STAR WARS Episode 9, The Predator's Prism, Volume 3 of the Alternate Universe Trilogy

Epilgue: Quantum Disentanglement

Gwonameeth, Awswi, Priella, and Xan were each stationed at one of the four environmental controls for the Galactic Senate's expansive enclosure. Anticipating that Darth Umbrage's attack would actually be directed against the Senate Annex, Leia had positioned herself there.

The green-bladed lightsaber, which had been bequeathed to her by her brother, hung by its covertec clip from her utility belt. But her primary weapon was the three-section saberstaff which she had built to be the antithesis of the Sith Lord's dreaded armament. In spite of seeming to be altogether isolated, she was reassured to know that Gwonameeth was constantly monitoring the experiences of all the Jedi Masters. The moment any one of them encountered Darth Umbrage, the telepath would be aware of it and inform all the others. They would then quickly converge on that location. Awswi and Gwonameeth were nearest her position, being roughly equidistant from her. But with multitudinous legs, she had no doubt that the latter would be the first to arrive. And because of the part a member of its race had inadvertently played in the genesis of the Sith, the telepathic Jedi Master had a vested interest in eliminating the servants of the Dark Side.

The message from Master Cyrella's team was relayed to her and she steeled herself for the coming encounter. She didn't have long to wait. After altering his appearance for the purpose of gaining entry into a secured corridor, Umbrage dispensed with his disguises. He actually looked like the clone of Lamis Cormosa as he confidently entered the compartment in which the Senate Annex's environmental control equipment was kept. The ray-shielded air intake on the building's rooftop, which was located over the control room, was programmed to prevent entry by anything biological. This included everything from birds and insects to microorganisms. The control room therefore offered the only possibility for bypassing such a safeguard.

"Darth Umbrage," Leia said in a tone as cold as the void of space. "Before we begin, I'd like to ask you a question. But in order to answer it, you would have to be able to access most of the memories of Darth Sidious."

"I see that I've inspired you," he replied, gesturing at the weapon in her grasp. "Regrettably, this briefcase didn't have room for the Maelstrom. Not that I have any real need of it. But it might have been interesting to see such a pair of weapons in competition. What's your question?"

"Did you intend for Anakin to die on the Death Star?" she icily asked.

"Despite his facility with the Force, your father was a fool," Darth Umbrage spitefully replied. "He thought he could simply wish things into existence, as if saying them aloud would somehow make them real. It amused me to make him subservient to Governor Tarkin. I never planned for your father to replace me. I knew the Death Star would be destroyed, but I also knew it would be used to obliterate Alderaan beforehand; eliminating a planet that had served as a safe haven for the Rebel Alliance. But there was something obstructing my insight. And that obstruction turned out to be your brother."

"And you thought you could induct him into your service," she spitefully summarized.

"Vader was damaged goods, and he'd been planning to supplant me before he even turned into the cybernetic creature you encountered," he adamantly answered, extracting his lightsaber and circling menacingly. "He had been indoctrinated with the dogma of the Jedi for two decades before I finally manipulated him into turning. Your bother didn't suffer from such shortcomings. It wouldn't have been as problematic to reprogram him. But he idiotically idolized his mentors. And he had been taught to embrace self-sacrifice by both your father and a cretin named Kenobi."

"I didn't come here to die," she resolutely stated. "You did."

Anticipating that he would attack in response to her challenge, she deployed the Centrifuge. Its whirling radiance interrupted his approach. Its emanations flew toward him with the swiftness of a repeatedly striking snake, forcing him to retreat beyond the weapon's incinerating range. No amount of Force-induced speed on his part seemed adequate for penetrating the perimeter with which she surrounded herself. And her attacks were accomplished with such abandon that there were soon smoldering scars on all the walls from the continuous strikes that barely missed their intended target. When he did manage to get close, she'd then use her three-section staff to try and trap his weapon. He wanted to use his free hand to launch a Force-push, but he couldn't do such a thing while he was constantly being forced to reposition himself. Understanding that he'd be unable to overcome her before reinforcements arrived, he decided to adopt a different tactic. From within his vesture, a second lightsaber flew into his empty hand. He switched to Jar'Kai.

She'd been hoping that help would arrive before she found herself facing a pair of weapons. But regrettably, the encounter hadn't worked out that way. Her skills were pressed to the limit as she strove to intercept his saber strikes. She was quickly forced to go on the defensive, and that was far from the strategy she preferred. Since her lightsabers were attached to each other, they were less able to move independently; unlike those of her adversary. She was forced to use the crossbar of phrik alloy defensively, almost as if it were a third lightsaber. It was however useless for offense. She remembered being told how Darth Maul had managed to use the center section of his saberstaff to surprise Qui-Gon Jinn, but she could not maneuver into a position where she could even attempt to use her weapon that way.

After performing an aerial cartwheel to gain some range with which to launch an attack, she turned with her swinging weapon to make an exceedingly unwelcome discovery. The Predator's Prism was hovering in midair. Umbrage had freed his right hand to execute a Force-push, which intercepted Leia right in the middle of her swing. She was inelegantly thrown from her feet while the Centrifuge, which automatically deactivated, clattered noisily against the metallic floor before sliding into a far corner of the compartment.

With an expression that was more determined than desperate, she unclipped the lightsaber that Luke had given her. It was the instrument that had assisted her as a padawan learner while she was just gaining her first experiences with the Force. If she was now about to transform into it, this was the heirloom she wanted in her grasp.

"Trying to get behind me, huh?" he mockingly inquired. "I purposely turned my back on your father while I was revealing myself to him. He didn't know I was actually armed. His training kept him from stabbing me in the back. I used his education against him. Once he pledged himself to my teachings, I made a habit of keeping him far afield and thus negated his seditious ambitions. In fact, the only other time I turned my back on him was when I decided to destroy your brother. And he used the opportunity to murder me."

"You're about to find out how much like my father I really am," she replied, attacking with an unbelievably amount of resolve.

The Sith Lord had faced such fury only once before, while contending as Darth Sidious with the Vaapad of Mace Windu. He could barely believe how simple it seemed for the Grand Master to avail herself of the Dark Side. He had the immediate impression that she wasn't as unfamiliar with its enticements as her subordinates probably believed. But he had no intentions of trying to turn her. His schemes had been wrecked by the Skywalkers too many times before. Marshalling his malice, he applied it to his counterattack.

Each adversary was trying to divest the other of a lightsaber. But he had two. She only had one. Consequently, their contest was absolutely imbalanced from the beginning. She presented him with only a mercurial target as she circled and somersaulted. This kept him from being able to truly use both blades against her. She knew that she really only needed to keep him occupied until reinforcements could arrive and that they now had to be no more than scant seconds away. But her help wasn't near enough. With the speed of a firestorm on Mustafar, he outmaneuvered her incredible acrobatics and managed to pass one of his plasma blades through her right hand and the hilt it was holding. The jolt of unanticipated pain swept her from her feet and caused her to collapse on the floor before him. Like the image of death itself, the Sith Lord towered over her as he prepared to deliver the beheading blow. And she no longer had the strength to respond.

The second the Grand Master confronted Darth Umbrage, Master Gwonameeth was aware of it and transmitted that knowledge to all the other Jedi on Coruscant. Master Cyrella was quick to activate the cloaking capabilities of the confiscated lightsaber and start her search for the Sith Lord's invisible ship. But her associates could do little more than wait for her to find it.

Although she hadn't been afforded the advantage of watching Umbrage emerge from it, she believed she had a strong sense of the concealed starship's location. Despite the sprawling size of the industrial district, there was only one obvious outside area in which to land a ship. Most of the shipping and receiving was actually conducted with bays inside the buildings, and there was no way to access them in a manner that wouldn't be detected. She thought it was odd that such a predictable location would've been chosen. But without Umbrage aboard to instruct otherwise, M4 had elected to make use of the readymade parking space. Since its confines were not much larger than the dimensions of the ship, this seriously restricted the possibilities for its occupancy. In truth, Cyrella's main dilemma wasn't the locating of the ship itself. Her primary problem was in discovering the location of an airlock.

She'd seen the ship only once while glancing back over her shoulder as it was pursuing her on Brimula. The Scree had provided the Jedi with security recordings of the Nubian Nadir sitting on a landing pad on Scrymerula. But she needed to determine how the ship was oriented before she would be able to infer the location of its airlocks, and she needed to do it without alerting the mechanical crew to her presence.

She slowly circled the area where the enhanced lightsaber showed the starship to be, using its abilities to discern the shape of the concealed structure. Before being able to truly distinguish its starboard from its port side, she needed to determine the locations of its bow and stern. There was a bilateral symmetry to the Nadir that could only be overcome by correctly defining fore and aft. Once she had done that, she hoped to use an emergency airlock to enter the ship. The main airlock was more centrally located and, she believed, would therefore be easier to observe from areas adjacent to the bridge. She could not be sure if all the droids would really be in the control room.

Since the main airlock incorporated a ramp, kind of like the Millennium Falcon, a substantial amount of noise would be associated with its opening. But she was worriedly aware that the use of any of the ship's airlock would raise an alarm. Therefore, the timing had to be perfect. For this tactic to succeed, she needed to get through the airlock's interior hatch and onto the ship proper before the droids could lock it down. This was where the distraction provided by her friends' faux attack would become essential. It needed to coincide exactly with her opening of the outer hatch and give her a few precious seconds in which to hopefully breach the final baffle.

After isolating the airlock she intended to access and using the Force to determine that she would be able to activate it telekinetically, according to the tactic they had already agreed upon, she used her ongoing contact with Master Gwonameeth to inform the telepath of her readiness. The insectoid Jedi Master was at that point closing on the compartment where Leia was locked in combat with Umbrage, but the telepath nevertheless relayed Cyrella's message to the assault team. As the trio of Jedi Knights broke cover, she used the Force to open the outer airlock door.

Rampant firepower erupted from the imperiled ship, but Cyrella couldn't afford to waste any time by observing the swinging lightsabers of her associates as they deftly deflected the energy bolts of the barrage. After executing an alacritous leap into the enclosure, she used the Force to open the inner airlock door. And she'd just succeeded in reaching the corridor beyond when the aperture slammed shut behind her. The droids had locked down all possible points of entry.

No one had been certain whether one cloaking field would work inside another. She paused in front of a shiny, metallic bulkhead. But she could catch no glimpse of her reflection. While she was standing there, M4 came into the corridor. The droid had monitored the opening of the inner airlock door and come to investigate for any intruders. It bristled with particle beam emitters and brandished a pair of lightsabers as it approached the now decisively sealed aperture. As quietly as she could, Cyrella stepped to the side and allowed the robotic marauder to pass. It obviously was oblivious to her presence as it passed innocuously by

With the stealth of a Jedi, she soundlessly moved in the direction from which the droid had come. No one had been able to provide any information on the layout of the spaceship's interior. She now had to rely entirely on the Force to direct her movements. But that was her specialty.

M4 had continued moving aft, inspecting the compartments in that locale. She'd given some consideration to availing herself of the opportunity to eliminate the droid, but she wanted to keep her occupancy covert for as long as she could. From Demorin's description, she concluded that she had encountered Umbrage's primary robotic assistant. Having detected the Dark Side in the droid, she surmised that a crystal shard holocron had been integrated into its components. But since it was not an organic life form, the perception of a disturbance in the Force fortunately had not been reciprocal. After watching Fazif fall before just such an automated opponent, she found that she harbored an exceptional hatred for all such fabricated foes. But she could not let herself yield to an exclusively emotional impetus that seemed to insist that she destroy the droid without delay.

Because there were consoles down both sides of the bridge and droids seated before them, the compartment seemed narrower than it really was. Equipment had consumed much of its actually airy space. At the opposite end of the lengthy control room, occupying what would have normally been the preeminent position of the pilot, some type of apparatus had been installed. It was immediately apparent to her that she was looking at the Crystal Matrix. There was a screen situated immediately beside the frightful fixture. Even from her location, she could see that there was a galaxy displayed on its mesmerizing monitor. But it wasn't her galaxy. And due to the fact that something cataclysmic was occurring within its confines, she correctly concluded that it was instead the galaxy that had been forced onto a collision course with the one she called home.

She knew the absent droid's search of the aft section would be fruitless and it consequently would be headed back to the bridge in short order. She needed to move swiftly if she didn't want her back turned toward the direction of its return when she dispensed with her cloak. And due to the way the droids on the bridge were seated, their necks would be within reach of her extended lightsabers as she swept between them. She estimated that she would have just enough time to reach the Crystal Matrix before the other droid returned. But she would not prevent the returning droid from attacking by simply destroying the dreadful instrumentality into which the One Crystal had been converted. She'd have to eliminate the remaining robot before she could complete her mission.

Deactivating her cloak, she immediately ignited the plasma blades of both lightsabers. With a burst of Force-induced speed, she swept from the backside of the bridge to the area in its bow where the Crystal Matrix sat. The heads of all the decapitated droids clattered noisily to the deck plate behind her as she went. She spun around just in time to intercept the first volley from M4's laser cannons. The deflected laser fire ricocheted into the consoles the operators of which she'd just beheaded. This exchange continued until she was final able to deflect enough of the deadly bolts back at their originator to render it inoperative. With sparks shooting from its compromised circuitry, the smoldering droid ultimately collapsed to the metal floor. Its service to the Dark Side had come to a catastrophic conclusion. Swallowing hard, Cyrella fought off a feeling of vengeful vindication as she observed the smoking remains of her automated enemy.

With deliberation that matched the enormity of the moment, she slowly spun to confront the source of the Shroud of the Dark Side. Its continuously changing, mercurial colors made its light as protean as that of a prism. It actually looked like a device that might have a facility for defying time. In fact, the evidence of its temporal reach was still displayed there on the screen beside it, which apparently functioned independently of the electronics that had been wrecked in the prior conflict. The image of the approaching galaxy was still showing on its screen, like the specter of some impending doom that refused to be dismissed. She was still looking at it when, after a few moments of regarding how the Golden Gallantry had arrived at its ultimate objective, she raised the storied lightsaber over her head and executed a decisive strike against the thing for which it had been engineered to be the antidote.

In the last second, just as the Crystal Matrix was cataclysmically unmade and the synthetic crystal in the Gallantry disintegrated, the image on the monitor underwent a transformation. She could barely believe the implication, but the fate of the Jedi Order was still in question.

Leaping from the smoke-filled confines of the now crewless Nadir, it seemed to them almost as if she had actually been ejected from the airlock by explosive decompression as she urgently rushed to rejoin the trio of Jedi Knights who were waiting to receive her. Because she was still in telepathic contact with Master Gwonameeth, she knew that their situation was far from resolved.

Leia didn't know Lamis had managed to repair the transponder equipment after relocating it from the Kaminoan moon to the Unknown Regions. But she'd determined that Umbrage had the memories of at least some of his predecessors. She wanted to use her remaining hand to direct a Force-push at her looming enemy. But her nervous system was still stunned, and she couldn't marshal the strength to do it. However, since Umbrage somehow possessed memories from his previous manifestations, she could still attempt to employ one possible source of distraction.

"Did you actually love Soma, or did she throw away her life and that of her unborn child with you for nothing?" she unevenly rasped through clenched teeth in an accusatory tone.

He was about to bring the Predator's Prism down upon her neck and end her life, but Darth Umbrage paused. It was only momentary, but it was enough. Jedi Master Gwonameeth abruptly burst through compartment's main entryway, hurling a Force-push right over the Grand Master's kneeling form while scampering across the adjacent wall. Umbrage managed to stay on his feet, which didn't seem to Leia as if it should have been possible. But he was knocked out of position, and she managed to roll out of his murderous reach. By the time he could respond to the attack, he discovered that the telepathic Jedi Master had acquired the Centrifuge. Brandishing a pair of lightsabers, the multitudinous legs of Master Gwonameeth demonstrated an impressive capacity for wielding all three weapons at once. To Leia, the Sith Lord suddenly looked uncertain.

But Umbrage was the ultimate manifestation of the Dark Side, a total titan. His predecessor had slain half a dozen Jedi Masters, even eliminating them two at a time. There was no way his confidence could actually be shaken by a solitary challenger, no matter how many appendages it possessed. With a pair of lightsabers in his superhuman grasp, he would've brazenly taken on the entire Jedi Order. And as Gwonameeth engaged him, he prodigiously rose to the occasion.

As Leia desperately scrambled to get out of the way, Awswi suddenly arrived and pulled her completely out of the compartment. From her vantage point before its open entryway, she could tell how badly Awswi wanted to race to the aid of the embattled Jedi Master. But the continuous combat was so dynamic that any approach was rendered completely impossible. All they could do was watch. And she wondered if this was how Master Kenobi had felt during the duel he was forced to observe between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn.

The way in which Darth Umbrage was managing to deflect attacks from four directions with nothing more than a pair of lightsabers appeared impossible. Yet, that is precisely what the Sith Lord was somehow doing. The six bright blades of the duelists were swinging with such rapidity that it was difficult to even keep track of their swiftly fluctuating locations. And the flashes, which resulted from the alacritous collisions, were almost enough to blind the bystanders.

The observers were relieved to realize that Umbrage, in order to contend with the whirlwind of weapons being brought to bear by his adversary, had been forced to go on the defensive. But they also knew that the telepath's primary advantage had been nullified by the Predator's Prism. Gwonameeth could not predict the Dark Lord's movements while the crystal shard was masking his thoughts. The Jedi Master was therefore being forced to rely on skill in place of prescience.

Between Gwonameeth scurrying across walls, even the ceiling, while attacking and the Sith Lord somersaulting and bouncing off bulkheads in order to evade, any other observers would've probably succumbed to vertigo. Gravity seemed meaningless to the two competitors. Attempting to make the impacts more concussive, and potentially gain an advantage thereby, Gwonameeth began bringing the Centrifuge around its body, but even this didn't produce the intended result.

Since Umbrage's hands were full and he didn't remain in one place more than momentarily, it wasn't possible for either opponent to use a Force-push against the other. Even the observers could find no opportunity to intercede in this way. Despite her injury, the Grand Master had been able to levitate Darth Umbrage's abandoned briefcase out of the compartment as she was being extracted by Awswi. But they both knew that any attempt to destroy its infectious contents might release them instead. And it would probably be an absurdly simple matter for Darth Umbrage to reacquire the briefcase if he actually managed to defeat Master Gwonameeth.

As the seconds marched mercilessly by and Gwonameeth continued to gain no advantage, the other two Jedi Masters joined Leia and Awswi outside the compartment. But even they could find no opportunity for entry. It began to look as if Darth Umbrage might ultimately outmaneuver his multilegged enemy. The Sith Lord's energy simply seemed inexhaustible. But the Predator's Prism abruptly changed color. It had been purple; the compilation of its red and blue options, but it suddenly reverted to aboriginal red. And Darth Umbrage seemed both stunned and distressed by this development, as if it was something as unwelcome as it was completely unexpected.

The tide immediately started to turn. And it was obvious to the observers that the telepathic Jedi Master was now able to anticipate Umbrage's every movement. His increased midi-chlorian count still made the Sith Lord an improbably powerful opponent, but he had met his match in the multiple weapons and telepathic competence of Gwonameeth. His defensive strategies were all revealed and he found himself impossibly outmaneuvered at every junction. Gwonameeth finally succeeded in trapping Umbrage's other lightsaber, which was one he'd acquired as Lamis while exploring the same Sith vessel where he also found the three-section staff. He was forced to let go of the lightsaber or lose the associated hand, and being dispossessed of one of his weapons made him critically susceptible to the Jedi Master's subsequent assault.

Umbrage could no longer block all the blades that his relentless adversary continued to aim at him. While whirling away each time the Jedi Master approached, he repeatedly attempted the use of a Force-push against Gwonameeth. But the telepath easily foresaw each effort and either dodged it or blocked it with a Force-push from one of its numerous appendages. Darth Umbrage ultimately was unable to escape. Finally forced to block one of the two blades of the Centrifuge, Master Gwonameeth's lightsabers circumvented his defenses. One plasma blade sliced directly through the Sith Lord's neck, separating his head from his shoulders. The other passed through his torso, cutting his beheaded body in half. Leia was reminded of tales she had heard about the falls of both Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus, although neither of which were actually antecedents to the clone that'd just been killed. The Jedi Order had succeeded in eliminating another upstart emperor.

Even unoccupied, the Sith Lord’s vessel still contained teleportation technology and cloning equipment. Jedi Master Cyrella and her team consequently waited for Commissioner Eisley and his security forces to take possession of the Nubian Nadir before they raced back to the Senate Complex. Although it consumed only a matter of minutes, the ordeal was more nerve-racking for them than when they were waiting for the spaceship’s arrival. With the Crystal Matrix destroyed, its cloak was gone. But that only made it entirely visible to any potential scavengers. They were therefore obligated to wait until Eisley had secured it before they could responsibly abandon it.

By the time they arrived, the confrontation had concluded and Leia had already been taken to the Senate Complex’s impressive infirmary. Had the medical facility been more modest, there is no way everyone in attendance would’ve been able to squeeze inside the spacious treatment room. A small army of medical droids were industriously engaged in the business of substituting cybernetics for the Grand Master’s amputation. In order to assure optimum functionality, the rest of the severed hand had been removed. The entire appendage was being replaced.

“Don’t you think it’s rather weird that you were wounded in precisely the same way that both your father and brother were?” Zayana couldn’t keep herself from asking.

“I could argue that it’s probably the most common form of such an injury, but I think we both know there’s more to it than that,” the Grand Master rejoined. “And the parallel ends there. Each of those men went on to make the ultimate sacrifice. I can’t allow that to be required of me. I am therefore abdicating from my position as Grand Master and leaving the Jedi Order. As I am sure you’ve all ascertained. Lucas represents a vergence in the Force. My father was the first and he was mishandled. And none of us, myself included, succeeded in rising to the occasion when we ultimately came to understand that such a vergence had formed between Cyrella and Fazif. It is possible that Fazif would never have fallen if we hadn’t been so negligent. No such shortcoming can be allowed again. I can therefore no longer obligate myself with any responsibility that might keep me from my son. We need to find out what happens if we do this right for once.”

“But where does that leave the rest of us?” Awswi asked, expressing the sentiment that was shared by all the other Jedi in the room.

“It’s been more than a millennium since a Grand Master was chosen while their antecedent was yet alive,” Leia replied. “We consequently have no contemporary tradition. I’ll make one last motion before the Jedi council, nominating the person I’d like you to elect. But we’ll need to wait until Xan and Priella can participate. As you know, because they lacked resources with which to build lightsabers on the world where they trained, the Jungle Jedi received their lightsabers from me. They were the ones lost by General Grievous on Utapau. Ultimately, all four of these friends came to consider their lack of expertise in this area as a severe inadequacy. The construction of one’s lightsaber is a necessary step to Knighthood. They therefore chose to compensate for this shortcoming by becoming consummate experts on the subject of lightsaber construction. Priella and Xan are meticulously examining the shards of my damaged lightsaber to determine if it can possibly be repaired.”

“Will you nominate Master Gwonameeth?” Cyrella abruptly asked while wrenching her eyes away from the monitor in the corner where the security recording of Darth Umbrage’s fall was being repeatedly played. “Could there really be a more compelling qualification than having defeated a Sith Lord?”

Leia had already spoken to the Jedi Master about her belief that Cyrella would succeed her as the new head of the Jedi Order. But Cyrella was not asking Leia what she would do. She was asking her to nominate somebody else. The fact that the young woman still questioned whether she was actually worthy of the responsibility only provided Leia with additional evidence that she was indeed making the correct decision.

“You and I have already talked about this, but maybe I should assure you that Gwonameeth would reject the nomination,” Leia sympathetically responded. “Through telepathy, I’ve been told that it was one of Gwonameeth’s people who inadvertently enabled the rise of the first Sith Lord. The circle is now complete. Darth Skria was the first. Darth Umbrage was the last. If it had been necessary to replace me before the last Sith Lord fell, then perhaps the Jedi Council could have imposed upon its telepath to accept the promotion. But that is very happily not the case.”

“And telepathy will not help us save the galaxy from its present predicament,” Awswi added. “But the benefit of a vergence might help our new Grand Master to do just that.”

“The disaster has already been averted,” Cyrella softly said.

“What?” Leia breathlessly blurted. “How can that be?”

“As the Crystal Matrix was failing, I happened to be looking directly at the monitor where the approaching galaxy was displayed,” Cyrella answered. “It suddenly reverted back to its previous trajectory and appearance. It was as if the collision course was actually some kind of illusion.”

Turning to Leia, Han suddenly entered the conversation by asking, “Is that really possible?”

“Darth Umbrage told the Scree he sent that probe tens of thousands of years into the future and tens of thousands of light years out into intergalactic space,” Leia mused aloud. “The extent to which the continuum was possibly compromised by such a breech cannot be quantified.”

As Han continued to look confused, Awswi asked, “You’ve heard of quantum entanglement, haven’t you? Perhaps you’ve heard it referred to as spooky action over a distance. The idea can be expressed by suggesting that a mynock flapping its wings on Coruscant can cause increased volcanic eruptions on Mustafar. It comes down to this: everything in the universe is connected to everything else in ways that transcend our understanding of dimensions. You’ve heard us stress the importance of not testing the limits of the Force. The situation from which we’ve miraculously just emerged was an extreme example of the danger it can cause. By using the Crystal Matrix to transmit matter through time, though he apparently never understood it, Darth Umbrage actually caused the collision course. And by destroying it, Master Cyrella incidentally saved the galaxy.”

Masters Xan and Priella entered the room while Cyrella was reporting what she’d witnessed on the Nadir. Leia elected not to waste the opportunity. Since all six Jedi Masters were suddenly present, she brought a motion to nominate Cyrella Lasari to replace her in the capacity of Grand Master. The motion carried unanimously among the voting members, and Cyrella accepted their decision. Leia then asked if everyone would kindly leave the room for awhile so she could speak to Cyrella privately. They understandingly consented to the request.

“I know you’ve studied the subject and have gained some insights regarding remorse,” Leia began once they were alone. “But I’ve encountered something I thought I should share with you. Perhaps upon further reflection you will be able to counsel me in much the same manner as you did Julither. I have come to the conclusion that our greatest regret sometimes is not an effect of something that we’ve done or even allowed to happen. Sometimes it comes from knowing what we would’ve done in a specific situation if only it had developed differently.”

“You’re speaking about the risk you took with Eisley,” Cyrella correctly concluded.

“Yes,” Leia ruefully agreed. “And my remorse is made manifold because I also regret what I would’ve required Gwonameeth to do. Perhaps it relates to the paradox that even the Jedi have never succeeded in solving, the one that’s probably the swiftest possible path to the Dark Side.”

“What is that, Grand Master?” Cyrella carefully inquired.

“It’s just Leia now. You’re the Grand Master,” she smilingly responded. “I’m referring to that paradoxical situation where it seems that in order to do the right thing, you have to do the wrong thing.”

“I will certainly give this matter serious consideration,” Cyrella sympathetically replied.

“I have failed you,” Leia struggled to maintain her composure as she admitted. “I was aware that a vergence had formed between you and Fazif, but I let myself get distracted by the shifting morass of our circumstances at the time. Fazif paid the ultimate price for my failure as a mentor. Your resilience allowed you to surmount his loss, but you are owed an apology. I am truly sorry.”

“I don’t know if forgiveness is actually necessary,” Cyrella softly said. “If you believe it really is, then you can be certain you have mine. But there’s no way to know what would’ve happened if any of our actions been done differently. All we can say for certain is that the path upon which they placed us ultimately led to the elimination of the last Sith Lord. The Shroud of the Dark Side has finally lifted, never to return. The midi-chlorians, which were incarcerated in the One Crystal, have finally been freed. The Force has been brought back into balance. If we’re left thinking that missteps made all of this possible, then perhaps our definition of the idea is in error.”

“Your kindness is as extraordinary as your wisdom,” Leia replied with obvious relief, bowing her head. Her supine position made any other gesture impossible. “Would you please send Xan and Priella in on your way out? I am very curious to find out if they believe my lightsaber can be repaired.”

From the way Cyrella unexpectedly paused, Leia discerned that the new Grand Master was acting in accordance with the will of the Force. The younger woman abruptly extracted the hilt of the Gallantry from within her tunic. Since it no longer functioned, she hadn’t clipped it to her belt.

“The Guarantor only destroyed a shard of the One Crystal when Fazif used it against Lamis’ lightsaber,” she explained. “But the Gallantry’s crystal achieved its ultimate purpose, annihilating itself as it destroyed the Crystal Matrix. Maybe Lucas can use this hilt to build his lightsaber.”

“Thank you,” Leia said as she accepted the artifact.

As Cyrella respectfully took her leave, she was replaced by Xan and Priella. The expression shared by the Jungle Jedi seemed odd to Leia. Both Jedi Masters looked like they were about to burst. Priella spoke first.

"We have some good news and some bad news," she cryptically announced. "Which would you prefer to hear first?"

"Let's begin with the bad news," Leia decisively said. Since the last servant of the Dark Side had been destroyed and even the galaxy was surprisingly no longer in danger, it hardly seemed as if the bad news could really be that catastrophic.

"Your lightsaber was very badly damaged," Xan took the opportunity to reply, having clearly drawn the lot for delivering the disappointing report. "The plasma blade passed though its circuit boards and caused a cascade overload. Most of the components shorted out, ruining the pair of regulators. The crystal is in pieces, although it would actually be the easiest part to replace. I am afraid that nothing short of a complete rebuild will restore your lightsaber to service. Perhaps we should consider just fusing the sections of the hilt back together, so it can be displayed, and you should construct a replacement. I'm not certain if it can really be rendered battle-worthy again."

"At the very least, it should be displayed," Leia unevenly answered, trying hard not to sound as crestfallen as she felt. "As you know, it was given to me by my brother. How do you have any good news with which to follow so disturbing a summation?"

"As we were meticulously examining the microprocessors, we made an exciting discovery," Priella animatedly replied. "There was epithelial tissue left by the builder. This isn't so surprising when you consider that one of your brother's hands was artificial. The finite movements that are required to build a lightsaber don't lend themselves well to such an application. He consequently skinned himself in the process of putting it together."

"I'm not following you," Leia honestly admitted. "How does this constitute good news?"

"We have access to the cloning equipment on the Nubian Nadir. We can bring your brother back," Xan succinctly summarized.

When Leia looked too flabbergasted to respond, Priella added, "Of course, it wouldn't really be your brother. Since there would be no transfer of experience, the clone wouldn't have Luke's memories. But it would possess his pleasant disposition and his facility with the Force. This time around, he could begin his training as a youngling; maybe even right beside his cousin. It's up to you."
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