"Parents need to teach their children principles of respect and acceptance."
—Zachary Quinto (as quoted on brainyquote·com)
Some fans have expressed their desire to see a sequel for the story To Survive Betrayal. My private writing begins with Sarah turning 12 years old, so I've decided to write something that fills the gap between the two stories. Seeing how the 2012 school year is about to start, this seemed like a good time to start this story.
For those that haven't read To Survive Betrayal, I'll mention two key points. First, it's not an absolute prerequisite to read that story first. In fact, there's a five year gap between these stories. It's my intent to have this story be as stand-alone as possible, though there will be occasional references to past events. Also, I made a slight miscalculation when I established my time line. As a result, there's a significant age gap between Ahsoka and her husband. I decided to keep it and use it as one of the reasons Ahsoka's in-laws have disowned the family.
Very special thanks to George Lucas, Lucasfilm Limited, and now The Walt Disney Company for Star Wars characters & concepts. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Also, very special thanks to the International Olympic Committee for the modern-day Olympic games.
Special thanks to Shadow Griffin (author #940553) for the calming bundle of nerves behind the rear lek, as mentioned in her story Tribulation of the Chosen. In addition, she also gave me permission to use the 100° F [37.8° C] body temperature for Togruta. The ½° F tolerance, however, is my own idea.
In addition, special thanks go to iSparks (author #4293830) for his unofficial beta-reading of the Upper Initiate Retreat arc (chapters 53-55) when I completed the first drafts of these chapters.
And, thanks to Zyxwee (author #4129153) for instructions on how to put horizontal rules before and after chapter text.
Opening Time Period: 2019 AD (11 BBY / 24 GrS).
Ahsoka knew something wasn't right. She didn't have to be a Jedi to know Sarah was upset again when she quickly grabbed onto her mother's leg and didn't let go. Sarah did that any time something – or someone – upset her. Ahsoka tried to reassure her daughter, but Sarah chose to hold her mother's hand as tightly as she could. Ahsoka shook her head as she sensed Sarah's swirling emotions. She then helped Sarah into the car seat in the back of their vehicle. Sarah looked silently out the side window and started to cry.
As soon as Ahsoka & Sarah returned home, Sarah ran upstairs to her room. She quickly slammed the door, climbed onto her bed, and continued to cry. Ahsoka sighed in frustration. Apparently, yesterday's talk between her husband and Sarah's principal was unsuccessful today.
Her husband arrived home shortly after that. Ahsoka was impressed that he had no meetings or other pressing Jedi issues today. As soon as he saw Ahsoka waiting for him in the front room, he knew something wasn't right.
"What's wrong?" he asked. Sensing Ahsoka's emotions, he drew his own conclusion. "They picked on her again, didn't they?" he asked, wishing it wasn't true.
"I'm assuming so," Ahsoka replied. "She was in tears the entire way home and went straight to her room again. We've got to do something," she urged her husband.
"I know. I just can't believe a school that prides itself on diversity and good values would let this happen," he answered with a sigh.
"What are you going to do if they don't take care of this? For all we know, this could happen at any school Sarah attends."
"Well, do you recall discussing how we'd deal with her Force-sensitivity?"
Ahsoka nodded. They had discussed a couple of different possibilities for her education and how to teach her about her Force abilities.
"It looks like our best choice is to enroll her in the Jedi Academy and their academic program," he suggested.
"Do you think that will work? People won't magically stop teasing her just because she studies there," Ahsoka replied.
"Teasing may be part of childhood. But be assured that heads will roll if she's bullied as cruelly as she has been the past two days. That's the benefit to being the Grand Master of the Order."
"What happens now?"
"First, I need to help a certain little princess to stop crying. After that, I'm off to see the principal again before she leaves. One way or another, this will be resolved."
"Honey, can you forget that you carry a lightsaber with you? The last thing we need is you threatening someone with it," Ahsoka said half seriously and half teasingly.
He stifled a short laugh on the way to Sarah's room.
Sarah's father felt conflicted. Jedi were supposed to keep their emotions in balance. However, that was difficult at the moment. To know Sarah was picked on again, despite assurances it wouldn't happen, tore at his heart. Presently, he could only hope he was able to cheer his daughter up again. Being bullied on one's first two days of school was not a fun experience. Additionally, he hated seeing and hearing his daughter cry unnecessarily. He knocked on Sarah's door. Having heard neither a response nor a noise on the other side, he slowly opened the door and entered her bedroom.
He found Sarah curled up in a tight ball on top of her bed. As he walked closer, he heard her crying softly into her pillow. Sarah jerked nervously when she felt her father's hand gently touched her shoulder. She slowly looked at him with tearful blue eyes. His hand clenched into a fist when he noticed marks and bruises near the ends of her head-tails. This was particularly upsetting to him because Ahsoka once mentioned that the lower half of her own head-tails contained sensitive nerve endings.
"I hear they picked on you again," he said calmly.
Sarah nodded as tears ran down the small white circles that marked her orange cheeks.
"I need to speak to your principal again to see what we can do about this," he told her.
Sarah looked at her father intently. "I don't wanna go back," she said softly.
"If your principal can't assure me you won't be bullied, you won't have to go back. Nobody hurts my little princess."
Normally, being called "princess" by her father made Sarah smile. Instead, she asked a question whose gravity took her father by surprise.
"Daddy, why do they hate me?" she asked.
The question made him recall his own childhood. He was teased and picked on a number of times, just like many of his classmates. Kids invariably focused on anything different or unfamiliar. However, he couldn't explain or justify the hateful attitude Sarah's classmates held. He didn't know how to answer the question honestly.
"I don't know, Sarah. I can't explain why they're so cruel to you," he answered reluctantly.
Sarah sensed the truth in her father's answer. She buried her head into her father's side and nuzzled up against him. He gently hugged her.
"Mom is worried about you. So let's go downstairs and show her you're going to be okay. I'll go speak to your principal, and after that, we'll go see Knight Rachel to see if she can make your head-tails feel better. All right?" he asked.
Sarah nodded slowly. She leaped up to put her arms around her father's neck. He caught her and kissed her forehead.
"I love you, princess," he said reassuringly.
Sarah smiled for the first time since she came home. Her father than carried her downstairs to her mother.
"Soka, I'm going to go speak to her principal. Regardless of the outcome, we're going to the Order afterward. Knight Rachel can treat her bruises. If necessary, we can enroll her in the academy as well," he told her.
"Please don't cause any more trouble. This has been hard enough on all of us," Ahsoka pleaded.
"I know, but nobody hurts my daughter—our daughter—without hearing something about it," her husband replied tersely before leaving.
At the school. The principal was still there; but she wasn't too enthusiastic to see Sarah's father for the second straight day.
"Oh. What can I do for you today?" the principal asked with a hint of displeasure in her voice.
"Tell me what you did to address Sarah's bullying today?" he asked calmly.
"Was she bullied?" she asked in reply. She appeared unaware of what happened during the school day.
"I came home to a crying daughter with a number of bruises. Surely, her classmates didn't welcome her with open arms," he stated firmly.
"There's no need for sarcasm, Mister ..." the principal begun to answer before he interrupted her.
"And there's no need for my daughter to be bullied!" he yelled with visible irritation. "I once attended this same school. Yet, for a school that prides itself on diversity and Christian values, my daughter has been rejected by her peers—and by the staff. Where is 'love your neighbor?' And why hasn't the anti-bullying policy been invoked?" he asked more tersely.
The principal had no response to the questions, which only made the situation more tense.
"Let me ask you this: if she comes back tomorrow, what will you do to make sure she's treated appropriately?" he asked.
"What do you expect us to do? We can't watch her every single minute," the principal replied.
"Well, you or her teacher could tell the class how bullying isn't tolerated and leads to discipline."
"That still won't guarantee anything."
"Will you follow your policies if she's bullied again?" he asked. His frustration continued to build.
"What do you expect? Kids will be kids," she replied simply.
Sarah's father finally had enough. He had tried his best to resolve the situation, but his frustration finally reached the critical point.
"That's it. Obviously, you don't want to deal with this. So, I'll make it easier for you. Sarah will not be coming back tomorrow. She will be taught somewhere else—somewhere where she won't be bullied and too scared to attend," he stated emphatically.
"You know the monthly tuition is non-refundable," she replied simply.
"Fine. I'll gladly eat this month's payment. At least now, Sarah can be taught where she can learn something and not be afraid all the time!" he yelled. He then signed a statement withdrawing Sarah from the school.
"I'm very ashamed of my school today. I've always been proud to say I graduated here. After this, you will receive no support from my family at all! I'll continue to attend Mass, but nothing more," he said angrily.
On the way back home, he did his best to calm down so Ahsoka wouldn't panic.
"How did it go?" Ahsoka asked, even though she suspected she already knew the answer.
"Sarah isn't going back there. The principal was as useless as a training saber against a Sith Lord," her husband replied. He then took a deep breath and checked the time. "We still have time to enroll her in the academy before we see Knight Rachel, Let's go," he told her.
The family left for the Jedi Order. The first task was to enroll Sarah in the Jedi Academy and their academic academy. The Order's academic program was a mix of in-class instruction and home schooling. Once they arrived, a secretary handed the family the application forms for the home school academy. The Order already had record of Sarah's Force-sensitivity and medical history. The family opted to have the healer, Knight Rachel, serve as her de facto doctor.
As the family sat down, Sarah's parents worked together to fill out the forms. At the same time, Sarah encountered another girl her age. She had light brown hair braided on either side of her head.
"Who are you?" the girl asked Sarah. She curiously looked at Sarah's orange skin and white face markings.
"I'm Sarah," Sarah replied nervously. She wasn't sure if the girl would be as rude as her other classmates.
"You look funny," the girl said. Sarah's father heard the comment and watched to see how Sarah reacted.
"I look like mommy," Sarah replied plainly as she pointed to her mother.
The girl's mouth opened and dropped in shock. She was awestruck to see Ahsoka's longer head-tails and tall montrals. She looked back at Sarah and noticed her small, thin, shoulder-length head-tails. Sarah smiled as the girl noticed the flat blue dots on top of Sarah's head that would presumably become montrals. Sarah's parents weren't sure what would happen during her adolescence because she was half human.
Now, Sarah had a question of her own. "Who are you?" she asked the girl.
"I'm Molly. I guess I'm going to be a Jedi someday, whatever that means," she replied.
"Me too. Both my parents are," Sarah answered proudly.
"Really? Mine aren't."
Sarah was set to speak again, but the admission director interrupted the conversation.
"Mr. & Mrs. Douglas," she announced. Molly's parents stood up. They had observed their daughter's conversation to that point and were curious why the other girl looked so different.
"Come, Molly. Say good-bye now," Mrs. Douglas said.
"Bye, Sarah. Maybe I'll see you again," Molly stated.
Sarah waved as Molly and her family entered an office for their admissions interview.
"Well, that was a pleasant surprise," Ahsoka said.
Sarah turned and looked at her parents. "She was nice to me. I like her," she said happily.
"You both might be classmates, Sarah."
Sarah gave a smile big enough to show the sharp tips of her canine teeth.
I wonder how Molly would have reacted to seeing that, Sarah's father thought.
"I hope I see her again," Sarah said as she climbed into her mother's lap.
A few minutes later, Molly and her parents were set to leave.
"It looks like we may see you again. Molly's been accepted," Mr. Douglas said.
"You hear that, Sarah, you know one of your new classmates," Ahsoka told Sarah. Sarah hugged her mom close.
"I imagine we will see a lot of each other. I'm also the Grand Master of the Order, so I basically run everything here, too," Sarah's father responded.
Next, the director of admissions beckoned Sarah's family to join her in her office.
"Master, you know this is pretty much a formality. We already have proof of Sarah's Force-sensitivity, so she's accepted for Jedi instruction. And your home school materials are in order," she told him. "I take it your original plan didn't work?" she asked.
"To say the least," he replied. "Do you know who is teaching the first year initiates yet?" he asked curiously.
"I'm not sure yet. I could find out for you."
"You don't have to right this minute. I just figured we could address Sarah's situation to prevent problems on her first day."
"We will take care of that. Don't you worry," she reassured him. She then looked at Sarah. "See you in school next week," she said.
"How many students did we enroll?" he asked.
"Six of them: three boys and three girls," she answered.
"A nice big class," he replied. The Jedi Order was lucky to have three or four Force-sensitive students a year, and usually combined adjacent classes if they were of similar skill. Because non-Jedi also studied in the home school academy, the issue wasn't as much of a concern there.
On our way to the med bay, Sarah seemed a bit happier. Once they arrived inside, Ahsoka helped Sarah onto one of the examination beds.
"Sarah, what brings you here today?" Knight Rachel asked cheerfully.
"She got picked on in school earlier today. She's got some bruises to take care of," Ahsoka explained.
"I'm going to school here, now!" Sarah said excitedly.
"Is that so?" Knight Rachel asked Sarah. "Lets see if I can make you feel better. I'll try not hurt you too much more, okay?" she promised.
Sarah nodded. Knight Rachel gently held Sarah's small, thin, blue and white-striped head-tails. Sarah squirmed just a couple of times as the healer's fingers passed over the two darkest bruises.
"Do you feel better, Sarah?" Knight Rachel asked.
Sarah nodded happily.
"What do you say, Sarah?" Ahsoka asked.
Sarah looked up at the healer. "Thank you, Knight Rachel," she stated softly and gratefully.
"You're very welcome, Sarah," Knight Rachel replied with a slight bow.
As the family walked down the hallways to leave for home again, they discussed the day's events.
"Do you think this will work better?" Ahsoka asked.
"It has to. It's the only other choice, short of teaching her ourselves," her husband replied.
"At least classes here don't start until after the holiday."
Her husband nodded. "Sarah deserves the break. Starting next week, she gets to learn about both worlds."
"Oh?" Ahsoka asked. One of her brow markings arched curiously.
"She will learn her academics and the ways of the Force."
"Daddy, will I be a Jedi?" Sarah asked anxiously.
He looked into her blue eyes, a shade in between his and her mother's.
"If you study hard and mind your teachers, you could be one some day, just like us," he said.
Sarah smiled one last time before everyone headed back home.