Timeframe: Old Republic Era Summary: A padawan tries to balance her personal desires with her duties to the Jedi Order. Characters: Many from KotOR 1. A handful of OCs. Themes: Disillusionment, Historical revisionism Rating: PG-13 Spoiler: Table of Contents One (this post) Two Three Four Five Six Seven 7.5 Eight Nine Ten Eleven 11.5 Twelve Entry One I, Bastila Shan, was seven years old when Jedi Knight Vox Aben arrived on Talravin. The night before, I lay in bed and listened to my parents bicker in the next room. They both said "her training" and "her future" more than once. Their emotions seeped through the walls and flowed into my chest. Father felt sad and angry. Mother was frustrated at father, but more powerful was her hopefulness. I could separate the emotions, feel one at time with full capacity, even though the reasons behind them escaped me. The argument faded. I stared at the ceiling, confused at the experience. My empathy for others had been intensifying over the past year and that night was the strongest my visceral feelings had been up until that point. Father quietly entered my bedroom. Sometimes he came to soothe me when he and mother's arguments became too heated. I sat up and stretched my arms wide. He sat down on the bed and hugged me. I felt his anguish, then felt his tears on my cheek. He apologized over and over again. I asked him what he had to be so sorry about. He rocked me back and forth. "You help the flowers in our garden grow, even in the frosty days. They're so beautiful." "I know. Did someone smash all the flowers?" "No, no. Tell me how you make them grow so well." I shrugged. "I sit and send them pleasant thoughts, papa." He explained to me, in his layman interpretation, the concept behind the Jedi Knights and their use of the Force. "They're heroes to the galaxy who use a magic, of sorts." That sounded quite fascinating to my child ears. "What does that have to do with me?" I asked. "Your mother believes you might be able to tap into this magic. She contacted a man who is on his way to see if that's true. And if you do have the potential, then he might take you away from us for a little while." My stomach turned. I clung to my father and whimpered pleadingly. "We'll see how the meeting goes," he whispered. I fell to sleep in his arms for the last time. - - - I rose from bed the next morning, put on my basic sleeveless colonial wear, and tied my hair in pigtails. In the living area, mother sat in her arm-chair reading a datapad and sipping herbal tea. On my way to the kitchen I glanced back to see that she was looking at holo-pics of excavation sites. I found fried meat slices and boiled eggs on the stove. We three seldom ate meals together. Mother was an early riser by nature, and father preferred to sleep until midday when he could get away with it. That morning, though, he was at the kitchen table. We smiled to each other. I partook in my usual routine of eating a handful of food, gulping some juice, then discreetly sifting through the waste-bin beside the counter to look for scraps from last night's dinner. Father saw what I was doing and winked at me. Whenever mother would catch me at this, she would slap my hand and say, "How many times have I told you to stop feeding those diseased monsters?" I slipped the morsels into a bag and sneaked out the back door. The countryside was a living portrait of plains and forests that stretched for leagues in all directions. I looked up that morning to see puffy clouds and long-winged birds. The village Restaw had an almost entirely human population. Lines of squat domed cottages spiraled out from the marketplace at the village center. We resided at the outskirts, thus every morning I took a long jog toward the organic food kiosks where the tooka strays congregated. "Morning, Basti!" A woman called as she handed a bulbous fruit to a customer. "Here to feed the cuties?" She had a tooka that liked to sit on her fruit piles and take playful swipes at people. "Where is the cutie?" I asked. "Ran off across the circle!" She answered. An old man threw spice onto raw animal meat hanging from his stall. He looked at me and scowled as I passed. Where was the tooka that usually pestered the old man? I made my way through the crowd. The closest villagers who recognized me either sent me looks of warning or smiled and patted me on the shoulder. For a child, I had quite the polarizing reputation in the area. Every spot where I would stop to feed a stray was now conspicuously vacant. My concern mounted. And then I felt a calling inside. An order came to me in the form of feeling. My heart buzzed with an energy I had felt often in my seven years of life, in times when I needed to react quickly. I followed the calling to the edge of the village center. . . and stopped. All the tookas were gathered around an alien dressed in a robe. The name of his race escaped me at that age, but I immediately noticed the pure black eyes pointed at me. Tentacles at his jawline writhed. "These creatures are covered in compassion," he said in a gurgling deep voice. "Your doing?" I was at a loss how to respond except to shrug. The robed alien strode toward me and stopped within arm's reach. He gestured at the bag. We knelt down and fed the tookas in silence. People watched us, murmuring about the strange visitor and the behavior of the tookas. "Your choices shall determine too much for my comfort," the alien said. "You're here to see if I can become a Jedi?" "Say farewell to your parents," he said. "Take nothing with you but the clothes you wear." I stood up and stared incredulously at him for a few moments. "No digging tools? I'm sure I can dig up pretty rocks for the Jedi." He insisted that I must leave my parents and possessions behind. I asked why my parents had to stay behind as well, fearing what madness the Jedi could possibly have in store for me. I told him we had our own starship, that we could meet him as a family wherever he wanted. But he remained stubborn. I ran in the direction of home. Instinctively, I reached out with my feelings to attract the tookas, and in seconds they all ran with me. Halfway there, I stopped and looked back toward the marketplace. The animals rubbed against my legs, pawed at my hands, and mewwed lovingly. Then I saw the tentacled man. He broke from the crowd and walked straight for me. I pointed at the Jedi and acknowledged my tookas. "Attack him!"