Lesson the first: The Force surrounds us.
I am not a smart kid, but a long time ago I realized that my life was never going to be normal. What do normal twelve-year-olds do with their time? I wasn’t on Gardarr long enough to know, I suppose, but Master Jakar tells me that my species develops a little faster than humans like Serena and Po. Maybe that’s why I feel so different from them. Serena’s cold and kind of bitchy – she’s mean to everyone and she never stops scowling or rolling her eyes. I’m surprised Master Jakar isn’t harder on her for all that, it’s not very Jedi, but I guess just like me and everyone else, he’s easier on her because she’s just so damn beautiful. I find myself looking more than I should. Not very Jedi of me, I know. Po’s nicer, though I think his dad might have been a rulebook. Either that or he swallowed one when he was a child and has been unable to get it out of his system. If I had a credit for every time I’ve heard him say ‘yes, sir,’ I’d be richer than the wealthiest Hutt on Nar Shaadar.
But, then, of course, I don’t think their distance from me is just because I’m biologically a little older than them. I can’t exactly blame them for that distance – no-one wants to be close to something as hideous as me, especially someone as beautiful as Serena. Gardari aren’t exactly pleasant creatures to look at the best of times – hairless, jet-white skin as coarse as sandpaper; blazing orange eyes; and grotesque octopi-like suckers across my forearms, my scalp and neck – but worse, after being abandoned in the middle of the great Frost Fields as an infant, and days of being alone out there, the frostbite got to me – my nose, one of my ears, a few of my fingers and a portion of my cheek, all ravaged and removed by the brutality of the endless cold. To add to all of my woes, Gardarr is oxygen-heavy and every other planet, including this one, feels like I’m having to gasp for air. My voice, damaged by frostbite and constantly desperate for air, comes out as a ruined whisper like a metal fork dragged across a porcelain plate. I can’t be fun to be around. Silent as a ghost – and when I finally have the courage to speak, people recoil from the sound. Of course, they keep their distance. Why wouldn’t they?
The Force surrounds us. It guides our actions, dictates them to an extent. So, is this what the Force intended for me? Pain? Loneliness? Was it always my destiny to be forgotten? The hideous, lesser padawan overshadowed by his peers fated to always be as alone as he was back in the great Frost Fields?
Lesson the second: The Force is infinite.
This lightsaber is tricky. We’re supposed to receive the crystals ourselves from a crystal cave in an ancient ritual, but the War’s made that tricky. Instead, we were given one by one of the masters here. He was handing them out and I watched his eyes almost glaze over me – I had to use all my strength to speak as loudly as I could for him to give me one. It was the last one in the group – jagged and irregular and difficult to fit within the casing.
To the left of me, Po is excelling – he is practicing with his gifts, floating parts of his partially constructed saber in front of him and plucking them out of the air to fit them together. His saber clicks together with ease – traditional in both form and structure, but solid and sturdy in its construction. He’s designing it to take hits and tolerate his great strength. Fitting. Master Jakar says a Jedi’s lightsaber is a reflection of himself… so Po’s makes sense. Strong, dependable, powerful, and traditional in its design. It looks quite like Master Jakar’s, even down to the color of the blade.
So, what will mine look like? How can I create a reflection of myself, when I don’t know who I am?
Po’s power is so elemental and clear. I’ve seen him levitate objects and absorb energy with his bare hands. His use of the Force is simple, but powerful and effective. I don’t think he feels it like I do though… I’m not sure Serena can either. I can feel it around me right now, like a curtain hanging over me, surrounding me, shrouding me. I think it’s protecting me, hiding me from prying eyes. Even now, as Serena, who is fiddling with her purple crystal to my right, looks over in my direction, as we are about to make eye contact, her eyes glaze over for half an instant and defocus and she looks right past me to congratulate Po on his completed saber.
The Force is infinite. Po can use tremendous things with it; Serena as well – I’ve seen her channel its power to move at impossible speeds. But, it has myriad forms and it is different for everyone… Perhaps this is the gift that the Force has given me – the gift to be ignored.
Lesson the third: I am one with the Force.
Serena chuckles to herself with a darkly manic grin before taking a chisel to her lightsaber crystal. She hammers down on the point at blinding speed. The crystal snaps cleanly in two… and she begins work anew, driven on by a fierce new inspiration. Within just a few short minutes, the final piece clicks into place. Two sabers! The shafts of each are raw and ragged, filled with sharp angles. They look flimsy at first, but she spins them in her hands and bashes them against the table to prove their worth. She ignites them both, and they fizz and crackle to life – not as smooth as Po’s simple, efficient blade, but still strong and bright – they fill the room with an eerie violet light.
Master Jakar moves to congratulate his other students. He smiles and claps them on the back, pride fills his eyes. I look at the pile of parts in front of me and sigh deeply. The Force clings closer to me – hiding me from view. I can feel its electric presence tugging at the suckers on my skin; they harden and close at its presence. Po looks back at me for a second, but that now-familiar faded look appears and he quickly turns back to the others, having looked directly at me, but with no acknowledgment or realization dawning across his face.
Silently, unnoticed by the others, I reach for the pile of parts, quickly stacking them together in a way that seems natural and fluid. The jagged irregular crystal is crumbling already – it requires no chisel to break apart, just a slight tug from both ends. The grips, the buttons, the sliders, all of the other features that other Jedi use I leave to one side… and I construct a simple, undecorated tube of pale metal – easily mistaken for a spare part or simple steel rod… and inside, I place my crystals, the lens, the other parts that make a lightsaber spring to life. Guided by the Force, its construction does not take long. Every move I make seems natural, pre-determined – like destiny.
My creation is finished. I push back the curtain with my will and, in my ruined voice, say “finished.” All eyes in the room turn to me – my Force cloak is gone and now I am suddenly noticed. My peers just stare, but Master Jakar walks over to me, examining the simple metal tube I am holding out to him.
“Show me the blade, padawan,” he says.
My movements are practiced and graceful, despite this being the first time I have performed them. I swing it around, snap it apart through an invisible seam in its center, and point both halves upwards. A push of the button ignites the blades – a burning, blazing orange; an inferno forced into the shape of a blade; the exact color of my eyes. I see their flawless light reflecting in Master Jakar’s proud eyes. He smiles at me.
I am one with the Force. The saber proves it – understated, easily dismissed, but hiding a fierce flame inside. My gift is not to be ignored – it is to be underestimated. I have been doing it to myself for far too long – questioning whether I belong here, but I do. I may be so often passed over in favor of my peers, but that is the observer’s loss – I stand equal with them, shoulder to shoulder. I may be so often forced into silence, but one day my voice will ring clear across the galaxy.
I am one with the Force. The Force is one with me. I swear I will never doubt that again.