Her body tensed as she sensed her master, Jedi Knight Kaiya Pollo*, coming around the last corner to the training room. She had prepared herself mentally and physically for this earlier. Her master was a hard woman, tough in every aspect, considered one of the best at the Temple. She was respected as one of the best of the Jedi Knights commanding the clones in the war. She, however, had one tiny little problem that only her Padawan knew about: giving way into frustration and anger, which ended up, more often than not, with her beating her Padawan near to death. It hadn’t always been like that; the start of her apprenticeship had been strict, demanding, but not abusive. The Battle of Geonosis and a few missions later, she was getting bruises for failures and learning to bottle up her emotions behind strong mental shields.
As Master Pollo’s obedient Padawan (not that she had any real choice), would put up with the torture, not crying out in the slightest. Once her master was done with her “venting”, she’d go to the Room of a Thousand Fountains, sneak through an opening behind the climbing rose vines and into the room tucked behind the towering vines to heal herself. So far, no one except a select few apprentices, initiates, and workers knew about the room. No one knew how badly she was injured. Not that anyone would care. This was wartime; there were far more pressing concerns.“Are you ready, Padawan?” Kaiya’s voice, edged with a bit of contempt aimed at her, she felt, asked her.
“Yes, my Master,” she replied softly, getting out her twin lightsabers, a special skill that rarely occurred among the Jedi, if ever. She immediately dropped into a crouch, crossing the blades above her head to block the downward stroke dealt by her master. She then kicked out at her master’s sword hand, aiming to knock the lightsaber from her hand. However, Master Pollo sensed it in time and used it to Force-knock Ani into the wall behind her, and then into the racks, into the wall over and over again, and onto the floor.
“Get up, sluggard,” she hissed as Ani regained her footing, bruises on both arms and legs.
“I’m sorry, Master,” she said blankly, using the Force to numb her pain and to help her to not feel anymore. Three years of being Master Pollo’s padawan had taught her to control herself so well, that few could penetrate her shields. One just happened to be her master.
She dodged the orange blade and used some quick footwork to send her master stumbling on her own feet, while she swung up to grab a support railing, the lowest suspended from the ceiling. She hung in midair for a moment, and then let herself drop silently towards her master, who raised her lightsaber in time to block Ani’s parry. The latter quickly twisted into a double cut to the head, which managed to unseat her master, who landed heavily on the floor. Soon, they were done. Kaiya had made her Padawan lose her footing. The master stood over her padawan, clearly enraged, and obviously building up the Force to begin beating her. Ani sensed that it was not nearly as mindless of a rage as it had been other nights, for which she was grateful.
“I don’t know,” she grabbed Ani with the Force to lift her off the floor, “how many times,” Ani felt the pressure begin to build on her chest, almost completely suffocating her, “I told you to NOT LOSE YOUR FOOTING!”
“But Master,” Ani protested weakly, gasping for air, “I used a maneuver that’s several levels ahead of what my class is at. Surely that would be impressive enough for you.” Instantly, she regretted her words as that brought a painful smash up against the wall, opening a gash and causing blood to trickle down the back of her scalp. She knew the difference between the sensations of sweat and blood.
“Never contradict me, Padawan,” hissed Kaiya venomously.
“Y-yes Master Pollo,” Ani stuttered, picking herself up from the cold floor only to fall again as her Master sliced a part of her left leg open. Concentrating on the Force, she began healing the surface of the cauterized wound while making to run from the room, close to tears. She normally wouldn’t do this but classes began early tomorrow morning, and if she didn’t get enough sleep, she would not make it through, potentially getting a back grade which earned the same from her master, possibly worse. She heard Kaiya’s voice yelling, “Come back here, Padawan!” but on she ran. She ran down the deserted hallways, everybody at this hour either asleep or off on missions across the galaxy. Her clothing was long and loose, helping hide everything from visible sight, and she kept her shields raised and facial expression blank till she came to the Room of a Thousand Fountains. She detected other Jedi meditating in various parts of the gardens there, shifting as they sensed her arrival. Ducking her head, still a tight grip on her shields, Ani dashed into the section that held the rocky walls covered in vines. She parted a section of the vines and climbed on through.
Ani rewove the vines so that she could see others, but they couldn’t see her, and wouldn’t even think of looking in this direction. Ani then all but collapsed on the mossy dirt, bringing the Force to bear on her entire body, piece by piece, healing every single visible injury so that the teachers and instructors wouldn’t notice and ask. It was embarrassing for that to happen; it had happened twice in the past, and she wasn’t willing for it to happen again, unless she wanted to nearly die by another beating.
She relaxed her grip on the Force now; she was healed to the last bruise, and could relax and get some rest. She lay there for some time, breathing slowly and evenly, until she realized that there was another person near her.
“Who are you?” she demanded, leaping up only to gasp at the pain from her left leg. She had forgotten to heal deeper than the surface.
“Hello, Ani.” The shadows seemed to move, and Ani gasped. There, sitting cross-legged on the soft moss was newly minted Jedi Knight Barriss Offee.