It was kriffing cold. So cold, Ahsoka's montrails were aching despite the thermal gear she was wearing, hood and all. And the biting wind didn't help either. It tore at her jacket and echoed in her head. So cold even flexing her finger and subtlety stomping her feet didn't bring any feeling back to them.
And Master Yoda was talking. She should likely be paying attention. "Important this day is. Your first lightsaber crystals you may find, yes?"
Master Plo nodded and gave them further details, his voice buzzing through his breathing apparatus. Likely dangers and, most importantly, how much time they had before the kyber crystal cavern's entrance would ice over again, trapping any who didn't make it back outside for several rotations.
Then it was time to enter. She entered with the other remaining members of her initiate class, the Clawmouse clan. She was the oldest of them and was beginning to worry that no jedi would ever take her on as a padawan learner.
"Wake up, Tano," Dax hissed as she walked by, jostling Ahsoka's shoulder. A human girl from Corsucant and four years her junior, Dax was convinced Ahsoka had outstayed her welcome at the Temple and should just accept a lesser position, like a Temple groundskeeper. A belief she wasn't shy about sharing with Ahsoka or any of the other initiates that would listen. "The ice isn't going to wait."
"Perhaps we should stay together. Pool our resources." Suggested Mi-shall, a cerean girl
who was younger than Ahsoka as well. All three paused and stared into the dark caves before them. Ahsoka nodded agreement while Dax scoffed but stayed with the other two as they entered. They wandered, not quite sure how to search for the crystals, but quickly discovering the tunnels were maze-like. The other two seemed to not care, but Ahsoka decided marking their paths might not be a bad idea and so she searched about for a rock or piece of permafrost. Which was harder than she thought with how dim the light was. Finally she knelt down and felt with her hands until she found a piece which scratched the floor without breaking.
And of course when she stood back up she saw the other two hadn't waited for her.
Running and trying to fight down her annoyance, she found them after two bends. Dax seemed to have found her crystal first, if her struggling to get around a large boulder to another tunnel and the soft glow from within the tunnel was anything to go by. Mi-shall stood watching, as if Dax were something interesting she didn't understand. Dax eventually gave up and pulled back with a scowl, before she schooled her features to peace and tried to move the boulder with the Force. The boulder shifted but was too much for Dax.
Not hesitating, Ahsoka called out, "Let me help," and added her own push with the Force, before Dax could respond. The boulder shifted and Dax almost called out a thanks, but then the ceiling of the tunnel (which the boulder had been holding up) collapsed. Rounding on Ahsoka, Dax spat out, "Look what you did! Now I have to find another way into that cavern! Uggg. Next time you want to help? DON'T!!!" before storming off.
Mi-shall turned her curious gaze to Ahsoka and blinked. "I was just trying to help," Ahsoka muttered in reply before sighing.
"Well, perhaps you should wait for acceptance?"
"I guess. Let's keep looking."
They continued for what felt like hours, getting deeper and deeper into the caverns. Eventually Mi-shall felt the pull of her own crystal but rejected Ahsoka offer of accompaniment, deciding to trust in the Force to guide her path, which made Ahsoka feel guilty about scratching marks to guide her path. Did that make her less of a jedi for not trusting in the Force?
And still Ahsoka felt no pull from a crystal.
Hours later, and the cold had truly set in Ahsoka. She could swear she couldn't feel her fingers, toes, or lekku, let alone a call from the Force . Sometimes she heard Mi-shall and sometimes Dax, but she was never quite sure where they were. The caves echoed terribly. Eventually she did come across Dax, who had been calling for help for some time.
"Oh great, it's you." Dax said from a pile of rocks.
Ahsoka ran over to see what was the matter, choosing to ignore Dax's derision. "What's wrong?"
"Another cave fall. My leg is trapped."
"Can I help?" she asked, remembering Mi-shall's advice.
"I guess," Dax replied glumly. Freeing her was pretty easy but once the rocks were removed, it was pretty obvious Dax was hurt and couldn't walk very well by herself.
"Did you find your crystal?" Ahsoka asked Dax, trying to calculate how much time had passed and if she'd have enough to get Dax to the entrance and be able to return to search for her own crystal. She guessed it would be tight, if she had any time.
"Yes," Dax replied, holding it up.
Ahsoka chewed her lip in thought, but who was she kidding? "Let's get you out of here then."
They made it to the entrance just as the ice was closing in, the sight destroying any chance Ahsoka had of running back to search farther. Taking a calming breath, she helped Dax to stand before masters Yoda and Plo Koon, and a waiting Mi-shall. Ahsoka told herself she could always come back next season to find a crystal.
"All have returned," Plo said with solemnity and gestured to all three. "Show us your crystals."
Mi-shall and Dax showed theirs but Ahsoka shook her head. "I didn't find one. I failed."
"Failed have you? Hmm? Failure is it, to help a fellow jedi? Dax I think would argue for success, yes?" Yoda replied, looking from Ahsoka to Dax, who nodded with more friendliness than Ahsoka had ever expected. "And Mi-shall, how came you to be here?"
"I was lost in the caves, I must admit. Then I found the marks Ahsoka had been making to guide our paths. I followed them."
"Two jedi helped? Failure this is?"
"But I failed to find my crystal."
"Hmm...interesting. Hard is the life of a jedi. Always the galaxy will demand attention. Always there are things we think we need, out there. In the stars, in another's hands," Yoda continued, pacing about as he spoke. Then he stopped and poked Ahsoka's clenched fist, the one which held the permafrost piece she'd been marking the walls with, "When often what we need is right in our hands."
As Ahsoka opened her hand, light caught her kyber crystal and it began to glow.