Manwa walked into the quarters he stayed in with Varda. She was sitting by the window as she had been ever since she had sensed Ninde was in trouble. She always did this to herself. She always considered herself to be responsible for whatever happened to Ninde in the other worlds. Manwa slowly walked up and placed a hand on her shoulder. He then noticed something… there was a tear snaking it’s way down her face.
She slowly looked up at him with troubled eyes. “It’s Ninde…”
“Manwa bit his lower lip some and slowly took his hand from Varda’s shoulder. Of all the Valar here on Arda she had been the one to take on the burden of binding herself to Ninde. Although Ninde was good at masking her feelings there were some times when she’d drop her mask and Varda would know exactly how she was feeling. There were times in the dead of night when Varda would be roused by Ninde. Ninde still held her love for pranks and what not but Varda claimed she had changed a lot. She was more mature and hardened then she had been before leaving for the new worlds. Something inside Ninde had changed, a stone wall had been built around the girl’s heart.
He slowly kneeled down beside Varda and took her hand in his. He was shaking lightly and he was praying that at least the girl was still alive. In his life time many had died because of what he asked for them to do in the name of Eru… and he didn’t want it to happen again. “Is she alright?”
Varda’s lip quivered some. “She’s still alive but in terrible agony. She’s fighting her best friend… and she may have to kill her. I don’t want her in that place anymore. It’s far too dangerous.”
Manwa slowly pulled Varda into his arms. He knew it was difficult. She had never bonded with anyone like this before. It was hard to take the agony and pains of another. “She’s going to be fine… she always pulls through and lives to see the next day. Her lick and skill have always been abnormally excellent. She’s not about to die today… She will not die on this day.”
Quickly, Ninde allowed her body to fall back and she performed a no hands back flip to avoid Rena’s lightsabers. The fight had finally reached around twenty minutes worth, or so Ninde guessed, and she wasn’t sure how much longer it was going to progress. Thankfully Ninde ha eliminated one fighter. She had been able to distract Lakka with a moving object long enough to flip over her head and use the handle of her lightsaber to hit the Twi’lek in the back of the head. Ninde had used enough strength to know Lakka out. Now it was just between Ninde and Rena. Rena had certainly improved since their last training fight and Ninde was having a slightly difficult time keeping up. But it was merely because she was holding back. Ninde wanted to save Rena but at this rate she might have to stop holding back and go all out.
Ninde came to her feet and instantly had to step back and to the left as Rena moved towards her, performing a downward slash for Ninde’s head. Quickly Ninde slashed down onto the single lightsaber, cutting it in half right above Rena’s hand. But in her attempt to disarm her friend Ninde forgot that this Rena was not the exact one she had known back at the temple. Rena kicked Ninde in the chest and Ninde fell on her butt. As she fell Rena slashed out at Ninde. Originally it would have been a death blow had Ninde not thrust her hand out and had used the force to knock Rena back. But the lightsaber still hit her, clipping her stomach. The smell of burned flesh filled Ninde’s nostrils… But surprisingly she had felt nothing.
Ninde slowly stumbled back to her feet, her empty hand covering her stomach as she watched Rena. The top of her lightsaber was pointed to the floor. Rena grinned some, the grin rather dangerous and dark. She rushed at Ninde, slashing her lightsaber down for Ninde’s head. This was it, Ninde had to get through to her. Ninde held up her empty hand, slapping her hand against Rena’s head right above Rena’s right ear.
Ninde had used so much force it actually knocked Rena to the side and she stumbled to the ground with a cry. For a moment Ninde just stood there, hoping what she had done had worked. In a desperate attempt to restore Rena’s mind she had sent a surge with the force through Rena’s memory in an attempt to bring back Rena’s past memories.
Slowly, Rena stood and shook her head some. She slowly turned to Ninde and paused, confusion written all over her face. “Ninde?”
A light smile came to Ninde’s face. “It’s good to have you back Rena.”
Rena was about to continue when her eyes widened and a hole was burned through her shoulder. She fell forward to her knees and Ninde watched helplessly as she fell motionless to the floor.
Behind Rena stood Balank, blaster in hand. “Worthless, just like her master.” He then looked up to Ninde and grinned as he backed towards the open door behind him. Ninde slowly began to move towards him, glaring dangerously.
He hit a button next to the door and a voice sounded. “Bomb set for five minutes.” He then hurried through the door. Ninde ran after but the door slammed down in front of her. She pounded against the door and glared at him. There were bombs set in this room and they were set to go off and destroy anyone or anything in this place. It was one huge death trap… And he had trapped her in here. He kept his grin as he glared right back, the thirst for cold vengeance in his eyes. After a bit he turn and walked away, the folds of his dark cloak flowing out behind him as he walked, leaving the room behind for the bombs to go off with his victims inside.
Lakka groaned lightly as she sat up. “What happened?” She then looked up into Ninde’s eyes and forced a weak smile, obviously remembering what had just happened. “I am so sorry Ninde.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore, Master Lakka. I just need to know if you can get us out of this room before the bomb goes off.”
That brought a grin to Lakka’s face. “That I can do.”
“Hurry up! We’re almost there!” Tome cried in excitement. He was speaking the truth too, they came into a large clearing and there sat a small starship.
Obi-wan stopped some, pausing Arianne who he was helping. After having left Ninde in that room with Balank they had encountered yet more guards who had fired at them. She had been shot in the ankle. The wound wasn’t that bad but it was enough to keep her from walking without aid. So while Oria was helping Qui-gon along Obi-wan help Arianne, knowing that Tome would be of little help if he had to carry someone. Besides he had to lead them to this starship so they could leave the planet. Thankfully they had long since left the guards behind, losing them long before they got here.
The ship itself was sleek and black. It was obviously worn and was an older model but didn’t look too bad. Obi-wan knew he could fly it should Ninde not caught up in time to caught the ride… if she even had the chance to caught up that is. He had not felt good about leaving her behind at all, Balank was out for her head and was going to get it through any means necessary. If she were to die back there Obi-wan didn’t know if he could ever forgive himself… merely because he had been pulled away, forced to leave her behind to suffer her fate along. As best friends and Jedi partners it was something he felt they should face together.
Tome ran for the ship and lowered the ramp. He quickly motioned to everyone to follow as he ran up the ramp and disappeared from few. Oria moved after him, helping Qui-gon along. They walked up the ramp and disappeared the same as Tome had. Obi-wan followed and got Arianne up onto the bottom of the ramp before he stopped some and looked over his shoulder in the direction they had come from. Arianne put all her weight onto her good foot and stood on her own for a bit, still leaning against him. “Obi-wan don’t worry about her. She is strong and will pull through, even if we end up leaving her behind. She’ll escape and live off the wilderness until we return for her.”
“…That could be a long time from now though…”
Arianne nodded, “…I know. But she’ll understand.”
Obi-wan frowned and closed his eyes some, frustration welling up inside of him. There must be something he could do to help her… He hated this feeling of helplessness. He should have stayed behind and tried to find a way to help her out but he didn’t. He had gone, just as she had asked him to. That was the way she had always been, willing to sacrifice herself to save him… but he was never able to do the same for her. Just once he wished that she would not yell at him and force him into retreating, leaving her behind to fend for herself. Why did he always listen to her? He opened his eyes, tears rimming the edges. One even found it’s way out and began to snake down his face. All those times before had been so simple to walk away from, he had known she would live. But this time it was serious… It was worse than when they had faced off with Larcen Lucil, Balank’s brother.
Oria slowly came walking down the ramp and stopped half way, looking down at the two young padawans. After a bit she sighed and called out to them with the force. When they both gave her their attention she spoke. “Come on bored young ones… there is nothing else we can do for her.”
Obi-wan slowly nodded and turned, helping Arianne up the ramp.
“Come on Rena, you have to help me out a bit here!” Ninde cried to her friend as she attempted to drag the girl along. Rena was proving to be nothing more than dead weight, even though she was trying.
Lakka looked around worriedly. “At this rate we won’t get out of here.” Her eyes then spotted something and she let out a hoot of happiness as she ran for it. It was a single speeder bike.
Quickly Ninde followed, carrying Rena with her. “Is it in good shape?”
Lakka shrugged some. “It looks like it will run. Let’s find out.” She leaned over the speeder and quickly began to hit some buttons. Suddenly the thing roared to life and she let out another hoot of joy. “She lives!” She turned to Ninde and motioned for her to move forward. Ninde did so and helped Rena on first. Ninde then climbed on behind and Lakka climbed on behind Ninde. There wasn’t much room and Lakka was hanging off the end more than sitting on the speeder. But they didn’t have a choice, the bombs were to go off any time now and they didn’t know if they were out of range or not.
“Let’s go Ninde! I don’t want to be around to watch the fire works!”
Ninde nodded and grabbed the handle bars while Lakka reached around her and held Rena against Ninde. Ninde hit the throttle and they took off, going rather fast but dipping dangerously low to the ground. The speeder was almost too heavy and Lakka’s lekku twitched nervously. But Ninde knew what she was doing and proved it, which caused some of Lakka’s tension to go away. She weaved through the trees quickly, attempting to get away from the building.
Suddenly a large explosion went off behind them and the speeder was picked up by a force of wind. Ninde’s eyes widened as she fought to regain control. The speeder dipped low and turned dangerously to the left, throwing Lakka from the back. Ninde quickly regained control and was about to turn the speeder when a blaster bolt hit the tree nearby. They were under attack. Suddenly she felt a surge through the force, `go…’ Ninde looked over to Lakka and saw the master standing, drawing her lightsabers and running for the men firing at Ninde and Rena. Ninde growled lightly but knew that this is what Lakka would want anyways. Quickly she turned the speeder and took off, zooming over the terrian at a decent height this time as it was no longer overly weighed down.
Oria slowly walked into the cockpit and looked over at Obi-wan. “The ramp is closed, we should take off soon.”
Obi-wan sighed lightly and looked out the veiwport again. He had been stalling for as long as he could but it wasn’t long enough apparently. He had done the systems checks three times now in attempt to buy time for Ninde, praying inwardly that she would make it before Oria told him to take off. He knew that if she escaped she could live in the wilderness on her own. She had proven to be able to take care of herself despite anything that was thrown at her as an object to worry about. He wanted her to get here and board the ship before departing… but that hadn’t happened.
With a sigh Obi-wan began to actually start up the engine, readying it for take off. It would take a few minutes for the engines to warm up as they had not been started in a long time. Oria and Tome had already checked the gun torrents and found two to be in working condition. But one was low on power and the other was still a little bit out of order and would be rather hard to use. The third one was still dismantled. The only good thing was this vessel, however old, was space worthy.
The engines finally hummed lightly, a good sign that it would not be such a bother to fly as Obi-wan had feared. He was about to lift the starship from the ground when he felt a sudden surge. A fierce cry calling out to him, telling him to wait. Immediately he undid his crash webbing and sprung from his seat, running for the hatch. Oria attempted to step into his path to stop him but was a few moments too late. “Obi-wan! Where are you going?”
Obi-wan didn’t even hear the master’s voice, it was far too distant with his raging thoughts. He ran to the ramp and pressed the button. When it didn’t lower fast enough her cursed softly to himself. He was running down the ramp before it was fully down and stopped at the bottom of it, looking around with desperate eyes. The forest had grown smoky, a fire had been started in the distance. His view was hazy and couldn’t see too far into the woods. Suddenly he hear something, body masses crashing through the forest, running for the ship. He paused and stayed where he stood, unsure if he should run back up the ramp and get out of there or if he should go running towards the noise.
Suddenly from the smoke two forms appeared, one staggering as he aided the other. They neared closer and Obi-wan’s heart cried out in joy. It was Ninde aiding a Twi’lek, a familiar one at that. Quickly he ran from where he stood to join the two. Ninde looked up at him and her eyes widened as he ran to her and wrapped his arms around both her and Rena. “I was so worried about you…” He whispered with a weak voice into her ear. “Don’t ever do that to me again.”
Ninde gently pulled away, still holding Rena up. “I need help getting her onto the ship…” She sounded as though she were out of breath. Blood ran down from her forehead and there were several scraps and large gashes in her arms and legs.
“What happened?” Obi-wan asked as he took Rena from Ninde so Ninde could walk on her own. They quickly made their way to the star fighter, Oria and Tome already standing at the top of the ramp.
“We were able to find a speeder and were riding out. Lakka fell off and she is not going to be joining us unfortunately… As for us a sniper hit the speeder and we spun out of control. Had I not thrown the two of us off we would have died in the crash when the speeder hit the tree.”
“Lakka? Master Lakka?”
“She’s still alive?”
“It would appear she was, I don’t know anymore.” Ninde said as she began to climb up the ramp. Tome ran down to her to help her up. “That is Rena, in case you haven’t noticed.”
Obi-wan paused some, looking into the dull eyes of Rena. She lifted her head some and put on a weak smile before dropping her head again. “Is the crash what caused the fire?”
“No the fire was caused by a larger explosion from the room you left me in.” Once to the top of the ramp Ninde left the helping aid of Tome to walk to the front cabin on her own. Everyone followed, dropping the questions all together. Now wasn’t the time to ask the questions, they had to get out of there and quick. Obi-wan strapped Rena into one of the seats and looked to Ninde as she walked over to the pilot seat. She stopped momentarily and looked to Qui-gon, grinning some. “It’s good to see you’re fine and well.”
Qui-gon just shook his head some. “It looks like you got into a fight with Rancor and nearly lost.”
“You know I’ve done that before Master.” Ninde said as she climbed into the pilot chair and pulled on the crash webbing. It was true, on their last mission Ninde had been put into a chamber with one of those cursed things and forced to fight it. Had she not had her knowledge of the force she would have lost her life.
Obi-wan moved up beside Ninde as she began to work the controls to prepare for launch. “Are you sure you can fly in this condition Ninde?”
“Obi-wan, it’s just a few cuts. Now go take up one of the gun torrents. I have a feeling we’re going to run into some trouble.”
Obi-wan nodded and quickly made his way to the torrent that was losing power. Oria, who had just finished closing the ramp, followed after, taking up the other one. Tome climbed into the co-pilot seat and strapped himself in. “Think we’re going to make it?” he asked Ninde in a fearful voice.
Ninde looked to him and grinned some. “I’ve never not made it yet.” She then looked back to what she was doing and pulled on the yoke, lifting the star fighter from the ground. The ship rose with a bit of a worrisome shake and hum but Ninde kept cool, knowing that if she lost it now she wasn’t going to be much good. She pushed the yoke some and they flew forward, up into the sky.