‹ Prequel: The Hidden Truth
Sequel: A Last Good Bye

Reaching Through Darkness

Good 'ol Buddy


While I permit Karen enter first, I moved ahead to be the first person my dear friend Nea Walne saw to avoid confusion. I stood in the dark hallway of his medium size apartment, peering through dark green walls by the light from the other rooms caste out. I was not sure how he might take my apprentice and hoped my presence would smooth over any awkwardness that might occur.

“Mirmo, is that you ol’ buddy?”

I called that that it was I. The meter and a half bulk of humanoid pale flesh that gave off a glow of near white light came out from the left hand doorway and stopped. I could see the glint of grass green eyes also straining in the inadequate light, trying to make out my features.

“Oh what in the names of the seven curses of the Sith are we standing here like a bunch of drunken nerfs. Ah, give me a second my friend as I try to find this blast light switch.”

That was Nea alright; a man who cursed enough, even in polite company, to make a hutt blush and vow never to use such vivid language again. I heard his five sizes larger feet stomp on the bare thread carpeted floor on smelly, rotting wooden floor, bumping on unseen junk. After many heartbeats he found the light activator and a single, but surprising bright light came on and blinded me momentarily. The time my vision adjusted to the light, there was nothing to see except for a multi color stained and oddly smelling like spice tunic that belonged only to my friend as he fiercely gripped me in a near fainting hug. I gathered what little Force my air deprived mind could gather and directed the energy to easy the strength of my friend’s arms. With a gulp of air, I pounded his drug enhanced muscled back until he let go, but held me at arm’s length. He careful studied me, as if to make sure I was who he thought I was. Yep, I thought to myself, this was the same Nea I knew so well.

“Ah, Mirmo, it has been too long. Still playing meditating Jedi? I hope you can remember to feed yourself now and again.”

I said yes and grinned sheepishly, remembering the early days of when he knew me.

“Well, I still have yet to see the point in all this running around and pretending to wave a lightsaber. If you were sensible like me, you would be settled in apartment like me, with a few girls around you at all times, having the life you have always wanted. Now, tell me, my fine friend, why be a Jedi when one can live the life of luxuries?”

My grin turned into a playful ground and I answered him in a quick grab of the wrist and a twist of the arm.

“Ah, still think you can out do me in this little game aye?”

As fast as I moved, he moved faster without the aid of the Force. It took all of three seconds for him to have me on the ground. Yet, my Jedi training and teachings from my old instructor had taught me well and the tumble was not over. Our rough play soon covered the whole hall and anything became a tool in the goal of victory. The only thing that stopped us from beating each other up was the high pitch sound of Karen squeaking when we nearly knocked her down. We both stopped and look up at her. I managed to see her despite the massive arm that covered half my face and Nea ignored the sharp heel of my heavy boot that was busy crushing his foot.

“You should have told me there was a lady in the house!”

When our limbs untangled from each other and bruises had be tenderly rubbed, we straightened up and I moved slightly to my frowning apprentice whose body language told me the shock and the disapproval she had for our host. I cleared my throat and introduced my apprentice, Karen Nightingstar, to Nea Walne. Karen coolly welcomed him and stuck her hand out, for what I was not sure. She must have been using a custom from her planet. Nea was not thrown off by the gesture, but gently took her hand and kissed it was taking a step back with his right foot and bowed. I noticed the frown lengthened downward on her face as she took her hand back. I also noticed she hide her hand behind her back and wiped it on her brown Jedi clothes. Perhaps, I should make a metal note to explain to her proper greeting manners and rituals when we had time.

“Ah, so you Jedi are growing! Who knew your crazy idea would work and the galaxy would actually want some righteous goody goodies sticking their naïve noises into criminals minding their own business like me?”

He nudged me in the ribs and I playfully bumped him hard on the shoulder, pushing him slightly off his feet. His booming laugh was well welcomed, but a sour look on Karen’s face told me how obviously she wished he would shut up. I focused my glaze on her, sending her a look of reproach and a silent plea for her to remember her manners. It would not due for us to be shepherded off if Nea was offended by her rudeness.

“Well my fair lady, no need to be so stiff and formal. There is no Jedi teachers to scold at you should you relax a bit. Say, let me take that pack there and show you into my humble living room. Mirmo, have you fed this young lady or letting her suffer under your own ill habits that I once had to rescue from?”

He was a man that could find and abuse a weakness to no end, humble the richest man alive, and the only one who put the Emperor to shame and lived to brag about it. Nea was a valuable friend that anyone could have.

The so called living room was shared by a small kitchen. There were two chairs that were old, tattered, and no doubt had been gotten off the black market in exchange for a spice distillery. The medium blue paint on the walls was peeling and the fakes were scattered on the dusty red carpet. The sink was stacked with dirty pots and cups, flies included. The room gave off a strong smell of something sour that I concluded came from the frid unit. There were two lights on, one flickering, giving off the sensation of a fire and the smoke coming from one pot simmering the cooking unit sealed the impression into my mind. We were begged to take the two seats, being told to rest, while he moved his ungraceful self in the tiny room of the kitchen, turning down the heat. I politely told him that we had not eaten yet, but would gladly pay for the meal.

“What? Are you saying that a retired spice cooker and dealer could not afford to feed his best friend and this lovely young lady?”

A half covered sniff of held back irritation told me what Karen thought. For once, I agreed. I took a jab at him and reminded him he was hardly retired whiling staring straight at the steaming pot that had the unmistakable chemical smell of an illegal drug.

“Oh that. It does not count you see. Even a retired jack like me has to keep something on the stove to keep alive. Still, I will pay for dinner. Unforunately I was not expecting such company or I haul something out of that there frid unit, so wait a minute while I find that comn that is underneath my bed and we will have order in. Has she ever had Hoth ‘lish steaks?”

Considering the only food from this galaxy Karen had ever eaten outside of her home planet was what was served at the cafeteria at the Temple, I doubted she had. I looked at her to see if she had any idea of what he was talking about, but what he said could have been in Javaish for all she knew. I told him ‘lish steaks would be fine, knowing this was going to cost him a week’s worth of spice.

“Then ‘lish steaks it is. I will be right back and Karen, before you know it, you will have tasted your first delicious ‘lish steak.”

I could tell Karen was straining not to say anything while he was rummaging through his room, cursing the whole time. I smiled at her, keeping silent. As promised, soon we were all sitting, Nea was sprawled out on the floor, eating Hoth ‘lish steaks and sipping a red wine, Karen requested water. To evade questions I told him the Jedi preferred their apprentice to refrain from all forms of alcohol to keep a clear connection to the Force. This went unchallenged.

“Tell me, what brings two Jedi to my door. I hope this is not official business or another drug bust, because then I am going to have to politely kick you all out.”

I assured him no and explained this was a trip for my apprentice and hopefully for me to get reacquainted with the highs and lows of the planet. He laughed, causing the plate to shake and making Karen even more unhappy.

“Got sick of all that waste of time meditating huh? Well, I do not blame you there. I have been trying to tell you for years that if you want to live life, you have got to seek it at its lowest end to get full value. We drug dealers are the richest of society, far better off than those snobby senators. Sure, we do not have Naboo silk purple robes or cloud cars costly enough to buy ten slaves, but our experiences and culture outrank everyone and everything, including that Force stuff you Jedi are slaved to.”

Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw Karen yawn after eating half of her steak. I was not sure if it was the food or the company that kept her from inhaling her food like usual. I casually told him our trip had been long and hard on her and we should be getting some sleep. Karen rose out of her chair, turned to the door, evidently thinking we would sleep elsewhere than this dingy apartment. I shook my head slightly and held my hand to pause her in her tracks. I asked him if he still had a bed in the back room.

“Yeah, sure I do, but there is only one.”

With a gesture of my head, I indicted for Karen to head to the back and get her much needed sleep. She hesitated, if asking where I would sleep. I gave her half a smile and excused myself from the room. She led the way to the room, waited for me to enter, and closed the door.

“Master, this guy…well I don’t like him. I don’t really trust him.”

I told her he was a friend from the old days when I was still learning how to be a Jedi. I would and did trust him with my life as should she. She tried to hide her doubtful look. I told her to go to bed. There was a bit of a stubborn look, lacking the strength to hold from her tiredness. I walked out the door to give her privacy and went back to the living room to catch up on each other’s past through the night.