The corridor wound before her in a seemingly endless line, which sported such riches that she knew the like to be comparable only to a senator’s apartments. However, she wasn’t interested with them, but in which direction the long hall winded to. No matter how far she might run though, it appeared that she wasn’t going anywhere. The same section was always before her, so that she soon wondered if she was making any progress at all.
In despair, she looked down. The ornately designed floor seemed to grin wickedly back at her, the designs slithering and twisting around to show the cruel face of someone she knew all too well. It seemed to revel in her open display of weakness. Also, the walls mocked her by running on either side in a seemingly endless line. Suddenly, she sensed her. She knew all too well that, if she was caught, she would be tortured as long as she was conscious, and too often was she made to be conscious by the use of drugs if she even appeared to be slipping away.
“No,” she whispered, starting to run towards the opposite end of the hallway. If she could possibly find a door somewhere, anywhere, she could get out of this rat trap and start finding her master. However, a blank wall appeared in front of her. Before she could stop, she felt herself hurling towards it at full speed. Hitting the wall sideways, she heard bone crack, and knew her ribs had, at the least, fractured, if not completely broken.
Good thing I have a few left still attached, she thought, wincing as she hit the floor. Hearing a cackle, she looked up, and was shell-shocked. There, standing before her, was her nemesis, not just hers but also the one of all living Jedi. She had been found. After taking a deep breath in she stood, but not before she was hit in the stomach with a ceramic pot, causing her insides to feel like they were just set on fire. Biting back a scream, she ignited her lightsaber and held it in front of her trembling body.
“Why are you here?” she asked hoarsely, holding her stomach with the unoccupied hand. The assassin didn’t reply; she merely stood there, holding her hand out to restrict the air intake. Choking, she slid down to the floor, letting go of her lightsaber at the same time; blackness overcoming her vision. Before passing out, she heard the other say what she feared the most; moreover, what she, in her despair, thought to be true.
“You are a failure, unworthy of even being a Jedi. And now, because you have failed, you will die, and your master will never notice. Neither will she care, because it is your fault that she’s in pain.” Your fault…your fault…your fault…The chant continued on as she pitched forwards and collapsed on the ground. It’s your fault… your fault…your fault…your fault…your fault…
“Aiiieeeauuuhhh!” Ani woke up with a scream, but quickly cut it off once she found out where she was. She was in her shared quarters at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and she shared them because she had been chosen as a padawan. Padawan… Speaking of which, as she rubbed her knuckles against her forehead, she remembered suddenly that, if she could find the tiny object she had used before for this, the dreams would stop…for that night, at least. Quickly, she set aside the covers, got up and went to the refresher both she and her master shared as quietly as she could.
No sense disturbing my master out of her sleep, Ani reasoned to herself as she stayed in the shadows outside the refresher, gently probing the corners in the tiny room with the Force to make sure no one was in there. ‘Sides, it’s not like I’m doing anything wrong, per se. She started to creep across the tiled floor, towards the sink and the shiny, metallic cupboard above that. It’s just a tiny, little thing my former master made me take whenever I had these nightmarish dreams; good thing I was able to put them in here without incident. Don’t know if Master would approve of them. She thought for a moment. Meh, probably not.
“What’s ‘probably not?’” She spun around, just as she was almost close enough to wave open the cabinet. There, in the moonlit doorway, stood Master Luminara. The Jedi Master, in her black, sleeveless top with form-fitting pants, waved the lights on, seemingly oblivious to her padawan’s sharp look.
“Master.” Ani dipped her head in acknowledgement. “What are you doing up?” Her master merely shrugged.
“Couldn’t sleep,” she replied. “As I walked out of my quarters, I sensed someone in here; that’s why I came in.” She raised an eyebrow. “Why are you up, Padawan?” Ani shrugged, trying to act nonchalant.
“Same reason.” She continued her course to the cupboard over the sink, trying to ignore her master’s curious gaze. She knew that if she even looked once at her master, she would lose her composure. All she needed to do was get close enough to open it.
“Forgive me, but usually people, when they can’t sleep, go out to see the moonlight, sit on something comfy, or meditate,” Luminara commented wryly. “Why are you in here?”
Because if I go out to look at the moon, I’ll remember, Ani thought grimly. Not just the dream, but…everything. Everything from birth on. And I can’t afford to start remembering, especially not now. “I…um, I’m just…looking for something.” Don’t look at her, you’ll blurt it out. Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, don’t look…
“Really? Perhaps I can help you find it.” Oh no, please don’t, Master. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t –
“Well, um, I think I can find it on my own, no problem.” Sensing the look on her master’s face, she quickly followed up with, “But thanks anyways, Master.”
“Padawan.” That word did more than anything else said could have. Ani froze, stiff as a board, waiting for words of condemnation, hate, disgust, or whatever nastiness her master might feel. After all, she deserved them. Not saying what she needed had gotten her in a ton of trouble with her former master, so why shouldn’t her new master do the same? Besides, Master Pollo did the same to me, she thought, so why shouldn’t Master Unduli do the same? But the harsh words didn’t come. Instead, Luminara looked compassionately at her padawan, wondering if she should keep asking. After all, this new padawan of hers was tough in spirit, but could break like glass if prodded in the wrong places too often.
“My dear, what are you looking for?” she inquired once again. Ani sighed and reluctantly turned around.
“A metallic medication bottle,” she replied, turning back fast as lightning to open the cabinet and start her search.
“What for?” Luminara was confused. As far as she knew, her padawan didn’t need any medications, and she hadn’t gotten any from her short stay at the healers’. Unless…
“Padawan, are you looking for…” She racked her brain for an answer, and finally got one. “…sleeping pills?”
“Yep.” Ani didn’t sound sorry, nor did she feel she should be. After all, they were a part of her life, and they were a great help. So what if others say that it’s wrong to take them, she asked herself. They help me and don’t hurt me, and my former master had me take them, with approval from the healers no less. Therefore, it can’t be wrong for me to use them.
“Why?” Ani blinked in surprise. Of all the things she’d expected her master to say that was the least of them, not to mention the most unexpected.
“Why do you take the pills?” Luminara was determined to understand her padawan, and in order for her to do that, she sensed she should keep asking.
“Because…” Ani stopped. Should I go on and lose my composure, or should I clam up? Again, she had to ask herself the important question Master Yoda had told her when she had woken up: Would it help or hinder the relationship I have with my master, or in any way hurt me in the long run? That had been before her master had come from the Council to pick her up. Silence filled her ears as she bit her black lip, making her decision and worrying over it, only delaying. “Because my…former master,” Man, how it was hard for her to even say that much. “She made me,” breathe, “made me take them…whenever I had dreams and happened to disturb her sleep. Dreams turned into nightmares, and I kept taking them.”
Luminara was shocked. Her padawan was addicted to sleeping pills, introduced by her former sithspawned (pardon my language, she thought) master, and to top it all off, she had been having dreams.
“How long have you been having these dreams?” she asked. Her padawan eyed her warily before answering. “Ever since I turned ten standard years old.”
So it’s been going on a while, Luminara mused. No wonder she looks older than her years. That, and being abused has both taken their toll on her. She’s so young, and yet so old. I will help you through this, my little one. No matter what happens, I will be with you.
“Little one.” Startled by being called that name, Ani whirled around yet again, the medication bottle now in one hand and several sleeping pills in the other. Luminara stifled another sigh. At least she responded, she told herself. “Little one,” she repeated, “please give me those pills.” Ani complied. “With the bottle.” This time, Ani had to force herself to comply with her master’s wishes, which did not go unnoticed by Luminara.
Once the pills (and bottle) were safely in her possession, she quickly disposed of them by walking over to a chute in the wall outside the ‘fresher, which led to an incinerator and recycler below their rooms. She then came back to take her padawan by the hand and lead her out to the main room, and to the couch which was parked against the far wall, nearest the door. Once they sat down, only then did she turn to get a good look at her padawan, and was shocked to see tear tracks running down her face.
“My little one, why are you crying?” she asked, folding Ani in her arms. The teen-aged girl sat limply, head bowed as if she was ashamed to say anything. Maybe she’s afraid to say anything, Luminara mused. Knowing that, if she does, she could be punished for it. She grasped the girl by her shoulders and shook her, ever so slightly.
“My padawan, do not be afraid to come to me if you are troubled by something, whether face-to-face or by our bond. I will not hurt you for concerns, visions, or anything else. Now, please tell me, what did you dream?”
Ani looked up, and saw nothing resembling her former master. The eyes shown with kindness, the face radiating warmth, and the arms that were wrapped around her with protection. She knew right then that she was really starting over. Sure, she had known it before, but now it was more ingrained, more believed. She was not going to be abused again. She was where she belonged. She was home. Now she knew what she should do, and swallowed hard to gather up the remnants of her courage so as to strengthen her resolve and fight the past.
“I…” she faltered. She stopped herself, breathed in, and continued. “I dreamed that…I was in a long corridor, one that you find in palaces for senators or kings. However, this one seemed to go nowhere, and on top of that, the walls and floor seemed to be…alive.”
As Luminara listened to her padawan’s tale, part of her was dubious. It scoffed at the possibility that this dream could even possibly be real. However, a larger part knew all too well that dreams could often foretell future events, no matter how far away. She knew that she should listen to this, as she sensed it would be fulfilled, though how soon she did not know.
Once Ani finished, she hung her head and remained silent. To break the frost from settling over her padawan, Luminara hugged her again, this time more tightly.
“My little one,” she said softly. “Look at me.” Ani did so, hesitantly, and her head tilted up, with the help of one of her master’s hands. She immediately clung to her master, not letting go, and giving her one of her fiercest hugs. Luminara smiled, and touched their bond. Immediately, it opened (she suspected it had been blocked, perhaps unintentionally, at her padawan’s end), and she could hear her padawan “talk”, so to speak.
/Little one, are you listening?/ she called out, and was immediately rewarded with a stiff-at-attention acknowledgment.
/Yes, Master/ Efficient, Luminara thought wryly. At least she’s not saluting.
/Padawan, are you afraid?/ Hesitation was evident, as it took at least a couple standard minutes for the young one to respond.
/Nope/ Ani felt herself respond with waaaaaaay more confidence than what she felt at that moment.
/Padawan, please tell me the truth/ Luminara knew that her padawan was trying to be braver than she actually was, and sympathized with her. Having dreams or visions often made you unsure of the future. Especially for the younger ones, Luminara thought, shifting for a more secure position on the couch.
/Okay, maybe I’m just a teeny bit worried/ Ani admitted, adjusting herself as well.
/Worried, not scared, Master/ The girl acted indignant. /Little kids are scared and act it. Us bigger ones aren’t supposed to be, and we are good enough to hide it/
/Not from me, my little one/ Ani looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at the amused expression on her master’s face. /I’m your master, I simply can’t ignore your feelings or disregard them, but rather help you through them. Besides, hearing you think is quite…interesting to say the least/
/You mean funny/ Ani corrected.
/No…interesting/ Luminara was adamant, no doubt about that.
/Funny/ Ani gave her master a thought-nudge. /And if I have any clue about you, Master, it’s that you’re trying not to laugh and show me that you think my thinking is funny/
/Perhaps, Padawan of mine, perhaps. I think that you’re overreacting, however/ She let her young one know she was joking by tingeing the thought with humor. Fortunately, her padawan caught on, and bantered back.
“Master!” she cried out loud, folding her arms over her chest. “Me? Overreact? Never!” Luminara snorted, which caused the teen to snort and shake with mirth. Finding that she liked how her padawan laughed, she made a face which caused her padawan to nearly fall to the floor. Finally, they both calmed down, and sat together on the couch, padawan enfolded in her master’s arms.
“Ready to sleep again?” Ani hesitated, and nodded, eyes downcast. “I’ll stay with you, if you like.”
“Really?” She looked to her master for confirmation, and was not disappointed.
“Really. Now let’s go.”
“Thanks, Master.” She gave Luminara a huge smile, and bounded off to her room. Her master followed, quite enjoying this.
As she lay in bed, Ani thought over what had just happened. She knew now that things would be different, and she was glad for that. Most of all, she was thankful that this new, awesome master was not like her former one. I can sense the change, she thought, snuggling underneath the covers. I will be able to start over, and my master’s going to help me. Thanks to the Force and Master Yoda, I’m free from my former master. With my new master, maybe I’ll be able to become free of the past.
Master Luminara watched her new padawan sleep, holding her hand. She looks so young when she sleeps, she thought, brushing away strands of her long, yellow hair. She also needs more care, as she has more ghosts from the past haunting her that need to be stopped. Strange, she mused, that I’m so attached to her, and it’s barely two days into our relationship. With Barriss, it took a little longer, but her… Perhaps it’s because she needs more attention, what with her past and all.
Sleep on, my padawan, Luminara thought, not letting go of her hand. I will be here for you, no matter what. We will fight the scars and memories together, you and I. I’ve sworn to do that, and I refuse to back down. I will be here to listen, whatever may come our way.
Because that’s what a master does for her padawan.