Noble Betrayal   Rating: PG
Diana DeRiggs

Many thanks to Csillag, with whom I wrote Discovering Their Past, and Children of the Arixi, both of which inspired this tale.



Many years ago, a Jedi male came to the Arixi Convent, and he and I conceived twins, a boy and a girl. Both were given away to appreciative adoptive parents; it is the mission of the Arixi to keep a supply of Jedi in the galaxy.

Our mission has become more urgent -- many of the Force-touched Sisters have had the same frightening vision, of a great evil filling the Galaxy, with many Jedi killed. Worse, the visions all point to the murderer of the holy ones by one of their own.

In respones, many of the women have been taking medicaments that enhance their fertility, or extend the natural period of time a woman can conceive children. I am beyond this; I am very old. I have birthed over 20 children with varying degrees of Force talent. My work now is to help prepare the younger women, and to care for them as their time to birth or conceive draws closer.

The Jedi Temple is not aware of our urgency. It seems they do not see the dangers coming. But it is not the habit of the Arixi to take our cues from the Jedi. Historically, there is greater danger to us in any given era of history than to them. For we are the fount from which the Jedi come.

A Jedi Knight will come to the convent and impregnate the women ready to receive him. Occasionally, a Knight may be allowed to find us more than once, but the Arixi convent is never in one place for long, to minimize the desire to find us again. It is normal and natural for some men to wish a second time with such a group of healthy, willing, fertile females. But to allow this might encourage possessiveness, which is never a good thing for those who are bonded to protect the Galaxy.

But in our times of urgency, we sometimes allow some Knights to come again. This is dangerous, since some of the Sisters may become attached to a particular Jedi, and may even fancy having a normal life with him. But as the Jedi are forbidden possessions and attachment, we are forbidden knowledge of the identity of the father of our childen, or of the children themselves. We birth them, then heal, then breed again. There is no nurturing or mothering.

But my very first time as a Breeder, the Knight who impregnated me let me see him. This little bit of knowledge was a drug to me, and I learned how to get more. It has become a surreptitious habit to me now; I can find information in ways and means not normally detectable to anyone.

That's how I found out about my first two children -- the boy was taken into the Temple and became a great Knight. The girl was taken into slavery. But whether Jedi or slave, both children were born simply as tools and agents of the Force.

I don't even actively search for information anymore -- it seems to pop out at me, even when no one else detects it. Of my children, I believe seven are in the Temple, eleven in government, another four in the military. And as I said, one in slavery, though I think she is now dead; I can no longer feel her. Likewise with my first son.

How is that just? How can I be responsible for creating servants and slaves to the Galaxy? What's worse, it's done in complete secrecy and denial. My children do not even get the glory of knowing their holy mission.

For a long time now, I have been collecting things -- small artifacts, some documents. I don't dare make a holocron of my experiences; making such a thing always leaves a record or trace somewhere in the system. So I have resorted to old-fashioned thievery and hard copies to acquire my stash. It is wrong, but I justify it -- knowledge is a noble thing, but only when it is managed and shared.

In volume, it is not large, maybe the size of my hand in length, width and thickness. But it may as well be the size of a bantha, for I have no means to get it to anyone. And to whom shall I give it? I once fantasized about sending these to my daughter or son, but as I said, I suspect they are both dead now.

But an opportunity has at last presented itself: I know a Jedi will arrive soon, called by the Force. Several of our human women are almost ready; the window for successful impregnation is deceptively small. He must implant his seed within a period of two days in each woman. The Breeders will be made available to him as they come ready. If we are lucky, the Jedi will be strong and will impregnate all the available Breeders; of not, he will need to leave before this mission can be completed.

I fell I know about this Jedi. I do not know his name, but he feels familiar to me. I am not strong in the Force, but it nevertheless touches me, and it always does so when it has something to tell me about my children. I do not think he is of my line, but I believe he is intimately concerned with my progeny.

I peek at the man entering the convent; he is not tall, but he is broad-shouldered and solidly built, with reddish-brown hair and a beard. His face is wise, with big, intelligent, blue eyes. He will produce Force-strong, talented children; the Force tells me so.

But what's important to me is his ship and 'droid. I have decided my cache of documents needs to make it's way to the Jedi Temple, so that someone there may know about the Arixi and their mission. I am an old woman; my life is no longer of consequence to me or to anyone else. If they choose to execute me, I am at the end of my life, anyway. It is worth this great risk.

I fear that our Order will have to be disassembled soon; then who will remember us? What will happen to our children? No, it is my mission at the end of my life, to make sure some information about us survives.

There are several women to be impregnated, so I know the Jedi will be away for at least another few hours. I approach his starfighter, with the 'droid offset to the side. The mechanical creature swings his domed head as it detects me, but I continue to approach. I observe it has a blind spot, so I walk around the fighter, hoping the 'droid does not have access to weapons on the ship.

Knowing that a magnetic clamp would disrupt the electromagnetic forcefield that runs through the ship, and thus be detected immediately, I settle for an old-fashioned polymer adhesive. My little bundle is wrapped well and I lay under the ship and carefully open the maintenance hatch and stuck it onto the underside of the little door. I close the door carefully and I hear the 'droid sounding alarmed.

I tell the little mechanoid that it's okay, I just want his Master to take a parcel to the Temple for me. It's not dangerous, except in the way that information can lead to discontent or recriminations. If possible, the 'droid should let his Master know to give it directly to the Library; there is no urgency to look at the contents, but I just wanted the information to be safe.

The 'droid toodled at me as if he understood. I smiled at it and decided it was safe to walk away now, to risk turning my back to him. But as I had decided to go, I thought about my datapad, with all my memories on it, which I've kept secretly on me all these years. The Arixi are allowed to write and teach, of course, but my thoughts have been about my children, and their fathers; I've never mentioned my datapad, and I suspect that would not be allowed.

I walked over to the 'droid and asked him to do me a favor, to take my little diary with him. He appeared to think a moment, then one of the panels in his domed head opened. I carefully wriggled the datapad into the slot, and watched him seal the opening firmly. He whistled at me, and it sounded like "Good-bye." So I left.

I barely had time to duck behind a tree when the Jedi left the convent, walking briskly. He was finishd sooner than I thought he could; he must be very strong, indeed. He hesitated and looked toward my hiding place, and I meditated to become invisible to him. He didn't stop, he merely faltered a bit, then continued on his path back to his ship. As he got in and prepared his ship for launch, I wondered at my betrayal of the Arixi. Was it really betrayal? Am I being selfish? Would my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren ever know how and why they came to be?

As I watched the contrail form, then fade, I knew it was too late to worry about it any longer, and put it out of my mind.

* * * * *

EPILOGUE

I attending with the midwives as the women have their babies. From the timing, I knew this particular lovely red-head was one of the women visited by the Jedi who had taken my secret parcel. Her pregnancy was troubled because she had three embryos. One -- the boy -- had died about halfway through gestation, and her body was in danger of rejecting all the fetuses in response to the poor boy's death.

Her time was finally over, and she meditated to ease the pain and to enhance the health of her surviving babies. The first child -- a girl -- came out, screaming and hollering. The child was long, with a full head of red hair. Even though she was just born, I could see she inherited her mother's fine bones, and her father's expression. The dead baby came next, then another girl, who contrasted with her sister. She had very little hair, but it was red also; she, like her older sister, had green eyes as well. But her personality seemed more introspective, and she was less long -- more like her father -- and more delicate looking. The Arixi who see me cry at the arrival of a baby assume I am crying with happiness; in fact, I cry because I know more about the father than the mother does.

The Galaxy is an unstable place, and getting less secure by the day. Usually, at least one of these girls would be kept at the convent, perhaps both. But in deference to the bad times to come, both girls will be given away.

I hope someday they encounter their father. He is a good man, but the Force has told me that he must suffer the weight of the universe on his soul. I think it would bring him peace to know his daughters; but the Force tells me he will know no peace in his life, so perhaps he will never meet them. I murmured a little prayer for both girls, as well as their father.

I remember the Jedi jogging toward his ship, eager to get back to his "normal" job, that of keeping peace in the Galaxy. The function he performed with the Arixi Sisters was important too, but he seemed to be glad to have dispensed with it. This Jedi successfully impregnated many women. I feel he puts the good of the Galaxy before himself. He didn't even stay to rest, as many Jedi do; they are entitled. He is conscientious, indeed ... perhaps too much so.

The life of the Jedi is noble, certainly ... but so lonely. The life of the Arixi is likewise. I don't know that this could possibly be right.


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