Chapter 41: The Gathering Part 1
The trip was long and, in my opinion, boring. Rendal was being a real stick in the mud, he didn’t want to talk to just me for too long in case the others thought he was playing favourites. This meant that he kept encouraging me to socialise with the others and that was something I had no interest in doing. I would rather keep to myself than talk to a bunch of younglings who would scream if I said so much as “boo” to them. So I just stayed quiet.
That is until one of them approached me. It was the Rodian boy, Oblo something or other I think his name was. He came and sat down beside me, I merely chose to ignore him, but then he started asking me questions.
‘You’re Alexa, aren’t you?’ I didn’t reply. ‘I’ll take that as a yes.’ If only he’d take it as a sign that I did not want to talk to him. ‘Why do you have your hood up? Are you trying to hide your face? Why are you keeping your face hidden?’ That was none of his business. ‘Do you speak basic or do you not understand me?’
‘I just want to be left alone.’ I finally growled at him.
I could sense he was taken aback but he needed to know that I was not in the mood to answer questions from anyone, especially someone like him who could never understand what I’ve been through in my life. Stupid snotty nosed kid.
‘I’m sorry to have bothered you then. I just thought you looked lonely.’ He looked sad and turned away, almost making me feel the smallest bit guilty. He was only trying to be nice and I just pushed him away...
‘Wait.’ He looked back at me. ‘I’m sorry. I’m just not a very nice person.’ I apologised.
‘I think you are, you just don’t really know how to deal with some people.’
‘You’re pretty smart for a youngling.’ I gave him a tiny smile, though it only lasted a second, I don’t even know if he saw it from beneath my hood.
‘Thank you.’ I didn’t have to be a padawan to sense the air of humility that surrounded him and I had the feeling that some day he would make a wise Jedi. Especially if he could gain some practical knowledge and street smarts.
‘You’re welcome. Anyway, let’s talk about you instead.’
‘Ok, but what do you want to know about me?’ The boy asked.
‘Well how long have you been part of the order?’
‘As long as I can remember. I think my father might have been a Jedi, or at least Force sensitive, but since I haven’t met him I have no way to prove it.’ He replied with a sigh.
‘That’s unfortunate...My parents are both dead now. They died when I was young.’ I murmured, trying to keep the sadness out of my voice though I think he could hear it anyway.
‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ He frowned. Unsure of what to say I merely sat in silence, my gaze dropping to the floor, until he spoke again. ‘I guess I’m sort of lucky in that respect, after all you can’t miss what you never had...right?’
‘I guess not.’ I agreed, though his tone made me think some part of him believed otherwise.
‘But that’s a depressing subject, why don’t you come talk to the others and we can talk about something that’s a little happier?’
‘Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.’ I frowned and shook my head slightly.
‘Why? Do you not like them or do you want to be left alone because you don’t feel well? Or are there other reasons?’
‘Kid, I have a million and one reasons but I don’t feel like discussing them all now. You can go back to your group and I will just stay here and be by myself. I like my alone time more than I like being with other people.’ I calmly explained, hoping that I would understand that I really just wanted to be left alone.
‘Well.... Ok then.’ He conceded and went back to join his fellow younglings while I closed my eyes and tried to meditate.
The trip was long and dull, for some of us more than others. As I piloted the ship through space my mind wandered and I though about one of my passengers. Alexa. I felt sorry for her, she didn’t like to talk to most people and I couldn’t talk to her as much as we would like because I’m supposed to be impartial to all of them. At least until after they get their crystals. That was the first stage of the Gathering, and while I would never try to help Alexa cheat or anything I didn’t want the younglings to think that I did because we talked a lot during this flight. So I had to tell my friend that, but I know that she was annoyed with me. Unfortunately there’s not a lot I can do about it right now.
Anyway, after many hours of travelling we finally reached the Unkown Regions and then I finally made visual contact with the icy planet that we were going to. Ilum. The planet’s surface was a frozen tundra with miles and miles of uninhabitable waste land. It was a place that most beings didn’t even know existed, aside from those in the Jedi Order.
‘Hey guys, come look! We’re here!’ I called out to the others from the cockpit and smiled as the group of younglings quickly walked in and stared out at the planet before us.
‘This is where we’re going?’ The Tolothian girl, Ayara asked glancing at me.
‘Yes it is.’ I nodded with a smile.
‘We’re going to freeze down there.’ Caller stated.
‘No we won’t.’ Hearing Alexa snort I turned around to see her shaking her head slightly. ‘Why do you think they gave us warm clothes?’
‘She’s right.’ Oblo agreed.
‘Clothes can only do so much.’ Caller pointed out. ‘Anyway, let’s just get down there and do what we came to do.’ We all nodded and once we got through the atmosphere I carefully landed the ship on the icy ground.
As soon as we touched down and I switched things off, the kids were out of there like a shot, eager to get out there and earn their kyber crystals then in turn get their lightsabers. However I could see that Alexa wasn’t so eager to get going and she waited for me to get up.
‘Everything ok Lex?’ I asked concerned, frowning when she shook her head. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘What if I’m not good enough?’ She asked quietly, her gaze focussed on her feet.
I sighed softly and gently pulled her into a hug. ‘Of course you’ll be good enough Lex.... Your skills are unbeatable and I know you will get your crystal.’ I tried to reassure her as I rubbed her back soothingly.
‘Yep, I’m one hundred percent sure. You’ve come this far haven’t you?’
‘I guess so.’ She murmured, resting her head on my shoulder.
‘You will do great, I know it.’
‘I hope you’re right.’
‘Have I ever been wrong?’ I asked pulling back so that I could see her face.
‘Well....’ She smirked, making us both chuckle.
‘Come on Lex, have a little confidence in yourself.’
‘I’ll try.’ She nodded, giving me a wobbly smile.
‘How about I give you a little extra confidence then...’ I glanced around to make sure none of the younglings were watching before moving forward and pressed my lips to hers.
My eyes widened and I smiled as I kissed him back, enjoying the warm feeling that washed over me. We had become better at it with practice and our lips moved together in sync as we expressed our feelings for one another. His lips felt hot against mine as our breaths mingled in the cooling air, our bodies pressing against each other to keep warm. My heart fluttered in my chest and I pulled him closer, desperate to forget about the upcoming challenge. However it didn’t last. Much to soon he was pulling away from me and I sighed once we were apart.
‘Sorry Lex, but we’ve got to get going, we don’t want to keep anyone waiting.’ Rendal apologised.
‘Couldn’t I have just one more?’
‘Ok, but just one.’ He replied and kissed me again, this one being even shorter than the last. ‘For luck.’ He smiled. (Anyone remember who else said this in another Star Wars movie ;) XD) ‘Now come on, let’s go.’ He took my hand and lead me to the landing ramp where we walked down together, only to find that the younglings were all playing in the snow.
They seemed to be enjoying themselves as they made snowballs and threw them at each other. I did notice though that Oblo seemed to be keeping more to himself and was making a little snow man. I smiled, he was a sweet boy.
The moment was ruined, however, when I had to duck as a snowball came flying at my head. ‘Geez!’ I growled and once I was up right again I shot a glare at the Wookie boy whom I knew to be the one responsible for throwing it.
‘Hey!’ I growled, annoyed with their childish behaviour. ‘I don’t care if you guys want to behave like children but don’t involve me!’
The Wookie boy, who’s name I couldn’t be bother to remember, replied with something I wasn’t able to understand. Frowning, I looked at the others to translate, hoping that at least one of them could understand him.
‘He said he’s sorry and that he wasn’t aiming for you. It was an accident.’ The Korrun translated.
‘I see... Oh well, I guess these things happen...’ I replied calmly, making them all look at me in surprise.
‘Anyway, we should get moving, we have a long way to go and a short time to get there.’ Rendal suggested and, after raising the landing ramp, we set off. Though I had no idea where we were going.
The wind howled around us, whipping the snow up as a blizzard threatened to start. I pulled my hood down further over my face, grateful that it had special pointed parts so that my montrals could fit underneath it and not have the material fall back off my head. If that happened I think my montrals would freeze.
It had to be in the minus’ here because if I were to throw water into the air I’m certain that it would freeze solid before it hit the ground. It would be pretty cool to see though, even though it is hard to walk in this cold weather. Especially when your species comes from a tropical sort of planet. Don’t get me wrong though, I have been to other cold planets before, just not ones as cold as this, and it’s not like I’m struggling the most. That award would have to go to Ayara, she was struggling to keep up and despite my usual dislike of little kids I found myself going over to help her.
‘Hey.’ I gave her a small smile, though I doubted she could see it so I at least tried to make my tone sound friendlier than before.
‘Hi.’ She replied looking up at me.
‘Yeah I’m fine.’ She nodded, causing me to frown and shake my head. She was definitely lying.
‘You sure? You look like you could use some help.’
‘Well...I guess I’m just getting tired.’ She admitted and I couldn’t blame her as I watched her struggle to lift her feet through the snow as they sunk down with each step.
‘I think I could help you if you want me to.’
‘You’d help me?’
‘Yep.’ I once again flashed her a smile. ‘The trick to doing it is to do two things, one: focus on the end goal, and two: Think light thoughts.’ She laughed and shook her head.
‘How are light thoughts going to help?’
‘Just try it, you’ll see.’ I smiled. Ayara shrugged and it looked like she decided to give it a go, and as I assumed she was thinking ‘light thoughts’ I used the Force to lift her up a little so that she wasn’t dragging her feet as much through the snow. When she noticed the difference, she turned her head to look at me and we grinned at each other. ‘Told you that would work.’
‘That’s cheating, you’re helping me.’
‘So what? Once in awhile everyone needs help.’
‘Oh yeah, even me.’ I nodded, surprisingly unashamed to admit that.
‘Why would you need help though? You’re Master Skywalker’s padawan aren’t you? I’ve heard stories about you, you’re awesome!’ She smiled up at me and I actually felt myself start to blush a little. The child really thought I was that great?
‘Yeah that’s me...but I’m really not that amazing.’ I shrugged.
‘Yes you are! I heard you have the fastest record for the obstacle course and that you got into one of General Grievous’ bases and rescued another padawan all by yourself!′
I laughed softly. ‘You certainly know a lot about me. Those things are true, yes, and-’
‘Is it true that Padawan Brask was the padawan you saved?’
‘Yes that’s right.’
‘Wow!’ She looked up at me wide eyed and a huge smile was spread across her face. ‘You’re a hero! You could be one of the heroes of the Republic!’
‘I really doubt that.’ I shook my head, my already orange cheeks were turning redder and I was glad that she couldn’t see that.
‘Oh grow up Ayara! She’s not that amazing.’ I looked over to see Caller rolling his eyes. ‘Yeah big deal, she went into a base and rescued a guy, whatever. When I become a padawan I’ll be able to do that same thing blindfolded and take down Grievous!’
I snorted. ‘I wouldn’t go saying things like that until you actually experience it, kid. That sort of stuff isn’t like the simulator, you know. Oh wait... You haven’t even used the simulator yet.’ I smirked over at him.
‘Burn!’ Ayara shouted and laughed.
‘I’ll do it, just you wait and see!’ Caller replied, glaring at us.
‘Let’s stay focussed please.’ Rendal turned to look back at us, narrowing his eyes slightly. We all muttered a “yes sir” and fell into silence. The only sounds now coming from the snow crunching under our feet as we walked on.
Why did he have to make everything boring?
Pfft! Everyone thinks she’s so great, bah! She’s no better than anyone else here, if she was then she’d already have her lightsaber and would be here to guide us instead of being led by Padawan Brask. You know, I’d even go as far as to say that she’s a substandard padawan! Rumour has it that Master Skywalker found her on the street and only took her as his padawan out of pity for her! So she must really suck if she lived on the street before.
I like Padawan Brask though, he seems nice, he’s level headed and he doesn’t spend half his time boasting like Alexa’s been doing. He shows humility, like me! We’re really very similar, we’re both quiet achievers who could do so much more than what we’re allowed to do at our current level. In fact I bet he could help me get to be a padawan quicker if he put in a good word for me with Master Yoda...!
So I went to walk beside Rendal and smiled at him. ‘Hello, Padawan Brask.’ He looked down at me and smiled back.
‘Hello there, Caller. You doing ok? I know it’s a long walk but it’s worth it.’
‘Oh I’m fine with it, I actually really like walking.’ I was lying of course. I didn’t really like walking, I mean who does? I honestly found this sort of annoying. Why didn’t he just land closer? Was this part of the mission? I hope not.
‘Well that’s good then.’ His voice shook me from my thoughts.
‘Yeah... Um how much further are we going?’
‘Not too far now, look up ahead.’ He turned to face forward again and I followed his gaze. Peering through the darkness I could see that not far away stood a huge wall, hardly visible without the daylight to properly illuminate the landscape.
‘That’s where we’re going?’ I asked surprised.
‘Yep.’ He nodded as I glanced up at him.
‘But how are we going to get past the wall?’
‘Have patience and you’ll see.’ He replied and I sighed, this was so weird!
Falling back a few steps I focused on just going forward, the movement keeping the cold from seeping into my bones. This place really was an iceberg in the middle of space as my laboured breathing showed as the vapour hung in the air in front of my face like a small could. I smirked, this was certainly going to be an interesting challenge and I wondered exactly what was in store for us.
We eventually came to stop in front of what looked like a giant ice wall and I looked at Rendal in confusion. ‘This is it?’
‘Yep. We’re here guys.’ He nodded.
‘Huh?’ The younglings looked at him as though he was crazy.
‘Ok Rendal, so how are we getting over it?’ I asked.
‘We aren’t exactly going over it Alexa... Everyone reach out with the Force, we have to work together in order to part it like a door.’
The younger kids looked at each other in surprise as though they believed that even with the power of the Force we wouldn’t be able to move the wall. But, if there was one thing I had learnt during my meditative training it was that the only thing that held the Force back it was your willingness to believe in it.
‘Well let’s give it a shot then.’ I nodded and closed my eyes, extending my hand as I reached out with the Force. Before long I sensed the younglings doing the same and we all grouped together, focussing our energy on moving the wall. My face moved into a frown as we struggled to move the huge block of ice, boy was it heavy!
But we did it! We parted the wall and smiled at each other when we saw what we’d done. Yes! One part down just a tonne more to go, we can do this! I grinned at Rendal who smiled in return and I couldn’t wait to move on to the next challenge.