Before - Legends Balance (AU - Repost of truncated USJS Part IV posts, OCs, TPM Jedi - Updated 7/14)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    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.

    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 :D ). 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.
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Beutiful and touching start. I look forward to reading more of T'lor. :D
  3. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    So glad to see this starting! I've wondered about this part of your characters' saga ever since you first mentioned it (and ever since I learned from you that we both have been through this kind of examination). This is definitely the kind of start I could imagine to T'lor's big day: there's a hint of the trademark USJS highjinks with Rani, hiding out in the hallways to take her impromptu photo (I am guessing T'lor will come out loking a little poleaxed!), but also a very sweet moment with her Master before the "action" (a very loose way of putting it :p ) starts. Wow, Gi'den is a model for all Masters to make time for his student that way just before her trials, and to give her such fantastic words of love and encouragement:

    That's the way a teacher should be. [face_love] I'm pretty certain I would have been a lot less of a nervous wreck at my own orals if my advisor had done something like that for me! :p

    And now the show begins for real, with the entire council there ready to see what T'lor can do... MTFBWY, break an appendage, toi toi toi, in bocca al lupo, all of it! [face_good_luck]
  4. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    I sure loved the USJS on the old boards
  5. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    Thank you! :D I'm glad to see you here.

    I wrote this write after my thesis defense, and it reflects the support I had going into it. I was still a nervous wreck. My nerves were so bad that I was having aphasia and my worst fear was that I wasn't going to be able to get through my seminar because I wouldn't be able to find the words. :eek:

    :D Glad I can bring back happy memories.

    T’lor took a deep breath and let her frustration flow into the Force. She refocused on the discussion in front of her. Master Piell spoke.

    “I fail to see why you believe such a tactic to be successful in this situation.”

    It is only as clear as the nose on your face… T’lor watched as other members of the Council nodded their heads in agreement. She might have begun to doubt herself if she had seen the look of contemplation in the eyes of Masters Rancisis and Windu. She took another breath and tried again.

    “It is true this won’t work if you make the usual assumptions, that the force you face is composed of individuals with individual thoughts. That assumption is wrong in the case of the Sleck. They have a hive/shared mind, with the individual being completely subordinate to the many. In this particular case, 5 Jedi, instead of the usual number, working in concert could use the Battle Trance to affect the outcome without blood shed.” T’lor folded her hands in front of her, waiting for their reaction. Force, I wish I had my robes. It is so hard not to fidget. At least with my robes I could put my hands in my sleeves and fidget in secret.

    “Very nice work,” Master Rancisis said. “It is obvious from your presentation,” and he pointed to his data pad, “and your thesis that you have really thought about the applications of the Battle Trance in various situations.”

    Master Yaddle added, “Thorough you have been. Well researched this is.” Her head bobbed as indicated her approval. T’lor released the breath she had been holding. She was beginning to think that this part would be over when Master Yoda spoke.

    “Good work this is. One question I have…”

    T’lor groaned inwardly. I never catch a break…

    The door shut quietly behind her and she sunk to the mat on the floor. A small tray of food was on the table in front of her, but T’lor was too tired to be hungry, even though she had not eaten since breakfast. What a day she thought to herself. The defense of her research had only been a small part of the day’s session.

    T’lor sighed and closed her eyes. The day zipped before her mind’s eye. Her Trials had begun with the Council questioning her about the role of the Council in the affairs of the Jedi, with specific interest in the issues of setting and enforcing codes of conduct. She had immediately seen they were probing her role in the punch spiking incident. She thought about the questions they had asked.

    “What role does the Council have in discipline within the Order?” “What responsibility does a Jedi bear in informing the Council about bad judgment?” And her favorite, “Have you made a mistake that the Council should be aware of?”

    T’lor shook her head. It had taken all of her control not to lose it at that one. She simply answered, “No, I believe the Council is well aware of any serious lapses in my judgment.” Looking back on it now, she could see it was a bit on the cheeky-side of things, but at the time T’lor felt that if they were going to have this discussion, she wasn’t going to let the Council off the hook. They knew about her role, and she knew they did, and yet, they hadn’t brought it up until then. If they wanted to punish her, fine, but it wasn’t going to be under the pretense that they didn’t know what had happened. She said as much when Master Gallia asked why she hadn’t come forward after the dance.

    “I thought about it. It would have eased my conscience, but that is all. It would not have changed the past, and I would still have to live with the consequences of my actions. And I had ample reason to believe the Council was well aware of my actions and had chosen not to pursue the matter at the time.” The Council members took this in.

    T’lor continued, “I deeply regret my actions of that night, although I would still have helped spike the punch even if I had know how strong the liquor was. I would have adjusted the amount to a more appropriate level.” A murmur had run through the Council at that point, and Master Windu interrupted her.

    “You would still have broken the Temple rules?”

    “Yes, in this case I would have, simply because it would not have occurred to me that the vast majority of the Temple does not know how to handle alcohol. I assumed that since we are often placed in situations where techniques to manage the effects of alcohol might be crucial to our survival that everyone would know them and would know when to use them.” T’lor kept her hands folded in front of her, leaning into the Force to remain calm. This was not what she had had in mind for the Trials.

    The Council was quiet, and then Master Billaba spoke. “You are remorseful; we can sense that. Yet you did not come forward and admit your mistake. This definitely falls under the heading of behavior unbecoming of a Jedi. In light of this, why should we believe you to be worthy of being a Knight?”

    T’lor looked at them in disbelief. They couldn’t be serious, could they? She felt the fear and anger rising in her. Quickly she gathered the Force to her, letting the calm dribble away the emotions. She let out a breath and stated softly, “Because I have learned something from this experience. I have come to realize that I have to live with the consequences of my actions. Not my Master, not the Council, just me. I know that on a mission the decisions will not be as straight forward as simply breaking a rule of the Order, and that they might not even have a clear-cut right and wrong to them. Any decision I might make can be questioned by the Council, and if the Council sees fit, punished. But ultimately, it is I that will have to deal with the ramifications of my decisions.” She had been looking at the floor when she said this, but she raised her head and looked them in the eye for her next statement. “I cannot undo the past. All I can try to do is make amends and learn from this mistake. Every Jedi makes mistakes.” She looked at the council with calm but challenging eyes. “Including the Council.”

    “And that mistake was?”

    “Assuming that my training was the same as everyone else’s.”

    “And ours?”

    The follow up question caught T’lor by surprise. She thought a moment, choosing her words carefully. “Not making sure my training, at least in this matter, is the norm.”

    That seemed to be enough for them. The questioning had continued then, touching on a wide variety of subjects. T’lor had to work to stay calm at times, but she had managed to be diplomatic and not too surly in her answers to the questions designed to test her patience. The day had ended with Master Windu’s admonition to eat and rest before the practicum part of the test tomorrow. She had then been led to this small room and left alone until the morning.

    She quieted her mind and listened to the whispers in the Force that made up her connection to her master and her best friend. They were busy, but both anxious for her. Exhaustion poured down through her bond with Rani. It worried T’lor. Rani hadn't been sleeping well and was really sluggish in the mornings. T’lor was beginning to think that something was really wrong. I’ll bug her about it when this is over she thought to herself. T’lor wanted to let them know things were going ok, but resisted the urge to reach out to them. She didn’t think that was appropriate.

    T’lor sighed again and relaxed into a deep meditation that would be more refreshing than a night’s sleep. She had a feeling that she was going to need all of her energy for what was to come.
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  6. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Being ill and bored, I have plenty at time at my hand, so I sneaked up in here and started reading.

    I have been in a lot of exams, too, in the past. Being scared to death. This is why I continued reading, because I understand what the character felt.

    Then I got happy because I spotted names that I know such as Master Yaddle, Master Windu and Master Billaba.

    Well written, with a lot of depth & emotion. I hope that I can manage to keep up with T’lor´s journey.
    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku likes this.
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Whew, what a grueling session that was! T'lor kept her poise admirably. Hope Rani is all right though.
  8. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    T'lor sure had a grueling session. What a way to have exams
  9. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    Thank you! I'm glad I can help you pass the time and that you find T'lor's experiences to be something you can relate to. :) Being sick and bored is not fun.

    I was channeling my qualification exams for oral examination part. I distinctly remember being told I had passed unconditionally but had to re-write my proposal. :rolleyes: :p.

    I was fresh off my own defense when I wrote this, so the idea that the Trials would be like doing one's oral defense on steroids made sense to me. I mean if mere mortals can get through dissertation defenses, Jedi Trials have to be worse, right? ;)

    The door slid open. T’lor pulled herself from the deep currents of the Force to focus on the figure standing in the doorway. One of the initiates assigned to the Council stood there, a tray of food in her hand. She looked wide-eyed at the padawan sitting in the middle of the floor. T’lor noticed that she seemed to be frozen in place. Grinning to herself, she stood up and took the tray from the young girl. “Thank you.”

    The initiate said nothing at first, then bowed and added “May the Force be with you” as she left T’lor to eat. T’lor watched with amusement as she scurried down the hall. Funny, I don’t remember being that intimidating. Tlor returned to the mat, sitting to eat the simple breakfast. She knew from talking to others that this would be her final meal until the Trials were done.

    When she had finished, she put the tray aside and then began a series of katas to center herself in a moving meditation. She had just finished the last pose when Master Windu appeared at the door.

    “It is time.”

    He led her to a room that T’lor thought was at least as large as the main Temple arena. In front of her was an obstacle course. To the left was a smaller room that looked like it might be a simulation chamber. To her right she could see a ship of a design she was unfamiliar with. Master Windu indicated a gesture that she should start there. “You have one hour to diagnose and repair this ship. May the Force be with you,” he said and then departed. T’lor looked around for a tool kit. She saw it sitting over near the wall. Picking it up and carrying it over to the ship, she got to work. As she scooted under the ship, she recalled the last time she had been under a ship repairing it. An image of Alex without his tunic came unbidden to her mind. She felt a surprised gasp and sigh of appreciation from Rani through their bond. Eavesdropper. T’lor smiled to herself and began tearing out the faulty wiring she had found.

    An hour later she finished. She stood up. Her tunic was smudged with oil, and she had a streak of dirt across her left cheek. As she was making her final checks, Master Jinn walked in.

    “Come with me.”

    “Yes, Master,” T’lor replied, confused. He wasn’t a member of the Council. And that must mean…Panic rose within her, but T’lor clamped down on it. Just ask him. “Master, have I failed already?”

    Qui-Gon looked at the woman before him and chuckled. “No, Padawan, you haven’t failed yet. Why do you ask?”

    T’lor let out a little sigh of relief. “I was under the impression that only Council members were involved in the Trials.”

    The tall Jedi smiled. “They like to keep padawans on their toes. Here we are.” He stopped in front of a box on hydraulics. “You will fly two simulations, one as an escort in a fighter, the other as a transport vessel. May the Force be with you.”

    T’lor stepped into the simulator. To one side there was a cockpit with controls that looked like they might belong to a fighter. To other were the controls that she recognized belonged to a transport. She sat in front of the fighter controls and started the simulation. The screen came up and told her she was flying an experimental design of a fighter called the A-wing. She called up the specs and whistled. The ship was small, fast, maneuverable, and well-armed. She keyed in the started sequence…and almost crashed before she cleared the simulated deck. That was a little close. It wouldn’t look very good to go splat before you’ve gotten the ship into space.

    An hour and a half later she emerged from the simulator. That was the most intense simulation I’ve ever experienced. Master Yaddle stood outside. “This way you come. Obstacle course you run,” she said, ushering T’lor to the center of the room. T’lor looked up at the wall that made up part of the course. A little tendril of fear surged through her. You can do this. Rani is the one that fell, not you. Somehow, that really didn’t seem to matter.

    Master Yaddle barely waited for T’lor to reach the starting point. “Time you I will. On my mark you start. Get set, go.”

    T’lor entered the course, narrowing her focus to the obstacle at hand and forgetting about the wall that loomed ahead of her. She let herself fall deeper into the Force, calling on it to jump between platforms and help balance her as she ran across a narrow bridge. Then the wall was in front of her. She attacked it with a single-minded determination. The initial holds were close together, making it easy to get established on the wall. But the further she ascended, the farther apart the holds became until she was routinely call on the Force to help her reach the next one. It required intense concentration.

    T’lor had just finished reaching for a particularly difficult hold and was deciding on her next move when the wave of fear washed over her. She clung to the wall, unable to move. I’m going to fall. I’m going to fall, I’m GOING TO FALL… She let out her breath and tried to calm down. As she reached out to the Force, she realized the fear wasn’t hers, but was cascading through her bond with Rani.

    RANI! There was a feeling of surprise along the bond they shared. Get a grip or quit eavesdropping! I can’t do this with you re-living the accident. T’lor didn’t want to raise her own shields for fear that the amount of focus necessary to maintain them enough to block out Rani would be just enough to distract her, with disastrous results. She felt Rani begin to calm down, support and strength replacing the fear in their bond. Thank you.

    T’lor turned her attention back to the wall, re-centering herself. She chose her path, a series of holds up and to her left. They were well beyond her natural reach, but she could get there with a Force assisted jump. Closing her eyes, she pulled the Force to her and made her move. For a moment she was floating in mid-air and then her hands connected with the wall, her finger tips grasping the holds, her feet secure. She breathed a sigh of relief and quickly worked to finish the obstacle and the course.

    Out of breath and a little shaken by the incident on the wall, T’lor didn’t hear Master Windu the first time he spoke. “Padawan, are you paying attention?”

    T’lor shook her head and looked up at the Master standing in front of her. “My apologies, Master. What did you say?”

    “I said, your final test of the day will be a series of battle simulations and lightsaber duels. Please follow me.”

    They entered the simulation room that T’lor had seen earlier that morning. The room was heavily shielded against laser fire. This is going to be fun…not. T’lor walked in and the door to the room shut behind her. She stood there momentarily, and then closed her eyes, relaxing into meditation. She had only moments to act as the first laser bolt came in her direction. Her lightsaber snapped to life, the amethyst blade arcing to block the shot.

    After ending the first simulation, T’lor had a couple of burns and some bruises but had succeeded in not getting seriously hurt. The door opened and she was joined by Knight Holden. “Time for a little teamwork,” he said, as the door closed again. T’lor was again taken aback to see someone other than a council member, but just nodded her head.

    The simulation began with rapid-fire laser cannon bolts coming at them from three different angles. The two Jedi worked in unison, moving to parry the assault. On your left, Trev T’lor sent through the Force as a nasty probe with three vibroblades launched from the wall. Trevor dispatched the probe with a slice of his blade. He turned in time to see three remotes target T’lor.

    Duck! The voice in T’lor’s head was matched by Trevor’s own vocalization. She hit the ground as his lightsaber came whirling through the air, taking out two of the remotes. T’lor rolled to her side and spun around in time to take out the third.

    They continued for what seemed like an eternity. Finally the simulation ended. The door to the room opened and Master Galia appeared. “Follow me,” she instructed.

    Trevor waved to T’lor as she left the room. “May the Force be with you,” he called after her.

    T’lor was led to a lightsaber arena. The entire Council stood around the center of the mat. Master Windu, sans robes, stood in the center. “Time to fight,” he said, motioning her to join him. T’lor walked into the ring and bowed to her opponent. The room was silent as the two lightsabers hissed to life.

    T’lor decided to take the defensive position. She called on the Force and waited for the Jedi Master to make his first move. His attack came fast and furious, pressing T’lor back. She blocked his blows, carefully studying his style. He was favoring a fast, hard press, but his advance left him slightly off-balance to the right. T’lor flipped over his head and pushed with the Force on his left side, causing the Jedi Master to slip, his light saber sliding from his hand. T’lor landed lightly and did not hesitate to bring her saber around to just above his neck on the left.

    “Kill point.”

    Master Windu stood, and bowed. Master Koth approached next. They bowed and the sparing began. T’lor was again successful in disarming the Master, but failed to score the kill point. She slipped in his next attack and found herself with his lightsaber pointing to her heart.

    “Kill point.”

    The next match involved T’lor facing both Masters Yaddle and Billaba. Using a ploy similar to what she had used with Obi-Wan and Ane, she held Master Billaba in a Force hold as she turned her attention to the vicious attack of Master Yaddle. The diminutive master was quick and surprisingly agile. T’lor narrowly missed getting skewered by her only to find herself turning rapidly to parry a blow from Master Billaba. The match ended with T’lor scoring a kill point on Master Billaba but being scored on by Master Yaddle.

    The final match had T’lor facing Master Piell and Master Poof. T’lor again went on the defensive, watching the two Masters carefully. She managed to score a quick kill point on Master Piell, only to find herself all of the sudden alone in the arena. She stopped, holding her lightsaber in front of her warily. What the… Just then her danger sense flared and she flipped backward. There was nothing in front of her. The answer came to her in a flash. Mind trick. She raised her mental shields as tight as she could and closed her eyes. Sinking deeply into the Force, she spun and thrust out with her lightsaber.

    “Kill point.”

    T’lor opened her eyes. Master Poof simply bowed, but his eyes shown in approval. Master Yoda came forward. “Well you have done. Greatest challenge you now face. Come.”
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  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb series of tests. T'lor held her own excellently. Then the last line: :oops: What's that gonna be? [face_worried]
  11. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    WOW that's some testing. T'lor is great. But what's the greatest challenge?
  12. K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku

    K'Tai qel Letta-Tanku Jedi Grand Master star 3

    Apr 18, 2000
    Thank you both. And indeed, what is the greatest challenge a Jedi can face? [face_thinking][face_whistling][face_devil]

    T’lor followed the small master out of the arena. She was slightly surprised to see that the sun was setting as he led her past the room they had been in yesterday. The Council followed. They came to a small chamber. T’lor could feel something odd about it through the Force. The Council stepped forward, creating a gantlet through which she had to pass to enter the room. Yoda nodded and T’lor stepped forward. As one, the Council began chanting something in an ancient tongue. As T’lor stepped through the door, Yoda said, “May the Force be with you, young one.” The door closed and T’lor was alone, completely alone.

    She moved into the room. A small meditation mat sat in the middle of the room. A lantern in the corner cast just enough light for T’lor to see her way to the mat. She kneeled down and looked around her. The walls were bare except for a single picture of a gray-skinned humanoid Jedi seated in a classic meditation pose. It was a picture like many she had seen around the Temple, except this Jedi’s eyes were large black pools of nothingness. T’lor shivered and looked away. There was nothing else in the room. She sighed and decided to meditate until the Council returned.

    She arranged herself into her favorite pose for meditation and let herself fall into the Force. The first thing T’lor noticed was that she could no longer feel Rani or her Master through her bonds with them. It wasn’t that they were muffled or shielded from her. It was as if they didn’t exist. That put her on edge and her eyes snapped open. Something wasn’t right about this room. She looked around again, but saw nothing out of place. Get a grip, Kaden. T’lor closed her eyes again and fought down the panic rising in her gut.

    T’lor was unaware of the passing of time as she drifted in the currents of the Force. Memories of her youth swam before her eyes. Her sister’s face appeared. Kel looked happy and hopeful. It was the day she had been chosen as a Padawan. The next memory was of the day Kel had died. T’lor stifled a cry as she remembered the shock that had run through her in history class as she felt Kel become one with the Force. Don’t leave me…

    A presence in the room brought T’lor back to the present. “Who’s there?” There was no answer. T’lor turned towards the door. Standing before her was a figure in black Jedi robes. “Who are you?” The figure advanced forward without saying a word. Suddenly the room was lit by the glow of an orange lightsaber blade. T’lor stood, slowly. “Who are you?” she asked again.

    With frightening speed, the figure launched itself at her. T’lor’s own lightsaber snapped to life just in time to block the blow. The blades crackled against each other, the intersection of orange and amethyst burning white. T’lor disengaged her blade and took a step back. The two figures circled each other warily. Again the unknown Jedi attacked. T’lor blocked the quick fast strikes and flipped over her opponent’s head, putting distance between the two of them. She shut off her lightsaber as did the other Jedi. A light flashed from the figure’s hand and the lamp went out. The room was plunged into darkness. T’lor sucked in her breath.

    “What is the matter, Knightling? Afraid of the dark?” the figure taunted.

    T’lor calmed herself and tried to sense the other through the Force. What she felt was strange, like no other being she had ever sensed. “Who are you?”

    T’lor blinked as the lightsaber of the Jedi ignited. The hood of the other’s robes had fallen back. In the orange glow, T’lor caught a glimpse of the Jedi’s face and felt her stomach drop. Standing there in front of her was a young woman about T’lor’s age. She was 5’7” tall, willowy, with long copper hair that cascaded down her back in beautiful waves. T’lor looked at her face, a mirror image of T’lor’s own, freckles included. Except where T’lor’s eyes were dark brown, the woman before her had eyes that were like black holes; no whites were visible.

    “What? Don’t recognize your true self?” The voice was T’lor’s but not quite, being slightly lower and huskier. T’lor backed up again, unable to believe what she saw before her.

    “You are not me.”

    “Oh no? Who am I then?” the woman asked, a smirk on her face.

    T’lor tried to come up with an answer. She could find no other explanation. The woman before her was an incarnation of herself. T’lor reached out again with the Force and recoiled. The woman was an incarnation of her darkside. “What do you want?”

    “Oh what anyone wants…life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Control of our destiny.”

    “Over my dead body.”

    “I can arrange that,” the dark-T’lor said, springing forward. T’lor parried the attack, again holding the other’s lightsaber in check. With a shove, she disengaged her blade, sending the woman back a few steps. T’lor backed up. It was her worst nightmare come true, being alone with her darkside.

    The women continued to circle one another. “If I controlled our destiny we could have riches beyond imagination and power beyond belief.”

    “A Jedi does not crave material things or power,” T’lor replied.

    “We could avenge Kel’s death.”

    T’lor stopped dead in her tracks. “Kel’s death was an accident. There is nothing to avenge,” she said evenly.

    The woman laughed. “You blame them, the Council, for her death. We could destroy the Council and take control of the Order.”

    “I doubt that,” T’lor responded. “I just spared against the Council and lost as many times as I won. We’d be dead long before we ever gained control of the Order.” The dark Jedi rushed at her. T’lor raised her light saber, and they traded blows. They pulled apart, both heaving with exertion.

    “Why do you fight me?” the woman asked, the black holes that were her eyes staring into T’lor’s soul. “You know I am your strength. We could be so much more powerful if you would let me out.” Suddenly T’lor was sailing through the air. She landed with a thud against the floor, the wind knocked out of her.

    “Like I said, not in a million years.” T’lor stood slowly.

    “Tell me something Knightling. If it really was an accident, why do you blame yourself, hmmm? How are you supposed to save anyone else if you couldn’t save your sister?”

    That comment infuriated T’lor. She lunged forward pushing the woman against the wall. With shove, T’lor knocked the dark Jedi aside, her lightsaber clanking as it skittered across the floor. T’lor held her lightsaber at the other’s throat.

    “Do it. Kill me.”

    T’lor hesitated. Something wasn’t right about this.

    “You can’t do it. You can’t kill me. Without Gi’den, without Rani, you are weak, useless. I make you strong. Without me, you are nothing. ” The dark Jedi laughed and rolled away from T’lor. “I assure you, I have no such problems with killing you.” With that, T’lor found herself fighting for her life. The dark Jedi’s blows were strong, shaking her arms with each strike. They moved across the room, and T’lor found herself backed up against the wall without room to move.

    “Now, young Jedi, prepare to die.”

    T’lor closed her eyes and reached out to the Force, looking for an answer. It came to her.

    “You can’t kill me. If you do, you cease to exist.” The comment caught the dark Jedi by surprise.

    “You can’t be serious.”

    “I mean it. You can’t kill me. Without me, without the light, you cease to exist. Just like I cannot exist without you.” T’lor dropped her blade and stepped forward.

    “I will kill you where you stand then.” As the dark Jedi’s blade pointed towards T’lor’s heart, T’lor stepped forward and embraced the woman before her. She felt a terrible pain as the saber pierced her chest. “We are one, light and dark. Only together are we whole,” T’lor whispered as she fell to her knees, her life force draining from her body. There was a hideous scream and then silence. T’lor slumped to the ground. She thought she felt her sister’s presence in the Force. And I am never alone.

    The sound of the door being opened brought T’lor to her senses. Light streamed into the room. Mace Windu stood in the doorway. T’lor blinked, momentarily confused. Where am I? What happened?

    “Come forward Padawan Kaden.”

    T’lor stood up, her body aching from her Trials. She moved slowly to the door. As she crossed the threshold from the darkness of the room to the light of the dawn of Solstice morning, Mace said, “You leave the shadow time of padawan learning behind. Come into the light of Knighthood, T’lor Kaden.”

    The Council stood in the gantlet formation they had assumed the night before. As she walked forward they chanted again in the same tongue. At the end of the line, T’lor saw Master Dway and Rani waiting for her. Rani reached out to her first.

    “Congratulations!” Rani said, pulling her into a hug. “See, I told you that you would do fine.”

    T’lor smiled and nodded, too tired to speak, the experience of the previous night still fresh in her mind.

    Gi’den moved forward to embrace his padawan. “Congratulations, Padawan” he whispered in her ear as he hugged her close. He then held her out at arms length. “You look like you could use a bath and bed, in that order. Come, we’ll get you washed and rested, and then you can start your next chapter in life.”

    “Thank you, Master,” T’lor said in a quiet voice. She leaned on him as all three of them walked back to their quarters. I am never alone.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Splendid! T'lor mastered that in spectacular fashion and learned a profound lesson. @};-
  14. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Great action to see that the dark and light are in her and mastered by her
  15. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    You showed all of us how we can master the darkness within us with this story here. Thank you! @};-
  16. Findswoman

    Findswoman Kessel Run Champion star 5 VIP - Game Winner

    Feb 27, 2014
    Time for a major catch-up on my part—once again, sorry to be tardy! Going to go in order by installment here:

    June 14: Wow, T’lor is absolutely killin’ these trials so far! I’m just in awe of how levelheaded, cool, and collected she’s being in the face of the absolutely infuriating stuff the Council is casting in her teeth. Just the fact that they’re spending so much time castigating her for this one incident is already a bit much, and that after all the other stuff they’ve had her do that day (e.g., her presentation on the Battle Trance—is that the same as the Battle Meditation that Bastila was famous for?). But then when Master Billaba (whom I otherwise generally like) starts in with “why should we believe you to be worthy of being a Knight?” Like, just really? Would they have spent all this time setting up T’lor’s trials if they really didn’t think that? I don’t blame her for feeling anger rise; indeed, part of the point here must be to test to see if she is actually able to maintain the proper Jedi calm. But she does—and she manages, at the same time, to call the Council out on its own miscalculation in an eminently diplomatic and civil manner that would wow even the calmest Consular. Bravissima, T’lor, is all I can say! =D=

    And yet of course this is only the very beginning of what I’m sure is going to be an immensely grueling experience that will tax our heroine to her utmost—so I’ll read on, and keep my fingers crossed!

    June 26: Gosh, these trials are just one thing after another—bang bang bang! T’lor is being tested in so many disparate skills in such close succession—it seems almost unrealistic on the Council’s part to expect that one person is going to be able to do all these things in an equally proficient manner. Not to mention all the unfair little mindgames being sprinkled in here and there, like having non-Council members show up from time to time to keep her on her toes. I almost wonder if the telepathic eavesdropping from Rani was deliberate—as in, specifically requested by the Council in order to throw T’lor off during her obstacle course run. The lightsaber trials seem the scariest: not only the teamwork drill against the blaster bolts and probes (I don’t know how much T’lor has worked with Trevor Holden before) but also havnig to fight pretty much each council member in quick succession—yoicks! Well, I suppose that’s not too different from Earth Ph.D. orals, in its way. Here, too, T’lor makes it all the way through with impressive levelheadedness and panache—but here, too, I sense that the “more to come” is going to tax that levelheadedness and panache like nothing has yet. :eek:

    July 14: Wow, this indeed is where things get trippy! :eek: The dreamlike eeriness of this episode reminds me of the trippy Jedi Temple sequences that Ezra and Kanan go through at various points in seasons 1 and 2 of Rebels—one’s never quite sure what’s real and what’s not, and yet everything, every detail means something—most of all those blank, black eyes. And that’s true most of all with this mysterious adversary who claims to be T’lor’s own dark side…

    …from the copper hair and freckles I recognize her as K’Tai, though of course at this stage T’lor and K’Tai don’t know each other. What does it mean for K’Tai to be emblematic of T’lor’s own dark side? Especially since I’d always regarded them as good friends… definitely much to ponder here about what this could mean for their future relationship.

    And of course the mindgames continue, as the adversary constantly casts Kel’s death in T’lor’s teeth, which indeed brings T’lor very close to losing control. BUT—I just love how T’lor responds: by invoking the balance of the Force, the need for both the light and dark sides to balance each other out and form a whole. Which of course is where the title comes in, and which furthermore ties in to…

    …the Tal’shari concept of Unity that’s so central to your K’Tai stories. And hey, now I see where K’Tai fits in to all this! She will eventually be one of the main people who will embody the concept of Unity for T’lor. If I’m understanding this all correctly, of course!

    And now T’lor has made it through to her—congratulations and bravissima! I love the final image of her leaning on Gi’den and Rani, the two people who have supported her the most up to this point. Just as she went into the trials with their support, she likewise goes out of them with their support. Just beautiful. [face_love]

    Such a wonderful, thoughtful story trough which o much of your own heart and experiences shine through—thanks so much for sharing with us! @};-