On a planet where the Trailing Sectors overlapped with the Expansion Region, the Grandmaster of the Order lurked through the ghettos of a city with his hood raised.

Yoda was a very distinct creature, which was not always a good thing for him. It was true that many average citizens of the galaxy wouldn't recognize him, but any that had done more than a surface-level study of the Jedi Order would quickly discover one holorecording or another including him in it.

On remote planets, none would recognize him. But Maehli was not remote. It was not Coruscant, but it was still not a place one would hide long on if they were known to the galaxy at large. And more than that, he would rather not impose on those he was already coming to intrude upon.

"We can do this one of two ways, herb-snorter."

Yoda stopped with a frown as he looked down an alley. There were two humans, a male and a female, accosting a H'drachi, a humanoid that closely resembled a camel in terms of the face.

"You can either give us the shipment or we send you back to your boss with a few things missing," the female warned, hand on her blaster.

The H'drachi was utterly without fear as she addressed them. "I tell you still, you have mistaken me for another."

"Are you saying we can't tell you lot apart?" the male asked with a smirk. "Cause you're right, I can't. Still don't believe you. Why else would you be waiting in an alley like this? Or do you have some...other business?"

"Don't tell me you're one of those freaks that pays them for a night," the female criminal asked in mild disgust.

"I have never been that drunk. Not yet at least," the man assured. "So, what is it, Cow? You a herb-dealer or a whore-hump?"

Yoda was normally one to give people warnings, to leave a situation before he resorted to forcing them to leave. But every now and again, he felt it appropriate to skip to business.

With a casual flick of his hand, both of the criminals found their heads slammed into each other. Not hard enough to cause damage, but enough to make it easier for him to use the Force to put them into an instant state of sleep as they collapsed to the ground.

"Hurt you, they did not?" Yoda asked up to the H'drachi, pulling down his hood.

She reeled back at the sight of him. "Grandmaster Yoda. I knew a Jedi would come, but we could not foresee you would come in person."

"Expected, I am? Here for me, you are?" Yoda guessed curiously.

"And why you have come," she confirmed. "Please, come with me, the Seers are expecting you."

Yoda nodded as she turned back to the end of the alley, walking up to the wall and let out a soft, groaning sound. It was a noise they naturally made and was hard for other races to imitate, harder still to convey what different versions of the sound meant…a perfect codeword in a way.

The wall slid open to reveal a passage that led underground. Four more H'drachi exited, moving to remove the two humans from the area while unconscious. Yoda wordlessly followed his guide down below.

The H'drachi were native to M'haeli but had been pushed into ghettos and second-class citizenship by human colonizers over ten thousand years ago. In some ways an oversight of the Republic, but the H'drachi themselves did nothing to advocate against the injustice. Not that they couldn't, but they simply didn't, nothing obvious at least. Their way was to plan in the long term.

Not only were the H'drachi a race that possessed a natural talent for precognition, but it was basically unheard of for a H'drachi to be born without being strong in the Force.

Yoda reached the bottom of the stairs, the tapping of his walking sticking echoing in the halls of stone and metal, as he came down into a large room, filled with a scented smoke floating high in the air, and comfortable sitting pillows placed all around the room. One might think this was some kind of secret room for recreational drugs and sexual parties.

But Yoda knew these were not hedonists seated around the room. These H'drachi sat with a regal look about them, turbans neatly upon their heads and tunics of bright colors adorning their bodies.

"Welcome, Grandmaster Yoda," one at the head addressed casually.

"Thank you, Honorable Hezzir of the Seer Court," Yoda addressed with a dip of his head. "Sit, may I?"

"Of course. We were waiting for you to arrive," another said in amusement.

"Forgive Seer Ch'kin, he is still halfway in a vision," the Hezzir said politely. "I am Anit, the current Hezzir of the Seers. I am pleased to hear some outsiders still know the title. I thank you for protecting Dalmi."

The Hezzir nodded to the female, who came to sit by him. Yoda tilted his head, sensing a connection between the two. "Your child, I believe?"

"Sister," Dalmi answered herself. "But my brother raised me and has groomed me to be the next Hezzir. I can see why our bond might be misinterpreted."

Yoda nodded absently. "Why I am here, know you do."

"Mostly," Anit agreed. "Our vigil over the time stream is not perfect. The more of us that try to peer into together, the clearer it becomes. But even the full wisdom of this court thrice over cannot hope to peer through the Shattered-Ripples."

"Shattered-Ripples?" Yoda questioned, looking around as the cameloids grew solemn.

"The future is always shifting and changing, Grandmaster," Anit reminded sagely. "I'm sure you know this well, how fast things can shift between impossibility and inevitability."

Yoda nodded in agreement. "Always in motion, things are. A vision does not come to pass, make it false, it does not. Changed, the future can be."

"Yes, changed. Shifted," Anit said with a troubled look. "The future was not changed. It was shattered."

"Understand, I do not. Different, how this is?" Yoda asked with a furrow on his ancient brow.

"It has never happened before," Dalmi answered. "One day, everything changed. Everything, big and small, nothing in the future remained the same. It was like the future we saw was broken rather than altered."

"Ever since, our power to view the future has been dampened," Anit continued. "Partially because it is shifting so much now, rippling so much. But more than that? We still see pieces of the old future, like broken shards in a mirror. They obscure and distract us. The further down the timestream we peer, the harder it is to stay focused."

"What caused this, do you know?" Yoda inquired.

"You already know the answer to that," Anit said with a dry tone.

Yoda hummed deeply. "Darth Vader."

"We have seen him before, in the Shattered-Ripples, of the future that is lost," Anit said with a grim look. "He is early. How or why, we do not know."

"Early? Yoda repeated, turning thoughtful.

"That future was dark and clouded, filled with suffering and sorrow," Dalmi said, touching a hand to her torso. "It is both a relief to be rid of it and vexing for how it now hampers us."

"This darkness, this suffering? The cause, you might know? Vader himself?" Yoda asked.

"This we do know. Vader would have been an instrument but not a source of suffering, "Anit said with a frown. "For at the center of the Ripples, we see the point where all the cracks unite. It is like a cyclone, spinning in the stream, showing us what has happened and what would have happened."

Yoda leaned forward in anticipation.

"In the center, we see a Senator named Chancellor. A Chancellor named Emperor. And Emperor with the name of a Sith," Anit explained.

"...Darth Sidious, " Yoda deduced with a frown. "Survive...succeeded, he would have."

Anit nodded. "Vader shattered that future. Why it happened, I am resigned to never knowing."

Yoda frowned. "A tale, I have heard."

"We know," Dalmi acknowledged. "You believe that time itself is somehow at play in recent events."

Yoda nodded. "In reverse, a moon's destruction seemed. One becomes many, to become united back into one. And speak of time being shattered, you do."

Anit hummed, looking around at his fellow seers. "We did not just gather to meet and speak with you, Master Yoda," Anit admitted. "We came to look for your answer if one is within our sights."

"Tried to before, you have not?" Yoda asked curiously.

"Yes, but it has been an age since we tried with a Jedi Master present," another seer remarked. "We may not be of your order, but Jedi Masters tend to help...smooth out the ripples of even normal sessions when peering into the time-stream. And we need all the help we can get."

Yoda nodded in understanding. "What must I do?"

"Nothing," Dalmi assured. "Just sit there, Master Yoda, and try to meditate."

"Try?" Yoda questioned, confused but amused.

A seer chuckled as he began to smoke some herbs. "We foresaw you do not have a fondness for our herbs, but they are helpful to our process."

Yoda wrinkled his nose at the pungent smell and understood their meaning. "Very well. Ready, I will be."

Meanwhile

Danoor. It was a planet almost no one knew about. It was no secret; it was just at the edge of the galaxy, where a hyperlane let into the Kathol Rift. A place that was dangerous to travel, much like the Unknown Region. To venture in was to risk being lost to the volatile nature of a place that was the birthplace of many young stars, and where hallucinations were common even among those strong in the Force…or especially those strong in the force.

The only time someone might know about the planet Danoor was if they knew about the Kathol Rift to begin with, for Danoor sat right on the edge, being the final stop before a ship risked the dangers of the Rift. It was a place where many scientists and colonizers had gathered, to have a quiet life while researching the mystery of the rift. The planet was entirely self-governed by a very loose government, with a population that barely peaked at over two million.

But Vader was not here for Danoor's cause or people. He was here as a mutual meeting place, or so was the plan. "Are you sure this one will come?" Vader questioned as he and Plagueis stood on the edge of a cliff, seeing one of the larger cities off in the distance. Near them was a small river that went over the sheer drop, landing into a pond many hundreds of feet down.

"This isn't going to be an assassination attempt on us if that is what you meant," Plagueis waved off, standing with his hands crossed behind his back. "If you mean on time? I'd be disappointed if someone who can peer through time was unable to arrive on schedule."

Vader would have responded, but he and Plagueis both instantly turned with their lightsabers ignited, aimed at the neck of the being that, to Vader's senses, instantly appeared behind them.

The creature was not human, or even humanoid. It did stand on two legs, had two arms, and two eyes. It might even have been a mammal. But that ended the list of any potential similarities.

A fairly long tail emerged from the backside, just above a pair of feet that each had two large claws. They appeared to be digitigrade instead of plantigrade, judging by the secondary "backward knees" feature their limbs seemed to possess. The body was slender and cylinder-shaped, with two spindly arms emerging from the torso, each with three digits. There were no prominent shoulders, giving the creature an almost reptilian look, the small head with large eyes jutting outwards more than upwards. Every inch was covered in white bony plates that were painted in unknown symbols. From its mouth were six long, thin green tongues.

The creature was holding a staff it used as a walking stick, something made of wood but with some kind of wires at the top

"Rona'Ba," Plagueis greeted with a frown as he deactivated his lightsaber. "You should be wary of attempting to surprise two Sith Lords."

The tongues moved about in a strange, meaningful way. The creature, Rona'Ba, held up a small device in the other hand. It was a small machine, a cylinder that might have been mistaken for some type of explosive. Rona'Ba brought the machine up, raising it to the mouth and the tongues all began to sink into the device.

Some static emerged before a masculine voice emerged. "Greetings, Darth Plagueis, Darth Vader. I am Rona'Ba of the Aing-Tii," he greeted politely.

Vader studied the creature before deactivating his own saber. "Your kind are secretive, reclusive, and xenophobic. Why would you wish to speak with us?"

"Not both. Just you, Darth Vader," Rona'Ba answered, looking the masked Sith up and down with great interest. "We have seen much of you, Flowbreaker. When you were, when you are, but when you will be? The ripples blur, and it has become difficult to remain grounded in the present when the future now echoes into the past."

Vader studied the Aing-Tii carefully. "What do you know? Of how I came to be here, and what is happening now?"

Rona'Ba did something with his tongues that the translator couldn't properly interpret. "Apologizes. I believe you speakers would have hummed just now," Rona'Ba explained as he approached the edge of the cliff. But he did not stare at the river. "To my understanding, the Jedi believe that destiny is dictated by the Will of the Force, and the Sith believe in using the Force to take control of destiny."

"An adequate simplification," Plagueis remarked, eyeing Rona'Ba with keen eyes. "Your kind don't believe that though? I know you don't believe in the Dark or the Light side of the Force."

"The Veil has many aspects. Colors, shades. We care more for the hue of a power than for the luminosity," Rona'Ba remarked, looking to Plagueis. "Red is hardly your shade, Resurrector."

Plagueis smiled in amusement.

"We believe all is guided by the Force, and Those Who Dwell Beyond The Veil. Nothing is predetermined. There is intent, a desire, a plan that might be called destiny. But it is not the shackle of a Slaver," Rona'Ba said, tail snapping suddenly in rage.

Vader watched the outburst with renewed interest.

Rona'Ba turned to him suddenly. "This was not planned, this was not guided. But even now, the Force adapts. You fear that time and the Force are adversely affected by your presence, and those with you. But Time is just another aspect of the Force. And neither Time nor the Force is so fragile as to be undone by this."

"You sound so certain," Plagueis remarked with a suspicious look. "Has your kind seen this before?"

"Never," Rona'Ba answered without hesitation. "Our Flowwalking, our ability to see into the past and future? It is like throwing pebbles in a river. It influences, but it does not change much in the grand scheme."

"I believe I am more of a boulder than a pebble in this analog," Vader said bluntly.

"Yes, but a boulder of ice," Rona'Ba corrected meaningfully.

"..." Both Sith shared a look. There was an implication there.

"Allow me to explain, with a vision," Rona'Ba explained, holding up both his arms as his eyes glowed purple.

Vader and Plagueis felt the illusion coming over them. A purely visionary one, with no attempt to even hide that it wasn't real.

They were in the same location, on the cliff overlooking the city, but the landscape was now covered in snow and ice, the river frozen solid.

"Interesting. I assume we're in the future?" Plagueis asked.

"Indeed," Rona'Ba answered, pointing to the nearby river. "Watch carefully."

Both Sith did so, wondering just what they were meant to see. Without warning or cause, the ice suddenly began to crack and shatter…the ice and the water below rose, converging into the air as a large single ball of ice, compressed and refrozen into a single, uneven object.

Then, the large ball of ice was floated upstream a good distance.

Then, suddenly, the illusion was gone. They were back in the present, where it was summertime.

But the ball of ice still remained.

Vader and Plagueis felt shock shift over them as the ball of ice fell into the river

"That is what your kind considers a minor power over time?" Plagueis asked skeptically.

Rona'Ba leaned on his staff heavily. "It has no impact. The ice is the same water that will flow back down eventually. It will have no lasting difference on the planet. Only for the water trapped as ice does it truly seem significant."

Vader watched silently as the obstruction caused the river to fracture, forming into a new, smaller stream that sailed down another path. Still over the cliff, but it was another stream all the same.

"You are the center of that iceberg," Rona'Ba said slowly, clearly still exhausted. "Others were brought back with you. And they might arrive at different points in time, breaking off to melt and emerge later. Some might have even broken off to emerge further back. But you arrived at that time you landed in the river."

Vader took all that in silently. "What was the point of this meeting?"

"The Veil did not mean for you to be here, Darth Vader, but it is not opposed. It will not punish. It will not harm you, Flowbreaker, for moving to another stream," Rona'Ba explained vaguely.

"Then what happened on that moon?" Vader asked pointedly.

"I do not know. I only know that Time did not attack you. But you were attacked with time," Rona'Ba explained, giving Vader a very pointed stare.

"..." the Dark Lord held the gaze and read through the implications, the meaning carefully. "If my presence in this time is not the cause, then you have my thanks. Now I know I must look elsewhere for the root of this."

With that, Vader turned- only to find Rona'Ba standing in his way.

"There is one last thing," Rona'Ba said, suddenly sounding very tired. "And this is for both of you."

Plagueis stood a bit straighter, his interest and concerns spiked.

"There is a consequence, a side effect of what happened to you. We don't understand what exactly happened. Were they brought back? Was only time in the galaxy affected? We don't know. But something that was always going to happen will now happen much sooner," Rona'Ba explained, however vaguely.

"Speak plainly. What do you refer to?" Vader asked with a glare.

"They are coming," Rona'Ba said ominously. "They were always coming, but now they are much, much closer."

"Who, exactly, and what do they want?" Plagueis questioned.

Rona'Ba did something that made his protective plating rattle. It took them a moment to realize he was shivering. "They want PAIN, Darth Plagueis. Pain for us, pain for themselves, pain for all. For pain is the only reminder of what they lost, of what they once were."

"Again, who?" Vader pressed.

"Those who were Banished from the Veil. Those who were Torn from the Veil. Those who were Forsaken by the Veil," Rona'Ba answered vaguely. "We fled from them once, long ago. We fear there will be no escape this time."

"..." Vader looked at him carefully. "They were your slavers."

Rona'Ba jerked, and all that flowed from him in the Force was equal potencies of rage and terror. "My ancestors. But Flowwalking makes history second nature. We who can peer into the Veil have seen the horror and agony they committed to us, and we speak it to those of our kind without the gift. We fled across a great void and hid here where few could ever reach. And we will fight them to the death if they come for us...for death will be a mercy."

Silence came over them all. "How long?" Plagueis asked with a frown.

"More than a decade, less than two. We cannot see more than that," Rona'Ba explained, looking towards the ground, seeming resigned to the dark future he foresaw.

Sensing that was the end of their discussion, Vader moved past the Aing-Tii without a word.

Rona'Ba looked towards the sky and called out. "Do you not believe me, Darth Vader?"

Vader stopped but did not turn. "I don't believe you. I know you speak the truth."

Rona'Ba stiffened slightly, glancing back to the Dark Lord in surprise. "How?"

"How could I not recognize a slave trembling before the cruelty of his master?"

Meanwhile

Anakin's training on Dagobah had been interesting since Lu-Gal joined them as opposed to lurking about. Qui-Gon wasn't sure if it was a boon or a determent, but it was very amusing nonetheless.

His Padawan was currently doing a hand stand on a rock while carefully levitating and balancing other stones into a neat stack.

Or, he was trying to.

The dragonsnake had decided to, of all things, join in Anakin's exercise. It was kind of strange yet impressive, watching Lu-Gal balancing on one hand as his sinuous body curled in the air above him, moving in strange ways to keep his balance almost perfectly. If anything, he was having an easier time balancing than Anakin.

He was also using his free limb to take from Anakin's pile, attempting and failing to make his own tower of stones. The bond might have increased the intelligence mildly, but it was still an animal and didn't grasp why Anakin's stack didn't collapse.

As if sensing his amusement, Lu-Gal glanced at the Jedi Master and let out a hiss.

"Oh, it's your own fault and you know it," Anakin said, using the Force to flick a pebble into Lu-Gal's face.

The dragonsnake snorted and retaliated excessively by coming down into a spiraling tail sweep that flung Anakin's stones all over the place.

"Why you little-!" Anakin grunted as he fell over, the stone beneath him slipping as well.

Lu-Gal snorted in apparent victory before stalking off, slinking back into the water and swimming away.

"Congrats. You have mastered the art of falling," Qui-Gon said, stern yet playfully.

"I think I'm also mastering your habit of picking up troublesome lifeforms," Anakin stated dryly.

Both of them silently snorted, knowing that Anakin was one such lifeform…as was Obi-Wan. They weren't prepared to count Vader in that category, as it felt more like he picked them all up rather than the other way around.

"You practically adopted an entire crèche of younglings, you already had a habit for that," Qui-Gon reminded. "Anakin, I'm sure you know you'll have to worry about much worse distractions than your new friend."

"I'm aware, Master," Anakin acknowledged, but didn't rise from the ground. "...Where did he go?" he asked with a frown.

Qui-Gon hummed and glanced up. He could only recognize Lu-Gal's signature at a distance because of Anakin's bond with the dragonsnake. "Someplace where the Dark Side is stronger than it is here."

Anakin furrowed his brow. "You think the Dark Side makes fish taste better?"

"I would not be surprised that wasn't the case for Lu-Gal somehow," Qui-Gon remarked. "But in full seriousness, Padawan, what are you waiting for?"

"Kind of wanted to avoid that topic," Anakin said with a grimace. "Lu-Gal stole my lightsaber."

"..." Qui-Gon raised an eyebrow. "When and how?"

"I have no idea, but he definitely has it. I can sense the crystals. Why would he take the saber, he knows it's dangerous?" Anakin said, sitting up in bewilderment and annoyance. "He's not avian. He doesn't look at pretty, shiny things and thinks they're good for his nest."

"I should be scolding you for losing it, but I'm wondering that as well," Qui-Gon said, stroking his beard. "Perhaps he wants you to follow him."

"That was the sense I got from him when he showed up, I just didn't think he'd take my saber," Anakin admitted, reaching out in the Force for his friend. "He's not coming back."

"Then I suppose we'll have to go to him, "Qui-Gon said, hiding his frown.

He had a suspicion of where the dragonsnake might be leading Anakin, but if so, he couldn't be sure why that would be the case.

Padawan and Master lurked through the swamp of Dagobah. They leaped across tree roots and solid ground where permitted before the waters ended for mostly dry land.

They could sense that Lu-Gal and the lightsaber were close.

And as they drew in, Qui-Gon felt his suspicions and concerns justified.

"There you are," Anakin said, finding the dragonsnake perched on a root, the lightsaber grasped in his curled tail as he observed the Jedi.

Without hesitation, Lu-Gal tossed the lightsaber to Anakin, who caught it in time only for his reflexes as a Jedi and in the force. "You know, this could have killed you if you accidentally turned it on," Anakin pointed out, shaking the hilt for emphasis.

Lu-Gal hissed and bayed, glancing off to the side.

The Jedi knew it was there, but had pointedly ignored it.

The Cave of the Dark Side…a nexus in the force, a place where the Dark Side was strongest.

Anakin had never used the Dark Side, never truly gave into it, but he could feel it curling around him, greeting him like an old friend who was excited to see him.

Too excited, perhaps.

"He wants me to go inside."

End of Chapter

Yoda meets with the camel people, the Aith meet with one of the Aiing, and Lu-Gal wants Anakin to go into the cave. Oh, yeah, and the Yuuzhan Vong are coming in 11-19 years. Them arriving early is, in someway, a side effect of Vader's time traveling.

I like exploring the idea that Timetravel does have consequences, but not in the usual ways- less "you might cease to exist" or "future you changed no longer exists" but in the idea of like there are ripples in reality. It's...kind of like an earthquake. It's going to shake things up, but that doesn't mean its always going to be a disaster. And even if it does, it's normally not going to destory the entire landscape.

Basically, Time is NOT fragile but traveling through it does have side effects.

Early viewing of chapters 13-14 avaliable on my pat-reon:

p a treon . com (slash) akumakami64