I winced as I heard the unmistakable sound of a skull cracking. The prisoner next to me was just thrown against the slimy wall. I would be surprised if he was still alive.
A trooper went to check. "Dead," he declared.
The officer scoffed. "These scum are too soft for my taste," he grumbled, "how will we find the perfect one?"
I silently seethed. I would have gone to wrap his throat in a second if I didn't have better sense. I would be dead in a second.
They went on looking for tough beings and gave them grueling tests. The reward will be death. The punishment will be death. It was only a matter of time.
There were plenty left who can be added to the growing list, but all of them already looked half dead. Families scurried to stay with each other, while others simply stayed where they were, waiting to be tested. The troopers roughly broke out the prisoners, looking for the perfect ones. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw tears of joy when troopers walked past them, and cries of terror when they were added on the list.
Soon enough the two lists were full with beings scraped from every corner of the galaxy. Some tried to prevent others from being dragged away, but they all knew it was futile. Barriss and Kalifa could do nothing wiser than just sadly watch them go.
On the middle of the third list, they picked Kalifa. Though it was exactly what we wanted, Kalifa's eyes brimmed with tears that make the show look so real. "Please. No," She croaked, making her face look desperate.
They dragged her away anyway. She seemed to resist a little, then Barriss turned her head, looking surprised as if she saw her dragged away for the first time. "No!" She cried, grabbing on to Kalifa's foot. Eva tried to hold Barriss back.
The guards slammed their rifles on Barriss's hip, and I saw her twist a little to absorb it. Fake tears rolled down her cheeks as she whimpered, "No. Please. No."
Eva tugged Barriss back as the officer came. "Well, well, well," he said, " What do we have here." He smiled devilishly at us all.
The trooper straightened. "We are to take her, sir." He gestured to Kalifa, who was pretending to tremble in fear.
"Well. Since she wanted to go to, maybe we should let her," said the officer conversationally, gesturing to Barriss. Her eyes showed barely suppressed panic, or so it seems. Eva still tried to draw her back.
The officer also took Eva. Though her eyes were wide with fake fear, there was a small smile of triumph they didn't see.
"Anyway, don't worry. We'll be out in fresh air soon," he continued. Suddenly, his balance seemed to falter and he stepped back on my foot and I gave a grunt. For that grunt, the trooper slammed me so hard I saw stars. Eroda and Ward rushed forward as my knees buckled and gave away.
I was wondering where the hell that came from when Kalifa gave me an apologetic look. That increased my suspicions... something weird is going on. About her and Barriss. I can't wonder very well, though, because my head was swimming. As soon as it cleared, I saw the thunderous look of the officer and rough hands pulling me up out of Eroda and Ward's grasp. Oh... good. They plan to take me along for the ride. This time I was glad I didn't say that out of sarcasm.
"Take that girl too," growled the officer, "That should be enough."
Ward raged up to pull Eroda back. But then he got a slam in the head. I winced. I would have gone after him if there wasn't a hand holding me back.
The officer was clearly suspicious that no one learnt from another's mistakes. He narrowed his eyes and beckoned the trooper to take us to where the others are being held. After receiving a sharp jab I reluctantly followed. The others aren't taking it, though. I expected that Kalifa would think of another grand plan to take Ward. She did exactly that.
She straightened herself. And she smiled... like the togruta she was. With a voice calmer than the calmest, she spoke and moved her hand over the officer's face. "Actually, you want to take him."
The officer look dazed and repeated, "Actually, I want to take him."
The trooper looked alarmed. But before he could do anything, Barriss was on him and passed a hand over his face. His shoulders slumped and he remained calm.
I distantly heard Barriss murmur, "Here's your boots. I love 'em. Much better than mines after the drag on Raxus Prime." I distantly saw Kalifa rolling her eyes and smiling, being sure to keep it from the guards. They were successful- as they were successful in everything so far.
There. I knew it. Something was not right. They're- Jedi. Yes, Jedi. The same conclusion I reached in the beginning, only to discard it on her words. She told me half the truth. That explains everything... from the warm feeling inside me whenever they're near to when they jump around saving people with their extraordinary courage and awesome powers. I made up my mind to talk to them.
Eroda and Ward aren't feeling it, though. Their eyes were running through Barriss's hidden devices, looking for a device that clouds thinking. I wanted to roll my eyes.
Eva stood there, waiting, with her face blank. She showed no sign of surprise anything. I guess she was an ordinary rebel... or as ordinary as anything can be these days.
The rest of the things happened in a blur. Ward was with us and we were taken of to this cell. Eva stayed with Eroda and Ward while I stayed with Barriss. Kalifa was in the next cell. I sat there, waiting, looking for a way to process everything in my overloaded brain. I sensed Barriss's eyes on me as I finally looked up.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
She sighed. I know she was not fooled.
"Fine. Something," I said quietly, letting my eyes drop. She came to my side and sat next to me.
"What is it?" she whispered.
Then I felt it. I felt what she felt. She was in much turmoil as I was. I felt the bond between us. We just met, and I seemed to know her my whole life. I never trusted or befriend anyone new after my mother's death. The pain is almost unbearable when you lost someone close. Every one and everything will die. Especially in the prison. But every instinct in my body said that I can trust her even after all that had happen. And so I did.
"You're Jedi. You and Kalifa- if that's even your real names."
Surprise showed on her face for half a second. Then it was gone... it seemed as if she suspected this all along. She smiled.
"Huh. At last she's been proved right. I lost the bet. Kalifa expected this all along. She felt something special in you-"
"Yes. Everybody has something special... but you have something that could get you far. She felt it all along. That's why she wanted to take you along- you of all beings."
"Oh" was all I could say. My mouth hang open. I vividly heard sounds that probably indicate the ship landing.
Barriss continued. "Why did we decide to take you along? Because we know you’re Force-sensitive. Eroda and Ward were your friends, so we took them to.”
My mouth still hung open.
“Don’t you ever wonder why you were in prison for so long without dying?”
I have wondered that. Why did I live for fourteen years and they did not execute me? Not that I was in a hurry to die. I always thought it was out of luck, but recent events showed me there was no such thing. Even Kalifa said so.
She nodded, sensing my thoughts as usual. As she stood up and got ready for the adventure, I felt assured. Time will tell everything. What my destiny was going to be and my purpose in life is going to become clear. Now, I learnt to live in the present moment. It will all be the way it was meant to be. It will the way wanted by the will of the Force.