Ashi Tevarl stood across the narrow strip of mountainous crag from her contemporary, Imalas, with two sabers in her hands.
The first saber, green, had been made for her by Imalas. The second had been made by Sandra, a brilliant and pretty blue that shone bolder than the first by a certain measure. Sandra had a good craftsmanship with training foils. It hadn’t kept Ashi from working her saberstaff, with her own brilliant and charming reddish hue, to the absolute bone though. It had broken earlier in the day, fighting in the mountains, and she hadn’t had a chance to ask for it’s repair yet. It was her favorite.
And she really felt like she needed it now.
Sandra had asked them to duel. She stood off to the side and talked with Ristin, whose property they were performing on, and who lingered near, Ashi presumed, for curiosity’s sake. It made her nervous. A lot of things made her nervous.
Imalas had always been her senior. Grim, proper, robed in brown, Ashi could have picked him out from a crowd and pointed and said he was a Jedi, and nobody would have disbelieved her for a second. “Mister Jedi” Ristin had greeted him. And Ashi was just Ashi.
He had a green saber and a large energy shield, and considering all his training, he would know how to use them. That was one of her worries. He was bigger, that was another. Training longer. More powerful with the force. He was basically cut out for this. Meanwhile, Ashi was dressed light - lighter than her usual. She had Bangles on her arms, Kark sakes.
But now she had to duel him. How?
“When you are both ready, begin.”
Ashi pitched it. All in.
She closed the distance on the balls of her feet and launched herself, hand first. He held up his shield, and she hit it with everything at once, every ounce of her Force. He staggered and she struck his shield.
Their foils clashed and roared as she caught a blow meant for her head with her left hand foil, and the two green sabers blazed like fire as the blue crackled against that energy bulwark. He was stronger than her. She could feel it in the struggle.
But she didn’t want to lose.
Over the flash of their sabers she stared into his dark brown eyes with her indigo, and tapping into her desperation, she pushed a different way - and that did it.
When she had tried to shove on Sandra’s mind it had been like pitching up against a brick wall. She had tried for an entire half an hour and when she had finally managed, she had been utterly exhausted.
But when she seized him, he went over, stunned.
The battle took all of fifteen seconds after that. He fought from the ground, defensive and methodical Shii-cho pitched against her practiced Makashi. But what she had done to his mind robbed it of buoyancy.
She had won, with only a single bruise on her shin, where he had tried to kick her from the ground.
Sandra congratulated her. Ristin said it had been amazing.
People said other things. Ashi had a hard time paying attention to them.
She felt burned out. Used. Spent. Uncomfortable. Like a bully that had just stolen someone’s favorite sash, only to see the look on their face afterwards and feel instantly guilty.
All this time she’d thought she was the smallest Jedi in the whole world, but she wasn’t. She wasn’t. He was stronger than she was, but she had just torn him to pieces. Unrefined, Sandra had said. Swinging too wide. And had he been prepared it would have been more even. But he hadn’t been.
Still, she reflected as she picked her way down after Taryn towards Sandra’s ship, threading through the rocks dotting the raw mountainside, she didn’t quite feel like she deserved it. Imalas had said he would take a walk, rather than seeing Elora. And Ashi knew that feeling very well. After all, they had just traded places, in a way.
She wanted to reach out. But would that hurt the more? Was it her place? Wouldn’t Sandra help him along, after all?
Was she taking too much of Sandra’s time?
The feeling lingered as she took the helm, going through the routine she had been taught. Thrusters. Landing gear. Stabilizers. The ship rumbled. Something else she was learning, just because she hung around like a puppy and pawed for it.
I can’t solve everyone’s problems, I guess.