I woke, sat up, stretched and yawned. Like I do just about every day. This day, however, is different.
I got up off the thin semi-uncomfortable mat I had slept on the night before and brushed the dust and dirt off me from the day before, then walked out into the soft morning sunshine that filtered in through the leaves in the canopy. The ground was slightly damp from the dew that had formed the night before and I breathed in the fresh scent of the rainforest while taking in the soft mist that lingered around the tops of the trees creating a beautiful, almost surreal atmosphere.
It looked as if Master Kenobi was up along with Graffin and Arcturus. I pulled my hood down further as I saw the Devaronian-Zabrak’s eyes snap over to me. All the same I walked over to Kenobi and ignored the other men.
‘Ah, good morning Alexa.’ Obi Wan nodded.
‘Good morning, Master Kenobi. Where is Master Skywalker?’
‘He’s never been a morning person, Alexa.’ He smirked.
‘It’s true.’ The Princess nodded as she walked past, before turning and stopping to look at me. ‘Are you feeling better from yesterday?’
‘I felt fine yesterday and I feel fine now, but........ Thank you the concern.’ I replied trying to keep myself under control. I have never been one to like people in positions of authority, even if they are of the same species as me.
‘No problem, I enjoy looking out for others.’ She smiled, oblivious to my annoyance.
‘You really haven’t changed Ahsoka.’ Obi Wan smiled.
‘Neither have you, Master Kenobi.’
‘Please, call me Obi Wan. After all there is no need for the formalities now.’
I decided at that point to go and find something to use as training equipment, but obviously that’s a little hard when you’re in a rainforest with nothing but trees to use. So naturally I decided climbing might be just the thing to pass the time.
So after finding a tree that was a suitable height of almost twenty feet, which was just out of sight from the camp, I began to climb. Obviously it wasn’t a particularly easy tree to climb, that was the point after all and he bark on the tree was moist, which meant that it was harder to get a good grip on it, but I was able to shimmy up the trunk until I came to a branch that was thick enough to hold my weight.
From there I jumped up to the next branch and pulled myself up top of it. Steadying myself against the trunk for a moment I prepared to leap for the next one, however I realised that the one above might be just a little too far to jump and decided to swing around the tree to the other side and jump up there. Eventually the branches almost became like a ladder and I was able to climb easily. I soon reached the top and was able to see for miles around.
‘Woah.’ I breathed as I took in the sight from the top of the rainforest. All of the green trees and the contrast of the desert several miles ahead made me feel somehow peaceful, yet excited at the same time. Odd, but I guess that’s what happens when you return to your home after six years. Especially when your home is as beautiful as this!
I felt like I was on top of the world! That was until the branch snapped.
I hissed both in anger and pain as the branch, or rather twig, under my other foot broke off and I slipped down, my nails scrapping and clawing at the bark. I bit down on my bottom lip hard, trying to stop myself from shouting, but I gave up as I felt blood begin to seep from it. Screaming at the top of my lungs I felt my hands leave the rough surface of the bark and in a quick decision I pushed back on the bark with my feet, causing me to do a backwards summersault and fall freely toward the ever approaching ground.
I closed my eyes and let the rush of adrenaline take over as I plummeted, snapping them open just in time to hear someone call out to me, I stretched out my legs, landing on someone’s shoulders and pushed forward into a flip before landing gracefully on the ground. I bowed as a round of applause started, which was soon interrupted by my Master who wasn’t impressed.
‘Alexa, what was that?! You could have been hurt!’
‘I’m sorry Master, but I hadn’t exactly intended for the branches to break and that was all I could think to do when I sensed someone was coming. Who did I kind of land on anyway?’ I asked glancing around at the group.
‘M-Me.’ My eyes landed on Rendal as he gave me a wobbly smile.
‘Now that everyone is safe and on the ground I think we should all go and have some breakfast, we have a big day ahead of us today.’ Ahsoka suggested and we went back to the camp. On the way I felt bad as I spotted the dirty scuff marks my boots had made on the shoulders of Rendal’s robes.
Ouch. Surely that would have hurt.
Indeed, much like my leg now does. At the time it happened the adrenaline rush had masked the pain the shock had caused, but now that I was sitting down with nothing to do I felt it and it is not pleasant. All the same, I was able to keep it to myself and not even my Master couldn’t sense that anything was off so I was in the clear. Keeping that in mind I ate my food and kept my head down after that rather embarrassing scene, but once I was finished I became impatient with those who were waisting time talking instead of eating so that we could go.
I growled quietly as the Trandoshan fooled around briefly with Tila, while Connas and Arcturus, or “Arc” as everyone called him, talked. It surprised me at first that my Master wasn’t preparing for today’s battle, instead he Master Kenobi and Princess Ahsoka were to busy talking and laughing. I shook my head, how could someone from that village be having fun at a time like this? Why was no one taking this seriously?
‘Hey um........ Alexa I just-’
‘What?’ I snapped rudely at the boy who had just interrupted my thoughts.
‘N-Never mind.’ He stuttered hurriedly and was about to walk away when I grabbed his tunic and dragged him back.
‘Sorry, I’m just a bit on edge.’ I apologised.
‘It’s alright, I was just wondering if you wanted to um.........’ He lowered his voice to barely a whisper. ‘Damerel.’
I nodded instantly getting up and I glanced over to my Master, he seemed busy, but I wasn’t in the mood to get into trouble for not telling him about leaving. However before I could go and ask he looked up from his conversation and nodded.
"It’s ok, Lex."
I gasped. His lips hadn’t moved, yet I had heard his voice.
‘You ok, Alexa?’ Rendal asked looking at me quizzically.
‘Yeah. Fine.’ I replied and we took off, running silently through the rainforest. However Rendal stopped just before we reached where we had watched them yesterday. ‘What is it?’
‘I heard our Masters talking last night.........’
‘And?’ I asked hoping he would spill the beans quickly so we could get to the village.
‘Promise not to shoot the messenger?’
‘Yes.’ I rolled my eyes, even though my senses were telling me that what he had to say wasn’t going to be good.
‘They’ve decided that we aren’t going to be attacking the Separatists today.’
‘What!?’ I asked grabbing his collar threateningly.
‘It gets worse; they have also decided not to........’ He trailed off mumbling incoherent words.
‘Speak up!’ I commanded gripping his tunic tighter. He then drew a big breath in and spoke his sentence as fast as his mouth could move.
‘Our Masters don’t want us to be part of the fight to free the village.’ He then trembled and looked at me terrified as to what I was going to do to him for saying that.
Instead of punishing him, however, I merely let go of him. I felt his shock at my actions and I held up my hand as he opened his mouth to speak again.
‘I promised I wouldn’t shoot the messenger........ But I’m afraid I can’t say the same of spies!’ I growled smashing my fist into a patch of foliage. Upon hearing a grunt I proceed to perform a roundhouse kick and pulled him forward using the Force. My eyes narrowed as I saw it was Acturus.
‘What were you doing?’ Rendal asked glaring at him, though I could feel a large amount of surprise and....... Admiration? Rolling off him as he glanced at me.
‘Testing your awareness of your surroundings, you’re both lucky it was me. Consider if another from the rival side had been in my location.’ He glanced around, yet not letting us out of his sight.
‘I still sensed you and- duck!’ I commanded hitting the ground just in time for laser bolts to fly toward us. Arcturus activated his lightsaber and easily deflected the bolts away from us.
‘Looks like the Separatists know we’re here, let’s move!’ Rendal urged, looking in the direction the shots had come from I shook my head.
‘See, it’s aim is off. I need to get a new one.’ I rolled my eyes as we listened to the high pitched voices of the tin cans.
‘Stupid droids, they were just testing a weapon. They don’t know we’re here.’
‘Not all of those model of droid are that dimwitted......’ He paused for a moment, keeping alert for any sign of trouble be it droid or otherwise.
‘Maybe not all of them, but most of them are incredibly dumb.’ Rendal replied.
‘All the same, let’s get going. We don’t want to make our presence known, if it isn’t already.’ I murmured.
‘On that we agree.’ Rendal nodded and we swiftly made our way back to camp. However on the way, I sent Rendal on ahead to tell our Masters what had happened and I stayed back to talk to (or rather growl at) Arcturus who had been watching our backs to make sure we weren’t being followed.
‘I don’t appreciate being spied on, no matter what your reasoning is. So back off.’
‘Get going.’ He replied sternly, unfazed by my demand. ‘And would a rival have cared? Not likely. Ask our group about this once back at camp.’
I growled before running off, this guy was getting on my nerves so the sooner we complete our mission and loose him the better.
When I returned to camp I was a little surprised to see that Anakin and the Princess had moved and were no longer talking, upon deciding to take advantage of the situation I walked over to tell the Jedi what had happened.
‘Master, we-’ I stopped as he nodded at the man who had found us and trailed us back to camp. I turned and glared at Anakin who now stared at me. ‘You sent him, didn’t you?’ My master nodded, smirking. I emitted a low grumble from the back of my throat. ‘I should have known you were behind his intrusion.’
‘Intrusion? Why what were you two up to?’ He asked quirking a brow.
‘Well let’s put it this way, you can’t keep me from helping my village no matter what you say.’
I saw the determination shining in the young girls eyes and I knew she was right, there was no way I was going to keep her from participating in this battle, however I was going to need to have a few words with Obi Wan about his padawan.
Without a word I went into my shelter and went through the bag I had brought, retrieving a cold metal object and returning to where my apprentice still stood. I threw the object to her, watching her face morph into a gleeful expression as she caught it effortlessly, and led her over to a corner of the campsite.
‘Ready for some more training?’
‘Then show me what you have learned.’ I replied and after activating my saber set to attacking her.
She swiftly activated her weapon and parried, I proceeded to jump and perform a Falling Leaf which my padawan blocked and then returned with a Dulon. We locked sabers, each of us pushing with all of our might to gain the advantage before Alexa performed Flowing Water; pulling back and upon seeing a gap in my defenses, struck again.
Flashes of light bounced around the clearing as our weapons clashed together, the strange sound echoing off the trees. Our mini battle was escalating and soon Alexa was using moves that I hadn’t taught her before in ways I hadn’t even thought of and while we had gathered a crowd who were no watching us intently, neither of us had lost concentration.
‘Come on Anakin!’
Our friends cheered.
We fought our hardest, but no one was landing any blows, the other always ready to stop their attack and fight back as our blades whirled relentlessly with lightening speed. I ducked and smirked as I felt the breeze of the blade of Alexa’s training as it swiped past me, narrowly missed the top of my head.
‘You really are good at this.’ I puffed.
‘Thanks.’ She replied, beginning to pant.
We continued on until eventually we had to stop, both of us to tired to continue and we agreed to call it a tie.
‘Well done, Alexa.’ I breathed.
‘Thank you, I learned from the best.’ She smiled as we went and sat down.
I sighed contented at how well my student was doing when Ahsoka came over with two drinks for us and decided to sit as well.
‘You showed a lot of skill there Alexa.’ She smiled handing her a drink.
‘Thank you, Your Highness.’ She replied bowing her head.
‘Please call me Ahsoka, I’m only a princess in court, ok?’ Ahsoka reminded her. Alexa nodded mutely. Sighing almost silently at my padawan’s lack of communication, the Togruta princess turned back to look at me. ‘You seem to be as fit as ever, Anakin.’
‘I try.’ I smiled. ‘So what about you? What have you been up to since you left? Apart from becoming royalty.’ I raised an eyebrow.
‘Well things were fine when I first came back, despite news of what had happened with the Jedi and the bombing, my father was glad to see me again after I was lost when Master Plo found me. So there was a celebration and things, but then the Separatists invaded. For months they were able to jam any and all communications off the planet. When we were finally able to get word out we called the Jedi.’
‘How long were the Separatists jamming your communications?’
‘Almost two months then we were able to blow up their jamming station and quickly get a communication out asking for help. However they have rebuilt the station and we can no longer send out or receive any signals.’
‘I see.’ I nodded.
‘That was a month ago.’
‘What?’ I asked in disbelief.
‘Yes, we were beginning to think the Order wasn’t going to send help.’
It then dawned on me why it had taken so long for us to come; it was because of Alexa and her sickness, not to mention her wounds...... Which, now that I think about it, didn’t seem to slow her down during our sparring practice.....
‘I’m sorry, we should have tried to come sooner.’ I replied knowing very well that was impossible.
‘No need to worry, you’re here now and that is what matters.’
The two of us then just stared at each other, looking at the faces we had missed seeing for the last year and as I took in her perfect features I didn’t know whether to smile or cry. I know that sounds strange, but I almost wanted to do both.
This girl had been by my side almost since the beginning, she had seen me through some of my greatest moments along with some of my worst. I had watched her grow from a shy, unsure fourteen year old girl into a bold confident sixteen year old who could handle anything the galaxy threw at her. Or at least until the bombing at the Temple...... Of course she left after that and I honestly can’t blame her for it. How was I so dumb that to think the Council would do something to help her? I should have done more. While we did arrest the guilty one, it turned out to be none other than Ahsoka’s best friend: Barris Ofee.
It shattered Ahsoka to know that her best friend had framed her for not only bombing the Temple, but also murdering a woman as well. So she was well within her rights to walk away from the Order and despite that I know that, I still wish she hadn’t.
As I gazed into her big blue eyes I was reminded of just how much I miss having her as my padawan and it took a lot to tear my own eyes away from hers and remember what it was that we had been talking about.
‘Uh....’ I cleared my throat and glanced away from her. ‘Your father told us that you were the one who suggested we come and help.’ I stated, remembering our conversation with the King the day before.
‘Yes, he wasn’t very eager to get the Jedi involved, he wanted to protect our people by staying neutral in the war, despite how highly I rank you....... Uh...... The Jedi....... but it’s clear we can’t handle it by ourselves.’
It was then that my padawan, who up until now had seemed all but forgotten, spoke up.
‘Doesn’t the King have warriors? Or an army of some kind?’
‘Yes, we have a police force of sorts, but they aren’t exactly trained for this kind of thing.’
‘Have you ever thought of training them? After what I saw at Damerel it’s going to take more than eleven of us to save the villagers and destroy their base.’
‘I think she might be right, Anakin.’ Obi Wan agreed walking over.
‘Then what do you propose we do?’ Ahsoka asked looking at the other Jedi.
‘Well Anakin?’ My old Master kept his eyes on me.
‘Ahsoka, you remember our mission to Onderon, right?’ She nodded understanding where I was going with this.
‘I will have them assembled here in the next hour.’