Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Star Wars. They are the rightful property of one George Lucas, who fortunately decided to share them with the world through his films. I'm merely borrowing them in the most respectful way to have some more fun. That is all.
AN; The in-betweens might be tediously long, but here I am again! I still haven't given up on all the idea I have yet to write, and one day I'll share them with you. Probably after I finish my Master thesis and such. But hey, patience is a vitue. Anyway, here is Obi-wan's second trial (see previous chapter for the idea behind it). Let me know what you think! Mistake are my own, seeing as no beta was present for this.
"Just remember how we did it last time children, slowly but surely."
With satisfaction and amusement Obi-wan watched as the children of the clan levitated and moved around various small objects. Two weeks after his first 'trial' Obi-wan found himself back with the group of children that had formed his test. It wasn't part of his regular duties, but to be honest it gave him that little boost of reassurance that what they did at the Temple mattered. He had left the pessimistic padawan behind years ago, but in these days such little tokens of goodness lifted his mood, even if just for a little while. And, in even greater honesty, it gave him the affirmation he was a decent teacher and master. The simple joy and awe in the children's eyes reassured him of his abilities. A jedi shouldn't doubt, but lately Obi-wan had been feeling…inadequate. Like the universe would continue to show his utmost would never be enough.
And to have Anakin question his decisions more and more did not give him warm, fuzzy feelings.
The coming storm in the form of the war was already affecting the general mood of the seniors at the Temple, and soon the shroud of conflict would dictate everything within its halls. So for the moment, Obi-wan decided to surround himself with as much innocence as he could.
"Good Sianna, very good."
Her smile was bright and infectious, and he found himself smiling along. However, some noise from beyond the room intruded on their relative peace, and his smile made way for a small frown as the children stopped their exercise because of the ripples in the Force that were emanating from the training hall next door. The ripples felt…angry. Without much conscious thought Obi-wan rose from the floor.
"Children, please stay here and continue with the exercise."
Seeing their curious faces his smile returned for a fraction. "Or just play amongst yourselves until I return."
With no further glance he strode to the door, sure the children would behave. They're Yoda's class, of course they'd behave. He walked through the door and headed to the entrance of the training hall off to his right. Scanning the Force he could identify two sources responsible for the disturbance. Just outside the entrance he checked the training schedule on a datapad on the wall, and was surprised to see an advance padawan saber class scheduled for this hour. Normally the older padawans would train vigorously, and from his own experience the classes were far too challenging and tiring to be causing such upheaval.
A press of the thumb on the pad opened the door and Obi-wan stepped inside the hall. Where he was surprised to see all the padawans standing in a semi circle around two of their own, who seemed to be in a rather heated argument. He could see that the group had not yet noticed his arrival, and he hung back to first see what this was about.
"That was not what this was about! Master Gassian told us to just practise!"
A female Twi'lek, hands on hips and eyes blazing, was staring down a male fellow padawan, one looking decidedly bored. Obi-wan noticed that his lightsaberwas held loosely in one hand.
"Master Gassian told us to train, so we did. I didn't hear Buari complain much when I suggested it."
"Yeah well he didn't ask you to singe his tunic, or break his nose for that matter!"
Following the wild gesture of the Twi'lek padawan Obi-wan suddenly spotted a padawan in the group holding his sleeve to his face, the fabric coloured with red stains. The boy looked both highly ashamed as well as angry about his predicament. But Obi-wan's attention was drawn again by the two arguing padawans.
"I told him we were going to have a real duel, and he agreed, so I don't see where this is my fault really."
Obi-wan now marked the padawan slight arrogant instead of bored. Evidently, the Twi'lek girl long realised the same, and took his words as a challenge.
"Well why don't you pick on someone your own size then huh?! Come on!"
The second her hand went to her lightsabre at her waist Obi-wan decided it was high time to put a stop to this. Reaching into the Force he projected his presence into the room, like tossing a stone into a still pond. At the very same moment he raised his voice.
The effect was instant. All the padawans turned to face him and immediately dropped their arms to their sides, standing up straight and mouths closed. With his most stern face on Obi-wan slowly walked up to the group, hoping his air of authority would work the padawans into a more obedient state. He chose to ignore the two padawans locked in argument just seconds ago and halted in front of the boy with the injury. At his unspoken demand the boy lowered his sleeve and a bloody nose became visible. Now Obi-wan was no Healer, but he could see the bone was broken and needed medical attention.
"Go see the Healers."
The boy nodded and quickly left the hall. Obi-wan then turned and faced the two padawans responsible for the argument. By saying nothing for a full minute he tried to coax a response out of them, but nothing much happened. The girl still looked frustrated and upset, and the boy looked…well…almost smug. Obi-wan turned his eyes on the girl.
"Tell me what happened," he softly commanded.
"Yes, master. We were practising the fourth kata under Master Gassian, but he was called away on an emergency not long ago. He told us to continue with training since we still had an hour and a half to go. Right after Master Gassian left Sellec here stopped and said this training was pointless."
"I said the training was too simple, not pointless."
Obi-wan rewarded the interruption by Sellec with a silent and withering glare, making the boy blanch just slightly and close his mouth quickly. Then he looked back at the Twi'lek padawan and urged her on with his eyes.
"Sellec proposed to…spice thing up a bit, and he issued an open challenge, saying no one could beat his performance of the fourth kata. None of us responded to it, so he choose an opponent himself, Buari, master. At first he refused, but a comment by padawan Sellec convinced him to take up the challenge."
At this Obi-wan lightly pulled up his eyebrow in question. The girl blushed a soft purple.
"It wasn't a nice comment, master."
'Not unexpected I suppose.' "Go on."
"They started the fourth kata, and for a moment it seemed like Buari had the upper hand, but then Sellec here," and with this she gave the boy a rather nasty look, "decided to deviate from the fourth kata and break his nose with the hilt of his sabre. He went down immediately, and there Sellec held the tip of his sabre to the collar of his tunic, lightly singing it, asking his surrender."
Sensing this was most of the tale he decided to cut in. "And you thought to point out his mistake by yelling loud enough to draw attention from the room 100 feet away?"
Again a purple blush rose on her cheeks. "I'm sorry, master."
With a soft hum Obi-wan accepted her apology. With an internal sigh however he contemplated how to deal with the situation. It was clear some discipline was needed, but to be fair all three parties needed it. Some more than others, but still. And he had a feeling a reprimand would fall on deaf ears with padawan Sellec. So he had to devise a different way of putting the boy in his place…
"What is your name?" he asked the Twilek.
Obi-wan nodded lightly. "Soanne-ji, you will serve a detention with me tonight for acting rashly, starting an argument and holding it with anger, and losing control of the argument by reaching for your weapon."
His tone was clipped and stern, and didn't miss its intended effect. Her face fell a little and her eyes displayed surprise at the turn of events, before she bowed her head a little. "Yes, master." Shame coloured her words.
Satisfied she got the message he turned to padawan Sellec. "The fourth kata hmm?"
The young man had enough sense to nod and address him properly. "Yes, master."
Again Obi-wan took a long moment to consider him, before speaking again.
"Very well, show me."
This apparently wasn't what the group had expected, because several confused faces looked at him, Soanne-ji most of all. Sellec merely looked surprised and a bit suspicious, but Obi-wan knew how to get his fears out of the way, if he was right about the boy.
"Anyone can perform the fourth kata, but I'm very interested to see how you managed to break padawan Buari's nose with the hilt, sounds like the type of move that Anakin would think of and use."
Stroking the boy's ego was something he would never do, and severely chastise if he would observe someone else do it, but now he needed to get to the root of the problem, not just its flower. And the way the padawan's face lit up by being compared to the Order's 'Chosen One', he knew he had chosen well under the circumstances.
- ∞ -
When he entered the room he saw Obi-wan unclip his lightsaber from his belt and face a padawan, who looked eager to show the master what he could do. He had heard fragments of what had happened from Buari, having come from the Healers himself just now. His curiosity piqued, Mace Windu had made his way to the training hall and see for himself what was going on, and perhaps deliver some discipline. But seeing Obi-wan here he decided to observe, and only step in if needed.
"Now take it step by step, show me what happened."
Obi-wan's voice was clear, and it betrayed no sign of any reprimand. Personally he would have reprimanded the padawan into the ground for a stunt like this, but he wanted to see what the young master's judgement would be here, so he waited.
The padawan facing Obi-wan ignited his saber, and took the stance for the fourth kata. Obi-wan mirrored the boy, and at a normal tempo the kata began, the padawan on the offensive. Each of his attacks was met by Obi-wan, but his style was completely different than Mace had witnessed on so many occasions. Mace frowned. Did Obi-wan just appear…clumsy?
Apparently the padawan had thought so too, and accelerated his attack, knocking aside Obi-wan's guard and managing to get the tip of his saber at Obi-wan's throat, thereby signalling the end of the kata. At this Mace's brow rose in surprise. Obi-wan, one of the best defensive swordsmen he had ever had the pleasure and honour of knowing defeated by a padawan?
Obi-wan smiled apologetically. "Very good. I believe you now, you perform the fourth kata very well."
The boy was unable to hide his glowing expression, and Mace felt the muscles in his leg twitch to move forward and put a stop to this. But once again Obi-wan surprised him.
"Now, I believe you deviated from the fourth kata, and asked Buari for a real duel. Is that true?"
The boy nodded. "Yes, master."
"Perhaps you'd care to present me with the same challenge?"
The padawan seemed to have no doubt or suspicion about it, and accepted immediately by stepping back and raising his saber in the stance out of the sixth kata. Obi-wan met his stance, but again, Mace could instantly see holes in his defence. He folded his arms over his chest and watched duel with growing scepticism.
And the duel didn't last long. The boy, confident over his earlier win, attacked Obi-wan with great speed, and forced the young master back, clearly making use of the faulty defence Obi-wan was using. In just under a minute the duel was over, Obi-wan once again threatened at sword point. He saw Obi-wan bow a little to concede his defeat.
"Well done, padawan Sellec. Truly remarkable."
Mace's skin was crawling at the gloating expression on the padawan's face, and again was about to step in when Obi-wan's voice held him back once more.
"Now class, why did padawan Sellec here win?"
The rest of the padawans hesitated a little, before one of them lifted his hand to answer.
"Because he was faster?"
Obi-wan nodded. "Mm mm, indeed. What else?"
"He managed to get past your defences, master."
Again, Obi-wan nodded. "Excellent point, so he did." He turned back to padawan Sellec. "And you, why do you think you won?"
The arrogance in his answer made Mace almost physically shiver. "Because I was stronger."
Obi-wan smiled lightly. "Ah yes, thought that might be your answer." He turned his head slowly around, looking at the other students. "And I suppose you're right, how else could you have won the duel? For the strong always win."
When Obi-wan's eyes met his own, Mace was surprised to find that the man already knew he was present, and even more surprised to see a gleam in his eyes. One that told him this was far from over. So he decided, for a third time, to stand back and let Obi-wan handle it. Anakin's master, one known for many incredible feats of arms, then turned and looked Sellec squarely in the eye.
"2 out of three then? Just to show everyone how good you are."
The boy needed just as much convincing as the last time, and immediately took up a stance. Obi-wan however casually stood, saber hanging loosely at his side. And instantly Mace recognized the jedi that had defended his back at Geonosis, the one he knew to be one of the best swordsmen in the jedi Order. And when padawan Sellec attacked, Mace knew the boy would learn that very quickly as well. Obi-wan simply stepped aside, the boy's attacks swiping at nothing but air. Sellec swung three, four times, before his right hand was suddenly caught, twisted, and he found himself lying on the floor mats, Obi-wan's saber not even part of the duel yet. Again, Obi-wan's voice was clear, but the tone was stern and berating.
"You overstepped and project your intentions with each swing. Get up, and do it again."
The flush in the boy's face was obvious, but he did get up and pointed his sword at Obi-wan again. He attacked again, and this time found himself falling flat on his face after only two swings, his lightsaber skidding across the mat and out of his reach.
"Being stronger has no relevance to any duel if you're not right, experienced, and alert. Assumptions will cloud your judgement and you will lose."
Obi-wan bent down and helped Sellec back to his feet.
"I understand you might feel training is boring, and you're ready for something else, but the truth is you cannot yet decide if you are ready."
He placed a hand on Sellec's shoulder. "Truth is there is always someone better than you. Truth is that a pure duel such as this is rare and you're more likely to encounter fights that are unbalanced, unfair and far more deadly than this one."
Obi-wan paused for a moment before going on. "You do not train and duel here to prove who is the best. If so, Master Yoda would be wearing a medal."
This brought a small smile to everyone's face.
"You train and duel to prepare yourself for your role as jedi. A jedi will protect the weak, not use them to show he is better."
The comment was directed at Sellec, and the boy was intelligent enough to hear it and feel shame over it. His posture slumped a little, Mace noted with satisfaction.
"Repetition is key. Make the movements your own. And if your must duel, do so to prove to yourself that you are ready to begin your duty as a jedi, not to show everybody else you're a better jedi than they are. For not all a jedi's abilities, skills, and worth lie with his sword."
Mace had to admit, Obi-wan had the entire group bowing their heads a little in shame. Sellec was looking at his feet the whole time, but he knew the boy was mortified to be shown this lesson. Good, humility is a truly rare thing these days, Mace thought.
"Now, I want you to start working on the fifth kata, in pairs. Help each other improve, learn from each other. Sellec? If I hear you boasting ever again, I will not be as lenient as I was today. You will serve two weeks of extra duty with the Healers, a place where your sword skills are absolutely irrelevant."
His words still had a bite to them, and Sellec nodded dutifully.
The padawans jumped at Obi-wan's command, and formed pairs instantly. Without a single word they began training the kata Obi-wan had instructed them to perform.
With a gesture of his hand Obi-wan beckoned Soanne-ji to him. "Follow me, please." The girl quickly came up, and together they walked up to Mace. He greeted Obi-wan with a respectful nod, one the young master returned with a small bow.
"Master Windu, it is good to see you."
"Master Obi-wan, I see you have things well under control."
"I merely intervened, they were disturbing the children in the other room."
Mace nodded. Leave it to him to brush it off like he had absolutely no hand in it at all, Mace thought.
"It is fortunate you are here, Master Windu. Do you think there is some work available for padawan Soanne-ji here in the Diplomatic Circle this evening?" Obi-wan asked.
Mace gave them a small, but genuine, smile. "I'm sure Master Laranz will find something for her to do."
Obi-wan nodded. "Very well then. I will take my leave now, I have the children waiting for me. Perhaps you could watch over the training for a moment, just till master Gassian comes back? Only if you have the time, of course."
Now it was Mace's turn to nod. "I have some time, and will be glad to assist you."
"Oh no, not me," Obi-wan replied, "Master Gassian."
Windu's smile grew a little. "Of course."
With a last nod Obi-wan headed out the door. Mace directed Soanne-ji back to the training, making a mental note to warn the Diplomatic Circle to set aside some work for her. Just 10 minutes later master Gassian returned, and was surprised to see him.
"Master Windu, what a surprise. Have you come to see us train?"
Mace patted Gassian once on the shoulder. "Not exactly." And then left the master to his training.
- ∞ -
As usual, he didn't have to press the pad next to the door to announce his presence. The door slid open, and the old master was looking up at him.
"Speak to me, you want, mm?"
With a short bow Mace came straight to business. "The second trial we had planned for Obi-wan tomorrow."
Yoda's ears twisted a little, showing his curiosity. "What of it?"
Mace smiled. "Necessary, I do not think it is anymore."
That earned him a soft huff from Yoda, undoubtedly over his imitation. "Elaborate, you will."
He entered the room and took his normal place on one of the cushions, drawing his legs up without conscious thought. Accepting the tea Yoda offered he started explaining what he had seen. After all had been said, Yoda closed his eyes for a moment before smiling and looking him straight in the eye.
"Agree, I do. Accept this as his second trial, we shall. And pass, he did."
- ∞ -