Light, Dark and Colors in Between. (Garden Green)
John Medkeff and Rebecca Miller
Mikala slipped silently out of the house and headed out into the gardens. She sighed. This was all nice and everything, but she was starting to feel a bit overwhelmed by it all. She wandered for a while and then found a clearing. She didn't see anyone around.
She shook off her jacket and pulled her lightsaber free from her belt, igniting it. She felt it hum in her hands. She smiled as she fell into a fighting stance. She started to work through a few quick katas. Her movement looked graceful to the casual observer, but she knew just how jerky her style was. That couldn't be helped. She just couldn't move in some of the ways that the katas were meant to go, so she did them her own way. Her ebony blade hummed and sang and her feet danced as she moved. She kept within the border of the luxuriant flowerbeds that surrounded her. Mikala could feel the Force move around her as she moved deeper and deeper into it, everything else just fading away.
"Wait till she finishes her kata, Kieren. Its very bad form to interrupt."
Mikala wiped around at the sound of the voice and nearly lost her grip on her lightsaber.
There were two people standing on the edge of the clearing, a young man and a small boy. They were dressed in old clothes and carrying gardening tools. She vaguely recognized the boy as having been in the crowd of her siblings the first day.
She took a deep breath. "It's not a good idea to sneak up on someone like that."
"Sorry," the boy began. "We didn't realize you were here. You're Mikala, aren't you?
She nodded. "And you are?"
He stepped forward and offered his hand. "I'm your brother Kieren."
Mikala smiled a little and took the boy's hand. "Hello. I guess I'm ...your big sister."
"And this is my teacher Darien."
"Hello," Darien added.
Mikala's eyes narrowed at him. She felt...something...something familiar...familiar, but different. Her face-hardened, as her grip tightened on her lightsaber. "You're a Jedi."
"Yes, I'm a Jedi." Darein replied. "That appears to bother you."
Mikala pushed down her impulse to take her lightsaber and run him through. If just for the fact the boy with him was her...brother and her Father not might like that. "I haven't had much luck lately with Jedi."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Perhaps we can change your luck." Darien said.
Kieren stepped between them. "Don't fight."
Mikala looked down at the boy and something stirred in her. How many times had she done that with her Mother and her Grandmother? "I won't," she told the boy softly, hooking her lightsaber back on her belt. As she did so it occurred to her that the Jedi had never touched his lightsaber.
"How do like my garden Kieren asked. Darien and I are going to pull weeds."
"It's very nice," Mikala said. "It's peaceful here. I hope I didn't step on anything," she said with a frown.
Kieren looked around. "No you didn't hurt anything. Not like Keri. She destroys my fireflowers.
"Why does she do that?" Mikala asked, going with him as headed to the flowerbeds.
"To be mean I think." Kieren said, as he knelt and pulled a weed.
"The twins don't get along with each other." Darien added.
Mikala frowned. "That's not good," she said, reaching out to the boy. "Fireflowers grow back," she said. "I've grown them in my terrace garden on Coruscant."
"I know, mine always do. They last for hours when mother wears one in her hair."
Darien walked over to a large rack and sat down to watch.
Mikala ignored the Jedi as she sat on the ground. "Why don't you and your sister get along?"
"We never have. Maybe its because she's so dark and I'm so light. But I get along all right with the other kids and they are all dark to." Kieren suggested. "So I really don't know."
She nodded. "I never got along with my Mother. Sometimes it just happens with people."
"Mother and I get along very well. She's very kind. But most people are afraid of her." Keiren answered.
"Lady Steele--" Mikala caught herself. "Sandy. Yes, she seems...very nice."
"Where have you been hiding? None of us had any idea you existed." Keiren asked.
Mikala smiled a little. "I didn't know you existed either. My Mother told me when I was about your age that my Father was dead. I never checked it out until about a week ago."
"How sad. You grew up without a father?"
She nodded. "Tell me what he's like."
"He knows almost everything. You can ask him all kinds of questions and he knows the answers. And he plays games with us. He's teaching me to play chess."
Mikala smiled a little, nodding for him to go on.
"When he's here he's never too busy to talk to me. Some of the kids at school never see their fathers."
She nodded again, listening.
"But he is Dark and he can do terrible things. I've watched the recordings of what her did to the storm troopers who killed our grandparents." Kieren paused. "I sometimes think he can out Darkness Mother."
"That bothers you," she said gently. She could remember that feeling long ago. Her Grandmother would frighten her sometimes, but not like her Mother could when she flew into one of her dark rages.
"Yes. I've never seen him like that myself. I don't think he's done anything like that since I was old enough to know."
She nodded, pulling her knees up to her chest. "How do you feel about suddenly having a new big sister?"
"Interested. But you're really a grown up, not a teenager like Lonnie and Tiri.
Mikala smiled a bit. "Yes, I am a 'grown up', but that's not all bad."
"No, it doesn't seem to be."
Mikala smiled a little. There was something about this boy. She hadn't felt so relaxed in a very long time.
"Do you like gardening? I do. I planted all these flowers my self and I take care of them." Kieren said.
She nodded. "I do. I have a small garden at my apartment on Coruscant, but I'm not there all that much. I used to help my Grandmother with our hydroponics garden when I was a little younger than you."
"You have a garden on Coruscant?" Father says its all city there and you really can't have much of a garden." The boy answered. "But we do have one on top of Zoron house. That's our Palace there. And there are some in the Palace. I've never been there myself."
Mikala smiled. "I've seen the one on top of Zoron house. You can almost see it from my apartment." She chuckled a little. "What I have on my terrace isn't nearly as big or grand as that, but it grows. It's about half the size of one of your have here," she said, nodding toward the flowers around them. "I can't grow the blooming plants you have, but I do have a few very hearty species that can survive without a lot of care."
"Ones that can handle less than perfect air?"
She nodded. "A few forms of cactus I found on Tatooine and broad leafed spiny yew."
"But it's not a good place for plants."
She shook her head. "It isn't. As tough as they are, they have a hard time sometimes."
"My plants here have it much easier."
"And you do a very good job with them," she said. "You've got the touch when it comes to plants."
"So mother tells me. It's my favorite hobby. Darien likes to work with plants too."
Mikala glanced back at the Jedi and her smile faded a bit and she felt the tension returning.
Darien smiled back.
"How come you are training him?" she asked genuinely curious. "I thought everyone was Sith here and if I remember correctly the Sith and the Jedi don't exactly get along."
Darien thought for a moment. "You are right about that, most of the time. I certainly thought so before I arrived here. But I've learned not to expect Sandy to be very orthodox. Ideological purity is of no concern to her."
"What about Father--" she caught herself. "Lord Steele."
"Your Father is really Grey, not Dark."
Mikala raised her eyebrows at that answer.
"Keiren is the lightest Lightsider I've ever met. I don't think anything could make him Dark. When his mother decided that Lightness wasn't just a phase she decided to find him a lightside teacher and had Tal and Polly kidnap me, and bring me here."
"Interesting," she said. This family she suddenly found herself swallowed up by was a bit more complicated than it at first looked. She stood up and shook her head as a wave of vertigo made her head swim for a moment.
"Are you alright? Kieren asked." Looking up from where he had been pulling some weeds.
She took a deep breath. "Fine. I just get a little lightheaded when I stand up too quickly. It's nothing." She gave him a quick smile. "I should let you to your weeds and stop distracting you."
Two servants entered the garden carrying an easel and a box. A girl who was coaxing the leopard to follow her followed them.
Mikala watched the servants set up the easel and then tensed at the presence of the cat.
"Tana, what are you doing?" Keiren asked.
Tana patted a spot on one of the rocks. "I want to paint Goldie' picture."
Mikala tried to figure a way past the cat without looking like she was avoiding it.
Tana looked around. "Hi, Darien, Hi Mikala."
"Hi," she said a bit tightly.
The cat jumped up on the rock and watched them.
Mikala suddenly felt a bit trapped. Sith. An odd thought ran through her head. Wasn't there a story or something about a door, a leopard and Jedi?
Tana walked over to Goldie and started petting her into position.
Mikala started inching out of the garden.
Keiren went and helped Tana with the cat.
While they had the cat busy, she bolted.
"Don't feel you have to get out of Keiren and Tana's way." Darien said as she ran.
She froze. Sith. "It's alright," she said stiffly. "I'll get out of the way."
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