Saga Inheritance (Mace, Obi-Wan, Anakin)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by ruth baulding, Sep 16, 2012.

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  1. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    13.



    I’m s’posed to be meditating, but I just can’t. Not when everything is so twisty and jiggery all over the place. Master says the Force is disturbed, and we have to meditate. He really likes holding still, and I just don’t get it. I mean, I feel really weird right now, kind of like everything is messed up on the inside and the outside together, like I’m being squeezed in a lot of different directions and I can’t really breathe – and wouldn’t it make more sense to just go really, really, fast? When I’m flying – podracing, I mean – then this feeling can’t catch up with me. It’s like I can think clearly and see things how they really are and there’s nothing in the universe but me and the stuff and the people I care about and everything will be okay because I can make it be okay.

    I really wish I could be podracing and feel that way right now, but Master says we have to meditate instead. Like he always does. ‘Cept I can’t focus too good, not with all these other things messing around in my mind. I squint my eyes open to check on Master, and he’s still sitting there, with his hands resting on his knees, and his eyes are closed. I think he actually likes meditating. You can tell. He sort of shines and he’s really, really calm almost like he was that day when Master Qui-Gon was still alive and they were talking in the ship on the way to Coruscant, before they got all mad at each other. I was watching and I saw how calm and happy Master was then, too. He was joking about the hyperdrive failing again because of Master Qui-Gon getting defective parts. And they kept saying stuff to each other that I didn’t understand but the more serious their faces got the more the Force sort of danced and spun and I could tell it was a happy argument and more like a game.

    Master hasn’t really smiled the same way since then, except I think when he meditates sometimes he smiles on the inside like that, a little bit. Or maybe when we joke around, which isn’t that much ‘cause I’m still getting the hang of it, but that’s different anyway. Do you think the Force talks to him? I mean, not in words exactly, but somehow? That would be wizard. Maybe if I practiced more it could be that way for me too but I don’t know. I think it takes a long, long time to be able to do that. Being a Padawan takes for like forever. You should have seen how long Master’s braid was, before it got cut off. It was past his waist. That’s a whole lotta years. I’ll be about a bazillion by the time my braid’s that long and Master will be an geezer like Old Man Puuler back home on Tatooine.

    This is soooo boring, but I’ll get in hoocha big trouble if I fidget too much, so I’ll just hold still and think about something else. Hey! You know what? That train thingummy could work a whole lot better if they would just calibrate the repulsors on the different sleds. I bet I could rig that up in no time. All you have to do is tweak the regulator on the drive for the first one, and then run a sync-pulse circuit through the polarizer for the rest. If I can scrounge up the right parts, I bet I could make it ride like a sweet landspeeder. It would be easy. I bet the Feorians would like that. Who wants to go riding around in a rickety old piece of poodoo?

    The Feorians are weird. They gave us dinner in that big common house place, with the fire pit inside. I thought the food was pretty good, mostly tuber-mash and flatbread, sort of like the stuff Mom made back home. The other vegetable dish I didn’t try, and the insects I think made Master’s stomach turn. They did have a lot of legs and stuff, and hairs, I think. But if you’re hungry enough you will eat anything, and that’s how Mom and me learned to eat bugs. They aren’t so bad, really. Master Windu ate them without blinking, almost like he thought they were good, and then Master Obi-Wan actually tried one or two but I noticed that he said no thanks to seconds when the serving tray came around again. I kinda thought he would say that eating bugs is uncivilized but he was super polite when the chieftain offered him some, so I guess it was a diplomacy thing. And he’s really good at keeping a straight face. The music the Feorians made was pretty sad, I thought. They had that big drum thingy with the hide stretched over it like Tuskens use on their shelters, and those long reed tubes for blowing into and the music sounded kind of like a herd of dying banthas mostly but I didn’t make a face or anything and I even clapped at the end because Master did and I can be diplomatic too, if I have to.

    Some of the music was s’posed to be about that jabuur-weki thing, too. It sounds a lot like some of the stories people used to tell around Mos Espa, like the scary ones that mostly just kept slaves from daring to run away. There was this one story about Ben-Attur-Yavi, Wizard of the Black Hills, and all the terrible stuff he would do to folks that he caught up in the rock formations on the dune sea. That one was a whole lotta boshuda lies… I think. There’s no such person as Black Ben the Wizard. But people talked so much about him that sometimes when stuff went wrong everybody would blame it on him, like he had put a curse on the town. I think this jabuur-weki is like that, maybe.

    But then again, there were people that got crisped by this thing.. And somebody real had to do that. I really want to ask Master about it, but his eyes are still closed and I don’t think I should bother him. And what I really want to talk to him about is the Feorians and the whole story of how him and Master Qui-Gon freed them.

    I’ve gotta lot of questions about that.
  2. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3


    14.



    It is difficult to meditate; I cannot easily maintain my anchor while Anakin’s distraction tugs persistently at my mind. He is disturbed; he has been since we first discussed the Feorians. Since I admitted that Jedi do, sometimes, free slaves.

    Outside Republic jurisdiction we have no right to interfere with the established laws and customs of any world; we cannot impose our will upon those who do not recognize the same principles simply because we have the power. I know this; I have heard it time and again, argued its cause and worth until I am hoarse… and yet, there is still part of me that would shy away from the harsh truth it entails. We cannot save everyone.

    Qui-Gon Jinn made exceptions as he saw fit. And now, with a twist of dread, I wonder why he did not make more of an exception for Anakin’s mother. I never met her… but she must have been a remarkable woman in her own way. My master tried to buy her freedom when he liberated Anakin; but in the end, he was thwarted and left her behind on Tatooine, sadly languishing in the throes of slavery. Did he intend to go back later? Knowing him, he might have. He said nothing to me about it…. but what cause had I given him, then, to confide in me? I had the temerity, after that Council session, to -

    Breathe.

    There is no emotion. There is peace.

    … Should I undertake that which he did not live to see done? Against every precept and precedent, and surely against the advice of the Council? Train the boy. That was and is my all-consuming mandate; and I must ask also whether such a covert action would teach anything of value. Attachment. Non-acceptance. Defiance. Disregard for law. Emotionality. Possession. Control. Are these to be my legacy to the “Chosen One”?

    What is more important: the restoration of Balance… or the fate of this one good woman – one who courageously bid her son go on his way without her, to keep his face toward whatever destiny lies at his feet? The Force itself seemed to ordain these events. So why does my heart rebel, and for whom – in the last accounting – does it so ache? For she who accepted her lot, or for him, who must continue on alone, forsaking her comfort and guidance?

    Shmi Skywalker, Qui-Gon said, was at peace. The Force, he said, would find a way to free her, if it were meant to be. Freedom, he said, spared no one insecurity, suffering or death. Shmi understood these things. She gave her son away without attachment.

    But her son lives in fear for her. I sense it. We are bonded now, too, and I have shared unwillingly in his nightmares, seeing that same nameless dark rise to snatch at her, to whisk her away into the howling sand, or to impale her upon a blood-red blade, burning a hole through two hearts at once…

    No. This is not a path that leads to answers or clarity. Breathe.

    There is no –

    “Master?”

    Force, I’m tired. “Yes, Anakin?” Why should we pretend to meditate, when neither is able? Master Windu has mercifully chosen to patrol the village perimeter, so we have a moment of privacy.

    “This isn’t a very nice place to live.”

    Well, … no. It isn’t. “Why do you say that?”

    He shrugs, one shoulder lifting and dropping in a gesture of childish reticence. “Dunno. It just isn’t, is all. And the Feorians – why did they choose this place? It feels weird here.”

    It does indeed; but I choose to skim over this latter fact. “The Feorians didn’t precisely choose to live here, Padawan. They were offered very few options in the end.”

    “But I thought you said they were freed. How can you be free if you don’t have a choice?

    Oh dear. But perhaps this is a teaching opportunity. It would be negligent to abstain from giving at least a cursory answer. “Freedom takes more than mere emancipation,” I remind him. “They were liberated from slavery, yes; but thereafter, a new life and home had to be found for them. And they had been so many generations in bondage that they hardly knew what to do with themselves. People.. politicians… fought over it, for almost a year. Eventually, a group of scholars and activists arranged for the Feorians to be given unclaimed land – out here, on Gola – so they might preserve their cultural ways. I believe the Galactic Senate subsidizes them in some paltry way. It’s not perfect.”

    “It’s choobazzah,” he retorts, face drawn into an impressive scowl, snub nose and round cheeks notwithstanding. “What’s the use of freeing people if they end up living like this?”

    “We did what we could,” I reply. How dare he question the wisdom of a man half-a-century his senior, and a wise and powerful Jedi master? The sheer impudence of such implied criticism astounds me… until I remember whom it was that last threw Qui-Gon Jinn’s decisions back in his face, and not with all due respect, either.

    “Well, it wasn’t very much, was it?” Anakin snorts, lower lip protruding in an angry pout. “What’s the use of being a Jedi if you can’t fix things?”

    Why, you little –

    But we are saved from further acrimonious exchange by the reappearance of Master Windu. A blast of cold night air accompanies him through the crude door of our shelter.

    “I sense no immediate danger in the vicinity,” he announces, “Though the Feorians have retreated into their shelters as though they expect a siege. Their chieftain informs me that the jabuur-weki passes through at midnight, to lay down judgment on the unworthy.”

    He crosses the small space and sits down upon the packed earth floor. There are four primitive sleeping mattresses built along the wall – palettes of skin and wooden planks, possibly less comfortable than the floor. Besides these, our guest house contains no furnishings beside a shallow fire pit lined with stone.

    “What do you suppose this avenging spirit might truly be?” I inquire. Figments of the collective imagination seldom leave ‘living corpses’ behind.

    “An invisible spirit, I don’t think,” he rumbles, waving a hand over the glowing embers in the pit. A flare of yellow light leaps up, obedient, and licks at the pile of tinder. His dark Korun features are cast in dancing shadow by the fire.

    “The Force is invisible,” Anakin pipes up. I cast him a repressive look, but of course it has no effect. “Why not an invisible spirit thing?”

    Master Windu considers him gravely. “The Force is visible everywhere, Padawan,” he corrects the boy sternly. “Look around you – there is nothing which the Force does not shape and sustain. This jabuur-weki, on the other hand…” He makes a dismissive gesture with one powerful hand, sweeping aside the mythical demon with the ease of one swatting a gadfly away. “I sense an elaborate deception at work here.”

    “So what’re we gonna do about it?” Anakin demands, forgetting his protocols yet again. Why do I even try?

    But Master Windu is in a tolerant mood, it would seem. His white smile flashes in the fire-fretted darkness. “The jabuur-weki walks at midnight,” he says. “I think we ought to make a formal introduction.”
  3. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    15.



    This journey isn’t turning out as I had expected. And therein lies a lesson: expect nothing. I had hoped to spend some time quietly absorbing the Feorians’ life-ways, perhaps sparring, meditating, exploring the tundra here. I envisioned a rare opportunity to relax, and more importantly, to observe Kenobi and Skywalker at leisure.

    That will have to wait. We’ve been here less than one planetary rotation, yet our plans have been disrupted already. We were, it seems, preceded by another guest – a most unwelcome one. I do not believe in avenging spirits - and I have seen enough of the galaxy and the mysterious ways of the Force to know that skepticism is a fool’s avocation. But there is something too craven and cringing about our hosts’ description of this monster. I sense an elaborate hoax.

    But played upon whom, and by whom? And to what end?

    “Skywalker,” I bark. The boy’s attention wanders easily, like all children his age. He jolts out of his reverie and trots to catch up with me. That’s all to be expected, nothing worrisome. Half the initiates in the clan dormitories are just as skittish, especially the boys; there are good reasons we don’t apprentice some of them until they’ve outgrown such distractibility. A lapse in attention can be deadly to master and Padawan alike.

    I decided to take Skywalker with me tonight; I’d like to know him better. Obi-Wan looked alarmed by the prospect but acquiesced with proper deference and respect. I wonder what catastrophe he anticipates. After all, I’ve dealt with my own Padawans before, and much worse. He should have more confidence in my abilities, I think.

    The village perimeter is marked in white stones, nothing more. They glimmer faintly under the diffuse moonlight, picking out an irregular circle about the confines of the Feorians’ rude dwelling-place. All the land for many klicks about is marked off on the maps as a Reservation – yes, every lifeless clump of frozen soil in sight, and all the bracken and thorny native plants thereon. A generous gift of the Galactic Senate and the Outer Golian Presidency.

    Now the boy is dogging my footsteps diligently, the Force gently puckered with his concentration. I have to admit, there are depths and depths of potential there. When the Council examined him for the first time, I was astounded by his performance on the standard tests of perception. And the way Anakin Skywalker leaves his stamp on the Force is impressive. This child imprints his signature in the plenum without effort; here, at such proximity to this odd child, I barely feel Obi-Wan’s presence on the opposite side of the outskirts, as though it is almost drowned out by the greater, if untutored, luminary.

    Or perhaps I should say veiled; the humble fixed stars shine steadily, though their presence is seemingly eclipsed by gaudy terrestrial light, or by a sudden yet fleeting supernova. I don’t know what to make of this vergence, as Qui Gon had the audacity to name the boy. And the Force itself is silent, as the though Skywalker is its last word, the fait accompli with which we must come to grips.

    “Um, Master Windu?” this prodigy inquires of me.

    I’ve been in his company long enough to know that his favorite complaint is that of cold; and it is certainly close to freezing point out here. Our boots crunch on gritty ice as we patrol the lonely expanse. At least there is little wind tonight, and the skies are clear, providing good visibility.

    But it isn’t the cold which has him so disturbed. “Um,” he repeats, shifting nervously foot to foot. “I’m really sorry, but we’ve been out here a long time and, um…” There is something vaguely familiar about his mincing dance.

    Fierfek! I mustn’t laugh aloud. A quick scan of our surroundings reveals no convenient rock or tree. I sweep a hand over the empty plains. “Pick a spot, Padawan.” There’s no need to be fastidious, and I’m unaware of any taboo prohibitions on the Feorians’ part.

    He still doesn’t make a move, the very picture of mortified hesitancy, and I wonder at the strange conjunction of faces that swims before my inner eye. Surely, surely, at some time Qui-Gon had this exact conversation with a much younger Kenobi?… some things are cyclical events, recurrent and predictable as the seasons. Yes - even for Jedi.

    “Well?” That doesn’t mean I’m going to stand for such unnecessary fuss.

    Sullenly, he turns his back and does his business, leaving another soon-to-be-frozen puddle on the stony ground.

    “Let’s get moving,” I suggest, firmly. A few more years’ training, and he’ll be better able to defer such mundane urges. In the meantime, it’s murder out here. Cold as Hoth.

    “What are we looking for, exactly?” he inquires between chattering teeth, as we tramp onward.

    “This jabuur-weki,” I tell him. “Or whomever is posing as such a thing.”

    “I bet it’s raiders,” Skywalker offers. “On Tatooine, the Tuskens would make night-time attacks on farmsteads. They’re real quiet and you can’t track them ‘cause they know the desert better than anybody.. But people blamed a lot of the murders on Black Ben, you know ‘cause he’s a wizard who can go invisible and kill people by making a doovoo image, and stuff. But really it was just the Sand People. Or sometimes it was bounty hunters working for the Hutts. If you don’t pay your protection money, it’s all over. I don’t think Jedi ever came to Tatooine before – not until Master Qui-Gon showed up.”

    His thoughts are jumbled knot of associations and memories, but there is much truth in what he says. I nod in approval. A healthy dose of dubiety in regard to local legend never harmed anyone.

    “Whoa!” the boy hisses, stopping dead in his tracks. “What’s that?”

    The Force is alight with warning, the air rigid with an electric tension; and then I see it – or almost see it: the ripple of some invisible power, shuddering flickers of light just beyond the visible spectrum, the snap of ionized air, the lingering scent of lightning.

    Skywalker is running toward the source of danger before I can issue a command.

    “Padawan, wait!” I order, but his feet have carried him across the frosted earth to a misshapen lump, a bundle of homespun garments and elongated limbs sprawled inelegantly across a ragged tussock. I sense Kenobi sprinting toward us, too, his circuit of the village perimeter having brought him nearly round to our location again. We all come to a simultaneous halt at the site of the disaster.

    A young Feorian lies inert at our feet. Kenobi is already crouched beside him, hands seeking a pulse, some sign of life.

    “He’s not dead… but I can’t feel his presence at all.”

    I drop to one knee, meeting his perplexed gaze. The Force seems to have abandoned the victim entirely; where there should be a thrumming nexus of life, there is a hollow void, a small empty place in the universal currents. Skywalker stands just behind his master, one small hand fisted in Obi-Wan’s cloak hood, his childish features stricken with horror.

    The sightlessly staring Feorian’s eyes are twin pools reflecting the moons, gutted yellow orbs shining in the ghoulish light. Tiny puffs of condensed air congeal above his slackened jaws, in rhythm with our own gentle exhalations, but that is all. I reach out, across the endless waste, into village, all around us…. But there is nothing and nobody at all.
    The jabuur-weki has struck again, and it would seem that it is indeed an avenging spirit.
  4. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    16.



    That was scary last night. I mean, not that I was scared, but if somebody who wasn’t a Jedi had been there, he woulda been blown away. That Feorian guy was just staring up at the moon, with his eyes all open and not blinking, and the whole place felt really weird. I could even feel Master tense up a bit. The Force told me that – it was wizard, kinda like we’re already good friends and I really understand him, even the stuff he doesn’t say. That’s why I stayed so close the rest of the night. ‘Cause I could tell he was nervous or something.

    None of the other Feorians would come outta their houses when we went to tell them and finally Master Windu decided to stay on watch, just in case there was more of whatever that was out there… and Master Obi-Wan and me went back to our own house, the one they gave us I mean, and Master tried to get me to go back to sleep but who would want to do that when something so choobazzi just happened? So then we had to meditate – again- but I didn’t complain because I could tell that the weird feeling in the Force got Master kinda worked up. I mean a little, not that you could really tell. But he has this serious face sometimes. You’d have to see it to know what I mean.

    This morning the whole place is in a big ol’ puggooda like that day in Mos Espa when Tarff the beggar died in the street in the middle of the night and everybody blamed everybody else and some of the gutter kids like that sleemo Greedo all went through his pockets looking for money and stuff before anybody could stop them. Speeders came here to the Feorian village from faraway, maybe official government people or something, and the chieftain was all mad and waving his stick around and I thought he was going to shout “Echoota!” at everybody or maybe something even worse, but the grownups all went off to talk with the other people coming from far away and I ended up staying here with the kids.

    The Feorian kids are wizard. There’s only seven of them in the whole village and mostly they’re older than me but it doesn’t matter ‘cause they think I’m a big chuba bosski ‘cause I’m a Jedi and all. They don’t get what an apprentice is or anything, so I figured it would just be confusing to explain all that, but it’s kinda annoying when they want to see my laser sword and I have to ‘splain that I don’t have one, not yet. But I will.

    And they knew where to get the most rugged breakfast, out of this pit in the ground where it’s really cold, like a shipping freighter’s refrigeration hold, but without any generators, and they’ve got tubers and dried meat and stuff all stocked up. It was kinda like Tatooine food and nobody was looking so we had a feast without any utensils or fancy manners or anything. Wait till some of those Jedi kids at the Temple hear about that! They’ll prob’ly faint ‘cause they’re kinda stuck up about being all proper and stuff and they can’t even go on a field trip without like a zillion chaperones, and they would never ever raid a pantry.

    But me and the Feorians hogged out. It was really good too, and then it was like I was back home ‘cause now me and them are all friends.

    They get it. Maybe we could take one of these guys back home and make him a Jedi too. I know they’re s’posed to have midichlorians and all, but I mean does it really matter? I mean, couldn’t you just try really hard and if you cared about stuff and you followed all the rules, couldn’t you be a Jedi too? Master Obi-Wan says there’s lots of Jedi in the galaxy who aren’t powerful enough to be Knights and masters and they help in different ways like farming and teaching and stuff. So that’s kinda the same. And these Feorians would definitely want to help anybody who was a slave. A lot of them were born slaves, too, just like me.

    So then we all hung out in this long house that has these wizard fire pits built into the middle and you could barely tell it’s freezing cold outside when you’re in there, I think ‘cause the walls are made of mud kinda like at home. Isn’t that weird? How come the same stuff keeps you hot or cold depending on what’s outside? Mud must be more complicated than I thought, more like cybernetic response motivator circuits and less like plain old dirt. Anyway, it’s a wizard place and some of them kinda knew about this jabuur-weki thing and they told me some of the stories.

    It’s not like Ben-Attur-Yavi of the Black Hills at all. It’s a whole lot more wicked.

    Lorra – he’s the oldest, but he treats me like I’m the same age ‘cause I’m a Jedi – he knows the most and he kept the other kids in line when they kept adding in stuff that wasn’t true but just stuff people make up to scare each other. Lorra knows the real facts because he hides outside the longhouse when the village elders are talking late at night and smoking hashka, which sounds like the piimo weed the Hutts like so much. And he says the chieftain and the other ones know all about the jabuur-weki ‘cause it’s their tradition.

    I learned what that is at the Temple. The Jedi have tradition too and it’s way important. Everybody studies it and talks about it and uses it to make rules and stuff. So the jabuur-weki is sort of like that, only bad.

    It has jaws that bite and claws that snatch, only it’s totally invisible.

    The Force is kinda like that, too. Some people don’t believe in the Force, and some people think it’s only an idea, sort of. But the other day when I was watching Master sparring with the other grown-ups, and Master Muln got thrown across the room, all the way into the wall whammo without anybody touching him, that was pretty choobazzi for something that’s only an idea. So that makes sense, sort of. Invisible stuff can really bite. ‘Cept Master Windu says the Force isn’t invisible, it’s all around us everywhere, so now I don’t know what to think. Maybe ‘cause you don’t see the jabuur-weki it’s not from the Force. Or maybe it’s Dark.

    That would explain why Master was so tense last night. He really, really doesn’t like the Dark side. He talks about it a lot, that’s for sure.

    Me and Lorra are going to go listen to the elders right now, ‘cause there’s like a whole group of them coming back into the village and maybe we can hide here under these bench things and find out more.

    Boshuda! Master Windu is with them! Uh oh… I hope he doesn’t notice.
  5. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    Sadly, Obi Wan's story is actually a separate fic. I'll try to post it here this weekend. This one was a sequel to that, by request over there at "the other" site. The original tale is titles Exodus - look for it soon-ish and thanks for reading!
    rb
  6. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    Ha ha. Love all the chapters.
  7. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
  8. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    17.

    Qui-Gon used always to say that a fresh day would bring fresh perspective. And he was not mistaken, per se; he simply chose to conveniently ignore the corollary proposition – a fresh day often brings fresh trouble, as well.

    Today is a fine case in point. Shortly after dawn we were afflicted with a plague of speeders, containing - in ascending order of vexatious prurience - the local sector medical examiner, an officious inspector from this district’s confederacy of beaurocratic dunces, a few dour-faced members of the planetary security forces, and a pestilent mob of holonet reporters.

    “Whoa-ho! Jedi!” one of the more daring wretches accosted us. “Are you fellers here to wreak sweet vengeance on the foul oppressor of these innocent folk? Can I bother ya for an interview?”

    “No,” Master Windu told him, flatly.

    “How ‘bout you, my lad? A word to the wise… or at least a smile for the ladies? Six billion viewers in this sector, just show the droid a bit of love there, right?”

    I am a patient man. But there are limits. “I don’t think so.” And I may have overdone it a trifle when I sent the cam-droid spinning off into the distance, but the gesture did serve as ample demonstration to the other clustering scavengers that this is a Jedi affair, not a three-ring circus replete with Sullustan fire-eater and a troupe of comedic mimes.

    At this point in the proceedings, Master Windu startled me with a hearty clap on the shoulder. “If I didn’t know better, son, I’d say you need a cup of caff this early in the morning.”

    “Forgive me, master.” A Jedi does not indulge in such unseemly displays of temper. “But why are they even here?”

    Even he had no ready answer for that question. “I don’t know… yet. I’ll accompany the chieftain and the important visitors to the longhouse; you had better contain the situation here.”

    A harsh penance, but a well-deserved one. “I’ll not let the contagion spread,” I promised.

    And off they sallied, leaving me here to fend off the ravening hordes single-handedly. Where in the blazes Anakin has got himself to, I don’t know – I can feel him faintly somewhere in the Feorian village, full of mischief and curiosity. I do hope there aren’t any scrap piles here in the middle of the Outer Golan tundra…. But I haven’t time for such idle speculation, because the amassed Holonet forces have suddenly opted for a full frontal assault.

    “Hey! Why can’t we go into the village? Have a look-see around?”

    “There is nothing to see.” I’ve not forgotten Master Yoda’s reprimand of only a few days ago – but it’s this or aggressive negotiations. And journalists are among the most decidedly weak-minded classes of people in the galaxy. It’s an occupational hazard, I suppose. Chakora Seva said that the mind assumes the form of that upon which it meditates; and surely those that spend their days producing insipid drivel for mass consumption are no exception to the rule.

    A few of them stop pressing forward so eagerly. But not all were swayed by my suggestion. “Then you can tell us what’s going on here! The people have a right to know!”

    “Nothing is going on here. There’s no breaking news.” A few more wander away, deactivating the hopeful cam-droids hovering like a swarm of tisska- gnats just overhead. “Move along, move along.”

    There seems always to be, in any given crowd, one obstreperous personality over whom mind influence holds no special power. “That’s …alarming,” this fellow says to me, when his colleagues have dispersed, idling back toward the speeder convoy in knots of two and three, mumbling among themselves.

    I fold hands into opposite sleeves, making sure that my cloak covers the lightsaber hilt at my side. There is no need to augment his feeling of unease; we come to serve, not to terrify the citizens of the Republic. “Few would find the dispassion of others a cause for alarm,” I reply, mildly. Nothing happened here. There’s nothing to remark upon. Move along.

    But he goes nowhere in a hurry. Instead, he inserts a chaw of some filthy low-grade bacci root into his mouth and smiles knowingly as he stands there chewing, much like a bantha ruminating upon its cud. “You here last night?” he inquires conversationally.

    “Perhaps.”

    “So you got to see this jabuur-weki thing?”

    Interesting. “The local legend holds it to be invisible,” I provide.

    He smiles some more, chomping diligently. “I know. I been studying these people and their customs for years. Like to think of myself as an amateur expert.” He jerks his head over one shoulder, in the direction of the retreating reporters. “Not like that sensationalist clown-act. I’m trying to delve into the real thing, ya know?” He spits upon the frozen soil, leaving a dark-stained smear of froth a scant meter from my left boot.

    Personal feelings and tastes are of no importance whatsoever. Exhale. “An admirable ambition.” And it is possible this amateur expert may know more of Feorian custom and legend than the Feorians themselves. I remember well that the original group Qui-Gon freed from slavery had scattered and inaccurate knowledge of their own roots. Some of that patrimony has been, so to speak, spoon fed back to them by men such as this - for better or for worse. In this case, the scholars bear a deadly burden of responsibility, a great deal more power than is healthy for one group of rational beings to wield over another… but I must keep my focus on the present moment, where it belongs.

    “So,” my new acquaintance proposes, baldly, “You gonna let me in there or what?”

    I bow. Halfway. A gift from the Force is still a gift and must be acknowledged. I did learn a few things, in the course of twelve years’ apprenticeship, and this is one of them. Every sentient is valuable and useful.

    Even the ones that expectorate reeking gobs of half-masticated bacci in public.

    In this, as in so many things, much depends on one’s point of view.
  9. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    I just love all your stories so much; I could happily spend all my time reading your stories in between hiking. If only I could earn a living doing that.
  10. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    Nice new post with all the twists and turns you create with your words
  11. Luna_Nightshade Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2006
    star 5
    I adore this story, and all the voices in it. All caught up. I think I'll echo Anakin here.... wizard!
  12. ZaraValinor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2002
    star 4
    This is possibly one of the best stories I've read. I love all the different point of views and that Mace isn't as unreachable as most people make him out to be.
  13. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    Glad you are all enjoying! A few more chapters to post this evening, and my apologies for being so sluggish...
  14. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    18.

    The Feorian chieftain and elders favor a long-handled hashka pipe as ceremonial seal upon the proceedings. The delicately crafted clay is passed hand to hand, the small bowl sending up a blue trail of grassy, sweet smoke which gathers among the slanted ceiling rafters and drifts out the central chimney opening. The planetary security officer and the Galactic Reservations inspector wrinkle their noses at the custom, producing murmurs of discontent among the gathered villagers. I, of course, accept out of diplomatic necessity. These men see only a mild narcotic. I see a sacred ritual signifying vital trust. There is not time to haggle over the niceties.

    Inhale but shallowly, release through the nostrils, and allow the Force to purge away any unwanted effects. I learned how long ago. It’s not a matter for concern.

    The chieftain nods in approval. I sense a pair of very young and astonished eyes resting upon me with a potent blend of shock and awe-struck admiration. I squint balefully into the dark recess beneath the bench across the way, but Skywalker does not emerge from his hiding place. There must be at least one other with him – likely a Feorian youth, eager to know what his elders make of this jabuur-weki phenomenon.

    I’ll deal with them later.

    “The victims appear to be in a catatonic state – almost complete cessation of cognitive and higher-level brain functions. I would surmise – based on initial scans – that they have sustained sudden and significant electro-magnetic radiation damage to the brain and central nervous system” The medical examiner from the next inhabited system provides this information with professional detachment. It is clear the Feorians understand not a word of it.

    The chieftain shakes his staff at him. “The jabuur-weki hath struck them down! Rebels and blasphemers, all of them… and this is their punishment. Taken, their souls have been, because impure they were. Full of dangerous and twisted thoughts, corruptions of the old ways.”

    The security officers are diligently recording every word on their data-pads. “So the victims shared a common, ah, political persuasion or religious view?”

    One of the oldest Feorians leans forward, pupils hugely dilated. “Eager to abandon their heritage, the young troublemakers are. Discontent with freedom. They no longer wish to be Feorian.”

    “If you will forgive my asking,” I interrupt, “How many of you truly remember the ancient Feorian customs yourselves? When you speak of tradition, are you not referring to a set of abstract ideas?”

    There is an unobtrusive lurker present at this convocation, a round-shouldered fellow with a sharp face and calculating eyes.. He coughs gently, drawing attention to himself where he hunches in a dark corner, looking a bit green about the gills. The smoke is thick by now.

    “Excuse me,” this person murmurs, in an oily undertone, “But years and years of painstaking research have gone into the reconstruction of the Feorian culture –“

    “Exactly.” I don’t enjoy sophistical byplay. “Perhaps the younger members of the tribe simply wish to be part of that reconstruction process.” This is a common enough problem, a textbook case study for a basic diplomacy course. The intelligentsia, the established authorities, and the upcoming youth movement are all represented here, accurately playing their roles. The only loose cannon is this jabuur-weki itself.

    My words cause a minor uproar, in which the scholar and the chieftain shout hoarsely at each other, while the off-planet inspector and the police look on nervously, glancing my way once or twice as though they expect a demonstration of lightsaber technique any second.

    Don’t count on it, my friends. This is a petty tempest, at best. In the chaos, I think I can hear the soft choking staccato of a suppressed cough. Serve the little rapscallion right. Eavesdropping is not acceptable behavior for a Padawan, any more than unauthorized scavenging in junk piles. He’ll just have to deal with the consequences.

    Eventually, a tenuous order is restored.

    “Accept the judgement of the jabuur-weki, we do,” the chieftain asserts, in his wheezing voice. “Your aid is not needed.” And in this dismissal he includes all present except his own people, and – I notice – myself. He waves an age-spotted hand, fussily. “Go, go, go. Our own affair, it is. A spectacle we are not.”

    The inspector from the Galactic Reserve Foundation finally pipes up. “But you have agreed to allow external observers and visitors, as one of the conditions of your land grant,” he protests, almost petulantly. “And this creature or phantom poses a serious impediment to tourism.”

    I wonder exactly how much the Foundation charges for educational tours of the village – or what percent of solicited donations it skims off the top? Corruption in this day and age is measured in degree, not in kind – any more exacting standard would pave a smooth path to cynical despair. I’ll have Jocasta Nu look into it later. Our beloved Temple archivist will find the question intriguing.

    The police still haven’t said a word, and one penetrating look at their head officer confirms my suspicion that they desperately hope I will take the investigation off their hands. I can’t blame them.

    “The Jedi Council’s involvement has not been officially requested,” I point out.

    “Your help, will we accept, lord Jedi,” the chieftain nods, his eyes gleaming dully in the low light.

    “Not lord. We come to serve.”

    He wags his head back and forth sagely, gaunt face swaying atop his scrawny elongated neck. “Yes,” he continues. “Stop these rebels and fools from endangering our people – this you must do. Do this, and placate the jabuur-weki. This be the business of the Feorians. Not thine.” He glares at the outsiders, encompassing them all in a single withering disdain.

    The scholar leaps to his feet. “Your tribe called the authorites in! You contacted the media! You can’t have it both ways!”

    “Summon thee we did not,” another elder chuffs.

    The medical examiner timidly clears his throat. “Ah… is it possible your rebellious youth were the ones to invite outside help?”

    And that- while obviously the truth - incites another near riot. The meeting devolves into a writhing haze of blue smoke and gesticulating limbs. The Force is choppy with the befuddled mutual resentment of two dozen or so half-stupefied sentients, but I doubt any of them can do each other any real harm in their present condition. Already a few of the elders and one of the security officers has taken a seat again, lapsing into sullen reticence.

    I rise, and stretch. The hashka leaves a stale odor in the air. Four quick strides bring me to the opposite row of benches, and a moment’s fishing with one hand lands me a rare catch. I haul Skywalker out by the scruff of his young neck.

    “Sorry sorry sorry,” the poor creature moans. He looks acutely ill, and I can sense that we need to make a quick exit.

    A dark shadow scrambling underfoot tells me that he was accompanied by an accomplice of about the same age. I drag the Padawan out the longhouse door and deposit him on the other side of the threshold, just as Kenobi comes sauntering back into the village boundaries.

    The fresh air seems to do the boy good. He’s prodigiously sick all over his own boots, and I decide that this is now his master’s problem.

    Rank has its privileges, after all.















  15. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    19.

    I want my mom.

    I really want her to come and take care of me. I feel real hoocha sick, all dizzy and twisty and messed up inside. If mom were here she would tell me why people do stupid bugsquat like smoke piima weed and hashka and other gross stuff, and she would remind me how she never used to let me go around the Hutt lounges in Mos Espa and she would rub my back and give me some honey-tea to drink and hug me until I felt better.

    Oh, poodoo. I’m gonna be sick again. The whole world smells like hashka now. “Master! Wait, master, I’m gonna –“

    But Obi-Wan never listens. I kinda spattered everywhere that time only its not my fault cause he’s just pulling me along by the hand and I can’t help it if my stomach really doesn’t like hashka and how come he didn’t tell me to stay outta there?

    “You didn’t say anything!” I shout at him. It feels kinda good to shout. It makes my head hurt less.

    “That can be remedied,” he says, with his voice all flat, but not flat in the funny way – more flat like a really sharp knife is flat where the blade is all thin. And now we’re inside the guest house and whoa! He’s stripping off my nasty wet clothes and chucking them in a corner.

    Obi-Wan never throws anything. Except other people, in the dojo- or if they’re bad people, then he can chuck stuff all over the place but that’s different.

    “Anakin.”

    I can’t really stand up so I fall down. Everything is spinning and my stomach is cramping and my head hurts a lot. Boshuda. I hate hashka. I think I’m gonna die and I didn’t even get to see all the planets or be a Jedi or anything..

    “I think you’re allergic to whatever they were smoking, but you’re not going to die. Hold on, Anakin, just a moment.”

    It’s super freezing cold and I’m shivering real bad and my head really really hurts. I want my mom. Now Master has his own cloak all wrapped around me and I’m in the lumpy Feorian bed with all the blankets and I think I smell a fire where Master might be making it. If mom were here she would kiss me and sing a song. And she wouldn’t be mad.

    Master’s mad. I can tell. Just like he was when I went into the Dumps and then the Council busted him instead of me. Maybe they’re going to bust him for hiding in the longhouse, too. Maybe that’s why he’s so mad.

    He’s real quiet and I think he’s gonna yell like Watto used to do all the time. Except he doesn’t yell. He just sits next to me and I squish open one eye and look at him to see if he’s gonna start yelling yet. And his eyes are really really frowning, all intense but actually he’s kinda biting his lower lip. He looks a little worried or confused, actually.

    “I want my mom,” I tell him.

    “You don’t need your mother, Anakin,” he says, all quiet. “You need the Force – if you reach for it, it can –“

    “Shut up!” It hurts to shout that loud but I need my mom not the stupid Force and not Master Obi-Wan and his stupid lectures and the stupid Temple kids laughing at me and the stupid Council punishing all the wrong people and the whole stupid galaxy that lets good people be slaves and not get freed!!!!! “That’s kriffing boshuda!! I want my mom!!”

    He stands up and lets his breath out all slow and even. I feel kinda woozy again. I don’t really want him to go away, ‘cause what if I’m sick again? What if the jabuur-weki’s gonna come for me and suck out my soul too and stuff? What if he leaves and never comes back and I’m stranded here with the Feorians forever like I’m still a slave?

    “Are you gonna maroon me on that asteroid now?” I ask him.

    Now his eyebrows go up, and for just a moment I think he might actually smile again. That would be nice. But he sort of shoves it down inside himself again. “No, my young friend, I’m afraid you are stuck with me for a very long time.”

    And the way he says that makes it sound like it might be fine with him, like he actually would blitz the jabuur-weki if it tried to come in here, cut it in half prob’ly with his lightsaber or throw it into a wall or something. That would be wizard and thinking about it makes my head hurt less. “Okay,” I say. “I care about you too.”

    He sort of opens his mouth and then shuts it without saying anything, but he also sits down again, and crosses his arms over his chest. It’s pretty cold in here and he gave me his cloak and all. “Eavesdropping is not appropriate,” he tells me. “And in this case dangerous.” Then he runs a hand over his face like he’s really tired.

    “I know. I know, master. Really. It was Lorra’s idea, though, ‘cause we wanted to know what the elders would say. Cause Lorra’s brother is the leader of the other guys – the young ones they were talking about, and he was afraid maybe the elders had found out about their secret cave and all and maybe you and Master Windu would shut it down or show the outsiders or something and that would be real bad. And also Lorra knows all about the jabuur-weki, more than the chieftain even ‘cause his brother’s a genius and him and his friends are the ones that it’s after and so they should know.”

    Master’s just staring at me. I think he forgot about being mad. He’ll remember later - he never really forgets anything except the stuff I think he forgets on purpose ‘cause it bugs him.

    “What?” he says. “Anakin – what are you talking about?”

    “I talked to all the village kids,” I explain. “And they told me all this stuff about the chief and Lorra’s brother and the cave and the jabuur-weki and all. I was gonna tell you, only we decided to hide in the longhouse first and then everybody started smoking on that pipe and then I got kinda sick. But I know all about it from them and also I know some of the jabuur-weki song, the one that the Feorians made up a long time ago. The jabuur-weki comes from their homeworld, actually. I guess it followed them around all this time.. Is that possible, do you think? When you and Master Qui-Gon rescued them the first time, do you think there was a jabuur-weki creeping around secretly or something?”

    Master sort of stares at the wall now, like he might burn a hole in it with his eyes. And he rubs at his chin sort of like this, like he has a beard. He kinda does – there’s little tiny hairs there now cause we didn’t really have time to wash up or anything this morning.

    “From a certain point of view, perhaps,” he decides. “Tell me more.”

    So I do.
  16. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    20.

    As a child, I learned an aphorism or a mantra for every situation, every possible turn of fate’s wheel. The Jedi tradition is millenia old, and like a broad and stately river, that tradition has deposited a rich sediment of collective wisdom along its meandering banks. All we who grew into first maturity within the sheltering confines of the Temple are carried along in those same currents, swept up against those same shores as our forebears, re-learning their same lessons, often repeating their very words, albeit in a chorus of lisping and innocent voices. It is a boundless estate, bequeathed without attachment to numberless heirs. But here, it would seem, that river has not yet carved its channel.

    Anakin Skywalker is something novel, an unprecedented event. Even Quinlan Vos – Force preserve us – is staid and ordinary by comparison to this upstart miracle from the Outer Rim, this unparalleled genius, this imbalance who will bring balance. There has never been anything like him. There may never be again. The tradition has not yet encompassed his like; and there are days when I begin to think that history’s floodwaters may rise at his beck and call, cover all the land in a deluge and obliterate all that has come before. He is unique.

    And so, where he is concerned, I have no timeless adage to quote.

    Not that I couldn’t provide a few pointed extemporaneous remarks on the subject, myself. But that would hardly qualify as serene Jedi insight, now would it?

    “Lord Jedi! Lord Jedi!”

    Oh dear. This particular misnomer is growing tiresome, almost as tiresome as the perpetual race to outstrip my Padawans’ foolishness. But I am intrigued – for she is the first Feorian woman I have seen since we arrived. And she is waving me into the warmth of her lowly dwelling, both scrawny arms extended in the universal gesture of welcome.

    And the Force, however disturbed, is chiming in silent accord. So I turn, and approach the Feorian matron, and dip my head as we pass beneath the low-set lintel of her squat doorway.

    Inside, the mud-packed walls have captured the warmth of the central oven – little more than an enclosed fire pit built of stone and brick. The low roof seems to brood over us like a mother bird over its eggs, an almost smothering proximity. And there are more than a dozen of the village’s older females gathered here, cooking implements and the tools of some odd fiber-craft I do not recognize clasped between their knobby fingers, pieces of half-finished cloth draped over knees here and there, the scent of baking grain thick in the close air. They are every one of them staring at me with open admiration.

    A deep bow covers my confusion. I hope.

    “Tis he! Tis the same!” my hostess informs the beaming crowd. “’Tis the young Jedi lord, from Marshak’s vile fortress! He who saved us with the other! He is come to visit us again, you see?”

    Oh. Oh. Well. I can’t really deny being myself, can I? “Yes. It is a great honor to be welcomed by you again,” I reply. There are standard responses for this sort of thing – diplomatic protocol and precedent amply cover such entanglements. “We come to serve.”

    A few of the others have drawn near, and more than one pair of arthritic hands is fiddling with my cloak hems.

    “I remember thee!” one of the crones smiles, her face rumpling into a wealth of fine, papery lines. “Thy name, too! Pada-Wan.”

    Close enough, I suppose. I don’t waste energy making burdensome corrections.

    “Where is the other Jedi? The tall one? How we loved him!”

    “He is …one with the Force.” I cannot bring myself to say more, not in the face of such enthusiasm, the spectacle of such a rare joy.

    “You see! The other lord Jedi speaks with the Force itself, in council like an elder. He is a noble one. Thou must love him as we do, so much!”

    It is uncommonly hot beneath the low rafters, is it not? Uncomfortably so.

    The original Feorian is now bustling forward, pushing aside some of her less timid sisters. In her arms she bears a long swath of decorated cloth, a textured stretch of fibers, twisted and knotted and interwoven in a complex pattern. I know from a cursory study of Feorian culture that this is a traditional art-form, a semi-sacred artifact. She proffers it to me, both thin arms outstretched in solemn ritual.

    “For he – Qui-Jinn. Thou will give it to him, from us, yes? Five years have we woven it, and the story of our gratitude is knotted in to each row. This is the ancient way…. but also,” and here she leans closer, conspiratorial, “New craft we have put into it. For our new life. A different life now, one that Qui-Jinn earned for us.”

    The cloth is much heavier than I would have guessed, but soft as down. Its thickly corded surface drapes over my hands, the twined fibers painstakingly bound, each by hand, a soft learner’s plait. Much hard work has gone into the weaving. I should know.

    “Thou will take it to him for us?”

    Jedi do not accept gifts. I am honored by your generosity, but our Code forbids the acceptance of such gifts. To have served is sufficient reward for us; there is no need for such gifts and honors. I –

    But the words stick in my throat. They gaze, expectant. And I know full well that Qui-Gon Jinn would have graciously, and without hesitation, accepted this communal work of their hearts and hands. And I would have then upbraided him for his violation of the precepts. And he would have then have commanded that the gorgeous blanket – for that is what it is – pass into my ownership, and use, upon pain of his severe displeasure. And I would have objected stridently to the object lesson. And he would have smiled in that calm, infuriating way of his, and informed me that I still had much to learn.

    I do not deny it.

    “I cannot take this gift to him; he is with the Force,” I repeat. Deep centering breath. “Dead.”

    They brush this aside. “Then thou will take it for him and keep it until thou see him again. For great friends thou were with him, yes?”

    The air in the very small house is suffocating. There are far too many bodies jammed into such a close space. “I… “ -For stars’ sake, Kenobi, get a grip - “ …We are both honored by your gift, and by the friendship of the Feorian people.”

    They nod and mutter and beam upon me, well satisfied. The bestower of this incomparable treasure pats my elbow soothingly. “Sent a nursemaid to thy boy, we did. Better will she know how to soothe a child than thee, Pada-Wan.”

    Good. I hope she is a purveyor of nasty-tasting medicines. “Thank you,” I say, working my way toward the exit, slipping backward as the throng presses forward, bowing upon the threshold. The chill air behind me sets my spine thrilling. It is freezing out on the tundra. It feels … good. Present. Attention riveting.

    I make my escape, still holding the Feorian women’s gift, a loving encomium upon my former master’s virtues, wrought by some of his favorite pathetic life forms.

    And it occurs to me, as I stride back toward the guest-hut, the frigid air burning harshly in my nose and throat, that I never once gave him anything of such value.

    Except perhaps his dying wish.

    It is blasted cold out here in the waste.
  17. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    21.

    The fruitless deliberations in the Feorian longhouse continued until nearly noon-hour, at which time the amassed forces of the media and the local bureaucracy beat a hasty, if disappointed, retreat. The Feorian elders and their chieftain have now dispersed into the village to partake of the communal midday meal. I politely declined the invitation to join them. I have to admit that I don’t quite have the stomach for it, after four hours’ confinement in their smoke filled meeting house.

    The freezing temperature outdoors is a welcome refreshment, however. A vigorous walk about the perimeter should serve to clear my head, dispelling any small lingering effects of the Feorians’ pipeweed, and purging away some of the irritation inevitably associated with such an unproductive and quarrelsome convocation. Old Yoda is not here to take a whack at my shins, so I’ll say what I would not dare so much as think privately in Council: there are times when diplomacy is for droids.

    And here, emerging from the guest house where we sheltered last night, is Kenobi. He alters course when he spots me, and heads in my direction at a brisk clip. He’s cloakless, I notice. Probably cast aside his robe and forgot to retrieve it afterwards, an ingrained habit he should long ago have outgrown. I forbear from making any comment. Let the icy air play the mentor’s role for me. The Force teaches its own lessons, more often than not.

    “I take it your Padawan will recover?” I inquire when he draws nigh.

    “He’ll live,” Kenobi affirms with a wry twist of the mouth. His gaze drops to the frost-strewn rock between our boots. “I apologize for his breach of conduct, master. Clearly, I have not –“

    “Obi-Wan.”

    He glances up, startled by the familiarity.

    “I’m here on leave,” I point out. “Let’s not mar the perfection of the trip by inserting another unpleasant Council session into its midst.”

    For a long moment, blue eyes study my face with a guarded intensity, as though suspicious the humor might be some kind of trap, the sort of thing Yoda might employ to catch a student off guard.

    Frankly, that’s not my style.

    “So…” he cautiously responds, exhaling a small opaque white cloud, “We should find another means of settling the disciplinary issue?”

    I shrug. “If that’s how you insist upon framing it.” There is a small patch of level ground not far from here, the perfect place. I nod meaningfully in its general direction. “Besides, it might help warm your blood.”

    He bows, a graceful concession to my superior rank; but when his eyes meet mine again the careful, self-deprecating softness has fled, to be replaced by a spark of combative mischief. Kenobi loves saber-play like a drunk loves his drink. He’s completely powerless to resist any invitation to spar.

    I chuckle. He must have kept old Qui-Gon light on his feet, that much is certain.

    I toss my own cloak over a jutting corner of glacial rock as we cross over to our chosen arena. Fierfek! It’s cold out here. I rub a hand over my smooth pate, perhaps a trifle ruefully. But it’s no matter. I have a sparring match to win, and something tells me it won’t be a disappointing one. I unclip my saber and smile at the way the violet blade growls low, a shimmering corona of mist forming along the edges where the plasma evaporates ambient moisture. Kenobi’s saber thrums an octave higher, as he sweeps it round in an ostentatious triple salute and ends high, in the Soresu aggressive opening stance. Oh yes – I’ve made a wise choice of traveling partners. If only there weren’t trouble brewing here on Outer Gola, we two could spend a good deal of our time here in such sober and studious pursuits.

    “Very well,” I instruct. “Let’s see how that Soresu variant of yours measures up to Vapaad.”

    If I expected some kind of humble brush aside, I was mistaken. This man is a different being once the gauntlet has been thrown down. I might have to rethink my plans to send him to the Chandrilan Unity Convention. The matriarchs there are staunch pacifists who abhor all manifestations of violence - and as Kenobi launches into his first blistering offensive, I have to admit that although Jedi do not love violence per se, my young friend here is clearly willing to make a pointed exception on behalf of certain forms of it.

    For Force’s sake, did he almost land a strike on my sword arm?
    Something will have to be done about that.

    Vapaad is something I have spent decades perfecting. It is more than art. It is meditation, and vital discipline. I do not share it with many, even in play, for it is a dangerous flirtation with the edge of darkness, and I have sworn to always respect this fact. Every one of us, I learned long ago, and in great anguish, carries a seed of darkness within. There is no expunging it utterly. There is no escaping it. And there is no denying it, without bitter consequence. Mine I have faced, and this is its taming. Vapaad is the subjection of the Dark, its chaining and servitude, its defeat and bondage. Vapaad is Darkness turned outward against itself, brought to its knees and transformed to the wrath of Light.

    Some of the other masters of the Order do not like it. I know this. Yan Dooku holds it in contempt, and he is a peerless swordsman.

    They are entitled to their own wisdom..

    I am entitled to mine.

    Now, as I unleash it against Kenobi, I have a chance to observe the first beginnings of his own unique style, his own saber-meditation. He’ll never admit that there is such a thing, but that is not pure Soresu. I see Ataru holdovers, and a bit of seemingly extraneous showmanship. I might be tempted to criticize him for such a waste of energy – but I’ll admit that his first near-hit was a result of my own distraction. That flashy, adder-fast flourish, that unnecessary reverse-grip… it’s all an elaborate deception, a lightning storm of illusion and irony, a veil over his true intentions. The actual strike came fast, and clean, almost before I anticipated it. Clever. Beautiful.

    If I had to describe his style, I would say it is Soresu evolving into an expression of the individual. Soresu with an attitude. Defense with deadly intent. The eye of the storm, indeed – an eye glinting with defiance, a laughing taunt in the face of darkness.

    I almost laugh myself.

    Then I win, and decisively. After all, I have thirty years’ superior experience on my side. And Kenobi is not quite a match for Vapaad.

    At least, not yet. And I would not say that of many.

    My blade snaps back into its hilt, and I offer my vanquished opponent a hand up, summoning his fallen saber into my hand at the same time. I return it with a bow. That was an excellent match, a true pleasure.

    Kenobi dusts himself off with a small, ironic grin, the ferocious, wicked delectation muted now, smoothed back into proper Jedi calm, as though the battle never occurred. “Lesson learned, “ he says, returning the courtesy.

    “Now you can pass the lesson on to your own Padawan,” I advise. “It’s good to have a few such tricks up your sleeve at any time.”

    We head back to the village at a measured pace. The air does not seem so frigid. The frost crunches under our boots in even rhythm. “Speaking of Anakin,” he begins, squinting in the glare beneath the featureless grey sky, “He has done some investigating of his own. Besides the longhouse debacle.”

    “Oh?” So the imp has weaseled his way into a useful alliance… perhaps with that young Feorian scamp I found hiding with him. “And..?”

    “Well,” Kenobi informs me. “I think we should allow him to… continue.”

    And he fills me in on the details as we make our way back to the village, and our waiting hosts.
  18. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    22.

    Whoa. This is intense.

    I feel a lot better now that Ruru - that’s the nice Feorian woman who reminds me kinda of ol’ Jira in the marketplace in Mos Espa – now that she gave me some of her remedy and sang the jabuur weki song for me a few times.

    It used to live in a forest place all full of mome raths and other stuff, birds and bander-somethings, so I don’t think it’s very happy about being here in Outer Gola where it’s all frozen. Maybe that’s why it’s so mad and all.

    Speaking of which, Master’s in a funny mood now. He told me it was a prudent idea to meet Lorra’s brother and see more about the cave and stuff. Like he wasn’t mad anymore. And the Feorians gave him this chubazzi blanket thing, that they made specially for Master Qui-Gon because he freed them. ‘Cept Obi-Wan will prob’ly just give it to the Archives. That’s what happens every time we end up with something really good. ‘Cause of “no possessions” and stuff. I wish I coulda given Master Qui-Gon something, too, to tell him thank you. I shoulda made him a japor snippet like the one I carved for Padme, only I didn’t think Jedi needed luck. I guess I was wrong.

    When Master Qui-Gon came to Tatooine it was like a dream I had was suddenly coming true, like the whole thing was too good to even be real. And when he died it felt like waking up, like it wasn’t gonna come true after all. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me then. But Master promised that he would teach me. Obi-Wan isn’t exactly a dream come true - no offense. He’s more like real life, the way it surprises you, like you would never have thought of that happening but it does anyway. And it’s sorta better than what you dreamed. Maybe.

    Anyway, Lorra and me went to his house after supper, which I no way was gonna eat except for maybe just a little bit of bread, and I got to meet his brother. Yonso is really, really tall and skinny and kinda clumsy the way he moves, sorta like JarJar used to be. Only I think Yonso might be a whole lot smarter than JarJar - no offense. I just mean, Yonso’s wicked smart, the way he says stuff and the other Feorians really look up to him. All the young, smart ones I mean.

    I’m gonna be like him when I grow up.

    Him and his friends and Lorra and me had a secret meeting, in the house when nobody else was there. And Lorra said that I was a Jedi Knight. So then they were all kinda impressed and let me stay for the meeting. And I guess Lorra got to stay too ‘cause now he’s like my Padawan.

    I really like the Feorians.

    They get it. They say that what’s the point of being free if you don’t have a choice? Some of them don’t want to live on Gola anymore, not with the other Feorians. Yonso wants to go to universe-city, which sounds like a school or something, like maybe the pilot academy over by Anchorhead only bigger and stuff. Sorta like the Temple except with less rules and you don’t call the teachers master. Yonso says that he calls no man master.

    I like him a lot, too.

    But some of the other guys, the old geezer ones I mean, don’t like him so much. They think he’s going to corrupt the youth. That’s like what Master Obi-Wan said about Garen Muln, that he’s a malign influence ‘cause he told me all those funny stories. I’m kinda glad I didn’t mention all the ones he told me. Some of them were pretty wizard, especially the one where Master tried to do a mind trick on Madame Nu and got in hoocha big trouble for it. I guess Master Yoda actually made him cry, that’s what Master Muln said, but it’s hard to believe.

    Yonso wouldn’t have cared what Master Yoda thought or anything. He’s tough. He’s like that spacer that used to come into Watto’s shop, the one that told me about the angels on Iego and all. Watto used get nervous about selling him parts that we scavenged without permission and all, ‘cause of the intersystem security patrols and stuff, but that guy always said he didn’t give a flaming kriff about no damn regulations.

    He had a blaster, not a lightsaber, but he was rugged.

    So then Yonso and his friends took us to their secret cave and here we are now. It’s totally intense. There’s this place in the ground where a giant rock is all stuck like it fell outta space here, and it looks like it’s just jammed into the ground, but underneath way deep in the shadow there’s this opening and you can crawl in there.

    And guess what? This whole place is full of crystals. Master says there’s a special planet with crystal caves and all and we have to go there when I make my first lightsaber. I wonder if this is kinda the same. The Force feels really weird down here and I think maybe I shoulda brought Master with me, if I could get Yonso and these guys to like him. They’re pretty suspicious about Master Windu ‘cause he was hanging out with the chieftain and he’s old and all. But Master’s about the same age as Yonso, really, and he’s really smart too, even though he’s sorta the opposite, always going on about tradition and stuff.

    I don’t know.

    Lorra’s tugging on my clothes, the new Feorian ones they gave me that itch. “What?”

    “This is the jabuur-weki’s lair,” he whispers, with his eyes all bugging out. “They come here all the time! We should go back.”

    You go back,” I tell him. I’m a Jedi, and Jedi are never scared. I want to see what’s so important down here.

    So I drag Lorra along with me and follow the Feorian guys deeper and deeper into the cave. Hopefully the jabuur-weki isn’t here right now.

    So then we have to squeeze through this other opening and there’s another cave, really super bigger and there’s even more crystals down here. And the Feorians have some rickety scaffolds set up, and some tools and stuff. I think they’re mining. Maybe these crystals are worth something, like buried treasure. That would be wizard, ‘cause money can solve a whole lotta problems. When I won the podrace, I got a bunch of money. Enough to help mom a whole lot even if Watto wouldn’t let her buy her own freedom. What a pizzhmah. So I guess being rich doesn’t really solve all the galaxy’s problems. That’s what lightsabers are for, I guess.

    “Promise!” Yonso says, all loud. “Swear that thou will tell none of this.”

    Whoa. He’s pretty serious. “What about my master?” I mean, I also promised that I would never lie to him or anything. And he promised the same thing to me.

    He makes this rude snorting sound in his throat. “Thou art a Jedi, and yet you are not free? We call no man master.”

    My stomach feels kinda twisty again, like I might be sick. Yonso is staring at me really hard, waiting for my answer, like all the Councilors did in the Temple that first night, when they made me take all their tests. I think Yonso’s testing me now. Master would say that I should not compromise my honor. But sometimes Obi-Wan says things that are true but only depending how you look at it. So… maybe I could do the same? ‘Cause that’s okay for a Jedi. It’s not really lying.

    “I promise I won’t tell him anything about this place,” I say. That’s pretty good. I think Master would be proud. See?

    “Good,” Yonso says. “Those who broke this oath have all perished. The jabuur-weki has taken their souls for betraying its secret. Now come.”

    So then we go even deeper, but all I can think about is his words and my stomach is really jiggery all of a sudden. Even though I’m a Jedi.
  19. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    23.

    “What do you mean, you can’t say anything?”

    Force help me, but Anakin must be the single most challenging Jedi Padawan ever to join the ranks of the Order. He eagerly accepted the commission to broaden his acquaintance with the young Feorians, clearly in a spirit to make amends for his most recent transgression – and yet now, upon his triumphant return from his first solo reconnaissance assignment, he flat out refuses to make a report.

    “I’m sorry, master – really. Only I promised.”

    Oh, dear. Promises are a dangerous thing, young one. Be careful not to make them lightly. “You promised not to tell me what you saw?”

    He nods, looking distinctly nervous. His mouth twists to one side, and his snub nose scrunches upward in a peculiar mannerism all his own. “Um… sorta. I told Yonso I wouldn’t tell you a word, actually. ‘Cause he wasn’t going to let me come any further unless I swore and stuff. And a Jedi keeps his word.”

    Well, then. “A Jedi does keep his word,” I agree, reluctantly. “Which is why he does not give it without due consideration. Your duty is to the mission – in this case, to find out what you could and to inform me, or Master Windu.”

    “I know,” he replies, squirming in place a little. “So I kinda tried to do it both ways, like you do sometimes. You know, when you make people think something but it depends on your point of view really.”

    Why do I suddenly feel so uneasy? Example teaches what words cannot. I choose not to dwell on the obvious implications of his statement. “What do you mean?”

    “Well….” My Padawan informs me, hesitantly. “I swore that I wouldn’t tell you anything. So… maybe… I could show you instead?”

    “I don’t think it would be wise to return to wherever you’ve been so soon,” I answer. The boy is inexperienced, and given to brash action. If the youthful insurgency has a secret, it is unlikely to be left without a guard or sentinel of some kind. I can sense the suspicion in this community, like a thick humidity in the air.

    “No,” Anakin pouts. “I mean, the other way. Like that game we played before. You know, where we practiced showing memories and stuff.”

    The visualization exercise? Yes, I suppose that might work. Technically, it doesn’t involve telling anything – sharing experiences through a Force bond is more in the nature of immediate perception than conscious communication. But – “I was the one projecting. Do you think you can do the same? We never practiced –“

    “I can do it,” he pipes up, as though I have suggested that he might not be able to walk a straight line or balance on one foot. “I didn’t know why you made such a big deal about it the first time.”

    Oh, really? Might it be that it took me almost five years of intense practice with Qui-Gon to master the art? But I know better than to question him when he speaks with such brassy confidence. More than once, Anakin Skywalker has proved my dubiety unfounded, when it applies to his abilities. As I said, he is unique.

    “Very well. Show me, then, my casuistical and equivocating young Padawan.”

    A blank stare.

    “Just show me.” I spread my palms outward, and he shrugs, pressing his own much smaller hands against them. His fingers only reach halfway to the tips of mine, in a subtle irony; for surely it is I who feels dwarfed by his talent and potential? The Force can be cruel, if one is foolish enough to ponder its every nuance. Sometimes it is better to laugh graciously at the joke played upon oneself.

    He closes his eyes and frowns, concentrating. The Force surges at his command, an invisible vortex tugging at my mind. Anakin has power, but little control, and I perceive too late the pitfall of this arrangement. But I do need to see what he has discovered, and so – against my better judgement – I lower my mental shields,making myself passive to the shaping suggestion of his memories.

    A glacial rock, thrusting askew from the icy plains; a tunnel burrowing deep beneath it, into a natural crevass and cave system; glittering crystals – dactyl –like, familiar somehow; another passage, then another; mining equipment and primitive lights, tools; yet another opening, a dark and suffocating tunnel; and ultimately, a vast domed chamber, awash in subterranean pools, every glimmering surface reflecting the ithyll crystals, rank upon rank of them, a motherlode that must rival even the mones of the Bogden Abyss, an incalculable fortune. The Feorian youth, their leader, his firebrand’s speeches and his devotees’ hot affirmation of the same. And all around, within the caves, deep and ominous, the Force is disturbed. I am sick with it, like it might squeeze the very breath out of my body, flood me with clotted fear…

    I recoil, on instinct, because that was the Dark Side. Anakin cries out in pain, clutching his temples.

    My own head must surely be splitting. That was unwise. I reach for his arm, apologetically. “Anakin. I’m sorry – forgive me. I should not have broken the connection so abruptly.”

    The poor creature is white. I ignore the tears welling in his eyes, and he swipes an arm across his face hastily, eradicating any trace of weakness.

    “That was my fault,” I reassure him. “I – I did not expect the caves to feel that way.”

    “’S okay,” he mutters. “It was pretty intense down there. It made me feel kinda woozy. Sort of like flying really fast – scared and excited all at once.”

    It did? Force, my head hurts. Should I be concerned that he finds the Dark intoxicating and terrifying at once? But why is that problematic? Is that not its very nature? I swallow, steadying my breath. “Anakin,” I say, carefully. “Do you know what those crystals were? Do you understand the possible ramifications of this… secret trove?”

    He shakes his head. “Well… it’s good, right?” When I don’t answer, he squints in confusion. “It’s bad?” He asks. Then, “It’s gonna make a lot of trouble, either way?”

    You might say that again. And the jabuur-weki remains…. elusive.

    “I need to speak with Master Windu,” I tell him, as gently as possible.

    He still explodes. “You can’t!! He’s on the cheiftain’s side!”

    He has much to learn. “As Jedi, we are not on anyone’s side,” I remind him, sternly. “We are here to promote peace. And we must decide what is to be done.”

    “What about the jabuur-weki?” he insists. “That cave is its lair. Yonso and Lorra both said so. It might get mad and kill more people if you do anything.”

    It might indeed – and it might indulge in another murderous spree even if we do nothing.

    But in either case, one thing remains a constant in my mind.

    I have a very bad feeling about this.











  20. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    24.

    Anakin Skywalker has many yet-undiscovered talents. Here is one the Council has not yet observed: he is a talented ooz-ball player, even without any obvious use of the Force.

    Look at him now – he’s right at home amongst the grubby children of the galaxy’s most pathetic life forms, running and leaping amid his rambunctious Feorian playmates as they rough-house their way across the squalid village courtyard. He’s even clad in the same garments as they are – comfortable in rough-woven tatters and rags, as though these suit him better than traditional Jedi robes. His companions kick the stuffed animal skin with a certain unbridled savagery never seen in the Temple playrooms, even in the heat of a pitched scramball competition. Jedi younglings simply do not … shriek in such a manner. But then, none of our younglings have seen true deprivation. Not like these children can remember, or experience still. Suffering can infuse play with an unwonted intensity, a desperate and defiant edge.

    I watch the ooz-ball sail high, propelled by a fierce kick. It arcs gracefully down, in the direction of a doddering Feorian elder on the courtyard’s outskirts. I turn the projectile out of its disastrous trajectory with a gentle nudge of the Force, and it misses the poor fellow’s head by a half meter, thudding onto the frozen soil behind him. He shuffles onward, equally oblivious both to the near-catastrophe, and to the unruly mob of contestants that surges forward to retrieve their plaything.

    “I gave him permission to participate in their sport,” Kenobi explains, from behind me. Am I mistaken, or does his voice convey a certain defensive tension, as well?

    I turn. Does he really suppose me as dour as all that? “I presumed you warned him that an ostentatious display of his gifts might not endear him to the others?”

    The taut set of his shoulders slackens, a bit. “I don’t need to. He’s well accustomed to keeping his Force abilities muted. On Tatooine, I think he blended in quite well with the other… under-privileged younglings. I’m afraid he’s more at ease with these children than his peers at the Temple.”

    I nod, drawing back a pace into the warmth of our shelter. “You’ve been thinking about his early life.”

    “Somewhat.”

    I’ve waited for this opportunity patiently, and I am not about to let it go to waste. “What insight have you gained?” I ask, cautious not to seem inquisitorial. Nevertheless, I can see by his wary expression that the question is too vague, too much like a test, so I add, “Your Padawan is an exception, even within the Order. Is there some insight you have that might help the Council better judge his actions – or perhaps your own?”

    Wariness is instantly replaced by alarm, and then smoothed into a determined calm. “Well,” Kenobi hedges for a moment. “I think… perhaps… that during his years as a slave, Anakin came to look upon his inborn connection to the Force as a means of thwarting oppression, of circumventing rules and restrictions. He sees it as an inalienable freedom.” He pauses, gauging my reaction.

    “Which it is,” I answer, steadily.

    His mouth twists wryly. “From a certain point of view. But ever since he arrived at the Temple, I – and all his other instructors and even his peers- have been telling him that such a gift is necessarily bound to rules and limits; that his inborn ability is an obligation to serve rather than an absolution from all servitude.”

    I see, better than my young friend might suspect. But I let him struggle onward, clarifying the situation for both of us at once.

    “He finds it difficult to reconcile the two viewpoints, master.” Kenobi scowls out across the frozen square, watching the ooz-ball match unfold.

    “And you find it difficult to explain the matter to him?” I guess.

    “Yes,” he ruefully admits. “Though I’m hoarse with trying.”

    I can’t suppress my amusement. I’m sure he has put his utmost into expounding the seeming paradox; and by his utmost I mean an impressive display of eloquence. Kenobi is an accomplished orator.

    “Some things come only with maturity, Obi-Wan,” I assure him, laying my hand on his shoulder. “You might do better to save the philosophy lesson until your Padawan is a bit older.”

    Now his brows pull together expressively. “Qui-Gon talked to me all the time.”

    I nearly laugh aloud. “You talked to Qui-Gon all the time, and he had the good sense to answer. But you are a thinker. Skywalker… I’d say he’s more of a doer. A good mentor shapes his teaching to fit the learner. In his case, concrete example might go further than a lecture.”

    “Oh….. yes.” A small, embarrassed pause. “Thank you, master.”

    “My pleasure,” I respond. “And I’ll keep in mind what you’ve told me, next time the Council has to haul the pair of you up for reprimand. Your situation calls for certain.. nuances of judgment.”

    He finally meets my gaze with an open expression. There might even be a flicker of long-buried hope in his eyes, the return of a spark I haven’t seen since Qui-Gon’s death. “In our case, concrete example might go further than a lecture?” he offers, dead-pan.

    I keep a sabaac face. “We’ll see about that.”

    Outside, the ooz-ball competition devolves into a three-way scuffle, some common play-yard dispute with the usual complement of shouted insults and fisticuffs. Skywalker seems to be in the thick of it. Kenobi hesitates, taking a step toward the threshold and then stopping as though he has re-considered his plan to intervene. Eventually the Skywalker boy pummels one or two hotheads to the ground and barks some curt orders at the remaining players, who subside into sullen compliance and reform themselves into squads for the next round.

    “His peace-keeping style is certainly straightforward,” I observe, casually.

    “We have been working on diplomacy, master, and –“

    “I didn’t say that was a bad thing.” I favor the direct approach myself.

    “Ah.” My young companion imbues that single syllable with a world of textured meanings.

    I don’t need his irony. “Let’s discuss this cave your apprentice discovered,” I suggest. The shelter’s primitive door shuts out some of the cold seeping in from outside, as well as the unbridled shrieks and cheers from the rowdy ball game.

    “Yes, master.” Kenobi levitates a thin palette off the room’s rickety furniture onto the floor, and settles himself cross-legged upon it. “It seems to be a locus of Dark energy.”

    “And incalculable wealth,” I concur, sitting opposite. Some might say there is little ultimate difference, and they would not be wrong – from a certain point of view. But the Dark power that emanates form that cave is no mere metaphor; my flesh has been crawling with it since we first set foot here on Outer Gola.

    “Master, do you suppose this jabuur-weki might be… well, a means of coercion?”

    The thought had occurred to me. The chieftain claims the monster comes for those who blaspheme the old ways and question the authority of their elders, while Yonso claims that it punishes those who would reveal his own cherished secrets. Convenient, either way. “It’s possible, “ I reply. Although the stricken Feorians – the purported victims of the jabuur-weki – are in a strange and inexplicable condition if they were attacked merely by their fellows. “But in that case, somebody here has an unusual weapon.”

    Silence expands between us, the Force rippling delicately with the echoes of an answer. We both still ourselves within its currents, seeking passively for that subtle tremor, that elusive thread of truth… but it fades, wraith-like, beneath our shared scrutiny. I exhale slowly.

    “We need to go into that cave and see for ourselves,” I decide.

    Kenobi’s mouth thins. “Yonso will not be pleased. He trusts my Padawan not to betray his secret; and that trust may be worth preserving for a while longer, at least.”

    True enough. “Then we must arrange a distraction. Something to keep the young Feorians occupied while we investigate.”

    A line appears between Kenobi’s brows, but he nods in assent. “I’ll put Anakin onto it. Mayhem is his specialty.”









  21. Valairy Scot Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Sep 16, 2005
    star 5
    [face_laugh]

    You have more than any author in any fic - pro or fan - SHOWN how daunting a talent Anakin is, and by extension, how daunting it is to be his master. Well done. ^:)^
  22. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    Anakin is daunting indeed, and for some reaosn that makes it all the more fun to present him here in his immature glory. And here he is again....
  23. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    25.

    I think maybe Master Obi-Wan and me might be getting to be friends, like I hoped.

    I mean, he just gave me a super important job. I have to make a distraction later tonight. A distraction is a good thing when it helps us with a mission, but it’s a bad thing when it happens to me in the middle of when I’m s’posed to be meditating. That’s kinda confusing, but when I asked Master about it he just said it was a coincidentia oppositorum, with his eyebrows just going up a little bit like he was daring me to keep asking. So I didn’t. I think he says silly bantha poodoo like that on purpose to tease me, sometimes. That’s how he says he cares, ‘cause Jedi aren’t allowed to hug and all. And when I told him I wasn’t sure whether I could do a real good distraction, he said all I had to do was act natural, and that he has implicit faith in my capacity to wreak havoc.

    See? He’s starting to trust me, a lot. I feel like a real Jedi Padawan now.

    But I’m not allowed to start the distraction until later. The holonet guys and some other important people from Gola Prime showed up again this afternoon and now the Feorians are putting on a big ‘ol tribal gathering. It’s sorta like when Gardulla the Hutt invited fancy guests to her palace and all the slaves had to put on entertainment for them, like a show or something. I don’t really remember much about that but Mom told me stories about it. She said we should be grateful that Watto never put us on exhibit like that. I guess the Feorians still have to make a good show even though they’re free now. Yonso thinks it’s a whole lot of boshuda – I can tell by the way his face is all scrunched up over there in the corner during the dancing and music and ceremonies and stuff.

    I guess he doesn’t like his people to be on display like a museum or something. Not when he’s free and he wants to go to universe-city and all. It prob’ly makes him feel twisty inside, like when Master tells me about the Code and all the stuff it says we can’t do.

    I mean, what’s the point of being free if everything is all forbidden?

    Master and me had a long talk about that the other day, but it kinda made me dizzy, cause he sure had a lot of stuff to say about it. He’s sitting over there next to Master Windu now, all quiet and serious looking – but he got kinda worked up when we were discussing it. I think it’s sorta funny when Master Obi-Wan forgets to be all calm and Jedi-ish. His eyes go all fiery and his voice actually kinda does this soft growly thing and if I’m trying really, really hard I can make him say blast it, or maybe even for the love of the Force. Those are like his swear words, that he only busts out mostly when we’re flying. Master really hates flying.

    Anyway, he says that the forbidden things are actually the ones that lead to enslavement – that means not being free really on the inside. Like attachment is supposed to do. And passion and stuff. And greed, and some other stuff, too. There’s actually a whole lot of stuff that can make you enslaved on the inside. So then you have to make it all forbidden so you can really be free. It makes my head hurt, and I think maybe he didn’t really listen to my question, ‘cause what I wanted to know was how come Jedi had to have rules instead of just the Force? I mean, why can’t it be simple like that? Mom says that people in this universe don’t help each other enough, that’s the biggest problem, so why can’t Jedi just help people and not worry so much about their own insides so much?

    Master says that when a person enslaved on the inside tries to help and fix problems, he ends up enslaving people on the outside and making more problems. It’s kinda complicated. I don’t want to think about it anymore.

    “Hey! Hey!” Lorra’s jabbing me in the side with his elbow, ‘cause look! Yonso is standing up in the middle of the gathering now like he’s gonna perform or something and I can see all the cam-droids and offworlders and people staring at him like they think he might be interesting or funny. I have a weird feeling in my stomach about it though, and when I look across the way to Master, I can tell he does too. Not on the outside. But sometimes I can tell things about him just because. Like we’re kinda connected in the Force. Like friends.

    And then Yonso starts telling the story of the jabuur-weki, the one from the song RuRu taught me, only he’s kinda changing it too., making it like something that’s happening now instead of what happened a long time ago in a place far, far away. And the chieftain is getting all mad and the holonet guys are just eating it up like its honey cake and blue milk.

    It’s funny, but if you listen carefully it sounds like Yonso thinks the jabuur-weki might be a good guy, like it just wants the chieftain to listen to him and let him move off the Reservation and go to universe-city and stuff. Like the jabuur-weki really disagrees with the old ways and just wants to see all the stupid rules get changed and it’s not an avenging spirit, just the spirit of progress. And its only terrorizing the village ‘cause they’re all too stupid to understand that they’re really free and they don’t have to do things the old way anymore. It would be rugged to have something like that on your side and all, ‘cause it sure would make people listen. I mean, all the villagers and the offworlders are paying real good attention to Yonso right now. I think everybody is – except maybe Master Obi-Wan and Master Windu. They’re all quiet in the corner over there and I think they just gave one another one of those not-impressed faces, the grown up kind like one of Master’s not-funny jokes, the kind that hurt.

    I guess Jedi aren’t impressed even by the jabuur-weki. I guess nothing would ever make the Jedi re-think all their rules and stuff. Oh, well.

    I think Yonso’s story is pretty good, but I really prefer the old one, the one RuRu told me. In Yonso’s version, the happy ending comes when the chieftain lets him do what he wants, and the jabuur-weki just kinda disappears. In RuRu’s version, it’s hoocha way exciting. The jabuur-weki goes on like a rampage, and the young hero has to face it down and whack its head off with his vorpal blade, sorta like Master did to that Sith guy on Naboo. He got blitzed, pretty much, ‘cause Master is a wizard fighter. I’ve seen him. And it would be rugged if he could crisp the jabuur-weki too, right where I can see the whole battle. I guess it would be okay if Master Windu did it instead, or even better if I could, except I don’t even have a lightsaber or anything yet. Maybe I could just blow it up, like I did to that big ol’ Trade Federation ship over Naboo, and then I would be the hero. They might make me a Knight already, like Master got to be when he creamed that assassin guy.

    Uh-oh. I think I better pay attention. I’m kinda getting distracted, the bad way I mean, and that’s a problem ‘cause I gotta stay focused so I can make the good one later. I’ve got a super important job, and I’m gonna do it like a Jedi
  24. ruth baulding Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 3, 2012
    star 3
    26.

    The bitter night-time wind here on Outer Gola – in the moderate equatorial regions, mind you – is sharp enough to wring moisture from my eyes. Through the blearing smears of color, I can make out a shadow skulking in the dark hollows between houses, a flitter of motion on the edge of sight. The Force tells me this is a curious outsider, one who has, like me, excused himself from the festivities early.

    I head him off as he sneaks around the edge of the women’s shelter, and block his entrance.

    “Oh!” he exclaims, clutching his thermal jacket tight about his thin chest. It is the bacci-chewer – the fellow I encountered earlier. Tonight he has a thin pink cheroot gritted between his teeth, of the same variety Dex favors when the dinner rush is too much for his nerves. Vile, but not as filthy as chewing bacci. “You gave me a turn there. Thought you were the jabuur-weki, eh?”

    “I might well have been,” I point out. “It isn’t safe to wander alone past dark.”

    One or two of the Feorian matrons poke their heads through the door as the fellow shuffles nervously on the spot. “So you Jedi think that’s ..real, eh? I mean, you are aware it’s nothing but a folk superstition?”

    “Oh, lord Jedi! Come in, come in where it is warm!”

    I smile at the hospitable offer, but my attention is focused on this stranger. He was looking for something, here in the village. “A folk superstition that attracts your scholarly interest?” I press.

    He blows a thin stream of smoke through his nostrils. “Scholar, I don’t know about that. I told you I’m an amateur expert. And believe me, all that nonsense tonight is just bosk-chissk made up for the tourists’ benefit. None of that’s the genuine article. You gotta ask these lovely ladies if you want the goods. Chieftain and those young hobos are both full of beans.”

    Scrawny arms are tugging at my sleeves now, their invitation transforming to an urgent command. The “amateur expert” flicks his cheroot’s expired butt to the frozen earth and slips past the threshold, taking advantage of my … hesitation. I can hardly pummel these Feorian crones out of the way, now can I? There is nothing else to be done but to yield, and so I duck beneath the sagging lintel into the stuffy cloister where the circle of women waits.

    The goods? What does he mean by that?

    “Oh, Pada-Wan!” one of the Feorians addresses me, fawning. “We were hoping you might come. We would beg a boon of thee.”

    Oh dear. The scholar fellow has situated himself against the far wall, and is making a rather mercenary examination of the women’s half-finished weavings and baskets. I wonder vaguely whether he has a monetary interest in the artifacts – expert can bear a wealth of meanings, as I have learned. “We come to serve,” I answer my interlocutor, neutrally.

    Another of the women, an ancient grandmotherly figure, wobbles forward. “No children have there been born to the Feorians since here we came. Outer Gola – not a fecund place is it. The jabuur-weki’s curse, this may be, too. Help us, you can.”

    And I am suddenly and emphatically relieved – for the first time since Naboo – that Qui-Gon is not here by my side.

    “Ah,” I choke out. Somewhere in my training, there was a provision made for this situation, but for the life of me I cannot summon the requisite knowledge. The laughing smirk plastered on the expert’s face does not help matters either, and I fear I may be on the brink of losing my proper Jedi composure. Thank the Force Anakin is not here, either, to see me reduced to blank speechlessness.

    Two more of the Feorian women totter forward, bearing a small basket filled to the brim with handcrafted amulets, carven bits of hardwood attached to leathern cords. “These,” one of them explains, “Will help our younger sisters. You have the Force, lord Jedi. Will you bless them for us? Give them great power!”

    The hard knot beneath my ribs unclenches. Oh. Well. That’s different, then.

    “I’m sorry,” I reply. “The Force is not magic, and I am not a magician. I cannot make your tokens bear special virtue. But I do wish your tribe well, and hope this … affliction… ends soon.” I will not offer to do whatever is in my power, et cetera, according to the standard formulaic response. There are limits, as I have said, and I would rather avoid misunderstandings in this context.

    The self-styled expert is still leering at me in open amusement.

    Very well. A Jedi is always gracious. “Perhaps this fine gentleman, who is an amateur devotee of your culture and life-ways, might be of assistance where I cannot be,” I suggest, with a small bow.

    The Feorian elders scrutinize the fellow at length, their drooping faces seeming to dissect and analyze his potential to fulfill their wishes. He shifts about edgily, clearly caught off guard by this turn of events, some of the unwelcome smirk wiped off his face.

    “No,” the eldest of the women snorts dismissively. “He will never do, Pada-Wan. Thou would be much better.” She sighs wistfully, causing a certain resurgence of my previous unease.

    But my acquaintance’s smug smile has most definitely been erased. He glowers at me with a sullen air of defeat, but then steps away from the wall in order to have a better look at the handicrafts in the basket.

    “Oh ho,” he says, dangling one of the necklaces between thumb and forefinger. “The genuine article. You see, the women are always the ones to preserve the real stuff. I … if you will forgive my asking so boldly – I would love to take one of these home for my missus, you know.” He feigns deep melancholy. “I understand the sorrow you feel.”

    My brows rise, but the Feorian women cannot feel the deception in the Force as I can. They are happy to bequeath one of the magical pendants to their kind guest, even if they have not been granted special Jedi “blessing.” The man pockets the primitive fertility charm and winks slyly at me as he sidles past, out the door.

    Something tells me he will sell his newly acquired treasure for enormous profit. There are collectors – eccentrics with large fortunes – who would love to add such an artifact to their prize possessions. The galaxy is a strange place, and imperialism takes on many contorted forms. I watch him exit, marveling anew at the perfect conjunction which greed and conniving make. It is an enviable partnership.

    “What ails, thee, Pada-Wan?” the Feorian women ask plaintively. “Are you sure you will not just touch some of these for us? Qui-Jinn was most happy to aid us, back all those years ago. He said it was his pleasure to help. All the children we had in the in-between place, the refugee shelters, those were from his blessing, we are sure.”

    Now I really must make some hasty excuse and beat a swift retreat before I do lose my composure.

    And I wish fervently, not for the first time since Naboo, that Master “Qui-Jinn” was indeed with me, to hear what I might have to say at his expense. And Force forgive me if I indulge in a small smirk of my own as I continue on my way back to the guest-house.

    There have been only a handful of Feorian infants born since they were freed. The old women’s worry is well-founded, and their simple beliefs not so very offensive, in the end. Perhaps I should have granted their request, after all. What harm would there be in it, really, strict observance of the Code aside? ….And – since we are idly speculating - I do wonder how many new tribe members might result from such a fresh batch of amulets? Surely more than a handful.
    There is nobody out here to overhear my chuckle.
  25. earlybird-obi-wan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 21, 2006
    star 6
    love those observations each time from a different POV
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