Kurie dug through her small cabinet in her quarters at the Academy, searching through her belongings. Mostly they were little things she had found during her childhood on Munto Codru, little pieces from the woodlands and objects people had lost. But there was one treasure that the fourteen-year-old long ago had found. Once, when exploring one of the old, abandoned castles of Munto Codru, Kurie had stumbled upon a dark and secret corridor. Drawing on her inner powers that she hadn’t understood at the time, Kurie fearlessly entered and explored the dark chamber. Reaching into a small crevice, she triumphantly procured a small, dark green crystal.
She similarly found it in her closet, securely tucked away in a small skin pouch. She gently placed it among the wire and metal of the body of her lightsaber. She snapped the casing together at last, after days of hard work. Holding her new treasure above her head and laughing joyfully, she ignited the sword. A blazing, pine-green blade emerged and the smell of ozone filled the room. Extinguishing it, she rushed outside to practice until her friends emerged from their quarters.
Leara’s parents had given her one gift before she had left Tatooine for her Jedi training, so long ago. It was a crystal, called a dune gem. It looked like a jewel-shaped flask filled with sand. The sand, the heat of the dunes would always be a part of her. Memories of home flooded her thoughts. She pushed them aside. Now, these memories would also be part of her lightsaber.
Leara had always lacked the self-confidence it took to become a full-fledged Jedi Knight. This was partly because of her diminutive stature. When her confidence flagged, Master Skywalker often comforted her with tales of Master Yoda, his tiny mentor. “Size matters not,” he told her wisely. Easy for you to say, she thought. But if she could successfully make this lightsaber...she may have the confidence she needed.
She finished the weapons construction and held it before her. Pressing the power stud, she watched as it ignited into a beautiful, bronze blade. She smiled with satisfaction. Even though she was more at home using a computer than at mechanics, she had been successful anyway. She had made her own lightsaber.
Everything was finished. Jayk had constructed everything for his lightsaber. It was nearly complete. But it lacked its core. It needed a crystal. Jayk knew where he had one. But it would mean coming to terms with a longtime pain. And he didn’t know if he could do it.
Jayk narrowed his emerald eyes. This was an odd expression for the passive Bothan, one he rarely used. He must face his past. Master Zekk had told him this. Master Skywalker had told him this. And even his best friends reminded him this, all to often. Jayk knew what he had to do.
The sixteen-year-old Bothan unlocked a secret drawer with the Force. He retrieved from it a small, somewhat outdated laptop computer console. Leara knew much more about computers than he did. He should have asked her to come help him. Well, too late for that. She was probably busy on her own lightsaber.
Taking off the holographic projector, he was pleased to find the focusing crystal right away. It was clear with a fiery sphere of blue in the center. It looked to Jayk like a cold fire was contained within the gem. It was initially used to project the computer images holographically. However, from now on it would be used for his lightsaber.
Finishing the construction, Jayk picked up the hilt. He hesitated before turning it on. A lightsaber becomes an extension of the Jedi. Master Skywalker’s words echoed in his mind. Then, if that were true, he had made that renegade Imperial, the murderer of his parents, a part of himself. If he activated the lightsaber, his past and present would be fused together, never again to be separated.
But it had to be done. Otherwise, he would never be able to go on bearing the weight of the memory.
Gritting his teeth, Jayk ignited the lightsaber. An azure blade extended from the hilt, the color of the most beautiful of skies. Jayk sighed, and his fur rippled with relief. He had done it.
He was going to be all right.
They had completed their training. The three had been given their first mission as Jedi Knights.
Now, with personally constructed lightsabers and a ship belonging to Leara, they were on their way to Telti, where they hoped to complete their first mission. Leara’s ship, the Krayt Rider, was the reptilian green of the krayt dragons on Tatooine, from which it received its name. It was a gift from her parents when she had turned fourteen. Jayk eagerly agreed to be her copilot. Kurie brought Tasio along, but decided he should remain on the ship.
Zekk had asked them to check out what was going on at Telti. The planet, used for constructing droids, had not been in contact with the New Republic since Brakiss left there. The Masters had reason to believe that there may be a remaining dark apprentice stationed there. They were trusting Leara, Jayk, and Kurie to investigate.
“Here we come,” Leara announced, and the ship reverted to sublight speed.
A tidal wave of darkness washed down on the Jedi Knights as Telti came into view.
Niko’s eyes narrowed. Someone was here. Well, all the better. He had been getting bored. Ordering his favorite droid, R7-F7, to keep watch in the office, Nik headed for the docking bay.
He nearly slammed headlong into three teenagers, all wielding lightsabers. The thirteen-year-old sneered. This should be fun. Tightening his ponytail of shoulder-length hair, he ignited his yellow blade. “Welcome to Telti, Jedi scum,” Nik snarled.
“Who is in charge here?” the eldest and only male asked calmly.
“I am!” Nik cried. “I am the Darkest Knight!”
The three looked at each other uneasily. So young...how could he be so corrupted? They couldn’t hurt him. The Jedi Code wouldn’t allow it. They’d have to try something else. Leara nodded almost imperceptibly and slipped away. Nik didn’t notice as he lunged furiously at Kurie. Jayk guarded her.
Leara looked up. A droid lubricating fluid was stored in a steel barrel almost directly above and behind the black-haired boy. If she could get it to dump on his head...then, he would be distracted and they could load him onto the ship in stuncuffs. The fluid was harmless unless ingested, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Concentrating, Leara flung her lightsaber into the air. Guiding it with the Force, she cut the barrel clean in half and sent lubricating fluid cascading down on his head and shoulders. The dark-haired boy fell to his knees as Leara’s lightsaber swiftly returned to her hand.
Except that...he wasn’t just dark-haired anymore. The three Jedi Knights watched in astonishment as the once purely raven-black hair faded to black with silver stripes. The boy choked and looked at his reflection in the steel plating of the floor. His hair...but how? Dathomir dying mud, he thought. It doesn’t wash out with water. He pounded his fists on the plating. Another lie! No one on Dathomir had hair like that. And, watching his reflection he noticed something about himself that he never had. In response to the foreign chemical rushing down his face, a nictitating membrane was extending over his eyes.
He was not a human from Dathomir. He was a Firrerreo. Jayk and Leara were startled to turn and find Kurie, kneeling on the floor in front of the dark boy, weeping.