The new video was a huge sensation. The media couldn’t stop showing it and the social message boards were lit up with a torrent of comments about it.
It opened with an aerial daytime shot of the Lodge. A camera attached to the nose of the Whimsy showed the approach to the Lodge, then a camera on the ground showed them landing in one of the bays. There was a voice-over with Kor and Prauf talking about the Lodge, and a zoom shot of the cattle as Prauf thanked the Rovers and Settlers for their gifts
A camera followed Kor and Prauf as they exited the Whimsy and made their way along the vast underground corridor to the main Lodge, giving viewers a brief tour of the building. Then it dwelt on them sitting at their ease in the main lobby, the granite slab with their rules on it in the background.
“This planet’s location is secret and will stay that way,” Kor said to the camera. He turned and wagged a playful finger at Prauf. “So no late-night visitors.”
Prauf shook his head in obvious mock sorrow. “I hate you.”
They both laughed, then took turns explaining the origin of the comment. Aquila had fallen in love with the tale the first time she heard it and assured them it would help people connect with them, make them seem more normal and less like mythic figures. Jhemon disapproved but Melron hesitantly agreed with her so, with some trepidation, they put it in the video.
After reiterating their enforcement of honesty rather than laws, they retreated to the Whimsy and took off at night, circling the Lodge to show off its nighttime beauty.
The networks gushed over the beauty of the new Jedi headquarters. LITE-G was particularly enamored of their name for it, the Treetop Lodge instead of this or that Temple. “This opens a whole new chapter in the history of the Jedi in the galaxy,” the pompous anchor told the viewers, “becoming part of the galaxy instead of lording it over us.”
ORA appreciated the beauty of the Lodge but still held that the Jedi needed to join the New Republic. GBS, CORE, and PAN, who usually followed their lead, were less strident about the issue. They urged the Jedi to help recreate the old or help build a new Republic, but their statements seemed more perfunctory than heartfelt. They spent most of their time talking about the Lodge itself.
The only outlier was, as usual, FOR. They briefly mentioned the Lodge then immediately turned to discuss the “intelligence” gleaned from the video about the Jedi’s location and how they needed to join the First Order.
“It’s destiny, it’s preordained, it’s the march of history, blah, blah, blah,” Prauf snorted as he turned it off. “Buncha morons.” He upended a bottle of Dhiketh wine he and Jhemon were swapping back and forth.
Prauf was taking his family members back to Aubreta in the morning so Kor snuck out as soon as it was polite to do so, giving them some family time. He headed down to the data center.
During the move, they’d discovered a whole series of history files in the systems Morg had left behind for them. Kor had begun watching them more out of curiosity than anything but had quickly become hooked. He sat down in front of the console and waved a hand over it. It instantly came to life and a message appeared on the huge curved screen; resume previous session?
He told it yes and leaned back to watch as the history lesson he’d been watching picked up where he’d left off. It was detailing the early history of the Jedi and he’d stopped it when it started talking about the midi-chlorians because it sounded like a lengthy discussion. Now though, he seemed to have plenty of time for it.
Three hours later, he turned it off and sat back, stunned.
Prior to the construction of the Temple on Coruscant, the Jedi had never heard of the midi-chlorians, but then as it became clear they were intent on finishing it and moving there, and even joining the Republic to the point of sponsoring legislation outlawing the Sith, suddenly there were rumors that the source of all Jedi and Sith power was found in something called midi-chlorians. A tiny, previously unknown, research company vaulted to galactic prominence with the discovery of the microscopic organisms. Through their proprietary technology, they had invented a midi-chlorian detector to determine how much power a person would have with the Force.
The theory went that the Jedi were unable to detect the presence of the midi-chlorians because they were using the midi-chlorians in their own bloodstream to do the detecting. In other words, the midi-chlorians couldn’t detect themselves.
The Jedi were split over it, with some claiming it was all a gigantic hoax while others said it explained several anomalies that had confused the Jedi for years. The video ended without drawing any conclusions.
Then, surprisingly, just when Kor thought it was over, there was a blip! and some additional footage appeared.
In it was Morg Shippa, but now old and decrepit, looking like death warmed over. Kor had gotten used to Morg’s younger version in the training simulations and it was shocking to see the ancient Master looking so old.
The additional footage flickered on, showing Morg sitting at the same computer station Kor was at, but in the previous Temple. His voice was weak and reedy. “I came back here one last time to add this warning,” the old Master began. “The midi-chlorians are a fake. I managed to take one of the detectors apart without it self-destructing and all it had in it was a few kyber crystals to detect the presence of the Force in someone. The midi-chlorians don’t exist. I don’t know who makes the detectors or what the purpose of all this is, but it’s bound to be a trap of some kind. I suspect the Sith may be behind it as revenge for the so-called Force Users Protection Bill the Jedi pushed through the Senate.”
He leaned over coughing painfully. When he finally recovered, his voice was weaker than before. He wheezed slowly over each word. “The rest of the Jedi won’t believe me.” He paused to catch his breath. “Whoever you are, don’t believe the lie. Find out –” He leaned over coughing again. “– find out who came up with them. Beware of a trap to destroy the Jedi.” He clutched his chest for a moment, squeezing his eyes shut in concentration. When he opened them again, he was slightly stronger. “Something has gone wrong with the Jedi. We’re going down the wrong path and one day we’ll wind up paying a price for it. I hope you can do better than we did. May the Force be with you.”
The video flickered out.
Kor went upstairs to his balcony for some fresh air, shaking his head over what he’d learned. Morg had obviously taken his life in his hands to come back to leave that one last message but Kor’s parents, who’d been padawans for only half a day before Darth Vader attacked the Temple and destroyed the Jedi, had only mentioned the midi-chlorians one time, and then only in passing. They were only nine years old when they’d had to run for their lives so they weren’t exactly great fonts of information about the Jedi. Changed circumstances and the passage of time since Morg’s day, had diluted his message to the point of near irrelevance.
He did wonder who had managed to pull such a trick on the Jedi, and how?
He knew his questions were unlikely to ever be answered, but they reinforced his determination to take the new Jedi Order back to their original origins. Morg’s prophecy that the Jedi would eventually pay a terrible price for their mistakes had borne fruit when they were wiped out in a single day and hadn’t even seen it coming. The new video was the first step on a new path for the Jedi.
Speaking of new paths, during the move they’d also discovered a way to update the Artificial Intelligence program that controlled Morg Shippa’s avatar. Morg had uploaded his own mental engrams to the AI program but without new data, the avatar was stuck with what Morg had known during his life.
Prauf and his family were still drinking and talking so Kor was left alone to wander back down to the data center. He opened the recessed panel to activate the update system for Morg’s avatar. He updated it with the older Morg’s information regarding the midi-chlorians and what he remembered from making Prauf into a Jedi. The old Master had said such things were just fairy tales. After an exhaustive search, he and Prauf had found exactly one paragraph on the subject, “There are rumors from the First Days about early Force Using wizards who could make ordinary people into Force Users. There is no evidence to support such a claim and no corroboration from any source.”
Kor fed both pieces of information into the avatar’s programming along with both videos he and Prauf had made as well as all their missions and their resolutions. He updated the avatar’s information about the Jedi, including the destruction of the Temple on Coruscant, the fall of the Empire, and the current chaos in the galaxy. It took several hours to bring the avatar as up to date as possible. Once he was done, he activated the avatar and sat back to see what happened.
Morg blinked at him in confusion for a moment, then his expression cleared. “Do you need anything, my young student?”
“How do I create another Jedi?”
Morg peered closely at him. “According to my latest updates, you’ve already created another Jedi but don’t understand how you accomplished it. Is that correct?”
Morg appeared to think it over. “Historical files indicate that early Force wizards were able to do the same thing. Since you’ve obviously done it as well, it stands to reason it’s not a matter of knowledge per sé.”
This was more like it! He leaned forward. “Explain.”
Morg settled into his standard lecture mode. “Early Force wizards had an extremely rudimentary knowledge about the Force compared to modern Jedi, and according to your testimony, you were barely more than a padawan yourself when you turned Prauf into a Jedi. This argues that such conversions aren’t dependent on knowledge or even skill with the Force. The only alternative is strength with the Force.” Morg focused on him. “You said you were in a life-and-death situation when you transformed Prauf?”
Kor nodded. “That’s an understatement.”
“Were you scared? Panicking?”
“Sure, I was. Who wouldn’t be?”
Morg smiled. “You must learn to control your emotions, my young student.” He went back into his lecture mode. “Nonetheless, such raw emotions can – temporarily – increase your strength with the Force many times over just as adrenaline can temporarily increase your physical strength. Without that boost, it would be impossible for you to duplicate your feat.”
“What if two Jedi worked together?”
Morg considered it. “You and Prauf have already combined your powers once to lift the school buildings on Ordnandell. It’s a rare ability but since you’ve done it once before, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t do it again.”
Kor sat upright. “Rare? I thought Jedi worked together all the time.”
Morg smiled indulgently. “We do, but combining power together is almost never done.” His smile faded. “No one knows why.”
Kor stood up. “I think I know.”
Morg gave him a condescending look. “Really?”
“It’s only rare because the Jedi have such an arrogant, stuffy attitude that they can’t unbend enough to try it.”
Kor had left the update function permanently engaged so Morg’s avatar could learn all the time. He watched it happen now. The avatar’s face gradually became long and sad. “I think you may be on to something, my young student.” The avatar paused and looked him over. “In light of your quick advancement, I think I should upgrade you from student to apprentice.” The avatar clasped its hands together in front of it. “I sense that you believe our stuffy attitude played a role in the overthrow of the Jedi?”
“Yes.” Kor was emphatic.
“And your padawan? Prauf?”
“He thinks the same thing too.”
“You may be right, my young apprentice. You may be right.”
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