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“Nayama?” Jolee called out as he walked into their house. “I’m home!” The Jedi slipped off his brown robe and moved to hang it up when his hand froze in mid-air. The darkness slithered around him, sensual fingers begging him to give in to their embrace. His other hand moved instinctively to the lightsaber dangling from his belt.
“Jolee.” The darkness evaporated at the sound of her voice, a rich velvet that enfolded him and held the promise of much more.
He turned to her, a wide, bright smile lightening his deep brown face, and he inhaled every millimeter of Nayama as if he’d never met her before. Her long, silky black hair that begged to be stroked. The brazen spark in her bronze eyes. He gave into the siren call of her full lips and pulled her into his arms for a long kiss, feeling her curved bounty melt against him.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, breaking free of his lips to catch her breath. “We have to talk.”
“If it’s about how much I love you, absolutely.”
“So am I.”
Nayama searched Jolee’s eyes, and a smile slowly crept up her lips. “I met someone very interesting a few weeks back. A man who has a different view on politics. You’d be intrigued by his ideas. I want you to come with me to meet him.”
“I hate politics, love.”
“This is different. He wants to bring a new ‘Golden Age’ to the galaxy. Bring order to all the chaos and idiotic bickering in the Senate. Stop all the crazy planetary wars that just eat up resources that could be used for better things—new hyperspace routes, better defense designs, improved medical care. He makes a lot of sense, Jolee.”
“‘Golden Age’? Oh, Force, Nayama, you’ve been talking to Exar Kun’s people?”
Nayama’s smug smile crept higher. “Oh, not just Exar Kun’s people, Jolee. Exar Kun himself.”
Jolee’s eyes widened, and his arms stiffened around her. “Exar Kun? Do you have any idea how dangerous that man is? And his ideas?”
“About as dangerous as a gizka,” Nayama laughed. “I was completely safe the whole time—he has wonderful security.”
“Pfft. Wonderful security to protect him from getting killed.”
Nayama traced a finger down the length of his jaw and kissed him again. “Come with me, please. I’ve joined his cause. I’ll be leaving for the Outer Rim tomorrow. I told him all about you and how you’ve been training me. He said he could use a man with your skills. He wants to give you your own command.”
“I’m a Padawan, Nayama. There are hundreds of people with far better skills than mine. Can’t you see what he’s doing? Blowing fodder-dust your way.”
“I see him offering you a chance to climb to the top of his organization, be a leader of something great. You’ll never get that with the Jedi.”
“I don’t want to be a leader in an evil organization.”
“Not evil, Jolee. Enlightened. I’ve seen his plans. He’ll be the greatest leader the galaxy has ever seen. Please, Jolee, come with me.” She nestled against him and laid her head on his chest. “I don’t want to be without you. If we combine our skills, we’ll rise to the top. The galaxy could be ours one day. Exar Kun can’t live forever.”
Jolee cradled her head against him. “Do you realize what you’re doing? What you’re asking? You’re asking me to betray everything for a psychopath with delusions of grandeur. Betray the order, betray the oath I swore to it. Betray everything good in the universe. He wants to take over the galaxy, not save it, Nayama. I can’t do that. I can’t betray billions of people.”
Nayama’s eyes narrowed as she looked up at him. “You’d betray your own wife? Our love? What about your oath to me? You’d choose people you don’t even know across an entire galaxy over me? I thought I meant more to you than that.”
“Don’t say that, please. No one’s ever meant more to me than you. No one ever will. I love you. Exar Kun will get destroyed by the Republic and the Jedi, and no one who’s with him is safe. I don’t want to lose you. If you join him, you’ve just signed your death sentence. I’m begging you, Nayama, don’t leave me. I couldn’t bear to see you get killed.”
Nayama broke free from his embrace. “Do you really think that little of my skills?”
“Force, no! You’re as brilliant as you are gorgeous. We’ll have to go to the temple at Coruscant soon for more training, in fact. There’s not much more I can teach you now.”
Nayama snorted. “Those pretentious snobs wouldn’t let you train me before. Why would they let me train now?”
“I’ll convince them.”
“They won’t take me. And you know why? It’s because they’re afraid of my power. Don’t you see, Jolee? They preach all the time ‘There is no fear’, but they’re scared to death of what could be for both of us. Why do you think you haven’t been promoted to Knight yet?”
“I’m not ready.”
“No, they say you’re not ready. Any idiot can see you’re better than half the Jedi out there.”
“There’s a big difference between knowing a skill in your head and knowing it with your hands, your feet, your heart.”
“Humph. I think they’re nothing but hypocrites and liars. Exar’s promised to take my training further than they ever could. And yours, too, Jolee,” she purred, slinking up to him, draping her arms around his neck again. “Come with me, dearest. Exar’s promised we can be together.”
“He’d promise someone his mother’s heart if it would get him what he wants.”
Nayama frowned. “That’s not fair. He’s always been honest with me.”
“Has he? Has he told you how he plans to take over the galaxy? Has he told you what using dark side powers does to you? Has he been honest about how bad it’ll be for people to lose their freedom?”
“He’s not going to take away their freedom. He’s just going to enforce order to make the galaxy more productive,” she sniffed.
Jolee broke away from her to put his arms on her shoulders. His concerned eyes met her fiery ones. “Look at me! He’ll be just like every other Sith that has flown the galaxy. He won’t stop at order. He’ll only stop at complete domination. Do you want people living like those poor souls did under the Ukatis king? Do you really want to be an Enforcer again? That’s what you’ll become again if you do this.”
“I am not going to be an Enforcer again. I resent you saying that. It’s clear where your true love is, and it’s obviously not me. In fact, maybe I should just leave tonight. You let me know when you decide to join me. I’ll always take you back, Jolee. I love you too much not to forgive you for your lack of priorities.” Nayama turned and started to stalk off.
“Nayama—wait!” Jolee grabbed her arm.
She turned back and smirked. “Why Jolee, have you changed your mind already?”
“I’m not going to let you do this. I love you too much to let you destroy yourself. You’re staying right here, damn it!”
Black fury stormed across her face, igniting her eyes. “I’m what?”
“You heard me. You’re staying here. With me.”
She burst out laughing. “Your precious Force persuade may have worked when you kidnapped me off Ukatis. It doesn’t work now. I’ve been your wife long enough to be immune to it. You’re going to have to accept the fact that I love you enough to do what’s best for both of us, and that’s being on the winning side. Now, let me go.” She pulled hard to free her wrist.
Jolee held tight, and called on the Force to bring calm. He smiled gently. “I can’t let you go. I love you too much to let you get yourself killed in Exar Kun’s foolishness.”
“Let go, Jolee,” she said, her voice a quiet dagger.
“I can’t. I won’t.”
Nayama glared at him. “You will.” She pulled her lightsaber off her belt.
Jolee’s breath quickened as he pleaded, “Don’t do this, Nayama. You can walk away from Kun right now. The Republic needs you, the Order needs you. I need you.”
She chuckled without mirth, hefting the lightsaber up and down. “Exar said it might come to this.”
Jolee closed his eyes to fight the watering, despair making his heart ache. He held her wrist gently, even after he heard the snap-hiss of her lightsaber jumping to life.
“Let me go before I kill you,” she snarled.
“I can’t let you go, love,” Jolee choked out against the sadness that strangled his throat.
Nayama whirled her saber and slashed at him. He ducked, rolled, and came up with the twin blades of his saber lit. She snapped off furious blows, driving Jolee back against a wall, pressing against his lightsaber to push his blade into his body. She brought her face so close to his that he could feel her hard breathing brush him. “Exar said if I can’t bring you back alive, I should bring you back dead.”
“Exar’s an idiot.” Jolee kicked out her feet from under her. She fell awkwardly but rolled just as Jolee drove his saber down towards her arm. She jumped back to her feet, and attacked again. Jolee blocked the blows with grim efficiency, heart racing as fast as his blades. She raised her blade to strike his head, and Jolee saw the opening. He snapped his blade up, slicing through her saber. It flew out of her hands, sparking and smoking. Jolee pointed the end of his lightsaber at her heart.
Nayama looked at her hands briefly, then slid her eyes from the tip of the blade back up to his eyes. She slowly smiled her contempt. “You can’t kill me, can you.”
Jolee’s chest heaved, but not from exertion. The tears streamed, and he shook his head.
“You betray me and the Order both. You’re doing very well today.”
“Just go.” Jolee pointed at the door.
Nayama regarded him a moment longer, turned, and walked out. Jolee walked over to the window to watch her leave. He watched until her speeder was out of sight, and leaned heavily against the frame. “I’ll never betray your love, Nayama. Never,” he whispered to the empty house.
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