Numb, Pain, or Healing?

By Anne Brink

Action / Drama

Visitations

As Luminara Unduli walked into the separate training room, she noticed Ani fighting nine probe droids all at once, slowly but gradually disarming them one by one. Her master and her must have seen some more combat, more than our one mission we were on together, to be set on that level of difficulty. Her defense proved to be spectacular, as well as her deflection skills. Upon finishing them, she returned them to their racks. After that, catching her breath with apparent ease, she did some stretches that Luminara even winced at. Well, Barriss did say that she had a hard master, she thought, continuing to watch Ani work out, but I didn’t even realize the measures, stretches, moves, and levels she was being put to! She is at a higher level than her fellow initiates and padawans. Suddenly, she noticed that Ani was staring at her, all while stretching her legs and back, looking to turn it into the bridge stretch.

“What are you, Master Luminara Unduli, one of the Order’s famed Masters, doing in here?” she asked, her tone heavy with distrust.

“Tonight I have a meeting with your master,” Luminara said formally. She had sensed how close Barriss was to the padawan, and knew that mentioning a meeting with said padawan’s master would garner too much information that she didn’t need. She also preferred meeting the person independent of the baggage rumors and gossip inevitably piled on, as independently as could be expected. “She also asked me to watch your practice… Padawan, are you not done yet?” It was slightly disturbing to see the padawan continue her practice without her master in sight, and without any one else to go against her. That was not what normal younglings – even padawans – did.

“It was the agreement,” Ani said, running up the walls and letting gravity take her back down to the floor. “If I did five-and-a-half hours of practice I could go with my history class to visit Coruscant.”

“Why?”

“I had to.” Strange response. She filed it away to ponder on later.

“You could have cut down on the time.”

“All it would’ve done would be giving me twice as many hours.” Another curious response.

“What hour are you on, currently?” Was she including the previous practice?

“Hour number 4 and-a-half.”

“So…you have one more hour?”

“Yep, I’m used to it so don’t worry.” Her final fall she performed a neat flip and rolled onto the floor. “Besides,” here she stood and looked headlong at Luminara, “you shouldn’t. You’re not my Master.”

“I know that,” Luminara replied stiffly. First Barriss, then this young one. Next thing she knew Yoda would be on her case. Did the Force have it out for her? She watched silently as Ani continued her practice, moving from falls to kicks, from kicks to flips and cartwheels, and finally ending with graceful movements that made up Form III. Luminara considered asking the girl’s master if she could work with her more on that form. She didn’t want a padawan, especially one obviously chosen, but to not help mentor and hone the girl’s talent would be despicable on her part. Soon, Ani was done, and after collecting her things she led the way to her quarters.

“Come on, please hurry up,” she pleaded as they jogged through the corridors, though her face was emotionless, to Luminara. “If I’m late at all, Master’ll kill me!”

What will happen, Padawan?” Kaiya asked with a false pleasantness, meeting her at the now-opened door. Luminara thought she saw Ani swallowed hard before answering, “Nothing, Master. Nothing at all.”

“Exactly, Padawan,” Kaiya continued, opening the door wider so they could go on through. “Now, go prepare dinner while Master Unduli and I talk.” Ani bowed.

“Yes, Master,” she murmured, and quickly strode into the kitchen. Luminara stared after her in amazement.

“Shall we begin, Master Unduli?” Kaiya asked.

“Yes, Knight Pollo,” Luminara replied, as a pair of doors cut the living room off from the rest of the apartment.


The conversation lasted for little over an hour. There was catching up on events after their mission to Yavin, conversing about tactics for future battles, and Pollo’s grudging admission that she could use suggestions from Luminara for a mission the Council was about to assign her. The conversation led then to Kaiya politely inquiring to whether or not Luminara would take another Padawan, and while Luminara was thinking up an answer, a timid beep sounded over the intercom.

“Yes, Padawan, why are we being disturbed?” Kaiya asked, a hint of anger tingeing her voice. Luminara raised an eyebrow at the harsh-sounding question.

“Dinner’s ready, Master,” Ani’s quiet voice barely touched the room, yet Luminara could hear it.

“About time,” Master Pollo grumbled, opening the doors and motioning for Luminara to follow her. She just had to follow her nose (and an irate Master) to the dining room. There, on the table, were two glasses, with a not-so-strong wine (from Corellia, judging by the scent) and some buttered noodles with cheese on them. “One of my favorite dishes,” Kaiya smiled, sitting down in a chair and motioning Luminara to do the same. She noticed that Ani had not set a third place.

“Why – “

“She prefers to eat separately, don’t worry,” Kaiya said, grinning forcibly. All the same, Luminara gently reached out with the Force to probe Ani. All she felt were shields and… there was an undercurrent of extreme fear and pain. Pushing it aside, she concentrated on eating the food set before her, which was surprisingly delicious. Staring ahead, she wondered why Knight Kaiya was acting tense, and why her Padawan, who was usually brimming with brightness and energy, was being timid and afraid.

The answers would come soon enough, she decided, and kept on eating.


“Well, Master Luminara, it’s time to part. Thank you for your suggestions; I will look forward to using them on our upcoming mission,” Kaiya said, after dessert had been served and dishes had been done. Luminara was standing at the doorway, smiling slightly.

“It was a great visit I had, Master Pollo,” she bowed. She noticed Ani standing hesitantly behind her master, and gave the girl a little smile. “Thank you for the dinner. It was most delicious.”

“You’re welcome,” Ani said, braving the, however slight, evil eye her master gave her. She disappeared after saying that, probably hiding from her master, Luminara surmised. The Knight appeared to have some anger issues. She would consider recommending her to the Mind Healers for examination. With a war on, there was more need than before for Jedi to be mentally whole, and leave was as good of a time to get it. However, given that Jedi tended to be extremely stubborn, she would be unsuccessful with any direct suggestion. Kaiya and she bowed to each other.

“I will talk to you later, Master Unduli, if I have any further questions,” Kaiya said formally.

“Goodbye, Knight Pollo,” Luminara returned formally. “Thank you again for the dinner and conversation. I have much to consider.” She went down the hall, wondering why she felt so uneasy. She dismissed the feeling, thinking that it would go away.

It didn’t.


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