Chapter 13: Training an Army
I am surprised; the princess has done it. All of the available men from the “police force” who guard the palace and patrol the town are now gathered at our camp where several stations have been set up to give them a speed class in the techniques which will help us take down the Separatists.
My Master and Ahsoka are teaching some of them how to use “droid poppers” to defeat droidekas, while Master Kenobi and Rex were teaching a group how to take out the tanks. This left Rendal and I to work on shooting targets with blasters.
‘Standard battle droids are incredibly dim, however they don’t need to be smart, their job is to overwhelm their opponent with their large numbers. To take out a battle droid you must shoot it in the head, after all they don’t need any other part of their body to send a signal back to their command centre.’ Rendal explained.
‘Not to mention a headshot gives you the quickest kill. Basically, aim for their heads any other shot is a waste of time.’ I added. ‘Now take a blaster and line up.’ The men did as I instructed and now stood three lines, with the first three poised and ready to hit the old droid heads we had lines up on spikes. ‘Now aim and fire!’ I called, cringing as the blasters went off, firing rapidly. Rendal and I watched as the droid heads were all knocked off their spikes and after using the Force to put them back up, the next three men stepped up and shot them down.
While most of their shots were inaccurate and they handled their blasters clumsily, some of them were not bad. One in particular who seemed to be pretty good was a man named Barrian Marsh. Apparently he is the captain of the guard at the palace and while he seems calm, cool and collected I can sense he thinks this is a stupid exercise.
I know this isn’t really my problem, but....
He turned and looked at me quizzically.
‘Your feelings betray you, Captain. I can sense how you believe this is nothing more than a waste of time....... Well I say, if you think you’re above this why don’t you prove it?’ The soldier gave me a curt nod and picked up his weapon aiming at the target when I stopped him. ‘You have already demonstrated your skills against a still target...... How about you try a moving one?’
With that I lifted my hand and focused on the droid head that was nearest to me, slowly getting it to lift off the stick and began moving it from side to side. I didn’t have to say anything before Marsh began blasting it, each time hitting it dead on causing it to jerk around and it wasn’t long before I lost control of it and it spun off into the bushes.
’It seems like you need to practice that....... Commander.′ He smirked.
I growled both angry and ashamed at my lack of mastery when it came to moving things with the Force, however I didn’t result to violence, instead choosing to send him over to Master Skywalker’s group. He appeared to be satisfied with that and I was glad, not so much because he was happy, but because I wouldn’t have to put up with him.
The Masters wandered around from time to time checking up on Rendal and I along with watching what the other members of the rebel group were doing. As I glanced around I saw Connas and Tila helping Obi Wan and Rex, Graffin was trying to show some of the men who hadn’t been placed into a group how to perform better and more advanced techniques in hand-to-hand combat and...... Arc must have retreated to his hut because I couldn’t see him anywhere....
All the same, by the time we had finished all the members of our new “army” had the basic skills to help us take down the droids and destroy the base that the Separatists have built..... Yet something doesn’t feel right.....
‘Mas....’ I turned around to see him walking off. My curios nature was telling me to follow him, but my gut (which I make all my decisions with) told me not to, so I didn’t. Instead I went back to my hut and tried to meditate, hoping that it would tell me what was wrong.
I had just left Ahsoka to watch as the men attempted to roll the droid poppers across the ground with enough force so they reach their target, but slowly enough to penetrate the droidekas energy shields and shock them into deactivation. So far the men had been doing well, though it was taking a little longer with some of them, but we were making process all the same.
Now as I watched as the men continued to learn the techniques and skills of battle while standing just behind my padawan as she too observed them. However my attention was stolen away as I heard a giggle from the other side of the camp and upon turning around I discovered it had come from none other than Ahsoka. She flashed me a brilliant smile and could swear my heart skipped a little! Then with a tilt of her head she invited me over to talk to her. Heh. How could I refuse?
I casually walked over to her, though and grinned as she called out to me using the nickname she had given me all those years ago.
‘What’s up Snips?’ I asked.
‘Oh, not much.’ She shrugged.
‘Well accept for the training.... Which seems to be going well.’
‘Yes, well done for getting them all over here.’
‘Oh, that was nothing.’ She glanced away and I noticed a slight blush starting to creep into her cheeks before she cleared her throat. ‘Besides, it was you who came up with the idea in the first place.’
‘It’s true.’ I smirked as she slapped me.
‘You know you could just say thank you.’
‘I could and you’re right, so thank you.... You’re highness.’
‘Argh! I thought I made it clear not to call me that!’ She rolled her eyes and I watched as her face lit up with that tell-tail expression she always used to use whenever she had a cheeky idea.
‘What are you thinking of?’ I asked suspicious.
‘Oh..... I don’t know maybe.... This!’ With one hard push she sent me rolling down the small hill and into a gully full of ferns. (A/N: Please tell me someone gets this reference!)
‘Hey!’ I laughed as I tumbled head over heels until I came to a stop, lying on my back staring up at the lush canopy of the forest.
‘Huh?’ I twisted my head just in time to see Ahsoka come tumbling after me and we cracked up as she bumped into me roughly. ‘So what was the point of this little escapade?’ I asked chuckling as we lied on the ground together.
‘I just thought it would be fun...... And I was right, wasn’t I?’ She smirked.
‘I admit you were.’ I grinned. ‘You planned that didn’t you?’
‘Maybe....’ I felt my expression falter slightly as she fluttered her big blue eyes as me innocently, though as my eyes wandered down slightly to her softy grey lips I noticed they were turned up in a very cheeky smile which told me immediately that she was guilty.
‘You did! You little scamp!’ With that I began tickling her ribs, smiling broadly as she giggled, twisting and squirming as my fingers twitched trying to get to her armpit. I chuckled loudly while she shrieked and tried to escape my wrath!
‘Ok! Ok! I confess!’ The Togruta squealed as I backed off and laughed with her.
‘I knew it!’ I proclaimed happily.
I froze. My eyes slowly looked to the edge of the camp where Obi Wan was now standing watching us and from the look on his face I could tell he was not impressed.
‘H-Hi, Master....’ I smiled awkwardly, putting my arm up to scratch behind my head nervously.
‘We could use a hand up here you know.’
‘Yes Master, sorry Master.’ I replied and rolled my eyes at Ahsoka as soon as he was gone before helping her up.
‘You really haven’t changed one little bit have you, Skyguy?’ The princess smirked.
‘No, not really.’
After sitting down on the dirt floor in my hut, crossing my legs and closing my eyes I attempted to feel the Force while not allowing myself to be distracted by the sounds outside. It turns out this is very hard. I kept hearing noises, not just the members of our group talking idly or the scuffle of there feet in the leaf litter, but I could hear something else. Something more..... Sinister.
However, the more I tried to ignore it the more it captured my attention. So I decided to try a different approach. Instead of trying to cut myself off from the world around me I opened my mind and took in everything that was going on both inside and outside my body.
Soon I was able to feel things that I had never felt before, the movement of nearby animals and the strange/incredible creatures that roamed the rainforest, the development of the buds on the trees and bushes as they burst open to become flowers, the stir of branches as the soft breeze rustles them..... However I also began to feel pain and.... Suffering.... I could hear the blood curdling screams of women and children as they were beaten and whipped by the Separatist scum who were holding them prisoner!
What had at first been a pleasant experience and my way of finally opening up to the world was becoming a living nightmare.... I started groaning as my head pounded and my body ached. Tears leaked from my closed eyes as the image of a single child appeared in my mind, his face covered in blood, sweat and dirt.
My eyes shot open and I gasped! That poor kid....
‘You alright, Alexa?’
It was Anakin, I had been so caught up in what I was doing that I hadn’t even realise he had come in. His expression held concern and to be perfectly honest I think I see that face far to often when he looks at me, but trying to get him to treat me as just another padawan is proving to be difficult.
‘I’m fine Anakin.’ I replied getting up and dusting myself off, despite how much the dream or vision, whatever you call it, had shaken me.
‘You sure?’ He asked raising an eyebrow quizzically.
‘Yes.’ I replied sternly, hoping he would drop it. Luckily enough he did.
‘So..... Now what’s going on?’
‘The palace guards have returned to the city and are continuing their routine as normal, so as to avert suspicion.’
‘What if they tell the Separatists of our position and what we plan to do?’ I asked pointing out the potential danger.
‘Each one has personally assured us that no such thing will happen and Ahsoka believes all of them are trustworthy.’ He replied. I rolled my eyes.
She’s a princess! She probably thinks everyone in the world is loyal to their leader!
I nodded all the same, the last thing I felt like doing at this point was picking a fight with Anakin.
‘Still you’ve had a big day and the sun has just set so... If you want I’ll leave you alone to sleep for a while.’ He turned to leave.
‘Wait.’ He paused and listened. ‘Mind if I don’t sleep? I’d rather go and sit near the fire for a while.’
‘Of course I don’t mind, come on.’
With that I quickly followed him out.
I just popped in to see how she was; she had been in her shelter for some time and I was beginning to worry about her.... When I came to the entrance and pushed back the layer of fabric that served as a makeshift door and pushed it aside I found her sitting cross-legged on the floor.
Her eyes were closed and her brow was furrowed in what I thought was concentration, but even then she still managed to look peaceful.... A small smile appeared on my lips though it soon faded as the last rays of sunlight hit her face, making the tears that were leaking from her eyes sparkle like tiny diamonds.
Immediately I changed my view of the situation, I realised that her brow was furrowed not because she was concentrating, but because she was either worried or in pain and as I stared intently at her face I notice that she was twitching slightly.
However, before I could do anything her eyes snapped open and her breathing became hurried as she glanced around panicked. Surprisingly that stopped when her eyes landed on me and we stared at each other for several moments until I spoke.
‘You alright, Alexa?’ I asked and she shook her head, coming to her senses.
‘I’m fine Anakin.’ She replied as she stood up and brushed off any excess dirt she had picked up from sitting on the ground. I glanced away sensing her choice to dodge the use of master as a way of reminding me that she isn’t weak.
‘You sure?’ I inquired, trying to make sure she was in fact alright and not just trying to blow me off.
‘Yes.’ She replied, giving me a piercing glare which told me to back down and I obliged.
‘So..... Now what’s going on?’
‘The palace guards have returned to the city and are continuing their routine as normal, so as to avert suspicion.’ I replied.
‘What if they tell the Separatists of our position and what we plan to do?’ She asked, wondering about just how much we could trust the troops.
‘Each one has personally assured us that no such thing will happen and Ahsoka believes all of them are trustworthy.’ I replied. She rolled her crystal blue eyes at me disbelievingly.
Surprisingly she decided against voicing any of her complaints and nodded mutely instead.
‘Still you’ve had a big day and the sun has just set so... If you want I’ll leave you alone to sleep for a while.’ I turned and was about to exit when she spoke again.
‘Wait.’ He stopped to hear what she had to say. ‘Mind if I don’t sleep? I’d rather go and sit near the fire for a while.’
‘Of course I don’t mind, come on.’ I smiled and she followed me out.