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Saga - PT Proud of Your Boy: a Doran Blayne story

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Raissa Baiard, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    So the last thing I need is to start another story, but the moose muse gives what the moose muse gives....

    Title: Proud of Your Boy
    Author: Raissa Baiard
    Genre: drama, introspection
    Timeframe: 25-18 BBY
    Characters: Doran Blayne, OCs
    Synopsis: Prequel to "Everyone Comes to Doran's Place."
    The Usual Disclaimer: The characters were originally conceived pre-TPM, when Jedi were assumed to be able to marry and visit their birth families. Rather than ret-conning, I've chosen to assume that these things are very much discouraged by the Jedi Council, but not forbidden, per se.

    Author's notes: this isn't exactly a song fic, but the title and the story were inspired by the song "Proud of Your Boy," by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. It was written for an early draft of the movie Aladdin. (You can find the lyrics here if you're interested, though it's a very loose inspiration).


    Proud of Your Boy: A Doran Blayne story
    Part 1: The Knife

    He sat alone in the dark cantina, a bottle of Corellian whiskey in one hand, a lightsaber in the other.

    Or, more precisely, the remains of a lightsaber. The hilt was just an empty shell now, gutted the way his life had been. He'd pulled the crystals out one after another and sold them on the black market to buy himself a new identity, a new life.

    He took a long pull of whiskey as he turned the leather wrapped cylinder over in his hands, remembering.

    Remembered using it to protect refugees on Alderaan. Remembered practicing with it in the Jedi Temple. Remembered building it....

    Remembered the letter....


    Master Onfroi was waiting outside his quarters when he returned from the contemplation gardens. He glanced down at his chronometer with a frown. "Is it dinner time already? I must have lost track of time while I was meditating for my Trials." He grinned back up at his master. "When the Council calls, I'll be ready."

    "I'm sure you will, Domnic." Master Onfroi's smile didn't reach his eyes, and Domnic tensed. His master was an irreverent, irrepressible Corellian, whose wit was as sharp as his lightsaber, but Domnic could feel a turmoil within him and sensed that it involved him somehow. Onfroi held out a small, flimsi-plast wrapped package. "There's still a while until dinner; I just stopped by to give you this." Domnic was reluctant to take it, the source of his master's uneasines, but Master Onfroi thrust the package into his hands, adding, "The Council didn't want you to have this until after you'd completed your Jedi trials, but I think you have a right to it."

    It was les than half a meter long and hardly weighed half a kilo, but he felt like he'd been handed a slab of durasteel. "What...?" Domnic began, but Master Onfroi was already heading back down the hall. "I'll be be back to talk with you later," he called over his shoulder. This answer was neither helpful nor fair, Domnic thought, but knowing Master Onfroi, it was all he was likely to get.

    He carried the ominous little package into his room and tossed it down on his bed. Normally, the fact the Council didn't want him to have it would have caused him to open it immediately, but something about it bothered Master Onfroi, too. Since his master hardly ever agreed with the Council on anything, Dominic was certain he wasn't going to like what was inside. He considered tipping it down the nearest trash chute and saving himself some trouble.

    No, he thought, whatever it was, Master Onfroi had wanted him to have it, even if he didn't like it. Might as well get this over with.. With a prickle of foreboding like makants traveling up and down his spine, Dominic ripped the flimsi-plast off and pried open the packing box underneath.

    Inside was a knife-- a plain blade, not a vibro-shiv-- with a leather wrapped hilt and a sheath embossed with the insignia of the Corellian Navy. Such knives were standard issue in the Corellian military and easy to come by throughout the Republic, but the sight of it turned the makants tiptoeing down his back into a herd of thundering bantha. Domnic picked it up, and his fears were confirmed. The initials "D.J." had been crudely engraved on the butt of the knife. His father's initials. His father's knife, the one he'd always worn at his side.

    A holo-disc lay in the bottom of the box underneath his father's blade. Domnic picked it up and slid it into his data pad, dreading but needing to hear what was on it. A woman's image shimmered to life. She was attractive, the kind of woman who was more often called 'handsome' than 'beautiful'. Her hair was arranged in impeccable gold waves, but her eyes were shadowed. She smiled tiredly at the camera.

    "Hello, Domnic," his mother said. "I wanted to speak to you in person, but the Council member I spoke to told me you were preparing for your trials and couldn't be disturbed. I hope they'll let you have this message and that it won't disrupt your training too much."

    Her smile wobbled. "I'm sorry I have to tell you this way, but your father...your father passed away last week." She glanced away, and when she looked back, tears shimmered in her eyes. "It was very unexpected, an aneurysm...the medic said it happened fast and might not have caught it in time even if... Well, you know how your father was about seeing the medic." She wiped a tear away and gave the camera another watery smile that dissolved as more tears streamed down her pale cheeks. His mother leaned forward and the image shimmered into static for a moment. When the picture resolved, her eyes were red-rimmed and her face was blotchy. She sighed. "Sorry about that... I'm still… anyway. I'm sending you your dad's knife. It belonged to your grandfather when he served in the Corellian Navy, and he gave it your dad when he enlisted. Doran planned to give it to you when you passed your trials. I know Jedi don't use ordinary weapons, but I thought you should have it now, to remember him by." She looked away again. "Your father was proud of you, Domnic, so proud that you were going to be a Jedi. He didn't say it often, but he loved you very much. I love you, too, and I hope I'll be able to see you soon. May the Force be with you in your trials." She blew a kiss to the camera, and her image faded out.

    Domnic stared at the data pad and then at the knife that lay on his desk.

    His father was dead.

    His father was dead, shouldn't he feel…something? Something besides this strange emptiness inside? Shouldn't he cry, like his mother, or scream or rant or something? Shouldn't he do something besides sit here and wonder how you mourned a father you hardly knew?

    "You know how your father was," his mother had said, but he didn't, not really. How could he, when he could probably count the number of times he'd seen his father on both hands. Most of those meetings could be measured in hours, stop overs when Master Onfroi's business took him back to Corellia. Oh, there had been holo-messages and letters, which he'd been terrible about returning in his irresponsible youth and too-busy teen years, but all of them put together didn't give a real picture of the man who'd been his father. No, Domnic reflected, running his fingers over the initials carved into the knife, he'd never really known Dad at all; now he'd lost the opportunity forever.

    And his mother...he didn't really know her, either, but he knew that she and Dad were close. Beyond close, since Mom didn't have any living family and they'd decided not to have more children after Domnic had been taken to the Jedi Temple. The date stamp on her holo-disc said that she'd recorded it more than a month ago; why it had taken so long to get to him when Corellia was less then a day's flight away, he didn't know. She had probably given up hoping for a response from her only son, probably thought he was too busy with important Jedi business to bother with her. He clenched his fingers around the leather-bound hilt and clenched the other hand into a fist. Master Onfroi had always taught him that aiding the Republic's citizens--all of the Republic's citizens-- was a Jedi's most important work. He let go of the knife and picked up his comlink.

    --------------

    When Master Onfroi returned an hour later, Domnic was still at his desk. "I received a message from the Council that you'd requested a leave of absence to visit your mother on Corellia. Are you all right?"

    "Never better," Domnic said as he continued sketching out a design on his data pad. "I'm sure they also told you that my request was denied and that I was strongly cautioned that even trying to contact my mother would adversely affect my likelihood of being called for my Trials this season. But yes, other than that, I'm fine."

    Master Onfroi entered the room with a sigh. "Domnic, you have to realize that the Council has your best interests at heart." He stood behind Domnic and rested a hand on his padawan's shoulder. "The Trials require intense preparations, and breaking your focus so close to... What's this?"

    He heard the frown in his master's voice and decided he didn't need to look up to see it as well. He added another notation to his design. "I'm redesigning my lightsaber."

    "To resemble a Corellian Navy duty knife." Oh, there was a frown in his voice, all right, the one that could rival strait laced Master Nu's for sheer eloquence of disapproval.

    "No. To resemble my father's Corellian Navy duty knife." He held up the data pad so Master Onfroi could see the complete design, from the leather wrapping and the Naval insignia to his father's initials roughly etched into the bottom of the saber.

    Master Onfroi sucked in a sharp breath. His expression faded from disapproval to dismay and into pity. "The Council..."

    "Can go kriff themselves." Domnic pushed his chair out with a sudden scrape and strode restlessly across his narrow chamber, feeling that if he didn't move, he was going to hit something. He'd expected Master Onfroi, who always seemed to have a double helping of the traditional Corellian disdain for authority, to understand, to say something besides "The Council knows best."

    "I'm an adult who should be able to make my own decisions. The Council should trust me to make the right ones," he continued as he paced. "But because I'm not a Jedi yet, they see fit to tell me what I can and can't do. Even if I was a Jedi, they'd still want to tell me what to do." His pacing brought him back to his desk-- not hard since his room was barely four strides long--and he picked up his mother's message and held up the holo-disc. "My mother had to petition them to even get word through to me...a month after my father died. She's alone now; Dad was the only family she had left. It probably doesn't matter to the Force whether I become a Jedi this season or next, but a few days could mean everything to her. I can't even talk to her because the Council in their infinite wisdom has decided that comforting her like a decent human being means I'm 'too attached'." He laughed bitterly. "They say that the Force is everywhere, in every living being, but when it comes right down to it, the Coucil sure acts like they think we're more important than all those common beings out there."

    Domnic looked his master in the eye, and realized, that he had grown taller than Onfroi sometime in the past few years. "You've always taught me that there's a galaxy full of ordinary beings out there, and that the Jedi serve them as much or more than we serve the Council." He gestured towards his desk, at both his data pad and his father's blade. "This is my way of remembering that. My way of not forgetting him."

    Onfroi opened his mouth, shut it and shook his head. He left without saying anything. Dominic wasn't sure whether his silence constituted agreement, refusal to argue, or recognition that this was something his padawan had to work through on his own, but he was glad of it. He spent the next several days in the meditation chambers re-tuning his lightsaber's crystals and in the Temple's workshop, cutting strips of nauga leather to wrap the new hilt, fashioned as much like that of his father's duty knife as he could make a lightsaber. When at last it was finished and Dominic ignited his new saber for the first time, the jade green of the blade seemed to shine brighter than his old one had. He shut down the blade and bowed his head, touching the hilt to his forehead. Jedi tradition taught that life never truly ended, it simply became part of the Force from which it originated. If so, then his father, or some part of him, was here now, with him. He thought of his mother's message, that his father had always been proud of him. Domnic didn't know that he'd ever done anything to be proud of in his time as a mediocre, trouble making initiate or stubborn, still trouble making padawan. "But I will," he whispered. ''I'll become a Jedi you can be proud of, Dad. I promise."

    More notes: the appearance of the Corellian Navy duty knife is based on the Ka-Bar. I apologize if I've gotten any details wrong; my dad, a former Marine, still has his, but I was not allowed to handle it. ;)

    Doran/Domnic's mother is based on Lauren Bacall, wife of the late, great Humphrey Bogart. Like Bacall, his mother is significantly younger than her husband.
     
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    This is off to a very cool start. It's intriguing to see Doran at this earlier stage of his life, clearly on the road to the renegadism that characterizes his later career though not all the way a renegade yet. (He seems to have a potentially good teacher in that department in Master Onfroi, though! :D ) And wow, as if it weren't heartwrenching enough to hear of the death of a parent—to have to hear it one whole month after the fact due to, well, Jedi Council red tape? No wonder Domnic is angry, especially when that same red tape keeps him from going to visit his mother and providing her with much-needed support. His redesign of his lightsaber is at least one way he can begin to come to terms with both his grief and the Council's rather unwelcome reaction to it. And of course I too am curious as to what Onfroi (is he named after someone named D'Onofrio or similar?) really thinks about it, and about Domnic's feelings in general. Is he convinced now, or just giving his student some space in the interest of avoiding an argument? Is his next step going to be to advocate for Domnic before the Council, or the opposite? Looks at this point like it could be either of those things.

    Just a question: I see from your notes that this Domnic is the same person as the Doran of your other stories (and I thiiink I know what the "J." initial stands for ;) ). But earlier in the chapter, in his mother's holomessage accompanying the knife, she says that "Doran planned to give it to you when you passed your trials." Who is that Doran—was that Domnic's dad's name? Which I guess means that [hl=black]Domnic's later pseudonym is in honor of his dad[/hl]?

    Looking forward to more—wonderful to see a new story from you! :)
     
  3. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    I can only second Finds - this is off to a perfect start! I'm a little bit behind on Everybody Comes to Doran's place (read: I have notes about it written a year ago), but I can totally see how Doran/Domnic's character progresses from this point to what I know from In the Cards. He starts out as a bitter, yet sensitive young man who has that trademark Corellian "against all authority" type of an attitude. Can't mess with him, even if that means he's messing himself up!

    And what I find more beautiful than anything else - because there clearly is beauty in sad things - is how a man who appears to be an empty shell (but isn't one) is looking at an empty shell (which isn't one). It shows how we, including the hypothetical narrator at the very beginning, can make quick guesses - one would think D/D is a ne'er do well drunkard who sold all he had, but beneath the mask of sadness and alcohol, there is a man who still has hope, because he has his most prized possession - the one that may not hold lightsaber crystals, but holds the remaining pieces of his heart and shows that he first has to make peace with his past in order to be more open to his future.

    D/D's initial resisting to open the package is so ambiguous - he could be trying to be a good Jedi and resist the temptation OR he could be well-aware of what is inside and fearing that his worst fears may be coming true.

    And then, his world comes crashing apart...:( :( :(

    Once this happens...

    ...I wonder if it's the initial shock or the fact that D/D is close to his Trials and therefore applying a dose of stoicism, regardless of wanting it or not. Hmmm!

    The rest of the chapter turns into a glorious rollercoaster of just about everything and it's an accurate picture of how a person who lost their parent may be feeling - there is anger directed at the Jedi (or is that the general, slow-growing statement that will eventually enable Palpatine?), two Corellians being very Corellian and, ultimately, an open book waiting to be written. Looking forward to more!
     
  4. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    Interesting to see Doran as his much younger self; one can see that Domnic was not so much a different person as he sometimes prefers to think. ;) Sounds like he had just enough contact with his parents to feel that there's something missing in his relationship with them, which is sad. It's very unfortunate that the Council won't allow him to contact his mother even for a basic message -- seems rather counterproductive. :( As he says later, it's not as though Jedi are meant to have no compassion for anyone who isn't one of them! But then one gets a sense that there's an element of them assuming that controlling/cutting off the bond to his mother is better than making it a healthy one.

    Though Domnic's response is at least partly "you can't tell me what to do" (or perhaps, given the relationship of Jedi to the Order, more like the classic "you're not my REAL parents!"), it's also a pretty good way of coping -- seems to be constructive rather than destructive. At least, I hope so. Although there does seem to be a guilt element there, too. It's a harsh situation for him, especially since he's already facing the challenge of his upcoming Trials and all that comes with that.

    Hope to see more of this, it looks great! :)
     
  5. galactic-vagabond422

    galactic-vagabond422 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Great writing, Domnic's ambivalence and recognizing that something is wrong is interesting to me. It's clear that he never really knew his parents but, he still understands that he should feel something, I think it's that fact that drives his anger. It's possible that he feels like a bad son for not immediately feeling grief at news of his father's passing. Or maybe I'm just reading into it. Anyway as someone who hasn't read 'Everyone Comes to Doran's Place', the character still comes through clear, not relying on prior knowledge to understand, that can be a little difficult for prequels to pull off but, you have.

    Now to play devil's advocate, while I can't speak to your intentions, I can see the Order wanting to hold back the news until Domnic is a full knight hoping that he'd have the clarity of mind to handle the emotions that come with losing a parent. Now the leaving his mother alone, that is less defensible given that we have no information other than she had no family. It's possible that someone stepped up to help her, but we can't make those conclusions given the facts present.

    Interesting to see where this goes.
     
    Kahara, Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  6. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014

    Ha-ha-ha...ouch! XD
     
  7. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    This one has been languishing in limbo for a long time, but the moose muse has once again granted inspiration:p

    First to catch up on responses for anyone who may still care:
    Yes, Doran--or rather Domnic, at this point--has always been on that road. He's a very Corellian Corellian, as is Master Onfroi. Both of them are a little too cynical and snarky to please the Council, but Domnic also has strong moral convictions and he's doing his best to do the right thing.
    Onfroi's name is, according to Behind the Name, medieval French for "Humphrey"...as in Bogart;) He may be a renegade, but he is supportive of his padawan; he's giving Dominic space, not just to avoid an argument, but because he realizes that his grief is something Domnic needs to work through in his own way, at his own pace. Anything he says at this point is likely to further put Domnic's back up.

    You're correct that the "Doran" his mother mention's is Domnic's father, and
    that his pseudonym honors his father, and his master, Blayne Onfroi. Later in life, he completes the circle by giving parts of his old name to his daughter and son.
    I like that last sentence; it sums him up so perfectly. Dominic knows what the Council is going to say about his new lightsaber, but darned if he's going to let that stop him. He knows what's expected of him, he knows he should keep his head down if he wants to make it to his trials, but he feels his convictions so strongly that even the fact that it will delay his Trials isn't enough to make him change his mind. Don't agree with him? Well, kriff you... And this attitude will carry over pretty much all his life;P [hl="black"]as you can see in Mara's second entry in "Teenage Rebellion", when he refuses to change the name of the Café Alderaan, even though it costs him customers and friends[/hl]

    It takes him a while to achieve that peace; he will spend some time wallowing in bitterness and whiskey before he's able to really accept his past. And he needs to find his place in his new life and discover those who can help him fill those empty places in his heart.

    A little bit of both, I think.

    Domnic's anger is personal, but it is also reflective of the sentiments that enabled Palpatine to manipulate the general public. There's so much about the way the prequels redefined what we thought we knew about the Jedi that makes me go "well no wonder people didn't like you!"--taking Force-sensitive infants away from their families and repressing, or even suppressing, basic human emotions. In my mind, this is where balance needs to be returned to the Force. The Sith indulge every passion and desire, while the Jedi aren't supposed to have either. Neither is a very healthy way to live.
    :D No, the difference between Dominic and Doran is pretty much one of degree. I've never really liked the whole non-attachment doctrine. It seems unnecessarily harsh in some cases, particularly Anakin's. He's basically told to trust the Force--until he starts having dreams about his mother, and then he's told, "oh, that's just your emotions playing tricks on you. Pay it no attention." If only someone had listened, if they had let Anakin go check on her, or sent someone else, it would have gone a long way to keeping him from falling to the Darkness. But, no, because she's related to him, his visions of Shmi must be disregarded. And that's the attitude that creeps into the Council's judgement for Dominic, too.

    Unlike Anakin, Domnic manages to channel his anger and grief into something that is an appropriate memorial to his father (you know, instead of slaughtering an entire village). The Council may not view it as such, but it is an act of creation and an expression of love to his dad as much or more than it is a "kriff you" to them.
    Thank you so much :) I think you're right, there's a lot of mixed feelings behind Domnic's anger. He realizes how little he knew his parents, how far the relationship they had was from the normal parent child relationship...and plenty of guilt that he didn't work harder at that relationship and now no longer has the chance.

    I'm glad that Domnic's character comes through, and that the story works even without having read "Doran's Place."

    . They may have been doing it from the best of intentions, unfortunately, from Domnic's perspective, the longer they delay the news, the more they seem controlling. It's a difficult situation to balance, and there seems to be no good answer.
     
  8. Raissa Baiard

    Raissa Baiard Chosen One star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 22, 1999
    Part 2: The Trials

    But not that season. Or the season after that, or even the next. It was nearly a year later when the Council finally deemed that Dominic was ready for the trials. After the customary three days of fasting and meditation, he followed Master Onfroi down a twisting series of increasingly narrow and ill-lit stairways. "You'd think they would have installed a turbo lift by now," Onfroi grumbled, puffing a bit as they reached the Temple's lowest level. "Or at least some better lighting. Making it to the bottom without breaking your neck ought to count as one of the trials, don't you think?" Domnic tried to formulate a witty comeback or at least laugh off his master's irreverence, but all he could come up with was a weak "heh." Despite living for three days on water and and a few bites of nutri-wafers, he felt like he might throw up at any minute. He took a deep breath and tried to center himself. Emotion; yet peace.

    Master Onfroi clasped Domnic's shoulder. "Chin up; we were all nervous when we took our trials. Any master who says they weren't is lying." He pulled his padawan into a rough half-embrace. "May the Force be with you." With that, a panel in the seemingly blank wall behind them. Domnic gave Master Onfroi one last backward glance as he stepped into the Trial Chamber....

    ...where he was immediately assaulted by a faceless figure shrouded in white robes-- a droid? An elaborate holo-projection? Domnic couldn't tell; it came at him too fast. The ghostly figure and its pale blue lightsaber looked insubstantial, but the force of its blows crashed against Domnic's blade. He reached out and *pushed* his opponent into the black stone wall. It slumped beneath a tall bronzium statue of some forgotten Master, but quickly, too quickly, it regained its feet dispelling any thoughts Domnic had of disarming it while it was down. Might've known it wouldn't be that simple. He raised his lightsaber and strode across the chamber to meet his opponent. At least, he tried to; halfway there, something snagged his ankle and sent him sprawling onto the stone floor. His saber went flying from his grip, and Domnic shot a frantic glance backward as his ghostly adversary closed in. A thick gray tentacle had somehow sprouted from the floor and seized his leg. If it was a holoprojection, it felt extraordinarily real. More of them writhed their way out of the stone and crept towards him as the first began to pull him backwards. He called the leather-wrapped hilt of his lightsaber back to his hand, ignited the blade and slashed himself free just in time to meet his ghostly adversary's blow. Domnic levered himself upright, pushing against the blue saber with all his strength.

    The white-cloaked figure staggered back a step or two, but before he could make use of this momentary advantage, another tentacle brushed his leg. Domnic severed the questing tendril, met the blue-white blade on the upswing...and felt a sharp, stinging shot on the back of his neck. A training remote, like the ones he'd practiced against as a youngling, buzzed past his left ear, followed by half a dozen of its friends. Each of them zapped him in turn. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me," he growled. No one ever said the Trial of Skill was supposed to be easy, but this hardly seemed fair. All right. Domnic forced himself to take a deep breath and assess the situation as he dodged the another sweep of his rival's blade. The remotes were-- ouch!-- a nuisance but not lethal; tripping over or being caught by the tendrils that continued to spread was a greater hazard. So... Ignore the remotes, avoid the tentacles and concentrate on the white robed figure. Find its weakness. Once he'd decided on this plan, the duel seemed to take on a rhythm. parry his faceless opponent, dodge a tentacle, spin out of the way of the remotes' next barrage...guard, turn, parry, dodge, spin... until he felt like nothing more than a blur of motion and the Force.

    And then he saw his opening: the figure's saber dipped lower than usual, not much, but enough for Domnic to get past its guard. His green blade scored its wrist. The blue saber clattered out of its grip and the figure shimmered out of existence, leaving Domnic alone in the Trial Chamber. He clipped his saber back onto his belt.

    A panel in the wall slid open, and the Temple's battlemaster, Cin Drallig, stepped inside. "Nice work, Padawan," he said, as he handed Domnic a carafe of water. "You kept your focus and your saber work was technically proficient throughout. Your footwork got a little sloppy at times and your form could have been better, but otherwise not bad. You'll want to work on that if you plan to master the Niman form, but that takes at least 10 years of study, so there's still time." And with that, Drallig disappeared back the way he came, the panel vanishing behind him as it closed.

    "So that means I passed, right?" There was no answer; not that Domnic had expected any. Everything about the Trials seemed to be kept maddeningly vague. He supposed he had passed; however faintly damning "technically proficient" and "not bad" would have been from anyone else, they were praise indeed from the battlemaster. And Master Drallig hadn't ejected him from the Trial Chamber, which implied that there was still more to come. Domnic took a long swallow of the water, wondering what kind of fiendish torture...er, test... came next.

    As if on cue, a gust of cold wind swirled through the chamber and the lights went out with an audible "whoosh". A high-pitched cackle filled the room, seeming to come from everywhere at once.

    Jedi reflexes took over; Domnic pulled his saber, ignited it and dropped into a defensive crouch before he even had time to think. By the eerie green glow of his blade, he could just make out two figures. One was a child, a boy perhaps six or seven years old, curled beneath a youngling's beige blanket, sleeping as soundly and innocently as only a child could. The other...

    The other was a tall, gaunt man shrouded in a dark cloak. Just visible beneath its hood were a pair of sickly yellow eyes over a hooked nose and a ghoulish smile that revealed too many pointy teeth. He was the stuff of nightmares, specifically Domnic's nightmares. His heart stuck in his throat. "Lord Nyax," he choked out, flashing back to his youngling days in Clan Clawmouse. Zhef, a solid, squat ten-year old with a face like a blonde, freckled worrt, had been the alpha bantha among the Clawmouse boys, though young Domnic had often and cheerfully ignored that fact. He couldn't remember exactly what he'd said or done to Zhef, but one night the older Corellian boy had switched beds with Domnic's bunkmate. Before climbing into the top bunk, he'd jabbed a pudgy finger into Domnic's chest. "You know what happens to smart-mouth little Corellians, don't you? Lord Nyax comes when they're sleeping and sucks their souls out through their noses." He whispered down more gruesome details that night and every night after that. Domnic hadn't slept for weeks.

    Another maniacal laugh brought him back from his childhood terrors. "Mmm...So innocent. So pure. This one's soul will be delicious!" Nyax swooped towards the boy, his robe billowing like a hawkbat's wings, his long, crooked fingers spread like talons.

    "NO!" Domnic's frozen brain finally kicked into action. He charged Nyax, but the ghastly old man wasn't as frail as he looked. He evaded the blow as nimbly as a youngling, raised his gnarled hands and unleashed a storm of blue lightning from his fingertips. Domnic's green blade blurred into a frenzy of motion, deflecting the Dark energy…but just barely.

    "Good try, Little Corellian! Good try," Nyax taunted. "But you'll never defeat me like that!" Another barrage of lightning sizzled through the air, and again Domnic narrowly repelled it. Each new assault drove him back from the sleeping youngling, each gout of Force lightning came closer to striking, and all the while Nyax's laughter echoed through the darkness. Nyax spoke true, Domnic thought, the old night terrors clutching at his heart and clamoring in his head. He could never defeat him this way. He wracked the puddle of jelly that was left of his brain, trying to remember if any of the stories told how Lord Nyax could be beaten…

    Stories.

    Domnic stopped and straightened. He shut down the jade-colored blade of his lightsaber, leaving the sickly gleam of Nyax's eyes the only light in the chamber.

    "Giving up?" he sniggered, the lambent yellow glow of his eyes intensifying as he slithered closer to Domnic. "Good. Good! I will feast on your soul, too…after you watch me devour the child's!"

    Domnic stood his ground. "I don't need a lightsaber to defeat you, Nyax. You're already beaten." He took a step forward. And another. And another. "You're nothing but an old legend, a story, probably made up by someone who'd had a little too much whiskey. I stopped being afraid of you when I was six, so, as they say in those old stories 'begone'." Domnic snapped his fingers...

    …And the lights came on.

    As he stood blinking in the sudden brightness, the door slid open again and a silver protocol droid minced in. "An urgent message for you, Padawan." It held a datapad in one stiff hand.

    He took the pad and squinted at the screen. The message was simple enough, only one line: "The Chancellor is in mortal danger. Come at once." No sooner had Domnic read it than the datapad pinged, another message, also bearing the bold, red heading "urgent" flashing onto the screen. This one was equally brief: "Your mother is in mortal danger. Come at once."

    The protocol droid cocked its head to one side, as if it, too, had received a message. "Your response is required immediately, Padawan," it pressed.

    Domnic hesitated. He knew what the Council expected of him as a Jedi…but he also knew what his heart was telling him.

    "Padawan?" The droid's tone was politely insistent. It seemed he was not going to be given time to consider or meditate; he'd have to trust his instincts, trust the Force. He typed two messages, as terse as the originals, and handed the datapad back to the protocol droid. It cocked its head to the opposite. "Very good. Please follow me." Another wall panel slid open--not the one it had entered by, Domnic noted-- and the droid lead him down a long, narrow hallway to a circular chamber.

    The entire Jedi Council was seated in a ring around the chamber, with Master Onfroi standing behind Yoda's chair. The expressions on their faces strongly suggested that Dominic was not here so they could offer him congratulations on passing his trials in record time. The droid ushered him into the center of the room, the better to display his failure and shame. Domnic schooled himself to stillness, standing with his feet apart and hands loose at his sides, as if preparing for a lightsaber duel. Emotion, yet peace...

    Master Windu spoke first. "You chose to save your mother, indulging your emotions at the cost of the Chancellor's life."

    "No, Master Windu." Passion, yet serenity...

    "No?" The Jedi Master arched an eyebrow, disbelief and disapproval written into its elegant curve.

    Chaos, yet harmony "Yes, I chose to go to my mother, but I also passed along the Chancellor's message to every Jedi in the order. Surely one or more of them would have responded. Probably one who was more capable than a mere Padawan."

    "But the Chancellor requested you specifically," Windu pressed, leaning forward in his chair.

    "The simulation never said that." Domnic struggled to keep his voice level, respectful. "I doubt he would care who saved him, so long as he was saved. This way, two lives were saved instead of one. Isn't that worth something?"

    "You're equivocating." Oppo Rancisis contended, in his faint, quavering voice. "Are you certain that your choice was the leading of the Force and not your own emotions?"

    Domnic's hands bunched up into fists. He unclenched them and made them lie quietly at his sides again. Ignorance, yet knowledge. "I hardly had time to meditate. I used the mind and heart the Force gave me and trusted I would make a good decision."

    Windu leaned farther forward. "Isn't it more important to save the Chancellor than...ahem..a common barkeep? Surely his death would have a greater impact on the Republic as a whole than hers?'

    "Is that the leading of the Force or your own feeling?" Domnic snapped, and instantly regretted the unseemly display of emotion. He took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. "Isn't the Force in all living things? Aren't we all equally important in its eyes?" He fixed his attention on the smug Windu, who was so sure in his presumption that a barkeep's life was worth nothing to the Force, and asked pointedly, "Isn't it possible that the death of an ordinary woman could have a great impact?"

    The Jedi Master held his gaze, his dark eyes boring into Domnic's. "Then why didn't you send the message regarding your mother and go to the Chancellor's aid instead?

    "Because the Force, in its wisdom, has provided 9,999 Jedi who believe the Chancellor is important," Domnic replied, holding steady beneath Windu's scrutiny. He would not back down. "But apparently only one who believes a common barkeep is worth saving."

    "Some of his arguments are not without merit," Master Bilaba suggested. She met his eyes and Dominic thought he saw a spark of interest there.

    "Humph." Yoda snorted and jabbed his walking stick towards Domnic. "Too attached to the family of your birth, you are. Too lead by your emotions, and too sure of yourself. Meditate, you must, on whether your path this truly is."

    "Master Yoda speaks the truth. You need to cultivate humility and respect before you can become a Jedi, and you should consider whether you might be better suited to the Service Corps." Windu leaned back in chair and waved a hand at Domnic, as if shooing a stray tooka. "We will call you when we feel you are ready for retesting."

    With that he was dismissed. The door slid open, and Domnic bowed to the Council even as his heart contracted painfully and his hopes crashed down around him. Death, yet the Force. Master Onfroi followed him; they walked silently down the narrow hallway.

    "You knew what the right answer was," Onfroi said at last.

    Domnic snorted. "Of course I did. It was only slightly less obvious than a Wookiee at a Bimm family reunion."

    "But you chose your mother anyway."

    He glanced sideways at his master. "You wanted me to lie to the Council?"

    "Not lie, exactly." He waved an equivocal hand as if to suggest such things as being strictly honest with the ruling body of the Jedi was overrated in the grand scheme of things. "But as Master Odan Urr once said 'the Galaxy will function in peace if certain things are a bit overlooked.'"

    "He also advocated eating the flesh of sentients, so I'm not inclined to take everything he says as dogma." Dominic stopped in the middle of the hall. Onfroi had taught him to have a healthy dose of skepticism when it came to the Council's authority, but though he'd known what the outcome would be when he'd chosen his mother, misrepresenting himself during his Trials would have been wrong. A lie not only to them, but to himself and to the Force during what was supposed to be a sacred ritual. "Look, I know what Urr said about Jedi not being creatures of morals, but it seems to me we ought to at least try to be honest. If we lie to our ourselves and each other, how can we expect the Galaxy to trust us?"

    A bitter smile touched Onfroi's lips. "You're a romantic, boy. Underneath all that native Corellian cynicism, you've got a heart of gold." He clapped a hand on Domnic's shoulder and pulled him into step along side him. "Come on, I've got half a bottle of Whyren's in my chamber; let's go drink to the Council and their wisdom."
     
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  9. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    So glad to see this story back in action—and wow! This is one absolutely fantastic chapter. Absolutely A1 descriptions, both of Domnic's Jedi Trials and his thought processes in meeting them and overcoming them, as well as the trademark snarky practicality with which he meets them all head-on. I love the way he prioritizes during that absolutely infuriating duel where he's concurrently being nipped at by the training remotes and tripped up by tentacles ("you have indeed got to be kidding me"—I didn't think even the Old Order Jedi were that ruthless!): yes, indeed, in a situation like that, one has to focus on where the real danger is. And yet, in true Old-Order Jedi fashion, he gets nothing but a desultory rundown from the battlemaster about niggling technique details—I don't blame Domnic for feeling frustrated, because I too hate that obfuscatory "we won't actually tell you if you passed or not" attitude. But he doesn't let that frustration keep him from performing admirably on the next trial, and there too his practicality wins out (albeit after a few understandable moments of hesitation) against the vision of the once-feared Lord Nyax: hey, you're just a story, so begone!

    Now this business with the two messages, though... ugh, like, really. That's a low blow if I ever saw one. :( They totally set him up, and in a not very fair way. Here too Domnic takes what he thinks is a practical approach that will allow not one but both lives to be saved—two lives that are part of the Force, rather than just one—and instead of getting the praise he deserves, he gets castigated. And "common barkeep"? Really? I mean, just REALLY? OUCH. =(( It's a tribute to Domnic's strength of character that he is able to maintain his "here I stand" equanimity throughout all this (I imagine that those Masters consider this, too, a trial of sorts), and I absolutely love his responses:
    The ancient Talmudists would have applauded Domnic: there are about three or four separate times in the Talmud where it's stated (with minor variations in wording) that "one who saves a single life is considered to have saved the whole world." It's saddening that the Jedi Council at this stage does not seem to appreciate that attitude (or at least feel they have to play at not appreciating it)—but I have no doubt that Domnic's staunch adherence to those principles, and to his own conscience and sense of honesty, will more than pay off in the end. (Heck, Onfroi seems to appreciate it!)

    Again, such wonderful stuff—and if in the future if I ever need inspiration regarding Jedi Trials or similar evaluations, or if I see anyone in Writer's Desk who does, I'll know just where to come—to Domnic's Place! :D
     
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  10. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    Well, isn't it handy that a character who looks like Henry Bogart gets to meet... Boggarts of sorts? At least that's what the simulated creature and simulated Lord Nyax in these trials remind me of - the monsters from Harry Potter. D/D has to fight them off by denying them and while it might seem too easy, one must remember that he was nearly starved before this. In a state where one'd fasted for quite a while, in the depth of that cellar, everything that happens could be ten thousand times scarier and more real than it is. In a way, it's room 101, too.

    I loved Deepa Bilaba's compassion, and I'm sad that the other Jedi Masters and the Grand Master did not follow her suit. In fact, sometimes I think that they made it "easy" for somebody with this level of skill, because they kind of knew where he would fail. D/D can beat everything in the room 101, any boggart sent his way, but he cannot give up on what truly matters to him.

    Your loss, old Jedi Order. Your loss and no wonder you fell! This young man is way too good for just Corps.
     
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  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    SQUEE! Domnic was fantastic in his trials and even more superb!! with his on-target answers to the Council. He is absolutely right about the importance of all living beings irregardless of rank, as in the Chancelor is more important says who? Until the next election! :p
    Cultivate humility? Really? Some need to cultivate the knack for not being condescending. :rolleyes:
    =D=
     
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