Here, Vernestra experiences a hyperspace vision.
The whine of the hyperdrive powering up on the small ship drew Vernestra away from her thoughts, and she was surprised to ﬁnd Imri watching her with concern. Vernestra frowned. “Is something wrong?”
He shook his head. “Just a feeling. But I don’t know what it is. Don’t mind me,” he said, leaning back against his chair and closing his eyes, his breathing becoming deep and even as he began to meditate. Or nap. Vernestra wasn’t sure which one.
The ship bumped and jumped, and then the blue of hyperspace streamed past the cockpit windows. Vernestra yawned once, and then twice, and the next thing she knew—
She was in the desert on a planet she’d never seen before. She walked forward in a dreamlike state, everything around her a little hazy and unreal.
Oh, no, she thought, alarm surging through her. It’s happening again.
Vernestra had enough awareness of the moment to know she was having one of her hyperspace visions, which she hadn’t had since becoming a Knight, but she was thoroughly unable to pull herself from the reverie. She found herself carried along, so she eventually relaxed and let the vision show her what it would.
The red sand of the desert gave way to scrub brush and a small culvert with a sickly trickle of blue moss growing thick at the lowest point. Vernestra walked along the top of the ridge toward a small town that consisted of a handful of weathered buildings. At the end of the town’s lone road was a Jedi temple, the Order’s insignia painted on the front the only thing in the landscape Vernestra recognized.
Blasters ﬁred and people roared. A ragtag group ﬁred haphazardly into the buildings, unchallenged.
“For the Strike! For the Tempest! For the Storm!” they yelled. A blue-skinned Jedi came out of the temple, his lightsaber powered up and ready to do battle.
Someone was calling her.
Vernestra walked as a ghost, stepping away from the battle raging in the street and slipping into the shadows of a lodging house. A family of Ugnaughts huddled in a back room, their eyes going to something on the table.
“I told you it was a bad idea to steal from the Nihil!” the woman yelled at the man. “You have killed us all.”
“The old Jedi will handle it,” the man said, even as he ﬂinched at every sound of blaster ﬁre. Sitting in a tray on the table was a box. It looked like a holocron, but there were glyphs Vernestra did not recognize on the outside. Squiggles and slashes in shades of black and silver.
Take it. Find me. I have something for you, said a voice Vernestra did not recognize and was deﬁnitely not her own.
In the dream, Vernestra reached out for the box, for the secrets it held, for the chance to answer a call—
“Vern! Hey, are you awake?”
Vernestra startled upright, blinking as the last remnants of the dream—vision?—fell away. Imri stood over her, and he took a step back as Vernestra straightened.
“I—I must have fallen asleep,” Vernestra said, rubbing her eyes, heart pounding with the lie. “Are we still in hyperspace?”
“No, we just exited, and now we’re heading to the next jump point. Are you okay?” Imri asked, a dozen questions in the look he gave Vernestra.
“I’m great, just ﬁne.” She hated the way she was pulled from her body, the lack of control as she was moved from one part of the scene to the next. But Vernestra still wanted to take some time to analyze what she had seen, meditate on it and pick it apart as she did every problem. Before, when she was still a Padawan, having one of her attacks left her feeling scared and shaken, like she was somehow misusing the Force.
Now Vernestra was just wondering why they were happening again.
Visions were not uncommon to those connected deeply to the Force, but prophecy was no gift; rather, many Force users saw it as a curse to be endured. Vernestra was not prone to prophecy. Those Force users were usually discovered very early on, and none of her previous mental wanderings had ever come true, so the vision must be something else entirely. Was someone trying to reach out to her? Was she seeing things that were happening in that moment? But how, and why now?
Imri, ever the sensitive one, frowned as the questions raged through Vernestra. He gave her a concerned look and opened his mouth to speak. But whatever he was about to say was cut off as the comm unit began to beep.
“What’s happening?” Vernestra asked, standing and walking away from both Imri’s concern and the lingering strangeness of the vision.
“It looks like the temple on Tiikae has sent out a request for aid. They’re reporting a number of Nihil ﬁghters looting and menacing the local populace.”
“How far away is that?” Imri asked, coming up behind Vernestra. She could feel the questions he wanted to ask her, but she would put him off for now. This was no time for pondering her wayward abilities.
“Not far,” Reath said, worry twisting his pale brow. “We should assist.”
“Agreed,” Cohmac said. “Reath, update our course. Vern and Imri, I can drop you in from above to save time? From the message it seems as though the ﬁghting just began.”
“Of course, Master Cohmac. We’ll do what we can. Come on,” Vernestra said to Imri. “The sooner we can stop these Nihil, the better the chances there won’t be too many casualties.”
“I’ll come along, as well,” Reath said as he ﬁnished inputting the new location. He unbuckled from his seat. “The ship only needs a single pilot to land.”
“Once we’re over the heart of the ﬁghting, I’ll open the loading ramp,” Master Cohmac said. “Looks like I’m going to take this fancy array for a spin.”
Vernestra nodded, and the three Jedi ran to the loading ramp. She pushed the strangeness of her vision aside to be dealt with later and turned all her attention to the battle that lay before her.
It was time to remind the Nihil that the Jedi would not tolerate their violence.
Vernestra handed both Imri and Reath communicators to slip over their ears before placing one over hers. After a quick comms check to make sure she could hear not just Imri and Reath but also Master Cohmac, she palmed her lightsaber and took a deep breath, centering herself in the Force. Vernestra wasn’t much worried about Reath—she knew he was capable enough—but she turned back to Imri.
“You think you’ve got this?” she asked. Imri was a proﬁcient ﬁghter, but Vernestra tended to worry about him anyway. She worried that every battle left more of a mark on Imri than it should. He was no coward, but he lacked the ﬁre of Jedi like the Trandoshan Master Sskeer.
Imri pulled his lightsaber from his holster and tossed the hilt from hand to hand, spinning it around to limber up his wrist. “Let’s handle these Nihil.”
Reath nodded and shifted his stance but said nothing.
The door to the loading dock opened slowly, and they all peered down at the landscape below. Master Cohmac kept the ship about ten meters off the ground. They were above a city in the middle of a desert. Roofs curved into brightly painted domes, and below them was a market square with a fountain and a number of combatants. Blaster ﬁre rained down from windows and ﬂew from doorways, and in the midst of the chaos, a lone Jedi in ivory temple robes repelled the incoming blaster ﬁre, his bright green lightsaber a blur as it moved. He looked to be ﬁghting completely by himself.
The scent of heat and sunbaked sand made Vernestra blink stupidly for a long moment. She knew this place, although she had seen it from a different point of view last time.
The town was the one she had just seen in her vision.