"A Clash of What Is"
The sun was settling on Coruscant’s horizon, casting warm shades of orange, pink and purple over the capital planet. Mei’li loved this city. It was lively, and rich with cultural arts, food, shopping… the melting pot of the galaxy. With a blink of her emerald eyes, she seemed to come out of a reverie. A strange sense of deja vu fell over her, but was quickly dismissed as she leaned on the golden rail of the Jedi Temple. She felt young again, younger than her consciousness remembered.
Mei sighed contently and glanced down at what she was wearing. She smiled, remembering how she had opted to wear her favorite dress today, a simple, yet elegant, white gown accented with a belt made of pearls from Naboo. The pearls, her grandmother had told her, brought great fortune and luck to those wearing them. And she needed luck today if the Jedi Council was going to accept her and her untameable personality.
Not that she really cared if the Council wanted her or not. She was much too free-spirited, she thought to herself as she played with her raven hair, which she had styled up in a bun with a drop braid. She had woven tiny purple and white flowers into it.
A rumble in the distance caught her attention. Was it thunder? No, it was… Her mind stopped her thoughts, and her eyes fixated on the clouds in the distance as a shadow creeped over the temple. She closed her eyes, reopening them to find the shadow had disappeared. The distance held rain and a few bolts of lightning. It was far away, but the storm was coming…
“The calm before the storm,” came the familiar voice of her father, Hoban’ji Ogasawara.
Mei turned to see him as he stepped out onto the balcony. She admired her father. He was everything she wanted to be when she grew up. He was confident, distinguished, yet still held onto his sense of humor. He was a man of great stature, and she remembered how there hardly used to be a person on Coruscant who didn’t like him. He was known as the gentlest of gentlemen, despite his stocky build. The wind tugged at Hoban’s cape as he approached Mei, his graying hair blew slightly with it.
“Let me guess,” her father spoke again, leaning against the rail next to her. “You’ve been daydreaming of castles and princes?”
Mei laughed. “You’ve heard from the Council?” She switched the topic.
Hoban nodded. “Aye,” there was a hint of a sigh in his voice.
“Mother will be happy then?”
Hoban laughed at his daughter; she certainly had a way of finding her answers. “Yes, I think Lady Ogasawara will be very happy,” he smiled and looked at her, turning more serious. “But that’s not what we’re really talking about. We’ve had this conversation before.”
Mei’li tilted her head to the side, confused.
“I know…” her father continued. “You’re not disappointed and you’re going to tell me that the Jedi path was Xia’s to follow and not yours. You want to be like me. You want to be a Senator.” He looked at her, his face growing darker and his eyes flickering to a shade of red. “But you know I’m not a Senator. And you know you will never be a Senator. Things are not as you remember them.”
“Yes they are,” she snapped back, defensive. “And I will be a Senator, just like you are a Senator now!” She tried to convince him this was still true.
Hoban silenced her with a gentle caress on her cheek. “Daughter,” his eyes were as she remembered again and he spoke with softness. “You live in a dream. None of this is real,” he paused, emphasising the next words, “Get your head straight.”
His last words echoed in her head, but the voice was not her father’s.
“Look out to the storm,” he insisted. “Look now, and remember.”
Hesitant, Mei looked out across the city. The clouds were black, and they were close. She felt the ground beneath her shake. Again, a rumble, but it was not thunder.
The shadow of a ship returned, covering the city.
“What’s happening?” She looked over at her father, but he was gone. Smoke billowed around her. Black and thick. She turned, seeing just a glimpse of her father leaving the balcony. She coughed, suddenly aware of the fire. Darkness swallowed her and she looked out one more time at the city and saw the setting sun. It was dropping quickly... too quickly.
“Remember,” her father’s voice haunted her from somewhere in the darkness.
“No!” Mei called out in desperation and ran from the balcony and inside the Temple. All she heard was the clashing of lightsabers, the screams of the slaughter, then… silence. The memory reliving itself quickly, and before she knew it, the smoke had cleared and she was stepping careful amongst the dead. She made her way to peer down into the destroyed corridor of the Temple below.
She stopped, seeing a young girl crouched on the floor, peering down below.
“Are you hurt?” Mei whispered to the young girl. When the girl looked at her, Mei stepped back… it was herself, but younger.
“Get your head straight” the familiar male voice whispered to her again as she looked down and watched her father being taken away, bound, and lead by Darth Malgus and his Sith guards.
Mei shook her head and heard herself whisper, “No…” She looked down at her younger self, seeing her back away in terror.
“Not again,” she whispered, feeling her younger self’s panic and fear. “This can’t be happening again.” Mei said louder.
“This is war,” her younger self told her before vanishing into the darkness.
“Get your head straight!” the man said, the voice more stern, yet still she found him comforting. She whirled around, searching, her heart yearning. Where was he?
And then the Jedi Temple crumbled away, exposing cold metal walls. Rain poured around her, until the structure in her memory finally rebuilt itself. The rain pounded on the roof above and rolled down the windows. The storm, she thought, and turned to look out a large window.
Mei slowed her pace… this was not Coruscant. Upon seeing the Citadel she felt comforted, she was home, back on Dromund Kaas.
A warm hand took hers, and she was compelled to look up, but couldn’t. Her eyes focused on the red skin of the Sith Pureblood, his large hand covering hers. He was whispering something, but she couldn’t make it out.
“Is j'us ir Nu doru, akuyi darytis wo,” he said. The words holding meaning to her, but her consciousness wasn’t allowing her to understand them.
Again, she tried to look up and see the man’s face, but she couldn't. She desperately wanted to. But she remained fixed on their hands as he retrieved a knife with an obsidian blade that was so sharp it didn’t seem to hurt as he cut her hand. This was a ritual, she remembered, and felt pride.
“You’re a Lord of the Sith now, Lady Mei’li,” his voice was proud.
Mei’li smiled, his voice warmed her heart and soul, and just as she was allowed to look up at him, he was gone. The warmth was gone and she felt afraid. She was cold. Freezing cold, in fact. She looked around, the walls were starting to ice, snow was falling, yet she was inside. The windows cracked as ice crawled up them.
Turning, she saw a short, young, pale, female Zabrak dressed all in black, with long black gloves that covered high up her arms. She was furious, her anger freezing the room. Mei was overwhelmed with confusion. Why was this woman so mad? She felt betrayed, hurt. This wasn't how anything was supposed to be.
“He was not yours to take!” the Zabrak yelled.
Mei felt the coldness pierce through her. “You are no master of mine!” she shouted back, sternly holding her ground, trying her best not to be fearful.
“Mei-mei…wake up...” a voice was barely heard over the swirling storm of ice and snow. The female Zabrak was approaching, and Mei found herself stepping back, when suddenly…
Her eyes popped open, and she was screaming, but being held in comfort.
She felt young again, and looked to see her older brother, Ke’rii. The room was warmly lit, a Rotworms poster hung crooked on the wall. The lamp next to her had been turned on. The curtain covering the window was open enough to see she was on Nar Shaddaa.
“It’s just a nightmare,” he was assuring her.
“I need to find him,” Mei whispered through sobs. “He has to be alive.”
“He is,” Ke’rii assured her, cradling her, trying to sooth her back to sleep. “You’ll find him and you’ll make it through this war. I’ve got a plan… There’s a fleet…”
A massive wall of ships in perfect grid formation flashed across her mind’s eye.
“Zakuul,” they said at the same time… spoken so softly it was as if the word were treasonous to speak. A hushed secret that rested barely on the forefront of consciousness. She looked at her brother again, but he too was gone and once again she was elsewhere.
The moonlight lit the room in silver and she looked out the opened doors at the majestic mountains of Alderaan. They were but a mere shadow on the horizon. Her hand went to the purple crystal around her neck.
“Kaatulf…” she whispered, the name bringing a smile to her face as she slid out of bed. She closed the open doors, too tired to realize she hadn’t opened them. She crossed the room and stared at herself in the mirror. “You are safe. No one knows… no one knows…”
The shadows moved slowly behind her, and out of the darkness a large figure came and grabbed her. She tried to call out, but was silenced. The attacker’s knife went for her throat. She saved the killing blow with her hand, blood oozing around the blade as she struggled with her attacker.
“We don’t forget a traitor!” a male voice grunted through the struggle.
Mei was on the verge of passing out when she heard the voice of her uncle overlapping the attacker’s. “You're coming home with me,” he said.
Wind howled. A lightsaber ignited and the terrifying screams of Eyip'faki echoed just as Mei’s eyes opened.
She startled awake, letting out a small cry. Her hand was placed over her neck as she caught her breath for a moment. She listened to the waterfall just outside her bedroom, to the birds chirping in the trees. The stillness of early morning was in the air.
Someone was gently shaking her.
“Mommy,” came the playful whisper of a young girl. “Mommy, are you awake?”
Mei looked over at the young pureblood/human girl, her daughter.
“Sartori,” Mei said, more convincing herself the girl was real. She reached out and held her daughter’s hand.
Sartori’li stopped shaking her. “I wanna show you something,” she said with a smile.
Mei’li smiled and sat up, looking around the room. She was in her own bed. Her own home. She looked again upon the small girl.
“What do you want to show mommy?” She smiled, her happiness creeping back into her.
This is not a dream, she told herself internally. This is not a dream.
Then she woke up again.