What Does The Colour Matter?
Some Jedi are warriors and generals, others once ruled the Old Republic. Some are historians and scholars. Some are budding artists. Some are young padawans with questions…
The painter’s eyes were closed. The paint brush was suspended in mid-air. Calling upon all her powers of concentration, the young Jedi apprentice focused the Force on the vision held in her mind. The dark folds of the cloak. The twirling blades of energy. The great mass of the planet below the duel. She could see it as clearly now as if she were stood there.
Shutting out the sounds of the verdant Yavin jungles beyond the thick stone walls of the Jedi Praxeum, Sie Capri bid the brush to move forwards; and carefully, patiently, and with growing confidence, her masterpiece took form.
“Why is it red?”
She opened her eyes and the brush clattered to the floor. “Reeton! Must you interrupt at the critical moment? Can’t you see I’m busy?” Sie snapped
“Master Horn says a Jedi should be able to be aware of everything within their sphere of perception without losing focus on the Force,” the young Rodian padawan replied, in perfect recitation.
“Well, when Master Horn can learn to hold a paint-brush with nothing but the Force I’ll bear that in mind,” Capri muttered under her breath.
“But why is it red? Surely it’s the wrong colour?” Reeton Farik had made a reputation for himself since he arrived at the Jedi Praxeum for somewhat incessant questioning. The older masters forbore it without apparent strain, but Sie Capri knew that patience was not her most abundant gift. In fact, she had not even sensed the child approaching her canvass, a wall of one of the myriad corridors in the once-abandoned Massassi Temple. She was sat in a traditional Jedi meditation pose outside what had once been a medical bay, back when the Rebel Alliance had used the temple as their base.
Before she could answer she heard footsteps echoing down the corridor, followed by the slight figure of Master Tionne, the Jedi scholar and historian. “Reeton, there you are. Come here. The break is over. You have classes to attend.”
The boy didn’t complain: he enjoyed Master Tionne’s lessons about the history of the Jedi Order a great deal. He’d just forgotten the time and wondered off, as he so often seemed to do. “I’m sorry Mistress Tionne. I just wanted to see what the older padawans were doing.” He surveyed the painting. “It’s very good Sie. I’m sorry I disturbed you.”
Sie stood up and shook her head. “Don’t worry Reeton. I know you didn’t mean to.” She placed a reassuring hand on the boy’s shoulder and then turned to regard her work. She was pleased to see it looked almost exactly as she had perceived it to be with only the Force to guide her work. Though Master Skywalker’s eyes were a little narrow. And she still wasn’t sure about the style.
“I think it’s a very good likeness,” the boy said. “It looks just like Master Skywalker. But why is his lightsaber red?”
Tionne answered: “This painting is of the duel between the reborn Emperor Palpatine and Master Luke. It took place before you were born Reeton, twelve years ago now.”
“The Emperor? Why is his blade blue? Did you use the wrong paints?” he said with an earnest frown. He added in conciliation: “I don’t think I could paint very well with my eyes closed.”
“No,” Sie said, perhaps a little too sharply, “I didn’t use the wrong paints.”
“Oh. Well, it doesn’t matter. It still looks very good,” the boy added. “It’s just a little… curious.”
“If you must know now,” Tionne began, “The Emperor wielded a blue lightsaber blade at that time, thought to be taken from a Jedi killed during the Great Purge. While Master Luke wielded a red blade, given to him by the Emperor.”
“How strange,” Reeton said, growing intrigued.
“Yes,” Tionne said, her fascinating with history allowing her to be drawn away from the immediate business of returning the youngling to his class. “It is, I believe, the only such battle where a Jedi wielded a red lightsaber, while a Sith wielded a blue one. Though of course, despite the Holodramas, it is quite common for Jedi to use red blades, or Sith to use other colours besides red.”
“Is that so?” Reeton said, encouraging her.
“Oh yes,” Tionne said. “Let me see. There was Adi Gallia, the Corellian Jedi. Sharad Hett. Mistress Leia, of course. They all built and used red lightsabers, according to what records we have, or else were given them.”
“But I thought the old Jedi always used green or blue blades, and the Sith always red?”
Jedi history was not Sie’s favourite subject, that being art or music, but she recalled at once that both Exar Kun and Darth Vader had initially used blue lightsabers. “Very good Sie!” said Tionne, impressed.
“So perhaps the three most famous Sith of all time,” Reeton said thoughtfully, “All used blue lightsaber crystals. Interesting. Very interesting. I’m sorry I doubted you Sie. I think it’s an excellent painting.” He paused. “When did they stop using them I wonder?”
“Right, back this way now, Reeton,” Mistress Tionne said, indulgently rolling her eyes. “We have much to do. Let us leave Sie to her painting.” She bowed her head slightly as she left, the outline of a smile forming as she marched her young charge away.
Sie turned back to her painting and considered the Emperor’s twisted visage. She shuddered at the thought he had ever really existed.
Sie had finished her classes and eaten a quick dinner in the students’ canteen, her mind elsewhere as the initiates of her class debated a point of philosophy fresh in their minds following a seminar on the Jedi Code and its iterations over the years. She said good night and handed her plate to the creaky old service droid that patrolled the room, cleaning after and occasionally chastising the young Jedi.
“Thank you Mistress Capri,” the ancient droid intoned haltingly.
The sun had set, eclipsed by the Yavin gas giant, and she watched the pinprick lights of distant stars coming into focus, before turning back and making her way to the inner sanctum of the Praxeum. The Jedi Library was lit only by a few dim glow-lamps and the dimmed glare of terminals, while on the upper level the familiar soft blue of the restored data banks gave off a calming aura. They had been pulled from the wreckage of Coruscant’s Imperial City when the New Republic reclaimed the world, the tower-block sized reclamation droids applying their immense strength to dust away tonnes of debris and extract the precious storage banks and their priceless records. They had only recently been restored to full working order, the painstaking work of rebuilding the fractured data tapes had been the work of a decade. And still so much was unknown.
When did they stop using them… Reeton’s question had played in her mind all afternoon. She didn’t know quite where to start: she seldom frequented the historical records. Sie made her way up the stairs and began a search from scratch, not knowing quite what she was looking for. But she had all evening, and nowhere else she wanted to be.
Her home planet had only 5,000 inhabitants across the entire colony; so some hours of solitude, alone with her thoughts, her art, or even these records – though it wasn’t her favourite subject, didn’t bother her. She began with the oldest data and moved forwards, her eye briefly registering the headings of lost data entries: the construction of the Force Harvester, the Altisian Jedi heresy, the life of Master Tyvokka… all known only as names on a fragmented data tape, their meaning lost in the utter destruction of the Emperor’s purges, a history all but annihilated.
She stopped and looked across the room, her eyes falling on the bust of Jocasta Nu, the Jedi archivist. A single holo-image of the long-dead woman had survived the age of the Empire. From that Sie had moulded the dry-clay sculpture, as Madam Jocasta has looked in her middle age. Jocasta was now known to have lived many decades longer, until the Dark Times began. But they could only imagine what she had looked like at the end of her life.
Sie turned away and took-in the rest of the room. She spent many hours in the library towards the end of each term, and perhaps fewer than she ought at other times of the year. But tonight she didn’t want to be anywhere else, not until she’d found the answer to Reeton’s blasted question. She turned over a datapad and start pulling the next sequence of data, briefly looking up to stretch her neck…
It was only then that she realised she was not alone at all. From beneath the shadows, and under the cowl of her cloak, emerged the almost spectral figure of Vima-Da-Boda. She was truly ancient, far older than Madam Jocasta had ever lived to be. Sie did not know how old exactly, but more than one century certainly, and Sie couldn’t help but recoil slightly at the double-centenarian’s approach. The woman’s eyes were wide open, and fixed on Sie. “What brings you here, young Jedi?”
Sie smiled weakly. “A question,” she replied. “It’s silly, really. But Reeton, you know the young Rodian padawan?”
“Many little Jedi now,” she said, placing a hand on her heart and sighing with relief. “So many precious Jedi.”
“Yes… well, he asked me and Master Tionne about lightsabers, about why the Jedi seemed to stop using red blades. I mean, it doesn’t matter really, I suppose. But I couldn’t help but wonder. I’m doing this painting, and…”
“I remember,” she wheezed suddenly, “the late days of the Republic. In those years, so many decades – do you know how long I remember? – there were many who wielded red blades. But seldom ever were they drawn in battle… that was an age of peace. The last such age…” she said wistfully. “Before the return of the Sith.”
Sie nodded, more than a little nervous as the sinister old crone advanced on her, shuffling under her feet – but somehow moving without any sound. But Vima reached Sie, placed a withered hand on her arm, and bade her sit, before she too sat alongside. “Hear me now little Jedi. Before the menace emerged on Naboo, the Sith were believed extinct: their order thought destroyed for more than a thousand years, at the cataclysm” – she almost spat the word – “at Ruusan. But, as were too learn only too late, their order survived.”
Sie found herself craning her neck to hear the old woman’s words, and she hung on every one, trying to understand as the haunted old woman told the story of her life, it only touching in part on the question Sie had asked, as she found so often with older beings.
“With the seeming defeat of the Sith, the Jedi Order rejoiced. All of the Force was reclaimed for the Light. There was no reason not to use a red blade in those days… for there were no others to wield lightsabers. The lightsaber itself became the emblem of the Jedi, it’s colour mattered not. But then… Maul came, and Sidious, Tyrannus, Vader… with their revenge,” the old woman strained, her pain raw even now, decades later, “the Jedi retreated and cowered, they cut themselves off from the fullness of the Force. In those days of fear, the red became an emblem of evil.” She shook her head. “Foolish. The blade is a blade. How it is used, the virtue of its wielder… there alone is good or evil. Not in its colour alone. The red crystals were discarded, the memory of what they had once meant – and meant again – too painful for the Jedi to bear.” She coughed, the solitary old woman’s throat scratching with the strain of speaking for so long. “As the Sith emerged from the shadows, only the crystals of the caves of Ilum were used by the Jedi of old. Blue and green, for the most part. It was an empty, and meaningless, show of unity against a darkness they could barely comprehend.”
Sie nodded. “And now the Sith are no more… we once again wield blades of many colours… because we do not need fear the Sith any longer?”
Da-Boda lurched forwards. “You know not what lies in the shadow! Beware little Jedi. Always beware.” She paused. “But do not give into fear. Fear leads to anger… anger, to hate. Hate,” at this, she placed her hands on the sides of her frail face, “to suffering…” she trailed off, and Sie looked around, to check they were still alone, their words still in confidence struggling more than ever to understand. Vima seemed to speak to herself, as much as to Sie. “Suffering… No. The colour is only the product of a crystal. It itself means nothing. The blue blade strikes down a Jedi as easily as red. A red blade protects the innocent as easily as green…”
“Thank you, Madam Da-Boda…” Sie said at last, after a long silence. “I think I understand.”
The old woman’s intense gaze turned to Sie alone, penetrating her mind – not through the arcane powers of the Force, but through the immense power of Da-Boda’s age and knowledge. “Yes,” she purred. “I think you do as well.”
Another full planetary month passed on Yavin IV, and by nightfall the Jedi children gathered around a telescope placed on the roof of the Massassi temple, where from once the dark master of this moon could have watched his legions of slaves, toiling away in endless servitude… Now there was only the jungle, and the deep orange planet above, serene and untroubled by the affairs of the Jedi on its consort moon.
Sie spent the rest of the evening completing her painting, and Master Skywalker himself had sent a note congratulating her on it. This made Sie the envy of her class; hardly a Jedi-sentiment, they knew, but one that the teenage apprentices could hardly contain, for they all sought so much the blessing of the master who had founded the Praxeum, who had discovered them, and nurtured them, trained them and opened their minds to the brilliance of the Force.
Sie went to bed happy that night, in her bunk in rooms above the old Rebel hangar.
She walked along the academy grounds the next morning, observing from afar as three separate cohorts began their fencing drills. The youngest wielded soft-stem canes plucked from the jungle, the middle-group of her own cohort drilled with low-powered vibro-blades, while the eldest, those on the cusp of knighthood, practiced in incredible twirling motions the full mastery of a real lightsaber. Young Reeton waved as he saw Sie pass, and she smiled back to the boy, and watched briefly as he took up his stick and sparred with the instructor, a classmate of Sie’s who tutored the younger padawans.
Then her gaze drifted over to the training arena of the last group. Cerulean blades clashed against bronze, amaranth against silver, emerald green against yellow. These young soon-to-be knights executed their routines with precision, sparring at full speed and power, but never striking flesh. It was exactly as the ancient Vima-Da-Boda had said, what did the colour matter? Each of these blades would one day soon be lifted in defence of the innocent, by knights committed to the Light Side of the Force and pledged to the Jedi Code. It was then that Sie realised she herself was watched. Da-Boda came out of the shadow of the temple and beckoned the teenage Jedi to her. Sie smiled and complied, familiar now with the woman’s strange ways, bowing her head in deference to the venerable master.
From within the fold of her cloak Da-Boda produced a single wooden box, and without words she passed it to Sie. Intrigued, the apprentice took it, and held its contents up in shock. “Master… I cannot possibly accept this…”
“For when the time comes, and you build your blade. Be not afraid, little Jedi. It is just a colour.”
Sie turned the brilliant ruby red crystal over, holding it up into the light of the Yavin sun, its rays pouring through the gem and dazzling her with red. She lowered it down again with reverence and studied it, touching it, feelings its sharp edges and weight.
“This was the crystal of a great Jedi, Master Gallia herself, before she removed it. I found it in the ruins of the Jedi Temple. Now it is yours.” She craned her neck to look past Sie. “Here comes young Reeton. I expect he will be most intrigued…”
And with that Vima-Da-Boda left, and Sie was left with the crystal, the boy, and his questions.
Will Sie Capri use her ruby-red lightsaber in battle? Her story will continue in time. For now, subscribe to the full newsletter if you haven’t already for exclusive content, including how-to guides and faction breakdowns for the Age of Legends mod, now with 33,000 players, and a free short story like this every month.