Star Wars

by Alicia G

Chapter One

Thinking back, I never thought any of it would matter. Growing up under the watch of my master, Firith Ven, who would always tell me, "Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past, are doomed to repeat them." Very original; yes I know. It was perhaps one of the rare times he got philosophical as well. Perhaps his straight forwardness is what warmed him to me. It certainly wasn't his non-existent caring demeanor, at least non-existent in the sense he never let it show.

The transport to the planet where Ven resided was empty. I remember how strange it felt; the solitude. Up until then, there had always been people around. The other younglings in my clan, our caretakers, and the Jedi who had made the temple on Coruscant their home. Now my only companion was Master Yoda, who had taken up the task of introducing me to my new master. I didn't know yet what exactly I was getting myself into. All I knew was I had been chosen, the first of my clan, to begin my apprenticeship. Only Firith Ven didn't know about me yet.

~ * ---- * ~

The sun gleamed down brightly onto my face with the promise of many more such days. The shuttle landed in a rather large clearing in the middle of a dense forest on a backwater planet. Off to the side, half hidden by some brush, was a small well maintained freighter. Proof we had come to the right place. Looking around I wondered why a Jedi master would choose here, of all places, to live.

"Nothing to fear there is." Master Yoda said, walking down the ramp to stand beside me. He leaned heavily on his cane as he did so. To the casual observer one might think he was too old to be gallivanting across the galaxy. Especially on such a trivial mission such as this.

"I'm not afraid, Master." I intoned automatically, and it was the truth. I wasn't afraid. Just... Uncertain. Beside me Master Yoda laughed quietly, sharing in some private joke. He began walking away from the shuttle toward a path I had not seen. Like the clearing, it had the feeling of being unnatural. Made for the sake of convenience and need, not by the travels of creatures. I kept pace easily with Yoda, my short legs more than enough to keep up with his awkward gait. The slow trek gave me ample time to study my new surroundings.

Under the thick foliage of the trees, the sun no longer glared down on us. The trees themselves reached endlessly into the sky. My neck began to hurt as I looked up and up. Rubbing the kink out of it I set my eyes into the distance around me. Off of the path the thick brush hid signs of the fauna which inhabited this forest planet.

This was going to take some getting used to. All this green. All the life. Everything was different than the presences I had grown used to on the metropolis planet of Coruscant. The temple was a serene sanctuary in the bustle of the planet. Here it was different. I was suddenly struck by how quiet it was. None of the city noises I had grown so acquainted with existed here.

My observations of my new environment came to a halt when we reached another clearing, smaller this time. Set in the middle was a one story structure and around the clearing was a wooden palisade. Everything made from the cleared trees, obviously nothing going to waste. Beside the structure was a pile of wood, possibly left over from the construction. A plume of smoke rose from a stone chimney.

And there standing in front of his home, was my new master. Firith Ven. A Twi'lek of later years, he had hoped to find some peace on this planet for one reason or another. Even from a distance I could see his lekku twitch in irritation at our arrival; defying the calm demeanor he was exhibiting.

As we grew closer he seemed to master his traitorous lekku and addressed us. "Master Yoda, what an unexpected surprise."

"Unexpected perhaps. Inevitable a visit it was." Yoda stopped just in front of the Twi'lek, leaning on his cane placed firmly in the turf in front of him. "An apprentice it is time to take."

Ven looked between Yoda and me, his red tinted skin turning a darker shade which contrasted significantly with his brown spots. For a moment I could sense his frustration and anger, and then it was gone. Yoda looked up at me, urging me to introduce myself.

Unsure I took a step forward and bowed to Ven. "I am Marina, Master," my voice came out small. His gaze seemed to bore into me as he considered me, but I held my ground. I didn't want to show him that suddenly I was afraid.

"Master... Are you sending all padawans out for training as young as she?"

"Chosen by the council she was to be your apprentice. Ready she is to start training." I had taken a step backward and was starting to fidget under Fen's gaze.

"She is too young, what is she eight?"

"I'm ten, Master." The fact they were speaking about me as if I wasn't there had begun to irritate me. At my outburst I looked down at the ground, suddenly very interested in the cleared earth.

"Hmph. Not much better. Master Yoda, there must be someone better suited to take on this youngling as their apprentice."

"A good match this is. Well suited to each other you are."

Ven was quiet for a long moment; I took this moment to look up again to study more of the surroundings. Ven was studying me. His expression was hard to read, but I knew he wasn't entirely thrilled with the situation. I was being forced on him and he didn't care for it one bit. With this thought I looked back at the ground, refusing to be affected by this turn of events. Fear he would not accept me and I would be turned away began to fill me anyways.

"If this is the wish of the council... So be it." With those words I had looked up. He was still watching me. "But I take her on against my conscience." With a sigh he stood to the side of the entrance to the structure. "I was brewing a pot of tea, please come share it with me." He made a motion welcoming us both inside.

"Regretful I am, Stay I cannot, leave I must." Yoda turned to me slightly. "May the Force be with you."

Nodding, Ven accepted this news and looked to me expectantly. "Good bye, Master," I said to Yoda, bowing to him in farewell. Taking the few steps forward over the threshold, I prepared myself for my new life.

~ * ---- * ~

It didn't take long to realize Ven was a man of habit. He had long ago set up a routine and he wasn't about to let the appearance of a new inhabitant ruin it. Instead I was expected to adapt, and adapt I did. Rising at dawn, he would make porridge from plants he had foraged or harvested from the garden. We ate together in silence before he would leave to go about his other tasks. Every day without fail, he would maintain the garden which provided the bulk of our food, pull any intruding brush from the clearings, and every so often he would check on the freighter. At times when we were low on meat he would be gone for most of the day. He traveled to distance parts of the forest, searching for large herds of game. When he had completed his tasks, I would often see him reading from a datapad on the lawn in front of his house. Beside him was another which he used to write notes. Sometimes I could hear him muttering in a tongue I couldn't understand.

For the most part I was left to my own devices. Ven had indeed agreed to take me on, but so far that hadn't included any sort of training. My time outside of the few chores I took was spent exploring the dense forest and listening. I also spent time observing the different fauna in the immediate area. The most curious and probably most terrifying was a feline like predator With a large set of teeth it also sported large, powerful set of paws. The creature was remarkably fast, and from my observations, intelligent as well. I was oddly fascinated by the creature and I watched from a distance as one such specimen went about its life. It was a challenge to avoid the creature, but one I enthusiastically accepted.

"Uh oh." I found myself suddenly backed onto the ledge of a cliff. Beside me the roar of the waterfall deafened the snarls of one the felines I had been so careful to avoid up till now. Apparently, not careful enough. I had been too preoccupied with a flock of birds I had found nesting in a nearby tree that I had forgotten to keep my senses open for this predator. Now I was pinned. Stealing a glance, I peered over the edge of the cliff to the large lake below. Fed by the waterfall, I knew the lake below me was deep, but would it be deep enough? The feline before me moved, crouching, prepared to pounce. My left hand hovered over the hilt of the lightsaber I carried. I had two options.

So I made a choice. Without a second thought I leapt off the edge of the cliff, angling myself toward the waterfall and the lake below. The thrill of the free fall left me momentarily breathless. Then the stupidity of my action caught up with me. I resisted the urge to panic, and instead concentrated on the water below me. The jump had been true; I was falling swiftly toward the lake. Then the breath was knocked from me again as I hit the water. Hard. Disoriented I could no longer tell which way led to the surface. My lungs started to burn, denied the oxygen they needed. I summoned what control in the Force I had to help sustain me, but it did very little. Spots began to blur my vision making it increasingly difficult to discern where I was.

Then I was out. As my head broke the surface of the water, I took in a greedy gasp of fresh air and coughed as it stung my deprived lungs. It took me a moment to recognize the presence of an arm wrapped around my waist. I turned my head slightly to see the disapproving expression on Ven's face. He was dragging me toward the shore and not until he had deposited me on dry land did he finally speak.

"Are you alright, Marina?" The calm tone shocked me, not to mention I was expecting him to berate me for the stupid stunt I had just performed.

"Yes, Master...." My voice came out raspy; I coughed trying to clear it. "Thank you."

"What were you thinking?" He didn't sound angry, nor did the disapproval I had seen in his expression earlier come through in the question. Curiously, he sounded genuinely concerned.

"One of the predators pinned me at the top of the falls, Master." I coughed again. "Jumping was the only way out of having to fight it."

"You risked yourself instead of having to fight the rinx?"

"It was only doing what was natural to it... No reason to harm it for that." I shivered; the water had been colder than I had originally believed. I took off the jacket I had been wearing and tried to squeeze as much of the water out of it as I could.

Not for the first time did his gaze make me uncomfortable as he considered me. Though, he hadn't looked at me like this since I had arrived with Master Yoda almost a month ago. This time, I didn't look away. Instead, I looked him in the eye. His red and my dark blue eyes locked gazes and held. I waited.

"Hmph, perhaps you aren't too young after all."

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