by Autumn P. Torkorgana
The nightmares wouldn't end. First, Anakin fell into the searing liquid metal, and Obi-Wan could do nothing. Next, Anakin and Obi-Wan were battling on the walkway and Obi-Wan fell over the edge, plummeting until the next nightmare began. Andriya was fighting Anakin, and she fell. But she fell slowly, with plenty of time to stare accusingly at Obi-Wan. He called to her, he shouted to Anakin, he just yelled, as he was forced to watch Andriya fall to her certain death.
Obi-Wan awoke suddenly. His throat was raw and his face was stinging.
"I'm sorry," Andriya whispered. She was sitting on the edge of his bunk.
"For what?" Obi-Wan croaked hoarsely.
"Slapping me? Why?"
"You were scaring the children."
She closed her eyes as if it pained her to tell him. "You were screaming. . . . I've never heard anyone yell like that . . . but I think it was worse for you."
Obi-Wan just nodded slowly. Andriya looked away, staring off into space for a few silent moments before turning back to him. She took his hand and pulled him to a sitting position before wrapping her arms around his neck.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. He slowly placed his arms around her waist, partially returning her embrace, but mainly trying to keep her there to comfort him.
"I'm sorry this had to happen," she continued. "I'm sorry it had to happen to you, or to Anakin, and I'm sorry it had to happen at all."
"It didn't have to happen."
"Maybe not, but it did happen."
"This is all my fault."
"Sh. Just shut up for a little while and cry."
"I don't want to cry."
"Well I do," she whispered, an emotional catch in her voice. "This could be the end of the Jedi--my whole life. Obi-Wan, the Jedi are not just in danger--we're over. We all carry a death mark."
Obi-Wan tightened his hug. "Just shut up for a little while and cry. And stop thinking."
"No," she said, relaxing her embrace, but not pulling away. "We need to talk to the children."
"Can't it wait until we get back to Coruscant?"
Andriya shook her head. "We're not going back to Coruscant." She released him and pulled away, standing up.
"It's too dangerous."
"What are we going to do?"
"The way I see it, we have two options. We can join up with the Emperor, which is hardly an option, or go into hiding."
"And what about the kids?"
"We're taking them back to their families."
"Can they really just go back? After all this time with the Jedi?"
"Sure. The 'Jedi Nursery' is for kids who were taken to the Temple and abandoned before they failed the tests."
"And you can get them back to their families?"
"I have to try. But first, we have to talk to them." Andriya left the room. Obi-Wan hurriedly followed her, and found Andriya standing just outside the doorway she'd just passed through.
"Take off your lightsaber or hide it."
"Just do it." She handed him the two lightsabers she always carried--even though one of them wasn't working anymore--and Anakin's. Obi-Wan took them and placed them on his bunk with his own lightsaber and covered them with a blanket.
Together, they walked into the children's dark quarters. The lights turned on and Andriya clapped her hands. "Wake up children. We have something to tell you." Obi-Wan gave her a questioning look.
"I'm very sorry," Andriya continued. "I've been lying to you. I've gotten many people to lie with me, and it's all been for the sake of a study."
"What did you lie about?" Wherkane asked.
"There is no such thing as a Jedi. It's just something I made up. Obi-Wan isn't a Jedi, he's a scientist just like me. Your parents allowed us to use you for a short time and now we must return you to them."
"What did your study prove?" Tigo asked.
"Nothing. I was wrong. Forget about the 'Jedi Nursery,' it was nothing more than a failed experiment. I'm sorry for deceiving you." Andriya switched the lights off and ushered Obi-Wan out of the room.
"What did you just do?" he demanded once they were alone again.
"What I've been trained to do. Why should I leave these innocent children at the nonexistent mercy of the Emperor? I'd rather lie now than have the blood of six children on my head." She retrieved her lightsabers and hooked them onto her belt, covering them with the folds of her sand-colored skirt.
Obi-Wan was silent for a moment. "Do you think Anakin . . . ?"
Andriya knew exactly what he implied and looked away. "I know he killed Myndex. But we're Jedi--grit your teeth and get on with it."
Obi-Wan drifted into a disquieted sleep. The nightmares weren't as violent this time. The last one began with Andriya seated in a dark room. Obi-Wan could see her because she alone was illuminated by light from an invisible source.
"How could you do this?" she asked.
Obi-Wan didn't need to ask what she was talking about. "I didn't mean for it to happen."
"But it did. And there's no one else to blame, is there?"
"I know it's my fault. I tried--"
"But you failed. If you didn't succeed, does it mattered that you tried?"
"I . . . I--"
"And now you've practically signed my death warrant."
"I didn't know Anakin--"
"But you did. You knew he was dangerous and you trained him anyway."
"I had no idea he'd do this."
"You killed my brother."
"You killed my brother." Her voice echoed off the walls, assaulting Obi-Wan anew with each peal.
Over the clamor of her accusations, Obi-Wan heard Andriya whisper something to him.
The noise heightened and so did her whisper. "I don't mean this."
"What do you mean?"
As the picture of Andriya faded into blackness and her echo followed, the whisper still remained. "This is my nightmare, too."
"What is? Andriya?" She did not respond.