Master and Apprentice

Posted on Sat May 22nd, 2021 @ 9:41pm by Master Deakon Iersa & Knight Sice Isatu

Episode: Episode I: Rise of the Sith
Location: Various
Timeline: Day 1 at 2150

Tap Tap Tap. Tap Tap Tap. Tap Tap Tap. Tap Tap Tap.

The rather irritating sound of Sice Isatu absentmindedly drumming her fingers on the tabletop in front of her was beginning to get to even the calmest of individuals in the living area of the Transport they were travelling in.

“Do you have to do that?”

Realising she was being spoken to, the 9-year-old Noobian sat up from her slumped position and offered an apologetic smile to one of her clanmates. They had all spent several weeks preparing for this very moment, and she was more than a little anxious, despite the teachings of the master’s at the Temple. They had undergone many challenges in their formative years, but today's were the last they would undertake as a clan.

“We’ll drop out of hyperspace soon,” the distinctive voice of Grand Master Kodesh Bomesha spoke as he hobbled into the seating area where the clan were waiting for their adventure. “On Ilum, your challenge awaits. Top of your class, you are and so now is the time of The Gathering,” their Master revealed. “There is no greater challenge or honor for a Jedi.”

“Master? What is the gathering?” a young Corellian enquired, looking over at the small Rhodian.

“The time has come for you to construct your own lightsabers,” the Grand Master confirmed as the Younglings present began to cheer.

Beside Master Kodesh Bomesha, another Master of the order stood, watching the Padawan’s with great interest as they listened to his old Master. Of course, at over 600 years old, Kodesh Bomesha had been Master to virtually every Jedi alive at one point or another. Eventually, this other Jedi took over the briefing from Master Kodesh Bomesha.

“Younglings,” the Human spoke in a deeper tone to call the children to order, “be warned. This is no simple task. There are many trials and perils ahead. Where we are going, there is no place more sacred to the Jedi,” the Master told as he looked around each of the group’s members.

Ilum – an arctic world frequented by many Jedi younglings over the centuries. Hidden beneath Ilum's frigid surface was what came to be known as the Crystal Cave. Within the maze-like caves grew kyber crystals, which brought the Jedi Order to Ilum so they could harvest the crystals in a rite of passage known as the Gathering, in which Jedi initiates harvested their crystals by attuning themselves to the Force. As such, Ilum was a holy site for the Jedi Order and today, the younglings would get to see the planet for themselves.

Once their craft had eventually descended to the surface, the children disembarked wearing their winter attire. Sice Isatu, the young Noobian who had been drumming her fingers so impatiently, was the last of the younglings to leave the ship. At first, all she could see was the flurry of snow immediately in front of her, but soon enough she was able to make out the frame of Master Iersa at the front of the line of younglings, leading the way through the blizzard.

After what seemed like an age, the group came to a stop at the foot of a large cliff. Moans from the children caused the Master to turn and focus their attention.

“Younglings,” he ordered, “outstretch your hands and focus the force. Together, and only together, can we enter,” he warned them before turning to face the cliff once more. The group of younglings dispersed and stood either side of their Master and mimicked his stance, holding out their right hands, palm first, to the cliff face. As their eyes closed, each member of the group began to channel the force until it happened - the cliff face began to move, rocks slipping and sliding until a beautiful, ornate entrance was presented.

In silence, Master Iersa stepped forth. “Hurry. The sun has already risen, and we must begin,” he warned them as he strode towards the cave’s entrance. Without question, without doubt, the younglings followed until they crossed the threshold. As the snow drift fell away, the children were presented with a powerful sight – a large room that would not have looked out of place at the Jedi Temple. Two massive statues of hooded, faceless figures seemingly holding lightsabers of their own, stood either side of plinths and a podium. On the podium, and much to their surprise, their Grand Master waited.

“The force made physical, the Jedi is,” Kodesh Bomesha eventually spoke, with Master Iersa standing beside him. “Comes great responsibility with that, yes?” he asked, the younglings dutifully nodding in response. Rising to his feet, the Grand Master asked his next question. “Now, how does a Jedi protect others? Hmm?” he queried again, but this time it was clear his question was rhetorical in nature as the shining metallic hilt of his lightsaber began to float from beneath his robe, levitating in the space between Master and disciple until it activated. The green glow of the lightsabers blade illuminated the space and showed the wonder on the faces of those assembled. “Build your own lightsaber, you shall. But first, each one of you must harvest your crystal.”

Chatter erupted among the younglings until the lightsaber deactivated and floated through the air and into their master’s hand. “The heart of the lightsaber, the crystal is. Focuses the force from the Jedi.” And there endeth the lesson as the Grand Master returned the saber to his robe and focused his attention upwards. Holding out his hands, a magnificent crystal high above them was suddenly penetrated by light from a higher window. A beam of the sun’s rays was refracted into the chamber and made impact with a frozen section of the wall. As the wall began to melt, and a river of water strategically began to flow, a doorway into the deep recesses of the cavern was revealed.

“If Jedi you are to become, enter the Crystal Cave you must,” Kodesh Bomesha instructed. “Trust yourself,” he warned them, “Trust each other and succeed you will.”

Master Iersa stepped up and guided the children up the steps to the caves entrance. “One final instruction little ones,” the Master spoke as he crouched down and looked each of them in the eyes. It was a definite change in tone from how he had previously spoken to them. It was less like a teacher talking to his pupils, and more like a father talking to his children. “Once you have found your crystal, do not remain inside… for as day light ends, the door will freeze over again, and you will be trapped inside.”

“For how long?” asked one of the concerned looking younglings.

“For one rotation, or 19 Coruscant days. There will be nothing anyone can do for you,” the Master revealed.

Sice finally spoke now, looking to the Master she had spent time with on Coruscant in recent weeks. “Master, how will we know which crystal to pick?” she asked.

“Only you can know which one is yours,” he advised her as he rose to his feet and turned to the cave. “Now hurry; daylight escapes you already.”

Each of the children took deep breaths, stepping forward and walking into the relative darkness of the cave. The floors were ornately carved with beautiful patterns and the tall supporting beams were decorated with symbols and images galore.

“How do they expect us to find our crystals when the whole place is made up of ice?” a Twi’lek boy enquired as the group proceeded forward together.

Soon, a conversation about tactics ensued as some of the children wanted to go off on their own in search of their crystal in order to maximise the time afforded to them, whilst others wanted to heed the words of Master Kodesh Bomesha and stick together. The group soon splintered, with three of the children going off on their own, while three decided to stick together. Sice had opted to stick with her close friend, Qiren-Vos-Del and their other friend, the Twi’lek called Tinlee, and the three youngsters set off together, deeper into the caves.

Darkness soon enveloped them as time ticked away, causing the younglings to stop in their tracks when presented with a cave leading in several directions. Time was slipping by, and none of the three had found their crystals yet. Reluctantly, they decided to part ways, with each heading down the path that the force called them to.

Taking a deep breath, the young Noobian wandered down a long corridor, which began to get narrower as it twisted and turned until eventually, she felt lost and alone. Standing in the darkness in the ultimate solitude, the youngling closed her eyes and tried to connect with the force, to have it guide her on her path. Being attuned to one’s environment was not a spiritual advantage of her species, but it was something she had demonstrated as having a great skill at, one that was only further enhanced by the power of the force - but it was not the force which guided her this time.

A loud scream from nearby drew her attention, a scream that worried her beyond belief. The need to proceed and find her crystal nagged away at the back of her mind, but she couldn’t in good conscience leave someone to suffer, could she? Another deafening scream gave her the answer she needed. She leapt into action and sprinted in the direction of the scream. “I’m coming! Hold on!” she yelled at the top of her lungs. Soon, the end of the corridor began to brighten and widen, the end drawing near. Another scream gave her the impetus to push on even further. Soon, she was forced to slide to a halt as she emerged from the tunnel. If she had slid any further forward, she would have found herself tumbling over the edge of what seemed to be a never-ending ravine.

“Sice…” a hushed voice whispered to her, and the young one’s attention was diverted to a figure on a ledge several feet below her. It was Qiren and she looked like she was injured.

“I slipped on the ice and lost my footing,” Qiren told her friend as Sice lay on the ice shelf above and tried to reach down to her friend. As Qiren reached back, it was clear that neither of them was tall enough to reach the other.

“I have an idea,” Sice frowned as she looked at her friend, “remember that lesson Master Loren taught us last week? About levitating objects in our environment?”

“Yes, but what’s that got…” Qiren’s eyes widened, “I’m not an object Sice! Have you ever levitated a person before? I know I haven’t!”

“We try this, or we both get stuck here when the door seals because I’m not leaving you,” Sice chided her friend. “If you concentrate on making yourself as weightless as you can, I can do the rest,” the youngling told somewhat confidently, but deep down she was petrified. However, like she had said, there really was no other choice.

With her friend’s life hanging in the balance, and using her strong connection to the force, Sice tried to use her powers of force telekinesis to help pull Qiren towards her, and towards ultimate safety. With her eyes closed tight, the look of concentration on her face, the gritted teeth and the twitching movements both her head and her hands made showed how much of a struggle it was for the youngling. Qiren too used all of the power she could muster but it soon became clear that the stress of the situation was taking its toll on the 9-year-olds and as hard as they tried, they just couldn’t hold on for long enough. Sice desperately reached out at the last second to grab hold of Qiren, but to no avail.

“Noooo!” she screamed, left to watch and weep as her friend fell into the darkness below, with the girl’s piercing screams echoing through the cavern.

Slumped on the floor, tears streaming down her face, the youngling felt cold. Not just cold, but freezing. With darkness falling and the door to the cave freezing over, the heartbroken youngling could do nothing but hear the words of Master Iersa in her mind. She was forced to move on, or risk being sealed in the caves. Pulling herself to her feet, she was about to walk away when a mystical sound and a glistening object caught her eye. Across what she had believed to be an endless pit, the blue light of the crystal illuminated an ice shelf some distance away. Had it been this that Qiren had been reaching for?

Faced with going back empty handed, having failed to save her friend and gain her crystal, the youngling knew she had to at least try, if not for herself, but for Qiren too. But how would she get over there? She had always been very athletic even without the aid of the force, her small stature had seen to that, and she had often been able to jump great distances, but this was a stretch, even for her. Still, she had to try, didn’t she? Backing up a large distance, even back as far as the tunnel she had emerged from, the youngling steadied herself. With deep breaths and eyes tightly shut, she began sprinting towards the edge of the precipice. At the last second, and when it appeared she would plummet into the same darkness that Qiren had, her eyes sprung open and the youngling pounced, jumping through the air. As she closed the gap, she could feel herself almost running out of steam, but with the thought of her friend’s demise in her mind, she pushed one last time and finally tumbled onto the ice ledge with just inches to spare.

“Well, that was too close for comfort,” she whispered to herself as she brushed herself off and rose to her feet, looking back across the ravine until a whistling sort of sound drew her attention back to the crystal just a few feet away. She took a few tentative steps forward and reached out for the crystal that had called to her from across the distance. As soon as she had plucked it from the ice, the cave walls around her began to shake, clumps of ice falling from the roof above until an opening formed, an opening just big enough for her to climb through. And there was light at the end of the tunnel.

Taking one last deep breath, she propelled herself into the air until she was able to grab on to the ice rocks either side of the tunnel and began to climb.

In the safety of the temple entrance, four of the younglings had already emerged and, with the entrance to the cave nearly sealed, the looks of concern for their friends grew. “I should have stayed with them…” Tinlee whispered as he looked into the concerned eyes of Master Iersa.

“Patience Tinlee, we’ve never lost a youngling on one of these expeditions and we will not do so today,” the Master told the apprentice, with a reassuring hand placed on the Twi’lek’s shoulder until a large sound from a side wall drew everyone’s attention.

Stepping away from the younglings, Kodesh Bomesha and Iersa watched as the temple walls began to shake, and an opening appeared, an opening that grew in size with each shake until a small, brown-haired figure appeared and the walls ceased shaking.

Collapsing in a heap, exhausted from her ordeal, Sice wept. “She’s gone,” the Noobian cried as Master Iersa fell to his knees and cradled the distraught youngling. “I tried, Master… I really tried…” Sice cried some more, “I wasn’t strong enough to help her…”

“We must confront our darkest fears in order to obtain our crystals,” Master Kodesh Bomesha spoke as he hobbled over to the youngling and his fellow Master. “Trials and perils, the kind we have never before experienced. Your fear of loss and suffering nearly consumed you.”

“Indulging our fears, whether with our thoughts or actions, gives them the power to hold us back,” Master Iersa told her as he helped her to her feet. “But you didn’t indulge your fears. You pushed them aside and pressed on, persevered undeterred, for yourself and for others,” he smiled as he put a gentle hand on the younglings face.

“Strong in the force you are, my young apprentice. We face many trials and perils, but no Jedi comes here to die. Hmmm?” Master Kodesh Bomesha told, lifting his arm, and pointing it in the direction of the cave exit where a figure stood, looking rather out of breath. And very wet.

“Qiren!” Sice cried out, running over to her friend, and throwing her arms around her. “How? What?” she stuttered as she released her fellow youngling.

“Well, I just seemed to keep falling until I hit this massive lake,” the youngling recounted, “I was about to swim for the edge of the lake when I saw this gleaming at the bottom,” she smiled proudly as she produced her own crystal.

With the last of the two Jedi younglings safe, Kodesh Bomesha gathered them around. “Go with Master Iersa to the ship. Listen to Professor Huyang and you will build your lightsabers, young Jedi.”

“Come, Jedi…” Deackon Iersa smiled as he led the children towards the doorway to the temple, and the short journey back to their spacecraft.

A disconcerting series of bumps and shudders stirred the young Jedi from her slumber, the thoughts of her Gathering fading as she collected herself in the here and now, focusing on the moment at hand. Almost fifteen years since the day she thought she had lost her best friend, since the day she had constructed her trusted Jedi weapon, Sice Isatu had finally completed her training – in the eyes of her master, at least. Master Iersa had put her forward for the Trials of Knighthood, a chance to prove to the Jedi Council that she was no longer the Padawan they thought her to be and was, instead, one of their peers, an equal of many.

“We just dropped out of hyperspace,” the familiar voice of her aging Master revealed from the seat next to her. The two commenced one of their usual deep, meaningful conversations about her recent dreams, when the co-pilot stepped back to their compartment, looking a little worse for wear.

“What is it, Commander?” Master Iersa queried, rising to his feet, his young apprentice swiftly following suit.

“A… a transmission sir,” the man stuttered, “fr… from the High Council.”

Noting the worrying expression on the pilot’s face, Iersa signalled for Sice to follow him, and together they made their way into the cockpit. On the dashboard, a small holographic projection of Grand Master Uadra, the male Zabrak who sat on the High Council. “Master Iersa,” the Zabrak spoke, “war has engulfed the Galaxy once more. Take your apprentice to the Saleucami system and assume command of the Republic forces there…”

Iersa and Sice exchanged concerned glances until, finally, the Zabrak revealed one final problem.

“The Sith have risen once again…”