“Master Offee?!” Ani exclaimed, using her arms to try and push her away from the faintly smiling Jedi Knight. “I did not expect to see you so soon. Why are you here?” The tattooed Knight sighed and motioned for her to come closer.
“Why am I here? I hoped to get some peace and quiet through meditation,” Barriss said quietly, running her fingers through her short ginger hair. She grinned at the gaping young apprentice. “But, unfortunately when you stumbled on through, emanating pain and misery, my meditation was disrupted.” Concerned, she reached for Ani, who tried to pull back too late. Barriss caught hold of an arm, and gently pulled the struggling padawan close to her. “What’s wrong, Ani?” she asked, brushing the yellow hair out of her pale face. She took in the baggy gray sparring outfit and the hint of desperation and sadness around the girl.
“Nothing.” Ani said, looking away and trying to resist, but Barriss’s grip remained true.
“Ani, I should know what’s happening; I am, after all, a Healer. We also have met at least a couple times, either due to class or working together while on the front lines. Remember the mission around Yavin and its moons?” Reluctantly, Ani nodded. “Tell me why a healthy, normally happy teenager, someone whom I know, would be going into the most secretive room at the dead of night, appearing injured and unhappy. Why, Ani?” Padawan Laminara stared back at her, insolently.
“Why is an esteemed Jedi Knight here? Besides for the meditation, which you could do anywhere, this is pretty secluded. Few know about it.” Barriss sighed.
“Well, it’s also because I wanted to try and solve an argument that I have with my former Master. I wanted more solitude than I felt I had in my quarters.” Ani’s eyes opened wide, obviously in adoration, no matter how hard she’d tried to hide it. Barriss tried hard not to smile. Despite the fact that the Jedi in general tried to dissuade younglings and padawans from hero worship, it still occurred. Barriss had inadvertently discovered it during the mission around Yavin, and having known about her heritage had initially tried to connect the two together before the girl’s master had abruptly left upon mission completion.
“Master Luminara Unduli?” she asked.
“The one and only,” Barriss said, stifling a sigh, turning something metallic over and over in her hands. Surprisingly, she felt the young girl reign in all remaining emotions under incredible shielding, and sit up straighter.
“Tell me about it,” she heard Ani say. Barriss, wondering whether or not this could help her, began to tell her about the argument that was threatening her relationship with her former master.
Two hours ago…
Barriss was looking out, as far as she could see, over the city-planet of Coruscant from one of the balconies there as she half-heard Master Luminara Unduli, one of the greatest swordswomen in the Order, ask her about what she’d do now that she was no longer a Padawan Learner.
“Well,” she said, pausing to sniff at some orchids full in bloom, “I think I’m going to choose a padawan, one of the younglings here. I really liked what I saw in that Teevanian girl, Julii. She’s smart, strong, athletic, and, like all other Teevanians, has flexible arms. She’ll definitely be able to handle the battlefield.” She saw Luminara’s eyes widen, and an eyebrow go up. Oh no, she thought, mentally bracing herself. Here it comes, another stern lecture. Come on, I’m barely a Knight for two days, and she has to give me a lecture?!!!
“Barriss,” her former Master began, “I don’t think that you are quite ready to have a padawan yet. I know you’re a Jedi Knight now, but we still don’t know the full extent of what damage may have been caused by the brain worms. Also, the war is getting worse out there. Maybe you should rethink taking on a padawan so quickly.”
“Luminara,” Barriss resounded, “no disrespect meant here, but I feel the Force guiding me to take a padawan. I feel it…calling me. I must act on my feelings, like you and other Jedi Masters have taught me. I must do this.” Then, on an impulse, she added, “Why don’t you take on another padawan, Master Unduli.” The elder’s eyes glinted dangerously as Barriss, knowing of the danger ahead, continued her banter. “I think you’d pair up well with Ani; you know, the half-Mirialan, half-human girl. I can just sense the Force connecting you two, and – “
“Do not speak of what you do not understand, Barriss,” Luminara said, glaring at her. “I do not want another padawan. I do not care for another padawan. I don’t care if it takes the Council to match me up with one, I will not take on another padawan.” Barriss sighed.
“So even if others sense the Force connecting you two, you still won’t take her?” she asked quietly. She saw Luminara struggle with that thought, and took that as a challenge. “I know that, even though she is half Mirialan, she could still have a Mirialan master,” she responded quietly.
“Half-Mirialans are not bound to our tradition as strongly as we are.”
“She could be, though. It could be beneficial, for you as well as her. As Jedi, we are not bound as strongly to our traditions as other Mirialans are.” In response, Luminara Unduli turned around and stormed on inside the Temple, to her own quarters.
Back to Present
Barriss maintained a smooth mask on her emotions as she concluded the tale, setting one of her hands in front of the padawan. “After she went inside, I tried to apologize to her, and she took it but she said, ‘Let us not revisit the topic of padawans again.’” She sighed. “I don’t know, Ani; what should I do?” She turned to Ani, who stared up at the ceiling.
“For one,” the youngling began as she got up, “I am happy that you are thinking of taking on Julii as your apprentice. She is a close friend of mine. I wish you two the best.” She bent down to pick up the small metallic bottle lying before her. “Secondly, don’t speak of me to her again,” here she went to the edge, pulled back the thorns and peeked out, starting to go on through, “for I already have a master.” She smiled sadly. “Before I go, thanks again for your help in procuring these. I will need all the energy I can muster tomorrow. Tell Ahsoka I wish her well on her upcoming mission with Masters Skywalker and Kenobi.” Before Barriss could call her back, she had disappeared into the darkness. Yes, you may have a master now, but you could have one who is both a master and a parent-figure, she had wanted to say. She sensed Kaiya Pollo was not all as she appeared, and seeing Ani tonight had made her realize she could not afford to ignore her future padawan’s friend again.
She almost felt sorry about providing the girl with energy supplements, but Ahsoka had convinced her that it would be a good idea to provide themselves, along with other padawans at the Temple currently, energy supplements in order for them to continue their almost ridiculous workload. She had heard rumors of the masters deliberating over whether or not to postpone or cancel the Padawan Knowledge Exams, a rigorous test of one’s knowledge from science to politics to culture, as well as language capabilities. She remembered taking those along with Ahsoka, both passing with flying colors. Whether or not they should be postponed or cancelled was not something she cared to think about, especially remembering the late nights-turned-early mornings she had spent with Ahsoka on caffeine-fueled cramming sessions. Regardless of what happened with those tests, Ani still had her regular class schedule with regular sparring sessions with Jedi Masters, strategy and warfare updates with her master that she had to attend, and Force knew what else. While knowing handing out supplements wasn’t the best thing to do, necessarily, more burdens were being placed on the Jedi than before. She could only hope for the best for Ani, Ahsoka, and the others as she now prepared for more responsibilities being sent her way.