Ask Tatooine The Force Surrounds Us...

Kyp Eridan

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The Ship heaved and jerked from side to side as Kyp pulled up on the yolk to arrest their descent into the wilds of the desert planet. He heard things scattering around behind him in the living quarters. Hopefully it wasn't anything too important. Today was to be an important day, after all. He had an important task for his Padawan, after all. It was no good to study a lightsaber unless one knew what worked best for them, and for this reason, Kyp had set off to find a place where the pair could seek the ancient crystals. It was not easy to locate them, with the Empire's consumption of the minerals for their Death Stars and the loss of the planet ilum, finding a natural crystal required attuning oneself to the Force and listening very carefully. It would be a good test for his young apprentice, after all. She needed to work to open herself up more to the Force, after all. Where better to work on such a task than on a desolate planet such as Tatooine. He had selected a place near some ancient ruins, and hoped that perhaps they might have some connection to the Order of old. These were the first steps, and even if they did not find a crystal on this excursion, he was sure that his apprentice would learn much about herself while meditating in the scorching sun.

These thoughts ran through his head as the ship came to a rough landing, almost even a small crash, the landing gear creaking as it settled unstably on the sand dune. With that, Kyp turned around and smiled brightly. At least he hadn't karked it up as bad as he had before. Flying was harder than he had ever imagined it would be, and he was not showing many signs of improvement, and he was honestly pretty sure that even Altina could fly better than he could. Still, with enough trust in the Force, one could at least arrive at Point Besh from Point Aurek, after all. Kyp looked about for his apprentice, walking confidently out of the cockpit, and into what he assumed might be a book or holodisc or two on the deck of the ship, but was almost definitely worse.

He raised his hand and scratched the back of his head as he gazed about the mess. "Still not as bad as the last time I was here." He said with a grin and a chuckle. "Are you ready, Padawan? You will listen to the call of the Force, seek out anything it wishes you to find, and hopefully with time, you will know where your crystal is."

It had taken him a good week to get permission from the Council to have Altina obtain her lightsaber, but after pleading his case, and making note of the fact that she was a special circumstance given the visions and that he wanted to make sure she would be safe even with limited use of the Force as an aid, he had finally won them over. It had been the hardest task of his career. Even those Gundarks had been easier to win over than the Council. But still, he would not see his Padawan left behind while he went galavanting off on some new expedition, and his work could not remain on hold for an indefinite period of time, either. Plus, she had deserved a reward to help ease the hardships she faced even opening herself up to the Force.

Kyp could still remember the fear, the anger, the look on her face, the first time she had tried, and he felt the shudder run down his spine. It always served as a reminder to him of the good he could do for others even outside the realms of his books and histories. She was progressing, every day she improved, and it kept that broad smile on his face daily. But deep down, he wondered, was he doing enough? Would Altina have done better mentored by someone other than he? Perhaps someone who understood people better? And like that, the cold sliver of doubt returned, even for just a brief second before he pushed it down again.

@Lavi
 

Altina Tiramara

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She never thought that there would be something that scared her as much as the visions once did, but Master Eridan's piloting skills managed to do it. Master Eridan did tell her that he was not that good of a pilot, but Altina presumed that he was downplaying his skills. Seeing the mess that her master left on the floor, Altina quietly vowed to never decorate her quarters, in anticipation of the abuse they would likely find with him in the pilot's seat.

Only when the ship finally settled on the ground did Altina feel at ease in the co-pilot's seat. She had no experience piloting whatsoever, compared to Master Eridan, so there were few options for alternative pilots. Before she stood up to escape from the cockpit, Altina gazed out of the viewport at Tatooine's endless desert.

The whispers that she hears seemed different than the ones that she had grown accustomed to hearing on Ajan Kloss. On the forest planet, there was far more whispers of training, meditation, instruction, and other activities that Jedi would do at the planet's temple. On this planet, it felt like there was much more suffering, pain, and loss.

Altina already wasn't fond of this world, but her intuition, combined with Master Eridan's knowledge, has pointed the search for her kyber crystal towards this world. The homeworld of the grandmaster Luke Skywalker, whom Master Eridan had her study back at the temple. Why did the Force point her here?

The padawan closed her eyes, allowing the whispers and visions to show her what they wanted to show. Sand people completely covered in cloth to protect them from the sun's rays. Hooded small creatures jabbering about whatever scrap they were able to find in the desert. Blaster shots. Anger. Sadness. But the whisper that seemed to resonate in her mind more than anything else was not a whisper at all.

It was the roar of a great beast.

She cringed at the sound as it felt as though it pierced her eardrums. The sound of the beast faded over time, allowing Altina to finally look at her master.

"A large creature might lead us to it. Whatever monster that lives on this planet," she finally said. "Though, I'm not sure where to look."

@Srota
 

Kyp Eridan

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Kyp waited by the ramp leading out of the ship. The harsh light of the twin suns beat down on him, even in the shade. Kyp could feel himself dehydrating already. But he knew that he would be able to survive, the Force would provide, after all, and he would make sure that Altina has enough rations and water to last for at least three days. He could feel the weight of his Journal slipped into a secure area of his robe and cloak. He would need it to record how Altina reacted to her meditations. In addition, this was Altina's trial, not his. It would be on her to lead the pair while listening to the will of the Force.

As she approached, he offered her a soft smile. "Well, Altina, a great beast? Sounds like a Krayt Dragon. If that is what the Force seeks from you, then that is what it will be. This is your personal task, Altina, you must use what I have taught you over the past weeks so that you can open yourself to the Force and let it guide you to the crystal. Be sure you bring two or three days worth of rations and water for yourself. I will be not far behind you, but I will not aid you. This is something all padawans must experience for themselves after all."

Kyp stood up and descended the ramp of the ship, pulling up the hood of his robes as his feet fell into the sand. He could feel his feet sinking into the sand with every step as he made his way out far enough from the ship before letting Altina take over. He watched as she passed him. It was up to her how they would proceed, and Kyp could not help but keep the flutter of excitement in check. This would be very new to him, a chance to see how she would be able to focus with a goal in mind. Coming up with that focus would be key for her skills with the Force, and he wanted her to have the experience he did not.

Slowly Kyp let his eyes close, in part to reduce the glare and in part to aid in the recollections as his memory recalled the events of his own trial...

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Altina Tiramara

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Altina had gathered her belongings before following her master down the ramp, listening to what he had to say. My task?

Altina couldn't hide her shock. All this time, Master Eridan was the one to lead her. He was both mentor and father, giving both the instruction and warmth that she needed. And now, he let go of the reins.

How do I even begin? Where is the first step?

Her heart rate quickened as Altina quietly panicked. Master Eridan always had the answers for her, but now he expected her to find those answers herself. What is there to do if the answers are not clear? Her self reflection made her oblivious to the gust of wind that threw dust into her face. Grunting as the sand bit into every nook and cranny it could find, Altina instinctively covered her face with closed eyes and twisting out of the way of the sandy torrent. It was in that moment that she found her first answer.

"These are your first steps," a voice consoled her.

She opened her eyes and she saw, in the distance, what looked like a rocky outcropping. It did not seem to resemble anything in particular, but it seemed like she was supposed to be able to see it. Is this the way to the krayt dragon that Master Eridan mentioned? It seemed scary enough that the Force bellowed the sound of such a creature into her ears, but are they really going to run into a dragon?

Her fears and nerves relented just enough for Altina to take the first step. And then the next. It did not help remind her that she should have ensured that she brought the supplies that Master Eridan said that she should have, but her mind was already set on moving forward. With each reassuring step, Altina stayed focused on the path before her.

Little did either know that a sandstorm was brewing. By the time they knew it, they would be engulfed in the desert's fury, unable to see anything at all. It was the kind of storm that would force inhabitants to seek shelter indoors, but neither Altina nor Kyp had that luxury. Rather than offering reprieve from the blistering heat, the mighty winds made the feeling of dehydration feel even worse, drying what little moisture there was left instead of evaporating it.

It was only then that Altina remembered that Master Eridan had told her to bring enough rations to last the trip. However, she only had enough for a day. Being in the thick of the storm, that day's worth of rations is meaningless unless she wanted to fill up her stores with sand instead of her provisions. She desperately wanted to drink, but Altina did not want to risk losing more water than she bargained for in the storm.

Eventually, she found a rocky outcropping that was suitable for shielding her from the worst of the windy bellows. As she took her canteen, Altina realized her hands were shaking. Never in her life had she been in weather this harsh, essentially on her own, in search of something that she is not even sure is there.

Even with the howling gale, the sounds of the voices in her head never ceased to remind her of the struggles of daily life on the planet. The hardship of relying on moisture evaporators, trying to grow food in the few oasis that allowed for vegetation, the criminal life that thrives on the planet, and more.

After taking a sip of water, Altina capped it and tried to focus in order to temper her visions. It was a miracle at this point that her condition did not play the sort of tricks she experienced on Ajan Kloss, but she still could not let down her guard. Even when those voices seem to suggest that she should keep moving.

Why? One would naturally want to stay sheltered until this storm blew over. But those voices kept pushing her. She felt paralyzed, split between the options before her. All this time, Altina had rejected everything that the visions had been telling her, but those times were primarily nonsensical allusions that were safe to ignore. But now: it seemed as though the voices were trying to give her direction. Is this what Jedi normally experience when they rely on the Force? Master Eridan never really talked about how he experienced the Force with her: the lack of foresight to ask the question clawed at Altina's thoughts.

Without a doubt, Altina felt alone and helpless, but it was not as though she had not felt that way before. Back then, she did not have the training or knowledge to be able to do anything other than curl up in a corner and cry. But she is a Jedi now. She calmed herself, closing her eyes and rebuilt her focus. What would Master Eridan say that she should do?

@Srota
 

Kyp Eridan

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Jedi Knight Kyp Eridan stood at the bottom of the ramp to his ship, eyes closed, his mind wandering as she walked away, off to find her own kyber crystal. Was this trial really a test for his Padawan? Or was it a trial for him instead? He could not help but wonder, given the anxiety and concern he felt for her, out in the desert, a Krayt Dragon somewhere out on the sands. He could feel the dark tendrils of fear worming though his thoughts, and he took a deep breath, slowly letting himself exhale, his fears escaping on the breath and out into the whirling sands. A few moments later, he was coughing and sputtering, sand flying out of his mouth and everywhere. Well, this was starting to get worse and worse. But he had to restrain himself. Altina needed to do this for herself, she needed to have her independence, she needed to overcome trials on her own else she would never have the confidence to do so without him. Was it really for he best to leave her out there? Would this really be the right thing she needed? He really wondered, especially given how his own trial had gone.

Memories flooded back. Pain. Darkness. Fear. Worry. Calmness. Years of training flashed before his eyes. The memory of his Master, shoving him off the ship, letting him fall to the planet below. The Force coming, lashing out, helping him to land. The lack of emotion in the voice of his Master, the order not to return without the crystal. The forest looming around him at night, the vibrant life around him, the Force calling out to him, guiding him, bringing him through each hardship. It had been something he would never forget, nor something he had wanted to inflict on others. But now, he wondered, had that been the reason why his Master had put him through such hardships? He had come from a life of relative ease, a peaceful world, even a relatively high initial skill level with the Force. Had it been about showing him hardship, forcing him to overcome the difficulties he faced without the trappings of skill and wealth and ease he had relied on before? Just as he was doing now with Altina? Putting her through the hardships she needed to come out stronger on the other side?

Kyp collapsed to the sands, he had allowed himself to wander away from the ship some small distance without realizing it. It was still in sight, of course, but barely so, as the elements of the sandstorm raged about him. Kyp rolled over and sat up, shutting his eyes from the stinging sands. Slowly, he let his breathing slow to barely a crawl, entering a meditative trance such as he had learned so long ago on his own trial as he tried to survive without food and water for days on end. Now he would use the skills he had learned on his own trial. A trial of mentorship. He reached out with his senses, seeking her. Despite the desert, there was still plenty of life, animals and other lives could always be found in even the harshest climates. But he found her, alive. And then he withdrew his senses. Pulling them back to his own mind once more, he turned them internally.

Fear. Worry. Concern. Attachment. They raged within him. Each sentiment a storm akin to the one surrounding him, buffeting his soul much as the sands whipped across his face. He wondered if this was really the right attitude for a mentor to take. Was this a sign that he did not trust his own student? Could his unease be affecting her? He forced his presence down further. She needed no guidance from him. She was ready. Wasn't she? He had done his best to prepare her. But was that even enough to truly help her? Were his skills up to the task at hand? Was he the right mentor for her? The heat of the desert suddenly became chill as ice. Was it night? Was it day? He could not tell any longer. The trance had removed all perception of time. Instead, all he could feel were his fears, his uncertainty. He was not ready for this. He knew he wasn’t. Thoughts raged within him. Failure. Useless. Unprepared. They screamed at him, reminding him he had led to this moment. Sure that she would not return.

Or was he? He stopped. He picked apart each thought, applying the light of reason to each. Gazing inward, reminding himself to trust in not only himself, but in her. She was ready. She could do this. She needed to do this. Slowly, he forced the darkness down, his mind clearing. This was his trial. He would not fail. He would not fail her.

@Lavi
 
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