First published in I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SMELL #1, 1995

The Art of Jedi

by MJ Mink

Luke Skywalker strode down the long empty corridor, the heels of his boots making satisfying clicking sounds on the marble. The corridor was long and empty. As empty as his life. At the end of the long empty corridor was a door, an open door, and outside that open door were his friends, Yavin, and the entire galaxy, all depending on him to save them from the whirlpool of financial disaster. It was a momentous day, the day after the day that had seen the end of the long and bloody Rebellion, the day after the day his father had died.

Luke paused in front of the full-length mirror that had been thoughtfully placed in the center of the long empty corridor. He stared at his image. It was black, like his dead father's. He tossed the black hood back over his shoulders. His hair was storm-tossed and blond again, its tousled strands cut in the latest style which his stylist said was called a 'faucet'. Luke ran his slim fingers through his tossed and tousled locks and smiled with satisfaction as they made satisfying clicking sounds. Then he tossed one wing of his black cape over his shoulder, then he tossed the other wing of his black cape over his other shoulder, conscious of the significance of his actions. He stood arms akimbo, hands on his waist. The cape was black velvet like his dead father's, soft to the touch of anyone who dared to touch it, lined with black silk that clung to his body like thousands of inquisitive digits, all questing for one goal--his body. Or was it his fragile soul?

Luke studied his body. It was clothed beautifully, all in black like his dead father's. The tunic's high collar framed his face, making him pale and ethereal and waif-like in his beauty. Then the tunic smoothed blackly over his leanly muscled chest and tapered to hug his slim waist like thousands of inquisitive digits. The lean black trousers were tight, very tight, and he realized that he would have to instruct his new female dresser on the realities of being manly. However, they looked good and made a satisfying clicking sound when he walked. His boots were high and black like his dead father's, fashioned of a strange new leather that seemed slippery and shiny. He wondered where his dresser had gotten them. The single clue to their origin existed on the bottom of one sole--a stamp that indicated they had been produced by the Gijoe factory, a manufacturer unfamiliar to him. However, they looked good and made satisfying clicking sounds when he walked.


Luke sighed and looked around for the source of that single word-like sound. It was another Dead Jedi reminding him to get on with the story. He brooded for a moment to get into character and then stared at himself in the mirror. His father was dead. Dead, dead... dead. Now he was alone in the galaxy with his friends, without a father because his father was dead. He hadn't been able to save his dead dark father, Darth Vader, the heavy-breathing personification of all that was evil and nasty in the galaxy, whose heart had turned out not to be as black as his glorious gabardine satin-lined cloak that had draped over his huge body like an obsidian mountain. And now young Luke Skywalker was alone, with only his friends. But he wouldn't be the Lone Jedi for long--no, even as he thought, plans were being put into motion to find his Jedi students. Soon he would be the spiritual Jedi leader of thousands, if not billions, of humble Jedi aspirants, and he would found Jedi Academy and devote his life to training them, even if it meant he would never have sex.

Luke frowned. This story was not one of his particular favorites. He caught a glimpse of himself in the full-length mirror and immediately smoothed the frown away. Aunt Beru always told him that his face would freeze that way and he didn't want to risk-- Suddenly he had a Force-induced hindsight thought: was that how Palpatine had come to have the corrupt, gnarled visage he had possessed before he died? Would he, Luke Skywalker, someday become like Palpatine if he frowned too often?

Luke raised his hand, his right hand, his bionic prosthetic hand. He stared at it. He turned it palm up and flexed the black fingers, fingers that were as black as his dead father's. The hand still worked. And well it should! For it was the best, it was an austinhand, and apparently it had been very expensive. The Alliance was still making payments on it. But it was the best because he was a Jedi and he deserved it. He dropped his hand. Then, using the Force as his ally, he bent over and picked it up, pushing it onto his wrist until it gave a satisfying clicking sound.


Luke sighed and looked around. It was another Dead Jedi reminding him to get on with the story. Perhaps it was even his father, his black dead father. Would he, Luke Skywalker, someday become like his father, all black and dead? The thought made him shiver with antici---

Luke took another long, satisfying look in the full-length mirror. He patted his lightsaber for reassurance--yes, it was still there. He turned to walk toward the open door at the end of the long empty corridor, aware of the symbolic connection with his empty life and the doors that were open to him. Something twisted under his pants and caused him great discomfort. Great Sith! What had his dresser put on him this morning? Using the Force as his ally, he closed his eyes and mentally traveled down his tunic and into his pants. What he found left him gasping in dismay as he quickly pulled out. Great Sith! He would have to chastise his dresser severely when he returned to her tonight. This was not the undergarb of a Jedi Knight! At least, not any Jedi Knights he'd ever known! Once again, he wished his dead father were here and not dead so he could talk to him about these Jedi mysteries.



"All right!" he replied irritably. Then he realized that he was feeling irritation and therefore using the Dark Side of the Force, so he consciously calmed himself, sending thoughts of peace, tranquillity, and deep-fried double beef cheeseburgers into his mind. His stomach rumbled.

But he was a Jedi and therefore immune to and above all these insignificant personal desires, so he whirled--more cautiously this time--and began his long walk down the long empty corridor that was so like his life, because it was time to save the galaxy from the whirlpool of financial disaster, his Gijoe bootheels making satisfying clicking sounds with each step.

Luke stepped onto the balustrade and felt the warmth of the sun hit his face. He staggered from the blow, then pulled up his hood to protect his pale, ethereal, waif-like visage from the damaging rays. He strode across the marble, clicking, and stopped atop the wide empty staircase. Something about the staircase reminded him of his life.

His friends were gathered at the bottom of it, waiting for him. They were his usual friends; he wouldn't bother to describe them. They existed merely to reflect him, harass him, torment him, understand /misunderstand him, suffer/induce unrequited love, or to hand him things he needed. His Force-induced crystal clear blue eyes scanned the entire area, seeing each person as clearly as if they were really there. The camera crews, the HoloNet operators, the adoring fans who had somehow learned the shooting date and location--yes, they were all there.

Luke found his mark, toed it, and nodded without speaking. His head made a satisfying clicking sound as it bobbed at the end of his neck. "Let's roll," he spoke without nodding. He was ready. He'd been through his Jedi Preparedness Exercises earlier that morning, and they generally lasted for an entire day unless he had an unusually drastic confrontation with the Dark Side. The token cameracreature waved to him, counting down on his twenty digits.

"All right, crew, he's here, and we're going live," Leia snapped in her usual regal, princess-like tone. "And it's-a five-four-three-two-one--" She pointed her leanly muscled finger at him.

Luke smiled into the camera, a gentle smile so his face wouldn't crinkle too much and so only the very tips of his perfectly white pearl-like teeth showed. He tossed back the black dead hood of his cape and tossed his tousled hair. "Hello. You know me--I'm Luke Skywalker, hero of the Star Wars and Jedi Master, and I'm here to talk to you today about your future."

Luke stepped slowly and with Force-induced gracefulness down a few of the wide steps on the wide empty staircase that reminded him of his life. "Are you feeling lost? Is your father---cold, black-hearted monster that he was--dead? Is your life long, wide, and empty? Are you alone in the galaxy? Feeling powerless? Without influence or important friends? Do you need money? Well, I'm here today to tell you how to change all that! I can help you--as I have helped myself! You may know me just as a hero and a Jedi Master, but did you also know that I am the Lone Jedi? Yes, it's true. Jedi Knights, who once roamed the galaxy doing heroic deeds and keeping the peace with their lightsabers, are all but extinct. I am the last of their brave kind."

Luke bowed his head and sighed heavily with regret. Then he looked up and straight into the camera. He glided gracefully down a few more of the wide empty steps. "But I don't have to be alone. You can be with me. Yes, you!" He pointed his slimmest finger at the camera. "You

too can be a Jedi Knight with only a little training! And all you need is this!" Using the Force as his ally, he swirled his cape and produced a small metal box nestled in the protected cover of his bionic hand. "With this small metal box, you too can amaze your friends with tricks and conquer entire planets! Better than a vidgame, this is real life! And you can do it all with my help and the help of--" With a twist of his bionic hand, the box popped opened and a dozen holotapes came out, fanning themselves in mid-air like a deck of cards. "--these tapes, Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course! Just listen to my tapes for twenty minutes a day and before you know it, you too will be doing this!"

Luke, using the Force as his ally, leaped into the air, did five triple somersaults, drew his lightsaber and slashed through three potted plants on the side of the wide staircase, turned off his lightsaber, rehooked it on his belt, and landed on his feet in front of the camera at the bottom of the wide empty staircase. "And that was nothing compared to the other feats you'll accomplish once you've completed Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course. Soon you'll be reading minds, changing the weather, controlling weak-willed individuals, levitating yourself and others, as well as--" He held out his expensive hand and Leia came hurling into his arms. "--telekinetting formerly unwilling objects into your grasp. Yes, all sorts of tricks can be learned through the Force." He winked into the camera. "Thank you, dear." He sent Leia back the same way.

"Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course comes packaged in this convenient decorative tin, with an embossed holo of me, Luke Skywalker Jedi Master, on the top, for permanent storage. I, Luke Skywalker, will be your teacher and guide as we walk through the complex maze of Jedi skills. I, Luke Skywalker, will show you how to avoid the treacherously black dead Dark Side of the Force, and how to use your skills for good and profit. You life will be changed forever. And," he lowered his voice, staring meaningfully into the camera, "when I say forever, I mean forever. Jedi do not die; they just become Dead Jedi. If you had already completed Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Stud, er...Study Course, you could see them even now as they stand behind me--three Dead Jedi. Obi-Wan Kenobi, legendary hero of the Clone Wars. Yoda the Greenback, legendary master who lived for nine hundred years--yes, you too can live for nine hundred years!--and my black-hearted though well-dressed dead father, legendary Great Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader."

Luke straightened and smiled reassuringly. "Their secrets are contained on these tapes, as well as my own. Yes, the ancient secrets of the Order of the Jedi Knights can be yours in six to eight short weeks merely by transferring to me, care of the Rebel Alliance, a mere one hundred credits per month for the next three standard years. And for you patriots out there, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these tapes goes to pay off the Rebel Debt! So remember, long before your payments are complete, you'll be a Jedi and you'll be saving the galaxy's financial coffers for the benefit of your children and grandchildren. And there's more!"

Luke swirled, wincing as the undergarb pinched his Jedi accoutrements, but he smiled bravely and gestured one black-winged arm behind him. "When you complete your Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course, you will be eligible to apply for the Luke Skywalker Jedi Academy which is right here behind me here on Yavin. At the Academy, you will be personally instructed by me, Luke Skywalker, Jedi Master and hero of the Star Wars, in the more arcane and secret uses of the Force." He lowered his voice and looked sideways into the camera. "There are...things....I can't discuss on the HoloNet. Things that must be private."

Luke faced the camera again, knowing that his beautiful and black reflection, so like his dead father's, was being transmitted galaxywide. "So call the number on your holo now. Our HoloNet operators are standing by, waiting to take your order. And, if the thought of being your own Master and the first Jedi in your neighborhood isn't enough to induce you to call, there's still more! The first five billion lucky callers who order Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course today, will receive--" Using the Force as his ally, he swirled his cape and produced a small doll. "--this Luke Skywalker Jedi Master Action Figure! Yes, no longer will you have to be satisfied with the virtual reality of your holotapes. No longer will you have to play the tapes over and over just to see me--now you can have your own Luke Skywalker Jedi Master Action Figure to touch and play with whenever the Force-urge overwhelms you! Master Luke comes wearing this same black Action Costume that I am wearing today and that my dead black father used to wear." One slim finger slid subtly into the back of the doll's pants. Good. His dresser hadn't gotten hold of this shipment. "And for an additional ten credits, you can order Luke's Action Accessory Kit which contains a black cloak, lightsaber, and black boots like mine which are manufactured especially for us at the famous Gijoe's factory."

Luke winked into the camera. "And, hey, you Imperials and Imperial sympathizers out there! Feeling left out? Well, there's no need to be. My dead father, the black dead Lord Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was a Jedi too! Yes, it's a little known fact, but it's true. Imperials can be Jedi! Do you need further proof? Well, don't spread this around--" He leaned into the camera again and whispered. "--but the Emperor was a Force Sensitive! I know. I was there. But he was not a Jedi--he'd never taken my course, which was why he could be killed by a Jedi. So, all you Force Sensitives out there, don't just stand around waiting for a Jedi to kill you! Call now to order your copy of Luke Skywalker's The Art of Jedi Home Study Course, and receive an opportunity to study in person at the Luke Skywalker Jedi Academy, and, as a special bonus, receive your Luke Skywalker Jedi Master Action Figure as my personal gift to you!" He gave the audience his best smile, and it was a charming, winning, youthful smile as befitted him, the Lone Jedi. "Then, before you can say Jabba the Hutt is Sarlacc Fodder, I will be in your home. And you will have taken your first step on the path to becoming a Jedi."

Luke took one step back, his black boot heel making a satisfying clicking sound on the marble. He raised his austinhand in a Vulcan gesture. "May the Force be with you," he said solemnly. "And, remember, our HoloNet operators are waiting to take your calls now. Use any major creditscard or transfer credits directly. We accept the monetary units of any civilization. Call us today--and I'll be in your home soon!"

Luke's two shoulders slumped as the cameras shut down. But the buzzing of the busy HoloNet lines was a symphony to his two tired ears. It was hard being the Lone Jedi. There was so much pressure, so much responsibility--some days it seemed as if he had to do everything himself! If only his dead father were alive and could help him! But that was impossible, it was never to be. Deep inside himself, he saw with Force-induced insight that he would never recover from the death of his dead father. He was symbolically trapped in a long empty corridor, a symbol of his life, from which there would be no escape--for at the end of the long empty corridor there waited only a wide empty staircase. All he could do was wear black the way his dead father had and honor him in that way. It gave him a long wide empty feeling, though, knowing that his friends neither understood nor sympathized with his plight, and he was, therefore, all alone in the galaxy with them.

"This isn't worth two-tenths of one percent," Leia muttered. She pushed at him with her leanly-muscled arms as she headed for the wide empty staircase. "Will somebody get this walking oil slick out of my way?"

Plus, they never gave him any respect.