3: RIGEL'S TEST
CHAPTERS 1 - 15
Story © Copyright M.Kuppe
Suddenly the glow of the humming blade swung past his head, the flash momentarily blinding him. Instinctively somersaulting backward, away from the intense heat of the saber, Luke landed in a crouching defensive stance, his own weapon now extended and sparking at the ready. He surveyed his oppressive jet-black surroundings in vain for his assailant, but he stood alone once again.
A shriek broke the silence, startling Luke into action. He ran toward the screaming until he saw Kali, held prisoner in a dark room, cringing in terror on the floor. Kali called out to Luke, but as he tried to reach her, he saw he was too late. The lightsaber swept down to abruptly cut off her screams.
upright on his sleeping pallet; fully awake, pulse racing and drenched
Winter flew into the room and switched on the small lantern beside his bunk. “Luke! Are you alright?” She could see that the usually calm Jedi Master was visibly upset, so she sat beside him. “Another one Luke? You have to do something.” She found a pitcher of water on his side table, poured some out and pressed the cup into Luke’s shaking hands. “You can’t allow these nightmares to continue by ignoring them.” He gulped the water down, slowly steadying himself while Winter continued. “I’ll keep things going here at the Academy while you take a much-needed vacation.”
The cool liquid soothed his raw throat and helped him catch his breath. Luke knew Winter was right. His nightmares were becoming more frequent; and each subsequent dream was becoming increasingly vivid and graphic. His lack of sleep was also affecting his work here on Yavin. He couldn’t concentrate on his Jedi lesson plans when he didn’t understand why he was having these horrible visions. He knew he must go to see his family.
But Luke feared that if he did, he may somehow cause those nightmares to come true.
“AAAAAHHH! Help! Go away! Shoo!” Kali’s screams were loud enough to be heard in the Jundland Wastes, but the only one to respond was her daughter Rigel, who came rushing inside their Mos Eisley home.
“What? What’s wrong?” She raced around frantically, finally finding her mother perched upon a chair in Rigel’s room, shaking her finger at the floor below.
“There! Under the table! It went under there!”
Calmly, Rigel peered under the furniture to see the creature cornered, trying unsuccessfully to scurry away from the noise. It was obviously as much afraid as Kali at the uproar.
“Mother! It’s only Brega! Come here, you bad fella, you!” Rigel stuck her hand underneath the pallet and gently lifted the shaking Izzet to her chest.
“Rigel! No! It’ll bite you!”
“Don’t be silly, mother; Brega wouldn’t harm anyone. Look. He’s more scared than you are!”
Rigel held the creature out for Kali to see. The splotchy black and white Izzet was about as big as her hand; a large rotund head sat atop six rubbery appendages curling and uncurling over another six thin, stiff, black legs.
“Uggh! Rigel, it’s disgusting! Where did you dig that thing up?”
Rigel replaced the Izzet into its terratank, where it quickly buried itself into the sand.
“Mother, you know it’s my turn to take the session’s pet home for the holidays. I just have to put something on top of his tank so he doesn’t get out again, that’s all. You’ll never know he’s here.”
“I’d better not, or the next time, I’ll program Exate to dispose of him for good! You know how I feel about little creepy-crawly creatures - I’ve seen a lot of strange things in many galaxies, but when I hear that tap-tapping of all those legs on the floor, my skin crawls.” Kali left the room to finish cleaning up the rest of the house.
Rigel rolled her eyes impatiently. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You've seen the entire Universe, no doubt....she was in no mood to hear yet another story about her mother’s adventurous past! Rigel was so tired of hearing how "perfect" Kali was -- a veteran of the Alliance’s conflict against the Empire, an expert pilot, a brave prisoner of war, and even an escaped captive of a Tusken tribe. Rigel heard the tales so often, she could recite them from heart. When she was young, she admired her mother very much....but now she just felt inadequate compared to her famous parent.
Well, one of them, anyway. She also was getting increasingly frustrated at Kali's continued refusal to disclose who her father was, if he was even still alive, and if so, the reason why he wasn't here with them. Did he know that he had a daughter? Maybe he did. Maybe it was her fault....maybe he chose not to be a father....or maybe her mother wasn't so perfect after all. Rigel's head throbbed trying to figure it out....she imagined there must be some reason why they lived alone.
“Kali. It’s Stobbie again. He says the skimmer is acting up still, and wants you to go check it out. He insisted that you meet him by his south vaporator array at these coordinates - where it seems to have stalled.” Mauura tore the flimsy off the pad and handed it to Kali.
Kali looked at the page with despair. “Not again! I swear he does something to that floater, just to inconvenience me! How many times has it been that I’ve had to go on a wild nerf-chase for that idiot?” Kali regretted ever selling him a speeder in the first place.
“Judging from his tone, not enough. But I don’t believe he’s doing this to inconvenience you, he just wants another excuse to see you again!” Mauura drew back her mouth over her long fangs and let out a sharp bark, what Kali had come to know as the equivalent of a Nikto laugh.
“Yeecch! Just the thought of that sleaze cradling up against me again is enough to make my stomach turn. You’d think he’d get the hint that I’m not interested. I guess I’ll have to be more direct this time.”
“How about I go in your place? That would give him a scare all right!”
Kali agreed that it would. There weren’t many native Tatooine farmers who were comfortable with the olive-skinned reptilian associate that had joined Kali in her new business. But it was wonderful that Mauura had agreed to be her partner when she opened her own floater sales and service. The money she had inherited from Seton had been split evenly - half had gone to the Alliance as an anonymous donation, and the remainder was divided into the new business and Rigel’s trust fund.
Kali and Mauura worked well together, but Kali still felt herself often caught between the fierce Nikto mech and Exate, her green astromech droid, also bequeathed to her by Seton. The mech and the droid had a history of disliking each other immensely, and they continued their opposition to this day. She hoped she could leave them alone while she went on the service call.
“Mauura, I’ll head over to Stobbie’s place with my speeder, but since I don’t know how long I’ll be, I’ll just head home from there. Will you lock up?”
“No problem -- I’ll make sure Exate is put away …. properly.”
A barrage of beeps, squeals and stomping of his treads clearly communicated to Kali that the droid was not pleased with the arrangement.
Hmm, maybe I am beginning to understand him after all ...She bent to whisper into his auditory sensors on the clear plastex head dome. “Exate, just stay out of her way.” The Nikto pretended she didn’t hear that warning as she returned to the service bay.
Kali grabbed her tool kit and jumped into her new speeder, heading off toward the Wastes. I hope this doesn’t take too long - I would love to get home at a decent hour for once, especially since Rigel’s been home on vacation. I hope she hasn’t gotten herself into any trouble today. She had to admit that Rigel was fast becoming her own person, developing more than in body alone. Other than her strong ability in the Force, she reminded Kali of her own rebellious youth not so long ago. Staring into the bleak horizon with nothing to distract her, Kali couldn’t stop the flood of painful memories returning full force - the war, Biggs, Luke, the kidnapping and Seton.
So much has happened in so little time - it seems like only yesterday that Biggs would take me out in the skyhopper on these very plains; I didn’t have a care in the galaxy. Life was full of choices, Kali realized. I’ve made some tough ones, but I’m still not convinced they were the right ones. What if... She shook her head to clear it. Enough of the past! Stop second guessing yourself and concentrate on the here and now, the job at hand! The past is history, and there’s nothing I can do to change it now. Once those decisions are made, I’ve got to live with the results.
Finally reaching the familiar Jundland Wastes, Kali wondered why Stobbie foolishly situated himself so far away from the protective homesteaders of the farm clusters. The loner’s moisture farm was in one of the most inhospitable locations you could find on Tatooine - in the rocky terrain of the Rifts, famous for its huge crevices in the ground that threatened to swallow you up if your speeder didn’t have enough power to float you across or around. Then she realized that the farm’s location mirrored the outcast farmer himself -- craggy, desolate and dangerous if you remained too long.
Kali spotted the spires on the horizon, and soon found the skimmer parked beside the one of the vaporators. Stobbie was wrestling with an uncooperative condenser servo and didn’t seem to hear her arrive. “Hello! What seems to be the trouble with her today?”
Stobbie looked up from his work and smiled a greasy leer that made Kali want to keep her distance. She powered down her speeder a few paces away and jumped out.
“Well, I don’t know, pretty lady. Why don’t you come on over and take a looksee?” He proceeded to sidle up to Kali as she lifted the front access panels and examined the power boost circuits.
“What was wrong? Wouldn’t it start?” At first glance, everything seemed to be in order.
“Oh, it started well enough, but now it makes a strange rattling sound, that I don’t think is quite right.”
Kali made sure he didn’t see her roll her eyes to the stars in exasperation. He was far too close to her, so she tried to sidestep away, but if she had to go any further she wouldn’t be able to see inside the housing anymore. She had to get rid of him for awhile.
“Could you get my tool kit from my floater and bring it here? It’s awfully heavy for me to lift.”
“Why of course... I’ll be right back.” He trotted away, eager to do something for her. Searching around inside her landspeeder, Stobbie found the case and pulled it out. But from the corner of his eye, the slight movement of something dark green made him turn. Looking up and across to Kali, who was still bent over peering into the engine, he froze at the image directly behind her. An enormous Krayt dragon stood within a meter of Kali’s back, slowly looking around, Kali oblivious to its presence.
Stobbie couldn’t warn her - all that rose out of his throat was a small squeak. Kali turned her head slightly at his strange noise and wondered what the nitwit was up to now. The look on his white face staring behind her, as well as the hot breath down the back of her neck convinced her something was terribly wrong. Kali froze and looked ahead into the duraplex windshield of his speeder. A reflection of dark green scales over large rippling muscles told her all she needed to know. A ferocious Krayt dragon was right behind her, calmly surveying the area, its long, five-horned head sweeping back and forth. Everyone on Tatooine knew this was one of only a few native species you must avoid at all costs -- from its razor-sharp claws on its foreshortened front arms and strong hind legs to the lethal barbs on its long powerful tail. It was a very successful predator indeed.
Oh, my stars! I can’t run - its vision is based on motion - if I try to escape, I’ll be dead for sure! Without moving her head, she turned her eyes to Stobbie, who seemed to come out of his shock as a wave of panic engulfed him. He dove into the operator’s seat of Kali’s speeder, and tried desperately to start it up, frantic to leave the dragon, and to Kali’s dismay, her, behind.
You nerf-herder! No! Don’t move! He’ll see you!
Just as she had predicted, the dragon leapt over both her and the farmer’s speeder with one jump, releasing its deafening roar at the sound of the engine’s ignition. Before Stobbie could leave, the beast slammed down one back leg on top of the floater’s ‘nose’, pinning the prey to prevent its escape.
Then the Krayt became absolutely still and stared down at Stobbie, who was twitching in fear. Suddenly, it lunged and picked the screaming farmer right out of the driver’s seat with its massive jaws. Kali couldn’t help but watch the morbid scene as the dragon flipped the limp body high over its head, catching him again in the back of its huge mouth. With a nauseating crunch, Stobbie was gone.
Thrashing its tail from side to side in victory, the Krayt knocked the speeder Kali was still clinging to, propelling her to the ground, rolling away and stopping just at the precipice of a large rift in the ground. Trying to recover her balance and keep from falling into the crevice, Kali scrambled and kicked at the loose gravel, trying to gain a purchase. Attention drawn to the scuffling, the dragon headed toward its next victim. Advancing quickly, it spotted Kali, teetering precariously at the edge of the crack. Without hesitation, the huge head lunged down at her, jaws opening to reveal sharp teeth dripping fresh blood.
In her only recourse to dodge its fatal bite, Kali let go, falling backward and dropping down into the deep, black crevice.
“Don’t worry, Rigel. Who’s going to know? It will be great, you’ll see. You can do it….however you do it.”
Jyss didn’t understand how Rigel could talk people into anything she wanted….she just cared that she profited by her unique talent. But Rigel knew deep down that her special abilities were not meant to be used in this way - she had to have them for a greater purpose, not just tricks and games. But Jyss was her best friend, and with her friendship came Rigel’s acceptance into the most popular gang in town. As usual though, it was only Rigel and Jyss who were hiding in an alleyway in the seedy downtown area this late at night.
“Okay. Now!” Jyss ran to the back of the Cantina, leaving Rigel alone to head off the unsuspecting patron as he approached the entrance.
“Hello, kind sir. You would like to buy me some Whyren’s Reserve” Rigel stated as she waved her hand very slightly in front of him.
“Hello. I would like to buy you some Whyren’s Reserve.” The stranger repeated in the expected monotone reply.
“Thank you. No one needs to know. You will be paid for it, of course.”
“No one needs to know. I will be paid for it of course.”
The stranger entered the darkened Cantina, and returned moments later with the bottle in hand.
Rigel looked around to see if anyone was watching. As usual, everyone in this end of town kept to their own business and rarely took notice of any shady deals going on.
“Thank you. Here is your payment. You may go now.” Rigel gave him the credits due and shoved the liquor in her bag.
“Thank you.” The stranger turned, walked away, but stopped suddenly and shook his head. Trying to recall what he was doing, he looked around, but no one was there. Must have been daydreaming, he thought as he entered the Cantina again, this time to cool his own throat.
“I knew you could do it! We can always count on you! I wish you’d teach me …it sure would come in handy at home!” Jyss was jumping up and down at the sight of the bottle.
“Let’s just say it’s a trick I heard my mom talk about from the old days…she would tell me stories of an elderly hermit who was quite good at it…”
Jyss checked her chrono. “C’mon! Let's go. They’re waiting for us.”
Jyss carry the booze. She wasn’t in the mood to drink tonight
anyway. A voice inside her head kept
telling her this wasn’t right, but she tried her best to ignore it
as she ran after her friend into the night.
Luke wandered around the spartan house that was Obi-Wan’s home for those many years before taking Luke off Tatooine. Hidden well in the Jundland Wastes, luckily the nomads and Jawas hadn’t stripped it. Yet. But it looked like time was taking its toll on the old building. Some of the furnishings were showing wear, and chew marks were visible in a few places. Womprats, likely. Of course there were no blankets, water or food, but Luke wasn’t concerned. He had brought everything he needed with him anyway.
Heading back to his snubfighter, Luke unloaded the last of his provisions and joined Artoo on the path back to Ben’s home. The droid beeped questionably as it balanced a load itself.
“I know we could stay in town, Artoo. But I don’t want to be seen by the locals. It would be better for everyone if I can make sure they are okay without anyone making a big deal that I’m back. So we can stay here for a bit. I know Ben would think its okay.”
Luke smiled at fond remembrance of his old friend. He could still see his mentor, sitting in the living space, grinning, eyes sparkling when he told Luke of the old days of the Jedi Knights. Sometimes it seemed like a lifetime ago that that fateful day started him on the path he had traveled; then at times it seemed like only yesterday that he was the young naïve farmboy, wishing for a life of excitement, listening to the stories of Clone Wars, lightsaber duels, space battles ...
Artoo beeped and startled Luke back into the present. “Okay, okay. Let’s unpack and get some rest. Tomorrow we’ll see what’s going on around here, and then we’ll head back to Yavin. Okay?”
Artoo blipped his approval, rolled to a flat area of the floor and powered down for the night.
Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to see Kali and Rigel again. He missed them very much. He just wouldn’t tell them about his fears of danger, that’s all. Just stop by for awhile, spend some time with his daughter and see if they needed anything. Luke stayed awake as long as he could. The last thing he wanted was another nightmare.
Waking up and finding the suns had already set, Kali found that she had landed on a thin ledge about twenty meters from the surface, and had not fallen to the bottom of the pit after all. In the darkness, there was no telling how deep this rift was.
Her head, shoulder and arm were sore from the fall. Her eyes were slowly getting used to the darkness, but she still couldn’t see to the bottom.
Well, the opening above is too high for me to climb out of... maybe I can drop below if it’s not too far and find a way to walk out of here. This outcropping is just a few meters wide, so that leaves me two choices…either up or down.
A strange sound like scurrying feet below however, gave her second thoughts about dropping into the darkness below. Oh no! Who knows what’s crawling around down there? Visions of Rigel’s pet, or a multitude of them made her shiver. There is no way I’m going down there without it being clear first! If only it was light enough for me to see...wait!
Kali remembered she had her portable glow rod and pulled it out of her pants pocket. Trying to ignite it, the luma flashed on and immediately went out. Blast! The fall must have damaged it somehow. Shaking the rod in frustration, it flickered, but went dead yet again.
Kali checked the power cells and reattached the casing once more. Finally the torch lit and threw a beam of light out beside her, reflecting off a huge yellow eye of the dragon staring directly at her! In her shock, Kali dropped the luma, which clattered down the wall of the rift before landing and lighting up an entire nest of baby Krayts below. In its beam of light, Kali stared at the multitude of infant dragons roaring at the brightness, snapping and attacking the glow rod until it was extinguished.
In darkness again, Kali squeezed up against the side of the wall, trying not to breathe. The Krayt swept up and down the ledge with her huge jaws, looking for the intruder that was just there.
That dragon was a mother Krayt, just protecting her young who were unfortunately nesting too close to Stobbie’s farm. That must have been the reason for the attack in the first place. Kali knew she had only made matters worse when she literally landed IN the dragon’s lair.
The crying of her young finally turned the Krayt’s attention away from Kali, who could breathe again and relax a bit. Careful not to make a sound, Kali tried to look around and somehow come up with a plan to get out of this predicament.
going down is no longer an option, she thought, as she turned her
head to the sliver of sky and stars she could see above her.
“Not tonight, Jyss. I’m not feeling well...” Rigel did indeed feel out of sorts. Her head was still sore, and something was wrong, and it just wasn’t her part in getting tonight’s treat for the gang. Her earlier premonition was getting stronger; she knew she had to leave. “I’m heading home.”
“You wanna ride? I c’n take ya.” Danon, a lanky blonde teen tried to stand to go, but in his drunken stupor, he shakily fell down again.
“No, thanks. It’s not too far from here. I’ll walk.” Rigel knew she stood a better chance of arriving home safe taking her chances with the locals on the street than getting in a hopper with him.
“But the party’s just started!” Jyss whined.
Rigel stood to leave, and glared at her friend, finally fed up with Jyss telling her what to do. “Fine! More for me!” Jyss retorted, guzzling more Corellian whiskey down.
Rigel left, turning once to watch the party continue in the street. She didn’t belong there. She wasn’t having fun. What a waste. I am so tired of their silly games. She was also sick of being used as only the provider of the night’s beverage. Just like last week, and the week before. That’s all they want me around for... to get the drinks. I’ll be glad when they are old enough to get their own booze!
Soon she reached the familiarity of her home, but was surprised to find the house empty and dark. That’s strange, she thought. Mom should have been home long ago. I was just getting my cover story all set to tell her too...
Rigel looked around for some kind of note, but became more and more worried when it looked as if her mother hadn’t been around at all. Rigel put a call into the speeder shop, hoping she was still there.
“Seton Speeders” came Mauura’s unmistakable raspy greeting over the comm.
“Mauura, is my mother there? I’d like to speak with her.”
“I’m sorry, Rigel. Kali left here this afternoon. She went on a service call, and was going home directly from there. She should have been home long ago.”
Rigel’s fears rose to the surface. I knew something was wrong! “Mauura, where did she go? She hasn’t been home yet.”
“Kali went to Stobbie’s farm -- to meet him at his south vaporator array.” Mauura was getting concerned as well, but didn’t want to alarm the girl any more than necessary. “I’m sure she’s fine, Rigel. You’ll see. Stay there -- I’ll pick you up and we’ll go track her down together.”
“That will take too long. I know where it is. I’ll take our old speeder and meet you there. But hurry -- I have a really bad feeling about this.”
Rigel reached the farm first, and in the beam of her vehicle’s headlamp, was shocked at the scene before her. Kali’s shop floater was in ruins; crushed in front, with blood spattered inside the vehicle. Another speeder had been thrown against the vaporator base, but there was no sign of anyone around. Intuition led Rigel out of the floater, focussing her portable luma on a crevice in the ground not far away. Signs of a scuffle were all over, but Rigel had a feeling something familiar was down the fissure. Shining the light into the abyss, she finally found her mother. “Mom! Are you all right? What happened? What are you doing down there?” Rigel didn’t understand what had gone on, but was relieved her mother looked okay.
As quietly as she could, Kali motioned for Rigel to keep calm. “I’m fine Rigel -- keep your voice down. Go to my speeder and get the tow-line. Clip it to the front end --- no, wait a minute, my speeder is smashed. How did you get here?”
“I have our old one, Mom. I’ll attach it to that and pull you out.” With a plan in mind, Rigel left the crevice and searched Kali’s speeder for the line, trying not to look at or touch any of the drying blood. Hurrying back and securing it to the tow clip on her floater, Rigel unwound the other end and flipped the line over the side of the crevice, down to her mother.
Kali watched the cable fall down towards her, and raised her hands to grab it, but it flapped and dangled just meters away. “Rigel. Get closer! It's not long enough!”
Rigel drove the floater to the edge of the crevice, but to Kali’s dismay, the line was still just out of reach.
Kali checked over her shoulder to see if the Krayt heard the speeder, and suddenly had a terrible thought that perhaps the dragon may go back to the surface and attack Rigel. I have to get Rigel out of here!
“Rigel! Go get help. Get back in the speeder and find someone to help us! I don’t want you up there alone!”
Surprised at her mother’s sudden desire to get rid of her, Rigel could tell from the sound of Kali’s voice that something else was wrong.
Perhaps I can lift her up to the surface using my special powers, she thought. But I’ve never lifted a person before -- what if I failed? She would fall back into the crevice, perhaps injuring her, or worse. Nope. I can’t risk it.
Instead, Rigel pulled the line up and tied it to her ankle. Lowering herself over the edge of the rift, Rigel released and dropped upside down, head first into the pit. Her body jerked to a halt as the cord snapped taut dangling her in the darkness.
“Mother! Where are you? Grab my hand!” Rigel swung back and forth reaching out for Kali with arms outstretched. At the noise of the falling gravel, the Krayt returned to the ledge, the snapping jaws barely missing Kali as again she squeezed her body against the wall. Looking up at her daughter, swinging right into the path of the huge teeth, Kali jumped and grabbed Rigel’s hands.
“Come, on! Climb up! Hurry!” Rigel finally saw the danger up close. The Krayt leapt, snorting hot breath on her face. Desperately trying to hang on and somehow get up the line, Rigel felt a sudden tug, followed by a scraping of gravel along her body.
Kali soon realized that they both were being pulled up, cable and all, to the surface. Watching her prey escape, the Krayt roared in frustration as her final lunge missed them both by only centimeters. As they were being dragged up, Rigel’s shirt filled with debris from the rift wall. During the ascent, she squeezed her mother’s hands with fierce determination, willing herself to hold on. Soon both she and Kali were pulled up over the top edge of the crevice and onto flat ground. They all lay there, exhausted by the ordeal.
Looking up, Kali smiled at Mauura. “It’s a good thing I have such a strong partner” she rasped.
The tough Nikto barked in reply, “and such a brave daughter” nodding to Rigel. Kali and her daughter hugged tightly, realizing how close they came to losing one another. Rigel broke the embrace first, uncomfortable at the dirt and gravel still lodged in her shirt. She stood and shook herself out, amazed at all the dirt that fell out and onto the ground. In the light of the speeders’ headlamps, a few crystals sparkled as they fell to the ground. Rigel reached down and picked them up.
“Look at what I found!” She showed Mauura and Kali the blue crystals in her hand. “I think I’ll keep these to remember tonight!” Rigel dropped them into the soft nerf-skin pouch she kept hanging around her neck.
need any rocks to remind me.” Kali said. “No matter how much I’ll
try, I’m sure I’ll never forget what happened today.” Kali looked
at her crushed speeder. Poor Stobbie…such a horrible fate…no
one deserved to die like that… Kali knew the gruesome images
of the attack would never be erased from her memory.
After last night’s adventure, the subsequent hours spent explaining Stobbie’s untimely death at the Mos Eisley constabulary office and a visit to the med-aid centre to attend to her mother’s injuries, Rigel had hoped life would return to some kind of normality today. Not much chance of that, she thought.
“My mother has gone to work. If this has something to do with the attack last night, we already explained that...”
“It’s not” barked the officer. “This is another matter. Where can we find her?” Rigel began to shake involuntarily. There was something wrong, and she knew it involved her. Rigel gave them instructions to the shop, and immediately felt the panic rise inside her when the officer looked up from his datapad and stared directly at her.
“You are Rigel Darklighter, her daughter?”
“Yyyes.” Her mouth went dry.
come with us.” It was not a request, and Rigel knew better than to
“Maybe you’re right. Call me on the holo if you need me. I’m going home to sleep.” Kali turned to leave, but was abruptly cut off by a trio of officers blocking her way.
“If you’re looking for a speeder, my associate Mauura can help you...” Kali motioned towards her Nikto friend.
“Are you Kali Darklighter?” the middle patrolman read from his datapad without looking up.
“Yes. Yes I am. Who, may I ask wants to know?” Kali was too tired for all this. She had spent half the night filling in forms, explaining the dragon attack and repeatedly answering questions about Stobbie’s death. She wasn’t going to go through all that again with yet another arm of the local law enforcement.
“You need to come with us” was all the officer offered. Kali opened her mouth in an attempt to protest, but the patrolman raised his head and stared her down. Convinced to shut up, Kali thought she had better do as he said.
“Mauura, take care of things here. I’ll contact you later” was all she had time to say as the four made their way to the patrol floater. As she climbed into the back seat a familiar face startled her. “Rigel? What are you doing here? What’s going on?”
“I … really
don’t know...” Rigel lied. She knew. She knew this had something to
do with the party last night. As the floater sped away, she had an
uneasy feeling that she was in deep trouble.
“I can’t believe Rigel had anything to do with this, that’s all. As I told you all last night, she was with me yesterday, helping to get me out of that dragon’s nest.” Kali was pacing the magistrate’s office yet again, reminiscent of last night’s interrogation.
“We know that. But the stories from the ‘survivors’ all list her as the one who provided the alcohol. It seems that the accident occurred later, after the party was over. Even though she may have left by then, she is still guilty of illegally procuring alcohol and providing it to other minors. ”
Rigel couldn’t believe it. Apparently after she had left her friends, they decided to have a mock podrace down the back streets of Mos Eisley. Only it was a race nobody won. In their drunken stupor, both hoppers crashed into each other, killing Danon and Clovis. Jyss and the rest of the gang were watching the race and named Rigel as the one who got the Whyren’s Reserve for them.
There was no point in denying it. Rigel straightened herself and looked only at the magistrate. “Yes. I did get it. I ... convinced some stranger to buy it for us from the Cantina. But I didn’t have any myself, and I left before the party got going. I never imagined anyone would get hurt.”
She finally turned to look at her mother. Kali stood, shaking her head slightly in disbelief, mouth open in shock.
Rigel was in shock as well. Danon and Clovis were gone, and it was her fault. It’s not true, she prayed. This is a bad joke or something. Rigel felt sick as the room began to spin. Through her ringing ears she picked up the remainder of the conversation. She unconsciously called on her Force senses to compose herself again.
“...will be released to your recognizance until formal charges are laid. You will be contacted as to the date and time.” The officer handed Kali some forms.
Rigel had never seen her mother so angry that she was speechless. She grabbed Rigel by the arm and stormed outside, stopping in the street when her temper could no longer be contained.
“How could you be so stupid! What were you thinking? Do you realize what you’ve done? Rigel, your abilities were not meant for this! The law may not know, but I know how you ‘convinced’ that man to buy booze for your friends. I always thought you had more sense than that.” Kali was ranting; the result of being hurt, worried and furious, all at once.
Rigel felt small and ashamed at first, but when Kali questioned the use of her powers, she too began to find anger rise in defense. “I know! I know! Don’t you think I feel terrible right now? I never thought anything like this would ever happen. I’m responsible for two of my friends’ deaths! What can you say that could make me feel worse?”
Kali felt the ground shake as Rigel screamed at her. And suddenly, she found herself being flung backwards, away from her daughter, as a loud rumble roared through her ears. Crashing into a vendor’s tent, Kali landed on her back, dazed and confused. As she rose to a sitting position, all she could see was her daughter racing away.
back!” But she was gone before Kali was helped to her feet by a passerby.
Wincing in both physical and emotional pain, she limped off after
Rigel, ignoring the protests of the vendor behind her.
Luke preferred to keep his identity secret for now, and the Force helped him to “blur” his image from Kali’s associate, whom he had met at Seton’s memorial. It was good to see Mauura again, and his cursory glance around the place showed that business was doing well. How could I think that anything was wrong? Am I so insecure or filled with guilt that I truly believe that Kali and Rigel need me around all the time to have a good life?
Artoo recognized another astromech droid at the back of the shop, and wheeled over to it as Luke approached the Nikto mechanic.
“I’m looking for Kali. Is she around?”
“Boy, she sure is popular today. No. She just left. She won’t be back till tomorrow. Is there something I can do for you instead?” From the look of his clothes, Mauura didn’t believe that this fellow could afford a new speeder. Must be looking for a deal on a used floater, she thought.
“No, thank you.” Luke responded with a smile. “I’ll check back later. Thanks. Come on, R2, let’s go.”
Artoo stopped his beeping at the shop’s droid and followed the Jedi, swinging its dome back once more to “bleep” at Exate as he rolled away out of the shop.
Once outside, R2 relayed the information X8 had provided.
What are you talking about? Kali was taken away? There IS something
wrong Artoo. I just feel it.” Luke picked up the pace and headed down
the busy street, Artoo trying to keep him in its optical sensors as
The Princess had to be informed.
Shuffling out of the records facility, C3PO headed directly for the Solo quarters. He knew the President of the New Republic’s schedule better than she herself... Leia should have just returned from Council for a quick lunch in her quarters before duty occupied her again for the rest of the day. Sure enough, as he approached her suite, Leia turned the opposite corner as well, nearly knocking him over in her haste.
“Threepio!” she declared as she grabbed his arm, steadying the droid from the spin he found himself in. “I’m sorry … I’m late, and I didn’t see you. What are you doing here anyway? Is something wrong?”
Swaying still from the impact, the protocol droid shook his head to clear his sensors.
“Where am I? Oh yes! I remember!”
Threepio glanced down at the polished marble floor where his flimsy had landed. As he bent to retrieve it, he had to admit that for a human, the Princess was very perceptive. It was not as if she could read his expression after all. She always seemed to know when there was trouble.
In this instance, he wished she were wrong.
Leia. I dare say you need to see this.”
While she hiked, the day’s events replayed in her mind. That’s the last time someone is going to tell me what to do, to think, or how to act! Jyss and her so-called friends were just using me, and my own mother still treats me like a child! Well, I’m NOT a child anymore! I’ll show them all that I don’t need any of them! Despite the suns’ incessant heat, Rigel felt a chill run through her as anger and fear, the Darkside emotions began to surface.
“Arrghhhh!” Attempting to release her frustration with a scream, Rigel watched as large rocks in her path were flung away, left and right away from her feet, to crash hundreds of meters away in piles of rubble. The angrier she got, the larger the size of boulders she was able to propel and as she concentrated, the higher and farther they flew. She felt a strange sense of glee at their smashing into tiny particles with a thunderous crash. Soon it became a game, picking an object and flinging it as far as she could with her mind. But as she calmed, she found it harder and harder to concentrate and even move the smallest of stones.
Testing herself, Rigel began to think of the accident, her friends, and her mother’s reaction once more. Shaking with anger, Rigel felt a swell in power again. This time, just staring at a point in the distance caused an explosion of dirt and rubble from what was once an outcropping of rock.
I do that? To have the ability to cause this destruction
was intoxicating… I wonder what I could do if I really tried?
As she continued her trek into the Wasteland, Rigel Darklighter
found that she was now embarking on a new path -- one that would change
the way others treated her forever.
How could you have spoken to Rigel like that? Some mother you are, Kali….instead of supporting and helping your daughter, you lay into her like she was a criminal. I have to apologize to her. Maybe she just needs some time to cool down. She’ll be home soon enough and together we’ll find some way out of this mess.
Leaving Artoo outside, Luke entered the musty, dark building which served as the Mos Eisley detention centre for as long as he could remember. For a town renowned as a “hive of scum and villainy” (he couldn’t help but smile as he remembered Obi-Wan’s description), he found it surprisingly small. Behind the cluttered desk Luke found a pudgy, disheveled official who eyed him suspiciously.
Quickly reaching out with his senses, Luke surveyed the rest of the building. Located beyond the plasteel door on the far wall, he found no sign of Kali or Rigel in the holding cells. Great… so far. With a wave of his hand, the officer was more than happy to give Luke the details of the situation.
Upon hearing the story, Luke recalled his own reckless adolescence. He was lucky nothing like this ever happened to his group of friends. More than once they flirted with death skimming through the canyons at incredible speeds, showing off and believing nothing bad could happen to them. But other than Fixer, none of them mixed drinking and racing.
It looks like the bleakness of Tatooine still drives the youth to making their own excitement… only yesterday they were not quite so lucky.
leaving the Constable bored once again, convinced that no one was
What perfect timing he had! She tried to straighten herself up, pretending that nothing was wrong. She should have known he could see right through her.
“Kali! Are you all right? You look terrible!”
“Nice to see you again too” she retorted. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. It IS good to see you again. It’s just a bad time, right now, that’s all. Come in, please.”
“I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean you look terrible … it’s just that, well, you’re so tired looking. Where is Rigel? What is wrong?” Luke already knew the situation, but wanted to give Kali the chance of confiding in him, if she wished. He and Artoo entered her modest home, the droid keeping itself out of the way in the corner of the room. Luke and Kali sat down and had a long talk about their daughter, the past and what was new in each other’s lives since they last spoke. Whenever they were allowed these few encounters together, it was as if they were never separated. Genuine feelings for each other always survived, and lasted still. Probably will to my dying day, thought Kali.
“I want to help.” Luke insisted. “If you think we should give her some time to come home on her own, we will. But while we’re waiting, we need to help you.”
Kali let Luke make her a soothing hot drink as she attended to her aching body in the refresher. Slipping her soft wrap off her shoulder so she could apply cold compresses to her bruises, Kali was appalled at the image staring back at her in the mirror. What a mess you are! Luke was right. I do look terrible! Gone were the days when I would primp and prime before I would allow him to see me … I’m sure not a giggling teen anymore. I feel so old and tired. And a failure as a mother. How could I ever think I could do this alone? Today’s fight added bruises on top of ones she already had. But what hurt the most was her feelings about the argument with Rigel. Where was she? I wish she would come home so I could apologize and help her. She had never witnessed her daughter’s temper like that before, and never had Rigel physically hurt anyone or anything in anger. It scared Kali to see her like that.
Luke tapped lightly on the door and entered. “Are you okay?” He stood, steaming cup in hand. “Here. Take this...” his eyes dropped to see the results of the Krayt attack on her body. Kali felt self-conscious, trying to hide the worst of it behind her wrap. “I told you it was a bad time...” was all she could think of saying.
Luke gently touched her swollen shoulder and arm, battered from her fall into the crevice. Kali closed her eyes and shivered at his tender touch, still moved at his caress. She hadn’t realized how much she missed that feeling until now.
“Who did this? Not Rigel!” He suddenly feared that the Darkside had taken over his little girl. In his absence, he couldn’t warn her of its lure, of the ease in which it can entice someone as strong in the Force as she was. He had a responsibility to teach her the things that Kali could not, would not even be aware of.
“No. No! Of course not! I had an accident yesterday, that’s all. Actually your daughter is really quite brave.” Kali dressed in her wrap again, and led Luke to the sitting room.
While she sipped her stim-tea, she told him of her encounter with the Krayt, and how Rigel had helped to rescue her. But she stopped at the end of that story, conveniently leaving out the part of Rigel Force-pushing her in the street today. That was her fault anyway, and would make it up to Rigel privately later.
Kali looked at her chrono, getting more worried as time slipped by. Luke nodded in silent agreement. “I’m going out to find her.”
“I’ll come with you.” Kali stood, still wincing at the pain in her ribs.
“No you won’t. You need to stay home, for yourself and to be here when Rigel returns. You can reach me on my comm if she gets back before I do. Don’t worry Kali. We’ll get through this. We’ve survived worse together, haven’t we?” Luke smiled, trying to put her at ease.
Kali knew Luke was right. As she bid him farewell at the door, remembering his gentle touch, she felt very much alone once again.