Time flies, or so they say. I'll be returning to duty soon. Colonel - or rather Brigadier - Varkathras will be 'evaluating' me. I hate the word. I hate waiting. At least it's not Mother doing it. Work allows me to focus. Work allows me to forget. If I look back, I am lost. The sun has not risen yet, but I am up and about. Sleep has been difficult. Sometimes it takes me back.
My path takes me to the garden. Save for a guard, the only other occupant is Diona. Ironic, I had to weed the garden of the concentration camp. Just after being brainwashed. Then I murdered a Firemane officer. I still see her face in dreams. Hear her voice, pleading with me to help her and break my conditioning.
I was too weak...
I clench my fists. I cannot be weak.
Old me was weak.
I am not.
The garden is pristinely weeded. The heady aroma of freshly cut grass fills the air. Diona is covered in dirt and sweat, but her aura is peaceful. She's wearing a collar that inhibits her ability to use the Force, of course.
"Hey," I say. It is the lamest greeting ever.
"Hey." At least hers is no better. She seems to look me up and down. "It is early. You should be resting."
"I don't recall you being the boss of me," I retort caustically.
"No, I am not," she admits. "But I am right nonetheless." She continues cutting weeds.
"You should finish up and hit the sack yourself. You can get the rest done later."
"I shall be finished soon. I find the work soothing. It is peaceful here. It gives me time for introspection. Face things I keep pushing away."
Like being complicit in murder and torture, I think. The words are on my lips. They are about to leap from my tongue, but I do not. I should not give a damn about her feelings. "I'm sure you have lots of those."
"Yes, many regrets."
For a while we are both silent. The only noise is caused by the wind and her clipping and cutting. Finally I have had enough. "I'm returning to active duty. I'll be training apprentices and helping the refugees settle in." I do not quite know why I bother tell her.
"I see. You'll be good at it. You're brave and you've got a good heart."
I...do not know how to respond to that. "Your case is being reviewed," I say instead. "High command will be sendig someone to question you."
"And they will be asking you for an opinion, I imagine."
"What happens isn't my decision, and even if it were..."
"I am not so craven or foolish to ask you to speak out in my favour," she cuts me off.
"Good. And for frak's sake, cut this 'I'm at peace with whatever the frak happens' bullchit," my throat burns as I raise my voice. I'm too irritated to care. "What do you want?"
"I told you. A chance to do some good. To do some things right before I become one with the Force."
"You think that will wipe the red from the ledger?"
"No. But it is not about wiping it away. Or making myself feel better by telling myself that I need no longer loathe myself. It is about doing the right thing - at last. Scorn me for it, if you will. But it is the truth."
My fists are clenched tightly. I take a breath. "That plant's dead," I point to it with a finger from the hand that got maimed while fighting her boss. His skull is on my desk.
"It can grow again."
"Add it to the pile."
"All it needs is a nudge. You told me that. When you toiled in the garden."
"The brainwashed drone that was using my body after you and your friends turned me into your puppets said that," I snap. The fire is rising inside me. I can feel it burning her. Beckoning to me. Demanding I strike.
She does not flinch. "In that moment, it was you talking."
"And that me is dead. She was weak."
"She was stronger than you think. She forced me to stop being blind."
"And you killed her. You and your friends. Go." When she does not leave immediately, I repeat it more forcefully. "Go!" Slowly she gets up. Diona picks up the bags of weed and clipping and departs. The guard leaves with her. I stay there alone, standing above the flowering plants and shrubs.
I breathe in deeply, trying to control the fury inside me. It takes a while. My throat burns. I draw upon the Force to control the pain. I am about to turn, then I look upon the flower. I bend down and touch it with my hand. Life returns to it and it blooms again.