This tale is focused on Kian Shekk, at the time a seven year old boy. Innocent, naive, and the rest you'll see.
(I've divided it into two parts so that, if you've read the first part already, you can easily skip to the second.)
Part 1, Chapter 1.
Kian giggled and raced after the darting girl. The green and tan walls around blurred past into a splash of color, sweat beaded on his forehead and he struggled for breath. But he wouldn’t stop. He wouldn’t let a girl beat him - least of all Kim.
His youthful scream echoed down the hall as Kian struggled to gain ground on his playmate. Kim was sly and swift, while Kian much taller and thicker, yet still the frame of a seven-year-old. Around sharp corners and narrow passageways they dashed - startling the troubled old Jedi pondering around the halls as they flew past.
But it wouldn’t last - not with Kian’s reputation on the line! He bit his lip and surged forward, bringing to mind his father’s often repeated words. Use the Force, Kian, use the Force. He reached deep within, ignoring the physical exertion of the moment. He fumbled for the inner feeling - then suddenly his body sprang to life with new vigor. His feet hardly touched the floor as he shot ahead, cutting corners close and making quick work of long halls and steep stairs.
Kim shrieked, just as Kian leapt forward and tackled her to the ground.
“Aha!” He laughed, a pompous grin spreading over his childish face as he rolled off of Kim. “I gotcha!”
Kim pushed Kian further with a mock frown. “Cheater,” she murmured, yet couldn’t contain the giggles rising up within herself.
Kian shook his head, suddenly solemn. “Nuttuh! I won-ed fairly-and-squarely!”
Kim opened her mouth to protest - but only a squeak came out, and she froze like a rock. She quickly lifted herself off the ground, dusting her robes, and straightened, her face a mask of complete soberness.
Kian scrambled to his feet as well, for though he had not seen what caused the change of attitude in his friend, he knew immediately the only Jedi that could put a happy girl to shame without a single word uttered. Kian hung his head as he stood perfectly straight before the glaring eyes above.
“Sorry, Master Djo,” Kian and Kim echoed.
Kian didn’t dare raise his head, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Kim had. She was staring straight up at the old Jedi. Kian shivered. He wouldn’t dare do that - Djo-im’s eyes were like bonfires, they raged uncontrollably, they scorched hearts and happiness alike. Strict as the saber, the middle-aged Jedi was a stubborn, bold man - already on the Council as a Master. Even Younglings knew Djo - they knew who he was, and who he wasn’t. He wasn’t a kind, loving Jedi. He was a master of war. He wasn’t a man to be questioned by anyone but another Master on the Council - or Kian’s father. He was an aggressive soldier - he was dangerous. But not brute force alone. Though strict to the Order, even Younglings knew Djo - they knew he reeked with danger. He never shirked anything in war, possibly even to the extent of using the Dark Side . . . But was it true? A common rumor, yes, but he couldn’t be trusted if-
Kian was wrenched out of his thoughts as Djo stepped forward, and, with the tips of his fingers, raised Kian’s chin. “Kian,” his teeth snapped as he inspected the Youngling with his harsh voice and harsher eyes. “Kian and Kim, go to your clan house immediately. Do you know what could have happened if you were caught out here when the blast doors sealed? The Sith are coming!”
Kian and Kim’s eyes met worriedly. Sith? their minds echoed in unison.
Djo pushed the Younglings down the hall towards their clan house. “The Sith, you hear?! Move, move, move!”
“Yes, Master Djo-im!” they murmured, already racing as fast as their weary feet could take them. They exchanged fearful glances all the way back. Something deep was amiss.
At the clan house blast door, Kian’s father stood with shoulders thrown back and a powerful gaze extending over the room, dotted with other Jedi. He smiled at his son and Kim as they came nearer. He kneeled and patted their shoulders. “There’re the rascals! Now get inside quickly.” His eyes fell upon Kian, and the blue fire in them seemed to sink to a dull grey. “When in times of trouble, use the Force, Kian, use the Force.”
Kian’s lips parted slightly, before his father slapped him on the shoulder reassuringly once more and disappeared into the midst of a group of other Jedi. He stared after his father a moment longer. Kim hesitated, but grabbed hold of Kian in a moment and pulled him inside the clan house room. She didn’t notice his childish face creased with worry.
Part 2, Chapter 1.
A rumble, in the distance, yet so close. Shots echoed far away, yet so near. Kian shivered and huddled up against Master Kaleeth’s side. What was happening out there, beyond those silver-blue blast doors? The Sith were coming - the Sith. Cruel, evil men, shrouded in darkness. They were mysteries. The Lightside showed, the Darkside hid. Even old Master Ora said that.
Another youngling whimpered, the old Master Kaleeth hugged the boy tight, shushing him comfortingly. Kian glanced around the room. Fear was rife in all of them, even Kian’s young seven year old eyes could see that. All, that is, but in Kim. She stood defiantly at the blastdoors, hands on her hips and a chin raised determinedly.
Throwing back his shoulders and setting his jaw, Kian wobbled over to his friend at the doors. They mutually stared at them for a moment, before Kian finally turned. “What’s happening out there?” His young voice was shaky and unsettled.
Kim continued to stare forward. “My cousin is out there.”
“Padawan Ina?” Kian asked, looking at the doors with worry.
Kim nodded. “What if . . . what if something happened to her?”
Kian’s eyes widened. “Do you mean, like . . .?” Death wasn’t a subject the Masters taught younglings. But in times of war, it was always there. It hung above, always there, always.
Kim’s lower lip trembled. Kian glanced over to her, and saw something in her big blue eyes.
“We have to do something.” She turned to him, staring hard. His little understanding of the world was enough though - he could see a drastic flame in her eyes leap to life.
“You mean, go out there? D’you think that would be fun?” Kian asked.
Kim crossed her arms, rearranging the youngling training lightsaber at her side. “It’s not a question of fun or not fun.”
“It isn’t?” Kian asked. “Why would we go out there then?” He glanced down at his own practice saber, his brow scrunching.
Kim turned away from the doors. “Because something bad is going on. I once heard of an evil Sithman who destroyed an entire world with the squeeze of his hand while he was in a cockpit in space.”
Kian gasped and glanced around the room feverishly. “What? Nuttuh! No way! Who was that guy?” Was that true? How could it be?
“Darth Ohmy,” Kim replied with a fierce curve in her brow.
“You mean Darth Yomar?” Kian scratched his forehead. “He didn’t crush a planet, I heard he just threw an asteroid into the capital city.”
Kim made a throaty growl, but dismissed the subject. Grabbing him by the hand, Kim then rushed into a hallway of the clan house that led into a circular room, one of the sleeping stations branching off that of the main clan house area. It was the girl’s bedding room, lined with dozens of cots, dressers, mirrors, and some other necessities. Kim glanced back to the main room, where the majority of younglings crowded around Kaleeth, who continued to comfort the children unbeknownst of Kian and Kim.
Kim turned back, ran to a dresser, and started pulling it away from the wall. Kian ran over to her. “What’re you doing?”
Kim pulled a moment longer, before letting go of it and pointing behind the dresser, struggling to reclaim her breath. “If you’d just help me, we could get to the vendilnation thing.”
“It’s not called the vendilnation!” screeched Kian. “I heard Ina say it was called the ventul-ation.”
“My cousin isn’t dumb enough to call it that!” cried Kim.
Kian gasped. “Are you callin’ me dumb?!”
“What?!” Kim cried. “Why’d you think I did? You’re my friend, I wouldn’t ever call you that.”
“Because, well . . .” Kian cocked his eyebrow and tilted his head.
Kim growled and grabbed him by the shoulder, then rushed behind the dresser and ducked under the low rim of the ventilation pipe.
Kian giggled and squirmed with excitement. “Just like in the good stories!” He followed after Kim, falling to all fours as he entered the super secret passageway - of sorts.
They continued further in until Kim decided that they were a good distance away from the clan house. She pushed another grate out of the way and they stumbled out of the pipe.
Kian sneezed as he stood upright, dust flying all about the room. He sniffled, then look at his dimly lit surroundings. “A storage room?” he questioned.
Kim wouldn’t waste any time though, and she opened the door, letting in a stream of light into a hallway. “C’mon!” she yelled, surging out already, Kian following. After a few minutes of steady running, Kian grasped at his side and leaned up against the wall, struggling for breath. “We needa . . . break.”
Kim glanced down the hallway again eagerly, but then sighed and came to a stop. “You needa break.”
Kian’s eyes went wide. “Nuttuh! You’re just as tired as-”
Suddenly, they both froze.
A shriek, faint and a long distance away - but it was still the distinct cry of a man in pain, in death.
“Wh-what w-was that?” a sharp feeling of hurt - of fear - rose up in Kian. Whoever that was out there was dying. It was a stagnant ache in the air. Another scream. Closer to death now. Kian’s heart throbbed, he edged closer to Kim and hugged himself.
Kim’s eyes darted about the hallway and she grasped the training lightsaber at her side.
The two huddled against each other, their fearful eyes peering down the hall.
Metallic footsteps. The far off hum of a lightsaber.
Kian’s heart leapt and he choked as he attempted to swallow. His hand shook as he grasped onto his own small training saber.
A second saber hummed to life and within seconds the two clashed.
Kian glanced around the hall for the source - but to no avail. What was happening out there? Where was it? Somewhere near, there was no doubt of that.
Another ghostly scream as a lightsaber muffled under a cover of flesh.
A Sith and a Jedi. They had battled, that was clear to Kian. But who had won? Who had fallen?
The boots began again - but this time, over a slick surface.
Slowly, both Kian’s and Kim’s eyes were drawn towards one end of the hall, ending at a sharp corner. A heavy shadow fell upon the wall.
The two younglings backed against each other further, falling to a huddle of a ball on the floor, staring at the massive, jagged shadow. The hum of a saber grew stronger. Around the corner a shape came into view - first a bulking mass of fur and steel, and then a blue lightsaber - a blue, cold saber. The fear had not relieved itself from the children before a blood red saber appeared at its side. A full man stepped into the light.
“Ah, children,” came a stony voice from cracked, pale lips.
Kian lifted his head involuntarily until the man’s heavy eyes fell upon them like a boulder. “How typical of Jedi. Come here my wee bits - feel the power of the Sith. Embrace your fate.”
Something overcame Kian like a tidal wave. A force that emanated from the Sith. Strength, power, superiority - it was all there, right before him.
~R. A. H. Thacker
~R. A. H. Thacker