Sometimes the best plan is neither fighting nor running
Aarik and Taedron were walking downstairs one morning when they heard arguing coming from the kitchen. “Should we go in?”, Aarik asked. Taedron looked back at him, “I don’t know, I’d rather not”, Taedron answered. For he had rarely seen his mother, Versax Hairon the former Nightsister in a mood before, it wasn’t pleasant. “Well, I need coffee Taedron, so I am going in.” Taedron laughed, “Ok Aarik if your head doesn’t come flying back through the door, I’ll take it as a sign everything is ok and I’ll come in.”
“Good morning everyone”, Aarik said as he entered the kitchen. “Aarik tell Cook I need my herbs from Dathomir for my potions”, Mrs. Hairon said. “Cook, Mrs. Hairon needs her herbs from Dathomir for her potions.” She said, “See!” Cook replied with a raised voice, “You told him to tell me that!” Taedron walked into the room, acting oblivious to the situation. “Good morning, mother, father, COO.” The COO droid said, “Good morning Master Hairon.” Cook and Mrs. Hairon were just looking at each other. “Mrs. Hairon had been in a tizzy all morning after she discovered that someone had left the heating panels on all day and over the previous night on her herb garden, the herbs had all died”, Cook said. “Yes and it probably was you old man”, she added. “I did not do it, I merely went out to pick some of the spicy marjoram yesterday morning early and I turned the lights on, well, you may be right, maybe I turned on the panels as well. Fine then, we'll go to that wretched world I rescued you from and get more!”, Cook finished. “You did NOT rescue me you fool. I did not need rescuing, I was a Nightsister Spiritualist! I went with you because you sweet talked me into falling in love with you”, Mrs. Hairon said in a curt tone. Aarik said, “That is a sweet story." “Well, he was a dashing and daring smuggler back then and he could cook like no other. I actually think I fell in love with his off world dishes, that’s why I left with him”, she said finally smiling and gave Cook a little kiss. “I would do it again, even though he turned out the way he did”, she added. Cook smiled an returned the kiss, “Well, looks like we will be going to Dathomir. COO take over for me, we may as well take what we have prepared to the temple and you can use the automated kitchen for what’s left.” The droid answered, “Certainly Cook.” They got the breakfast over to the temple and Cook made sure everything was in order there for COO-2180. Cook went back home to pack some food and drink for the trip. Mrs. Hairon got the supplies they needed to dig they herbs up and transport them, shovels and flower pots.
Aarik said to Taedron, “I am going with them to Dathomir.” Taedron looked at him, “Oh I am sure of that. So, I assume you want me to tell Master Melucian you won’t be there for your lesson and that you will make up the lightsaber training with me another day?” Aarik smiled, “Yes, something like that.” Taedron smiled at his Padawan and lover. “You got it, look after them, they are not as young as they were when they used to have adventures and remember, Dathomir is a dangerous planet Aarik. You have never been anywhere like it.” Taedron said his goodbyes to the three as they headed loaded the supplies and boarded the small freighter Evasion, owned by Hambas “Swifty” Hairon, Cook’s real name. The old ship was prepped and they took off. Dathomir was not too far away and would take about half a day in hyperspace to reach.
Aarik was eating a snack and finally said, “Tell me the whole story of how you two met again. From what I can remember it was pretty interesting.” Mrs. Hairon laughed, “It was that.” Cook said, “Well, ok, I’ll tell it. One day I was traveling the Hydian Way fully loaded with Giggledust, a very valuable spice, when I was attacked by Spider Clan Pirates and my ship was damaged. I didn’t want to be stranded in space and then be boarded by those Spider Clan Pirates, they would have killed me and taken all of my spice! Well, the closest planet to this stretch of the hyperlane was Dathomir. How I loathed to land on that forsaken rock. But, I had to do what I had to do.” Cook continued, “So, I approach the planet, still being pursued by the Spider Clan Pirates and decided to land at the abandoned spaceport in the south of the main continent. I landed and unfortunately, it had become occupied by Nightsisters. Now, my ship was at its end, it needed repairs and would go no further. I landed on the pad by another ship. The other ship on the landing pad looked to be in as bad of shape or worse shape than mine. What was I to do, I was in between a rock and a hard place. I just decided to see how this would work out. I got out of the ship and was taken prisoner by the Nightsisters.” Mrs. Hairon said, “That is when he met me and his life turned for the better.” Cook continued, “Well, that is true, that evening she brought me my supper. It was awful and I told her so. Versax said I was lucky they didn’t kill me and said if I could cook any better to prove it. I agreed and she escorted me to the kitchen, the big Nightsister cook that was there moved to the side and let me do my work.” Mrs. Hairon laughed and said, “He really impressed Borgah. She was the big cook he was talking about, he trained her to be a real chef there in that old kitchen.” Cook continued with his story, “In return for me teaching their cook how to be a real chef, by utilizing better local ingredients available to them, they allowed me to fix my ship. Versax had been spending time with me in the kitchen and in my cell, all of my wild smuggler tales won her heart and she prepared to leave with me.” Mrs. Hairon added, “I took seeds from all of my favorite herbs and plants that I would need to continue to make my potions, I took my book as well,” Cook said, “And when it was time for me to leave, she had hid herself on my ship and we left Dathomir.”
Aarik said, “I knew I remembered it being a good story. Thanks for telling it to me again.” Aarik went to the back and took a nap, by that afternoon they had arrived at Dathomir. Aarik saw that the planet was indeed menacing looking yet beautiful, he was ready to see the surface. They landed in an open area near a forest, close to the mountains and the particularly tall peak of the Singing Mountain. The blue grass expanse was wide and rolling to the north and the soil that peaked through looked like red clay. Not the small bushes and plants scattered sparsely around the area were the herbs Mrs. Hairon was looking for, at least three of the varieties were missing. They took the shovels and the small pots to replant the herbs and set out to dig them up. There were some that were already in seed, meaning that Mrs. Hairon could pick the dried seed pods off and grow them at home without taking the plant. However, at least half of the varieties need to be brought home as plants. “Aarik, see if you can find me a walishk weed , it is the small, pale grayish one and has tiny pink flowers that retract when you touch it and thorns, do you remember it from my garden?” Aarik thought about it and remembered the plant, “Yes, I remember it, it is the one that smells like honey, but you don’t touch the thorns, because they are poison and you get a fever and everything is pink for two days.” Mrs. Hairon said, “Yes that is right, see you do remember what I teach you.”
Aarik searched the various clumps of herbs here and there across the wide field. As he got close to the forest at the edge of the grass he felt it, he was being watched. Aarik knew he had better start walking back to the others, not turning his back to the forest he started taking steps backwards. The group of Singing Mountain Clan rushed from the forest, Aarik grabbed his saber and it lit up. The group surrounded him, there were males and females, most around his age some younger some older. Two of them were riding Rancors and that scared Aarik more than the people did. They were dressed in cloth tunics, the males were bare-chested, some were dressed in more elaborate costumes. It was like a scene from some movie set in ancient times. A female spoke up, stepping closer she carried a tall spear, “We are the Singing Mountain Clan. What are you doing here Jedi?” Aarik answered trying not to appear nervous. “I have come to gather plants and herbs for medicinal purposes.” Aarik did not want to endanger Mrs. Hairon or Cook by letting him know he was not alone, for he was over the hill from the ship and the two were not visible. “Medicinal herbs, you are joking a Jedi would have no use for that, you are lying”, the female replied. One of the tall shirtless males stepped up, “He is pretty, let’s take him with us.” She smiled an evil smile, “Yes, he is pretty but he is a Jedi, the fight would not be worth the loss on our part.” Aarik was kind of flattered by their remarks. “His hair color is like the sun”, the tall male walked up Aarik knew he wasn’t in trouble, they were not looking for a fight, just curious. The tall male who Aarik thought was very attractive in a sort of rugged way, reached out and touched Aarik’s hair, feeling it. “Let’s go”, the female said. “Be careful Jedi, some on this planet are not as restrained as we are. Some may think you a slave worthy of dying to have.” The male dropped Aarik’s hair and looked him in the eye. Then he turned and joined the others as they disappeared into the forest. The look that the male had given Aarik was of desire, it was the first time anyone else had looked at him that way besides Taedron. Aarik put his saber back on his side and headed back over the ridge to the ship. “Aarik, I looked all over and only found one walishk weed, I see you didn’t find one either. No matter, one will get me started.” Then they noticed Aarik wasn’t saying anything, “What’s wrong Aarik?”, Cook asked. Aarik told them the story of what had just happened. “Why didn’t you call to us? We were right here over the hill, we could have helped you”, the two were very upset, but Aarik let them know it was fine and he was in no real danger. Two more people could have aggravated the situation. The two agreed and both breathed a sigh of relief that the situation took care of itself.
They arrived back on Dantooine late that night, Taedron was still awake waiting on them. That night in bed Aarik told Taderon the story, the complete story, including what the male clan member had said. Taedron said, “Well I knew you all could have gotten in trouble. Next time, I’ll go with you all. And don’t let other men play with your hair, that is just for me.”