From the flight deck of the shuttle loomed the fourth moon of the gas giant Yavin. The habitable Yavin 4 was a bright sphere of blue and green against the star-speckled backdrop of space. The aptly named Yavin Runner II was originally designed as a small cargo ship, so there were no view ports in the hold which had been renovated for passengers.
Rosh Penin was restlessly walking back up the center isle between the rows of seats, returning from his umpteenth stroll to the aft section of the shuttle. Though the journey hadn't been long, from his point of view; his being the second to last waypoint in the shuttle's flight plan, it seemed the closer they got to their destination the less he was able to keep his excitement down. As a result, he spent very little time in his non-assigned seat. At this point he was fully aware that there were sixteen beings on board, including the two pilots. That was thirteen students like himself on their way to the Jedi Academy with the legendary Luke Skywalker as its headmaster.
Or whatever they called the Jedi equivalent of headmaster in a school for Jedi, he thought.
The students were evenly divided between male and female, at least that was Rosh's best guess. There were a couple of students whose species did not give much indication of male or female, but the Rodian, Zabrak, and Kel Dor were easily distinguishable. And of course being human himself, he had no trouble identifying them.
Though that one guy in the back made the Kel Dor look a lot better, Rosh grinned, as he finally took an isle seat in the front row on the starboard side.
Realizing the row wasn't empty he turned his head and saw another student sitting next to the bulkhead, gazing at the deck in front of her, apparently lost in thought. How Rosh could have forgotten she was on board was a mystery to him. She had been the only student they picked up at their last stop on Coruscant. She was also the only Twi'lek on the shuttle.
She wasn't as attractive as most Twi'leks Rosh had seen throughout his life. Of course most of the Twi'leks he had seen were either dancers in cantinas or slaves. So it was probably the absence of any decorative make-up or elaborate attire that made her seem plain in comparison. Despite her "plainness", she had garnered quite a bit of attention when she boarded. Again, Rosh had assumed it was because she was a Twi'lek and the allure the species seemed to have on the rest of galaxy's populace. She also had red skin, which Rosh had heard was even more rare than the blue pigmentation, and he had to admit this was the first time he ever saw a red Twi'lek.
Though she was not wearing make-up, she did have elaborate design of white tattoos all over her body. Streaks running down the side of each cheek, with half circles around the outer sides of her eyes. The black headdress she wore covered her forehead and the bottom half of her hairless scalp so he could see the tattoos flowing over her head. And though her headtails were half hidden by the leather straps wrapped in a criss-crossing pattern, each lekku was patterned with white stripes. The black one-piece outfit she was wearing covered the rest of her body, but it was strapless at the top and there were similar stripes along her ribs, with two longer stripes that flowed with the curve above each breast.
Rosh was wondering if the rest of her body was also covered in tattoos when he realized he had been staring at her for nearly a minute. Not wanting to be caught seemingly ogling the only female Twi'lek on board, Rosh was about to look away when he saw the object resting on the seat beside her leg.
So that was probably what got everyone's attention, he thought. That she had been carrying a lightsaber, the fact the shuttle was full of Jedi students notwithstanding, was actually the only one on the shuttle with a lightsaber. Rosh guessed she had to be about his age, not even twenty. So if she, like the rest of them, was on her way to begin training at Master Skywalker's Academy, how could she have possibly built her own lightsaber?
That was when he noticed she had turned her head. He lifted his gaze and met her eyes, his breath catching in his throat. At least she had caught him staring at her lightsaber and not her--
"We are entering the atmosphere of Yavin 4," the pilot's voice filtered through the intercom above. "We'll be arriving at the Academy in just a few minutes."
Relieved, "That would be so great!" Rosh exclaimed, grinning at the Twi'lek.
The young woman gave him a nod, and Rosh thought he saw a hint of a smile on her purple-tinted lips. Then she returned her gaze to the deck before her.
On impulse, Rosh got up from his seat and sat down next to her.
"Aren't you excited?" Rosh asked, his voice louder than he intended.
The Twi'lek nearly jumped, not expecting him to be so close.
"We're going to be Jedi!" Not wanting her to feel uncomfortable, Rosh settled back in his new seat. "Learning the ways of the Force. Building a lightsaber." With a glance at her lightsaber, "Of course, you already have one. I'm going to get one of those stupid training sabers."
"I wouldn't worry about that," the Twi'lek said in a light voice. "I hear they're practically the same as regular lightsabers."
Rosh considered her words. He sighed, shaking his head. "I can't help it. I want to make a good impression."
"You seem really nervous."
"Aren't you?" Then, "Well, I mean . . . why would you be? You already have a lightsaber, so you're probably way ahead of me."
She just gave a slight shrug of her shoulders in response and went back to staring at the deck.
"Uh, I'm Rosh, by the way." After a few second, when she didn't reply, "What's your name?"
"Jaden," she said, looking at him again.
"So where did you get that lightsaber?"
"Well, it's kind of a long story," she began. "I found myself on the--"
A violent shudder rocked the shuttle as a torturous rending sound reverberated through the hold.
"Hold on!" the pilot shouted over the intercom.
But the passengers, many whom were standing, were only beginning to reach for seat harness restraints when the whole craft pitched forward, throwing most of the students toward the front. Fortunately, being in the front row, Jaden and Rosh didn't have far to fall but they didn't hit the front bulkhead without a little pain and a couple of bruises. Before they could reorient themselves, there was another loud rending, then an explosion.
Jaden had heard enough on-ship explosions to know they just lost one of the engines. Thankfully, the explosion didn't seem to breach the hull, what with there being no loss in cabin pressure. Back on Coruscant, she remembered the shuttle had four engine nacelles, so if the other three were still working the pilots should have a lot of control to work with. However, the lost of the engine did pitch the craft into a steeper dive and the inertial dampeners couldn't keep up and she and Rosh were thrown back to their seats where the g-force kept them pinned and unable to move. The pilots finally managed to level the shuttle out of the dive, though they were still descending.
Very fast, Jaden thought. But at least they were able to move again and she and Rosh were trying to get themselves upright in their seats and pull on their safety harnesses.
She almost had one side of the harness around her shoulder, when she realized--
Frantic, she looked to the empty seat she had been thrown out of, but her saber was not there.
"There it is!"
She saw where Rosh was pointing and found her lightsaber, the pommel of the hilt wedged in between two panels in the front bulkhead.
Jaden stretched out her hand towards it, though the lightsaber was still two meters beyond her reach. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to focus her thoughts into using the Force to call it to her.
Ever since discovering the Force, she had not been able to do the things she heard Jedi were able to do. Like move things. She had not even been able to manipulate small objects, levitate them, or even slide them across a table surface. And right now she was cursing her ineptness. I built a fekkin' lightsaber for crying out loud, she swore to herself.
With a frustrated sigh, she removed the unfastened restraint from her shoulder and started to fight against the g-force still pushing against her to get out of her seat.
"Wait!" Rosh shouted. "Let me try."
Jaden watched as the human reached out his own hand towards her saber. The nozzle of the hilt swung in his direction but the bulkhead was not about to give up its hold on it. Now she saw Rosh's eyes narrow as he put more effort into pulling the lightsaber free.
"C'mon," he grunted, sweat starting to bead his forehead.
The weapon came free and with the added g-force of their descent, the lightsaber suddenly became a missile heading straight for Rosh's face.
"Whoa!" he cried, throwing his arms across his face.
Jaden swung her left arm up and caught the hilt in her palm, which she wore a black metal gauntlet that covered her entire forearm. The rest of her arm was also wrapped in black up to her shoulder, topped with a metal spaulder.
When nothing hit him, Rosh lowered his arms and saw the lightsaber securely in Jaden's gauntleted fist.
"Thanks," he breathed, in relief.
"Thank *you*, Rosh," she said, holding her saber closer to her body.
As they tried to get their seat harnesses on, Rosh said, "I thought lightsabers were supposed to be worn on your belt?"
Jaden frowned. "It's not my fault the Force didn't tell me how to make a belt clip," she muttered.
"Nothing. If the pilots can find a clear enough area, we shouldn't have too bad a landing."
Rosh just looked at her. "You don't know much about Yavin 4, do you?"
"What about it?"
"Yavin has a few small oceans, but the majority of the land is covered in jungle."
Jaden's eyes widen at that. Then she and Rosh put extra effort into getting their safety harnesses on.
They were still trying to fasten their harnesses when the pilot's voice filtered back to them once again. "Everyone brace yourselves. This is going to be a little bumpy."
"Some first day," she heard Rosh say.
The shuttle started to shudder again as it finally reached what Jaden assumed was the canopy of the jungle. Had it been anything more solid the shuttle would be experiencing more turbulence. As the Yavin Runner continued to descend the thuds on the outer hull became louder and Jaden hoped the trees didn't grow very thick on this world or they may actually rip the shuttle apart.
Something really sturdy must have snagged a landing strut or protruding engine nacelle, for the craft suddenly rolled 90 degrees to starboard. This elicited several yelps and screams from the students, but it seemed like everyone had gotten fastened into seats as Jaden didn't hear any bodies hitting this side of the hold.
Jaden closed her eyes, trying to keep her breathing at a steady rhythm, crossing her arms over her chest and safety harness. Their fate was now in the hands of the pilots.
She was trying to tune out the increasing barrage against the shuttle's hull, when another metallic rending, this one very loud and very close, caused her to open her eyes again. She couldn't have had her eyes closed for more than a few seconds, but it must have been longer than that because her eyes were having to adjust to the brightness.
Then Jaden became aware of the strong wind hitting her face and when her eyes finally adjusted to the light, she realized she was looking through a large hole in the bulkhead, trees rapidly streaking by as the shuttle continued to plow through the jungle. And since they were still tilted to starboard she caught glimpses of the jungle floor far below them.
The hole had been ripped right beside Jaden's original seat and she saw half that seat was now missing, having been shredded by the metal being torn away. She turned to Rosh who met her gaze, whose expression was probably a mirror of her own; wide-eyed and slack-jawed.
Neither knowing what to say, Jaden returned to looking out the hull breach.
The flashes of jungle floor were becoming clearer, not just because they were getting closer, but the shuttle was slowing down. Under the howl of the wind she thought she could hear the ship's repulsors working to slow their descent. Even the turbulence caused by the crashing trees seemed to be ebbing.
Or so she thought, she reflected as her seat jerked violently under her. A surprised grunt from Rosh told her he very much felt it as well. Even though the shuttle continued to slow, their seats seemed to buck more, and Jaden realized it was the entire row that was shaking, and only their row. When the hole was ripped out of the hull, it must have weakened the bolts to their seats, which were finally giving way.
"We need to get out of these seats!" she screamed to Rosh.
"We'll be sucked out of the hole!"
"We're going to be sucked out anyway! Move!"
They started wrestling against the harnesses they had worked so hard to secure only moments before, but their bucking seats were not making it easy for them. Nor was the lightsaber still clutched in Jaden's hand, but there was no way she was letting go of it again.
She and Rosh finally freed themselves, but quickly realized the only thing they could hold on to were the seats they were in.
"Give us your hand!"
They looked over their shoulders and saw that several of the students who had also been sitting on the starboard side had gotten out of their seats and were approaching their row from behind. Two of the students, a Zabrak female and male Rodian were reaching for them with one hand as the other students held onto their other hands acting as anchors.
Jaden and Rosh were reaching for the outstretched hands when the bolts gave way from the deck and their entire row started sliding towards the breach.
Jaden made a desperate lunge for the student's hand but the front of the seats hit her thighs and yanked her and Rosh away from the others carrying them towards the rift in the hull.
The last thing she saw were the horrified expressions on the other students' faces before she and Rosh tumbled out of the shuttle.
It had taken Alora several hours of slow progress infiltrating the Jedi Academy. Not that stealthy entry was anything new to her, but the Academy was unlike any place she had snuck in to before. With all the Jedi present the great temple did not need much in the way of electronic security but she still had to stay out of sight. Moreover, she also had to hide her presence in the Force as well. Luckily, it seemed she had a natural affinity for masking her Force Presence, which was one of the reasons her current master had taken such a quick interest in her.
Of course, this master was unlike any of her previous masters. For the first time in her life, Alora was willingly addressing someone as "master." For she was no longer anyone's slave. She was her master's apprentice and Alora was being taught many things, becoming more powerful than she ever could have dreamed.
Though she had only been training a few short years, she had the power to never be anyone's slave ever again, and could bring about the end of those who dare tried.
Having reached her destination over an hour ago; the long corridor outside Skywalker's quarters, she had found a dark nook in the high stone ceiling to hide, giving two short clicks on her short-range comlink to signal she was in position.
Alora wasn't sure what the master had planned to distract the Jedi, but, knowing the master, she would know when it happened.
And it must have already occurred. About two minutes ago she felt nearly all the Jedi in the Academy become instantly alert and ready to act. In fact many were already on the move. Though she knew it was dangerous for her to reach out with her senses, even subtly, she doubted any of the Jedi would notice her. They certainly had more urgent things on their minds right now, she smirked silently.
Even Master Skywalker was moving now and Alora heard the door to his chambers open.
"--Yavin Runner II. Do you copy?" he was saying as he emerged into the corridor.
Even though she knew it made no difference, Alora couldn't help but shrink a little deeper into her hiding place. She chided herself. If the great Skywalker was going to find her, he would have during the hour she spent right outside his personal quarters.
"Loud and clear," she heard the response from the comlink he held in his hand. "We made an emergency landing several clicks west of the Academy."
"Is everyone all right?"
"I think so. We're still doing a head count."
"Good," Skywalker started walking towards the door at the end of the hall away from Alora. "We'll send a shuttle to pick you up. Can you lead the students to the nearby Massassi Temple?"
"Affirmative, Academy. We'll meet you--"
The voice was cut off as the door slid shut behind the Jedi Master.
With no other presence she could sense nearby, Alora dropped down from her hiding place, and, despite the hour she spent not moving, her muscles did not betray her with any sudden cramps as she landed silently on the floor. She sprang forward, and almost floated down the corridor, her feet barely making contact with the stone.
She did pause at the side of the entrance to Skywalker's chambers as the door whirred softly as it opened to her presence. Before it had half risen, she ducked underneath it and quickly located his desk, pulling out the small datapad from her belt as she approached it.
With skill that had nothing to do with her current training, Alora's hands flew over the keys of both her datapad and Skywalker's computer at the same time. In less than two minutes; a personal record, she reflected idly, she had what she came for and glided out of the chamber as silently as she had entered.
Consciousness was slowly returning to Jaden Korr. She felt something tickling her nose and tried to move her head, but the tickling persisted. She sneezed, and with that, opened her eyes. She wasn't sure what she was seeing at first. Light was filtering down from above as if obscured by clouds, but then she realized it was the tall trees and branches of the jungle around her blocking the sunlight.
Jaden was lying in a thick bush with long feather-trimmed leaves. Several of those leaves were angled down towards her, their soft, sharp tips hanging above her. One of those tips had been the culprit tickling her nose and she weakly swatted it out of her face with her bare hand.
With a start, she raised her left hand above her and was relieved to see her lightsaber still clutched firmly in her gauntlet.
Allowing herself to relax again, the soreness in her body, caused by her landing, called for attention. Despite the protests of her muscles, she tried rolling to the side. After the third attempt, she succeeded in rolling out of the bush that had apparently broken her fall. At least nothing else was broken, she thought, finding herself in tall grass.
Slowly, making sure she had no serious injuries, Jaden rose to her feet surrounded by trees.
She heard a groan behind her and turned to see Rosh's head rising from the tall grass a few yards away. The soreness in her muscles became easier to manage the more she moved and Rosh was on his knees by the time she reached him.
"Are you all right?" she asked.
The young human looked up and his eyes brightened when he saw her. "Hey, Jaden. We're alive!" As she helped him to his feet, he was straightening his back when he suddenly gasped in pain. "Oww!" His tone became one of disappointment. "We're alive."
Hissing a final groan between his teeth he managed to stand up straight. Then looked down at himself, then looked Jaden over. With surprise in his voice, "How do we not have a scratch on us?"
Jaden looked down at herself. He was right. Even though her flesh was a deep red, any scratches and blood would still be very noticeable. The few small rips in there outfits also revealed unblemished skin underneath.
Jaden just shook her head, though she wondered if there was some sort of instinctive way Jedi could use the Force to protect their bodies from a certain amount of harm.
She was brought out of her thoughts by an electrical chirp. It took her a few seconds to remember the comlink she had been given by the Jedi recruiter on Coruscant a couple of weeks ago. It allowed them to let her know when the Academy shuttle would pick her up.
She opened the small pouch on her belt and pulled out the comlink. "Hello?"
"Jaden," the voice of the pilot said. "This is Yavin Runner II, are you all right?"
"We've been trying to contact Rosh, but we haven't gotten a response."
"He's right here with me. He's fine too."
Rosh had pulled out his own comlink and was holding up the crushed device in his hand. With a shrug, he let it fall to the grass.
"That's a relief," the pilot said. "We ended up in a small valley half a click from your position. The good news is that we're on the same ancient path, but it will take us about two kilometers on foot before the path leads back to you. The Academy is sending a shuttle to meet us at the Massassi Temple. You and Rosh have a head start on the rest of us, so if you follow the path northeast, it will take you right to the temple."
"Copy that. Thanks." Jaden returned her comlink to her belt. "I guess we should get moving."
Rosh nodded falling in step beside her. "We haven't even gotten to the Academy yet and we're already getting a work out."
"We fell out of a moving shuttle," Jaden added. "I don't know how our first day of training can be more exciting than that."
They walked along in silence for a few minutes, listening to the noises of the jungle, occasionally swatting away small bugs that flew close to them.
"So what color is your lightsaber?" Rosh asked.
Jaden was about to answer, but then stopped, a grin forming on her lips. "What color do you think it is?"
There was a hint of nervousness in his voice. "Uh, well . . . I hear that blue and green are the most common colors for lightsabers. I mean for Jedi."
Jaden's grin grew wider. "You want to say 'red', don't you?"
"What!?" Rosh exclaimed, alarmed. "No. I . . . I mean, isn't red supposed to be an evil color or something?"
"I believe the term is 'dark side'."
"Dark side. Evil. Same thing."
"I suppose." After a few seconds, she added, "And no, my lightsaber is not red."
"What color did you choose?"
"That's the funny thing. I didn't really choose a color." She shook her head slightly. "You'll understand what I'm talking about when you build your own lightsaber."
"So let me see it, already."
Jaden couldn't help smiling. She came to a stop, switched the saber to her right hand and, holding the hilt at elbow height, she thumbed the activation switch. The green blade emerged with a snap-hiss sound that silenced most of the wildlife in their immediate surroundings. The steady hum of the sword was amplified by the closeness of the trees on either side of the path.
Rosh was staring at the saber in awe. "This is the first time I've actually seen one."
"Trust me," Jaden said. "You'll get use to it real fast."
Rosh looked her in the eyes. "But you still haven't been able to move things with the Force?"
A pang of irritation went through Jaden and she quickly closed down her lightsaber, letting the hilt fall to her side. She started walking again. Caught off-guard, Rosh had to hurry the first couple of steps to catch up with her.
"No." She said, flatly.
"Maybe I can teach you?" he said.
Jaden wasn't sure, but she thought she heard a twinge of smugness in his tone. He was probably thinking that she wasn't so far ahead of him after all, if she couldn't even use the Force in such a simple way.
"Let's just get to the Temple."
They had been walking for nearly ten minutes when they came upon their first sign of trouble. The screeching howl that echoed from the trees stopped them in their tracks.
"What was that?" Rosh asked.
"I thought you were the one that knew about Yavin," Jaden retorted.
"I just read its widia entry on the Holonet. I don't remember it saying anything about dangerous creatures."
"The planet is one big jungle," Jaden said . "Of course it's going to have predators."
The noises seemed to be coming from every direction at once. Either the howls were echoing on both sides of the path, or there was more than one creature out there. Since she couldn't pinpoint where they were coming from anyway, she activated her lightsaber and held it in both hands, taking, what she hoped was, an appropriate ready stance.
"I wish you had made two lightsabers," Rosh commented.
"Good thing I didn't," she snapped. "Wouldn't want you to hurt yourself."
Rosh turned to her. "Hey. I said I was sorry about what I said. I didn't mean to hurt your--"
"Rosh!" Jaden shouted, looking behind the human.
Rosh turned around just as one of the predators revealed itself, leaping out of the tall grass. It was reptilian in appearance, had a long snout with jaws full of sharp teeth, was nearly human length from head to tail, and used sinewy hind legs to launch itself into the air. Since the claws of its front limbs didn't have the same reach as its neck, it opened its dangerous maw in its attack on Rosh.
To his credit, maybe with a little Force enhanced reaction, Rosh was already trying to back peddle. But starting from a half turned position, he didn't have the right balance and his feet crossed ankles. Which turned out to be fortunate, since the howling creature flew over the human, its jaws snapping at the air Rosh's head would have been had he not fallen.
The creature landed a couple of yards beyond Rosh, right in front of Jaden. She swung her lightsaber laterally as the creature raised its head, and the laser blade sliced through its thin neck as easily as it did the air. Expecting some resistance from the impact, Jaden was thrown off-balance from the momentum of her two-handed swing. Her first instinct, as she stumbled sideways, was to spread her arms out to regain her balance, but with the live saber, she figured it was safer to keep both hands on it and kept the blade pointed away from herself. It only occurred to her that she just as easily could have shut the blade down, what with her thumb still on the activation switch, when she landed on her back in the tall grass.
Sighing in disgust, she closed her weapon, and sat up. But before she moved any further it felt as if a sonic boom erupted from inside her skull. She brought her hands up against the sides of her head so fast she nearly brained herself with her own lightsaber, but with her brain feeling like it was about to explode, she didn't even notice.
Jaden fell to the grass again, her back arching with the pain. If she was screaming it was drowned out by the torturous screeching of the second howler, which she saw a couple of meters above her head standing on it's hind legs, its long neck stretched straight up as it continued to assault her auditory senses.
More out of desperation rather than coherent thought, Jaden had to wrench her own hand away from the side of her head to point the hilt of her lightsaber at the creature. She wasn't sure if her thumb was even moving, but after a couple of seconds --which felt more like an eternity-- the white-emerald beam snapped into existence and the tip of the blade pierced the center of the howler's exposed underbelly.
The blade must have hit something vital for the creature died instantly, and the intense pain in her head faded as the howler collapsed on top of her lightsaber. The blade quickly started burning the howler's flesh. She knew this, first from the vibrations she felt through the hilt, and then when the smoke started rising from underneath the creature's body. For she certainly was not able to hear any of this happening.
Jaden tried to shut down her lightsaber as she struggled to her feet, but this time she was unable to get her thumb to work. As a consequence, she ended up cutting the dead howler in half as she pulled her blade out from under it. She tried to stand up straight, but while the pain in her head was gone, in its place was a wave of dizziness that seemed to be swimming behind her eyes, and she wavered on her feet.
Not wanting to accidentally fall on her own lightsaber, she loosened her hand and just let it fall to the grass. Before it hit the ground the blade was already closing. A safety feature she must have built into it, she thought numbly. Some of the tall blades of grass still ignited the instant the beam touched them. Quick flares that died just as fast.
Jaden turned to where she last saw Rosh, or at least, in the direction she thought she did. She really had no clear sense of directions right now. She found him several meters away. He was shaking his head as if to clear it. He must have been effected by the howler's sonic attack as well. But it was obvious the greater distance blunted a lot of the attack for he was able to stand with steadier legs than she was.
That was when she saw another howler crawling out of the trees behind Rosh's right shoulder. She shouted is name, or thought she did, pointing at the creature. However, her aim was severely off and her finger was actually pointing at his nose. Rosh seemed to get the idea and spun around just as the howler sprung on its hind legs. The young man pushed out with both palms towards the creature and halfway through its leap, the invisible power hit it. The howler was sent flying back, its spine crossing with a thick tree trunk folding the creature back in an unnatural angle. Jaden was sure she would have heard the breaking bones had she been able to hear.
Not seeing anymore of the creatures, and not particularly caring if there were at that moment, Jaden let herself drop to her knees, slumping into a sitting position, before the dizziness overcame her. She stared at her lap hoping it would soon pass. And hoping her hearing would soon return.
If her hearing returned, she worried.
It wasn't until Rosh put a hand on her shoulder that she realized he had approached her, and was probably saying something to her.
"I can't hear anything, right now," she said, not hearing her own voice.
Understanding entered Rosh's face so she must have said it out loud. He said something to her, but not being able to read his lips very well, she couldn't begin to guess what it was. Jaden looked over her shoulder and pointed to the small area of smoking grass.
Rosh went to retrieve it and returned offering the hilt to her.
Jaden shook her head. "You hold onto it right now. I would probably cut both of us in half if I tried using it."
Rosh's eyes beamed as he looked at the lightsaber in his hand. Jaden's eyes narrowed. "Don't get too attached to it. As soon as I feel better I'm taking it back."
"Sorry," she was able to read from his lips.