Tower of Time: Long Ago and Far Away

Under the Shadow of the Builders
Part 14- Jawa Caravan

Dusk was turning into night when Carth, Ev, and their Jawa guides reached the sand crawler. The Jawas seemed to be able to see fine in the darkening light with their glowing eyes, and Ev produced a small flashlight from one of the many pouches around her waist to assist her and Carth.

For all of Iziz's insistence that their clan was a small one, the trapezoidal sand crawler was still at least two stories tall and over twice as long as the Ebon Hawk. Light blazed out from a doorway in the side where several silhouetted Jawas milled about.

Iziz scampered to meet them. He waved his arms in the air and chattered happily. The other Jawas returned the gesture and swarmed around him. Soon, they moved off leaving just Iziz. He chattered happily. First grabbing Ev's and shaking it, then moving on to Carth and doing the same.

Ev laughed merrily, “He says thanks and invites us to feast with his clan, I think. As soon as everyone and everything is loaded up, they'll even start out for us tonight. We'll be to the place by morning.”

“That's great,” Carth grinned back at her, “And I could do with a feast right about now. I'm starved.”

“That's what you get for playing hostage with me,” Ev teased and gave him a pointed poke in the chest. “You could have gone back with the others and grabbed some lunch with those moisture vaporizers. Come on.” She waved him forward. The Jawa chief had already begun skittering back towards the sand crawler. It was easy for them to catch up with his short strides, however.

Inside the sand crawler, Carth realized that what had looked like two stories to him, was really three for a Jawa. While Ev had no trouble moving around and only had to duck through doorways, Carth continually forgot to stoop, hitting the back of his head regularly on the metal plate ceiling. The Jawas seemed to find that hilarious.

The promised feast was grand by Jawa standards, but nothing memorable for Carth and Ev. He hardly got his fill of the gritty whatever-it-was. While they were eating, the whole structure began to hum and vibrate then lurch into motion. During the meal, Ev spoke for both herself and Carth. While she could mostly understand the Jawas, Carth didn't catch a single word. It was alright though. He enjoyed the warm company and just watching Ev laugh while conversing with the tiny people around them. It seemed as if the rescued Jawas were making up grand tales of Carth and Ev's heroics in their rescue.

After dinner, one of the Jawas led them up a shallow but narrow staircase to the second floor and to a mostly empty store room. It had been cleared out for their use, with a few blankets and cushions piled in the corner.

“This is probably the most comfortable place for giants like us to sleep on this sand crawler,” Ev explained. “He's sorry that they don't have more to offer.”

Carth looked at the bare metal flooring and shrugged, “It's no problem.”

The Jawa, seeming satisfied, scurried away and shut the door behind him.

Ev pulled out two cushions from the corner and sat down on one, leaning against an odd looking piece of machinery. She tossed the other cushion at Carth. “Sit down and you won't have to keep hitting your head all the time,” she suggested.

“It's not that big of a—ow!” Carth straightened up again, “deal.”

Ev cackled, rocking back and forth on the ground. “Well, if you like smacking your head on the ceiling, who am I to stop you?” she laughed.

“Fine, fine, you win,” Carth laughed at himself and sat down across from her on the cushion, “You always seem to.”

“At least you're not a sore loser any more,” Ev pointed out. She put her hands behind her head and leaned back. “You know, Onasi, I can take care of myself.”

“Of course you can,” Carth replied, a little startled by the shift in conversation.

“Then why do you have so much trouble letting me out of your sight these days?” Ev asked, looking up at the ceiling, “Hm?”

That caught Carth off guard. “It's not that at all,” he replied quickly, “You're just far easier to deal with than any of the rest of the crew.”

“Easier to deal with?” Ev echoed. As she repeated it, Carth realized just how insulting it sounded.

“I mean, I'd much rather stay with you than listen to Jolee's lectures, Juhani's rants, or Canderous' taunts,” Carth rephrased quickly.

“So my prattling is easier on your ears than an lecture from an old ex-Jedi?” Ev asked, though she didn't seem upset, “Keep digging that hole, Onasi.”

“How many different ways do I have to say that you're refreshing to be around?” Carth demanded in frustration, “I give up!”

Ev finally met his eyes and burst out laughing, “Gotcha!”

“If you aren't the most difficult woman—!” he vented, but Ev's coarse laughter was contagious. He found himself laughing as well.

“Refreshingly difficult,” Ev mused, still chuckling a little, “I like it. You're not so bad yourself, Onasi.”

That was all Carth needed to hear.

Ev abruptly changed the subject again, “So what did you think of those Sand People?”

“Easily agitated bunch,” Carth commented, “I'm surprised we got out of them what we did, unharmed.”

“No, I mean, their culture, their history,” Ev redirected him.

“Ritual, law, and respect was very important to them,” Carth commented, “I didn't expect that at all. That Tatooine once wasn't one big desert is hard to imagine. Do you think their Builders were the same Builders we're chasing?”

Ev nodded firmly. “I'm sure of it,” she replied, “Their star map is here, which means that they too were once here. Tatooine was part of the Infinite Empire along with Kashyyyk and Dantooine. From their stories, it seems that pre-sand Sand People might have been among the slaves that built that temple on Dantooine. Or at least the abducted people they mentioned were take off world for similar purposes.”

“To turn a lush world into glass would have taken some immensely powerful weapons,” Carth guessed, “Or a very long war. Either way, those Builders were powerful with vast resources at their disposal.”

“We did get one clue as to how the Builders may have vanished, though,” Ev pointed out.

“What's that?” Carth asked, searching his memory. Did that come up when I wasn't paying attention?

“The Storyteller mentioned that a great plague weakened the Builders and gave them a chance to retaliate,” Ev explained, “It seems like some species wide disease must have run rampant through the Builders at one point in history. That was just as they began their Great War here on Tatooine. It's hard to say if they ever recovered, given what little we know.”

“The Builders are even more mysterious than Revan and Malak,” Carth said.

Ev sighed, but her eyes narrowed with interest, “I know we're supposed to doing this to find the secret to Malak and the Sith's power, but I can't help but get totally drawn in by these mysterious Builders. Who were they? Where did they come from? Where did they get their power? How did they construct an empire that spanned the galaxy before the invention of the hyperdrive? Where did they go? Why don't we have any records of them? I just feel like this whole mission, even the whole war is under the looming shadow of these long-gone Builders. They are affecting our every move even now.”

“I don't see the connection,” Carth admitted.

“If Revan and Malak really did follow these maps to the Star Forge, they are using, or perhaps misusing something the Builders created millennia ago,” Ev explained her reasoning, “The Builders, once again, are threatening to take over the galaxy, even if they are gone themselves. Malak does it in their place.”

“I'll leave you to your theories,” Carth said, “For me, all I need to know is that Malak is evil and that we have to stop him at all costs.”

Ev chuckled, “Look what the Jedi did to me. They turned me from a simple soldier into a philosopher. In under two months. Think of what a whole lifetime of their teachings would have done to me.”

“I bet you'd still be stirring up trouble,” Carth joked, “Postulating theories that no one liked and creating factions.”

“You didn't like my theories?” Ev pretended to be offended.

“I never said I didn't,” Carth replied, “But I'm no Jedi. Try those on Bastila some time.”

Ev chuckled. “No thanks,” she retorted, then added thoughtfully, “I think she's doing a little better by now.”

“Who? Bastila?” Carth asked.

“Yeah,” Ev answered, “I'm not feeling quite so much anger and confusion pouring through our bond.”

“What's it like, your bond?” Carth asked.

“It's hard to describe,” Ev started slowly, “It's like I have two sets of feelings. One that I'm experiencing here and now, and one that also happens of their own accord. Those feelings aren't as strong as the first kind, but the still affect me in how I think and how I act. It's not like we can talk over our bond or anything, or even read each other's thoughts, but sometimes reading someone's feelings is as good as knowing their thoughts.”

“It must be strange to be connected to someone like that,” Carth thought out loud.

“It's funny that I didn't notice it suddenly happen on Taris,” Ev mused, “Bastila says that's when the Force first connected us. It's weird that she was probably unintentionally influencing me for a while before I knew that there was ever anyone else in my head.”

“For better or for worse, I'm glad I only have myself to deal with,” Carth admitted.

“For better or for worse, I've got Bastila,” Ev shrugged, “And there's nothing really I can do about it. Even when we're this far away, I can still sense her.” Ev suddenly yawned. “I think we'd better get some shut-eye, Onasi,” she suggested, “All the Jawas I saw this morning were up and about far earlier than I was. Who knows when they'll wake us up tomorrow.”

Carth didn't argue. He took the extra cushion and blanket that Ev threw at him from the corner. The blanket was rough and far too short, but it was better than nothing. Soon, Ev found the light switch and flicked it off. They each curled up under their meager bedding, Ev on one side of the small room and Carth on the other.

An enthusiastically chattering Jawa flung their door open and woke them up early the next morning. He tossed two small backpacks into the room at their feet and scurried away.

Groggily Ev sat up and stretched. Smoothing out her hair with one hand, she slurred, “Breakfast is ready, and we're there. Only we have some walking to do after breakfast. These are for us. They've got food, water, and other supplies for the day.”

Carth groaned and sat up. “I wonder why they couldn't drive us all the way to it?” he murmured. He stretched and then stood, smacking his head on the ceiling once again. “You'd think I'd remember about that,” he grumbled.

As he pulled on his jacket and boots, Ev busied herself by rolling up one of the small blankets and lashing at to the bottom of one of the packs the Jawa had thrust at them.

“What's that for?” Carth asked.

“It never hurts to be prepared,” she replied as she fastened her belt and slung the pack over her shoulders. Lastly, she pulled on her boots, and the two of them made their way back down to the first level where the clan of Jawas was already eating their breakfast. It consisted of a dry flat bread and something that resembled what they had eaten the night before.

Of the fifty-some Jawas on the sand crawler, about half of them left with Carth and Ev in the morning. Each carried a pack like theirs. Some went armed with weapons that looked far too big for them, while others carried picks and shovels. Rounding to the other side of the sand crawler, Carth saw why they had to continue on foot.

The sandy dunes gave way to spires of sandstone and a winding canyon. The canyon was far too narrow for anything the size of a sand crawler to enter it. In the middle of a caravan of Jawas that didn't even come as high as their waists, Ev and Carth entered the canyon. Still early in the morning and shaded by the high canyon walls, their path was relatively cool, even later into the day.

As they walked, the Jawas chattered leisurely and occasionally broke out into strings of songs. At midday, when the suns were high enough over head that not even the canyon walls provided them with shade any more, Iziz called a halt to the procession. Everyone sat down and pulled out their tins of food. It turned out to be more dry flat bread with a seasoned paste probably made of some kind of legume. Carth noticed two more similar tins in his bag. He pointed them out to Ev.

“How long do they expect us to be traveling like this?” he asked.

“I think the plan was to be back late tonight, but out here, it never hurts to be prepared,” Ev explained, “You don't even need to get attacked by some kind of beast in order for the desert to kill you.”

Having eaten, they moved on. A few hours after their lunch break, the Jawas stopped again and put down their packs. They had arrived, but something wasn't right. Even Carth could read agitation in their voices and behaviors.

Just ahead, the canyon widened. Along the left side was a huge pile of rocks and rubble.

“What's going on?” he asked Ev.

“Our star map is under that,” Ev replied dryly and pointed to the pile of rubble, “There's been a rock slide since they were here last. It looks like we're going to have to clear a way through it.”

“I hope the star map didn't get crushed under all of that,” Carth said.

Ev's eyes widened as if that hadn't occurred to her, “I hope so too.”

Under Iziz's direction, the troupe of Jawas set to work on the rock slide. They climbed up the pile, working together to roll down stone after stone. Iziz seemed to think that the best bet was to work open a way in near the top of the cave. Ev and Carth were put to work shoving down the largest of the boulders. It was harder physical work than Carth could remember doing since his time in college, where he worked in a photon torpedo supply warehouse.

The heat of the two suns beat down mercilessly on them as they worked. While the Jawas pressed on merrily in their thick hooded robes, both Carth and Ev stripped down to what was minimally decent. Carth took off layers of clothing right down to his undershirt. Ev's dark brown outer robe and wrists guards came off, leaving only a light cream colored cotton blouse. She did, however, refasten her belt around her waist before returning to work.

By the time Iziz called a break for dinner, the sun was setting and they were both filthy and drenched in sweat. There was still no sign of any entrance into the cave. For the Jawas, dinner meant the end of the day. Ev went over to push some more rocks around, but Iziz called her back before Carth could join her. There would be no more work as dusk fell.

A short way up the canyon wall opposite the rock slide was a series of small caves. The humans and Jawas alike reached them by sliding and climbing along thin ledges not even wide enough for their feet. There, they settled in for the night.

As night fell, so did the temperature. Carth quickly began to regret the cold sweat that still soaked through the clothes he wore. He dressed back into all of his layers and fished through his little pack to see what else he could find. Nothing that would make a decent blanket or pillow, unfortunately. He cleared out the food tins and balled up the pack. It could serve as a pillow itself. Sore and exhausted, Carth was ready for sleep. He lay down against the wall of the small cave that Iziz had assigned to the humans and willed for sleep. The ground was hard and uneven, his pillow insufficient, and the air grew colder the farther the suns sank below the horizon.

He tossed and turned restlessly. Through half opened eyes, he noticed a silhouetted figure sitting at the mouth of the cavern, knees drawn up to her chin. Carth watched her as she stared silently at the evening stars. Ev seemed serene in a way he had never seen before. Although his body ached for sleep, his own curiosity got the better of him. He stiffly sat up then made his way over to her and sat down.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly.

Ev remained in the pose he found her in, gazing up at the sky, arms wrapped around her knees. She didn't reply for along time. “All of this talk about family, Bastila's mom, Mission's brother, it got me thinking,” she said distantly at last. “I haven't seen my family in a long time. I mean, I know I have a bad memory and all, but, it's just...” she trailed off.

Carth let her take her time. More stars began to peek out overhead.

“I can't remember my own mother's name,” she admitted finally. Her voice was sad. “It's my mom, for Force sake.”

“When was the last time you saw her?” Carth asked gently.

“I—I don't know,” Ev stuttered, “My mind is all a fuzz when I try to think about when I was young. I just can't make sense of my memories. I'm only thirty, how can I be loosing my mind already? It one thing for Jolee to forget things now and then, but me?”

Carth inched closer to her along the sandstone. “It's nothing for you to be mad at yourself about,” Carth tried to comfort her, “You can't control it when your body starts doing strange things to itself, or in your mind either. Your as sharp as a vibroblade in the moment, Ev.”

“Thanks Carth,” she replied with a sigh, and leaned against him. “You'd think I'd at least be able to keep something so important in my mind, though.”

They both fell silent, watching the stars come out. Ev's presence against his arm almost overwhelmed his senses.

“I,” he started hesitantly, “I haven't told anyone this, and please don't think any lesser of me, but lately, no matter how hard I try, I can't remember what she looked like, my wife Morgan.”

“It shouldn't matter what I think of you for something like that,” Ev replied distantly.

“But it does matter to me,” Carth responded.

“Matters of memory in other people should bother me least of all people,” she said reassuringly. “You are no less a man in my eyes.”

Carth sighed deeply.

They were silent again for a long while.

“You don't see stars like this on any of the developed worlds,” Carth observed at almost a whisper.

“What was she like, your wife?” Ev asked.

“She was lively, dedicated, determined, and stubborn,” Carth replied warmly as memory after happy memory came rushing back. “Once she set her mind to something, there was no turning her from it. Kind of like you, I guess. She hated it when I signed back on to the fleet. I was planning to resign and go back, but then...”

“You don't have to re-live that again, Carth,” Ev said gently.

“Now all I have left is that burning need for revenge against Saul,” he said, clenching his fists, “It's all I have to live for.”

“That's really sad, you know,” Ev said remorsefully. “And what happens once you kill Saul?”

“I don't know,” Carth admitted with a sigh, “I never really thought past that. Maybe I always figured that I would go down in a blaze with him.”

“Try not to do that to yourself,” Ev requested.

“I make no promises,” Carth replied.

They sat quietly together for some time longer until Ev finally got to her feet.

“Onasi, we've got more rock hauling to do tomorrow,” she said, “We should get some sleep before then.” She shivered and bent down, retrieving the rolled up blanket from her pack.

“It's a good thing you brought that after all,” Carth commented, standing up as well, “At least you won't be so cold tonight.”

“Now don't you start playing gentleman on me, Onasi,” Ev said accusingly with one hand on her hip. “It's cold now, but it's going to get colder still. We've got one blanket between the two of us, so we'll share it between the two of us. That way we can keep each other warm too.”

The idea of sleeping so close to Ev didn't settle right with Carth, but he couldn't argue.

Ev emptied and balled up her pack like Carth had and the two of them curled up together near the cave wall. Their legs hung out below the coarse blanket but it mostly covered their torsos. Carth found himself drifting off to sleep much more easily than before. Ev's presence beside him was both calming and unnerving at the same time.

Some time before dawn, something woke Carth suddenly. As dreams of his life back on Telos shifted back into reality, he was surprised to see Ev at his side instead of Morgan. He and Ev were nestled close together for warmth, his arm thrown over her back.

The ground rumbled. Right, we're on a sand crawler. It rumbled again. Rocks rattled and shifted. Rocks? No, we're in a cave not a sand crawler. There came a muffled roar from across the canyon. Carth sat bolt upright and watched through the predawn dimness as the rock slide began to pitch and roll, bursting open. The rocks thundered over each other.

That woke Ev up. She sat up next to him, eyes wide.

The rocks exploded away from the mouth of the cave and a huge horned reptilian head protruded from the gap. Moments later, more of the rocks burst away and two clawed front feet, followed by a torso, two more feet, and a long tail emerged.

“If that's not a krayt dragon, I'm a singing monkey lizard,” Ev guffawed.

The krayt dragon sniffed the air then turned its yellow eyes on the canyon wall across from it, to the caves where Ev, Carth, and the now nervously awake Jawas sat. It thundered across the small canyon, mouth wide open and tail thrashing. Their caves were almost at the same height as the krayt dragon's mouth. It looked big enough to down a large bantha in only three bites.

“Of all the—!” Ev leaped to her feat, lashed on her supply belt, leaving wrist guards behind, and took up her lightsaber. “Carth, get out of it's reach and start shooting. Blasters can't penetrate that scaly hide, but keep him angry and distracted.”

Carth was already strapping on his holster belt. There wasn't time to put on his boots. “What are you going to do?” he yelled suspiciously as she dashed for the outer ledge of the cave.

“Someone has to kill it, right?” Ev yelled back, “And I've got the lightsaber.” The giant lizard was almost on top of them.

Before he could stop her, Ev leaped off the ledge and into the krayt dragon's path. Her violet lightsaber lit up the canyon floor. The krayt dragon seemed to momentarily forget about the caves and swung its hungry, gaping jaws towards Ev.

Meanwhile, the Jawas were shrieking and chattering. He could hear them scrambling and scraping about in the next cave over. A blast went off from their cave and the white hot energy struck the krayt dragon's back. It roared with anger but seemed unhurt. It was only an ion blaster after all.

Ev took that moment to dash around the side of the beast, taking a liberal swipe at its front left leg as she went. It roared and bucked angrily again, but this time in earnest. Black blood oozed from a gash on its foreleg.

Carth remembered his place. He fired a few shots at the reptile's head, hoping to catch it somewhere soft like the eyes or mouth. Evidently, even in the thrashing, he caught something. It roared again and charged towards the cave wall.

Carth realized how shallow their cave was and panicked for an instant. He gathered his wits about him, stuffed his blasters back in their holsters and hurried for the canyon wall. He remembered seeing another ledge not far above their own cave, if he could only reach it. If something didn't take the monster's attention away, however, he wouldn't.

That moment, the Jawas began pitching rocks down at the krayt dragon, earning its ire. Reaching the rock face, Carth grappled for hand and foot holds. Glad to be in stocking feet rather than boots, Carth climbed.

Down below, Ev continued to dance around the krayt dragon's massive body. It was a feat of aerobatics to avoid tail, claws, and fangs all at once. Whenever given a chance, she took a swipe at it with her lightsaber. It would get angrier and forget about its potential breakfast in the caves, if only for a moment.

Carth finally reached the higher ledge. It was wide enough for him to stand steadily on, but no wider. He was safe. Now it was time for him to do his part. Pulling out his blasters again with a spinning flare, he set his jaw and began firing rapidly down below.

Ev suddenly leaped up. Like a burst of lightning, she was suddenly on the krayt dragon's back. The Jawas whooped and hollered, flinging stones more vigorously.

One of Carth's shots caught it in the mouth. It roared, snapped its jaws, and flailed its head. Ev seemed to be doing all she could just to stay balanced on its back. The moment it calmed, Ev lunged forward. She scampered up its neck and grasped one of it's curving horns for balance. Feeling her there, it thrashed its head all the more, but Ev hung on. It seemed like the krayt dragon wouldn't be still until it had flung Ev down. As it bucked and roared, Ev flipped her saber over, holding it more like a dagger than a vibroblade, then plunged it downward into the krayt dragon's skull. It roared ferociously for merely a moment then fell dead, throwing up a cloud of sand. Ev fell off its head in a controlled tumble and landed crouching in the sand beside it. Her lightsaber was still ready as she watched it warily for any more movement.

Finally, she relaxed, extinguished her weapon, and stood up. She walked slowly around the krayt dragon's corpse, examining it, as Carth and the Jawas all climbed down into the canyon. The Jawas swarmed around her cheering. Carth followed more slowly after finally putting his boots back on.

Ev laughed away her tenseness among them. Seeing Carth, she hollered, “I guess this beast has been a pest in a region for generations. We're heroes.”

“You're the hero, Ev,” Carth called over the Jawas, “I just made it mad, hardly more than the Jawas did.”

Dawn was just beginning to break over the desert, but the air still held the cool of night.

Iziz and the Jawas insisted on a celebratory feast, but Carth could see Ev's gaze flicked constantly to the cave entrance that now gaped open through the rock slide. She wasn't ready to sit down yet.

Carth waded through the Jawas around her. Catching her eyes, he announced, “Ev and I are going to check out that cave and see if our star map is in there. Then we'll sit down for something to eat.”

The Jawas didn't seem bothered by this preposition and allowed the two humans out of their midst. As Carth and Ev crossed the canyon floor, Ev said in a low voice, “I feel it. It's in there. Maybe its dark power is what drew that krayt dragon here in the first place. If I were a huge beast like that, I'd want a little more space for my front yard than this.”

They clambered over the rocks that had fallen even further and down the pile into the cave. It was dark inside and smelled rank. Ev produced her flashlight and warily shone it around the cave, nothing moved. Carefully, they proceeded. The cave was large enough for the krayt dragon to live there comfortably, deep and wide.

At the back of the cave, among ruins of ornately carved pillars and statues, they found what they were looking for. The dark metal claws of the star map were in as perfect condition as either of the previous star maps they had seen. As they approached it, it unfolded of its own accord, projecting a spherical map of the galaxy just as the others had. Ev bent down and felt around for the datapad slot like the one they had found on the last map. It proved to be in the back this time. She slipped in the datapad. Moments later, the mechanics ejected it and the star map folded up on it self again. Ev took the datapad and examined it. “We've got what we came for,” she said, satisfied, and stowed it away.

“Look at that,” Carth said, pointing to a tall statue that seemed to have fallen off its pedestal long ago. It looked just like the humanoid of the holoprojection on Kashyyyk.

Ev walked closer to it and laid her hands on the cold stone surface, “These mysterious beings keep showing up. I'm beginning to think that they might be our Builders.” She moved away thoughtfully, examining the ruins sculptures. “Would you look at this,” Ev said suddenly, pulling an equipment pack of modern make out of the rubble, “This doesn't belong here.”

“We're not the only ones who were here recently,” Carth observed.

“I wonder who this belonged to,” Ev murmured. She set it down at her feet and began digging through it. Ropes, mines, hooks, and hunting blasters all came out in a pile. “Hunting license: Terren Shawn,” Ev read off the crumpled certificate.

“You don't suppose that's Bastila's father?” Carth asked.

Ev nodded. She dug into a side pouch and pulled out a flat holocron. Switching it on, a man's gentle looking face appeared projected above it, saying, “Tomorrow is the big day. With those krayt dragon pearls, we'll finally be able to pay for Helena's treatments in full. I will be heading out with—” Ev switched it off again. “There's no doubt about it now,” Ev said, “We should bring this back for Bastila too.”

Carth nodded in agreement. His stomach grumbled. “Let's go see what the Jawas rustled up for breakfast,” he suggested.

“After that bit of morning exercise, I could eat a whole bantha myself,” Ev laughed and stowed the holocron as well. They climbed back over the rocks and out of the cave. The Jawas had already set out the last of the food tins; more flat bread and seasoned paste. They had even had time to slice the mighty krayt dragon open. When Ev and Carth reached them, they presented Ev with three krayt dragon pearls from its gullet. Each was as big as a gizka's head. She took them respectfully then sat down for the meal.

After they had eaten, they picked up camp and headed back down the canyon. They reached the sand crawler by mid afternoon. On board, Ev was asked to repeat the tale of her battle with the krayt dragon at least three times to different audiences. Each time, the Jawas around her seemed to be adding more embellishments to her heroism. Just after dark, they arrived at Anchorhead. Saying their thanks to Iziz and the other Jawas one last time, Carth and Ev returned to the city.

They caught a quick meal a the cantina before returning to the Ebon Hawk. Everyone was aboard when they arrived.

“You're back!” Mission exclaimed when she saw them.

“It has been nearly three days without contact,” Juhani said, “I am glad to see that you have made it back well.”

“Did you find it?” Bastila asked, suddenly appearing in the doorway opposite them.

“We did,” Ev nodded, pulling out both the datapad and the holocron. She passed the holocron to Bastila, “Here. We found this too. You can do with it what you want.”

“Father's holocron,” Bastila gasped, “Mother wanted this so badly, didn't she? She hardly deserves it.” With that, Bastila disappeared down the corridor again.

Ev surveyed the crew. “Well, unless anyone has any unfinished business here on Tatooine, I say we get a move on,” Ev said.

“Where to next?” Canderous asked.

“Manaan, I'm thinking,” Ev replied, “Unless there are any objections.”

No one spoke up.

Turning to Carth, she said, “Whenever you're ready, Onasi.”


- Next Part -


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