Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts: Chapter One
Luke Skywalker watches the young Jedi hopefuls as they run around the training fields, the sounds of their feet pounding against the hard packed dirt of the track reaching up to the balcony where he stands and gazes out at the groups of students.
As he watches, he has a feeling of foreboding, as if something is approaching which threatens to consume the Jedi and the galaxy.
It is the Dark Man from his dreams.
A flicker of a frown crosses his face, and he shoves those concerns away. Of more immediate importance is the crisis with the Corellians, and how they've managed to almost get Centerpoint activated.
What Ben told him he found there.
An android that believed itself to be Anakin Solo.
An android that should not possibly exist, as all medical records of Anakin Solo were lost during the fall of Coruscant.
The soft chime of the door garners his attention, and he turns and walks back into his office even as the door opens.
Three Jedi Knights walk in, and give him short abbreviated bows. He smiles, and gestures towards a couch. "Please sit down."
The three glance nervously between themselves and Luke has to chuckle. "Don't worry. It's nothing bad. I just think it's time to once more try to pair off the more advanced students to Jedi Knights for training. It's working well with Jacen and Ben and I would hope you three would be willing to try as well.
The three share a look, and Knight Thann Mithric stands up. "I'd be quite willing to do this Master."
Luke grins, and picks up a data chit and looks quickly at the label, making sure it has the correct name written on it and then passes it to him. "Look through these files, and choose one of the students listed there. Once you've chosen, ask that student if they would like to become your apprentice, if they agree, return with them to me."
Thann takes the chit and leaves the room. Next to stand is Jaina Solo, as she tugs against her long brown hair she speaks almost hesitatingly, "I'm going to have to pass right now Uncle Luke. I don't think I'm ready for an apprentice just yet."
Luke looks at her for a moment, and then nods his head. "If that is your wish Jaina, then I will respect it." As Jaina leaves the office, he looks towards the final Jedi he has brought in for this, noticing how the young blonde girl is staring at her hands, and gnawing on her bottom lip. "How about you Tahiri? Are you willing to train an apprentice?"
"Yes Master, I think I am. That is if you trust me enough."
She looks up at him, her green eyes large, and filled with hope and longing. An odd feeling twitches in his stomach, guilt of an old memory, long suppressed, as he reaches down and plucks the second of three data chits from the stack and without looking at it, holds it out to her.
"I think you'll do just fine Tahiri."
She smiles hesitantly, and grasps the data chit, pulling it to her quickly. She stands up, looking down at the small device, and takes a step forward, tossing her arms around the Jedi Master.
"Thank you Master Skywalker. Thank you for trusting me."
Luke awkwardly returns the hug, gently patting her back, as she drops back down to the flat of her feet.
"Choose your apprentice, and then bring whoever you've chosen here, and I'll formalize it."
She beams at him. "Thank you!"
And then she walks out of the room, a bounce to her step that Luke hasn't seen since before the Killik fiasco. Since before Mrykr. Luke smiles slightly, and then returns to his work, never glancing at the remaining data chit that rests on his desk.
Never seeing the label with Mara's neat, precise handwriting spelling out Tahiri's name.
* * * * *Tahiri walks through the halls, holding the small data chit in her hands. She flips it over, seeing a neat precise script on the label, and reads Jaina's name there. For a second she looks towards Luke's office, wondering if she should tell him that she received the wrong data card. Then with a shrug, she turns away and continues down the hall.
She arrives at her quarters, and slips in tossing her heavy robe onto her bed. She sits at the console, and plugs the data chit in, pulling up the roster files for potential apprentices. The files appear on the screen, and she grunts, slapping a button, switching to holographic mode.
A moment later, the icons for the files appear as translucent blue holograms hovering in the air before her.
She grabs the first one, and pulls it towards her. As she lets go it expands, displaying a hologram of a thirteen year old boy. She reads the dossier, his name is Lant Ghyrkson. Her nose wrinkles as she decides she really doesn't want a male apprentice. Too many potential hassles.
She pushes the file away, and it flickers into non-existence as the icons reappear.
She scans the names, looking for one which calls to her.
Y'lr Hic'kla. Pluor Sytho. Bistam. Noelani Darklighter.
She pauses, her heart jumping for a moment, even as she wonders about that name. The Darklighters are famous on her homeworld of Tatooine, rich water magnates. That would explain why they might have named a daughter after a Tusken term, but there is something about the name which calls to her.
She grabs the icon, pulling it towards her, her heart hammering away in her chest, as the holograms flicker and resolves into the file. She bites on her lower lip, as she stares at the image of the thirteen year old girl, something in her soul shifting as she watches the face.
The Force screams to her. This one!
She continues reading, noting the details of her upbringing. That she was adopted and raised by Huff Darklighter during the Vong War. Born less than a year after Anakin died.
The marks she has received in her classes shows that she has effortlessly blown through them, mastering the techniques quicker than expected. Doing better. Going further.
Tahiri grins, a wide open smile. She twirls a lock of her blonde hair absently as she watches the hologram before her. Then pulling up the girl's itinerary, Tahiri finds that she should be playing on the Skorch Field at this time of day.
Waving the console off, she stands and grabs her robe as she leaves the room. Her bare feet padding along down the hallway, shuffling against the cool marble floors.
Soon she steps outside into the bright Ossus sun, and walks towards the Skorch Field. The yelling and screaming greets her even before she gets near, and she smiles as she finally arrives, settling onto a bench to watch the game.
It takes a moment, but she finally finds the girl she has come here to see. The diminutive blonde deftly slides in and out of the crowd, ducking and dodging the other players. Almost effortlessly she avoids the bigger boys who try to tackle her.
She moves like a sandpanther.
But the boys working in conjunction corner her, in one of the walls built around the field. Tahiri stands to get a better view, reaching out with the Force to feel what's happening. The boys close in, as Noelani tucks the Skorch ball behind her, hunching down.
As the boys get shoulder to shoulder, the Force sings, and a wave of energy pushes out from the girl's spot, tossing the unsuspecting boys away from her.
Tahiri grins. And she strikes like a Krayt Dragon.
Noelani's laughter is musical as she jumps up, and darts around, keeping the ball away from the other players.
Finally the timer above the field goes off, a loud buzzing sound which startles Tahiri out of her observations of Noelani. Kam Solusar gathers the players around him, explaining how everyone did. Exactly what the rules were this time. His voice echoes over the field, coming to Tahiri as a soft murmur in the background. She sits back on the bench, and waits and watches.
The players wander off, and Kam comes over to her, settling down beside her on the bench.
"How are you Tahiri?"
She smiles at the older Master. "I'm fine Master Salusar."
"You know Tionne misses you you could stop by and visit us more often."
Tahiri looks down, a blush rising to her cheeks. "I know. But it's so hard. Whenever I see Tionne, I think back to the adventures we had with Anakin." She glances up at Kam. "It still hurts. You'd think after fourteen years, it wouldn't hurt so bad. But it does."
Kam nods his head, and silently wraps his arm around her, giving her a gentle squeeze. After a moment, he looks down at her again. "So what brings you out here today?"
Tahiri looks up, and glances to see Noelani still standing on the Skorch Field, her eyes closed, her arms hanging by her side as she has her face lifted to the sun.
Tahiri nods towards her. "Master Skywalker told me I could choose an apprentice. I was thinking about asking her."
Kam glances that way, and looks back down at Tahiri. "She's powerful, with a lot of native talent. I think you'd be a great teacher for her. In fact she reminds me a bit of you when you were that age."
"Always getting in trouble?"
Kam laughs. "Something like that. Want me to introduce you to her?"
Tahiri thinks for a moment, and then shakes her head. "No, I think I'll do that myself." She leans up and kisses Kam on his cheek. "Thank you Kam. I promise I'll come visit you and Tionne soon."
Kam stands, and grins down at her. "I'll hold you to that."
Standing, he turns and walks away, heading in towards the temple. Tahiri watches Noelani, and stretches out with the Force, feeling it as it flows in and through the young girl. Standing she walks onto the field, coming up behind her, stopping a few paces away.
"Searching for peace?"
The girl lets out a small yelp of surprise, and spins around. Seeing Tahiri, her eyes widen for a second, and Tahiri realizes that they are an ice blue, the same shade that Anakin's were. A pang of grief stabs into her heart, but Tahiri quickly quashes it. Noelani bows, and then straightens.
"I'm sorry Knight Veila, I did not see you behind me."
Tahiri just smiles. "That's all right. I did sneak up behind you. What's your name?"
"Oh! I'm sorry. I'm Noelani, Noelani Darklighter. I'm from Tatooine, but I'm adopted, and-"
Tahiri raises her hand, and Noelani blushes as she quiets down. "Sorry Knight Veila, I seem to talk too much sometimes."
Tahiri laughs slightly. "It's an affliction which many have been burdened with. Can I ask what you were doing?"
Noelani suddenly blushes and looks down at the ground. "I'm resetting myself."
"I don't know what to call it. It's just when I'm on the field, playing with or for or against the others, I can feel the Force rushing through me. Like the rapids over at Istan Falls. Have you seen those? They're beautiful. I love the water. Anyways, I feel it rushing through me. If I don't take the time to calm down, to reset myself, it will stay rushing that way for hours."
Tahiri nods her head, happy at the answer. She probes the Force, seeing if this is the right apprentice for her, and she feels the peace and acceptance the Force sends her in return.
"Did you know that some of your class is being paired up with the older Knights?"
"Well, we all knew that Ben Skywalker was paired off with his cousin, but we didn't know how that would affect the rest of us."
"Well, some of you are getting paired up. I would like to know if you'd like to be my apprentice?"
Tahiri watches as Noelani's eyes widen slightly, and a bright smile suffuses the girl's face, transforming it, making her look even more angelic.
"I would love to be"
Tahiri grins, her happiness an odd emotion, one she has not felt in too long. "Wonderful, go get cleaned up and then meet me at Master Skywalker's office."
Tahiri watches as the girl runs off towards the barracks. Then she turns and heads towards the Temple.
To Prologue | To Chapter Two
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