I remember nothing of my parents or my original home. I was later told that I had been discovered by a member of the Jedi Exploration Corps during a return trip from the Unknown Regions on the planet Kalarba, an undeveloped tourist world in the Mid Rim. The Knight who found me apparently sensed my presence at the spaceport he was refuelling at. I never found out who it was that delivered me to the temple and my new life.
I began my Initiate training as soon as I was old enough. I was in an Initiate clan alongside the young Obi-Wan Kenobi who we all know went on to be named as one of the greatest Jedi before the fall of the Republic. We studied in various subjects, such as knowledge of the Jedi Order, political science and galactic history which I excelled at.
I distinctly remember struggling with some aspects of the Force studies and self-control. While I could wield the Force as a tool as most Jedi are known to do, when it came to meditation and seeing through the Force, I could never trust the visions I was shown and could never believe that the Force guided my destiny. I could understand the need to be selfless and in balance, but my inability to fully trust in the Force was apparent.
I remember a during a mediation session with Master Yoda screaming out that the visions of me fighting with alongside then later against white armoured figures were nonsense and that the Force was lying. Master Yoda responded “The future you see, young Durant. Be careful you must. Guiding you the Force may be.” I still couldn’t believe such a thing could be possible. If these figures were apparent allies of the Jedi, why would I fight them? Of course, I know now what that vision was.
As for my self-control, I like to think it was acceptable. I never wanted to control or dominate people. My issue was letting go of things when there was no more I could do. While I could not trust the Force, I could trust people easily. I always tried to see the good in a being. This unfortunately made avoiding attachments very difficult. In our Initiate Clan, we were encouraged to treat one another as part of a family which meant I always went above and beyond to look after my clan mates.
I remember during my trials before becoming a Padawan, myself and my friend Juni Akian we tasked to apprehend a suspected murderer in the underbelly of Coruscant. We located our mark in short order but never realised how aggressive he was, I was able to defend myself easily, however, Juni, who showed great prowess in the being able to call on the Force to heal wounds, was unable to keep pace with the assailant’s attacks. She panicked and ended up cowering in a corner of the run-down apartment block we found ourselves in.
Due to giving into her fear, she was unable to keep to the Jedi mantra of being free of emotion. My combat intentions were altered from bringing the vagrant to justice to protecting Juni. This, unfortunately, allowed the vile being, a Devaronian, to escape and later go on to kill more innocents, including a delegate from Ansion. I argued that her healing abilities were vital to the Jedi Order and that asking her to leave the Order would be a mistake. I was scolded by the reassignment council and reminded that attachments are forbidden in the Jedi Order. I perhaps would have failed my trials had Master Caito not stepped in and requested to take me on as his Padawan.
I could not have asked for a better master than the Mirialan. Most people see that green-skinned near-human race as being extremely spiritual and unable to deviate from their religious path of self-improvement. Master Caito wasn’t like that, he followed the path of seeking to improve others before himself. Some would say his selflessness was his greatest weakness, yet still to this day, I believe that to be his greatest strength. He saw some of that quality in me, my ability to disconnect myself and put all my energy into the service of others.
Many of our missions together involved hunting down criminals, bringing relief to refugees and those people who needed it most and upholding the values of freedom and justice. These missions weren’t always easy for me.
I recall a mission to Sepan where we were tasked with bringing peace to the warring factions. My Master and I were part of the first of three Jedi peacekeeping teams ever sent to Sepan. In addition to conducting the fruitless peace talks, we tried to ease the suffering of the population.
On one occasion, we were desperately trying to save several young children after a bloody battle between the warring sides. The soldiers seemed to care little about collateral damage when it came to their artillery and munitions. Many innocent children died. I’ll never forget how I held a young Ripoblus girl as she bled out from shrapnel wounds, singing a native song of hope for peace.
There were successes, too. When my Master and I were assigned to monitor the Nebula Front terrorist group, who were disrupting various corporate organisations, including the Trade Federation, we provided the intelligence that allowed another Master-Padawan team to intercept the terrorists as they attacked a Trade Federation transport in the Dorvalla system. Throughout the many assignments, Master Caito instructed me to make sure I upheld the Republic’s values and kept to the Jedi Code, being mindful of the future and avoiding attachments to the people we met and helped.
We almost got assigned to deal with that trade dispute between Naboo and the Trade Federation, but Master Caito’s long time friend Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi were assigned to that. Unfortunately, that would be the last time my Master would see his colleague.
We were given the assignment of intervening in the Huk War in the Kalee system. My master was never happy about the ensuing stalemate and the unfair punishment of the Kaleesh people while their Yam’rii rivals received no repercussions for their actions. I still bear the scar on my right arm from a Kaleesh warrior’s attack following a failed peace summit, and it serves a reminder to me that no matter how hard one tries, you can’t please everyone in the galaxy. It was during this time that we received the news of events on Naboo and the death of Master Jinn at the hands of a supposed Sith Lord. Due to the relationship between Jinn and Master Caito, our assignment was ended early and we attended the funeral.
After the cremation of the fallen Master, I remember Obi-Wan telling me the events before rushing off to an important meeting with Yoda. He and his master had been escorting then Queen, Padmé Amidala from her occupied world to testify in the Galactic Senate on Coruscant.
They had picked up a young boy after a repair stop on Tatooine and it was just before they left the desert world they encountered a red-faced, tattooed Zabrak warrior armed with a red lightsaber. This same warrior would go on to slay Kenobi’s master before being defeated by the young Padawan.
I think Obi-Wan, despite his efforts to hide it, remained scarred by the loss of his master even into his days as a Jedi Master himself. Master Caito was concerned with where the Sith had come from. I, however, was more concerned with how the Order’s most powerful Jedi in the High Council including Master Yoda had not sensed the Sith’s presence.
I had always thought that the Dark Jedi were easily detected, considering how as younglings we were taught how easy it was for a Jedi to turn to the Dark Side. This bothered me greatly, but who was I to question the High Council as a young learner. I do believe this inability to detect the darkness was what would later cause the Jedi Order to be destroyed.
I know Master Yoda discussed the young boy, Anakin Skywalker, with Master Caito who would later share his revelations with me before we were due to depart Naboo. It sounded like this Skywalker was destined to bring balance to the Force, whatever that meant and that Obi-Wan as a newly appointed Jedi Knight would be taking Skywalker as his Padawan.
I had briefly glimpsed the young boy at the gathering around the funeral pyre. The Jedi Council would appear to have made an exception to the rule of Jedi training beginning shortly after birth. This child would already have formed deep attachments to his biological family. How could he possibly fully accept that the Jedi Order was his only family?
Master Caito told me “If this child is The Chosen One, then the Council must obey the will of the force and allow him to be trained, regardless of Jedi traditions. It is a Jedi’s duty to serve the Force and follow its guidance even if means bending the rules.”
I could not help but think that the Order was putting too much faith in a questionable prophecy at the expense of the integrity of the Jedi Order as a whole. If this boy wasn’t trained properly, the Jedi would suffer for it in the future. I asked my Master if I was ready to be knighted. He, however, had sensed my momentary doubt in the High Council and said that I would be ready for the trials when I learned to trust the Jedi Order like I trusted him.
That was a difficult lesson to swallow. I never really learned it either, rather I accepted that my duties as a Jedi required me to obey the Council even if I did not agree with them. This would be something I would battle with for the rest of my time as a Jedi, even as, unbeknownst to anyone, the twilight of the Republic had begun.