Glad you guys are liking it so far
Poor Veresia has a much tougher road than Ayrs though.
Lengthy italicized bits are flashbacks/memories
”Keep your guard up. Keep your guard up!” His blade crashed against mine with enough force to drive me back. “Focus on what your opponent and what their body and form reveal, not just what you feel through the Force.” He stabbed forward with his sword, but this time I was ready and parried it to the side. “Good”
We circled around the training area, each of us trying to figure out the other’s intentions. I feinted to his right, then landed a hit on the left side of this stomach. He stopped, breathing heavily a bit, then smiled broadly at me. “Nice job, you had me fooled. Guess I’m getting slow in my old age.”
I giggled. “You’re not that old, Dad. Plus, if I could use the Force, I would throw your lightsaber away and beat you.” I cheered at the thought of my own superior tactical mind.
He smiled slightly at that. “Yes, but not all of us can be prodigies with the Force like you, Verbear. And you know why you have to practice without it, right?”
For a moment, I scowled at the sound of my hated pet-name, but that passed quickly enough. I nodded. “I need to train myself so I can fight both with the Force and without it.”
“And?” I hated that question.
“And if I draw too much attention to myself, the Jedi Order might take me away to a temple.”
A shadow crossed over my father’s face. He almost never had a bad thing to say about his time as a Jedi but he was determined to keep me from becoming one and I didn’t know why. I hoped he would tell me one day.. “Right. Now, let’s get back to the house. I’m sure your mother is wondering where we’ve been.”
Mom was indeed waiting for us when we got back to the house, arms crossed in front of her chest and an unhappy look on her face. I knew it was trouble because she wasn’t just pretending; all of us knew what she looked like when she was pretending. Especially Ayrs, since he got in trouble so much.
“Everything okay, Val?” Dad noticed it too.
Mom shifted on her feet, and turned back into the house, responding over her shoulder. “Two Jedi are in the living room with a mission for you. An important one, apparently.” I had never seen her so upset, Dad must have done something really bad, but I didn’t understand what. The Jedi were heroes and so was Dad, so maybe they had to save someone.
I went up to my room, and spent the next three hours doing some homework. I hated math, but Ayrs said it would be good practice for when I helped him launder money. I didn’t understand what math had to do with laundry but I didn’t want to admit that to him. I heard the front door open and close, I heard Mom and Dad yelling at each other about something. Then it got quiet for a bit, but after a while they started yelling again, about the Jedi and other stuff I didn’t recognize.
Ayrs called me into his room, so I made my way down the hall. He had Dio doing his science homework at the desk and had arranged Ally’s stuffed animals around his bed. I think he and Ally were having a tea party with them.
He looked at me a little funny. “We’re just going to hang out here, ok Ver?”
I nodded, and sat down next to Ally’s stuffed wampa, Wampaboo. He smelled kind of funny, but Ally was really attached to him, and also her stuffed nerf, Nerfyboo. I thought she needed better names for her stuffed animals, but whenever I brought it up she just got mad. We had a good time, though, even when Banthaboo and Ayrs got in an argument over who had eaten the last cookie.
Later on Mom called us downstairs to the living room. Her face was bright red, and I think she might have been crying. Dad’s eyes were clearer but he looked sad anyway as he knelt before us.
“I have to go away for a little while, to help some of my friends. I’ll be back soon, though. I promise.”
My eyes opened.
Something was amiss, I could feel palpable tension in the Force from the hallway outside. I reached over next to me and felt nothing but air. Kory’s side of the bed was cool as well, too cool for her to have just gotten up. My stomach lurched as I wakened more fully and checked the time on the chronometer. Still an hour until our breakfast of gruel and what tastes like broken glass.
I shook my head and slid out of bed, making sure my vibro-blade was at the ready before making my way to the door.
I was halfway across the room when it slid open on its own. A red hand shoved Kory into the room. She stumbled, tried and failed to regain her balance, and then fell. I noticed cuts and bruises on her where-ever her robe was not. My nostrils flared as I recognized the smug look of satisfaction, and the face that wore it. Ffon Althe.
“Hello, worm. I found your pet scurrying around the academy and decided to return her to you. No doubt you would find yourself unable to function without her. Not that that says much, as you are an inferior being yourself and unable to comprehend the true intricacies of the Force. You are a blot, a waste of carbon-based life matter. I look forward to your end. Your pet’s end, too.”
I gave him a mocking round of slow applause before curling the end of my lip into a sneer. “Good to see you Ffon, I feared you might not remember how to find your way around the academy with all the time you spend writing your memoirs. What chapter are you on now, the one where you describe your heroic butchering of mere children? Or the one where you describe, in the most loving of terms, how you’ve managed to progress so far while needing only daily help and support from Harkun.?”
If he had been another race, his face would have been as red as it was now. As it was, I could be satisfied with the reaction I felt through the Force.
“You, you…worthless worm.” I sighed as he waved a shaking finger at my face. “You trifle with powers beyond your own, you challenge your betters. What do you know of the Force? Of my power?” His eyes took on an almost desperate look and I noticed some spittle forming in his mouth. “You are but a slave, a proud slave perhaps, but nothing more. If you are lucky, I will take you to be a member of my harem when I am anointed a true Sith and take my place on the Dark Council.”
I snorted, trying to hold back my laughter for the moment.
“You are nothing, Ffon. You are a scrambling, scrabbling rat. You owe your successes, such as they are, to the fact that Harkun cannot bear the thought of you failing. Your mastery of the Force is barely that of an untrained child. And your dreams of being on the Dark Council? How shall I put this, I have seen more realistic stories in soap operas.” His neck was tensing, I was getting to him. “I must confess, I do admire something about you, though. Namely, that you manage to remember how to breathe ever morning and haven’t ended your life in the ignominious way I will.”
The finger was back in my face, furiously waving. “You have no right to speak to me that way.” His voice was deliciously petulant. “You can’t threaten me like that. I am a Sith!”
I laughed in his face, I needed to give no other response to express my contempt.
He reacted by grabbing Kory around the neck, and placing “Do you want your pet to die? If so, please continue your insults.” He gave me a sneer, no doubt assuming I would be intimidated by his childish bullying.
“Unhand her or, by the Force, I will un-man you.” I pointed my blade towards my target and was rewarded with a sudden flicker of fear across his face and in his Force presence, which intensified as Force Lightning crackled in my free hand. “Now, be a good boy and run back to Harkun like the dog you are. Hurry, before I get angry.”
For a moment I thought he might develop a backbone, might refuse my demand, but only for a moment. Ffon was like any childhood bully; not only was his bark much worse than his bite, he was also a coward through and through. Unwilling to challenge or fight those that could stand against him, unable to function without the backing of Harkun and the other overseers that worked under him. He turned, eyes open in unadulterated fear, and exited hastily.
I felt a slight twinge of pity for the Sith, but it did not last long. He might have been brought to this state by a system well beyond anything he had control over, he might well have proven to be a better person if he had had the opportunity.
None of that mattered, though. The Ffon Althe that might have been didn’t exist; all the world had was the Ffon Althe that was. And I will have to end him, before he does any more damage, before he harmed anyone else.
With Ffon gone, I moved to where Kory sat shuddering on the floor and sat down next to her. She leaned against me, using my shoulder for support and wrapping her arms around me. “He showed me things in my mind, through the Force...” Her voice trailed off and she shuddered again. I slipped an arm around her waist and rested my head on top of hers.
“It’s okay, Kory, he’s gone now. I won’t let him do that to you again. I won’t let him do that to anyone. I promise.”
Ally and I were almost done washing Wampaboo when I heard the ringer on the front door buzz. I peeked downstairs and saw Mom letting two men in brown robes with funny looking hair inside. It looked like she was shaking, but I didn’t understand why. It was a nice day.
I felt Ayrs grab my arm. “Get in your room, take Ally with you. Stay inside until I get back.” His voice was angry and that kind of scared me, but I nodded and did like he said. Ayrs moved past us and went downstairs to sit with Mom and the two men. He always got to do things like that since he was the oldest.
After a while I heard a strange wailing sound from downstairs and then some shouting. Something crashed against the floor, it sounded like glass being broken. Ally looked at me.
I listened carefully, but couldn’t hear anything more. Then I remembered that the men in brown robes were the same ones that had visited a few weeks before, when Mom and Dad had fought and then Dad had said he had to go somewhere for a little while. I snuck outside into the hallway and saw Mom and Ayrs hugging each other tightly, it looked like they were crying, and I knew. I knew.
I snuck back my room.
“I think it’s about Daddy. I think something bad happened, Ally.” I wasn’t sure what else to say.
“He pwomised he’d come back, he pwomised!” She started to cry. So did I.
I had no answer, so I just held her.
I had promised myself I wouldn't be like my father. I promised myself now that it wouldn’t be for Kory like it was for me. I figured that if I kept telling myself that, I might believe it.