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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…