Be gentle. I've never written a fanfic before.
(see the finished version in the Jedi Archives (clicky)
if you prefer the version without comments)
Set fairly shortly after the end of Kotor.
The Adventures of Jolee Bindo
As told to Jae Onasi
(Adapted from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)
Chapter 1: The Assignment
I stood before the Jedi Council on Coruscant, trying to remember Master Zhar’s teachings of the Jedi Code to calm the nervousness that seemed to well up unexpectedly and unwanted. Today was the day I would find out if I would be able to continue my training as a Jedi. If I wasn’t selected by a Jedi as a Padawan, I knew I would either return to Onderon or be sent to Telos to help with the Restoration Project. I was already much older than any other apprentice. I had been living on Onderon when Master Kavar discovered my Force affinity and petitioned the Council to waive the age limit. However, that exemption wouldn’t last forever.
“You thoughts betray you, Apprentice,” growled Master Vrook, “Your fear radiates from you.”
“Mind your teachings, Jae,” Master Zhar said calmly, “Let the emotions ebb and the peace will return.”
I felt the encouragement from him. I took a deep breath and willed the emotions to subside. The anxiety would do nothing to help this situation, and so I let it go.
“You have made great strides in your training since I first met you,” Master Kavar said, approvingly. “Your healing and saber skills are much stronger and your mind control is more focused.”
Master Vandar added in his unique style of speaking, “Much progress have you made in your training. That is why before us you have come.”
“A Master has agreed to accept you as Padawan.” Master Vash said. I was elated, but my joy was short-lived when she announced, “Master Jolee Bindo has decided to take you as his student and teach you more of the ways of the Force.”
Master Jolee Bindo was a hero of the Star Forge Battle and recipient of the Republic’s highest honor, the Cross of Glory. He had left the Jedi Order some time ago, but after the defeat of Darth Malak, he decided to return. The Council gladly welcomed him back, and, deeming his skills worthy of any Master Jedi, they awarded him that title. He agreed to take Padawans for training. However, he had developed quite the reputation among us apprentices as a Jedi who rejected a Padawan as quickly as accepting one. The Padawans were usually returned summarily to the Council with such terse comments as “She’s more fearful than a Wookiee on his first hunt in the Shadowlands,” and “His pride is about to make his head explode. I won’t be responsible for cleaning his remains up after he aggravates the wrong person with his overbearing attitude.”
Master Vrook commented, “He is not as disciplined in training Padawans as I would like. Nevertheless, we feel Master Jolee and you complement each other in personality and skills. You and he could become a strong team as you grow in the knowledge of the Force.”
“The decision is also yours,” Master Zhar added. “You may accept or decline his offer. We do not force anyone to enter into a teacher-student relationship. However, the Council feels this would be best for both of you.”
I reflected on all this for a moment. There were no other Jedi I knew who could take on a Padawan at this time. I allowed my thoughts on Master Jolee to flow freely. I had no sense of turmoil telling me that this would not turn out well. I merely sensed strength and purpose in a merging of our paths—and a swirl of activity. We certainly wouldn’t be hermits meditating all day.
“Ah, serve you well your insight does,” Master Vandar observed, “and strong are you. Already you see how this path could be, but be mindful that the future is always in motion. Many paths you may yet follow.”
Master Kavar leaned forward in his chair and smiled, “You can see that it is the Force guiding your paths together, can’t you?”
I considered their words and made my decision. “I am honored that the Council has selected me for further training, and I am grateful for Master Jolee’s offer to take me as his Padawan,” I answered with no small degree of gravity. “I will work hard with him to learn the ways of the Force so I can become a worthy member of the Order.”
Master Vash noted with a nod of approval, “Yes, I do not sense that you will be the 11th Padawan that he abruptly returns to us.”
I raised an eyebrow at that one. I knew there had been several before me, but 10 others?
She continued, “We have also noticed that you have great knowledge of history, and we need to make use of that skill. Many of the records of Master Jolee’s adventures were lost when Malak destroyed the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine. One of your tasks, in addition to your training, will be to talk with Master Jolee to reconstruct these records. His contributions in and out of the Order are significant, and we cannot afford to lose that wisdom and knowledge.”
I nodded my agreement at this task. History was a pursuit I enjoyed.
Master Zhar followed, “Jedi I’iwi leaves tomorrow for the same sector, so you will have time to gather your possessions and say your good-byes to your fellow apprentices today.”
Master Vrook added, “You will find him at times abrupt and impatient, but he nonetheless deserves your respect. He’s a crusty old man, but has a good heart.”
I immediately quashed the thought that Master Vrook obviously would be more acquainted with that attitude than anyone else would. Apparently, I didn’t stop that thought quickly enough, however—I caught faint smiles on the faces of both Master Kavar and Master Vandar.
Master Kavar stood along with all the others, walked over, and handed me a light brown Padawan robe. “The Queen wanted to make sure I gave you this as a gift from Her to remind you of home.”
I had been in her service before leaving for Jedi training. The robe was well constructed of a sturdy material and had subtle detailing around the collar.
“It is exquisite. When you return there, please tell Her Majesty that I am deeply honored by Her gracious gift. I will always think fondly of Onderon and my Queen when I wear this.”
After I had donned it, he embraced me warmly, and said, “We welcome you to the Order, Padawan Jae Onasi!”
I debarked from the shuttle and squinted into the bright sun, enjoying the warm breezes on my face and the faint perfume of flowers in the air mingling with the other scents of the planet. Throngs of people bustled about, some focused and business-like, others loudly and excitedly greeting their arriving relatives or friends. I searched the platform for Master Jolee. Not seeing him, I stretched out in the Force to see if I could feel his presence.
I found him. He was standing right behind me. I turned around, not quite erasing my startled look. He looked taller in the holovids, but otherwise everything else was just as he appeared there—dark brown eyes and skin, bald, mostly gray beard. The holovids never quite caught the essence of the eyes, though—his showed intelligence, the weight of his myriad experiences in life, and a bit of crinkling at the sides showing he was no stranger to the humor in life.
“Well, it’s about time you finally noticed I was there,” Jolee snorted. “I was beginning to wonder if Vrook had sent me some kind of Force-blind idiot. Your first lesson: Always be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes things come from your blind side, and enemies certainly will exploit that.”
This was my introduction to the man who would both delight me with his wit and frustrate me to no end with his gruff ways.
I could only manage a rather meek “Yes, Master Jolee,” as I absorbed that lesson.
He continued, “Come, you’ve had a long flight. I’ll take that,” he said, taking some of my gear out of my hands. He noted my surprise. “What? Just because I’m supposed to be some master Jedi type, I can’t help a tired Padawan and carry a bag? Come on. If we’re lucky, we’ll catch good traffic back to our quarters and our dinner won’t have burned. And don’t stand there with your mouth half open. The flies around here taste terrible.” He screwed up his face in mock distaste. I couldn’t help but laugh, and off we went.
When we arrived at his quarters, he showed me my room and set my gear down. “It’s not big, but it’s comfortable. You unpack and I’ll finish dinner.”
“Thank you, Master Jolee, this is very nice,” I replied. It was indeed nice—larger than most quarters I’d lived in, with solid, comfortable furniture and a small office off the spacious bedroom. A large window overlooked a nature preserve, and the scene was very peaceful.
“Every time you say ‘Master’, it makes me want to look around for someone else like Vrook. I’d rather you just called me Jolee,”
“Yes, sir,” I replied.
Jolee rolled his eyes in mock dismay, “Well, granted I’m old, and I’ve certainly earned the title of ‘Sir’ and some respect, but if we’re going to be working together closely in tough situations, we can dispense with some of the formalities. I certainly know a lot more than you about the Force and I’m going to teach you a lot of about it, but we’re both Jedi. Unless,” he added with a bit of humor in his eyes, “we’re in front of the Council. I think Vrook likes to see the Padawans virtually grovel at the feet of their Masters. Play it up then.”
I grinned at that.
“While you’re at it, throw that Padawan robe in the refresher. It needs it,” he said. I quickly inspected my robe to make sure I hadn’t soiled it somehow. I must have looked offended, because he went on, “what, you think I’m complaining about some smell or a little dirt? I’m not making inferences about your hygiene, you know. I just happened to notice you’re scratching your neck a lot where the collar is rubbing. It’s a new robe, and if you run it through the refresher a couple times, it won’t be as stiff. We Jedi get into plenty of uncomfortable spots. You may as well have a comfortable robe. Now, when you’re done putting your stuff away, find the kitchen. You don’t need the Force for that—your nose should be good enough. A Jedi who depends just on the Force and forgets his own senses is a fool.” He walked off to finish the meal preparations while I put away my belongings.
After we had finished a good dinner, I told him about the project that the Council wanted me to do during my training with him.
“Why in the world do you want to talk history with me? Books aren’t going to teach you Jedi skills. You should be out making history, not standing around chatting up old men! You’re not getting any younger, you know.” Jolee protested at the request to chronicle his adventures as a Jedi.
“Well, a lot of people could learn a lot of things from your experiences,” I offered.
Jolee grunted, “Humph. A lot of people could learn a lot of things if they just opened their eyes long enough to look around and really see what’s going on in the world, too, and I don’t see that happening.” He leaned back in his chair and stroked his chin. “Well, if you’re willing to listen to an old man’s tales every now and then, I suppose I could humor you with this little project of yours. However, I’m going to do it on my timetable and talk about what I want to talk about. You can do that when you get to my age, and you’ll just have to deal with it.”
He sat down over at his workbench and proceeded to look over some project he was working on.
I was willing to go along with his decision, given that I really had no other choice. So I waited for him to start a story. And waited, and waited, and waited.
When I tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn, he looked up. “You still here? My throat is dry, and you need rest after a long trip! I’ll have something for you tomorrow.” “But, sir…” I began to argue. “Don’t give me that ‘Sir’ stuff. Out! Shoo!” and with that, I was dismissed for the night.