My dearest love:

How many times over the years have you flown across the galaxy while I stayed at home with my plants? But I never get used to it: here I am writing to you already, and you're probably still in hyperspace. But if I can't send this to you, I at least can write it for you to read when you get back, when this job over and you can tell me about it: what name you used, what person you became on some unfamiliar jewel of a world. Maybe you will bring me back a plant? Or some mysterious seeds, and when I plant them you won't tell me anything about them, just watch me bending down day after day with calipers and ruler, watching that tender new life take shape...

The first week you are gone always is the worst---when I sleep on your side of the bed and it still smells like you, when I sandwich my head between your two pillows and dream about you in the dark. It's almost better than if I had a talent for far-seeing or future-seeing: my dreams, at least, are full of joy.

And---well, if your oldest robe looks worse than ever when you get back, it's because---it's silly, I know, and believe me, you couldn't laugh any harder than all the children did, but I've taken to wearing it. I suppose I do look ridiculous, with the sleeves rolled up so far and it kilted up into my belt, but I'll wear it until I can no longer feel you in its fibers.

Enough of me and my romantic notions! You'll probably get tired of all this stuff and skip straight over it to the news ... anyway, the chupa bushes are in bloom, so the garden smells like heaven and looks to be covered in snow. You should see the insects tottering around drunkenly, covered in pollen. I try to gather as many as I can every day of the blossoms that are just starting to wilt before the dew dries: at this rate we'll all be sick of chupa tea before the end of the week. I already heave two barrels steeping for wine and am working on a third, which means I'll also have to stock up on analgesics and daito root for after this winter's New Light festival!

I made a huge batch of that skin cream I like so much, but I'll have to double it, because Tala has just discovered vanity at the ripe old age of 14. It's good she's in school or I'd be in danger of becoming her full-time cosmetics consultant.

Yuran has a loose tooth and is practicing his telekinetic ability by wiggling it constantly.

That's our exciting life in the old Jedi compound. I giggle at myself to think of it: when Jala'ao plucked me out of my father's flower shop to run off and Be a Jedi Knight, Savior of the Galaxy, who knew I'd end up being a boring old plant lady anyway?

Through the Force my love will find you--

Marta


My dearest:

It appears that I shall have an apprentice! Yesterday morning, when I went out before breakfast, I found Kimi lying on the ground talking to the dirt. When I asked her what she was doing, she said there was "somebody under the ground" who was lost and she was talking to them so they'd know which way to go. I asked her how she knew this and she said "the baby green person" had told her in a dream. Isn't it amazing? Two things worry me: the coming crisis about eating vegetables--gods, much less meat!--and that it's almost a shame someone with so much natural Force talent should potentially be turning out to be a botanist. I love my job, but it doesn't seem to be the best way to protect and serve the Republic.

Anyway, this "baby green person" just happened to be my latest attempt to grow those seeds you brought me from Daotanna 4. And the minute Kimi said it was lost, it made perfect sense to me: D4 has a wildly different magnetosphere from ours because of all the sunspot activity of their sun and the subsequent crazy solar winds (No, I didn't pull that out of a hat. I remembered about the magnetosphere from my research, but I checked the rest with Teran.). It just never occurred to me that such a different magnetic environment would cause the shoots to get lost. So we took a break to eat, then Kimi and I spent the rest of the morning "calling" to the shoots, and I worked with her a little bit on speeding the plant's growth. This was her comment: "Won't that make it tired?" Which is, of course, right on target. By the end of the morning, one pale green point had made it above the top of the soil: the sun can take over leading it from there. I declared that the three of us (baby green person included) needed lunch and naps. She's a wonder! She was back out this morning to check on her friend, so I started her keeping a notebook to chart its growth and gave her a set of tools. I'll have to talk to Jala'ao about getting her assigned to me and rearranging the rest of her school schedule.

It gives me something new to think about and to do while you're gone. I am just delighted by this---to have the chance to pass on what I know and to have a colleague. I am grateful for such joy.

Do you think this will make a dent in the frequency of my letters? I love you always.

M.


Hello love!

What news could there be on this backwater world? Kimi is learning fast and proving to be a huge help. The garden is gorgeous this year: I'm hoping that we'll be able to sell enough of the extra produce to finally top off our savings and install a better communicator. You know that Taren and Jala'ao are wizards with the old one, but it's really starting to go. We haven't gotten our regular news reports from the Council on Coruscant for 3 weeks. Jala'ao finally tried to raise them a couple of days ago but couldn't. It's really annoying, of course, to be even more cut off than usual. I guess we'll have to wait for a more favorable phase of the moon for the comm unit to decide to work again.

And, if you please, having found the sun, that plant from D4 is growing beautifully. It's becoming quite ferocious: wicked spines have grown out of the main stem. But the leaves are like velvet, and on chemical analysis I found out that it has a great deal of potential as a medicinal plant. It has pain-killing elements, calming ones, and a weird molecule that bears some resemblance to mild hallucinogens. It's still so small that I've only taken one leaf, and I can't tell yet whether it will flower or bear fruit. But I've already been sitting down with Kimi to outline a plan of study and the kinds of tests we'll want to do. We planted more seeds and are busy guiding them in the right direction so that we'll have more biomatter for testing.

So things are well and as usual. The only strange thing that is that several people have been sleeping badly. Yuren has had a couple of terrible nightmares that wake him up screaming, but he's not able to articulate anything about them. Jala'ao said he has been uneasy lately, too. I can't imagine what it is, but I've taken to brewing a big pot of tea every night with a couple of soporific herbs and some mint in it. I'm not sure it does much good, but it soothes me to feel like I'm helping.

Poor Da Jin is miserable, not being able to heal bad dreams, after all. I guess something is just in the air.

Wherever you are, I hope you're sleeping well. And dreaming of me!

M.


My dearest:

Strangeness seems to be afoot. I told you last time how several people here have been sleeping badly. Today Raynen Bo came from the town to talk to Jala'ao. It was strange to see him here alone, and out of his mayoral robes he doesn't look so much like a spider after all. But you know I've always liked him. He feels right to me. Anyway, it was obvious that he was pretty upset. After a while, Jala'ao called us all together in the library and Raynen Bo repeated everything he had evidently come to say. I don't know what to think of it. He said that the Senators were changing, that some Senator had become very powerful, that an order had gone out to


Love:

The children are all gone now. I still can't reconcile myself to it, although I voted for this in council, and I can understand why ... ever since Raynen Bo came to us with the rumors, we've been checking, contacting as many people as we could, reaching out to read the currents of feeling, and this seems to be getting worse. Why don't you come home? We can't even raise anyone in the compounds on the core worlds. Why would the Senate turn on us like this? I am ashamed to have purposefully blinded myself to politics and to be so bewildered now. Jala'ao looked into the future and would not even tell us what he saw there. Are we such a pitiful band of Jedi on this backwater planet that we will simply disappear into confusion? Forgive me, my dearest: I am desperate for you. The Council is apparently gone, the children are gone, and---I'm getting ahead of myself. After Raynen Bo came to us and told us about the rumors on the holonets, Jala'ao went into seclusion for 3 days. When he came out, he called council and told us that he had seen that the Senate has turned against us, and that planet by planet soldiers are starting to hunt us down. He would say no more than that. Then he said we should send the children to safety---and who would argue with it? So we approved it, but every few days or so, we would gather for breakfast and there would be another child gone, without warning, with no way to contact them. Jala'ao was sending them away one by one, and only he knew where they went. Oh, love, he aged decades during those weeks, and we raged at him, we questioned his sanity, we cursed him, until the day that Yuren was gone and Da Jin asked him whether his vision was really so horrible. I cannot stand to think of his eyes at that moment. It nearly broke him to send them away. After that we didn't question him anymore. All work stopped: we huddled together in the kitchen all day, not knowing who would leave next. And when they were gone---when all the children were gone, Jala'ao gathered us together in the garden. He gave his lightsaber to Teran, told us to be careful, then he just sat down and---died. Without warning, without saying goodbye, and how will we ever find the children now? When this is over, how will we find them? He was the only one who knew where they went, and he left us. This was yesterday, and my eyes have not been dry since. Come home. I'm only a botanist, and not a very good Jedi. And I don't know what to do. Love, come home. Please come home.


My love:

Are you dead too? I cannot think of any other reason why you would stay away. If you were alive, no matter how desperate things are, you would come for me. Wouldn't you?

Raynen Bo says they are coming here. Teran is going to stay, and Da Jin refuses to leave. The rest of us are going into the city to hide. It feels so strange to wear regular clothing. I can't take anything with me, they say. But I am bringing your letters. I don't know why I keep writing them. My heart tells me you are not dead, but if that's so, why are you not here? Please find me. Please find me, my love.

The troops landed yesterday, just outside the city, and they went immediately out toward the village. The news nets say we are enemies of the Empire. There is an Empire now? And we are enemies of it. To be killed on sight, so I suppose that Teran and Da Jin are dead. Liteh and I have stayed together for comfort, but our money is running out, and we cannot risk trying to find work. At least it is summer, so that sleeping out of doors is no hardship. She thinks that maybe we can find transport out to the Outer Rim. She's going tomorrow to talk to a pilot. With any luck, we will be off-world in a few days.

She's dead. Is there anyone left? Do you remember on Coruscant, when we were in training, and all those hours spent learning to focus out minds, to quiet our thoughts, and to banish fear?

They were useless. I would never have been a Master anyway. What use would it be to quiet my mind now? Would I feel any less pain? My teachers told me not to let myself become attached to things of this world, but does that include my own life? Perhaps if I had been a warrior, I would not mind the idea of dying so much. I wish I had died before and not known what it was like to see everything I loved taken away from me.

She was in the courtyard. They shot her until her body was ashes, then they kicked the ashes into the wind.

I am hiding in the attics, but they have been searching all morning. Someone saw us, someone has told them I am here. I can hear them through the walls, searching for me. They are only three rooms away. You will never find them, but I'm putting these letters under the floorboards. Who will ever remember us? All of the children are gone. What planet were you on, when you died? Was there anyone there who knew your real name?

they're coming