The Lost Padawan
The Lost Padawan
Surviving Order 66
Through the windows of the Jedi Temple, Xyla Jakhiin could see the sky of Coruscant showing the dim of the approaching sunset. She had been practicing her lightsaber techniques for most of the day, under Master Cin Drallig's instruction. She was only a young Padawan, 11 years old. She often sat like this after a long day of training, even though she should have been meditating. Her skill with a lightsaber was impressive for her age. Even Master Drallig, who was known as the Troll by most of the other Padawans, had repeatedly stated that he was impressed by her affinity for combat. Many of the other Masters who taught in the temple had remarked that she had the potential to rival even the greatest of the Jedi Knights among the order. The only thing holding her back was her inability to control her emotions. She often let her temper get the best of her, and it was affecting her abilities with the Force. She was occasionally prone to sudden surges of unbelievable power, but they would quickly subside and leave her exhausted.
She sat in an awkward, yet comfortable position on the window sill, absently playing with the end of her left lekku. Her red skin, usually vibrant and bright was somewhat pale and covered in a sweaty sheen. Taking a deep breath, she ignored an uneasy feeling in her stomach and stood up. After a quick stretch, she moved towards her robe, which she had casually thrown over the back of a chair. As she leaned over to pick it up, she suddenly found that she could no longer ignore that feeling in her gut. She'd felt it for about 20 minutes, but she'd had another episode during her training. Her frustrations had gotten the better of her, and she lashed out at Master Drallig. It wasn't his fault, but he had taken the brunt of it regardless. Nevertheless, it wasn't the first time she'd done this, and certainly wouldn't be the last. She had developed a reputation for being bad tempered; earning her the unpleasant nickname "Darth Xyla" amongst some of the more cruel Padawans.
The feeling had grown so much that
she was frozen in place, still half-reaching for her robe. If there was ever a
time to pay attention to what the Masters were trying to teach her, it was now,
she thought to herself. She calmed her mind and listened intently. She was in
the far end of the temple, so it would normally be quiet at this time of the
day. This was still true, for the most part. There was someone walking down the
hallway, but that wasn't unusual. Probably one of the other Padawans. It wasn't
until the alarms started to sound that she realised she had been ignoring the
intuition all Jedi should rely on. The alarm meant that the temple was under
attack, and standard practice for this was for the Padawans and younglings to
find safety and remain hidden until a Master found them. Most of the younglings
would have made their way into the Council chamber, but Xyla was much too far
away to follow. She rushed out into the hallway, and found a small group of her
fellow Padawans rushing towards her.
"Jaylen?" She called out. A human male, about the same age as she was.
"Xyla! We're under attack!" He answered in a panicky tone.
"Attack? We're in the core! Who the kriff is attacking us!?" She demanded. She often cursed like this when she was frustrated.
"I don't know, but the Masters have told us to hide, so come on!" Jaylen said, dragging her by her arm. She followed, though she had little choice with Jaylen leading her like this. They found their way quickly into one of the meditation chambers, and Jaylen punched the console once they were all in. The door slammed down behind them, and they all grouped together at the far end of the room, crouching down. There were a number of small chairs with wide seats in the room, all designed to allow comfortable meditation. Xyla performed a quick head count. There were 7 Padawans, including Jaylen and herself.
"Do any of you know what's happening?" She asked. Most of them shook their heads.
"I heard the Sith have come for us." Said one of them, a young Nautolan girl. Her dark eyes were wide with fear.
"We shouldn't jump to conclusions until a Master comes." Jaylen said. He wasn't really as wise as he was trying to sound, so these were probably the words of one of the older Jedi. Xyla didn't bother to argue, as it would only incite unnecessary panic.
The group had only been hidden for a few minutes when they started to hear blaster fire. Xyla wondered if the Sith rumour was true. If it was, then they would have brought battledroids with them. Along with the sound of blasters, Xyla could make out the low humming of lightsabers being used. She hoped they belonged to a Master, or at least a Knight. Many of the Padawans weren't experienced enough to take on a group of battledroids. The younger members of the group started to panic with fear, so Jaylen tried to comfort them. This wasn't helped when they started hearing screams of those being killed.
"That sounded like clones." Said the Nautolan girl. Xyla was sure she was right. The firing stopped, and she listened carefully. There was a lot of noise from other areas of the temple, but Xyla focused her senses.
"There will still be more Jedi in here. Find them, and dispose of them." Said a clone voice. Dispose of them? That couldn't have been right, she thought. The clones were soldiers of the Republic: They helped Jedi, worked with them. There was a tapping on the door, causing some of the group to gasp. Xyla felt the grip of fear within her.
"Open up in there!" A clone voice said in a harsh way. Jaylen put his finger to his mouth, instructing the others to remain quiet.
"Anything?" Said another clone.
"No, but it's locked from the inside. There's definitely someone in there."
"Buster, open that door. Use a thermal detonator if you have to." Ordered one of the clones. It was difficult to tell how many clones there were, as they all had the same voice.
"Get behind the chairs!" Xyla ordered in a whisper. She was inexperienced, but she knew how thermal detonators worked. They all quickly moved so that the meditation chairs could shield them from the inevitable blast. There was a beeping on the other side of the door, and Xyla knew they were in trouble. Jaylen encouraged them all to plug their ears with the fingers.
The blast was very loud, spewing parts of the door all around the room. Hiding behind the chairs was a very good idea, as much of the debris had flown at great speed in all directions. Xyla unplugged her ears, though the sound had been deafening still. Peeking out from her hiding place, she spotted a dozen clones. Each of them held a large blaster rifle, which was held up in an aggressive manner. The Nautolan girl poked her head out, though a little too far. Each of the clones pointed their weapons right at her, discharging them without predjudice.
"What are you doing? You're on our side!" Demanded a young boy, who had made the mistake of standing up. The clones didn't even dignify him with an answer. Instead they just fired at him also. None of this made sense. Why were the clones killing Padawans? Xyla's mind was racing. A couple more of the Padawans panicked, attempting to flee for the door. They didn't even cover half the room before the clones gunned them down as well. Within seconds, there were only Xyla and Jaylen left. The others lay on the floor, slaughtered in cold blood. Jaylen gave Xyla a look, and glanced at the door briefly. She knew what he meant. He emerged from behind the chair, and rushed one of the clones. The soldiers prepared to fire, but he threw out a wave of the Force, deflecting the weapons before they could be fired. He threw another wave at the nearest of the clones, slamming him against the wall. Xyla took her chance, and launched a Force wave of her own at another of the clones. She wished she had a lightsaber with her, but Padawans who had not been taken as an Apprentice weren't allowed their own personal weapons. Xyla was about to use the Force again, but the other clones had already taken aim. They gunned Jaylen down, and began firing at Xyla. Predicting the attack, she rolled to the right and dove behind another chair. She felt an urge develop within her. It was the same thing she got whenever she was about to lose her temper and explode with raw Force power. She tried to control herself, as anger would not help her. The clones maneuvered around the chair carefully, wary of any more Force techniques. As Xyla's urge built, she tried in vain to suppress it. She was breathing heavily, and struggling to concentrate. She hadn't even thought of a way to get out of this mess.
Finally, the urge became uncontrollable, like an itch that you couldn't help but scratch. She gave herself over to the Force, and rose to her feet. She was facing the clones, and they had their rifles trained on her. Her eyes saw everything in slow motion. The way the troopers were stood and held their weapons, how they moved their feet farther apart anticipating an attack, everything. She threw both of her arms out in front of her body, and summoned a well of pure Force. Before the clones could pull the triggers, they were drawn into this well, slammed into one another with incredible force. They huffed and wheezed loudly with the impact. Xyla still felt the energy inside her, willing itself to come out. Her rage took over, and she screamed loudly as the power of her Force well reached its peak. She trembled violently as she flung the defeated clones in all directions, smashing them into the walls hard enough to shatter bones. She overdid it, causing the walls to dent and the windows to shatter along with the clones' bodies. As she came back to her senses, the clones fell to the floor, along with some debris and the Padawan corpses that had apparently also been caught up in the Force well. She then followed, collapsing to her hands and knees, exhausted. She felt as though she would pass out.
"Don't give in yet." Said a familiar male voice. She looked up and scanned the room with her eyes, unsure of who might still be there.
"Who is that?" She muttered, barely able to speak. Her throat was raw from screaming.
"There will be more clones soon, you must hide." He said. She knew the voice, but from where? She knew that he was right. Looking around the room, she found nothing that would serve as a hiding place. Meditation chambers were designed to provide as few distractions as possible. She felt a cold breeze on her face, which made her aware of the shattered window. She knew that would be her only hiding place now. Forcing herself to stand up, she moved towards the corner of the window frame. The air was very cold, given how high up she was. Gingerly, she climbed out onto the very narrow ledge on the outside wall of the temple. Being very careful not to fall, she shuffled her way along until she would no longer be within view of anyone in the room. She became very conscious of how heavily she was breathing, so she drew upon a calming exercise she had learned as a youngling and calmed herself down. She heard footfalls in the meditation chamber, and a clone voice spoke.
"What happened in here?" He said.
"Beats me. Looks like whatever it was has killed them all, clones and Jedi alike." Another one answered.
"We should move on. Lord Vader wants us to clear this floor quickly." Said the first clone. At least, she assumed it was the first one.
She remained on the ledge for a very long time, until she was freezing to her very core. As the urge to sleep set in, she knew she would have to find her way out of the temple. She focused her senses, listening for any signs of more clones. She heard nothing, but remained skeptical.
"It should be safe now." Said the male voice from before. She still didn't know why she knew the voice, and it was beginning to annoy her. "Control your emotions, Xyla." He continued. She'd heard that before, from many of the Masters in the temple. But the way it rolled off the tongue of this voice reminded her of one in particular.
"Master Drallig?" She said her voice still weak. She wondered where he was hiding, and why he didn't help them when the clones began killing her friends.
one. You won't get many chances like this." Drallig said. Xyla quickly
fumbled her way back along the ledge, and back into what remained of the
meditation chamber. She crouched down for a moment, just underneath the
destroyed window. Her arms and legs were almost numb, filled with pain from the
cold. Xyla drew on the Force to help ease the discomfort, and then rose to her
feet. She took in the damage she had wrought, for just a moment. She knew her
powers with the Force were strong, but she had never seen them do so much at
once. Quietly, she moved towards the doorway. A quick glance into the hallway
showed her the bodies of several clones and Jedi, from youngling up to Master.
A deep sadness filled her, seeing people she had grown up with lying dead on
the floor around her, but she shook it off. She didn't have time to dwell on it
right now, which meant she would need to meditate later. She was already
exhausted from skipping her meditation after her training. She stepped out into
the hallway, still remaining as quiet as possible. She turned towards the
right, but stopped at Master Drallig's voice.
"No, Xyla. Go the other way." He said. It would be bad to argue now, she thought to herself. He was a Master, after all. She spun on the ball of her left foot, and began walking. She passed a number of rooms, stopping at the one she was sat in when the trouble began. Xyla realised that she'd left her robe in her haste to find out what the commotion was, so she walked in and grabbed it.
Jedi robes were much warmer than they appeared to be, but she didn't waste time enjoying the feeling. She left the room, and continued in the direction Master Drallig had instructed her to follow. After a few minutes of walking, she realised that she was heading into the area where supplies were kept.
"Wait here a moment." Drallig said. His pleasant tone was slightly unnerving to Xyla. She still had no idea where he was. There were ways to conceal yourself with the force, but why would he do this in her presence? She was hardly a threat to him, and he was much too powerful to be beaten by a handful of mere clone troops.
"Master?" Xyla said, in a low tone. Her throat still ached, but was feeling a little better.
"Xyla, go into the room on your left. There will be some things there that you will need." Instructed Drallig. She had the impression that he wasn't willing to talk openly yet, so she obeyed. Once in the room, she saw a number of cabinets and benches. It looked like a storage locker. Her eyes widened, and her stomach growled longingly. Her excessive use of the Force had drained her, and that always left her hungry.
"Have a drink and something to eat, but do it quickly." Drallig stated. As a Jedi Master, he knew the importance of keeping your energy reserves up. She opened one of the cabinets, and found a ration bar and protein supplement. She quickly ate them both, and began searching through the other cabinets. She eventually found a small flask of water, and took a long drink from it. When her thirst was sated, she stored the half-emptied flask in one of the pockets in her robe, and grabbed another Ration Bar. She placed this in another pocket, and left the room.
"Which way, Master?" She said quietly.
"Carry on in the direction you were heading." He said. Once more she followed instruction. As she walked, Xyla's legs groaned against the movement angrily. Her time in the cold had left her weakened, but she struggled onwards.
"Stop here." Drallig said. "There is an office just ahead. Inside there should be some lockboxes, some of which will contain credits." He added.
"Credits?" Xyla said, confused. "Why do I need credits?" She asked. She had no idea what purpose they could serve at this point. She was always taught that Jedi had no need for material possessions, which included the acquisition of money.
"Think, young one. You can no longer remain on Coruscant." Explained Master Drallig. Realisation dawned on her.
"I need to get offworld." She stated.
"More than that, you need to leave the Galactic Core. It is not safe in the Republic for Jedi now." He added. She nodded, and then walked towards the office.
As Drallig had predicted, there were a number of lockboxes held in the office. She searched through them and found some credits and other trinkets, presumably from some of the older initiates to the Order. There weren't many credits, but it should be enough to barter passage on a ship, depending on who the owner was.
"That's all there is, I think." Xyla said when she had finished searching.
"Very well. It is time to leave, but you cannot use the main entrance. Use one of the secret passages." Drallig explained. Xyla's eyes widened. All Padawans knew of the existence of the secret passageways in and out of the temple, but the Masters didn't approve of this knowledge. Their locations were kept as secret as was possible. Almost every Padawan had found at least one of them, and some of the more adventurous ones had searched for a number more. Xyla knew of one for certain, and it was within reasonably easy reach of her current location. She headed in the direction of one of the nearby elevators. When she arrived, she was about to instinctively push the button to call the elevator, but she stopped herself. She realised that the clones and this Lord Vader would probably be made aware of her presence if she did. Reaching out with the Force, she gently forced the door open. The metal creaked and groaned against her will, but her determination had won out. She climbed into the elevator shaft, and found her way to the service ladder. As she made her way down, rung by rung, her arms and legs protested further against the movements. She held back the urge to yell out, and continued to climb downwards. She made it to the ground floor before she encountered the elevator. This wasn't where she wanted to be, but it was closer than she had expected to get. The clones must have used it after they had raided the temple. She could see the service hatch on the top of the elevator carriage, so she stepped off the ladder, and moved towards it. Very carefully, she disconnected the clamps that held it in place, and lifted it out from its frame. She poked her head through the hole, and scanned the carriage for any clones. Part of her feared seeing Lord Vader, but she didn't even know who that was or what they looked like. She shook this from her mind, assuming it was simply an errant thought. She noted that the door had been neglected, and was still open. The last of the clones had apparently ignored it. Either that or it had been left open on purpose. Nevertheless, this was the only way down, so she lowered herself tentatively onto the carriage floor. She froze for a moment, waiting for any signs of a trap being sprung. When nothing happened, she moved out of the elevator and headed down a hallway to the left. She kept herself to a low crouch as she moved, and tried to be as light-footed as possible.
After a short time, she came to the entrance of one of the assembly halls. What she saw inside made her freeze on the spot. There were dozens of clones inside, each of them armed. They all had their backs to her, from the looks of it, so she quickly backtracked and hid behind a nearby wall.
"We've got a live one!" She heard a clone voice saying, but not from the assembly hall. She glanced behind her, where she saw a group of 3 clones, each raising their weapons to aim at her. She knew their voices would have drawn the attention of the clones in the hall, and even if she could somehow repeat her earlier show of strength, she would not be able to stop them all.
"Run, Padawan!" Said Drallig's voice loudly. Drawing on as much of the Force as she was able, she sprinted quickly along the hallway, past the assembly hall. She briefly caught sight of the clones preparing to fire at her, and narrowly avoided a cascade of blaster fire aimed at her. Ahead of her, she spotted a small ventilation duct. The clones would be too large to fit inside, but she was still relatively young. She was confident that she would be able to get inside it. She had put a little distance between the clones and herself, so she slowed down and drew on the Force again. Using nothing more than pure will, she wrenched the covering from the duct and flung it across the room. As she came close to the duct, she slowed almost to a stop, so that she could be certain that she could enter it in one attempt. She leapt forwards, but as she reached into the small opening, she suddenly felt an excruciating burning in her right leg. She fell awkwardly down the ventilation shaft, screaming in agony. The shaft was completely vertical at first, but then it seemed to curve backwards. Xyla began rolling down the now angled ventilation shaft, and eventually slammed through another duct. Her landing was not what she would have hoped. She took most the impact on her shoulders, leaving the left one feeling as though it were dislocated. The pain forced her to cry out loudly. Forcing her body to move, she rolled over so that she was on her back. She carefully reached across her chest with her right hand to check her injured shoulder. One touch was enough to tell her that it was definitely dislocated. She attempted to stand, but her right leg gave out with the weight. The blaster bolt had hit her in the thigh, but it didn't appear to have caused any lasting damage. It was mostly pain that had hindered her attempt to stand up.
For a few moments, she lay there on the floor, trying to gather the courage to face the pain in her leg again. She would draw on the Force to ease it, but she was exhausted from escaping the clones. Gritting her teeth, Xyla forced herself to her feet. Her leg burned and continued to protest, but she managed to stand up. She then realised that she would need to relocate her shoulder. She braced herself against a wall, settling her nerves with a small breathing exercise taught to all aspiring Jedi. With one swift motion, she spun on her right heel and slammed the injured shoulder into the solid permacrete wall. A loud crunching sound informed her that she had managed to force the bone back into its natural position, but she yelped loudly and felt very sick. The pain was so sharp it brought tears to her dark eyes.
"Xyla, you should eat something." She heard Master Drallig's voice saying. She remembered that she had placed a Ration Bar in her pocket. As she reached for it, she quickly checked to make sure the credits were still there after the fall. Unfortunately, they had escaped. She would need to find another way to barter passage offworld now. Once she had eaten the Ration Bar, she looked around the area she had landed in. This is definitely the basement area, she thought to herself. It was dark and quiet, but she was certain she could get her bearings. She'd been down here before on a number of occasions. She shuffled through a few passages and rooms, following the will of the Force. She wasn't as attuned as she should have been at her age, but she could still listen to what it was telling her. Eventually, she was guided to a large room filled with a multitude of devices and containers that were rarely, if ever used by the Order anymore. This was exactly where Xyla wanted to be. The secret passage she had found was hidden behind a false container, and responded only to a certain code. She moved towards the container and leaned against it. She typed the code in with her right hand. It was awkward for her as she was left-handed, but her recently relocated shoulder still hurt too much for her to use that hand. With a loud screeching sound, the large container opened and revealed a doorway. She ambled through the doorway and on into the extremely narrow passage.
It took her about 15 minutes, but she finally made it into the light of the outdoors. After being in the dark for a while, the brightness burned her eyes. She raised her right arm to shield herself from it, and continued to walk along the path ahead of her.
"You must find a speeder, Padawan." Drallig told her. She stopped, and leaned against a railing.
"Enough, Master. Where are you?" Xyla said, frustrated. At first, he said nothing. But then his image slowly manifested in front of her, transparent and blue. Xyla's mouth fell agape.
"I felt your outburst with the clones shortly before I was slain." He explained. A single tear rolled down her cheek, and she suddenly realised why he always seemed so calm.
"Master... I..." She stuttered, but he raised a spectral hand to quiet her.
"Do not grieve for me, I am at peace." He said with a smile.
"But you have denied the will of the Force!" She accused.
"Yes, but only because I must. The Order is in ruin, and we will need all the Jedi that are available." He said, still retaining his calm tone.
"I'm just a Padawan! What use could I be?" She demanded.
"We were all Padawans once. Yoda, Windu and myself included. We all suffered the impulses of youth, and the feelings of insignificance." Drallig explained.
"That doesn't tell me what I can do." She uttered, too exhausted to remain angry or upset.
"Right now, you can do nothing to help." He continued, but not unkindly. "But if you complete your training, you could be instrumental in the restoration of the Jedi. You have always been strong willed and quick to anger, but I must ask you to have patience now. You have the potential to become a great Jedi." Drallig explained. His voice was oddly relaxing. Xyla hung her head for a moment, catching her breath. Her lekku fell down to the sides of her head, hanging down before her face. Allowing calm to fill her, she stood up straight and brushed the lekku behind her.
"I trust you." She said, plainly. "What should I do?"
"I must ask you to do something underhanded, but it is for the greater good." Drallig said apologetically.
"What is it, Master?" Xyla wondered. She hoped it wasn't going to be something too awful.
"You must steal a speeder from someone." He said. On Coruscant, it was almost impossible to not find a speeder, especially if you intended to steal it.
"But stealing is wrong!" She said.
"Yes it is. But you must do this to survive. A missing speeder is unlikely to be any more than a minor nuisance to the owner." Drallig explained.
"Very well, but I do this under protest." She answered. Drallig developed an uncharacteristically proud look on his transparent face. Apparently, her hesitation was good. After a moment, Drallig's spectral form faded, but Xyla still felt his presence. She decided to move on.
After much walking, she found her way into a small communal square, where she was relieved to discover someone sat next to a speeder. It was a sleek model with red bodywork, but fairly common on this world. Unfortunately, it seemed to be his speeder.
"This could prove problematic." She complained.
"Reach out with the Force. You can tug at his thoughts, and influence his mind." Drallig said. She walked towards the man with the speeder. He was human, and his clothing suggested he had a reasonable amount of credits to his name. His face betrayed signs of stress: Dried sweat and forehead creases. There was also a red mark on his left cheek, implying that he spent a lot of time resting on his hand. Perhaps while sat at a desk. She had studied force persuasion to a degree and knew the dynamics behind it. It was generally frowned upon by older Jedi, but drastic times called for drastic measures. She reached out with the Force, searching his mind for signs of weakness that she could exploit to bend him to her will.
"What is it, kid?" He said, angrily. He seemed jumpy, almost paranoid. Perhaps he was not meant to be here at this time. Xyla simply waved her hand from one side to the other, so that it was just within his field of vision. A technique to draw the target's attention, and provide an opening for the influence of the Force.
"You have seen nothing. You will give me your speeder, and forget this happened." She said in a monotonous tone. He said nothing, simply stood there with a blank expression. She hesitated for a second, noticing the man’s pupils had dilated.
"Go, young one! The speeder!" Drallig encouraged. Xyla hadn't even realised that it had worked. She thought he would repeat what she had said, but the man just stood there, completely dazed. She climbed into the speeder, and turned on the ignition. The whirring of the engines didn't seem to provoke any reaction from the man who was still standing dazed in the communal square. She knew that Force persuasion wouldn't be permanent if she pushed her luck, so she quickly disengaged the brakes and pulled the speeder into the air. She glanced back at the man, and she noticed that he had come out of his daze. He was looking around the square frantically, apparently wondering what had happened to his vehicle.
"You have a talent for that, Xyla. I wasn't expecting you to do it quite so easily." Drallig said, commending her.
"It felt wrong to do such a thing." She said in a low tone.
"As it should, but sometimes these things are necessary." He told her. "Change your robe. Jedi clothing will be easily spotted." She glanced at the dashboard, and pushed the button for the autopilot. Turning around, she spotted a thick leathery jacket in the back seat. It was too big for her, but it would suffice. She exchanged her robe for the jacket and hoped that it would be enough to hide her identity. As she turned back into a seating position, she disengaged the autopilot and took the controls again. She wasn't an unskilled pilot, but lacked experience. She hadn't left the temple on many occasions, and only a handful of those she was on her own.
"Where should I go?" She asked, concentrating more on flying the speeder than anything.
"I do not know. Follow the will of the Force." Drallig answered, not giving her much confidence.
"But I don't even know my way around most of Coruscant, Master!" She admitted.
"Do not fret. The Force cannot get lost." He jested. She suppressed a small laugh, the first one she'd had in what felt like forever. Reaching out with her feelings, she allowed the Force to take over. It guided her one way, and then the next. It seemed that it wanted her to head east, but she tried not to think too much on it. Being at one with the Force was about maintaining a clear mind, not allowing distractions to influence your thoughts. Still, she didn't want to close her eyes as she was technically still driving.
Leading her for over an hour, the Force eventually stopped around a large building that looked like a spaceport. On the front, the word "Eastport" was written in basic.
"A questionable location, but the Force has brought you here for a reason." Drallig said. She brought the speeder down towards the spaceport, parking it just outside. Once settled into place, she stepped out and scanned the area with her eyes. She still felt the Master's presence, but he remained quiet. Presumably, an effort to not draw any attention to Xyla. A young girl travelling alone in a speeder was conspicuous enough without her adding talking to herself into the equation. Xyla's leg still ached, and was very swollen. It would need medical attention very soon, but she ignored the pain as much as she could and walked into the spaceport. She looked around, hoping to spot someone who looked like a starpilot. She quickly realised, however, that she had no idea what a starpilot looked like. In an attempt to quicken the process, she tried listening to the Force again for any help.
"The Force will not give you all the answers." Drallig cautioned. "It will give you the occasional nudge in the right direction, but you must do some of the work yourself." Xyla rolled her eyes and walked towards a group of older looking beings. There were a mixture of races here, some she recognised and others she didn't.
"Excuse me, gentlebeings." Xyla said pleasantly. "Are any of you starpilots?" She asked. Some of them smiled, and walked off, shaking their heads. There were a small number who remained and looked at her with curious expressions.
"Yeah, who's asking?" One of them asked, a blue Twi'lek.
"My name's Xyla and I need passage offworld." She said. The Twi'lek shook his head.
"I do cargo, not passengers." He said harshly, turning away. She glanced at the others, but their expressions reflected the Twi'lek man's opinion. They each turned away, ignoring her. She moved on to another group and tried again. She was met with much the same response. Not willing to give up, Xyla tried another 3 groups of people, but none of them were willing to help her. She started wondering if the Force was wrong, or she had done something to interfere with it in some way.
"You are being followed." Drallig said, flatly. She glanced around, but in a manner that would appear casual. She spotted a middle-aged man, who looked Human turning away just as she caught sight of his face.
"That's him. He has been watching you since the third group." Drallig told her. She turned away again, but used the Force to track the man following her. Xyla walked towards a door at the side of the spaceport, and sure enough the man followed her. Opening the door, she walked into the next room. It was an enclosed area, and isolated. There didn't seem to be anyone there. Once the door closed, she quickly stepped over to the other side of it and waited. A moment later, the man that had been following her stepped through. Her theatrics had paid off; as he was looking in the direction she seemed to walk in before the door closed. Xyla's brow creased, and she grabbed him from behind.
"Whoa!" He yelled as she dragged him backwards to the wall. "What the..." He started, but she cut him off.
"Why are you following me?" She demanded. His surprise seemed too forced. He was a bad actor.
"Hey, take it easy..." He continued. His voice was too high-pitched, and unnatural. She could feel how calm he was.
"Oh, stop. What's going on here? You're following me and I want to know why." She stated. His expression changed instantly.
"Alright, fine. Yeah, I'm following you. If you want to know why, you're just going to have to trust me." He admitted.
"Not good enough. I need more before I trust a stranger who's been following me." Xyla said firmly.
"Yet you're the one asking random strangers to take you offworld?" He pointed out. She was taken aback. Not only was this man following her, but he'd been listening in as well. "Look, if you want offworld, you need to come with me." He lowered his voice to a barely audible whisper. "It's the only way a fugitive Jedi is getting out of the Galactic Core." He said, quietly. Xyla widened her eyes. He knew she was a Jedi, which meant the other pilots she'd been talking to probably did as well.
"Oh no." She muttered.
"Listen, you need to come with me. I have to be on my ship and off this world like 10 minutes ago. I'll get you out, but we need to hurry." The man said.
"This is why the Force guided you here." Drallig advised. Xyla didn't know if she could trust this man, but she could certainly trust Master Drallig, even if he was a Force Apparition.
"Alright, lead on." Xyla finally relented. The strange man grabbed her right arm and led her into the docking area. There was a small freighter directly in front of them, which was where the man seemed to be going. The access ramp was still down and there was a Devaronian standing at the top bearing an angry expression.
"You're late, Strannox." He growled.
"I know, I know. I had some business to take care of." The man answered. At least she had a name for him.
"Who's the kid?" Demanded the Devaronian.
"Old friend. Do you mind?" Strannox answered, trying to lead Xyla up the ramp.
"Whatever. Just keep her out of the way, you hear me?" The Devaronian ordered.
"You got it, boss." Strannox answered sarcastically. Strannox led her down a small corridor, and stopped at a doorway. He pressed on a nearby panel to open it, revealing a small, empty room. Xyla looked at him curiously.
"This will have to be home for a while. Not very comfy, I know." Strannox said, almost apologising.
"Do you have a doctor? I've been shot." Xyla confessed.
"Well, damn. You do make things difficult, don't you? I'll send him down in a while. You can't leave this room though." Strannox said, firmly. Xyla nodded silently. She needed to meditate anyway. Strannox moved to leave the room, but Xyla stopped him.
"Why are you helping me?" She asked.
"Returning a favour. I have to go." He answered. She nodded and Strannox closed the door behind him. She settled herself into the corner of the room, and knelt down to being her long-overdue meditation.
As she allowed the Force to envelope her, she felt a peace that she had never experienced before. Today, Xyla had learned more about the Force and self-preservation than she had throughout the entirety of her training in the temple, albeit through unwelcome and unpleasant circumstances. Her mind had been filled with a near-endless number of questions that she wanted to ask Master Drallig, but they faded to the back of her mind now. The pain in her shoulder had eased as the meditation healed her body as well as her mind and spirit, but the blaster wound would certainly need medical attention. Her meditation had gone on for almost an hour before Strannox returned. Xyla's eyes opened and she came out of the meditative state she was in, mere moments before Strannox opened the door to her room. He was carrying a set of clothes under one arm, and had a short Sullustan with him. The Sullustan was holding a case with a medical symbol emblazoned on the side, so she assumed he was the doctor.
"I'm told you've been shot." He said, speaking in his native tongue.
"He says..." Strannox began, but Xyla raised her left hand to silence him.
"I can understand him, thanks." She stated, but not unkindly. Strannox shrugged his shoulders. Looking back at the doctor, Xyla nodded her head, and pointed to the blackened wound on her right thigh.
"Very well. Let me take a look at it." The doctor continued. He crouched down next to her, and delicately ripped the leg of her pants to see the injury more clearly. He studied the burnt flesh carefully; using a small device which she thought was a medical scanner of some kind. Xyla let him do his work, as she had little knowledge of medicine, and she looked up at Strannox.
"Tell me, who is it you owe this favour to? I don't know you, so it can't be me." She asked him. Strannox sighed deeply.
"A few years back, I got myself into a real bind. Long story short, this guy named Kenobi saved my backside." He explained.
"Obi-Wan Kenobi?" She checked. Strannox nodded.
"That sounds about right, yeah. I figured you Jedi types would all know each other." He answered. The Sullustan doctor made a brief glance in their direction, but ignored it. He was possibly unaware that she was a Jedi at first, not that it seemed to bother him now.
"Anyway, he helped me out, and I tried to pay him back. He said if I ever see a Jedi in trouble, help them to safety. Then our debt will be cleared. So here we are." Strannox revealed. She hoped Master Kenobi was still alive so that she could thank him.
"I appreciate this. I realise you're going to a lot of trouble for my benefit." Xyla said, graciously.
"It isn't for you, but you're welcome." He replied. Xyla smiled, and then jumped as the doctor was dressing the wound.
"That's the best I can do for now. Wherever you're going, you'll need to see a Medtech." Said the Sullustan. He stood up and walked towards the doorway.
"Hey, doc." Strannox began, and the doctor paused for a moment. "Thanks for this. I owe you one."
"Yeah, yeah. Along with all the rest you owe me. One day, you will owe me more than you can deliver." He stated, though he didn't seem to mind too much. Xyla got the impression that these two had a good friendship. The doctor gave a mock-salute, and then left the room. Strannox turned back to Xyla with a serious expression.
"We'll be in Hyperspace for a while yet. There are a couple of stops we need to make before we head into Hutt territory." He explained.
"Hutt space?" She said, looking worried.
"Yeah, it's pretty bad. But no different than being in Republic territory. At least as a fugitive, you'll blend in a lot easier." He offered. Xyla made a weak effort to smile.
"What happened on Coruscant? Why were clones trying to kill me?" She asked. Strannox took a deep breath.
"Rumours are flying like mad, but the most popular one is that the Jedi turned on the Senate. Tried to overthrow the Supreme Chancellor and everything." He answered.
"What? That's ridiculous!" Xyla stated.
"That's just what I've heard. Anyway, there are troops all over Coruscant hunting for Jedi. I'm surprised you lived this long, to be honest." He stated looking quite impressed with her. "Oh, I almost forgot." He added, with wide eyes.
"Huh? What is it?" She said. Strannox leaned down and place the clothes he was carrying on the floor in front of her.
"Here, these won't scream Jedi quite as much as the ones you're wearing do. That jacket isn't much of a disguise; it just looks like you stole it." He pointed out. She looked away with a guilty look on her face. "Aww, man. You did steal it? I thought you Jedi were meant to be all nice and respectable." He added.
"I was desperate." She confessed.
"We've all been there, I guess. Anyway, these will help you hide a bit better." He said, pointing out the clothes again. "Still, it won't help if you start waving your lightsaber around."
"I don't have a lightsaber yet. I'm just a Padawan." Xyla admitted.
"Oh well. Right, I'll, er, leave you to it. I'll come get you later, when we land." He said, turning towards the door.
"Wait a second, where are you taking me? You said Hutt space, but not which planet." She asked. She at least deserved to know where she was going.
"Nar Shaddaa. Perfect place to go if you don't want to be found." He answered, and then left the room.
Nar Shaddaa. The Hutt-owned moon of Nal Hutta. She'd heard about that place during her studies, but never imagined she would end up going there, much less hiding on it. It was basically Coruscant for gangsters, or so she'd been told.
"Master Drallig?" She called out after she'd finished putting the fresh clothes on. They felt strange, as she was used to wearing the robes made in the temple. The transparent blue form of the Jedi appeared in front of her.
"How do you feel, young one?" He asked.
"Much better. I'm still tired though." She answered.
"You've been through quite an ordeal. It's hardly surprising." Drallig said.
"Master, is it true? What Strannox said about the Jedi?" Xyla asked. Cin Drallig took a deep breath, most likely a habitual response.
"It was discovered that the Supreme Chancellor was the Sith behind the Separatists. Master Windu attempted to arrest him." He explained.
"Chancellor Palpatine was Darth Sidious!?" Xyla blurted out. Drallig widened his eyes.
"I see we weren't as vigilant about keeping those secrets as we thought." He replied. Xyla's eyes fell to the floor for a moment. "But yes, that is true."
"I heard the name Lord Vader from the clones. Who is he?" She asked. This had been bugging her since she first heard it.
"Darth Vader is Sidious' newest apprentice. He was a Jedi." Drallig said, with a disappointed look on his face. Xyla was shocked that anyone would fall to the Dark Side at such a critical time in the war.
"Who?" She demanded, assuming that Vader was the one to slay Drallig.
"That is not important now." Replied the Jedi Master.
"If I am to face this Darth Vader, I must know who he is!" She said, growing angry.
"Calm yourself, Xyla. Control your emotions." Drallig advised. Xyla took a few deep breaths, and settled herself down. "Vader's destiny lies with another. You will not be facing him."
"Still, you could at least tell me who he is. I should deserve to know who it was that caused all of this." Xyla encouraged. Once more, Drallig took in a deep breath.
"Very well. Darth Vader is.... Anakin Skywalker. Now, you must rest. It is a long journey to Nar Shaddaa, and you will need your energy." Drallig said. Xyla rested herself against the wall and attempted to sleep.
She could barely believe that it was Skywalker who fell to the Dark Side. He was always impulsive and arrogant, but he was still a great Jedi. All it took was for him to become a Sith, and the Jedi Temple was ransacked by him and a legion of clones. She fell into an uneasy sleep, and awaited her destination.
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