Resh Hour 3: Into the Dark | Epilogue

Renn keeps them moving as long as Renci allows, unwilling to assume anything about what forces Dr. Pramine still has at her disposal. They conceal their trail as best they can. But it was a long day and an exhausting one, and after a couple hours of hiking, Renci realizes that it is growing quite dim beneath the canopy. She is aching all over from being knocked around by the golem and has felt herself weaving as they have been walking. Every now and then, she catches Renn steadying himself against a tree trunk. She decides that they have put enough distance between themselves and whatever remains of Dr. Pramine’s expedition that it is safe enough to stop for the night. She calls a halt and has them set up camp.

Once the area is secure, Renci starts unpacking the medical kit. “Your hands are a mess. And I know Pramine hit you with a few of those blasts. Anything else?”

“Well, a chandelier fell on m’ head…”

“You haven’t overdosed for the day, right?” Renci asks, holding up the stim applicator. Renn shakes his head, and without any further preamble, she leans over and injects him. Then she applies another layer of synthflesh to his palms and takes a look at the side of his head. “Well, the good news is you already have so much scarring up here that this new one is not going to be noticeable,” she comments as she puts in a new line of stitches. “The better news is most people with this many scars are just dead, so that just shows you’re a survivor.”

“That’s the plan,” Renn agrees.

When Renci is finished treating him, Renn takes the medkit from her and looks her over. “That golem really packed a punch,” she tells him. “My whole torso hurts. I feel like I might have broken some ribs.”

He prods her here and there, checking for cracked or broken bones. “I know a thing or two about broken ribs,” he tells her, “and yu’ve just got sore muscles. Congratulations.” He gives her some muscle relaxants and painkillers.

Sitting there, in the fresh night air, Renci feels her head clearing. Was I complaining about the jungle only this morning? Now it seems downright comfortable compared to that creepy temple. She breaks out the trail rations and sits down next to Renn as he gets a small fire going. They start eating, and he asks her what she will say in her report.

“Don’t come here. I’m going to tell them it was a Dark Force temple, known to… where was she from?”

“Eriadu University. She knew of the place as the tomb of a musician named Ka’thazar, but I think we can agree she’s got a different perspective on that now. She wanted his pendant and had heard stories that it could control weather. She was keen ta present her findings on Coruscant, hopin’ ta get some sorta Imperial stipend. She seemed very focused on publishin’ her knowledge.”

“It’s how you get ahead in her field.”

“I don’ think she’ll stay quiet about this place.”

“Likely not, unfortunately. It’ll be known to the Empire before long. So, a Dark Force temple of some kind. Would you say it was for testing adepts?”

“There certainly were a lot of things in there designed ta see if’n ya had the skills necessary ta get further, but ta what end, I don’ care ta speculate.”

“And also a large mausoleum of Dark Force users who—if I understand it correctly—their bodies, or their Force ghosts, are powering the whole place, according to Torthal.”

“D’ya know if he was workin’ with any group?”

“I don’t know what his story is, but I think he was working alone. He didn’t seem to care for his compatriots. They were just mercenaries to him. Not friends, not comrades.”

“Did ya take anything outta there?”

Renci releases a long breath. “No. I found… Rather, I saw some things that will be useful. I think I saw what happened on Dathomir.” Renn is watching her closely, so she elaborates. “Torthal was actually helpful. He said we needed to find the instrument room. Who knew there’d be an instrument room in a place like that?! There were a bunch from various cultures. They actually had an ossophone!” Renn raises an eyebrow at her. “It’s like a… bone keyboard.”

“So, like a xylophone, but made outta bones instead of wood?”

“I guess I think of a xylophone as an ossophone made out of wood,” Renci counters. “Torthal was being very helpful in that room, I give him credit. I knew I needed to get information on Dathomir, and he hummed a couple bars of a tune from there that it turned out I was familiar with. When I hit the notes, images started to appear where there would be sheet music. Scrying technology or maybe a Force thing, I’m not a hundred percent sure. But I saw what was happening on Dathomir to a person who suffered the same thing as JT. It’s treatable. There’s some crystal dust in her stomach or her system that we need to get out. The same thing might have happened to Chando, too. I don’t know, but I saw a vision of him. I saw a vision of JT. I saw a vision of some animals on Dathomir; they’re not in a good way, either. That was a bad place, wherever you were. A lot of bad things went down there.”

Renn lets out a sigh. “M’ sister was a bad person.”

“But you’re not her,” Renci reassures him.

“No, I’m not.”

“And,” she gestures vaguely in the direction they came from, “that was a bad place. It does things to you, so… don’t beat yourself up.”

He nods in agreement. “So, ya didna take anything outta the instrument room?” he asks, looking at her intently.

“No, those were bones. The ossophone is a dead Mandalorian warrior. Why would I take anything out of the instrument room?”

“Ya seemed very keen ta find something earlier.”

“Yes, until I saw the information that was what I needed. An artifact would hopefully give me a clue, but an artifact was just one way to get information. I thought I saw a book that would have been useful, but that was just a trick. There were those… marlacks?”


“There were maalraas hiding behind it. No,” she shakes her head, “there was nothing there worth taking. Why? Did you take something?”

I took something from you, Renn thinks. “No, of course not. I never wanted us ta come here in the first place.”

“It’s fine. That’s the last place we have to check. The job is done.”

Renn shakes his head. “I didna come on this trip with ya fer money. I came because I couldna let ya come here and try ta find these things on yer own. But ya seemed resolved ta do so, and it’s clear from how ya were actin’ that ya wanted ta come fer yer own purposes, not the Rebellion’s. So I came with ya hopin’ ta do m’ best ta keep ya safe because I owe JT at least that, given all she had ta deal with on m’ behalf.” He unconsciously lifts his hand to run it through his hair, but given the new stitches there and his healing palm, he arrests that motion. Looking down at his hand, he says, “I don’ know what ya thought ya would get from that ring.”

“Oh, did you see me take it?”

“I did.”

“I don’t have it. I lost it.”

“Ya didna lose it,” he corrects her.

“What do you mean?” Renci asks.

“I put it back.”

“When did you get it?” Renci looks at him, confused, but he does not answer her question, he just… smirks at her.

“I’m glad ya found information that can help JT and that it seems yer content with that because I don’ think more Dark Force artifacts are what she needs from ya ta heal. What she needs from ya, is you, Renci.”

Renci lets out a breath and then gives Renn a playful shove. “I can’t believe you—gah!—sneaked it out right from under my—”

“I pulled it right off yer hand,” Renn confirms.

“Right off my hand!?”

“There, there,” Renn says in mock consolation, patting her arm.

“I just never wear rings; I’m not used to it. How did you—”

“Just like this.”

Renn opens his left hand to reveal an electronic component that Renci is certain is in her utility belt. She slaps a hand to her belt, finding its pocket empty. “Stars above! That’s dangerous!” she exclaims, incredulous. She swipes the piece back. “Do you know what that is?! Be careful!”

“Ah, so that reaction is exactly how I felt when I saw ya take the ring.”

“Okay,” she says, “I can sort of see that. The ring looked like it was linked to Dathomir, like exactly what I needed. And…” she sighs, “when I took it, I felt a little exhausted—relieved, but exhausted. But that wasn’t what I needed; I needed insight.”

“The Force side of what is wrong with her is something she’ll have ta get from her teacher or from Eloii. It isna anything ya should feel ya need ta provide fer her. Yu’ve done the leg work of gatherin’ the information and tellin’ the people who have the skills what they need ta help her. Ya don’ need ta do everything yerself, Renci.”

She exhales long and slow. “You’re right,” she agrees. “That’s why I talked with her teacher, tracked her down. Your mom was very helpful, actually. I need to buy her a drink some time.” Oh, that was an insensitive thing to say to an alcoholic. “Sorry,” she mutters. Change the topic. “So, that was the last job I had for you. I’m sure there could be more in the future, but I’m not sure if you’d want—”

“No,” Renn says simply.

“I don’t blame you. I can tell them my ‘driver’ found new work he needed to take care of.”

“I think… I think it would be good fer me ta spend more time outside.”

“I think you deserve a vacation.”

“Blue Spring Lodge would be comparatively relaxin’, and there’s a tauntaun in New Meen that could use the change of environment. I’ve been thinkin’ of seein’ if we can relocate her. I need ta clear m’ head some after this place.” He gazes up at the stars for a moment, quiet, but then he continues. “I wasna really aware of everything that was goin’ on, on Dathomir. And I don’ have the clearest memories of the times I’ve been in places like that…”

“Do you really want to have those memories?” Renci asks.

“No, I don’t.”

“Maybe, time to go make some new memories?”

“That would be good.”

Renn looks over at Renci. He no longer thinks she is likely to do anything crazy with Dark Force items. She threw away that lightsaber, and she seems much more even-keeled than she was earlier, inside. But still, he feels there is something he needs to say about what things like that could do. Maybe more for himself, for his own peace of mind, than for Renci’s benefit. “The reason that I took that ring away from ya was ta prevent ya from hurtin’ yerself and ta prevent ya from hurtin’ JT.”

“The former, I can’t abide, but the latter, I will accept,” Renci allows.

“I was really badly hurt on Dathomir when they found me. The carbonite block I was stored in, something triggered it ta thaw when I was all alone. I couldna see, and I was freezin’ from the hibernation sickness. I was tryin’ ta figure out where I was and what was goin’ on, and I had no idea that the space around me had been trapped by one of m’ sister’s crazy cult-mates. So… things exploded. Anyway, when JT and Kash found me, and Cal was tryin’ ta figure out what ta treat first, Kash used an amulet on me that she’d found on Illiss, the one who’d set the traps. I couldna see anything, so I didna know what she was doin’. I just knew that when she embraced me, I felt dread and fear and unease and all the types of things I feel in these temples. She was usin’ this artifact ta transfer some of m’ injuries ta herself. And she’d tell ya that she did it because she’s tougher than me and can take it better, and she’s right about that, but… if I’d had a choice, I wouldna have wanted her ta do that.”

“Well, I guess you shouldn’t have given her legal medical decision-making authority,” Renci comments, trying to lighten the mood.

Renn snorts. “I don’t think Kash would’ve bothered about that.”

“You’re probably right,” Renci agrees.

“And I don’ think JT would’ve wanted ya doin’ those things, either.”

“Okay, I wasn’t going to use that ring directly; I was planning to study it. Figure out how those things work.”

“Dippin’ yerself in dark energy isna the way ta go about gettin’ it outta her. ‘Cause then where does that leave it? With her needin’ ta try ta fix you.”

“That’s true. But it doesn’t matter; I don’t have any artifacts. And wanting those artifacts, I’ve learned way more than I really want to know about all those things. But the knowledge is there now so… The Force is a crazy thing, as you probably know.”

“Aye, it is. But it helps ta have someone ta ground ya’.”

“Who’s your ground?” Renci asks.

Without pause, Renn answers, “Kash.”

“Whew, on one hand, really sturdy, but on the other hand, like an earthquake at any moment.”

“Works fer me,” he says with a fond grin. Then he continues, “JT doesna need ya ta fix her, she needs ya ta support her.”

“I was convinced twenty minutes ago, Renn,” Renci laughs. “I could tell this was important for you to say, though. Don’t worry, I’m going to be there for JT, and she’s going to get better. I’ve got a good feeling about it. Now,” she shoots a spray of water at him from her eopiebak, “you’re taking first watch.” Renn wipes the water off his face, and she sees him smiling as he gets up. Yes, things are going to be fine, she thinks as she closes her eyes.