Rí’s arrival at the orphanage swallowed the last vestiges of her old life forever.
Her family was gone.
War had taken its toll on Dagelos as the newly risen Sith Order had again come out of the furthest reaches of space and encroached on the Galactic Republic.
They had gained in numbers because the rule of two instituted by Darth Bane had been discarded, kept only as a safe guard against any Master having more than one Apprentice. But Apprentices were reassigned when they became unruly.
They had also become tired of hiding in the shadows.
Dagelos was not a heavily populated planet but it was abundant in minerals which attracted both sides simply because it was a border world.
Rí’s family were miners until recently. Both her father, mother, and an elder brother simply vanished into the mines after being attacked by a band of Sith.
10 year Rí was not allowed to go just yet. It was the only thing that saved her from dying that day as well.
Once the Sith had sent its army to the surface, Dagelos had at first refused to surrender believing that the Galactic Republic would come to their rescue.
They had…but much too late for many families.
Rí was placed in an orphanage with many other displaced children that no one took the time to notice until the spotlight was on them. Initial promises to ferry the children out had not been kept. Important officials along with anyone who could pay had simply left.
Rí was simply dumped unceremoniously on their door step. Another lost kid.
She moved into the doors hugging her arms to her sides with her small sack of belongings and noticed a group of children gathered around a boy. She moved closer.
Rí had watched fascinated as he tapped out a complicated set of rhythms with two sticks. The rest of the kids had watched too.
Then he looked up and stared at her and missed a beat.
Rí had blushed, but the boy had a serious expression on his face. He finished his set and then tucked the sticks into his pockets.
“Ok, I’m done guys,” he got plenty of groans but the kids melted away. There wasn’t anything else that would make him stand out. His eyes were dark brown, his nose could only describe as hawkish, his hair hung down to his shoulders in an unruly mess.
He came straight to her staring intensely.
“You’re like me,” he said simply. He stared at her and Rí felt her skin crawl.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do,” he insisted. “You’re a Force Sensitive. Like me.”
Rí was stunned. “How can you tell?” She whispered looking around. Rí had never told a soul, not even her parents. She kept it carefully hidden when it started to manifest. It had frightened her.
Especially the nightmares.
“You can sense others,” he said. “At least you will be able to eventually.” He sat back and gave her an even look. “I’ve been hoping the Jedi will show up eventually and take us to Coruscant, or one of the other Temples.”
“Coruscant?” Rí was had never heard of the place. The Jedi were a slightly mythic group to her, dangerous, distant.
“Mining family?” The boy said, lifting an eyebrow.
“Is it that obvious?” Rí looked at the floor.
He shrugged and stuck out his hand, “I’m Klayton.”
“Klayton what?” She took his hand and shook it.
“Just Klayton,” he had distant look in his eyes, and Rí fresh from her own trauma chose not to inquire further. IF she
asked, she probably have to tell Her story. And he already knew too much about her.
“Rí.” She whispered.
“Just Rí,” She replied. “What do we do now?”
“Do?” Klayton paused in his thinking. “I don’t know. I suppose we’ll have to go to the Jedi Temple and train to fight the Sith.”
“Fight them?” Rí was hesitant.
“Follow me,” Klayton grabbed her hand and dragged her off at a run. They left the Orphanage and went out into the city. En Axiom was an active city any time of the day. Although the war had left some unsavory characters about. The orphanage was located in the heart of it. However, it was mostly a shelter.
They knew the Sith were biding their time. People had begun to disappear randomly which only fueled the speculation that they were recruiting.
Klayton scaled a short building a pulled her behind him into an alcove. They both barely fit inside. But from here they could see the whole of the spaceport.
“This is where I like to disappear to,” he announced as if it was something she should already know.
“Ok…” Rí pulled her long dark hair out of her face before tying it back with a leather thong.
“Here hold out your hand,” Klayton instructed.
Rí did so and a Klayton floated a set of reed pipes into her hand. She snatched them out of the air.
She turned to him and smiled and then released the pipes into the air and sent them back to him. Her control was not nearly as good as his and they smacked his face.
“Hey!” he cried grabbing the pipes. But then they both started laughing.
Then the dam broke in Rí and she cried. Klayton remained silent. He put an arm around her shoulders and let her lean into him.
Every kid who came to the orphanage cried at first. Some just took longer than others to break and accept the reality that their lives were not going to be the same again. But kids on Dagelos were used to a tough life. Miners often died, there were plenty of orphans before the war started. Rí was used to hearing the stories of others. Many simply took the kids in and life went on.
Dagelons as they were known were a colorful lot. Many coloring their hair upon reaching adulthood. It was not uncommon to see tattoos on faces and wild hair colors. In the past the marks represented career choices, but today they were simply the legacy of a bygone era when Dagelos possessed a warrior society.
The next few months passed quickly and Klayton and Rí were inseparable. They appeared for all the meals, Klayton played his music for the other kids with Rí watching on the sides. He had discovered she was hopeless in the music department.
Afterwards they would sneak off to the alcove together and practice using the Force or listen to Klayton play his music after a few half-hearted attempts at getting Rí to learn.
Together they would make plans for escaping to the Jedi Temple, plans they knew they would probably never achieve.
Egads, you are never going to learn. Klayton thought towards Rí. She was hopeless with music, but she loved listening to him play.
“I’m not hopeless,” She said without turning around. “I’m pretty sure my talents lie elsewhere.”
Klayton went silent for a moment. You heard that? He thought it at her, at least he hoped it was at her.
“Yeah I did, why?” She turned around pulling her long hair out of her face again.
“How?” She was fascinated. “You weren’t actually speaking out loud?”
“I don’t know...try it!”
Thus came the discovery that they could communicate with a thought. They could never explain it, but each could now sense where the other one was at all times, what they were feeling, although it didn’t extend to exactly what they were thinking. At least Rí couldn’t. Klayton could with an effort pull a thought out of someone’s mind. Rí had threatened him with a telekinetic sandstorm as her talent in making objects move blossomed, if he ever pulled at her thoughts again.
The best way she could describe was that she had a piece of Klayton in her mind, a small link. Each assumed it was a Force ability that all Jedi might have, or learn to have.
And then the Sith came for them.
Rí been not sleeping well the previous days, having nightmares that they were being attacked. Until that day Rí had always assumed that these were the effects of having survived an attack before. Klayton was always been there to talk about it with her.
Until that day.
They’d been in the city when she looked up and saw it. The ship she’d been dreaming about for weeks.
“Klayton.” She’d whispered grabbing his arm. “That’s the ship I’ve been seeing in my dreams!”
“Those aren’t dreams!” He said suddenly staring at her, his eyes were huge as he turned skyward.
“Premonitions…” She said her eyes wide with fear, “But that means, they’re here.”
He looked at her strangely. “You’ve been seeing the future…”
“What does it mean?”
Klayton glanced skyward again. “That it’s going to be very bad.”
They had hidden in the alcove when the attack came. Sith approached so openly and in great numbers. This could only mean a complete takeover.
The problem? Neither Klayton or Rí knew how to hide their presence yet.
They were forced to flee through the streets and it was Rí who was captured first.
A masked Sith had snatched her up by her hair. “I know several who have need of an apprentice,” he’d snarled behind the mask. She’d struggled against the hand. She couldn’t see any other part of him. Run Klayton! she called out mentally, not realizing that she’d pushed it so openly and that the Sith holding her could hear it.
“There’s another,” the one holding her said to someone she couldn’t see.
Suddenly there was an explosion and Rí was thrown to the ground, although she managed to soften the landing, she glanced up in time to see Klayton there between her and another Sith. The first lay on the ground unmoving.
He hadn’t run but stood his ground, his fists clenched at his side. His command of the Force was stronger than hers.
But he was no match for the fully trained Sith who eyed him.
Another explosion rocked the town and suddenly there were Jedi everywhere, and Rí tried calling for help but she just managed a small sob.
The Sith snatched Klayton up and carried him away leaving his unmoving partner in the alley.
Their eyes met, Klayton’s were wide with fear until he noticed that Rí was not hurt or captured. He tried putting on a brave face as he was dragged away.
Go, he mouthed.
But she hadn’t been able to move, she had lain there in the dirt her eyes locked on him, a thousand vows of rescue behind them, her mouth was screaming no and her hands were reaching for him as the Sith fled around the corner and disappeared.
Other arms pulled her roughly up and out of the dirt.
The Jedi, they’d finally come.
“She’s a Force Sensitive.” The first spoke, he was a human male with a collection of scars and eyes that were harsh.
“Please,” Rí finally got out. “You have to save my friend, they took him!”
“They’re gone girl.” He scanned the area keeping his eyes darting around the alleys. “I sense no one.”
“If the Sith have him, they are long gone,” He repeated. He glanced down at her and then turned to his companion, a
Torgrutan female with bright orange skin, and white head points which seemed to flash against the brown robes they both wore.
“At least we got one Force Sensitive.”
Rí felt numb. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Jedi were supposed to be protectors, guardians. Klayton had taught her that much, he’d had so much faith in them. She looked up at the Jedi to her right and hated him.
Hated him for his inactivity.
Hated him for the way he wasn’t even going to try to go after the Sith.
She felt the connection between herself and Klayton when she reached out. He felt frightened. I’m ok, she sent.
She didn’t get an answer. But she felt the connection and held onto it with every fiber of her being. At least for the
moment he was still alive.
And if he was alive, she would find him, she vowed silently to herself.