The ride back was slow and bumpy, the smoking steel-aged vehicle rumbling along amiably. She was drying off Master Zan-Drix with an old blanket in the backseat, rubbing the rough cloth over his narrow back. His dark hair hung around him in long damp waves, his breathing was shallow and uneven, but still strong and sure enough to remove any lasting worry, as long as she was able to help him regain his basic body temperature he would be alright. She wished they had his temperature collar. Their robes were nearly dry as they finally got from the tree line and into a real road of a sort although Rana’s skin was still clammy and when she explored her split lip with her tongue it tasted like salt from her sweat, with the merest hint of copper from her blood and something that might be fish.
The alien man was speaking to them in a slightly panicked tone as she drew the blanket back and forth over her Master’s skin, trying to comfort him even though he was unconscious. It was almost like a meditation, and through that easy repetitive motion she was beginning to hear the sounds behind the words. The conjugation was odd and the words clattered together at old angles, but some of the sounds were startlingly similar to old Basic. But now she was too tired to do anything about it, or to be too sure about it.
It would be foolish to deny that she was afraid or exhausted. She was both, although her Master’s presence and the Force gave her some degree of peace despite it. Once she got to the alien’s dwelling she knew it would be difficult for her to stay awake. She wished she was twelve again, just starting her padawan braid, her mess of curls cut padawan short and neat and her Master tall and remote as a star. A dry skinned cosmopolitan Corusacantian scanning her with yellow eyes. He hadn’t crouched down as some of the other Masters did, only stood, she came up a little below his mid chest; he only reached out with one pale hand and lay it gently on her shoulder.
She still remembered the flow of the Force through that hand and the underlying physical strength below that. When she was still very young and his meetings in cities on far away planets, where he knew every custom and was somehow above every one, had run too long she had fallen asleep against his shoulder. Her head had memorized the indention between his collar bone and his sternum. Had snuggled into the familiar dark brown of robe. Had been gently woken up with a crease on the left side of her face. Master Zan-Drix was rather solemn at times, but there was a fondness, and a tenderness in him that she felt.
She didn’t want to lose him.
Master Lee stirred suddenly in her arms, his eyes opening only a crack, as if he could feel the seed of worry – of fear if she was honest, and Master Lee always said she should be – and wanted to do something for her. His eyes, a beautiful yellow gold, nearly transfixing when she was younger, scanned her face quickly, wincing at the scratch on her forehead. A wave of Force warmth came up her fingertips from where she they lay against his cheek and the fear and exhaustion were overwhelmed by a wave of peace and love. Smiling at him, she swept his hair away from his face, by the time she had met his eyes again they were closed again. But that was alright. He needed his rest, he had a Bacta patch against his side, it would be alright.
Tucking his work tunic back around him, careful of his bandages she rewrapped and tightened his obi. She would need to replace his bandages soon, but this was not the place to do it. Sighing she looked out the back window. This world was so beautiful, the Living Force shimmering and glowing through it, but at the same time there was a great darkness licking at the edges of her mind far in the distance so that she could barely notice it, like it was trying to find her, to taste her. They came to a sudden rumbling stop at a small cabin, or at least what seemed to be a sudden stop, her mind was wrapped in the Force as her robes. Her mind was able to snap and catch onto details now that she was no longer tired.
The lived in scent of sweat and the sharp stinging scent that accompanied the alien’s weapon, then when he opened the door and pulled back the seat so they could step out the strong scent of the outdoors, the smell was pleasant and uplifting she could smell the dark green of the tall trees’ needle-leaves and the sharp sappy smell of the trees themselves. The house was brown, unpainted and wooden with neatly cut timbers so that she could see the grain of the wood in well settled browns. The wooden steps going up to the porch and the door painted a light blue.
A blonde girl opened the door with a quick jerk that only could mean that she was watching for the older man. Her eyes were wide, brown and shuttered hard, Rana wondered if it was because she held those shutters closed by force of will, or if they had been nail closed from the outside. The girl spoke solemnly to the older man, who had obvious affection for her, Rana didn’t need the Force to tell her that. There was a sudden barking cacophony and a four legged furry animal came rushing out between the girl and the doorframe.
It rushed her sniffing the edges of her robes and sneezing powerfully before leaping around her feet. She could feel a strong Living Force moving through it and smiled and the furry creature. The man spoke to the girl, with a half-smile of his own, “They can’t be too bad, Oscar likes them well enough.”
“Come on,” he said. “You two can stay in the shed, I hope you don’t mind it, but things as they are now...”
Rana stared at the man, and nodded vaguely, following him to the little outbuilding attached to the side of the cabin. She peered over his shoulder as he opened the door and showed her a variety of locks on the inside of the door, and then at the cot and small metal object in the corner with a pile of wood next to it as well as a rather large chair. He left them then, to their own devises, which frankly puzzled Rana. It should be rather obvious her Master was ill and it should be assumed, if only for hospitality’s sake that she could likely be injured as well. Besides the fact it was nearly getting dark outside and he hadn’t offered them any food. But customs were different on different planets. On one planet they had been to, a beautiful crystalline city, food was not offered because it apparently implied that the guest was unable to provide for themselves.
She laid Master Lee out on the cot and closed the door, ignoring the ten- eleven- twelve locks on the inside; he had her light saber and the Force to protect them, and only locked one for privacy’s sake. First she would have to change his bandage and then she could see about getting some rest.