The Most Dangerous Foe . . . is yourself! At least that's what I'm guessing. That's how it usually goes. Angela Phillips wrote the short story about little Shannon Voorson joining the Rebellion two issues ago, and now she's back. Shannon was fascinated by stories of the ancient Jedi given to her by her grandmother, and now we're getting another ancient-Jedi story, marketed in the intro as a tie-in to the release of the Tales of the Jedi Companion. We start with Deen Voorson, Shannon's Rebel cousin from the last story, aboard a ship during the evacuation from Yavin, which actually makes this a prequel to the other story, asked by a bunch of kids to tell a story. What the hell were kids doing on Yavin? Does Phillips think the Rebels just have their families hanging around on military bases ready to be targeted by the Empire? Anyway, Deen settles on telling one of his grandma's Jedi stories, from thousands of years ago during the height of the Jedi. Now our real story begins. Vici Ramunee, the sixteen-year-old heroine of the dragon-slaying tale we saw Shannon reading previously, has made her first lightsaber for her Omwati Jedi Master, Tannis. Who is consistently called Mistress Tannis, because it's 1996 and how's anybody going to know any better? There's something kind of cool about seeing an underused EU species like an Omwati as a Jedi, especially in the old Jedi Order. Brings everything a little closer together. Vici's spent three years at whatever Jedi Praxeum this is, and already she's nearly ready to graduate and go back to her homeworld of Alderaan after she passes her final test tomorrow, because again, it's 1996 and how the hell's anybody supposed to know how this works? This is why you're always better off going vague than definite in these kinds of cases. When it comes time for her test, Vici is given from sunrise to sunrise to complete her task. She must go north into a forest, travel along a river, and into the mountains until she finds the Cave of Truth. There, she must triumph over her most dangerous foe in her trial, and may take no tools or weapons with her, including her lightsaber. She sets off into the forest, and feels all connected with the Force, and when she stops for a drink, she senses someone looking for her. It's her ten-year-old brother, Veni, who just arrived this year for training. The little guy heard what Tannis said, and got worried about her, so he followed her with her lightsaber. He's lost, so he can't go back. Which seems like crap, because all he's got to do is follow the river, but Vici lets him tag along because what if he does get lost? You can't really send ten-year-olds off through the woods alone. She does make him keep the lightsaber, though. And by the way, I totally buy the writing for this ten-year-old kid, which is fairly rare, to actually capture kids as characters well. Also as they proceed up the river valley into the mountains, there are something called planimals, which seem like exactly what they sound like. Vici senses something very large and alive coming at them in the valley, and gets worried about herself and her brother. She draws her (red) lightsaber and prepares to defend herself; when the giant dragon comes around the corner, she attacks it. It evades, and asks just what the heck she's doing, because she's an idiot, this is a Duinuogwuin Jedi Master named Willm Lywin who's been serving in this valley for six hundred years and has been a Jedi for over a millennium, and this really should be an automatic fail. He just seems kind of jovially baffled by how terrible a Jedi trainee she is ("The Sith Wars must be going badly, if Tannis is forced to graduate Jedi who can't tell friend from foe," which sets this in the timeline, but not that firmly because how many Sith Wars have we had again?), and blows it all off by passing it off as a lesson not to rush into combat when the situation is unclear. They walk toward the cave, with Vici explaining the family business of harvesting nectar for the production of l'lash, and how beautiful and wonderful her family's pastoral Alderaanian life is, and how she wishes she could help her family with their money problems. It's kind of funny that the anti-attachment, recruit-only-children doctrine was later established as having come out of this Praxeum. Anyway, Lywin explains that Duinuogwuins don't really care about money; they prefer to trade information. They come to the end of the valley, which seems to be a dead end until Vici uses the Force to sense an opening, and levitates rocks away to clear it. She's now got five hours left to make her way through the dark caves and find whatever her challenge is. She goes in, and hits a dead end before realizing she has to be more patient, making her way through a maze of concealed doors. She senses her way through the darkness using the Force. Finally, she finds a firelit chamber with a table and chair. She's tempted by the food on the table until she realizes it's rotten. In the chair is a skeleton dressed in her clothes. Now that she's sufficiently spooked out, both the skeleton and the food vanish away. She finds another secret door, and it opens onto a chasm full of rushing wind. She figures that there's some kind of symbolism at play here -- the room seems safe but isn't; the door seems dangerous but probably isn't, since the door she came in by is closed and this is the only way out. She steps out and the wind blows her up to a ledge, which is some Jedi Knight **** right there. Not the concept, the video game. There are a path up and a path down before her. She chooses the one that feels right in the Force, and heads down. Eventually, she has to crawl on her stomach as the passage narrows, but it still feels like the right one. Eventually she comes out in a cave with light. She sees a corusca gem lying on the floor, but figures it's got to be some kind of a trap, a temptation. It's nice to have some Jedi trainees who are at least a bit wise, a bit aware, you know, instead of just blundering into everything like dunces. But to go out the door, she has to cross the strands of light, which actually burn her. It's some kind of glowing net that's actually drawn toward her when she moves close. So she picks up the corusca gem to throw at the web, see what's up, but the strands jump at it and she almost burns her hand, so she rolls it around with the Force instead, gathering up all the light strands. I really don't understand the logic behind any of this, but whatever. She goes through the door into a chamber full of mirrors. She might be genre-savvy, but she's not genre-savvy enough, because she's confused and starts calling out, asking when her damn foe's going to show up so she can just face it already. You're in a room full of mirrors, think about it. She starts seeing glimpses of things from her life in the mirrors, and tries following them around for a bit before ending up lost and trusting to the Force instead to start finding her way out. She ends up boxed in, surrounded by mirrors, and water's leaking into the room around her. She can't find an exit, and finally decides this is a trap set by her enemy. The water's rising, and she gets panicky and angry, and finally draws her lightsaber, which I had thought she left behind. The sight of her in the mirror finally gets through to her, and she realizes that she's made the mistake of drawing her lightsaber in anger, like she was told never to do. She calms down, starts thinking about her reflection, if she's supposed to fight that, and touches one of the mirrors. Her hand goes through, she walks out, and there's Tannis. Congratulations, you've failed your way to success! You're a Jedi now, because you overcame impatience, doubt, greed, fear, physical limitations, your emotions, et cetera. That's the end of the story, and Deen wraps things up with the sleepy kids around him, when he's congratulated on an excellent story by a young pilot who, look, I'm not going to go into all the context clues but it's obviously Luke Skywalker, except that he probably shouldn't be hanging out on this ship during the Yavin evacuation. Maybe this is the first evacuation. I'd hope, what with the kids. Then we get writeups. Vici is the third of eight children belonging to a poor rural family on Alderaan, and when she was thirteen, Tannis showed up and recruited her and Veni for training. Interesting having two of eight kids Force-sensitive. She's trained for three years and enjoys it, but is also homesick and looks forward to returning to her family after she becomes a Jedi, which is kind of weird even without prequel Jedi concepts, the idea of a teenage Jedi just hanging around the family blossom-picking subsistence-level distilling business trying to balance family obligations and the "deeper responsibilities" of the Jedi. Veni was actually deemed too young by Tannis when she found him, and had to wait until he was ten to attend the Teyan Praxeum. He's excited to be there, but utterly devoted to his sister. Unlike her, he looks forward not to returning home, but to adventuring across the galaxy as a Jedi Knight. Tannis is the head of the Teyan Praxeum. She believes all Force-sensitives should receive Jedi training, as it will benefit them even if they have other life plans. She's totally down with the Mon Mothma idea of Jedi in all walks of life across the galaxy. Willm Lywin, meanwhile, lives outside the Praxeum, and can withdraw to himself for years at a time, conducting research in his quarters in the mountains, but is warm, friendly, and funny, making good friends with all the Jedi who come across him. He was one of the original founders of the Praxeum, and before that he escorted a Chu'unthor-style spacegoing academy for four hundred years. Literally escorted, like he would fly next to it through space, because he's a fricking Star Dragon. The Teyan Praxeum itself was founded six hundred years ago on Teya IV, and currently has Tannis, nine Jedi teachers, and forty apprentices. Mornings are spent on physical and mental skills, and afternoons on academic studies. Evenings involve the chores required to maintain the Praxeum, as there is no support staff and the academy is entirely self-sustaining, teaching the students responsibility for their own community. The Cave of Truth is used for Jedi trials, being a maze of carved passages supplemented by a combination of technology, holographic projections, and Tannis's own Force powers, which is a much more interesting explanation than just "it's a mystic Force location." Lywin escorts the students there and talks to them, using his great people skills to understand their psyches and their strengths and weaknesses, and sends that information to the computers and Tannis to customize their trials, under cover of taking notes to himself on his datapad. You'd think Tannis would have figured out her own students already, but whatever. This story has a few weak points, like Vici making some big mistakes that somebody who's actually ready to be a Jedi probably shouldn't make, but in general it really works. It's creative and thoughtful, and does a good job of capturing the sense of a Jedi trial with a lot of interesting, fun details. It gets that cool, TOTJ-style Jedi spirit and just tells a pretty well-crafted story with it, something that feels very unusual and fresh in the Adventure Journal setting. It's followed by this issue's Fragments from the Mind's Eye. It has a banner for "B'hob's Discount Superweapons" strung across a tableau of the Death Star, Galaxy Gun, Sun Crusher, Eclipse, Executor, World Devastator, and Tarkin, all with giant price tags, and a floating sign promising the Darksaber and "Starburster" coming soon. While I am tickled by the inclusion of the Tarkin, there's no actual joke visible here. It's a concept -- a little nudge and a wink of "Haha, there sure have been a lot of superweapons, right?" in search of an actual punchline. Next, we'll have some Alien Encounters.