She was fighting for her life. Her surroundings, harsh yet beautiful. There was no fear, only elation; alive in a fight to the death! Her heart pounding so hard that she could feel the blood pumping through her veins. Fueled by adrenaline and a desire to live, she fought with all her being.
The ground shifts, her footing lost, she plunges into a swirl of colors. Spinning so fast that she feels sick. It abruptly ends and she’s left alone in inky darkness. Still unafraid, she turns slowly in her new surroundings, trying to discern something, anything. A speck of light flickers in the corner of her eye, she turns … a screams splits the air.
Jolting awake, she sits bolt upright, her heart pounding. Was that scream from the dream or … ? Another scream fills the small house and is cut short. Even though she had never heard her mother scream before, she knew it belonged to her.
A man’s muffled voice follows, raised in anger and she doesn’t need to strain to hear who’s voice it belongs to; her father, but she can’t make out who or what he’s yelling at. Another scream, this time from her father. But it too is also cut short, just as her mother’s had been.
Despite her pounding heart caused by the dream, she was calm. She was not afraid. Climbing out of bed, she pauses as the sound of footsteps echo down the hall. Clack, clack, clack, the sound of hard shoes against the floor. The steps slow their pace and stop outside her door.
Despite the anticipation of it happening, when the door bangs opens, she can’t help but to jump back, startled. A tall man silhouettes against the light in the hall. He’s in uniform and powerfully built. To any other ten year old girl, this sight would have been frightening; however, she relaxes visibly, obviously familiar with the hard looking man that steps into her room.
“I was afraid they would send someone else”, she says quietly.
The man quickly takes in the room before letting his eyes rest on the girl. He nods to her, “Get your things. It’s time.”
She moves deliberately, as if she had known this was going to happen. A luggage container already out and ready for the few things she knew she would take: Clothes, books, her favorite knife. No toys, no dolls; not that she would pack them even if she had them.
Closing the last drawer of the dresser, she pauses, her eyes drawn to the contents on top. Here rest the only items to give away that a young girl occupied the room. Several hand-carved objects depicting fantastical beasts from around the galaxy were posed in small groups according to her favorite stories.
Dozens of colorful ribbons looped around the lamp and scattered bits of costume jewelry lay haphazardly across the flat surface, their brightness and disarray seem at odds with the otherwise stark and orderly nature of the room. Her hand stops mid-reach for the carving of a rancor, her favorite, when her eyes land on a picture frame. A small family: the mother and father wrapping a small girl in their arms, their faces frozen with eternal smiles. Her hand trembles as she feels the first flicker of doubt. Had she done the right thing?
A large, heavy hand rests on her shoulder, and she feels a light squeeze. His voice is gruff, but he speaks softer than she’s ever heard from him before, “You did the right thing, child. I’m proud of you.”
She looks up at him and his cold, dark eyes flicker slightly. The momentary glimpse of pride she sees in his eyes make all doubts disappear. “Thank you, Uncle.”
Her hand falls away from the picture and the childish objects. She doesn’t need them anymore. A new life awaits and she is eager to get on with it.
As her uncle guides her out of their house, she sees her parents sitting shackled on the ground. Her mother was slumped over, eyes closed, her face smooth and relaxed. She could have been mistaken for being asleep had it not been for the visible lump and purple stain darkening her temple. Her father, upon seeing her, struggles against his restraints, yelling something about leaving her alone, she was just a child.
One of the guards silences him with the butt of a blaster, “Quiet, scum!”.
“They will be tried in the morning. Would you like to be present?” Her uncle’s eyes pierce into hers, looking for any signs of weakening resolve.
She shakes her head and her eyes flicker to her parents’ prone forms, “No, I know what awaits traitors.”
Her uncle kneels down before her and, even then, has to look down on her. His eyes lock onto hers. Staring into those cold, dark eyes, she feels smaller than she has ever felt before, but she hardens herself and holds his gaze without flinching. With a nod, he stands and turns away from her and her parents. She turns and follows him without another look back.
She never saw her parents again.