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Guiding Lights


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Osetto
01.28.2014 , 07:29 PM | #21
Quote: Originally Posted by LaxKnight View Post
I just want to say I'm enjoying this. I love your namesake, the wit about him and his cheeriness compared to the stoic (word used a lot!) Dehros. The interaction between them, the chemistry, is awesome. The back and forth quips as Osetto constantly tries to get Dehros to break his stoicism. I love it.
Heh, thanks for the kind words. I kind of wanted to stress the stoicism. Since Jedi are typically calm and relaxed, I needed something for when they go the extra mile to not express themselves. As for Dehros, he's something special. He's not just quiet or reserved, he actually doesn't allow himself to show or be affected by emotion. He takes the first line of the Jedi Code very literally. Osetto far less so.

I'm trying my best to keep them from just being Lorrik and Jresh in Jedi robes. There are similarities, as pretty much anything I write concerning a pair of protagonists stems from a similar dynamic. The warm and the cold. The expressive and the reserved. The physical and the mental. But even with different motivations and traits, I'll admit that this story and Acolyte Ascension will possess similar themes, if with a bit of an inversion. That story dealt with freedom and control, perception of worth, even parenthood toward the end. The same will be true in Guiding Lights as the still young Jedi attempt to raise their Padawans in a rapidly evolving climate.

Unlike most Masters, Osetto and Dehros don't have all the answers. And the ones they do have might be wrong. And once the four of them leave the sanctuary of the Temple, there could be consequences for their unorthodoxy.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

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Osetto
01.28.2014 , 09:34 PM | #22
Chapter Nine: Flow (Part One)

The air was calm and heavy in the early morning, dense with moisture. The temple grounds were quiet, its usual inhabitants still in their rooms, tucked beneath their sheets. But whilst the other Padawans rested, two were up and out amongst the dewy hills and trees of Tython.

Atop a ridge that overlooked the temple, Osetto stood across from Ryska and Torzin. The teenagers were awake and ready to proceed with the day’s lesson, albeit with a somewhat haggard countenance. Their robes were wrinkled and slightly offset, hanging off their bodies as if sluggishly thrown on. Their eyelids hung as heavy as the surrounding air. Meanwhile, the Consular stood upright and energized, donning a most pleasant expression.

“Today, we’re going to learn about the Force,” Osetto revealed. The words were almost lost on the drowsy Padawans, the white noise of the nearby stream filling their ears.

The Cathar rubbed her eye with the back of her hand, releasing a drawn out yawn. “Haven’t we been doing that for the past few years?”

“Consider this an advanced course,” Osetto delightfully detailed.

“Will Master Norrida be joining us for this lesson?” Torzin asked. The Mirialan was the more presentable of the two students, but even his adamant nature could not overpower the lethargy of the early morning.

“No, it’ll just be me for this lesson,” Osetto informed. “Dehros is busy seeing to some matters concerning later trials.”

“What kind of trials?” Ryska wondered.

“Well, since he’ll be handling your martial training, he’s likely procuring the necessary items,” Osetto reasoned.

Torzin perked up, a glint in his eye. “Like lightsabers?”

“Most likely,” Osetto plainly stated. “But as he trains your bodies, my responsibility rests with training your minds… or rather, your spirits.”

The Miraluka began to slowly walk away from his students, leaving the befuddled pair to look at each other before being waved to follow. The Padawans complied, feeling their bodies come to life as their muscles moved, as blood pumped through their veins, as every breath drew in the wet air. The Consular came to a stop a short distance from his original spot, standing beside a gently flowing stream. The clear waters flowed over the various pebbles beneath, following the straight path before falling over the ridge’s edge.

Slowly, the Miraluka lowered himself to his knees and silently beckoned the Padawans to do the same. The three of them lined up, side by side, at the edge of the shallow stream. The Consular turned his head to the left and the right, being greeted with the eager face of a Padawan on each side. Within the quaint arrangement, they took a moment to bask in the peaceful environment, locked in an almost meditative state.

“The Force flows,” Osetto began. “Water flows. A Jedi is neither the lake nor the mountain. Neither the source nor the terminus. We are the channel. The Force flows through us as water does through the river. It can be gentle. It can be chaotic. It can be natural. It can be forced. It can build. It can destroy.”

“You’re talking about the light and dark side, right?” Torzin inquired.

“In a way, yes,” Osetto admitted. “But also the multifaceted, and sometimes contradictory, nature of the Force. The Force fuels us, and we can utilize it through near infinite applications. To alter. To sense. To control. Ourselves and others. Whatever limitations we encounter, they reside in ourselves, not the Force.”

The calm was broken by the Cathar offering a polite chuckle. “So you're saying it’s our fault if we can’t lift a big rock.”

“Precisely,” Osetto replied, equally enthused. “And it’s my job to make sure when the time comes, you can lift that big rock. Firstly, by getting rid of the notion that all the Force is good for is moving heavy objects.”

A sharp grin stretched across Ryska’s face. “But you gotta admit, it is pretty good at that.

“You have no idea,” Osetto warmly stated. “Everything I needed to learn about the Force, I learn from Master Joren. He was a friend of my Master and a Kineticist. He didn’t use a lightsaber. Didn’t need one.

“Was he a pacifist?” Torzin wondered.

“On the contrary, he was one of the greatest fighters I’ve ever known,” Osetto revealed. “He walked into battle armed with only the Force and was more than a match for any Sith.”

“What happened to him?” Ryska asked.

“He was with my Master, as well as Dehros’, during the Sacking of Coruscant,” Osetto answered, noticeably solemn. “He perished in the battle, but not before he kept an entire skyscraper from collapsing long enough for us to make our escape.”

“Wow,” Ryska muttered, eyes growing incredibly wide. “I didn’t know a Jedi could do that.”

“Like I said, any limitations rest with ourselves, not the Force,” Osetto repeated. “But even if he is no longer with us, I can pass along his teachings.”

The Padawans watched as the Consular leaned forward until his face was over the gently flowing stream. Carefully, the Miraluka reached out with his hand, dipping his fingertips into the water. Taking a closer look, the students noticed that not a drop of water managed to actually touch the Master’s fingers. Instead, the stream parted and flowed around his hand before converging on the other side.

“Joren used to say that the biggest roadblock in a Padawan’s training stemmed from the fact that they are so focused on moving the motionless,” Osetto declared as he retrieved his hand, still as dry as the moment prior to entry. “The Force is about flow.”

“But what about things that aren’t, you know, flowing?” Ryska wondered.

“Even if something seems stilled, it does not exist in isolation,” Osetto explained. “Water, air, gravity. When you attempt to move an object with the Force, you are not merely moving that object, you are guiding it through the flows around it. Ignore those flows and you will struggle. Watch.”

The students looked closely as the Consular held out his hand, this time flat over the water’s surface. Below, a small pebble resting on the stream’s bed began to slowly lift itself. As it swam toward to surface, it began to wobble and shake before being swept away with the gentle current.

“Focus too hard on the pebble, and you lose it to the stream,” Osetto stated. “One must guide it, bending the flows around it so as to remain in control.”

“But how do you overcome something like gravity?” Torzin wondered.

“The Force exists in all things. Flows through all things,” Osetto answered. “As you strengthen your connection to the Force, you’ll be able to sense such flows and work with them so as to work against them. If you would, attempt to dip your hands without getting them wet.”

The two Padawans paused as they gathered themselves, wanting to succeed in their task. They carefully extended their hands, straightening out their fingers before hovering them above the water’s surface. The gentle flow threatened to lap at their digits as they focused their minds.

A small indentation appeared beneath the Cathar’s fingers as an invisible force began pressing against the water’s surface. Slowly, she attempted to part the waters, taking things slow and steady.

On the other side of the Consular, the Mirialan began exerting his spirit upon the spot preceding his hand. He erected a barrier with his mind, an invisible construct that the stream was forced to flow around. Slowly, he began to expand the barrier until there was a deep enough trench for Torzin to dip his hand in. However, as he lowered his fingers, rather than flow around the Padawan’s barrier, splashes of water began to flow over it, wetting the teenager’s hand.

“The trick with the Force is to not force it,” Osetto said with a smile. “I know, an odd concept if you think about it. You aren’t trying to block the stream from reaching you, you’re trying to guide it around you. Do not stop the flow, merely divert it.”

“Master, I think I did it!” Ryska declared.

The Consular looked over to the Cathar’s hand dipped into the stream, albeit at only half the distance he had done. The water seemed to gently pass around the Padawan’s hand as the air would to a wing.

“Very good Ryska,” Osetto congratulated. The teenager wore a bright smile, the water collapsing around her hand as her concentration broke. The young Cathar immediately withdrew her hand, batting off the droplets from her fur. Ryska scrunched her nose in disappointment, but the comforting smile of her Master put her at ease.

“I think I’ve done it,” Torzin calmly stated. The Miraluka turned to see the stream successfully flowing around the other teenager’s hand.

“Very good, Torzin,” Osetto congratulated. “Remember, not everything is a fight. Do not try to beat the water if you can cooperate with it.”

The Padawans watched as the Consular leaned forward once more. He dipped his fingers into the stream again, but this time at an angle. The students were amazed to see a small rivulet of water flow atop the Miraluka’s hand and up his arm. Keeping with the stream’s gentle pace, the diverted string of water went up and over the Consular’s shoulders before coming back down the other arm. Eventually, the water flowed over Osetto’s other hand, resuming its journey back down the stream.

It was a completed circuit, as water continued to journey up and around the Jedi, gliding over his flesh and robes, not a drop actually touching him.

“The Force is about flow,” Osetto repeated, maintaining the stream of water with almost no sense of effort.

The Padawans looked upon the Master with a genuine admiration of his skill. It wasn’t levitating a starship or healing a grievous wound, but somehow, the display proved most impressive. It had resonated with the students. It spoke of a mastery that even they could achieve. Simple and understandable. Soon, the Consular stopped drawing up water and the last drops flowed over his shoulder, rejoining the stream as gently as they had left it.

Gazing into the flowing waters of the stream, Ryska carefully reached out, emulating her Master. Dipping her fingertip into the water’s surface, she closed her eyes and concentrated, getting a feel for the motion. Focusing her mind, she reached out with the Force and a small rivulet began traveling up her arm. Opening her eyes, she looked upon her actions with amazement before her lapse in judgment sent the diverted stream of water splashing into her face.

The Padawan winced at the soft, yet strikingly cold impact. She muttered a quick curse under her breath as she dabbed her fur with the collar of her robes. As the Cathar regained her senses, she heard a soft chuckle emanate from beside her. Turning her head, she had expected its source to be her ever pleasant Master. Instead, she found the Mirialan hiding his mouth beneath the palm of his hand.

The girl’s face scrunched as she sharpened her eyes toward her fellow Padawan. Extending her arm, she made a wide sweeping motion, kicking up a small splash of water upon the Mirialan with the Force. The other Padawan froze as the water washed over his robes and trousers, mouth hanging agape. Turning toward the cause, he saw the Cathar playfully sticking her tongue out at him.

Osetto let out a brief chuckle. “Let’s continue… shall we?”

----------

Back at the temple, the cogs were beginning to turn as its denizens prepared for the day ahead. Masters had awoken from their slumber, ready to tend to their various duties. The sounds of construction began echoing throughout the open chambers of the temple as workers expanded the grand halls.

A lone Jedi walked amongst the stirring grounds with calm steps, no sense of eagerness in his gait. The Human wore his usual dulled expression as he would proceed along his path, pause, and resume walking again. Continually scanning his surroundings, Dehros attempted to find his way through the half-finished halls. But the Guardian was patient and in no rush.

Passing by unfinished archives and classrooms, the Jedi eventually found his destination in the form of a quaint storeroom. Within, a number of supplies were under lock and key in a number of cabinets and safes. Supplies for students and instructors alike. Resting behind a counter, they were joined by an elderly man garbed in light robes. The aged Human leaned against the flat surface of the counter, thumbing through what looked to be a series of pages physically bound together.

“Is that a book?” Dehros bluntly asked.

The elder Human lifted his gaze to see the emotionless Guardian standing across from him, stance rigid and unwavering. The storeroom keeper possessed the appearance of a man in his later years, wrinkled and bald of head. He looked upon his guest with heavy eyes, donning a dulled expression of his own.

“Never seen a book before?” the keeper countered with a low drawl.

“Not in recent memory, no,” Dehros admitted. “Did they not give you a datapad?”

The keeper let out a low chortle as his wrinkled face donned a smile. “You ever think maybe I just enjoy reading something not coming out of a screen?”

“Sorry, I thought maybe they were making you keep physical records of supplies,” Dehros confessed, not an even a slight intonation of actual guilt.

“Jedi may be archaic, but we ain’t cruel,” the keeper joked before returning his heavy gaze to the book.

The room fell to silence. The Guardian remained awkwardly standing as the storeroom keeper casually perused his literature. Finally, after letting the quiet persist for a few moments, the younger Human purposely cleared his throat.

“Um, excuse me?” Dehros calmly, but firmly, spoke up.

“If you need something, you can just go ahead and ask,” the keeper stated, not lifting his gaze.

“Very well,” said Dehros, taking a calm step toward the counter. “I was looking to procure some supplies for my Padawan.”

Slowly, the keeper raised his gaze from the book, studying the other Jedi with heavy eyes. “Kind of young to be taking on a student, aren’t you?”

“We all have our duties to the Order,” Dehros declared. “Mine is training the next generation of Jedi.”

The keeper let out a soft chuckle. “Let me guess. You took part in that apprenticeship day, didn’t you?”

“That is correct,” Dehros admitted. “In fact, my friend was responsible for organizing it.”

“He the same age as you?” the keeper asked.

“A little younger, in fact,” answered Dehros.

“My how the times have changed,” the keeper replied, a subtle warmth in his voice.

“I take it you’ve seen quite a few changes within the Order,” Dehros bluntly suggested.

“More than I care to admit,” the keeper offered alongside another chuckle. “You get to be my age, you start to see the change in everything. But enough of my prattling, what sort of supplies were you looking for?”

“Power cells, focusing lenses, crystals, casings…” Dehros listed.

“Yeah, I got those… but what would you be wanting with them for?” the keeper insistently asked.

The Guardian took pause. “I thought it’d be obvious.”

“I know to craft a lightsaber, but I was asking why you wanted them,” the keeper clarified. “Don’t tell me your Padawan’s already finished their trials.”

“No,” Dehros quickly replied. “He’s still in the early stages of training. But he possessed a weapon during the war. I’d like to continue where his old master left off.”

“Understandable,” the keeper said, softly tapping his fingertips on the counter. “Unfortunately, I’m afraid I can’t oblige. Council says no lightsaber until a Padawan is finished with their trials. It’s training sabers until then.”

“I heard they were entertaining the idea, but I didn’t know they had reached a decision,” Dehros stated.

“I’m afraid so,” the keeper replied. “Welcome to peacetime, kid.”

“Is there a way I could appeal to the Council? Get an exception for my Padawan?” Dehros patiently asked.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” the keeper answered. “Even if they weren’t taking a hardline stance on the issue, the chances of getting an audience with them is slim. They’re rather busy as of late.”

The Guardian remained silent, lost in his own thoughts. The keeper expected more out of him, but nothing came.

“Would you like to requisition a permanent training weapon?” the keeper asked.

Snapping out of his daze, the younger man offered a hesitant nod. With a grunt, the aged man removed himself from the counter, turning his attention to the secured racks and containers along the wall. Unlocking a cabinet, the keeper looked upon a row of metallic rods the length of an activated lightsaber. Slowly, he took one in his hand, removing it and gently setting it back down atop the counter.

It was elegantly simple, a shaped hilt and a ‘blade’ composed of a reinforced rod lined with energy arrays. Programmable to various heat settings and capable of generating fields similar to those that surrounded a lightsaber’s beam of plasma. Turning back to the cabinet, the keeper was about to close and lock it before he was interrupted by the stoic Guardian.

“Could you get another one? I’d like to pick one up for a friend’s Padawan,” Dehros explained. The keeper’s hand lay stilled over the cabinet’s handle for a moment before complying with the request. Soon, two training sabers graced the countertop between the two men. The keeper paused for a second, waiting to see if the Guardian had anything more to say before finally locking the cabinet.

Returning to the counter, the keeper reached beneath the flat surface, returning with a datapad in hand. “Just give me your name and the one of your friend and acknowledge that the chosen items are entering your possession,” the keeper dully stated as he handed the small device to the younger man.

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Osetto
02.02.2014 , 09:05 PM | #23
Chapter Ten: Flow (Part Two)

Dehros entered his and Osetto’s names and signed the release. Staring at the tools, the Guardian recalled his earliest days of training. It was the same weapon initiates had been using, and would continue using, for decades. The only difference being that during his training, he used it only until he had displayed the basest of competencies. In his time, Jedi were expected to fight in the war, and they needed a Jedi’s weapon to do so. But times had changed. The war was over. It was now an era of peace. But the peace needed to be defended. A task for which the Jedi could not afford half-measures.

“I know it may sound strange coming from an old salt like me…” the keeper spoke up. Dehros snapped to attention, unaware he had been standing there, staring at the training sabers. “Change is a good thing.”

“Pardon?” Dehros politely asked for an explanation.

“I take it you were born after the Great War began,” the keeper suggested. “That means the entirety of your training and most of your time in the Order was dedicated to fighting Sith. This transition, from war to peace, might feel jarring… but the opposite was far… far worse.”

“Of that I have no doubt,” Dehros admitted, returning his gaze to the training weapons.

“Disappointed?” the keeper softly asked.

“Should I be?”

“It’s just that for some of the Knights, fighting the Empire was all they knew. You might find a few who object to recent changes with the Order,” the keeper explained.

“I take it you’re not one of them,” Dehros suggested.

“Like I said, change is a good thing,” the keeper repeated.

“Change can be a good thing,” Dehros clarified. “But there’s no intrinsic worth in it. Change can be for the better, but it can also be for the worse.”

“I suppose that’s true,” the keeper conceded. “But it is inevitable. Rather than resisting the flow, it’s better to guide it toward something greater.”

“We’re not in any position to alter our direction,” Dehros declared. “We follow the wisdom of the Council. They guide us and the Order as a whole.”

“We’re all in charge of our own destiny,” said the keeper. “Others may affect us, as we may affect others. The Force may offer guidance, as we may offer ourselves to the Force. But we are ultimately responsible for the directions we take. For the paths we follow.”

“Our paths are dictated by our superiors,” Dehros countered.

“Suggested. Not dictated,” the keeper clarified. “Students are not beholden to the guidance of their masters. That is why we must be extra careful about the paths we offer.”

The room went silent as the younger man offered no immediate response. Instead, he lifted his gaze from the weapons, opting to instead study the elderly man behind the counter. He had expected the man to be once more embedded in his book, but instead found him staring right back. Behind his heavy eyes, beneath his calm and wrinkled visage, there was an understanding and wisdom unbecoming of a mere storeroom attendant.

“Might I ask your name?” Dehros finally broke the silence.

“You might,” the keeper coyly replied. “Of course, you never answered my question.”

“Which one?”

“Whether or not you were disappointed,” the keeper stated, nodding toward the training sabers resting between them.

“No. I’m not,” Dehros declared. “My Padawan might be, though. I understand that things change according to the times, but my student is still young. He fought in the war, barely a teenager at the time. He had earned his lightsaber, but lost it in the Sacking. Now he’ll be told he can’t replace it until he finishes his training.”

“Is that such a bad thing?” the keeper asked.

“He views a lightsaber as a measure of worth. He had proven himself worthy of carrying one. Being denied the chance to replace it could make him feel like he’s regressed,” Dehros explained. “He could feel like he’s being treated like a child.”

“Again, is that so bad?” the keeper asked. “Even without a war enveloping the galaxy, we strip our younglings of much of their childhoods. Giving a piece back now and again won’t hurt.”

Once more the Guardian fell silent. Without another word, he picked up the training sabers from the countertop and hooked them both around his belt. The weapons secured to his waist, the younger man offered one final look to the storeroom keeper. “Are you going to tell me your name?”

“Verdon,” the keeper plainly stated.

The Guardian offered a few brief blinks as he continued to stare at the older gentleman. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I’ve not heard the name before.”

The storeroom keeper let out a soft chuckle. “Did I give the impression that you should have?”

“No, it’s just that… I don’t know… from your words I had expected something more…” Dehros struggled to explain.

“More than a lowly storeroom attendant?” Verdon coyly suggested. “Believe me kid, I’m nothing special. Just a man who’s been in the Order a few more decades than most.”

“Regardless, thanks for the conversation and the supplies,” Dehros said with a polite bow of his head.

“Glad to be of service,” Verdon replied before returning his focus to his book.

Turning his back on the storeroom keeper, the Guardian calmly made his way toward the exit. Before stepping out, he gave one final look toward the man behind the counter, watching him contently reading as the compact chamber returned to its natural state.

Gripping the hilts of the training sabers, Dehros began his walk back through the unfinished halls of the Jedi Temple.

----------

As Tython’s sun continued it graceful ascent, the morning hours were giving way to midday. Continuing their lesson atop a nearby ridge, Osetto and his students heard only the occasional echo from the quickly filling training grounds that surrounded the temple.

Stepping away from the gentle stream, the three Jedi found themselves amongst rocky grounds, surrounded by stones of various sizes. From pebbles to boulders, this area would provide the means of the Consular’s next lesson.

The two students stood patiently under the warming glow of the Tython sun. Though their robes were still damp, neither Padawan was burdened with discomfort. Instead, they were ready to learn, both gazing toward the Miraluka with eager eyes.

“Time to move on to something more solid,” Osetto declared.

“So we’re going to be lifting rocks after all,” Ryska playfully offered.

“That’s right,” Osetto said with a smile. Holding out his hands, the Miraluka drew in a deep breath and calmed his mind.

The students watched as their tutor remained stilled, but the world began to shift around him. Slowly, tiny pebbles hovered and lifted themselves from the ground. Dozens of tiny stones rose through the air with grace, halting as they reached their manipulator’s waist. Spread out around the Consular, they rotated and orbited the Jedi by the grace of his will. Rather than a display of strength, it was one of concentration and poise.

The Cathar looked with wide eyes, mouth agape with wonder. “That looks so cool, master!”

Osetto release a soft chuckle as he maintained the system of orbiting pebbles and stones. “You’ll be doing the same in no time, Padawan.”

With subtle waves of his open palms, the circle of pebbles broke their cycle, forming a snaking line of rocks that rose and fell in accordance with the Consular’s movements. Eventually, the string of pebbles was straightened out and stacked upright, forming a thin column in front of the students. Composed of rough and uneven stones, the stack should have instantly crumbled, but under the influence of Osetto, it remained upright and rigid.

“If you’d please take a pebble from the stack,” Osetto advised the Padawans. The teenagers took a careful step toward the frozen pillar, reaching out with their hands. Almost afraid to upset the column, each slowly snatched a small stone from the top of the chest high stack. As Torzin and Ryska each held a pebble snuggly within their palms, the Consular released his mental grip on the others, sending the stack of rocks crumbling to the ground.

Taking a step toward the students, Osetto neatly tucked his hands behind his back, taking the stance of the wise sage before the young Jedi. “Now, hold out your hand, palm toward the sky, pebble in its center.”

The Padawans complied, holding the stones they had taken in the flat of their right palms. Extending their arms, their joints went rigid, locking their stance.

“Now, let me see you lift these pebbles with the Force,” Osetto suggested.

There was a moment of hesitation in the students.

“That’s it?” Torzin calmly asked. “I mean, a child could lift something this small.”

“Then you should have no problem, right?” Osetto offered with a knowing smile. The Padawans went along with their master’s direction, lifting the singular pebbles they possessed with the Force. The small stones rose through the air before coming to a gentle stop at eye level. There they remained, secure in the teenagers’ telekinetic grips, not an ounce of wobble in either of them. “One’s strength in the Force comes from understanding, and understanding is achieved through increments. There is no universal application of the Force, but there are underlying principles that carry through whether you are lifting a pebble or a boulder. Understanding these variations and constants allows a Jedi to more efficiently and effectively channel the Force.”

The Padawans listened to their teacher, minds unstrained by lifting the pebble. With a couple of nods, the students signaled their understanding, as well as their ability to concentrate on multiple items calling for their attention.

“Think about what it takes to lift that pebble,” Osetto continued. “Even if it is so effortless as to seem unconscious, remember that it still draws upon you. Neither you nor the Force is ultimately responsible for your actions. It is a give and take, each guiding one another. One must respect and understand the other. You must know yourself just as much as the Force. How is it you were able to lift that pebble? What was your state of mind? Where did you put your focus? The Force is limited by you, but you are also the one to set it free. Do you understand?”

“To use the Force, we have to believe in ourselves,” Ryska warmly offered.

“That’s right,” Osetto declared. “Your mental state has the most profound impact on your connection to the Force. That is why you are taught to understand your emotions, to seek out knowledge, to possess an internal harmony.”

“Because if we don’t, we risk falling to the dark side, correct?” Torzin suggested.

“That’s right,” Osetto calmly answered. “The dark side possesses a natural allure. It is easy to give into anger, into hate. So easy in fact, that some Jedi don’t even realize they’ve done so.”

“But people can turn away, right?” Ryska asked. “I mean, if our mental state can set us on that path, it can lead us away from it too, right?”

“That’s right,” Osetto warmly repeated. “The dark side is… magnetic. Once within its grasp, it can be hard to tear free. But not impossible. That is why we must never give up on those who fall. It’s up to us to offer our hand, that they may pick themselves up.”

The teens offered another pair of nods.

“Now,” Osetto perked up, somewhat more chipper. “Time to take things up a notch.”

As the students watched the Miraluka turn upon his heels, they allowed the pebbles to drop back into their palms. They waited patiently as the Consular circled around the various stones that littered the ground before he finally stopped beside a large rock. Already reaching up to the Osetto’s waist, the boulder beside the Jedi had even more of its heft buried beneath the dirt. With a solid slap, the Miraluka set his hand upon the immense stone.

“You’ll be lifting this next,” Osetto warmly declared. The student’s offered only bewildered gazes.

“We can’t lift that!” Ryska balked.

Osetto’s smile widened. “Of course you can. Remember, it’s all about incremental changes.”

“That’s a pretty big increment!” Ryska exclaimed.

“You just have to remember what I’ve taught you,” Osetto calmly reasoned. As the students fell silent, the Consular once more calmed his mind. Maintaining contact with the boulder, Osetto began exerting his will upon the embedded rock. The Padawans watched in amazement as the stone began to stir from its deep rest. The Miraluka showing no signs of visible strain, the boulder began to lift itself from the ground, the Jedi’s hand still resting upon its top.

The large stone now floated in the air, its bottom stained with dirt. Slowly, Osetto began walking toward the students with the lifted rock moving alongside him. The boulder, heavier than the three organics’ combined weights, gently hovered beneath the Consular’s hand, guided by the Jedi’s mind. Stopping just short of the Padawans, Osetto set the stone back on the ground with a sizable thud. The impact was enough to make the Cathar flinch. When she recovered, she was left with the smiling gaze of her master before her.

“Who would like to try first?” Osetto warmly asked.

The Padawans looked to each other and, for the first time that morning, neither seemed too eager.

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Osetto
02.18.2014 , 04:29 PM | #24
Chapter Eleven: Flow (Part Three)

The two students stared at the large rock, silence hanging heavy in the dewy air. Finally, one spoke.

“I guess I’ll go first,” Torzin declared, trying to evoke a confident tone.

Ryska and Osetto each took a step back, leaving the Mirialan with the heavy boulder. The green teenager stared at the rock with a determined gaze. Despite his trepidation, his failure would not be for lack of trying.

Placing his feet apart, Torzin adopted as stalwart a stance as he could muster. Digging in his heels, the Mirialan held out his hands, just short of making physical contact with the boulder. With closed eyes and a calm mind, the Padawan went to work trying to lift the heavy stone with the Force. He dwelled upon his tutor’s words, treating the boulder as he would a pebble. But a pebble it was not. It remained firmly secured in its new resting place despite all efforts to move it. No matter how hard he exerted his will, the weight was too much for the Mirialan to overcome. With a burdened exhalation, the Padawan’s arms dropped back to his sides.

“I… I can’t,” Torzin admitted, maintaining his calm through his exhaustion.

“I see,” Osetto spoke up. “Ryska, would you like to try?”

“If Torzin can’t do it, I can’t,” Ryska declared.

“And what makes you think that?” Osetto asked.

“I saw him lift metal girders back at the construction site,” Ryska admitted. “If he can’t lift this thing, there’s no way I can.”

“Is that true, Torzin?” asked Osetto.

“A lifter droid broke,” Torzin explained. “I helped drag some of the construction supplies up the hill whilst Ryska fixed it.”

The Miraluka playfully began scratching his chin. “Why might you have been able to lift those, but not this rock?”

“Well, I was able to get a grip on the beams,” said Torzin.

“And how do you think I was able to lift the boulder?” Osetto asked. “You’ll notice I put my hand on it.”

“Yeah, but it was just resting on the top,” Torzin suggested. “That couldn’t have helped you grip it.”

“And yet it did,” Osetto offered with a smile. “Remember what I said about flow. The Force moves through us. We are the channel. To properly use the Force, we must understand the flows around us.”

Ryska arched her brow. “And if we want to understand flows, we should just touch something?”

“For a Jedi in training, it can certainly help,” Osetto warmly stated. “When we are instructed in the use of the Force, it is through two avenues. That which affects us. And that which affects the world around us. The closer we can bring those two worlds together, the greater our understanding. And the greater our ability. Tell me, when you lifted the pebble, did it feel different in the air than it did in your hand?”

The Padawans offered hesitant nods.

“One of the hardest things for a Padawan to wrap their heads around is moving the motionless. The other is reaching the unreachable,” Osetto suggested. “Through the Force, we can reach out beyond the limits of our bodies, but parts of ourselves still refuse to belief as much. That is one of the ways we limit ourselves, and in turn, limit our use of the Force. Breaking down that disbelief can only be achieved through practice and persistence. But we are often unwilling to persist in the face of incapability. Thus, we must prove to ourselves that we are capable.”

Taking a knee beside the boulder, Osetto beckoned the students to join him. Kneeling on opposite sides of the stone, Torzin and Ryska eagerly awaited the Consular’s next words. But instead, he silently placed his palms upon the cold surface of the large rock. Taking a cue from their tutor, the students did the same.

“Before we can affect the world around us, we must understand it,” Osetto explained. “All you saw before you was a stone. Heavy. Immovable. But what is it really? Feel it. Know it. What are its boundaries? What are its limits? It is the one that possesses these things, not you. The more you know of something, the more you understand it, the more you can influence it.”

Picking himself up off the ground, Osetto took a step back, leaving the Padawans in contact with the boulder. Their eyes were closed, their minds were calm, and their hands were pressed against the solid surface of the intimidating stone.

“You can do this. You just have to believe,” Osetto calmly suggested.

The Miraluka watched his students with his eyeless gaze. Strings and waves of the Force began to flow from the teenagers. A lambent aura of focused energies surrounded and enveloped each student. On each side of the boulder, Torzin and Ryska slowly began exerting their will upon the stilled stone. Emanating from their points of contact, normally invisible energies began to flow and spread across the rock’s surface, eventually covering it in its entirety. The stone was aglow in the Force, manifestations of the Padawans’ wills intermingling across the cold exterior, eventually reaching the other’s hands. Every aspect of the boulder became known to the students as they could feel the echo of one another’s aura.

Slowly, the stone began to move under the combined efforts of the Padawans. In unison, Torzin and Ryska began straightening out their legs, raising themselves, bringing the boulder along with them as they maintained their physical contact. As their palms graced the sides of the stone, there was nothing for them to physically grab onto, but they had firmly secured their grip upon the previously unmovable object.

Opening their eyes, the Padawans gazed upon their efforts with wonder. They had done what they previously thought impossible. Together, they had moved the unmovable. Under the smiling gaze of their tutor, Torzin and Ryska slowly lowered the boulder back to the ground. Making sure their toes out of the way, the Padawans set the stone down with a soft thud.

The Mirialan released the breath he had been holding for what felt like an eternity. Gazing upon the settled stone, he could hardly believe what he’d done. As the feeling of his accomplishment washed over him, something else did as well.

Circling around the boulder, Ryska rushed toward the other Padawan, arms spread wide. Colliding with the Mirialan, the Cathar wrapped her hands around Torzin’s shoulders, her feet energetically bouncing off the ground.

“We did it! We freakin’ did it!” Ryska warmly shouted, maintaining her grip around the bewildered Mirialan. Eventually, the Cathar settled down and the two students were left staring into one another’s eyes. Ryska wore a beaming smile, one of accomplishment and pride.

Slowly, a slight curl began to form on Torzin’s lips. “Yeah. I guess we did.”

----------

With Tython’s sun at its highest point, the three Jedi cast little shadows as they made their way back toward the temple. Osetto had finished his lesson for the day, and Ryska was still beaming with the thoughts of her success. Beside her, Torzin maintained a cooler demeanor, concealing whatever feelings rest beneath the surface. As their feet tread upon the winding, unbeaten path, the three Jedi navigated the ridges and hills between them and their home.

A bounce in her step, the Cathar still wore a toothy grin as she walked alongside her master and fellow Padawan. “I can hardly believe we did that! I mean, did you think we could? You didn’t, didn’t you? Hah!”

The Cathar’s enthusiastic words were strung together with nary a pause. Caught up in the moment, she didn’t even realize she had delivered a quick jab of her pumped fist into the Mirialan’s shoulder.

Torzin offered a soft wince, unhurt but nonetheless prompted to rub the spot. “Yes. I suppose it was quite the accomplishment.”

“How could you not be more excited about that?” Ryska blurted out. “A Padawan shows up and starts liftin’ rocks that size, you know what they say? Prodigy!”

“It took the both of us to even get it off the ground,” Torzin patiently reminded. “It was remarkable, but nothing truly beyond belief.”

“Doesn’t stop it from being awesome!” Ryska heartily replied.

Osetto let out a soft chuckle as he continued leading the students back to the temple grounds. “You’d do well to emulate Torzin, my Padawan. A little celebration now and again is fine, but you mustn’t let things go to your head. Pride can be as dangerous as anger or hate.”

“I… of course, master,” Ryska immediately calmed down, dutifully dipping her head.

Looking over his shoulder as he walked, the Miraluka offered a gentle smile. “But you did well, both of you,” Osetto stated. “It is a fine line we walk, the one between confidence and hubris. But I’d not have either of you unable to appreciate your accomplishments. Just let them guide you down a better path. The strength we seek is not to better ourselves, but those around us.”

“I’ll do my best, master,” Ryska enthusiastically declared.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less of you,” Osetto said with a smile. The young Cathar lightly scratched the back of her head, a bashful smile of her own creeping across her face.

“So, is our training over for the day, Master Karrehl?” Torzin patiently asked.

“I believe so, unless Dehros has something planned for you. Though I’d think he’d like to start fresh and early as I did,” Osetto suggested. “And please, you can call me Osetto.”

“Apologies. I only wanted to afford you respect,” Torzin calmly stated with the dip of his head.

“You needn’t call upon rank and title to do so,” Osetto offered with a chuckle. “Plus, I’ve never placed much reverence upon my family name.”

“Me neither,” Ryska glibly stated. “Then again, that might be because I don’t have one.”

“You don’t have a last name?” Torzin curiously asked.

“Nope,” Ryska replied. “A lot of Cathar just have a given name and a clan name. No clan, no last name.”

The Mirialan tilted his head. “Is that common?”

“Nowadays? Yeah, plenty of clanless,” Ryska explained. “We’re kind of a weird people. Some are really close knit. Some fiercely independent.”

“Which would you consider yourself?” asked Torzin.

“Well, I’m somethin’ fierce, I know that,” Ryska replied with a toothy grin.

“Hmm,” Torzin calmly emoted, unfazed by the Cathar’s exuberance.

“What about you?” Ryska asked. “I hear Mirialans are pretty big on their culture.”

“You could say that,” Torzin admitted. “For the most part, our beliefs mesh well with those of the Jedi. Even those outside the Order are more spiritual that most in the galaxy. We belief in a healthy balance of collective fate mixed with individual identity. That’s the purpose of our tattoos. To tell each person’s unique story.”

“Cool,” Ryska offered, suitably engrossed. “What do yours mean?”

The Mirialan turned his head as he walked, giving the Cathar a clearer look. He ran a finger beneath his right cheek, underlining the row of interlocking triangles arranged in a stripe. “This row was for being inducted into the Order.” Torzin then passed his finger across his left cheekbone. “This one was for becoming a Padawan.”

“I see,” Ryska softly said, scratching her chin. “So, what’ll you get when you become a Knight?”

“Likely a matching column upon my forehead,” Torzin explained.

“Uh huh,” Ryska nonchalantly offered. “What about when you become a Jedi Master?”

The Mirialan took a moment before responding. Straightening his gaze, the male Padawan gently looked upon the horizon before him. “It’d be rather presumptuous of me to assume I’ll attain that rank.”

The Cathar playfully jabbed her elbow into Torzin’s side. “Come on, I’m sure you’ll do it someday.”

“You think so?”

“I know so,” Ryska confidently stated. “Right, master?”

The Miraluka let out another chuckle. “I’ll make sure Dehros and I do everything in our power to put you on that path. Both of you.”

“Thank you, Master Osetto,” Torzin offered with a respectful nod.

On the threshold of the temple grounds, the sights and sounds of training students graced the three Jedi’s senses. Instructors guided younglings wielding training sabers. Teachers postulated, surrounded by kneeling students. Beneath the warm glow of the Tython sun, all was calm, even amidst the bustling action of midday lessons and trials.

Walking between makeshift arenas and platforms, Osetto guided the Padawans back to their homes. Beyond the temple’s main structure, past the unfinished construction, the residence halls welcomed the Jedi back to their utilitarian, yet charmingly quaint domiciles. Osetto led his students through the apartment-like complex, passing by sparsely spaced rooms down narrow corridors. The trio finally came to a stop in front of one of the many unassuming doors that populated the hall.

With a firm knock, the Miraluka made his presence known to the inhabitant inside. Patiently standing shoulder to shoulder, the three Jedi weren’t forced to wait long before Dehros opened the door.

“Osetto,” Dehros stoically greeted. “I take it you’ve concluded your lesson.”

“That’s right,” Osetto warmly declared.

“And how did my Padawan do?” asked Dehros.

“Excellent,” Osetto replied. “He really took everything to heart. A model student.”

Behind the Consular, the Mirialan’s head dipped as he tried to maintain a stoic demeanor in the presence of his master.

“I see. That’s good to hear,” Dehros admitted, voice lacking any trace of excitement.

“What about you?” Osetto asked. “You said something about procuring some supplies?”

“Correct.” Without another word, the Human left the trio standing in the doorway as he disappeared back into his domicile. A few moments later, he returned carrying in his hand a training saber. “This one is yours.”

The Guardian thrust the rod’s handle out, urging the Consular to take it. Osetto took a firm grasp, passing his eyeless gaze up and down the sturdy device.

“The Council’s enacted some new regulations regarding lightsabers,” Dehros explained. “Padawans are to construct theirs only once they’ve finished their training. When they’re ready to become Knights.”

The Mirialan’s stance immediately straightened as his eyes grew increasingly wide.

“So they finally made a decision, did they?” Osetto muttered, gently rubbing his chin. Handing the training saber to his Padawan, the Miraluka’s trademark smile was absent from his visage. “I’m sorry, Ryska. Seems you’ll be using this for the foreseeable future.”

Taking the weapon in her hand, the Cathar instantly recognized its familiar heft. The girl’s lips curled into a gentle smile. “Don’t worry, master. I’m more used to these things anyway.”

The warmth slowly returned to the Miraluka’s face as his student clipped the training weapon to her waist. Meanwhile, a look of disappointment overtook the Mirialan’s visage, overwhelming any attempt to hide it.

“I’m sorry, Padawan,” Dehros stoically offered. “I know you had your sights on replacing the one you lost, but-”

“It’s okay, master,” Torzin was finally able to muster. “I understand. I don’t need a lightsaber right now anyway.”

“That’s mature of you to admit,” said Dehros. The Padawan was momentarily consoled by his master’s kind, albeit emotionless, words. Keeping his head raised, Torzin caught Ryska offering her own supporting glance in the corner of his eye. “Well, come on in. You can tell me what you learned today.”

Torzin offered dutiful nod as he stepped into his master’s home, leaving Osetto and Ryska standing in the hallway.

“Have your lesson planned yet?” Osetto warmly asked of his fellow.

“For the most part, yes,” Dehros admitted. “I might make alterations based on today’s lesson. In case you missed anything.”

Osetto released a soft chuckle. “Very funny.”

The Human’s face remained completely deadpan, offering no evidence of whether or not it truly was a joke. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Dehros concluded, softly shutting the door.

The Consular stood motionless, eyeless gaze focused forward. Without a word, he placed a comforting hand upon his Padawan’s shoulder. “Come on. We can meditate on what we’ve learned today.”

Ryska offered a firm nod and the two made their way to the neighboring domicile. Entering Osetto’s home, the master and student had the rest of the day to reflect.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.22.2014 , 03:48 AM | #25
Chapter Twelve: Flow (Part Four)

It was a new morning on Tython. The sun was low and the air carried a pleasant chill. In front of the temple, the fields and platforms went unoccupied aside from a single dueling area. Standing within the practice square were three figures. The ever stoic Human, the determined Mirialan, and a slightly groggy Cathar. Absent was the pleasant Miraluka. It fell to the Guardian to teach the day's lesson.

There were no sounds of gently flowing streams or trees wafting in the breeze. The three Jedi stood upon hard, metallic flooring, one of the smooth, man-made surfaces etched unto the temple's lawn, stocked with a battered and beaten training dummy. If there was an understanding to be achieved that day, it would not come at the behest of nature.

The two Padawans stood as upright as their respective energy levels would allow. Under the dim light of the still-rising sun, each student wore their basic, form-fitting robes of earthen tones. New to the ensembles were the training sabers hooked to their belts. The metallic rods inlaid with energy bands jostled with every shift in the teenagers' stances, heavy and waiting.

"Padawans," Dehros began, soft yet direct, engaging yet distant, not a touch of the Consular's warmth gracing his speech. "If you would, please draw your weapons."

The two students complied alongside a pair of dutiful nods. Wrapping their hands around their weapons' hilts, the Mirialan and Cathar gripped them tightly before brandishing them. Unignited, they stood as simple shapes of metal, tips pointed toward the sky. They rose unwaveringly in their wielders' steady hands, each student utterly capable of controlling their apparent heft.

"Good. Now, set them on the ground. You won't be needing them," Dehros continued, dull as ever.

The Padawans puzzled for a moment. They thought maybe they had misheard, but as the Human's eyes wandered toward their feet it became clear they hadn't. Carefully, the two lowered themselves and set their weapons gently upon the edge of the platform. Straightening their postures, the students looked to their instructor, patiently awaiting his next words.

"We will be picking up where you left off yesterday, applying your knowledge to martial training," Dehros explained. "But before we move forward with saber practice, there are some foundations I want to lay."

With a calm hand, the Guardian beckoned to the Padawans to approach. Taking a step himself, the teacher led the students toward the tiny arena's opposite edge. There stood what appeared to be a humanoid droid chassis, only instead of standing upon legs, it was secured to the ground via a pole embedded in the floor. Inflexible arms sprouted from its matte gray torso, and there was not a spark of life in its eyeless dome.

"To what extent did your previous masters instruct you in the martial arts?" Dehros asked.

"I was entering advanced instruction in Shii-Cho, as well as developing more focused dueling skills," said Torzin.

"I… uh… I was still on basic saber instruction," Ryska quietly revealed, scratching the back of her head.

"I see. What about hand-to-hand combat?" Dehros asked.

"Limited," Torzin admitted. "Mostly as a means of physical conditioning rather than fighting."

"Same," Ryska added. "It was less combat, more active meditation."

"That will suffice. Torzin, please approach the practice dummy," said Dehros, waving his hand toward the metallic figure. The Mirialan complied, taking only a few steps before standing face to face with the target's rigid chassis. "Now, I want you to hit it."

"Hit it how, master?" Torzin hesitantly asked.

"However you feel comfortable doing so," Dehros replied. The Mirialan gulped as he stared toward the unmoving practice dummy. It stood ready to receive whatever he planned to dish out, despite him having no plan.

Torzin drew upon his martial knowledge, shifting his feet, placing one ahead of the other. His stance went rigid, intent on keeping himself utterly grounded. With a another heavy gulp, he clenched his right fist. As he wound back, he paused, questioning how exactly to strike the solid surface before him. Rather than dwell any further, the teenager took a deep breath, exhaling a moment later, finding a moment of relaxation. Driving his hand forward, the Mirialan struck the practice dummy directing in its chest with his palm, eliciting a solid thud. The target offered a brief shiver, but ultimately remained unaffected by the blow. His skin still in contact with the metallic surface, Torzin turned to his master, seeking some form of approval or disapproval.

All he received was a soft nod from the Guardian. "Ryska, would you please do the same?"

Torzin retrieved his hand, taking a few soft steps away from the dummy, his position soon replaced by that of the young Cathar. Staring at the practice dummy, Ryska furrowed her brow, gently biting her lower lip.

"Like, do the same as Torzin?" Ryska asked.

"No, you may hit it however you like," Dehros calmly replied.

The Cathar nodded, an acknowledgement, rather than true understanding. Cracking her knuckles, the girl looked up and down the rigid figure before her. Clenching and releasing her fingers, the Ryska’s movements were far looser than her fellow Padawan’s, limber and flexible. She planted her feet upon the solid ground, before shifting them forward, before shifting them back, before returning them to their initial state. Trying to balance her training with her beastly instincts, the Padawan pondered whether or not to use her claws. Deciding not, the Cathar quickly wound back her right arm before driving it forward with great force.

Her fist clenched, she delivered a brutal punch to the dummy's chest, her knuckles clashing with the metallic surface. A sharp knock rang out and the chassis briefly shook, but it seemed unaffected as it had been before. The same could not be said for Ryska.

Ryska reeled back, clutching her fist as harsh whimpers slipped past her gritted teeth. As she hopped around in place, the Mirialan rushed to her side.

"Are you okay?" Torzin asked, a sense of urgency in his voice. Quickly, the girl's movements began to cease as she calmed herself, still clutching her hand.

"Gah… y…yeah, I'm fine," said Ryska, almost whispering.

"Are you sure?" Torzin continued, still possessing a touch of concern.

"Yeah yeah yeah," Ryska quickly replied, nary a pause between words.

Letting go of her injured hand, the Cathar began clenching and releasing her fingers, no signs of any real damage present. The girl closed her eyes as she drew in calmed breaths, slowly regaining her composure.

However, that composure was instantly shattered when she felt something touch her fingers, prompting a startled jump. Her eyes shooting open, Ryska saw her hand within Torzin's own. As carefully as he could, the Mirialan examined his fellow Padawan’s injuries, gently caressing the girl's fingers as he rotated her wrist. Ryska watched as Torzin's eyes narrowed, scanning each digit with utter focus.

She was speechless. The Mirialan's green flesh poked and prodded her fur with an almost mechanical precision, but she nonetheless felt an emotional depth to his actions. Even as he looked upon her hand through his stoic eyes, there was a sense of care about him. Finally, the silence was broken by the Mirialan releasing quick sigh of relief.

"You're not big on restraint, are you?" Torzin stated, a slight curl in his lips as he released control back to its owner. Ryska's attention immediately left her hand.

She had heard those same exact words before. From other students. From instructors. But they had always held a bite to them. Always negative, always intending to knock her down a peg. But looking to the her fellow Padawan, she found only warmth in his words, in his countenance. He had spoken from a place of support. rather than condemnation.

In control of her hand once more, Ryska began gently rubbing her sore knuckles, a bashful smile creeping upon her face. "Well… like I said, I'm somethin' fierce."

Torzin wore a smile of his own, his previous concern giving way to relief. The entire exchange had lasted only a few seconds, but for them, it felt far from fleeting.

Meanwhile, the stone-faced Dehros continued to look upon them with his unchanging stare. "Are you okay, Ryska?" The Human offered his inquiry in his usual calm, almost cold manner, lacking the apparent concern his Padawan had expressed.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Ryska dismissed with a wave of her hand, trying her hardest to play it cool.

"Well, your displays did illustrate what I hope to teach you today," Dehros revealed.

"Glad I could lend a hand then," Ryska warmly muttered.

"If you'll remember, the first lesson Master Karrehl and I offered to you was in regards to control," Dehros stated. "Most importantly, control of the self. If you can control yourself, you can control your environment. This is a continuation of that principle, coupled with yesterday's lesson regarding the Force. Can one of you summarize what Master Karrehl taught you the other day?"

"The Force flows," Torzin spoke up.

"Not only that, but pretty much everything does," Ryska added. "Or rather, the Force flows through and around everything."

"Precisely," said Dehros. "Most importantly, the Force flows through us. And it is the union between body and spirit that unblocks that flow."

The Guardian paused before gently urging the students to take a step back. As they did, the Jedi soon took his place in front of the practice dummy. The teenagers watched through eager eyes as their tutor readied himself. His feet slid upon the ground, never breaking contact. His hands moved with both speed and grace. With not even a fraction of the forethought and attention the Padawans had put into their strike, Dehros pulled back his hand before driving his open palm into the dummy's chest. The flesh and metal met, releasing a resounding thud upon contact. The solid chassis shook to its very core, wobbling upon the pole that connected to the ground. As the two teenagers watched in amazement, they could have sworn they felt the very platform they stood upon vibrate beneath their feet.

Dehros removed his hand just as quickly as he had delivered it, no worse for wear. Without an ounce of effort or preparation, the Guardian had demonstrably surpassed the efforts of the students by an exponential margin.

"A Jedi is whole," Dehros declared. "Every part of us works in unison and in harmony. As your training progresses, you will begin to break down the barriers between body, mind, and spirit, until they are no longer exclusive to one another. Then, and only then, can the Force be allowed to truly flow through you."

"And how do we break down those barriers?" asked Torzin.

"Practice and persistence," Dehros listed, echoing the words the students had heard from yesterday. "One cannot proceed without achieving understanding, and understanding can only be achieved through study."

Ryska tilted her head. "So, like, reading a holo… or…"

"No," Dehros bluntly offered, taking a step away from the practice dummy. "Please, take your positions on opposite ends of the arena."

Slowly, Torzin and Ryska made their way toward each end of the dueling square, bouncing their gazes between themselves and their instructor. Dehros patiently remained in the center between the two, arms neatly folded behind his back. There was a stillness and calm in the air as the temperate morning surrounding them.

"This lesson is about motion," Dehros declared. "Kinetics are an integral part of Force usage for anyone, even Jedi Masters. The motions of our bodies, our hands, allow us to more freely allow the Force to flow through us. Would you both please take a single step toward each other?"

The Padawans offered a brief nod before extending their legs, each taking a single step forward. The Mirialan's was brief and rigid. The Cathar's was wide, almost upsetting her balance as she tried to overstep her reach.

"Now, take a single step backward."

The students complied, keeping their focus forward, but reaching back with their legs, each taking a step toward their starting point.

"Now, take a single step forward."

The teenagers offered no protests, knowing in their hearts that the meager commands were undoubtedly leading to something. The Mirialan and Cathar each took another step forward, similar to their first ones.

"Now, tell me, are you in the same place you were in after taking your first step?" Dehros asked.

"Yeah," Ryska bluntly answered.

"Are you really?" Dehros countered.

"I mean… pretty much," Ryska softly replied, slightly furrowing her brow. The Cathar's gaze dropped to her feet, surveying the square tiles beneath her feet. Only now did she notice the grid-like design that comprised the platform's surface.

"A Jedi must always be aware of their boundaries and motions," Dehros explained. "Every action you take, must be conscious and replicable. To move without thinking is dangerous to anyone not guided by the Force."

"Are we not guided by the Force?" Torzin humbly offered.

"In a manner of speaking, yes. But as Padawans, your connection is still tenuous," Dehros stated. "Eventually, you will reach a point in which the Force fuels your every action, where you need not consciously call upon it."

"But you just said we always need to be conscious of our actions," Ryska spoke up.

"That is correct," Dehros replied. "We must always be cognizant of ourselves, but we must also achieve a natural symbiosis with the Force. The more we separate ourselves from the Force, the more we consider it some unnatural part of us that must be called upon, the weaker our connection to it becomes. Thus, we must achieve balance between conscious effort and natural conditioning."

"How do we know when we've found that balance?" asked Torzin.

"Most often, we don't," Dehros admitted. "But we strive nonetheless. To attain that balance is to allow the Force to best flow through us."

"How do we work toward that balance?" Ryska asked.

"By understanding the connection between our bodies as the Force," Dehros replied. "Tell me, how do we channel the Force? If you wanted to lift a rock, how do you do so?"

"Through concentration and focus," Torzin answered.

"But what is it that we physically do?" Dehros continued.

"Well, we think really hard," Ryska stated. "We just… like… think about moving something, and if we do it hard enough, it moves."

"And that is all?" Dehros asked. "You just stand there, arms folded, and just will that something be moved?"

"Well, no," Ryska admitted. "We reach out, move our hands…"

"And why do we do that?" Dehros asked.

"It help us visualize our actions," Torzin answered. "It lets us channel the Force by providing a proper channel. With our minds alone, we struggle to maintain focus and lose consistency."

Dehros offered the slight dip of his head. "Very good, my Padawan. What I hope to teach you today, is that this fact extends to martial training. When you swing a weapon, it is not by the merit of just your arms. Your entire body's movements influence that swing. And for a Jedi, it is not just your body. The Force flows around and through us. It affects our senses. It affects our strength and endurance. It protects us through wards and barriers. In countless ways it influences us, and we influence it… and that is why we cannot limit ourselves to conscious interactions. To manually call upon the Force in all of these facets is impossible for even the greatest Jedi. Instead, we seek to embrace the Force in such a way that our connection and understanding deepens, and we allow the Force to guide us rather than seek to control it."

The Padawans offered mutual nods of understanding.

"Now, would you both please take another step forward?" Dehros directed.

The students steadied themselves, observing the grounds in front of them, offering a moment of consideration before lifting their legs. Carefully, the Padawans extended their limbs before setting them down with precision a short distance ahead. A moment later, they received the command to step backward. With the same caution and patience, the students stepped back toward their point of origin. Hearing the call for the next step forward, the teenagers looked upon the paneled flooring in front of them, running the motions through their minds. With another cautious step, the pair put every effort toward planting their feet in the same exact spot as before.

"Tell, me, are you in the same spot as the first step?" Dehros asked.

"Yes," Ryska enthusiastically answered. Across from her, Torzin offered his own confident nod.

"I see, but this time you valued precision above all else," Dehros stated. "You sacrificed speed and stability. One must balance these elements. No action should exist in isolation. Preparation, execution, and follow-up should blend into one cohesive motion."

As the Guardian fell silent, he took a gentle step forward, bending his knee as the sole of his foot made contact with the ground. Leaning forward for but a moment, the Jedi reversed his movement with a continuous flow, falling back upon his heels as he stepped backward. As his feet remained in contact with the solid surface, the Human's hands softly swayed and followed their owner's movements. Taking another step forward, the Jedi ended his motion balanced upon a single foot, his other raised and tucked in whilst his arms folded behind his back. With nary a shake in his entire frame, the Guardian stood tall and enduring upon one leg, maintaining his posture without an ounce of effort.

Upholding his balance, the Jedi's hands emerged from behind his back, his right possessing a silver hilt within its grasp. With a smooth flick of his wrist, the Guardian ignited his weapon, and a blue blade extended from the lightsaber's emitter parallel with his outstretched arm. All the while, Dehros' lower body remained utterly stilled. With a smooth arc, the Jedi brought his saber arm in closer, holding it in front of his chest, pointing the weapon's tip toward the sky. His face basking in the glow of the remarkably close beam of plasma, the Human's expression maintained its relentless stoicism. Lowering his raised leg, the Guardian once more stood upon two feet. Wrapping his other hand around the silver hilt of his saber, Dehros shifted the blade to the right, seamlessly moving into a guarded combat stance.

Sliding his feet upon the solid surface below, the calm Guardian presented himself as a paragon of martial skill in the eyes of the Padawans, who looked upon their instructor with a sense of interest and awe. Their eyes grew wide as they watched Dehros leap backward, soaring gently through the air before landing lightly on his feet toward one of the practice square's edges. Had he overshot by the slightest degree, he would have caught the lip and fell onto the surrounding dirt. But his movements were are as calculated as they were natural.

With a safe distance between himself and his students, Dehros raised his arms before bring bringing them back down with a swift swipe. Before the lightsaber's arc had concluded, it was already on the move again, turning and cutting the air with strength and grace. The Guardian continued, stepping and slashing with an equal showing of flash and substance, wide swings coupled with swift deflections. Watching the Human move, it became evident where Dehros had invested his time and effort. The title of Guardian was well earned.

The Jedi manipulated his weapon as easily he would a part of his own body, its burning length never once out of sync with his own movements. Any errant motion, any miscalculated endeavor, could have spelled disaster. But the Human seemed incapable of such. Even as the figure's gently flowing robes trailed his every movement, not a single fiber lay in danger of being singed. Even as the heated blade swung high and low, the grounds beneath the Jedi went unburdened by scuffs and scorches.

As Torzin and Ryska watched the martial dance unfold, it felt as if the wind was blowing in accordance with Dehros' movements. With careful study, they began to realize the swift breezes they felt following each swipe of the blade were an extension of the Force. As limited the lightsaber was in length, each swing that cut the air sent a current of wind powerful enough to cross the entire arena. All the while, the Guardian continued to move through seamless actions.

When the end finally did come, it was not with a bang or a flourish, but a gentle winding down as Dehros planted his feet. The final swipe of his blade carried no follow through, coming to a swift halt in accordance with the owner's will. And with a gentle flick of his wrist, the lightsaber powered down, its blue blade disappearing back into its hilt. Returning the weapon to his belt, the Guardian left his almost trance-like state, to see his students looking upon him with energized glints in their wide eyes.

"Lightsaber combat is designed around motion," Dehros detailed. "Its weapon lacks the burden of weight. Its wielder lacks the burden of limitation. A lightsaber acts as no other sword can. A Jedi acts as no other swordsperson can. With each motion, there is unity between the Jedi, their lightsaber, and the Force. What others may view as flash is our substance. Our grace, our every flourish, is us deepening the connection between our bodies and our spirits. We do not swing a blade just to swing a blade, we do so to channel the Force. Your reach does not end at the tip of your fist. It does not end at the tip of your blade. Your reach is what you allow it to be. Do you understand?"

Torzin and Ryska offered a pair of enthusiastic, determined nods.

"Good. Then let us continue," Dehros declared.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Hiddenman's Avatar


Hiddenman
02.22.2014 , 06:35 AM | #26
I'm really enjoying this! Keep going I would love to read more!!!

Am I sensing some "forbidden" feelings between the Padawans? I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.
Ace Squadron -Defenders of peace

A jedi does whats right, not what he thinks is right!

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.25.2014 , 06:22 PM | #27
Chapter Thirteen: Flow (Part Five)


In the center of the dueling square, the trio of master and students had formed a rough, but close-knit circle, each standing within arm's reach. Dehros, Torzin, and Ryska each stood resolute as morning turned to day, and more and more of their kind began to populate the surrounding grounds. In all directions, the silence had given way to the gentle rumblings of budding trainees working under the guidance of their instructors. But it would have no effect on the Guardian's lesson. The small arena was isolated in his mind, as well as the minds of his students.

"The Force is about flow. Combat is about flow,” Dehros explained. “Understanding as much is paramount to understanding what it truly means to be a Jedi. But to understand the Force, to understand flow, we must first recognize it, even where it appears to not exist."

"But it does exist, right?" Ryska offered with the slight tilt of her head. "It's just a matter of whether we or not perceive it?"

"Correct," Dehros replied. "The Force exists in all things, organic or otherwise. It merely manifests itself in countless ways. Some unrecognizable to even the most learned Jedi. But I'll leave such musings to Master Karrehl. I've still much to teach you in the ways of combat."

The Padawans offered a pair of firm nods.

"We're ready to learn, master," Torzin declared.

"Of that, I've no doubt," Dehros stated. "Recall that lightsaber combat revolves around motion. And yet, we all know what happens when two blades meet. What's important is that you realize that the absence of motion is not the absence of flow."

"Oh!" Ryska perked up. "Osetto taught us this yesterday. It's like how a sitting rock isn't just a sitting rock, right?"

"That's right, Padawan," Dehros confirmed. "Nothing exists in isolation. For every action, there is a reaction. And many times, they wind up cancelling each other out. But for Jedi, this is not an end, merely an alternative path. When our blades stop, we do not. When our fists meet durasteel, we are not limited by our flesh. The Force bolsters us, but it is not limited to our being. But neither is our reach extended only through distant pushes and pulls. To maximize our skills in melee combat, we must focus on the point of contact."

"I take it that's what you did with the training dummy," Ryska suggested.

"Correct," Dehros answered. "Channeling the Force at the proper moment can improve your attacks as well as your defenses. Done properly, it can maximize or completely nullify damage. Taken to the extreme, it can allow you to break the unbreakable. Master Joren once referred to the skill as Force Resonance."

"It almost sounds like manipulating shatterpoints," Torzin muttered. "But I thought only the greatest Jedi could do that."

The Cathar tilted her head. "Shatterpoints?”

"A shatterpoint is like a fracture in the Force," Dehros explained. "Critical faults that, if acted upon, could totally unravel whatever they exist in. But they are not just limited to objects, nor do they always pertain to combat. They exist in people, places, even events. Perceiving them rests beyond the capabilities of most Jedi, even the Masters. What I aim to teach is something even Padawans such as yourselves can utilize. More application. Less divination."

"How do we learn this skill?" Torzin asked.

"Like all else, with practice," Dehros stated. "With time, you will learn to continue when all else tells you that you cannot. But that does not mean that you can forget how to stop. In fact, it is imperative that you always remember how."

"Absence of motion is not the absence of flow," Torzin recalled.

"Precisely," Dehros replied. "Knowing how and when to stop is as much a key detail in lightsaber combat as any other."

"Because otherwise, we wind up missing a finger or two, right?" Ryska joked, cracking a smile.

"Right," Dehros offered, completely deadpan. The Cathar's smile faded as she pursed her lips. She knew that would have gotten at least a chuckle out of her Master. The Guardian took a step back before widening his stance, planting his feet on the sturdy ground. Extending his right arm, the teacher displayed his open palm to the two Padawans. "I would like one of you to punch my hand. Just like you did with the training dummy."

"Just like we did with the training dummy?" Ryska repeated, unsure.

"You needn't hold back on my account," Dehros calmly stated, still holding out his raised palm. "And I assure you, I offer far less resistance than the dummy."

The students looked to one another, neither sure of their tutor’s direction. Osetto's lessons had only dealt with water and rocks. There was still a measure of discomfort when forced to interact with another living being. In the years prior, lessons had always come at the words of teachers seated behind desks. Anything done in the field was limited to training and conditioning. To have the classroom moved to the dueling squares was a peculiarity hard fought in the Padawans’ minds. But they could not argue the results thus far. Nor could they argue with their respective masters' displays.

"I'll go first," Torzin declared, taking the initiative once again.

Ryska offered a gentle nod, taking a step away and giving the Mirialan some room. The male student and his master shared a brief look, the Guardian maintaining his unwavering resolve as well as his uncompromising stoicism.

Dehros continued to politely offer Torzin his raised, flattened palm. The Padawan shifted his stance. Learning from his previous attempt with the dummy, the Mirialan balanced thought with instinct, moving neither too fast nor too slow. With a calm mind, the Padawan pulled his arm back, balling his fist, before promptly delivering it straight into his master's waiting palm.

Flesh impacted against flesh, with a soft slapping sound ringing out. The Guardian showed no signs of budging, absorbing the blow in its entirety. As the master and student remained in contact, Dehros remained utterly calm and composed. Torzin, meanwhile, felt a shiver run down his entire arm, continuing deep into his core. It wasn't a feeling of pain, but it consumed the senses nonetheless. Withdrawing his hand, the student received a patient nod from the Guardian.

"Very good," Dehros emotionlessly offered. "Now, try again. Only this time, do not make contact. Try to get as close as you can without touching."

"Without sacrificing speed or power, right? Torzin suggested.

"Correct," Dehros replied. "Balance and control are foundations of being a Jedi. Anyone can throw a punch or swing a blade. Many still can choose to do nothing. It takes effort to start and stop before any damage is done. This type of conditioning strengthens the union between the body and mind. Cultivate it, and many more avenues of instruction open up. Are you ready?"

Torzin offered a confident nod. Winding his arm back, the Mirialan took careful aim at his master's still-raised palm. Taking a series of calm breaths, the Padawan found his center before throwing his fist forward. The student's punch cut through the air, only slightly diminished compared to its predecessor. After the briefest of moments, the Mirialan's green fist came to a stop, a sizable gap separating the two Jedi's hands. Backing away, Torzin readied himself for another attempt, reaffirming his stance as he drew his hand back. He released another punch, this time stopping closer to his master's palm.

The Padawan tried again and again, inching ever closer with each attempt, never truly making contact. His motions were a mixture of starts and stops, each flowing into the other despite their disparate movements. Each punch was thrown and released without any semblance of effort, but stopping them before they could strike absorbed the Padawan's attention. It required calculation, for a wandering mind would have resulted in failure.

But he would not fail. With each attempt, with each throw of his clenched hand, the student drew closer and closer, until only a sliver of air separating his fist from his master's palm. Pausing for a moment, Torzin looked Dehros in the eyes, receiving a subtle look of approval.

"Fine work, Padawan," Dehros calmly stated. "Now let Ryska try."

"Of course, master," Torzin dutifully replied, backing away with a brief bow of his head. Taking the Mirialan's place, the Cathar maneuvered herself in front of the waiting Guardian.

Ryska studied the Human's open palm, biting her lip with a look of hesitation. "Should I try to not hit it on my first try, or…"

"You should throw a normal punch," Dehros instructed. "That will allow you to calibrate subsequent attempts. Remember. Knowledge is knowledge. Experience is experience. From every action we take, there is something to learn."

The Cathar gave a quick nod, planting her feet upon the solid ground as she readied her first strike. With a deep breath, she clenched her fist, drew it back, and drove it forward. Her knuckles impacted against the Human's palm, releasing the same slapping sound as Torzin's blow. Also similar was the shiver than ran down her arm and into her chest when her fist came to a sudden stop. Meanwhile, Dehros maintained his constant stance and demeanor.

Retrieving her hand, Ryska prepared for her next punch. She recalled her first strike, remembering her precise motions. Reach. Speed. Arc. Each component had something to tell, and compiling them would no doubt provide a sufficient answer. Proper calculation, however, seemed just beyond the young Jedi's capabilities. But she would not allow herself to be deterred.

As her fingers clenched tighter and tighter, the Cathar called upon the knowledge she possessed. Drawing her hand back, she took in a deep breath, releasing it as she drove her fist forward. It's journey was fast and brief, coming to stop in a matter of moments. And not entirely of its own accord. Despite her best efforts, Ryska fist only came to a stop after lightly pressing into the Guardian's awaiting palm. Retrieving her hand, the Cathar scratched the back of her head in embarrassment, forcing a soft chuckle.

"I guess this is why you wanted us to use our hands instead of our training sabers," Ryska joked.

"You guess correctly," Dehros bluntly replied, completely deadpan. Once more the Cathar's smile faded. Only this time, it was accompanied by a drop in her shoulders, and a dip of her head. "Do not be discouraged. Try again."

The Padawan recovered as well as she could, shifting her stance for her second attempt. She tried clearing her mind, standing upright as she readied another punch, but there was something missing. Biting her lip, she felt almost everything slip away. Every lesson, every instruction, she was left frozen in place with nothing to call upon. Looking to the Human, he offered no support, only his usual cold stare. Looking to the Mirialan, however, yielded far greater results.

Torzin carried a determination in his green eyes. One not entirely selfish. It spoke of his own efforts, but those of his fellow student as well. It spoke of belief.

Clenching her fist, Ryska stared at the Guardian's palm with renewed vigor. She would not admit defeat. Emulating Torzin, the Padawan let herself be guided by instincts, throwing a punch but stopping it with a sizable distance between her fist and the target. She repeated herself, throwing punch after punch, inching closer and closer to the Human's open palm.

With each attempt, she drew closer, until finally, the pale-brown fur atop her knuckles lightly touched the Human's skin. Holding her fist in place, she looked up to receive a single nod of approval from the stoic Guardian.

"Very good, Padawan," Dehros offered.

"Thank you, master," said Ryska alongside with a nod of her own, backing away to stand beside Torzin.

The Human's words warmed the young Cathar, but they paled in comparison to the swell of pride she received by looking at the Mirialan. Torzin offered a gentle smile, an acknowledgement of her deeds. She had known success, and her success had been known. Locking eyes with her fellow Padawan, the girl lightly scratched the back of her head, cracking an embarrassed, but appreciative, smile.

"You both did well today," Dehros spoke up. "It's obvious you've taken your Masters' words to heart. The foundations have been set. From here, we can continue on to more advanced lessons."

"We're ready," the Padawans said in unison.
-------------------- The Fan Fiction Index --------------------

Osetto's Avatar


Osetto
02.28.2014 , 02:20 PM | #28
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Osetto
03.08.2014 , 07:00 PM | #29
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Osetto
03.13.2014 , 05:42 PM | #30
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