STAR WARS: JEDI APPRENTICE #1:
THE RISING FORCE

Obi-Wan could sense the Force flowing around him, within him. He could feel the living Force in Bruck, the dark ripples caused by Bruck's anger. His impulse was to match that anger with his own. He had to resist it.

Obi-Wan assumed a defensive stance as Bruck lunged. He let the Force guide him as it had done earlier. He blocked the next blow easily. Then he jumped high to avoid another blow and landed behind a pillar. Lightsabers smashed together, sputtered and burned, then whisked apart. The air felt thicker, clogged with the energy of battle.

For long minutes, the two students fought as if in a graceful dance. Obi-Wan leaped away from every attack and blocked every jarring blow. He did not try to hit Bruck.

Let him see that I'm not clumsy, Obi-Wan thought bitterly. Let him see that I'm not stupid. Let him see it over and over again.

Sweat began to drench Obi-Wan's clothes. His muscles burned. He could hardly breathe fast enough to get the air he needed. But as long as he did not attack in anger, the Force remained strong with him. He tried not to think about the fight. He lost himself in the dance, and soon he felt so weary, he did not think at all.

Bruck fought slower and slower. Soon, Obi-Wan did not even need to leap away from Bruck's weary attacks. He merely blocked them, until finally Bruck gave up.

"Good, Obi-Wan," Yoda called. "Learning you are."

Obi-Wan switched off his lightsaber and hung it on his belt. He used the blindfold to wipe the sweat from his face. Next to him, Bruck was double over, panting. He did not look at Obi-Wan.

"You see," Yoda said. "To defeat an enemy, you do not have to kill. Defeat the rage that burns in him, and he is your enemy no longer. Rage the true enemy is."

Obi-Wan understood what Yoda meant. But Bruck's glazed glare told Obi-Wan that he had not defeated his opponent's anger. Nor had he won the boy's respect.

The two boys turned to Yoda and bowed solemnly. A vision of his friend Bant rose in Obi-Wan's head. One of the best things about beating Bruck would be telling her about it.

"Enough for one day," Yoda said. "Tomorrow, a Jedi Knight comes to the Temple seeking a Padawan. Ready for him you must be."

Obi-Wan tried to hide his surprise. Usually, when a Knight came to the Temple in search of a Padawan, rumors beat the arrival by days. That way, if a student wanted to earn the honor of becoming the Knight's Padawan, he or she could prepare mentally and physcially.

"Who?" Obi- Wan asked, heart racing. "Who's coming?"

"Seen him before, you have," Yoda said. "Master Qui-Gon Jinn."