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.