[This is a for-fun fiction to introduce some of my Aul’s difficulties with having to reconcile his natural tendencies (for study, research) with the need to accept aspects of his training and the Force that he may not necessarily agree with (e.g., combat). This is a one-time post, but will ultimately be a part of numerous fiction entries. I hope you enjoy!]
A Cause to Fight For
Lyspair, Antei System
“Oh blast, I’m late!”
Aul scribbled down the last bits of his notes, tossed his notebook into his bag and bolted down the hallway. He was late, yet again, to another training match. As much as he tried to explain to his Master that his experiments just interested him more than fighting, Darkblade would hear none of it. As a new student of the Brotherhood, Darkblade expected that he remain in peak condition, should the need to fight arise.
As he reached the sliding entrance to the combat training hall, he double-checked that he at least remembered his lightsaber this time. It wasn’t that Aul wasn’t good with his lightsaber. He had actually mastered the fundamentals of the training form quickly. Learning was something that Aul did quite well; he just had no interest in combat, and so it was never a priority in his mind. He would rather spend his time aligning the genetic sequences of his crossbred animals in the research facility. This was not enough for Darkblade: combat must be at least as important as research, as he had lectured Aul about numerous times.
“Ah, so you finally decided to show up,” Darkblade said with a tone of both disappointment and relief.
“Sorry, Master, it’s just that I found this amaz-”
“That’ll be quite enough, Aul. I know you love your research, but how many times do I have to tell you that your research won’t save your life in the heat of battle?” Darkblade tried to reason with his apprentice yet again, but was starting to lose his patience.
“But if I get this to work, then it will enhance all of-”
“Not now, Aul. You’re wasting Warden Tsucyra’s time,” Darkblade said with a fierce look that immediately quieted Aul. It was at this point that Aul noticed there was another person on the mat.
Warden Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar stood before Aul, a friendly presence in brown Jedi robes. He was slightly taller and broader than Aul, with short brown hair and dark brown eyes. A pair of lightsabers hung delicately off his belt, just barely visible from beneath his robes. “Hello, Acolyte Celsus,” Tsucyra said warmly, a smile breaking across his stubbled face, “I’m looking forward to sparring with you today.”
Aul quickly dropped his bag and bowed before the Warden. As he arose he politely replied, “The honor is mine.”
A Warden? Is Darkblade just trying to embarrass me?
Darkblade stood between the two duelists. “Thanks for joining us today, Sang. Today will be a free-for-all sparring match, lightsabers only. The first to three completed strikes will be declared the victor. There is no restriction on Force power or combat forms,” Darkblade announced before turning to Enter to add in a low tone, “He knows his Form, and is good with a lightsaber… but he won’t fight. I can’t get through to him. He needs a cause to fight for, and it can’t come from me.”
Darkblade stepped back to the center-point of the mat. “Prepare yourselves,” he called as he took a leap backwards, “Fight!”
The duelists ignited their lightsabers in synchrony, breaking the calm of the Hall with the hum of battle. They carefully eyed each other, measuring their opponent’s presence.
Tsucyra was intrigued with this Acolyte. A Grey Jedi who would rather study than fight, with a Dark Jedi as a Master who insisted on proficiency with lightsaber dueling. He had heard of this student before, in fact. He has been promoted numerous times recently, so he was obviously not a waste of space. But why not fight? What could he possibly find more important than taking up arms for a cause? He wanted to get to the root of this trainee’s mindset.
The Warden tested Aul’s readiness for a duel with a simple forward jab, looking to see the Acolyte’s response time. Aul deflected the jab and, surprisingly, moved in with a parry. Tsucyra dodged the parry with ease.
“Not bad. You know your Banlanth well,” Sanguinius said, giving Aul an encouraging nod.
Aul smiled self-consciously. Though he knew his form and could apply them, he still felt not quite right in combat and lacked the speed or ability to effectively combine moves and really make a manageable offense. With Darkblade looking on expectantly, he shook his nerves. And struck again, this time going for a low attack, which the Warden blocked and followed with a swift elbow to the chest, knocking the wind out of Aul.
“It’s not enough to strike, you have to be ready for a countermove,” Tsucyra emphasized.
Darkblade called from the sidelines, “Don’t go so easy on him! I want you to push him past his limits. Give him a challenge.”
“You got it!” Tsucyra called back.
Although Sanguinius specialized in the defensive Soresu form, it could easily be applied for offense against an Acolyte practicing Banlanth. Tsucyra called to the Force to amplify his leg strength and leapt high above Aul’s head, completing a flip while striking downwards, his blade meeting with enough impact to send Aul’s lightsaber bouncing at his feet, killing its ignition.
“If this were any other situation, you’d be dead, Acolyte,” the Warden said with a tinge of disappointment. “Grab your saber, and this time treat it like I will kill you.”
Aul, embarrassed at his lacking against this far better trained opponent, bent down to pick up his lightsaber. Before he fully stood, Sanguinius lunged with a strong overhead strike. Aul looked up to see the electric blue blade tearing down upon him. At the very last minute, he brought his ignited lightsaber up to block the strike, but was overpowered by the force of the attack. Aul lost his balance and landed square on his back, his lightsaber again falling to the side, losing its ignition.
He crossed his legs and sat there a moment, frustrated and looking at the ground. “I just don’t see the point,” he muttered under his breath, “I could be doing so many more important things with my time.” Darkblade exhaled sharply and walked across the hall shaking his head.
Mindful of the young Acolyte’s loss of temper, Tsucyra sat beside him, his bionic shoulder whirring as he moved to the ground.
“You know you’ll have to fight someday, right? You’re not bad with your lightsaber. In fact, you have textbook accurate moves for Banlanth, the rest will come with time. But you just don’t have the will to fight, it’s obvious to anyone watching you,” the Warden said with a calm, questioning voice.
“I can learn things quickly. That’s something that’s always been easy, whether it’s a physical discipline or textbook facts. I’ve practiced, or rather, Darkblade has had me practice nearly every day since we were paired up,” Aul said, grateful for his Master’s dedication to his training, but unable to hide the sense of frustration over the time that training took away from his experiments.
“You know, combat is not a total waste. You don’t have to be an aggressive warrior just because you know how to use a lightsaber. Look at me; I specialize in Soresu, a defensive form. Why? Because sometimes you have to fight in order to reach your goal, even if that goal is not purely combat-driven,” Tsucyra said with a great sense of patience and reassurance. He continued, “For example, consider an attack on the research facility. All of your hard work at risk of complete destruction, it would be catastrophic, right? Do you expect others to defend your work for you? Or will you rise up and stand for what you believe in? Would you defend the progress you’ve made, that you think will make an important difference?”
“I suppose. But the facility is so well guarded, I doubt it will ever happen. I mean, even if my research were destroyed, I could just pick up another line of questions anyway. It’s not my physical research, or my progress that really matters. If they destroy it, what I’ve learned will stay with me, and will have been dispatched already,” Aul replied, seeming to grapple with what was really bothering him.
“Okay, then if it isn’t your research, what is it?”
“I just want answers. I don’t see how fighting will get me any closer to the Truth. I joined Naga Sadow because I was promised the freedom to find the answers I seek, not because I wanted to fight. Fighting only brings destruction, it doesn’t answer any question except ‘Who will die today?’ and that’s not a question that I would ever ask,” Aul said as he finally looked up at Sanguinius and continued, “I didn’t even know I was Force-sensitive until I worked at Dlarit. When I found out I was, I figured maybe that’s where the answer lies. I wanted to find my answers in study, not in combat.”
“A-ha,” Sanguinius laughed as he leaned back on his wrists, extending his feet out in front of him. “That, my friend, is where you’re mistaken. You don’t have to kill. You don’t even have to fight, if that is the path you choose. Using a lightsaber doesn’t mean you have to destroy, to cause harm or to go headlong into battle. A lightsaber is simply a tool; it isn’t a requirement to be used for harm or even defense, for that matter. You say you want the Truth, and that maybe you’ll find it in the Force. Study with your lightsaber will bring you closer to the Force. You will learn to move through the Force, to harness it, to know it like your oldest friend. You don’t have to use it for offense; you don’t have to use it for defense. As you said, you want to know the Force. Well, that is your cause to fight for, and lying over there is possible the most accessible tool on this moon for getting you to that point.
“It is up to you, of course. You don’t have to take my advice, you can continue to go through the motions and pass your exams, getting higher in the ranks and probably someday achieve Knight. You are an excellent student; that is something everyone knows. But I can tell you for certain, you will miss out on the answers you seek if all you do is go through the motions. Only through full expression and study, even its application to combat, can you truly grow to know the Force.”
Aul sat there in a buzzed state of shock. He had been foolish; blind to what was so obvious: that study of the lightsaber was not study of combat, it was study of the Force.
Aul, without moving, muttered, “I… well… huh.”
He was jolted back to reality by a powerful hand slapping his back. “Come on, let’s go tell Darkblade you’ve had an excellent training session and that we’ll spar again next week,” Sanguinius said with a hearty laugh. He stood up swiftly and extended his arm to help Aul to his feet.
They walked over to Darkblade, who had been pacing on the other side of the hall, unwilling to glance over at his student’s sparring match. He had stuck his neck out to get Warden Tsucyra to teach him today, hoping that maybe a user of the Light Path would instill some sense into him, but it was apparent all too soon that that was a mistake. He would vent his embarrassment and frustration later. Hearing the two duelists approach he turned, shocked to see a smile across their faces.
“Smiles?” Darkblade blurted in surprise.
“You’ve got a rare one, Darkblade,” Tsucyra said with a grin, “but I have to say he has, if nothing else, a very interesting approach to the Force. I am curious to see where he takes it. Let’s get together again soon and see how Round Two goes.”
Warden Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar exited the combat training hall with a stride of confidence, turning and smiling at Aul as he rounded the corner and out of sight.
Darkblade’s mood lightened. “What happened over there? Did you finally decide to fight?”
“Not quite,” Aul replied, “we just talked; about the Force; about why I’m here and where I want to go.”
“And?” Darkblade said, tired of Aul’s dancing around the point.
“I don’t have to fight” Aul declared, drawing an incredulous look from Darkblade. “But I will. Not for power. Not for peace. I am here seeking answers, and this lightsaber, these combat forms, they are a part of that search. They will bring me closer to the Force and closer to the Truth. I was a fool not to realize it sooner, but if I want to truly reach my goal I cannot accept only one path, and I cannot exclude any either. I must explore all opportunities and all options, including combat. That is the true nature of study, to be open to everything.
“I owe you an apology, Master. You were right to push me; I see that now. But you follow the Dark Path, a path I can accept. Nor can I follow the Light Path, as Warden Tsucyra does. But I needed to see from both perspectives to truly understand my place in this life; that neither Dark nor Light is where I am destined, but in between: the Gray Path,” Aul said with a sigh of relief. He had finally found his direction. But inside Aul knew he must be a disappointment to his Master. Darkblade surely must prefer to train a student who will follow in his own footsteps and carry on his teachings as he taught and lived them.
Darkblade stood for a moment and considered his apprentice before finally speaking.
“Okay, then. Now that we know what direction we’re headed in, let’s go.”
To Aul’s surprise, Darkblade seemed to accept his declaration of alignment, despite the divergence from his own Path. He felt acceptance, and knew that this would be the beginning of a new chapter. The Master and Apprentice headed towards the exit of the combat training center, but anticipating the road to discovery ahead.
As the sliding doors opened, Darkblade turned to his student and mockingly added, “You know someday you’ll actually have to win a fight, too, right?”
The turned the corner with a laugh as the sliding doors closed behind them.