Time Period: Obi-Wan is around 21. Takes place before TPM.
Summary: Qui-Gon is injured and lost in a city with no memory and Obi-Wan must find him before he looses him for good.
Disclaimer: All of the Star Wars Universe belongs to George Lucas. I make no money off of any of this! And I promise to return them all unharmed!
Notes: Everything in // is the Jedi talking through their bond.
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He didn’t know where he was running to, he only knew he couldn’t stop. The branches of the trees in the forest around him tore at his cloak and clawed at his already painful injuries. Bits and pieces of glass embedded in his upper arms and back throbbed dully as he shoved another branch from his hasty path. His cheek was on fire from a nasty gash caused by a flying shard of debris and his ears rang from the concussion of the blast he had just escaped. The fear spiking in his heart cut him off from the flow of the force and as he turned to glimpse his pursuers he tripped over an exposed root of one of the large trees surrounding him.
With a gasp Obi-Wan Kenobi fell to the forest floor, winded and bruised, his heart aching as memory brought fresh tears to his eyes. He spared a few precious seconds to regain his bearing before heaving himself to his feet and resuming his escape. The sounds of crashing pursuit behind him spurred him on. To his left he spotted a dark ragged lightless opening - a cave. Without a second thought he sought the darkness pressing back into the dank cool depths as he saw the shadow of one of his pursuers pass cautiously by.
"Well he's, somewhere. Jedi or not, they don't just disappear."
"Fan out we'll find him."
"What happened to the other one?"
"I think he's dead. Bralin reported seeing him blown out the plate glass window on the north side. No one could have survived an explosion like that."
The young Jedi listened to the fading conversation with growing horror. He bit his lip and closed his eyes willing the ache and pain to go away; trying to calm his breathing and racing heart. It couldn’t be true, it just couldn’t be. Yet why couldn’t he find his Master through their connection in the force? Wouldn’t he know if Qui-Gon were dead? He listened until the search party had passed by. Pressing his hands to his eyes he rested his head against the wall behind him as images of the past few hours replayed themselves unmercifully over and over.
** * * * * * * * * *
They had arrived on Trellos just yesterday, a planet that was ruled by a board of Regents. There were twelve Regents in all, six for each hemisphere of the mainland of the planet. Each Regent controlled a sector of the lush agricultural world. Or at least it had been at one time. Years ago, several of the Regents had banded together in the southern hemisphere of the mainland and decided to secede from the northern. The separation was not looked upon favorably by the public or the northern Regents, and unrest had developed in the controlled cities of the south. The Regents of the south had resorted to oppression to control their sectors. War among the Regents had broken out and the population had been subjected to slave labor and conscription as the warring factions produced armies. Agriculture had been abandoned as the production of weapons and weaponry had taken prominence. After years of war, planetary resources had been expended but the lack of supply had not curbed the warring, new avenues had been sought to cover the demand. However as power had been passed from one Regent to the next the desire to war had waned considerably, the history of the war having been lost in the years and memories of those who had gone on.
The current ruling Regents had finally met and agreed to peace. Agriculture had once again begun and the broken people and ruined land were just beginning to mend when the terrorist attacks had started. Each side swore it was not their doing and was convinced it was the other. The first incident had been an airbus filled with southern children, sabotage had caused it to crash into a busy parkway; twenty-three people had been injured that time. After that the attacks had escalated. Prominent people went missing only to be found later murdered with threats forged in the handwriting of Regents from the opposite hemisphere pinned to their dead bodies. A conjoined library had been blown up and a northern Regent had been killed. Everyday there were more bomb threats and some of them had actually turned out to be more than just threats. So they had requested Jedi intervention to get to the bottom of the militant forces that were ruining the fragile peace that had just started to take root.
That was how Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi had come to find themselves overseeing the uneasy talks in the southern capital earlier this morning. The Regents of both sides had been civil and readily willing to work together to find the ones responsible for the acts of violence. They had just agreed to break for a few minutes when the latest bomb threat was brought to the attention of the men in the room.
Delvak, a northern Regent who was among the youngest of the rulers and had been the first to suggest Jedi intervention, intercepted the note from the breathless wide-eyed messenger. Without a word the dark haired young man passed the communication to Obi-Wan, his white-blue eyes boring into the sea-green ones fixed on his own. The ruling Regent of the second sector in the northern hemisphere was not much older than the young Jedi and they had taken to each other rather quickly. Glancing at the hastily scrawled lettering on the note, he handed it over to Qui-Gon.
There is a bomb in the building.
"We have to get these people out of here Master." Obi-Wan leaned in close to his Master glancing at the men around the large table. The conversation had stopped as all attention focused on the Jedi Ambassadors. Qui-Gon nodded discreetly at his Padawan.
"It could just be another threat, but we cannot take that chance." Qui-Gon looked worriedly at the young man seated beside him, evaluating his next words. A slight dread crept into the back of his mind, a warning sensation. "Padawan, I want you to take the Northern Regents and get them out. I will escort the Southern Regents. Get them out of the building as quickly as possible. It is important we get them to safety. Meet me back in the foyer as soon as you have done this, so we can help evacuate the others. Go now."
The young man hesitated for a fraction of a second, it somehow seemed wrong to him to split up. But in the next instant he was obediently on his feet asking Delvak and the other northern Regents to please follow him. He informed them of the seriousness of the situation even as he heard Qui-Gon speaking with the others and moving them out the opposite door.
When Obi-Wan had secured the Regents well away from the capital building he had run back inside to help Qui-Gon with the other occupants. An all building alert had been broadcast on the intercom and the streams of people filing out of the building had restricted the Padawan's movement. He saw Qui-Gon at the opposite end of the lobby directing people out, aiding them when they tripped or moved too slowly. And then suddenly time slowed and everything moved in a warped sluggish manner as if the very universe had stopped rotating, waiting, holding its breath through the next few seconds. Qui-Gon whipped around, his hair flying in a graceful slow arc behind him as he turned to face his Padawan, his eyes wide, his mouth moving shouting words that the young man could not hear. The feelings of urgency and danger flooding their bond rooted his feet in place as he saw the front of the building expand and push outward as if forced by an invisible hand. Shards and splinters flew in every direction, followed by fire, which pulsed through the structure in ever increasing waves. The force of the blast pushed the Jedi Master through the ornamental plate glass window behind him, slamming him into the building across the way. Horrified Obi-Wan stepped in his direction but was blocked by the firewall sweeping towards him. He leapt out the door behind him and threw himself down on the pavement hands over his head as the blast swept outward and up to be reclaimed back into the building by the very air it was expelling. In a roar of shrieking steel and plastacrete the capital building imploded as secondary explosions ripped the foundation apart. When the explosions had ceased Obi-Wan had unsteadily gained his feet. His back and shoulders ached, his face stung. He touched his cheek, withdrawing his hand at the smarting that ran along his cheekbone. Blood on his fingers startled him as he traced a nasty gash that ran horizontally from his ear to his nose. He twisted painfully, carefully looking over his shoulder to see pieces of glass and splinters embedded in his upper body. His ears rang muting the sounds of the panic and fear that swept around him. And then his mind replayed the prior events, his Master! The warnings in his mind unheeded he turned back to the rubble to search out the older Jedi. He had just begun to pick his way through the devastation to where he had last seen his teacher when blaster fire strafed his path. Startled by the attack he sprang into action, withdrawing his lightsaber and calling to his Master through their bond, but there was no response. The bolts came too quickly for him to defend himself in his weakened condition and the ringing in his head kept him from thinking clearly or fully accessing the force. He remembered seeing a forest not far from the capitol building and decided to head there in an attempt to lose the men who were now running towards him firing into the rubble all around him.
The insurgents had pursued him, knowing his value as a Jedi representative and intending to use the young man to their advantage to break up the peace talks. They had tracked him into the forest and fanned out in an attempt to capture the wounded Jedi.
Obi-Wan had never found his Master.
Now sitting in the cold dark of the cave, he allowed the tears to overwhelm him. His breath came in heaving gasps as he allowed the separation and dread of the unknown to flood his heart. He knew he should not allow such feelings to control him but the words of his pursuers and the silence in the bond he had with Qui-Gon had shaken him. The rocks behind him bit into his already wounded back as he pressed against them but he did not feel them. His fingers numb, cold and bleeding were wrapped tightly around the hilt of his lightsaber unsensing as his mental calls to his Master went unanswered.
It seemed as if what light was left in the cave had just grown darker.
"Hey, did anyone check out this cave?"
The call of one of the men hunting him echoed down to the grieving Padawan as a shadow covered the opening. His mind blocked out all else as he realized his hiding place had been discovered.
"Then bring me a light. I bet that little brat is down in here somewhere."
Quietly Obi-Wan stood and slid cautiously down the passageway deeper into the darkness. Ignoring his pain and weariness, he used the force to enhance his vision. Up to his right he saw a natural shelf of rock a few feet higher than his head with a deep recession near the back of it. He was sure he could wedge himself into the dark cleft if he could reach it. He began to form a plan, as he ran quickly through his options of escaping. He needed to convince the men to come this far into the cave and pass by him unnoticed so he could escape back out before they discovered his treachery. He knew he could seal off the entrance if he could reach it, trapping them inside until he got back to safety and alerted the authorities.
Testing his footing he began to scale the short climb up using the force to anchor his hold on the rocks. He had just gripped the edge of the shelf when a wave of terror and disorientation swept through the open bond he had with his Master. The suddenness and intensity of the fear gripped his heart in a panic causing him to loose his connection with the force. His foot slipped beneath him as he clawed with his hands to maintain his position on the rock face, but without the aid of the force he could not stay balanced. His breath caught in his chest as the sensation of falling wrapped his consciousness and heightened his fear. His own emotions swept through the connection he had with the older Jedi and were answered by a withdrawing sense of horror and confusion only adding to the dizzying sweep of feelings that threatened to overwhelm him.
Twisting he hit the floor of the cave hard on his right side, his breath leaving him as his ribs were pressed in with a sickening snap impacting against a sharp solid object. Intense pain brought bright pinpricks of light dancing in front of his eyes.
"Hey, I think I heard something down here!" His pursuers were closing in on him.
Obi-Wan rolled slowly onto his back, he couldn’t get his lungs to cooperate and breathe. Pressing his hand gently to his side he tried to damp the pain down and focus on the injuries he had sustained. Shakily he reached out across the hard packed floor his fingers tracing the small sharp rock that he had fallen on. He was sure he had broken a few ribs with that one. He knew he didn’t have much time as the echo of footsteps rang through the darkened tunnel. He still hadn’t caught breath and his head rang with the strange confusing emotions that were coming from his Master. Moving unsteadily to his knees he braced himself on his hands as he tried to steady his breathing; the pain catching each breath and shortening them into labored gasps of air. Edges of light touched the corner of the wall opposite him. With the injuries his body had sustained and the tumult of confusion racing in eerie patterns through the bond he had with the older Jedi he knew he would never reach the hidden repression in the wall above him in time. He pressed back hard against the rocks behind him, a small fold in the natural formation of the cave did little to hide him from prying eyes, and willed his pursuers to overlook him.
"Wait there's another opening here." The light swung back out of sight and muffled conversation could just be heard as the men discussed their next move.
It was all the distraction Obi-Wan needed. With a sigh of relief at the reprieve he had been given, he pushed the pain and fear aside, gathered the force to him and vaulted to the rim of the rock shelf, his fingers just grasping the edge. Pain clouded his vision, threatening to disrupt his focus, the thought crossed his mind that it would be a really bad time to pass out. Taking as deep a breath as he dared he pulled himself the last few inches up and pressed himself as tightly into the crevasse as he could. With his hood pulled down around his face he was practically invisible.
"Naw, it was a dead end just a few feet in."
"Alright, lets look down this way. I know he's here."
The telltale light swept around the natural bend, tracing the floor and brushing the walls as four men walked into view. Obi-Wan watched them silently, barely daring to breathe as they stopped just below him With the slightest of movement the young Jedi flicked his wrist and a cascade of rocks could be heard skittering farther down the tunnel. At the sound they froze. One man pointed silently down the path with his blaster motioning the others to follow him. As they left the tunnel below the hidden Padawan the light receded leaving him once again in darkness.
He crouched low on the shelf and peered after them counting out the seconds before he slipped over the edge and fell quietly down to the floor. When he could no longer hear the men in the tunnel he bolted for the entrance. Once outside the young Jedi skidded to a stop nearly slipping on the pines and fallen leaves that littered the forest floor at the mouth of the cave. He caught himself with one hand his other grasping his lightsaber. Igniting the blue blade he swung the deadly light into the rocks above the opening bringing them crashing down and sealing any escape of the men caught inside. When the dust had cleared and he could see his handiwork he slumped against the nearest tree, sliding gingerly down the trunk behind him to sit facing the now closed opening. His hands were shaking and he couldn’t breathe well enough to calm his heart from racing. His back began to throb in earnest this time echoing the pain in his side and he leaned forward, pulling his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them to relieve some of the pressure from his wounds.
//Master// the call pitiful, hurt and broken echoed unbidden from his heart. But, instead of the responding calm and love that he was used to, anger and fear lashed out at him wordlessly, ineffectively attempting to constrict the bond. Lost and alone, the shock of his injuries and the fear his Masters responses invoked were too much for him. Tears ringed his eyes and fell silently into the thick carpet of the dampened forest around him.
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He hurt. He hurt a lot. His ears were ringing and his eyes weren't focusing. He did have them open didn’t he? There were voices at least he thought so and someone pressed a cloth against the side of his head. Involuntarily he reached up only to have a gentle hand push his own back down.
Why were there so many voices? And why did they seem to come from within? Especially one. Who was this Master it kept calling for. The voice was lost and questioning. It frightened him. Why would he have a voice in his head talking to him like that? He tried to shut it out. Panic flared inside of him and was echoed by someone elses, it touched his heart and filled him with dread. In fear he withdrew from the touch and sought relief from the thoughts and emotions that were foreign to his own. He was so tired why didn’t they just go away and let him sleep. His angry response was met with silence from the crying of the disembodied voice, sorrow edged his thoughts – no not his thoughts someone elses that were mixed with his own. Before he could understand, a dermal injector touched his neck and darkness slipped her arms around him carrying him back into peaceful oblivion.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was morning when he awoke again. His eyes were clear this time and he didn’t hurt quite so badly. He was lying on a bed near a picture window in a small room. Obviously it was a private home, by the cheerful decorations and the hand quilted coverlet draped across his tall frame. Was it his home?
Panic, his own this time overwhelmed him. He didn’t know where he was. How had he gotten here? Who had brought him here? The questions mounted as he realized that he really couldn’t remember anything. He didn’t even know who he was.
A middle-aged dark haired man entered the room smiling brightly.
“Good you’re up! How do you feel? You had us worried.” he moved to sit next to the large man on the bed, reaching out to readjust the bandage taped to the others forehead. The wounded man flinched and pulled back.
“Its okay. The bandage, it slipped a little I was just going to fix it for you.” he pointed to the left side of the confused mans head. A frown crossed his face, “Master Jinn are you all right? We called the Regents and they'll be here later with the medic, they thought you had died. But my son Cleigh pulled you out and hid you here where the insurgents couldn’t find you. They never did find the ones who did it.” He walked around the room opening the shades while he talked conversationally. "Would you like something to eat?"
Master Jinn? Was that him? What was he the Master of? Who was coming for him? And why was he wearing a bandage? Nothing the man had said made any sense to him at all.
He found the other man silently staring at him waiting for an answer. Trying to hide his confusion the Jedi reached up cautiously to touch his bandaged temple. What had happened?
“Uh….no. Thank you. I am fine.” He swung his legs over the side of the bed too quickly and his head balked at the sudden motion. Wincing with the pain he pushed himself up. He had to leave this place. It wasn’t his home, he didn’t know how he knew that but he had to go.
“No please. You’re hurt. You need to rest. The medic will be by later this afternoon.” The small housekeeper placed a hand on his arm steadying him as he swayed on his feet.
And then the voice started again. //Master?//
“Did you hear that?” The Jedi Master questioned his host looking around the room suspiciously.
“I’m sorry, hear what?”
“That voice. It keeps calling me.” The skepticism in the others eyes made him self-conscious and he immediately changed the subject. “Do you have my clothes?”
“Sir, those are your clothes.”
The tall man looked down at himself. Tunic and pants. Would he really dress like this? What sort of a person was he anyway? The man beside him was talking, breaking into his thoughts again.
"I'm sorry what did you say?"
“My wife did have your robe cleaned. Shall I get it for you?”
“Yes please.” A robe? He wore a robe? The owner of the house quickly left the room to retrieve the item. When he returned he handed him a large soft brown robe. It had a hood and oversized sleeves, made for easy movement and durability. It was nice but it was brown. Did he like brown? Even the clothes he wore were brown tones. Why on earth would he choose brown, well at least the dirt wouldn’t show. He brought the robe down around him shrugging it on. It must have been his, it fit perfectly just barely touching the floor.
With a nod he moved towards the door intent on leaving. His hosts tried repeatedly to convince him to stay but he politely refused every attempt. There was a horrible sensation in his mind as if someone else were trying to think through his thoughts and always there was the sense of another presence. This must be what loosing your mind feels like he thought darkly.
With a curt thank you to the couple still intent on keeping him with them, he stepped out into a city of which he had no memory. The people were all dressed differently than he. They wore softly colored pants and vests. The women were attired not unlike the men, but with attractive over blouses belted at the waist. The citizens were very friendly and respectful of the tall man and it seemed that each and every one of them knew him for they all greeted him warmly.
From the conversations that they had with him he decided his name must be Jinn, but he still wasn’t sure what the Master part of his title referred to or if it was just the custom of these people. He decided to believe the later. He wandered aimlessly through the city, hoping to find someone or something familiar. He had the vague sense that there should be someone else with him but he couldn’t remember who that person was or where exactly they should be.
He reached an open aired market place, primitive in its design but highly effective for the displaying of all the goods that were for sale there. By the variety of fruits and vegetables available he guessed the main source of enterprise must be agriculture. A vendor near him called him over.
"Please try one!" the older gentleman, weathered by years in the sun held a dark green fruit in his hands, nodding for Qui-Gon to take the food. "They're the best on Trellos. Trust me!" His laughter caused the Jinn to smile.
"Thank you." He took the fruit from the small wrinkled hand and bit down into the soft sweet orb imitating the weathered farmer as he nodded his head in approval. The juice washed through his parched mouth reminding him of something else he had forgotten a lost memory just beyond his reach. In frustration he let go of the thought and smiling in gratitude at his benefactor moved on down the street.
//Where are you? Let me help you Master// The voice came again, unbidden, soft and beseeching. But the confusion and fear it generated was too much.
"Stop it! Just stop it!" Jinn closed his eyes, clenching his fists tightly to his sides. He had not realized he was speaking out loud until he opened his eyes and noticed that those around him had stopped and were looking at him oddly. Embarrassed by his actions he quickly turned down a side alley and strode away.
//Please Master, what's wrong? I don't understand. Let me help you.// The voice was more distant now and the sorrow in it deeper than before. Jinn decided to ignore it, maybe it would just go away if he quit paying attention to it. The ache that fogged his thoughts caused his anger to flare.
//Leave me alone! And do not talk to me again!// He threw the words with all the strength he had in his mind back at the voice that clouded his thinking. The resulting pain that washed through him caused tears to spring to his eyes as his heart clutched within his chest. He wiped the unshed tears away with the sleeve of his robe wondering what was the matter with him. Perhaps it had happened when he had been hurt, his hand absently touching the bandage that covered his now throbbing temple. He needed to find a place to rest and collect himself. He knew he needed help but he didn’t know who he could trust, he wasn’t even sure he could trust himself.
Shouting brought his attention back to his surroundings. Up ahead of him there was a small knot of people having a heated conversation outside of an eating establishment. Hoping to simply avoid being seen and escape further humiliation he turned to leave the way he had come.
"Look! Hey wait! Please come back!"
He heard the people behind him calling to him but hesitated to turn around.
"Please, we could really use your help."
Taking a deep breath he slowly turned around and walked back down the street. "I'm not sure I can help you. What seems to be the problem?"
"Thank goodness you're here." A red haired woman stepped forward. She wore an apron over simple clothing, flour was smeared on the side of her face and dusted her hair giving it an odd white streak. Jinn deduced she must be the eateries owner or at the least the cook. She pushed two men apart and walked between them. Smiling up at the Jedi she continued to explain, "These two started a fight in my establishment. When I told them to take it outside they started to beat up on each other out here and they are scaring away the customers. Can you help this get resolved?" Oddly enough Jinn realized he could feel their anger and fear when he concentrated on the two men. A tingling sensation started at the back of his neck working its way into his mind. There was something that he should know, but it escaped him as quickly as it caressed his thoughts, illusive and slippery he lost the memory as the prickling sensation increased.
Having had enough of stalling, the man on his right stepped forward and grabbed a man not much older than Jinn himself. He knew somehow that things had just escalated beyond the point where he had first stepped into this whole mess, what he didn’t know was what all these people expected of him.
"I'm not afraid of you," The man sneered at the Jedi Master, "He owes me and I'm through with waiting. He says he doesn’t have the money to repay me and yet here he is taking his whole family out to eat. He's liar!" The last words were spit into the face of the terrified man. Jinn looked at the people around him, there were children and women in the crowd it was getting out of hand.
Qui-Gon moved forward, hands out, "Listen friend, this is not the way to go about this. Neither is it the time nor the place. I am sure this man will pay you when he can. Is there some other way to end this? How about I buy you dinner and we can talk?" What was he saying? Where had that come from and for that matter did he have any money if the man took him up on the offer.
He didn’t have time to think about it as the enraged man pulled a blaster off of his belt and pointed it directly into the face of his debtor.
"No please. I have a family."
"I don’t care."
Jinn had had enough. It had been a very long and trying day. He didn’t know where he was or who for that matter. His head was pounding and a voice had followed him wherever he went pleading with him to let it help him. The man in front of him took the brunt of his frustration and anger.
"ENOUGH!" The force blast of the words silenced the entire street and with a simple gesture of his hand the Jedi Master threw the angry man back into the wall of the shop behind him. His head impacted on the hard stone building with a sickening thud and he slid to the ground unmoving, the blaster falling from his limp hand.
Shocked Jinn stared at the too still body. What had he done? And how had he done it? He looked from his hand to the eyes staring back at him in horror. He hadn’t even touched the man he had just yelled at him and motioned him back.
The restaurant owner ran to the fallen man.
"You killed him." Someone in the crowd whispered.
"I didn’t…. I don't." The words wouldn’t come. He looked to the shop owner kneeling next to the unconscious man and shook his head in denial. She stared back not sure what to expect from the man she had sought help from. "I….I… I'm sorry." And the confused man turned and fled back down the street leaving the frightened citizens behind him.
He never heard the conversation that ensued.
"Is he dead Marlee?" The red haired woman reached out and touched his neck gently, breathing a sigh of relief when she felt a pulse beneath her fingers.
"No Jansom, he's alive. But I don't think he'll be coming after again you any time soon." She looked back down the alley in the direction Jinn had run. "Did anyone see where the Jedi Master went?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
He slid down the wall behind the garbage bin that hid him from prying eyes. He had just killed someone. He had killed someone and he didn’t even know how he had done it. Clenching his fists tightly he pressed them against his eyes trying to blot out the scene that looped over and over in his mind. He threw that man against the wall and killed him.
What was he? Hot tears of fear and frustration traced down his cheeks and beaded into his hair. They would be looking for him now. He had to hide. He couldn’t answer any of their questions, he didn’t know the answers. Maybe he was already a wanted man. He needed to get away from this planet.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Obi-Wan lifted his head. The entrance to the cavern was still sealed. Quiet had returned to the forest around him and he became of aware of the sounds of wildlife returning to their interrupted habitat. Collecting his breath he wiped the tears from his cheeks with the sleeve of his robe. It was time to pull himself together and get back to the city, something was wrong with his Master. He had been able to touch his mind for the briefest of moments and had been met with a wave of terror and repulsion, feelings he had never before felt from the older Jedi. They swept along the open bond and seared into his heart causing him to withdraw. He decided to try once more, gently probing the connection and seeking out Qui-Gon.
//Where are you? Let me help you Master//
//Please Master, what's wrong? I don't understand. Let me help you.//
A wave of anger and fear washed over him so strong it was like being hit with a physical wall of rejection; the intense feelings twisting the bond and warping it. //Leave me alone! And do not talk to me again!// The force of the words stung causing the Padawan to instantly pull back in pain.
Something was wrong. Something was wrong with his Master and something was terribly wrong with their connection. It was dampened or damaged he wasn’t able to contact the older Jedi now except for brief sporadic touches and even the briefest connection was painful. After their short contact it had been severed but even when Qui-Gon was unconscious his Padawan had been able to sense him. Now, now there was a disruption in the force where their bond had been and it blocked the young Jedi from his Mentor. Panic crept into his heart tingeing his thoughts. He couldn’t continue like this. Dampening down the horrible feelings from the tear in their bond he pushed himself up and tried to get his bearings. Judging from the position of the planet's sun he had little time to make it back to the city before night fell. He had no idea what lived in these forests and was pretty sure he would need cover before long as the temperature fell uncomfortably cold during the dark the hours that were fast approaching.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The forest around the young Jedi had come to life as the sun had passed below the trees plunging his surroundings into darkness and a bone chilling cold. Little light was afforded to the forest floor as the stars sparked through openings in the leafy canopy stories above his head. Obi-Wan thought he had headed in the right direction. He had been unable to find cover and had thought it best to keep moving. He had been able to sense life forms in the general vicinity ahead of him when he had chosen this path but now he was beginning to wonder. A hiss to his left caused him to jump as something skittered out of sight followed by the sounds of heavy-footed pursuit. Standing perfectly still and willing his presence to be ignored by whatever was finding its meal around him he stretched out once again with the force. It wasn’t the first time that weariness and pain had separated him from his awareness of his surroundings. If he kept it up *he* was going to end up being dinner for something himself. The thought made him shiver even more in the cold that wrapped the night.
A distant soft disembodied voice floated to him through darkness.
"Great, now I am hallucinating." He gritted out through chattering teeth, the steam of his breath sparkling duly in the sparse light.
The voice was closer, joined with others as pinpoints of light danced through the trees ahead of him in an odd broken line. Too tired to run and near collapse from his injuries he watched the lights fascinated, wondering how they knew his name. One light locked onto him blinding him with its intensity. He dropped to his knees one hand up to shield his eyes, his other fumbling ineffectively for his lightsaber.
"Obi-Wan!" The light yelled his name again and seemed to catch him as he lost his balance. Funny he never realized that light had substance, the thought raced through his mind as he lost awareness and fell into strong arms that caught his unconscious body.
"Tell me he's not dead." The worried voice of the young northern Regent questioned the medic who ran over and knelt beside Delvak. The ruler had caught the Jedi as he lost consciousness, "I can't handle two dead Jedi Daris. I really can't. Okay?" More of the searchers were gathering around the fallen apprentice and the Regent lending their support and lighting the small glade.
"Give me a minute will you." He cautiously felt for a pulse, gently probing Obi-Wan's injuries and began muttering about pushy Regents and people in authority. "Careson, give me a light over here!" His assistant stumbled quickly over chastised by the disgusted look on the medics face. When the light touched the wounded man the technician pulled his hands back with a sympathetic hiss.
"Not good Delvak" Obi-Wan's robe was stained with blood from the many cuts on his back. His cheek was bloodied and bruised from the gash he had sustained. The Medic quickly moved his hands across the Jedi's body identifying cuts and bruises, finding the broken ribs.
"Is he alive!"
"Yes. Yes, he's alive. But he's lost too much blood even for a Jedi, we have got to get him back quickly." He gently eased an eyelid open and shown a small light into the pupil. "We have to hurry, he's in shock."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It hurt to breathe. Actually it just hurt. He rolled onto his side, curling into himself as the deep breath he took dissolved into a fit of coughing.
Hands caught him and held him, rubbing his back as the coughing subsided, a quiet voice cautioned him to just breath slow and easy.
"It’s okay its just the bacta treatment. You were in bad shape and we had to submerse you. Breathe slowly. That's it." He was slowly rolled onto his back again.
Cautiously he tested himself. Laying perfectly still the young Jedi reached out to the force assessing the condition of his body, his muscles relaxing as the all familiar presence swept into him reassuring him. After a few minutes his eyes flickered open and caught sight of the young northern Regent he had come to know during the talks. The Regent, leaning worriedly over him, was talking to someone else in the room out of Obi-Wan's line of sight.
"Is he going to be okay?"
"Yes." The clipped answer resounded crisply through the room, "Yes, now quit asking me. I swear Delvak it's a good thing we are friends or I would have had you thrown out. Look he's waking up now, just give him a minute."
The blue-white eyes snapped down to lock onto Obi-Wan's. The young Jedi was smiling slightly at the banter between the two. Delvak gently pressed his hand to the apprentice's chest.
"Are you okay?"
The young man tested a deep breath again, his answer rough and soft, "Yes, I think so. And you?"
The Regent's laughter caused him to smile. "Me? I'm fine. I am not the one who we found unconscious in the forest remember?"
And then he did remember. The memories slammed into his mind starting his body into action. "Qui-Gon!"
"Whoa, whoa!" Delvak pressed him back as Daris grabbed his shoulders and held him down.
"No you don’t!", threatened the medic, turning on his friend, "See what you did?" When he was sure that his patient was not going to move he slipped around behind the Regent and moved a chair next to Obi-Wan's bed. Pointing at it in frustration he looked at the others, "You sit there!" and motioned to Delvak. "And you, you stay there until I tell you that you can get up. Do you understand?" he rounded on the distracted young Jedi.
"No buts. Anyone who has to spend two days in a bacta tank in my infirmary is not going anywhere until I tell them so, do you understand me?"
"Two days?!?" Obi-Wan fell back against the pillows stunned. He looked at Delvak who was simply nodding in agreement.
"I'm sorry Obi-Wan it's true you've been in a bacta tank for two days." The unasked question in the blue-green eyes prompted him further. With a sigh he continued, "We had to, you had broken bones and cuts and lacerations that were too deep for anything else. We found you the night of the explosion, you collapsed just as we came up on you. We traced your path back to the cave the next morning. It looked like you had caused the cave-in. Correct?" A simple nod and he continued. "Some of the rocks were scorched and cut clean in two so we figured you sealed someone or something in. On a hunch we broke into the cave. Whatever was there escaped out a rear exit."
"It was the men who were chasing me. I was hoping they would be trapped there."
"We were hoping so too."
"And Master Qui-Gon?"
Delvak looked toward the corner of the room and Daris averted his eyes as well. Obi-Wan watched the two of them, as unease and guilt flowed through the room.
"He's not dead." The whisper brought the Regents attention back to the recovering Jedi before him.
"No. No he's not. But he's missing and we can't find him." Delvak looked to Daris who unwillingly took up the story.
"A local family dug him out of the rubble from the blast when the capitol building was destroyed. They saw the insurgents chasing you and knew that Qui-Gon's life was in danger so they hid him in their house and called us the next day. By the time we got there Qui-Gon had left but the owner of the house said that something was wrong with him, he resisted all their attempts to stay and he seemed unfocused, lost. They also said that he was injured. I don’t know how badly."
"Anyway," the Regent jumped back into the story as Obi-Wan sat gingerly up in bed concentrating on the tale unfolding before him, "he was reported as seen in several places in town, the market place and Marlee's restaurant down near south district. Seems he broke up a fight there but almost killed one of the brawlers."
"What? Qui-Gon would never…" and yet something was warning Obi-Wan that it might be true.
"I know. We didn’t believe it either, but they brought the guy in and he was out of it for quite a few hours. He'll be fine, but after that we lost track of Qui-Gon. We have all the local authorities on alert for him." Delvak stood to reassure Obi-Wan keeping him sitting as concern moved the young Jedi to try to get up again. "No, its okay. They have been told to simply apprehend him and bring him in, no one will hurt him."
"Something is wrong." The apprentice's eyes took on a far away look as he tested the damaged bond he had with his Master. He winced in pain as the constricted connection lashed back at him forcing him out.
"No it's okay" he warned off his concerned guests, "Its just that I cant reach him anymore and I should be able to."
Delvak nodded, "We'll find him."
"I'd like to help." Blue green eyes beseeched the flint hard ones of the medic as a force of wills took over.
"Daris." The growl from the Regent dropped the medic's gaze in defeat.
"Oh alright. Let me check you over one more time and I'll release you."
* * * * * * * *
He was standing once again on the balustrade of the official apartments where he had stood only days before beside his Master overlooking the opulent garden below. Inquiry into his Masters whereabouts had not given him the answers he had wanted. Yes many people had seen him but no one seemed to know where he was. Obi-Wan was well aware that when a Jedi wanted to, he could all but disappear. Closing his eyes wearily he rested his head on his arms crossed atop the cool marble of the railing. The stillness of the afternoon lulled him into a calm peace. He let the force wash over him and filter through his tangled thoughts, soothing frayed nerves and settling the tensions that ran through his body. As he let himself go he became more and more aware of the people and life forms around him. He threw his force net wider and wider over the city touching the minds and presence of literally everyone. Until his net caught a snag, a ripple in the force that drew his attention and jerked his calm off balance. A deepening of the disturbance brought his head up and snapped him around as a white hot spear of frustration spiked back through the calm of his search short circuiting his impromptu probe in a sear of pain cutting him off abruptly.
He had touched him. He had found Qui-Gon. He didn’t have a specific place but he knew the general location. Leaving his quarters at a dead run he went in search of Delvak.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Entering the hangar bay, Jinn lingered at the edge of sunlight spilling into the large berth. The darkness within was overshadowed by the hulking bulk of an old tattered cruiser that had been converted into a transport of some type. As his eyes adjusted to the mid day gloom of the hangar he saw a man beneath the belly of the ship trying to remove a faceplate from an access panel. The string of foul language that accompanied his efforts caused Jinn to wince. Finally he had an idea for a means of escape. He casually walked up behind the other making enough noise so he would not startle the man working on the belligerent hatch.
"Do you need some help there?"
The Captain of the junket looked up at him curiously, "We just got in last night. Doing a turnaround with Rellig, closest planet in the neighboring star system, when this piece of junk hyperdrive decided to take a dump on us. You wouldn’t know how to fix a Collor TS20 now would you?"
The tall man searched the fragments of his tattered memory. He did, he did know how to repair hyperdrive units.
"Yes as a matter of fact I think I can help you."
"You're kidding. You?"
"Yes, but I'll want something in return."
"You get us off this war blasted planet and I'll give you anything you want. No one around here has ever seen a TS20, I was beginning to think we were going to have to call in for another supply ship to rescue us."
"I want a ride off this planet."
"Mister, you fix that hyperdrive you got it."
"Thank you. And the name is Jinn, if you please."
"Sure, come on Jinn. I'll introduce you around. I'm the Captain of this ship, there's only five of us that work this run. We'll get you into some decent clothes and get you hooked up with that unit!" Wiping his hands off on his jumper suit he clamped a large hand on the Jedi Master's shoulder and steered him towards the landing ramp.
The Captain of the damaged freighter was a friendly man named Dane and his crew was a tightly knit group of two humans, both male, a Togarian and a Twilek. The Togarian, R'gath, was the weapons specialist. Jinn found him aloof and hard to understand, his manners were gruff and his size and appearance would easily invoke fear in the most courageous. The crew however had no qualms about teasing R'gath and to Jinn's surprise he took the ribbing good-naturedly. The Twilek served as second mate. He quickly took to Jinn and showed him his sleeping berth and fitted him out with tools and clothing. Of the humans Trae was the only one displeased to have a new crewmember on board. Gareth, the other human informed Jinn that Trae, who was the ships mechanic, had been unable to fix the damaged hyperdrive unit and was intimidated by the presence of a newcomer. Jinn made a special point from that time on to include Trae in everything he did, helping the man in anyway possible and showing him everything that he knew about hyperdrive units. His own wealth of information surprised him. If he could remember something this complicated then perhaps in time he would remember the rest of who he was, if he really wanted to remember at all.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"What do you mean you found him?" Delvak stood up from his desk tipping his chair over in his haste.
"I mean I know where he is, his general location that is." Obi-Wan stood inside the door of the private chambers his friend had been given during their stay in the Southern continent. "I was able to locate him in the force. He's on the edge of the city to the west.
"Then lets go. I'll take a detail with me and we'll split up and search the area." The two raced out of the governmental building to find a detachment and begin the search again.
Obi-Wan had decided to search on his own against the better judgment and wishes of Delvak who had reluctantly let him take sector 24 on his own. One didn’t often win arguments with stubborn Jedi. Sector 24 was filled with maintenance yards, bars, hangar bays and a few run down homes of the ones who made their living off of the traffic lanes that used Trellos as an export/import station or jump point to anywhere else in the galaxy.
He tried to find the point of disturbance in the force again that he was sure had been his Master but the connection was as cold and lost as the leads he was trying to follow. Most people he met in this section of the city were wary of strangers. They were offworlders themselves and lived in their own communities here not fitting in with the agricultural mindset of the world that supported them. More than once Obi-Wan had used Jedi mind tricks to convince someone that he was safe to talk to. And on one occasion he had blocked all memory of himself from the patrons of a bar who had become incensed by his presence, which had innocently disrupted the dance number that had been entertaining the inebriated customers.
Growing tired of dead ends and blocked questions he turned his attention to the last place he not yet checked - a hangar central to the district but unoccupied at the moment except for one transport. He recognized the hangar as the bay they had transferred the Jedi's shuttle to in an attempt to hide it from anyone who might want to gain access to it after their failed attempts to capture the Jedi. It had been locked into a secret bay and secured by a droid team until it would be needed.
Obi-wan stopped at the entrance to the bay. A human male not much older than he was tapping away rapidly at a data terminal shaking his head and cursing softly at the results it was feeding him back.
"No Trae. It didn’t work, try it one more time!" He yelled into the cavernous room. Someone under the belly of the squat long transport waved back and slid out of sight, sparks from a welder fell down to bounce off the floor betraying the place where the crewmember had disappeared to.
"Piece of damn…"
"Excuse me." The young Jedi interrupted the tirade. When the man at the terminal saw him he continued, "I'm looking for someone. A rather tall man, dressed like I am. His name is Qui-Gon and he seems to have gotten lost in this city, he is a friend of mine."
The man frowned at him through unkempt hair, brushing it idly out of his face. "Don’t know anyone by that name and I sure haven’t seen anyone that dressed like you." He eyed the apprentice with mild curiosity and distrust.
Obi-Wan nodded with a sigh, "Of course. May I ask your crew?" He felt a slight tug as looked into the dark recess of the hangar dim lights silhouetted four humanoids working diligently at repairs on the hulk before him. He could have sworn one was Twillek. Again the twinge in his consciousness touched him slightly.
"You could if you wanted to waste your time. Our crews been confined here for three days trying to get that damn hyperdrive fixed we're already late for delivery. No one here's seen anybody for the past couple of days."
"Try it again Gareth." Someone called out from the other side of the ship.
"Look, I hope you find your friend but I gotta get back to work." The crewman turned back to the computer again and began resetting parameters.
Obi-Wan stood just inside the shade the hangar bay door afforded trying to get his eyes to acclimate to the hazy darkened light of the interior. He heightened his feelings and swept the bay. The force was trying to tell him something but the message was garbled and his frustration was tainting his concentration.
He threw a thanks to the preoccupied man under his breath and moved off down the street uneasy with himself and their conversation. He tried talking to his master through their broken bond but to no avail.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Jinn was enjoying his new family until the voice started again. It had thankfully left him alone for the past two days. Every time it intruded in his mind he had pushed it farther and farther from him, successfully blocking it more and more from his awareness.
This time when it came to him, the weariness and utter and despair that tinged its tone stopped him.
//Master I am sorry. I am looking for you everywhere but I cannot find you. You are hurt. Please Qui-Gon let me help you.//
The hydrospanner he held dropped to the decking with a loud clang drawing the attention of Trae. Jinn was leaning over his hand pressed hard against his forehead, brows furrowed in pain. He was shaking his head slowly and his lips were moving though no sound was coming out of them. Slowly Trae set aside his tools and moved towards Jinn. He pulled his hand gently away from his face and bent down to look into the tightly closed eyes.
"Hey Jinn, you okay?"
Jinn wearily returned the gaze, straightening slowly and pulling his arm out of the others grasp. "Yes." He touched his temple and forced a smile, "Just a headache. This wound that's all. I'm fine thank you." The voice had sounded so sad and the presence of it had felt so close. Too close. Whipping his head around he saw a young man talking with Gareth near the entrance to the hangar. The man was backlit and his features were hard to make out but he seemed somehow familiar.
"What?" Trae moved next to him, glancing at Gareth.
"Do you know him?" Jinn motioned with his head to the young man who was moving off now disappearing into the crowded streets.
"Nah. Do you?"
"I…I don’t' know."
"Yeah well, come on," Trae pulled Jinn back towards the ship, "If we don't get this thing finished by tonight Captain Dane'll have our hides! Just a few more adjustments and I think we can get off this planet tomorrow!"
"Yes, that will be nice." Jinn distractedly turned back. Something was still not right. He knew that boy. He knew him. Then it started again. The same feeling he had had in the alley before that man had drawn his blaster, that horrible crawling tingly sensation. He looked over his shoulder frowning as he caught sight of two men running from the hangar, it meant something. But…..and then his world came down around him in a roar of sound and darkness blotted out his sight.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Even three blocks away Obi-Wan felt the concussion of the explosion. It rocked the surrounding buildings and threw him to the ground.
"Not again!", he growled under his breath gaining his footing and running back in the direction he had come from.
Smoke and ashes billowed into the sky falling slowly down around him coating everything with a fine dusting of plastacrete, choking his nose and bringing tears to his eyes. He reached the epicenter of the blast and realized that it used to be the hangar bay he had just stopped at. People were streaming past him, some towards the destruction, most away from it. There were hurt and wounded everywhere he looked. Fear and pain overwhelmed his senses and he damped them down in an attempt to deal with the suffering of the people around him.
Delvak rounded the corner on the far side of the ruined hangar at a dead run, a platoon of security men following behind him began to fan out into the debris, searching for the wounded and the dead. Seeing the Jedi he motioned him over. Obi-Wan picked his way around the rubble casting a wary eye to the remnants of the ceilings infrastructure that had not yet given way.
"Are you alright?" Delvak looked him over quickly. Hoping that their last Jedi representative had not been damaged, one missing Jedi was bad enough to deal with.
"I'm fine.", Obi-Wan answered distractedly looking around the area, something was tugging at him again a familiar feeling mixed with a deep dread. He disregarded the thought as just tired nerves, telling himself it was only because this was the second explosion he had been involved in under a week. He brought his attention back to the frowning advisor.
"Really, I am fine. When I passed by here just moments ago there were only four men that I could see working around that ship there," he pointed to a twisted wreck of steel and tumbled plastacrete slabs, "and one man that I spoke with near the entry way at the check-in station."
Delvak nodded sighing in resignation, "Do you? Is there anyway that you can…?"
Obi-Wan understood what he was asking; could the Jedi tell them if there was anyone left alive in the building. He had forgotten that he had damped down his feelings in an attempt to block out the suffering around them.
"Of course." The young Jedi turned back to the demolished hangar and stretched out with his feelings. He located three surviving workers from the crushed ship and the remaining three that had not made it. Delvak directed his men to the areas that Obi-Wan indicated. They quickly found the man that the Jedi had questioned only moments before the explosion, unharmed near the entrance to the collapsed bay.
Every moment they spent searching and digging for the buried men brought them closer to the fact that the remaining fragments of ceiling were not going to stay in place much longer. One piece swaying slowly over the destroyed ship was groaning ominously warning the men below of its intentions.
"We have to hurry." Obi-Wan wiped the sweat and dust out of his eyes with a dirty sleeve of his tunic. He cast a worried look above them. Delvak didn’t answer, nodding and heaving a plastacrete rock away from the last place where the Jedi had been sure that someone still remained buried. They had found the other live worker, and had opted to wait to dig out the dead until they had more resources at their disposal, concentrating instead on the living while they still had time.
A soft touch, like the sigh of his Master when he rose from meditation brushed the young Jedi's mind. Obi-Wan froze, not daring to breathe, something was touching his mind. No someone! There was that feeling tugging at him again; it was the same familiar sense but tinged with fear and loneliness. Could it be that the man they were digging out was Qui-Gon? He centered himself and concentrated on the soft touch that brushed his mind.
"Obi-Wan?" Delvak saw the glazed look on the Jedi's face his brows knit into a concentrated frown.
"What's the matter with him?'
"I don't know." The young Regent reached out and shook the young man beside him hesitantly.
"Master?" Obi-Wan questioned hoarsely, the whisper caught in his throat as he tested the feeling now shouting into his consciousness. "Master! Delvak, it's him, it's Qui-Gon!"
"What? Where? Here?!?" The Regent pointed in horror and disbelief at the pile of rocks they were trying attempting to move.
"Yes, hurry, he's hurt." He kicked himself mentally how could he not have realized, how could he not have sensed him? There was still something wrong though, Qui-Gon's mind was not accessible to him like it should be, the mental distance and confusion made him shudder and he removed the debris around the buried man even faster.
"I'm through!" One of the men next to Delvak shouted, "But I don’t think he's alive."
"No, he is, I can feel him." Obi-Wan pushed the man out of the way and crouched down next to the partially exposed form of his unconscious Master. He appeared to be trapped in a pocket of plastacrete slabs that had miraculously penned him in but not fallen on him directly.
"Master?" He gently touched the shoulder of the trapped man pressing waves of healing and comfort into the unconscious Jedi. His thoughts swirled out of control in a thousand different directions as his heart tore itself apart retracing each and every step of the last few days wondering what he could have done differently to find the older Jedi more quickly.
In moments the men had cleared the debris away from the fallen Jedi, and a medical team swiftly moved in. Obi-Wan would not allow himself to be removed from his Masters side and the med-team was reluctant to break the contact he had established as it seemed to be stabilizing the wounded man. As they edged past the broken entry the ceiling, finally having given into the whims of gravity, crashed down on the space they had only seconds ago occupied. Delvak looked wide-eyed at Obi-Wan and released his breath in a loud rush. The apprentice smiled weakly back at him and moved off with the medics tending to his Master.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The confusion was deafening. He cringed and wrapped his arms tightly around himself. What was this place? Why wouldn’t the sounds and voices leave him alone, he couldn’t be dead it wouldn’t be this loud. And the light. It was so bright where did it come from, how come no one was here? Hadn’t he just been in the hangar, they were supposed leave soon the Captain would be angry if he held up the shipment.
He was all alone.
In desperation the man who only knew himself as a mechanic named Jinn, collapsed in a heap in the swirl and warmth of the force hiding his face in his hands and blocked out the sensations around him.
* * ** * * * * **
With a sigh Obi-Wan sat back heavily in the uncomfortable plastic chair. Obviously they weren’t created with humans in mind he thought darkly as the edge of the seat pressed sharply into the middle of his back. He had been here for hours now by his Masters bedside and still there had been no change in his condition. The physical wounds were dressed and healing and the medics claimed he should have been awake by now. Even Obi-Wan couldn’t seem to reach the unconscious man and every time he tried to talk to him through their bond he felt the older Jedi withdraw even further. The fear in his Teacher confused him.
“What happened to you?” No one answered, he hadn't really expected anyone to. When they had brought Qui-Gon to the medical facility he had been wearing a jump suit, the kind the mechanics wore in the hangar bays back home. His tunic and robe were nowhere to be found. His hands were dirty, scratched and cut from hard work but he was not abused or undernourished and there were no signs of restraint or captivity. Obi-Wan reached out his hand and placed it over the older Jedi’s heart feeling the steady beat and closed his eyes, calming himself with the rhythm beneath his fingers. Thinking back over the past few days he recalled a conversation with, the wife of the man who had rescued Qui-Gon and taken him to his house until he had woken up. She had said that the Jedi had seemed confused and not quite himself when he had left and she had been concerned.
Not quite himself.
Obi-Wan sat up with a jolt, his eyes flying open with realization.
//Master?// Again the deep inward cringe and attempt to withdraw. Quickly the apprentice withdrew the touch. His Master didn’t recognize his Padawan, that was the dread and confusion he kept reading from the older Jedi. And if he didn’t know who Obi-Wan was, he probably didn’t know who he was himself either.
“Of course, Obi-Wan, how can you be so dense?” he growled angrily at himself as he traced the bruise that ran down his Masters temple staining his cheek with color. The cut that accompanied it would leave a nice scar. That had to be the answer. Qui-Gon didn’t know who he was, the injury he had sustained had affected his memory. The whole time Obi-Wan had been trying to contact him, he had been scaring him off. The apprentice smiled in spite of himself, wondering what it would feel like to wake up and hear voices inside his head that he couldn’t remember who they belonged to, no wonder Qui-Gon had been hiding.
Standing to his feet he leaned over the unconscious man and ever so gently placed his hands on either side of the Jedi Master’s head, brushing back the unkempt hair and framing his face with his hands. He closed his eyes and concentrated. He knew that Qui-Gon was lost in the force. Every attempt that Obi-Wan had made to reach him the past few hours had only driven him further away. The apprentice was going to have to find his Master and try to help him remember who he was. The task overwhelmed him momentarily and he lost his focus.
“Kenobi!” he whispered harshly in reprimand of himself, “Concentrate, Qui-Gon needs you.” He pressed his forehead against the cool forehead of his Masters and dove back into the maelstrom of light and power and warmth that compromised the force. Only now for his Master it was a horrifying prison that he could not understand or escape. Obi-wan entered his Master's prison, determined to bring him back, and help him remember.
* * * * * * * * * *
Curled tightly in a ball and rocking back and forth he tried desperately to block out the light and sounds, thankfully the voice that had been calling to him had finally stopped.
Obi-Wan’s heart constricted at the sight of his Master in the force. His first desire had been to run to the man and hold him, but he knew that would only frighten him further so he simply knelt in front of him and quietly sat down.
The voice was soft this time and it seemed even closer.
“Please stop talking to me.” The words were ground out and tortured, Qui-Gon didn’t look up, he hadn't realized that anyone had joined him in this place.
“If you like. How about I just sit here with you?”
That was new. The older Jedi’s head snapped up and ice-cold blue eyes locked onto the sea-green ones staring intently at him. He moved slightly backward at the sight of someone else so close to him.
“How did you get here?” the confusion in the question touched Obi-Wan’s heart. It was like talking to a child. “Wait a minute, I recognize you, you’re the young man I saw in the hangar aren't you?”
“You saw me?” Obi-Wan kicked himself mentally, of course he had seen him, that was the feeling he had picked up on when he had questioned the man at the entry. He smiled softly and tried again, “Yes that was me. Are you okay?”
The older Jedi looked at him incredulously, “Am I okay?” The tone of the man’s voice almost caused the apprentice to laugh. “No I am not okay. I don’t know where I am. I am supposed to be leaving on a cargo hauler and I haven't any idea of how to get back there. No I would say that I wasn’t okay at all.”
Obi-Wan was about to respond when Qui-Gon pulled back away from him farther as realization hit him, “Wait a minute, you’re that voice in my head.”
Desperate not to scare him, the young Jedi lowered his voice and remained very still sending soothing waves of the force to wrap and enfold the confused man, “Yes that was me. I am sorry I scared you. I was worried about you. You’ve been hurt.”
Qui-Gon didn’t respond he just looked at the young man seated before him, his eyes betraying every ounce of doubt and fear he felt.
So Obi-Wan continued, “We are….”, how does one explain a Master/Padawan relationship to someone who does not understand these things he asked himself realizing how it would sound. Thinking for a minute he pressed on, “We are friends and I knew you were lost so I came looking for you.”
“We are? Where are we?”, the older man motioned with his hand around them. “What is this place?”
Had Obi-Wan ever asked questions like this when he was young, somehow he thought Qui-Gon would be quite amused when he told him how stumped he had been by his Masters questions.
“Okay,” the younger Jedi breathed in deeply collecting his thoughts and scooted closer to the other, “We are in the Force. It is a safe place, a place you know very well, or rather you did before you were hurt.” The utter confusion that crossed the Teachers face would have been humorous under any other circumstances, “What I wouldn’t give for Master Mace to be here.” Obi-Wan muttered to himself.
“Never mind.” He shook his head and looked away for a minute. And then he caught sight of it, his Masters signature. Etched in luminescent flaming strands of brilliant color it crossed the backdrop of light weaving in and out of his own signature, emanating strength and love. The two ribbons of light interconnected at points coiling around and through each other, inextricable woven together in a dance of light and motion.
He had a plan.
He stood carefully to his feet and extended his hand to the man now looking up at him expectantly.
“Let me *show* you who I am first.”
Qui-Gon watched him, not sure if he should trust this person that had plagued him the last few days, it seemed to him that it was this boy’s fault that he was here.
“Please, trust me. I promise I won’t hurt you.”
Hesitantly he reached out and took the young mans hand allowing himself to be helped to his feet. Instead of letting go of him though when he was standing the other tightened his grip on Qui-Gon and led him to stand in front of the weaving strands of color and light.
Obi-Wan sought out his Masters eyes. He really hoped this worked. Qui-Gon was stronger than he was even now even without the conscious aid of the force, if this backfired and scared him further away, he may never be able to find him again. He stepped near a writhing line of blue fiery light touched with hints and hues of red and shot through with multi-colored opalescent flashes. The light seemed to be alive twisting and coiling in on itself, a tendril wrapped around Obi-Wan's wrist and he felt the familiar electrified intensity of the force within it.
“This is who I am. This is who we are.” And with that simple explanation he plunged Qui-Gon’s hand into the stream of light that was Obi-Wan’s signature.
The Jedi Master gasped in surprise as images raced through his consciousness, feelings, and emotions so familiar and still so foreign swirled about him charging him with scenes that he somehow knew he should have recognized.
He and this young man sparring with swords of light.
He and this young man mediating talks.
He and this young man fighting side by side, back to back.
Images of him holding the young man injured in his arms, quietly speaking to him. The scene switched so quickly he couldn’t track it as he saw himself pull the younger man in tears to his side as the death of his friend consumed him.
He and the young man laughing with another taller dark man.
He and…..he and Obi-Wan - the name fired into his mind. He and Obi-Wan watching multi-colored meteors fall over an alien sky. No not alien, Ryliss, they had been on vacation there. They had. They. Together. Obi-Wan? His Obi-Wan. His thought coalesced and the scattered fragments of his memory began to draw back in, collecting and forming images in his mind that he wasn’t seeing in the signature of the young man anymore.
“Yes,” the Padawan barely breathed the word as he watched Qui-Gon. When he had plunged his Masters hands into his signature the jolt had caught the older Jedi unaware and he stiffened and arched into the electrical current, his eyes fluttering closed as the coils of light wrapped around the lost man. The reaction worried the apprentice as he simply stood by and watched, hoping he had done the right thing. The moments had stretched and seemed painfully long until his Master spoke his name.
“Yes, I am Obi-Wan.”
Qui-Gon's hands fell out of the grip of the coils of light as they receded from around him. He stepped back unsteadily, catching himself as his apprentice moved towards him.
“You are my Obi-Wan.” It was almost a question. The older Jedi’s eyes still held confusion as he tried vainly to connect all he had seen. Shaking his head he glanced from the ribbons of light to the young man before him.
“Yes. I am your Padawan.” He touched the older Jedi gently on his arm. “You still don’t know who you are do you?”
He shook his head, “No, but I saw you. You and I. In lots of different places.”
“Yes.” He couldn’t help the smile that began to spread across his face. He wasn’t sure his bright idea was going to work but it had. “Do you want to know who you are?”
Qui-Gon looked suspiciously back at the interweaving bands of colored light. “I suppose you are going to tell me that the other strand of light is myself?”
Obi-Wan cast his eyes down trying to keep the humor off of his face at the imposing glare the other was throwing his way. With a small laugh he gave up and caught his Master’s eyes, “Yes Master,” he pointed at the green light rippling with violet colors and charged with a brilliant yellow cascade, “that would be you. Your signature, here in the force.”
“I see.” Still the unwavering stare. “I have….I have never known you to lie have I?” He questioned as he sifted his newfound old memories.
“No Master. You can trust me.”
With a simple nod of his head the older Jedi stepped forward and touched the streaming line of brilliant light. There was no shock this time and he did not close his eyes as he submerged himself into the warm colors. The strands of light disengaged from Obi-Wan's signature and looped themselves in excited coils about the man who had touched them, suffusing Qui-Gon in an electric flow of power. Obi-Wan watched fascinated, relief overwhelmed him when a smile broke out across the older Jedi’s face as his memories flooded his senses and knit themselves back together in his torn mind.
Qui-Gon turned towards the young Jedi as the light receded from around him. A smile graced his face where the confusion had been only moments before.
“Master?” The young Jedi tested the bond between himself and the older man standing before him. A resounding yes pulsed through the open connection.
“Yes, Obi-Wan. It is I.”
“Oh, Master! Thank the force!” Before he thought about what he was doing, Obi-Wan threw himself at the taller man wrapping his arms tightly about him and held him closely to him. It had been too long, that he had wondered, too many nights of worrying if they would ever be reunited again.
“Padawan, its alright now.” He heard the sound of his Masters voice rumble deep in his chest beneath his ear as strong arms wrapped around him in a crushing embrace.
“You have no idea Master. I was so worried. When you kept you retreating from me I thought….” Pulling back he looked up into the blue eyes that had grown warm and familiar again searching them for recognition, “It is just good to have you back again.”
“It is good to be back young one. Thank you for finding me Padawan." He looked around them for a minute not fully releasing the young man just yet. The colors and warmth of the force swirled calmly around them shattering his prison and welcoming him back, whole and complete. Refocusing on the smaller man closely watching him he smiled again, "Well my Obi-Wan, shall we find our way out here now?”
* * * * * * * * *
Qui-Gon smiled to himself as he listened to the soft humming coming from the adjacent bedroom. His Padawan was collecting his things as they prepared to leave today. It was a cheerful happy tune that the young Jedi kept humming over and over again changing it slightly with each pass through it. The Jedi Master crept up to the door and leaned against the jamb silently, watching his student hum and pack. He was smiling to himself as he moved about the small room unaware of the scrutiny.
Suddenly the young man turned and stared startled at the older Jedi, a blush crept up into his cheeks as he realized he was being watched.
"And how long have you been there?" he asked in mock indignation trying ineffectively to hide his embarrassment.
"Long enough young one." Qui-Gon laughed, amused at how easily his Padawan was thrown off balance. "Where did you learn that tune?"
"At the celebration last night.", he turned back to his packing hiding the smile that had started on his face again. "It was such a pretty tune and now I cant get it out of my head."
"Well don't stop on my account, it sounds nice." Obi-Wan turned back to look at his teacher. "Its good to hear music again. And don't stop packing, as enjoyable as last night was it will be very nice to leave this planet and get home." Qui-Gon sighed heavily revealing how very tired he really was.
It had been a long and difficult end to the peace talks. The Jedi Master had been able to recall and identify the two men that he had seen running from the hangar moments before it had exploded. The men belonged to a small but powerful faction that actually had profited from the war and was not in a hurry to see it end. Provisions, weapons and ammunition had been in short supply and the insurgents had made a huge underground business based on the needs and suffering that had so stripped the planet of all its resources. Through long hours of surveillance and patient tracking, the security forces had been able to find the men, dealing with an offworld shipper and trace them back to their base. They had stormed the remote location, but their attack had triggered a self-destruct on the hideout and the security detail had barely escaped before the bomb detonated. They had believed that the faction members had all been killed in the explosion but Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had sensed differently and discovered an escape route bored out of the rock below the city. The faction members had fled to the south hangar in an attempt to flee the planet, but because of the Jedi's quick thinking and intervention, their escape had been thwarted and all thirty-six of them had been arrested without further incident.
With the opposition to the peace treaty under arrest and awaiting trial the proceedings for unifying the planet had gone smoothly.
The following day the Regents had declared as a holiday and a huge celebration had been planned. It was a day-long festivity, with parties, parades, music and tons of food. The Jedi had been the guests of honor by decree of the Regents and the day had passed in a hectic happy blur. Qui-Gon was relieved that the planet was on the way to healing but his wounds had still slowed him down and he was exhausted, tiring easily as the long day had demanded so much of him. The quiet of the Temple beckoned him and he would be glad to be on his way with his Padawan, ready for some rest and peace.
Obi-Wan moved toward his Master, he had been worried about him. The older Jedi wasn’t healing quickly and he could read the weariness in his eyes and stance. Before he could follow his train of thought there was a perfunctory knock and the door to their apartments swung in.
Qui-Gon turned casually as Obi-Wan stepped quickly in front him alarmed at the intrusion. The Jedi Master rested a hand on his over-protective Padawan and smiled cynically at the man standing in the doorway.
"Do you always just open the door and let yourself in these days?" The sarcastic comment brought a derisive snort of laughter from the intruder.
"What? I knocked."
"Of course you did." The older Jedi agreed caustically. "Come on in Mace." He motioned the tall Jedi Councilmember in through the small door. Grinning at his Padawan the Master continued, "Oh, by the way our bags are over there." He pointed to a small stack of bags and items they were taking back with them to the Temple.
"I don’t know why Yoda sends me after you two. I think it's just to torment me." He muttered darkly under his breath casting a glare at the laughing Padawan and his Master.
"Now Master Yoda would never do that Mace and you know it," the long time friend chided, "he sends you after us because he thinks you don’t get out enough anymore. You know the life of a council member and all, you know how it is. He thinks the sunshine and fresh air will do you good."
"Enough of this, I don’t deserve this. No one deserves you two, that’s why Yoda stuck the two of you together. You know that don't you?"
Qui-Gon laughed realizing that for the first time in many years he had actually gotten to his old friend. "Oh come on Mace you love it when you can come and rescue us and you know it. You live for it"
"Right. Well at least I am not the one who has to account for another destroyed shuttle." Smirked the tall dark Jedi, "Uh, lets see, how many does that make now?"
"Two." The curt reply was thrown at the other as Qui-Gon picked up his things and followed Obi-Wan out to the waiting airspeeder. Their shuttle had been crushed in the explosion at the hangar and the Temple had had to send someone to retrieve them.
"No. No I think it was three."
"Three?!? How do you figure three?"
"No, he's right Master, it was three."
"Obi-Wan, whose side are you on?"
"But Master you said I must always tell the truth, you said that a Jedi.."
The older Jedi's glare cut him off and he started laughing at the exasperated look his Master threw at him to silence him. Mace rounded the speeder and opened the door, "He's right Jinn, three. Let's see there was Yoda's and let's *not* forget mine…" his voice trailed off as he sat down inside pulling the door shut.
"See what you've started," Qui-Gon reprimanded his giggling Padawan, "now we'll have to listen to this the entire way to the hangar bay."
"Sorry Master." Obi-Wan tried valiantly to still his laughter and then suddenly sobered, "It is good to hear his voice though and it is even better that you remember him."
The comment brought the older Jedi up short. He stopped getting into the speeder and straightened up, looking over the door at the young man who was throwing his bags into the backseat. When Obi-Wan turned back to look him, Qui-Gon gently touched his face, smiling softly at the student, "Yes it is Obi-Wan, yes it is. And I have you to thank for that." The smile under his hand widened even further as the Padawan held his gaze.
"Are you getting in or not?" Mace was leaning across the seat ducking down trying to see what was holding them up. Qui-Gon winced at the interruption causing his student to start laughing again. With a gentle push he motioned Obi-Wan into the speeder, "And Obi-Wan try *not* to add anything to this conversation do you understand me Padawan?" the laughter in the voice of the older Jedi belied the seriousness of the threat.
As he seated himself in the vehicle Mace picked up the conversation where he had left off, "Now like I was saying, first Yoda's, then mine and who did this one belong to?"
"Drive Mace, just drive." Qui-Gon motioned to the road before him silently warning his apprentice whose laughter was echoing through their bond revitalizing his heart and mind. He was glad to finally be going home.