Master Zallow, not of his teachings, but of his smiles, his stern but caring reprimands of her waywardness, the pride she knew he’d felt when she was promoted to Jedi Knight.
Those were the things that had bonded them, not pedagogy.
The hole that had opened in her when she’d felt his death yawned still. She feared she might drain away into it. She knew the name of the hole.
She’d loved Master Zallow. He’d been a father to her. She had never told him and now she never could. Losing something she loved had ripped her open in a way she had not expected. The pain hurt, but the pain was right.
The Order had wrought a galaxy in which good capitulated to evil, where human feelings—Aryn’s feelings—were crushed under the weight of Jedi nonattachment.
What good was any of it if it brought matters to this?
Her racing thoughts lifted her from bed. She was too restless for sleep. She put her feet on the carpeted floor, hung her head, tried to gather the thoughts bouncing chaotically in her brain.
She realized that she still wore her robes, not her nightclothes. She crossed the room and stepped through the sliding doors to her balcony. The brisk wind mussed her hair. The scent of wildflowers and loam saturated the air. Insects chirped. A night bird cooed.
It would have been peaceful under other circumstances.
A hundred meters down, the Alderaanian landscape unrolled before her, a meadow of tall grasses, shrubs, and slim apo trees that whispered and swayed in the breeze. She could not see the walls of the compound through the vegetation.
It was beautiful, Aryn allowed. Yet she still had the sense that she was standing at the scene of a crime. The cool night air and calm setting did nothing to assuage the feeling that the Jedi had failed catastrophically.