Note: Tx to Inachis for her help. Hatten, if you are still around please drop me a mail. I can’t reach you under your old email address.
“Your Gymsnor-3 light freighter can be delivered if you like, or you can fly it home yourself,” the salesman said.
Xander looked at his crew. “Albert, feel like doing a delivery run?” he asked the former Dark Jedi.
The man looked relieved as he nodded. “It would be good. I’m not used to being around a family like yours.” No, he had been around darkness and anger far too long and he had a difficult time fitting in. Xander was helping him, but he needed time alone to meditate. Flying this ship all alone would be a gift of the force.
“Good. I’ll have to ask Danni and Jaina to give you some meditation aids and some calming tricks. Believe me, they work,” Xander said to him. “Danni is trained in Zeltron healing arts and she knows many ways of helping people. They can explain the calming methods and meditations techniques better than I can.”
Danni wasted no time as she grabbed the former darksider by the arm and pulled him away. Jaina rolled her eyes and joined them.
Xander turned to the salesman. “Now these are the extras I want inside the ship,” he said, giving the man a list of useful things.
The salesman looked at the list of strange things. Sure, they had all of it. An arms locker, not that unusual. Change the toy cannon to a real quad heavy laser cannon turret? Sure, no problem. Then followed some less common things, like a solid fuel converter, a luxury only a long range scout would need, but if he paid for it, then he would get it. And then a medical droid and a class x1 hyperdrive instead of the old x2.
The floating disk made the salesman hide his smile. The Gymsnor-3 was already pre-equipped with that. On the other hand, if the customer wanted to pay double to float a ship that was already afloat, then double he would pay.
Then there was the paint job. The salesman looked at the picture they had included. “By the hairy balls of a Wookiee Sith lord, this is going to look like some kind of ship straight from an old Holo vid,” he said.
Xander rolled his eyes.
“The ship will be finished by the evening,” the man said and at seeing Xander’s surprise he clarified. “Gymsnor-3 light freighters are unusual ships, but the number one improvement buyers ask for is a new x1 hyperdrive. They ask for that so often, that half of the Gymsnors we have in stock have one preinstalled for the buyer’s convenience.”
Xander was impressed. “Sweet… Anyway, other things I’m going to buy are two Ghtroc Class 800 lifeboats / shuttles for my own ship. Can you have them delivered? And how much would I get for the old 700?” he asked.
Quickly a deal was made and the Enterprise was updated with the two new lifeboat shuttles.
In the nearby space the ship hiding on the far side of the solar system was almost done. They activated a focused hyperspace signal to get the attack fleet moving.
Willow and K’Kruck were sitting next to each other on a comfortable sofa. “What is a Jedi’s greatest enemy, Willow?” the old master asked.
Willow frowned. “A Darksider,” she answered and then frowned again. “No…, yourself, you could be turned to the dark side,” she said, smiling proudly.
K’Kruck just looked at her as he put a mirror on the table. “Look into the mirror and you see yourself. And that is you worst enemy as a Jedi. You could be turned to the dark side. Yes, but that isn’t the only danger a Jedi faces. Believing you already know everything, believing you understand all things or become too lazy to improve, pride in yourself, believing yourself to be so superior that you loose respect for your enemy or worse, that in your pride you don’t listen when the force is warning you. All that is your worst enemy.”
Willow looked at the mirror and herself. Pride, lust, hatred, anger, fear, she remembered when Xander had lost his foot. All because he had made a simple beginner mistake, one they had trained her to avoid. All Jedi were trained in the effective disarming technique. With it, you made sure any cut off arm holding a weapon had to point away from you or people under your protection. After all, even a cut off arm could fire a gun in dead spasm.
“You will fight young Willow, every day, every hour of your life a Jedi fights. He fights himself. He wins and sometimes he fails. If he survives failing, a true Jedi changes his ways. A Jedi has to be sure of himself to use the force. There comes pride in, a Jedi must be sure of himself, yet pride is also your enemy. Be too sure of yourself, too prideful and the enemy will use it against you,” K’Kruck explained.
He stuffed his old pipe. “I remember young Jedi master Xander telling me that on Byblos he discovered a tracking device on the Enterprise and one of the workers was afraid and nervous. Using the Force Xander did a surface scan on him and he was afraid that Xander would discover something.” He looked at her. “Can you tell me what happened next? You were there, were you not?”
Willow twitched. “A bomb exploded inside the ship, master. Are you telling me Xander could have discovered it before it exploded?” she said in shock.
K’Kruck smiled. “Indeed. Instead young Master Xander was too prideful in his skill and cleverness that he never considered that different groups could have tried something against the Enterprise.”
“He lost his foot on that mission,” Willow ranted. “That was so scary,” she said shivering, at that time she had still not completely understood how easy replacing body parts was.
K’Kruck smiled. “Pride indeed. Still, it’s also pride that lets us use the force. Most of the powers demand that the users are self assured and prideful in his skill and ability. Lack faith in your own ability and the force ability will fail,” he explained. Then tapping the mirror he added. “Have pride in your skills and be sure of yourself, Willow. Just keep a watchful eye because your greatest enemy is only a mirror image away.”
Willow nodded. Looking at the mirror, an image of the past and the future flashed before her. Suddenly she could see the galaxy was splintered, a cold war existed in many parts of the galaxy and other parts were in a hot shooting war against too many enemies.
She saw herself flying a ship painted like Iron Man in red and gold, flying around as a Federation Diplomat, a dangerous and exciting life, and she saw herself as a scholar, walking around dusty old computer recordings in a big library, a safe comfortable life.
She saw herself working with a team of healers, her ship parked behind her. The sick and wounded were carried to her and the other doctors, a depressing but rewarding life.
She saw herself working in a Jedi academy teaching the young, a frustrating but fun life.
She saw herself working with the Jedi master as a Master of Visions, a strange and confusion life filled with the respect of her fellow masters.
She saw herself married and living in peace on a backward planet far away from struggle and war, a life filled with love.
Again and again she saw herself in different roles. With a squeal she looked away from the mirror. A look not of terror, but of pure confusion was on her face.
“You’ve seen futures? Good. As your friend said, it’s time to choose one of them and let the others fade away,” K’Kruck said as he walked away.
Willow swallowed… All those other Willows…. The doctor, the librarian, the teacher, the seer, the mother, the dark force witch… choose one and kill the others. With a squeal she rushed away.
A short moment later Buffy was attacked by a Willow missile dripping with tears and talking faster than the speed of light. “I don’t want to kill doc, librarian, teacher, seer, mom, perhaps the dark witch, but not the pilot. Why do I have to kill one of me?” she asked, still hugging Buffy.
“It’s not fair that I know this. Oh, god, think about Xander. He knows…this is what he has been saying Buffy,” she grabbed Buffy and started to shake her.
“Don’t you understand? Something will not exist and it’s all my fault. Those cute kids. My kids will never exist and if they do exist, then those poor sick people will die and it’s all my fault. I killed them and they could have been me, I took my own life again and again and that’s not right!”
As fast as the Willow talk started, she seemed to burn out and just kept crying.
“I’ll get some chocolate. This is going to take time,” Riley said. “I have no idea what just happened.”
Buffy nodded. “Willow… listen to me… talk slow and start from the beginning.”
Willow nodded. “I’m my own worst enemy. Seeing the future sucks.”
Buffy felt the pain. ‘Why did she have to be the adult now?’ she asked herself.
Inside the kitchen Riley stirred the blue milk and chocolate powder. The chocolate tasted just like it did on Earth, but the blue milk was too sweet and creamy for his taste. But combine it with chocolate and the taste was incredible. Seeing the big master K’Kruck sitting in the corner resting, he couldn’t help but ask. “What did you teach Willow? She seems to be quite upset.”
K’Kruck agreed on that. “She is upset. I showed her that the greatest enemy of a Jedi is herself. She had a vision of the future, showing her different paths she could take in her life and she realized that whatever path she chose, the other paths will never happen. She essentially destroys them.”
Riley turned back, still stirring the warming milk and chocolate together. “I thought that was just something Xander used to say? That he was killing the future paths he chose not to take.”
K’Kruck snorted. “No, most Masters realize that by having the ability to deliberately choose one future, the force users are destroyers of other futures, in a manner of speaking.”
Seeing the blue-milk starting to boil Riley quickly removed it and poured it in to cups. “If you wish, I can make a cup for you too?” Riley said.
The old master smiled. “No, I’m tired and my bones hurt today.” K’Kruck was famous for many things in his life, like having an old straw hat made from extremely durable straw, and another was that he had the sad honor of being left for dead more than once during the Clone Wars. The worst time was after Lord Vader’s lightsaber stabbed him and then pushed him down a tower. The Dark Lord, seeing the cut up and almost crushed Jedi, had believed him dead, yet he survived and healed. He was one of the few that survived Order 66.
He had a starship explode, stranding him on a primitive planet and somehow he survived. Healing himself was his true gift. Broken bones, burned flesh? It all healed. Some believed his straw hat was the source of his power. That it was an invincible miracle hat he had on his head. He thought it funny considering how many times he had had to make himself a new straw hat.
Still, some days his old bones hurt like the day they were broken, phantom pain and his mind playing tricks on him. It did that sometimes. Smiling about his own silliness, he stood up, shaking off the phantom pains from his mind as he walked out into the snowstorm outside, which was refreshing weather for K’Kruck to walk in.
(At the same time with Xander and company)
“And turn left near the skyscraper,” the pilot tester said, playing his role as a co-pilot.
Dawn wanted to scream. She was too slow, but she did it. “I see the starport. Give me the landing signal,” she said.
The tester suddenly yelled, “Abort landing.” And suddenly the holographic picture outside the fake starship cockpit was lit with explosions.
Dawn quickly thought that now it looked more realistic. She turned quickly and pushed the pedal to the metal, rising fast. As she open the frequencies she said, “Ground control, aborting landing, coming at bearing 41.23.99, speed 50 Mglt.” Nimbly she turned away from the other ship over the burning landing platforms.
The tester looked interested. This was supposed to be the stress part of the test, but this student seemed to relax even more now. “Good miss Summers. I got the order that we are to fly bearing 39.11.90, speed 20 Mglt and docking at the orbital platform.”
Dawn changed the course and lifted up. For a computer game it was good. She had seen better explosions of course, but still, it looked kind of realistic. “Sir when is the stress part of the test going to start?” She just wanted to know if the test was almost over.
(Later at the café)
Dawn and Lexa joined up together and waited as the test results were counted.
“I got piloting 95 out of a hundred. I did it,” Lexa said with a huge grin. “What about you Dawn?”
Dawn was surprised. “Wow 53 out of a hundred. With a warning about using wild maneuvers. No flying in a loop,” she rolled her eyes.
“I got the same warning, perhaps it’s a standard warning,” Lexa mused. “Let`s go and get our pilot licenses,” she added.
The two girls hurried away. A short time later, a card with a 2D photo and a built in 3D image was handed to them. If you put some pressure on the picture, a 3D holographic image was projected from the card.
The two girls looked at the card as they handed it over to a droid. The secretary beside the droid checked up the results.
Theory test: Dawn Summers 55 of 50 needed. Alexandra Harris 50 of 50 needed.
Regulation and law proceedings in space: Dawn Summers 111 of 100 needed. Alexandra Harris 132 of 100 needed.
Handling: Dawn Summers 61 out of hundred. Alexandra Harris 99 of hundred.
Pilot test: Dawn Summers 53 out of 100. Alexandra Harris 95 of 100.
“That’s good girls. You have earned the license. Now it’s just an 80 credit fee and the captain license is yours,” the woman said with a smile directed at them.
Dawn and Lexa quickly gave her the money.
“This is so cool! I have a starship captain’s license and no idea what to use it for. And I have no good reason why I took the test in the first place,” Dawn said, still happy. Not that she did the test, that had been awful, but happy because she did it without much training except for helping Lexa train.
“It’s simple, I’m going to buy a starship and you can be my co-pilot,” Lexa said with a grin. “And boy, Xander’s old Enterprise or the Falcon are going to look like carbon dated dinosaurs once I’m done with my ship. It’s going to rule space,” she said, cackling like a mad witch, thinking about the improvements she was going to make.
Deep inside Lexa Harris the blood of generations of smugglers sailing the sea of Europe out witting the law and out sailing military ships were raising their rum bottles. Generations of cowboys and desperadoes were roaring in joy as the horses they were riding on outwitted the Indians and the army.
Dawn frowned; now Lexa was going starship crazy. “Is madness a thing in your family?”
“Hey I’m not crazy. It’s only natural that you want to make any ship you have the greatest. I can’t let my brother drive the best ship now, can I? That… that would be unnatural and weird,” Lexa mumbled.
Dawn knew it. She was crazy. “Hey that sounds just like Xander talking about the Enterprise,” she said, confused. Could it be? Could in fact Jedi Master Xander Harris also be crazy? No way… that’s so cool. They are crazy.
At the same time in space. Inside the new painted star ship glittering in red and gold Albert felt like he was driving the Iron Man mobile instead of a starship. He felt something nearby, something nasty. Not the dark side, yet a feeling of death. A feeling he knew and understood, but there was nothing he could do now or in this system.
He piloted the ship away, calming himself as he entered hyperspace and changing the coordinates to something more useful.
Behind him the small fleet prepared itself, soon the rest of the attack fleet would arrive. The countdown started to dwindle to the last numbers.