solo_sword: (suspicious)
solo_sword ([personal profile] solo_sword) wrote2016-09-26 08:01 am

Shedu Maad- Monday

Jaina had mixed feelings about being here. She spent most of her time on Coruscant, where the Council was still based, but after the Sith invasion of Coruscant last year they'd kept most of the training happening at the Jedi Academy on Shedu Maad. They still maintained that it was only a temporary school, but it seemed less and less likely that that was true. It did give a better setting for some training exercises like this one.

A sixteen-year-old catlike Togorian named Bhixen was springing from log to log, lightsaber in hand, trying to get around while protecting an egg in his other hand. He had people pursuing him, but he didn't waste time in dispatching them safely to continue on his path, to the sniper's nest from where Jag was shooting at him. That was how the Jedi rolled.

"His combat skills are impressive," Jaina noted from where a group of Masters was standing to watch. She didn't say things like that unless she meant it, too. "There's no doubt of that."

"There certainly isn't," Corran agreed. "In fact, I'd say that Bhixen is as good as you were at that age, Master Solo."

"He is," Luke said. "And he knows it."

Well, Jaina thought, she'd known it back then too. And that was before she started getting scary with the training regimen she'd kept going for twenty years.

From behind them came Seha, who didn't even have a chance to speak before Luke said, "Excellent timing, Jedi Dorvald." He took his blaster and handed it to her. "Take my sidearm and shoot the egg out of Candidate Bhixen's hand."

Seha paused. "Uh, Master Skywalker, I have an urgent message-"

"No, Jedi Dorvald. And make sure the candidate sees you."

"Very well," Seha said, accepting the blaster. "But, Master Skywalker, this weapon's power selector is set to-"

"Open fire," Luke said, "and make it convincing."

Seha stepped two paces away, and began to fire at Bhixen. Or maybe she was firing at the egg. She wasn't actually very good at shooting, and it said something for the Togorian's skills that no one seemed worried about his safety. And while he seemed surprised, he found himself a tree trunk to hide behind for the moment to see what was happening. When he saw it was Seha, Jaina could feel his outrage through the Force. He dropped the egg on a soft patch of ground where it'd be safe, and used his lightsaber to deflect the bolts so quickly that Luke had to pull Seha out of the line of fire. And then Bhixen deliberately sent a bolt towards the Masters, which Luke stopped by bringing up his hand and holding the bolt there.

"Stand down!" Luke called, and summoned the egg to his hand. "The exercise is over."

Kam Solusar, who again was in charge of the academy along with Tionne, took the egg. "Bhixen's pride has always been his greatest weakness," he told the other Masters. "I fear his skill only contributes to it."

"There is a darkness inside of him," said Luke. "And the days are gone when the Jedi can afford to train their own enemies."

"So, dismissal?" Tionne asked. Everyone had been asking the same question in their heads.

Corran shook his head. "I think that would be premature. The Sith are still out there, and someday they will show themselves again."

"And when hey do, we're going to need superb fighters like Candidate Bhixen," Jaina said. "Plenty of them."

"So we lower our standards?" asked Kam. "We don't dare- not when we might be creating the next Sith lord."

"Kam, that's not fair to Bhixen," Corran countered. "He's still a youngling. Mistakes are to be expected."

"Mistakes, yes. But faults in character? No," Luke said.

Jaina frowned. "It's hard to know the difference at Bhixen's age. Character isn't merely genetic. It's built through experience. I was pulling that same kind of stunt two years ago." Sorry, Jag.

"And it's built through instruction," Corran added. "If a candidate isn't ready, we mustn't advance him. But does that mean our only alternative is dismissal? Because if it does, we are the ones who have failed."

Luke fell silent, considering it. Jaina was glad he was thinking about it, too; a few years ago he might've thought he was right and that was it. But not everyone who fell to the dark side out of pride. Jaina had done it for revenge, for instance. Zekk had fallen because, actually, he'd felt dismissed. They were proof that you could pull onto the right track with the right training.

"You're right, Master Horn," Luke finally said, and motioned Bhixen to approach. "After bringing him this far, we should not give up easily."

Bhixen was definitely anxious but trying not to show it, and he was not about to admit he'd made any mistakes. Luke stopped him a little bit away, and said, "Candidate Bhixen, that was an impressive performance. Do you think you're ready to become Master Solo's apprentice?"

"I don't think so," Bhixen said, perking up and looking at Jaina. "I know so. I'll make you proud, Master Solo."

"Not so fast," Jaina replied. "Grand Master Skywalker asked if you were ready to become my apprentice. He didn't say if he thought so. And I haven't said I think so, either."

He looked confused, glancing from her to Luke, to the intact egg. "Was my test not successful?"

"To the contrary," Luke told him. "It was very successful. We learned a great deal about your weaknesses."

"My weaknesses?"

"You lost your temper."

"But Jedi Dorvald wasn't part of the exercise!" Bhixen protested. "You cheated!"

"And your enemies won't?" Luke pointed out. "The greatest danger a Jedi faces is not injury or death, or even failure. It's what he feels inside- his pride, his fear, his anger. His emotions are what feeds the dark side."

Bhixen's face fell as he watched the Masters. "Then you're dismissing me?"

Luke watched him right back, probably waiting to see what he would do. But Bhixen waited for an answer. "We're not ready to advance you, but whether you leave or start again depends on you."

"Start again?"

"As though you had just arrived at the Academy," Luke explained. "Whatever you did not learn before, you must learn now. We won't give you a third chance."

"Of course," Bhixen said, dropping his gaze. "If that is what you wish."

"No, Bhixen," Jaina said. "If that is what you wish. Do you truly want to do that? To start over from the beginning? Think hard."

He did, staring at her as if he was trying to figure out a trick question, until he realized there was none. "I understand," he said finally. "I have too much pride."

"That's right," Luke said. "And your pride is the great weakness in your defenses."

"I agree." Bhixen turned his lightsaber around to offer it to Luke. "And I want to start over."

"Good," Luke said, taking the lightsaber. "Now return this egg to the nest, and report to the quartermaster droid for reassignment to a berth in the novice barracks."

Bhixen obeyed, even stopping to check on the apprentices he'd had to stop as part of the exercise, and Jaina was actually glad he did what he did. On one hand, now that she wasn't trapped in the wrong universe anymore, she and Jag would have liked to get around to starting a family, which didn't jive so well with taking on a new apprentice. Not that she was going to tell anyone that, because she didn't want her family meddling in that personal a decision quite yet. But at the same time, she watched Bhixen and thought that she might know how to teach him. She'd never been good at not letting her emotions interfere, but had learned how to use them in a positive way. And really, she could do with a good challenge. Hopefully he'd go through his training and they could revisit this.

And maybe it'd give Jaina a little time herself.

Jag, shouldering his weapon, came out of his sniper's nest and stopped at the edge of the group. "Nice shooting, Jedi Dorvald," he said. "I haven't seen many marksmen who couldn't fired that many pistol bolts at an evading target and still avoided the egg."

Seha flushed. "Thank you, Commander. But my orders were to hit the egg."

"You came close enough," Luke assured her. "Didn't you say you had a message for us?"

"I did," Seha said, and pulled a datapad from her belt. "The Solos have gotten into some trouble at their rendezvous."

Somehow Jaina was not shocked.

"The Solos?" Corran repeated. "Weren't they going to the Chiloon Rift?"

"That's right," Jaina answered. "Lando asked them to investigate a pirate ring that's been causing problems there lately. Why do you ask?"

"Because Jedi Soroc is in the Chiloon Rift, and she hasn't checked in for a month," he said. Jedi Soroc had been one of those dispatched to find Mortis after the Abeloth problem, so her disappearing was probably not a good sign. "We've already diverted Ben and Tahiri to investigate, but it wouldn't hurt to ask your parents to keep an eye out for her."

"Sure, if we can reach them. From what Lando says, communications in the Rift are tricky."

"Well, since Han and Leia managed to get a message to us, let's see what they say."

Seha played the message, which was bumpy and grainy and consisted of Han telling them about their latest run-in with the pirates, called Nargons, who may or may not have been natural based on the dismembered metal arm Han insisted on waving around while he talked. They needed a report on what was going on, and thanks to the communications issues, they'd need someone to tell them in person.

When the message ended, Luke passed the datapad back to Seha. "Ask Master Cilghal to give me her thoughts on these Nargons, and have a research team start an analysis on Galactic Exploitation Technologies. Then have the Jade Shadow prepped for travel."

"The Shadow?" Jaina noted, cocking an eyebrow. "Are you planning to take this assignment yourself?"

"You don't think I can handle a courier mission?" Luke asked. "Or a few pirates?"

Jaina rolled her eyes. "You know better than that."

Luke did leave from time to time, mostly for small, diplomatic type things. But ever since the wound he'd gotten at the tentacled hands of Abeloth, he hadn't been up to the heavy stuff. And even as someone who'd fought through literally every injury she'd ever had, Jaina had been there when he'd gotten that wound and she never wanted to live through that particular experience again.

"I'm fine," Luke said shortly. "You know the wound only bothers me when I have a Force vision. I doubt that will be required."

"Which raises the question of why you need to go," said Corran. "Courier runs are the kind of mission we assign to a new Knight, not the Grand Master of the Order."

"Usually, yes. But with the passage of the Neutrality Act, I doubt Senator Wuul will agree to meet with just any Jedi."

"You're going to ask Luewet Wuul for a briefing?"

"Of course. He chairs the mineral committee. If anyone can tell us what isn't public knowledge about Galactic Exploitation Technologies, it's him."

Jaina snorted. "But will he? He could be accused of treason for even talking with a Jedi."

It was an exaggeration. But things since the Sith invasion had not been great between the Galactic Alliance and Jedi. Apparently they were back to the down part of the cycle they kept going through in the public's opinion.

"That's why I plan to speak with Wuul personally," Luke said. "He'll need to know we're not asking this favor lightly, so I think it should be me."

"Is this because your son is going to be in the Chiloon Rift and you haven't seen him in months?" Jaina asked.

"It would be nice to see Ben, that's true," he admitted. "But there's another, more important reason."

The Masters all frowned, trying to figure that out, but it was Jag who said, "Because you've been stuck recuperating for too long, and you need to get out of here before we drive you crazy."

Luke actually smiled. "Exactly. Sometimes, Commander Fel, I swear you do have the Force."

[Last book of canon! Taken from Crucible by Troy Denning. NFB, NFI, OOC okay.]