“I hate the idea of using a synthetic crystal for your lightsaber, Ben, but I’m beginning to think the Empire left us no choice.” Luke Skywalker brought the small two-seater craft into a smooth landing in the forest clearing.
Ben knew from his uncle that very few caches of natural kyber crystals remained intact following the reign of Emperor Palpatine, who had personally seen to their destruction along with many of the old Jedi temples. He’d quarantined and hidden the best specimens for himself, but with his death and the death of Vader, their location remained a mystery. Palpatine, of course, had also seen to the destruction of Jedi libraries across the galaxy, but an undisclosed number of datacards and holocrons had been spirited away by the Church of the Force, an underground movement of those who understood the ways of the Force but could not wield it. From the ancient tradition of lightsaber construction described in one of these holocrons, Ben knew that every padawan learner had to construct his own saber. Only then could he become a Jedi. He either completed the ritual or died in the attempt.
Ben was eager to give up his training saber, which wasn’t even a real saber with a reduced energy blade but just a wrapped wooden stick. All the functional training sabers had all been destroyed with the purge of the Jedi. He was also afraid to admit he feared the construction of his own blade. If the focusing crystal wasn’t aligned properly, the lightsaber would explode upon its first ignition. Luke had given Ben his own green-bladed saber to wield in a few training exercises – to get the feel of it – and Ben had handled it well, but the padawan wasn’t so sure he could align a crystal. Luke had said he was ready, but sometimes the Force got away from Ben. He channeled too much and at times lacked focus. How could he possibly balance and fine-tune a delicate crystal?
He didn’t want to talk about that now and he was tired of studying ancient texts Luke had recovered. As they secured and departed the ship, he asked his uncle and master, “If we have the technology to forge synthetic crystals, wouldn’t that be easier than searching the galaxy for real ones?”
Ben knew the answer was to be found in the texts and Luke would be disappointed his apprentice lacked the patience to find it, but the Jedi Master sighed for another reason as he led the way down an old footpath.
“Only the Sith use synthetic crystals,” Luke said over his shoulder.
He quickly turned away again. He himself had been unable to find a natural crystal and would never tell Ben that the crystal in his own weapon was synthetic. Luke had forged other crystals since the making of his own lightsaber, but unlike his first green crystal, all the consecutive ones glowed red in harmonic vibration with the Dark Side of the Force.
He had destroyed them.
“But the Sith are gone,” Ben countered, following closely.
“Like the Jedi, as long as their teachings are out there somewhere, they’re never gone.”
It was Ben’s turn to sigh as they pushed through the dense and decaying undergrowth. “But we’ve been searching for crystal sources on three different worlds and only found one that’s suitable.”
“And that one didn’t speak to you,” Luke grumbled under his breath.
His nephew had always been fussy ever since he was a baby – about food, temperature, his bed, clothes…everything. Why should a kyber crystal be any different? The Force connection was essential.
“Even Ilum had been ransacked,” Ben interjected. “How will we ever find enough crystals for all the padawans?”
Luke came to a sudden stop as the path opened up before them and a steep hill rose from the forest floor. “Where there’s a temple, there are crystals.”
Ben came up beside him and followed his master’s gaze up the rocky slope. He could just make out a domed structure at the top – a citadel from a lost time, born out of the rock. The dome was cracked and crumbling in places, and from out of a breach a flock of birds exploded and wheeled about the ruin. Luke’s previous searches had them crawling through a myriad of Jedi ruins, and while this one was equally empty, to Ben it seemed alive.
They slowly made their way up the craggy path and as they neared the low stone wall that surrounded the temple, a voice called out to them, “Be welcome and at peace, pilgrims. I am here to serve. My name is Lor San Tekka.”
“Luke Skywalker,” the Jedi Master said, extending a hand as he approached the temple warden.
San Tekka took Luke’s hand in both of his and grasped it warmly. “I know,” he said with a genuine smile and he turned to Ben. “And this is one of your studious padawans.”
Luke glanced over his shoulder. Ben had stopped to smell a flowering shrub and was face-deep in it. Blooms are strange for this time of year, Luke thought, when the trees are shedding their leaves. He sighed. Ben was never where he should be.
“Ben,” he called, holding out an arm towards his 14-year-old nephew.
After a meal of simple fare around a freshly swept hearth, San Tekka rose from the table and took an ornate box down from a lit recess in the wall.
“We’ve only ever found one crystal here,” he told them, opening the box to reveal a red one with a visible crack running through it. “It’s flawed and synthetic, but I believe it’ll work.”
Ben rose from his chair, a look of rapture spreading over his young features – a look Luke had never seen before. The padawan’s hand hovered over the gem. “That’s it! This is the one!” Ben breathed.
@MyKyloRen 3 June 2016