Out of Darkness

Chapter 4

Her head didn't hurt anymore.

It was the first thing Callista noticed when she woke from a deep but restless sleep. The dreams--she remembered the dreams had been terrible. The biting cold of the water against her delicate skin... The savage howl of the winds... The pale, gaunt face of the man they had freed from captivity... The uninvited images would have kept anyone awake, but fatigue and the massive dose of medicine she'd been given had pulled her into heavy slumber, trapping her in the nightmare.

Outside, not a hint of the tumultuous events of the early morning remained. The still ocean waters gently rocked the ark, telling Callista that the mighty storm had finally come and gone. Through the see-through clouds in the pale blue sky, the blinding sunlight forced its way into her window, as if overjoyed by its newfound freedom.

It was as if everything that she had seen and heard and felt in the early morning hours had been nothing but a cruel hoax--a hoax that had vaporized with the morning fog.

But of course, she knew better.

No longer crippled by mind-numbing pain, she attempted to sit up in bed--until a hint of light-headedness threatened to take hold of her at any moment, and she quickly bowed to its whim. She closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall, her head still sore where the bump touched the cold metal. Instinctively, she reached up to touch sore spot, gritting her teeth and drawing a sharp breath of air as she did.

Just a few more seconds, she negotiated with herself. Gripping her pillows, she summoned all her energy to enter a brief meditative state, hoping to rid herself of the dizziness. I'll just stay here for a few more seconds, and then I'll be all right...

Grogginess lingered like a thin layer of fog on her brain. She vaguely remembered the stab of perigen that a frantic Manzir had administered in the wee hours of the morning, when she had begun to slip dangerously in and out of consciousness again. Pieces of early morning came to her now in disjointed images: Jeor and Manzir standing just beyond her--two hazy figures who gestured wildly and spoke in hushed tones. Their words seemed random and senseless to Callista, like a foreign language she only half-understood as blackness loomed over her.

It hurt just to think.

"It's worse than I thought!" Jeor barked at someone. Now he was on the other side of the room--how did he get there? Had she blacked out without even realizing it? She couldn't quite make out who stood by his side as he shouted, though from the way the shoulders slumped, it must have been Salmo.

Panic swept through her as her hand felt something warm and wet trickle from the bump in her head. Before she could even react, she heard Jeor shout, "She's bleeding!" Through half-closed eyes, she saw him call for help, arms swinging in all directions like a malfunctioning droid experiencing a bad burnout. The coppery smell of her own blood caked on her matted curls burned her nostrils--the only thing keeping her from succumbing to unconsciousness altogether. "Somebody get the med kit down here now!"

She must have been fighting to sit up. Manzir gently held her down, pinning her arms to the floor. Too weak to loosen her wrists from Manzir's grip, Callista could only lie there, descending into the quicksand of pain as the old woman said over and over again, "Please, Callista, stay still... You're going to be all right, but you have to stay still..."

"You hang on, Cal," Jeor told her. He was back at her side. "Help is coming, don't you worry..."

"Jeor," she murmured, "Where is he?" The pain tearing at her skull seemed inconsequential now--more important was helping the man they had freed, whom Callista could no longer see in the distance. "What happened when I was out? Where-"

"Shh..." Manzir whispered. She slid one hand under Callista's head, pulling her gently into her lap, while the other hand squeezed Callista's hand. "Don't worry about that now, my child, you have to relax..."

Her lids felt heavy, as if lead weights hung from the tips of her lashes, but she struggled to keep her eyes open. Perhaps he was still there, but she was just too dazed to see him. He had to be there. He had to.

"We have to help him... Didn't you see how scared he was?"


It hurts... It hurts so much...

The pain was excruciating. It pressed on her crown with the weight of a thousand Gamorrean boars stomping their angry feet, pounding away indiscriminately with their fists. Hot, fat tears rolled down her face, mingling with her sweat as she fought to stay awake. She felt darkness rapidly approaching and overtaking her, until the welcome shock of Manzir's shot took her by surprise. With the perigen came a glorious wave of relief that washed over her. Callista closed her eyes and gave in to the sweet release, feeling her breath slow down and the throbbing in her head ease.

"We have to... do... something..." she whispered one last time, as the pain slowly drifted away. "We have to..."

We have to do something...

The words echoed in Callista's mind like a broken holovid as she shielded her eyes from the sun's rays. With some effort, she rolled over--gingerly, so should wouldn't invite dizziness--to catch a glimpse of the chronometer on her nightstand. No, she groaned. It was a little over 1400 hours, which meant she had been asleep for more than ten hours now. The medicine had packed a punch, knocking her out for the rest of the morning. What still remained in her bloodstream now caused her to stumble slightly as she rose from bed.

"He's got to be here somewhere," she whispered, once again remembering the man. Remembering his wailing and the thrashing of his arms. The wild fear in his eyes. The words he spoke that had made her shudder:

If they find us... They will kill us...

There was something about him she couldn't shake, from the moment she laid eyes on the coffin-like case that had gleamed a cool silver in the weak moonlight. Something about him had grabbed her by the throat and refused to let go. It was as if she could--however vaguely--sense him, though everything in her said it was impossible.

Hadn't she already learned that painful lesson more than once?

Still she had to wonder, if this wasn't the Force that was guiding her, whispering in her ear, then... What was it?

You are still a Jedi.

Luke had told that her once, after one of their grueling practice sessions had left her drained, physically and emotionally. When the dam holding her tears back finally broke and gushed, he had held her close and kissed her, telling her with mere gesture that this too would pass in time. His arms became her sanctuary, absorbing all the frustration and bitterness and disappointment. Six years later she could still hear the certainty in his voice and recall the unwavering faith in his blue eyes.

"However empty you feel without the Force," he said, the strength of him somehow awakening her own resolve, "you will always have the heart and soul of a Jedi. Never forget that."

He could always make her believe in the impossible.

Silently, she whispered a thank you to him, and part of her almost believed that he could hear it--through time and distance and emptiness in the Force.

He was right. She may have lost her most powerful ally--the very thing that once gave her powers she had only barely tapped into before they slipped away from her--but she had not lost her knowledge or her instincts.

And her instincts told her she had to find the man.

The hall was silent and empty when she stepped outside her cabin. Darkness obscured one end of the upward sloping passageway, while light emanated from the opposite end. The wooden floor beneath her creaked lightly as she made her way up the hallway. She had to be careful. Manzir would scold her, she knew, if the old woman caught her sneaking outside of her room only a few hours after she had suffered a bad concussion. But Callista was determined to risk it anyway.

There was a mystery waiting to be solved, and she would be the one to do it.

"Callista? What are you doing up?"

Callista gasped and swung around. There, stepping out from under the shadows was a concerned Salmo, looking even smaller and more frail than usual as he looked back at her with concern.

"I didn't see you there," she said, laughing.

Salmo smiled without looking in her eyes. "I... I was just coming to see you... To see how you were," he said. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." He laughed as he came closer. "That's funny, huh? Me scaring someone?"

Callista suppressed a smile. Sweet and unassuming, Salmo was the polar opposite of his father, both in personality and in appearance. The sight of them together was almost laughable--Jeor, a hulking mass of a man, and Salmo, small and meek next to his side. Jeor's blustering persona threatened to swallow the timid Salmo whole at times.

"How are you feeling?" he asked. Greasy locks of fair hair fell in his eyes as he spoke--Callista guessed that he must have purposely grown his hair long to avoid looking people straight in the eyes--and he inched just a bit closer to her, as if wanting to make sure she was really all right.

"I'm still a little shaky," she admitted, "but considering everything, I guess I'm feeling a lot better." She let out an exasperated laugh and caught a glimpse of Salmo's chagrined smile before he took his eyes away from her and focused on the ground beneath him, his face red-hot with embarrassment.

Manzir had told her of the young man's crush on her, and though Callista was flattered, she wasn't quite sure how to handle his infatuation. Romance had never even crossed her mind in the last few years. It would have felt too much like betraying Luke.

"You scared us all last night," he said, eyes still cast downward. "I'm... glad you're all right now..."

Callista gave him a grateful smile. "I have to admit I got a little scared there myself," she said. "But thanks to you, they were able to help me right away. I remember it was you that got the med kit, Salmo. If it hadn't been for the perigen..."

Blood rushed to his pale cheeks again and he looked down on the ground as he nodded. "You were hurt--I wanted to do what I could," he said softly. Finally he looked up, his light brown eyes saucer-wide, as if silently pleading with her. "Cal, I'd... feel a lot better if you'd go back and rest..."

Callista started to say something, then paused and simply turned her head behind her to look at the end of the long hallway. "Salmo, what happened to the man after we freed him?" she said simply, hoping he'd at least give her some grain of information. "I... don't remember much... I remember coming to and he was gone..."

He grimaced and took a deep breath. From the look on his face--the pursed lips and the hesitant eyes, Callista knew something had happened when she was unconscious. "He went out of control again, Cal. After you managed to get him to calm down, he lost it again, and we had to hold him down somehow. You passed out, and we managed to give him a tranquilizer and get him to a room."

"Where is he now?"

Salmo gestured down the passageway. "Up there," he said, pointing to one of the rooms a few doors from Callista's cabin. "He's been sleeping all morning. Father's been in there keeping an eye on him in case he wakes up."

Callista looked at the room he motioned towards and nodded. Cautiously, she asked, "Can I see him?"

She saw his shoulders tense, go up involuntarily as he drew and held his breath. "You really shouldn't even be up, Cal," he said. "After the shape you were in..."

"I promise you I'll take it easy," she assured him. "I just... I need to see him. I can't explain why..."

For a few minutes, Salmo didn't make a move. Callista could tell he was debating inwardly about whether to help her or not, his face wrinkled in concentration, his eyes darting back and forth from her to the room behind her. Finally he nodded.

"Grandmother's going to kill me if she finds out you're up," he said, giving her a weary smile. "Come on, follow me."

"What is she doing out of her room?" demanded Jeor, albeit without his usual vociferousness as he cast a sideways glance at the still-sleeping man, as if to ensure that he had not woken him. "Salmo, I thought I told you to check on her?"

The younger man shrank, his voice dropping to a timid whisper. "I... I did, Father," he stammered. "I went to see her like you said-"

Callista stepped in between the two men. "Jeor, it's not his fault," she interjected, holding up her hand to the disgruntled captain, though she knew he would never under any circumstances lay a hand on his own son. "He did come to see me, only... I had already snuck out of my room." Before Jeor could answer, Callista quickly added, "You know me--stubborn fishrider, right?"

He let out a resigned sigh and shook his head. "What am I going to do with you," he mumbled through his beard. Callista saw one corner of his mouth creep upward in a reluctant smile. "Tell me you're going to take better care of yourself? I've already got one child, I can't be worrying about another one, too..."

She grinned back, for a moment reminded of the times she would manage a sign of capitulation from her own iron-willed father.

How she missed him.

His face came to her, the sad eyes that spoke of his heartbreak even as he wished her well on her journey to follow Djinn. He had never understood her decision to leave, nor had he ever understood the gift that his daughter had even at an early age. But he had let her follow her calling--away from him, away from his world, away from his way of life.

At times like these, Jeor reminded her of him: the way he looked at her with concern and strange wonder, as if there were part of her he couldn't understand.

"So what do you say," she said, clearing her throat, "Truce?"

He chuckled under his breath. "You're lucky I'm a forgiving man, young lady."

Callista smirked and gave Salmo a mischievous wink. "I always knew you were a softie at heart, right Salmo?"

"Hey, do ya mind? I've got a reputation to protect! Don't be going around spreading malicious gossip like that, Cal..."

He managed a tired laugh as he rubbed at his face and covered a yawn. Callista noticed his bloodshot eyes, rimmed with exhaustion and worry. "Look at you," she said softly, laying a hand on his arm. "Why don't you and Salmo get some sleep? You can't have gotten much sleep since yesterday, let me take this shift for a while..."

Jeor said nothing for a moment. She had expected him to protest--to bristle at her suggestion that she be left alone with the stranger who only hours ago had to be restrained. She watched him stare at the man in silence, as if committing every detail to memory. Finally turned to her and released a low sigh. "Yeah, I am pretty beat," he admitted. "But you're sure... You're sure you're going to be fine in here? What if-"

"It'll be all right, don't worry," Callista said, before he could even finish the thought. She wasn't even sure if this was courage or just plain blind naivete that was speaking for her, but she nonchalantly brushed aside his concern and gave him a reassuring smile. "Go on... Get some rest, both of you. I know you must need it."

Halfway to the door, Jeor paused and turned back to face her. "You'll call us, right?" he said, "If anything should happen? You saw what he did before... You don't know what he'll be like when he wakes up..."

"I'll call for help the minute I don't feel safe--I promise."

Jeor exchanged worried glances with Salmo. For a moment, Callista thought he had changed his mind and decided to stay. But then he finally nodded. "Yeah, I guess I shouldn't be too worried... You Jedi can take care of yourselves, can't you?"

She laughed softly in spite of herself. "They did teach us a few tricks," she remarked wryly.

He threw one more cautious look at the sleeping man. "Be careful," he said simply, before the door slid shut behind them.

As soon as the words left his mouth, Callista felt an unmistakable brush of coolness ripple through her, and she had to physically resist the urge to shudder.

But why would there be anything to fear?

And yet somehow, some tiny part of her knew the answer to the question, though she couldn't quite form the words in her mind at that very moment.

The hours passed slowly as she sat in the stillness of the small, musty room. She'd lost track of the time she had spent watching him closely, listening to him breathing, waiting for any sign of alertness. After a while, she had stared at him so long, it was as if his every feature had been ingrained in her memory: the sickly-white flesh that had surely not seen the sun in a long time; the long, bony fingers that twitched every few minutes as he dreamt; the small, narrow eyes that remained shut in deep sleep.

But what alarmed Callista the most as she looked on him, was the hint of youth in the man's face. Despite the almost deathly pallor and the harsh, rough skin, she could have sworn that he was no more than twenty years old.

Who did this to you...

Callista jerked forward as she suddenly saw the man's eyes twitch and then flutter open. Her heart stalled in her throat--would he scream again? Would he leap out of bed and lunge at her? Holding her breath, she stood still, waiting for him to make his next move, then she allowed her self to relax a bit when she saw that he had made no effort to move from his spot.

He continued to lie there, limp and lifeless, his colorless eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.

"Have... you been here long?"

His rough, sandpaper voice, that of someone who had gone for months, years--maybe even decades--without speaking sat low on Callista's ears. She crept closer towards him, careful not to make any sudden moves that might alarm him. He was still blind, that much she knew about hibernation sickness, and yet he knew she was in the room...

"A few hours," she told him. "We wanted to make sure you were... safe..."

"Thank you," he rasped. Then, "Where am I?"

She walked over to his side. "You're on Jeor Goresh's ark. Jeor was the one who found you in the water."

He shut his eyes momentarily and drew a deep breath. When he finally exhaled, he turned his blank eyes in her direction. "Then I'm still on Chad."

"Yes," she nodded, though she knew he couldn't see her. "Yes, you're on Chad. We freed you from the carbonite yesterday..."

"Who... Who are you?"

"My name is Callista. Don't be afraid--I'm here to help. I know this must be a lot to process right now, but do you remember what happened? How long you might have been frozen?"

He shook his head. "One tends to lose track of time in this situation," he said.

"I suppose you're right," Callista answered with a soft chuckle. "It's all right, we don't have to figure it all out right now. This must all be overwhelming to you..."

With arms that shook, he planted his hands firmly on the bed to push himself up, and Callista reached a hand to help him sit. A sudden shock, like an electric current that ripped through her body, nearly throttled her back when she touched him. Surprised and perplexed, she released her hold on him immediately and stared back at him in a daze.

"Are you still here?"

"Yes," Callista managed, hoping to cover up her slight anxiety. Logic told her that nothing had just happened--nothing physical, anyway. Nothing but one human being touching another. And yet, the mere contact had made her pull back instantaneously. It was as if an instinct she couldn't quite identify had snatched her hand away from him.

Something was not right.

"I thought I had made you nervous," he with a small smile.

"Of course not," she answered quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly.

The smile on his face widened, and something about it made Callista uneasy, though she shoved the thought out of her mind.

"You're a Jedi... aren't you?"

Callista felt the blood drain from her face. "No," she answered curtly, "No, I'm not." Inside her ribs, her heart battered wildly, though she didn't quite know why she was so afraid to tell him the truth. Didn't know why her first instinct was to close her mind--purge it of emotion, of vulnerability. She took her hand away from her lightsaber, where it had been resting, and clasped her hands behind her.

Why would he ask her such a question?

"Oh," he said, "oh..." His eyebrows came together in bewilderment. "I'm sorry, I thought..." He smiled the curious smile again. "A Jedi can always tell the presence of another, you see."

Callista felt as if someone had reached in and seized the air out of her lungs. She swallowed hard and cautiously, calmly--as calmly as she could--said, "You're a Jedi?"


He had no reason to lie. No reason to deliberately mislead her. And yet, everything in Callista screamed, No!! Don't believe him!!

"That's why I thought... Well... I don't suppose I'm in the right state of mind right now, what with all that's happened..."

"You've been through a lot," she said.

He closed his eyes once more and rubbed his face. "If you don't mind," he said, "I think I'd better get some more rest... I still feel like hell."

"Yes, of course... I'll let you get back to sleep..."

She watched him slide back down into the bed and pull the sheets over him. For a few moments, she stood listening, waiting for his breath to slow into a tell-tale rhythm.

Wanting to make sure he was really sleeping.

Terrified that if she left, the unthinkable would happen.


When she finally tore herself away from his side and slipped out of his room, she nearly shrieked after she ran into Jeor, who had stood waiting just outside.

"Do you always sneak up like that on people?" she said, laughing nervously as she recovered from the fright.

"I'm sorry, Cal," he said. He reached a hand to her shoulder and tilted his head to look at her more closely. "Are you all right? You look like someone's sucked all the blood out of you... Wait a minute, did he-"

"No, nothing happened, don't worry." She squeezed his hand to reassure him. "He did wake up, and... we talked... That's all. And after a while, he said he needed to get back to sleep..."

He released her hand and brushed past her to walk to the door. "I'm glad he didn't try anything funny," he said. Callista guessed he was half-joking, though she knew there was genuine concern on his part. "So... You think he'll be fine in there?"

"Yeah, he seemed to be out cold when I left," she said, nodding weakly. She watched him start to leave for his own room, and then she called out to him one more time. "Jeor..."

He turned towards her.

Tell him what? She wasn't even sure what she had experienced in the room... "Nothing," she said, waving her hand to dismiss the thought. "Call me if... If anything happens."

"You know I will."

And even as he gave her a smile of affirmation, a feeling of cold dread spread through her bones as she walked back to her cabin.

Callista turned her lightsaber over and over in her hand. Light glinted forth from its metal casing, darting in her eyes, reflecting the weak glow of the lamp on her nightstand. She had sat like this for hours in the stillness of her room--for exactly how long, she could no longer remember. Endlessly, mechanically, she examined the weapon cradled in her hands, feeling its smooth grooves underneath her fingertips, feeling its weight, its substance. At long last, she raised her head to look ahead of her, at the blank walls behind which, only a short distance away, the stranger slept.

Even hours later, the shock of his presumption--made with such unexpected certainty that it had taken Callista aback--resonated within her.

You're a Jedi... aren't you?

The mere recollection of the words sent a icy chill slicing through her.

She resisted a shudder and looked down again at the lightsaber she held, as much a part of her as her arm. Her heart. Her soul. Crafted with care and forged with a fire that had always burned within her even before she had known her true calling. Before she had known the Force had a name. "Yes," she murmured, closing her hand on its steel handle, feeling the familiar rush of adrenaline sweep through her. "I am a Jedi..."

With or without the Force, she was a Jedi, and nothing would ever change that.

To deny it seemed downright unfathomable. And yet, she had done it so easily in the presence of the stranger--denied it without even a second thought.

Why had she lied?

What was it that had risen from the very depths of her core to insist that he must not know the truth?

Who are you...

She squeezed her eyes shut at the memory of his blank, probing stare, and the mysterious smile that seemed to taunt her with secrets just beneath the surface of his expressionless eyes. She had had the distinct impression then that he could read her mind--though how, she had no idea.

In her early morning daze, she had been so eager to see him, even help him. Now she suspected that the undeniable curiosity that had driven her to his room, in spite of her wooziness from exhaustion and the remnants of drugs, had been something more--much more.

Perhaps part of her had already known...

"Cal!!!" The furious pounding on her door broke the silence and jolted her from her reverie.

"Jeor?" she called out tentatively. It was after midnight--what would have brought him to her room at this hour? She punched the wall panel and the door slid open to reveal a shaken Jeor, his face beet-red in the dim light. "Stars, what's wrong?" she said, gripping his trembling arm as she led him inside. "Get in here..."

She watched him open and close his mouth in several failed attempts to speak, as if his vocal chords were somehow paralyzed. With his free arm, he pointed in the direction of the stranger's room. "He's... He's..." The words seemed lodged in his throat, struggling to come out but not quite succeeding. For a moment, she barely recognized him--stripped of all his customary self-confident bravado, he was as flustered and out of sorts as he had been nearly twenty-four hours ago when they brought the block of carbonite out of the raging sea.

"Jeor, you're scaring me," she said gently, trying her best to calm him down. "What is it? Tell me what's wrong..."

She saw him heave his torso up to take a deep inhale, and she continued to hold on to his arm, as if the mere act of doing so would help steady him. "He's gone," he managed to get out, his hand clutching hers with the tightest of grips.


"He's gone, Cal... I... went to check on him, and..."

"But how can that be? He could barely get out of bed just a few hours ago..." Callista released his hand and stumbled into the hallway, blindly heading in the direction of the man's room.

"I'm telling you, he's gone," she heard Jeor cry out after her.

He was right. She stuck her head in cautiously at first--in case he hid somewhere in the shadows. But nothing jumped from the darkness. Inside, nothing remained but the rumpled bedsheets and the stale stink of enclosed air.

The young man had indeed vanished.

She heard Jeor walk up behind her and felt his ragged breath on the nape of her neck. She turned to face him and said, "No one saw anything? Heard anything? Are we sure he's not somewhere else on the ship-"

"No." Jeor shook his head firmly. "He's nowhere on the ark, Cal. I looked everywhere. I didn't want to get you until I knew for sure... But... he's gone."

Callista made her way to the window inside the small room and peered outside to look at the freezing waters where they had found him last night. "Why," she whispered, and looked back at Jeor. "What could have-"

She froze, once again remembering the shocking sensation that had stunned her when she touched his arm. "Oh stars..."

The shiver that she had resisted earlier now rumbled once more through her body with the force of a devastating earthquake. She shook her head again and again, as if she simply could not accept the realization that had just descended on her like water gushing forth from the sky.

A realization that a long dead ghost had sent to her from the grave.

"It was true," she whispered, her voice barely audible above her raspy breath as an isolated morning more than thirty-five years ago suddenly came rushing back to her, so fast that she had to gasp for air. "Master Djinn, it was true..."

"What's true? Cal, what are you talking about?"

His hand reached for hers in concern and she looked up at him, half-formed tears of fright blurring her vision. "I know who he is," she said. "I know where he's gone..."

Jeor stared back at her with incredulous eyes. "How..."

In her mind's eye she saw Djinn standing before his hushed students, his deep, soothing voice as clear in her mind as it had been all those years ago. He had given countless lectures aboard the Chu'unthor, stories and legends recounted from his vast memory that had fascinated his students. There were so many he had told that Callista could scarcely remember some of them now, including one she had all but forgotten until that very moment.

And now it was all she could do to shake it from her memory.

"There were ten of them," she remembered her master saying. "Ten young men who vowed their brotherhood of darkness would not be destroyed--by Jedi or Sith."

She closed her eyes and allowed her mind to sink further in time, past the dark and empty corridors of her mind, through the haze and uncertainty, to one moment, crystal-clear in her consciousness.

And in her mind, she began to recite the long-buried story from the depths of her recollection.

So they made a pact... They spread out to the far reaches of the galaxy to avoid capture. And they promised to preserve themselves somehow, so they could rise again when their time came...

The legend of the Rogue Sith...

Her eyes flew open and went straight to Jeor's, her knees weak with the new-found knowledge of what they had unwittingly awakened. Now he was the one who held her arm to steady her.

He's going to try to find the others... He's going to bring them back to life, one by one...

"There are more of them out there," she said, well aware of the horror in her voice. "All of them, frozen in carbonite..."

"Who? Cal, what are you-""

"Jeor, listen to me," she said, knowing he would not like what she was about to say. "I can't explain it, but... I have to go after him-"

"What?! Are you crazy? You think after all that's happened here I'm going to let you out of my sight?"

"You have to trust me on this," she insisted. "Please..."

His eyes softened in surrender, and he released the hold on her arm. "What am I going to do with you," he said, a glint of amusement in the shadows on his face.

She smiled back at him. "Thank you," she whispered.

Her hand reached for the lightsaber that swung from her hip, like a drowning man reaching for a life preserver.

Luke, she thought, his face coming to her, beautiful against the backdrop of the setting Yavin sun, Luke has to know.

She had no choice. She had spent the last five years running away from him, from the love that had been her one true salvation.

But now she had to return--even if it meant facing the lover she never thought she would face again--because he was in danger..

And she would rather die than see him in danger.

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