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Saga - OT [DDC 2018] (Not) The Ballad of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus | (OCs)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    As always, a big thank you to @Findswoman for beta reading@};-

    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, who’s learned a lot about what makes a Jedi worthy
    Centaxday, 10/11 3301 cont’d.


    Can I just take a minute to say how awesome Noemi is? Okay, yes, this is my journal so I can say whatever I want here, and yes, I already knew she was pretty awesome, but I have to say I have a new appreciation for just how awesome her beast-warden talent really is. I mean, it’s one thing to know she talks to Spots and the other Loth-cats that live around the Academy, it’s another to see her walk up to a kath hound with horns as long as she is tall and teeth like a rancor’s and stand there as calmly as if it were no more dangerous than one of those Loth-cats. I sure wasn’t that calm—OMF, when that thing was bellowing at Noemi like a mad bantha, it was all I could do not to rush in between them! And when it was sniffing and slobbering over her like it was trying to decide how she’d taste, I had my lightsaber unhooked from my belt before I even thought about what I was doing. Five more seconds and I think I would have done something really stupid. But just then the kath hounds all lined up like a dance troupe, moved off the path in perfect synchronization, and the big albino hound bowed to Noemi. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, but Noemi acted like it was no big deal that she’d saved us from getting gored or trampled or chomped or whatever it is that kath hounds do to people they don’t like, and that she’d saved the hounds from being chopped up by Ben—with my lightsaber! (Wow, Solo, that was presumptuous, even for you.) Seriously, Noemi was so completely awesome—and I still can’t believe that a girl like her would want a guy like me. I still can’t believe she loves me!

    Uh, yeah, anyway...after the hounds moved off the path, you could see that now it wound through a bunch of weird standing stones that hadn’t been there like five seconds before. It seemed like the architecture here (wherever “here” was) liked to play fast and loose with reality just like the doors and passageways in the Jedi Temple. At the end of the trail was a low, circular barrow with a narrow wedge sliced out of it—a stone-walled corridor that sloped down to an ominously dark portal to heart of the hill. And silhouetted in that doorway—or maybe whatever the opposite of “silhouetted” is, since his white robes stood out against the darkness behind him—was a figure wearing the robes and mask of a Temple Guard.

    So, okay, during the Rebellion, Dad and Uncle Ezra visited the Jedi Temple twice. The first time all Dad could do was sit and meditate while he waited for Uncle Ezra to return from his trials, but the second time, Dad faced his own tests. He was challenged by a Pau’an Temple Guard who knighted him when he’d passed them. I thought for a minute that this might be the same Guard, but he definitely didn’t have the skeletal build of a Pau’an, and there was something odd about his mask I couldn’t put my finger on from here. The really weird thing was that even though he couldn’t be the same one my dad encountered, he seemed familiar, and that strange familiarity (ha!) made me uneasy. If it wasn’t Dad’s Guard, then why would I feel like I knew him from somewhere?

    I didn’t have much time to consider it, because Ben was off and running as soon as he spotted the man, eager to see if the Fabulous Jedi Treasure the Temple Guard had to be guarding was the Blade! Of! The! Revanchist! Somehow I doubted that all Ben would have to do was walk up and claim it. There had to be more to it than that—wasn’t there always more to it with things like this? I mean, Uncle Ezra had to go through a whole series of mind-twisting, gut-churning visions just to get a kyber crystal. But there was no telling that to Ben. All I could do was take Noemi’s hand, follow him, and hope the Guard wouldn’t challenge him to a duel or anything, because if Ben tried to take my lightsaber again, I was seriously going to have to try out the whole “using the Force to give someone dysentery” thing on him.

    The Temple Guard stood as motionless as the stones that lined the path to the mound. As we approached him, I could see that though his robes were the same as the images I’d seen of the Guards—a white robe and hood with off-white trim, a stole with the Guard insignia embroidered on it in gold, and a heavy leather belt with his keys of office hanging from it—his mask was definitely not the same. It was white enamel with gold accents like a regular Guard mask, but heavier and blockier. In a way it reminded me of some of the really old Mando helmets in the “Art of Beskar’gam” traveling exhibit that Aunt Sabine coordinated a couple years ago. Instead of a delicate flame design running from forehead to chin, this one had a thick gold band above the eye slit, a gold trapezoid shape below it and gold blazes on each cheek.

    The Guard regarded us silently for a moment as we stood there, shuffling our feet like a bunch of younglings called in front of both of the headmasters (not that I’ve ever been the youngling called in front of them—I already live with one, so I knew better than to do anything more than mildly annoying in class). “Well now, this is interesting,” he said at last. “I’ve never had three candidates at once before.”

    His voice was warm, like he really thought this was a cool situation and couldn’t wait to see how it played out. It was not what I was expecting; I guess I figured he’d sound sterner, kind of haughty, maybe even a little annoyed at us for interrupting his Very Important Guard Stuff. Instead, he sounded more like Master Blayne when he was secretly amused by the antics of the younglings who’d been hauled in front of him. It made me feel a little better, like maybe he didn’t plan to subject us to psychological torture or challenge us to single combat or anything.

    “There have been others?” Ben frowned; he didn’t seem to know what to make of this. Knowing him, he probably would have enjoyed being challenged to trial by combat; he’d probably looked forward to showing his awesomely worthy saber skills (with my saber, of course). But a mildly amused Temple Guard who just stood there looking at us didn’t seem to figure into his plans.

    “Of course.” There was a bit of a chuckle in the Guard’s voice this time. “Did you really think you were the first person in over 4000 years to come looking for the Blade of the Revanchist?” Ben flinched a little at that, because of course he believed the Blade had just been hanging out for a couple millennia waiting for the Worthiest Jedi Ever to show up. The Guard chuckled again as he unhooked something from his belt and held it up—a lightsaber hilt. It was long, lustrously silver, and its four decorative vanes made it look like some sort of sleek Nubian starfighter. “This is what you’re after, isn’t it?”

    “Yes…” Ben’s answer was more of a rapturous sigh than an actual word. His eyes lit up like he’d just found his one true love, his reason for living.

    “So, there are three of you, but only one Blade…” The Guard tilted his head and glanced between us. “Which of you, I wonder, is the one who’s worthy of it?”

    Ben did not, as I might have expected, jump up and down going “Ooh, ooh! Me! Me! ME!” Instead he took an even more melodramatic tack, going down on one knee in front of the Guard, his head bowed oh-so-humbly—but his words were anything but humble. “I’ve dedicated myself to finding the Blade of the Revanchist, sifting clues from ancient manuscripts and long lost scrolls. I came here at great risk to myself… and, er, my...companions.” He faltered a bit over that part, like he wasn’t sure he wanted to mention us but felt he had to since we were obviously together. I guess “companions” sounded better than “people who followed me when I snuck off while all the good little padawans were supposed to be sleeping.” He didn’t waste any longer on us than he had to, though. He rose, sweeping his robes back into their perfectly symmetrical folds as he stood, and smiled ingratiatingly at the Guard. “Not to be immodest, Master, but I’m considered the top of my lightsaber cohort, and...well, my family heritage is unmatched. I am the third generation of my family to become a Jedi—I’m the grandson of the Chosen One himself.”

    Noemi gave a tiny, quickly stifled snort and I saw her roll her eyes skyward. *Not to be immodest? Oh good skies, Ben…* I had to agree with her on that. Everything he said was true, and yet… Dedicated to finding the blade? Yeah, for like three whole weeks. Danger to himself and his companions? The accidental companions he didn’t want with him. Top of his cohort? First of all, there weren’t any rankings in our saber cohorts, because rankings led to competition led to jealousy and so on. Ben was good with a lightsaber, no doubt, but Caleb could duel him to a standstill. And as for the whole “unmatched heritage” thing—how did having a famous grandfather make Ben any worthier than anyone else?

    “Hmmm…Those are fine qualities for a Jedi, no doubt.” The Guard’s tone was politely neutral, but I got the feeling he’d noticed the look that passed between me and Noemi (probably because I’m used to Dad catching stuff like that). “How about you, padawan?” he asked, turning towards me. Somehow his gaze—nothing more a dark rectangle in that gleamingly blank mask—was more unsettling than Ben’s smolderiest scowl. “What makes you worthy of the Blade?”

    I felt like I’d been called to the front of Dad’s class to take an oral quiz I hadn’t studied for. “Uh, actually...I’m not,” I blurted. Ben didn’t bother to stifle his snicker; the Guard tilted his head slightly, and I got the impression that his eyebrows just shot up all the way to the top of his mask. Probably he’d never had anyone be such a moof-milking idiot to as to come right out and admit their unworthiness before. I could feel a hot flush spreading to the tips of my twitching lekku. ”I mean, I’m not here for the Blade. Sir. Um, Master… um…”

    “Really?” There was more than just a hint of raised eyebrows in that word, like I’d managed to really surprise him for the first time in 4000 years. “Then why are you here?”

    “I… well, when I saw B—when I saw someone sneaking into the Temple tonight…” If Noemi was right and we were stuck here unless Ben passed the Temple’s trials, maybe it would be better if I didn’t mention the fact that Ben had been skulking around in the dark. No sense torpedoing his chances, even if he didn’t want any help from anybody, especially me. “Well, I...kind of felt like it was my duty to see what was going on. To protect the Temple if I had to.” And, oh man, how lame did that sound? Seriously, what had I been thinking? Why had I even thought the Temple would even an insignificant, untried padawan to protect it? It seemed to have done a pretty good job all on its own...and I’d just been dragged along for the ride.

    “Interesting.” The Guard gave a fractional nod before he turned to regard Noemi and Spots. “And you, young lady? Are you and your Loth-cat seeking the Blade?”

    Noemi smiled and shook her head. “I came with Ronen,” she answered, taking my hand and squeezing it. “I couldn’t let him go by himself; I love him.” Ben crossed his arms over his chest and made a small noise that could have been a cough...or a gag. Spots hissed at him—good kitty! I made a mental note to buy her a package of cat treats when we got home.

    The Guard held up Revan’s lightsaber, and Ben came to attention like a bassa hound waiting for a stick to be thrown. The lines of his body were tense and eager, his eyes riveted on the saber He kept his hands at his sides, but his fingers flexed like they were itching to wrap themselves around the hilt. “It's a curious thing, the question of what makes a Jedi worthy,” the Temple Guard mused, glancing between us again and considering each of us in turn. “I imagine everyone you asked would have their own answer.”

    “What’s yours?” Noemi asked—a pretty good question, I thought, since he was the one deciding who was the Worthiest Jedi. (I always said Noemi was smart. Ok, be quiet. This is my journal and I can say she’s smart—and awesome and beautiful and whatever else I want.)

    “Ah….my answer… Well…” I could sense the twitch of a smile in his Force-presence. (See, I’m not the only one who thought it was a good question.) “I’d have to say that what makes a Jedi truly worthy isn’t how much they know or how well they fight, it’s how they serve the Force. A worthy Jedi is one who is always willing to help others, even when that other is disagreeable and inconvenient.” Was it just my imagination, or was he looking at me when he said that? Nah, I had to be imagining things; how could he know about the old guy we’d met in the dark? Next thing you knew I’d be saying things like “not to be immodest, but…”

    The Guard continued, “A worthy Jedi chooses the right battles to fight, but more than that, knows which battles don’t need to be battles in the first place.” This time I was sure he was looking at Noemi. Okay, so he knew about the kath hounds, too. Who was this guy—what was this guy—anyway?

    He turned the lightsaber hilt over in his hands, considering it now instead of us. Maybe he thought it would tell him whether any of us was worthy of it. I wouldn’t have been surprised, actually. Stranger things had happened—and that was just tonight. “You know,” he said at last, apparently done consulting with the Blade. “When I was a boy and I had a difficult decision to make, I always fell back on that old rhyme: ‘Loth-rat, Loth-cat, Loth-wolf, run…’” He pointed to each of us with the hilt as he recited the rhyme—Ben, Noemi, and then me. “But since then, I’ve learned that the answer is always ‘Loth-cat’.” And he laid the sleek silver hilt down.

    In front of Spots.

    “You know what to do with this, don’t you, friend?” the Temple Guard said, crouching down to stroke her head. Spots chirruped back, grinning like….well, like a Loth-cat. The Guard chuckled as he scratched her behind the ears and she melted into a puddle of furry bliss. Without another word to us, he stood and disappeared down the corridor that led into the mound, fading into the darkness the same way the old man had vanished earlier.

    Okay… I was not expecting that. Pretty sure Ben wasn’t, either.

    We all stood there like a bunch of nerf-brained moof-milkers staring at Spots as she sniffed the Blade of the Revanchist and carefully patted it with a paw. I wondered what exactly the Temple Guard expected her to do with it. I mean, she was pretty smart for a Loth-cat and all, but she couldn’t actually use it since she didn’t have any, you know, hands—or even opposable thumbs. Noemi seemed baffled, too. She kept trying to get Spots’s attention, but the Loth-cat was riveted by her investigation of the saber and ignored her in the “yes, I hear you—so?” way that cats do so well.

    “What…?! Wait, WHAT?!?” Ben managed to find his voice first. There was a wild gleam in his eyes that bordered on hysteria and I didn’t think it would take much to tip him all the way over. “Did he…did he just give the Blade of the Revanchist to a LOTH-CAT?!?!”

    Well, let’s see...the Blade was laying on the ground in front of the cat, so… “Um...yeah, it looks that way.”

    “But...but…” Ben stammered like a droid with a failing vocabulator, one who’d also discovered that reality lay outside of everything in its programming and had decided that reality must therefore be wrong. ”Only the worthiest…”.

    “Are you saying Spots isn’t worthy?” Noemi asked, her eyes narrowing a little. I guess Ben hadn’t figured out yet that the surest way to tick off a beast-warden is to insult her bond-beast.

    “JEDI!!” Ben exploded. He was past smoldery now, and on to incandescent. He paced the the three strides across the corridor like a caged nexu, roaring, “ONLY THE WORTHIEST JEDI CAN WIELD…”

    “...t’schoo!” The tiny sound of a Loth-cat sneezing on the Revanchist’s Blade broke into Ben’s tirade and froze him in his tracks. Spots ignored the way he glowered at her for this sacrilege, shook her head and thwacked the saber hilt with her paw so hard that it went spinning across the passage and hit the stone wall with a ‘ka-tang’ that echoed across the grasslands. The Blade caromed of the wall.

    It came to rest at my feet.

    “Only the worthiest Jedi can wield it.” Ben’s voice was hardly above a whisper now, and so full of longing that it hurt.

    I was only half aware that everyone, including Spots, was watching as I bent down and my fingers closed around the lightsaber. It felt pleasantly warm to the touch, so perfectly, gleamingly beautiful even after being lost for more than 4000 years—an exceptional saber for an exceptional Jedi, Dad had said. I could turn it on. I could prove once and for all that I wasn’t a nobody and a freak, prove that I was the worthiest Jedi, worthier than Ben Smoldery Solo with his stupid perfect hair and pretentious saber. Everyone would see it then. I held up the Blade.

    And I saw Ben’s face. The smoldering spark in his eyes had been extinguished, swamped by hopelessness. He gazed at the Blade like he was watching his last chance at happiness vanish in front of his eyes.

    The sunlight glinted on the saber as I tossed it into a high arc. “Here, catch.”

    Ben dove for it, but it fumbled out of his fingers as he snatched at it. He overbalanced and skidded onto his knees, barely managing to catch the Blade before it clattered to the ground. He clutched it in both hands, staring at it as if he couldn’t believe it was real. “You... You don’t want it?”

    I shrugged. “Nah, I’ve got a lightsaber, what do I need this one for?” Really, I had everything I could want—a pretty cool saber that made a great glowrod, an awesome family who were waiting for me back at home, and, of course, Noemi, the most beautiful girl in the Galaxy, who was smiling at me, teary-eyed. *Oh, Ronen…!*

    I thought about what the Temple Guard said-- that it was a Jedi’s service to the Force that made him worthy. Was I worthy? I hoped so. I tried to be, anyway (yeah, I know—there is no try). I did my best, but if I wasn’t worthy, having a fancy lightsaber wouldn’t make me any worthier, and if I was, did I really need the Blade to prove it?

    Ben knelt there, looking down at the saber in his hands for a long time without saying anything, and then he sagged, whatever spark was left in him draining like water spilled on sand. His head sank to his chest, the dark waves of his hair covering his face, and his arms fell to his sides, the Blade held limply in his right hand. “ I…can’t. I’m not worthy.” Ben’s voice was hollow; he didn’t look up as he spoke. “You heard what the Guard said. I didn’t help the old man; I didn’t even think about helping him. I was ready to kill the kath hound—to kill all of the hounds if that’s what it took to get here. I wanted the blade so that everyone would see that I was special, that I was the worthiest. But I’m not. I don’t deserve this.” Ben held the blade up to me.

    I closed his hand around it. “Keep it. If you really don’t want it, then give it back to the Temple, but, well, admitting your mistakes seems like a pretty worthy thing to me.” Behind us, the doorway into the mound was now glowing with a soft blue light. I took Ben’s hand and pulled him up. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
     
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Ronen is amazing! So amazing. He's thoughtful and unpretentious and REAL! [face_love] Noemi has every reason to love him to bits! The Guard is warm and gets them to really think about what it means to be worthy which Ronen completely gets. Ben's admitting his mistakes is indeed a huge step. @};-
     
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  3. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Well, well..... Looks like Benny-boy might not be a complete schmuck after all.
     
  4. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Can I, too, just take a moment to say how awesome Ronen is? Okay, yes, this is my comment, so I can say whatever I want here. :p He and Noemi were both pretty darn awesome already in the previous chapters, the way they respectively helped old Jolee and won the respect of the kath hounds, but his quality of character really shines here especially. First his humility when the mysterious, just-different enough temple guard (more on him in a bit) asks him to explain why he’s worthy. Second, when the Blade of the Revanchist lands beside him and he picks it up (and I love what you did there with the Guard giving it to Spots—the answer is indeed always “Loth-cat”!), he has the chance to finally show Ben up and give him a taste of his own medicine—but he doesn’t. He does the menschlich thing and more by not only offering the saber to Ben but also offering him words and gestures of encouragement. Third, this bit right here
    ...pretty much says it all, and it shows how much our hero’s self-confidence has grown over the course of this story. [face_love]

    But not only Ronen has grown here. We get to see Ben come to some important realizations here too, about his own actions and the true meaning of worthiness. He's beginning to get it, and I definitely agree that admitting one's mistakes is a pretty darn worthy thing! Something the Ben of even just an hour before this scene would have had real difficulty doing, even. This is a real turning point from him, and he couldn't be experiencing it in worthier company. @};-

    I like this "unfamiliarly familiar," non-Pau'an, interestingly helmeted temple guard! He's got that interesting little deadpan flair to his manner, especially in the way he speaks so earnestly about the familiar old Lothali rhyme (and yes, I did notice what you did there with which teen he points to for which Loth-beast ;) ) and turns the Big Decision over to Spots (I think I detect a hint of beastwardenism there). I hate to admit that I laughed at Ben's spluttery reaction, too! Yes, m'boy, he really did just give the Blade of Revanchist to a Loth-cat, and you're just going to have to deal. :p I have some inklings and guesses about this guard fellow, and I'll be eager to see if we learn more about him as the story goes on.

    What a wonderful moment of truth for our trio, and I can't wait to see what's next for them with their newfound spirit of understanding and friendship! =D=
     
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  5. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Awww, thanks! [face_love] I have to say that Ronen has turned out to be one of my favorite OCs; he may be awkward and self-conscious, but he has a good heart and he tries really hard to do the right thing. He’s sincere, whether it’s in his love for Noemi, his honesty to the Temple Guard, or offering the Blade to Ben. The Guard’s had a lot of time to consider the question, I guess it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that he’s someone who learned from experience what really matters in a Jedi’s (indeed in any person’s) character. Since this is the AU where everyone gets their happy endings, it seemed only fair to give Ben a shot at one, too. A little self-reflection is always a good thing, even if it can be painful.
    Not completely :) He does have a heart under all the smoldering and scowling, it’s just that he’s been doing the right things for the wrong reasons, and, well the boy’s got Issues (more on that in the next chapter!) This adventure is making him confront some of them and putting a crack in the Smoldery facade.
    Hey, are you teasing my Ro, here? ;) i’m glad you think he and Noemi were awesome in their trials. It’s their inate compassion that helps both of them pass—Noemi’s talent helps a lot, but it’s the fact that she deals with them kindly that makes all the difference. And again in this chapter, it’s Ronen’s compassion and empathy that let him see that the Blade is really only a symbol of the acceptance Ben has been seeking.
    The RSJVP’s really paid off, besides getting together with Ronen, Noemi’s achieved her bigger goal of helping him see the Ronen she sees. And he’s able to realize if he turns on the saber, it’ll be a momentary triumph for him (and one full of schadenfreude), but it’ll crush Ben.
    I think Ben realizes that if the roles were reversed, he wouldn’t have given the Blade to Ronen, and that is kind of a tipping point for him. That, along with the Guard’s reflections on worthiness make him reconsider his actions and what kind of Jedi he’s been versus the kind he wants to be. Self-reflection is a huge step for him, and then actually admitting that he’s made mistakes—very definitely a worthy thing, and another big step in a new direction for him.

    I knew you'd like him :D And I know that you've seen someone wearing a very similar mask to his...[face_thinking] I have to thank you for “the answer is always ‘Loth-cat’” and the suggestion that the Guard give the Blade to Spots; it was just too perfect an opportunity to make Ben headsplode to pass up :D There’s definite symbolism in the choice of Loth-beast, Noemi’s being the most obvious. I almost made Ronen the Loth-rat (as in a native Lothali, and a parallel to Ezra) but I decided I had to go with the courage and fortitude of the Loth-wolf—which of course Ro himself would deny.

    Thank you and thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm for our intrepid teens; they're getting close to the end of their journey now...
     
  6. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you as always to my beta-reader extraordinaire, @Findswoman @};-


    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, Space-time traveling padawan
    Centaxday, 10/11 3301


    As we stepped through the door into the barrow, there was a strange sort of rainbow shimmer, and if my lekku had been long enough, I would have crossed them in the superstitious Twi’lek gesture warding against bad luck. I hoped that now that Ben had the Blade of the Revanchist the Temple would send us back to Lothal, but the way things had been going so far, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we got dropped someplace even worse than we’d been—maybe ancient ruins infested with giant spiders or battle droids or giant spider battle droids.

    But I did not expect the door to lead to the conversation circle of a high-end apartment.

    It was one of those rooms that the kind of holo-mags you find in a medic’s waiting room describe as “understated” or “tastefully elegant” with “simple, classic lines”. (Okay, I live with an artist, I know more of these sorts of phrases than I probably should.) The long leather sofa and matching armchairs were upholstered in creamy, spotless white leather, so whoever lived here either didn’t have any kids or pets or else they had a team of super-efficient cleaning droids. The caf and end tables were geometrically precise ovals of golden-brown wood that had been polished to a mirror gloss; no caf stains marred them and no piles of flimsi or holoboks hid their shine. The floor was that same glossy golden wood softened by a thick, wooly rug that was either from an albino bantha or really huge sheep. It was as spotless as the sofa and as fluffy as if those super-efficient droids had freshly combed it. Several landscapes painted in muted shades of green and gold hung on the wall behind the sofa; I recognized one of them as a rare Alderaanian moss painting like the one Mom and Aunt Sabine had just returned to a group of survivors on New Alderaan.

    In short, it was nothing like my conversation circle back at home, where there was a jogan fruit juice stain on the couch from when I was three, the caf table usually had a couple of Ayelet’s art projects, Dad’s saber polishing kit, and Mom’s latest batch of reports sitting on it, and the art was a graffiti-style portrait of us that Aunt Sabine had made to match the ones she’d painted on the Ghost way back when.

    A Force-storm of emotion swirled through the tranquillity of the tastefully elegant setting. The vortex of conflicting feelings was centered on Ben; he looked around the room like he actually would’ve preferred the ancient ruins full of giant spider droids. “This is my apartment—my parents’ apartment on Coruscant, but—that lamp...” He broke off uncertainly, eyeing a lamp on the nearest end table that looked like it had been carved out of a single golden crystal. Ben tapped it with one finger, and it resonated with a high-pitched “tiiiiing”. “Chewbacca broke it at Mom and Dad’s Life Day party five years ago. Wookiees don’t do well at charades.”

    Before I could promise that I’d keep that in mind the next time I invited a Wookiee to a party (in the unlikely event I ever threw a party), a man and woman came into the room with the sort of quick, stiff strides that said they’d been having a serious conversation, where “serious” means “heated and bordering on angry”. He was dressed in white tesh-tunic and gray flannel pants. His hair was sticking up in places like he’d just gotten out of bed, and his seventeen-hundred-and-then-some shadow made him look a more than a little scruffy. The woman had long, dark brown hair that hung loose almost to her waist. She was wearing a silver-blue robe, and it took me a couple of seconds to realize I was seeing Chancellor Leia Organa-Solo in her dressing gown. Awkward...

    She trailed after the man, who was obviously her husband, General Solo (retired, of course, but once a general, always a general). “Han, we’ve been over this before—”

    “I know, I know.” He stopped halfway across the conversation circle and turned to face her, shaking his head. “But it still doesn’t seem right. He’s just a kid, sending him all the way to Lothal…”

    The incredulous look that had blossomed on Ben’s face when he saw his parents darkened into his trademark scowl, and his eyes smoldered with a fire I’d never seen in them before. “Sending me away already?” he demanded. “I might have expected that!” The Force-storm around Ben kicked up into a hurricane, and I swear his hair started blowing like there really was a wind. “I’m not a child! Don’t talk about me like I’m not even here!”

    Noemi laid a hand on his shoulder, and he jumped, rounding on her. “Ben,” she said quietly. “I don’t think they can hear you. I don’t think they even know we’re here.”

    It sure didn’t seem like it; neither of them so much as blinked when Ben shouted. The Chancellor gave General Solo a look that was both tired and pleading. “Han…”

    Chancellor Organa-Solo is supposed to be one of the most inspirational speakers in the Galaxy; Master Feipel made us watch the holo-recording of her famous “A New Hope” speech on the first anniversary of the Battle of Endor, and I can see why. But General Solo didn’t look like he wanted to listen to anything she had to say. He crossed his arms over his chest with a nerf-ish expression on his face. “It’s not like it used to be during the Old Republic. They allow the students’ families to live at the Jedi Academy now; I could go with him. I could...I dunno...I could have a jogan fruit orchard like Ezra.”

    The Chancellor raised an eyebrow in understated, elegant disbelief. “You, a farmboy?”

    “Okay, fine…” Solo shrugged, humph-ing like a disgruntled bantha. “I could fix ships or something, sell speeders...”

    “So you’d go with Ben and leave me here alone on Coruscant?”

    General Solo reached out to her, taking both of her hands and pulling her a step closer. “Then you come, too! It isn’t right for Ben not to be with his family. He’s not even ten years old yet.”

    Wait… not even ten? Apparently this time the Temple had sent us not just halfway across the Galaxy but almost ten years into the past. Great... Nice to know that it could mess with time as well as space. And then it occurred to me: if this was when Ben was not-quite-ten, that meant what the Chancellor and General Solo were talking about was sending him to Lothal for the first time. No wonder things were a little intense here if they weren’t on the same page about it. I could just imagine what it would be like if Mom and Dad disagreed about something that big—the phrases “fine,” “no, really, that’s fine”, and “I said it was fine” would be exchanged in increasingly chilly voices. I’d probably make myself invisible and sneak out about the second round of “fines”. It couldn’t be easy for Ben, watching his parents argue over him. I glanced over at him.

    “What?” A strange expression twitched across Ben’s face, and the tendrils of emotion that had been swirling around him in the Force him started tangling themselves into a huge, messy ball of confusion. Ben held out one hand, almost reflexively, and took half a step towards his parents. “What did he just say…?”

    Oblivious to him, the Chancellor sighed as she laid her head against General Solo’s shoulder and closed her eyes. “Oh, Han… I wish I could! You don’t know how much I wish I could learn more about using the Force. You don’t know how much I wish I could be the one teaching Ben how to use his Force-talents!”

    “So do it!” His arms tightened around her. “We’ll all go to the Academy; we’ll be together like a family should be.”

    “I can’t.” She disengaged herself from his embrace with a look of weary resignation. “You know I can’t just quit as chancellor. Teaching Jedi is Luke’s path in the Force, mine is keeping the Republic stable and in one piece. And you know you’d never be happy selling spare parts in a little shop on the Outer Rim, Han Solo.” The Chancellor poked him in the center of the chest with a wry smile. “Besides, Ben will be with his family. You know how much Luke and Annina love him, and he’ll have a new cousin soon, too.”

    The Chancellor turned away from General Solo, and stared out the apartment’s picture window, watching the endless stream of hover-cars zooming past In the sky lanes. ”It’s the best thing for him,” she said softly, and there was a wistful note in her voice that made me think she was trying to convince herself as much as him. “Ben can learn how to use his gift from people who care about him. He’ll have friends who won’t be afraid of him when he makes his toy ships fly by themselves. Kanan and Hera have a daughter the same age as him, and Ezra and Mara’s son is only a little younger. We’ll visit him every chance we get and comm him… it really is the best thing.”

    “I know.” General Solo put a arm around her shoulders. “But I’m gonna miss him.”

    “Me too,” the Chancellor whispered. They stood like that, looking out the window without saying anything, for a long moment before she stirred and took his hand. “Come on, Han. I want to make his favorite cyanoberry hotcakes for breakfast and make sure that we all have some time together before Luke arrives.”

    They slipped out of the conversation circle, and Ben watched them go like he was that not-quite-ten-year-old whose parents were leaving him for the first time. “I didn’t know,” he said, his voice husky. “All this time, I never knew they thought about coming with me. I thought they sent me away because they were afraid of me, too, the way I made things happen when I got angry. I thought they sent me to the Academy me to learn control, so I wouldn’t end up like my grandfather. I thought I had to be the best so I could prove I wasn’t like him. I thought if I did, they’d visit more often. That then they’d love me and take me home again.”

    Ben looked away from staring after his mom and dad, and turned back to me and Noemi with a hollow laugh. “All this time, I’ve been trying to achieve some unattainable ideal of worthiness”—his lips twisted into a sneer and he held up the Blade of the Revanchist for a moment before shoving it back into the folds of his robes more carelessly than he’d put away his five-credit glowrod—“because I thought that’s what they expected from me. I kept myself from seeing that all they really wanted was for me to be happy on Lothal.” He laughed again. “They thought we’d be friends; well, I’ve done a bang-up job with that, haven’t I?”

    “You know, it’s not too late,” Noemi said, taking a step towards Ben.

    He looked at her incredulously. “You’d want to be friends after I’ve been such a ...oh, what is it they say?”

    “Moof-milking idiot?” I suggested.

    *Ronen!* Noemi hissed like an annoyed Loth-cat and gave me the Look. Clearly she thought the term applied to me at that moment, too.

    *What? He asked!*

    Ben, however, actually smiled—like a real, actual smile, not his usual self-satisfied smirk, and it made him look almost like a regular person, not Master Smolderface, Best Jedi Ever. “Yes, that. Thanks. You’d want to be friends with a moof-milking idiot like me?”

    “I would.” She laid a hand on his arm and smiled, while Spots signaled her approval by winding herself around Ben’s ankles, purring and rubbing her head against his legs in the “I have found my new best friend!” routine that cats have (usually with people who don’t actually like cats, but that’s a cat for you). And Noemi glanced at me, one eyebrow sort-of, kind-of raised…

    “Me, too,” I answered. Oh, come on, what kind of moof-milking idiot would I have to be to say no after all this? After learning that my life seemed perfect to him, that as much as I envied him for his looks and talents, he envied me for my family? After realizing that in a lot of ways we were a lot alike, always feeling like outsiders, even freaks, and always overshadowed by our famous parents and what people expected of us because of that. So, yeah, of course I said yes, now that I’d seen there was a real person underneath the smoldery exterior. I put my hand on his shoulder.

    And the apartment started to fade out, blurring from white and gold to gray, the same misty gray nothing from earlier, and the floor started to shake beneath us. The grayness grew darker and thicker as the ground rose, spiraling upwards. We jostled together into a three-padawan-one-cat sandwich—good thing we all liked each other now. I could just hear Spots give a startled “yow!” and Ben exclaim “What…?!” over the creaking, grinding noises of ancient gears and stone rubbing against stone. The darkness solidified into gray stone walls of a circular chamber ringed with columns.

    Two of the columns framed a passageway, and at the end of it, the tall figure of a man was silhouetted against the rose-gold light of the sunrise. He called out, “Ronen?”

    I made a noise that wasn’t quite a laugh, and nearly sagged to my knees, limp with relief, giddy with happiness, overwhelmed with...everything.

    It was Dad.

    We were home.
     
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  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh delightful! Ben really needed to see/hear that. It absolutely opened his eyes and heart to the reality of the situation: the fact that it was heart-wrenching to send him away and that his Mom, particularly, struggled with her conflicting obligations. :(

    Beautiful how they all came together as ready to be friends and the last line. [face_relieved] =D=
     
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  8. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    Wonderful and very touching chapter. @};- In a way this is Ben's "trial" from the temple, the way Jolee was Ronen's and the kath hounds were Noemi's. But in a way, it's not a trial so much as a revelation, a new perspective—not so much a test of worthiness as a much-needed gentle reminder that "worthiness" isn't everything. And that is what Ben needs right now more than any sort of test, especially given that he's kind of treated his whole Jedi schooling experience as a test of worthiness already, and done so out of a feeling of having been abandoned and sidelined by his loved ones. The vision he sees now is very much a corrective to that, and a reassurance to him.

    The Pensieve-like memory scene between Han and Leia is absolutely incredible. I love the description of the Solo family's upscale Coruscanti conversation circle and the stark contrast with the Syndulla-Jarruses more chaotic, lived-in conversation circle. That right there already says so much about the two very different worlds Ben and Ronen come from, though as we soon find out there is love galore for them in both. But I especially just LOVE that Han is the one that expresses concern about sending Ben away alone and who advocates going with him—even to the point of switching over to hugely un-Han-like pursuits like growing orchards or selling used speeders! (And I too don't think he'd really be happy in either of those lines of work. :p ) Han knows a thing or two about being abandoned by family, after all (in both his Legends and Canon stories). Yes, Ben will be "with his family," but it really isn't the same, as we saw Ronen observe a few chapters back. (A word here about that new cousin about to come into Ben's life: in a way that might aggravate things, since no sooner do his parents send him away than someone else is going to come along and threaten to displace him from his central place in his aunt and uncle's heart. I remember being there myself, at right about the same age that Ben would have been in the time of the vision.)

    Then we see what's really behind this in Leia's heart: she really and truly wishes she could go with Ben and train him herself, but because that is not possible, she sees Lothal as the second best thing for Ben: a place where he will have friends and teachers who understand him and his talents. It's just a difficult and bittersweet situation all around, with no ideal solution—but at least Ben now understands how bittersweet it was, and that it wasn't about his parents trying to be rid of him out or fear or anger.

    And knowing even just that makes all the difference, opening the way to those very friendships his parents had been hoping for for him. [face_love] Noemi and Ronen again don't think twice about responding in the menschlich way and welcoming him to their hearts as a friend, forgiving his moof-milking idiocy. Because now they, too, have seen where all of that came from. I love Ronen's realization here:

    ...because it is so completely and absolutely true! I think both these very different-yet-alike boys have passed an important trial here in realizing their commonalities, and it's a real crowning moment for the story as a whole. And seeing Kanan at the end and knowing they're out of that crazy place and home for real... what an amazing moment after all these three have been through! And definitely occasion for the "face_relieved" emoji: [face_relieved].

    Again, congratulations on a fantastic chapter, full of reconciliation, newfound understanding, and "beginnings of beautiful friendships"! =D=
     
  9. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you! [:D] I wanted Ben to have his shot at “happily ever after”, too, and to do that he had confront the fact that he’s been working from a child’s misunderstandings of events for his whole life. I think it can be easy for families to fall into these kind of patterns and assume that everyone has the same view of things when really they don’t. Kids can have a view of their parents as stern, even mean or arbitrary when they’re trying to handle difficult issues. sometimes you don’t understand why your parents did something a certain way until you become a parent and then it all becomes clear! One thing I really liked about the book Last Shot were the scenes where Han is really doing his best to be a good dad to Ben, but doesn’t quite know how. I wanted to kind of reframe the “Han and Leia as neglectful parents” idea and have them really love their son, and be doing the best they could for him even though it’s a situation with no easy answers.
    I agree that this is Ben’s trial; in a way, it’s as much of a trial of his character as much as Ronen and Noemi’s trials were. His “test” is how he chooses to react to this newfound understanding, and it’s to Ben’s credit that he is touched by it an starts to open up and reach out to Ronen and Noemi. And they respond to him with friendship and compassion —it’s no accident that this is the moment the Temple concludes their trials. Finding the Blade might have been the catalyst, but the three of them have discovered something even more important than an artifact.

    Aww, thanks! Part of it comes from my fascination with building homes and families in The Sims, because the Sim Organa-Solos Have this very sleek, modern home, where the Sim S-J’s have the kids’ drawings up on the walls and clutter on the tables. With Leia’s predilection for white, I could seen her with a pristinely, un-lived-in looking conversation circle, and she probably does have an army of cleaning droids, while Chopper Doesn’t Do That. :chopper: Again, I loved the scenes of Daddy Han in Last Shot and even in TFA, I felt that he really did love his son. I think, like Ezra, family means a lot to him since he didn’t have one, to the point where he’s willing to consider some far-fetched ways they can all stay together (and now I sort of want to write a story where he does sell used speeders:p) And as you note, the timing makes things especially difficult, not only for Ben who feels replaced by his new cousin after being abandoned by his parents, but for Luke and Annina, who, as much as they love Ben and want him to be happy, have to put their new child first.

    Nothing to add here, so I’ll just say : this.

    All three of them have a lot in common, most of all the feeling of being overshadowed by their parents and unseen for who they are themselves—though a lot of that is more their feelings than reality, as Ronen and Ben are starting to see. Now that they really see one another, they’re ready to come home and start a new chapter in their lives.

    Thanks so much! And thank you for your unfailing support and encouragement for this story! [face_love]
     
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  10. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Thank you to @Findswoman for beta-reading @};-


    Noemi’s Journal (I faced the Jedi Council and lived to tell about it!)
    12/11 3301


    I don’t think the Northern Plains ever looked as beautiful as they did Centaxday morning when we left the Temple. The sun was just coming up; ribbons of pink and orange clouds stretched across the sky and the frost-covered grass shimmered gold in the light of the sunrise. I could hear the plainsfowl chip-chap-chirping as they bustled through the tall grass looking for seeds, and a pocket hare stood up on its hind legs, looking around, only to fall over, startled, and scramble back to its burrow when Spots came tearing out of the Temple like a wildcat. *Free! Free! Fresh air! Sun!* She frolicked through the grass, leaping and gamboling like a kitten. I laughed, but, really, I could have done the same. There was so much beauty and life and joy that the Force sang with it.

    Everyone was there: Mom, Dad, Uncle Luke, Uncle Kanan, Aunt Hera, Jacen, Ayelet, even Caleb. And everyone was hugging us and laughing and crying all at once, at least until it sank in that, yes, we were really real and really safe, and then the “What did you think you were doing”-s began. I don’t remember if it was Uncle Kanan or Mom who started it (Possibly both of them at once. Jedi are good at that kind of not-coincidental coincidences). I looked over at Ronen, who was standing in the midst of his family; how much did we say about why we’d been in the Temple the night before? Because it kind of didn’t seem fair to pin all the blame on Ben, even if it was his—well, I don’t want to say “his fault”, not after everything that happened and everything we learned about him—so maybe I should just say even if he was the reason we’d gone to the Temple in the first place.

    But we didn’t have to say anything; Ben answered for us. “It’s not their fault. It was my idea to go looking for this.” He pulled the Blade out of his robes; it gleamed golden in the sunrise’s warm glow. “Ronen and Noemi just followed me to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. Anything else stupid.” The corners of Ben’s mouth lifted almost imperceptibly. Who knew he had a sense of humor hidden under all the smolder?

    “Is that...the actual Blade of the Revanchist?” Dad boggled. Ben had been haranguing him and Uncle Kanan about possible Hidden Treasures of the Jedi Temple, including the Blade, for weeks until they both started to find Pressing Jedi Business to attend to whenever they saw him headed their way. They’d tried to convince Ben that even if this lightsaber really existed, it wasn’t some fairytale hero’s sword that could only be claimed by one special, ultra-worthy Jedi, but I could tell from the look that passed between them that they were wondering if maybe there was more truth to Ben’s old legends than they’d thought.

    “It is. The Temple should keep it.” Ben held it out to Uncle Kanan, who looked just as gobsmacked as Dad did as his hand slowly closed around the hilt. “I never could have found it without Ronen and Noemi’s help.”

    Mom looked at Dad; Dad looked at Uncle Kanan; Uncle Kanan looked at Uncle Luke, who looked back at him. Five Jedi Masters shared incredulous glances and probably hasty mental conversation and then… “What….?!” “How…?!” “Where…?!”

    Later.” Thank the Force for Aunt Hera. She stepped into the middle of the their five-way mental holo-conference, lips pursed with a no-nonsense expression on her face and laid a hand on Ronen’s shoulder, reminding them that they might be Jedi, but she was still Ro’s mom. “These three have been tested by the Temple for over eight hours—and we’ve been out here for most of that time. You can ask them all the questions you want after everyone’s had a chance to rest.” Aunt Hera’s probably one of the only non-Jedi who could get away with telling half the Jedi Council to go home and go to bed, but I guess when you’re wife, surrogate mother, and general to them, you can do that. There were sheepish, murmured agreements, and, oh good skies, I can’t tell you how good home and bed sounded once she mentioned it.

    Everyone was pretty quiet as we made our way back to the Academy Complex; I don’t think I was the only one who suddenly realized how tired I was. Ronen yawned and scrubbed a hand over his eyes and back through his hair. I’m not sure you could actually say he messed it up, since messy is pretty much the natural state of his hair, but I had the sudden urge to straighten it for him—push it out of his face, tuck it behind his ears...maybe just run my fingers through it a little while I was doing it… Ro looked over at me, as if he’d caught the stray edge of that thought. His lekku stripes flushed a little darker orange and his right lek swayed, another almost, not-quite “yes” in lekku. He ducked his head to hide the fact that flush was creeping to his cheeks, but he was smiling as he did and he held his hand out to me.

    “So what’s this, then, little brother?” Jacen swooped down on Ronen like a Loth-bat, if Loth-bats grinned and had green hair, to give him a serious noogie (why my Spectre cousins think that is the ultimate gesture of manly affection, I’ll never understand).

    “Uh...well…” Ronen was almost as red as a blumfruit as he hastily put his hair back in its usual disarray. “Noemi and I… are sort of...together.” He sneaked a look at me that was equal parts “sorry my brother is such a moof milker” and “OMF, please let her agree”.

    I don’t know if he thought I might have changed my mind already, like maybe I’d only said I loved him because we going to die in the Temple or something, but he should have known better. It hadn’t changed and it wouldn’t; the Force hummed for us. When the power that binds the universe together signals its approval, you be crazy to let that go. I took Ronen’s hand. “We’re definitely together.”

    Ayelet made a high-pitched noise that sounded like “squeeeeeeeee!” “I knew it!” she said, grinning as she reached over to tousle Ronen’s hair until it stuck out in a dozen different directions at once. “I told you being best friends was a good thing!”

    Wait, she told him…? Once again, I wondered if everyone in the Galaxy had seen it but me. Had my family seen it, too? Or...a little tendril of dread wormed its way into my brain. None of them had been any too thrilled with me going out with Ben. What if…? No, they’d be happier with Ro, right? Because he was, well, Ro. They’d known him forever. They liked him, didn’t they? They had to! I dared a look back at them.

    Caleb was smirking, of course; when he saw me looking, his smirk turned into a grin and he winked. Mom and Dad were looking at each other, eyebrows raised, and Mom was radiating “oh. Good. SKIES”, but at least neither of them seemed to be unhappy. In fact, they were kind of...smiling?... and so was Aunt Hera and even Uncle Kanan (in a “wait, what just happened here?” kind of way). And Spots was grinning the way only a gloating Loth-cat can. *I told you this one was better.*

    ---------

    It turns out that when you’ve spent the whole night being tested by the Jedi Temple, your parents let you stay home from school the next day. (Caleb complained that he had to go even though he’d been up all night waiting for me. Dad told him that he’d be sure to make me go to school if Caleb ever faced his own trials in the Temple so that we’d be even; Caleb did not find that amusing.) Of course, part of the reason we got to stay home was so that we could go to the Council’s inquisition or debriefing or whatever they decided to call it so that we could tell them all about Everything That Happened.

    None of us actually told them everything, though. It’s not like what happened between me and Ronen really mattered to the story of how we found the Blade, anyway (and not like it was any of the Council’s business!) I was a little worried that Ben might decide to fill them in on how he found us “playing kissy-face”, but he skipped over that part of it, too. Ronen and I let Ben tell the Council about our visit to or vision of his apartment on Coruscant, and if he didn’t mention everything his parents said, we didn’t feel like we needed to say anything either. Like I said, some things are just too personal. I’m pretty sure they knew we were leaving things out, but no one called us on it, so we must have told them all the important parts.

    I felt a little sorry for Ben, though; it was awkward enough for me to answer all their questions and A.) I’m related or practically related to everyone except Jedi Leonis, Pypey and Kell and he only had Uncle Luke there for him and B.) Ro and I just followed along while Ben was the one who decided to sneak off and go looking for the Blade in the first place. But he owned up to it and was incredibly honest about our trials with the old man and the kath hounds, and our encounter with the Temple Guard, and most of all, he was was honest about what he’d realized about a Jedi’s true worth and his own perpetual quest for worthiness. I’m not sure I could have been brave enough to do that, even with an audience of mostly family.

    I didn’t know if there was going to be some sort of official verdict at the end, if the Council was going to—I don’t know, make us peel topatoes in penance or take away our lightsabers and attend remedial Jedi classes in punishment for sneaking out at night and making the Temple seal itself off for the first time in twenty years, but in the end, they commended us for showing the character of true Jedi, rising to the challenges the Temple set for us, and learning about ourselves and each other in the process. They thanked Ben for selflessly returning one of the Jedi’s treasures to the Temple, and then they adjourned for refreshments.

    I don’t know if it’s standard procedure at their meetings for the Battlemaster to provide tea and Wookiee cookies or if Grandma just baked them because we were there, but from what Grandpa has said, it’s definitely not the way the Old Order’s Jedi Council used to wrap up their sessions. From everything he’s told me about his Jedi trials and being summoned in front of the Council afterwards, my first official appearance in front of the full Council was a piece of ryshcate—with syrup and candied citron on top!

    I guess it’s true that the Force moves in mysterious ways. I could never have guessed when Ro and I followed Ben into the Temple that we’d really find the Blade of the Revanchist and that our names would wind up in Jedi history for recovering it! And who’d have ever thought that the Temple’s trials would bring us all together as friends—and, better yet, that that’s what it would take for me and Ronen to finally admit how we feel about each other?

    Not bad for one night, huh? ;-)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Delicious blend of teasing and recapping /debriefing ;) [:D] I ADORE the entire Bridger/Jarrus/Blayne etc. extended families. :D
     
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  12. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    All together again! What a wonderful, life-affirming reunion. [:D] All three of our teens' spirits must have been lifted by seeing their loved ones out there welcoming them with open arms and hugs and tears and laughter, each parent and sibling and uncle in his or her own way. Even the "what the actual karabasting Sam Hill were you thinking?!" aspect of things must not have felt so bad; it's manifestly clear that no one is blaming anyone, just expressing very understandable concern. Still, with all these three have been through (definitely not at all bad for one night!), it’s a good thing Aunt General Hera steps in to put the kybosh on the question-asking till everyone has had a good night’s rest. :hera: [face_love]

    Ronen’s siblings and “cousins” sure are perceptive, aren’t they? ;) All he does is sign a little “Yes I said yes I will Yes” and look back at Noemi with just that specific light in his eyes, and they pick right up on it—of course, the whole Jedi mind-speech thing doesn’t hurt. ;) I knew they’d be super happy for him, because this one really is much better—and apropos this:

    Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know, I know! :zeb: :D

    Ben is fantastic too; he truly has come "a long way from Amphioxus." Both before the family members and before the council, he is completely honest and forthcoming about everything that happened and is willing to admit that he and his semi-misguided quest for the B of the R were the main reasons any of it happened to begin with. And he doesn’t rat on Ro and Noemi’s kiss, either—that’s how we really know he’s become “one o’ the good ‘uns”! :D At this point I’m guessing he’s just as happy for them as their parents and siblings are. (I can tell they are, even with Mara’s “oh good skies” reaction. :D)

    Even the Great Big Fat Hearing is wonderful. Here, too, everyone present clearly is supportive, congratulatory, and very proud of these three. Once again Ben shows honesty and character, though I totally understand his not wanting to spill everything about his vision of his parents; some of the experiences in the temple really were meant to be just for each of them, and no doubt the council members understand that. (Chuffed to see Pypey and Dara Leonis among their ranks, too! :) ) The closing celebratory Wookiee cookies and tea—made by none other than Grandma Battlemaster Raissa—is the perfect wrap-up, and yes, I am pretty certain Old-Order-era council meetings did not end that way.

    So yes, new love + new friends + new understanding of the meaning of Jedihood + family + kickass ancient artifacts + Loth-cats = definitely not at all bad for one night! Definitely time for a good night’s sleep and some very sweet dreams for all these dears. Thanks so much for this joyful and wonderful wrap-up to this Big Adventure, and as always I can’t wait to read more about these dear teens—especially now that they’re Official Official! :D [face_love]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  13. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Aww, thanks! [:D] [face_love] I love them all, too. They’re just one big, noisy, sprawling, but (usually) happy space!family with all the cousins and aunts and uncles and in-laws—but underneath it all, they really love one another. It’s so much fun to give them this kind of family life.

    Thanks! Yes, they’re all happy to see their family members, hugs and kisses and tears and all. As a parent, I definitely relate to the dual “i’m So glad you’re safe/what the heck were you thinking?!?” dynamic, because they had to have wondered exactly what happened to make the Temple behave that way Kanan and Ezra can certainly appreciate that it’s got a mind of its own, and Mara and Luke have had their own experiences with Force nexuses (nexi?). But it’s a good thing they’ve got Hera there to balance them out; they’re concerned with the Mystical Jedi Stuff, while she’s grounded in the here and now. Sleep, first, questions after!

    Jedi sibs and cousins—they know what you’re thinking before you do! Of course, Jacen knew how Ronen felt about Noemi before this, so I don’t think it took much for him to put two and two together here... And Ayelet and Caleb probably have some pretty strong inklings as well. I knew you’d appreciate the origins of Fraternal Noogies. (And now I want to do a story where the non-Jedi cousins get in on the fun. I but Mandos are good at noogies, too:D)

    Ben’s learned a lot from this adventure—about himself, his family, about being a good Jedi and a friend—and he’s taken it to heart. It may take him a while to truly get past his smolderiness and all the misconceptions he’s had, but admitting it is the first step. He might be just a touch wistful about Ronen and Noemi’s new relationship, but overall I think he’s happy and wants to work towards a friendship with them. (And Mara is happy, too. It’s more of a “My little girl is growing up” because she may realize better than anyone how serious this could turn out to be hummmmmmm ;) )

    I don’t think it takes them long to realize that even if Ben didn’t go about his quest in the most forthright manner, he meant no real harm, and the Temple was acting not so much to protect itself and it’s treasures as to test him (and the others), the way it tested Ezra and Kanan so many years before. And Headmaster Blayne at least understands that some things aren’t meant for the full Jedi Council to hear, given their overall honesty in sharing their experiences. I had to get a couple Jedi who weren’t related on the Council and Dharra and Pypey would be some of the older and more experienced Jedi by now. I like to think that Raissa does bake cookies for every meeting, just for contrast with the Way Things Used to Be Done :D (Mace and Yoda sipping tea—crack!fic, anyone?)

    Thanks! More coming right up—our last installment, in fact![/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
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  14. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    So this is it, the last entry in our Jedi teens’ journal... I want to say a huge thank you to my dear friend and the Most Awesome Beta-Reader Ever, @Findswoman [face_love] @};- Thank you so much for all your encouragement, support, and help keeping me on track. I couldn’t have done this without you!

    —————
    Journal of Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus, star of stage and… well, just stage
    Benduday, 27/11 3301


    NLUPS’s production of “An Estival Solstice Reverie” was last night and tonight, and through some sort of miracle of the Force, it all came together. Zofi made it all the way through her speech and managed to sound like a fairy queen instead of an annoyed prep school student. Ozrei only missed one cue, which wasn’t too noticeable. And I wasn’t… well, okay, yeah—I was nervous. There were a lot of people in the audience. It seemed like half the population of Jogan Grove and Graylor Flats was there, along with everyone from the Academy. That’s a lot of eyes watching, especially for someone who’s used to being invisible and ignored. But I centered myself in the Force and focused, just like I did when I auditioned, and just like it had then, everything clicked and nothing mattered except the moment—and Noemi.

    OMF, she looked so beautiful! Yeah, she’s always beautiful, but I’d never seen her like that before, in this old-fashioned Naboo-style dress that was all flowy and shimmery in shades of blue and green that brought out the sky-blue of her eyes. Her hair was all pinned up except for a few loose curls around her face, and I just wanted to touch those curls and wind them around my fingers and...yeah… (I know Noemi doesn’t dress up much, but I kind of hope she’ll wear her hair like that again someday). It was all I could do not to kiss her backstage, and I meant every word of Lisandro’s lines just for her.

    We got a standing ovation and three curtain calls, and the applause when Noemi and I took center stage and bowed together—I know Jedi aren’t supposed to seek recognition, but I have to say, it felt pretty good. And I never could have done it without Noemi. I never would have done it if it hadn’t been for her and the Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus Visibility Project. It turned out to be way more successful than I ever thought it would be! I’d say I’m definitely visible now, and it turns out that sometimes being visible isn’t such a bad thing, because if you’re always invisible, no one can get to know you, and more importantly, you never get to know them. I’ve made some new friends thanks to the RSJVP: Rosmyn, Kaia, Tierné—and Ben.

    He came to the play tonight with Master Skywalker and his family, and afterward, he stopped to congratulate me and Noemi. He even brought an Ithorian rose for her (which gave me a momentary pang of something not so pleasant, even though I know he doesn’t feel that way about her and never really did. Emotion, yet peace…) “I wanted to let you both know that I’m going to be taking some time off from the Academy,” Ben said. “I’ve been discussing things with Uncle Luke and Masters Jarrus and Blayne, and they’ve agreed to let me take a sabbatical to Coruscant to spend some time with my parents. I’ve been talking to Mom and Dad by holocomm every day since our trials in the Temple, but I think I really need to spend some time with them to get things right.”

    “That sounds like a great idea.” Noemi smiled and hugged him. “Nothing's more important than family.”

    “Nothing’s more important than family” is Uncle Ezra’s motto; he used to remind all of us Spectre cousins of it when we were little and we’d had enough of each other and gone into “stop touching/looking at/breathing on me!” mode. I don’t think any of us really got it back then—family was just there: cousins and siblings to annoy you and the grownups to take care of you—but I’m starting to get it now. Uncle Ezra may be the one who says it most often, but Mom and Dad live it, too. I think they’d do anything for me, Ayelet and Jacen. It turns out my sibs are pretty cool and actually know what they’re talking about most of the time. And my cousins are cool, too, some more than others (or maybe I should say one is especially cool, in a totally non-cousin way). So, yeah, nothing is more important than the people you love; I think Ben and his mom and dad understood that, even if the way they’d expressed it had been kind of at cross-purposes sometimes. I punched Ben on the shoulder the way Jacen always does to me (except not as hard since he didn’t grow up with an older brother and a bunch of enthusiastically punchy cousins across the Galaxy). “I hope you get everything worked out together.”

    “Thanks.” Ben rubbed his shoulder, with an expression like he couldn’t decide whether he was pleased or annoyed by the gesture. (Yeah, I know the feeling. Welcome to the family, Ben.) “Oh, and I almost forgot… I’ve been doing some research.” He pulled a datapad out of his satchel and brought an image up on its screen—an old mask made of dark gray iron, solid and blocky, with a thick rusty-bronze band above its eye slit, and a trapezoid shape below the slit and blazes on each cheek made of the same dark red metal. “Does this look familiar?”

    It did. “Hey, that’s the same design as the one the Temple Guard who had the Blade was wearing!”

    “It’s a recreation of the mask Revan wore. The original was lost along with his lightsaber.”

    “Wait, you mean the Guard was...Revan? That’s…” I started to say “impossible” but was it really? I mean, Dad encountered the redeemed spirit of the Grand Inquisitor in the Temple, Uncle Ezra was able to contact Yoda on the other side of the Galaxy from there, and the whole place seemed to be kind of sentient, enough to come up with visions and trials specific to each person. So who was to say what was impossible for it? Maybe having the real, actual Force-presence of one of the greatest heroes (and villains) in Jedi history hanging out there to guard his lightsaber was just another ho-hum feature for our strange Temple. “I guess that’s why the Guard seemed so familiar,” I told Noemi later, after we’d changed out of our costumes and were getting ready to head to the cast party at Flossie and Delzina’s.

    “Maybe,” Noemi said, but she frowned a little, looking unconvinced. “Okay, I know this is going to sound crazy, but he reminded me of my dad, somehow...something about his voice or presence...” She shook her head as she slung her satchel on the back of my jump speeder. “I never could quite put my finger on it.”

    “Huh.” Well, I hadn’t been able to put my finger on why he’d seemed so familiar, either, but I couldn’t say I’d noticed anything particularly Uncle Ezra-ish about him—except that he apparently really liked Loth-cats. I didn’t spend too much time pondering it, though; I had something more pressing than Revan on my mind. “I...um...have something for you, Noemi.” I opened my speeder’s left pannier and was relieved to find that the bouquet of jogan blossoms and starflowers I’d bought for her hadn’t been squashed too badly on the trip to NLUPS. I fluffed the flowers up as much as I could without knocking any of their petals off. “I guess I probably should have gotten roses…” The pink and white jogan blossoms had seemed perfect when I’d picked them out, pretty but not showy, just like Noemi. But now, compared to the Ithorian rose Ben had given her, with its delicately curved petals shading from cerulean to midnight blue, I wondered if they were too plain,too sturdy and too ordinary—like what kind of guy gives his girlfriend flowers off a tree anyway? Especially flowers she could pick in her own backyard?

    “No, these are my favorite!” Noemi exclaimed as she took the bouquet. She buried her face in the blossoms and inhaled deeply, her eyes closing with a smile of pure rapture. “I love the way they smell.”

    “Me too.” Of course, that was because Noemi’s hair smelled like them, and for a moment I imagined pressing my lips against her hair, still pinned up in ancient Naboo style, and breathing in the heady scent just the way she had with her bouquet, feeling the petal softness of her curls, and… before I got too carried away, there was something else I needed to do. Focus, Ro… Right. “I have something else for you, too.” I reached back into the pannier and pulled out a gold box box tied with a satyn ribbon, also gold. Not as big a box as I would have liked; who knew candy was that expensive? (Not that Noemi isn’t completely worth it, but the “mini-sampler” seemed kind of underwhelming.) “I had Jacen pick these up the last time he was in Garel City.”

    “D’ogiva chocolates?!” She took the box in astonishment. “Ro, you didn’t have to do this!”

    “Yeah, actually I did...it was part of our bet, remember? If you got me a date for the Life Day fete, I had to get you a box of chocolates.” I had to smile, remembering how it all started, and how close I’d come to laughing off Noemi’s wager with a “yeah, whatever…” The only reason I hadn’t was because I figured there was no way I was ever going to have to buy her chocolates, because there was no way even Noemi could convince a girl to go to the fete with me. I never imagined she would be the one going with me. Except... “So, it occurred to me that I haven’t actually officially asked you if you’ll go to the fete with me...so, um….” And why did I feel like a total stammering moof-milker all of a sudden? I mean, Noemi and I were dating, so she was going to say yes, right? Though so far “dating” was a lot like hanging out as best friends except with more kissing and hand-holding (not that I am complaining, by any means) and this would be a real, honest-to-goodness, dressing-up-and-going-out date...

    Noemi laid the chocolates and jogan blossoms on the seat of my speeder bike and looped her arms around my waist. She raised an eyebrow at me, and the corner of her mouth quirked up into that cute half-smile she has that makes her eyes light up with blue-green sparks. “Well, you don’t think I’m going to let any of the other girls go with my boyfriend, do you?”

    Boyfriend. Maybe someday I’ll be so used to hearing Noemi call me that it won't make me grin like a Loth-cat, but at that moment I’m I’m pretty sure my smile rivaled Spots’s the time she found where Noemi hid the cat treats. “Yeah, but why would I want any of them when the most beautiful girl in the Galaxy already said yes.” I put my arms around her and started to pull her towards me. “That was a ‘yes’, right?”

    Noemi laughed. “It was definitely a ‘yes’!” She reached up to brush my hair—still kind of a mess even though I’d used hair gel to make it look presentable for the play—out of my face. Her smile softened as she tucked the unruly strands in place. “It’s always a ‘yes’.”

    And as she tucked the hair back behind my ears, Noemi’s fingers brushed my lekku, ever so slightly… and I couldn’t help myself; I pulled Noemi close and kissed her, while the Force sparked and hummed around us.

    It turns out that the Force does that whenever we kiss. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. It’s not exactly one of those aspects of the Force they talk about at the Academy, even if we don’t have the non-attachment doctrine anymore. (And given that I’m related to a lot of the instructors, I’m just as glad it’s not. How awkward would that class be?) Noemi thinks that the hum means the Force approves of us being together, and I kind of like that idea. Because for me, with Noemi it’s always “yes”, too. It’s always been “yes”, no matter what crazy thing she’s proposed, from teaching younglings Force-levitation to betting that she could get me a date for the Life Day fete, and I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon. Or ever.

    ——

    This is actually the last journal entry I have to write—-next week we start reviewing for finals and after that we’re off for festival week. It’s kind of strange to think that I won’t have to keep track of everything that happens to me like this anymore. I don’t know if Mistress Eupraxia plans on having us continue our journals next semester or not. Maybe I’ll keep one of my own even if she doesn’t have the whole class doing it. Maybe…

    I feel like I should end this the way I started and say something about myself, because it sounds crazy, but when I re-read those old entries, it’s almost like they were written by someone else. I guess in a lot of ways I am a different person than I was then.

    I still don’t know if I can sum myself up in just one word. I guess “half-and-half” still works, but I know now what word doesn’t describe me: freak. Noemi was right all along; I need to stop thinking of myself that way, because it’s not like other people do. (Except maybe Dack, but he’s a nerf’s posterior, so who cares what he thinks?)

    So, this is me in a yubnut shell: Ronen Syndulla-Jarrus. Half Human, half Twi’lek. Prep school student. Jedi padawan.

    Star of the school play.

    Hero of the Jedi Temple’s trials (one of four).

    Noemi Bridger’s boyfriend.

    How awesome is that?
     
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  15. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Delightful that the play went off so spectacularly and that Ben is going to spend time with his folks. He and Ro and Noemi really are on a great friendship-track. No hard feelings at all! Beautiful. And Ro and Noemi are just scrumptious with one another. He's still got that "I can't believe it, we're together" feeling, and I adore it! :D

    It has been a true joy to read of Ro's journey of growth and self-acceptance and that he and Noemi are together. This has also been about Ben's journey of realization. Bravo on combining adventure, friendship, personality growth, romance, and laughter all in one ginormous epic! LOL [:D]
     
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  16. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    Me likey mucho. But now I'm curious how things with Ben are gonna develop from here.
     
  17. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing] RONEN!! [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing]
    And
    [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing] NOEMI!! [face_dancing] [face_dancing] [face_dancing]

    Oh, what a splendiferous wrap-up to this wonderful tale of growth, friendship, love, and adventure! The way the Jakspeeir play all comes together in the end is emblematic of the way the story itself comes together: both our Lisandro and our Erminia are so much more self-confident than even back when they auditioned, and they are totally secure in their feelings for each other this time. What’s more, this opportunity to be a “star of just stage” is a fitting culmination for the RJSVP, reminding Ronen just how visible he actually is and that visibility is a good thing. Though I stilll don’t blame him for being a little nervous with that big audience! (I still love Graylor Flats—very cool tribute there! :ezra:)

    And Ben came to see the play. [face_love] Of course he did! The rose for Noemi was a sweet, classy touch (though there too I don’t blame Ro for a moment of apprehension). He’s grown so much, too, with a new sense of priorities as he prepares to reconnect with his family during his sabbatical year; that will be a much-needed, much-appreciated bonding time for him and his folks. It’s also fun to see him as Ro and Noemi’s Studious, Bookish Friend, and with his deep knowledge of Jedi history (which I never for a moment doubted) he’s able to offer a partial solution to the puzzle of the mysterious, masked, cat-loving temple guard: that was none other than the Revan! And I’m making note of Noemi’s little hunch, because she’s right: there definitely was certain an Ezra-like quality to him. [face_thinking]

    Of course the heart of the chapter is the lovely romantic scene between Ronen and Noemi—SQUEEEEE! [face_love] They are so much more secure with each other now, so much more confident in their own feelings, and it’s so beautiful to see! It comes through in all the little things they do and thoughts they think as they talk and laugh and hug and cuddle and finally KISS. (MMMMMMMM!) What sweet gifts from Ronen: her favorite flowers (and now I’m imagining a GFFA Language of Flowers in which jogan blossoms mean something even better and more sincere than a Ithorian rose), plus those D’ogiva chocolates that he most certainly owes her by now, direct from Garel City, Garel! (Yes, Ro, I’m afraid they are pricey—but Noemi deserves nothing less.) Ro’s love for Noemi has always brought out his poetic side, which we see as he admires that beautiful vintage Naboo updo of hers, yearns to feel and kiss the soft red strands, and hopes she’ll wear her hair that way again sometime...
    ...at their wedding, maybe! ;)
    She, in turn, reaches up and smooths out his unruly hair, just as we know she’s always wanted to do, brushing those oh-so-sensitive lekku in the process, and then—MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM! [face_love] [face_love] [face_love] Yes, Noemi’s absolutely right that that means the Force is 100% on board with their love: it too is saying “Yes I said yes I will Yes.”

    And we really do come full circle in the ending, as Ronen reflects on how much he’s changed and grown since he wrote that very first “this is me in a yubnut shell” entry. I applaud him for throwing out the word “freak,” and I applaud him even more for realizing that that’s something he never was, and for realizing how much more he really is: star of the play, hero of the trials, Noemi’s love, and all-round awesome guy. :cool:

    A big round of applause for finishing this wonderful character study and epic—you always are so good at crafting characters and their journeys of growth, and you’ve done an really amazing job at it here. =D= And, of course, if at any point we’re likely to see more of Ro’s and Noemi’s adventures, I definitely won’t say no! :D