Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fan Fiction: The Living Force

By: Zac Arnold

The door chime alerted Obi-Wan Kenobi that his rest had been untimely cut short. Sitting up, he looked outside the small window in his quarters to see that Coruscant was still engulfed in darkness. He opened his door and Obi-Wan squinted his eyes to see the unwavering gaze of his master. 

“Good morning Padawan,” his voice was serene, neither energetic nor tired.

“Is it, Master?” the young man replied, groggily. “I couldn’t tell just yet.”

Qui-Gon Jinn’s mouth creased into what could be interpreted as a smile. “It is nearly daybreak here, and also where we are heading. So now is the best time to begin. Meet me at landing platform B in 15 minutes.” And with that, Qui-Gon headed down the halls of the great Jedi Temple without another word.

The two boarded a shuttle, quickly cleared planet traffic control with their Jedi frequency, and made their way to a destination not yet known to the younger of the two. As they made their way farther and farther from the galaxy’s capital planet, Obi-Wan began to wonder just what was in store for them.

 “What’s our mission, Master?”

“Our mission? Jedi have no missions, only purpose. And our purpose is to serve the Force.”

Obi-Wan pondered a moment, then asked, “I thought the Jedi served the Republic?”

Qui-Gon answered without missing a beat. “The Force creates, designs, and permeates throughout the galaxy. Without it, planets do not exist, nor do people, and there is no purpose in life. The Force allows governing bodies to rise and fall, and the current governing body is a proponent of peace, democracy, and equality.  As servants of the Force and keepers of the peace, the Jedi serve the Republic and the Force simultaneously.”

From that moment onward, not a word was spoken as Obi-Wan thought about what his master said to him.

The two cloaked figures disembarked from the shuttle onto a moon covered completely with forests. The brush was so thick they had to land near a body of water, for there was no other clearing nearby. Behind them lay the lake, ahead of them laid the forest, and without a word, Qui-Gon quickly dashed into the forest.

“Master, wait!” the young, nervous teenager exclaimed, but to no avail. His Master was already several dozen meters into the jungle, and showed no signs of waiting, or coming back.

Obi-Wan chased after him, trying to look through the branches and vines, but the brown cloak his Master wore kept him perfectly camouflaged. He started looking for footprints, but the mud was quickly absorbing what was left of the indentations the Jedi Master’s boots had made. Finally, Obi-Wan realized what was going on. “This is a test,” he said to no one in particular. And with that, he stretched out with his feelings as he had one been instructed, and what he felt shook his most inner being.

This moon was teeming with life! From the small reptilian to the giant predator, everything had its own unique feel in the Force, as if it were amplified throughout all five senses. The feeling took him so aback that Obi-Wan decided to stop stretching out so far. He would be quite overwhelmed with the local animals without stretching out to the entire moon. Reeling himself back in, Obi-Wan tried to regain his focus so he could tell which direction his Master had gone. 

“Concentrate… Contentrate…” he continually thought to himself. Again tapping into this new amplified Force, Kenobi tried to find Qui-Gon’s resonation in the Force. When he had, his results startled him, and he couldn’t believe what he was feeling. No… It couldn’t be. I must be mistaken. But it was no mistake. Obi-Wan slowly turned around, and there, behind a tree, stood his Master.

“Well done, my apprentice. You have passed your first test in learning to stretch out with your feelings. Now, let us put these new instincts to practice.”

Qui-Gon set off, and Obi-Wan followed close behind. The elder Jedi cleared logs and jumped over stones as flawlessly as an animal that’s lived in the jungle his whole life. The younger, however, was not so fortunate. It seemed every thornbush, every upturned root, and every ditch was in Obi-Wan’s way.

How does he move so flawlessly? He thought to himself. Stretching out once more, he could sense that Qui-Gon’s eyes were actually shut. This puzzled the young man all the more. Then he realized his eyes were not keeping up with the terrain, but his instincts could. Reaching out with his feelings, embracing this… Active Force… Obi-Wan began to see things more clearly when his eyes were dark. The invisible path his Master had been traveling on suddenly became visible, but it took every ounce of effort to remember and see it with his mind.

After two hours, Kenobi’s strength was failing. We’ve been keeping this pace without any food or water for too long. He thought disparagingly. Then, without hearing a word, Obi-Wan felt a voice speaking to him.

Rely on the Force, Padawan. Not nutrition. The Force provides the endurance, the stamina, and the nutrition will follow close behind.

Not sure what his Master meant, Kenobi tried hard to think of anything except food. He focused even harder on the path, but even more on his surroundings. There were birds, trees, rivers, reptiles, insects, and amphibians all around, and he could feel each and every presence as they permeated through the Force. As he travelled, Obi-Wan began to see that the presences he felt helped make the path he and Qui-Gon were travelling on. It wasn’t the dirt or brush that showed them the way; it was the signatures that were all connected through the Force. Opening himself to his intensified senses, Obi-Wan started sensing things he never had before.

His ears were hearing the rustle of a small mammal gathering food for its young, except the resonance had to have been nearly a kilometer away. Yet it felt just as important as the insect colony they had passed just seconds earlier. His feet were no longer feeling the impact of the ground as it once had. He was now moving flawlessly through the forest, as if walking on air behind his Master. His sense of smell alerted him to the mold and mildew growing on the different plants. Embracing each one, he could begin to see a pattern of importance. No sense was more important than the other – particularly sight. He had quickly learned in this jungle how deceptive his eyes had been, and closed them so he could focus. Now is as good a time as any, he cautiously thought to himself. Slowly opening his eyes, everything seemed a blur, as if time were being sped forward ten times over. Yet, as he concentrated, Obi-Wan began to see he could take mental images of the things he passed, and the Force would allow him to concentrate on it as he continued to run. He noticed the half-eaten bark on one of the trees, the small fish carcass that a predator must have caught days before, and even the little creases on some of the exotic leaves.

Obi-Wan had never sensed his surroundings quite like this before in any of his trainings. Master Yoda had taught him as a youngling how to anticipate danger and use the Force to quicken his reflexes, but this was a level beyond anything he had touched at the temple. His Master recognized his awe, and that he was losing his focus, and slowed his pace near a freshwater river.

“What do you sense, Obi-Wan?” Qui-Gon asked rather vaguely.

“I sense that the Force is particularly strong on this moon, Master. Though I don’t particularly know why.”

“Mm,” Qui-Gon nodded in agreement. “It is strong, and it is alive, is it not? Can you sense life amplified here, my apprentice?”

“Yes, Master,” he conceded, “but I always considered the Force to be the focus of the Midi Chlorians, how is everything so vibrant here but dulled to me at a place like the Temple?”

“The Jedi Temple, and Coruscant itself, can be a busy place. I find it hard to quiet my mind there myself sometimes. Here, it is easier to sense the movements of the Force, because it is the only thing to focus on. On Coruscant, we mold our powers in the Force, but I believe that here, the Force molds us into better vessels for its service. Hearing, smelling, feeling, seeing, and even tasting this amplified, living Force, allows us to understand and focus on it wherever we go.”

“By feeling and embracing it here, it becomes easier to recognize elsewhere,” Kenobi paraphrased curiously.

“Correct. You are a quick study, but we still have much to cover, and little time to do it. Get a drink and have some food, we will head northeast shortly.”

Their trek resumed in what seemed like seconds but was really minutes, and not long after, a deluge of rain hit that portion of the moon. The onslaught was so intense that the two Jedi were drenched within minutes. Still the pressed on, though, at what appeared to be the same pace they had before. Still trying to understand and embrace everything he was experiencing today, Obi-Wan became baffled at how unaffected his Master seemed to be by this downpour. The mud never slowed him, the rain never made him stop to sneeze, and even the lightning and thunder never startled him. Obi-Wan was about to reach his limit when he noticed something about Qui-Gon he hadn’t seen before – the rain seemed to be going around his Master. Not in a blatant weather-changing way, but one that made him less susceptible to the current state of the environment. Rather than hitting and soaking his cloak, Qui-Gon used the Force to slide the raindrops down the end of his cloak and off the corners.

Resolute to find a way to dry off, Obi-Wan started emulating his Master’s technique, not quite as successfully, but he found the rain easier to manage with his eyes closed. Just as he had before, the young Jedi relied on Force-permeations – this Living Force – to guide his steps through the brush. After nearly an hour in the rain, Obi-Wan began to sense a disturbance – something was wrong with his surroundings. With his eyes shut, he noticed certain patches of the jungle seemed to be missing, and though his vision was limited, it seemed as though no patches were missing visually. Closing his eyes again, Obi-Wan resumed his search for the missing pieces of the jungle, and again found a cold, black, empty spot. A certain chill ran down Kenobi’s spine, and it definitely was not from the weather, but again, he could not pinpoint its origin. Perhaps I’m not concentrating hard enough. I’ll focus on my surroundings more and on the rain a bit less. Maybe I can still fill in the gaps.

But his efforts would be in vain, and with the rain clouding his physical vision, Obi-Wan simply could not tell what it was – or was not – that he was sensing. Their pace slowed considerably after the rain concluded and just as Obi-Wan was about to ask why they were stopping, he reached out with the Force and found his answer on his own. For not a kilometer away was a large mass of metal alloys and mechanical systems – their shuttle. They had circled the moon in approximately one day’s time. Judging by their pace, the teenaged Jedi was hardly surprised. As they neared the boarding ramp, Qui-Gon spoke to him again.

“Well, Obi-Wan, was this trip beneficial for you?”

“Yes, Master,” he replied with a new sense of enthusiasm and understanding. He knew there was still so much more to grasp, though. So much he didn’t quite understand. He also knew it would take several more trips and lots of practice to come close to the expertise his Master showed. 

“But I do have one question,” he continued. “What were those dark patches of the moon that I couldn’t feel while we were on our expedition? It felt as if something was blocking its connection to the Force and did not exist.”

Qui-Gon thought for a moment and chose his words carefully. His apprentice had taken great strides in such a short time, but it was best not to overload him with information.

"That, Padawan, is an adventure we must save for another time.”


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