Author: Rosabell PM
Qui-Gon doomed Obi-Wan to suffering when he ordered him to train Anakin, but the Force recalls a figure from the past, a being that takes an interest in Obi-Wan's light and decides to change his future. History takes a different turn. LSF Exile mentor.Rated: Fiction K - English - Supernatural/Family - Obi-Wan K. & Exile/Meetra Surik - Chapters: 6 - Words: 22,303 - Reviews: 44 - Favs: 61 - Follows: 81 - Updated: 05-22-11 - Published: 09-05-10 - id: 6300044
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
1: Meeting of Legends
Rain pelted down like stones from the sky, almost slamming to the ground. Qui-Gon wiped at his face as the wind blew the water into his eyes. He could use the Force to keep them at bay, but at the moment doing so felt like more effort than simply tolerating the sting. Besides, this gave him an excuse to pause for a moment and think about his options.
He had chased a warlord to the planet two days ago and was able to establish a blockade in order to prevent the scoundrel from escaping. The Force confirmed the wretch was still here, though among the thick of other scumbags of the galaxy that were gathered on this miserable rock, it was difficult to pinpoint where. They were far from the Republic core, near the Outer Rim just as the Republic's authority begins to wane, so while Qui-Gon had been able to assemble a search team to locate the warlord, they were far from efficient. The only thing that was working was the blockade, which was creating space traffic congestion due to heightened security, and the residents were beginning to complain about all this fuss over a single individual. As if things could not get worse, a devastating earthquake rocked one continent of the planet, followed by a powerful hurricane.
So far the blockade was still in place, but now it was a choice between the lives of thousands or the capture of one warlord. Though the Jedi Council will not be pleased, Qui-Gon was going to have to call off the blockade in order to hasten the arrival of supplies. This could mean millions of other lives lost, but that is something to worry about in the future, and Qui-Gon was a man of here and now.
Nonetheless, he was not looking forward to the talk he was about to have with the Council.
Aw come on, Master! If the Council weren't as stingy as they are, we wouldn't have so many interesting things to complain about!
He rubbed his eyes again. You are dead, Xanatos. Leave me be.
But his former padawan's laughter echoed in his mind, ceaselessly, and the more Qui-Gon tried to block it out, the more insistent the sound became.
Tell me you're proud of me, Master!
"Master Jinn?" Asked the captain, "Do you have any orders?"
"I need to notify the Jedi Council," Qui-Gon heard himself say without even remembering the decision to speak, "And inform them of what has transpired. This will only take a few minutes."
The captain looked dubious, perhaps because she did not believe that consulting the next action with the council would only take so long. However, she did not remark on it. "This way, please."
He was led out of the rain to the console, where the captain left him to himself. Wet and haggard, he summoned the Council, though only three Masters were present.
"Qui-Gon," Mace nodded at him, "Any updates?"
"I have no located him. There has been a disastrous earthquake. So far the blockade has blocked his escape, but I will need to call it off in order to accelerate supply delivery for the survivors."
The Force must have informed them as much, because none of the three looked surprised by the news.
"Unfortunate, this is," Yoda proclaimed, "However, certain, are you, that this is wise? Save thousands of lives, you may, by removing the blockade, but condemn millions of others, you will, by doing so."
"Ever notice how majority rules?" Xanatos observed while chopping vegetables, "Like, most folks in the galaxy are really dumb, so as a society we're all rather dumb because the majority of people dumb us down."
"Why do you think most of the galaxy is 'dumb'"?
"Look at the Senate. They're all idiots. And guess who voted them into office? The majority."
"They're not all bad…"
"Oh come on, Master. You know you agree with me. And what stinks is: if it comes to choosing between smart people and dumb people, we're compelled to save all the dumb people because they'd be larger in number. How's that for evolution?"
"That would be a future concern," Qui-Gon said. "You said yourself, Master Yoda; the future is always in motion. It would be no more right to sacrifice these thousands to save the lives of millions that may or may not need saving than to sacrifice those millions for these thousands."
Kit Fisto was about to speak, but Yoda cut him off by saying, "Sense, I do, that decided already, you have. Selected, you were, to take this mission, because your judgment has its own wisdom. If escape, the warlord must, than the will of the Force, it is."
Yoda had been saying that ever since Xanatos turned, as if that should comfort him. Will of the Force. Will of the Force. Qui-Gon believed in the will of the Force as much as any true Jedi, but that did not make the betrayal any less hurtful. Part of him refused to accept it, no matter how much he meditated and called upon the Force for comfort and guidance. He tried to distract himself by focusing on his missions, but it was difficult when in the past Xanatos had been a strong presence at his side.
"Thank you, Masters."
"May the Force be with you, Qui-Gon," Mace inclined his head, and the transmission was cut.
Qui-Gon sought the captain afterwards.
"Disassemble the blockade. There is no point having it when we need supplies so desperately."
"Have you contacted for aid?"
"Not yet, sir."
Heading out into the rain, Qui-Gon went to work helping rescue workers hull out survivors. The water made the earth muddy and treacherous, threatening to drown those trapped under the debris. He used his senses to locate life forms, levitate some debris out of the way for the workers, and avoid moving structures that could cause collapses that could kill the victims beneath. Thunder rumbled overhead as lightning flickered in the clouds. At least the storm might prevent the warlord from escaping the planet.
At some point he was informed that the blockade had been removed, but that was blurred in with all the desperate activity around him. There were so many injured, and though supplies and aid were beginning to arrive, there were still so many trapped. Some were already drowned, others suffocated, and still more crushed when their prisons crushed them as the watery mud slid under the foundations, giving way to collapse.
Isn't this just dandy, Master? Xanatos would have said, Rain and mudslides after an earthquake. All in a day's work, eh?
"Look out!" Someone yelled, and Qui-Gon felt a ripple in the Force. He jerked his head up to see a flaming aircraft dropping down from the sky like a meteor. Was that a supply ship? Did it run into the warlord?
"Take care of this here!" He yelled to a nearby worker, before springing into a dash. Other workers were already running towards the downed aircraft, but the Jedi was much faster and more sure-footed. The wreck landed right on top of a shattered building just as Qui-Gon arrived. He pulled the workers out of the way.
"Put the fire out! Put the fire out before it spreads!" He heard voices shouting, and indeed the thing was burning, despite the harsh downpour.
Qui-Gon took note of the aircraft's model. It looked like a transport freighter that had arrived two hours ago bearing resources. He could not sense anyone on board, which could mean everyone was killed. At least the freighter landed on debris the rescue workers had already searched, so no one else was killed. Using the Force, he snuffed out parts of the wreck, but it was huge and it would take him time to put it all out.
"Don't let it spread!"
"Get the pumps! Hurry!"
"Go go go!"
Then, in front of his astonished eyes, the flames simply disappeared.
He blinked, wondering if it was some trick of light, that the rain had obscured his view, but something else stood on top of the ruined freighter. Human, female, clad in white and gray, the figure reminded him of priestesses he had seen on one of the non-Republican planets he had been to with Xanatos. She wore a veil that covered her face and robes that resemble what Jedi wore, except as the wind gusted, he saw she had two layers of sleeves, one normal though wide and loose, and another beneath it that stretched out longer than her arm, like scarves. She was crouched as if she had just landed from a long jump, her arms stretched out to balance, and the skirts of her dress flaring out like a flower in bloom.
"Well met, Qui-Gon Jinn," Said the stranger, and she sounded as if she were speaking right next to him even though she was many meters away. Some of it, Qui-Gon realized, was coming from his own head. A Force-sensitive?
"And whom do I have the honor of speaking to?" He asked, hand inching toward the lightsaber at his belt. The workers had gone silent and still, staring at her in shock.
She moved with a speed that defied anything Qui-Gon had ever seen, and his hand closed around the lightsaber hilt, but she was only spinning to draw in her sleeves, which somehow rolled under her outer sleeves, as if they never existed. She straightened, standing tall and proper, and folded her hands over each other in front of her, like a regal queen.
"Much time has passed since I last walked among you," Said she, "Perhaps my name means little now. Yet once I was one of your kind, in the darker days of this galaxy. I wandered the same halls, wielded the same blades, uttered the same code. When I left the known worlds, I had left behind a legacy of Chosen Ones who made today possible. They were known to the Force as the Lost Jedi, and I was their teacher."
Qui-Gon had been confounded when she first spoke, but at the term "Lost Jedi", he realized what she was saying.
"Impossible." He shook his head, bewildered, "The Jedi Exile existed four thousand years ago. There is no way she could still be alive."
No one knew what became of the Jedi Exile. The records only indicate that she was responsible for slaying the Sith Triumverate, for establishing stability on Telos, Nar Shaddaa, and Dantooine, after which she left her students, who were part of the Lost Jedi, to rebuild the Jedi Order, in order to pursue darkness in the Unknown Regions. It was unknown whether she was successful, whether she survived and came back, but later records hinted that she likely never returned. Xanatos had always been fascinated by her, because she was directly responsible for saving his homeworld at its darkest.
But this was four thousand years ago!
"Alive, perhaps not," Said the woman who claimed to be the Exile, "But there are other forms of passing besides death, just as there are other forms of living besides life."
Qui-Gon blinked. He could sense the truth in her words, both in her claim that death was not the only end, and in her identity. Somehow, this is the Jedi Exile, even though this should be impossible.
With the Force, impossible, nothing is, Yoda always said. Qui-Gon doubted the aged master would predict this turn of events, though.
She was smiling. Qui-Gon knew, even though he could not see her face. Then she walked down the ruined aircraft as if stepping down a flight of stairs, rather than debris. The harsh wind whipped her gown out, as if tensing in anticipation.
Qui-Gon blinked again, noticing something even as questions whirled in his mind. "Why can't I sense you?" He asked.
She smiled. "I am not a creature of the Force any longer."
That did not make any sense at all.
"What are you? What are you doing here? How did you know my name? Why did you come back?"
"Peace," She raised her hand, cutting off his questions, and Qui-Gon suddenly felt like a young initiate rather than the master he had been and the knight he was now. "I will answer your questions in time, but for now, there are lives to be saved."
When Qui-Gon and the Exile finally withdrew from rescue efforts, the rain had stopped for hours and night had fallen. The warlord was probably long gone now, but Qui-Gon was so weary that he hardly wanted to hear the Exile's answers, let alone track the criminal down. For her part, the Exile seemed hardly human, almost ethereal. He never saw her face, for she kept the veil down at all times, but he could tell she was not tired in the least, and only withdrew because he did.
She helped him brew some hot cha as he changed into drier clothes. Her gown was not even wet. Perhaps four thousand years ago, they had Force techniques for that.
When he sat down at the table, she sat down on the opposite side, hands folded in front of her and head slightly bowed, as if thinking. A silence fell, one that might have felt more awkward to Qui-Gon than to the Exile, but he had to break it somehow.
"What is your name?"
She was silent for a long time. "I had long forgotten."
He hesitated. "What happened to you?" Did she meet darkness in the Unknown Regions? How was she even alive?
The Exile leaned back a little. "I was born a Force-sensitive. I was sent to the Jedi and trained as a padawan at the Jedi Enclave at Dantooine." Her voice had a nostalgic quality to it, and she spoke slowly, as if lost in memory. "There I studied under the tutelage of many masters, before the Mandalorian Wars broke out."
Qui-Gon knew this bit of history, at least, but he allowed her to continue without interrupting.
"I was always considered strong, with a great propensity to form deep friendships. Someone once warned me to be mindful of my powers, but I never truly understood what I was supposed to do. At the time, the Mandalorians were crushing the civilizations on the Outer Rim. The Jedi Council forbade us from interfering, but there were many of us who could not stand to watch as lives were lost. We joined the war against orders and fought for the Republic. I became a Knight…and a General."
In the Force, Qui-Gon could almost hear the sound of battle, blasters firing, people screaming, the ground groaning as grenades and mines exploded at people's feet. At the center of it all was a young woman, her face blurry and undefined, but with eyes, such beautiful eyes, sharp and intent, looking around her as if but an observer, even as she issued commands with her hands.
"What is war? War is death. The limits of mortal nature are tested in the heat of battle. How far is one willing to go to survive? To win? I watched my enemies fall. I watched my comrades fall. I watched my fellow Jedi, fellow initiates from the crèche, fellow padawans, fellow knights, fall."
The last word carried an ominous ring to it, and Qui-Gon knew she meant falling of a different kind.
"At Malachor V I was compelled to sacrifice millions of my men. I watched them die with the planet. I sensed their deaths in the Force. Each of them, brothers and sisters at arms. Storytellers in the harsh storms, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. I slew those I loved. It would have been kinder had I died with them, perhaps, but the Force is not the only power that guides destinies. I cut myself from it. I deafened and blinded myself to it, so that I would never again have to bear that kind of pain. That kind of…responsibility." Qui-Gon felt her eyes turn to him. "Then I returned to the Jedi Council for judgment."
Qui-Gon had read that the Exile unconsciously defended her sanity by cutting herself from the Force, but the emotion simmering in her voice silenced his questions. They could wait until later.
"At the time, I did not understand. The Force had forsaken me, it seemed. Then the Jedi Council, my teachers and colleagues, cast me away. They had forsaken me too. And in the aftermath of the Mandalorian Wars, I saw nothing left for me. All was empty and cold, a void, like the darkness of space. So I wandered alone, trying to find my way, trying to find a purpose, a chance to redeem for the choices I made that had devastated so many. Ten years later, the Force called me back."
The Sith Triumverate. Three Sith Lords that emerged after the war: Darth Traya, a former Jedi Master who was cast out of the Order because her former padawan, Revan, had turned to the dark side; Darth Nihilus, Lord of Hunger, and Darth Sion, Lord of Pain, two of her apprentices that turned against her. All three had been powerful Sith, and the Jedi Exile had slain them all, with the help of her Lost Jedi, her disciples that she gathered.
As if aware that Qui-Gon knew this, the Exile did not elaborate on this part of the story.
"Darkness loomed in the galaxy, as it always must from time to time, and I was recalled to life." She paused, as if considering this. "The Forced reached to me and I answered its summons. I did what must be done. I eliminated the darkness. Yet afterwards…there was still nothing for me left. The wars haunted my mind, past friends and family dead. Can you imagine, Master Jinn, what it was like to live among Jedi, to be a Jedi, to love and be loved by Jedi, and have nearly all the Jedi die, slow deaths to the dark side, quick deaths to their schemes, and know that all this time you are dead to them as they are dead to you, for you are the Jedi Exile that they themselves cast out! New friendships, new bonds, cannot replace the old, nor do seeping mortal wounds ever heal. So I left for the Unknown Regions to seek death."
She turned her head away. "I found transcendence instead."
Qui-Gon did not know what that meant, but he could guess. He heard the pain in her voice, an old hurt that had never been healed or comforted. Qui-Gon had been betrayed by his padawan, and that pained him incessantly; the Jedi Exile had been betrayed by her entire Order. Her pain must have been sheer agony.
"I am not a Jedi," She turned her head back to him. "Nor am I part of this galaxy any longer. However, the time has come for me to collect what was promised yet denied to me." Her words became slightly hard. "You will be the path I take. At dawn, we depart for Coruscant."
Qui-Gon stood. "I am on a mission. I am here to apprehend a warlord that threatens many systems. He leads an army that could devastate billions of lives."
"Your warlord was on the ship," Said the Exile.
Qui-Gon froze, not quite stunned yet, but struck speechless by this news.
"His passing will ensure the disbandment of his army," She continued, "You should receive reports soon, regarding the wreckage.
How did she…was she responsible—Qui-Gon thought back to how he first met her. Long flowing sleeves in the rain, the wind about her like it was gathered around her, the flames easing away like an invisible hand had smothered them. Well met, Qui-Gon Jinn.
How did she know my name?
"What are you, exactly?" Qui-Gon asked. "If you are not a creature of the Force, then what are you?"
He felt she was smiling, even though her veil hid her face.
"The Force is but one master among many. Within this galaxy, it reigns supreme. Outside, however, are other powers. After Malachor V, I was able to turn away from the Force, and what is more, it allowed me to go. I am a free entity, unbound by a single power, be it life, death, the Force, or other. I am an equal of planets and stars, the cousin of comets and asteroids. Should the need arise, you may consider me a Celestial."
Qui-Gon had never heard of Celestials, if indeed there was more than one. However, he knew that the Exile was very powerful, for the Force seemed to shudder at the very term, and bow, not quite in reverence, but in respect.
Was she light? Or was she dark? She had helped him save those victims when they were out in the rain. In the records it was stated that the Exile had never fallen, even when all the other Jedi she fought alongside did. Yet…what did she mean by collecting what was promised and denied to her? The Jedi do not collect debt. But she is not Jedi…
"Why do you want to go to Coruscant?" He asked at last.
The room seemed to darken, the light flickering as if they were candlelight, and a series of words flashed through his mind. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Sidious, Order 66, the Chosen One, the Prophecy, Darth Vader, Ben Kenobi, Train the boy! Tatooine, Naboo, Coruscant, Alderaan, Empire Empire Empire Empire Empire—!
"Darkness is coming." The Exile's voice sounded melodious, even as it cut through the visions in his head, swirls of colors and noise that he could not even begin to understand. She was standing already, though Qui-Gon did not see her rise, and her back faced him as she slowly left the room. "It waits for a crack in the shields of light. The Force called to me, and I answer its summons. You are a knight who follows its will. Take me to Coruscant, and allow Destiny to make its statement."