"The defensive uses of the Force have been well-explored over the course of the millennia. However, a dedicated Jedi, who has meditated sufficiently and pondered the significance of peace at length, may discover personal methods of defense that can be utilized properly to promote calm in aggressive situations."
Anakin Skywalker tried to keep his eyes open.
"Let me emphasize now that only a Jedi who has fully realized and conquered his or her or its own feelings of anger or fear can achieve such a state, thereby enabling the Jedi to accept all possibilities that the Force will provide."
The antique hologram of Jedi Master Korzhun Fahhd hovered over the table before Anakin, projected by a crystalline Holocron. The tentacled Jedi?s scratchy voice was translated into Basic by a nearby electrareader, but for all Anakin knew or cared, the entire lecture was in Wookiee. Master Fahhd droned on, unaware of the boredom evident on the face of half his audience.
"Aggression and anger on the part of others can be defused with proper application of the calming Force, and physical Force can be used as a shield. The effectiveness of these defensive measures depends on the Jedi being not only being prepared, but centered in the tranquility of the Force."
Anakin hid a yawn. He shifted in his seat, burrowing arms and legs more comfortably into the cushions. The movement jiggled the couch slightly, attracting the notice of his Master, who sat at his side.
"You?re not paying attention, Anakin," Obi-Wan told his apprentice, a mild rebuke in his voice.
Anakin straightened his posture somewhat. "Sorry, Master," he murmured out of habit. He wasn?t really sorry though. He was bored and frustrated. They?d been sitting here in their chambers for over three hours, watching the ancient Jedi-Master-in-miniature expound on the defensive uses of the Force. Obi-Wan had been thrilled when he?d been able to activate the Holocron, but Anakin?s enthusiasm had abated long ago.
"We are very fortunate to have been granted the use of this Holocron," Obi-Wan continued. "You are not showing the proper respect."
Anakin rolled his eyes. "I said I was sorry, Master. It?s just hard to respect a holo of some long-dead alien projected from a cube."
"Master Fahhd is not a ?long-dead alien,? Anakin. He is a powerful Jedi Master who has achieved oneness with the Force, but not before sealing his wisdom inside the Holocron to share with future generations of Jedi," Obi-Wan retorted before pausing to take a breath. "What he has to say is as valid as anything I might tell you, or anything that Master Yoda might tell you."
As if the lecture from the cube wasn?t bad enough, thought Anakin. Now he had to hear it from Obi-Wan. His frustration forced him into impertinence. "No, it?s not. It?s as big a waste of time as Master Yoda?s platitudes that make no sense."
"Anakin! You are going too far, and you know it. Everything Master Yoda says makes sense, if you would only listen," Obi-Wan said, a note of steel entering his voice at the deliberate disrespect from his Padawan. "Stop being insolent for a moment, and just think. This hologram is as real as you or I."
"No it?s not," Anakin replied, a slight gleam of defiance in his eyes. "It?s just light."
Obi-Wan sighed. "As are we all, Anakin."
"No. You?re wrong," Anakin argued, not willing to give up his point. He knew he was being rude, but he didn?t care. Provoking Obi-Wan had become a hobby, of sorts, to Anakin. Like droid-making. Something he was good at, something he could do to pass the time. In his secret mind, Anakin sometimes compared Obi-Wan to the droids he built. A mindless drone, created and programmed by the Jedi to spout ancient aphorisms with the best of them. Often, the only way to get a reaction from his Master was to behave badly. It made Obi-Wan seem more human, somehow.
"I?m not a hologram," Anakin continued. "I?m living flesh, with thoughts and feelings and desires, whether the Jedi want me to be or not. And so are you, if you?d only let yourself remember that once in a while."
"How can I forget it, with you around to drive me insane?" Obi-Wan snapped back, with uncharacteristic anger in his voice.
Anakin felt a jolt of guilt at the expression on his Master?s face. He realized he?d gone too far. He said nothing.
Obi-Wan glared at Anakin for a few long moments. His vexation was almost palpable, making the silence in the room uncomfortable. Then he stood and sighed. "Come on, then," Obi-Wan said, and jerked a thumb over his shoulder, indicating the door. He waved a hand at the Holocron, halting the ancient lecture. He turned weary eyes back to stare at Anakin, who hadn?t moved. "If you?re tired of this, let?s go and do something else."
Anakin felt a frisson of anger at the tone of his Master?s voice. Obi-Wan sounded as if he were talking to a child, not his eighteen-year-old Padawan. Anakin?s mouth opened to form a retort, then snapped shut as a realization wormed its way into his brain. He had been acting like a child. He deserved whatever he got. "Yes, Master," Anakin said quietly, and got up to follow Obi-Wan out the door.
The two Jedi walked the austere hallways of the Temple in silence. Obi-Wan was glad for the quiet, because it gave him time to rein in his anger at his Padawan, and his anger at himself for reacting to Anakin?s provocation. His apprentice had done it on purpose, and Obi-Wan knew it. He was used to it by now, but it didn?t stop him from getting annoyed now and then.
Anakin spoke up quietly from behind him. "Where are we going, Master?"
"Somewhere," replied Obi-Wan, still punishing his apprentice. He breathed in deeply as he walked, letting his anger dissipate into the cool air of the Temple. It was nearing a late hour of the evening, and the corridors were mostly deserted. Their only onlookers were the giant, bronze statues of great Jedi Masters of the past, striking heroic poses in their alcoves.
A few moments later, Anakin spoke again. "Are we there yet?" he asked, in a child-like voice that contained a hint of a snicker.
Obi-Wan hid a grin. Anakin was trying to divert Obi-Wan out of his bad humor and, as usual, it worked. It was the boy?s roundabout way of making an apology for his immature behavior. A true apology, not one of the ?I?m sorrys? that Anakin continually spouted in answer to his Master?s constant corrections. "Soon," Obi-Wan said, allowing a tinge of amusement to color his reply.
He could feel Anakin brighten up behind him. Anakin?s emotions were so easy to read. He never hid a thing. It was one of the qualities Obi-Wan both treasured and feared about his apprentice.
"How about now? Are we there?" Anakin piped, as they headed for the high, arched doorway that led to the Room of a Thousand Fountains.
"Indeed we are, my young apprentice. Enter," Obi-Wan said, halting to place a hand on the old-fashioned door handle. He pushed, and the ponderous door swung open. Moist, cool air scented with water and a tang of greenery assailed them through the portal.
Anakin breathed in the humidity. "I love this place," he said, sincerity plain in his voice.
"As do I," Obi-Wan seconded.
The two Jedi strolled along the pathways for a few minutes, enjoying the quiet that was broken only by the tinkling of the fountains that gave the room its name, and the gurgling of artificial streams. Obi-Wan chose a grassed pathway off of the main promenade, and gestured for Anakin to follow. He led them for a way through stands of trees to an opening, like a small field, situated near the end of the room. A small waterfall plinked down a series of carefully placed stones into a quiet pool that bordered the small lawn. Obi-Wan plopped down to the turf and crossed his legs, then leaned back to stare up through the transparent ceiling.
Anakin followed suit, and they lay there for a while, watching the stars through the transparisteel.
Anakin broke the silence. "Hey," he said and pointed up through the dome. "There?s a supernova. It looks pretty close. But it can?t be. Must be thousands of years old."
"Yes, I see," Obi-Wan said, and fell quiet again. He was glad he?d brought his apprentice here. Anakin loved the stars, and always had. There were few places on Coruscant where one could properly view them, because they were either overwhelmed by cityshine or blocked by rushing traffic. But unauthorized traffic did not fly over the Jedi Temple.
They lay companionably on the grass, watching the exploded star. Obi-Wan fancied he could see it pulsing, sending out waves of energy and matter that washed over them. Energized them. He spoke again. "That?s all we are, you know. Bits of energy thrown off by stars-- the factories of all elements. We can become too arrogant, sometimes, and forget that if a star somewhere hadn?t sneezed, we wouldn?t be here."
"We?re all stardust," Anakin mocked in a high falsetto, remembering a line from a bad holo-drama they?d once watched.
"Well, I would put it more eloquently than that perhaps, but it?s true," Obi-Wan replied. "We?re all light. Just like a hologram. Little galaxies of atoms, wandering around and thinking too much."
Anakin made a fist, and reached over to punch Obi-Wan lightly in the arm. "Feel that? It?s solid. Try to swipe a hand through that, like a hologram." Anakin paused to shake his fist in the air at the nova, as if he could reach across the light years to taunt it. "Where I came from and where I?m going, I don?t care. This hand, all of me, is the here and now. That is where power is. Not in high ideas and holograms. But in our own flesh, and what we can do with it."
Obi-Wan chuckled. "Just try to swipe your hand through a lightsaber sometime then."
Anakin was silent. He obviously didn?t have a reply to that.
Obi-Wan sighed, and hoped he?d made his apprentice think. He tried to remember himself at Anakin?s age. Had he thought himself the ruler of the universe? Obi-Wan didn?t think so. Of course, his upbringing had been very different from Anakin?s. He?d been raised in security in the Jedi Temple. He didn?t have anything to prove.
Thinking of his childhood awoke a small pang somewhere in the pit of Obi-Wan?s belly. His youth had been centered around Qui-Gon. Who was gone, stabbed through the gut with a laser. Killed, by nothing more than light.
"You?re thinking about Qui-Gon again, I can tell," Anakin murmured, interrupting Obi-Wan?s thoughts. His perception was sometimes uncanny. "Stop it."
"Hmm. No," said Obi-Wan, not really sure what he was saying ?no? to. He closed his eyes and let the moment drift into its own shape. He spoke without really thinking. "Perhaps you should think about Qui-Gon, too. His body didn?t disappear, like those of some Jedi. But he was burned." Obi-Wan?s voice became distant. "You were there. He became ash, and drifted away on the wind. He became part of Naboo. Someday, Naboo?s sun will go nova. Qui-Gon?s atoms, mixed with everything else, will float aimlessly around the galaxy until gravity creates another sun, and new life. We never really die. We just become part of something else."
Anakin was quiet for a while. "But this is the life I?m concerned with now. I want to do something with it. Make something of it."
"Hmm. I?m sure you will. If you can pay attention for a few moments at a time." Obi-Wan said the words without rancor. Somehow, he felt good. He felt happy. The ache had eased somewhat.
"I hope so," Anakin murmured, obviously lost in his own thoughts. After a moment he spoke some of them aloud. "Wonder how I?ll go? Or you? Will we just disappear, or will someone have to load us onto a pile of wood somewhere?"
"I don?t know," answered Obi-Wan. Thinking about it that way made him strangely uncomfortable. He pictured himself, or Anakin, as empty flesh, burning on a pyre. A chill of foreboding passed through him. He didn?t want to sully this place of peace with it. It was time to go.
Anakin seemed to feel it as well. He stood up, and brushed off the back of his tunics. He reached a hand down to help his Master to his feet. "Luminous beings we are. Not this crude matter," he said as Obi-Wan?s hand clasped his own.
Obi-Wan pulled himself up and stared at his apprentice.
"See? Sometimes I do listen to Master Yoda," Anakin said, and walked off without another word.
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