Title:

Author: DWH

Characters: Carth Onasi, Leiraya Moran Onasi, Bryce Onasi

Timeframe: 19 years post-KOTOR 2

Genre: Angstarific with a dash of humour, just because I can. :p

Summary:

Notes: For the Ridiculously Specific Challenge v 2.0

Admiral and Mrs. Onasi:

It is with deep regret that I must write to tell you of your son, Bryce Onasi.

I knew right then and there that something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. I had suspected something bad when the comm unit started pinging in the middle of the night . Whether it was the Force or motherly intuition, I don't know. Maybe it was some of both. But upon reading the first line of text that popped on the screen, I knew with unwavering certainty that my worst fears were about to be confirmed.

As you know, he was sent on a mission to Telos, in an effort to negotiate with the leadership there. They have been generally uncooperative and distrustful of the Jedi since the Ravager's attack on Citadel Station, and we felt a good representative was necessary. Bryce volunteered for this mission, feeling that his status as half-Telosian would aid in the process. We thought all was going well, but we have lost contact with him.

That, I knew, was highly unusual. Bryce was very much his father's son- committed, loyal, and stubborn. The measures it would take to get him to lose contact with his commanding officers…

A team was sent to investigate, led by Master Visas Marr. They could find no trace of him, save his cloak. It was the only thing left in his apartment. When the authorities were contacted, they had no record of his even being on Telos at the time. Master Marr suspects dishonesty on their part.

I imagined that was putting it mildly. I could clearly recall the way she would announce when anyone around her was lying. Perhaps she had mellowed out as she aged. But if Visas said someone was lying, that was that- her people, the Miraluka, had the rare gift of Force sight. She had the uncanny ability to pick up on the barest threads of deception, which she would methodically tear to shreds to get to the bottom of things.

Though I would like to be able to say that we are on his trail, there simply is none. Whoever is behind his disappearance was thorough in the cover-up. All our efforts to locate him have failed. He seems to have vanished from the planet, and our perceptions in the Force. The only conclusion we can reach from the evidence is that he has, in fact, died.

No. No, that couldn't be right. It wasn't possible. I stepped back from the unit, the air suddenly seemed considerably more frigid. Not our boy. I would have felt it. I would have. There's no way I couldn't have. Letting out a stifled cry, I staggered back and sat on the bed.

"Leiraya? What's wrong?" Carth's concerned voice came from behind me. I couldn't answer for a few seconds, the words just refused to come. How could I tell him what they thought? I could finally understand, at least partially, how Carth felt after the destruction of Telos, about how he thought Dustil was dead. How could I ever tell him that he had another missing son?

"I… I couldn't do it. I couldn't keep searching. I looked for two solid years, you know." Carth sighed dejectedly. "I guess I just assumed the worst."

"I'm sorry, Carth… I didn't mean to upset you."

"No, it's not your fault. It's my own fault, for not being there for him. For not making it on time. For not protecting him when I swore I would." His jaw clenched, and a hard light entered his eyes. "I'm never letting that happen again."

I smiled, as I would several years later as he held his new son for the first time. It was a tentative smile, at first. He looked so amazed at the small form resting peacefully in his arms. "How does it feel?"

"It feels… it feels like I'm alive." He cradled the boy, stroking his cheek. "Finding Dustil again was a start, but I lost so much time with him. First, when I had to leave, then when he…" his voice faltered for a moment. "I won't let that happen to Bryce. Or Anna, or Nevara." He looked lovingly at the two girls I held in my arms. "I promise you, I'll protect them. No matter what."

"I know you will." I was exhausted, but I couldn't keep from smiling. "I love you, you know that?"

"I do. And I love you, too." He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, then Nevara, then Anna. "And I should let you rest." He placed Bryce in his bassinet, then took Anna and Nevara from my arms one at a time to lay them in their proper places.

"You'll stay, right?"

"Sweetheart, I'm not going anywhere."

I could only sit there, staring blankly at the wall. I felt Carth move, and sensed that he knew something was wrong. After all, he'd never known me to be at a loss for words, to put it mildly. Within seconds, he was next to me. "Leiraya?"

I remember the day we left Telos like it was yesterday.

None of us wanted to leave. Well, the kids were too young to understand, really. They knew something was wrong, but they didn't know exactly what. Impressive for a bunch of three-year-olds, I had to admit. But they didn't really get it. And to be honest, I didn't want them to.

I found Leiraya looking at the orchards for one last time. She didn't even turn to look at me, but I could hear the sadness in her voice. "You'd think a Jedi had destroyed this place instead of saving it."

"I know." I could offer no words of comfort, for I felt much the same way as she did. I mean, I had my own problems with the Jedi. I'd been a direct witness to the aftermath of the Revan fiasco, which was something that most of the galaxy still didn't know much about. But in spite of that mess, I knew the Jedi were not inherently bad.

Hell, I'd married one.

"One misstep, and it changes the face of the galaxy. Echoes…" she trailed off, not bothering to finish the thought. "Of all the people present at Peragus during its destruction, the only one left alive is a Jedi. And the galaxy needs a scapegoat, no matter how misplaced their ire may be."

I couldn't disagree with her. Between the loss of Peragian fuel for Citadel Station, and the fact that a Sith Lord came pretty kriffing close to destroying the planet, the general population had decided it didn't need people who could cause that scale of trouble. Telos had already seen more than its fair share of disaster, that was undeniable. But most sentients, as I have observed, are cruel.

The Jedi family had to go.

They didn't make us leave, of course. It started with a gentle suggestion from some of my old military friends. From there, it was all downhill , ending with a firm "request" from the government. Heroes or no, the Jedi could not stay. It was completely unreasonable, of course, but what were we supposed to do? I wasn't about to let my children grow up in an environment where they would be persecuted just because they happened to be Jedi.

Delaying the departure, however, wouldn't make anything better. "Are you ready to go?"

She finally turned, and I could see the tears rolling down her cheeks. "I'll never be ready to acquiesce to such a travesty of judgement." The disdain in her voice mingled with bitterness, but she leaned down and picked up her satchel. "So I suppose we may as well leave and get it over with."

We left that day, and never went back. My dreams of rebuilding the planet I had seen destroyed were passed along to another officer, one who was completely unaffiliated with the Jedi. It was one of the hardest things I ever did. Maybe if I had been passing it to a trusted colleague, instead of some sneering Captain with, at most, a quarter of my experience, I would have felt good about it.

Our plans, however, often fall astray.

I thought there was hope when I heard the Jedi were trying to make peace with the Telosian government. Mical Kaye, head of the Jedi Council and a former soldier of mine, had contacted me to find out if we wanted any part of it. I knew it would be best if Leiraya and I kept our distance, but Bryce, now nineteen years of age, volunteered. He remembered his childhood running through the orchards, and splashing in the nearby oceans. He also remembered the day we moved, and how they made his mother cry.

He would never admit it, but I knew that he hated to see his mother cry.

And so he left. Everyone's hopes were high, as Bryce had a reputation for being a peacemaker. A man after his mother's heart, to be sure. We received communications from him a few times after he arrived on Telos, but the messages abruptly stopped. In her usual optimistic form, Leiraya suggested that perhaps negotiations were taking the bulk of his time.

I wish I could have had her confidence.

When I woke to her startled cry, I knew, I just knew what had happened. For most people, there would be a myriad of reasons why such a noise would be uttered. Maybe I'm just overly paranoid. I've been accused of it before. But that didn't stop me from being right.

We will, of course, continue our searches. Master Marr and her Padawan, Aline Sangazure, will continue their investigations. But I can offer few words of hope. I wish I could offer more.

You have my condolences. Your son was shaping up to be an exemplary Jedi, and I only wish we knew what happened to him.

Regards,

Mical Kaye

They sat at lunch, unable to say much of anything. The previous night had been more than harrowing for the two of them, and each was trying to minimize the dejection they felt for the sake of the other.

"It's not working."

Carth looked up, confusion on his face. "What?"

"This whole pretending that life as we know it isn't ripping at the seams thing." She sighed, and buried her face in her hands. "It's really not working."

"I know it's hard…" he started, but he couldn't continue on with the thought. He did know how hard it was, it was the second time he'd lost a son. No matter how he tried to protect his children, they always seemed to slip beyond his reach. Even Anna and Nevara would be starting to take on more dangerous missions soon, and he wouldn't be in any position to stop them.

"He's not dead."

"He's – what?"

Leiraya squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. "I'd know it if he were dead. I'd have felt it. I haven't felt him die. I don't know where he is, but he's not dead." Her voice sounded unusually frail, but there was an underlying strength that made him want to believe her. And not just because he couldn't bear the thought of losing another child, either.

"Well, then… we'll just have to go find him."

Her head snapped up, and she blinked. "We can just up and leave to go do that?"

Carth shrugged. "I don't have anything better to do with my time, and I don't have any current assignments. And if he's alive somewhere, you'd damn well better believe I'm going to go looking for him."

Leiraya smiled halfheartedly. "And I know how you get when you're like this."

Carth had been completely unwilling to talk to anyone or do much of anything once he found out his son, Dustil, was alive and on Korriban. Not that she could blame him, he had thought Dustil to be dead for several years.

"I'm not letting him slip away because I didn't look hard enough," Carth insisted. "I'd never forgive myself if I found out he was alive and I hadn't tried."

"Well, then," Leiraya stood and wrapped a well-worn hand woven poncho around her. "Let's get moving."

Carth stood, took her hand, and smiled. It was going to be an adventure, he was quite certain, but considering they had met in the wake of a planet's destruction, he was fairly sure they could handle a bit of excitement once more. After all, it wouldn't do to let the kids have all the fun.

Here we go again…

Leiraya and Carth found themselves walking through the halls of the Coruscant Jedi Enclave, searching for the commanding officer of the mission. A short communication with Mical had revealed that he was somewhere on the premises, and while he tried to convince them that Visas had things covered, he also knew that they were unlikely to be dissuaded. Stubbornness was something of a motif amongst the Onasis.

Meandering along, Leiraya found herself humming an energetic melody. Carth raised an eyebrow. "Now, where's that from? Is it that rime thing I can never remember?"

"No, it's one of those operettas you can never keep straight, in spite of my efforts of teaching you to be cultured." She smiled, and hummed a few more bars.

"Come on, I'm not that bad. I can remember a few of them. Even if they are all the same."

"They are not all the same, however similar they may be. This one is different, anyway- someone actually dies in this one, and nobody dies in G&S operettas." She shrugged. "It's a good one. I think Master Marr's Padawan performed in it once, actually… we had to work at hiding that braid of hers. She might have ended up in a wig, come to think of it."

"Oh, we went to that one, didn't we?" Carth scratched his head, trying to remember. Something about a sorcerer and a love potion, if he recalled correctly.

"Yes, we did." Scanning the next room, she saw someone that looked promising. She poked Carth. "Let's go check her out."

Walking into the room, the lone occupant saw them and walked over before they could say anything. "Admiral and Mrs. Onasi! It's an honour to meet you." She extended a gloved hand. "I'm Commander D.W. Hollingford. You can call me Commander Hollie for short, though."

Both Carth and Leiraya shook the proffered hand. The energetic woman was wearing a Republic uniform, and looked quite young to be a Commander. Of course, most everyone looked young to Carth's eyes these days. He could finally see why Jolee had constantly twitted everyone about their ages. It was also interesting to see she went by a slightly odd moniker, but he supposed he'd seen stranger.

"I'm Bryce's commanding officer," she continued. "I hear you're wishing to search for him?"

"You got that right," Carth replied. "Can you help us?"

"As a matter of fact, I think I can. We found a new witness yesterday, after tracking down the passenger manifests on certain flights in and out of Telos." Pulling out a datapad, she flipped through pages of information. "I don't know how much good he'll be, though."

"What, is he uncooperative or something?"

"No, he's plenty willing to talk. He talked our ears off for an hour last night before we got past 'What is your name?'" Commander Hollie sighed. "I don't know how much of that we can take. I thought the Dralls were supposed to be a sensible lot, but that just goes to show how much I know…"

Leiraya did a double take. "It's a Drall?"

"Yes, says his name is Partlet. He says he was on holiday. And that he quite likes holidays, and how one can never be too careful on holiday- were we looking for someone who had been careless in his travels?"

"I know that name," Leiraya mulled for a moment before it finally clicked. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me."

"What?" Carth looked down at her, and she was trying not to laugh.

"Partlet was the Drall who maintained the spaceport near the Corellian Jedi Enclave. He was quite the character, as I remember." She shook her head ruefully. "I haven't seen him in years."

"Well," Commander Hollie shrugged, "maybe you can get him to say something useful. If you'll follow me…"