Shrub Origins

Moving back in time from the Shrubbite story centered around the period of turmoil in the Galactic Civil War between the Empire and the Rebellion in Star Wars Galaxies to the period of war between the Sith and the Jedi of Star Wars The Old Republic, a gap in the lore of the Shrubbites struggle to rid the empty galaxy of hostility and replace it with Fun is created.  These are the stories of the Shrub Origins written by those very Shrubbites who undertook the mission during this period of darkness lost for centuries to all of us.  Each story is unique and yet combined with each other and spin a tangled web of such epic proportions it is hard to not imagine where you, yourself fit into the lives of the Shrubbites and belong to the Holy of most Holy Floating Shrubs.

"Long live the Shrub, may its branches never touch the ground!"

I Prophet

It is a strange, glorious thing how the tendrils of fate glide and flow through the universe, chaotically twisting and pulling all of us tiny little beings towards our destinies. It makes me laugh to think of it and brings a smile to this old man's face. It makes my heart feel lighter and eases the burdens of my soul. Some fate guides towards great things, their deeds for good or ill rippling out like a pebble tossed in water, touching so many others who send out ripples of their own. The Jedi call this The Force. They are a wise people the Jedi, if a bit...stuffy. I had thought fate planned very little for me and I was content to spend the majority of my quiet existence as a book keeper, a librarian if the term pleases you. I always preferred the former moniker. It sounds more rustic and quite literal.. I worked my entire life tucked away in the basement of the main branch of the Greater Library of Taris. That is where they kept books. I am not talking about holotapes or datadisks but real books. They were my flock and I their shepherd. We were mostly left alone save for the occasional bibliophile or collector. I was happy or so I thought. Fate it seems decided to leave me be, waiting until the younger man in the mirror was lost to me, hiding somewhere behind wrinkles and thinning white hair. Then Moltar came.

You could tell he did not belong because he strutted. People do not strut in libraries but he did. It was one of the rare times I was away from the “Paper Archives.” as staff liked to call them. The main desk had called me up to retrieve a delivery we had received, a journal penned in actual ink that once belonged to a Sith warrior. I was excited to bring such a rare artifact into my folds. I was sitting at the main desk, a circular kiosk of gleaming dark blue plexi-steel with many informational terminals punctuation its circumference. A protocol droid staffed this area to help guests. I was fumbling with a computer when Moltar strutted though the front door. He wore nondescript clothing save for a long deep maroon trench coat. His eyes darted everywhere as he made his way towards the desk. He had an impeccably trimmed beard and an impossibly thin mustache. I went back to cataloging my delivery and would not have had a second thought on him if my ears did not pick up the protocol droid's voice a few moments later.

“Hide sir? I am sorry but I do not quite follow.”

“There is a reason I do not talk to droids and you...you...look, it is not a difficult question. I need somewhere I can hide for, oh... let's just say one hour. Do you have somewhere nice an quiet like that?”

The protocol droid held its head high and proud if that was even possible for it. “Quiet is above all else not only required in this establishment but...” The man in the red trench coat cut him off by jamming a finger in the droid's face. “Quiet. You. Now. There are going to be men walking through that door very soon. They are going to have blasters and if I am still standing here when they start shooting I am going to use you as mobile cover.”

I was startled at the mention of blasters I decided to retreat to the safety of my archives. At the first sign of trouble the droid could send for security instantly and I did not want to be anywhere in the middle of whatever was about to happen. I got up quickly and quietly, tucked the book under my arm and made my way towards the gap in the back of the circle for employees to enter and exit the main desk area.

“You! Hey! You!” The man yelled as he leaped over the kiosk and ran at me. The protocol droid staggered backwards to get out of his way surely sending the signal for security as it did so. A hand was placed on my shoulder as I tried my best to ignore the man yelling at me and I was spun around and was face to face with my assailant. He opened his mouth no doubt to yell something further but his words were caught in his throat as a startled look of recognition spread across his face.

“Brother! It's leafy branches be praised! What are you doing here?” He gasped then squinted at me. He paused, cocked his head to the side, and looked at me out of one eye. “Wait... no. No, no...yes! Maybe?” He looked at me sternly. “Have you heard the call my friend?” I could do nothing but gape at him when the cultivated silence of the library was abruptly shattered like a a window with a brick thrown through it.

“Moltar! Stop where you are! Drop to your knees and put your hands on your head!” Guards were pouring through the front doors like ants from a riled nest. They had energy shields and blasters. All of them trained in our direction. The people of the public seemed to vanish into isles and suddenly the only people in the library seemed to be myself, Moltar and what appeared to be at least twenty weapons pointed at us. Even the droid had somehow escaped. Moltar whispered “We shall continue this conversation later but for now...” then he shouted “Run Brother!” and he pushed me through the gap with one hand while the other darted inside that deep blood red jacket and withdrew a gleaming metal tube.. Run I did, fear stricken I ran. I heard a distinct snap and hiss and and the wall in front of me gave off a faint light of green.

I heard one of the Tanarian Security Force shout “Oh sh!t! He's got a lightsaber!” and the sounds of blaster fire erupted behind me. Oddly enough not one bolt flew by me as I made my way through the door leading to the stairwell down. Not a single bolt hit the wall and none hit me. There were only the sounds of the shots, a whirring hum and high the high pitched sparking that sounded as those shots were deflected off the blade of light Moltar wielded.

The door to my archives was locked and amidst my books I felt safe. The quiet was unsettling. From blaster fire and lightsabers to thousands of still dry pages heavy with words. I stood there stunned not knowing what I should do and my eye was drawn to my desk. It was nothing so ordinary as plexi-steel or plastics but polished stain wood, ancient and strong. My hands shaking I moved slowly to it fumbling to open a drawer where I kept a few personal odds and ends. A few ink pens rolled about next to a worn leather bound journal. There was unsolved puzzle cube that I attempted to solve from time to time. It was devilish and I hated it. Many times it would lay in a corner somewhere from where I had thrown it in frustration hoping perhaps it might break. It proved quite sturdy. And there near the back of the drawer a tarnished gunmetal flask. I fumbled with the lid, my mouth dry making it impossible to swallow. A delightful smooth burning sent chills down my spine as I gulped the Corellian whiskey. I aimed to drain the flask when there was a loud knock.

“Brother?” I recognized the voice and the whiskey caught in my throat, going up into my nose making my eyes burn. I coughed and sputtered sending whiskey spraying everywhere, some of it landing on a stack of books. My eyes went wide panic and I rushed and tried to blot the spilled alcohol off them with the sleeve of my shirt.

“Brother!” he yelled again and for the first time I spoke to him. “Go away!” I yelled back.
“Sorry Brother, no can do...” and he started to cut through the door with his lightsaber. The door fell in making a disturbingly loud thud. “Books! I can dig it Brother.” He said smiling and nodding approvingly as he stepped inside, the glowing green blade receding back into the hilt of his weapon.
“Please.” I begged. “I want no part of Jedi business. I do not know why the security force is trying to kill you Mr... Motlar was it? And I do not know who you think I am but I am quite sure you have me mistaken for someone else.” He picked up a book and thumbed through it.
“Wrong on all accounts brother.” He sighed idly. “Firstly, I am no Jedi. Those were not the Taris Security Force. They are an intergalactic cult hell bent on discovering the truth for all the wrong reasons, and I am positive that it is you that has you mistaken for someone else.”
“Not a Jedi? But...but... the lightsaber? Upstairs? Blaster fire? You deflected the shots? Cult? What?” I worked on finishing the flask.
“Yeah... the lightsaber was given to me as a debt of gratitude by a Jedi I helped out awhile back. Supposedly that is quite an honor. He had a small problem with some lizards but that is a long story. It was not working when he gave it to me, was supposed to be symbolic but the Cow got it working again. Not sure how I deflected those shots... first time. We should get out of here soon though we can talk on the way. Is that the only door?”

I nodded and he started going around the perimeter of the room tapping on the walls. I watched him in silence not knowing what to say. He tapped on one section, started to move on, stopped, took a step back and tapped on the same spot again. “That'll do.” He said taking the lightsaber out once more. He plunged the blade into the wall and cut a large oval big enough for a person to step through. He put his weapon away and kicked the wall hard knocking the center piece free of the cut and a foul smell filled the room. I thought I might gag. Moltar shook his head in resignation. “This makes the third time this week I traipse through a sewer.” He said grabbing me by the shoulder and pushing me through the opening.

A short time later we emerged smelling none the better through a drainage grate. The trip through the sewers had convinced me that my companion was nothing short of a madman. I had asked him if I were his hostage and he had said no. I asked him if I could leave and he had also said no. He claimed it would all make sense soon but first we had to get to his cow. He also claimed that we were being chased and there was a fairly decent chance that we would be shot and killed. Yet I was not afraid and that alone bothered me more than anything else that had happened. We walked from the sewage grate which was in a dingy back alleyway into the hustle and bustle of Middle City. We moved towards the spaceport. The trip there was uneventful. Moltar said if we were lucky that his ship would not be surrounded.

“Dammit... it's surrounded.” He said looking around a corner down a long line of parked spacecraft. “Well I suppose I will go ask them politely to let us leave.”

“Didn't you say they would shoot and kill us?”

“Yes but that was before The Cow was on high. In the streets and sewers we would have been dead for sure. Now though we are perfectly safe... mostly” Moltar took out a small communicator. “Cow? You readty for this?" There was a long pause, some static from the communicator and then a deep voice came from it saying one word. “Yep.”

Moltar smiled. “Let's go Brother... this is going to be fun.” and he swaggered on down the line of ships towards a group of six men by my count who were milling about in front of what would have be a normal looking cargo shuttle except that it had been painted forest green. Moltar raised his hands in the air as we approached, the group spotting him brought forth a variety of weapons and aimed them at us.
“Friends! There is no need for that please. I simply wish to board my ship and leave in peace.”
The group did not move nor lower their weapons. One of the men, a short, squat pig of a man spoke into a very similar communicator. “He is here... we have him.” He looked Moltar over. “Give us the data disk you stole Moltar and we will only kill the old man.” They all aimed their weapons at me and my heart leapt into my throat and stuck there.

“Wait!” Moltar held up a finger. “Technically I did not steal that data as you first stole it from me so I just kind of re-stole it? Sure, let's go with that. And you do not really want to shoot this guy. He is a Holy Man. He is protected by a higher power and I am not sure you would like to bring down the wrath of his terrible God... The Darkcow!” He said this last with a mysterious tone of voice and wiggles his fingers in an arcane manner.

The piggish man smirked. “Rubbish.” and brought his snub nosed blast rifle to his shoulder and aimed it right at my chest and fired. I closed my eyes tight but nothing happened. After a moment I opened my eye to see the energy bolt hanging in mid air before my chest shimmering. Everyone was staring at it, floating there harmless, a red streak of light. Moltar grinned.

“That was not a good idea. You just attempted to murder the Grand Prophet of Darkcow the FleshEater. I expect you have but a moment to live” The bolt in the air twitched. “crap.” Moltar watched the laser bolt start to twitch more, and then it began to grow, violently thrashing about in the air until it resembled a a fist sized ball of quivering fire. “Too late.” Moltar finished and the ball flew blindingly fast and struck the pig man and he simply disintegrated.
The five others stood stunned as their spokesperson suddenly was no longer there. They dropped their weapons almost in unison and ran. Moltar cackled “Yes! Flee! Flee before The Darkcow's evil wrath!”

The ramp to the ship opened just as the running men turned a corner out of sight and a very tall man came down the ramp. He was was built well for such a tall person. I had seen wookies shorter than him. His eyes were kind and suggested an uncanny intelligence. He wore a huge hat with a wide curving brim. It would have looked foolish on anyone else but somehow looked perfectly at place perched on his head.
Moltar laughed at him and ran to embrace him. “Hekki Brother Darkcow! That was brilliant!”
Darkcow gave a low bow. “You are too kind sir. You gave a wonderful performance yourself.” and Moltar gave a sweeping stage bow in return.

“What the hell was that?” I yelled at the both of them. Darkcow looked at me. “Hekki Brother!” He said with a smile and jerked a thumb at a series of green looking bulbs that framed the cargo ramp of the door. “Energy manipulator... it surrounds the ship. I made it myself. We need to get you to Tatooine. Come aboard.”

And I did.

The journey to Tatooine seemed to go by in an instant no doubt due to my two strange companions. Darkcow gladly showed me the energy manipulator which seemed to be a highly modified deflector shield which could not only capture incoming energy, but could diminish, amplify and re-route it as well. It was not without limitations but a single bolt from a blaster was child’s play. He had made other interesting modifications to the ship as well including a zero gravity Blastball court in one of the cargo holds, an escape pod with a small bar built into the panels (Darkcow claimed that any time to retreat is also a time to drink), and an out of place barbeque and Jacuzzi.

They cooked me the best bantha steak I have ever had, Darkcow’s technical mastery extends to the culinary realm. They gave me a stout beer Moltar said was brewed by witches from a planet called Dathomir who apparently rode rancors along with brewing one hell of a beer. And they told me stories of their adventures and promised that I would experience first hand such wild exploits. They were careful to steer the conversation away from what was going to happen on Tatooine. They said I must discover that for myself.

The ramp to the ship opened and hot sand blew into my face. Tatooine seemed a desolate place. Darkcow had landed his ship next to what seemed a small village of mostly tents. There were a few small structures and more being built. We left the ship and strolled through the village at a brisk pace. I caught a whisper Moltar said to Darkcow, “I know I am right.” He said excitedly… “I can feel it.” And Darkcow nodded agreement. People moved about lazily chatting with each other. All of them smiled and waved and some even cheered seeing Darkcow and Moltar. Two people fell in stride with us and were introduced as Dank and Lostar to me and the five of us walked towards a large dune. They stopped at the base and pointed to the top motioning that I must go alone.

I climbed to the top and there found nothing. The twin suns were setting casting the sky in a startling clear twilight. I looked back down the dune and saw 4 tiny specs of people staring up at me. I did not know what I was supposed to do. I looked around and kicked some sand. I looked back down and the four of them were gone and quite to my surprise the entire village was missing as well. I figured I must have lost my bearings and I went around the top of the dune trying to find it but the village and everyone in it were gone. I scanned the horizon and saw a light, a small spec in the distance and it was growing either rushing towards me or increasing in mass. I could not tell which. It was the most peaceful and calming thing I had ever seen and within moments I was engulfed and blinded. I fell to my knees.

I saw the whole of the universe and knew it was a time before such was even measured. I saw swirling galaxies being born in extraordinary throws of heat and light. I saw Tatooine and my view soon focused on that tiny little spec of a planet. It looked much the same, the newly born twin suns burning the surface into a desert jewel of planet. I saw the dune I had climbed and in its center I saw one tiny sprig of green fighting for life. I watched for centuries as this small plant slowly gained a foothold, almost dying countless times only to come back greener and stronger. Then one day it evolved. To assure its survival the small plant developed the ability to channel The Force and it drew this energy into itself… and it grew. It grew in size. It grew in power. It grew in beauty and lushness. Many years passed and I watched it ever drawing The Force until once it again it evolved this time becoming something more. The energy it once fed on so hungrily to assure its very existence began to emanate outward. It somehow was able to draw in The Force while at the same time sending it back out in rippling waves. It was fully grown now and the twin suns and heat and dryness of the planet could no longer hurt it. It lifted its roots and began to float.

I opened my eyes. I was crying tears of joy. I looked up and could see it clearly where before there had been nothing. A Shrub, green and wonderful, radiating joy and peace floated above me. How could I have not seen it before? How could I ever leave it? I walked back down the dune to where my four new friends waited. Moltar stepped forward a nervous look on his face. “Well?” he asked.

I smiled at him. “Hello… Brother.”

A Prophet is Born

He hadn't asked for this - any of it, but it had happened anyway.

It all began with the dreams, which were strange in and of themselves; the blazing heat of Tatooine did not lend itself to deep slumber and humble Bantha Ranchers could not afford the extravagance of a ClimaDroid. So, at first, it was quite a novelty to him but as they began to repeat and grow more detailed he grew alarmed.

The dreams made little sense, except for the sand of course, there was always plenty of that around. It was the voice that caused him the most concern. It was not unlike the disembodied voice of the holonet, but not exactly. It felt very close yet at the same time it felt far away and in the dreams he always felt pulled as if a tiny invisible strand were attached to his heart and he was being drawn out into the wasteland.

This continued for several months but he told no one. Talking about such things was a good way to get yourself locked up for good. The Republic puts on a good public face, but everyone knows the jedi have some deep dark secrets of their own and no one wanted to get on THEIR bad side.

Then, suddenly, the dreams stopped. At first he was relieved but then, much to his horror, he began hearing the voice and feeling the pull while he was awake. After three days, with the voice growing stronger and stronger in his head each passing hour, he made up his mind that dying of thirst chasing figments of his imagination was preferable to rotting away in a republic "hospital" for the next 30 years. Also, in his heart he had begun to believe he was not going mad; that there really was something out there calling to him, drawing him in.

He summoned the courage to explain his intentions to his beloved, Clarissa. Her deep soulful brown eyes stared at him in disbelief as he tried to relate what he had been going through and why he wanted to depart on such a crazy errand. Her feminine features highlighted by her long glossy hair as cascaded over her curves. Her soft and supple lips somehow unravaged by the blistering hot winds of the dry planet. And her engorged teats and udder showed she had a promising amount of milk. (You notice a hastily scrawled handwritten note in the margin: "At this point I find it necessary to point out that Clarissa is actually his prized Bantha... it would seem that our hero was a bit of lonely fellow.)
After a little convincing, he managed to pack Clarissa for the long dangerous journey into the desert and set off into the unknown....

The going was slow. At first he'd been able to keep his supplies up by bartering with the odd jawa caravan but he hadn't seen any of these for days. His water was running precariously low and his food supply wasn't in much better shape.
"What am I doing out here..?" He asked, perhaps to Clarissa or perhaps just into the wind to hear something other than the constant padding of Bantha feet on sand. But suddenly an unexpected answer boomed in his head, shockingly loud after days of silence, yet somehow also reassuring, "Soon... all will be revealed." At the same time, he thought he glimpsed flash of green something akin to foliage.

"Boy, I must be more dehydrated than I thought, eh Clarissa?" he half heartedly joked. Clarissa grunted in agreement and kept marching along the dunes.
.....................................

Having coaxed the last drop of water out of his last canteen hours ago he had long since lost hope of finding anything. "A fool's end to a fool's errand! Ha ha!" his dry rasping laugh barely escaping past his cracked and bleeding lips. He patted his faithful companion on her head, "Sorry to drag you into this old girl. Let's just get over that last dune and curl up for a sleep, maybe when we wake up this will have all been a bad dream..."

As they crested the dune a small shape caught his eye. A mirage? He squinted against the harsh glare caused by the binary stars. "Odd," he thought to himself, "that almost looks like a plant of some sort... but nothing grows this far out in the desert. Unless maybe it's an... oasis??" A sudden spark of hope filled him and he urged Clarissa on a little faster.

As they drew closer to the object, he blinked, and then began to laugh. The kind of insane laughter only a man dying of thirst after wandering around for weeks could muster. For indeed what he was looking at did appear to be a plant of some kind... but it was HOVERING OFF THE GROUND.

"Ahahaha!" He shouted, "A great floating... SHRUB! Hello, Shrub! I suppose it is you that has called me out here into the desert to my doom?"

It was all too much for his water starved brain to handle. He dismounted and began wildly dancing and cackling around the floating plant. He threw himself on to the ground and began rolling around in the sand, tossing handfuls of it into the air, and all manner of strange behavior of a man who has lost all hope.

Then a sound shocked him out of his delirium. He'd know that sound anywhere. It was the distinctive baying of a desert Bantha - the half wild kind kept by the nomadic sand people. His carrying on must have alerted them to his presence.
He was almost glad, though, being beaten to death by sand people was probably a kinder way to go than dying of thirst. At least it would be over soon. And perhaps they would find a use for Clarissa too, it would be good if she could escape an unfortunate end.

He saw them, only six. It must be a small scouting party for a larger band. He could hear them conversing in their barbaric language and something that sounded sort of like laughter. As they approached, he lay there and closed his eyes, preparing himself for the sharp blows of their Gaffi sticks.

But they never came. Instead he heard the thud of a body crumpling against the sand. He opened his eyes to see the sand people being toss about as if by an unseen hand. He looked around in shock seeking out the source of this new terror and at once he saw it. A man, concentrating with an outstretched arm, in the other... a light saber. "Jedi, here?" he thought, but almost instantly he knew that was not true. He had seen a Jedi once before, and this man did not have the same self-righteous aura. "Sith..." he gasped, almost inaudibly, and then was met warmly by the sweet embrace of unconsciousness.
............................

He awoke, unsure of how much time had passed. He looked around and found himself to be inside of what appeared to be some sort of portable infirmary tent; the kind used by military. A med-droid was hovering over him, "Oh good, you are awake." it droned, "Lord Drullsath has been eagerly awaiting your revival. I believe he would like to talk to you." The droid then creaked off, leaving him alone to assess his condition. It seemed to him that they had remedied the ravages the desert had imposed on his body. He no longer felt dehydrated and any wounds he had suffered were gone. He was utterly confused by this as he had never heard of a Sith offering kindness; his head was filled with the Jedi propaganda stories of the pure evil of the Sith empire.

It was because of these stories that he involuntarily recoiled when the man he saw earlier stride purposefully through the tent's entrance flap. The man, a Zabrak, sensing the fear, flashed a smile which oddly contrasted with his demonic looking horns and blood red facial tattoos. Still smiling he coolly said, "Yes, I must be something of a nightmare come true for you. As much as I've used our kind's reputation to my advantage in the past, I must assure you that I mean you no harm. The Jedi's lies about us are greatly exaggerated, in any case. The persecute and vilify us simply because we choose not to abide by their silly antiquated customs.

However, whatever they are doing; it is working. My Sith brethren are a dying breed. Our great master, Darth Revan, has turned his back on us choosing to fight instead for the Jedi dogs. Our homeworld Korriban is even now under attack by the republic's forces. Our plight is desperate. That is why my master sent me here, to this desolate planet. We could both sense.... something here. Something of great power; something the likes of which neither we nor the Jedi have ever seen or even imagined. What we found, though, is strange and maddening." And with this the man's face darkened with the stress of someone who has too much to do and not enough time or power to do it.

The fear subsiding slightly, he managed to respond, "The...the... Shrub?"

The Sith smiled again, "Ah yes, you did manage to see it before being almost beaten to death by those meddling desert people. Imagine our surprise when we discovered the source of the great power we sensed was a ruddy floating plant! We set up this little camp here to see if we couldn't discover some of its secrets. We weren't having any luck at all when it touched my mind, filling me with peace and tranquility the sort of which I haven't felt since before I began my Force training as a child. In that moment I realized a great many things. I've been training in the force nearly all my life, but I never have fully UNDERSTOOD it. Now I truly know how immense it is and yet how important every single living thing is to it. This is bigger than the Sith, or the Jedi, or any petty squabble.

I was under orders to learn what I could and bend the power to our will, or destroy it. Now, I refuse to do either. I was so blind, but the shrub has helped me to see and I want you to help OTHERS to see as well. It called you here for a purpose and that purpose is to go out and spread the word of The Shrub to all who would hear it. I must return to my people now, time is short for us. I will have to make up some story about what happened here but the situation is so dire I don't foresee much trouble with that. We are going to be forced gather ourselves and set out to find our true homeland - the true Sith Empire. Perhaps one day we will return, perhaps not. In any case, I will remember what has happened here this day and do my best to spread this sentiment among my people. Now, what is your name?"

Struggling, to speak all he could manage was "G......"

"Ah, no matter, I think from now on it would be appropriate for you to be simply called, The Prophet. The Shrub has chosen well, you have incredibly surprising mental fortitude for a non-force user. When you have gathered your strength, we have prepared your beast of burden for the long journey home. We've also given you a Grav-Sled, loaded with supplies, so hopefully you won't run out of water this time." At this the Sith Lord grinned slightly and departed with a flourish.
"The Prophet?" he smiled to himself. "Yes, I think I could get used to that..." as he once again slipped back into the restorative arms of sleep.
..........................................

Closing the book and clearing his throat, the reverend continued, "And that is the story of the very first Shrub Prophet from over 300 years ago. As you well know, he accepted his calling and spread the word of The Shrub far and wide. And never have we needed that guidance as we do now. The Sith have returned and all out war threatens the galaxy once again. Our time of neutrality is over; we WILL have to choose a side or risk being caught in between. Whatever happens, May the Force and Shrub be with you. SOTTO UN ARBUSTO!"

"Sotto un arbusto!" came the response, but his words hung in the air like a harsh cloud as the students nervously glanced at one another, wide eyed.

Arbusto Liber

My hands trembled slightly as I cracked open the faded duraplast container. Finding such a thing hidden under some old rocks in a cave on Tatooine would normally seem a little strange, but not this time. This time, something told me to look there. Even so, I was excited enough that I could barely draw breath. Were it possible to muster the moisture to sweat I would’ve been drowning in it.

-5249 2551. Every Shrubbite has those two numbers seared into our brains. They are as much a part of us as our names, our birthdays, and the memories of loved ones lost. They are coordinates. THE coordinates. They are where, untold years ago, the first Shrubbite on Tatooine cast his gaze upon the Holy Floating Shrub. About 12 feet. That’s what The Holy Book Says. About 12 feet in the air. It’s not there anymore, of course, but it WAS. Pilgrimages to the site began long before I can remember, but all Shrubbites brave the journey several times throughout their lives. One thing always remains the same: whenever Shubbites pilgrimage to the site they look up at the heavens with a far away stare that longs for The Shrub’s return. They imagine that incredibly glorious Shrub, just peacefully floating there, swaying in the breeze.

Nobody ever looks down.

Not until a week ago, anyway. That was when I started to dig.

It was just my brother and I. He is my best friend, but not my brother by blood. Rather, he’s my brother by faith, as all the Shrubbites are my Brothers and Sisters. He is also the only one I could count on to follow me on this wild crusade; the only one who wouldn’t feel as though what I was doing was a sacrilege. The Shrubbites are nothing if not friendly and understanding, but this would be a step too far. Digging a 12 foot hole underneath the site would be a tough sell, and I couldn’t take the risk that they wouldn’t understand. How could they? It was easy for me to see the cave in my mind’s eye, hidden beneath the shifting sands of both desert and time. The vision came to me by dream. Surely Shrubbites encounter visions all the time, but this was incredible. It felt like The Shrub spoke in my head, sharing thoughts with me. Finally, for the first time in my life… I could see the true glory and full breadth of The Shrub’s power. There was no choice but to act on it. I had to share this sweeping realization with all of my Brothers and Sisters, but they would need more than just the ramblings of a man with visions. They would need proof.

And there, in my hands, it was. The manuscript kept within the container looked absolutely ancient. Duraplast can keep things pristine in even the harshest conditions for thousands of years, so either this manuscript was older than time or it was already hundreds of years old when a Shrubbite placed it here an unimaginable number of years ago. Normally there would be a thick layer of dust to ceremoniously blow off before cracking the tome open, but no such covering blanketed this. The duraplast had done its job. Still, the external condition of the container told a story of its age. For duraplast to be this faded required thousands of years. To my knowledge, that was far before the sighting of The Shrub. The implications were enormous.

The bindings creaked as I gingerly eased the manuscript open. My lungs drew in a quick rush of air as the sound echoed throughout the empty cave. The last thing I wanted was to have this book disintegrate in my hands. I would need to exercise caution. I slowly turned to the first page and my heart skipped a beat. Arbusto Liber. Codex of the Shrub. The Shrub had told me how to find it. Here was the proof; here was the work of The Shrub in all its glory! I paused for a moment and peeked back into the container. Yet another manuscript looked back at me with unflinching age. I could no longer contain my excitement.

“Brother!” I yelled into the cave. “Come gaze upon the glory of The Shrub! We have found it!” I could hear his footfalls further towards the entrance. He was not fond of enclosed spaces, and decided it would be best to guard the opening against the occasional squill. His fear took a back seat to interest in The Shrub, however, and soon he was by my side, as he has often been.

“What? What have you found? Is it real? Is it of The Shrub?”

“Look for yourself!”

Our eyes locked for a brief moment before he turned his gaze to the book. He could sense my excitement and began to fidget; wiping his brow where there was no sweat. Rubbing his chin where there was no beard. Slowly he reached into the duraplast container and retrieved the other tome. This second seemed slightly less aged than the first, but there was no doubt that it too was old. He began to read through the pages of his manuscript as I read through pages of my own. The two of us like greedy thieves crouched in the dimly lit cave, lusting not for gold or jewels, but for knowledge. Every few moments I would hear him gasp as if some great revelation finally fell into place. If his tome even began to be as inspiring as mine, I understood why.

The Shrub was everywhere. It didn’t just happen on Tatooine. Tatooine hosted but one of the Shrub’s many great civilizations. This manuscript told of countless appearances on dozens of worlds all over the galaxy. Places we knew! Corellia, Alderaan, Nar Shaddaa, Subterrel, Mandalore… Mandalore! Incredible! There were more, but my mind was spinning too fast to count them all. Each place had a band of Shrubbites, and what’s more… the Shrubbites could be found in almost every chapter of galactic history taking part in some vast conflict or some historic accord, always fighting for peace and justice. The Shrub’s presence here was no accident, and this manuscript pointed to something far more fundamental.

The Shrub is OF the force as the force is OF The Shrub. They are one, but separate. The Shrub is an entity and the Force gives it life… but the Force is unbound without The Shrub to anchor it. All these years the Jedi had it wrong. They’ve been bowing to the Force when the Force bends to the will of The Shrub. Could we use this power? Could it be that Shrubbites and Jedi were two sides of the same coin? My mind reeled from the implications when my Brother shook me back to reality.

“Brother, look at this!” He said. “This book tells of a band of Shrubbites that took part in the Great Galactic War and fought for The Shrub three centuries after the fall of Darth Malek!”

“Darth Malek!? That was over three thousand years ago.” I said in a hushed whisper.

“That’s right, Brother. Three thousand years. That put them right in the middle of some of the most turbulent times in galactic history,” he said. "And... brother..."

"Yes? What is it?"

"Many were Jedi."

A shiver slowly crawled down my spine. Jedi. We could. We could use that power. He saw that I was shaken and offered the tome to me for inspection.

I placed my own book carefully down upon the cave floor and took the offering from his slightly trembling hands. I knew this new book would contain some of the most interesting and incredible tales of the Shrubbite Order, written by Shrubbites so long ago that their time is spoken of in the hushed tones reserved for legends and folklore. I held in my hands the stories of my bretheren from another time and another place, but we were the same, seperated only by time and circumstance. This was my culture. This was my history. This was my fate and my honor.

I began to read…

Project Viridian

<Locate Record Rax, Korath JC75>

*Accessing Jedi Archives*

//Load Current Record//

*Transmitting Message*

Holocron of Jedi Consular Korath Rax, Project Viridian [110613 ATC 10]

Members of the Council,

I submit the following report to Your Graces for immediate consideration and action. Although Master Ju-Wein no longer sits on the Council, prior to his departure he authorized the above referenced research project. While our fields of research have been patiently tolerated, only recently have I pieced together a puzzle the solution to which had been right in front of us all along. Each of the following artifacts, taken separately, are benign and show no particular signs of importance. When read together, however, they reveal a deep and astonishing Truth. Before you dismiss my claims as Heresy and strip me of my rank as you did Master Ju-Wein, please consider the information submitted. Attached to this record are the following Artifacts:

1. Reflective Disk recovered from Byss. Originally thought to be decorative adornment, Jedi Researcher Master Chogun-Was discovered that light passed quickly over the surface of the disk vibrated in such a way as to create sounds and images. Those sounds and images have been previously observed, but never translated. Until now. The newest phonic and protocol matrices developed have proven modestly effective at creating a template for translation of the signals embedded on the disk. A partial transcript is included.

2. Jedi Holocron (very degraded) obtained by an archaeological research team on Yavin IV. Describes the discovery of a small crystaline structure underneath one of the temple pyramids. Teeming with Midichlorians, the crystal leaf shaped item shows all the signs of life, although it appears to have no carbon based molecules.

3. Sith Holocron obtained by a Republic Trooper stationed with the Garrison on Korriban shortly before the Sith attack. It had been hidden in a quickly buried Cache of what appeared to be agricultural and mining supplies. It contained old log entries from a Sith infiltration team raiding trade routes. A short entry regarding an ambush of a research team on Yavin IV is of great interest to the current project.

4. Jedi Holocron located in the Jedi Archive - "The Heretic Writings of Pue-Dian Uridani" - Long thought to be a collection of rambling metaphors and parables, the musings of Consular Uridani were archived and hidden. It was commonly believed that the Jedi Order considered Consular Uridani to be suffereing from dementia brought on by stress and old age. Rather than ejecting him from the Order, they archived his writings and sealed them away. Only those with the highest research clearance can access them. Some entries are of special importance to the current project.

5. Sith Holocron located in the Jedi Archive - "The Entity of Light Shrouded in Darkness" by Darth Vidias - Thought to be a work of fiction or Creation Myth utilized in Sith Rites and Rituals, this story relates how the Force came to be and how it was subjugated by the ancient Sith into a path to unlimited power. Some chapters are of obvious importance to the current project.

*Pause Report*

//<Load Record "The Entity of Light Shrouded in Darkness" by Darth Vidias>//

from a speck of dust/All Life Arose/no death befalls/This Crystal Rose/approach thy test/Through Your Mind's Eye/secrets revealed/Within It Lie

those who dwell/Within The Flesh/the darklight reveals/Creation's Nest/immortal secrets/Await The Wise/can one with will/Know Death's Demise

from within/And From Without/of whence life flows/There Is No Doubt/but those who dwell/Within The Prim/reveal no secrets/The Silence Grim

its ebb and flow/Harnessed By Might/reveals all secrets/Tho Dark As Night/breaking bending/Tearing Rending/the darklight fades/Tho Remains True Sight

do those within/Now Dwell No More/tho light's dark twin/From My Rage Pours/consumed by fire/To Forever Reign/the corpus gone/This Force Remains

//<Redirect to Record "The Heretic Writings of Pue-Dian Uridani">//

Prologue

On Tython, in my youth as a padawan, I came upon a path. Beside that path there stood a tree of a most singular nature. Its color more vibrant, it seemed, than the other plantlife surrounding it. Being completed of my training for the day, I lay beneath the verdant tree and slept. For how long I do not know, because I dreamt. I cannot say at any time whether I am awake or dreaming, for it is possible that never did I wake from that slumber. Even now, some years later, I can hear their voices speaking to me.

In the beginning... Of course we know of no beginning. Life has always BEEN! In one form or another. Before the Light. Before the Darkness. There was The Force. On its wave I ride. It rises and falls like breath. On its inhale I rise. I see myself fall away beneath. Lying below the eerily green leaves of that conduit to another world. I rise into the sky and dwell among the stars. I rise above the stars and see the galactic core. I rise still and see a multitude of galaxies swirling and writhing, as if they are some living thing. I rise still and see sparkling swirl of flowing water. It is not blue as I would have expected. I look up to see a monstrous alien world hued in a purplish color of nightmares. I look down to see the flowing water. Hoping to see something, anything familiar. What I see takes my breath away. A single drop of moisture on a blade of purple dying grass. Still the inhale continues. I rise above the alien landscape. Into an alien sky and through an alien galaxy. This process repeats itself over and over until my mind can take no more. I have reached the crest of whatever Entity or Force propels me. I have time to look up only a moment before the exhale. I see astonishing light. I am in a spectacular crystaline city. There are beings here! They are aware of me, though they have no discernable features. They are beings of pure energy, long devoid of the need for corporeal husks. Suddenly I feel a longing most deep and profound. I want to stay with them. To learn from them. I am desperate to be among them, to be one of them... but then I fall. Back through the infinite levels of existence... of space... of time. Is it all one and the same? Still my mind cannot comprehend.

As I flow downward into myself, I see all manner of life. Some basic. Some complex. Some attain intelligence and form into societies. Some societies engulf their planets, their systems, their galaxies and some span the whole of the universe. They rise and they inevitably fall. Some by destruction from without. Some by destruction from within, but fall they do. And always, there is The Force. Aeons melt into aeons innumerable. When I reach the bottom of the breath, I find myself in the same crystaline city facing the same beings of pure energy. I can feel their greeting as if I were an old friend. And I was old. Had I not just observed ten thousand times ten thousand lifetimes? Two of the beings approached me. Taking me not by the hand, for they had no hands with which to manipulate me, I flowed... Yes, that is the only fitting description. I flowed with them along one of the shimmering crystaline streets. As we moved, I felt more than heard whispers in the back of my mind. I was told a great many things.

The Nature of Life

Life may arise in the vastness of the sea or on a grain of sand. Thus these beings came to be. On a speck of dust floating through the universe, their society was born. These beings powered the engine of their exploration with a Force. It bound their worlds together, it held together the very fabric of their space and time. So attuned were they to this Force, that they became immortal. Shedding their corporeal bodies, they coalesced, blended and fused. No longer individuals, they formed a collective conciousness. Though they spanned eternity, their coalescence resulted in a single Entity on a single planet near the core of a single galaxy. They were at once singularity and Infinity. Their singularity took the form of a gigantic crystaline tree who's leaves never fall. From this immortal eden, these beings created new life. All manner of creature and plant, from the largest beast to the smallest microbe, and they delighted in it. Inside all fantastic manner of being they created, their essence was imbued.

The Nature of the Force

I saw before me a mighty river. Its waters flowed over a vast flat expanse, without order or form. Over time, the waters found the natural faults and causeways in the ground and were guided into a focused powerful current. That current may be manipulated or directed, either naturally or by intervening force. Some bends come about by accretion, and others may be caused by some structure placed by simple creatures or more intelligent beings. With all things, the river flows. The river does not care about its course. Nature favors neither order nor chaos, so the river favors neither. The river is.

The Parable of Duality

Revealed to me was a Justicar and a Brigand. The Justicar's duty was to uphold society's law. The Brigand's pursuit was violence for personal gain. Along a lengthy travelling path, the Justicar would daily patrol, keeping watch for those who would trespass against authority. The Brigand hid by the side of the path until the Justicar passed, then robbed a traveller of their wealth. So frustrated was the Justicar that he could not catch the Brigand, he petitioned the authority to make illegal leaving the travelling path so that the Brigand could not hide. The next day, the Justicar patrolled. The Brigand disguised himself as a travelling farmer, and when the Justicar had passed, robbed a traveller of their wealth. The Justicar petitioned the authority to make wearing a disguise illegal, and the next day set out on his patrol. The Brigand travelled the path openly and was not recognized by the Justicar, and only after the Justicar passed him by and was out of sight did he rob a traveller of his wealth. The Justicar finally petitioned the authority to make illegal the carrying of wealth along the travelling path. The next day the Justicar set out along the path to patrol. When he came upon any traveller, he would detain them, search them, and confiscate their illegally transported wealth if he found it. When he came upon the Brigand, the Brigand slew the Justicar. The travellers hailed the Brigand as a hero, for he had freed them from the oppression of the Justicar. A lamp cannot see its own shadows, and where light is brightest, the shadows are deep.

The Nature of Time

There is an old saying that if you stay in one place long enough, the Galaxy will pass you by. My Master once told me that it included me! Time is a wheel and the axis is the Force. If the observer in that ancient maxim is the Force, is it no wonder our destinies are shaped with such precision? Is it any wonder that attunement allows one to glimpse both the past AND the future?

To know the Truth would be to know madness. To see the Universe for what it is, both on its face and underneath the surface, requires more than any person's mind is capable. Such a mind would cease to be human and become something else entirely. That all of this has happened before, and all of this shall happen again. That there is no multiverse or alternate dimensions as our greatest scientific minds would have us believe. All imagined realities can and do come to pass with the passage of time. Time and space are illusions to the Force. It shapes our destinies as if they have already happened, because they have. In infinite permutations, the universe moves on.

Epilogue

My walk with the luminous beings seemed to go on and on, and I was shown a great many things. Eventually, I was brought back to my sleeping body. When I awoke, I found that barely any time had passed at all. I was expected to return to my training, which I did with solemn duty, although I was forever after an ancient man in a young man's body. Now as I approach the precipice of old age and failing health, I am at peace. Soon I shall join my old friends and walk again on that luminous crystaline causeway. I shall be one with eternity... I shall be one.

//<Redirect to Record "Holocron of Jarron Yarr, Marauder Infiltrator for the Sith Empire, Raid Log [110622-110930 BTC 140]">//

//Parsing Pertinent Record//

110729 BTC 140: Destroyed a group of Republic rats ransacking one of our Ancient Temples on Yavin IV. Spoils were light, but interesting. The grave robbers had located the entrance to an underground structure that is unknown and not on any current maps of the area. The firefight left the entrance badly damaged and collapsed. An inventory of equipment confiscated includes: 8 Heavy Ion Blasters, 3 Blaster Rifles, 7 excavation kits, 8 packs of 20 each: Advanced Medpacks, 4 packs of 10 each: Adrenals, 1 Field Surgical Medkit, 1 composite container. Inside the composite container we found an odd greenish blue crystal sculpture in the shape of a leaf. Testing revealed high midichlorian levels, but no Force disturbance or signature emanates from the item. Although we thought the Republic dogs were stealing Sith Artifacts, there are no known artifacts matching this description in our records. Subspace communication with the Inquisitor Cruiser stationed just outside the Galactic Rim resulted in Orders to return to Sith Space and compare the item to a similar artifact discovered in deep, extra-galactic space.

/<Redirect to Record "Holocron of Sophis Madra, Jedi Knight, Mission Log [110718-110728 BTC 140]">//

110718 BTC 140: Departed Coruscant today. Last minute briefing at the Jedi Temple with Master Uro put us behind by several hours. We'll reach Yavin IV likely after nightfall in the target hemisphere. So much secrecy in this mission. Since when do archeological digs merit the attention of so many council members?

110719 BTC 140: Base Camp Established in the Shadow of what is being called Blueleaf Temple. Interestingly enough, our dig site is said to be 3 Kilometers South Southwest of here. We set out at mid-day. I find myself wondering what I'm doing this far outside of the Galactic Core. Of course, I know the answer. Curiosity. Since I was a child, I've always enjoyed discovery. Its why I trained as a Jedi. Its why I chose research as my focus. Some people leave home for the adventure. For me, its always been the mystery.

110720 BTC 140: The dig site is... well... there's nothing here. I guess that's why they call it a "dig" site. We're exacting probing excavations around the general area. Hopefully something will turn up. I search my feelings. As with all Massasi areas, I sense the Dark Side of the Force, but not as pronounced here. I wonder why.

110721 BTC 140: This morning Bikal found something. A stone structure, quite possibly the top corner of an underground building. Will be unearthing it for the rest of the day. The Dark Side influence I felt yesterday seems to have abated completely.

110722 BTC 140: Its definitely an underground, built structure. Resonant imaging shows its large, but cannot penetrate deep enough to reveal its internal components, rooms, etc. We've excavated an arched gateway with stone steps leading down. We're already 10 meters down and there's no indication of a break in the tunnel.

110723 BTC 140: ...(degraded signal, unable to retrieve)...

110724 BTC 140: We've excavated over 50 meters down the stairs at a constant 45 degree incline, and haven't breached a chamber. Bikal hopes we aren't digging to the Massasi underworld. I'm beginning to believe this structure may not be a Temple. While the Massasi markings adorned the entrance, there are no ceremonial engravings in the hallway leading downward. I suppose we'll have to keep going til we can't to find out. At this point, I'm not sure I'm willing to call off the dig even if we have to go 100 more meters.

110725 BTC 140: This morning we broke through into a large room. It is clearly made by hand. Smooth walls, alcoves. There is even what appeared initially to be an altar in the center of the room. Turns out our "Altar" was a sarcophagus, so it appears this is a tomb. Oddly enough, the sarcophagus appears to be empty, even though there's no indication of prior entrance over at least 1000 years. Perhaps the person it was intended for was laid to rest elsewhere. Massasi carvings adorn the interior walls. The alcoves, though, are interesting. There are four, oriented mid wall on each of the four points of the compass. Around the interior of the alcoves, there are pictograms that differ greatly from the Massasi glyph writing common to the period of the temples. We are recording them for research back at the Jedi Temple. The one in the Western alcove is very interesting to me. My eyes are almost drawn to it. In the center, a figure, clearly a Sith, is sitting lotus on a cushion or pillow. He is surrounded by four... I can really only guess they are stars. They appear to be flames hovering above the ground and radiating light. On the interior of the flame, there appears to be lightning branching in all directions. Sith have a very strange way of picturing stars. They almost look like small plants or shrubs, but no known plant emanates light, much less from above the ground. ...(inaudible)... Bikal tells me they've discovered an air pocket underneath the sarcophagus, and that there appears to be a source of illumination inside. I am suddenly quite excited... elated really with the prospects of what it may be. They are bringing it out now, I'll report back when I know something.

110726 BTC 140: ...(degraded signal, unable to retrieve)...

110727 BTC 140: I woke again late last night, dreaming about the artifact. It confounds me. If I could just piece the puzzle together, I'd have the answers. Bikal is right, I need a long rest after this mission.

110728 BTC 140: Ran some more tests. Have no idea how the artifact contains midichlorians but displays no discernable Force signature. I know I should return immediately to the Jedi Temple and report my findings, but there are still questions to be answered. This isn't an obsession, no matter what Bikal tells me. I just need a little more time to study this... Entity... before I can make any reliable findings known. With some more tests, maybe I'll understand its... (inaudible)... (blaster fire)... ENDLOG

//<Redirect to Record "Transcript of Byss Disk (Audio Only), by Jedi Master Chogun-Was">//

The text that follows is an audio only transcript of the "Byss Disk". The images discovered on the disk are stored separately in the Jedi Archives. The creatures in the images appear almost completely human. It is clear they are partially, if not wholly, related to us by phenotype. Because no genetic material exists on which to base a genomic comparison, our actual divergence, if any, will for now remain a mystery. All the images collected are viewable only in two dimensions. This may mean that they were only able to perceive the world in two dimensions or that their technology wasn't such as to record three dimensions similar to ours. The spacing of their eyes suggests perception in three dimensions, but again, no empirical tests may be conducted.

The age of the disk is impossible to determine. It is made of an unknown silicate material that is nearly unbreakable. The surface of the disk, upon rudimentary and microscopic inspection reveals nothing but a smooth even surface. It was not until the administration of an "electron bath" cleaning of the disk that it became clear that there are near atomic scale variations underneath a micron thin layer of crystal clear material. It became immediately apparent that the disk held a great amount of information. Investigation so far has only revealed the audio and random images. As our protocol matrices improve, so shall our knowledge of the extent of the information pool.

The transcript:

"December 15, 5372 - Maybe I should just say Day One. I'm not sure of where or even WHEN we are. Space Travel can get funny, or so I'm told. My name is Major John Lucas Carter. I am the Commanding Officer of the USC Odyssey. Myself and a group of eleven other survivors are marooned on an unknown planet in unknown space.

A roster of surviving crew is as follows: Myself (Executive Officer), Captain Leo Goodwyn (Astrogation Officer), Lieutenant Jarvis Washington (Junior Electrical Engineer), Lieutenant Roger Morrison (Executive Staff), Gunnery Sergeant Raymond Daggett (Master-at-Arms), Lance Corporal William Gardner, Private Jacob Alexander, Private Donnie Huffstutlar, Private Gene Pearson, Arnold Huypac (Mission Specialist, Astrophysics), Rajesh Pyara (Mission Specialist, Oracle Engineering), Dr. Laura Carter (Medical Unit).

The Odyssey was test firing the experimental Oracle Jump Drive. Move to the edge of the Solar System. Cycle up. Cycle down. Come home. That was our mission. The Odyssey is the Solar Commonwealth's most advanced exploration vessel and, even with only the Test Skeleton Crew, had over 100 souls on board. We had reached our optimal distance of 5000 terameters and proceeded to engage the Oracle Drive's engines. According to Pyara, the cycle-up to an actual Gravity Well Jump should be approximately 2.5 minutes to maximum power. According to Lieutenant Washington, the Oracle Drive's meters were pegging inside Fourty-five seconds. With that kind of energy expansion going on below us, we looked to the Colonel for orders. He just stared at me and said 'My God, John. What have we done?' I didn't have a choice. I ordered the flight crew to jump. We could stay and explode or see what was on the other side of the fence. I'm not convinced I made the right call.

When the jump was complete, everything was silent. I don't know how or why because I could see the chaos around me. Everyone was in the air... almost floating. Outside the forward portals I could see blue sky. It looked beautiful... serene. There was a wisp of cloud in the distance. Bright sunlight, warm on my face. I wouldn't know until later that we had materialized in the lower atmosphere and upside down, hurtling toward the ground at terminal velocity. I suppose its lucky that the Oracle Drive is heavy and in the lower holds of our ship. The Odyssey had enough time to flip about 200 degrees before impact. Had the vessel landed on its back, we'd all be dead. As it was, the Engineering Compartments took the brunt of the impact, followed by the crew mess and quarters. The miracle is that there was no explosion. Thankfully, solid and liquid fuel cells were replaced ages ago by electron propulsion. I'm not sure what the Oracle Drive used as fuel. All I know is that it won't use anything as fuel ever again. What should have been our tomb is now our home... at least until we can get to know our surroundings better.

I know I should be more disciplined. I am an Officer of the Commonwealth, but I couldn't even begin to think straight until I found my wife. Why the brass OK'd a wife serving on her husbands deployment would be appropriate, I'll never know. I tried to talk her out of it, but she's never been one to back away from a new experience. The medical bays were on the level above the crew quarters. She was the only one alive. Thank GOD. Just a few bumps and bruises. Like the rest of us survivors. Its truly a miracle we didn't die with the rest of them. We finally locate a hatch we can open.

Another miracle! We can breathe. Although we can't test the molecular structure of the planetary atmosphere, its close enough. Against my wife's threats, I insisted they all wait inside for 5 minutes in case I got a batch of the crazies or bends. They gave me 3. Unlike our world, this planet appears to be a single ecosystem with no discernable variation in climate. It is lush with vegetation. I am a little wierded out by how familiar some of the plants and trees look. When I get close, I can certainly tell they are difference species, but by God if this place doesn't look JUST like Guatemala. Some quick experiments with sticks and shadow reveal this world is much smaller than Earth, yet it feels as if the gravitational effect is equivalent. I'll have to ask Huypac about that. Looking up at the star illuminating this world opens some additional questions. It is either too small or too far away to be providing this much light. Its a brightness I'd approximate to midday at home. The glow becomes heavier on the horizon. It seems we may have an answer in a few hours. It would be amazing to awake to twin suns. We shall see. Although we're thankful to be alive, rescue is not coming. We are stuck here."

"Day Two - We got the answer to our light problem. It appears we are very near the Galactic Center. The clusters of stars making up the core put off an amazing amount of light. Still, even with the small star we orbit, the temperature is perfect and the weather is beautiful. I don't know what we're going to call this place, but as far as castaways go, we hit the jackpot. We haven't seen any indigenous life, but then again a flaming ball of metal fell out of the sky yesterday. I'll assume any 'intelligent' life may have headed for the hills. All joking aside, I am sending Gunny out with his squad for reconnaisance. We need to locate sources of food and water as quickly as possible. What little we salvaged from the mess will maybe last us a few weeks. Securing our location and survival are our orders of the day."

"Day Five - No time for reporting before now. Turns out the indigenous wildlife is mostly nocturnal. Several types of mamallian rodents and reptilian quadrupeds inhabit the immediate area, and we'll likely be able to feed ourselves indefinitely. Water is still an issue. The presence of clouds in the sky implies the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere, and the air becomes relatively humid at night, but Gunny has not yet found a source of water."

"Day Nine - On the day our water stores ran dry, Our recon patrol brought back fantastic news! A partially underground lake is approximately 4 kilometers to our north. Pvt. Huffstutlar reports that the lake is mostly enclosed in a grotto and that it is easily defensible. Its a long way to haul water, but I’m not sure we should leave the safety of the ship’s hull. The crew knows it is impossible to get home, but Laura tells me that these last few things we have that are familiar, even the crushed hull of the Odyssey, are soothing to the mind. For now, we'll make trips in shifts."

"Day Ten - Huffstutlar and Pearson brought back water this afternoon and reported they had been exploring the grotto. Between some boulders far back in the cave there was a passage that emerged into a valley on the other side. They were very adamant that we all go with them to the grotto... that they had something for us to see. I'm reluctant, but they are persistent and excited. I've got a bad feeling about this..."

"Day Eleven - We're stayed overnight at the grotto. What we saw in the valley beyond the grotto was spectacular! You emerge from the cavern entrance into a dense jungle. Moving in about 100 meters, the jungle fades into low ferns and shrubs. In the center of the almost perfectly spherical clearing at least 1000 meters across is a gigantic crystal tree. Its a single tree. Of that I have no doubt, but its main body is made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller trunks intertwined rising up through the jungle mists. The canopy is so wide we cannot see the top. Branches grow from it in sizes ranging from a few inches in diameter near the base to what appears to be up to 100 feet in diameter near the canopy. Every branch is covered in what can only be described as leaves made of the same crystal as the body. The hard surface is opaque. Laura tried to take a sample, but she couldn't snap off any piece. We stood around the thing, gaping up in awe at its sheer size, and its abject alienness. The crew asked to move our camp to the grotto. I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of leaving our "home" behind. The fact that they are so eager to become truly at home in this alien world makes me feel somehow inferior. I wonder if I should let go of the familiar and comfortable. Still, I say the safety and strategic importance of our crash site is too important to give up. Gunny and the boys ignored me and called for a vote by everyone. I should have Ordered them to stand down. Marooned or not, we're still Commonwealth Soldiers. But I didn't. Everyone but me, Huypac, Goodwyn and Washington voted to stay in the grotto. Laura voted to move here! I know she is curious about the tree, but I was hurt. With that single instance, our structured lives will fall apart. Those four Marines will do anything Gunny says. Pyara seems pretty dead set on staying. if I can get Morrison and Laura to listen to reason, maybe we can get everyone back focused on survival. For now, I'm afraid it may be every man for himself."

"Day Fifteen - Its been four days since we relocated to the grotto, and by extension the Valley. We've been in this clearing a majority of the time. The scientists are doing their sciency thing, studying, testing, thinking. The Marines spend a majority of their time just looking at the thing. Most of the officers and I have kept to foraging for food or trapping. Laura has still been working on one of the leaves on the lowest branch. It won't budge, and she's even taken to hitting it with a rock. When she's not trying to break that leaf off, she's lying down at its base. I ask her if she's sleeping, but she says she's just 'resting her eyes' and 'wrestling with the angel'. I'd never heard her use that term before. I took her to mean she was working on something theoretical in her mind. I'm not so sure anymore."

"Day Sixteen - Something amazing happened last night. The light from the galactic core was shining down from directly above the tree. As the rotation of the planet brought it into perfect alignment, the tree began to glow with a cool green light. It was beautiful enough just to watch, and we did for several minutes. I almost didn't notice the objects around me rising into the air. One of them brushed against the small of Gardner's back and he let out a high pitched yelp far too effeminate for a Marine. We couldn't help but laugh. Gardner's face turned bright red, or so I guessed, in the soft green glow. Our laughter didn't last long, though. We watched as, here and there, the small shrubs and ferns making up the clearing began rising into the night sky. As they floated in and around us, their roots extended, folded into themselves, and the plant itself became almost spherical in shape. Slowly they rose. Laura approached one and held out her hand to touch it. She pushed her hand into the fronds of the fern that, only moments before, had been firmly and logically affixed to the ground. 'Nothing,' she said. 'No electical fields, no magnetic fields. I don't feel anything but the texture of the plant.' As she bent to pick up a blade to take a sample, the glow subsided. The galactic core had passed beyond perfect alignment. The shrubs and ferns, which had reached hights of roughly 10-12 feet, slowly began to return to the ground. 'How often does that happen do you think?' Huypac said, more breaking the silence than actually asking. Washington replied that an alignment of a fixed point in space with a fixed point on a rotating moving three dimensional object like a planet was... well... astronomical. This morning, at first light, Morrison and I examined the plants around the clearing for anomalies. Everything was as it had been the day before. I'd almost think it was a dream I'd had if I didn't hear everyone talking about it. Always hushed. No one wanted to say too loud what we'd all seen last night, otherwise we'd probably all go crazy."

"Day Twenty - Washington is dead. Gardner shot him in the night when he got up to relieve himself. Gardner swears he was having a nightmare. I don't know what to do with him. I don't know if we SHOULD do anything with him. Wasn't it just an accident? None of us have slept too soundly the last several nights. Dreams mostly. Not necessarily bad, just vivid. Laura said something about needing more deep sleep and less REM sleep, but I didn't follow. I'm so tired. Laura noticed somethign after we buried Washington in our clearing. The leaf she'd been working on for days had broken off. It did not, however, fall to the ground. It was floating just behind and above where it had been attached to the tree. She took it and wrapped it in a cloth. Even though it had been floating, it was easy enough to store. This led Huypac to declare that it wasn't some type of anti-gravity keeping the leaf afloat. He and Laura have been theorizing non-stop since she found it."

"Day Twenty Two - I don't know what's happening to us. Three Marines are dead, Gunny and Alexander are tied up in the grotto and Morrison is badly wounded. It started yesterday when I suggested we start sleeping at the ship in shifts. The vivid dreams kept coming and we were all suffering from lack of deep sleep. I thought the tree might be the cause. Laura says it could be Post Traumatic Stress, survivor's guilt or some other psychological condition indemic to deep space exploration. For the safety of the crew, I issued orders for the Marines to take first shift at the crash site. I've never seen Gunny with that look in his eyes. Anger mixed with... something... paranoia? The five marines immediately drew weapons. Stunned, I tried to reason with them. To help them see that I was trying to help and that what they were doing was from a lack of sleep. It never occurred to me, in my deprived state, that they would actually kill anyone. Morrison had been foraging, and had come back at exactly the worst (or best, depending on your point of view) time, and he had his sidearm. He wasn't a hardened marine, but he was good with his sidearm. Pearson was dead before we registered the shots. Then everyone opened fire. I had nowhere to go. I was standing directly in the middle, but never was hit. Huypac and Pyara dove for cover. Goodwyn took out Huffstutlar and Gardner. Alexander fired four times at Morrison. The last one tore a hole in his stomach. Laura screamed. I watched, in excruciating slow motion, Gunny turn his rifle toward her. I could feel him pulling the trigger. I reached out to her... screamed her name in my mind. The same silence fell over me that I had felt in the Odyssey during our freefall through the atmosphere. Laura fell over on her back just as the hammer fell, sending metallic death travelling at the speed of sound into the jungle behind her. Had I had time to think about it (or been thinking at all), I would have thought she just tripped, but at least she was safe. I had other things to worry about. I felt Gunny hesitate only slightly, having seen his intended target fall out of his sight. Then I felt him turn the barrell on me. I saw it all so clearly. What he was going to do, when he was going to do it. I could feel his anger, primal and irrational... his rage at being ordered to leave the presence of what he had come to believe was a heavenly being. I closed my eyes. I reached out to the rifles in the marines' hands. Felt for their forms... could almost feel the composite material they were made from. Then I felt the explosion, or what I thought was an explosion. When I opened my eyes, Gunny and Alexander were on their backs unconcious. Huypac was standing behind me, his eyes wide, staring at his hands. As Goodwyn secured the marines and Laura tended to Morrison, he told me 'I just wanted them to stop.' From above us, we heard a few pops and cracks, as if something had broken off the tree. We can't see anything, though. Until we know what's wrong with Gunny and Alexander, we'll have to leave them tied up. After surviving everything we have, no one else needs to die!"

"Day Twenty Three - We buried the marines and Morrison with Washington. Laura took it pretty hard she couldn't help Morrison. She turned back to studying the leaf she had taken with Huypac. Goodwyn and Pyara are watching Gunny and Alexander. I looked up as we finished laying our friends to rest and saw the source of the cracking sounds. Four more leaves had broken off their branches. Each a few meters away from the breaking point, and apparently above the branch they came from. I point it out to Laura and Huypac. They believe that what we're observing is Centrifugal Force. The rotation of the planet and its motion through space causes what would normally be stationary objects in space, the floating leaf, to rise out and away from the center of motion. It is all way above my head. Because we're too far below the leaves to grab them, we'll continue to watch them and see where they go. Huypac and I also discussed the strange events of yesterday. How was I able to have such hyper-aware senses? Did he really push over two marines from 20 feet away? Laura confims that she felt a physical force push her over. She thought, at first, that she had been shot, only later to learn what Huypac and I had felt and done. We'll have to discuss this more."

"Day Twenty Five - How Gunny got out of his bindings, I'll never know. Goodwyn probably never knew what hit him. A bloody rock was found next to his body. Pyara shot Alexander trying to escape, but Gunny is gone. So few of us are left. The last thing we need is a psychotic marine stalking us. Maybe he'll run for greener pastures? I doubt it. In other news, Huypac and I have been experimenting with what we're calling telekinesis. Even without stressors, we're able to, with great focus, move small objects. Its the most amazing feeling! Almost like pins and needles, like your foot falling asleep, but in your MIND. Pyara shows no interest in what he calls 'parlor tricks'. He spends his time sitting underneath the tree sleeping or writing. We're all still having overly lucid dreams, but I guess you can get used to anything. My fatigue is almost completely gone. We all feel like we're in better shape than ever. Two more leaves broke off after Goodwyn and Alexander died. The others have risen out of sight."

"Day Thirty - Apparently its like a muscle, your mind. Huypac and I have gone from moving small stones and sticks to lifting composite crates. Pyara has been irritated by our joviality to the extent he's taking long walks to avoid listening to us go on like kids playing a game. Laura tolerates our company in a bemused way. She watches us like we're lab rats. No sign of Gunny. Maybe I was right. Maybe he has moved on and intends to leave us alone."

"Day Fifty Nine - Almost two months since we crashed, but it feels like it could have been a lifetime ago. Huypac and I are making steady progress with our telekinetics. Pyara and Laura have been studying the tree. We know no more now than we did seven weeks ago. They keep going back to the leaf she collected. Convinced there's something about its crystaline structure that resonates or something. They keep talking about resonances and frequencies, but I have no idea what they are talking about. If Huypac has any idea, he's keeping it to himself for now."

"Day Sixty - Gunny woke me in the middle of the night. I wasn't sure if I was awake or dreaming. He had snuck in while we slept, coveed my mouth with his hand and hissed at me not to move. He told me he'd been to other parts of the planet. That there were creatures here. Intelligent creatures. Similar to us in size and shape, but wholly alien. What he told me then was unbelievable. He said we had to leave. Me, Laura and Huypac as quickly as possible. He told me that Pyara had killed Goodwyn and shot Alexander. That he would have shot him, too, if he hadn't been able to move at what felt like superhuman speed. He told me that during the stand off with the marines, he hadn't been himself. He felt like someone, or something, was in his mind with him... commanding him. He had watched our camp for a few days to make sure Pyara didn't hurt us, then he left. He intended to stay gone in order to atone for his actions, but one night he had a dream that we were in danger. He had to come back to warn us. I was shocked when he paused in his story. I waited for him to continue. It was then I realized he was struggling to breath. I looked over my shoulder and Pyara was standing behind me. On his face he bore a grin so terribly fiendish, I caught my breath. His outstretched hand grasped an unseen object. When he crushed it, I heard the snap in Gunny's neck and he fell to the ground. Pyara had apparently been flexing his own 'muscles' during our stay under the tree. He once again grasped empty air, and I felt my breath escape me. I struggled to take in air, but my throat was contracting. I felt myself lift up off of the ground. Pyara told me he had heard it calling him. Even on Earth. It had told him to overcharge the Oracle Drive, causing the accidental jump. All I could think of were the lives we'd lost... sacrificed for his macabre pilgrimage. The rage overtook me. Washington, Pearson, Huffstutlar, Morrison, Gunny... everyone. Dead at his hand or his design. Suddenly I could feel his invisible fingers around my throat. I took one and bent it backward. I imagined I could break it... or break him. Pyara's grip was released. The painful grimace I saw wiped away that horrid grin, and I was glad. I reached for his belt, although I was 10 feet away from him. Grabbed it in my mind's eye and threw him against the tree. His impact was hard. Harder than a man should be able to take. I heard cracks and crashes from above me. The tree was groaning! I felt it. I rose into the air, lifted by unseen hands and crashed to the ground. The fall should have killed me, but I got up and fought on. I was almost blinded, seething with an anger I never knew possible. What saved me was her scream. Laura and Huypac had been awoken by the combat. Upon hearing her, I turned. She was looking at me. Her face twisted in abject horror at what she saw. She didn't fear Pyara in that moment. She feared ME. Pyara's hand went out, and I saw her throat clench. In that single instant in time, all my rage, my anger melted away. I thought of nothing more than protecting her... my wife. My love. I moved in front of her and turned to face Pyara, shouting at him to release her. I ran at him, intending to tackle him to the ground. I could sense Huypac behind me, coming to my aid. As I reached in my mind to throw Pyara, he stretched out his hand. I saw a purple flash, and then I saw nothing..."

"Day Sixty One - I awoke with the sunlight warming my face. Laura and Huypac were tending to my wounds. None life threatening, but some good gashes and bruises. Pyara was gone. Huypac told me their battle lasted for hours, but he had ultimately fled. As I looked up into the tree, I saw thousands of the crystaline leaves had been knocked loose and were slowly, almost imperceptably, rising into the sky. 'what will happen to them?' I asked. 'Where will they go?' Huypac answered 'I don't know. Other worlds, I guess, if they ever find them. The planet, the solar system, the galaxy even are always in motion. Those leaves may be the only stable objects in the universe.' No one wants to say it, but with Pyara still out there, we should move on. Both Huypac and I feel he's done with the tree, for now. Maybe we'll seek out these intelligent creatures Gunny told us about. Maybe we'll find something else. Where there's intelligence, there's the possibility of further communication. We'll talk tonight and decide on a course of action."

"Day Sixty Two - We're setting off toward the west this morning. We're only taking what we need to survive, so I'll be leaving this recorder behind. I've only really been making the logs out of habit, and perhaps for sanity's sake to keep some semblance of my pre-crash life intact. But that life is over. We have new mysteries to explore. Huypac and I will continue to test ourselves and our limits. Laura is bringing her tree specimen along, hoping someone, somewhere can tell us more about it. I feel very positive about our future, unknown as it may be."

"Day Sixty Two (Supplemental) - We're leaving shortly. Huypac and Laura are gathering last minute things from the crash site, so I'll enter this quickly. During a meditation, I concentrated on Laura. I felt her mind and her body. Something had changed. Where there was one heartbeat before, I now felt two. She's pregnant. With all the stress of the crash and responsibilities I've had, not to mention the lack of privacy, we haven't been intimate since before we left Earth. My mind refuses to believe it, but she must have been with someone else here. My mind immediately goes to Huypac. They've spent so much time together, I'm surprised I didn't suspect them before. I've been a blind fool. I'll keep this to myself. I'm not convinced she knows her condition yet. I'll deal with them later. For now... I'll wait."

//End Record//

<<<<<<<<<< Save Message >>>>>>>>>>

*Attach Archived Message - Project Veridian*

My faithful apprentice, as you can see, there are deep and disquieting mysteries contained in this record. I have been summoned before the Jedi Council to present my findings in person. I have sensed disturbances in the Force leading me to copy my report to you for safekeeping. Should my worst fears be realized and you not hear from me, understand that this may be the ONLY collection of these records left. Do not be surprised if the Jedi Archives are purged of this information. As you know, "if it isn't in the Jedi Archives, it doesn't exist" is used to explain anachronisms. Guard this information with your life. Take it and preserve it. Spread this knowledge wherever you can. I do not ask you to betray the Jedi Order. I ask you to save it, if indeed they would rather supress this information rather than study and learn from it. Keep it, and yourself, safe. May the Force be with you. KR
__________________________________________________________________________________

[As you close the message, you gaze out the window of your starship. Whoever this "apprentice" was, they didn't do a very good job of keeping this message safe. As you punch the coordinates into your navigation system, the corners of your mouth bend upwards in a smile... ]

Shroud of Darkness

BOOM! "Again? How many blasts are you people going to do in a day?" Samael asked after yet another explosion at this archaeological dig on Tatooine. "What are you people even looking for?" he asked turning to look at the Twi'lek in charge of the site, "We are told that there is something of interest here." "And what, exactly, might that be?" The Twi'lek looked at him trying to decide weather or not he wanted to share this precious information. "Hmmm... There has been rumors that a sith holocron is somewhere here." "A SITH holocron?!" "Yes... intriguing isn't it?" Samael was lost for words. A real sith holocron, what are the chances that one could be here on tatooine? BOOM! It wasn't the explosion that shook Sam from his thoughts but the voices screaming "We found it! We found the Holocron! We found it!" Hearing that Sam and the Twi'lek overseer jumped from their seats rushing to the dig site. "We found it! We found it!" They kept on shouting. As soon as same and the Twi'lek reached the site they saw people of many different races shouting and running around and as they were looking the found one of the workers a Rodian holding a black pyramid artifact. With the exception of some dirt from the ever present sands of Tatooine, it looked brand new. "Give it to me." The Twi'lek said to the Rodian worker holding out his hand. But the Rodian didn't move a muscle. Everyone grew quiet waiting to see what would happen next. "Give it here, now." still no response. The Rodian just stood there, he could hear whispers in a very ancient and dark archaic language, he had never heard the language before but for some reason he understood what it was saying. The Twi'lek was getting angry seeing one of his works disobey him "GIVE IT TO ME!" He yelled raising his hand to hit the Rodian, but Sam grabbed his arm "Wait." The Twi'lek stopped and looked with disbelief at Sam who was he to be giving the Twi'lek orders. "Just wait, please." Sam said letting go of the Twi'leks arm. "Fine, I will wait. But only for a moment then this worker will die for disobeying me." Sam chuckled "Oh trust me. You won't have to wait very long for either of those things to happen." Suddenly the Rodian started screaming in agony. He was throwing his arms around wildly but the holocron stayed in his grasp. The Rodian suddenly dropped to his knees blood was oozing out of his ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. The Twi'lek looked at his worker shocked he looked at Sam for an explanation only to see Sam smiling. "What in the name of-" "The holocron was booby trapped." Sam said cutting the Twi'lek off. "It was made like that so no random thug could just take it and learn all of its secrets." The Rodian was dead now laying in the dirt of Tatooine the holocron then shock from the hands of the Rodian and started to hover in the air. Suddenly a hologram of a dark figure appeared, "Who are you that is foolish enough to try and steal from me?" The Twi'lek started to stammer but Sam cut him off by raising his hand. "I am" Said Sam, "But I am not trying to steal from you my lord only to learn from you." The dark figure looked at Sam "I see... You are strong in the force I will grant you that much. What reasons do you have to learn from me?" "I am Samael apprentice of the Sith. I wish to learn your secrets so that I may over throw my masters and to prove that I am the only one worthy of being the true Sith Lord." The dark figure didn't speak for a moment then said "If you listen to what I have to say and learn what I have to teach, then you will be great beyond imagining, but to be the True Sith Lord, then you must have the knowledge on how to use the power I will teach you." "I will do whatever you ask and I will be the next Sith Lord." The Twi'lek couldn't believe what was going on he turned to Sam, "What are you talking about? You are no Sith apprentice!" The dark figure turned to see the Twi'lek then looked back at Sam, "Prove to me you are who you say you are, kill this Twi'lek using the force only." The Twi'leks eyes went wide "What?! No, I mean no disrespect my Lord!" He turned to Sam whos eyes suddenly seemed darker then he remembered "Please don't do this!" Sam stopped for a moment in thought. The Twi'lek took a breath, but as he was inhaling his throat constricted and he rose into the air he looked at Sam who had his hand out as if he was choking someone, it was only then that the Twi'lek realized that Sam was choking him. "No my lord." The Twi'lek croaked, but it was too late Sam squeezed his hand shut snapping the neck of the Twi'lek with the force. The dark figure seemed pleased, "Very good apprentice, now if you want to learn from me first you must hear my story. I do not worship the same gods as other sith do but rather I worship the Shrub, and if you wish to learn from me you must too worship and follow the Shrub. I will tell you my story so that you may understand the powers that the Shrub can grant you." "I will listen my Lord, tell me your story." "Very well then..." suddenly the hologram changed from the dark form and instead showed a planet...

This is my home planet Alpheridies, the adopted planet of the Miraluka after the destruction of our homeworld of Katarr. My name back then was Angel. I was like every other Miraluka, which means I was born without eyes and I used the force to "see" the world around me. But, I was exceptionally powerful in the force more so than most other Miraluka. So the Jedi came to our planet looking for talented children like myself, they took me and a few of my brethren back to Coruscant, to the Jedi temple to learn in the ways of the force. After a few years I had excelled most rapidly, so much so that I even shocked a few of the Master Jedi on the council. I was the first of my brethren to graduate to Padwan and get a master, but they soon caught up. My best friend that came from Alpheridies with me was the second to graduate, and like most Miraluka I saw him as a brother to me. It was not long after he had gotten his master that we were sent on a mission together him with his master and me with mine. We were told to go to Tatooine for there was some sort of disturbance over there we couldn't get any clear details some said there was a large gathering of smugglers and there was about to be a war against smuggling factions and others said that the sith were there planing to destroy the Jedi. So the council sent us to investigate, my brother and I were excited to go on this mission for it was our first, our masters cautioned us though not to get too excited for such emotions would lead us to the darkside. We obeyed but we still couldn't wait. We made it to Tatooine without a problem and as we were heading towards the coordinates given to us our ship was surrounded getting shot at from ever side. It was pirates! They were shooting and shooting we tried to fight back but our guns were damaged and we couldn't run cause our engines were the first thing destroyed. We were heading towards the planet now our ship more like a meteor now. Just before we hit the ground my master jumper towards me and surrounded me in the Force creating a shield around my entire body. I woke up after the crash looking around at the wreckage almost everything was destroyed. I found my masters body under some wreckage and he was dead. As I was looking around trying to find my friend the sky started to darken I looked up to see one of the pirates ships coming in to get the spoils of its kill I thought about running but something stopped me I don't know what it was but I just couldn't move. The pirates came out of the ship laughing on and on and they saw me a few tensed but most realized that I wasn't a full Jedi yet so the came over to me with their guns raised. I was scared, I thought for sure I was going to die then I heard something beside me I turned to look and it was my brother he was still alive! "Hey... Angel." He coughed up blood and I realized he wasn't going to stay alive for much longer. "You must live... for both of us...." with his dying words he pulled out his lightsaber and held it up to me, one of the pirates saw him moving and shot him repeatedly. I got so angry at seeing them treat him that way I was mad that they destroyed my master and my brother. I reached out with the force grabbing my brother's saber while pulling out my own. I turned them on and then everything went blank. I don't remember what happened next I only remember looking around at everything and everyone that I destroyed. The pirates were all dead some I couldn't even recognize anymore. Their ship was almost as destroyed as mine, nobody survived I was sure of it. I looked around and I found my brother he was still dead, and there was nothing I could do to prevent that... at that moment everything went dark as if I was covered in a Shroud of Darkness. I could no longer use the force. I was cut off, I didn't know why, but the only thing that I could understand clearly was, I would die on this planet. I wondered around blind and broken the next from then on I took what rations I happened to stumble upon but I was running out of everything really quick. I could feel the animals of Tatooine, the scavengers to be more precise, watching me and waiting for me to drop dead. It had been a week since the force had left me and I was on my own, the rations were gone and I finally felt that it was time for the scavengers to get what they were waiting for, my death. I dropped face down in the dirt ready to accept my fate but then something happened I felt something through the force, which I thought left me. I looked up because I felt that is what I needed to do and above me about 12 feet or so was a shrub, no not a shrub, THE Shrub. It was magnificent the power that was emanating from it was immeasurable. It spoke to me and it gave me my life back and it gave me the force again. This time when the force entered my body I could feel how powerful it was I could feel how powerful I was becoming... and it felt good. I realized now that the Jedi where wrong. The force was a tool, something that could be taken or given. I was given the force this time and I knew it was going to be my weapon for revenge. I would kill every single pirate that had taken part of our crash and I would avenge my fallen comrades. Suddenly these words came into my head and this is what they said.

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall free me.

Suddenly everything was clear, and I knew what I must do. Now begins the story of how I became a Sith Lord...