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"Lightsabers": Book 4 in the Young Jedi Knights series


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chapter 1:

Dawn arrives and Luke Skywalker stops his meditations, using the Force to engage in physical exercise. He is troubled by the recent events surrounding his former student, Brakiss, who had abducted several students from his school and attempted to corrupt them to the Dark Side.

Having failed at that, he resorted to culling Force-sensitives among the poor youth of Coruscant. Now, Jacen and Jaina’s friend, Zekk, is among Brakiss’s students. Equipment stolen from a New Republic supply ship by the former Imperial TIE pilot, Qorl, leads Luke to believe that an attack is coming.

He gets the feeling that this new leader of the Second Imperium, as it is called, is more than just a pretender.

In the Great Hall, Luke addresses his students, reminding them of dark times ahead and how he needs them to focus on stretching their understanding of their skills to prepare for what lies ahead.

Later, he approaches Jacen, Jaina, Lowbacca and Tenel Ka. He tells them that they have the most experience with the Shadow Academy and believes that they are ready for the next step in their Jedi training: building their own lightsabers.
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  • Luke specifically states that it is 19 years after the death of the Emperor. This means, the time is now 24 years ABY and Jacen & Jaina are 14 years old. Their brother, Anakin, should be about 12 ½.
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chapter 2:

Luke explains to them that Jedi during the Clone Wars could build their sabers in a couple of days, but the true art of lightsaber construction takes a long time. They will have to choose their components wisely.

The power source is fairly simple to find, but it’s the focusing crystal that will be a challenge. The best ones to use are rare kaiburr crystals, but he doesn’t have a stash of those here. For that reason, they’ll have to find their own gems.

He describes the various colors a saber blade can take and how they should be able to scavenge gems from around the temple. Or they can use resources already at their disposal.

Jaina decides to grow her own crystal so that hers will be unique. Jacen uses the Corusca gem he’d gotten at GemDiver Station for his. Lowie finds small crystals used in a high-resolution projection display for his.
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  • Kaiburr crystals were used in lightsabers? Really?
  • The lightsaber method Luke described during the Clone Wars as opposed to before it was described in I, Jedi.
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chapter 3:

Tenel Ka spends a great deal more time honing her physical skills, knowing that the body is more important than the weapon. Still, she gives considerable thought to how she wants her lightsaber to look and chooses to use the two Rancor teeth she’d kept when her grandmother’s favorite rancor died a couple of years ago.

Em Teedee tells her Lowie wants to know which volcano she wants to search for her crystals in. She becomes concerned when she realizes that her friend and the twins are nearly done with hers. She decides to complete hers without delay and chooses the nearest one.

They head into the jungle where she finds crystals honed by the volcano’s lava. She works late into the night. She is troubled when she realizes the crystals do not fit perfectly into the handle and that they have tiny flaws in them. But she’s tired and doesn’t have time to go back for others.
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  • Obviously, Tenel Ka did not get rancor teeth from Ta’a Chume, but from Teneniel Djo’s mother.
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chapter 4:

After spending time dueling droids with wooden sticks, the four students are taken in the jungle with their newly-built lightsabers. Luke pulls out four remotes. He also brings out a visor for Lowbacca and three blastshielded helmets for the others. They will be deflecting bolts using only the Force.

He cautions them to be careful with their new weapons.

It is challenging to fight this way. Jacen doesn’t like to admit to himself that he is using some of the skills Brakiss taught him. However, he soon gets the hang of it. When Luke calls off the session, they find that Tenel Ka has sliced hers in two.

She explains she also used her ears to track the remote. Luke congratulates her for using all of her resources, not just the Force.

Then he sets Jain and Lowie to fence each other. Neither wants to fight the other, but Luke tells them there’s a difference between practicing their skills and fighting. They need to be able to defend themselves from a lightsaber attack.

Jaina knows this is true, especially if she is to help free Zekk from the hold of the Shadow Academy.

She and Lowie do a good job and Luke decides it’s time for Jacen and Tenel Ka’s turn.
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chapter 5:

Luke warns them to not get cocky. The two of them start off sparring. Jacen tells Tenel Ka that a wampa has such long arms because his hands are too far away from its body.

Tenel Ka refuses to be distracted with jokes. They push themselves to do well. Tenel Ka presses herself to the point where the handle shudders.

As Jacen swings back, Tenel Ka’s crystal overloads and the blade vanishes. The swing comes down, but through flesh, not blade and cuts through Tenel Ka’s arm. She sees her own hand holding the rancor-tooth handle, hears Jacen scream and then passes out.
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chapter 6:

Brakiss shows Zekk the nebula created by Naga Sadow millennia ago and how he can manipulate the starfire itself. This is power Jacen and Jaina would never have shown him.

Zekk had never intended to abandon his friends, but Brakiss had shown him things he had not learned from them. He resents them for holding him back from better life than the one he had in Coruscant’s underworld.

At times, he misses Old Peckhum, but he knows his future is here.

Zekk wants to learn to do as Brakiss is, but his teacher reminds him there are still things to learn. In the meantime, Tamith Kai flaunts her prized student, Vilas. Brakiss thinks Zekk is ready for something else, however. He gives the young man a lightsaber.

Normally, these are constructed by the student, but they haven’t the time for that now. He leads Zekk to the training rooms where he hopes the young man will do better than his friends did.
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chapter 7:

Luke had carried Tenel Ka himself back to the academy. No one was allowed to see her while she was being treated. Now that she’s simply in the infirmary, Jacen cannot stand the wait any longer.

He, Jaina and Lowie approach Luke and Jacen explains that he needs to see Tenel Ka, even if it’s just to apologize or to tell her a joke. Luke tells them that she needs to be alone now. The lightsaber explosion made reattaching her arm impossible. Prosthetics are possible, but that’s a hard decision to make. For now, they need to let Tenel Ka have time alone.

That night, Jacen sleeps fitfully before waking up and running to get Lowie and Jaina. He tells them he senses something is wrong with Tenel Ka. They find a shuttle leaving the temple; Master Skywalker is standing there seeing it off.

He explains that Tenel Ka’s family came for her. Jaina doesn’t understand why a family from Dathomir would be flying an ambassador shuttle bearing the crest of the Royal Family of Hapes.
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chapter 8:

Tenel Ka could not bear to see the looks of pity on her friends’ faces which is why she left in the middle of the night. She doesn’t know what she will do now that she has only one arm.

She cannot rely on her physical prowess anymore. How can she climb or swim or even braid her own hair without one hand? Who will take a Jedi with only one limb seriously? She can’t even say that she lost it in battle. Her own pride and foolishness caused her to speed up construction.

Ambassador Yfra enters and asks if there’s anything she can bring the princess. Tenel Ka knows this woman is just like the other women on Hapes. She may ooze concern, but it’s the false sincerity of the Royal Court. She wishes to be left alone, dreading having to live out her days on Hapes.

She is greeted only by her grandmother, the former Queen Mother, Ta’a Chume. Her parents are on a top-secret diplomatic mission. Ta’a Chume treats her to a display of handsome servants performing gymnastics in celebration of the princess’s return. She points out that few who fail to complete Jedi training have ruling an empire as a fallback position. At least, that doesn’t require both arms. She thinks this was the Force’s way of telling Tenel Ka that she is destined to rule, not serve.
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chapter 9:

Tionne approaches the three trainees and tells them Master Skywalker wants her to pick up on their lightsaber training. Along the way, Jacen jokes with Jaina that a droid mechanic is never lonely because he’s always making new friends.

Jaina cannot concentrate on her practice because she cannot forget the colors of the saber which remind her of others. The violet of Tamith Kai’s eyes, the emerald of Zekk’s who’s now training with Brakiss, the bronze of Tenel Ka’s hair. She abruptly stops.

Tionne sits them down and tells them the story of Nomi Sunrider who abandoned the lightsaber after killing the bandits who murdered her husband. She was later forced to use it to protect her daughter and master.

One doesn’t have to be eager in order to use a lightsaber, but only to understand the need to use it sometimes. Jaina begins to understand, but Tionne decides that this is enough practice for one day.
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chapter 10:

Tenel Ka finds the doctors on Hapes meddlesome. She allows herself to be fitted with a biomechanical arm, but cannot help but consider how alien it feels. Luke Skywalker has a prosthetic hand, so it’s not that she considers it a weakness.

However, she has allowed everyone else to make decisions for her since arriving here. She tells the doctors that she will not have a prosthetic and hurls it off when they persist in pushing it on her.
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chapter 11:

While Jacen, Jaina and Lowbacca try to keep their minds off of their friend, Luke is dealing with his own concerns. Ta’a Chume had informed him that Prince Isolder and his wife were away on a long trip and that she did not want him trying to contact her granddaughter.

Knowing that the old matriarch has never approved of Tenel Ka’s Jedi training, he worries that she may take advantage of the girl’s emotional vulnerability. He has no doubt she will receive the best medical care available; however, without her parents to support her, she may more easily fall under Ta’a Chume’s influence. Tenel Ka needs the love and support of her friends. He tells Artoo to get to the Shadow Chaser.

They all excitedly pack for their trip once Luke tells them they are going to visit Tenel Ka. They are confused, however, when the ship exits hyperspace in the Hapes Cluster. Luke tells them that they need to know something.
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chapter 12:
Norys realizes he’s exchanging the leadership of a gang for the discipline of a stormtrooper, but he knows that having the military might to back him up makes up for it. He may even rise in rank to command others.

He heads to the training room where Qorl admonishes him for being late and throws a spear at him. He reminds Norys that stormtrooper armor may be strong, but it can’t protect him from everything, such as a blaster.

He hands Noryl one and makes him practice shooting moving targets, something Noryl isn’t accustomed to doing. Shooting at mynocks is tough work. He does a fair enough job, but Qorl also points out that mynocks don’t shoot back.

Zekk waits with Brakiss and considers how he has risen so quickly among the Dark Jedi trained here. His rival, Vilas, may have been first, but Zekk isn’t so certain that he will stay in the top spot.

The projector displays an image of Emperor Palpatine who tells them that the Second Imperium is preparing to strike. They will establish a new order in the galaxy. The Force is on their side.
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chapter 13:

When they land on Hapes, Ta’a Chume greets them, explaining that Tenel Ka will not be able to speak with them. That doesn’t dissuade Jacen, Jaina and Lowie who spot the princess across the way and run to here.

Ta’a Chume notes she hadn’t called for her granddaughter. Luke admits he connected with her through the Force and that she’s more Jedi than her grandmother wants to admit. Ta’a Chume believes that may change.

Luke asks if what Tenel Ka wants means anything. He had let her come home because he thought she’d be with her parents. Now, he’s reconsidering that decision and asks where Isolder and Teneniel Djo are.

Ta’a Chume explains that she had gotten word of an assassination plot against the royal family, so she sent her son and his wife away on the pretense of a diplomatic mission. Only she and her attendant know where they are. Tenel Ka’s accident was unforeseen, but she believes her granddaughter is safer here than she would be on Yavin IV.

Jacen has never lived in a room so opulent. He’s having a hard time adjusting to the fact that the warrior girl from Dathomir is a princess of Hapes. He also doesn’t know how his Uncle Luke managed to convince the former Queen Mother to allow the young students to stay here for an entire month. When it’s over, he will return to bring what they hope will be four students back to the academy.

Tenel Ka appears and asks if Jacen’s room is acceptable. He exclaims over it and then apologizes to her for causing her injury. She tells him it was her fault, explaining how her pride caused her to ignore the defiencies of her own weapon in favor of her physical strength.

Jacen feels he should have anticipated the move better and stopped himself from swinging the saber down. Tenel Ka reminds him she should have sensed the flawed weapon. Jacen asks if she wants to hear a joke.

To his surprise, she begins laughing. She says they compete so much that they are now competing over who takes the blame. He just wants her to accept his apology. She does and they embrace.

They find the others and the friends talk for a long time before Ta’a Chume interrupts to inform them that dinner is being served. She anticipated that Tenel Ka would want to be alone with her friends so she sent the attendants away. Nevertheless, Tenel Ka is familiar with this game and insists that they serve dinner here away from the formal dining hall.

Her grandmother acquiesces. While everyone freshens up, they are startled by a deafening roar. They run to the dining room to find Ta’a Chume exiting with smoke billowing everywhere.

It was a bomb clearly intended for her and the princess.
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  • I can’t believe Luke would leave his niece and nephew alone on Hapes with Tenel Ka’s Jedi-hating grandmother who has already admitted that her family is the target of assassins and who Luke believes is trying to use her influence to convince Tenel Ka to abandon her Jedi training.
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chapter 14:

They are moved from the palace to Reef Fortress on the ocean where Ta’a Chume assures them they will be safer. She does not trust the investigation to be run without her so she will travel between the two.

After they are given rooms appropriate to their personalities and interests, Tenel Ka’s friends join her in some swimming. She is surprised to find that she is able to use her strong legs to propel herself while floating. In fact, there are many things she can do even without one arm.

They spend the afternoon together just having fun and, when Jacen challenges her to a race to the shore, she accepts only if he actually intends to win. When she is the victor, she can tell he is truly surprised and hadn’t gone easy on her at all.
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chapter 15:

A couple of days later, they watch awkwardly as Tenel Ka has an argument with her grandmother about wearing the fancy robes and crown for the arrival of an important diplomat. Tenel Ka resents her grandmother making plans for her, especially plans that involve her learning to rule the Hapes Consortium, something she has no interest in.

Jacen reminds her that even Master Skywalker believes Jedi should draw strength from all knowledge. She may someday find a need for the type of training her grandmother wishes her to have.

Tenel Ka finally agrees to do this, but her way. Her grandmother thinks an independent streak is good, so long as it is not done to excess.

She wears the gown and tiara, but insists on having Lowie and Em Teedee with her. Em Teedee fills her in on the details. The Mairan ambassador is coming from a consulate built on the floor of the ocean. He has a complaint regarding the Vergill mining that is going on nearby. Though very productive, the mining is noisy and dirty. The Mairans want to petition to have the Vergills clean up the mess and move the operation further away from their consulate.

They will only allow the maitrarch to settle the dispute or her designated appointee in the royal family. Today that is Tenel Ka.

The Mairan ambassador explains the issue and how they were there first. She understands his concerns. However, she also points out that he received a mining report a month before building his consulate and knew that the Vergills would likely mine the rich deposits there. He built his consulate right on top of it. She suggests they either move the consulate or tolerate the noise.

She won’t broker any argument, pointing out that they need to handle their squabbles themselves rather than waste time asking for intervention. To her surprise, her grandmother has watched the whole thing with approval. Tenel Ka may be rough, but her judgment was sound.
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chapter 16:

After several restless days, the students are summoned by Ambassador Yfra who has noticed their boredom and has taken the liberty of reprogramming one of the wavespeeders to take them on a tour of the ocean reef. She has arranged for food to be packed for them, as well. Young people need to enjoy themselves and leave the work for the experienced older ones.

Along the way, Jacen tells Tenel Ka that the furriest part of an Ewok is the outside. He just wanted to cheer her up. Tenel Ka assures him that she is no different than she was at the school and doesn’t want him assuming she needs cheering up.

They spend some time eating before noticing that the ocean waters look odd. They begin approaching a large area full of foul-smelling seaweed and large eye flowers staring at them. They decide to turn around, but the engine stops.

That’s when the eye flowers take the opportunity to grab Jacen. Lowie and Tenel Ka have to cut him loose. Jaina gets the engines started and guns them as Jacen and Lowie use their lightsabers and Tenel Ka her throwing knives to cut the tentacles holding them in place off.

They race out of the area. Lowie reports that the ship was programmed to take them directly into the sludge and not out.
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chapter 17:

The next day, they work on the wavespeeder as Jacen thanks Tenel Ka for helping him get cut loose. She says she would have gotten him out faster if she’d used a lightsaber. He reminds her she’s still very good at it. She thanks him for reminding her who she is.

Jaina and Lowie determine that the speeder was definitely sabotaged. The list of suspects is short. Though Ta’a Chume is capable of murder, Tenel Ka senses that her grandmother’s primary interest right now is protecting her. That’s not something she can do very well traveling between here and the palace. However, there are guards here, as well as Ambassador Yfra.

Jaina points out that the ambassador was the one who suggested the trip in the first place. Ta’a Chume arrives, frustrated that she had one of the bombers in custody and they still ended up dead by poison.

Tenel Ka suggests her grandmother let someone else investigate this. Ta’a Chume reminds her that she ruled for decades, but admits it’s probably a wise idea and will send Ambassador Yfra instead. Tenel Ka knows it’s likely that Yfra will sabotage the investigation instead but it will at least keep her far away from here.
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​chapter 18:

 

​Zekk has triumphed over multiple beasts, wishing he could see Vilas's reaction. Brakiss warns him that this next fight will be his most challenging, as it will be a fight to the death. He finds himself in a zero-g arena with obstacles everywhere. Brakiss, Tamith Kai and Qorl are at the other end. Brakiss announces that the leader of the dark Jedi trainees will be decided today in a duel between Zekk and Vilas.

 

The two rivals will use the lack of gravity to their advantage, hurling objects at each other while clashing sabers.

 

Tamith Kai thinks that Zekk has no chance at all. Qorl thinks this is a waste of resources. Their second-best candidate will die when he could be used for the glory of the Empire. Brakiss points out that it would be a waste for other candidates. They follow the lead of the two competitors out there, neither of whom would follow the other. If both are allowed to live, the loser would resent the winner.

 

Tamith Kai agrees that it is good then that one dies so that the other trainees will see the sacrifice demanded by the Second Imperium. Qorl doesn't say anything else. He knows to follow orders; but, he still thinks it's a waste.

 

Zekk knows he can't hide for long with this crowd. Vilas's lightsaber slashes through the meteoroid and nearly cuts Zekk in two. Zekk tries to fight off Vilas who uses the Force to jam a metal pipe against the small of his back. Losing his lightsaber in the zero-g environment, Zekk grabs the pipe and attempts to swing at Vilas, only to find himself spinning around.

 

Vilas cuts off a portion of the pipe before Zekk jams it into his ribs. Vilas throws the pipe aside and kicks Zekk away. When Zekk retrieves his lightsaber, he finds that Vilas is gone. He tries to the use the Force to find him, but realizes that Vilas is also using the Force to distract him.

 

Knowing that Vilas is out here somewhere, he ignites his blade, stops thinking and uses the Force to anticipate the attack. When it comes, Zekk strikes with such ferocity that he cuts into Vilas, killing him.

 

He's shocked at the violence, as well as at the fact that this was real. Tamith Kai grudgingly acknowledges him. The spectre of the Emperor congratulates him. Zekk is his Darkest Knight and will lead an assault on the Jedi Academy.

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chapter 19:


Tenel Ka wakes in the night, hearing the sounds of the sea. What she does not hear are the hums of the perimeter shields. She realizes they’ve been breached. The alarms are not sounding which means power has been cut off. Tenel Ka races down the hallway, banging on her friends’ doors. Bartokks are climbing up the fortress walls with ease.


They are insects with a hive mind. They will not stop until they kill their primary target or until they are all dead. Tenel Ka surmises that they have come for her grandmother. She wonders who might be behind this. Perhaps, Yfra hopes to seize control, not considering a teenage girl much of a threat.


They cut through the assassins as much as they can before finding their way into Ta’a Chume’s room where she has barricaded herself. The trouble is that the Bartokk hive mind extends to their body parts. Even severed, they continue to try to carry out the mission.

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  • Of course, Teneniel Djo is the queen, so whoever is going after Ta’a Chume will have to get rid of Tenel Ka’s mother, too.

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chapter 20:


They decide to climb down the outside of the fortress walls. Using cables, the group heads down the walls, Ta’a Chume holding onto her granddaughter. They make their way to wavespeeders, hoping to outrun the Bartokks.


The Bartokks give hot pursuit. As the wavespeeder fails to evade them, Ta’a Chume produces a small blaster with only two shots. One for an attacker, the other to prevent said attacker from taking a prisoner alive.


Jaina gets an idea to take the speeder into the seaweed pit. She hopes the Bartokks will be too single-minded to notice the danger. Ta’a Chume tries to hit their repulsorpods, but gets the seaweed creatures instead. They begin to swirl as the Bartokks approach. Her next shot does enough damage to slow the pursuers who then become victims of the creatures below.


Jaina speeds up through the pit out of danger before Ta’a Chume takes the controls.

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  • During the chapter, Jacen hopes Ambassador Yfra hasn’t sabotaged the wavespeeder. While it’s certainly possible Yfra is behind this, they really don’t know for sure. Are they now just assuming she’s guilty?

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chapter 21:
Tenel Ka wakes up on Yavin 4, sits up on her pallet and practices braiding her hair with her remaining arm and her teeth. Her parents had avoided their own would-be assassinations and had returned to Hapes. The conspirators were rounded up while Ambassador Yfra awaited trial.
They agreed that she should return to the academy, after a few weeks with them. Her skills are clearly there and her grandmother has noted her wits are still about her.
She pulls out the rancor tooth and the tiara her grandmother had insisted she take. She is the product of two worlds and doesn’t have to abandon one to accept the other. She crushes the tiara and begins using the gems to construct a new lightsaber.
When it’s finished, she has to convince Jacen to help her practice. He’s reluctant considering what happened last time, but she believes this is the best way to show she trusts him. They move together in tandem while the others watch. Then the four friends ignite their sabers together.
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​End of Book 4
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Heh, I've got fond memories of these books. I was still pretty young when they came out and the first series made for some nice light reading.

 

In the early days of the EU when they were afraid to do anything permanent to the characters, lopping off Tenel Ka's arm was a fairly big deal too. It would be years before they even got the guts to let Anderson kill off General Madine, most famous for having the worst hair-style in the saga, and that's saying something considering it began in the 70s. And that was supposed to be a big deal.

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