Trials of Knighthood
Dantooine: Jedi Enclave: Council Member Meeting Room
"So, it has finally come to this," a harsh, dusty sounding voice said. The speaker, a bluish shimmering image of a human male of a venerable age, hovered motionless over the holocron projector that held the essence of what was left of him. His form was the only light here, casting a bluish glow before him that was not restricted by any corners of darkness in the circular room. "It is time the three of you begin your last quest as padawans, and take your first step in becoming full fledged Jedi Knights." He looked at each of the three figures kneeling in front of him, "I can't say you were the best of pupils...in fact, you were among the ones I had deemed as incompetent," he paused, "but, the masters have voted, and you now have a final chance to change my opinion. Go. Construct your own lightsabers. Use what you have learned, and be mindful of your surroundings. Go now."
One of the padawans stirred, "Master Vrook?"
The blue, shimmering Vrook sighed, "I thought I had dismissed you."
The padawan hesitated, then, regaining his composure, continued, "Where are we supposed to start? Where are we supposed to go?"
"Did you learn nothing in your lessons? Did you decide to take little cat naps instead? Let the Force guide you--all of you! Now go!"
All three padawans stood, bowed, and in unison said, "May the Force be—"
"I SAID GO," Vrook cut them off, and three sets of feet scrambled for the door.
"You were a bit harsh on them, don’t you think?" came a voice from the darkness behind the flickering image of Master Vrook.
"I concur," hissed another.
"Master Vrook has been at this longer than any of us," a third voice muttered, "past his own time, even. He knows what he is doing."
"I believe they needed a good deflation of their craniums. The archives state a need for humility and modesty; traits which these younger padawans have completely disregarded, along with many other restrictions instated by our ancestors," exclaimed another.
As the last of them entered the room, Vrook spoke up, "whether we agree on my methods of teaching or not is irrelevant. In the end comes the same conclusion; we need more active Jedi here at the Enclave, and the only way we can do that is by knighting more apprentices; whether or not they are fully ready. That is why I am harsh to them Master Vrash, and that, Master Kantus, is why I continue to knight them, humble or not."
The other masters murmured among themselves for a bit, then one spoke, "Masssster," she hissed, "you sssaid thessse onesss you jussst sssent out were incompetent…do you really expect them to accomplish their appointed tasssk?"
“And what of their trials? You didn't mention those to them during their briefing. The three trials are a necessary part to becoming a Knight.
Master Vrook's holographic image turned its translucent head towards the hooded figures gathered beside him, "They'll have to accomplish the task at hand. If they don't, reassessment of their abilities will be the only option left. As for their trials, the Force has forewarned me not to interfere with their futures. What befalls them will truly make or break them as Jedi. You all will speak nothing of this to the young ones. They must forge their own path with only the Force to guide them."
Dantooine: Outside the Jedi Council Chambers
The three padawans walked briskly from the Council Chambers, not wanting to stir up any more trouble for themselves after their less than pleasant meeting with the masters. They waited until they were well on their way to their quarters to begin speaking, and even then, it was in a low whisper.
"You probably shouldn’t have spoken up Coram. I don’t think Master Vrook appreciated it," Nokturne, a young Gen'dai padawan, said.
The Cathar walking beside him threw up his arms in defeat, "But he was so vague; the question begged to be asked! And did you catch that cat joke? He told a cat joke! Can you believe that?"
The third padawan, a rare silicon based lifeform known as a Shard, laughed a mechanical, monotone laugh, "I was stifling my own laughter personally, even though you made a valid point. I mean, with such a vague directive, I'm not really sure where to start."
The three of them conceded to packing up what little possessions they had, and taking them to the hangar, where they would then decide exactly where they should go. As they walked through the busy halls and corridors full of younglings, knights, and fellow padawans, Coram contemplated on how strange they must seem to the much larger human population at the Enclave. He wasn't very worried about himself, considering there had been several Cathar there as well, but looking at his companions—Bit, a tiny Force-sensitive “living crystal” installed a looming CLTCH-series droid body, and Nokturne, a Gen'dai that was all one big bundle of nerves and sinew—they were a rather odd trio.
“So then where do we go from here?” Nokturne asked, the long, intertwined tendrils that passed for fingers and hands fiddling with the bland training saber at his waist, “We cannot exactly just head for space and then decide where to start our journey.”
Coram remained silent, pondering the question at hand “There's always the archives!” Bit said, his metallic voice brimming with excitement at the thought of delving into the vast stores of data.
“We don't have time for that,” Coram said, giving an exhasperated sigh, “We need to prove to the council that we can do this, and that we can do it fast. Think of how great it would be if we completed our sabers in record time? Knighthood would be ours for sure!”
“But we don't even know where to go to get the parts!” Argued Bit, causing Coram's fur to bristle and bare his teeth a bit. Unfortunately, the sentient rock had a point. Where would they even begin to start?
“Perhaps we could ask someone with experience. Someone who would be willing to help us rather than berate us, that is.”
Coram and Bit both turned to look at the quiet Gen'dai, “That's a great idea, Nokturne!” exclaimed Coram, slapping the mass of sinew on the back. Bit, beside him, nodded enthusiastically.
“We could ask Master Vrash about it. He is assistant archivist here on the enclave, and he's always been helpful with projects that required extensive research,” replied Bit hopefully, the prospects of getting to go to the archives anyway written all over his droid face. Coram winced, but nodded. Having spent most of his life with the Shard made it easy to tell when Bit was feeling some emotion, even with his expressionless visage.
The three of them moved quickly down the main hall, trying not to draw any extra attention to themselves as they wheeled around a pillar to the Archives Wing.
The Archives themselves weren't much to look at. The few stacks of datacards, and the six outdated com-terminals were hardly a shadow of the grandiose Jedi Archives on Coruscant. However, being near to the far edge of the Outer Rim made such resources scarce, and the Dantooine Enclave was lucky to have this.
But to Bit, this was a haven within the temple. Data and streams of information came naturally to a being who had spent his entire life living in a droid, and so he had made the Archives his place of personal meditation. It was through his many trips here that he had met the man now seated at one of the terminals.
Jedi Master Vrash, a middle-aged human with smooth brown hair tied back and sharp features, was not only the assistant archivist, but also was on the Jedi Council here at the Enclave. As Bit and the others walked up, he was busy typing away at the terminal, a large stack of datacards on the desk next to him. He looked up from his work as the Bit, Coram, and Nokturne entered the main rotunda of the archives wing, doing their best to keep hushed.
“Bit, welcome!” Vrash said with a smile, standing to greet the three Padawans. “And you've dragged Coram and Nokturne with you, I see,” he continued in a loud, cheerful voice that shattered the stereotypical tranquility of such a place.
All three Padawans bowed in unison, then Bit reached forward and shook Master Vrash's hand, “Sir, I apologize for interrupting your research, but I was wondering if you could help us with a query of sorts.”
“Another research project for your studies?” Vrash asked, turning back to his terminal and stooping to ready a search of the Archives data.
“Well, it's less of a project...” Bit started hesitantly.
“We have been tasked to construct our first lightsabers by Master Vrook.” Coram blurted, cutting to the point. “We need help, and fast. We have to get going soon!”
“Ah,” Vrash said with a wistful look, “Your very first lightsabers.” He turned back to his terminal and began to type feverishly. Suddenly, the lights dimmed, and a blue holographic image of a lightsaber blossomed from the terminal's projector. “You all must be curious what you need to do, then,” He said, watching the thre young Jedi as they stared intently at the rotating hologram.
Master Vrash tapped a key, and the lightsaber display froze, then disassembled itself; exploding into its various parts, and filling the room with the larger-than-life components. “Now I know you all paid close attention in your Lightsaber Sequencing and Assembly class, correct?” The Master asked. Bit nodded enthusiastically, but noticed that his comrades nonchalantly avoided Master Vrash's gaze.
Master Vrash seemed to notice as well, “Well, in any case,” he continued with a sigh, “I'll go over the basics of what you'll need to find offworld; those components with enough rarity and significance to require such a journey.”
With another tapped key, the holographic components faded away until only three remained. “The three most important pieces are the emitter, which actually releases the energy beam from the hilt, the emitter lens, which focuses the energy into a beam, and the focusing crystal; the heart of the lightsaber. Each of these are absolutely necessary in constructing your lightsabers, and you may have to exercise quite a bit of patience when searching for potential candidates for your lightsaber.”
Once again, Coram's impatience got the better of him, “We appreciate the lesson,” he started with a short bow, “but we need to know where to find these parts. Otherwise we'll just be running around the galaxy like lost gizka on a starship.”
Bit nodded, knowing that Coram had hit on their biggest dilemma. None of them had any experience in knowing exactly where to look. He had hoped Master Vrash would shed some light on where they could start.
The Jedi Master chuckled as he stroked his beard. He sat staring at the three of them intently for quite a while; looking from one Padawan to the other. Bit was just about to say something before Coram did the same when Vrash finally spoke up.
“I cannot tell you three everything about this and ruin your journey,” he paused with a wry smile, “but, I know the markets on Nar Shadda are renowned for their variety of rare artifacts and other 'specialty items'.”
At this, Bit's mood brightened until he was sure his photoreceptors beamed. Coram and Nokturne seemed just as enthused by the Jedi's hint. The three of them turned and sped out the door with a fleeting thanks from Bit before they were gone, leaving the Jedi Master with a knowing smile on his face.
After the encouraging talk in the Archives, the three Padawans were on a roll, and quickly resumed heading to the hangars to be assigned a ship. They entered the hangar, walking through a sound barrier door into the cacophony of noises that accompanied the Enclave's Transport Wing, and went to the entrance terminal.
The terminal's technician, a bored-looking twi'lek, handed them a sign-out sheet and a starship owner's transponder, explaining that the Enclave was short on both manpower and vessels, and directed them to a docking garage at the far end of the wing. Nokturne thanked him, and the three proceeded to what would be their new home.
“It's called the Dusty Gizka,” Bit said with the droid equivalent of a chuckle.
“That sounds somewhat foreboding,” replied Nokturne, shaking his head.
Past the larger berthing garages of the hanger, the scenery began to get more and more dingy and unkempt as they continued. Flood lamps fizzled, and long forgotten or broken tools lay scattered on the floor. Finally, almost at the very end of the hangar, they arrived at the large security doors that led to the Dusty Gizka's dock. Bit waved the transponder in front of the security panel, and with a struggle the old doors parted, allowing the natural sunlight from the dock's open ceiling flood into the hangar. Peering against the sunlight, they saw the ship, an old DuraBuilt-class starbarge. The dust that covered and surrounded the rusty ship glowed in the light, almost as if to emphasize the age of it.
“What a piece of junk!” Coram roared, stepping into the hangar and shaking off the dust that was already collecting on his fur.
Nokturne moved to the side of the ship and brushed away a thick layer of dust, revealing a comical rendition of a coughing gizka surrounded by billowing clouds of dust. The ship's name was emblazoned in faded red letters underneath.
“At least someone had a sense of humor,” Bit observed as he and Coram made their way to Nokturne.
“Well we shouldn't be needing her for long, thankfully,” said Coram.
“And it's not like anybody will want to steal it while on Nar Shadda,” Nokturne chimed in.
After prying the ship's boarding ramp out of it's housing, and several more minutes devoted to Coram hotwiring the ship to start, the three Padawans set for open space, and Nar Shadda. With Bit at the controls, they all watched as the stars stretched into lines, and finally, their journey had begun.