In case you miss it in my warning below, there are a couple of things I want to say.  Recently, I've been trying to practice writing action scenes of different lengths, to see what suits me best.  Unfortunately, in this story, they're all LONG and with way too many details.  They go on and on forever.  Also, in some non-action scenes, I kinda set challenges for myself to see if I could describe things in a certain way, and those also ended up being really long with a lot of useless details.  I have a whole bunch of that kind of stuff thrown into this story and it probably has a negative effect on the flow of the writing and might get kinda of boring.  Soo…for those of you who are willing to plunge through that, I really hope you enjoy this story and I promise my next stories are less experimental!  Oh yeah, my warning definitely applies to the first part…beware of action.

Title: My Place is at Your Side

Author: Erika

Rating: PG-13

Summary: When Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn fall prey to a vengeful madman who has planned and plotted his every action, will they be able to escape with their lives or will their loyalty to each other condemn them both to death?

Time Frame: Obi-Wan is 18

Spoilers: For JA

Category: POV, angst, action, drama, h/c, non-slash

Disclaimers: The Star Wars universe and all of its characters belong to George Lucas, I'm only borrowing them to have a little fun and I promise to return them unharmed (well, at least mostly unharmed =0).  I'm making no money from this and this is written for entertainment purposes only.  Any characters that are not recognizable as being part of the Star Wars universe belong to me, but you guys probably figured that out, right?

Feedback: Both positive feedback and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated and will be cherished! (firedrake88@yahoo.com)

Archive: Jedi Apprentice, Early Years, Wolfie's Den, JAFD, The Guardians of Peace, The Temple Library, Telly, and archives who have any of my other stories.  Anyone else who wants this, please ask and send me a link to your site so that I can check it out. =D

My Website: http://thesanctuary.fateback.com

Warning/Author's Note:  I'm not a doctor, nor do I pretend to know a lot about medicine, physiology, or anatomy (my high school class was good, but it was pretty basic), so don't expect everything in that aspect of this story to be perfectly realistic!  Also, there are a bunch of rather long action scenes here, seeing as how I need to practice writing those, but don't worry, if you can wade through those, I promise there are lots of touching moments between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to make up for them.

Special Thanks To:  My good friends Cassia and LunarBlade. =D =D =D =D

Things enclosed in  's are italic

Things enclosed in 's are telepathic communication through the Master/Padawan bond.

My Place is at Your Side

~ Part One: Storm Front ~

Obi-Wan:

            "Brace yourself!" I called over my shoulder to Qui-Gon, who was meditating in the back section of the very small, very compact vessel we had been given by the Seltec Government, "We'll hit a little turbulence entering the lower atmosphere!"

          Quickly changing the vector of our approach to compensate for the changing wind speeds, I grabbed onto the control console to keep myself steady. "Hold on!" I warned just as tremors seized the ship, making everything vibrate, including my body.

          Although I knew that the vessel was being badly agitated and thrown about by this planet's exceptionally strong air turbulence, its shock absorbers had the remarkable ability of holding us relatively still.

          Carried by an unexpected vortex of strong turbulence, the shuttle abruptly lurched forward and dropped nearly a hundred feet in altitude.  For a few seconds it felt like the floor was falling out from under me, as if I was hurtling through a hole in time and space that was sucking me downward.  An unsettling twang of pain raced up my body as my stomach leapt into my throat, leaving me feeling strangely and vacantly empty.  Pain rushed to my temples and the back of my head, momentarily clouding my vision around the edges.

          The vessel added to my dizzy confusion by convulsing and rocking everything back and forth in a persistent quake.  I could hear the hollow howling of the wind as we flew against its angry rhythms, now spinning out of control.  The sound seemed to echo in time with the pounding of my head as I struggled to fight off the pain.  

          Suddenly tremors began to wrack the ship with a fury far greater than the shock absorbers should have allowed.  Everything was being jolted about with a vicious violence and even as the Force was sending sparks of apprehension through me, a keening alarm began screaming.  The irritating noise seemed to pulsate through my ears and ricochet in my mind but gritting my teeth, I determined to ignore it.

          The control panels quavered under my fingertips as I worked furiously to stabilize the ship.  I studied the visual readout that displayed the ship's surroundings and with a measure of alarm, I realized that we were caught in some sort of pocket of rapidly changing wind velocities with no smooth way to escape.

          On impulse, I activated the emergency thrusters.  Using the pressure they created against the surrounding winds, I was able to regain complete control of the ship and stop its submission to the demanding turbulence, thus stilling the shaking as well.  The stability would not last long, I knew, but it would give me enough time to study the wind patterns and determine the safest course out.

          The first thing I did was shut down the annoyingly persistent alarm.  Then I took a moment for calm, deep breathing to ease my headache, before I worried about figuring out why it had been sounding.

          When I heard footsteps against the metallic floor of the cockpit I addressed my Master without turning around, "Are you all right, Qui-Gon?" I questioned, concerned that he may have been surprised by the ferocity of the wind shear.

          "I'm fine," he answered, coming to sit next to me in the co-pilot's seat.  "However, if that's what you call 'a little turbulence', I don't think I want to see your idea of a tempest," his voice was teasing, and I smiled.

          Slightly distracted by my attempt to discover what had caused the alarm to sound, my response came a little late.  "Sorry about that – it was a little stronger than I expected and I lost control of the ship for a little while.  Just be glad that that was with the shock absorbers," I joked, still rather distant.

          Qui-Gon cocked an eyebrow at me, "And here I thought that you were just trying to have some fun with your old Master – seeing if he could handle your rollercoaster like approach to landing a starship.  I see you even removed the seatbelts to ensure I would more thoroughly…enjoy the ride."

          I grinned, "Don't worry; I wouldn't do that unless you were asleep, and," I added, "it wasn't me who designed a ship with no seatbelts," I glanced around the cockpit, "this thing's an antique.  They must have given it to us because they knew you'd feel comfortable in something from your own century."  Even as I spoke, I marveled at the growing ease in our relationship which let me take such liberties with him.

          Instead of the soft chuckle that would have normally greeted such a joke, Qui-Gon asked, "What happened, and what was the alarm for?" his voice was serious and I knew the time for humor was over.

          Quickly, I told him what had happened, including the fact that I was having trouble determining why the alarm had sounded because I wasn't familiar enough with the ship.  All I knew was that one of the systems had malfunctioned.

          Sparing Qui-Gon a quick glance, I saw that his eyes were closed, his expression pensive.  At first I thought he was reaching out to the Force, searching for the answer within its expansive depths, but I could sense that he hadn't deepened his connection to it.  In fact, he seemed to have withdrawn into himself.

          "What are you doing?" I hadn't intended to speak so softly but my tone was a gentle whisper, as if I was subconsciously loath to disturb him.

          Qui-Gon raised a hand, signaling for me to remain silent, and stayed like that, with his eyes closed, for a few more seconds before answering me.  When he did, I was mystified by his question.  "Do you feel that?" he asked.

          I frowned, "Feel what?"

          "The tremors," he answered.

          Tremors?  I didn't feel anything, "There aren't any tremors," I countered, confused.

          He smiled, "Yes, there are.  They are very slight, but present nonetheless."

          Shaking my head, I decided to continue checking the systems for malfunctions.  In a few minutes I would have to power down the thrusters to keep them from burning out, and I needed to know what was wrong before I attempted to pilot us out of this whirlpool.

          "Check the shock absorbers," my Master ordered.

          Doubtfully, I did as he asked.

          Bringing up the shock absorbers' control panel, I checked the system's power output and felt a spike of fear shoot through me at what I saw.  The system was completely unresponsive.

          I closed my eyes.  The shock absorbers helped to keep the hull from rupturing by absorbing as much of the shock as possible before it could inflict damage, and by so doing neutralized most turbulence.  Without them, in a ship this size, anything less than minor disturbances could very well lead to breaks in the hull that would tear the vessel apart.

          All the information that Qui-Gon had forced me to memorize came looming into my mind.  This planet was known for its rapidly forming, extremely powerful tempests and even under normal circumstances its wind shear was classified as the most dangerous of any planet in the Republic

          Almost without meaning to, I dropped my gaze back to the visual readout and what I saw only served to make fear pulsate through my veins.  The eddy of wind shear we had been trapped in had escalated into a growing storm.  Our thrusters wouldn't last long against such powerful winds.  As soon as they went out, we'd be at their mercy.

          My breath caught in my throat and my heartbeat increased in my sudden anxiety.  An aching pain settled in my chest and I had to take several deep breaths to calm my rising fright.  Uselessly, I tried to fight off the hopelessness that was creeping through my body.  I could not rid myself of the unshakable feeling that this was only a preface of what was to come. 

          Qui-Gon, having sensed my emotions through our bond, was quick to question me.  "Obi-Wan?"

          "The shock absorbers are out and a storm front is forming around us."  I reported, swallowing hard.

          "Can you fix the system?" even in the face of this news, he remained ever calm.

          Shaking my head, I answered, "Not from here – the ship's designs aren't familiar to me, so unless you want to mess around with the wiring, we're in for a rough ride." 

          'Rough ride' was putting in mildly but I couldn't speak what I was thinking.  The average wind speed during a storm on this planet was over 50 miles per hour – we'd be more than lucky if we made it through this in one piece. 

          "Obi-Wan," I felt a reassuring tug on our bond accompany his voice, "if you reroute emergency power to the main and emergency thrusters, you should be able to use the emergency thrusters to keep us steady while you use the main thrusters to break through the turbulence before the storm escalates any more than it already has."

          Hoping that he was right, I hurried to switch the emergency power from the systems it usually covered, to the thrusters.  Once we cleared the turbulence I would be able to direct the power back to life support and navigation – where it would be needed if we experienced a power fluctuation.

          A loud, high-pitched beeping sound greeted my attempt to access the emergency power and it did not take me long to identify the problem.  "I can't reroute the power," I said, "It's not letting me bypass the safety lock."

          "You shouldn't have any problem with the safety lock, it's only there to prevent accidental redirection of important power," Qui-Gon mused, "are you sure that's the problem?"

          "Pretty sure, but why don't you try – just in case."

          Qui-Gon's hands flew out to touch the computer console – fingertips fluently moving over the different controls.  A few seconds later, the same beeping halted his actions.  "Obi-Wan," his voice was grim, "the safety lock isn't the problem…the problem is that there is no emergency power to reroute – it's somehow been drained."

          My chest tightened in response to my heightened alarm. 

          The emergency thrusters were still at full power but both the navigational array and the visual readout showed that the ship was beginning to lose ground against the attacking winds and was edging closer and closer to the storm.  As soon as the emergency thrusters went out, it would be battling the howling rages of an angry tempest.  How in the universe would we navigate through this without being torn to bits?

          The vessel was starting to noticeably tremble and the normally soothing wind was now a fierce battle cry, called out in warning just before the launch of a devastating attack. The sound sent chills through me and made the hair on my arms stand on end.

          Almost as soon as my fear had grown from a flicker to a burning flame, I felt Qui-Gon soothing me through our bond.  Waves of comfort flooded my mind but this time it was simply not enough.  For even as he offered me his serenity to latch onto, pictures of our desperately small shuttle, hurtling out of control through a thunderous storm, flashed before my eyes.

          A reassuring hand touched my shoulder, squeezing slightly.  "Obi-Wan," Qui-Gon's voice was patient but urgent, "it will be all right.  We'll make it.  We don't need the shock absorbers or the emergency thrusters to navigate the storm.  All we need is the Force."

          I shook my head, "The Force can't dissipate a storm and without the shock absorbers this ship will be destroyed.  Even if the hull can stand the battering, we can't.  Who will pilot the ship when we're hurled about the vessel and lose consciousness?"

          "Padawan, you're an amazing pilot.  You have extraordinarily fast reflexes and your abilities have advanced by almost astronomical amounts in the last two years.  Although you lack experience, I regard you as you a better pilot than me in all but one area – the Force.  You use the Force everyday of your life, Obi-Wan, but when you step into the cockpit of a starship, you seem to forget that it can help you there as well.  Open yourself to it, let it flow through you as you usually do and you will see that it can guide you through this as well."

          Before I even considered his words, I knew that he was right.  The Force wasn't simply something to be tapped into when one needed to release dangerous emotions, perform a daring physical feat, or "see" in an otherwise dark room.  It was the essence that surrounded all things in the universe and it was alive.  Over the years I had learned to let it guide me when I did not know what road to take – now it was time to let it guide me here as well.

          Relaxing my painfully tense body, I closed my eyes and let the Force rush through my body and soul.  Touching its brilliant light, I drew it into me and let its love calm the fear in my soul.  Within it I could sense peace and hope.  As long as I remembered all that I had been taught and was open to what it was willing to show me, it would always be there to help me find my way. 

          I opened my eyes, feeling calm and secure. 

          Through the Master/Padawan bond, I could feel Qui-Gon's pride in me, but had no time to take pleasure in it for despite my newfound confidence I soon realized that I had not achieved it quickly enough for the tempest.         

          A reverberating pop told me the emergency thrusters had just gone out and like a growing shockwave, a tremor ripped through the vessel, shaking everything with such intensity that it felt like the walls were coming apart around us.  Then, with long tentacles of destruction, the wind whipped around from under the ship and shoved its brutal force against us with such might that the shuttle was sent hurtling into the angry storm.

          The pressure of the abrupt movements shoved me out of my seat and sent me slamming forward into the array of computer consoles in front of me.  Colors blurred and intermingled, overloading my swimming vision as I helplessly tumbled without hope of easing my fall.

          The edge of the panel, hard and unyielding against my tender flesh, cut painfully into the skin of my chest with alarming ferocity – biting into me with snapping teeth.  Almost simultaneous to this came the sickening thud of my head smashing into the obdurate surface of the computer console. 

          Insistent agony washed away all semblance of coherence and rushed through me with unbelievable speed.  My forehead and temples were pounding pools of fiery torment and a terrible empty feeling spread out through my lungs, sending a stab of agony through my heart.

          Weakly, I coughed and sputtered.  Somehow managing to suck air into my abused lungs I tried to push the pain away but all that greeted my effort was a reproving wash of dizziness that made my breath catch in my throat.

          My mind was on fire.

          The rushing feeling of cool air against my sweat drenched, over-heated skin, gave my battered body the disorienting impression that I was plummeting backwards through the air.  Darkened pictures of red flickering lights and dull gray walls flashed before my eyes, but it wasn't until I became aware of my flaying arms that I realized I was falling.

          A loud grunt was torn from my lips as my back made contact with the firm but shaking floor or the shuttle.  Hitting down agonizingly hard, my arms and legs landed seconds after my body.  The shock of the impact left me momentarily stunned but the pain bounded in with alacrity.

          My thoughts were ablaze with acid.  Explosions of pain filled my mind and rung mercilessly in my ears.  Even though my eyes were open, I couldn't see anything – my vision was a swimming whirlpool of obscure shadows that threatened to creep forward and consume me in an embrace of thoughtless night.   Not caring that the ship would be torn to smithereens, not caring that Qui-Gon and I would both die, it eagerly encircled and ensnared my mind, drawing me forward as it laughed at my inability to fight it.

TBC…  (for those of you actually reading this, I'll try to post once every couple of days)