Cook closed the door smiling, knowing he had won this debate. Mrs. Hairon huffed and headed back out of the kitchen.
Taedron’s frustration with Aarik had not seemed to subside all morning. He grabbed Aarik by the shoulders and looked him straight into the eyes, ready to give Aarik a scolding, but then his frustration was gone. Taedron let out a sigh, leaning his head into Aarik’s, he said, “How do you do that? I come in here to chastise you and you can just look at me and everything is fine.” Aarik said, giving in himself, “I’m sorry I spoke to you with disrespect this morning on the beach, Master. But, you just have your moments where you are condescending to me in front of others, especially the Jedi Knights. Since our feeling for each other changed , you have treated me one-way around others, then another when we are alone. Why is that? I do not know, you must!” Aarik got louder. “I am not a child, Taedron, you don’t have to treat me like one. I am twenty years old”, Aarik said. “I know you are not a child, padawan. But, I am your Master, I am your friend, I am your protector, all in one”, Taedron said. “Taedron, you are a Jedi Master and yet I am no one, you treat me like I am not even your padawan!” Aarik said loudly. “What did you say?” Taedron asked. Aarik just looked at him seeing the hurt and frustration in Taedron’s eyes. “Don’t you ever say those words again, for they are not true. Your situation is different Aarik. It cannot be like other padawans trained on Coruscant and will not be. You have grown up here, under the tutelage of Master Melucian and myself, we have done the best we can.”

6

Ten years prior the Dantooine night sky had been lit up by a ship crashing through the atmosphere, the people of the village and surrounding farms with the help of a then young Jedi Knight Taedron Hairon rushed to the crash site. The ship exploded in the crash, the wreckage was strewn across countryside. The villagers, farmers and the Jedi Knight searched for survivors amongst the wreckage. The bodies they did find were very disturbing, most all wore slave collars the thought turned Taedron’s stomach, though he was a Jedi Knight trained to deal with situations like this. The bodies they found intact were from various species, possibly taken from refugee camps or bought from pirates that had taken them as prisoners from different space lanes. The Jedi Knight thought to himself, “Slavery in this day and age, but since the outer rim construction boom of 900 ABY is still in full swing there are not enough droids or workers, contractors may have turned to more extreme measures to gain laborers.” Taedron knew this must be reported to the Jedi Council. The group searched the plains around the wreckage there were a total two survivors and three hundred bodies found. Then as Taedron had ordered the search called off and the bodies buried, he spotted another body in a clump of brush. As Taedron approached, he saw that it was the body of a young boy, he checked the boy for life signs and to his surprise he was alive. The Jedi Knight noticed a connection to the force from the unconscious boy, Taedron picked him up and took him back to the village. The other survivors were taken back to the village and the dead were buried.
Mrs. Hairon had checked on the survivors at the village the following day and brought some of her ‘potions’ to help her meditations in their recovery. The medical droid 2-1BX scanned the medicine that Mrs. Hairon had brought into the infirmary and said, “The compounds in the bottles do not show in the medical records database as having healing properties”. Well, when the droid pronounced the remedy ‘potions’ as having no medicinal value it angered Mrs. Hairon, but after some convincing on her part she was allowed to administer her remedies and use her force healing powers on the survivors. Mrs. Hairon approached the bed in which the young boy lay. “What’s your name young man?” , she asked in a caring tone. Aarik was only about ten years old at the time and didn’t seem to remember anything save his first name, “Aarik Kernis”, he answered wearily, he was confused at where he was and what he was doing there. Amazingly, Aarik had escaped the crash with just a few bruises and minor scrapes. “Well, Aarik you are a lucky young fellow, many did not survive the crash and you came away in very good shape”, she answered.
Mrs. Hairon being a former Nightsister Spiritualist recognized the connection to the force the young boy Aarik had and considered his surviving a good omen. She gave the boy the potion and he drank it, making a terrible face the whole time. She checked the boy for injuries with the force and found none. Puzzled and intrigued by finding one in such good condition after a terrible and more than that one with a noticeable connection to the force intrigued her.

7

“Mother”, Taedron said as he approached the aging Mrs. Hairon. “Taedron, I have just come from the village to see the survivors. I took them some of an injury remedy and perform healing meditations on them”, she said smiling at her son. “There was no transponder found in the wreckage”, Taedron said to his mother, knowing he would get an answer. Mrs. Hairon thought for a second and questioned, “Would there have been Taedron? It was a slave transport and slavery is against the law in the Republic. There will be no report of its loss by its owners and no one will ever come looking for any survivors, of that I am sure.” Taedron understood what she was saying and knew it was true. “The young boy Aarik you found, has a connection to the force, not a strong one, but still, a connection that is apparent. He will be coming to stay with us”, Mrs. Hairon finished, her tone was firm, her son would not argue. In Taedron’s mind this could be a good thing and also it also could be prove to be a burden he would have to help attend to.
The Dantooine Jedi Temple was also the location of a Jedi Outpost and also a training facility where select Jedi Knights about to become Jedi Masters receive their advanced combat training to be Jedi Guardians. The Hairons had come to Dantooine with their son Jedi Knight Taedron Hairon about four years prior to the crash that brought Aarik to Dantooine. The two accompanied their son as a cook and a housekeeper for the temple. Versax Hairon was a protective mother and she would hardly let her son go to Dantooine and live without her.
None of the survivors from the crash knew who Aarik was, they were only able to recount how most of them had been taken from a transport bound for Kessel. They were able to remember the large transport that had crashed already had a large number of captured beings onboard. None of the survivors remained on Dantooine, except Aarik. The Hairons stepped to be his adopted parents and we made their ward. A few days later Aarik moved into the quarters that the Hairons occupied at the temple complex and he was raised like their son. Aarik helped the Hairons with whatever they needed done with their work around the temple. Aarik over time became like a fixture around the temple complex, thus he began his lessons with the caretaker and overseer of the temple Jedi Master Melucian.
Aarik was an enthusiastic young man and as time past he grew to know much of the force and understand many of the concepts of the Jedi. Taedron over time had become a full Jedi Master and young Aarik was made is apprentice, who by that time was 13 years old.
The Jedi Knights training to be Guardians at the Dantooine Temple did not have padawans, their training is to be skilled in battle, a Guardian concentrates mainly on martial training and combat without a large emphasis on diplomacy, yet maintains the Path. The amount of time Jedi Master Taedron had to devote to his padawan was limited, even though Taedron would technically be Aarik’s Master, his role in Aarik’s training would consist mainly of saber combat and the training of the path would fall to Master Melucian and the healer training for the padawan would come from his mother, Mrs. Hairon. “Jedi Master Taedron Hairon has no interest in a padawan, he is too busy with the other instructors training the Jedi Guardians, there was simply no time for a damn padawan”, Taedron repeated in his mind often. Now to somehow convince himself of this, he repeated the Jedi Code to himself,

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no death; there is the Force.


8


Now, seven years later Jedi Master Hairon finds himself standing in his chambers arguing with the padawan he never wanted and now would never give up. Taedron had tried to resist in the past, he was a Jedi Master and he was right, the relationship between a Master and a Padawan or any relationship between Jedi must be free from the dangerous place where these two were. Whether between a male and a female or male and a male, there cannot be the kind of love that would compromise the thoughts of the actions of the Jedi. “There has to be a separation Aarik, I have tried, the force knows I have tried”, Taedron repeated looking into Aarik’s glittering blue eyes, smelling the intoxicating scent his padawan.
Taedron’s strength had failed again against Aarik’s pheromones, for whatever species of humanoid Aarik was, his kind was not like most, for his kind release a very pleasant pheromone when they have subconsciously and many times unknowingly fallen in love with an individual. Aarik was in love with Taedron, whom in turn desperately loved him back. Taedron eye’s were glazing over when he snapped out of it and said, “You are irresponsible Aarik, like this morning with Master Melucian’s lesson, and it is my duty to try to correct your actions no matter what. I do this whether as your Master, your friend or someone loves you desperately. Do you understand what I am saying Aarik?” Taedron asked. Aarik replied almost in tears, “Yes Master” as Aarik sank to his knees in front of Taedron, feeling guilty over his actions this morning and saying what he said just now.
Taedron sat down on the bench in front of Aarik’s bed. Aarik lowered his head into Taedron’s lap. Taedron removed his leather gloves and began stroking Aarik’s face and hair. “Maybe I am the one over reacting right now, I’ll try to do better myself Aarik, to be a better Master and give you more time” Taedron said. “I know it has not been easy with the changes the last few years here, this was not supposed to happen.”
Taedron had made little effort to get close to Aarik over the years and when Aarik had began to mature into a young man, Taedron still had held Aarik at arms length. But this had all begun to change as Aarik became a man, which to Taedron’s own chagrin he acknowledged himself. Aarik looked up at his Master, “It just has been a difficult time and you can be so hard on me sometimes.” Aarik answered. “I know, I don’t know why I am, I just want you be responsible and show me respect when we are with others. Don’t worry about it anymore. I just want you to feel better right now.” “Come on, get up, it will be a few hours before supper. I need a nap and you do too.” Taedron said standing; he pulled Aarik up, then looking into his eyes, held Aarik gently by the neck and kissed him lightly on the lips. “You are important to me Aarik, you drive me mad sometimes, but you are important to me none the less, probably too important for my own good, for you are my life.”

9

Taedron said and let out a sigh as he headed through the door into his adjacent chamber, removing his Jedi robe as he went. Aarik got undressed as well; down to his underwear. Aarik knew that is why he tested Taedron’s patience, for Aarik considered Taedron as far superior to himself. Taedron was taller than Aarik standing over six foot four inches, broad and muscular, with raven black hair and a small goatee, chiseled features, a strong domineering personality and a Jedi Master.
Aarik entered Taedron’s bedchamber. His Master’s bed was not much larger nor was it more comfortable than his own, but Aarik doesn’t sleep in his own bed; he sleeps here with his Master. The light covers were pulled back waiting for Aarik as he climbed into the bed. Taedron pulled the covers back over them and pulled Aarik’s body in close to his own with his nose in the back of Aarik’s neck, they had slept like this for two years.
The two awoke after the short nap, put their robes back on, Aarik went to his room, grabbed his data pad and the two headed back over to the dining room for lunch, Cook had prepared his usual variety of meat and vegan dishes for the Jedi at the temple complex, Aarik decided to try the nut crusted goober fish that Fiechen had sent over to Cook. Aarik followed Taedron over to a table with some of the more advanced Jedi Knights that were about to be promoted to Guardians. The others along with Taedron began the long and rehashed debate over the seven classical lightsaber forms, which Aarik was only proficient in one, Shii-Cho. Aarik’s input, if he found a place in the conversation, due to his lack of lightsaber skill would not garner much attention so he stayed quiet and ate. Aarik, unlike the others, didn’t relish the debate of lightsaber fighting technique unlike practically all of the other combat Jedi he knew, the fast Ataru versus the exciting Vaapad, on and on they would go.
Aarik began thinking of his project Master Melucian had given him. He had not seen the list of planets from the database, but having learned from his history lessons the list would be lengthy, for the Yuuzhan Vong War wrought enormous destruction to the Galaxy including Dantoooine. From what Aarik had seen first hand here on Dantooine, the Vong terraformation could be quite effective on some worlds, Dantooine’s own connection to the force may have helped the planet to resist the process far more than some other planets. Those planets, especially those that were urban centers whose natural resources had been depleted over the millennia, leaving the planet devoid of natural life, would have little or no natural defenses.
“Aarik, are you finished eating?”, Master Jedi Hairon asked. “Aarik?”, he repeated. Aarik looked up from his plate and all of the Jedi at the table were looking at him. Aarik replied, “Sorry, yes, I am done.” The group stood up and Master Jedi Hairon walked over to Aarik and said, “Back to class for both of us, I will see you this afternoon for you lightsaber training.” Aarik answered, “Yes Master.” Aarik bowed and Taedron returned the bow, catching Aarik’s eye, he gave a little reassuring wink. Aarik smiled at Taedron and turned, heading over to the temple library.

10

As Aarik entered the library the X3PO droid turned and said, “Hello, Master Aarik, how may I be of assistance?” Aarik answered, “I have a project I am working on and I need your help. I need you to interface with the Republic Science and Space Ministry. Access the records and find the database of the Yuuzhan Vong terraformed worlds.” The droid looked at Aarik, “Certainly.” The droid walked over and interfaced with the terminal. Quickly the holo image of the Republic Science and Space Ministry was displayed, the information Aarik needed was accessed. “The database has record of 150 planets that were known to be terraformed by the Yuuzhan Vong.” Aarik looked at the droid and said, “Now, I need you to filter out planets that have been restored since the war and those that are in the process of being restored.” The droid worked, “There are 55 planets left that currently do not fit those parameters.” “Display list with images”, Aarik answered. The information popped up on the giant holoimager. Aarik touched the images on the hologram, scrolling through, reading on the planets and their histories. Aarik let out as sigh, so much destruction he thought, how did life in the galaxy make it through all of this? “Bring up a star chart with locations of these planets.” X3PO complied and a galactic chart appeared on the hologram.” Some of the planets were along abandoned trade routes, some were in Hutt Space and some were very isolated in the outer rim. Aarik chose ten of the planets and downloaded their information to his data pad. “Thank you X3PO, I have the information I need”, Aarik said and left the library.
Aarik started back home thinking to himself, All of these planets in this Galaxy, one of them has to be his home world, Aarik knew one day he would have to spend some time finding it. All the DNA tests known in the Republic had been used to determine Aarik’s origins. The Scientists that were consulted gave the Hairon’s and the Jedi Council their findings, the conclusion given was that Aarik was from an alien species not encountered often enough to be in the medical archives and the species has a complex biochemical system that exudes pheromones that can have different effects on different species. Sighing again, he walked home, he had about 2 hours before he had to meet Taedron for his lightsaber combat training. He went into the kitchen, Cook had returned from the temple and sat out Aarik a plate of Dantooine Berry Fruit cobbler with a glass of cold milk. Aarik said, “Thank you Cook, the cobbler looks really good and the fish for lunch tasted great.” Cook smiled, “Well my boy I appreciate that, most times the Jedi say nothing about the meals I prepare, I am glad someone appreciates me around here.” He looked over at Mrs. Hairon, she looked at him and retorted, “Humph, you old fool, you are appreciated, I don’t need to be telling you everyday!” Mrs. Hairon quickly left the kitchen. One of the servant droids helping prepare the evening meal for the temple Jedi said, “I myself appreciate you Cook, you are very good to me. After all you rescued me from space all those years ago, I might have remained trapped aboard that vessel for hundreds of years more if it hadn’t been for you.” Cook smiled at the COO-2180 droid, then at Aarik, “There we go, I got two of you that appreciate me.”

11

Aarik finished his cobbler, thanked the two chefs and headed upstairs to his room to work on his project. Aarik plugged his data pad into his holo-terminal, then he began to read again. The planets left on the list he had chosen weren’t easy candidates for restoration. One in particular, Wayland, had a restoration attempt before, part of the failed Ossus Project. Early on following the Yuuzhan Vong War, it was a cooperative effort between the Jedi Order and the Yuuzhan Vong ‘Shapers’ to restore the Vongiformed planets to the natural state. As Aarik read on, it seemed the project was sabotaged by members of a Sith Cult that followed a Sith Lord named Darth Krayt. This information sent chills down the padawan’s back, but the Sith had not been heard from almost 900 years thankfully. There had quite a few small battles fought on the planet in its history, Emperor Palpatine had stored artifacts and secret weapons in a now destroyed mountain cache. What an interesting test subject this planet would be for the new version of terraforming we are trying, Aarik thought. He quickly added a heading and ordered the planets in the list from highest his interest to lowest in interest, detailing his reasoning for the inclusion of each planet. Of the 10 planets chosen by Aarik to submit in his report, Wayland topped the list. Aarik copied the report to his data pad and headed back to the temple to turn in his project to Jedi Master Melucian.
Aarik returned to the Temple to turn in his assignment to Master Melucian before he had to meet with Taedron. Aarik bowed to his teacher, “I had completed the assignment Master and wanted to show you what I have.” Master Melucian having returned the bow said, “An what is it you have come up with padawan?” Aarik plugged his data pad into the holoimager. Master Melucian read Aarik’s report thoroughly, nodding and agreeing, where he read a notation that warranted. Master Melucian finished reading the report, “Very good Aarik, top rate if I do say so myself. I see you have chosen Wayland as our primary candidate. So you feel a planet that lost all of its population would be best re-terraformed versus a planet that had an indigenous population displaced that wanted to return home?” Aarik thought about his teacher’s question, it was true that the Myneyrshi and the Psadan were wiped out by the Vongiformation. “We could find the original DNA of the planetary species of Wayland and proceed with a total restoration like we are attempting here on Dantooine.” Master Melucian considered what Aarik said, “That would be a monumental undertaking maybe a larger one than here on Dantooine, since this planet has restored a large portion of itself without our help and I do not believe Wayland’s complete DNA catalogue was stored in the Arthuta Repository .” Aarik answered, “No sir, there are DNA samples of a few species, I think one hundred thousand.” Master Melucian asked, “When was the last probe sent to Wayland?” Aarik answered walking over to the holoimager, “Along time ago Master, ah it was over 700 years ago.” Master Melucian chuckled, “Well, with that being said, I believe we need more up to date readings before we continue with this project.” Aarik questioned, “So, we need to send another probe to Wayland Master? The Master Jedi considered that option, “I would have to contact the Republic Science and Space Ministry and request a probe be sent. Bit I may have another idea, we small atmospheric probes that we use here on Dantooine, with the right modifications in hardware and programming they could be used to collect a much broader spectrum of data. But these small atmospheric probes had to be launched from the surface of a planet, someone would have to travel to Wayland and launch them. But, Wayland is still quarantined.” Aarik said quickly, “I’ll go, I never get to get out much, it would be a great learning experience.” The Padawan was excited at the prospect. Master Melucian answered, “Aarik, you may be on to something there, but you would need the Republic Science and Space Ministry, plus Master Hairon’s permission. But, just remember this is just a class project, no plan or solution we come up with is guaranteed to be accepted and implemented by the Republic.”, Melucian replied.

12

“You have to be joking Aarik, Wayland? I don’t know anything about the planet, it could be dangerous”, Taedron said. “Well, here is the information we have on Wayland, mind you it is quite old”, Aarik said handing Taedron the data pad. “Quarantined?”, Taedron sighed his usual sigh and looked at Aarik with the look he usually gives his padawan and lover when he is frustrated at him. “But, Master Melucian is looking into the quarantine, it could have lapsed in the centuries that have passed”, Aarik saying smiling at Taedron. “It won’t work”, Taedron said smiling back, finally shook his head and started pointing, “Fine, if you go, it won’t be alone, if you get permission to land on Wayland and that is still an ‘if’, I will accompany you.” Aarik grabbed his Master and hugged him, “Thank you Master, thank you!” From across the training room one of the other Jedi Masters, Vins Voz yelled laughing, “Whatever it is you agreed to Hairon, you’ll probably regret it!” Taedron waved a hand at Vins, smiled and yelled across the room, “I know, oh, I know!” Taedron looked back at Aarik, eyes fixed on the padawan, “Now can we please get to you lightsaber training?” Aarik smiled back, “Yes Master.”
Aarik assumed his Shii-Cho defensive stance, while his Master assumed his Niman opening stance. Taedron attacked, his use of the Niman form was solid, reliable and balanced, just like Taedron. Aarik was able to block all incoming attacks, one after another, stepping back, careful not to lose his balance. To make Taedron happy he decided to do what he never does, he started with an attack, though it was a basic forward thrust, Taedron’s eyes lit up. Aarik continued with the attack, Taedron was almost glowing with pride at Aarik’s stepping out of the box. After a while, Aarik switched back to defensive and parried his Master’s attacks. When they were finished they bowed at each other and Taedron said to Aarik, “I am proud of you padawan, you did excellent today, I knew you had it in you all this while.” That evening the two discussed the field trip that Aarik intended to take, with Taedron along of course. The two decided if the Ministry agreed to the lifting the quarantine for the probe launch, they would go in two days.
The next morning Aarik was up with Taedron, the two headed downstairs and over to the temple for breakfast. “Nice style Padawan, you have Shii-Cho down from what I see”, Master Voz said to Aarik. “Thank you Master Voz, I appreciate that”, Aarik replied. “Yes, he does and next he will be training Makashi, he needs to move up”, Taedron interjected. Aarik looked at him and he looked back at Aarik with the ‘I am the Master’ look. Aarik said nothing, but just ate.
Aarik walked into the room expecting to find Master Melucian there, however he was not. “Padawan Aarik”, said Melucian as he entered the room from behind Aarik. “I have received a reply from the Republic Science and Space Ministry, they have agreed to let you bypass the quarantine. Did you talk to your Master?” Aarik surprised by the fast response by the Republic said, “Yes, I talked to Master Hairon, he agreed to let me go with the stipulation that he is to accompany me.” Master Melucian agreed, “Wise choice, I don’t blame your Master. If something were to go wrong or you were to encounter something you were not prepared for, Master Hairon would be.”
I started reconfiguring an atmospheric probe last night, I am almost done if you would like to help. “Yes Master, I would be glad to.” After a short while, they were clamping the top panel on the enhanced probe. “When do you think you will be able to go Aarik?” Aarik replied, “Tomorrow Master, if everything is in order.” Melucian tapped his data pad and the small probe chirped and began humming a soft hum. “Well, by these reading, everything seems to be in order”, Master Melucian said.
The next morning Taedron was not exactly excited about the trip, he was loading an R20 series Astromech into the XJ12L X-wing when Aarik walked up. “All set Aarik?” The Padawan replied, “Yes Master, I have the probe, the food Cook sent and am ready to go.” Taedron looked up, from the small loader, “I am glad Cook remembered food”, he said, smiling. “Taedron, it won’t be so bad getting away for a short trip.” Aarik leaned in close, put his hand of Taedron’s shoulder and whispered, “We need this trip.” Taedron answered, “You know what? Your absolutely right, though I thought you insane and Master Melucian not far behind for indulging your insanity, I agree, we do need to get away.” The R20 droid was loaded, he chirped and whistled away. Taedron and Aarik put on their flight helmets and climbed into the cockpit, the hood closed. “Ready?” Aarik replied, “Ready Master”. The small starfighter lifted off the pad and raced into space. “I plotted the course to Wayland last night while you slept and entered it into the R20”, Taedron said. “Thank you Master, I had forgotten that part”, Aarik replied. Taedron then said, “Ok R20, take us to Wayland, the little R20 chirped and seconds later the small starfighter jumped to lightspeed.


13

The trip lasted a few hours and the two took the time to discuss, much to Aarik’s chagrin, his continued development as a Jedi. Taedron had it all prepared ahead, from Aarik’s progression to the Makashi Form in lightsabers to preparing for the Knight Trials. The last of which Taedron himself was hesitant to admit was coming. Aarik was twenty now, though he was far behind most his age, who in classic Jedi training at the temple on Coruscant would be Knights, they had to start preparing him. “Master, if the Jedi Council puts me through the Knight Trials and I pass, what will happen then?” Taedron replied, “Then you would be a Jedi Knight and sent where the Council sees fit to send you. We have had this discussion many times before.” Aarik didn’t say a word, after a short silence, Taedron then laughed, “I am not going to let them send you anywhere Aarik, you will remain at the temple with me and probably end up in Guardian Training and afterwards, maybe teaching some class of sorts.” Taedron continued, “Everyone knows about us, the Jedi council knows about us.” Aarik said, “You really think so?” Taedron replied, “Yes, I didn’t want to admit it, but yes, they know.”
The R20 unit whistled and chirped, then the starfighter dropped out of lightspeed in front of the planet Wayland. “Well, there it is, your planet Wayland”, Taedron said. “R20, find a suitable landing spot so we can get this done.” The little droid chirped and the starfighter started towards the planet, as they entered the skies above the planet, the look of the planet from space had been deceiving, the closer they got to the planet, the end results of the Vongforming of Wayland was apparent. The droid chose an open space in the vegetation, that appeared to be blue-green corals at the base of a large mountain. The starship landed and Aarik and Taedron removed their helmets and got out. Aarik took the small probe and his data pad out of the ship. Taedron said, “This place isn’t safe, he smelled the air, this air contains poisons, we should not breath it for very long Aarik. Do what you need to do and let’s get out of here.” Aarik who was kneeling by the probe looked up at Taedron, “Yes Master.” Aarik pressed a key on the probe’s key pad and it lifted off, shooting up into the sky. “So, this probe will transmit its data to Dantooine, I assume? We do not have to wait on it here right?”, Taedron asked. “That’s right Master, we can go”, Aarik replied. “Well, you can’t see that blue haze from space”, Taedron said pointing down into the valley which was shrouded by layers of a bluish gas. Aarik who was still watching the sky, looked over at the valley, said, “That is peculiar, but, I guess we can go.”

14

The R20 unit started whistling an alarm, the two looked up at the droid. “Mastu!”, a voice yelled. The two turned to see, there were unusual looking beings in tribal dress standing on the ridge towards the base of the mountain. They all had their weapons trained on the two Jedi. Taedron instinctively went for his saber, the aliens open fired. Aarik was not as quick as his Master, the weapons fire hit him multiple times and he fell to the ground. Taedron saw Aarik go down, though he could not help him at the moment. Taedron continued to deflect the alien’s onslaught and he went in. The Jedi Master made quick work of the alien’s and he ran back to Aarik. “Aarik! Aarik!”, Taedron held his padawan, hoping to see him still alive. Panic was rushing through the Jedi Master, his pupil, friend and lover had been critically injured in a stupid move on his own part. Brushing the padawan’s blond hair aside he looked at Aarik’s face, “Aarik, can you hear me?” Aarik opened his eyes, “Yes, it hurts Master” Taedron opened the padawan’s robe, he had been hit three times in the chest. Aarik should have been dead, but he wasn’t and Taedron knew, he wouldn’t last long if he didn’t get medical treatment soon. Taedron laid Aarik gently back to the ground and looked at the starfighter, it was damaged, the engine on their side had been hit by the weapons fire and was smoking, they would be going no where. “R20, see if you can contact the temple on Dantooine”, Taedron said. There was no confirmation from the small droid, Taedron looked over at the R20 unit, it had been hit and was silent. He then got the medical kit out of the ship and climbed back down. He opened the kit and looked for a healing device. There were bacta based medicines, bandages, ointments, clips and other supplies, but no healing device. He took the medicine and read, one was for pain and infection. Taedron gave Aarik and injection of the medicine and cleaned and dressed his padawan’s wounds. They could not stay here, the danger was too great for more alien’s could come.
Taedron picked up Aarik and headed for what seemed to be a forest further away from the base of the mountain. It was a few hundred yards to the forest and Taedron ran carrying Aarik as fast as he could run. As they approached the forest its true nature became apparent, for it was unlike any forest Taedron had ever seen. There were large plants with thorn 1 meter in length covered in orange flowers that resembled Dantooine Daisies, huge pink coral like growths with creatures popping in and out of holes in its trunk. More bizarre were the giant purple fern like plants that as you approached them they disappeared under the ground. Taedron finally found a small opening in the forest to lay Aarik down. Large insects flew by and around them, some resembling dragonflies, some like moths and butterflies. As Taedron stroked Aarik’s cheek he noticed the air was quite pleasant and cool. Then Taedron noticed Aarik’s body had released the calming pheromone, it filled his nostrils and he began to relax. He wondered if Aarik though passed out of the pain had subconsciously released it to calm Taedron.

15

To the Jedi Master’s amazement tiny little creatures had poked up from the ground surrounding Aarik, they resembled little transparent ferns, blowing lightly in the cool breeze that ran through the forest. “Ponju like him”, a voice said from Taedron’s right. This time the Jedi didn’t jerk to a quick reaction, but looked over where the voice came from. It was another alien, but of another species, this one was shorter, greenish and covered in scales. “It would seem so, can they harm him?”, Taedron asked the alien. The alien leaned in on his spear, “No, they no harm, they just curious, he have good spirit, that what they like.” Taedron said puzzled, “How would the creatures know that?” The alien answered, “Just do, most plant and animal brought here by Vongshi do.” Taedron said, “The Vongshi, you mean the Yuuzhen Vong?” the alien replied, “You call one thing, we call other, same thing. I am Heksah, I am Psadan.” Taedron said, “Well Heksah, my friend is injured, can you take us to where he may be healed?” Heksah answered, “How he get hurt?” Taedron opened Aarik’s robe, showing the Psadan warrior his wounds, “We were attacked.” The Psadan said, “Myneyrsh weapons, we can help, bring him and follow.”
Taedron went to pick Aarik up and Aarik’s eyes opened. His eyes began to glow blue, he took a deep breath and a blue glow covered his body. Aarik exhaled and the blue glow went away. A strong pleasant scent was released into the air and creatures flocked from the surrounding forest to see the source, many birds, insects and butterflies were circling the area. Aarik sat up groggily, Taedron stroked his padawan’s face and opened his robe again, the wounds had been healed, and no trace of them remained. “Aarik, how?”, Taedron asked holding him tightly. “I do not know, but I am fine now”, Aarik said smiling. “He healed and smell good too, Heh”, Heksah said, smiling.
Taedron and Aarik were taken to Heksah’s village, they explained why they had come to Wayland. The Psadans sent word to the Myneyrsh and told them about the Jedi and that they meant their people no harm. The Myneyrsh sent a delegation to the Psadan village and they discussed the world with Aarik. It turns out the Vongiformation of Wayland had not wiped out all life on this planet. Aarik and Taedron were picked up the next day by a transport from Dantooine, though eventful, they left the planet no worse for wear than when they arrived.

16

“The Psadan and the Myneyrsh over the past few hundred years have peacefully coexisted together unlike the generations before. The planet Wayland is now a combination of indigenous life and life brought by the Vong, nature has found a balance and the natives of the world are content”, Aarik finished. “Very good Aarik, that was a well put together report on Wayland and the probe data supports your conclusions”, Master Melucian said. Aarik headed home from giving his report to Master Melucian. Still a little tired from the previous days adventure.

Aarik was in his room when Taedron walked in. “I still need to see you during the day, just to make sure you are alright.” Aarik smiled, “I am Master.” Taedron walked over and held his padawan and lover. “Your test results came back Aarik”, Taedron said. “What did they show?”, Aarik asked. “They show you are in perfect health, no trace of injuries at all or ever. I don’t know what happened on that planet, you were gravely injured, I thought I had lost you. Yet somehow you were healed.” Aarik replied, “It must have been the planet that healed me somehow, it may have a connection to the force.” Aarik looked on the chest, “Oh no, not again.” There on the chest was another bottle of Mrs. Hairon’s Spring Potion. Aarik took the bottle and turned it up taking all of the elixir and set the bottle back down. “I don’t see how these are helping me”, Aarik said as they left the room.
The End
by sweufan