Author's Note: If you are a regular reader, keeping up with my current work Legacy of Paneau: Audacity (at time of writing this foreword), and you don't want to be spoiled by what this piece indirectly foretells, then don't read...yet. I had to get this short first-person POV out of my head because my muses are quite forceful, even though I still have a lot of the timeline to fill into the gap this story creates. The relationship between these two, what this piece explores, is central to the final part of the series that comes after it, Legacy's End. If you don't mind knowing a few things that Audacity and its successors haven't revealed yet, then by all means, read on. I enjoyed writing it, and I can't wait to close out this whole series, the way I've had planned for years. - Sile


Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't?

Don't lie; of course, you have. Everyone has, at least once in their life. Maybe it was someone who was too old, or far too young. Maybe a holostar, or a war hero, or someone just as unreachable. Whatever the case, how do you get over it? Distance, right? Put them out of sight and out of mind, and eventually you'll forget them.

Not so in my case. Naturally, I found myself in the most complicated of circumstances, an arrangement that I certainly couldn't just ignore or forget. You see, I've been in love with my best friend for as long as I can remember. I can't think of anything more trying...or more exhilarating. Our families live under the same gigantic roof of the Rys'tihn Manor; I see her almost all day, every day...at least, I used to, before she left.

My parents' motto has always been "absence makes the heart grow fonder," and it's worked for their relationship. It certainly describes how I feel, but I have no idea what she feels right now. It really was cruel, the way she disappeared. It's been almost four years since I last saw her or even spoke to her, and all I have to hang onto are memories of those days just before when she was the most vulnerable I've ever seen her...

I was fifteen, she was sixteen. For some reason, my father had suddenly decided that an unexplored region of the cave concealed within the Lexcen Lake needed his attention, though I was never entirely sure why. He never told me, either, probably because he felt too guilty after what happened. Originally it was just going to be me and Dad going, but he asked Cordira to come along at the last minute. He never said it outright, and I'd never dare ask him, but I imagine he brought her with us because he...felt sorry for her. My little brother Kyren had just turned nine years old and left for the Jedi Academy on Yavin IV earlier that day, joining our sister Kaylina and the Natiyr twins Aruun and Arlen there. Cordira had been denied acceptance to the Academy a few years ago, so I think my dad wanted to give her something else to think about, give her an adventure. Though he was successful, I don't think he had planned on it being so...dangerous.

Most of the cave was underwater, intentionally flooded by King Lexcen Ordeel a couple thousand years ago. The lake hid within it a large, mysterious mosaic on one wall of the cave that contained hundreds of predictions made by a Jedi Rys'tihn ancestor. That part of the cave was well documented by the Rys'tihn Ghost Heirs, but my dad found a passageway that wasn't included in the map. That's where we began our excursion.

"What are we looking for?" Cordira had asked in her casual, innocent Coruscanti accent. Even the harsh, stony corridor couldn't harden the sweet eloquence of her voice.

Up ahead of us with a portable scanner in one hand, a glowrod in the other, and our astromech Tops rolling alongside him carefully, my dad pressed on through the dark. "I'll know it when I see it. Derek, keep your glowrod up."

Cordira had distracted me from my job. I quickly turned it upright again, casting its light on the low ceiling above us. It was just strong enough to cascade diffuse visibility around us, and it added to the others that Dad and Cordira carried. Tops turned his own little light on, whistling a few snide remarks my direction. I rolled my eyes.

"Yeah, well, I don't have mechanical arms, Tops. I bet even your servos would get tired, too."

Another beep and whistle, and Tops had decided that he'd won the argument. He was usually pretty friendly, but sometimes, like that, he became insufferably arrogant. He had picked that up from working too long with his former squad, the Eclipse pilots, I'm sure of it.

"It's remarkable how cleanly carved this passage is," Dad marveled aloud, consulting his scanner. "Looks like it goes down a bit farther."

Having been walking through the corridor for what already felt like hours, I had grown curious. "We've been going down?"

"Just slightly. We should be leveling out in a few hundred meters."

Apparently detecting the same thing with his scanners, Tops whistled affirmatively, continuing to roll along the smooth floor easily. He had been forced to use his rocket boosters further back at the passage's entrance, but the longer we trekked through it, the more refined the surface all around seemed to be. It appeared that we had begun at its end, and we were approaching its beginning, where the primary efforts were focused. Dad seemed to be thinking the same thing, and I knew he was getting more and more excited as we went along.

When it looked on the scanner like we were reaching a dead end, we began hearing a strange roaring, whooshing sound, accompanied by cooler air and a subtle glow ahead in the passage. Eventually we no longer needed our glowrods, and meeting the passage's end, we instead were greeted by an enormous opening. Astounded, we all walked to the middle of a railed durasteel walkway spanning a gap several hundred meters wide in front of a modest underground waterfall, surrounded by rocky formations glowing a soft blue. The water freely fell easily a kilometer down to a small reservoir at the bottom which was also glowing. Though we obviously weren't the first to find such a fantastic sight, it was definitely a unique experience.

Dad looked like he had found lost treasure. "This is amazing! I'm sure that water's coming from the Lexcen Lake...but where is it going?"

Looking down to the pool below, we noticed there were no streams leading away from it. The cavernous room went on for kilometers in almost all directions, but the water was mostly contained just below its waterfall. It was a bit perplexing, but since the area hadn't always been under water, there were bound to be undiscovered paths for the water to take.

"Why is everything glowing?"

"It looks like every surface is covered with small lifeforms that are feeding on the nutrients the water brings in. The byproduct of their process must be the glow we see."

I barely managed to contain a laugh. My dad: career pilot, Paneau's Head of Security, and apparently, a budding biologist.

Cordira remained fascinated, though, taking in the view as our eyes continued adjusting to the new light. The blue glow turned her normally vibrant, fire-red hair into an odd shade of purple, and I guess I had a weird expression on my face because of it. As Cordira turned her head to me, she gave me the same look right back, but I noticed something else just beyond her that caught my attention instead. She laughed at me as my expression became even more serious, but that stopped when she followed my gaze to her other side...and saw the same blinking red light affixed to the opposite wall where the walkway was attached.

"Dad..."

The light blinked faster as we watched. Tops whistled shrilly and rocked in place in alarm; he already knew what it was.

"Back the way we came, now," he ordered tensely, but the instant we all turned around, we met the same blinking light, quickening to an almost constant beam -

We couldn't have even reacted. Before we knew it, the walkway was gone beneath our feet.