“Morning.” Aayla Secura must have sensed that she was awake, because all of the sudden she was standing above Padmé and beckoning.
“Is it?” Padmé countered as she pulled herself up. “We’ve moved time zones again, haven’t we? Morning becomes a bit of an abstract concept.”
“Did you really get that impression from last night?” Aayla asked. She handed Padmé something that looked vaguely like waterweed. Padmé wolfed it down eagerly. It was a small meal; the pregnancy had her eating in more smaller increments.
“Well the speeder was going so fast...” And she’d lost all track of time.
“We did move time zones, but then we went into a circle eventually. We’re not too far from where we started yesterday. And we’ll be on foot for most of today.”
Padmé felt a little better having eaten, but the thought of spending the day walking drained most of her good feeling out of her. Her legs seemed to lose most of the energy they had just by standing up.
“Not yet, though,” Aayla continued, much to Padmé’s relief. “I’m going to take you through some more advanced meditation first. I don’t think you’re likely to connect to the Force for three more weeks at the very least, but you’ll need that long to get your mind fully prepared for it.”
She guided Padmé down onto her knees and whispered to her, “Relax your body, and clear your head.” Padmé did so, aware of the beating of her heart growing slower and steadier.
“Are you fully aware of yourself?” She nodded. “Now stay aware of yourself, but become aware of what is around you. The molecules of air. The grains of soil. The water in them. The plants. The insects.”
Padmé did her best. She kept the awareness of her heartbeat as a constant as she tried to simultaneously bring up to her conscious mind everything her senses were telling her. Then she tried to stretch her mind further, accommodate her knowledge of everything beyond her senses, all the sights obscured by the foliage of Dagobah, the sounds beyond her hearing range, the molecules not touching her skin.
Then her nausea kicked in, and all she was aware of was her stomach revolting, causing her bend over hard, her forehead pressing into the mud. She didn’t actually vomit, but she went through several minutes of agony which left her physically wrung and her concentration completely broken.
Aayla was now leaning over her, hand on her stomach generating a some odd presence that made her feel better. “Strange...” Padmé heard her murmur.
“What’s strange?” Padmé croaked. Aayla couldn’t be finding the morning sickness itself strange; she’d read all about human pregnancy. Or she'd said that she’d had.
“Nothing. Perhaps we should try the meditation again later.” She helped Padmé to her feet.
They spent the next couple of hours trying simple physical exercises, more out of their determination not to waste time than anything else. Aayla frequently had to give Padmé more of her mysterious relief, before allowing her to eat again. Then more physical exercises until Padmé started to feel better around midday, especially after she ate her third tiny meal since waking up.
Early afternoon and she was on her knees once again, her heartbeat again at the forefront of her conscious, as she opened her mind to the air, the soil, the water, the swamp, and tried to take it all in at once, as one complexly woven entity.
More time had passed and there was no more nausea, only a dull headache. But this one Aayla was not able to dispel so easily.
“Let’s rest a bit,” she said. “Do you have any questions?”
Padmé didn’t have any about what they’d done that day. So she initially remained silent. However, there was more than one question popping into her head, because there was more than one she'd wanted to ask for many days.
Perhaps Aayla sensed it, because she asked, “Do you have any questions about anything? Anything at all?”
Now seemed as good a time as any, so Padmé asked, “Is it true T’ra Saa fled the burning Jedi Temple holding a baby Tholme in her arms?”
Aayla laughed and didn’t look surprised at all. “No, Tholme’s not that old. Though in fact she did better; she ran from the burning temple carrying two babies. They’ve both since grown up and led good lives, and grown old and died.”
Padmé liked that, even more than the version she had first heard in the common romantic imagination. But now she found herself with another question, one she wasn’t sure she should ask at all.
“Aayla,” she asked it anyway, “what’s it really like, killing someone?”
This time Aayla did looked surprised. “Look, I’m sorry...” Padmé started to say.
“Don’t be,” Aayla cut her off. “You’re right to worry about it.
The first time I had to kill someone, to be honest, I didn’t even think about it. The person had Kit subdued and was about to inject poison; it was that being’s life or Kit’s, so of course I didn’t think; I just acted. Which is what you’re supposed to do. Don’t think, act, and let the Force guide you.”
“Couldn’t you have cut off his hands? Or pulled him off?”
“Not under the conditions it took place. Trust me. No, there was only one way to save Kit’s life, and that was by taking another. I was certain of that. I still am. That helped. Because even if you don’t think then, sooner or later, you will think.
You’re probably asking me how to prepare for it, I know. Because you will have to kill. It’s a certainty for you and Anakin in a way it isn’t usually. But by doing that, you’re trying to justify it in ways you shouldn’t. I know that’s not what you intend or want to do, but what you do want to do isn’t something that can be done. There’ll be plenty of dealing with it after the fact. You don’t forget. Nor should you.”
They sat there a few minutes more in silence, each lost in her own thoughts. Padmé started to wonder where on the planet Anakin was at this moment, if it was night where he was and he was asleep. If he too thought about this.
“Ready to go again?” asked Aayla, and Padmé nodded. “Follow me.” And she was up on her feet and walking, then running off. Padmé jumped up and hastened after her, having to take large strides at a fast pace to keep up. Strangely, it didn’t feel half as tiring as it had the previously day.