(Q’ayla storms across the room, removing her lightsabers from her belt and slamming them down on her desk. She begins to unclasp the glove buckles on her left arm when her attention is drawn to the hair hanging down into her face. Exasperated, she takes hold of one of her braids and tugs the tie out; flinching, she stomps her foot—)
(after a moment with lips pursed, and with somewhat more careful attention, she is able to remove the hair-tie, and begins working on the other)
I can’t stand this place— these people, anymore! Mandate from the Council? Bogan take your mandate – I want off this kriffing rock!!
(her hands are shaking just enough that undoing her other braid is harder than normal; nevertheless it finally comes free, and Q’ayla flings the hair-ties out of sight, shakes her hair out, and goes back to her left glove)
I still can’t believe what happened at the Windsong camp!
Couldn’t even eat dinner with the others tonight, I’m just so— but seriously! We’re here trying to help these people, save them from some darkly disturbing threat that – I should point out – is coming from within their own clans! They themselves… and this horrible planet… they’re the cause of all this! The Nightsisters are still witches after all, and they’ve taken Master Darach and done something to him—
(pulling hard at the glove, she gets it off her arm and drops it to the floor absently, then moves to her bed and sits down hard, before beginning on the right glove)
Yevra’s right, you know. We should be out there finding him, saving him. Then getting out of here. But no, that’s not what we’re doing. We’re… out playing diplomat with people who would just as soon kill us as help us— Bogan, help themselves! What the hell is wrong with them?!!
(she bounds back to her feet as she finishes unclasping her right glove, then removes it and throws it down on the floor with its mate. Then… she sits again, as though she doesn’t know quite how to be)
Time is ticking away. Something is going to happen, something bad, and soon. Bogan, why wasn’t Barukka ready this morning? We told her we’d bring Yevra so that together they could find Master Darach using whatever “spirit world” technique she learned from her sister. But she wasn’t ready. And rather than give us what we really wanted, she sends us off on this quest to “unite” the Dathomiri clans.
…Might as well have asked us to single-handedly put the Force into balance— oh, wait. Heh…
But instead of securing alliances with the clans, instead we’re fighting for our lives against potential allies! And Q’aleane…
Ashla, she was perfect in there. I’ve seen it so many times now that I don’t always appreciate it, but it was truly incredible to watch her work. And that… that bitch Devira, she couldn’t care less. She wanted her pound of flesh, and it didn’t matter if it came from Bright Sun or us! Does she realize that we’re trying to save her people from likely being wiped out by the Nightsisters?! Who knows, maybe she’s a Nightsister herself – it certainly seemed that way to me when she came at us screaming with the power of the Force…
(Q’ayla runs a hand up and through her hair slowly, seemingly to relish her own quietude for a moment)
My head really hurts, and my ears are still ringing…
(though she is still noticeably shaking, the reminder of her physical pain seems to be shifting her volume and tone slightly)
I can’t stand their reaction to us. If they’re not treating Q’aleane and I with completely unfair suspicion and scorn, then they must be deeply offending Irsin wi—
(she pauses for a moment, the faintest hint of a smile creeping across her lips, before slowly shaking her head)
—with… by denigrating his gender or utterly ignoring his existence. I’m so proud of the way he’s handled himself, all things considered. I can imagine what he must think of the Dathomiri – especially the men – but I don’t know how he’s finding the strength to not lash out and rail against them for every instance of their cruel misandry.
(in silence, she takes off her visor and tosses it onto the bed next to her, then runs her hands over her face several times. Her deeply hardened expression seems to be fading into one both tired and yet, somehow, contented)
I love him. So much.
And… he loves me. Heh. He said it…
I was so scared last night when he came over here – his first time in my room – and I thought I messed it all up… I told him about how my nightmares don’t match up with what I feel, and that I really do forgive him about Trasa and…
There was that… shift in his eyes, like withdrawing or resigning, and I thought I lost him. He didn’t believe me. He didn’t trust me anymore. I felt myself panicking. So… I told him I loved him.
(she reaches a hand to her right shoulder and unlatches her leather breastplate, then pulls it over her head and lets it drop to the floor)
I didn’t know how he’d react, but I was still so scared— of what he might say, or do. Of his rejection. And my fears… well, he started talking about why he shouldn’t be with me – or love me – and just… he just kept mumbling to himself. I’d never seen him like that before. Irsin’s always so collected, or he’s not, but it’s always anger or rage. Nothing like this…
(she unbuckles her belt and removes it, setting it beside her visor. Then, slowly, she unzips her outer tunic and slips it up and over her head as well, while leaving her undershirt tucked in)
Again, I felt him slipping away, and the worst part was, I didn’t know why. He kissed me in the jungle that night… why would he do that if he didn’t want me, or care…? It didn’t matter. He had to understand. He had to. I needed him to know, right there and then, that what I feel for him is so brand new and exciting and warm and terrifying all at once. How much I need him there beside me, walking this new path in life. I’m still too unsure… too nervous… too… scared. I don’t know how all of this will end, but once I’m no longer a Jedi, I’m going to be lost out there. With him, though…
Then he was crying. Irsin was crying—! Ashla, it was something I never thought I’d witness…
And he told me about the love he experienced while training as a Sith. I guess that’s what flickered in his eyes back on Taris…? Though I’ve often wished that, even as a Jedi, I might someday fall in love, my experience at the Academy seems like a blessing compared to what Irsin went through.
Ashla… I still can’t fully imagine it. How can love be a lie like that? Is it as easily done as pretending to be a proper Jedi? I wouldn’t even know the emotion well enough to fake it… how could she?! Of course he didn’t tell me the details, and I didn’t ask, even though there’s a part of me that wants to know. But what he did tell me – about their plans together, about her true goals and her awful betrayal, about how it was all some kind of twisted test engineered by the Sith— by Grale, no doubt—! … it broke my heart. How much pain must this man that I love endure? Is there anything truly good in his life, or is it all just lies and betrayal, one after another?
…But in the end, he said it. He told me that he loved me, and that if I could accept him as he is, we could be together. Heh… how could I not? What’s more, I think… he slept here last night. And then brought me breakfast in bed this morning! (she laughs lightly, but it fades quickly) He’s opening up more and more each day, and even though I know he’s still keeping so much inside, right now each little show of trust and love takes my breath away…
(Q’ayla presses her eyes closed, and small tears appear at their corners. Though she has continued to tremble throughout, her fists begin to clench as the shaking takes on an aggressive tone once again)
And I swear to you – Ashla and Bogan – as I swore to him: as long as I draw breath, I won’t hurt him like she did. He didn’t tell me what happened to her in the end, but if she’s not dead, she’ll wish she was if we ever cross paths.
I will protect him, and love him, and cherish the time that we have together in this life, no matter how brief a time that may be.
(the tears are coming faster now, but she doesn’t weep – the anger building inside her doesn’t allow it)
…No, I didn’t see it happen, I was too busy trying to knock Devira out because Q’aleane wouldn’t let me kill her. But I wanted to. Especially after she screamed so loud my ears bled. I lost control again, and would have destroyed her had my lightsabers not been on training setting. Gods damn me, I lost control again! And because of that, I wasn’t able to protect Irsin, and they cut into him and bled him onto the floor of that cursed hut!! Q’aleane was able to heal him, but I don’t care— I have to be there, I have to protect him. And her. Everyone. I didn’t protect Shado when it mattered, and now I’ve failed my sister and my lover as well…
(standing up slowly, Q’ayla walks over to her desk and takes up her lightsabers. Adjusting their power settings, she flexes her hands around the hilts and then moves swiftly to the the now-opening door)
I have to get better. No, I will be better. Gods, I swear it.