Scrapper and I rejoined the group. No one seemed at all surprised over the young salvager’s appearance. Aiden walked over to the youngling and ruffled his hair affectionately, a slight twinkle in his eye as he glanced in my direction. I noticed Scrapper shudder as he looked over at one of the kinrath bodies lying motionless on the ground. I gently touched his shoulder.
“Now that we are all here, let’s get going before any of those kinrath sneak up on us.”
Scrapper seemed fascinated by Shorcuk and who could blame him; Wookiees are a wonderful species. The youngling looked up at him in awe, eyes round at how tall Shorcuk was. Usually, Wookiees are not overly friendly with strangers, but there was something about this kid that made you like him right away. I nodded to Shorcuk and received a series of growls and whines. He knew what I wanted. I wanted him to keep an eye out for our young companion.
“You stay close to Shorcuk, ok?
I fell into step with Aiden. The glow of his lightsaber casting shadows on the cavern walls as it lit the pathway.
“He really seems to like you, Cyar’ika.”
I couldn’t contain a small smile. “I like him too. I just wish that he had stayed back at the salvager camp. This is no place for a youngling.”
“You will have to get use to this kind of reaction from people. There is something about you, something that makes you special. People are attracted to you; they want to follow you and be your friend. You bond very easily with people. It is a good quality for a leader to have and a good quality for a Jedi.”
“I am not a…”
Before I could finish my statement, Aiden raised his hand for me to stop. I could feel him reaching out with the Force, searching for something. The others stood a few feet behind us, silently awaiting instruction.
“The crystals are just ahead. I sense at least ten kinrath lurking about. They are guarding their eggs. We must be extremely careful.”
I turned to the others. “Be ready to fight.”
I pulled out my blaster pistol and made ready to follow Aiden. There was a tug at my arm.
“Don’t hurt them, Na’sha.”
I turned to see the worried expression on Scrapper’s face. I glanced at Aiden and then back to him.
“They will attack us the moment we enter their nesting ground. We will have to defend ourselves. It is the only way to get to the crystals.”
“You don’t have to kill them!”
Before any of us could react, Scrapper had scurried ahead of us and around the corner. I felt my heart jump into my throat! Those creatures would tear him to ribbons! We ran after him. My heart thudded as I ran, praying we would reach him in time, dreading the sound of his screams if we didn’t. If he survived this, I was going to kill him!
None of us were prepared for what we saw as we reached the kinrath. Scrapper stood in the center of the cavern, the creatures all in front of him, against the far wall. He didn’t turn his head, but spoke to me.
“Na’sha, you can look at the crystals now; they won’t hurt you.”
I looked at my companions and back to Scrapper. I was completely confused. Aiden took my arm, leading me forward, Shorcuk and Dak remained close to the entrance, weapons ready.
“Aiden, what is going on?”
“It seems our little Scrapper can speak to creatures. I knew that I felt a touch of the Force in him, I just didn’t know it was that strong.”
“He has the Force?”
“Yes, I thought that maybe you had felt it, too.”
“I wasn’t looking for it.”
“You should always look for it. We will discuss this more later. Let’s get a crystal and go. I am not certain how long he can hold them.”
I looked over at Scrapper. I could hear him speaking softly to the kinrath.
“Scrapper, are you alright?”
“Yes. They won’t hurt me. Look at the crystals, Na’sha, aren’t they beautiful?”
It was only then that I stopped worrying long enough to look around the cave. The space was filled with hundreds of crystal stalagmites jutting from rocky floor. The light from the glowlamp and Aiden’s saber caused the crystals to sparkle and send beams of rainbow light throughout the room. The kinrath had made their nests in the center of the crystal formations, the large eggs nestled amongst them, protected by the hard gems.
I stepped over to a small outgrowth of lavender colored crystals. I stooped down close to them, slowly reaching out to run a gloved hand over the smooth surface. Aiden walked over to me.
“What do you think?”
“They are lovely, Aiden. This one feels different to me though.”
“Tell me what you feel.”
“It feels warmer, tingly. I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Do you feel it?”
“No. That is something only you feel. It is how you know that you have the right one, Cyar’ika. It isn’t about the color, or the size or shape of the crystal, it is ones connection with it through the force that matters.”
We only spent a short time in the cave. We were not sure how long Scrapper could keep the kinrath calm and we didn’t want to risk endangering his life. We took what we had come for and slowly walked toward the spot where Dak and Shorcuk waited. Scrapper slowly backed away, stopping to gaze at a small cluster of green crystals. Aiden walked over to him and I saw him stoop over and take one of the green shards. He patted the youngling on the shoulder and walked back to us. Scrapper was the last one to leave the cavern room. We walked quickly back up the paths and out into the fresh air. The sun was getting lower in the sky and I was more than ready to get back to the enclave.
As we approached the salvager camp, Scrapper spoke up. “Na’sha, will you stay the night with us in the camp?”
“No, Scrapper, I need to get back to the enclave.”
“Well, can I go to the enclave too?’
“I think you would have to ask your guardian.”
Scrapper hung his head. “I don’t think he would care if I was gone.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He didn’t want to take me in. They drew straws. He lost. They didn’t want to leave me to die, but they didn’t want to care for me either. I don’t want to go back, Na’sha, I want to go with you.”
I stopped and knelt down beside him. “I like being with you too, but it is too dangerous out there where I am going. I am after some really bad people and I wouldn’t want to see you get hurt. It is much safer here with the salvagers.”
Aiden stepped over and stooped down with us. “Is there a problem?”
“Scrapper doesn’t want to go home.”
Aiden thought for a moment. “How would you like to come back to the enclave, then? I feel the force in you and I am sure that the council will want to train you. You are still very young and will learn fast.”
“I have the Force?”
“Yes. That is why you were able to control the kinrath like you did.”
“I never knew why I could do that, I just always have. I don’t want to stay at the enclave though, Master Aiden. I want to go with Na’sha.”
“I know that you do, child, but it would not be safe. Just come with us to the enclave and we will talk more there.”
“Yes, Master Aiden.”
The walk to the enclave was quiet. We were all tired and I couldn’t stop thinking of how I was going to get Scrapper to stay behind. The enclave was silent. The pathways through the courtyard were dimly lit and most of the Jedi had gone to their rooms. Aiden, Dak and Shorcuk went to their rooms and left Scrapper to bunk with me. I had a feeling that he would have put up a fight if I had not let him stay with me. He was very stubborn.
I tucked him beneath the covers and lay down beside him, smoothing his hair out of his eyes as he yawned.
“Thank you for letting me stay with you, Na’sha.”
“You are welcome. We are going to have a long talk tomorrow about your future. Now get some rest, little one.”
I snuggled down and closed my eyes.
“How do you say mother in your language?”
“You are welcome. Now go to sleep.”
“Ok. Goodnight, Buir.”
Now how was I going to sleep?