It is a time of peace. The Republic has celebrated the centennial anniversary of the defeat of the Emperor at Endor. With only small and infrequent outbreaks of violence, the Senate has reduced the size of the military, instead returning to the ancient practice of using the Jedi Knights to keep the peace. The Sith, once a constant source of worry for the Jedi, seem to have vanished with the defeat of Darth Reesa seven years ago.

On the planet Dantharees, a planet trapped between two black holes, a group of teenagers from a galaxy far away have just appeared. Among them, DARIA MORGENDORFFER and her sister, QUINN . . .


[i]The planet was mostly the blue of its oceans, with brown, white and green areas visible from orbit. As planets go, it's rather small. To us, however, it was home. Earth. My homeworld. The only planet I had ever set foot on. We didn't have much of a space program, having only set foot on the Earth's sole moon, Luna, a few times, and that in past decades. So, while some of us dreamed of leaving, we had no realistic expectation of doing so.

The town I lived in was called Lawndale. It was near the Eastern seaboard of North America. With good enough optics, you could see the giant strawberry, Lawndale's sole tourist attraction. To the West was Jim's Paintballing Jungle, a paintball range set up to mimic Viet Nam. We'd just wasted a day shooting paintballs at each other, as opposed to wasting time sitting in class listening to teachers talk about subjects they didn't understand.

It was a field trip to teach us how warfare affects all aspects of culture. It ended up being more.

Much more.[/i]


The yellow bus pulled in behind its twin as they began to leave the grounds of Jim's Paintballing Jungle.

Inside, students sat as far from the teachers as possible in the confined area. At the rear of the bus, three girls watched as a petite girl with brown hair fell as she chased after them.

Turning to face forward, an attractive redhead looked at the back of an auburn-haired girl's head. "God, Stacy" she said to the girl to her right, "like, couldn't they put the unpopular people on a different bus?"

"Yeeaahh," drawled the Asian girl on her left, "unpopular."

"Too bad Sandi missed the bus," Stacy said, glancing back at the other girl again.

"Yeah," the redhead half-smirked, "too bad. But, I'm sure she caught the next one."

"But, Quinn," Stacy looked confused, "I thought this was the last one."

"Was it?" Quinn didn't even bother to look surprised.

A few rows up, an African-American couple was talking. "Hey, Jodie, you think we should tell someone she missed the bus?" the guy asked with a slight smirk.

"Let's wait a minute," she grinned back. "We'll mention it just before we get to the gate." Looking across the aisle, she asked the two girls sitting there, "That okay with you two?"

One, the girl Quinn had stared at, answered, "Are you sure we have to tell someone?" Unlike most of the others on the bus, she wasn't wearing a coverall done in camouflage. Instead, she was wearing high boots, a black pleated skirt and a mustard-yellow T-shirt under a green jacket. On her face was a pair of thick round glasses.

"Daria," Jodie frowned at her, "it would be wrong to not tell someone when another person is left behind."

"Well, Jodie, I guess it depends on your definition of 'person,'" chimed in Daria's seatmate. She, too, was in something other than camouflage. Her outfit consisted of gray boots even larger than Daria's with black hose and gray shorts. A black T-shirt had a red unbuttoned man's shirt over it with the sleeves rolled up past her elbows. Her black hair was parted higher on the left than was normal, with the right side cut slightly shorter than the left. Her blue eyes twinkled with mischief.

"Now, Jane . . ." Jodie never finished her sentence as the world took that moment to fall out from under them. A swirl of colors none had ever seen assaulted their ears as a sound like worlds imploding slammed into their eyes. Feelings like hot needles laced with sheer joy were jabbing their skin blended with tastes and smells that were awful and wonderful. With every sense turned inside out, the riders of the yellow school bus mercifully lost consciousness.

Sandi saw a strange glow surround the bus. In less than a second the glow became blinding. The last thing Sandi would ever see was a light brighter than the sun.


Slowly, each person became aware of the sounds of groaning, eventually added to by the sound of a few people being violently ill. Jodie opened her eyes to see her boyfriend looking pale as he gazed down at her.

"You okay?" he asked.

"Mack? What happened?"

"Beats me." He looked around, "Looks like you, Jane and the Morgendorffers are the last ones to wake up, though."

"I feel like hell," Jane mumbled from nearby.

"Great," Daria added, sounding like she was running on automatic, "we must be back at school."

"Oh," Mack said, leaning back, "we're definitely not at school."

Jodie started to sit up, then but fell back as her head began to swim. Mack caught her, then helped her to sit up more slowly. "Where," she groaned, "where's the bus?"

"See those little bits of yellow?" he asked. When she nodded, he said, "That's it. Something caused it to shred like confetti."

"Well," Charles Ruttheimer III, better known as Upchuck said as he walked toward them, "at least it didn't shred us like confetti." The redhead's customary leer was absent, instead he looked pale and shaken.

"Yeah," Jodie muttered as she stared at a scrap of metal lying near her.

Jane picked up a nearby scrap and frowned at it, "I guess we're walking home, then."

"Hey," a familiar voice, complained, "I can't get any signal on my cell phone."

"'Can't get any?'" Daria grumbled.

"Neither . . . can . . . I," came the laconic statement from the Asian girl.

"So," Stacy asked, "how are we supposed to get a ride?" Without looking, Daria knew the girl was starting to panic.

"Young persons!" The group turned to see the woman who had spoken. Another Asian-American, Ms. Li was looking as worse for wear as they, but was trying to maintain order. "Please come over here so we can make sure everyone is accounted for."

"I guess that means we have to move," Jane commented.

"Great. Now I have to expend energy," Daria complained. The two slowly climbed to their feet and began to make their way to where the others were gathering. Looking around, Daria saw Quinn being helped to her feet by her friends. Good, my sister is okay, just shaken up. Like the rest of us. Now if we can just get home I can pretend the day never happened. Wait, I did that yesterday. Hmm, I did that the day before, too. Great, I'm falling into a pretend rut.

As she joined the group, Daria turned her attention to their surroundings. The place seemed to be a mammoth garden. The center seemed to be a grassy area about the twice the length of a football field and as wide as long. The grass had a violet tint to it, and the flowers were of colors and varieties Daria was unfamiliar with. As she was looking at the flowers, she ran into someone who had stopped in front of her.

"Jane?" Daria noticed there was no reply. A look told her that her friend was staring above them. All it took was one glance of her own to understand why.

There was a latticework around it, but the area directly above them was obviously made for viewing. And what she viewed made the experience so far pale by comparison. A ring of fire seemed to surround a black blur. As they watched, another stream of fire came from the other side and stretched into the blur. As it reached the blur, the color changed from red to bright yellow and then to white.

"Oh my god," Daria whispered. "It can't be."

"You know what that is?" Jane asked.

"Death on a cosmic scale," came the timid reply.

"Sounds like you think it's a black hole come to swallow us up."

"Nailed it in one."

Looking away from the spectacle above, Jane stared at her. "You mean that's a black hole?" she yelled.

"Miss Lane!" Ms. Li called out to them. "There will be no inciting a riot today!"

"She's right," Jodie said to the principal from beside Daria, "that looks like a singularity."

"A single who?" a blonde girl looked up as she twirled one of her blonde pony tails.

"Singularity," said a boy in a football uniform as he looked up, too. "You know, babe, that professor guy who's always fighting with Sherlock Holmes."

"Oohh," nodded the blonde.

Looking at the couple, Daria's jaw dropped open in shock. "Don't even bother," she heard Jodie whisper. "He thinks Sherlock Holmes is a boxer."

"Too many scrimmages without a helmet," Daria muttered.

"Who are you people?" The strange voice caused the group to turn and face the source. He was an older man with a head full of salt-and-pepper hair. He was clean-shaven, and wearing a dark gray outfit that almost hid his lean figure.

"I am Angela Li, and I am the principal of Lawndale High," Li said without her usual stretching of the school's name.

"Lawndale High what?" the man asked, coming to a stop in front of her. "And how did you get here?"

"Perhaps," a teacher interjected, "it would help if you told us where we are." As he emphasized the words, his right eye bulged in a manner that most would consider unhealthy.

"I think Mr. DeMartino has figured out we're not in Kansas anymore," Jane muttered to Daria.

The man looked at the teacher as if worried for his safety. Then, he looked at Li and said, "Miss, this is Dome Three. What dome are you supposed to be in?"

"Dome?" Li looked up, "Is this some kind of planetarium?"

"No," the man shook his head. "You're looking at Koogan, the larger of the two singularities."

"There's more than one?" Jodie blurted out.

"You mean you really don't know where you are?" The man looked at the group as if really seeing them for the first time.

"Excuse me," Daria spoke up, "but who are you?"

"Oh, so sorry. I've forgotten my manners." Putting a hand to his chest, he said, "I'm Foxbower Tyran, the administrator of Danathrees Station."

"Danathrees Station?" The driver of the bus spoke up for the first time. "I ain't never heard of that place." The steering wheel was still in his hands.

"Neither have I," DeMartino agreed.

"Obviously, something strange has happened," Tyran said, frowning. "Perhaps we should see to your needs before we proceed farther. Please," he motioned with his hand, "come this way."

As the class began to move forward, Daria noticed that Jodie hadn't moved. Tugging at Jane's sleeve, the two of them joined the girl and Mack, who was standing beside her.

"What's up?" Jane asked.

"I don't know," Jodie said, glancing upward once more. "I just have a bad feeling about this."


[i]To say that Danathrees was a major change is a major understatement. The planet's sun had been devoured thousands of years before by one of the two black holes that held the planet between them. It had been used as a scientific research station by several governments. Director Tyran was the head of the station, and had been for years.

At first, of course, they thought we were crazy. But, after some testing, well, they still thought we were crazy, or at least some of us, but they also realized we were telling the truth about where we came from.[/i]


"This is incredible," Tyran said as he looked across the table at Li. "Our medical teams confirm that your group has microorganisms in their blood that are not in our catalogues. And we have access to the entire Republic medical data base."

"And that means what?" Li asked.

"It means," he replied, "that you are not from any system in the galaxy."

"Are you saying we're from . . ." Li put a hand to her head and closed her eyes. "This cannot be happening. I have a meeting tomorrow with the school board."

Leaning in, Tyran said, "Miss Li, that tomorrow might not occur for a thousand years, or it might have been a thousand years in the past. There is no way to know."

"So, what am I supposed to do?" Lost, she thought, it's all lost. Every scrap of power, every favor I'm owed. Gone.

Tyran smiled gently, "We'll think of something. Your students are still young enough to catch up. They'll be able to join the rest of the Republic in a couple of years. And that's if they take up a technical field. Most of them will be okay in a few weeks time. You're lucky," he added. "The galaxy is booming. Workers are needed all over. Seems there are more jobs than workers these days."

"But we need to get home," Li insisted.

"I told you, we have no idea how you got here. Without even an inkling, there is no way to even start the research to send you back." He sighed and rubbed his eyes, "That's why we're working to try to integrate your students into the general populace."

"Well," She said, standing, "I'm not condoning anything that will keep us from finding a way home. These children are my responsibility." Turning, she left the room.

"Responsible or not," Tyran said to the empty room, "you are not going anywhere."


"Hey," Jodie asked Daria, Jane and Quinn, "you seen Ms. Li?"

"Not for a few days," Jane told her. "She wander off or something?"

"Like, maybe she found a place to hide," Quinn offered. "She always was trying to make the school real secure."

Daria looked at her and nodded, "Good point." Looking back at Jodie, she said, "I'm sure she's just snapped and is running around one of the domes in the nude, flapping her arms and trying to fly."

"Thanks for the visual," Jodie scowled at her. "Anyway, if you see her, tell her I was looking for her." Walking away, she suddenly stopped. "You know, I haven't seen Mr. Thorgood for a few days, either."

"Who?" Daria asked.

"Like, the bus driver," Quinn told her.

"Oh." After thinking for a moment, Daria said, "I don't think I've seen him since we got here."

"God, Daria," Jane looked at her, "you seem to be in a haze today."

"I feel like someone has a wet towel wrapped around my brain," Daria confirmed. "Maybe I'm coming down with something."

"It'd be too bad if you caught montezuma or something," Quinn said. When Jane started laughing, she looked over at her and asked, "What's so funny?"

"I think you mean influenza," Daria told her. "Montezuma's Revenge is slang for the runs."

"Ew," Quinn said, looking slightly ill.

"For once we agree."

"Sorry," Jane sniffed, "but you caught me off guard."

"Uh, okay."

"You know," Jane looked at the sisters, "I'm kinda surprised that you two are together. What happened to the 'cousin' thing?"

Quinn rolled her eyes, "Jane, have you looked at what they're making us wear?" She plucked at her gray coverall, "I mean, with this, how much more unfashionable can we get? Besides," she shrugged, "Daria's all the family I have left."



"What?" Daria blinked into the darkness. "Who's there?"

Come to me. Obey me.

"Would you hold it down," came a voice. "I need my 12 hours, here."

You will obey.

"Would the two of you keep it quiet," a third voice ordered.

"Jodie," Daria took her glasses off of the small table next to the bed, "how many voices are you hearing?"

You will come to me.

"Who is that?" Jane sat up and looked around.

"Don't know," Jodie said from the top bunk across the room from Daria and Jane. Looking down at her, Jodie asked, "You hearing it, too?"

"Yeah." They listened for a few seconds. "I think it's gone," she amended.

"That," Jane slid her feet over the side, "was weird."

"Like nothing else has been this week," Daria commented as she frowned at Jane's feet.

The person in the other bunk sat up. "Are we having a meeting?" The girl was slightly heavy, with dark hair that was normally in a messier version of Jane's. She was without makeup, but still managed to look dark. "Cause if we are, I vote we sacrifice someone tomorrow at midnight."

"No meeting," Jane said, cheerfully, "we're just hearing voices."


"Yeah," Jodie rolled over to look down at her, "go on back to sleep, Andrea."

"Sure." A few seconds later, she was out cold.

"Okay," Jane said, watching, "I'm jealous."

"Hmm," Daria grumbled as she put her glasses back on the table. The three lay down again, but did not sleep much.



"Like, huh?" In the darkened room, it was impossible to tell who had spoken.

Come to me. Obey me.

"Obey?" The sound of bare feet on a hard floor followed the still-drowsy voice. Then, the door opened, allowing a slim shape to slip out of the room. In the bright corridor, Quinn stopped and blinked as she tried to adjust to the light. "Why am I out here?" she asked herself.

You will obey.

A wave of dizziness caused the girl to reach out to the wall for support. For several seconds she gasped for air as she held her other hand to her head.

You will come to me.

"I must . . . go," she whispered. With unsteady steps, she began to walk down the corridor. She had gone for a few minutes before the voice appeared in her mind again.


"Yes?" she replied, stopping.


As if in a trance, she started moving again. Her eyes were slightly glazed as the voice in her head continued.

That's it. Come to me. Follow my thoughts. A chuckle sounded in her head, then the voice continued. From this point on, the life you knew is over. As of now, your life will belong to me.

"My life . . . belongs to you," she whispered. Rounding a corner, Quinn saw her destination. The door was unadorned, but what was beyond drew her with an overpowering force. As she neared, the door opened to admit her, then closed once she was inside. In the center of the room was a circle of light. On the far side of the light a figure waited.

He was hidden beneath a hooded cloak that cast an impenetrable shadow over all but the end of his jaw. Stretching out a hand, he gestured for the girl to approach. "Come, Quinn," he commanded. "Come face your destiny."

The dazed girl staggered to the center of the light, then stopped. "What," she struggled to ask, "what do you want with me?"

The hand clenched into a fist, and something drove Quinn to her knees with a gasp. "Hurts," she gasped.

"Disobedience is painful, my new apprentice," the figure told her. "We shall call that your first lesson."

"But I don't want to be a, uh, whatever you said," Quinn told him as something in her screamed a warning.

"Your preference in this matter is irrelevant," he told her. The hand reached out toward her, then what looked like silver lightning flew from his fingertips.

As the first wave of lightning struck, Quinn's world erupted into pain. For what seemed like an eternity she writhed on the floor. Finally, it stopped.

"Now," the figure pointed at his feet, "you will kneel before me and proclaim me to be your Master."

"N-no," Quinn shook her head as she tried to crawl away. Again, she was assaulted by the figure's power. This time, her face was wet with tears and she was trembling. "Please," she whispered, "don't do this to me."

"Surrender to your fate, my apprentice. Your destiny is with me."

Shaking her head again, Quinn began, "I can't -- AAHH!" This time, the pain lasted until she blacked out. When she awoke, she realized she was still lying in the circle of light. To her terror, the figure was also still where he had been. "Who are you?" she asked in a small voice. "Why me?"

"You have the power I require for my apprentice," he told her. "As for who I am, I am your Master. Now," he pointed again, "kneel before me." When she didn't immediately move, he raised the hand toward her again. "You have tried my patience. You will kneel or you will die. Now."

With a whimper, Quinn tried to obey, only to find her legs were too weak to hold her. With her head down, she crawled to him. Once there, she pulled her knees beneath her, then leaned forward until her head almost touched the floor.

"Good," he whispered. "Very good. Now, pledge yourself to me, your Master."

"I," Quinn paused as she felt the tears running from her eyes and down to drip off of the end of her nose. "I pledge myself to you, my Master. My life is yours."

"Very good, Quinn," her Master said. "Very good indeed."


They began to do evaluations of our education level. I guess they were bored with looking at two cosmic eating machines. After several days the tests began to annoy everyone. Especially when they started to repeat themselves.


"I did this test already," Daria complained. "It's designed to evaluate my knowledge of how to operate computers."

"Oh," The technician grinned, "sorry about that. Well," he reached out to change the program, "how about --"

"I've done the one for piloting a speeder, too."

"How did you know that the one I was going to pull up?" the man asked, confused.

"Um," Daria blinked, "I didn't. Or, I don't think I did." She frowned as his hands began to move again, "I haven't done the test for household items."

He sat back like she'd tried to bite him. "You always been like this?"

"Like what?"

"Reading minds and stuff."

"Uh," Daria adjusted her glasses, "no. I've just seen some stuff since I've been here."

"Hmm. Well, take the evaluation, here, and I'll be back when you're done." Standing, he moved away from the computer cubicle.

Another technician was standing by the door, watching Jodie. "That's a weird one," he pointed out as the first technician reached him. "It's like she can read my mind sometimes."

"So can she," came the reply as he pointed to Daria. "You know, it kinda reminds me of my nephew."

"The pilot or the Jedi?"

"The Jedi. Tell you what, Phread, you watch these two for a minute. I'm gonna make a call."


"You called who?" Tyran yelled.

"I called the Jedi embassy on Coruscant." The technician looked at the director with sympathy. He's trying to be intimidating. Too bad he's such a softy. "A couple of those kids show some of the signs my nephew did before he joined the order."

"And they replied how?" Tyran's voice was almost too calm.

"They were going to send a representative along with the observer from the Republic Science Institute." The technician shrugged, "At least we'll know if there's something about those kids."

"Hmm," Tyran rubbed his chin, "true. And maybe we can get some of them out of the way."

"Out of the way?"

Tyran waved a hand, "An idle comment, nothing more."

"Oh." The technician shrugged again, "Well, they'll be here in a couple of days. Then we can have this lot transferred somewhere else."

"They will be moved, won't they?" Tyran seemed lost in thought for a moment. "You are dismissed."

"Okay." The man left the room while shaking his head at the administrator's odd behavior.


"Get the hell away from me!"

Daria, along with everyone else in the dining room, looked up in surprise. Quinn was glaring at Tiffany as if she had done something hideously wrong.

"Buut . . ."

"No but! I'm sick of you two following me around like you're puppies or something." Turning, Quinn began to stalk off, "Like, get a life or something."

"That's odd behavior," Jane whispered to her.

"No kidding." Daria tried to sound calm, but was unable to hide the frown. Finally, she sighed, "I should talk to her."

"I guess so." She shrugged, "look, uh, good luck."



"Quinn?" Daria knocked on the closed door.

"What do you want?"

"To talk. You sounded upset out there." Daria opened the door and stepped inside, "You okay?"

"I'm fine." Looking closely, Daria could see that her sister had not slept well for at least a couple of days. Quinn was sitting on the side of her bed, glaring at the floor.

"No, you're not." Daria sat next to her. "Look, I know we've never been close --"

"Oh, ain't that the truth."

"But," Daria forged ahead, "we're still sisters. And we're all the family we have, like you said. We Morgendorffers gotta stick together.

"Why?" Quinn looked at her, "I mean, we've not done it before, why, like, start now?" Standing, she began to pace, "Look at what we've done to each other. You came to that party just to ruin it for me. I've denied you were my sister since summer camp . . ."

"It doesn't matter anymore." Daria got in front of her. "Quinn, things have changed. Before, Mom and Dad were there. We were dysfunctional, but we were still a family. Now it's just us. You and me."

"Yeah," Quinn's face fell, "you're right." Suddenly, the teen looked more like a little girl. "I miss them, Daria."

"Me, too," Daria admitted. "But don't tell Jane. To her this isn't much different from normal."

"Yeah, I heard her folks are gone most of the time." Quinn returned to her place on the bed. She waited until her sister was beside her again before she asked, "What do we do now?"

"Well," Daria took a deep breath, "the people from the Republic are coming to 'evaluate' us. Then, they'll decide where we're going. Although," her eyebrows furrowed behind her glasses, "I'm not sure what to make of this 'Jedi' business."

"'Jedi' business?" Quinn looked at her in confusion. "What are they doing coming here?"

"You know what a Jedi is?" Daria looked surprised.

"Uh, yeah. I heard a couple of people talking about them one day."

"Hmm. No one's told me a thing." Daria frowned, "And they won't let me near anything I could look it up on."

"Heh. You being barred from reading is worse than locking you in a cell," Quinn smirked. "All I heard is that these 'Jedi Knights' use something called the Force to do stuff for the Republic." She shrugged, "It sounds too much like that clown Mom and Dad hired for my sixth birthday."

"Oh, him." Daria frowned.

"Did I ever tell you that I loved the way you kept telling everybody how he was doing those tricks?" Quinn smiled at her, "I had to pretend to be upset, then, but I laughed myself to sleep that night."

"He wasn't very good," Daria recalled. "And I'd read up on it a few weeks before."

Silence fell as the two girls looked away.

"We gonna be okay, Daria?" Quinn asked.

"I hope so, Quinn." For the first time, both sisters could see the worry in the other's eyes. "I really hope so."


They found Ms. Li the next morning. She had wondered off into the maintenance tunnels and had been exposed to radiation from the exchanger system used to protect the domes. They refused to show us what was left, for which I was grateful. Mr. DeMartino seemed to take a different approach than Ms. Li. Instead of stalking the technicians and demanding to go home, he took the attitude of 'we're here, deal with it.'

The ship containing the people from the Republic arrived about a month after we had been there. Now armed with our test results (rumor was that Kevin had actually found a way to copy off of himself) they began to debate what to do.

Director Tyran, though suddenly seemed very interested in our fate. He and Mr. DeMartino spent hours talking about what was going to happen. At least, that's what I guessed they were talking about.


The man was young, and seemed bored as soon as he stepped off of the shuttle. As he did, a few of the girls in the group Daria and Jane were in made 'ooh' noises. The two looked at each other and shook their heads. He was dressed in a long brown robe, with a tan wrap tunic that a was belted at his waist before continuing to mid-thigh. He had black pants that were tucked into black knee-high boots. An odd cylinder-like object hung from his belt, occasionally bouncing off of his thigh.

Behind him was a group of three people. One was, it seemed, Human. The second, though, was obviously not. She had two tails hanging from the back of her head that reached past her waste. Her skin had a blue cast to it. The woman was wearing a brown dress that did nothing to hide her figure.

The second was an older man with a receding line of brown hair. He seemed nervous, as if expecting something to come after him at any time. He was wearing gray slacks and what appeared to be a white sweat shirt.

The last on off of the shuttle was obviously with the military. He was dressed in a white uniform with pins and medals on the chest and collar. His eyes were already scanning the group as he exited and stood with the others. His posture was straight, with his steps crisp and precise.

Tyran and DeMartino walked up to the trio. "I am Director Tyran," he said. "Let me welcome you to Danathrees Station. This," he indicated the teacher, "is Mr. Anthony DeMartino. He's now in charge of the children we told you about."

"Director Tyran, Mr. DeMartino," the nervous man bowed his head slightly, "I am Bithos Anthwane, head of the Republic Science Institute. This," he looked over to the younger man, "is Jedi Knight Han Skywalker. And this," he gestured to the military man, "is Colonel Amitra."

"Nice to meet you," Tyran bowed to each of them.

"Uh, likewise, I'm sure," DeMartino grunted.

"And the young lady is . . . ?" Tyran asked.

"She is with me," Skywalker said. "Shendra is my Padawan."

"A what?" DeMartino asked.

"My student," he clarified. "I am instructing her in the ways of a Jedi Knight."

"Oh," DeMartino replied in a tone that made it clear that he didn't understand the answer.

"We have rooms set aside for you," Tyran said, gesturing them toward the door. "Perhaps you'd care to freshen up.

Skywalker's eyes passed over the group of students, then came back to lock onto Daria. Without a word, he walked over to where she and Jane were standing together. "What is your name?" he asked.

"Uh, me?" Daria asked.

"Yes, what is your name?"

"Um, Daria. Daria Morgendorffer." There was something about him that seemed to engender trust. A trait that always made Daria nervous.

"And you?" He looked at Jane.

"Jane Lane." Jane wasn't put off by him in the least. "You think you're a little old to be hitting on teenage girls?"

The laugh was hearty and was reflected in his eyes. "I see great things in your futures. The Force is strong with both of you." Looking around, he added, "I can sense that someone else is also strong with the Force."

"Perhaps you can test them later," Tyran said from behind him. "After you've had a chance to rest."

Turning, the Jedi shook his head, "I don't need the rest, but I'm sure the others do." Looking back at the girls, he said, "I will be doing a blood test to verify what I sense. But I can already tell that the two of you have the potential to be Jedi." He turned and followed Tyran and the rest of the group from the bay.

"That," Daria said to Jane, "was weird."

"Well," Jane disagreed, "if you put into the context of everything else around here, that was really kinda normal."

Daria thought for a moment. "Good point."


The guy from the Science Institute, as usual for scientific pinheads, uh, scientists, was more interested in how we got there than what we were going to do now that we were here. He scanned and examined each of us as well as the scraps of metal and the dome where we had been found.

Colonel Amitra, on the other hand, was looking for any sign that we were an invading army of some kind. He questioned Mr. DeMartino and anyone else he could corner for an hour or more. Finally, when he was satisfied that we weren't going to suddenly multiply into the gazillions and overrun the Republic, he started recruiting. He had a few takers, with one, much to Jodie's surprise, being Mack.

His only comment on it to me was, "Hey, they'll give me an education."

As for the Jedi, we were told they would be conducting tests in a room. If we were interested, we could go see them. It was strictly voluntary. I hate that word. But, after the reaction we got from Skywalker, Jane and I decided to check it out.


"Just put your finger in here," Shendra directed Jane.

"Does this hurt?" Daria asked from behind Jane.

"No," the alien woman replied. "The reader uses an extraction device that doesn't even break the skin. You'll have a slight bruise and you'll feel a tingling sensation."

"It tingles?" Jane smirked, "Sounds kinda cool." She put her finger into the slot and waited. "Ooh," she twitched, "that's neat." Looking at Daria, she said, "You gotta try this."

"Not until I get the reading," Shendra objected. Holding up the reader, she looked at the small meter on the surface. "Hmm," she observed, "you're readings are very high." Looking at the raven-haired girl, she smiled softly and said, "You have the potential to be a Jedi."

"What do they do, again?" Jane asked.

"My Master will explain it all later. Everyone who tests high enough will be invited to a special meeting so we can discuss it all at once. Now," she looked at Daria, "it is your turn."

Nervous, Daria put her finger into the small opening. A second later, she gasped and jumped. Removing her finger, she stared at the small discolored area at the tip. "Well, it didn't hurt," she admitted.

"It told you it wouldn't," Shendra reminded her. "Now, let's see what you . . ." her voice trailed off as she looked at the reading. "This can't be right," she stated.

"It's that bad?" Jane asked. Glancing at Daria, she said, "I can't take you anywhere, Morgendorffer."

"I'll, I'll be right back," the alien rose and, taking the meter, left the small room.

"Are we supposed to wait?" Daria asked Jane.

"I think so." The two sat in the chairs while waiting for someone to return.

It didn't take long for the woman to return with Skywalker in tow. He was holding the meter in his hand, and was looking at the girls. "Daria," he said to her, "do you know what this is?"

"Some kind of blood reader thingee?"

Smirking, he nodded, "Yes. But it reads the levels of a certain kind of 'thingee' in your blood. According to this, you have the highest readings we've seen since they tested my great-great grandfather."

"Show off," Jane grunted.

"Would you mind doing another test?" he asked. "I want to make sure before I report this to the Jedi Council."

"Um, okay." Using her other hand, Daria submitted to the test, barely jumping at all this time.

"Same reading," Skywalker muttered. "Okay, then. We'll be testing the rest of the day, then we'll have a meeting with all those who've tested high enough to show promise as a Jedi. Oh," he looked at them, "do any of you have family here? The ability to use the Force tends to run in families."

"We'll have to tell Quinn," Jane said to her friend. "Imagine her with some weird power."

"She'll never do it," Daria replied. "They wear the same outfit. That's why she never became a cheerleader. Besides," she went on, "I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that I might have some kind of weird power."

"I wonder who else tested that high?" Jane wondered aloud.

"I guess we'll find out at this meeting, whenever that is."


"Hey, Quinn," Daria caught up with her sister in a corridor, "have you gotten tested by the Jedi, yet?"

"No." Quinn's voice was brusk. "I have no intention of talking to or dealing with anything to do with the Jedi."

"Geeze," Jane asked, "what's burning your butt?"

Quinn turned and glared at Jane, "I do not need to explain myself to you." Looking at Daria, she added, "Neither of you. I make my own choices." With a whirl of red hair, the girl turned and marched down the corridor.

"That," Jane said, "was strange."

"And worrisome," Daria added. "Just a few days ago she was saying we needed to stick together, and now she's saying things like 'do not'?"

"I'm sure it's just a phase," Jane told her, not believing her own words.


We didn't have to wait long. That evening, Jane and I were brought into a large room with a few chairs set into a circle off to one corner. A small table was set in the middle, with three boxes sitting on it. Skywalker and Shendra were already waiting for us. After Jane and I sat, there was only one seat remaining. We exchanged the usual pleasantries just before the door opened and the last member of our party arrived.


"Hey, Jodie," Jane greeted the dark-skinned girl.

"Hi, Jane, Daria," Jodie replied as she sat next to Jane.


"You are Jodie Landon?" Skywalker asked.

"That's me. I understand you like to be called Jedi Skywalker, right?"

"Call me Han, for now." He gestured to the female, "this is Shendra, who you've all met."

"Hello, Jodie," the alien said.


"Perhaps we should begin," Skywalker said. "You three have been the only ones tested who have a high enough rating to be here." He held up a hand as he saw Daria start to say something, "Please, give me a chance to speak, then I'll take questions. Many of them may be answered before you have to ask them."

"Okay," Daria replied.

"The Jedi Order began thousands of years ago as a religious group dedicated to understand the ways of the Force. In time, the Jedi came to learn how to use the Force to do things that others could not. The Force, as I'm sure you're wondering is an energy field that permeates everything in the galaxy. Life itself creates it and makes it grow. It binds the universe together, and touches everything in it. The Jedi get their power by using the Force. We have this ability because of microscopic creatures called mid-clorians. The higher the concentration in a person's body, the more powerful they are with the Force."

"I'm infested?" Jane was shocked. "Ick!"

"They are a symbiont, Jane. They live in our cells, in a mutually beneficial way." He held out a hand, "Getting back to our history; in time, the Jedi developed the lightsaber." He removed the cylinder on his belt and activated it. A blue-green shaft of light sprung forth, stopping less than a meter from the hilt. He waited as the girls watched the blade for a few seconds. He moved it, causing a hum to be created with the movement. "This weapon is much more civilized than a random blaster. It can be used for defense or, when necessary, for offense. It allowed the Jedi to fully use their talents as a force for good in the galaxy. The Jedi were there before the founding of the first Republic, then joined it when the first planets came together to form a new government." His features darkened, "Unfortunately, not everyone who learns of the Force uses those powers for good. Some have fallen to the Dark side."

"Dark side?" Jodie asked.

"The Force has two aspects," the Jedi told her. "The good side, which is where the Jedi draw their strength, relies on the positive aspects of life. Hope, loyalty, trust, these things flow from the Good side of the Force. Hate, anger, jealousy, these things flow from the Dark Side. Some who learned of the Force turned to the Dark side, becoming what is known as the Sith. One, though an amazing amount of patience, managed to bring down the old Republic and replaced it with an Empire."

"But it didn't last," Daria guessed.

"No, Daria, it didn't. You see," he smirked, "he didn't count on my great-great grandfather and his friends. One of whom I'm named for, by the way. They, and the rest of the Rebellion, overthrew the Emperor, replacing it with the Republic you are dealing with today. As before," he went on, "the Jedi work to keep the peace. We have an academy where we teach our new students until they are ready to come under the tutelage of a Master. Shendra has been my Padawan for a couple of years, now. Soon, she will be ready for trials. Then, she will be a Jedi Knight as well."

"So, it's a sort of apprenticeship deal," Jodie commented.

"Yes. But, in your case, you will be attending the Academy to catch up on your learning. Master Krenshi, the leader of the Jedi Council, has authorized me to bring you to the Academy so that you may train to be Jedi Knights. If you choose, of course."

"How do we know this Force thing is real?" Daria asked.

"I was hoping you'd ask," he replied. "I will test you each in turn, but I need someone to go first."

"Okay," Jane said, looking nervous, "I'll bite."

"Come over here, if you will." Taking one of the boxes from the table, he led Jane away from the chairs. He handed her the lightsaber and showed her how to activate it. Then, he held up the metal ball.

"We use these in training," he explained. "This uses a low-power stun beam, just enough to sting a little. You," he pointed at Jane, "will use the lightsaber to deflect the beams."

"Wait a minute," Jane complained, "how the hell am I supposed to do that?"

"Use the Force," Skywalker's voice had dropped to a purr. He slid up to her and placed the blindfold on her head. "Your eyes can not follow a beam of light, Jane, so we will cover them. Reach out with your senses. Reach out with the Force."

Jane seemed mesmerized at his words. As he took a few steps away, he released the ball. It hissed as it moved through the air toward Jane. She ignited the lightsaber, but did nothing more than raise the tip until the ball suddenly zipped to the side and fired off a shot. The blade moved faster than Daria could follow as it intercepted the beam, deflecting it away. Twice more the ball fired at Jane, with the third beam bouncing off of the blade and nearly hitting Daria in the arm.


"Sorry, about that," Jane said as she stepped back and shut down the lightsaber. Removing the blindfold, she looked at her friend in awe. "I could really feel it, Daria. I could feel the Force!"

"You have taken your first step into a much larger universe," the Jedi told her.


"Now," he looked at Jodie, "it is your turn."

"Uh," Jodie held up a hand, "I don't have to dodge bullets, do I?"

"What's a bullet?"

"Never mind," Jodie said, giving in. "What do I have to do?"

"It's very simple," Skywalker replied. He nudged one of the boxes, "Tell me what is in this box."

"How am I supposed to do that?" she asked.

"Use the Force." He tapped the lid, "The Force knows what is within the box. Use its knowledge to expand your own."

"I haven't been taught how to do that," she protested, becoming annoyed. "Don't you have to study to do that? Besides, I don't even know what that gray-looking thing is." Jodie's eyes widened as she realized what she had said. "Uh, what is that thing, anyway?" she asked after a moment.

"It is a blaster cartridge," he answered, opening the box. Skywalker pulled out a small, squarish gray object, "This is what powers a blaster."

"What's a blaster?" Jane asked.

"It's what we normally call an energy-based sidearm," he answered with a shrug. Turning to Daria, he smirked, "It looks like it's your turn."

"I'm fine," she told him, "really."

"Now, now, Daria," Jane said. "We went through the tests, now it's your turn."

"And it didn't hurt a bit," Jodie added.

"Hrm," Daria grumbled. "Okay, which arm are you going to sever?"

"Preferably none," the young man replied. "I just want you so sit where you were earlier."

"Sitting I can do." Daria returned to her seat, then watched as Skywalker opened the third box and removed a small ball. "Is this one going to shoot at me?"

He chuckled, "No, this one just bounces. Your job," he set the ball on the table in front of her, "is to move this ball away from you."

"I presume you mean for me to use this 'Force' you keep talking about," she scowled.


Daria stared at the ball. "Move," she told it. The ball, however, stayed where it had been placed.

"No kicking the table," Jane admonished her.

"I hate you," Daria shot back. Concentrating, Daria willed the ball to move. Stubbornly, however, it refused to budge.

Kneeling beside her, Skywalker spoke, "Daria, the Force is all life, everywhere. Don't look into yourself for the strength to move the ball. Look, instead, into the universe. You are already connected to the ball. Use that connection. Reach out with your feelings and feel the ball move."

"I prefer to think my way out of a problem," Daria said. "Uh, maybe I'm not cut out for all this hocus-pocus stuff." She started to stand, only to stop when the Jedi gently placed a hand on her arm, causing her to turn and look at him.

"Your walls are strong," he whispered as their eyes met. "You must reach through them and feel the Force around you. It is there, you just have to let yourself see it. Reach out, Daria. Feel the link between yourself and the ball. Don't push it, let the Force move it for you." Gesturing with is head, he concluded, "Give it one more try. But this time, follow your instincts."

Daria looked at the ball for a long moment. Then, with a sigh, she closed her eyes. Visualizing the ball on the table, she held up a hand and focused even harder. She imagined a building of air in her hand, then released the air toward the ball.

The rest of the group watched as the ball shot across the room as if it had been fired from a cannon. It bounced off of the wall and shot back the way it had come, only higher and in line with Daria's head. Without opening her eyes, Daria reached up and grabbed the ball in midair.

Blinking, Daria focused on the ball in her hand. "I saw it coming at me," she whispered.

"The Force can warn us of impending danger," Skywalker explained. "And it gives us the power to do something about it." He stood, "You have each shown the ability to use the Force. So, I offer you the opportunity to come to the Jedi Academy and learn the ways of the Force."

"Uh," Daria was staring at the ball in her hand, "can we think it over?"

"Of course. And," he gestured toward the ball, "you can keep that, if you like."

"Um, thanks." Daria stood and, with Jane and Jodie with her, left the room.

After they had gone a ways, Jane asked, "You know, amiga, I was kinda surprised when you closed your eyes like that."

"He said to follow my instincts," Daria replied. "I remembered that he covered your eyes, so I thought I'd try the same thing." She looked at the ball, "What amazes me is that I caught it. I can't catch a cold, much less a ball."

"I guess you can now," Jodie smirked at her.

"Hey," Jane gave the dark-skinned girl a smirk of her own, "you're the one with x-ray vision."

"And you're a blind swordswoman," Jodie shot back.

"What I want to know," Daria asked, being serious, "is what the hell do we do, now?"

"I don't know about you," Jane told her, "but I want to do this. I mean, I liked that feeling. The thought of being a Jedi sounds cool."

"Jane," Daria scowled slightly, "you do realize that the Jedi order is basically the galactic version of the FBI, right?"

"Daria," Jane's voice was suddenly quiet, "did you feel anything from that guy back there?"


"I did. I felt more good in him that I have in anyone since we got here."

"Good?" Daria wasn't sure how to take Jane's words.

"Yes, I mean . . ." Jane shrugged as she ran out of words.

"What Jane is trying to say," Jodie stepped in, "is that he was honest back there. Imagine a group of people who are honest with you. They take in strangers and make them a part of a group that does good. You know," she nodded, "I think I like the sound of that, too."

"So," Jane said, "that's two for. What about you?"

"I don't know, Jane." Daria looked at the ball. "I think it would be amazing to learn how to use this Force. But what about Quinn?"

"Hey, she's gonna do what she wants," Jane stated. "You gotta do what's best for you."

"Easy for you to say," Daria observed, "she's not your sister. We ever get back home, Mom and Dad will want to know why I left her."

"You can tell them it was because you had to learn how to use your full potential," Jane replied. "After all, don't they want you to live up to your potential?"

"But what about Quinn?" Daria repeated.

"Daria," Jodie interrupted, "why don't you ask her? Maybe she'll be happy for you?"

"I, I guess." After a deep sigh, she nodded. "Okay. I'll go talk to her. I'll see you at the room later." She turned and headed down a different corridor.

"Yeah," Jane called to her, "later." Turning, she saw Jodie frowning, "What's wrong?"

"I just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong."

"Kinda like a bad feeling in your gut?"

"Yeah," Jodie said as they watched Daria turn a corner, "a bad feeling."


I looked, but didn't see Quinn until the next morning. After breakfast, we were treated to the sight of Mr. DeMartino, Director Tyran and the group from the Republic walking to the center of the cafeteria. Mr. DeMartino was smiling and, for once, seemed somewhat happy.

Seeing this, I got nervous.


"Now class," he began, calmly, "thanks to the hard work and concern of this fine man next to me," he gestured toward Tyran, "we have come to an agreement on what will become of our little band of lackadaisical miscreants."

"Ooh," Jane whispered, "maybe we'll be forced to join the military."

"Would you want Kevin carrying a weapon for you?" Daria returned.

"Damn, so much for that idea."

"What is going to happen," DeMartino went on, "is that a school will be set up here. You will be instructed on how to survive in the Republic. Now, those of you who have spoken to Colonel Amitra about joining the service and those who have talked to the Jedi will, of course, go with them. Or," he finished, "you can stay here with the rest of your erstwhile classmates."

"You know," Jodie observed, "I think he's getting better. His eye hasn't bulged once and he's not screaming every fifth word."

"Mr. D," Kevin held up his hand, "what about football?"

"What about it, Kevin?" As he spoke to the boy, DeMartino's eye bulged.

"So much for that streak," Daria commented to Jodie.

"Well," Kevin said, "like, we still have a season to finish. So, when are we going back?"

"We're not!" the teacher snapped as his eye bulged again. "We are going to live here, and we are going to die here, Kevin! We will never, ever set foot in Lawndale again. Never again will I have to drive my old clunker to that camera-infested school to teach brain-damaged kids like you. Let someone else take over for a change. I'm gonna learn how to live here, then I'm going to get as far away from you as possible!"

"I think that's a full regression," Jane muttered.

"Now," Tyran stepped in front of DeMartino, partially to get the teenager's attention and partially to block him from going after Kevin, "we decided to keep you here because of a couple of factors. One, if we do find a way to return you . . ."

Ignoring Tyran, Jane turned to Daria. "You talk to Quinn, yet?"

"I couldn't find her yesterday," Daria replied. "It's like she was off the station or something."

"Well," Jodie pointed, "she's over there, now."

Daria nodded, "Yeah, and she's alone, too."

"I noticed that," Jane said with a nod of her own. "She's not been around the Fashion Club for days."

"Not since the day she tore them a new one," Jodie confirmed. "Stacy and Tiffany latched onto the cheerleaders that were with us."

"Hmm," Jane rubbed her chin, "maybe they'll finally develop that hive-mind they've been working on."

"Now that the only one with a brain is gone," Jodie said in agreement. She looked over to Daria, "We were going to talk to Jedi Skywalker after breakfast. You want us to wait?"

"No," Daria shook her head, "I'll catch up."

"Hey," Jane pointed, "Han's talking."

The trio turned and tuned in to what the Jedi was saying. "Those of you who showed up for the meeting last night, please let me know your decision before we leave tomorrow morning. Also, if you're going with us, you will need to be ready to go by then." He looked at Tyran, "That's all I have to say, Director."

"Ah," Tyran's smile looked forced, "thank you, Jedi. Now, let's hear from Colonel Amitra."

As the colonel stepped forward, Jodie scowled. "I can't believe Mack is going to join the military here."

"Jodie," Daria pointed out, "he doesn't have many options if he wants to do more than be a refugee, does he?"

"Well," she turned to glare at Daria for a moment, then sighed and dropped her eyes. "I just don't want him to get hurt."

"And you let him play football?" Jane asked.

"My permission was not required," came the grumbled reply.

"Besides," Jane went on, "you're leaving without him, too."

"Yeah," Daria chimed in. "Maybe this way you two can keep tabs on each other."

"There is that, I guess. Hey, the meeting's breaking up."

"We need to talk to Han," Jane said, standing.

"You two have fun," Daria entreated them.

"Living vicariously again?" Jane asked.

"No, just wanting to get rid of you."


"Hey, Quinn!"

Turning, Quinn saw her sister heading toward her. "What is it, Daria?" she asked.

"Why are you mad at me?" Daria asked.

"Huh?" Quinn looked down for a moment, then back up, "Sorry. I've been fighting with Stacy and Tiffany again." She smiled a little, "What's up?"

"I take it you're not joining the military?"

"Be serious," Quinn looked slightly ill. "Can you really see me in a uniform?"

"Not unless it was one that changes daily to match the current fashion trends," Daria confirmed. Turning serious, she said, "Look, Jedi Skywalker says that I'm eligible to go with him and learn how to be a Jedi Knight."

"Really?" Quinn smiled at her, "That's great, Daria!"

"You think so?"

"Yes, of course! It would get you off of this rock," she paused for a second, then added, "you know, and out into the galaxy. You'd get to see stuff other than those things," she waved a hand to indicate the two black holes.

"But what about you? I mean, we're the only family we have, after all."

"Ah," Quinn waved a hand, "I'll still be here. They, like, let you off on a break sometimes, right? You can come and visit or something."

"Okay, but are you sure?"

Placing a hand on her sister's shoulder, Quinn nodded and said, "Daria, I want you to go. Really. I think it would be the best thing possible."

Daria looked at her for a moment. Then, she nodded back and said, "Okay. I just didn't want you to feel abandoned or anything."

"Not me," Quinn stepped back and smiled. "You go have fun."

"Okay." Before Daria had taken more than a few steps, she glanced back to see that Quinn have vanished down the corridor.


There was no ceremony for us. Most of the class wasn't even there. Just Me, Jane, Jodie, Mack and a couple of others whose names I had never learned. Most of them were there to say goodbye to Jodie, of course. Jane and I were so ignored we through we were back at school. Our few possessions were loaded aboard and we had one last look as the people we were leaving behind as we walked up the ramp. I looked for Quinn, but she hadn't shown up. I chalked it up to the early hour, then turned and went on board.


"You okay?" Jodie asked as Daria sat next to her.

"I will be," came the quiet reply.

From the far side of Jodie, Jane asked, "She didn't show?"

"No. But, it's early." Looking out of the viewport, Daria saw the wall of the station slip by, then the blackness of space replaced it. "It's funny," she said, turning to look at them, "I wanted to be rid of Quinn for years. Now that I have my chance, I'm really going to miss her."

"Hey, you're sisters," Jodie explained, "you're supposed to be like that."

"Hmm," Daria grunted, turning back to the viewport.


Quinn watched as the shuttle grew smaller as it left the station behind. A part of her yearned to call Daria back or to join her. But, she knew, her choice in the matter was irrelevant. As a shadow fell across her, she turned to look at her Master.

"Your sister is gone," he told her. "She has abandoned you."

"She didn't," was as far as she got before a pressure on her mind caused her to gasp slightly. "Yes, Master," she amended, "she has abandoned me. But it was by my choice. I did not want her to interfere in your plans for me."

Chuckling, the robed figure looked out and saw a small streak as the shuttle jumped to lightspeed. Pulling back the hood, he turned to look at her before saying, "You will do me proud, my young apprentice."

"Yes, Master," she told him, thoughts of Daria washed away as the Dark Side, swept through her mind, "I will."