See? I promised you something civilized on the thirteenth, and who better to help me provide it than the master of civility and diplomacy, the Great Negotiator himself!
Ben? Where are you? Gone to bed already? I’m sure when I was your age I’d never have – no, I’m not scolding. I just wanted to talk to you. And I’d advise you not to check too many historical details about me with Master Jinn. Even though I’ve disclosed a few home truths to young Nasriel over the last five years. But that isn’t what I was going to say. Do you mind if I sit next to you on your bed?
I’m told this has broken the Temple record for rebound: a week between one Padawan being Knighted and the next assigned. I’m only glad your thirteenth birthday comes safely after the Trials, so there was no risk of you and Anakin overlapping. It makes more sense for me to train you than anybody else; you’re my nephew, after all, so we at least have blood and tradition – and language – in common.
First day over. Think you can survive the next ten years? You’ve joined the oddest lineage-family in the Order, I hope you’re aware. This afternoon, I talked things over with the others: Qui-Gon, Tahl, Xanatos and Bruck, Anakin and Nasriel. In short, we’re agreed you deserve to be told a little about how such an eclectic group of beings came together.
To start with Master Dooku: he’s been gone ten years now, and Qui-Gon and Nasriel have been searching for him the last five. Likely enough you’ve seen the statue among the Lost in the Archives: it means they’re the only Jedi left who truly believe they can find Dooku and bring him home. Tahl tries to hope, but she faced the reality of the case years ago, same as the rest of us. But Qui-Gon just won’t give up – in fact, they mean to be off again tomorrow at the crack of dawn.
Tahl and Qui-Gon have been friends since the Youngling dorm, and she moved into his quarters at the appearance of Nasriel, the latter being a small female and as such quite beyond him to comprehend. Bruck is with Xanatos because Xan saw something in him – and that’s all he’ll ever tell. Why Nasriel is Qui-Gon’s Padawan is a long and genealogical story I shan’t bore you with tonight, more so as I don’t know all the details. Xanatos, because Qui-Gon found him and brought him to the Temple in the first place. Me… I still don’t know why. Call it the will of the Force.
Anakin? Now there’s a bedtime story and a half for a thirteen-year-old just out of Initiates. He won’t mind my telling it you. It started when Senator Amidala – you might meet her someday; she’s a good friend to the Order – was Queen Amidala of Naboo. The Trade Federation blockaded the world, trying to annex it by making the Queen sign a treaty. When she requested Jedi intervention, Yoda sent Qui-Gon and me to help. One thing leading to another, we all had to leave, running the blockade with moments to spare.
Exciting? I suppose so. It never really occurred to me except as work to be done. Anakin. Right. With the hyperdrive leaking coolant and beyond repair, we had no choice but to land on the Rim world of Tatooine, to try and get a new drive. Only one dealer had the parts we needed, and he wouldn’t accept Republic credits.
Qui-Gon ran into a slave boy, a young amateur Podracer. As there was a big race the next day, the boy – Anakin – offered to race. Said he could win. Qui-Gon bet the parts we needed against the Queen’s ship, all on a nine-year-old’s boast. Beyond all odds, it came off, with enough money in side bets to buy the boy’s freedom into the bargain. Anakin’s blood showed a higher midichlorian count than any Jedi’s, and Qui-Gon took him home to the Temple, and informed up all flatly that he intended to train Anakin as his Padawan. There was a minor calamity involving a Sith apprentice and Qui-Gon almost getting killed, that I won’t tell you just before you go to sleep. The Council refused to let Qui-Gon train Anakin, said the boy was too old, too set in his ways, and far, far too angry.
Well, that was the signal for battle royal in the family. I hope never to see us so bitterly divided again. For once, I agreed with Bruck: that Anakin had to be trained, and Qui-Gon was the only Master willing to defy the Council. Curiously, Xanatos fought back, arguing on Nasriel’s behalf. Qui-Gon’s promise to her predated his promise to Anakin by two generations, so he was bound to keep his word to her before even thinking of training him. Tahl said a man’s word was his bond, and if Qui-Gon meant to throw that away – even in an apparently unimportant matter concerning two children – she didn’t intend to stay to watch.
Bruck and Xanatos got in a yelling match, with Xan trying to pull rank on Bruck, and Bruck not taking a bar of it; I said things I should never have said to Tahl; and Qui-Gon stormed on about how he would do what he must, and nobody else had to like it, without actually telling us what he wanted to do. For a week, none of us was talking to any of the others, and in the middle of it all Master Dooku walked calmly out, never to return. I try not to dwell on the idea that he might have stayed if only we’d all stopped fighting for ten minutes.
In the end… well, Qui-Gon told me, and Xan told Bruck, that if we were that set on Anakin’s being trained, we could see to it ourselves. As we both expressed willingness to take the boy on, the choice was left to Anakin. He chose me. And in the last ten years I’ve been glad he did.
There’s a war coming, Ben. The Galaxy’s unsettled; too many people have hidden agendas. Soon enough, the storm will break, and the Order will bear the brunt of it. But that’s nothing for you to worry about just now. Sleep while you can, boy.