|The Edge of Light and Dark
Author: LMSharp PM
Aithne Morrigan awoke in her underwear when the Sith began firing on the Endar Spire. KotOR1, LSF Revan, will go AU at the end. Improved and reposted!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Revan - Chapters: 50 - Words: 327,254 - Reviews: 72 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 12-30-12 - Published: 01-22-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7766050
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: The place and people are still not my own. *Sigh* Life is so unfair.
Aithne spent the beginning of voyage to Dantooine comforting Mission. The girl was in shock for the first three days. She didn't speak a word, only ate when food was forced upon her, and every so often she would collapse, shaking silently, tears streaming down her face. Aithne held her. But when Mission started talking after that, Aithne very soon realized she wasn't what the girl needed. She started talking about everyone that had died, and Aithne didn't know them. She didn't know Mission herself very well.
The fourth day, Aithne went to the cockpit, helpless, unsure what to do. The girl's silent tears had turned to violent sobs, and she was yelling in Twi'leki every so often about Malak, and the people that had died. Carth took one look at Aithne, put the ship on autopilot, instructed Bastila to watch the cockpit, and strode away, shoulders and jaw tight. He went to find Zaalbar. Then the two of them went to Mission. After that, things got better, a little. Carth understood what it was to lose a homeworld, to see everything you knew destroyed. Zaalbar understood Mission. Together, the two of them did a much better job of comforting Mission than Aithne could have done alone. But every night, she still held the girl's hand when she woke up screaming with the nightmares. Aithne knew they'd never leave, but she could help, for a while.
Aithne spent the remainder of the days on the Hawk after that avoiding Bastila. The Jedi woman was beginning to unnerve her with her strange looks. She kept mentioning things like "Force Adept" and "great destiny". Aithne didn't want to come within twenty kilometers of that quagmire. But she had yet to decide what she would do when they landed on Dantooine. She didn't think there was a Republic base there. Carth would need to go to the Republic base- and Aithne thought she wanted to join him. After Taris she was committed to this war, press-ganged or not. But she didn't own the Hawk. Technically, none of them did, but if anyone had claim to it, it was Canderous. She'd have to find a way for Mission, Carth, Zaalbar, and herself to get to a Republic base and away from the Jedi, without a ship.
While she mulled it over, Aithne tinkered with T3-M4 and conversed with Canderous on what it meant to be a warrior. His insights were sometimes barbaric, and sometimes cruel, but they were nearly always thought provoking. Aithne felt herself growing under his instruction, coming to better understand what she thought of war, and of herself.
Finally, about a week and a half after Taris, just as they were coming to the end of their supplies, Carth announced they were coming into Dantooine. As they flew in over the planet, Aithne caught a glimpse of beautiful green prairies swaying in the breeze. A flock of birds flew overhead as Carth landed the ship inside the walls of the Jedi Enclave. Aithne felt the walls close in about her, and reflected that she'd have to confront Bastila now. It was, after all, on the Jedi girl's orders that they'd flown to Dantooine at all. Aithne sighed, and wearily strode to the front.
Bastila was standing, looking out the front window, when Aithne found her. Carth was fiddling with some instruments, parking the Ebon Hawk and powering her down. "Dantooine," Bastila said. "It seems like a lifetime since I last set foot on her surface, though in truth it has only been a few months. We should be safe from Malak here."
Aithne shot her a skeptical glance, and Bastila added, "For now, at least."
Carth still had doubts. "Safe?" he said incredulously. "You saw what his fleet did to Taris: there wasn't a building over two stories high left standing! They…they turned the planet into one big pile of rubble."
Bastila tossed her head proudly. "Even the Sith would think twice before attacking Dantooine. There are many Jedi here, including several of the most powerful Masters of the Order. There is great strength within this place."
"Whether there is or not, we need a rest," Aithne put in.
"We can get supplies here and recuperate," pressed Bastila. "The Academy is a place of mental and spiritual healing; something we could all use after what we've been through."
Carth nodded. His eyes flickered to the back, and Aithne knew he was thinking of Mission. "Maybe you're right," he admitted. "It isn't easy to witness the annihilation of an entire planet. I know Mission's taking it pretty hard."
Bastila shrugged. "She will find a way to come to terms with her grief. She is stronger than she appears. We just need to give her time."
Carth's face went empty, and Aithne bristled at Bastila's callousness. She rounded on the Jedi. "Whether she is or not, she's seen everyone and everything she's known since before she can remember go up in flames! That girl will have nightmares for the rest of her life; they've already started! And whether or not she comes to terms with her grief, she will carry it forever! And you say we should just 'give her time'!"
Bastila's cheeks colored ever so slightly. "Forgive me," she said. "That was inconsiderate of me."
Aithne snorted. "Inconsiderate," she repeated mockingly.
"I will try to be more sensitive in the future," Bastila said.
Aithne sighed. Bastila seemed earnest. In a quieter voice, she said. "You better, Bastila. You just better. We're all that girl has now. We can't leave her alone in this." She took a deep breath. "So. What are we doing now?"
Bastila looked pensive. "I must go speak with the Jedi Council," she said. "I need their advice on…recent developments. After I have met with them I will need you, Aithne, to meet me outside the ship."
"Why?" Aithne demanded, but Bastila was already striding out of the room. In the distance, Aithne heard the hatch being lowered, and Bastila was gone. She began to shake.
"Force," she said, kicking the copilot's chair. "I hate it when people do that! She is so annoying!"
Carth laughed. "Take it easy on the ship, beautiful. What, is she more annoying than I am?"
Aithne smiled tightly. "Oh, you can beat her out any day, Carth, but see, I like you. And you're not trying to make me into some stupid Jedi and drag me off on some foolish crusade!"
"Is Bastila trying to do that?" Carth asked, faintly amused.
Aithne just looked at him. He stopped smiling, seeing she was serious. He stood. "Is she?"
Aithne shook her head in confusion. "I don't know. I just don't know. It's just- I get these feelings. Like with Canderous, remember?"
Carth inclined his head. Aithne continued. "And weird dreams and visions, too. I used to only have them every few years, no big deal. But since I met her, it's been happening more and more."
"It's probably nothing, Aithne," Carth said.
"Maybe," Aithne admitted, "But when Bastila listed her reasons for stopping on Dantooine just now, she said we could get supplies. As in, for the Hawk. As in…"
"As in she expects us to continue to travel together," Carth finished. He now looked faintly bothered as well. "Is there anything else?" He didn't look dismissive anymore.
"Just now," Aithne said, "When she said she wanted to talk to the Council about recent developments? I think she was talking about me."
"A little full of ourselves, aren't we?" joked Carth.
Aithne shook her head violently. "Carth, I'm serious," she said. "I think Bastila wants something from me. You told me yourself she requested me aboard the Spire. She had to have had a reason. She keeps saying I'm Force Sensitive, that I need to talk to the Council. And I think she knows something she's not telling me."
Carth's eyes searched Aithne's face, and his eyebrows rose. "You're really nervous about this, aren't you?" he asked, surprised.
Aithne nodded. "You don't mess around with the Jedi. I don't like them. Never have. And I hate not knowing what they want from me."
Some minute struggle seemed to pass over Carth's face. Slowly, as if not quite sure it was the right thing to do, he brought his arms up, and drew Aithne to him. He was very stiff at first, but Aithne relaxed into him immediately. Carth made her feel safe, somehow. She buried her face into his shoulder, inhaling the leather smell of that awful orange flight jacket, and felt him relax around her.
His hand rubbed a small, comforting circle on her back. The motion was natural, this time, right. "It will be alright, beautiful," Carth promised her. His voice rumbled against Aithne's cheek. "I don't know how, or when, but it will be alright."
Aithne looked up at him. "I don't know why, flyboy, but I believe you," she said. Carth smiled crookedly down at her, and Aithne stepped away, smiling back up at him gratefully. "Hey. Thanks for all you've done since the crash. Helping me out, saving my life on multiple occasions, looking out for Mission…"
"You don't…" Carth began.
Aithne cut him off. "I know I don't have to thank you. But I want to. Soldier, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty."
She turned away to walk back to the dormitory to await Bastila's call. As she left, she felt Carth's eyes on her back.
An hour or so later, the call came. Aithne went to meet Bastila, and Carth joined her. Bastila ran out of the Enclave. When she stopped, she didn't even pant with the exercise.
"I have spoken briefly with the Council," she related. "They request an audience with Aithne. We should go at once."
Carth's eyes darted to Aithne. "An audience with the Jedi Council," he repeated, eyes narrowing. "That's pretty rare for someone who isn't even a Jedi. What's this about, Bastila?"
"I'm sorry, Carth, but I cannot tell you," Bastila said, and her honesty chilled Aithne. This was big, if it was confidential enough for the Jedi to exclude war hero Carth Onasi. Exactly who was she to the Jedi? "All I ask," continued Bastila, "is that you trust in the Force and the wisdom of the Council."
"Oh, that's all," muttered Aithne.
"Well I don't like being left out of the loop," said Carth, who hadn't heard her. "But I'm not looking to get you in any trouble with the Jedi Masters. We'll do things your way for a while."
"Come," Bastila said to both of them, "They are expecting us. I will lead you to the Council Chambers."
"Why do I feel like I'm walking into a nest full of kinrath?" Aithne asked Carth as they followed Bastila inside the Enclave. Carth didn't laugh. Neither did Aithne.
The Jedi Enclave was pretty, at least, Aithne noted as she walked through the passages. Green pastures and trees were evenly spaced between picturesque stone walls. The ceilings were high and airy. It was a peaceful sort of place.
"You there, Padawan!" called an angry looking Jedi woman. She had suddenly sprouted up in front of them, and was scowling at Aithne with all her might. "Why are you not wearing the customary robes of the Jedi Order?"
It turned out the woman, a Belaya, had mistaken Aithne for a Jedi Padawan. When Aithne explained that she was not a Jedi at all, but a guest of Padawan Bastila's, the woman calmed and apologized for her rudeness. She mentioned something about Aithne being "strong in the Force," and that "anyone could've made the same mistake," made an awkward excuse, and left.
Aithne was unnerved by the encounter, though. "Why do they keep saying that?" she demanded of Carth. "I'm not a stupid, stodgy Jedi! I'm just an ordinary person!" Several surrounding Jedi shot her dirty looks. Aithne didn't feel at all apologetic.
Carth actually seemed to consider the question. "I don't know," he said. "You do have a certain presence. You seem to succeed at everything you do. At least, everything I've seen. Maybe you should hear them out."
Aithne shifted. "I think I'd rather you take me, Mission, Zaalbar, Canderous, and T3 and fly the Ebon Hawk out of here," she said lowly. "Can't we do that instead?"
"Don't be such a child," Carth teased. But behind his eyes was a hint of seriousness. Aithne ran the last few sentences she'd spoken through her head. She bowed her head. She was being childish.
"Got it," she murmured. "Sorry."
"Don't worry about it," Carth said. "Anyway, they haven't given us supplies yet. We couldn't pack up and leave even if I wanted to. And I'm too curious now to want to."
Aithne glared at him, but refrained from commenting. Carth merely smiled, and bowed for her to continue. They did so, and in a short time they'd arrived outside the Council Chambers. He peered inside.
"Bastila's shaking her head at me," he reported, frowning. "I don't think I'm supposed to go in there. They're waiting for you."
Aithne nodded, suddenly dry mouthed. Carth clapped her on the back, but the gesture did nothing to relieve her fears now, as she stared into the unfathomable heart of the Jedi. What could they possibly want with a twenty-eight year old scout from Deralia? She walked forward, managing by a supreme act of will to keep herself from trembling.
Four very old, male personages in robes waited there with Bastila. The red-skinned Twi'lek addressed her first. "Ah. So you are the one who rescued Bastila," he said kindly.
Aithne swallowed. "What? She actually told you that I rescued her? Imagine that." Her words were unnaturally loud, but she hoped the rudeness would cover her nerves.
Bastila scowled at her, and shook her head warningly, but the Twi'lek just smiled tolerantly. "It is appropriate that you are here," he said. "We have been discussing your rather special case. I am Zhar, a member of the Jedi Council. With me are Master Vrook," here he indicated a tall, thin, old man who was scowling at Aithne as if she were the reincarnation of Exar Kun or something. "Master Vandar," here Zhar indicated an impossible to read little green man, "and of course, the Chronicler of our Academy, Master Dorak." Lastly, Zhar gestured to a dark-skinned man that looked to be in his late forties or fifties. This man, Dorak, looked at her as if he had not yet made up his mind as to who or what she was or what he thought of her. "Padawan Bastila I am sure you are already familiar with," Zhar finished.
The formalities pressed on Aithne like a physical weight. "Cut the make-nice," she said harshly. "What do you want from me?"
"Bastila tells us you are strong in the Force," Zhar explained, though a thread of uncertainty had entered his voice. Aithne grabbed onto it like a lifeline. "We are considering you for Jedi training."
So it was that. "Don't," Aithne told the Twi'lek plainly. "I have no wish to be a Jedi."
Zhar smiled, as if she could not possibly mean it. Most people jumped at the opportunity to join the Order, Aithne knew. "Do not worry," he said, all confidence back in his voice, "I am confident in your ability to learn."
The sour looking Vrook quickly cut in. "Master Zhar speaks out of turn perhaps. We need indisputable proof of your strong affinity to the Force before we would even consider you for training."
"Do you?" Aithne said quickly. "Sorry, Master Vrook. There's nothing to see here. Guess this whole meeting is a waste of your time."
Bastila glared at Aithne. "Proof?" she asked Master Vrook. "Surely the entire Council can feel the strength of the Force within this woman. And I have already related to you the events that took place on Taris…" She would have continued, but an unperturbed Vrook cut her off.
"Perhaps it was simple luck."
"Of course it was luck," Aithne said.
Zhar gently corrected Vrook. "We both know there is no luck. There is only the Force. We all feel the power in Bastila's companion, though it is wild and untamed," he continued. "Now that this power has begun to manifest itself, can we safely ignore it?"
Vrook was unconvinced. "The Jedi training is long and difficult, even when working with a young and open mind. Teaching a child is hard. How much harder will it be for an adult to learn the ways of the Jedi?"
This time Vrook's skepticism stung. But the bigger issue was that no one was listening to her. Aithne crossed her arms. "You people aren't getting it," she told them. "I'll make this easy for you to understand." Slowly, clearly enunciating every sound, Aithne repeated, "I don't want to be a Jedi. I'm fine just the way I am. Thanks for the offer. Really." She paused. Then she looked at Master Vrook. It was impossible to resist. "But, Master Vrook," she added, "Allow me to say that if I did want to train as a Jedi, my age would not hinder me."
"Such pride!" cried Vrook, almost triumphantly. "Such arrogance! This one is already on the path to the Dark Side!"
"As are many who are not given proper training, Master Vrook," said the little green elf man in a high, creaky voice. "Only through our guidance can we hope to lead those who have strayed back to the path of the light." There was an undercurrent to his voice that made Aithne stop fuming for a moment and pay attention.
"Traditionally the Jedi do not accept adults for training," put in Master Dorak. "There are rare exceptions in the history of our Order, however, and you are a special case."
That's the second time they've said that, Aithne thought. What makes me special? Why are they considering me at all? She decided to listen a bit longer in hopes that they would tell her.
"I agree with Master Dorak," said the diminutive Master Vandar. "Many of our own pupils are leaving the Jedi Order to follow the Sith teachings. We need recruits to stand against Malak! With Revan dead…"
But Vrook interrupted him angrily. "Are you certain Revan is truly dead? What if we undertake to train this one, and the Dark Lord should return?"
"What are you talking about?" Aithne asked curiously, unable to restrain herself. "Revan's dead. Bastila killed Revan, right?"
Master Vandar's mouth tightened. He shot what could have been described as an annoyed look at Master Vrook, were members of the high and mighty Jedi Council allowed to feel such trivial emotions as annoyance.
"We should discuss this matter more fully in private," he said to Master Vrook, completely ignoring Aithne's questions. "Bastila, you and your companion must go. This is a matter for the Council alone."
"Wait, you can't just drop something like that and just expect me to leave! Is Revan alive or…"
"As you wish, Master Vandar," Bastila cut her off. "We shall return to the Ebon Hawk and leave you to your deliberations." Her voice was loud, and final. Aithne glared at her, and Bastila bowed and beckoned to Aithne. Fuming, Aithne followed her.
"Scout Morrigan," Bastila hissed as she walked Aithne back to their ship. "What can you possibly be thinking? You simply cannot speak to the Jedi Council in that manner!"
This made Aithne so mad she stopped. They were in the courtyard now, in front of the Ebon Hawk. Aithne turned to face her, hands on her hips. "It was your idea to take me in there," she stated. "Now, I fully accept that you cannot speak to the Jedi Council in that manner. They are your masters. They are not mine. I am not a Jedi. I am not under the Council's jurisdiction. And, may I repeat, I have no intention of ever being under their jurisdiction."
"But…" Bastila began.
"I am a scout in the Republic Fleet," Aithne continued mercilessly. "And as soon as I find a Republic Base I shall sign up for active duty and fight Malak and the Sith in the best way I know how. You can stay here with your Jedi and your masters and your destiny, wasting time, as long as you care to.
"Jedi Shan, you have dropped cryptic hints about my destiny and Force sensitivity while all the time being of precious little use to anyone. I have no idea what you or the Jedi Council wants with me. I can see no possible military or strategic advantage the Order would gain from wasting time and resources training a twenty-eight year old scout with authority issues. I personally, as I have stated several times, have absolutely no desire to be a member of the Jedi Order, though your precious Council seems to care little for whether I wish to be recruited or not.
"Neither you nor the Council have considered my objections. You have been most unsatisfactory in the trivial matter of answering the questions I need to have answer to in order to plan my future. I see no reason to bother further with any of you. I am very happy to have been of service on Taris. I'm sure the entire Fleet is glad you aren't dead or captured. But if you'll pardon me, the very instant I receive supplies and clearance to take off, Carth Onasi, Mission Vao, Canderous Ordo, the Wookiee Zaalbar, the droid T3-M4, and I will take the Ebon Hawk, which belongs jointly to Canderous and myself as we jointly undertook the task of procuring it from Davik Kang, and we shall leave for the nearest Republic outpost. I wish you well, Jedi Shan. May the Force be with you, and all that. Good day."
By the time Aithne finished this tirade, Bastila looked about ready to cry. Aithne felt a bit guilty. Lip trembling, face pale, Bastila stepped forward. "Aithne, I am, as you have said, under the Council's jurisdiction," the girl said carefully. "But, I swear on the Force, it was never my idea to keep you ignorant of anything. Our own Jedi Code states that there is no ignorance, but knowledge. Unfortunately, I am under orders not to reveal anything to you. I apologize, but I must do my duty.
"As for your Force Sensitivity, your destiny, you yourself have felt it. Your visions, the strangely accurate feelings you have about people and events, they are the Force in you. You know this is true." She raised her eyes to Aithne's. "You are not a stupid woman, and I feel your conviction of this.
"I do not know what personal antipathy you may have for the Jedi Order, but I do know you want to stop Malak and the Sith. As a scout, you can only do so much. With Jedi training, you may be able to make a genuine difference: you may be able to help stop Taris and Telos from happening once again. And I know you harbor a dislike for me, but I shall not go. When you saved me from the Vulkars, our fates were tied. I shall see this through to the end." Bastila scanned Aithne's face, hesitating, then nodded. "And I know that you will, too."
She stood there, bold as brass in the bright midday sun of Dantooine, daring for Aithne to disagree with her. Aithne looked at Bastila Shan. She saw the Jedi girl's pride, saw her vision for the future, saw her sense of duty, strong enough to prod her to stand up to a woman both older and, judging from the Jedi Council's reactions, stronger than herself. And Aithne felt no anger, only admiration. It felt oddly familiar, this admiration tinged with pity for the young woman in front of her.
Aithne sighed. "Alright," she said. "Come on, then, Bastila. We'll see how this plays out." She held out a hand to Bastila, and Bastila, smiling tentatively, shook it. Together, they walked up the ramp to the Ebon Hawk.
Carth heard Aithne and Bastila come in, returning from the Jedi Council. Once again, he wondered why Aithne had been called in, why he'd been excluded. He'd left as soon as she'd gone in.
When he'd returned to the ship, he had radioed in to Admiral Dadonna. She'd been relieved to see that he'd survived the crash of the Endar Spire, and even more to hear that he was still with Bastila Shan. The Republic wanted to keep tabs on Bastila and her Battle Meditation. He'd been ordered to standby: to guard Bastila and to help her on her mission. Trouble was, Carth didn't know Bastila's mission. But he was fairly certain she wouldn't be in the front any time soon, and Saul Karath would be. Carth cursed quietly.
How long would he have to wait? How long would he be sent here and there babysitting Jedi? He could fight! He wanted to fight. Saul still was out there, and Morgana and Dustil ever looked over Carth's shoulder. All Telos did, crying out for vengeance upon the traitor.
What was Bastila doing? What was Aithne to her and to the Jedi? Carth frowned, remembering Aithne's fears that they were trying to turn her into a Jedi, that no one was telling her anything. He stared out the window. He heard her footsteps on the grating as she came in. "What happened?" he asked, not bothering to turn around.
He heard her sigh, and she swung herself into the co-pilot's seat and swiveled around to look at him. "Most of them want me to become a Jedi. Bastila told them I'm strong in the Force, and apparently, they're low enough on recruits to consider training a twenty-eight year old. They kept calling me a special case. There was this one man, Master Vrook, that looked at me like I was the current incarnation of the Dark Side itself. He didn't want me to be trained. He said I'd be sure to go all Sith on them. Then..." she hesitated. "Then he said something very strange about Revan maybe not being dead."
"But Revan's dead, right? I mean, Bastila herself helped kill the Dark Lord," Carth said.
"I know, but the comment upset the lot of them. They kicked me and Bastila out after that."
Carth nodded slowly. So Aithne was special. Bastila, and the Council, did have an interest in her. "So, what do you think about it all?" he asked.
"I don't want to be a Jedi," Aithne said right away. "I don't like the Jedi Council. But I'm not sure they're going to give me much choice in the end, Carth. If they'll have me, it'll be just like the Republic." Carth remembered. She had been press-ganged. "If they won't, then they won't. But…but Bastila said something about the Force helping me to fight Malak better," she said softly. "I'd like that."
Carth shrugged, impatient. "So, basically, we're playing the waiting game while the Jedi Council argues things out."
"Yes. And meanwhile, I'm going to do some serious thinking."
Carth nodded. "I radioed in to Admiral Dadonna," he confessed. "My orders are to standby and to guard Bastila. She's the key…"
"To the entire Republic war effort, I know," sighed Aithne. "Well, I'm glad you're sticking around, at least for a while."
Her gratitude and relief were plain. Carth frowned. That was another thing. He liked Aithne. He really did. She was brave and strong and brilliant and funny. And frankly, very attractive. There had been a few times since they'd met that had positively unnerved him, like how easily acting like her boyfriend at the Sith party had been, or how much the idea of her death in the race or the Sith base had worried him, or how natural it had been to comfort her, just this morning. He figured she might get the wrong idea if he stuck around with Bastila and her. There couldn't be anything between them, not after everything that had happened to him. Not with where he was going.
She caught his silence, and crossed her arms over her chest, embarrassed. "Well. Okay, then. I'll just be…going, then."
Silently, she left. Carth gripped the sides of the pilot's chair firmly. Maybe she'd gotten the message. So why didn't he feel any better?
Bastila had just sat down on the empty women's dormitory floor to meditate. On her way to it she had passed Mission playing Zaalbar at Pazaak. Though the girl's face was still impassive, it was good to see her doing something approximately normal, though admittedly Bastila hadn't met too many fourteen year old gamblers. She hadn't bothered to search out Canderous. The Mandalorian was rude and crass and seemed to have picked up on Aithne's nickname for her. "Princess" from the sneering mercenary came across much more derogatory than when Aithne said it, however mad she might be at the time.
The floor was cold, but Bastila had learned to be impervious to such trivial things as environment. She slowed her breathing, closed her eyes, and reached out with the Force. She was beginning to search out her surroundings when a veritable nimbus of Force energy came into her space, tangled and seething with emotions: fear, anger, embarrassment, apprehension. Bastila opened her eyes. Aithne.
"Do you mind…do you mind if I join you?" the woman asked hesitantly. She looked slightly sheepish. She hadn't planned on asking. Bastila could tell. She felt Aithne's desperation for peace. Bastila smiled up at her, pleased by the request and the good will it showed.
"Not at all, Aithne," she replied.
Aithne smiled crookedly. "Meditation won't turn me into a Jedi, will it?" The words were joking, but there was real anxiety behind the request.
"No," Bastila told her. "But it may help you to clear your mind. I sense much confusion and anger within you."
Aithne sat down gingerly, crossing her legs as Bastila. She closed her eyes, and her long lashes swept her freckled cheeks, but after a moment, she opened them again, coloring slightly. "So…what do I do?" she asked.
Bastila laughed. It was funny to think that this woman before her, so capable, had not the faintest idea how to meditate. "Very well," she said, holding out her hands to Aithne. "I shall try to help you. Close your eyes again. I'm going to try to feel what you are thinking, and to help you sort through all of the confusion in your head and heart. Try to clear your head of all thoughts."
Entering Aithne's mind was as easy as breathing, and Bastila felt a twinge of worry for the connection between them. It buzzed with activity. She felt the wild, energetic presence of Aithne. A tendril of thought extended towards the main hold, and Bastila squeezed Aithne's hands. "Stop worrying about Mission." Aithne's thoughts focused on Bastila herself, and Bastila almost laughed again as no less than five different schemes to get away materialized in the woman's brain. "And stop planning ways to escape the Enclave."
For a while, Aithne's thoughts drifted, but the activity did not cease, it just waited. Before long, vivid images materialized over the connection. A city in flames, the sound of ships firing, and an ugliness flared up in Aithne. Her hands stiffened in Bastila's. "Stop hating Malak," Bastila instructed her. "He is irrelevant now. He cannot hurt you here, and your hatred for him is doing more damage to you than it is doing to him. Push it aside, Aithne." Bastila felt Aithne confront the ghost-figure in her mind that was Malak, felt her try to humanize it, to remember what Malak once had been. The anger and hatred lessened. Aithne relaxed. She breathed deeply now, and Bastila wondered if she was remembering how to do this. She began to reach out with her mind; Bastila felt her consciousness extend.
"Good," she began, but just then Aithne's consciousness had fixated on something. Bastila frowned. She had not anticipated this. The thoughts Aithne entertained now were distracting at best, and could be fatally problematic at worst. "Aithne Morrigan," she said, more harshly than before. "Stop dwelling on how cute you think Carth Onasi is and wondering whether he likes you or not." Aithne's hands stiffened in hers again, and amazingly, walls sprang to life in Aithne's head. A Jedi Knight couldn't have blocked her out better, Bastila thought. She wondered where Aithne had been going with that train of thought.
"Relax," she said. "I am here only to help you, Aithne. Release your fears and anxieties. Clear your mind, and focus."
The walls stayed up for about a minute, though Bastila could feel her struggling behind them. Then they came down, and Bastila sensed Aithne's mind opening up like a long withered flower being stroked by the first rays of sunlight after the frost. "Yes, feel the Force within you, around you. The Force is within us all."
She felt Aithne's consciousness continue to expand. Bastila went with Aithne, fell into her mind, and together they felt the grasses sway out upon the Dantooine plain. They felt the brush of an iriaz' wing as it stroked through the atmosphere. They felt the feral joy of the kath hound as it ran, unhindered and unchallenged, free as any creature alive. Bastila felt more than she'd ever felt with Aithne, as together they sensed the people moving through the Academy, and saw the fears and loves they tried so hard to keep suppressed. Bastila shied away from them, but she felt Aithne embrace them, and a voice echoed across the link between them. These, too, are part of Life. This, too, is the Force.
Bastila retreated a bit from that vast consciousness, from that Voice, but continued to watch Aithne's mind as it returned to the Hawk. She sensed Aithne encounter the heavy sadness that filled Mission, and Zaalbar's homesickness and anger. Bastila almost fled when Aithne sensed Canderous. His pride and strength screamed in the Dark, Bastila had felt it before, and blocked it off, but Aithne started to embrace it, before recognizing it and moving on. Bastila returned to Aithne's mind as she moved on, sensing the character in the cockpit: the almost choking sadness, anger and desperation that Carth wore like a cloak. But Aithne probed at it, searched out the core that was Carth's Force signature, and Bastila felt Aithne's entire mind give off a single resounding note in response to it. Bastila began to shake, and then the consciousness turned upon her.
And now that entire vast, wild mind was trained upon her. Aithne was looking into Bastila, rather than the other way around. Surprise rang out over the link as Aithne discovered darkness in Bastila's aura, and the fear directed back at her. Aithne probed Bastila's will, the dark thoughts she hid at the back of her mind like shameful secrets. Initially, the mind was indignant. Hypocrite, Aithne called her, but cut it off as soon as it was voiced. Worse, then, infinitely worse, sympathy and understanding came in waves. Aithne squeezed Bastila's hands.
Bastila fled. She erected her own walls, and pushed the invading, sympathetic, enormous presence out. A hurricane of the Force swirled around Aithne. She could feel it. Darkness and Light in almost equal measure. Bastila reached out to find the woman's core. Who are you, really? She was surprised by what she saw there. The two characteristics that seemed to define the woman opposite her were her hunger for knowledge, and her compassion for others. Intelligence radiated off of her in overwhelming waves, and compassion poured forth from the heart of her being like a flood. Bastila was nearly swept away again as she mentally waded in the current. The Jedi Masters had told her of this. She remembered this, from when she was a girl on Coruscant, meditating as the Knights went off to war. This is just like before.
Bastila stood abruptly. "Yes, well, you're doing very well for your first time. That's enough for now, I think," she said, nodding hastily. She nearly ran out of the room.
A/N: I'm not sure about this one, particularly the Bastila POV. How am I doing? R&R!
May the Force Be With You,