Author: B L Lindley Anderson PM
When Qui-Gon is suddely taken ill, the diagnosis is not entirely medical, or expected.Rated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi/Drama - Qui-Gon J. & Obi-Wan K. - Words: 21,287 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Published: 12-12-11 - id: 7630325
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By B. L. Lindley-Anderson
Mi'al was sitting at his office desk going over notes from some recent cases. He heard the door to the ante office swish open. At once he rose to see who had entered. He got there in time to see the flushed face of Qui-Gon Jinn just before he collapsed, unconscious, to the floor.
The healer rushed at once to his side as he yelled for assistance. Carefully he turned the large man over onto his back. Heart rate and respiration were rapid. His face was warm and clammy.
Kiel entered and knelt down opposite Mi'al. "What's wrong?"
"Not sure yet. He walked in and lost consciousness right away. Vitals are a little rapid." He laid his hand on the Jedi master's forehead. There was no reaction to the touch he sent through the Force.
"A gurney and some help. We need to get him to the exam room."
Although Qui-Gon was not heavy for his size, he was of large frame. So, it took an extra hand to help lift him. As Mi'al and Kiel aimed the gurney down the hallway, he called over his shoulder, "Contact Obi-Wan. Maybe he knows something about this."
The padawan rushed to the temple hospital as quickly as he was able. The communication from Mi'al's assistant alarmed him. The last he had seen of his master, he was fine. Actually, Qui-Gon had been teasing his apprentice about a critical mistake he had made in a sparring match that morning. A somewhat younger padawan, whom Obi-Wan normally bested easily had pulled a surprise feign and caught the apprentice with his guard down. He had endured a great deal of joking much of the day over losing to "a kid". The winner was not that much younger, but Obi-Wan knew the teasing was mostly because he had always defeated the kid in the past. His master even joined in with some light banter…mostly because he wondered how much pride there was in his padawan. Qui-Gon had been glad to see that Obi-Wan could take the teasing without getting upset.
A grin and merry blue eyes had been the last sight Obi-Wan had had of his master before they parted for Qui-Gon to talk with Yoda. Certainly if the Jedi councilor had noticed anything amiss with his former padawan, he would have not let it go unchecked. Whatever the problem, it seemed to have come on Qui-Gon quickly.
Obi-Wan was directed down the hallway of the hospital. Watching the door numbers, he quickly found the indicated exam room. Without knocking, he pushed the door open and hurried in.
Qui-Gon was still unconscious. His color was better and Mi'al was rechecking his vital signs. The sight of the Jedi in this condition set Obi-Wan at unease. He came to stand next to Mi'al.
"What's wrong with him?" he asked not taking his eyes off his prone master.
"I'm not certain yet Obi-Wan. How has he been today? Any signs of sickness?"
"No, none. He was joking and seemed fine last time I talked with him. Did you talk to Master Yoda? That's where he went after I last saw him."
"I didn't know that. Kiel, would you please try to get through to Master Yoda?"
Kiel nodded and left the room.
"You don't know what's wrong?"
"Not yet. We're still examining him. I just thought you might be able to shed some light on this. He was very flushed and warm when he got here. But you say he wasn't sick?"
"No. Nothing seemed different than usual."
That moment Qui-Gon's eyes fluttered open. He looked around confused. "What happened? What am I doing here?"
"I was hoping you could tell me that," Mi'al replied. "You don't remember? Did you feel sick? Lightheaded?"
"I have no memory of feeling sick. I was talking to Master Yoda…and now I'm here."
Obi-Wan's mouth dropped open. "You were supposed to talk to Master Yoda a couple of hours ago. You don't know what happened between then and now?"
"No," Qui-Gon replied suddenly concerned. "What's wrong with me Mi'al?"
"I don't know yet. Do you feel ill now? Any pain, nausea, dizziness?"
"I feel fine. I don't feel sick at all. Did you bring me here Obi-Wan?"
"No," Mi'al answered. "You came yourself. You walked in the door and fainted. Did you hit your head? Does it hurt?"
"No. There's no pain anywhere."
Kiel reentered the room.
"Were you able to talk to Master Yoda?"
"Yes Mi'al. He said that Master Qui-Gon seemed fine when he left. He didn't seem ill. Master Yoda said that Qui-Gon said something about going back to his quarters after that."
"Hmm…. I wonder if you made it?" Mi'al said to the horizontal Jedi.
"I don't remember," Qui-Gon responded as his forehead creased in thought.
"Obi-Wan, go see if you can find out. See if there's any indication of an accident or anything that may have made him sick. I'll continue my exam while you do that." Itmightprovidesomeusefulinformation…anditwillgiveObi-Wansomethingtodotokeephimoccupied.
"Yes Mi'al," Obi-Wan answered with an anxious glance at his master.
"Don't worry. We'll take good care of him."
The padawan hurried to the residential area of the temple. He was deep in thought as he turned a corner.
"Whoa now! Here slow down young padawan. What's your hurry?" Obi-Wan had collided with Master Jareel Noraan. He grabbed the young man to steady him. Next to him, Jareel's padawan, Daven was ready for his turn to rag Obi-Wan about his earlier defeat but closed his mouth immediately as soon as he saw the look on Obi-Wan's face.
Jareel saw it as well. "Is something wrong Obi-Wan?"
"Master Jareel," he blurted out. "Did you see Master Qui-Gon in the last hour or two?"
The tall blonde Jedi could sense the uneasiness in the apprentice. "No I haven't. What is it?"
Obi-Wan quickly repeated the account he had been given of Qui-Gon's entry to the hospital and subsequent loss of consciousness. "Master Qui-Gon remembers nothing. I was going to his quarters to see if there's any hint there of what may be wrong."
Jareel's face was grave. "No, I haven't seen him since this morning. Is there anything we can do to help?"
"I don't know," Obi-Wan shrugged.
"All right. You go on with your errand. Surely if he was wandering the temple, someone must have seen him. Hmm…. As soon as I can, I'll drop by the hospital. Are you all right?" Jareel put his hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder.
"Thank you Master Jareel," Obi-Wan managed a small smile. "But don't worry about me. Master Qui-Gon is the one who needs our help."
Obi-Wan's look around Qui-Gon's rooms revealed no sign of an accident or struggle. There was no food out that he may have gotten sick on. Nothing unusual. In other words, he found nothing. In frustration, he hurried back to the temple hospital. The apprentice spied Kiel heading away from him down the hallway. He hurried to him. "Kiel do you know anything yet?"
"Mi'al is in with Master Qui-Gon now. You may go in."
Obi-Wan walked in. The healer was looking over a chart in his hand. Qui-Gon glanced at the padawan questioningly.
"Well?" Mi'al queried.
"Nothing," Obi-Wan answered and added. "Nothing obvious anyway." Then the apprentice turned the question around. "Well?"
"I was just going over some things with Qui-Gon. The bottom line is that so far I can find nothing wrong. Everything I've checked thus far seems normal."
"Normal," Obi-Wan repeated in confusion. "Then how do you explain what happened?"
"Obi-Wan there are several things that can cause someone to faint without there being a real problem. For example, when you stand your blood pressure drops. Sometimes it can be enough of a dip, especially if one rises quickly, to cause loss of consciousness. Also, very low blood sugar can cause fainting…and Qui-Gon tells me he's had nothing since breakfast. And when I checked that, his level was a low normal. I'm willing to bet that's what the problem is."
"Would that cause him not to remember where he was for two hours?"
"Well, it wouldn't cause memory loss. However, it can cause confusion. I think that's what it is. Not that he doesn't remember, but just that he got confused. We gave him some juice while you were gone." He turned back to Qui-Gon. "How are you feeling right now?"
"I feel fine. No different than when I woke up," he shrugged. "So, now what?"
"Well, first let's let you sit up for a bit and see how you feel. I don't think it's anything serious."
The Jedi master sat up and turned to let his legs dangle from the side of the bed.
"Careful. If you feel faint try to give me some warning. I can't catch you but maybe Obi-Wan and I together can keep you from hitting the floor. Feeling OK? Dizzy? Weak?"
Qui-Gon said nothing and merely shook his head.
Mi'al studied him closely. He would have to use his perception to accurately judge the situation. Qui-Gon was not known for being cooperative with the healers at the temple. Too quickly he tried to shake off illness or injury as not a big deal.
The Jedi master was uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny of Mi'al and Obi-Wan. He looked from one to the other. "I'm fine. No dizziness, no lightheadedness, no weakness, no pain."
"OK, OK," Mi'al sensed Qui-Gon's impatience. "I feel certain it's just low blood sugar. You know what's coming. So, I'll give you the short version lecture. And I know what your response will be. I know you are busy and I know you are a chronic meal skipper when you get caught up in something." Then he wagged his finger in the Jedi master's face, "However, if this gets to be a habit, I know how to break it. I'll just hook you up to an IV every time. I'm sure that will make you think about your eating habits." Although the healer was serious, he tried to temper his lecture with a small smile. Sometimes he had to take drastic measures with these knights who seemed to think themselves invulnerable.
The Jedi tried to patiently endure Mi'al's speech. Best to just let him get it out of his system than attempt to argue with him. Mutely he sat and stared at the healer.
Mi'al recognized that look of forced patience. "Come on. Stand up. If you feel all right then I'll get you out of here. Slowly. Too fast and you're liable to faint from falling blood pressure," Mi'al grinned.
But Qui-Gon was not amused. And he began to wonder how much the healer was deliberately taking his time…just because Mi'al knew how much the Jedi disliked coming to the hospital. Not out of fear, just out of a dislike of all the probing, unless it was truly necessary.
"All right. You seem fine. You can go. I would suggest you take it easy for a bit and get something to eat. Just remember those IV's." Mi'al turned to leave but shot a grin at Obi-Wan.
It was contagious and the apprentice coughed so he would have a reason to put his hand over his mouth to hide his own smile.
With a "hmph" but no words, Qui-Gon began to put on his tunic and tabard. Then he sat down to don his boots but paused. He looked up at Obi-Wan who had been watching intently. Suddenly the apprentice was uncomfortable and started checking himself. What had he done?
"I was just wondering what was amusing," Qui-Gon answered the unasked question.
"Nothing Master." At once, he felt convicted. Lying to one's master, even a little white lie was forbidden. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to find amusement in your…ah, situation." He hung his head and tried not to smile again. He could feel the intense glare from those blue eyes even if he couldn't see it.
When Obi-Wan finally dared to look up, the blue eyes were twinkling merrily and his master was actually smiling. "I suppose it was funny…from your point of view. You'd like to see that, wouldn't you? Me at Mi'al's mercy."
Obi-Wan grinned…glad he could do it openly. "I'm glad you're all right Master," he said in sincerity.
"I suppose walking in and passing out is not the best way to say hello," Qui-Gon quipped as he stood. "Let's go."
It was a bit early for supper, but because he had missed lunch…and remembering the healer's threat, Qui-Gon opted for an early meal. Obi-Wan sat across the table from him, mindful of what his master had chosen to eat. The apprentice was going to make sure he had a proper meal.
The attention his padawan was giving his plate didn't escape the Jedi either. "Pass inspection?" he quipped.
"Uh, sorry," Obi-Wan blushed.
The meal was passed in small talk. Discussion of the day's activities, news around the temple, reports of knights just knighted and padawans just chosen. The two lingered after they finished eating. And just as Qui-Gon was about to decide to get up, a tray clanked to the table. He looked up to see Mi'al grinning down at him.
"Well, glad to see you followed my prescription."
"Don't credit yourself too much," Qui-Gon's face was impassive but his eyes gleamed. "I ate because I was hungry."
"Oh…well, I knew that would eventually happen. I was just wondering which would give in first…your stubbornness to defy me or your appetite."
The Jedi shot the healer a shocked look. It was lost on Mi'al though as he bent to the task of eating…but he knew he had hit the mark. He knew Qui-Gon…even better recently. They'd had much contact in recent months.
Qui-Gon didn't know what to say in reply. He had not expected such a remark from the healer. From Jareel maybe…but not Mi'al. So, he redirected the conversation. "A bit early for supper isn't it?"
"I suppose, but I missed lunch."
A look of surprise came across Qui-Gon's face, followed by a hint of indignation. Obi-Wan clamped his hand over his mouth…trying to be discreet.
"You don't practice what you preach do you?" indicted the Jedi master.
"I'm not the one that ended up on the floor though am I?" Mi'al was enjoying this. That much was obvious. But Qui-Gon was not going to give him the chance to have any more fun at his expense.
"If you will excuse me. I have things to do." He stood and lifted his tray.
"Oh…don't forget, you're supposed to be taking it easy the rest of the day. My officially logged prescription."
Qui-Gon stopped and looked back at Mi'al who was ignoring him. The Jedi knew what that meant. Since that was the healer's officially logged order, he would be checked up on to see if he were following it. He sighed and walked away.
Mi'al winked at Obi-Wan who was fighting back a smile. He grabbed his tray and followed his master.
The walk back to their quarters was quiet. Qui-Gon surprised at the sharp humor of the normally quiet healer and Obi-Wan trying to hide his amusement at the consternation of his usually unshakable master.
The Jedi master dropped his apprentice off by his adjacent quarters and retired to his own room. So, he had a little extra time to himself…a luxury. There were many things he would like to do. Which would be most enjoyable and relaxing? Removing his robe, belt and boots he sifted the possibilities and decided on a book and a cup of tea. Standing before his bookshelf Qui-Gon realized his collection was mostly for intellectual stimulation. Nothing wrong with that…but some of the books were not exactly for relaxing reading. But with so little time to engage in recreational reading, he had spent little effort or expense on "frivolous" books.
He chose a book of verse. Crossing to the sofa, he settled his lanky frame, putting up his feet. The tea was just right. He opened the book and began to read.
Feeling as if he were waking from a dream, Qui-Gon looked around him in confusion. He thought back…he was on the sofa in his quarters, reading. Now he was standing in the middle of a corridor. He glanced up and down the hall trying to orient himself. The training wing of the temple. The cool floor brought to his attention that he was barefooted. HowdidIgethere?
He turned to go back to his quarters. That's when he became aware of the great fatigue and weakness. He was dizzy and could feel his heart pounding. Whatever had happened earlier was obviously happening again. He decided to go to the hospital, but after a couple of steps his vision began to darken and he crumpled to the floor.
Slowly Qui-Gon became aware of light and sounds. He opened his eyes to see Mi'al and Obi-Wan looking down at him.
"What happened Qui-Gon? Do you remember?" Mi'al asked.
He thought back. "Something strange is going on. I was in my room reading…and then the next thing I knew I was in the corridor in the training area. I have no idea how I got there. It's almost like I woke up there."
"Did you? I mean…did you regain consciousness there?"
"No…not like what I think you mean. When I came to myself I was standing up. I wasn't on the floor."
"Hmm…." Mi'al's hand went to his chin. "You remember nothing between those events? Nothing at all?" his eyes narrowed.
"Nothing. It was literally like waking up."
"How did you feel? All right or were you sick or in pain?"
"I was weak and tired feeling." His forehead creased in thought. "I remember feeling dizzy. I was going to come here…but I guess I didn't make it?"
"No. Someone found you lying in the hallway and got you here. How do you feel now?"
"A little tired…but other than that I feel fine."
"It's not just low blood sugar this time is it?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Um, no. I don't think so."
Then a thought occurred to Qui-Gon. "What time is it?"
"Why?" Mi'al asked in confusion.
"Well when this happened earlier, apparently there were a couple of hours I couldn't account for. I was wondering if a similar thing happened this time."
"It's about nineteen hours." Mi'al noticed the slight widening of the Jedi's eyes. "When did all this happen?"
"After we left you in the dining hall, Obi-Wan and I came straight back to our quarters. The first thing I did was make some tea and sit down to read. I'm not certain how long I read…not very long I think. Then I woke up in the hallway."
"Hmm…. I don't know how long you were out in the hallway…but I think it's safe to say it wasn't a couple of hours. More time unaccounted for. No memory at all…not even a flash of an image?"
The Jedi made no reply but simply shook his head.
"OK. You seem fine for right now. First thing in the morning, we start a thorough check. You're staying here tonight. And don't even think of arguing." He turned to the apprentice, "Why don't you go on back and get some sleep? We all need a good rest."
"Don't you think of arguing either. Kiel is on duty tonight. He'll keep an eye on him. You need your rest. Don't make me call Yoda." The healer had no intention of bothering the Jedi master…but Obi-Wan didn't know that.
"OK," he replied reluctantly.
"I'm fine Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon offered.
"If you're fine why are you here?" Obi-Wan said before he could stop himself and immediately regretted it. "I'm sorry Master."
"It's all right Padawan," Qui-Gon smiled. "You do need some rest. Go on."
He turned and left without further words.
Mi'al turned back to the prone Jedi. He had a stern look on his face.
Qui-Gon held out his hands. "I'm staying put."
"See that you do. I don't want to have to come and peel you off another floor." He allowed a small smile. "If you don't know what you're doing…well, you could end up getting hurt. I've seen too much of you recently. Nothing personal…but I'd rather not be seeing you. At least not in here. Get some rest. I'll see you in the morning." AtleastIhopeIdon'tseeyoubeforethen.
As Mi'al was on his way out of the hospital he stopped for a moment to talk to Kiel. "Keep an eye on him. He keeps waking up in places that he doesn't know how he got to. I don't want him to wake up anywhere but in that bed."
Kiel merely nodded as he looked over his shoulder in the direction of Qui-Gon's room.
"See you in the morning."
Qui-Gon had to admit he was getting concerned. One incident he could dismiss…but a second one…the same day. Something was wrong no doubts. He thought back over when he was sitting on the sofa reading…then he was in the corridor. Try as he might he couldn't remember anything between those two events. It really was like he just woke up from a sleep.
The Jedi pushed away the worry that threatened him and settled himself in the calm of the Force. He was tired and welcomed the thought of sleep…he just wondered where he would wake up.
Obi-Wan pushed himself up from the chair he'd spent fifteen minutes in…had it even been that long? The holovid had not been able to keep his interest. Meditating was difficult at best. He couldn't stay focused. So, he was finding it hard to calm himself that way. He knew he was failing miserably at something he should have fairly well mastered at this point in his training.
That thought only served to further upset him. Drat!Whydon'ttheyhavewindows?Atleastsomethingtolookat.But he reminded himself there were holovids plenty for that purpose…and they had failed at their purpose of providing distraction. If he knew something…anything about what was going on he would feel better. Or so he tried to convince himself.
Master Qui-Gon was the only family he could claim. They'd been together since he was thirteen…and had come through a lot together. They were as close as a father and son might be. Yes, he was worried. Something was wrong with his master and he wanted to know what…how serious.
The entry door made a soft swish noise as it opened. Obi-Wan turned to see a large muscular blonde haired Jedi hurry in.
"Obi-Wan," Jareel began. "I got your message. I'm sorry I couldn't make it earlier. I had to set up Daven's training for today. Do you know anything yet?" he asked in concern.
"No. They've told me nothing," he replied in a highly frustrated tone.
The Jedi master could sense Obi-Wan's feelings. The worry lines on his face melted away and he put a hand on the padawan's shoulder…now he could feel the anxiety clearly. "We're a pair aren't we? Shouldn't be letting our feelings rule us like this. It's hard not to though, isn't it?"
Obi-Wan met the kind light blue eyes and just nodded mutely.
"Come, sit down. You say he had another episode last night?"
"Yes." The apprentice quickly related the story to Qui-Gon's close friend.
Jareel didn't like what he was hearing, but he knew how important it was for him to try to comfort Obi-Wan right now.
"Mi'al's the best. Whatever the problem is, I'm sure he will find it quickly. Your master is in good hands."
"Yes, he is."
At that moment, the object of their respect entered the room and both Jedi came to their feet at once.
"Jareel, good to see you," Mi'al said. "Have a seat."
"What's wrong?" Obi-Wan insisted. Jareel sat down, pulling the apprentice down next to him.
"I don't know. I can't find anything wrong."
"Everything I have looked at is fine. There's nothing wrong with that man. I can't find any reason this should be happening to him."
"But you haven't finished your exam," Jareel inferred.
"Correct. There are still things to be done. But I wanted to give you an update…somehow I thought that Obi-Wan wasn't willing to wait much longer. I was expecting to see him walk into Qui-Gon's room."
"It's not because I didn't think of it. I just figured I'd probably be in the way."
"Yes, thank you. Well," Mi'al stood, "I'll let you know what else I find…but so far I have found nothing wrong with Qui-Gon."
The two Jedi watched the healer walk out.
"Nothing wrong," Obi-Wan repeated. "Something's got to be wrong…or this wouldn't be happening."
"Well, he did say he has other things to check out."
"Which means more waiting."
"I'll wait with you young padawan," Jareel pounded him on the shoulder. "I'm sure there's something we can do to keep us distracted…without causing trouble." His attempt to cheer Obi-Wan worked a little…a small smile.
Then a voice said, "If distract you Jareel does, be sure you can there will be trouble."
"Master Yoda," Jareel said in mock hurt.
"Work with me that will not," declared the diminutive Jedi with a tap of his gimmer stick. "Know you too well I do." Then becoming serious he said, "Found out what Qui-Gon's problem is has Mi'al?"
"No Master," Jareel replied. "He just told us that so far he can find nothing wrong."
"Hmm…. Find out he will if anyone can. Seen him have you? All right is he?"
Jareel turned to look at Obi-Wan. "I saw him this morning before Mi'al began his examination. He said he was feeling fine," Obi-Wan replied then added, "but that's what he said yesterday afternoon."
"Worry not Apprentice," Yoda replied. "Help him Mi'al will. Keep me informed you will." He turned and left without waiting for acknowledgement.
Obi-Wan had exhausted himself with his struggles to push worry away and to try to stay connected with the Force. And Jareel had tired himself in his attempts to help the padawan stay relaxed and to keep him distracted. However, the saying that no news is good news was certainly in effect. Finally Mi'al came out to talk with them once again.
"Well, I suppose I should be happy that I have found nothing wrong…but it is frustrating to have good reason to think something is wrong and not be able to find it."
"You've found nothing wrong with Master Qui-Gon," Obi-Wan said incredulously.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing to account for whatever this is that's going on with him," Mi'al held up his hands in surrender.
"So, you are at a loss to explain it?" Jareel tried to bring a calming tone to the conversation.
"Right now…yes. On the other hand, he has not had another episode since last night." He paused as he considered. "I don't know if it's something that is short term and has already passed." He knew his other thoughts would not be accepted easily by the apprentice. "I have also considered that it might not be physical."
"You mean you think it might be a mental problem?"
"It's a possibility." He raised his hand before Obi-Wan could speak. "I'm not saying he's mad. You've talked to him. He's rational, but it still could be a psychological disorder. That's what I'm going to consider next. With these periods of time he can't account for I would tend to think it might be neurological. But I've ruled that out." He paused for a moment. "There could be something that his mind is trying to block out. That may be why he can't remember. Anyway…that's tomorrow's work. I think we've tired him and ourselves out for today."
"Can I see him?" Obi-Wan asked anxiously.
"Yes…but not for long. He has had a long day and needs some rest."
The Jedi master studied the ceiling as his mind wandered. He felt there was nothing wrong with him. There was nothing he could sense in the energy signature of his body in the Force that seemed out of the ordinary. Still he was not a healer and had not been trained in that manner, so his knowledge of the subject was cursory. Therefore he had submitted himself to Mi'al's examinations. He wasn't sure whether to be glad that the healer had found nothing. That meant the explanation for what was causing his blackouts was still unknown.
The door to his room opened and he sensed a familiar presence. Obi-Wan entered accompanied by Jareel.
"Padawan," Qui-Gon said in a calm voice. He could feel the tension in his apprentice. "Jareel, you old space dog. Who let you in here?"
"Well, they said you were causing problems…so they knew they needed somebody who could keep you in line."
Qui-Gon smiled. He was glad Jareel had been with Obi-Wan. If anyone were able to distract the apprentice, it would be his old friend.
"So, I suppose Mi'al has told you?"
"Yes," Jareel said more seriously. "He can not explain this."
"Is that good news or not…that he has found nothing wrong?"
Obi-Wan lay his hand on his master's arm. Qui-Gon reached out through their link and tried to reassure him. "The good news is that it hasn't happened again," Qui-Gon smiled at his apprentice. "Perhaps it won't."
"You're feeling all right?" Jareel asked.
"Yes, fine. I feel fine."
"This is most strange."
"Try seeing it from this side old friend."
"It's enough to see it from here, Qui-Gon. I'm sure it's not comforting to be on your side of it."
Mi'al poked his head in. "I'm officially running you two out."
"Arg! Space pirate," Jareel spat out while grinning at Qui-Gon.
"He runs this place like a prison Jareel," Qui-Gon replied. "Escape while you can. If he captures you, you'll never escape. Look at me." The Jedi master winked at his apprentice. He was glad to see Obi-Wan smile.
Mi'al came all the way in. "Out."
Qui-Gon gave Obi-Wan's hand a quick squeeze. "It'll be all right Padawan."
Obi-Wan turned to go. Jareel leaned in quickly, "I'll watch after him." Then he turned to go.
"Thanks old friend."
The apprentice hurried through his breakfast. He wanted to be able to see Qui-Gon before Mi'al started whatever examination he had in mind. Mi'al was pleasant…but no-nonsense when it came to his job. Obi-Wan knew that once the activities began the healer would want no interruptions until he was finished. No matter that sometimes there was a lot of down time between various tests he might be doing…he wanted his patient ready and no one in the way when he was prepared.
So Obi-Wan grabbed the miniature grain loaf from his plate to eat on the way to the hospital. He wondered if his master had had another bout during the night. Frustration was eating at him. The apprentice knew that Mi'al was the best healer at the temple…still Obi-Wan wondered why he was having so much trouble finding out what was going on. But, he reminded himself,youhavenotbeentrainedinthehealingarts…soyoudon'tunderstandallthatmaybeinvolved. He sighed and hurried on.
Obi-Wan entered the hospital and headed straight for Qui-Gon's room. He wasn't sure if he wanted to see Mi'al or not. The apprentice was anxious to know how his master had fared through the night…but he didn't know when Mi'al would be getting underway with the day's exam and didn't want to be run off too fast. There was no sign of the healer though as he neared the room.
Pushing open the door, he also reached out through the link with his master. He was glad to find Qui-Gon calm…that was a good sign.
"Good morning Master."
"Hello Obi-Wan. Come on in. Have a good night?"
"That's my line," the apprentice grinned. "Did you?"
"Yes, I did. Quite restful."
Qui-Gon smiled. "No, no more…"
"So," the Jedi master began as he crossed his arms behind his head. "Did Jareel regale you with tales of his daring deeds last night?"
The padawan grinned a lopsided grin. "Did you tell him to take care of me last night?"
"No. I didn't."
Obi-Wan sensed it was true, but looked doubtful anyway.
"He volunteered. I didn't discourage him though," Qui-Gon admitted. "You did seem upset. I could rest easy knowing someone was there for you."
He hadn't thought of it that way. "Yes, he did tell some pretty tall tales. I never got the chance to ask Daven how…accurate they were."
The Jedi's blue eyes twinkled as a smile came across his face. "Are you accusing Master Jareel of lying?" he said in mock amazement.
Even though the padawan knew his master was teasing, still the accusation made him think twice. "No! Of course not. I just thought that some of the things he told sounded…a little…amazing even for a Jedi."
Qui-Gon chuckled. "He does have a way of making things sound better than they really are. He would have made a good salesperson."
The apprentice laughed as he tried to picture the hulking Jedi trying to make a hard sell on a used speeder.
"What's funny this early in the morning?" Mi'al inquired as he entered.
"Not a morning person?" Qui-Gon asked innocently.
"Watch it. You're still in my clutches," he grinned at the Jedi. Then turning to Obi-Wan, he said, "Good morning. Did you manage any sleep last night?"
"Yes I did," Obi-Wan said slightly affronted and then admitted, "With a little help."
A look of horror came across Qui-Gon's face. "Jareel didn't sing you to sleep, did he?"
Obi-Wan blushed and Mi'al laughed. "He obviously is feeling well this morning. Maybe I should just kick him out and save myself from his abuse. OK…Obi-Wan…"
"I know…the waiting room."
Mi'al patted his shoulder. "I'll try to give you more frequent updates."
"Please." The apprentice met Qui-Gon's eyes and then turned to go. He could hear the Jedi master's voice clear and strong. It'llbeallrightPadawan.FocusontheForcenotonyouranxiety.
It had been another long day of waiting…and trying not to worry. Jareel had faithfully shown up to keep the vigil with Obi-Wan. He was grateful for the support…and for the loyalty to his master. The apprentice was surprised to notice the Jedi seem to struggle harder today with his patience. But at the same time he was somewhat encouraged by it too. It made him feel not as much of a failure in his less than successful striving.
As promised, Mi'al did send news of his findings more often. However, there was still little to tell. Again and again, he was coming up dry. Qui-Gon was in good health physically and psychologically. The healer didn't know whether to feel relieved or frustrated. He was glad to find out the Jedi's health was good…but something had to have caused those two episodes that Qui-Gon had experienced. Whatever it was though, he couldn't figure it out.
Mostly he had been sending updates by Kiel or another assistant. Late in the afternoon, however, he came to the waiting room. The two apprehensive Jedi sat up and gave an expectant look. Mi'al settled into a chair facing them and sighed. "I have no idea what's causing this problem. I can find nothing out of the ordinary…certainly nothing that would cause this. He is sound in body and mind."
Obi-Wan and Jareel stole a glance at each other. Obi-Wan was confused. "But there must be something wrong…to cause these black outs, right?"
"I have seen some strange things in my career, Obi-Wan. Things I could not explain…even taking into account the sometimes mysterious workings of the Force. This is one of those things. It's been almost two days and it hasn't happened again. It may not…or it may happen again in the next five minutes. I don't know."
"So that's it?"
"I can't treat something if I don't know what to treat. Yes, that's it…for right now. Maybe it's gone…then great. If it happens again…we'll bring him back and start over. That's it."
The apprentice was frustrated…but knew there was nothing he could do about the situation. "So, are you releasing him?"
"I'm going to keep him over night…just for a little more observation. He can go in the morning. And yes, you can see him. Just remember he's had a long day." Mi'al stood, patted Obi-Wan's shoulder and turned to go.
"The strangest thing," declared Jareel. "If I didn't know better I'd swear Qui-Gon is playing games with us."
"Do you really think that?" Obi-Wan was incredulous.
"No," Jareel answered with a small smile. "He might pull something like that on me…but he wouldn't tie up Mi'al and the hospital just for a laugh on ol' Jareel. I suppose I joke too much. It's my way of dealing with things that make me uncomfortable…and this makes me uncomfortable."
"Come on. Let's go see the old space dog."
For the third straight day Obi-Wan began his day in the waiting room of the temple hospital. He was more at ease today though. Qui-Gon had gone through another night without the recurrence of the…whatever it was. He was still very frustrated to not know what had been happening…but tried to put that away and just be glad that now his master seemed fine.
"Are you waiting on me?" Qui-Gon entered with a smile.
A huge grin broke across the apprentice's face. "It's sure good to see you vertical again."
"You have an interesting way with words," Qui-Gon laughed. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
The Jedi master was frustrated when he received a message from Yoda telling him to take a day to rest.
"There's nothing wrong," he said to Obi-Wan. "Why is everyone treating me like I'm made of glass?"
"Maybe it's just because of all the mystery about what happened…not being able to explain it. No one knows if it's going to happen again. Master Yoda is just thinking of you I'm sure."
"Yes, I suppose you're right," the Jedi sighed. "However, Mi'al has cleared me to return to my normal duties…and so I shall. Come on. We're going down to the training area."
"Master, do you think you should?"
"Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon began in frustration. "There's nothing wrong…"
"I know Master…but what if Master Yoda finds out?"
The Jedi grinned, "He'll probably just crack his stick on the floor and say 'Defiant he is!'"
The pair laughed and Obi-Wan followed as his master started down the corridor.
Qui-Gon was explaining a maneuver to his apprentice before they attempted to execute it. In the middle of his erudite and finely illustrated, by hand gestures, explanation, a loud voice boomed out.
"What are you doing here?"
The Jedi turned to see a hulking blonde figure standing hands on hips.
"Doing my job, Jareel, which I could do better by the way without interruptions." Qui-Gon's voice sounded severe, but his merry blue eyes gave him away.
However, Jareel was not in a kidding mood. "You aren't supposed to be here."
"Really," the Jedi replied dryly. "When did you get your training in healing? Mi'al cleared me to return."
"But Yoda did not." Jareel folded his huge arms across his chest.
"Yoda's not a healer either."
"No…but he is your master."
"And you are not." Qui-Gon had to admit he was enjoying antagonizing his friend.
Seeing he was getting nowhere, Jareel turned on Obi-Wan. "And why didn't you stop this?'
The apprentice just shrugged and replied, "Have you ever tried to stop a rancor?"
Jareel turned and walked away. He muttered, "Obstinate wompa!"
Qui-Gon laughed. "He should know obstinacy when he sees it! Now, back to what we were doing."
Master and apprentice engaged in a sparring session. Obi-Wan was performing well and Qui-Gon decided to step up the pace a bit. He launched an abrupt, aggressive offensive, which caught his padawan by surprise. He leaped backward, "Ouch!" A burn on the arm. Obi-Wan looked up at his master and noticed the mischievous gleam in his blue eyes. He caught on and immediately engaged Qui-Gon. However, his opening was too rushed and the master took advantage of his mistake, easily pushing him backward because Obi-Wan was trying to avoid another strike from the saber.
Obi-Wan stepped back a couple of paces, still holding his light saber up, and took a couple of breaths to calm and center himself. Then he stepped back into his master's range.
"Good, good. Not too fast, not too aggressive. Let the Force lead you, don't try to outrun it," Qui-Gon lectured—then he attacked again. Obi-Wan easily deflected the blow and followed with a strong offensive series of feigns and thrusts. Qui-Gon was smiling at the structure of the padawan's attack. He was becoming quite a good swordsman.
The now high pace and very intense fight had drawn the attention of other Jedi in that area of the cavernous facility. Because they were beginning to have trouble keeping their apprentices' attention, masters used the display for teaching purposes, commenting on the blows and pointing out mistakes. However, the longer it went on, the teaching fell away and genuine curiosity about who would prevail took over.
"Arg!" Qui-Gon yelled as Obi-Wan landed a blow, and a burn. The watching padawans cheered and Obi-Wan grinned. More and more Jedi were coming to watch the session. And the bigger the audience, the more intense the battle became.
Qui-Gon began driving his apprentice backward with a new attack and the Jedi masters applauded the move. But Obi-Wan somersaulted over his master's head and Qui-Gon didn't turn quickly enough to ward off the blow that landed to his torso. He let out a yelp at the burn and there was a howl of appreciation from the padawans.
Both were tiring, but neither would concede. It was going to be a fight to what would be a killing blow had the light sabers been on full power. Qui-Gon was clearly enjoying it. Loose strands of grey and brown hair stuck to the rivulets of sweat pouring down his face.
As they circled, Obi-Wan swiped at the sweat that was burning his eyes. The Jedi master took advantage and lunged forward fully expecting to land a blow…he had a clear shot. However, the padawan was able to recover quickly enough. Qui-Gon was fully committed to his move and couldn't pull back. Obi-Wan saw this and brought his blade in a sideways motion. Another blow to the torso.
Obi-Wan's appreciative peers hooted at the master's mistake. But Qui-Gon's focus was only on his padawan and the distraction bothered him none. He feigned and Obi-Wan moved to parry. Qui-Gon pulled back. A hesitation and he feigned again…the same move. Again Obi-Wan moved to parry but Qui-Gon pulled away. Without hesitation, the Jedi master launched the same move a third time and Obi-Wan judged he was going to complete the maneuver this time…so he committed himself completely to his parry. But Qui-Gon had fooled him totally. As the apprentice parried, the master changed his maneuver and moved abruptly forward. The light saber went clattering from Obi-Wan's hand and he fell backward, flat on his back. Immediately Qui-Gon had the point of his light saber hovering above the apprentice's throat.
Obi-Wan looked up, expecting a light mocking grin. Instead, his master's eyes were dark. He held his hand out and pulled Obi-Wan to his feet. A round of applause sounded for both combatants.
"You're disappointed in me Master?"
"Not disappointed Padawan. You fought quite well. You are learning much. However, that last volley concerned me. Had that been an actual fight, you would be dead now."
"I'm sorry Master. I make no excuses. I was tired. My concentration did lapse."
"It was a rather long battle wasn't it?" Now he was grinning.
"Yes…but no excuse for my failure."
"We practice so much because that is the only way to learn and to build stamina. I was concerned…but I don't intend to demean you. Your performance was quite good. I have the marks to prove it."
"Hmm…marks you should not have."
The Jedi looked around…and down, to the diminutive green master who leaned against his gimmer stick.
"Should not have. Do you imply I am perfect my Master?"
"Humor." Yoda cracked his stick against the floor. "Not the place for humor is the training area. Mindful you must be of what you teach…or learn here."
"I'm sorry Master Yoda."
"Hmm…. Marks you should not have because be here you should not."
"But Mi'al has certified me fit for my duties Master."
"Higher rank is the healer than your master? Hmm?"
"More healing training has my Master than Mi'al?" Qui-Gon tried not to smile…but Obi-Wan could see the twinkle that always came to those blue eyes when his master was amused.
Yoda again smacked his gimmer stick on the floor. Then he turned and walked away while he muttered, "Defiant he is! Need that he does not!"
Now Qui-Gon was smiling…and Obi-Wan allowed himself a small smile, mindful that if Yoda turned, he would be spotted.
"Let's go clean up."
As they sat at their mid-day meal a familiar voice sounded behind Qui-Gon.
"You obviously are doing well." Mi'al came up and sat down at their table.
"I'm fine," Qui-Gon looked puzzled. "Why do you ask?"
"I'm not asking. I'm stating. You must be doing well."
Qui-Gon didn't understand where the conversation was going so he said nothing.
"I heard about you little show this morning."
"Oh," understanding finally dawned. "That."
"If you are able to 'kill' your padawan on the same day you were released from the hospital…you must be doing well. So I guess I shouldn't be worrying about you."
"How did you hear about that?"
"News travels fast around here," Mi'al said vaguely. "Especially about you."
"Oh, you must have been talking to Master Yoda."
"I didn't mention any names."
"You didn't have to. I already know his opinion about my sparring today…after being released from the hospital."
Mi'al was trying to hold back his smile. "Did you really say that to him about knowing more than me? And…did you say it…the way he talks."
The Jedi grinned. "Yes…to both questions."
"He's right. You are defiant."
"Just doing what I feel is right."
"I've heard that about you."
"You already know I'm stubborn…you say so yourself. So what's this all about?"
"Just giving you a chance to practice your patience." Then more seriously. "You are doing all right?"
"Fine," Qui-Gon smiled. Then he glanced at Obi-Wan who had been watching the whole scene with a bemused look on his face. "Well…there are a few bruises and burns."
"And you didn't come to me about them?" Mi'al replied in mock surprise. "I'm hurt."
"No, you're not…but you will be."
"Oh, then I'd better be off then." He slapped Qui-Gon on the back. "Let me know, OK?"
"Let him know?" Obi-Wan repeated.
"If anything is wrong," Qui-Gon finished.
The Jedi master spent the afternoon in a different instructional mode. Practicing meditative techniques and exercises to learn better control of the Force. Then something a bit more literary…a little history and a larger dose of current events for the padawan. As a Jedi, he would be called upon for mediation purposes and other ambassadorial functions. So, these also were part of his training.
It had been a long and fruitful afternoon. Qui-Gon was glad to be back at his job as teacher and mentor. He couldn't totally put out of his mind the events of a couple of days ago…but he knew dwelling on it would achieve nothing. Therefore, he put his whole energies into the tasks at hand. Much better than being poked, prodded and questioned to death.
Obi-Wan, too, had reflected upon how nice it was to be back in his routine…and to see his master apparently feeling quite well. Yes, after the workout he'd had that morning, there was little doubt in his mind that Qui-Gon was quite fit. He had analyzed his attack…and his mistake repeatedly. And he kept coming to the same conclusion. He had made a simple miscalculation…due to his fatigue.
It occurred to the Jedi master that Obi-Wan's mind didn't seem to be quite on what he was saying just now. He stopped speaking. No reaction. The apprentice had not noticed that he had quit. "Obi-Wan." Nothing. "Obi-Wan." So, he reached out with his thoughts.Hmm…sothat'swhatheispreoccupiedwith.
If this were a real battle, you'd be dead right now.
Obi-Wan started. Then he realized where that had come from. And he realized he'd been daydreaming. "I'm sorry Master."
"You must be mindful of what is going on around you. Someone could easily sneak up on you if you get that lost in thought. Dwelling on this morning?"
"Uh…yes," he could feel his cheeks flush. "I was just trying to decide where I went wrong."
"I think you are right in your assessment. You made a simple mistake in your fatigue. I don't think it's anything more than that."
"You feel badly about that?"
"Well, it shouldn't have happened."
"You were tired. There's nothing you can do to change that. Your body can only handle so much. When your body begins to let you down, rely on your mind. Be clever. Think you're way through. And be mindful…of everything you do…not just sparring. I think we've had enough for one day. Ready for a break?"
"Yes," Obi-Wan breathed a sigh of relief. Not that he disliked studying…but it had been a long day. He wondered at the length of his instruction today…quite a bit longer than usual. He idly wondered if Master Qui-Gon was trying to make up for missed time…or if he were trying to prove to everyone that he was indeed all right.
"Why don't you go along to the dining hall Padawan? I'm going to my quarters."
"Are you OK Master?"
"Yes. Just tired. I just want to have a quiet evening. I guess we have had a long day, haven't we?" He stood and stretched his long and lanky frame. Placing a hand on Obi-Wan's shoulder as he walked by he said, "I'll see you in the morning."
The apprentice was glad for the touch. He could tell much from it. When Qui-Gon mentioned going back to his quarters instead of going to eat, Obi-Wan feared it was an excuse because he might be feeling bad. But through that momentary contact he could tell there was no tension or anxiety in his master…as if he were worried that another one of those attacks might be coming on. Qui-Gon just seemed tired…but calm.
The Jedi master returned to his room and had the intention of relaxing for a few moments on the sofa before he settled into some reading or other relaxing pursuit for the evening. However, when he lay on the couch, he quickly fell asleep and didn't stir until the following morning.
Qui-Gon opened his eyes and was momentarily confused. Ohno.Notagain. But then he looked around and was relieved to find he had fallen asleep on the sofa…that's why he wasn't in his bed.
He rose slowly and stretched. He groaned a little at the soreness that was the reminder of the sparring match he'd had with Obi-Wan yesterday. It was a little more…active than he had intended to get with the padawan. But as Obi-Wan seemed to be able to hold his own, the Jedi master had just continued to accelerate the attack. Even though his apprentice had made a simple mistake, he was still quite impressed with how well he had fought. Quite well indeed. He headed at once for the bathroom…and a long hot shower.
It was another typical day of training at the temple…if any day could be called typical. There were always challenges, new things to learn. The masters would not let their learners become complacent. Yoda had spoken wisely when he said, "if routine you expect, disappointed you will be." And it did keep the apprentice's on their toes. They knew they couldn't take anything for granted. There was a point to this lesson however; it taught them to always be alert and mindful of all things about them.
Jareel had his own version of this lesson. One which amused the apprentices…and confounded the masters. Whenever he was in the training facility, at any moment he might leap out of a concealed place and challenge the nearest padawan with his light saber…no matter what that padawan might be doing…including training with his own master. That is why the other Jedi masters were less than enthusiastic. They viewed it as a very unnecessary distraction to their own teaching. The hulking Jedi, however, claimed it was realistic. "Outside the temple, one never knows if danger lies beyond the next turn. This helps in teaching them to be alert."
Masters Yoda and Windu had had this discussion with Jareel on several occasions. While they could see his point, they also tried to persuade him how unsettling it was to the teaching atmosphere. He always promised to consider their view…and within minutes of returning to the huge training facility, the Jedi would be leaping into the path of an unsuspecting padawan…blonde hair flying and blue eyes blazing.
And yet Jareel never neglected his own padawan. He only took off on his misadventures when Daven was involved in some aspect of training that did not require immediate attention from his master…such as during his general workout. Daven always knew what his master was about however, and tried to maintain a position that would give him a good vantage point of the gym.
Qui-Gon had had many laughs over this…different…method of teaching. It was the most fun when a new padawan was treated to Master Jareel's "instruction". The shock and fear on a young face at the sudden appearance of the fierce looking man was enough to make even Yoda smile…although he always denied it. "A sneeze I felt coming on."
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had finished their session in the gym and were on their way to the showers when the Jedi reached out and stopped the apprentice. He nodded toward a master and padawan slowly stepping through a defensive move. Since they were going through it slowly, step-by-step, the master had taken his learner to the side, off the main floor. A stack of mats was near by…and poking out Qui-Gon could see that telltale silvery-blonde hair. Obi-Wan grinned and folded his arms across his chest as he waited for the show.
"Don't enjoy it too much Padawan. Remember the first time he surprised you?"
"How can I forget? Even if I do, he reminds me often enough," the apprentice's eyes gleamed in merriment.
At the perfect moment…as the apprentice was backing away from his master, Jareel leaped out, light saber held high. "Defend yourself young one!" But the fright had been too much. The startled padawan had dropped his light saber and was practically running from the crazed Jedi. Laughter sounded around the gym. As it died away a tap, tap, tap could be heard.
"Jareel! Speak with you I will!" Yoda was fuming.
"Well Padawan, this might be a good time to go," Qui-Gon said to Obi-Wan.
"Are you kidding? This will be as much fun as Jareel's attack."
The Jedi frowned at his apprentice. The grin suddenly melted from Obi-Wan's face and he turned to follow his master…but kept looking back to see Yoda pointing his gimmer stick up into the tall Jedi's face as he reminded him of their previous talks.
Qui-Gon tried to keep his instruction time with his padawan varied and unpredictable. Some subjects they covered were a little dry he knew. Obi-Was was an attentive and willing student…even on the drier subjects. So, his master tried to reward and encourage that. Because some of the previous afternoon's instruction had been very intense, Qui-Gon decided something lighter was called for this afternoon.
After their noon meal, Obi-Wan was surprised to find his master leading him to the temple garden. They entered the heart of it and sat on a bench. The maze of plants was as varied as the planets they came from. Leaf shapes from ovals to odd irregular shaped foliage. Any color that could be imagined was represented here. The flowers were beautiful in their diversity…and some had a surprise with their beauty. Obi-Wan had learned that at a young age. Some of the loveliest blooms in the garden held long and sharp thorns. He had paid the price more than once for plucking that which was not to be plucked.
He had mentioned to Bant once when they were allowed alone in the garden for the first time that he was sure the masters put the thorns on the flowers purposely to keep the initiates from picking them. The gardens were highly prized…and highly protected. The blooms and the foliage were not to be separated from their plants. So as a little child it seemed logical that the painful barbs were the way of punishing those who dared defy the rule.
The recollection brought a smile to Obi-Wan's face. This was not lost on his master.
"Yes Master…many happy memories of this place."
"Good. That will aid what I hope to impress upon you here. Close your eyes. Shut out everything and just feel." He waited a moment to allow the padawan to get in touch with his feelings. "The living Force is strong here. I know you've been told that…and I know you've felt it. But don't pass off what I'm saying as repetition of what you've heard before. Try to see it as something new. Be aware of things that you haven't sensed before. But don't do anything active. Just be completely passive. Don't reach out. Allow it to come to you. Be completely open…be a receiver of what the living Force brings. Soak it up."
He observed Obi-Wan's face. He could see the facial muscles relaxing; his expression becoming more serene. Also the Jedi could sense what Obi-Wan was feeling. Quietly his whispered, "Very good Padawan. Allow it to happen." Then he closed his own eyes to drink deeply of the living Force himself.
As he searched through his body for any tension that he needed to let go of, it came to the front of his mind that he had not had another one of those black out episodes. Idly his mind wandered back to them and he tried to bring forth any memories that he could…but there was nothing there. This was a source of frustration to him. The Jedi tried to push it away when the frustration rushed in, but it seemed important to him to try to remember. He was torn between wanting to think on it, but knowing he needed to let go of the frustration.
Here he was trying to give Obi-Wan a lesson on something he struggled hard with…being more in touch with the living Force. And Qui-Gon himself couldn't keep his focus. He brought his mind back to his surroundings…the garden. Thinkonthegarden.Followyourownadvice.Bepassive.Allowittocometoyou. But he was still having trouble keeping his connection with the Force. What was this all about? Why was he having so much trouble?
"Master?" Obi-Wan's gentle whisper interrupted his thoughts.
He opened his eyes…a little annoyed that the apprentice was not practicing. "Yes Obi-Wan?"
"Are you all right?"
"Yes," he replied in a surprised tone. "Why do you ask?"
"Well, you were mumbling and groaning. I thought something was wrong."
"I was?" Had he been so distracted by the inner struggle that he didn't realize he was giving voice to it? "Well…everything's all right. Now, let's get back to what we were doing. You need to learn to shut out distractions. Sometimes an extended period of time is needed…. What is it?"
"But Master…we've been out here over an hour."
Disbelieving, the Jedi master checked the chrono on his wrist. He had been wrapped up in those thoughts for that long? But he tried to suppress his reaction. And at least he knew where he was…it wasn't another one of those occurrences.
Trying to recover with some semblance of grace he said, "One can truly loose track of time during a fruitful meditation." Then he stood to go.
It was with relish that the Jedi undertook the remaining afternoon's lesson. That allowed him to get his mind off the earlier distractions. The time passed quickly as they got into a lively discussion of the physics of hyperspace engines. Obi-Wan had a real knack for the more technical areas of his studies and his master was much impressed with his level of knowledge.
"Some of this we have not covered. Who have you been talking to?"
Obi-Wan grinned, "A transport pilot. You get a completely different perspective when you look at the practical side versus the theoretical side."
Qui-Gon was pleased at the initiative of his student. He smiled and patted his shoulder. "Well done, Obi-Wan."
The evening meal over, the Jedi master was retiring to his rooms for the night. He had some data tablets he needed to review on a volatile political situation between neighboring planets that seemed on its certain way to war. He and Obi-Wan were being considered for the mission. Qui-Gon sat down in the chair on his balcony and focused his attention on the information before him.
Jareel was on his way to his quarters when a sight grabbed his attention. Qui-Gon was walking down the hallway away from him. No robe, no tabard, no boots. Truly odd behavior for his friend who never left his room partially dressed. Something was up. Jareel trotted forward to catch up to Qui-Gon.
"Hey, didn't you forget something? Or are you starting a new fashion trend for Jedi masters?"
His friend said nothing, didn't even look his way. He just continued down the corridor, seemingly oblivious to everything else.
"Is this a game? All right, I'll bite. What are you trying to do to your old pal now?"
No reaction. Normally Jareel would think Qui-Gon was just doing a good job of acting. But things had not been normal for his friend recently. He became concerned. Reaching out he snagged the sleeve of Qui-Gon's tunic. "Are you OK?"
The Jedi continued down the hallway…no notice taken of Jareel at all. Now he really was convinced something was wrong. He stepped in front of Qui-Gon and put his hands against his shoulders. "Qui-Gon. Qui-Gon. What's wrong?"
The Jedi master shoved his friend aside and kept going. Jareel stepped in front of him again and grabbed his shoulders. "Hey! What's up?" Qui-Gon pulled away and continued. Again, the blonde Jedi stepped into the path. Jareel grabbed his shoulders more strongly and shook him. "Qui-Gon. Come out of it." He gave a smack to the bearded cheek…just enough to sting.
Finally, the Jedi stopped struggling. But he had a blank glassy look in his eyes. Jareel shook him again harder. A couple of smacks this time. "Hey, wake up!"
Slowly the dark blue eyes began to clear. A look of confusion fell across the master's face. He seemed to come out of it slowly. "Jareel?" His knees almost buckled and Jareel reached out to steady him.
Qui-Gon looked around. "How did I get here? I was…reading."
Jareel kept his hold on him and stared. "I saw you walking down the hallway. I don't know what you were doing. But you sure seemed out if it. You wouldn't answer me…no response of any kind. Seemed to be dazed. Are you all right?"
"Yes. I seem to be. Just a little tired, but I'm OK."
"Hmm…I think we need to go pay Mi'al a visit."
"That's not necessary. I'll just…"
"Not necessary! After what happened a couple of days ago? This is why you don't remember. You're walking around in a trance. You don't look so good," he said as Qui-Gon put a hand to his head. His knees were trembling. "I think I need to take you to the temple hospital."
"Jareel, I'm fine. Really. I'm just very tired. Probably sleepwalking. I was reading some diplomatic data tablets. You know how boring they can be sometimes," he chuckled…but his friend was scowling at him. "Look. I'm OK. This isn't as bad as what happened before. Let me just go get some rest and I'll go talk to Mi'al in the morning. I'd rest better in my own bed. He probably won't do much at night. He'd wait until morning unless it was urgent."
Jareel was on the verge of giving in. He knew it was true that the healer probably would wait until tomorrow given the hour. And he knew his friend. Qui-Gon would absolutely sleep better in his own bed. But…
"What if this happens again tonight? What if you go wandering off the roof somewhere? Tell me how you plan to prevent that…and I'll consider giving you a break."
The Jedi's mind was racing for a good answer. It would have to be good. Ah! "You can come and keep an eye on me."
"What?" Jareel chuckled.
"Why not? If you're that concerned then why don't you watch over me until morning." He figured that faced with being a babysitter would cause the blonde Jedi to back down…he was wrong.
"OK. I'll just drop in my quarters for a minute and then I'll come to your slumber party," he was smiling broadly.
It was not what Qui-Gon expected…or wanted. Isupposeit'sbetterthanspendinganothernightinthehospital. "OK. See you in a few minutes."
"Oh no," he grabbed his friend's arm. "You're coming with me so I can keep an eye on you."
Qui-Gon awoke early…thankfully in his own bed. He quietly showered and dressed. Jareel was snoring noisily on the sofa. The Jedi just smiled at the oaf. The day was young and he really didn't want to wake his friend too early. He decided to let him sleep and sneaked out the door. It was also early yet to be waking Obi-Wan, so he left a message on the voice message system for the padawan to meet him in the training area after he'd had breakfast.
The gardens before sunrise…that sounded like a peaceful place to be. The Jedi master wandered through the winding garden paths and came to rest on a bench near a fountain. He closed his eyes and listened to the gurgling and splashing of the water. Very relaxing. Yes, the living Force did abound here. He allowed himself to be pulled into it. So peaceful, so warm, so familiar.
Qui-Gon opened his eyes and he was standing outside the Jedi council meeting room. What!HowdidIgethere? His head was light and his knees shook. Quickly he sat down on a nearby bench and lowered his head to knee level. If he could prevent fainting this time…he would. He breathed deeply and let the breaths out slowly. The lightheaded feeling began to pass…but he still felt weak and fatigued. He had felt fine when he woke up…now he was exhausted. Why? What had he done? Quickly he glanced at a chrono. Unbelieving he glanced out the window and saw the sun above the horizon.
More time he couldn't account for…and the way he felt. He remembered what Jareel had said about his state last night. The Jedi finally had to admit…something was wrong. But Mi'al hadn't been able to find the cause. What in the galaxy was happening to him?
Mi'al. He had told Jareel he'd talk to Mi'al. Well…he would. But first, considering the time he had better get downstairs to the gymnasium. Obi-Wan was probably waiting for him. He didn't want to alarm the apprentice. He would work with Obi-Wan and end early. Then he would talk to Mi'al—if he made it that far. Slowly he stood. No more giddiness. He didn't feel like he was about to black out. The fatigue was still there though. WhatamIdoinginthetimeIcan'tremember?
He got on one of the lifts and began his descent to the training level. IfIcanmakeit,I'llwaituntillatertogotothehealer.IfIstartfeelingill,I'llgoatonce.Thisseemstohavepassedforthemoment.Itwon'tcomeagainforawhile.
As he expected, Obi-Wan was waiting. "I'm sorry Padawan. I hope you haven't been waiting long."
"Not very long Master. Just a few minutes."
"Good. Shall we begin by warming up?"
The thought of a long hard training session did not appeal to his tired body. And besides, he didn't know if he would aggravate whatever this problem was. So he decided to let Obi-Wan do the exertion…and he would do the advising.
More than once during the session with Obi-Wan, the Jedi could sense someone watching him. He glanced around and knew at once that intense stare he saw. Jareel's piercing blue eyes were scowling at him. He tried to ignore it…but he could still feel it.
The Jedi master dreaded the moment that his friend got a break. He knew Jareel had a lecture prepared for him. And, exactly as he expected, the blonde Jedi released his padawan to practice somersaults with some of his peers…and Jareel bore down on his friend.
Qui-Gon was seeking an escape but didn't react quickly enough. "Hey, you. I want to talk to you."
"Yes, well, could you make it quick? Obi-Wan and I were about to…"
"Obi-Wan, would you excuse us a moment?"
"Yes Master Jareel," the apprentice replied, puzzled by the tone the Jedi was taking with his friend. He wanted to stay near…but knew he would only get himself in trouble if he stayed. He wasn't subtle about his eavesdropping. So, he decided to see if he could find out anything from Daven.
The hulking figure folded his large arms across his chest. "Think you're so clever sneaking out on me?"
"Sneaking out? Why, Jareel, I…"
"Don't play innocent with me. I know you too well for that. I should have known you had no intention of going to see the healer."
"I said I would see him today. The day is not over."
"Semantics. You always try to get by on semantics."
"Don't you have some padawans to go terrorize or something?" Qui-Gon grinned. Then he turned and started to walk away. "I need to get back to Obi-Wan. He's missed quite a bit of training time this week. I'm taking it easy; he's the one who's working. Don't worry. I'll see Mi'al a little later."
"Don't worry he says. Obstinate wompa!" he muttered as he watched his friend walk away.
Because Qui-Gon had gotten started late in training with Obi-Wan, the rest of his scheduled activities for the day slipped and he found himself hurrying to finish.
"Are you going to the dining hall now Master?"
The Jedi had not realized it was so late. He started to decline the invitation…but realized he was rather hungry. And a quiet meal in the company of his apprentice sounded like a pleasant way to end the day.
They both decided a quiet corner of the hall would be better and separated themselves from the hustle as much as they could.
"Master, whatever was wrong with you seems to have gone away. I'm glad for that. I have to admit I was worried about you."
Uhoh.Lookatthetime.IwastryingsohardtogetObi-WanbackontrackthatIforgotaboutMi'al.Drat!Hmm…hopeIdon'trunintoJareel. "Um…yes, it does seem to have gone away." Oratleastitseemedthatwayforacoupleofdays.Perhapsitwon'thappenagainforacoupleofdays. Steering the conversation to a new subject Qui-Gon asked his padawan who the current champion of the temple somersaulting competition was.
Obi-Wan seemed surprised. "You know that we are competing and not just practicing together?"
The Jedi master chuckled. "Everyone in the temple knows it. You think it isn't so obvious?"
The apprentice toyed with his food for a moment and cleared his throat. "Well, the padawans are thinking of a new championship."
"Champion of master-padawan sparring," he grinned and his eyes twinkled almost mischievously.
"Oh," Qui-Gon tried to be nonchalant. "And who is the current champion?"
"I suppose I am…by default."
"No other apprentice has had that serious a sparring session with his master."
Now Qui-Gon was grinning. "Do you think we've started a trend…or do you think you'll stay the champion?"
"Daven said he was trying to goad Master Jareel into in…but Jareel says he's afraid he might hurt Daven."
"Oh really? He doesn't seem afraid of hurting padawans when he leaps out in front them waving his saber and yelling."
Obi-Wan started coughing. He had been in the process of swallowing a bite when his master said that. Qui-Gon pounded him on the back a couple of times. "You OK?"
"Yes Master…but please warn me next time.
The meal was soon over…and the Jedi had been right. A quiet meal with Obi-Wan had been very pleasant. They leisurely made their way back to their quarters, pausing to look out windows or at artwork and carvings scattered through the temple. A relaxing, pleasant way to end what had been a harried day.
The pair parted company. Qui-Gon entered his room and dropped onto the sofa, shrugging his robe off on the way down. The boots were next. He lay back and relaxed. Now given time to think his mind returned to last night…and this morning.
It happened again. But…it didn't seem as bad this time. At least I didn't end up on the floor this time. I do feel so very tired after it happens though. What is it? Why didn't Mi'al find anything wrong? If it isn't physical…or psychological…what else could it be? Something has to be causing it. I didn't imagine it…any more than I imagined those two days in the hospital. Well…I suppose I should talk to Mi'al tomorrow. I just hope it waits until tomorrow.
He pushed the thoughts away and got up for a cup of tea.
Qui-Gon slowly became aware and for just a split second was almost afraid to open his eyes…afraid of where he would find himself. But that was only a second. He looked and breathed a sigh of relief to find himself in his own bed.
The Jedi rose from bed and crossed the apartment to the kitchenette to make his usual small and quick breakfast. He opted to eat on the balcony. It was a pleasant morning. Just cool…not enough to be uncomfortable. The traffic noise and warm sun were almost hypnotizing and he had to force himself to get up after he had finished eating.
A quick shower and he was soon standing at Obi-Wan's door. The apprentice was slow in answering the door. Just as Qui-Gon began to think maybe something was wrong, the door slid aside to reveal a bleary eyed young man.
"Obi-Wan? Everything OK?"
"Yes Master. I'm sorry. I guess I overslept," he grinned sheepishly. "Just give me about five minutes."
"Is that enough time? You'll need time for breakfast."
"That's OK. I can take something along to eat on the way," he said over his shoulder as he hurried to the bedroom to dress.
They made the walk to the gymnasium as Obi-Wan munched and tried to talk around the food. Qui-Gon was amused and wondered if he had been like that at the same age. At least the apprentice was enthusiastic; he had to give him that.
The Jedi master started out on a warm up with the padawan. Next, they worked with weights, for strengthening exercises. Then came the part that they both admitted they liked best…light saber sparring.
Obi-Wan secretly hoped his master would engage him in another all out battle. He had repeatedly replayed Qui-Gon's maneuvers through his head and was sure he could at least match him, given another chance. The apprentice wondered what his master's reaction would be if he took the initiative and launched such a battle against him. He couldn't decide if that was such a good idea or not. Surely Qui-Gon would recognize what he was doing…and recognize that he wanted a rematch. He couldn't decide. MaybeI'lljustwaitandseehowthingsprogress.Iftheopportunityseemsright….Well,we'llsee.
Qui-Gon set himself and activated his light saber. Obi-Wan immediately responded. First, they began to circle, taking stock of each other. The apprentice made the first move, but once again, his eagerness was his undoing. His master easily sidestepped the move and landed a touch to Obi-Wan's arm.
"Ouch!" he yelped in pain, frustration and irritation at himself. Don'tbesoanxious.Youdon'thavetoproveanything.Focus.
Qui-Gon sensed the shift. GoodPadawan,good.
The Jedi master suddenly lowered his saber. Obi-Wan was surprised at the obviously bad move but hurried to take advantage of it before Qui-Gon could recover. The tall Jedi stood perfectly still as his apprentice lunged at him; he made no move to dodge the blow. It landed solidly on his torso. However, there was no reaction to the red blistering spot the blade had left. Qui-Gon had neither flinched not uttered a sound.
Obi-Wan was surprised at this response…or rather lack of one. The Jedi master just stood statue still. The apprentice stepped closer. "Master?"
The blue eyes were dark and glassy. Qui-Gon opened his hand and his light saber clattered to the ground. He turned and began to walk away.
"Master? What's wrong?" Obi-Wan called after him. Still no response. The apprentice ran after him. He rounded the Jedi and stood before him. "Master!" Qui-Gon said nothing and just kept walking.
Jareel had seen the whole display. He hurried over, grabbed Qui-Gon by the shoulders, and began shaking him. "Qui-Gon. Come on. Snap out of it." Remembering what it had taken the other night, he delivered a couple of slaps. Obi-Wan was shocked at the force of the blows…but even more shocked when he saw they apparently had no effect.
The Jedi was still trying to make forward progress and Jareel was trying to use his greater bulk to hold Qui-Gon back…but the Jedi still moved forward. The display was beginning to draw a small crowd of onlookers, which annoyed Jareel. "Don't just gawk! Someone get a healer down here." He shook Qui-Gon more vigorously and backhanded him very sharply…more than he intended. A small trickle of blood oozed at the corner of Qui-Gon's mouth. But at least this time it seemed to have an effect.
The Jedi stopped struggling. He just stood and stared. Jareel shook him again. "Qui-Gon. Talk to me. Come on." Another shake.
Finally, Qui-Gon seemed to be coming to himself. His eyes began to clear. He looked into Jareel's face and recognition came slowly. "Jareel?" he muttered. His hand went to his head and he almost collapsed. The blonde Jedi grasped Qui-Gon to keep him from falling. Slowly he lowered him to the floor. Qui-Gon buried his dizzy, confused head in his large hands and drew in some deep breaths.
"Master," Obi-Wan whispered.
Jareel laid his hand on Obi-Wan's. "Just give him a minute."
And a minute or so later Qui-Gon raised his head and looked around. He still seemed somewhat confused. "What happened?" he whispered.
"You remember what happened night before last?" Jareel asked. "Well, it happened again."
"This happened a couple of nights ago?" Obi-Wan blurted out. "Why didn't you tell me?" he said to no one in particular…not really wanting to direct his feelings at Qui-Gon just now.
"Yes, it happened. And your master told me he would talk to Mi'al. I don't know…but I suspect he has not."
"No, he has not." They turned to see the healer approaching. "I'm not sure what you're talking about…but he hasn't been to see me. What's going on?"
Jareel told Mi'al about Qui-Gon's trip down the hallway the other night…and about the incident just now.
"Hmm…. Well, I have a little more information now than I did. Qui-Gon."
He slowly lifted his head.
"How are you feeling?"
"Just very fatigued."
"Not sick? Any pain? What happened to your mouth?"
Jareel's face flushed and he explained his actions.
"It took that much to get a reaction out of him?" He paused. "You feeling OK?"
"I guess it's back to the hospital for you."
To everyone's surprise…Qui-Gon didn't put up an argument.
Mi'al sat down heavily on the sofa. He was frustrated…to put it mildly. "The same as before. I can't find anything to explain this."
"But something has to be wrong…"
"I know Obi-Wan. I know. And believe me I will find out this time. I don't care how good he feels. I don't care how many exams show he's fine. I don't care how much he complains. He is not leaving this time. No matter how long it takes, I want him here when this happens again. I want to know exactly what's happening to him. I'm going to have every kind of sensing technique or device on him so that the next time this happens I can know exactly what's going on with his body. I will find out."
To say that Qui-Gon was unhappy with the situation would have understated it severely. And it wasn't the fact that he felt fine and couldn't leave the hospital that frustrated him. After the incident in the gymnasium, he was more willing to be cooperative in that respect. What really annoyed him was the way everyone treated him. Watching his every move, constantly asking him how he felt, practically tiptoeing around his room as if they were afraid being too loud would cause one of those episodes.
There were also all the wires that were attached to Qui-Gon. Mi'al, true to his word, had connected him to every kind of monitor he had available. Not only were the electrodes irritating to the skin, any movement had to be done carefully lest the electrodes be pulled loose. Not that the Jedi could move around very much.
Mi'al had considered how he would handle Qui-Gon during one of the events. Jareel testified to how hard it was to try to handle him during them, and how hard it was to get a response from him. Much to the Jedi's chagrin, the healer had decided to restrain him to the bed. "I'm sorry Qui-Gon but if you decide to get up and walk out the next time this happens, if Jareel has trouble stopping you…I sure wouldn't be able to. And who knows where you'll go…what you'll do while you're in that state?" Qui-Gon understood…but that didn't help him endure it.
The entire situation was ripe to be an irritation to the usually unflappable Jedi. He was uncomfortable with the high visibility this put him in. Also, being so limited in his ability to move around freely exasperated him. It was like caging an active animal.
But Qui-Gon had only been like this for a few hours. Not that he really wanted to go through it again, but he hoped the next episode would happen soon. The stream of questions and constant checks were getting to be too much for him. He couldn't even find much peace in the Force. He had no time alone. If Mi'al wasn't checking on him, then Obi-Wan, Jareel, Yoda, or someone was looking in on him. He knew their intentions were good but they didn't understand what he was enduring.
Except…he suspected maybe Obi-Wan understood. Not only did he know his master well after their years together, he could sense what Qui-Gon was feeling. When the padawan was in Qui-Gon's room, mostly he would just stand by and try to send comfort to his master. After his first volley of questions when he was initially allowed in to see the Jedi, the apprentice had suddenly become more quiet. That's when Qui-Gon decided that Obi-Wan had sensed how annoyed he was.
And it wasn't only the set up that contributed to how Qui-Gon felt. These incidents left him feeling very tired. And he had to admit, he was getting concerned himself about what was happening. So it all led up to a drained, frustrated Jedi who wasn't allowed an opportunity to relax and center himself.
IfIhavetoendurethisforverylong…Idon'tknowhowIwill.IfIatleasthadsometimealone.ButifI'malone…thenMi'alwouldn'tknowifitwashappeningagain. Qui-Gon closed his eyes and let out a sigh of frustration.
At once Jareel was at his side. "You all right?"
"Yes," Qui-Gon said a little more sharply than he intended. He closed his eyes again and tried to hold in the other sigh that was so close on the heels of the first.
Obi-Wan had been studying his master. He caught Mi'al's eye after that strong reply. He nodded in understanding. "Jareel, why don't you come with me?"
"But Mi'al, don't you need to be here to keep an eye on him?"
"Obi-Wan can watch over him. Let's go have a talk." He pulled on Jareel's huge arm. Not very willingly the big blonde Jedi left with the healer.
Obi-Wan knew more than anything else, Qui-Gon just wanted to be left alone. So, after Jareel and Mi'al left, Obi-Wan just took a seat and stayed quiet. And he was careful not to stare at his master either.
After several silent minutes, Qui-Gon mumbled, "Thank you Obi-Wan."
The padawan just smiled…and stayed quiet. At last Qui-Gon was able to settle himself in the Force…and he was finally content. Now he could endure. He was able to put away all the negative feelings and just let the peace of the Force envelope him.
Some time in the night, Obi-Wan was awakened by a sound. He sat up straighter in the chair he had fallen asleep in. Qui-Gon seemed restless, moving around in the bed. Obi-Wan stood and walked over to him. The Jedi was not asleep. His eyes were open…and they looked blank and glassy.
At once Obi-Wan hit the intercom button. "Mi'al, it's happening!"
Just down the hallway, the healer leaped at once from his sleep and ran down the hallway. He threw open the door and rushed in. Qui-Gon was pulling against his restraints. Mi'al saw the blank look in the blue dark eyes. He began observing the monitors…looking to see exactly how his body was reacting to whatever was going on.
It was upsetting to Obi-Wan to see his master this way and he had no idea what to do about it. He wanted to do something to help him…but what could he possibly do? And he desperately wanted answers from Mi'al, but he knew now was not the time to launch a barrage of questions. So…he stood…and watched.
"I'll be damned," Mi'al uttered.
"What! What is it?" Obi-Wan crossed to his side.
"His EEG is very erratic—very disturbed."
"So," Obi-Wan guessed. "Is there something wrong with his brain?"
"But he checked out OK neurologically. That makes this the more confusing. Obi-Wan can you link with him and see what you can sense?"
"Yes, of course."
The apprentice had done it so many times. It was second nature. Sometimes it was more of a challenge to stay out of his master's head. He closed his eyes to shut out any distractions and reached out…
"Obi-Wan, are you all right?" The padawan opened his eyes. He was on his knees, his hands clamped to the sides of his head. Mi'al was kneeling next to him. "What happened? You OK?"
"Oh…Mi'al…something's wrong. I felt another presence in there with Master Qui-Gon…a strong one."
"Another presence?" Mi'al repeated in amazement.
"Yes. I can feel Master Qui-Gon…but something else as well. That must be what this is about. It would explain his behavior…it's not him. It's whatever else is in there."
The healer rose and went back over to check on the Jedi…and to have another look at his EEG. It had become less erratic…seemed to be returning to something more normal. He turned to observe Qui-Gon as he stood rubbing his chin.
The Jedi master had been wrestling against the restraints. Now his body suddenly went taut and then limp. Qui-Gon collapsed back against the bed. His heart rate was still rapid as was his breathing…and he was warm and sweaty. The same signs he had shown when he had first come to the temple hospital and collapsed in the doorway. Another presence? Did this mean some creature was inhabiting Qui-Gon…or was this being trying to connect with the Jedi mentally? Was this an attack or did the creature not know what it was doing to Qui-Gon? Mi'al began checking over the Jedi to see what other effects this had had on him while he also speculated. Some minutes passed and Qui-Gon's eyes fluttered open.
"Do you remember what happened?" Mi'al asked him.
"What do you mean…what happened?"
Mi'al took a deep breath and slowly released it. Then he explained to the Jedi master all that had happened since he had heard Obi-Wan's voice summoning him on the intercom.
He looked to his apprentice. "You're sure about what you felt?"
"Yes Master. Believe me, it was so different from what I'm used to when I link to you. I was aware of its identity. It was separate from you…another consciousness there."
This was alarming news. Something was trying to…to what? Control him? And he wasn't even aware of what was happening.
"Does this explain the blacking out, Mi'al?"
"I think so. Whenever this…creature is in contact with you, it's causing your body to accelerate its functions. When it leaves…your body experiences a sudden drop…and I think that's what's causing you to faint. I have no idea how long this creature can or will maintain contact with you…but I'm thinking that's the time loss you are experiencing. Guessing here…but when it is in your head, it's over riding your conscious control. But I don't think it is staying in contact with you for a couple of hours. I don't see how your body could stand the accelerated rates that long. There must be some side effect to your memory from whatever this being is doing to you."
"But is that its purpose…or is that a byproduct of…whatever it is attempting to do?" Qui-Gon said, mostly to himself. "Obi-Wan, were you able to make any kind of contact with it at all?"
"No Master. It was so strong. Just encountering it was almost too much for me. I had to pull away."
"I need to find out what it wants from me. If this is an attack I've got to find a way to protect myself. If it is just trying to get my attention…I've got to find out what it wants."
"Do you have an idea Master?"
"Yes. I do. You said it was too strong for you. It's obviously too strong for me to control…"
"If there is any Jedi who can contact it…he's the one."
Mi'al and Obi-Wan sat down with Yoda the following morning and told him the details of what had transpired during the night. He listened intently, a chubby green finger to his chin. "Hmm…interesting this is. Contact it we must. Tell me young apprentice what you sensed."
"It's hard to say Master Yoda. Its presence was so strong it was overpowering to me. I had to break my link with Master Qui-Gon. Mostly all I could tell is that it was something separate from my master."
Yoda slowly nodded his head as he thought. "Very well. Sit with Qui-Gon I will. Be ready for the creature I will."
If Qui-Gon had felt like a caged animal before, he now felt like a zoo specimen. Mi'al, Yoda, and Obi-Wan sat around the room, trying to be casual, but watching, watching. And that was beginning to wear on the Jedi master.
"Upset you are Qui-Gon. Centered you should be."
"Yes my Master…but…"
"No but," he declared. "Always a Jedi should be able to focus himself. Matters not what is going on."
"Yes Master." Qui-Gon closed his eyes to shut out the watching eyes and tried to focus on anything except what he knew was coming…or at least he expected it to happen. There was some unpredictability to it. For two days he had been left alone. He hoped that wouldn't be the case now. If he was having this much trouble controlling himself now…he dreaded to think how far he would slip the longer this went on.
But Qui-Gon concentrated, determined to calm himself. He formed a picture of lowering himself into a deep tub of warm water until only his head stayed above the water. Totally enveloped in the warmth he could feel the tension begin to flow out. A couple of deep breaths also forced tautness from his body.
"Good, good," Yoda murmured.
The room was now totally silent, each occupant settling himself in the Force and emptying himself of the anxiety that had been palpable in the room. The collective centering contributed to the atmosphere in the room and lent help to each one seeking the peace of the Force.
Qui-Gon especially was grateful for the calm that settled over the room. He knew he needed to be centered and free of anxiety when the creature came calling again. Apparently, based on past experience, there was little he could do to stop it from happening. However, he didn't wish to contribute to the being's ability to take him over by not being centered.
How long the room remained so quiet and peaceful it was hard to say. No one seemed willing to break the silence until at long last Yoda spoke up. "Unpredictable this is. Know we not when it will occur again. But ready we must be. Tire us all out this will. Keep watch you will Obi-Wan while Mi'al and I rest."
"Yes Master Yoda."
"And," Mi'al added with a glance at Qui-Gon. "You should be resting as well. No antics in here after we're gone," he added with a smile, hoping to break the tension. Then he and Yoda departed.
Obi-Wan sat back in his chair and tried to watch his master without obviously watching.
Hoping for a lightening of the atmosphere himself, Qui-Gon said, "I'm still here…not going anywhere." He forced a smile.
"I'm sorry Master. I'm trying not to add to your burden…I'm just concerned."
"I know Padawan. Believe me…it's easier with just you here than with those two. Not only are they watching every move I make…I can sense those touches through the Force…trying to decide if anything is happening yet or not. I know they need to be here when 'it' starts happening, but I feel like a lab animal…caged yet," he replied, a little frustration creeping in his tone.
Obi-Wan looked at Qui-Gon. He did seem fatigued. And he sure didn't look comfortable. Yes…this was all necessary…but how did they expect his master to rest and stay relaxed. He was beginning to see a little of the other side of it. "I wish there was something I could do Master."
"You just did it Obi-Wan," the smile was natural this time. "Their interest is so clinical right now. It's good to have someone about who cares…because he cares."
Obi-Wan smiled. Silence over took the room. The apprentice relaxed and decided maybe he should leave Qui-Gon alone to rest.
For his part, the Jedi was tired. The peace that filled the room earlier had taken his tension away. He was more at ease now. He closed his eyes and in a few minutes was softly snoring.
When Qui-Gon awoke the next morning he was initially glad to have had an uninterrupted night's sleep…but then realized that meant a longer enforced stay in the hospital. He looked over toward the chair where he had last seen Obi-Wan. He wasn't there. In his place dozed the green diminutive Jedi master.
Qui-Gon was amused. Yoda's head bobbed a little to one side then jerked back up. In a minute it bobbed the other direction before it popped back into place. Then slowly Yoda's head fell backwards until it came to rest against the chair back. His mouth was wide and soon he began to snore noisily. The Jedi could hold back no longer and chuckled. He had forgotten how loudly Yoda could snore. On more than one mission, as Yoda's padawan, he had had to find someplace to sleep away from his master because the noise kept him awake. The memories made him laugh.
"What?" Yoda jerked upright and looked around. Then his eyes came to rest on Qui-Gon. "Find me amusing do you? Hmm? Still know ways I do to discipline insolent padawans."
"But I'm not your padawan now."
Yoda slid from the chair and reached for his gimmer stick, which he then pointed at the prone Jedi. "Still your master I am. What say you now?"
"Yes Master," Qui-Gon inclined his head.
The quick submission caught Yoda off guard and he had no reply which amused his former padawan…but this time he hid his amusement. He did respect his master and would only tease him so far.
The door opened and Mi'al entered. "How are you feeling Qui-Gon?"
"Do you want the truth or the I-know-you-have-to-do-this-and-I-am-enduring version?"
"Well…I would say you got up on the wrong side of the bed…but I know that didn't happen," Mi'al gave a lopsided grin. Then more seriously, "Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I assume nothing happened during the night. I don't remember anything…but that means nothing under the circumstances."
Mi'al cut his eyes at Yoda and then looked back at Qui-Gon with a grin. "Nothing…unless Master Yoda feel asleep on his watch."
The Jedi bit the corners of his mouth to hold back a smile.
Predictably Yoda cracked his stick against the floor. "Fall asleep I did not! Sit with him tonight you will. See if you fall asleep."
"Yes Master Yoda."
A second time that his tormentor gave in easily. Yoda was suspicious.
"How's Obi-Wan?" Qui-Gon asked.
"Snoozing away. He's fine," Mi'al replied. "Master Yoda, I have a couple of things to attend to and I shall return… What is it?"
Yoda had snapped to attention then closed his eyes tightly as if in pain. Then the healer's attention was drawn by a soft moan. He looked over to the bed. It was happening again! Mi'al was anxious to ask Yoda what was going on…but knew it would only be a distraction. He turned his attention instead to monitoring Qui-Gon…that's where his usefulness now lay.
"You trouble this man why?" Yoda said aloud for Mi'al's benefit. However, the healer could only hear Yoda's side of the conversation…the answer came through the link that the Jedi master had formed with Qui-Gon.
"Who are you? You are not the same as the man."
"Different I am. A separate being I am."
"How are you able to do this?"
"Use the same way as you I do."
"Are all your creatures able to think with each other this way?"
"No. Certain ones only can do this. What desire you?"
"I have been trying to make this contact with someone off my planet for some time now. I have not been able to find a mind that was compatible with me until the man. Are you compatible…or only because you talk through the man?"
"Know I do not. But why do you this?"
"Your help I need. I have not been able to make the man understand."
"Too strong you are for him."
"Yes, when I contact him, his body begins to…go faster. He breathes faster. His heart contracts faster. That is why I do not come often. But I am not too strong for you?"
"Stronger in the Force am I than the man."
"Master Yoda," Mi'al said quietly but insistently. "You need to get him to break his link with Qui-Gon. His blood pressure is too high…"
"Silence," Yoda said.
"Yes," the being began. "IknowwhatishappeningandIleavesoon.Idonotmeantocausetrouble.Iwillleavenow."
"Link with me you will try."
But there was nothing else. The room was quiet except for the gasp that sounded from Qui-Gon, as the link with the creature was broken.
Mi'al was monitoring the Jedi closely and recognized the reaction when the link ended. He let out a sigh of relief.
Yoda had not moved. He was still waiting to see if there was any attempt from the being to connect with him. Nothing. He sighed in disappointment and frustration. Opening his eyes he said, "All right is he Mi'al?"
"Yes…he seems to be now." His attention remained focused on Qui-Gon but he asked, "Did you find out what is going on?"
"Yes," was the only answer Yoda gave.
Mi'al inquired no further. He was content to wait until he made sure the Jedi was unharmed. He rechecked his vital signs and did a cursory exam to check Qui-Gon's condition.
The door opened and a groggy looking padawan stumbled in. "Morning," he mumbled. Then he saw the looks and how the healer was hovering over his master. At once he was awake. "It happened again didn't it? What happened? Did you find out what's going on?" He rushed to the bedside.
Qui-Gon's eyes opened slowly. He seemed a little confused…but after looking around he remembered where he was. It was that feeling that made him guess. "It was back wasn't it?"
"Yes," Mi'al replied. "Feeling all right?"
"The same…a little dizzy, tired. Weak too. Seems worse this time. Was Yoda able to communicate with it?"
"Yes," a voice came from where Qui-Gon couldn't see.
Yoda returned to the chair and climbed into it. Now the Jedi could see him.
"What did you find out?"
"An attack on you this is not. Communicate with you he tried. Understand you did not. Similar ability to link his species has…but much more limited. Seeking someone to talk to he has been. Someone compatible with him. Said you were he did…but too strong is his power to link."
"Compatible…but too strong?" Qui-Gon was puzzled. "You mean like…" the words wouldn't come. "Like the creature and I are the same 'frequency' to communicate…but his power is too much.'
"What does he want?"
"Help his people need. What kind I know not. Said he did not."
Qui-Gon was silent for a moment. "How are we going to handle this?"
Now that Qui-Gon's "problem" was understood, Mi'al at once freed him from his prison of bed and wires. The Jedi was very relieved at this development…more than he cared to admit. However, until the situation with the creature was completely resolved, he wanted Qui-Gon where he could keep an eye on him. He still was concerned about what the Jedi master might do during one of his contact periods since he was walking around, seemingly oblivious to whatever was going on around him. Also, he was concerned about how long the creature might try to maintain its connection with him. So, Qui-Gon was still in the hospital. But he was slow to complain…at least he had more freedom.
Their plan right now was similar to the one they had started off with. Yoda would try to link with the being the next time it tried to communicate with Qui-Gon. He would try again to get the creature to directly link with him. So, they were back in the waiting game now…with no idea how long it could go on. Would the being even come back?
The day passed with no contact at all. A long, quiet…somewhat anxious day. They were concerned about the creature and his people as well. What kind of help did they need? What were they like? What planet did they live on? So many questions Yoda was anxious to ask…if only contact was made. But that day it was not.
Because the situation was at least understood now, Mi'al didn't feel the need to be so directly involved…and he had duties to return to. Still Yoda wanted another person to watch over Qui-Gon. Obviously he had no idea when this was about to happen to him. He couldn't tell Yoda it was beginning. For the Jedi, his knowledge that another "session" had occurred came after it had already ended. Therefore the need to constantly observe Qui-Gon. His master desired three people so that they could have reasonable shifts and no one would get so fatigued.
Yoda notified Jareel. He was at once curious…and relieved that his friend was all right. He had just come into the room to sit with Qui-Gon through the night.
"Should have known you'd find some way to get out of working," he grinned at the Jedi who was currently stretched out on the bed.
"Jareel, it's a tough job. Too bad you weren't chosen by our unknown friend," Qui-Gon quipped.
"That's all right. I wouldn't take the honor from you." Then more seriously he said, "I'm just glad you're OK. When I saw you…" he searched for words to describe Qui-Gon's behavior, "go into another world and I couldn't communicate with you…. Well, it was scary."
"It hasn't been fun for me either. But at least I know what's happening now. It's not so…frightful…now. I just hope we can help this creature."
Jareel was thoughtful. "It's hard to imagine that a being would be so overpowering in trying to link with a Jedi. After all…there are Jedi of varying abilities and I haven't heard of there being such a problem before."
"It must be different somehow though. It told Master Yoda it was seeking for a compatible brain to contact. It had tried contacting others…whether that included other Jedi I don't know. So it's method of linking must be unlike what we are used to."
The healer came in. "Hello Jareel. Heard you were taking over my watch. Sorry about that."
"Mi'al I know you. You aren't sorry at all. You probably planned it this way from the beginning…yeah, let me get myself on the night duty and then I'll duck out and suggest Jareel take over." His light blue eyes gleamed.
"I'm hurt," Mi'al replied in mock injury. "That's the thanks I get for pasting you guys back together after you come back from one of your hero trips. You get all the glory and I get all the gory. And then you abuse me for fun."
"Arg. You poke, prod, jab and question us to death and you expect us to be grateful…for suffering at your hands?" He winked at Qui-Gon. "Space pirate!"
Mi'al just grinned at the repartee. "Speaking of questions…just wanted to poke my head in before I retire and ask how you're doing."
"Same as last time you asked," Qui-Gon smiled. "Ready to get out of your prison. I'm fine Mi'al."
"OK…well the warden is locking you in for the night. And if you need anything…"
"Just press the call button," the two Jedi said simultaneously.
"Guess I said that before, huh?" The healer smiled and turned to go.
There was a little more banter between the two friends. Just finding out that there was nothing wrong with Qui-Gon broke the tension that had overhung this entire situation. Both were more relaxed…and more willing to laugh about it. Soon the conversation died off. Qui-Gon soon fell into sleep and Jareel sat back to watch.
Obi-Wan showed up bright and early the next morning. He walked in and looked over to his master. He was sound asleep. The apprentice was just happy to see him finally able to relax. He padded over to the chair where the big blonde Jedi sat. Whispering, he asked, "Peaceful night?"
"Yes," Jareel said quietly. "I guess that's good. We want this to be over…but I'm glad Qui-Gon is getting a good rest. I just wish I knew how much longer we'll have to wait."
"Me too Jareel. Why don't you go get some sleep now? I'll take over."
Jareel rose and stretched. "Ah…shouldn't sit for so long. Talk to you later," he said with a pat to the apprentice's shoulder.
Another quiet day. No more contact. Qui-Gon began to wonder if the being had been scared off. But he also remembered sometimes there might be days between his visits. The waiting was wearing on them all. The Jedi master steered all conversation away from the subject and fell into his teaching mode. Obi-Wan was here…he may as well put the time to better use than fretting or rehashing the subject of the creature. So Qui-Gon lectured some and they engaged in some Force-control exercises. And now the Jedi was finally able to properly meditate…so he relished the time they took to engage in that.
A long day. But a good one Qui-Gon judged. He felt better being able to do something more useful with his time than just sit and wait. And this had distracted them as well. Yes…a good day.
"I wonder how long we'll have to wait," Obi-Wan said. Coming back to the subject that was so consuming them both right now.
"I wish I could tell you Padawan. I would like to be able to get back to my life. I understand that since I'm totally unaware of what's going on during this, that Mi'al wants me where I will be safe…but this is not my first choice of where I'd rather be waiting. This is what we need to be doing. I can't let this waiting rule my life. If I have to be here, we should be using the time constructively. Besides it's better feeling useful than feeling like a zoo specimen."
"I enjoyed it as well Master. It was good to have something else to think about. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed your teaching."
"Really," the Jedi replied. He was somewhat surprised, but pleased by the statement. Yes…this was a good match…he and Obi-Wan.
The door opened and a small green figure entered.
Both Jedi stood and bowed to Master Yoda.
"Hmm…more peace I sense. Good…good."
"Yes my Master. It is easier to center oneself without an audience," Qui-Gon observed.
"An audience you need when take care of yourself you can not," Yoda responded as he climbed up into a chair.
"Yes Master." The Jedi knew it would be useless to debate the point.
"Since notified I was not, returned the being has not…I assume."
"Yes Master Yoda."
"You may go apprentice. Go, eat, rest."
"Yes Master," Obi-Wan bowed and turned to leave. "See you tomorrow Master Qui-Gon."
Yoda sat back and closed his eyes. The good part of Master Yoda's watch was that he usually withdrew into himself. Qui-Gon didn't feel so much like he was under a microscope. But, if he did want some conversation, then the withdrawal was less welcome. The Jedi could talk his head off, but if Yoda did not want to be bothered he was quite capable of shutting all the chatter out and staying within himself.
But Qui-Gon had had an interactive day with his apprentice and was content to leave the little green creature to himself. He settled his tall frame into another chair and withdrew into himself.
The room was still. Even the air movement due to the ventilation system seemed to have stopped. That was an illusion brought on by the peaceful state. With both Jedi deep in the Force, the energy field in the room expanded and seemed to resonate with warmth and calm. They both drank deeply of it and melded more and more with it.
Time lost all meaning for the two. In this condition outside influences had little meaning. The connection between Jedi and Force was the only thing that mattered. A newcomer to the room would probably insist that the two figures seemed to glow, so energized they were.
And then for Qui-Gon, everything went black…
At once Yoda felt it. His eyes popped open and he recognized that it was beginning. He reached out with the Force and tapped the call button then turned all his attention to Qui-Gon.
"Returned you have."
"Yes…only briefly. I sensed the man waiting for me. I wanted him to know I would not be back. He need not wait any longer."
"Help you we can. Try to connect with me you will."
"Very well…I will try."
Vaguely Yoda was aware of the entrance of the healer. He immediately shut that out and opened his mind. He could feel…something. It was different than linking with another Jedi. It was almost painful as the connection started to solidify. He pressed his hands to his head and fought off the urge to withdraw. Even though he could feel some sort of presence, he was unable to communicate with it. All he could make out were garbled noises. Yoda tried strengthening his connection to the Force…but the pain was increasing. He cried out…and it was gone.
But in a few seconds he could feel the familiar link with the creature through Qui-Gon's brain.
"Your mind is not compatible. The man is…but is not strong enough. I have failed. I will go away now. I will not bring discomfort to the man or you any longer."
"Wait, please. Someone else at the temple compatible may be."
"But you are the strongest in…you call it…the Force? If I am too strong for the man…who else is there? I must look elsewhere."
"Your people, what help need they?"
"IfIamunabletocommunicateeffectivelywithyou…whathelpcanyoube?" There was great sadness in the thought.
"Please," Yoda pled. "Yourplanet,youarefromwhere?"
"Thank you for your concern. It touches me. I know I came to the right place to look for help. But you can see…you can not help us."
"Another way there must be. Give up you should not!"
"I will not give up. I will search for another mind to contact."
"Give up here you should not! Keepers of justice and peace the Jedi are. Help you we can…we must!"
"You are worthy creatures indeed…such sacrifices you are willing to make to help."
"Yoda," Mi'al's voice revealed his great concern. "I don't know how much longer he can endure this. His blood pressure is dangerously high."
"I must go now. The harm of your friend will accomplish nothing. Thank you. Your concern gives me hope that there is someone who will be able to help us. Thank the man for allowing me this time. He is in danger. I must go."
As the link was broken, Qui-Gon's taut body slumped forward in the chair. "Oof." Mi'al grabbed at the limp body to keep him from falling out of the chair. He pushed the Jedi backward to lean against the chair back and began checking him over.
"Wait!Linkwithmeyouwill.Tryagainyouwill." Yoda remained relaxed and open waiting for the feeling of the uncomfortable link to begin…but there was nothing…nothing.
"Try again you will…try again…you…" The thought died away. Yoda knew the creature wasn't coming back but he felt compelled to keep himself open should it change its mind and try again. He stayed relaxed, eyes closed, waiting, seeking.
It took several minutes before Qui-Gon's eyes finally opened. He felt very drained and disoriented. He looked around the room trying to decide what had happened. "Mi'al…the creature was here again, wasn't it?"
"Yes. Are you all right?"
"I'm not sure. Don't feel so good."
"Here come and lay down." To his surprise the Jedi put up no argument but obediently went along with the healer and lay on the bed. Mi'al got him settled and began to recheck his vitals.
"What happened? Why do I feel so bad?"
"I don't know what happened," the healer stole a glance at Yoda. "The creature almost over stayed his welcome. Your heart was racing like a speeder out of control and your BP was too high for longer than I cared for. That's why you feel so bad. Now just rest."
Qui-Gon laid his head back and closed his eyes.
Later when the Jedi had recovered somewhat and Yoda was finally convinced the creature was not going to attempt another link, the story was told. Yoda recounted the conversation for the audience…all who had been involved in the affair. Mi'al, Obi-Wan, and Jareel were gathered around the bed where Qui-Gon had been resting. There was not a sound as Yoda drew the account to its unhappy ending.
"We have no clue where he was from or what kind of help he needed," Qui-Gon said in a sad voice that was almost a whisper. "No way we can help."
"No," was Yoda's simple reply.
"Surely we can do something," Jareel declared. "Do you intend to sit back and not try?"
"No," Yoda repeated. Quietly he said, "Report to the council I will. Decide if anything can be done we will."
"But what can you do Master Yoda," Obi-Wan asked. "If you have no idea where the being is from…how can you know where to look?"
"Answer that I can not…but give up I can not." He slipped his small body from the chair where he had been resting. The only sound was the tap, tap, tap of his gimmer stick. An air of sadness and helplessness hung over the room. The door swished open. Yoda took one step and then stopped. He turned and met eyes with Qui-Gon. "Sorry he was for what he caused you. Thanks you he does for allowing one last link." Then he left. No one spoke. No one knew what to say. Inside the Jedi wondered if there was something more he could have done to facilitate the communication. But how could he help what he didn't know was going on? He lay his head back and closed his tired eyes.