As the sun was rising on the Jedi temple of Yavin VIII, a rhythmic series of staccato sounds could be heard coming from one of the rooms of the training dojo. A lone figure clad in black canvas pants and boots occupied the room and could be seen bobbing and weaving his way around a heavy bag firing off multi punch combinations. While the movements didn't follow a predetermined pattern, it was obvious to even a casual observer that the each movement had been meticulously trained so that they came together fluidly and transitioned just as smoothly into the next combination. Dash was sweating profusely and beads of sweat had saturated the floor around him, he didn't know how long he'd been here as he was lost in the movement. As he ducked and slid to his left, Dash struck the bag with a three punch combo... two left jabs and a right cross and then he stopped abruptly to look at the knuckles on his right hand. Despite his hands being bound in heavy wraps, a thin line of blood could be seen across the his knuckles. Nothing serious, but a good indication that it was time to take a break.
Dash walked across the room to where the bag with his belongings sat on a bench. He pulled a towel from the bag and wiped the sweat from his face and dried his torso. He threw the towel over his shoulder as he proceeded to unwrap his hands. Dash left the wraps in a pile on the floor beside the bench and took a closer look at his right hand, as suspect he'd simply broken the skin across the knuckles of his middle and ring fingers. Dash pulled a bottle of water from the bag and poured some over his knuckles to rinse the blood away before taking a long drink from the bottle. Dash took his towel and applied pressure to his knuckles until the bleeding stopped, he then added the towel to the pile with his hand wraps. He pulled a light weight long sleeved gray hooded shirt from his bag, put it on and pulled the sleeves up to his elbows. He took a seat on the bench and took another long swig of water. It was only now that Dash noticed someone watching him. He wasn't sure how long she'd been here or how much she'd seen, but for some reason he wasn't unsettled by this person's unannounced arrival.
The Jedi Master sat at the desk in her quarters, crafting the latest entry in her research journal. Her recent travels had uncovered minute fragments from a set of ancient stones that were once used as a powerful meditation tool. Although their weight was a mere fraction of what it once was, the stone fragments still provided an interesting challenge during training. She smiled as she recalled the Padawans she had guided over the years. Each one walking the path of the Light and serving the best interests of the Order. Her smile slowly faded as she reflected on the lack of Jedi presence in the Temple as of late. So many had been called away due to personal matters that required their attention. It was Master Rendahl's hope that they would return as soon as they could and that there was balance once again in the galaxy.
Her thoughts were interrupted as her commpad beeped and alerted her to the newest Padawan's presence in the dojo. Jedi Master Rendahl's smile returned as she rose from the chair and donned her traditional brown Jedi robes. Holding the highest formal rank in the New Jedi Order, Jedi Master Rendahl chose to lead by example and show complete devotion, skill, and balance in the ways of the Force. Her Padawans would receive her masterful attention to detail as she guided them in the Light.
Walking the short distance from her quarters to the dojo, she saw Jedi Padawan Malo seated on the bench and approached him, giving a traditional Jedi bow in greeting.
"Hello, Jedi Padawan Dash Malo. I am Jedi Master Tessa Rendahl and will be instructing you in the ways of the Light side of the Force as well as lightsaber construction and combat. Were you able to get settled into your quarters?"
She smiled at him.
Dash watched as the woman approached, there was an ease to her gait that belied the obvious skill that came with her position. As she introduced herself, Dash stood from the bench and extended his hand in greeting.
"Pleasure to meet you Master Rendahl. Thank you, yes I feel like I've settled in nicely to the quarters. Best sleep I've had in quite some time." He said with a genuine smile.
The padawan was eager to begin his training. As a fighter, the training to prepare for each fight had provided a structure to his days which brought him a sense of peace within the chaos that made up his life over the last six months. Leaving that life had been an obvious decision that had to be made, but it had also set him adrift without a clear path before him.
Master Rendahl smiled and nodded.
"I am glad to hear that you are well rested. It is essential to be of sound mind and body as you embark upon the path of the Light. I have designed your training to cover Jedi philosophy, Force powers, and lightsaber construction. An understanding of what it means to be a Jedi provides for a strong foundation of all learning and is a crucial stepping stone to achieving true enlightenment in the path of the Light side."
Jedi Master Rendahl walked over to a small pile of stones located at the side of the training area and then turned back to face him.
"Becoming a Jedi requires time and commitment. There are ideal traits and qualities that a Jedi inherently possesses."
As she extended her hand to gesture toward the stones, he noticed that each stone had writing on it. As the Jedi Master began to speak, one by one, the stones were levitated into the air and began to form a small brick wall to the side of her with each brick and its writing being displayed for the Padawan to see.
"Your first task is before you. Choose five terms from the stones that you feel best describes what it means to be a guardian of peace in the galaxy and explain each of your choices in detail. Please make note, not all of the words you are shown will depict the qualities found in a Jedi. Some are warning signs of Dark Side tendencies and it is up to you to look to the wisdom of the Light side of the Force to choose your answers wisely. Please begin when you are ready."
As she finished speaking, the last of the stones floated into place. The following terms were displayed as the letters of each stone shimmered iridescently for a brief moment as the light of the day continued to fill the room (impulse, compassion, character, defend, aggression, respect, harmony, discipline, knowledge, control, fear, warrior, noble, attack, protect, anger, hunt, strength, kill, honor).
Dash watched as the Jedi master moved stones into place forming a word wall before him. He listened intently to the instructions and once he'd be given the go ahead, he began reading though the terms before him. As he read through the words, he found his thoughts drawn to him late mother. DM knew that his mother had been a Jedi before the empire and as he was reading the words, certain ones that described her jumped out to him. He wasn't sure if this was the wisdom of the light side of the Force that Master Rendahl was talking about, but if there was anyone who embodied the characteristics of a guardian of the peace then it was his mother.
"Respect, harmony, discipline, honor and compassion." Dash began. "The first four dictate what you should while compassion dictates the why which may ultimately be more important. Respect is a foundational characteristic, without it people tend to act rashly in their own best interests, and not in ways that will benefit the most people the most. Harmony speaks to a level of peace... not of mind but of soul... which allows one to have a steady base from which to act. Discipline governs a person's daily life and allows them to do what they are supposed to do and uphold their commitments long after the emotion that drove a decision has passed. Honor is less tangible, but without it our Order will have no grounds for support throughout the galaxy. But compassion... it is the heart of all things without it people are no better than droids, it sparks faith and hope in those that we serve. In a world of right and wrong... light and dark... if we cannot perform right and light with compassion, then why are we doing it?" The final words were not his own... he'd heard that rhetorical question often as a child.
"Forgive me Master Rendahl. I feel I may have misspoken, I do not intend to say that doing the right thing should be governed solely on compassion... more that if we cannot look at a problem with compassion for those involved, how are we to accurately weigh the consequences of our choices."
The Jedi Master listened closely as he spoke and then nodded in approval.
"Indeed. Compassion is the beacon that guides our actions and those actions do have consequences. You have chosen terms befitting of an honorable Jedi. Well done. Let us continue at this time with meditation. This is a critical component as it provides additional understanding of the general beliefs and concepts of the Jedi way of life, as well as enlightenment on one's inner peace. Conditioning ourselves to allow the Force to flow through us like a conduit requires mental balance, and our mental state is the key to opening the uses of the Force. Establishing a meditative technique and practicing meditation daily strengthens one's mind and attunement to the Light Side."
The Jedi Master walked over to the tall window and gazed outside at the picturesque mountainside.
"For some, meditation comes from standing outside in a remote location where one can be alone with their thoughts. For others, sitting in a quiet room with their eyes closed is the best method to achieve complete inner peace and tranquility. The most important part in establishing a meditative technique that works best for you is to cleanse the immediate environment of negative influences. Some prefer to enter a trance-like state where they focus on their own heartbeat and breathing. Others choose to focus on a mental or physical object to achieve the optimum state of attunement with the Force."
She turned and walked back toward him before speaking once more.
"At this time, I would like for you to try both methods of meditation. First, relax and feel the energy flow through you. Next, try and focus your energy on a mental or physical object to feel the connection through this object. The objective of this exercise is for you to realize the purpose and importance of meditation as well as find the best way for you to meditate. And finally, to demonstrate the importance of practicing your meditation daily to become more in tune with the wisdom of the Force. You may begin when you are ready."
Dash had some experience with meditation, though not at the level which the Master was speaking of. As a fighter, he understood the importance of centering your mind and emotions in order to physically perform at the highest level. The man shifted his weight and placed his feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart while placing his hands behind his back with the right hand loosely gripping the left wrist. DM closed his eyes and began to breathe rhythmically in through his nose and out through his mouth while holding each breath for an extended count. After a couple of minutes he could feel the muscles in his body relax with the infusion of oxygen that his deliberate breathing provided. As his body relaxed, he found it difficult to quiet his mind. It felt as if his consciousness was grasping to out to hold onto the Force, but each time he thought he was about to get a hold on it the connection slipped through his grasp like water would through a person's hands. Slowly his mind processed the image of the Force as a fluid and he visualized his body as a vessel for it to pour in to. As he felt the Force "pour" into his body, a soothing warmth spread through his extremities starting in his fingers and toes but not quite reaching the core of his body. DM's face furrowed as he decided to go ahead and transition meditation methods... he had a feel for it, but also felt that he was possibly trying too hard to make something tangible out of the ethereal.
Without opening his eyes, DM unfolded his hands from behind his back. His right hand moved to the chain around his neck and the medallion it held. His hand obscured the coin from view... his left arm moved across his torso with the left hand supporting the left elbow. Having changed positions, DM shifted his visualization slightly. Now instead of a random vessel, DM imagined his body as a wash basin and the medallion in his hands as a faucet. He again felt the warmth spread through his body, but again it failed to fully envelop him. He continued this process for a couple more moments until he let out a slightly frustrated breath and opened his eyes. From what he understood of the Force, it flowed freely through and around all things yet he didn't experience what felt like the pull of the tide... more like waves splashing softly on a beach.
The Jedi Master smiled and nodded.
"Meditation is a process that is unique to each of us. I hope that you continue to develop this skill throughout your training and beyond."
She gestured to a scroll that floated off the ground and then unrolled to display the following:
There is no Emotion, there is Peace.
There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge.
There is no Passion, there is Serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no Death, there is the Force.
"You see before you the Jedi Code. These words will become the beacon to which you serve to protect those around you who require assistance. The Force itself is boundless and expands throughout the galaxy. Truth, freedom, and justice will prevail by following the Jedi Code. As a Jedi, one must be mindful that the Force may never be used for attack but only for defense. Fear, Anger, Hate.. these emotions are the beginnings of the temptations of the Dark Side of the Force. To attack is to give in to such feelings and start down the path of the Dark Side. And once you begin on that path, forever will it dominate your destiny."
Jedi Master Rendahl paused before continuing.
"Explain how your life experiences have reinforced the Jedi Code and how you will continue to apply the Jedi Code in daily practice."
DM read the scroll containing the Jedi Code and allowed his mind to review the words a few times before processing them and acting on the Master's instructions. The Code was an intriguing paradox... the first tenet of each line described things that every sentient experienced on a daily basis, while the second tenet seemed to prescribe a cure of sorts to each condition listed. He turned the words over in his mind a few more times before beginning his response. "I understand that the Code is the guiding beacon for all Jedi, but I'm not sure it can be read literally. We know that the universe is filled with emotion, ignorance, passion, chaos, and death... we're surrounded by those things on daily and to deny them or the role they play in shaping each of us as individuals seems dangerously pretentious. I believe the that the Code must be read as a response to each of the conditions before acting. We cannot be devoid of emotion or passion or we are no more useful than droids, but if we do not govern our actions and responses with peace and serenity then we cannot see the greater implications our responses might create. We must be constantly learning to combat ignorance and chaos while also understanding that death is a natural part of life and that we cannot fear it or try to control it."
He paused for a moment catching his breath and preparing to respond to the Master's prompt. "I would love to throw out a canned response saying how I will always fall back on the Code before making every decision and when facing every hardship, but that would be disingenuous. My life experience has taught me that life is a lot like Sabaac, you might be holding 23... but you can still lose when someone else plays an Idiot's Array. Using the Code as a guide post lays a solid foundation... But when my mother was killed.. I would've been lost without my father to guide me. Recently I lost my father, but before he passed he gave me a purpose to come here... We're all confronted with situations beyond our control and there will be days that we're strong enough to handle them on our own... there will also be days that we have to lean into our support system... the Code... Our fellow Jedi... Our friends... The Code gives us a standard to base our actions on while also providing a framework to support each other when we need it."
"Your answers are very insightful and reveal the wisdom of your life experiences. You are correct that the Jedi Code provides the foundation on which to base your decisions as situations arise. This will serve you as you continue to learn and grow in the light side of the Force."
She paused briefly before continuing.
"You have done well in learning the basics of Jedi philosophy. We are now going to move on to Force skills. The Force is what gives a Jedi their power. It is an energy field created by all living things that surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. I would like for you to take a deep breath and clear your mind of all thoughts. Focus momentarily upon the steady beat of your own heart as its gentle sound fills your mind with peace and serenity. I would then like for you to close your eyes and reach out to the will of the Force. Center your thoughts and find your focus point."
The Jedi Master watched as Padawan Malo completed the task.
"Next, I would like for you to find an object in the training grounds that is of small or medium size and utilize your focus upon the Light side of the Force to levitate that object into the air. Like this."
Jedi Master Rendahl demonstrated this skill by levitating a small stone bench located across from them. It floated into the air as she guided it over the table and back to the ground.
"You may begin when you are ready."
DM listened intently to the Master's instructions and processed her words before attempting to perform the assigned tasks. First he closed his eyes and tried to focus inward on his own heartbeat. As he attempted to focus on his heartbeat he found his attention pulled several different directions by things that he wouldn't normally register... there was a slight hum to the artificial lighting in the room... the wind stirred past an exterior wall... there was someone else training down the hall... but there in the midst of what felt chaotic to his senses, Dash 'heard' it... a rhythmic binary beat, he zeroed in his focus on the beat and found himself pulled down a rabbit hole to what felt like a deeper plain of awareness. His breathing changed, it slowed and found a sympathetic rhythm to his beating heart. The physical change in his breathing seemed to be paired with a warmth spreading throughout his body. When he finally felt like he was in control of the sensations he was experiencing, DM opened his eyes and looked around the training ground.
He wasn't confident enough in what he was experiencing to start with the bench the Master had levitated. Instead DM looked behind the bench where there was a rack containing a series of weighted balls. DM extended his left hand in front of him and visualized the Force flowing as an extension of that hand. He pressed his conciousness through that hand until he could feel it surrounding the desired ball. Dash closed his hand and with his mind the visualized hand as well and moved them both upward. To his visible surprise and delight the ball shot up about two feet above the rack and remained there. To himself he thought... 'I really did it!'
"Your skills are developing nicely, my Padawan. To further develop this ability, proceed by levitating items of varying weight and size."
She gestured around the training grounds for him to choose whatever he saw fit to practice on. Master Rendahl watched as he selected items and levitated them.
"We will now continue on with the next Force skill - telepathy. Telepathy is the ability to mentally communicate with others with words or even emotions. One can also read the thoughts of others. I will now send a message to your mind. Once you receive it, respond by sending a message to my mind."
Jedi Master Tessa Rendahl centered her thoughts and achieved a calm state of mind as she sent the following to her Padawan's mind.
You have learned the Jedi Code. Tell me the third and fourth lines from it...
"Thank you." Dash replied before proceeding to act on the next set of instructions.
DM lowered the ball that he was levitating before levitating two other balls from the rack. Replacing them, he shifted his focus to a training droid. When he had successfully lifted it and safely returned it to the ground, he then proceeded to lift the bench that Master Rendahl had initially demonstrated on. As he lifted it, it teetered from side to side clumsily. He lowered it back to the ground and it landed harder than he would've liked.
His attention shifted back to Tessa when she began describing the next skill that they would practice.
DM consciously slowed his breathing in order to calm his mind. As he did, a soothing warmth of calm tickled at it's periphery. He knew that this wasn't of his own making so he allowed himself to focus on the sensation, in doing so he 'heard' the Jedi Master's words as if she were whispering them into his ear. He then focused on the words that formed his response... There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony.
Master Rendahl smiled and spoke back to his mind.
Excellent. Telepathy can be used for communication as well as reading minds, although be aware that highly skilled users will be able to shield their thoughts from being read. Tread carefully with this skill.
The Jedi Master walked across the training area and then turned to face him.
"The next Force skill we will examine is Precognition. This ability allows you to see into the future for a brief amount of time to predict an opponent's movements. To use this skill you must center your thoughts on the Force and allow the Light to guide you as you extend your mind to see future events. You will now test out this ability."
A pit droid appeared on the training grounds along with a satchel of wrenches and other tools. The repair droid reached down and placed a tool in each of its hands.
"This pit droid will throw tools at you and you will use precognition to predict where the tools will land so that you can move yourself out of the way."
She motioned to the pit droid and it raised a wrench into the air.
"Begin training protocols, pit droid DUM-20."
Tools began flying toward her Padawan.
The first tool struck DM square in the shin drawing a curse from his mouth. He quickly tried to refocus his mind from the pain radiating through his leg to the task at hand. A second tool approached, and DM was too late in identifying it as it struck him in the left shoulder. This task was more difficult than it might seem as both the droid wasn't a living entity and the tools were just inanimate projectiles... After being struck by the second tool though, DM came to a realization. Though the droid wasn't alive, it was emitting energy that he could perceive through the Force. The energy ebbed and flowed from the droid in waves. The waves increased in frequency and intensity right before the droid launched a tool.
DM discovered completely by chance that while he couldn't perceive the tools being thrown at him, he could perceive the Force moving around them. Through the void they created he was able to locate and predict where each tool was going to go. The third tool was aimed straight for his face and he was a little late in identifying it, but was able to lean his head to the right and avoid it. The tool stirred the air against DM's cheek.
The next tool was heading for his right shoulder, so he stepped backwards with his right foot so that he was facing sideways as the tool passed harmlessly in front of him. Having missed twice in a row, the droid seemed perturbed and released two tools at the same time. One aimed at his throat and the other at his left knee. DM smoothly caught the tool aimed for his throat while lifting his left leg and avoiding the lower one. Dash allowed himself to relax and smile.
In that moment or pride, he failed to sense the tool that struck him square in the forehead. He dropped the tool he was holding as both hands grabbed for his face muffling the words he said.