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I sat in subtle silence long after Master Armiena departed, the remnants of her reaction playing over and over in my head. Her words, the clenched jaw, the emotionless tone, the guarded mentality, even if she did not present it or speak it, I knew for certain that I had accidentally touched a nerve. And because of that, I felt guilt knotting up in my shoulders and plaguing my mind. I had never been one very good at properly expressing myself.

 

So I left her to her devices, at least, for the moment being, unsure to where she had went off to. Perhaps she simply needed a breather. Or perhaps she simply needed a moment away from me. I wasnt quite sure, but I left it as is, still sitting within the cockpit with worry in my eyes. I wondered if I had crossed a line. I worried with whether or not she would still wish to be my Master. I even worried whether or not I deserved to be her student. But what plagued me more than the worry were the words she spoke before she even left the room. She was a Jedi, a former Grandmaster of the Order. How could she not be a Jedi anymore? Had conflict caused her soul to become so weary, so exhausted?

 

My thoughts were abruptly pushed aside as the large sounds of impacts above, startling me to reality as my gaze shifted upward to them. And then the growing familiar hiss and humm of an activating lightsaber before it began striking something aboard caused my to react and I quickly went after her. Following the sounds of her strikes amidst the crimson glow of emergency lighting, I passed the common areas of the upper deck and ran straight toward the seized portal now vibrantly glowing with the molten metal where the saber had struck. And within, Armiena knelt, tossing wires and circuit boards, metal plates, and anything that her hand gripped behind her like garbage.

 

"Master?..." I spoke, extending my hand before quickly drawing it back, unsure of how to approach the situation, before I simply extended my hand completely and gripped her shoulder. "I am sorry if my words hurt you. I know you're not like other Jedi, and I know you mean well. But you are a Jedi nonetheless." I spoke carefully, letting my heart guide my words as the room settled to the same subtle silence I sat in below. "I just ask that you allow me to be the Jedi that I am destined to be, just as your life guided you to be the one that you are."


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Armiena responded by pulling a knife from her belt. It wasn’t an exquisitely balanced, painstakingly honed vibroblade designed for killing one’s fellow man, but rather a five-centimeter folding knife better suited for snipping away stray pieces of fabric from one’s clothing. She plunged it into the cityscape of computer chips and teased away a length of superconducting wire. Still looking away from her student, she began to coil the length of wire around her flesh-and-blood hand.

 

There were several kilometers of wire within this panel of the sensor array. It was a few minutes and at least two lightsabers’ worth of wiring before the veteran Jedi spoke again.

 

“My last Padawan was from Dantooine. He would have been a little bit older than you by now. I’ve been a bit distracted.” But Arlan’s death was an old pain--it may have been a massive, sucking chest wound, but it had since healed after leaving a scar that could ignored.

 

“So be it, Jedi,” Armiena said with a nod. “Almost everything you will need for your lightsaber can be found on this ship. That Adegan might be suitable for your crystals--I’ve probably got a sensor somewhere on this ship and some cutting tools. Those texts you grabbed from Mandate should have detailed information on the specifications of the parts, mineral content and clarity of the crystal, but... the Force has a tendency to guide you in the right direction in these matters. While you’re tearing this ship apart, I’ll be acquainting myself with the lathe.”

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I smiled half heartedly as Master Armiena finally acknowledged my choice, but I could still tell that she wanted more from me, more for me really. But I was young and naive, and wanted life to define me. Perhaps not the wisest choice, but still better than most. So as she left, I contemplated on her previous words.... words about her previous Padawan and how she spoke of him in a past tense, making me wonder of his own fate and what he was like.

 

Like she said, most of the parts that the data listed were easily found. The descriptions made them vividly recognizable. But the hardest part was the frame and angle I was looking for, as well as the sleeve, just among a few other parts. And after nearly an hour of trying to force pieces together and makeshift a few items I felt would work, I frustratedly tossed aside yet another failed attempt. I sighed briefly, sitting back from my perched position over the pile of scrap onto the floor and bit my thumbnail as I thought about her last words and what she was going to focus on.

 

Master Armiena obviously had more experience than I did at forging a lightsaber than myself, especially considering I had only recently considered forging one in the first place. And that's when I remembered her words about the Force guiding me, causing the lightbulb above my head to vibrantly shine. So I sat there, opening my mind to the Force with the vision I held of my saber in my mind and saw its pieces strewn about. I felt the design I wanted and wondered how to properly fit to together, from the emitter and focusing lens down to the curved hilt and cylindrical casing being as smooth as the ice of Ilum, with the leather of its forward grip sitting seamlessly beneath its casing. And that's when it hit me.

 

The parts were there, and I could see everything as if I knew the ship inside and out. Just behind the paneling Armiena had been stripping held a wire fuselage frame that would fit the angling perfectly. And back in the cockpit, sat a lever with the same angle that the frame would fit perfectly in made from Ultrachrome. And down the hall in the common area sat leathered seat that could easily provide the grip where the lever once had one. Everything, though strewn about, was there, just as she had said. Running about, the constant clanking of my hurried feet from one side to the other, up and back down, could be heard as I went about collecting the parts. 

 

And once that was done, I quickly found Armiena, the panting of my breath recognizable by my previous rushings with all in my hand. Yet I spoke not a word as I stood there, gazing at her lost in her moment, and waited for confirmation.


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Like a pilgrim before an altar, Armiena sat within the massive suite of tools that comprised the machinist's workshop aboard the McShipface. Most holy altars did not include a plasma torch, industrial-grade lathe, tri-D molecular printer, and enough computing power to rival the cumulative efforts of the engineering department of a mid-tier university, but Armiena's were strange gods, as were their rituals. Her oversized robe had been cast onto the computer terminals in favor of a synthleather apron; a pair of dark-tinted goggles were drawn over her eyes; the lower half of her face was obscured by the bulk of a filtered respirator.

 

Foul vapors and flakes of durasteel were being scattered upwards as she placed her hands directly into the path of the industrial lathe to spot-weld attachments to a cylinder that was rapidly being cut into the shape of a lightsaber hilt.The design of the weapon was simple, even crude. It was little more than a burnished piece of steel with inserts for switches and grips, of an awkward length that was unconventionally long for a standard lightsaber, but short for a double-blade.

 

As the hilt began to take form, Draygo was… singing. Her voice was better suited for making her orders and taunts heard over the din of battle, over the whine of blaster fire and deafness inflicted by the concussion of a nearby explosion. Volume was something she had mastered after decades of war. Tempo and tone were secondary priorities.

 

Tertiary was perhaps a better estimation.

 

The veteran Jedi gave no indication that she was aware of the approach of her apprentice. Her senses were focused on the electric soul of her workshop, and Genesis’ footfalls were inaudible over the metallic grinding and shrieking noises from the lathe. There was also the matter of her terrible singing. It wasn’t until Draygo lifted her face from the ribbons of durasteel that were being sliced away from the lightsaber hilt and noticed the reflection in the polished metal that she became aware of his presence.

 

She ticked down four minutes on her hand.

 

Finally, she snatched the hilt from the lathe, her metal hand wholly unaware of the fact that it was gripping a piece of friction-heated steel. “Not my most ornate work, but definitely the most complicated.” She gave an wolfish grin. “Wiring this is going to be fun.”

 

She glanced at the components that her apprentice had mustered. The calculations that her mind was racing through were almost visible through her eyes. “Curved? That’s… unfamiliar. Probably best to tackle it in multiple sections and weld. The Force guides.”

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I nodded my head in agreement, taking my place next to her at the work station as I laid the parts out before me as they fell from their hold with both my crossed arms, falling upon it with clanks and sounds of metal scratching against metal as they spread out. Next to me, I laid the datapad with design sprawled across its screen, a nervous pit in my stomach as I realized that I had never really put anything together, having always did stripping and separating as a scavenger and what little skill I did possess in making anything was no more than primitive means. But if I was going to do this, I was going to make sure I did this right. And so I began, first by separating the parts from the wiring and components, placing the sleeve and casing aside for last.

 

And so my work began, carefully zooming in along each section to inspect how each fit together, where each part connected to the next, and where possible modifications would need to be made. Hours would pass as I made mental notes here and there, scrolling from one page to the next, searching for the design I had embedded into my mind until a full picture began to unfold in my head and I slowly began to grab parts and components and began to put them together, the fumes of soldering wires and the sounds of frustration filled the air. Then next came the framing, using the fuselage I grabbed earlier to fit the pieces in place as I meticulously followed the design I envisioned. From placing the emitter and lenses at the forefront to the power cell containment at the rear, it began to strangely form the inner workings of a semitrically curved hilt. But I still didn't seem to feel right to what I envisioned, so I set it aside and took out the Pontite crystal that I had carried for so long, its swirling color mesmerizing my gaze as it pulsed with life.

 

They say Kyber Crystals are living crystals, born of the Force and intune with those it chooses as its weilder. And the Pontite variant is even rarer, able to enhance its weilder's affinity in the Force its self. But whether or not that this was true, I could not say. All I knew was when I looked at it, I felt the presence of home within it, like the plains of Dantooine lived within it, its color reminiscent of the its turquoise glow from space. And as I looked deeper into it, I could feel the Force flowing from me into it as if it was a part of me, my memories of my childhood, my adolescence, and even my time of under Master Armiena flowing through my mind and through it. It was a strange feeling to behold, but it brought me a sense of clarity as I stared at it. And in that moment, I decided to shift my design slightly.

 

Grabbing the tools needed, I began to carve away at crystal. More hours would pass and before I even realized the time that had already passed, I was alone in the moment that took me. Like Dantooine its self, and the life that had forged me and came full circle upon the very planet that I tried to run from, I slowly carved the crystal from it's natural state into one of crystal clarity, a jewel of Dantooine, a orb of life, and finally into a gem that glowed like the planet its self: a perfectly circular crystal to fit into its proper place within the hilt.

 

And when it grew time to place it in its proper place, I had yet to realize that I had been at it already for three days, lost within the moment of forging the weapon it ached to be. Now would come the moment of truth, all parts properly aligned as much as physical touch could perfect, and the test of a Jedi came to call my skill. Opening myself to the Force, I opened myself to its call. The casing, the sleeve, the frame, and the crystal all began to encircle my form as I pressed the etched vision in my mind to bring it to life. First the frame hovered before me, the imperfected alignments shifting to perfection, then the crystal taking its place at its heart near the ignition switch cut from a sliver of the crystal that would lay beneath its sleeve and casing, activating only upon the call of the Force and not by the hands of outsiders. And then the insulated sleeve wrapped its self around the frame, ensuring that even lightning could not harm its contents, a lesson that I had learned upon Coruscant. And finally, it shifted into the casing, the lever I had taken from the cockpit made of Ultracrome with the sliver of leather replacing the former metallic grip that once adorned it removed with the leather providing the forward grip for such a hilt. Sleek and sophisticated, I felt the hilt fall softly into my hand as the final piece fell into place, a circular clip at its bottom, adorned with smaller crystal orbs salvaged from the very crystal at its heart. It was finished.

 

Shifting my eyes around for Armiena, I did not realize the toll the whole experience had taken upon me nor my form as the shifting of my eyes caused my head to grow light and my stomach to feel queasy from hunger, still unaware that a total of five days had past since I began. As I laid back and gave into my weakened state, all I could do was tell for her, unsure whether she was near or far. "Master"


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Starships, especially ones as pedestrian as a Barloz-class Freighter, are not silent when in operation. There was the ever present hum of sublight engines, the keening whine of repulsorlifts, and a hundred mysterious and unnerving moans and creaks and rattles to frighten inexperienced spacers or to alert their crews that the capabilities of their vessel and home were being stretched to their limits. At the very least, there would be the ever-present hiss of air venting through its compartments to reassure its denizens that they weren’t in danger of suffocation or hypothermia. Save for the occasional whisper-clunk of its life support systems turning over to keep the interior at a reasonably comfortable temperature, McShipface was utterly silent.

 

There was no answer. Genesis’ master was many kilometers away. Where, she had not left details on--though the absence of a speeder bike and several days of rations from the ship’s galleys hinted that she had intended to be absent for some time.. With any luck, the half-Miraluka would forestall panic long enough to find a note left in the cockpit, scrawled with a rough hand that had punctured the flimsi while writing on the ship’s control boards.

 

Need to go.

Don’t know where.

Just a feeling.

Think I’ll be back soon.

 

_____

 

At that moment, Draygo was more than four thousand kilometers away. Peering through the visor of a plastoid face-shield, her eyes were fixed on a point somewhere beyond the horizon. The veteran Jedi still had not determined what destination the Force had chosen for her, but it was not the abandoned Enclave on Khoonda. Nor was it, mercifully enough, Arlan’s home village--Draygo had never visited it, but she had never been much for tearful, dramatic conversations at memorials. Or memorials in general.

 

The engine continued to roar. The sea of grasses continued on, interrupted only by the crest of the occasional hill or the impacts of thoroughly surprised pollinators on her face-shield. Hours later, it began to rain. Armiena considered pausing to wait out what was promising to be a torrential downpour, but instinct insisted that she continue--that it was absolutely critical that she not pause at this moment. At the apex of yet another hill, Draygo found her landspeeder plummeting as it fell over the precipice of a ridgeline. She spat out a curse and shifted her weight back to lift the control vanes, allowing the speeder bike to coast to a jarring but controlled landing above a layer of mud.

 

Armiena caught a glimpse of her destination while descending. It was the rotted husk of an abandoned war machine. It was many stories tall, but it the rusted chassis had been picked over by scavengers so thoroughly that she was unable to recognize the model.

 

At the speed of hundreds of klicks per hour, Draygo spanned the remaining distance in mere minutes. During those minutes, Armiena only sighted the barest scraps of grass on the muddy prairie--no trees or any vegetation more complex than a shrub, and no fauna save for insects and a few foraging birds that could weather the rain. More eerie than the emptiness was the flatness of the muddy grassland--it was as flat as a megablock of Coruscant, as though the entire plain had been constructed by a mediocre architect or--

 

Draygo hit the airbrakes and pulled the speeder bike aside to a rough halt. Dismounting from the bike, she sank up to her ankles in the mud. She began a slow scan of the horizon, seeing nothing but mud and a few patches of stubborn vegetation on the perfectly flat prairie. It hadn’t been constructed. It had been demolished--pounded flat.

 

The rusted skeleton of a war machine was that of a Confederacy seismic tank.

 

Armiena had forgotten her history. During the Clone War, there had been a battle fought on Dantooine. The books were a bit hazy on the justification for the Republic and CIS committing so many forces to the Outer Rim planet, not even notable for its agricultural output during those years--it was likely that the justification had simply been to squander as many resources as possible, and so much the better if that meant the deaths of a few Jedi.

 

But what could the Force had hoped to show her on this long-abandoned battlefield? Mud sucking her boots deep into the ground with every step, the veteran Jedi began to cross the final fifty meters to the shelter of the wreck of the seismic tank. All the meanwhile, the rain began to come down harder and harder, and the mud grew deeper around her ankles.

 

The Battle of Dantooine was perfectly emblematic of the Clone War. It was a pointless conflict fought on a Rim world, distant enough from the Core that it did not pose an immediately threaten the everyday lives of the Republic’s citizenry--but also close enough to Galactic shipping lanes that it posed a minor crisis. Invaded by a seemingly limitless army of battle droids, the Republic’s slave army of clones had nearly been overwhelmed and likely would have lost control of the insignificant world had it not been for the leadership and deadly skill of Master Windu and a few other Jedi.

 

And emblematic of the Clone War, their victory served no strategic purpose. Those destroyed battle droids would have been replaced only weeks later.

 

Her boots squelching into the sodden ground, Draygo was seized by a sudden impulse that she must not take one more step forward. There was… something below her, some kind of mechanical awareness. Armiena reached out with the Force and hauled it upwards through the mud.

 

Flat, expressionless, and heavily armored--Armiena recognized the silhouette instantly--it was the armored faceplate of a B2 battle droid. Even cleaved in two at the waist, the droid had remained functional and retained enough of its malicious intent to level its forearm blaster at Draygo’s neck. Self-preservation took over. The veteran Jedi stepped forward and placed her hand directly over the barrel of the blaster cannon. Heat washed over her as the droid fired repeatedly, but she absorbed the energy of the blasts and drew her own sidearm. She punched the blaster pistol into the hanging mess of the droid’s mechanical entrails and pulled the trigger until its dim lindicator lights died out and its cannon arm dropped lifelessly.

 

Armiena let the droid fall to the mud, splashing filth over her chest, face and her mouth. She had been smiling during this unexpected confrontation. She stared into its dead faceplate for a long time. The apex of the storm came and went, the dark clouds gradually making away for a humid and overcast noon. Was this what the Force had intended to show her? That despite decades of war, Armiena loved conflict--that she loved battle and victory? That she was a creature completely unsuited for peacetime?

 

She received no answer from the Force. She did, however, receive an interesting question.

 

And at the very least, Draygo had found a minor treasure trove of lightsaber parts.

 

____


It would be two more days until the roar of her speeder bike approached McShipface. Her robes crusted with dried mud, her eyes bloodshot and crazed from staring into the horizon for two days with only her thoughts for company, and with the mechanical corpse of an obsolete battle droid lashed to her mount, Armiena was a forboding sight. She was exhausted--but she was alive.

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Unconsciousness, it was a lingering feeling as I laid there trying to pull myself from upon the floor. It was a state in which I flowed to and from as hunger and sleep deprivation took its hold, the times I could awaken to see blurred by. And so, occassionally, all I could do was give in, letting the moments of darkness take me and fly by until i could manage to open my eyes again, attempting to fight to regain my reality.

 

Day break finally pierced the veiled gaze i managed to look through as the Force began to slowly return through my moments of sleep, my lips coarse and my throat dry as my voice once again called for her by name. But Armiena was far, and I too weak to reach her or find her through the Force. So I managed to crawl myself from the room I was in. It felt like hours had passed before I finally made it to my gear, reaching in and pulling forth a few nutrition bars from it and nearly choking as i scarfed them down in large bites, using the water i had to wash it down before i regurgitated it all back up due to the haste of my hunger. But grabbing another, I slowly began to eat my fill.

 

Before I knew it, another day had passed. I felt my strength returning well enough that I managed to make it to the cockpit in order to see if i could locate Master Armiena, but I instead found her note. I chuckled as I sat there reading it. Typical of her, but I felt the pain this planet held for her, so it was understandable. Dantooine held a similar pain for myself, and i soon found myself outside the ship as well looking in the very direction to where it laid. I supposed to myself that since I was here, and had a little time, it warranted a visit if only to see the old homestead. I needed to find closure in my old life if I was to truly move into my new one. And so with a bag packed, and my addition to the note that @ObliviousKnight had left that simple spoke 'Going Home for a quick Visit', I departed.

 

The Stormhelm homestead wasn't but half a days walk through the tundra of Dantooine, past the ancient Jedi Enclave and past the old  Caves where my whole journey had began, and sat not too far from the old outpost where DSF had stationed themselves many years ago outside the Ruins of the Builders. When it came into view, it was almost nostalgic. The scents, the feel of the breeze rushing through the nearby crevasse that tunneled it across the plains, even the squeaking of the old swing, all brought back painful but memorable memories that brought both tears from my eye and a smile to my face. And as I sat my bag down on the rotted timber of the front steps and sat down, I stared out into those memories as time began to fly by.

 

Sitting there, I pulled the saber from my hip, my mind pondering if my mother and father were there with me, wondering if there was a sense of pride within their spirits, at the man I had become. And a part of me knew that it was true. Rising, I got up and walked inside, carefully treading as the old boards creaked with the pressure of my weight, my gaze shifting around as I strolled down memory lane. The sight and smell of my mother's cooking. The laughter of my father as he came in from work and kissed the love of his life like he hadn't seen her in months. It was almost picturesque, and memories I had not remembered in so long that they felt not of my own. And then I turned toward my old room, dark and closed off. Opening its door, I could barely see where I once laid my head, taking my saber in hand and activating it. But it did not ignite, a confused look crossing my face. Did I not assemble it correctly? It didn't explode, so that was a good sign. Shaking my head, I flipped the switch back off and clipped it to my hip, figuring I would have Armiena inspect it upon my return and instead ignited a flare.

 

My bedroom was just as I had left it that morning, toys still strolled about on the dusted sheets. Over on my desk were parts that could only be described as trinkets from the spaceport I called home after their deaths. And on the shelves were books, mostly children books about Jedi and Republic war heroes, even a few science fiction ones about Galaxies not of my own, one noted as Terra Nova, a planet once called Earth that my writer decided to throw in to relate with me. Closing the door as I departed, I noticed that the sun had began to set, so I settled in for the night, taking the couch where mother used to bounce me on her knee when she wanted quality time with me. Taking a bar out of my bag, I ate at it, making sure to finish regaining my strength that had been waning since the construction of my lightsaber. And after a few swallows of water, I tossed the flare out the window and let the setting sun grow dark as did my own world.

 

Memories would take hold and plague my dreams that night, horrifying and dark. It was the memory of that day, the memory that I had been fighting since I chose to walk the path of the Jedi. It always started out the same, my father's smile, my mother's laugh, my mischief and their enjoyment of it despite the harsh repercussions that I usually brought upon myself at the hands of my mother's switches. But for some reason, that day, she did not scold or discipline me, rather smiling and laughing instead with a bittersweet enjoyment of the day. But then came the blood, the death, the darkness of it all as the Krath Hounds slew and tore them apart, my mother's sacrifice that saved me and my ending the lives of the Krath's and their pup.

 

"Genesis..." I heard my mother cry as those moments flashed over and over in my mind, my form tossing and turning in a cold sweat upon that familiar couch. "Genesis.... run. Get out of here!"

 

These were the last of her words I remember from that day as I grabbed father's blade, but this time, it resounded too realistically and I jumped awake with deep gasps from my slumber. I looked outside into the star filled sky, throwing my legs over onto the floor and wiping the sweat from my face as I buried it into my hands. The flare had long gone out, and the house was as dark as the emptiness of space. So I stood up and walked to the door, stopping short of its frame as I heard a rumbling growl just outside. It was a growl I was all too familiar with, and my heart raced with the reality of it just as it did that day.

 

Kath Hounds.

 

Grabbing my bag, I searched desperately for a weapon of any kind, something to defend myself. But I had left all that behind and only brought my lightsaber. I cursed silently under my breath, placing the bag over my shoulders as I tried to locate the hound. I could use the Force to defend myself, but at this time of year and given the solace of my location, it was a pack of them and they were hungry. Not even a blaster would deter them against one singular being of prey. My only choice would be to run, and I would have to run fast to escape the likelyhood of at least three. And as silent as it was, I could hear two of them on the porch, which meant I couldn't get an accurate number. Whatever plan I was going to come up, I would have to come up with it fast. I knew they could smell me, but a simple creak of the wood beneath my feet would give away my position.

 

And sure enough, as i leaned back to try and get a view out the window, it did. Before i knew it, one of the two came crashing through the window, causing me to rush out the door and into view of the other. So I ran. I ran as fast as I could as the two bulls began their pursuit. Opening my mind and body to the flow of the force, my form became as light as a feather, crossing the plains in a haste I had never charged before. But with the sounds of snapping branches and horrific growls behind me, I did not choose to look back nor slow down, the fear and panic within me echoing of that day so many years ago.

 

One managed to keep up, the other only lagged by the beast in front of him, and i could feel its intent to pounce just as it did, causing me to zag to the right and out of instinct, I shoved the beast aside with a luckily well placed push of the Force. But it caused me to slow and the second beast closed the gap. Picking up speed, I darted toward the crevasse ahead of me, hoping that I could make it and bottleneck myself in instead of dealing with the two beasts on both sides, possibly causing them to collide and loose enough ground for my escape. But I hadn't learnt my lesson years ago, Kath Hounds albeit beasts, were abnormally intelligent and the third waited for me there. This was why they stood as some of the best hunters this side of the Galaxy and now I was pinned.

 

I stood there, encircled, the fear of death gripping as my heart, as they playfully circled me. But I had already chosen that I would fight even if I died this day, just as my parents did so long ago, and as they each took turns charging at me, only to be brushed away by my touch of the Force, I finally understood why my parents fought and died that day. It wasn't just ensure my survival like I had always believed. But it was to feed the hungry by offering themselves up as sacrifices so that their bellies would be full by the time it came my turn. They wanted me to live, wanted me to become the man that I had become. It was in that moment, standing off against the darkness of nature, that I understood the life they saw for me. And it was in that understanding that my views began to shift. For so long I felt that my living was a mistake, my life no more important than the next. Even the pup I had slaughtered that day in anger. But now I knew, just as Master Armiena had said, that we fight until our fight is done and only then can we truly rest. And in that moment, I felt the presence of my mother and father upon the passing wind, the scent of them flowing within, and as the three attacked in an almost unison pattern for the final kill, I grabbed my saber, pulling the force within me and unleashing it in all directions as the turquoise blade sprung to life. Guilt free and realizing that my fight had just begun, I attacked.

 

Charging up the backside of the closest Kath, I spun myself, feeling the curved hilt of my blade shift within my palm as it struck the hide of the beast before i landed head on with it, my gaze revealing my intent to fight until i could fight no more. In that moment, I saw its hesitation just as one of the other's charged from behind me, my form twirling and twisting as I ran the tip of my blade across it's back, blood spewing across my form in its passing. And lastly, I turned toward the third, running up it's face and striking its horn as I cleaved it in two. And as I turned, all three took off and left me beaten and bruised, a couple of ribs cracked and my robes torn where one managed to slice open my arm. Deactivating my blade, I fell to one knee, aching in pain, watching as the sun began to rise. 

 

After applying what little healing I could muster, and bandaging the rest, I would arrive a day later after Armiena's own return, covered in blood from the battle the night before, wounded, and tired. But in my hand i held the Kath's horn. And on my hip, my saber, humming upon the flow of the Force with my newfound resolve. I may not have to kill, but a Jedi is forged to fight against whatever odds they may face. That is the path of the Jedi. That was the path i was meant to walk. I, Jedi.


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After being alone for the last few days with no company save the stars at night and insects by day, Armiena had begun to talk to herself to break the silence. And Draygo answered. At that very moment, the veteran Jedi was pacing from one side of the freighter’s cargo hold to the other, occasionally rapping her metal hand against the walls out of frustration.

 

Figures. Should have guessed it, of course Stormhelm went off on his own. What were you thinking, Draygo? Bringing him to his home planet, setting down within a day’s walk of the old homestead, as though he wasn’t going to take the opportunity to say good-bye? You wanted this to happen. But… this isn’t Alderaan or Corellia or Gala. We’re Mid Rim. The nearest person may be a day away. Want to make the bet that the kath hounds are that distant? The kid’s tougher than he looks. He’s a teenager. So were you. He’s in training.  Half-trained.  Better than most with a blaster, and with a lightsaber--haven’t even gone through a Shii-Cho drill with him, for Force’s Sake!

 

Draygo picked up her face-shield, sprayed a mist of cleaning solvent, and began the task of cleaning the remains of dozens of surprised insects from the plastoid surface. Anything to keep her hands occupied.

 

“This is his future. He needs to face it, on his own. The boy is going to take his trials soon, if Alluyen will allow it--something is happening. Dammit…”

 

Draygo stared through the bulkheads. Sensation was always vague when shared over the tenuous link of a Force bond, but there was no mistaking the rush of adrenaline that surged through the nerves and caused the loose hairs on the back of her neck to stand on end. There was danger somewhere on the grassy sea--though she couldn’t determine whether the source was a sapient or a wild animal. Fear. Violence. Pain. Then finally resolution, and the wonderful mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion that left the body drained and the mind racing in the wake of a difficult fight.

 

Something had happened, and all she knew was that Genesis was still alive and not mortally wounded.

 

Draygo hefted the hollow hilt of her lightsaber and glared at the carcass of the Super Battle Droid that she had discarded in the middle of the deck. She pried into the armor of its torso with the Force and yanked back savagely; the carapace split apart like the shell of a boiled crustacean with a gout of congealed oil. The veteran Jedi stepped over the rusted carcass and glared into the mess of electronics; between the wiring, insulation, capacitors, and circuitry, there were components sufficient for at least a dozen lightsabers. The forearm blaster cannons could be salvaged for the magnetic stabilizing loops and focusing emitter matrix--and the contents of the coolant tanks could be scavenged for the compressed gas that the liquid cable launcher in the middle of the hilt would require.

 

Two hours later, the cargo hold of McShipface resembled a scene from a slasher holoflick, when the movie started getting good--at least, one marketed towards droids. The guts of the battle droid were splayed all over the deck plating and oil had oozed around its corpse in a shallow pool. And like the first victim of any decent slasher flick, it lay abandoned in the dimly lit cargo hold, its faceplate horrifically mangled and torso split open for an unfortunate onlooker to stumble upon. Draygo had taken its organs up to the workshops for assembly into something more useful.

 

Hunched over one of the workshop’s benches, the veteran Jedi turned over the remaining chunk of Genesis’ Pontite crystal in her metal fingers. It seemed a shame to destroy the rare gemstone for her focusing crystals when something as pedestrian as a diamond would have sufficed, and yet… Armiena could not quite seem to tear her eyes from the stone. It was not merely the way the vivaciously clear stone gathered the light--Armiena found herself quite unable to allow the stone to fall from her grasp.

 

She sighed. Whatever the Force intended, Draygo would have prefered it to make its will more crystal clear.

 

She placed the Pontite into a vice and thumbed on her cutting beam. Taking in a deep breath, Armiena inhaled the comforting smells of grease and rusted metal and dust, and lost herself in the electric soul of her workshop as she began…

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Walking up the ramp, I grabbed hold of the loading rail and let my exhausted form slid down onto the durasteel flooring as I rested, my gaze shifting out across Dantooine's savannah. There was almost a serene feeling flowing across me as I watched the first of it's sun rise above the distant plateaus as I caught my breath. It had been a long night, and despite still capable of mustering the energy to eat the last of my meager rations, I felt drained and tired. 

 

I could hear that Master Armiena had returned, but felt compelled to leave her to her tasks as I sat in silence, the memories of the night before and what led up to it still fresh in my mind. I had ran away from this world, determined to escape its grasp. And yet, here I was, a Jedi Padawan who walked it's grasslands once again and justly confronted the very thing that drove me away. I chuckled silently at the irony as I sat there, lost in those thought.

 

Before I knew it, my mind had given way to my exhaustion, and when Armiena would come to investigate the loud growling sounds, she would find me fast asleep, the growling sounds being my exhausted snoring.


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Immersed in her trance, Armiena’s workshop was a paradox in motion. The butchered carcass of a super battle droid was left hanging on chains, dripping lubrication on the floor in a resemblance of a side of nerf on a meat hook. Parts of McShipface were strewn about the deckplates, yet the veteran Jedi occasionally reached out a hand and the relevant coil of fiber or focusing lens or microchip came shooting into her palm without so much as a glance at the relevant component. Draygo’s hands were perpetually in motion, soldering superconducting fiber to capacitors and magnetic stabilizing loops and the ring tuning flange--but many of the manipulations were so subtle that her motions were invisible to the unaided eye.

 

Occasionally, she paused to sip from a mug of caf that somehow managed to remain steaming despite having dutifully sustained her for the last twelve hours.

 

Eventually, Draygo was left with two completely lightsaber hilts--complete for everything save the focusing crystals. Their finish was certainly the most utilitarian that she had ever designed--they were nothing more than exquisitely balanced cylinders of armor-grade durasteel, albeit fashioned with a powerful magnetic cap at the base. This secured them to a liquid cable launcher that Draygo had salvaged from McShipface’s toolbox and then modified far beyond safety recommendations by overcharging its compressed gas container. Finally came the focusing crystals. The shards of the Pontite were so delicate and so sharp that Armiena dared not handle them with her organic hand.

 

This she left to the Force.

 

Draygo had managed to slice away six serviceable crystals from the remains of the Pontite before the Force had warned her to stop cutting away at the rare gemstone. That was more than sufficient for her requirements--two would have been sufficient for each lightsaber. She surveyed the glassy fragments quizzically. The Force had guided her to cut away parts of the crystal that were of decidedly lesser quality, at least from a jeweler’s perspective. They were just slightly marred with microscopic inclusions of minerals. It was nothing that would have altered the behavior of the magnetically-charged beam--at least, she hoped--but likely would change the color of the emitted blade.

 

Very slowly, she lifted the razor-sharp shards of crystal with the Force and delicately positioned them to what her instincts guided her to what was the optimal angle within the microscopic prongs in their containment chamber. A microscopic adjustment tightened the crystals to a secure fit.

 

Armiena took a deep breath and another sip of coffee. By this point, it had gone cold. The horrid aftertaste went unnoticed.

 

The last step was a microfusing of all the components with the Force. Any handyman could create a facsimile of a lightsaber, but their weapon would be a flawed, imperfect imitation, prone to failure--perhaps kinetically so. At the very least, its energy usage would be so inefficient that it would drain within minutes of ignition. This final ritual would bind the components of the weapon to a degree that no common craftsman could replicate--they would be bound together on more than a mechanical level, a molecular joining that would transform the lightsaber from a mere assemblage of common electronic components to something that was truly more than the sum of its parts. But the binding would leave more than a physical imprint on the weapon, the change would be greater than the miraculous efficiency of the power circuits or the freakish survivability of the hilt. It would leave a trace on the lightsaber that could be tracked as closely as its wielder.

 

But that would mean declaring a commitment to this boy that Armiena had sworn to herself that she would never make again.

 

Armiena knew that she was not ready to complete his training. At best, his ascension to the rank of Jedi Knight would break her heart. At worst, it would cause nearly as much pain as the death of her last Padawan. She was not ready to endure that kind of pain again. And yet, she had decided to face it again.

 

For just a moment, her Force-presence blazed so brightly that it seemed she was screaming a battle cry. She poured all of that will, all of that determination and thrill and pain and hope and fear and all of her into those weapons, until all that was left to give were a few stray tears that fell on the hilts despite the fugue state of her trance.

 

And then it was done.

 

____

 

Armiena had decided to allow Genesis to sleep, at least for a few minutes. The Alderaanian tiredly stepped down from the boarding ramp of the Barloz-class freighter, still clutching her mug of coffee. Her newly-fashioned lightsaber swung idly from a magnetic clamp on her thigh. It was an awkward length, significantly longer than a traditional lightsaber but also slightly shorter than what was typical for a double blade.

 

She took a few steps out from under the angular bulk of the freighter and watched the twinkling of the stars for a few minutes. It was a quiet night, accompanied only by the endless chirping of insects and the queer warbling of a unfamiliar species of bird that sang only at smallest hours of the morning.

 

She took another sip of coffee and stared aghast at the murky brown liquid. It had gone cold hours ago.

 

But it was caffeinated. The horror could be endured, she decided.

 

She waited a few minutes, enjoying the occasional streak of a distant meteor against the star-studded sky, shivering occasionally as she forced down another gulp of bitter caffeine.

 

It was time to complete Genesis’ training. He was as skilled as any Jedi Knight she had known in the more esoteric uses of the Force--but his skill at defending himself was, as of yet, crude. A smile teased on her lips as she imagined the physical hell that the boy was about to endure. But she had endured this training before and would happily complete it again.

 

Armiena started by reaching out to his Force-presence on the ship and gave it a firm mental prodding. It had all the subtlety of slamming a stack of technical manuals onto the floor, and could not possibly be ignored.

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The realm of dreams was a tricky place to tread, especially for a Jedi Padawan like myself, a place where visions could plague the mind and become contorted and twisted, where dreams could feel like reality, and a place where serenity could become a nightmare. Like myself and my homeworld, me and the crystal which now resided in my lightsaber were not just connected, but conflicted as well, one side trying to overcome the will of the other, trying to find a balance of harmony as one. And even though I had found a semblance of it with the blade, the harmony had not completely taken.

 

Dreams of my past were usually hauntings in my sleep, memories of days past swirling in and out of my subconsciousness at times, causing me to constantly second guess myself. And I suppose, for someone like myself with the past that i had lived, it was an rare but normal occurrence. But the dream i had this day was unlike any I had ever had before. 

 

A figure stood before me, draped in a blackened robe, rain pouring off him like rivers of constant tears, his red hair shifting in the hollowed wind. His gaze shifted toward me, his white glazed eyes looking back at me with sadness in his heart as his turquoise saber sprang to life, illuminating his face.

 

I gasped, realizing the visage that I gazed upon was that of my own, a darkness in my heart and eyes that weren't eyes at all, but were bled crystals, void of life and connection, cut off from the very Force that once weilded them. I could see his, or rather, my mouth move. Yet no words came out or I could not hear them. I reached my hand out to him, trying to grasp at the fallen soul I saw before me, weeping in sorrow. But the farther I reached, the farther he, or I, became, until he blinked from existence completely and i stood alone.

 

Reaching up to wipe my tears, I noticed the color red upon my hands, and in a panicked haste, realized that I was covered in blood from head to toe. I screamed, calling my own name, but neither words nor sound escaped my own voice. And then blackness covered my sight, and I gazed once again on the figure, this time, seeing him just as I was, covered in blood that darkened the robes ever more. And once again, I gazed at his illuminated eyes, seeing the sorrow within.

 

And I woke, the feeling of being pulled from the dream by another presence, almost as if a hand had grabbed my psyche and dragged me from murky waters. And there, upon the grassy plains before me at the bottom of the ship's boarding ramp stood Master Armiena. Seeing her standing there, I smiled, pushing the dream back into my subconsciousness, and stood. "Forgive me Master. It's been an eventful week and it got to me."


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“And it continues,” his Master responded. It was a cloudless night and Dantooine’s twin moons were both full, but under the shelter of McShipface, Armiena was only visible by the flickering illumination of the freighter’s running lights. But that would soon change, and the black sky was beginning to turn grey at the horizon and the stars were beginning to turn in. “This day will be longer.”

 

The red running lights blinked at that moment, catching a glimpse of a grin that would have caused a Sith to reconsider their poor life choices. She took another slurping sip of caf and tossed the remainder on the grass beside the boarding ramp, mug and all.

 

She approached and held out a hand, indicating Genesis’ lightsaber. “May I?”

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The breeze was blowing gently across the plains, myself taking in the serenity that home seemed to present its self as this time around, even going as far as enjoying the moonlight as it shown the landscape. But Armiena's words confused me, this growing more frequently as of late. I could see the shimmer of her smile in between the pulsating flickers of illuminated crimson, the hair upon the back of my neck wanting to stand up as I did. But I pushed it from my mind, and as she approached, handed over my saber.

 

Like my writer had previously described, the saber was of the curved hilt variant, the casing forged from ultrachrome and held a leathered grip at the forefront that seamlessly fell beneath the casing. Inside held an internal switch that required the use of the Force to activate, and the crystal itself had been shaped into a orb that nearly mimicked Dantooine from space with the remaining shards used to align and focus the power input, and had insulated the entire innards to protect from electrical interference. But even as flawless as it was, it didn't seem to want to activate unless my will and it's own became one in my defense. Such is the imagination of my writer I suppose.

 

"Forgive the time it took to forge it." I sincerely spoke in regret, the overall process taking nearly six days and once I recovered from my exhaustion, a current endeavor still in process, I hadn't been able to present it until now. "What do you think Master Armiena?"


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Draygo turned the weapon over in her hands, feeling the center of gravity and admiring the craftsmanship. Her hand instinctively rested near the pommel cap and she forced her hand to shift--much of the offensive value of the curved hilt was a natural grip angled the blade more aggressively to an opponent, allowing for a dextrous swordsman to skewer or slash with the tip of the blade alone. 

 

“I think that it was time well spent. It’s a very nice piece of craftsmanship.” As Armiena’s grip shifted, she felt the entire hilt warming evenly in her palm. “Ultrachrome! That is a rancor of a material to work with! I hope you don’t mind, I’ve always wanted to…” What exactly the veteran Jedi had always wanted to experience would remain a mystery, as she attempted to ignite the blade.

 

The only sound was a click.

 

Armiena found herself reacting without thought. In some calculating corner of her mind, she knew that if the weapon was about to tear itself to pieces, then bits of shrapnel were likely to ricochet from the bottom of her ship’s hull and rain on top of them. Worse, the ship was likely to channel the kinetic blast of the compromised energy cells directly towards them, rather than a significant portion of the explosion harmlessly releasing itself into the night sky. While her ego was quietly forming a plan, however, her instincts as a soldier were shouting into her ear to GET GENESIS DOWN NOW.

 

She tossed away the weapon with the grace of someone dropping an excessively hot mug of caf. Before the hilt even hit the dewy grass, Armiena threw her own body on top of her apprentice’s and wrestled him to the ground, shielding him with her own. All that was left to do was to brace herself for the explosion of the failing weapon, and try to absorb as much of the bouncing steel and the wave of superheated plasma.

 

A handfuls of heartbeats passed without significant incident. Or without a whisper of warning from the Force.

 

The tension of her muscles relaxed as the perceived threat of imminent peril faded. Draygo sighed, even as she was still staring warily in the direction of the discarded weapon. 

 

“...you installed an internal deadman switch, didn’t you?”

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A sense of pride began to swell within me as praise from Master Armiena reached the lobes of my ears and resounded throughout the encased drums of my middle ear. Especially at her amazement with the Ultrachrome hilt, though truth be told, I had taken it from the ship's forward cockpit looming above. But lost in all that pride and praise, I failed to mention one thing, and it was due to that, that what happened next could have been avoided.

 

I felt the weight of her form connect with mine before my attention drew to what was happening, her pause in her speech and throwing of my blade causing my gaze to follow with confusion and a blank train of thought that followed. Before my mind even had a chance to draw anything together, she was atop me, squeezing me with her own form and my head aching from its brief but firm connection with the earthen soil beneath us.

 

In the moments that followed as my mind began to rather its thoughts both from the confusion and the brief blow, I noticed that though her form was frail in outer appearence, it was muscular and strong. And despite that neither of us had hit the refresher in quite some time now, her sweaty scent held an almost flowery essence in its trail. After a few more moments passed, I felt her form ease and she rose to looked at my blade, my gaze looking at her differently than I had before.

 

Yes, I was a boy. But it wasn't that. Even as her questioned slipped out her lips, I realized how long it had been since I felt another's embrace, let alone one from a female. And in truth, it felt warm and comfortable, and in that brief second, part of me wanted it to continue, if only to remember the similar embrace of my mother's, the embrace of one who chose to protect their child with everything they were. And in that moment, a tear streamed down unnoticed until I felt it begin to roll down my cheek.

 

Rising from the ground, I wiped it away and gazed in the direction of my blade. With a chuckle and a smirk, I spoke. "I installed a internal switch to prevent just anyone being able to activate it. It just felt right that a weapon of such power should have one, even if it was meant to protect lives by taking them."


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“Not a bad idea. Most people have the sense to leave it be, but occasionally…”

 

Draygo clambered to her feet and brushed dust from her hands as she stepped away from her Padawan. Almost as an afterthought, she yanked her own lightsaber from its clip and ignited the blade. With a snap-hiss fit to end all conversation, a turquoise beam erupted from the machined cylinder and incinerated a stalk of wildflowers. Then she ignited the other end. Pale-green eyes studied the hilt for a few seconds--the balance of the cylinder lay just a tiny bit forward from center, and the required to depress the ignition was just a little more than she preferred. That stemmed from scavenged parts that she had cobbled it together from.

 

There was one last feature to test. She extinguished the blade and depressed a button near the center of the hilt. With a blast of compressed gas and a sharp recoil, the forward half of the hilt rocketed forward, connected to its twin by only a thin thread of liquid cable. She released the button once it reached ten meters. A second press retracted the liquid cable, causing the twin hilts to join back together with a sharp metallic clack.

 

She couldn’t help but grin. Armiena had created what was possibly the first set of lightchucks in the history of the Jedi Order.

 

“Padawan, we’re nearing the end of your training. There’s still so much left to teach you, but… a war will be waiting for us once we leave this planet. We need to be ready.” She glanced towards the rising sun. Dew began to glisten on the grass. It would be a warm day, and a humid one at that. The recent thunderstorm was to thank for that. She calculated… it would be a few hours before they had to pause, even just for water. “The more you sweat, the less you’ll bleed. Follow.”

 

Draygo set off at a brisk walk across the plains. A few minutes later, she began to jog. As the gentle curve of the plains rolled up and down under their boots, it would become clear that Armiena had no location in mind. Their only destination was pain.

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I nudged my head in a slight thankful bow as she praised my considerate thought and climbed upon my feet as she rose off me, dusting the wet grass from the general area I could reach, and with a quick thought, reach my hand and my mind out with the Force, urging my saber back to me, careful not to beacon the ignition switch in the process. Until it became second nature, I would have to be careful with it, and that could very well take awhile given my previous stance upon wielding one in the first place.

 

As I clipped it upon my belt, I gazed upon her own as she showed it. At first glance as she ignited one blade after the other, I pondered the aspects of her wielding a double bladed lightsaber, as in truth, it seemed to fit her. But as the expulsion of gas and blade tethered to liquid cable snapped my attention and nearly stopped my heart, I found myself quite mesmerized by her ingenuity. There was nothing like it in the archives I had studied nor was it listed in what I had downloaded onto my datapad for ideas and study. 

 

I had heard tales of her prowess with both combat and machines alike, most notably her inventiveness with the wolfspiders used in previous wars. But this, seeing it in action, removed any doubt I may have previously held. But as she spoke, I returned to reality and my mind grew briefly dim.

 

War. It wasn't a term I had came to terms with yet. At least not fully. I saw first hand what it wrought to Coruscant, the devastation, the chaos, and in truth, it was what pushed me to fully commit to my choice of following the Jedi's path. But I had only seen it, not experienced it like she had. And part of me doubted that I would ever know the experience with it that she truly understood. Especially with the real world of my writer being plagued by a pandemic known as COVID-19 that was running rampant like wildfire across his globe. If only he could escape it into our world, perhaps he could avoid his own reality. But that wasn't possible.

 

With a nod as Armiena took off, I quickly followed in suit. It was time for my training to become rigorous, this i knew. So i kept pace, letting my lungs expand to match, pacing myself. But after a few minutes, the brisk walk turned into a jog, my pacing hastening behind her. I could not tell where she was leading me, but i had come to trust her. Where she led me, i would surely follow.


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The sun rose and cast the grassland ocean in golden light. The dew evaporated with the sunrise, and meager moisture along with the lingering pools from the recent storm gave rise to an intensely warm and humid morning.

 

Somewhere in the galaxy, there was an obscure sect of Force Users known as the Matukai. During the days of the ancient Republic, they coexisted peacefully with the Jedi Order, though the nomadic Matukai never developed the hierarchical structure and organized headquarters that the Jedi did. Unusually for a Force sect, the Matukai developed a philosophy that encouraged meditative martial arts and physical training to develop a weak connection to the Force into something stronger. Draygo had never trained under one of their masters; she had never even come closer than one light-year to meeting any of their followers, but she found their teachings and their techniques intriguing nonetheless.

 

What this meant for Genesis, at this moment, was that the half-Miraluka boy was going to get his ass kicked. And then Armiena would help build his body back up, only to break it back down. Repeat as necessary.

 

Over the next two hours, Draygo led him away from the shelter of McShipface. She scarcely gave him more than a few seconds to breathe at a time--any moment not spent running from the ship was used pushing Dantooine and other calisthenics.

 

In between her panting as they traversed another kilometer, she breathed out her instructions. “You’ve seen what the Force can do for someone barely alive. You have rebuilt them. Now, see what it can do for something healthy. The Force can make you better than you are. Better… stronger… faster.” With that, Draygo drew the Force into her muscles. The effect was that she appeared to blast off across the plains, leaving a trail of pulverized grass and scattered wildflowers in her wake. The Jedi Master had just spanned the distance of more than a kilometer in seconds.

 

Armiena would not rest while waiting for her Padawan to join her. When he finally joined her, he would find his master had discarded her cloak and was shadowboxing under the sun. With a shit-eating grin on her face, she bobbed and danced around an imaginary opponent while breaking their ribs and reducing their kidneys to mash.

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As we jogged across the grassy plains of my homeworld, I gazed upon it in a different light. No longer did it feel dark and gloomy, nor did it feel oppressive and prisoning. No. Today I gazed upon the first healthy view of its humid sunlight with joy and excitement. As if I had faced my darkened past and come out of it rejuvenated with an entire new outlook upon it. For it was home, and home had always been where my heart truly laid.

 

Where Armiena was uncomfortable and dreaded, I was complacent and found enjoyment. But then again, I grew up on this world, and was accustomed to its weather all year round. I grew up facing its elements with very little protection. But not was all as it seemed, her voice trailing behind her and catching my ears with techniques I did not know. I watched in awe as she quickly sped away and nearly out of sight with only her words echoing in my mind.

 

Pushing myself harder to try and play catch up, my mind wondered on her words. Better? Stronger? Faster? I knew I saw the Force work upon the displaced Citizens I worked on back on Borleias. But how could I apply such a technique on a healthy living person? Closing my eyes, I turned inward into my own body, flowing the rapid beating of my heart, the pumping and flowing of the blood and cells within me, and expanding and falling of my lungs.

 

That was when it hit me. Like my using the Force to heal those on Borleias by hastening their natural healing, I could do something similar with my own form. But I had to be careful, as it was a fine line to walk. I could increase the oxygen flow from to blood and cells to my muscles, increasing their own dexterity, but too much could cause me to faint just as too little would. And hastening my heart to match could leading to even more dangerous scenarios. I could see what she meant, but I had to focus and apply the right amount to each addition, balancing it over all to match perfectly, making sure not to overdo it.

 

And so i attempted to try, slightly altering the flow of my blood to spread up the dispersal of the oxygen to my muscles while simultaneously increasing the intake of the oxygen through my lungs and the rate of my heart ever so slightly so that i wouldnt overload my system and cause my body to exhaust too quickly. And before i knew it, i was doing it, my gaze falling upon her as i began to quickly catch up.

 

Only one problem. Now that i was doing it, how could i stop as i grew closer and closer? My mind briefly flew into a panic as i tried to stop myself, but before i knew it, i had tripped on my own two feet and came rolling past her as i past her now stopped form. Yeah. I would need a little more practice.


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To use the words of a long-dead Socorran pugilist, Draygo floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. She bobbed and slipped under imaginary blows to her head, pounced backward twice to evade a vicious slash to her midsection, then leaped forward and drove her elbow into the wrist of her imagined assailant. In the event that that blow wasn’t enough to disarm her opponent, the veteran Jedi pressed her advantage, carrying her momentum into a spin that penetrated deep into their guard. That spin ended with a blow from the hilt of her lightsaber into the temple of her opponent.

 

The next sound that she heard was her unknown assailant tumbling to the ground in a pile of robes and the rustle of trampled grass. If a mild brain injury wasn’t sufficient to end the fight, seeing the blade emitter aimed squarely at their heart would have made a stronger argument to cease the struggle.

 

But the shadow that she was boxing only existed in her mind, and the rustle of trampled grasses and muffled grunt of pain came from her apprentice. Armiena strolled over and offered her hand. “Control will come with experience. Until then, bruises,” was the Alderaanian’s only comment as she helped her Padawan to his feet. At this point, the rising sun was nearing its zenith and the plains would soon be baking under the summer heat. Heat stroke would serve neither of them, Draygo decided, not when she intended to subject the boy to a training regimen that would have satisfied many a Rebel Drill Sergeant.

 

“Back to the ship.” With only those words, Armiena sped off again and abandoned both her cloak and her apprentice until the latter could catch up. Holding a Force-assisted sprint over the distance of kilometers was significantly more challenging than a momentary boost of speed, and the veteran Jedi found herself sinking into a tunnel vision to avoid focusing on the physical exhaustion. Draygo cut her Force-assisted sprint at the last moment and channeled the power into a leap that carried the veteran Jedi onto the top of the Barloz-class freighter. Under the afternoon sun, the dorsal hull of McShipface was scorching to the touch and the surface gleamed with a glare that was almost blinding when caught at an unfortunate angle. 

 

Armiena drew her lightsaber. Her legs burning from the exertion, Armiena just breathed and waited for her Padawan to return.

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As I took Master Armiena's hand up, I nodded my thanks and dusted the now drying grass and dust from my form, taking in the breaths that refilled my lungs after the wind was literally knocked out of me. By now the Sun was beginning to glare down on us, and despite my having grew adapted to this world and its environment, even I could feel the heat of the day beginning to come on in its opening. Wiping a bead of sweat beginning to form on my brow, I watched as Master Armiena chugged off in the direction we came from, shaking my head, my mind trying to wrap my head around the purpose.

 

Grabbing her robes, I took off behind her, using the same mentality I used before, concentrating the flow of the Force through me to balance and enhance my speed. But as I did, I kept watching her own form slowly beginning to fade into the distance as my form began to hinder and fault to my inexperience. I could feel the burning of my muscles even over the heat that was beaming down on me, could feel the exhaustion of my lungs as my breathing attempting to keep up with my exertion. But this was new to me, and my body held a long way to become used to it. Especially the last leg of it, my mind praying to see her or the ship before I gave into the need to simply lay down and rest.

 

When I finally did arrive at the ship, still at a faster pace than my usual full run, my exhaustion was self evident as I buckled again, albeit this time simple onto my stomach before I rolled over in an attempt to catch my breath as I looked up at Master Armiena atop McShipface as I waved her robes and held up my pointer finger, indicating that I needed just a moment. And as I played there basking in the sun, more than just a moment past as I finally struggled to rise and took a breath so deep that I weaved and my head felt light.

 

I exhaled, beginning to feel my form regain some semblance of strength as I unclipped my lightsaber and ignited it in turn, feeling my next lesson delved into its use. Placing my free hand over my eyes as I glared up to her, keeping the glaring sun from my eyes, I poised a simple question. "How do you expect me to get up there, Master?"


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