Violet shivered violently, wrapping her arms around her bare body. She wore only the most minimal clothes: a wrapping around her chest, a very short pair of trousers and a pair of thin shoes, just barely enough not to cut up her feet on the jagged rock of the training cavern. The freezing air, literally, nearly 3 degrees under the freezing point, cut to the bone, every inhalation an icy fang in her lungs. It took considerable effort simply to not cough every time she breathed. It was only a few minutes into this session of her training and she could already feel the effects of hypothermia starting to take effect. Of course, she had no training or knowledge of how to keep herself warm using the force. That is what she expected was the test here. But then that seemed to be the sith way: toss the trainee in the deep end and really not care if they drown or not. Not exactly what Violet would consider teaching, more like taking advantage of the successful’s intuition.
Violet had harbored strong doubts about her choice to join the sith ever since the day joined. The needless slaughter of potential recruits who didn’t make the grade, the ruthless manner in which failure was punished, and the way students were expected to pull most of the weight themselves to improve their skills, it all just smacked of laziness more than anything, hidden, of course, behind a veil of intimidation. Not that every teacher, or even most, were like that, but it only took a few to permeate that general sense of unease, like at any moment you could be judged or tested, that every second of the day you risked the disastrous repercussions of failure. Perhaps she was overthinking things, or just being paranoid. Certainly, though, that paranoia kept her on her toes and had helped propel her quickly through her studies, but it was taxing on her spirit. One needs a solid foundation, some sort of place of reprieve or source of strength to center oneself on in order to defend oneself from attack, whether physical or psychological.
Unfortunately that was the exact thing she lacked when the training droid decided to ambush her from the darkness suddenly, the mere shock alone unbalancing her, before the blaster bolt to the leg caused her to stumble and fall down the sloped rocky cliffside to a small pit between several stalagmites. It wasn’t a full-on blaster, fortunately, though her leg would be numb and paralysed for a long time, certainly much longer than this fight would last.
She was never told she had to fight the damn thing, she just thought she had to find it. Yet another typical sith teaching practice.
Frantically gripping the gravel-covered walls of the small pit, she hobbled up the slope on one leg, pulling herself up with both arms as fast as she possibly could to get out and onto more solid ground. She sensed another attack coming, moving to roll to the side, held up by only one arm as she dodged another bolt mere milliseconds before it hit the spot where she was, zipping just past her stomach mid-roll and sending a shower of dust and gravel up in her face. She cried out as a jutting rock rammed into her shoulder blade from behind at the end of her horizontal roll, pain arching through her free arm and across her back as she struggled to hold onto her tenuous grasp to a small stalagmite on the lip of the pit. With both a crippled leg and arm, Violet was sure she had already failed. Sure enough, the droid was standing on the precipice of the cliff she had fallen off of, it’s weapon already trained directly on her. Violet raised her free arm, feeling, revelling, focusing the searing pain into the palm of her hand as her bruised, torn shoulder muscles flexed. The droid fired, the blaster bolt impacting her fist with an electrical crackle, stinging Violet a bit but not freezing her, the force of the bolt absorbed by her powers. She reached out with the force, gripping the edge of the cliff, willing it to move, screaming at it internally with the ferocity of the pain and anger searing through her body. A rock under the droid’s mechanical foot flew out from under it, setting it off balance and sending the droid tumbling down the cliffside, missing the small valley violet had fallen into and rolling down the full length of the cliff to the ground below.
Violet heaved herself up, screaming as the jutting rock tore a gash in her back. Fortunately, her shoulder blade prevented it from being a deep cut, but it hurt no less, and her right arm was practically useless. Her left leg was tingling, but still limp as a dead womp rat. Down at the bottom of the slope lay the training droid, the bot clearly having hit something hard on it’s way down and laying motionless. She hoped she would have better luck. It wasn’t far, but it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride either, and the pitch was steep. Nevertheless, she didn’t have a lot of options, and she had to get to the exit before she passed out from bloodloss. She swung her legs down and slowly lowered herself from the edge of the small pit onto the slope of the cliff, letting go and sliding swiftly down the hill on a small avalanche of gravel. She hit the bottom shortly after, her left leg immediately collapsing, instinctively putting out two hands to catch herself and yelping as the impact reverberated up her right arm. She crawled over to the droid, awkwardly heaving it onto it’s front and opening the access hatch, extracting a small rod with a blinking red button on the end. Violet almost forgot to be exhilarated as she clicked the button, before the world turned black.
Violet awoke in Qel-Droma’s medical lab, feeling groggy, but well, for the most part. She sat up in the bed, her arms and legs all intact and fully functional. At least a sith instructor hadn’t decided to sever one of her limbs as punishment for her poor performance, or anything like that. Still, she had to protest: she did find the droid as was her task. She rolled her shoulders back, wincing and putting a hand to her right shoulder; it was still a little sore. She got up just as one of the medical droids rushed to her side, telling her she was fit to leave, not that she needed it to tell her that. She donned her robes and turned to return to her sleeping quarters. Violet had not walked more than a few meters when she suddenly came face to face with the same droid from the frozen training grounds earlier. She tensed, almost ready for a fight. She certainly wouldn’t be surprised, being forced to fight for her life just barely after she had come back from the brink of death. Not that she was any worse for wear at this point.
The droid simply stared at her, replying, “Your performance was acceptable.” Was that a hint of derision in its mechanical voice? She sighed, nevertheless thankful for passing the test. “Headmaster Dacien will see you in briefing room A” it added.
Violet strolled out of the briefing room, virtually beaming with elation, gripping her new lightsaber with pride. She had in fact performed quite impressively by the opinions of her teachers, and had been granted the title of Neophyte, and her first personal lightsaber. She felt a sense of ease settling over her. Perhaps the sith were not so cynical or useless as she had thought. Perhaps there was a method to the way they taught. In any case, she felt a renewed sense of motivation and passion, invigorated by her success and eager to gain more.