Japor — Chapter 8 Rating: PG-13

That night I dreamed again. This dream did not have the vibrancy or urgency of my earlier dream or vision, but I personally think it was more disturbing, especially in light of what happened later.

I was in the clearing where Tahiri was being held in a cage and I was getting her down. I heard the thrum of Jysella's lightsaber behind me, when I heard another suddenly ignite and Jysella scream out I turned and saw a black form holding a silver bladed lightsaber. I felt amusement as the being looked at the crumbled form of Jysella, steam coming from a wound in her stomach, and I felt rage ignite within me. Oddly, the amusement coming from the dark form just grew greater. I saw the black clad arm draw back and throw his saber. I watched as it flew past me and straight into Tahiri's heart. Then the saber shot back to the hand that threw it.

I grabbed my saber and ignited it, the anger coming off me in waves and lunged at the black form. My attack was parried effortlessly, and I received a kick to the stomach which knocked me to the ground. Keeping my saber ignited and between us, I got back to my feet and attacked again.

I slashed and parried, but was never able to get into the dark one's defenses past the second ring.

I felt the futility, despair and the hopelessness of it all. I attacked and attacked, and was punished and punished. I could feel Jysella's life slipping away, and the void in the Force that was Tahiri. I attacked and attacked, pushed out with the Force and realized that the only Jedi I could sense was Jysella and me.

I felt the dark one laughing at me as I realized this, and I tried to figure out how it could have killed all the Jedi.

I attacked and never won. My rage grew while the dark form's amusement grew.

Then it all disappeared.

Suddenly my father was standing before me, and I stumbled as I halted the swing of my blade. He smiled at me and said "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." Then he disappeared.

Then standing before me was my mother, and she was saying, "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." Then she disappeared.

Next my aunt Leia appeared and she was saying, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." Then she disappeared.

I turned around again, and found myself looking at my cousin Jaina. Her eyes were haunted and bloodshot, but she opened her mouth to speak and said "Beware of the dark side. Anger, fear and aggression, these belong to the dark side of the Force. Easily they flow; quickly you can find them in a fight." Then she disappeared.

Turning around in that dark, I looked and looked, but could see nothing and then there appeared before me, someone else. Someone I had only seen in holos, my cousin Anakin. He smiled at me, looking so much like uncle Han and said "Hiya Ben. Whatcha up to?"

Looking around, all I saw was a dark fog and replied, "Uhm, I was fighting the dark one, Tahiri was dead, and Jysella was dying. I had to stop it."

"Why?' was his simple reply.

"What? What do you mean why?"

As he walked closer, he answered me "It's simple, why did the dark one need to be fought? You are a Jedi, is fighting with lightsabers all that you are? Is it all that you were taught?"

At this point, he thumped me on the head as he continued his lecture "You are a Jedi, you must be at peace when you act. Serenity is your calling. Fear, anger, hate, guilt, rage, jealousy, suffering, these are all paths to the dark side. You must remain calm and at peace, to do otherwise is to deny all that your father and mother have fought and sacrificed for. If you honor your parents, you must remain calm and at peace. When you are passive, you will know the true way of the Jedi. Remember, a Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack. If you fall, so do the Jedi."

I opened my mouth to reply and I felt a blinding pain.

I woke, lying on my back, with Jysella's head on my chest and my arms wrapped around her. I could feel the pain in the Force. It was coming from someone close to me. Family. I closed my eyes and focused on the pain and recognized Jaina's Force presence.

Extracting myself from underneath Jysella woke her. She looked at me with those clear, sea-green eyes of hers and asked, "Where are you going?"

I replied, "Jaina needs help. She's in pain."

As I pulled my boots on, she jumped out of the bed and said she was coming with me. I opened the door slightly and could hear the Master's Council downstairs still going at it, so I decided to sneak out of the window for the second time that night. A quick look at Jysella made me realize that she would not be left behind without a long argument, which I would probably lose anyways, and I could feel the Force urging haste. So with a quick nod of my head, we went out into the night, together.

I followed Jaina's pain in the Force to the Grotto. There was Jaina, and much to my shock the dark form from my dream, each circling the other lightsabers drawn. I noticed that Jaina was wounded, a slice to the leg and another to the arm. Igniting my saber I rushed at them and ran face first into a Force wall. Bouncing back, I felt the blood as it began to trickle out of my nose. I reached out with the Force and yanked the Force wall down by sheer will. This is when the dark form finally took notice of me. As the dark form stared in my direction, it acted almost absentmindedly as it slashed and parried with Jaina.

I ignited my saber again and rushed him. Stretching out my feelings I realized with a slight shock that I could feel nothing of my adversary. While the dark form did not feel like a void the way the Yuuzhan Vong do, I just felt nothing, as if the shields being used against me were so powerful, they totally masked the dark one's presence.

There were no ripples in the Force, no void in the Force, the dark one just was not there as far as the Force was concerned. Life flowed through that spot as if nothing stood where I could see the dark one standing.

As Jysella and I joined in the fight, I finally felt something; the dark one was beginning to radiate amusement. It radiated an amusement, which quickly bubbled over into the Force equivalent of sidesplitting laughter.

The dark one was laughing as it fought to a standstill Jaina, Jsyella and me.

Of course, it was probably even more disturbing when it stopped laughing and started really fighting. A flick of the arm, and Jysella was sent flying against one of the plinths and knocked unconscious. The hand pointed towards me and Force lightning shot out at me, which I barely manage to block on my lightsaber.

Of course, my blocking the lightning just made the dark one angry, and that angry resolved itself to Force lightning being hurled at Jaina, who because of her wounds, just missed blocking it. I noticed the dark one had thrown its lightsaber; the saber was on a perfect path to slice through the plinth which Jysella had been thrown against, and was currently on the ground unconscious where it would fall.

These things were happening at effectively different ends of the Grotto at the same time. I recognized that I was being set up with a choice. Help Jaina or help Jysella. It was a deceptively simple choice, one or the other, who do I save. Do I continue to battle the dark one, stopping the lightning that was striking Jaina? Or do I rush to save Jysella, and keep her from being crushed beneath the plinth.

In my head, I heard my Master's voice, "You must choose and act. Neither decision is right, neither decision is wrong. But choose you must. Now decide."

At the time, my Master was not talking about deciding on the life of his sister or my best friend, but the concept is a fundamental truth. I had to make a decision, carry it out, and live with the consequences.

Jaina or Jysella, I had to decide who got to live, who I was going to ignore and who I was going to help. For the first time in my life, I had to play the gardener.

I had to choose and act.

So I did.

To Part Seven | To Part Nine

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