The lady was quite young and exceedingly beautiful, rather like a queen. Dressed in a voluminous burgundy velvet gown, her hair styled in an elaborate coiffure, she carried herself with an air befitting royalty. Yes, she was a queen once, long ago, before becoming Senator from Naboo.
How did I know this? I've never met her!
The woman smiled pleasantly and replied, "I'm only the third person from Marbe's past you've encountered since embarking on this journey. You've met my husband, Anakin, and Obi-Wan. I am Padmé Amidala."
An astounded Madeline said, "You're Anakin's wife. I saw you, in that mirror Anakin showed me. It detailed your lives together, all the adventures and heartaches you shared. He fell to the dark side, for I saw how it changed him, and it broke my heart."
"As," said Padmé, "it did mine. Maddie, I'm not here on a social call. I've already appeared to someone else in Oz, so it's only fair I appear to you. Did Charlie or Professor Diggs explain why you are here?"
Maddie shook her head, replying, "Not exactly. I was told this was my new home, then they gave me Marbe Tasou's letters and journal. The former I've read many times over. The journal is another matter as I can't get it to open. What manner of book is this, anyway? A crystal cube that contains recordings, but I don't know how to make it play."
Padmé smiled and said, "Well, you could try the name of your favorite composer. You know, the one who wrote that lovely concerto you play so flawlessly."
A blank look crossed Maddie's face, then a look that suggested, "Well...DUH! Why didn't I think of that?" And that was what she said to Padmé who laughed long and hard, saying, "I guess I'd have the same reaction!" Then, "Go on. Try it out."
Madeline uttered the name "Dvorak", and instantly a series of images emanated from the cube. She was so amazed that the images appeared so lifelike. She asked, "What is this thing?"
Padmé replied, "That is a Holocron, and it's similar to our HoloNet. It's on par with your television and motion pictures, but the Holocron holds an incredible amount of information. In the past, before the fall of the Republic, many Jedi of time immemorial recorded these to train future Knights. Much data on the history of our galaxy, blueprints for old starships, even complete information on our many planets was stored on these. Unfortunately, during the Great Jedi Purge and the coming of the Empire, most Holocrons were lost forever. You have one of the few surviving ones. Thank Marbe's mother and father for keeping this safe from the Emperor's prying eyes."
"Amazing," said Maddie, enthralled with the images of a very young Marbe Tasou playing with her brother and parents, "that this stayed with Marbe from childhood until her death. Who are these other people with her?"
"The boy is Kirel, Marbe's brother. The parents are Ricar and Belma Tasou. Ricar was a Jedi Knight who died during the Clone Wars. Belma was from Alderaan and a great friend to Senator Bail Organa."
"Alderaan...That was destroyed by the first Death Star," said Maddie. "So horrible to lose an entire planet and its populace...You must have known Belma."
Padmé said wistfully, "Indeed I did. She was a good woman, thoroughly devoted to her family. Belma kept her children hid on Coruscant after Ricar's death. Once Marbe and Kirel were grown, Belma arranged for their escape. See, the Emperor still hunted down any remaining Jedi, even their families and friends. No one was safe from Palpatine's spies and assassins."
"So," said Madeline, still watching the ten-year old twins train in lightsaber combat, "they came to Earth. Marbe stayed behind, but what happened to Kirel?"
"He returned to Coruscant with Luke Skywalker and furthered his Jedi training. Kirel managed to keep in contact with his sister, but the communications were few. Since Marbe made her life on 19th Century Earth, she had to take extreme care not to be discovered. Your planet's inhabitants, at that moment in time, wouldn't understand Jedi ways, or even the technological marvels we take for granted."
Madeline continued to watch the images emitted from the Holocron. She now saw a grown Marbe and Kirel speeding across a vast desert. Love those speed bikes, she thought with smile. How fast they travel! Where were they when this was recorded? She watched the images progress to the young Jedi arriving at what appeared to be an almost dry lakebed.
Still watching intently, she said to Padmé, "Obi-Wan mentioned the Tasous fled Coruscant then came to Earth. Their father Ricar had been here twice. Something about a time slip. So, if this is an image of Marbe and Kirel on Earth...You know, I'm trying to figure out exactly where they are. Marbe remained here but relocated to Natchez, 1848...From what I'm observing, this looks like the West, perhaps Nevada or Arizona, but those areas had just opened to settlers. Unless..."
Padmé just replied, "Look closer, deeper. You will see more..."
Maddie indeed watched more intently, and she gasped as the traveling pair encountered their first Earthlings.
"Dinosaurs...Those are dinosaurs. Iguanodons. Three of them. But...What...How?"
"That," said Padmé, "was the time slip. Ricar penetrated it but ended up on Earth during the Jurassic. There he encountered more dinosaurs, mostly sauropods, and recorded his experiences. These creatures, Maddie, are highly intelligent, capable of feelings and the power of speech. Several were Force-sensitive. The animals Marbe and Kirel met often told stories of the ones Ricar encountered. Call it dinosaur folklore and legends. Oh, by the way, Ricar recorded the kidnapping of a young apatosaurus. That crime is partially why you are here – to help solve it."
Maddie momentarily turned away from the images. She looked Padmé in the eyes and said, "Nonsense! Dinosaurs died out millions of years ago. This kidnapping has nothing to do with me."
"Yes it does," countered Padmé. "It has everything to do with you. Don't you remember? The woman at the depot? She gave you a woven mat. It tells a story of sorts – the story of the young one's kidnapping."
Then she said before vanishing, "In time you will visit that valley. There lies the key to your true heritage and destiny. You will later meet two Force Masters, and they will train you in the ways of the Jedi. This crime, Madeline, will be solved, but it runs much deeper. The person responsible is long dead, but one of his followers came to Earth long ago and spread his evil among innocents. Two survivors of that evil reside in Oz, in Emerald City. They will tell you more, but there is one more thing: Glinda will receive a special gift which will soon come to you. Guard it well as it holds secrets of Jedi on Earth, and how the Dark One will ultimately be defeated."
"Good evening, gentlemen. I'm grateful you could come at such a late hour."
Nick Chopper, the tin woodman, and the Scarecrow stood before Major Spikeblade. The latter said, "Major, as you know, we are not of meat, so staying up late does not faze us. What is it you want?"
Spikeblade laughed then said, "I have something to show you, and a message for Ozma. It bears on our most recent resident, and you are to keep this to yourselves. Do not tell Madeline until the time is right. She may decide to return to the Great Outside World, thus all will be lost."
He walked to a tiny door on the far side of the room. Unlocking it, he said, "Do not be alarmed; she is perfectly harmless."
As soon as he opened the door, an astromech droid rolled out; it beeped and whizzed, wheeling its domed head as it looked about. Scarecrow looked at the little droid, but both he and Nick knew what it was. They even knew its name.
"Isn't that R2-T7? Marbe Tasou's droid? What is she doing here?," asked Scarecrow.
"Because," said the major, "she now belongs to Madeline Tasou. Marbe knew one of her descendants would be worthy of inheriting R2. This little droid carries a wealth of information: recordings of her former owner's life and a treatise of the Tasous' initial adventures on Earth. She also carries something else I'm not at liberty to say."
"All right," said Nick, feeling his joints squeaking the damp night air, "Why are you showing this to us? And what is this message you want delivered to Ozma?"
Major Spikeblade, ever mindful that he was not to let Madeline know of his existence – yet – allowed R2 to roll about the tiny cabin. He let out a worried sigh, swept his hands through his long brown hair, then said:
"Gentlemen, I sense trouble afoot. Someone in our fair land is not what he or she seems. Call it a hunch, but this person means to overthrow Ozma and wreck havoc all over. It is no scheme reminiscent of the Nome King, but an intricately planned coup. This is another reason, the overwhelming reason, why Madeline is here. She must defeat this evil one as it has been foretold millions of years ago. Now, she doesn't know it, but there is one other Jedi living among us. I can't reveal that person's identity, but the Jedi will come to Maddie's aid at the most crucial moment."
Nick and Scarecrow looked at each other. A secret coup against Oz? Perhaps a surprise attack? A turncoat in their midst?
"What is Ozma to do, Major?," asked Nick.
The major replied, "You and I know she has the power to expose this villain, so does Glinda. But this is not their fight, not entirely. So I want Ozma to do this..."
After he explained his ideas for thwarting an impending takeover of Oz, Major Spikeblade then took out of his pocket two rubies and gave them to Nick. The Tin Man's eyes widened for he knew those gems right away.
"But these are used to pay Muzzy to ferry folks across Crystalline Swamp, in Quadling Country...Oh, I see. I see."
Major Spikeblade smiled, saying, "Yes, Nick. He won't do it unless he receives something in return. I owe him a few favors, anyway. Now, once Maddie visits the valley and realizes what it means to her, she will be ready for her Jedi training."
Copyright©2007 by PRP