“I thought you wanted that one alive?” Ahsoka complained, looking at the senator limp in her master’s arms. “What happened?”
“She is still alive,” Anakin snapped back.
Ahsoka rolled her eyes and flipped her lightsabers, already a little bored. She had been promised Jedi and so far, not a single one had bothered to show up to fight her. Not one.
“Ahsoka, come,” Anakin called.
With the spring back in her step, she moved into place beside him.
“She’s pretty,” she offered, taking a quick look at the woman she had heard so much about.
“Please stop skipping,” he sighed, but she could see the slight glint in his eye. Things had gone surprisingly to plan for the two of them. It put her on edge a little, but he was too consumed with moving things along to notice.
She slowed herself but felt the energy rising still with nowhere left to go. They passed by a set of ugly sculptures. The one nearest to her began to crack down the middle.
“Ahsoka,” Anakin warned.
“I just thought this would be more…” she looked around the almost deserted hall. “Anything.”
“It will be,” he said. “I promised you a challenge and you will get one.”
He paused just before the doors. His mouth shut and she knew he had closed his eyes as well. Ahsoka copied him and held out her hand, trying to sense what was in store for them beyond the doors. A surge of excitement gripped her. There was something outside that she had never felt before. It was as if an energy was pushing back against her, a power equal, but different from her own.
“You took care of the surveillance?” he asked.
“Of course, Master.”
“There can be no witnesses,” he reminded her.
“I understand, Master.”
“If you fail,” he whispered this time, looking down at the face of Padme as if he needed the reminder that she was still there. “Do not bother returning to me. I will not be able to protect you. You will doom us both.”
Ahsoka answered with the hum of her lightsaber.
The door opened.
The night was warm and lit by the glow of green and blue blades. Jedi. But they were already engaged in combat? For a moment Ahsoka was stunned by their grace, like smoke from a fire or water gliding down glass. The robed figures shielded themselves, but also each other blaster fire. Ahsoka followed the red beams to their source. Clones. An entire squadron, firing on the Jedi.
“What are they doing?” she asked, but the confusion she felt was not echoed by her master. His lips pulled back into a smile. And he turned to her without an answer, except to tilt his head toward a young Mirialan with a single blue blade.
As the girl’s compatriots began to fall around her, Ahsoka caught her eye.
“What—” the girl began, but Ahsoka ran at her, arms behind her to help with speed and swiped at the girl’s green face.
She was quick enough to block, but only just.
“Oh,” Ahsoka gasped. “This is going to be fun.”
It was not fun.
The girl seemed more surprised than threatened by her presence. It was a fight to the death but only she knew it. The Jedi only saw her as a distraction, keeping her from helping with the fight. There had to be a way to get her attention, to show her what this was. It was not worth beating opponent whose heart was not in the fight.
Ahsoka extended her senses to find where the girl’s focus truly lay.
“Barris!” someone shouted another Mirialan female, older, more graceful, and powerful. Ahsoka could sense it from across the landing pad. It was like feeling the sun against her skin, natural and comforting. It radiated from the Jedi, but it also bound her to the girl.
A sudden sharp bolt of jealousy struck Ahsoka. With on Saber locked with Barris, she sent the other flying through the air. It whirled into the chaos, vengeful and quick.
“Luminara,” Barris began, but it was already too late.
Ahsoka’s blade returned to her outstretched hand just as the Jedi Master’s body hit the ground.
Barris screamed and her watering eyes found Ahsoka’s. They seemed to clear as they narrowed. Her shout quieted and her mouth shut. Ahsoka felt the focus of her opponent instantly. The energy between them switched like a change in the wind. Suddenly, a force of equal will pushed back against her own.
Barris moved quick, vaulting over Ahsoka’s head. She landed beside her and swung, almost too fast. A burst of pure adrenaline surged through her and she felt as if she was seeing the young Jedi for the first time.
“Well, hi there,” Ahsoka said.
Barris only growled and swung at her again. With every blow, Ahsoka realized how much she had underestimated the Jedi’s practices. She was suddenly hit with a sense of gratitude that her master had never gone easy on her. She channeled the extent of her training, keeping her edge, but she met her match at every turn. The longer they fought the more she felt the force mobbing around them. With every swing, every counter step Barris’ opposing energy shifted until it felt like a competition between them.
Rage flowed from every inch of the girl as she lashed out, moving so quick, Ahsoka could only feel the saber being knocked from her hand. The blade that killed the Jedi Master slid to the edge of the dock. Barris dared to remove one hand from her saber and extend it, reaching for discarded saber.
“That’s not fair!” Ahsoka screamed, realizing that the supposed Jedi was using the Dark Side. HER Dark Side.
Instinctively, she extended her own hand, but not to the discarded saber. Barris dropped her weapon. She began to claw at her neck. Ahsoka kicked the saber over the side to the sound of her opponent choking.
The first drops of rain trickled over her skin. Then she turned her eyes up to the girl. She looked so young, so much like herself. All around them lay the bodies of her fallen friends and the clones who served them. Rain sizzled against her still ignited blade and Barris eyes begged her to stop.
The eyes were full of tears again and Ahsoka felt a strange sting in her own. The feeling like sun prickled over her skin again, but this time it seemed to be moving through her. Barris’ toes scraped the ground as she kicked, and the sound echoed in Ahsoka’s soul. Every gasp of breath tore through her.
“Ahsoka,” growled Anakin from somewhere far far away. “Finish it.”
She tried but numbed by the sharp contrast of familiar cold in the bones and the new warmth in her heart, she could do nothing.
A red blade sliced through Barris’ heart and Ahsoka let her fall. The warmth disappeared, but the cold felt buried and out of reach in a way it had not been in a long time. She looked up. Anakin’s hood had fallen away, revealing his orange eyes. She searched him for answers but found nothing.
“Bored the ship,” he said, picking Padme up from where he had set her. He did not turn back again to check if she was following. She called her fallen saber back to her hand and hurried on behind him.