Chapter 1: Beginnings, Reality Check
Disclaimer: This is Disney's playground. I'm just playing in it. All copyrights are theirs.
A/N: This is a story based on the Star Wars Universe that mostly deals with OCs. I have attempted to write the book within the established canon, and the intent of this story is that it could be a book that you pick up off the shelf of your local bookstore (or download on your Kindle).
The timeline for this book is just before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
This is my first time ever publishing anything, so all reviews and comments are appreciated.
Now on to the story!
Chapter 1: Beginnings, Reality Check
The Jedi Temple on Coruscant was one of the most famous buildings in the entire Republic. But to Jedi Initiate Sascha Whitestar it was something more than just a famous building, it was his home. Ever since he was young, he had learned, played and worked within the walls of the Jedi Temple, endeavouring to hone his talent with the Force under the watchful eye of the many Jedi Masters that were eager to train the next generation of Jedi Knights. Today, he had taken a break from his studies to wander around in one of his favourite rooms in the Jedi Temple, the Room of a Thousand Fountains.
Even though he had lived in the Jedi Temple for most of his life and explored the lush greenery of the room more times than he could count, he was still finding new sections of the Room of a Thousand Fountains to explore. In fact, he was amused at the very idea of calling it a room at all. It was so massive that he could have been the only occupant, or just as easily, there could have been a thousand Jedi hidden from sight in its various paths and enclosures. When he was younger, he had thought that the Room of a Thousand Fountains was perhaps a bit ostentatious, even if it was just an elaborate greenhouse. Now as a teenager, he had come to a different conclusion, finding the room to be peaceful and harmonious. Sascha walked around the room, inspecting the flowers that were in bloom, taking his time to admire the exotic greenery from planets he one day hoped to travel to.
Walking into one of his favourite sections of the Fountain Room, which featured an old, and extremely rare Corelian birch tree, he found what had brought him to this room. Sitting languidly in a meditative position underneath the foliage of the beautiful old tree was his closest friend at the Jedi Temple, Tyra Harker. He and Tyra were the same age, fifteen, and they had been a part of the same clan growing up in the Temple. Fast friends from the moment they met, they had grown into two very different young Jedi, but it hadn't seemed to diminish their friendship in the slightest.
Tyra was one of the few people Sascha knew that could look intense, even when completely relaxed in meditation. Studying, training, sparring, or just walking down the halls of the Jedi Temple, Tyra did everything at full speed with no reservations. At times, it had made her a challenging person to have in his Jedi Initiate clan because she was so focused on her goals. Nonetheless, while some of her peers found her intensity off-putting, her closest friends, Sascha foremost amongst them, knew how to break through her intense demeanour and converse with the thoughtful young woman that lay underneath her tough persona.
His best friend was a human like him; she was short and athletic looking, with her brown hair tied in a practical ponytail. A single braid of hair ran from just behind her right ear and fell to just past her shoulder, an indication of her rank as a Padawan learner. Tyra had been chosen to be the apprentice of Teff Nal'ma a respected Twi'lek Jedi Knight almost two years ago and she had taken the first step to becoming the excellent Jedi Knight that everyone knew that she would become. Her experiences as a Padawan had not changed her that much; she was just a bit older, a bit wiser, and overall just more mature.
"You're thinking so loud you are interrupting my meditations, Sascha," remarked Tyra without moving from her meditative pose underneath the old tree.
He smiled, "I'm pretty sure that is impossible, Tyra." "Well, you know, you get into the big wide open galaxy and you learn a LOT of things are possible, despite what we've been taught," countered the still motionless Tyra.
Sascha sat quickly on a nearby rock and looked across at his friend, who seemed stoic in her meditative trance, but he had known her since she was two years old and he could see the faintest of smiles tugging across the lips of his best friend. "So Padawan Harker, what news from the galaxy?"
Tyra shook her head, "It still feels weird to be called a Padawan, even after being one for almost two years now." She gave him a slight, friendly smile and said, "don't worry I'll be calling you Padawan Whitestar soon enough." He glanced away, "I don't think you will, Tyra." Ignoring the pain in his heart that it took to speak the next few words, he said them anyway, "I'm thinking of leaving the Jedi Order."
"What?!" Tyra shook out of her meditative stance to turn her intense, brown-eyed stare on him. "You're prepared to walk away from the Jedi? Why? What aren't you telling me Sascha?"
Sascha stared at the ground, unwilling to meet the gaze of his friend, "At some point you have to admit to yourself that your dream isn't going to happen…and I think I've reached that point Tyra. I'm fifteen now and that is rather old for an Initiate. Sure, I love helping out in the Archives or helping teach the younger Initiates, but it is time for me to admit that I'm not going to be selected to become a Padawan. Honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't been shipped off to the Agricultural Corps already."
He looked up at his friend, unsurprisingly Tyra's stare hadn't relented. She leaned towards him and spoke in an intense whisper, "I can't believe you are giving up Sascha. After all that we have been through, after all we have done…I thought I knew you! The Sascha that I thought I knew would have to be dragged kicking and screaming by a squad of Jedi Masters to be removed from the Temple."
"Two years ago that was certainly true, a year ago it was probably true, but now…all my friends have been chosen to become Padawans. You, Trigg, Doro were the first group and now it's been months since Sarn and Eida have been selected to become Padawans…I'm the only one left Tyra, and now it's time to take an honest look at things." Sascha looked up and for the first time met Tyra's fierce stare, "I was always a marginal case. I don't have the best control of the Force or the deepest connection with it either. Sure, I'm a talented pilot and a good researcher, but I'm hardly exceptional." He shrugged slightly, "I'm an average at best Initiate, Tyra. I don't think I should be surprised that I've haven't been selected." He looked up into one of the nearby waterfalls, admiring its simple, natural, beauty, "I'm not giving up on my dream Tyra, I'm giving in to reality."
There was a long silence between the two friends. He could hardly bear to meet Tyra's gaze again. He knew deep down that Tyra would likely react like this; she had always been a true Dragon – members of the Dragon clan, one of the many different clans that Jedi Initiates could be placed into after they reached a certain level of maturity, were selected for their perceived tenacity. It was said that nothing could make a member of Dragon clan back down if you did not will it and certainly Tyra had never met a challenge she was cowed by. Well, he was also a member of Dragon clan, but he had finally found a challenge that he could not meet and in his eyes, he was accepting his defeat with grace.
Tyra then reached out, placed both of her hands on his shoulders, and spoke, "I'm only ever going to do this once, so I'm going to make sure you pay attention." Tyra then slapped Sascha hard on his cheek. Stunned, he felt his eyes water. Sure, he'd been hit by Tyra before, but it was always during lightsaber sparring or unarmed combat training. This…this was new.
Still with both hands on his shoulders Tyra spoke in a whisper that barely contained her intensity, "You are so perceptive about other people and their problems, but you are completely ignorant about yourself. You are the most selfless person I've ever met, and sure selflessness is a Jedi trait, but you are so selfless you ignore your needs, your desires." Tyra was now emphasizing her words by poking a finger directly into his chest. "You've spent the last two years helping others, volunteering in the Archives, and helping out whoever needs you, but how many times have you asked for extra training to improve yourself or done something to attract the attention of a Master? Do you want to know why you haven't been chosen as a Padawan? You haven't tried to be one."
"I've tried! You of all people should remember how I've tried," he said defensively. "Yes, you competed in one apprentice tournament," snorted Tyra derisively. "And I embarrassed myself completely if I recall correctly." Tyra stared at him incredulously, "and you're the only Jedi Initiate in the history of the Jedi Order that embarrassed themselves in the tournament? That's the reason you've stopped trying to follow your dream? That was years ago! I thought you'd moved past that."
Sascha shifted uncomfortably, "I thought that my failure it might be a sign from the Force that I wasn't going to become a Padawan."
Tyra's eyes flashed with anger, he couldn't remember the last time he had seen Tyra angry, "Since when are you a Jedi Master, Sascha? You're now able to interpret the desires of the Force?" His cheeks reddened in embarrassment, "Maybe I overstated myself slightly." He regained his composure quickly, "The point is Tyra, I've been available to be chosen by a Jedi Knight or Master to be their Padawan for years now and no one has shown the slightest interest in doing so. I'm just taking their not-so-subtle hint. It might be time for me to walk a different path."
Tyra took a moment to contemplate that remark taking a deep, calming breath before continuing, "I know it was hard for you to stay behind here at the Temple while Doro, Trigg and I went off to become Padawans, considering we are your closest friends. I think we all assumed that you'd get over it; I don't think any of us thought you'd stop trying to reach your dream…that never seemed like something you'd do. But to tell me now that you are thinking of leaving without making an effort to be selected… it's not you Sascha."
"Why not Tyra?" He spoke with quiet force, "I could leave the Temple, and I'd have a thousand job offers waiting for me. I could be a pilot, I could join the Judicials, or Republic Intelligence. I could see my parents! I could lead a good life, a normal life. Are you going to tell me that I am wrong?"
"Yes." Tyra replied with pure conviction, "It's wrong not because that's not a good life or an acceptable choice to make, but because you stopped believing in yourself." Tyra finally removed her hands from his shoulders and looked away into a nearby pool. "I realize that I can't stop you, and that we've drifted apart a bit over the past two years, but if you have any respect for me and my opinion, you'll give yourself a last chance to be selected. There is an apprentice tournament coming up soon isn't there?"
"Yes, a couple weeks from now. I helped prepare the profiles of some of the competitors for Master Xan."
Tyra's face scrunched in incredulity, "But you never thought of competing in it yourself? You're still an Initiate aren't you?"
Sascha's cheeks burned in embarrassment, "I just don't want to embarrass myself again. I don't want to embarrass the instructors that have taught me."
"Who cares?!" Tyra almost shouted. "Does it matter if you humiliate yourself once or twenty times? Do you think the instructors have never had an Initiate they've been disappointed by? Sascha, you care, way, way too much about what other people think. Care about yourself for once."
Ultimatum delivered, Tyra got and walked away. Stunned into silence, all he could do was stare at her retreating form.
Well, that didn't go entirely as expected….