Master and Apprentice
Kan stomped after his Master, his cheeks burning. It just wasn't fair. What was so dangerous that to stop it required not one, not ten, but two hundred Jedi to fight it? What made the mission so diabolical that the Padawans were excluded from participating? Did the Council think that the Apprentices weren't worthy?
Ruru noticed that his Padawan was upset. Kan didn't know how his Master always knew what he was thinking, and it infuriated him. How come he didn't always know what Ruru was thinking?
His Master cared about how Kan felt. Instead of returning to his quarters, Ruru beckoned to Kan and turned his feet toward the Room of the Thousand Fountains. The room lived up to its name; it was indeed a gigantic space with over a thousand fountains joyfully bubbling and drip-dropping little splashes of water that broke upon the pebbles and and the floor and your face and your clothes and everything else. The place usually had a calming effect on Kan, but not today. instead of lifting his face up to the welcoming spray, he stared at the ground and scowled fiercely.
"Kan, you've got to control yourself."
Kan glowered even more. Unrepentant, he glared at his Master's big black boots.
After some time, Ruru crouched down so that he was eye to eye with him. "Kan, you are thirteen years old. You are ready to move onto the path of the Jedi. I can direct you onto the path, but it is you who must choose to continue on it. We have only been a team for six months, but I know that you have the makings of a true Jedi. But talent is not enough to keep you on on the path. You must choose to be a Jedi. I cannot force you to be one. It is very easy to get off the path. It is a narrow road, and one misstep could be your downfall. Your anger is dangerous. Take care."
Kan looked up. "If I had the abilities, Mace Windu would've let me come with you."
"Kan," Ruru said warningly. "You speak without full knowledge of what is going on."
"But it's true!"
"It is not," Ruru said gently. "You have the abilities, but you are young, and you lack control and experience. This mission is life-threatening, and it is not a good idea to expose apprentices to this kind of danger. You have been in life-threatening situations before; in fact, all the apprentices have. But there is a reason that you are all staying here. Some of us may not be coming back."
"Don't say that, Master! Of course you'll come back!"
"Are you so certain?" Ruru asked mildly. "No. Do not ever, even for a second, think that I will live forever. Our time is limited, and we only have so much before we must move on. But Death is not the end. It is a part of life, one that we all must take.
"My young Padawan, you have me here now to instruct and guide you, but what about a month from now? I may not be with you anymore. Don't look so downhearted, Kan! I'm not planning to die any time soon, but there is a risk. So take the time we have together, and learn; understand something from it."
"Always lessons; always, always, always!" Kan burst out. "Can't I just know everything?"
"No," Ruru said. "Learning is supposed to be a joy in life. If you were born knowing everything already, you would already be bored of the galaxy very early in your life. Is absolute knowledge worth that?" He paused. "Perhaps it would help you understand better if I told you what is going on."
"Yes, please, Master!"
Ruru smiled faintly. "After all, Master Windu didn't say I couldn't give you a little insight to help cool you down." He paused, then leaned in closer. "You have heard about the planets that have been seceding from the Senate recently?"
Kan nodded. Almost everyone knew about the Separatists. Traitors, most people called them. Kan didn't know enough about them to form an opinion, though.
"They are headed by an idealist, a former Jedi Master called Count Dooku," Ruru said. "The Senate has been watching with growing fear as the group starts to stock weapons and war equipment. Some fear they are planning a takeover, and the majority of the senators are demanding war, a galactic war which will tear the galaxy apart. Just recently, a leading member of the opposition against the pro-war senators, a senator from Naboo named Padmé Amidala, was the target of a hired assassin. Fortunately, a Jedi team was sent to protect her, and the assassin was apprehended. Right now, the Senator is being escorted off-planet by a Jedi."
Kan let out the breath he had been holding. He was glad that the Senator hadn't been killed. "What happened to the assassin?" he asked. "Dead? Imprisoned?"
Ruru grimaced. "Actually, the Jedi didn't kill the bounty hunter," he admitted. "She was captured, thanks to the Jedi team, but out of fear of the plan being discovered, her cohort killed her, but not quickly enough. Before the assassin died, she was able to tell the Jedi that she was hired by another bounty hunter; unfortunately, they couldn't find out who the other one was. We had a clue, however; the dart that was used to kill her. A Jedi Master called Obi-Wan Kenobi was sent to find out where the dart came from. Somehow he figured out that it was made on a planet that cannot be found in the Temple Archive maps."
"It's all very embarrassing, to say the least. The Jedi Archives are supposed to be complete. And yet, a planet was forgotten in the records." Ruru's face clouded suddenly. "Or was it?"
"Perhaps it wasn't left out by accident. Jocasta Nu is too meticulous to lose a record like that. No. What if it was erased? That doesn't make sense, though. Only a Jedi could have done that. But still…" Ruru seemed to be talking to himself now, and not to his apprentice. Kan gently plucked at his Master's sleeve.
Ruru shook himself, and the withdrawn look left his face as he looked back down at his apprentice. "The inhabitants are cloners, and they have cloned this army for the Republic." He paused. "They claimed that the order was sent by a Jedi Master that was killed ten years ago. And there are no records for this order. Another piece of the puzzle missing.
"And here in the Senate––– things have changed. Faced with the danger of war, the Senate has voted emergency powers to Chancellor Palpatine. He makes all of the decisions now. He has agreed to war, and he is going to use the clone army to fight the Separatists. Yoda is going to see the army now."
"But where are you going?"
"Kenobi has been captured by the Separatists," Ruru said. "We are all going to rescue him."
"That many to rescue just one?" Kan couldn't believe it. Certainly one Jedi wasn't worth risking all of their lives.
His Master, as usual, guessed his thoughts. "One is worth all," he said softly. "For the sake of even one, we will risk our own lives to save him. It is more serious than you know. You must remember this––– we must do all we can to save a life, even if we die trying."
"You must do this. For me. For yourself. For all of us. Stay here and do not hinder us. That is my last command to you. Do you understand?"
Kan nodded. He didn't want to mess things up for the Jedi. He could guess the danger they were all in. They had their own duty. He would do his.
Ruru stood up and walked away. There was no more to say. His Master never wasted words. And it was time to leave. But suddenly, Kan felt that he was watching his Master walking down a dark path. With a river of blood at the end. And there was nothing Kan could do to stop him.
He could only say good-bye.
"Master," Kan called. Ruru half-turned. "May the Force be with you."
He saw his Master smile, and all the resentment he had left vanished. "Good-bye, Padawan," he said. "May the Force be with you."
Kan's face broke into a grin, but immediately, it turned back into a frown. He had a bad feeling about this.
Why did he feel as though those were to be the last words his Master said to him?