Star Wars AU Episode I: The Puppet Master

Chapter 1

Ben Kenobi was a study in white as he moved across the pathway alone through an icy white world, his garb of white with a white satchel at his shoulder. Footprints eddied in his wake, the winds blew, swallowing the white prints in a seamless white. Behind him, the ship, its small blinking light a beacon for his return, but Ben did not think of that now. Far too much lay ahead of him to worry over returning to the ship and the Master who would guide him through the days of his Padawan journey.

The cave was warm, by comparison. On other worlds, it might be thought quite chilly and dank, but on this icy planet too far from its sun to achieve warmth, the planet core alone gave heat to the cave.

Remember, came the voice of Qui-Gon in his memory, do not be hasty in your approach. The first may be neither the best nor the worst. Still your mind and be mindful of the faintest whisperings of the Force.

In obedience, Ben passed through the mouth of the cavern, his eyes adjusting to the dark before he saw the beauty of the crystals. The crystals caught his light, reflecting it in a rainbow, humming a soothing melody. He continued in, the song of the crystals growing louder as he made his way into a central chamber, larger than the entrance, filled with more crystals growing in clusters like grapes, the melody of ethereal beauty.

A pool of water sat at the base of the most magnificent of these clusters, its water clear and cool, mirroring the crystals above. Very slight indentations beside this pool bespoke of the countless Jedi who had come to this very spot in preparation for the creation of their own lightsaber, just as Ben now came.

This is the spot, then, thought Ben, anxious to get on with the task.

Opening the satchel, he got out a small white mat and sat down, eyes closed as he began to meditate. Dissonance.

Shaking his head, Ben took the mat. Cocking his head to one side, he listened, then moved to another location, nearer a simpler cluster, crystals spreading across the ground as so many morels. He resumed his seat, beginning his meditations anew.

Fasting. Stilling the body, subjecting the body to the Force beyond mundane.

As he sat, he began to hum, allowing the melody of the caves to smooth over his mind, the faint ripples of the Force eddies which spoke to him in the calm of the song.

A day of fasting, sipping only enough of the water to stave off dehydration, and Ben Kenobi had managed to hold his position without moving, the gentle whispering hum of the crystals surrounding him the only sound save for the soft whisper of Ben's own breathing and the hum that had begun to grow in his own throat, matching and harmonizing with the crystals which surrounded him.

Reverberating harmony, the youth saw before him a pattern unfolding like a flower coming into bloom. He stood, walking along the outlines that could be seen in the mind's eye alone. One long curving path, and he paused at its end, listening to the music surrounding him.

Ben turned sharply, following another long, curved path, his path beginning to form a triquetra. As he reached the end of this arc, he paused again, hearing the harmony of crystals and the low reverberation from his own throat. An eerie beauty, unlike the music which might be heard anywhere else in the galaxy, and he continued as it seemed a mist closed in, obscuring the sight of the crystals but not their sound.

The mist seemed to fill the entire chamber, nothing but whiteness within save for the hands and face of young Ben. Still he continued walking according to a sight which was not of the eyes but deeper within.

Then, a glittering black room swam into his focus as Ben himself continued along the arcing path he saw with a sense not found in the common five. The music of the crystals now disturbed by a discordant note of an unseen harp.

"Where am I?" said Ben, finding himself quite unnerved by the apparent translocation.

Fear is the path to the dark side ... Ben stopped walking as the glittering black surrounded him, the discordant harp sounding above the harmony of the crystals which seemed to be receding. There is no chaos. There is harmony.

The glittering black, a seamless sea, surrounded him-but the music of the crystals continued. Harmony. Discordant harp melded into the melody, no longer discord. The night will seem endless. Light shatters the darkness.

The orbs glittered in their paths, bright lights of planets spinning about their pinpoint stars, and the shadow fell across a great many. In a moment, he realized what he saw before him, recognizing familiar orbs.

"Even Coruscant?" said Ben, and he felt a moment of despair as the shadow emanated from just off-center the spinning orbs.

There is no emotion. There is peace.Be not afraid. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear not.

The vision changed. A new room, shaped as an oval with smooth stone walls which shone like the crystals of the cave, save that these walls had but one facet. In the center of the room, a pot boiled, tended by an aged man dressed in tan and brown, his skin tanned and weathered.

"About time you got here," said the aged man, "if time matters to you at all, young one."

"Who are you?" said Ben, trying to remember if anyone else had spoken of actually meeting someone in this ritual.

"I am called by many names," said the aged man. "It matters not. In time, you will come to know. Why are you here?"

"I'm not sure," said Ben. "I just ... followed ... But you are expecting me?"

"You are a seeker," said the aged man, stirring the contents of his pot, "to expand your power and knowledge. Good desires ... in most. But so many fail them. They get discouraged and fall short, or they lose their gifts through ignorance and arrogance. They never return, but fall prey to the teachers of hatred who tell them their first goals were evil."

Feeling confused, Ben remained silent.

"Do you truly wish to understand yourself? Are you willing to learn to overcome the most basic impediments to your progress? Can you face that which you fear the most-yourself?" said the aged man.

"Yes," said Ben, firmly desiring it to be so.

"Then go," said the old man. "Be one with the Force."

The bright room receded from his vision, and Ben found his path taking him once more through the dark room, the glittering orbs still in shadow. He felt eyes upon him, millions of eyes, and then shadowy forms within the darkness moving before him, taking on nightmare forms, mutating at a whim, it seemed, into the most feared things that came to his mind, and Ben felt himself on the verge of panic.

Ben sighed, willing himself into a calmness. There is no emotion, there is peace. The melody of the crystals grew louder. He began to mentally tick through reasons why he should not be afraid, and true calm took hold.

Continuing his walk, Ben found the darkness seeming to surround it, but he saw it no longer, calmly humming along with the melody of the caves. As suddenly as he had been plunged into darkness, the darkness fell away, and he realized that his feet had never left the path he trod in this cave of singing crystals. Even more, he was exactly where he had started, at the mat of his meditation, crystals in hand.

"Oh! Be one!" he said, as he began the exacting work of laying out the materials.

That wouldn't be so bad for a name, he thought. I wonder how it ought to be spelled?

No human touch, once the materials had been removed from the white satchel in which he had carried them into the cave. Human touch, those roiling emotions, could spoil the work. His meditations continued, humming in harmony with the melody of the caves.

How had the lightsaber come to be? He looked at the hilt in his hand, not remembering having actually constructed it. He knew, though, that he must have formed it while he had been in his trance. "The Force and I, together," he said.

With a mere thought, the blade came to life in his hand, proving that he had not erred in the process as the blue blade cast its light over the humming cavern, itself humming in harmony with the crystals which remained. With another thought, the blade extinguished. He placed the hilt on his belt as he had seen so many Jedi wear their own lightsabers.

Now I shall truly be one of them, myself! thought the youth, finding that a bit of joy leaped within him at the very thought. I did not fail.

He bowed to thank the crystals, and folded up the things he had brought with him, placing them in the now nearly empty satchel.

The calm of the caverns was immediately obliterated as he stepped outside into the wildly blowing snows of the storm that had been blowing for the three days of his meditative work. Not, of course, that he was yet aware that it had taken him three days to accomplish the tasks of the cavern, though he was aware of being ravenously hungry.

Calmly, he raised the hood of his robes, a study in white against a field of white.

In the distance, a blinking light beckoned him. Across the snowy fields he traveled, his path unerring as he returned to the ship which Ben Kenobi had left, and to which now the Jedi Padawan returned.

"Master," he said, reaching the ship, finding the elder Jedi within, speaking the ritual words that named him and began the sealing of the Master-Padawan connection. "Obi-Wan Kenobi seeks to learn of the living force."

"Good," replied Qui-Gon, smiling at the youth. "Obi-Wan my padawan. I, Qui-Gon Jinn, shall teach of the living force." With that, the ritual words were complete.

"While you have been away, I have received instructions," continued Qui-Gon. "Come and eat, and then we will be on our way, and I shall tell you more of our first task together as we travel."

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