For Family


The Sullustan avoided the rush of journalists and media droids jostling with the barricade of stormtroopers. No matter how closely the two figures resembled the Jedi and the Princess, Den Dhur could feel it in the pale dewflaps of his face that they were only decoys. He remained in his concealed spot with a prime view of the mausoleum and continued to wait.

Despite the initial request for privacy by the then Emperor, Dhur had inadvertently discovered the identity of their mother. They had failed at first, all the journalists, investigators and bounty hunters who had scoured the galaxy from top to bottom. Finding one nameless woman in a galaxy of more than 100 quadrillion with only a vague timeframe in which she might have lived was nigh on impossible. Wherever she had married Anakin Skywalker, either the officiator was holding their silence or assumed names had been used, or both.

Five years on, a fluke encounter had changed everything. Dhur, while visiting his friend Jax Pavan who had joined the New Jedi Order, had chanced across Princess Organa and a certain Senator visiting the Grand Master at the Temple. The two women had looked similar, in Dhur's eyes, but then so did a lot of the human race. Expecting nothing and already turning his mind to his next investigative project, he had managed to collect DNA samples from their refreshment glasses and run a comparison.

To this day, he had still not come to terms with his guilt for having reported on the discovery.

At the time, his excitement that they were the children of the revered Amidala had eclipsed his common sense, and Skywalker's request for privacy had clean escaped his mind. By the time the media vultures had circled in on the Naberrie family and Dhur had realised what he had done, it was too late.

The galaxy's point of view on the Jedi had changed following his abolition of the Empire, and this almost came as a signal. It was time to move on. Overnight, Vader's children became Amidala's children.

The galaxy wondered at Skywalker's original omission, when the knowledge that they were born of such a venerated figure could have saved them a great deal of grief after the revelation that Vader was their father.

The Amidala name is a beacon of hope, their supporters said; they refused to use it as currency to buy favour. It was to protect Amidala's name from being tainted by Vader's, others said. Or still others believed it was simply to protect the family.

Whatever the reason, the journalists had continued circling on Naboo, eager for a glimpse of the celebrated twins when they visited Amidala's tomb and her family.

They had come a year later. The Naberrie family had withdrawn to an undisclosed location citing personal reasons – it was clearly to meet with the siblings. But Dhur knew that these two people escorted by stormtroopers were decoys. The media swarm would follow them from the mausoleum as they took a tour of Naboo, until it was revealed that they had been misled. He kept his large black eyes glued on the scene; his species' exceptional sense of direction aiding him in keeping track of all the journalists and ensuring that every single one of them had left. Dhur continued to hunch in his concealed spot, intent on his task.

At dusk hours later, a single nondescript speeder drew up outside of the mausoleum. Three cloaked figures alighted, followed by a scruffy-haired human with blasters holstered at his hips, a Wookiee with a bowcaster slung over his back, a short astromech droid and a golden protocol droid. They glanced around, and all three of the cloaked figures turned directly towards Dhur in his hiding place.

With his excellent low-light vision the Sullustan clearly saw the pairs of blue, brown and emerald eyes lock onto him, and he felt like the air had been sucked from his lungs. You're safe, Dhur wanted to say. You're alone, I made sure of it for you. I'm sorry for all this, he would have said, if he could have spoken.

Two of them looked away, but bright blue eyes held his gaze for a moment longer. There was a gentle feeling in his mind, a brief sense of understanding and forgiveness, and then it was gone. Dhur felt lighter in its wake, as though he had received the absolution that had been eluding him.

In all this time, even though their parentage had become public knowledge, Dhur had been glad that the details of Amidala and Skywalker's marriage still remained a mystery at least. Perhaps that very location was where the Naberrie family was waiting to meet Amidala's children. Wherever it was, it was Dhur's hope that it could remain a private sanctuary for these two, the one tipped to be the next Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance, and the Grand Master of the New Jedi Order that defended it.

Dhur kept vigil until the seven figures re-emerged from Amidala's private mausoleum and flew away.

"Old Master."

There was no sense of alarm at the appearance of the Force ghost; the Old Masters, as they had come to be known, were infrequent but accustomed sights within the halls of the Jedi Temple to those who could see them.

As irregular as their visits were, there was one event when this particular Old Master always appeared.

"You have done well to pass the five Trials, Padawan, but there is a sixth. The Trial of Experience."

Here, as always, a sense of surprise.

"This Trial is only undertaken by those who are ready to achieve their Knighthood. Those who are yet to pass their five Trials may not be strong enough to endure it. It may be discussed with your masters, but never with any others; do you understand?"

The Padawan now understood why there had never been a whisper of it, even in the tales of the recently Knighted. "I do."

"The Trial of Experience is a guided meditation, but unlike any you have had before. It is a walking vision, where you will journey through a series of ordeals. You will neither recall who you really are nor even that this is a vision, until the final step. This is you, this is the life you live, until the Trial is complete.

"You will know love as you have never known, suffer pain as you have never suffered, be consumed by despair as you have never been consumed. You will be tested to the limits of your humanity, beyond your most primal instincts. The purpose of this Trial is to earn a level of understanding that is not possible any other way, of the ability to overcome the Dark Side, and of the power of the Light Side of the Force. After the Trial, you will not be the same again.

"Are you ready to begin this greatest of Trials?"

The Padawan remained resolute in the face of the ominous warning. "I am."

With clear blue eyes the shimmering form regarded the student, feeling the weight of the memories he was about to relive yet again but not shirking from the task. This was the lesson of his past, his lesson to future generations.

He drew the Padawan into a meditative trance, guiding to such depths of the Force that was only possible for the most powerful of Jedi, until self-awareness was forgotten and there was only the Force and his voice.

"In the beginning, you were born a slave..."