The temple was burning, something that should have never happened under any circumstances.
Their loyal soldiers, the clones, had turned on them. Not all of them it seemed, but the vast majority now stood within the walls of the temple itself, slaughtering the Jedi who had been safe, up till now.
And if the rumours were true, they were being led by a turncoat Jedi.
Whoever this turncoat was was not of the concern of Tera Sinube at the moment. What was was the safety of the small group of younglings he was escorting. If a fight broke out, he could delay the troopers, Tera was sure of that. If he had to sacrifice his own life for the safety of the children, to allow them to escape this massacre, then he would without a shadow of a doubt.
He was old, and his time had long since passed. All that mattered now was that someone survived.
"Come younglings, we must move swiftly." Tera croaked out at the group behind him. Six younglings. That was all he had been able to group together before the temple had been under siege. Glancing over their faces, Tera recited their names in his head.
'Petro, Katooni, Ganodi, Byph, Zatt and Gungi.'
They all had shown promising talent as young Jedi, and would have no doubt gone on to become some of the Order's greatest.
Until now. Now, all Tera could do was keep them alive.
Hearing the quiet whimpers of fear from the younglings, Tera reached into the force, sending what he hoped was calming waves through to them.
Truth be told he too was scared. How had this happened?
Moving faster than he had for years, Tera Sinube turned a corner in the endless halls of the Jedi temple, grasping a single clone trooper who happened to be there with the force, and slamming him into the wall, before breaking into a sprint, one that was assisted through the force.
Behind him he heard the younglings following him.
They encountered no more resistance as they proceeded through the hallway, entering into a secluded doorway that accessed a side room.
It was then that Tera felt it. A sudden presence in the force hit his senses, one that was heavily clouded, mixed with light and dark.
And then another one, this one further away, but closing in on them. This one was different, it was more heavily imbued with the darkside.
Clearly the turncoat.
Shaking off the discomfort and anger he felt through the force, Tera turned to the children behind him. Petro had a steady look on his face, one that was filled with internal strife. He was angry at the attack, and he wanted blood.
It was only the ever calming presence of his friends, the ones he so often sought to protect, that had stopped him from charging off into the thick of battle. Even now he could see that their survival was paramount.
Tera was proud of him for that. He would make a fine Jedi.
Moving across the small room they found themselves in, Tera found yet another doorway. Reaching into the force, he found the other side to be empty of any threats. Clearly the majority of the fighting was going on in the central chambers, far enough away that he and his younglings had a chance to escape.
Opening the door, Tera stepped through the threshold into another hallway.
And then he stopped. A presence slid across his in the force. A signature, so familiar, yet foreign at the same time.
Clearly the younglings had felt it too.
"Master Sinube, what is that? I recognize it, but at the same time I don't." It was Katooni that spoke, the young girl almost trembling in terror. She had been hit the hardest by the attack so far.
Tera did not reply, instead he turned slowly, feeling the presence of the person ever closer.
And as he turned, he spotted a single figure down the hallway, watching them.
The figure was oddly dressed, with what appeared to be some sort of amalgamation of scraps of clone armour arms and legs, as well as a cape that was attached to a chest piece. Said cape was pushed over one shoulder of the figure, dangling behind the figure's back. If there had been wind inside the temple, Tera was sure it would have been billowing gracefully.
And then his eyes locked onto the face of the figure, and he felt his old heart stutter slightly in shock.
The Togruta simply stood there watching, betraying no emotion or action. It was almost as if she was a Jedi.
She didn't speak. She didn't move. She simply stood there, her blue eyes watching. Inside of them was something that Tera could not identify. Guilt? Anger? Remorse?
Why was she here anyway? She was no longer a Jedi? She had left.
Then Katooni spoke.
"Padawan Tano! You've come to help us!"
The force screamed a warning to Tera as the young Tholothian began to run towards the Togruta.
"Katooni no come back here this instant!"
But the plea remained unheard, and Katooni continued to run towards her former chaperone.
And then another sound hit Tera's senses. The snap hiss of a lightsaber.
Katooni seemed to slide to a halt, her signature in the force flooding with terror and fear.
Before her stood Ahsoka, a single bright lightsaber blade in her hand, of a colour that Tera had rarely seen before, poised to strike.
"Katooni. Katooni back away slowly." Tera called out, moving forward slightly to encourage the youngling back. Tera felt his own hand grasp his walking stick tighter, his digits wrapping around the hilt of his lightsaber just in case. If this was what he feared it was…
And then another presence hit is senses, freezing him in place. The darker, more corrupted one nearly threatened to overwhelm him. Around him he saw the younglings grasp their heads in agony, something which he himself also was forced to do.
The only person who seemed unaffected was Ahsoka, who still stood unmoving, lightsaber bathing her in a bright glow. It was almost as if she was familiar with such a feeling.
And then he heard movement. Turning around again, Tera glanced down the opposite end of the hallway.
Another figure stood, this one covered head to toe in a long cloak, one that tried to conceal his identity. The figure also held a lightsaber in their hand, this one blue. From where he was standing, Tera was almost certain it was the blade that belonged to young Skywalker.
Beneath the hood of the figure, Tera could see a pair of bright golden eyes staring out at him. Except, there weren't staring at him.
But rather, they were staring right past him.
Directly at Ahsoka.
Looking back at the Togruta, he could see that she too was staring past him at the figure, as if they were speaking to one another without speaking aloud.
Around him the younglings ignited their sabers, dropping into the stances they had been taught.
But Tera remained motionless. He had no idea what was going to happen next.
He feared what was going to happen next.
He only hoped that whatever did happen, he would be able to save someone.
(11 months earlier)
She had left. That was the extent of it.
After everything she had done, everything she had seen and learnt, she had left.
And now here she was, alone, by herself, looking for a way to get by.
Something that was easier said than done, especially for a sixteen year old Togruta.
It had only been two week, but it had been two of the hardest weeks of her life. When she had walked away from the temple, from Anakin, she had had nothing but the clothes on her back. Her private account, the one created and maintained by the Jedi Order had been cleared out, the credits she had saved up going towards something else.
Inwardly, Ahsoka hoped that it would go towards someone in need.
That being said, she sure could have used them herself right now.
For the first day of her exile she had wandered, searching for something to do, someone to help.
In that time she had stopped a mugging, prevented someone from overdosing on spice, and rescued a pet from a high ledge.
But all of these good deeds had led to nothing but gratitude, and as much as she appreciated such a gesture, she needed more if she was going to survive.
At first she had contemplated finding Ventress, but all reports suggested that she had simply vanished, not that Ahsoka blamed her.
She could have tried to find her own way, away from the help of others. After all, the last time she trusted people it didn't turn out so well.
And then she discovered that she was hungry, so she had headed to Dex's.
She knew Dex, having been introduced once to him by Obi-Wan. For a Besalisk, Dex was one of the nicest people Ahsoka had ever had the pleasure of meeting, and he certainly served good food.
She only hoped that he was feeling generous, considering her lack of money and all.
But, as she had hoped, the large Besalisk had been nothing but welcoming, voicing his opinion about her trial in support of her, and offering her free food, enough to last her a lifetime.
To her surprise, he had even offered her work. Nothing glamourous of course, merely cleaning work in the kitchen, but it was something.
The wage was limited, but enough that it would help her get by.
But Dex had not stopped there, insisting that she not sleep on the streets, Dex had offered up a small apartment he rented out to her. She had to pay some rent of course, but she didn't mind. Instead, the large chef simply took a small cut of her wages to pay for her new home.
The apartment wasn't exactly big, but rather three rooms.
A bedroom, a refresher, and a kitchen area with a single table. It had the necessities Ahsoka needed to survive, for now.
So yes, her first week away from the order had been rough, but she had found her way so far. But that didn't stop her from wanting more. She wanted to be helping people. She had grown up in a war, as a commander on the field, not a part time waitress part time cleaner. She was grateful to Dex for the opportunity, she really was, but she knew she could do more.
She would just have to be patient and wait for the opportunity to arise.
That being said, patience had never really been her strong suit. That more than anything explained why she and Anakin got along so well.
'No, don't think about him right now. You can't live in the past.'
It hurt to think of Anakin that way. When push had come to shove he had been the only one, aside from Padme, that had stood by her. She would be forever grateful to him for that, but she couldn't rely on him forever.
For now, she would forge her own path, and when the time was right she would return to him.
She only hoped that he would be proud of her.
Stepping through the threshold of the doorway into her apartment, Ahsoka collapsed onto a chair by her table. Her shift had been busy today, not that she minded. Still, she was looking forward to her day off tomorrow.
Sighing, she stood from where she had sat down and moved across to the kitchen worktop, extracting a pouch from a cupboard, and began to boil some water.
She couldn't afford anything too expense to eat, but after years of military rations, even the cheapest of soups tasted like heaven.
Once the water had boiled, she mixed it with the powder from the pouch she had brought, stirring until the water and powder fused into a thick creamy substance, one that smelled of various meats and spices. Allowing to cool briefly, Ahsoka moved the bowl she had the soup in and placed it on the table, before sitting back down in her chair.
Leaning into the bowl, Ahsoka allowed herself to deeply sniff the soup. The aroma almost made her eyes water. She was looking forward to this.
Grasping the spoon utensil she had on the table, Ahsoka began to lightly stir the soup, before gathering a small amount in the spoon. Lifting it to her lips, Ahsoka braced for the temperature, as well as the taste.
As she expected, it tasted wonderful. It was a simple meal, but that would suit her.
Ahsoka allowed herself to continue her meal, managing to take another three spoonful's of the liquid before a sound drew her attention away.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
Ahsoka paused. Someone was knocking on her door. Who could that be?
Her first thought was Dex, but then he had never visited her before. That and he was still working.
Aside from Dex, she had no idea who it was. No one else knew she was here, and she had never spoken to any of her neighbours, so she truly had no idea who it could be.
Internally, some part of her hoped it was Anakin come to find her. She stifled that thought as soon as it appeared. She couldn't rely on him forever.
The knocks sounded again. Clearly they were not going to do away, whoever they were, so Ahsoka was forced to answer.
Standing up and moving towards her door, soup now abandoned, Ahsoka reached for the switch that operated the door, and opened it.
On the other side was a figure dressed in a long flowed cloak, one clearly designed to conceal their identity. On first glance it screamed Jedi to her. That was until she realized she could not sense this individual as she could most Jedi.
"Can I help you?" Ahsoka asked, keeping her tone polite.
The figure then began to raise his hands, which Ahsoka could see were wrinkled, a clear evidence of age.
And then, with a sharp movement, the figure pushed back the hood that had been concealing his face.
"I certainly hope so my dear, after all, Anakin always said that I could rely on you."
Ahsoka couldn't stop the gasp of surprise at the revelation of the identity of the person at her door. This was the last person she ever expected to come and find her.
"What are YOU doing here?!"