New story! Yay!
This is the first installment in a trilogy, essentially based around the problem of a Padawan becoming a Knight if the Jedi Order doesn't really exist any longer, hence the series title. I drafted this fic in November of 2011, during National Novel Writing Month, (NaNo), and it's been a bit of a journey to get it fit for viewing. Hopefully it'll be an adventure to read – it certainly was to write. :P
One thing that I'm doing differently is adding a "soundtrack" to this fic. Each chapter opens with song lyrics from a particular tune that influenced its writing – many are from my "Zero 7" (a band) station on my Pandora account. :P I've included a link to a playlist on my profile, if you're inclined to follow along.
As always, I make no money from this venture, nor do I own any parts of this story except for my OCs.
A massive debt of gratitude to the lovely SerendipityAEY whose feedback is as insightful as she is awesome. These stories of mine are always richer for her comments.
Please read and enjoy; remember, reviews feed the storyteller's soul, which in turn feeds the muse, which leads to more stories...
Song: "Futures," by Zero 7, from the album The Garden.
Part I: Wild Blue Yonder
Made a note of it, did you write it on your hand?
Put a name on it, to help you understand.
Well, do you see the future's holidays are for me?
Just let me know, where we go after the fall.
Like the sound of it, gonna hang it on your wall?
Turn and run with it, for the sake of one and all.
Where you go nobody knows.
Well, do you see the future's holidays are for me?
Just let me know where to go,
Where you go after the fall.
It has been said that there is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom, and perhaps that's true. Knowledge is garnered a variety of ways – study, observation, and experience being chief among them – while wisdom is said to be attained primarily through reflection.
Knowledge is the lens through which one studies a text; wisdom is the eye that skims across the page.
The Jedi Knight, Atreus Rand, was – by all accounts – well-aware of this difference, but he was perhaps more conscious of the inexorable link between the two. In his mind, one could not exist without the other; the lens and the text would both be useless if there was no one to read them, and the eye with nothing to observe would grow dull and complacent with disuse.
Neither option was preferable.
This was the reason that he chose to turn his abilities towards the collection of knowledge, stored in the Great Holocron, so that future generations of Padawans, Knights and Masters would be able to absorb and reflect upon the information. Atreus was of the mindset that wisdom comes from knowledge, and thought to perpetuate that cycle.
But the Force held him in a different regard. Born Miralukan, he was not equipped with eyes that most Near-Humans share; instead, his vision was within, but far reaching. Some called it the Sight, but for Atreus, it was most often a nightmare.
From his earliest days he remembered being wracked with images, sounds and smells that he had no way to quantify or understand, except to know that he was at their mercy. There were more than a few distinct memories of waking up in the middle of a meditation session or sparring class, realizing that he was lying on the on the floor with his classmates' horror-struck attention fixed upon him. Atreus didn't blame them, because often he'd be covered in his own spittle from the loss of motor control, with a splitting headache from the force of his skull slamming against the floor to add insult to injury.
The instructor – well-versed in these types of things, especially with Atreus – would place a hand on his shoulder and ask the Miralukan boy, in a gentle voice that seemed not to note the irony of the words, what he had seen.
The images that had passed through Atreus' brain meant nothing to him; often he recalled planets that he'd never visited, or phrases in languages that he'd never heard spoken, but he could remember them all, just the same. Atreus would dutifully repeat what the Force had shown him; later on, he'd get word that the information had saved the life of an important person somewhere far away, or prevented a village from being wiped out in a massacre, and he was glad he could have helped, even though he felt far-removed from his own brain far more often than he figured was normal.
In fact, he was often far-removed from most things in his life, as his "episodes" made quite sure that few other students sought to get close to the Miralukan boy. As future Jedi, none of the Initiates were cruel, but none were overly friendly, either. Everyone kept their distance, and Atreus found that he grew used to being alone. He took solace in the Archives, amid the vast stacks of information, of knowledge that he could absorb and categorize, hoping to understand.
Knowledge, he soon learned, was the first step to wisdom, and he wanted very much to be wise, almost as much – perhaps some days even more – as he wanted to become a Jedi.
It had been difficult to achieve a place as a Padawan, but not impossible. When he was not writhing on the ground, shuddering in a puddle of his own drool, he was quite capable, as his Miralukan predilection for 'seeing' through the Force made him a cunning warrior. Atreus was cautious by nature, and rarely took a step forward without considering his options. Though he would never distinguish the planes of his opponent's face, nor see the tell-tale shifting of their eyes, the Force showed him where they would move next, what angle their weapon would make as it approached his body, and that was more than enough for him.
Naum Kolos, a Theelian, thought so as well, for he chose to take Atreus as his apprentice, which was for a long time, the best day of the dark-haired Miralukan boy's life. For the duration of his time as a Padawan, Atreus had another being nearby who would listen to his visions and react to his episodes without fear or disgust, though he often sensed that his Master was overwhelmed by their violence and frequency.
Just as he hadn't blamed his fellow Initiates for their reactions, he thought that Master Kolos' were also justified, but often he wondered just how bad it really was. He'd toyed with the idea of recording his actions during an episode, but was admittedly reluctant to see for himself, and decided that in this one instance, ignorance was indeed bliss.
As the Clone Wars ground on and on with no end in sight, it became apparent that the Jedi were being cut down in droves, much faster than new ones could be Knighted. Because of this, Atreus' own Knighthood arrived with alacrity just after his Master was killed; within the span of a few hours, his entire world had changed.
Due to the nature of Atreus Rand's "special abilities," as it was put by the Council, the Miralukan was set to work on intelligence-gathering, in a similar capacity to a few other Jedi during the Wars. However, unlike some of those Jedi, Atreus was not to be alone. It was not – he was told – because of his lack of skill, but rather the fact that it had been recommended by his late Master that he always work with a partner, someone to assist him should he incapacitate himself during an episode.
As it happened, said partner was no Jedi.
Though the Jedi initially tried to be as pleasant as possible to the ARC trooper, it soon became apparent that they were too different, perhaps irreconcilably so, and Atreus wondered if the Force had a dark sense of humor in sending the sarcastic, impatient clone to work with him, for Tully made him want to pull out his own hair.
Atreus Rand approached a situation, considered his options, mulled over potential outcomes – perhaps meditating a bit for good measure – and then reached his decision.
Tully approached a situation and threw himself in headfirst, placing his trust on his considerable – according to himself – skills and copious training.
Atreus was of the understanding that all clones were to obey the orders of their Jedi Generals without question or hesitation; when he mentioned this to Tully, the ARC Lieutenant snorted with laughter, called him a string of Mandalorian words that were probably unflattering, and replied that he'd happily follow orders as long as they were given by someone who knew what the kriff he was doing.
Needless to say, the young men encountered their fair share of arguments.
However, after more than a few shared, near-death experiences, they got over themselves and learned to work together, and for a time Atreus felt strangely peaceful with the partnership. Tully seemed to feel the same way, as evidenced by the copious, often ribald mockery that accompanied the ARC's attempts at conversation. It was in jest, though, and for Atreus, it was the first time in his life that he learned to laugh at himself.
Unconcerned, the Wars trudged on. Atreus continued to have his visions. Tully would record the things that he sputtered out, often questioning him about them immediately upon his regaining his senses, and they would send off a report to the Jedi Temple before continuing their missions. With Tully's help, Atreus was able to collect vital intel to the Republic, and he felt that he was doing some good, after all, and that he was adding to the wealth of knowledge of the Jedi Order when he sent the lead Jedi Archivist his findings.
Life was not easy, but in a bizarre way it was satisfying; for some time, that was enough.
Then there was a mission, too complicated for himself and Tully – a notion that irritated the ARC to no end – and they were assigned a pair of Antarian Rangers. The Rangers were a long-standing, respected order dedicated to serving the Jedi in the field, assisting them in any capacity. Tully complained that the Rangers were not necessary, that he and Rand were more than capable, that the last thing they needed was a pair of silver-eyed, white-haired Echani women getting in the way, no matter how legendary their fighting skills were said to be. Though he kept vitriol out of his words and thoughts, Atreus silently agreed, fearing that – again – the delicate balance of his life was to be thrown off-kilter.
As it happened, Tully had to eat his words, but – as he confessed to Atreus later on – he didn't mind the presence of the Rangers so much when Miriam Senna smiled at him.
The other Ranger, Miriam's sister Johari, or "Jo," hardly spoke, but when she did the sound of her voice lodged itself within Atreus' mind almost at once, causing the Jedi's complacency with his lot in life slid further away as he considered the distance between himself and a woman he hardly knew; despite his tentative inquiries towards her with the Force, he was always met with a blank wall, as if she had locked herself away. He told himself that it was for the better, as he figured that no woman would choose him. The shuddering, drooling nature of his episodes made for unattractive prospects in a mate, anyway.
Besides, the Jedi Code dictated his steps, and his own caution laid out the path of his life. There was little room in his world for romance, real or imagined, so he tried to ignore the way he felt when he heard Johari speak, while Tully – in his brazen fashion – flirted shamelessly with her sister, Miriam. With the Rangers' help, the mission was deemed a success, and the two sets of partners soon became one, cohesive unit.
And still, the galaxy continued the slog through the Clone Wars.
For most of the time, Atreus dwelt in two words: the reality of his missions for the greater good of the Republic, and the shadowed, shifting world of his Sight. Tully, Jo and Miriam aided with the former, and he was grateful to have them to share the burden, and considered himself lucky.
The latter, however, was all his own, and there was nothing to be done about it.
Approximately one week before Order 66...
It was late, and the ship was quiet.
A soft noise alerted the Antarian Ranger, Johari Senna, to another's approach, and she turned to see the Miralukan Jedi stepping into the cockpit, his cloak wrapped tightly about his shoulders as though he were cold. Without a word Atreus Rand slid into the nav seat and skimmed his hand through a mop of messy, dark hair, his expression conveying deep thought and his hunched posture filled with anxiety. Even though her heart had picked up a bit once he'd entered the small space, Jo forced herself to keep calm, urged her own agitation to fade as she cast him a casual glance and was thankful – again – that he couldn't read her own face like she could read his, and that she was adept at shielding her emotions from Force-users.
"Everything okay?" She wondered if he couldn't sleep. Tully and Miriam had been particularly exuberant these last few days, whether in defiance of the horrors of war that raged around them or in celebration of their own, new-found love, she wasn't sure. Either way, it was awkward to try and sleep while her sister and the ARC trooper were together.
For several moments he did not answer, and she wondered if he was ignoring her or if the words had not registered. Finally he gave a deep sigh and turned his head her way, lifting his slender shoulders into a shrug. "Not really." He frowned, the expression strange on his usually jovial face. "I had that vision. Again."
His voice tightened on the last word, and she made a soft noise of acknowledgment as he continued. "It's never been like this, Jo," he said, the words dropping to just above a whisper. The Jedi took a breath and ran his hand through his hair again. "Just as I've never had a vision about my own life, I've never had the same one, over and over in this way."
He nodded and laced his fingers together in his lap. "The Jedi Temple...filled with smoke. Sounds of screaming in the night. The smell of burning flesh and plasma. The Archives...the Holocron vault...in flames." A shudder passed through him and he moved his hands to grip the armrests of the seat, as though he were holding on for dear life. "It gets worse each time."
For a few moments he was quiet, as if in thought, then he spoke again. "If the Holocron vault is destroyed, all of that information – all of the wisdom of the Order – would be lost forever."
"Along with the Jedi Temple," Johari added in a soft voice. She didn't know what else to say. What was there to say, when she had no idea what it was like for him? But, she reminded herself, it was her job – her duty – as an Antarian Ranger to support the Jedi in any way she could. So Johari cleared her throat and modulated her words to be steady. "What do you want to do, Atreus?"
A hollow chuckle escaped him and he turned towards her, his dark hair falling in its customary fashion over the strip of cloth he wore about his face, where his eyes would have been had he been born a Human. "Too many things. But," he frowned again, and she watched his expression transform, and tried to ignore the longing she felt to reach for him. "I need to talk to the Council. They've always listened to me before. If the war is coming to Coruscant...they must be informed."
"Of course," she said. "We'll head out immediately." With that, Jo leaned over him and adjusted the nav, trying not to think of how close he was in that moment; but he caught her elbow as she did, the touch so light against the thin cloth of her shirt that she almost didn't feel it. "Atreus?"
His mouth opened, but no sound came out for a moment. Finally he released her and shook his head. "Thank you, Jo."
They hadn't been far from the Core at all, so it was only about half a day later that she was setting down her ship, the Spiral Dance, within one of the gleaming hangars of the Jedi Temple. With hardly a word, Atreus – a fully armored Tully at his heels – rushed off to the interior of the Temple, leaving the Echani sisters behind. Jo thought that there must have been something uneasy in the air, for she and Miriam hardly spoke the entire time that the men were gone, instead taking the time to perform their karanas, a kind of moving meditation that all Echani warroirs practiced.
It was nearly two hours before Atreus and Tully returned. The latter's voice preceded their approach, a rich baritone that echoed within the empty hangar. "So...that's it? No one has time to meet with you for three shabla days, so you're just going to give up?"
"I'm not 'giving up,' Tully," Atreus replied, the tempo of his steps indicating that his pace was uncharacteristically rapid. "I'm...considering my options."
Tully snorted. Jo and Mira met them at the lowered hatch of the ship, and the clone removed his helmet – brushed with stripes of pale blue – to glare at the Jedi despite the fact that the Miralukan couldn't see him. "Your options, eh? What might those be? Do you need to fill out some kind of fancy form to get an audience with Their Graces? Maybe attach a strongly-worded letter? 'Dear Yoda: the Jedi Temple is going to be shot to hell, thought you should know. Love, Rand.'"
"I guess it didn't go well," Miriam said, crossing her arms and regarding the ARC Lieutenant with amusement.
At the sound of her voice, the clone's expression immediately softened. Tully stepped over to Mira and took her hand, giving it a squeeze before he jerked his head towards Atreus, who was still frowning in thought. "Not at all. Matter-of-fact, those di'kutle council-folks didn't even have the time of day for him."
"Exactly, Tully," Atreus replied, though his tone was sharp; Johari could hear his weariness, and his worry despite the sardonic tenor of his words. "It's almost like they have a few other things on their minds besides my visions."
"Which have always been accurate," Tully shot back. "Honestly...if you were worried enough to have us pack up in the middle of a mission and fly out here, then you may as well just take the kriffing holocron yourself and be done with it. I know you want to. You basically said as much on the journey out here."
If Jo hadn't been watching Atreus' face when Tully made the not-quite-suggestion, she would have missed the tiny lift of his brows, and the subtle shifting of his feet that accompanied him whenever he got an idea.
Before she had a chance to ask him if he was really thinking of absconding with the Jedi artifact, Mira touched Tully's cheek and said something that made the clone grin and lift her off of her feet in a deep kiss, and after that Jo wanted nothing more than to escape back into the ship and pass off her musings as the product of an over-active imagination.
The trip to the Core had been taxing, so Atreus suggested that they spend the night; as Jo lay awake in her bunk that night, trying not to hear the boisterous sounds of lovemaking between her sister and the clone, she thought over Atreus' reaction again and again. In the year that she'd known him, the Miralukan had never done anything without a valid reason, and he'd never once let his visions pass without taking some sort of action. She'd heard his ideas on the importance of collecting knowledge many times, after all, and found herself wondering what exactly he had planned.
Eventually, she was able to sleep for what seemed like a few seconds, for in the next moment there was a gentle rapping on her door, followed moments later by the soft hiss as it opened, and a shadowed figure entered her room, halting about a meter from her bunk as he spoke.
She had been fully awake the moment she'd heard sound against the door, so she sat up and tried to ignore the race of her heart when he said her name. "Atreus?"
"It's time to go."
She blinked once. "Now? In the middle of the night?"
The shade that was Atreus Rand chuckled, an incongruous sound amidst the previous noises that had been coming from her sister's room. He pulled a small, dodecahedral-shaped item out of his pocket, something that glowed faintly in the shadows of her cabin and she felt her eyes widen. "About twenty minutes ago, actually. Give or take."
Another dry chuckle, and the Great Holocron slid back into his pocket. "I'm afraid I did, Jo. I'm not sure exactly what my vision will bring, but I do know that this is a necessary evil to protect the knowledge that countless Jedi have collected. If it happens that I'm over-reacting, then so be it. I'll return the Holocron and accept whatever punishment the Council sees fit to give."
Jo felt cold, and rubbed at her arms with her hands. "Atreus...what if the Temple really is going to be destroyed? What then?"
He frowned and shook his head. "I've done what I can, Jo. You weren't there, today, but I was rather...insistent – crazy, more like – when I went to see the Council, but they had no time for me. Master Yoda assured me that the matter would be addressed, but I was dismissed without much preamble."
"I've never known them to ignore your visions."
At this, his frown deepened, and she thought his hands were shaking, though he quickly stowed them in the pockets of his robes. "Me either. Things must be worse than I'm aware, for them to do so." He paused, and she watched the way that the shadows of her room painted his expression. "I tried, Jo. I really did. I don't know what else I could have done."
His tone was despondent, and she was gripped with a desire to reassure him in some way, but she had nothing of substance to offer besides a poor joke. "A necessary evil it is, then."
"Yes, Tully had the right idea – this one time," Atreus said in a sardonic voice. "But don't tell him...his head's big enough as it is."
Despite herself Jo smiled, rose, and followed him to the helm; minutes later they were in atmo, then making the jump into space beyond. They were off.
One week later, Tully received Order 66 on his wristcom, and Atreus' vision came to pass. The Jedi Temple, and everything within it, was consumed with fire and with smoke.
Approximately 4.5 years later...
The Imperial Inquisitor's blade ignited with a hiss; where the sound would have once provided comfort, now the familiar snap-hiss of the lightsaber brought only fear.
Immediately, a cry erupted from Atreus' throat when he heard Miriam call out in anguish, then he felt the floor beneath his feet shudder with the collapse of her body. Beside him, the Miralukan could feel Tully struggling through the bonds and haze of drugs that had been used to sedate him, the combined power of which was just barely enough to keep the former lieutenant's fury in check.
"Miserable charkaare," the ARC snarled, his voice choked with grief in such a way that Atreus had never heard from his loyal friend, not even during the night of Order 66 nearly five years ago. "Murderer! I'll kill you myself..."
There was a ripple of dry sound that Atreus supposed was laughter, and as the Inquisitor approached, the Jedi reached out through the Force to Johari, at his other side. She was stock-still, and her breath was very short. He tried to send her a measure of strength, but it was no good; her mental wall was high and solid. Impenetrable.
So he cleared his throat. "Take me," he said, keeping his words as steady as possible. "Leave them alone...it's me that you want, anyway."
Again, the Inquisitor's laughter fell upon his ears, except this time it was accompanied by the noise of the lightsaber as it moved through the air, towards his own face; Atreus felt the heat of the blade close to his cheek, he could smell the burning plasma and hear the low, urgent buzz that was such a more sinister sound than the soft hum of a Jedi's saber.
"Let there be no doubt in your mind, Jedi," the Inquisitor said. "You will belong to me, soon enough. But I'm afraid that my orders to apprehend only Force-users negate the other part of your 'request.'"
The buzzing sound shifted, changed, and Atreus cried out as he felt Tully's presence in the Force extinguish, as though someone had pinched the flame of his life to smoke. "Vod..." The word left his mouth as a whisper, and his head dropped.
Beside him, Jo had started to tremble.
The footsteps sounded again and Atreus felt the darksider's presence roil around him, growing in strength with each passing moment. Jo gave a soft inhalation of breath and a spike of fear slipped through her guard; as a result, the Miralukan felt as though he'd been struck with a burning poker. The blade buzzed and he could tell that the Inquisitor was holding it up to her face.
"So lovely," the Imperial agent said, his tone sibilant. "I must say, silver eyes are not my preference, but I do love to watch an Echani woman move. Ah, well."
"No," Atreus said, but it was too late. Jo's bright presence was ripped away as her body slumped to the floor at his feet, and he heard the Inquisitor's blade retract. "No," he said again, but he was too dazed with the losses to form any speech beyond the simple word.
Again, the laughter. The Inquisitor took Atreus' chin and pulled his face up, as though to meet the Jedi's eyes if he'd had any. His grip was merciless. "So now you understand," the other man said. "There is nothing in this world or any other that will keep me from finding you, and when the ones that you love stand at your side, they will be cut down." He gave a chuckle. "What is it that the Jedi used to say? You cannot escape your destiny, Atreus."
A warm hand on his cheek roused him from the depths of the vision and reality came trickling back to the Miralukan. He was on his back, lying on something soft – the bunk they'd been sharing the past year or so – and he could feel the movement of Johari as she knelt beside him, pressing the backs of her cool fingers against his cheek and his arm as was her custom when he experienced a particularly intense episode. There was only a trace of worry in her voice when she spoke again. "Are you...?"
He groaned and struggled upright, pressing a hand to his forehead as he did so. "I'm fine."
"'Fine,'" she repeated with a sigh. "You've gotten as bad as Tully with that word."
They both chuckled, but he reached out to her, through the Force and with his fingertips, twining his hand in the long strands of her hair as he sought her bright presence to assure himself that she was whole. "The vision I just had...it's not relevant."
There was a slight frown in her voice even though she leaned her head into his hand. "Are you sure? It seemed...awful."
He couldn't bring himself to speak of it anymore. "I didn't mean to worry you."
Johari smiled; he felt the curve of her cheek against his skin. "I know, Atreus. But..." The smile faded and there was a warm sensation as she pressed her hand to his. "We were about to...go through with it."
The Jedi felt his throat tighten as he nodded, thinking that he wasn't sure what was worse: the thought of the woman he loved being killed because of him, or the recollection of what it was they'd mutually decided was for the best. Rather than debate the issue, he only pulled Jo close to him to kiss her, wrapping his other arm around her waist and savoring the curve of her hip and the warmth of her skin. When they broke apart he pressed their foreheads together. "And you're sure you still want this?"
She nodded. "It's the only way we can be certain, Atreus. The location where we hid the Great Holocron is too important to risk. If you're captured, you have the Force to help you withstand questioning. But me..." Her body shifted as she shrugged, and he noted a ripple of apprehension from her. "I'm no Jedi. I'm hard to read, but I know that my mind can be broken into. And," she added in a softer voice. "You know I'm right. We can't risk thinking that we'll both be...around forever."
They both were silent for a moment, recalling the conversations they'd had since placing the Great Holocron in a secure location.
"A mind trick," he said at last. "You won't remember anything from the moment we set out on this journey. It's possible that the memories can be recovered if you retrace your steps, if you have to help the Jedi search for it-"
A soft rustle of fabric sounded and he felt the movement of her arm; moments later she pressed something crystal-hard and cool against his hand. "You've left me a trail to follow, just as we discussed, and if it comes to it, I can locate the young Jedi and those clones that you saw in your vision."
He stroked her cheek. "It won't be the same afterward."
"I know, but I also know that I'll remember you," she replied with a calm assurance that frightened him because he'd never felt such a way. "I know I will, Atreus. What we have is too strong to be forgotten."
Force above and beyond, he wanted to say something. He wanted to sweep her in his arms and assure her that it would be well, that their plan to return to Tully and Mira, to pick up where they left off and discover their love all over again – without the added burden of the Great Holocron – would come about with ease. He wanted to be the things for her that had always been forbidden to him, the things that they'd so recently discovered, and were about to lose.
But it wasn't to be. Something about 'destiny' echoed in his mind and Atreus swallowed once before attempting to center himself. He knew what he was going to do, but the realization that he was leaving her to save her life – Tully and Mira's lives as well – brought him only cold comfort. Had he been able to tell her his plan, he knew she would ask him not to go through with it, but the risk was far too great to be ignored.
"Okay," he said at last, sitting up and taking her hands with his own. "Are you ready?"
"Not yet." He felt the mattress shift, then felt her lips press against his as her fingers twined in his hair, brushing it back from the cloth he wore about his eyes. They kissed as though their lives depended on it. Finally she pulled back and embraced him, her body swelling as she inhaled his scent. "I love you, Atreus."
When they were like this it was easier to wrap her mind within the Force; with her proximity and the way that she had wholly open herself to him, Atreus could follow the pathways of her thoughts and sift through the ones that he needed to shutter away for safekeeping. Traces of memory fluttered under his attention, then faded as he concentrated. He felt her grip around his shoulder tighten, then relax as he coaxed her into a peaceful sleep, trying not to think of the fact that when her eyes opened, she would not look at him and see only a mild acquaintance, because – if all went according to his plan – she would never see him again.
It's for the better, he told himself. She will die if you stay; the Imperials will find you and kill all the ones you love. Better to be found alone and spare their lives.
Before now, he'd never once had a vision about his own life, but the spurts of insights sent to him through the Force were never to be ignored.
When he'd finished, Atreus Rand lowered the woman he loved down to the bed they had shared and put his fingertips to her lips to feel the soft expulsion of her breath. The Force told him that all was well within her body, and he knew that when she awoke, everything would be different. "I love you too, Johari."
Before he left, he bent to kiss her one last time.
Lots of new OCs! As you can imagine, this is essentially setup for the rest of the fic, but I'm a bit concerned that this chapter veers between being boring – all the exposition at the intro – and overwhelming with all of the new characters, so I'm curious to know what you guys think.
To clarify, Atreus' vision at the beginning of the third section, and the narrative that follows, all take place about 4.5 years after Order 66.
Thanks for being so patient while I kept pushing back the publishing date, and thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoy! :D