She glanced surreptitiously at the snowballs forming seemingly by themselves near the edge of the tree line … Keela and Jiyu’s work, no doubt. Things had started up in earnest once she had shot that icy ball down Allar’s back. She felt a buzz of excitement and mischievousness, almost making her giddy. She recognized the feeling. It was the same that she got playing pranks with Elen as a youth. She chuckled. Almost no one ever expected anything less than Jedi serenity and seriousness from her. It made it more fun. How she missed Elen.
Allar was muttering something about Jedi snowball throwing being unfair. She glanced over her shoulder and grinned at her. She was hiding behind Vonn. Vonn hadn’t moved an inch throughout the whole thing and was just smoking that cigar of his, watching half-amusedly.
“You had been torturing Six…” Culurien shrugged at her and turned back just in time to dodge four more snowballs flying over her head, losing Allar’s indignant reply. However, dodging resulted in a fifth snowball taking her in the face, the icy stuff burning with a sharp cold. She shook her head and it fell free just as a sixth snowball hit her in the stomach. Brushing that one off, she looked around but couldn’t determine where it had come from.
Just then Keela, standing beside her took a snowball in the face. She burst out laughing, then, remembering herself, asked, “You ok Keela?”
Keela grinned sheepishly, brushing the snow from her face. “I think,” she said, “That Jiyu is a snowball assassin.” Culurien glanced over at Jiyu who was laughing heartily, using her brother Jin-yu as her shield. No doubt the Echani twins would be deadly snowball fighters indeed.
Watching the fray, she surreptitiously eyed Vonn while keeping out of the path of snowballs. She wondered very much how he would react if she threw a snowball into his pretentious face. She dearly wanted to find out. … But then again … a Jedi Master throwing a snowball into the face of the newly minted Legion representative SIS Director, when he was already hostile toward Jedi might not be good for relations between their respective branches. She considered. Would he be flipping mad? He had been making snide remarks about Jedi during the entire tour, apparently. She would never have noticed, except for the look on Keela’s face, and had finally puzzled out what was bothering her. It was unsurprising, really. If she did throw a snowball at him, she half-expected him to try to shank her when she wasn’t looking. But it was so tempting ….
Just as she was forming up a snowball for the purpose, Neehowe’s voice burst out, “This is our forward operating base. Treat it with respect.” She glanced up, her smile slipping. Neehowe was trodding through the muck, glowering around at the snowball fighters. Ahh, Neehowe, always one for protocol. Couldn’t she see that this was important too?
Suddenly, she noticed Connor returning a short distance behind her and her irritation changed to genuine concern. Connor might not approve and that was a bit more important than Neehowe’s annoyance. The smile fell from her face completely and she tried to straighten up, brushing the remaining snow off her white robes with a quiet sigh. The moment was gone and her mood returned to its usual solemn serenity.
Everyone around the field was having similar reactions. The snowballs immediately stopped flying. Six was brushing snow off her head. Jiyu and Jin-yu stood quietly, hands clasped behind their back. Keela was brushing snow off her shoulders, a faint smile still on her lips. The troopers around the field snapped to attention and saluted. Everyone followed Connor as he waved them over, as if nothing untoward had been happening.
They spent a moment climbing over a skein of rocks near the border of the military base. She breathed in deeply, the crisp coldness of the air burning her lungs in a refreshing way. She enjoyed climbing. As she glanced around, the blue tinged Alderaanian mountains coming into view from the top of the rocky outcropping, she couldn’t help smiling as she felt the life energy through the Force all around her. She really loved this place. Why did it have to see so much war and death?
Walking along the edge of the battlement with the rest of the group, she sighed, her thoughts going to the occupation here. They still hadn’t determined which Sith was in command of the Imperial forces. There must be one to back Commander Norikom, surely. Someone spoke, shaking her from her reverie.
“What do you think, Master A’jelor?” She looked up at Vonn who was walking beside her, puffing on his cigar. She hadn’t noticed him before.
Seeing him brought back her Impish mood without warning. She smiled slyly and turned away to watch Connor gesticulating at a mountain in the distance. “I think that I almost threw a snowball at you, Vonn. Almost.”
He laughed. [i]He laughed?![/i] It was a deep, good-natured, resonant kind of laugh that took her completely by surprise. She glanced at him and couldn’t help grinning. In that moment, all her distrust and misgivings evaporated and she felt a strange kinship with him, as if to an old friend.
However, the moment passed. She walked up to Connor and studied the mountain that he had been pointing at. What did he call it? Something inappropriate that she couldn’t remember. Imperial occupied, that would be their point of attack, if she recalled the briefing notes correctly. She studied its steep sides, trying to calculate different staging areas and points of infiltration. Connor was right. That wasn’t going to be an easy fight.
Back on the ground, she conferred briefly with Keela and Tensh, one of the other Masters there. Keela was discussing the diplomatic work they’d be doing with a gleam of excitement in her eyes. Culurien felt misgivings rising in her chest and turned away at last with a disconsolate sigh, glancing up at the mountains. They filled her view and she couldn’t help smiling at them.
She hoped very much that she could find a way to be with the troops, rather than holed up with some pretentious nobles surrounded by pretentious finery and phony smiles. To be with the troops where lives were at stake, in the trenches, down and dirty, shielding them from blaster fire, healing them as best she could on the run … she saw the battle before her mind’s eye and it filled her with a strange kind of heated determination. That was where she belonged.
She felt a grin creeping over her face. And somewhere, someplace, sometime, when he least expected it, Vonn was going to get a snowball to the face. Maybe she could arrange an entire snowdrift from one those canted rooftops to fall on the unfortunate, grumpy guy. She sighed contentedly, feeling the peace and energy of the Force swirling around her.