AOH :: KTARAH.TXT|
Star Wars: Search at Terron - by Genevieve Williams.
Search at Terron
by Genevieve Williams
K'Tarah piloted the modified shuttle expertly, skimming over
the planet's tree-covered landscape, and glanced at her copilot
with a tight smile. "This is the tricky part," she confided,
watching the sensory readings that told her the density of plant
life, the proximity of human settlements, the changes in ground
surface below. "I want to give the villages and towns a wide
Seated beside her in the copilot's chair, Luke Skywalker only
nodded as he watched the forest roll beneath them like a green sea.
It was a tricky thing they planned to do, land this shuttle
unobserved on a planet that had seen no interstellar travellers for
centuries, save some whose comings and goings had been limited to
an otherwise uninhabited island.
He knew little about the planet Terron. Orbiting an unnamed
star on the fringes of the galaxy, it was in a location that few
were inclined to visit, despite the idyllic appearance of the place
and an atmosphere that was perfectly suited for both humans and a
number of other sentient species. Luke,naturally, had never been
there; but K'Tarah had.
He had first met her in the New Republic capital of Coruscant,
where she had landed some weeks ago, hassling various New Republic
functionaries until, intrigued by the disturbances such activity
was creating, he had sought her out. She had come to see him, she
had told him. Come to see him, and to claim status as a Jedi; what
was more, she offered to bring him to her teacher.
Luke might have doubted her words; certainly there was no
shortage of people making the same claims, most of them tricksters
and charlatans. But his every instinct told him otherwise. He could
feel, almost without effort, the way the Force shaped itself around
her, the way her presence drew on its power. This one was well-
trained indeed...and soon he would meet the Master who had trained
K'Tarah checked over the sensory readings with a feeling of
satisfaction. They were approaching a clearing in the forest -
Hane's forest - that was some distance from any human habitation.
Engaging the shuttle's repulsorlifts, she took a deep breath and
shut off its running lights. Touching the controls gently, she
reached out and felt the air beyond the ship, felt the trees and
ground rushing up to meet them; her hands moved on the controls
almost without volition, and the shuttle settled to rest beneath
the trees. She opened her eyes and smiled. "Here we are," she said.
"Terron. The home of Hane."
Luke peered through the viewport as K'Tarah gathered together
some supplies, packing them in a pair of skin bags, and pulled a
bulky parcel from its storage compartment - a camouflage net, an
Trees. The place reminded him a great deal of Endor. A great
deal. He smiled, remembering that time. So little had he known
then, in comparison to now; a Jedi, but not yet a Master.
He turned. K'Tarah offered him a pack, and he took it,
wrinkling his nose at the smell. She grinned, noticing his
reaction, and led the way out of the shuttle.
They travelled some distance from the shuttle before local
nightfall, and made a small camp in the forest. K'Tarah skillfully
built a small fire, then settled on the ground and watched the
She had ambivalent feelings about returning here. She was
trained as a Jedi, true, but always there was more to learn, and of
this Master Hane constantly reminded her. She wondered what the
grizzled old forest spirit's and young Jedi Master's reactions
would be to each other.
Luke startled her out of her musings with a question. "How did
Hane come to settle here?" he asked. "He has been here for a long
time; these woods resonate with his presence."
K'Tarah clasped her hands around her knees, shrugging her long
dark hair back behind her shoulders. "What do you know about
Atalan?" she asked.
He shook his head. "The records are lost or destroyed. All I
know is that it existed, and that it was some kind of colony."
K'Tarah smiled and waved her hand westward. "In that
direction, across the ocean, there was once an island. The humans
of Terron had not yet come upon it, and many hundreds of years ago
a small group of Jedi, seeking a place where their kind could meet
and exchange knowledge - for as you know, the Jedi Knights usually
trained in isolation, individual students under the tutelage of a
single Master - founded a small colony there. They named it Atalan,
and for many hundreds of years it was a place where the Jedi could
gather in privacy. In this way their knowledge could be gathered
and exchanged in a place of peace."
K'Tarah frowned. "As the Emperor rose to power, he eradicated
the Jedi Knights, as you well know. He destroyed Atalan, killing
everyone there in an enormous catastrophe. Hane was the only
Luke looked at K'Tarah then, saw the bitterness in her dark
eyes. "How did the Emperor do it?" he asked. "Didn't the Jedi have
some kind of defense?"
K'Tarah shrugged, the look in her eyes fading somewhat. "That
is the question that is always asked about the eradication of the
Jedi Knights, and as always, there is no satisfactory answer.
Perhaps they were overconfident, feeling that no one would discover
them there. Hane seems to think so. And the Emperor was strong; he
knew the dark side very well. However it happened, a giant volcano,
dormant for centuries, exploded on Atalan, and the whole island
sank into the sea. Hane had gone on a sea voyage, one of his
meditative exercises, so he wasn't there when it happened; but he
saw the explosion. Smoke and ash hung in the air for weeks, he
said, and the volcano caused gigantic waves that nearly swamped the
boat. In the end, he was carried here by the ocean currents, and
found refuge in this forest. He never leaves it; the spirit of
these trees and the spirit of Hane are as one. He knows we are
"When will we meet him?" Luke asked, not impatiently.
K'Tarah smiled, and opened her pack, pulled out a blanket to
sleep in. "At his convenience. It has always been so."
The fire burned low; Luke could dimly make out his companion
sleeping on the other side of the fire circle. He sat very still,
feeling the shape and breadth of this place. Its presence was
strong; so strong that he did not wonder at K'Tarah's telling him
that the locals thought the forest to be haunted.
It was a strange place they had landed in. A primitive world,
whose inhabitants were apparently descended from colonists but who
had no memory of that collective past, according to K'Tarah, and a
former society of Jedi living in isolation from these people. Jedi
who had all been destroyed by the Empire, save one...one who had
somehow contrived to bring K'Tarah here for training; brought her
here and shown her the ways of the Force.
Luke doubted that Hane would leave this place with them,
although he had initially thought to ask. But from what K'Tarah had
told him, the old Master was disinclined to leave the forest which
had nurtured his spirit. But Hane was the only Jedi from before the
time of the Empire that Luke had been able to find, aside from his
former teachers, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, both long gone. And his
father, likewise dead several years past.
He felt the burden weighing on him daily. "Pass on what you
have learned," Yoda had told him, and for the sake of the New
Republic and for the sake of the Force, he needed to do it. Those
who served the darkness in themselves were everywhere; he had to
find those who would serve the light; and then, he had to teach
them. It was this he hoped to gain from Hane; how the Jedi Masters
of old had passed on their knowledge. He doubted there was any one
method, any one right way to show the ways of the Force...but he
had to start somewhere.
They made their way through the forest. K'Tarah explained to
him in passing that Hane had a dwelling-place, a cavern, hidden
behind a waterfall, where he lived and meditated. "He often teaches
there, too," K'Tarah said. "He had another student, a young man
from a local village, who came to learn from him right before I
"A student?" Luke asked, sounding eager. K'Tarah stopped a
moment and looked at him. "After a fashion," she said. "He is not
as strong in the Force as you and I, and he has no knowledge of the
galaxy beyond Terron. He sought refuge in this forest, following
his escape from the prison of the warden that nominally rules this
part of the land, and Hane saw the potential in him, albeit
limited. So he learns the ways of the Force, as much as he can. We
may meet him, if he's around when we find Hane."
She turned again; there was a sudden hum in the air, and she
ducked, seizing his arm and pulling him down; a split second later
an arrow thudded into a tree above their heads.
K'Tarah swore under her breath. Luke glanced up at the arrow.
He had seen such weapons before; the Ewoks of Endor had used them.
This arrow, however, was much longer than those the Ewoks had shot.
The bow it had come from could only have been wielded by someone
human-sized or bigger.
K'Tarah pulled back her hood and closed her eyes briefly. Then
she stood, and began shouting into the forest. Luke could not quite
make out what she was saying, for although she was speaking Basic,
it was with a strange accent that he had never heard before. Her
tone, however, sounded reprimanding. She left off suddenly, as an
answering shout came from somewhere in the surrounding trees; a
moment later a figure dropped from a limb some distance away, and
came toward them.
The newcomer was a young man, perhaps in his early twenties by
Luke's reckoning. He wore a scruffy leather tunic and breeches dyed
in soft green and brown hues that blended in with the surrounding
forest, so that if he had not moved, he would have been invisible.
He was no taller than Luke himself, and his hair, a reddish blond
in color, fell to his shoulders.
"My apologies," he said with a quick smile, as he came closer.
He carried a bow that was nearly as tall as he was, and over one of
his shoulders was a quiver full of arrows. "K'Tarah, I did not
His speech was heavily accented, but now that they were no
longer shouting Luke could make it out. K'Tarah smiled and replied,
"A little nervous today, aren't you, Roden? Do the soldiers press
so close these days?"
Roden smiled again. "They grow worse each day, my friend."
K'Tarah laughed, and turned to Luke. "Roden, may I present my
companion Luke; Luke, this is Roden, whom I was telling you about.
Roden, we have come to speak with Hane."
Roden raised his eyebrows. "Have you now? Hane keeps much to
himself these days."
K'Tarah smiled. "But you see him, do you not? Will you take us
The young man nodded. "But it's something of a journey. Come
to our camp; the others are there."
He turned and led them away, deeper into the forest. As he
stepped in among the trees, he seemed to disappear from sight, save
his hair, which shone like a beacon. Luke and K'Tarah followed him.
"Others?" Luke asked as they walked.
K'Tarah answered him. "Others live in these woods, who do not
fear Hane's power so much as the local authorities. Roden is their
leader, after a fashion; they have banded together for mutual
Roden turned and flashed them a quick grin. "Protection, and
justice. We give the king's soldiers no end of trouble, when they
enter Hane's woods, paying them for the injustices they have
inflicted on our people."
Luke looked at Roden thoughtfully. K'Tarah had told him
something about the systems of government on Terron; monarchy and
nationalism were still much in force here, so that there were
constant wars between the various countries. Small wonder, he
thought, that the Jedi who had come here had chosen an isolated
island on which to work. According to K'Tarah, powers such as the
Jedi wielded were bound to be misinterpreted by both governmental
and religious organizations, and those who were thought to have
such powers, whether real or faked, were subject to persecution.
He pulled his black robe closer around him, to avoid snagging
it on the forest's dense underbrush. Ahead, Roden moved easily
among the trees, looking very much at home here, and confident.
Too confident, Luke's instincts warned suddenly, and he
remembered again K'Tarah's comments; Roden had some talent in the
Force, but the higher powers of concentration were beyond him. Luke
wondered if the Force whispered to Roden much as it had whispered
to him, in his early days of training; constantly making him aware
of its presence, but its secrets ever eluding his grasp. He was
more aware now, more knowledgeable than he might have wished,
measuring his knowledge in the losses he had endured. He wondered
if Roden had known any such losses, and if they had strengthened or
weakened his resolve.
Ahead of Luke, following Roden, K'Tarah peered eagerly through
the trees. Roden's friends, while not students of Hane, had been
good friends of hers, when they came to reside in Hane's forest;
she realized abruptly how much she had missed them, missed the life
they led here among the trees. Already she could smell the smoke of
their cooking fire, and she felt a keen stab of homesickness. What
a change from the heating coils in the kitchen of the hostel on
Coruscant, which only glowed faintly, or the greasy air of half-a-
dozen spaceport cantinas as she'd travelled across the galaxy to
speak with Luke Skywalker. She smiled, now, hearing voices
filtering through the trees, and seeing flickers of firelight that
cast odd shadows on the branches as the sky grew darker with
approaching night. Ahead of her, Roden called out to his
companions, his voice cheerful.
"Ho there! Add a bit more to that pot, we've guests this eve!"
he shouted through the trees. K'Tarah chuckled, then went forward
as curious questions sprang out of the lit area ahead.
Roden led them into a forest clearing, in the middle of which
a bonfire burned. Seated on a nearby fallen tree and a few handy
roots and rocks were some half-a-dozen people, all clad similarly
to Roden and all looking up curiously at the new arrivals, save one
young woman, with hair similar to Roden's and a gentle face, who
still stirred the contents of the pot that was suspended over the
fire, not looking up even when K'Tarah greeted her.
"Well met, my friends," she said, and was immediately engulfed
in a massive hug as everyone tried to greet her at once. Laughing,
she extricated herself from the tangle and said, "My friends, may
I present my companion Luke; Luke, these are Marek, Willa, Jaheen,
Norcole, Greteth, and Roden's sister Rodine," she concluded,
pointing last to the woman by the fire, who looked up and nodded,
but did not speak. Willa, a solid-looking older woman who wore a
set of knives at her belt and a dangerous glimmer in her eye,
grinned and pointed to the fallen tree. "Welcome to you, and take
Roden nodded, and touched K'Tarah's shoulder. "Go on - we will
talk after you have broken your fast."
K'Tarah smiled, and made her way through the small gathering.
Luke followed, feeling their curious gazes on him. Not hostile -
merely curious, wondering who he was and how he had come to be in
their friend's company. Some of the suppositions he caught
surprised him, to say the least.
They sat down, and Rodine brought them bowls of stew from the
pot near the fire. She smiled, but did not speak, although K'Tarah
greeted her once again; looking pleased, she returned to a seat
near the fire. Luke glanced at K'Tarah questioningly. She smiled,
a little sadly. "Rodine is shy - and," she added, "she was born
with less wits about her than most. She and Roden are twins - it is
odd that one has some strength in the Force, and the other has less
potential than most. But she is gentle, and kind-hearted."
Luke nodded as he took a bite of the stew, which was
surprisingly good despite its unfamiliar taste. Another question
tugged at the corner of his mind as he looked around the clearing,
the fire glowing all the more brightly in the deepening twilight.
"Why didn't you use my surname?" he asked curiously, keeping his
K'Tarah sighed and swallowed a mouthful of stew. Willa went
past, handing them each a wooden cup filled with liquid - some sort
of ale, from the smell of it - and K'Tarah waited until the woman
had passed. "Roden's people are the subjugated nationality in this
country," she explained, "but once they were conquerors. They came
from the south, long, long ago, and they brought their religion,
with its many gods, with them. All here save Jaheen are of that
race. One of the gods - and they each had many names by which they
were known - was on occasion given the epithet Sky-Walker. It will
be difficult enough to explain where you came from - and they will
ask, eventually - without bringing that into the discussion."
Luke smiled to himself. Odd coincidence. Then he frowned. Or
maybe not. He wondered if any of his ancestors had perhaps found
their way to Terron...
A shape seated itself on K'Tarah's other side; Norcole, a slim
form in ragged clothing, somewhat younger than Luke, with dark eyes
that sparkled in the firelight. He had an easy, but patient, smile;
he glanced at Luke, then said to K'Tarah, "Well now, what brings ye
back to Haneswood? We've seen little enough of ye of late."
K'Tarah smiled, scraping her bowl clean before answering.
When she spoke, Luke noted how well her inflection and tone matched
Norcole's; on Coruscant she had spoken much like himself. "I've
come back to speak with Hane, Norcole," she said. "My friend" -
and here she indicated Luke - "was once the student of one such as
Hane, an' I thought he'd like to meet the one that taught me."
"Another like Hane?" The dark-haired man, Jaheen, had spoken.
Luke looked at him and felt an odd sense of power. Not a Jedi, but
something like it; the hilt of long-bladed weapon was visible over
one shoulder, and there was in his aspect a darkness that seemed to
radiate from some vanishing point, perhaps from a time in his
K'Tarah looked up to see the gathering looking at them, or
rather at Luke, with fresh curiousity. Luke spoke, aware as he did
so how foreign he must sound to these people. "Yes, I think so," he
said. "I've never met Hane, but from what K'Tarah has told me he's
a lot like my teacher."
"Who was this teacher?" Roden asked, leaning forward. "He was
from a far place, if he was of your land; I hear in your manner of
speech that you are of some land far distant. And K'Tarah was long
gone from us in finding you."
Luke shook his head. "He died, many years ago. He was very old
when I met him."
"I did not find Luke right away," K'Tarah added. "I wandered
for a bit, after I left this forest. Then I heard of Luke, that
there was another who had been taught as I had been taught. I went
in search of him. And here we are."
Greteth, a woman about K'Tarah's age whose brown tunic and
leggings closely matched her skin, said, "Well now, we are some
distance from Hane's dwelling place. But we shall be travelling
near there on the morrow - perhaps you would care to go with us, if
Roden is agreeable."
Roden nodded. "Indeed. For it is as part of our hospitality
that travellers journey the forest in safety. That is our service
to Hane, in return for what he gives us."
Luke blinked. The arrangement sounded odd to him. "And what
does he give you?" he asked, aware that he could be earning these
people's suspicion as he did so.
Roden glanced at him, but did not seem disturbed by the
question. "His blessing," he said quietly.
There was an uncomfortable silence; then Greteth drew an
object from its wrappings near her seat. Removing the cloths, she
passed the object - Luke saw, in the firelight, that it was some
kind of musical instrument, wooden, with strings - to K'Tarah.
"Come, my friend, we heard none of your music whilst you were away
from us. Will you favor us now? There are none here so skilled as
K'Tarah took the instrument, strummed it, and twisted a few
tuning pegs. "I am honored," she said, and drew off her cloak so
that she could play unimpeded. Like Luke, she wore the clothing of
a Jedi; perhaps that was why he didn't appear as odd to them as
he'd feared. He was glad of it; he didn't want to attract undue
K'Tarah began to play, a gentle, lilting rhythm consisting
mainly of chords. She settled into the instrument; Luke could feel
her growing sureness as she played, her fingers tracing old paths
anew. She hadn't played for some time, but her hands remembered
their skill. And then she began to sing. Her voice had a delicate
quality that matched the music she played, but Luke could feel the
power behind it, the channel in the Force that her voice created.
She sang, and she played, and Luke lost track of time for
awhile. They all did; the threads of music wound into the night,
one song segueing smoothly into the next. Some were of hope, and
joy; others of despair, others of dreams. But all had that power
In the midst of K'Tarah's music, Rodine came and sat by her,
watching with a childlike fascination, and K'Tarah smiled. Even
Jaheen, who seemed to always be tense, inscrutable thoughts lying
behind his dark eyes, relaxed, and Greteth sat by Roden's side, and
he leaned against her shoulder as the fire burned low. And still
At last K'Tarah fell silent, and slowly the others made their
way to their respective sleeping places. Rodine had fallen asleep
where she sat, and K'Tarah, after setting aside her instrument,
gently lifted the young woman and placed her on the ground, drawing
blankets around her. Then she turned to Luke. "Sleep now, my
friend," she said quietly. "Tomorrow we shall meet with Hane."
Luke awoke early and suddenly; the thin light of dawn barely
showed K'Tarah, Roden, and his companions, all still asleep where
they had lain down the night before. The fire had long ago burned
away to ashes that stirred in the faint breeze that rustled leaves
in the forest all around.
He stood and stretched, wondering what had awakened him. The
faint memory of a dream lingered on, penetrating halfway into his
consciousness in the form of a vision, a figure cloaked in darkness
that laughed at him when he tried to address it, laughed mockingly
and turned its back on him despite his entreaties. He seemed to
remember, at the very edge of a dream, someone screaming...
He shook the memory away and drew his Jedi cloak over his
shoulders against the chill, looking up into the branches of the
trees, watching the filtered, cold dawn light seep through. Shaking
off the last remnants of sleep, he settled on the ground, sitting
cross-legged and letting the new day work its way into his
consciousness...the sounds of early birdsong that seemed to come
from everywhere, the cool scent of the earth...and the immense
power that pervaded this place, seeming to resonate in the ground
itself. Hane. He smiled, feeling peaceful. In a strange way, this
place made him feel at home.
An uneasiness prodded at him, moments before he heard the
noise. He looked up, and saw K'Tarah's arm moving in a sluggish
warding gesture. She murmured something, then let out a faint cry.
His dream came back to him then as he rose and hurried to her side.
She was still asleep, but there was a look of terror on her
face. Gently he touched her shoulder, letting the peaceful
wakefulness of the forest around them flow through his fingers.
K'Tarah sat up abruptly, starting awake and staring at him for
a moment as if she had no idea who he was. Then..."Luke?" she said,
Behind him, he could hear the movements of the others as they
awoke. "Are you all right?" he asked, feeling their eyes on him.
She glanced down at her hand, which gripped the edge of the
blanket, twisting it. "I think so," she said. "I dreamed, Luke - I
was floating in water, I think it was some kind of boat, and
everything was peaceful. Then I heard a noise like thunder, and the
sky grew dark while waves rose up all around me, and I felt the
boat going under. Huge flaming stones fell into the water..." she
trailed off. Luke, feeling anxious now, especially in the wake of
his own dream, touched the hand that clenched the blanket, willing
peace. Slowly, she released her grip, then nodded, still looking at
the ground. "It was just a dream," she said, pushing the blanket
aside and reaching for her boots. He moved away, then, feeling
awkward. Roden came up behind him, spoke over his shoulder. "What
Luke turned. They were all watching him. "She had a
nightmare," he said, and Roden nodded, and then the others relaxed
visibly. Luke sighed, and wondered what it was about him that made
They moved through the forest, Roden in the lead with Greteth
following just behind, then K'Tarah and Luke, and then the others.
Jaheen brought up the rear, looking from side to side as they
travelled, his dark eyes probing the forest as if he expected an
ambush at any moment. Luke remembered that these were outlaws, even
As they journeyed, Roden leading them where no path went,
K'Tarah pointed things out to Luke along the way - certain trees
and plants, and once a slender animal, dappled like afternoon sun
through the trees and invisible before it moved, bounded away at
their approach, and K'Tarah caught his arm and pointed. "We don't
see them much, this time of year," she explained. "The aristocracy
hunts them for sport, and it makes them wary." They crossed a road
early in the day, Jaheen and Willa scouting a ways in both
directions and giving an all-clear before Roden gave the signal to
cross. It was a dirt road, hard packed but with wheel ruts clearly
plowed into it, with the prints of hoofed animals running between
them. Beyond, the forest grew deeper, quieter, more still. Luke
could feel a steady building of power in the woods around him, and
K'Tarah spoke in hushed tones. At one point Marek stepped on a dry
branch, the first such event of the day, and the crack sounded
echoingly loud in the stillness. Roden's companions jumped; but
Luke felt at peace here. A strong presence in the Force radiated
from some point ahead, and he unconsciously moved faster, drawn by
They came to a stream, and travelled along its banks. Luke
felt the course of the water like a current in the Force. Very
close now. As they rounded a bend, Willa led Jaheen, Greteth,
Norcole, Marek, and Rodine away from the stream and into the woods,
while Roden led Luke and K'Tarah onward. Luke glanced back
curiously at the departing group. K'Tarah, noting the direction of
his gaze, said, "Few visit Hane's cave. It is a mysterious place,
and one where those who are not strong in the Force feel odd
without knowing why. Sometimes he comes out, though, and walks
among the trees, and then others will talk to him. But you see, he
is so firmly bound to this land - and the cave is the root of that
binding. Some find it unnerving, especially here."
"Why?" Luke asked, skirting a tree root that thrust out into
the water. The trees along the bank were bigger here, making the
going more difficult. He could hear the sound of rushing water up
ahead - a curious sound, for someone from a river-less world.
K'Tarah sighed. "The people of Terron are very superstitious.
Four large religions, and several smaller offshoots, thrive in this
hemisphere alone. Beyond Hane's forest people speak of him as a
magician, and fear him, although he does not harm them. And I told
you the locals think this forest is haunted. Even Roden's followers
won't travel the forest at night, not that they could tell you
Luke only shook his head. It was the strangest state of
affairs concerning Jedi that he'd ever run across. Yet K'Tarah
seemed to accept it as a matter of course. Well, she had lived here
for some years, under Hane's patronage. He wondered how much
history Hane had taught her, how much she knew of the Jedi Knights
of old. Certainly she didn't seem surprised by him, nor by the
things she had encountered in crossing the galaxy to find him.
They rounded another bend in the stream, and before them a
cascade plunged in a white spume from a point higher than Luke's
head. Roden led the way to the base of the falls itself, then, with
a beckoning motion toward the two of them, slipped through a narrow
opening created by an alcove worn in the rock. K'Tarah followed,
Inside it was dark and damp, and sounds were muffled by the
rush of water. Luke could make out a tunnel leading back into
Sparks flared as Roden struck a flint and lit a dry torch that
had stood in a bracket on the wall. The flame danced on its wooden
bed, casting distorted shadows on the walls as Roden moved down the
passageway. They followed.
K'Tarah touched the walls of the tunnel, as familiar to her as
her own hands; as if she had hewn this passage herself. She could
feel Hane's presence, welcoming and familiar, up ahead, and
realized again how much she had missed this place. This was her
home, where she had grown up and learned the ways of the Force. The
discomfort she had felt, singing her way across the galaxy to
Coruscant, and pressed in on all sides by the crowded city itself,
flowed away from her, leaving behind only the tranquillity of this
Firelight flickered up ahead, and soon the tunnel opened out
into a cavern, fair-sized but fully lit by the fire, which burned
in a ring of stones in the center of the chamber. Seated by this
fire, his face underlit by the dancing flames, was a man.
He looked old, at first, to Luke; but then he looked up and,
like Ben Kenobi, took on that odd ageless quality that had nothing
to do with wrinkles and gray hair, both of which he had in
abundance. The latter fell below his shoulders, streaked with white
and unkempt, and the clothing he wore seemed as old as he was. But
he looked up at them, and his gray eyes were clear and piercing, as
if he read their hearts and minds all in that first glance.
"Welcome," he said, and his voice was deep. He spoke slowly,
as if turning every sound over in his mind before he said it,
giving his voice a quality that Luke could only describe as relaxed
deliberation. Not since Yoda had he met anyone with such a strong
air of inner peace.
"I greet you, Master Hane," K'Tarah said in the same quiet
voice. Although she had not given Luke the impression of being at
all subservient, she spoke easily now, and in that presence Luke
could well understand her making an exception.
"The prodigal returns," Hane said with a slight smile, which
K'Tarah returned in kind, and Luke, watching the two of them, saw
some meaning behind that. I have missed you; be not so serious. He
felt, suddenly, oddly excluded; the two faces, young and old,
suspended in the firelight, and himself an observer of that
unspoken communication, but not a participant. He felt strangely
lonely, then, and realized he was thinking of his father.
But then Hane turned to look at him, and he met that direct
gaze unflinchingly. "You have brought a guest, I see," Hane
commented, his eyes never straying from Luke's. "And trained in the
old ways," Hane went on. Some kind of test had been given; from the
subtly pleased expression on Hane's face, Luke decided he had
passed it. "This is a rare thing indeed," Hane said mildly; then,
turning to Roden, he added, "Roden, I would speak with my student
and her guest alone."
Roden, who had remained at the cave's mouth, silent and
unmoving, nodded in assent. "As you wish, Hane," he said, and
bowed, and disappeared down the tunnel.
Hane looked after that one as if he intended to say something
else, but apparently he though better of it and turned back to his
visitors. "I have heard of you, Luke Skywalker," he said. "Your old
Master, Yoda, was once a great friend of mine, and some years ago
I knew a man, who, I believe, was kin to you, although he did not
stay on Atalan. Let us talk, then. What would you of me?"
Luke stepped forward, suddenly ill at ease. Hane seemed to
notice this, for he said, "Ah, I forget myself. I have little use
for courtly manners here, obviously, although Roden is of a noble
family and cannot seem to contrive to forget it. Please, sit down,
both of you. I fear I cannot offer more than the ground,
Luke smiled. Now Hane reminded him of Ben. What was it about
this enigmatic man that seemed to call up all of the old Jedi Luke
had ever known? Bemused, he took a seat by the fire, K'Tarah
joining him. "You see," she said without preamble, "this is why I
left - somehow I knew Luke was meant to come here, and there are so
few of us now, I thought it best."
Hane turned that direct gaze of his on his student, and she
fidgeted, twisting her hands in her lap. Luke couldn't help but
smile, well understanding his companion's discomfort.
"Somehow?" Hane asked, and there was rebuke in that tone, for
all its mildness.
K'Tarah flushed. "It was a dream," she said, and that was all.
Hane nodded, his manner now one of understanding. "The Force
often guides us by our dreams," he said quietly, "for in the
conscious world we work too hard to shape reality. You know this,
K'Tarah shook her head. "I do not know - what is my will, and
what is the will of the Force."
Luke frowned, thinking that that was a strange thing to say -
until he remembered asking that same question of Ben Kenobi,
although the words had been different: You mean it controls your
actions?...Partially. But it also obeys your commands.
"To the Jedi," Hane said, "they are one and the same. So,
K'Tarah, the Force called, and here is your answer. Well, Luke
Skywalker, what wish you to ask of me?"
Luke looked down at his hands, thinking, weighing his words.
At last he looked up again, met that clear, gray gaze. "I was with
Yoda when he died," he began - Hane nodded, he'd known that,
somehow - "and he instructed me to pass on what I'd learned. But I
don't know where to start. I'm meant to train my sister Leia, but
I don't know how to begin. There's so much to teach, and at the
same time I feel like I'm still learning. My father fell to the
Dark Side, and the consequences for the galaxy were terrible. I
don't know what to do."
Hane leaned back, considering. The firelight danced across his
face as he sat in thought for awhile. K'Tarah had ceased fidgeting,
and now sat patiently next to Luke, so still that if not for her
presence in the Force he might have forgotten she was there. He
shook his head inwardly, impressed by her patience.
At last Hane picked up a small pebble from the ground. They
were scattered hereabouts, no doubt tracked in by those who came
here to speak with Hane. He held it in his hand a moment, then
looked at Luke, and smiled. "Aye, I have no doubt you are related
to that Skywalker I knew. He once asked me...similar questions." He
put that thought aside, and asked, "Have you ever looked at a grain
of sand under a microscope?"
Luke smiled and shook his head. "I grew up on a desert world,
but I never thought to scrutinize it that closely."
Hane held the pebble out to Luke. It was a tiny chunk of rock,
knocked loose by the forces of water that roared outside the cave
from some larger entity. "If you were to do so," Hane said, "you
would see that the grain of sand had similar qualities as that
pebble, and both likewise share certain qualities with one of those
boulders in the streambed outside. In other words, each part
contains something of the whole - all of the whole, if understood
Luke nodded. He wasn't sure where Hane was going with this,
but he had an idea, so he only listened. K'Tarah said, "I don't see
what this has to do with - "
Hane made a gesture, and she cut off, sat back. Hane continued
as if the interruption had not occurred. "If you wish to train your
sister - or anyone else who has the innate sensitivity - you can
begin anywhere, with any part of the whole you wish. No matter what
you may teach her of the Force, it is related to the whole.
Remember that, and you will find that your teaching comes
"And," Hane added, "you must not harbor fear. Yoda taught you,
knowing that you might fail. He let you go to face Darth Vader
before you were ready - albeit unwillingly - knowing that you might
not survive. The Master is a guide, but he is not there to do the
student's work. To prevent you from making certain mistakes, there
were things Obi-Wan and Yoda could not tell you until the time was
right, but they allowed you to make others."
Luke nodded slowly. Ben and Yoda had not told him that Vader
was his father until Luke had already known it - but had they told
him earlier, could he have borne it? Perhaps he would have fallen,
then, to the Dark Side - sought to save his father without knowing
fully what it was he intended. He shook his head. There was little
point in dwelling on might-have-beens; often, what had actually
happened was difficult enough to understand as it was.
He looked up at Hane again, saw the old man watching him with
a measuring expression. At last the Master spoke once more. "To be
a Jedi, you must confront the Dark Side and deny its easy power.
But to be a Master, you must accept that the Dark Side is as much
a part of the Force as its opposite - and you must not only accept
this, but understand it. You know yourself that such understanding
does not come lightly. You must deny it, and yet accept it - which
is not as much of a paradox as it seems."
Luke frowned, trying to understand what Hane was saying. He
glanced at K'Tarah. Her expression was placid, as if she had heard
all of this before, and he wondered how she reconciled what Hane
told her. Yet it seemed as though he could understand it - if he
could perceive it the right way.
"There is no one way," Hane said into his thoughts. "Your
sister will undoubtedly learn the ways of the Force differently
from you; but does that mean she will not be a Jedi?"
"No," Luke said. At the back of his consciousness something
"True knowledge of the Force means going beyond such concepts
as opposites, and understanding the meanings behind the symbols,"
Hane said gently. "That is the mystery the Masters of old
understood, and that must be preserved at the core of your
knowledge and your teaching. Otherwise, the Jedi Knights will be
little more than an elite fighting force."
Luke nodded, the layers that he had always felt lurking at the
edges of his perception now starting to become clear. Oddly, he
recalled the figure of his dream the night before, saw its vague
outline become definite in some half-vision, half-daydream,
although he could not see its face.
"You have made the journey every Jedi must make," Hane
concluded. "It is the one which awaits K'Tarah, and well she knows
it" - here he glanced at his apprentice - "else she might not have
endeavored so much to find you. And I think the time has come for
her to make her way beyond Terron for good and all."
K'Tarah glanced up sharply at that; hope and fear battled for
dominance in her expression. The conflict did not go unnoticed.
"Yes, K'Tarah," her mentor said. "There is no more that I can
teach you. Your training with me has come to an end. When Luke
Skywalker leaves this place, you shall go with him."
K'Tarah calmed herself. So, the time had come at last. She had
always known that it would; the Jedi Knights were not meant to
cloister themselves on backwater planets, although the Masters
might do so, once the galaxy had taught them what it could. She
glanced at Luke; his expression was reflective, as if recalling
some time far from now, on some distant world.
At last she turned back to Hane, to thank him; but he rose
from his place, forestalling whatever she might say with a gesture.
"I have something to give you," he said, turning toward one of the
alcoves where he kept various esoteric objects, some familiar to
her, some not. He reached into one of them, withdrew a thing that
was instantly the former. It was a lightsaber.
"The Jedi apprentices of old would fashion their own, in
whatever manner they saw fit," Hane said. "But here on Terron, we
have none of the materials or tools you would require, since the
destruction of Atalan. Therefore, please accept mine, that I made
with my own hands, long before you were born." He stepped around
the fire, placed the lightsaber in K'Tarah's hands.
K'Tarah looked down at the smooth handle, turning it over to
examine the switches set into the side. It fit easily in her hand,
a solid-feeling instrument, ancient but well-made, with care and
craftsmanship. There was no other way to feel but moved by such a
gift. "Thank you," she whispered.
Luke looked at the two of them, Master and apprentice, again
suspended in the fire's glow - but with a difference. There was a
look of farewell between them, well-wishing on Hane's part and the
aspect of a freed spirit on K'Tarah's, tempered with an air of
maturity, a solidity in her expression that betokened a new sense
of responsibility. Luke smiled at that look, remembering a night on
Endor - long ago now, it seemed - when, likewise in the fire's
light, he had seen his teachers - Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father -
bidding him a similar good-bye.
"My past will no longer haunt you now, I think," said Hane in
his quiet way. "Your future is yours to make."
Luke and K'Tarah made their way through the forest, bearing
northward toward their shuttle. It was just the two of them, now;
Roden and his followers had left them that morning, with many well-
wishes. Luke didn't know what K'Tarah had told them, but they
seemed to know that it was unlikely they would see her again. In
any case, the leavetaking hadn't been long. K'Tarah had shaken
hands all around, and hugged Rodine; the others had avoided Luke,
still somewhat unnerved by his presence, but Roden had approached
"You will take care of her?" the younger man had asked, his
eyes full of concern.
Luke had smiled. "She will take care of herself," he had
answered, not ungently. He'd paused then, thinking, and said, "You
remind me a lot of myself, Roden. At your age I was a great deal
Roden had looked startled at that, but only shaken his hand
and set off into the woods with his cohorts, not without a backward
glance at Luke, his expression one of fear - and wonder.
They moved quickly, now, although K'Tarah often paused to take
another look around this forest that had been her home for so many
years. But at last they broke through the underbrush to the
clearing where they'd landed the shuttle. It still rested
undisturbed, and K'Tarah smiled in relief as they pulled off the
camo net and stowed it inside the ship. They gave the exterior a
brief checkout, then climbed inside, into the cockpit.
For a long moment K'Tarah sat in the pilot's chair, looking
out the canopy at the surrounding trees. Luke sat quietly next to
her, not wanting to disturb her; even he, he thought with an inward
smile, held his home planet in some affection. But at last he
placed a hand on her shoulder, and said gently, "Let's go."
K'Tarah grinned. "Right," she said, and threw the startup
The shuttle lifted above the trees and into the atmosphere,
then the main drive kicked in, and the tiny ship picked up speed.
Within moments it had vanished from sight, if there were any on the
ground to mark its passage.
Copyright 1994, Genevieve Williams. All rights reserved. And
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