Self Made

Dec. 2nd, 2011 10:26 pm
[personal profile] hwrnmnbsol
DmHur looked up from his meditations. Iorani, his Padawan, stood in the doorway. DmHur smiled, the mobile feelers around his lips twitching. "Then you have completed the project?" he asked.

Iorani hesitated. She had been with the Jedi Master for three years. She knew that he was often kind, but was equally likely to be stern, irascible – especially when he was displeased with her progress. Iorani sensed the importance of the assignment she had been given, and knew that this must represent some kind of test. That was the part she loathed about Jedi training: all the damnable tests.

"I did my best, master," she said fearfully. DmHur raised a mauve finger.

"That is a tautology," he chided. "You did what you did, and did not do what you did not. 'What you did' represents a set of one, and therefore is both your best and your worst work."

Iorani bruised her mind on that koan for a few moments before trying again. "Master, I have never considered myself a builder," she said, "but I have nevertheless made a lightsaber."

"Then you have done well," DmHur said agreeably. "Let me inspect it."

Iorani handed the long tube to her master. She was ashamed of the scratched surface and the crudely screwed-together halves of the casing. "I don't even know if it works," she admitted.

DmHur's webbed hands brushed over the surfaces of the lightsaber, and the parts came apart in his hands. He peered into the innards of the weapon. What he saw didn't look like the inside of any kind of high-technology device. There were a number of loose screws rattling around; some pieces of loose wire, inexpertly twisted together and not connected to any power source; plastic bits that seemed to have been jammed into place; and even, DmHur was reasonably certain, an apple core down at the bottom.

DmHur waved his hand again, and the lightsaber buttoned itself back up. "I'm certain it will work fine," he said confidently, handing it back to his pleased pupil. "We should test it out, no?"

"Then I built it properly? The Force must have guided me!" Iorani said excitedly as she and the Jedi Knight walked out into the meadow. "I mean, I had no idea at all what the inside of a lightsaber looked like. I've only seen yours and never held it."

"You absolutely built it properly," DmHur said, "and yes, the Force played a role, as it always does, especially for those in whom that power is exceptionally strong."

"How does that work, exactly?" Iorani begged, struggling to keep up with the long-legged Shimurebbi. "Did the midichlorians in my brain alter my neural impulses….?"

"Ah!" said DmHur sharply, his ire suddenly aroused, and he rounded on Iorani, who recoiled in terror. DmHur shook a remonstrative finger.

"We do not explain things in that way," he scolded Iorani. "A small subset of Jedi believe in the midichlorian model. I am being generous in the extreme when I say they are merely misguided. Do not listen to any Padawans who attempt to espouse such nonsense. Remain respectful to any Jedi who do the same, but take anything they say with a grain of salt. Idiots." DmHur shook his head, his tendrils whipping about, before resuming his march towards the training clearing. After a short uncertain pause, Iorani followed him, jogging to keep up.

"Then how…" she began.

"The Force," instructed DmHur, more calmly this time, "is not separate and distinct from the things around us. It is the matrix upon which the universe is superimposed. It is wrong to think of the Force as something different from us, that can influence us remotely. The Force cannot cause you to build a lightsaber, no more than the sea can cause a wave to crash on the shore. Wave and sea are all one."

"I think I see," said Iorani. "The lightsaber arose out of the Force, and I was just the intermediary for building it."

"That's not too bad," said DmHur. "More accurate would be to say that you and the lightsaber are both parts of the Force, and your mutual relationship with the Force brought you all together." He stopped in the middle of the training clearing. The grass was only knee-high here, and none of the myriad insects were of the stinging kind. "This is as good a place as any," the Shumurebbi sniffed. "Adopt the dueling stance as you rehearsed with the Fighting Master, and we'll turn your lightsaber on."

"Ah," said Iorani awkwardly. "Well, the thing is, my lightsaber doesn't have an on switch." She began to turn pink, expecting DmHur to shout or mock her.

"I see," DmHur said. "Why do you think that is?"

"I don't know," Iorani answered reluctantly. "I guess I didn't think of it."

"Or," suggested DmHur, "it didn't need one. Lightsabers aren't all the same, you know. Every Jedi builds their own, and every lightsaber is different. Perhaps the absence of an on switch is part of this lightsaber's template of construction."

"Oh," said Iorani. "So, if it doesn't have anything to turn it on, how do I…?"

"Iorani," said DmHur wearily, "whenever you ask a question beginning with 'how do I', what is the answer?"

"Use the Force," answered Iorani in a monotone.

"Use the Force," echoed DmHur. "I wonder if you have ever asked yourself why it is only Jedi who use lightsabers?"

"I dunno," said Iorani. "I guess I thought that compared to blasters, it's a pretty silly weapon unless you can Force it up somehow."

"Crudely put, but yes," admitted DmHur grudgingly. "Without the Force, a lightsaber would be useless." He assumed the stance opposite Iorani and drew his weapon. DmHur closed his wine-dark eyes.

"Observe," he said, his voice seeming to come from very far away.

With a hum, a sea-green beam of light rose from his weapon. A meter and a half of glowing energy hung in the air. DmHur spun the lightsaber around his forearm, caught it in his left hand, spun it around that forearm, and so on and so forth, creating a figure-eight pattern around him. Iorani watched, mesmerized.

"I must tell you about the Skywalker, from long ago," said DmHur, his voice dreamy. "The Skywalker was a natural builder and also a natural manipulator. As a boy he could make anything. Making a lightsaber came as easily to him as walking or talking, and using it came naturally too. His son was much the same. But other Jedi, those whose gifts do not lie in such areas, still succeed in making and using lightsabers. Why?"

"Because the Force is strong in them?" asked Iorani.

"Because the lightsaber," said DmHur, "is just a tool." He ceased his exercise and powered down his weapon. He reached out and thumped Iorani in the chest.

"The blade," he said, "is in here. You must make it come out. The position, please."

Iorani spread her feet and bent her knees. She gripped the long cylinder of the lightsaber in both hands and closed her eyes. "There you are," said DmHur. "Feel the blade. Imagine it is inside the handle, and you only need to concentrate to make it come out. The Skywalker did this without thinking about it; nobody told him it was hard. You and I are not so gifted – but, nevertheless, we are gifted enough. The blade, Iorani."

Iorani concentrated. She imagined a pure white beam emerging from the grip. She tried to force it out, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. She listened for the characteristic static hum, but it never came.

"You are trying too hard," DmHur advised. "Don't bear down with your mind; relax it. You cannot force the lightsaber to work; you can only enable it."

Iorani sweated. How do you concentrate less? She was keenly aware that she was failing this test, perhaps terminally. She could not fail, could not go home empty-handed….

"Do not think negative thoughts," DmHur commanded. "Clear your mind and start again. Come from an empty place, and let your mind soar."

Her mind didn't want to soar. Iorani became agitated. How could her mind soar in the face of failure? She would never be a Jedi. She would be sent home, back to Burdeen again, on the edge of civilized space, and she would have to continue to watch bandits ravage and destroy her people and her planet. A Jedi could stop them. A Jedi could fight, could beat them back, perhaps even could bring the fight to them…

"All right," said DmHur in alarm, "this is not productive. Let us take a short break…."

FZZZHHHUUUUMM. Iorani binked hot sweat out of her eyes. The beam – HER beam – protruded from her lightsaber, the grip vibrating in her hands. She waved it in the air a little; its ionization echoes thrilled Iorani. She laughed a little. "Master!" she cried joyfully. "Look!"

DmHur swallowed, his dark alien eyes gazing inscrutably at the blood-red beam. "Yes," he said neutrally. "I see."



September 2012

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