Author's Note:

An observant reader and fellow author has asked why Dooku's name in this story is given as Yan (pronounced "yawn") rather than Octavius. Ah, but of course there is a reason.

Dooku's given name at birth was Octavius Dooku of Serreno. However, Jedi customarily do not retain names which are significant of rank and superior social status, and "Octavius" denotes that Dooku is the eighth successor in the Serrenoan patrilineal dynasty of his homeworld. As a young man, he therefore chose the humble name Yan instead. A bit of authorial irony, perhaps: I find it amusing that just as Luke does actually signify "Light" (or "bringer of Light", depending which etymology you consult) the real name Yan (along with Ian, Ewan, Euan, Sean, Juan, John, Jon, Ivan, Giovanni, Johann, and all the other derivatives of the name) means "God is gracious." Dooku is nothing if not gracious, in accord with his aristocratic temperament. It is also fun to note that "-yan" is (a Western transliteration of ) the Japanese suffix indicating familiarity or a humble status, rather the opposite of "-san" which denotes respect and formality.

Naturally, when Dooku later renounced the Jedi path and took up his hereditary rank and wealth, as Count of Serreno and later as lord of the Sith, he reverted the more splendid and august title of Octavius, and of course he was appropriately dubbed Darth Tyrannus by his Sith mentor. So you see, there is much in a name – in this case, the complex history of an individual

Even if "it sounds like Yam." What's wrong with yams? They are nutritious and have a lovely color. Thank you for reading, and for all the lovely feedback!

-r.b.


Inheritance

23.

"What do you mean, you can't say anything?"

Force help me, but Anakin must be the single most challenging Jedi Padawan ever to join the ranks of the Order. He eagerly accepted the commission to broaden his acquaintance with the young Feorians, clearly in a spirit to make amends for his most recent transgression – and yet now, upon his triumphant return from his first solo reconnaissance assignment, he flat out refuses to make a report.

"I'm sorry, master – really. Only I promised."

Oh, dear. Promises are a dangerous thing, young one. Be careful not to make them lightly. "You promised not to tell me what you saw?"

He nods, looking distinctly nervous. His mouth twists to one side, and his snub nose scrunches upward in a peculiar mannerism all his own. "Um… sorta. I told Yonso I wouldn't tell you a word, actually. 'Cause he wasn't going to let me come any further unless I swore and stuff. And a Jedi keeps his word."

Well, then. "A Jedi does keep his word," I agree, reluctantly. "Which is why he does not give it without due consideration. Your duty is to the mission – in this case, to find out what you could and to inform me, or Master Windu."

"I know," he replies, squirming in place a little. "So I kinda tried to do it both ways, like you do sometimes. You know, when you make people think something but it depends on your point of view really."

Why do I suddenly feel so uneasy? Example teaches what words cannot. I choose not to dwell on the obvious implications of his statement. "What do you mean?"

"Well…." My Padawan informs me, hesitantly. "I swore that I wouldn't tell you anything. So… maybe… I could show you instead?"

"I don't think it would be wise to return to wherever you've been so soon," I answer. The boy is inexperienced, and given to brash action. If the youthful insurgency has a secret, it is unlikely to be left without a guard or sentinel of some kind. I can sense the suspicion in this community, like a thick humidity in the air.

"No," Anakin pouts. "I mean, the other way. Like that game we played before. You know, where we practiced showing memories and stuff."

The visualization exercise? Yes, I suppose that might work. Technically, it doesn't involve telling anything – sharing experiences through a Force bond is more in the nature of immediate perception than conscious communication. But – "I was the one projecting. Do you think you can do the same? We never practiced –"

"I can do it," he pipes up, as though I have suggested that he might not be able to walk a straight line or balance on one foot. "I didn't know why you made such a big deal about it the first time."

Oh, really? Might it be that it took me almost five years of intense practice with Qui-Gon to master the art? But I know better than to question him when he speaks with such brassy confidence. More than once, Anakin Skywalker has proved my dubiety unfounded, when it applies to his abilities. As I said, he is unique.

"Very well. Show me, then - my casuistical, equivocating young Padawan."

A blank stare.

"Just show me." I spread my palms outward, and he shrugs, pressing his own much smaller hands against them. His fingers only reach halfway to the tips of mine, in a subtle irony; for surely it is I who feels dwarfed by his talent and potential? The Force can be cruel, if one is foolish enough to ponder its every nuance. Sometimes it is better to laugh graciously at the joke played upon oneself.

He closes his eyes and frowns, concentrating. The Force surges at his command, an invisible vortex tugging at my mind. Anakin has power, but little control, and I perceive too late the pitfall of this arrangement. But I do need to see what he has discovered, and so – against my better judgement – I lower my mental shields, making myself passive to the shaping suggestion of his memories.

A glacial rock, thrusting askew from the icy plains; a tunnel burrowing deep beneath it, into a natural crevass and cave system; glittering crystals – dactyl –like, familiar somehow; another passage, then another; mining equipment and primitive lights, tools; yet another opening, a dark and suffocating tunnel; and ultimately, a vast domed chamber, awash in subterranean pools, every glimmering surface reflecting the ithyll crystals, rank upon rank of them, a motherlode that must rival even the mines of the Bogden Abyss, an incalculable fortune. The Feorian youth, their leader, his firebrand's speeches and his devotees' hot affirmation of the same. And all around, within the caves, deep and ominous, the disturbed Force. I am sick with it, like it might squeeze the very breath out of my body, a poisonous sludge creeping in my veins, a spreading flood of clotted fear…

I recoil, on instinct, because that was the Dark Side. Anakin cries out in pain, clutching his temples.

My own head must surely be splitting. That was unwise. I reach for his arm, apologetically. "Anakin. I'm sorry – forgive me. I should not have broken the connection so abruptly."

The poor creature is white. I ignore the tears welling in his eyes, and he swipes an arm across his face hastily, eradicating any trace of weakness.

"That was my fault," I reassure him. "I – I did not expect the caves to feel that way."

"'S okay," he mutters. "It was pretty intense down there. It made me feel kinda woozy. Sort of like flying really fast – scared and excited all at once."

It did? Force, my head hurts. Should I be concerned that he finds the Dark intoxicating and terrifying at once? But why is that problematic? Is that not its very nature? I swallow, steadying my breath. "Anakin," I say, carefully. "Do you know what those crystals were? Do you understand the possible ramifications of this… secret trove?"

He shakes his head. "Well… it's good, right?" When I don't answer, he squints in confusion. "It's bad?" He asks. Then, "It's gonna make a lot of trouble, either way?"

You might say that again. And the jabuur-weki remains…. elusive.

"I need to speak with Master Windu," I tell him, as gently as possible.

He still explodes. "You can't! He's on the cheiftain's side!"

He has much to learn. "As Jedi, we are not on anyone's side," I remind him, sternly. "We are here to promote peace. And we must decide what is to be done."

"What about the jabuur-weki?" he insists. "That cave is its lair. Yonso and Lorra both said so. It might get mad and kill more people if you do anything."

It might indeed – and it might indulge in another murderous spree even if we do nothing.

But in either case, one thing remains a constant in my mind: I have a very bad feeling about this.