No? Me either. Not until a few days ago, anyway, when I saw it in my Twitter feed. At first I was like, meh, because Revenge of the Sith kind of killed Star Wars for me.
But then I remembered.
You see, I have this bit of fan fiction I've been sitting on for a long time. It's just a short little thing, something I wrote shortly before Revenge of the Sith. Back then I was reading a lot of Star Wars novels and my imagination was churning, dreaming up all the exciting places the franchise could go. I never once considered that Lucas would kill off all the Jedi in one movie.
This little story takes place in a Star Wars universe where Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader and killed many of Jedi, but not all of them. Those who remained were on the run and Darth Vader was tracking them down, one by one.
So, in honor of Star Wars Reads Day, I present Fallen Jedi – Padawan. I've dusted it off and polished it a bit, but it's essentially the same story I wrote all those years ago.
A story by Shawn Enderlin
Kile ran, skimming along the building’s side as fast as his short legs would carry him. Hot ozone and blaster charred duracrete choked the air while the all too familiar sound of colliding lightsabers hissed and spat behind him.
Run, the mocking voice said in his head. While you can.
Heart pounding, Kile rounded the corner and darted into a busy street. He lost himself in the crowd, moving away from the ambush.
Good, the voice said. Run away and hide. You're too young to help her. Too slow. Too clumsy.
Kile pounded his fists against his head. It was true!
Master Marion’s voice echoed in his head. Control, Kile. Remember, the only one who can make you feel inferior is yourself.
Grinding his teeth with frustration, confusion, fear – the dark side! – Kile struggled to bring his emotions under control. Master Marion was right. He couldn’t afford to let fear control him. Not now. Not with death so close.
Give in to your fear, Padawan. Give in to your hatred of your own weakness. Only then will you discover the power you crave.
“Out of the way, boy!”
Kile looked up into the angry eyes of well dressed man who had. The man took in Kile's braid and the lightsaber hanging on the clip at his belt and the man's contempt melted into terror.
“Jedi!” the man blubbered, backpedaling.
The flow of people slowed to drink in what was happening. Kile felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end as the thoughts around him bent on that one dreaded word.
The crowd pulled away, their fearful glances searching for clone troopers. Or worse. Kile knew better than to ask for help. Most hurried away, cold with fear, but there are always a few whose shock hardened into calculation, for the bounty on a Jedi could feed most families for a year. Those were the ones to be afraid of.
Kile turned, poised to flee, and nearly ran into an old woman who dragged a reluctant boy along behind. Her crazy gray curls, deeply wrinkled cheeks, and too thick rouge should have been alarming, but something in her sharp green eyes said otherwise.
“Come with me,” the old woman said with an authority Kile was only too glad to obey. Her bony fingers clasped his arm, steering him through the crowd and into a nearby shop. She and pulled both him and the boy away from the windows and behind a large rack of clothes near the counter.
“Can I help you?” asked a distinguished looking man who wore the same fine clothes found on racks.
“Leave and lock the door,” Kile said, motioning only slightly with his hand.
“Of course,” the man said, politely inclining his head and backing away.
“Jedi!” the boy whispered, making the word sound like a curse.
“Not a Jedi,” the old woman said. “A Padawan.”
“Who are you?” Kile asked. She didn’t feel like a Jedi, but her emotions were remarkably calm for a woman who was risking death by the simple act of associating with him.
Her smile intimated a past he could only imagine. “I’m not a Jedi, if that’s what you are thinking. But I’ve known Jedi.”
“Ga’ma!” the boy said, scandalized.
“You don’t understand, grandson,” she said to the boy. “All of you kids, all you know is to fear the Jedi. You never knew the Jedi as I did, as guardians and teachers, masters of lore, compassion, and all that is good.”
“I wish they were dead,” the boy said.
The old woman grimaced. “I’m sorry that this is all that is left to you, Padawan. A boy your age should have better companions than fear, misunderstanding, and bigotry.” She touched his forehead, pushing back his hair. “How old are you? Ten?” He nodded. “Then you must have been in one of the last classes?”
Kile nodded, but kept to himself the memories her words evoked. He barely remembered his life before the Purge. Sometimes he dreamt of the Jedi Temple and of the web of aircars that flew overhead. Mostly it was Yoda he dreamt of. Kile almost smiled. Once, after practice, Yoda had pulled him aside and told him he would be a great Jedi someday.
Kile stuffed the memory back into its safe place then reached out and took the old woman’s hand in his own. “Thank you, ma'am, but I have to go before they find me.”
The old woman nodded sadly, hiding her face as she brought up a hand to dab at her wet eyes. “Yes,” she said. “You should go, but before you do…” She grabbed her grandson's shoulder, turned him around, and pulled off his jacket.
“Hey!” the boy protested.
Kile was even more surprised than the boy when she put jacket over his shoulders.
“Stop it Ga’ma!” the boy sputtered, reaching to take back his jacket. The old woman slapped his hand, stunning him into silence.
Then, before Kile even realized what she was doing, she grabbed the braid that marked him as a Padawan and cut it off with a tiny laser knife she pulled from her pocket.
He watched the braid fall to the ground.
Should have done that long ago, he thought, without anger.
“Now you can go,” the old woman said.
The urgency in her voice rang true and the weight of the world settled onto Kile’s shoulders. Master Marion would be dead by now. He was on his own.
A sudden wave of fear washed over him and he looked up at the old woman, asking, “What if I’m the last one?”
Sympathy and sorrow rolled off of her, but she kept it from her face and instead smiled encouragement.
“You're not,” she said. “There must be balance in the force.”
“Thank you,” he said, and then he looked over to where the boy glared angrily. “Thank you,” he said to the boy.
Eat nerf dung, the boy mouthed.
A feeling of disquiet washed over him.
It had nothing to do with the boy.
“They're coming,” he said at the same moment glass shattered.
“He said they went in here!” a clone trooper’s rough voice said.
“Find the Padawan!” shouted another voice.
“Run!” the old woman fiercely whispered, pushing him behind the counter and pointing him towards the hall before pulling her grandson close and stepping into the open.
“You can't have him” she cried. “He's my boy!”
“What?” the boy shouted. “I’m not a Jedi!”
“Sure you're not,” said one of the clone troopers as he roughly scooped the boy into his arms. “No!” the old woman screamed.
Kile, crouching behind the counter, closed his eyes. “A real Jedi knows no fear,” he whispered, giving voice to Master Marion’s well worn mantra.
Standing, he looked over the counter, to where the sobbing old woman clutched at the armored troopers. He whispered, “A Jedi protects weak, comforts the needy, consoles the distraught.”
Kile stepped around the counter. “A Jedi does not let others die for him.”
The clone trooper with the boy caught sight of him and pointed.
The other clone trooper backhanded the old woman and drew his blaster.
“Another Jedi?” said the first.
“Just some kid.”
“He’s the Jedi!” the boy screamed.
Kile drew his lightsaber from beneath the boy’s coat and thumbed the trigger. It blared to life.
The clone trooper fired. Kile swatted the bolt back into the leg armor on the trooper holding the boy.
Another bolt went wide. Kile leapt across the room, deflecting a third shot back at the shooter and dropping him like a dead dewback. Kile sensed movement and reverse thrusted his lightsaber up into the other trooper's stomach.
He deactivated his lightsaber and silence filled the room.
For the first time in months his breathing and heart rate were as calm as if he had just woken from a long sleep. Emotionless, he bent down next to the crumpled old woman and turned her bloodied face towards him.
She said, “You should have ran.”
Kile shook his head. “A boy would run. A Jedi would never let you die for him.”
A deep, mechanical voice rumbled, “Foolish sentiment, Padawan.”
The old woman's eyes flashed fear and even though Kile knew who that voice belonged to, her fear couldn't find purchase.
He turned and reignited his light saber.
“Fighting you will be a waste of time,” Darth Vader said, gliding into the room. “Your master was disappointing as well.”
Kile walked forward.
He died a Jedi.
A great Jedi.