A LITTLE NEW HOPE

Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing in this story.

Notes: My character need a little experience before I plunge her into the first film. Obi-Wan Kenobi was at least a seventh level character at the beginning of The Phantom Menace.

I hide a little reference to another film in this chapter. Can you find it?

Chap 2: Wherever there is Light, there is also Darkness.

As the gravity well pulled her towards the exit, Rei reflected on her trial. The order of the Harmony of Fire and Water held four ranks: Initiate, Disciple, Master and Grand Master.

The Initiate were those raised by the temple since their discovery by the masters. They learned the arts of the Body to discipline their minds and to master the rudiments of the Force. When the Master of the Initiates deemed them ready, they passed the first of the three trials of the order, the First Forging.

The Disciple then was sent to what is called the Quest. It could be as simple as working in the Underblue to as dangerous as searching an artefact somewhere in the galaxy. There was no Quest identical to another. The whispers of the Force were the guiding lines of the specifics of the Quest. During the Quest, the Disciple's willpower is tested. It is during the Quest that he had the more risks to fall to the Darkside. At the end of his Quest the Disciple take the second trial: The Second Forging.

Once the Disciple achieved the rank of Master, he'll attempt to be the master of all he is. True mastery of the Force is aimed during this period. Once he thought having attained this mastery, the Master seeks another master of the Force to test himself against him. It is not always a conflict as many masters simply learnt from Jedi. The third and final trial or Final Forging is taken at that moment and the Master take his place among the Grand Masters or Elders of the council.

During each period the member never stopped to learn and perfect the art of the Body. The mastery of the Martial Arts is at the base of the mastery of the Force in the order. Teaching is under the responsibility of the Masters with the insight of the Elders.

As the young girl emerged from the well of the trial, she was under the gaze of the council of the Elders. One by one they detailed the fragile blooded silhouette and 'tasted' her with the Force. And one by one they nodded to Rei who dragged herself out of the chamber. She almost fell into the arms of her peers as they took her to the Initiate dormitory for her last rest as such. She was no longer an Initiate, she was a Disciple.

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Rei opened her eyes on a familiar ceiling: The one inside her personal cell. The Initiate dormitory was divided in individual cells. Each with a very Spartan interior: a small bed, a chair, a table and a chest for personal things. The source-light was glow moss that Rei arranged in patterns across the walls with the Force.

She perceived a presence in her room and turned her head to her chair. It was one of her few friend inside the order.

Kamilian Surtek was a young girl of 16 standard years with long black hair and hazel eyes. She was very open to everybody and has taken as a challenge the quiet blue-haired girl. When Rei asked why, she has smiled and replied why not.

"Well, well, look at what the water-worm has dragged. Wake up sleepyhead!"

Rei smiled a little to the Initiate. "How long?"

"Three days. The Trial was rather intense for you, wasn't it? I heard that most of the time, the winner came out on their legs. How do you feel?" Genuine interest filtered of Kamilian. She was not strong in the Force but she was strong in the heart: Something more precious for Rei.

"There is no winner. You pass or you do not pass."

"Oh! It seems that you are really a Disciple now. You are talking like them." Kamilian chuckled. She loved to tease her friend like this.

A very light blush coloured the cheeks of the red-eyed girl. "Come on, Kamilian. Help me to the showers and we'll talk as I eat after that."

"It's a deal girlfriend!"

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The two friends ate slowly in the vast common room. The peers of the two girls had come and gone to give the new Disciple their congratulations. Rei was truthful to her friend but she couldn't speak of the Trial as she was sworn to secrecy. However nothing could stop her to reveal what she found before the First Forging.

"It is a forging in almost a literal way. The week of preparation is needed to bring you on the end of your physical and psychological limits. The order needs to expose your core being to the Trial."

"Hum…This is why they send the Initiate to some of the worst part of the Underblue alone, isn't it?"

"And why only the Master responsible of the Initiates can choose when you are ready."

"So, now that you are a Disciple." She grinned. "What is your Quest?"

Rei looked down on her bowl of soup. "I…I don't know yet."

An eyebrow rose. "You don't know? I thought that the Quest was the first thing that a Disciple knew about."

Rei was feeling ill at ease. Her Force-sense was whispering to her. A premonition of darkness clouded her eyes. "I…I fear that it will appear to me in the near future."

The second eyebrow rose. "You fear…That new! You fearlessly nearly jumped into the maw of that worm to save a boy and…you fear the future revelation of your life quest."

Rei nodded silently, still gazing into her bowl. Kamilian frowned. She was privy to a lot more of expressions from her friend than the others but uneasiness was not something normal for the quiet girl.

Kamilian tapped her lip as she considered that and smiled as the Force whispered a little to her. "Well, that can mean only one thing."

Rei looked up her friend and blinked. Has she overlooked something? "What?"

The Initiate grinned. "Your Quest is not on Merkusan III. You have to go on a romp around the galaxy."

Rei blinked again. She hasn't considered that but many of her visions were in other parts of the galaxy. She smiled internally. She has been so worried by the approaching darkness that she didn't reflect properly on what the Trial room has showed to her. She frowned as she considered a specific vision. Was it really her mother in it?

"Well Rei? When do we leave?"

This time Rei showed her confusion. "What do you mean when we leave?"

Kamilian grinned in anticipation. "Master Tal Yush has approved my Trial. In two weeks, it's my turn!"

Rei' eyes widened and she let herself appeared shocked by the new. A smile gained her lips and reached her eyes. She grabbed the hand of her friend. "I'm glad Kamilian. Very glad."

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The armoury was the place where everything needed by a member of the order was stocked: From clothes to weapons. Only finished products were put in the vast rooms on shelves. Some of them were as old as the order or even were pieces scavenged from a ruin. If anyone could access the main room, some backrooms were accessible only on the authorization of the Masters or the Elders.

Rei was making her 'shopping'. Letting her choices guided by the Force she was preparing herself for her Quest. She still had her little smile on the lips after hearing about the impending Trial of her friend. She didn't need something fancy or costly. The order taught his members to be self-reliant and Rei was always very pragmatic. Sometime a little too much, an incident two years ago involved her walking through the temple…in the nude because her clothes have been stolen as a prank. She has been completely unabashed by that since clothes for her were simply to protect oneself from the elements. Kamilian has been partially able to impart the concept of modesty in her but she still didn't see what was the problem with nudity. Her body was nothing special.

As she was finishing her 'shopping', she felt a ripple in the Force. There was 'something' nearby. She blinked as the sensation was coming from one of the restricted rooms. For her Quest she was allowed to take anything she wanted including what was in those rooms. Frowning she approached a shelf in the darkened room. The sensation was almost…clouded?

"Found something interesting, little girl?" The voice was deep and carried a hidden threat. Turning around Rei looked at the intruder.

"Makre?" Rei frowned as she considered the black-haired and blue-eyed Initiate entering the room. "What are you doing here? This room is restricted."

Makre was one of the oldest among the initiates and something of a bully that loved to show off his 'seniority', something that never worked against the cool blue-haired girl. Numerous times she has proved that she was better than him especially within the Force. Despite the warnings, Makre was always impatient for results and didn't like to be bested by 'a little girl of six years younger' as he put it.

Makre grinned and looked ostensibly at the shelf. "So you found it, he?"

Rei raised an eyebrow and suddenly blinked as she felt the ripple of the Force more powerful than before and emanating from…both Makre and the Shelf?

"Yeeesss…I can see that you had found it also." The blue eyes of the young man were locked on the shelf and almost shinning in the shadow.

Something was very wrong here. Rei turned to the shelf and examined its content. It was a simple box of black metal. No seams or mechanisms, no decorations or marks, a plain simple box…and something else.

As the young girl examined the box, Makre continued to speak. "It was at the very beginning of my Initiate that I sensed it." His voice was soft, lost in the past. "A Disciple has passed his Trial and I was helping him with a few heavy pieces he needed for his Quest when I sensed it." He stopped, remembering the scene. "Since then, I have been unable to forget it. I searched everywhere what was in that box but nothing has been documented about it. I have to know…I. Must. Know!"

There was a craving in the voice of Makre that sent red warnings in the mind of Rei. This was certainly not normal. She touched the box and she opened itself with a clack. She heard the sharp intake of Makre but stayed concentrated on the black box. With slow movements she reached in it and pulled a silvery and black handle of 30 cm long.

Rei' eyes widened at the sight of the object: A lightsaber. It was a real genuine lightsaber, something that only a few masters and the Elders wielded among the order. Her eyed narrowed at the curious sensation she felt holding it. There was a weight, an implacable purpose and a cruelty that irradiated from the weapon. She activated it and a red energy blade of 1 m appeared, her crimson lethality reflected in the blood red eyes of the blue-haired girl.

"Give it to me!" The voice of Makre was hissing between his teeth as he intensely gazed on the silvery weapon.

Rei looked from the lightsaber and listened to the whispers of the Force. She deactivated the weapon and threw it to the Initiate.

Makre breathed heavily as he contemplated the object of his long obsession. "At last, it's mine…mine…MINE! Ah! Ah! Ah!"

The young man turned to the exit, blinded to everything except the handle in his hands. He reverently caressed the lightsaber. "Mine…mine…it's mine…mine…mine…Huh?"

The door of the main room of the armoury abruptly closed in front of him, its lock clicked as the exterior bolts were engaged. Makre whirled around to face the other occupant of the room.

Rei slowly lowered her arm as she released her focus on the Force after locking the armoury. Only the use of the Force could enable Makre to get out now.

"I can give it to you, Makre, but I can not allow you to take it outside this room." Her voice was like a glacier as she locked her red eyes on the blue eyes of the Initiate.

He sneered. "As you wish, little girl!" The lightsaber activated.

Rei backed away as Makre ran to her, an animal snarl on the lips. The red blade cut through a stone pillar like a red-hot knife through butter. Nothing could stop the blade of a lightsaber except another lightsaber.

The moment the weapon was activated, Rei has dived into a combat-trance. Her face revealed nothing of her emotions. She could not permit this lightsaber to exit the temple. She rolled from a vicious sweep and reached with the Force. A quarterstaff flew to her hand. The more experienced Disciples were capable to imbue the Force in their melee weapons which could then stand up to the blade of a lightsaber. The young girl was not advanced enough to do it but she could parry the physical part of the weapon with her longer reach.

Makre snarled. The 'little girl' will not hamper his destiny this time. The Force whirled around the two combatants. The young man plunged into the seducing swirls of the Darkside, victory was singing in his blood as he felt the high of the battle and listened to a voice not his own. Objects were thrown with the Force and dodged with grace or parried by the power of the Force.

Rei was opposing calm and determination to the hot rage of the older Initiate. Three times her weapon was destroyed by Makre and three times she reached for another weapon on the shelves: Once while she was doing a back-flip as the red blade swept under her, once by another use of the Force and the last during the side-stepping of a lunge. Frustration coloured the dark emotions of his adversary.

"You're forgetting the lessons of our masters, Makre." Her voice was still level despite the high intensity of the duel. "You must control the Darkside, not being controlled by it. Let the Force guide you but take the decision."

"Be silent little girl! You know nothing of the true power of the Darkside!" Rei frowned. The voice was too deep to be the voice of Makre. What was going on?

"Here! Allow me to demonstrate!" The young man kicked Rei away and called on the Darkside. A blue lightning erupted from his hand and stroke the young girl. Rei' consciousness dissolved into darkness as she screamed, her willpower encountering another dark and powerful mind and losing to it.

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Rei opened her eyes wearily. Her entire body was on fire. She recognized the ceiling of the dispensary. There was a blurred silhouette at her side. The Force signature was unmistakable.

"Mas..ter Tal Yush?" She blinked away tears of pain from her eyes. What was this sensation apart from the physical pain? It was as if something has been ripped off from her soul.

"Hush Rei! Allow your body to heal for now." The Master of the Initiate was considering with gravity his best student. His gaze gripped the heart of the young girl with a glacial hand.

"Master? Makre! What happened with Makre?"

Tal Yush sighed. Of course, the young girl was not deterred. He closed his eyes, incapable to support what will appear in hers. "He surrendered himself to the Darkside. He escaped from the temple before any Masters could detect his ripple in the Force and managed to take a transport to another planet. It was four days ago… Two Initiates died by his hand attempting to stop him. Others civilians in Central Point were wounded or killed."

"Ka…Kamilian?"

"I'm sorry Rei, she's among the dead."

For the first time since her little childhood Rei sobbed. Her master silently gathered her in his arms as she cried for her friend.

"It's not fair! It's not fair. Why her master? She was so full of life. We…we were going to take our Quest together. She…she was my best friend, my…only…friend…"

Her mask shattered by the trauma of the loss of Kamilian and the wounds she received, Rei gazed desperately in the blue eyes of the one she always considered like a father. "Why didn't I see it master? Why the Force did not show me it?"

"Because the very nature of the Darkside is to cloud the perception of the Universe. It doesn't want the adept to see anything but what it want him to see. Such is the power of the Darkside."

"There is Ignorance…"

"There is Knowledge."

A sudden calm descended on the young girl as she and the Master recited the credo of the order of the Harmony of Fire and Water. "There is Emotion…"

"There is Peace."

"There is Passion…" The raging face of Makre imposed itself in the mind of the Disciple.

"There is Serenity."

"There is Death…" The sensation of a hand on her shoulder, the fleeting touch of long hair on her cheek and a small light laugh echoing in her ears. Rei began to breathe more freely as a warm sensation entered her heart.

"There is the Force." A long time the Master and the Disciple stayed with each other mourning the ones they loved.

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A week has passed since the tragedy. Once again Rei was in the armoury preparing herself for her Quest. She was contemplating an open black box.

'Your Quest is not on Merkusan III' has said Kamilian. Prophetic words whispered by the Force without any doubt. A lone tear shone in the blood red eyes. She closed her eyes and took the object resting in the black box.

After he nearly killed her, murdered two of his peers and thrown away the teachings of the order that raised him, Makre has left the one object that precipitate everything. Or has he?

The red-bladed lightsaber seemed…different in her hand now. There was still the small ripple that signalled it to her perception but… Something was missing. Something that was present when she first found it. Something…

Something that was now at large in the galaxy. She looked up to the stone ceiling. Her eyes unseeing as the Force whirled around her.

Somewhere there was a Darksider she must find.