Star Wars: Treasures of the Force – Ch 21

Nix knew that being within a few inches of an active lightsaber blade was, as a general rule, a terrible idea. Especially when it was a red lightsaber blade. 

Not that red blades were inherently malevolent. As she’d told Ayli, the ‘laser swords’ (why anyone would call them that baffled her tech-literate heart, they were not laser) weren’t mystical magical artifacts. They were tech. Plan, simple tech, that was thousands of years old and well understood to the point where mass producing them would have been trivial. 

But why would anyone bother?

There were plenty of cutting torches on the market to cover a variety of engineering needs. There were also plenty of weapons on the market which were capable of killing people at far great ranges than “arm’s reach”. 

All in all, lightsabers were aesthetically appealing yet severely impractical tools.

Unless of course the wielder could make use of their unique properties in ways people without the force couldn’t hope to manage.

Ways that she and Ayli needed to learn.

“This is not how you practice with a lightsaber,” Ravas said.

She was sulking in a corner of the cargo room Nix had cleared out for her and Ayli’s first training session.

“It does seem pretty dangerous,” Ayli said, her arms locked in a pose as rigid as stone.

“I trust you,” Nix said, taking a step to the right, closing the gap between herself and the saber’s blade.

Ayli jerked the blade away, her breath escaping in a short gasp.

“I wasn’t ready,” she said.

“Yes you were,” Nix said with a smile. “You know when I’m going to move. Don’t be afraid of it.”

“I could hurt you,” Ayli said. “I could kill you. This is…why are we doing this?”

A long night’s sleep had left Ayli better rested and more in balance – otherwise Nix wouldn’t have dreamed of trying this sort of training – but she was still having to fight a lifetime of stress.

“We can stop,” Nix said. “As soon as this gets to be too much, we can go and do something else, or switch to simpler exercises. I think this will help though.” She took another step, gliding from one foot to the other. 

Ayli had met Nix’s gaze and was searching for something there and didn’t seem to be aware that Nix was slowly dancing around her. 

But she moved the blade in time with Nix’s dance anyways.

“How is this helping?” Ayli asked. “Did you learn some kind of Jedi training techniques while you were in that coma?”

“This isn’t a Jedi technique,” Ravas said. “It’s just foolish.”

Nix cast a glance over towards the ghost of the Zabrak woman and offered her an amused smile.

Ravas could have been such a menacing figure, but, while she appeared reasonably young still, she could seem to help sounding like anything but a grumpy old woman.

Nix’s amusement did nothing to improve Ravas’ mood, but, for whatever reason, it was Ravas who broke the eye contact and looked away first rather than challenging or threatening Nix.

“She’s right,” Nix said. “This is just something I came up with. It’s a variation on a routine I ran into in a self-defense class I took on Coruscant.”

“You know how to fight?” Ayli asked, her eyes widening just a bit.

“Sure. Clobber the other guy with a wrench when he’s not looking. Or shoot him with a blaster if it comes to that,” Nix said. “The first rule in the self-defense classes was ‘don’t fight if you don’t have to’ and the second was ‘if you have to, do whatever it takes to be the one to walk away from the fight’.”

That drew a harsh bark of laughter out of Ravas, before she looked away again with a scowl.

“Doesn’t seem like you’d need a long class to teach you that,” Ayli said, her form growing more fluid as she relaxed into the slow rhythm of the simple step pattern Nix was setting for them.

“Most of the rest was about basic exercises we could do for strength and stamina, with some techniques for escaping when someone grabs you,” Nix said. “How well those work varies a lot depending on who or what grabs you though.”

“You’ll have to show me those later,” Ayli said. “I learned things like that too, most of which work somewhere from ‘fairly well’ to ‘much too well’.”

“How does a grapple escape work ‘too well’?” Nix asked.

“When it leaves you with a corpse to dispose of,” Ayli said.

“That sounds like it worked perfectly fine,” Ravas said.

Nix quickened her pace by a half measure.

“I probably shouldn’t be agreeing with her, should I?” Nix asked, flicking her gaze over towards Ravas. “If you’ve got options and you feel the person grabbing you needs be stopped permanently? I mean, I’ll probably want them stopped permanently too.”

“It’s usually not worth it,” Ayli said, adjusting to the new pace of the dance effortlessly. “Killing someone almost always creates more problems than it solves.”

“No arguments there,” Nix said. “Still, better to do it with the techniques you know, or even a blaster, or your lightsaber there than with the Force.”

Ayli’s attention snapped to the lightsaber in her hand as though she’d forgotten it was there. With a jolt, she snapped it away from Nix.

“I forgot…” she started to say, but Nix stepped in close and cut her off.

“You forgot to be afraid,” she said. “It’s okay. We’re doing fine.”

“I still don’t see what we’re doing though?” Ayli said.

“Are you worried about the lightsaber possessing you?” Nix asked.

“No. I wasn’t worried about that.”

“But you wanted to put it away before. You thought it was too dangerous to use.”

“I…” Ayli struggled to explain how that wasn’t what she’d been thinking but Nix could see that it was exactly what Ayli had been spiraling around.

“It’s fine. And you’re fine,” Nix said. “I know this all started when you grabbed the saber, but its just a tool, a basic bit of tech I could whip up with a ten credit shopping spree and a good workshop for fab and assembly. It’s not too dangerous for you, because you’re not too dangerous. Unless you want to be.”

Ayli angled the lightsaber down and let the blade extinguish.

“You’re right,” she said. “I know you’re right. What I was feeling though? It was making me want to be dangerous, even when I really shouldn’t have been. I…I can do that to you.”

“And you haven’t,” Nix said. “Believe me, I will be the first to let you know if you start to lose yourself, because I don’t want to lose you. In case I haven’t been clear so far, the whole marriage thing? I haven’t regretted it for an instant so far. I’m a better version of myself already and we’ve only been together for few of weeks so far.”

“And you were in a coma for one of them,” Ayli said with a forced bit of humor coloring the words.

“Pretty good job to have where you get a week of vacation that early on I’d say.” Nix’s joviality was less forced, but didn’t seem to put Ayli at ease at all.

“No more vacations like that,” Ayli said. “Ever.”

“Agreed. I can think of much better things to do with a week’s vacation,” Nix said. “Like, for example take this training up another notch.”

She lifted Ayli’s left hand which was holding the lightsaber in a loose grip.

“I thought this was to get me past having a hangup about this?” Ayli said, gesturing with the lightsaber’s handle.

“That was part of it,” Nix said. “We can do more though.”

“It won’t be enough,” Ravas said. “You’re missing the most important part of training with a blade.”

“And what would that be?” Ayli asked, not bothering to hide her disdain.

“You’re afraid. That’s good. Fear can be used. You don’t wish to be a danger though? Then do not pick the blade at all. Lay down and wait for the galaxy to kill you if that’s what you want. You won’t be a danger to anyone if that’s what you truly desire,” Ravas said and began pacing back and forth as the spark of fervor in her voice seemed to spread through her whole body. “Training with a blade is for one end. If you would hold a weapon, you must learn to kill with it. Let you fear  teach you. Let your rage teach you. Whatever it takes. Whatever will bring you victory.”

“That sounds so reasonable doesn’t it?” Nix asked. “Funny how fear and rage don’t exactly have a great reputation as the traits you want to base your decisions on though right? It’s almost like they’re the easy and stupid path. Simple answers because thinking is so hard and it just feels good to smash problems rather than spend the effort making sense of them.”

“You know nothing,” Ravas said. “You’ve never been trained. You’re making everything up as you go.”

“Yep. I am,” Nix said. “I’m not wrong though.”

“How do you know that?” Ayli asked.

“When we’re quiet, and calm, we can hear things a lot more easily,” Nix said. “It’d be easy to say it’s the Force speaking to us, but I don’t know if it’s that or just our heart be honest about what we feel and our minds checking it to make sure we understand what it is we want, and what we can do about it.”

“Pah, Jedi nonsense,” Ravas said. “They clung so hard to their serenity because their own anger terrified them. They cast aside the power they could have wielded and made themselves small and weak because they couldn’t face the truth.”

“I’d like to hear your truth,” Nix said. “If you’re willing to share it?”

“You know my truth,” Ravas said. “You see it every time you look at me. The monstrous thing you cannot abide.”

“Join our dance,” Nix said.

“What?” Ayli asked.

“What?” Ravas asked.

“Join us,” Nix said. “For what comes next.”

“I…what do you mean?” Ravas asked.

“You saw the exercise we were doing,” Nix said. “Come stand beside me and dance with me.”

“Why?” Ravas asked, her ghostly eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“Because I don’t think you’ve ever done this either,” Nix said. “Because I think it will be challenging for all of us.”

“And if I kill you while we dance? Or if she does?” Ravas asked.

“Then we’ll see that you were right I suppose,” Nix said.

“No. I don’t want to do this,” Ayli said, backing away.

Nix reached out and pulled her back with the Force, exerting as much pressure as a blustery gale might and no more.

“You don’t have to be afraid,” she said. “That’s what this is for. Together we can do this. You’re not going to hurt me because you have all the control you will ever need. And you’re not going to hurt me, because I’m not as helpless as you’ve been afraid I am.”

“And her?” Ayli asked, gesturing towards Ravas with the lightsaber’s handle.

“She needs to be a part of this too,” Nix said. “We can learn things from her. She’s had training we can never get, and she has a perspective we’ll never be able to duplicate.”

“And why would I want to share that with you?” Ravas asked.

“Because, it’s a chance to prove that you’re right, at the risk of having to admit that you were wrong, and I’m willing to bet that’s not a challenge you’ve walked away from all that often?” Nix said.

She wasn’t guessing. She hadn’t known that but as she spoke the words, she felt herself slipping through some cracks in the walls Ravas had put up.

“I do not walk away from challenges,” Ravas said, drawing herself up to her full height and become more solid in so doing.

Ravas was sure she was going to win. Nix could see it in her eyes, just like she could see that she already had.

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