Thread: Acceptance
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Old 10-03-2006, 12:42 PM   #28
machievelli
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The trials: New version

“You are ready for the Jedi trials.” Luke told her. Twyna felt the thrill she had before, but at the same time almost a year of being taught by the Jedi came to the fore. She saw Master Skywalker looking at her. Would he decide she wasn’t good enough yet?

He walked to a door, pointing. “Through that door is your trial.”

“My trial?” She asked.

“Back when the order was larger, the trial was an important mission, and failure sometimes meant death.” He explained. “However these days any such mission is also too important to simply hand to an untrained child, and most are so dangerous even one of the full fledged Jedi might fail, so it is closer to murder than I can accept. So I have created a trial just for you.”

She considered what he had said. He had taken the time to make her very own trial...Should she be impressed by the effort or terrified that the one person that knew her had rigged the test? He watched her quietly.

“What if I want to wait?” She asked.

He looked at her, smiling that same small smile. “Twyna, what makes you think you would be forced to take this test? I said that you were ready. Not that you had to do it.”

“But...” She looked at the door. “I’m afraid I’ll fail.”

Luke reached out, his hand gentle on her shoulder. Of the people here, only he and Jaden could touch her without permission. “We can’t always win.” He told her. “If we did the Jedi would not have been destroyed almost a dozen times throughout history.

“But we have to try. Sometimes we will fail, sometimes we will die. But if we don’t try, the enemy wins always.” He shook her gently. “You could stay and be a teacher instead.”

She snorted in derision. The problem was that with only about a couple of dozen or so Jedi, most of them on missions, the teaching at the Academy was of the catch and catch can variety. Everyone with a skill had been dragooned into it at one time or another. Kyle was good with the basics of how to use the force, but like Twyna when she had begun, subtly was not his method except when he dealt in practical joking. She had laughed when he’d accidentally caused all of the toilets to back up explosively earlier that year.

Jaden was good when it came to the actual fighting styles, and she’d learned a lot from him there. But he tended to go for broke. Where she came up with intricate plans like their take down of the mob boss on Nar Shaddaa, he would have probably leveled the building he had been in.

Twyna had found that she was a sneak and scoundrel. When an older boy here had been calling her names, she had been the one that slid a mec-serpent in his bed. It wasn’t dangerous, the snake was venomous, but the poison was closer to a bee sting. But it was highly aggressive, and watching him run through the halls with a 30 centimeter snake chasing him had been the high point of the evening.

The low point had been when she had to explain that she had literally talked the snake into sleeping there. The next thing she knew, she was called upon as a teacher. It wasn’t an easy skill to learn, and she had almost loosed much larger animals on the dunderheads she had as students when they couldn’t seem to get it.

So okay, she had little patience with those who couldn’t seem to grasp something that simple. After all the entire population of Onderon knew how the Beast Riders did the same thing!

“I don’t think I’m cut out to be a teacher.” She replied dryly.

“Really.” Luke looked at her, and she could have sworn that he was smirking. “Just because you almost inundated your class in viper hawks?”

She’d forgotten about that. She had been concentrating on calling a single viper hawk to sit before her class last month, and instead she had caught one of the fertile females. It had been at the height of estrus, with the pheromones to match, and every male for several kilometers had charged after her. So instead of a single hawk, they had several hundred.

“That was an accident.”

“Well you could teach that trick you have with machines-”

“Oh gods, no!” She laughed helplessly. Not long after she had arrived, she found she had a knack with machines. When she had been aboard the ship long ago, she had been able to make machines work or not work by tapping a bulkhead near them. She couldn’t explain how it worked, but it did. When she had gotten here, she had been walking down a hall past a flickering light the first week after she had been here, and she had merely looked at it, tapped the wiring leading to it, and it stopped flickering. One of the other students had seen her, and asked her to show him how she had done it. It was actually quite simple, and he had shown others.

A lot of others.

Suddenly classes were being disrupted all over the compound as bored kids would cause lights to flicker, go out, or in one rather abrupt case, explode. They had traced the source, and she had been told firmly not to teach it to anyone else outside of an organized class.

Luke watched her, and now she knew he was grinning. She raised her hands shrugging. “Do you really want that to happen again?”

He smiled. “Not really. But it is a good skill for escaping from a stasis tube.”

“If you don’t care what happens to the ship.” She agreed. The one test they had made, having Twyna in a stasis tube had caused the complete rewiring of the ship afterward.

“Then maybe the safest thing to do is have you take the Trials, so if anyone else’s ship gets blown up, it is some bad guy’s.”

“Okay, okay.” She said. She looked at the door. “What do I do?”

“Walk through the door.”

She sighed, then went to it. The door had been magnetically locked, and for a moment, she thought he had been joking. But no. The trials were supposed to test your skills, right? She used that knack, and the magnetic lock slipped, the door hissing open.

The passageway beyond felt... wrong. Her lightsaber lit, and she walked into it. The door hissed closed behind her. Then a dozen light turrets popped down, and she found herself automatically deflecting the blasts. She began sending them back, each blast reducing the attack until only smoking wreckage remained. She walked down the passage, and opened the next door. she smelled a choking gas, and reached within her, her body adapting. Then she walked into the room. There were three doors, but none of the opened at her touch. They had been mechanically locked. Above the doors, she could see keys dangling, and she went to the first, leaping up to take the key down. It fit the lock, but the door only revealed a switch. She threw it, but nothing happened. She went to the door opposite the one she had entered, retrieved that key, but again, there was only a switch. That one caused the first switch to snap back upright.

She went to the last door, and again found only a switch. That switch did nothing.

She closed her eyes, feeling with the force. It was an intricate puzzle box with her inside it. The left switch had to be thrown, then the right switch, then the center switch to open...

She found the door in the floor. She went down the stairway it revealed, into another passage below her. That passageway led to a five meter wide pit that went straight up almost fifty meters. Every five meters or so, there was a ledge in a staggered pattern on the edges.

She glanced at them, then using the force to augment her muscles, leaped to the first one. They weren’t that wide, and she caught at the stone wall, finding a handhold. Then she leaped up and across to the next and then up to the next.

She crawled over the edge of the pit, looking around. There was something familiar about where she was. Her foot crunched, and she looked at the litter of bones on the ground. She hunkered down. looking at them. They had been picked clean by the insects that lived on the planet, but the scarring on the bones themselves told her it had probably been something a viper hawk would eat.

But for the bones to be here... She slowly looked upward. Viper hawk nests, Lots of viper hawk nests.

After her accident earlier in the year, Twyna had studied the viper hawks. The viper hawk was a social creature, and they lived in nesting areas on the edges of mountains and in the taller trees. The average colony was between seven and ninety nests.

From her slow look this was the nest half a kilometer from the Academy buildings. She had actually surveyed this nest complex.

From the air.

The problem was, viper hawks were fiercely territorial. One wasn’t too much of a danger to an adult human.

A couple of hundred could be lethal.

She stood, and began calming herself. If she ran, they would be startled, and attack. If she stood here, it was only a matter of time before one of them decided to investigate the odd thing in their midst, and if it became alarmed, they would attack. Moving meant she might alarm them and again, an attack would commence.

No options.

She began moving slowly, careful not to step on any of the brittle bones at her feet. In some places that meant she would have to backtrack.

It took longer to pass through the nesting area to safety than she had spent on the entire course up to that point. She reached the woods beyond, and paused. That last hour had been nerve-wracking.

She followed the path on, coming to a straight run of perhaps 100 meters with stone walls on either side. Her head cocked. Something about it... She looked up, and there on the edges were the other students, watching her calmly. Then something clicked. She looked back as a large rounded boulder came loose, landed in the channel created by the walls, and began to roll toward her.

“Run!” Someone shouted. She turned, and took off like a rocket, charging down the channel. The footing was treacherous, and she gasped as she stumbled once. If that rolled over her they could just fold up her remains and bury her in an envelope! Above her the others had knelt, and as she passed, each put out a hand as if to help. “Jump up!” They shouted. “We’ll catch you!”

She ran, terror rising, then suddenly she leaped, catching a hand, and found herself pulled over the edge as the boulder rolled past. She found herself in someone’s arms panting with terror. Only after she was safe did she look at who it was.

She hugged Mali hard.

There was shouting, some of it derisive as they stood there.

“Not bad.” Kyle Katarn commented coming from the brush nearby. “A lot of desserts changed hands over this.”

“What?”

“We told the others what the last test would be.” Kyle commented. “Almost everyone thought you would have gone a bit further down, where there’s a narrow ramp. The ones that thought you’d actually trust someone bet you’d grab a hand.”

“But I almost got killed!”

“Oh really?” Kyle pointed toward the bottom end of the corridor. The boulder was rolling back up the channel, albeit not as fast as it had descended. As it passed, the three young men pushing it waved, and kept pushing.

“Foamed Pyro-plastic.” Kyle told her. “It would have hurt, but kill you? Nah.”

“And how did you bet?” She looked up at Mali.

“I waited for odds before I bet. I am going to get sick eating nothing but dessert for dinner.”

“You!” She leaned up pecking him on the cheek. “I get some of it!”


'To argue with those who have renounced the use and authority of reason is as futile as to administer medicine to the dead.' Now who said that?

From the one who brought you;
What we die for...
Acceptance
KOTOR excerpts
Star Wars: The Beginning
Star Wars: Republic Dawn
Return From Exile
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