Fiach’s Jedi Trials

Fiach Dubh

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“We have the vehicle we arrived in,” Ross said. “We don’t have a part that will fit this navicomputer. But can’t we do the mission with our own ship? Without the transport?”

“They wouldn’t let us get close,”
Fiach replied. “We’ve got to look like we belong there on approach.” They only had an hour to enter the system, sabotage the shipping terminal, and depart under Fiach’s plan. Fighting their way into the system would alert the cult to the danger, allowing them to redouble their guard planetside. No, they had to look like they belonged to the convoy, from start to finish. There was no other way.

Straightening, Fiach came to a decision. “Suggestions?” It was that or revert to the fallback plan, to take out as many transports as possible.

“We can still go to Chelloa! Maybe we can hijack an ore transport in route, the same way we ambushed the flight crew!” Gunder’s guilt was clearly being overcompensated by her enthusiasm to complete the mission irrespective of the odds.

“That was a small personnel shuttle,” Fiach said. The ore transports, by contrast, bristled with weapons. It was part of what made stealing one worthwhile.

“Or we can go back to the flight crew’s ship. I can get the cylinder this time!”

“It’s too far, Gunder - and you said the ship was crushed. It might not even work any more.”

“We’ve come all this way,”
Gunder said. “We’re here. We can do something. We shouldn’t go back.”
 

Fiach Dubh

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Suddenly, they both heard a new voice crackling from the cockpit. Fiach and Gunder turned to look inside.

“...and you’d better get moving, Transport Four!” It was the control tower, situated on the other side of the great hangar. They wouldn’t have had a visual on the fight in the rain and darkness, but they certainly knew that the transport wasn’t in the air. “Get moving, or we’re coming over there to get you!”

“OK, there’s only one thing to do,”
she instructed. “We don’t have hyperdrive, but we do have a transport. There’s no sense walking the kilometres back to our ship in a monsoon.” She patted the broken console. “Ross, close it up and get us out of here.”

Gunder watched as Fiach stepped toward the forward viewport. Arms crossed behind her, she looked out upon the pouring rain.
 

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Fiach looked at the monitor. This can’t be. Not on her first mission.

She’d gotten a flash of the girl’s intentions through the Force moments after she left the bridge, before she’d reached the exit to the transport. Fiach had ordered Ross to secure all hatchways against opening from the inside – only to hear the whoosh when the main cargo gateway opened just as the transport was lifting off. She’d forgotten Gunder still had the remote control for the door from the ground crew chief. But Gunder hadn’t forgotten.

She had already landed in the mud and bounded off when Fiach reached the opening. The transport climbing too high to jump from, Fiach had dashed upstairs to the command centre. But even with altitude and the transport’s external sensors, the weather made it impossible to find a single figure on the ground.

“She can’t mean to go back to where we shot down the flight crew,” Fiach said, half aloud. It was too far on foot. But where else was there?

“We can’t linger here,” Ross said. They were sitting in mid-air, not going anywhere. It was back to their own ship or nothing. “There are dozens of fighters parked beyond the hangar. If we have to fight, we’ll never last two minutes.”

“I know.”
Using a pair of macrobinoculars, she scanned futilely ahead. “I know. But not a moment before–”

“Wait!”

To Fiach’s right, Ross pointed to one of the monitors looking to starboard and shouted. “Surface contact, organic! Mark two-seventy!”

“Give me the starboard gunnery cams, infrared!”
Fiach said. Images flickered on the screen. There, through the telescopic sighting of the vessel’s landing guns, she saw a single figure making its way from the large maintenance hangar. Fighting to bring the image into focus, Fiach was surprised to see sudden flashes of light from the contact. Green light.

“That’s her!” Fiach yelled.

Ignoring a second, more urgent call from the control tower, Fiach directed the transport down towards the besotted plain. Shaking her head, she marvelled. Gunder had made her lightsaber into a beacon by turning it on and off repeatedly.
 

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Gunder collapsed on the cargo deck, gasping for breath. Fiach had been ready in the open doorway to receive her, and it was a good thing, too. Ross, upstairs, had feared setting down again in the muck; the wiry girl had been forced to leap for the rain-slickened cargo ramp. If Fiach hadn’t been right there, she would have slipped off.

The girl rolled over, rainwater streaming off her. Fiach looked at her muddied outfit. With one heavy motion, Gunder pulled a large, opal tube from a long pants pocket and slapped it on the deck grating.

Fiach gaped. “Is that?”

“An activation cylinder!”

Appearing behind Fiach, Ross reached past her and grabbed the rolling mass.

Fiach knelt beside Gunder, still choking for breath.

Finally, through gasps for air, she spoke. “They had to have replacement navicomputers in the hangar,” Gunder said, dripping wet. “Activation cylinders right inside. No reason to hide the keys when there’s no ships attached!” Looking down at herself, she patted the uniform – a uniform with a large singed tear, front and back, where the lightsaber had entered earlier. “I just had to be able to get into the door. Luckily, no one really looked at me. It’s a pretty busy place.”

“I bet it is,”
Fiach said, as the transport gained elevation.

Finding her comlink, he called the bridge. “Are we in business, Ross?”

“We are indeed.”


Clicking off the comlink, Fiach patted Gunder on her shoulder as she stood and walked past. “Pretty good work for the first time out,” she said. “But you can see what I mean. You can be the best planner in the galaxy, but things out here change faster than we can plan for them.”

Shaking the water from her hair, Gunder looked back with a smirk. “Maybe I should have planned to bring a towel.”
 

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From that point onwards, the mission was relatively simple. In her de-briefing, Fiach was commended for her ability to work on the fly, when their initial plan went awry. She smiled ruefully and admitted readily that the changes were not of her doing and that others had improvised and worked in a way that the mission kept together.

“Precisely,” the Jedi Master said. “You operated well as a team and your leadership played to that strength. Many would have dictated the outcome but you allowed individuals to play to their strengths and deliver a successful mission. And through it all, you kept the mission at the front of your mind and did not get distracted by setbacks or others who may have acted against your true intentions. For this, as well as other missions of note, the Council have agreed that you’ve passed the Trial of Focus.”
 

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JEDI TRIAL: ANGER

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”

— Yoda

Fiach was not stupid. Nor was she arrogant or blinkered. But she was both lacking in social interaction and focused. The latter was hardly a crime, but it could sometimes form a pattern of behaviour that excluded a path you were not determined to follow. The former was biological. She lacked social skills because that was how her brain worked. It was linked not to a lack of emotions – the body still fired the relevant hormones to trigger responses, it was just the message never arrived. Or if it did, it was muted. This was therefore, for Fiach a blind-spot. She did not understand when she was sad, or truly comprehend what it meant. But her connection to the Force meant she was beginning to unlock the more basic emotions, especially when they were strong.
 

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Fiach adjusted the restraints on the co-pilot chair and leaned forward, eager for her first glimpse of the planet. The small freighter glided smoothly out of hyperspace, and star lines compressed into brilliant points of light – a beautiful sight, no matter how many times you saw it, but one that could have marked nearly any destination. Then the ship banked sharply to starboard, and a soft green haze bloomed against the darkness of space.

Mist clung to the deeply forested planet, and the slanting rays of the rising sun lent the humid atmosphere a luminous, verdant glow.

“It looks a bit like Kashyyk,” Fiach murmured.

Her gaze shifted to the man in the pilot seat. Dutt could add maybe twenty years to hers. His long hair was threaded with silver, and faint lines collected at the corners of his grey eyes – lines that suggested easy smiles and shared laughter. Dutt had the sort of face that inspired camaraderie and confidence, and probably would have even without the added charisma of his formidable Jedi powers. One thing was certain: People followed Dutt.

Fiach was curious to figure out why.
 

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The mists swirled up to receive their ship. Fiach shifted impatiently in her seat. Her fingers itched for the feel of the controls, and she briskly scrubbed one hand against the leg of her flight suit as if that could erase the urge to take over. Dutt was a Jedi Knight, however, and was in charge of the mission.

What she knew of the Knight was not entirely positive. His missions were often highly controversial, and his passionate advocacy of aggressive tactics brought discord at briefings.

But at some level, Fiach sensed that he was not a Knight for no apparent reason.

On that basis, she couldn’t argue against either his philosophy or his methods.

Dutt peered at the unbroken expanse of green rushing up toward their ship.

“The navicomputer confirms our landing coordinates, but I don’t see anything down there that looks like a city.”

“It is difficult to see from above. The city is constructed mostly of green marble and all the streets are lined with tall trees. Even the landing docks are paved with multi-coloured stone, making them indistinguishable from meadowland until you are almost upon them.”

“Makes you wonder what they’ve got to hide,” Dutt observed, slinging a quick, pointed glance at Fiach.

Fiach’s left eyebrow raised. It wasn’t a thought that had crossed her mind.
 

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They fell silent as Dutt made voice contact with the dock officials. He passed along the authorisation codes and deftly manoeuvred the ship down through layers of clouds.

Finally, they landed and the ramp unfolded. Fiach walked down and gazed around the docks with interest. She could see why this place was nearly invisible from above.

A stiff breeze stirred the thick, landbound clouds that filled the open docks and clung to the trees in the city beyond. Tall, swaying branches moved in and out of sight like timid forest animals. The docking bays were teaming with pilots, mechanics, and dock officials, all clad in flight-suits fashioned from mottled shades of green. They, too, seemed to move in and out of the mists in random patterns. Some odd optical quirk made their movements appear nearly identical to that of the swaying foliage.

Even so, workers immediately converged on any newly landed ship, using stout little hover sleds to move it into a docking bay covered by a tall, camouflaged canopy.

“The customs building,” Dutt said, nodding toward a low, green structure. “City officials will be expecting me there.” He set his shoulders back, in the manner of a warrior preparing to do battle and set off at a brisk pace.
 

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Fiach wove through the mist-laden maze of green marble buildings to the sprawling research district. The Jedi had been offered full cooperation and unquestioned access to the facility. Within moments, Fiach was seated before a terminal, her digits flying as she sifted through computerised records of the research, searching for anything that might provide any new information about Jedi settlements throughout the galaxy.

Something of Dutt’s words resurfaced for the Padawan and she pulled up and quickly memorised the layout and security of the complex.

Then, just as she was beginning to make progress, she came across files that were restricted. So much for total access, she mused.

She straightened up and turned to a technician. “I need to speak with the superintendent. Can you show me where I might find him?”

A peculiar expression crossed the technician’s face, but she pulled out her com-link and relayed Fiach’s request.
 

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In moments an armed escort arrived and guided her through a maze of pristine white halls. They left her before a large door, nodded toward a palm reader mounted beside the door, and left at a much faster pace than that which had brought them here.

Fiach shrugged, then placed her hand against the device. The door irised open. She ducked through into a large room, it was entirely empty. The door snapped shut behind her with a clang like that of a prison door.

There was nobody in the room and then, when she was wondering if she’d been brought to the wrong place, the door opened again and a technician entered.

“I’m afraid the superintendent can’t see you now.”

“OK, I’ll go back to my searches, thank you.”

“No…the systems are being re-booted. We’ll inform you when you can search again.”
 

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Dutt awaited her in the small galley. “Let’s hear it,” he said without preamble.

“There are records for sure. I don’t think they expected me to find them. When I did and asked for access, they gave me some story about the systems being down and politely showed me the exit.”

“You’re saying we should break in and see what those files contain?”

“No…”
Fiach had neither said nor meant it. “I mean, yes, I want to see what’s on them of course. But break in?”

“Then why did you memorise the security layout?”

“How did y–”

“I’m a Jedi,”
he responded.
 

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“We’re going in through the ventilation tunnels,” Fiach explained as they slipped into a dimly lit side corridor.

They stopped before a large, circular hatch. Dutt caught her wrist as she reached for the controls. “Wait. The light in this hall could trigger an alarm.”

He drew his lightsaber and swept it in a shining arc toward the ceiling lights. They flared sharply and then blinked out, leaving the hall in darkness.

Immediately a profound chill swept through Fiach. “What’s happening?”

“I have to lower our body temperature to match the air temperature in the tunnels,”
Dutt responded. “It might not be comfortable, but its necessary. Move slowly, keep alert.

Fiach eased the door open and hauled herself into the tunnel. The rounded passage was just big enough to crawl through, and it sloped downward. As Fiach pulled herself along, she quickly became grateful for the decline. The tunnels were cold, and her chilled limbs felt sluggish and unresponsive.

Finally, the tunnel levelled out, and an almost imperceptible bluish glow dawned at the end. Fiach picked up her pace. The tunnel opened into a rounded corridor big enough to allow them to walk upright. She rolled out, revelling in the soft light. The tunnel was still painfully cold, but after the utter darkness of the side tunnels, the faint diffused light felt oddly reassuring.
 

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They moved silently through a maze of tunnels, counting off side-tunnels and drainage shoots, following the pattern that Fiach had committed to memory. Finally the Padawan pointed to a hatch on the far wall.

“That’s it,” she said softly.

Without warning, the Jedi Knight dropped to the floor and executed a quick leg sweep. His attack was unbelievably quick – and would have been even quicker if he hadn’t been chilled to near-immobility. The Knight completed the spin and came up in one fluid movement.

He pivoted to one side, brought his knee up and snapped off a quick kick. Instantly Fiach fell back into lessons learned back at the temple. Recognising the feint, she ducked – under the first high kick. She pivoted hard toward the Jedi, timing her momentum to his second kick and slamming her stiffened forearm against the sensitive tendon just below the bunched muscle of his calf.

The jolt of impact was not nearly as hard as she’d expected. Too late, Fiach recognised the double feint. The Jedi’s third, powerful kick caught her off balance and sent her flying.

Fiach hit the rounded wall and rolled down. She came up on one knee, too cold and too angry to feel the pain that would certainly come later. The Jedi sneered and advanced, sweeping one stiffened leg up high for a powerful downward chop.

Instinctively Fiach threw out one hand toward her attacker. Lightning flared from her fingertips. Jagged, eerily dancing tendrils caught the Jedi, lifted him, and then hurled him across the tunnel.
 

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It was hard to say who was more shocked. Streaks of dark energy edged with searing blue-violet shadows poured from her, pinning the writhing, struggling Jedi against the tunnel wall. The lightning ended with an abrupt, audible sizzle as Fiach realised what she was doing.

For a moment she simply stared at the Jedi Knight, stunned at her own actions.

“Good…good,” he responded. “Doesn’t that feel good?”

“No,”
Fiach spat back.

“All those years of being a goody-two-shoes have finally taken their toll, yes?”

“No.”
Her response was softer this time. Slower.

“Your anger betrays your words,” he added, his voice silky and seductive.

“You’re a Jedi, yet you attacked me. Why?”

“To stop you finding out the truth. I never suspected we’d get this far. But I cannot let you go further.”
 

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“But you’re a Jedi?” The concept of this behaviour coming from someone she respected was alien to her psyche.

“It’s just a word. I’m just a man. And I want what I want. And the dark-side makes that possible. You felt it, how powerful it is.”

“I felt out of control,”
Fiach responded, her voice more steady now. “I felt…wrong.”

“Is it wrong to be strong?”

“It is wrong to be strong to oppress the weak, yes.”

“The weak don’t deserve us.”

“Are you a Sith?”


He laughed. “No, just someone who uses the Force for his own ends.”

“Then the stories about you are true, the bad ones?”


He shrugged, “Maybe.”

Fiach drew her saber but did not activate it. “Then you’re under arrest.”
 

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His laughter echoed down the corridor. “I’ve read your file. You can’t do it.”

“Do what?”
Fiach asked.

“Kill me.”

“I have no intention of killing you,”
she responded, “just bring you to justice.”

He drew his own saber. “You can beat me,” he said, “But only if you surrender to the dark-side.” And without warning, he began his attack.

Fiach was a proponent of Soresu and fell into a trance-like state, in connection with the Force. Her movements were fluid and directed by the energy that flowed through her. But she was a Padawan and he was a seasoned Knight. Slowly but surely he wore her down and she received a number of small burns as he found holes in her defence. None were crippling but cumulatively they tired her.

“Give in to your anger,” he said.

Fiach momentarily closed her eyes. But she wasn’t angry. And, at that moment she felt it and recognised it for what it was. But unlike before, when it controlled her – this time she was aware of it and chose to ignore it.

“There is no emotion, there is peace.”

She received another burn, this time to her cheek.

“There is no passion, there is serenity.”

She smelled the singeing of burnt hair and she gave herself fully to the Force.
 

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She did not know how it happened, merely that it happened. Her parries became stronger, more fluid. Her blade was in perpetual motion and slowly she backed the Knight up against a wall. Then, the Force indicated that the time was right. She’d spotted a ‘tell’ a movement he always used after a particular combination. With a flick of her wrists, she severed the hand holding his saber and deactivating her own with a hiss-snap, she threw it straight at his head, rendering him unconscious.
 

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“A positive experience?”

“Strangely, yes.”
Fiach was being de-briefed by a Jedi Master. “I mean, the whole lightning thing was wrong, very wrong, yet without it, I would never have been able to understand my anger or even realise it was there. My access to emotions and feelings are emerging and I am learning to both understand and regulate them.”

The Jedi Master nodded. “Yours is a strange case, make no mistake about it. But you handled this assignment like a true Jedi and even brought a rogue element to bear. We knew he had unusual ideas but had no idea he used the Dark side.”

Fiach gazed out of a window at the failing light. “It was…seductive…I will accept that. But it felt so wrong in every way imaginable.”

The Master nodded. “You have faced your anger and learned to both accept it and not let it dictate your actions. For that, the Jedi Council have decided that you have passed the Trial of Anger.”
 

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JEDI TRIAL: BETRAYAL

“An object cannot make you good or evil. The temptation of power, forbidden knowledge, even the desire to do good can lead some down that path. But only you can change yourself.”
— Bendu


Fiach cried out as the excruciating pain shot across her arm and shoulder. She felt the scorched fabric beneath her fingertips and, staring at her cloak, she saw the jagged slash that cut through to her skin. Sweat pouring from her face, Fiach looked up at the imposing figure standing at the top of the hill.

“Who are you?”

Maniacal laughter echoed against the impenetrable darkness of the mountainside.

“Why are you doing this?” Fiach screamed.

“Miss Dubh?”

A gruff, filtered voice jolted Fiach Dubh from her day-dream. Heart pounding, she wiped the cool sweat from her forehead and pushed a loose strand of hair from her eyes.

“Miss Dubh. You can pass now.”

Fiach stared up into the face of a trooper. Beneath her, she felt the gentle vibrations of her landspeeder’s repulsorlift engines as they idled silently at the security checkpoint. “Sorry,” she said, taking back her ID. As the trooper waved her through, the nightmarish vision remained an intrusion on her senses.

Closing her eyes, she drew in a deep breath, then released it.

Calm down, she told herself. Brief glimpses of the peculiar scene replayed themselves in her mind. They were vivid, poignant images accompanied by feelings of dread and helplessness. Ever since her encounter with the rogue Jedi, Fiach had begun to sense emotions – but rarely first-hand.

More often they were linked to dreams and visions.
 
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