Chapter 3 -Tough Training -
Luke Skywalker strolled slowly down the busy hall in the JedI Temple, watching students and teachers alike as they chatted in small groups. He had his black robe on, truly a comfort compared to his older robes. He eyed the polished marble walls with the JedI Symbol engraved every ten feet. So much work in restoring this place, destroyed twice. Once by The Empire and then the Yuuzhan Vong. Only a year ago, it was nothing but rubble and living vines.
He waved a hand and a nearby door slid to one side. He walked into Late Learners 331 and eyed his five students, all kneeling down with their brown hoods pulled over their heads, in deep meditation.
" Good morning. " He said gently, every student slowly took their hoods off and stood up.
" Good morning, Master Skywalker. " They responded in unison.
" The five of you have been put on a path guided by the force. Can anyone tell me how long it will be before your training in the force ends ? " Luke looked at each student's facial expression, some were in deep thought at the question.
Kinta Paschal raised her hand , trying hard not to show overconfidence. The other four gave the Mon Calimarian a slight eye roll.
" Kinta." Luke nodded.
" A JedI's training in the force never ends. " Kinta sang in her sweet sounding voice.
" Correct, very good Kinta. It never truly ends, the ultimate knowledge in the force is as massive as the galaxy itself. Did you know that a thousand years ago, the guidelines and strict rules wouldn't allow you to be even considered for JedI training ? " Luke wandered over to a nearby window, Coruscant stretched into the horizon. He suddenly had a puzzled expression on his face.
" Master Skywalker ? Is everything alright ? " The small teenage boy, Jroclax asked, concerned.
Luke turned and smiled reassuringly, " Yes, everything is fine. " What was that ? A slight feeling of impending doom. But from where ? From what ?
" It was just a passing feeling I had. "
" Master Hake told us to always trust your feelings. " Bolleq' Tu stated in a robotic voice through his breathing mask, the young Falleen stood with his gloved hands clasped behind him.
" He's wise in telling you that. As a JedI you must listen to the force, trust your feelings. Tell me students , " Luke walked over to a large chest by the wall, " how well have you been trained in lightsaber techniques ? "
A taller male teen named Grenner stepped forward, " Minimal training Master Skywalker. We have been working on the skills we excel at best. " His voice sounded like a scratching, loud whisper. There was a long scar on his throat.
" Please put your lightsabers aside. We will be using these training sabers, we don't need any accidents." Luke handed out the training sabers to the five students, they handed him their own lightsabers in turn.
" I'll be matching you size per size. Grenner, please step forward." Luke motioned the tall teen to a large circular area at the end of the room. He then eyed the rest of the students. The next student that matched Grenner's size would be Kinta.
" Kinta, please join Grenner in the training zone. " Luke followed Kinta toward the room. She walked to the middle of the room and faced Grenner. Luke stood by the entrance as the other three students stood just behind him. Luke pushed a button on the wall and a clear, plasticrete door closed in front of him. He opened a small panel and took a tiny microphone out.
" You may begin. A lethal blow will end the match." Luke announced.
Grenner took a step back and activated his lightsaber, a bright white energy blade hummed to life. Kinta copied his actions exactly. The tall boy took a powerful swipe at her, she blocked it but the force of the swing sent her to staggering a little to one side.
" Kinta, use his power against him. Grenner, finesse is called for against a savvy opponent. Remember, a JedI uses his power to protect, for defense. " Luke announced over the speaker.
Kinta nodded as she ducked a lightsaber strike by Grenner, she counter attacked quickly but was blocked and shoved back a step. Grenner took a low right swing at her but she did a side vault and batted the saber away with her own, she landed and tried a powerful overhead swing at Grenner's head, he blocked it and they clashed up close. They started to quickly attack and parry up close until Kinta barely avoided a face hit and jumped back.
Luke turned to the three students behind him, " Always be ready to think. Your mind is your most powerful ally." He pressed a button on the wall next to the clear plasticrete. Grenner and Kinta immediately started to flail and kick their feet as the gravity was extinguished from the room. Grenner panicked a little as he tried to balance his weight, Kinta used the force to ground herself straight, she took a swipe at Grenner and hit him on the shoulder. He yelped as the shock numbed his entire shoulder. He did a slow back flip, then slowed to his feet. He winced as he shook his arm out. Kinta jumped forward and slashed at Grenner, he did a one handed strike and it knocked her sabre out of her hand, he did a jumping twirl and struck Kinta hard on the hip, sending her spinning out of control towards the ceiling.
Luke used the force and lowered her to the floor. He then returned the gravity to normal. " Match over, good job Grenner and Kinta."
Kinta stood dejected. But she acknowledged Grenner's success. " Good match, Grenner. You used the gravity against me."
" I'd be a goner without it, " Grenner smiled, " you fought well. "
Several hours later…
After match after match, Luke finally made his private assessments of his students. Grenner was the most powerful and talented in lightsaber use, with three decisive victories. Kinta Paschel was next with two victories and one loss against Grenner, she possessed a finesse that reminded Luke of Jiana Solo.
Jroclax was clearly the worst, losing all of his matches quickly, but he was a pretty small teenage boy. Luke knew he would need a lot of work. The masked Falleen Bolleq'Tu was very agile and it worked to his advantage, he also smartly used his force pushing abilities to gain two victories. But he lost to Kinta and Grenner. The next boy was Dawe. Dawe was a slightly overweight boy of medium height with long, black hair and a moon face. He got one quick victory against the small Jroclax.
" Nice exercise today students. We will have more of these exercises. Each exercise will end in a five on one match with stun lasers. " Luke walked to the edge of the training zone. The students gave each other confused stares.
Luke walked to the center of the training zone. He removed his black robe to reveal his black jumpsuit, he activated his training saber and smiled, " Main event, the five of you against me, with stun lasers that will fire from all directions. Be mindful of the lasers, they will drop you out of the match. " Luke waved his hand towards the domed ceiling and twenty little metal spheres floated down to surround them all.
" Let's begin."
The five students activated their white sabers and advanced slowly on Luke. The Grandmaster deflected two quick strikes on his left and right by Grenner and Kinta. The metal sphere's all began to fire small blue lasers all over the place. The students did a good job of anticipating the laser trajectories as they turned and deflected the lasers quickly. Luke deflected a few of his own before he turned his attention to an attacking Jroclax, he blocked two strikes and slashed Jroclax down the front of his chest. The small Jroclax fell and slid out of action. The masked Falleen Bolleq' Tu and the pudgy Dawe attacked Luke simultaneously, Luke easily defended himself, he then deflected a blue laser at Bolleq'tu's leg, it stunned him and he grabbed at his own leg, Dawe took a long side swipe at Luke but the Grandmaster redirected the blow and it hit Bolleq'Tu right on the chest, sending him falling out of action.
" Sorry …" Dawe began to yell but Luke hit him on the stomach with his saber and he fell as well.
" Never take your eye off of your opponent. " Luke said calmly as he deflected several bolts at once.
Grenner was grazed on the arm with a bolt but he continued to block them along side Kinta. Luke noticed how much they struggled with the bolts compared to the other three students. Kinta touched Grenner's arm and immediately healed his numbness. Luke raised his eyebrows.
They both turned and started to attack Luke, he dodged, blocked and parried his students, with bolts barely missing them all. Kinta did a jumping overhead strike at Luke, he blocked and did a slow backward somersault, at the same moment he used the force and snatched her lightsaber out of her hand, he used both sabers to redirect bolts at her, she was stunned repeatedly and fell out of action. Grenner made a run at Luke, he blocked and attacked with both sabers, Grenner jumped back while taking powerful side swipes to defend himself. Luke deflected three blue bolts towards Grenner who deflected them right back at Luke, one bolt hit Luke on the arm and sent one saber clattering to the floor. Wow ! Nice move ! Luke deflected a few more bolts at Grenner, the tall boy did his best to deflect the bolts away from himself. Luke used the distraction to throw his sabre and nail the tall boy on the chest, he then called the sabre back to his hand. Grenner fell holding his chest.
" Excellent work, students. " Luke waved a hand and the twenty spheres returned to the domed ceiling.
Grenner shot to his feet, his face was drenched in sweat, " You cheated."
The remaining students glanced at each other in shocked silence. In all the time they had trained with Master Skahent Hake, they never heard Grenner talk back to the teacher in such a way.
" Explain. " Luke stated, giving Grenner a challenging stare.
" You distracted me and threw your lightsaber while I was concentrating on the laser bolts. " Grenner took a breath. He closed his eyes and took another breath, then he took a step towards Luke, " I'm s-sorry Master Skywalker. I let my emotions take control. I know I shouldn't do that."
" Lesson learned students. Never let your emotions take over, it can lead to the dark side. I want you to be smart, use your mind. That was the point of this final battle today, in all the chaos, you have to train your mind to slow down the battle. To see every bolt as though its coming towards you in slow motion, to plan your every strike. But to remain calm, never panic or lose your focus. You all did very well today. We'll have more of these sessions in the future. Today's lesson is over. Tomorrow we'll study the history of the JedI Order. You are dismissed. May the force be with you. "
Luke laid back in his bed. Mara Jade snuggled close to his neck, he could feel her breath cover his chest. She was in a deep sleep. He stared at the ceiling of his room and thought about Grenner's emotion at the end of a grueling training day. I pushed them too hard today. My first day of teaching them and I do that. I'll have to apologize to them tomorrow for sure. That's a really old teaching technique, we're not about that anymore. I'll have to try and remember that. He started to drift off to sleep, he recalled the strange feeling he had at the start of the day when he stared out the window in his classroom. What was that sensation ? It was so fleeting , but it was like a warning. Maybe I'm getting too old and I'm starting to lose my mind. I sure hope not.
" I love you. " Mara whispered loudly in her sleep. It startled him for a second. He kissed her on the forehead then drifted off to sleep himself.
End of Chapter 3