Katooni woke up late that day and heard Hondo shouting that all of the Jedi were dead. She rolled over and pressed her cheek against her faded brown pillow, licking her lips to try to get rid of the chapped feel and stale taste.

Katooni was fourteen.

She knew the names of most planets in the heavily-populated Mid Rim. She knew how to dress a wound and beat a man three times her size and she knew that Hondo Ohnaka's opinion on children changed by the day.

Some time between his capture by Grievous and their escape from the Separatists on Florrum, Hondo had decided that parts of his opinion on Katooni, anyway, always stayed the same.

Hers hadn't always been the same about him. Leaving the Jedi hadn't been easy but had happened logically, really. Katooni was a Jedi. She still couldn't quite think of herself as a pirate. When she got up and dressed she picked her way across the snoring Weequay females on the floor of the packed dorm and went to the fresher, splashing water from her hands onto her face. She fixed her dislodged headdress, gently moving it back into place.

Her decision to leave the Jedi had not been gentle, but it had been logical.

She wouldn't have to be the last one to build her lightsaber any more. She wouldn't have to think about how she couldn't save herself when Petro broke her out of the ice on Ilum. (The same day on which Master Yoda had lied to them to make them afraid. Maybe older Jedi could have been able to detect the lie in the Force. Katooni had heard in the Temple that they could do that. She wasn't sure now. She supposed she would never know.) She didn't want to go back.

Hondo had turned the Jedi delegates away whenever they found him.

"She doesn't want to go back," he said. "This isn't a rescue mission."

The delegates had seemed to sense the truth in that.

Hondo also lied sometimes.

Katooni heard "The Jedi are dead!" echoing through the halls of the ship, invading the males' dorm and the kitchen and the smelly cloister where the monkey-lizards slept, and couldn't tell whether he was lying or not.

Clothes and headdress arranged, she emerged onto the bridge sleepy and quiet. When Hondo saw her he turned, his eyes hidden behind his goggles, all brown and scaly like his skin.

"Which Jedi?" Katooni said.

"All of them!" He spun across the room, pinwheeling his arms. "Every single one! Their temple." He stopped by a Weequay sitting at a dusty screen, grabbing him by the shoulders so hard that he almost fell out of the chair. "What happened? Can we get in? All the jewels and crystals and holo...whatever they call them, ours for the taking!"

"Holocrons," said Katooni, and when Hondo looked back at her his face fell into an attitude of worry: lowered eyebrows, lowered corners of his mouth.

"Holocrons. Got that, Katooni? We'll be rich. Holocrons at the most premium of premiums."

He seemed stuck on the word, like it was a totem. Something that would save him.

She said, "Who killed them?"

She wished she knew whether he was lying.

If she had stayed, maybe she would have learned to use the Force to find the would have stayed with Petro and Ganodi and the others. With Ahsoka. And she would have learned Jedi things, not pirate things, and -

"I don't know. The, the army. They found some traitors in the Jedi council, or something." Hondo pinwheeled his arms, licked his lips, kissed his fingers. The Jedi Temple burning, a nice frying meal. He had looked at a screen in front of his navigator with the HoloNet News on and Katooni looked too and saw it burning.

Hondo Ohnaka, whose parents had also given him to strangers to appease a god he did not quite believe in, bent down to Katooni's side and hugged her. She looked at the gold in his braids and was reassured slightly, mentally pulling away from her rising, manic obsession with whether or not she could sense the truth.

She could sense the Jedi temple crumbling, pieces falling, people -

being snuffed out.

Maybe it was her imagination.

She couldn't be sure. She didn't have Jedi teachers any more.

And if she had stayed, she would be crumbling too.

"What's going to happen to my friends?" She said, small fists curling on Hondo's shoulders, and he stood up underneath her, dislodging her hands. She said, "What's going to happen to me?"

"Nothing!" He said. "Nothing is going to happen to you. You are going to live your life. You are pirate now. No Jedi."

"But they - something happened to them. I need to know."

"Ah. We can know. We can set a course, although be very careful - I do not like the look of this Empire. Too many laws. We will...watch. And wait. And I will learn."

"And I'll learn," Katooni said, again approaching the screen like it was a creature that might bite her if she scared it. The scene was all red and orange and smokey. Fire had a lot of colors it was difficult to describe: they looked like they should be on the undersides of things, and they had turned over, shining. Fire was the world turned inside out. The guts of the world.

The guts of the Jedi Temple, and now Katooni turned away and Hondo wasn't there for her. She swayed in the middle of the bridge while he gave commands.
"Not yet," Hondo said to the backs of his pilot's and navigators' heads. He had changed his mind quickly. "We must find more out. Empire people are cunning people. But go! Go to Coruscant space. Fly quietly, like a little birdie." His hands played invisible keyboards in the air. Katooni imagined birds walking across keys. Small, blue, tropical birds like they had in the Room of One Thousand Fountains.

News could lie. The HoloNet could lie.

She blinked at her tears and thought There is no emotion; there is peace.

There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.

She had to know. She had to find out, somehow, since the Force had never taught her to see truth. Maybe Jedi couldn't even see the truth. That had just been a rumor, like the rumor that Yoda was two thousand years old or that if you went far enough into The Works there were plains of black sand that used to be buildings until Coruscant quietly and unobtrusively pulled them down with gravity and time.

She had thought, in a quiet part of her mind, that she could go back to trading rumors one day. That if she wanted to, after she was done being or pretending to be a pirate, she could go back to Yoda and Ganodi.

There is no passion. There is serenity. The truth of it flowed through her. The Force was still out there, calm and blue and sparkling like the crystal caves or like her lightsaber. It let her get through the last line of the code and come out on the other side feeling her tears dried and her skin clean. There is no death; there is the Force. This was an obvious truth.

She crossed the bridge and put a hand on Hondo's shoulder. He turned and looked at her like just now he had noticed that she was getting taller.

"What is it, floppy-hat child?"

Sometimes he acted like he had never met her before. She liked that.

She said, "When you go, to get the Holocrons, I want to come with you."

He looked out at the stars. The ship had come out of hyperspace to bank around and set a new course for the Core.

He looked back at her and nodded.