Ruby twisted her white robes around her knees and crossed her legs, revealing a peak of her huarache sandals.
“I don’t know Leia, it seems like a guy-thing.”
Leia shifted her intense gaze from the scroll in front of her, quill paused centimeters from the page, “Really? What makes you say that?” She lowered the quill and returned its tip to the ink well on the dark wooden table where Ruby sat across from her, looking more uneasy with every passing minute.
“It’s not like it was with Yoda. He loved women Jedis. Now we just have Luke, and let’s face it, his force is weak. Anyway, he always pays more attention to the male recruits.”
“Let’s try to avoid absolutes, Ruby. Always. Never. No one always or never does one thing or another. If you think Master Luke’s force has become weak as he’s aged, that’s a serious accusation. Perhaps more serious than the other you just made. Remember your place and rank.” A slight breath of air escaped from between Leia’s lips. She pursed them tightly together, annoyed that she had even let that much of her opinion escape.
Ruby felt the room buzz with force, Leia’s force.
“I’m sorry, Mistress Leia. I forget that he’s your brother, and I forgot that he’s my teacher. You’re right. I spoke out of turn.”
“Apology accepted. This time. Next time I’ll toss you on your ass. With my mind. Got it?”
“Got it. I guess I just miss Yoda.”
“We all do, now get over it. Luke is Master Jedi. Yoda retired to the beaches of Ishapstar. It’s an adjustment. But stop being such a weakling. Work for Master Luke’s respect.” Leia reached for the quill again, tapping the excess ink on the side of the jar. “Now, let’s get you signed up. I have others waiting for recruitment who would take your spot in an instant.”
The pen raced across the page in the narrow, boxy script Leia had labored years to achieve. It was just right, not too girly, more typeset than anything else. No little hearts or smiley faces to dot the I’s. This was a man’s world. Even if Leia knew she was stronger, wiser, better than her nitwit brother, she accepted long ago that she was to recruit and he was to practice. The force inside her was ten times greater than his, but she would never tell Ruby that.
“It’s a real commitment, Leia. I mean, this is it. Once I sign that paper I get my lightsaber. I’m officially a Jedi, Class C.2.1.1001.”
“True, Ruby. It is a path you must choose, but know that the force does not make mistakes. It is something you are born with, not something that develops over time. You have the force. Use it, harness it, learn from it.”
Leia reached across the table pen in hand. She smiled widely, knowing that Ruby would sign. Once she did, Leia’s quota for the month was reached and she would get her bonus. “Come on, Ruby. Sign the paper. Everyone wants to be a Jedi, right?”
Idiot. Ruby’s eyes widened in surprise and Leia worried for the briefest of instants that she had spoken the word out loud, ruined her chance for that bonus–a weekend retreat with Yoda studying advanced force self-defense. She planned to actually use it some day to keep her promise to Ruby–toss her on her ass. But Ruby hadn’t heard her mind, and Leia hadn’t spoken the word out loud. Ruby was deep in her own thoughts.
“Ruby, I know. Take the pen. Sign the paper.”
Ruby’s hand quivered and lifted from where it had rested on her lap. It moved through the air independently, like an toy that belonged not to her, but to Leia.”
“What? Leia, I–”
“Look at me Ruby.” Their eyes met and Ruby could see the darkness, the wickedness deeply rooted in Leia’s force. She was helpless to resist her, her force was too weak a match for Leia’s years of study and brooding hatred for her brother. “Sign the paper. Join us. Do it. Just sign the paper.”
Ruby’s hand moved through the air. She could feel the molecules stretch like molasses as she fought against it.
“You can’t, you can’t do this, Leia!”
“I can and I will. Sign it.”
And with that Ruby’s hand relented and she pressed the quill to the page, scrawling her name in close proximity to her real signature. It was close enough that no one would ever believe her. How could they? She pressed the tip of the quill deep into the page, feeling it bite the wooden desk beneath it. It was done.
“There,” Leia released her and Ruby’s hand fell limply to the table. The pen rolled off the side and clattered to the floor, “Anyway, we need more female Jedis.”