Star Wars
According To Jack

Episode I
The Phantom Menace

Scene 17: The Jedi Council

Master Qui-Gon meditates.

He is in the Jedi Council chambers, a simple circular room with whitewashed walls and high windows streaming sunlight. The available members of the Council sit at their pallets around him, meditating as well, but none goes so deep into the Force as the old drifter. He stares past the room and the sky and the stars, through the past and the future and into a place that seems to be opening up just for him. The other Jedi feel a smallness in themselves despite their training, knowing that one who has renounced all but the most basic respectful affiliation with the Order could achieve such power without any apparent corruption, and so their meditations seek to temper these negative emotions. Those years of training serve their purpose, and none remains confined by such smallness, but rather each blossoms into compassionate awareness of the others; that is how they know they are ready to begin.

No words are spoken, not even in thought; the Council communes entirely in feelings. First there is great sadness expressed by Master Mace Windu that the pallet of Master Ki-Adi-Mundi is empty this day, and it ripples throughout those gathered. Yet it does not carry the weight of blame or condemnation, for none know what Ki-Adi's many eyes saw when he was with Anakin, nor even where they looked; when the blinded master regained consciousness, he said only that they were not meant to know. They then share Master Barriss Offee's memory of tending to his wounds and her confidence when she parted from him that he would not despair, but would turn even his blindness into a thing of beauty.

Then Master Qui-Gon recalls the ugliness of Darth Maul's face and the deftness with which the Sith wielded its lightsaber, and all are puzzled that this beast would have been trained in saber combat, for only those trained by Jedi know how to construct and wield these weapons, and no Jedi would dare train a Sith. Doubt is felt by those who presume innocence only for the blue-sabered members of the Jedi Council, though these feelings carry less weight in Master Qui-Gon's presence. All agree that Master Obi-Wan should return to Naboo with Master Qui-Gon and investigate the matter further.

Then Master Kit Fisto, one of the newest members of the Council, expresses relief that the boy Anakin Skywalker has been given a draught to dull his powers, and a consensus is revealed among the Council that the boy should not be trained, but should have this drink administered in a greater dose, such that it will dull his powers for life--a recourse usually only taken for emergent Sith who actively refuse the training of the Jedi Academy. Beneath their symphony of agreement is the slightest note of shame from Master Obi-Wan, for he was expected to inform Master Qui-Gon of this decision previously, and he hasn't had the heart. The Council then realizes that Master Qui-Gon is hiding his reaction from them.

"I wish to speak with Master Yoda," Master Qui-Gon says quite plainly.

One collective mind shatters into many as each Jedi reacts differently to this request.

Some take affront that an outsider would so bluntly request an audience with the Head Master of the Order, or that he would so casually bypass their own will. Others grow eager at the thought of seeing the reclusive master, who for centuries has not sat regularly with the Council, but has rather spoken through the few apprentices he has trained in each generation.

Master Obi-Wan contemplates how this is a perfect example of why Qui-Gon couldn't be on the Council even if he wanted to be.

Then the commanding presence of Master Mace Windu directs their focus to the entrance, where stands Yoda, First of the Jedi.

He is a shriveled green lump of a creature, no taller than an adult human's knee, wrapped in a small brown robe and leaning on a tiny walking stick. His elfin ears are perked as he listens to the echoes of their thoughts, and only after he has everyone's attention does he speak.

"What say you, Master Qui-Gon?"

"Good friend, I wish to take on Anakin Skywalker as my padawan and train him in the ways of the Force to become a Jedi."

"If a teacher you would be, Master Qui-Gon, the Council you could join."

Several of the Jedi nod their heads in agreement.

Qui-Gon addresses the full Council. "For ten millennia this Council has wisely tended the garden of the Force. We Jedi who walk a separate path have respected the supremacy of the Order, even as you have always respected our freedom to choose our own way. Yet now I find there is a place in this garden you will not tend; you would rather it wither than flourish. And so it falls to me. This is not a task I have sought, but I will see it done."

There is guilt among the Jedi, and Yoda bows his head. "Spoken truly you have, Master Qui-Gon. Yet much I fear in Skywalker's training. By the Dark Side clouded this boy's future is."

The other Jedi grow uncomfortable to hear their old teacher express fear, though they must acknowledge they share it.

"He is too old," says Mace Windu. "There is already too much anger in him."

Qui-Gon continues to speak without judgment. "Finding him was the will of the Force...I have no doubt of that. It is even possible he was conceived by the midichlorians. And for him to appear at the same time as this Sith...there is much happening here. He must be trained...."

Qui-Gon trails off as he locks eyes with Yoda, and nothing is said for some time. The other Jedi know that the two great Masters now communicate without words, but they do not share their ineffable conversation with the rest. Then Yoda speaks.

"Your padawan the boy may be." There is a tingle of surprise from the other Jedi, but if they object, they hide their feelings from their Head Master. "And upon you responsibility for his training lies. Stop you, the Council will not. Help you, other Jedi may. But caution you this Council has, and should you fail...your own failure will it be."

"Thank you, good friend," says Qui-Gon.

Nothing more is said. Both Yoda and Qui-Gon shut their eyes, and the others soon follow. A clash between two of the strongest wills the galaxy has ever known comes to an end in peace under the warm sunlight.

Next Scene: Padawan