Star Wars - Lost Tribe of the Sith 06 - Sentinel
“I think … I might have ruined my life.”
“Sounds like you met a woman,” the purple-faced bartender said, pouring. “Do you want me to leave the bottle?”
Only if I can smash it over my head
, Jelph Marrian thought. It was sweetwater, anyway—nothing that would help him forget. Sweat dripping from his matted blond hair, he drank deeply. The empty mug glistened, its shaped facets catching the firelight. Jelph twirled it in his hand, following the reflections. Since arriving on Kesh, he’d only drunk from orojo shells. But the Keshiri produced such wonderful glassware—even here, to serve guests in a pauper’s way station.
The bartender passed him a bowl of porridge. “Friend, you look like you’ve run all the way from South Talbus.”
“And more.” Jelph didn’t add that he’d been running practically without pause since the previous evening. Now, as the sun set again, he’d stopped, parched and ravenous, here in a hovel nestled in the lengthening shadows of the capital city’s walls. Jelph simply nodded to the pleasant old Keshiri and retreated to a cornerwith his meal. The natives on Kesh always felt freer to be familiar with human slaves than they were with the Sith.
They must not have much trouble telling us apart
, he imagined; tonight, his soaked, tattered clothes were probably a tip-off that he wasn’t born on high.
In fact, of course, Jelph was the only mortal on Kesh born “on high.” He came from space, although he called no planet home. The three years the former Jedi Knight had spent in his little farmhouse on the Marisota River were the longest he’d lived in one place in years. He’d been fortunate to find it. Jelph had discovered the abandoned homestead just days after crashing his starfighter in the jungle highlands, when hunger made him bold enough to go exploring. The original occupant had left long before, probably fearing the stories that the Marisota River was cursed. Sensing the dark side of the Force all around, Jelph had begun to agree—until he ventured north and realized that, in fact, the whole planet was under a curse. Kesh belonged to the Sith.
Jelph had devoted his entire adult life to preventing the return of the Sith to the galaxy. Toprawa had been devastated by the Jedi’s war with Exar Kun; Jelph had been born into a world that had already lost all hope. Fatherless, he heard from his mother only horror stories of the Sith occupation. When she disappeared one morning never to return, the young Jelph might have lost hope, too—had it not arrived in the form of Jedi scouts. The woman they introduced him to would save his life.
Krynda Draay had also lost someone on Toprawa—her Jedi husband—and had assembled a Covenant, a collection of Jedi Knights willing to do anything to prevent the Sith’s return. Assisting her watchful seers were the Shadows, agents serving her son, another Jedi of great vision. Master Lucien had somehow removedJelph from the Jedi rolls, giving the young man complete and total mobility. For years, Jelph had been the perfect secret agent, traveling the Outer Rim investigating potential Sith threats while the true Jedi Order occupied itself with matters of less importance. He’d been satisfied with his success …
… until early in the Republic’s war with the armored Mandalorians, when everything changed. Jelph never learned exactly what had happened, beyond that some schism had decapitated the Covenant, revealing his existence, among others. Now regarded by the Jedi as an outlaw, Jelph found flight his only option. What irony that, in selecting Kesh as his refuge, he’d found the very thing that he had sworn to stamp out!
Jelph finished the meal and rubbed his eyes. He’d done everything right until now. After life as a Shadow, hiding from the Sith on Kesh hadn’t been difficult. He knew how to shroud his presence in the Force. And the existence of a class of human nobodies made it easy for him to blend in, so long as he lived in the hinterlands and kept his contacts to a minimum. In short order, he had picked up the local dialect and accent, giving him access to the necessities of life. A life spent tending his farm during the days—and working to repair his damaged starfighter at night.
. He had completed repairing most of the damage done to the Aurek by the meteor storm; it remained only to reinstall the communications console and select the time and manner of his departure.
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