The trip to Rishi got postponed for a few days as my shuttle suffered from problems and a slight engine fire that I may or may not have caused by a slight crash. ArrSeven and I got out alright, though, and I got it repaired better than new. Supplies packed, contingency items packed. I chose not to take anyone else with me, in order to minimize the risk exposure for my fellow jedi. I already knew that this would be the hardest mission I’ve ever taken on.
The actual trip felt as though it lasted far longer than normal. I kept it on autopilot for most of it, spending my time in meditation and trying to prepare myself for whatever it was I might find. I recited the code over and over in my head, trying to keep my focus instead of giving in to the fear threatening to overwhelm me. Everytime I closed my eyes I could see him, hear his voice, although his words were unclear. I slept very badly, with strange nightmares of corpses with saber burns and unidentifiable flashes of pain and anger running through them. During one very bad one there was laughter that made my blood run cold.
Finally I stepped foot on the planet of my husband’s birth. It’d always been a mystery since Zack refused to speak about it, and now it always would be, to me. The realization of just how many things about him would always be hidden from me hit me like a ton of bricks and in that moment I lost my balance. I’m not sure how long I knelt there, hands touching the rich soil, my mind filled with thoughts of my lost love. Eventually I got up and went back into the shuttle, grabbing my pack in short order and headed into the jungle, focusing on any sort of imprint I could feel from Zack.
I made my way through the undergrowth, picking through briars and hacking through vines, keeping my distance from the local wildlife that I could feel watching me. I honed in to something that felt like a beacon, something that seemed to pulse with Zack’s energy, and followed that direction. Slowly the trees and growth started thinning and the terrain started getting a bit rockier. I kept a steady pace, keeping focused on my mission at hand, pushing the growing fear and anger back, which was no easy task. I indulged myself by imagining his voice talking me through the journey, laughing semi-kindly when I tripped over a vine, and grumbling at me when I took a break. When my imagination yelled, “Fierfek woman, you’ll be the death of me!” during an unfortunate incident with some of the local large toothed creatures, I had to laugh. Then I had to cry. Then I moved on.
When I finally came into his base camp my heart lept into my throat. For a moment I was relieved- it was completely untouched and peaceful. I called for him hopefully, but of course, no answer. I went into the shelter and examined his com system. It was still working, despite his worries that the conditions of the planet would ruin it. Not wanting to let my mind work over this, I focused on finding whatever it was that I had used as a beacon to find the basecamp. I closed my eyes, letting the force wash through me. When I opened my eyes I looked to a small table nearby. On it were a few small metallic parts and one bright white crystal. The crystal was what had drawn me here. I picked it up, holding it in my palm. Seeing it, having it solid in my hand, I knew that he would never, ever leave this special crystal from his favorite saber unattended.
Unable to help myself, unable to really believe what I felt, I called out telepathically, as far as I could. I drew on the Force, using it to call for him, to somehow feel him and our bond once more. The emptiness that answered me was too much and it overwhelmed me. In anguish I channelled the Force, desperate to somehow find him, but it was no use. I lost my control, objects from the campsite sailed around me as I cried out. The anger continued to rise as I fully realized that there was no answer to get, that he wasn’t coming back. I felt the power of the Force pulse out in waves from me, but only vaguely heard the cracking tree trunks, was only slightly aware of the branches and clumps of dirt flying and falling. It was too much and I must have fainted.
When i awoke I was face down in what looked like the remains of a huge natural disaster. Trees were uprooted, the shelter was gone. The campsite was completely destroyed. I tried to push my hair away from my eyes only to discover I had somehow gotten wounded, because there was tacky blood on my hand. When I examined myself I was a mess… My clothes were in tatters, snagged and torn by whatever had flown by. I had cuts on my arms and face, but the only big injury was my head, where I believe a bit of the comm hardware had hit me.
Still, held tight in my hand, I had his crystal. I picked up my pack again, this time certain. I still don’t know what happened exactly to him, but I can’t feel his presence even here, on the planet he was supposed to be on. It’s time to go home, and accept that he really has become one with the Force. The crystal will be put to good use, and I will always remember him.
May the Force be with you, Master Vel.