Japor — Chapter 7 Rating: PG-13

The day Jysella was to be released was the day the murderer struck again. There in the lobby of the medical center an autopsy was performed on Jedi Healer Tekli. She had been flayed, cut open and every internal organ removed and spread about the lobby. Apparently, it had taken hours, but no one had felt a thing in the Force, and to make matters even more aggravating, the holorecorders did not capture anything either.

I heard later some of the more minor details of what happened. Things such as how the murderer had drawn, in the bluish green of dried Chadra Fan blood, the Japor icon; repeating it on every one of the transparent doors into and out of the Medical Center. Also, sitting in the body where her heart should have been, sat the power pack for a lightsaber.

Fortunately neither Jysella nor I had to see the mess. I'm not sure how well she would have handled it. Truthfully, I am not sure how well I would have handled it either. I had already seen to much death and was not looking forward to more.

My parents and I took her back to our home, and set her up in our guest room.

That was another discussion that I had that week. My parent's original intentions were to put her up with the other Padawans who were living on Ossus without their families. I argued that she needed to stay with us. I used their failures with Tahiri as an argument. I used anything I thought could help me win my case, even to the point of saying if Jysella moved into the barracks, I would move in there as well.

I wanted Jysella close, because of my fears. I feared for her being alone. I feared for her needing comfort. Ultimately, I feared that the murderer would come to finish the job. And maybe just a little, I wanted her to just be near me.

At that point what I consciously knew was that I just did not want someone else I knew, loved or respected to be hurt. I just wanted the nightmare to be over.

Blasted Skywalker luck.

After Jysella was settled and asleep, I went to my quarters and decided I needed to do something more constructive than pacing the floor. I decided I needed to learn some more about the Japor icon. So I sent some messages out over the holonet to the trader on Naboo about the icon, specifically trying to get some information on its history and where he got it. I then contacted a cultural expert to see if the distinctive markings on the icon meant anything to any known culture.

After I sent out the messages I looked out the window and noticed Jysella trying to sneak away.

Of course I snuck out the window to follow. I caught up to her as she entered the door of her house. I reached out and placed my hand on her shoulder and said "Jys."

This caused Jysella to jump and scream. She turned to me, with tears in her eyes and said "Ben! Why? Why did it have to happen? Why would whoever did this, do it to us?"

I wrapped my arms around her and replied, "I don't know Jys. I just don't. But I'm here for you."

After her tears had subsided a bit, I asked "Why did you come here tonight Jys?"

"I don't know. I just, I needed to see. See my house, see where it happened. I guess I was just hoping to understand."

Nodding my head, I took her hand and said "Come on then, let's go look around."

We went upstairs first, and looked inside Jysella's room, but there was nothing really there. She picked up a few mementos that were not too badly damaged, and then we went to her parent's room, where we did the same thing.

Finally, we went into the main room of the house, the one where the lightsaber fight took place. Here the fire damage was extensive. The windows damaged. Couches, tables, and shelves burned, some slashed. Not much survived in this room. As I was poking in a corner I found something though. When I initially saw it I thought it was just another burned table leg, but it just looked wrong to me. So I bent down, picked it up and as I did, it flopped. Calling Jysella over to look at it, it finally hit me what I was holding. It was the tail of a barabel.

Wondering why the crime scene techs did not find it, I turned to Jysella and said "Come on, we need to get this to my parents."

So off we went back to my house to show my parents what we had found. Dad was not happy, but my Mom was a boiling pot of anger. She spat out a number of those Correlian words that I'm not supposed to know. The sad thing was we had just walked in the front door.

Apparently, it was not a good thing for two young padawans to go running off in the middle of the night together. It also turns out that while Jysella was in the medical center, Dad instituted a curfew due to the killer. So while it was bad enough we were running around outside at night together, rummaging through the burned out hulk of the Horn house, we were breaking curfew to do so.

I interjected "Well, that was why we snuck out our windows" into her angry yelling at the two of us, which was not one of my better ideas. It ranked right up there with telling Booster that I wanted to climb into bed with his granddaughter again just to see his face turn purple.

Right about the point it appeared that Mom and me were going to draw our sabers and have at it, my Dad stepped in with a Force enhanced "Enough!" Then we both got the stare. The one Dad used on Jedi who have misbehaved and said "Jedi must be at peace, and in control of their emotions. The yelling and fighting you two are doing solves nothing but it does breed anger, mistrust and hate."

Chagrined, I apologized to my parents for both the yelling and sneaking out. Surprisingly my mom apologized to me to, explaining that it was more worry than true anger and that she just did not want to see the two of us hurt.

I finally got to tell them about the barabel tail we had found.

My parents called my Master, Cilghal, Kyp Durron, Kyle Katarn, Kam Solusar, Saba Sabatyne and Tionne so they could discuss what I had found.

Jacen asked if they could still be joiners, and Cilghal explained the effect should have been ended by now, as that is their experience with Tekli, Zekk and Jaina.

This is when I put in the fact that those three had not spent the past three years exiled alone to Dagobah. In fact they had spent more time apart on various missions or in the medical center than together.

And then they were off, yelling and snapping at each other. It was as if the past three years of unity the Master's Council had experienced had never happened.

Sighing, I turned from them and noticed that Jysella had fallen asleep on a couch. As I picked her up to take her to her room, she slightly awoke and wrapped her arms around my neck and put her head on my shoulder. The smell of her hair filled my nose; it was a great and wonderful smell, a smell that reminded me of honey and strawberries and all the good things in life.

A distinctly different concept than what I had been dealing with recently, but one I was most happy to experience. Truth be known, I carried her to her room much slower than I had to, taking the extra time just to smell her hair.

I got her to her room, laid her on her bed, and turned to go. This is when she reached out and grabbed my tunic. Turning towards her, I saw the fear, unshed tears and what was almost panic in her eyes as she said "Ben, please don't leave me alone." I saw a single tear escape from those eyes, which just two weeks ago were filled with such hope and light and life as she added, "I don't want to be alone. I, I'm scared. Please?"

So I did what any self-respecting Jedi trainee would do. I stayed with her.

To Part Six | To Part Eight

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