The royal guard swung the pike down hard missing Oollana as she side-stepped the attack and the metal rod thudded on the floor. The guard had overextended himself and so Oollana turned her body and swept his feet out from under him allowing him to continue his forward motion all the way to the floor. The guard turned over on his back and raised his hands in submission. He was breathing heavily and Oollana could see the heaves of his chest even under the blue royal armor that he wore. She knew him to be the guard known as Benjamin.
“Okay, okay” Ben panted. “I know when I’m beat.”
Oollana extended a hand and helped him back to his feet. She smiled.
They were aboard the Royal Falcon, the king’s personal transport. She and Julius had made their rendezvous with the king as promised and were now speeding to the drop off point three parsecs away. The Royal Falcon was a large ship and was much too plush for Oollana’s tastes but the accommodations were excellent including a sparring room where she, Benjamin and the other guard, Gerald were honing their skills. It had started when she saw Ben and Gerrald sparring each other and it wasn’t long before they invited her to try since they were eager to test their skills against a “jedi”. The sparring matches between them had been fairly even as the guards had been well trained. Oollana did not mention to them that she had not called on the force at all in the 4 matches because she felt it was unnecessary and would be unfair in these friendly matches. But she suspected that they held back as well since they were testing her strengths and weaknesses.
Gerald, who had been watching the last match, stepped forward with his pike as Benjamin was walking over to the lockers to get a drink. “Well done, Oollana. You have proven yourself to be quite capable but I think it is time to step it up a notch, don’t you?” As he finished his statement he turned on his pike and the crackling of energy sputtered at both ends of his pike. “Set for stun of course” he added with a smirk.
Oollana was not particularly comfortable with fighting with a pike but was not about to pull out her lightsaber for this contest. She was going to have to improvise the best she could. She set her pike for stun. “I must warn you Gerald, at the Enclave I train while the masters hold Bantha prodders against my skin so I won’t feel a thing.” She smirked back at him with a crooked smile.
Gerald laughed. “Did you see that, Ben? A jedi with a sense of humor, who would have thought?”
Gerald and Oollana began to spar again and failed to notice the entrance of a fourth into the room. When they were done which ended up with Oollana helping Gerald to his feet again they heard the clapping and she turned to see King Caspar watching them. “Most impressive, young jedi, but I wonder if you will be a match for those that will be striking to kill.”
Oollana walked over to the fresher and splashed water on her face and wiped it off with a towel. “I have had the misfortune of meeting more than a few people who struck to kill and I have managed to survive so far. I suppose I will do what is necessary if that occurs.”
The king looked skeptical. He stood and walked over to Ben and handed him a blaster that he produced from under his robe. Oollana watched as the king handed Ben the blaster and could see the sense of confusion and frustration wash of Ben’s face. The king had just upped the ante one more time to lethal force. The king blurted out almost casually, “I want you to subdue her with all the force necessary at your disposal. I want to see if my decision to go to the jedi was one I won’t regret.”
“No!” Oollana responded emphatically and before Ben even had a chance to obey the orders of his king the blaster in his hand collapsed in on itself as if a giant hand had grabbed it and crushed it. The energy cell crackled and sputtered as it along with the other pieces of the gun fell to the ground. Oollana lowered her hand that had focused the force to disarm Ben. “Your lack of trust in me and the jedi has clouded your judgment. Let us hope that the cloud clears before you must face your daughter’s captors. You stand to lose more than your pride.” Oollana then turned not allowing the king to respond and left the room leaving the king at a loss for words and Ben awestruck as he continued to examine the fragments of the blaster still in his hand.
A day had passed since the encounter in the sparring room and the king had kept his distance. Oollana had chosen not to focus on the incident because she had made her point. She hadn’t meant for the disarming of Ben to be so dramatic but in the moment she had decided to not make Ben have to make a choice between his king and her because she knew who he would have to choose and so the removal of the blaster from the equation had seemed the only logical choice. So instead of mulling over the incident she had chosen to spend her time with Julius going over the Praxis Princess’ floor plans. It was likely that the princess and her crew were no longer on the Praxis Princess. Clearly the princess’ captors had managed to disable the ship and so would have a ship of their own but given the lack of options it was all they had to look at. The distress beacon signal acted like a ship recorder at the time the distress call was made but it did not indicate any damage only that they were under attack. If the ship had been damaged, which was likely, it was damage that the ship took after the distress beacon was launched.
Julius and Oollana sat at a small galley table looking at the datapad when both heard the footsteps in the doorway and looked up, it was Caspar. He looked uncomfortable. “I wonder if I might have a word with you, Oollana.” Julius excused himself and the king took his seat which was across from Oollana. Oollana waited for him to speak.
“I owe you an apology.” He paused contemplating what to say next. “You were correct, I underestimated you, in perhaps ways that you are not aware of but it is a mistake that I have rectified. It was not easy asking a favor of the jedi and I suppose I resent the fact that I had to. I turned that resentment into a personal resentment of you and I was wrong so please accept my apology in the spirit that it is given.”
Oollana placed the datapad down on the table and looked directly at the king. “I appreciate your apology, your highness, but it is not necessary. While I cannot personally relate to your situation I can sympathize with it. You must feel tremendous anxiety about your daughter’s safety and to mix it with your feelings of the jedi cannot make it easy. While the incident yesterday was unfortunate I do not hold grudges or reflect on any negative feelings I might have. It is dangerous for me to do so as it is for any jedi. But I would ask a favor of you.”
The king was clearly not used to being asked for a favor but agreed hear her request.
“Can you tell me why the Barovian government opposed the building of the Jedi Enclave on Medea?”
Caspar had not expected this and was clearly taken aback and his mind reeled as images of the past flooded his memory. “You jedi are quick to the point, aren’t you.” He rubbed his chin in thought. “Alright, I will tell you. Not because it will change anything but because I owe you at least that.” He took a deep breath and then began.
“Before the great war I was a young prince and I was bold and cocky and I took chances thinking that I was untouchable. But on one occasion in particular I found that I was not as untouchable as I thought and found myself in a fight for my life against a street gang who had managed to disable my transport. I fought them off as best I could along with my bodyguards but one by one my bodyguards fell and it wasn’t long before I was the last one left. Eventually I was shot in the shoulder and I fell. I was surrounded and I pleaded for my life but they were not in the mood for mercy. But as I was preparing for death a woman came crashing into the gang that surrounded me and I remember the beautiful sight of her light sword whirling about her in a blur and the gang members fleeing before her fury.”
“She was a jedi of course and I owed her my life. But she was, as I came to learn later, no ordinary jedi. She was a jedi on the run. She had been a padawan learner of jedi named Rancis Ovanare who had been killed on Medea a few months before we met. I do not know the details of the death of this jedi master but this jedi woman who saved my life had reason to believe that she was next and had been in hiding. It was only blind luck that she came across me and my plight that afternoon. But nonetheless she took me to my father and he rewarded her with a place to stay in the royal city. Eventually I would come to love this woman and she would eventually become my first wife and thus a princess in her own right.”
Oollana looked at the king confused. This did not sound at all familiar from the history texts of the Bovarian government on Medea. The king picked up on her confusion.
“Oh yes, if you can find a reference to her in history you would know her as Lady Katerina. Details of royal history in the texts are often sketchy at best and that is done purposefully. But she never went back to her Jedi ways and seemed the happier for it. It was a very happy time for us and eventually she became pregnant with twins. By this time, though, the great war was in full swing. The jedi and the sith seemed to be fighting everywhere in the universe all at once. She did her best to keep her secret hidden but it did not last. About a month before the twins were to be born I was away on business when I received an urgent message to return home at once. Lady Katerina had been attacked and had been grievously wounded and as a result of the wound she had given birth prematurely to the twins. By the time I got to her bedside she was in a coma and dying quickly. The boy twin had also died and so only the girl survived.”
“Princess Katerina?” Oollana asked.
“Yes, she survived and today is still my only link to the woman I loved dearly. I was only able to learn of what happened through my trusted Aid-de-camp who had been with her. A few days earlier she had been visited by a jedi. According to my aid the discussion behind closed doors had gotten very heated and the jedi eventually left very angry and Lady Katerina had been furious. A couple of days later she was attacked and the wound in her chest was a lightsaber wound. My aid had not learned the name of the jedi but in the day after the attack, as I was trying desperately to get home to her, she went on and on about not letting the jedi have her babies. But by the time I got there she was no longer talking and slipped away from her wounds shortly after my arrival. Tragically my aid also disappeared a few days after her death and there was evidence that he had been killed but we never found the body. After that I collected my child and we went into seclusion and were guarded around the clock until the war itself ended which was several months.” The king took a long pause to collect himself from what was obviously a difficult story to tell. “A jedi killed my wife. I know it was just one jedi but it was the teachings of the jedi that allowed for this to happen and so I blame all jedi for her death. This is why I opposed the Enclave and today is the most I have ever said to another jedi since that time. I only went to the jedi in desperation to help me save my daughter.”
Oollana knew there were problems with the story and wanted to explore them but she knew that the king had shown great humility in telling her the story. She would not dishonor that kindness now by pressing for detail. “Thank you your Highness. It must have been very hard to recount the loss of your wife.” She paused a little uncertain about asking the question she was about to ask. “Do you have any recent pictures of your daughter?”
The king looked at her, his eyes narrowing. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, I think I may be able to find her and get a sense of her surroundings and general health if I can see what she looks like now.”
“How is that possible?” the king asked.
Oollana knew she was going to have to explain. “I don’t use this technique often because it can be intrusive to some but Master Bernare taught me a technique at the Enclave that will allow me to find someone far away and know if they are safe or not. I can get more information like their general surroundings but the purpose of the technique is to determine if that person is in imminent danger. The downside to such a technique is that you may learn of their imminent danger or even death and be unable to do anything about it.”
The king’s eyes softened and he reached into his robe and produced a datapad. He punched in a few keys and set it on the table and turned it towards Oollana. “These pictures were taken of the two of us on our last vacation together. She turned 22 this year which is a significant time in her life in the royal court and we went away to Alderran for a few weeks to enjoy ourselves away from the public eye.”
Oollana looked through the pictures and saw a father and daughter clearly enjoying their time together. “May I keep this for a few hours and then return it to you with any news I can discover?”
The king stood. “Of course. I suppose I’ll need to add a ‘thank you’ to my apology.” He bowed slightly and then took his leave. Oollana could tell he was anxious. She had just got finished telling him that she could potentially tell him if his daughter was still alive or even possibly dead. She understood that this information would make any father anxious.
Posted on Curtis’ behalf