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Old 11-10-2006, 04:02 PM   #8
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Five years later...

Dark, straight hair framed the young woman’s face, lightly brushing her shoulders. She sat, back against the wall in a booth in the corner of a small cantina. Her face was completely devoid of emotion, but her clear blue eyes betrayed the feelings of fear and discomfort. When a man dressed in a dark cloak, hood drawn up sat down across from her, she tensed slightly.

“What do you want?” she asked softly.

“You lost your power,” the man answered. “I can get it back. But it’s your choice. Either you agree to reclaim your position or I kill you.”

“That was an unwise threat,” the woman said. “Since my... awakening, I have gained protection.”

“Protection?” the cloaked figure snorted. “Wonder what they’ll say when they find you dead at this table...”

He stood and opened the cloak just enough for her to see the blaster hidden there. And that’s all he had time to do. Without warning a dark blue lightsaber erupted from his chest, hilt planted firmly in the palm of a young former Jedi, now wearing a dark leather tunic and dark trousers with black boots.

“I’ll say it ain’t happenin’,” he growled softly. To the woman, he inquired, “This fella botherin’ you?”

The woman smiled slightly. “Not anymore. Thanks.” Just as quickly as it had been revealed, the lightsaber, which had once belonged to the woman was deactivated and the young man placed it on his belt.

“My pleasure,” he said. “Shall we go?”

The woman nodded and the odd pair left the cantina immediately, the stares of all the patrons following them as they left.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“What I don’t understand is how he knew who I was,” the woman said as they boarded a small cargo vessel. “That’s what scared me the most, really... not so much that we were being followed.”

“They’re bound to attempt tracking the movements of their former leader,” the man answered. “The greatest surprise to me was that they actually found you. But quite the relief they didn’t expect me.”

The woman nodded, slipping into the cockpit as the man trailed behind. The ramp slid shut behind them and the woman collapsed, shivering fearfully into the man’s arms. He wrapped his arms protectively around her.

“Oh, Jast,” she whispered. “That was far too close for my comfort.”

“I’m here,” Jast Kevannis answered softly. “And you have my word: so long as I live, you will never be alone.”

“They almost had me, Jast,” the woman murmured, tears flooding her eyes. “If they had, I just... I don’t know what...”

“Tanith,” Jast whispered, putting a halt to her words. Slowly, she looked up into his eyes. On his face, there was an encouraging smile. “Be strong. I will never leave. Never.”

Tanith Vessa, once a Sith Lady took a deep breath and buried her head in Jast’s chest. “I needed that,” she murmured, her voice muffled.

“Be strong,” Jast encouraged again. “Come on. We’re leaving Corellia. Let’s try someplace a little less... crowded, shall we?”

Tanith nodded. “What about Naboo?” she wondered. “Is it still Sith occupied?”

“Not since last year,” Jast answered. “It’s perfect.”

And the little ship rose from a landing pad in Coronet, rising up into the air and aiming for space.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“Five years,” Reibé said softly. “I’d never have guessed it would have gone so well.”

“What, Vessa and Kevannis?” Strider chuckled. “When he gave up his Knighthood under the guise of joining us, I knew his intentions.”

“So did I,” Reibé retorted. “I just never thought of... well, that.” She gestured forward to where the former Jedi and the former Sith Lady stood, hands clasped together... with a priest or minister of some religious denomination behind them.

“Got me there,” Strider murmured, an amused grin spreading over his face. Jack chuckled softly.

“They do make a good couple,” he pointed out. “Though her blonde eyebrows do sorta stand out against her dyed hair...”

“Jast said something about hair dye being for head hair, not eyebrows,” Aysana said. “Didn’t Tanith’s eyebrows fall out once or something?”

“And they did grow back darker after that,” Strider commented thoughtfully. Suddenly, each of the speaking Hunters felt something remarkably like being flicked on the forehead... hard, and Jast shot a short glare in their direction. Reibé rubbed her forehead and muttered, “Never should’a taught him that...”

The wedding continued to drag on and just as it was ending, as Jast leaned in to kiss his bride, Jack leaned to Reibé and whispered in her ear, “Will you marry me?”

Reibé flushed bright red and turned to Strider. “Uh, Strider?”

“Ssh!” the other Hunter whispered back. Jack tugged on Reibé’s long braid.

“Hey,” he murmured. “Answer the question!”

“Strider!” Reibé hissed, jerking Strider’s head around to face her.

“What?” he demanded quietly, glancing forward to the newlyweds before looking down at his old friend.

“Jack, just... he, umm... just, yeah...” she nodded toward the kissing couple. And Strider couldn’t help himself; he laughed out loud, but was quick to stifle it. Nevertheless, the laugh awarded him another ‘Force flick’ to the forehead.

“And she hasn’t answered!” Jack complained to Strider.

“You did ask at an awkward time,” Strider pointed out.

“So?” Jack shrugged, indifferent. “I asked. She should answer.”

Panicked, Reibé fled the room, followed by the curious eyes of everyone else in the chapel.

“Told you it wasn’t a good time,” Aysana whispered to Jack.

“Umm,” Tanith murmured uncertainly, looking up to Jast for help.

“Weird Sith Hunter business,” Jast whispered to her. “Let’s leave them to it.”

In a hurry, he guided her out to the awaiting shuttle that would take them to a tiny house on a lake of Naboo. When they were gone, Strider turned to Jack.

“While I understand why you did that, you certainly picked the wrong time,” he scolded. “The focus is supposed to be on Jast and Tanith... not you and Reibé.”

“She knew that,” Aysana agreed. “Too bad you didn’t pick up on it.”

“Well it’s not like I’ve been to many weddings in the last three hundred years,” Jack complained. “How’m I supposed to know what’s acceptable and what’s not?”

“Jack.” It was Reibé’s voice. She reentered the chapel, standing just inside the door. “Come with me.” It was an order and significantly startled him. Obediently, he followed. As he left the chapel with Reibé, the other Hunters began bickering about what would happen.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“What was all that about?” Tanith demanded once the shuttle came to rest before the little house. “Back there at the chapel?”

Jast chuckled and finished setting the shuttle’s autopilot to return to Theed once he and Tanith had disembarked. “That was an attempted proposal,” he finally answered, standing from the pilot’s chair and putting his arm around his wife. “Like I said... weird Sith Hunter business.”

“A proposal?” Tanith exclaimed. Jast nodded.

“Don’t try to understand,” he suggested. “How the Hunters can think of one another beyond brothers and sisters after three hundred years together is far beyond me.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

“How could you have said something like that?” Reibé demanded once she had led Jack to a small room and shut the door behind them. “I mean... just... what were you thinking?”

“Thinking maybe I should’a started with ‘I love you’...” Jack muttered.

“I can’t say yes,” Reibé went on. “You caught me so off guard. I mean, during the middle of somebody else’s wedding?”

“Hey, I waited for the end!” Jack objected. “They were kissing!”

“I just...” Reibé stammered. She stumbled over a few more words before again coming up with, “What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking I love you, alright?” Jack snapped. “That’s what! And I thought maybe you felt the same way.”

Startled, Reibé stared at him. Slowly, quietly, she asked, “You... what?”

Softer, Jack answered, “I love you. It’s taken me this long to really understand that. I couldn’t just leave it alone now...”

“Could you maybe have waited like...” Reibé muttered, “... oh, just maybe ten minutes longer?”

“No,” Jack answered. “But I could ask again...” He dropped to his knees in front of Reibé and withdrew a small box. Opening it, he revealed a thin, silver band. “Reibé, I love you. Will you marry me?”

All the color drained from Reibé’s face as she stared at the man kneeling before her. And softly, she whispered. “Yes.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

That night, Jast and Tanith snuggled together by a fire in the fireplace of their little honeymoon house. Their heads rested together, Jast’s just slightly on top of Tanith’s. Both of them seemed perfectly content to stay there forever. Then, Jast smiled.

“You told me you were twenty-nine,” he said softly. “But you told me to hunt around inside your brain for the past you’ve forgotten.”

“And I’m not twenty-nine?” Tanith giggled.

“You’re twenty-three,” Jast answered. “Three years younger than me... not three years older.”

Tanith laughed. “Well we got the three years right anyway,” she said. “What prompted you to do any searching now?”

“Just getting to know my wife,” Jast answered. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“Not at all,” Tanith replied. “I just wish I could know your secrets too.”

Jast put a hand on Tanith’s forehead and closed his eyes, stealing Tanith away through his memories. He took her through his Jedi training, his pain of loosing Tarika; even his feelings after killing Tanith herself.

“Jast,” she whispered.

“No secrets,” he interrupted. And the tour of his past continued. He shared his initial fear after feeling her return and how quickly it was replaced with the need for vengeance a second time. They went through his training with the Sith Hunters and how, in simulation she had defeated him time after time; how once Jast finally gave up, Reibé gave him good advice about letting go of people you cared about.

“That was when your thinking of me began to shift,” Tanith observed aloud.

“When I no longer saw you as an object deserving of death,” Jast agreed. As the images continued, Tanith observed the changes in Jast’s opinion of her. At first, the changes were slight; he still viewed her as someone who had caused great damage to the galaxy that could not be revoked. But gradually, he came to respect her. And slowly, respect became like, and like became love. The memories continued until they came to the day, only weeks ago that the strange cloaked man had threatened Tanith and had been killed by Jast. As they watched the man collapse at being stabbed through the chest, the memory froze as it was.

“When he gave you that choice,” Jast said softly, “what were you thinking?” Immediately, he sensed fear from his wife and he held her tighter. “I’m here,” he whispered.

“I...” she stammered. Images flashed uncalled through her mind and Jast picked them up. They were thoughts of a return to power and complete domination of the galaxy, but as quickly as those thoughts surfaced, they were kicked away, replaced with a sense of firm refusal.

“I’d have made him kill me,” Tanith finally answered. “The power he offered is destructive and I want no part of it.”

Jast’s memory continued and he led her through the days following the stranger’s death, coming to the present. The stream of memories ended and Tanith snuggled in closer, as if cold.

“Thank you,” Jast whispered. “Now I truly know my wife.”

Slowly, Tanith relaxed, finally happy she had gone along with what Jast had done. As he did, she truly felt as if they knew one another. And that was a better wedding gift than any physical gift a person could give.

Mom tells me I need brain food... but if writing ain't that, I don't know what is!

My work in progress:
Hidden Histories: The Galaxy Hacker

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