Chapter 11: Her People and the Teddy Bear
We’re here. When we first arrived I made sure to keep my hood up and my mouth shut, but while I kept my mouth at bay, my curiosity hit an all time high and while the others were building extra shelters I snuck off to look around. I may not be familiar with this village, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know my way around the region. Besides the others are all to busy to notice that I’ve left and they won’t miss me for a while which is good because I don’t think I can listen to Rendal ask another of his stupid questions!
This village is hidden in the thicker parts of the rainforest and judging from the direction we entered the rainforest it wasn’t hard to work out which direction I need to head to find a village that’s just North of here and on the edge of the rainforest. It was easy enough to push and weave my way through the dense foliage and I was lucky that I didn’t come across any unfriendly animals, even though the risk of that was pretty low considering that the sun is hanging low in the sky and it won’t be that long until dark which means that my black clothes blend in perfectly.
I am now crouching near the edge of Damerel and I am not liking what I’m seeing; it’s even worse to see it for real than how the others described, from what I’m seeing the women are taken out in the afternoon to forage and get food, however they are all wearing shock collars so they can’t run away and judging from their wounds the Separatists are no better than the Hutt’s. Another one of the many problems is that the droids base is huge and they have guards patrolling the perimeter regularly. I shake my head, how are we expected to get in? Unless...... Skywalker plans to use one of us as bait.........
No matter what he and Kenobi decide, I stayed and watched to see if their was any other way for us to slip past their security, but it doesn’t seem like it. Someone would have to be inside in order to get the collars of the hostages so they wouldn’t be electrocuted when we help them escape before blowing up the place. Which I am looking forward to all the more after seeing this.
Something then barrelled into me from behind knocking me flat on my face, I should have known what or rather who it was immediately, but I got up and looked anyway. I growled as I discovered it was none other than-
‘Rendal!’ I hissed. ‘Shut up! Keep your voice down unless you want to get us both caught!’
‘Where are we?’ He whispered, taking the hint.
‘Look.’ I pulled back the large leaf that was concealing us from the enemy to show him what I had been looking at. His eyes widened and his chin almost hit the forest floor, I then let go of the leaf just in time for a battle droid patrol to come past.
‘Clankers.’ Rendal whispered, excitement shining in his light, almost wolf-like, eyes. Glancing at my fellow padawan we both got down as low as we could and I held a finger to my lips making sure he would keep quiet.
Once they were gone and out of earshot I stood up, pulled Rendal up of the ground and dragged him back to the camp, however he insisted on trying to make idle conversation so I decided to ask him a question...........
‘Why did you call the droids “clankers”?’
‘Because that’s what all the clones call them, I don’t know why they do, but I think it suits them.’ He replied. ‘You know I’ve never seen a real clanker until then, have you?’
‘No.’ I shook my head.
‘It looks like this trip is providing us with a lot of firsts.’
‘It would seems so.’
Unfortunately our Masters were there waiting for us when we got back and since they caught us there was no way to avoid their interrogation.
‘Where have you two been?’ We froze in our attempt to sneak back into one of the huts, I sighed as we turned to face two very angry Jedi.
‘We went for a walk.’ I replied half truthfully.
‘Alexa....’ Anakin warned.
‘What?’ I asked shrugging.
‘Where did you go?’
‘I just told you, we went for a walk.’
‘Alexa, this is a foreign planet, it’s almost dark and the Separatists have a base not far from here! This is no place for you to just wander off without telling someone!’ He shouted, but I didn’t back down, actually I stood up taller and looked him in the eye.
‘This place may be foreign to you, Skywalker, but I was born here! If you really want to know where I went check the village just North of here, you’ll find a set of imprints in the mud where I watched the village of Damerel. If you have a problem with that, then renounce my status as your padawan, I don’t care.’ With that I turned on my heel and walked off back into the rainforest.
I stared after her, my mind had become clouded with anger and worry for my headstrong padawan and I sighed as she disappeared amongst the native trees and plants. I looked beside me as I felt a hand land gently on my shoulder, which just so happened to belong to Ahsoka. I flashed her a small smile and we walked to the edge of the camp and sat down.
‘Seems like you’ve got yourself a very spirited padawan.’ She smirked.
‘You have no idea.’ I replied.
‘I think I do, she her name is Alexa, right?’
‘Well there used to be an Alexa in my village, of course I don’t remember meeting her since neither of us was very old, before I got lost and Master Plo found me and took me to the Jedi Temple.’
‘But you’re the princess, why were you living in a village?’ I asked confused.
‘I wasn’t always a princess, in fact my father used be the chief of our village. His cousin was king and he died while I was still your padawan, so when I came home after I left father replaced his cousin and the people named him king.’
‘Wow.’ I replied, rather surprised with this news. ‘As if being able to see you again wasn’t enough, now I find out that my Snips is all grown up and a princess of her own planet.’
‘Ha ha.’ She laughed. ‘You haven’t changed a bit, Skyguy.’
‘That’s true. I’m still the greatest Jedi ever!’ I smirked, as she slapped my arm playfully.
‘In your mind, Skyguy. So how is the...new.....padawan going?’
‘I don’t know..... She’s so different. Some days she’s happy and open with me and then there are days when she shuts herself off from the rest of the world and doesn’t want to tell anyone anything. She gets angry and defensive.... Just like she did then.’
‘I may not be your padawan anymore, but I can sense there’s something more to this than your telling me.’
‘I can’t tell anyone about that, Ahsoka. That’s her privacy.’
‘I understand, but I’ll let you in on something: I know how she’s feeling and why she’s so upset and determined. She and I both come from the village of Damerel.’ She explained solemnly. I wanted to slap myself in the face right there. ‘Those are our people that are in trouble and she wants to help them.’
‘How did I not sense that?’ I asked shaking my head. Once again her hand found its way to my arm and she held it there in comfort.
‘You don’t have to know everything.’ She murmured, understanding.
I felt my heart warm at that statement and sighed contented, I shot her thankful expression so she’d know I appreciate her wise words because at this point I don’t trust myself to speak with my words turning to mush. So much has happened over the past year and it feels good to finally be with my old padawan again, but I know it won’t last long so I might as well make the most of it while I’m here.
Soon night was upon us, Ahsoka and I had continued to talk, but there was no sign of my rather upset padawan and it was beginning to worry me.
‘Where could she be?’ I asked looking around for any sign of her in the darkness.
‘She’ll be around here somewhere, Anakin, I’m sure of it.’ Obi Wan replied sitting down in front of the fire.
‘I could go and look for her.’ Tila offered.
Arcturus stood up from concentrating on the forest floor, looking in the direction of the village. I wondered if he could sense her, I could almost feel her presence, but I couldn’t pin point her location. Who knows, maybe he can. Gripping his lightsabre handle, he turned to Ahsoka and myself.
‘Given what has just been said, how likely would it be for her to try helping her people alone?’
‘That does sound like her Anakin.’ Obi Wan nodded.
I thought about it, I know it seems logical that she wants to help her people, but previously whenever she has gotten into trouble or felt something extreme like her anger I can feel it and I don’t feel anything now. It’s almost as she isn’t feeling anything.
‘We should go to the village and look.’ Ahsoka suggested.
‘There’s no need.’ Rendal stated and I saw a shadow slip into one of the shelters. I sighed, she was back and apparently still unhappy, but given that her old village had been taken over by the droids I can’t blame her.
I had felt Anakin’s worry and I knew that he had been trying to sense me, but for a brief moment I felt like I could read his mind and he was right: I am numb. My people are in trouble and there’s nothing I can do about it.... Or at least not on my own. That’s how I’m used to doing things. I don’t like asking for help, but there is something I can do.
I sat on the floor and opened the small bag that Anakin had given me to put my stuff in and bring it with us. After digging through the other clothes I had I found the thing I was looking for: the toy bear that little girl had given me in the Halls of Healing. I carefully pulled it out and examined it; it was a warm chocolate brown and felt soft and cuddly in my hands. It had pretty black eyes that looked to be seeds which had been sewn on and a nice black nose made out of fabric.
Closing my eyes I brought it to my nose and inhaled the aromas that this small bear had captured. I smelt a nice fresh smell, much like the rainforest, which was mixed with dust and the overbearing smell of cleaning fluids and a small trace of bacta. Those last two made sense after all the girl had been in the Halls of Healing, but.... Why would it smell like.... Home. However as I went to turn it over I discovered a label on the inside of its right leg: This bear is the property of Alexa Arnjard.
How is this even possible?
My first name was written in scrawly letters, while my surname was written in nice curly writing. My mother’s handwriting. Wait..... My mind reeled, Lelo. That..... Was what I had called my bear and now that I look at it it looks almost exactly the same, but how could it have ended up at the Temple? Who was that little blue-skinned girl and how did she get it? Questions swirled through my mind, clouding it with confusion.
I jumped abruptly, dropping the bear in my lap and jerking my head up to see Skywalker staring down at me.
‘Don’t you know it’s rude not to knock?’
‘I... Just came to.... Apologise. You were right in what you said, this was and is your home and I should have trusted you to be alright, I just worry and-’. I held up my hand to silence him before he turned into into a blubbering mess.
‘You know that I’ve lived on the run for almost a year now and I’ve been with Jedi for roughly half that time. You know my level of skill, you know that if I got into a fight I’d be able to handle myself. Heck! You’ve seen me take down two boys six years older than me! But that doesn’t change the fact that I should have told you what I was doing.’ I sighed.
I had expected him to continue to justify himself or at least agree with me, instead he sat down on the floor beside me and silently nodded. I saw him glance at the bear and I looked away trying to avoid his eyes, but he got me to look at him as he spoke.
‘I think that both of us have just learnt a lesson.’
‘I agree.’ I murmured quietly as we then slipped into an awkward silence.
‘Why didn’t you tell me you were from that village?’
‘I... I didn’t want to have anyone know so I wouldn’t be disgraced when I return.’
‘Disgraced? You should be proud, you’re a Jedi.’
‘I am disgraced because of what I became after I left and I am not a Jedi yet.’
‘Alexa, how long has it been since you left your village?’
‘And in that time you have become many things, being a slave was just a small part of who you were, who are. You escaped the Hutt’s, on your own. That’s something not many have done. You have outwitted some of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy and now you are my padawan leaner. Tomorrow you will be returning to the village where you were born, you may have left as a small child who had lost everything, but you are returning as a strong, independent girl! Be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished! You are ready to help your people.’
I stared at him, shocked. He was right. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but it was true. I flashed him a small smile which he returned before once again glancing down at the bear. I sighed and handed it to him, watching his blue eyes sparkle in happiness that I had a toy of my own. It was almost a shame to tell him how I got it, but I decided to anyway. His expression soon changed as I told him about how I’d found her again, but when asked what the younglings name I couldn’t tell him.
‘I don’t know, she didn’t tell me. She said that it was given to her by a friend who was given it by her sister and that’s all I know.’
‘Did you ever.....?’
‘I... Don’t remember...’
‘Did you take the bear with you when you left Shili?’
‘No. I think I gave it to someone....’
Before either of us could say anymore someone called that there was food ready and we went back out side to go eat.