Words of the Eith part 2

The sound of thunder echoed distantly up from the mouth of his cave. A storm raged outside, but Kaden didn't notice. He didn't notice the smell of static electricity in the air, or feel the electrical shocks from the metal he touched.

Kaden used his mind to pry on the ancient metal lock. The lock secured an equally ancient wood chest. He had been working on opening the chest since morning, and was now close to opening it.

Something was inside the chest. He could feel it. It was something important. He hoped the contents would help him obtain his goal. He wanted to become a master of the legionary Sith-magic. Ever since he has a child, he had been enamored with the stories of the Sith and of their power.

Sweat rolled down Kaden's forehead and stung his eyes. He could lift small objects, firewood and stones, fairly easily, but the lock was deceptively hard. The moving parts inside were fused together with rust. It took a sustained effort to break them apart.

Feeling, rather than hearing, a pin gave way and turned aside.

The lock took him a while to figure out; he had never seen anything like it before. On the outside it looked like a flat, metal box with half of a loop (the locking mechanism, which was threaded into the chest itself) sticking out of the top. Within the sealed casing was a latch which held the hinged half-loop of in place. Pins held the latch securely. The only way to open the lock was to move the pins aside with the Force. It was simple, yet clever.

Kaden had moved four similar pins, and had one left. The last pin moved aside with a raspy squeak. He pulled on the lock and it unlatched.

Finally! The chest was unlocked and its contents were his.

The hinges were rusted too, but allowed the lid to swing. Kaden looked inside the chest and felt his pulse speed. Old scrolls, underneath was a necklace with a crystal pendant, and an ornately decorated cube.

Kaden reached inside and picked the cube up. Startled, he almost dropped it when it lit. Glowing with a cool white light, seemingly to emanate from within its center, he felt it vibrate slightly. He set it upon the ground and was amazed to see it rebound up then hover above the dirt. It slowly rotated on an invisible axis.

The necklace was another wonder. Kaden had heard of gold in the ancient stories, but until now had thought it only a legend. The yellow colored metal gleamed and shined in the firelight.

"The Crystal of the Sith," Kaden said to himself. He picked up the necklace, and was amazed at its weight. The thick gold chain was heavy, but the crystal weighed more. It weighed far more than anything that small should have been. In fact, it was smaller than the tip of his small finger, yet weighed as big as a stone three times that size.

The pendant glowed with an oily-blue color, darker than the sky. Kaden knew of the potential powers of the crystal. The crystal could be used to trap an enemy's soul, imprisoning he or she in its blue depths. He put the necklace on, and decided he liked the feel of its weight.

The box must have been a holocron, Kaden decided. Like gold, his people had stories of such things. He knew that the holocron contained wisdom and knowledge, which he couldn't even begin to imagine. Knowledge meant power. Power meant wealth.

The only problem was he didn't know how to open the holocron or work the crystal.

Kaden picked up the cube, and shook it. It didn't rattle. He rapped on it with his knuckles and found it sounded hollow. Turning it over in his hands, he searched the sides of the box. He couldn't find a seam.

Frustrated, he dropped the box. He watched it fall to the ground, bob up, then hover again.

Frustrated, Kaden swatted at the holocron. He idly watched it bob up and down, then float. Having no choice, he picked up a scroll.

The instructions should be in here. He unraveled the brittle paper and began reading. The script was old, but recognizable. The first part of each scroll contained both curses and warnings to trespassers. The second part contained preservation spells for the paper and ink. The last contained nothing more than ramblings and histories, with vague references to both the holocron and crystal. Each scroll ended with the phrase: Read my hidden words.

What hidden words? He turned the scrolls over, looked at the backsides. He found nothing. He tried reading the first, then the last words of each sentence, and various combinations. Nothing worked. Yet Kaden sensed he was missing something.

At first he was merely frustrated. Now he was angry. Kaden felt his face redden and his heart race. Balling his fists, he bit back the urge to toss the scroll to the fire.

Kaden froze, startled. Old memories flooded to him. Hatred floated in his mind. He could sense HER. With his struggle, he almost missed it.

He had felt her presence in the past, but was always elusive and hidden. But now her power shone bright and clear. He marveled at the tight control and strength, wondering how heíd missed it in the past.

A thought struck him, leaving him cold. She has control I don't posses.

What was she doing that was too important to keep hidden from an enemy? The answer hit him with the fervor of a falling rock. She was too distracted to keep the cloak.

She had always sensed his hatred of her, and hidden accordingly. He had almost given up on finding her. But the opportunity for revenge was now too great.

Kaden eyed the crystal, and an idea formed. Could she teach me? Dose she know how to open the holocron and work the crystal? The idea elated him. If the legends were true, he could poses her soul. A fitting price to pay for the crimes committed by Xyann and her family.

***

OstracismÖ

Occasionally thunder rolled to her ears from the distance. Rain fell from the sky, and dripped onto her face to mix with tears. At Xyannís feet were two fresh graves. One was smaller than the other, containing a child, her nephew. The other grave held her aunt.

She tied to heal her nephew, but couldn't; she wasn't strong enough. She was still weak from pneumonia, though her fever broke days ago.

"My son and wife are dead, yet you live," Uncle stated accusingly. His voice held no contempt, only grief, for his wife and child. "Why--?" His question broke as a bout of coughing overtook him.

Xyann knew her Uncle wished she had died instead of them. A part of her wished she had.

"You know the laws of the people, Xyann. They are written in stone, in the courtyard, for all to read." Uncle paused to cough again. Then he continued, "the only reason I've been allow to grant you sanctuary is the debt owed to your father, from my wife's family."

Xyann held her breath. She knew that the words she feared more than anything were coming. There was nothing she could do to stop them.

"My wife is dead. My wife's family is dead. The debt is now paid, I no longer owe you sanctuary in my home."

Xyann didn't want to believe what she heard. The man who once treated her as if she were his own child, the man who once defended her against the others in the village, was now turning her out.

"A decision was made by the Council of Elders this morning. You are no longer of the people, Xyann. Your name will be struck from the records in three days. If you remain after then, you will be executed." His stern voice then softened. "You have read the histories of the people, you know the war the people fought with the magic-makers. You know why the magic is forbidden." His voice broke with emotion. "You also know what happened to your mother when she chose to ignore our ways." Xyann felt ripples of desperation emanate from him.

"She was destroyed by a Sith," she replied flatly. Half-forgotten memories of a man in black slithered behind her eyes. She remembered the smell of the black leather and the sound of his breathing, and the stench of her own burnt flesh. Her fingers traced the scar on her cheek where the Sithís glowing sword kissed her flesh.

"Your father and grandfather were both good men. We were friends for many years, but see what happened." Uncle looked her strait in the eyes for the first time in days.

She saw that he asked for forgiveness. He coughed again, breaking contact. He needed to be inside resting, not out here in the rain. Xyann could sense he didn't care if his pneumonia killed him; it would ease his pain.

Xyann felt numb. Where would she go? Could she survive alone?

***

It hurt to inhale. His throat was raw and his lungs felt the same. After a few moments of just breathing, he opened his eyes. He felt his eyes strain to focus, but his surroundings remained dark and blurred. His ears were ringing, the sound wavering in time to his heartbeat.

Where am I? Terren thought. He turned his head, which was a mistake. Pain exploded in his skull, then the room blurred. Nausea ate at his stomach. He shut his eyes and concentrated on breathing. Soon, the pain faded into a dull ache that throbbed in time to the ringing in his ears.

***

She felt his pain jab into her mind like a knife, waking her from a dream. She quickly shut the pain aside.

He's awake. Xyann sensed the man wasn't coherent, and used the magic to push him back to sleep.

She picked up her knife and continued with her work. As she scraped her knife along the wood, a shaving curled up and dropped to the floor. A pile of shavings littered the stone floor at her feet. The blade shaped the wood into a flute, which would be used as a birdcall.

The memories of the past two days escaped recognition. Xyann remembered preparing the denna root and cleaning the manís wounds, but nothing else.

I must have used the magic to heal him. She learned how to prepare denna root from her aunt, but couldn't remember where she learned the magic. Often, the magic would come unexpectedly and without thought, like a reflex.

Every ounce of brain in Xyann's skull told her to abandon him and leave. Still, something wouldn't allow her to. Taking him into her home brought great sacrifice. But it was the right thing to do. How can something wrong feel right? Life's experiences had taught her it was wrong to risk one's life for another; it was counterproductive to self-preservation. Besides, no one would do the same for her, so why should she?

"Trust your feelings, Xyann," a voice from a forgotten memory said. Who had said that? Xyann wondered. She tried to remember, but as always, her searches only brought pain; the pain of loss, of anotherís sacrifice.

Sacrifice.

XyannThe healing-magic had given her location to The Dark One. She didn't know who he was, or why she hid from him. He had been growing in power for several seasons and knew of her existence. Heíd searched for her in the past, but eluded him easily, until now. There was no way to hide the healing magic. It was too powerful.

Between the evil one, and the injured man, Xyann was in danger. It was the evil one who she feared most. She knew she could defend herself from the injured man; he had no magic. Like most people, he was blind to it.

It would take little effort. With her powers she could crush his windpipe or stop his heart, if forced to.

The evil one however, was powerful. Xyann didn't know if she could defend herself against him. In one way or another, she knew she was about to find out.

***

Kaden followed the game trail. Walking in a southerly and up direction, he climbed towards her presence. He had traveled for several days, and was now close, or so he thought--he was no longer able to feel her. He relied upon his memory.

She lived higher up the mountainside than he. With the growing altitude and thinning air, the flora and climate changed. Water became scarcer and the plants unrecognizable. The forest was thinner, the trees and brush scraggly-looking. The game was different and more elusive. Nights became unbelievably cold, the days hotter. The only reason someone would chose to live up here was if they were hiding. The thought made him smile.

It was noon of the second day of his trek when Kaden saw something odd. The tops of the trees ahead were broken; branches littered the ground. What could snap the tops off those trees?

Curiosity piqued, Kaden followed the trail of broken trees. At first the trail was hard to see. Only the tallest trees broken, the smaller ones untouched. Progressively, the trail became clearer. Some of the shorter trees were now damaged, and the destruction more distinct.

A flash of light caught his eye. Lying on the ground, several paces away, was the offending piece of metal. It was shinny on one side, white on another.

Kaden turned the piece in his hand, not knowing what it was. Deciding it would make a good knife blade; he tucked it into his pack. Metal was valuable, almost as valuable as salt. It was a lucky find.

After a short hike, Kaden came upon the source of destruction. He held his breath at the sight of the crash. It was huge. More metal than he had ever hoped to see in his life was heaped next to the face of a cliff. What was it?

Walking around it until he came to an opening, he climbed inside. Most of the objects within were unidentifiable. The walls were lined with blinking lights, pipes, buttons, switches, and knobs. Above, on the ceiling, white squares glowed heatlessly, providing illumination. Reddish-brown spots and streaks colored the floor. Blood?

As he followed the trail of blood, pieces of a puzzle slammed together. This is a ship, as in the legends. It fell out of the sky and she rescued the person within. She couldn't use her magic to help him and hide at the same time.

Kaden's heart speed with the implications. The stories of different worlds among the stars were true, just as the stories of the Sith. He could travel to different worlds, and with his Sith-magic, he would fear no one; they would fear him.

***

Terren woke again. His head throbbed, but not as bad as before. The ringing had stopped too. Remembering what happened last time he turned his head, Terren only moved his eyes to take in his surroundings.

Light streamed in from a window. The walls were of smoothed plaster-covered stone, but the ceiling remained rough. No decorations adorned the walls, except hieroglyphs painted on the walls.

Familiar, but unidentifiable, Heíd seen them before, but couldnít recall where.

Blocked by a curtain, an opening on the far wall led to another part of the house. Beyond the curtain, a metal on metal scrapping noise streamed in. Interrupted by a cough, the scraping resumed. Someone's sharpening a knife, Terren thought, identifying the sound.

†Felling better, Terren sat up. The pain in his head intensified with the movement, but was sufferable. His left side hurt too but wasnít bad.

Pealing off his blanket, he saw that his leg below the knee was wrapped in a bandage, two wooden dowels poking out. The primitive splint told him his leg was broken and spoke of primitive technology. He rolled his eyes.

"Great. Just great. Iím stuck god knows where with a bunch of dirty, filthy, primitives," he muttered silently.

The scrapping sound ceased, and a moment later someone pulled back the curtain. She was young, no older than twenty-five. Long, light red hair was tied behind her head. Her eyes were a pale gray, almost colorless. A massive scare ran from her shoulder and down the outside of her bare arm, ending at her elbow. Another scar ran from her chin, along her cheek and ended short of her ear. Her skirt was made from the same rough brown fabric as his blanket; her tank top made of leather. In her right hand was a knife, her left held a cup.

The woman hesitated before entering the room, as if gathering finalizing a reluctant decision. Finally, she walked to the side of the bed. She held the cup to him. "Packada lee due'ka," She said.

Suddenly he realized he was thirsty. Very thirsty, hungry too. Terren took the cup. One sniff told him he didn't want to drink it.

"Due'ka," she repeated, her voice full of command.

"Do you speak basic?" He asked, his voice sounding gritty. He stared impatiently at her for a moment, waiting for an answer. The confused expression on her face told him it would be a long wait. "Don't suppose you have any water?" He asked, not expecting an answer.

"Due'ka," the woman repeated.

Against his best judgment, he plugged his nose and gagged the drink down. The bitter concoction burned his throat and churned in his stomach. He felt his face twist into an expression of disgust.

The woman laughed at him. Her laugh was more nervous than humorous, but it seemed to relive her tension. She gave Terren a second cup, one with water in it. He drank it, and handed the cup back to her. Before he could ask for more, she refilled it from a clay pitcher. He wiped his mouth with his hand and felt several days' worth of stubble on his chin.

Kneeling down next to the bed, she sliced through a knot on Terren's bandage with the knife. "Uhm, do you have a name?" Terren asked, as she unwrapped his leg. He didn't expect an answer, and was surprized when he got one.

She looked up at him. "Name?" Her speech was thick with accent. "Name is Xyann," she said, as she set aside the dowels.

"So, you speak basic after all," he answered. "I'm Terren."

She paused for a moment, thinking. "Remember little of words, Terren," She stated, unwrapping the leg.

Terren blanched at the sight of his wound. A jagged, half-healed, gash ran from below his kneecap to his ankle. A slight lump in the middle of the leg showed where the break was; the bone hadn't been set perfectly. "How long have I been out?"

Xyann thought for a moment, trying to remember words. "Two days."

"That can't be right." The cut on his leg had at least two weeks worth of healing, if not more. "How long is a day here?"

The question brought confusion. Xyann shrugged her shoulders and begun to rewrap the wound with a fresh bandage. "After sun goes around world, is day."

"First of all, your sun doesn't go 'round this world," Terren said. How stupid could this primitive be? "The world travels 'round the sun. Second, I know what a day is, I want to know how long a day is."

Xyann looked into Terren's eyes with a soul-penetrating gaze. She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders in answer. "How's head? Hurt?" she asked, obviously trying to change the subject.

"Just when I move, breathe or sit perfectly still," he answered dryly, arrogantly. He didn't acknowledge the unspoken suggestion he was crazy. "What was that drink you gave me? The uhm, due'ka?"

"Denna leaves, water. Takes pain away."

Next to the bed leaned a wooden staff. The wood was a pinkish color. She handed it to him. "Walk?"

The last thing Terren wanted to do was walk; he just wanted to lie there and enjoy the fact he had survived a crash. Sitting up, he fellt lightheaded. The pain in his leg and head was replaced by numbness. The denna leaves must contain some kind of anesthetic, Terren realized. He stood up and slowly added weight to the leg. It felt week, but supported his weight--almost, enough to allow a hobble.

Xyann pulled back the curtain and tied it open. She then led him out of the bedroom.

The next room, the living area of the house, was about twice the size of the first room and sparce. Along one wall was a fireplace carved out of the stone wall. More of the glyphs were painted onto the hearth. The opposite wall boasted two small, glass-less windows. Shutters hung from hinges on each side of the openings. Terren couldn't see much outside, for plants blocked most of the view.

The other two walls each had a curtain-covered doorway. Xyann pulled and tied one back.

Terren followed her into a passage or hall of some sort. The walls were rough and unpolished. Running water could be heard ahead.

Were not in a house, Terren realized with disdain. We're in a cave.

In a short distance, the passage opened up into a small cavern. A series of open shuttered windows provided enough light to see by. An underground brook poured from the ceiling, spilt over rocks into a pool. The water drained into a second hole, to disappear underground again. A line of drying cloths hung along the closest wall. At the far end of the cavern was another curtained-off room.

Xyann went to the waterfall and took a drink. She then picked up a white waxy lump. "Soap." She tossed Terren the lump. "Don't get leg wet." She went over to the line of cloths and selected a shirt and pants. Both were made of the rough fabric, and were obviously too large for her. "Should fit." She laid them down on the ground, next to the water.

Terren realized how dirty he was. Dried blood crusted his pant leg. Soot blackened his once white shirt. His left sleeve was ripped open to treat what had looked like a burn. His hair was greasy and his face needed a shave.

***

Terren's mind felt pleasantly muzzy, and his body was numb. At first it felt strange, as if he were detached from his body, floating.

Through the fog, he realized the denna was responsible, but he didn't care; the alternative was the pain. Another part of his mind wondered if he were thinking strait, if he would rather endure the pain than have a cloudy mind.

The stew Xyann fed him was scary looking, but to his surprise, tasted pretty good. The greenish-blue color of the liquid came from a potato-like root. The brown meat tasted like nerf. The red crunchy things resembled onion. It only needs salt, he thought to himself.

"Got any more?" Terren asked, holding out his wooden bowl.

She shook her head. "Save food. No rain this season, plants didn't grow, animals went away." The more she spoke, the smoother her speech became. Within the frame of several hours, her accent faded considerably. She looked up at him. "You're twice as big as me, you eat twice as much. Had enough for one turn of the moons but you are here now."

The statement surprised him. Terren noticed for the first time how thin she was. He couldn't remember if she ate or not. "Did you eat?"

"Denna make's you sick, won't work, if you don't eat."

Terren saw that she sidestepped the question. "Did you eat?" he repeated.

"When you slept."

Is she lying? Dirty primitive or not, he felt a pang of guilt. He was eating food that may mean the difference between life and death for her, a month from now. "I have some rations on my ship you gcan have. Do you live alone?"

"A village is half day's walk to the east, had an aunt there. Another village is two days west."

"A half day's walk? Why so far?"

"They do not want me. They say I am evil and bring bad luck," Xyann said, her voice and face seemed to hold no anger or remorse. "My mother's family owed a debt to my father and grandfather, so my uncle and aunt allowed me to live with them. When she died I left. No one wanted me to stay. They think I'm evil."

"What 'bout your parents?"

She remained silent for a long moment. Terren thought she wasnít going to answer when she spoke. "Died when I was eight. I don't remember it. The people say I and my father, and his father, called creatures down from the stars with Sith-magic." Her eyes grew haunted with forgotten memories. "They killed my mother and her people in vengeance. I remember nothing before," she said. "That village was a short walk away."

"I need to see my ship, to see what needs to be fixed. How far is it?" He asked.

"Not far."

"I don't suppose you know where I could find a nav-computer do you?" Terren didn't expect her to know what a computer was, much less where to find one. He was surprised.

"Maybe," Xyann said as she shrugged. "My grandfather had to have a ship. I don't think he could have gotten here without one. If we can't find it, we'll think of something."

***

Terren followed his host through the narrow crack in the wall, which served as a door. The crack was less than half a meter wide, three meters long, and only a meter and a half tall. He gave an irritated groan when the crack opened into a patch of thorn bushes. A small clearing lay beyond the bushes.

Terren looked at the land around him with wonder. The view from her home was spectacular. Xyann's cave was perched along the face of a cliff. The entrance of the cave opened out into a flat, rocky terrace half way up the mountain.

The mountains and valleys were larger than anything he had seen before. Scarps were seen below, looking like canyons, because of their steep and narrowly placed walls. The bottoms of the narrow canyon-valleys were lost under a layer of clouds, but at their elevation, the sky was clear.

More mountains than he could count were in the distance, as far as he could see. The view reminded him of Coruscant, but without the movement and lights of modern civilization. The pyramidish -shaped buildings of Imperial Center resembled the mountains, the canyons looked somewhat like the spacing between buildings. On both worlds, the planet's depths and heights were lost to the naked eye.

The edge of her terrace was lined with broken man-sized boulders and more brush.

Terren wondered why Xyann allowed the bushes to grow so thick around her home, until he turned around to look for the caveís entrance. The bushes covered the windows and hid the doorway. He couldn't see the entrance, even though he knew where to look. Because they were thorn bushes, interlopers would be discouraged to approach her home. It was a perfect hide-away.

A path led from the terrace and into another semi-flat terrace, but was hundreds of times bigger than the one in front of the cave. It was wooded with craggy evergreen trees and more of the thorn bushes. The rocky ground was dry and dusty.

Xyann followed a trail, which seemed invisible to Terren, which led to yet another, even larger terrace. Eventually, Terren began to see evidence of the crash.

He cursed at the sight of his wreaked ship. In the back, where the hyperdrive was, warped metal showed where most of the damage was. If the ship was to fly again, he had a lot of work ahead of him.

***

The hollow clanking noise made under Terren's boots sounded strange, yet familiar. She marveled at how the ship was lighted. The glowing panels shed light, like fire, but gave no heat. She could feel the power which lit them with her mind. This power was like lightning, but much weaker and harnessed.

Opening her mind more, she traced the power. It traveled from a massive reservoir in the back of the ship, through thin strings of metal into the equipment. It then bounced around inside, in a complex manner she couldn't follow. Finally, what was left departed, either flowing into more equipment or traveling back to the power source. She wasn't sure what happened to the power once it returned, but suspected it bled away, back into the reservoir.

"Never see a glow panel before?" Terren asked.

"No," Xyann said, realizing she was starring at the light. "I never thought there would be enough metal to make something so big as this."

Terren used something on his leg called a bone regenerator. It healed what she could not those past few days. He limped a little, but walked with no assistance.

Unfortunately, she was unable to set his leg perfectly, because of the swelling. From her own once broken then poorly set arm, she knew his leg hurt, and probably would for the rest of his life. She could shunt away the pain in her arm, but this man lacked the ability. He would have to endure. If I can heal him, why couldn't I lessen his pain as well? Later, she would try.

"Don't your people know how to smelt metal? This planet is rich in iron and nickel." Terren asked, squirming uncomfortably in the itchy fabric of his shirt.

"Most metal is mixed with rock," Xyann answered, obviously not understanding the word 'smelt.' "They're not my people. I don't claim them as mine, and they don't claim me. I have no people," She continued, a bit defensively.

Terren studied Xyann's face for a moment. "If I had to take a guess, I'd say you're of Alderaan or Corellian ancestry, from looking at your features. You're small like most Alderaanians I've seen, but your face has a Corellian cast to it. 'Xyann' doesn't sound like a Corellian name. Dose it have a meaning in your language?" He asked, trying to change the subject.

"Is a word from my motherís peoplesí language. 'Approaching storm,' but I can think of no words to say it right. It describes the way the clouds look before a storm. When you can see the clouds and the lightning in the distance, but you hear no thunder, and the air still feels calm. I will show you tonight. The storms come every night." She paused for a moment then continued, "I wish I had another name, I don't like it."

Terren remembered the strength of the storm he crashed in, then shivered. "Got a second name?"

Xyann opened her mouth to say 'no,' but the word never came out. A memory nagged at her brain. Markee, Xyann Markee. She knew she had never heard the name before, but it felt right. "Markee."

"Congratulation kid, you have a Corellian name. That means your folks were probably Corellian, which means you're Corellian."

"Are you sure?" Xyann asked. She didn't know how or why, but Terren's words felt right.

***

Terren sympathize with the sound of hope in her voice. Like Xyann, he knew very little of his own parents. His name was the only thing to connect him to family he never knew. Though he didn't know his parents, he knew he was Intellan. That small fact gave him a rudimentary feeling of having a heritage. Being Intellan was one of the few things of his past he was proud of. "If you look like a Corellian, sound like a Corellian and act like a Corellian, you probably are a Corellian."

"Can you fix your ship?"

Terren heard her voice shift from hope to gloom. "I think I can, if I'm able to find the parts. Now would be a good time to find that ship of yours," Terren said.

"I don't know where it is, or if there is one."

"I'll fix what I can," Terren said, letting out a sigh. The thought of leaving his beloved Dividend twisted his gut.

***

Xyann looked through a cracked veiwport, to the distance. Past a distant mountaintop, she could see the approaching evening storm. The sun was setting, which colored the sky orange. The clouds appeared to be a scarlet blanket, with the tops of mountains poking through. Occasionally, a burst of lightning lit the clouds from within, giving it an eerie glow. "Terren, you wanted to see the xyann?"

Terren approached the veiwport and looked out, over Xyann's shoulder. He took a deep breath. "It's beautiful," Terren commented.

He decided the name 'Xyann' suited the woman well. Physically Xyann wasn't beautiful, pretty perhaps, but far from beautiful. The features of her face were too sharp and angular, and the scars too prominent. But she possessed a quiet strength, which matched the storm. There was something else about her, which he couldn't describe.

She hesitated, then said, "Another person is here, looking for me. I don't know why, but he shouldn't have access the ship." Xyann paused for a moment, before continuing. "He was here, in this ship, not long before we came today. He is watching us now."

"I don't see anybody," Terren said, looking.

"He is too far away for us to see with our eyes." She shrugged. She hesitated again, then continued. "He wants something from me. He wants the ship, and something else."

"I don't understand," Terren said. What's he going to do with a broken ship?"

"Not this ship, my grandfatherís," Xyann said. Her eyes held a far away look in them. "He wants to find me. I don't know why."

How could she feel something like that? Is she lying or just delusional? "Dose he know where you live?" Terren asked.

"He found me when I fixed your leg and ribs. I can usually hide from him, and I don't know if he can hide from me. I think he may be scared of my magic," Xyann answered.

Magic? Terren suddenly remembered what Xyann said when he asked why she lived so far from the village. His brain was too fogged then to make the connection then, but suddenly it became a bit clearer.

When the empire started hunting the Jedi, her family must have fled to this planet. Vader must of found them, and leveled the village she spoke of. Somehow she escaped. "Are you a Jedi"?

"I don't know that word."

"Jedi are said to have special powers, magic," Terren said. He didnít know much about Jedi, only that they were enemies of the Empire. The New republic was said to have a few Jedi in their ranks.

"Like the Sith?"

Sith? "Yeah, like the Sith." Terrenís brain made another connection. Wasnít Lord Vader called the Dark Lord of the Sith?

Xyann looked at Terren with an odd mixture of amazed wonder, fear and relief. "There are others who can use the magic? How many are there?" Her voice became more subdued while she looked down at her feet. "I've always been different. When I realized no one else could do or hear the things I could, I thought there was something wrong with me, like I was cursed. Like the Sith creatures from the old stories. When the people found out what I could do, they hated me. They were afraid of me," Xyann said in a quiet voice. She lifted her eyes and looked into Terren's. "Am I evil?"

Am I evil? The question jolted through Terren. Did she grow up believing she was evil? "No. I don't think you're evil," Terren said, trying to make her smile. "I've met some pretty nasty people. Nope, you don't have the scowl for it. Now Darth Vader, he had a scowl. Well, at least I think he did behind that mask."

"Darth Vader?" She asked. "I sometimes dream of a man in black, named Vader. He was real?" Xyann shook her head. Her hand went to the scar on her arm. "In my dream he did this with a red light," Xyann said.

Terren looked at the woman, deciding if he should be amazed or doubtful. Few people ever escaped Darth Vader's legionary lightsaber alive, much less with only a few scars to show for it. "When I was in the imperial navy, many years ago, I saw him a few times. He never spoke to me, and I never spoke to him. I didn't want to. He had some kind of strange aurora about him."

"He was said to have hunted and killed the Jedi years ago," Terren continued. I'm guessing your folks came here thirty or thirty-five years ago to hide from him."

"And you think he found them?" Xyann said, more to herself than Terren. "He killed a whole village just for my family? Why would someone do that?"

"Because he was evil."

***

Terren changed another cyberfuze. He stopped counting them at twenty. The lightning, which struck his ship, acted like ion blasts; strong ion blasts. The electricity overloaded most systems, including artificial gravity, communications, propulsion and shields. Replacing the cyberfuzes would fix most of those systems.

The exhaust line could be patched. Fiber-optic cables could either be rerouted or temporally mended. With the addition of a few spare parts, the sub-light engines would be up again.

The hyperdrive and communication system was a bit more difficult. The hyperdrive motivator was fried, literally. Its casing had several cracks and the contents were melted into a silicone and metal lump, which had oozed out of the cracks..

The most important part of the ship, and I don't have a spare, Terren thought bitterly to himself. He had always meant to get one, but never got around to it. Something had always seemed more important at the time, like paying rent or buying food.

As he worked, he though of the conversation he and Xyann had that afternoon. It had brought back many old memories he thought he had learned to put behind him. Memories of serving the Imperial navy at the height of its glory, the law and order, and stability it imposed.

He was, and still is, proud to call himself an officer. Then the rebels took it away. All of it. He knew he should hate Xyann, at least fear her for her abilities, but he didnít. She was just a woman, not the evil creature his imagination tried to make her.

With his hydrospanner, Terren sealed yet another access plate. The 'spanner slipped out of his grease-covered hands, crashing to the floor. Terren glanced over his shoulder to see if the noise woke Xyann.

She was curled up on a small padded bench in the galley. Occasionally, she would mutter something in her language, and her eyes rolled under closed lids. She's dreaming, Terren thought, wondering what she was dreaming about.

Suddenly, Terren was overcome with loneliness. He missed his wife and little girl. He wanted to go home.

***