Suddenly, it dawned on Lea.
“You!” Lea gasped in horror. The pieces had finally come together. “ You are Darth Rokoi!” How could she have been so foolish?
A crooked grin flashed across Mai’s face. She stood up, to continue her tale.
“You were too good. Too good. Always winning. Always at the top of the class. I was not about to be beat by my own Padawan. So I commanded the other students to drive you out of my academy. I didn’t want you then, and I don’t want you now.”
The clouds began to open and rain poured down, mixing with Lea’s silent tears.
Lea’s heart was breaking. A sob rose up in her chest, and she fought to keep it from escaping. “How could you do this?” She cried out, resisting the urge to pull out her lightsaber and end the struggle once and for all.
Mai wasn’t finished. “I do not want you. I am more powerful now then you will ever be.”
“The Dark side is not powerful!” Lea screamed, trying to be heard over the thunder and lightning that shook the ground.
“I am amused by your ignorance.” Mai said, a wicked smile playing on the edge of her lips. “But there is something I do want. That is the lightsaber.”
Lea’s hand went to her belt.
Mai laughed. “That lightsaber does not belong to you. It’s not even yours.”
Lea’s first thought was one of denial. “It is mine. I made it when you and I went to the cave and we searched for crystals. You remember that, don’t you? ”
Mai pulled another lightsaber out of her belt from under her robe and held it out. “This one is yours, Lea.”
Looking up, Lea realized with horror that the hilt Mai held in her hand was indeed her own lightsaber. The scratch shaped like a leaf, she had made when she’d fallen down the rocky hill during a fight with a nexu. The dents on the bottom edge, from continuingly being dropped. It was hers.
Why had she not noticed that before?
“You must be wondering..” Mai Reu started.
“Whose lightsaber do I have?” Lea asked, pulling the now-foreign object out of her belt.
Her breath caught in her throat.
It was Luke Skywalker’s.
Her mind immediately flashed back to that one night that changed everything.
The darkness swallowed everything. Her hands touching cool metal. Find the one, find mine. Digging through the case. Not hers, not hers. Digging deeper. More metal. More lightsabers.
Then, the grooves. The ones she had on hers. The black lines made an indent on her fingertips. She pulled out the lightsaber and felt the bottom. The dents were there. Was there a scratch? Possibly.. Too much darkness to see. But she hadn’t remembered to check for it.
Hand shaking, Lea had pulled open her messenger bag she had grabbed from under her bed. It was one of the few things she had left. The other kids had stolen the rest as one of their bullying tactics.
She stuffed the lightsaber in the bag and closed it.
Then she ran. Driven out. By my own classmates, she had thought. But no.
By my own teacher.
“And now,” Mai Reu said, “Give me the lightsaber.”
“Give me mine.”Lea demanded, holding the stolen lightsaber in a defensive position.
“You stubborn child. I will not give you your lightsaber unless you give Luke’s to me.” Mai Reu counteroffered. “It belongs to me.”
“Then you’ll have to fight me for it,” Lea insisted, her eyes fastened to Mai Reu’s face.
Mai Reu was enraged. Her yellow eyes seemed to bore into Lea’s soul. The darkness and evil were truly there. The lightsaber offered little comfort to the situation.
She didn’t even know why she wanted Luke’s lightsaber. Couldn’t she just give his lightsaber to Darth Rokoi , and she would leave her family alone forever? Lea would be out of the equation. Nothing would happen to her. But what about the rest of the world? Me? Saving the world, and possibly the galaxy? I don’t think so. But Lea was willing to try.
Darth Rokoi threw Lea’s lightsaber to the ground. Lea swallowed . Her throw had been so powerful that the lightsaber hilt was now half-buried in the dirt.
“If that’s how you want to play..” Darth Rokoi said, pulling her own lightsaber hilt from her belt. Lea noticed it was not the one with the horizontal zigzags like she had remembered. Rokoi had made herself a new lightsaber. One with a blood-red kyber crystal.
She stood in her black robes, watching Lea.
“Your move.” Lea taunted, her voice shaking. She had always viewed giving the first move as a sign of weakness. Not so with Darth Rokoi. She swept her lightsaber up, and Lea’s breath caught in her throat for the second time that day.
Darth Rokoi seemed faster than Lea remembered. Stronger, more alert, never tiring. Lightsabers clashing, Lea and Rokoi fought. The air was filled with the hissing sound of lightsaber blades.
“You’re weak.” Darth Rokoi whispered, just loud enough for Lea to hear as Lea parried her blow. “You’re not as strong as you once were.”
Ignore, ignore, Lea though. The Force must flow through me. Attack after attack Lea blocked.
But Darth Rokoi was gaining on her, pushing her back into the forest. Lea was out of breath, and the fight had just begun. Lea knew her former master’s favorite tricks, strengths, and weakness. Unfortunately, Mai Reu knew hers.
And just as Lea imagined it might happen, it did.
Darth Rokoi lunged.
It was low, not too far off the ground. But just enough to through Lea off-balance in her effort to deflect the red blade. She fell to the ground, the lightsaber flew out of her hand.
Lea closed her eyes. She was finished. Any moment now Darth Rokoi would be upon her and she would be destroyed.
No. The Force. The Force was still there.
Lea breathed, calming herself. Slowly, she stretched out her arm. She could almost feel the cool metal against her fingertips. Imagining, believing Luke’s lightsaber was there, and would come to her from the forest floor.
Her instructor’s wicked cackle broke Lea’s concentration. “Trying to use the Force, I see.”
Opening her eyes, Lea stared at her empty hand in confusion. “But, why..”
“The Force doesn’t work here.”
The Force surrounds every living thing… Lea immediately played back the words of hundreds of Jedi Masters. They all said it. It must be true. She believed it with all her heart.
So stretching out her arm once more, Lea reached out to the Force. To push the lightsaber into her hand, where she imagined it. The energy wall between Lea and her hilt was larger, but Lea’s mind pushed on. Closer, closer. And when she heard Rokoi gasp, she opened her eyes and was astonished to see the lightsaber hilt in her hand.
And before Lea could blink, Darth Rokoi’s blade can crashing down towards her. Lea screamed on instinct, but it was also instinct that whipped her lightsaber up and drove Darth Rokoi into a blade lock.
“You’re wrong,” Lea said simply after a moment, as she twirled her lightsaber and pushed the red blade away. She stood up and backed away, a newfound energy hummed throughout her body.
Darth Rokoi came running at her but this time Lea was unafraid. With a defiant look in her eye, Lea pushed the blade button, and the blue blade shot upward into the air, protruding several feet from the hilt. The blade was almost invincible. It could cut through anything, and nothing could blow it out. Not even the rain that was now falling heavily. It was indestructible. And that’s how Lea felt.
She swung the blade at Darth Rokoi’s, creating another bladelock. A second passed, and they pulled away, only to come crashing together again.
“You won’t win,” Darth Rokoi said, though Lea noticed how infuriated she’d become. With a hint of amusement, Lea realized that Rokoi was trying to convince herself. But Lea pushed all other thoughts out her mind to keep it opened to the Force. She focused on the hilt in her hands and the ways her arms and legs moved on instinct. The Light side was stronger.
Lightning seems to rip the sky in two. It’s jagged points branching out reached one of the trees above them. Then, the thunder pounded throughout the forest. The rain continued to fall, after the light and noise had passed. But just as Lea simply parried another of Rokoi’s blows, a omnimous cracking sound split the air, and the forest floor seemed to sway.
Lea and Rokoi both paused and looked up in alarm. An enormous tree was falling towards them. It’s branches blown against the wind and rain, as it split at the trunk.
Lea’s fight or flight response kicked in, and she dove out of the way of the tree. Darth Rokoi stood her ground, holding her hand out towards the falling branches. She was trying to hold it in place.
It kept falling.