Japor — Chapter 10 Rating: PG-13

I sat in the maelstrom, my eyes closed, and my focus inward. I fought my inner demons, tried my best to hold onto my inner light. I was failing at both. The darkness beckoned and cajoled, promised and threatened. I both yearned for it and shunned it.

I was failing, falling, because ultimately I wanted what it offered, so much more than I wanted to deny it.

I was in the maelstrom and could not find my way out because ultimately I liked what it was offering more than I wanted out.

Then, into the maelstrom stepped a shining beacon of light. It consisted of hope and friendship and love. Yes there was pain and sorrow, confusion and anger, fear and guilt, but I could see they were just temporary overlays on the life and vitality of that beacon.

It was shining and beautiful.

It was pure and golden.

It was all the best things in life.

It smelled like strawberries and honey.

I opened my eyes and there kneeling next to me was Jysella, fear and worry in her eyes. The wind was blowing her raven hair across my face, where it tickled my nose. She reached out and placed her hand on my cheek, a simple gesture, my saving grace. I tilted my head, leaning into her hand. I could barely hear her, as if I was a great distance from her, as she said "Please stay."

I closed my eyes again, once more settling into the maelstrom, and felt that beacon of light, life, love and laughter wrap around me, driving the darkness away, accepting me. I leaned into the embrace, and realized that the dark was something I really did want to deny. The smell of her hair filled my nose, as she willingly held me and I began to cry.

That was what the darkness could not offer me. I could posses anything by using it, but those I loved and cared for would not willingly help me, would not willingly hold me. They would not willingly accept and love me. If I accepted the dark, I would always know that what I gained by its use would be but a pale shadow of what I lost due to its use.

Other Jedi finally arrived. I could feel my parents and my aunt and uncle, plus all the masters that were at my parent's house when Jysella and I snuck out. I could feel Saba recoil slightly at the pain, anger and hate that bubbled in the Force.

I imagine we looked quite the sight. Covered in dirt, I was laying half on the ground and half on Jysella, one arm holding my broken ribs; the other wrapped tightly around one of Jysella's arms as it held me. My face buried in her hair, resting on her shoulder. Jysella next to me on her knees both of her arms around me. With Jaina unconscious next to us both, the wound to her face and eyes clearly visible.

The blackened stripe that said she would never fly again, as it stared sightlessly at the stars that she loved so much.

We were taken to the medical center again, where all three of us got dunked into Bacta.

I was decanted first, and moved to a room. Of course I did not stay. As soon as the orderly had left; I snuck out and went back to the Bacta Tank area. I pulled up a chair between Jaina's and Jysella's tanks and there I sat, not moving, not thinking, I was just trying to be.

I sighed slightly and thought to myself "things never go that easily" as my dad walked in. He pulled up a chair next to mine and said "I went to your room to see you, why did you not stay there?"

I looked at my dad; the lines of pain and worry etched onto his face, and ignored his question as I said "I'm sorry dad. I failed. I was given a choice between Jysella and Jaina, I could only save one, and they both still ended up here in Bacta."

My dad looked at me, and said in that maddeningly calm voice of his "Why do you believe that is a failure? If you had not been there, Jaina would have died, if you had chosen differently, they both might have died. No the failure was not in your decision between Jysella and Jaina, if anything your failure was in the decision in going out with just the two of you. Why didn't you get your mom or me?"

I looked down, not having an answer to his questions; or at least not having one I wanted to honestly answer. Instead I went off on a different tangent and said "I saw Anakin in a dream."

Dad allowed himself to get diverted by that statement as a pained look appeared in his eyes and he replied, "Tell me."

So I told him of my dream, of how I battled the dark one, and watched as he killed Tahiri and mortally wounded Jysella, of the certainty that the Jedi were once again extinct, of how he, mom, aunt Leia and Jaina appeared to me, quoting various lines I had heard about avoiding the dark side. Finally I told him of the discussion that I held with Anakin, until Jaina's pain woke me.

He just looked at me with those calm eyes he has, and said "Please Ben, next time, tell us these things first. You are not immortal, though with the level of power you have it may seem that way. These half-thought out excursions, could lead you into serious danger, and one of these days you won't have the raw talent to be able to get out of it. Or worse, you drag someone along with you that lacks the raw talent to get out of it. How would you feel if young Tish followed you on one of these things, and died trying to emulate you?"

At this point, some med techs came in to decant Jysella, so my dad and I backed away as they did their job.

As they wheeled her out of the Bacta area, and towards the room she would be staying in, I turned to follow. With a last look over my shoulder at my dad I said "When Jaina comes out, tell her…tell her that I'm sorry and that I love her. I…I should have been able to save them both dad. I should have been powerful enough to save them both. I'll be in Jys' room."

I then walked out of the room, following the orderlies, leaving my father staring after me with a strange look on his face.

After the medics had got her situated into a room, I sat in a chair next to her bed. I smiled as she looked my way and I said "Hi."

She smiled in return and muttered something about being sleepy. So I told her that line I often heard about getting some rest and took up my vigil by her bedside, once again determined to not leave her side until she demanded it of me, all the while silently praying that she never would.

I dozed, and once again I dreamed. I found myself in the Grotto, not as I had seen it last, torn and ripped from my battle, but as I remembered it from my first visit, pristine, harmonious and sacred. There standing with his back to me was Anakin; he glanced once over his shoulder, smiled and then turned back and continued reading the plinth in front of him. As he finished he turned towards me and with a smirk said "I never would have thought Kyp would have such nice things to say about me. Now young Jedi, why do you doubt your decision?"

Frowning slightly, I replied, "Not one for small talk are you?"

After all, I had avoided this discussion with my dad. I didn't really want to have it with my dead cousin.

He just smiled and said "Time flies in this realm. We never know when we will be disturbed and you awakened. Besides, Tahiri was always the talker. Now, why do you doubt your decision?"

Doing a simple breathing exercise, I told him. I told him of the pain they both ended up feeling, of my anger and the hate that almost consumed me. I told him of my guilt.

He looked at me, through me, as if conversing with someone I could not see nor hear. Finally his eyes once again focused on mine, as he began to speak, "Ben, the Force needs you to be confidant and strong. That is why I have been allowed to see you these two times. As such, I am allowed to show you what might have been. If you had chosen differently, this is how the events would have played out. As well, I must warn you, it will not be a single vision, but multiple ones, as every choice we make has its basis in a previous choice made. You will see them all. Yet never again will you be given a vision of what might have been. From this point on, you must trust in the Force. As my brother is so fond of saying these days, you must choose and act."

As he finished talking, he reached out and placed his palm against my head, and I saw.

To Part Nine | To Part Eleven

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