Star Wars - Knights of the Old Republic
The Journey to Nar Shaddaa
“Control is an illusion. (hic)” – Zahn Madurke.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
The Jedi Order has concluded a massive gathering on the planet of DANTOOINE, and now, pursuant to performing their part for the war effort, the BROADSWORD, a mobile Jedi academy built within the hull of a massive repurposed warship, speeds through Hyperspace en route to the Hutt controlled moon of Nar Shaddaa.
Jedi Padawan ERALL RAND adjusts to his new role as an upperclassman in the Broadsword Academy, and as he begins preparations to face his Jedi Knighthood Trials, he, DAKEN RAO KUN, and the Miraluka Jedi Padawan, RAI-EL HULIS, aid the Jedi Masters in instructing the younger students of the academy.
Meanwhile, the scout droid designated R15-K, called “RISK” by his owner, Jedi Master Sas’k, continues to express a desire to play a greater part in the ongoing operations of the Broadsword Academy, stating plainly his desire to one-day be considered less a tool or possession than an ally, a friend, and an equal…
As opening crawl fades into the distance, the Broadsword appears and sweeps past and overhead. Two small squadrons of Aurek Strikefighters swarm underneath and around the giant cruiser. Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Daken Rao-Kun’s quarters. Camera focused on Daken sitting up in his bed with dim light flowing from two oval light panels on the wall on either side of his headboard. The lights get brighter gradually, simulating a rising sun.
In the second chapter of Heart of the Force, we rejoin Daken Rao-Kun as he wakes on the morning after the Broadsword left the gathering on Dantooine. He felt the sudden tug of the Hyperdrive as the ship leapt beyond light speed. A panel on the wall directly across from Daken’s bed lit up, and the symbol of the Broadsword Academy filled the dark glass viewscreen above the panel. After a series of melodic tones, the voice of Captain Wan Atlok began to make an announcement to the faculty and staff of the Broadsword Academy.
Fast Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Rai-El Hulis’s quarters. Rai-El floats a dental cleanser with the Force as she tilts her head slightly to hear the announcement
“Attention Broadsword faculty and staff. This is Captain Atlok. We have entered Hyperspace en route to the Y’Toub system. We are currently travelling at point-5 over Lightspeed and we are on schedule for an arrival in orbit around Nal Hutta, the… ahem… ‘glorious jewel’, in 3.3 days. Prior to our departure from orbit over Dantooine, we received orders from Admiral Dodonna requesting a brief detour to the Errant Comet. It is believed that the comet’s normal path has been affected by a recent, massive cosmic phenomenon. Headmaster Atris?”
Fast Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Erall Rand’s quarters. Erall sits in meditation in the center of his otherwise darkened room. His head lifts slightly as he hears the mention of the Headmaster’s name.
“Thank you, Captain. First, I would like to extend a formal welcome to Rai-El Hulis, and a welcome back, of course, to Erall Rand. Ms. Hulis and Mr. Rand will serve as Upperclassmen alongside Daken Rao-Kun. For the duration of our journey to Nal Hutta and their eventual departure onto the Smuggler’s Moon, Padawans Erall, Rai-El, and Daken will serve as assistant instructors to three of the Jedi Masters in the academy, rotating to a different Master each day for the next three days. In this way, I hope to grant the three Padawans as much exposure to our curriculum as possible.”
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Bridge. Captain Wan Atlok, a Sullustan with a cybernetic left eye, glances back and forth between a control module in his hand and Headmaster Atris, who speaks earnestly into the academy address system.
“Instructors and Upperclassmen will find that their datapads have been updated with their assignments. The students will be sent the morning call in fifteen minutes. The Commissary is open. Enjoy your breakfast. May the Force be with you.”
Atris clicked the transmitter off and smiled toward Captain Atlok. “As smooth an entrance into Hyperspace as I have ever witnessed, Captain. You’re reputation is well earned.”
“Pray, Master Atris, that you never have to see what really made me earn this reputation,” Captain Atlok said curtly. “I am a warship commander. I like the Jedi, but babysitting a school full of kids is hardly the role I saw myself fulfilling when I was called out of retirement.”
The Headmaster nodded and spun to leave the bridge. “We are at war, Captain. Revan knows what this school represents. He will make an attempt at disrupting our work here. I don’t have to pray your renowned skills won’t come into use.”
Captain Atlok and everyone else on the bridge held their gazes upon the lovely white-haired Jedi Master as she stepped into a turbolift and spun to face them.
“Your call of duty was well warranted,” Atris said with a faint smile as the turbolift doors slid closed in front of her. As the crew disappeared from her view, her eyes closed and her expression changed to one of slight concern. “… and the Broadsword will be a warship before it is all done.”
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Master Sas’k’s Quarters. Camera pans from a shelf with several ordinary looking asteroid rocks atop, down and left to a series of drawers and, at the bottom, a wire dongle popping out of a folded-up droid, R15-K. The door of the quarters slides open and a pair of insectoid legs walk in the direction of Risk, who is ejecting himself from his charging station and unfolding himself.
Risk spent a few moments remembering a conversation he had with Master Peril Makta, the Nautolan librarian. The little droid bumped into Master Peril as she carried a heavy stack of datapads bearing ungraded student assignments. Risk offered to help her with the load, and along the way into the library, and in the process, he learned more about what it means to be a Jedi from the librarian. He mentioned that he longed to be more peer than product, more ally than appliance, and that one day, he would like to learn how to do battle with a lightsaber.
Peril was patient and supportive of his goals, but explained, in her own hectic, jarring way, that the lightsaber was not a weapon insomuch as it was a symbol, and as a droid could never be a Jedi, a droid should never carry something symbolic of the Jedi. Besides, in order to learn how to fight with a lightsaber, someone would have to generate a program for that purpose. Jedi study for years, sometimes their whole lives, to master the lightsaber. It would almost be an insult to have a droid accomplish the same task in the time it takes to download and install an app.
Master Sas’k entered and nodded to Risk.
“All charged and ready, Risk?”
“Splendid,” Sas’k said, using the Force to slide open a drawer and levitate a datapad from within it. “I’ll need you to get down to the Starboard Launch Bay and prep Blue One through Fourteen for a flight ops class I’m running in a few hours. In fact, I may need you to help me with the instruction. Do you think you could do that?”
Risk was astonished. Sas’k had never included Risk in his instructions before. “Of course, Master. I would be thrilled.”
“Great. Let’s get moving. I have to get to the lounge before Coach Madurke depletes it of every scrap of edible material.”
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Forward Main Corridor. Erall Rand and Rai-El Hulis meet in the corridor and begin making their way through the sudden confluence of younglings crowding toward the Student Commissary. Ahead, Daken Rao-Kun dodged a pair of eager young students and yelled after them to slow down.
Rai-El notices a female Duros student passing her by and recognized her as Seeva Raedo, her assigned Underclassman. She attempts to engage Seeva in a polite conversation, but it seems the young girl has a bit of an ego and a brusque, flippant attitude toward adults in general and instructors in particular. Rai-El paid less attention to her disrespectful attitude than she did the underlying emotional framework that held such false bravado in place. She noticed, beneath all the bluster and arrogance, fear of rejection and sadness for the loss of… something. Rai-El allowed Seeva to get away with her negative attitude, for now, but she fully intended on getting to the heart of the matter before the Broadsword reached Nar Shaddaa in three days’ time.
Meanwhile, Erall and Daken met at the entrance to the instructor’s lounge, where Erall’s underclassman, a Corellian named Ren-Ha Krees, came to greet them both. He expressed hopes that “Master Erall” was getting to feel at home again on the Broadsword. Erall reminded him that his title was Padawan, not Master, and asked him to just call him Erall. He thanked Ren-Ha for the kind thoughts and told him that he would see him in class later that day.
Daken found his underclassman, Owen Sunchaser, leaning against the jamb of the lounge door, waiting for him to come by. Owen was excited to see Daken and asked him if they could talk for a moment. Owen asked him if it was possible for him to accompany Daken when he went down to Nar Shaddaa. He said that he knew the lay of the land better than anyone, and he could be a great help to him. Daken knew in his heart that Owen shouldn’t go, but he didn’t want to be the one to let him know. He told Owen to seek the counsel of Master Vadis or Headmaster Atris and ask them. Owen said that he would opt for Master Vadis, as Master Atris “scares me.”
Erall and Daken laughed. Erall told Owen that fear is a natural thing, but that it is something a Jedi must overcome. Still, sometimes avoiding a frightful thing is an effective method of overcoming fear. They laughed again, and Owen ran off to join the other students for breakfast before classes began for the day.
Fast Wipe to Interior: Instructor’s Lounge. Camera moves across lounge from floating chronometer display, left past an interactive breakfast menu, and to a small oval-shaped table, where Coach Zahn Madurke leans across to flirt with Master Ko’Dora Vadis.
“So, Ko’Dora,” Madurke says, standing leaning over with one foot up on a chair. “I guess since you stepped down from Headmaster, there isn’t a conflict of interests if we go out, huh?”
“Coach…” Master Ko’Dora started.
“Ah-ah-ah,” Madurke interrupted, straightening up and puffing out his bulbous chest. “That’s Master Madurke.”
“I am not calling you Master anything, Coach,” Ko’Dora said, patiently, gazing down at the interactive table display. Madurke hesitated for a minute, then smiled widely.
“Alright, because it’s you,” he said. “Because it’s you, Ko’Dora, I’ll let you call me Coach Madurke. But everyone else…”
“No,” said everyone in the lounge, as if it was a rehearsed reaction.
“Fine, but we’re going out, though.”
“Coach, being headmaster was not the reason why I could not pursue a romantic relationship with you. I am a Jedi. Such emotional attachments are discouraged by our code,” Ko’Dora said, meeting Madurke’s increasingly sullen eyes. “The same goes for everyone on this ship. Nobody here is interested in being anything more than a friend and colleague, Coach. Now please leave my table so I can order my breakfast.”
Madurke shook his head, snapped his fingers and pointed to her with a wink. “You got it, Ko’Dora.”
“It’s Master, Coach.”
Madurke turned to leave the lounge and passed Erall Rand and Daken Rao-Kun along the way. He leaned over and said, loud enough for everyone to hear, that they should look out for Master Ko’Dora because he thinks she’s (CENSORED FOR HUMAN DECENCY).
As he left, Master Vadis closed her eyes and repeated to herself the Jedi Code, specifically the part about there being no emotion.
“I am going to order as many griddlecakes as I can get away with,” she said as Erall, Daken, and Rai-El sat at the table with her.
“Why does the headmaster keep that guy around?” said Master Kabi-Do Raiku from a nearby table. Ko’Dora smiled and smelled deeply as her breakfast was brought to her by a serving droid.
“All Jedi must face ignorant, aggravating individuals and keep our emotions in check. Madurke is as close to an abject lesson in the virtues of patience as I can possibly imagine. If we can learn to tolerate someone like Coach Madurke, we can tolerate a great deal of the opposition we face outside of the Academy.”
“I think the ends ill justify the means, Master,” said Kabi-do. There was a brief moment of laughter and then, everyone began to eat.
When Erall ordered griddlecakes as well, Master Peril Makta inquired as to how he was able to eat in his containment suit. As it turns out, the seals on his suit contain several convenient portals for biological necessities. He can open his mouth and a seam split appears over his lips temporarily, just long enough to allow him to take a bite and close his mouth again. Daken noted that as he did so, it felt like someone just opened the door to a heated oven for a moment. Erall revealed that due to his irradiated body, he is at a constant 200 degrees, and he gives off enough radiation to be a danger to everyone around him if he was exposed for too long. With any luck, however, the Kaminoans would have a solution for him soon to make a normal life possible again. In the mean time, he felt at peace with his condition, saying that through the will of the Force, he lived when he might rightly have died. It is thus through the will of the Force that he must endure this time of healing.
Master Sas’k beamed with pride over Erall’s positive mental attitude, then asked him to meet in the Starboard Launch Bay after mealtime to help in Sas’k’s instructions.
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Starboard Launch Bay. Master Sas’k and Erall Rand stand patiently and watch as a tiny droid wearing an oversized Jedi robe comically hopped up to them. Risk flopped the edge of his hood from his face and Erall suppressed a chuckle.
“Where did you get that robe, Risk,” asked Master Sask’ lifting the hood back off the droid’s head.
“Daken said I could take it. It’s me, don’t you think?”
“It’s three of you, at least,” Erall said. “You should talk to your tailor.”
“Indeed,” Sas’k said. “But first, I would like to ask you why none of our ships are prepped.”
Risk actually looked like he blinked and darted his eyes back and forth, as if he was searching for an answer.
“Sorry, Master,” Risk finally said. “I’ll get on it right away.”
“Need a hand?” Erall asked.
“Roger-roger! Thanks, Erall!”
“One more thing, Risk,” Sas’k said. Risk shrank in anticipation of hearing Sas’k demand he dispose of the robe. “I am going to need you to take on a student for personal tutoring in today’s class. Is that okay with you?”
Risk had no idea how to convey how amazing it felt just to be asked. “Of course, Master! I would be honored to assist in the instruction and take on a tutor of my own.”
“It would only be for this class,” Sas’k clarified. “After that, we’ll see what happens.”
Risk excited spun on his heels and sprang to work. Erall laughed and followed closely behind him.
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Athletics Area. The camera focuses on Vultan Jedi Master Kabi-do Raiku as he performs a few rudimentary stretching exercises. In the background, Coach Madurke can be seen blowing his whistle, throwing his clipboard, and screaming at his droid assistant coach.
“Coach, I’m sure he didn’t mean any disrespect,” Master Raiku yelled across the gymnasium floor.
“Yeah, well, why the hell did he call for a huddle-up, then? That’s my job, Glen!”
Kabi-do shook his head and turned to acknowledge Daken as he came in through the equipment room door. “For the last time, Coach, my name is not Glen.”
“You start calling me Master Madurke, I’ll stop calling you Glen!”
Kabl-do closed his eyes and muttered under his breath “There is no passion, only peace, there is no passion, only peace…”
“I guess I’m assigned to this class today, Master,” Daken said, coming to stand in front of Master Raiku.
“Yes, indeed, Daken. Thank you for coming. We’re going to be handling some basic melee today using pugil sticks. Grab twenty-four of them from the equipment room and test them out for me, then hand one to each student as they enter.”
Daken smiled widely and nodded before running and taking a half-dozen pugilsticks at a time from the equipment room. This was his absolute favorite activity when he attended classes on the Broadsword the previous year, and he was looking forward to seeing how the class was handled from a new perspective.
Each pugil stick was a lightweight, flexible rod about six feet in length. When the rod was twisted at the center, a slide-lock fell into place and an 18 inch length of the rod inflated to a width of six inches at either end of the stick. Overhead, a holographic display revealed whenever the pugil stick came into contact with something, giving the instructor the ability to analyze the swing strength, stance, and technique of the students wielding the stick, as well as enabling them to keep score whenever appropriate.
As Daken finished preparing the sticks, Master Kabi-do asked him to greet the students and have them line up along the glowing blue line and begin standard calisthenic exercises. Daken stood at the double doors and watched as the students began to fill the gymnasium. He noticed that one particular student, a female Duros, was ceaselessly sending textwaves with her datapad. When Daken told her to take a position on the blue line and begin calisthenics, she yawned, rolled her eyes, made a clicking sound, and slowly meandered to the line. She stood there and continued to send textwaves over the holonet until Daken took the device from her.
“Fifty crunches, youngling. You can have this back after the class.”
“(sigh)… fine, but I’m not a youngling.”
“Don’t act like one, and you won’t be treated like one.”
Daken looked away for what seemed like half a second, only to hear the familiar sound of textwaves being transmitted. Apparently, she had a spare datapad stashed on her. Master Kabi-do noticed what was happening and, through the Force, pulled the device from her hand and sailed it across the gymnasium, then levitated a sport ball from a nearby bin and caused it to hurtle through the air and smash the datapad into tiny shreds of metal.
“Seeva, must we go through this every morning? No waves in my class.”
Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Library. Rai-El Hulis can be seen shaking her head at what was happening with her assigned Underclassman elsewhere in the ship. As she makes her way into the library, she is met at the door by an eager Master Peril Makta.
“Ah, Padawan Hulis. Thanks for coming. In about an hour I will need your assistance with my music class, but for now, I would appreciate your help catching up with some grading,” Master Makta was a lovely Nautolan female with a tendency to speak quickly and energetically. Many believe that she has no inner monologue.
Rai-El nodded her assent and proceeded into Master Makta’s office, where a large pile of datapads sat awaiting grades. “I started on these last night, but another project came into my mind, and I’ll admit to getting so worked up about it that I couldn’t think of much else. In fact, I didn’t ever get to sleep. That places me in a state inappropriate for grading scholastic work. Cranky. I would be too harsh, less analytical than I’m accustomed to being. Looking forward to music class. That always (deep breath) calms me down. Thanks for helping with all this. I’ll call you when music class is ready to begin.”
Rai-El settled down to begin grading. Time passed quickly, and as she was just finishing the last of the assignments, she heard a pair of small feet striding with confidence into the office. Approaching her was a young Iktotchi student, Kruodi, who brought her a Dantooinian Rosefruit and placed it on the desk in front of her. He complimented her beauty, then asked her if she could help with the music class. Rai-El smiled warmly at the child and held his hand as he escorted her into the music room attached to the library.
Within, Master Makta had set up an array of harmonizing crystals around the room and had the children sitting in a semi-circle on the floor. In front of each youngling was a metal sphere and a block of dark wood. As every youngling was instructed to do so, they hummed an eight-note scale and tried to imagine the sphere lifting off of the wood block a little more with every higher note, then lowering closer to the block with every lower note.
“Ah, students, this is Padawan Rai-El Makta.”
“Hello, Padawan Makta,” the children exclaimed, a few of the metal spheres plopping down noisily on the wood blocks and drawing playful giggles from the students.
“Rai-El is a Miraluka. Does anyone know about the Miraluka?”
“Yes Master,” a bright little female Twi’lek said, raising her hand. “Miraluka are from a world with no visible light. They are born capable of seeing through the Force.”
“Very good, Nerah. That is absolutely correct. Miraluka developed a natural ability to experience the world around them almost exclusively through the Force. Now, everyone close your eyes real tight. That’s right. Okay. No peeking, now. Good. I want you to hum now. Just like me. And as you hum, I want you to stretch out with your feelings, feel your voices flowing into and through each other’s.”
The class hummed a five-note rising scale, and one by one, the students began to smile. They felt the energy of their voice reverberating from the crystals in the room, and through the Force, for the fleetest of moments, they saw as a Miraluka.
“Is that how you really see the world, Padawan Rai-El,” asked Kruodi, whose little eyes glinted with tears.
“That is what the world truly is, youngling,” Rai-El replied. “Through the Force, you will not be content just to see the galaxy. You will want to experience it; to feel the Force flowing through all living things and into you. Yes. That is how I see.”
Wipe to Exterior: Space – The Errant Comet. A series of glinting shapes sway and frolic in the blackness of space before turning back toward the Broadsword. The camera zooms into the cockpit of Blue Four, the Aurek Tactical Strikefighter piloted by Erall Diggs.
“Kid, you’re doing great. Gear down and set. Call the ball,” said Lieutenant Carth Onasi over the Broadsword’s comlink to Blue Seven. Erall watched with pride as his Underclassman, Ren-ha Krees, successfully piloted his ship into the starboard docking bay and executed a fairly competent touchdown.
“Excellent work, Blue Seven,” Erall called out. From behind him, 5K-1P bellowed out a congratulations of his own. “Skip says that’s a better landing that he’s seen from me, Ren. Good work, today!”
“Thanks, mas… I mean, Erall,” Ren replied shyly.
“Blue Four, this is the tower,” the comlink in Erall’s cockpit squeaked and Erall twisted a small control knob to adjust the system. “We’re having a bit of an issue in the starboard docking bay and can’t accommodate your Aurek. Please divert to the port docking bay on bearing 2-1-2.”
“Acknowledged, tower. Blue Four out.”
Skip moaned and sputtered a query.
“I don’t know, I guess they’re full up.”
Skip expressed a concerned whistle and a few beeps.
“No, I don’t think there was a fire. At least I hope there wa…”
As Erall touched his Aurek down on his designated landing zone, he saw a table and chairs set up in the middle of the docking bay, with several of his friends and most of the Masters gathered nearby. Hanging from one of the girders overhead was a hastily made sign that read: Welcome Back, Erall!
Skip let out a chitter-tweet. On the screen in front of him, Erall read the translation “SURPRISE!”
Fast Wipe to Interior: Broadsword – Port Docking Bay. Erall sits at one end of a makeshift table made from a sheet of wall panel atop spools of conduit. As Risk ran into the bay, Master Vadis stood and took up her glass to give a toast.
“We have, all of us, born witness to so much pain in the recent past. With the ravages of war now piercing our brief and fragile time of peace, we have not likely seen the last of the dark days of our lives. However, Erall is an example of how, through the Force, we can survive, thrive, and surpass the darkness that looms around us. So, I propose a toast. To life, laughter, and the pursuit of peace. To surviving the dark to feel the warmth of light days anew. To our three Padawans. May the Force see you safely and successfully through your Knighthood Trials.”
With that, those at the table enjoyed their evening. Erall was touched by the display, and thanked the masters, and his friends, for their support and faith in him. At one point during the night, Master Peril Makta was discussing with Erall his ability to create fire with the Force. He demonstrated this ability by simultaneously lighting all of the candles on the tabletop. Erall admitted that he once feared his powers, but he has since learned to overcome his fear and learned to control his power.
“Control is an illusion. (hic),” interjected Coach Zahn Madurke. Everyone at the table turned, their mouths agape, to look at him. They never expected so profound a thought as that to come from the coach. He then fell head-first into the table and rolled onto the floor unconscious. Laughter began to fill the dock.
The camera pans up and out into the depths of space, zooming toward a distant speck of light, the “Glorious Jewel”, Nal Hutta, which was their destination.