8 years ATC.
Ky-an completed the docking maneuvers with the orbital station above the planet Tallista III and, after thumbing a switch that opened a channel to his master, announced their arrival at the station. His master acknowledged this with a word and closed the channel, leaving the Padawan to ruminate on his own. He tried to sort through his thoughts, but to no avail.
He simply had no information. His Master had been vague about the details of this mission, and had spent most of the trip alone in his quarters. The Tallista system was a relatively unimportant one, as far as galactic affairs went, with only minor pirate incursions, funded by the Empire of course, meant to distract and tax the Republic forces. So why had his master come here?
Slowing his breathing, the young Zabrak steeled himself against imagined reproach, carefully selecting the words he would use to inquire about their mission. He left the cockpit and headed for the exit ramp of the ship, which wasn’t far in a Defender class starship, walking with measured steps. Occasionally, he liked to jump over the railing down to the hatch, but not today.
Today, it was taking every ounce of his strength to keep the fear off his face.
At the bottom of the stairs, Jedi Master Sreya Alcyon was waiting for him, dressed in the typical commonplace robes of their order. The Jedi’s lightsaber hung from his left hip, and his auburn hair was combed in the simple fashion he always wore it in, complete with the single braid originating above his right temple, and a short goatee. Ky-an had asked him once, why he still wore the braid of a Padawan, to which Sreya had replied that it served to help him stay humble, and to remember that a Jedi’s learning was never complete.
“Ky-an,” Sreya spoke as he approached, “I’m your Master. I would hope by now you would see me as a mentor and a friend, not as some harsh task-master.”
Ky-an blinked, taken aback by his Master’s comment, but simultaneously comforted by the warmth in his tone. “Was I that obvious?” the padawan asked.
Sreya shook his head and smiled slightly. “To the naked eye, no. But I could sense your fear radiating off you.”
“I’m sorry, Master,” Ky-an replied, “I know that I shouldn’t feel fear-“
“No,” Sreya interrupted. “Fear is a perfectly natural emotion. I would be worried if you never felt it. Whether or not you let it affect your thoughts and actions is what matters.
“Your measured steps,” he continued, “your posture, your facial expression. They were all far from how you usually act. Were they chosen to affect the outcome of our conversation, or to help you with your fears?”
“Well, in a manner of speaking, I wanted to affect the conversation by showing that I wasn’t afraid to broach the subject.”
Sreya nodded. “And to the casual observer, you were the very model of Jedi serenity, but I know you. This behavior was highly out of the ordinary. Had you sprung over the railing with your customary enthusiasm, then I would have known that you had your fears firmly under control.”
Ky-an grimaced. “As it is, I’m walking a tightrope, aren’t I?”
Again, his master nodded, but not in disappointment. Master Sreya truly relished every opportunity to learn, and since Ky-an had demonstrated respect for the learning process and no harm was done, he knew Sreya would understand.
“But come,” Sreya said as he keyed in the commands to open the hatch. “Tell me what it is that troubles my young Padawan so, and more importantly, why you were afraid to speak to me about it.”
Ky-an found the spring in his step once more as he and master walked side by side through the airlock corridor. Perking up, he moved forward with his question.
“You’ve been so vague about this mission, Master. Why are we here? What’s so important about an insignificant planet in the back-end of the galaxy?”
Sreya smiled, “There’s the boundless curiosity that helped me choose my first Padawan. But why were you afraid to ask me?”
Ky-an noticed the re-direct. “The whole trip, I’ve sensed something from you that I’ve never sensed before. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s been extremely disconcerting.”
His master nodded without replying, gazing ahead of them with a thoughtful expression. They reached the other side of the corridor, but before Sreya could key in the commands to open this door, Ky-an placed his hand over the controls and looked his master square in the eyes.
“With all due respect, Master, you have not answered my question.”
Sreya sighed, but held his gaze. “We are digging up my past, Ky-an. I fear the choices I have made in my life have formed a confluence of events that will culminate here, on Tallista III.”
A chill ran down his spine despite the stale air of the spaceport that hit his face as his master keyed open the hatch. He could not help it, in the pit of his stomach he had a very bad feeling.