Armour Of Fire
Crimson. Ruby. Scarlet. Red – the colour of my life. A ruby blade that sliced off my arm as I fought to survive in the poisoned swamp. The scarlet pigment tainting my skin, the colour of raw meat, the colour of my raw emotions, singling me out as an outcast to my race. Crimson blood staining the earth here as we fight and die, one by one, bleeding into the rain. Red – the core of the Dark Side and everything it encompasses in its shadow. And I, along with it. All my Masters warned me of the danger of hate and anger – but they conveniently excluded the part about it being so liberating.
The Jedi Order never truly accepted me. As I was tossed from one Master to another, equally persistent one, it became clear to me that they had given up trying to change me. I had proved too much of a challenge, an annoying, nagging problem, like dirt on the soles of their boots, and I was treated as such. They never felt anything towards me, no compassion like the others feel from their Masters. But I suppose, when you've been through as many as I have, the novelty wears thin.
Glaive was a last resort, an attempt in vain to get me to conform to their misconceptions of peace. He knew the routine as well as I did. No feelings. No emotions. No small talk. I needed to learn. And so I did. His constant drilling, his strenuous exercises, the tedious repetition, tests and preaching eventually gave me an adequate enough grasp of the Jedi ways that he - they – trusted me enough to let me out of the Temple. And that was when it all got out of control.
My stamina was truly put to the test in that swamp on Naboo. The poisonous gases blistered my skin as I fought to keep my life, my eyes weeping from irritation and my strength sapped from me like the leeches squirming around at my feet. I battled on, even after Ventress sliced Glaive's head clean off. I had thought a few times that my blade had fatally injured Durge, that the Order could finally abide to live with me as one of them having conquered an enemy of such stature. But it was never to be. Durge's Gen'Dai physiology was too advanced to take enough damage from a simple being like me to even scratch the surface of his glorified armour. And then Ventress severed my arm. Lying shocked, broken and half dead, I lay in that swamp clutching on to life so hard it hurt. And, finally, I got up and fought back.
Countless times afterwards, such as during the nerve configuration for my new "arm", the brisk debriefing from the less-than-pleased Council and the sinking depression of yet another failed mission, I wondered why I had bothered.
The death of my Master did not even affect me. The other Padawans tried to be sympathetic, but I brushed them off the same way I had been years ago. I knew I didn't belong. I was castaway, even from my own race. The other Faleens that walked by tried to hide their stares. Why is her skin red? Is she so angry inside that it has infected her? Is she a mutant? Were her parents Sith? All the questions, the probing, the poking, the curiosity...I never wanted any of it. I never asked for it. I was an angry person. Why couldn't people accept that? I had never asked them why their skin was the way it was, why they were confined to the Temple, why they were never seen with a Master. The worst ones were those who thought they understood, that they knew how you felt and tried to relate to you. And when people asked me about Glaive, my reply was always the same. I hated the man.
Hate – a word not found flying around the Temple too often. But it was a word I had come to embrace, and it slowly became a large part of me as the days grew longer and darker. I knew what people said about me. That I would bite their heads off if they came near, that I was a misfit and not to be trusted. I know that I have always had a hot temper, like an armour of fire around my soul that would scare of the over-intrepid. One toe over the line, and a heat would rush through me, warming me from the inside out and causing me to lose all inhibitions and let people know how I really was. My sharp tongue could cut like the sharpest of blades. I frightened the Younglings. I knew it and I loved it. I hugged my little piece of power, cultivated it and let it grow. In the richness of this feeling, I found a strange comfort in the knowledge that I had a secret, that I could do things, feel things that those limited by the naïvety of the Jedi Order could not possibly imagine. I flourished within it, and it taught me like no Master has ever done before.
I knew that the Council indeed thought that I would meet my end in a cantina fight. Sending me to Jabiim held unexpected promise. As the rain plummeted down from the heavens and the earth stained with blood, I felt unusually at home in the darkness of it all. I could finally let my secret out, and let it have full control of me. I often heard the others whispering behind my back, disapproving and often fearful of my power and wild abandon on the battlefield. At other times though, I knew they were glad it was I who held this power and not Alto Stratus. He would meet his match soon.
But today, as I cut down droid after droid, losing myself to the anger and hate bubbling up inside me, I had a niggling feeling somehow that what I was doing was wrong. The painstaking time Glaive spent drilling the Jedi Code into me seemed to be taking effect all of a sudden. I thought of the Padawan Pack and all the others who now felt as I have done, after losing their Masters. They had tried to accept me, and I had pushed them aside, just as I had done before. All except Skywalker. I have no feelings whatsoever for Skywalker. He reminds me too much of myself. Lost in darkness, yet hiding it from the disapproving eyes of those around us. As more and more fall each day, I wonder, after it all, who am I, really? Do I wish to spend my life in this darkness, or can I be redeemed? No. My place is not with the Jedi. Nor is it with the Dark Side.
As the AT-AT walker plunges from the sky towards me in a ring of fire, I am at peace at last. I anticipate my death as a way out, realising now that I belong to something much, much more powerful than the simple definition of good or bad.
"May the Force be with the others..." I manage to humble myself for a moment before I am at last celebrated in an explosion of raw, fiery heat that rips the atmosphere in two, snatching the breath from my body in one last roar.
My armour is dropped. And at least, in the end, I didn't die in a bar fight.
OK, I just read over it and realised that it's a LOT shorter than I thought it was...probably because it took so long to write. Ah well.
Sooo...let me know what you think! Reviews are celebrated! But be careful - I have a sensitive ego. :)
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