Some hours later, the eight were finishing a light meal,
while using the opportunity to brief one another. By unspoken
agreement, Hank had taken the lead in explaining the history
of the Earth in general, mutants more specifically and the
X-Men in particular. He was just winding up the story of how
he, his five companions, and the Shi'ar viceroy had come to
be lost in space after battling the Phalanx.
"...so you see, we were just returning home. With the
situation for mutants on Earth worsening by the day, our presence
is rather urgently needed there."
Nomi had taken in all the information with interest. She
had been rather taken aback by the description of her rescuers'
home planet -- she hadn't expected conditions on 'Earth' to
be so primitive. After all, the technological base she and
countless generations before her were accustomed to in the
Republic took interstellar travel for granted, but these people
hadn't even managed to utilize fusion yet. And then
there were the societal problems...not that her own society
was perfect, by any means. She was thoroughly familiar with
blind prejudice between species -- that was unfortunately
common enough. But that a people could turn against their
own for a fluke in genetics, was a revelation she had a great
deal of difficulty in processing.
Even the Shi'ar civilization's technology was comparatively
backward to her eyes, however far advanced it might appear
It was beginning to appear to Nomi that she might well never
see her home system again -- not that it would be worth returning
to, if the Sith Lords had triumphed. Yet she felt that it
was not the case ...
She straightened her shoulders in determination. Even if
she could not return -- she still had a job to do.
* I may have lost my prior life, but that doesn't mean my
responsibilities have vanished with it ... *
She took a deep breath.
"Thank you, doctor ...you have explained matters to
me. Now, it's my turn ... what do you know of the Force ?"
"Electric? Magnetic? Gravity? Nuclear strong, or Nuclear
weak?" Hank replied, puzzled.
Nomi had to grin.
"Not quite -- the Force I'm speaking of is all and none
of those. I can see I'm going to have to start at the very
beginning ... I suggest you all get comfortable. We're going
to be here for a while..."
Over the next hours, the seven listened to the history of
the Republic, of the Force -- and of the Jedi. Nomi did what
she could to keep to the bare essentials, but even so, it
was a story long in the telling. Consequently, it took quite
awhile to even get to her own history, but she did.
She told them of her life, her marriage to Andur Sunrider,
a Jedi Knight. He had seen the power in Nomi, greater than
his own, and urged her to foster it, but she had refused.
She had always had a timid nature, and was sure that she would
never be able to bring herself to fight. All she had ever
wanted was to live and raise a family with her husband, and
things were wonderful for a number of years.
Then came the turning point.
Andur had been asked to deliver a shipment of adegan crystals
used in the construction of lightsabers to Master Thon, on
a distant planet. Although Nomi had never ventured to develop
her talent in the Force, her natural ability had given her
a very limited form of precognition. She just knew
that something awful was going to happen on that trip...
So, despite Andur's protests, she insisted on accompanying
him, along with their daughter Vima, who was still a toddler.
Things had been going well -- until they ran into the thugs
hired by Bogga the Hutt.
The crystals were very valuable, and the trap had been well-planned.
While one of their number distracted Andur, another had sicced
his pet, a poisonous lizard, on the Jedi.
Andur's lapse in concentration had been fatal -- he was dead
from the creature's bite before he had hit the ground.
As she had cried over his body, Andur appeared to her through
the Force, urging her to take up his lightsaber and defend
herself and their daughter. With the Force and his guidance,
she killed two of her husband's murderers, and the rest fled.
In the aftermath, she decided that she would deliver the
crystals to the Jedi Master herself -- and eventually, so
began her own training in the Force.
Her story wound up fairly quickly after that -- her life
as a Jedi Knight, the Sith threat, Ulic's betrayal -- and
how she had come to be in their quadrant of space.
After she had finished her tale, her audience looked upon
her with awe and disbelief mixed in equal measure.
Bishop was first to break the silence.
" Why should we trust you ? How do we know this isn't
just part of some trap left by our 'friends' as they passed
by ? It seems rather convenient that we just happened to find
you ... "
" Under the circumstances, I would have to agree with
The former XSE officer was surprised by her agreement, and
raised his eyebrow in a silent query. Nomi grinned.
" Space, as you may have noticed, is a big place --
'just happening' to find anything as small as a survival pod
in it, is fairly unlikely -- but I have another reason for
agreeing with you, and I'll get to that later ... I could
show you my past with the Force, but for all you know, that
might just be an illusion to deceive you. Have you no means
to check my claims yourselves ? None of you is -- psychic
? -- is that the term ?"
" Yes, that's the term, but the answer is unfortunately,
no," Beast replied with a frown.
" 'Bout the closest thing we got is mah power, but that's
outta the question."
" Your power ?" the Jedi questioned with interest.
" Tell me about it ..."
Rogue proceeded to explain her mutant 'gift' -- the ability
to absorb the powers and memories of others -- and how dangerous
it was to utilize. Not only did she stand a good chance of
killing or permanently incapacitating anyone she touched,
but she was herself in danger of losing her own personality.
The Jedi listened intently, and when Rogue was finished her
explanation, nodded firmly.
" Very well -- do it. "
Rogue only stared at her in exasperation.
" Didn't y'all hear a word Ah just said ?!"
" Yes ... but I should be able to work around it --
your power is a part of your life energy, and is subject to
the Force. I won't stop you from experiencing my memories,
but I'll use the Force to damp your powers so that I'll take
no harm of you."
" It's the only way we can be sure," Bishop mused.
Hank turned to Nomi.
" You realize that if your damping doesn't work, this
may well kill you ?"
There was no hesitation in the Jedi's voice.
" I do, doctor."
Rogue was appalled at the idea of what she was expected to
do, and had shrunk back toward the wall, afraid. Suddenly,
she felt warm arms encircle her shoulders from behind in a
gentle hug. Gambit then smoothed her hair with one hand, comfortingly,
as his other his other hand came to rest on her shoulder.
He spoke into her ear reassuringly.
" It's okay, chère. Don' worry -- Nomi, she wouldn'
do this if she didn' t'ink it was safe. An' even if something
does happen, it don' mean that it's goin' t' be the worst,
oui ? "
Rogue nodded weakly as Remy released her, and she stepped
" If'n you're sure then," she stammered, "
but Ah'm sorry ..."
Taking off her glove, she steeled herself, and placed her
hand on the Jedi's brow.
Immediately, the rush of another's memories flooded Rogue's
consciousness, but there was something different about the
flow this time. It was controlled, regulated -- she had already
heard the Jedi's history, now she was seeing it, living it
After what seemed like an eternity, Rogue came back to herself.
Her hand was still on Nomi's forehead, yet the other woman
still sat up, was still conscious, apparently concentrating.
Rogue snatched her hand back, disbelieving.
" Mah God ... you ... you're all right ? " she
Nomi smiled warmly.
" Did you see enough ? "
It was all Rogue could do to nod mutely.
" Any chance of it being faked ? " Bishop asked.
" No ... no, Jean an' Ah have discussed that sort o'
thing before, and Ah learned enough from her ta tell the difference
... it was real."
The Jedi turned toward Gambit.
" Now for that explanation I owe you ... as for how
I knew your name, you told me yourself ."
" Quoi ? I never said anyt'ing t' you!"
Nomi raised her hand, placatingly.
" Let me finish -- you told me, but indirectly. This
also ties in with Bishop's point earlier -- finding me was
" I hope y' goin' to get to the explainin' part soon,
chère," Remy grumbled with mixed frustration and curiosity.
" Dis better be good ..."
" Remember that 'nagging feeling' you had that prompted
you to scan the area in the first place ?"
Gambit nodded slowly.
" That was me."
" Hehn ?"
" Weak as I was, I sensed your presence in the Force,
and sought you out. Despite the faintness of my call, you
managed to pick it up -- that was your 'nagging feeling'."
" D'accord -- so what does dat mean t' me ? "
Remy couldn't explain why, but he felt uneasy. Perhaps it
was because his gambler's intuition, which could always read
a situation as well as a hand, was failing him here. He just
couldn't see where the Jedi's explanation was heading ...
Nomi smiled at him.
" Remy, in my weakened state, your presence was strong
enough for me to detect, and you heard me. And when
you first spoke to me in the shuttle bay, you used
the Force to reassure me. When you did that, I reached out
with the Force again, and you reacted in kind."
At this, the rest of the company turned to stare at Gambit.
Rogue, who now had extensive knowledge of the Force from her
contact with Nomi, was stunned.
" It was at that moment you 'told' me your name ...
the Force is with you, Remy LeBeau. And that is why I called
you brother -- for in the Force, that is what you are."
Continued in Chapter
" To win one hundred victories of one
hundred battles is not the acme of skill: to subdue the enemy
without fighting is the acme of skill." -- Sun-Tzu, The
Art of War
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