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Gungan to the left


Good Fertilizer (G)


By : Jane Jinn

Archived on: Monday, November 10, 2003

Summary:
What happens to those who are raised in the Jedi Temple, but aren't picked to become padawans?

"Now when I die," said Otom Pan, "bury me under the muja trees. I'm good fertilizer, you know."

"I don't want to think of you dying," X!tal said.

"Don't want to do all the work by yourself, you mean," the old Dresselian teased, making the moment easier.

It helped, and X!tal was able to tease back. "Of course not. I've already sent a message to Coruscant. A new Agricultural Corps worker should be here soon."

"Can't you even wait until I'm in my grave before you try to replace me?" Otom exclaimed, straightening a little in mock indignation.

"I always was impatient," X!tal reminded him.

"Yes, you were." Otom shut his eyes briefly, the eyelids all but disappearing in the mass of wrinkles that covered his face. "I remember when you first came here to Vucub-Hunahpu. Impatient, angry at the universe ..."

"I wanted to be a Jedi knight," X!tal remembered. "I felt cheated. I felt like the Temple was throwing me away, like they were banishing me for something that wasn't my fault."

"You used to sulk a lot," Otom recalled.

"I didn't think farming was honourable work. And I was scared of you."

"Scared? Of little old me?"

"You weren't so little or old back then. Actually, you put the fear of the Force into me. I really believed that you were as gruff as you made out."

Otom laughed silently.

"We've had some good times together," X!tal said quietly.

"Hmm," the Dresselian assented.

"You taught me a lot."

"Once you were willing to listen."

"Once I was willing to listen," X!tal repeated, nodding and nodding slightly in agreement.

"The arms and legs of the Jedi body are important," Otom began.

"But it's the stomach that gives them the strength," X!tal finished. "An army travels on its stomach and the Jedi Temple is no exception. Food and drink keep body and life-Force together."

They smiled at each other, the old Dresselian and the now middle-aged Chagrian, and then Otom said, "Well? What are you waiting for? Why aren't you out there digging my grave?"

"Because I've learned not to be impatient anymore?" X!tal spoke as though hazarding a guess.

Otom scowled, then sighed. "And I've learned not to be too proud to admit that I need some rest."

Placing his hand on Otom's shoulder for a quick, reassuring squeeze, X!tal stood up and left the room.


When he had finished filling in the grave near the orchard of muja trees, X!tal leaned on his shovel and looked out over the fields of sprouting grain. Vucub-Hunahpu was a hospitable planet, and grains grew well in this particular sector. He remembered he hadn't thought much of it when he had first arrived, thirty years ago. The pain of not having achieved his dream of becoming a Jedi knight had been sharp, negatively colouring his perception of his new assignment and the crotchety old being that he had been assigned to help.

It was only gradually that X!tal had learned to let go of that pain. At first, he had simply made the best of a bad situation, or so he'd considered it. Later, he had realized he really loved the work, and the planet, too. Otom hadn't turned out to be too bad, either. Eventually, they had worked together like any Jedi master and padawan; one teaching, the other learning, seeing themselves as a little family. At first, X!tal had thought he couldn't wait to get rid of the old Dresselian, but then he had discovered that Otom was not old at all, simply wrinkled in the way of his species. Now, the pain of having truly lost him was devastating.

"Just think of me as compost," Otom had often told him in the last year, when he had finally admitted that his physical body was wearing out. "My season as a growing plant is ending, soon I'll be part of the dirt to help other things grow. I won't be lost; I'll just be different."

X!tal remembered that Otom had already helped him to grow in many different ways, and although he logically realized that the old Dresselian had simply been "reassigned" to a different point in the cycle of life, he still mourned the loss. A single tear escaped his eye and ran down his cheek to land on one of his lethorn - the long, pointed lobes that emerged from either side of his head and curved downwards to his chest.

There wasn't much time to stand and cry, though. The ship would be landing soon; he needed to get over to the spaceport and see about the new arrival.


The ship had already landed by the time X!tal arrived, and he could see the young female human standing just outside the disembarking area, glancing around in dismay. She looked every bit the young Jedi in her brown robe, and X!tal strode over with a smile on his face. "Welcome to Vucub-Hunahpu. My name is X!tal."

The dismay vanished from the girl's face; it became smooth and featureless. She bowed slightly, then said, "My name is Tamini Chrior."

"Do you mind if I call you Tam?" X!tal asked, picking up the girl's pack and slinging it over his shoulder as he turned back towards the door of the port.

"Yes," the girl snapped from behind him.

Was I that prickly, too? X!tal wondered as they went outside to where the transporter was parked. When he opened the door for the girl to get in, she hesitated, and the dismayed expression came back to her face for a moment before she managed to smother it. X!tal took a second look at the transporter, reminded of the first time he'd seen it. He'd probably looked equally dismayed back then; he remembered what he'd secretly been wondering.

"Don't worry, it can still fly," he reassured her.

"Yes -" Tamini said, stopping as though she'd wanted to say something else.

"You can call me X!tal," he said.

"X-tal," she repeated, struggling with the unfamiliar tongue click.

"This whole planet is pretty much populated by the Agri-Corps," X!tal explained as he slipped into the pilot's seat and started the engines. "We all get together every so often, but you'll be staying with me."

"Yes, X-tal," Tamini replied.

"You don't have to be so formal, we're not in the Temple here." X!Tal guided the transporter off the ground and curved into the right direction.

"I know," Tamini said with a hint of a sob in her voice. Levelling out, X!tal risked a glance, and saw that she was biting her lip, probably trying not to cry.

"It's not the end of the galaxy," he said. "I know it seems that way now, but it really isn't."

Tamini looked away and didn't answer. They flew the rest of the way in silence while X!tal tried to think of something to say that wouldn't sound patronizing or trite. After they'd landed, he exited the transporter and looked back to see how she was taking her first glimpse of the house and the rolling fields around it. She swallowed once, but otherwise managed to keep her face neutral.

They went inside.

"This will be your room." X!tal set down the pack in the room that had been his until Otom had died. He'd moved over to the old Dresselian's room - it just hadn't seemed right to let anybody else stay there, and now he was even more glad that he had done so. It certainly didn't seem right to let this unhappy girl ruin the peaceful feeling that he always sensed there.

"Thank you," Tamini murmured.

X!tal sighed. "You feel cheated, I know. You feel like the Temple has just thrown you away, abandoned you to some kind of slave labour here on a planet that nobody's ever heard of. You're hurt and you're angry that you weren't chosen as a padawan and that you've been sent to Agri-Corps like some kind of failure."

To his surprise, Tamini nodded shortly. Keeping her teeth clenched together, she managed to choke out, "I'd like to meditate now, if I may."

"Go ahead," X!tal said, moving to exit the room. Then he paused as he recalled an old saying of Otom's that he'd often heard in his first year on the planet. "But if the galaxy consisted only of grain, there'd be no fruit. Consider that, while you meditate."

He shut the door behind him and almost instantly, a howl of misery was audible through it. X!tal's heart was wrenched with sympathy, and he moved away slowly. Patience, that's what he'd need. Grain didn't grow to harvest ripeness in a single day. It would take time for Tamini to forget the perceived pain, and even more to appreciate what she had here. X!tal thought back to his first days on the farm. There'd been plenty of work to keep him busy - so much that he'd thought he really had been sold into slavery. But one day, Otom had taken him into the fields and had helped him reach out to the Force, directing it to the growing plants. That had been the first time he'd caught a glimpse of his new calling. He'd have to try that with Tamini as soon as possible.

I'm good fertilizer, you know; Otom had said, and X!tal realized that it was true, both in the physical and the spiritual sense. Just as his body was now being absorbed into the earth, so had his teachings long since been absorbed into X!tal's life, and would be passed on to Tamini. Either way, he wouldn't be lost.

The End




Original cover design by Julie. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.


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Current Rating is 9.37 in 63 total ratings.

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Author: Andrea Jade  (signed)
Date posted: 11/11/2003 6:54:56 AM
Andrea Jade's Comments:

Fabulous ideas, as one always wondered why go to the time and expense to train these young people and then just ship them out to the middle of no-where doing usless labor. Great work using the force to help the young ones understand the growth of plants and the youngsters also. Andrea

Author: DarthIshtar
Date posted: 11/11/2003 7:17:14 AM
DarthIshtar's Comments:

Great insight into a rarely-touched subject. I liked X!tal, the obvious compassion and the strain of facing someone who is like he used to be.

Author: iona_buss
Date posted: 11/11/2003 12:37:57 PM
iona_buss's Comments:

hey great story. i really enjoyed it. noting bad to say about it. it was all good.

Author: JediMistress
Date posted: 11/12/2003 5:04:04 AM
JediMistress's Comments:

Excellent and compelling story...the Force is felt in different ways....very nice, indeed...I enjoyed every word of it...thanks so much

Author: Choco_latte Tahl
Date posted: 11/12/2003 9:04:15 AM
Choco_latte Tahl's Comments:

I liked your story. i'd always wondered what hapened to the people sent to the Agri- corps. I liked the way you made it sound positive.

Author: Annalee  (signed)
Date posted: 11/16/2003 6:36:56 PM
Annalee's Comments:

...good stuff! I wondered when I'd see it again... :)

Author: hazardmagnet
Date posted: 11/24/2003 3:28:36 PM
hazardmagnet's Comments:

excellent!
great introspection and i love the feeling of coming full-circle. also the way you handled the parts of description that could have been awkward (the lothorn and the tongue-click in X!tal) were just right. i was able to care for the characters ina very short time

Author: LianaMara
Date posted: 11/28/2003 9:43:18 AM
LianaMara's Comments:

Great job, Jane! I liked how you explained the purpose behind the Agri-Corps, and you portrayed the characters very well. I especially liked X!tal, in particular, for he was so compassionate and understanding. A wonderful piece. :)

Author: Bant428  (signed)
Date posted: 12/18/2003 12:30:06 PM
Bant428's Comments:

awww, i like the circle of life thing.

Author: Valiowk  (signed)
Date posted: 12/31/2003 7:50:56 AM
Valiowk's Comments:

Wonderful idea! It reconciles the idea that those chosen by the Force are special, no matter what their destiny and fate is. Not everybody becomes a Jedi Knight, but those who are not Jedi also have a noble role to play in the galaxy.

Author: MutantJediBouer
Date posted: 1/26/2004 9:38:06 PM
MutantJediBouer's Comments:

Awesome story, with all of the movies and books, with the exception of a few, no one really thinks about this subject. Many people dont even know about the fact that not all younglings or apprentices become Jedi. Excellent writing and depictions.

Author: MissMilton  (signed)
Date posted: 10/6/2004 7:57:05 AM
MissMilton's Comments:

An excellent story addressing a subject that is often ignored or forgotten. The characters were beautifully drawn and the philosophical aspects interesting and convincing. I loved the way how you conveyed both X!tal's understanding and Tamini's grief and frustration, and how you managed to show the concepts of the story coming full circle without hammering the point across. A very well-written and remarkable story.

Author: Ani-maniac
Date posted: 11/11/2004 8:35:18 PM
Ani-maniac's Comments:

I really liked this stroy. It was very good. I was glad to see that someone put a positive spin on the Agri-corps. It amazes me to think that Obi-wan almost went there. Keep writing such great stories!

Author: Kalabus
Date posted: 11/15/2005 11:45:19 AM
Kalabus's Comments:

First story I've read about this even though the databank speaks of what happens (I'm guessing it was in a novel somewhere?). Anyway, nice touch - got me thinking about the purges though. Wonder if anyone's ever written about how the Empire went after all the Force sensitive farmers who weren't chosen for Jedi training. Sequel to your story perhaps? :)

Author: jarogue
Date posted: 8/19/2008 5:33:18 PM
jarogue's Comments:

Cool! I feel for that young padawan. way to ditch kids on farms, jedi order! There are child labor laws you know!
Great job writin' it, but for next time, please make your names less hard to pronouce.

Author: Ki-Aaron-Mundi  (signed)
Date posted: 8/20/2011 8:59:09 PM
Ki-Aaron-Mundi's Comments:

"The arms and legs of the Jedi body are important, but it's the stomach that gives them the strength."

*sigh* That's so beautiful!

I've always wished there was more written on the Agri-Corps, so I'm so glad I found this story. I'm amazed at how much you managed to strip away and unnecessary exposition about who and what the Agri-Corps is and just embed that within the story. And the framing of the dying Otom Pan before the young new recruit arrives is perfect. What a wonderful exploration of all the conflicting emotions that would go into ending up in the Agri-Corps.

And finally, awesome choice of name with X!tal. It's great to see some experimenting and less-traditional names out there periodically.

Author: Hafiz
Date posted: 12/1/2015 7:35:25 PM
Hafiz's Comments:

I've been with vodafone for 3 years. They have clttissennoy provided poor coverage in the UK, London, Buckinghamshire, Devon and Yorkshire. I have tried with 2 different handsets in these locations. Often calls are dropped, I need to manually switch from 3G back to GSM mode in Android Mobile Networks settings just to get a data connection.I asked for the migration code now, I will switch to Three as Vodafone technical support have been unable to address their reception issues in the UK.Posted 29/04/2013 at


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Archived: Monday, November 10, 2003







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