The abrupt termination of the energy flows between Rachel and the cubic object on her desk was enough to jog her out of her dozing state and back to full wakefulness. It was done. The plain looking metallic cube on her table had been manipulated in all the correct ways according to the rituals she had learned as both a Jedi and a Sith, and should have been, if all was well, had been transformed into a Jedi holocron. The first she'd ever made unless you counted the Sith holocron constructed by Darth Revan just before her betrayal at the hands of her apprentice.
She hefted the cube in her right hand, surprisingly light even for its relatively small size, and spoke clear and authoritatively. "Activate!"
"I am Rachel Giles, Jedi Knight," said the small holographic image that immediately came to life above the cube in response to Rachel's words.
"You are functional?" asked Rachel.
"I am," said the hologram. "It's all quite strange, but I am, as far as I can tell, fully functional."
"Excellent," said Rachel. "You can determine whether I am Sith?"
"You do not appear to be," said the hologram. "But you of all people would be able to conceal that from me."
"True," said Rachel. "Deactivate."
It was, perhaps, a little abrupt, but Rachel really wasn't of a mind to have a conversation with another version of herself. It was far too close to various forms of mental illness for her tastes.
"Bit plain, isn't it?"
"I see little reason to bother with an elaborate design, Jolee," said Rachel. "And I was beginning to think I was rid of you."
"Well, I'm easily bored," said Jolee. "And getting paraded around giving silly little speeches wasn't something I really felt like watching you do."
"Sorry to disappoint you," said Rachel. "But I was just having so much fun myself, you know. Couldn't bring myself to stop."
"Yeah, you looked utterly engrossed," said Jolee. "I honestly thought you were going to fall asleep at the podium the one time I watched one of those speeches."
"No-one else seemed to notice," said Rachel with a raised eyebrow.
"I'm a Jedi," said Jolee. "I can tell. And I've come to know when Revan's bored; normally means she's about do something insane and, hence, entertaining. Or highly dangerous when I was still alive, but I don't quibble."
"Whatever," said Rachel. "I assume you have a reason for appearing here now?"
"Eh," said Jolee. "I felt like coming by here so I came. I'm old, and dead, I'm allowed a random whim or two."
"Old and dead?" asked Rachel. "As opposed to just being dead? Huge difference there."
"There is!" said Jolee. "Shows I wasn't stupid enough to get myself killed before I was good and ready! Badge of honour amongst us dead folk, it is, with all the stupid kids that keep getting themselves killed."
"There's a community of the dead?" asked Rachel. "Really?"
"Sort of," said Jolee. "And no, I can't, before you ask. The lad you were friends with was just a normal kid. He couldn't retain individuality. I'm sorry."
Rachel stared off into the distance for a moment before refocussing on Jolee. "Well, it would have been nice," she said. "So why are you here really? There has to be a reason."
Jolee shrugged. "I just wanted to see how you were doing," he said. "Didn't expect to find you in an office like this though. What happened to the Revan that couldn't be kept away from the war?"
"Maybe I'm just not her," snapped Rachel. "Or maybe I grew up enough not to repeat my mistakes. Does it really matter?"
Jolee held his hands up in a placating manner. "Hey," he said. "No need to get testy here, youngster, I'm not accusing you of anything. I'm just surprised."
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. "They'd rather have me working on new weapons technology than out there fighting," she said. "I can see where they're coming from."
Jolee made a dismissive noise in the back of his throat. "They're wrong," he said. "Dead wrong. I've seen what you can do in a war and it's worth a damn sight more than better guns. You've still got that swirly Force around you so you've probably got a destiny and you won't fulfil that in a lab."
"You never know," said Rachel. "It might be my destiny to fall in an experimental fusion reactor and blow the planet up."
Jolee looked like he'd been caught completely off-guard for a moment before he burst out laughing. "I'd forgotten about telling you that," he said. "Teach me to underestimate you again."
"Yeah," said Rachel. "And sometimes swirly force is just swirly force and not something to get all excited about. Anyway, if anyone on this planet has a great destiny to fulfil it's Dawn."
"Oh she's got plenty of it too," said Jolee. "Not like you need me to tell you that. Two of you running around at the same time. Should be interesting."
"I'm not the Chosen One," said Rachel.
"And neither is she," said Jolee. "Well, maybe if you squint real hard and tilt your head just so. Come on, you know how hard it is to be really rid of the Sith. You think it's going to happen in one lifetime? Ha! There's always more where the last one came from. They're like gizka in that way. Awful lot less cute though on the whole."
"I never took you for an animal lover, Jolee," said Rachel. "Thought you'd have had your fill of them."
"I'm not the one who keeps rescuing them," said Jolee. "You should see Revan's house. Like a zoo, it is. Kids love it. Shame about Carth. Might even have been a gizka there last I saw."
"I really, really hope that's just the one gizka," said Rachel.
"Same hope Carth has too, I bet," said Jolee. "Those things were bad enough on the Hawk."
"She's gone mad."
"Nah," said Jolee. "She's got civilised, that's all. Had enough of war. She's sorry for what she did to you, by the way."
Jolee smirked. "What?" he asked. "Didn't you think I'd talk to her about it? She'd written it off as a hallucination, you know. Didn't think it could have been real."
"I can't blame her," said Rachel with a blank expression on her face. "She really knows?"
"Yeah," said Jolee. "Said she'd been wondering about why she'd taken to that Force-forsaken pre-packaged food when she couldn't stand it before. Guess it wasn't just a one-way thing."
"Apparently not," said Rachel. "I . . . I need some sleep. Tell Revan I accept her apology."
The base's hangar bay was a hive of activity as various staff-members hurried to and fro preparing for the test flight that was to take place that day. The prototype that was to be tested was an aged A-10 that had been literally gutted and fitted out with an array of new technologies that would, when all was ready, make for an extraordinarily lethal piece of equipment, even more so than an A-10 was to start with. It was quite a sight with its new armour constructed from alien alloys; the gleaming metal finish was quite attractive in Rachel's opinion.
"Are you sure that this is a good idea?" asked Miller from his position stood next to Rachel. "You really don't think you should be the one doing this?"
"Dawn's training has advanced far enough," said Rachel. "And she has far more interest in this than I do."
"I don't like the idea of sending a kid up there as a test pilot," said Miller. "It's just not right."
"She's quite capable," said Rachel. "And there's little danger involved. If the sensor package was ready, virtually anyone could do the job."
"She's only sixteen," said Miller. "That's just . . . it's too young."
"Normally I'd agree," said Rachel. "But Dawn is an exceptional case. She is a Jedi, and she is a natural pilot."
"I've seen the film," said Miller irritably. "That kid didn't have a clue what he was doing, and your apprentice isn't him anyway."
"She's been doing well enough in the simulators," said Rachel. "Last I heard she was driving the Air Force boys mad."
And that got a tight smile from Miller. "Believe me, I appreciate that," he said. "I just don't like this. Are you sure you can't do this?"
"I never said I couldn't," said Rachel. "I can fly. But it's not something I'm particularly talented in, not like Dawn. This will be a good experience for her; an application of her powers beyond meaningless training exercises."
"I'll trust your judgement," said Miller. "But if this goes tits-up, it'll be your head on the chopping block. I'll make sure of that."
"Don't worry about it," said Rachel. "I'm not. The prototype is fully functional and Dawn is more than capable of handling it."
"Well on your head be it," said Miller. And then he left, probably to read more reports and fill in more paperwork. The joys of being general staff and yet not actually involved with anything even vaguely important. She did not envy him.
Rachel spent the next hour roaming the hangar and keeping an eye on the maintenance crew that was working on the prototype. For all her professed confidence in Dawn and the prototype, she was still a little jittery. It was, after all, a prototype. The only thing left from the original A-10 was the airframe and even that had been altered out of necessity so that the new skin - the armour - wouldn't render it entirely unaerodynamic. Each individual component was fully functional and tested in other projects. Blasters, ion engines, repulsors, concussion missiles, holographic displays, inertial dampers - all had been thoroughly tested before, but never combined like this, not in this dimension. None of her prototypes had failed disastrously before, but she certainly didn't want this to be a first time.
It was as she tore a strip off one of the maintenance crew for misaligning one of the repulsors, the poor man looked quite terrified and HK glaring at him didn't help matters, that she noticed Dawn entering the hangar. Rachel immediately sent the idiot man-child scurrying to get on with his work and crossed the hangar bay to stand in front of Dawn.
"You are prepared?" asked Rachel.
Dawn nodded enthusiastically. "I'm ready," she said, her eyes bright. "I just want to get into the air."
"Why am I not surprised?" said Rachel. "Just be careful. Remember not to push the tolerances."
"And if there's even the slightest sign of trouble, you eject," said Rachel. "Your life is more important than some damn machine."
Again Dawn nodded.
"Just remember, this isn't a simulator," said Rachel. "I know you've beaten the hell out of all comers on those things, but this is different. There's no retry button in this life."
Dawn nodded but now looked entirely distracted.
"Just be careful", said Rachel. "If you get yourself killed, I'll resurrect you and kill you myself. Understand?"
Dawn's nod at that was rather perfunctory.
"Force, if you get hurt, your mother will kill me," said Rachel. "Don't do anything stupid."
"Can I go now?" asked Dawn.
"Yes," said Rachel. "Just fly safely. Nothing extravagant."
"Already got that message, master," said Dawn.
Rachel blinked. "Cheeky brat," she said. "Go on, get on with it. No point delaying."
Dawn ran off before Rachel could say anything else. Rachel stood still where she was for a moment and watched Dawn clamber into the cockpit and don her flight helmet before turning on her heel and marching out of the hangar to go the control centre that would be directing the test.
The tests proved to be rather anti-climatic, Rachel thought. Gently circling the base at minimal speed produced no problems, more aggressive opening of the throttle produced no problems, twisting through an elaborate series of manoeuvres produced no problem, and destroying several pre-placed targets with the blaster cannon passed without any event of note. All in all, the early tests were a great success, not that they'd done anything that a normal fighter refitted with blasters couldn't do.
It was as they prepared for the second-stage of the planned tests that Rachel felt a disturbance in the Force. It wasn't much, just a twinge, but it was enough for her to be perturbed. Within a moment she was by Miller's side and speaking to him in a hushed whisper.
"Miller, something's not right," she said.
"What?" he asked, looking utterly baffled. "Everything looks great to me."
"I . . . I'm not sure what it is, but I sense . . . " she trailed off and focussed her mind as she felt the disturbance grow. "Aliens. Aliens, that's it."
Miller frowned. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," hissed Rachel. "They'll enter sensor range soon enough. We have to ready the defences."
Miller looked her in the eye for just a moment and then span in his heel and began issuing orders. "Sound the air-raid siren," he shouted. "Get the scientists into the shelters and get those cannons warmed up."
Everyone just stared at him, slack-jawed.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" he barked. "MOVE!"
And then the room exploded into a frenzy of movement and barked orders as people scattered to prepare the base for imminent attack. A moment later the air-raid siren started wailing, quite possibly the most horrendously irritating sound that Rachel had ever been exposed to. She crossed the room in two long strides and grabbed the communicator from the hands of the officer at the station.
"Dawn, we have incoming," said Rachel. "Return to base."
"I can't feel anything," protested Dawn.
"You're not as attuned as I am," said Rachel. "Now get back to base."
"But I can fight them!" said Dawn. "I've got a fully-equipped fighter here, and it works fine."
"You aren't combat rated," said Rachel. "And you're not ready. Return to base immediately."
"Confirmation," called out the enlisted woman manning the comm. station. "We have UFO incursion."
"ETA?" asked Rachel.
"Two minutes, ma'am. They're coming in fast. Still waiting on confirmation of force composition."
"Dawn, return to base," said Rachel. "That's an order. Return to base."
A pause. "I can feel them now," said Dawn. "They're not far."
"Confirmation," called out the enlisted woman. "One very-large UFO, battleship class, with half-a-dozen small UFOs as escorts, believed to be large scouts."
"Dawn, you have to come down now," said Rachel. "You can't take that on your own."
"I can see them," said Dawn, her voice somewhat less confident. "They're closing in fast."
"Aerial HK units have been deployed," called out another one of the enlisted women. "They're on an intercept course now."
"DAWN!" shouted Rachel, knowing very well that those HKs were infantry support weapons and rather ill-suited to UFO interception. "Retreat. Now!"
"Too close," said Dawn, her voice strained, and then Rachel heard the sound of weapons fire over the comm. channel.
"Fuck!" shouted Rachel. "How long till we have fighter support?"
"Ten minutes at best," said Miller. "They've caught us cold, Giles. We'll have ground support weapons ready in a few seconds but your apprentice is in trouble."
"Dammit," said Rachel. "Permission to break out CM1 launchers and engage?"
"What?" barked Miller. "On foot? Are you mad?"
"That's why I'll take HK units," said Rachel. "I'll be the only person at risk, sir."
"That doesn't make me feel any better," growled Miller.
"The CM1s will be able to knock those smaller units out of the skies," said Rachel. "And Dawn's carrying enough firepower to give that battleship a beating. We need to do something. Alone, Dawn's in very real trouble."
Miller looked for conflicted for just a moment before he nodded his assent. "Fine," he said. "You have enough sense not to get yourself killed."
Rachel was out of the room before he'd finished speaking.
Rachel ended up leading half-a-dozen standard HK units and HK-47 out to the field of battle armed with all the CM-1 launchers the base's armoury had yielded when she searched it. It was vexing but unsurprising that there had been so few; it was a relatively new, and rather effective, anti-armour weapon and it was much more useful on the front-lines where it would see active use rather than on a base on the continental US that was pretty much a safe haven. Or so the theory had went.
It didn't take long to locate the aerial battle. The sheer volume of blaster fire from the base aimed at that location kind of gave it away. For a moment, Rachel did nothing more than watch through Force-enhanced eyesight as Dawn span her fighter through a torturous series of manoeuvres to avoid alien fire all the while spraying the enemy vessels with blaster fire. She couldn't help but wince at one near miss that she was sure had scorched the paintwork on the fighter. The only evidence of involvement from the aerial HK units she could see laid in the piles of twisted, smoking scrap metal dotted around. Dawn was on her own up there.
"Aim weapons," ordered Rachel. "Target the scouts."
"Aiming," came the synchronised reply.
Dawn then slid her fighter in-between a volley of missiles - a move which had Rachel grinding her teeth in worry - before nailing one of the scouts with a volley of blaster fire that send it spiralling away belching thick, black smoke from half-a-dozen places.
Seven red missiles sped away at tremendous velocities the moment she issued the order. The UFOs never stood a chance. Two of the scouts were blown clean out of the sky by concentrated hits and another had a massive hole blown through one of its section and immediately began to lose altitude as what looked like coolant fluids started to vent out of the hole.
"Statement: that was a most unsatisfying burst of wanton destruction," said HK.
"Worked well enough, though," said Rachel as she watched Dawn slip a plasma beam and strafe along the battleship, pelting it with blaster fire as she went.
"Query: perhaps they will land troops so that I may slaughter them?"
"It's possible," said Rachel. "That scout . . . "
"Statement: it appears to be approaching us," said HK.
"Scatter!" ordered Rachel. "Find some cover!"
The droids scattered at high speed but Rachel stayed stock still, watching as the UFO came in. There was no point running, not from this. The yields on the weapons a UFO were was just far too high for her to dodge or defend against, and she would be the primary target; the droids were nothing to the aliens, and she had killed one of their commanders. It was inevitable that she would be the one who got their attention.
The aliens obviously weren't too worried about her fighting back. Their approach was positively leisurely in nature and there was no long-range fire to take her out. They came in ever closer, right up till they were so close that she could see the glowing ports that their weapons fired from. And then she felt that ripple in the Force that could only mean they were about to pull the trigger.
And then she moved. One moment she was stood stock still staring into the maw of the enemy, and the next she was vaulting high up into the air as the ground she had been standing on exploded under the impact of a plasma beam. Landing in a crouch on top of the UFO, she drew and ignited her sabre before starting work on cutting her way through the hull material. According to all tests, the hull armour on the scout class was weak enough for a sabre to cut through it. It was just a matter of using the Force to keep herself attached to the hull and time.
Almost immediately, the UFO twisted through a barrel roll and then soared up into the sky gaining altitude at a tremendous rate. It was all Rachel could do to keep breathing as the air thinned out and the wind rushed by her, but she was damned if she was going to let them beat her. She knew a few tricks. As breathing became just about impossible, she tapped into the Force just a little bit more and began to use a little thing her master had taught her to sustain her body using trace amounts of oxygen from her lungs. It wasn't pleasant, but it kept her conscious.
Eventually the blade reached its starting point and the disc she'd cut around her feet collapsed into the ship, taking her with it. The area of UFO she fell into was entirely unidentifiable, just generic metallic walls and floor, and quite empty. She took a moment to catch her breath, and then she strode across to a door and hit the switch to open it. The look on the aliens' faces on the other side of the door was a picture. The already bulbous eyes of the Sectoids seemed to pop right out of their faces when they saw Rachel walk through the door with her blade ignited.
The alien closest to the door went for the pistol it had hanging at its waist immediately but Rachel's blade shortened him by a head before he could get into a firing position. Another lunged out of its chair but tripped over its own feet and landed at face-first Rachel's feet making it rather easy for her to just stab the blade down and end its existance. The third, and final, alien just froze, sitting and staring at her with those huge dark eyes. For a moment, her conscience stirred. It was unarmed and making no move to threaten her, and it looked rather child-like. She killed it anyway.
With that room cleared, she moved on. The next door led into the UFO's command area. The two aliens in there didn't so much as twitch a muscle away from their seats in front of the UFO's controls as she crept in and cut their heads off from behind. And with that she could feel no more living alien presences on the damaged UFO.
Rachel was almost thrown off her feet immediately as the UFO's inertia-damping systems were defeated by the damage the UFO had sustained and the force of the UFOs descent was unexpectedly applied to her. It was all she could to stay on her feet and not be struck by flying corpses as the floor lurched underneath her. She just had to . . . ah. It was at that point that the realisation that she was in a sinking ship with no idea how to sail it out of trouble struck her.
She eyed the control panel frantically, but it made little sense to her. She understood little of the alien language and there wasn't much to go on anyway. Much of the alien technology was operated mind-to-mind and no-one really knew how to access anything beyond the simplest basics of it. On top of that, all her senses were screaming at her that she had no time to waste trying to puzzle out the workings of alien control systems. Well, that left her with only one option.
Rachel planted her feet to the ground and reached with one out-stretched arm as she called the Force to her command. For a moment she simply allowed it to flow through her and fill her with its power before she shaped it into action. She channelled it outwards through her outstretched arm and wrapped it around the rapidly falling UFO in a telekinetic grip of incredible strength. It then became a battle of which was stronger: Rachel's will or the forces bringing the UFO down to Earth at catastrophic speeds. And it proved to be a titanic battle indeed.
As strong as she was, Rachel wasn't quite strong enough to simply arrest the descent of the UFO; it just had too much damn momentum. But she could apply her strength to slowing the descent and to evening out the path the UFO was falling along. Tendons immediately tensed and grew visible along her neck and arm as she strained with all her might to bring the UFO down safely. Long moments passed with only the slightest alterations in course and velocity as gravity battled with Rachel's command of the Force and a sheen of sweat covered Rachel's flesh as the strain began to tell on her.
But she wouldn't let it beat her. No force of nature was going to destroy her. She redoubled her efforts, drawing on every iota of power she could find, and applied it to the UFO, and it began to slow. Ever so slowly, the fall began to slow and the course began to even out as she pulled the nose of the UFO up. Emboldened by that success, she drew deeper yet upon the reserves of power she had access to, and the UFO began to slow further, began to approach a reasonable velocity.
And then the UFO slammed into the ground. Rachel was unable to hold her footing, drained as she was, and she was thrown off her feet and bounced around with everything else as the UFO crashed down and slid along the ground before coming to a halt.
"I am never doing that again," groaned Rachel from her upside-down position propped up against one of the walls.
After taking a moment to catch her breath, Rachel levered herself away from the wall and back onto her feet and then walked, ever so slowly, to the UFO's exit.
The battle had ended very soon after Rachel's spot of bother. With four of the UFOs knocked out of the air, Dawn had been in very little danger, and the Air Force boys had arrived soon after Rachel exited the UFO. A full squadron of interceptors against what was, by then, a force consisting of a single already damaged battleship had proved to be a complete massacre. Even a battleship couldn't survive many missiles volleys from that many enemy fighters.
The base was absolute chaos when Rachel led the HKs back in. Some of the attention fell upon her, a few handshakes and slaps on the back, that sort of thing, but most of it was falling upon Dawn, who looked quite happy about it all. The last Rachel saw of her before Miller pulled her away from the crowds was them hoisting Dawn up onto their shoulders. Rachel shot Miller a questioning look when he tapped her on the shoulder, but he shook his head and motioned for her to follow him. In the end, he led her to his cramped office that was still somehow neat and tidy despite overflowing with the immense quantities of paperwork that seemed to be attracted to people who attained any sort of authority.
"Dawn seems a little more capable than I was led to believe," said Miller blandly. "Do explain."
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. "She exceeded my expectations, too," she said with a small smile. "Quite impressive, wasn't it?"
"It was that," agreed Miller with a nod as he seated himself in the battered office chair that he'd had since before Rachel had ever set foot in his office. "You know that it won't be long before people get ideas about her now, right?"
"I'm sure I'll be able to dissuade them."
"Maybe," said Miller. "Maybe not. We'll see. Might be best to work with them, though. That way you can make sure they don't pull anything too stupid."
"She's a minor," said Rachel. "I could very easily strangle any attempts to use her at birth. Her mother certainly wouldn't co-operate with anything that would put her in danger."
"Don't be so sure. These are desperate times."
"I'm hardly lacking in leverage to use should it become necessary."
"I can't argue that," said Miller. "But you might want to save it for a more important fight. Look, I don't want Dawn to be sent off to fight any more than you do. She's just too damn young for that in my book. I'm just warning you."
"And I appreciate that," said Rachel. "But I won't let anyone put Dawn in the firing line just yet."
"Yeah," said Miller. "But, well, you know how things are going. Between the Middle-East and Africa, people need a morale boost. A young, American Jedi kicking some ass would give us that. You might not get the choice."
"Well, if the army would start winning some major battles, this wouldn't be an issue," said Rachel waspishly. "It's hardly Dawn's responsibility that the world's governments have been caught with their pants down."
"Look, I'm not the one who'll try it," said Miller. "There's no point arguing with me."
"True," said Rachel with a nod. "So, was this a deliberate attack on us or a random air-strike that got lucky?"
"The force composition suggests the second option," said Miller. "That's about the normal raiding party size. We'll probably get hit again now they have us located."
"So we'll have to beef up the defences," said Rachel. "Get some interceptors stationed here. It was a stupid idea to not have any in the first place."
Miller shrugged. "I agree," he said. "Maybe they'll listen to me now."
It wasn't for several hours that Rachel was able to get Dawn away from the crowds and back to their rooms. She didn't really try all that hard, though; Dawn seemed to be enjoying herself, and there was little rush. Letting Dawn have a little time in the sun wouldn't hurt anyone. Eventually, though, she pulled Dawn away and back to the rooms they shared with Peter and Casey.
"You didn't well today, Dawn," said Rachel as they entered the rooms. "Very well indeed. You should be proud."
Dawn seemed to puff up under the praise and beamed a smile at Rachel in response.
"Of course, if you ever defy a direct order from me again, there will be serious consequences," said Rachel, her tone of voice somewhat less friendly. Before Dawn could reply, Rachel spoke again, "I didn't order you back to base for the good of my health, Dawn. Alone, you would have been killed, and what for? The base could have held its own till reinforcements arrived."
"You risked your life needlessly," said Rachel. "And that act forced me to risk mine as well. Think before you act, Dawn. Please."
"You didn't mean to," said Rachel. "Yes, I know. You can't afford to make mistakes like this, Dawn. Jedi Knights have too much riding on them to act without thinking."
"It would have been nice if you'd learned that before running off and getting yourself mixed up with the Sith," said a male voice that was far too recongnisable from behind Rachel. "Be nice if your practised it too."
"Ghost!" said Dawn, her eyes wide.
"Doesn't anyone stay dead these days?" asked Rachel as she turned to face the voice. "What are you doing here, Vrook?"
Vrook snorted. "Respectful as ever, I see," he said. "You haven't changed a bit."
"Why should I?" she asked. "I've done well enough as I am."
"An interesting perspective for a person who was the Dark Lord of the Sith," said Vrook with a contemptuous glare at Rachel.
"It's sometimes hard to separate myself from Revan," said Rachel. "But I didn't do any of that. When Revan was being the Dark Lord, I was at school, doing very little. And I passed my Dark Side test."
"There's that at least," said Vrook. "But you haven't exactly covered yourself with glory since. I've been watching you for years now, and you've been treading a fine line. Who's going to stop you if you fall again? Her? Don't make me laugh."
"Hey!" said Dawn. "I could so . . . uh . . . forget I said a word."
"I'm not going to fall," said Rachel. "I've seen all I need to know of the Sith to know I'm never going to be one."
"Not many people choose to fall. What about that Sectoid? He was defenceless and you cut him down. That is not the Jedi way."
"He was a threat, an enemy," said Rachel. "I never turn my back on an enemy."
Vrook shook his head. "You're as foolish now as you were before you went to war," he said. "Expediency is no excuse, not for a Jedi."
"And it's no wonder the Sith crushed your Order," said Rachel. "You're completely clueless."
"You'll never learn," said Vrook. "I just hope that your apprentice doesn't follow when you fall."
And then he disappeared.
"Even death won't let me escape him," said Rachel with a sigh. "Damn it."
It was several days later as Rachel led Dawn through a meditation exercise in their rooms when Rachel felt a sense of impending doom run through her. When she was unable to find any specific cause, she dismissed it, but that proved to be a rather bad idea. An hour or so later, she felt a steaming mad, familiar presence. When she looked up, she saw Mrs. Summers at the door, practically levitating off the ground in her fury.