Well, it's been a fun ride. I started writing this story about three years ago when I just got started into writing and I've now got my first real story idea that I've got going on. So it's likely to be a while before I come back with anymore fan fiction. Time for me to move on, I guess.
And as the other chapters, this one is coming out much later than I expected. And much longer than I expected. Thank you to everyone who read this story and to all of you who took the time to let me know how much you enjoyed it. You were a big part of the motivation that kept me on with wanting to finish it. Thank you!
-The Second Arm of the Force
-Part III – Force Apocalypse
Three months have gone by. Through minor attacks here and there, the Jedi Order has managed to force the Dark Jedi into a semi-retreat. However, this temporary victory is by no means permanent. It was paid for with a good deal of Jedi. Now, the Jedi Order is on its way to Coruscant to seek New Republic military assistance from the Senate.
I sat in a chair in the medical room on the ship to Coruscant, while a medical droid was cutting a bandage off of my arm. Several weeks before that, a Dark Jedi had blasted some Force Lightning in my direction and some of the bolts hit and scorched my left forearm. That forced me out of battle for a while and it had healed enough now to take the bandages off.
Once it was removed, the medical droid asked, "How does your arm feel now, sir?"
I held my left forearm in my right hand and flexed and moved it. It felt better to finally be able to feel my arm again. My wrist popped the first few times it was bent, from lack of movement the past few weeks. I nodded and replied, "It feels better. There's still a little bit of pain, but I can deal with it easily enough." I gave sideways glance to Master Jade-Skywalker, who sat nearby and added, "Though it'd have healed better and more quickly with bacta."
She simply replied, "Our bacta is in short supply and we don't know what is coming. At another time in this war, it might be needed more crucially than for burn treatments. We need to conserve it for those that really need it."
I nodded. "I know. It's just hard to have to sit back and let others go into battle, when we have the very thing that can heal me enough to go back out and fight."
"There will be enough battles in this for everyone to be sick of fighting long before it's over."
As the medical droid did some of his final tests on my arm, I noticed my reflection in a mirror across the room. I would've been practically unrecognizable to anyone I left behind when I came to this universe. Thanks to my many months of training, any trace of fat on my body had turned into muscle.
When I looked into myself, I no longer saw a shy, timid boy. I saw a man; confident in what he was capable of. Confident, but not so arrogant as to think himself better or above others. His Jedi training had started him on that path, but it was mere weeks of battle that did what months at the Academy could never do. War really does have what it takes to put someone through many changes.
The medical droid did the last of his tests on my arm and said, "Sir, you are free to go."
"Thanks." I got up and looked back at Master Jade-Skywalker. "I'm going to see my friends real quick before we land for the meeting with the Senate."
Master Jade-Skywalker nodded. "Good. You should do that. And remember, you'll be at the Senate meeting, but you—"
"I'm not to jump up and start shouting at the Senators."
She lifted her eyebrows and continued, "Even if…"
I sighed. "Even if they say something really stupid that upsets me. Yes I know. Master Skywalker sat down with me and told me all of this already."
Master Jade-Skywalker stood up and said, "Good."
She was about to leave the room when I called out to her. "You know, this really isn't fair. It's been well over three months since the last time I lost my temper or disobeyed orders or anything like that. All this time I've been a 'good little Jedi.' How much longer before you'll all trust me again?"
"Keep your temper cool and your mouth shut during this meeting and I think we can talk about that."
Reluctantly I nodded and said, "Yes, Master." She left the room and I followed behind her through the door and walked the opposite way down the corridor.
Since the beginning of the war, it was rare when the order didn't travel together. This wasn't one of those times. I stepped into the large training arena where most of the students had been started on combat training of some form or another. Master Skywalker said that he didn't like some of the students starting so young, but with the war, he felt he had no other choice. They needed to at least learn defense should the need ever arise. And the Dark Jedi had already shown they had no reluctance in murdering children.
One area of the room was filled with students who had recently gotten their lightsabers and they were practicing with training remotes. Tallah was one of them and had her eyes covered with the blast shield of a pilot's helmet. I watched as she slowly walked in a circle not sure of where the remote would shoot next. A blast got by her and stung her foot. I winced to myself as she took a knee from the surprise, remembering the welts I had taken all over my body from learning.
In another area, Guild was practicing lightsaber techniques, but with a long steel dowel. He was among students who had shown themselves worthy of lightsaber training, but first needed a few more steps in learning to trust the Force. It was better that way, since they didn't have to worry about terrible accidents in training with the dowels. Tenel Ka losing her arm several years ago played a part in eventually taking this path in lightsaber training.
Finally, the last group in the training arena were the students who had shown skill in the Force, but were simply too young to get lightsabers or start on lightsaber combat. So they were learning more hand-to-hand combat techniques and acrobatics and enhancing speed and jumps through the Force. Ryndell was among these students. I watched with a smile as she took a running jump against a wall, kicking up with her foot and going about another ten feet into the air, before landing safely to the ground.
Jacen was nearby and helping the first group with the training remotes. When he saw me, he came over. "Hi Ben. Finally got the cast off?"
I raised my arm, made a fist and released. "Yeah. And it's about time. I was going crazy having to stand on the sidelines with a war going on." I couldn't help think about the lives we paid with to force the retreat. Trying to take my mind off of it, I asked motioning throughout the room, "So how are they all doing?"
Jacen's face grew sober and serious. "Good. Too good." He looked at them all and shook his head. "This is more than we should ask of them. They're just kids."
Nodding, I replied, "Going by age, so are we. War has its way of forcing you to grow up. How old were you when the Yuuzhan Vong came? Sixteen?"
Expressionlessly, Jacen nodded. "Yes. And already had my first kill under my belt."
Aside, I saw that Tallah had finished her training session. I turned to Jacen and put out my hand. "Well…may they never have to ignite a lightsaber."
Jacen took my hand and shook. "May they never have to make a fist."
Tallah and I walked side by side through the hallways and corridors of the ship. Most of the time, things were pretty quiet. Awkwardly so. Things hadn't been like this between us since my first days at the Academy.
Trying to think of something, anything to say, I asked, "How do you think your practice sessions are going?"
Tallah stopped and shrugged as she looked at me. "They're going fine, I suppose. I can tell that I'm not going to be the kind of Jedi who is going to make people stop in their tracks because of my lightsaber skills. I'm no warrior Jedi. I think I'm meant more for healing. I think most of the fighting is going to have to be from Jedi like you."
I raised my eyebrows and asked, "You think I am a warrior?"
The slight redness in her face clearly told me that was not what her intended meaning was. "Well, not exactly. But you are supposed to be destined to end this war, aren't you?"
I nodded and leaned against the opposing wall in the hallway. "Right. I'm supposed to end the war. I just wish I knew how I'm supposed to do it. We don't have enough Jedi to win this war on our own. If the Senate doesn't join the war along with us, I can't see how we could have any hope left."
"I'm sure they'll vote in favor of us. They just have to! Why wouldn't they?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. All that I know is that politicians can be very tricky when it comes to war. Some of them will follow their hearts on the matter. Others will try to figure out what public opinion is on the war issue and go with that. And others will try to sway public opinion to think the way that they want them to." I shook my head and looked at her. "Politics really have no place on the battlefield."
Tallah came close and put her arms around my waist. She then rested her head on my shoulder. Quietly she replied, "Neither do we." As we stood there in our embrace, Tallah looked up at me and asked, "Have you patched things up with Master Skywalker yet?"
We let go and I thought about that for a moment. About how upset Master Skywalker was with me three months ago when I blatantly disobeyed his orders. Twice. When I left the ship in pursuit of a Sith spacecraft. Then when I took Guild and Ryndell with me on the chase for Tallah, instead of going straight to the ship. I could still hear him in my head. "You did the very thing that was my reason to not want to bring you; you risked the life of two students to save Tallah."
I let out a deep breath and answered, "We're not exactly back to where things once were, but I think that we've come to an understanding about it all. It's just a matter of earning back the trust again."
The ship's intercom came to life and we Master Cilghal announce through it, "We are entering Coruscant air space. All members of the Jedi-Senate team please meet in the docking bay for the escort to the Senate."
I shrugged at Tallah after a moment and said, "Well, I guess I have to go now. We'll talk again soon. I promise."
The Senate team consisted of Master Skywalker and Master Jade-Skywalker, obviously, and Master Durron, Jacen, and about seven other Jedi that I had seen before, but didn't really know.
I was hunched over in my chair, just barely staying awake as I listened to the Senate go on and on for over an hour about menial little things when there was a much more important issue at hand: a war!
While rolling my eyes, I started thinking, well now that I think of it, I guess there are things more important than the lives of billions of innocent people. Legalizing the possession of death sticks, trying to fund grants to underprivileged Twi'lek exotic dancers, the possible environmental hazards of mining on unnamed planets. Yes, these things are soooo much more important!
I felt my body go limp about to fall asleep a couple times, but stopped myself both times just as it happened. Jacen sat next to me, clearly also bored, but doing a better job of hiding it. In fact, I don't think that a single Jedi at our table was paying complete attention anymore. I don't think even Master Skywalker was paying attention. Of course, anyone blind to the Force would swear that he was listening to every word. That man could be dead and some of these Senators would swear he was still alive!
My ears perked up and I sat up straighter when I finally heard Chief of State Cal Omas, leader of the New Republic and Senate utter the word, 'Jedi.' We all began to pay attention as he continued. "The next on our charter today is whether to place Republic soldiers into the command of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Jedi Order to help in their war against the Dark Jedi."
"If I may Chief of State," Master Jade-Skywalker said as she stood, "this is more than just our war against Dark Jedi. This war belongs to all of us."
Chief of State Cal Omas nodded at the correction; however, a Senator on the far side of the room got up and said, "And yet the only ones who they attack are the Jedi. There has not been a single casualty that has not been on your side or theirs."
Master Skywalker stood up at his wife's side and answered, "To this date, we have been their sole target, yes, but that is only because we are what keep them from taking over the galaxy. If they succeed in wiping us out, believe me, you will all be next. We must fight this war together."
The same Senator who spoke before came back with, "So the real issue is not just sending troops to fight for you, but in declaring full-out war on the Dark Jedi."
Master Skywalker thought about that and slowly nodded. "Yes, I suppose that is what I'm saying. As Jedi, we always hope for peace, but we also cannot deny war when it is so obviously necessary."
Another Senator gave a clap as he stood. "I agree with Master Skywalker. War is a terrible thing, but what else can we do in these times? The Senators of Corellia concur with the Jedi Order completely."
A wookiee Senator of Kashyyyk stood and raised an arm shouting something in wookiee that I didn't understand at all, but knew that it was support for our cause.
A raucous argument among the Senators began. Too much for me to keep accurate track of. All I knew was that I was hearing more negatives than positives.
A few minutes later, Jacen leaned in to me and whispered, "If the vote happens now, we won't get Republic support. It's about 60 to 40 against us."
I had no idea how Jacen was able to keep all of that straight in his head and I didn't bother to ask. I was just willing to accept that he was right and knew what he was talking about.
I really wanted to get up and say something. I wondered if I should. As long as I don't lose my temper, I won't be going against Master Skywalker's orders. I got up to my feet and had opened my mouth to speak, but that was all the chance I had before I had to act.
I unhooked my lightsaber and jumped from our platform about ten feet to the platform below us. Before the stunned Senators could ask what I was doing, they received their answer. A volley of blaster shots fired at the Senators and I deflected them harmlessly away from everyone.
Above me, I heard the shouts of the rest of the Jedi amongst themselves to find where the shots came from mingled with the snap-hiss of their own lightsabers. Senators began to panic and created a stampede of running and shoving to get out of the Senatorial Hall.
The Senators on the platform I had jumped to were still on the ground cowering. I looked down at them and said, "It's safe to get up now, go!"
They began to crawl away and run to freedom. One of them stopped to turn and say, "You saved our lives!"
I nodded in gratitude, but was still trying to get them to safety. "That's my job. Yours is to get out of here while you can."
When they were clear and out of sight, Master Skywalker leaned over the ledge and looked down at me. "Ben, are you all right?"
I nodded. "Yeah, I'm just fine. So are the Senators."
"Did you see the person who was shooting?"
"No. I just saw a dark silhouette. But I could tell that they were shooting from way up high. The top floor or maybe the roof by now…and I think it was a Dark Jedi."
Master Skywalker nodded. "Yes, we all think so too."
Taking the time to give him a small grin, I asked, "You think this will make them vote in our favor?"
Returning a quick frown at me for the inappropriate joke, he answered, "Time to worry about that later. We have to deal with this attacker right now."
I nodded and did a little Force-jump to the platform above and climbed up. All twelve members of the Jedi-Senate team together again, we ran for the upper levels of the Senate.
We were about to run into the lifts to take us to the roof, but Master Jade-Skywalker stopped us and said that any Dark Jedi could have rigged them with a bomb or some other trap. Master Skywalker nodded and told her that she made a good point. Since we might not have the time to stand here and inspect them, but we also might not have the time to run up the staircases, we split into two groups. Half of the team would stay behind and inspect the elevators and the other half would run for the staircase and pursue on foot. If the inspection showed nothing was wrong, then they'd get there first and we'd catch up. If something were rigged up, then they would catch up with us on foot.
Master Skywalker took half of us with him to the staircase, me being one of them. It took us about ten minutes to go around and around the staircases until we finally made it to the highest level. As we ran into the lobby, a quick scan showed no sign of Master Jade-Skywalker and the rest of the team that stayed behind.
Master Skywalker said, "It looks like there was something wrong with the lifts, after all. They should be with us in about ten minutes, or so. Depending on how long it took them to find the traps. Fan out a little and look for anything suspicious. Keep your lightsabers ready, but don't ignite them yet. I don't want any bystanders harmed. Lets do everything possible to take this Dark Jedi alive."
We all did as Master Skywalker said and unclipped our lightsabers, ready to ignite. Opening myself up to the Force with a calming breath I looked around as I walked down a wide corridor with Jacen ahead of me and Master Durron behind me. We came to a fork in the corridor and as the three of us stood there deciding on where to turn, a sensation in the Force ignited in my brain.
I spun my head to the left fork and saw a tall man who looked to be about in his late 30's. With a large blaster rifle slung over a shoulder…and a lightsaber at his hip. I ignited my lightsaber and charged after him. He turned and continued to run down the hallway.
Behind me, I vaguely heard Jacen and Master Durron call out to me, but didn't hear what they said. They were already out of sight before they could get out a word or two. The Dark Jedi was back in my sights again as I saw him run down one corridor, then another. Finally he went through a doorway. Yes, I thought with a victorious grin, I have you now!
I ran through the doorway and just as I stepped in, the door shut down behind me. I stopped and turned around to face the door. There was no panel to open it. Great! I'm stuck in here.
Then I noticed I was on a balcony high outside the Senate. I could almost reach up and touch the clouds. But I also noticed something else. I was alone. I knew that this was the doorway I saw the Dark Jedi run into. It began to dawn on me. It occurred to me that I saw him, but I didn't really feel him. What Jacen and Master Durron must have been trying to say as I began the chase. They were trying to stop me. I had been tricked.
I knew I saw the Dark Jedi run in here. But he wasn't real. A Force-projection. A mirage in my head for me to chase. A basic and simple trick taught to Jedi students at a young age. And I fell for it. I did exactly what he wanted me to do. I went to the edge of the balcony and started looking for a way to get out of there when I heard the hissing of the door opening.
Turning around to face the door, I saw the Dark Jedi from the image in my head. He was wearing a victorious grin, not unlike the one I had only moments before realizing I had been trapped. He stepped in and pushed a button inside that began to close the door. He quickly brought him arm out of the way. No way back inside for either of us.
"With three pathetic Jedi, I knew that at least one of you would fall for such a simple trick. You didn't even hesitate to chase. You must be the inexperienced one of the group." He lowered his sniper rifle and with a low thrum, brought it to life. "Allow me to begin your next lesson." And without hesitation, he began to shoot rapid-fire blue bolts at me.
Luckily, I got my blade up in time. It was all too fast for me, but with such a large, bulky gun and at this close of range, it was impossible to be accurate. Many of the bolts went by me without having to be deflected. That made things easier, but not a lot.
As the bolts bounced off my blade and harmlessly away, my mind raced for an idea. Something, anything I could do. I had no idea if Master Durron and Jacen were far behind or if they were even able to get to me. Since it was an unknown variable, I knew that I would have to do this on my own.
He was too large and too powerful of a Dark Jedi for me to deal with him the way I did the Dark Jedi student at the Academy three months ago. And the bolts came too quickly for me to accurately aim a bolt at him or the rifle. There was only one way I could think to get him to stop.
Through gritted teeth, doing my best to sound bored and unimpressed, I said, "You must not have much power if you choose to use your rifle on me instead of your lightsaber."
The Dark Jedi simply laughed. "You will not trick me into giving up my advantage, Jedi."
Damn! I continued to think. Playing along with it, I shrugged. "I'm not trying to trick anyone, I'm just saying. It's difficult to aim properly with a rifle on rapid fire and damn near impossible at such close range. It's only a matter of time and chance before one of these bolts that's even coming near me to come at just the right angle and me to put just the right spin on it for it come right back and blast you right in the middle of your greasy forehead."
The blaster fire continued and I stood there, deflecting and praying it was working. A few seconds later, the shots stopped. Thank god…
The Dark Jedi stared at me as he dropped his blaster rifle. "Very well. We will end this as Jedi with lightsabers." He unclipped his lightsaber from his belt and ignited the ruby-red blade.
Now I had a new problem. I was absolutely exhausted from reflecting all those bolts and didn't have much strength left. I don't think I could match his brute strength, even if I was at peak performance. What am I going to do now? The only thing I can do, I guess. Fight.
Wearily, I charged and we locked blades. A moment later he threw his weight into his blade and knocked me back and onto the ground. Hard. I continued to roll and slide until I hit the edge of the balcony. My vision blurred and as I got to a knee, facing the Dark Jedi, I saw three of him. Not knowing, who to swing at, I guessed and swung my blade at the one on the right, but my blade went right through him.
I felt a hand grab my arm and leg and before I knew it, I was in the air again. This time crashing into the side of the building on the other side of the balcony. Somehow, I kept managing to hold onto my lightsaber, but that meant very little. I tried to get back up to a knee but fell to the floor again.
I heard the hissing of the door opening. My hopes soared that it was Master Durron and Jacen. But they sunk again when I heard a different voice. The voice of a man say, "What's going on here?" Then the muffled sound of a struggle.
When I was finally able to raise my head and lift myself up from the ground. I saw the Dark Jedi with a firm grip on a Republic guard's neck. His arm completely folded over the man's neck, between his forearm and bicep. With a good strong twist, he could kill the man instantly. The guard was clearly in a lot of pain.
"As much fun as it has been to beat you senseless…I'm getting out of here. Anyone tries to stop me and the man dies."
I looked at this Dark Jedi. The pure absence of compassion and mercy. In its place were only darkness and arrogance and hatred. What I felt for this Dark Jedi was the closest I had felt to hatred in a long time. "You will not escape from this place. You will not kill that man. I'm taking him to safety. And you will not stop me."
The Dark Jedi laughed. "Have we not already found out who is stronger?"
I nodded. "Yes, we have. Nonetheless, you will not stop me. I will be taken as a hostage before I let you take him."
The Dark Jedi stopped smiling. He let go of the guard and threw him at my feet. "Very well. You will make a much better hostage to the Jedi."
We shared a glare for a moment before we both charged. We once again locked blades. But something different happened that time. As our blades locked together. The light of my blade got brighter and grew. It spread all the way down the hilt and over my arm down to my elbow. We both saw it and watched in awe as this was happening.
When we looked at each other again, he stared at me in open-mouthed horror. "The…Arm…"
Not knowing what else to do, I shoved my weight into my blade to shove him back, but that proved to be a mistake. The Dark Jedi launched into the air, higher even than when he threw me. He went high into the air and cleared the balcony. I heard his scream as he began the plunge down through the sky to the ground far below.
I just stood there in shock as the light on my arm faded away and back to the blade. I just stood there for what felt like an hour, but was probably only minutes. Standing there in shock with my lightsaber still ignited. I had no idea what to say. What to do. Even what to think.
Finally the door opened and I heard Master Skywalker's voice call out to me. "Ben? What happened? Where's the Dark Jedi?"
I snapped out of it enough to shut down my lightsaber, but not to turn around or speak. I heard Master Skywalker speaking to someone else. It must have been the guard. He probably just woke up to consciousness. I heard him explain what he knew. Then I heard Master Skywalker say what sounded like, "Why don't you go back to your station? We'll take care of everything else here."
Once I heard the footsteps of the guard leaving, I saw that Master Skywalker wasn't alone when he and Master Jade-Skywalker and Master Durron came into my view in front of me.
Master Skywalker repeated, "Ben? What happened?"
I looked at him and finally found my voice. "I…threw him…"
Master Skywalker asked, "You threw him? What do you mean?"
"We were right here. Blades locked. A light spread over my arm…"
Master Jade-Skywalker spoke up. "What do you mean a light spread over my arm?"
"I don't know. But he was suddenly scared. I shoved with my lightsaber and…"
Master Durron closed his eyes and nodded. "And he went down over the balcony."
Master Skywalker was clearly disappointed that they couldn't take him alive, but he dealt with it. "At least you're alive, Ben. Come on. We're going to send you back to the ship. You've had enough action for one day. The rest of us will inspect the body and the Senate is going to meet tomorrow to vote on going to war."
I nodded and let them guide me back through the corridors. I finally realized how much pain I was in and felt bruises all over my body. All the way back to the ship I was thinking about that light. How did that happen? What was it? Could I ever do it again?
By the time we made it back down the staircases, my aches and pains had gotten worse, so Jacen offered to help me out. He pulled my arm around his neck so that if my legs gave out, he could stop me from falling.
Once we were in the main lobby again, several reporters found us and circled us as we continued to walk, asking questions like if the attacks were perpetrated by the Dark Jedi, or how we thought this would affect the Senate vote. Master Skywalker simply replied that it was too early for them to know much of what happened and the public will know once the investigations are complete.
The events of what happened were spreading quickly. Everyone on our ship knew what happened by the time we got back.
Once we were inside, a large crowd of Jedi and students, who were huddled around a screen airing the news, turned to face us. Tallah broke through the group and let out a gasp when she saw what condition I was in.
It was nothing that terrible—some dried blood on my nose, a pink welt on my cheek, a lump on the back of my head—but I suppose the slightest bit of pain is too much to see in someone that you love. She hugged me and I assured her that there was nothing wrong that wouldn't heal within a day at most.
The rest of the Jedi team left again after speaking with other Jedi Masters on the ship. They went to continue the investigation, but they all wished me well and congratulated me on how I handled my fight with a fully trained Dark Jedi.
After they were gone, Guild and Ryndell hounded me for the details on how I beat the Dark Jedi. "I didn't exactly beat him. There were at least three or four times where he could have killed me. It was like he was just toying with me."
They seemed to refuse that response and dragged me over to the screen. My mouth dropped at what I saw.
Guild slapped me on the back and said, "You're a holo-vid star! They've been calling you a hero for close to an hour now!"
I just continued to stare at the screen. They had footage of my jump down to a platform with my lightsaber and block the blaster bolts away from the Senators. On the bottom of the screen, it said, "SNIPER SHOOTINGS AT SENATE HEARING – THWARTED BY JEDI HERO."
"This is crazy! I'm no hero! This is basic Jedi training stuff. Nothing heroic."
I quieted down so that I could hear the news reporter "—to the efforts of the young, so far unnamed Jedi. This was a vote that was originally thought to not pass. But after today's events, looks as though it will be voted in favor of by a wide margin."
Ryndell was delighted to hear that. "Those Dark Jedi really screwed up! They did the one thing to make the government unite with us."
I nodded and smiled at Tallah. "Well, if getting the crap beat out of me by a Dark Jedi helped get the vote passed, I'll consider that not a bad deal."
Tallah let out a noise that sounded to be a mixture of laugh and a stifled cry. She hugged me again and I returned the embrace. "There are far too many close calls with your life whenever we're separated."
We were interrupted by what was happening on the screen again. The news reporter came back on. "This just in. We have received word that a climate droid recording weather patterns recorded the footage of our unnamed Jedi in the fight that killed the Dark Jedi. Without further delay, here it is."
When we watched, we all saw a bird's eye view of my fight on the balcony. I winced and felt the pain again at being hurled into the air and crashing to the ground. With each fall and hit, I felt Tallah's grip in my hand get tighter. Every Jedi and student watching the footage let out a gasp when they saw the light come from my lightsaber and down my arm. Then as I shoved and threw him over high over the balcony.
Ryndell, still staring at the screen in open-mouthed awe, like everyone else asked, "How did you do that?"
I shrugged at the question. "I wish I knew."
When the footage ended, the news reporter was back. "And there you have it. Clearly a very powerful young Jedi, indeed. Strength like this in one so young bears these questions: just who is this Jedi? And where does he come from?"
I closed my eyes and thought about those questions. Smiling to myself, I thought, oh the first question is easy enough to answer, but no one would ever believe the answer to the second. I have a hard time believing it sometimes. The real question for me is: where did that power come from? That must have something to do with my ending the war with the Dark Jedi.
Wearily, trying to keep my eyes open, I studied old records of the war at Geonosis. Alone, late at night, I sat in the dark library on board our ship. The haze of the computer and the Jedi Holocron nearby were all the light I needed. There was so little information known on record, I pretty much knew that I wasn't going to find what I needed there. That's why I had the Holocron.
I picked up the Holocron and placed it in front of me. As clearly as I could, I called, "Jedi Master Roshko Grimbete."
With the familiar haze and mist of last time, Master Grimbete's hologram appeared. "Greetings. What information do you desire?"
I cleared my throat and replied, "I am Ben, a Jedi Padawan. I would like to have as much information as you can give me about Master Sacul. Specifically, about the last battle with the Dark Jedi at Geonosis."
Master Grimbete's image paused for a moment, then flickered. The expression of his face turned from serious to almost wistful. "He was…dazzling. So strong. Such speed and precision with his lightsaber. We had all seen him fight on numerous occasions, but he was never like that."
"Was there…anything else different about that battle?"
Master Grimbete replied, "Yes. Somehow, it appeared that the light of his blade seemed to grow and surround his whole body. Curious, isn't it? But the Jedi Order later agreed that this had nothing to do with it. We concluded that it was merely a trick of light. And that his power must have come from knowing that this was to be the end of the war."
Feeling annoyed, I asked, "Why didn't you ever mention that to me before? When I was asking you about Master Sacul, how come you never bothered to tell me?"
Master Grimbete simply replied, "I am not real. I am a program that answers your questions. I cannot answer what you do not ask."
Conceding, I nodded. "Do you have any idea how this happened?"
"As I said before, we concluded that it was merely a trick of the light. We, therefore, have no extended theories."
I nodded again and replied, "Thank you, Master Grimbete. That's all I need." And with billowy flow of mist, he was gone. Well, at least I know now that this light has something to do with it. It's the common link between us. But how do I use it? As long as I'm still at square one on how, everything else is pretty much irrelevant. From not far behind me, I felt a presence. With a sigh, I called out, "It's late. You should be in bed."
"So should you. You've had a more exhausting day than I have."
"Even so, you should be sleeping."
"Maybe I'll sleep when you do. And anyways, the medical droid said that you would need your sleep. It will help heal your bruises and muscles sprains."
Reaching my left hand around my neck and touching my right shoulder blade, I felt the pancake-size bruise there and winced slightly. It hurt, but I'd been through worse. I turned my chair around and faced Tallah. "At the moment, I have more important things to worry about than sleep."
Walking closer to me, Tallah said, "You're not going to be much help to the Order if you're half asleep in a battle."
With a shrug, I replied, "I also won't be much help if I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing to end this war."
Tallah took a seat next to me and took my right hand in her's. "Tell me."
By this, she always meant for me to let out what I was thinking. She was pretty much my only outlet and if I didn't have that, I would have gone crazy long ago. "I just wish I had a better idea of what I'm supposed to be doing," I said with a touch of depression. "I'm no leader like Master Skywalker or a warrior like Master Jade-Skywalker. I'm not as open to the Force as Jacen or have a way with diplomacy like you…" I shook my head as I stared into my lap.
"I just wish I saw some more of what others see in me. I mean—I know I catch on to things quick, but it doesn't feel like I excel at one particular thing like everyone else seems to. I feel the power inside of me…but I have no idea how I'm supposed to use it. Or even how to release it."
"Perhaps it's not something you're supposed to study and research to find the answer. Perhaps it's something that you won't realize how to use until you have to. That's always been one of the things about you I've most been impressed with. How quickly things come to you when you need them."
"And what if it doesn't?"
Tallah stood up and pulled me from my chair. She put her arms around me and kissed my cheek. "Whatever the answer is, it won't be coming tonight. Let's go to bed."
I yawned and felt the drowsiness I had been fighting to control take over my body. I nodded and followed her to her quarters.
My eyes sprang open at the sound of cheering. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes as I sat up and got out of bed, putting my tunic on. I turned around and saw Tallah waking up. "Something's happened. By the sound of it, something good."
Tallah sat up and smiled. "Good. We haven't had anything to celebrate in a long time."
As I sat back down on the bed and pulled on my boots, I said, "Hurry up and get dressed so we can find out what's going on."
Tallah got up and starting dressing. "You go ahead and go. I'll catch up with you."
Nodding, I opened the door and headed down the hallway to the sound of the cheering.
Once I got into the main corridor of the ship, Guild and Ryndell ran up to me and shouted, "They did it! The Senate voted 94 in our favor!"
"Wow, 94 percent? How could things change that rapidly so quickly?"
Guild shrugged. "It must have been the attack. They say they voted for it out of the responsibility to help those who are 'weary from battle,' but I'll bet the real reason is because they're afraid of other attacks by Dark Jedi if they don't help us out in beating them back."
Tallah came in shortly and was filled in on the good news. Nearby I noticed that Master Skywalker and several other of the older Jedi didn't look quite as happy as everyone else. In fact, they looked almost grim. Someone finally asked, "Master Skywalker, what is it? The Senate is going to send New Republic troops to help in the war. This is a good thing, isn't it?"
Master Skywalker nodded. "Yes, it's a relief that we'll have assistance, but something just doesn't seem right. This was just too easy."
"So the Dark Jedi screwed up! We were able to take advantage of that!"
Master Skywalker shook his head. "The Dark Jedi may be evil, but they're not stupid. They must have known that the Senate was considering joining the war. And they must have realized that this was exactly the kind of act that could insure their assistance."
Another Jedi asked, "What are you saying, Master Skywalker?"
Master Jade-Skywalker replied, "What he means is, why would the Dark Jedi be willing to risk a uniting of the Jedi and the New Republic? It sounds like maybe the Dark Jedi have more powerful weapons or a larger army than we have originally thought. This very well may have been exactly what they wanted to happen."
Laying in bed that night, I stared up at the ceiling. I felt tired, but didn't feel much like sleeping. I always had an overabundance of things on my mind, but there was much more than usual in the weeks that followed the Senate vote. More and more soldiers were gathering to meet at the Academy. The war was proceeding. Our army building. And I was still no closer to finding out what I was supposed to do.
Tallah rolled over on her side to face me. She whispered, "Can't you sleep?"
Continuing to stare up at the ceiling, I answered, "No."
Tallah sat up and pulled her hair out of her eyes. "You've barely slept in two weeks. Ever since the Senate vote."
"Just plenty on my mind. Nothing different or more than I've already told you."
"Well, if you're not sleeping and there's nothing new to tell me on your mind, then maybe you can tell me about something else."
"About your family."
I sat up at that moment and looked at her. I hadn't been expecting that. I wasn't really sure how to answer her. And by the look on her face, she could tell what I was thinking.
"You're always so secretive about your past. Why haven't you ever mentioned them? What are they like? All I know about them is what you said the first day we met. That you moved around a lot."
I sat there with my mind racing. Trying to think of anything to tell her. Anything that could sound like the truth. But the only thing that came close was the real truth. And she'd never believe it. Using another angle, I spoke of the only family that I could think of that she'd accept. My ancestors. "Well…my family is of a race of people called the Celtics. Our families were more than just those of the same surname. Our families joined groups into clans and people of the same clan are very much considered to be family."
"What about your clan? What're they like?"
"My family is of a clan that was pretty well off. Many had lots of property, but were still not afraid to fight their own battles. My clan went through many hardships, but no matter what, we always managed to bounce back. I suppose that was the basis for our clan motto."
"What was it?"
"Our motto was Reviresco. That's an ancient language called Gaelic. It means, 'I flourish again.'"
Not knowing what else I could possibly tell her, I said, "I'm getting pretty tired. I think I could sleep now. Do you mind?"
Tallah shook her head. "No, I don't mind. I'm tired too."
We laid our heads back down on our pillows and with a kiss, I whispered, "good night."
That following morning my friends and I sat down to breakfast in the now full cafeteria. This was because of all the Republic soldiers. It was an adjustment going from having plenty of elbowroom at the Academy to having to compromise space everywhere we went.
Rubbing the weariness out of my eyes from lack of sleep, I took another bite of food and saw Guild and Ryndell wolfing down their breakfasts. I guessed that they were in a hurry to get down to the basement where the Training Center was.
Overhead the low thunder of a ship flew past and grew silent as it decelerated. Tallah leaned close by and said, "It must be another ship of soldiers and supplies. Come on, we should go welcome them."
I nodded and followed behind. Tallah was usually right about these kinds of things and I trusted her judgment. But when we got to the docking bay, there were no ships full of soldiers or supplies. It was a single ship about three times the size of an x-wing. The ramp was down and several senators stood proudly next to it. And along side them, more modestly dressed was an alien with what looked like a camera. The ship was—for lack of a better word—cool.
In fact, I had never seen a sleeker ship. Its metallic blue finish shined and reflected the sunlight coming through the docking bay hatchway. Master Skywalker and Master Jade-Skywalker were admiring it and when we got closer, I heard Master Jade-Skywalker saying, "This is a Starnova XL series. I've only just heard about these a couple of weeks ago. How did you come across one?"
One of the Senators—who looked strikingly familiar—stepped forward and replied, "This was one of the prototypes. In fact, the very first one that was capable of what they wanted. The nava-computer is immensely superior to anything else. It will get coordinates for the hyperdrive within mere seconds. Not to mention—" He stopped when he saw me approaching and charged forward, grasping one of my hands in both of his and shook it furiously. The alien picked up his camera and pointed it at the both of us.
The senator cleared his throat and spoke to the camera. "For the past two weeks, the Senate has been searching for some small way to repay this brave, young Jedi for single-handedly rescuing the lives of four senators from a Dark Jedi attack, including myself." It was then that I remembered him. He was one of the senators on the platform where I had deflected laser bolts. "Then pursuing the Dark Jedi on foot and insuring that he could never do it again in combat."
Surprised to hear that, I wanted to tell him that I was just lucky. I actually only encountered him because I was the only one to fall for his trap. And I only beat him because of some "power" that I haven't learned how to use. But before I could say any of this, the senator continued. "In attempt to repay the debt of our very lives to this Jedi, we give him the latest in starship technology: the XL Starnova."
My mouth dropped open in shock, as did Tallah's I noticed. But Master Skywalker and Master Jade-Skywalker didn't look so shocked. Either they were better able to hide their surprise than Tallah and I or they had suspected this.
Sputtering, I replied, "I…I can't accept this! I really didn't do that much. And better Jedi than me have done a lot more for the galaxy their whole lives. They deserve a ship like this more than I do."
The senator just smiled and laughed. Speaking to the camera again, he said, "Powerful and modest too. He is truly the beginning of the next great generation of Jedi. He'll probably take over for Master Skywalker someday."
My eyes widening again and my face burning with redness, I stuttered out, "What? No, it's far too soon to be talking about things like that! I could never hope to be as powerful a Jedi as Master Skywalker! I'm not even a real Jedi yet! I'm still learning!"
The senator continued to smile and shook his head. "A very humble Jedi. I think we can expect a lot from this young hero."
The alien with the camera lowered it down and spoke in some language I didn't understand. The senator asked, "how did it go? You think we got everything we need?"
The alien replied and the senator said, "Good. I thought so too." He looked back at me. "I hope you enjoy the ship. It was difficult to get our hands on it and I just hope that you can show the galaxy that you really are the hero that they've seen on the news."
His new attitude seemed almost an insult, but trying to ignore that, I simply smiled and shook his hand. "I'll do my best."
Master Skywalker invited the senator to stay for a meal, but he politely declined. "There is a lot to be done back on Coruscant with the Republic running a war now. I have to go back to make sure things are running smoothly."
I felt some anger stir in my stomach at that. Since when the hell was the Republic in control of this war? We asked them for assistance—not to take the reins. But I didn't say any of this. If the Masters could keep quiet at this guy's arrogance, then I should too.
After he had left, I walked closer to the ship and rubbed my hand over the hub, admiring its beauty. I turned around and faced Master Skywalker and Jade-Skywalker. "It's a beautiful ship, but what am I going to do with it? I don't even know how to fly one!"
Master Skywalker simply replied, "Well, now you have an opportunity to learn. Perhaps Ryndell could show you. She's a pretty good pilot, after all."
I frowned and said, "That aside, I still don't feel right about keeping this. Maybe I can donate it to the Academy. I'm sure there are plenty of Jedi around here who need a ship. Maybe we can keep it around for if someone needs to borrow a ship for a while, or something."
Master Jade-Skywalker smiled. "It's your ship and it's your decision. And I think that could be very helpful."
Thinking about it, I asked, "Why would the Senate be giving me this ship? I know I'm not the first person, let alone the first Jedi, to save a Senator's life. Why reward just me? Why now?"
Tallah, who had been pretty quiet up till now, walked up to me and said, "Probably because the news and the people have labeled you as a hero. To them, you're the next savior of the galaxy. Just like when Master Skywalker defeated the Sith."
Master Jade-Skywalker nodded. "Yes, that's the assumption that I'm making too. Ben, you're a Jedi with holo-footage of you in action, you're young, attractive. You fill a void in some people that hasn't been filled since before Anakin died."
"But…what does that all have to do with this ship?"
Master Skywalker said, "I assume because since the people have chosen you as a hero, then the Republic wants you to be their hero. They want the people to see that they see you as a hero too. Or it's what the Senate wants them to think. They want the people to see them giving you a gift as thanks and make sure that they stay on the side of those that will vote to keep them in office."
I nodded as their words sunk in. "So they're just using me. To them, all I am is a political pawn to insure them another term as senator."
I stood among dozens and dozens of Jedi. Scattered here and there were soldiers of the Republic. A great open field surrounded all of us. A swarm of Dark Jedi were charging at us. We began our charge and as we clashed together, Jedi after Jedi—soldier after soldier fell to the ground. Some in pieces.
One after another, I hacked at the Dark Jedi. But no matter how many I killed, no matter how quickly they fell, more Jedi began to fall. More Dark Jedi were always there to replace those that had fallen.
One after another, I saw the bloody pained faces of my allies fall. Jacen fell. Ryndell. Guild. I fought with all of my might. One more Dark Jedi fell under my lightsaber and another. Another. But they came back around me.
We were surrounded in a tight circle. So few of us were left and Dark Jedi swarmed around us as far as the eye could see. Once more I lunged and fought. Using the Force, I brought up another lightsaber from a fallen Jedi into my left hand and swung with all of the power I could muster from my aching body. Fatigue was setting in but I endured. Two Dark Jedi would fall at once with my new fighting style, but it was never fast enough. Never good enough, we continued to lose more and more Jedi.
I saw Master Skywalker fall. Furiously, I used my mind to pick up more lightsabers and swung them at Dark Jedi with the Force. More and more lightsabers were swinging through the power of the Force as I fought on. But it was still not good enough. More lightsabers went into my power.
But just as it had always been, it was never good enough. Finally…Tallah fell. Her loss was the final pain. The lightsabers dropped to the ground. Raising my arms into the air and squeezing the lightsaber hilts until they exploded, I screamed at the top of my lungs, "T A L L A H !"
Everything went black when a scarlet-red lightsaber plunged into my chest…
Opening my eyes, I bolted upright in bed. My face was covered in sweat. Reality slowly flowed back into my mind. A dream…that's all it was…just a dream.
To confirm it, I turned and looked down to see Tallah asleep next to me. Just a dream. But not just a dream. This has to mean something. The Force must be trying to tell me something.
I got out of bed and got dressed. I didn't feel much like sleeping anymore and felt that a walk around the Academy might do me some good. As I walked down the corridors, smelling the clean air and the familiar musty smell of ancient stone that surrounded me, my thoughts went to my first days at the Academy. Back to the times when I had no idea why I was there. When I didn't know who I was. When I hadn't met Tallah.
In many ways, I had done a lot of growing between then and now. I even felt guilty for longing for those days once more when so much weight wasn't on my shoulders. When all I had to worry about was getting to class on time. I didn't have to worry about saving the Jedi. Saving the galaxy. Finding what connection I was supposed to have with the Force that apparently no other Jedi had.
I wished that I could go back to those times for just a few days. But I knew that even if I could, the memory and maturity that I had been burdened with now would go back with me. I guess that's what they mean when they say you can't go back home again. It means that you can never get the innocence of your childhood back once you've lost it.
Following the corridors to the lifts, I decided to go up to the highest level of the Academy and looks at the stars. Look at the scenery of Yavin IV.
When I got out of the lift, I was surprised to see Master Skywalker standing at the balcony. He turned around and saw me coming out. Neither one of us had been expecting any company up there. I guess we both had our guard down for a while. We hadn't spoken much since the mission on Ord Mantell.
Master Skywalker asked, "I suppose you couldn't sleep either?"
I nodded a little and replied, "I could for a little while. I'm always able to start sleeping. Then dreams wake me up and I can never fall asleep for the rest of the night."
"What kind of dreams?"
"It's never the same dream. But they all seem to have the same overall theme. I fight and fight and fight, but it never seems to do any good. Like this latest one I had tonight." I went into further detail of my dream. How much power I had at my fingertips and was doing things that I knew I could never do. But it never seemed to be enough. I still had to watch my friends die. "What do you think it means, Master?"
Master Skywalker's brow furrowed in contemplation. He let out a sigh and said, "It's difficult to say. Dreams can mean a lot of different things. And their meaning isn't always centered on the focal point of the dream. Your dream could mean that fighting will get us nowhere. It could mean that in order to win this war, we have to have a different strategy than the Dark Jedi. Or it could even really have no real meaning. It could be simply that you're worried about failure. Which can be a good thing. It shows you care."
I leaned over onto the railing at the edge of the balcony and looked up at the stars. I thought Master Skywalker's words for a long time. "I've already learned caring too much can be a real problem. I almost let it blind me from protecting my friends."
Master Skywalker leaned on the railing at my left and put an arm on my shoulder. "Teachers sometimes make mistakes too, Ben. The skill that you've shown us so quickly sometimes makes us forget that you're still young. You're still a student. Your actions on Ord Mantell were wrong. There's no disputing that. But my actions against you were wrong too. We are Jedi and have powers and see things in ways that others never will. But we're not perfect. And we make mistakes, because we're human. Jedi Masters make mistakes too. I've let you carry that burden and guilt of the disaster on Ord Mantell for too long already."
I was shocked at what I was hearing. I had never heard Master Skywalker admit wrongdoing on his part. To me, at least. I've never seen him do anything wrong. "I'd just like to put it all behind us. There's still so much I'm trying to find out. I still feel like I'm not getting any closer to finding out what I'm supposed to do. We may have Republic assistance in sending us troops, but I can't help but wonder if that's really going to help much. These are Dark Jedi. What we need are more Jedi."
"I'll let you in on the latest plans. Soon, the Jedi Order will be deciding on a group of Jedi to seek out the aid of more Force-users."
"More Force-users? There are us, the Dark Jedi, who's left?" After a thought, the realization burst in my brain. "Dathomir?"
Master Skywalker smiled and nodded. "The Witches of Dathomir. They may not be Jedi, but I'm sure they will recognize the dangers in the galaxy. I'm sure they'll fight alongside us."
I nodded, but didn't say anything. I couldn't explain it, but something about the Witches of Dathomir as allies just felt…right.
Another meeting had been called in the Great Hall. But with a slight change, this time. It involved the Jedi and the Republic soldiers. The Great Hall which usually had a bit of elbowroom left when it was just us, now crammed in with people standing against walls and between aisles of benches.
The meeting had started with one of the generals speaking about one of the latest sightings of the Dark Jedi. "Our Intelligence has discovered that they have abandoned Ord Mantell. In fact, it really wasn't much of a base. It was a temporary haven for a small group to hold prisoners. However, our latest reports point to them having a much larger base that occupies roughly two hundred Dark Jedi. According to all of our data, this is their largest grouping of warriors in the galaxy. It's on a very remote planet called…" The general seemed to forget the name and had to look through his notes. "Oh, yes. The system is called Dagobah."
Not many people in the room seemed to react to this news. Master Skywalker, obviously. Master Jade-Skywalker too. Members of the Skywalker/Solo family. And my friends and I. It wasn't exactly very widespread knowledge that this was the planet where Master Skywalker had received his training as a Jedi by Master Yoda. But when I thought about it, it made sense. Dagobah was very remote. Out of the way of the more civilized systems. No real populations and no cities. But an abundance of life forms that would camouflage them from the Force. It wouldn't be difficult to hide there.
The general continued with his speech. "The Senate has discussed this and are in agreement with our military. A strategic military strike with our troops and the Jedi can seriously cripple their army and insure a victory of this war."
There was scattered talking among the Jedi for a while. Nearby Ryndell looked at us and said, "They want the Jedi to be a part of an attack? They must know that we don't condone such acts!"
Master Streen was the first to stand and address the general. "Excuse me, but are you seriously suggesting that the Order be a part of a military attack?"
The general nodded. "Yes. We are all aware that it is against your ideals, but this is not starting a fight. It has already been started. This is defense."
Another Jedi stood. "To 'think' that it is merely defensive attack is easy for you. But we do not have the luxury of being able to act without knowing and understanding its purpose. A single mistake can utterly destroy us from within!"
A younger officer, who appeared to be a Captain from the medals on his uniform stood up. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but he seemed to be surprised with himself for standing. He said, "But you must understand how critical this is. We need each other if this war is to be won. We may not have the Force, as you do. But we are still risking our lives. Just because we aren't Jedi, does that mean that we risk less?"
As I sat and listened to the young captain—I say young from comparison to his colleagues, he was certainly considerably older than I was—I grew more interested in his words. Maybe it was humbleness with how the Jedi needed the Republic and the Republic needed the Jedi. Maybe it was the way he didn't seem to feel superior to others. I don't know. What I could tell was that I liked him immediately.
When all was said and done, an agreement was made. Together, the Jedi Order and the soldiers of the New Republic would unite in an attack of the Dark Jedi on Dagobah. The strategic plans would be completed at a later meeting consisting of the military leaders and the members of the Jedi Council. So for me, this was going to be one more battle where lives would inevitably be ended while I search for the answer to end the war. Tallah would once more be at risk on the battlefield and the images of my nightmares continued to haunt me. Another battle where we would say our final good-byes to Guild and Ryndell…just in case.
Swooping into Dagobah's atmosphere in dozens of gunships from the giant ships we got there in, the Jedi and soldiers prepared themselves for battle mode. Though not in the same ways, of course. The soldiers flexed and bent their muscles—preparing their bodies. While we, Jedi took deep breaths and focused ourselves into the Force—preparing our minds.
The plan was to have each gunship with some Jedi and soldiers and strategically land on certain points of the planet in order to surround the location of the Dark Jedi base.
I had insured that Tallah and I would be on the same team. There were several Jedi in our team. Most of them, I was only vaguely aware of. The couple that I knew of were Tallah, of course, and Plook Rhendor. As the Jedi half of our team landed and reached the soggy swamp of Dagobah, we waited for the soldiers that would be accompanying us on our path to the Dark Jedi base.
When their ship landed and the ramp lowered to the ground, troops with large blaster rifles hanging by straps behind their backs began to file out. The captain was the last to come out. It was the very same young captain at the meeting that helped talk the Jedi into coming here to Dagobah.
While the soldiers began to prepare their weapons and check to make sure they had all of their gear, the Captain came over to greet us. He took Plook's hand first, who had been named the unspoken leader of our Jedi team. But it was surprising that the Captain seemed to know that. He bowed his head during his shake with Plook. "Hello Master Jedi. I'm Captain Wallace."
Plook mirrored the bow and responded, "Hello. I'm Plook Rhendor."
"So what's the plan for our trail to the Dark Jedi base?"
Plook pulled out a holo-disk that showed a hologram of Dagobah that zoomed in and focused on our coordinates of the planet. "On the way up to the base, we have an assigned area of the planet to inspect and search. To make sure we don't run into Dark Jedi and that they don't get a warning before we can reach the base. Three Jedi will go with half your team on one circle that will lead to the base and the other three Jedi will go with the other half of your team on a similar circle that will lead to the same point. We have 36 hours to both complete our circles and reach the point of rendezvous. At that point, all Jedi and Republic soldiers should be in one large circle around the base. Then we…" Plook was about to say 'attack' but couldn't bring himself to say it. He simply motioned with his hand, but we all knew what he meant.
Captain Wallace nodded. "Sounds good to me." He turned to one of his soldiers and said, "You take command over half of the crew and I'll take the other."
Tallah and I wound up in the same team with Plook and Captain Wallace. Our pace through the trail was a slow jog. Quick enough to get through our area on time, but slow enough to fully inspect our area. We, Jedi, jogged with our extinguished lightsabers in hand and the soldiers with rifles in hand. I was located at the back of the team, to insure we weren't snuck up on. Tallah jogged just in front of me.
Open to the Force, I sensed a presence enter my mind. A familiar mind. I could feel the same running through Tallah. We stopped and looked at each other, surprised. She looked worried and I welcomed her to it. I was mad. "You sense him too, don't you?"
Tallah nodded. "How did he manage to get all the way here?"
I shook my head. "I don't know. Let's ask him." I jogged back a little, while Tallah went forward to stop the team.
Stopping about twenty feet back, I called out, "Guild! Guild, come out! Tallah and I both found you in the Force! There's no point in hiding anymore!"
Several seconds later, Guild appeared behind me. We met face to face and I could feel myself glaring at him. "What are you doing here?"
Guild simply shrugged. "I'm tired of this kiddie table crap. I have just as much reason to fight as all of you."
Before I could respond, the rest of the team appeared, with Plook and Captain Wallace in the lead. They stopped the team in their tracks a ways back and continued towards us. Plook asked Guild, "Well, what do you have to say for yourself?"
"That if I've been able to trail all of you for this long without you knowing, then I'm a lot more ready than Master Skywalker will admit."
Plook closed his eyes and bit down on his irritation before speaking again. "That's not a call for you to make. What if something were to happen to you? We never would have known."
Speaking up, I asked, "Is it just you or did Ryndell come too?"
"She stayed behind. So that if something happened to me, there'd be someone to inform the Order. I'm not an idiot."
Captain Wallace asked, "Just how were you able to get all the way here on a ship full of Jedi without them knowing?"
Guild shrugged and looked a little nervous. "Well…I didn't stow away on the Jedi ship. Because I knew they'd find me. I stowed away on yours. Whenever a soldier got a hint of me, it wasn't too difficult to persuade them that they hadn't seen anything."
Plook sighed. "I'm sorry for Guild, Captain. Now…how are we going to get him back to the ship?"
Clearing my throat, I looked at Plook and said, "We don't have that kind of time, Plook. He's going to have to come with us."
Plook, angered turned to me and replied, "I am not taking a student into a war who has not been deemed ready by Master Skywalker."
Wearily, I held up my hands and said, "Plook, we're seven hours out from our ship. Taking him back would take seven hours and then another seven to get us back to where we already are right now. With the time we've already used, that would eat up over twenty of our thirty-six given hours. Which means that it would take three quarters of our time to be less than a fifth of our way to the rendezvous point. If you have any other ideas, I'd personally love to hear them."
Plook appeared as if he knew I was right. "How is he going to fight? He isn't even armed."
Captain Wallace pulled a blaster pistol from his holster and said, "Here. Take my pistol. It's not a lightsaber, but at least you can defend yourself."
Guild took the blaster. "Thanks."
Plook clapped his hands once. "All right. We've wasted far too much time already. We have to get moving. Now."
As the team continued back on our path, I grabbed Guild's shoulder and gave him a push in front of me. "Stay next to Tallah and in front of me."
Guild turned back to face me. "Don't worry about me. I know what I'm doing. Just worry about yourself."
I wish I could. But I can't.
Dawn had come. We had finished our paths and united again with the rest of our team. And after we explained about Guild, which didn't go as smoothly as anyone would have liked, we continued our pathway to the Dark Jedi base. And as the sun rose, we made it.
Everyone sat and pulled out some provisions. Some got out their water. Others ration bars. Plook was studying his compass and time device. Finally, he said, "We have about one hour before it's time for us to move in on the base."
Sitting back and taking in a big gulp of water, I handed it to Tallah, who took a similar drink. Nearby, Guild was taking a large bite of his ration bar and took another bite after only a couple of chews on his last bite. Clearly hungry.
"Take it easy, Guild," I said. "We're going to be moving a whole lot soon and having a full stomach like that will slow you down."
Guild looked at me and nodded. He began to chew more slowly and took smaller bites.
Tallah asked, "Why did you come here, Guild? You're not that far from completion of a lot of your classes. Why couldn't you just wait another couple of months for Master Skywalker to say that you were ready for this and get your lightsaber?"
Guild shrugged. "Two months? Two months till I get approved for making my lightsaber. Two and a half months until I have a completed lightsaber. It'd be at least another month until I'm approved for being good enough with a lightsaber to start on simple things like supplies shipping into war zones. Another month or two before being approved to fight in battle. That's six months, at least. The war could be over by then."
I shook my head. "We can only hope. War is something that you fight in if you must. Not something a Jedi is supposed to be eager to jump into."
"Don't give me that crap. I'm not anxious about fighting and killing. But I want to do my part. I'm sick of seeing things from the sidelines, watching the Jedi die one by one and not being able to do anything. That's worse than being hacked to pieces." Guild looked down at his half-eaten ration bar and muttered, "That's something you used to understand."
I set my water on the ground and folded my arms. "What do you expect, Guild? War changes you. It's changed the way I look at things. For anyone who fights in battle, our toil is a gift of hope to all who don't fight. The hope that they will never have to fight for the things we must. When I fight or Tallah or even Master Skywalker—when we fight, it's for the hope that you and Tallah and all the rest of the students at Yavin will never have to. With every Dark Jedi I strike down, I think to myself that that's one enemy that you will never have to fight."
Guild sat there silent for a long time. I was sure that I had convinced him. We sat and drank and ate in silence for the remainder of the hour. When it was up, Plook called out to us, "Everyone, it's time. We make our move on the Dark Jedi base."
Slowly, all the Jedi and Republic soldiers encircled the base with a circumference of about 250 feet. As we crawled along the wet jungle, I couldn't help but imagine myself in a warm, soft bed. Once we had reached the end of the mass of trees, we stopped. A large area had been cleared out to make way for the base and to remove any chance of hiding.
But before we could even make our attack, there was an explosion. A large one. And it existed completely within the Force. All of the Jedi clutched at their chests and we all fell to the ground. Completely seduced by the pain that ran its way through all of our bodies. And that was all the time the Dark Jedi needed. In those few seconds, a group of snipers from atop the Dark Jedi based appeared and fired lasers down upon most of the Republic soldiers. About three quarters of them were wiped out in those three seconds.
Once we had gotten back to our feet, things only got worse. Large doors opened to the base and well over a hundred Dark Jedi charged through, ready for combat. Ready.
They knew we were coming.
We followed their charge in return. Thanking the fact that many were so much taller than Tallah and me, we were able to get in below their defenses and take them down. They were excellently trained, but the flaw in their training showed that they were prepared for much larger Jedi than us. Keeping an eye on Guild, I saw that he was already losing. His clothes had already begun to get tattered from near misses with blades.
Because of only having his blaster pistol and combat knife, he was forced to only shoot at Dark Jedi pre-occupied and use his knife to try and keep other Dark Jedi at bay. Soon I realized that one of them was going after him and would not stop his charge. As the Dark Jedi ran past me, I yelled for Tallah to watch my back as I put my lightsaber blade into the shoulder blade of the charging Dark Jedi.
His face fell at Guild's feet and he looked up at me in surprise and shock.
"You need to keep a better eye on your surroundings, Guild."
"I'm doing the best I can with what weapons I have."
Using the Force to bring a fallen lightsaber to my hand, I tossed it to Guild. "Here. Now watch after yourself."
Going back to Tallah's side, we went into a back-to-back defense. I fought all behind me and I fought all behind her. But no matter how well we did, there was one undeniable fact: we were losing terribly in an outnumbered battle. Through a soft word of mouth during the battle to all of the Jedi, we began a slow retreat back into the jungle to rendezvous with our ships.
When Tallah and I saw our chance for our break out, we took it. Guild was locked with a Dark Jedi who had him pinned against a tree. Tallah pierced her blade into his back, being careful to not go through and stab Guild. And I arced my blade and took off the Dark Jedi's head. His body crumpled to the ground.
"Come on, Guild. We're retreating." I began to run.
Guild shouted, "Never!" And tried to continue with the battle.
Tallah grabbed him and yanked him back to the jungle. "To stay here is death!"
Running through the jungle, trying to keep an eye on my com-link guiding me to where the ships will be, I needed to keep myself open to the Force to feel for any Dark Jedi in pursuit of us.
Behind me, I heard Tallah ask Guild, "Is your shoulder all right?"
"It hurts some, but nothing too serious. A sprain, maybe."
Ahead of me, I saw the ships in the distance. "There they are! The Jedi and remaining soldiers are re-grouping for takeoff! Hurry!"
We got to the ships and we stopped for a moment to breath. I told Tallah to go ahead and go in. I saw that Captain Wallace was all right and wanted to speak with him. Guild said he wanted to stay.
Approaching Captain Wallace, I nodded a hello, he also looked very grim. It was a clear loss to the Jedi and the Republic. "Do we know what our final losses were yet?"
Captain Wallace shook his head. "No definite numbers, but we estimate that roughly three quarters of the Republic soldiers are dead or wounded. About one third of the Jedi are wounded or dead."
My chest ached at the losses we had gone through so quickly. But new things took its place when a bolt whizzed through the air and blasted into Captain Wallace's soldier. Catching him before he fell, I lowered him to the ground. He was in shock of the wound. "Hey! Captain Wallace was shot! Someone help! Guild! Help me!"
Just as some soldiers and a couple of Jedi ran down the ramp of one of the couple ships still on the ground, Guild pointed into the jungle and said, "There he is! There's the Dark Jedi who shot Captain Wallace!" He ignited the lightsaber still in his hand and charged.
In panic, I ran after him and tried to stop him. "Guild! Wait, no! Come back! You don't know how many are out there!"
I reached him and tackled him to the ground in time for a shower of blaster bolts to fly just above our heads. As they stopped, a circle of Dark Jedi formed around us. Hearing thrusters roaring, I looked up in the sky…
…just in time to see the last of the ships flying above us.
Strapped into a gurney, eyes covered, ears blocked, and mouth gagged, I had no idea what it was they were doing to me. I could only feel it. Pain surged up and down my legs. Then through my arms. It felt as if they were cutting into my body, but I felt no blood coming through wounds.
I wasn't able to keep track of how many days were going by. I was isolated away from sunlight. Finally, I was allowed to see, hear, and speak. When the gurney was risen up, I could see that five Dark Jedi stood in the room. One looking vaguely familiar.
None spoke for a while, so I decided to also keep quiet. Looking around, I saw my lightsaber sitting on a table with other instruments that I could only guess were other torturing devices. Staring at my lightsaber, I thought about bringing it to me, but that would have been a useless gesture. Even if I managed to get it past five Dark Jedi and somehow free myself, I'd never be able to beat them all.
The familiar Dark Jedi picked up my lightsaber and walked up to me. A look on his face told me that he knew what I wanted to do. But also that I knew I'd never be able to do it. When he was a few inches from me, he asked, "Who are you?"
Staring at the floor, I simply replied, "I'm a Jedi."
The Dark Jedi laughed. "Are the Jedi now in the practice of sending boys to fight their wars?"
The rest of the Dark Jedi laughed with him. It was at this time that another Dark Jedi entered the room. He looked different from the others. He was old. Very old. He had long white hair and a white beard and mustache that looked as if it hadn't been trimmed in months.
The Dark Jedi who had been talking to me referred to the old Dark Jedi and said, "You have no reason to be here Aysno."
Aysno replied, "That decision isn't for you to make Killon. What is known so far?"
"Nothing more than we already do." Turning back to me Killon asked, "Why would the Jedi bring someone so young with them to battle? Why would they trust someone who is merely a child with a lightsaber?"
Studying my lightsaber he hit the ignition switch and the blade came to life. Killon raised his eyebrows with interest at the white blade. As did several of the other Dark Jedi in the room.
Only Aysno reacted more than the others. "The…the white blade! Do you know who this boy is!"
Killon turned to face Aysno. "Few Dark Jedi believe your old myths, Aysno. Go to the ones who do believe. It would be a wonderful scary story before bedtime."
"Open your eyes! We are at war. The prophecy says that another will return to the Jedi for war. And here is a boy that the Jedi feel necessary to bring to battle…and he has a white-bladed lightsaber. Just as the first did. Do you call this coincidence?"
"Yes, I do!" He looked back at me and said, "Do you believe you are this Arm? If so, prove it. Break yourself free, take your lightsaber from my hand and strike us all down."
I didn't know what to do at that. Or what to say. So I did nothing and just stared at the floor.
Killon turned to face Aysno. "You see? He is simply a weak, pathetic boy." He turned to face the other Dark Jedi. "Take him back to his cell."
After I was flung back into my cell and picked myself up off the floor, Guild was drug back into the cell too. But he was unconscious. He had fewer bruises and wounds, but looked frazzled. Glaring at the Dark Jedi, I yelled, "What did you do to him?"
The Dark Jedi ignored me as they left us alone. I picked up Guild and laid him down on the bed. They only gave us one bed for the two of us. My guess was that it was to try and create some animosity between us and get us fighting each other, instead of working together. Well they won't succeed at that.
Thankfully, I had gone through some lessons on Force healing. I wasn't a Force healer by any real definition, but at least I knew enough to help Guild re-center and come to. I placed my hand over his forehead and searched through his mind and found an imbalance. After taking care of that, Guild's eyes twitched and he woke up. He was about to sit up, but I stopped him. "Just lay back for a while."
Guild obeyed and sighed in exhaustion. "Have they been…torturing you?"
I nodded. "Yeah. What kind of questions have they been asking you?"
It was several seconds of thought and Guild looked puzzled. "Questions? …They never asked me anything. Just…started with the torture."
Speechless for a time, I finally responded, "Why would they do that?"
"Because they have no need of you." Turning around, Guild and I saw the old Dark Jedi Aysno standing in front of the cell. "It has already been deduced that you are the one that holds information. So the other is being tortured until the time when it is decided he will be put to death."
"That's not going to happen!"
Aysno nodded. "You're correct. It will not happen. Not while I live. And most especially while you still live." Suddenly, Aysno kneeled to the floor. "I knew that you would return to us once more."
Shocked, I stood up. Guild sat up on the bed, equally shocked. I walked up to the cell and looked down at Aysno. "Are you…are you a Jedi?"
Aysno looked up at me and smiled. "No. I am not. But I am not a Dark Jedi. Not anymore. It has been nearly twenty years since I turned away from the dark side."
"But why didn't you leave? Why didn't you come back to Coruscant or the Jedi?"
"What good would it have done? How do you think the galaxy would have responded to a Dark Jedi who had allegedly changed his ways? What good could I have done by turning my back on the Dark Jedi and not keeping my eyes open to what they planned to do? No, I knew the best thing for me to do was to stay. To hope I would live for the war to begin again. And to pray that I would cross paths with the Second Arm."
"But then why did you try to out me to the rest of them if you didn't want me harmed?"
"Because I knew they would not believe me. They know of the legends passed down, but they no longer believe them. But they would have found it suspicious if I did not say anything. I have waited long for this and planned long for it. To pass on the knowledge that I could."
"You…you have things you can teach me?"
"Teach? No. But there are things I can tell you that the Dark Jedi have discovered. Things to guide you to what gifts you already possess in your heart."
"I am the sole holder of the prophecy carried down through the generations after the defeat in the first war. Tell me, what do you know of the Light of your Blade?"
"Not too long ago a light passed over my lightsaber and into my arm! It gave me power that I haven't been able to use since! Can you tell me how it works?"
"Shh! Just hold on. I will tell you when I have time."
Going through interrogation that was mostly torture took a majority of my days. I had not seen Aysno since the first time he revealed the truth of himself to Guild and me. We were also put through sleep depravation, so it began to grow difficult to know when one day ended and another began.
As I was going through another interrogation, Killon continued to pin me on giving him all the information I could. And as usual, I refused. "I'm not…telling you…anything. Hurt me all you want, but you can't make me talk."
"Hmm. Such devotion. Commendable. But if you think your friends are as devoted as you, you are very much mistaken. You have been abandoned, Jedi. No one is coming for you and your friend."
"You're lying! The Jedi will never give up!"
"When did I say anything about the Jedi? I am referring to your soldiers of your pathetic Republic."
Stuttering for something to say, I simply asked, "What are you talking about?"
Killon turned his head to another Dark Jedi in the room. "Turn on the holo-vid. Show him what has been happening since the failed Jedi attack of our base."
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It felt as if my stomach had turned into cold stone. Plastered all over the news were things like,
'Jedi blunders cause hundreds of soldier lives.'
'Poor Jedi intelligence reason for disaster on Dagobah.'
'Senate attacks stunt by Jedi to sway vote?'
A news announcer began to speak. "The latest Jedi attack on the Dark Jedi caused severe casualties. Many Senators site this disaster as the reason for pulling all Republic service in the Jedi's war."
Killon smiled. "Yes. As you can see, your friends will not be coming for you. I suggest that you do as we say. Because to not, will make for a very unpleasant stay. Which will last until around…when we decide to kill you." He turned to face the guards. "Take him back to his cell. Let him think about everything. And take the Holo-vid. Let him watch as we slowly crush the Jedi Order."
Watch as it happened, was all that I could do. The news continued to talk about the latest tragedies. In slowly, brutally long detail. At one point in the news, it was mentioned that the Witches of Dathomir had united with the Jedi. But I was only able to piece that together because of their news announcement about 'wild cult women from an unstable planet' had been seen with the Jedi.
Despair had begun to consume Guild and I. We knew of nothing to bring us any comfort. Until Aysno finally appeared again. He talked with Guild and me and taught me some of the things the Dark Jedi had passed down. Some of it began to make some sense. But one thing above all.
"What I am about to share with you," Aysno whispered, "is the most important thing I can. It is the prophecy that was passed down after their first defeat from the Arm. Here is what they say.
"A temporary thing, this peace shall lay;
The Sun shall set, Darkness shall consume Day.
The Dark Jedi will return to do great harm—
But our return means the return of the Arm.
"Divided, the galaxy must be to win this fight;
For only unity shall bring the Power of Light.
If a bond of Light—Darkness—and Men is made,
This shall open the power of the Arm's blade.
"If unleashed, the Arm will make bones rattle;
Do not waste bodies in senseless, open battle.
Once seen, do not hesitate—Get out of there!
Become as one into Dark Force matter.
"Do not question the power of His might,
Or fall victim to the strength of the Light."
I sat quietly and let his words absorb in my head. "So that's what allowed the light to spread over my arm on Coruscant! The presence of myself, the Dark Jedi, and the man I was saving!"
Guild spoke up then. "But wait. If that's what it takes, then why didn't the blade open up in the battle? There were Dark Jedi, Jedi, and men at that battle, right?"
Confused, I looked back at Aysno and said, "Yeah, that's right. How come it didn't happen then?"
"An excellent question." After some thought, he asked, "Tell me, when you were fighting that single Dark Jedi on Coruscant, what was your state of mind?"
"I don't know. Calm, I guess. Prepared for anything."
"I see. How about you tell me the truth now? There is no shame in admitting that you wanted to kill him."
"I guess a little." I saw the look on Aysno's face and saw that he continued to frown. "All right! I wanted to kill him! I saw the twistedness in his eyes and how much pleasure he got out of hurting people. And I wanted to make sure that he would never do it again. That's what I was thinking."
"And was that how you felt during the battle here on Dagobah?"
I shook my head. "No. I was back in my calm, centered state."
"Then perhaps that's the key. To use the power of the Arm, you must return to that state of mind for battle."
"But how am I going to do that? Even with this knowledge, it doesn't change the fact that the war's out there and Guild and I are stuck in here."
As anyone would imagine, I remained skeptical of Aysno for quite some time. But as time went on, I began to place more trust in him. As I learned and learned, and saw the horrors of what was happening in the war, I finally came to understand one thing. No one was coming for us.
It was late one night when I realized this and woke up Guild. "We have to escape."
I couldn't plan anything without knowing more about the base, but fortunately, Aysno was immensely helpful in showing me sketches of the layout of the base and the entrances and exits.
After studying them for a couple of weeks, I had found our way out. Not exactly perfect, but it could work. Many things could go wrong in the process but there was no other way.
After realizing that they were going to get no information out of us, the Dark Jedi had turned Guild and I into slave labor. Forcing us to haul shipments of supplies from their docking bay to other places in the base. And if they discovered us using the Force to help, the penalty would make it not even worth it to take the risk.
On a very early morning, we were waiting in the docking bay for a Dark Jedi pilot to land with more cargo. It was very cold that morning and in a rare moment of graciousness, they gave Guild and I a pair of black cloaks to keep us warm. They were too big for us and had the smell of death on them, but we didn't complain. Finally he landed and came out of the ship. He was not that much older or bigger than either Guild or me, but armed with a lightsaber made him more than a match for either of us. He also wore his black cloak over his head, covering most of his face to look more intimidating.
While Guild and I both carried large boxes down a corridor with the Dark Jedi behind and keeping a close eye on both of us, it came time to put our plan into action. I gave a slight nod to Guild and took a deep breath. No turning back now.
Guild and I both launched our boxes over our heads at the Dark Jedi, who pulled out his lightsaber and ignited it to block the boxes from crashing into him. This distraction was all the time I needed. A quick fist to the chest just above his heart knocked the wind out of him and with a Force shove, he crashed against a wall.
Guild dropped a smoking detonator made for us by Aysno. In the blinding smoke, Guild and I knew that we'd only have a few seconds…
The alarms had gone off and Dark Jedi had run in pursuit to find out what was going on. Through the slowly billowing away smoke, the Dark Jedi staggered out of the smoke and grunted out, "Quick, the Jedi are getting away." The rest of them all ran for the exit and found us running through the swamp away from the base.
It was only a matter of seconds before they were upon us. It was Killon who caught up with me and grabbed me by the neck, hurling me into a tree. As I tried to pick myself up from the ground, I was kicked in the stomach and picked up again, pinning me against the tree.
Killon pulled my hood down and was furious. "Did you really think that you would get away from us?" He turned his head towards other Dark Jedi. "Did you catch the other one?"
They came up holding onto a thrashing cloaked body, with a muffling voice coming from the hood. Killon smiled and looked back at me. As he pulled the hood off of myself. He was confused to find me smiling as well. "What is so funny?"
Smirking, I nodded over at the other Jedi. Killon pulled the hood down to reveal the face not of Guild, but of the Dark Jedi with his mouth gagged and at closer inspection, also had his hands bound together in front of him.
Killon seized at me and put a hand over my neck. "Where is your friend?"
I just continued to smirk and didn't answer. Eventually the answer came to him. He pulled his com-link from his belt and shouted into it, "Do not let Tonzo leave! Do you hear me? Do NOT let him take off!"
"He's just taken off, Killon. Ran right into the docking bay and got ready for take off. Said the cargo was destroyed and he needed to go."
"It's not him! It's the Jedi! Get the cannons and shoot him down!"
Looking into the sky, I saw the ship flying through the atmosphere and weaving around green blasts showering through the sky. Finally, the ship disappeared into hyperspace.
Smiling content, I knew that Guild was safe. At least someone could go free.
Killon turned to me and stared. His face so close to mine that our noses nearly touched. "You may have one this battle, little Jedi. But now you shall pay dearly for it."
I had thought that the treatment Guild and I had gone through couldn't get any worse. I was wrong. Very wrong. It was that very night where my sleep depravation was upped a couple of levels. After a couple hours of sleep, electric shock would awake me. They were very good at allowing me just enough sleep to be able to keep me going and have strength to continue doing my slave labor, but not enough for me to be able to retaliate.
I had 24-hour a day surveillance so it was impossible for me to have any time to speak with Aysno. I didn't even know what happened to him, since he couldn't risk meetings anymore. He could've been murderer for all I knew.
At the end of day, I would be so tired I literally had to be dragged back to my cell. Fortunately, this didn't last long. It was only a few days before Killon pulled me out of my bed and heard him say, "Up, Jedi. We're going on a trip."
I didn't even want to know where.
Visions of what Killon was talking about ran through my mind. Of being dragged to a cliff to be thrown off. Of being drowned in a swamp. Of standing in front of dozens of Dark Jedi with blaster rifles. Whatever it was, I was sure that my death was imminent.
Imagine my surprise, when I was dragged into the docking bay, which was full of spaceships and Dark Jedi running around and into the ships. I was led into one of them and into the back where a cell was waiting for me.
When I was locked up, Killon and the two other Dark Jedi turned around and began to exit. Risking a few words, I asked, "Where are you taking me?"
Two of the Dark Jedi ignored me and continued leaving. Killon stopped and turned around to face me. His smile had me very worried. "We're taking you home, Jedi. I'm sure you miss your friends. With the Jedi crippled and the government abandoning them, they are ripe for a full-scale attack. You will get to witness in full view the final fall of the Jedi Order."
"Greater powers than you have tried! Master Skywalker could wipe you out without even trying!"
Killon laughed and shook his head. "The greatest weakness of a Jedi. Entirely too much faith in your friends."
As he left, I hollered after him, "I've heard that before!"
Hours had passed by in my cage. It was a rare opportunity for me to get some real sleep and I wanted to take it. Though many things were running through my mind about the battle that must be taking place, my exhaustion had taken over. I was awoken by a voice. The voice of Aysno.
"Hello Ben. How've you been enjoying your first real sleep in a week?"
I opened my eyes and sat up. By the change of lighting in the ship, I had guessed that it was night. "What's happened? What's going on so far?"
Aysno shook his head. "I cannot say for sure or not. I'm too old to be allowed into direct combat. I stay behind and maintain communications. But I know that the Temple was attacked fiercely and the Jedi had little warning. There are nearly a thousand Dark Jedi remaining and every one of them is now on Yavin IV. A missile was dropped onto it that has, by all we can tell, not killed any Jedi but has broken apart the entrance and caved it in."
"So what do we do now?"
"You wait here while I retrieve several things for you."
He wasn't gone long before the ship rattled from a loud explosion. A few Dark Jedi ran into the ship; their clothes tattered and burned and looking tired and disheveled. One of them shouted, "Get the Jedi! They'll back off if they see him!"
Alarms flared in my brain and I dived to the ground into a corner of the cage only moments before a large hole blew on the other side of the ship. Through the billowing smoke, Master Jade-Skywalker and a Dathomir Witch ran through with lightsaber and spear and charged the Dark Jedi. Master Jade-Skywalker shouted, "Get Ben and get him out of here!"
Tallah followed close behind and ignited her lightsaber to cut open the door. If only there was the time, I would have hugged her tightly and never let go. Tallah pulled the door open and quickly said, "Follow me. We have a rendezvous in the jungle waiting for us."
As we jumped from the ship and into the jungle, we were met by Killon. We were both surprised, but I noticed something more from Tallah. I felt a cold fear from her.
Killon smiled. "We meet again, little girl."
Confused, I asked Tallah, "How do you know him?"
But Tallah was too frozen to answer me. After looking back and forth between them I looked back at Killon quickly. "Now I remember you."
"I was wondering how long it would take you. It appears that you made a much bigger on me than I did for you. It's not every day that I'm defeated by a mere student of the Force."
"Well…sorry I can't say the same for Dark Jedi killing innocent children."
"You cost me a lot, Jedi. I was on my way to becoming a leader among our order. Until you humiliated me. My masters found me useless after that. That I owed my continued life to the mercy of a mere padawan. I was ordered to lead the Dagobah base. A smelling, stinking bog. Now…you will die. Take this."
Killon tossed me a lightsaber. A Dark Jedi lightsaber. Anything but my own felt so alien. I looked to Tallah. "Make me a promise."
Tallah simply replied, "Name it."
"Do not interfere. If anything happens get back to the rendezvous."
Tallah nodded. I ignited the lightsaber—red, as I figured—and began my charge. Killon was better and stronger than I remembered. His last defeat had clearly given him motivation to train harder and longer in the months since then. My clearer and closer touch with the Force meant little. Killon was just stronger than I was. Just faster. Just better.
I, once again, began to prepare myself for death. It made no surprise to me when my lightsaber blew up in my hands as Killon's blade went through the hilt. It made no surprise to me that I was knocked to my feet only an eye-blink later. It made no surprise to me as I saw Killon's blade slowly start to come down. Only two things surprised me.
The sound of a lightsaber igniting. And the sight of a white lightsaber blade sticking out of Killon's chest. As the lightsaber extinguished, the stunned look on Killon's face faded and his body fell.
As his body, Aysno came into view. "Aysno!" I got to my feet to thank him. And noticed that he was covered in blood. "What…what happened to you?"
"I was…caught retrieving your lightsaber. You'll need it."
Tallah came running to me and clung to me. "Who is this?"
"This is Aysno. He's a former Dark Jedi. And if it weren't for him, I never would've been able to get Guild away."
Aysno knelt to the ground. Then he slowly fell to the ground. "This…is it, Ben. You must fulfill your destiny. Open the blade and become the Arm." He handed me my lightsaber and I gratefully took it. "I place my hopes on you." His eyes fluttered shut and he gave one final breath before his life faded away.
The familiar ache in my stomach returned. "Another person giving their life for me."
Running through the jungle, Tallah filled me in on all that she could about the war that I didn't know.
When we reached the rendezvous, I was greeted by many Jedi who, if under different situations, would have been celebrating. For a few blissful moments, the war had faded away. Tallah, Guild, Ryndell, and I all together in. We hugged and had a last happy laugh that we were all okay and safe. But soon reality began to slip back.
It wasn't long before Master Skywalker ordered us to all begin retreat back to the Academy. And prepare for further battle.
It was just before dawn when we all—Jedi and Witches of Dathomir—made it back through the jungles of Yavin and back to the Jedi Academy. With the main entrance blown apart and blocked by huge rocks, we ran around to the other side and into the docking bay.
Everyone was exhausted. Despair hung over many like a cold, wet shroud. The Dark Jedi would know where we went. They would come for us. And everyone knew it.
Between breaths, Master Durron asked, "What…should we do…Master Skywalker?"
Master Skywalker looked at everyone. He had clearly already decided what must be done. "We wait here. We take as much rest as we can. Then when the Dark Jedi come…we meet them head-on." There was a silent surprise to almost all that were there to hear Master Skywalker speak like this. "If this is to be the end of our Order…if this is to be an end to all who serve the Light…then let this also be the end of all who serve the Dark. This will be the end of all Force-users. An apocalypse of the Force."
A Witch of Dathomir looked up at Master Skywalker from her sitting position and asked, "Can we defeat so many with so few?"
I could tell that Master Skywalker didn't know. But he said, "Yes, we can. And we will. Because we have to."
Tallah looked at me and I could see that fear filled her eyes. She hugged me and rested her head on my shoulder. This won't do it. This isn't enough to bring the power of the Arm. We have the Light and we will be fighting the Dark. We will charge and I'll be in the correct set of mind. We have all the pieces but one: those who are blind to the Force. Normal men. If only the Republic hadn't pulled its troops so soon. Damn them!
We all gathered near the large entrance of the docking bay, waiting. Nearly three hundred of us about to take on almost a thousand Dark Jedi. With rows and rows of us standing with lightsabers in hands of Jedi and spears or blasters in the hands of the Witches. Master Skywalker stood in the front center. Ready to lead the charge to the end of everything.
Until we saw something flying through the sky. A large ship. It wasn't a ship used by the Dark Jedi. And it wasn't a ship used in the armies of the Republic. It came for the entrance to the docking bay. Not knowing quite what to do, we split in half and allowed the ship through to land. It's not like we could do a whole lot, plus we didn't know who was inside.
It wasn't until the ship's ramp lowered and people started exiting that my heart jumped into my throat. Soldiers of the Republic! The Senate brought them back!
More and more soldiers began filing out of the ship. All of them were heavily armed. Pistol blasters at their hips and blaster rifles in their hands. Once they were all out their leader slipped through the ranks: Captain Wallace.
Master Skywalker got through all of us and met him. "What is this?"
Captain Wallace smiled as he pulled a hologram disc from his pocket and turned it on. A small hologram of Chief of State Cal Omas appeared. "Hello Master Skywalker. I am sorry for how our Senate voted in pulling our troops from the war. There is only so much I can do and the Senate has the final word. All I could do was find the soldiers who wanted to be here. I only wish I could come, but an old politician like me would accomplish very little on a battlefield. I'm needed here.
"These soldiers remain loyal to the Jedi. It is the most that I am capable of doing on my own. And if the Senate knew, could likely have me removed from office. But I would rather be a citizen of a galaxy in peace than a leader in time of the tyranny of evil. You have my greatest respect, Master Skywalker." His message ended, the hologram faded away.
Captain Wallace put the disc back into his pocket. "Our army swore to fight for as long as this war existed. We have simply come to honor that oath. We do not come here as soldiers of the Republic. We come here only as men. Men who remember the tyranny of the Empire and what it was like to be ruled by a Master of the Sith."
Then all of the soldiers took off their uniformed tops and dropped them to the floor. The medals that were pinned to them made the sounds of chimes as 200 men put aside their ranks. Their rewarded accomplishments and took their places next to all of us.
I felt a stirring in my stomach. A flash in my mind. This was it. I knew it was. I ran to Master Skywalker. "Master Skywalker! This is it! This is the moment! This is when I fulfill my destiny! I know it!"
Before he could answer, a deep rush of cold went through all who could feel it. The Dark Jedi were near. Master Skywalker looked at me and put a hand on each of my shoulders. "Ben…are you sure?"
I nodded. "Yes. All things are how they should be. This is the moment."
Master Skywalker nodded once. "Very well." We all got back into ranks and I was about to get into my place when Master Skywalker stopped me. "Lead us."
I turned around and face him. "What? Me? Lead us into battle?"
"Yes. This is your time. It was my destiny to bring the Jedi Order back from the dead. It is your destiny to preserve it."
As Master Skywalker guided me to the center of the front row and took a place to the right of me, another deep rush came over me. It wasn't a new sense of power or wisdom. It was serenity.
Serenity, even as we saw the Dark Jedi appear on the horizon. The red aura of their lightsabers created the illusion that, from this distance, their whole bodies shined with the red.
I turned around and faced the Jedi, the Witches, and the soldiers. I ignited my lightsaber and held it high over my head. Bringing in a full lung of air, I shouted as loud as I could, "To the end!"
With that, I turned back around to face the jungle. And began to charge. Everyone came charging behind me. I ran through the open field on Yavin IV to what could likely be my death. Death smiles on us all. All we can do is smile back. So I did. Until…
I noticed the light of my blade began to throb and shimmer. Then the Light grew. The Light began to run down my arm. Around my torso and up my other arm. I felt the Light run down my legs and up over my head. All over my body. When there was nowhere else for the Light to spread, it began to run itself through my body.
I heard voices behind me say:
"What…what's happening to him? What's going on?"
"It's happening! The blade is opening! He has become the Arm!"
Once the Light had gone completely through me, the Light grew and grew. Until we were only about fifty feet from the Dark Jedi, who stopped in their tracks at the Light surrounding my body. They began to shield their eyes with their arms…
Finally I was within a few arms length and heard a powerful yell escape my lips. I swung my blade in a horizontal arc. And just before it made contact with the first Dark Jedi, I felt an implosion through my body and a bright sphere of light surrounded my body. I kept charging and swung my blade again. And again. I saw the pieces of bodies of Dark Jedi flying up into air over and over again. Other Jedi brought down the Dark Jedi blinded by the Light. The rest of the Jedi didn't seem to be affected by the Light.
Men brought down Dark Jedi with their blasters. Sometimes a Dark Jedi would be able to deflect the bolts, but another Jedi would practically always be there to deflect it right back onto another unsuspecting Dark Jedi.
As the battle raged on, there seemed to be no great challenge for me. I was fighting opponents that I already saw myself kill moments before.
I didn't realize it was over until I swung my blade and saw that Master Skywalker deflected it. I didn't even realize that my eyes were closed until I opened them again. I panted heavy, looking at Master Skywalker in confusion.
He smiled. "It's over, Ben. The battle is over."
I extinguished my lightsaber and looked around. All that remained standing were us. Hundreds of Dark Jedi bodies lay on the ground. Some were whole. Others were hacked to pieces. Some had spears sticking up through their bodies.
Tallah ran to my side and hugged me joyously. "We did it! It's really over!"
I returned the hug, equally as happy…until I felt it. The final step in my destiny. "Yes. For you, the war is over." I let go and looked into her eyes. "But for me, it's just beginning."
Tallah looked at me questioningly. So did all of the Jedi within earshot of me. I turned and looked around at all of them. "I can feel them. The Dark Jedi are attempting the same thing as thousands of years ago."
A few moments later, with a deep rush, I could tell that they all felt it too. We looked up into the sky and say what appeared to be a dark, fluid moon that was getting larger and larger just above the red sun that was rising over the horizon.
All Jedi, all Witches knew what it was. We all thought the same thing: Dark Force energy.
I knew that it was my destiny to stop it. To prevent it from colliding with the planet and ending it all in one phenomenally sized kamikaze mission. I stepped forward and raised a hand. Closed my eyes and began to shove…
Seconds passed. Minutes…I felt the muscles all throughout my body flexing. My jaw tightening. My eyes clenching. No matter how hard I tried, my power was not great enough to stop them. I could feel that they were so close, the energy created a solar eclipse over Yavin IV. "I…I can't…stop them! There's…too many of them!"
I raised my other hand and somehow found more energy in my body to stop them. But nothing worked. What's wrong? Why isn't this working! "They must…be using more Dark Jedi…learned from last time…can't…do it!"
A hand touched my shoulder. I didn't need my eyes to tell me who it was. Tallah? What are you doing?
I'm giving my power to you, Ben, such as it is. We'll do it together.
Tallah, no. I'm supposed to do this on my own.
Another hand touched my other shoulder. This time, it was Master Skywalker. They learned from last time and so shall we. You have my power, Ben.
I felt a shudder through the Force as more power flowed through me. Other voices came to me as well.
Guild—Yeah, me too.
Jacen—And you have mine, too.
Voices continued to come. And so did power. The Jedi and Witches of Dathomir, one after another, created a chain channeling all power through one another until it all reached its common goal: through me.
As the power of all Jedi ran through me, I saw the universe in a way that I didn't know was possible. I saw life in its most basic forms. I saw through my surroundings until all I saw were the molecules that they were made of. Then through the molecules to atoms and then to cells. Finally, I saw through the cells into life at its most basic form. What all things must have in order to live. I saw the midichlorians.
The power of all life was at my fingertips. If I wished, I could have ripped apart atoms. Created new life, destroyed all life. Even rip open the planets of Yavin. Complete power of all things was there. But I had more important things to deal with. Stopping the Dark Jedi from bringing the end of all things.
Soon, I felt the wave stop as it began to enter Yavin IV's atmosphere. It stopped dead in its tracks. And as quickly as it started towards us, it began to move away from us back into space. "It's working! We're shoving them away from the planet!"
We shoved until they were nothing but a speck in the sky to us. That was when our forged chain of power ended. There was no celebration this time. Because we all knew it wasn't over. One more thing had to be done. Just one. And only one could do it. We all knew that too.
I turned around to face everyone still standing. It was difficult to let go, but I knew that this was what had to be done. Still, I had to say my good-byes. I looked at Jacen and walked up to him. I took my hand in his and shook. "Thank you for being a guiding light for me, Jacen. You gave me wisdom at times, I never expected. And things I didn't know I needed until you gave them to me." Jacen returned my smile and nodded.
Ryndell and Guild were further away, but I hurried to their side. I hugged Ryndell and said, "We all know that you still have many lessons to learn before you become a Jedi Knight, but I know that you will pass them all. Thank you for being a friend. You taught me to have fun, even when I learn."
Ryndell suppressed a sob, and then tried to turn it into a grin. "Should I get a violin to play?"
Laughing, I continued. "I want you to have the ship that the Senate gave me as a gift for saving their lives. You'll get more use out of it than anyone else, I'm sure."
I turned my head to face Guild, standing right next to her. I shook his hand and said, "You were my best friend here, Guild. And my first real friend ever. Thank you. And on top of that, you were always there to keep me on my toes. I know you'll be a powerful Jedi Knight soon."
Guild, struggling to keep from crying, only said, "You were my best friend, too."
Smiling, I told him, "The final word will be for Master Skywalker, but when you are ready for your lightsaber, I want you to use this." I unclipped my lightsaber from my belt and handed it to him. "Here. I'm putting it in your trust. May you have little need of it."
He took the lightsaber shocked, but grateful.
Almost done, I approached Master Skywalker. I shook his hand in a tight grip. "Thank you, Master Skywalker. I was honored to have you as my teacher. You taught me so much about so many things: the Force, the Jedi, life. You're one of the main reasons that I'm not the person I was before."
Master Skywalker's jaw line flexed as he smiled. "The honor…was mine, Ben."
Finally, it was Tallah and I. We hugged each other tightly and I never wanted to let go. I pulled back and we kissed. Still in each other's arms, I whispered, "I love you, Tallah. I never understood or believed in love until I discovered it between us. You taught me what love really is. All of the strength I have in the world is because of you."
As tears slowly rolled down both of our faces, she looked into my eyes and said, "You don't have to do this! We can find another way to defeat them! I'm not ready to say good-bye yet…I love you."
"And I love you. That's why I must do this. There is no other way. And no amount of denial can change that. I won't have you live your life in a universe of darkness and hatred and pain. A universe where the Dark Jedi rule. I love you far too much for that." She nodded and we kissed once more. One last time. I looked into her eyes and as my good-bye to her, said, "I wouldn't trade our time together for anything. My time here is at an end, but yours isn't. You must live on. Find another to love."
With that, I turned around and walked away from the Jedi Order. I looked up at the sky and closed my eyes. Searching for the way to fight the Dark Jedi…
Concentrating through the Force, I tried to figure how to fight the Dark Force energy. In the entire history of the Jedi Order, this had only been done one other time. And no one knew how Master Sacul did it.
Feeling nervous, I searched my mind for the answer. But I couldn't find it. It must be here! This is why I came! Why else would the Force bring me here if it wasn't?
At that last thought, it began to come clear. The answer did not reside within me. Neither did the ability. I could not stop the Dark Force energy. Only one thing could: the power of the Light Side of the Force. To think myself capable of beating the Dark Side of the Force was arrogant. For me to use the Light Side of the Force to try and beat the Dark Side would not work. The Light Side of the Force must use me!
With several calming breaths, I brought myself open to the Force. Not to use the Force. But to give myself up to it. New power began to rise in me. Power of the Force surged through me like it never had before. The cost of this power was relinquishing self-command. And allowing the Force to make my decisions for me. I was merely the shell through which the Light Side acted.
I felt my body become lighter. Almost as if I were floating. I felt everywhere, yet nowhere all at once. I was not merely lighter, but I became light. With a final surge, I felt myself lunge forward with uncanny speed and agility. The jungles of Yavin far behind, I saw only blackness with millions of tiny lights in the distance.
A darkness of another kind began to appear far ahead. It got larger as I got closer. Much larger. I felt the coldness of the Dark Side spread over me, but not faze me. I wouldn't let it. The collision of the two Force energies was like the collision of a beach ball with a golf ball. Except neither bounced off the other, but began to fuse and meld together.
Pain began to surge through me. I had no body left to be hurt, but what remained could be in pain as much as anything else: my mind. I felt the red-hot pain of energies trying to break through me to continue its way to Yavin, but unable to do so. I continued to take the pain.
But something happened then. Something I did not expect. The pain dissolved. Instead of bouncing off of me and hitting once more, the energies would hit and slide harmlessly from me. The darkness did not become the light and the light did not become darkness. We melded into something new. Something I couldn't describe.
I felt the desperation grow among the Dark Jedi joined in the Dark Force energy. They tried to communicate to me. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN STOP US? YOU ARE HOPELESSY OUTNUMBERED. YOU CANNOT WIN!
That's funny. I seem to be winning right now!
IF WE DIE…THEN SO DO YOU!
Sounds like a good trade off to me! One Jedi's life in exchange for the defeat of the Dark Jedi!
I felt a sound that could only be described as a growl. THE DARK JEDI WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! WE WILL RESTORE OUR STRENGTH! WE WILL RETURN ONCE MORE!
All of a sudden, Dark Force energy stopped coming at me. I soon saw why: there was nothing left to absorb. One final step laid before me. And then it would be over. I know you will return again some day. Because the Dark Side will always find new followers. War is an inevitability. Peace is always temporary. But when you return…so will another Arm of the Force!
With that, I released the power I had absorbed onto the new energy we had become. There was a deep, ominous shudder in the Force as everything caught fire and a super nova erupted in space. My task complete, the universe faded around me. And a new one took its place. This one was nothingness.
I spent either seconds or eons with my eyes closed. When I opened them again, I was surrounded by a beautiful, lush green meadow. The sky was blue and nearby, there was a clear gentle stream that went off into the distance into a high mountain, surrounded by dozens of smaller ones.
I looked down at myself and saw that I was kneeling on a single knee. I also noticed that my body didn't look in focus. More of a haze. Not like a spirit, because there was no blue light. I could almost see through myself. Where am I? Is this the Netherworld?
But I soon saw that this wasn't possible. Nearby were dozens of Jedi. All of the ones that I knew and some I didn't. The Witches of Dathomir were also present. And many officers and soldiers of the New Republic's forces. Their heads were all down and Master Skywalker stood in front of them all.
Doing his best to keep his composure, he stood straight and tall. "We are here today to mourn the losses of not only Jedi, but all people that lost their lives to bring an end to the Dark Jedi. We lost many lives, including one very gifted student. Ben was the most dedicated, loyal, and brightest student that I ever had the pleasure to teach. Who knows what he might have accomplished if given time to grow to his full potential?
"But as has happened to so many of our brightest students, he met his end still in his youth. It is the greatest tragedy of any war. The young perish on the battlefield, while the aged linger on. As a final gift for his sacrifice, through the fires and chaos of the explosion through the Force, came this world." Master Skywalker lifted his arms and motioned all around him. "This planet is the fruit of Ben's knowledge, power, and compassion."
I looked up and all around in awe. "This? I created this?"
As I looked around, I saw my closest friends standing nearby. Tallah's face was red with streaked tears. My heart ached as I saw her in that much pain. I walked to her and tried to comfort her, but I knew that they couldn't see or hear me. So I just stood in front of her and looked into her eyes, knowing that she couldn't look into mine.
Master Skywalker continued. "This world is a gift through the Force. A new haven for all who shall need a home. The New Republic has allowed us to keep this planet and name it ourselves."
Tallah raised her head and a thoughtful look grew in her eyes before she looked to Master Skywalker and said, "Reviresco." Everyone looked at her. Tallah repeated it. "Reviresco. I believe Ben would want us to name it Reviresco."
Master Skywalker asked, "What does it mean?"
"I remember not long ago, he told me about that. It's from an ancient language called Gaelic. It's a motto of his family and it means, 'I flourish again.'"
There was a murmur through the crowd of Jedi and Witches of Dathomir that seemed very positive. They all agreed. Master Skywalker nodded. "That's very appropriate. The Reviresco system."
I smiled and reached out to touch Tallah's cheek one last time. Even if she wouldn't realize it was there. But before my hand could reach, the world began to fade away from me. Nothing was around me and I was once again surrounded by black. This time my eyes were open.
I called out, "What is this? Where am I?" When I got no response from that, I shouted as loud as I could, "Answer me!"
"A place between worlds this is," a voice behind me said. "somewhere and nowhere you are, it would seem."
I recognized the voice, but was surprised when I turned and saw who was there. "Yoda? Master Yoda?"
"Yes. It is I."
"So…you were the one who brought me here?"
"No. Responsible for that I was not."
Frustrated, I asked, "Then…then who was it that brought me here?"
"If looking for the one responsible you are, look into your reflection all you must do."
A coldness grew in my heart. "Are you saying that I brought myself here?" Master Yoda nodded. "No. No, I can't accept that! It was me all along? How? How could I have done that without knowing it?"
"A complicated thing the mind is. Many things happen within the mind that we never realize. Unhappy you were in your world, were you? Understand life there, you did not? Correct? So brought yourself to a world where things make sense your mind did. Now, learned these lessons you have, yes?"
"So if it was all in my mind, then it was like a dream? It never really happened? I was never in any real danger?"
"Danger? Of course! If die here, so would your mind! Live without your mind you cannot. Heard of people dying in their sleep, have you not?"
"So I brought myself through this journey in order to learn things that I couldn't learn in my own world. Things didn't make sense to me, so I took myself to a place where I did understand things. The Star Wars universe." I looked around and another thought made sense now. "And I suppose this blackness is my subconscious, right?"
"Yes. Now complete the journey is. A choice you have. Two doorways through to conscious mind again. Back into your old life, one door will lead. Like you never left it will be. The other leads to the Netherworld. For saving the Jedi Order, open to you that door is. However, no knowledge of ever living in your own world will you keep. On their side, come into your room to wake you up, your mother will. And find that you have entered into a permanent coma."
After a couple of seconds of thought, I said, "I'd like to go to the Netherworld."
Master Yoda sighed and looked down. Shaking his head, he asked, "So terrible was your old life that death you would choose here over life there?"
I looked down and felt myself on the verge of tears. "You don't understand. In my world, I'd be nothing again. I'd have nothing. In the Netherworld, I would be a Jedi. I would be somebody. I could wait for Tallah to come back to my side. And…the Force would still be with me."
"Ben, define for me what the Force is."
Taken back, I replied, "The Force is the energy field that gives a Jedi their power."
Master Yoda shook his head. "What the Force does, that is. Answer for me what the Force is. Where it comes from."
"The Force comes from all living things. All living things come from the Force. It's what binds things together. Wherever there's life…" It was then that I caught on.
Master Yoda nodded and finished my sentence "…there is the Force. As long as you live and are true to yourself and the ways of the Jedi, the Force will be with you."
I nodded and sighed. I then made likely the hardest decision of my life. I closed my eyes and could barely get the words out. "I choose to live in my own world."
Master Yoda smiled and nodded once. He raised his hand and waved, whispering, "Remember…for as long as you live, the Force will always be with you." I was once again swallowed by the nothingness.
I opened my eyes and sat up. It felt ancient, but at the same time very familiar. I was back in my own world. My heart froze and my head fell. I barely had enough strength to lift it up again. Well, back to my old life. Going from the hero of an entire galaxy to being the target of loser bums in high school.
I got up out of bed grabbed a pair of jeans and pulled them on. Then I picked up a plain white t-shirt, but putting it on was a bit difficult for some reason. Once it was finally on, I bent over to pick up some socks and heard a rip. I looked down and saw that the seams on the right sleeve of my shirt had ripped. What the hell…
After I peeled off the shirt, I saw what the problem was. It was too small for me now. I looked into my mirror and saw that I was no longer skinny, but muscular. All of the muscle I had put on over there, I brought with me back here!
I fumbled around through my dresser and found a sleeveless t-shirt. That way I wouldn't have to worry about ripping sleeves. After I finished getting ready for school, I grabbed my books and headed outside.
School was only a mile or so away, so I went ahead and ran. It was much easier now. After running for miles through Yavin IV every morning, this was nothing. As I walked through the crowded hallways, I no longer felt intimidated. The times of walking around with my head down were over. Actually, I had spent so long at the Academy with perfect posture, that walking with my head down hurt anyway.
The hallways of school looked the way things usually did on Friday mornings. People running around, laughing, planning their weekends. Not far away, I saw Matt getting books knocked out of his hands and the guys who did it, laughed as they ran off. Matt knelt down and started to re-gather his things.
I remembered that happening to me so recently, and yet so long ago. And realized something else. It was time for me to live in this world. And I would need friends. I saw so much of my old self in Matt. He just needed someone to approach him. And now, I was the kind of person capable of that.
I walked up to him and helped him pick up his papers and books. I handed them to him with a smile. He seemed surprised by the help. Even though he knew I wasn't like the guys who had teased him, I could tell that he was unsure on if he could trust me.
Keeping my smile, I helped him to his feet and said, "Gotta feel sorry for people with such simple minds, that they find amusement in gravity, right?"
A smile finally crept over Matt's face and he replied, "Yeah, I guess."
"So, you have anything planned this weekend?"
Matt shrugged, and then shook his head. "Not really."
He seemed about ready to say something else, but stopped. So I continued. "I was thinking about seeing the new movie with the Episode III trailer before it. You want to join me?"
Matt, shocked by my question, answered, "Uh…yeah. Okay."
I smiled and said, "Great. I've got some other business I have to take care of here after school, but it shouldn't take long. You want to wait for me outside the North wing exit when school's over?"
Matt smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I can do that." He turned around to leave, but stopped and turned around. "I'll see later."
"Yeah. See you later."
Since my last class for the day was study hall, I got permission to go to another classroom. I walked into the classroom where I took Algebra and saw my teacher sitting at her desk, grading papers alone. I gently knocked on the doorframe a few times and she looked up at me. "Hi. I was wondering if I could talk to you."
She nodded and said, "Come in."
I took a seat in front of her desk and said, "I'd like to take the test I missed from yesterday."
"My decision is final, Ben."
I nodded and replied, "I understand that I was punished for a reason. The way I talked back to you was unacceptable and for that, I'm very sorry. But I really don't think that the punishment reflects the crime in this situation. I've always done what's expected of me in this class. I always turn in my homework on time, I do well on the exams, and I think my track record for this class can speak for itself on that. I've never been a troublemaker in this class and this one incident, although wrong, shouldn't have that much of an impact on my final grade. That's very unfair."
My teacher was silent for a moment and said, "I've been finishing up grading the tests to put into the grade book. If you take the test, it would have to be right now."
"That's fine. I'm ready right now." She handed me a copy of the test and I pulled out a pencil and began solving the problems. I smiled as I finished the first one. After helping to negotiate an entire Senate to go to war, negotiating with a teacher isn't too difficult.
After I had finished the test, which I knew I had aced, I went to my locker and gathered my books for homework that night. I began to walk down the quiet, empty hallway, nearing the exit. Master Yoda was right. Being in their world for a time, has made living here easier. Still…if only I could use the Force. Suddenly, I felt a tingling in my chest and a flare in my mind. I recognized a presence. Josh…
I heard his voice begin to say, "Hey Star Wars boy! Where's your lightsaber?" And I felt his hands get a hold of my books and begin to shove.
The anger began to flood my brain, but I remembered what I had been taught all that year. I remembered Dagobah and Tallah guiding me to the truth. Josh didn't anger me. I was angry with myself and my own insecurities. And I had already released them. I had passed this test long ago.
As my books left my hand and began to fall to the floor, I heard myself whisper, "No." I reached out with my hand and the books stopped in mid-air. I turned my wrist so that my palm was up and with a motion of my fingers, the books reversed and went back into my hand, just as if they had never left.
I turned around and faced Josh. The picture perfect of calm. No anger or fury. No cockiness or arrogance. Just a small smile on my face that let him know that I was ready for confrontation. "I don't wish to fight you, Josh. But if a fight is what you really want, go ahead and make your move. I'll be ready."
Josh just stood there in open-mouthed horror and what he had just seen me do. We stood there in silence for a few seconds more. Then without another word or change of expression, Josh turned around and began to walk away.
My expression changed to a smile of contentment as I also turned around and began to walk for the doors leading outside. Knowing that I would never have to deal with Josh again. That I had now faced my true demons in real life and came out victorious.
Within my head, I heard a voice. The voice of Master Yoda say, "Now…a Jedi Knight, you are."