Together this couple are Pilgrims of the Way: Chris Doktor, Architect and Gail Doktor, Flow Poet. Their cruise on the Halcyon was part of a life’s journey to visit sacred places, meet Force-sensitive people, and discover artifacts shaped or significant to the Force. They remain open to participation in events and movements shaped by the Flow.

Side note: In Gail and Chris’s cultures, the Force is also known as the Flow.  They use the terms interchangeably.

Ironically Gail and Chris’s cruise on the Halcyon was intended as a respite between professional assignments. They were celebrating their anniversary and taking the honeymoon voyage they couldn’t afford or imagine back when they were young and in trouble. They hoped for a tranquil experience.

At the other end of the voyage on the Halcyon, they expected to start work at a Flow-rich cultural site, working on preservation of an endangered architectural complex back in the Outer Rim, close to their oldest daughter and her family. One last project before they consider retirement. They never imagined they’d encounter — on board the starcruiser — so many people deeply entwined in the galactic struggle against oppressive powers. Or so many moved by the Force! Nor did they imagine they’d be drawn into the heart of the conflict!

At the time Chris and Gail took the cruise on the Halcyon, they’d just left their most recent artist-in-residence posting near the Wild, and resumed their travels. They follow an itinerant lifestyle, migrating among worlds, without any designated home world. Rather their home spans the time and space between stars.

They reminisce, while sipping a favorite beverage called the Flaming Howl, mixed with ingredients familiar only to those who frequented working-class bars down in the deep guts of Coruscant. It’s part of their annual anniversary tradition. Telling stories. Remembering the bartender who officiated their union.

Gail says, if you’d met them as students, back on Coruscant, you couldn’t imagine they’d become the reputable adults that boarded the Halcyon.

Chris wonders, was anyone on board the Halcyon flight reputable, or truly who they claimed to be?

Over the rim of his glass, Chris’s mouth cants in a jaunty smile. You want to know more about him? Or his wife?

He starts with his resume, as if it’s a job interview. Out of long habit, he deflects attention away from the more personal anecdotes that reveal too much to strangers.

Chris explains that Force-informed design is his professional trademark. Although he also leads graduate design studios from time to time, he primarily takes commissions for the creation and preservation of sacred spaces.

Then his bias begins to show. He takes a longer sip of his beverage.

Needless to say, Chris adds, he disdains the architecture of the former Empire and the First Order. Their facilities routinely involve exploitation and oppression of indigenous peoples. Their projects also often involve pillaging of world resources, with no long-term concern for the viability of a planet or its inhabitants. For instance, for his next project, Chris has been retained to coordinate teams that heal some of the damage formerly inflicted by Empire and First Order building practices. In such work, he aligns restorative design solutions with the Force, to establish balance on wounded worlds.

Gail leans in. He’s modest, she says. You should see some of the places they’ve lived and worked. Some of the species with whom they’ve become friends. He heals sacred places hurt by the powers that tried to kill them, too. Their lives together have been remarkable, and beautiful, because Chris is called to such places.

Chris creates them. Protects them. Restores them.

In fact, they’ve rarely been someplace like the Halcyon, where someone else engineered the whole environment. The whole anniversary voyage was filled with attentive crew and attractive surroundings that pampered them in ways they’ve rarely experienced. What a treat to be the guests, goggling over details and testing all the industrial designs, from the furnishings to the ship systems, rather than the ones who developed it.

In contrast to brutal architectural legacies, she explains, Chris works holistically with different species and environments to develop beautiful, sustainable places. His experience ranges from Coruscant to wild worlds on the edge of Chaos. Part of his creative process includes immersion in the local population and setting. He engages the people who live, play, and work where he will build. He gets to know them, and learns from them. His designs reflect their values, needs, and dreams. Chris also partners with local artists and experts to assure that his architecture projects integrate essential elements of the planet’s history, culture, and future.

Chris grins and points back at Gail. Teases her about her role in their adventures. She’s not an innocent bystander, after all.

In tandem with Chris’s assignments, Gail frequently serves as an artist-in-residence Flow Poet at local colleges and universities. Or leads retreats and workshops in more spiritual settings. Gail’s passion is to work collaboratively with young creatives to explore how the Flow informs their expressive modes of art and communication. She also finds mentors in every place they travel, learning from each culture and environment in which she finds herself.

Sometimes an outsider can see what others overlook, or hear what others don’t notice anymore, Gail muses. As an expressive artist inspired by teachers who saved and celebrated the work of lost generations, such as her poetic mentor Hari Seldona, she strives to recover traces of hidden art and writing, where it has been suppressed or destroyed. She works closely with local advocates to ensure that such legacies are restored to the people to whom they belong.

Together Chris and Gail journey, taking commissions and creative postings in different galaxies. They often find that such destinations turn out to be locations where the Force is active. After all, the Force is in all places, isn’t it?

Reflecting on their voyage on the Halcyon, they say those events shouldn’t have surprised them! Throughout their travels, they have served the causes in which they believe. They carry information or artifacts for those who resist tyranny and oppression. Such clandestine activities are part of how they create change.

As it turns out, Gail and Chris’s professional credentials offer a convincing cover. They can move freely in the upper echelons of artistic and intellectual circles wherever they’re contracted to work. Their postings place them in close contact with sponsors and patrons of large-scale planetary projects: affluent, influential individuals and organizations. At times, where the Order is consolidating power, its representatives forge business and governance partnerships by exploiting such people. Opportunities arise. Using the cover of their academic and artistic roles, Gail and Chris retrieve or deliver missives under the noses of First Order delegates, or pass along valuable intel gathered while rubbing elbows with such officers.

Their anniversary recollections wander further back, long before the Halcyon, to the events that prompted their first interplanetary voyage together. They reel back in time, to the days when they were students, then became refugees on a ship hurtling out of the system.

Maybe Chris and Gail’s meeting was coincidence. More likely it was a nudge within the Flow.

Although Chris and Gail studied elsewhere, they met at the University of Coruscant. Chris is a graduate of that institution.

Sometimes eyebrows shoot up, and mouths drop into an “oh” of alarm, when they share that part of their history. Coruscant. They’re quick to point out that their enrollment occurred prior to seizure of the university, when the Order was known for casting out non-human species, and drastically altering the university’s inclusive policies and programs.

At the university, they both enrolled in the same graduate-level course. Although it’s only a footnote in the events of those days, the course raised questions at the time.

Professor Pol, a renowned architectural historian, received rare permission from the head archivist within the Jedi Order to study the Sacred Spire, the exposed mountain peak within the Jedi Temple, and formerly a Sith Shrine. Why did the Jedi permit such access? What influence did Pol have? What was the intention of the course? What changes may such close proximity to the Spire have wrought in the students?

Only later did Gail and Chris ask questions. At first, they were just elated to be included. After all, Pol’s studio had limited spaces, so they had to compete for a seat in the class. Chris admits, some of his classmates, who weren’t accepted into the course, grumbled. Why, they demanded, was an undergraduate literature student like Gail permitted to take one of those places that should have been allocated to a graduate design student? Yet the course was open to all colleges within the university. None of them dared to challenge their professor, though, about his selections.

To qualify for the ill-fated class, Gail wrote an essay. Chris submitted an engineering sketch. They each had personal interviews with the tall, ascetic professor. Both were accepted into the course.

They’ll tell you that they met in the nick of time. Discovered each other during their last semester at the university, just before fate intervened, and people scattered to every quadrant of the known universe.

Now they’d also admit that their connection was inevitable.

Gail had earned much of her degree through a satellite “pod” of the former University of Alderaan, interpreting archeological examples of poetic verse in the ruins of Ossus. Though the University had been obliterated by the Empire, along with its mother planet, its legacy was continued by sister institutions, using the same methodology and returning to the same academic sites in other parts of the solar system. Chris had also completed one exchange course led by former faculty of the University of Alderaan; he was enrolled on-site in the Cloud City above Bespin, studying their high-altitude engineering.

Comparing notes, they discovered many close calls from their past. They learned, over time, that they’d had multiple near-misses. For instance, they figured out that fifteen months before they met on Coruscant, Gail had just exited a planet’s orbit, when Chris’s shuttle entered it. More than once, they transited through the same space station or star port, coming and going between studies, perhaps brushing shoulders or missing each other by mere moments.

Some compelling energy … what they’d now call the Flow or the Force … was always bringing them within reach of each other. Yet they never met, until those life-altering weeks on Coruscant.

Was it coincidence? Serendipity? Chris says nothing is an accident. Gail still won’t use the word destiny, but it lingers on the tip of her tongue.

Obviously, they were meant to pledge their lives to each other. That’s easy to say now, Gail admits.

Redirect to their final semester on Coruscant. During the busy weeks of that fateful graduate semester on Coruscant, they also took time off to find and visit pubs down in the belly of the planet. In those colorful locales, they sat down. Drank memorable concoctions. Swapped stories.

As they bumped elbows, slouching over bar stools, they talked about what they’d seen and experienced before their time at the University. Shared memories of other places both Chris and Gail had seen injustice.

Inhaling deeply, Chris spun his finger, pointing to the dark, hazy setting where they drank together. He then compared Coruscant to the society he’d found on Bespin. It was also highly stratified. People could live in the highest tiers, similar to the socioeconomic segregation he and Gail observed daily on Coruscant, and never notice the misery below them. For instance, the affluent people on both worlds lived closer to light and breathable air. On Bespin, the privileged folk spent their days gambling, relaxing, and having every need and whim catered to by a servant class of droids and sentient beings. Those pampered people never glimpsed the hard reality of the work-worn, poverty-racked laborers in Cloud City’s lowest levels.

Gail nodded. She had an older friend whose family kept a palatial suite attached to the casino in Canto Bight on planet Cantonica. She’d gone there for a school holiday, and left stunned. Appalled at the conspicuous consumption. She told him about the faces of the small children she’d seen scuttling around in the stables, when she tried to step outside the lush resort for some fresh air and different perspective.

Once they’d seen such stark contrasts, neither Chris nor Gail could un-see them. Or forget them. Then as they explored the ancient capital, they saw its own dank, dark secrets. Again, they couldn’t look away from what they began to notice.

Almost as a dare to witness more deeply and listen more closely, their excursions became far-ranging. They’d enter transit codes for rough and tumble sections of the ecumenopolis. Choose pubs frequented by dock laborers and sex workers just coming off long shifts. With intention, the two students saw parts of the city-world they’d never have experienced unless they chose to go looking.

Everything was outrageous. The price of a scupper of potable water was extortion-high. They carried emergency shots of O2, because the quality of the air was barely livable; sometimes it was actually toxic and guaranteed to shorten a soul’s lifespan. The only light on some levels was red and flickering. In fact, the only good thing, too often, was the low price of cheap liquor. Or the company of some of the people they met along the way. Some of those outlaws are still their friends.

Chris told Gail that he was determined to change the living conditions of ordinary people. He’d make a difference through his design work. She suggested that maybe they’d change things in other ways, also.

As the semester on Coruscant continued, they spent days studying, and nights exploring. Back in studio, while examining the Sacred Spire’s history and its measurable potency, they learned that the mountain’s black stone walls contained a Force nexus. Yet although the Jedi archivist let them into the Temple, access was limited. They were hampered by restricted contact with the Spire’s physical form. Most of their measurements and testing were conducted remotely, rarely did they touch or interact with the Spire. The background data for their research project was curated, and much information was withheld. They realized that they’d been granted only selective entry into the archives.

Chris says now, over his anniversary drink, that every religious movement has its secrets. Both Jedi or Sith. And many of those secrets are embedded in the heart of the Spire. Once the site reverted to the control of the First Order, that ended any chance to discover more.

As the semester progressed, Gail and Chris spent nights exploring further afield, seeking cantinas with ties to local neighborhoods further below. By the end of the semester, they’d run up bar tabs and indulged in intoxicating beverages on dozens of the 5,000 levels of the ecumenopolis. Some of the concoctions they tasted were as thick and oily as the mechanic’s grease they trampled underfoot.

Along the way, they met plenty of folk from all walks of life and many different corners of the universe. As an emerging scholar of stories and voices, Gail wrote down their favorite songs and riddles, collecting a motley assortment of literature that entertained working people in their favorite cheap dives on Coruscant. The capital of the Republic represented every corner of the known worlds: all sorts of languages, species, belief systems, experiences, and forms of consciousness, from organic to droid. Her journal entries were later gathered and published as Voices from Below: Collected Anecdotes of a Barhopper in the Capital. They were popular reading in the mechanic bays and medi-labs of the Rebellion’s fleet.

Chris noticed, as he and Gail spent evenings traveling downward level by level, through tunnels on Coruscant, that they were using passageways drilled into the heart of Mt. Umate. Its peak, after all, is only visible in Monument Plaza. Though officials created a public space where the planet surface is still accessible to the common resident, residents are forbidden to touch the mountain peak in the Square. Chris laments that most folk on Coruscant have never touched the surface of their own planet!

Frustrated that they couldn’t gain more tangible connection with the Spire, he tried to get closer to Mt. Umate. Only miners and builders had such rare access. Asking a favor from their professor, Pol, Chris wangled an invitation to take a private tour of a new tunnel drilled into the core of Mt. Umate. The renowned planetary engineer Fescue Laplumb was opening a new vector for development, and he permitted Pol’s graduate student to take a sneak peek at the corporation’s work. Chris wasn’t permitted to bring back samples, take images, or record data in any way. Yet he got closer to his goal.

Gail and Chris came away from that time exploring the levels of Coruscant with another shared value. They believe, through their work, in restoring peoples’ access to the natural resources and settings of their own world. Too often, development has wiped out the essential connection between beings and their environments.

Chris pauses over his Flaming Howl. Coughs at its kick. Remembers more.

In the last week or so of class on Coruscant, as they were concluding the study of the Spire inside the Jedi Temple, they ambled toward the transport. Gail thinks they chose level 1003.

They descended further into the depths of the planet. Wiped away sweat as the heat gathered. Watched ambient light grow more amber. Held their breath as fermented odors accrued beneath rancid, poorly-circulated air currents.

In the transport, Chris admitted that he’d been seeing things he couldn’t explain. Chuckling, Gail guessed he’d ordered one too many drinks the last few nights. Shaking his head, Chris didn’t laugh. He held her gaze. Grabbed her hand. Claimed he was serious.

The things he saw? He described them as spiderwebs. But not visible to the human eye. More like … metaphysical. He understood them to be energy connections strung between beings and worlds.

Had he ever seen such things before? Gail demanded.

No. Never. Not like that.

He still had her hand in his. She stared back at him. The transport was slowing.

Startled, Gail confessed that she’d recently heard voices. Whispers. Echoes. Songs. They seemed to float free of time and space. Sometimes she could translate; sometimes they uttered phrases beyond her comprehension.

For a bit, they didn’t say more. But as they sat down in that night’s tavern, turning down hard hooch for simple beer, they debated the possibilities. What Chris saw and Gail heard, those seemed Force-related. What could cause such sensory transformation? Was it exposure to the Spire? After all, they’d been placed close to a Force-nexus throughout the semester.

In the following days, they asked furtive questions. Cornered classmates. Broached the subject. Were others experiencing strange phenomenon? Over beer and chips, in the local cantina near the Temple, a handful of their peers acknowledged parallel experiences with the Force.

Perhaps Force sensitivity had been growing in each of them. It awoke that semester. And it’s been part of their lives ever since. Neither of them can wield the Force, Chris clarifies. Yet they can tap into the Flow, Gail adds.

Of course, as the spring progressed, Coruscant was a hub of political and Force-wielded tension. The two students felt pressure mounting all around them. Gail often heard it as a high-pitched pulse. Or a groan. Chris saw it vibrating along the ephemeral web that crossed the periphery of his awareness.

A few University alumni have since wondered, was it possible that Pol’s graduate course was developed as a recruiting mechanism? To flush out Force-sensitive adults by exposure to the Spire? But for what? For whom?  To put them to work, not as young impressionable Padawans, but in some other way?

Gail and Chris speculate, more quietly, that they were placed on a list of students to be eradicated. The Order was already making its moves. Oppressive regimes don’t relish people with untrained Force-sensitivity wandering loose. Rather, such totalitarian governments wanted strict control. What they couldn’t shape and use for their own ends, they eliminated.

As the final week of class climaxed, events crested around them, and the Flow seemed to vibrate. Ache. Echo.

Alarmed, they rushed to complete their assignments. Crisis, along with all-night pub crawls and cantina dates, plus extended excursions trying to break into forbidden tunnels, and other adventures, had drawn them inexorably together.

Fate. Serendipity. Karma. Happenstance Accident. All just another fancy name for the Force, Chris laughs.

On their last memorable day of the semester, Chris turned in his final project and completed the criteria to be awarded his degree. Technically, he graduated. Chris and Gail, of course, didn’t stay planet-side long enough for Chris to receive his official vellum diploma or to participate the University’s pompous commencement ceremony with mortar and tassel. Despite his absence, in the midst of the turmoil as governments toppled and others rose, Pol signed off on his course work. And the administration, appointed by the new regime, approved it.

To celebrate, Gail and Chris spent one last memorable night in their favorite hangout. Gail says it was a dive called Emmet’s, deep in the bowels of Coruscant. Over a Flaming Howl, the signature drink of the season, whipped up for them by the benighted bartender Bernie-09 and still so hot to the touch that Gail blew on hers before lifting it to her lips, they decided to get married. On the spot.

At first it was a joke. A dare.

Their daughter has always wondered, who asked first? Neither of them will admit to being first. Or last.

Chris pulled out a spool of copper wire from a repair job he’d been finishing the past few days, along with the multi-tool that he always kept in his hip pocket. Clipped off a section. Braided a threnody of wires into a temporary ring. Handed it to Gail. Grinned.

In response, she pulled out her antique ink pen. Tugged on his hand, drawing it closer. She set the pen’s nib to his tender flesh. Scribed a circle with forgotten runes, as an indecipherable message whose content she still won’t divulge, around the circumference of his finger just below the knuckle. Winked up at him.

Bernie09 was eavesdropping from his spot by the taps. Or just doing his job, depending on your point of view.

He swiped the bar with a rag. As they looked up, fingers linked, his metallic head swiveled to gaze at them. In a flat tone, the droid informed them that he was also a justice of the peace. On that level of Coruscant, no human officials were available. Only mechanical ones. It wasn’t safe for the other kind.

If Chris and Gail ordered another round, Bernie09 offered, he was willing to officiate. For privacy, they could go to the far end of the bar.

They drifted down to a dark corner under a flickering bulb. Bernie-09 paused, dabbed some froth off his chrome knuckles, asked them a few pointed questions, and validated their exchange of vows. Logged it into the ecumeopolis’s databanks. And they were official. Legal.

Between first and second rounds, they got married!

Of course, per Bernie09’s fee, they got a second batch of Howls. The next bevy of drinks was spicier and smokier than the first. Gail burned her tongue because she drank hers too soon. Chris gave her an ice cube as a wedding present.

It’s a ritual now, they recount. Every year on their anniversary, Chris and Gail mix and lift a Flaming Howl as a toast and a reminder. Then finish it off with an ice cube. Look at their holo-rings, which can never be lost or broken, and chuckle at the original pair of rings they exchanged: wire and ink. On that day, they traded a lifelong promise.

Yet now they’d say that it was the Way of the Flow, learned over the course of a lifetime together, that shaped the orbit of their lives before and beyond Coruscant. As the world around them blew up, their path came into focus. As everything else hurtled away from each other in an explosion, their lives’ purposes overlapped and their loves intertwined.

On that night, Chris says, they discovered a mutual calling to be in the presence of places and people shaped by the Force. On that night, Gail opines, they opened their lives to the Way.

The next morning, reality erupted. Gail learned that her academic mentor had disappeared. Possibly in hiding. Possibly arrested. Possibly executed. Her mentor’s fate remains unknown. That controversial literary scholar was considered to be an agitator, a danger, a traitor to the rising powers of the state. So Gail’s studies were over. By affiliation, she was a person of suspicion and definitely under surveillance.

Put on a Termination List, Gail repeats. If not because she was in Pol’s class, then because of her connection to a banned poetry professor.

By contrast, though, the architectural historian Pol was in favor with the growing forces of the new regime. Due to his good standing, his protégé Chris received his degree. Yet when Chris learned his studies were officially complete, and he had graduated because of his professor’s connections with the rising regime, he considered renouncing his degree.

Grabbing their satchels, they decided to run. Despite their professor Pol’s connections to the Order, Chris would eventually come under lethal scrutiny. Their barroom marriage would come to light. His loyalties would be questioned. Hers were already considered treasonous.

Together, they fled Coruscant along with other students and refugees as the Republic fell. They carried one bag each. As they boarded the ship, Gail reminded them, that even if they’d abandoned most of their possessions, and possibly their education, they carried other gifts with them.

She lifted one digit for each blessing. Counted them on one hand. One: Chris was bringing along a new range of senses, attuned to the Force. Two: Gail was filled with a growing awareness of the Flow. Three: they had each other now.

Remembering, Chris grins again at her. Wriggles his fingers, holds her hand.

Like so many refugees, when they ran, they didn’t have any destination in mind. Just a promise to stay together. To go where they were led.

The outbound ship they boarded was a Corvair-class ship called Ella Rose. Ruefully they add, it was much more modest and workmanlike than the Halcyon.

On that desperate flight, jammed with people, short on fuel, Chris re-engineered the crew’s habitation quarters. Fixed the hydroponics. Jury-rigged the replicators and the refreshers.

All with his famous multitool, Gail explains, one dimple showing. It wasn’t the last time they bartered work for passage, she expounds. Or promised an avid crewperson access to his tool.

Hah, Chris chortles. His cheeks flush.

On the Ella Rose, they found their way to the Outer Rim. Thus their migrant life on-board ships, between planetfalls, began.

They’d also started a family amidst that exodus. In time, two daughters, one after the other, arrived. They named each girl after the lightship: Ella and Rose, respectively.

They never slowed down, Chris shares Not even to give birth, provide safe passage, to each child. They nurtured the family. Yet both girls were born on ships, delivered by midwives among strangers and stars. They were always leaving one place and heading somewhere else. Both girls grew up as Pilgrims of the Way, just like their parents.

From their earliest days in the Outer Rim, as their girls were growing up, Chris taught for the Shadow University. Its courses are mobile, without any centralized campus. He’s been teaching and designing for decades. By now, Gail brags, you can see Chris’s influence on multiple generations of architects.

While Chris was teaching studio and taking private contracts, and the family was growing, Gail took time off from writing. She compiled her Coruscant journals and published them. Then went back to school, and obtained her degree through the Shadow University. To do so, she completed her thesis on the body of work by Alderaan poet Hari Seldona. Gail’s scholarship addresses Seldona’s exploration of ancient poetry during her tenure at Byron College on Alderaan.

Gail’s voice gets soft and bitter, when she repeats that not just Byron College, with its library and collections and stately buildings, but all of its professors and students were obliterated when Vader turned the Death Star on the entire planet. It was only one loss among millions as an entire world of sentient beings was destroyed. As far as the Empire is concerned, they also eliminated all traces of those peoples’ lives, histories, and futures.

The Empire’s act of destruction at Alderaan gave birth to more rebels. Gail counts herself among them.

The voices of those the Empire, and later the Order, tried to silence were raised up instead. Using off-world archives held by sister academies, which contained records of most of Byron College’s academic and intellectual resources, including the work of Hari Seldona, Gail completed her graduate project. She shone a light on her mentor’s work, as the poet Seldona once revived older legacies. Gail now collaborates with scholars and expressive artists who revive stories and songs that the Order sought to hush across Alderaan and other worlds.

Most of Gail’s art, these days, takes the form of fleeting, expressive formats that cannot be reproduced. She prefers spoken word or narrative dance, for instance. They change each time they’re recited or performed.

As Chris’s career has advanced, he has become a healer. He nurtured a design approach to ritual and world architecture that resists the brutalist, monolithic style that came into prominence under the influence of military architect Orson Callan Krennic. Chris focuses, instead, on architecture that works with natural elements and systems within a planetary setting. Such modes of building and design, he believes, are aligned with the Force.

In one of the studios that Chris taught, he led students to Utapau, where they studied Ossic architecture. Gail and their daughters Ella and Rose were on-planet with his studio. Chris and his students learned from the native Pau’ans and Utai, who use the calcified remains of most native species on their planet to develop sustainable residences and buildings. When Chris and Gail and their children arrived at the city landing, they realized it was constructed of whale bones! One can see the influence of that planet in some of Chris’s most award-winning sacred spaces.

The Flow, Gail says, was throbbing in the elements all around them.

Not all of Chris’s work is permanent. He is also conversant in temporally-sensitive construction, such as the ice palaces on Medurs, to which the Halcyon once traveled. If you’re curious, they’re highlighted in at least one chronicle of the famed honeymoon cruise of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Senator Organa promoted the art and architecture of Medurs during that voyage. She famously said, There is beauty in broken things.” At the end of that adventure, the legacy of Medurs was at great risk of being lost forever. Yet some survived. Worlds like this have shaped Chris’s calling.

Chris works with a small group of dedicated architectural colleagues who founded the World Heritage Consortium. It is an artisan group dedicated to preserving settings such as Medurs’ ice-palace design. For instance, those building techniques are now taught in several workshops in the Outer Rim.

Though it started because of one near-catastrophe, the World Heritage Consortium has expanded to identify other at-risk civilizations and planets. They strive to protect such sacred places through interstellar agreements that establish them as sites with too much significance to be exploited or endangered in times of peace or conflict. They’re looking closely at the forest moon of Endor, whose sacred trees may be in danger, and whose ways of harnessing the Flow ought to be more thoughtfully studied. The efficacy of this Heritage movement, and whether it will withstand further galactic conflict, remains to be seen.

Chris and his colleagues remain hopeful. He says, if they do nothing, even the decision not to get involved, not to act, becomes a choice. Gail observes that she swapped rings and vows with him, because he said YES to whatever comes next, long ago. His eyes were opened, and he’s never looked away.

As they continue to reflect on their lifetime together, Gail shares that their daughter Ella is grown and partnered now to Enn. She became a healer in her own right and Enn is also in the field of systemic health and wellbeing. Speaking for herself, Ella adds that her vocation was inevitable, given her parents’ careers and the experiences she gained growing up. She saw healing on personal, communal and global levels.

Now she’s expecting Chris and Gail’s first grandchild. Chris suggests that his next commission is sited on the Outer Rim, so he can be nearby for the arrival of the next generation of their family. After that, he thinks he’ll retire. Gail twists her holo ring and smiles.

Though Ella takes after her parents by serving as a healer, she’s different in other ways. She and her life partner Enn want to put down roots, rather than continue the itinerant life of Gail and Chris. They want to make a home as far from dangerous regimes as possible.

Where do Ella and her partner Enn live? At a location in the Outer Rim that remains undisclosed. They don’t want any unwelcome attention from people her parents have antagonized. Just know that it’s close to the edge of the known universe. A lightship can get you there.

For their part, Gail and Chris wonder if there’s any place that’s safe. The Flow doesn’t feel peaceful right now.

Chris says if the universe remains calm enough to permit such dreams, he wants to spend more time with their daughter and grandchild. He wants to stop taking commissions and stay closer to the newest generation of their family, so he can be on hand when his grandbaby first looks up at the constellations and starts asking questions. Gail wants to be there for the lullabies and bedtime stories.

Then they both laugh. Retire? Stop traveling? They cannot imagine slowing down or staying in one place for too long. Even Ella scoffs at that proposition. She points out that they’ve been on the move since before she was born.

Chris protests that most of their travel was for professional reasons. They weren’t always on the run.

Thinking about the baby, and her parents’ capacity to keep the peace so they can live a quiet life close to home and family, Ella snorts loudly. She comments that they’re likely to get in trouble again soon. Even at outposts in the Outer Rim, where Ella and Enn hope to live beyond the reach or attention of totalitarian governance, her parents may find themselves on the wrong side of the law. She predicts they’ll oppose powerful people and be added to another List all too soon, despite their professional acumen and their influential connections.

Each of her parents has defied oppressive regimes like the Order at every turn. Gail lifts up lost words. Chris revives threatened architecture and planetary infrastructure. They’ll be considered controversial, if not outright dangerous, any day now.

And yet, Ella confirms, they always come back. A Way opens and they return to her again and again.

They find, over and over, that their callings draw them to places where the Force is vibrant. Yet those are also places where conflict is likely to erupt. Or war has already done too much damage.

Then their eldest daughter sighs. Whispers that it’s cost all of them too much already. That’s when the missing family member really leaps into focus. Ella has … had … a sister Rose.

You might ask what happened to Rose, Chris and Gail’s second child, also named for the ship that brought her parents to safety? That’s a different story for another time. Chris glances away when he talks about her. There’s sorrow in the set of his brows, the compression of his mouth. Gail closes her eyes, breathes deeply, and hums a faint song when the topic of Rose arises.

Ella just shakes her head. It’s their story to tell. Rose isn’t here to speak for herself. And for once, her dad can’t heal the hurt and her mom can’t bring back the missing voice that was silenced too soon.

Here’s what they usually tell people. Together Gail and Chris continue to make meaning and find purpose, through the healing that comes from their journey. Some of it happens when they connect with Force-influenced people and places.

Remarkably, they can communicate with Rose, from time to time, through the Flow. Chris has seen her directly, smiling, a being of radiance and energy, yet utterly herself. Gail gets snatches of words and images, never a whole conversation. Once, Rose whispered to her mother, that she lives in a house of light. They know her spirit persists, returned to the Flow which is the source of love that animates all life.

All of these stories spill out as they gather to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Ella sips her own Flaming Howl and pats her belly. Her partner Enn leans close and lays a palm across hers.

Making a toast to each other, and to the Way, they sum up their lives together. Chris and Gail have been on many worlds. Worked with many sentient beings, both organic and droid. Connected with many sacred places. They have encountered the Force, in art and word, and many other forms, throughout the universe. There’s more to do, to see, to discover. And now there’s another life on the way, and another whole adventure about to begin. They remain open to the Way.