Title: Balance (AU - Repost of truncated USJS Part IV posts, OCs, TPM Jedi) Author: K’Tai qel Letta-Tanku Time Period: Before – Legends Characters: T’lor, Gi’den, Rani, Trevor, Qui-Gon, most of the Council members from The Phantom Menace Disclaimers: Rani Veko-Kern is the creation of Rani Veko. An-Paj is the creation of Jane Jinn. Alex Arieh is the creation of JediKnight-Obi-Wan. Disney owns the GFFA. I just play here. Spoiler: Author’s Note My OCs were born out of an epic round robin way back in the day called the Ultra-Stressed Jedi Students. A recent drabble brought up a desire to link to the posts with T’lor’s trials only to find them truncated with no recourse via the Way Back Machine for full length posts. So, for those interested, here are they are. They are loosely based on my own experience with my qualifiers and dissertation defense in grad school (mostly in the grilling part, not the lightsaber part, although I do have a sweet lightsaber ). One final note: The spiking of the punch at the dance led to a lot of issues. T’lor is the only one of the trio of Jedi responsible not to have been hauled before the Council specifically in regards to the incident because her friends didn’t want her Trials to be postponed yet again . T’lor woke up at dawn. The first rays of daylight were peaking through her window. She stretched slowly and opened her eyes. Today was the day. She rose and quietly made her way to the refresher, careful not to wake Rani sleeping in the living room. They had stayed up late, probably too late, talking. As she took a quick shower, T’lor marveled at how good it felt to have opened herself up to Rani the night before. She gave herself a little mental kick. What took you so long, Kaden? You know that talking with her always helps. She toweled herself off and slipped a robe around her. As she entered her room, she gave a little gasp. Sitting in a neat pile on her bed was a completely white tunic and leggings with a slate blue obi, the color that denoted a Padawan facing the Trials. There was no robe; traditionally Padawans facing the Trials did not wear one. Looking at the clothing, it became very real. T’lor had always fantasized about this day. Now that it was finally here, it had a surreal feeling to it. Go on. Get dressed. I want to take you some place special before the action starts. Yes, Master. T’lor dressed. The cloth was softer than her normal clothes. She noticed that her boots had been polished as she slipped them on. Straightening her belt, she reached for her lightsaber and clipped it to the belt. Master Dway knocked lightly on her door. “Come in,” she said, looking in the mirror. Gi’den opened the door and stood in the doorway looking at his apprentice. “You look almost like a Knight,” he said in a teasing tone. T’lor just stuck her tongue out at him. “Now, now, almost Knights don’t stick out their tongues. It’s rude,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “Yes, Master,” she replied, moving toward the door. A sleepy-eyed Rani stood in the hallway. “You didn’t have to get up, Rani.” “Have to commemorate this moment for posterity,” she replied. “Now smile.” The flash of the holocamera caused T’lor to blink rapidly for a few seconds. “Now I think I’ll go back to bed,” Rani said as she moved past T’lor and Master Dway, “in a real bed.” She shut the door to the bedroom. “I expect you up early enough to do a morning meditation before reporting to An-Paj,” Gi’den called through the door. “Mmmph,” came the voice from the room. T’lor smiled to herself. Rani had settled into life with Master Dway quite nicely. A lump came to her throat as she realized that she would no longer be part of it in the same way, but she pushed that thought to the back of her mind. T’lor followed Gi’den out of their apartment and to one of their favorite mediation rooms. He led her to a spot beneath a huge tree near a spring that babbled quietly in the background. Gi’den spread out breakfast, and the two of them ate in companionable silence. When they were done, Gi’den packed up the food, and then pulled a packet out of his pocket. “When I took you as a padawan, I bought this.” Gi’den unwrapped the small package in his hand to reveal a piece of slate blue ribbon that matched the obi at her waist. “Turn around,” he said, motioning for T’lor to sit in front of him. Gently he unbraided her Padawan braid. He then cut a lock of his own long hair and braided it together with the ribbon into her hair. He turned her around to face him and cupped her face in his hands. “T’lor, you are my Padawan and always will be. I care for you as if you were my own daughter. You have made me very proud over the years. I know you will do wonderfully today and in the future. You have been a pleasure to train, and I will miss you.” A small tear hung at the corner of Gi’den’s eye, betraying his emotions. “Master,” T’lor said, reaching up to touch his face. She couldn’t bring herself to add anything else, the tone of her voice and her eyes expressing to him her love, devotion, and gratitude. Gi’den pulled T’lor into a hug, holding her like he had done after she had had a nightmare when she was younger. T’lor clung to him for a moment and then pulled back, her eyes wet. “Thank you, Master, for everything,” she said, struggling to get her emotions back under control. “You are welcome, Padawan,” Master Dway replied. “Now, I will leave you here to mediate. The Council will summon you when they are ready. Good luck and may the Force be with you.” T’lor responded, “May the Force be with you as well.” She watched as Gi’den walked off and then settled herself to meditate. She turned her attention inward, letting the Force carry away all of her worries and center her for the challenges to come. She felt the power of the Force flow through her with ease and relaxed into its currents. Time passed, and T’lor felt a call through the Force. It is time. She opened her eyes to see Master Yaddle enter the room. The small master waited for T’lor to meet her and then escorted her to a part of the Temple that T’lor had never explored. They entered a room that reminded T’lor of the lightsaber arena, except this room was shielded to an extent. Inside the Council waited behind a long table for her. As she entered, they rose. T’lor stopped in the middle of the room. As one, the members of the Council bowed to her. T’lor, clasping her hands in front of her, returned their bow. Master Windu spoke. “Shall we begin?” he asked motioning for T’lor to be seated in the chair. The door to the room closed behind them.