Ani watched, her strength weakening as she watched the two women fight again and again, each having a strong will, and, most importantly, each not giving her up. She was tired; no, more than tired. She was exhausted, a most severe type of exhaustion, and it wouldn’t let go of her. That type would only be cured by resting for several weeks and getting enough to eat. Which I will most definitely not do…
“Kaiya, please come back to the Light. Your padawan is suffering, and I’m afraid for her,” she heard Luminara say. Kaiya started to sneer, but then she stopped. This had been going on for about fifteen minutes; usually her master tried to end the fight into five minutes or less, rarely more. It turned out that Master Luminara was a lot stronger than she looked. Ani felt a rare thread of – hope? – when she saw her true master run towards her.
“Master Luminara,” she cried, her arms stretching towards her, hoping to be saved. Master Unduli had powered down her lightsaber and ran, almost making it there. However, Kaiya was there first, and so she was able to grab Ani and cling to her, like a drowning person would cling to a life raft. She ignited her lightsaber, positioning it so it would cover both her and her padawan.
“No,” she cried, still maintaining her strong grip on her padawan. “She’s mine, not yours, Master Luminara, or anyone else’s for that matter.”
“Master Pollo –” Luminara began, trying to reason with her.
“No, Master Unduli; she is mine, all mine and not yours.” She then began to cackle madly. “My padawan will be nothing to you; she’s everything to me.” Ani kept unnaturally still in her Master’s grip, not going unnoticed by Luminara. She looks so accepting of her fate, she thought, grimacing. How can she be? She has so much potential that to ignore it would be a waste. I wish that her master could just let her go, so we wouldn’t have to kill her to get Ani, but that seems to be the only option.
“Master Pollo, could you please let her go?” she heard Barriss ask. “You are hurting her more than you are hurting us” (except for me, I think, Luminara thought), “and wouldn’t you want to see her happy?”
“She’ll only be happy as long as I’m her Master,” Pollo snarled. Ani relaxed a tad in her Master’s iron grip; the grip lessened as her Master continued talking to the other Masters. If I can get out of her grip and have myself between her and the Masters, then maybe we can get some sense into her kriffin’ head, she thought, suddenly pretending to faint. The ploy worked, as she had hoped, and her Master suddenly released her. In a flash, she was on her feet, in the distance between the Masters and her Master, and held her blue-green lightsaber in her hands, defensive mode.
“Padawan!” Both Master Luminara and Kaiya called her title out; the latter giving the former a glare that could melt Hoth. Luminara didn’t even flinch.
“Master,” came Ani’s steady voice. “If you would only look beyond yourself, then you would see that I need a better master. You are almost totally consumed by the dark side; though I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.” She pulled her self up to her full height, ignoring the pain that ate at her, and saluted her master.
“I’m sorry, but if you think that I’m still staying with you, you’re dead wrong,” she said grimly, doing a form Vaapad salute. “My place is here, and if you dispute with me about that, I will have no choice BUT to fight you.” At that moment, Luminara admired Ani and her bravery. Here she was, ready to fight her master, possibly knowing that after this, she wouldn’t be able to become a Knight unless someone chose her, but she trusted the Force.
/Ani/ she said through their slightly deconstructed bond.
/Huh? Oh, it’s you/ the girl responded back, sadly. /Sorry if I’ve messed up way too much/
/Padawan/ Luminara said firmly. /There’s nothing for you to be sorry for. If we ever live through this, I just wanted you to know that you would’ve been my Padawan. I’m sorry that it’s taken this long for me to admit it, and that I’m such a bantha-brain, but - /
/Master/ Ani said warmly /it’s not your fault. But thank you. If I do die/ Luminara winced at that word /then I just wanted you to know that I think you’re pretty, smart, and I really, really, really like you./
/Thank you, young one/ Silence.
/Okay…the odds are currently not in our favor, right? /
/No, they are not, Ani. Which is why you are going to be guarding my back, not my front/
/But Master - /
/No, Padawan; her main goal is you, and since I don’t want you run through by a lightsaber, then you’re going to guard my back/
“Ah, talking through your new connection, are you?” Kaiya jeered. Luminara gave her a hard stare. “Just remember, Lumi, that I have a connection in Ani’s head also, so I can hear every single word you say.” She lifted her lightsaber into a mock salute, then charged towards Ani. “And since you care so much about my little padawan, then she’ll be the first to die.”
“No,” whispered Luminara, coming between Ani and the charging Kaiya.
“Master,” she heard Ani’s soft voice whisper in her ear. “I believe that I can do something which will hurt her but not fatally. Master Koon helped me to perfect it.” Surprised, Master Luminara said, “Alright, but be careful, young one.”
“Will do, my master,” Ani grinned up at her. Luminara felt herself smile back. It was amazing what this young one could have her do. As Ani stepped out in front of her ‘new’ Master, Luminara lifted her lightsaber to protect her padawan in case her Padawan’s plan failed. Once Kaiya got with a three meter-radius, Ani closed her eyes and concentrated with the Force. Kaiya began to rise off the ground, very obviously against her will as evidenced by the yelling. Uisng the Force, Ani began to turn her round and round, faster and faster. The yelling slowed down until nothing intelligible could be heard. Finally, Ani released it with a ‘pop’ the other Jedi sensed, and Kaiya fell to the ground. She managed to glare at Ani once more before falling unconscious, Barriss moving in quickly to inject her to make sure it lasted for a while. Ani was weak, and began to fall backwards. Fortunately, Luminara was there to catch her.
“I’ve only done it with droids before, nothing and no one else,” Ani replied, catching her breath. “However I did it at a much higher power so she would be made to be unconscious quicker. Sorry,” she added, biting her lip. Luminara gently enveloped her in her arms.
“Young one, it’s okay. You did a great job, and thanks to you, now we have her in custody.” She glanced at the prone form on the floor. “However, I believe that we should get her into a Force-deprivation cell as soon as possible. Can you do that, Master Yoda?”
“Hmmph, yes, do it I can, but something more important there is.” He looked to Luminara. “Master Luminara Unduli, take Ani on as your padawan, will you?” Ani felt a surge of happiness, and quickly clamped down on it.
“Yes, Master Yoda, I accept Ani Laminara as my padawan,” Luminara said, fighting the urge to grin.
“And Youngling Ani Laminara, accept Master Unduli, do you, as your Master?”
“Yes, Master Yoda,” she said, allowing a small grin to flit across her face. “I accept Master Luminara Unduli as my Master.”
“Then bonded you are, now as Master and Padawan.” He waved them to kneel; they did so. “Approve this, the Force does. Approve it, I do.” He looked both of them each straight in the face. “Now, truly Master and Padawan, you both are.”
“Thank you, Master,” they chorused, and stood. Ani swayed slightly, and then stopped herself.
“Padawan, are you okay?” Luminara asked sharply.
“I-I-I’m fine, Master,” she said softly, and then dropped to the ground. Luminara swooped down to catch her just in time.
“Oh, Padawan,” she said softly. She gently carried her out the door, using a sleep-suggestion to keep her newest Padawan in slumber.
“Master Unduli,” Master Yoda called after her. When she turned to him, questions written over her face, he said, “Take her to the healers, you must.” His ears drooped. “For need healing, both physical and mental, she does.” Luminara nodded.
“Yes, Master,” she replied, and went straight out the door. Soon, Masters Fisto and Koon came on in.
“Master Yoda –” they began, surprised, but he cut them off.
“Delay you must not, for take this woman into custody, you must,” Yoda said sharply. Snapping immediately to attention, they went the now-slightly moaning form of Master Pollo, clapped Force-deprivation shackles around both wrists, and proceeded to drag her down towards the cells. Barriss, who was still acting like a bystander, shook herself slightly and started out the door.
“Well, I better be off, for Master Unduli will want me to work on her new padawan, less questions,” she remarked, grinning mischievously. “Will you be coming to see them soon, Master Yoda?”
“Yes, Barriss, I will,” he said nodding. “Alert me, you will, when wakes up she does.” He hobbled away, towards his quarters, while Barriss went off to the Healer’s Ward to start the long process of healing on Ani. He sighed.
The process would be lengthy, for the scars and deep wounds inflicted on her by her former master would not come off easily.
They never did.