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Chapter 3: Jolee’s First Mission
We had been hiking in the nature preserve for our exercise that day when Jolee stopped short.
“Did you feel that?” he asked quietly.
“I feel the creatures around me, and I can feel a small disturbance, but I can’t pinpoint it.” I replied in hushed tones.
“Well, it’s about time you started noticing those things. Young people never notice the tiny details, but I have hope for you yet,” he said, not unkindly. He continued, “The disturbance is over a ways in those bushes.”
“Ah, I can sense it now. It’s a small animal—a bird, I think, that’s been injured,” I stated, stretching my Force sense more.
“Good, your Force sense is improving. That sense can save you a lot of trouble one day, because it’ll give you a little warning before something attacks. That bird is an Arkalian warbler, to be precise, and those birds are very rare. We need to save this one if possible,” he noted.
“I didn’t know you could identify specific species through the Force,” I said, a bit surprised.
“If you know the specific fauna of the planet well, usually you can. In this case, I happened to use my ears. You have 5 others senses besides the Force, you know, and I’ll remind you to use them, thank you very much. I heard the warbler call over in those bushes. The Arkalian warbler song is unique, and it stopped the same time as the disturbance started. Nothing magic about that,” snorted Jolee. “See if you can find it without terrifying the rest of the creatures, please. I could do it, but then you wouldn’t be learning anything, now, would you?” and then he sat down on a log. “I’m going to sit here and meditate or whatever a Jedi’s supposed to do when they’re waiting around for something to happen. Now go, and don’t kill anything in the process.”
Right then, I swatted a fly that had bit me on the neck. I grinned at the timing while Jolee rolled his eyes in mock dismay and made little ‘shoo’ motions at me with his hands.
I walked as quietly as I could to avoid disturbing the other animals and tried to radiate calm as I approached so that I wouldn’t startle the bird. As I came near the bush where it was perching, I stretched out my senses more, and I could feel it’s pain and terror. I surrounded it with feelings of calm. Realizing the bird would be better off if it was sleeping while I approached and handled it, I ever so slowly entered its mind and carefully willed it to sleep. When I located it on a branch, its eyes were closed peacefully. I picked it up gently and brought it over to where Jolee was sitting. I sat down on the log next to him and began examining the beautiful bright blue and green bird.
“What a gorgeous bird. The coloring is incredible,” said Jolee in a hushed voice, “nicely done putting it to sleep, Jae. Your compassion serves you well. Not to mention if it was awake it’d probably have a bird heart attack at all our handling.”
I inspected its broken wing and cuts; it must have been caught briefly by a predator. I closed my eyes to start the healing trance. As I ‘looked’ inside the warbler, I could see the ragged edges of the bones and tissues. I started healing from the deepest layers and then worked my way out, beginning with the wing bones. I knit them together as best I could, trying to make the edges smooth. I felt the muscles and other tissues heal, and then finally the skin. After inspecting the warbler for any other wounds or illnesses, I handed it back to Jolee.
“Kavar was right when he said you had a gift for healing. It takes some masters and most Jedi a lot longer to accomplish the same type of healing, but it took you only a few seconds,” he commented, as he looked the bird over carefully, “you did a good job finding all the injuries and caring for them. I’d smooth the bone just a little more to optimize his flight.” He closed his eyes for a moment, and I sensed the bone edges smooth out even more.
“That was fast,” I commented.
“I’ve had a lot of practice over the years. Too much practice, I’d say,” he retorted.
When he was satisfied, I returned the bird to a safe branch and slowly started to wake it up as I backed away.
While returning to Jolee, I saw a shadow start to creep over me, and I suddenly felt the ravenous hunger of a creature. His hunting instincts were active and he had his prey in sight…I turned suddenly and saw the Terrien mountain cat crouch on his powerful legs and launch himself at me. He was a huge cat, probably several hundred pounds—much larger than most of his species. He was easily 12 feet long, and had the sharp claws and rows of 4-inch long needle-like teeth typical of his kind. In less than a heartbeat, the turquoise blade of my lightsaber flashed, lighting up the shadows under the trees. Remembering Jolee’s admonition not to kill, at the last moment I enveloped him in the most powerful stasis field I could create and then jumped to my side with all my might. When I looked back, the cat was frozen in mid-attack, claws extended, mouth wide open for the kill, only inches away from where my head had been just moments before.
Jolee came running as I tried to catch my breath. He grinned, “You got him just in time, I’d say, or I’d be pulling pieces of you out of that stomach of his.” He circled the still-frozen beast and peered into its maw. He touched the tip of one of the teeth. “Still sharp,” he noted, “and this one needs some dental work. Talk about bad breath, whew!” he shook his head in distaste as he finished his inspection.
Before the mountain cat could recover from my stasis field, Jolee stunned the cat into a deep unconsciousness and then called the nature preserve rangers to inform them of what had just happened. “We’ll wait here for you then,” he replied to them and then signed off.
He nodded at me, “they should be here in about 10 minutes or so. We’ll stay here to make sure kitty doesn’t get any ideas about waking up, though he should be down for a good few hours or so.”
We both sat down to wait.
“You know, this reminds me a bit of when I was in the Sith war. I was a Padawan, and another Jedi, Elorri’ani, was assigned with me. The war had just started, and it was my very first mission. Our job was to locate as many temples as possible on the surface of a moon, Yavin IV. Exar Kun had these Dark temples hidden so well in the forest that the only way to find them was through the Force. Once we marked them, the Republic could bomb the sites. Elorri’ani was great at easing by guards and slaves. His skill with stealth was amazing, and sometimes I lost him myself. However, he had the worst luck with the creatures on that moon. Kind of like you and the cat here. I don’t know if he just smelled yummy or what it was, but the animals always seemed to sense he was there and then attack the poor man thinking he was an easy lunch. I don’t know how many times he got attacked there and how many times I had to heal him, but I sure got a lot of practice,” he chuckled, “By the time I was done with that mission, I was able to heal as well as my master.”
He went on, “We managed to sneak by a couple of guards, not that they were that observant, mind you, since they were convinced they couldn’t be found. We were working our way down a narrow hallway of the stone building to set the final locator beacon. We made it to the center of the temple and entered a large room when a Dark Jedi finally spotted us. I knew right away we were going to have trouble—that Dark Jedi virtually oozed Dark side power. If he wasn’t a Sith Lord, he should have been. He sauntered over our way, smugly looked us up and down, and said ‘Today is a good day to die,’ or something equally inane. I’ll never understand why the Sith can’t get more creative with their threats.
"Anyway, he ignited his lightsaber for the battle, and we got into our ready stance. He attacked, and we battled for several minutes, lightsabers flashing furiously. He was powerful, I tell you, and we were having a tough time keeping up. Neither of us could get any advantage. The best we could hope for was to wear him down enough for one of us to slip through his defenses to hit him. Then he started to hit us with Force Lightning. My shield absorbed some of it, but it threw me back and I couldn’t move for a few moments. Elorri’ani did better, and deftly bounced the lightning straight up off his blade. Unfortunately, the lightning bounced off a large hive of Yavin bees high up near the top of the temple. Normally, Yavin bees are innocuous, and I tell you, they make some of the finest honey in the galaxy. We’ll have to pick some up next time we’re out in that sector.
"Well, these bees didn’t take too kindly to having their home fried, and out they flew in a huge angry swarm. Elorri’ani looked up briefly, saw the swarm coming, gave that ‘oh no, not again’ look, but gamely kept fighting. That Sith Jedi was so arrogant he didn’t even bother to glance at what Elorri’ani had just looked at. Elorri’ani and I managed to get a field up around ourselves just in time. The bees flew down and started stinging everything in sight—us, guards, this Dark Jedi, maybe even tried a droid or two. When the rest of the hive fell down from the top of the temple on top of that Sith Jedi, the bees really got unhappy. If we hadn’t been fighting for our lives, it might have been funny—picture an evil Jedi covered with honey and pieces of hive, dancing around trying to get the bees out from under his armor and robes. Suddenly he started choking and wheezing, and collapsed right in front of us. Turns out this mighty Dark Jedi happened to be terribly allergic to bees. He was dead before we could do anything.
"We set the beacon and ran out of there, passing I don’t know how many guards swatting and running away from the bees themselves. The Republic hit that temple dead center a couple hours later, and they gave us both some kind of medal for heroism for ‘maximum utilization of available resources’. I think they should have given the bees a medal while they were at it. Somehow some general noticed this and decided we needed more responsibility in the war—oh, the rangers are here.” He got up and explained the entire story of the Terrien cat to them.
One of the rangers spoke, “This is the cat we’ve been trying to catch for awhile, and he’s eluded us every time. He’s attacked several people, and we needed to get him out of the preserve. We appreciate you notifying us right away. We’re going to transfer him to a zoo so he can’t attack anyone anymore.”
The rangers sedated the cat so that he’d be unconscious for some time, and placed him in a containment field for the transfer.
“Thank you again, Master Jedi,” the ranger said, “you’ve saved others from serious attacks and maybe even death.”
“Padawan Jae here did most of the work. She’s the one who really deserves the thanks.” Jolee replied.
“We’re very grateful, Padawan,” he said, turning to look at me thankfully. I smiled and nodded pleasantly to acknowledge their gratitude. They left in the transport.
“Now where was I again?” Jolee asked.
“You’d just finished the story about the Dark Jedi and the bees, and how a general was going to give you more responsibility,” I answered, helpfully.
“Well, that general’s boring anyway, and I’m hungry. Let’s go back into the city and find a bite to eat. I’ll tell you more later about how I got more involved in the war,” he said, turning onto a path to hike back out of the preserve.
When we returned to our quarters, there was an urgent message waiting for us.
“This should be interesting,” Jolee said as he called up the holovid.
I watched as the figure of Master Vandar appeared on the projector.
“Master Jolee, the Council requests both you and Padawan Jae to return to Coruscant at your earliest convenience. We have a matter of vital importance to discuss with you.” The message was short and Vandar’s figure disappeared from the projector.
“I wonder what that’s all about,” I mused. I could sense the swirl of activity approaching.
Jolee looked at me with a smile and a touch of excitement playing in his eyes. “We’ll find out what it is soon enough, but I suspect we’re not going to have any quiet days for awhile. Gather your gear, we’re leaving immediately.”
We left for Coruscant on the very next transport.
Last edited by Jae Onasi; 03-16-2006 at 01:55 PM.