This story is dedicated to Markus who suggested the crossover and helped in the story's development. Enjoy!
The smile faded away as Hox added, "Now, let us go to Aladar, and greet our visitors. Our dear dinosaurian friend will need much comfort."
"Mom, we'll get you back to the valley. Just hang on, okay?"
Aladar shed many tears as he knelt beside his terribly wounded mother. Kamura took several blaster bolts in the side and chest. The wounds were deep, ghastly, clear to the bone.
She looked up at her son, saying weakly, "Aladar, is he dead? Anakin?"
Aladar nodded, replying, "Yes, Mom. He is."
"Then I'll follow him to the other side. Don't weep over me, my son. I know, I know. Think of it: This could have been you laying here dying. Neera would have to rear your children by herself. She's a strong one, but she'd go mad in time, not having you at her side."
Kamura's breathing became more shallow, more labored. Despite her mortal injuries, she continued, "Miss me, but let me go. Don't beat yourself up for all the awful words said earlier. As I said, I forgive you, and I don't blame you for feeling bitter at first. At least I finally learned one of my children survived and grew up to be a fine leader. Imagine, my son, the Herd's leader. Be good. Help Neera raise my grandchildren, and don't let them forget me."
Aladar protested tearfully, "You aren't going to die, okay? Plio will get healing balm for your wounds. You'll be as good as new."
"Aladar," said Baylene lovingly and comfortingly, "Kamura is not long for this world. I've seen injuries as hers. She is ready to accept her death. There is nothing we can do for her, dear. The body is too badly damaged."
"Listen to her, Aladar," said Plio who knelt beside a dying Kamura. "Your mother did a courageous thing, jumping in front of you at the last moment. Len Targ would've surely killed you. Kamura felt she did the right thing, what she should have done oh-so many years ago. She did it so you could live."
Kamura, with dying breath, whispered weakly but with some humor, "Call it delayed timing. Plio is right: I did it so you could live, what I should have done when that carnotaur tore through our valley years ago. Perhaps it was all planned that way. Do not embitter yourself, Aladar. Do not fall prey to the dark side, as I will soon be one with the Force, as is Anakin, both mine and Skywalker. All is well...All is well..."
Seconds later, Kamura closed her eyes and breathed her last. She was gone.
"How did you find us?," asked Master Hox to Luke Skywalker.
The Jedi replied, "We were en route to Coruscant from the Endor moon when we got your message. I didn't know there were other Jedi alive, so–"
"What he means," interrupted Han Solo, "is he convinced us to change course. Finding that slip was not much of a problem, but once we landed and saw you were in trouble, well...Hey, what planet is this anyway?"
Artmo Hox smiled as Leia applied healing balm, supplied by the hadrosaur Sarama, to his wounded leg, "It is called Earth, and I've been here for...I've been here so long I've lost count the months."
Master Hox then briefly explained the strange circumstances surrounding his former Apprentice, Ricar Tasou, and a time slip. He told them how the slip was breached in the first place, and by whom. Then he recounted Ricar's two previous visits to Earth, and the wonders encountered.
"Only once I landed and explored the place, I discovered this planet had advanced several million years. The creatures Ricar described to me greatly differed. Yet they know of the ones Ricar met those many years ago, similar to folktales and such."
Leia asked, "Did you actually communicate with these animals?" She looked at Luke, stating, "Most of our wildlife lack the power of speech, yet didn't we see Master Hox converse with that one?"
She nodded to Mac who now stood by Aladar the moment Kamura died.
Hox replied, "These dinosaurs – that is what the big ones are; the small furry ones are lemurs – are capable of speech, with the exception of the predators. Apparently the ones Ricar encountered have the same capability. They are also Force-sensitive, especially," he said, indicating Sarama, "That one, the hadrosaur. Her ability to foresee the future is astounding. Long before I came here, she actually foresaw a major sea disaster that will occur millions of years from now. The tall one, Baylene, also has tremendous ways with the Force. She, too, foresaw her lasting legacy: Her remains enshrined for prosperity."
Then it came to him: He and the Tasous will obviously return home with the Skywalkers. Home to a changing galaxy, free at last of Emperor Palpatine's grip, free of the dark side of the Force. Balance and peace will reign, but for how long? Master Hox knew, despite the initial collapse of the Empire, there were those still loyal to the Imperial regime. It was plain that a New Jedi Order will rise from the chaos into which Palpatine plunged the galaxy. Hox and the Tasous are the only ones left – or are they? – from the old Order. Despite his solid grasp of the Force, and being Anakin's son notwithstanding, Luke will need Hox's expertise in establishing the New Order. However, a strange rumbling in the Force suggested only two will return home; one will remain on Earth for what reasons Hox did not know – yet. That reason will surface in the Nesting Grounds in due time. For now, Hox could only focus on Aladar's loss, and the Herd's uncertain future.
"Oh, here they come," said a relieved Eema. "Here they all come...No, wait, where are Anakin and Kamura? And who are these other folks?"
"From appearances," countered Neera, "they must be some of Artmo and the Tasous' friends from back home. Look, there are two more of those droid things. One looks like Marbe's little droid, and the other looks like HK, but friendlier."
"And," commented Zini, "a lot more trustworthy."
Ola and Suri watched as the party emerged from the cave. There was Aladar and Xander, Baylene and Plio, Sarama and Hadron, the Tasous, Artmo Hox...and...
"That's him!," exclaimed Suri. "The big furry guy! We saw him in the pool, Ola."
"What pool?," asked a curious Eema.
Ola replied, "The pool in the cave. You know, the one where you can see things."
Now Eema understood, for she knew all about the mineral pool that had mystic qualities. She peered into that colorful water not long ago, but she never shared those visions with anyone. Something she saw disturbed her greatly; she actually saw herself and the Herd interacting with the Great Valley herd, and with other beings Eema could not quite identify. One was a man made of straw, the other a man of tin. There were several humans, some magical, others of royal blood, and some who were Jedi. There was beautiful music everywhere, and Eema actually met and spoke to those who both composed and performed that music. What did this vision mean? What did Eema make of what she heard and saw in that pool? A new home for the Herd? Nonsense! The Herd isn't going anywhere; the Nesting Grounds is their home.
Shaking her head, Eema focused her attention on the present events. As she asked earlier, something was amiss – Two of the Herd's newest members aren't there with Aladar and the others. What happened out there? Did Baylene do what Eema thought she did? What came of that? What happened to the carnotaurs? What about that bounty hunter? And where are Kamura and Anakin?
Dead...They're both dead. So is Len Targ, and so are those carnotaurs. One predator killed Anakin, slammed him against a rock wall, breaking his neck. Targ killed Kamura just as that lady stepped in front of Aladar, at whom Targ aimed his blaster. The bounty hunter, knocked senseless by Baylene's resounding impact tremors, soon found himself on the business end of a carnotaur's big teeth.
There were three carnotaurs. Two were killed – one nearly decapitated, the other's throat slashed – by Kirel Tasou; another taken out by that big furry guy, a Wookie named Chewbacca who, as Eema later learned, fought alongside Master Yoda during the Clone Wars.
"That beast's head," Marbe reported to Eema, "literally exploded from bolt after bolt. It almost had me cornered when our rescuers appeared in most timely fashion."
Those "rescuers" were, as the rest of the Herd learned, were from Hox and the Tasous home galaxy. Luke and Leia were Anakin Skywalker's children, the former discovered that fact before the latter. Luke, under the tutelage of an aged Obi-Wan Kenobi, then Yoda, quickly trained in ways of the Force, becoming a true Jedi in every sense. Master Hox noted that Luke learned in record time compared to the Jedi of old. What abilities Luke possessed and acquired usually take years to develop; then again, he was Anakin's son, thus obviously inheriting the father's unusually high midichlorians and keen grasp of the Force. The other man was Han Solo, noted space pirate who, quite unwittingly, became a key player in the Alliance.
As Han explained to Eema, "It all began when I took Luke and Ben Kenobi to Alderaan, 'cept Alderaan wasn't there. Blown up by the first Death Star..."
"Yes, baby," Eema said sadly, "The kids told us about Alderaan. Leia's daddy, Bail Organa, was home when the planet blew up. Poor girl," she added looking at Leia, "to lose her whole family – Heck, her whole home – like that."
"Yeah, well," said Han, "we managed – make that Luke – got in there and took out the first Death Star–"
"As," countered Sarama, "you and Leia finally gained access into that generator shed, set the charges, thus destroying the protective shield of the second Death Star."
Han, Luke, and Leia looked at Sarama then to Artmo Hox. Leia asked, "How did she know that?"
Master Hox replied, "She has a telling grasp of the Force, as nearly all the Herd. Sarama has the gift of foreshadowing, actually has seen events that will occur on this planet millions of years from now."
"Just as," rejoined Marbe, "Sarama foresaw my future." She turned to Luke, adding, "I know you will take Master Hox and my brother back to Coruscant, but I will remain behind."
Now Kirel was outdone. This was certainly news to him. Why didn't Sarama foresee his future? If Marbe indeed remains behind, what kind of future will she have? It's plain there are no other humans here, not for another 65 million years. Oh, Kirel knew the dinosaurs would make Marbe one of the family, and no harm would come to her. Yet, Kirel couldn't fathom life back home without his sister. He knew, of course, such family attachments foster symptoms of the dark side, but they've come so far since fleeing Coruscant. Now that the Empire has been put down, peace and balance at last restored, perhaps Kirel's future lies with the New Republic and New Jedi Order.
But what does this mean for my sister?
The answer to his questions was less than an hour away; but for now, he, Marbe, and Artmo Hox had loose ends to tie up. Such as saying final goodbyes to dear friends, and burying the dead.
Oh yeah...What will become of HK-47 now that his treachery has been revealed? The renegade droid's fate will be decided as soon as Marbe meets the man who will transport her to a new home. Only no one, except Sarama and Marbe, knew this.
Copyright @2006 by P.R. Parker. All Rights Reserved.