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Recycle Bin, Writing

Recycle Bin: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi (IIa)

July 13th, 2009 by Jeff | Dump Core

As stated in our previous Recycle Bin entry, my Star Wars anthology idea wasn’t really going anywhere. Besides the usual Recycle Bin killers such as, oh, being a copyrighted and trademarked world that I’d never be asked to write for, it was too broad and covered far too much ground. Eventually, I kept returning to a series of ideas following a single set of characters through several successive adventures. Since I naturally tend to lean toward long-form story telling, this idea became more comfortable to me and I eventually began to concentrate on it exclusively, completely abandoning the anthology idea. In continued to bear the same working title, Tales of the Jedi, mostly out of laziness.

As with the previous Star Wars project, the ideal format for this would be an episodic live-action television with hour-long installments. Borrowing a bit from Babylon 5, I saw it having a set number of seasons with a single cohesive story arc, but allowing for isolated smaller stories to be told during individual episodes. Thus, there would be a definitive beginning, middle, and end, primarily chronicling the adventures of a single Jedi knight and his mentors, colleagues, and apprentices. The events take place approximately one thousand years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, for the same reasons as mentioned in the previous entry.

As with every Recycle Bin project, this one is very rough around the edges and focuses more on the core plot and less on characterization and window dressings. That said, many of the characters are actually very well formed and have their own personal time lines. Sadly, none of the characters have been given names; this is one of those things I tend to focus on last, letting the choice of name stay in flux until the project becomes more solid. This way, I can look at the character’s entire arc from beginning to end and come up with a name that suits them, maybe even summing them up into a pair of succinct words. Therefore, the names listed below should be considered placeholders only, just so we’ve got something to call them.

Also note that this is a summary of an entire series with multiple seasons and many different running plot threads. Thus, this is a gross distillation of a much more complicated story and only covers the highlights of the plot. There’s actually a ton more detail than what I’ll list here, but for the sake of my bandwidth bill and your patience much of that has been omitted.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi

One-Line Synopsis

An episodic live-action television serial chronicling the rise of one Jedi from padawan to Knight and to Master, then his ultimate fall and redemption as he battles the return of the Sith and his own failings.

Characters

  • Ranyar Sinn:  Our central character, a male human padawan who eventually rises to become one of the most powerful—and dangerous—Jedi in the history of the Order.  He is brash and quick to act, yet has a surprising wisdom for his age. He is without contest the greatest lightsabre duelist the Order has ever known, having personally developed a style all his own using two shortened sabres as opposed to the traditional long single blade. However, he does not allow himself to become conceited by his skill and is actually quite modest about his abilities. His greatest flaw is perhaps his own self-doubt and lack of confidence, and he often second-guesses himself, a trait that ultimately leads to darker paths.
  • Kandir Vonn: Ranyar’s mentor, a male human Jedi Master with decades of service. Perhaps in his late 40s or early 50s, he is wise, soft-spoken, and patient, and yet one of the most skilled duelists the Order has ever produced. He has a long history of opposing the will of the Jedi Council, often with an insightful intuition that proves to be the right choice.
  • Dirahn Zolzt: Another male human padawan and friend of Ranyar’s. He is approximately the same age as Ranyar and roughly at the same relative level of skill, although he in no way matches his friend’s abilities with a blade. He is jovial and light-hearted and prefers negotiation and diplomacy to combat. He too is wise well beyond his years, and Ranyar often looks to his insights when his Master is not around. (Dirahn’s mentor does not play a significant enough role to warrant mention.)
  • Myra Haust: A female human padawan and friend and contemporary of Ranyar and Dirahn. See too is of the same “class” if you will, and her skills are roughly comparable to her friends. She is also an accomplished duelist, perhaps better than Dirahn but nowhere near as adept as Ranyar. She is the most emotional and hot-headed of the trio, often struggling to keep her fiery temper in check. There are hints that she may harbor romantic feelings for her two male friends, but as such things are not permitted for a Jedi, she keeps them well hidden. (Myra’s mentor is also insignificant for the purpose of this synopsis.)
  • Darth Scathe: Dark Lord of the Sith. His species is not entirely known, but he is humanoid with gray, mottled skin. His head is bald, scarred, and disfigured with large portions, including his mouth, covered with bare electronics and metal plates. At least one eye has been replaced with an optical implant. He is clad in the usual dark/black leather and cape that all Sith seem to wear, with accents in dark red. He is something we haven’t really seen yet: a Sith zealot. He does not seek to accumulate power for himself and dominate others (although he accomplishes both); he sees himself as an instrument of the Dark Side of the Force, working to bring forth a dark apocalypse that will be culminated in one to follow him. He has a succession of apprentices, some of which are significant.
  • Anya Mistrider: A young female padawan, perhaps 15-20 years younger than Ranyar and his colleagues, who will feature prominently in the latter half of the series. She is shy, timid, and unsure of her own abilities, but possesses the potential to have a strong mastery of the Force rivalling that of any of the Masters on the Jedi Council, if only she is mentored well.
  • Several Masters on the Jedi Council play key roles during the course of the series. However, since their parts aren’t as pivotal, they won’t receive interim names here and will be referred loosely as a collection.

Extended Synopsis

The series begins with young Ranyar and his mentor Kandir on a mission to track down pirates raiding freighters and passenger ships along a distant trade route. There isn’t much to really say about the story synopsis itself, other than it introduces the main characters of Ranyar, Kandir, Dirahn, and Myra. At one point the three padawans must go “under cover” as young, wealthy socialites to draw the pirates’ attention, a move the Jedi Council disapproves of but which Kandir convinces them may be their only chance of solving the mystery. Naturally, the padawans become separated from their mentors and end up resolving the situation on their own. The only other notable plot note in the pilot is a hint that the pirates are also involved in some sort of weapons smuggling, which is meant to seem very insignificant at the time (but which readers of GPF will likely note would be a classic Darlington foreshadowing of things to come).

Individual, mostly isolated episodes would make up the majority of the first season, several of which I’ve actually plotted out in detail. However, only three episodes bear any real significance:

In the first, a mysterious attack on a youngling within the Jedi Temple surprises the Council and terrifies the pupils. The young pupil is killed, seemingly having his life energy drained from his body. Only a single witness to the event can be found; another student, slightly older, notices a cloaked figure in the vicinity shortly before the body was discovered. Not long after this, the witness is likewise attacked and nearly killed; Dirahn interrupts the attacker and attempts to protect the victim, driving the attacker off. Unfortunately, Dirahn can provide nothing more useful for tracking down the murderous stalker. The entire Temple is placed on alert, with younglings confined to their dormitories while the Masters, Knights, and older padawans search the grounds.

It isn’t long before the next attack comes, and this time Dirahn is the victim. Ranyar and Myra are in the vicinity and Ranyar briefly duels the attacker, who happens to wield a lightsabre with considerable skill. After the attacker flees and Dirahn is taken to the infirmary, the Council believes it has unraveled the mystery. The attacker is an ancient species of creature (with an appropriately Star Wars-y funky name) that is essentially a “Force vampire”, feeding on the Living Force within a living thing. A Jedi would make for a most succulent meal for such a beast, and it would grow stronger with each successive feeding. It is believed that the creature somehow survived the great extermination of its race by the Jedi millennia before by becoming dormant and hiding in the catacombs beneath the Temple, staying alive by absorbing the ambient eddies of the Force given off by the hundreds of Jedi above. The Masters also take note of the attacks: in each case, the witness of the previous attack ultimately becomes the next victim, and apparently the creature chooses its targets to gain successively more Force energy with each feeding. It is unanimously agreed that Ranyar must be its next target, and that should he fall victim the creature will gain enough power to attack any Jedi in the Temple. Ranyar volunteers to provide himself as bait to draw the creature out. The Masters object, but Kandir convinces them otherwise. Even if Ranyar falls to the attack, the creature will need time to recuperate after the feast, leaving it vulnerable.

Eventually, Ranyar flushes the creature out and duels it. The battle is intense; Ranyar has his raw talent and youthful skill, but the creature draws upon the skills of hundreds of Jedi it has drained over the centuries. Ultimately, Ranyar defeats the beast and beheads it. The Council analyzes the battle and determine that Ranyar’s willingness to sacrifice himself, combined with his ability to control the emotional response to fighting a creature that nearly killed his friend, is enough to count as Ranyar’s padawan trial. He is promoted to the full rank of Jedi Knight, although he continues to operate in conjunction with his mentor for some time, much like Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi served side by side after Anakin was promoted.

The second key story (which may or may not run before the previous one) involves Kandir and Ranyar encountering a bad of “gray Jedi”, Force-sensitives skilled in the Jedi arts who reject the strict teachings of both the Order and the Sith and seek to walk the delicate, fine line between them. They view the Force as not divided into Light and Dark, but as a gradual blend of grays that can be traversed with appropriate discipline. There is very little actual plot scripted here, other than having Kandir and Ranyar discuss why they believe the Jedi path is more appropriate. But the importance of this story is to introduce the concept that some see the Force not as two opposite extremes, a theory that will come into play later.

The third key story may or may not have been part of the first season. In some ways, I feel it should be later, but then I wouldn’t want to push its revelations too late in the series run. Kandir and Ranyar are sent on a mission to a planet on the edge of the Republic to investigate rumors of arms smuggling passing through the system. (Remember the pirates from the first story? I knew you would.) The pair meet with the queen of the planet, who seems genuinely shocked and appalled that someone within her government would be involved in such a detestable practice. (Remember that prior to Episode II, the Republic had been at peace for thousands of years, so the prospect of large scale arms smuggling could be a possible hint of oncoming war.)

Kandir and Ranyar agree, however, that the queen’s story doesn’t seem to add up. Due to the nature of the facts at hand, it would be impossible for the smuggling to occur in this system without someone high up in the government giving the pirates their blessing. There is also the fact that the queen herself wears a strange amulet, which she claims is an “heirloom” of the royal line, but which Kandir recognizes as a being composed of a mineral known for suppressing detection of the Force. Was she trying to dampen the Jedi’s ability to detect something? Or perhaps she was trying to hide her own Force sensitivity?

The entire situation makes Kandir uneasy, and he confesses to Ranyar that he [wait for it…] has “a bad feeling about this”. He has seen visions of tragedy in their immediate future that seem to overwhelm him. Ultimately, he reveals a closely guarded secret: He is Ranyar’s biological father. He was sent to escort and protect his mother, a very important diplomat, and the two unexpectedly fell in love. The pair tried to keep their affair secret until Ranyar’s birth made it unavoidable. The Jedi Council nearly stripped him of his rank and position. But when Ranyar’s mother was assassinated, Kandir proved to be the only one capable of solving the mystery. When Ranyar proved to be Force positive, he was accepted into the Jedi academy for training. While his mother’s death nearly drove Kandir to the Dark Side, it was the hope that Ranyar instilled within him that kept him on the side of Light. Against incredible odds and many protests, Kandir petitioned to becomes Ranyar’s mentor, a decision the Council eventually admitted was the right one based on Ranyar’s current status. Raynar is, of course, shocked by the revelation, but somehow in his heart the Force tells him it must be true. Kandir begs him to keep his emotions in check, to not let them influence him. He fears that the following day will sorely try both of them.

The next day, the two Jedi part company to continue their investigation. Kandir tells Ranyar to confront the queen with their suspicion of her involvement, while he will investigate suspicious activity down at the space dock. When Ranyar arrives in the throne room, he finds the queen is dressed in much different attire (think something more in the black leather realm) and no longer wearing the amulet. There’s some witty banter, followed promptly by her drawing a red-bladed lightsabre. As the two begin to fight, Kandir suspects that his former apprentice is in trouble and begins to head back to the throne room. He is cut short by the sudden appearance (the as-yet unnamed) Darth Scathe. Two duels ensue. Ranyar eventually makes short work of the queen, running her through. Sensing his father may also be in trouble, he uses his Jedi speed to arrive at the other fight just in time to see Kandir fall. Overcome with a wave of grief and fury, Ranyar leaps the distance between himself and the Dark Lord and begins to duel him. The Sith Lord replies only in a deep, gravely voice, “Today is not your day to die, young one,” and blasts him away with a bolt of Force lightning. Before Ranyar can recover, Scathe closes the blast doors between them, leaving Ranyar and the dying Kandir on the other side. Kandir dies in Ranyar’s arms just as the palace guards arrive to arrest him for assassinating the queen.

Eventually, a representative of the Jedi Council arrives. Given the evidence (the queen’s own lightsabre, etc.) and the Council’s testimony, Ranyar is released and all charges are dropped. However, the message is clear; the Sith have returned yet again where they were believed to be extinct. The fact that they are smuggling weapons is also troubling. Ranyar struggles with the impact of both gaining and losing his father in the span of a day, but resolves to master his emotions as his mentor taught him and concentrate on solving the puzzle of the Sith before them.

The middle portions of this project are less distinct and would probably concentrate on smaller stories less important to the overall plot. A number of events have to happen, however: Both Dirahn and Myra both graduate to Knighthood (probably well before the previous story), more hints and rumors of the Sith emerge, and Myra accepts Anya Mistrider as her padawan (although this may occur largely off-screen). The most significant item here is that an elder female Master on the Council has a prophetic vision in which Ranyar and Darth Scathe will ultimately duel to the death. One must fall, but she is uncertain of which. After the duel, the Republic will be cast into a new period of darkness which will threaten the entire galaxy. The Council decides to keep this prophecy from Ranyar lest it affect his judgment, but the prophet Master decides on her own that it is in his best interests to know the truth. The facts of the prophecy trouble Ranyar. It is not so much the specter of death at the Dark Lord’s hand that frighten him, but the fact that even if he apparently wins this final confrontation, the entire galaxy will be at stake. This ominous foreshadowing will, of course, be echoed periodically throughout the remainder of the series to ensure nobody forgets it. 😉

And… that’s all you get for now. This post is already getting long enough; time to move to the next one. The second half of this Tales of the Jedi idea will be in next week’s update. Stay tuned….

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