Ha ha ha. Hi Mina!
Andriya shifted the stack of books in her arms. She tapped the door with the toe of her boot again. Corsh was in his room--she could sense him--but he wasn't answering the door. And Andriya knew it was just to torment her. She was getting tired of standing there. If he doesn't open the door in two minutes, I'll open it myself, she thought.
"I hope you're dressed, Corsh," she called through the door. "I'm coming in if you don't open the door."
The door slid open. "Oh, hi, Princess. What are you doing here?"
Andriya rolled her eyes. "I've got the books you wanted."
"Books? You must have the wrong room, I didn't ask for any books." He reached underneath the tall stack and lifted it. Relieved to have the weight removed, Andriya relaxed her arms. Without knowing why, Andriya jumped backwards slightly as Corsh dropped the books where her feet had been.
"You may be in training, Corsh, but you can't trick a Jedi," Andriya said, harping on the fact that, even though she was two and a half years younger than Corsh, Andriya was already a Jedi Knight and Corsh wasn't even a Padawan yet. She wasn't doing it to be mean, either. Not this time, at least. But she knew Corsh had ordered those books from the library just to make her carry them up to his room because it was her day to deliver books.
"You'll have to take these books back," Corsh said.
"No, I won't. I have your order recorded. You will have to take them back."
"Did you forget what your job was, little Knight?"
"Did you forget what your job was, little farmer?"
"I will not be a farmer!"
"If you can control that anger of yours, of course not. And if you can do that, who knows, Corsh, maybe I'll take you on as my Padawan."
"That'll be the day that I die," Corsh said through clenched teeth.
"Then I guess you'll just have to start practicing." She wanted to add, "with plants," but decided not to egg him on any further. There was no point.
"You will, too, if you ever hope to. . . ." Corsh could think of no short term goal for Andriya. Sure, she probably wanted to become a Jedi Master, but she was just a little girl and had plenty of time for that.
"See you in class tomorrow," she called as she left the books at Corsh's feet. Tomorrow, it was Andriya's job to assist the instructor of the twelve-year-olds' lightsaber training. Though she wouldn't let it show, Andriya was a little bit nervous. Her real lightsaber, which she'd built over two years ago, was almost as long as she was tall. She wondered if she'd ever grow tall enough to use it properly. Everyone told her she would, but it was just one of the many problems presented to the youngest living Jedi Knight. It didn't help that she was completely different from the other kids--none of them at the Temple were even apprenticed yet, none had ever known their parents or had retained their last name, none of them were royalty--or, if they were, they didn't know it. Andriya did what she could, but the trainees her age and older, as well as the boys younger, than her teased her and taunted her incessantly. The only people who seemed to be able to tolerate her were the adults in the Jedi Temple, who didn't understand, and the younger, female trainees, who idolized her. While it was a unique experience, Andriya knew she didn't want to be an idol and an icon for her whole life--or even right now, really. Everyone watched her every move--whether it was to emulate, or waiting for her to make a mistake, or as an instructor, she could feel the gaze of each person she passed on her way back to the library.
Andriya shook off her greater anxieties and focused on the immediate one: lightsaber class tomorrow. She still had a little longer in the library, but then . . . then, she could find someone to help her. She would work on her lightsaber technique until her chosen mentor had to leave. And if she wasn't satisfied or comfortable with her improvement, she could find another teacher . . . and another. . . .
Her spirits buoyed by that solution, Andriya's step lightened as she hurried back to the library to see which Masters and Knights would be able to help her and not busy. Her thoughts thus engaged, she passed by a group of adults in the hallway without really noticing.
"Little girl!" called one of the adults. Andriya stopped, used to responding to the beck and call of her former master. She'd never used "girl," but it was always "little" something.
"Yes. . . ." Andriya waited for the man who'd called her to think of his name. "Master Qui-Gon?" she finished.
"Just out of curiosity, where are you headed to in such a hurry?"
"The library, sir."
The other three adults with Qui-Gon stifled a laugh. Andriya didn't see what was so funny.
Qui-Gon quieted his companions with a hand motion. It was clear he was the leader of this group of friends. Before Qui-Gon spoke again, Andriya assessed the quartet. They all appeared to be in their early or mid-fifties. She decided they must be old friends--maybe from their training days.
Qui-Gon continued, interrupting Andriya's appraisal. "Did Master Yoda assign you a report?" He lowered his voice gravely. "Were you disobedient?" Qui-Gon's friends tittered again.
"No, sir, I'm on delivery duty today."
"Have they extended delivery duty rotations to trainees now, too?"
Andriya drew herself up to her full height--which, she sadly noted, was barely above the imposing man's belt. "No, sir, they have not. I am a Jedi Knight."
The other adults had begun to snicker again, but fell silent as they realized she was telling the truth.
"How old are you?"
"Ten standard years."
That was enough. As she'd passed before, something had sparked Qui-Gon's interest, and now the miniature Jedi had captured it completely. Waving good-bye to his friends, Qui-Gon simultaneously gestured for her to continue on her way to the library, and he would accompany her.
"What is your name?"
"And how long have you been a Jedi?"
Qui-Gon was shocked into silence.
"Master Qui-Gon, if I can ask, are you a good lightsaber fighter?"
Qui-Gon smiled. "I'm told I am."
"Do you think you could help me?"
"Well, tomorrow, I'm supposed to help the lightsaber instructor, but I'm a little nervous. I need more help with my technique."
"And you'd like my help?"
"I'd be happy to. When would you like me to help you?"
"I'm off-duty at the library in . . . half an hour. Is then okay?"
Qui-Gon thought about it. In half an hour, his Padawan would probably still be looking for and catching up with any of his old friends that were also visiting the Temple with their Masters. There would be time to track Obi-Wan down, tell him where he would be and make it back to the library to get Andriya. "It's fine. I'll meet you at the front door to the library."
"Are you sure it will be okay with your Padawan?"
Qui-Gon was slightly surprised. That was the second time she'd read his thoughts. "If it's not, we'll both be there to get you."
As long as he helped her, and she wasn't disrupting any previous engagement or appointment with his Padawan, Andriya didn't care if he brought the Jedi Council with him. "Thank you so much, Master Qui-Gon."
After Qui-Gon's rigorous lesson, Andriya felt prepared to take on any trainee in the Temple--as soon as she caught her breath. Until then, she'd just lie there on the cool floor.
"Master Qui-Gon?" she began, panting slightly. She was pretty sure that he'd become used to his Padawan--who ever that was, he had to be older than Andriya. Taller, too. Andriya had had to work two and three times as hard as Qui-Gon to keep up with him.
"Yes?" Qui-Gon was seated on the floor nearby. He hadn't meant to wear the poor little girl down like that. Maybe he'd become a little too used to training Obi-Wan.
"What is it like to have a Padawan?"
"I'd imagine it's a little like being the youngest Jedi."
Andriya winced slightly, sorry he'd learned that fact. "What do you mean?"
"I'll bet you have someone who looks up to you and wants to be and do everything just like you."
Andriya thought of her brother, Myndex. He was only five--and a half--but he would probably be apprenticed soon. Myndex followed her everywhere he could and did everything she did. She guessed that was what Qui-Gon meant--not the way any of the little girls tagged along after her.
"That's what it's like?"
"At first, yes."
"Well, what's your Padawan like?" she asked.
"He's learning very well--more than I thought anyone could from me. It won't be too much longer before he's a Knight just like you. And a very good one. He's a very wise young man. But don't get any ideas, Andriya--he's twice your age." He laughed at his own joke.
"Ideas about what?"
"Oh, boys and love and such."
Andriya shook her head. "My mother said not to think about boys until I'm all grown." She silently hoped she wasn't all grown yet--her lightsaber was still too big for her, although she was more comfortable with it now, thanks to Qui-Gon.
"Uh huh. She was a princess of Alderaan, just like me."
"A princess? How do you know so much about her?"
"My first master was my father. He was a Jedi, just like me. Except he was a Jedi Master."
"So you know your family?"
"Well. . . ." Andriya rolled to her side to face Qui-Gon. "My parents died when I was little--younger. But I have my brother, Myndex, here at the Temple."
Qui-Gon silently marvelled at this little girl he'd encountered, he'd previously thought, by chance. He wanted Obi-Wan to see this little Jedi. While she still had things to learn--but who didn't?--she was a wonderful example. Then again, if he introduced the two, or merely suggested that Obi-Wan watch her, Obi-Wan might think Qui-Gon was comparing his Padawan with the girl, who would be impossible to live up to. It would be unfair to expect that from anyone. And everyone has always been surprised at how advanced Obi-Wan is. Well, not to say that he isn't advanced. . . . No, Qui-Gon decided, Obi-Wan is advanced. Andriya is an exception.
Andriya slowly stood, shaking off the fatigue which swept over her. She was glad library detail had been her last chore of the day. "Thank you so much for this lesson, Master Qui-Gon."
"You're very welcome, Andriya. It was nice meeting you." On an impulse, he added, "I'll bet the trainees are jealous of you."
"Most of them," she agreed.
"I would be, too."
Andriya frowned. She'd thought this man was different--he wasn't jealous, or cruel, or a sycophant, and he actually understood.
"You're a surprising person," Qui-Gon continued. "And extremely fortunate to be so strong in the Force. And to have known your family."
She brightened once more. "Thank you again. I have to go--Master Yoda doesn't like for me to stay up too late."
"No, I should think not. It was my pleasure."
"Nice meeting you," she called over her shoulder as she confidently strode from the room.
The door slid shut behind Andriya and Qui-Gon laughed until his sides ached.
Rotast Noin, the Jedi Master instructing the twelve-year-olds, led the class in warm up exercises with Andriya standing confidently at his side. As was his practice during each lesson, Rotast had his young assistant and students form a circle facing outward, with him in the middle. He selected the first two sparring partners from the circle by blindfolding them, then instructing the other students to help construct the training ground by spreading around blocks and other obstacles.
Andriya was selected first. She knew that Master Rotast would have to consider her opponent the best in the class, since he thought she had the unfair advantages of not only being fully trained, though not fully grown, but being able to recognize her opponent by their presence in the Force. He couldn't recognize her, but Andriya knew it was Corsh she was fighting. She also knew that Corsh's anger would be directed at her the first time he tripped over some of the things cluttering the floor.
"Okay," Master Rotast said. "Go ahead."
Andriya drew her training lightsaber and heard Corsh do the same. He turned around to confront her. Before she turned around, Andriya moved the pair of blocks directly in front Corsh aside.
"None of that," Master Rotast called from the sidelines. Corsh wasn't sure what he was talking about. He took a couple of uneasy steps forward, clumsily fumbling to sense the obstacles and soon failing. After falling on hs face, Corsh rose to his feet with his anger.
"Temper, temper," Master Rotast admonished. Andriya giggled slightly--Corsh hadn't even been able to come at her yet. She knew that Corsh was an excellent lightsaber deuler, but he wasn't nearly as good at using the Force to sense things--or controlling his anger. If they weren't blindfolded, Corsh might've already won their round. But Andriya had the upper hand because she'd worked so hard on sensing things with the Force. Perhaps that's the lesson Master Rotast wanted Corsh to learn, Andriya thought.
Still stifling her laugh, Andriya took a couple of hops and steps across the room, distancing herself from Corsh and placing obstacles in his way.
Corsh recognized that laugh. Whether it was luck or the Force, Corsh avoided the obstacles and engaged Andriya for the first time. While it was no epic battle worthy of the Jedi Master, Andriya recognized Qui-Gon's influence in her fighting.
Andriya broke free of the fray and retreated over a few stacks of blocks. Corsh tripped over each. Before he could get up after the last fall, Andriya rushed across the room. Corsh was seething. It was probably Andriya's fault he was falling over everything in the room. He held his lightsaber straight out in front of him and rushed at her. Andriya side stepped his charge. She felt her arms moving over her head and striking down without her control. She recognized Master Rotast's presence controlling her arms, and resigned herself to striking Corsh on his back just above his belt. Her lightsaber seared through Corsh's tunic, and burned his back. Andriya felt Master Rotast release her arms and she quickly pulled away.
"I'm sorry, Corsh. I did that," Master Rotast apologized. "Andriya, take him up to the healers." You may have to carry him, he added mentally, talking to Andriya through the Force. Andriya switched off her lightsaber and pushed the blindfold up to her forehead. She untied Corsh's and removed it, handing both to Master Rotast.
"Come on," Andriya whispered to Corsh. "Get up."
"I can't," he grunted. She'd better feel guilty for this, he thought.
"Stars," she sighed. "Do you want me to carry you?"
Corsh only groaned in reply. Andriya lifted him using the Force and draped his arms over her shoulders, taking hold of his elbows. She headed off for the healers with Corsh on her back, his feet dragging behind her.
"Have you been eating extra rations or something?" Andriya groaned as she trudged down the hallway.
"Shut up, shorty." Corsh knew she resented being called short.
"Y'know, one of these days, you're going to forget who you're talking to and say something like that to Master Yoda."
"Nah, I'm not as stupid as you."
"Don't forget I'm taking you to the healers."
"Don't forget you're the one that did this to me."
"I didn't want to."
"Sure you didn't."
Andriya slowed to a stop, resting, as several Jedi and trainees passed them. Just before continuing, Andriya was surprised by Corsh's weight suddenly being lifted from her shoulders. She looked up, surprised at the unexpected relief, and wanted to see who'd been so kind as to help her.
"Oh, hello, Master Qui-Gon."
"Hello again. You asked me about my Padawan yesterday--well, this is him." Andriya looked up at the man Qui-Gon indicated. He did not look back down at her as Qui-Gon placed Corsh on his Padawan's back.
"Hi," she said timidly.
"Hi," he replied shortly. "Where are we headed to?"
"The healers--Corsh got hurt in class."
"She did it!" Corsh yelled.
"Don't yell again. I might just drop you," Obi-Wan warned him. He shot Qui-Gon a look over the little girl's head.
"I'm glad you're getting better, Corsh," Andriya teased.
"She did it," Corsh said in a lower voice.
"I didn't. Master Rotast made me do it. He just wants you to learn to use the Force better."
Obi-Wan sighed. He knew Qui-Gon wanted him to introduce himself to the little girl, but he wasn't going to. He didn't care what Qui-Gon did this time. He would not get involved in another one of Qui-Gon's little side projects. Obi-Wan just hoped Qui-Gon wasn't planning on taking that girl with them. One of these days, he might say something to Qui-Gon about his tendency to pick up spare travelers who, for one reason or another, weren't working out in their homes, and usually didn't end up working out with the Jedi, either. He couldn't think of any time when one of the drifters had turned out in their favor--but several that had backfired in their faces, specifically one that had nearly killed Obi-Wan. He'd rather forget about that incident. Usually, Qui-Gon's side trips were harmless--and pointless.
They arrived at the healers' hallway, and Obi-Wan lowered Corsh to his feet.
"Thank you, Master Qui-Gon. Thank you. . . ." Andriya shrugged after a moment's pause when Obi-Wan didn't think of his name. She turned away and allowed Corsh to lean on her for support as he hobbled the last few meters to the door.
"You could have at least introduced yourself," Qui-Gon murmured as he and Obi-Wan continued on their way.
Obi-Wan shrugged and allowed the meaning of his gesture to remain vague. "Did you know her?"
"Yes. You might want to be a little more curteous toward her--she outranks you."
"I beg your pardon, Master?"
"Master Qui-Gon!" called Andriya before Qui-Gon could answer. She ran to catch up with them. "Can you help me with my lightsaber technique again?"
"I'm afraid not--we're leaving in a little while."
"You mean . . . you're not staying here?"
"No, we're just here for a little vacation."
"Oh. Well, thank you anyway." Andriya turned around and rushed back to watch Corsh's recovery.
Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon and they both laughed. A vacation--that was unthinkable! "She doesn't know what a vacation is," Obi-Wan exclaimed.
"I was just joking. Poor girl."
As Qui-Gon and his Padawan continued, Obi-Wan found himself returning to the little girl's words--again?
"Was she the one you spoke of yesterday?"
"Yes, she was."
Obi-Wan stopped. "That was the youngest Jedi?"
Qui-Gon nodded, then paused. "You didn't even look at her, did you." It was not a question.
Obi-Wan lowered his eyes. "No. . . . I didn't think anyone so young could. . . ." His voice trailed off.
"You still have much to learn, young Padawan."
"For example, not every thing you pick up is pathetic and vain?"
Qui-Gon didn't reply--he wasn't sure whether it would be more appropriate to reprove his apprentice's insult or laugh along with his joke.
"Where Myndex is, hm?"
Myndex's friends looked at one another. "I haven't seen him today," Matcha said.
"To his room, you must go."
Yoda and the other trainees waited in silence until Matcha returned alone.
"There he was not?"
Matcha shook her head. "His sister left a holograph saying that they were on a vacation. What's a vacation?"
Yoda ignored her question. "Leave the Temple, she cannot. Here somewhere, she must be." Yoda laughed softly to himself. A vacation! Where that idea, she did get?
Myndex and Andriya were back in their usual places two days later. Neither would tell where they'd been, but only giggle when asked. Myndex was apprenticed three weeks later, but not even his master ever found out what kind of vacation the siblings took.