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"Defenders of the Force, Episode 2: Ghosts of the Past"

By EsmeAmelia

Chapter 2

"That's ridiculous!" Tamyra shouted, prompting everyone in the audience to look at her.

"What is ridiculous, Miss Tamyra?" asked 3PO.

"My aunt didn't betray the Jedi!" Tamyra continued. "She wouldn't!"

"I am sorry, Miss Tamyra," said 3PO, "but your aunt did indeed betray the Jedi. We have the recording right here. R2, why don't you play it?"

R2 beeped as he plugged himself into the teacher's desk. In just a few moments, a large image was playing on the screen. There was a Mirilan girl, glaring out at the senate before her with large blue eyes, her shoulder-length black hair seeming to hug her face, surrounded by guards.

"I did it because I have come to realize what many people in the Republic have come to realize," she said in a high, steady voice, "that the Jedi are the ones responsible for this war. That we've so lost our way that we've become villains in this conflict. That we are the ones who should be put on trial, all of us! And my attack on the temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become: an army fighting for the dark side, fallen from the light we once held so dear."

Though Tamyra couldn't see the fire in her aunt's eyes, she could hear the fury in her voice. Her hand tightened around her sensor as if it were a weapon she were preparing to use. Mae could hear her teeth grinding as her aunt was taken away on the screen.

"That can't be my aunt!" Tamyra shouted as soon as the recording was over. "My aunt was a dedicated Jedi!"

R2 beeped angrily.

"Miss Tamyra," said 3PO, "R2 requests that you not make such a fuss during his class."

Anakin didn't hesitate to put his hand on Tamyra's shoulder.

"According to the old Republic's official records," said 3PO, "Barriss Offee was executed for her crimes."

Tamyra's sightless eyes widened in shock. "But . . ." she gasped out, ". . . I thought she died in the siege on the Jedi Temple . . ."

"I am sorry, Miss Tamyra," said 3PO, "but that is the what the records say."

Tamyra was struck short of breath. She gulped several times as the droids continued thier lesson.

"Hey Tamyra, it's okay," said Anakin. "Look at it this way - my grandfather was Darth Vader. Now you can't get much worse than that, can you?"

Tamyra didn't answer.

. . .

After class, Tamyra was quiet all the way down the hall to their next classroom, despite Mae and Anakin's attempts at talking to her. They finally gave up when they reached the classroom for lightsaber training, which was a large, open room with a full-height window on one end and rows of trainee lightsabers hanging on the opposite wall. The students were already gathered around the teacher, Master Uma, a human woman with braided blonde hair going almost to her waist.

"Good morning, trainees," she was saying. "Welcome to your first lesson in lightsaber use. I'm sure most of you are super-excited about this, but be forewarned - fighting with a lightsaber is very difficult. It will tire out your muscles and send your brains into a whirl, which is why you have me to teach you how to use them properly." She extended her arm towards the lightsabers hanging on the wall. "Now those are special trainee lightsabers, which we will be using in this class. They won't kill you or hack off your limbs, but they can still be very painful if they hit you, so always use caution. But don't worry - we won't be using them today."

"WHAT?" the class exclaimed in unison.

"You heard me," said Master Uma, flicking her braid around her shoulder. "Lightsaber use requires you to be in top physical condition, so that's what we'll be focusing on today. Oh, by the way . . ." She fixed her eyes on Mae and Anakin. ". . . your name being Skywalker or Solo won't get you any special treatment in this class, is that clear?"

"Yes, Master Uma," Mae and Anakin answered, both in groaning voices.

"Good," said Master Uma. "Now we'll be starting with sit-ups, so everyone on the floor!"

. . .

" 'And by the way, your name being Skywalker or Solo won't get you any special treatment in this class,' " Anakin mocked as the trio entered the cafeteria. "I can't believe it. Lightsaber training and we don't even get to use lightsabers."

"Well, Master Uma did say they were difficult to use," said Tamyra.

"They're probably covering their butts by making us wait," said Mae, wiping sweat off her forehead. "You know, my mom and dad don't want to get sued by any parents, so they want to make sure no one hurts themselves in lightsaber class by training them up before they get to use lightsabers."

"But Master Uma said those were trainee lightsabers," said Anakin.

"She said they could still hurt," said Tamyra.

"I don't care," said Anakin. "I wanted lightsaber class, not gym class."

He might have complained about that throughout lunch if two voices hadn't called them.

"Hey guys!"

Mae perked up at the sight of her older cousins. Jaina and Jacen came running up to the trio, each carrying empty food trays, grinning widely.

"So, did Master Uma make you do fifty sit-ups?" asked Jacen, messing up his little brother's hair.

Anakin cringed. "Why didn't you guys tell me we wouldn't be doing lightsabers the first day?"

"And miss out on seeing your face when you find out?" Jacen scoffed in his deep voice.

"Don't worry, little brother," said Jaina. "You'll get to use lightsabers eventually."

Meanwhile Tamyra was clearing her throat and waving her sensor in the twins' direction.

"Oh, right," said Mae. "Jaina, Jacen, this is our new friend Tamyra. Tamyra, these are my older cousins, Jaina and Jacen. They're twins."

"Nice to meet you," Tamyra said, though with a gloomy edge to her voice.

"Hey," Jaina said gently, "is something wrong?"

"Oh, nothing," said Tamyra.

"She found out her aunt betrayed the old Jedi Order," said Anakin.

"Anakin!" Mae hissed.

Tamyra sighed. "It's all right, Mae. They probably already know how Barriss Offee betrayed the Jedi."

Jacen bit his lip. "Who's Barriss Offee again?"

Tamyra sighed again.

"She was a Jedi padawan in the old Order," said Jaina. "And . . . I think she set off a bomb in the Jedi Temple, if I remember correctly."

Tamyra gulped. "Can we please talk about something else?"

Jaina and Jacen both seemed to sense Tamyra's discomfort, for they both quickly quieted down.

Mae did her best to change the subject. "Are we allowed to sit together?" she asked. "Or do new trainees have some table they're required to sit at?"

"Nah," said Jacen. "You guys can sit wherever you want."

"Then let's sit together!" Anakin exclaimed.

. . .

Once the five had gotten their food, they settled at a round table in front of a holovid that was displaying a slideshow of messages for the students, as well as quotes from famous Jedi. It was only a few minutes before Mae got tired of reading, "Do or do not, there is no try" over and over again.

"So, who do you think the Revolutionaries are?" Jaina asked. "Dad thinks they might be old Imperials trying to get revenge."

"I dunno," said Mae. "I'm getting a little tired of that question, frankly. My dad's been asked it over and over."

Tamyra was pressing her fork against her plate. "Maybe they're like my aunt."

Jacen reached over and patted Tamyra's shoulder. "Hey, don't worry about your aunt. I mean, my grandfather . . ."

"Yes, I know about your grandfather!" Tamyra interrupted. "But you always knew who your grandfather was, didn't you? Meanwhile, I grew up proud to be Barriss Offee's niece."

"Well maybe you can still be proud," Jacen said gently.

"Yeah," said Anakin, scooting a little closer to Tamyra. "I mean, look at me. My mom and dad named me after my grandfather. I asked my mom about it once and she said I wasn't named after Darth Vader, but after Anakin Skywalker, the guy he was before all that bad stuff. For that matter, he became good again when he sacrificed himself to save my uncle, so you know, it's not so bad to be related to him." He took a bite of his food before continuing. "Course, my dad says he wanted to name me after him, but I'd rather be Anakin than Han Solo Jr."

Tamyra didn't look convinced, but before anyone could say anything more, there was a sudden erruption of sound coming from the holovid. All eyes quickly turned to face it and found that it was no longer showing the slideshow. In its place was a blurry image of a human woman with a hood pulled over her eyes, vaguely resembling the old Emperor Palpatine.

"Hello, young Jedi," the woman said in a slow, deep voice. "Are you enjoying yourselves? You might think yourselves so clever after you managed to escape the little present we sent you the other day, but never mind, that was only the beginning."

"What does she look like?" Tamyra whispered. "Do you recognize her?"

"No," Mae whispered back. "She's wearing a hood - you can't see much of her at all."

"Are you proud to be Jedi, younglings?" the woman continued. "Are you proud to be part of this legacy? Well let me show you something." What little that could be seen of her mouth seemed to draw up into a smile. "This is the Jedi's legacy."

With that, the image switched to a hologram, blown up to fill the entire screen. Nearly everyone in the room could recognize the figure the hologram showed.

It was Anakin Skywalker.

Killing children.