Writer’s Revenge! As a teacher I met many children, both wonderful and infuriating. I never said to them I’d write them into a story as revenge (or reward!), though now I think I should have! In their honor, Aitahea visits the Jedi Temple on Tython with Erithon and meets a former charge. The student is a bit of a combination of many of my ‘favorites’, most of whom were simultaneously the brattiest and sweetest of children.
I’m jumping to some conclusions about trials and positions taken on by Padawans, but I figure, hey, the Jedi are very good at putting people right where they need to be, when they need to be there. Even Ahsoka Tano spent some time teaching Initiates, so I figure I can’t be too far off.
Title: A Profound Purpose
Prompt: Writer’s Revenge (at the SWTOR FF Community)
Character: Aitahea Daviin, Jedi Consular; Erithon Zale, Trooper; OC Padawan/Initiate
Setting: Tython, after Luminous
Aitahea laughed merrily as the clutch of younglings ran up to her, grasping eagerly at her robes. One particularly amiable little Zeltron boy with a shock of navy hair, no more than four standard years, lifted his arms up to her. The Jedi obliged his adorable request with a sweet smile, hoisting the boy up to plop him securely on her left hip and pressing quick kiss to his forehead.
Turning to glance at Erithon, she found him looking chagrined, a hand on the back of his head. Two of the children were running in a circle around him, tapping on his plasteel armor and giggling madly. He cast a despairing look at Aitahea. “These are Jedi children?” he groaned. Aitahea answered with another bright laugh and shooed the tiny tormenters away from her companion, carrying her youthful cargo along.
“Force sensitive or not, they are children, at the end of the day,” the Consular replied, adjusting the position of the small boy in her arms. “Isn’t that so, youngling?” she asked the boy, who giggled and pressed his face into Aitahea’s shoulder in a fit of spontaneous shyness. She laughed in reply and hugged him before setting him down and watching as he ran back to his companions.
“I guess so. Somehow I thought they’d be… calmer,” Erithon confessed, observing as an impromptu game of tag broke out among the group.
Aitahea smiled teasingly at Erithon as she answered, eyes alight with mischief. “We all have our moments.”
Erithon lifted an eyebrow at her reply before breaking into his usual charming lopsided grin. Aitahea savored the fluttering in her chest his expression produced and had to fight to keep from kissing him right there. Their newfound love was exhilarating and enthralling, and Aitahea delighted in every minute of their time together. That was in fact the reason they were on Tython, bringing a petition to the Council to sanction their relationship.
Seeming to sense her struggle, Erithon reached out to squeeze her elbow before dropping his hand back to his side. She smiled gratefully and turned to watch the younglings gather around an older student who approached.
The young man – a Twi’lek no more than sixteen, leaf-green skin glowing with youth – opened his arms to the gaggle of children, who quickly gathered into a loose group before him. Aitahea observed with interest as he gave a few brief directions, confirmed that the youngest had understood, then clapped his hands to release the younglings to the requested task. As the students dispersed, he looked up to see Aitahea and Erithon standing before him. The Consular smiled warmly and the boy broke into a wide grin, dashing forward to meet Aitahea.
“Master Daviin!” The boy paused a few paces from Aitahea and offered a formal bow, unable to keep the broad smile from his face. The Jedi returned the greeting, then stepped forward to grasp the young man’s hands warmly.
“Telan, you’re well?” she asked, looking up to examine the boy’s face. “You’ve gotten so tall! Last time I saw you, you were barely to my shoulder.” Telan ducked his head, embarrassed but pleased.
“I am well, but if I keep outgrowing robes like I have, Master Rana says she’s going to shorten my legs with her lightsaber.” They both laughed at the empty threat, Aitahea shaking her head.
“Master Matea Rana? Are you her Padawan, then?”
Telan beamed in pleasure. “I am. She’s an excellent teacher, despite the endless teasing.”
“She chose you with the understanding that you’d be able to tolerate it, of course. Among your other talents, of course,” Aitahea praised, bringing a dark blush to the young man’s face. “You’ve chosen the path of a Knight, then.”
“After you left, Master Kellan took an interest in my saber skills. I learned a great deal.” He gazed at the Consular, affection and pride glowing in his green eyes. “But I wouldn’t have been ready for that learning without your teachings first.”
Aitahea laughed again, incredulous but smiling. “Telan, that’s kind, but I was only a Padawan.”
Telan shook his head, taking a step back. “You’re too modest, Master Daviin, even for a Jedi. Everyone says so. You’re still talked about, even from your days as an Initiate.” The boy glanced over his shoulder, noting that all the younglings save the little Zeltron had found their way to their duties. “I need to go supervise those younglings, but I hope I’ll see you later. I want to catch up!” He raised a hand in farewell as he trotted back to assist his youngest charge, gently ruffling the boy’s dark hair.
Erithon placed a hand on Aitahea’s shoulder. “Friend of yours?”
The Consular smiled contentedly. “A student of mine, somewhat. From the time I assisted the Minders, the way he does now. Many Padawans are given the responsibility of caring for Initiates during their training; I was no exception.” Aitahea leaned towards Erithon and allowed him to shift his arm around her shoulders into a casual embrace. She was so content she suddenly didn’t care who saw their display of affection, innocuous as it might be.
Erithon squeezed her shoulders gently. “Well, it looks like you did a good job, then. He’s a good kid.”
Aitahea nodded thoughtfully. “He was troubled as a youngling. Just so… angry.”
“That’s not really very Jedi-like behavior,” the trooper observed. “At least from what I understand.”
“No, but it wasn’t entirely his fault,” Aitahea admitted. “He was very nearly a casualty of the Separatist War on Ord Mantell. He was the only member of his family to survive the assault on his village.”
Erithon’s eyes grew dark. “I was on Ord Mantell, you know. First assignment. It was a nightmare, no matter what time of day it was. I don’t blame the kid for being angry.” Aitahea looked worriedly at his face, stunned at the righteous fury he poured into the Force. “I still dream about it,” he muttered, and the rage faded into regret and frustration.
Aitahea leaned her head on his shoulder, flooding the Force with comfort. The trooper calmed almost immediately and kissed the top of her head. “Telan did, too,” she added, sighing.
“Telan did it! I saw! Padawan Daviin!” A girl shrilled and pointed at the Twi’lek boy, arms folded and scowling. Before him on the ground sprawled another youngling, a Zabrak named Teo, reeling and looking confused. Aitahea, teenaged and exhausted, stood by in exasperation and shook her head. These were Jedi younglings? She didn’t ever recall being so… childish.
“Arriet, that’s enough. Everyone needs to sit, please. Practice your meditation,” Aitahea demanded, green eyes sweeping over the dozen younglings in her charge. They all turned to look at the slender older girl, dressed in a simple fitted tunic and pants, bright hair braided into a coronet atop her head, and a practice saber strapped to her back.
“But we already practiced meditation today, Padawan!” the same little girl, Arriet, argued. Aitahea closed her eyes for a split second, drawing hard on the Force for patience. Most of the other younglings had begun to settle down; Aitahea approached the human girl and took her hands, lowering her gently to a sitting position.
“I’ll tell you what, Arri, don’t tell anyone else, but I’d be okay if you even took a nap. How’s that sound?” The child nodded emphatically; she liked being singled out more than anything else, even if it was for something trivial. She immediately flopped to the ground and squeezed her eyes closed in mock slumber. Padawan Aitahea rolled her eyes and stood, brushing off the knees of her pants before walking towards Telan.
“What happened?” she demanded of both Twi’lek and Zabrak. “Quietly, please,” she amended, glancing at the students who had just settled into meditative positions.
Teo, finally recovered, jumped to his feet. “He pushed me! And not with his hands, either! It’s not allowed, Padawan!”
Aitahea tried unsuccessfully to shush him with a waved hand and pursed lips. A few of the more distractible students looked askance at the shouting boy. Aitahea shot them a pointed look and the majority of them closed their eyes again, at least feigning their meditations.
“Teo, please, quietly. I want to listen, but let’s not disturb the others,” the girl advised, looking back at Arri, who was peeking out of one eye. “Telan, what happened? Did you Force push Teo?”
The Twi’lek boy shrugged nonchalantly and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, but he started it.”
“I did not, I just-” Aitahea cut the furious Zabrak boy off with a frown, and he began to look embarrassed.
“Teo…” cautioned the Padawan, folding her arms. “A Jedi must be honest. Never mind that, all sentient beings should. Please.”
Teo huffed and looked away from Aitahea. “Okay, I called him some names. But I didn’t mean anything, Padawan Daviin.”
Aitahea gazed sadly at the Zabrak boy before gently grasping his shoulder. “Teo. Words are powerful, just as powerful as a lightsaber. You must use them with wisdom, not carelessness.” The boy’s shoulder’s drooped, and he glanced ruefully at Telan.
Telan just shrugged again and scowled at the ground. Aitahea spared him a solemn glance before turning back to the Zabrak. “Teo, please go join the others in meditation. You have a lot to consider at the moment.”
“Yes, Padawan,” the boy answered, drifting off to find an isolated spot.
Aitahea returned her attention to Telan, who stood rigid and aloof. His Force presence prickled with resentment and angst, despite his indifferent appearance. The Padawan observed him in silence for a few moments. Telan was only nine and had joined the Temple on Tython less than a standard year ago after he was discovered by a Jedi Knight brought in to support the Republic troops on Ord Mantell. He’d been hungry and dirty from living in the shadows of the war torn planet, alone for two years before he was found. It was the general consensus that the only reason he survived was because of his powerful connection to the Force.
But despite his strong Force sensitivity, Telan still struggled to fit in and find peace on Tython. Taking a deep breath, Aitahea suffused her Force presence with serenity and compassion, then reached to lay a hand on the youngling’s shoulder. To her surprise, he didn’t pull away or shrug her off, but instead sighed deeply and scrubbed at his eyes with one hand. Aitahea noticed the dark shadows under his eyes.
“Telan,” Aitahea began, “let’s sit down. Will you talk with me?” She motioned to a shady path a few yards away and the boy nodded his assent. Aitahea let him settle down first before sitting next to him, both of them silently watching the other younglings practice their meditation, some with more success than others.
“I’m sorry Teo was rude to you, Telan, and I think Teo is sorry as well,” the Padawan offered, and the boy looked at Aitahea, eyes pained.
“I’m not like he said, Padawan. I’m not lazy or a crybaby like Teo said,” he protested. “I’m just… I’m tired.”
“Why are you tired?” Aitahea asked gently, letting the boy lead the dialogue.
Telan hugged himself and looked away, across the Temple grounds. “I don’t sleep well, Padawan. I have nightmares.”
“Can you tell me about them?”
The boy swallowed thickly and shook his head, lekku swaying gently with the motion. “Don’t really wanna.”
Aitahea let their conversation fall silent, considering. She knew Telan’s history, a horrific childhood extraordinarily different from her own sheltered existence, despite her losses during the occupation of Coruscant.
“I used to have bad dreams, too, Telan,” she finally admitted, reaching for a connection. “You know I was one of the few Initiates to survive the Sacking of Coruscant, don’t you?”
Telan looked back at Aitahea then, eyes wide. “Yes, we’ve studied the attack. You were really lucky.”
Aitahea smiled warmly. Here was her opportunity, glowing as brightly as a lightsaber between them. “I don’t believe it was luck. The Force was guiding me, protecting me for something important I might do later.”
The boy turned away, eyes pensive and thoughtful. His Force presence was equally quiet. It was long moments before he spoke again.
“So… do you think the Force has a purpose for me, too, Padawan?”
Lifting her face to the brilliant Tython sunlight, Aitahea let her joy spill into the Force. She’d made a connection with the boy, and he himself had come to a profound conclusion without direct instruction. It was a powerful moment of learning and healing for them both. Telan started at the change in her demeanor and turned to look at the girl.
“Padawan? Are you alright?”
“Yes, Telan, I am,” Aitahea replied, standing and offering a hand to the boy. He took it with a quizzical look and allowed the older girl to bring him to his feet. “And as to your other question, yes, I believe the Force has a purpose for you as well. It has a purpose for all of us.”
A fresh light shone in Telan’s eyes, and he straightened his shoulders with a new resolve. “Padawan,” he began, gazing over at the other students, “I think I should spend some time in meditation.”
Aitahea smiled, placing a hand on Telan’s shoulder. “I believe I’ll join you.”
My revenge here was to see even the most challenged students succeed; perhaps this is less ‘revenge’ than my hope for the future, for all my students. The conversation Aitahea and Telan have was drawn from an extraordinarily similar conversation I personally had with a troubled 5th grade student just last month. Aitahea’s joy is a direct interpretation of my feelings after the real-life conversation; it felt like a great moment of success in my teaching career.
Also describing Aitahea as a Padawan results in one of those moments where I SO wish I could draw worth a damn. I want to just capture all those teenage gangly limbs and frustrated expression when she’s trying to get the kiddos settled.
I’m really super happy with and proud of this piece because it’s so close to my heart, especially now that I’ve had to resign from teaching because of the pregnancy (a few complications, but nothing this Jedi mama can’t handle). I hope you guys love it, too.