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Old Heroes, New Lessons

Posted on Sat Aug 11th, 2018 @ 7:19pm by Bomoor Thort & Amare & G2-O7

Chapter: Chapter V: Unbound
Location: Training Room, Red Raptor
Timeline: A few hours after "The Lightsaber", late evening
Tags: Training Room, Red Raptor, Coda, Bomoor, G2, G2-O7, Remote, Lightsaber, Training, Telekinesis

OLD

"Until you leave, you can use my lightsaber as a reference point, and if you ask, I am sure Bomoor would be amenable, too." Unhooking his weapon to place it inside the box alongside the remnants of its predecessor, Thane briefly placed a vaguely reassuring hand on Coda's shoulder. "Achieve this, and you will have earned even more of my respect and confidence."

[Coda] nodded to him, stepped back after he released her shoulder, bowed her head to him with due deference, and quietly left the room to prepare for her personal journey.

ON

Thane's lightsaber levitated softly in the air with an occasional random twitch, awaiting the apprentice's deadly intent. It was silently bobbing up and down as if it were buoyant and floating on the surface of an invisible river current.

Every instinctive approach Zaracoda had regarding the Force thus far was attuned to her natural element as a Nautolan: water. Every push was accompanied with the mental image of a tall crashing wave, or the explosive rise of a thermal vent on an ocean floor; every pull was imagining herself as a child pulling fresh red kelp for the family meal with her hands, or yanking out a loose bit of gleaming silver ore from a cracked sandstone outcropping; and her levitation was a joyful nostalgic pleasure of imagining the space around her as being completely submerged. She wished every world was like Glee Anselm.

The power of Force lightning, however, was different and tempted to take her mind to a place that did nothing more than make her feel weak and helpless. When she threw her rebellious tantrum at Thane hours earlier, she could feel a strong tingling surge in her hands, not like the burning sensation she felt when drawing essence from living creatures. However, once the memories of the shock whip lashing across her back came over her, the surge faded away and her defiance melted into servility. That whip was her absolute and most intense weakness in her mind, second only to shooting her father with a pirate's blaster in hopes of saving her mother. If she ever saw such a whip again, she no doubt would cower in fear just at the sight of it, and she would almost certainly surrender under the pain of its strikes. It scared her even more than the gold and onyx lightsaber that hung in front of her.

In the days since becoming Thane's apprentice, she wondered how she could overcome her crippling fears and not be a coward when the time came when she would have to defend herself in battle. The answer, of course, was simple and right in front of her face, but beyond her focus on the borrowed lightsaber was the appearance of the resident droid of the Red Raptor, G2-O7, who had just quietly rolled into the training room.

G2 bleeped and blooped a string of binary to Coda, and she replied, "Yes, I'm okay, G2." She was surprised to see the droid simply showing up to check up on her; it never did so before. "What's wrong?"

G2 quietly whirred over to the opposite site of the training mat from where Coda was seated in a meditative lotus position. It bleeped to her again, and it caused Coda to sigh in response.

"I know it's late, but I need every moment to train," she explained to the concerned little droid. "Master...no, Lord Thane will be leaving me...erm, rather, I will be going on a mission on my own soon. I need to know how to fight with a lightsaber as soon as I can figure out how to fix his old one." She gestured to the open box off to her side where the saber parts were stored. "But none of the books I have covered much on how to do that. I'm...I'm pretty scared, G2. I hope he'll let me borrow a blaster at least."

G2 wasn't entirely sure how to respond, especially since it wasn't programmed to offer sympathy or counseling. It still was grateful in its own logical way to the nice Nautolan lady for going out of her way to upgrade its firmware the day before the arrival on Vaa. It recalled her generous act in spite of the regular memory wipes at the hands of Thane given that Coda carefully imprinted her digital I.D. signature in G2's hardware after flashing its BIOS chips with the new firmware version. It wasn't a major upgrade, but it was enough to improve G2's data processing by nearly five percent.

"There is this one manual I have here on something called Shii-Cho," Coda added as she rose up and took hold of her master's saber. "Cute little pictures of a Nautolan man. I think it's Kit Fisto. I'm going to try these positions in the first chapter. It's too bad most of the pages are messed up or missing. Move back a bit, G2. Here goes..."

She looked down at the page on the open book beside her on the floor, then held the saber in front of her in the basic battle ready stance like in the picture of the ancient Jedi Master, and tapped the trigger on the hilt to bring the purple plasma blade to life. She smiled wide with delight, thinking back to that first night when Thane brandished the saber in front of her over in the starboard cargo room. The memory gave her tingles in her spine, never imagining she would get to hold the mighty weapon herself.

"Okay, I can do this," she assured herself. "It's about the flow of the Force. Just gotta imagine the danger, and move the blade to block..."

She tenuously waved it side to side, short nervous strokes and chops and deflections of imagined blaster bolts coming at her, referencing back at the manual every few moments, and trying to mimic the images, but they were only stills, and some of the pictures were incomplete due to page tears and fading from the ravages of time. Her movements had no grace, or purpose, or style. After a few frustrating minutes, she knew she was doing it all wrong. None of it felt natural. She switched the saber off having no confidence to go on without looking over the manual some more.

G2 turned to leave the room after observing the awkward display, but was blocked by someone at the doorway.

"What am I missing?" Coda asked herself, completely focused on the book and her fear of not getting the techniques right in time. "If only we could stop at another comm relay so I can find this stuff on the holonet." She sighed, "What am I going to do now?"

“In the duel of existence, talent is in the swing but tact is in the footwork,” Bomoor’s echoic voice revealed himself in the doorway, “My Master once said that to me as he watched me straining to replicate those same opening stances.”

Bomoor tapped on G2’s dome, ushering him aside so he could enter. Walking over to the tattered old book Coda had collected, he examined the image of the Nautolan depicted in the Shii-Cho stance, “There are some updated datafiles on these stances within the Reborn Jedi Order, which are much like this. A little clearer perhaps, but it is still hard to turn an image into reality. You are not this Jedi; your body is your own so you should not try to channel the Form in the same manner he does.”

Having Bomoor's welcome presence in the room helped alleviate Coda's anxiety and despair. She smiled and bowed her head to him, and found that she could breathe easier and felt more at ease when he spoke his sage words.

There was, however, a feeling of some emotional cloud over him since they left Vaa behind. Coda had suspected that Bomoor had something to do with weakening the dark forces under Darth Cabal's command, but the Ithorian had kept quiet about his side of the story, at least to her. She hoped he would someday relate his tale to her so that she could help ease his pain as a friend should.

"My brother and I used to look up to him," Coda remarked in reference to the legendary Jedi in the book. "The 'Great Kit Fisto' the holovids used to call him. Hero of Coruscant and Mon Calamari. Sacrificed himself while fighting the evil forces of the Sith. I-I'm sorry, master. My mind is wandering. I...I need to try again. I don't have much time. I'll be tested soon. I have to be ready."

She stepped forward and readied to ignite Thane's lightsaber again to resume her practice, but she hesitated trying to remember what was in the book while at the same time feeling conflicted with Bomoor's wisdom. She scoffed at herself, disgusted with her lack of confidence. "What is wrong with me?" she asked herself in frustration. "I can't focus..." The more she held the weapon, the more she noticed she had to consciously reinforce her hold on it in her hands. Each time she tried to tighten her grip on it, the more she felt an ever-so-subtle resistance from her grasp. It was a nagging reminder that it did not, nor could it ever truly belong to her or anyone else.

Bomoor sensed the confusion in the woman: the emotional tie to her family that this famous Nautolan reprisented and the intense desire to do well at her appointed task, presumably to please Thane and himself. He understood why it was so bothersome for the Jedi taking on older Force-sensitives with a history outside of the order but it was becoming more and more apparent that emotions in no way weakened one's technique, so long as they were recognised and channeled appropriately.

"Let us try something different," Bomoor spoke, "Close your eyes and allow the training room to melt away in your mind. Picture youself somewhere else entirely: imagine you were back on Nar Shaddaa facing those bounty hunters firing blasts against you. Remember the pattern of their fire and how you anticipated it in the Force. Now, you are back in that moment but with your new weapon. How would your body naturally fall in anticipation of those deadly laser blasts?"

Coda followed the sage's counsel and closed her eyes, trying to think back to that awful night on the run, and reached out to the darkness of her shuttered vision with all her feelings of frustration and self-loathing. However, her mind would not cooperate by providing the memory she sought, but instead it showed her something new. She saw in her mind different bounty hunters in an alley in another block near to the club, and was dressed in a water-drenched brown Jedi robe and cloak. She overheard the men talking about a bounty being cancelled on "that Nautolan girl". The saber in front of her ignited a gleaming cyan blade.

In reality, her feet shifted, she let her instincts take over just as she had on that very night, the active blade in front of her was violet, and she aligned herself into the stance without a second thought.

"There it is," Bomoor hushed his voice, watching in admiration as Coda fell into an instinctive Form I pose, not unlike that of her heroic Fisto, "Your feet are spread apart to form a wide base of support so you can swing to multiple angles. That was not clear in the picture but here you are, executing it just as it should be. You will find that Shii-Cho in particular relies the most-heavily on the natural intuition of Force-users. This is why it is our primary Form - the one to fall into when all our other senses are lost."

"(My daughter)..." Coda whispered to herself in her native Nautila tongue, echoing the memory in her mind that wasn't hers. "(Where is she...?)" Every word she heard from Bomoor was indeed from him, but it also sounded like a lesson from someone else...a tall, powerfully built Cathar patriarch. She felt like the man was supposed to be an old friend, yet she never met him before. Coda stepped forward, started with a defensive block, another deflection, and then lunged forward with a classic Form I slash. She leaned back and dodged the touch of an unseen weapon, and responded with a strong front kick. Her eyes still closed, she followed the memory almost completely unconscious of her movements. "Give unto the Force..." she whispered again, this time in Basic, "...and be cleansed..." She spun around, slashed at the throat of a mercenary that wasn't actually there, stepped forward, blocked another imaginary bolt, and swung her saber in Bomoor's direction.

A large, textured hand grabbed Coda's wrist, pulling her back into the present, back into the Raptor's training room. The blade, still ignited, was held in the air a few inches from Bomoor's face, illuminating it a sky blue and emphasising the minute bumps and crevices in the Ithorian's skin.

"You see how Form I comes naturally," Bomoor continued melodically, as though he had not just been slashed at, "But against another Force user, the swings are predictable and easy to dodge. That is why the best users will switch in and out of this form to beguile their opponents."

His Nautolan student seemed as if she were coming out of a daze. Coda blinked her eyes in mild confusion, half-remembering what she just did, but almost entirely uncertain how she did it. She deactivated the saber and stared at Bomoor with pleading eyes for guidance.

Releasing her arm and stepping back, Bomoor rubbed his neck while contemplating, "There are Forms that specifically work with the user to channel their emotions, which can make for some very unpredictable manoeuvres if done properly. Still, if you feel the Force through your movements as you just did, your skill with a lightsaber will already be more than a match for anyone you meet on your travels from Lorrd."

This trial Thane had constructed for Coda was indeed challenging and Bomoor had almost disagreed at sending her away at this early stage but he had seen the benefits of removing her attachment to her Master and himself, which had become particularly strong in recent days. He knew that Coda had been particularly upset at the suggestion, but that only made it all the more important that she learn to hear the call of the Force when they were absent.

"I wonder," Bomoor began, "Would you perhaps like to practice your unarmed Force abilities? Much of your journey will have to be completed without a working lightsaber and, even when you have it, there will be times when brandishing it will not be the best option to end a conflict, should it occur."

She nodded with a furtive expression on her face trying to show a measure of eagerness, but masking her fresh feelings of confusion.

'My...daughter'? Why did I say that? I don't have any children. Who were those men? Why did I attack them? I don't remember doing any of that. What is happening to me? she silently questioned herself, but chose to keep it to herself for now since Bomoor appeared pleased with whatever she did.

"Yes, please," she answered politely, trying to manage a smile for him. "I want to learn everything."

“Good,” Bomoor responded, although noticing that she had been somewhat distracted as she spoke, “But is there something bothering you? When we open ourselves to the Force, visions are not uncommon. I suspect you will see more and more sights as you become stronger in your abilities.”

Her positive facade melted to reveal her bewilderment. "I...I dunno. I was seeing something from Nar Shaddaa, I think. I haven't been sleeping well since we left Vaa." She added with a sigh and slumping shoulders, "Maybe you're right. I'm just not focusing properly."

“I cannot deny that the challenges ahead will be hard, particularly given how Thane and I are only just beginning to open ourselves up to a whole other side of the Force,” Bomoor showed a look of concern as he regarded the uncertainty in Coda, “Be forever mindful, but do not let it come at the expense of the present.”

Bomoor sighed and sat down on the training mat beside Coda. He closed his eyes but continued to talk, “Think about the task you have been set. Which Force techniques do you think will best serve you on the road ahead?”

Coda sat with her legs pulled up near her chest, arms wrapped around them as she leaned a bit forward and thought about how to answer. "Hm..." she murmured just as the open box nearby with Thane's old lightsaber caught her attention. "Thane wants me to put the lightsaber back together, but I only know about computers. I'm not very good at putting broken things back together."

Bomoor was surprised that Coda was not more confident with construction: she had shown remarkable intuition with technology since joining them, showing great affinity with the ship’s droid. Still, building a lightsaber was a task apart from regular construction: seeing the parts in your mind and assembling and aligning them more precisely than even most machines could manage.

Opening his eyes slightly to examine the room, Bomoor located the boxes in the corner of the training room and reached an arm out, willing a minuscule and heavily battered remote towards them. When it reached them, it hung in the air, much like it would on its own had it not been broken.

“This remote could be useful in your Form training,” Bomoor commented, “But it has never worked quite right and, on its last outing, it suffered too much damage and now fails to boot up at all.”

Closing his eyes again, Bomoor pictured the tiny screws and clasps within the little droid and gently eased them apart. Some of the metal was warped and resisted his pull so the former Jedi slowly, but forcefully pulled the parts back into shape so that they could come apart. Piece by piece, small parts of the remote began to float outwards, until there was no remote, but many individual parts suspended for view, like an exploded diagram.

Coda stared in awe at the disassembly of tech hovering in perfect control and harmony before her. Seeing such a display was like witnessing a magical work of art in progress. She had a hard enough time moving fully-assembled objects or individual people with her mind, but to reach and orchestrate a concert of so many different parts of different shapes and sizes all at once? It seemed unfathomable.

When his work was done, Bomoor continued talking, “I believe Thane has showed you this ability with a lightsaber before. It is an extension of the Force pushing and pulling abilities you may already have used, but far more precise. Telekinesis, in all its forms, involves no physical connection with the objects you manipulate, allowing for far more subtle manipulations to be made.”

Thinking back to the trial of the Five Rocks Thane and Bomoor had shown Berry on Irrikut, he wondered whether Coda would believe in stretching her own being outwards to control objects, or whether she would command the molecules to reach out to her. Either way, Bomoor knew she was capable of the technique, but it was an intriguing commentary on how one viewed the web of the Force and seemed to have some effect on the kinds of abilities that came more naturally than others.

“Look first with your eyes: examine the mechanisms, use your knowledge of machines to identify the parts,” Bomoor gave Coda a moment before beginning to slowly converge the parts again; slotting and screwing the pieces back as they once were, minus a few dents. He let the device settle down on the ground before adding, “Now, I want you to do as I did: feel for the parts you just saw within the remote and begin separating them in the air. Perhaps you can identify the broken components and replace them so that the machine will work again. It might be of some use to you if you succeed.”

Coda nodded anxiously, adjusted herself into a seated lotus position, and closed her eyes. She reached up and gently touched her right temple to stimulate her Force Sight which helped colour the environment for her in such a way that helped her screen out the ambient lighting in the room, and to help her focus squarely on the remote. She had a reasonably good memory on the way it looked disassembled, and lowered her hand to allow her vision to go dark again. She took a deep slow breath and steeled herself to make her imagination go to work.

"I can do this," she quietly told herself. She took another deep breath, and the remote began to vibrate, as if resisting her manipulation. A few seconds later, she had control, raised it into the air in her mind, and searched for the first screw. The one she selected, however, was one of the warped screws, and she found it difficult to budge. She gave up and looked for another which slipped off much too easily and fell to the floor faster than she could mentally "catch" it. She swallowed her embarrassment, and continued with more screws that came out with more control. Slowly, she moved from part to part, one at a time, feeling silly for how long it was taking her, but also feeling a measure of...confusion? It seemed like each additional part she took hold of telekinetically, the more difficult it was to maintain her concentration.

What is the matter with you, Zara? she could hear her brother, Capo, saying to her from a memory that occurred the day before the pirates came. Father explained it to you twice. Coil-A goes to transformer-D. B-coil to transformer-C. You've criss-crossed them all wrong! If we turned on the sub-system power with the plasma conversion junction connected like that, it would blow up half the ship. Look, just give me that tool. Go away. I'll take care of it. Don't just stand there and cry. Get out!

More parts fell to the floor.

How many times have I told you not to swim out to the Blood Kelp Zone. If Capo wasn't there, you would've surely died, she recalled her father saying. She was even younger in that memory, and it was the day after she was shot in the chest with a sharp quill from a thorny tiger plant she swam too close to. It was a painful lesson on the risks of being overly inquisitive. The old country doctor said if the quill hit just a millimetre to the left or right, a primary artery connected to one of her hearts would have been punctured, and she would have perished from internal bleeding.

More failures bubbled up to the surface of her mind from throughout her life. Over and over again, Capo was the good and smart child, and Coda was the mischievous troublemaker whose only redemptive quality was that she was a maths prodigy, but even that translated to almost nothing in her life. Each failure she recalled compounded to the point where her will caved under the pressure, and the entire remote shattered to pieces on the floor. It was too much to bear. The grief, embarrassment, and self-loathing overwhelmed her, and she got up and ran from the room to go lock herself up in her quarters leaving behind Bomoor and Thane's saber. She was utterly convinced that she was never going to piece together the old lightsaber, and that she was going to die on Lorrd.

Feeling her frustrations rising, Bomoor had been about to halt her before she abruptly gave up and ran from the room. Looking at the once-organised pieces of remote now strewn across the floor, he felt some anger bubble up at how little she seemed to have listened: she could not set aside whatever visions she was seeing and focus on the task at hand.

Bomoor waved his fingers through the air, grasping for the tiny pieces of metal that were littered on the ground, pulling them back to the centre in a motion that seemed to reverse the flow of time; back to the moment before Coda had failed. But time would not rewind for the Nautolan when she was left alone on Lorrd and an inability to focus could be her own undoing.

Up until now, Bomoor had been considering delving into Darth Cabal’s recovered texts with Coda, but this incident was troubling as it highlighted how unstable she still was at handling the Force. Perhaps she would die on this mission, unfortunate though it would be, but it seemed now that this trial was now set into her destiny. Should she see it through, then perhaps he would offer her his teaching once again.

Standing up, he collected the now re-assembled, but still broken, remote and placed it back on top of one of the boxes. He looked at it alongside the other assorted training tools they had collected, wondering if it was truly his destiny to teach. With another long sigh, he turned around and saw that G2 was once again in the doorway, perhaps having seen Coda running off.

“She is a troubled one,” Bomoor spoke to the droid, unloading his thoughts on the machine, “But, then again, it seems we all are these days. Perhaps you could monitor her for me, make sure she does not damage herself or anything else while she is upset. But do not talk to her; she needs to centre herself and focus.”

It was late and, as he felt himself calming down, Bomoor realised that he himself was very tired so decided to head back to his room and rest, “Good night G2,” he acknowledged as he exited the room.

The spherical droid stayed in there for a moment, seemingly processing some thought or command. It spied the training remote seemingly peering out from the box with one of its dead, inanimate lenses, causing G2 to emit a low, uncomfortable tone to itself. The sound of the Ithorian’s heavy feet faded and the lights in the room dimmed into darkness leaving the troubled droid along with its digital thoughts.

 

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