Jedi Destiny I: Hate of the Jedi

Chapter 6

CRUISER WRECKAGE; YAVIN 4

Rebekah hid the moment she returned to the bridge. Zak tried to communicate with her, both mentally and verbally, but she would not respond. And to top it off, he hadn’t even seen where she’d disappeared to. She could have been in any of a dozen recesses on the bridge, hidden, ready to strike, and he wouldn’t see it coming.

Not that she perceived him as anything akin to threatening anymore. But he was sure that those outside the ship that she had mentioned before disappearing were Tash and the others looking for him. He would feel terrible if Rebekah attacked and hurt any of them, especially Tash, when he didn’t have enough information to give them fair warning of what was to come.

He himself knew someone was coming, that someone had followed her into the ship. He could hear the faraway sounds of movement, if not identity; the dull thud, thud, thud of booted footsteps, and the sounds of obstacles being thrown or shoved out of the way.

What Zak didn’t know, and wished that he did, was intent. The blaster was gone from the deck, no doubt snatched up by Rebekah on her way out of the ship. She probably had it with her still. If she did, Zak would be safe, for he still could not move.

His back hurt too much as it was just to turn his head to keep an eye on the entrance. But it was a pain he was willing to bear if it meant that he would see the intruders when they appeared.

He could hear the footsteps getting closer, and that the sounds of obstacles being removed was growing less and less frequent.

Do you have a second weapon hidden somewhere? he asked Rebekah desperately.

Cold fear of the unknown intruders was starting to creep into his veins and he suddenly didn’t like the idea of being unarmed. Raising a blaster might hurt his spine more than current, but again it was a pain that would turn out to be worth it if the intruders were hostiles. Part of him was still sure they weren’t hostiles, but he couldn’t be one-hundred-percent on it. Not now that he knew that it hadn’t been Rebekah he had chased into the jungle.

Rebekah didn’t respond to him, and he clamped his eyes shut in concentration as he tried again, assuming he just hadn’t gotten through to her the first time.

Rebekah! he shouted. I need a weapon! Give me something!

He heard a scraping sound and something bumped into his side. Looking down at it, he saw that it was a Merr-Sonn Q4 holdout blaster. It was capable of ten shots at most, by his recollection, but it was at least something. He’d grown proficient in blaster use during his and his sister’s run from the Empire—unknown to her and their uncle—and even more so during their stay on GemDiver over the last year. Lando Calrissian had taught him to respect the power of a well-hidden holdout blaster, and to, if possible, keep one on his person at all times for security.

He reached for the weapon with his good hand and hissed at the spike of pain spreading from his spine outwards and down his broken arm.

Quiet! Rebekah warned him.

He grasped the little weapon tightly in his hand, wrapped his finger around the trigger button and aimed it squarely at the doorway, breathing heavily as the pain subsided. He could feel Rebekah’s eyes darting over to him every few seconds as his breath drew steadier, quieter.

The intruders were close now. He could feel them in the Force, which was being generous to him in his crippled state. There were, three—no, four—of them.

Didn’t Rebekah say there was only one bad person out there in the jungle? Maybe his hopes had been answered. He began to lower the holdout, but raised it again when Rebekah started to shout into his head not to be so damned stupid.

He heard the hiss of plasma being ignited, and his heart skipped a beat. If it was who he thought it was, the sound would be expected when heading into an expected trap. But if it was who Rebekah suspected … then it was an unwelcome sound, the sound of someone trained in the arts of lightsaber combat that could, potentially, be hostile to them both

A Dark Jedi perhaps, like the blind Jerec that Zak and Tash had met once.

Zak fired the holdout a split second after Rebekah fired her own blaster and both shots converged on the doorway as a figure in a dark tunic appeared. He blurred the couple of steps onto the bridge to intercept the blaster fire, slashing his weapon around in front of him—a green-white blade of plasma energy.

Rebekah fired again, and Zak called out for her to stop.

It wasn’t a Dark Jedi at all. In fact, it was the complete opposite. It was exactly what he had been expecting for the past day and a half, and he felt utterly ashamed that he’d even doubted himself.

It was Luke Skywalker.

He slashed upwards, sending the second and third bolts from Rebekah’s weapon into the ceiling above them where they scorched the dulled plating, the sounds echoing loudly. Zak dropped the holdout at once and shoved it hard across the deck.

But Rebekah wasn’t finished. She jumped into sight from a gap in the far wall that Zak had missed and tossed the blaster to the deck at her feet in disgust. Without hesitating, she drew something else from her belt; something that made Luke Skywalker pause and Zak’s eyes widen in surprise.

She depressed the grimy button on the grime-covered shaft, igniting a yellow-white blade of plasma that she didn’t hesitate even a second at swinging at the elder Jedi. Luke blocked it and took a step back to get into a more defensible stance. Rebekah paused only long enough to shoot a glare in Zak’s direction and then across at the entry way where Zak could see that Tash and the Solo twins were standing, watching with mouths open and eyes wide.

Told you! You brought others to hurt me! I won’t let you! Hurt you all first!

“They’re not here to hurt you, Rebekah!” Zak insisted so the others could hear. If Luke knew this was a misunderstanding on the girl’s part, he might find other means to temporarily incapacitate her. “They’re here for me. You don’t have to fight.”

“Zak?” Luke asked uncertainly, not taking his eyes from Rebekah. She struck out in two arcing lances which he expertly deflected. However, he did not attempt to strike back. “Mind explaining to me what’s going on?”

“Long story,” Zak said. “She thinks you’re here to hurt her,” he added quickly as she lunged again.

Luke sliced left, bashing her lightsaber away before he ducked around and behind her. Zak gauged by the strength of the strike that the Jedi Master had been trying to batt the handle out of Rebekah’s grip entirely. However, her grip was strong and she didn’t release it.

Luke kicked out at the back of her leg, but Zak saw that there wasn’t much force behind it and she only stumbled a step before she recovered.

When she turned around to face him again, her face was twisted in an expression of purest confusion. She had enough experience in fighting, it seemed, to know that the older man hadn’t meant any harm in the move. And she was starting to realise that he was not striking back, but merely defending his own ground.

“Who …” she started.

Zak saw his chance at once to diffuse the situation, and he pounced on it. “That’s Skywalker!” he pleaded. “He’s good. He won’t hurt you.”

“Sky … walker?” She lowered the lightsaber only a little, but kept it activated, as if unsure if this was a trick to get her to lower her defences.

Luke seized the opportunity and deactivated his own lightsaber, lowering it but keeping it in hand. He held both of his hands out to the sides in supplication and waited for her to make the next move.

Zak saw the Solo twins start to panic at the gesture, but he understood that Luke Skywalker wanted her to think that she could strike him down if she was so inclined, and he wouldn’t try to stop her. Zak knew he would, but knew that he wouldn’t do anything to harm the girl. He himself could probably sense the goodness and frightened nature buried deep beneath the grubby skin and tattered clothes and wild eyes.

“My name is Luke Skywalker,” he said calmly, taking a single step forward.

“Uncle Luke!” Jaina and Jacen both hissed.

Tash’s hand went to her mouth. Zak took in a breath and waited.

“I wish you no harm, young lady,” he said, unsmiling but not unkind.

“Want?”

“What do I want?” Luke asked. He hadn’t bridged the gap Zak had with her, and Zak sensed that she had closed herself off to the elder Jedi. He must have used his own intuition to discern what it was that she had intended to ask.

It’s okay to let him in, Zak said silently to her, unsure if she even heard him. He was hurting anew all over from the strain of trying to communicate telepathically.

She nodded, but not to him. “I came here for Zak,” Luke said softly. He gestured to Zak with his free hand. “That is his sister there in the doorway. She has been very, very worried about him.”

“Ugh, stang,” Zak groaned and winced at the look his sister shot at him.

“Will you let us take him back?” Luke asked.

Rebekah’s eyes were frantic as they darted over every inch of Luke’s form, assessing potential threatening twitches. She narrowed her eyes and pointed at Zak, her ignited weapon still clutched tightly in her left hand as if she was afraid he would try to disarm her again.

“Fixed him,” she said slowly and with great difficulty. “Was hurt.”

Tash made a pitiful whimpering noise from the door and Luke nodded at her. She raced between the two of them and knelt at Zak’s side, resting a hand gently on his good arm as she eyed off the pair with the weapons.

Luke extended a hand towards Rebekah. “It’s okay,” he said calmly. Zak felt the pain ebb from his arm and his back completely. In fact, he felt all of his senses go numb as the elder Jedi continued. “Thank you for taking care of him,” he said. “We will take him back now, if you will let us.”

There were more voices, but they were muffled as Zak’s eyes fluttered closed and he drifted off into a deep slumber.


INFIRMARY, JEDI PRAXEUM; YAVIN 4

When Zak woke, it was to find his vision blurred, unclear and murky. He blinked several times to clear his eyes, but nothing worked. As his other senses slowly came back to him, he felt something clamped over the lower half of his face, held in place by a strap around the back of his head and supplying his lungs with oxygen fed through a tube that extended outwards and upwards above his head.

He looked around himself, and saw that he was naked except for a pair of tight, white shorts that clung to his skin, and there were harness straps under his arms and across his bare chest, suspending him in the liquid he soon realised he was submerged in.

It took him several minutes of adding all of those observed factors together to realise that he was submerged in a bacta tank.

Outside the tube, he could see his sister looking back at him, a relieved smile on her face and her hand pressed fully against the plexiglass of the outside of the tank. She was wearing a pair of plain, dark blue slacks with an equally dark blue blouse buttoned all the way to her neck—the clothes she had been wearing when Han Solo had discovered the two of them on Sullust. Behind her was Luke Skywalker in a dark top and darker slacks, his hand resting on Tash’s shoulder as he too smiled at Zak.

He turned his head and nodded to someone out of Zak’s line of sight and in seconds, he lost consciousness yet again.


When he woke again, he was in a room he recognised, though he had never been in it before. It was the Praxeum’s recovery ward, clearly identifiable by the sterile ceiling and walls, and the steady bleeping of nearby medical scanners.

He heard the gentle thrum of a medical droid hovering nearby and pushed himself up onto his elbows—both of them. All pain in his left arm was gone and he could move it freely now. The pain in his spine was also gone. He tilted his head back and sighed loudly.

Zak loved bacta. And though he assumed it had been some time since he had been in the tank, he felt tingly all through his body as the residual effects continued to permeate. He’d never been in a bacta tank before, but he’d had bacta injections and salves and mists applied, and so he was fairly familiar with the after-effects of the substance.

“How do you feel?” the calm, digitised and yet almost human voice of a droid said from his right. He turned his head to look at the droid and saw a familiar, artificial face from back on his home world staring back at him.

The GH-7 medical units were very efficient, the most efficient design of medical droid he had come across to date. It had a largish, elongated head lit with a pair of frontal photoreceptors glowing blue and a speech slot between them where a humanoid mouth would be. Its torso was a little smaller than a humanoid would have for a head that size, making the unit bear some resemblance to the Columi, the race that had designed it. Its main arms were humanoid standard with three mechanical fingers at the end and a single elbow join at the midpoint; the right side bore two arms. The second arm on the right side was attached to the shoulder above the main arm and had a single elbow join again but with a pincer-finger like end. The lower body, which somewhat resembled a pelvic bone, supported a tray that was at present empty but Zak recalled could be used to hold medical equipment for surgical operations or vials and beakers of substances for various analyses.

The thrumming sound was coming from what Zak knew to be a single repulsor unit on the droid’s undercarriage that kept it afloat and enabled it to move around the infirmary freely and quickly.

The unit tilted its head, waiting for a response from Zak, its photoreceptors winking out for a split second as if the machine was blinking.

“I … um … I guess I’m okay,” Zak said uneasily. A droid that could blink? Couldn’t be.

The GH-7 reached out with its left hand and gently pressed its fingertips against the wrist of Zak’s right hand, holding them there for a minute before taking the hand away and nodding.

“Your vital statistics would seem to corroborate your claim,” it said, “blinking” again. Zak blinked back. “But I would like you to remain here until the master sends someone to take you to your quarters.”

Zak nodded. “How long …” he started.

“You were suspended in bacta treatment for two days to recover from your injuries,” the droid replied, correctly interpreting his question. Zak opened his mouth to speak but the droid again anticipated his intent. “You have since been asleep for the better part of a third day in what the master assured me was a recovery trance.”

He closed his eyes and rubbed at them to force the bleariness from his mind. He knew it wouldn’t really work, but it was worth a shot rather than just stand there in the uncomfortable silence waiting for his escort. When he opened them again, his gaze drifted over to the second bed against the wall, a few meters from his own.

Atop it lay Rebekah, still unconscious and breathing steady under the thin sheet covering her otherwise semi-naked form.

He stepped over to her bedside and looked down at her face, noticing the thrum of the GH-7 as it followed him. He brushed a few stray strands of her hair from her face.

Without the dirt, she looked a lot prettier than he had originally thought. Her hair, which was now grime free, was lighter, almost like Tash’s in hue and the hair at the front on her left side was darker like Jaina’s. Somehow, it looked … natural. Her eyelashes were of even length and curled just right, framing her eyes. And her lips were full, yet hardened.

When Zak had seen her on the ship in the jungle, both of her ears had been pierced in a way that looked self-done, and from each lobe had dangled a thin metal wire threaded through a polished onyx stone at the end. Now, her piercings had sealed, probably due to the bacta treatment, if she had undergone any, but her piercings lay innocently on the bedside table.

He turned his head just enough to keep both her and the GH in his view.

“How is she?” he asked.

“She will recover,” the unit said, plucking a fold from the covering sheet. “The master induced a recovery trance in her as well to keep her docile until he was free to speak with her. He would like you present for that, I do believe,” it added, tilting its head to look at him.

“I’ll make a point to request the date and time,” Zak said with a nod. “Thank you …” Zak trailed off inquisitively.

“Medical android model Gee-Aitch-Seven, unit Four-Twenty-one,” the GH replied, blinking again. When the only response it received was a continued stare from Zak, it continued. “But many here have affectionately dubbed me ‘Geesev’.”

“Geesev?” Zak clarified with a cocked eyebrow. The machine dipped its head in a way Zak was sure was its equivalent of a nod of confirmation. He returned his gaze back to the sleeping young woman on the bed beside him and stroked her cheek gently.

“You have an attraction towards this female?”

“Not beyond curiosity or respect,” Zak explained. “I mean, if she wished me any harm I wouldn’t be here now talking about it. The fact that she’s survived alone in the jungle for who-knows-how-many years … well,” he started. He paused and turned full on to the medical unit. “Well it’s worthy of respect that she’s survived on her own this long, I think.”

“And that she has manifest Jedi traits does not aid her survival at all?” Geesev replied. Zak narrowed his eyes. “Rhetoric, Master Arranda. Of course it is worthy of a deal of respect. The master believes that the young lady taught herself most, if not all, of her abilities.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised, actually. If her parents weren’t Jedi or Force-sensitives, then she must have done just that,” Zak said.

He sighed just as he saw the doorway to the recovery room open. Through it stepped Luke Skywalker and Jacen Solo, who both smiled kindly as they crossed the room to him and the GH-7.

“It’s good to see you have woken up,” Luke said cheerfully.

Zak smiled but said nothing at first, looking over his shoulder at Rebekah. He felt an intrusion onto his thoughts and snapped his gaze back to the two Jedi.

“She’ll be fine, Zak,” Luke said. “Geesev will take good care of her. Of that you have my promise.”

“That’s not what I was worried about, Luke,” Zak admitted grimly.

“Oh?”

“She’s been alone for a long while;” he clarified, “in the wild no less, with no technology or civilisation to draw from. How she reacted to me initially, and then to the arrival of you and the girls …”

“You’re concerned about her reaction when she realises that she’s been moved away from the place she’s considered home for so long?”

Zak nodded.

Jacen’s brow creased in concentration as he considered something slightly beside his uncle, and Luke’s face took on the look of quiet contemplation as he ran through the various scenarios in his mind at the same time.

“I think I would like you here for when she wakes,” he said with a nod. Zak opened his mouth to ask when that would be but Luke answered him. “Midday hour tomorrow, can you manage that?”

“I’ll be here,” Zak promised.

“Good,” Luke said with a smile. “In that case, Jacen will escort you back to your room. You need some actual rest after these past few days. I gather that you wouldn’t have gotten much proper sleep in the jungle, what with your injuries and all. And a bacta-induced sleep followed by a recovery trance is hardly restful; restorative to a point but not enough.”

Zak nodded and followed Jacen out of the ward without another word, and a single parting glance at Rebekah’s prone form.

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