Orphan Heirs of Fixed Destiny

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"Master K'Kruhk?"

The voice was thin and reedy, and for a second the venerable Whiphid master was taken by surprise. So focused had he been on the data reader that he'd become utterly enraptured by it and forgotten his surroundings.

Not a good example, he chided himself, to be setting for the small apprentice that approached him now. She probably had not seen out her first decade yet, though K'Kruhk still had difficulty interpreting the ages of non-Whiphids, even after all these decades away from Toola. She had light brown hair, cut short just above her shoulders, and to K'Kruhk's still very Whiphid brain she brought to mind images of the small rodents that skittered across his native planet's ice plains.

Humans would have found her adorable. Without his Jedi training, he would have had trouble not thinking of her as dinner.

"Enter, young padawan," K'Kruhk said, his voice a gravelly, low-pitched growl. The polar opposite, in fact, of the young girl's own voice.

He'd set himself up in a small reading cubicle reserved for masters. Located just off the main archive chamber, it sealed its occupants away from the cavernous, shelf-lined chamber that had become so famous. K'Kruhk, as was his custom, didn't bother to close the door. Most of the apprentices and knights that roamed the halls of the Coruscant Temple, so similar to the building in which he'd been trained almost two centuries before, knew better than to disturb him.

In that moment, he realised why the distinctive tang of human fear hormones were tickling the back of his powerful nose. The girl was nervous. He did his best to approximate a smile, and injected soothing tones and Force overlays into his voice when he said: "What can I do for you?"

The girl, subconsciously, tugged her thin padawan's braid. "My name's Fliri Tomm. I'm apprenticed to Master Vastra."

K'Kruhk inclined his mighty head. "I know your master well, young Fliri. What brings you to Coruscant?"

"My master and I are being reassigned," the girl explained, and K'Kruhk was gratified to feel her tension bleeding away through the Force. Indeed, as she spoke her voice grew stronger, showing off her growing confidence. "We just finished a patrol of the Ottega Sector."

K'Kruhk nodded.

"Anyway," Fliri said, continuing, "my master assigned me a few tasks while she was being debriefed ahead of our reassignment."

"Oh?" K'Kruhk asked, his interest piqued. "What tasks were they?"

Fliri frowned, as though she was having trouble articulating what she was trying to say. "Well, Master K'Kruhk, when we were out in the Ottega sector we ran into a caravan of Ferroans."

K'Kruhk's shoulders suddenly tightened. "Potentium Force adepts, by any chance?"

Fliri raised her eyebrow, surprised. "How did you know?"

The Council had received reports of a resurgence of Potentium proselytising coming out of Zonama Sekot. The Ferroans, an alien species that made up a sizeable minority of the living planet's population, had long been believers in the Potentium view of the Force; specifically the philosophy held that, instead of existing in terms of light and dark, the Force was amoral. The concepts of light and dark, they argued, were constructs imposed upon the Force by sentients, and so were prone to the uniquely sentient follies of ambiguity and capriciousness.

Though the Order, after the Yuuzhan Vong War had torn the galaxy apart almost a century earlier, had briefly adopted the Potentium as doctrine, it had quickly been rejected. The Order had returned to the traditional and, K'Kruhk believed, correct view that the Force had a distinct light and dark side. The Potentium view, K'Kruhk thought, was laced with too much ambiguity, too much potential for abuse. The Ferroans themselves, known for their independent and reclusive natures, rarely left Zonama Sekot, making the advent

Still, he didn't want to share this with Fliri. Better to let her reach that conclusion on her own. "We on the Council have our sources," he told her, modulating his voice to inject humour into his tone.

"Oh, right," the girl said, as though chastened. K'Kruhk felt a tiny flash of guilt at her evident confusion and discomfort. Humour, he found, rarely translated well across species, but the effect was heightened across generational gaps; it was harder, though, for a Jedi Master to tell a joke to a padawan than it was for a Sullustan to get a laugh out of an Ithorian.

He sighed. "What is your assignment, Fliri?"

"To learn more about what my master calls 'grey Jedi'," Fliri said, and frowned. "I don't really understand what that's supposed to mean, though. Grey Jedi? Isn't there just light and dark?"

K'Kruhk allowed himself a small smile. "Did your master send you to me specifically?"

Fliri nodded.

Perhaps, K'Kruhk lamented, Seleen Vastra, Fliri's master, had paid closer attention to his history lecturers than her exam results had reflected. "Well, my padawan, you have come to the right place indeed. Yes, there is light and dark; good and bad, right and wrong. There are those, however, both among the Jedi and outside our Order who choose to straddle or test the limits of those boundaries. Those that have done so without slipping to the dark side are those we can safely call grey Jedi."

"Are there grey Sith?"

K'Kruhk was taken aback by the question. "I would say that, perhaps, yes, there have been grey Sith scattered throughout history. As grey Jedi, though, so often become dark Jedi, I would suggest that grey Sith may often have simply become Sith, drenched in the dark side and slave to its power."

Fliri shuddered. "That doesn't sound good."

"No," the ageing Whiphid master agreed. "It does not. The most famous grey Jedi I can think of was a man named Jolee Bindo. He lived millennia ago, and spent much of his life exiled to a world named Kashyyyk."

"Homeworld of the Wookiees," Fliri said, nodding. She was smiling, K'Kruhk noted. "My master and I went there last year."

K'Kruhk nodded. "Good friends to the Jedi, the Wookiees. Good friends to Jolee Bindo, as well. He departed their company, and began to travel with a man named Revan."

"I've heard that name," Fliri said, but her expression made it clear that she was not sure where.

"I should hope so," K'Kruhk said, somewhat disturbed by the girl's ignorance, but before he got lost on that tangent, he changed tack. By way of his age and prominence in both the old Jedi Order and the new, he'd become the de facto historian laureate, and he'd found that the role, unofficial though it was, suited him. "Regardless, Bindo and Revan parted ways and Bindo took to a cave somewhere to record his holocron. His thinking has been preserved and passed down throughout the millennia. I can suggest a few commentaries on the topic to you, for your research."

Fliri nodded, grinning. "That would be great."

"There are other grey Jedi of note, however," K'Kruhk said, inserting a tone of concerned warning into his words. "A good student of history never wants to be sidetracked by one example of a phenomenon."

Fliri nodded, and pulled a small datapad from a pouch clipped to the belt of her apprentice's robes. "Go on, master, please."

K'Kruhk smiled. He decided he liked this girl. "The term 'grey Jedi', as I'm sure you've guessed, is a controversial one and should not be approached uncritically. A contemporary of mine in the old Jedi Order by the name of Qui-Gon Jinn was often called a grey Jedi."

Fliri took this down. "But, master, what about grey Sith?"

K'Kruhk was struck by the way she had come back to that topic. Sheltering her from knowledge of the Sith would do her no good were they ever to rise again, as had long been predicted. "I can think of several, but the most contemporary example…"

He trailed off, Fliri watching him expectantly. "Who was it, Master?"

K'Kruhk frowned. "A young woman. Powerful. Emotional. Misguided. I knew her very briefly. Indeed, I only met her once. She was very young at the time, but even then I could sense her potential. Had she lived at any other point in Jedi history, she would have risen to become a highly placed member of the Jedi Council, a warrior or healer or philosopher or teacher of great renown. As it happened, she was born just a few years before the Purge that destroyed the old Order."

Fliri blinked. "Wow. I can't even imagine that. The whole galaxy turning against the Jedi? Destroying us like that?"

Smiling sadly, the old master nodded. "History shows us that it has happened before and, if we are not vigilant could happen again."

She girl nodded, swallowing. K'Kruhk hoped he hadn't disturbed her, but she was a soon-to-be-Jedi. No doubt she'd seen things in the galaxy that would have opened her to the knowledge that not everything could be peaceful forever. At long last, she asked, "What was her name?"

"Her name was Maris," K'Kruhk said, "but that is merely the name she was born with. It does not truly represent her identity."

"Then what does?" Fliri asked, clearly confused. "I mean, if your name doesn't signify who you are, then what can?"

"Oh, make no mistake," K'Kruhk said, "there is a lot of power in a name. But names change, they are altered. New personas are adopted as the old are passed over or forgotten. The name given to this woman at her birth is not the name she wore at her death. She carried many monikers with her in her life; she was Maris Brood. She was Jedi. She was madwoman. Exile. Healer. Eventually, yes, she was Sith."

Fliri straightened up, as though surprised by something. "Can you tell me more about her?"

K'Kruhk frowned. "Why so curious?"

"I…" Fliri trailed off. "I don't know."

"Curiosity is healthy," K'Kruhk said, "but you must never let it get the better of you. I shall tell you, Fliri, of the woman born Maris Brood. You must promise me, though, that you will remain mindful and will discuss with your master everything you learn here."

"I promise, Master K'Kruhk," Fliri nodded, wide-eyed.

The aged Whiphid bowed his grizzled head for a moment, wondering where he should start. "What do you know of a Darth Traya?"

A/N: The title of the prelude, 'Orphan Heirs of Fixed Destiny', is a line from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor. This part of the story takes place roughly five years before the beginning of the Legacy comics and more than a century after the bulk of the rest of the story.

K'Kruhk is a well known Jedi Master from the expanded universe. He's appeared in the comics, most notably Republic and Legacy, where it's shown that he not only escaped Order 66 but survived to become a highly respected master in the New Jedi Order.

Fliri and her master are my invention. The Ottega sector is the location of the planet Ithor, which was destroyed by the Yuuzhan Vong in Michael Stackpole's Dark Tide II: Ruin. Zonama Sekot is now the homeworld of the Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars galaxy, but is also home to the Ferroans. Both the planet and the species were introduced in Rogue Planet.

Jolee Bindo is from The Knights of the Old Republic, and Maris Brood is from The Force Unleashed. Maris is the main character of this piece, but she's going to be peripheral for a while. Darth Traya is from The Knights of the Old Republic II: The SIth Lords.