Birth of a Jedi

Leagaleese warning: The copyrighted material within the following piece does not belong to me (obviously) and is the sole property of the mighty House of Mou…uh..Disney films incorporated (Is that the right one? Disney film studios?) Whatever, who knows because they own pretty much everything, this is just for funsies so please don’t sue me, laywerpeople (But if you have a job for me, have your people call my people). Cool….cool cool. Now that we got that out of the way….

                She woke slowly, dimly aware of the constant shiver running through her bones as she lay against the cold natural stone of the floor beneath her. Bathed in absolute darkness, she fought a moment’s disorientation as she came to realize it made no difference whether she held her eyes open or closed. Using a calming exercise that she had practiced from an early age, she shed the cloak of animalistic panic that had threatened to descend over her mind and took a long series of steadying breaths. There is no emotion, she assured herself as she exhaled all of her unease, there is only peace. To a mind at harmony with the universe around it, approaching peril would announce itself with all the subtlety of a thunderclap as it closed in to come to pass. For those attuned to the cosmic energies running through their bodies, danger to themselves or other life forms generally manifested itself as a rapidly swelling heat that radiated from the source of the threat and grew in intensity as the moment of action approached the present.

                Sensing none of the telltale psychic warmth of impending doom, she calmed her thoughts and began to probe the darkness with her mind’s eye. As she tried to visualize the space around her, subtle notes within the force began to paint the contours of the chamber in her mental picture. Finding herself in the center of a roughly spherical chamber hewn from solid granite, she soaked in not only the physical layout of her surroundings but the subtle flavor of the cavity’s potentiality. She sensed quiet, unfocused, threads of possibility like a static that clung to the humid air around her, taking note of several hazards in the immediate area that lacked the ethereal heat of ill intent.

                She sat up, settling into a well-practiced meditation pose as she gently rested her arms across her lap. Around her, the universe teemed with life and the young padawan began to drink it in. She sensed the ebb and flow of the force as it moved within the dark corners of the cave, radiating from the moss on the rocks, in the water that she could now hear flowing some great distance away, and even the foreign life within her own body; Working in symbiotic harmony with her natural cells to keep the spark of her existence alight. The feeling of it all cast a veil of serenity over her swelling anxiety, allowing her mind to finally pick up on a distinct flicker of familiarity. Focusing on that kernel of awareness, she visualized its presence sitting in her palm as she slowly extended her arm out in front of her. Suddenly, something solid slapped into the center of her outstretched hand and began to roll across her fingers as she moved to grip it.

                It was her kyber crystal, that much she was certain of, but she noticed that its long jagged edges had been honed down and smoothed with what she could tell was an atomically precise operation. The careful shaping of the living crystal could only mean one thing, and it had been done to serve an ancient purpose. For years now, she had carried the small trinket on a necklace with her everywhere she went as she learned to immerse herself into the living universe and connect to the world of boundless energy that sat just behind the veil of perception, submitting herself to its guidance and learning to trust its will. This attunement period served to bind each padawan to their kyber as they utilized the crystal’s unique characteristics to amplify their own connection to the mystical energy field. While a Jedi would be perfectly capable of wielding the force in the absence of their lightsaber and its heart of kyber, the presence of their signature weapon greatly increased their bandwidth; Allowing for improved precognition and a keener command over telekinesis and other ranged abilities.

                As she held the crystal in her closed hand, she reached into and through it with her mind’s eye to take a fresh look at the world around her through its metaphysical lens. As if a light had been powered on in the small cave, her surroundings snapped into certainty and she could clearly see the exit across from her, plain as day, via the subconscious filter that had lowered into place overtop the nothingness her eyes had been reporting to her brain. With her path forward as clear as her newfound sight, she pressed on with swelling confidence. Allowing herself to be pulled along by subtle tendrils of suggestion, seemingly laid in place by the faceless will of the force itself, she found herself following a narrow passage that seemed to widen with each step until she could no longer detect walls to either side of her.

                Walking briskly forward through the open, with a sea of black to all sides and no sense of what lay beyond, she continued to follow the faint tug in her mind until the tendril suddenly fell away and she was immediately awash in the heat of imminent danger from above. Without deciding to do so, her legs automatically began to coil and spring her into a leftward roll. With complete faith in her training, she instantly put every ounce of her conscious effort behind completing the unconscious acrobatic maneuver that the force had seen fit to get started for her. With unnatural strength and speed, she leapt to the side and began a shoulder roll that left her over ten meters from where she had started. A heartbeat after her shoulders hit the ground, a thunderous crash rose from where she had been standing as a speeder-sized stalactite crashed into the cavern floor and shattered into a dozen large pieces. Returning to her feet with another flood of confidence, she forced herself to take a moment to calm her mind from the excitement and rediscover the faint tendril of suggestion that had been leading her along before.

                Her diligence was soon rewarded when she felt its tug once more leading her forward into the darkness. After scrambling along the uneven floor for over fifteen minutes, she finally found the other side of the massive cavern where a narrow passage continued upward through the stone. As she wound her way upward on a meandering path through the naturally hewn rock, she suddenly found a new sense returned to her in the form of faint trickles of light that could be seen pouring down the passageway from up ahead. With renewed excitement, she surged forward until the narrow passage split into two different directions. The light was coming in from the opening on her right that led upward and presumably to the surface. The leftward passage, however, sloped sharply downward and was bathed in pure darkness, emanating a sickly-sweet smell that turned her stomach.

                As she automatically began to move toward the lit passage, she stopped herself after taking half of a step. She suddenly realized that she had become so wrapped up in her elation at the comforting sight of the light that she completely lost track of the ethereal trail of suggestion she had been following. Taking a deep breath to re-center her mind once more, she reached out to probe the world around her with careful concentration. As she submitted her mind and the flow of her thoughts to the will of the force, her focus became acutely aware of the stench that had been wafting from the darkness below; Identifying it immediately as the putrid stink of rotting foliage. But where there is death there is also life to be found, so she focused on the decay and familiarized herself with the delicate impression it made on the Force around her. The moment her attention shifted toward the descending darkness before her, the tendril of disembodied insistence she’d been following suddenly sprung to life again within her mind; Urging her downward with what now bordered on a concerning sense of hunger as it beckoned her onward.

                The force bears no ignorance for those who seek its will, she knew…only knowledge. Steeling her resolve, she swallowed the spark of fear that had begun to warm her gut and pressed forward into the dark. The descent was steep, taking several winding turns before the air started to grow damp and the stench began to hang heavily in the air. As she tried to breathe, the oppressive weight of the smell rushed in with every molecule of oxygen she attempted to claim. Nearly gagging with every sickening inhale, she quickly and very unexpectedly faced the prospect of losing consciousness. It was as if every breath out was replaced with less and less precious oxygen with each strained inhale. With her vision quickly tunneling in on her, she turned to the force once more to rescue her. She had never been trained in the mystical arts of accelerated healing, she lamented to herself, but she had once discussed the concept around it with Master Vondar the summer before over a cup of caf.

When healing oneself or another,” the wrinkled old Master of healing and rejuvenation had said, “a practitioner of the light will absorb the excess radiated force energy of their immediate area and redirect it toward aiding their patient’s natural healing processes. This operation drains both parties involved and cannot be sustained forever, however. The healer must maintain an extraordinary level of focus, communicating with the patient’s body and skillfully directing the response of its immune system, while the individual being healed will be rapidly dehydrated and depleted of nutrients as their body works to rebuild itself. Mending physical damage is fairly straightforward, as you will pretty readily be able to identify the source of the trauma, but ailments of the mind or those from poison are much more difficult to purge. In order to tell the body how to repair itself, you must first know what is wrong. You must connect with the afflicted mind and weigh its perception with that of reality, a feat which is made infinitely more difficult when healing oneself. For, if you are able to introduce a sliver of unfiltered reality into a troubled consciousness, the mind has a way of snapping back to that reality and accepting it almost immediately. Will this burn poisons from the blood directly? No, but it will serve to clear both the conscious and unconscious minds of the patient, which will enable their immune system a greater ability to identify the foreign bodies and expel them…

She stumbled over a small rock and fell to her knee, the world beginning to spin around her as a dull echo of pain called to her sluggish mind from somewhere far away. Why was she thinking of Master Vondar? She struggled to remember, having a difficult time keeping her thoughts straight until one surfaced that jolted her like lightning. Identify reality. Allowing herself to lower into a sitting position, she settled her mind and attempted to take a deep breath. Her lungs automatically stopped drawing in the wretched air when they reached about fifteen percent of their normal capacity and she could draw no more. With her mind reeling from the newly expended effort, she focused all of her remaining energy on forcing her diaphragm to continue moving. There was half a second of heart-stopping struggle, as if she were at the apex of drowning, then she was suddenly gulping in a lungful of now only mildly odorous air. As she sucked in breath after precious breath, the full scope of her faculties began to return to her and she started to piece together what had happened.

Drawing in a calming breath, she closed her eyes and reached out with her mind. She could still sense the disembodied tug of insistence that urged her downward, but it seemed obscured now somehow…as if it were calling to her through a blanket of oppressive fog. As she cast her awareness down the passage before her, she began to feel a light touch of dread in her gut as she sensed something…cold waiting for her. Despite the swelling anxiety that seemed to threaten to squeeze her heart to a stop, she clutched her kyber crystal and mouthed the Jedi code as she pressed forward into the darkness. Rounding a bend in yet another series of sharp descending switchbacks, she detected a faint blue light spilling in from beyond the curve ahead; Painting detail to the moss covered walls at the end of the passage and offering an explanation for the mysterious something that had been periodically brushing against her during her blind descent.

Rounding the corner, she found herself in another large cavern that was lit by what seemed to be a bioluminescent lichen that clung in neat patches upon the ceiling above. Stepping into the chamber, she immediately became acutely aware of the complete absence of the guiding trail of will that had led her there. It were almost as if it had suddenly evaporated at the threshold of the dimly lit new space, and all her efforts to recapture it were in vain. Her realization of this fact elicited a deep exhale of anger and a flood of frustration that she had not expected, and it took a moment for her to regain her composure after the outburst. Looking around, she saw no passageways but the one she had entered through and there didn’t appear to be anywhere else for her to go. That was until she noticed a dark ledge at the far end of the room. It was nearly ten meters up the opposite wall and sat carpeted in a thick blanket of vines that disappeared over a ledge and back into what could very well be a low passageway. The foliage clinging to the wall appeared to be dripping from some unseen water source, but the stalks looked strong and she was fairly certain they would support her weight.

Rolling her sleeves up, she tucked her kyber into a breast pocket and began her clumsy ascent. Her progress was steady at first, but at nearly the five meter mark the plant’s secretions began to come into play. The clear, viscous, substance seemed to ooze out from pores within the stalks as soon as she squeezed them to get a hold, making it nearly impossible for her to acquire a good grip. After struggling for several minutes to gain a scant few meters more, she reached out and seized a vine that immediately gave way; Sending her tumbling to her back on the hard stone floor below in a breath-stealing crash. As she lay on the ground, waiting for her vision to clear, she felt an overwhelming flood of sudden panic that was stirred along by thoughts of failing her trials. She had come all this way, been taken away from her family, robbed of a normal childhood, and worked relentlessly for years just to come up short at the last moment. All because of some kriffing goo plant, her future as a jedi and a protector of the innocent had been stolen from her. She was doomed to a life in service to the order through menial tasks and record keeping…her life as a being of interest, of consequence, was now over and she stood no better off than trillions of other wretched sentients across the galaxy who all had the misfortune of being forced to cling to their own worthless exis…tence.

What was she thinking? She held no ill will for the common being, yet…somehow she found hate for them burning like a hot coal at her core. Why? What had changed? Then she felt it; Like the chill of hard vacuum sneaking up her spine to take roost in her soul. She had always been told that the touch of the dark side could not truly be properly described until felt, and now she understood why. Galactic Basic was a versatile language, but it wasn’t perfect and it didn’t contain vocabulary to define the psychosomatic ice that was now slowly moving to frost over her very being. It came at her, unrelenting, like a storm trying to force its surge waters through any crack it could find in the metaphorical dam that was her mental state. It fed itself off of her emotions, taking any hint of anger or despair she experienced and magnifying those feelings to new heights that invited even more intrusion and escalation. She had to stop the feedback loop, and she could only do that by depriving the system of its fuel. “There is no passion,” she whispered to herself as she exhaled deeply, “There is serenity.”

As she continued to draw breath in long steady heaves, clearing her mind of all thoughts dwelling on the vines or her trials, she began to feel the chill in her chest receding. As it pulled back, it were as if a filter had slowly been removed from her perception and she could once again feel the urgent pull of the force beckoning to her. It wasn’t calling to her from the ledge, however, but an adjacent wall that was covered in the same type of slippery vine. As she approached, her feeling of urgency grew and she began to see a section of vegetation that did not appear to have stone directly behind it. She was able to push through the tangled foliage and step into a low-ceilinged passage that led upward and to the left around a bend that appeared to be lit via orange flickers of torchlight from whatever space lie beyond.

Pushing forward with her kyber clutched tightly in her palm, she rounded the final blind corner and nearly stepped off a sheer ledge that suddenly dropped several dozen meters into the murky darkness below. The artificially carved room she found herself at the threshold of was awash in the orange flickering glow of torchlight, casting animate shadows to dance across the rough stone walls around her. The interior of the cavern was roughly fifty meters long and just under twenty meters wide, featuring only a single meter-wide strip of stone that served as a bridge to connect the doorway she was standing in to the matching archway across from her. As she stepped close to take a peek over the edge, she strained to see what it was that sat strewn in mounds upon mounds across the bottom of the pit. It almost looked like the collection bin of a trash compactor until she started to realize the heap was too uniform in shape, as if specific items had been stored there instead of just random junk. Upon studying the poorly lit refuse below, she started to identify hilt bodies of every shape and size along with recognizable focusing mechanisms and standard power cells. The chaos below contained everything she would need to complete her lightsaber, but everything was so helplessly out of reach.

She could call upon the force to retrieve items from afar, but the distance at which she could do so depended greatly on her personal connection to that object. She, for example, had been able to summon her kyber crystal from over fifty meters away once, but the furthest she was able to stack a pile of random rocks had been just over ten meters away. If she didn’t know the objects she wished to retrieve via a personal history, she’d have to be able to physically see it well enough or at least be consciously aware of exactly what she wanted from the chaos below in order to get her hands on it. “Chaos,” she thought, “…There is no chaos. There is harmony.” Instinctively knowing exactly what she needed to do, she trotted out to the center point of the long narrow bridge and dropped herself into a cross-legged sitting position. With her mind calm and clear, she began to visualize her ideal lightsaber.

She closed her eyes and assembled it in her head, allowing the force to guide the brushstrokes of her mental image as it took shape. The handle had to be smooth in her palm, devoid of any external features that would snag or otherwise impede her ability to efficiently transition from a forward into a reverse grip. It had to be balanced with a slight favor in weight distribution toward the blade, allowing for her high gripstyle to leave plenty of room below for a two-handed power assist or pommel strike. Many sabers came with an adjustable focusing ring, but it would just be a waste of space in her design. She imagined a fixed-length blade, shorter than most, with a secondary power cell that could be used to hot-stage the saber’s containment field for rapid recall and redeployment of the weapon’s deadly energy. The pieces all swirled within her mind’s eye, each new addition fitting perfectly into the next and growing in coherence as the weapon took shape.

Suddenly, the click of a thin body panel scraping against another prompted the young padawan to open her eyes. Floating there, a meter above the walkway in front of her, was the exact weapon that she had imagined. Smooth reflective metal soaked in the flicker of the torchlight, the distorted image of the cave around her broken only by the indent of a single button that sat near the blade-end of the grip. It remained incomplete, however, and a central compartment that lie at the heart of the saber sat open and empty…Waiting. With a shiver of exhilaration, she released her grip on the kyber in her hand and allowed it to float gently over to the newly forged weapon. Clicking effortlessly into place as if it had always been meant to be there, her kyber crystal was then concealed by a panel of smooth reflective metal that slid silently into place. Upon opening her palm, the new device obediently shot into her grip and she immediately activated it with a snap-hiss that cast a brilliant yellow glow onto the world around her. As she soaked in the unusual and rarely seen color of her new lightsaber, she found herself surprised at her inner lack of surprise. Somehow, she had always known her color…yet had no idea of what she knew until it was made corporal in front of her. She twirled it experimentally in her hand, noticing the perfect balance it offered as she spun it expertly from side to side. Deactivating the golden blade, she clipped it to her belt and pushed confidently forward toward the far end of the walkway and the corridor beyond.

After a short trip through a passageway that spiraled upwards, she stepped out into a massive natural cave structure that seemed to stretch infinitely out into the dark. Calming her mind, she looked to the force for guidance on what she should do next. The intent of the room was clear, drawing her toward the center where a lit torch sat burning alone in the darkness along with a waist-high ornate platform. It featured a rounded top and intricately carved sides that led into the unnaturally smooth stone floor at its base, and it appeared to have a small hole at its very tip. After standing in front of the pillar for a moment, she consulted the universe and found herself with an overwhelming urge to slot her lightsaber into the open receptacle at its end. Trusting the disembodied will that beckoned her to do so, she obliged; Unclipping her newly built lightsaber and inserting it, emitter-first, into the slot.

With a spark of excitement, she activated the weapon’s blade and was immediately showered in a brilliant flash of color that poured out from every nook and cranny of the several-hundred-meter-wide cavern of natural stone. After a moment’s adjustment to the new brilliance, she was finally able to see what had been emitting the light. Positioned in frames, set within the rock all throughout the entire space in row after neat row, were kyber crystals…tens of thousands of them; All shining brightly with both the color and essence of the living stone’s original wielder. She stood surrounded by the final shards of her order’s greatest Masters and Grand-Masters, and she could feel their presence around her like a tidal wave of support and overwhelming pride that hit her all at once. They were calling to her from beyond the vail, not with words but with impressions of emotion; Sending their approval of her acceptance into their ancient order and her eventual place by their side. There is no death, she realized finally, There is the force…