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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.