Thursday, May 24, 2012
From the holo-dary of Aran Liander: Jedi Apprentice
Today as been one of the longest of my life.
I've trekked for kilometers without rest, I've slept in the rain, in mud, and in my own blood. I've spent weeks trapped in a prison with nothing but tight, silver walls surrounding me. But today is right up there with the most grueling missions I did before the war. The school would have been all right had not the Empire infected it with it's bitter, crushing grip.
I woke up this morning at the wee hours of the morning, the sky still black and a lit with the night-lights of Coruscant's towers. I had tried to go back to sleep, telling myself that I needed more rest than I'd had, but my annoying insides decided to twist themselves into painful knots and keep me awake.
When the holo-clock said 5:30, I got out of bed and quickly got ready, putting on the strange, stiff shirt and pants that Natalie had insisted I wear on my first day. I had asked for a hair cut and it had been granted; it wasn't as short as I was accustomed to it being, but at least it stayed out of my eyes and off my ears. After getting ready and sensing that both my hosts were fast asleep, I decided to make breakfast for everyone. We had learned how to cook at the Temple at an early age and it turned out to be a very important ability, especially if our rations and credits ran out.
After I had everything heating up on the stove, Natalie stumbled in, eyes barely cracked open and hair in a mess on top of her head.
“Rune what are you doing up-wait...did you make breakfast?” Her gray eyes had gone wide in total shock and I nearly kicked myself. How could I have been so stupid?!
“Um...um, yes..I'm sorry, did you want to make it?” The words had fumbled from my mouth in a random splatter and I'd clamped my jaws shut before I could say any more stupid things.
“No, no, it's fine, I'm just surprised is all,” Natalie says, waving me off as she slumps in the chair at the head of the table. I glanced at the cup of caf I'd made her on the table and for a moment debated giving it to her, less I illicit more strange looks. Finally, I decided that I should, so I picked up the cap and handed it to her. Her eyes widened and for a moment I thought I'd made a mistake but instead she took it and smiled at me.
“Why thank you, Rune. You're very sweet.” My face had flushed at the comment and I'd turned away. I've never been called sweet before.
After breakfast, Natalie helped me pack and sent me off to get on the hover-bus stop while she took her speeder to work. The air had been chilly in the early morning and I'd stared at the brilliantly colored sunrise, longingly thinking of my thick Jedi cloak and tunic shoved under my bed.
After riding the crammed-to-overflowing hover-bus, which had been filled with squealing, gossiping, shoving children of all ages, I disembarked in-front of an imposing structure. Swarms of children and teens surged passed me in a dash to the doors, laughs and shouts permeating the air around me. I'd let myself be dragged along with the crowd, finding small passages through the mob, threading around the people as I'd learned from my Master. Soon, I'd reached the door and I entered into the pristine hallways of the school. Every so often, I would see stormtroopers posted at intersections in the hallway, standing so still in their all-encompassing armor that they could have been statues. I ducked my head and continued forward, not entirely sure what I was supposed to be doing.
'Calm down, Aran,' I'd said to myself 'Your a Jedi Knight now. Jedi Knights don't panic.'
Suddenly, a snake-like arm shot towards me, the hand taking my shoulder. I tensed and was just about to jerk away when I saw that the person who'd grabbed me was a spindly, balding man.
“Hey, you're the new kid, Rune, right?” he asked. I nodded and the man began pulling me down the passage, leading me clumsily through the hoards. I pulled away gently, not wanting to appear as strong as I actually was.
“Ummm sir, um, I can follow you.” The man turned to me and shook his head.
“Sorry son, but I'm to bring you straight to the Headmaster's office immediately.”
Keeping my sigh in check, I'd followed the man, who I later learned was Mr. Banzibo, the assistant headmaster. The headmaster was a short, yet imposing, man with long white hair and beard who went on and on about rules in a neutral tone; his eyes never met mind, instead, focusing on a point above my head. After hearing the rules, like no fighting, no smoking, no drugs, no blasters or detonators, to anti-imperial propaganda or anything Jedi related, Mr. Banzibo took me to my class; at the mention of the Jedi, I'd felt a violent fluctuation of illness puncture into my stomach and I'd had to make myself focus as Mr. Banzibo to my first class.
The morning passed pretty smoothly. I didn't answer too many questions in my first class, which was history; instead, I listened to hear what lies the imperials were implementing into the schooling system. Apparently, according to the empire, the Jedi had lied to everyone and had actually started the Clone Wars in the first place and were the cause of every woe the galaxy had endured. Forcing myself to not say a word against such blatant lies, I'd typed what was being said into the small datapad on my desk. The girl next to me, a tall, skinny girl with long, scarlet hair, seemed to be staring at what I was doing and I slowed down, realizing that I might be pointed out as having a good memory; I could not let that happen. After the class had ended, I'd risen quickly, scooping up my datapads and pack and headed for the door.
“Hey....Rune, is it?” I turned to see the red-haired girl making her way towards me through the milling children, clutching her pack tightly to her chest. I nodded and gestured for her to continue.
“My name is Kayla, Kayla Brimstone,” she said, sticking her hand out to me. I reached out and shook it. She pointed towards the datapad in my hand.
“I saw you taking notes earlier today and you were wizardly fast. How did you learn to do that? It was amazing.” My mouth dried and I had to fight the urge to flee. Taking a breath, my mind reeling, trying not to panic, I forced a smile onto my face, hoping it didn't look fake or anything.
“Yeah..thanks. Well, um, well, I learned it from, well, you know, from my parents.” The words, especially those about parents, felt ripped from me and a dark, pulsing burn began at the back of my eyes. Kayla..Kayla?; Kyla, friend who is now gone. A sweat rose upon my skin.
“Um, I have to go, nice meeting you,” I said, smiling at the girl once again before I practically leaped through the doorway. The next class passed pretty much the same way, except that the person sitting next to me, a silent, brooding Togruta, didn't appear interested at my speed on the datapad.
Then the bell rang for lunch and I began to make my way in that direction. I was about just about there when I heard a shout,a giant slam and cry of pain. I looked up and, towards the end of the hallway, I saw a group of teens chanting 'Fight, fight, fight!' like some crazy spectators about to watch some poor creature fight another poor creature to the death. I rushed towards the group, picking up on the Force to keep me from hitting anyone. In the middle of the circle of chanters, stood three stockily-built humans, a small, near-human male lying at their feet, his soft, feminine features bloodied and bruised. I picked up speed, dropping my datapads into a cascade, and shrugging out of my pack. I shoved through the chanters, not caring if I hit anyone in the stomach with my elbow.
Once I reached the clearing, I dropped to my knees beside the near-human, who I realized was a Mirlian; his skin had paled to sickly yellowish-green and he looked to be wavering into unconsciousness.
“It's okay, you'll be okay, I'll take care of you,” I said, ripping some cloth from my shirt to staunch the blood running down the boy's broad forehead. One of the bulky humans stepped towards me and I looked up, arms bared, ready to defend myself against any sort of assault. The human, who looked like the leader of the three bullies, glared down at me with blank, yellow-black irises, a Imperial insignia tattoo blazing on his bulging bicep.
“Punk, back away from looser boy here, you don't want to waste with the likes of him. Right.”
“What do you think you're doing, picking on someone so much smaller than you?” I demanded, fighting the anger that was awash inside me.
“Are you guys cowards or something? Why can't you pick on someone your own size.” The boy's over-sized, lumpy head turned beet-red, his eyes huge fury. His fist swung at me like a sloppy pendulum and I easily dodged it, gently lifting the now-moaning victim to the side so that I was in-between the bullies and him.
“You think your so hot, do ya, newbie? Well, I'll be nice to you just this one and let it slip. Now, stand aside and let this sniveling little whelp get what he deserves.”
My blood ran with fire and I forced myself to breath in deeply.
'There is no emotion, there is peace.' I shook my head.
“No.” A wide, cruel grin broke across the leader's face and he shuffled forward, gesturing for his two friends to join him.
“Fine then.” His foot came flying at me and I dodged, rolling to the side and shooting into a standing position.
“You can end this. Stand down,” I said, putting as much forcefulness into my voice as I possibly could. I wished I could use a mind trick on these three but I knew it wouldn't help matters in the slightest. The bullies all broke out into raucous guffaws, pointing and sniggering at me like I was some sort of minstrel brought in for their amusement.
“No, no, you don't understand, you little punk; it doesn't work that way, you see.” He flexed his left arm, the ugly, marring tattoo rippling along his muscle. I clenched my fists, keeping my breathing rate even and calm; I knew I couldn't use the Force, lest they have a Force-meter in this school, so I'd have to fight these three with only my knowledge of hand-to-hand combat.
“You see, we're the leaders here. No matter what the teachers tell you, we see everything and everyone listens to us. And if you want to stay in our good grace, you'd better leave right now.”
I sighed; I hadn't wanted to bring attention to myself here but it looked like I didn't have a choice.
“This is your last chance,” I said, narrowing my eyes at them. The leader's face darkened, his eyes mottled viciousness made manifest against his skin. He cracked his knuckles and charged at me, his cronies following along behind him. The three were the lousiest fighters I have ever come across; their balance was horrendous and their punches incorrect and sloppy. In fact, the majority of Jedi younglings could have taken on these three barves easily.
I ducked and weaved, blocking the kicks and punches they launched at me, sometimes sending in attacks of my own; upset punches doubling them over temporarily and upper cuts sending their heads cracking backwards. One such strike sent the leader stumbling back and falling flat on his back.
He heaved himself to his feet, his face pale and stretched, his jaws looking slightly swollen.
“You kriffing barve, you will pay,” he growled, launching himself at me with vigorous violence. I snapped my hands out before me and when he was within arms length, I took two fistfuls of his sharp-looking shirt and tossed him behind me. I used the Force slightly to cushion his fall. I turned to see the bully scrambling to his feet, spluttering in petrified, furious shock. I sensed it before I heard their footsteps and as I spun around, I could see, as if in slow motion, the leader's two friends flying towards me. I quickly side-stepped them and they crashed into the floor, tangling with their leader, furious roars issuing from the knot of bipedal limbs.
“What is going on here?” a stormtrooper demanded, coming over towards us. Panic flared up inside me and I averted my gaze.
“Uh,um,uh, sir, these guys were picking on him and I told them to stop and they started to fight me.” The stormtrooper's helmeted head swung from me, to the sniveling, human knot, to the small, battered boy sitting up.
“One demerit for the both of you,” he said at last, gesturing to me and the small boy.
“What?” the shout of denial ripped itself from my chest and the trooper swung towards me, it's eyeless mask looking just as evil as that of Darth Vader. A shiver ran down my spine, but I didn't let it show.
“You two picked a fight with the honorable Imperial Youth Instructors here. Their job is to search for eligible youth to enlist into the Imperial Academy. And you have disruped their lively hood.”
“But they were BEATING UP an innocent person who had done them no harm. How can you-”
The blaster swung towards me and I froze, terror zinging through me.
'Dead. So many dead.'
“We are the Empire and if a part of it is weak, it is lopped off. Back in the days of the Republic, we cared for the weak and look where it led us- ruin. The galaxy is now the realm of the strong. These boys had every right to beat this boy.” He nudged the gun towards my face and for a moment I was tempted to reach up and pluck it from the stormtrooper's clenched fists. My blood boiled as the stormtrooper and the smug trio of bullies walked off. The crowd began to fade away, looking slightly afraid of me and slightly disappointed that the fight had ended. I went over to where the bullied child was cowering, head bowed. I reached out to touch his shoulder but he batted my hand away, his eyes aflame.
“Don't touch me. Don't you see? You've made it worse. Much worse.” He stood and began to run, limping and softly weeping. A prickling of tears had risen into my eyes. Even as a normal individual, no one wanted my help anymore. My duty, which I had hoped to be able to cling to, seemed to be slipping like water through my fingers.
Numbly, I had went and retrieved my dropped items and had went through the rest of the school day in a daze, all the kids giving me weird looks the entire day. No one spoke to me and even though that's what I'd hoped for, I was still lonely, which was something I wasn't used to feeling.
I hate this new life. I wish I could go back but there is no good in wishing; like my Master always said, if you want something to be changed, be the first to do it.
I had to lie to Natalie and Ben today at dinner and now, as I finish writing this entry, I dread tomorrow and all that it will bring.
May the Force be with us all