So a while back, I used this fun little ship called the Eagle's Wing
as the personal transport of a character known as Crystal Grey. Those who've been around a while might recognize the names
Anyway, this is the story of Eagle's First Flight... or rather, how Eagle came to be... and a little something else woven in...
And if it seems a bit far-fetched, don't worry... I wrote it between midnight and one in the morning, so that's probably just my lack of sleep writing
Eagle's First Flight
It was hard work, building a ship. Jessa Grey now knew that better than most, but she was more intent than ever to see it complete. She had
to do it. Life here on Dantooine was getting her family nowhere, not even with the Jedi having set up shop not far off. The plains were still somewhat dangerous with all the Kath Hounds and the Jedi didn't seem overly concerned with them. And why should they be with those lightsabers of theirs? Jessa snorted. Why indeed?
"Sorry I'm late, Jess." It was the voice of her elder brother, Jossam calling up from the ground level to where Jessa was hanging by a harness from the framework she and a few close friends (including Jossam) had begun to assemble. Currently, it didn't look like much, but they'd have a ship one day. And when they did, all of them would be leaving Dantooine for good.
Jossam was chuckling as he strapped himself into a harness beside his sister and he reached over to give her long brunette braid a gentle tug.
"Hey!" she yelped, taking a swing at him with the tool in her hands.
"Looks like a tail," he teased. Jessa laughed.
"Make fun of my hair all you want," she said, "I've still done more on the ship than you have."
It was true. Jessa Grey was the heart and soul of this project, the first one to arrive at the framework after work, and the last one to leave, late at night when it was long past dark.
"No comment," Jossam chuckled. "Any thoughts on a name yet?"
"I have to see the completed work first," Jessa replied. "Naming something isn't a thing to rush, Joss. We have to know what sort of thing she is before we name her. Or him..."
A grin spread across Jossam's face. "Him?"
Jessa blushed. "You never know..."
Jossam and Jessa continued to work on the framework and they were gradually joined by four others arranged somewhere between Jossam and Jessa in age, that is between nineteen and twenty-four. Three hours came and went, and the group took a break for dinner. They laughed and talked about anything from school (for the younger ones) to work (for the older ones), the latest toys (younger) and tools of the trade (older). As they were finishing up, a twenty-one year old named Restik Vailar turned his eyes to the sky.
"Jessa, I'm not liking the look of those clouds," he said thoughtfully. "Think maybe we should call it a night."
Jessa looked up at the clouds and shrugged. "We'll be alright, Res," she decided.
"I dunno, Jess," Restik insisted. "I know you want this thing to move along, but you know it'll be dangerous to work in a storm."
"You don't know there's a storm coming," Jessa argued. "Just some ugly clouds. Alright, listen. If it starts to rain, we'll be done, alright?"
Restik stood. "No. I'm done now. I just get this... feeling, Jess. We shouldn't work tonight."
"C'mon, Res," Jossam teased. "A little rain never hurt anyone."
One by one, the others joined in, urging Restik to stay with them. Upset, he finally agreed and they went back to work. An hour later, the clouds Restik had complained about were directly overhead and a few drops of rain began to fall. Again, Restik attempted to persuade the others to give up for the night, and again they needled him into keeping on.
Another ten minutes passed and Restik stopped suddenly. "Everyone get off the framework. Now." It was the kind of voice you didn't dare disobey and everyone began scrambling to do as they'd been told. In her defense, it must be said that Jessa tried, but she was the highest up on the framework and her harness had caught on a piece that hadn't been smoothed out yet. With a hiss of frustration Restik lunged for the framework, intending to help Jessa free herself. When he was halfway up to her, Restik saw lightning lance into a nearby hilltop. He cringed, knowing that the framework couldn’t be too far behind that in terms of targets for a lightning bolt. Their friends on the ground scattered.
Restik had just reached Jessa when both of them felt the hair on the back of their necks begin to rise. Restik took hold of Jessa’s hand and she stared at him, wide eyed in fear. “I’m so sorry...” she whispered. Gritting his teeth Restik put a hand on the framework and half a second later a bolt of lightning struck directly above Jessa. She screamed and Restik let out some sort of strangled cry as the lightning seemed to pass through the frame and slam into the computer console the group had been using to review potential configurations for their ship.
Lightning struck three times, and then the clouds seemed to dissipate and the sky cleared, revealing the last traces of a sunset. Groaning, Restik released the framework and would have fallen to the ground if not for Jessa and her snagged harness.
“Damn it, Restik!” she hissed. “You’re heavy!” And yet, she stubbornly refused to let go of him. But she was exhausted from working on the framework and managing to survive the lightning strikes and she soon lost consciousness. Restik’s unconscious form began to slip from her grasp, and she was nowhere near alert enough to see him fall... and be caught by something else.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
When Jessa opened her eyes, she was instantly confused. She was staring at a metallic ceiling of some sort, and she was lying flat on her back. With no idea as to where she was, she sat up slowly. Restik was lying there next to her, still asleep. The sight of him brought memories flooding back and she exclaimed, “Oh!”
“Ssh!” another voice exclaimed in a hushed tone. “Wouldn’t want to wake him.”
Jessa looked around, startled, taking in her surroundings. It looked like the interior of a ship, but she couldn’t be entirely sure as she’d never actually been inside one. “Who’s there?” she whispered.
“Oh, what an intriguing question,” the voice replied, seeming to forget its own admonition to be silent. “Come forward, we’ll talk about it.”
Jessa stood. “Forward?”
“Toward the front?” the voice prompted. Jessa looked around, still puzzled, and a series of lights about waist high began to flash, directing her to the left. “That way.”
“Will Restik be alright?” Jessa asked softly, staring down at him.
“I’m monitoring his vital signs,” the voice replied patiently. “He’s stable... just in a self-induced coma of some sort. He’ll wake up soon enough. You and I need to talk.”
Though she was not sure what to expect, Jessa turned and walked in the direction she’d been told was ‘forward’. Following the lights, she eventually came to something that was unmistakably a cockpit. She gasped.
“I am on a ship,” she breathed. “But how...”
“Of course you’re on a ship!” the voice exclaimed derisively. “What did you think was going on? You were building a ship and you wake up indoors? Come on, Ms. Grey, you have to do better than that.”
Her heart nearly stopped as the voice called her by name. “Who are you?” she repeated.
“Yes, well like I said, that’s a very intriguing question,” the voice answered. “I’m... well, I’m you and Restik and a computer, and a design.”
Jessa frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I!” the voice exclaimed. “Has something to do with lightning and the framework and the computer and you and Restik and... oh! And the Force.”
“The Force.” Jessa was beginning to think this must be some sort of practical joke.
“Yes. The Force. Let’s see if we can piece this together...”
“Wait a minute...” Jessa blinked. “Computer and design? The design templates we put together for the ship? That computer? I watched. The lightning struck it... it should have been fried.”
A panel opened to one side of the cockpit. Inside, Jessa saw the very computer she’d just mentioned. “It wasn’t fried... it was... altered
“Alright, so, ‘Who are you?’ is the wrong question. It’s what
“You sound as if you may have an answer,” the voice urged.
“You’re an AI. Artificial intelligence.”
The voice was silent for a moment, as if processing the information. Then, “Oh, yes! That’s what I am.”
“But that’s not possible!” Jessa protested.
“Oh, dear,” the AI sighed, “I think we’ve managed to wake Restik. I really must learn to use these speakers more selectively... sorry Restik... oh, yes, well Jessa and I have disc... yes, she’s fine. She and I have determined that I am an artificial intelligence, created by the convergence of the two of you Humans, the ship’s framework, the design computer, and the Force... She’s in the cockpit... this way...”
In a moment, Restik appeared and Jessa nearly tackled him in an intense hug. “I’m so glad you’re alright. I’m so sorry! I should have listened to you.”
“Yes, you should have,” Restik agreed. “But it’s done now.” He frowned. “This ship is one of the designs we discussed.”
“Yes!” the AI answered excitedly. “I believe you drew up this design in the form of a predatory bird of some sort, landed, hunched down, wings folded across its back. Eagle. That’s what it is. An eagle.”
“But we had scarcely done anything with the framework!” Jessa protested. “It’s only been one night. How could we possibly have a full ship already?”
“Because I’m a very intelligent artificial intelligence,” the AI replied. “The ship’s design possibilities were the first things I became aware of. Taking note of the framework nearby, I then became aware of the fact that these designs were what the framework would eventually become. In light of that, I selected the most logical design to fit over that framework and...”
“Hold on,” Restik interrupted. “You built the ship?”
“With help from you, Mr. Vailar,” the AI agreed. “You, and the Force.”
“The Force.” Restik was just as disbelieving as Jessa had been. The AI was impatient.
“Yes, the Force. You know, that Jedi thing. You’ve got it, Restik. You’ve got a lot of it, and so does Jessa. Because I was connected to you two via the lightning strikes – which you channeled into the computer via the Force – I was able to take advantage of your power for an hour or so... just enough to build a few machines to help with the actual ship building. They should be making the finishing touches on the exterior by now.”
“None of this makes any sense,” Restik growled.
“I know!” the AI answered excitedly. “But that’s part of the excitement of it. It doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t happen. But here you are, and here I am.”
“So you’re an intelligent ship,” Jessa said slowly.
“No, I’m artificial intelligence,” the AI replied. “I built the ship with help from the two of you. Now, I live in the ship. I am not the ship. Oh... Jessa, your brother has arrived. With Jedi. Oh, how fascinating.”
Jessa and Restik left the ship, meeting Jossam and two Jedi at the boarding ramp. Jossam pulled Jessa into a close embrace, relieved to see his sister safe.
“I thought for sure we’d lost you,” he said. “But these two Jedi came last night and said you two were not only safe, but that something unusual had happened.” He looked up at the ship. “I can see what they mean.”
“It is not just the full creation of a ship,” one of the Jedi said, extending her hand to Restik. “I am Jedi Master Atris. This is Master Dorak. Last night, the Council on Dantooine was drawn together by a disturbance in the Force. We had heard of your little ship project out here and it didn’t take much meditation to realize that the disturbance had come from here.”
“Disturbance...” Restik murmured.
“Restik,” Dorak said. “You unknowingly called on your power to channel the lightning bolt away from yourself and from Jessa, or that is what your subconscious intended. Instead, you pulled that energy into yourself. Your deep care for Jessa prompted you to siphon off some of it to her, and when neither of you could take it any longer, you expelled it into the computer as a different form of energy. Force
energy. It restructured the computer into its current format, giving rise to an artificial intelligence that is a mixture of the two of you and the computer in which it exists now.”
“That’s what I said!” the AI exclaimed. “Jessa, Restik, computer, and Force.”
“So what are we supposed to do now?” Jessa wondered, her voice wavering. “Give the ship to the Jedi and begin training?”
“Training?” Atris echoed. “Oh, no, my dear. You and Restik are too old to begin training as a Jedi. Our advice to you is simply to carry on with your plans. You have a ship now. You’re free to leave Dantooine, to go wherever you wish.”
A rush of excitement flooded Jessa. “Wherever we wish,” she breathed. Her mind exploded with possibilities. “Joss, Res... let’s go tell the others.”
“Ah,” Jossam said, fidgeting with his hands. “I, uh... that’s why I’m here, Jess. Turns out, none of us ever thought this would be a successful project. We... we’re not coming with you.”
“Joss...” Jessa’s eyes began to water. “I-I thought you wanted off Dantooine as much as I did.”
“It’s a nice thing to think about,” Jossam replied slowly. “But this is home. I have a job, and there’s Dad and Mom to think of...”
“And the others aren’t either...” Jessa’s expression bordered on depression until Restik slung his arm over her shoulders.
“We don’t need ‘em,” he said sharply. “We have an eagle.”
Startled, Jessa looked up at him. “You mean that?”
“I’ll go with you until we can no more,” Restik promised. “Go get your things. We’re leaving as soon as we can.”
Jossam’s jaw dropped open at his friend’s determination. Jessa smiled widely and ran away to the house to gather her things. For several seconds, Jossam and Restik stood there, staring at one another as the two Jedi looked on.
“So you’ll still go, then?” Jossam asked slowly. Restik nodded.
“I know, of all the people involved, I was the least committed,” he said. “But it’s for Jessa. You see how much this will mean to her. I’m not going to disappoint her.”
Jossam understood and he nodded. “Just, uh... be sure to come back here for the wedding?”
Restik laughed. “Count on it.”
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Three days later, all was set. The AI’s machines had finished the outer hull and everything was in place for departure. The ship had even been moved to the Jedi Enclave’s landing pads for a more official departure. Now, there were only two more things to be done, and both had to do with names. The first was the name of the ship; the second, the name of the AI.
For an hour, the three of them – Jessa, Restik, and the AI – had argued on the merits and/or sheer idiocy of the name suggestions. Finally, they settled on naming the ship the Eagle’s Wing
, and after another exasperating ten minutes of, “Call me this... no, not that... this! Or maybe this...” the AI finally decided on the slightly ironic name of, ‘Eagle’. With all decisions made except for destination, they set out at last on their first journey together. But Eagle had one final shocker for them.
“So I expect the Jedi will want to see the two of you in something around nine months,” he said (for they’d begun to think of Eagle as a ‘he’). Jessa and Restik exchanged puzzled glances.
“Uh, they already said no for training,” Jessa pointed out.
“For the two of you,” Eagle agreed. “But they might be intensely interested in the baby.”
Restik couldn’t believe his ears. “Come again?”
Eagle fell silent. “You didn’t know?”
“Know what?” Restik demanded sharply. He glanced over at Jessa, whose hands had drifted down to her stomach as her face paled.
Jessa gasped. “I... I’m what