I know, I've been absent for quite some time now. Sometimes, we just need to step away from our projects in order to regain some inspiration :)
So here we are with chapter 30. We enter the final run of this story, since it only remains a couple of chapters left. I hope you will like this :)
I would like to thank all those who pressed favorite-follow and those reviews in my absence. It warms my heart to know people are still following my story even though I took a small break. It's good to be back. Don't be afraid to leave some comments! Kisses xoxoxoxox
Dear Carrie Fisher, rest in peace and May the Force be with you. always.
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi stood in front of the window in the living room of his quarters as the night slowly dawned on Coruscant, the massive skyscrapers of the city starting to glow brightly in the background. Even though he would always prefer a good view of nature, he started to miss enjoying the view of the Galaxy's capital, the black in his eyes keeping him from any view at all. Anyone looking at the Jedi Master would assume that the man was simply deep in though, looking outside while gently stroking his beard. No one, even those closer to him, could have guessed about the storm that was going on at the moment inside the man's head.
And even though he didn't want to admit it to himself, Obi-Wan was worried. He and Anakin had been Temple bound for the last week and Obi-Wan had been feeling more… tired than usual. Something he never had to deal with before. He now had to force himself out of bed every morning, which was very contradictory to his usual behavior that always put him on his feet before the sun itself was even rising. Not only that, he had big troubles concentrating during most of the Council's meetings, his brain didn't seem to want to follow the ideas discussed around the table and he always found himself wondering when the session would finally be over. If that wasn't enough, he found himself yawning at conferences, he had to drag himself to bed way earlier than before and he could not perform his usual katas without stopping halfway, out of breath and exhausted. He did not know how to explain it, but something definitely wasn't right.
To try and reassure himself, he had visited Luminara earlier that day. He had explained everything, every single detail that could possibly work to give her a clue of what was going on with his body, but in vain. After she had done every possible test she could perform on him, her smile was sad when she had told him that he might have to accept that he wasn't as young as he used to be. Obi-Wan had chuckled to himself while lowering his eyes; he was, after all, approaching his mid-forties. How ironic it was to think that the best Masters in the Temple were almost all older than him. Obi-Wan had wanted to protest, to remind Luminara of that fact, that surely something was wrong… but he had kept his mouth shut and simply thanked her before turning around and leaving the Halls.
As he stood in front of the window, a million of thoughts swirled around in Obi-Wan's head, each one trying to take over the other. Would Anakin's dreams be worth to be brought in front of the Council? He had been right about his mom after all: after dreaming of her suffering and screaming he had found her chained into a Tusken Raider's tent, broken by weeks of constant torture… But on the other hand, he had also dreamt of Padme dying in childbirth in incredible suffering, and, from what he had heard, the Senator couldn't have had a more peaceful labor… Then again, those dreams concerned individuals while the one he kept having at the moment concerned the Jedi… all of them…
He was so deep in his thoughts that he didn't sense a very familiar form who wrapped her arms around his waist and gently kissed his neck. "Hello there, my dear." Meila gently said, gently mocking her fiancé's sharp Coruscanti accent.
Instantly, Obi-Wan raised his shields and did his best to relax in his sweetheart's arms, joining their hands on his chest. Every situation was made better by Meila's presence, no matter how bad it was. He had been hiding his situation to her not to make her panic and he still needed to figure some things out before he approached her about this. Now was not the right time.
Meila snuggled her head against his strong back and sighed. "You're worried, Obi. What's going on?" She asked, concern flowing freely in their bond.
Obi-Wan turned around to face her, raising his hand to gently caress her cheek while painting a soft smile on his face. "What makes you think that, my darling? Everything is fine, as long as you're close to me…" He said, before lowering his head slightly to catch a kiss, stopping halfway; if he had caught anything, he certainly didn't want to give it to his sweetheart. Instead, he simply embraced her, keeping her close to his body.
But Meila quickly, but gently pushed him away, staring directly into his unseeing eyes. "I sensed you raising your shields as soon as I touched you. I know you, Obi. Something is troubling you and you don't want to worry me so you're hiding it from me. What is it?" She pushed, insistent. Obi-Wan just stood there, not knowing what to say. Meila sighed heavily, took his right hand and placed it right on the engagement ring on her left hand. "Feel that? We are engaged, remember? I though at least at this point we could be completely honest with each other?"
Obi-Wan lowered his eyes and brought his shields down, knowing she was completely right. He was such a fool sometimes. It was pointless trying to hide something from her. "I'm sorry, honey. It's just that…" Hesitation was obvious in his voice. How was he supposed to explain that to her? "Anakin has been having some dreams, lately. It… bothers me."
Meila raised an eyebrow. She obviously wasn't aware of the importance and significance of a Jedi's dream. "Dreams?" She asked baffled, crossing her arms around her chest.
Obi-Wan sighed and tried to find the right words. "Anakin is… well, very strong with the Force. More than any of us in the entire Order. Sometimes, his dreams can become visions of the future and we have been proven in the past that they are not to be taken lightly." He said, shivering at the thought of Anakin's mother. If only he had acted back then instead of just brushing the dreams away.
Meila paced around the living room, trying to digest what her fiancé had just told her. "So you're saying that Anakin can sense the future and that what will happen bothers you?"
"The future is not stable. It can be changed as easily as a flicker of a butterfly's wing." Obi-Wan interrupted, quoting Master Yoda's words about sensing the future. It was understandable that the Order discouraged this practice; if every Jedi acted on their vision of the future, the Order would probably fall within week, bringing the Republic with it. But Anakin couldn't control his visions, which was very disturbing.
Meila faced him, arms still crossed around her chest. "As instable as the future might be, his vision is still considerable enough to bother you, Obi. Please, tell me…"
For a moment, Obi-Wan hesitated. He didn't want to hide this to her purposely, but the thought of the Jedi Order to fall in the near future would make anyone shiver to their core. As he carefully made his way to the couch, Obi-Wan decided to keep the details to a minimum, for now. "Anakin is having visions about… about something that will attack the Jedi Order. Something that might weaken us considerably, even bring us down."
Stunned, Meila stood by him, speechless. She had expected something bad, but the downfall of the Order? No wonder her soon-to-be husband was so worried. When she found her voice again, she quickly joined him on the couch, snuggling closer to his warm body. For the first time in a long time, fears crippled slowly down her spine. Obi-Wan had always been so calm, so composed even in the middle of a battlefield. Now, seeing him worried… Meila didn't know how to react. She placed a reassuring hand on the Jedi's thigh. "Does the Council know about this?"
Meila's question set a whole debate in Obi-Wan's head: should he bring Anakin's vision to the Council? Was it a good idea for them to take action based on simple dreams? His poor former Padawan had been suffering from difficult nights for a while now; the dream had kept on coming, each time stronger than the other. Obi-Wan had had to send strong sleep suggestions to his lover to avoid her being woken up by Anakin's screams in the other room. The latter had been sent on an important mission the day before and Obi-Wan just hoped that these thoughts wouldn't distract him. Snuggling closer to his sweetheart, Obi-wan simply shook his head. "They don't know." Yet. He wanted to discuss with his former Padawan before bringing the subject on the table. If there was one person who could talk to the Council about this, it was the Chosen One himself.
Meila didn't question that answer. She trusted Obi-Wan's judgement on the matter. As she took a minute to observe him, she couldn't help but notice the dark bags under her lover's eyes and the tiredness hidden in them. With a smile, she lifted her hand to gently stroke his hair, making him sigh and close his eyes under the gentle gesture. "You look unusually tired, love. Is everything alright?" She asked, concerned.
The Jedi smiled and opened his eyes. Luminara's words kept on whispering in his mind. Nothing wrong with me. Nothing unusual in my system. Getting old. "Just a bit tired, my dear. I had a lot of classes today and I think the Padawans had previously planned to get on my nerves. For some reason, they couldn't' stay focused." He said, mildly annoyed.
Meila chuckled imagining the situation of an angry Obi-Wan trying to keep a dozen of excited Padawan in line.
"Not funny." Obi-Wan growled, but quickly defeated by a laugh himself.
Meila sighed happily and pressed her head against her lover's shoulder, appreciating the warm contact it brought. It was always a privilege to spend some time with him. But as happy as she was to be once again in his arms, she could feel in their shared bond how tired he was. Glancing at the clock, she noticed it was, in fact, getting pretty late. Keeping the Jedi Master awake was probably not the best idea. Shifting away from his embrace, she got to her feet and took the Jedi's large hands in her own. "How about I make you a good tea before bed?" She asked, confident it would make the Jedi smile.
It did, and Obi-Wan lifted himself to join her. "You know me so well, my darling… It would be amazing."
Meila took his hand and dragged him to the hallway leading to their bedroom. "You go get prepared, I'll take care of the rest."
Obi-Wan turned around and, once again, had to resist the urge to place a gentle kiss on her lips. "You're the best, love." He said before making his way to their shared bedroom. Tea would be just the thing he needed to put his ideas back in place. He could then sleep on them and decide of a course of action tomorrow. He would contact Anakin in the morning and if the dreams still went on, he would propose to the man to bring the subject to the Council. Simple and easy.
But the second he entered the room, he felt slightly dizzy and he had to hold himself on the door frame. Force, he was tired. Keeping his balance as best as he could with his head swirling around, he managed to walk to the closet and disrobe. As he looked at himself in the small mirror, his eyelids were very heavy and his desire to sleep was starting to overwhelm him. Gently lying against the wall, he growled in frustration. What in the blazes was wrong with him?! He could precisely remember those days just after rescuing Meila when he had been able to stay awake and focused for more than 96 hours in a row! He could even have stayed awake longer if it hadn't been for Meila forcing him to sleep next to her. And now he wasn't even able to pass the entire day without have the huge urge to either take a nap or go to bed early. Sure, he wasn't a young as he was, but this kind of significant change couldn't have happened in a year, could it?
Sighing heavily in defeat, Obi-Wan managed to put his sleeping pants and gave up on the shirt. His muscles were aching and all he wanted was just slip in the covers and enjoy some tea before going to bed. This was madness. He would go to Luminara first thing in the morning. No matter how healthy she claimed him to be, this was not normal.
As he slipped under the covers, he wondered for a second if he was the only one in the Temple suffering from this ailment. Surely he couldn't be? That was a question he was going… to… ask… Luminara… Tomorrow…
Taken by a sudden wave of extreme exhaustion, Obi-Wan fell into a deep sleep against his will.
The smell of lemon and mint leaves filled the small kitchen as Meila patiently waited for the tea to be ready. She had to give it to Obi-Wan; tea was really a good way to relax. Just the smell of the natural herbs was enough to put her at ease. No wonder her soon-to-be husband was so addicted to it.
As she placed the cups on a tray, her thoughts wondered to the man she loved waiting in their bedroom. He was obviously exhausted and it made her sad to see him this tired. From what she had heard, the man had been a hero many times in the Clone Wars, having been in a constant battle mindset for several years, taking difficult decision and having to deal with the pain of the death toll they left behind. Obi-Wan had always been the one to put the other's needs before his own. He would give his rations away even if he was starving or offer his shelter to someone in need even if that meant sleeping on the cold floor outside. Meila even knew the Jedi would willingly give his own life if it meant saving an innocent life. That was who Obi-Wan was. Meila couldn't help but think that all those years of sacrifice were unfortunately getting back at him…
The least she could do was doing everything in her power to make sure he was happy at home. Smiling on the idea, she took the tray and went to the bedroom.
When she entered, though, she found her lover already deep in sleep in their bed. He was lying on his back, a hand on his slow moving chest with his head turned sideways towards the door. He looked like a man who hadn't slept in days.
"Oh, Obi…" She sighed before placing the tray aside and sitting on the side of the bed. "What is happening to you?" she whispered, stroking a gentle hand in his hair. She stayed there for a couple of minutes, simply stroking his head before placing a gentle kiss on his cheek. "Sleep well, my love."
She took a minute to enjoy her cup of tea before joining him in the large bed, snuggling close to her lover before falling in the neatherlands of sleep herself.
Obi-Wan was vaguely aware that he was awakening the next morning. As consciousness slowly came back to him, he groaned and switched position under the covers. Even though he couldn't see the clock still placed on his bedside table, the Force was enough to tell him it was close to 10 in the morning. Blast it. Another late morning. For a moment, he was tempted to curse everything to Sith hell and get back to sleep for 5 more minutes.
With a long sigh, he pushed the covers aside and pushed himself up to sit on the edge of the bed.
Very, very bad idea.
His head was suddenly hit by a wave of dizziness, like he had been hit by a speeder. Taking his head between his hands, he groaned and took deep breaths, waiting for the feeling to go away. It took several minutes, but he was finally able to convince himself to get up. Slowly. Luminara could not say nothing was wrong with him anymore. When he got on his feet, he laid a hand on the wall to keep his balance; his legs were slightly shaking.
For a second, he debated whether or not he should take the time to get dressed. He felt so weak… Maybe he should work on getting something in his stomach, first. That might just give him the strength to get dressed and call Luminara. In this state, he doubted he could even walk to the Halls of Healing in one piece. Breakfast, it was.
Obi-Wan started walking slowly, greatly annoyed that he had to hold himself on the wall as he went. Just the idea of being incapacitated like this gave him cold sweat. Not only that, but his tired body started panting only half-way through the hallway. Blast it all. Normally, he might have ask Anakin for some help, but the young man was on a mission at the other end of the Galaxy and Obi-Wan would never even consider disturbing his brother for a simple weakness. Meila was nowhere in sight, either. Her shifts at the Halls of Healing started earlier in the day. He would have to do this on his own, for now. And why in the blazes was it so hot in here?
When he finally reached the kitchen, Obi-Wan painfully grabbed the first chair available and basically fell on it. The simple voyage had made him completely out of breath and he was fighting to catch it. Not good. Keeping himself together as best as he could, he placed his arms against the counter and breathed deeply. It was only then that his arm brushed a small piece of paper lying there. Taking it in his hands, he quickly found that it was written in the same language of the Blind Jedi's journal. Suddenly curious, he placed his fingers in the dots and started reading.
My dear Obi,
When I woke up this morning, you were still sleeping soundly and I couldn't find the heart to wake you up. I just wanted to let you know that I left for the Halls of Healings. Also, I noticed this morning that your skin was feeling rather hot and I took it upon myself to check your temperature. It seems you're having a small fever, which might explain why you were so tired last night.
I know you probably won't listen to this, but please take care of yourself? Drink a lot of liquid and don't push your body too hard. You'll be back on your feet in no time.
I love you
Obi-Wan dropped the note and cursed. A kriffing fever was the last thing he needed right now. As if his body agreed with him, he shivered violently. At least, it explained why their quarters felt like they were right under the twin suns of Tattooine. Groaning, he reached for the Force to call a protein bar. Even the Force seemed to act slower than usual as the small package made his way to his hand.
After his first bite, Obi-Wan instantly regretted it. He wasn't feeling sick per say, but his stomach clearly told him that it wouldn't take any more food for now. Well at least now he knew what might be affecting him; he had heard of several cases of Jedi catching some sort of stomach flu. Fatal to any non-Force user, but bearable for Jedi with boosted immune systems. Symptoms were fever, extreme fatigue and in some cases indigestion. He would just have to bear with the 24 hours his body would take to completely eradicate the kriffing thing. Defeated, Obi-Wan placed the bar down and lifted himself from the chair. He would attempt eating later. Now he just wanted to go back to bed, so badly…
He had a Council meeting at 1pm. If he allowed himself a small nap and avoided to eat food, he surely would be in better shape to at least participate by then. He would have the rest of the day to take things easy and be on his feet by tomorrow morning. Good plan. Groaning as his head felt dizzy again, he trained himself to the fresher's, stubbornly convinced to take a cold shower. His body felt like a hot furnace and some fresh water would definitely do him good. Again, he had to gain some balance from the wall to actually get to the room, which only reminded him how he hated being so weak.
The cold water was a relief on his hot skin and Obi-Wan knelt on the shower floor, letting his aching muscles relax a little under the ministrations of the water spray. The Jedi chuckled to himself, knowing that the last time he had been sick was all the way back when he was still a youngling. If Qui-Gon had been here today, he would have probably given him a pat on the back with a side smile, saying something like "you truly are special, young one." Special, indeed; he couldn't wait to see Luminara's face when he would tell her he had actually been sick. Force, if only he could actually sleep in the shower…
When he stepped out of it, the surface of his skin was feeling cold, but the fire in his body was burning hotter than it did 15 minutes before. He just needed to sleep it off. As his body shivered violently again, he slowly managed to dry himself and put his sleep pants back on before another violent wave of exhaustion took him. He just needed to reach the bed.
This was not good. He had just finished drying his body and he was already slick with sweat and shivering to the bones. His heart was beating like an angry speeder motor and his head swung. This was no ordinary flu. He had to call Luminara, get her opinion on this. This time she could not say he wasn't sick, since he was actually showing physical symptoms. He had a bad feeling about this. Especially because of Anakin's dreams: could they be right?
Comlink. Call Luminara. Obi-Wan stumbled as fast as he could to his bedroom where he had previously left the small device on his bedside table. He was feeling so hot yet so cold. He would have contacted his sweetheart via their bond, but his head was pounding to the point he couldn't concentrate enough. It was as if someone was constantly hitting his skull with a lightsaber hilt.
He needed to sleep. His entire body was screaming for him to just lie on the bed and close his eyes. As he finally grabbed his comlink with shaking fingers, he couldn't fight it anymore and collapsed on the mattress.
Mace Windu looked around the Council chamber as it slowly filled with its Masters. Today's meeting was of the upmost importance; after being defeated and completely inactive for more than a year, their reconnaissance team had spotted some separatists ships voyaging in the outer rim territories. They had sent a squadron of troopers to investigate, but they never came back. Mace sighed heavily and closed his eyes. Every single separatist leader had been terminated. General Grievous, Count Dooku, even Darth Sidious. The rest had been either lost in war battles or still caged in Coruscant's prison. He had made sure to check on every single of them. Not one of them even had the sightless chance to escape.
That could only mean one thing: someone, somewhere, unknown to the Republic authorities, was launching a Rogue movement with the help of what was left of the Separatists fleet. What bothered the Jedi Master the most was the fact that they didn't know exactly what this movement was doing. For all they knew, the battleships just voyaged in space, like they were in standby. The only information they could get from the battalion they had sent was that those ships were heavily armed and ready to fight. Not only that, but the battalion just… disappeared. No problem in communication, no sudden attack, nothing. The squadron just stopped instantly communicating with them. Bam, gone. This could not be good. Today's meeting would determine if they would send another battalion, paired with some Jedi Knights, to investigate.
Him and Master Yoda exchanged a look as they always did before officiating the Council's session, but as he was about to open his mouth to call the attention of the other Masters in the room, something stopped him. His eyes went straight to one very empty chair in the circle. He took a second to check the time; 1pm sharp. His first reflex was to sigh heavily and ask where was Master Skywalker (who tented to be late in Council's meetings) but the latter's hologram was present at his usual chair, displaying his body which was on mission lightyears away from the Temple.
"Where's Master Kenobi?" he asked, blinking to make sure he was naming the right chair. After all, Master Kenobi's punctuality had never been in question before. In fact, the Jedi Master had always been one of the firsts to arrive.
The question must have shocked the entire Council, since they seemed to notice their companion's absence quite sharply. For all they knew, Master Kenobi had never missed a meeting and if he had to, everyone knew he would at least notify someone. Their behavior was very odd coming from him.
Since the room was silenced by that realisation, Master Windu's voice raised in emergency. "Has anyone seen or heard about him earlier today?"
The Masters looked at each other, all of them waiting for someone to speak up, but none of them did. It became obvious that no one had heard of the bearded Jedi. Mace looked at the hologram of Anakin; the young Jedi was looking at him, a slightly terrified expression on his face. It suddenly reminded him that Skywalker shared a bond with the other men. "You know anything about this, Skywalker?"
The young Jedi looked like he was facing a mutated rancor unarmed, and Mace was convinced that even in that situation young Skywalker wouldn't look as scared. What was going on? "I'm… I'm unable to communicate with him. His side of the bond is muted…" Anakin said, a tremor of fear shaking his voice.
"Try his comlink, we should, before coming to any conclusion." Master Yoda said, as calm as ever, even though one could sense some concern in his deep voice.
Almost instantly, Master Shaak Ti grabbed her own device and pressed the familiar code to reach Obi-Wan. All Masters waited on the edge of their respective chair, waiting to see if the Jedi would answer. One ring. Two rings. Some Masters started to worry. Three rings. Master Shaak Ti looked at Master Windu in concern, but he gestured to wait. Four rings. Five rings. Six…
"Contact the Halls of Healings. Maybe my Master felt unwell and went there?" Anakin proposed, breaking the heavy suspense in the room.
All the Masters turned to face the young Jedi's hologram. "What makes you think Master Kenobi might be unwell?" Master Plo asked, doubt evident in his deep voice. Obi-Wan was known to avoid the Halls of Healing like the plague, after all.
Anakin's hologram looked hesitant as all the Masters waited for him to give an answer. "I just… I have a feeling that something might be wrong with him, that's it."
Mace didn't know what to say. What could possibly attack Master Kenobi to the point where he would actually go to the Halls by himself? It was Master Yoda who spoke last. "Contact the Halls, you should. If something wrong with him, find it we will."
Nodding, Mace took his own comlink and pressed the Halls of Healing's code.
Meila stood at the bedside of one of the small bed in the nursery of the Halls, where they healed and treated younglings. This particular child, a human named Äjak, had suffered from a big indigestion after stuffing himself with too much dessert at lunch. He was now laying on the small bed, a wet cloth on his forehead and a grimace on his face as he promised himself over and over that dessert would never go near him again. Meila smiled softly to the boy.
"Well, we can't really blame your taste buds, young one. I have to admit that this chocolate soufflé was very delicious!" she said as she pulled the cover higher on the small body. The child was to stay with them for the rest of the afternoon until his ailment had passed.
Äjak pulled a brave face and smiled, too. "Yes, it was m'lady." He whispered, before grimacing again. "Oh, my belly really hurts, miss…"
Meila pressed a gentle hand on the infant's shoulder. "I know, Äjak. Unfortunately, all we can do is wait for it to pass. You know where the bucket is if you need to throw up?"
Äjak nodded and pointed to the metal bowl sitting on top of the bedside table.
"Very good. Now, try to get some sleep while I go refresh your cloth…" Meila said before taking the now dry cloth on the boy's forehead.
Äjak nodded again and closed his eyes with a heavy sigh. Meila smiled sadly; she hated seeing a child suffer like this, but she found some sort of reassurance in the fact that she could make his situation better. Of course, there were several treatments in the Halls they could have given him to make him feel instantly better, but Luminara, knowing the gluttonous boy, had decided to give him nothing but rest in hopes that he would finally learn his lesson. Meila had to admit that it was the best course of action. Closing the light in the room, she left with the intention of coming back with the cloth wet and fresh.
But as she passed the main room, she couldn't help but overhear Luminara speaking to a voice who sounded very much like Master Windu. At first, she didn't put much attention into it, knowing far too well it wasn't her business, but the second she heard Obi-Wan's name, she froze, instantly stopping in her tracks.
"What do you mean he's not at the Council's session?" She heard Luminara say.
Meila's heart skipped a beat. When she had awakened that morning and had pressed a small kiss on her lover's cheek, she had found him to be quite hot. When she had opened the bedside light, the Jedi she loved was still sleeping with a small sheen of sweat on his brow. Meila's first reflex was to place the back of her hand on his forehead; she had not needed a thermometer to know that the Jedi was feverish, but just for the sake of knowing the truth she had grabbed one into the small medic pack in their quarters. The second she had managed to put it under the Jedi's tongue, the results were instant: 104˚F. With a normal human being, she would have panicked as this level was considered dangerous, but Luminara's teachings reminded her that a Jedi's body didn't act the same as the one of a non-Force user. Their systems could sustain higher temperatures in order to destroy any threats faster. 104˚F was a fever, but Luminara had made it clear that she shouldn't get concerned unless it went over 107˚F. Reassured, she had cleaned the sweat on his forehead and had left a note for him before leaving.
But now that she heard that the Jedi she loved was missing a Council's session, she grew concerned. She knew Obi-Wan enough to know that he would never miss those sessions. Silently, she stepped closer to the door in order to get an idea of what was going on.
"We were about to start, but he never showed up." Mace responded, concern painted all over his face. "He doesn't answer his comlink and Anakin can't seem to be able to join him in the bond."
The bond! Alerted, Meila closed her eyes and concentrated hard to reach her lover, only to bounce back from his side of the bond who seemed to be muffled, almost silenced. Panicked, she tried harder, but in vain. Oh no…
"Well, I'm sorry Master Windu, but he didn't show up in the Halls today…" Luminara replied, at a lost.
"He may still be in his quarters!" Meila interrupted as she entered the room without the Master Healer's permission. Mace looked at her with an eyebrow raised, but she didn't care for now.
Luminara, on the other hand, seemed very interested at what her apprentice had to say. "What do you mean? Tell me more, please."
Meila didn't really knew where to start. "Well, last night he seemed very tired and when I woke up this morning I noticed he had a fever…"
Mace looked exasperated. "Please miss, cases were Jedi are found with a fever are very rare and-"
He was cut off by Luminara who gestured him to shut up. She then turned to face Meila. "Did you take his temperature?" She asked, her voice calm but one could sense that she was onto something.
Meila nodded. "104˚F."
"Blast it, his condition might have worsened." She whispered to herself before facing Mace again. "I'll go investigate and I'll be back to you as soon as possible."
"Please do." Master Windu concluded before his hologram disappeared.
Meila felt panic rising in her chest at Luminara's words. What condition?! Did she know something about what was going on with Obi? Was Obi suffering from something she didn't know about? The Jedi had never been very… respective of his health. Was Obi-Wan in danger?!
"I'll come with you!" Meila declared, her voice clearly indicating that she wouldn't take no for an answer.
Luminara nodded as she prepared some of her tools to take with her, just in case. One could never be too sure, like Obi-Wan used to say. "I will gladly take your help, but we must hurry." She declared in a tone of emergency that could only make Meila panic even more. "There is a metal box on that shelter over there, could you grab it?"
Meila grabbed said box, frowned on how heavy it was compared to its size and quickly followed Luminara who was already leaving the Halls, ordering to her apprentices to take over for the time being. Meila found it difficult to find her breath, suddenly. Obi-Wan had been through so much lately, couldn't the Force leave him alone for one forsaken second?! He was such a good man, he didn't deserve all this suffering! Burying her anger deep in her chest, she ran to join Luminara who was walking in the direction of their quarters at a fast pace.
"What did you mean earlier?" Meila asked, out of breath, "Do you know what he has?"
"I don't." Luminara replied as they entered the turbolift leading to the quarters level. "But another Master came in yesterday, complaining about extreme fatigue and fever. But before I could do any examination on him, the padawans arrived and I had to take care of them first."
Meila understood why: a padawan had thought it would be funny to mix two very dangerous liquids in his chemical class, which resulted in a very toxic explosion. Thank the Force the chemical smoke had been contained to the laboratory, but all the class had sustained chemical burns and severe poisoning which needed to be treated immediately. The whole staff of the Halls of Healing, including Meila, had worked hard to make sure everyone of them would survive. It had been a big day. The responsible Padawan would probably be expelled for his actions. In the short time she had known him, Meila had never seen Master Yoda so angry.
"I was just about to start his examination before Master Windu called…" Luminara added, frowning.
"You think something similar might be affecting Obi?" Meila asked, desperate for any information that might calm her nerves.
Luminara pinched her black lips. "I'm afraid it is too early to tell."
When the door to Obi-Wan and Anakin's quarters opened, they found the apartment to be completely silenced. As they entered, Obi-Wan was nowhere in sight.
"Obi?" Meila called, loud enough for her voice to fill the entire place. No answer.
She exchanged a look with Luminara before making her way to the kitchen when she noticed something on the counter. Her note was at a different place than where she left it this morning and a small protein bar, barely opened, laid beside it. Luminara quickly joined her and, reaching for the Force, she touched the bar and saw everything. The way Obi-Wan had stumbled to the kitchen, read the note and then attempted to eat. She saw his grimace after his first bite and how he had almost immediately left the kitchen. The details of the vision were blurry, but there was something she was absolutely certain: Obi-Wan really looked unwell.
When Luminara came back to herself, Meila was looking at her with a concerned look, waiting for her to say something. "The bedroom, he must be in the bedroom." She said before he two women rushed in the hallway.
Meila was not prepared for what she saw entering the bedroom she shared with her lover and couldn't help a gasp from escaping her throat. Obi-Wan was there, collapsed on their bed, his entire body drenched in sweat, his comlink in his right hand. Meila shivered in horror realizing that the Jedi might have tried to call for help before falling into unconsciousness. Blast it! She should have stayed with him this morning! Force him to get help! At least request a healer at the Halls to check up on him! She could never forgive herself for this!
Luminara took the situation more calmly though and immediately opened her tool bag. First thing, she grabbed his chest and turned him on his side to allow him to breathe properly, thanking the Force that he was still breathing. The feeling of his skin against her palm made her flinch. "Force, he's burning up." She whispered as she confirmed that his airway was clear. "Meila, take his temperature again, please. I will try to see if I can see anything…"
As Luminara placed both of her hands on the Jedi's forehead to scan his body through the Force, Meila grabbed the thermometer in the Master Healer's bag and immediately placed it in her lover mouth. She sobbed as the numbers flashed on the small device: 111˚F. What a terrible decision she had made to leave him alone! She had never seen a body with such a high temperature. Her breath caught in her throat as all sorts of scenarios swirled in her head. Tears started to fall on her cheeks and she grabbed one of Obi-Wan's limp hand, panicking and not knowing what to do.
"Calm down, young one. I can't concentrate when you're broadcasting like that. Panicking won't do anything good for him. Center your energies." Luminara soothe, her eyes still closed as she searched in Obi-Wan's system for any clues to what was affecting him. "What is his temperature?"
Meila swallowed heavily and forced herself to breathe and calm down. She had been working under Luminara for quite some time now and she refused to deceive her. "It's…it's 111˚F at the moment." She declared, keeping her voice as steady as she could.
"Dear stars… I've never seen a body temperature rise so quickly, not in a matter of hours, so to speak." Luminara whined, still deeply concentrated in the Force. "We'll have to take him in. Get the box."
Meila froze for a second before she remembered the heavy metal box she had brought herself. Stepping away from the bed, she went to grab said box, groaning as she lifted it from the ground. What could possibly be in there? When she turned to face Luminara, the Master Healer had removed her heads from the Jedi's sticky forehead and gestured for Meila to bring her the box. But when Meila handed the box, careful not to drop it, Luminara passed two fingers above it and it opened under her orders.
"Step back." She said to Meila as the box slowly unfolded to reveal a floating medical table. Meila assumed that they would put her lover on it to transport him to the Halls. No wonder it had been so heavy!
She watched helpless as Luminara, with the help of the Force, lifted Obi-Wan from the bed in order to put him on the stretcher. The Jedi's body lifted in the air with no resistance and was slowly dropped on the metal table. As soon as he was installed, the stretcher formed a dome on top of his body, leaving only his head exposed. Meila assumed it was to give the Jedi some sort of privacy.
"Now, let's hurry back." Luminara declared as she closed her tool bag and punched a code on the stretcher so it would follow her.
"Have you found anything?" Meila asked, eyes pleading.
Luminara stopped in her tracks, bowed her head, hesitated. When she looked at Meila again, her eyes were lacking the confidence they always had. "I'm not sure… I still need to run more test back at the Halls."
Murmurs and whispers were heavy around them as they travelled back to the Halls. Obi-Wan's face was not unknown around the Temple and Meila was sure that every single living being in there had at least been in contact with her lover once. Being a Jedi Master, a Council member and a wonderful teacher, the name Obi-Wan Kenobi was often on every lips. The people walking in the hallways where they passed found themselves wondering what was going on with the Jedi Master, often asking Luminara if he would be alright. The Master Healer only answered that the Healers would do their best. They knew better than asking more questions. Meila followed Luminara closely, her head bowed to avoid any eye contact with anyone. Her head was too preoccupied to start answering questions.
The second they entered the Halls, Luminara ordered her apprentices to prepare a room and quickly the staff moved around. Meila allowed herself to breathe a little, knowing the Obi-Wan was in good hands. She was so focused on the body of her lover as Luminara and two other Padawans worked around him and she jumped slightly when a gentle hand caressed her shoulder. She turned around and saw long dark, curly hair. Leandri.
"Is everything alright?" She asked, her eyes bouncing between the unconscious Jedi Master and her friend.
Meila felt new tears in her eyes and suppressed a choked sob down in her throat. "I don't know."
Leandri gave her a gentle smile, trying to encourage her. "Don't worry, my dear. We'll stabilize him and we'll figure out what's wrong."
At the other end of the galaxy, Commander York growled in frustration and violently punched the wall of his cell. After two hours of searches and calculation, he could not find a single way to escape this blasted prison. Not only that, but he had kriffing idea where the rest of his battalion was. The guards (not droids, surprisingly) of this forsaken ship had taken all his communication devices and had ripped him of his armour. There he was, Commander York, leader of a five hundred men battalion, imprisoned and left only with his black tunic. The worst part was that he hadn't had the chance to contact the Republic whatsoever after their capture.
It had all taken them by surprise. When they had boarded the Separatist ship, they had been surprised that no attack had occurred. Sure, the ship was heavily armed, but as soon as the Republic Cruiser had gotten out of hyperspace, their enemies had hold their fire and basically let them in. Commander York had found it to be extremely suspicious, but after consulting with Master Windu, he had been ordered to continue with the mission and go investigate. Their prior objective had been to discover who was in charge and to bring him (or them) into custody for questioning.
The hangar had been quiet as a tomb; the only clue letting them know that the ship was actually running was the constant rumble they could hear which was coming from the ship's massive engines. Everything looked exactly the same as they could remember from the time of the Clone Wars. That, probably, had been their weakness. Since everything looked so similar, they had not paid attention to the hangar's ceiling, which had been considerable modified. The second the last trooper had stepped outside the transport ship, a ray shield activated around them, capturing them in a circle, impossible to escape. Before they had time to contact the Cruiser waiting outside, they witnessed, completely helpless, as the heavy canons of the Separatist ship blew the large Republic Cruiser to pieces. York had fallen to his knees, knowing that it had been too quick for the troopers inside to attempt any form of communication. They had fallen right into a trap.
While the other troopers were starting to yell in anger, York had grabbed his comlink, hoping the signal would be powerful enough to reach Coruscant. But as he was about to press the button, the ceiling started to electrocute them and the next thing York knew was that he was falling unconscious, the sound of his screaming battalion in the background.
He had woken up in this blasted cell. Unarmed. Out of solutions.
It was when he expected it the less that the door to his cell opened, letting in a tall hooded figure and two guards dressed in a red armour with a cape. Almost instantly, York fell into battle mode and jumped on one of the guards, convinced to bring them down and search for his battalion. But to his mortification, the guard was faster than him and quickly pinned him down on his knees, grabbing his short black hair and pulling his head back so the trooper would look at the hooded figure. York groaned while he tried to liberate himself, but the guard's grip was too strong.
When he opened his eyes to look at the hooded figure, his heart skipped a beat for a second: the traits of the man standing in front of him were oddly familiar, but York was sure he had never seen the man before.
"Commander York…" The tall man called, a side smile on his face, "The rest of your battalion had a pleasure of telling me how you would resist us… I must say, you disappoint me…"
York sealed his lips shut. He would not give in. He was programmed for this.
Suddenly, his throat felt really tight and he found himself gasping for air as his body was lifted in the air by and invisible hand around his neck. Looking at the hooded figure with wide eyes, he realized the man was Force sensitive. But… but this monster couldn't be a Jedi! There was no way!
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about this, Commander…" The man reassured, "I'm no Jedi, I'm even more than that."
Great. Another force wielding freak to deal with. Commander York though it had been over since they brought Sidious to an end. Guess he was wrong. He struggled against the invisible hand keeping him from breathing properly and groaned a loud as he could. It was as if the man was only chocking him halfway, keeping him on the edge before falling unconscious. Kriff, it wasn't pleasant.
"Now commander, if you don't mind, we're going to conduct a little experiment. Would you care to join us?" The man said, his voice as calm as if he were talking about the weather.
York Managed to take a small breath. "You… You will… n-never get any…ting from… from me. I'm programmed to…resist these kind of…situations."
The hooded man scoffed with a wicked smile. "We'll see about that."
Before he knew it, York was cuffed and brought into a large room kept locked by ray shields. To his utter surprise, a guard opened the door for a second and tossed him his blaster. York looked at the guard with a perplexed look, but the stern look of the man's face couldn't give him a clue of what was going on.
That's when he noticed a large window on the left wall, the hooded man standing behind it between his two guards. Instantly, York grabbed his blaster and shot directly at the window, which automatically bounced back to land on the opposite wall. York cursed under his breath.
The man, on the other hand, chuckled and shook his head. "Oh my dear trooper, do you think we would be stupid enough to leave this window unprotected? And I though you were programmed to be smarter than that…"
York growled loudly. "Tell me where are the rest of my troops!"
The hooded man smiled. "Oh, not to worry, we will. But before that, let's bring in a guest…"
A guest? What in the blazes was he talking about?
A door to the right opened and another guard pushed something which looked very much like a torture table into the room, a half naked man attached to it. At first, York didn't really know what to do about it, but after looking at the face of the man, he gasped loudly.
Right in front of him, battled, half-starved and barely conscious was Jedi Master Kenwood. Disappeared in a mission more than two years ago and declared dead by the Council three months after that. He looked like he was holding on life by a thread.
York was overconsumed by rage and stared right into the hooded man's eyes. "You… you MONSTERS!" He yelled before running to the Jedi Master, attempting to relieve him on this torture machine. "Don't worry General, we'll get you out of here in no time."
The Jedi Master smiled a little as a tear fell down from his tired eyes. "Thank… thank you, trooper."
There was a laugh in the background. "Even if you do get him out of that bed, where would you go?" The hooded man asked, crossing his arms on his chest.
"We'll find a way, I promise you that!" York yelled, finally detaching the poor Jedi from the table. The man was so exhausted and battled he fell directly into his arms, barely able to stand on his own.
"Listen to me trooper-"
York growled and turned his head to look at the window. "I will never take orders from you!" He spitted, supporting the body of his general as best as he could.
Another laugh. "Oh, but you will…"
York was just out of patience now. "I will no-"
"Execute Order 66!"
Suddenly, something shifted in York's mind and he found himself feeling dizzy, his vision becoming blurry. Order 66… Order 66… Kill off the enemy… Kill the enemy… Jedi… Kill the Jedi…
Good soldiers follow orders.
York let the body in his arms fall heavily to the floor. Kenwood groaned in pain, but didn't have the strength to get up.
Good soldiers follow orders.
York turned around to grab his blaster where he had left it, and pointed it directly at the Jedi Master's head.
Good soldiers follow orders.
Kenwood looked at him with wide eyes and lifted his hand, his only defence against the fatal weapon in York's hand. "Trooper, please…"
Good soldiers follow orders.
He pulled the trigger.
One of the two guards on the other side of the window chuckled. "It seems you were right, Lord Katharr. The chips Count Dooku talked about are still implanted in their brain."
Katharr smiled as the trooper, who not one minute ago was completely devoted to the Jedi, knelt in front of him, pledging himself to him. "Yes, my father never failed to update his journal of all his activities. This will be very useful to us. Get me the rest of the battalion. With the Death Star almost completed and the Jedi falling to the Spark, I will finally finish what my father started."