Foreword: so this took me longer to get back to than I was hoping it would. I'll be trying to update at least one of my in-progress fics a month from here on; I'll probably slip up on this from time to time, but that's my goal at this point. But enough rambling from me—let's get this show on the road.

Disclaimer: see prologue.

Star Wars: The Ayanami Chronicles

by Elizar Naki

Chapter 1: "Purpose"

"A ship," Rei said, identifying the image as soon as it entered her mind. She currently stood in the center of the circular Jedi High Council chambers, her eyes closed as she focused on trying to divine the images appearing on the handheld screen one of the twelve Council members was using. From what she'd been told, the screen was entirely operated by this "Force" thing they all seemed capable of tapping into; her duty in this particular test was to tap into the same Force and identify the images the testing screen displayed. At present, she was on the third round of this particular exercise, in addition to a handful of other things they'd asked her to do as part of their tests; she had yet to be given any indication of how well or poorly she was doing. "A speeder…a blaster…a helmet…a…sphere? No, a planet."

The Council member with the screen—a female Togruta—lowered it again, leveling her gaze on the blue-haired girl before her. Rei was acutely aware of the twelve sets of eyes presently focused on her, giving her no indication of what they thought of her. She did her best not to fidget under their gazes, though she could feel an uncomfortable knot forming in the pit of her stomach. She didn't know where the knot had come from, but at the moment she wanted little more than for the Council to deliver their verdict so she could retreat from their collective scrutiny and find a way to make the knot go away.

"You're afraid," the Togruta told her suddenly.

Am I? Rei thought. Was that what the knot in her stomach signified? Without her memories, she had no frame of reference by which to interpret her emotions. She had no reason to doubt what the Togruta was saying—the knot certainly seemed uncomfortable enough to be fear—but she had a feeling that vocalizing that line of thought might be interpreted as questioning the Masters' judgment. "Under the circumstances, do I not have the right to be afraid?" she asked instead.

"Perhaps," a Kel Dor male conceded. "But you must be wary not to let such emotions consume you. That way lies the dark side."

"Dark side?" Rei repeated, curious about the phrase's meaning within the context of the Kel Dor's statement. For some reason, even speaking those words left her feeling suddenly cold.

"All will be explained in due time, child," the Kel Dor told her. "For now, we ask that you leave us for a brief while. We have much to discuss."

"Yes, Master," Rei said, bowing politely before turning to depart. She could feel their gazes following her, seemingly attempting to see directly into her mind, even as she left the room.

Once outside the Council chambers, Rei found that the knot of fear in her stomach hadn't subsided. If anything, she realized as she aimlessly roamed the halls of the tower the Council chambers occupied, it seemed to have grown. Her fate was now in the hands of twelve beings she had never met until today, and while she had no doubt that they were both powerful and wise, she still couldn't help but worry about the ultimate outcome of their debate.

"Lost?" a familiar male voice interrupted her thoughts.

Rei turned at the sound of the voice, somewhat surprised to see Elizar approaching her from another corridor. She hadn't expected to see the older boy again so soon, but she was far from upset by his presence. "In more ways than one," she admitted with a downcast glance.

Silence reigned while Elizar tried to decide how to best go about cheering this new girl up. Words were rarely his specialty; he could be diplomatic when he needed to be, but he was generally better at letting his lightsabers get his point across. At the same time, though, he knew what it was like to be as despondent as Rei seemed to have become since he'd left her with the Council, and he had no intention of leaving her in that state. "C'mon," he eventually said, motioning for her to follow him back down the corridor he'd come from. "I know a place that should help you calm down a bit."

Rei was confused by Elizar suddenly departing with her in tow, but she made no objection to this sudden change of plans. After all, if he was taking her somewhere that would help set her mind at ease, she had no reason not to accompany him.

"You do realize the risks we're taking here?" the Togruta addressed the rest of the Council. "Something like this has only been done once in the history of the Order."

"And it was a resounding success," a human male reminded her.

"Yes, but that may not be the case this time," a Zabrak male spoke up. "The process doesn't seem to have worked properly with her."

"Due to her Diathim side, no doubt," a Rodian female interjected. "Their kind are genetically unpredictable. Even being only a Nephilim is likely enough to cause unusual reactions to things like this."

"You heard her thoughts," the Zabrak continued. "She's completely bereft of any understanding of her emotions. Let's ignore for a moment the possibility that she's also lost her understanding of basic social customs; if she can't even understand her own feelings, how can she be expected to know when she's letting herself fall too close to the dark side?"

"She can be re-taught," a blue-skinned Twi'lek male countered. "As she would be taught all the ways of the Jedi if we decided to retain her. Or would you rather we'd simply left her the way we found her?"

That brought the debate to a momentary halt. They had all seen the images the Twi'lek was referring to, after all, and none of them were interested in letting that brief scenario continue to play itself out. "I would rather we'd simply put her out of her misery," the Zabrak answered quietly after a few moments.

"You know that's not our way," a Mirialan female chastised him.

"What's done is done," the human male spoke up again. "I say we should assign her to a Master. We've all seen that she is quite powerful, too powerful to allow her to further explore her abilities without guidance."

"And what if she remembers?" the Togruta interjected again. "What if she finds out what's been done to her? Even worse, what if she reverts? Far better for us to put her down now than to risk letting her fall into that state again."

The Kel Dor—Jedi Grand Master Zym—chose then to raise his hand to silence the others, effectively bringing the argument to a close. "We can debate what might happen until the nerfs come home," he told the rest of the Council, "but without any sort of warning in the Force to support any of the possible 'what ifs,' we should focus on the here and now. The fact of the matter is that she is potentially dangerous, but the potential for that danger increases if we allow her to experiment with her powers unchecked."

"You believe she should be formally trained, then," the Zabrak spoke for the rest of the Council.

"I do," Zym answered with a nod. "Contact Master Fuyutsuki. His methods may be a bit unorthodox at times, but his record of successfully training Jedi to Knighthood has always been exemplary, and it's been some time since he last had a Padawan under his wing. I think it's time for him to assume the mantle of instructor again."

"So what do you think?" Elizar asked once they reached their destination.

Rei found herself initially speechless at the sight before her. The "room" she'd been led to was an enormous greenhouse, easily six or seven stories tall, filled with more types of foliage than any single planet could have produced. Multiple paths led off in several different directions from the entry platform, presumably allowing visitors to explore the myriad natural wonders the room contained. Bridges led across the occasional stream flowing through some of the paths, and the steady trickle of countless fountains could be faintly heard alongside the roar of the waterfall in the center of the chamber. In addition, the ceiling seemed to have been constructed in such a way as to simulate the outdoor sky, giving the greenhouse's occupants the impression of being inside an exotic jungle rather than another of Coruscant's technological wonders. "Beautiful," Rei whispered when she finally found her voice again.

"We call it the Room of a Thousand Fountains," the older boy told her as he led her along one of the starting paths, his voice filled with all the reverence a chamber such as this deserved. "Granted, nobody's ever actually taken the time to count them all—as far as I know, anyway—so that number might not be accurate. Sounds good, though," he added with a wry smile as he took a seat on one of the nearby benches. Rei took a seat on the other side of the bench, continuing to observe the simulated natural beauty surrounding her. "Most of us use it as a place to meditate in peace," Elizar continued, "but there's plenty of room for those of us who want to get in some private lightsaber training, too. I've heard the Council even holds some of its meetings here."

Rei had to admit, the Room was certainly peaceful; were her situation different, she would likely be willing to lose herself in the chamber's natural wonder. Under the circumstances, though…"What's going to become of me, Elizar?" she asked after a few moments of quiet. "The Council gave me no indication as to whether I had passed or failed their tests."

"Dunno," Elizar admitted. "Calling up visions of the future at will is a bit beyond me right now. If they decide to retrain you, they'll assign you to a new Master. You'll be re-taught the ways of the Force, how to handle a lightsaber, all the basic Jedi stuff."

"And…if I am not to be retrained?"

"Well," the older boy said after a moment's thought, "the Younglings who aren't assigned to a Master before they reach thirteen or so are usually reassigned to the Jedi Service Corps. They'd probably go that route if they decide against retraining you."

"I see," Rei said quietly. "At least…at least I will still have a purpose either way."

"Sounds like that's important to you," Elizar said, having noticed the subtle change in her tone of voice.

Rei nodded, trying to find the words to describe what she felt. "From what I understand, I've been training to be a Jedi all my life. I remember nothing of that time, yet I can feel the…the rightness of that assumption. If…if I lose that, if I'm deemed unworthy of continuing on the Jedi path…I would have nothing left. That's basically the same as being dead." She wasn't sure what made her feel that way—perhaps it was some lingering bit of her former self, perhaps it had something to do with her memory loss; whatever the reason, though, she simply knew that she needed a purpose in order to continue on with her life.

"Heh, well don't go picking out grave markers just yet," Elizar told her. "The Force guides us all to the purpose it has for us. It'll guide you to yours too, whether it's here with the rest of us or somewhere else in the galaxy."

"You've all spoken of this 'Force,'" Rei observed. "But…what exactly is it?"

Elizar was momentarily stunned by this, but he forced that surprise to pass just as quickly. Apparently, there was no telling just which portions of her memory remained intact and which were damaged. "The Force," he began, his voice taking on something of a recitative tone, "is what gives us the power to do what we do. It's an energy field that surrounds us, penetrates us, and holds the galaxy together. Life creates it, and it can have an influence on just about anything, but not all life can harness it. Only a rare few are born with the ability to tap into its power."

"The Jedi," the blue-haired girl surmised.

"Among others," Elizar corrected her. "Some Force-sensitive individuals are born into cultures with other views of the Force and how it should be handled. Some are discovered too late in life to be trained in the Jedi arts without…risk. Others…choose a different path."

"You refer to the dark side," Rei said, once again feeling that sense of cold that seemed to accompany the phrase.

Elizar nodded grimly, his entire demeanor darkening slightly. "It's a dangerous path we walk, Rei," he told her, "and not just for the obvious reasons. The temptations of the dark side are always there, always trying to bring us down. That's why we train ourselves to resist emotions like anger, fear, and greed. If we allow ourselves to be controlled by our negative emotions, we give the dark side an easy foothold in our lives."

"What is the difference between the Force you serve and this 'dark side'?"

"The Jedi serve the light side of the Force," Elizar told her. "We allow it to flow through us, to guide our actions, but we can also use it to access abilities other beings don't have, or just to augment what we can already do. We strive for the betterment of all sentient beings, to maintain peace and justice throughout the galaxy. We put the needs of others before our own personal wants. Darksiders…are just the opposite. They feed on the emotions we try to avoid—anger, aggression, hatred, fear—in order to give them power. They care only about their own desires, their own power. They use the Force as nothing more than a tool to achieve their own selfish ends, rather than let themselves be used by it in return for its abilities."

"You make them sound…evil," Rei said.

"They are," the older boy told her. "Not all of them overtly so, of course—that's the Sith's domain—but they're largely impulsive and destructive by nature. They think their power gives them the right to do whatever they please, even—sometimes especially—if others get hurt by their actions. Some lightsiders even turn to the dark side thinking that it's the only way to achieve the greater good, but they end up becoming agents of the evil they swore to defeat."

"I see," Rei said. She was mildly curious about these "Sith" Elizar had mentioned, but there was another question she wanted answered first. "Is…is the dark side more powerful than the light?"

"Its wielders like to think it is," he told her with a slight grin. "And on the surface, it might actually seem to be stronger. The dark side grants its power to its users faster than the light side, as well as giving them access to powers the Jedi and other lightsiders would never even consider using. But that power comes at a price: the more you use it, the more it eats away at you. The effect is different from person to person, but it gradually destroys just about everyone who uses it."

"Why would someone utilize a power so inherently dangerous to its wielders?"

"Because it's addictive, I guess," Elizar said. "Master Kiran once told me 'If you start down the dark path even once, it will dominate your destiny forever, and eventually consume you.' The dark side's power is like a drug: the more you use it, the more you want to use it again, despite the dangers that come—" His explanation was cut off by a steady beeping from the comlink Rei had been given. The two teenagers glanced at the comlink for a moment before looking back to each other. Neither needed to guess at the nature of the transmission: since the only ones who had Rei's comlink frequency so far were the High Council members, it had to be about whether or not she'd be joining the Order. "Force be with you, Rei," he told her with a nod.

Rei was far less enthusiastic about the situation than Elizar. She was still worried about what the Council had decided, but she knew that putting off answering her comlink would only make it worse. She removed the comlink from her belt and activated the receiver, silently hoping for good news. "Yes?" she answered whoever was on the other line.

"Hello there," an unfamiliar male voice answered her. "Rei Ayanami, I presume?"

"Yes," she answered simply.

"I'm Jedi Master Kozo Fuyutsuki, and I'll be teaching you the ways of our Order for the foreseeable future—assuming you have no objections, of course."

"None, Master," Rei told him.

"Splendid," Fuyutsuki told her. "In the meantime…Padawan Naki, I assume you're still watching over our newest addition?"

"Uhh…y-yes, Master," Elizar answered, surprised that Master Fuyutsuki knew he was still with Rei. Then again, he was a Master; feats like this were hardly beyond the scope of someone with his power.

"Good. Escort Padawan Ayanami to one of the Rotunda chapels along the Meditative Walkway. Teach her a few basic meditation techniques before leaving her to her task for the night."

"As you wish, Master Fuyutsuki."

"Excellent. Now then, Rei, we'll meet tomorrow in one of the Temple dojos to begin your training. Be sure you're well rested once you finish in the chapel. You're going to have a busy day ahead of you."

"I'll be ready, Master," Rei assured him.

"Then I'll see you tomorrow. Fuyutsuki out."

"Well," Elizar said as he got up from the bench, "it was a nice break while it lasted. C'mon, the chapels aren't that far from here."

"What am I to do now?" Rei asked as she followed the older boy out, curious about the exchange she'd just been a part of.

"Once an initiate has been chosen as someone's Padawan learner," Elizar told her, "they go to one of the Temple's four Rotunda chapels. They spend the rest of the night there, meditating alone before going off to meet their new Master the next day."

"And since I have no memory of such techniques," Rei finished, "Master Fuyutsuki has ordered you to teach them to me."

"The basic ones, yeah," he confirmed. "It should only take an hour at most, maybe a little longer since you're starting from scratch."

"Why…are you doing all this for me?"

"Well, Master Fuyutsuki did order me to," he told her with a grin.

"I mean before that," Rei said, completely missing Elizar's joking tone. "I half-threatened to attack you only a matter of hours ago. Why have you been so nice to me since then?"

"It's what we do," he told her with a shrug. "Jedi are sworn to help those in need, after all. Besides," he added as he came to a stop, hitting the door controls that opened the way into what Rei assumed to be their destination, "you seemed like you could really use a friend back there, and since you can never have too many of those, I was happy to oblige."

Rei found herself surprised by just how compassionate this boy was. For some reason, the concept seemed…foreign to her, as though her firsthand experience with it in her former life had been limited. After a few moments of silence, she allowed herself a slight smile—the first one she could remember—and a brief nod of thanks in Elizar's direction; if everyone in the Order was as compassionate as him, recovering her lost skills might not be as hard as she'd initially believed. "Let's get started, then," she told him as she entered the chapel. "I'd rather not keep you any longer than necessary; you probably need your rest as much as I will."

Elizar nodded before following her inside, taking a seat at one end of the chapel as he prepared to teach her the basics of meditation.

Rei awoke in the chapel the next morning feeling surprisingly refreshed. She supposed she had Elizar to thank for that, since he'd taught her a Force ability that allowed her to get more rest from less sleep in addition to the basic meditative techniques he'd been instructed to show her. Her official thanks would have to wait, though; she had neglected to obtain his comlink frequency during their outing the previous night, and she still had much to do in preparation for her first meeting with her new Master.

Vacating the chapel she'd inadvertently fallen asleep in, she made her way to a nearby computer terminal and accessed a map of the Temple. Her first tasks of the day were to find an available sanisteam or sonic shower in which to freshen herself up, along with any sort of eating establishment the Temple might contain. Neither was difficult to locate, and roughly an hour later Rei made her way to another terminal feeling much cleaner and more sated than before.

Unfortunately, her main goal for the morning was going to be far trickier. Master Fuyutsuki had simply told her to meet him in "one of the Temple dojos" to start her training, but even a cursory perusal of the Temple maps revealed the existence of more dojos than she cold easily count. Complicating matters even further was the fact that she couldn't contact her new Master for clarification because she didn't have his comlink frequency on hand, as her relatively simplistic comlink seemed to lack any sort of frequency recall or search function. She briefly considered simply asking someone for help, but there didn't appear to be anyone else around—most of the Temple's inhabitants were likely still asleep, as the hour was still quite early. That meant that she would likely be forced to search each dojo in turn, a process that could take her most of the morning—longer, if Master Fuyutsuki arrived at a particular dojo after she'd already checked it.

Fortunately, the previous evening's events provided her with a possible solution. Elizar had suggested that Jedi allowed the Force to flow through them and guide their actions, potentially offering them solutions to problems that seemed otherwise unsolvable. Perhaps, she reasoned, if she simply opened herself up to the Force's influence, it would guide her steps and allow her to locate the dojo she was supposed to meet Master Fuyutsuki in. That seemed to Rei to be the only viable solution at this point, so she closed her eyes and began going through one of the meditation techniques she'd learned the previous night, clearing her mind and opening herself to guidance from the Force.

It only took a couple of minutes for her to receive some semblance of an answer. Feeling a sudden urge to look over the Temple map again, Rei began cycling through the different sections that held one or more of the Temple's training facilities. She paused when she reached the section of the map that showed the Tower of First Knowledge, which contained at least two dojos: one near the top of the tower, another on the entrance level. That one, she thought as she eyed the smaller, simpler-looking dojo toward the top. That's where he'll be. Under any other circumstances, she would have questioned why she was so certain of that; as things stood, though, she was reasonably sure that her sudden certainty was a result of subtle prodding from the Force. Regardless, the Tower of First Knowledge was located in the same general area of the Temple as she was now, making it as good a place to begin her search as any.

Once she reached the Tower, she took a turbolift to the floor the smaller dojo was on. A short walk later, she found herself standing inside a two-story training room, bronzium statues pillaring the walls up to the second story balcony. Racks mounted on the first story walls held some sort of spherical constructs (training remotes, Rei guessed), while the second story walls were lined with tapestries that depicted several different combat stances. Though the room contained plenty of artificial light sources, most of the present illumination came from a large window overlooking the Temple's central tower—Tranquility Spire, if she remembered what she'd seen on the map correctly.

In the center of the room stood an aged human male with slicked-back gray hair, presumably her new Master, his back presently facing her as he stared out the window. He wore a reddish-brown tunic over a black shirt and pants, with matching black belt, boots, and caped mantle. Though he appeared to be at least sixty standard years old, age seemed to have done little to decrease his physical prowess. If anything, Rei guessed that the man before her was likely more dangerous in a fight now due to his stronger connection to the Force than he'd been in his younger years. "Well done, child," he said shortly after she entered the room. "You got here a little more quickly than I expected."

"This was another test," Rei said.

"Designed to test your readiness to give yourself over to the Force for guidance, yes," Fuyutsuki told her as he turned to face her, his brown-eyed gaze resting on her as he continued. "You're the fourth Padawan I've had the privilege of training, as well as the fourth I've administered this test to. One of your predecessors stumbled around the Temple for hours trying to find me. Another noticed the way I'd phrased things and asked me for clarification, at which point I told them to look to the Force for their answer."

"And the third?" she asked.

"The third missed the implications of my phrasing but readily turned to the Force to find me, much as you did," Fuyutsuki told her. "Granted, that student lacked Padawan Naki's sleep enhancement technique and ended up oversleeping after their stint in the chapel, so it would appear that you hold the record in this little test," he added with a humorous twinkle in his eye.

"I'm honored," Rei replied, once again missing the joke.

Fuyutsuki's good cheer faltered slightly when his new student didn't even smile at his attempt at humor. He hadn't expected the girl to be quite this serious-minded. He'd dealt with worse, though, and he was confident that he could help her regain the humanity she'd lost as a result of her…accident, in addition to teaching her the ways of the Jedi. "In any case," he continued on, "I feel I should inform you now that you are not my student by my choosing; the Council apparently decided that it was time for me to take another Padawan, and your arrival here simply gave them an excuse to throw me back into the role of instructor. But while I may not have chosen you personally, that doesn't mean that I plan to do any less than my best to instruct you on your way to Knighthood, and I will expect nothing less than your best in return."

"I will try my best, Master."

"Do or do not, young one," Fuyutsuki admonished her. "There is no 'try'."

"Apologies, Master. I simply meant that I will do my best not to fail you."

"Just be sure that you don't fail yourself, either," the older Jedi told her. "Now then, let's begin with a brief refresher course on the Force itself."

"Forgive me for interrupting," Rei said, "but Padawan Naki has already told me much about the light and dark sides."

"Has he now?" Fuyutsuki asked with some amusement. If Rei continued to learn this much elsewhere, his job was going to end up being considerably easier.

Rei nodded in response, feeling as though she should feel at least a little guilty about depriving her Master of part of his lesson. "He…neglected to elaborate as to who or what the Sith are, however."

"Our greatest enemies?" Fuyutsuki replied. "Strange that Padawan Naki neglected to tell you about them."

"I…asked him to elaborate more on the dark side as a whole first," Rei clarified, suddenly drawing her arms around herself. "Just…speaking the words leaves me feeling cold. I don't understand how this can be so."

Fuyutsuki watched the girl for a moment, wondering how best to handle the situation. Given what he'd been told of his new student's life to date, her reaction was only natural, even if she herself didn't understand it. "The dark side has that effect sometimes," he reassured her. "Perhaps you're experiencing some lingering effects of exposure to it in your past."

"Perhaps," Rei agreed, feeling only slightly relieved by her Master's words. "But…when would I have been exposed to the dark side?"

"The war has been raging galaxy-wide for longer than you've been alive, child," the elder Jedi reminded her. "It's hardly a stretch to assume that you and your former Master might have been involved in it at some point."


"Ah yes," Fuyutsuki said, "I keep forgetting just how serious your condition is. It's been so long since the war started that it's hard to imagine anyone not knowing about it. I'll start by answering your original question, though. The Sith Order is the largest and most dangerous organization of darksiders in the known galaxy. It was started by a group of exiled Dark Jedi, who eventually ended up on Korriban and took the name of the indigenous humanoids for themselves. Our order and theirs have clashed many times over the millennia, and up until recently we believed them to have been completely eradicated. About 25 years ago, though, the Sith came out of hiding once again, now in control of a rebuilt empire. They took us by surprise, taking many star systems for their own and revealing a treacherous framework of allies that caught the Republic completely off-guard. The Republic and the Jedi have been at war with the Empire ever since, and the tide has shifted several times, largely due to the involvement of the Mandalorians, a multi-racial coalition of warrior nomads whose long-standing grudge against us led to their eventual alliance with the Empire. The eventual outcome is…still unforeseeable."

"And you believe I was involved in this war at some point before arriving here," Rei said.

"Perhaps. Strangely, the Order possesses little in the way of documentation of your and your Master's activities until now. The only thing we even know for absolute certain about you, besides your…unusual arrival here, is that you're the offspring of a human father and a Diathim mother."

"Diathim?" Rei repeated quietly. The word brought to mind vague images of a winged being that, while at least marginally humanoid, was exotic enough that it would never be confused for a human. Is that why my appearance is so…unusual? she wondered.

"Not an easy feat," Fuyutsuki commented, "winning the heart of a Diathim. I don't envy your father the effort he must've gone through for her. Not to mention…" He trailed off at that point, letting out a slight chuckle rather than finish the thought.

"Not to mention what, Master?" Rei asked, curious as to what the elder Jedi was talking about.

"Nothing important, Rei," Fuyutsuki reassured her. "We can discuss Nephilim genetic viability another time, if you like. For now, let us return to your lesson. Since Padawan Naki has already given you a basic rundown on the light and dark sides of the Force, we can probably skip over the Living Force and Unifying Force views for now in favor of discussing the three aspects of the Force."

"Aspects?" Rei repeated.

"A categorization method we use to describe the basic nature of what we can do with the Force," he told her. "Depending on what a particular Force power does, it gets attributed to either the Control, Sense, or Alter aspect of the Force, although many powers utilize more than one aspect.

"The first aspect we generally teach students is Control. Powers within this aspect allow a Jedi to control their own bodily function—increase one's concentration or memory, ignore or heal one's wounds, or temporarily enhance their own physical prowess. The meditations and sleep enhancement abilities you learned last night fall within this category.

"Sense is usually taught next," Fuyutsuki continued. "With powers in this aspect, Jedi gain extra insight into the world around them. We can use the Sense aspect to detect general or specific life forms in our vicinity, send or read thoughts, heighten the senses, or peer into events of the past—or receive visions of the possible future."

"The testing screen," Rei surmised. "It was designed to test my affinity with this aspect, wasn't it?"

"Indeed it was," her Master told her. "Sense may be the second aspect to be taught, but many of a Jedi's most useful abilities fall within its bounds. In combat, Sense can be used to gain brief insight into opponents' actions, while Control helps us redirect our moves to defend ourselves from enemy attacks."

"If Control grants a Jedi control over their own body," Rei said, "and Sense allows insight into the world around us…then Alter must allow us to effect things other than our own bodies."

"Your insight serves you well, child," Fuyutsuki complimented her. "Alter is the last aspect a Padawan is usually taught, due to the potential for harm if not properly controlled. It allows us to make changes to the world around us, or can be combined with powers from other aspects to extend those powers to others. The Sith generally make more use of this aspect than the Jedi, using it to conjure lightning from their fingertips or inflict injuries with the barest touch, but it can also be used to heal others, provide protection in combat, or achieve telekinetic feats. For example—"

Before Rei could react, the elder Jedi thrust his palm out in her general direction, hitting her with a wave of invisible something that sent her flying backwards a few meters. She collapsed to her knees, clutching her chest as she tried to recover the breath her Master's attack had knocked out of her, as she looked back at the older man in surprise.

"I apologize for that," Fuyutsuki told her as he approached her, stopping a meter or two away, "but I wanted you to experience what we call a 'Force push' before you attempted one yourself. In my experience, many students seem to find the ability easier to replicate once they've felt its effects firsthand."

"What am I to do?" Rei asked as she got up again, only slightly upset about the lack of warning her Master had given her regarding this particular teaching method.

"Recreate the power you just saw," Fuyutsuki said, "and attempt to push me backwards." At the same time, though, Rei saw him make some sort of subtle motions with his arms, just before his body was surrounded by a dim blue aura. The blue-haired girl assumed her Master was using a defensive power of some kind or other, likely as a way to defend himself from Rei's attempted Force push. The fact that he had time to prepare a defense against her attack hardly seemed fair, given the surprise push he'd used on her, but she assumed this was simply part of Master Fuyutsuki's teaching style and that she'd learn defensive techniques of her own at some point during her training.

For the time being, she decided to focus on the task set before her. She doubted she'd be able to do much, given her lack of experience and her Master's defenses, but the only way to learn how far she had to go was to determine where she was. She began to focus her mind, drawing Force energy into herself while she thought back to the push attack Master Fuyutsuki had used on her. Once she was relatively certain of her ability to recreate the telekinetic strike, she mimicked her Master's actions and thrust an open palm in the elder Jedi's direction.

A visible shockwave of Force energy shot forward from her hand with an almost deafening concussive blast. The attack slammed into Fuyutsuki before he could react, shattering his defensive abilities and sending him rocketing backwards into a remote rack. The aged Jedi collapsed to the ground, remotes falling off the damaged rack and hitting him on their way down.

"MASTER!" Rei exclaimed, rushing over to Fuyutsuki's side to make sure he was okay. "Are you alright, Master?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine," her Master reassured her as he carefully returned to his feet. "I just…wasn't expecting an attack of that caliber from you just yet. I've never had the honor of training an Unleashed before."

"Unleashed?" Rei repeated.

"It's a term some of the younger generations have been using recently," the older man explained. "The Unleashed are Force-sensitives with a nearly-primal affinity for the Alter aspect of the Force. They're—more accurately 'you're,' I suppose—generally capable of using Alter powers with far more potency than other Jedi."

"Is…is that good?"

"Depends on who you ask," he told her with a wry grin. "Some of the old-guard Masters are overly wary of Unleashed, but the general consensus seems to be positive to neutral. Of course, you'll need to learn to better control that power; the ability to use powers of that magnitude tends to have muted benefits when you're attempting stealth…or don't wish to throw your opponent through a wall," he added with a trace of humor.

"O-of course, Master," Rei agreed, blushing slightly at the reminder of what she'd just done. She'd been worried about being too weak in this aspect of her training, but now it seemed like she'd have to work at simply keeping her capabilities in check. The prospect worried her, but only slightly; for the most part, she was certain her training would give her the control she needed.

"Well then," Fuyutsuki said as he walked back to the center of the dojo, "now that I have a better idea of what your base capabilities are, what say we start your training in earnest?"

A/N: geez, that took me forever. I was hoping to have this done two or three weeks ago, but getting sick in the meantime kinda sapped my energy/concentration for a while. Oh well, a least I got this done at all.

I'm also sorry that not much really happened in this chapter, outside of the other characters bombarding Rei with exposition that a lot of you guys probably already knew. Don't worry, we'll be time-skipping a bit to Rei's first mission in the next chapter, so the action should pick up considerably. In the meantime, if you're curious about some of the character/costume designs, I'll be uploading some rather chibified avatars of the non-canon characters to a folder in my Photobucket account; Rei, Elizar, and Fuyutsuki are currently uploaded and available for viewing. It's not really relevant yet, but if you wanna see Elizar's lightsaber design, go to www (dot) parksabers (dot) com (slash) inertia (dot) html.

'Til next time!